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Synopsis

According to the Oxford Dictionary, the definition of dance [da:ns] is “to move rhythmically to music, typically following a set sequence of steps.” Technically, that’s true, but dance is so much more. What the dictionary doesn’t mention is that the movement comes from within you, from the very depths of your soul, that place that holds all your hopes and fears, all your loves and losses. Dance is a form of expression, of all the emotions that make us who we are.

Jasmine Wilkinson

I’ve finally made it … only six years later than expected.

New York promises to be the experience of a lifetime, and if I’m lucky enough, a chance to dance on Broadway and fulfil a lifelong desire.

After graduating from Boston Conservatory, I’d intended to meet the love of my life, Baxter Sampson, in the city that never sleeps, and share the rest of my life with him. But sometimes dreams don’t go as planned, and we have to make new ones. I know Bax would have made it big; he was such a phenomenal dancer. I wish I could have been there to see it happen, but I can’t wait to catch a Broadway show and see his name in lights.

Maybe he’ll still remember me.

Baxter Sampson

Eight years in New York have all but stolen my dreams from me.

After years of auditioning for every contemporary ballet production in New York, I had to admit defeat. I wasn’t good enough to make it on Broadway. I wasn’t good enough for Jasmine, the only girl I’ve ever loved, to keep her promise and meet me here after she graduated six years ago. So my plans changed—they had to. But when there’s an inexplicable force driving you to perform, you have to catch the spotlight wherever you can, even if it’s in the last place you expected to find it. My life had always revolved around Jaz and dance, my two true passions. I’ve already lost one—I can’t lose the other.

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AboutTheAuthor

Lisa Edward is the author of The Songbird trilogy, the novella Duty of Care and a contributor to the collation of short stories in Hook & Ladder 69. While Lisa has called Melbourne Australia home for her entire life, she has lived and worked in England, and travelled through most parts of Europe and the United States. She loves nothing more than spending time with her beautiful daughter, or curling up into the early hours of the morning with a great novel. By day, Lisa works in the analytical IT field, so relishes the opportunity to foster her creative side through writing. Her deep appreciation for literature was nurtured from a young age, being taught to respect books and get lost in their stories. She enjoys reading honest and realistic novels that are relatable, thought provoking and leave a lasting impression. She can’t write without music playing, using the emotions from different songs to invoke those of her characters. Lisa takes inspiration from her own life experiences, the people around her and those she has met in her travels.

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Eden Bradley- Master, The Training House

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Synopsis

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Eden Bradley, the stunning conclusion of The Training House Series!

It’s the ultimate surrender…but can the Master truly become the slave?

I am no longer the Master, but simply Damon. I am reeling with shock. Love. The urgent desire to please the only man who could ever Master me—the wickedly beautiful Christopher. I know this because he once belonged to me. How do I cope with this unexpected, yet inevitable turn of events? How can I give myself over in the way a slave must? Perhaps because I must in order to have him. And it is the only way to be with our sweet Aimée.

She is our love, and her heart belongs to us both. My new Master claims to love me, but I doubt him. Even more, I doubt myself. I must find a way, and the path leads me there only through complete and utter submission, subjugation, handing over my soul. If I fail, I lose them both. A more cruel torture has never been devised. My heart breaks already, and it’s only just begun.

*

THE TRAINING HOUSE Series is Eden’s hardest-core BDSM yet! More ‘erotica’ than ‘erotic romance’, there will nevertheless be a love story woven throughout these very kinky pages.

WARNING: These books contains material that may be difficult to read about and/or cause triggers for some readers, including consensual non-consent and other scenes that could be disturbing. Do NOT try this at home!

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Excerpt

My beautiful Christopher stands naked before me, glaring as if he would kill me.
Is it wrong that I’m half hoping he’ll try? Nothing would give me greater pleasure at the moment than forcibly reminding him where he belongs. With me. To me.
I take a step forward. “Christopher, you need to calm down and—”
“No! Just fucking no.” He’s raised his hands in front of him, one curled into a tight fist.
My own hands twitch in response, but I slide them into the pockets of my slacks and run my gaze coolly over Christopher’s magnificent physique. His golden skin and high cheekbones are flushed, the amber lion eyes that are a gift of his combined Japanese, Cherokee and English heritage glittering dangerously—a dangerous animal in nothing but rage and bare skin.
“No? After what you’ve done, that’s all you have to say to me?”
“Oh, I have plenty more to say.”
I’ve ignored Aimée so far, but now I focus on her with every bit of detachment I can muster. She’s sitting up on the bed behind him, clutching the sheet to her perfect breasts as she watches the drama unfolding between Christopher and me. The fear in her crystalline green eyes and the tears sliding down her porcelain cheeks are gratifying—I do love a slave’s tears—but they also wound me in a way that makes my chest go tight and my hands clench into fists in my pockets.
I make myself turn from her and raise a brow at Christopher. “Is that so?”
“Fuck right,” he snarls. “To start with, there will not be any ordering me back—ordering us back. No cleverly devised punishments for my infractions, and sure as hell not for hers. I know damn well what I’m guilty of. But the thing is, Damon, I am done. Done with the slave bullshit.” He pauses, wiping his lush mouth with the back of his hand. “Fuck. It’s not bullshit. I know that. But I can’t do it anymore.”
“That’s fortunate, because neither can I,” I tell him, grinding my jaw against the anger I must keep under control. I am every bit as enraged as he is, for once. “Certainly not the way it’s been in the past.”
“Why the hell are you here, anyway?” he demands. “I’ve always come and gone as I pleased, contract or not. It’s our little dance, isn’t it? One we’ve been doing for four years. You’ve never come after me before.”
“You never took her with you before.”
His golden eyes gleam with dark fire as he takes a step toward me. “So this is about Aimée?”
“You know better than that,” I say flatly, fighting the urge to step back. I don’t like that he thinks he can intimidate me, and I like even less that he actually can. But I have to admit it’s also hot as hell. He’s absolutely gorgeous in all his lithe feline menace, which only infuriates me more. “Aimée is not the only different element this time. You and I both know it. But the fact that you would take another slave out of my House, that you would be party to her running out on her contract…it’s beneath you, Christopher.”
“God damn it, Damon. I left because I had to take her with me.”

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New York Times & USA Today Bestselling and award-winning author Eden Bradley aka Eve Berlin writes dark, edgy erotic fiction. Her work has been called ‘elegant, intelligent and sensual’. Her debut novel, THE DARK GARDEN, has been praised as ‘a masterpiece’, and was a Romantic Times Top Pick. Her novels and novellas have been translated into German, Romanian, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Polish and Japanese.

As someone who has been involved in BDSM practice for much of her adult life, she relates in particular to her kink stories, infusing them with her own truth about kink practice from her life experiences. Eden speaks regularly on BDSM psychology and practice, as well as sex positive culture for women.

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Madison Street- Little Temptations

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Author Note: This can be read as a stand alone; however, it is recommended to read prior novels first.

I’m an asshole; I know it, and I’ve never pretended to be anything else. I have a crazy flip switch temper but it made me the man I am today. I’m at the top of my game, a fighter with a reputation of a battler in the ring and an alpha in the bedroom.

I don’t have to chase women; they chase me. When I’m done with them, they’re left craving more. I’ve never needed more – never wanted more.

Until…her.

I’ve never wanted anyone so badly before, but my attraction to her could kill her.

Is the temptation worth the risk?

****Warning: This book contains strong sexual content, violence, and foul language. Intended for ages 18 and over. *****

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Madison Street was born in New York City and was raised in the Bronx, where she resided until she was 17 years old. After 9/11, Madison joined the United States Navy to serve her country.

During the deployments, Madison constantly wrote short stories and she discovered her passion for writing. You will find Madison always on the computer, whether she’s on Facebook, designing websites, messing with Photoshop, or writing for her blog.

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MariaLisa Demora- Twisted Pain

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Synopsis

Legends are born from moments like these. Folktales spun around a single point in time so perfect, you can almost hear the click resonating through the universe as things align.

George Bell, aka Twisted, knows the odds are against him. Have been all his life. Born in a Louisiana bordello, raised around the rough and rowdy men of a motorcycle club, he’s never been the lucky type. But he believes luck can change, so when fate gives him a glimpse of breathtaking beauty, he’s more than willing to roll the dice. Chancing upon what could be the woman of his dreams, he’s prepared to push this streak as far as he can.

Penny Dane’s background gives her an edge in the life she’s chosen to lead. Raised in a can-do family, she’s resilient, rolling with life’s punches and landing on her feet. But, when the past holds painful secrets—when a single misstep can turn deadly—can she trust the passion this man stirs in her?

On the surface, Bell and Penny don’t work. Their mismatched worlds are too different. But like a backwater bayou, what you see is not the whole story, there are mysteries buried underneath. Penny is the red-haired beauty caught up in a web of lies. Bell is like no one she’s ever met before. The problem is, he knows it.

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Excerpt

Tossing his cards onto the pile of cash and markers on the table, Po’Boy laughed when he said, “I’m out, brother. You either got the best hand in the world, or the worst, and I can’t fuckin’ tell. Either way, I’m fucked, so I’m out.”

Twisted smirked, his head tipping back, teasingly flashing his cards. “Wanna see my hand, brother?”

“Fuck no.” Po’Boy pushed the pile of winnings across the table towards Twisted, laughing harder when some of the money and papers fluttered to the floor. “You’re a rat bastard, you know that?”

“Yeah,” Twisted said fondly, pausing in his efforts to scrape things together. “Ralph,” he said, hoping the other man understood the emotion behind his words, “fucking pleased you chose to come on this journey with me, brother.”

Ralph Lewis, Po’Boy, shook his head. “Wouldn’t have it any other way, George.”

Nearly seven years ago, Papaw had come to the whorehouse and torn the blinders off George’s eyes, forcing him to see the layers of wrongness that surrounded him. How his mother didn’t take the part a parent should, not protecting him from anything. Loved him in her way, but her way was so far off the beaten track, sane folks couldn’t see her from where they stood.

He and his grandfather had tried several times to pull Freddy out of the mess at the whorehouse, but his younger brother was resistant. And, even from the outside, it was clear that his life was very different than what George had experienced. The favored son, Freddy had cars and flash to toss around, money earned by the women of the house on their knees and backs, and him uncaring. Using and spending, and going back to the well for more.

At eighteen, George had patched into the club as a prospect, proud as fuck of the emblem on his back from day one. It had taken him the two intervening years to convince his grandfather he knew what he wanted. Two years of listening to stories about the brotherhood until the desire to belong was like a living thing in his gut. Two years of seeing how each man supported the whole and wanting to have that even more than he wanted to breathe. Two years of preparing and training for that moment when he would finally belong.

Prospect patch pinned into place by Whitewall, his grandfather’s second and the vice-president of the club, George was warned from the get-go that his path would be harder than any other prospect because no member would be willing to give an inch just because of who he was. It had been a fucking miserable ten months, but he’d done it. Done everything asked. Clubhouse cleanup after parties, scrubbing up puke and piss, and worse. Done to breed deep respect for the house, not tasked as punishment and he got that, an understanding that helped to lighten the load.

Each thing asked of him he approached the same way, twisting it in his head until he could see the good. He became whatever his brothers needed. If a member needed someone to ride in the back of a truck to help hold a bike upright, George was your man. In the rain. During a thunderstorm. With a leaky bucket of mudbugs beside his ass. It didn’t matter. None of it mattered, because George would be there. Doing it not to brown-nose, but because it showed he had that member’s back in anything. Wanting the brotherhood that came right alongside the responsibility to assist wherever possible.

Incoherent’s normal prospect period was a year and a day, with that last day promised to be hell on earth. Papaw pushed for the full time served, but his own officers overruled him, making it their choice to bring George into the fold early. George hadn’t understood what was up when Whitewall had called him into the big room behind the bar during what should have been an officers-only meeting.

The room was huge. Vaulted ceilings lifted overhead, no rooms above so less chance of listening ears. The high ceilings meant they had room to install fans in here, and had, George balancing at the top of a wobbly ladder while wielding an electric drill and screwdriver. Comfort for the people in the room meant they could spend less time thinking about the heat, and more time applied to solving problems and issues within the club. A willing service, from him to the patch holders, flesh dues paid eagerly.

Whitewall called him in, but didn’t give him a reason or a task, so George waited, standing alongside the door, shoulders to the wall, trying hard to ignore the arguments flowing back and forth across the table. Highest ranking members at the national level, the men were discussing the merits of raising their member dues. As someone voiced an especially lame argument for the increase, George couldn’t help the shifting expression on his face. Startled when his Papaw barked his name, he ripped his gaze from the floor in front of his boots to lock onto the old man’s face.

“George. You got somewhat to say, boy?”

About the Author

Raised in the south, MariaLisa learned about the magic of books at an early age. Every summer, she would spend hours in the local library, devouring books of every genre. Self-described as a book-a-holic, she says “I’ve always loved to read, but then I discovered writing, and found I adored that, too. For reading … if nothing else is available, I’ve been known to read the back of the cereal box.”

A hockey fan, hiker, gamer, and single mom of a special needs son, she embraces her inner geek and has been working in the tech field for a publishing company for a couple decades.

Music is a driving passion, and she says, “I love music of nearly any genre — jazz, country, rock, alt rock, metal, classical, bluegrass, rap, hip hop … you name it, I listen to it. I can often be seen dancing through the house in the early mornings. But I really, REALLY love live music. My favorite thing with music is seeing bands in small, dive bars [read: small, intimate venues]. If said bar [venue] has a good selection of premium tequila, then that’s a plus!”

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CJ Martin- Off Key, A Wreckless Abandon Novel

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One Agreement. Two friends. Three Rules.

No one gets hurt…

Brandon Kresge has it all. A hot music career. An even hotter body. And tons of adoring fans willing to…yeah. By all appearances his life is perfect. But appearances aren’t always what they seem.

Years of experience have made him skilled at hiding the truth. From the media. From his friends. From his band mates. But all that changes when he meets her. She breaks down every one of his barriers and leaves him stripped bare.

Brynn Richer doesn’t have her life figured out, but then again, how many twenty-three-year-olds do? All she wants is to dance, a decision her mother is adamantly against. But despite the cards being stacked against her, she moves to New York City to pursue her passion. One crazy decision causes her path to intersect with the sexy, troubled lead singer of Wreckless Abandon. She knows this man will break her, knows she should steer clear of him, but she’s powerless to resist him.

What happens when lines between friendship and love are blurred? What happens when rules are broken and they are forced to choose? Can they work through their struggles to find their happily ever after or are some things too hurtful, too damaged to be fixed?

This is a standalone novel with an HEA. It contains mature themes, strong language and sexual situations, and is intended for mature readers.

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CJ Martín lives in Pennsylvania with her wonderful husband and her adorable (sometimes infuriating) dog, Albert. She is an avid reader and has been known to spend her days ignoring her responsibilities while engrossed in a good book. She enjoys traveling and yoga.

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Shirleen Davies – Brodie’s Gamble

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Brodie’s Gamble, Book Two, MacLarens of Boundary Mountain Historical Western Romance Series

“Every book of Shirleen’s never fails to draw me in and make it impossible to put down until I devour it!”

Brodie MacLaren has a dream. He yearns to wear the star—bring the guilty to justice and protect those who are innocent. In his mind, guilty means guilty, even when it includes a beautiful woman who sets his body on edge.

Maggie King lives a nightmare, wanting nothing more than to survive each day and recapture the life stolen from her. Each day she wakes and prays for escape. Taking the one chance she may ever have, Maggie lashes out, unprepared for the rising panic as the man people believe to be her husband lies motionless at her feet.

Deciding innocence and guilt isn’t his job.

Brodie’s orderly, black and white world spins as her story of kidnapping and abuse unfold. The fact nothing adds up as well as his growing attraction to Maggie cause doubts the stoic lawman can’t afford to embrace.

Can a lifetime of believing in absolute right and wrong change in a heartbeat?

Maggie has traded one form of captivity for another. Thoughts of escape consume her, even as feelings for the handsome, unyielding lawman grow.

As events unfold, Brodie must fight more than his attraction. Someone is after Maggie—a real threat who is out to silence her.

He’s challenged on all fronts—until he takes a gamble that could change his life or destroy his heart.

Brodie’s Gamble, book two in the MacLarens of Boundary Mountain historical western romance series, is a full-length novel with an HEA.

~~~Excerpt~~~

“How old were you when you met Stoddard?” He hadn’t meant to ask the question, didn’t need to know more about her than he already did. Maggie’s age didn’t matter. It only mattered that he held her as a suspect in a murder.

“Eighteen. I’m twenty now.” She spoke with a staid calmness, as if detached, speaking of someone else. “I wish I could tell you the time flew by, but that would be a lie.” This time, her voice held the bitterness he expected. Closing her eyes to still the moisture beginning to pool, she sucked in a deep breath.

He didn’t know what triggered his quick response—her shaky voice, the tremble of her body, or the tears she couldn’t hide—but he reached out, wrapping his arms around her and drawing her close. Splaying his hands across her back, he rested his chin on top of her head as she settled her cheek against his chest.

“Shhh, lass. He can no longer hurt you.” Brodie’s heart pounded, his chest tightening at the same time he tried to provide her comfort. He couldn’t imagine the horrors she’d been through. If Arnie weren’t already dead, it would’ve taken all the strength Brodie possessed to not kill the man himself. Feeling the tears soak through his shirt, he drew back, lifting her chin with a finger.

“You must try to believe it will be all right, Maggie.”

Her glassy blue eyes stared up at him as the faintest sliver of hope crossed her face. A hope he could encourage or dash with a rash word or careless gesture.

“Do you truly think it will work out for me?”

Brodie didn’t know what more to say. Instead, he did the most foolish thing imaginable. Lowering his head, he brushed a gentle kiss across her lips, feeling her tense, then relax against him. He kissed her again, losing himself in the taste and feel of her.

Awareness of the colossal mistake he was making sliced through Brodie an instant before he tightened his hold, fitting Maggie snuggly to his body, his lips pressed against hers, claiming her mouth with fierce desire.

Her heart thundered and stomach churned as Brodie continued his gentle assault. The warmth of his body, the hardness of his chest and muscled arms sheltered her at the same time heat ripped through her, as if she were engulfed in a circle of flames.

Brodie couldn’t get her close enough. He wanted to lift her into his arms, carry her to his bed, and lay her down. Kiss every inch of her body, caress…

He pulled back, his abrupt departure causing her to whimper as she buried her face against his throat. They had to stop. He had to stop. The madness, which gripped him moments before, gave way to guilt and self-loathing. How could he have surrendered so completely to the charms of one woman? A woman who’d done nothing except look to him for help?

Setting her aside, he straightened, steeling his features. “We need to go back.” He could see the slight shiver of her body as she swayed toward him. “Now, Miss King. You need to get back in your cell, and I need to get back to my work.”

The hurt in her eyes did nothing to dispel the remorse he felt. He’d crossed a line, and he could blame it on no one except himself.

 

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Shirleen Davies writes romance—historical, contemporary, and romantic suspense. She grew up in Southern California, attended Oregon State University, and has degrees from San Diego State University and the University of Maryland. During the day she provides consulting services to small and mid-sized businesses. But her real passion is writing emotionally charged stories of flawed people who find redemption through love and acceptance.  She now lives with her husband in a beautiful town in northern Arizona.

 

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Nhys Glover- Greyworld :The Anomaly

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Don’t believe what they tell you in movies and on TV; ghosts don’t haunt people. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there’s no such thing as ghosts, I’m just saying they don’t haunt living people – because basically they don’t know we’re here.

How do I know that? Because I can see them. I have since I was a little kid. But I didn’t have a grandmother who taught me how to help people move on, or Bruce Willis as my ghost shrink. Nope, I just got to stand around like a zombie staring at people nobody else could see, wondering if it was me or the rest of the world who was crazy.

Then, just when I’d worked out what my version of ‘normal’ was, and was content with it, Jake came along – the anomaly – the Grey who didn’t play by the rules. What was worse, he couldn’t be just any old Grey, could he? Oh no, he had to be the most gorgeous guy I’d ever laid eyes on, living or dead. And he was set on rocking my world, whether I liked it or not.

~~~Excerpt~~~

“What do I look like to you? I assume there’s some reason you think I’m a ghost,” her voice went up at the end as a question, and her pale eyebrows lifted too. Was she making fun of me?

I decided two could play at that game. “Is this where I’m supposed to say you’re pretty?”

She laughed and shook her head. “I’m not my sister. I have no illusions about my looks. And if you said I was pretty I wouldn’t believe you. So, no. I want to know why you call me a ghost.”

I sobered up and decided to address the elephant in the park directly. “I can see through you. You aren’t solid and colourful like the rest of us. Like the tree behind us.” I hated to break it to her. After all, she said she wasn’t dead, and yet she obviously was. How was someone supposed to break something like that to a ghost?

She looked at her own hand, as if trying to see it as I did. Of course, she wouldn’t.

“It’s okay. You can go to the Light or whatever. They say it’s great on the other side,” I found myself muttering stupidly. Crap, this was not as easy as it seemed on TV.

She looked up at me, her eyes filled with compassion and empathy. “So they say. Do you want to know what I see when I look at you?”

I hadn’t thought about that. Wouldn’t she see me like the rest of the people around us? I mean, we’re the living, after all.

Her eyes became even more sympathetic and I began to feel like an idiot who was missing the point somehow. I could see she was fighting not to reach out and comfort me with a touch.

“You’re transparent to me, too. I call you Greys. And there aren’t fifty shades of you. You’re all just one transparent grey.”

It was my turn to look at my hand. It was as solid as it always was. Maybe she was just saying that to get even with me for breaking the news to her so badly?

“I’m as solid as those people sitting over there,” I nodded with my head to the three co-eds and one guy sitting on the grass no more than ten feet away. Already they’d looked my way a couple of times, clearly wondering who I was talking to.

“There’s nobody there. I can see two guys about to sit down to our right. But it’s too cold for most people to be out today. Spring seems to have deserted us.”

“It’s not spring. It’s September and this is an Indian summer,” I choked out. Things were deteriorating fast. She must have died in spring and was stuck in that time forever. Always chilly, never to enjoy the pleasures of summer again.

For a moment she just stared at me. That’s when it hit me. She thought I was dead. She thought I was the ghost. This was getting seriously screwed up.

 
~~MY REVIEW~~
3 stars

Greyworld is a testament to the power of a good ending. This book started off rocky, the first chapter was too erratic for my tastes and the second chapter repeated the first—but with an admittedly better flow. I won’t lie, I struggled to get into this story. After the fourth chapter, I put it down and almost didn’t pick it back up. I’m glad I did, though. While there were parts of this book I only skimmed, the middle picked up greatly. By the time I was three-quarters of the way through, I was attached to the characters and getting emotional on their behalf.

The premise was interesting to me. A girl sees ghosts, meets a boys who never used to see ghosts. They each think the other is a ghost. Who is right? I kept reading this book just to find out if the female MC, Beth, was dead, and I was happy with how the author resolved things. If you can stick through the beginning, I think you’ll find a decent story in there. I give it 3 stars.

~~~



nhysAfter a lifetime of teaching others to appreciate the written word, Aussie author Nhys Glover finally decided to make the most of the Indie Book Revolution to get her own written word out to the world. Now, with more than 100,000 of her ebooks downloaded internationally and a winner of 2013 SFR Galaxy Award for ‘The Titan Drowns’, Nhys finds her words, too, are being appreciated. Living in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales of England, Nhys these days spends most of her time “living the dream” by looking out over the moors from her window as she writes the kind of novels she loves to read. The ones that are a little bit different and wholly romantic.

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Heather Knight- The Other Brother

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A political marriage to the young brother of the famous General Barry, a leader known his ruthless brutality, is the last thing nineteen year-old Bianca Mason wants. But an alliance with these men will keep her father’s citizens safe from the endless Barry raids and be another step toward the return of modern civilization. Unfortunately, Bianca puts the entire treaty in jeopardy when she confesses a traumatic personal secret to her intended groom, and he refuses the marriage. Desperate to keep the peace, she gratefully accepts when another brother steps in to take his place.

Kent, the other Barry brother, is known for his strong leadership ability, fair treatment of his troops, and brilliant military strategy. He is also a known for his burn-scarred face and his reputation as a sadist. When confronted with the disintegration of a much-needed treaty, he grudgingly steps in and marries Bianca, a girl traumatized by long-ago assault who doesn’t like to be touched.

Kent must teach Bianca, as only he can, how to surrender herself fully, trust in him completely, and become the woman he needs. Only then can they both find happiness.

This dark romance novel contains mature situations and sensitive subject matter, and contains triggers some readers may find discomforting. It is a work of fiction and is intended for adult readers 18 and older.

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CHAPTER ONE

SEPTEMBER 14, YEAR 03, (Four Years after the Ash)

“I don’t know if we should get married.”

“I understand.” Colonel Kent Barry clenches his hands into fists and looks out the window. The right side of his face flushes, and the mottled burn scars on the left side of his face pull the corner of his mouth down slightly. “I am not an attractive man.”

My heart sinks. “You think I mean your scars. It’s not that at all.”

“Right. Fine. Now, if we’re done here…”

Shit. “It’s not you. It’s me!”

“Jesus. Are you kidding me?” He looks like he’s going to throw me out. I clench my toes, my fingers, my face. Everything.

“No!” My face is hotter than a volcanic pit. “Your brother broke off our engagement because I told him something. It was enough for him to risk the alliance and literally flee the city. You shouldn’t have to marry me and then find out.”

His eyes flicker, and he just stands there staring at me like he expects me to continue. You don’t just throw stuff like that out there and not explain.

I shake ever so slightly, and I feel like I have bees in my stomach. I never talk about what happened. It’s too private, too hideous. But like I said, I can’t marry him without telling him first. I pick at my thumbnail and hope—pray—I don’t die from the shame. “I was fifteen. Just a couple months after Yellowstone erupted. Right when things were getting bad, you know?”

He nods curtly.

The bees in my stomach morph into hornets, and the glue that holds me together begins to crack. I fold my arms over my chest. “A gang came through our subdivision. They were looking for food, guns, stuff like that. I tried to hide, but they found me.”

“They hurt you?” He says this guardedly, like he’s afraid to say the word.

I shake harder and I want to run away, but like that day four years ago, there’s no place for me to hide. “There were five of them. They held me down and raped me.”

He swears under his breath, and I know what he’s thinking. I’m dirty.

“I don’t like to be touched,” I say before he can speak. “I don’t care how hard you try or how gentle…I’m always going to hate it. If you marry me, you’ll be stuck with someone who will never want it. So you and your brothers really need to think. Just how bad do you want this alliance?”

“So you’re saying you’re not going to…”

Startled, I look up and shake my head. “No, that’s not… I’ll do whatever you want. I wouldn’t cheat some guy out of… It’s just, I’m no bargain.”

He’s silent. I can’t tell what he’s thinking, but he’s definitely evaluating the situation. I can practically hear him tick.

“That’s why Nico broke our engagement. I told him.”

He frowns. “You’re very honest.”

What I am is a goddamn human sacrifice. “I’m never going to be happy. That’s just how it is. But other people can be. If this brings peace between the territories, I’ll do it. I’ll do whatever I have to do.”

He looks away, and I can see the no in the stretch of his neck.

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Heather Knight doesn’t go for billionaires with helicopters or country club fellas who sip Moscow Mules by the pool. She likes her men Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to know. She began reading romance when she was thirteen and apocalyptic fiction during college. She’s combined her love for the two genres in her new adult romance series, which is set shortly after a catastrophic worldwide event. Her books push the boundaries of both romance and erotica and are classified as Dark Romance.

Heather lives in the Mid-Atlantic with her own bad boy and dreams of one day leaving that snow behind forever.

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There isn’t a lot of advice about REpublishing your work.

I’ve been editing the first novels I ever released. The Psychic Trilogy is getting updated, and it’s more challenging than you would imagine.

this to that

First of all, my brain balks at having to read them over again. They were my first and I read them a hundred times each—especially Demon’s Bond, about to become Seduced in Dreams. It’s not like it’s my favorite story, I will admit. But it is, hands down, the book I’ve read most often in my life. That’s hard. Let me be honest about that—I don’t want to read it ever again.

But I am. I am reading it, and wincing…and impressing myself. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing back then. I wrote what words came into my head then I used a thesaurus, then I changed everything back to regular words. I mean, come on…a thesaurus? How obnoxious. On the other hand, it did help me broaden my vocabulary, so it served its purpose. (Maybe I’ll write a post on the topic, one day)

I think I asked for ten reviews, and got three or four for Demon’s Bond, which isn’t actually a bad return. They were good reviews. God, for Monster’s Chains, about to become Tempted by Nightmares, I only asked for one, and I got a five star return on that. But then I stopped asking for more, I didn’t even try with Ties of Family (soon to become Enthralled with Visions), and I didn’t know how to promote (I still don’t, but I’m a little better at it. Not great, or I’d be on the NYT Bestsellers list, but better…)

There isn’t a whole lot of advice concerning updating your old books. Sure, there are plenty of posts about cleaning up the interior, or changing the cover. But new titles? I found a few places that tell you to just change them, the metadata (ie how the online bookstores present your particular URL address) will reflect the changes. Hopefully. Otherwise, there isn’t much, as if everyone was entirely happy with their first attempts at publication. Yeah, okay…unless they’re all secretly unpublishing, then putting their updated version back up.

I’ve seen posts warning authors not to unpublish then republish their updates. Some people think that means you’re gaming the system, working your old book into the new releases. So that’s another worry I’ve got on my plate. Authors always have to think about the perception of others, because others’ opinions are what sells books. I’m going to try to upload the changes, even if just to preserve my few reviews, but if things go wrong, I’ll take them off and republish, and worry about losing respect if that issue ever materializes.

prose is architecture

So what am I doing? Cleaning them up, tightening the prose. I ran across this quote—that’s right, I’m not really a Hemingway fan so I hadn’t seen it before—and it pretty much serves as my inspiration. “Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.” I went a touch overboard in the first editions, but I’m not stripping out my description entirely. I don’t write ‘stark’ I write stories you can see, stories you can fall into.

For these books, I want to keep the voice I’d started my career with. I want to honor the place I began, but I want to marry it to all that I’ve learned so far. I don’t want to change the books dramatically, there will be no drastic overhauls. The plots remain, the elements are fixed, but the prose is tighter. Hopefully, it will flow better, seem shorter. It’s always good when a book seems shorter than it is—that means you enjoyed it.

They’re not bad books, I’ll toot my own horn. Sometimes it’s hard for a writer to understand that they do, in fact, have talent. Your book could be the #1 seller in the world, and you’re still going to wonder if it’s any good. You’ll also have the added pressure of wondering if that was the peak of your career, if anything else you write can measure up. Authors live in their own strange, little paradoxical hell.

I’ve created my own hell by choosing to update, but I think it will serve me better in the long run. At least I’ll wince less, if I ever have to read these books again.  I’ve got a lot to do with my Psychic Trilogy in time for the blog tour I want to set up in late September. Just in time to promote these stories for Halloween. They are dark erotica/erotic horror, dealing with demons, monsters and ghosts. They’re hot, they’re compelling, and they’ll be updated.

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Victoria Renteria- Bound by Blood

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Captive and bound by the one person who vowed to cause her harm since her very first breath, Kylee Parker finds herself facing the demons of her past. Lost among the shadows, she struggles to maintain her sanity in hopes of surviving. In the clutches of the underground mafia, she fights to find an escape from the person who gave her life.

Alexander Grant’s sole focus has been his work: serving his country and taking down the bad guys. While leading an elite group of soldiers on a highly classified mission in South Korea, he finds himself thrust into the throes of passion with the woman who changed everything. But when danger comes calling and she is kidnapped, he must choose between his heart and his job.

Will he jeopardize the career he is bound to . . . or risk it all to save her?

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Former Director for a major corporation, Victoria has spent most of her life inside of a book. When she wasn’t reading, she was busy scribbling down stories of her own. Meeting her husband while he was in the United States Army, Victoria quickly adapted and learned the role of the military spouse.

After finishing her Business Management Degree in college, she spent years working in the corporate world where her writing quickly fell to the wayside. Finally, taking time away from the corporate world, Victoria has been able to dive into her stories and create a whole new world for you to live in.

She now resides in the sunny Tampa, Florida area with her husband, son, and two amazing boxers. When she isn’t writing, you can find her on the beach or hiking. Maybe even writing on the beach . . .

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Heather Knight- The Other Brother

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A political marriage to the young brother of the famous General Barry, a leader known his ruthless brutality, is the last thing nineteen year-old Bianca Mason wants. But an alliance with these men will keep her father’s citizens safe from the endless Barry raids and be another step toward the return of modern civilization. Unfortunately, Bianca puts the entire treaty in jeopardy when she confesses a traumatic personal secret to her intended groom, and he refuses the marriage. Desperate to keep the peace, she gratefully accepts when another brother steps in to take his place.

Kent, the other Barry brother, is known for his strong leadership ability, fair treatment of his troops, and brilliant military strategy. He is also a known for his burn-scarred face and his reputation as a sadist. When confronted with the disintegration of a much-needed treaty, he grudgingly steps in and marries Bianca, a girl traumatized by long-ago assault who doesn’t like to be touched.

Kent must teach Bianca, as only he can, how to surrender herself fully, trust in him completely, and become the woman he needs. Only then can they both find happiness.

This dark romance novel contains mature situations and sensitive subject matter, and contains triggers some readers may find discomforting. It is a work of fiction and is intended for adult readers 18 and older.

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Heather Knight doesn’t go for billionaires with helicopters or country club fellas who sip Moscow Mules by the pool. She likes her men Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to know. She began reading romance when she was thirteen and apocalyptic fiction during college. She’s combined her love for the two genres in her new adult romance series, which is set shortly after a catastrophic worldwide event. Her books push the boundaries of both romance and erotica and are classified as Dark Romance.

Heather lives in the Mid-Atlantic with her own bad boy and dreams of one day leaving that snow behind forever.

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Margo Bond Collins- Under her Skin

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Snake on Back and Shoulder of Naked Muscular Man

She’s lucky he’s a charmer…

Lindi Parker works hard at being human, not an easy task for a snake shifter. She has no desire to search for others like her—until a new case changes everything. When Lindi learns that she she’s not the only shapeshifter in the world, she also realizes she might be next on a killer’s list.

In order to save herself and the abused children she works with, she will have to team up with Dr. Kade Nevala, a member of the shifter tribe responsible for eradicating weresnakes—and the most attractive man Lindi’s ever met. Even more terrifying, she’ll need to embrace her serpent side, a choice that has enormous consequences for Lindi, and for everyone around her.

~~~~~EXCERPT~~~~~

He took a step forward, again seeming to loom over me. I leaned farther back, but I was trapped—I would either have to climb up on the bed or push my way past him. I wasn’t sure which would be better.

Then it was too late—he grabbed my upper arms and stared into my eyes. His hands burned hot against my skin. His eyes, too, glittered feverishly, golden highlights churning through the brown.

The intensity of his stare captured me. I drew in another breath, full of the scent of him, and my head swam. Again the color leached out of the room. This time, though, I couldn’t look away from him, couldn’t hide the way my eyes changed, the pupils narrowing and lengthening. The room shifted into shades of gray, and his golden eyes turned silvery as they held my own.

He inhaled sharply as he saw the transformation and his hands tightened convulsively.

“How are you here?” he whispered, shaking his head.

He pulled me closer to him, staring into my eyes. My pulse pounded in my temples. The muscles of my abdomen started to roil; I was about to shift, and I couldn’t control it.

And I might just be okay with that, some quiet, still part of my mind whispered from far away, because this man terrified me. I might have a better chance against him in my serpent form.

But something—some instinct deeper than thought—urged me to maintain my humanity.

I still couldn’t break eye contact; his gaze was hypnotic.

He leaned in and kissed me.

 

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Margo Bond Collins is addicted to coffee (mmm…caffeine) and SF/F television, especially Supernatural (mmm…Winchesters). She writes paranormal and contemporary romance, urban fantasy, and paranormal mystery. She lives in Texas with her daughter and several spoiled pets. Although she teaches college-level English courses online, writing fiction is her first love. She enjoys reading urban fantasy and paranormal fiction of any genre and spends most of her free time daydreaming about heroes, vampires, ghosts, werewolves, and the women who love (and sometimes fight) them.

 
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You want to write a Romance?

I’m not going to lie. This is about a post I saw giving some ‘basic concepts’ to writing Romance. Except what the author of the post wrote is backwards. It holds just fine if someone is writing a different story and there HAPPENS to be a romance in it, but not if you’re actually writing a romance novel. I’m not going to rehash the points made in the other post, I’m just going to offer a little wisdom on the Romance genre for those who wish to write an actual romance.

romance

The ROMANCE is the story. This is, apparently, quite a hang-up for those who don’t read or write romance. It’s nice to add outside plot elements, those can really spice your story up…but the focus is the relationship. Romance is not used to set the mood or describe the customs of your time or place. It is not there simply to raise the stakes so the hero has to rescue the heroine and the heroine can then rescue the world. Nope—the ups and downs of the relationship are the core of your story, it is the world, it is the suspense, the conflict and the resolution all wrapped into one.

Follow the tropes, and a few clichés aren’t bad either. It’s one of the few places where ‘expected outcome’ is a necessary, though you may feel free to twist other things however you please. Try not to be overly dramatic, but that’s still much better than being too subtle to feel the chemistry between the characters. If you begin with insta-love, make sure the characters FEEL it all the way through—they can have doubts about the direction of the relationship, what they truly feel and even if things can work out (etc.), but their mind should be occupied with this other person, they should agonize a bit over things. Love at first sight isn’t all that common, so if they feel it, make it special.

Erotica and romance aren’t the same thing. There is a bit of cross-over. They can be connected. They can both be present in the same story. But for the love of God, please stop confusing the two.

Finally, I will add, as so many others have, that romance and its authors take shots to the chin a lot. On the flip side, every time some author from a different genre sits down to write a romance they feel the need to then blog about how difficult it was. Yes, prepare yourself, it is difficult finding the proper balance of things, but if you keep looking at the events of your story through the prism of falling in love, you’ll stay on the right track.

Michelle Dare- The Azure Kingdom

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One key, one door, one man, one leap.

Alison Wescot inherited the antique store the day her mother died. It was nothing she wanted, but she couldn’t part with it. The antiques inside were all she had left of her mother. She thought she knew every piece in the store, until one day she discovered a box with a key inside, along with a letter from her mother. A key to a door she never knew existed.

Lucas Azure is the leader of the kingdom’s elite guard, a group of men whose sole purpose was to protect their territory and people. The youngest of the king’s four children, he was also the deadliest. The men in his group followed him faithfully, never questioning his orders. When Alison appeared, he knew he had to protect her at all costs.

The day Alison walked through the door, her recurring dream became a reality. The man who always remained a mystery was standing before her. There were dragons flying overhead and a castle in the distance. She was now in the Azure Kingdom.

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Michelle Dare is a romance author. Her stories range from sweet to sinful and from new adult to fantasy. There aren’t enough hours in the day for her to write all of the story ideas in her head. When not writing or reading, she’s a wife and mom living in eastern Pennsylvania. One day she hopes to be writing from a beach where she will never have to see snow or be cold again.

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Melissa Foster- Seaside Lovers

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Seaside Summers is a series of stand-alone romances that may also be enjoyed as part of the larger Love in Bloom series.

“You can always rely on Melissa Foster to deliver a story that’s fresh, emotional and entertaining. Make sure you have all night, because once you start you won’t want to stop reading. Every book’s a winner!” New York Times Bestselling Author Brenda Novak

“Melissa Foster is synonymous with sexy, swoony, heartfelt romance!” New York Times Bestseller Lauren Blakely

In SEASIDE LOVERS

After months of long-distance communication, actress Parker Collins and artist Grayson Lacroux finally plan to reconnect in the seaside town of Wellfleet, Massachusetts. But Parker never shows, and weeks pass without a word, leaving Grayson to believe he’s misinterpreted their budding relationship.

Parker has been running on autopilot ever since she lost her friend, mentor, and the only family she’s ever known, Bert Stein. Armed with junk food, tequila, and her big, lovable dog, she’s prepared to hole up and mourn–and determined to mend a fence Bert had never been able to with his estranged and bitter brother. But Parker didn’t count on the sinfully hot artist she’s been fantasizing about for nearly a year walking in on her grief-induced drunken night.

When Grayson stumbles across Parker, he has no idea what to make of the gorgeous blonde who blew him off despite the heat sizzling between them. But that doesn’t stop him from feeling protective of the woman who’s consumed his thoughts for months, and when he learns of Parker’s plans to confront an angry old man, he refuses to leave her side. As Parker’s past unfolds, they’re led on an unexpected journey of discovery. Their connection deepens, and late-night fantasies become passionate realities, until good intentions spark painful secrets, threatening the love they’ve found.

***

Seaside Summers is part of Melissa Foster’s bestselling Love in Bloom series. All Love in Bloom books may be enjoyed as stand-alone novels, or as part of the series.

SEASIDE SUMMERS

Seaside Dreams (Bella)

Seaside Hearts (Jenna)

Seaside Sunsets (Jamie)

Seaside Secrets (Amy)

Seaside Nights (Sky)

Seaside Embrace (Hunter)

Seaside Lovers (Grayson)

Seaside Whispers (Matt)

***

Read the complete LOVE IN BLOOM series:

SNOW SISTERS

THE BRADENS (at Weston, CO)

THE REMINGTONS

THE BRADENS (at Trusty, CO)

THE BRADENS (at Peaceful Harbor)

SEASIDE SUMMERS

WILD BOYS AFTER DARK

For a complete reading guide, family tree, checklists, and more, visit Melissa’s website.

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Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes sexy and heartwarming contemporary romance and new adult romance, contemporary women’s fiction, suspense, and historical fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Her books have been recommended by USA Today’s book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the World Literary Café and Fostering Success. When she’s not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on Fostering Success. Melissa has been published in Calgary’s Child Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Women Business Owners magazine.

Melissa hosts an Aspiring Authors contest for children and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa lives in Maryland with her family.

Visit Melissa on social media. Melissa enjoys discussing her books with book clubs and reader groups, and welcomes an invitation to your event.

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Renna Peak & Ember Casey- Leopold

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When I accidentally wished for my own Prince Charming, I never expected him to actually show up. Not here in South America–not at the crappy charity clinic where I work.

But life never is as simple as making a wish—and while Prince Leopold is definitely charming, he’s also cocky. And arrogant. And a huge playboy. He’s everything I’ve promised myself I’d stay away from.

So why can’t I seem to resist him?

There’s no way Prince Leo is actually interested in a normal girl like me. No way he’ll ever be able to overcome his womanizing ways to be the prince of my dreams. And the more time I spend with him, it’s clear he has almost as many secrets as me.

I’m only sure of one thing—if I give him what he wants, he’s going to break my heart.

This is Part One of a six-part contemporary romance serial by bestselling authors Renna Peak and Ember Casey.

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“Don’t do this,” she whispers, shaking her head.

“Do what?” I ask, my voice just as soft.

“This.”

Her hands are braced against my chest, and I’m acutely aware of every single one of her fingers. I want to tighten my arms around her. To pull her snugly against my chest and whisper soft things into her hair. I want to do other things, too—my cock is definitely responding to her nearness—but I restrain myself on all counts. The rain continues to beat down overhead, and another rumble of thunder makes the window shake.

“Why shouldn’t we do this?” I ask her softly.

I’m close enough to smell her hair, and the scent is heavenly—like summer and fresh air and something distinctly feminine. It seems unlikely that Elle wears perfume, so this scent is entirely her, and it takes every ounce of will in my body not to lean my face down and inhale deeply.

She takes a deep breath as if composing herself. If the lights were on, I’d tilt her face up toward mine so I could see the expression in her eyes—but then again, if the lights were on, she wouldn’t be in my arms now.

“I don’t do this,” she says. “And I certainly don’t do it with men like you.”

“Like me?”

“Princes,” she says. “Or with men I’ve only known for two days. I hardly know you. You hardly know me. I don’t care if you say I’m not a diversion. We’re still basically strangers. And you’re here to oversee my work, which makes you practically my boss—which makes this inappropriate.” She takes another deep breath and rushes on. “You’re also my patient—and you’ve had a head injury, which means you should be lying down.”

“Well, if you’d prefer to go back to the gurney—”

“You need to refrain from all activity. Anything that increases your heart rate is absolutely out of the question.”

I smile, though she can’t see it. “I’m afraid it’s too late for that.”

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Ember Casey

Ember Casey is a USA Today bestselling author living in Atlanta, Georgia in a den of iniquity (or so she likes to tell people). When she’s not writing steamy romances, you can find her whipping up baked goods (usually of the chocolate variety), traveling (her bucket list is infinite), or generally causing trouble (because somebody has to do it).

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Renna Peak

Renna Peak is a contemporary romance author living in Spokane, Washington. When she’s not scheming her next plot twist, she enjoys gardening, paper crafts, collecting office supplies (she has a major colored-pen problem), and hanging out with her four children.

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Alice Ward- Torn

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Noah Stafford wants me. All of me.

Sleek and formidable, Chicago is an empire, controlled by the men and women who rule from the upper floors. Beneath grey skies, there’s an order to the city, but when office hours are over, a scorching heat pulses within its walls that has nothing to do with the sun.

An adventurous and quirky graduate from Milwaukee, I’m unexpectedly offered a job interview at Stafford Scientific after a sabbatical in the jungle steals my heart. I never expected to meet Noah Stafford, the billionaire founder. Dressed in a sharp designer suit that flaunts his ripped muscles, Noah draws me to him with a power I’m unable to control. But there’s a problem.

With his sandy blond hair and impossibly bright green eyes, Noah has a face I can love… because I already have. I’ve fallen for his twin brother, Corey, a rebel who lives on the edge. Torn between the two, I must decide to follow one brother’s rules, or run wild with the other.

When I’m looking into the same face, the same eyes… same heart… how can I choose?

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Alice Ward is the author of the New Adult series, RECKLESS.

Reading and Writing romance is her passion and she writes with her true heart.

Living in Miami, the beach is her favorite place to relax with her laptop and write her next spicy romance.

However, when she is not reading or writing romance, she also enjoys being with her beautiful family.

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Claire Adams- Loud

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My name is Brooke Baker and I’m a sophomore in college. Today, I’m moving into an apartment with my best friend Leslie. That’s where I meet my new neighbor Emerson. I know his type — good looking, built, killer smile. He’s the kind of guy girls ogle and make fools of themselves flirting with. I’ve seen my share of partying frat boys and can spot one a mile away. Unfortunately, I still find myself stealing glances at him. I immediately decide I will simply have to avoid the neighbors, one of them particularly. This proves difficult to do when I show up for my Monday morning science class and Emerson takes a seat directly behind me. To make matters worse, our professor partners us up.

The next two weeks all but convince me I was right. Emerson and his roommate are loud more often than not, always having parties, and whoever’s in the bedroom next to mine has a lot of sex. I had to confront him…

My name is Emerson and I’ve had an eye on Brooke ever since she moved in. My first impression is that she’s stuck up, straitlaced, and prudish. The exact opposite of the type I spend my time with. Still, I can’t help being attracted to her. She won’t give me the time of day until one night comes knocking at my door, angry about the noise. I’m only wearing a towel and she can barely spit out any words. That’s when I know have her. Soon, she’ll be mine.

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Elizabeth Famous- Light, Bright & Sparkling

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Annabelle Montclare, a spritely singer/actress, is navigating the Hollywood scene with aplomb, never taking herself too seriously, when she collapses on stage. Warren Fitzgerald, a world-renowned gynecological surgeon, saves her life, and in return Annabelle goads him with her good-natured impertinence, flirting shamelessly while recovering.

Dr. Fitzgerald isn’t interested in a meaningless fling with a pop star–not to mention it’s unethical to date a patient. But when the two cross paths ten months later at a Beverly Hills charity gala, they’re unable to take their eyes off each other as they exchange verbal jabs about his bigheadedness and her provocativeness.

Warren, who’s cheated on girlfriends in the past, is ready to hit the brakes and fulfill his lifelong desire to become a dad. Annabelle, who’s ten years his junior, is focused on carving out a creative path all her own. What happens when a sparkling presence, a girl born to entertain, becomes entangled with a grounded, strong-willed man who might rein in her exuberance or drive her head over heels?

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On her way out, Annabelle stopped in the front lobby to sign the program for a young lesbian couple in matching blazers and spotted Dr. Fitzgerald heading to the door. She called to him, “Good night.”

When she stepped outside, he was looking her way as he waited in line by the valet stand. He buttoned his earth-brown coat with his left hand and waved her over with his right. She meandered toward him, in no rush.

“Hey, listen,” he said, “there’s a diner by the old port that opens early. At sunrise, the whole area including the boardwalk is preternaturally calm.”

It was only half past one. Pitch-black outside. “You want to go to breakfast?” she blurted out with a twang.

“I’m off today. Are you busy…later this morning?”

“Well, well, well, how about this for an about-face.”

He stood tall, waiting for an answer, both hands dug deep into his pants pockets.

Spreading her arms, she ascended into a slow pirouette to prolong his wait, drawing attention from the crowd shuffling down the carpeted steps of the main entrance to the hotel.

Landing her turn like a professional, she asked, “What time?”

“Seven?”

“Seven a.m.!”

“Why not?” he asked.

Did it occur to him that he’d seen her naked from the waist down…and been flashed by her bare breasts when he checked her breathing after surgery? Before exiting the hotel, she had stopped at the woman’s lounge and checked herself out in the mirrors. Sans tight dress or push-up bra, she looked pretty with a soft touch of makeup and a slight sheen from her excitement about running into him.

He reached for her parking ticket, his fingertips brushing against her palm, then pivoted toward the valet dressed in tails and requested that her car be brought first. His decisiveness was potent in a way that was such a turn-on. The luxurious cashmere-like fabric of his suit jacket was inches from her touch, tempting her. Nobody who dressed as he did was alone on Saturday nights. His self-possession, his lack of hesitation, was similar yet different from his authority back at the hospital—and similar yet different from his hauteur when he dismissed her from his office.

“Uh, I’m going to have to ask you for a third time about your girlfriend,” she said when he finished conversing with the valet. “I heard you were living with someone?”

“Right. I don’t believe you know Lorraine, do you?”

“That’s why I keep asking.” Neither her courage nor her smile failed her. She would say what she wanted to say. Rocking from one foot to the other, she was nothing if not light on her feet.

“Perhaps it’s time you called Rochelle at the hospital…to catch up on things.”

It was true she hadn’t texted Rochelle in a while. It was over ten months since she had been rushed to the hospital in pain and almost as long since Rochelle first filled her in on his relationship with the professor of women’s studies.

“Anyway, I’m off on a serious errand,” he said. “I need to visit a former colleague who’s struggling with some personal issues.”

“At one a.m.?” she exclaimed.

“There’s a halfway house near the diner I mentioned. The middle of the night is when there are no AA meetings, and he’s having a bit of a crisis at the moment.” His voice was steady, no hitches. “So what do you say? Will you meet me afterward for breakfast?”

Few guys could pull off looking confident without overdoing the I’m-cool-and-unconcerned act, but she could tell it wouldn’t be awkward if she said, “No, I’m too tired.”

“I guess I can make it…on only five hours sleep,” she said. “I don’t have much planned for today, except the most boring meeting at noon to go over hair and makeup, so you better be entertaining.”

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AboutTheAuthor

Elizabeth Famous grew up on a family farm in rural USA before dashing off to the big city and going Ivy League. Never satisfied with doing things the usual way, she married a man from the other side of the globe and won a doctoral fellowship in humanities. Raising her lively and opinionated children is the greatest challenge of her life.

Ms. Famous likes to write about flawed characters dealing with challenging situations not touched upon in traditional romance novels.

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