Release Day & 5 Heart Reviews – Exes with Benefits, Nicole Williams

September 18, 2017 By

 

 

 

 

 

 

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***He wants a second chance. I want a divorce. To get what I want, I’ll have to give him what he does.***

From New York Times & USA Today bestselling author, Nicole Williams:

The only benefit I want from my ex is a divorce.

We got married for all the wrong reasons. The one thing we got right was our separation. I should have known better than to think I could bet on forever with a guy like Canaan Ford. Everything about him screamed impermanent, from his wild eyes to his restless soul.

When I left him and the small town I’d spent my whole life in, I swore I’d never go back. Never only turned out to be five years. Canaan claims he’s changed, but he hasn’t—same knowing smile, same rough demeanor, same body crafted from sin and sinew. And yet, something is different. He thinks this is his chance for redemption. My disagreement comes in the form of divorce papers dropped in his lap. He refuses to sign them. Unless . . .

He wants a month to prove himself to me—that’s his offer. One month to make me fall in love with him again and if I don’t, he’ll sign the papers. As much as I want to say no, I agree. I can suffer my ex for a short amount of time if that’s what it takes to be free of him once and for all. I fell for him once; I won’t make that same mistake twice.

He says we’re not over. I say we were over before we got started. Only one of us can be right, and I can’t let it be him.

Nicole Williams is one of my go-to-authors. I’ve been a fan for years and she’s hasn’t disappointed me! She’s constantly coming up with fresh ideas, interesting plots and sexy, likeable characters. Exes with Benefits is her new gem. It’s an epic second chance romance. Childhood friends who become teenage lovers and marry at eighteen. It ended before it really began and heartbreak sent Maggie running from her husband, her family, her friends and her home. Five years later she’s back to serve Canaan divorce papers. She’s made a name for herself in Chicago and she just wants him to sign the papers and get back to her life. But he has other ideas. He’s her husband and he’s not letting her go without a fight. He agrees to sign them if she give him one month. Just one month of dating and spending time together and if she wants to leave, he’ll let her go. Canaan isn’t the same man he was when Maggie left. He’s changed. A lot. He’s not the angry teenager with a chip on his shoulder, he just needs to prove to Maggie that she’s always been the one. Maggie doesn’t have time for this. She has a life and a career she loves, but she can’t bring herself to say no to Canaan. They didn’t’ work out before, so why would they now. Canaan is even sexier than he was. The grease and coveralls just add to his appeal, damn him! Maggie is learning that he’s not the same man. He’s calmer. Sexier. Sweeter. And determined to keep her. Is she strong enough to hold her ground? Will Canaan and his charm show her they are meant to be together forever? I loved this story! OMG! Canaan is perfection. Pure perfection. Yes, at the beginning I wanted to smack him upside his head, but he’s grown up, matured and has the words and actions that Maggie needs. She just has to let go of the past and look at her future. This is an emotional story with a lot of past baggage and current obstacles and I was honestly worried that I was going to have to curse Nicole! But I knew she would never let me down. Overall, it’s an emotional story filled with sexiness, humor, sadness, redemption, second chances and sweet words. I already want more of Canaan!

 

“You’re a married woman, Maggie.”

“My husband forfeited his rights years ago.”

“He’s here to reclaim them.”

 

Damn. Canaan was in his mechanic jumpsuit, but he has shrugged out of the top half and tied the arms around his waist, leaving nothing to cover his upper half except a thin white tank painted to his skin and a whole mess of grease streaked everywhere else.

 

“Because you can’t write a great love story without a tragedy to overcome. Because that’s when love’s proved. Not when life’s easy, but when it’s so damn hard you can barely breathe.”

 

“We are wrong for each other in all the right ways, Canaan Ford.”

 

Exes with Benefits is a standalone by an author I fell in love with this year, Nicole Williams. I actually didn’t read the synopsis for this one since I just knew I would want and devour it. I love second chance romances and look at that cover! A man under the hood of a car knows his ways around a woman. Side note: I am married to a mechanic. Anyway…
It’s been five years since Maggie drove away from Canaan and her small town life. She never planned on returning but life had other plans. She was back and Canaan wasn’t going to let he walk away again. Not without a fight.
Maggie knew it wouldn’t be easy. Dealing with Canaan never was. But, his proposal was unexpected. He would not give her a divorce until she gave him thirty days to prove that they belong together. She wasn’t happy about it but if it was the only way to get those papers signed then she could give him those thirty days. What the hell, she thought. It would only prove what she thought she knew…he never changed. And that they were only good at two things and they both started with the letter f”. And the fun one was off the table.
Can Canaan show her that has changed? That he isn’t that 18 year old boy she married but a 24 year old man that wants his wife back.
I loved every minute of this story! The good. The bad. And the sexy. Seriously though, I was hooked from the beginning and when I met Canaan Ford, I knew I would be falling in love. With him. With Maggie. With the town. Everything that followed caused laughter, tears, and swooning.
Overall…it was everything and more than I expected. Canaan was more than I thought he would be. He is definitely one of my favorite book boyfriends. Ever. And I read a lot. I wish I can explain all the reasons why but I can’t. You just have to fall in love with him yourself. I can say that he will make you laugh, feel your heart flutter, and your insides tingle. 😋
Quotes:
“My husband forfeited his rights years ago.” My eyes found his, expecting them to shoot away once mine made contact. They didn’t. His gold eyes held to mine.
“He’s here to reclaim them.”
“Why ask for the truth if you’re determined to never believe it?”
“I swear, when you keel over dead one day, that part of you will go on living.”

 

“Canaan—”
Before I could attempt to figure out how to follow that, he lifted his hands. “I’m here to help. That’s all. No hidden agenda. I swear,” he added when I eyed the stack of packing supplies like there was a secret code I was meant to decipher.
“I don’t want to fight. Or argue. Or debate. Or anything else you and I could never stop going on and on about.”
“I don’t either.” He kept his hands raised for another moment before dropping them at his sides. “We didn’t always used to be like that, you know?”
“I remember. And then we turned thirteen and hormones got the better of us and we couldn’t seem to stop fighting.”
“I remember times we weren’t fighting. Lots of times.”
“The only times we weren’t fighting was when we were making out or making something.” I closed the door and cleared my throat.
“Fighting and fucking. We were damn great at both.”
If it wasn’t for the boyish grin he gave me right then, he would have gotten more than a grumble from me.
“We should have just stayed friends. That was the only relationship we were good at.”
“We never could have just stayed friends.”
“Why not?” I glanced around for a sweater to throw on, since that was the second time he’d looked at me like he had to convince himself not to misbehave.
“Chemistry. You and I had it.” He started folding the first box, his hands working with all of his attention directed at me. “You and I still have it.”
The warm jolt that shot through my veins whenever he came close confirmed his theory. However . . .
“You need a lot more than chemistry to make a marriage work. To make any relationship work.”
His shoulder lifted as he taped the box. “Of course you do. But a hell of a lot of chemistry sure doesn’t go bad with all of that other love, trust, and respect stuff. Does it?”
Grabbing a box, I put a good distance between us before starting to make it. “I wouldn’t know.”
Canaan stopped in the middle of yanking a strip of tape. “I felt like we had those things. Maybe not in the amount we should have, but I always loved and trusted you. And I respected the shit out of you too.”
I thought back to all of those nights I stayed awake, waiting for him to come home. My hand cupped around my telephone, whispering silent prayers to whatever god was listening at the time. I thought about the empty bottles and mornings of him not being able to recall anything of the night before. The scents of other women on him. I remembered tending to wounds and mending injuries.
Although the real ones that needed fixed I was never able to heal.
My eyes met his and lingered there. “You had a funny way of showing it.”
His mouth opened instantly, but it closed just as fast. He took a full breath. “I know.”

 

 

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Nicole Williams is the New York Times and USATODAY bestselling author of contemporary and young adult romance, including the Crash and Lost & Found series. Her books have been published by HarperTeen and Simon & Schuster in both domestic and foreign markets, while she continues to self-publish additional titles. She is working on a new YA series with Crown Books (a division of Random House) as well. She loves romance, from the sweet to the steamy, and writes stories about characters in search of their happily even after. She grew up surrounded by books and plans on writing until the day she dies, even if it’s just for her own personal enjoyment. She still buys paperbacks because she’s all nostalgic like that, but her kindle never goes neglected for too long. When not writing, she spends her time with her husband and daughter, and whatever time’s left over she’s forced to fit too many hobbies into too little time.
 
Nicole is represented by Jane Dystel, of Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency.

 

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Chapter Reveal – Exes with Benefits, Nicole Williams

September 6, 2017 By

 

 

 

 
Coming September 18th

 

AP new - synopsis.jpg
He wants a second chance. I want a divorce. To get what I want, I’ll have to give him what he does.


From New York Times & USA Today bestselling author, Nicole Williams, comes a new standalone romance in the same vein as Roommates with Benefits.

 

 

PROLOGUE


Goodbye.
It was the one relationship guarantee we could all expect. Whether it was death or circumstance, tragedy or choice, it was the only promise we were assured. Goodbye. It had been coming since the day we met, and now it was here. Sooner than I’d hoped. Even sooner than the sensible segment of me had predicted.
Still, it was later than maybe I should have expected out of a relationship with Canaan Ford.
I’d been waiting all night for his truck to rumble up the driveway when it finally did just past two a.m.. Before his footsteps echoed up the stairs, I shouldered the couple of bags I’d packed and waited in the shadows of the hallway. My paintbrushes were sticking out of one of my oversized totes, tickling the underside of my arm. I’d packed everything that seemed important at the time, but now, I wasn’t sure that what I’d stuffed in my bags mattered at all.
It was late, dark, and Canaan would be coming home exhausted, hurting, and some degree of drunk. He wouldn’t see me, and I could just slip away without him knowing.
Maybe I should have left before he made it back, but whenever I tried, my feet froze to the floor before I could make it to the door. I needed to wait for him to get home first—to make sure he was okay before I left him. That might have been a messed up model of morality, but most of Canaan’s and my relationship was messed up, from the beginning to now, the ending.
He struggled with the key in the lock before shoving the door open and clomping straight toward the couch. He’d stopped crawling into bed beside me after a night of fighting and drinking months ago, like he thought it would spare me the pain of seeing him bloodied and plastered. It never had. The black eyes, the swollen lips, the bruised ribs; they were that much worse in the light of morning.
Canaan had barely crashed onto the sofa before his breathing evened out. Still, I waited another minute in the hallway before moving into the living room.
Don’t look, Maggie. Don’t let yourself look at him.
I looked. Of course I looked. I never listened to what was best for me—if I had, my life would have wound up so much differently.
He was already passed out, sprawled across the couch we’d bought at a yard sale the summer before . . .
Before all of this.
One arm and one leg were hanging off the end, his face tipped far enough toward me I could gauge the type of fight he’d been in tonight. A good one by Canaan’s definition—the best kind. The type where his opponent got in as many hits as he did. The type of fight that made him almost question if it would be the first one he’d lose. Canaan loved the challenge, the fight. He thrived off of chaos, seeming to wilt when life was simple. I used to admire that about him, and maybe I still did. It just wasn’t the life for me. I couldn’t live life like it was a battle—not anymore.
He was passed out hard, but I still crept slowly toward the front door, my heart thundering as the boards creaked below me. Even though I was moving toward the door, my eyes stayed on him.
Look away.
I couldn’t. Canaan was the best part of my life. And the worst. The best memories. And the worst. He was the high and the low and I was so damn tired of the sick cycle I thought would kill me one day.
As my hand cupped around the cool doorknob, my eyes burned. This was it. As resolved as I’d felt in the weeks leading up to this, I felt like I was being torn in half by walking away. I knew if I stayed, this relationship would be the end of me. But at the moment, leaving felt like the same.
Lying on that couch, he looked so vulnerable. Almost like he needed someone to protect him. From the world. From his demons. From himself. I’d tried. God, I’d been trying for what felt like forever, but the only thing I had to show for my efforts was scars and pain.
One of his eyes was swollen shut, his bottom lip three times its normal size, and he’d split the same eyebrow open again. It was going to need stiches. Six, I guessed. I’d gotten really good as estimating the number of stiches needed to seal a wound.
A sob rose from my chest, but I managed to swallow it back down. He was the only boy I’d ever loved—the only one I’d ever come close to loving. In some ways, he was perfect for me. But in more ways, especially lately, he was entirely wrong for me.
That was why I needed to leave. We might have been good together, but we weren’t good for each other. I knew that now.
I opened the door slowly, so it wouldn’t make a sound, then I let myself take one last look at the life I was leaving behind before I forced myself to walk away.
Now that I wasn’t looking at him, moving was easier. Each step down from our little apartment above the garage came quicker, so by the time I reached the ground, I was jogging.
Canaan’s truck was parked right beside my old car. Ancient was maybe a better description of how “mature” my car was. It was almost like he’d known I was going to leave tonight, because he’d parked his truck so close I could barely crack my door open half a foot. Getting my bags tossed into the backseat and managing to wiggle in through the door was a tight fit, but I made it work.
The moment I was inside, I jammed the key in the ignition and turned it over. I didn’t pause. I didn’t flinch. The hardest part was behind me, and now I needed to keep moving.
Easing my car around the truck, I noticed the one light burning inside the big house in my rearview mirror. Grandma knew what was happening tonight and was keeping her light on for me as her unique way of expressing that no matter what, she was here for me. She’d keep the light on—even when it felt like there was nothing but darkness around me.
My throat constricted as I kept backing down the long driveway. I’d tried saving him, but it had cost me almost everything. I was taking what I had left and saving myself.
As I rolled past Grandma’s front porch, my gaze shifted from the rearview mirror to that little garage apartment I’d lived the last eleven months in. The door was open, light was streaming from inside, and a dark, towering shadow loomed in the doorway.
My foot instinctively moved toward the brake. Canaan was too far away for me to determine the look on his face, but I could imagine it. It came easy since I’d known him as long as I had. Knowing his face was like second nature.
He stayed unmoving in that doorway for a moment, my car doing the same. It wasn’t until he started moving down the stairs that my foot flew back to the gas. If he got to me before I made it out of this driveway, I wouldn’t leave. I knew it. Walking away from someone I loved was hard enough, but Canaan wasn’t just someone I loved—he was someone I’d shared everything with. He’d walked with me through the hardest part of my life, and I’d walked with him through his. We’d been each other’s beacon, shelter, and compass through all of life’s shit . . .
So how had we gotten here? To this hopeless, dead end of a place?
He was charging down the stairs now, taking them two at a time. How was he able to move that nimbly when he’d just been comatose on the couch?
“Maggie!”
The windows were rolled up, but his shout broke through the glass, sounding so close it was almost like he was pressed against me, whispering it into my ear.
He sprinted the moment his feet touched the ground, his long arms pumping hard at his sides.
“Canaan, don’t,” I whispered inside the car, my lower lip trembling as I focused on the driveway behind me. “Please don’t.”
I didn’t miss the shadow that had appeared in that lit window. Grandma was watching me leave, witnessing Canaan trying to convince me to stay. Before, his attempts had been successful, but not this time. I couldn’t stay for him one more time—I had to leave for me.
“Maggie! Please!”
Canaan’s shouts were so loud, they were going to wake up the neighbors a few acres over. Each word emanated like a blast inside the car.
“Let me go,” I whispered as I swung the car onto the street.
Right before I could punch it into drive and hit the gas, Canaan swooped in front of the car. His chest was moving hard from the exertion, his snug white tee stained with fresh and dried blood. His face was so messed up it was practically unrecognizable, but I couldn’t help seeing the young boy with a clip-on tie walk up to me when I was frozen on a porch step, appraising me with those wild gold eyes before holding out a tiny box. How had that boy, who’d saved me back then, become the ruin of me now?
When I revved the engine, he didn’t move. Instead, he slid closer so his legs were pushing against the bumper. He raised his arms like he was surrendering, his unswollen eye landing on me. “I’m not letting you leave. Not without a fight.”
A breath rolled past my lips—a fight. Everything was a fight with him. He couldn’t land enough hits or take enough. His guilt wouldn’t let him.
Cranking down the window, I made myself glare at him. It was harder to achieve than it should have been. “I’m not something you win or lose in a fight.”
His jaw moved as he pressed his hands into the hood of the car. “You fight for what’s important. That’s the way life is. And you are worth every fight I have in me.”
“You’re too busy fighting everyone else—including yourself—to fight for me.” My sight blurred as I stared at him. So little of the person I’d fallen in love with remained. So little of who he’d fallen in love with remained in me as well. “I can’t wait around, watching you kill yourself one fight and drink at a time.”
He wiped at his split-open brow, leaving a streak of blood on his forearm. “I can change.”
My fingers tightened around the steering wheel. How many times had I heard those words come from his lips? Those same lips that claimed ownership of my first kiss?
“Yeah, you can.” I steeled myself against him a little more. “That’s not your problem. Your problem is that you won’t change.”
“This time I will.” His head whipped side to side. “It’s taken this, you trying to leave me, to slap some sense into me.”
I’d tried leaving so many times. This was just the furthest I’d ever made it. “I’m not trying to leave you. I am leaving you.” I made myself look at him. I made myself appear strong when I felt so very opposite. “This is it.”
He slowly came around the side of the car toward me. I rolled up the window halfway, aiming my eyes at the road in front of me.
“One more chance.” Even from a few feet back, I could smell the alcohol on his breath. I could smell the sweat and blood on him mixed with it, the trace of perfume that didn’t belong to me.
“You’ve had a thousand one more chances.” I studied him from the corners of my eyes, knowing better than to let them lock on his when he was this close. “This was your last one.”
“Maggie . . .” His hands formed around the lip of the window. His knuckles were split open and swollen, dried blood covering them. Still, I wasn’t sure I’d ever craved having them reach for me more. I wasn’t sure I’d ever needed him to pull me to his broken body and soul more than I did right then.
In that moment, I might have needed him more than I needed air, but I couldn’t give in. Kicking the habit was the only way to cure myself.
“Let me go, Canaan.” My legs were trembling as my foot moved back to the gas.
His head lowered so it was in line with mine. “You’re my wife.”
My left hand curled farther around the steering wheel, until I couldn’t see the gold band circling my finger. “No. I was your wife.”
His head dropped for half a second, his eyes flashing with defeat right before. “I love you.”
​My chest ached. The man was the boy again, and I wanted to save him the way he’d saved me. But I couldn’t. The only person who could save Canaan Ford was Canaan Ford.
“I promised to love you forever, and I will.” My foot touched the accelerator. “But I can’t spend forever with you.”
His hands braced around the window harder when I rolled forward. “I made a promise. To you, and to myself. A promise to love you forever. To look after you as long.”
When I found my mind drifting to that overcast afternoon eleven months ago, my heart wringing when I remembered the way he’d stared at me as we repeated those phrases in the courthouse, I shook my head. Good memories weren’t enough. Hope wasn’t enough. Empty promises weren’t even close to enough.
“We exchanged vows.” My eyes focused on the road in front of me, letting go of the dead end beside me. “There’s a difference between saying them and meaning them.”
When my foot pushed down on the gas, Canaan moved with the car. “I’m not letting you go. I’m not giving up.” The car moved faster, his feet pounding the asphalt as he struggled to keep up.
“I know. But I’m giving in.” Breaking my own rule, I let my eyes meet his before punching the gas pedal as far down as it would go. “Goodbye.”
That was enough. Hearing that word shocked him just enough to still him. For one second. I didn’t ease up on the gas, not even when I heard his fists pounding the trunk as he struggled to keep up.
“I can change!” His footsteps were thundering after the car. “I will change.”
With him behind me, I let the tears I’d been fighting fall. Everything I’d ever known—my whole life—was getting smaller and smaller behind me. With every tick of the odometer.
“MAGGIE!!!” His voice pierced the air one last time before I was too far away to hear whatever came next.
It was morning by the time I stopped seeing his reflection in the rearview mirror, still chasing me into my new life.

 

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Nicole Williams is the New York Times and USATODAY bestselling author of contemporary and young adult romance, including the Crash and Lost & Found series. Her books have been published by HarperTeen and Simon & Schuster in both domestic and foreign markets, while she continues to self-publish additional titles. She is working on a new YA series with Crown Books (a division of Random House) as well. She loves romance, from the sweet to the steamy, and writes stories about characters in search of their happily even after. She grew up surrounded by books and plans on writing until the day she dies, even if it’s just for her own personal enjoyment. She still buys paperbacks because she’s all nostalgic like that, but her kindle never goes neglected for too long. When not writing, she spends her time with her husband and daughter, and whatever time’s left over she’s forced to fit too many hobbies into too little time.
 
Nicole is represented by Jane Dystel, of Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency.

 

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Announcement – Sick Fux, Tillie Cole

August 31, 2017 By

 

When Ellis Earnshaw and Heathan James met as children, they couldn’t have been more different. Ellis was loud and beautiful – all blond hair, bright laughs and smiles. Heathan was dark and brooding, and obsessed with watching things die.
The pair forged an unlikely friendship, unique and strange. Until they were ripped apart by the sick cruelty of others, separated for years, both locked in a perpetual hell.
Eleven years later, Heathan is back for his girl. Back from a place from which he thought there was no return. Back to seek revenge on those who wronged them.
Time has made Heathan’s soul darker, polluted with hatred and the thirst for blood.
Time has made Ellis a shell of her former self, a little girl lost in the vastness of her pain.
As Heathan pulls Ellis out of her mental prison, reviving the essence of who she once was, down the rabbit hole they will go.
With malice in their hearts and vengeance in their veins, they will seek out the ones who hurt and destroyed them.
One at a time.
Each one more deadly than the last.
Tick Tock.


Dark Contemporary Romance. Contains explicit sexual situations, violence, disturbingly sensitive and taboo subjects, offensive language and very mature topics. Recommended for ages 18 and over.

 

Tillie Cole hails from a small town in the North-East of England. She grew up on a farm with her English mother, Scottish father and older sister and a multitude of rescue animals. As soon as she could, Tillie left her rural roots for the bright lights of the big city.

After graduating from Newcastle University with a BA Hons in Religious Studies, Tillie followed her Professional Rugby player husband around the world for a decade, becoming a teacher in between and thoroughly enjoyed teaching High School students Social Studies before putting pen to paper, and finishing her first novel.

Tillie has now settled in Austin, Texas, where she is finally able to sit down and write, throwing herself into fantasy worlds and the fabulous minds of her characters.

Tillie is both an independent and traditionally published author, and writes many genres including: Contemporary Romance, Dark Romance, Young Adult and New Adult novels.

When she is not writing, Tillie enjoys nothing more than curling up on her couch watching movies, drinking far too much coffee, while convincing herself that she really doesn’t need that extra square of chocolate.
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Pre-order Blitz & *Giveaway* – Exes with Benefits, Nicole Williams

August 28, 2017 By

 

 

 

 
Coming September 18th

 

 

AP new - synopsis.jpg
He wants a second chance. I want a divorce. To get what I want, I’ll have to give him what he does.


From New York Times & USA Today bestselling author, Nicole Williams, comes a new standalone romance in the same vein as Roommates with Benefits.

 

 

$10 Amazon Gift Card

 

A signed copy of Trusting You & Other Lies
Click HERE to enter
AP new -about the author.jpg

 

Nicole Williams is the New York Times and USATODAY bestselling author of contemporary and young adult romance, including the Crash and Lost & Found series. Her books have been published by HarperTeen and Simon & Schuster in both domestic and foreign markets, while she continues to self-publish additional titles. She is working on a new YA series with Crown Books (a division of Random House) as well. She loves romance, from the sweet to the steamy, and writes stories about characters in search of their happily even after. She grew up surrounded by books and plans on writing until the day she dies, even if it’s just for her own personal enjoyment. She still buys paperbacks because she’s all nostalgic like that, but her kindle never goes neglected for too long. When not writing, she spends her time with her husband and daughter, and whatever time’s left over she’s forced to fit too many hobbies into too little time.
 
Nicole is represented by Jane Dystel, of Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency.

 

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Cover Reveal – Burn for You, J.T. Geissinger

August 3, 2017 By

 

We are so thrilled to reveal the sexy cover of a brand new novel from J.T. Geissinger, BURN FOR YOU, which releases October 17th! Check it out below, watch the teaser trailer, and preorder your copy today!

 

Don’t you absolutely love the cover? Find out more about BURN FOR YOU below!

 

About BURN FOR YOU (Slow Burn #1)

The marriage is fake. But for a sassy chef and an arrogant billionaire, the sparks are real… Jackson “The Beast” Boudreaux is rich, gorgeous, and unbelievably rude to the staff at Chef Bianca Hardwick’s New Orleans restaurant. Bianca would sooner douse herself in hot sauce than cook for Jackson again, but when he asks her to cater his fund-raiser, Bianca can’t refuse, knowing the cash will help pay her mother’s medical bills. Then Jackson makes another outrageous request: Marry me. The unconventional offer includes an enormous sum—money Bianca desperately needs, even if it does come with a contract—and a stunning ring.

The heir to a family bourbon dynasty, Jackson knows the rumors swirling around him. The truth is even darker. Still, he needs a wife to secure his inheritance, and free-spirited, sassy Bianca would play the part beautifully. Soon, though, their simple business deal evolves into an emotional intimacy he’s built walls to avoid.

As the passion heats up between them, Bianca and Jackson struggle to define which feelings are real and which are for show. Is falling for your fake fiancé the best happy ending…or a recipe for disaster?

Add BURN FOR YOU to your Goodreads list here!

Preorder BURN FOR YOU now!

See the BURN FOR YOU teaser trailer:

 

About J.T. Geissinger

A former headhunter, J.T. Geissinger is the author of more than a dozen novels in contemporary romance, paranormal romance, and romantic suspense.

She is the recipient of the Prism Award for Best First Book, the Golden Quill Award for Best Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, and is a two-time finalist for the RITA® Award from the Romance Writers of America®. Her work has also finaled in the Booksellers’ Best, National Readers’ Choice, and Daphne du Maurier Awards.

Join her Facebook reader’s group, Geissinger’s Gang, to take part in weekly Wine Wednesday live chats and giveaways, find out more information about works in progress, have access to exclusive excerpts and contests, and get advance reader copies of her upcoming releases.

Website | Newsletter | Facebook | Geissinger’s Gang | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Instagram

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Cover Reveal – Exes with Benefits, Nicole Williams

August 2, 2017 By

 

 

Coming September 18th

 

 

AP new - synopsis.jpg
He wants a second chance. I want a divorce. To get what I want, I’ll have to give him what he does.


From New York Times & USA Today bestselling author, Nicole Williams, comes a new standalone romance in the same vein as Roommates with Benefits.

 

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Nicole Williams is the New York Times and USATODAY bestselling author of contemporary and young adult romance, including the Crash and Lost & Found series. Her books have been published by HarperTeen and Simon & Schuster in both domestic and foreign markets, while she continues to self-publish additional titles. She is working on a new YA series with Crown Books (a division of Random House) as well. She loves romance, from the sweet to the steamy, and writes stories about characters in search of their happily even after. She grew up surrounded by books and plans on writing until the day she dies, even if it’s just for her own personal enjoyment. She still buys paperbacks because she’s all nostalgic like that, but her kindle never goes neglected for too long. When not writing, she spends her time with her husband and daughter, and whatever time’s left over she’s forced to fit too many hobbies into too little time.
Nicole is represented by Jane Dystel, of Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency.

 

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Cover Reveal – Sick Fux, Tillie Cole 

July 6, 2017 By

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
When Ellis Earnshaw and Heathan James met as children, they couldn’t have been more different. Ellis was loud and beautiful – all blond hair, bright laughs and smiles. Heathan was dark and brooding, and obsessed with watching things die.
The pair forged an unlikely friendship, unique and strange. Until they were ripped apart by the sick cruelty of others, separated for years, both locked in a perpetual hell.
Eleven years later, Heathan is back for his girl. Back from a place from which he thought there was no return. Back to seek revenge on those who wronged them.
Time has made Heathan’s soul darker, polluted with hatred and the thirst for blood.
Time has made Ellis a shell of her former self, a little girl lost in the vastness of her pain.
As Heathan pulls Ellis out of her mental prison, reviving the essence of who she once was, down the rabbit hole they will go.
With malice in their hearts and vengeance in their veins, they will seek out the ones who hurt and destroyed them.
One at a time.
Each one more deadly than the last.
Tick Tock.

Dark Contemporary Romance. Contains explicit sexual situations, violence, disturbingly sensitive and taboo subjects, offensive language and very mature topics. Recommended for ages 18 and over.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Tillie Cole hails from a small town in the North-East of England. She grew up on a farm with her English mother, Scottish father and older sister and a multitude of rescue animals. As soon as she could, Tillie left her rural roots for the bright lights of the big city.

After graduating from Newcastle University with a BA Hons in Religious Studies, Tillie followed her Professional Rugby player husband around the world for a decade, becoming a teacher in between and thoroughly enjoyed teaching High School students Social Studies before putting pen to paper, and finishing her first novel.

Tillie has now settled in Austin, Texas, where she is finally able to sit down and write, throwing herself into fantasy worlds and the fabulous minds of her characters.

Tillie is both an independent and traditionally published author, and writes many genres including: Contemporary Romance, Dark Romance, Young Adult and New Adult novels.

When she is not writing, Tillie enjoys nothing more than curling up on her couch watching movies, drinking far too much coffee, while convincing herself that she really doesn’t need that extra square of chocolate.
 
 
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Blog Tour, 5 Heart Reviews & Excerpt – Trusting You and Other Lies, Nicole Williams

June 24, 2017 By

 

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USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Nicole Williams delivers a seductive summer romance worth swooning over. Perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Stephanie Perkins.

Phoenix can’t imagine anything worse than being shipped off to family summer camp. Her parents have been fighting for the past two years–do they seriously think being crammed in a cabin with Phoenix and her little brother, Harry, will make things better?
On top of that, Phoenix is stuck training with Callum–the head counselor who is seriously cute but a complete know-it-all. His hot-cold attitude means he’s impossible to figure out–and even harder to rely on. But despite her better judgment, Phoenix is attracted to Callum. And he’s promising Phoenix a summer she’ll never forget. Can she trust him? Or is this just another lie?

Trusting You and Other Lies is Nicole Williams’ new YA romance. I don’t read a lot of YA, but I love Nicole and I’ve loved all of her books I’ve read in this genre. Even though I’m not remotely close to the ages of these characters, I could still relate to their struggles. I remember being that age and going through what they are dealing with. It’s not easy. It feels like the end of the world. But sometimes things happen for a reason and you are meant to be where you are even though you hate it. At first. As with all of Nicole Williams’ books, the writing is fantastic. The story is well developed and the characters are extremely likable. Extremely! This is Phoenix’s story. She’s almost eighteen, hates her parents, and is being forced to spend the summer away from her friends. Complete torture. But she loves her little brother, Harry, and she wants him to have fun and make friends. She’s going away to college soon and she needs to know he’s going to be ok. No matter what happens with her parents. The one good thing about this summer is she gets to work and earn money. She needs a car. When an unexpected meeting with a sexy counselor shows her she might actually have a little fun, her attitude starts to thaw. Callum, the lead counselor, and Phoenix are going to be working closely together for a few weeks. He’s a hard ass, but he shows her glimpses of something else. He’s funny, handsome, sweet and he has an amazing laugh. Not a lot of people get to see this side of him and she loves and hates that. He says the right thing at the right time and he’s wise beyond his years. They both have major trust issues and lies are a deal breaker. But they are attracted to each other and they have fun together. Phoenix thinks Callum is destined for more and she vows to help him achieve his goals. Late nights lead to more and they soon become engrossed in each other. But what happens when one of them gets distracted? Do little white lies do as much damage? Phoenix has to overcome her trust issues or she’s going to lose the best thing that’s ever happened to her. Callum has to start believing in himself and open up his heart. I loved this story. Being a teenager is really tough! Thinking about going to college and what you want to do for the rest of your life is scary. But, finding someone who lets you be who are you is rare. Age doesn’t matter. Distance doesn’t matter. What’s in your heart and soul is what matters.

He kissed me like I’d wanted to be kisses my whole life – like I was everything.

“God, Phoenix. I can’t breathe when I’m with you.”

Trusting You and Other Lies is a YA standalone novel. I don’t read a lot of YA but I love Nicole so I knew I had to have it. Once in awhile I need to read about young love for a change of pace. This was perfect for just that.
Phoenix didn’t want to spend the summer at a family camp. She didn’t even want to be around her parents. The only reason why she tolerated them at this point was to spend time with her little brother for her last summer before senior year. She was going off to college for the next one. So, her plan was to be a camp counselor, hang out with Harry, stay away from her parents which shouldn’t be hard, make it through without going crazy, and on top of all that…not have a summer fling. She had enough trust issues, she didn’t need to add more to them. But, like many teens before her…plans don’t always go the way they are supposed to. Especially when she lays eyes on Callum. Mister Camp Counselor 101. Cute, yes. Know it all, yes. Annoying, yes. A danger to her plan, double yes!
Callum was so hot and cold that she didn’t know what to make of him. He had two different sides to him. The serious, no-rule breaking, tough counselor and the swoon-worthy smart-ass I want to kiss you side. If she was going to be stuck with him for the next few weeks of training, she was going to have to trust him. He is going to have to trust her. Which meant they needed to get to know each other and that’s exactly what they do. But what happens if some lies turn into big issues?
I absolutely loved their story! Callum and Phoenix are not a hearts and flowers type of couple but they are just as adorable. They know what the other needs. They also know how to push each other’s buttons and call each other on their shit. I liked that the book isn’t just about them. It’s about family. Hers is going through some rough times. Will this summer camp bring them back together as a family like they once were? And Callum has his own inner turmoils to face. It really made the story more relatable.
Overall…I didn’t want it to end but I knew it had to. The characters are both lovable and relatable. Having it set at camp was a great change of scenery. I could just picture myself out there hiking, and gazing at the stars. Not so much with crafts, I am with Phoenix on that one. But, really…It’s a quick, fun, and insightful read.
Quotes:
“Are we having a bonding moment right now? Because I make it a point not to fraternize with the underlings.”
When he was kissing me, it was easy to forget that summer would come to an end.
“God, Phoenix. I can’t breathe when I’m with you.”
It felt like hardly any time had passed at all before the bike slowed when we made it into Flagstaff. Callum took a sudden turn that led away from the main part of the city, and we weren’t on that road long before it opened up into a parking lot.
My arms tightened around him when I scanned the parking lot. Other than the bike’s headlight, I couldn’t make out any-thing else.
“Okay, we’re stopped now. Think you could ease up your death grip on me before you crush my liver?” He parked the bike and turned off the engine.
It was so quiet out here. Scary quiet. “Where are we?” I loosened my grip, but I didn’t let go.
He glanced at me over his shoulder. “Don’t you like a surprise?”
“Not when I’m in the middle of some dark parking lot late at night.”
Callum fought a smile. “It’s barely eight. Not quite the witching hour.”
An owl hooted from somewhere in the woods. I jumped. “Where the hell are we?”
He stopped fighting his smile. “The Lowell Observatory. Perfectly safe and nonthreatening, I swear.”
“What are we observing?”
Callum waited for my arms to drop at my sides before sliding off the bike. “Pretty much anything you want to up there.” He tipped his head and looked up at the sky.
My head followed. “The stars? That’s what we’re going to be looking at?”
“Stars, moons, planets. Take your pick.” He helped me undo the helmet’s chin strap after I fought with it on my own for a few seconds. “This is one of my favorite places.”
“In Arizona?”
“Anywhere,” he answered, pulling a small flashlight from his pocket and turning it on. He pointed it in the direction of a sidewalk and started toward it, making sure I was close beside him.
“How many times have you been here?” I asked.
“I come a few times every summer, more when I was coming here with my family.”
I kept my focus on the light in front of us. With that bright beam, the black didn’t seem so thick around us.
“So are you into astronomy?” I asked.
“You could say that.” When another owl hooted, I didn’t leap out of my boots. This time I barely flinched. Callum’s presence calmed me. “But I didn’t know it the first time I came. I only started getting into astronomy a few years ago.”
“Why did you first start coming here?” We were getting closer to what I guessed was the observatory, but nothing about it screamed tourist attraction.
“It was Ben’s idea, I guess. He knew about the trouble my brother was getting into at home and that I was following in his footsteps. He has this freaky way of looking at a person and knowing what they’re feeling or what they’re thinking. Those first couple of summers at camp he used to be able to take one look at me and know when I was about to do something I’d probably regret.” He paused and shook his head. “I really hated Ben at first.”
“And now you love him.” I nudged him as we approached a doorway.
“And now I respect him. I appreciate what he’s doing and why he does it.” He turned off the flashlight and held open the door for me.
“So your mom would bring you here to look up at the sky and your problems were solved?”
He chuckled softly. “That’s what Ben tried to sell. He said there was nothing like looking up at the universe to make my problems shrivel into nonexistence.”
“Is that doubt I’m detecting in your voice?”
“That’s I- know- better- from- experience in my voice.” Callum
waved at a lady sitting behind a counter at the front and led me inside. It was dark in here, too, which made me shift a bit closer to Callum. “Ben tried really hard to sell me on the perspective thing, but, I don’t know, looking up at the stars or thinking about the size of the universe didn’t make my issues seem any smaller or less significant. They were still the exact same size when I walked out of this place.”
“Then why did you keep coming back?” I asked as he stopped behind the biggest telescope I’d seen in real life.
“Because it got me out of my head, you know?” he answered immediately. “It got me to focus on something else for a while, and even though I’d leave here with the same problems I walked in with, they felt more manageable. More like I could handle them.”
I hadn’t expected him to open up like that. That was becoming a trend when it came to Callum. One minute he came off as the most closed- off person I’d ever met, and the next he could spill his guts. “And then you fell in love with the stars,” I said, watching him as he looked through the telescope, making a few adjustments on the dials.
“And then I did.” He made one last adjustment before motioning me to look. Even though it was dark, his eyes were glowing. I’d seen him in his element this summer, but never like this. If this wasn’t passion, I wasn’t sure I’d ever seen it.
“So you’re saying this place has played a totally insignifi-cant role in your life?” I smiled at him as I moved up to the telescope.
“Completely insignificant.” He stepped aside to give me room to look.
I wound my hair around one shoulder, closed one eye, and leaned over so I could peek through the eyepiece. I could have been looking at a star just as easily as I could have been looking at a planet or a moon. I didn’t feel my problems drifting away from me by the masses, disappearing into the Milky Way, but just like Callum had said, somehow they felt less overwhelming. Less powerful.
The longer I stared up there, the stronger I felt down here. “I get it,” I whispered after another minute, feeling like the entire universe was staring back at me as I gazed into it.
He took a step closer. “I knew you would.” 



AP new -about the author.jpg
Nicole Williams is the New York Times and USATODAY bestselling author of contemporary and young adult romance, including the Crash and Lost & Found series. Her books have been published by HarperTeen and Simon & Schuster in both domestic and foreign markets, while she continues to self-publish additional titles. She is working on a new YA series with Crown Books (a division of Random House) as well. She loves romance, from the sweet to the steamy, and writes stories about characters in search of their happily even after. She grew up surrounded by books and plans on writing until the day she dies, even if it’s just for her own personal enjoyment. She still buys paperbacks because she’s all nostalgic like that, but her kindle never goes neglected for too long. When not writing, she spends her time with her husband and daughter, and whatever time’s left over she’s forced to fit too many hobbies into too little time.
Nicole is represented by Jane Dystel, of Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency.
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Release Day & 5 Heart Reviews – Trusting You and Other Lies, Nicole Williams

June 20, 2017 By

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
AP new - synopsis.jpg
 
 
USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Nicole Williams delivers a seductive summer romance worth swooning over. Perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Stephanie Perkins.

Phoenix can’t imagine anything worse than being shipped off to family summer camp. Her parents have been fighting for the past two years–do they seriously think being crammed in a cabin with Phoenix and her little brother, Harry, will make things better?
On top of that, Phoenix is stuck training with Callum–the head counselor who is seriously cute but a complete know-it-all. His hot-cold attitude means he’s impossible to figure out–and even harder to rely on. But despite her better judgment, Phoenix is attracted to Callum. And he’s promising Phoenix a summer she’ll never forget. Can she trust him? Or is this just another lie?
 

Trusting You and Other Lies is Nicole Williams’ new YA romance. I don’t read a lot of YA, but I love Nicole and I’ve loved all of her books I’ve read in this genre. Even though I’m not remotely close to the ages of these characters, I could still relate to their struggles. I remember being that age and going through what they are dealing with. It’s not easy. It feels like the end of the world. But sometimes things happen for a reason and you are meant to be where you are even though you hate it. At first. As with all of Nicole Williams’ books, the writing is fantastic. The story is well developed and the characters are extremely likable. Extremely! This is Phoenix’s story. She’s almost eighteen, hates her parents, and is being forced to spend the summer away from her friends. Complete torture. But she loves her little brother, Harry, and she wants him to have fun and make friends. She’s going away to college soon and she needs to know he’s going to be ok. No matter what happens with her parents. The one good thing about this summer is she gets to work and earn money. She needs a car. When an unexpected meeting with a sexy counselor shows her she might actually have a little fun, her attitude starts to thaw. Callum, the lead counselor, and Phoenix are going to be working closely together for a few weeks. He’s a hard ass, but he shows her glimpses of something else. He’s funny, handsome, sweet and he has an amazing laugh. Not a lot of people get to see this side of him and she loves and hates that. He says the right thing at the right time and he’s wise beyond his years. They both have major trust issues and lies are a deal breaker. But they are attracted to each other and they have fun together. Phoenix thinks Callum is destined for more and she vows to help him achieve his goals. Late nights lead to more and they soon become engrossed in each other. But what happens when one of them gets distracted? Do little white lies do as much damage? Phoenix has to overcome her trust issues or she’s going to lose the best thing that’s ever happened to her. Callum has to start believing in himself and open up his heart. I loved this story. Being a teenager is really tough! Thinking about going to college and what you want to do for the rest of your life is scary. But, finding someone who lets you be who are you is rare. Age doesn’t matter. Distance doesn’t matter. What’s in your heart and soul is what matters.

He kissed me like I’d wanted to be kisses my whole life – like I was everything.

“God, Phoenix. I can’t breathe when I’m with you.”

Trusting You and Other Lies is a YA standalone novel. I don’t read a lot of YA but I love Nicole so I knew I had to have it. Once in awhile I need to read about young love for a change of pace. This was perfect for just that.
Phoenix didn’t want to spend the summer at a family camp. She didn’t even want to be around her parents. The only reason why she tolerated them at this point was to spend time with her little brother for her last summer before senior year. She was going off to college for the next one. So, her plan was to be a camp counselor, hang out with Harry, stay away from her parents which shouldn’t be hard, make it through without going crazy, and on top of all that…not have a summer fling. She had enough trust issues, she didn’t need to add more to them. But, like many teens before her…plans don’t always go the way they are supposed to. Especially when she lays eyes on Callum. Mister Camp Counselor 101. Cute, yes. Know it all, yes. Annoying, yes. A danger to her plan, double yes!
Callum was so hot and cold that she didn’t know what to make of him. He had two different sides to him. The serious, no-rule breaking, tough counselor and the swoon-worthy smart-ass I want to kiss you side. If she was going to be stuck with him for the next few weeks of training, she was going to have to trust him. He is going to have to trust her. Which meant they needed to get to know each other and that’s exactly what they do. But what happens if some lies turn into big issues?
I absolutely loved their story! Callum and Phoenix are not a hearts and flowers type of couple but they are just as adorable. They know what the other needs. They also know how to push each other’s buttons and call each other on their shit. I liked that the book isn’t just about them. It’s about family. Hers is going through some rough times. Will this summer camp bring them back together as a family like they once were? And Callum has his own inner turmoils to face. It really made the story more relatable.
Overall…I didn’t want it to end but I knew it had to. The characters are both lovable and relatable. Having it set at camp was a great change of scenery. I could just picture myself out there hiking, and gazing at the stars. Not so much with crafts, I am with Phoenix on that one. But, really…It’s a quick, fun, and insightful read.
Quotes:
“Are we having a bonding moment right now? Because I make it a point not to fraternize with the underlings.”
When he was kissing me, it was easy to forget that summer would come to an end.
“God, Phoenix. I can’t breathe when I’m with you.”
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
AP new -about the author.jpg
 
 
 
Nicole Williams is the New York Times and USATODAY bestselling author of contemporary and young adult romance, including the Crash and Lost & Found series. Her books have been published by HarperTeen and Simon & Schuster in both domestic and foreign markets, while she continues to self-publish additional titles. She is working on a new YA series with Crown Books (a division of Random House) as well. She loves romance, from the sweet to the steamy, and writes stories about characters in search of their happily even after. She grew up surrounded by books and plans on writing until the day she dies, even if it’s just for her own personal enjoyment. She still buys paperbacks because she’s all nostalgic like that, but her kindle never goes neglected for too long. When not writing, she spends her time with her husband and daughter, and whatever time’s left over she’s forced to fit too many hobbies into too little time.
 
Nicole is represented by Jane Dystel, of Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency.
 
 
 
 
 
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Blog Tour & Excerpt – Bellevue Bullies Series, Toni Aleo

June 11, 2017 By

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Jude Sinclair here, hockey player for the Bellevue Bullies and lover of all ladies. Hockey’s in my blood, and not to sound full of myself, but I’m good at it…really good. The draft is within my reach—it’s mine to take—but that’s not the only reason people know my name. They know me because of my way with women. They know the score, and I aim to please. I just tend to stay away from repeat performances. In other words, I don’t do relationships beyond my family and friends. I’m happy with life. However, I should warn you that my story and how I see it playing out is about to change due to a certain redhead on campus.
She’s beautiful. Stunning. Breathtaking.
She’s my game changer.
***
He’s trouble from the moment I see him. I don’t know what I’m thinking, but from the moment I meet his gaze, I’m his. It’s a scary feeling.
I’ve never trusted anyone outside my aunt and uncle—and even that took months. I didn’t have it easy growing up. My mom was usually strung out, and she didn’t give me a second thought. Drugs and the men who paid her were more important to her. It was horrible, but I’m stronger today. Because of my past, security is what I need most. Money assures me that I can take care of myself today, tomorrow, and next month. I don’t want to ever be hungry or go without again, so I work hard for every penny.
Oh, by the way, I’m Claire Anderson. I’m a hard-studying sophomore at the University of Bellevue, dancer for the school dance team, and a burlesque dancer at a club, but that’s my secret.
You may think you know how our story ends, but you have no clue. It’s not easy falling in love… or living happily ever after. At first it may seem so, but when is anything worth having ever won without a fight?
Especially when you’re boarded by love.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Things are heating up for the Sinclair boys! With one already in the NHL, Jayden Sinclair is hoping to be next!

This has been the toughest year of my life. I watched my brother go into the draft without me, my mom got divorced, and the weight of my family’s issues is heavy on my shoulders. I feel like it’s my job to fix everything while working my butt off in school and trying to make my game better. I have to go into the draft. It will give my family the support they need, and it will prove that I’m good enough. But to get there, I have to show I can be the best captain for the Bellevue Bullies. The spot is mine—no one can take it. First though, Jude is making me go on a brother’s weekend. Innocent enough, I guess…until I see her. She’s the biggest competitor I’ve ever faced. Not only for my spot but also my heart. It’s hard to ignore someone like Baylor Moore.
***
I don’t lose. I can’t. My dad has bred me to be the best in anything I do. I am driven, I am smart, and I am going to be the first woman in the National Hockey League. No two ways about it. I’ve worked too hard. I’ve been through too much not to have what I want. I know I can do it. I will make my dad proud, and no one will stand in the way of that. That is, until I let him in. He scares me. He makes me feel. And he could very well be the one person who can make me want more than just to win.
We both have the same goal. Victory. But how do you compete against the person you want to win? It’s not easy. Love isn’t something you can control. It isn’t like a puck that can be handled by a stick. No, it has a mind of its own and does what it wants.
Neither of us saw it coming, and we really don’t know if there is a way to score, especially when you’re being Clipped by Love.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Things are out of control for the Sinclair boys! With two already in the NHL, Jace Sinclair is ready to follow in his brothers’ HUGE skates in the last Bellevue Bullies novel…
Jace Sinclair here, and I’m amazing. There is no other way to describe me. I am the leading scorer for the Bellevue Bullies, I’m the captain, and people love me: my family, my teammates, my coach, and the NHL. This is my last year in college–I already have one foot in the draft. Hockey keeps me warm even when it’s freezing. It’s always there when nothing else is. And it pushes me to be the best I can be. It’s my one and only love.
That is, until I see her against a tree with a guitar.
Avery.
The last thing I wanted was to meet anyone. My heart is on the bench because of what happened with my parents, and I don’t want that for myself. I don’t want to be hurt by anyone. I can’t give them that power.
But my heart is begging for ice time, and I can’t control it around her.
* * *
I’ve always been in the background. No one has ever had time for me and that’s fine; I’ve learned to cope. Coming from a family where hockey is life, the last thing I want is some big, burly hockey player charging at me. I don’t have time for it, but Jace Sinclair isn’t one to be deked around.
I didn’t want to meet anyone. I didn’t want to end up freezing the puck with him. It’s not what I want.
I have demons.
I have issues.
Living in the shadows, no one even knew until it was too late. But Jace wants to know.
He wants me.
And that scares me the living hell out of me.

We were so worried about what would happen if we fell, but we never thought what could happen in the process of falling. We never saw it coming. But it’s here, and the repercussions are not pretty. We should have known that there is no way out of the zone when you are being Hooked by Love.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Boarded by Love
The Bellevue Bullies Series
 
 
 

Claire

Something is off tonight.

I don’t know what it is, and I don’t know why I’m feeling like this tonight. But as I sit staring at myself in the mirror, I can’t help but want more than what I’m doing right now. I mean, I have a good life and I am happy now, but something, something is missing. It honestly makes no sense; I’m actually loved and happy, so I have no clue what is wrong with me. I have everything I need and could ask for. But instead of being thankful and grateful, I question myself – my life – when I shouldn’t because thankfully, I don’t have to live the way I did four years ago.

I no longer have to worry constantly if my mom will be coming home with food instead of drugs or booze, that she wouldn’t be alone. She was never alone. She always came home with some random sleazy guy that she would make me call “uncle,” if he was around for more than five minutes. And soon the food she hopefully brought with her, usually cold, greasy KFC or burgers, would be forgotten. Instead, shit would get weird in our hundred square foot trailer; my heart would race, and I would be hiding underneath my bed from my new “uncle.”

She had a tendency to pick the supershitty guys – it was like her superpower, one I hope she didn’t pass down to me. She especially managed to pick the ones who liked to touch little girls, but thankfully, I was pretty good at getting away. I was always a kicker, a biter, and a nut-puncher. But that all changed when I turned fourteen – my mom brought home a guy that did get to me.

Because that time I didn’t try to get away.

Wasn’t my greatest decision, and I regret it now, but at the time I wanted to feel something. I wanted to feel what my mom felt, because obviously she was feeling something great, judging by the noises she made, but I felt absolutely nothing. I really wanted to eat that day. I hadn’t eaten in four days, I was starving, and he worked at the grocery store, so I figured it was a good bet. I was empty in more ways than one, so I did it to get what I needed.

And because of that moment, for the next two years, I lived just like my mother. Drinking the Two-Buck Chuck she brought home, having sex with any guy who wanted me and promised me dinner. Disgusting, I know. I was basically what my mom was – a whore. And I was living the life I thought I was destined for, living the life I was dealt because no one gave a shit enough to tell me that there could have been anything else.

That all changed when my mom was brutally killed.  

It was surreal, and for a long time I didn’t believe it. I also blamed everyone, I think because I was so disgusted in myself that I wasn’t sad. I didn’t miss her. I was glad to be free of her, but I thought that made me a bad person. I was mostly mad at my real uncle for not saving me when he could. I’ll never forget the moment that my uncle Phillip came into my life. I was sixteen, and I was angry that my mom was gone because of her own stupidity. I was scared that I was going to end up like her. For the first time, survival was not the most important option, and I was messed up. My great-aunt had been hell, putting me in religious rehab, calling me a whore and telling me I was just like my mother, and trying to “SAVE ME WITH THE JESUS.” I just couldn’t go back to her version of rehab with the orderlies that had grabby hands. That was not an option, so I did the most logical thing. I tore her house apart and packed what little shit I had and was gone.

I was walking down the street, getting ready to walk right out of town if I had to. But I knew I needed to stop and think, so I went to my favorite place, the Sculpture Garden in Minneapolis where I grew up. As I thought about my next move and what to do, Phillip was there to get me. He was driving from my aunt’s house, trying to find me, and when he did, he wasn’t going anywhere without me. He convinced me to go get waffles at this diner across the street, and it was there that he told me that he wasn’t going to let me go the way he had let his sister go. Of course, I didn’t believe him. I was used to men making promises they didn’t keep just to use me. But now, three years later, I couldn’t be more grateful for him.

At the time, I didn’t understand how anyone thought a single, twenty-nine-year-old man would know how to take care of an angry sixteen-year-old, but obviously someone knew that he was what I needed. It wasn’t easy. The first six months of being with him were complete hell. I drove him crazy; I tried to sleep with a couple of the guys from the Assassins, the team he played pro hockey for. I tried to push every button I could on him, but he never broke. He kept strong, told me he loved me, and would always be there for me, no matter what I did.

I’d never had that.

My mom only told me she loved me when she was strung out, wearing ripped up fishnets with makeup smeared on her face while she leaned back on some guy, his eyes locked on my small, fragile body. Or when she needed me to go to the store for cigarettes, or condoms, or something. And as I got older, she stopped saying it because I was competition for the attention of the men she brought home. I wanted to vomit when she would say it because I knew it wasn’t true. If she really loved me, why was I living in a roach-infested house, hiding under my bed from the fourteenth “uncle” of the month? Why would I lock myself in the bathroom and cry because I was so hungry while she had lines of cocaine laid on every flat surface in the house, higher than a kite. Why wasn’t I important enough?

I was destined to end up like her, and I probably would have ended up like her – beaten, raped, and found in a ditch – if Phillip hadn’t come into my life.

It wasn’t just Phillip, though; it was Reese too, his now soon-to-be wife. Before, I never had goals; I only wanted to get through the next day, wanting to feel anything enough to sleep with the next guy who wanted me. I used to think that I wasn’t worth much, but Reese helped me to see that being a coked-out stripper like my mom wasn’t what I was meant to be. I wasn’t easy to talk to, but she found a way, and that was through dance. I’ve always loved to dance, not of the stripper variety like my mom, but more like the really awesome, choreographed stuff. I would spend hours watching music videos, when my mom would remember to pay the cable bill, and I would mimic the girls in the videos. I was amazing, and when Reese found me doing just that in her sister’s house, the next thing I knew she had me in her studio learning routines with her.

And soon my dream was born.

Even looking at myself now, that dream still wants to be a reality. I feel it in my heart. I want to be a world-famous choreographer, teaching people like Justin Timberlake amazing routines to perform all over the world, or in Vegas, choreographing shows. The only problem is I’m not sure if it will to keep me safe, stable, and steady. I need that. After years of not knowing when my next meal was coming, I can’t just throw caution to the wind and hope I make it. I need safety. I need stability. I’ve had that the last three years because of Phillip, but I can’t depend on him my whole life. I can’t depend on anyone. I have to work for me.

So while I would have loved to go to a dance school like Reese suggested, I decided to stay home near them and go for business. Maybe I’ll take over Reese’s dance studio, or maybe start my own. The possibilities are endless, and I think that maybe I’m working here just to have the option to go do something amazing later.

“Claire, you go on in thirty.”

I nod without looking as I know the voice belongs to Ms. Prissy, before reaching back to French braid my bright red hair. Tucking it up in the back since my hair is so long, I reach for my black wig and slide it on my head. Pinning down the wig real tight, I start to put on my makeup in a rush. I’m running a tad bit behind since I stayed at the studio later, working on a routine for a duet that will compete in a couple weeks. As I apply my eye shadow in a dark, dramatic way, my hand pauses as the only advice my mom ever gave me rushes through my mind: Never look back, baby. That’s a real good way to get hit, head-on.

Crap, why am I thinking of that? I can’t sit here and think of her right now. I don’t do it often, but when I do, I dwell, and right now is not the time to dwell. Ms. Prissy doesn’t like when you’re late, and I try never to be. I needed a job like this and got lucky when she wanted to hire me. I know that Phillip and Reese would give me the world if I asked, but I don’t like to ask for things. I want to stand on my own two feet, be able to afford my next meal, and working here, I’ve managed to bank more than I ever thought, and I don’t plan on stopping until I graduate. Then I’ll have a down payment for a business of my own or to redo Reese’s. I don’t know. We will see.

“Oh my God, Claire!”

I look back at one of my friends, Ellen, with a puzzled look on my face. “What? What happened?

She didn’t look like anything was wrong, but you never knew with her. Ellen reminds me a lot of my mom. She isn’t an addict or anything, but she sure does love the men, and they love her. With her luscious blond hair, big breasts, blue eyes, and big, plump lips, the guys eat her up. She’s sweet, but outside of work, we aren’t friends. I don’t need someone in my life who reminds me of my mom.

“That asshole I was sleeping with, he gave me crabs!”

I gasp, “What? One of your rockers?”

“Rockers” was what the girls who worked in the Rock Room called the guys who came in there. When the station beside me shakes, I look over to see my friend Tessi rushing to get ready. I shoot her a grin before turning back to Ellen.

“No! Heck no, but because I got the crabs, I can’t fucking dance in there till I get rid of them. That’s like a WEEK! I’m so fucking pissed.”

I nod. I’d be pissed too if I actually worked in that room, but I don’t, by choice. I don’t have to grind on some forty-five-year-old for extra money. The girls in the club pay me extra to choreograph their routines – management does too for the group numbers – so I am pretty secure without the extra dough, plus my tips are fantastic. Some of the girls say they bring home thousands, but still, I can’t do it. There is a difference between dancing onstage in only a bra and undies and dancing naked on some guy. I don’t mind being looked at, but I do have a problem being touched. Hence the reason I haven’t had sex in three years. I feel I did that enough in my younger teen years to suffice for the rest of my life.

“So who were you sleeping with?” I ask Ellen.

“Allen West, told ya he was a sleaze,” Tessi says from beside me. I glance over at her before looking back at Ellen and then looking back at Tessi. I’m confused.

“Allen? My Allen? Tall Allen?”

“Yeah, didn’t you go out with him a few times?” Ellen asks.

I blink a few times, confused. “I am still going out with him.”

Tessi scoffs beside me as Ellen exclaims, “What?! That douche told me you broke up!”

“I mean, we weren’t really together, but we were seeing each other. I never slept with him or anything,” I say, but I still can’t believe that not only has Ellen been sleeping with him, but he gave her crabs. Small miracles… Small freaking miracles.

“Damn girl, I’m so sorry,” Ellen says with a worried look on her face.

I shake my head, waving her off. “Don’t worry about it.”

With a curt smile, Ellen runs off as I sit with my brush still held up to my face. I can’t believe it. Allen West was a decent guy, solid, or at least I thought he was. I stayed clear of guys my freshman year and the beginning of this year, but somehow Allen talked me into a date and then another. The next thing I knew, we were walking across the quad holding hands. We had never officially put labels on each other, but he was fun to hang out with, and I thought that he would be a great guy to end my celibacy streak with, but I guess I was wrong.

“Wow. Just wow. Man, I can pick ’em, huh?” I say with a shake of my head.

“Yeah, I was gonna tell you about that today. Ellen called me last night, but I forgot to call you when I looked back down at my sociology work. I am going to fail that class,” Tessi says as she brings her brown hair up into a high ponytail. Tessi, my friend Skylar, and I are the only girls from UB who work in the club. It’s great money, easy hours, and they let you come and go as you please. Plus we have actual security so we won’t get jumped in the parking lot. Girls who waitress at TGI Fridays have more problems than we do. And make less in tips.

“It’s okay, and no, you won’t fail. I’ll help you,” I say as I watch her for a moment. Tessi gives me a bright smile as I continue to watch her get ready. I’m zoning out a lot tonight, which is unusual. Usually I’m on top of things, helping the other girls who are behind. Tessi never needs my help, though. She’s a lot like me, a go-getter, climbing out of her own issues. That’s probably why we’re such great friends. We both get it. We met at freshman orientation and became fast friends. I am the one who got her the job here. She is a great friend and one of the most beautiful girls I have ever seen.

She has beautiful, big brown eyes, with thick black lashes framing them, big breasts, and beautifully plump lips. She has dangerous curves and a really great attitude. Like me, she had lived a pretty rough life, and now is doing everything to make sure she never has to go back to the life she used to live. She’s going to school to be a social worker; she wants to help kids who had shitty lives. She always tells me that she wishes someone had been there for her and me, and I do too, but then I think that maybe it was for the best. We learned from that shit and pulled ourselves together, and going to live with Phillip was probably the best thing ever. I know that it wasn’t ideal for a kid to grow up like that, but I’ve accepted it. I figure it made me stronger. I learned from it and got my drive from it. I’m stronger than any of the silly girls I go to school with, and I like that. I wear my childhood like a badge of honor instead of being ashamed of it.

She turns to look at me and smiles. “You’re not torn up by this, are you? Allen was a dick. You can get someone way better, girl. Don’t sweat it.”

She was right, obviously he didn’t mean that much to me, because I’m not mad or even broken up about it. I don’t even feel like I lost anything. I feel nothing. Surprise maybe because he was harboring an STD but nothing else. I nod. “Nope, not torn up at all. I’m not mad that he slept with someone else while talking to me, but I am mad that he could have gotten my vagina sick.”

Tessi nods sagely as she moves some gloss along her bottom lip. “I would be too. Give him hell, girlfriend, but right now, you need to pop your contacts in and get onstage. Ms. Prissy hasn’t been laid in weeks, and she is in full bitch mode, I can promise you that.”

I laugh out loud as I turn to look back at myself. I still have a lot to do. I wish I could be like Tessi and not care if someone recognizes me in this place, but it always freaks me out that Phillip could come in here, or one of his friends. I’m not ashamed of what I do by any means, but I still don’t like to advertise it. Plus, I’m not a hundred percent sure how Phillip would feel about this. Reese knows, but I’ve never brought it up to Phillip, and neither has she. But really, the thought of some guy coming up to me outside of the club is enough, so I do everything I can to change my appearance.

Reaching for my contact case, I open it quickly, popping in my dark brown contacts to cover my bright blue eyes. Positioning some fake lashes to make my eyes look fuller, I finish my eye makeup before applying some bright red lipstick. Pursing my lips at myself, satisfied with the way I look, I smile at my reflection before standing up to get ready. Reaching for my outfit for the night, I hurry to get ready because, like Tessi said, Ms. Prissy could be a major bitch when she wasn’t getting laid regularly. After sliding the crystal-encrusted booty shorts up over my black fishnets, I slide my feet into a pair of black high heels as Tessi stands up to help me tie up the back of the crystal-studded corset.

“Claire! Let’s go,” Ms. Prissy yells.

Tessi laughs before swatting me on my butt. “Good luck.”

I flash her a grin as I grab my fans and make my way to the curtain. Tonight, I’m doing an old-fashioned burlesque fan dance. I’d seen it on TV one night and then spent the next two weeks researching and rehearsing my set before I showed Ms. Prissy and management at the club. That was a year ago, and now I was the most popular act on the busiest night. I also do pole and regular burlesque dancing, but the fans are my favorite. I send Ms. Prissy an apologetic smile as I run to my mark, but all I receive back is an eye roll before she gets on the radio to let the tech guys know I’m ready. When “Diamonds” by Rihanna starts, I slowly pull the curtains back, revealing myself to the crowd as it erupts with catcalls and men hollering my name.

Showtime.

Oh, by the way, my name is Claire Anderson and I’m a nineteen-year-old sophomore at the University of Bellevue here in Tennessee. By night though, onstage and in this club, my name is Diamond, and I’m the best burlesque dancer at Ms. Prissy’s Gentlemen’s Club.

Nice to meet you.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
My name is Toni Aleo and I’m a total dork.
I am a wife, mother of two and a bulldog, and also a hopeless romantic.
I am the biggest Shea Weber fan ever, and can be found during hockey season with my nose pressed against the Bridgestone Arena’s glass, watching my Nashville Predators play!
When my nose isn’t pressed against the glass, I enjoy going to my husband and son’s hockey games, my daughter’s dance competition, hanging with my best friends, taking pictures, scrapbooking, and reading the latest romance novel.
I have a slight Disney and Harry Potter obsession, I love things that sparkle, I love the color pink, I might have been a Disney Princess in a past life… probably Belle.
… and did I mention I love hockey?
 
 
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