Excerpt Reveal- The Summer Proposal, Vi Keeland

January 6, 2022 | Posted in Excerpt | By

 

 

Title: The Summer Proposal
Author: Vi Keeland
Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance
Release Date: January 10, 2022
Excited about Vi Keeland’s upcoming release, 
The Summer Proposal? 
Check out this SNEAK PEEK of CHAPTER 1!

 

CHAPTER 1

 

Georgia

 

“What can I get you?” The bartender set a napkin down in front of me.

 

“Ummm… I’m meeting someone, so maybe I should wait.”
He rapped his knuckles against the bar. “Good enough. I’ll keep my eye out and stop back over when I see someone join you.”
But as he started to walk away, I reconsidered. “Actually!” I raised my hand like I was in school.
He turned around with a smile and arched a brow. “Change your mind?”
I nodded. “I’m about to meet a blind date, so I wanted to be polite, but I think I could use something to take the edge off.”
“Probably a good idea. What are you drinking?”
“A pinot grigio would be great. Thank you.”
He came back a few minutes later with a hefty pour and leaned his elbow on the bar. “So, blind date, huh?”
I sipped my wine and let out a sigh as I nodded. “I let my mom’s seventy-four-year-old friend Frannie set me up with her grandnephew to make my mom happy. She described him as ‘a smidge ordinary, but nice’. We’re supposed to meet here at five thirty. I’m a few minutes early.”
“First time letting someone fix you up?”
“Second, actually. The first was seven years ago. It took me this long to recover from it, if that tells you anything.”
The bartender laughed. “That bad?”
“I was told he was a comedian. So I figured, how terrible could it be going out with someone who makes people laugh for a living? The guy showed up with a puppet. Apparently his comedy act was as a ventriloquist. He refused to speak to me directly—wanted me to talk only to his dummy. Who, by the way, was named Dirty Dave, and every other comment out of its mouth was obscene. Oh, and my date’s mouth moved the entire time, so he wasn’t even a very good ventriloquist.”
“Damn.” The bartender chuckled. “Not sure I’d give another blind date a chance after that, even after a few years.”
I sighed. “I’m sort of regretting it already.”
“Well, if anyone comes in with a puppet, I got you covered.” He gestured toward a hallway behind him. “I know where all the emergency exits are, and I can sneak you out.”
I smiled. “Thanks.”
A couple sat down on the other end of the bar, so the bartender went to help them while I continued to stare at the entrance. I’d purposely taken a seat in the back corner so I could watch the front door, hoping to get a look at my date before he saw me. Not that I planned to ditch if he wasn’t handsome, but I didn’t want him to read disappointment on my face if I felt any. I’d always been terrible at masking my feelings.
A few minutes later, the restaurant’s door opened and a drop-dead gorgeous guy walked in. He looked like he belonged on a men’s cologne ad, probably emerging from crystal blue Caribbean water. I got excited, until I realized he couldn’t be my date.
Frannie had described Adam as a computer nerd. And pretty much any question I’d asked her about him, she’d answered, “About average.”

 

How tall is he? About average.
Is he handsome? About average.
Body type? About average.

 

This guy was tall, with broad shoulders, big, blue bedroom eyes, a chiseled jawline, dark hair that was sort of messy, but totally worked for him, and even though he was wearing a simple dress shirt and slacks, I could tell he was buff underneath. Frannie would have to be crazy to think anything about him was average.
Oh.

 

Oh!

 

Well, she was a little…different. Last time I went to Florida to see Mom, we went to lunch with Frannie, and she’d glowed orange from an excessive amount of self-tanner she’d bought on the Home Shopping Network. She also spent all afternoon telling us about her recent road trip to New Mexico to attend a UFO convention in Roswell.
But even with that factored in, this guy didn’t look like a computer nerd. Nevertheless, his eyes scanned the room, and when they met mine, he smiled.

 

Dimples.

 

Deep ones.
Oh, Lord. My heart did a little pitter-patter.

 

Could I be this lucky?

 

Apparently it was possible. Because the guy headed right toward me. I probably should’ve played it cool and looked away, but it was impossible not to stare.
“Adam?”
He shrugged. “Sure.”
I thought that was a bit of an odd response, but his smile widened, and those cavernous dimples seemed to turn my brain to mush.
“Nice to meet you. I’m Frannie. My mom is friends with Georgia.” I shook my head. “Sorry. I mean, I’m Georgia. My mom is friends with Frannie.”
“Nice to meet you, Georgia.”
He extended his hand, and when I placed mine in it, mine felt really…small.
“I have to say, you are definitely not what I was expecting. Frannie didn’t describe you very accurately.”
“Better or worse?”
Was he joking? “She may have described you as a nerd.”
He sat down on the stool next to me. “I usually don’t admit this when I first meet a woman, but I do have a Star Wars action figure collection.” He reached into his pocket and pulled something out. “In fact, I almost always have one on me. I’m a bit superstitious, and they bring me luck.”
Adam unfolded his big hand to reveal a tiny Yoda. He leaned over and set it on the bar in front of me, and a hint of cologne wafted through the air. Smells as good as he looks. There had to be something majorly wrong with him.
“Women tend to not like Star Wars for some reason,” he said. “Or a grown man carrying around an action figure.”
“I actually like Star Wars.”
He put his hand over his heart. “A beautiful woman who likes Star Wars? Should we skip the formalities and just grab a flight to Vegas to get married?”
I laughed. “Maybe, but first promise me you aren’t into ventriloquism.”
He crossed his heart. “Star Wars is as bad as it gets.”
The bartender came over to take Adam’s drink order. I was surprised when he asked for a Diet Coke.
“You’re not going to join me for a cocktail or a glass of wine?”
He shook his head. “Wish I could, but I have to work later.”
“Tonight?”
He nodded. “Yeah. I wish I didn’t. But I actually need to get out of here in a little while.”
I’d thought we were meeting for drinks and dinner, but perhaps Frannie had gotten that wrong.
“Oh, okay.” I forced a smile.
Apparently Adam saw right through it.
“I swear I’m not making that up. I do have to work. But I definitely would love to stay. Since I can’t, is it too early to say I’d love to see you again?”
I sipped my wine. “Hmmm… I’m not sure about that. Normally, I get to know someone on a first date, so I can weed out the serial killers and nutjobs. How am I supposed to know you’re not the next Ted Bundy if you’re running out of here?”
Adam stroked the scruff on his chin and looked at his watch. “I have about fifteen minutes. Why don’t we cut the small talk and you can ask me anything?”
“Anything?”
He shrugged. “I’m an open book. Take your best shot.”
I gulped my wine and turned in my seat to face him. “Alright. But I want to watch your face as I grill you. I’m terrible at hiding lies on mine but great at reading others.”
He smiled and turned, giving me his full attention. “Go for it.”
“Okay. Do you live with your mother?”
“No, ma’am. She doesn’t even live in the same state. But I do call home every Sunday.”
“Have you ever been arrested?”
“Public indecency in college. I was pledging a fraternity, and me and a bunch of other guys had to walk through the center of town naked. A group of girls stopped us and asked if any of us could hula hoop. Everyone else kept walking. I figured they were all too chicken, so I stopped. Apparently, the guys weren’t afraid; I was just the only one who didn’t see the cop coming out of a store a couple of doors down.”
I laughed. “Can you actually hula hoop?”
He winked. “Only naked. You wanna see?”
The smile on my face widened. “I’ll take your word for it.”
“Shame.”
“When was the last time you had sex?”
For the first time, the smile on his face wilted. “Two weeks ago. Are you gonna hold that against me?”
I shook my head. “Not necessarily. I appreciate the honesty. You could have lied and said a while ago.”
“Okay, good. What else you got?”
“Have you ever been in a relationship?”
“Twice. Once in college for a year, and then I dated a woman for eighteen months, and that ended two years ago.”
“Why did they end?”
“College, because I was twenty and…it was a crazy time in my life. And the woman I dated a few years back, because she wanted to get married and start a family, and I wasn’t ready.”
I tapped my pointer to my bottom lip. “Hmm… Yet you just asked me to go to Vegas and marry you.”
He grinned. “She didn’t like Star Wars.”
We were both too busy laughing to notice a guy walk up to us. I figured he must have known Adam, so I politely smiled and looked to him. But the guy spoke to me.
“I’m sorry to interrupt, but are you Georgia Delaney?”
“Yes?”
He smiled. “I’m Adam Foster. Frannie showed me a picture of you, but it was from a costume party.” He motioned to the side of his head, twirling his hand around in a circle. “You were dressed as Princess Leia, with your hair all pinned up on the sides, so you looked a little different than you do now.”
I furrowed my brow. “You’re…Adam?”
The guy seemed just as confused as I was. “Yes.”
Now this man looked like what I’d been expecting: worn, brown tweed jacket, cropped hair parted to one side—sort of the average Joe that worked in the IT department at your office. But…
If he was Adam, then who was this?
I looked at the guy sitting next to me for an answer. Though that’s not what I got.
“Did you really dress as Princess Leia for a Halloween party?”
“Yes, but…”
Adam, or whoever the hell the guy sitting next to me was, put his finger over my lips and turned to the man who was apparently my date. “Can you just give us a minute?” he asked.
“Umm…sure.”
As soon as average Adam walked away, I laid into hot Adam. “Who the hell are you?”
“Sorry. My name is Max.”
“Do you make a habit of pretending to be someone else?”
He shook his head. “I just…I saw you sitting at the bar through the window when I was passing by, and you had such a pretty smile. I came over to introduce myself, and it was clear you were here to meet someone else. I guess I sort of panicked that you weren’t going to talk to me since I wasn’t Adam. So I went with it.”
“And what if my date hadn’t showed up? Would you have pretended to be Adam on a second date?”
Max dragged a hand through his hair. “I didn’t think that far ahead.”
Normally catching a date in a lie would make me angry, but finding out Max wasn’t Adam was more disappointing than anything. We’d had great chemistry, and I couldn’t remember the last time I’d laughed so much meeting someone new.
“Was every answer a lie? Do you even like Star Wars?”
He held up both hands. “I swear. The only thing that wasn’t the truth was my name.”
I sighed. “Well, Max, thanks for the entertainment. But I don’t want to keep my real date waiting.”
He frowned, but nodded and stood. “It was nice meeting you. I guess asking for your number would be stupid right about now?”
I gave him a look. “Yes, it would. Have a good night, Max.”
He looked at me for a few seconds, then slipped a bill out of his wallet and tossed a hundred on the counter. “You, too, Georgia. I really enjoyed meeting you.”
Max took a few steps away, but then stopped and walked back. He again took out his billfold, only this time he peeled off what looked like a ticket of some sort and placed it on the bar in front of me. “I’d really love to see you again. If your real date turns out to be a dud or you change your mind, I promise I will never tell you another lie.” He pointed to the ticket. “I’ll be at the hockey game over at the Garden at seven thirty, if you would consider giving me another shot.”
What he said seemed heartfelt, but I was here to meet another man. Not to mention, I was really disappointed. I shook my head. “I don’t think so.”
With a sullen face, Max nodded one last time before walking away. I didn’t have time to process everything, but I felt a strange sense of loss when I watched him walk out the door. Though as soon as he disappeared from sight, my real date was next to me.
I had to force a smile. “Sorry about that. We, um, just had some business to wrap up.”
“No problem.” He smiled. “I’m just glad that guy wasn’t hitting on you, and I didn’t have to defend your honor. He was a tank.” Real Adam sat down. “Can I order you another wine?”
“That would be great. Thank you.”
“So…I take it you’re a big Star Wars fan?”
“Hmm? Oh, because of the costume.”
Adam pointed to the bar. “And the little Yoda.”
I looked down. Max had left his Yoda figurine behind. I guess he hadn’t been lying about being a Star Wars fan, considering he carried an action figure in his pocket. At least I hoped it wasn’t just a prop he used when he told strangers tall tales at bars and lied about his name.

 

***

 

Real Adam talked about artificial intelligence—a lot.
I tried to get my head back in the game after the Max letdown, but I knew before my actual date and I had finished a drink at the bar that this would be our only date. Adam was a nice-enough guy; there was just no connection, physical or mental. I wasn’t into computers or Bitcoin, which seemed to be a big thing for him, and he wasn’t into any of my hobbies, such as hiking, traveling, and watching old black-and-white movies. He didn’t even enjoy going to the movies. Who doesn’t love bingeing on popcorn and a gallon of soda while watching a big screen? Not to mention, when I told him about my work, he said he was allergic to flowers.
So when the waitress came by with a dessert menu, I politely declined.
“Are you sure you wouldn’t like a coffee or something?” Adam asked.
I shook my head. “I have to work in the morning. Having caffeine after noon keeps me up all night. But thank you.”
He nodded, though I could tell he was disappointed.
Outside the restaurant, he offered to share a cab, but I only lived eight blocks away. So I extended my hand to set the tone for the end of the evening.
“It was very nice to meet you, Adam.”
“You, too. Maybe we can…do this again sometime?”
It was so much easier to be upfront and tell a guy there wouldn’t be a second date when he was a jerk. But I always struggled with the nice ones. I shrugged. “Yeah, maybe. Take care, Adam.”
It was late April, but the cold weather just wouldn’t relent and allow spring to start this year, and a gust of wind blew while I waited at the intersection at the corner of the restaurant. I shoved my hands into my pockets for some warmth, and inside, something pointy pricked at my fingers. I slipped it out to see what it was.
Yoda.
His plastic ears were tapered to points, and there was a tiny chip on the left one. I’d forgotten I’d stuck him in my pocket when Adam and I had moved from the bar to a table. Looking down at him, I sighed. God, why couldn’t your owner have been my actual date tonight?
It had been a very long time since a man gave me the warm fuzzies in the pit of my belly—not since the day I’d met Gabriel. So maybe finding Yoda in my pocket was a sign? The light changed, and I walked a few more blocks, lost in thought.
Did it really matter that he’d pretended to be Adam? I mean, if he was telling the truth, he only did it so I’d talk to him. Let’s face it, if he had walked over and introduced himself as Max, I wouldn’t have invited him to sit down. I would have been polite and told him I was waiting for my date, no matter how gorgeous the man was. So, I couldn’t really say I blamed him…I guess.
I stopped for another red light at the crosswalk on 29th Street, this time at the corner of 7th as I made my way down to 2nd Avenue where I lived. While I waited, I looked to my right, and the neon lights of a sign hit me. Madison Square Garden. Now that was definitely a sign—quite literally. Between Yoda and walking right past the place Fake Adam had said he’d be…perhaps it was more than that.
I checked the time on my phone. Twenty after eight. He’d said he would be there at seven thirty, but I was sure the game took a few hours. Should I?
I nibbled on my lip as the light in front of me turned green. People on both sides of me started to walk…but I just stood there, staring down at Yoda.

 

Screw it.
Why not?
What do I have to lose?

 

The worst that could happen was that our initial connection fizzled or it turned out lying was one of Fake Adam’s hobbies. Or…the spark we’d had might lead to just the distraction I was looking for. I wouldn’t know unless I tried.
For the most part, I was pretty conservative with my choices in men. And look where that had gotten me. I was a twenty-eight-year-old workaholic, going on blind dates with my mom’s friend’s relatives. So screw it—I was going.
Once I made the decision, I couldn’t wait to get there. I practically jogged to Madison Square Garden, even in my heels from work. Inside, I showed my ticket to an usher standing at the entrance to the section listed, and he showed me to my seat.
As I walked down the stadium stairs, I looked around and noticed I was pretty overdressed. Most of the people had on jerseys and jeans. There were even a few shirtless guys with their bodies painted, and here I was wearing a cream silk blouse, red pencil skirt, and my favorite Valentino pumps. At least Max had been pretty dressed up.
I hadn’t noticed the row number on the ticket before handing it over to the usher, but the seats must’ve been decent because we just kept walking down toward the ice. When we hit the very first row, the usher extended his hand. “Here you go. Seat two is the second one in.”
“Wow, first row, directly in the middle on the fifty-yard line.”
The guy smiled. “In hockey we call it center ice.”
“Oh…okay.” But the seat next to the one he’d shown me to was empty, and Max was nowhere in sight. “Did you happen to see the person sitting in the seat at the end?” I asked.
The usher shrugged. “I’m not positive, but I don’t think they’ve arrived yet. Enjoy the game, miss.”
After he walked away, I stood looking down at the two empty seats. This was one outcome I hadn’t thought about: I might get stood up. Actually, would it even be considered standing someone up if the other person didn’t know you were coming? I wasn’t sure. But I was here, so I might as well take a seat and see if Max showed. He’d said he had to work, so perhaps he was running late. Or maybe he was already here, just in the men’s room or in line for a beer.
A woman sat on the other side of me. She smiled as I settled in. “Hi. Are you here to watch Yearwood? He’s on fire tonight, already slashed two in the net. Too bad they’re probably not going to be able to hold onto him for next season.”
I shook my head. “Oh. No, I’m actually meeting someone. I’ve never been to a live hockey game before.” Just as I said it, two guys slammed into the glass wall directly in front of me. I jumped, and the woman next to me laughed as they skated away.
“That happens a lot. You’ll get used to it.” She reached out her hand. “I’m Jenna, by the way. I’m married to Tomasso.” She pointed to the rink. “Number twelve.”
“Oh, wow. I guess I’m sitting next to the right person for my first game.” I put my hand to my chest. “I’m Georgia.”
“Anything you want explained, Georgia, you just let me know.”
For the next twenty minutes, I tried to watch the game. But I kept looking around to see if Max was coming down the stairs. Unfortunately, he never did. By nine o’clock, it was pretty clear I’d wasted my time. Since I had early meetings tomorrow morning, I decided to call it a night. The game clock showed less than a minute until the end of the second period, so I figured I’d wait until then so I wouldn’t be blocking people’s views as I climbed the stairs back up to the exit. These hockey fans seemed pretty into the game.
When the clock hit nine seconds, one of the guys scored a goal, and the place went crazy again. Everyone jumped up, so I did the same, only I used it as an opportunity to slip on my jacket. I leaned to the woman next to me and yelled. “I don’t think my date’s coming, so I’m going to head out. Have a good night.”
But as I turned to leave, something caught my attention on the Jumbotron. The player who’d scored held his stick up in the air celebrating, and a bunch of the guys on his team were whacking him on the head. His helmet covered most of his face, but those eyes… I know those eyes. The player took out his mouth guard, waved it in the air, and smiled right at the camera.

 

Dimples.

 

Big ones.
My eyes went wide.
No…it couldn’t be.
I continued to stare at the screen with my mouth hanging open until the guy’s face was no longer on it.
The woman next to me finished cheering. “See? I told you he was on fire. If this is your first game, you’ve picked a good one to watch. You don’t see a lot of hat tricks in a single period. Yearwood is having his best season ever. Too bad the rest of his team isn’t.”
“Yearwood? That’s the name of the guy who just scored?”
Jenna laughed at my question. “Yup. Team captain and arguably the best player in the NHL these days. They call him Pretty Boy for obvious reasons.”
“What’s his first name?”
“Max. I figured you knew him, since those are his seats you’re sitting in.”

 

 

★★★ 

 

 

 

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JANUARY 10th!

 

 

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Please note: There will not be an Amazon ebook pre-order, but it will be available on Amazon on release day.

 

 
 

 

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AUTHOR BIO
Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author. With millions of books sold, her titles have appeared in over a hundred Bestseller lists and are currently translated in twenty-five languages. She resides in New York with her husband and their three children where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.
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Blog Tour, Review & Excerpt – Scared to Love, Siobhan Davis

December 31, 2021 | Posted in Blog Tour, Excerpt, Review | By

It can’t work.

She’s too broken.a

He’s too young.

Scared to Love, an all-new angst-filled dark mafia romance set from USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Siobhan Davis, is available now!

A new dark mafia friends-to-lovers romance from USA Today & Wall Street Journal bestselling author, Siobhan Davis. Serena has felt trapped her entire life, living a lie because it was demanded of her. Years of torture at the hands of her sadistic husband have left her battered and bruised, but not defeated. She needs to stay strong for her children, and she’s determined to reset her future. The future she has all thanks to Alessandro. He saved her that fateful night when her husband died, and he continues to save her as she struggles to piece her life back together. Yet the closer they get, the more it terrifies her because no man has ever made her feel like this. It can’t work. She’s too broken. He’s too young. And she’ll never trust a made man again. Women never get under Alesso’s skin—until Serena. They share an intense connection that can’t be ignored, no matter how hard she tries to push him away. He knows she’s scared. He is too, but she’s worth the risk. Alesso vows to be patient, until danger resurfaces and now all bets are off. Serena needs to understand how much she means to him and he will do everything to protect her. The situation grows more tense as the DeLucas plot against Bennett Mazzone and the surviving mafia heirs. But Alesso will lay down his life before he lets Serena get hurt again. Now his walls are lowered, the gloves are off, and he’ll do whatever it takes to keep her safe. Even if it means letting her go. This is a full-length 105k-word novel with NO cliff-hanger and an HEA, set in the Mazzone Mafia world. This is the third and final book in this series. For readers who enjoy friends-to-lovers, second chance, reverse age-gap, dark mafia romance. May contain triggers – please read the note at the start of the book.

Download your copy today! FREE in Kindle Unlimited Amazon: https://amzn.to/3mfzcwv Amazon Worldwide: https://mybook.to/scaredtolove Add Scared to Love to Goodreads→ https://bit.ly/3FDI1bR Start the series with Condemned to Love→ http://mybook.to/condemnedtolove



Sandra's Review
5 out of 5 stars

Scared to Love is the third and final book in the Mazzone Mafia series by Siobhan Davis. Each book can be read as standalone but I HIGHLY recommend reading them in order since they all tie together. I love mafia and I love Siobhan so I am crazy about this series. It’s never boring with this family…

 

Serena’s life has been hell over the last twelve years. The only light in her life is her children. Her bastard of a husband tried to break her down daily and when he is killed she is relieved. It doesn’t mean she is safe, she is mafia after-all but she feels safer with her sister Sierra and her husband Ben. And him. Alessandro. A man who saved her once. A man who she trusts with her life. A man she could fall for if she wasn’t so broken. She believed he deserved a woman who wasn’t damaged and has a houseful of baggage. It really didn’t matter either way, she wasn’t ready and may never be for a man like him. What she doesn’t see is what he sees, a badass woman who could bring him to his knees and he wouldn’t even fight it…

 

But before he can prove it they first need to survive the unexpected. 

 

Holy twists, Batman! I absolutely love the way Siobhan’s mind works. The darkness. The twists. The angst. The chemistry. The connection. And the characters are truly badass in all the ways. I loved watching Serena’s journey and Alesso’s too. They both have scars inside and out. Together, I could feel their deep connection and I loved that Alesso is so swoony and doesn’t care who knows it. It was awesome to catch up with the rest of the family #FamilyGoals. I can’t wait for what Siobhan has planned for us next. 

 

Quotes: 

 

“You are so beautiful, Serena. Your legs are the stuff of dreams. Your body the ammunition for all my fantasies.”

 

“If you’re not my ally, you’re my enemy.”

 

“Fuck, he’s got it bad.” Leo jokes with Ben. 

“Fuck you. You are both every bit as whipped as I am.”

“Truth,” they say at the same time.

 

**I voluntarily reviewed this book after received an advanced copy. 

 

Excerpt  ALESSO  She slams to a halt, turning to face me. “I would never deliberately deceive you. That’s not who I am.” Fire underscores her tone, and I like hearing it.  “I didn’t mean it that way. I know who you are.”  The saddest expression washes over her features. “If that was true, you wouldn’t be standing here with me now. You wouldn’t be spending time with me each day. You would run a mile if you realized exactly who I am.”  I risk stepping a little closer. “I have known you long enough to know the kind of woman you are, Serena. I’d like to think you’ve known me long enough to know you could tell me anything, and it wouldn’t scare me away.” Reaching out slowly, I take her gloved hands in my bare ones. “I spend time with you because I enjoy it. I want to get to know you better. I want to support you as you deal with the things you need to deal with.”  “Why me? I’m too old. Too broken. I have kids. I come with so much baggage I’m completely weighted down with it. I—”  I can’t listen to her beat herself up any longer, so I place two fingers over her mouth, quietly shushing her as I prepare to negate each of her concerns. “One. You’re not too old, and I’m not too young. Age is just a number, and I refuse to allow stupid societal norms to dictate who I spend my time with or categorize the nature of that relationship. Two. Broken is subjective, and we all have our broken parts, but guess what?” I move my fingers from her lips to her cheeks, silently rejoicing when she doesn’t flinch or shy away. “Broken parts can be glued back together. Three, I adore your kids, and they are the cherry on top. And four, every single person in the world has some kind of baggage. It’s called life.”  Tears glisten in her eyes, spilling onto her cheeks. “You’re not real,” she whispers. “You can’t be.”  My heart aches for her because I see the mistrust and disbelief in her eyes. “I’m real, Rena.” Taking her hand, I slip it under my coat and over my shirt-covered chest, where my heart is currently jumping cartwheels in honor of her presence. “I’m as real as it gets.”  Copyright © Siobhan Davis 2021

About Siobhan Siobhan Davis is a USA Today, Wall Street Journal and Amazon Top 10 bestselling romance author. Siobhan writes emotionally intense stories with swoon-worthy romance, complex characters, and tons of unexpected plot twists and turns that will have you flipping the pages beyond bedtime! She has sold over 1.5 million books and her titles are translated into several languages. Prior to becoming a full-time writer, Siobhan forged a successful corporate career in human resource management. She lives in the Garden County of Ireland with her husband and two sons. Connect with Siobhan Subscribe to romance newsletter:http://smarturl.it/KennedyBoysList Amazon Author Page:http://smarturl.it/SiobhanDavisAmazon Website:http://smarturl.it/SiobhanDavisWebsite Goodreads:http://smarturl.it/SiobhanGoodreads Facebook page:http://smarturl.it/SiobhanDavisFacebook Facebook group: https://smarturl.it/SiobhanSquad Instagram: https://smarturl.it/SiobhanInstagram TikTok:https://www.tiktok.com/@siobhandavisauthor BookBub:http://smarturl.it/SiobhanDavisBookbub

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Blog Tour, Review & Excerpt – Change with Me, Kristen Proby

December 3, 2021 | Posted in Blog Tour, Excerpt, Review | By

Change with Me, an all new roommates to lovers, Hollywood romance from New York Times bestselling author Kristen Proby and 1,001 Dark Nights, is available now!

From New York Times bestselling author Kristen Proby comes an all new novella set in her beloved With Me In Seattle series…

Zane Cooper. Hollywood royalty. Fourth generation superstar. He knows what it is to be one of the biggest celebrities in the world. And how lonely that title truly is. When scandal hits, his career hangs in the balance, and Zane flees LA for Seattle, laying low with his newly married best friend. Things will eventually blow over, and he’ll have his life back soon enough.

Aubrey Stansfield arrives in Seattle excited to start a new job, and eager to settle into her new home. But when she arrives at her rental, Aubrey’s sure she’s imagining things because the uber sexy Zane Cooper is unpacking in her new bedroom. Thanks to a rental snafu, and unwilling to relocate on such short notice, Aubrey and Zane are thrust into being roommates.

Aubrey is about as average as a woman gets, so what could the megastar possibly see in her? She tells herself she’s not interested, despite their undeniable chemistry. But Zane is very persuasive, and soon Aubrey finds herself playing house with the most recognized man on the planet. Deep down, she knows it’s all a fantasy. He’ll head back to his posh lifestyle soon and leave her behind. No way could she fall in love with him.

But love doesn’t always follow the rules…

**Every 1001 Dark Nights novella is a standalone story. For new readers, it’s an introduction to an author’s world. And for fans, it’s a bonus book in the author’s series. We hope you’ll enjoy each one as much as we do.**

Grab your copy today, exclusively on Amazon! Amazon: https://amzn.to/3xoGhO1 Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/ChangewMe

Add to Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3yozaqj

 

Sandra's Review

5 out of 5 stars

Change with Me is number seventeen point five in the With Me in Seattle series by Kristen Proby! I started reading the series back in 2016 and have read most of the books. I am working on the ones that got by me. It is one of my favorite all-time series. Zane was in Shine with Me as Sabrina’s best friend. He made me laugh and I started to fall even then.
 
Aubrey is new to Seattle and a teacher. Zane is laying low after a scandal hit Hollywood. They both found the perfect condo, the issue you ask, it’s the same condo. After same banter and a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors they decide to share. The down to earth first grade teacher and Hollywood royalty. Aubrey wasn’t starstuck by the man but she wasn’t blind either. He was hot but she soon realizes he is also sweet, caring, and doesn’t care about his status. And Zane loves that she sees him. The real him. And he sees her. She might think she is Plain Jane but she is gorgeous to him in every way. He is only in town for six months, can anything truly happen between these two roommates who just met?
 
I absolutely loved these two! They are so much fun and even though the book is short, there is lots of story! I laughed, flushed, swooned, and even cried! God, i hope this series never ends.
 
Quotes:
 
“I’m not in an episode of I Love Lucy,” he replies. “Wait. Maybe I am. This whole situation is ridiculous.”
 
“You’re hot, and you’re a grade-A kisser? I don’t think that’s fair. There should be a rule against that somewhere.”
I grin and kiss her forehead. “It takes two to make a good kiss.”
 
“There are plenty of things about you that make you special, Aubrey.”

 

Excerpt

“Who are you?” My heart jumps, and my stomach jolts as I spin and see a man walk out of the master bath. He’s tall. He’s frowning. And he looks familiar. “The question is, who are you?” Why did I leave my purse—and my mace—in the kitchen? “You’re in my condo,” he retorts. “No, you’re in my condo,” I reply and cross my arms over my chest, trying to look mean. “This is two-oh-three A. Mine. If you’re going to murder-death-kill me, I’m going to ask you to take today off and do it to someone else because I’ve had a long drive, and I need to get ready for my new job. Now, see yourself out.” Is that me, sounding all calm and collected? I’m never this calm. Or collected. Seattle is clearly good for me. “I hate to burst your bubble,” the stranger replies, “but I’m not leaving. I leased this place, and I’m moving in today.” “But.” I frown. “I leased this place. And I’m moving in today.” I stomp out of the bedroom and head straight for the kitchen, opening my bag to retrieve my phone. I also set my mace on the counter, just in case. “I can show you the lease.” “Same,” he replies. “Landlord fucked up.” I blink, open my mouth, then close it again. “What’s in here?” He opens my pink box and surveys the goods. “These cake donuts are my weakness.” Before my eyes, he grabs one and takes a big bite. “So now you’re stealing my house and my food?” “I didn’t steal anything,” he says with a full mouth. “Well, except the donut.” “You’re going to have to move,” I inform him. “I already paid for the first month and the security deposit.” “I paid six months in advance,” he says, swallows, and then smiles. Suddenly, I know exactly where I’ve seen him before. This is Zane Cooper. The actor. The celebrity. He must see the recognition in my eyes because his go ice-cold. “I can’t afford to find a new place,” I inform him. “It took me a month to find this one. And it’s perfect for me. It’s less than six blocks from the school I’ll be teaching at, so I can walk every day. And it’s furnished. Plus, it’s close to the water.” “Definitely perfect,” he agrees. “Oh my God, why are you here?” I demand and prop my hands on my hips. “You’re a gazillionaire. You could literally go anywhere. Why do you want my condo?” “I’m not a gazillionaire,” he says and crosses his arms over his chest. “I’m more of a trazillionaire.” “Pretty sure that’s the same thing. So, go build your own building and live in it.” “Nah.” He picks a piece of donut out of his teeth and shakes his head slowly. “I don’t think I will. I’ll stay here.” I blink at him and start to feel helpless. My savings is in this place. I don’t have enough left to rent anything else. And I don’t have time. I start work in just three days. Part of me wants to cry, but I’ll be damned if I let this hoity-toity movie star see me upset. So, I do the only thing I can think of. I prop my fist on the opposite hand in a challenge of rock, paper, scissors. “What are you doing?” he asks, raising one sexy eyebrow. “The adult thing,” I reply primly. “Best out of three wins?” He blinks twice, looks from my hands to my face and back again, then shrugs one muscular shoulder and assumes the position. “Fine,” he says. “I’m going to win—wait. What’s your name?” “Aubrey,” I say and lick my lips. “Aubrey Stansfield. And you’re Wyatt Earp.” His lips twitch into a half-smile. “I only played him on TV.” I chuckle and say, “Ready?” “Go,” he says, and we thump our fists three times. I land on scissors. He fists for rock. Damn it. “Let’s go again,” Zane says. One. Two. Three. I land on paper. He chooses rock again. I grin, and his blue eyes smile back. There’s a reason Zane Cooper is the hottest sex symbol in the world. Good God, I might combust just from standing next to him. All the more reason to get him out of my house. “Last one,” I say. “Go.” One. Two. Three. I land on paper again, assuming Zane only knows how to use rock. But he forms scissors. I breathe deeply and reach for my last damn donut. “That’s mine,” he says, and I whirl on him. “This is mine,” I reply hotly. “I stood in a bloody line in Portland for it, just this morning. I drove all the way here from Arizona. I’m tired. I’m a little scared. And now I have you in my house, and you won’t leave. Even better than that, you just stole it out from under me.” “I won it,” he reminds me. “Fair and square. The donut, that is.” I stop and frown at him. “Huh?” “I won the donut. In the rock-paper-scissors game.” “I was playing for the condo, Wyatt.” He barks out a laugh. “Not me. I want that donut.”

About Kristen Proby Kristen was born and raised in a small resort town in her beloved Montana. In her mid-twenties, she decided to stretch her wings and move to the Pacific Northwest, where she made her home for more than a dozen years. During that time, Kristen wrote many romance novels and joined organizations such as RWA and other small writing groups. She spent countless hours in workshops, and more mornings than she can count up before the dawn so she could write before going to work. She submitted many manuscripts to agents and editors alike, but was always told no. In the summer of 2012, the self-publishing scene was new and thriving, and Kristen had one goal: to publish just one book. It was something she longed to cross off of her bucket list.

Not only did she publish one book, she’s since published close to thirty titles, many of which have hit the USA Today, New York Times and Wall Street Journal Bestsellers lists. She continues to self-publish, best known for her With Me In Seattle and Boudreaux series, and is also proud to work with William Morrow, a division of HarperCollins, with the Fusion Series.

Kristen and her husband, John, make their home in her hometown of Whitefish, Montana with their two pugs and two cats.

Connect with Kristen Amazon: https://amzn.to/30FCBgR Facebook: https://bit.ly/3oQ7iIb Twitter: https://bit.ly/3nzrD4Y Instagram: https://bit.ly/3qWnOJh Pinterest: https://bit.ly/3cwozjE Bookbub: https://bit.ly/3xfm2Ek Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3oFYnJe Newsletter: https://bit.ly/3DDahd8

For More information about 1,001 Dark Nights, visit: Facebook: https://bit.ly/37fl0uT Instagram: https://bit.ly/2Y7uBQp Website: https://bit.ly/2AIIr3A Stay up to date on all 1,001 Dark Nights releases, join their mailing list today! https://bit.ly/2zgxaHu

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Blog Tour, Excerpt & Review – Forever Wilde in Aster Valley, Lucy Lennox

November 18, 2021 | Posted in Blog Tour, Excerpt, Review | By

Can two strangers find love among the quaint chaos of an Aster Valley Christmas? Even if it includes the two most overwhelming and meddling families vying for the title of greatest matchmakers of all time?

Forever Wilde in Aster Valley, an all-new MM romantic comedy from USA Today bestselling author Lucy Lennox is available now!

When Miller Hobbs finds himself on a winter vacation in Colorado with the giant, exceedingly loud, Marian and Wilde families, he doesn’t quite know what to do with himself. He’s not really a Marian or a Wilde despite having DNA ties to both.

So every morning before the rest of the family wakes up and fills Rockley Lodge with holiday merriment (and noise), he escapes to the quaint downtown of Aster Valley where he spies a man through the bakery window kneading dough and dancing to music only he can hear. Miller is entranced by the dancing baker, and when Darius looks up and catches Miller staring, the interest suddenly goes both ways.

Can two strangers find love among the quaint chaos of an Aster Valley Christmas? Even if it includes the two most overwhelming and meddling families vying for the title of greatest matchmakers of all time?

Grab your copy today! FREE in Kindle Unlimited Amazon: https://amzn.to/3mAKhZU Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/foreverwilde

 

Kara's Review

5 out of 5 stars

Forever Wilde in Aster Valley is the ninth book in the Forever Wilde series by the fabulous Lucy Lennox. But it’s a Wilde, Marian, Aster Valley crossover and it’s hilariously fantastic! I haven’t read all the Wilde or Marian books, but I have read all the Aster Valley ones and you are in for a treat whether you’ve read them or not! If you haven’t, you are going to want to read every one of their stories! Miller is a new addition to the Wilde/Marian family and he’s not used to so many people and all the noise. When he takes a break to help Mikey pick up breakfast at the local bakery he didn’t know his whole life was going to change. Darius sold his chain of bakeries and moved to Aster Valley for a quieter, happier life. He loves baking and just going to work and making people happy. No stress. As soon as he sees Miller he knows he’s going to be someone special to him. Their romance is fun, sexy and sweet. The Marians and Wildes are so freaking funny! This story wasn’t only just fun and games. There were emotions and my heart broke a little for Miller and Tilly. There was a lot going on in Miller’s life with his new family and Darius was the calm in the storm. The sexy, delicious baker who was sweet and patient. I’m already looking forward to getting back to Aster Valley. Overall, I loved Miller and Darius’s love story and catching up with old friends and family!

Excerpt

The lady who’d brought me into the shop groaned. “The baby’s name is Conley, dammit, Hannah,” she said with a laugh. “Don’t listen to his Uncle Declan. And yes, he’s teething, so he’s been up for hours. It was a good excuse to come grab what I wanted before the crowds turn up and take all the good stuff.” I had no problem believing that they’d sell out quickly, considering how tempting the pastries looked and smelled. But I was still focused on something far more tempting than sweets.  While the young lady behind the counter began filling a bakery box, I moved to the side to try and catch a peek through the arched doorway into the back of the bakery.  I could hear the clank of metal sheet pans, and I spotted a glimpse of the baker’s denim sleeve rolled up over his thick forearm. His thick, tattooed forearm.  Oh, man. Tattoos, too? Hngh. My palms went sweaty, and I had to swallow past a lump in my throat. I was a sucker for a man with ink.  I tried to tell myself firmly that this baker was none of my business. That I didn’t know a thing about this man. That I was a tourist, for heaven’s sake, and I was already dealing with a ridiculous number of new people in my life on top of all my work stress at home. But none of it seemed to I found a parking spot on a side street and walked up the shoveled sidewalk to the bakery. A large plate-glass window revealed the baker himself kneading a giant blob of dough on a well-worn wooden table in the back of the shop.  Something about the sight stopped me in my tracks and caused me to watch him a little longer than I should have. A little longer than was probably polite. Maybe it was the rhythm of his movements or the fact he seemed to be talking to himself. Maybe it was the way he fit the landscape—solid as the mountains, warm as sunlight, simple and magnificent at the same time. Maybe it was the way his big hands kneaded the dough with such total competence that shivers danced up my spine. Whatever it was, I couldn’t look away.  After standing still a few moments, I realized he was singing. He had headphones on and nodded his head to a silent beat. The man’s face broke into a wide, white grin as his hips began to sway, and his whole body moved with the music as he went about his work.  The baker had a messy brown bun on top of his head and a short beard with dark brown eyebrows over an expressive face. I wondered idly if he had dimples I couldn’t see from this far away. His smile was breathtaking.  He looked to be around my age, mid-to-late thirties, but it was hard to tell through the window. He wore a denim button-down shirt under a beige apron sprinkled with flour. The rest of him was hidden by the table. I couldn’t stop watching him. I felt like a kid outside of a candy store with sticky hands pressed to the glass and big eyes filled with want.  I liked to think I was a fairly practical sort of person, a person who made the best of what he could have and didn’t spend his time yearning for things he couldn’t, but the baker had me captivated.  This one, a voice in my head whispered as I watched the baker’s biceps bunch and flex under his shirt. Yes, please “You have to try the melomakarona,” a woman said from behind me, startling me out of my weird, lusty fantasy. “I can’t believe this place hasn’t been overrun with people clamoring for it. It’s only a matter of time. Or…it would be if they’d do a little advertising or start a mail-order business for them. The only other place I know of that had Greek treats as good as these was a bakery I went to once in Chicago when I was in college. That place had people lined up around the corner this time of year, just to get the melomakarona.” I turned to face the stranger, finding it harder to look away from my baker—the baker, I silently corrected myself. The baker, who was in no way mine—than I could have imagined. The woman was bundled in a puffy purple jacket with a gray wool hat over blonde hair and had a baby strapped to her chest. She smiled at me way too brightly for this hour of the morning.  “What’s melomakarona?” I asked politely.  “It’s a Greek Christmas cookie made out of honey, walnuts, and orange juice. You have to try it. Come on,” she said, grabbing my elbow. “I’ll get you one.”  I couldn’t help but laugh when I realized I’d left my own meddling family just to find myself being woman-handled and managed by someone else’s, but I was more than willing to go along with any scenario that got me closer to my—the—baker. “Okay, if you insist. I hope they have good coffee, too.” “Definitely. And they also do an incredible kourabiethes cookie that melts in your mouth. The only reason I let myself come here so often is because I’m nursing. Surely that earns me some extra calories to spend at the bakery, right?” She continued her friendly chatter as she led me around the corner to the front door.  When we entered, I immediately felt at home. The warm space was extra cozy with an old brick fireplace in one corner and deep, comfortable-looking sofas and chairs clustered around it. Holiday music played softly from hidden speakers, and it was noticeably different from whatever up-tempo beat the baker himself had been playing in his headphones. The air was fragrant with sweet cinnamon and a dozen other spices I couldn’t name but wished I could.  A young woman smiled from behind the counter. “You’re up early, Tessa. Is Hoss teething again?” The lady who’d brought me into the shop groaned. “The baby’s name is Conley, dammit, Hannah,” she said with a laugh. “Don’t listen to his Uncle Declan. And yes, he’s teething, so he’s been up for hours. It was a good excuse to come grab what I wanted before the crowds turn up and take all the good stuff.” I had no problem believing that they’d sell out quickly, considering how tempting the pastries looked and smelled. But I was still focused on something far more tempting than sweets.  While the young lady behind the counter began filling a bakery box, I moved to the side to try and catch a peek through the arched doorway into the back of the bakery.  I could hear the clank of metal sheet pans, and I spotted a glimpse of the baker’s denim sleeve rolled up over his thick forearm. His thick, tattooed forearm.  Oh, man. Tattoos, too? Hngh. My palms went sweaty, and I had to swallow past a lump in my throat. I was a sucker for a man with ink.  I tried to tell myself firmly that this baker was none of my business. That I didn’t know a thing about this man. That I was a tourist, for heaven’s sake, and I was already dealing with a ridiculous number of new people in my life on top of all my work stress at home. But none of it seemed to matter. Something about this total stranger called to me, and I was dying to get a closer glimpse of him. . Something about this total stranger called to me, and I was dying to get a closer glimpse of him.

Meet Lucy Lennox Lucy Lennox is finally putting good use to that English Lit degree earned way back in the 1900s. She stays up way too late each night reading M/M romance because she is a sucker for a good story.

Connect with Lucy Facebook: https://bit.ly/3ABkjcV Instagram: https://bit.ly/3s472GI Pinterest: https://bit.ly/2VEtw4W Website: http://www.lucylennox.com Stay up to date with Lucy by joining her mailing list: https://bit.ly/3fSX6e7

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Cover Reveal & Excerpt – It’s Complicated, Kindle Alexander

November 18, 2021 | Posted in Cover Reveal, Excerpt | By

Title: It’s Complicated
Author: Kindle Alexander
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: December 7, 2021
Cover Design: Reese Dante

 

Nightclub manager Julian Cullen runs Reservations with impeccable precision and a deep sense of pride. But repressed memories from his abduction two years ago surface, leaving him struggling emotionally. Julian vows to reclaim his previous life but doesn’t factor in the biggest distraction of all: the handsome cowboy hanging around the club intent on gaining his attention.
Entrepreneur Beckett St. Clair built an industry-leading survivalist training company through hard work and dedication. The tough as nails outdoorsman can navigate any situation or so he thinks…When a chance encounter with a guarded night club manager leaves him tumbling head over heels into uncharted territory.
One man is lost to his past, the other dreams of a future.
Both men will soon find out love is never easy…it’s complicated.

 

 

“I’m being asked if table thirty-three can incorporate thirty-four into their party.”

Julian looked over to see a crowd of men gathered around the larger high-boy table. “No, give it some time. St. Clair’s a good customer. Get some barstools from the back, and let’s see if he arrives.”

“Hey, Julian. Have we heard from thirty-four? Is he coming in tonight?” Remington, another waiter, asked from about the midway point down the bar where he loaded his tray with cocktail glasses. “One of my guests wants to know.”

“Who wants to know?” Julian looked over to Remington’s section of tables as if a large red arrow would point him out.

“The older guy at table twenty-seven.”

Julian’s gaze locked on that table. All the men looked older, sophisticated, well put together, and handsome. Damn.

“Which one?” Julian asked.

“The older one,” Remington repeated, then turned with his tray full of drinks in his hand. “Is he coming tonight?”

So, the Marlboro Man had built a fan club involving more than just the club’s waiters and bartenders. Julian’s possessive side stood on guard. “We’re holding the table for him, but he’s late.”

Julian dug into the salad with his fork, stuffing a big bite into his mouth, and reached for the untouched glass of water nearby. He chomped out his frustration that the big, tall cowboy hat wearing mystery man was building some possible hookups.

Julian had watched as Beckett sat alone for hours at his table until some of the waiters were cut from their shifts and ended up joining the guy. Beckett had become a welcome patron in the club and his table a safe place for most of the guys who worked for Reservations to gather.

No, Julian hadn’t missed all the long lingering looks Beckett tossed his way. He liked the way Beckett watched him. Those intriguing brown eyes and that appealing gaze. Beckett was all man, every single inch of him. He knew that for a fact because he’d rubbed himself against all that masculinity when they’d danced.

An unexpected sensation had Julian dropping the fork in his hand to the plate, his gaze lowering to his trouser-covered cock. Holy hell, the way it plumped painfully against his zipper had his heart thumping wildly in his chest. The damn thing did, in fact, work. How long had it been since he’d grown hard? He couldn’t remember. Tears of happiness sprung to his eyes, making him fight to swallow the lump forming in his throat. Damn, it felt good.

How much had he had to drink? Regardless of his actions over the last few days, Julian had given up alcohol. Should he have been drinking this whole time?

“Boss, you good?” Ricco tapped the edge of the bar to gain Julian’s attention.

He paid the bartender no heed, not wanting to lose this moment. Julian had only had two cocktails over the last couple of hours. That meant he was practically sober, yet his cock was working again for the first time in a long while.

Under Ricco’s intense scrutiny, Julian’s cock deflated. He closed his eyes, bringing forth images of Beckett sitting alone at his table, rarely speaking to anyone. Every single time Beckett showed up or planned to leave for the night, his gaze sought out Julian. No matter how hard Julian fought the urge to turn Beckett’s way he eventually would turn, helpless to do anything but.

Beckett would smile and touch the brim of his hat. Fuck, what a sexy move. Beckett’s strong jaw and full lips, his dark tanned skin… Julian’s dick swelled at warp speed.

Hell yeah. Julian was helpless to stop the tear that built enough steam to trickle down his cheek. This had to mean he was healing, right?

“Julian. You good?”

He opened his eyes, prepared to share with Ricco exactly why he was great right now. His hand reached to wipe away the tear when the unique scent of outdoors, sunshine, and exotic spices hit his senses. Unmistakably Beckett. He looked over to see an expansive masculine chest and broad shoulders leaning into him as Beckett busted a move to avoid a collision with one of the busboys.

Julian lifted his gaze. Of course, he held all of Beckett’s undivided attention. They locked gazes for one, maybe two long seconds, before Ricco’s hand slapped down hard on the bar top, pulling Julian’s gaze toward Ricco.

“What?” He said the word with maybe three syllables of frustration.

Ricco showed zero cares about Julian’s obvious annoyance “Are. You. Goooda?”

“Mind your business. Concentrate on the job you’re being paid to do.” Julian motioned to the line of waiters standing at the bar, waiting for their drinks. But even that only held his attention for the briefest of moments before he happily lowered his gaze again to his dick. The damn thing was rigidly hard, straining against his form-hugging pants. Holy fuck. The relief was staggering.

Julian dropped his head between his shoulder blades, thanking the universe for this blessing.

“Mr. St. Clair, we were getting worried about you,” Ricco said.

“Call me Beckett.” The rich masculine timbre held hints of a deeply cultured southern accent, drawing Julian’s gaze to Beckett once again.

“A guy at one of Remington’s tables wants to buy your drinks tonight,” Ricco said to Beckett as he started to pour again. “He asked me to see if you’re interested when you came in.”

Julian’s head dropped forward; he couldn’t help his astonished stare. He got caught up in Beckett’s new look. Julian’s gaze narrowed to Beckett, admiring how he wore the hugely popular suit with the athletic cut. Beckett looked fashionable in a style that accented every one of his masculine curves and edges. He was clean-shaven with his hair styled and pushed back off his forehead. No cowboy hat to be found anywhere.

“Which table?” Beckett asked and turned toward the grouping of tables. His body angled to look where Remington pointed to a group of three men. Julian looked down the length of Beckett’s long body. He wasn’t wearing boots tonight or a tie. Instead, his collar was unbuttoned with a small amount of fur peaking from the opening. The look suited him. Julian’s fingers twitched to run over the man’s exposed skin. He’d bet Beckett had the same dark tan all the way down that expansive chest.

Beckett was mouthwateringly gorgeous in this new look. Who would have known the man could be even more handsome than Julian remembered?

Tonight, the man held an air of confidence that he didn’t usually have. Beckett lifted a hand to the men, grinned a sultry smile, and turned back to Ricco. “Buy his next round on me and tell him thank you, I’m flattered, but I’ve got my eye on someone else tonight.”

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

Best Selling Author Kindle Alexander is an innovative writer, and a genre-crosser who writes classic fantasy, romance, suspense, and erotica in both the male/male and male/female genres. It’s always a surprise to see what’s coming next!
I live in the suburbs of Dallas where it’s true, the only thing bigger than an over active imagination, may be women’s hair!
Usually, I try for funny. Humor is a major part of my life – I love to laugh, and it seems to be the thing I do in most situations – regardless of the situation, but jokes are a tricky deal… I don’t want to offend anyone and jokes tend to offend. So instead I’m going to tell you about Kindle
I tragically lost my sixteen year old daughter to a drunk driver. She had just been at home, it was early in the night and I heard the accident happen. I’ll never forget that moment. The sirens were immediate and something inside me just knew. I left my house, drove straight to the accident on nothing more than instinct. I got to be there when my little girl died – weirdly, I consider that a true gift from above. She didn’t have to be alone.
That time in my life was terrible. It’s everything you think it would be times about a billion. I love that kid. I loved being her mother and I loved watching her grow into this incredibly beautiful person, both inside and out. She was such a gift to me. To have it all ripped away so suddenly broke me.
Her name was Kindle. Honest to goodness – it was her name and she died a few weeks before Amazon released their brand new Kindle ereader. She had no idea it was coming out and she would have finally gotten her name on something! Try finding a ruler with the name Kindle on it.. It never happened.
Through the course of that crippling event I was lucky enough to begin to write with a dear friend in the fan fiction world of Facebook. She got me through those dark days with her unwavering support and friendship. There wasn’t a time she wasn’t there for me. Sometimes together and sometimes by myself, we built a world where Kindle lives and stands for peace, love and harmony. It’s its own kind of support group. I know without question I wouldn’t be here today without her.

Find out more by visiting www.kindlealexander.com or email me at kindle@kindlealexander.com

 

 

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Excerpt Reveal – Well Played, Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward

October 21, 2021 | Posted in Excerpt | By

 

Title: Well Played
Authors: Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward
Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance
Release Date: October 25, 2021
Excited about Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward’s upcoming release, Well Played? 
Check out this SNEAK PEEK!

 

Presley

 

Harper picked up the notebook that contained my to-do list from the table and opened to a fresh page. Clicking the pen open, she scribbled across the top.

 

To do with Levi

 

I chuckled. “Are we making a dirty to-do list?”
She wiggled her eyebrows and put the pen to the paper. “We certainly are.” “Tell me one thing you fantasize about doing with him.”
Yep, I was definitely drunk, because sober me wouldn’t have participated in this. Though, even in this state, I felt my cheeks blush. “Well, every day he goes out back and does pull-ups in that big oak tree. Sometimes I imagine he’s naked while doing them, and then I walk out naked, too. I wrap myself around him like a koala and he’s a tree, and he keeps doing the pull-ups. Hoisting us both up and down.”
Harper smirked. “Nice start.” She then jotted down koala pull-ups. “What else you got?”
“Well, I also have this running fantasy that I’m watching him do the pull-ups from my bedroom window with binoculars, and then I lie down on the bed and…you know…go to town on myself. And when I’m just about to orgasm, I look up at the window and see Levi with the binoculars. He’s watching me masturbate from outside.”
“Oooh… I like that one.” Harper wrote down voyeur masturbation.
For the next half hour, we polished off our spiked lemonades, laughed a lot, and added more than a dozen sexual to-do tasks to my list. It was the most fun I’d had in ages. But Harper had to fly home in the morning, and I didn’t want her to have a raging hangover. So rather than make another pitcher of spiked lemonade, I grabbed her a water bottle and some Motrin and told her to drink up before going to bed.
But as I walked around and shut off the lights, another fantasy hit me. “That peach cobbler we had for dessert at the restaurant was orgasmic, wasn’t it?”
“It sure was.”
I pointed to the notepad. “Sit on Levi’s face while eating that pie.”
Harper had been drinking water and spit it out all over the place. “Oh my God. That is most definitely going on the list!” She picked up the pen and spoke while jotting something down. “Double orgasmic peach cobbler.”
We started to crack up, but a knock interrupted our laughter. At least it interrupted mine. I looked up to find Levi standing in the doorway to the living room.
My eyes widened. “Levi… What are you doing here?”
His brows lifted. “I own half the place.”
“No, I meant I didn’t know you were back.”
He looked between Harper and me and seemed to smirk. “Oh, I’m back.”
My palms started to sweat. “I didn’t hear you come in. How long have you been…standing there?”
Levi tilted his head, and his smirk elevated to a cocky smile. “Not too long.”
Oh my God. I wanted to crawl into a hole and never come out. What if he heard? I suddenly felt pretty damn sober. “Umm…well, this is my friend Harper. She’s leaving early tomorrow, so we were just going to bed.”
He nodded. “Nice to meet you, Harper.”
Harper stood and hiccupped. She covered her grinning mouth. “Nice to meet you, too. Your family’s inn is beautiful.”
“Thank you.”
Her eyes shifted to me. “Although there’s a lot to do around here. Presley and I made a list. You might want to take a look at it and get going on some of the new to-do tasks we added.”
My eyes nearly bulged out of my head, and I lunged for the notebook on the table.
Levi squinted at me. “Everything okay, Presley? You seem stressed.”
“I’m fine!”
He nodded slowly. “Right.”
“Alright….” I grabbed Harper’s arm and tugged. “We’re going to bed. Welcome home.”
Levi never moved from the living room doorway as he watched me drag my friend out of the room.
Harper waved over her shoulder. “’Night, Levi. Enjoy your to-do list!”
Somehow I managed to get Harper to her room without her yelling anything too obscene. But for the next half hour, I lay in my bed with my heart pounding. What if he’d heard us? What if he’d been standing there listening the entire time? Oh my God. I covered my face with my hands. The things I said I wanted to do to him. My head began to ache, and tomorrow’s hangover hadn’t even started yet.
After another twenty minutes of lying there freaking out in the dark, my mouth was so parched that I needed a bottle of water. But there was no way I wanted to run into Levi again. So I cracked open my bedroom door and listened for any sounds of someone moving out in the common area. Finding it quiet, I snuck down the hall and peered around the corner to see if any lights were still on. They weren’t, so I breathed a sigh of relief and went to the kitchen for a drink.
I guzzled half a bottle of water before turning to slink back to my bedroom. But I froze at the sight of Levi standing in the kitchen doorway. My hand flew up to cover my racing heart. “Oh my God. You scared me.”
“Sorry. I was just going to head out to grab a bite to eat.”
“Oh…there are leftovers from lunch in the fridge, if you want. I made chicken pot pies this morning.”
Levi held my eyes for a moment. “Thanks, but I think I’m going to go out.” He walked over and leaned down to whisper in my ear. “I have a real hankering for peach cobbler.”

 

Oh.
My.
God.

 

My jaw dropped to the ground. I had no idea what to do or say.
Levi winked as he walked to the door. “Get some sleep. I wouldn’t want you to be too tired to work on that to-do list.”

 

 

★★★ 

 

 

 

Excited? We are too!

 

RELEASING
OCTOBER 25th!

 

 

 

Please note: There will not be an Amazon ebook pre-order, but it will be available on Amazon in Kindle Unlimited on release day.

 

 

Sign up for Vi and Penelope’s mailing list now and be the first one notified when it goes live!

 

 

Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author. With millions of books sold, her titles have appeared in over a hundred Bestseller lists and are currently translated in twenty-five languages. She resides in New York with her husband and their three children where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.
PENELOPE WARD

 

Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of contemporary romance. 

 

She grew up in Boston with five older brothers and spent most of her twenties as a television news anchor. Penelope resides in Rhode Island with her husband, son, and beautiful daughter with autism. 
With over two million books sold, she is a 21-time New York Times bestseller and the author of over twenty novels. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages and can be found in bookstores around the world.

 

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Excerpt Reveal – The Aristocrat, Penelope Ward

August 26, 2021 | Posted in Excerpt | By

 

Title: The Aristocrat
Author: Penelope Ward
Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance
Release Date: August 30, 2021
BLURB

 

 

From New York Times bestselling author Penelope Ward, comes a new standalone novel.

 

The one that got away. Every girl has one, right?
Mine was a charming, British aristocrat who turned my world upside down one summer.
From the moment I first spotted Leo in the distance through my binoculars, I’d been captivated. I certainly never expected to find a man showering outside of the property across the bay in his birthday suit.
Then I noticed his housemate staring back at me with binoculars of his own—watching me watching Leo.
That made for an interesting conversation starter when I inevitably ran into them.
Turned out, the handsome Brits were only renting that house for the summer in my seaside town.
Leo and I formed an instant connection, even though we were technically opposites by all appearances. I taught him how to dig for clams, and he taught me that not all wealthy and powerful guys are pretentious.
Despite knowing he was totally wrong for me, I couldn’t seem to stay away.
It was a wild and crazy few months. And before I knew it, we’d fallen in love.
We both had one wish: more time together.
But Leo had obligations back home. He lived a life I’d never fit into. And I was going to law school. So, we decided to end it and never look back.
A part of me always felt like I’d let my soulmate walk away.
I believed our story was over.
Until five years later when he sent me a letter that shook me to my core.
I’d thought my world was turned upside down that first summer?
Well, I knew nothing yet.

 

 

 

 

PRE-ORDER LINKS

 

EXCERPT

 

Hell.

 

Hell was the moment I stepped into the grocery store a few days later and nearly knocked right into him.
“It’s you.” He held up a long, phallic-looking baguette and shook it. “Remind you of something?”
My face felt hot. “Very funny.”
“I haven’t seen much of you outside over the last couple of days. Did we scare you?”
This was not Shower Guy, but rather the one who’d caught me peeping. He had a strong British accent and was extremely tall, with dark hair.
“I’ve just been taking a break from the backyard.”
“Too hot outside for you, eh?”
“Look, I didn’t intend to see what I saw. I’ve been into…birdwatching this summer. Then one day you two moved in, and I—”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa…” The other guy had appeared next to his housemate. “I’m sorry for anything he might have said to you just now. Rest assured, it’s all shite. He’s just playing around.” He, too, had a strong British accent. “I don’t believe we’ve properly met.”
“Although, you’ve improperly met…” his friend chided.
“Put a sock in it, Sigmund.”
Okay, so the asshole is Sig—or Sigmund. The previously naked one must be Leo, then. They were both tall and good-looking, but Leo, with his chiseled features, lustrous hair, and striking eyes was on another level—a total Adonis, and intimidatingly gorgeous.
Sigmund shrugged. “Surely she knows I’m just kidding.”
“But you don’t know when to stop. That’s always been your problem. Can’t you see how red her face is getting? You’re embarrassing her.”
Uh…how red is my face getting? This was mortifying. I couldn’t control that about myself. After all, I was a redhead with fair skin covered in freckles. Whenever I got embarrassed, I basically turned red from head to toe.
Leo’s tone softened. “I apologize for his rude behavior.” He held out his hand. “I’m Leo Covington.”
I took it, enjoying the warmth of his skin. “Felicity Dunleavy.”
The other guy offered his hand. “Sigmund Benedictus. But please call me Sig.”

 

Benedictus?
Been a dick-tus.
He sure had.
Fitting.

 

“Good to meet you,” I said.
“And you, as well, Freckles.”
Freckles? He couldn’t have come up with a more original nickname? I was self-conscious about my freckles, and typically wanted to murder anyone who dubbed me Freckles.
“Do you mind not calling me that?”
“Do you prefer a different nickname?” Sig asked. “Peeping Tom, perhaps?”
Leo gritted his teeth. “Enough. Seriously.”
“All right. I’ll behave. Going in search of tapenade for this bread.” He winked. “Be back.”
Relief washed over me as he walked away.
“I’m…really sorry about him,” Leo said.
“Well, given how you came to know of me, the ridicule is warranted. I shouldn’t have been spying.”
“I don’t reckon you anticipated seeing me in my birthday suit. That was the first time I’d ever done that. I assumed no one was in the vicinity, of course. For the record, I don’t make a habit of showering for all the world to see. I never had an outdoor shower in England. So it’s a novelty.”
Leo was simply striking. His hair was light brown with golden undertones. He had beautiful bone structure and full lips that were difficult not to stare at. There wasn’t one thing I would change about his face. His eyes were a deep blue. They reminded me of a piece of sea glass I’d used to make a necklace once.
I cleared my throat. “What brings you to Narragansett?”
“I’m taking six months off from life. It seemed like a good location to get lost. We picked this place randomly on a map, actually. Sigmund and I have spent our time in a few different locales. First was California, then New York, and now Rhode Island.”
“Are you two…together?”
His brow lifted. “What do you mean by together? We’re rooming together. But if you mean romantically together, then no. Exactly what did you assume?”
“I thought you might be gay.”
“If I were gay, I’d have far better taste in men than that wanker cousin of mine. What in God’s name made you think we were gay?”
“I don’t know. Two handsome men…living together in a big house…”
“So, if I’m a guy living with another man, I’m automatically shagging him?”
“You’re right. That was a hasty assumption.”
“Thank you for the compliment, by the way.”
I just called him handsome, didn’t I? Feeling suddenly hot, I looked toward the produce section. “Well, I’d better be going…”
“Before you do, I want to apologize for the flowers he sent your way the other night. I urged him not to. Not everyone appreciates that sense of humor.”
I shrugged. “It was fine. And they were pretty. I was embarrassed, at first, but then I ended up laughing about the whole thing. Mrs. Angelini certainly got a kick out of it.”
His brow lifted. “Mrs. Angelini?”
How do I explain who she is without unloading my history on this stranger? I kept it simple. “She’s my roommate.”
“Ah. Roommate. So she must be your lesbian lover, then.” He raised an eyebrow, and I had to smile. “Anyway, why do you call her Mrs. Angelini? She doesn’t have a first name?”
“Well, she’s seventy. It’s more of a respect thing. It’s what I started calling her some years back, and it stuck. She’s always asked me to call her by her first name, but I got used to calling her Mrs. Angelini.”
“I see.” His eyes seared into mine for a moment. “Your roommate is seventy. And how old are you, might I ask?”
“Twenty-four. What about you?”
“Twenty-eight,” he answered. His eyes lingered on mine for a bit. “Listen, we’re going to be renting the house across from you for the entire summer. We know virtually nothing about Narragansett. I’d love to pick your brain about places to go and things to do here. Maybe you wouldn’t mind coming over for tea sometime this week?”
“Tea? You really are British, aren’t you?”
“Guilty as charged.” His white teeth gleamed.
Looking down at my feet, I said, “I don’t know.”
“I promise not to take off my clothes…” He added a crooked smile.
I let out a much-needed laugh. “Well, since you put it that way.”
“Tomorrow at two, then? Or whatever time works for you.”
A part of me wanted to refuse, but why? It wasn’t like I had anything more exciting going on. I didn’t quite understand whether he genuinely wanted my expertise on Narragansett, or if there was something more to the invitation, now that I knew he wasn’t gay.
“Sure. Two tomorrow works.”
“Brilliant. You know how to get to the house without having to swim across, I take it?”
“Yes.” I smiled.
“Very well, then. And I promise, Sigmund will be on his best behavior.”
“I can handle it if he’s not.”
This seemingly rich traveler had no idea just how much I could handle. I might turn red when I was embarrassed, but I’d grown a pretty-thick skin over the years.
That’s the way it is when you always had to fend for yourself.
Copyright © 2021 Penelope Ward

 

AUTHOR BIO
Penelope
Ward is a New York Times, USA Today and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling
author of contemporary romance.
 
She grew up
in Boston with five older brothers and spent most of her twenties as a
television news anchor. Penelope resides in Rhode Island with her husband, son,
and beautiful daughter with autism.
 
With over two
million books sold, she is a 21-time New York Times bestseller and the author
of over twenty novels. Her books have been translated into over a dozen
languages and can be found in bookstores around the world.
AUTHOR LINKS
OTHER BOOKS BY PENELOPE WARD

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New Release, Review & *Giveaway* – Rules of Play, Lane Hayes

July 23, 2021 | Posted in Excerpt, Giveaway, Release Day Blitz, Review | By

Title: Rules of Play

Series: The Script Club #2

Author: Lane Hayes

Publisher: Lane Hayes

Release Date: July 16, 2021

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 53K

Genre: Romance, Brother’s Best Friend, Geek/Jock, Friends to Lovers, Bisexual-awakening, Contemporary MM Romance

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Synopsis

The genius, the mechanic, and a new playbook…

George-

My brother’s friend is hot. If you’re into flannel-wearing lumbersexual former jocks who eat donuts for dinner and still scribble to-do lists on their palms. I’m not. I’m a serious scientist in my final of grad school. Okay, I admit I have few quirks of my own. I also have a broken truck and a boss who thinks I can help him find love. I’m in over my head. Help!

Aiden-

A few quirks? Really? George the weirdest dude I know. He wears capes in public, brings a book everywhere he goes, and loves all thing spooky. He’s also the smartest person on the planet—who somehow thinks I can help him write a How-To-Get-A-Date playbook for his boss. Yeah, that sounds suspicious. I know baseball; I don’t know anything about love. But I can’t say no. I’ve always had a soft spot for George. I just didn’t count on falling for my best friend’s nerdy brother. This is against the rules, isn’t it?

Rules of Play is an MM bisexual awakening story where opposites attract and shenanigans ensue!

Excerpt

“The Script Club?”

I grimaced. “Well, yeah. That name came later.”

“You really are a little weirdo, aren’t you?”

The twinkle in Aiden’s eyes and his affectionate tone paired with an unlikely term of endearment were exactly what I needed to pull me from my infatuation-induced awkwardness.

I smacked his biceps playfully, then leaned against his side, staring up at the crescent moon in the twilight sky. “I am weird and I am proud.”

Aiden chuckled. “I like that about you. I like your idea too. It’s a good one. I should get in on that and collect a few new experiences before I quit the garage and move on to my next venture.”

“What would you do? I mean, what would you want to try?”

“I don’t know. Maybe something will come to me.” He set the half-eaten container of meatballs down and reached for his beer. “As for your boss…he needs a rule book.”

I shifted to face him. “What kind of rule book?”

“A dating rule book. It would be the equivalent of a sports playbook…a list of strategies and a backup plan if things go awry.”

“Okay, that makes sense. Step one, ask for a date.”

Aiden shook his head. “No. Don’t go in hot. Gotta practice a little finesse. It’s better to get to know someone—ask about their interests, share yours, and see if there’s anything there. Theoretically, that’s how I think it should work.”

“You’re right. They have to build a rapport.” I squinted. “He’s going to need an icebreaker.”

“Yeah, that makes sense. Hit me with your best shot.”

“Uh…what do you mean?” I stammered.

“Pretend you’re into me and you want to get to know me.” Aiden quirked a brow and wiggled his fingers. “Ask me something.”

“What are your interests?”

He made an obnoxious buzzer noise and rolled his eyes. “Wrong. That’s a date question. A lame one, too. Would you really walk up to someone and ask them what they’re into?”

“No, of course not.”

“Redo. You’re trying to get to know me, but you can’t be too forward, and you can’t make assumptions. Got it?” He waited for my nod of agreement and continued. “Pretend we’re standing at the coffee machine at work on a Monday morning. And…action.”

“O-kay…what did you do last weekend?”

Aiden smiled. “Good one. And my answer…not much. I went to that college ball game I told you about last week, watched a lot of basketball, made arrangements to schlep your Bronco here, and played pool with Kenny and a couple of high school buddies. You?”

“I studied and hung out with my friends.”

He stared at me long enough for me to wonder if I had meatball between my teeth.

“If that’s all you have to say, you just killed this conversation,” he deadpanned.

I chuckled. “I did not. It was your turn to ask <em>me</em> something. That’s how it works in real life. I’m not that big of a dork!”

“But what about your boss?”

Good point. “Newton is a big dork. Very big.”

“Right, so this is where rules come into play. You have to pay attention and take hints and clues to heart. Almost everything I mentioned about my weekend had a theme…sports. I told you what I’m interested in without announcing, ‘I like sports.’ If you really wanted to get in my pants, you’d ask me a sports-related question.”

I shot to my feet, whirling my cape like a true badass. “Who said anything about getting in your pants?”

Yes, I was entirely in favor of the idea, but I was pretty sure I hadn’t said it aloud.

“Isn’t that the end game?” Aiden flashed a devilish grin my way.

“No! I mean, maybe for you, but not for Newton. I don’t think he’s hoping for sex.”

“Then what’s the point?”

“Love!”

Aiden widened his eyes comically. “What’s that?”

“I don’t know,” I sighed in defeat, reclaiming my spot on the stoop next to him. “That’s why this is complicated.”

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Kara's Review

5 out of 5 stars

Rules of Play is the second book in the Script Club series by the talented Lane Hayes. This is an bisexual awakening romance with his best friend’s brother! We met George in Following the Rules, he’s Simon’s brother. Aiden is Simon’s best friend. Aiden has known George since he they were young. He always had a thing for him, but he never really knew what it was. When he saves the day and helps him repair his car, he realizes now what it is. Attraction. To a man. But not just any man. Just to George. Aiden isn’t scared or nervous, he wants to see where the attraction goes. George had a crush on Aiden when he was a kid. He’s big, burly and sexy. But he’s straight, right? Not if that kiss is any indication. Aiden needs George’s brain and George needs Aiden’s help when his boss asks for dating advice. It’s the perfect plan. They get to spend time together getting to know each other as adults and they get to explore their attraction with sexy kisses, make out sessions and so much more. They promise to always be friends no matter what happens. This is the happiest Aiden has ever been but he’s not quite ready to come out as bi. George wants Aiden to be happy, to live his best life. Will they be able to admit their feelings and have a future together? I can’t even express how much I LOVE Aiden and George. I was invested in them from the first paragraph and they have quickly become one of my favorite couples of Lanes! Aiden is so sexy in his plaid shirts, chest hair a few extra pounds. George is the best kind of weird with his penchant for wearing a cape and having a book with him everywhere he goes. I was laughing out loud, getting hot and bothered and not wanting this story to end!

Meet the Author

Lane Hayes loves a good romance! An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016, 2017, and 2018-2019 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a not quite empty nest.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Bookbub

Did you miss book 1 in the series? Get Following the Rules at Amazon

The geek, the jock, and a new set of rules…

Also available in Audio

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Excerpt Reveal – The Spark, Vi Keeland

July 8, 2021 | Posted in Excerpt | By

 

Title: The Spark
Author: Vi Keeland
Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance
Release Date: July 12, 2021
Excited about Vi Keeland’s upcoming release, The Spark? Check out this SNEAK PEEK of CHAPTER 1!

 

CHAPTER 1

 

Autumn

 

I’m definitely getting too old for this.

 

I tossed a pile of mail on the couch and plopped down beside it. It was barely six o’clock, and I wouldn’t have minded climbing into bed and calling it a day. I needed a vacation from my four-day mini vacation. Thank goodness I’d scheduled myself a weekend to recover. My girls’ trip/early bachelorette party in Vegas for my friend Anna—the one where we were all going to relax by the pool and get spa treatments—had turned into all-night clubbing and almost missing my flight home earlier today because I’d overslept. It had definitely been a while since I drank more than two glasses of wine in the span of a week, and I was feeling my ripe old age of twenty-eight before the sun had even set this Friday night. Thank God I didn’t have to work tomorrow.
I briefly considered going the hair-of-the-dog route and sucking back a vodka cran while zoning out on Netflix, but then my phone rang, crashing me back to reality.
Ugh…
Dad flashed on the screen. I should’ve just gotten it over with and spoken to him, but I didn’t have the energy. Nonetheless, allowing myself to avoid the stress speaking to my father would inevitably cause reminded me of the other thing I needed to do that I’d been avoiding all afternoon. Laundry. One of my least-favorite tasks—mostly because it required me to sit downstairs in my building’s dingy basement laundry room. Up until a few months ago, I would start my laundry and come back forty-five minutes later to make the switch to the dryer. But that practice had come to a halt after one of my loads went missing—an entire load of wet bras and underwear. Who the hell stole wet clothes? At least nab dry ones. Nevertheless, it was an expensive lesson, and now I didn’t leave the basement until my clothes were washed and dried.
Sighing, I begrudgingly went to the bedroom, where my suitcase still sat on the bed, and unzipped it. I’d packed a linen skirt on top that I hadn’t wound up wearing, and I figured I’d hang it in the bathroom and hope the wrinkles worked themselves out over the course of a couple of steamy showers. I hated ironing almost as much as I hated doing laundry downstairs.
But when I flipped open the top of the suitcase, my linen skirt wasn’t on top. At first I thought my bag must’ve been selected for search, and things hadn’t been put back in order… Though the wingtip shoe I lifted was most definitely not mine.

 

Shit.

 

I rummaged through the suitcase in a panic.
Slacks, running clothes, a men’s dress shirt… A sickening feeling washed over me, and I scrambled to look at the luggage tag. I’d never filled out the identification card inside, but the leather had my initials embossed on the outside.
And this one…had no initials.

 

Crap. Crap. Crap.

 

I’d grabbed the wrong bag off the luggage carousel. I started to sweat. All of my makeup was in that bag! Not to mention a week’s worth of my best outfits and shoes. I needed to get it back. Rushing to the kitchen, I grabbed my cell from the charger on the counter and Googled the number for the airline. After wading through a half-dozen prompts, I reached a recording.
“Thank you for calling American Airlines. Due to unprecedented call volume, your estimated wait time is approximately forty-one minutes.”
Forty-one minutes! I blew out a rush of air. Great. Just great.
In the meantime, while I waited on hold on speakerphone, listening to staticky music, it hit me that whoever’s luggage I had might very well have mine. I hadn’t even checked the luggage tag to see if, unlike mine, the identification information was filled in.
I zipped back down the hall to my bedroom.
Bingo!
Donovan Deckerkind of a cool name. And he lived here in the city! Thankfully, Donovan even had his phone number listed. It couldn’t be that easy, could it? I doubted it, but considering I still had forty minutes before I could speak to someone at the airline, I wasn’t losing much for trying. So I swiped to end my call. I started to punch in the numbers on the tag, and then decided to hit *67 first to make my number private. With my luck, the guy wouldn’t have my luggage, but he’d be a total creeper.
I was caught off guard when a man’s deep voice answered on the first ring. I hadn’t yet figured out what I was going to say.
“Uhhh. Hi. My name is Autumn, and I think I might have your luggage.”
“That was quick. I just hung up with you guys two minutes ago.”
He must’ve thought I was calling from the airline. “Oh, no. I don’t work for American. I traveled home this morning and must’ve grabbed the wrong bag at JFK.”
“What are your initials?”
“My initials?”
“Yeah, you know, the first letter of your first name and the first letter of your last name.”
I rolled my eyes. “I know what initials are. I just don’t understand why you would ask—Oh! Does that mean you have my luggage? I have my initials embossed on the luggage tag.”
“That depends on what your initials are, Autumn. The first letter matches.”
“My initials are AW.”
“Well, then it seems you are indeed the thief who clipped my luggage.”
Sure, I hadn’t checked my luggage tag, but it offended me that he was calling me a thief. “Wouldn’t we both be thieves? Since you’re in possession of my luggage?”
“I only took yours because it was the last one left rotating around the carousel. You see, unlike you, I checked the luggage tag the first time it passed, and when I saw it wasn’t mine, I left it for the rightful owner to claim. But the line at baggage customer service was twenty deep, and I had a meeting I was already late for. So I took the one I have hostage until the airline could sort it out.”
My shoulders slumped. “Oh. Sorry.”
“It’s fine. Are you here in the City?”
“I am. Could we possibly meet to swap bags?”
“Sure. When and where? I’m out now, but I’ll be back in an hour or two.”
The tag had an address on the Upper East Side, but I lived on the West Side, farther downtown. “Could we meet at the Starbucks on 80th and Lex?” That was closer to him, but at least I’d only have to drag the suitcase onto one subway.
“I can’t think of any excuse not to. What time?”
That was sort of a weird way to phrase a yes, and the way he emphasized the word excuse seemed odd. But hey, I was getting my bag back. So what if he turned out to be a little strange? At least I’d hidden my phone number, and we were meeting in a public place.
“How about eight?”
“I’ll see you then.”
It sounded like he was about to hang up. “Wait…” I said. “How will I know it’s you?”
“I’ll be the one holding your luggage, Autumn W.”
I chuckled. “Oh, yeah. Sorry…long week in Vegas.”
I bent and lifted the shoe from the top of the bag. Ferragamo. Expensive. And big, too. A quick peek revealed it was a size thirteen. The inner teenager in me couldn’t help but think big feet, big…. Plus, the guy had a deep, sexy voice. I would definitely be exploring more of the dude’s luggage after we hung up.
“I’ll meet you at eight,” he said.
“See you then.” I was just about to swipe my phone off when something hit me. Oh God! “Hello? Wait…are you still there?”
It took a heartbeat or two, but the sexy voice came back on the line. “What’s up?”
“Ummm… Did you…open my bag?”
“I unzipped it at the airport to make sure it wasn’t mine when I noticed the luggage tag initials.”
“Did you…see anything?”
“There was a pink thong on top, so that pretty much sealed the deal that it didn’t belong to me. But I didn’t rummage through, if that’s what you’re asking.”
I forgot I’d shoved that thong in at the last minute. It had been at the back of a drawer when I’d checked the hotel room one last time on my way out. But I’d take him seeing my underwear over the other stuff inside my bag. I blew out a sigh of relief. “Okay, that’s great. Thank you. I’ll see you at eight at Starbucks.”
“Whoa. Hang on a second—not so fast. You sounded pretty nervous that I might’ve gone through your bag. Are you hiding something sinister in there? I’m not going to be walking around with a suitcase full of drugs or something, am I?”
I cracked a smile. “No, definitely not. I just…I’d prefer if you didn’t go through it.”
“Did you rummage through mine?”
I glanced at the shoe in my hand. Taking out one measly piece of footwear wouldn’t be considered rummaging, right? Nah. “No, I didn’t.”
“Are you planning on it?” he asked.
I had no idea what the man looked like, yet I could tell by his voice that he was smiling now.
“Nope,” I lied.
“Alright. Then we have a deal. I won’t go through your bag, and you won’t go through mine.”
“Okay. Thank you.”
“Do I have your word on that, Autumn W? I might have some things I’d prefer you didn’t see in there.”
“Like what?”
He chuckled. “See you at eight.”
After we hung up, I tossed the shoe back into the suitcase and bent to close it. But as I reached for the zipper, my curiosity got the best of me. Was he just screwing with me, or did he really have something in here he didn’t want me to see? Of course, I knew what I had in mine, which made me extra curious.
I shook my head and started to pull the zipper closed. About halfway, I laughed out loud. Who was I kidding? Now that I didn’t have laundry to do, I had almost a full two hours to kill before I met Mr. Bigfoot. This suitcase would taunt me all that time. I’d most certainly give in eventually, so why not put myself out of that misery and just take a little look-see inside now? Then I’d be able to relax. He’d never know I hadn’t lived up to my end of the bargain. Not to mention, for all I knew, he was elbow deep in my suitcase right now. In that case, it would only be fair that I got to go through his, right?
I nibbled my lip for a few seconds as a wave of guilt washed over me. But I quickly forced that out of my mind. Of course I’m right.
Feeling justified now, I unzipped the suitcase and took a minute to mentally note how everything was packed: a white dress shirt was folded on top, and two shoes were set on either side, heels facing up. I carefully unpacked those and placed them on the bed next to the suitcase in the same order. The next layer had more folded clothes: two expensive dress shirts, a pair of sweats, boxer briefs, and a few T-shirts, one of which had something emblazoned on the front—familiar lettering that began HA—so I unfolded it to see what it said. Harvard Law.
Ugh. One of those. No wonder he could afford Ferragamo shoes.
Underneath the pile of clothes was a white laundry bag—the kind a hotel gives you to put your dry cleaning in, but most people used it to separate their dirty clothes. With no desire to sort through smelly socks, I started to fold the clothes back into the suitcase, feeling a twinge of disappointment. But when I smoothed out the layers of the pile, I felt something lumpy and hard underneath in the plastic laundry bag. So I took the clothes back out and looked inside, hoping to find…I’m not sure what. Though what I found was definitely not what I expected.
The bag was filled with at least twenty or thirty of those little shampoo bottles hotels give out. Actually, a closer inspection revealed some were conditioner and a few were moisturizer. Buried on the very bottom were also three little sewing kits and half-a-dozen toothbrushes wrapped in plastic—the kind you could get at the front desk of a hotel when you forgot yours.
What the heck had Mr. Bigfoot done? Rob a housekeeping cart? This kind of stuff, though a lesser quantity, is what you’d usually find in my suitcase since I was broke all the time. But it wasn’t the type of thing you’d expect in the suitcase of a man who had gone to Harvard and wore seven-hundred-dollar dress shoes.
Now I was even more curious to meet Donovan Decker.
***
I arrived at Starbucks almost twenty minutes early, so I went online to treat myself to a flat white with honey almond milk. Even ordering it had me salivating, thinking about the sweet, creamy drink. Expensive coffee was my indulgence, but it didn’t happen too often with the five-dollar price tag and my skimpy budget.
I stood at the end of the counter, waiting for my drink and mindlessly scrolling on my phone, when a man walking through the front door caught my attention.

 

Oh, wow.

 

Now that was one good-looking man. Describing him as merely tall, dark, and handsome didn’t cut it, not by a mile. Jet-black hair framed a magnificent face with a chiseled, masculine bone structure, full lips, and a Romanesque nose. I wasn’t the only one to notice, either. I watched as the Adonis took a step back outside to hold the door open for a woman exiting the store, and the poor lady caught one glimpse of him and literally tripped over her own feet.
Seemingly oblivious that he’d caused the incident, he extended a hand to help her up, flashed a killer smile, and strolled inside. His bright blue eyes scanned the room, stopping right on my ogling ones. Embarrassed at being caught, I quickly diverted my attention back to my phone. A few seconds later, I was still pretending to be enraptured by my screen when footsteps came to a halt in front of me. I glanced up and blinked a few times. The guy from the door flashed a crooked smile.
“Were you able to control yourself?”
My forehead wrinkled. “Excuse me?”
His eyes danced with mirth, and his voice lowered. “I bet you couldn’t.”
I stared at him for an awkward moment before finally shaking my head. “What on Earth are you talking about?”
The man’s brows furrowed. “We made a deal, remember? I wouldn’t go through yours, if you didn’t touch mine?”
I’d watched the man walk in, stood right in front of him staring for at least a solid minute, and it took until now for me to notice he had something in his hand.
“Oh my God. You have my suitcase!”
He laughed but still looked perplexed. “What did you think I was talking about?”
“I…I don’t know. I was thoroughly confused.”
“I thought you saw me walk in.”
I did. But I hadn’t made it past your face. “No, I hadn’t noticed. Sorry. I guess I was just zoning out.”
The barista behind the counter yelled my name. I was glad for an excuse to put some distance between this guy and me. I needed a moment to gather my wits. Though when I returned, I still felt a little off-kilter.
“Thank you for meeting me to swap suitcases,” I said. “I’m really sorry I took the wrong one.”
“No problem.”
I rolled his case forward and released the handle. But the Adonis didn’t do the same. In fact, he pulled my bag closer to his side.
“Before we switch…” He tilted his head and studied my face. “I’m curious to know if you kept your word.”
I mimicked his pose and tilted my head. “What if I say I didn’t?”
“Well, then you’d have to pay a penalty for violating the terms of our deal.”
I raised a brow, intrigued. “A penalty?”
He nodded. “That’s right. There’s a penalty.”
I laughed as I lifted my coffee for a sip. “I just got back from a girls’ weekend in Vegas. Pretty sure this overpriced drink just used up the last five dollars in my bank account.”
“I wasn’t referring to a monetary penalty.”
“What kind of a penalty, then?”
He stroked the stubble on his chin for a moment. “You’d have to have coffee with me.”
Did this guy really think that would be a hardship? I debated how to answer. If I told the truth, it would be embarrassing. I mean, I went through the man’s personal belongings. But the flipside was I’d get to check him out some more over coffee. Then again, I’d be agreeing to spend time with a complete stranger. Though…whenever I met a guy online, I usually met him at a coffeehouse, and I probably knew more about this guy after going through his suitcase than I would from an online chat. Not to mention, none of my online dates had looked like Donovan Decker lately. In fact, none had made it further than coffee in a while.
Adonis had been watching my face as I debated my answer. His smirk made me think he already knew I’d checked out his bag. So, what the hell?
I stood tall and met his stare. “Was the lady from housekeeping harmed in the robbery?”
His eyes narrowed for a heartbeat, but then a giant smile spread across his face. He held his hand out toward the seating area. “After you, Autumn W.”

 

 

★★★ 

 

 

 

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RELEASING
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AUTHOR BIO
Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author. With millions of books sold, her titles have appeared in over a hundred Bestseller lists and are currently translated in twenty-five languages. She resides in New York with her husband and their three children where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.
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Release Blitz, Review, Excerpt & *Giveaway* – Following the Rules, Lane Hayes

May 13, 2021 | Posted in Excerpt, Giveaway, Release Day Blitz, Review | By

Title: Following The Rules

Series: The Script Club #1

Author: Lane Hayes

Publisher: Lane Hayes

Release Date: May 7, 2021

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 50k

Genre: Romance, Nerd/Jock, MM Romance, Bisexual Awakening, Best Friend’s Brother,

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Synopsis

The geek, the jock, and a new set of rules…

Topher-

My friend’s brother needs an academic assistant and I need a job. Problem…jocks are my weakness. Seriously. I lose my ability to speak coherently around muscle-bound hotties. Oh yeah, I lose my inhibitions too—not a good look for a guy with a genius IQ. So what am I going to do about Simon?

Simon-

Finishing college isn’t high on my list of priorities, but my future in professional football is looking bleak. I need a plan B or C, and I could use some help navigating life as an undergrad. Topher is perfect. He’s also a little strange…but in a good way. And I like the way I feel when I’m around him—as though anything is possible. Maybe if we follow our hearts, we’ll find what we’re looking for. But that means changing the rules…

Following the Rules is a MM, bisexual awakening romance starring a lovable nerd, a cool jock, and some extracurricular fun.

Excerpt

I served us both a slice of each kind of pizza and slid a plate his way, gesturing for him to help himself to the cheese or whatever else he might want.

“I don’t care about money,” I said around a mouthful of food. “Eat up. This is tasty, but it won’t be as good when it’s cold.”

Topher flashed an anxious sideways smile and took a mouse-sized nibble. “Mmm, that’s delicious.”

I washed down my pizza with a healthy swig of wine, nudging his knee as I swiveled to face him. “Are you okay?”

He wiped his hands on a napkin and drained half his water, setting it on the island with a decisive thud. “Yes, I’m just a little nervous.”

“Nervous? Oh. I’m sorry.” I frowned and before I could rein my tongue, blurted, “You seemed fine when we were joking about tiny gorilla penises, and hell…you saw my dick and—”

“I wasn’t joking. I was reciting a fact and as far as your penis is concerned…”

I twisted to face him, unable to contain a mischievous grin.

“Yes? I’m waiting,” I singsonged, biting into the ham and pineapple pizza.

“I told you, Simon…I was simply doing the math,” he replied matter-of-factly. “Six and a half inches.”

“Nine.”

Topher narrowed his eyes, his features softening in amusement. “Six and three-quarters, max.”

I scoffed and hooked my thumb under the elastic waistband of my sweats. “Wanna see?”

“No! Geez. You know, it’s very difficult to stay on topic with you. And staying on topic is the only way this will work.”

“Okay, fine. Back to dick size. What animal has the biggest schlong on the planet?”

He gaped at me for a hot second. “The blue whale. It’s estimated to be seven to ten feet long.”

“Whoa!”

“Although I don’t know that it’s ever been measured during intercourse. Or if that’s even possible.” He reached for his pizza with his brow knit in concentration as though pondering whale dick…as one does.

“Whales are huge. It makes sense. What about land animals?”

“Elephants. They’ve legitimately measured specimens in excess of thirty-nine inches.”

“You’ve got to be kidding.” I snort-laughed. “Christ, I’m feeling very inadequate with my mere twelve inches.”

“Six,” Topher scoffed. “Look, before we get sidetracked again, I just want to—”

“I’ll pay you double.”

“What? Why?”

I sighed as I picked up my wineglass. “I don’t want to fail. No…it’s more than that. I need to look smart. I can’t come across as the fuckup wide receiver who got dumped from the NFL and blew the cushy back-door admittance to a prestigious university by failing his first semester. I thought I might be able to muddle through with a few pointers from George, but it’s going to take more than that. I need a real assistant.”

Topher widened his eyes, then blinked in disbelief when I named an exorbitant salary. I had a hard time keeping my own expression. What the hell was I thinking? Did I really need an assistant?

I didn’t know, but I needed…something.

“Oh, that’s a lot of money,” he whispered breathlessly.

“It’s the going rate for a personal assistant. Ironically, I never had one while I played ball, but I need the help now. I want the best, and George says that’s you.”

Topher smiled. “George didn’t say he was the best?”

“Actually, he did. But we can’t be in the same room for an hour without wanting to take a swing at each other.”

“You and George fight?”

“Not as much now that we’re older, but…yeah, I guess we still fight. We don’t have much in common.”

“You and I have even less in common,” he replied.

“That’s a good thing. Trust me, it’s better for me that you don’t know that I slept with a teddy bear until I was thirteen…or that I still have that damn bear for reasons unknown.” I gave a self-deprecating chuckle, then sipped my wine and set it on the island. “So…are you in? Make me smarter, Toph. I need your brain!”

He stared at me for a long moment, inclining his head. “Okay.”

“Yes!” I fist-pumped the air as if I’d just scored a touchdown and held out my hand for a high five.

Topher left me hanging for a few long seconds before gently tapping his palm to mine. I grabbed his wrist to hold him steady for a redo. The contact was light and breezy…and spontaneous. But that was how I rolled. For a guy who played professional football, it was nothing.

However, this didn’t feel like nothing.

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Kara's Review

5 out of 5 stars

Following the Rules is the first book new series, The Script Club, by Lane Hayes. It’s a brother’s friend, awakening story full of fun, sexiness, dorkiness and little angst. My favorite kind of book! It’s a feel good story about Simon, the jock and Topher, the nerd. An unlikely pair who happen to be perfect for each other. They are both at pivotal places in their life. Simon needs to finish college while he’s waiting to hear about his future in football and Topher is about to start grad school and looking for the perfect job. Simon needs help with school and Topher is a genius who needs the money. Win win. And the added extra bonus, they have crazy chemistry! I loved their fun banter and the way Simon is so laid back and never questioned his attraction for Topher. Topher cracked me up with his facts and his nervous talking. I couldn’t love these two more if I tried! Looking forward to the next one!

Meet the Author

Lane Hayes loves a good romance! An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016, 2017, and 2018-2019 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a not quite empty nest.

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