The Sea Devil (Pirates of Britannia:Lords of the Sea #3) by Eliza Knight-Review, Excerpt & Giveaway Tour

The Sea Devil (Pirates of Britannia:Lords of the Sea #3) by Eliza Knight-Review, Excerpt and Giveaway tour

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The Sea Devil
Pirates of Britannia: Lords of the Sea #3
by Eliza Knight
Release Date: January 16, 2018
Genre: adult, historical, Highlander, romance

The Sea Devil

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ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date January 16, 2018

A daring brotherhood, where honor among thieves reigns supreme, and crushing their enemies is a thrilling pastime. These are the Pirates of Britannia.

Thornley “Thor” MacLeod, Captain of The Sea Devil and prominent member of the Devils of the Deep is out for one thing and one thing only—revenge against Santiago Fernandez, leader of Los Demonios de Mar. Tormented by the demons of his past, he knows the only relief to his pain will be spilling the blood of his enemy. When he learns that Santiago seeks to find a child he abandoned nearly two decades before, Thor is determined to find the precious treasure first. Which means, Thor may have to sacrifice his honor in order to exact the perfect vengeance.

Orphaned at a young age, Alesia Baird has grown up along the harsh coasts of Scotland, bearing witness to many a nightmare. With the hangman’s noose dangling ever closer to her neck, she has to find a way to escape the only life she’s ever known. When she overhears a pirate mention he seeks the child of Santiago Fernandez, Alesia takes the leap, knowing this could be her only way out.

Alesia must keep up the ruse long enough to escape with her life, and perhaps a sack full of jewels. But when it comes time to jump ship, she finds her destiny may have led her in a different path. Will the hardened Highlander allow a lass into his heart—or is she destined to be forever alone?

••••••••••••

REVIEW: 5 out of 5 for this reader folks!

OOOHHHH!!! Pass me some more Eliza please and thank you! This was AWESOME!

I am going to start this review off with a small note that I came across before I started this book. This series is collaborated by Eliza Knight and Kathryn LeVeque. Kathryn is my all time fave author of medieval romance so when I found this out I made sure that I got the other two books as well. I have yet to read them, and as detailed in the description above, you do not need to read them in order to enjoy this book. I will agree. I didn’t feel like I was missing anything at all. However, I loved the story so much, I am intrigued and curious as to how these two authors collaborated as if memory serves, their writing style is a little different. I’ll let you know maybe in the future. On with the review.

The Sea Devil by Eliza Knight is the third book in the “Pirates of the Britannia: Lords of the Sea” series. If you love highlanders and pirates with your historical romance then this is an must grab for you. This is a classic take of revenge with a side of mistaken identity, but turns out to be the best mistake one could of taken in life.

Thor MacLeod is a highlander and a pirate. A pirate who is always seeking revenge on a man who killed his mother. Thor is hard lived, determined, stubborn and very ready to right this wrong and he will do it at any cost. This cost comes in the form of his enemies daughter. If he can find his enemies daughter, he will kill her, and then the slate will be wiped clean and he can carry on his life as he was meant to. BUT, we all know two wrongs do not make a right, and certainly not when he learns that the one he finds is not in fact the one he seeks .. unless one is seeking passion and love.

Alesia Baird is the daughter of a whore and a thief. She is cunning and smart and will do what she must in order to survive a life she has had to live alone. She is also very stubborn and knows that she is facing certain hanging if she can’t think her way out of the mess she has found herself in. Opportunity comes knocking, and before she knows it, Alesia is pretending to be the daughter of some pirate in hopes of running away from a certain death. What she doesn’t realize is that she is jumping from one death right into another, unless she can once again think herself out of this dilemma. It’s too bad the man that has taken her makes her feel more alive than she has ever felt in her entire life. It’s too bad he is so intent on killing her …..

OYE! These two are smoking hot together. This is a quicker book and I don’t reveal juicy tidbits of story, but believe me, the tidbits are in fact juicy. Something about pirates and the edge of death and passion and .. and .. OYE! Yah you know what I mean! FANS SELF! The tension is built quick, but Eliza layers many complicated moral dilemmas of the pirate code, which makes this love and passion almost “forbidden” Well what does one want more is something is forbidden .. it usually comes in the form of indulging, personal reasoning and/or .. just plain ole not thinking! LOL

These two are an intense couple, and the backdrop of pirates, enemies and swords make the pages flip effortlessly. If you have a little bit of bodice ripper fan reader inside you (I am not talking bodice ripper psycho ..lol), then this will get your blood pumping for sure. Like I said earlier I am eager to read Kathryn’s take on these brutish pirates, because Eliza certainly did them justice.

Looking forward to the next book and certainly looking forward to the first two. I hope you enjoy as much as I did!

HAPPY READING! 🙂

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Rachel T.

The Sea Devil teaser

excerpt

An excerpt from THE SEA DEVIL
Copyright © Eliza Knight 2018

 

“I’m a pirate, lass. What am I supposed to think when I come into my room and a lass has made herself at home, going so far as to take off her boots?”
She pushed against him more, and he did let go slightly, enough that she thought she might be able to draw a better breath, but it didn’t appear that his hold was what kept her from breathing. Struggling to speak without choking, she said, “I came here because I heard ye were looking for the bastard of Santiago Fernandez.”
“And ye claim to be that unfortunate offspring?”
She nodded solemnly. “I do.”
“Prove it,” he growled.
“How?” She wriggled against him. “Put me down first.”
“Say something to me in Spanish.”
He settled her in front of him, but not far enough away that she couldn’t still feel the heat of his body sinking into hers. Thinking quickly on her feet, Alesia frowned up at him. “My mother was Scots, and my father, the legendary Spanish pirate, abandoned me the moment he planted his seed, ye buffoon. Where would I have learned his language?”
“Point taken.” He studied her face, eyes narrowed. “Ye do have the look of him. In a feminine sort of way. Save for that hair. Tempestuous hair.”
Her mouth fell open at the insult. She moved to stomp on his foot but quickly found herself lifted off her feet, arms pinned to her sides by the steely strength of his own.
Fine, he wanted to play dirty. She’d already showed him once she knew how to take down a man. Alesia moved to kick him where she’d had the pleasure of socking him before, but Captain Thor clamped her legs between his thighs of steel.
“Uh-uh, princess,” he mocked.
Though she hated to head-butt anyone for the headache it always gave her, that was her next move. Alesia was fairly certain at this point she wasn’t going to be walking away with the silver, which meant she could at least walk away with her life—and figure out another way to escape the wharf.
Before she had the chance to make good on her decision to crack her head against his, she found herself flattened to the wood-planked floor, and his massive body on top of hers. Every hard plane pressed to the soft curves of her own. She sucked in a ragged breath, prepared to shout at him to leave off, but she found her throat too tight to speak.
“I’d have expected more from Santiago’s daughter, wee sprite.” His finger trailed over her cheek and along her jawline.
Alesia bared her teeth, trying to wriggle free but only managing to feel his body pressed harder to hers. “And I would have expected more from a pirate Captain.”
“Touché.” His grin was inviting. Unnerving. Disarming.
“Get off me,” she growled, trying keep her mind in the right place—the angry place. That was survival. To succumb to his disarmament was to lose.
His gaze shifted to her lips. “Not without a kiss.”
Alesia snorted and shoved at his unmoving shoulders. “I’d not kiss ye if ye were the last man on earth.”
“What if I were the second to last?” he teased.
She let out an exasperated groan. “Not then, either, ye ogre.”
He clucked his tongue. “Shame.”
“Why’s that?”
“Because, lass, if sparring with ye is this fun, kissing would be even better.”

About The Author Black and Red

Eliza KnightEliza Knight is an award-winning and USA Today bestselling author of over fifty sizzling historical, time-travel and contemporary romance novels. Under the name E. Knight, she pens rip-your- heart-out historical fiction. While not reading, writing or researching for her latest book, she chases after her three children. In her spare time (if there is such a thing…) she likes daydreaming, wine-tasting, traveling, hiking, staring at the stars, watching movies, shopping and visiting with family and friends. She lives atop a small mountain with her own knight in shining armor, three princesses and two very naughty puppies.

Connect with Eliza at: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram

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Bayside Passions (Bayside Summers #2) by Melissa Foster-Review Tour & Giveaway

BAYSIDE PASSIONS (Bayside Summers #2) by Melissa Foster-Review Tour & Giveaway

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BAYSIDE PASSIONS
(Bayside Summers #2)
by Melissa Foster
Release Date: January 10, 2018
Genre: adult, contemporary, romance

Bayside Passions

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ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date January 10, 2018

Fall in love at Bayside, where sandy beaches, good friends, and true love come together in the sweet small towns of Cape Cod.

BAYSIDE SUMMERS is a series of standalone steamy romance novels featuring alpha male heroes and sexy, empowered women. They’re fun, flirty, flawed, deeply emotional, always passionate, and easy to relate to. And of course, you’ll see cameos from the Seaside Summers characters!

In BAYSIDE PASSIONS…
When Emery Andrews’s best friend, Desiree, moves away, falls in love, and opens an inn all in one summer, she feels her absence like a missing limb. Until she visits over the holidays and meets sinfully hot Dean Masters, who’s as easy on the eyes as he is to talk to. After returning home, what starts as a flurry of late-night flirtations quickly turns into a deep connection and unexpected friendship. Now, months later, Desiree offers Emery a job teaching yoga at the inn. Adventurous Emery jumps at the chance and heads for Wellfleet, Massachusetts, to reunite with her BFF and her new close friend, Dean.

After months of sharing their lives, and their secrets, over video chats and phone calls, Dean’s ready to move things to the next level. The fact that Emery seems oblivious to the sparks between them and has recently put her foot down about dating friends just means he’ll have to bide his time.

When Emery finds a naked man in her kitchen the first morning she’s there, Dean doesn’t hesitate to move her into his guest room. Maybe now Emery will see what’s right before her eyes–although that guy she’s got a date with might be a problem.

•••••••••••

REVIEW: BAYSIDE PASSIONS is the second instalment in Melissa Fosters’ contemporary, adult BAYSIDE SUMMERS romance series. This is yoga instructor Emery Andrews, and landscaper Dean Masters’ story line. BAYSIDE PASSIONS, and subsequently BAYSIDE SUMMERS is another one of Melissa Foster’s spin off series from both the Love in Bloom and Seaside Summers series but can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty. Several characters and couples cross over for cohesion and familiarity.

Told form dual third person perspectives (Emery and Dean) BAYSIDE PASSIONS is a friends to lovers story line that follows the building relationship between yoga instructor and back-care specialist Emery Andrews, and landscaper Dean Masters. Months earlier our couple met during the Christmas holiday engagement party of mutual friends Rick Savage and Desiree Cleary (Bayside Desires #1). With Emery’s return home to Oak Falls Virginia, our leading couple pursued a long distance friendship through emails, Skyping and text. Fast forward to present day wherein Emery will accept an invitation to teach yoga at the Inn in Wellfleet Massachusetts where she will come face to face with her future and the man with whom she is falling in love. Enter Dean Masters, landscaper, gardener and Rick Savage’s business partner. What ensues is the growing love between Dean and Emery, and the potential fall out when the Masters’ dysfunctional family dynamics threaten any semblance of balance between Emery and Dean.

Melissa Foster pulls the reader into a sexy and smooth flowing story of family and friendship; balance and harmony; bitter memories and letting go of the past. BAYSIDE PASSIONS revisits old friends, welcomes newcomers and follows a relationship where anything is possible including the breaking down of barriers and preconceived notions about one man who struggles to be everything and more.

There is a large ensemble cast of secondary and supporting characters many of whom we have met in previous story lines. We welcome the return of Rick and Desiree (Bayside Desires), Rick’s brother and Dean’s best friend Drake Savage, resort manager Serena Mallery, Desiree’s half-sister Violet, and Jana, Harper and Sky. The reader is introduced to Dean’s brothers Jett Masters, as well as their parents Dr. Douglas and Sherry Masters, nursing home residents Rose, Arlin and Magdeline, and nursing home administrator and Serena’s sister Chloe Mallery. Drake and Serena’s story line is next in BAYSIDE HEAT.

BAYSIDE PASSIONS is a spirited storyline with sassy characters, sexy innuendo, and great back and forth banter between lovers and friends. The premise is lively, delightful and captivating; the romance is passionate and seductive; the characters are engaging and fun. Melissa Foster writes stories that resonate from the heart.

Click HERE for Barb’s reviews of book one BAYSIDE DESIRES

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Sandy

Series Spotlight

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Bayside Desires

BAYSIDE SUMMERS is a series of STANDALONE steamy romance novels featuring alpha male heroes and sexy, empowered women. They’re fun, flirty, flawed, deeply emotional, always passionate, and easy to relate to. Bayside Summers is part of the LOVE IN BLOOM romance collection by New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Melissa Foster. While each book may be read as a standalone, you might enjoy reading the entire Love in Bloom series. Characters from each sub-series appear in future books.

Fall in love with Rick and Desiree in Bayside Desires.

In Bayside Desires…
As the co-owner of Bayside Resorts, Rick Savage has a fabulous beachfront resort where he works with his best friends and brother, and plenty of beautiful women to keep him company. When Desiree Cleary moves in next door to take care of her mother’s estate, Rick sets his sights on the sexy pre-school teacher. But Desiree’s sister isn’t keen on the fast-talking playboy making moves on the younger sister she’s never had a chance to get to know. And she has other ideas in store–like opening Summer House Inn, a bed and breakfast that could be big-time competition for Rick’s resort.

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About the Author

Melissa FosterMelissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes sexy and heartwarming contemporary romance, new adult romance and women’s fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Readers adore Melissa’s fun, flirty, and sinfully sexy, award-winning big-family romance collection, LOVE IN BLOOM featuring the Snow Sisters, Bradens, Remingtons, Ryders, Seaside Summer, Harborside Nights, Wild Boys and Bad Boys After Dark, and the Montgomerys. Melissa’s emotional journeys are lovingly erotic and always family oriented– perfect beach reads for contemporary romance lovers who enjoy reading about loyal, wealthy heroes and smart, sassy heroines with complex and relatable issues.Melissa also writes sweet and clean romance under the pen name Addison Cole.

Melissa has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Her interests include her family, reading, writing, painting, friends, helping others see the positive side of life, and visiting Cape Cod.

Melissa is available to chat with book clubs and welcomes comments and emails from her readers. Visit Melissa on Facebook  or her personal website.

Never miss a brand new release, special promotions or inside gossip again by simply signing up to receive your newsletter from Melissa.

Find Melissa on the following sites….

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Down by Contact (The Barons #2) by Santino Hassell-Review, Interview & Giveaway

DOWN BY CONTACT (The Barons #2) by Santino Hassell-Review, Interview and Giveaway

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DOWN BY CONTACT
The Barons
By Santino Hassell
Release Date: January 16, 2018
Genre: adult, contemporary, erotic, M/M, football romance

Down By Contact

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ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date January 16, 2018

Simeon Boudreaux, the New York Barons’ golden-armed quarterback, is blessed with irresistible New Orleans charm and a face to melt your mama’s heart. He’s universally adored by fans and the media. Coming out as gay in solidarity with his teammate hasn’t harmed his reputation in the least—except for some social media taunting from rival linebacker Adrián Bravo.

Though they were once teammates, Adrián views Simeon as a traitor and the number-one name on the New Jersey Predators’ shit list. When animosity between the two NFL players reaches a boiling point on the field, culminating in a dirty fist fight, they’re both benched for six games and sentenced to joint community service teaching sullen, Brooklyn teens how to play ball.

At first, they can barely stand to be in the same room, but running the camp forces them to shape up. With no choice but to work together, Simeon realizes Adrián is more than his alpha-jerk persona, and Adrián begins to question why he’s always had such strong feelings for the gorgeous QB…

•••••••••

REVIEW: DOWN BY CONTACT is the second instalment in Santino Hassell’s contemporary, adult THE BARONS erotic, M/M, football romance series focusing on the professional football players of the New York Barons. This is Barons’ quarterback Simeon Boudreaux, and New Jersey Predators’ linebacker Adrian Bravo’s story line. DOWN BY CONTACT can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty. Any important information from the previous story line is revealed where necessary.

NOTE: DOWN BY CONTACT is an M/M romance story line with sexually graphic language, text and situations that may not be suitable for all readers.

Told from dual first person perspectives (Simeon and Adrian) DOWN BY CONTACT follows the enemies to lovers relationship between one-time teammates New York Baron’s quarterback Simeon Boudreaux, and New Jersey Predators’ linebacker Adrian Bravo. Following a less than stellar start with the Predators, Simeon Boudreaux was traded to the New York Baron’s where his star power is on the rise, but in the ensuing time rumors and innuendo about betrayal and playbook theft dogged our hero from the opposing team, but none more so than from one-time teammate and friend Adrian Bravo. Simeon’s recent forced ‘coming out’ prompted a firestorm of media sensation including the homophobic diatribes from a man he once call a friend. Enter Adrian Bravo, New Jersey Predator’s linebacker, and the man with whom Simeon would fall in love. A preseason, on-field brawl between our leading couple finds Simeon and Adrian facing suspension with team ordered volunteer work at a local children’s shelter. What ensues is the building relationship between Simeon and Adrian as they are forced to work together for the benefit of a children’s summer camp, and the potential threat to Adrian’s career when their relationship is revealed.

Adrian Bravo always thought he was a heterosexual male until the day he met teammate Simeon Boudreaux but Adrian had to keep up appearances in front of his team fearing rejection and ridicule at the hands of the media and his so-called friends. Social media attacks against Simeon Boudreaux quickly made Adrian an enemy in more ways than one. Simeon Boudreaux was previously ‘outed’ by several jealous fans who posted sensitive images for all to see but discovering that Adrian Bravo, quite possibly, wanted something more than a rekindling friendship brought hope to a man who was potentially looking for a happily ever after.

The relationship between Simeon and Adrian is an enemies to friends to lovers romance; a second chance friendship that continues to build as they must work together towards a common goal. The $ex scenes are intimate, erotic and intense without the use of over the top, sexually graphic language and text.My only complaint is the lack of condom usage. Although this is a story of fiction, in an era of STDs and AIDS, I believe the author ( or for that matter, everyone) has a responsibility to promote safer $ex.

We are reintroduced to Barons’ tight end Gavin Brawley, and his personal assistant Noah Monroe (Illegal Contact #1); running back Marcus Hendricks and his fiance Jasmine; and second-string quarterback Noah Monroe; Simeon’s agent Mel Hawkins’, and Adrian’s agent Casey Rose; several young teens and counselors at the Grant Street Center, Simeon’s mother Joanne Boudreaux, Adrian’s parents, as well as Adrian’s embattled teammate Rocky Swoops.

DOWN BY CONTACT is a sexy, sassy and spirited story line; an inspiring and heart warming romance about passion, perception, discrimination and love. The premise is encouraging and energetic; the romance is sensual and provocative; the characters are dynamic and realistic.

Click HERE for Sandy’s review of book one-ILLEGAL CONTACT

Copy supplied by the publisher through Netgalley

Reviewed by Sandy

Interview

TRC: Hi Santino and welcome to The Reading Café. Congratulations on the recent release of DOWN BY CONTACT.

TRC: We would like to start with some background information. Would you please tell us something about yourself?

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Santino HassellSantino: First of all, thank you so much for interviewing me! I guess the most succinct way to explain my background as a fiction writer is to explain that I’ve been writing since I was a teenager. As a kid, I was the type to keep journals full of songs and poetry, then it upgraded to me writing short stories about my friends and I. All of it was wishful thinking and how I wished my life was different. Later, I moved onto writing fanfiction and original fiction. Once I found out there was a whole market for queer romance, I jumped down the rabbit hole and haven’t looked back.

TRC: Who or what influenced your career in writing?

Santino: I was really influenced by writers like Jordan Castillo Price, Amy Jo Cousins, and more recently Molly O’Keefe. Writers who tackle interesting issues and perspectives with characters who have a very strong voice. Also, I’m really drawn to grittier romances about people who have to fight to get their happy endings, which is why my own writing tends to trend in that direction.

TRC: What challenges or difficulties have you encountered writing and publishing your stories?

Santino: One of my main challenges, and I think the challenge of queer romance writers in general, is my desire for my books to not be treated as a separate subgenre because the characters aren’t straight. This isn’t something that can be changed by one person, or even a few people, but eventually I’d love for these books to be shelved right alongside M/F romance novels.

Down By ContactTRC: Would you please tell us something about the premise of DOWN BY CONTACT and The Barons series?

Santino: The premise of The Barons is essentially “troubled athletes finding love”. Book 1, Illegal Contact, saw the main character suspended and on house arrest following a public brawl, and in Down by Contact the main characters are also in hot water after getting in a fight on the field with each other. Football is such an aggressive sport filled with these athletes who are driven by competitiveness and ego that I wanted to explore that in the series.

TRC: What type of research/plotting do you do, and how long do you spend researching /plotting before beginning a book?

Santino: Before I started the Barons, I read several memoirs of athletes and agents to get an idea of how the sport works on the inside. Besides knowing what goes on during the game, I wanted to know what happens in negotiations, between players and their agents or managers, and definitely in the locker room.

TRC: How do you keep the plot(s) unpredictable without sacrificing content and believability?

Santino: Humans are so unpredictable as a species that sometimes the story tells itself depending on the characters I’ve created. If you start with creating characters from the ground up, with all their background, influences, and life experiences, you have totally different people who will react differently in various scenarios. So, in book 1, Gavin reacted to a friend being threatened by… chasing that person down. He was driven by loyalty and overprotectiveness. In book 2, both Simeon and Adrián are driven by competitiveness and pride—it drives them to engage in a social media feud that gets physical, and ultimately causes them to get trapped together where they take start up a sexier kind of challenge. They basically cannot help but try to one-up each other.

TRC: How did publishing your first book change your writing process?

Santino: I pretty much figured out what works for me in terms of drafting. Basically, that I NEED a detailed outline to survive a draft!

TRC: What was your hardest scene –ever–to write?

Illegal ContactSantino: Honestly, some of my most challenging scenes are always action oriented. In The Barons, writing the football scenes always end with me double checking my descriptions, rereading about fifty times, and then asking my beta readers to pay close attention to the details. I’m always terrified of getting something wrong.

TRC: Do you believe the cover image plays a deciding factor for many readers in the process of selecting a book or new series to read?

Santino: I definitely think it’s important to catching a reader’s attention. As a reader myself, I’m inundated by hundreds of books when I step into a bookstore or go on Amazon, so an amazing cover will stand out from the rest and grab me. After that, the blurb will be the deciding factor on whether I buy.

TRC: When writing a storyline, do the characters direct the writing or do you direct the characters?

Santino: I try to direct the characters but, as trite as it sounds, they don’t always follow the script. Usually, they develop in such a way over time in the draft that their actions shift and change, and I have to revise my outline. For example, in Down by Contact, I did not initially intend for Adrián to be smitten with Simeon first, but it happened organically.

TRC: How do you select the names of your characters?

Santino: I don’t have a super scientific process. I tend to go by background, region they grew up in and their parents’ personalities, and use something believable based on all those factors.

TRC: The mark of a good writer is to pull the reader into the storyline so that they experience the emotions along with the characters. What do you believe a writer must do to make this happen? Where do you believe writer’s fail in this endeavor?

Santino: Creating characters that are multi-faceted is important in that regard. Characters need their own histories, motivations, and life experiences so they feel real. In books where I’ve struggled to form an emotional connection with the characters, it was because they were two-dimensional and had no motivations other than overcoming the main conflict in the story.

TRC: Do you listen to music while writing? If so, does the style of music influence the storyline direction? Characters?

Santino: I do listen to mood music while writing. In the past, I’ve listened to the type of music that I thought my characters would be listening to. Now, I tend to listen to something mellow and calming that won’t distract me. It usually leads to me picking a station on Spotify.

TRC: What do you believe is the biggest misconception people have about you? About authors in general?

Santino: A misconception about me… is probably that I have a plan and know what I’m doing. Most of the time, though, I’m winging it. In terms of an overall misconception about authors—I would say many people I meet seem to believe authors just write in their spare time as a hobby. Usually people who aren’t voracious readers are the ones who make comments implying professional authors just casually pen novels on the side for fun. They have no idea how time-consuming and stressful the craft can be.

TRC: What is something that few, if anybody, knows about you?

Santino: I plan to start writing M/F romance and one day try my shot at YA!

TRC: On what are you currently working?

Santino:I’m currently starting book 3 in The Barons series—Use of Hands. You meet the hero in Down by Contact. His love interest was introduced in book 1.

TRC: Would you like to add anything else?

Santino: Thank you so much for having me! I hope everyone loves Simeon and Adrián.

LIGHTNING ROUND:

Favorite Food: Spaghetti

Favorite Dessert: Cookies

Favorite TV Show: Shameless, at the moment

Last Movie You Saw: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Dark or Milk Chocolate: Milk Chocolate

Secret Celebrity Crush: Clive Owen

Last Vacation Destination: New Orleans

Do you have any pets? 2 cats, 1 dog

Last book you read: Relay by Layla Reyne

TRC:  Thank you Santino for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations on your new release.

giveaway

Santino Hassell’s publisher is graciously offering a paperback ARC of DOWN BY CONTACT to ONE 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.

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9.. Giveaway runs from January 18-23, 2018

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Scoring with the Wrong Twin (WAGS #1) by Naima Simone-a review

SCORING WITH THE WRONG TWIN (WAGS #1) by Naima Simone-a review

Scoring with the Wrong Twin

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ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date January 15, 2018

Shy, awkward Sophia Cruz has a hard time telling her vivacious identical twin “no.” But when her sister begs her to swap places for a modeling shoot, she caves … again. Then Zephirin Black walks onto the set. The brooding, aloof, and gorgeous tight end for the Washington Warriors. But she can keep it professional… She has to. Because the adorkable Cruz twin has no luck with guys once they compare her to her sister.

After a bad break-up, Zeph hasn’t been big on second chances—and even less with trust. But he finds himself giving please-call-me-by-my-middle-name-Sophia both. The woman he’d dismissed as a spoiled cover model is different from the first time he met her. Quirkier. Funnier. Definitely sexier. What started as one night turns into another…and another…and another…

Still, Sophia can’t go on keeping her secret from him. But telling Zeph the truth will mean losing him for good.

•••••••••

REVIEW: SCORING WITH THE WRONG TWIN is the first installment in Naima Simone’s sexy, contemporary, adult, romance story lin. This is app developer Sophia Cruz, and Washington Warriors’ tight end Zephirin Black’s story line.

Told from dual third person perspectives (Zeph and Sophia) SCORING WITH THE WRONG TWIN is a ‘twin trope’ romance story line that follows the building relationship between professional football tight end Zephirin Black, and app developer Sophia Cruz-a woman our hero believes to be model Giovanna Cruz. Giovanna Cruz is a model who double booked a shoot with Zephirin Black and Sports Unlimited, and the runways of Milan but having a twin sister came in handy especially when no one could tell them apart. Enter Sophia Cruz, nerdy, tattooed and pierced sister of up and coming model Giovanna Cruz, and the woman with whom Zephirin Black would fall in love. What ensues is the building relationship between Zeph and Sophia, and the fall out when Sophia and Giovanna’s ruse of a lie is revealed.

Zephirin Black has been burned in the past, and all he asks, going forward, is honesty in his relationships but Zeph has no idea that the woman with whom he is falling in love is not the woman she purports herself to be. Sophia Cruz knows the longer she continues to lie the more likely she is about to destroy not only her heart but the heart of the man she is starting to love. On several occasions she has attempted to reveal the truth but in the end, her meagre attempts made for a less than honest romance.

The relationship between Zeph and Sophia begins as a lie; a lie meant to protect the sister she loves but a lie that will once again destroy Zeph’s faith in relationships and love. Burned in the past, Sophia’s lies reignite the betrayal of a previous love. The $ex scenes are intimate, erotic and intense without the use of over the top, sexually graphic language and text.

We are introduced to a number of Zeph’s teammates and friends including Ronin , Dom, Tennyson, Jason and Renee. There is something developing between friends Dom and Tennyson; and the one-time ‘friends with benefits’ relationship between Jason and Renee has placed a strain on the tight knit group of friends.

SCORING WITH THE WRONG TWIN has a little bit of everything: conflict and drama; betrayal and heart break; forgiveness and love. The premise is spicy and captivating; the romance is sexy and passionate; the characters are colorful and energetic. SCORING WITH THE WRONG TWIN is a fast paced, encouraging and heart-warming story-perfect to curl up and read on a cold winter’s night.

Copy supplied by the publisher through Netgalley

Reviewed by Sandy

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Blood Fury (Black Dagger Legacy #3) by JR Ward-Review and Giveaway

BLOOD FURY (Black Dagger Legacy #3) by JR Ward-Review and Giveaway

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BLOOD FURY
Black Dagger Legacy #3
by JR Ward
Release Date: January 9,2018
Genre: adult, contemporary, paranormal, romance

Blood Fury

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / B&N / KOBO / Chapters Indigo /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date January 9, 2018

A vampire aristocrat, Peyton is well aware of his duty to his bloodline: mate with an appropriate female of his class and carry on his family’s traditions. And he thought he’d found his perfect match—until she fell in love with someone else. Yet when his split-second decision in a battle with the enemy endangers the life of another trainee, Peyton has to face the idea that his future, and his heart, actually lie with another.

Novo, as a female in the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s training program, feels like she has to prove herself to everybody—and she has no interest in being distracted by falling in love. But when Peyton proves to be so much more than a rich playboy, she is forced to confront the tragedy that has broken her soul and closed her off from love.

As the two grapple with Novo’s past and Peyton’s present, another couple must contend with an erotic connection that is unparalleled—and potentially scandalous.

Saxton, who has had his heart broken, discovers in himself a deep-seated attraction to Ruhn, a new member of the household. But will the other male explore the connection? Or will he close his mind and his heart to what could be true love . . . and cost Saxton everything?

•••••••••••

REVIEW: BLOOD FURY is the third instalment in JR Ward’s contemporary, adult BLACK DAGGER LEGACY paranormal, romance series, a spin off from Ward’s number one selling Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Once again, the author addresses two building relationships: BDB trainees Peyton and Novo, as well as Saxton, the King’s legal advisor, and Bitty’s uncle Ruhn. BLOOD FURY can be read as a stand alone but for backstory and cohesion, I recommend reading the series in order especially the Black Dagger Legacy spin off.

NOTE: BLOOD FURY contains scenes of graphic violence, and M/M sexual situations.

Saxton is a male of worth; disowned by his aristocrat family for his sexual preferences Saxton had once considered leaving his current position when the man that he loved (Blay) was mated to another male. With the introduction of Ruhn, young Bitty’s uncle, Saxton discovered a second chance at love when the two were pushed together as Saxton began in investigation into a land dispute, and the threats from the human population, against an elderly female vampire. Ruhn, believing himself not worthy due to events in his past, struggles with many issues of low self-esteem, and his attraction to the King’s official advisor. What ensues is the building relationship between Saxton and Ruhn, and the potential fall out when Ruhn falls victim to the same humans threatening the elderly vampire.

Peyton watched as his best friend and the woman he loved (Paradise) fell in love with another male. Battling his inability to let go of his desire for another man’s mate, Peyton’s actions on the street threaten the life of another trainee. Enter Novo, the woman with whom Peyton would fall in love but a woman who struggles with memories from the past-memories that threaten to overwhelm with the approach of her sister’s mating.

BLOOD FURY follows two couples as they traverse a minefield of personal pain and private heartache, the constant reminders of unrequited love, and acceptance of the consequences of their choices and actions. All four of the story line characters battle ghosts from the past that continue to control much of the present. Ruhn’s history is painful and heartbreaking; Novo has suffered a loss she will never forget; Peyton’s family takes control of his future; and Saxton must purge his pain by letting go of something and someone he once loved.

Most of the Black Dagger Brothers make cameo appearances throughout the story as they, once again, must go into battle against the lessers and human threats to the vampire population. The mention of Assail on several occasions, as he continues to battle his own personal demons, prepares the reader for his upcoming story THE THIEF set to release in April 2018.

BLOOD FURY is a story of family, of loss, of acceptance and love. JR Ward gives Saxton his happily ever after-but -I struggled to ‘feel’ the palpable sexual energy between Saxton and Ruhn that many of her leading couples experience. What little emotion witnessed came at the possibility that Saxton may lose the man with whom he had fallen in love. The $ex scenes, though limited, were a little underwhelming.

Unlike many of the previous story lines in the BDB series I did not feel pulled in too many directions-the author divided our time between two paths that would converge at the ‘I dos’ of a very unhappy vampire. The premise was spirited and lively; the characters were tragic and energetic; the romances were provocative and intense but I was hoping for a little more heat and steam.

Reading Order and Previous Reviews
Blood Kiss
Blood Vow
Blood Fury

Copy supplied by the publisher

Reviewed by Sandy

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The Reading Cafe and J.R. Ward’s publisher are offering a hard cover copy of BLOOD FURY  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.

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8. Giveaway is open to USA only

9. Giveaway runs from January 17-22, 2018

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Down On Me (Man of the Month #1) by J. Kenner-Review and Book Tour

DOWN ON ME (Man of the Month #1) by J. Kenner-Review and Book Tour

Down On Me BANNER

DOWN ON ME
Man of the Month #1
by J. Kenner
Genre: adult, contemporary,erotic,romance
Release Date: January 16, 2018

Down on Me

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / B&N / KOBO / Chapters Indigo / iBooks /Google Play /

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RELEASE DATE: January 16, 2018

When a group of fiercely determined friends realize their beloved hang-out is in danger of closing, they take matters into their own hands to bring back customers lost to a competing bar. Fighting fire with a heat of their own, they double down with the broad shoulders, six-pack abs, and bare chests of dozens of hot, local guys who they cajole, prod, and coerce into auditioning for a Man of the Month calendar.

Tight muscles. Vibrant Ink.
Meet Mr. January. Winter’s never looked so hot…

Certified bachelor Reece Walker wants two things — to save the local bar he manages and to get Jenna Montgomery into his bed.

He has a few ideas for the bar. But Jenna… well, he’s going to have to rely on cold showers, because she’s been his best friend for years, and that’s a line he just can’t cross.

Until one wild kiss on a dark night changes everything. Now Reece is certain Jenna’s meant to be his.

And with long nights in bed, sensual caresses, and deep, lingering kisses, he sets out to thoroughly convince her that friends can be lovers, too.

••••••••••••••••

REVIEW: DOWN ON ME is the first instalment in J. Kenner’s contemporary, adult MAN OF THE MONTH, erotic, romance novella series. This is bar manager Reece Walker, and professional make-up artist Jenna Montgomery’s story line.

Told from dual third person perspectives (Reece and Jenna) DOWN ON ME follows the friends to lovers romance between bar manager Reece Walker, and make-up artist Jenna Montgomery. Eight months earlier Texas native Jenna headed to California in the hopes of a furthering her career only to return home to Austin Texas and the welcoming comfort of friends including the man she has loved for most of her adult life. Enter Reece Walker, manager at the local bar The Fix. What ensues is the friends to lovers romance between our leading couple, and the potential fall out when Reece and Jenna don’t see eye to eye on their future-together.

Jenna, Reece and Brent have been best friends for most of their life but the underlying current of palpable sexual energy between Jenna and Reece does not go unnoticed by Brent or any of the others at the local bar. Not wanting to destroy their friendship Jenna pushes any thoughts of a relationship with Reece to the side until their pull towards one another can no longer be denied. The $ex scenes are intimate, erotic and intense without the use of over the top, sexually graphic language and text.

We are introduced to a large number of secondary and supporting characters including Jenna and Reece’s best friend Brent, and his five year old daughter Faith; Reese’s father Charlie, and his girlfriend Edie; bar owner Tyree Johnson and his son Elijah; Jenna’s friend Amanda Franklin; attorney Easton Wallace; fellow make-up artist and Reese’s one-night stand Megan; and Brooke Hamlin-real estate rehabber. Several other friends and family including bar tender Cameron, and podcaster Griffin Draper-a Fix regular but a man with a secret past, and a celebrity or two drop in to help.

DOWN ON ME is a quick read that sets the stage for the MAN OF THE MONTH twelve-book series as friends and family endeavor to save their favorite watering hole known as The Fix. The premise is engaging and sexy; the characters are sassy and charismatic; the romance is fated and seductive.

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Sandy

Down On Me Teaser

About the Author

J. KennerJ. Kenner (aka Julie Kenner) is the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, Wall Street Journal and #1 International bestselling author of over seventy novels, novellas and short stories in a variety of genres.

Though known primarily for her award-winning and international bestselling erotic romances (including the Stark and Most Wanted series) that have reached as high as #2 on the New York Times bestseller list, JK has been writing full time for over a decade in a variety of genres including paranormal and contemporary romance, “chicklit” suspense, urban fantasy, and paranormal mommy lit.

JK has been praised by Publishers Weekly as an author with a “flair for dialogue and eccentric characterizations” and by RT Bookclub for having “cornered the market on sinfully attractive, dominant antiheroes and the women who swoon for them.” A five time finalist for Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA award, JK took home the first RITA trophy awarded in the category of erotic romance in 2014 for her novel, Claim Me (book 2 of her Stark Trilogy). Her Demon Hunting Soccer Mom series (as Julie Kenner) is currently in development with AwesomenessTV/Awestruck.

Her books have sold over three million copies and are published in over twenty languages.

In her previous career as an attorney, JK worked as a clerk on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and practiced primarily civil, entertainment and First Amendment litigation in Los Angeles and Irvine, California, as well as in Austin, Texas. She currently lives in Central Texas, with her husband, two daughters, and two rather spastic cats.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | YouTube | Amazon Author Page

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Cake at Midnight by Jessie L. Star-Review & Excerpt

CAKE AT MIDNIGHT by Jessie L. Star-Review & Excerpt

Cake at Midnight

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About the book: Release Date January 15, 2018

Giovanna, Zoë and Declan have always been a trio – their fierce friendship has seen them through every heartbreak and hardship and helped pave the way to brighter futures. Gio is a passionate baker of cakes, pastries and all things delicious, Zoë a take-no-prisoners beauty, and Declan an ambitious businessman on the way up.

Best friends forever, Gio thinks – until Gio’s lifelong crush on Declan is exposed, leaving her humiliated, and Gio realises she needs to cut him loose to get over him once and for all.

Enter Theo, Gio’s neighbour … She’s never met anyone like him before. He doesn’t talk much, but he’s kind, he’s sexy, he’s generous and he’s often awake in the middle of the night, like Gio. Theo has a sweet tooth and a mysterious history and Gio can’t seem to stay away.

Thanks to the power of sleepless nights and chocolate cake, Gio thinks she’s finally over Declan, but then his whole world turns upside down. Gio knows she can’t desert Declan in his time of need, but how can she explain a lifetime of love to Theo?

Letting go of the past isn’t so easy when your heart is breaking.

•••••••••

REVIEW: CAKE AT MIDNIGHT by Jessie L. Star is a stand alone, contemporary, new adult romance story line focusing on Australians twenty-two year old pastry chef Giovanna ‘Gio’ Koppelmann, and twenty seven year old acquisitions and mergers manager Theo McKillop.

Told from first person perspective (Giovanna) and third person (Theo) CAKE AT MIDNIGHT follows the building relationship between new neighbors Giovanna Koppelmann, and Theo McKillop.

Giovanna, Zoe and Declan are lifelong best friends who grew up together on the wrong side of the tracks struggling against abuse, neglect and a history of addiction. Giovanna, for all intents and purposes, has had a crush on Declan O’Connor for most of her life, a crush that will quickly dissolve when their friendship is abused one final time. Enter Theo McKillop, Giovanna’s neighbor and the man with whom our heroine will fall in love. Humiliated and stunned by the man she has known most of her life, Giovanna will welcome Theo’s acceptance of her quirky ideas including a ‘midnight witching hour’ wherein Giovanna finds solace in Theo’s company and home-made cake. What ensues is the building relationship between Theo and Giovanna, and the potential fall out when their time together comes to an end.

CAKE AT MIDNIGHT focuses on friendship and family-the dysfunctional family dynamics not only of Giovanna, Zoe and Declan’s present and past, but that of Theo’s eccentric, well to do, and outrageous family whose behavior is fodder for the socialites, gossip magazines, and paparazzi fanatics. Theo has kept his familial identity a secret for most of his life but workplace jealousy, and bitter family kinetics become the breaking point for a man who is unable to let go of the past. While Giovanna accepts all that is Theo including his unconventional and heart breaking family, Theo will struggle with Gia’s relationship to a man who continues to break her heart. The $ex scenes are limited, passionate but mostly implied.

We are introduced to Giovanna’s best friends Declan O’Connor, and beautician Zoe; Gio’s boss Celeste, and co-worker Maya; as well as Theo’s best friend, and executive assistant Ari; Theo’s parents Philomena and Harvey, and sister Lena Leventis; and Theo’s ex-fiance Vanessa. I am hoping the author has plans for future story lines involving Declan, Zoe, Ari and Lena.

CAKE AT MIDNIGHT has a little bit everything: romance and love; jealousy and betrayal; friendship and family; heart break and acceptance. The premise is engaging and entertaining; the characters are charismatic, realistic and dynamic; the romance is intimate and romantic. Jessie L Star writes an emotional and inspiring story about two people pushed together by circumstance, fate and love.

Copy supplied by the publisher through Netgalley

Reviewed by Sandy

excerpt

 

Best friends becoming something more is a good story. I’ve certainly always been a big fan.
It’s a classic combination, after all: a solid bedrock of affec¬tion and respect suddenly shot through with the lava of red-hot passion. You see it in food all the time: creamy, comforting choc-olate awakened by fiery chilli; a soft, delicate roux set aflame by Worcestershire sauce and a sprinkling of white pepper. It just worked. Or, at least, it did with other people.
The evening I realised ‘best friend’ to ‘passionate lover’ wasn’t going to be as natural a progression as all my recipe books had suggested, I stood at the island bench of my Great Aunt Agnes’ kitchen. A tray of perfect, velvety dollops of choux pastry and my two squabbling best friends were before me.
There wasn’t much about this scene that differed from any of the past hundred Wednesday nights, but there was a slight tight¬ness in my chest that told me that this one was special. This was our last Wednesday as high schoolers, our last Wednesday before actual adulthood set in.
My friends, however, didn’t seem to appreciate the significance.
‘I swear to God, Dec, call me shallow one more time.’ Zoë’s smooth, jet-black bob quivered with agitation and Declan, lanky and bright-eyed, held up the bible he’d been flipping through in mock surrender.
‘I’m not calling you shallow,’ he objected with a laugh that suggested that’s exactly what he was doing. ‘I’m just pointing out that on this, the eve of our graduation, we’ve all decided to pursue careers represented by the cardinal sins.’
‘Training to be a beautician does not make me prideful.’ Zoë, the spitting image of how Snow White would’ve looked had she had anger management issues, rose immediately and predicta¬bly to Dec’s bait. ‘Or stupid or vain or whatever the hell you’re suggesting I am.’
‘And I wouldn’t say training to be a pastry chef necessarily means I condone gluttony,’ I said as I dipped my finger into a glass of water and began carefully dabbing down the tops of my pastry blobs so they wouldn’t catch in the oven.
‘There’s no need to deny it, we’re all friends here,’ Dec said cheerfully, sending a tiny wink my way as Zoë let out a constricted noise of outrage. ‘And I’m not saying I’m exempt. I mean, I have an excessive love of, and desire for, earthly possessions. Greed, yeah?’
There was a ‘tsch’ noise and we looked up to see Great Aunt Agnes – Aggie to all who knew and loved her – emerging from the bathroom in a waft of her distinctively spicy perfume.
‘What is this talk of sins?’ she asked in heavily accented English, putting her hands on her hips with a flourish that made her gold bracelets chime. ‘You are not sinners. You are my brains, beauty and,’ she searched for a way to describe me and then raised her rather severe eyebrows and finished, ‘baker.’
This sort of affirmation was nothing we hadn’t heard from her before, but we still smirked at each other in that mixture of embarrassment and pride we felt every time she so easily validated each of us.
‘But this?’ She marched over and pulled her bible from Dec’s grasp before waggling it in his face. ‘Not a prop.’

Dec grinned back at her, unrepentant. ‘I thought you’d be pleased I was expanding my religious education.’
‘Aw.’ She reached out and gave his chin an affectionate little wiggle then lightly slapped him on the cheek. ‘Respect and grace,’ she reminded him, a common refrain of hers that Zoë and I mouthed behind her back.
Her gospel saved, Aggie moved away to start rummaging through her cavernous wardrobe on the other side of her studio flat and the rest of us returned to the matter at hand.
‘Of course, there’s another way to look at it.’ Zoë shifted forward on her stool and poked Dec in the chest with a perfectly polished nail. ‘Some would say that my aim is to make people feel beautiful on the outside, and Gio’s is to do the same on the inside. Frankly, we’re going to bring good to the world. You’re the only bad guy here, Brains.’
‘Well, nothing new there, then.’ The corners of Dec’s mouth quirked self-deprecatingly.
Afraid that my eyes were about to start flashing neon heart signs at him like in a cartoon, I looked for something to say other than: I know you’re one of my best friends, but I’m mad about you, please let me have your babies.
‘Check out my choux!’ is what I landed on and, as distrac¬tions went, it was a pretty effective one. Dec and Zoë immediately stopped narrowing their eyes at each other and, appearing vaguely puzzled, lifted themselves to look over the counter and down at my feet instead.
When I realised why, I let out a little snort. ‘Not shoe.’ I laughed. ‘Choux!’ And I gestured at the tray in front of me.
They exchanged a look.
‘Not shoe shoe?’ Zoë repeated.
‘Choux,’ I said again, trying to enunciate the difference. ‘Choux.’
‘You’re aware that you’re just standing there repeating the word “shoe”, yeah?’ Dec said and I rolled my eyes.
‘C-h-o-u-x,’ I spelt out. ‘Choux pastry.’ I indicated the blobs on the tray again and they both obediently switched their atten¬tion to them. I could tell by their expressions, however, that they didn’t get it. They didn’t appreciate how sheeny the dough had become once I’d added the eggs or how evenly I’d piped the buns out, and they certainly didn’t appreciate the perfect golden puffs they were destined to turn into.
‘Just say, “They look lovely, dear”,’ I advised.
‘They look lovely, dear,’ they intoned obediently.
Tying a brightly patterned scarf around her throat, Aggie re-emerged from her Aladdin’s cave of a closet and headed back to the kitchen area.
‘Are you ready, minha querida?’ she asked and Zoë nodded, hopping off the bar stool, expertly shimmying her tight black skirt back to its proper length and then wrinkling her nose.
‘Sinner or not,’ she said dryly as she snatched up her purse, ‘as God is my witness, once I have enough money to quit waitressing I am going to burn this skirt. It doesn’t matter how many times I wash it, it always smells like garlic.’
‘So that’s what that smell is,’ Dec deadpanned, ducking as she thwacked her purse into his head in response.
‘Text me later,’ I called as she headed for the front door and she waved a hand over her shoulder in reply.
That was Zoë: always with somewhere else to be, always hitting someone round the back of the head as she went.
Aggie paused only to blow extravagant kisses at Dec and me, which we returned with gusto, before she, too, bustled out of her flat.
‘And then there were two.’ Dec stretched out his long legs, hooking his feet into the footrest of Zoë’s abandoned stool and grinning lazily at me across the counter.
Oh god, I loved him, I loved him, I loved him . . .
‘So you’ll be the first to try my chocolate-topped caramel custard profiteroles!’ My exclamation was much too high-pitched, but in my defence, it was getting harder and harder to act normally around Dec now my mid-level crush of the past two years had exploded into full-on infatuation.
‘Works for me.’
It was difficult to tell whether he was just being kind by not mentioning my obvious partiality to him, or whether Dec was actually so dense that he hadn’t noticed. His even response then left me none the wiser.
There followed a companionable half-hour or so where I pottered about finishing off my baking and Dec did whatever it was that boys do on their phones every waking hour of their lives. I revelled in the cosy domesticity of it all and tried not to feel too guilty about how much I enjoyed this time every Wednes¬day when Zoë left for work, dropping Aggie off at her ‘stitch and bitch’ group on the way, and reduced our usual foursome down to a twosome.
Not that various permutations of us didn’t end up congregat¬ing at Aggie’s flat on other days of the week. Dec and Zoë had the sort of home lives that people spoke about in sad whispers, and my parents worked gruelling shift-work hours and had always relied on Aggie to provide before- and after-school care for me when I was younger, a routine I’d never really grown out of as I adored Aggie and sought any excuse to see her. So it was here, where the door was always open and the kettle was always on, that we all ended up more often than not.
‘Do you think it’ll to work out?’
I spent just about every cent of the money I earned as a check-out chick on baking ingredients and recipe books and kept an extensive stash of both at Aggie’s studio. When Dec suddenly spoke, I’d been concentrating on melting chocolate to the right temperature for tempering.
‘My profiteroles?’ I asked blankly.
He shook his head. ‘I’m kind of thinking bigger than your profiteroles.’

I was about to make some smart remark about how it wasn’t the size of the profiteroles that mattered, but how they tasted, but stopped as I saw him start to spin his phone back and forth nervously.
‘Bigger how?’ I asked. Seeing that the chocolate had reached forty-five degrees, I removed it from the double boiler to stir in the remaining room-temperature chocolate.
‘You know, our sins.’ He raised his hazel eyes to mine and I belatedly realised how much his mood had shifted since Zoë and Aggie had left. ‘Do you think they’ll work out? Cos we’ve all sat here and talked about what we’re going to do with our lives for years. What the hell do we do if it turns out that the Beauty’s allergic to nail polish, or the Baker’s actually crap at baking, or the Brain’s not smart enough for uni?’
No-one was a bigger champion of Zoë and me than Dec, so I knew it wasn’t our abilities he was questioning.
The three of us lived in an outer suburb called Jarli that was known primarily for its large sign that proclaimed: ‘Welcome to Jarli’ and which some joker had graffiti-ed ‘Good fucking luck!’ across. Our luck lay in Aggie, who’d immigrated to Australia from Brazil with my maternal grandparents and, from day one, had been deter¬mined to make a success of herself. At an early age, Zoë, Dec and I had each become disciples of Aggie’s zeal for self-improvement, encouraged by her to read and study and work towards a better set of cards than our respective parents had been dealt.
Which wasn’t to say that some of the ingrained ‘you’ll never amount to anything’ Jarli way of thinking didn’t sometimes get the better of us. Dec most of all.
‘Okay,’ I said slowly, reinserting the thermometer into the chocolate as I stirred it. ‘Except Zoë’s been wearing polish since she could hold a brush, I’m a freaking excellent baker, if I do say so myself, and you killed it in your exams.’
‘I guess.’ Dec pocketed his phone and drummed his fingers on the counter. ‘It’s just that I want to be good at what’s coming, you know? I need to be good at it.’

His voice was fierce, but there was something small in it as well, and I got it. There weren’t exactly a surplus of successful role models in his family and he’d been talking about being nothing like them ever since the first day of primary school. Knowing the fear and anxiety that lay behind his words, I thought carefully about my reply.
‘I guess, in the very unlikely event that you did turn out to be a massive failure at uni, you’d still have a fair bit going for you.’
Deciding that his need for reassurance outweighed my desire for super shiny chocolate, I set aside the mixture and moved around the bench to perch on the stool facing him.
‘I mean, you are smart, like annoyingly smart, and nothing short of some sort of brain trauma’s going to change that. And you’d still be a laugh and a handsome bugger.’ He cracked a smile at this, which gave me the confidence to add, ‘And you’d have me. And Zoë and Aggie, obviously, you’d still have all of us.’
I’d looked down into my lap as I’d said this last bit and had to force myself to peek up at him to see what he thought of my mushiness. I was pleased to see that the taut line between his eyebrows had relaxed and he was looking at me with a small smile. I felt my breath catch in my throat as he shifted forward on his stool, reaching out to gently tuck a curl behind my ear. It was a completely futile gesture, of course, as it sprang straight back out, but it made me melt all the same.
‘You’re something else, Gio. I don’t know what I’d do without you,’ he said, leaning in close and lowering his voice.
Dozens of responses came to mind, most of them along the lines of you’ll never have to find out, but in the end, I just did what I’d wanted to do for so long now. I closed the minuscule gap between us and pressed my lips to his.
It felt so right, exactly what I’d been hoping for, and I let the moment consume me, cataloguing every last detail and storing it away with the intention of savouring it for the rest of my life.
Yes, I memorised our first kiss and, boy, did I live to regret it.

 

 

about the author

Jessie L Star

Check out the author: Goodreads / Website / Facebook /

Whilst digging through her childhood scribblings, Jessie L. Star discovered a thrilling saga by her six year old self entitled ‘Jessie has Lost her Sock’. This sweeping epic spanned all four corners of her childhood house in outback South Australia as the sock was hunted down (spoiler, it was in Jessie’s bed all along). Many years later and the urge to write is still going strong, although lost socks have been replaced with a raft of characters destined to snark and banter at each other until, ultimately, falling in love.

Jessie studied Business at Uni where she primarily learnt that writing and talking were very much her thing and that dealing with numbers was very much not.

Simon and Schuster

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Sex, Not Love (Best Laid Plans) by Vi Keeland-Review Tour

SEX, NOT LOVE (Best Laid Plans) by Vi Keeland-Review Tour

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Sex, Not Love

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RELEASE DATE: January 15, 2018

My relationship with Hunter Delucia started backwards.

We met at a wedding—him sitting on the groom’s side, me sitting on the bride’s. Stealing glances at each other throughout the night, there was no denying an intense, mutual attraction.

I caught the bouquet; he caught the garter. Hunter held me tightly while we danced and suggested we explore the chemistry sparking between us. His blunt, dirty mouth should’ve turned me off. But for some crazy reason, it had the opposite effect on me.

We ended up back in my hotel room. The next morning, I headed home to New York leaving him behind in California with the wrong number.

I thought about him often, but after my last relationship, I’d sworn off of charming, cocky, gorgeous-as-sin men. A year later, Hunter and I met again at the birth of our friends’ baby. Our attraction hadn’t dulled one bit. After a whirlwind trip, he demanded a real phone number this time. So I left him with my mother’s—she could scare away any man with her talks of babies and marriage—and flew back home.

I’d thought it was funny, until the following week when he rang the bell at Mom’s house for Sunday night dinner. The crazy, gorgeous man had won over my mother and taken an eight-week assignment in my city. He proposed we spend that time screwing each other out of our systems.

Eight weeks of mind-blowing sex with no strings attached? What did I have to lose?

Nothing, I thought.
It’s just sex, not love.

•••••••••••

REVIEW: SEX, NOT LOVE by Vi Keeland is a contemporary, adult, erotic romance story in the author’s Best Laid Plans series of novels. This is thirty year old architectural engineer Hunter Delucia, and twenty nine year old behavioral therapist Natalia Rossi’s story line.

Told from dual first person perspectives-Natalia in the present, Hunter in the past- SEX, NOT LOVE follows the building relationship between Natalia Rossi, and Hunter Delucia who met several months earlier at a mutual friends’ wedding- Anna and Derek Weiner. The smooth but dirty talking Hunter Delucia was quickly shut down by our story line heroine. Fast forward seven months wherein a persistent Hunter would push himself back into Natalia’s life with the impending birth of their friends’ new arrival. What ensues is the much more than ‘friends with benefits’ relationship between Hunter and Natalia, a ‘sex, not love’ relationship with an expiry date, and a heroine who has fallen in love with a man whose secrets are destroying any chance at his own happily ever after.

The relationship between Hunter and Natalia begins acrimoniously as our heroine refuses to fall for Hunter’s dirty talking attempts to flatter and flirt using sexual innuendo and outright, naughty suggestive ideas. Hunter Delucia doesn’t do relationships; in fact, his last long term relationship found our hero caught between family and love; betrayal and loss. Meeting Natalia Rossi throws Hunter for a loop but he steadfastly refuses to accept anything long term including the possibility of falling in love. The $ex scenes are intimate, erotic and intense but one again I have issues with the use of a certain four-letter word I feel is unnecessary in a romantic story line-of any genre type.

We are introduced to Natalia and Hunter’s best friends Anna and Derek Weiner; Natalia’s step-daughter Izzy, and ex-husband Garrett Lockwood; an assortment of ‘dates’ for our story line heroine; Hunter’s older brother Jayce, and ex-girlfriend Summer.

SEX, NOT LOVE is an emotional story line with a little bit of humor, fun, heartbreak and love. Hunter keeps secret a past shrouded in pain, remorse and devastating loss that affects his decision to never fall in love. The premise is energetic and captivating; the romance is passionate, provocative and intense; the characters are dynamic, spirited and playful. SEX, NOT LOVE is a engaging and lively look at one man who struggles with his past, present and future; and one woman who has fallen in love with a man who is unable to promise a happily ever after.

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Sandy

Sex Not Love teaser

About The Author

Vi KeelandVi Keeland is a native New Yorker with three children that occupy most of her free time, which she complains about often, but wouldn’t change for the world. She is an attorney and a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, & USA Today Best Selling author. Over the last three years, ten of her titles have appeared on the USA Today Bestseller lists and three on the New York Times Bestseller lists.

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