Spotlight, Review & Excerpt: COWBOY IN WOLF’S CLOTHING by Kait Ballenger

 

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COWBOY IN WOLF’S CLOTHING (Seven Range Shifters Book 2) by Kait Ballenger

Publication Date: June 25, 2019 

Genre: Paranormal Romance 

Synopsis

288462FD-6BB0-4BB8-8072-604724CB9CBCBorn a cowboy and bred a warrior…

High Commander Colt Cavanaugh has spent his life defending his pack and its sprawling ranchlands. But the hardened Grey Wolf soldier has a dark secret that could destroy his life forever.

Belle Beaumont is a wanted woman, on the run from the wolf pack that kidnapped her. When fate brings her face-to-face with the Grey Wolf High Commander himself, rivalry becomes passion, and suddenly more than just her freedom is at stake.

Colt will fight to the death for the healing Belle brings to his battle-worn heart—and for this cowboy wolf, all’s fair in love and war…

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Donna 5 Stars

This is a great follow-up to Cowboy Wolf Trouble, showing that this series will be fun to read. The trouble started immediately and spread throughout the book at the perfect pace. The drama wasn’t only from the vampires, but also from Colt and Belle themselves. Colt is the standoffish soldier and Belle, the skittish rogue with hidden mettle. They’re both dealing with their pasts and trying to move forward, thus giving them a nice depth of character. Their relationship built from instant attraction, to hot and spicy romance, to love. All this bound together with the pack camaraderie and the message that DNA isn’t the only thing that makes a family. I can’t wait for book 3 in this series.

*Review copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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Excerpt

“Good,” he said. “That leaves us time to discuss another negotiation.”

She raised a brow, pushed herself to standing, and crossed the clearing to return the spare adhesive and gauze to his saddlebag. “And what would that be?”

As she faced toward him again, a wicked grin crossed his lips. “The night we’re going to spend together.”

“Excuse me?”

He’d surprised her when he’d let slip that he wanted to protect her. Help her. But…Belle couldn’t have heard him correctly, could she?

“I want to make it clear that our prior agreements still stand, and they have no relation to your decision. Regardless of my position, you have a choice, of course.”

Maybe she had heard him correctly. He couldn’t possibly be serious. She gaped at him. Yes, there was heat between them. Tension. She sensed it too. But she wasn’t about to admit that. Definitely not to him. She couldn’t risk another relationship with an alpha wolf—no matter how attractive and brave he might be, or how tempting the offer. No matter how much she wanted to see that softer side of him again.

No. She needed to nip this in the bud before it got out of hand.

She settled on being saucy. It worked with him, and that seemed to be the only way they could converse without her simultaneously wanting to pull her hair out and feeling weak in the knees whenever he looked at her. “Do you often try to piss off women who saved your life?”

“Only when I’ve already seen them naked.”

She knew he was teasing, but still she forced a snarl.

Those intense gray eyes locked on to her, causing her stomach to fill with traitorous butterflies. “Is that what I do you to, Belle? Piss you off?”

The question was so to-the-point that it caught her off guard. She wasn’t certain she could define how he made her feel. Yes, there was frustration, but there was also something…more. Something complicated.

At her lack of response, he smirked. “I didn’t think so.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

He shrugged. “Only that you wear your emotions on your sleeve. You can glare and pucker those full pink lips at me like you’ve tasted something sour all you want, Belle, but your eyes give you away.”

She raised a brow. “Oh really? And what do they say?”

His gaze locked with hers. “They say that our verbal sparring doesn’t really piss you off at all. In fact, I’d go so far as to say you not only like it, you crave it.”

She laughed. “That’s absurd. I barely know you.”

“You don’t need to know someone to be attracted to them.”

“Me? Attracted to you?” She crossed her arms over her chest. “Not a chance.”

“You enjoyed when I held you naked against me—in the clearing.” He said it with such utter confidence, as if he knew it without a doubt. “You can’t deny that.”

She could, and she would for that matter, even if it wasn’t true. “Don’t flatter yourself, Colt.”

He chuckled darkly, pushing from where he sat on the log to stand. At his full height, he was all the more intimidating, towering over her. “I don’t need flattery. Most women find me attractive. It’s a matter of fact. Some are better at hiding it than others.” Those steely eyes fell to her. “But you’re not one of those women, Belle. You can’t hide your emotions, even when you try.”

She was hiding more from him than he’d ever know. “I’m not like most women.”

“No, you’re not,” he agreed. Colt’s eyes narrowed, and he stepped closer to the fire, staring into its depths. The flames burned bright, casting a dim orange glow on his face and creating shadows that hollowed the sharp lines of his cheekbones. “Most women bat their eyelashes, smile, and giggle when they find a man attractive. You, on the other hand, do the opposite. You narrow those pretty hazel eyes, pucker that little mouth, and let that viper-tongued wit fly, but it’s a defense mechanism. I’m a commander, Belle.” His gaze flicked toward her. “I know a defense tactic when I see one.”

“You think you have me all figured out, don’t you?”

“No.” He chuckled. “I know a challenge when I see one, and you work hard to be a challenge, Belle. But if the look in your wolf eyes is any indication, you may be a challenge, but you’re not as difficult to solve as you think. Not for me.”

She scoffed at him. “You’re not my type at all.”

It wasn’t true. Not in the slightest. But she needed to try to keep him at arm’s length. Her experiences with Wyatt had taught her that. It didn’t matter that she wanted otherwise. Before Colt, Belle hadn’t been certain she had a type, but with each passing second, she became more certain that if there were a reference book of her life, under “Belle’s type” Colt Cavanaugh’s picture would be the definition. See synonyms for reference: worst fear, here-comes-trouble, and The Devil Wears a Cowboy Hat.

There was that wolfish grin again. He saw straight through her. “Could have fooled me.” He turned away from the fire and drew closer. “I saw your desire in the clearing, felt the way you melted into my arms.”

Her hands clenched into fists. She was quickly losing this battle. “I was faking it.”

He shook his head, that grin still curving his lips in the slightest tilt as he prowled toward her. “You’re lying.”

He stood in front of her now, less than a foot away. She retreated until her spine pushed flush against one of the mighty pines behind her. The width and breadth of his shoulders dwarfed her, but still she fought to regain control. This was no more than one of his power plays.

“Then prove it.” The words slipped from her lips before she could stop them.

Those metal-gray eyes burned a molten liquid steel. “There are two things you need to know about me, Belle. The first is that I hate to be defied. As a commander, I’m more than used to getting my way. In fact, I damn well expect it. The second is that I never back down from a challenge”—his next words were a near growl—“because I always win.”

Her eyes narrowed. “Do your worst, Commander.”

Excerpted from Cowboy in Wolf’s Clothing by Kait Ballenger. © 2019 by Kait Ballenger. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Buy Links

Kindle | Amazon Paperback

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About the Author

ROMANCE AUTHOR, WORLD TRAVELER, ENGLISH PROFESSOR, AND FORMER PROFESSIONAL
BELLYDANCER, Kait Ballenger hated reading when she was a child, because she was horrible at it. Then by chance she picked up the Harry Potter series at the age of eight, fell in love with reading, and never looked back. When she realized she could tell her own stories, the deal was sealed. After stints working as a real vampire (aka a phlebotomist), a bingo caller, and a professional bellydancer, Kait finally decided that her eight-year-old self knew best: Kait’s meant to be a writer…though the jury is still out on being the next J.K Rowling.

When Kait’s not preoccupied with writing captivating paranormal romance, page-turning suspense or love scenes that make even seasoned romance readers blush, she can usually be found spending time with her family or with her nose buried in a good book. She lives in Florida with her husband and two young sons.

And yes, she can still bellydance with the best of them…

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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Review: HER OTHER SECRET: A Novel by HelenKay Dimon

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HER OTHER SECRET: A Novel by HelenKay Dimon

Publication Date: June 25, 2019

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Synopsis

BEC793FA-320E-44F0-9C96-6973BF5B3A49Is it the perfect escape?

 Whitaker Island is more than a getaway. For Tessa Jenkins, the remote strip of land in Washington state is a sanctuary. Fleeing from a shattering scandal, she has a new name, a chance at a new beginning, and a breathtaking new view: Hansen Rye. It’s hard not to crush on Whitaker’s hottest handyman. At six-foot-three and all kinds of fine, he’s also intensely private—and the attraction between them soon simmers dangerously out of control.

…or a private trap for two lovers?

After a devastating family tragedy, Hansen finds the pebbled shores of the faraway island to be an ideal refuge. Letting down his guard for the sexy, impulsive Tessa is an unexpected pleasure. But there’s another newcomer to Whitaker. He’s no stranger to Hansen. And when he’s murdered, the crime casts a threatening shadow. As suspicion falls on Hansen, all his secrets are about to collide with Tessa’s. Now the pasts they were determined to outrun are catching up to them. So is a killer who’s putting their love—and their lives—on the line.

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Donna review 4.5 stars

I had fun reading this story. The witty repartee between Tessa and Hansen was easy and never seemed forced. The residents of the island added to the mystery and enjoyment, showing enough banter and secrets to make me hungry for more. I see a lot of future stories hiding in Whitaker.

Even though Tessa and Hansen were both hesitant to start a relationship, neither bogged down the romance with overdone reluctance. It all flowed nicely into a sexy story. As for the storyline…it was mystery upon mystery, with suspense and danger thrown in. Just when I thought I had things figured out – something new came up. The book was a bit convoluted at times, but that added to the who-done-it theme that wrapped up neatly in the end.

*Review copy provided by Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. 

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Buy Links

Kindle | Amazon Paperback

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About the Author

HelenKay Dimon is a former divorce attorney turned full-time romance author. Odd transition, right? She has sold over thirty novels, novellas and shorts to numerous publishers, including Kensington, Harlequin and Penguin, Samhain, Carina Press, and HarperCollins. Her nationally bestselling and award-winning books have been showcased in numerous venues and her books have twice been named “Red-Hot Reads” and excerpted in Cosmopolitan magazine. But the best part of the job is never having to wear pantyhose.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads

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Feature, Interview, Excerpt & Giveaway: ONLY EVER YOU by CD Reiss

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ONLY EVER YOU by CD Reiss

Publication Date: July 9, 2019

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis

49792628-44F1-4ADE-816C-4F271C6A16FDRachel knew exactly what turning thirty would be like. She had a plan, after all. First college, then a climb up the professional ladder. Love, marriage, children. All of it was on the schedule.

The cheap Hollywood apartment wasn’t on the list. Neither was the string of heartbreaks. Or the effect her mother’s cancer had on her career.

It’s hard to stay practical and on point when everything takes a left turn.

Enter Sebastian, the nerd across the street. The boy she defended when he couldn’t defend himself. The best friend she promised she’d marry if life didn’t go according to plan.

Not only is he successful, confident, and gorgeous, but he also still has their handwritten marriage contract.

No one goes through with childhood wedding pacts.

That’s crazy.

But their families might just be crazy enough to rent a hall and set a date. All Rachel and Sebastian have to do is fall in love.

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Excerpt

After I left her and CJ with Lucinda, I spent the weekly staff meeting wondering if Rachel was the same warrior I’d loved or if she was more the woman who’d held her laptop to her chest as if she needed protection.

I was obsessed.

I had to know.

Her text came in as I was leaving the meeting. 

I need to check that we’re kidding

Before I could finish typing a response, I caught her coming out of the bathroom with her laptop under her arm.

Alone. Me and her. Nothing between us but the question of who we were and how we fit.

“Seb, I—”

She didn’t have a chance to finish. I crowded her back into the bathroom and locked the door behind us.

“Kidding about what?” I said.

“About getting married.”

“Why would that even be a question?”

“Our parents have been in negotiations about it.”

My mother couldn’t keep herself from talking if she tried, and I was her favorite subject.

“It might be a little soon for marriage, but—”

“Soon? I don’t like you seeing what I do for a living while you’re in a glass-walled office overlooking the ocean. I mean, I’m not marriage material, and the odds are that’s never going to change.”

“I don’t see why a date’s off the table.”

“Do you know what’s going to happen if we date?”

The list of possibilities was as long as my arm. I could have counted them off, from “We decide we hate each other” to “We end up in bed.” But I didn’t, because I was still trying to figure her out.

What did she want to hear?

With her wide eyes and parted lips, what did she want? Did she have a fondest wish where I was concerned? Was she leaning forward? Was her expression soft and yielding?

My mind spent too long deciding what to say, so my body spoke for me.

I kissed her hard and was met with teeth and stiff resistance. It was a kiss I’d wanted since I’d had hairless armpits and a voice somewhere in the low soprano range. I’d dreamed about it. Fantasized about it. Thought about it so hard in the middle of the night I could practically feel it.

But never, ever in my fantasies did she push me away so hard I fell back against a towel dispenser, watching her face twist into surprised rage as the machine spit out a ragged rectangle of brown paper.

“That was—”

“Messed up. I know.”

“Then why? What is wrong with you?”

She was livid, just like she would have been. Just like she should have been.

The tiger within Rachel was in there, and my attempt to tease her out had probably alienated her. She’d be right to never speak to me again.

“I’m sorry,” I said with my hand on the door lock. “I misread you. It won’t happen again.”

I started to open the door, but she held it closed.

“If we date, my mother’s going to get her hopes up that I’m going to settle down. And I’m sorry, Seb, but if we break up while she’s in chemo, it’s going to crush her.”

“You don’t even know if she’s sick again.”

“You’re right.” She pointed a rigid finger at me as if I were her mother. “I’m going to make her tell me.”

“You’re really beautiful when you’re telling it like it is.”

She slid her hand off the door. Having been called out, the warrior was sent into hiding.

No. I wouldn’t accept that. I wouldn’t allow it.

“Let’s just go out and catch up,” I said. “Saturday.”

“Can’t. Saturday’s the soonest I can talk to Mom.”

I unlocked the door. “I’m sorry about . . . the thing.”

“Kissing me?”

“No, wasting paper towels. Of course kissing you.”

“Next time, give a girl a little warning.”

Next time? Her eyes darted to the door. Was she calculating the distance to her getaway? Or making sure it was closed?

“How about now?” I asked.

“Now what?”

“Fair warning. Now.”

I stepped a little closer and put my hands on her arms. Not right away. I let them hover an inch away before touching her to give her the chance to move away. A chance I was sure she’d take.

“Seb, really?”

But she didn’t move away.

Not this time. When I laid my hands on her biceps, she leaned in to me just a little. I smelled the floral lotion on her skin and a hint of cool water on her breath.

“Really.” I slid the laptop from her arms and placed it on the counter. “This is your warning.”

You’re doing this. I cannot believe you’re doing this.

“It doesn’t feel like a warning,” she said, and again—I noted—she didn’t move away.

“Flashing red lights.” My lips brushed her cheek, heading for her mouth. She felt better than I ever imagined. “A buzzer, maybe.”

“Just a kiss?” she asked, her lips moving against mine.

Before I could consummate what she was agreeing to, I was smacked by a swinging door.

“Oh!” CJ said. “I’m sorry! I was looking for you.”

Rachel snatched up her laptop and walked out. CJ raised an eyebrow with good reason, since I was in the ladies’ room. I left, and we all gathered in the hall.

Awkward.

“Well,” Rachel said. “Thanks for showing us your tedious financial-sector company.”

“Thank you for coming,” I said and let them walk away. I could have done or said much more, but not without getting her into trouble. She glanced back at me when they turned the corner, as if she wanted to make sure I was still there.

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Please introduce your newest release. 

Only Ever You is about a girl who planned for everything but never got what she hoped for, and a dweeb who hoped he’d to marry the girl, but never planned for it.

Rachel and Sebastian have an interesting history. They were friends as kids, but have lost touch as adults… 

They’re really strangers when they reunite at 30, but they’re burdened by what they think they know about each other. Sebastian was supposed to be an artist and Rachel was supposed to be a screenwriter. They have to shake all that stuff loose before they can see each other. When they do, they’re strangers. 

I think attraction between strangers is real. Sexual heat is real. But “hearts and flowers” are earned. (I know that sounds like I’m your dad telling you to mow lawns, but that’s where the magic is. Not the lawns.) In the time just before you’re struck by lightning there’s a real electricity. It’s pure potential and anything can go wrong. It’s the best thing ever.

When they were kids they made up a ‘contract’ to get married at 30—which is pretty much panned when they do meet up and have the most awkward first kiss EVER. How do they overcome such an incredibly uncomfortable situation?

They overcome it by running away!

Sebastian is thinking “now or never” because he thinks Rachel’s never going to think he’s any cooler than when she sees him in the office of his own company. And she isn’t ready because her whole idea of herself is tied up in what a failure she is. Neither one of them is feeling good enough about themselves to have a really hot first kiss, which is the same reason they’re not ready to get married.

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Buy Links

Kindle | Amazon Paperback

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Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card and Digital Copy of CD Reiss’ ONLY EVER YOU

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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About the Author

47B52A27-9590-4F01-967D-218A756F2101CD Reiss is a New York Times bestselling author. She still has to chop wood and carry water, which was buried in the fine print. Her lawyer is working it out with God, but in the meantime, if you call and she doesn’t pick up, she’s at the well hauling buckets. Born in New York City, Reiss moved to Hollywood, California, to get her master’s degree in screenwriting from USC. In case you want to know, that went nowhere—but it did give her a big enough ego to write novels.

Reiss is frequently referred to as the Shakespeare of Smut, which is flattering but hasn’t ever gotten her out of chopping that cord of wood. If you meet her in person, you should call her Christine. Text cdreiss to 77948 to get a notification whenever she has a new release.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS | TWITTER

Review: DRAKON’S KNIGHT (Blood of the Drakon) by N.J. Walters

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DRAKON’S KNIGHT (Blood of the Drakon, Book 7) by N.J. Walters

Publication Date: June 24, 2019

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Synopsis

DC152ACA-4186-4F19-A784-DC8676E7C045Drakon Jericho Drake, the child of a pure-blood dragon and human, has a simple plan: Kill the leader of the Knights of the Dragon and start a war. Except, when he meets his target, Karina Azarov, she can’t remember who she is. Worst of all––he can’t kill her. His dragon side has just claimed the dangerous woman as his mate.

Karina has no idea why these Drakon’s have taken her to their home. And she most certainly does not understand why she’s so drawn to her captor. Maybe because he’s strong, intelligent, and caring, in his enigmatic sort of way. One thing she knows, he’s not going to hurt her. If only she could remember something from her past that would explain why these Drakon’s hate her so much.

But if her memory returns, mated or not, he may get his war.. And one of them will die.

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Cori 4 Stars

I thoroughly enjoyed DRAKON’S KNIGHT. It’s the seventh book in N.J. Walters’ Blood of the Drakon Series. I recommend reading the books in order, but each book can be read as a stand-alone. When I picked up DRAKON’S KNIGHT I was unsure if I would like Karina because I didn’t like her in the previous books, but I found myself admiring her. Jericho and Karina story was full of passion, mystery and danger and I couldn’t put it down. N. J. Walters’ paranormal world of drakons (half dragons/ half men) and the evil knights that hunt them is a unique paranormal series that I highly recommend for paranormal romance lovers looking for a great dragon shifter series. I’m hooked!

*Review copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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Buy Links

Kindle | Paperback

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✦Blood of the Drakon Series by N.J. Walters✦
1. Drakon’s PromiseKindle | Review
2. Drakon’s PreyKindle | Review
3. Drakon’s PlunderKindle | Review
4. Drakon’s PastKindle
5. Drakon Unchained ➢ Kindle
6. Drakon’s Tear ➢ Kindle
7. Drakon’s Knight ➢ Kindle

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About the Author

N.J. Walters is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author who has always been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels of her own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, time-travelers, seductive handymen, and next-door neighbors with smoldering good looks—all vie for her attention. It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to live it.

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Review: THAT SECOND CHANCE (Getting Lucky Book 1) by Meghan Quinn

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THAT SECOND CHANCE (Getting Lucky Book 1) by Meghan Quinn

Publication Date: May 7, 2019

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Synopsis

246EDDC9-69CD-4D8E-A991-40BE2540261AUSA Today bestselling author Meghan Quinn delivers a smart and cheeky romance about love’s power to lift hearts . . . and curses.

It was supposed to be an innocent night, celebrating my brother’s birthday. Nothing was supposed to go wrong. We’d vowed to be on our best behavior after all . . .

But it only took one rowdy night with my brothers to flip my world upside down. One unlucky encounter saddled us with a family curse and the promise of doomed relationships. I laughed it off immediately. “Yeah, right,” I thought. “A love curse. Ha!”

Boy, was I wrong.

Word spreads quickly in a town like mine; rumors about that night soon made us the most eligible yet untouchable bachelors in Port Snow, Maine. As a subject of endless gossip and speculation, I could kiss my dating life goodbye.

It would have stayed that way if Ren Winters, the new girl in town, hadn’t crashed into my life. Brave, beautiful, and smart—her vivacious thirst for a fresh start has given me hope that maybe, just maybe, I can have one too.

Everyone wishes for that second chance . . . but could this really be mine?

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Donna 5 Stars

After reading this, I am moving to Port Snow. I loved the people in the little town and how they interacted. I liked Ren right away with her slightly awkward introduction to Griffin…who was of course, wonderful. They had a wonderful flirty banter that never seemed forced, but rather flowed off the page and made me smile. The same holds true with Griffin’s family and their teasing and fun verbal sparring. The love story moved at an appropriate pace and the heat level was just right. It all came together to make a lovely contemporary romance that still has me smiling. I can’t wait for book two, and hope Ms. Quinn decides to write more than just the two…I want more.

*Review copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Buy Links

Kindle | Paperback

If you have Kindle Unlimited you can borrow this series for Free!

Join Amazon Kindle Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial

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About the Author

USA Today Bestselling Author, wife, adoptive mother, and peanut butter lover. Author of romantic comedies and contemporary romance, Meghan Quinn brings readers the perfect combination of heart, humor, and heat in every book.

Never miss another NEW RELEASE, text READ to 474747.

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Review & Giveaway: SOLACE ISLAND (Solace Island Series) by Meg Tilly

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CLIFF’S EDGE (Solace Island Series Book 2) by Meg Tilly

Publication Date: May 21, 2019

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Synopsis

40FFF8DE-69FC-44FB-8731-7F0521226ACAMeg Tilly returns with a second gripping romantic suspense novel set on the idyllic Solace Island in the Pacific Northwest.

Eve Harris is all set to house-sit and run the bakery she shares with her sister while Maggie goes on her honeymoon, but there’s one problem—the house is already occupied. By a movie star. He claims to be her brother-in-law’s friend, and not only does he insist on staying, he also offers to help. Playing house has never been so tempting…

Rhys Thomas is looking for a place to lie low after wrapping up his latest film, so when Luke offers up his house as a safe haven, Rhys sees the perfect opportunity for a little R & R. But rest is the last thing on his mind as he and Eve grow close.

But Eve and Rhys are not as alone as they think. And as danger trails Eve, it will take everything Rhys has to save the woman he loves.

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Donna review 4.5 stars

I enjoyed this romantic suspense installment in the Solace Island series. The looming danger started off with a bang and made me edgy wondering when the axe would fall. Granted, the villain was a bit questionable for me regarding logistics and probability, but not enough to ruin this sexy romance. Although Eve made me frown when she came across as a bit of a harpy to Rhys in the beginning, that changed rather quickly so we could get down to the budding romance. I liked her and related to her. I was pleased that Rhys didn’t play as the stereotypical famous actor. He was personable, had a deep past and was an all-around nice guy – easy to fall in love with. Their romance flowed nicely into quite a sexy relationship. It was a fun trip back to Solace Island and has me anxious to visit again.

*Review copy provided by Penguin in exchange for an honest review.

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Kindle | Paperback

Amazon Series Link

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Giveaway

Enter Facebook Paperback Giveaway HERE

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image Meg Tilly may be best known for her acclaimed Golden Globe-winning lead performance in the movie Agnes of God. Other screen credits include The Big Chill, Valmont, and more recently, Bomb Girls, and Netflix’s movie War Machine, starring Brad Pitt. After publishing six standout young adult and literary women’s fiction novels, the award-winning author/actress decided to write the kind of books she loves to read–romance novels. Tilly has three grown children and resides with her husband in the Pacific Northwest. She is currently at work writing the next Solace Island novel.

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Spotlight, Excerpt & Giveaway: THE COWBOY MEETS HIS MATCH by Margaret Brownley

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THE COWBOY MEETS HIS MATCH (The Haywire Brides Series, Book 2) by Margaret Brownley

Publication Date: May 28, 2019

Genre: Western Romance

Synopsis

D684EA04-1263-45F0-9095-51489D39511EHis first mistake was marrying her.

His second was falling in love.

Chase McKnight will do anything to secure his family’s ranch—but marriage to a complete stranger? That’s a hard pill to swallow. Yet the will is clear: Chase needs a wife by his side if he wants to keep his home, so he meets his veiled lady at the courthouse steps and reluctantly says “I do”.

Too bad he married the wrong bride.

When Boston runaway Emily Fields agreed to marry a Texas stranger to escape her family’s scandal, she wasn’t prepared to get hitched to the wrong cowboy! Stuck in a secret compromise, she has one year to learn the ways of the ranch and convince Chase’s family they’re happily married. But when the lie becomes true, the past catches up to them and they must save the love they never expected…

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Excerpt

Watching Emily stagger away like a drunken cowhand, Chase kicked himself mentally. Now he’d done it.
All he’d wanted to do was keep a safe distance from her emotionally. It was the only way he could keep from thinking things he had no business thinking. Things like how she’d looked in that blasted towel.
But he’d gone too far, and now it appeared he had pushed her away completely.
He hated thinking that he’d taken out the resentment toward his father on her. She wasn’t to blame for any of this and was as much a victim of circumstances as he was.
Feeling lower than low, he watched her cross the yard for a moment before chasing after her. She might not admit it, but it was clear by the way she limped that she was hurting.
Emily stopped when he caught up to her. “Now what?” she demanded, eyes flashing.
“I just want to make sure you’re okay.”
If she was surprised by his interest in her welfare, it didn’t show. “I’m fine!” she snapped. “No thanks to you.”
Yep, she was hurting all right. He could see the strain in her eyes. She also looked like she’d been through the wringer. She straightened her hat, but not much could be done for the abundance of yellow hair that had sprung free from its bun. The intriguing smudge on her cheek, however, called for a man’s touch. His touch.
When he reached a finger to her smooth, silky skin to rub the spot away, her startled blue eyes met his. “Sorry,” he said, pulling his hand away. “You had somethin’ on your face.”
Her hand flew to her cheek, and her already heated face turned another shade darker.
“It’s gone now,” he said.
Her mouth formed a perfect circle, and she lowered her hand to her side.
He felt bad for giving her a hard time. Lack of sleep had made him start the day out of sorts, and his encounter with Cassie Decker hadn’t helped. Poor woman. She had counted on their marriage for her children’s sakes.
His failure in keeping his promise to Cassie had made him more determined to do right by Emily. Or at least to see to her safety. He’d let one woman down; he sure in blazes didn’t want to fail another.
Horses were dangerous. The land was dangerous. But a part of him knew there was more. A lot more. As long as they were at each other’s throats, he could control his thoughts. Or at least keep from dwelling on such things as Emily’s gold-tipped eyelashes. Or the little indentation on her cheek when she smiled. Or even the way her eyes flashed during their many confrontations.
Looking away, he reminded himself how unsuited she was for ranch life. How unequipped she was to deal with the harsh land. She was much more suited to the city.
“Tomorrow, we’ll go a little easier with your lesson,” he said, hoping to make amends for his bad behavior.
She lifted her chin, her face dark with anger. “There won’t be any more lessons.”
“Come on,” he said gently. “You don’t mean that. Look at you. You’re fine.” More than fine…
“No thanks to you!”
Surprised by the vehemence in her voice, he stepped back “Me? What did I do?”
Her blazing blue eyes met his. “You put me through hell, that’s what!”
“By teachin’ you the proper handlin’ of a hoss?”
“By making me obey your every command like a helpless imbecile!”
He drew in his breath. He’d been rough on her, but he never meant to make her feel bad. “You have to admit your knowledge of hosses leaves much to be desired.” Taking her silence to mean she agreed, he added, “Tomorrow, same time, same place.”
She shot visual daggers at him. “If you expect to have your way with me a second time, you better think again.” With that, she stormed away.
Her words struck a chord that was better left untouched. Still, he couldn’t hold back the words that popped into his head. “Trust me,” he called after. “If I wanted to have my way with you, it wouldn’t be on a hoss!”

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Buy Links
Kindle | Amazon Paperback

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Giveaway

5 Copies of COWBOY CHARM SCHOOL

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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About the Author

Margaret is a New York Times bestselling author and two-time Romance Writers of America RITA finalist, with more than 40 novels to her credit. Not bad for someone who flunked 8th grade English. Just don’t ask her to diagram a sentence.

www.margaret-brownley.com

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Review, Guest Post & Giveaway: DEFENDING HARLOW by Susan Stoker

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DEFENDING HARLOW (Mountain Mercenaries Series, Book 4) by Susan Stoker

Publication Date: June 4, 2019

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Author Guest Post

A Mountain Mercenary’s Sneak Attack with Author Susan Stoker

Defending Harlow is book 4 in the Mountain Mercenaries series. Each book features one of the men who were recruited by the mysteries “Rex” to work on his team to help rescue kidnapped women and children. In this book we meet Lowell “Black” Lockard who was a Navy SEAL before he became a Mountain Mercenary. He joined the group because after his stint in the Navy, he realized that he was happiest when he was being useful, helping others. He’d been close to his fellow SEALs when he’d been on active duty, but somehow he was even closer with his fellow Mountain Mercenaries.

They worked together, they played together, and they simply enjoyed spending time with each other both during missions and when they were living their lives in Colorado Springs.

Black loves that his friends have found women that completed them. Gray met Allye when he rescued her from a boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and they had to swim for hours to safety. Ro met Chloe when her brother was holding her hostage in his house and was about to pimp her out from his strip club. And Arrow met Morgan when they’d been down in the Dominican Republic to rescue a child who’d been kidnapped by her non custodial father. Turns out, Morgan was one of the most famous missing people the United States had ever had, and she’d been held for over a year before she’d accidentally been found by the Mountain Mercenaries.

He loves that his friends are happy, but realizes that he is…bored. He wants someone to laugh with. To talk to at the end of the day. To break the routine of his life. He envies his friends for having that.

Meeting Harlow is a turning part in Black’s life. She makes him laugh and he’s intrigued more than he’s ever been by a woman before. And realizing they went to the same high school once upon a time makes him even more curious. But there’s a problem…Harlow has had bad date after bad date and she’s sworn off dating forever.

But Black won’t give up. He decides to “trick” her by refusing to call what they’re doing as ‘dates.’ They’re just “hanging out.” And the more he spends time with her, the more he likes her…and vice versa. Harlow will have to decide whether or not to take a chance on Black, and he’ll have to figure out how to neutralize the threat looming over Harlow and the women’s shelter she works at or else the semantics of what they’re doing will be a moot point, because someone might end up dead.

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Synopsis

E91B720F-CCD3-4946-ABE1-0C48AE0BA083Lowell “Black” Lockard, former Navy SEAL, has watched his fellow Mountain Mercenaries settle down with the women of their dreams, but he’s convinced he doesn’t need love. Then he gets a call from Harlow Reese—a chef at a local women’s shelter—and begins to reconsider his decision.

After being continually harassed by a local band of punks, Harlow asks Lowell to give the women of the shelter lessons in self-defense. She doesn’t expect him to take such a special interest in her safety, but he insists on escorting her to and from work, never taking no for an answer. Not that Harlow minds the personal touch…especially when it’s coming from her former teenage crush.

Despite her long history of bad dating luck, seeing Black again makes Harlow rethink her self-imposed celibacy. Easy on the eyes and hard to forget, the man has morphed into an alpha stud. And Harlow may be exactly the type of woman Black is looking for. Making her feel safe isn’t only a duty; it’s a pleasure. But the threats are escalating. The motives are a mystery. And as the danger burns almost as hot as their passion, there’s much more at risk than their hearts.

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Donna review 4.5 stars

This is my favorite of the Mountain Mercenaries series. Harlow and Black were both characters that were easy to bond with and I loved watching Black’s ingenious plan to win her heart play out. It was sweet, romantic, and had just enough sex to spice it up. Black’s fellow mercenaries interacted more, and their banter made them feel like a close-knit group with unshakable bonds. Just what I love in a group series. The action flowed quite nicely with the budding romance, never appearing gratuitous or forced as it reached its climax. I only have one request….I want to know more about Rex! I guess I’ll just have to wait impatiently for book 5.

*Review copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Excerpt

Neither said anything for a while as they drove toward downtown.

Finally, Harlow asked, “Where are we going?”

“The Pit.”

“Where?”

Lowell smiled. “Since this isn’t a date, and we’re talking about the shelter, I decided I should take you to the place where me and my team conduct business. The Pit.”

“It sounds scary. Please tell me there aren’t snakes on the floor and Indiana Jones isn’t going to pop up and run pell-mell through the place being chased by members of an ancient civilization because they want their artifact back.”

Harlow stared at Lowell when he threw his head back and laughed loud and long. She couldn’t help but chuckle herself. The man sitting next to her was so different from any man she’d dated in the past—no, wait … this wasn’t a date. Nope. Not even close.

“I can’t wait to tell the others that. No, Harl, The Pit is a combination bar and pool hall. It’s pretty much a hole-in-the-wall kind of place.”

“Why do you do business in a bar?” Harlow asked.

“To be honest, I’m not sure. The Pit is where we were interviewed when we were first asked to join the Mountain Mercenaries … I’m assuming you know about the team?”

She nodded. “A bit. Loretta told me. I’m sorry if she spoke out of turn, but she was trying to reassure me that you knew what you were doing and could help us.”

“I can help you,” Lowell confirmed. “And in a nutshell, me and my teammates are all former Special Forces soldiers, and we work for Rex, getting women and children out of untenable situations.”

“Why mercenaries? I mean, it doesn’t sound like that’s what you guys really are.”

Lowell shook his head, and a small smile formed on his face. “Why do women always concentrate on that word?” he asked, more to himself than her.

Harlow answered him even though he hadn’t really asked. “Because. It’s weird that you call yourselves something that you technically aren’t. I wouldn’t start a catering business and call it Harlow Photography.”

“Point taken. I don’t know why Rex chose that name. Probably because it was catchy and sounded better than Colorado Badasses, or Your Worst Nightmare.”

Harlow couldn’t stop the bark of laughter that escaped. “True.”

“The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter what we’re called. We’re six men who go where we’re needed and do what we have to do to rescue those who need a helping hand. I know women are empowered, and there are many who are just as talented at what they do as we are. But the fact remains, there are a lot of men out there who feel the need to subjugate and beat down the women and children in their lives. They take advantage of teenagers who are too young to know better or those who have had horrible lives. They hurt them and force them to do things against their will. It’s not right, or fair, and me and my friends are playing a small part in trying to right those wrongs.”

Harlow wasn’t sure how their light and playful conversation had turned so intense, but she turned slightly in her seat to better look at Lowell. His teeth were clenched, and the hand on the steering wheel was holding on so tightly, she could see his knuckles turning white. He obviously felt deeply about the topic and his job, and Harlow couldn’t be more proud of him.

“I’m proud to know you, Lowell Lockard.”

He looked at her in surprise. “What?”

“The world needs more men like you and your friends. I don’t know why men like the ones harassing the shelter are the way they are. Why they feel the need to exert their power over those they deem weaker than them. But I’m glad you’re there to help tip the scales. Other than the high-speed-chase guy, generally I haven’t been afraid of my bad dates, I’ve just been disgusted by or disappointed in them. But I know there are a lot of women out there who’re in bad marriages and relationships, and it helps knowing there are people who care. People who will put their own lives on the line to help get others out of those situations, if asked.”

Lowell pulled into a parking lot of a dark and seedy-looking building, and Harlow wasn’t surprised to see the neon sign above the door that said The Pit. This was exactly the kind of place where she imagined Lowell and his fellow badasses would meet.

He stopped the engine, brought the hand he was still holding up to his mouth, and kissed the back of it. “Stay put. I’ll come around.”

He went to let go of her, but Harlow held on to his hand. “This isn’t a date,” she said, not sure if she was reminding him or herself. “It’s a work meeting. I let you pick me up, but I should’ve driven myself. And I can open my own door and pay my own way.”

Lowell leaned into her, and Harlow forced herself not to pull back.

“I know this isn’t a date. You don’t date. I heard that loud and clear, Harl. But in my world—and make no mistake; when you’re with me, you’re in my world—a man opens a door for a lady. He walks on the outside of the sidewalk, he picks her up whenever possible, and he pays for drinks and meals. If it makes you feel better, you can think of this as a business expense I can write off on my taxes.”

Harlow stared at him for a beat, then nodded. What else could she do? She didn’t want to like Lowell’s world, but she had to admit it felt good being there. She’d had doors shut in her face when men had entered ahead of her and hadn’t held them open. She’d had to pay for her own meals on dates. And she’d even had an experience when she’d literally almost been run over by a bus in Seattle because she’d been forced to walk on the outside of the sidewalk near the curb.

“Okay,” she said.

“Okay,” Lowell said with a small smile. Then he squeezed her hand once more and climbed out.

“Not a date, not a date,” Harlow chanted to herself quietly as Lowell walked around his car to come to her side. He opened her door and held out a hand. Taking a deep breath, Harlow put her hand back in his and allowed him to help her up and out of the low seat.

He didn’t let go of her hand once she was standing next to him, though. He simply shut the car door with his free hand and led her toward the door of the bar.

Not a date, she told herself once more as Lowell smiled at her and pulled open the heavy wooden door.

~*~*~*~

Buy Links

Kindle | Amazon Paperback

Amazon Series Link

If you have Kindle Unlimited you can borrow this series for Free!

Join Amazon Kindle Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial

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Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card and Digital Copy of Susan Stoker’s DEFENDING HARLOW

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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About the Author

A6A4A7AC-5A93-469E-AFD3-1946AC00DD2BSusan Stoker is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. Her series include Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes, SEAL of Protection, Delta Force Heroes, and Mountain Mercenaries. Married to a retired Army noncommissioned officer, Stoker has lived all over the country—from Missouri and California to Colorado and Texas—and currently lives under the big skies of Tennessee. A true believer in happily ever after, Stoker enjoys writing novels in which romance turns to love.

 

Spotlight, Review & Giveaway: SMOOTH MOVES by Marie Harte

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SMOOTH MOVES (Veteran Movers Series, Book 2) by Marie Harte

Publication Date: May 28, 2019

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis

E9FDB385-D64D-404F-8262-FBA0ACC3FF02He may be all brawn
But when it really counts… His heart is all gold

Former Marine Cash Griffith is a brawny beacon for trouble, always finishing a fight that someone else starts. Working at his family’s moving company, he does his best to keep a low profile, but he can’t help but tangle with the newest employee, Jordan Fleming.

When Jordan joins Vets on the Go! she has her hands full with her new job and her rebellious teenage brother, not to mention going toe to toe with the obnoxious, arrogant, incredibly hot Marine at work. Soon their battles turn to camaraderie, and one kiss leads to a connection neither of them expected. But when dark secrets come to light, will their bond break…or strengthen into a happily-ever-after they desperately desire?

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Donna 5 Stars

Oh my, I loved this story of the Vets on the Go. Cash had me intrigued in book one, but now he is my favorite guy. Rough around the edges, but a teddy-bear inside. I just knew he and Jordan would make a good pair. They each had the cutting wit and tough-guy persona that sparked between them. I was actually surprised to like Jordan as much as I did. Their romance was sweet with a huge dose of sexy thrown in….and I loved it. One of my favorite parts of this series is the camaraderie between the co-workers and family members. It just works and makes me want to apply for a job there. The dialogue is smooth, the romance is touching, and the group dynamic is nicely written. It ticked all my boxes.

*Review copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Excerpt

Smith left them, and Cash glared at Smith’s back until he disappeared into the office. “I hate that guy.”

“I think the feeling is mutual.” Jordan wondered why.

“Has he been bothering you?” The look in Cash’s dark-green eyes warned her the man spoiled for a fight.

“Nope. He’s easy to get along with.”

Cash seemed disappointed. “Oh.”

“And he rarely talks. We got the Jasper job done in one day. Would have been back sooner, but traffic sucked.”

He let out a long sigh. “So what’s this favor I ‘owe you’?”

“I need you to talk to my brother.” The admission she couldn’t handle her own family felt easier while looking at his chest.

“Your brother?”

She glanced up, saw his interest, the way it lit up his face, and did her best not to stare at his firm, kissable lips. Damn it. She needed to focus on the man’s irritability, not his sex appeal.

Jordan swallowed. “How about I tell you about it over dinner tonight? And before you get any weird ideas, this is in no way a date. I do not want to have sex with you. I am not flirting or leading you on in any way. This is strictly to help my brother.”

He just stared at her. Unfortunately, behind him, Reid and Smith stared at her as well.

She felt her cheeks heat and wished she could sink through the floor.

“Man, I heard that,” Smith just had to say. “She in no way, shape, or form wants you, Cash. Not fucking at all.” Smith laughed as he walked away. His shouted “Rejected,” followed by more laughter, boomed down the corridor.

“Please tell me I can hit him,” he said to Reid.

“No. But I’m curious to hear why Jordan thinks she has to have this conversation with you,” Reid said. Jordan privately thought of him as Cash-Light. He had the same good looks but not as concentrated. Reid had a more slender build than his bulky older brother, and he had gray eyes. Not the mysterious, deep green of Cash’s. The debonair Griffith as opposed to Cash’s raw, wild bad boy.

“I’m not harassing her. Jesus, Reid.” Cash ran a hand through his hair, which caused his massive biceps to bulge. “Tell him, Jordan.”

A sucker for a pretty body more than a pretty face, Jordan felt every time she looked at Cash as if she’d been hit by a two-by-four because he possessed both. She nodded, distracted, wondering how much he could really bench-press.

“He is harassing you?” Reid asked, frowning.

“What? No, not at all.” She felt like a moron and forced herself to meet Reid’s concerned gaze. “Sorry. I meant I agreed with Cash. He’s fine. I just wanted to make sure my offer of dinner wasn’t confusing.” She wryly added, “You know your brother does better when things are laid out on the table.”

“True. Subtle he is not.”

“I’m right here,” Cash growled.

They both ignored him. “So you’re good then?” Reid asked her.

“Dandy.”

“Great. I’ll see you tomorrow. Cash, I’ll be—”

“At Naomi’s. Shocker.” Cash shrugged, but Jordan had a sense his brother’s new relationship bothered him.

Reid didn’t seem to notice. “Have a good night, you two.” He started down the corridor. “Oh, and Cash, close up for me, would you?” Reid didn’t wait for his answer as he disappeared into the stairway.

“Why not? Not like I have a life or anything,” Cash muttered as he walked into the office. “Well? You coming?”

Jordan hurried after him and helped him turn everything off and lock up. They walked down the stairs and exited the building to the parking lot. She took a moment to watch the sun hide behind some purple clouds. Orange rays penetrated the sky-blue horizon and dotted through indigo and pink clouds, painting a picture. She wished she could bask in the moment, letting go of the worries dragging her down.

But Rafi hadn’t been around for breakfast this morning, and she knew he’d avoided her on purpose. Between yesterday’s conversation and the call she’d earlier received from his school advisor, she’d come to the end of her rope. And the timing couldn’t have been better, with her brother spending the next few days at their parents’ for a change.

Cash stopped at his car and turned to her. “Your place for dinner, you said?”

“Yes. Follow me. It’s a ten-minute drive. I’ll text you the address in case you get lost.” She sent it to him before getting into her car.

He followed without too much of a hassle since the hour had passed six. Once at her place, she parked and waited for him. The apartment complex didn’t look like much on the outside, but she had a furnished, one-bedroom unit for under a thousand in rent, and the landlord seemed like a nice lady. Since Jordan was ex-military, the woman had foregone the $200 nonrefundable cleaning fee and full rental deposit.

After letting them both in, Jordan took a glance around. The addition of Rafi to her tiny apartment made life cramped, but Jordan had lived under worse conditions. The place was clean, fitted out, and, if not to her taste, at least nothing to be embarrassed about. Yet she felt a case of nerves as Cash shadowed her, his large presence impossible to ignore.

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Buy Links

Kindle | Paperback

Amazon Series Link

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Giveaway

5 Copies of The Whole Package

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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About the Author

Award-winning author Marie Harte has been writing professionally since 2005. She’s both a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author and has written over 100 books and counting. Marie writes books with heat, humor, and character.

She writes independently and for several publishers, to include Sourcebooks and Samhain. Though currently writing contemporary romance, she also writes paranormal and romantic suspense.

Before turning to writing full-time, she earned a B.A. in English from Pennsylvania State University and spent several years in the United States Marine Corps as a communications officer.

Marie currently lives in Central Oregon with her family. There’s nothing she likes more than finding a good book to read and a great cup of coffee to drink.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Spotlight, Review & Giveaway: SEAL WOLF SURRENDER by Terry Spear

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SEAL WOLF SURRENDER by Terry Spear

Publication Date: May 28, 2019

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Synopsis

782E2A20-60C3-4D26-ACDB-D4A446E7F7A2For a shifter with no interest in she-wolves…he sure is territorial.

Wolf shifter and former Navy SEAL Brock Greystoke isn’t interested in she-wolves. The last one in his life ambushed him with the intent to kill. So when he’s tasked with helping his cousin’s friend get to a wedding, he has no intention of getting involved with her…

She-wolf Natalie Silverton has inadvertently crossed a group of dangerous criminals, and she’s in dire need of a bodyguard. Good thing Brock is there to protect her. At every turn, their work—and play—brings them closer to catching the criminals and to each other, but Brock will have to get them out of this alive if he has any hope of winning Natalie’s heart.

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3.5 stars Donna

I enjoyed the storyline in this SEAL Wolf installment and the garden store aspect added a nice touch to the story. The action rarely let up and helped to show the camaraderie of the pack while dealing with the antagonists. I liked Natalie and Brock as a couple, but wished there was more emotion in their romance, something to make me feel their attraction and blooming love instead of just being expected. It felt flat for me…which is a shame since I enjoy her books. That being said, I couldn’t put the book down until I saw how everything fell into place.

*Review copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Excerpt

Using her GPS, Natalie drove from the airport toward Granby, but somewhere along the way, she took a wrong turn, then another. After fifteen minutes of rerouting directions on her GPS, she called Angie. “Hey, my GPS is going crazy. Can you guide me there?”

“I’m sending a SEAL to the rescue. I’m in the middle of toasts. Here, talk to Brock.”

“No, that’s okay, I’ll just—-”

“Tell me where you are,” a sexy, deep–baritone male voice said. “I’ll meet you there, and you can follow me here.”

Ugh, if it didn’t mean so much to both of them for Natalie to be there, she would have just skipped it. She wondered if the SEAL was as sexy–looking as he sounded though.

She blew out her breath in an annoyed way. “I’m at—-” She looked around. “I don’t know where. I parked at a garden nursery called the Denver Garden Center.”

“There are four of them.”

Of course there were.

His voice calm, as if he was used to helping women in distress, Brock asked, “What are the intersecting roads?”

Oh, just great. “Wait just a minute.” She couldn’t see any intersecting roads! She looked at her GPS. “Um, I think I’m off North Boulevard.”

“Okay, that’s the nearest one to the restaurant. I’ll be there in fifteen minutes.”

“You can just give me directions.” Otherwise, she would be thirty minutes late instead of fifteen.

“It’s your call, Natalie. I’m one of Aaron’s cousins, Brock Greystoke, by the way.”

“Nice to meet you, Brock. Yeah, it will save us both time, so just give me the directions.” And hopefully, she could make it there without having to be escorted the rest of the way. She could hear all the noisy lunch guests having fun without her. She preferred working with plants more than partying with people. And she had a total love–hate relationship with the GPS. She loved it when it worked. She hated it when it got her lost.

“All right, I’ll stay on the line and get you here that way,” Brock said.

She could listen to his calm, soothing, masculine voice all day. She imagined hers sounded frazzled and annoyed. “Okay.”

“Turn right onto North Boulevard. Stay in the right–hand lane. You’ll turn on the first exit to the right.”

“Okay, leaving the nursery. I’m on North Boulevard, coming up to the first exit on the right.”

“Good,” Brock said, and she was glad he didn’t sound as if he thought she was an idiot.

“Okay, exited North Boulevard.”

“Go down to the third signal and turn left on Elm Street.”

“Oak Street. Ash Street. Elm Street.”  

Brock chuckled. Okay, she knew she sounded silly, but she really, really hated getting lost in a strange city, especially when she was already late! She was really nervous about meeting all these strange wolves. Despite working in her parents’ garden shop and being used to meeting customers—-human customers—-or presenting educational programs to humans, she wasn’t used to meeting a lot of wolves.

“Keep going. You’re nearly there. Stay in the right lane, and at the third signal, you’ll turn right. Dallas’s Steak House is three buildings down on your right.”

“Thank you. I so appreciate it. I’m nearly there.” She should have just thanked him and signed off, but he wasn’t ending the call either, and she felt more at ease knowing if she missed the steak house somehow, Brock would redirect her and make sure she got there all right. “Okay, I see the steak house, and I’m pulling into the parking lot.”

“You’re driving a blue Toyota?”

“Uh, yeah.” She turned to look at the deck leading to the front door of the restaurant, where a large fountain was flowing into a basin.

Wearing blue jeans, a dress shirt, cowboy boots, and a Stetson, Brock was standing next to the fountain, appearing bigger than life, but he looked as though he was into roping steers rather than scuba diving as a SEAL wolf. Dark hair, dark eyes, and a sensuous mouth, curved up in a slight smile, greeted her. His gaze was intense, all–consuming. She parked her car and joined him.

“You must be Natalie, Angie’s best friend. Brock Greystoke, Aaron’s cousin.” Brock offered his hand to her and she shook it, but then worried hers was a little clammy from sweating out the drive there. She should have wiped her hand off on her skirt before she shook his hand.

“All Angie’s talked about was one of us running to the airport and picking you up so you wouldn’t get lost. You know, instead of staying at the hotel, you could stay with any of the families in the town of Greystoke out in Wolf Valley. That way, you won’t have to make the long drive there in the morning for the wedding. I know how it is when you want to have your own getaway vehicle though. Oh, and welcome to Colorado. Angie said you’ve never been here before.”

“Thanks, and no, I haven’t.” How could she tell the darkly handsome wolf she preferred staying at her own hotel because she didn’t want to put anyone out? They’d insist she wasn’t, but she just needed…her own space. She wondered how much Angie had told her new pack members about her.

She sighed, and Brock opened the door to the restaurant for her. The noisy conversation inside was nearly deafening, partly because of their enhanced wolf hearing. That was why she preferred her garden nursery to this.

The aroma of hickory–cooked steaks did appeal though.

“Are you ready for a good–sized steak after all the flying and rushing to get here?” Brock asked.

“Yes. I hate being so late.”

“Don’t worry about it. We just started at noon, and it’s only a quarter of one. Everyone is enjoying cocktails and appetizers first.”

Natalie figured no one would realize she hadn’t been there earlier since no one even knew her and Angie would have been too busy enjoying herself. But Natalie hated arriving late to anything, as if she were the star of the occasion and needed a big entrance. Yet she was vitally aware of the man walking beside her, his arm brushing hers as they moved closer together so that customers could get by them. When a waiter nearly ran into her, Brock adroitly slipped in behind her, pulling her out of the waiter’s way.

Heat spread through her whole body, and Natalie tried to think of anything other than the way his body was pressed against hers in the sudden crush of customers as a large party was leaving the restaurant. “Angie told me you and your brother, Vaughn, are Navy SEALs. Are you just here on a visit?” she asked Brock.

“No, we’re both out of the navy now, retired. You know how it is. We didn’t look like we were aging, so as soon as we could, we retired. Both of us had been private investigators. Vaughn hooked up with a jaguar policing force that’s called the United Shifter Force, and he has a mate now. They live out here, but their headquarters is in the Houston area. They travel there whenever they need to for a mission. I’m doing the PI business on my own now.”

“You look like you wrangle steers too.”

He smiled at her.

She felt her face flush with heat. Maybe that was the wrong thing to say to him. She saw men wearing western wear in Amarillo too, so she was used to seeing it.

“I help out on Aaron’s ranch when I can. I just like getting out and riding a bit. Do you ride?”

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About the Author

USA Today bestselling author TERRY SPEAR has written over 35 paranormal romances featuring werewolf and jaguar shapeshifters. In 2008, Heart of the Wolf was named a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year. A retired officer of the U.S. Army Reserves, Terry also creates award-winning teddy bears that have found homes all over the world. She lives in Spring, Texas.

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