Broken Open (The Hurley Boys #2) by Lauren Dane-a review

BROKEN OPEN (The Hurley Boys #2) by Lauren Dane-a review

Broken Open

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ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date November 25, 2014

Beyond passion. And beyond their control…

Five years ago, Tuesday Eastwood’s life collapsed and left her devastated. After an empty, nomadic existence, she’s finally pieced her life back together in the small Oregon town of Hood River. Now Tuesday has everything sorted out. Just so long as men are kept for sex, and only sex…

Then she met him.

Musician and rancher Ezra Hurley isn’t the man of Tuesday’s dreams. He’s a verboten fantasy—a man tortured by past addictions, whose dark charisma and long, lean body promise delicious carnality. But this craving goes far beyond chemistry. It’s primal. It’s insatiable. And it won’t be satisfied until they’re both consumed, body and soul…

•••••••••••••

REVIEW: BROKEN OPEN is the second installment in Lauren Dane’s contemporary, adult The Hurley Boys romance series focusing on the members of the rock band Sweet Hollow Ranch. This is eldest brother, guitarist and song writer Ezra Hurley, and Natalie’s (book one) best friend/ jewelry designer Tuesday Eastwood’s storyline. Our couple previously met in book one- The Best Kind of Trouble-and their attraction to one another heats up in Broken Open.

Told from third person point of view, the focus of the storyline follows the building relationship between Ezra and Tuesday-two people whose pasts are riddled with heartbreak and pain. Ezra is a recovering heroin addict, whose addiction all but destroyed Sweet Hollow Ranch and the people that he loved. Heroin is a powerful drug and Ezra’s attraction and need for Tuesday has him believing he is replacing one addiction with another. While Sweet Hollow Ranch is on tour, Ezra works the family ranch back home in Hood River.

Tuesday is a strong woman who refuses to stand down; a young widow whose former in laws continue to tear away at the grief that surrounds her daily existence. Five years have passed and Tuesday is ready to move on with her life and Ezra is the man to bring her out of the past.

The relationship between Ezra and Tuesday is one of immediate attraction. Their connection and desire for one another is palpable. While neither one is expecting a permanent relationship, there is a definite spark that does not go unnoticed. The sex scenes are frequent, seductive and passionate. Ezra is a man who knows what he wants in the bedroom and Tuesday is the woman who is willing to give him what he wants.

The secondary characters include all of the Hurley brothers, both Ezra and Tuesday’s immediate and extended families as well as Tuesday’s former in-laws whose mission is to destroy Tuesday’s new found happiness –at any cost.

The world building reflects on Ezra’s addiction and the heartache that follows for the band. Both Ezra and Tuesday’s families are supportive, nurturing and protective of one another. There are some issues of bigotry and stereotyping. Tuesday is a woman of African-American descent and Hood River is a small town with some small town mentality and beliefs.

My only concern is the actions of Tuesday’s former in-laws. Although we can understand grief and loss, their behavior is unbelievable; their emotional instability is over the top; and their need for revenge is psychotic in action. The delivery felt displaced in the storyline.

BROKEN OPEN is a provocative storyline of family, friendship, learning to love again and letting go of the past. There are moments of humor, pain, romance and drama but in the end, there is a happily ever after for two people who have endured so much loss in their lives.

Copy supplied by the publisher through Netgalley.

Reviewed by Sandy

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Shifter Wars by A.E. Jones – Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

Shifter Wars by A.E. Jones – Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

 

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Shifter Wars
Mind Sweeper series – Book #3
by A.E. Jones
Release Date.: November 17, 2014

Shifter Wars

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Description:
Why did the demon cross the road? Apparently to escape from Kyle McKinley. Which is more than fine with her.

The last thing she wants is to be dragged into another supernatural crisis, but the Fates have something more interesting in store for her. Since the tricky wenches love to mess with people, Kyle isn’t really surprised. And once she learns Trina, the young shifter girl whose memory she erased, is being stalked again, Kyle will do whatever it takes to protect her.

Normally a secretive group, the shifters reluctantly agree to allow Kyle and her vampire and demon teammates to investigate. Are the poachers who kidnapped Trina back for revenge? But when other shifters are also targeted, Kyle becomes convinced there is more to the attacks than vengeance. And when the violence escalates and Griffin, the enigmatic leader of the shifters, ends up in the crosshairs, the team braces for a bloodbath.

Scrambling to identify the mysterious group bent on destroying the shifters, and why, Kyle is also haunted by dreams and painful flashes from the prophesied Key of Knowledge which has taken up residence in her brain. In typical Kyle fashion, she decides to ignore it, but the more she ignores it, the more it digs its claws into her consciousness. If she can’t learn to embrace the Key and ask for help from those closest to her, she could lose her sanity before she’s able to prevent a shifter civil war.

 

Review:

I am seriously loving the Mind Sweeper series by A.E. Jones. Kyle is a kickass female with a boys name. Lots happened in the last book that I didn’t want to give away, so it makes this review a little tricky.

In Shifter Wars, Kyle has now moved away from her old friends, home and work colleagues. We start with her rescuing a human from Demons, then getting a new job in a casino.

For those who haven’t read the first book, or the novella, a quick recap….
Kyle is a human who has the ability the alter your memories, which comes In handy, she works with shifters, demons and vampires, this group patrols these factions and keeps the humans safe.

The action is kept at a good pace, Kyle moves back to her old world to help a family from the previous book. The shifters are worried that Trisha is being targeted again. So with the help of Jean-Luc and Misha (a demon and a vampire) they set to work finding out who wants the wolf child.

There are new characters, and all of them make this a great read. The atmosphere between her and Nicholas (her old boss) was very tense. Jason (her temporary replacement) bounce well. And the love between her, Misha and Jean-Luc was like brothers and sisters reunited.

And the feelings between Kyle and Griffin (the leader of the werewolves) had me grinning and blushing. Oh and the sub-story (Kyle is now a key) that’s really moving at a great rate.

And the ending ……. Nope, not revealing anything, but I’m already needing the next book.

 

Reviewed by Julie B.

Copy provided by Promoter

 

Guest post-White and Red

How to Create a Shifter Hero

A special thank you to the Reading Café for inviting me here today! I am celebrating the release of my third book in my Mind Sweeper series. This series centers around Kyle, a woman with the ability to erase memories, and her paranormal teammates whose job it is to hide their world from humans when they have seen too much.

In my third book, Shifter Wars, Kyle attempts to stop a shifter civil war. So today, in honor of this new book, I have been asked to write about how to create a shifter hero. Here goes…

Take one shifter male, add sea-green eyes and long brown hair, and make him a bit aloof. Have him be the leader of his pack and let power ooze from his pores. Make him protective of his people and willing to sacrifice himself for them. Roll it all together and let him simmer forty-five minutes and you have the perfect recipe for a shifter hero.

So what do you think? Sounds yummy, right? The shifter hero in this book is named Griffin. I introduced Griffin in book one of the series and had an inkling that he would be seen again. He is the leader of the shifter nation and works to protect his people from poachers – humans who hunt and kill shifters for their pelts. Enter Kyle and her team to help with the escalating attacks.

And it doesn’t end there (of course). Internal pack politics play an increasing role causing discord, which in shifter-speak, means bloodshed.

Why do I think Griffin is such an interesting character (if I do say so myself)? Because even though he is all kinds of sexy, he’s also noble. Throughout the story, he rolls up his sleeves and jumps into the fray. He refuses to let his people do anything that he would not do himself. How can you not love that? Oh and he can turn into a cool animal.

In some respects, the making of a shifter hero is similar to the making of any type of hero. He has to be willing to open himself up to the people around him. And he can’t be perfect. That won’t do at all. Perfect equals boring. And we don’t want to read boring. The discovery for the reader and the hero is in recognizing his flaw (and fears) and moving beyond that to change and grow and ultimately move the story along.

But an added twist to this story is the animal side of the equation. After all, for all of his intellect and self-awareness, Griffin also has a wild side. Something under the surface that he has to control or learn to work in harmony with in order to help his family and people. That’s where the wonder of supernatural comes into play. It gives a boost to the story and takes the reader into another world.

So that is how I create a shifter hero. Confident but flawed, determined but flexible, sexy but humble. Did I mention he can turn into a cool animal? I did? Well, hopefully you get the idea.

 

About the author
ae jones pic 180 x 270

Growing up a TV junkie, award winning author AE Jones oftentimes rewrote endings of episodes in her head when she didn’t like the outcome. She immersed herself in sci-fi and soap operas. But when Buffy hit the little screen she knew her true love was paranormal. Now she spends her nights weaving stories about all variation of supernatural—their angst and their humor. After all life is about both…whether you sport fangs or not.

 

AE lives in Ohio with her eclectic family and friends who in no way resembles any characters in her books. Honest. Now her two cats are another story altogether.

WebsiteTwitter / Facebook

 

 

giveaway

A.E. is graciously offering an e-copy of SHIFTER WARS to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.

1. If you have not previously registered at The Reading Cafe, please register by using the log-in at the top of the page (side bar) or by using one of the social log-ins.

2. If you are using a social log-in, please post your email address with your comment.

3. Please LIKE us on FACEBOOK and click GET NOTIFICATIONS

4. Please LIKE us on Twitter for an additional entry.

5. Please LIKE us on GOODREADS  for an additional entry.

6. Please LIKE  A.E Jones on FACEBOOK.

7. Giveaway is International

8. Giveaway runs from November 23- 27,  2014

 

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He’s No Prince Charming (Ever After #1) by Elle Daniels-a review

He’s No Prince Charming (Ever After #1) by Elle Daniels-a review

He's No prince Charming

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ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date October 28, 2014

A wounded beast . . .

It took Marcus Bradley forever to find a suitable bride. And then he lost her—all because some meddling matchmaker with a crazy notion about “true love” helped her elope with another man. Now, to save his sister from a terrible marriage alliance, he needs a replacement—an heiress, to be exact . . . and he knows just the woman to help him find one.

A spirited beauty . . .

Danielle Strafford believes everyone deserves a fairytale ending—even the monstrously scarred and notoriously brooding Marquis of Fleetwood. Not that he’s left her a choice. If she doesn’t help him secure a wife—by any means necessary—he’ll reveal her scandalous secrets.

A passion that will consume them both

The more time Marcus spends with Danielle, the less interested he is in any other woman. But the Beast must do the impossible: keep from losing his heart to a Beauty he is destined to lose.

REVIEW

5 out of 5 for this reader folks!

I REALLY enjoyed this book. It was packed with all that I cherish in a historical romance novel and left me wanting to continue flipping those pages. Adventure, sass, ugly, banter, teasing, friendship, boldness, taboo for the times and a HEA! YUP .. had it all! ;)

He’s No Prince Charming by Elle Daniels is the first book in her Ever After series. If you are a fan of the tale “Beauty and the Beast” then you will appreciate the parallels and mirrored images this novel creates. This isn’t a children’s fairy tale however, especially when you add one seriously damaged/broken man and one sassy heiress who ruined his planned future and drives him crazy.

Marcus (AKA The Beast) is a whole lot of complicated. Seriously scarred from repeated beatings by the hand of his father, and now blackmailed by him to marry and produce an heir, he finally concedes to marry. A drunk to numb his pain, it is by chance that he witnesses his fiance escaping in the dead of night with a man she truely loves. While shocked at this display, it is the woman that dared help her escape that has captured his eye.

Danielle Strafford (AKA The Beauty) is an heiress that prefers to keep that little tid bit a secret. She owns a rather unconventional business helping others escape unwanted unions. When she helps the wrong lady and is confronted by Marcus, she finds herself in quite the pickle. While she can’t stand him, she is drawn to him and reluctantly agrees to help him find another bride.

One stupidity leads to another and let’s just say karma is a you know what. These two land themselves in one troubled scenario after another. The banter is hilarious and fun, the adventure on going and the love that begins to unfold truthful and beautiful. I have to say I loved the quotes at the beginning of each chapter and how they made me ponder before diving back into the chapter. Totally looking forward for more by this author!

This story just goes to show that one can find so much beauty in so much ugly.

HAPPY READING!

Copy supplied by Netgalley

Review by Rachel T

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Forced Disappearance by Dana Marton-Review and Spotlight Tour

Forced Disappearance by Dana Marton -a review and spotlight tour

forced disappearance

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NOTE: Dana is hosting a Forced Disappearance Release Party on Facebook on 11/24 from 5-9pm EST. She hopes you can come by and visit! Just click on the link below to RSVP – Dana will soon be announcing guest authors, there will be prizes, Q&A with some of your favorite authors, and lots of FUN. So whether you can pop in for 10 minutes or all 4 hours, Dana hopes to see you there!Here’s the Facebook Forced Disappearance.

Click HERE to sign up for the FORCED DISAPPEARANCE Facebook party.

•••••••••••••••••••••

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date November 18, 2014

When wealthy American businessman Glenn Danning goes missing in Venezuela, investigator Miranda Soto volunteers to track him down. It’s her first assignment for the Civilian Personnel Recovery Unit, but this mission is about more than salvaging the remnants of her shattered military career. Glenn was Miranda’s best friend and first lover, and she’ll do anything to save him from danger…especially since she just lost everything that mattered to her.

Glenn barely survived being kidnapped and tortured as a suspected spy, but the shock of seeing Miranda again gives him a new lease on life. Their still-simmering attraction grows hotter as the couple races through the treacherous jungle. Determined to reach safe ground, they must stay alive long enough to stop the terrifying enemy who still hunts Glenn. And even if they survive, Miranda’s dark past could jeopardize their future together…

••••••••••••••••

Who doesn’t like the geeky guy in college who grows into a multimillionaire hottie? Glenn Danning is a wealthy American who is traveling in Venezuela for pleasure or business, we don’t know. A FORCED DISAPPEARANCE by Dana Marton opened my eyes to a phenomenon that is happening worldwide. Americans are “disappearing” in countries that are not friendly with the United States. They are accused of being political or business spies, sometimes ransomed back or they just disappear…….

Miranda Soto has been dishonorably discharged from the military and she wants a second chance. She works for a government agency called Civilian Personnel Recovery Unit. This assignment is personal. Miranda and Glenn knew each other at MIT and they were each other’s “firsts”! Glenn asked to touch her breasts, purely a scientific experiment and that led to a college relationship. Miranda leaves him and joins the military and Glenn still pictures her in his mind during his kidnapping and torture. Yes, poor Glenn is tortured by the Venezuelans for information and that first chapter was horrific. I am a wimp and I sure could picture each horrific detail due to the writing talent of Ms. Marton! Luckily, there is a secondary character, Winky the monkey that softens some of these scenes.

No one thinks that Miranda can track Glenn down, except for the Venezuelan agents that are “helping” her with her investigation. Glenn had escaped on his own and was on his way to Brazil when Miranda ruins everything and finds him! Their adventures on the run are fast paced and very “edge of your seat”. Yes, I read this novel in one sitting! I couldn’t put it down until I found out who betrayed Glenn and if the couple would reunite! College was a long time ago and both of them had been married to other people. Miranda even had a child! Miranda has a lot of secrets, especially concerning why she was dishonorably discharged and the fate of her family. Those back stories were heartbreaking at times.

FORCED DISAPPEARANCE is for the suspense and military lovers. It’s very fast paced and for a genre that I normally would not pick up, I loved it! Who knew? I loved both Glenn and Miranda and the way their minds work together out in the jungle! That couple had great teamwork! I will definitely read more of Dana’s novels! Enjoy!

Copy supplied by the author

Reviewed by Jules C

Excerpt beige

 

 

THE NEW GLENN WAS DEFINITELY NOT LIKE THE OLD GLENN, MIRANDA
thought as she woke in his arms at dawn, pressed against his wide
chest, soaking up the heat of his hard body.
He’d been a nerdy engineering student. Okay, they’d both been
pretty socially awkward. She’d had braces. He’d had thick, hornedrimmed
glasses. They met in Engineering Principles 101, bonded
over receiving the two highest grades at midterms.
They’d become study buddies first, then lovers after a few
months and a lot of awkward kisses and groping sessions in dark
corners. It had been the first time for the both of them.
“Good morning.” His rusty voice in her ear interrupted her trip
down memory lane.
As soon as he pulled away from her and rolled onto his back,
she missed his heat. Ridiculous. She didn’t need him. She briskly
shoved herself away from the platform. “Fire?”
He sat up and stretched. “We should dry off.”
The makeshift roof had kept most of the night rain off them,
but their clothes were damp.
She dragged out the dry wood they’d stored under the platform,
then grabbed a couple of cigarettes for tinder and started a
fire while Glenn got up and took off his shirt.
He shook off the leaves that had stuck to it, and a couple of
inch-long ants. She brushed off her own shirt, grateful to see that
the ants had left her alone. She blew on the fledgling fire, then
looked up at him.
He was stretching with his back to her, his arms above his head
as he bent at the waist to the right first, then to the left.
Holy mother. The new and improved Glenn had a body that
could have been in one of those firemen pinup calendars. Impressive
cords of muscles flexed under his skin.
“What do you do?” she blurted.
He turned, cocking an eyebrow. “I manage the family company.”
“No, I meant . . .” His sculpted chest distracted her, the faint
smattering of hair that started below his bellybutton and led into
the pants that were a size too large for him, held up only by what
looked like a bamboo rope belt. The waistband sat below his hips
and revealed enough for her to know he wasn’t wearing underwear.
She snapped her gaze back to his. “You look different. Do you
do sports?” Back in the day they used to make fun of the hotshot
football players. If he told her he’d turned into a jock since, she
might just faint into the fire.
He shrugged. “I swim. The pool is a good place to think. I don’t
have to pay much attention, just stay in my lane and keep going.”
“You didn’t used to be sporty.”
“The better health, the fewer sick days, the less time away from
the company.”
Of course. All very logical, very much like him. Nothing geeky
about his swimmer’s body, though—flat abs, great pecs, wide
shoulders.
He stepped forward. “Are you okay? We should find some food.”
Her expression was probably off, but not from hunger.
She looked away from him, tossing another handful of
branches on the fire, and the flames grew. He came closer to hold
his shirt up to the heat. She shifted forward so her clothes would
dry too. She definitely wasn’t stripping.
The sky was still dim, but the fire provided enough light to illuminate
more than the impressive outline of his body. She could do
little but stare at the puckered scars that marred his skin, the rows
of burn marks along his collarbones.
She swallowed, anger rising swiftly. “How badly did they hurt
you?” He shook out his shirt one more time, then shrugged into it, sat
across the fire from her. His mouth tightened as he looked toward
his feet. “No permanent damage.”
“What about the burns? I’m sure they still hurt.”
His expression darkened. “Sometimes the commander smoked
cigars. He liked using me for an ashtray.”
Her stomach clenched. He was half a head taller and nearly twice
as wide in the shoulders, yet she felt her protective instincts take over.
She’d been a soldier, her job to keep America and Americans safe. She
doubted that instinct would ever go away. She wanted to . . . What? Hug
him? Maybe.
She wished she could have come sooner. Her heart twisted at the
thought of what he’d been through in the past few weeks.
She drew a deep breath. Regrets were a waste of time. She was
here now. She was going to do whatever it took to get them back to
the US safely. She popped to her feet with a new burst of energy. “We
should get going.”
“Right.” He brightened at the prospect of leaving the forest
behind. “Let’s do this before the soldiers get all caffeinated.”
She groaned. “Don’t bring up coffee.”
“Remember the wickedly strong espresso in the main hall at MIT?”
She threw a stick at him. “Sadist.” Then she kicked dirt on the
fire while he packed up, laughing at her.
As they moved out, a monkey screeched in the trees above
them, so close it startled her.
Glenn looked up. “Winky?”
“Who?” She followed his gaze.
“My old buddy. We were POWs together. He followed me
when I escaped.” Glenn grinned. “He goes off, then comes back. I
have no idea how he finds me.”
“He probably thinks you’re part of his tribe.” She shook her
head. “He came with you from Guri?”
“He was caged in the courtyard, target practice for the soldiers.
I couldn’t leave him.”
Okay, that was the Glenn she knew, the one with the big heart.
She felt herself softening, so she picked up her pace.
They walked a full hour, Winky following them, jumping from
tree to tree, before they reached the end of the woods. Only a dirt
road separated them from the nearest houses, little more than
hovels, on the edge of the city. Not a difficult distance, but two
guardsmen sat in a military SUV a few hundred feet to their right.
Roberto had the city on lockdown.
Miranda gestured toward the men with her head. Glenn nodded,
and they silently retreated a hundred feet.
“We’ll go around them, then try again in a little while,” she said.
The authorities couldn’t have enough people to circle the entire city,
could they?
He followed when she moved on.
They didn’t talk much. Better not to be overheard if there were
soldiers in the woods. And the going required their full attention.
They had to watch where they stepped, what they grabbed.
Since they were moving as quietly as possible, they heard the
people up ahead before the people could have heard them. Miranda
raised her right hand, her fist in line with her ear.
Though he’d never been in the military, Glenn seemed to get
the signal because he immediately stopped.
She turned back and mouthed, “Soldiers.”
Even as he nodded, they heard laughter and a woman’s voice,
too faint to make out what she was saying.
They crept forward slowly, carefully, crouching in the cover of
a thick stand of bushes once they reached the path. Twenty or so
tourists were walking through the woods, escorted by two guardsmen.
The tourists wore backpacks, looking prepared for a full day
of hiking.
“Are you going up in the plane to see Angel Falls tomorrow?” a
tall, aristocratic-looking woman asked in a British accent.
Her partner, a pudgy, red-headed fellow, shook his head. “I
think I’ll stay back at lodgings to download the photos and sort
through them a bit.” He was snapping pictures even as he spoke.
“Do you think the guards are necessary?” the woman asked.
The man shrugged as he moved on. “They’re worried about
the two fugitives the tour guide told us about this morning. Better
safe than sorry.”
The guards trailed behind them, bringing up the rear.
Miranda flashed Glenn a questioning look. If there were
guardsmen with the tourists, then they had to be all over the city.
How many National Guards had Roberto called into Santa Elena?
Her stomach growled. Glenn had to be hungry too. She
looked after the small group as they disappeared from sight on
the winding path. The nearest food was in those backpacks. And
maybe a phone too. If she could call Elaine at the office, they
might yet be saved. The general could enter some kind of diplomatic
negotiations if he had proof that two US citizens were here
under duress.
She nodded after the tour group and whispered, “Breakfast
and phone.”
Glenn’s lips stretched into a grin.
God, that grin could do things to her. She swallowed. Could.
As in the past. Definitely not now.
They followed the group at a distance. The monkey screeched
now and then, but the sound wasn’t out of place, blending in with
birdcalls. Nobody turned back to investigate.
The tourists fawned over every new plant, snapped photos of
every leaf and bug. Miranda kept close to them, but out of sight.
At some point, the group would have to stop to eat and relieve
themselves, if nothing else. Sooner or later, those backpacks would
come off and be set on the ground. And a clever hand reaching out
from the bushes might come up with something useful then. She
just had to wait.
So they did, for two full hours, before the boisterous group
stopped at last in the middle of a clearing. Backpacks did drop to
the ground, but nowhere near where one could be raided.
The tour guide stood on a stump to gain everyone’s attention.
“We have the third-highest woody bamboo diversity in Latin
America.” He spoke in English with a soft accent, beaming with
pride. “About ten genera and sixty species. Among our states, the
southern states have the greatest diversity of woody bamboo.”
One of the tourists raised a hand as if in school. “Could you
tell us more about the different species?” he asked in a heavy German
accent.
“Certainly.” The man on the stump smiled even wider. “Most
of the bamboo are Myriocladus or Chusquea. The rest are from
the genera Rhipidocladum, Atractantha, Guadua, Arthrostylidium,
Neurolepis, Elytrostachys, Merostachys‚ and Aulonemia.” His chest
puffed out. “We have more Guadua diversity than any other country
except Brazil.”
An excited twitter ran through the group. Miranda flashed
Glenn an unimpressed look. Apparently, they’d run into botanists
on holiday.
“Does bamboo play a major role in the economy?” a young
woman wanted to know, her lilting accent decidedly French.
“Unfortunately, no. Not yet,” the guide answered. “Other than
the bamboo spoons and bowls and other souvenirs you see in the
gift shops, our bamboo resources are underutilized. But the government
is conducting studies on how we could better use bamboo
as a natural resource.”
He paused before he went on. “Of course, the indigenous people
and the peasants build houses from it. It’s also used for drying
racks for tobacco. But bamboo-based organic textiles are becoming
popular. And bamboo flooring is catching on. Unlike hardwood,
bamboo is an easily replenished resource.”
He went on about that for another twenty minutes before the
group moved on. His last words were, “I’ll point out species and
genera as we go.”
Oh, jeez, let’s get the party started, Miranda thought. But the
tourists looked positively titillated, while she and Glenn exchanged
snarky expressions. Back at MIT, there’d been a friendly rivalry
between the engineering and life sciences departments. They’d
enjoyed outdoing each other in the Nerd Olympics.
The tourists soon came into an enormous stand of bamboo.
They followed a man-made path, but off the beaten track, the stalks
grew too close to each other. In places, Miranda and Glenn could
barely squeeze through.
When forward movement became impossible, they waited
until the group progressed far enough ahead, then they fought
their way to the path and followed behind, out of sight.
Another two hours passed by the time the group stopped
again, on the other side of the endless stand of bamboo, where a
zip-line course waited for them in the trees. Miranda and Glenn
went around them, stayed in cover as the tourists dropped their
backpacks, climbed a rope ladder to a large platform twenty feet off
the ground, then to a second platform twenty feet above that, then
a third platform twenty feet higher yet.
While they lined up for their next thrilling experience, the two
guardsmen stayed on the ground.
“I distract the guards, you grab some food and a cell phone,”
Miranda whispered to Glenn.
“I’ll distract the guards.”
Seriously? He needed to exert his male dominance now? She
rolled her eyes and skirted the clearing, moving as close to the
bags as possible. Then she waited until she heard some stomping
and branches cracking across the clearing in the woods.
The guardsmen grabbed their rifles and ran toward the sound.
She waited until they disappeared into the bushes before she
sprinted forward. One second. In the first bag she found a large,
empty Ziploc bag with crumbs, probably the remains of somebody’s
breakfast.
Nobody was going to miss an empty bag. She grabbed it. Two
seconds. She looked for opened bags of food—pretzels, nuts, bitesize
nutrition bars, raisins—and grabbed a handful from each,
dumping her loot into the empty bag. At least half a minute ticked
by, but by the end she had at least two pounds’ worth of trail mix,
and in such a way that nobody would miss anything.
She was elbow deep into a fancy black backpack when a tourist—
the young Frenchwoman—climbed down the rope ladder and
nearly caught her.
Heart pumping, Miranda jumped behind the tree, the trunk at
least three feet wide, enough to hide her.
She peeked toward the bags. Oh, man. The flap on the fancy
black backpack lay open. She hadn’t closed it. She pulled back into
cover since the woman was heading straight toward the pile.
Would she notice?
Would she stay down here?
Miranda held her breath. If the woman stayed and the guardsmen
came back . . . They’d notice her. If not immediately, then
when the rest of the botanists returned to the ground and began
milling around. She could stay on the opposite side of the tree
from one person. It’d be impossible with twenty people spreading
out.
Shit.
Think!
Were the guardsmen authorized to shoot on sight, or had they
been ordered to bring the fugitives back? Either way, she suspected
the end result would be very similar.
The woman sat on the pile of backpacks and drank deeply from
her water bottle, even as Miranda could hear voices in the bushes
where the guardsmen had disappeared. The voices grew louder as
the seconds ticked on. The men were coming back.
She glanced toward the woods. If she ran now, the woman
would see her. She’d probably scream. The guardsmen would be
after Miranda the next second. Poised to flee, she pulled out her
weapon, hoping Glenn was smart enough to run in the opposite
direction and save himself once gunfire erupted.
But the Frenchwoman stashed away her drink at last and hurried
back to the ladder, climbing back up with agility.
The guardsmen were still shouting to each other in the bushes.
So the second the French tourist was on the first platform, Miranda
dashed back to the backpacks. She wanted a cell phone, desperately.
She closed the bag she’d left open earlier, then searched the
outer pockets. Nothing there, but she found a phone in the second
bag she checked. As she tugged it out, her sleeve caught on
the zipper of a pink hygiene kit. Would the owner notice if it
went missing? Possibly not until she got back to the hostel. Most
likely, she would think it had fallen out during her trek through
the jungle.
Miranda grabbed the kit and dashed back into the cover of the
woods, not a moment too soon. The guardsmen were returning, all
muddied up and swearing, talking about a stupid monkey.
She hurried back to Glenn, feeling a hundred percent better
about their chances.
They had food and they had a phone. They were as good as
saved.

 

About The Author beige

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Dana Marton has thrilled and entertained millions of readers around the globe with her fast-paced stories about strong women and honorable men who fight side by side for justice and survival.

Dana MartonHer writing has been acclaimed by critics, called, “gripping,” “intense and chilling,” “full of action,” “a thrilling adventure,” and wholeheartedly recommended to readers. Dana is the winner of the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence, the Readers’ Choice Award, and Best Intrigue, among other awards. Her book, TALL, DARK, AND LETHAL was nominated for the prestigious Rita Award. DEATHSCAPE reached the #1 spot on Amazon’s Romantic Suspense Bestseller list.

Dana has a Master’s degree in Writing Popular Fiction, and is continuously studying the art and craft of writing, attending several workshops, seminars and conferences each year. Her number one goal is to bring the best books she possibly can to her readers.

Keeping in touch with readers is Dana’s favorite part of being an author. Please connect with her via her web site (www.danamarton.com) or her Facebook page (www.facebook.com/danamarton).

Having lived around the world, Dana currently creates her compelling stories in a small and lovely little town in Pennsylvania. The fictional town of her bestselling Broslin Creek series is based on her real life home where she fights her addictions to reading, garage sales, coffee and chocolate. If you know a good twelve-step program to help her with any of that, she’d be interested in hearing about it!

Website: https://danamarton.com/   sign up for her newsletter and get a FREE novella!
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DanaMarton
Twitter:   @DanaMarton
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/danamarton

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Work of Art -The Inspiration 1 by Ruth Clampett-Review and Blog Tour

Work of Art-The Inspiration 1 by Ruth Clampett-Review and Blog Tour

Work of Art
The Inspiration #1
by Ruth Clampett
Genre: adult, contemporary, romance
Release Date: November 4, 2014

Work of Art

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / Amazon.uk/ Barnes and Noble / The Book Depository

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date November 4, 2014

Click HERE for the WORK OF ART: The Inspiration trailer

In a life driven by passion, famed artist Maxfield Caswell lives in a world of brilliant color and drama, pushing his art and affairs to his emotional edge. He’s stunning, charismatic and celebrated in the art world, but are the trappings of fame also destroying him?

For years intelligent and bright-eyed Ava Jacobs has worked diligently toward a career in the art world. Ava is swept off her feet when she meets the passionate artist. She soon realizes, however, that he’s on a destructive path—one she doesn’t intend to join him on.

In the decadent world of patrons, art groupies, and predators, feisty and beautiful Ava knocks Max off his pedestal. A stunned Max sees something special in Ava and offers her an opportunity she can’t refuse. As their lives and passions collide, will he realize that she alone has the power to heal him? Can their hearts come together to create their own work of art?

•••••••••••••••••

REVIEW: WORK OF ART-The Inspiration is the first installment in Ruth Clampett’s remarkable Work of Art contemporary, adult, romance series focusing on tormented and troubled artist Maxfield Caswell and art graduate/writer Ava Jacobs. Told from Ava’s point of view, the reader is pulled into the haunting reality of one woman’s need to protect and defend a man who is quickly spiraling out of control.

The premise follows Ava and Max’s building relationship-a friends only relationship –that becomes complicated rather quickly when Ava becomes the muse to Max’s art. When Ava is hired to write the text for Max’s coffee table art book, Max’s obsession with Ava heightens their sexual attraction to one another, of which Ava refuses to admit. It will be Ava’s defiance in the face of the obvious that will send a despondent Max over the edge when she refuses to acknowledge that there is something more between them.

Max is a man possessed; an enigma; a tortured soul with a fragile ego and an even more fragile mind. Max’s lighter moments are juxtaposed with his darker personality such that his own life is a canvas of black on white where the dark begins to bleed outside of the lines. His art is his passion but his life is an endless parade of alcohol and sex. With his reputation in ruins, Ava will become both Max’s savior and his destruction when she is unable to keep his demons away.

There is a tentative love triangle woven throughout the story. Ava plays a dangerous game of cat and mouse where the heart will be the biggest loser of all. These moments of aggravation did little to help Ava’s cause. As Max tries to keep his distance, Ava will try to focus on who and what it is she truly wants. In the end, Ava will push Max too far and it will be her heart that will be the first to fall.

The secondary characters are colorful, fascinating and startlingly real. From co-workers and fellow artists to the industry players, we get a glimpse at the behind the scenes struggles of an artist whose emotional stability is deteriorating one brush stroke at a time.

The romance is limited as Ava and Max dance around one another most of the book. There are no sex scenes or graphic sexual imagery but the are moments of sensuality and passion.

WORK OF ART –The Inspiration is a passionate and intense story that will seduce your mind. The artistic imagery and references bring a reality to the text as the reader is guided through a gallery of who’s who in the world of art. Ruth Clampett paints a story with her imagination just as an artist paints a picture with color and inspiration.

Copy supplied by the tour operator.

Reviewed by Sandy

about the author

Connect with Ruth: GoodreadsWebsiteTwitterFacebook

Ruth ClampettRuth Clampett, daughter of legendary animation director, Bob Clampett, has spent a lifetime surrounded by art and animation. A graduate of Art Center College of Design, her careers have included graphic design, photography, VP of Design for WB Stores and teaching photography at UCLA. She now runs her own studio as the fine art publisher for Warner Bros. where she’s had the opportunity to know and work with many of the greatest artists in the world of animation and comics.

The Work of Art Trilogy is Ruth’s third publishing endeavor, following Animate Me and Mr. 365. She lives in Los Angeles and is heavily supervised by her teenage daughter, lovingly referred to as Snarky, who loves art and visiting museums as much as her mom.

 

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Darkness Unbound by Zoe Forward – Review & Giveaway

Darkness Unbound by Zoe Forward – Review & Giveaway

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Darkness Unbound
Scimitar Magi – Book #3
by Zoe Forward
Release Date: November 21, 2014

Darkness UnboundAmazon / Kobo

Description:
Covert op partners Astrid Scarre and Kane Langford click on a level that defies logic. Astrid wants to say yes to the sexy Kane. But the guy who stole her heart and then shattered her soul twelve years ago shows up. Seeing the Dragon magus, Zannis, again ignites a wild physical attraction, but doesn’t eliminate her simmering hatred. Astrid is torn between her physical need for Zannis and her emotional connection to Kane.

Kane will never turn his back on Astrid, even when she gets inducted into the Scimitar magi, an organization he knows well and respects. His gorgeous ex-spy partner might push him away at every turn, but that’s too bad. He’s exactly the man she needs to protect her life and her heart. All he has to do is convince her that when something feels this right, you don’t let it go.

 

Review

Darkness Unbound by Zoe Forward is the 3rd book in her Scimitar Magi series. Having read and enjoyed the first two books in this series, I was looking forward to this book. Astrid is our heroine and she is the only female magus. Astrid is a great new kickass heroine, who over the course of the book continues to become even more powerful. Her covert op partner, Kane has been her friend, backup and the one she dreams about at night. But when Astrid becomes a Scimitar magi, she has to leave Kane. In case you have not read my reviews or this series, the Scimitar Magus are immortal warriors, who are guardians to protect humans against the evil Daemons.

12 years before, she met Zannis a Dragon magus, who came out of nowhere to comfort her, as he recognized something about her. What followed was a wild night of passion, with each knowing they were meant for each other. Zannis shortly disappeared into his time, and when Astrid met up with him again through a portal, which only she has the ability to open, he stabs her through the heart with a sword.

In present time, when Astrid is in danger fighting Dameons, she crys for help and opens the portal. Zannis with her invitation comes to her rescue. He explains what happened before when she was hurt was out of his control, and the fires between them ignite again. But when Zannis go back to his time, Astrid finds out he was killed.

The opens the door for Kane to join the Scimitar Magi, and work again with Astrid. Rather then give spoilers, there is more to this relationship between Astrid and the two men, Zannis and Kane. Interesting concept, which did confuse me at first. There are quite a few twists here.

Besides the hot sexy scenes between Astrid and her two men, this was an exciting action packed story. We follow Astrid as she must prove herself to the other members of the Scimitar Magi, as well as the leader, Ashor, who was the hero in the first book. Besides her ability to open portals, allowing them to escape bad situations, Astrid learns from other gods about her other powers and her true destination.

It was great to see Ashor, Kira, Shay, Dakar, and the rest of the team again. There was some fun moments, sexy moments, and an overall exciting story. I really enjoy this series, as Zoe Forward does a fabulous job of continuing the flow and excitement with each new story. If you have not read this series, I suggest you do so.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Author

 

theauthor

Zoe ForwardZoe Forward is a hopeless romantic who can’t decide between paranormal and urban fantasy romance. So, she writes both. In addition to being a mom to one rambunctious kindergartener and wife to a conservation ecologist who plans to save all the big cats on the planet, she’s a small animal veterinarian caring for all the small furries, although there is the occasional hermit crab.

When she’s not madly typing at her laptop, she’s tying on a karate belt for her son or cleaning up the newest pet mess from the menagerie that occupies her house. She’s madly in love with her globe trotting husband of ten years and happy when he returns to their home base in North Carolina.

 Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads



giveaway

Zoe is graciously offering an e-copy of DARKNESS UNBOUND to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.

1. If you have not previously registered at The Reading Cafe, please register by using the log-in at the top of the page (side bar) or by using one of the social log-ins.

2. If you are using a social log-in, please post your email address with your comment.

3. Please LIKE us on FACEBOOK and click GET NOTIFICATIONS

4. Please LIKE us on Twitter for an additional entry.

5. Please LIKE us on GOODREADS  for an additional entry.

6. Please LIKE  Zoe Forward on FACEBOOK.

7. Giveaway is Internationally

8. Giveaway runs from November 21- 25,  2014

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Letting Go (Thatch #1) by Molly McAdams-Review and Blog Tour

Letting Go (Thatch #1) by Molly McAdams-Review and Blog Tour

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Letting Go
Thatch #1
by Molly McAdams
Genre: contemporary, new adult, romance
Release Date: November 4, 2014

Letting Go

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LETTING GO (Thatch #1) by Molly McAdams

RELEASE DATE: November 4, 2014

Grey and Ben fell in love at thirteen and believed they’d be together forever. But three days before their wedding, the twenty-year-old groom-to-be suddenly died from an unknown heart condition, destroying his would-be-bride’s world. If it hadn’t been for their best friend, Jagger, Grey never would have made it through those last two years to graduation. He’s the only one who understands her pain, the only one who knows what it’s like to force yourself to keep moving when your dreams are shattered. Jagger swears he’ll always be there for her, but no one has ever been able to hold on to him. He’s not the kind of guy to settle down.

It’s true that no one has ever been able to keep Jagger—because he’s only ever belonged to Grey. While everyone else worries over Grey’s fragility, he’s the only one who sees her strength. Yet as much as he wants Grey, he knows her heart will always be with Ben. Still they can’t deny the heat that is growing between them—a passion that soon becomes too hot to handle. But admitting their feelings for each other means they’ve got to face the past. Is being together what Ben would have wanted . . . or a betrayal of his memory that will eventually destroy them both.

•••••••••••••••••••

REVIEW: LETTING GO is the first installment in Molly McAdams’ contemporary, new adult Thatch romance series focusing on the town of Thatch. This is Grey LaRue and Jagger Easton’s story. LETTING GO is a friends to lovers storyline, one brought about by the death of Grey’s fiancé two years earlier.

Told from alternating first person points of view (Grey and Jagger) the focus of the storyline finds Grey and Jagger existing following the unexpected death of Grey’s fiancé and Jagger’s best friend-twenty year old Benjamin Craft. Fast forward two years, and we get a glimpse of Grey’s life in the months following the death of her best friend and soon to be husband Ben. While Grey mires in the depression and guilt, Jagger is the rock that prevents Grey from completely falling away. As their graduation day approaches, Grey’s depression and guilt worsens as the date would coincide with what would have been her two year wedding anniversary.

The relationship between Grey and Jagger is one of best friends to lovers but also one that is co-dependent upon one another’s strengths and weakness. Grey is a young woman who is unable to let go of the past or let go of the memories, and in this the relationship and love between Grey and Jagger is a ‘love triangle’ of sorts with Ben’s ghost as the third party. Jagger is a man who has loved Grey since he was nine years old, but knowing his best friend Ben had also fallen in love with Grey, Jagger stepped aside and watched what could have been his love-from the sidelines. Our trio of friends were as close as any trio could be, yet there were secrets and betrayals that had yet to be revealed. The intimate and seductive sex scenes are limited and mostly implied. There is no graphic erotic sexual imagery or language.

The premise follows Grey and Jagger’s building relationship, one that is hindered by the memories of Benjamin Craft. But as Grey and Jagger’s love blossoms, threatening notes and a ghost from the past begin to haunt our couple’s daily lives. It is only when the police get involved does the truth finally reveal.

LETTING GO is an emotional, angst ridden, intense and passionate storyline about letting go and moving on. Jagger’s family is about as dysfunctional as any family can be while Grey’s family is supportive and a little bit over protective. There is betrayal, heartbreak and awkward moments especially where Jagger’s family is concerned and it is his family that drives a good portion of the drama once our couple move back to town.

Molly McAdams has an incredible gift of story telling but at times the angst and anxiety was a little too much. Although one can never put a timeline on grief, Grey’s continuous wallowing in self-pity pushed a few anxious buttons for this reader but in the end, there is a happily ever after for two people whose lives were destroyed by the death of a lover and friend.

Copy supplied by the publisher

Reviewed by Sandy

 

excerpt

 

 

 

Prologue

Grey May 10, 2012
“Then over there is where the girls and I will be waiting before the ceremony starts,” I said, pointing to the all-seasons tent just off to the side. “I think the coordinator said she’d get us in there when the photographer is taking pictures of Ben and the boys on the other side house, so he won’t see me.”
I glanced to my mom and soon-to-be mother-in-law talking about the gazebo behind me, and what it would look like with the greenery and flowers, and I smiled to myself. They’d been going back and forth on whether we should keep the gazebo as it was or decorate it ever since Ben and I had decided on The Lake House as our wedding and reception site. And from the few words I was hearing now, they were still undecided. I honestly didn’t care how it was decorated. I wanted to be married to Ben, and in three days, I would be.
“Grey, this place is freaking gorgeous. I can’t believe you were able to get it on such short notice,” my maid-of-honor and best friend, Janie, said in awe.
“I know, but it’s perfect, right?”
“Absolutely perfect.”
I grabbed her hand and rested my head on her shoulder as I stared at the part of the property where the reception would be. Ben and I had promised our families that we wouldn’t get married until we’d graduated from college, but that had been a much harder promise to keep than we’d thought it would be. School let out for summer a few days ago, and we wanted to move off campus for our junior year … together. That hadn’t exactly gone over well with my parents. They didn’t want us living together until we were married. I think in my dad’s mind it helped him continue to believe I was his innocent little girl.
I’d been dating Ben since I was thirteen years old; the innocent part flew out the window over three years ago. Not that he needed to know that. After a long talk with both our parents, they agreed to let us get married now instead of two years from now.
That was seven weeks ago. Even though Ben had asked me to marry him last Christmas, we’d officially gotten engaged once we’d received the okay from our parents, and had started planning our wedding immediately. Seven weeks of being engaged. Seven years of being together. And in three days I would finally be Mrs. Benjamin Craft.
With how the last few weeks had dragged by, it felt like our day would never get here.
My phone rang and I pulled it out of my pocket. My lips tilted up when I saw Jagger’s name and face on the screen, but I ignored the call. Putting my phone back in my pocket, I kept my other hand firmly wrapped around Janie’s and walked over to where the rest of the bridesmaids were. My aunts and grandma had gathered around the gazebo-debating duo, and were helping them with the pros and cons.
“So what are we going to do tonight?” I asked, hoping to get some kind of information about the bachelorette party.
“Nice try.” Janie snorted. She started saying something else, but my phone rang again.
Glancing down and seeing Jagger again, I thought about answering it for a few seconds before huffing out a soft laugh and ignoring the call a second time. I knew why he was calling. He was bored out of his mind and wanted me to save him from the golf day Ben and all the guys were having before the bachelor party. Normally I would have saved him from the torture of golfing, but today was about Ben. If he wanted to go golfing with all his guys, then Jagger just had to suck it up for his best friend.
Almost immediately after ignoring the call, I got a text from him.
Jagger: Answer the goddamn phone Grey!
My head jerked back when the phone in my hand began ringing just as soon as I’d read the message, and all I could do was stare at it for a few seconds. A feeling of dread and unease formed in my chest, quickly unfurling and spreading through my arms and stomach.
Some part of my mind registered two other ringtones, but I couldn’t focus on them, or make myself look away from Jagger’s lopsided smile on my screen. With a shaky finger, I pressed on the green button, and brought the phone up to my ear.
Before I could say anything, his panicked voice filled the phone.
“Grey? Grey! Are you there? Fuck, Grey, say something so I know you’re there!”
There was a siren and yelling in the background, and the feeling that had spread through my body now felt like it was choking me. I didn’t know what was happening, but somehow … somehow I knew my entire world was about to change. My legs started shaking and my breaths came out in hard rushes.
“I—what’s happ—” I cut off quickly and turned to look at my mom and Ben’s. Both had phones to their ears. Ben’s mom was screaming with tears falling down her cheeks; my mom looked like the ground had just been ripped out from underneath her.
Jagger was talking, I knew his voice was loud and frantic, but I was having trouble focusing on the words. It sounded like he was yelling at me from miles away.
“What?” I whispered.
Everyone around me was freaking out, trying to figure out what was going on. One of my friends was asking who I was talking to, but I couldn’t even turn to look at her, or be sure who it was that had asked. I couldn’t take my eyes off the only other women currently talking on a phone.
“Grey! Tell me where you are, I’m coming to get you!”
I blinked a few times and looked down at my lap. I was sitting on the ground. When had I sat down?
Janie squatted in front of me and grabbed my shoulders to shake me before grabbing my cheeks so I would look at her instead of where my mom and Ben’s were clinging to each other.
“What?” I repeated, my voice barely audible.
Just before Janie took the phone from me, I heard a noise that sounded weighted and pained. A choking sound I’d never heard from Jagger in the eleven years we’d been friends. The grief in it was enough to force a sharp cry from my own chest, and I didn’t even struggle against Janie when she took the phone from me.
I didn’t understand anything that was happening around me, but somehow I knew everything. A part of me had heard Jagger’s words. A part of me understood what the horrified cries meant that quickly spread throughout every one of my friends. My family. Ben’s family. A part of me acknowledged the sense of loss that had added to the dread, unease, and grief—and knew why it was there.
A part of me knew the wedding I’d just been envisioning would never happen.
Chapter 1
Two years later…

Grey May 10, 2014
I dressed in a fog and sat down on the side of my bed when I was done. Grabbing the hard top of the graduation cap, I looked down at it in my hands until the tears filling my eyes made it impossible to see anything other than blurred shapes. I knew I had to leave, but at that moment I didn’t care.
I didn’t care that I’d done my make up for the first time in two years and I was ruining it. I didn’t care that I was graduating from college. I didn’t care that I had already been running twenty minutes late before I’d sat down.
I just didn’t care.
Falling to my side, I grabbed the necklace that hadn’t left my neck once in the last couple years, and pulled it out from under my shirt until I was gripping the wedding band I’d bought for Ben. The one he should be wearing, but I hadn’t been able to part with—almost like I’d needed to keep some part of him with me.
The last year had been easier to get through than the one before it. I hadn’t needed my friends constantly trying to get me to do my schoolwork. I hadn’t needed Janie pulling me out of bed every morning, forcing me to shower and dress for the day. I’d even taken off my engagement ring and put it away a few months ago. But exactly two years ago today, I’d been showing off the place where I was going to marry Ben. Completely oblivious to anything bad in the world. And Ben had died.
At twenty years old, his heart had failed and he’d died before he’d even dropped to the ground on the golf course. He’d always seemed so active and healthy; nothing had ever picked up on the rare heart condition that had taken him too early. Doctors said it wasn’t something they could test for. I didn’t believe them then, and even though I’d read news articles of similar deaths in young people, I wasn’t sure if I did now. All I knew was that he was gone.
Heavy footsteps echoed through the hall of my apartment seconds before Jagger was standing in the doorway of my bedroom, a somber look on his face.
“How did I know you wouldn’t have made it out of here?” One corner of his mouth twitched up before falling again.
“I can’t do it,” I choked out, and tightened my hold on the ring. “How am I supposed to celebrate anything on a day that brought so much pain?”
Jagger took in a deep breath through his nose before releasing it and pushing away from the doorframe. Taking the few steps over to the bed, he sat down by my feet and stared straight ahead as silence filled the room.
“I honestly don’t know, Grey,” he finally said with a small shrug. “The only way I made it to my car and your apartment was because I knew Ben wanted this, and would still want it for us.”
“He was supposed to be here,” I mumbled.
“I know.”
“Our two-year anniversary would have been in a few days.”
There was a long pause before Jagger breathed, “I know.”
I stopped myself before I could go on. Nothing I would say right now would help either of us, not when all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball on the bed that was supposed to be our bed, and give into the grief. I had to remember that today wasn’t hard for only me. I hadn’t been the only one to lose him. Ben and Jagger had grown up together; they’d been best friends since they were six. And two years ago they’d been in the middle of a conversation when Jagger had looked over at Ben because he hadn’t answered, and watched as he fell.
“Jag?” I whispered.
“Yeah, Grey?”
“How do we do it?”
The bed shifted as he leaned forward to rest his forearms on his legs, turning his head so he could look at me. “Do what?”
“Keep moving on. I thought this year was easier, I thought I was doing better until this last week. And then today…” I drifted off, letting the words hang in the air for a few seconds before saying, “It’s like no time has passed. It’s like I’m right back where I was when you picked me up and took me to the hospital. I feel like my world has ended all over again. There are still some days where I don’t want to get out of bed, but not like this.”
“There isn’t an answer to that. Even if there were, it would be different for you, for me, for anyone else who’d ever been in this situation. I get up and keep going because I know I have something to live for, and I know it’s what he would want. I can’t think about how I’ll deal with the next day, I just take each day as it comes. There will always be hard days, Grey, always. We just need to take them with the good days, and keep living.”
“I feel like it’s cruel to his memory to move on,” I admitted softly a few minutes later.
“No one ever said we had to move on, we just need to keep moving.”
I met his gaze and held it as he stood up and turned, holding a hand out to me.
“You ready to move?” he asked, and the meaning in his question was clear.
“No,” I replied, but still held my hand out. Slipping my hand into his, I let him pull me off the bed, and wrapped my arms around his waist, dropping my head onto his chest.
Jagger folded his arms around me, and brought his head down near mine to speak softly in my ear. “Don’t think about next week, or tomorrow, or even tonight. Just focus on your right now. Right now we have to go to our graduation. Right now Ben would be flipping out because you would be making both of you late.”
I choked out a laugh, and a deep laugh rumbled in his chest.
“And you would tell him?” His question drifted off, waiting for my response.
“To get over it and bet him twenty bucks that we would still beat you there.”
This time his laugh was fuller, and he rubbed his hands over my back before stepping away from me. “Exactly. Then he would put an extra twenty on it, saying I would show up with fresh charcoal on my hands.”
“And face,” I added.
Jagger rolled his eyes. “That was one time.”
“It was to your mom’s wedding.”
“I didn’t like the guy anyway.” I smiled and his eyes darted over my face before he held his hands up. “No fresh charcoal, and we’ll show up at the same time. So no one wins today.”
I took a deep breath in and out, and nodded my head. “I think I’m ready to move now.”
“All right.” He bent forward and grabbed my cap and gown off the bed before turning to leave the room.
I followed him down the hall and into the living room, pausing in the entryway only long enough to look in the mirror and wipe away the streaked make up. Once we were in his car, I touched his forearm and waited for him to look over at me.
“Thanks, Jagger. For coming for me, for talking to me—just … thank you.” He had no idea how thankful I was for him, and I wouldn’t have known how to explain it if I tried. He was just always there to make things better, always there to help me … always there to be everything I needed.
He shook his head slowly once, and his green eyes stayed locked on mine. “Sometimes I need motivation to keep moving too. You don’t need to thank me, just let me know when you have to talk about him, okay?”
“Yeah.” Letting go of his arm, I sat back in the seat and grabbed the long chain holding Ben’s wedding band on it. Taking comfort in the feel of it in my palm, and the knowledge that he would be proud of Jagger and me right now.

I made it through the graduation without crying again, but I never felt like I was happy that it was happening. Even though Jagger had gotten me to a point where I’d been smiling and laughing, the second he’d left my side when we’d arrived, I’d fallen back into a state where I was constantly on the verge of crumbling from the grief of what today was. Only to be made worse when Janie had hugged me longer than normal, and then I’d seen my parents and older brother, and none of them had been able to force anything more than a strained smile and “congratulations.”
Lunch afterward didn’t prove to be much easier for anyone. One of my uncles mentioned the date and asked how I was dealing with it, and it had turned into some awkward hush-fest where everyone started kicking the other under the table, and giving them meaningful looks as if to say: shut the fuck up! For the next forty-five minutes, no one said a word. Not even a thank you to the waitress when she’d brought the food.
As much as I hated it, and as much as I loved my family, I was relieved when we’d said our goodbyes and my brother had driven me back to my apartment.
“You doing okay, kid?” he asked when he pulled into a parking space.
“Some days.”
“But not today.” It wasn’t a question, he knew.
“Yeah … not today,” I said softly.
“Do you want me to come up? I can hang out, crash here for the night, and head back tomorrow.”
“No, it’s fine. I didn’t really sleep last night, so I’ll probably go to bed when I get in there.”
“Grey, it’s four in the afternoon.” He looked at me with either pity or sympathy, neither I wanted to see.
“Today was kind of rough, it felt like three smashed into one, and like I said, I didn’t really sleep last night. I’m tired.”
He was silent for a minute before he twisted in his seat to face me. “I’m worried about you.”
I gritted my teeth and took calming breaths before saying, “You shouldn’t be. It’s been two years, I’m getting better.”
“Are you?” he asked on a laugh, but there was no humor in his tone. “I knew today would be hard for you, there’s no way for it not to be. But, shit, how much do you weigh?”
I jerked my head back. “What? I don’t know.”
“Do you look at yourself in the mirror? Do you see how you look in your clothes? You look like you’re wearing someone else’s clothes, and they’re a size or two too big.”
Glancing down at my shirt and skirt, I shook my head. “No they—well, I’m eating! You saw me at lunch, I ate half that burger.”
“No, Grey. I ate half your burger. You picked it up and put it down at least a dozen times before cutting it in half, and then picking up one of the halves only to put it back down. I watched you. You ate two fries. Nothing else.”
I tried to think back to the restaurant, but I couldn’t even remember ordering the burger, let alone cutting it. I just remembered half of it was gone when the waitress asked if I wanted a box. I’d said no. As for the clothes, today was the first time I’d actually done my hair or make-up in years. I usually just put on clothes and left, not caring to see how I looked.
“Well, what do you want me to say, Graham? I’m trying. You have no idea how hard it is to lose someone who has been a huge part of your world for over half your life. Who has owned your heart for most of that. Who you were supposed to marry days before they passed! You don’t understand what I’ve been through,” I seethed, and wiped at my wet cheeks. “I finished school, I’m living, what more do you want?”
“I want you to live, Grey.”
“I just said—”
“You’re existing,” he barked, cutting me off. “You’re existing, not living. You’re going through the motions you’re supposed to without realizing that you’re doing them, or why.”
“That’s not true!” I screamed. “You can’t judge me based on what you’ve seen of half a day. A day that is a horrible reminder of what happened.”
He grabbed my hand and squeezed, and when he spoke again, his voice was calm. “Kid, I’m not saying any of this only based off of what I’ve seen today. Janie’s worried about you—”
“Janie? Janie?! You’re having my friends keep tabs on me, Graham?”
“Grey—”
“How often do they check in with you? Huh? Do they only see me now so they can tell you how I’m doing? Because I don’t see them very much, but, then again, who the hell would want to be around someone who is just existing.”
“Grey!” he snapped when I opened the passenger door and jumped out of his truck.
“Screw you and your existing bullshit, Graham! I’m fine! I’m dealing the only way I know how, and I. Am. Fine.”
I didn’t care that I had tears streaming down my cheeks. I didn’t care that I was overreacting. I was overreacting because I was terrified he was right, and I didn’t want him to be. I was tired of everyone looking at me with sympathy or pity. I was tired of rooms getting quiet when I walked into them … still. I was tired of the way everyone seemed to walk on eggshells around me. And I was tired of feeling like I was giving them a reason to.
I took off for my building, ignoring Graham’s voice as he followed me from his truck. Grabbing my keys from my purse as I ran toward my apartment, I fumbled to find the right key so I could get in there before he could catch up with me. The keys slipped from my hand, and I reached out for them at the same time I tripped out of my sandals and hit the concrete on my hands and knees.
Ignoring the spilled contents of my purse, I rocked back so I was sitting on my heels, and let my head hang as hard sobs worked their way through my body.
Two large hands grabbed at my upper arms to help me up, and I swatted at him. “Leave me alone, Graham!” I cried.
“Shh. It’s okay,” a deep voice crooned. I lifted my head enough to see Jagger before letting him pull me into his arms. “It’s okay.”
I pressed my forehead into his chest, and shook my head back and forth. “It’s not. This day won’t end, and the way everyone is looking at me or talking to me is making me feel like I’m failing.”
“Failing?” he asked and tipped my head back, a soft smirk playing at his lips. “Hardly, Grey. I told you, you just gotta keep moving, and you are. You have been. You’re strong, not everyone sees that because they’re waiting for you to break. Just because they’re expecting you to not be handling this doesn’t mean you’re failing.”
“But they won’t talk about him, they won’t talk about what happened. Graham said I’m not eating, and I’m losing weight. He said Janie’s telling him that she’s worried about me. He said I’m just existing and going through the motions.”
“Fuck Graham. He’s wrong. He’s not with you every day to see how you’re improving.” Jagger’s green eyes bore into mine. “Your family hasn’t seen you much this year while you’ve been getting better, so they don’t know how to handle the situation—especially because of what today is and the fact that you are upset. He’s your brother, he’s going to be worried about you; but, Grey, don’t let him make you feel like you’re not doing better than you should be. Today is an exception. And he just happened to see you on an exception, all right?” His arms tightened around me, and he leaned back until he was pressed up against the wall. “You’re doing fine, I promise.”
He held me until I stopped crying, and released me when I pulled back.
“See? Fine.”
Today was making me question everything; I didn’t think I could agree with him on that. “What are you even doing here?”
“I thought you could use some company since it’s an exception day, but I’m gonna go so you can spend time with your brother,” he said, jerking his head at something behind me.
I looked over my shoulder to see Graham standing against the wall opposite us, his arms crossed over his chest, a strange look on his face. “How long has he been there?” I whispered to Jagger when I turned to face him again.
“The whole time.”
“So he heard you…” I had the sudden urge to stand up for Jagger. Graham had hated him ever since we’d become friends when we were nine. But, then again, he hadn’t really ever liked Ben until right before the wedding was supposed to happen, so it could have been an overprotective big brother thing.
“Yeah, but he knows I’m right.” Jagger’s eyes moved to look behind me, and one eyebrow rose in silent challenge, but Graham never said anything. “Go hang out with—”
“I don’t want to,” I said quickly, cutting him off. “I need to either be alone, or be with someone who knows what it’s like to force yourself to keep moving.”
He looked down at me for a few seconds before nodding. “Okay, let’s go.”
“We’re not staying here?” I asked when he bent down and started shoving things back into my purse.
“No. You want to keep moving, Grey. We can’t do that if we sit in that apartment all night.”
I took my purse from his hand, and turned to follow him out of the breezeway, Graham behind us the whole time. Jagger opened the passenger door of his car and shut it behind me after I’d slid in, and I met Graham’s stare from where he stood a few feet from the front of the car.
Graham’s hand shot out, gripping Jagger’s arm as he went to pass him, and I opened the door—ready for who knows what. It’s not like I could stop them if they went at it.
“Make sure she’s okay,” Graham demanded, his gaze hardening when Jagger ripped his arm free.
“What do you think I’ve been doing for the past two years?” he hissed. “She is okay, she’s better than okay. Today sucks for her, but you can’t treat her like she’s made of porcelain because it’s a bad fucking day. She needs to talk about him; she needs to talk about what happened. She doesn’t need the way you all stood there at the graduation staring at her like you had no idea who she was.”
“Do you see her?” Graham asked, getting closer. “Do you see how thin she is?”
“Yeah, I see her. I see her every day. She lost a lot of weight; she’s also put on weight in the last few months. Give her some fucking credit, Graham. Don’t just take Janie’s word for it—Janie isn’t around enough to give you updates on her. You want to know how your sister is doing, ask her yourself. Don’t tell her how she is.” Jagger didn’t wait for him to say anything else; he stalked around the hood of the car and slid in to the driver’s seat.
Graham looked like he couldn’t decide if he wanted to stop me from leaving with Jagger, or if he was relieved I was leaving. When I shut my door, he put a hand over his chest in our silent I love you, and kept his eyes trained on mine until I put my hand over my chest as well; nodding once as Jagger backed out of the spot.

Jagger May 10, 2014
I let my phone fall to the table, and sighed loudly as I rubbed my hands over my face. After driving around with the music blasting and windows down for a few hours, we’d come to one of the places we used to always go to before Ben died. They had live music on the weekends, and the best diner food in the area.
“Graham?” Grey guessed, and I grunted in confirmation.
“He just wanted to make sure you were okay.”
“You haven’t,” she began, but paused for a few seconds. “Have you been giving him updates too?”
“Seriously, Grey? Your brother hates me; I didn’t even know he had my number until a few minutes ago. Besides, if I had, he probably wouldn’t have said all that shit to you, and your family wouldn’t have acted like statues at the graduation.”
“I heard you say something about that to him before we left. So you noticed it too, huh?”
“Wasn’t hard to. My sister wanted to see you, but after we found you and saw the way they were all just staring at you, she was afraid to say anything.”
“Charlie was there? Were your mom and brother there, too?”
I stopped myself from rolling my eyes, and just shook my head instead. “No. Mom was probably busy with her new boyfriend or husband.”
Grey rolled her eyes at the mention of my mom’s boyfriends, and her lips tilted up in a soft smile. “I doubt that was the reason she didn’t show. But I wish Charlie had said something. I’ll have to call her this summer, or something. I haven’t seen her in forever.” Her mouth fell into a frown for a second before she turned to look at the stage when everyone clapped.
I hadn’t set foot in here in two years, and it felt strange, but good, to be in here again. Almost like I could see Ben sitting on the opposite side of the booth, right next to Grey. But just as soon as the memory hit me, it was gone. “Do you ever feel like he’s disappearing?” I asked suddenly.
Grey’s head shot up, her eyes wide as she took in my words. “What?”
“Ben. Do you feel like his memory is disappearing? Everywhere, all around us.”
“All the time,” she murmured and nodded absentmindedly for a few moments. “I forced myself to stop buying his cologne, and there are times I don’t remember what he smelled like. When I realize that, I panic. I’m afraid I’ll forget forever, and I want to go buy another bottle. But I know I can’t, I know it’ll just make it harder to move on. I don’t—” She cut off on a quiet sob, and covered her mouth with her hand as tears filled her eyes. “I don’t remember what his laugh sounded like. I don’t remember the way it felt when he held me. I’m afraid to go back to Thatch, Jag.”
“What? Why?”
“I don’t want to see his parents’ house and know that Ben’s been completely erased from it.”
I sagged into the booth and blew out a heavy breath. “Yeah, I’d forgotten about that.”
Six months after Ben died, his parents had moved. Not just to another house, not just out of town. They’d moved across the country to get away. They hadn’t been able to handle all the memories of Ben when their only child was now gone. And in a town the size of Thatch, there were memories everywhere.
I’d felt the same, but now I was in the same spot as Grey. I was terrified of forgetting him, and now I wondered if his parents regretted leaving.
“So what are you going to do?”
She blinked a few times, like I’d just pulled her from somewhere else, and after a few seconds she shrugged. “I’m still going back. The apartment here isn’t much better. He’s the one who picked it out, and all I ever think about when I’m in there is that he’s supposed to be in there too. It’ll be hard at first, but I need to go home. What about you?” Grey’s lips curved up in a rare smile, and I felt myself smiling back at her until she spoke. “I always pictured you just taking off. No one has ever been able to hold onto you, and I feel like towns and cities are no different. I don’t see you ever finding a place where you’ll want to settle down forever.”
Of course you don’t. My eyebrows pinched together, and I looked down so she wouldn’t see anything she wasn’t supposed to. There was truth to her words, and at the same time, she was so wrong. No one had ever been able to keep me because I’d only ever belonged to her. I’d dated a handful of girls in the first two years after leaving Thatch … if you could call it “dating”, and had only ever had one girlfriend back home—and that had been in hopes that it would get a reaction out of Grey as much as it had been a distraction for me from the constant in-my-face relationship of Ben and Grey. If Ben hadn’t died, and if they’d gotten married, leaving is exactly what I would’ve done. It was one thing to stay back, not saying anything to her, hoping one day she would see in me what I’ve seen in her since we were kids. It was another when I had to finally acknowledge she would never be mine.
But even though I wasn’t sure she would ever get to a point in her life where she was ready to move on, there was no way I could leave her now. She wasn’t mine, but she needed me. And I would be there for her as long as she did.
“So where do you think you’ll go?” she asked, and I looked back up at her.
“Thatch,” I said, my voice low and gravelly. “I belong in Thatch.”

 


theauthor

 

Molly McAdamsMolly McAdams grew up in California but now lives in the oh-so-amazing state of Texas with her husband and furry daughter. Her hobbies include hiking, snowboarding, traveling and long walks on the beach, which roughly translates to being a homebody with her hubby and dishing out movie quotes. When she’s not at work, she can be found hiding out in her bedroom surrounded by her laptop, cell, Kindle and fighting over the TV remote. She has a weakness for crude-humored movies, fried pickles and loves curling up in a fluffy comforter during a thunderstorm…or under one in a bathtub if there are tornados. That way she can pretend they aren’t really happening.
 
Molly’s Website: http://www.mollysmcadams.com

 

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Resisting Her Rival by Sonya Weiss – a Review

Resisting Her Rival by Sonya Weiss – a Review

 

Resisting Her RivalAmazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo

Description:
All’s fair in love and war…

Abby Snyder finally has the opportunity to expand her diner now that the building next door is available. Unfortunately, she must compete with Nick Coleman to get it. Abby—usually über-responsible—shared one night of intense passion with the playboy, and she’s been trying to forget it ever since. But then Nick bets her the building that he can make her fall in love with him in thirty days.

With his reputation ruining his chances at gaining some big clients, Nick needs a way to prove to everyone that he’s reformed. Dating Abby, the most respected girl in town—and the only one he wants—is the perfect solution. Nick’s confident he’ll get Abby to fall for him, so he’ll win the building and the girl he can’t get out of his mind.

But even though Abby can’t lose, resisting Nick is harder than she thought.

 

 

Review:

Resisting Her Rival by Sonya Weiss is a short story filled with lots of great one liners :)

Yes we can probably guess how it ends. Yes it’s predictable, but the story is very well written. There are so many funny parts.

Both Nick and Abby try to outdo each other in their attempts to try persuade their landlord to sell each person the building, Abby wants it to expand her restaurant, Nick wants to expand his business, and the building would be ideal. Then he hits on the idea of a bet, if he can make Abby fall in love with him in 30 days, then they date properly, and continue where they left off (a one night stand a few months ago)and he gets the building, but if Abby wins, she gets the building and he’ll renovate for free.

So the story revolves around each of them trying to get one over on each other. And along the way, Nick falls in love with Abby. Abby on the other hand, takes longer, she has been hurt by an ex-husband, and lost her parents, she is scared to fall in love.

The way they flirt was fun, and sad moments will make you grab tissues. Secondary characters were very involved. I think there could be another story. This is a short review, as I didn’t want to give too much away.

Reviewed by Julie B.

Copy provided by Publisher

 

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