Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Cover Reveal (Excerpt) & Giveaway: Inflame by Tessa Teevan

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Title: Inflame (Explosive #3)
Author: Tessa Teevan
Release Date: May 12, 2014
Cover Designer: Robin at Wicked By Design
Cover Model: Cory Grant
Photography done by Scott Hoover
   
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Synopsis
Easy going soldier Kale Montgomery, a self-proclaimed ladies man, has no plans of settling down, especially not with his best friend- the sexy, sassy schoolteacher Lucy Dawson. Their relationship, though unconventional, is mutually beneficial, and they wouldn't have it any other way. Friends with benefits? Casual lovers? Whatever you want to call it, they’re having fun, in and out of bed, and to them, that’s all that matters. At least that’s what they think, but how long can you spend in someone's bed before you find they're also infiltrating your heart? As their casual fling with no strings attached progresses, it's not long before they realize they're both in way over their heads. One fateful night changes their lives forever in ways they could never have imagined, giving them the push to finally admit that maybe, just maybe they want more than they’ve let on. Their mutual attraction rapidly intensifies as it shifts from burning lust to unrelenting want, need, and possibly even love. Suddenly the idea of settling down doesn't seem so bad. In fact, it sounds pretty damn perfect. Just when things seem to be falling into place, past pain and renewed insecurities rise to the surface and threaten to smother the flames of their passionate relationship, reminding them both why they’ve always kept the idea of love at arm's length. Will Kale and Lucy realize that what they've been waiting for is each other, or will the blazing whirlwind of their feelings burn out too quickly, causing it to all go up in smoke?     


Excerpt
She looks me over, and I love the fact that she’s checking me out. I don’t know why I’m so drawn to her, but I am, and I want to get to know her better, at least where the bedroom’s concerned. Eventually, she extends her hand, and I give a firm handshake, the kind she wanted when we first met. “Please, Kale, call me Lucy.”       Shaking her hand, I say it out loud. “Lucy. I like it.”       “That’s fortunate since I’m stuck with it. Okay, Montgomery. As much as I love flirting with a hot ass soldier in the parking lot of an elementary school, I’ve got to get going. Maybe I’ll see you around?”       She starts to walk away, but I grab her hand, reeling her back in. I’m not ready for her to go, yet I don’t want to seem like some crazy stalker guy.       “Can I see you again? You know, outside of an elementary school?” I ask, my eyes bearing down into hers, begging for her to say yes.       She hesitates, and I’m afraid she’s about to say no when she finally responds. “I don’t date. I’m not looking for anything serious, so if that’s what you’re looking for, I’m the wrong girl.”       My cock practically sings at her words. A no strings attached relationship with a hot teacher right before I deploy? I couldn’t have asked for better luck.       “I don’t do relationships, either, Lucy. I just want to get to know you and to have some fun. No feelings, no strings, no nothing,” I tell her, and watch as a look of relief washes over her.       She starts digging in her purse and I watch as she scribbles something on a piece of paper before hanging it to me. “Number’s right there. Call me when you’re feeling adventurous,” she says. Before I can say anything, she spins around and swiftly walks away, leaving me to wonder just how adventurous she can be.  



 
Ignite (Explosive #1)
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Incinerate (Explosive #2)
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About the Author
1234         I'm a twenty six year old book junkie who is also obsessed with sports. Bengals, Buckeyes, Reds are my teams! I work for the government during the day, hang out with Air National Guard on the weekends, and have been married to my own book boyfriend for over seven years. We currently live right outside of Dayton, OH with our two cats.       If I’m not writing or looking through tons of photos of hot men, all in the name of research, then you can probably find me curled up with my Kindle, ignoring the rest of the world. I love my sports almost as much as I love my books. My other obsessions include red wine, hot men, country music, and all things Grace Potter.  
Connect with Tessa
   
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Cover Reveal & Giveaway: Finding Haven by T.A. Foster

FindingHaven Amazon Smashwords Goodreads-1FINDING HAVEN by T.A. Foster

Releasing May 15th, 2014

New Adult Contemporary Romance

Book Blurb:

Power. Money. Control. Love.
He has all but one.
When movie star, Evan Carlson, discovers his girlfriend’s picture with another man splashed on the cover of gossip magazines, he decides he’s had enough of his fishbowl life and attempts to outrun the media frenzy his relationships have become. Driving until the road stops, he ends up on the remote and quaint Perry Island, where a heartthrob can blend in like the locals and be a beach bum as long as he wants. All that changes when Evan meets Haven Owen, aspiring songwriter and the girl he just can’t get enough of. A summer romance turns into something much deeper and Evan gets tangled in his own web of lies to keep Haven in his life. But when his ex tracks him down, Evan learns there are some things you just can’t outrun.
Is the cost of love, losing all control? 
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headshotAUTHOR BIO: T.A. Foster once spent a monthlong spring break on South Padre Island, where she soaked in the Texas sun, beach, and learned what real Texas country music is. Sometimes fiction does spring from reality. She grew up catching rays and chasing waves along the North Carolina Outer Banks and now resides in the state with her adventurous pilot husband, two children, and two canine kiddos. T.A. has an undergraduate degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a graduate degree in Educational Psychology from Texas A&M University. When she’s not chasing her two-legged and four-legged children or trying to escape for date night, you can find her reading, writing, or planning her next beach trip.  

Author Links: 
 Blog: http://www.tafosterauthor.com/ 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/tafosterwriter 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TAFosterauthor 
Author Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7164289.T_A_Foster


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Release Blitz: Point of Return by Stacy Lynn

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Title: Point of Return (Nordic Lords #1)
Author: Stacey Lynn
Release Date: April 22, 2014
Genre: Contemporary Romance
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Synopsis
Deceit. Destruction. Death. Olivia Masters grew up familiar with all of them. The daughter of the President of the Nordic Lords Motorcycle Club, Olivia always knew she wanted nothing to do with any of it. Her plans were made to leave the town she grew up in as soon as she and her boyfriend, Daemon Knight, turned eighteen. But then Olivia was shot. Her mother killed in front of her. Fleeing became her reality. Forced to return to her hometown of Jasper Bay five years later, events beyond Olivia’s control put her directly back into the life she swore she’d never return to. Her dad wants her back in the family. Daemon wants her in his bed. But just as Olivia begins to accept her destiny, history finds a way to repeat itself. This time, will Olivia be strong enough to fight for the family she once turned her back on? Or will she once again flee from the only life that has ever felt like home? 


  
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EXCERPT:
“C’mon, Liv,” I said, walking to her and standing right in between her legs. I looked down at her in amusement. She was almost right where I wanted her. “You’re too jaded for the straight life.”
I nudged the inside of her knee open a little wider with mine. She sat straight up and glared at me, but the heat was missing in her eyes.
“Well, whose fault is that?”
I wanted to ram my head into a wall. I was not having this same conversation again. “Already told you I wouldn’t change a thing about what I did, Liv. You might as well get over it now.”
“What if I can’t?”
I grinned and leaned over her so far she fell straight back onto my bed. Her hair fell from the ugly ass bird’s nest into a pile on my messy sheets. Best sight ever. “Can’t or won’t?”
She smirked and I leaned closer, my lips just inches from hers.
“You will. Because right now, Liv, you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be. And you’ve always known it. Now, you’re just done fightin’ it. And God, I want you here.”
My lips brushed against hers and she sucked in a quick breath. I wanted to push it but didn’t want to push her away. Not when I finally had her right where I wanted her. My hands on either side of her head, my body leaning over hers. All I’d have to do is crawl onto the bed, bend my knees and I could enter nirvana in seconds. I knew by her pulse and her breathing she was turned on.
She wanted me just as much as I wanted her. I could feel it seeping from her skin directly into mine. I flicked my tongue out, tasting her soft lips and when she moaned, I pressed against her further. My resolve to stay away completely flying out the damn window.
But then she stopped me. I felt her lips curl into a smile against mine, and I opened my eyes, staring directly into hers.
“What?”
“I pulled a gun on Finn today. And my dad.”
My head dropped to her neck as the laughter poured out of me. She really was coming back. I loved it. Fucking loved her own personal brand of craziness. The girl who wouldn’t kill a spider but had no problems pulling a gun on two men that scared the shit out of almost everyone they met. She had guts. “You’re fuckin’ crazy, princess.”
 
About the Author
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Amazon Bestselling Author Just One Song and Just One Week Don't Lie to Me, and Remembering Us. I am a wife, a mom, and a writer. I can often be found curled up on the couch with a good book, or obsessively eating Skittles in a very complicated and organized manner. No joke.


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Cover Reveal & Giveaway: One True Thing by Lynne Jaymes

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Title: One True Thing
Author: Lynne Jaymes
Genre: NA Contemporary Romance
Release Date: May 22, 2014
Cover Designer: Helen Williams at AllBookedOut.com
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Can one true thing save a love built on lies?
 
Synopsis
  “That was all before…” Jolene waves her hand in the air, but we both know what she means. Before I touched her in the most intimate places. Before I felt her shudder under my tongue. Before she tasted the salt on my skin. Before I promised a lot more than I could deliver. Ty Branch has wanted one thing his entire life—to play professional baseball. When he gets a chance to move from San Francisco to play at Texas powerhouse Garvin State University, he's willing to do whatever it takes to make his dream come true, even if that means hiding his past. But when he meets dance major Jolene Taylor, the chemistry is so strong his single-minded quest begins to weaken. As he gets to know her quirky, small-town family, he falls more deeply in love, but becomes even more sure he can never tell her the truth about his family. When a surprise visitor blows his past wide-open, Ty is forced to come to terms with his secrets. But is the damage already done with Jolene or can he find a way to sacrifice everything he's worked for in order to win back the heart of a once-in-a-lifetime love?      
Excerpt
            “Thank you,” Jolene says, as I hold the door open for her, the soft Texas twang in her voice making my heart beat faster as she brushes by me, her dark brown eyes fixed on the ground. Jolene Taylor. Dance major, sophomore, comes from somewhere outside of Abeline—way outside according to Jessie, one of those towns that has only four stoplights and a Dairy Queen with a sign that congratulates the FFA on their livestock win. “No problem,” I reply, following her through the door. We approach the stairs to the second floor together, but I slow my pace so that she can get ahead of me, hoping that I don’t look like a stalker and that she doesn’t notice that I’m sneaking looks at her ass as she walks up the steps. And it is a perfect little ass. Jolene has a way of moving that’s more like gliding than actual walking, her feet turned out just slightly in that way that dancers have. She’s wearing baggy sweats that sit at the place where the two dimples on her lower back meet her spine and a workout top holding her small, perky breasts that leaves little to the imagination. I can see the muscles in her back move as she walks and that turns me on more than anything, so I shift my eyes up to the expanse of bare skin on the back of her neck, covered by a few dark tendrils of hair that escape from the messy bun on top of her head. Even at her messiest, Jolene is perfection. But I can’t talk to her, there’s no point. There’s too much I’d have to say, too much I’d have to give up to make it real.  I want her to look back as I approach the door to my apartment, nosily fumbling for the keys to try to get her attention, but she stares straight ahead, her back tall and her thin, muscled arms gripping the laundry basket as she heads for her apartment at the end of the hall. I sigh as I take one last look at her and swing my apartment door open. Gotta keep my eyes on the prize. Jolene Taylor is just one more thing I shouldn’t be messing with this year.    
          
About the Author
Lynne Jaymes
Lynne Jaymes is a life-long reader and accidental writer living in Northern California. She writes contemporary fiction that is sometimes funny, sometimes sexy and always from the heart. Although this is not her first venture into writing – Lynne is traditionally published in another genre under another name – she loves the indie world for the freedom it gives her to write the stories that call to her, the ones that mean the most and the ones that editors have said would never sell. ONE TRUE THING is the adaptation of the first book she ever wrote and the story is one that is close to her family and has lived deep in her soul for years. She is also the co-author of the second book in the UNFILTERED Series, UNFILTERED & UNKNOWN. Keep up with Lynne at www.lynnejaymes.com, on Facebook and Twitter.  

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Release Blitz & Giveaway: Double Coverage by Meghan Quinn

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Title: Double Coverage(#2 Love and Sports Series)
Author: Meghan Quinn
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: April 21st
   
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Synopsis
Unfortunate inconvenience, that is the way Piper describes her encounter with Mason Dashel. From the minute the alpha male interrupts her morning after hangover on the airplane, she can’t stand to be near the egotistical maniac with a booming voice and annoying sex appeal. But to her misfortune she finds herself not only having to spend time with him at their best friends’ wedding but she also can’t seem to shake the infuriating man in her everyday life.
Psychotic Una-bomber with the constant mensies is the way Mason describes his flying companion, Piper Shores. After a horrific break up with his now ex, Brooke, he finds himself being engulfed by the temperamental red head that just so happens to be the maid of honor to one of his best friends, Lexi. Even though she grates on his every nerve, he can’t help but want a piece of her. The two are like oil and water, a science experiment ready to explode any second but they can’t help but be drawn to each other. The only problem is… there are other people they are involved with who not only prevent Mason and Piper from being together, but interrupt any chance they have at making a relationship work. 


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EXCERPT:

    She was just closing her eyes when a luggage bag was placed on the seat next to her, slightly hitting her shoulders and rocking her sensitive body to the side. Her eyes shot open because the sudden movement made her stomach roll. She breathed through her mouth and willed all contents of the cheeseburger she had this morning to settle itself back down in the pit of her stomach. She slowly turned her head to see what the disturbance was, but only saw the waist of what looked like a very fit man. Not able to move her head much, she just turned back around. She didn’t care who sat next to her, as long as they were gentle, didn’t smell, and kept their mouth shut.
    She closed her eyes again, willing her body to relax, but was unable to because the brute who just sat next to her shuffled around looking for his seatbelt and talked very loudly on his phone.
    “That’s great, I’m happy for you,” he said in a very sarcastic tone. How odd, Piper thought, didn’t the guy know he was in a small confined space and everyone around him could hear his conversation?
    “What do you want me to say? I’m happy, alright.” Piper tried to ignore the way his voice was rising, but couldn’t, especially when every word he shouted felt like sandpaper scratching against her brain. “You want the truth? Fine, I could give two shits about what kind of amazing opportunity you might have.” He used air quotes when he said amazing, which was odd since he was on the phone.
    He continued, “No Brooke, you lost the chance at my approval when you decided that I wasn’t good enough for you. I’m no longer your man. Therefore, I don’t give a flying fuck what happens in your life.” He was now speaking in a controlled, but very stern, voice. If Piper wasn’t so annoyed with the conversation, she would have thought his voice was almost sexy, in a disturbing machismo sort of way.
    The flight attendant started shutting the airplane door and the conversation that Mr. Buff-man was having was bordering on obnoxious and extremely annoying.
    “I’m not sorry and I refuse to apologize…Oh, come on Brooke, you have got to be kidding me. It’s shit like that, that I don’t miss. Yeah, I don’t miss…you can be such a bitch.” He pointed to his chest when he said, “Me, I’m a bastard? Really funny because I remember you’re the one who…”
    That was it; Piper couldn’t take it anymore. She reached over to the guy’s phone, grabbed it out of his hand, pressed the end button, and then tossed it on his lap. She readjusted her sunglasses and put her head back on the head rest. From the corner of her eye, she could see the man leaning forward looking at her with his mouth open in shock. She just shrugged. Served him right.
    She was just closing her eyes when he tapped her on the shoulder. She didn’t look at him because that would require her to turn her head and she had used all her energy to turn his phone off.
    “What?” she asked, while staring straight ahead.
    “Who the fuck do you think you are…?”
    Piper held up her hand to silence him. “I’m going to stop you right there, buddy. I suggest you close that fly trap you have hanging wide open right now and silently thank me. I did you a favor.”
    “A favor? You just made my life ten times more difficult.”
    “Well, that’s your own damn fault for getting involved with, who I can only imagine is, a psychotic whore. So once again, you are welcome.” Piper heard the guy’s cell phone ring, but he ignored it and turned his phone off, shoving it in his pocket. Piper refrained from smirking, but still felt the corners of her lips curl up.
    She closed her eyes again and tried to calm her stomach that was rolling around from the movement of hanging up the phone for the man next to her. Over the plane speakers, the flight attendant started informing passengers about safety requirements, how to buckle one’s seatbelt and fasten oxygen masks in case of a loss of cabin pressure. Piper just let the words slip out of her mind. If things went awry, she would just play the helpless girl role and have someone help her.
    Just when Piper felt herself starting to relax, the man next to her bumped her arm that was resting on the armrest. The sudden movement made her fall to the side, since all of her weight was on her one elbow and her stomach rolled forward. She gripped the seat in front of her and glared at the man through her sunglasses.
    “Jesus, brute. Learn to share a freaking armrest.”
    “Share? You’re hogging the whole damn thing.” He exhaled and then looked at her, studying her carefully. “Just my luck, I get to sit next to a bitch that looks like the Unabomber.”
    “I beg your pardon?”
    She snapped her head, a little too quickly, at the man and it was the first glimpse she actually had of him. He was surprisingly attractive. She was expecting some massively hairy and disgusting man to be sitting next to her, but he wasn’t…not even close. He had a dark complexion, like he might be an Italian, he had pretty-boy features, deep brown eyes, brown hair and a scruffy face. Lord have mercy, he was more attractive than she wanted him to be.
    He waved up and down her body with his hand. “Why the hell are you dressed like that? You know, when you’re inside, you’re supposed to take off your sunglasses.”
    “Well, aren’t you charming?” she said sarcastically. Even though he was attractive, too attractive, he was still a prick. “Why don’t you mind your own business and I’ll mind mine. How does that sound?”
    He just shrugged and turned back around so he was facing the front. There, that was easy enough. She started closing her eyes again when he spoke up once more.
 

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About The Author
Meghan
When I was in high school I occasionally read books but was consumed by other teenage things so I didn't take the time to appreciate a good book on a cloudy day, wrapped up in a blanket on the couch. It wasn't until I received a Kindle for Christmas one year that my world completely flipped upside down. When looking for books I came across the Contemporary Romance genre and was sold and I haven't turned back since.
You can either find my head buried in my Kindle, listening to inspiring heart ripping music or typing away on the computer twisting and turning the lives of my characters while driving my readers crazy with anticipation. ​I currently reside in beautiful Colorado Springs where the sun is always shining and there is a trail waiting to be hiked on every corner. I share a lovely and warm home with the love of my life and my five, four-legged children. 

Website | Facebook |Goodreads



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Book Blitz & Giveaway: Stormswept: The Bold and the Beautiful by Shannon Curtis

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Title - Stormswept: The Bold and the Beautiful
Author - Shannon Curtis
Genre - Contemporary Romance
Release Date - March 25, 2014
 
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Synopsis
Brand new stories with the characters you love from THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL

She's jinxed when it comes to relationships.

That's what Hope believes as she ends yet another engagement. She jumps at the chance to travel to Australia for a fashion shoot – even if that means getting up close and very personal with former flame, Oliver.

For Oliver, a sailing trip in a tropical paradise is the opportunity to convince the woman he's always loved to give him a second chance. 

But when Hope and Oliver are caught in a storm and stranded on a desert island, they are soon battling the elements, and their passion for each other.   



Excerpt
Oh, that was bad. That was—that was torture. As soon as the words fell from her mouth she knew he’d be hurt by them. She didn’t want to hurt Ollie—he was her friend. She’d known he still had a thing for her, but had tried not to encourage it. What woman in her right mind would turn down Oliver Jones? Argh. Could she feel any more awkward than she did in this very moment? She collapsed back on her bed, groaning with frustration. Why couldn’t he just keep things casual? Why did he have to go and ruin it by kissing her proverbial socks off and making her want more? And what did that say about her? She’d left two guys fighting over her back in LA, and now she had rebuffed Oliver, too. She was behaving just like her mother. She squeezed her eyes shut. Anything but that. She’d had to live down her mother’s many indiscretions, had tried to set a new standard, determined to break the mold. She wasn’t a femme fatale. She rolled her eyes. Not even close. She shuddered. The feel of his lips against hers, his arms around her—it was as though she was seventeen again, feeling wild exuberance over a mere kiss. She shook her head. She couldn’t even begin to imagine what it might be like to make love with Oliver Jones. They had kissed many times, but had never made that final commitment. She was still attracted to him. Images of Oliver, half-naked and wet, half-naked and aroused—by her—flooded her brain. Her nipples peaked in her bra, as though craving his touch, and she hugged herself. This attraction to Oliver had to stop. She’d found him appealing from the moment they’d met, but had become supremely aware of him during this trip. This business trip. She had to remind herself of that. They were business associates and friends—although she wasn’t sure if the latter still applied. Fear and dismay flared within her. She hoped they were still friends. Oliver was—well, he was special. He’d been her first love. She remembered those lazy days when they’d hung out over summer, when her biggest problem was deciding which college to attend. She sighed as she rolled over and drew her knees up. They were friends. Friends didn’t go around kissing each other like—well, like he’d kissed her. Sure, she’d enjoyed it—way too much, if she was honest with herself. But as she’d told him, there could never be anything more between them. He’d hurt her, deeply. The pain, the humiliation, the horror—her life had become a circus. She sighed. Okay, so being Brooke Logan’s daughter was a circus all on its own, but Oliver’s mistaken tryst with her mother was her first real experience of being at the center of a media storm. It had been hell. And now he wanted to try and resuscitate that dead horse? She just wanted a contented life with a one-woman man—was that seriously too much to ask for? Oliver had been unfaithful, albeit unknowingly. And she’d had to share Liam with another woman for far too long, and Wyatt? Well, Wyatt definitely had a single-minded focus, but she wasn’t sure if his intense attention was because he wanted to be with her, or because he was trying to prove something to his father and half-brother. She was jinxed when it came to relationships. She’d proven that over and over again. She didn’t trust her heart, or her head, when it came to men. But she didn’t want to lose Oliver. She bit her lip as she glanced at the wall of her cabin. She’d pretty much told him to move on. Oh, gosh. What if he did? She squeezed her eyes shut as an unfamiliar feeling of dread gripped her gut. He was an attractive guy. Smart, with a great sense of humor. Despite their past, she really did want him to be happy. She couldn’t deny, though, that on some level she still wanted his attention, his affection. His desire. But he needed more than she was prepared to give. If he did find happiness with another woman, what then? After tonight, she wasn’t sure what she wanted. He could still arouse her with one kiss, one heated look. But he could still hurt her, too. She hoped, prayed, that tomorrow everything would be back to normal. Oliver would joke around with her, make her laugh, be that strong shoulder to cry on when she needed it. Be the man she wanted, just without the emotional entanglement. She took a deep breath. Tomorrow they’d act like nothing had happened.   


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About the Author
Curtis_Shannon
Shannon Curtis has worked as an office admin manager, customer service rep, logistics supervisor, dangerous goods handler, event planner, ‘switch bitch’ and betting agent.
She loved reading from an early age and decided to combine her passion for action and romance by penning a novel. Her first two books were shortlisted for Favourite Romantic Suspense for 2012 & 2013 by the Australian Romance Readers Association.
She is also the author of Collision Course, one of the first titles published with THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL.
She lives in Sydney with her family and various pets, and dreams of one day having a library like the one inBeauty and the Beast (as long as she doesn’t have to clean it).
 
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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Release Blitz: Love, In English by Karina Halle

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Title: Love, In English
Author: Karina Halle
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: April 20, 2014
   
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Synopsis
He’s thirty-eight. I’m twenty-three.

He speaks Spanish. I speak English.

He lives in Spain. I live in Canada.

He dresses in thousand-dollar suits. I’m covered in tattoos.

He’s married and has a five-year old daughter.

I’m single and can’t commit to anyone or anything.

Until now.Because when they say you can’t choose who you fall in love with, boy ain’t that the f*#king truth.

***

To a restless dreamer like Vera Miles, it sounded like the experience of a lifetime. Instead of spending her summer interning for her astronomy major, she would fly to Spain where she’d spend a few weeks teaching conversational English to businessmen and women, all while enjoying free room and board at an isolated resort. But while Vera expected to get a tan, meet new people and stuff herself with wine and paella, she never expected to fall in love.

Mateo Casalles is unlike anyone Vera has ever known, let alone anyone she’s usually attracted to. While Vera is a pierced and tatted free spirit with a love for music and freedom, Mateo is a successful businessman from Madrid, all sharp suits and cocky Latino charm. Yet, as the weeks go on, the two grow increasingly close and their relationship changes from purely platonic to something…more.

Something that makes Vera feel alive for the first time.

Something that can never, ever be.

Or so she thinks.


 
Excerpt
Claudia shrugged and pulled down at her yellow tee. “Not my problem. Eduardo is nice but Ricardo is really nice.” “How did it happen?” I asked, kinda wanting the sordid details. She was coy. “The way it usually happens.” “Did you make the first move?” Another shrug. “Why not?” I swear, a shrug and a “why not?” were the Spaniards’ go-to answer for everything. “Well, then I guess it seems safe—and a little boring now—to tell you that I have a crush on someone.” Her brows quirked up. “Other than Mateo?” “What?” “You are sleeping with Mateo, no?” “WHAT?!” “No?” “No!” I exclaimed, appalled. “Why does everyone keep thinking that?” “Because you are always together,” she said simply. She took a sip of wine. “The attraction is very obvious. So, I figured you must be sleeping together.” “He’s married!” “Yes, but you are not.” I shook my head adamantly. “It’s wrong. I don’t want to be the other woman. I’ve seen my dad go for the other woman, and I can’t put Mateo’s daughter through that,” I said. “Or his wife,” I quickly added. “That doesn’t mean that you can’t have feelings for anyone else.” “Yes, it does mean that.” “Maybe you are meant to be together.” “We’re not! There isn’t even a together. We’re just friends. I haven’t done anything about it, and so far my feelings are totally one-sided.” Claudia got up off the couch and brought a pack of cigarettes out of her front jean pocket. “If you think it is on the one side, you have not seen the way he looks at you.” She walked over to her small patio table and pulled out a chair. I got up and stormed after her, my nerves dancing excitedly. “What do you mean, the way he looks at me?” I asked, lowering my voice in case there were people around listening. I felt like bouncing off the walls. She slid the ashtray toward her as I sat down. “You do not see it. But I do. I think everyone does. He looks at you like…like you’re his favorite food.” “Favorite food?” She lit her cigarette. “Yes. You’re like his favorite food in the whole world. He wants to have you, eat you, devour you. He thinks about you all the time, craves you. But he cannot have you for one reason or another. Perhaps you upset his stomach. Maybe he is on a diet, yes? All he wants is a taste, but he cannot even have that. That is how he looks at you.” I sat there, stunned, as some of her smoke blew in my face. That’s how Mateo looked at me? Like he wanted to eat me? I was pretty sure that’s how I looked at him. Just last night I was contemplating nibbling on his earlobes. “And yes,” she said, leaning closer to me, a small smile on her lips, “that is also how you look at him.” Great, a mind reader. “But you are more subtle about it. You try not to let everyone know. But, we know.” “There is nothing to know,” I reminded her, poking the table with my finger for emphasis. “We are not sleeping together. He is married. I have a crush. That is it. The end of the story.” “A crush?” she questioned. “Vera, I think you’re in love with him.” No fucking way. Not love. That did not happen with me, not ever and not now. “You can’t fall in love in a week,” I told her heatedly. “You can fall in love in a second,” she said with a snap of her fingers. “The heart has no regard for time.” With that sobering thought, Claudia told me about her ex-boyfriend and how they fell in love at first sight then took the conversation back to Ricardo and their exploits. I envied her so badly right then and there. She could fawn over Ricardo, kiss him, fuck him, and no one would ever bat an eye. It was okay for them to be together. It wasn’t forbidden. I gulped the rest of the wine and left her apartment, heading back to reception to meet Cristina for my next one-on-one, my mind and heart and hormones all over the place. Lo and behold, Mateo was walking up the path toward me. He was on the phone, smiling. His shirt was off and slung over his shoulder, exposing his bare chest, abs, and arms. Holy fuck. For a moment, I was sure that time had stopped. Or maybe ever single nerve, cell, vein, bone, muscle in my body just slowed as I took him all in. From his thick-veined forearms to his sculpted shoulders and broad chest peppered with neatly-trimmed chest hair, to his six-pack abs, he had, by far, the best body I’d ever seen on a man. He kept himself in fine-ass shape, looking more like a young athlete than anything else. He and David Beckham had more in common than I thought, although David’s skin tone wasn’t as mesmerizing. Mateo’s color was amazing, just beautiful, this dark, golden bronze that covered him everywhere. I wanted so badly to just touch him, to lick the sheen of sweat off his skin. I bet he tasted like victory. And to think this was the man that Claudia said wanted to taste me. I really, really wanted to believe her. Meanwhile, I was just standing there like I was melting into a puddle of myself. I clamped my mouth shut as he walked past and I heard him say into the phone, “No, mi tesorito, it was easy, I didn’t injure myself.” He was beaming, talking about the game, to his wife. To his tesorito. And he called their relationship complicated? This was complicated. He winked at me in acknowledgement, his smile becoming broader. I tried to smile back but it wouldn’t come. I just stared at him, feeling stupid, foolish, and strangely rejected. In a perfect world I may have been his favorite food, but it still wasn’t what he got served every day. I turned around and walked down the hill, my heart feeling like a pincushion. “Vera!” I heard him call out from behind. I stopped and nervously glanced over my shoulder. He was holding the phone’s receiver to his chest, grinning at me. “I need to ask you your question.” “What?” I asked, hoping it was quick. “Who is your favorite Spaniard here?” Seriously? And yet I couldn’t lie to him. “You,” I said, more to myself than to him. Then I turned around and walked away as quickly as I could.   


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About the Author
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With her USA Today Bestselling The Artists Trilogy published by Grand Central Publishing, numerous foreign publication deals, and self-publishing success with her Experiment in Terror series, Vancouver-born Karina Halle is a true example of the term "Hybrid Author." Though her books showcase her love of all things dark, sexy and edgy, she's a closet romantic at heart and strives to give her characters a HEA...whenever possible.

Karina holds a screenwriting degree from Vancouver Film School and a Bachelor of Journalism from TRU. Her travel writing, music reviews/interviews and photography have appeared in publications such as Consequence of Sound, Mxdwn and GoNomad Travel Guides. She currently lives on an island on the coast of British Columbia where she’s preparing for the zombie apocalypse with her fiance and rescue pup.

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