New Release: The Taste of an Enemy by Holly Renee

Rich. Vicious. Vengeful. Forbidden. The Boys of Clermont Bay had always been untouchable.

The Taste of an Enemy, the first angst-filled new adult romance in The Taste of an Enemy Duet from Holly Renee is available now!

Rich. Vicious. Vengeful. Forbidden. The Boys of Clermont Bay had always been untouchable.
And Carson Hale was the worst of them all.
He was pretentious and a player, and he had hated me for so long I forgot that we were ever anything more than enemies.
Brutally beautiful and savagely heartless, his only plan was to ruin everything I loved.
But dares were made, and even though I had no business saying yes, I found myself in trouble and forced to work with my rival to get us out of it.
He had always been cruel, but something changed.
The lure of him was too much. The way I craved his touch was unbearable.
Just as I fell for him, he proved himself to be exactly who he had been all along.

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Pre-order the stunning conclusion, Deceit of a Devil!
Releasing September 23rd
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Excerpt

I walked into Wings and Things and spotted Eli as soon as I made it through the door. He smiled before standing and coming to meet me. I couldn’t tell if anyone else was already at the table, and I tried to remind myself that I shouldn’t care. Tonight was about having fun and getting to know Eli.
Carson didn’t matter for either of those things. I would just drown him out and pretend he wasn’t there. That was what I was used to doing. That was what the two of us had been doing for years.
Even though I was already a little but irritated that Eli hadn’t offered to pick me up. My dad was irritated by that fact too.
“You look beautiful.” Eli grinned before pulling me into a hug.
“Thank you.” I breathed in the scent of his warm cologne, the smell familiar and calming. “You look nice as well.”
I looked up at him as he let me go. He was much taller than me, although shorter than Carson, and he had a smile that made me feel comfortable.
He grabbed my hand in his and led the way back to the table. I fixed my hair while I was still blocked from view, and I planted the best smile I could manage on my face as he pulled out the chair for me that was directly across from Carson.
“Thank you.” I settled into my seat and tried to avoid making eye contact with Carson.
“Allie, this is Kimberly. Kimberly, Allie. I think you all might know each other.”
I looked across the table at Kimberly, and of course I knew her. We had gone to school together since grade school, and I had hated her almost as long. She was popular, conceited, and a perfect fit for Carson.
“Of course.” I nodded and pulled out my menu. “How are you, Kim?”
“I’m perfect.” She giggled and looked over at Carson. His hand disappeared under the table, and even though I couldn’t see it, I knew that his hand probably rested on her thigh.
I wanted to rip it off.
“Awesome,” I mumbled and tried to focus on the menu.
Carson laughed under his breath, but I ignored him.
“What are you getting?” I looked to my right where Eli sat. “Do you want to share some wings?”
“Oh.” He looked up from his menu. “I was thinking about getting the burger.”
“A burger at a wing place.” Carson scoffed and tossed his menu down on the table. “I’ll share an order with you, Allie. Kim’s getting a salad.”
He didn’t give me time to answer. As soon as the waitress came to our table, Carson opened his mouth. “My girl Allie and I are going to share a large order of wings, extra ranch for both of us. No carrots. She hates those.”
I looked at him like he had lost his mind because I was pretty sure that he had.
“What can I get you to drink?” The waitress was now looking at me.
“Um, just a Coke, please.”
Everyone else ordered their food, and I fidgeted with my hands under the table.
“So, Allie, how is school going for you?” I looked up at Eli. I had almost forgotten he was there.
“It’s all right. I’m so ready for fall break, though.”
“Me too.” He nodded. “Are you going anywhere? My family is taking a trip to Europe.”
“No.” I almost choked on the word. Sometimes I forgot just how far apart my family was from those who went to Prep. They were made of money, old money to be exact, and guys like Eli had never had to think about working or how he’d pay for college. “We typically stay home and do a Thanksgiving meal at our house. It’s real low-key.”
And my dad would still be working every day except for Thanksgiving, and my small house would be busting with people. My grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. We were always together on holidays, and I loved it.
It may not have been Europe, but it was ours.
“That’s cool.” He nodded and turned his chair to where he faced me better. “We’ve been going to Europe for years now. My parents love it, and they take us about every other year. Have you ever been?”
“To Europe?” I shook my head, and suddenly I felt ridiculous. “No. The farthest I’ve been is Disney World.” I didn’t mention that had been almost ten years ago.
I could hear Carson and Kimberly talking across from us, and I hoped he was too enthralled with her and her perfect face to even consider listening to our conversation.
Eli laughed like I had just told a joke, but I hadn’t. “That’s too bad. I bet you would really like Europe.”
“What makes you think that, Eli?” Carson was leaned back in his chair with his arm resting on the back of Kimberly’s.
Eli laughed nervously and looked between me and Carson. “It’s Europe.” He shrugged his shoulders.
“But you don’t know anything about Allie specifically that would make her love Europe, correct?”
Eli opened his mouth, but Carson continued.
“Like you have no clue that she’s been dreaming of going to Paris forever, and she has this little Eiffel Tower key chain that she’s had on her set of keys since she’s had them. Or that she thinks she’s part Irish because she has a little bit of green in her eyes.”
“I didn’t realize you knew so much about her.” Eli was no longer aloof. He was sizing Carson up, and I wasn’t here for a pissing contest.
“Well, now you do.” Carson stared back at him with the same unrelenting gaze, and I felt like I was going insane.
Carson hadn’t given a shit about me since that night he needed me and I wasn’t there. If he wasn’t ignoring me altogether, he was making me wish he was, and now all of the sudden, he wanted to share wings and spew facts about me like he was my best friend.
“Stop,” I hissed. “You’re being an ass. Aren’t you supposed to be on your own date?” I looked over at Kimberly, and she looked uncomfortable. I couldn’t blame her. I felt uncomfortable too.
The waitress arrived back at our table with food in hand, and we were spared from whatever Carson was going to say next. He looked down at the food, and his bright eyes looked so hollow. He scrunched his brow, something he always did when he was upset, and his jaw stiffened. I didn’t know if he was angry with me or with himself.
But I didn’t want to find out. I quickly grabbed a wing from our plate and took a huge bite. Sauce dripped down my chin, but I didn’t stop. The food was a distraction. If we were eating, then we weren’t talking, and I couldn’t stand to hear anything more from Carson right now.
Not after everything he just said. Not with the way he had brought up memories of me like it wouldn’t mess with my head.
“This is good.” I wiped at my mouth with the back of my hand. “Do you want a bite?” I looked over to Eli, and he shook his head as he looked at my half-bitten wing.
“Nah. I’m good.”
“Suit yourself.” I shrugged as I looked down at his measly-looking burger.
“I’ll take one.” Carson reached forward, his fingers wrapping around my wrist, and he stood in his seat enough to bring my hand to his lips. I stared at him, shocked by what he was doing, but there wasn’t an ounce of shame in his gaze.
He didn’t look away from me for a second as he bit down into the wing I was still holding, and I couldn’t stop myself from holding my breath as his lips met my fingers. Carson Hale wasn’t just taking a bite of my chicken. He was causing a scene, and part of me wondered how he had gotten so damn good at it.
He ran his tongue over the edge of my thumb, licking up the sauce that had dripped there, and I felt like he had just used his tongue on parts of my body that no one else ever had. I pressed my thighs together as I watched his mouth, and I couldn’t bring myself to care that Eli was watching me as Carson finally let go of my hand and settled back into his seat.
“You’re right, Allie. That’s absolutely delicious.” He licked his lip before picking up a wing of his own, then began eating like that display hadn’t just happened.
I picked up my napkin, quickly dropping my gaze to my lap as I wiped my hands, but I couldn’t get the feel of him off. And I didn’t know if I wanted to.

About Holly

I’m Holly Renee, a small-town east Tennessee girl who is obsessed with all things romance. I love bringing flawed, sassy, and real characters to life in a way that makes you feel like you’ve been best friends with them for years. No two Holly Renee books are the same, but if you love real, relatable, fun female characters and swoon-worthy heroes, I’m your girl.
When I’m not writing or reading, you can find me momming so hard, being disgustingly in love with my husband, or chilling in the middle of a lake with my sunglasses and a float. #lakelife
I have a 2-year-old adorable little man who is as wild and sweet as they come and a baby girl on the way.

Connect with Holly
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Excerpt Reveal: Uncovered by Andi Burns

 

 

UNCOVERED (Bainbridge University #1) by Andi Burns

Release Date: July 28th

 

 

Add to Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57865148-uncovered

 

 

PREORDER TODAY!

https://tinyurl.com/593te8

 

 

 

 

Excerpt:

Phoebe

I walk into Drip after the last of my classes has ended for the day. The cool AC feels good, and I’m glad to see friendly faces rather than just an endless sea of people I don’t know.

“So, how was your first day?” Ian asks, placing an iced caramel macchiato in front of me.

“Thanks,” I say, accepting the drink and taking a sip. “My classes were good, so far. The art program here is pretty great, so

I’m excited about my painting class and my clay class. And my bio lecture was pretty standard. It was all typical first-day stuff, but everyone was really nice.”

“Good. Anyone gives you trouble, you just send them to me,” Ian nods. Bless his heart, I think he’s serious. He’s tall, but he’s lean. Built like a runner, but I’d bet my bank account, such as it is, that the only running Ian does is on a treadmill. He’s got fair skin, freckles, and strawberry blonde hair. His glasses are those thick black trendy ones I could never pull off, but he’s got that whole hot-professor look down.

He turns his attention to Mel. “How about you, Mel? Did you kick some accounting ass today?”

“Damn straight I did,” she says, stepping behind the counter and slipping on her apron. “How about you? How’s the TA life so far?”

“Exhausting,” he smiles. “Especially when you add this place in. But I love it. I’m only doing two classes for Hanna–Dr. Bergman–this semester, so things will level off, I’m sure. I just feel totally overwhelmed, but in a good way, you know?”

I totally get it. “I know exactly what you mean. The last week of my life has been a little daunting–a lot of change and new experiences, but it’s all good stuff.”

“Excellent,” he nods. “ And you know where you’re headed tomorrow?”

I smile over my eye-roll. “Yes, I know where all of my classes are. And I scoped out a study bay in the library today. Look at me, exploring uncharted waters.”

Mel clears her throat. “Don’t worry about her, Ian. She got a personal tour of campus from Ty Marshall.”

Ian nearly drops the pitcher of tea he’s holding. “Say what now?”

“It was no big deal– my tour guide was double-booked or something, so Ty took over.” I shrug as if it’s no big deal, because it isn’t one. Ok, he was sex on a damn stick, but he was just doing his job. Well, his friend’s job.

“Honey.” Ian levels me with an older-brother look, and my heart pinches. “You need to be careful with that one.”

“It won’t be an issue, I promise. It was just a tour. He had to do it. And I’m 100% positive he was not impressed by me.”

“Oh, sweetie,” Ian shakes his head. “Let’s get a few things straight. Those broody boys on the hill? The fearsome foursome who live in The Chapel? They don’t have to do anything. And they certainly don’t have to work. Each one of them is richer than sin even without their trust funds. So trust me, he was not doing his job. He was doing someone else’s. And I want to know why.”

“I told you– it was a favor. He wouldn’t say what the favor was for though.” “See? Suspicious.”

Mel’s refilling the napkin dispenser. “Calm down, Ian. My guess is he jumped at the opportunity to cover Gabe’s shift because our girl here is gorgeous. Plus, she’s new in town and knows nothing of his reputation.”

“His reputation?” I ask. Sure, he was surly, but maybe there’s more to the story.

“They’re all assholes,” Ian shakes his head. “Ok, not assholes, exactly. But they’re rich and entitled, and they don’t seem to give much of a damn about anyone but each other. They’re a tight crew. Sure, they’ll socialize. Hell, Whit deejays half the parties on Greek row. And Booker plays hockey. And, yes, I will take this moment to pay homage how fucking hot his hockey butt is. So, yea, they’re visible and everybody knows them. Part of that is because Booker’s great-great-great grandaddy founded this school. Part of that is they’re all nice to look at. But here’s the thing: they’re totally insular. It’s the four of them against the rest of the world. I don’t think any of them have ever had a long-term relationship. Not to say you can’t have some fun, but…just be careful.”

 

 

 

 

Blurb:

My family destroyed hers, but I can’t let her go…

Ty

Amends…they’re not mine to make, but I’ve been haunted by the memory of a shattered girl in that courtroom two years ago.

So, I tell myself I’m doing what’s right. I’ll stay in the shadows, out of her way. She won’t know I’m there–she doesn’t even know who I am. I’m just setting it up and walking away with as clear a conscience as my guilt will allow me.

But then she needs a tutor. And I’m the only one working. How can I say no?

But one coincidental meeting turns into two, and then three. And before I can stop myself, I’m falling hard for a woman I have no business wanting. The problem is, she’s falling hard for me, too.

I need to tell her who I am–I have to. But I know that the moment I do, I’ll break her. And she’ll break me, too.

Uncovered is a full-length novel with a tortured hero, a broken heroine, and an HEA. It is the first STANDALONE in the Bainbridge University Series.

 

 

 

About the Author:

Andi Burns writes contemporary romance infused with humor, sass, and steam. She loves a happily-ever-after as much as her characters do, and she always reads the last page of a book first, just to make sure it all turns out okay.

Andi lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two daughters. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, folding laundry, or daydreaming about her next hero and heroine.

 

Connect w/Andi:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/andiburnsauthor

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Excerpt Reveal: The Spark by Vi Keeland

Title: The Spark
Author: Vi Keeland
Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance
Release Date: July 12, 2021
Excited about Vi Keeland’s upcoming release, The Spark? Check out this SNEAK PEEK of CHAPTER 1!
CHAPTER 1
Autumn
I’m definitely getting too old for this.
I tossed a pile of mail on the couch and plopped down beside it. It was barely six o’clock, and I wouldn’t have minded climbing into bed and calling it a day. I needed a vacation from my four-day mini vacation. Thank goodness I’d scheduled myself a weekend to recover. My girls’ trip/early bachelorette party in Vegas for my friend Anna—the one where we were all going to relax by the pool and get spa treatments—had turned into all-night clubbing and almost missing my flight home earlier today because I’d overslept. It had definitely been a while since I drank more than two glasses of wine in the span of a week, and I was feeling my ripe old age of twenty-eight before the sun had even set this Friday night. Thank God I didn’t have to work tomorrow.
I briefly considered going the hair-of-the-dog route and sucking back a vodka cran while zoning out on Netflix, but then my phone rang, crashing me back to reality.
Ugh…
Dad flashed on the screen. I should’ve just gotten it over with and spoken to him, but I didn’t have the energy. Nonetheless, allowing myself to avoid the stress speaking to my father would inevitably cause reminded me of the other thing I needed to do that I’d been avoiding all afternoon. Laundry. One of my least-favorite tasks—mostly because it required me to sit downstairs in my building’s dingy basement laundry room. Up until a few months ago, I would start my laundry and come back forty-five minutes later to make the switch to the dryer. But that practice had come to a halt after one of my loads went missing—an entire load of wet bras and underwear. Who the hell stole wet clothes? At least nab dry ones. Nevertheless, it was an expensive lesson, and now I didn’t leave the basement until my clothes were washed and dried.
Sighing, I begrudgingly went to the bedroom, where my suitcase still sat on the bed, and unzipped it. I’d packed a linen skirt on top that I hadn’t wound up wearing, and I figured I’d hang it in the bathroom and hope the wrinkles worked themselves out over the course of a couple of steamy showers. I hated ironing almost as much as I hated doing laundry downstairs.
But when I flipped open the top of the suitcase, my linen skirt wasn’t on top. At first I thought my bag must’ve been selected for search, and things hadn’t been put back in order… Though the wingtip shoe I lifted was most definitely not mine.
Shit.
I rummaged through the suitcase in a panic.
Slacks, running clothes, a men’s dress shirt… A sickening feeling washed over me, and I scrambled to look at the luggage tag. I’d never filled out the identification card inside, but the leather had my initials embossed on the outside.
And this one…had no initials.
Crap. Crap. Crap.
I’d grabbed the wrong bag off the luggage carousel. I started to sweat. All of my makeup was in that bag! Not to mention a week’s worth of my best outfits and shoes. I needed to get it back. Rushing to the kitchen, I grabbed my cell from the charger on the counter and Googled the number for the airline. After wading through a half-dozen prompts, I reached a recording.
“Thank you for calling American Airlines. Due to unprecedented call volume, your estimated wait time is approximately forty-one minutes.”
Forty-one minutes! I blew out a rush of air. Great. Just great.
In the meantime, while I waited on hold on speakerphone, listening to staticky music, it hit me that whoever’s luggage I had might very well have mine. I hadn’t even checked the luggage tag to see if, unlike mine, the identification information was filled in.
I zipped back down the hall to my bedroom.
Bingo!
Donovan Deckerkind of a cool name. And he lived here in the city! Thankfully, Donovan even had his phone number listed. It couldn’t be that easy, could it? I doubted it, but considering I still had forty minutes before I could speak to someone at the airline, I wasn’t losing much for trying. So I swiped to end my call. I started to punch in the numbers on the tag, and then decided to hit *67 first to make my number private. With my luck, the guy wouldn’t have my luggage, but he’d be a total creeper.
I was caught off guard when a man’s deep voice answered on the first ring. I hadn’t yet figured out what I was going to say.
“Uhhh. Hi. My name is Autumn, and I think I might have your luggage.”
“That was quick. I just hung up with you guys two minutes ago.”
He must’ve thought I was calling from the airline. “Oh, no. I don’t work for American. I traveled home this morning and must’ve grabbed the wrong bag at JFK.”
“What are your initials?”
“My initials?”
“Yeah, you know, the first letter of your first name and the first letter of your last name.”
I rolled my eyes. “I know what initials are. I just don’t understand why you would ask—Oh! Does that mean you have my luggage? I have my initials embossed on the luggage tag.”
“That depends on what your initials are, Autumn. The first letter matches.”
“My initials are AW.”
“Well, then it seems you are indeed the thief who clipped my luggage.”
Sure, I hadn’t checked my luggage tag, but it offended me that he was calling me a thief. “Wouldn’t we both be thieves? Since you’re in possession of my luggage?”
“I only took yours because it was the last one left rotating around the carousel. You see, unlike you, I checked the luggage tag the first time it passed, and when I saw it wasn’t mine, I left it for the rightful owner to claim. But the line at baggage customer service was twenty deep, and I had a meeting I was already late for. So I took the one I have hostage until the airline could sort it out.”
My shoulders slumped. “Oh. Sorry.”
“It’s fine. Are you here in the City?”
“I am. Could we possibly meet to swap bags?”
“Sure. When and where? I’m out now, but I’ll be back in an hour or two.”
The tag had an address on the Upper East Side, but I lived on the West Side, farther downtown. “Could we meet at the Starbucks on 80th and Lex?” That was closer to him, but at least I’d only have to drag the suitcase onto one subway.
“I can’t think of any excuse not to. What time?”
That was sort of a weird way to phrase a yes, and the way he emphasized the word excuse seemed odd. But hey, I was getting my bag back. So what if he turned out to be a little strange? At least I’d hidden my phone number, and we were meeting in a public place.
“How about eight?”
“I’ll see you then.”
It sounded like he was about to hang up. “Wait…” I said. “How will I know it’s you?”
“I’ll be the one holding your luggage, Autumn W.”
I chuckled. “Oh, yeah. Sorry…long week in Vegas.”
I bent and lifted the shoe from the top of the bag. Ferragamo. Expensive. And big, too. A quick peek revealed it was a size thirteen. The inner teenager in me couldn’t help but think big feet, big…. Plus, the guy had a deep, sexy voice. I would definitely be exploring more of the dude’s luggage after we hung up.
“I’ll meet you at eight,” he said.
“See you then.” I was just about to swipe my phone off when something hit me. Oh God! “Hello? Wait…are you still there?”
It took a heartbeat or two, but the sexy voice came back on the line. “What’s up?”
“Ummm… Did you…open my bag?”
“I unzipped it at the airport to make sure it wasn’t mine when I noticed the luggage tag initials.”
“Did you…see anything?”
“There was a pink thong on top, so that pretty much sealed the deal that it didn’t belong to me. But I didn’t rummage through, if that’s what you’re asking.”
I forgot I’d shoved that thong in at the last minute. It had been at the back of a drawer when I’d checked the hotel room one last time on my way out. But I’d take him seeing my underwear over the other stuff inside my bag. I blew out a sigh of relief. “Okay, that’s great. Thank you. I’ll see you at eight at Starbucks.”
“Whoa. Hang on a second—not so fast. You sounded pretty nervous that I might’ve gone through your bag. Are you hiding something sinister in there? I’m not going to be walking around with a suitcase full of drugs or something, am I?”
I cracked a smile. “No, definitely not. I just…I’d prefer if you didn’t go through it.”
“Did you rummage through mine?”
I glanced at the shoe in my hand. Taking out one measly piece of footwear wouldn’t be considered rummaging, right? Nah. “No, I didn’t.”
“Are you planning on it?” he asked.
I had no idea what the man looked like, yet I could tell by his voice that he was smiling now.
“Nope,” I lied.
“Alright. Then we have a deal. I won’t go through your bag, and you won’t go through mine.”
“Okay. Thank you.”
“Do I have your word on that, Autumn W? I might have some things I’d prefer you didn’t see in there.”
“Like what?”
He chuckled. “See you at eight.”
After we hung up, I tossed the shoe back into the suitcase and bent to close it. But as I reached for the zipper, my curiosity got the best of me. Was he just screwing with me, or did he really have something in here he didn’t want me to see? Of course, I knew what I had in mine, which made me extra curious.
I shook my head and started to pull the zipper closed. About halfway, I laughed out loud. Who was I kidding? Now that I didn’t have laundry to do, I had almost a full two hours to kill before I met Mr. Bigfoot. This suitcase would taunt me all that time. I’d most certainly give in eventually, so why not put myself out of that misery and just take a little look-see inside now? Then I’d be able to relax. He’d never know I hadn’t lived up to my end of the bargain. Not to mention, for all I knew, he was elbow deep in my suitcase right now. In that case, it would only be fair that I got to go through his, right?
I nibbled my lip for a few seconds as a wave of guilt washed over me. But I quickly forced that out of my mind. Of course I’m right.
Feeling justified now, I unzipped the suitcase and took a minute to mentally note how everything was packed: a white dress shirt was folded on top, and two shoes were set on either side, heels facing up. I carefully unpacked those and placed them on the bed next to the suitcase in the same order. The next layer had more folded clothes: two expensive dress shirts, a pair of sweats, boxer briefs, and a few T-shirts, one of which had something emblazoned on the front—familiar lettering that began HA—so I unfolded it to see what it said. Harvard Law.
Ugh. One of those. No wonder he could afford Ferragamo shoes.
Underneath the pile of clothes was a white laundry bag—the kind a hotel gives you to put your dry cleaning in, but most people used it to separate their dirty clothes. With no desire to sort through smelly socks, I started to fold the clothes back into the suitcase, feeling a twinge of disappointment. But when I smoothed out the layers of the pile, I felt something lumpy and hard underneath in the plastic laundry bag. So I took the clothes back out and looked inside, hoping to find…I’m not sure what. Though what I found was definitely not what I expected.
The bag was filled with at least twenty or thirty of those little shampoo bottles hotels give out. Actually, a closer inspection revealed some were conditioner and a few were moisturizer. Buried on the very bottom were also three little sewing kits and half-a-dozen toothbrushes wrapped in plastic—the kind you could get at the front desk of a hotel when you forgot yours.
What the heck had Mr. Bigfoot done? Rob a housekeeping cart? This kind of stuff, though a lesser quantity, is what you’d usually find in my suitcase since I was broke all the time. But it wasn’t the type of thing you’d expect in the suitcase of a man who had gone to Harvard and wore seven-hundred-dollar dress shoes.
Now I was even more curious to meet Donovan Decker.
***
I arrived at Starbucks almost twenty minutes early, so I went online to treat myself to a flat white with honey almond milk. Even ordering it had me salivating, thinking about the sweet, creamy drink. Expensive coffee was my indulgence, but it didn’t happen too often with the five-dollar price tag and my skimpy budget.
I stood at the end of the counter, waiting for my drink and mindlessly scrolling on my phone, when a man walking through the front door caught my attention.
Oh, wow.
Now that was one good-looking man. Describing him as merely tall, dark, and handsome didn’t cut it, not by a mile. Jet-black hair framed a magnificent face with a chiseled, masculine bone structure, full lips, and a Romanesque nose. I wasn’t the only one to notice, either. I watched as the Adonis took a step back outside to hold the door open for a woman exiting the store, and the poor lady caught one glimpse of him and literally tripped over her own feet.
Seemingly oblivious that he’d caused the incident, he extended a hand to help her up, flashed a killer smile, and strolled inside. His bright blue eyes scanned the room, stopping right on my ogling ones. Embarrassed at being caught, I quickly diverted my attention back to my phone. A few seconds later, I was still pretending to be enraptured by my screen when footsteps came to a halt in front of me. I glanced up and blinked a few times. The guy from the door flashed a crooked smile.
“Were you able to control yourself?”
My forehead wrinkled. “Excuse me?”
His eyes danced with mirth, and his voice lowered. “I bet you couldn’t.”
I stared at him for an awkward moment before finally shaking my head. “What on Earth are you talking about?”
The man’s brows furrowed. “We made a deal, remember? I wouldn’t go through yours, if you didn’t touch mine?”
I’d watched the man walk in, stood right in front of him staring for at least a solid minute, and it took until now for me to notice he had something in his hand.
“Oh my God. You have my suitcase!”
He laughed but still looked perplexed. “What did you think I was talking about?”
“I…I don’t know. I was thoroughly confused.”
“I thought you saw me walk in.”
I did. But I hadn’t made it past your face. “No, I hadn’t noticed. Sorry. I guess I was just zoning out.”
The barista behind the counter yelled my name. I was glad for an excuse to put some distance between this guy and me. I needed a moment to gather my wits. Though when I returned, I still felt a little off-kilter.
“Thank you for meeting me to swap suitcases,” I said. “I’m really sorry I took the wrong one.”
“No problem.”
I rolled his case forward and released the handle. But the Adonis didn’t do the same. In fact, he pulled my bag closer to his side.
“Before we switch…” He tilted his head and studied my face. “I’m curious to know if you kept your word.”
I mimicked his pose and tilted my head. “What if I say I didn’t?”
“Well, then you’d have to pay a penalty for violating the terms of our deal.”
I raised a brow, intrigued. “A penalty?”
He nodded. “That’s right. There’s a penalty.”
I laughed as I lifted my coffee for a sip. “I just got back from a girls’ weekend in Vegas. Pretty sure this overpriced drink just used up the last five dollars in my bank account.”
“I wasn’t referring to a monetary penalty.”
“What kind of a penalty, then?”
He stroked the stubble on his chin for a moment. “You’d have to have coffee with me.”
Did this guy really think that would be a hardship? I debated how to answer. If I told the truth, it would be embarrassing. I mean, I went through the man’s personal belongings. But the flipside was I’d get to check him out some more over coffee. Then again, I’d be agreeing to spend time with a complete stranger. Though…whenever I met a guy online, I usually met him at a coffeehouse, and I probably knew more about this guy after going through his suitcase than I would from an online chat. Not to mention, none of my online dates had looked like Donovan Decker lately. In fact, none had made it further than coffee in a while.
Adonis had been watching my face as I debated my answer. His smirk made me think he already knew I’d checked out his bag. So, what the hell?
I stood tall and met his stare. “Was the lady from housekeeping harmed in the robbery?”
His eyes narrowed for a heartbeat, but then a giant smile spread across his face. He held his hand out toward the seating area. “After you, Autumn W.”
★★★ 
 
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JULY 12th!
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AUTHOR BIO
Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author. With millions of books sold, her titles have appeared in over a hundred Bestseller lists and are currently translated in twenty-five languages. She resides in New York with her husband and their three children where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.
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Excerpt Reveal: Not Pretending Anymore by Penelope Ward & Vi Keeland

Title: Not Pretending Anymore
Authors: Penelope Ward & Vi Keeland
Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance
Release Date: April 12, 2021
Excited about Penelope Ward & Vi Keeland’s upcoming release, Not Pretending Anymore?
Check out this SNEAK PEEK of CHAPTER 1!
CHAPTER ONE
Molly
“So, what do you do for a living?”
The woman drummed her fingers on her thigh. “I’m a musician.”
I glanced down at the renter’s application in my hand. Lyric Chords was the name listed at the top.
I bit my tongue and tried to keep an open mind. This was the twelfth woman I’d interviewed as a prospective roommate. Just because she had a few safety pins in her eyebrow and what looked like a dog collar around her neck didn’t mean I should rule her out.
“Oh. That’s nice. Are you a singer?”
Lyric shook her head. “Drummer. Do you know the dimensions of the bedroom I’ll be sleeping in? I have two sets of drums I need to fit.”
“Umm… I think it’s fourteen by fourteen. But you don’t practice at home, right? I wrote in my ad that I’m looking for a quiet roommate because I work nights.”
“I do. But no worries. I’ll practice in my room.”
My bedroom and my potential roommate’s bedroom shared a wall, so that was the end of interview number twelve. I sighed and forced a smile. “Thank you for coming. I have a few other people left to meet with before I decide. I’ll let you know.”
“Great.” The woman stood. “Also, I know your ad said two months’ rent up front, but I’m running a little short right now. Would one be okay?”
I smiled. “Sure, no problem.” Since you’re not going to be living here.
After Drummergirl, I interviewed two more candidates. One wanted her boyfriend to move into the room with her, even though my ad had specified I was only looking for a single. And the other arrived twenty minutes late, reeked of alcohol, and slurred her words…at three thirty in the afternoon.
Why in the hell was it so difficult to find a roommate in a city of almost three-million people? I needed my last interview of the day to be a miracle, or I was going to have to shell out money for another ad and start the entire process all over. And I definitely didn’t have the time or the funds for that. Rent was due in two weeks. If I got stuck paying the full amount on this place myself again, I’d be eating cat food for a month.
When my last appointment knocked right on time, I took a deep breath, looked up at the ceiling, and asked the big guy in the sky for a little assistance.
Opening the door, I blinked a few times.
Uhhh. I think you answered the wrong prayer, God.
A man stood in my hallway—and not just any man, an absolutely gorgeous one with a perfect, straight nose, cheekbones to die for, a masculine, square jaw, full lips, tanned skin, and the sexiest chocolate brown, almond-shaped eyes I’d ever seen in my life.
“Uh. Can I help you?”
He flashed a killer smile, one that I immediately suspected had made countless women remove their panties.
“Hi. I have a four-thirty appointment with Molly Corrigan.”
“You do?” I had the last application in my hand and looked down at the name on the top. “I don’t think so. My appointment is with a D. Tate?”
He extended a hand. “That’s me. Declan Tate.”
“But…you’re…not a woman.”
He smiled again. “You’re correct. Very observant. I am most definitely not a woman. But my last roommate told me I should’ve been because I use moisturizer at night and cried at the end of Marley and Me. And if I’m being honest, I also got a little watery at the end of Toy Story, so maybe I’m a bit of a wuss. Either way, I think you should consider those my positive feminine qualities.”
I was thoroughly confused. “Umm… I’m sorry. You must’ve missed that my ad said female only.”
“Actually, I didn’t. But if you’ll give me just five minutes, I think I can convince you I would be a better roommate than a woman.”
I chuckled. “Let me get this straight… You hid your first name—what did you say it was again?”
“Declan.”
“Right. Declan. Anyway, you applied to an ad for a female roommate, intentionally deceiving the person who is going to decide if you get the room by leaving your first name off. And your strategy is to convince me I don’t really know what I want in less than five minutes? Do I have that right?”
He flashed that boyish charm again. “You sure do.”
I debated how to handle the situation. On one hand, he was going to waste my time, and I had done enough of that today. But on the other, my curiosity was definitely piqued. Something about his grin told me this could be amusing. Screw it. I had nothing better to do anyway.
I opened the door wider and stepped aside, holding my hand out for him to enter. “I’m setting the timer on my phone, and I’m getting a glass of wine before you start. I like a drink while I’m being entertained.”
Declan smirked and strolled into my apartment.
I motioned to the couch. “Have a seat. I’ll just be a minute.”
When I got to the kitchen, he called after me, “Hey, Mollz?”
I turned back. “Yes?”
“How about you make that two glasses of wine?”
I chuckled. “Sure. Why not, Decs.”
I poured a couple of glasses of pinot grigio and returned to the living room.
“Here you go. Hope you like white.”
“You see? We’re perfect together already. I prefer white over red.”
I brought my wine to my lips. “Yes, perfect. A match made in heaven. I think we might even be soul mates.”
Declan showed me his pearly whites once again. He really did have a great smile, nice teeth, too. Too bad he also had a penis. I knocked back half the contents of my glass and placed it on the coffee table. Picking up my cell, I swiped to the timer app and set it for five minutes.
I showed him the screen. “You ready?”
“I’m always ready.”
I pressed start, placed the phone face up on the coffee table between us, and folded my hands. “Go.”
“Okay. Well…what’s your favorite color?”
“My favorite color?”
Declan pointed to the timer. “Time’s a ticking, Molly. I’m going to need you to not repeat questions.”
I laughed. “Fine. My favorite color is pink.”
Declan reached into one of his pant pockets and pulled out a set of keys. The keychain had a bunch of pink beads with white letters between each one. The letters spelled out his name. “Mine too.”
I arched a brow. “Did you make that yourself?”
“No. My niece, Arianna, made it for me.”
“So how do I know that isn’t just Arianna’s favorite color?”
“Good point. Let’s move on. Your ad said you work nights.”
“That’s right. I’m a nurse. I work the night shift on the maternity ward.”
“So you sleep during the day, then?”
“I get off at seven, and I try to get to sleep as soon as I get home.”
He held his hand to his chest. “I work days. I leave for the gym by six and usually don’t get home until after seven at night. So the apartment will be quiet when you need it to be.”
I nodded. “Okay. I’ll give you that that would make you a good roommate. But most people work days, so it’s not really something that makes you too special.”
“Do you cook?” he said.
“Does macaroni and cheese count?”
“I grew up in a multigenerational Italian home. My nonna taught me how to make sauce from scratch.”
“So you’re going to cook for me?”
“If that’s what it takes to get this apartment, yes.”
“As tempting as that might be, there’s an Italian restaurant around the corner that makes great food. Funny enough, it’s called Nonna’s Place, and an actual nonna makes most of my meals. Not a knockoff.”
Declan took an exaggerated breath and blew it out. He glanced at the cell on the table. “Three minutes and thirty-eight seconds. I can see you’re not going to make this easy. How about you tell me why you can’t have a male roommate so I can address that head-on. Is it because of the toilet-seat thing? Because I have four older sisters, so I’m appropriately trained. When I was eight, I made the mistake of leaving it up once, and my sister sat down where I’d accidentally left a little pee. She dunked my head in the toilet bowl before she flushed. That was the last time I left the seat up.” He held up three fingers. “Scout’s honor. It won’t be an issue.”
I smiled. “It’s not because of the toilet thing.”
“Alright. So why don’t you want a male roommate, then?”
I’d actually never given much thought to why my roommate had to be female. It just seemed natural to have another woman sharing the apartment. “Well…I don’t really have a specific reason. I would just be more comfortable living with another woman. For example, I sleep in a T-shirt and underwear. When I get up to start the coffee, I don’t get dressed. It would be weird to do that in front of a man.”
“Why?”
“Why would it be weird to walk around with my ass cheeks on display in front of a man and not a woman?”
“Yes.”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. It just would. I guess because the women I’ve lived with aren’t attracted to other women, so it doesn’t feel sexual in any way.”
“Ah. Now we’re getting to the crux of your issue. So you’re afraid of some sexual tension going on between you and me? Is it because I’m so handsome?”
“What? No! And aren’t you full of yourself, assuming I think you’re handsome, and I’m worried I won’t be able to control myself.”
“Just keeping it real, Mollz. You’re only giving me five minutes, so I’m trying to get to the heart of the reason.”
“I guess I just don’t want to feel like I have to cover up to come out of my bedroom. When I dry my hair, I wear a towel or a bra and underwear—that type of thing.”
“Would you feel you had to cover up if I told you I was gay?”
That question gave me pause. Would I? I wasn’t sure. “Are you?”
“Fuck, no. I was just trying to pinpoint your issue. Is it the fact that I’m a man, or the fact that I might admire your ass if it were on display? Sounds like it’s the latter. So let me put your mind at ease: I won’t.”
I felt oddly offended. “What’s wrong with my ass?”
He chuckled. “I wouldn’t know. I haven’t looked. You know why?”
“Why?”
“Because I’m in love with someone else.”
As insane as it was, I felt a pang of jealousy. “Oh. Well, why aren’t you moving in with her?”
“Because she doesn’t return the feelings…yet. So basically, if your concern about having a guy for a roommate is that he’s going to be checking you out, you have nothing to worry about with me. I’m a one-woman man. If you want, I can give you the numbers of some of my exes for references. I’m no cheater.”
Hmmm… “I don’t know…”
Declan looked down at the clock. Thirty-one seconds were left. “We’re running out of time, so we need to speed things up. How about if I just give you the facts you need to know?”
“That would be good.”
“I’m twenty-eight years old. I make six figures. My credit score is eight hundred and ten, and I have references from previous landlords. I’m neat and clean up after myself. I’m not home a lot, but when I am, I’m pretty quiet. I’m also damn good with a hammer.” He glanced around my apartment and pointed at a hole I’d accidentally made in the wall when I flung the closet door open too hard. “I can spackle that and put on a door stopper so it won’t happen again.” He pointed to the kitchen. “And those cabinets are pretty tall. I’m six foot one. No more having to stand on a chair to reach something on the top shelf. And—”
The timer on the stopwatch buzzed.
“Can I just say one last thing?”
“Sure. Why not?”
“I’ll share my Hulu and Netflix passwords. I have the premium Hulu account.”
I laughed. “Well, those are some pretty enticing qualities for a roommate.”
He smiled. “So I’m in?”
I sighed. “I’m sorry. While I appreciate your tenacity, unfortunately, you’re not. Though I interviewed fourteen other people today, and I have to say, you do seem like you’ll make some other lucky person a fantastic roomie.”
Declan frowned, but nodded. “I figured it was worth a shot. This is a great building, and I work right around the corner. It’s hard to find an apartment where it’s only a six-month commitment.”
“My lease is up then, and I haven’t decided if I’m going to extend or not.”
“See? That’s another reason I’d be perfect. I’m only in town for six more months.”
“I’m sorry. This is definitely a case of it’s me and not you.”
He picked up his wine and guzzled it down before standing and extending his hand. “I appreciate you giving me your time. And thanks for the pinot.”
We shook. “It was nice to meet you, Declan.”
After I walked him out, I shut the door and leaned back against it. What a shame; he really seemed like a nice guy and the best candidate I’d met by a mile. I was just about to go wallow in another glass of alcohol when there was a knock at my door. Checking the peephole before opening, I found Declan standing there.
“I forgot something important,” he said.
“Oh? What’s that?”
He took out his wallet and produced a photo of a nun. “This is my sister Catherine, and it’s not a costume from Halloween. She’s a legit nun. How bad can a person be if his sister is a nun?”
I laughed. “Is this the sister who dunked your head in the toilet?”
He grinned. “It is, actually.”
“Well, I’m not sure there’s a direct correlation between your sister deciding to dedicate her life to the church and you being a good person. Though, even if I take your word for it, it still doesn’t change my answer.”
Declan’s shoulders drooped. “Had to try. She tells me her being a nun won’t get me into heaven. Thought maybe it was good for something.”
“Goodbye, Declan.”
“Later, Mollz.”
***
“So…how’s the roommate search going?” Emma poured a cup of coffee and sat down at the small table in our break room.
I sighed. “Why is it so hard to find a normal person these days? I’ve interviewed more than a dozen people, and not one suitable candidate.”
“Did you post an ad on the employee bulletin board, like I suggested?”
I shook my head. “I don’t want another nurse or tech. It makes it weird at work if things don’t work out.”
“Maybe Dr. Dandy will apply.” She wiggled her eyebrows. “I heard he’s sleeping on Dr. Cohen’s couch until he finds a place.”
That information certainly perked me up. “Really? Will and whatshername broke up?”
“Yup. Lisa in X-ray told me Dr. Cohen told her he’s staying with him. Apparently he and the wannabe actress are finito.”
“Wow.”
Emma smiled. “Yup. And fair warning, my friend… I’m allowing a ten-day grace period for him to grieve the end of a year-long relationship. But after that, I’m going to be up your butt making sure you let the man know you’re interested. He’s not going to be on the market for long, and you missed your opportunity last time he was single. You can’t keep pining for the guy.”
Of course she was right. And while I felt elated that Will was back on the market, the thought of coming clean to him about my feelings made me want to throw up. Will Daniels—or as Emma called him, Dr. Dandy, because of his last name and uncanny resemblance to a male model named David Gandy—and I had been good friends for four years now. We’d started on the very same day at the hospital and had gone through orientation together. I’d had a boyfriend back then, and he’d been seeing a girl from med school at the time, so even though I’d always thought he was insanely handsome, things didn’t bloom until two years ago. And most of the time since then, he’d been seeing one woman or another. Emma was right that the man never seemed to stay single for long.
“He’s going to be at happy hour this Friday night,” I said. “A few of the crew from CCU are meeting up over at McBride’s. I’m curious to hear what he says about the breakup.”
“Does he know you’re looking for a roommate?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Well, he needs a place to sleep, and you need a roomie.” Emma shrugged. “Timing is everything. Maybe it’s fate and he’ll move in and take care of two of your needs.”
“I think your imagination might be getting ahead of itself. Why don’t we start by seeing if things are really over with him and whatshername? They’ve split up a few times, but he always winds up going back.”
“Okay. But I have a good feeling about you two.”
“Could you possibly have a good feeling about me finding a roommate instead? I just had to pay for another damn ad.”
Emma shook her head. “I can’t believe you didn’t find one decent candidate.”
Remembering my last interview, I said, “Actually there was one who would’ve been perfect—great credit score, neat, cooks, leaves early in the morning, and works long days.”
“So why didn’t you take her?”
“Because she was a he.”
★★★
 
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PENELOPE WARD
Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of contemporary romance. 
She grew up in Boston with five older brothers and spent most of her twenties as a television news anchor. Penelope resides in Rhode Island with her husband, son, and beautiful daughter with autism.
With over two million books sold, she is a 21-time New York Times bestseller and the author of over twenty novels. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages and can be found in bookstores around the world.
VI KEELAND
Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author. With millions of books sold, her titles have appeared in over a hundred Bestseller lists and are currently translated in twenty-five languages. She resides in New York with her husband and their three children where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.

Excerpt Reveal: Beneath the Stars by A.L. Jackson

Beneath the Stars Excerpt Blitz

A Friends-to-Lovers Rockstar Romance from A.L. Jackson

Coming February 22nd

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Beneath the Stars is coming 02/22, and I’m thrilled to be a part of the except blitz. Check out the fire that is coming to you in this friends-to-lovers romance!

 

“Just how strong are ya, Mag Pie? Think you can sling me on that back and carry me inside?” He managed to only half slur the words.

Droplets of giddiness dripped into my chest. A well gathering fast. “You’re asking me if I can lift a Mack truck?” 

“Hell, no. Just if you can tackle a stallion.”

He waggled his brows, though it was sloppy and goofy and kind of adorable, and god, how easily I could fall for this man.

Like slipping into quicksand. 

“What would you say if I wanted to try?” I whispered, throat so tight it was difficult to speak. 

He grunted. “I’d say that sounds like a mistake.” 

“I thought you said I needed to make a few mistakes along the way?” I lifted my chin, my eyes searching his face in the darkness.

He forced a grin that felt wholly faked. “Ahhh…a few mistakes are called for. But believe me, baby, you don’t want this kind of tragedy.” 

“Rhys—” 

He shook his head to cut me off. “Don’t.” 

I glanced back at the house. “I really should get Royce. He can help me get you inside.” 

Rhys huffed out a laugh, shoving off the darkness that had gathered around him like a violent storm. He cocked a playful grin. “Think I’ve received my full allotment of death threats from your brother today, thank you very much. I can make it just fine.” 

“Death threats?” 

“Let’s just say he made our boundaries very clear.” He gestured at the bare space between us. “Just so you know, we’re already crossin’ them.” 

I scowled. “When?” 

“Doesn’t matter.” 

I huffed a sigh. 

Freaking Royce. 

“Richard?” I offered instead. 

“Nope. Good as new. Can’t keep a good man down.” His words were all slurry and mushed together.

He hopped up like he was going to prove the point. 

Only he stumbled three feet to the side. 

A goliath who swayed. 

I jumped up and rushed to his side. “Whoa there, cowboy. You keep it up, and you’re definitely going down.”

He leaned against me, slinging his arm over my shoulders. 

The man heavy and hard and pure masculinity. 

He staggered a bit, and I struggled to keep him upright, because holy crap, he was made of brick. 

Suddenly, his nose was in my hair. “Why you gotta smell so good, Mags? And this dress.” 

My brain was short-circuiting with him this close. 

With the words that slipped from his mouth so errantly. 

With the way his fingertips grazed over the silky fabric in the barest brush.

Wildfire. 

It consumed my flesh.

But it was my heart that was at risk. 

 

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A.L. Jackson is the New York Times & USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance. She writes emotional, sexy, heart-filled stories about boys who usually like to be a little bit bad.

Her bestselling series include THE REGRET SERIES, CLOSER TO YOU, BLEEDING STARS, FIGHT FOR ME, CONFESSIONS OF THE HEART, and FALLING STARS novels. Watch out for her upcoming stand-alone, BENEATH THE STARS, releasing February 22nd.

If she’s not writing, you can find her hanging out by the pool with her family, sipping cocktails with her friends, or of course with her nose buried in a book.

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Exclusive Excerpt: Bet the Farm by Staci Hart

Staci Hart has a brand new rom-com standalone coming February 23rd! Bet the Farm is a heartfelt, flirty story of opposites attract and I cannot WAIT to read it! Mark your calendars and pre-order your copy today!

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“What are you doing out here at midnight? And what are those?”

“Oh!” she said, seeming to remember the wriggly blonde puppies in her arms. “Oh my God, Jake. Listen to this—Presley was driving me home from Joe’s because I might have maybe had a little to much to drink, and we were just outside of town when we came up on this cardboard box on the side of the road that somebody wrote PUPPIES on the side of. Can you believe somebody would do that? This world is so fucked up.”

I started to laugh at her untethered use of the word fuck, but cleared my throat. “Okay, but what are they doing here?”

“Well, they were so cute, and Presley wanted one and was gonna take the rest to town to”—a hiccup—“’Scuse me. To town tomorrow to see if anyone wanted them or she’d drive them to the animal shelter. And I was sitting there with that box in my lap and was looking at those little babies, with no mama to take care of them, and I … well, I …” Her voice wavered, and tears welled in her eyes so high, they touched her pupil. “They’re all alone. And so am I. And so are you. So I brought us puppies. This one’s yours.”

She shoved a puppy into my chest.

“No, wait. This one’s yours.”

She shoved the other puppy into my chest, clutching the first one to hers.

I looked down at the furry little squiggly thing, taking it with no small amount of reluctance. “I don’t want a dog.”

“Well, that’s too bad, isn’t it?” she said to the puppy in her arms in a schmoopy voice. “Jake, aren’t they just so sweet? I could just eat him up.”

“That one’s a girl.”

She glanced for confirmation. “Well, I guess I’ll have to pick a new name. Kevin isn’t exactly neutral, is it?” When she looked up, her nose was a little red but her eyes were clear. Until she got a good look at me and her face melted into that doe-eyed expression girls got when they looked at a baby.“Awww, Jake! You’re holding a puppy.” She giggled, but her eyes were shiny again like she was going to cry. “And your shirt’s all unbuttoned. And you don’t have shoes on! I can’t handle it.” Her face lit up. “Let me take a picture of you.” She was already fumbling for her phone.

“Pass.” I dumped the puppy back in her arms with its sibling. “I don’t want a dog, and I don’t want to be all over your stupid social media.”

She made a dramatic grump face and said in a doofy mocking male voice, “I don’t wanna be on the interwebs with the TikTockers and InstantGrammar. You are such a fuddy duddy. And you can’t say no to the puppy.”

The puppy was back in my arms. “Trust me, I can.”

I tried to give it back, but she pushed it in my direction, her face screwing up in anger.

“Listen, you asshole—you need this puppy and she needs you. You won’t let me be your friend, so please, take the dog. She doesn’t have anybody else to take care of her and you don’t have anyone to take care of you. We don’t have Pop anymore, Jake. And I don’t have you and you don’t have me because you’re such a stupid jerk and you never have a shirt on when you know it makes me all …” She crossed her eyes and circled her ear with her pointer finger. “So take the goddamn dog! And I’ll take mine. And then we won’t be alone anymore.”

A slice of white-hot pain cut through me at the despair in her words. At the knowledge on their heels. At the look on her sad, angry face and those shiny tears still in her eyes. How she’d gone through so many forms of tears in such a short period of time astounded me. But that was Olivia. She felt everything. And she always tried to find a way to be happy, despite her circumstance. Which, at the moment, was pretty shitty.

And all I’d done was make it worse, simply because I was scared of losing anything else that meant something to me. I’d lost enough.

She was right. We were alone. And we both needed a friend, canine and human both.

Olivia Brent has one summer to save the dairy farm she just inherited.

But there’s one problem, and it’s not her lactose intolerance.

Jake Milovic.

The brooding farmhand has inherited exactly fifty percent of Brent Farm, and he’s so convinced the city girl can’t work the land, he bets she can’t save it in a summer. 

Determined to prove him wrong, Olivia accepts what might be the dumbest wager of her life.

His strategy to win seems simple: follow her around, shirtlessly distracting her between bouts of relentless taunting. And it’s effective—if his dark eyes and rare smiles aren’t enough to sidetrack her, the sweaty, rolling topography of the manbeast’s body would do the trick.

What they don’t know: they’ll have to weather more than each other. 

Mysterious circumstances throw the farm into disarray, and with the dairy farm in danger, Olivia and Jake have to work together. But when they do, there’s more to fear than either of them imagined.

Because now their hearts are on the line, and the farm won’t be the only casualty if they fail.

Staci has been a lot of things up to this point in her life — a graphic designer, an entrepreneur, a seamstress, a clothing and handbag designer, a waitress. Can’t forget that. She’s also been a mom, with three little girls who are sure to grow up to break a number of hearts. She’s been a wife, though she’s certainly not the cleanest, or the best cook. She’s also super, duper fun at a party, especially if she’s been drinking whiskey. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, sleeping, gaming, or designing graphics.

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Exclusive Excerpt: Bet the Farm by Staci Hart

Staci Hart has a brand new rom-com standalone coming February 23rd! Bet the Farm is a heartfelt, flirty story of opposites attract and I cannot WAIT to read it! Mark your calendars and pre-order your copy today!

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I went down like a windmill, one socked foot in the air and arms wheeling. The calf had still grazed me, and the force combined with my graceless fall slammed me into the ground.

My ribs quaked, my lungs empty from the shock and locked by the pain. Stunned, I watched the calves tromp around me, knowing I needed to curl up or crawl away or call for help. Only I couldn’t move or speak, too busy trying to unlock my lungs and hear past the ring in my ears.

A sharp whistle cut through the chaos, and the calves trotted to the other side of the pen. The sun hammered me into the mud.

Breathe, I can’t breathe, I can’t—

Shade cast over me, and I cracked my eyes to see a silhouette of Jake against the crisp blue sky.

He gathered me to sit, bracing my body against his and inspecting me as best he could. “Are you hurt?”

I shook my head. “Can’t … breathe …”

“You can, just look at me.”

When I met his eyes, I would have told him that was the dumbest thing he’d ever suggested, provided I could speak. Because it was impossible to breathe with his face inches from mine. His eyes were narrowed in concern, the green of his irises crisp and vibrant, even in the shade. Maybe it was the lack of oxygen. I was probably hallucinating. No one could be this perfect, every feature symmetric and aligned. He had to have a flaw besides his shitty attitude. Hairy ears, maybe.

When he turned his head to check my limbs, I noted his stupid ears were perfect too.

Jerk.

Olivia Brent has one summer to save the dairy farm she just inherited.

But there’s one problem, and it’s not her lactose intolerance.

Jake Milovic.

The brooding farmhand has inherited exactly fifty percent of Brent Farm, and he’s so convinced the city girl can’t work the land, he bets she can’t save it in a summer. 

Determined to prove him wrong, Olivia accepts what might be the dumbest wager of her life.

His strategy to win seems simple: follow her around, shirtlessly distracting her between bouts of relentless taunting. And it’s effective—if his dark eyes and rare smiles aren’t enough to sidetrack her, the sweaty, rolling topography of the manbeast’s body would do the trick.

What they don’t know: they’ll have to weather more than each other. 

Mysterious circumstances throw the farm into disarray, and with the dairy farm in danger, Olivia and Jake have to work together. But when they do, there’s more to fear than either of them imagined.

Because now their hearts are on the line, and the farm won’t be the only casualty if they fail.

Staci has been a lot of things up to this point in her life — a graphic designer, an entrepreneur, a seamstress, a clothing and handbag designer, a waitress. Can’t forget that. She’s also been a mom, with three little girls who are sure to grow up to break a number of hearts. She’s been a wife, though she’s certainly not the cleanest, or the best cook. She’s also super, duper fun at a party, especially if she’s been drinking whiskey. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, sleeping, gaming, or designing graphics.

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Coming Soon: Bet the Farm by Staci Hart

Staci Hart has a brand new rom-com standalone coming January 26th! Bet the Farm is a heartfelt, flirty story of opposites attract and I cannot WAIT to read it! Mark your calendars and pre-order your copy today!

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A very unladylike grunt grated out of me.

Every muscle engaged as I hauled a ridiculous pink suitcase off the baggage belt of the tiny airport. The curl of my toes kept me braced. My glutes were hard enough to bounce a quarter off of. Shoulders bunched, abs engaged, fingers burning.

It was more than I’d worked out in a year.

In that moment, I second guessed everything I’d packed to come home to California, even though I’d been absolutely certain every article of clothing was necessary at the time. But when I stumbled backward from the force of finally loosing my luggage, I questioned the rain boots. And the overalls. And all that plaid. But I was back at the farm after two long years, and I had to look the part.

The worst part of growing up on a dairy farm was being lactose intolerant.

Butter and cream, ice cream and cheese, and tanks brimming with milk. Growing up, it was inescapable, and as a sweet, innocent child with no clue of the tragic fate my digestive system had in store, I didn’t have to escape it. I remember sneaking hunks of cheese from the creamery and eating until I was sick in the hay loft. Or sitting across from my grandfather, warm brownie and teeming glass of fresh milk before us, the sounds of crickets floating in on the breeze through the open windows of the farmhouse.

These days, it was almond milk and soy cheese, margarine and sorbet. I’d abandoned cream, opting to drink my coffee black, which made me feel like a true badass—no easy feat at five feet and change, with hair the color of a penny and enough freckles to find constellations in the array. I was about as badass as a paper towel or a guinea pig or a carrot. Or a guinea pig on a paper towel eating a carrot.

When the suitcase wheels were on the slick tile floor of baggage claim in the eensy airport, I brushed my hair back from my clammy forehead, scanning the belt for my other suitcase.

It was equally as ridiculous a shade of pink as the one I propped myself on to catch my breath, a bright bubblegum hue, fit better for a little girl than a grown woman. A New Yorker, no less. But I couldn’t bring myself to curb the inclination to the color. It was a color that instantly brought cheer—you couldn’t tow a suitcase that vivid and hopeful without getting the distinct impression that everything would be all right, regardless of where you were going.

Even a funeral.

Olivia Brent has one summer to save the dairy farm she just inherited.

But there’s one problem, and it’s not her lactose intolerance.

Jake Milovic.

The brooding farmhand has inherited exactly fifty percent of Brent Farm, and he’s so convinced the city girl can’t work the land, he bets she can’t save it in a summer. 

Determined to prove him wrong, Olivia accepts what might be the dumbest wager of her life.

His strategy to win seems simple: follow her around, shirtlessly distracting her between bouts of relentless taunting. And it’s effective—if his dark eyes and rare smiles aren’t enough to sidetrack her, the sweaty, rolling topography of the manbeast’s body would do the trick.

What they don’t know: they’ll have to weather more than each other. 

Mysterious circumstances throw the farm into disarray, and with the dairy farm in danger, Olivia and Jake have to work together. But when they do, there’s more to fear than either of them imagined.

Because now their hearts are on the line, and the farm won’t be the only casualty if they fail.

Staci has been a lot of things up to this point in her life — a graphic designer, an entrepreneur, a seamstress, a clothing and handbag designer, a waitress. Can’t forget that. She’s also been a mom, with three little girls who are sure to grow up to break a number of hearts. She’s been a wife, though she’s certainly not the cleanest, or the best cook. She’s also super, duper fun at a party, especially if she’s been drinking whiskey. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, sleeping, gaming, or designing graphics.

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Excerpt Reveal: Little Lies by H. Hunting

“Helena Hunting takes your breath and your heart with equal force in this incredible, important novel. This book is a hug and a lesson, as well as a hell of a ride” — Debra Anastasia, author

From New York Times bestselling author Helena Hunting writing as H. Hunting, comes a beautifully written and emotional new adult romance, Little Lies, November 16th and we have the first peek inside this unforgettable romance.

Sneak Peek

Lavender finally looks my way. “You can go back to your bunnies, Kodiak. I don’t need a bodyguard or a babysitter.”
Clarke laughs and smirks at me. “You heard her. We’re good.” He slings his arm over her shoulder and pulls her into his side. I’m pretty sure her ass cheek is pressed up against his leg, and his fingers dangle perilously close to her boob.
My control slips. The frustration over not being able to have what I want is wearing me down. Everyone has an opinion on what’s good for me—how I have to manage all the impulses, how I can’t let the obsessions rule me the way they often do. But this is more than I can take. It’s been weeks and weeks of fighting the need of being an asshole because the alternative is to dive right back into that fixation—and if I do, I’m very worried it’s going to consume me. And her.
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Synopsis

I don’t want you.
You mean nothing to me.
I never loved you.
I turned my words into swords.
And I cut her down.
Shoved the blade in and watched her fall.
I said I’d never hurt her, and I did.
Years later, I’m faced with all the little lies, the untruths, the false realities, the damage I inflicted, when all I wanted was to indulge my obsession.
Lavender Waters is the princess in the tower. Even her name is the thing fairy tales are made of.
I used to be the one who saved her.
Over and over again.
But I don’t want to save her anymore.
I just want to pretend the lies are still the truth.

About Helena Hunting

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

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Website: http://www.helenahunting.com/

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Excerpt Reveal: Happily Letter After by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward

Title: Happily Letter After
Authors: Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward
Publisher: Montlake
Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance
Release Date: October 20, 2020
BLURB
From New York Times bestselling authors Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward comes a love story about taking chances and the surprises that come with them. 

My love story all started with a letter. 
Only it wasn’t from the man I’d eventually fall in love with. It was from his daughter. A sweet little girl named Birdie Maxwell who’d written to the magazine that I worked for. 
You see, once a year my employer fulfilled a few wishes for readers. Only that column didn’t start up again for months. 
So I fulfilled some of her wishes myself. It was harmless…so I thought. Until one day I took things too far. 
While anonymously granting yet another of Birdie’s wishes, I got a look at her father. Her devastatingly handsome, single dad father. 
I should have stopped playing fairy godmother then. I should have left well enough alone. But I just couldn’t help myself. I had a connection to this girl. One that had me acting irrationally. 
Like when I showed up on their doorstep.
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EXCERPT
Copyright © 2019 by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward 

“I cannot believe we are doing this.” Devin and I took the C train to Columbus Circle and stopped at Starbucks before walking over to the carousel. My partner in crime came dressed for surveillance, wearing head-to-toe black, dark sun- glasses, and a wool cap . . . in July. We were lucky it was New York or she might look like the weirdo she is. I, on the other hand, had on jeans and an Aerosmith T-shirt. Because . . . you know . . . Steven Tyler and those lips. I didn’t even care he was probably pushing seventy. I’d still suck on those babies. 
We took a seat on a bench located to the right of the carousel—not directly in front of it but where we could still see everyone who walked in and out. As we got into position, I started to feel really bad about what we were about to do—invade little Birdie’s privacy. 
“Maybe we shouldn’t do this.” 
Devin put her hand on my shoulder and applied pressure—just in case I tried to get up. “We’re doing this. Don’t even try to make a run for it.” 
I slouched back onto the bench. “Fine.” 
We sat for the better part of an hour, sipping coffee, gossiping about work, and looking around for a little girl and her dad. When I caught the time on my phone, I said, “It’s after eleven. I don’t think they’re coming.” 
“Let’s give it until eleven thirty.” 
I rolled my eyes. But screw it, we were in this far—I might as well go along with the rest of the ride. Otherwise, Devin would never let me hear the end of it. At eleven thirty on the dot, I stood. “Let’s go, Lacey.” 
“Who?” 
Cagney & Lacey. It was a show my mom used to watch when I was little. It had two women detectives.” 
“Well, which one was hotter? Maybe I don’t want to be Lacey.” 
I laughed. “You can be whichever one you want to be.” 
I turned to throw out my coffee cup in the basket next to the bench and was just about to start to leave when I spotted a little girl and a man who had just turned into the entrance of the park. They were pretty far off, but I thought it could be Birdie. “Oh my God. Sit! Sit! I think that’s them.” 
The two of us planted our asses back on the bench at the same exact time. Devin leaned forward and squinted. “Are you sure?” 
I grabbed her arm and pulled her to sit back. “Don’t be so obvious.” 
We watched, while completely failing at looking casual, as the man and the little girl moved closer. The man was tall, broad-shouldered, and had on a pair of jeans and a T-shirt. He was holding the hand of the little girl. And she had on . . . a bodysuit and tutu. It was definitely Birdie! 
“Oh my God. It’s them!” 
Neither of us said a word as the father and daughter approached the carousel. When they got close enough so I could finally see their faces, I gasped. “Oh my God. He’s . . .” 
Devin grabbed my hand. “I call dibs. I want to have his babies.” 
I couldn’t believe my eyes. While I was expecting a modern version of my dad twenty years ago, the man standing before me was anything but. For the record, my dad is awesome, and he’s not too shabby-looking. But this man . . . was . . . drop. Dead. Gorgeous. Wow. Just . . . yeah. Wow. 
Sebastian Maxwell had dark hair, bone structure to die for, and full, beautiful lips. I’d joked how Devin thought the guy was a super- model, but this man could actually be a supermodel. He had that longish, messy hair—the kind that he could drag a hand through, and it would look like he’d been both thoroughly fucked and just finished a photo shoot. Yeah, that was him. I was absolutely, positively speechless.
VI KEELAND
Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author. With millions of books sold, her titles have appeared in over a hundred Bestseller lists and are currently translated in twenty-five languages. She resides in New York with her husband and their three children where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.
PENELOPE WARD
Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of contemporary romance. 

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