Exclusive Excerpt: Handle With Care by Helena Hunting

Handle With Care, an all-new romantic comedy from New York Times bestselling author Helena Hunting is coming August 27th, and we have a sneak peek!

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HE WANTS TO LOSE CONTROL.

Between his parents’ messed up marriage and his narcissistic younger brother, Lincoln Moorehead has spent the majority of his life avoiding his family. After the death of his father, Lincoln finds himself in the middle of the drama. To top it all off, he’s been named CEO of Moorehead Media, much to his brother’s chagrin. But Lincoln’s bad attitude softens when he meets the no-nonsense, gorgeous woman who has been given the task of transforming him from the gruff, wilderness guy to a suave businessman

SHE’S TRYING TO HOLD IT TOGETHER.

Wren Sterling has been working double time to keep the indiscretions at Moorehead Media at bay, so when she’s presented with a new contract, with new responsibilities and additional incentives, she agrees. Working with the reclusive oldest son of a ridiculously entitled family is worth the hassle if it means she’s that much closer to pursuing her own dreams. What Wren doesn’t expect is to find herself attracted to him, or for it to be mutual. And she certainly doesn’t expect to fall for Lincoln. But when a shocking new Moorehead scandal comes to light, she’s forced to choose between her own family and the broody, cynical CEO.

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Excerpt from Chapter One

Chapter One

What Have I Gotten Myself into?

Wren

I slip onto the empty bar stool beside the lumberjack mountain man who looks like he tried to squeeze himself into a suit two sizes too small. He’s intimidatingly broad and thick, with long dark hair that’s been pulled up into a haphazard man bun thing. His beard is a hipster’s wet dream. His scowl, however, makes him about as approachable as a rabid porcupine. And yet, here I am, sidling up next to him.

He glances at me, eyes bleary and not really tracking. He quickly focuses on his half-empty glass again. Based on the slump of his shoulders and the uncoordinated way he picks up his glass and tips it toward his mouth, I’m guessing he’s pretty hammered. I order a sparkling water with a dash of cranberry juice and a lime.

What I could really use is a cup of lavender-mint tea and my bed, but instead, I’m sitting next to a drunk man in his thirties. My life is extra glamorous, obviously. And no, I’m not an escort, but at the moment I feel like my morals are on the same kind of slippery slope.

“Rough day?” I ask, nodding to the bottle that’s missing more than half its contents. It was full when he sat down at the bar an hour ago. Yes, I’ve been watching him the entire time, waiting for an opportunity to make my move. While he’s been sitting here, he’s turned down two women, one in a dress that could’ve doubled as a disco ball and the other in a top so low-cut, I could almost see her navel.

“You could say that,” he slurs. He props his cheek on his fist, eyes almost slits. I can still make out the vibrant blue hue despite them being nearly closed. They move over me, assessing. I’m wearing a conservative black dress with a high neckline and a hem that falls below my knees. Definitely not nearly as provocative as Disco Ball or Navel Lady.

“That solving your problems?” I give him a wry grin and tip my chin in the direction of his bottle of Johnnie.

His gaze swings slowly to the bottle. It gives me a chance to really look at him. Or what I can see of his face under his beard, anyway.

“Nah, but it helps quiet down all the noise up here.” He taps his temple and blurts, “My dad died.”

I put a hand on his forearm. It feels awkward, and creepy on my part since its half-genuine, half-contrived comfort. “I’m so sorry.”

He glances at my hand, which I quickly remove, and refocuses on his drink. “I should be sorry too, but I think he was mostly an asshole, so the world might be better off without him.” He attempts to fill his glass again, but his aim is off, and he pours it on the bar instead. I rush to lift my purse and grab a handful of napkins to mop up the mess.

“I’m drunk,” he mumbles.

“Well, I’m thinking that might’ve been the plan, considering the way you’re sucking that bottle back. I’m actually surprised you didn’t ask for a straw in the first place. Might be a good idea to throw a spacer [CD3] in there if you want tomorrow morning to suck less.” I push my drink toward him, hoping he doesn’t send me packing like he did the other women who approached him earlier.

He narrows his eyes at my glass, suspicious, maybe. “What is that?”

“Cranberry and soda.”

“No booze?”

“No booze. Go ahead. You’ll thank me in the morning.”

He picks up the glass and pauses when it’s an inch from his mouth. His eyes crinkle, telling me he’s smiling under that beard. “Does that mean Imma wake up with you beside me?”

I cock a brow. “Are you propositioning me?”

“Shit, sorry.” He chugs the contents of my glass. “I was joking. Besides, I’m so wasted, I can barely remember my name. Pretty sure I’d be useless in bed tonight. I should stop talkin’.” He scrubs a hand over his face and then motions to me. “I wouldn’t proposition you.”

I’m not sure how to respond. I go with semi-affronted, since it seems like somewhat of an insult. “Good to know.”

“Dammit. I mean, I think you might be hot. You look hot. I mean attractive. I think you’re pretty.” He tips his head to the side and blinks a few times. “You have nice eyes, all four of them are lovely.”

This time I laugh—for real—and point to the bottle. “I think you might want to tell your date you’re done for the night.”

He blows out a breath and nods. “You might be right.” He makes an attempt to stand, but as soon as his feet hit the floor, he stumbles into me and grabs my shoulders to steady himself. “Whoa. Sorry. Yup, I’m definitely drunk.” His face is inches from mine, breath smelling strongly of alcohol. Beyond that, I get a whiff of fresh soap and a hint of aftershave. He lets go of my shoulders and takes an unsteady step back. “I don’t usually do this.” He motions sloppily to the bottle. “Mostly I’m a three drink max guy.”

“I think losing your father makes this condonable.” I slide off my stool. Despite being tall for a woman, and wearing heels, he still manages to be close to a head taller than me.

“Yeah, maybe, but I still think I might regret it tomorrow.” He’s incredibly unsteady, swaying while standing in place. I take the opportunity for what it is and thread my arm through his, leading him away from the bar. “Come on, let’s get you to the elevator before you pass out right here.”

He nods, then wobbles a bit, like moving his head has set him off balance. “That’s probably a good idea.”

He leans into me as we weave through the bar and stumbles on the two stairs leading to the foyer. There’s no way I’ll be able to stop him if he goes down, but I drape one of his huge arms over my shoulder anyway, and slip my own around his waist, guiding him in a mostly straight line to the elevators.

“Which floor are you on?” I ask.

“Penthouse.” He drops his arm from my shoulder and flings it out, pointing to the black doors at the end of the hall. “Jesus, I feel like I’m on a boat.”

“It’s probably all the alcohol sloshing around in your brain.” I take his elbow again, helping him stagger the last twenty feet to the dedicated penthouse elevator.

He stares at the keypad for a few seconds, brow pulling into a furrow. “I can’t remember the code. It’s thumbprint activated though too.” He stumbles forward and presses his forehead against the wall, then tries to line up his thumb with the sensor, but his aim is horrendous and he keeps missing.

I settle a hand on his very firm forearm. This man is built like a tank. Or a superhero. For a moment, I reconsider what I’m about to do, but he seems pretty harmless and ridiculously hammered, so he shouldn’t pose a threat. I’m also trained in self-defense, which would fall under the by any means necessary umbrella. “Can I help?”

Read the rest of Chapter One: http://bit.ly/2ZBt0RL

 About the Author:

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’s writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy. 

 

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Cover Reveal: Violet Ugly by J. Lynn Bailey

It’s cover reveal day for J. Lynn Bailey’s Violet Ugly. Check it out and be sure to grab your copy October 23rd!

Title: Violet Ugly

Author: J. Lynn Bailey

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Day: October 23rd

About VIOLET UGLY:

Sixteen years ago, Merit Young left Granite Harbor, Maine, for California in search of a future that didn’t involve Ryan Taylor. He’d left her in pieces on her bedroom floor, delivering a blow she couldn’t have expected. But, now, at the request of her brother, Eli, she must return and confront the demons of her past—Ryan included. After the loss they both suffered, she isn’t prepared to face him—especially considering he’s the only one who’s always been able to see right through her.

Ryan has lived his entire adult life in survival mode. Growing up with an abusive father has taught him to keep women at arm’s length, and that’s never been a problem. Until Merit—the only woman he’s ever loved—strides through his front door. He’s not sure how long she’s staying, but he knows it’ll be long enough to destroy what’s left of his heart.

To overcome their dark past, they’ll have to shed light on a reality that will most likely tear them apart. Merit has been hiding a heartbreaking decision from Ryan, and he’s been keeping lies of his own.

Can two tortured souls heal after a lifetime of pain? Or will the hideous secrets of the past bury them both?

 

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Exclusive Excerpt:

It’s always easier, staring at Ryan Taylor from afar. His stormy, dark eyes give a warning to strangers: stay away. Tall at ten years old, Ryan pretends that his alcoholic father doesn’t bother him. But he does. I see it in his navy-blue eyes when his dad returns from sea.

It’s summer. The heat from the sun on my face makes me feel warm, almost happy. I watch as Ryan stalks toward me, quietly, as I lie in the middle of the mustard field. The scent of sea in my nose. I pray this pain goes away—the pain in my heart from the riptide that has torn through the Young family this morning. We knew it was coming. I should maybe feel relief that my mother is no longer in pain, but I want to retreat back to before she had cancer. When there wasn’t a cluster of pills on the counter. When it didn’t smell like a hospital on 4578 Opal Street at the top of the hill with the view of the ocean.

“Hey,” he says, breathless.

“You been running?” I peer up at him through squinty eyes.

“Yeah. From my house. When I heard the news.” Ryan sits down next to me and then lies down, placing his hands behind his head, peering up at the same summer sky.

“You okay?” I hear him whisper.

I don’t know.

I feel sick, and numb, too, I guess.

“What are you supposed to feel when your parent dies, Ryan?” The birds chirp.

Crickets sing.

I wait. Praying that his answer will deliver some peace.

Life is going on at a pace I wasn’t prepared for. Moving forward. It has picked up and left my mother in the past. And I’m paralyzed.

“I don’t know.” He’s quiet for a moment. “I guess it’s supposed to feel like how ugly looks maybe.”

I laugh because I picture Ryan as ugly, and I just can’t with his skin that looks like the color of caramel, eyes the color of the Atlantic, short dark brown hair, and a long, lean body that is always ready, willing, and able.

I want to tell him I’m sorry his mother left. Before Ryan could walk, his father had just come home from a two-week sea trip, and his mother bent down, kissed him good-bye, and never came back. According to Ryan.

I suppose he knows what ugly feels like. I suppose he knows what it’s like to have his life turned upside down, twisted, knotted, nasty.

“People are shitty,” I say.

“Yeah. People are shitty.”

We both stare up at the bright blue sky and look for our mothers. We see the sadness, life’s imperfections as the clouds float by. We take heed in the fact that life would just be easier if we didn’t get so attached, if we didn’t become loved, if we didn’t give love. Because, in the end, this ache in our hearts wouldn’t hurt so bad.

I feel Ryan’s eyes on me, but I continue to stare at the deformed elephant that drifts past me.

“One day, this all won’t hurt so much, Violet,” he whispers. And, when he calls me this, the stinging of my eyes begins.

 

About the Author:

J. Lynn Bailey has loved to write since she learned to read, around the second grade. When she isn’t running after her children, watching COPS, or on the hunt for her next Laffy Taffy joke, you can probably find her holed up in her writing room feverishly working on her next book. She lives in Northern California with her family.

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Review: Block Shot by Kennedy Ryan

BlockShotBTBanner

“Kennedy Ryan’s writing continues to amaze and inspire. She is a genius wordsmith and a prose poet. And in Banner Morales, she has created the perfect heroine for this day and age. Don’t miss this read. It’s everything.” — Emma Scott, Bestselling Author

Block Shot, Kennedy Ryan’s enemies-to-lovers, second-chance standalone romance is LIVE and FREE in Kindle Unlimited!

*** Read my 5 Star Review Here ***

 

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JARED

If I had a dollar for every time Banner Morales made my heart skip a beat…

The heart everyone assumes is frozen over.

Her anger is…arousing.

Every glare from those fire-spitting eyes, every time she grits her teeth,

gets me…well, you know.

If I had a dollar for every time she’s put me in my place, I’d be an even richer man.

I’m a successful sports agent because I assume “no” means you’ll think about it.

I’m sure what you meant to say is “Coming right up.”

They say even rich men don’t always get what they want,

but those men don’t know how to play the game. The trick is to keep them guessing.

Take Banner. She assumes she’s winning, but this game?

She doesn’t even know how to play.

BANNER

If I had a dollar for every time Jared Foster broke my heart, I’d have exactly one dollar.

One night. One epic fail. One dollar…and I’m out.

I’ve moved on.

I’ve found success in a field ruled by men.

Anything they can do, I have done better.

They can keep the field while I call the shots, blocking them when I have to.

And Jared has the nerve to think he gets a second chance?

Boy, please. Go sit down. Have several seats.

I’ll just be over here ignoring the man carved from my fantasies with a lust-tipped chisel.

Oh, I didn’t say the struggle wasn’t real.

But I’ve got that one dollar, and Jared won’t have me.

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Download your copy today or read FREE in Kindle Unlimited!

*Special release price $2.99! Price goes up soon!

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Excerpt:

I stretch my arm toward the wall and turn out the lights.

With the light snuffed out, my other senses rise, hunting for her in the dark. The smell of her hair and her quick, shallow breaths. My sight adjusts until the heavy black curtain completely obscuring her fades to gray. Light from the outer room spills under the door, revealing just the shape, the outline of her, but still camouflaging details. I cup her cheek, taking a moment to appreciate the softness of her skin, the silky hair brushing my knuckles. I’m not an idiot. She wants the lights out because she’s self-conscious, but from my perspective, she has nothing to be ashamed of.

“I think you’re beautiful, Ban.”

“You do?” she asks, her voice hushed.

My words surprise me as much as they seem to surprise her, because I don’t say shit like that to girls. The prettiest ones usually seem to already know, which makes any admiration I’d express redundant. But Banner . . . she’s so beautiful, and I’m not sure she knows.

“I do.” I push the hair away from her face.

“Uh . . . thank you.” Her laugh isn’t much more than a breath. “The lights are out, so I’m not sure that compliment counts.”

“I know your face by heart. You have seven freckles here.” I swipe a finger over the straight bridge of her nose and drift down to caress her full lips and the tiny dent in her cheek her smile displays. “And a dimple right here.”

I explore the smooth skin of her nape, under a heavy fall of hair.

“Now I want to know your body, too,” I say softly. “Take off your clothes for me, Banner.”

After a sharply indrawn breath, she raises her arms. The rustle of her clothes—the sweatshirt, jeans, socks, shoes—being discarded whisper in the dark. I approximate her by touch, reaching for her arms and closing my fingers around the softness, the velvety skin. I lower my head and run my nose along her neck, discovering.

“You always smell so good.” I’ve wanted to tell her that since the first night we studied here.

“Pretty Pastel,” she replies, her laugh low, nervous.

“What?” I pause.

“The smell. It’s my dryer sheets. The scent is Pretty Pastel.”

“I like it.” I resume my exploration, running a palm over her shoulder, her collarbone until I find the soft, full weight of her breasts, testing them in my hands, cupping them, holding them, brushing the nipples with my thumbs until they pebble and her breaths come harshly.

“You like that?” I ask.

I see her head nod in the semi-darkness. “Yeah. It feels good.”

Her touch startles me in the best way, her hand finding my face, traveling over my mouth, eyes, and hair. I sense her approach, feel tiny pants of breath on my lips, and anticipation has me panting, too, shortens my breath and sharpens my senses. Her mouth seeks mine, eager and sweet when she kisses me. Her pleasure, her excitement matches, answers, fans mine.

I guide her back down to the couch, and with a hand at her shoulder, urge her to stretch out. I’d shave points off my GPA for a glimpse of her, but she doesn’t want that. I get it, so I settle for a taste.

BLOCK SHOT Spotify Playlist: http://bit.ly/BlockShotSpotify

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About Kennedy

A Top 30 Amazon Bestseller, Kennedy Ryan writes about women from all walks of life, empowering them and placing them firmly at the center of each story and in charge of their own destinies. Her heroes respect, cherish and lose their minds for the women who capture their hearts.

She is a wife to her lifetime lover and mother to an extraordinary son. She has always leveraged her journalism background to write for charity and non-profit organizations, but enjoys writing to raise Autism awareness most. A contributor for Modern Mom Magazine and Frolic, Kennedy’s writings have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul, USA Today and many others. The founder and executive director of a foundation serving Atlanta Autism families, she has appeared on Headline News, Montel Williams, NPR and other media outlets as an advocate for families living with autism.

Kennedy Ryan

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New Release: When Light Leads to You by C.R. Ellis

Today C.R. Ellis is here today to share her new release, WHEN LIGHT LEADS TO YOU! Check it out and be sure to grab your copy today!

Title: WHEN LIGHT LEADS TO YOU

Author: C.R. Ellis

Genre: Contemporary Romance

About WHEN LIGHT LEADS TO YOU:

JASMINE

Once upon a time, there was a girl who had a crush on a boy. Eventually, they fell in love. They lived happily ever after.

Except they didn’t. Not even close.

I’m the girl, but that’s not my story.

Once upon a time, I fell for a boy, but we didn’t have a happily ever after. In fact, we crashed and burned. Which turned out to be for the best because it forced me to grow up and realize the only wedding bells in my future are the ones I orchestrate for clients.

For six years I’ve been perfectly content with meaningless, short-lived flings and running from anything that resembles a real relationship.

That boy?

He’s my best friend’s brother, and he’s no longer the boy I fell for—he’s a man I can’t stand.

Oh, and he’s also my new neighbor.

DEAN

Seemingly overnight, Jasmine Winters went from being my sister’s best friend to being the girl I couldn’t get enough of. But like most good things, it didn’t last.

Things fell apart so suddenly, I’m able to convince myself that summer never happened. At least, I was, until the only distance between us is a hallway instead of a time zone.

Six years ago, I let Jasmine slip through my fingers without an explanation because I was convinced we’d be better off apart. But now that we’re neighbors, our unspoken vow of apathy has unwittingly been shattered. Our exchanges consist of trading insults and icy stare downs. But in-between, I catch glimpses of the way she used to look at me, glimpses of the girl I fell for years ago.

Things are different now, though. This time… I won’t let her walk away without giving me answers.

When Light Leads to You is the second full-length novel of the Forget Me Knot series, but can be read as a standalone. **Due to strong language and the sexy times between these two, this book is recommended to readers ages 18 and up.**

*** READ MY 5 STAR REVIEW HERE ***

Get Your Copy Today!

Read WHY STARS CHASE THE SUN!

 

Exclusive Excerpt:

Somehow, I didn’t feel an inkling of a hangover. In fact, I wasn’t even sleepy. My eyes had adjusted to the darkness enough to make out Dean’s toned, bulky figure. Studying the gorgeous man next to me was enough to clear the last traces of sleepiness from my brain. I scooted closer to Dean, planning to subtly wake him.

By any means necessary.

My fingers trailed down his abdomen and traced figure eights on the soft skin in the crevice created by the perfect V-shape extending from his boxers.

I leaned into his body and ran my tongue along his neck.

“Did you just lick me?” he asked, his voice groggy as he stirred awake.

“Maybe.”

“Why?”

“Just checking to see if you taste like seduction, too,” I responded with a grin.

He laughed. “And? What’s the verdict?”

I launched my body on top of his, peppering his neck with quick kisses.

“So…that’s a yes, then?”

“Shut up and kiss me, you cocky idiot,” I said, pressing my hips into his.

“There’s the morning Jasmine charm I was expecting.”

I laughed into our kiss, but it was short-lived when he lifted his hands and cupped my face, holding me in place so he could keep our kiss going. When Dean kissed me, I didn’t see stars. I saw red. I felt colors the same way some people felt sparks. It was a strange way to describe the emotions rushing through me, but it’s the only thing that felt remotely accurate. It was the closest thing to complete happiness I’d ever felt.

Without warning, he moved his hands down and gripped my torso, rolling us over so that he’d be on top of me. “How’re you feeling? How foggy is your memory of last night?” he asked.

“Never felt better. And, drunk or not, my memory’s a steel trap, baby. It’s all there. Are we really doing this?”

“Oh, we’re doing this. Right here, in my bed,” he answered between kisses against my throat.

I chuckled to cover up the shiver his lips sent racing through me. “Well, yeah, I know we’re doing that. But I meant—”

He cut me off with a kiss. “I know what you meant. That answer is the same. We’re doing all of it, Jas. No bullshit. No regrets this time.”

“No regrets,” I echoed.

Dean pushed back on his forearms to pull his knees up and straddle me. I ran my hands over his abs before reaching for my favorite part of him, and he reached for the hem of my shirt, gripping it tightly in both hands.

Instead of pulling it over my head, he swiftly ripped it all the way down the middle until it was wide open.

Holy shit.

It was unquestionably the hottest thing I’d ever seen.

Without missing a beat, he dropped down to focus all his attention on my tits. Like he hadn’t just shredded a shirt with his bare hands.

“You…just…ripped your own shirt,” I stated breathily, weaving my fingers through his hair to pull him back. I didn’t even care that I was practically panting. I’d never been more turned on in my life.

“I have others,” he said, leaning forward to trail kisses across my collar bone. “What I don’t have right now is patience.”

 

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About C.R. Ellis:

C.R. Ellis is a Texas native who writes contemporary romance novels with plenty of drama and humor, and just enough heat to ignite e-readers and paperbacks everywhere. She can almost always be found attached to her laptop with coffee nearby and her two trusty canine sidekicks by her side. When she’s not writing or plotting, she enjoys going to concerts with her sweet husband, dragging him along to see rom-coms at any theater that serves booze, checking off the next destination on her ever-growing travel bucket list, and trying new recipes.

 

Her passion for writing stems from her lifelong love of reading, and she often binge-reads entire books in a day. She’s an unapologetic book hoarder, and her paperback collection is rivaled only by her massive shoe collection.

Connect with C.R. Ellis

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