Concierge (Black Raven #3) by Stella Barcelona-Review, Interview & Giveaway

Concierge (Black Raven #3) by Stella Barcelona-Review, Interview & Giveaway

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CONCIERGE
Black Raven #3
by Stella Barcelona
Release Date: September 27, 2017
Genre: adult ,contemporary, suspense

Concierge

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / B&N /

About the book:

The Concierge delivers anything…for a price.
A provider in the underworld of human trafficking, the Concierge fills deviant orders of an exclusive clientele with inventory collected from people who live on the streets. As client requests are delivered, a personal obsession with New Orleans artist Andi Hutchenson festers…until the predator’s quest is possession..

Andi Hutchenson lives in a world of fear-fueled shadows. Two and a half years ago, Andi was kidnapped, tortured, and left for dead. Since then, crippling fear has ruled her life. Round the clock security enables her to leave her French Quarter home to paint the world around her, but Andi’s past is about to collide with her lonely present.

Gabe Hernandez believes his client is safe…but she isn’t. Protecting Andi is a given, but Black Raven Agent Gabe Hernandez is captivated by her and wants to entice her back to the land of the living. Yet with each tug on the lifeline he offers, Gabe is pulled deeper into Andi’s world, where the dividing line between imagined horrors and real-life demons is whisper thin.

••••••••

Review:

Concierge begins with Andi Hutchenson believing that she’s seen a young woman kidnapped in broad daylight in the French Quarter, not far from her home. The Black Raven agents assigned to her detail saw nothing. Which causes Andi more stress because she doesn’t know if the agents are lacking or if she’s having hallucinations. Due to the fact that Andi is best friends with one of Black Raven’s founding partners, who still feels somewhat responsible for what happened to Andi, she is a high priority client. When she fires yet another agent, they send in Gabe Hernandez.

Agent Hernandez is known for his quick wit and his charm, but even more for his almost empathic abilities. Once he makes the scene, it doesn’t take too long for him to ascertain that there is more to Andi than meets the eye. She has basically shut herself off from society, the same society that she once enjoyed, almost to the extreme. But what makes her stand out for Gabe, other than being a beyond gifted artist, is the way she sees herself….broken. That is NOT what he sees. He sees a beautiful, determined woman who is doing her best to navigate through what’s happened to her and try and make herself whole again. He makes it his mission to get her see to herself the way he does: unstoppable.

Andi tries to resist Gabe’s charm. She’s never even known another agent’s name. He invades her space, almost daring her to fire him, which she wants to do, but for some reason can’t. She eventually starts to feel something she hasn’t felt for two and a half years….safe. Just as Gabe starts to convince her that he’s the real deal, and so is she, evil rears its ugly head and upsets the calm they’ve been striving for. As Gabe and almost the entire Black Raven team race against the clock to save Andi, all he can do is pray that she’s still alive.

Wow……….just wow.

Concierge is an intense story from beginning to end. Your heart breaks for Andi and what she’s endured. It will also beat with pride as she is determined to make it out the other side of what happened to her. Yes, there are times that she doesn’t think she’ll be able to do it. Yes, there are times that she second guesses all aspects of her life that led up to her being kidnapped and tortured. Gabe is just what she needed. Of course, he’s charming and all of that, but it’s his empathic side that allows him to see Andi in a way that she doesn’t even see herself. All she has to do is believe in herself and in his steadfast support. Easier said than done when you’ve been through what she’s been through.

I have to say that there are a couple of parts of this book that are very dark. One particular scene in the beginning almost had me putting the book down, but I will say that I’m glad I didn’t. The Concierge (character) is a twisted, perverse being and Barcelona held nothing back in her portrayal of that character. Thankfully, there are only a few scenes where we are subjected to the Concierge’s whims. With all of that said, this book is by far my favorite in the series, and that’s saying a lot. Intense really isn’t a good enough word to describe it, but that’s what I’m going with. There is also not a problem reading this as a standalone. If you’re a fan of fast paced thrillers with phenomenal leads, sizzling romance and awesome secondary characters, you will never go wrong with one of Barcelona’s stories. I cannot wait for the next installment. Well done, Stella Barcelona! Very, very well done!!! (p.s. Stella Barcelona, please tell me Ragno’s story is coming soon!!!!)

Reading Order and Previous Reviews
Deceived
Shadows
Jigsaw
Concierge

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Vickie M.

Interview

TRC: Hi Stella and welcome back to The Reading Café.

stella barcelonaStella: Thank you so much for inviting me. It’s great to be here.

TRC: Congratulations on the release of CONCIERGE, the third book in your BLACK RAVEN series.

Stella: Thank you!

TRC: We would like to start with some background information for anyone who doesn’t know Stella Barcelona. Would you please tell us something about yourself?

Follow Stella: Website / Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook

Stella: I write romantic thrillers. When I’m not writing, I’m a lawyer. I work for a court in New Orleans, Louisiana. I’ve lived in and around New Orleans my entire life. During one very special time in my past, I lived in an apartment in the heart of the French Quarter, in Jackson Square. I’m also a dog lover, and I have two adorable papillons, who appear occasionally on my website and my Facebook page.

TRC: What has been happening in your life since last we spoke?

Stella: I’ve been busy writing! As you know, Deceived was published in 2014. Since then, I released Shadows and Jigsaw, and most recently I released Concierge.

I’ve also revamped my website, stellabarcelona.com. I write blogs from time to time, some book related, some not. I’ve included book club discussion questions on my website for each of my novels; the discussion questions give insight regarding themes that intrigued me as I wrote each novel. I also have an “Ask Stella” blog, where people ask questions that I answer on my site. I love to hear from readers, so please visit my website and say hello!

ConciergeTRC: Would you please tell us something about the premise of CONCIERGE and THE BLACK RAVEN series?

Stella: “Black Raven” is shorthand for a continuing character in my novels, the security agency Black Raven Private Security Contractors. Each story that I write in the Black Raven series involves a high-stakes job for one or more agents.

In Concierge, A Black Raven Novel, after spending time in far away places in Shadows and Jigsaw, the action returns to New Orleans, Louisiana. The story involves a private security detail provided by Black Raven for an artist, where the job quickly goes awry in unexpected ways.

Concierge is set in and around a neighborhood where I once lived—the French Quarter. In the story, I provide a local’s glimpse of the chaos that ensues in the days leading to Fat Tuesday. It’s a thriller, where the action takes place along Royal Street, Frenchmen Street, Esplanade Avenue, and beyond.

Twists and turns will take the reader along French Quarter streets, into a world where peril ensnares vulnerable people who make the streets their home. In particular, a young musician who goes by the name “Pic” plays an important role in Concierge. Pic, a runaway who lives on the streets, was inspired by people I encountered while living in the Pontalba Apartments, in Jackson Square.

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

Stella: Although I spend significant pre-writing time conceptualizing each story, the time that I spend researching and plotting varies with each book.

In the pre-writing time, I usually develop the parameters of the Black Raven job that will drive the story. From there, I research thematic elements. My research results tend to drive some of the plot points. I add character development into the mix, and then I research the setting.

I develop points for chapters and scenes and lay everything out on a plot board, following, somewhat loosely, the method of plotting by color I learned from fellow author, and friend, Cherry Adair. I tend to rearrange everything for a while and obsess even more about various plot points and characterization. When I’m really, really tired of plotting, I start writing.

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

Stella: Names are difficult! I’m somewhat random with name selection in the beginning, then have to change the names midway through the story. For example, when writing Jigsaw I realized I had several characters with names that started with an “M.” It was confusing, so I had to come up with new names. It wasn’t fun, because I had been working on the story for months. It was hard to think of the characters with their new names.

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

Stella: If anything, it made me more determined to be a productive author. My goal was never to simply write one book and then stop. My goal has always been to be a storyteller. Since stories always play in my mind, I have more than one story to tell. Finding readers for Deceived, my first novel, and each subsequent novel, has made the entire process a worthwhile, rewarding endeavor.

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

Stella: There are a few that come to mind, BUT, the hardest, by far, was one particular bridge scene in Jigsaw. I’m trying not to give too much away- but the scene takes place in Paris, on the Pont Neuf. The hero, Zeus Hernandez, has to think and act fast to stop an explosion. The scene is short, but it took me forever to write. To this day, I can’t explain why it was so difficult for me.

TRC: There is a fine line between romance, erotic, and erotica in many of today’s popular contemporary fiction. Many authors are re-issuing their previously erotic story lines with ‘cleaner’ versions without the use of over the top, sexually graphic language and text. What do you believe has precipitated this move or change in direction?

Stella: Though my novels have a sensual element, I don’t consider myself an erotica author. I can’t really speculate on the reasons why erotica authors may be re-issuing their books with ‘cleaner’ versions. It sounds interesting, though, and it makes me wonder whether the reverse would work as well. Should authors of non-erotic fiction re-issue their books with more erotic scenes set within?

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?

Stella: I believe covers are extremely important, but truly, I think the quality of the story told within is even more important than the cover. Nevertheless, because of the importance of having covers that capture the imagination of readers, I tend to be extremely selective regarding cover elements. Recently, I wrote a blog about the cover of Concierge on my website. The blog, entitled “Musings…On the Cover of Concierge,” gives a bit of insight as to the depth of my obsession with covers.

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

Stella: Yes! I love to listen to music as I write. The louder it is, the better! It’s difficult to explain why music facilitates my writing, but I think the beat translates to story pacing. Fast paced songs remind me to incorporate action, while slower, more emotional songs remind me to reveal what my characters are feeling.

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

Stella: One misconception is that authors always feel inspired to write. In reality, at least for me, getting from the beginning to the end of a reader-worthy story is hard work that requires extreme diligence and self-discipline.

Also, I’m not sure the creative process will ever become easy, even though writing is something I love to do. I equate the difficulty that comes with producing a novel with the sort of difficulty I experienced in my third and final year of law school. The classes in that third year weren’t magically easier just because I had been through two years of law school. To perform in that third year at the level I hoped to achieve, I still had to work hard. The same goes with writing.

TRC: On what are you currently working?

Stella: I’m writing my next Black Raven novel, entitled “Insertion.” It’s set in Alaska … and … Stay tuned! It will be released in 2018.

TRC: Would you like to add anything else?

Stella: Yes – I love to hear from readers, so please reach out and say hi, either on Facebook or through my website.

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

Stella: You’re welcome, and thank you!

Giveaway

Stella is graciously offering a $25 Amazon gift card + a hand-blown glass fleur de lis paperweight + an autographed copy of Concierge. 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 and Follow Stella Barcelona on Facebook

4. LIKE us on FACEBOOK and then click GET NOTIFICATION under ‘liked’ for an additional entry.

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

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7. Please follow The Reading Cafe on Tumblr

8. Giveaway open to USA only

9.. Giveaway runs from October 13-18, 2017

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Hot Pursuit (Black Knights Inc. #11) by Julie Ann Walker-Review, Excerpt & Giveaway

HOT PURSUIT (Black Knights Inc. #11) by Julie Ann Walker-Review, Excerpt & Giveaway

Hot Pursuit

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

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date October 3, 2017

He puts the hot…
Christian Watson, a former SAS officer and current BKI operator, never thought he would return to England after a terrible turn of events forced him to abandon his homeland. But now he’s back on British soil where old enemies are determined to do him in. Fighting for his life is pretty much SOP for Christian. Doing it with the beautiful, bossy Emily Scott in tow is another matter entirely.

In hot pursuit.
Emily lost her coveted job at the CIA because of a colleague turned rogue, and now she has just one rule when it comes to men: they’re for recreational purposes only. But when she and Christian are thrust into very close quarters while evading two mysterious men who want Christian dead, she can’t help but question all her ideas about love and life lived on the edge. Battling the bad guys is hard enough, battling her feelings for Christian just might prove impossible.

••••••••••

REVIEW: HOT PURSUIT is the eleventh installment in Julie Ann Walker’s contemporary, adult BLACK KNIGHTS INC romantic suspense /military, action series focusing on an elite group of ex Navy SEALS, FBI, CIA and military heroes headquartered at a custom motorcycle shop in Chicago known as Black Knights Inc. The men and women of Black Knights Inc. are so far under the radar that they are blacker than Black Ops. This is former British SAS agent Christian Watson, and former CIA employee Emily Scott. HOT PURSUIT can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty. Any important information from the previous story lines is revealed where necessary. Both Christian and Emily were introduced in earlier installments.

Told from several third person perspectives including Christian and Emily HOT PURSUIT picks up immediately upon the events of book ten FUEL FOR FIRE, and follows Christian, Emily, Jamin ‘Angel’ Agassi, former Navy pilot Colby Ventura, and former CIA operative Rusty Parker through Europe as they continue their search for the mysterious and elusive ‘Spider’ whose illegal business operations and ties have endangered the BKI team members both in Europe and back home. As the group endeavors to stay off the radar, the team becomes embroiled in a personal vendetta against one of their own. What ensues is the struggle to stay one step ahead of someone gunning for our story line hero; and the building but acrimonious relationship between Christian and Emily.

Emily and Christian have been dancing around one another for a sometime but our heroine is reluctant to get involved with Christian Watson. Christian’s past is darkened by memories of an abusive childhood, as well as time spent as a prisoner of war where he faced torture, and threats from his captors. Emily’s childhood and her parent’s numerous marriages have become the barometer against which she bases all of her own relationships and interactions, a barometer that refuses to allow our heroine to fall in love. Christian is a sexy, tattooed, and brooding well-dressed Brit who pushes all of Emily’s buttons- buttons she pushes back against Christian in return. The $ex scenes are limited, seductive and intense without the use of over the top, sexually graphic language and text.

There is a building story line and relationship between Colby Ventura and Rusty Parker. Both men are attracted to one another but Rusty has yet to come out of the proverbial closet and in this Colby struggles with his attraction to a man who is unwilling to admit the truth. A history of love and loss forces Colby to reveal the how and why of his battle with the man to whom he is attracted but Rusty’s reasons are in direct conflict to Colby’s previous loss.

There is a large ensemble cast of secondary and supporting characters including Angel, Colby and Rusty; police officers and brothers Ben and Lawrence Michelson, as well as several members of the BKI Team-Samantha Tate and Ozzie Sykes, Mac and Delilah McMillan, Penni (Dan) Currington, and Frank ‘Boss’ Knight and his wife Becky.

The world building continues to follow the latest assignment as the BKI Team in Europe searches for a dangerous businessman and possible killer.

HOT PURSUIT is a story of friendship and love; heartbreak and painful memories; revelations, the truth, intrigue, betrayal and revenge. The premise is exciting and entertaining; the characters are colorful, charismatic and dynamic-there is plenty of sexually charged back and forth banter; the romance is provocative. The story line involving the person known as ‘Spider’ was virtually non-existent but new revelations and information reveal a possible connection to one of the BKI heroes. Julie Ann Walker’s BLACK KNIGHTS INC. is an addicting series with great character interactions that humanize the heroes and heroines we love to follow.

Copy supplied by the publisher through Netgalley

Reviewed by Sandy

Hot Pursuit promo

excerpt

What was he doing?
What the bloody hell was he doing?
Emily didn’t realize it, but all her acts of caring, her selfless moments of kindness—from waking him from his nightmare to pulling him into the cab of the pickup truck—had torn open his chest, ripped out his heart, and served it up on a platter.
Then, when she had stepped in front of him, ready to take a bullet that was bloody well meant for him, he had stopped pretending that what he felt for her was lust mixed with a heavy dose of vexation. Stopped pretending that he wasn’t completely arse over teakettle about everything she did, everything she said. Each smile. Each laugh. Each witty quip.
In that moment, he had known. Heart. On. A. Platter.
All she had to do was take it.
Unfortunately, he was the one taking.
Taking a kiss she hadn’t granted. Taking a taste she didn’t return. Taking advantage of a beastly situation.
Had he lost his mind? Had he forgotten the unwritten rule? The one that was bold, underlined, and all in caps?
Not to mention, he’d lost control of himself, of the moment. He blamed it on the memory of Emily in that bastard’s grip. The sight of her there—a pistol to her head, her eyes wide with fear, but her jaw gritted tight because she refused to give in to it—was forever tattooed onto the backs of his eyelids. He knew he’d see it when he closed his eyes at night.
It took effort, but he ripped his mouth away from Emily’s and dropped his hands. Curling his fingers into fists, he locked his jaw until his molars begged for mercy.
“Whaaa?” She blinked up at him through the rain in confusion.
“Sorry.” He ground out. The word was guttural. Hard. “I shouldn’t have…” He shook his head, water flying from the ends of his hair. “Just…sorry, okay?”
Her mouth opened in a bewildered little O. That mouth that tasted like mint toothpaste with a lingering hint of buttered toast. His favorite flavor used to be Welsh cakes, but now it was Emily. Emily and her mint toothpaste with lingering hints of buttered toast.
“That won’t happen again,” he assured her before grabbing her hand and towing her toward the others.
He had thought for sure the man in the black pants and the white shirt was dead. Ben’s shot looked as if it had drilled the bloke directly in the heart. Which meant Christian felt like a total prat for stopping to ask Emily why she had stepped in front of him—for stopping to kiss her—when they arrived in time to hear the decidedly alive man whisper his name. “Philippe Dubois.”
“You’re Boss’s friend,” Ace said, applying pressure to Philippe’s wound. “You’re the former Armée de L’Air commandant.”
“Oui. C’est moi,” Philippe managed, water dripping from his chin and earlobes. He wasn’t wheezing. That was good. Meant the bullet hadn’t collapsed his lung.
“Don’t try to talk, Philippe,” Ace told him. “Rusty, call airport security.”
Christian was already pulling his mobile from his soaking hip pocket. The rain had let up. No longer a deluge, it was now more of a steady drip. “We don’t need security. We need an ambulance. This man needs to go to hospital.”
He dialed 999 without hesitation and waited for his call to connect. Dropping his free hand back to his side, he was startled when Emily grabbed it, threading her fingers through his. They felt dainty, delicate. And freezing wet. He desperately wanted to kiss them warmer, kiss them dry.
Glancing at her, he blinked the water from his lashes but couldn’t stop the questions in his eyes. So you forgive me? For taking without asking? For kissing you when you’ve given me no indication you were interested?
Before she could answer, an operator’s voice sounded in his ear, all efficient and bored. After explaining the nature of Philippe’s wound and what had happened in the vaguest of terms, he gave the operator their location. When she asked for his name, he growled, “That’s not what’s bloody important. What’s bloody important is a man’s been shot and needs help. Hurry!” He abruptly hung up. “Help is on the way,” he announced.
Philippe’s white shirt was soaked with blood despite the pressure Ace applied.
“Damnit,” Christian growled, looking around for something to stanch the bleeding. Nothing else for it, he decided, dropping Emily’s hand—he really, truly hated doing that—and shrugging out of his coat. Next came his sweater. He tossed both pieces of clothing to her.
His white cotton undershirt was wet and sticking to his skin, but it would have to do.

About the author

Julie Ann WalkerFOLLOW Julie: Facebook / Goodreads / Website / Twitter

Julie Ann Walker is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of award-winning romantic suspense. She has won the Book Buyers Best Award, been nominated for the National Readers Choice Award, the Australian Romance Reader Awards, and the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA award. Her latest release was named a Top Ten Romance of 2014 by Booklist. Her books have been described as “alpha, edgy, and downright hot.” Most days you can find her on her bicycle along the lake shore in Chicago or blasting away at her keyboard, trying to wrangle her capricious imagination into submission.

Be sure to sign up for Julie’s occasional newsletter at: http://julieannwalker.com

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Halloween is Murder by Carolyn Arnold – a Review

Halloween is Murder by Carolyn Arnold – a Review

 

Halloween is MurderAmazon / B&N / Kobo / BAM / Book Depository

Description:
Beware of all that goes bump in the night…
 
Sean and Sara McKinley are excited about the haunted house they’ve set up as a Halloween charity fund-raiser, but things take a ghoulish turn when the reporter covering their story is found dead. With the media keeping mum about how she died, Sara’s curiosity is piqued, and she convinces Sean to take on the investigation through their PI firm.
 
But this case is not without its challenges. The police are actively investigating it, as well, and it’s not even clear that the woman was murdered. It will take a little cloak-and-dagger, dress-up, and finesse for the McKinleys to get to the bottom of it, but they aren’t the kind to give up.
 
As they troll for leads and work through the skeletons in the reporter’s closet, they unearth a few suspects, but they’ll need to carve out the whole truth if they’re going to find her killer. If they do so fast enough, there might even be time for a little trick-or-treating.

 

Review:

Halloween is Murder by Carolyn Arnold is the 11th book in her McKinley Mystery series.  Though this is the 11th book in this series , this was my first book and it read very well as a standalone. I have been reading Arnold’s other two series (Madison Knight and Brandon Fisher), which are both violent intense murder mysteries. When I decided to read this book, I did not know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised, as this was a fun mystery with a great couple who lead this series.

Sean and Sara McKinley are our heroes, who are married private detectives. Halloween is Murder begins with Sean and Sara promoting their haunted house to a TV reporter, promoting that all the profits go to charity. When the television spot did not appear on the local channel that evening, they learned that the female reporter died. Though they should not get involved in an open police case, nothing keeps Sara and Sean from doing their own investigation.

What follows is a nice murder mystery with multiple possible suspects. What I really
liked about this story was that we did not have any stress, or intense moments, just a nice &  fun old fashion mystery. Sean and Sara were both fun to watch, as well as their team. Halloween is Murder was very well written, a fast read, great characters, and a fun mystery with a resolution that I did not see coming. Carolyn Arnold has given us a different type of murder mystery and I enjoyed it very much.. If you like mysteries that are light,  fun reads, you should give this one a try.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy supplied for review

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The Wicked Billionaire (The Tate Brothers #2) by Jackie Ashenden-a review

THE WICKED BILLIONAIRE (The Tate Brothers #2) by Jackie Ashenden-a review

The Wicked Billionaire

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

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date October 3, 2017

The Tate Brothers were once orphans and they have been raised to do one thing only: protect what is theirs.

As a trained sniper and Navy SEAL, Lucas Tate found the courage to distance himself from the wealthy, wicked patriarch who adopted him. Instead, he’s devoted his life to the elite band of brothers from his unit. So when the widow of one of his former comrades finds herself in apparent danger, Lucas makes it his job to protect her against all enemies. . .and not let her out of his sights.

Grace Riley feels overwhelmed by Lucas’s presence, but the cold-eyed marksman will do anything to keep her safe. Soon the special attention he pays her becomes a wild romantic distraction―one that troubles Grace, since Lucas was so close to her deceased husband. Still, how can she resist Lucas’s intense, ice-blue stare? All she knows is that a life without strong, passionate Lucas is one not worth living. Can Lucas can find a way to honor his former brother-in-arms by saving Grace. . .and loving her, too?

••••••

REVIEW:  THE WICKED BILLIONAIRE is the second installment in Jackie Ashenden’s contemporary, adult THE TATE BROTHERS romantic, suspense series focusing on three foster brothers-Sullivan (Van), Wolf and Lucas Tate-as well as their foster sister Chloe Tate. This is Navy SEAL Lucas Tate, and artist/painter Grace Riley’s story line. THE WICKED BILLIONAIRE can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty. Any important information from the previous story line is revealed where necessary although I recommend reading the series in order for cohesion and backstory. Some of the events of THE WICKED BILLIONAIRE run parallel to, and cross over with the events of book one-The Dangerous Billionaire.

SOME BACKGROUND: In the aftermath of their father Noah Tate’s death, Van, Wolf and Lucas Tate are called home from active duty to find themselves the recipients of three letters outlining what the future has in store-letters from the grave asking each son for a final favor. There is a dark history between father and sons, marred by secrets and lies, and a father ill-equipped to look after the family he chose to raise.

Told from dual third person perspectives (Grace and Lucas) THE WICKED BILLIONAIRE focuses on the protection of artist Grace Riley. Grace’s husband Griffin Riley died with a secret, and that secret has come back looking for the payout that never came to fruition. A former Navy SEAL and a member of Lucas Tate’s team, Griffin worked the darker side of the military and his untimely demise finds his widow on the receiving end of a series of threats against her life. Enter Lucas Tate, the man with whom Grace will fall in love, but a man whose heart and soul have been destroyed by the sins of his past. What ensues is the building relationship between Lucas and Grace, and the fall out when Lucas pushes away the only woman he has ever loved.

Lucas Tate is a man surrounded by the demons of his past; memories that refuse to rest or let go of guilt that continues to destroy our story line hero. Alone and separated from the brothers of his heart, Lucas is the epitome of a broken, alpha male who is unable to forgive or forget about the past. Grace Riley believes herself to be the ugly duckling; the ‘plain Jane’ whose talent and artistry are unacceptable-a belief reinforced by a father whose own career failed before it began.

The relationship between Grace and Lucas is fraught with mutual self-doubt reinforced by childhoods fraught with disapproval, humiliation and degrading remarks. Lucas doesn’t have a very high opinion of our story line heroine-an opinion that clouds his perception of the woman he believes to be ugly and plain. Basic social interactions are difficult with a man who isn’t willing to accept Grace for the woman she has become. The $ex scenes are intimate and provocative.

THE WICKED BILLIONAIRE continues to focus on the Tate family dysfunctional dynamics-three brothers who struggle in the aftermath of their father’s death, and the directives each has been ordered to follow through until the end. The premise is heartbreaking and engaging; the characters are broken, colorful and charismatic; the romance struggles with one man’s belief is he incapable of love.

Click HERE for Sandy’s review of book one-THE DANGEROUS BILLIONAIRE

Copy supplied by Netgalley

Reviewed by Sandy

About the Author

Jackie AshendenFOLLOW: Goodreads /Website / Twitter / Facebook

Jackie Ashenden lives in Auckland, New Zealand with her husband, the inimitable Dr. Jax, and their two kids and two cats. When she’s not torturing alpha males and their stroppy heroines, she can be found drinking chocolate martinis, reading anything she can lay her hands on, posting random crap on her blog, or being forced to go mountain biking with her husband.

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Savage Rising (Redemption Harbor #2) by Katie Reus-Review Tour & Giveaway

SAVAGE RISING (Redemption Harbor #2) by Katie Reus-Review Tour and Giveaway

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SAVAGE RISING
Redemption Harbor #2
by Katie Reus
Release Date: September 26, 2017
Genre: adult, contemporary, erotic, romantic, suspense

Savage Rising

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / Barnes & Noble NookChapters Indigo /

iBooks | iTunes (audio) | Audible (audio) | Kobo

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date September 26, 2017

He’s a former Marine, her new fake boyfriend, and the only way to escape her dangerous past.

Having a child changed everything for Olivia—she vowed to keep her little girl safe from the mistakes of her past. But when the most dangerous person she ever met blackmails her into doing one last heist, the world she’s so carefully built goes into a tailspin. Frantic, she heads to Redemption Harbor in search of help. Sparks fly when she meets Savage, a man who will do anything to keep Olivia and her daughter safe. He’ll help her get her life back, but can he handle seeing who she once was?

Can they pull it off?

Savage poses as her obsessive ex during a daring undercover operation—and soon the line between reality and their cover story becomes blurred. He’ll use every trick he knows to keep the sensual woman alive and out of jail—and in his life. But the clock is ticking and if they can’t find a way to trust each other, no one will make it out alive.

•••••••••••

REVIEW: SAVAGE RISING is the second intalment in Katie Reus’ contemporary, adult REDEMPTION HARBOR romantic, suspense series focusing on a tight knit group of friends who grew up together but now work security and Black Ops investigations for Redemption Harbor Consulting. This is former Marine Zac Savage, and single mother/thief/ security specialist Olivia Carter’s story line. SAVAGE RISING can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty. Any important information from the previous instalment is revealed where necessary.

Told from several third person perspectives including Zac and Olivia SAVAGE RISING focuses on Olivia as she comes face to face with a past she thought she put behind her. A former thief who specialized in big paydays Olivia walked away from the lifestyle following the birth of her daughter. When a former ‘colleague’ threatens the people that she loves, our heroine is forced to do one last job. On the run, Olivia seeks helps from Skye Arevalo, who works and lives in Redemption Harbor. Enter Zac Savage, former Marine and Redemption Harbor Consulting team member, and the man with whom Olivia will fall in love. What ensues is the building relationship between Zac and Olivia, as they go undercover as a couple in the hopes of uncovering the truth behind the threats against Olivia and the people she loves.

Olivia Carter is a single mother whose six-year old daughter Valencia is hearing impaired. When someone from her past threatens not only Valencia but her daughter’s nanny as well, Olivia knows it is time to run. Zac Savage doesn’t do relationships but his attraction to Olivia is immediate and intense. A past mired in too many kills, Zac struggles with his path in life. Pretending to be a couple comes with the perks of the ‘job’ but Zac will soon lose his heart to Olivia knowing their time is limited once the threats against Valencia have been quelled.

The relationship between Olivia and Zac is one of immediate attraction but Zac knows protecting Olivia and gathering information is first and foremost in his mind. Zac will play the over protective lover of our story line heroine- an act that comes too easily for the former Marine. The $ex scenes are seductive and intense; the sexual attraction is palpable.

There is a large ensemble cast of secondary and supporting characters including the men and women who work for Redemption Harbor Consulting: Mary Grace and Mercer, Colt Stuart and Skye Arevalo (Resurrection #1), Leighton Cannon, Gage Yates, Brooks Alexander and his father Douglas; as well as Valencia’s nanny Martina Cruz, and DEA Agent Darius Moore. The requisite evil has many faces including Olivia’s former partner in crime Kyle Neely, and Valencia’s father Heath Price. The entire Redemption Harbor team of ex-military personnel will set up and take down the people threatening our story line heroine. There is something brewing between Douglas and Martina; I hope the author has plans for Agent Darius Moore.

SAVAGE RISING is a story of action and suspense; a fake relationship trope that grows into something more. The premise is dramatic, intense and entertaining; the characters are colorful, edgy and charismatic; the romance is captivating and passionate. SAVAGE RISING is a spirited and thrilling story about retribution and revenge with a remarkable cast of friends and family-by choice.

Click HERE for Sandy’s review of book one-RESURRECTION

Copy supplied by Netgalley

Reviewed by Sandy

About the author

Katie ReusKatie Reus is the New York Times, USA Today, and IndieReader bestselling author of the Red Stone Security series, the Moon Shifter series and the Deadly Ops series. She fell in love with romance at a young age thanks to books she pilfered from her mom’s stash. Years later she loves reading romance almost as much as she loves writing it.

However, she didn’t always know she wanted to be a writer. After changing majors many times, she finally graduated summa cum laude with a degree in psychology. Not long after that she discovered a new love. Writing. She now spends her days writing dark paranormal romance and sexy romantic suspense. Her book Avenger’s Heat recently won the Georgia RWA Maggie Award for Excellence in the fantasy/paranormal category.

Connect with Katie:

Facebook | Blog| Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Website

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Such a Pretty Girl by Tess Diamond – a Review

Such a Pretty Girl by Tess Diamond – a Review

 

Such a Pretty GirlAmazon / B&N / Kobo / BAM / Book Depository

Description:
In Grace Sinclair’s bestselling crime novels, the good guys win and the bad guys always get caught. As the FBI’s top profiler, she knows that real life is rarely so straightforward. But her new case isn’t just brutal—it’s also personal. The victims look like Grace. And the FBI recruit assigned to her team is trouble of another kind.

 This isn’t how Special Agent Gavin Walker imagined running into Grace again. Two years ago they shared one earth-shattering night, then she vanished from his life. She’s brilliant, fiercely independent, and in mortal danger from a killer masterminding a twisted game …

The body count is rising. Entangled in the case and in each other, Gavin and Grace are running out of time and chances. And as Grace puts the pieces together, she knows she’ll have to confront her own deepest secrets before the final, fatal move is played.

 

Review:

Such a Pretty Girl by Tess Diamond is an exciting, well written and intense psychological thriller. Grace Sinclair, our heroine, writes crime mystery novels, but Grace is also a profiler with the FBI.  Grace loves her job, helping to find the bad guys, and devotes everything to her job, with writing being something to relax her.  When she attends an awards ceremony, even though she is one of the winners; she leaves early to go visit a crime scene. 

Gavin Walker, a former cop, is now a new agent with the FBI.  His first assignment is to pick up Grace and become her partner for this new case.  When Grace sees him, she is shocked.  Two years before, both Grace and Gavin had a one night stand, and Gavin has not forgotten it, since she was gone before he woke up.  Now though a bit uncomfortable, they need to work together. Grace is one of the best at her job, totally brilliant and independent, but as the murders begin to escalate, she begins to see clues that this is a serial murderer.

Gavin surprises Grace at how well he understands and reads her thoughts.  They work very well together, and a slow build romance will begin as they work closely in this intense case.   The romance does take a backseat to the investigation, but it adds a nice element. The crimes are violent, and soon Grace recognizes that the killer is someone she knows, and she is to be the final victim.  Gavin is determined to protect Grace at all costs, but the race is on to find the killer before he kills someone close to Grace.

Being a thriller with lots of twists and surprises, I will not tell too much more, which could ruin it for you.  What follows is an exciting, dark, suspenseful adventure that holds you on the edge of your seat.  I loved how strong Grace was, especially when she realized that the killer was someone from her past, and this was personal.  I also loved Gave and Grace together, and they did make a nice team, not to mention they sizzled together. Tess Diamond knocked this out of the park.  I loved every moment of this book. If you like thrilling murder mysteries, with a bit of romance, then I suggest you read Such a Pretty Girl

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher

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Contracted Defense (Safeguard #3) by Piper J. Drake-Review, Excerpt & Giveaway Tour

CONTRACTED DEFENSE (Safeguard #3) by Piper Drake-Review, Excerpt & Giveaway Tour

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CONTRACTED DEFENSE
Safeguard #3
by Piper J. Drake
Genre: adult, contemporary,erotic, romantic suspense
Release Date: September 15, 2017

Contracted Defense

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

About the book: Release Date September 15, 2017

Time is running out and the enemy is at the gate.

Adam Hicks may be the rookie at Safeguard, but he’s no novice in the field. Retired from active duty after multiple tours and back fresh from a brief rest in New Zealand, he’s itching to return to action. But the challenge he hoped for arrives in an unexpected form: his sexy yet stern new partner.

The last thing Victoria Ash wants is to work with the new guy—especially one as gorgeous as Adam. His relaxed attitude about their first “easy” assignment together—setting up a private home defense network for a reclusive client—doesn’t impress her. Easy usually means trouble. She’s proved right when Adam discovers that the multiple incursions on the physical and cyber security systems aren’t just glitches. They’re under attack…and there’s a traitor in their midst.

As tension mounts, so does the attraction between Victoria and Adam. They must protect their client and the research he’s desperately trying to keep secret. Working together, they have to find the mole before their defense measures, in the fortress and online, are compromised and the deadly secrets they’ve sworn to protect are revealed.

••••••••

REVIEW: CONTRACTED DEFENSE is the third installment in Piper Drake’s contemporary, adult SAFEGUARD romantic, suspense series focusing on the men and women who work for the SAFEGUARD Division of the Centurion Corporation-military veterans turned mercenaries for hire who specialize in protection and security. This is Safeguard agent Victoria Ash, and former US solider Adam Hicks’ story line. CONTRACTED DEFENSE can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty. Any important information from previous story lines is revealed where necessary but I would recommend reading the series in order as there is an ongoing premise and threat throughout.

Told from dual third person perspectives (Victoria and Adam) CONTRACTED DEFENSE focuses on the Safeguard’s latest assignment-a well to do businessman whose need for protection appears unwarranted. With a well-trained security team already in place, Safeguard sends in Victoria Ash, and newcomer Adam Hicks- Victoria’s one-night stand from the night before, and the man with whom Victoria will fall in love. As Victoria and Adam struggle to ensure their latest contract duties are met, secrets behind the walls of the beautiful estate place our leading couple in a perilous situation. What ensues is the building romance between Victoria and Adam, and the potential fall-out as Safeguard Security falls victim to a former adversary.

The relationship between Victoria and Adam is one of immediate attraction. When Victoria is partnered with her anonymous one-night stand she is reluctant to further explore the attraction between them. Adam is willing to give their relationship a try but Victoria is fresh off a divorce, and the resulting aftermath has hardened her heart. The $ex scenes are intimate and seductive without the use of over the top, sexually graphic language and text.

There is a large ensemble cast of secondary and supporting characters including Gabriel Diaz and his fiancée Maylin Chen (Hidden Impact #1) , sniper Lizzy Scott (Deadly Testimony #2) : billionaire businessman Roland Edwards; Roland’s in house security team- Dante, Ray, Brian and Jay- a man who struggles with Adam’s presence on his latest assignment.

CONTRACTED DEFENSE continues to focus on the negative rumors circulating throughout the security industry-rumors that are directly affecting Safeguard’s contracts and their bottom line. Their battle with Phoenix Biotech does not appear to be over although their relationship with Seattle law enforcement and the US Marshals office should have garnered most positive coverage.

CONTRACTED DEFENSE is a story of suspense, intrigue, romance and love. The premise is energetic and exciting although the guilty party is easily deduced; the characters are spirited and dynamic; the romance is intimate and intense.

CONTRACTED DEFENSE is a sexy, passionate and dramatic story line that will captivate your attention from the very start.

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Sandy

—————–

Hidden ImpactHIDDEN IMPACT
(Safeguard #1)
by Piper J. Drake
Genre: adult, contemporary, erotic, romantic suspense

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / B&N / KOBO / itunes /

About the book : November 9, 2015

He’s not the hero she’s looking for…

As part of the elite Centurion Corporation team, military-veteran-turned-mercenary Gabriel Diaz is a natural defender. He’ll do anything to ensure a mission is successful. Anything but get emotionally invested—he learned the hard way that can be deadly. Easy bodyguard jobs in between the more challenging missions are all he’s interested in now.

Maylin Cheng is desperate and running out of time. Her younger sister has gone missing but no one seems to take her concern seriously. Her last hope lies in asking an aloof bodyguard for help. He dismisses her outright, but all that changes when she is almost killed in a not-so-accidental hit-and-run right before his eyes.

As Maylin leans on Gabriel, she begins to rely on him for more than just her safety. But as their attraction grows, so does the danger surrounding them. When the elaborate web they’re trapped in unravels, Gabriel will do anything to protect them. Even if that means putting his heart in the crosshairs.

Book one of the Safeguard series

••••••

REVIEW: HIDDEN IMPACT is the first installment in Piper J. Drake’s contemporary, adult SAFEGUARD romantic, suspense series focusing on the men and women who work for the SAFEGUARD security agency. This is US military veteran/mercenary for hire Gabriel Diaz, and caterer Maylin Cheng’s story line.

Told from dual third person perspectives (Gabriel and Maylin) HIDDEN IMPACT focuses on the search for a missing person. Caterer Maylin Cheng is desperate to locate her sister who was abducted at a genetics conference in China , and her latest catering job brings our heroine up close and personal with the Centurion Corporation- an elite group of former military personnel; private military contractors for hire. Enter Gabriel Diaz, the man with whom Maylin will fall in love. What ensues is the building relationship between Maylin and Gabriel; the search and rescue of An-Mei Cheng; and the revelation that the Centurion Corporation has been targeted from someone once on the inside. The Centurion Corporation is a training center for private military contractors who work ‘outside’ of the US and international laws but there are threats against the mercenaries for hire-threats that are both professional and personal.

The relationship between Maylin and Gabriel is one of immediate attraction but Gabriel knows to fall in love would mean to threaten his position within the Centurion Corporation. Maylin’s attraction to Gabe is palpable, and in this she is determined to seduce the man with whom she is falling in love. Maylin is a strong heroine; and Gabe’s protective nature does not come with the alphahole attitude that many romantic suspense heroes have ingrained. The $ex scenes are intimate and seductive without the use of over the top, sexually graphic language and text.

We are introduced to Gabriel’s fellow teammates including sniper Lizzy Scott, Victoria Ash, and her partner Marc; Harte-the man in charge of the Centurion Corporation; and Jewel, Gabriel’s former lover. The requisite evil has many faces including the Edict –another private military contractor out to destroy the Centurion Corporation.

HIDDEN IMPACT is a quick read; an action packed story of intrigue, romance and suspense. The premise is entertaining and exciting; the characters are sexy and colorful; the romance is erotic and passionate.

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Sandy

Excerpt

Adam stepped back, drawing her attention to him and tapping the dry-erase marker against the palm of one hand. “If one of us was planning an attack on this place, what would we do?”
Easy. Planning an attack was easier in her mind than planning the defense of a place. She immediately ran through any number of possible approaches to gather information about the defenses and security.
And his point hit her right in the chest. “The alarm. It wasn’t to check to see if there was an alarm. It was to time the response from the security team and local police.”
Possibly, it was to time how long it would take for Victoria and Adam to arrive on site.
Adam turned to face her. “There is an impending attack in the works. We have no idea what the scale is or even why. But Roland is not delusional.”
Suddenly, this mission was a whole lot more serious, and Adam, to her eyes, was looking incredibly dangerous.
“Let’s get back to setting up the layered defenses then.” Before she jumped him, right against the wall.

About The author

 

Piper J DrakePiper J. Drake is a bestselling author of romantic suspense and edgy contemporary romance, a frequent flyer, and day job road warrior. She is often distracted by dogs, cupcakes, and random shenanigans.Connect with Piper at: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Google + | GoodReads | Youtube

 

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Protecting Dakota (SEAL of Protection #9 /Sleeper SEALs #1) by Susan Stoker-Review & Excerpt Tour

PROTECTING DAKOTA (SEAL of Protection #9 / Sleeper SEALs #1) by Susan Stoker-Review and Excerpt Tour

Protecting Dakota

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / B&N / KOBO / ibooks /

About the book: Release Date September 5, 2017

PROTECTING DAKOTA

Dakota James’s life has become the stuff of nightmares. The leader of the Ansar al-Shari’a terrorist group has become obsessed with her, determined to take her as his wife. On the run, she’ll have to pin her hopes on the retired SEAL charged with finding and stopping Aziz Fourati before he can carry out plans to bomb more US airports.

Recently recruited to join a sleeper SEAL team tasked with fighting terrorism on US soil, Slade “Cutter” Cutsinger, with the help of some Special Forces friends, has located the one woman who can identify the deadly Ansar al-Shari’a leader. That was the easy part. Keeping her safe proves more difficult than anyone ever imagined.

When she and her new friend, Caroline, are kidnapped by the terrorist group, Dakota can only pray Cutter and the SEALs will reach them before they’re taken out of the country—and away from Cutter forever.

** Protecting Dakota is a part of the SEAL of Protection Series. It is also in the “Sleeper SEAL” connected series. Each book is a stand-alone, with no cliffhanger endings.

Each book in this multi-author branded series is a standalone novel, and the series does not have to be read in order.

•••••••••

REVIEW: PROTECTING DAKOTA is the ninth installment in Susan Stoker’s contemporary, adult SEAL of PROTECTION romantic, military suspense series focusing on a group of current and former Navy SEALS. This is forty eight year old, retired SEAL Slade ‘Cutter’ Cutsinger, and forty three year old, primary school principal Dakota James’s story line. PROTECTING DAKOTA is also the first installment in the multi-authored SLEEPER SEALs anthology series. Each book in the Sleeper SEAL series can be read as a stand alone, and the series does not have to be read in order.

NOTE: PROTECTING DAKOTA contains scenes of graphic violence and sexual assault that may not be suitable for all readers.

Told from dual third person perspectives (Dakota and Slade) PROTECTING DAKOTA focuses on the protection of Dakota James. Dakota is on the run; in hiding; and the only surviving witness to a terrorist bombing at LAX. The leader of the terrorist organization known as Ansar al-Shari’a, Aziz Fourati, has declared war on the US targeting airports around the country, and has made it known that he is determined to take Dakota as his wife. Enter Slade ‘Cutter’ Cutsinger, a retired Navy SEAL who has been recruited by a Sleeper SEAL unit whose missions are dark, off the records, and in no way connected to any other government agency. What ensues is the search for Dakota James, the building relationship between Dakota and Slade, and the fall out when the mission and Dakota’s whereabouts have been compromised by an unknown source.

Dakota James loves her job as a primary school principal but threats against the people and children she loved forced our heroine on the run, trying to stay one step ahead of a mad man determined to make Dakota his wife. Slade Cutsinger’s call back to ‘active duty’ brings our hero up close and personal with the military’s new Sleeper SEALs unit of retired SEALs-a unit where each mission requires a single SEAL to extract or protect on his own. Seeing Dakota’s images immediately sparks interest in our retired Navy SEAL-a longing to be part of a relationship with a woman to love.

The relationship between Dakota and Slade is one of immediate attraction; a story of insta-love, and I mean INSTANT love between two people pulled together by circumstance and threats. The $ex scenes are sensual but limited; mostly implied with the exception of the final erotic scene between our leading couple.

There is a large ensemble cast of secondary and supporting characters including Dakota’s father Finnegan James; Slade’s Retired Navy Commander Greg Lambert; Navy SEAL Matthew ‘Wolf’ Steel and his wife Caroline, Kason “Benny” Sawyer , and Wolf’s commander Patrick Hurt.

PROTECTING DAKOTA is a fast paced, story of suspense and romance. The premise is energetic; the characters are spirited; the romance is passionate and engaging.

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Sandy

excerpt

Exactly twenty minutes later, Slade knocked on the door of the trailer. Even being apart from her that long was somehow painful. He kept imagining someone sneaking in through the other door and taking Dakota away from him. He might have been upset at his thoughts, except there was every reason for him to believe someone might do just that.
Until he could get Dakota out of Rachel and back where he had cell phone reception to call Tex and make sure they were still in the clear, he wasn’t going to take any chances.
Instead of returning to the bar, Slade leaned against the side of the A’Le’Inn and kept watch over the trailer while Dakota showered. He might be going overboard, but he didn’t think so. She’d been dead to the world when he’d opened the passenger door to her car that morning. She hadn’t even twitched when he’d shut it, either. If he could sneak up on her that easily, so could anyone else. And the thought of Fourati or any of his followers getting their hands on her made him want to hit something.
“I’m ready,” Dakota called out in response to his knock. “Come in.”
Slade turned the knob and entered the small but cozy trailer. As far as accommodations went, it wouldn’t win any traveler awards, but for this town it was downright palatial.
“I saved part of my donut for you,” Dakota told him somewhat shyly.
If he hadn’t already been halfway in love with her, that would’ve sent him over the edge. He knew how much she treasured those maple-frosted pastries…her dad had made it more than clear that no one touched her donuts. “You go ahead, sweetheart. It’s been a while since you’ve had a treat.”
She eyed him for a long moment and he thought she was going to either comment on the use of the endearment, or refuse to eat the pastry he could tell she wanted by the look in her eyes, but she finally shrugged and gave him a small smile.

About the author

Susan StokerNew York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author, Susan Stoker has a heart as big as the state of Texas where she lives, but this all-American girl has also spent the last fourteen years living in Missouri, California, Colorado, and Indiana. She’s married to a retired Army man who now gets to follow her around the country.

She debuted her first series in 2014 and quickly followed that up with the SEAL of Protection Series, which solidified her love of writing and creating stories readers can get lost in.

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