Giveaways

SOMEBODY LIKE YOU and NEAREST THING TO HEAVEN by Lynnette Austin

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The question begs to be asked. Is there anything sexier than a cowboy?

 

SOMEBODY LIKE YOU
Maverick Junction #1
Lynnette Austin
Forever Yours

 

WHEN A COWBOY MEETS AN HEIRESS…

Cash Hardeman thinks he’ll have all the time in the world to find the right
woman…until he discovers he might lose the family ranch if he’s not married
by his 30th birthday. So when Boston beauty Annelise blows into town on her
Harley, Cash can’t help wondering if she’s the sexy, leather-clad answer to all
his problems.
Giving her bodyguards and the paparazzi the slip, heiress Annelise Montjoy
comes to Maverick Junction on a mission to help her ailing grandfather. But
keeping her identity hidden in the small Texas town is harder than she
expected—especially around a tempting cowboy like Cash. He’s the kind of man
who makes her want to spill all her secrets. Soon Annelise starts to wonder if
she’s finally found the man who can love her for herself rather than her money.
But will the secrets they both keep ruin their plans to ride off into the
sunset together?

 

NEAREST THING TO HEAVEN
Maverick Junction #2
Lynnette Austin
Forever Yours

THE COWBOY AND THE CITY GIRL

Sophie London hates Texas. The longhorns freak her out and the wide-open spaces are more unnerving than a Chicago alleyway at night. But Sophie wouldn’t miss her cousin’s wedding for the world—even if it means returning to Maverick Junction . . . and to the dangerously irresistible Ty Rawlins.

A single father of rambunctious triplet boys, Ty knows trouble when he sees it—and Sophie’s got it written all over her. Yet he’s never been able to stop thinking about her, after their one brief meeting. Maybe fate is giving him a second chance. But if Ty wants Sophie to swap her stilettos for cowgirl boots, they’ll each have to face the past—together.

Excerpt From Somebody Like You: Maverick Junction #1 by Lynette Austin

“You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Annelise Montjoy motored her Harley along what appeared to be the town’s main street. This was Maverick Junction?

A blue Cadillac, surely old enough to be in a museum, was parked nose-in to the curb. An incredibly ugly dog sat in the front seat.

Thank God, this, the final destination of her cross-country trip from Boston, was temporary. It looked like the kind of place you ran away from, not toward. If luck was on her side, she’d be out of here in a couple weeks at the most.

And then a store door opened and her breath caught. Go, Texas! Look at that cowboy. So different from any of the men in her life. So…intriguing. She slowed to nearly a standstill and watched as he swiped an arm across his forehead, then dumped a grocery bag in the backseat of the old Caddy.

Cracking open a bottle of water, he turned his head in her direction. Her breath hitched as his gaze ran lazily over her, her bike. Then he snagged a Styrofoam cup from inside his car and filled it before setting it on the blistering pavement for the dog waiting patiently beside him.

Leaning against the faded fender, he thumbed back his battered Stetson and chugged the rest of the water. Twisting the cap back on, he tossed the bottle into the recycling bin beside the grocer’s door.

Annelise pulled her bike into a parking space across the street, deliberately turning her back on the stranger. While his clothes might have been stereotypical cowboy—worn jeans, a faded T-shirt, cowboy boots, and hat—he took everything from simmer to boiling point. The jeans hugged long legs, while the shirt stretched taut across his muscled chest. There was something very alluring about him and that surprised her. He wasn’t the kind of man she was usually drawn to.

He shouldn’t appeal to her.

He did.

Not so much as a breeze stirred. The flag on the post office hung limp, and the cheerful red, white, and blue balloons someone had hung outside a beauty salon drooped listlessly.

Unable to stop herself, she peeked in the bike’s rearview mirror. Cowboy was bent over, talking to the dog. Quite a view, but she wasn’t here to admire a fine jean-clad butt. She needed something cold to drink and something light to eat. Then she’d go in search of Dottie Willis and the apartment she’d rented over the Internet. Maverick Junction, Texas. Annelise wished she was driving through, wished she could view it as simply a spot on the map where she’d stopped for lunch one summer day.

Well, she’d just have to work fast.

 

 

Lynnette Austin, a recovering middle school teacher, loves long rides with the top down and the
music cranked up, the Gulf of Mexico when a storm is brewing, chocolate frozen
custard, anything by Blake Shelton, Chris Young, and Thomas Rhett, and sitting
in her local coffee shop reading and enjoying an iced coffee. She and her
husband divide their time between Southwest Florida’s beaches and Georgia’s
Blue Ridge Mountains. Having grown up in a small town, that’s where her heart
takes her—to those quirky small towns where everybody knows everybody…and all
their business, for better or worse. Writing for Grand Central and Sourcebooks,
she’s published twelve novels and is at work on a new series.
 

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The Cad and the Co-Ed By L.H. Cosway and Penny Reid Blog Tour

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The Cad and The Co-Ed, a quirky and sexy romantic comedy from Penny Reid & L.H. Cosway is available now!!

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THE CAD

Bryan Leech is a cad.

Or, he *was* a cad.

No one is quite certain.

Once the quintessential playboy, Bryan claims he’s done with wild parties and weekend benders. No more one night stands leading to mornings he can’t remember; no more binges and blackouts; no more exploits plastered all over the tabloids and rag sheets. According to Bryan, he’s cleaning up his act.

The only problem is, no one believes him.

THE CO-ED

Eilish Cassidy never thought she’d be a mother at nineteen or still in college at twenty-four. Cut off from every member of her family except her favorite cousin, she’s finally managed to put her life back together. Stronger and wiser, Eilish enters her last semester of university determined to stand on her own. Now she just needs to find an internship.

The only problem is, her best option—by far—places her directly in the path of her son’s father, and he doesn’t remember her at all.

THE PLAN

Bryan is determined to prove he’s changed. Eager to settle down with the right woman, he’s got his sights set on the gorgeous redhead who seems terribly familiar.

Eilish is determined to hide her secret. She’ll do anything to keep her child safe, even if that means ignoring her own wishes and desires.

But what happens when Bryan starts to remember? And what will it take for Bryan to convince the girl he forgot that she’s unforgettable?

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The Cad and the Co-Ed
The Cad and the Co-Ed by L.H. Cosway
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
L.H. Cosway and Penny Reid are a writing powerhouse. Individually or together they always deliver spellbinding romances.

Rugby star and reformed bad boy Bryan Leech has a problem. After two years of sobriety and lack of interest in the opposite sex he’s inexplicably taken with his team’s new physical therapist who seems to be avoiding him as though he were still a wild partying womanizer who lost huge chunks of memories due to alcohol excess when in reality his craziest nights now consist of furniture assembly and a good book in comfy pj’s. Can Bryan convince Eilish to give him a chance and prove himself a stable and sturdy option especially after he learns the truth behind her avoidance?

@THEBryanLeech: There’s nothing better in life than a cup of peppermint tea, a comfortable pair of PJs and a good book.
@RonanFitz to @THEBryanLeech: You got hacked by your Granddad again. Just FYI.

At nineteen, Eilish Cassidy had a huge crush on Bryan Leech. But never in her wildest dreams could she have imagined herself becoming the mother of his son and not have him remember her at all. Completely alone with only help from her cousin, she’s succeeded in not only taking care of her son but finishing school and finding a good job, the only problem is that job requires her to closely work with Bryan. How long will she keep their son a secret? Could she ever consider giving a second chance to the man who completely forgot her?

“She didn’t deserve to be forgotten. She deserved to be treasured.”

I wasn’t sure where to start my review about this sweet, sexy and touching, but I guess the beginning is as good a place as any. OMG yes, that beginning with Eilish and Bryan started out so sweet and then having him not remember her and her finding out she’s pregnant left me wanting to devour the entire book all at once. I wanted to know what Eilish would do and how on Earth Bryan would redeem himself! I absolutely wanted to see how these two would work out this major life changer.

Bryan certainly did redeem himself. He worked hard for Eilish and their son. I felt for him and his less than ideal upbringing that led to his addiction and admired him for overcoming it. And watching him embrace fatherhood wholeheartedly made my ovaries explode. He’s a wonderful mix of adorably naughty, charming and responsible bad-boy.

“If I wasn’t careful, Eilish Cassidy would be elevated to sainthood level in my mind. I decided I should debauch her before this happened.”

I loved Eilish! She’s so incredibly strong and brave. I was so sad about her family situation too, especially her mother who was dreadful, but was an incredible contrast to her goodness. Eilish is a great mother who works hard and strives for independence. I was totally charmed by her love for storage, organization and Bryan’s adulting.

“My mouth parted slightly because the oddest thing happened as he rattled off his list of chores. It turned me on. Even more so than running my palms over his luscious legs. That’s right. His list of adult tasks made my heart flutter.”

Eilish and Sean’s romance progressed organically. Of course they had Patrick that bound them together, but they also made sense together, they had a delicious attraction to one another and I flat out loved how he convinced her she was absolutely unforgettable.

Since this is a series, it’s always great getting updates from previous characters but I do have to say, “Monkey” Sean Cassidy was IN.CRE.DI.BLE! If it weren’t for the marvelous balance achieved by Reid and Cosway, he would have stolen the book. He’s not just a great cousin Eilish and a wonderful uncle to Patrick (another source of ovary explosions), he’s hilarious and he’s also cupid! I hope he plays cupid for William.

Oh and how can I not mention those awesome Twitter texts at the beginning of each chapter that only set the mood for what’s to come!!

@ECassChoosesPikachu: I’m not crying, I just have onions, pepper spray, and severe acute depression in my eye.
@SeanCassinova: See you after work, I’ll be the bloke holding the sign: Free hugs.

The Cad and the Co-ed is book #3 in the Rugby series by L.H. Cosway and Penny Reid. It is a standalone, contemporary sports romance that made me fan myself, smile, tear up a bit and laugh. Told from both points of view with a happy ending.

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Meet Penny Reid:

Penny Reid is the USA Today Bestselling Author of the Winston Brothers and Knitting in the City series. When she’s not immersed in penning smart romances, Penny works in the biotech industry as a researcher. She’s also a full time mom to three diminutive adults, wife, daughter, knitter, crocheter, sewer, general crafter, and thought ninja.

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Connect with Penny:

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Meet L.H. Cosway:

L.H. Cosway has a BA in English Literature and Greek and Roman Civilisation, and an MA in Postcolonial Literature. She lives in Dublin city. Her inspiration to write comes from music. Her favorite things in life include writing stories, vintage clothing, dark cabaret music, food, musical comedy, and of course, books.

She thinks that imperfect people are the most interesting kind. They tell the best stories.

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Website: http://www.lhcoswayauthor.com

Release Tour PUCKED OFF by Helena Hunting

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Pucked Off, an all-new emotional and sexy STANDALONE from Helena Hunting is LIVE!!

Pucked Off by Helena Hunting
Genre: Contemporary Romance

businessman working on laptop in black suit

***A Standalone novel in The Pucked Series***

I’m NHL defenseman Lance Romero, AKA Lance “Romance.”

I’m notorious for parties and excess. I have the most penalty minutes in the league. I get into the most fights. I take the most hits. I’m a player on and off the ice. I’m the one women with no inhibitions want.

Not because I like the notoriety, but because I don’t know how to be any other way.

I have secrets. Ones I shared with the wrong person, and she used them against me. Sometimes she still does. I should cut ties. But she makes it difficult, because she’s the kind of bad I deserve.

At least that’s what I believed until someone from my past gets caught up in my present. She’s all the good things in this world. She lights up my dark.

I shouldn’t want her.

But I do.

I should leave her alone.

But I won’t.

Excerpt:

Armed with my clipboard, I walk down the hall to the waiting room. Lance is impossible to miss. Despite the fact that he’s wearing a sweatshirt and the hood is covering half of his face, he’s more than six feet of broad, hockey-playing man.

He’s so wide his shoulders encroach on the chairs on either side, which would explain why no one is sitting next to him. He’s slouched down so his head rests on the back of the chair, and his hands are clasped in his lap, a baseball cap hanging off one knee. His lips, plush and soft—I know since I’ve had them on mine; it might have been a decade ago, but I remember it clearly—are parted. He looks like he’s asleep.

I clear my throat. “Lance Romero?”

He doesn’t move.

Bernadette, the receptionist, gives me a meaningful look.

I clear my throat again and call his name a second time. He jolts awake and the hood falls back, exposing his face. It’s not in good shape. He has a black eye and bruises on his left cheek. There’s a fly bandage across one eyebrow.

Sadly, he’s still hot.

He blinks a few times, yawns, and smacks his lips, his tongue touching the split in the bottom one. His gaze sweeps the room and finally lands on me. Heat explodes in my cheeks and courses through my limbs, warming me from the inside out as he starts at my sneaker-clad feet and roams up over my yoga pants to my company-issued T-shirt before stopping at my face. I can’t look directly at him for more than a couple of seconds. I sincerely hope he doesn’t remember me. I cannot go there and also be professional.

I’m sure the smile he gives me has melted many a panty off a slutty bunny. Mine stay right where they’re supposed to, wedged up my ass.

I force a polite, professional veneer. “I’m ready for you now.”

poan

Pucked Off
Pucked Off by Helena Hunting
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A sizzling hot and sweet story that will pull at your heartstrings.

Infamous NHL defenseman Lance “Romance” Romero is known for his excess. Too many women, too many fights in and out of the hockey rink. The last of which sent him from the hospital to massage therapy, something he avoids at all costs because he barely tolerates people touching him. But instead of the crawling feeling he usually gets, when a sexy and sweet therapist puts her hands on him he experiences the opposite.

Perhaps he feels a comfortable warmth because she seems vaguely familiar and the more time he spends with her the more he craves not just her touch but her company as she fills his dark voids with goodness and a happiness he doesn’t believe he deserves. But he trusted the wrong person once and it’s only caused further damage to his already tortured soul. Can he trust his redhead therapist with his bleak secrets?

“I wanna deserve you. Why can’t I find a way to deserve you?”

Expecting Pucked Off to follow in its predecessors same lightness mixed with naughty humor I was pleasantly surprised by Lance’s deep, touching story. Helena Hunting expertly pens a well-balanced story between sweet moments, blistering hot attraction and fun dynamics, but it was Lance’s complicated back story that engrossed me.

“I don’t know how to exist without the chaos, and I seek it because it confirms the message beaten into me as a kid: I deserve to be a victim.”

Having had a less than ideal upbringing, Lance’s self-worth and worldview has been harshly distorted. He can barely stand being touched and has acquired harmful patterns he can’t seem to break free of. If that wasn’t enough to feel for the guy, the only person he had confided his secrets in, used them against him and made him feel he’d never be worthy of the love he desperately craves. Especially when his friends are all in loving, committed relationships.

He’s perfect in his imperfection. I wanted to hug him and badly needed him to find someone that could see past his notoriety, who’d care and love him for his goodness. Who better than the girl who had seen glimpses of the real him a decade earlier? Our heroine is absolutely perfect for him. She’s strong and independent, but also sweet, kind and forgiving.

Even though trusting her with his secrets took him time, courage and a huge leap of faith, Lance doesn’t hesitate to show her how much he’s interested in wholly being with her. He’s not afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve and display his vulnerability with her. I loved how their relationship developed, it felt real and beautifully heartfelt. It was hard not to fall completely for this wonderful couple.

Lance’s story had been building throughout the series, I just wasn’t aware that he was so damaged but I loved it, because I love reading about broken characters. I feel so much for them and with them, but mostly what I love is that wonderful emotion I get when after too many struggles they manage to free themselves of their hefty burdens and find contentment. Their journey towards a happy ending is just so much sweeter.

On a last quick note I just want to quickly mention that it was great catching up with the rest of the Pucked guys and gals from the series.

Pucked Off is book #5 in the Pucked series by Helena Hunting. It is a heartfelt, emotional standalone contemporary romance that had me flipping pages until the very end. Told from both points of view with a happy ending.

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About the Author:

NYT and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She’s writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy.

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Connect with Helena:

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Website: http://www.helenahunting.com/

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Beard Science by Penny Reid Review Tour. Excerpt, teasers, review and GIVEAWAY!!

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Beard Science

by Penny Reid
Winston Brothers #3
Publication Date: October 11, 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Humor, Romance

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Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | iBooks | Kobo | Nook | Google Play | Smashwords

Make a deal with the devil and you might get what you want, but will it be what you need?

Jennifer Sylvester wants one thing, and that one thing is NOT to be Tennessee’s reigning Banana Cake Queen. Ever the perpetual good girl and obedient daughter, Jennifer is buckling under the weight of her social media celebrity, her mother’s ambitions, and her father’s puritanical mandates. Jennifer is officially desperate.

And desperate times call for Cletus Winston.

Cletus Winston is a puzzle wrapped in a mystery covered in conundrum sauce, and now he’s in a pickle. Despite being convinced of his own omniscience, extortion by the exalted Banana Cake Queen of Green Valley has taken him completely by surprise. So… what’s a maniacal mastermind to do?

Likely, the last thing you expect.

‘Beard Science’ is the third book in the Winston Brothers series, is a full-length romantic comedy novel, and can be read as a standalone.

Beard Science
Beard Science by Penny Reid
My rating: 5++ of 5 stars
You just can’t find writing like Penny Reid’s elsewhere. It’s Penny Reid or bust!

“I loved her both rationally and irrationally. And I wanted her with a ferocity that had kept me awake at night and tortured during the day.”

Jennifer Sylvester detests being the Banana Cake Queen. Perhaps detests is a too strong word for the sweet Jenn. Regardless, she knows she wants is a husband of her own choosing who’ll respect her and give her a big family. An impossible goal as long as she continues to be a good daughter abiding by her parents controlling ways. So what is a girl to do when she’s never been kissed and is desperate? It’s obvious, but only to her. She turns to Cletus Winston.

Behind the peculiar and “harmless banjo-playing hermit” façade lies the conniving genius mind of Cletus Winston. Perceived by his own design as a “simpleton,” he has control and power over just about everyone, they just don’t know it. But he only actively expends time and effort meddling in the lives of his family, thank goodness. So when her highness, the Banana Cake Queen, surprisingly blackmails him, she turns his orderly life sideways. Can he help her and return back to his controlled life?

“My heart was a danger to itself and to me because Jennifer Sylvester and I were not suited… things would be complicated between us. I couldn’t abide complicated… I wanted predictable, and she’d never ceased to surprise me. Together we would not be perfectly pragmatic. We would be impressively impractical.”

Let me start by saying that every time I read a Penny Reid book I fall more in love with her writing and curse the fact I haven’t had time to read all her books yet. I’ll also admit that even though I loved Cletus, wanted to get to know the clever oddball and would love to be one of the only 24 people he has time for, I was sure I’d love him as a hero. He was great in Grin and Beard, undeniably funny and brilliant. I just couldn’t picture him as swoony enough for a book boyfriend. Of course I shouldn’t have doubted Reid’s amazing ability to develop richly layers characters in interesting plots.

Cletus isn’t just remarkably smart and devious, he has his weaknesses and loves fiercely. Jenn is kind, compassionate, remarkably smart in her own way and quirky fun. I loved being in their heads and the journey they embarked on was absolute delightful from start to finish.

These two transformers (because there’s definitely more than meets the eye about them) made me laugh, smile, swoon and fan myself with delicious slow burn between them. I loved how Jenn really saw Cletus and thus caught the almost all-knowing man off guard, and how while helping Jenn bring her backbone to the fore, Cletus finds his perfect match.

“Jennifer was the key to my cage. She was the key to my future. We fit together. Her strengths counterpoised my weaknesses.”

I loved how Jenn gave so much importance to such things as humility and forgiveness, how much value she put in being a mother which were also valued by Cletus. I got a really kick out of Cletus lovingly torturing his brothers and always going for and getting what he wanted. I could keep on telling you I could keep on telling you all the things I discovered and loved about these two but I’ll finish with two other outstanding aspects that need mention.

First, the family element which not only included great past and future characters I enjoyed reading about, but also that wonderful feeling of being part of a group of people who’ll love, help give sage advice and support you no matter what.

“You’ll know one day, Cletus. You’ll discover what it’s like to find the other part of yourself. You’ll know it’s her, only her, always her. Maybe not right away, but eventually you’ll know. She’ll be your beginning, middle, and end. And your intentions won’t matter. Love brings its own intentions, and all other plans, hopes, and dreams fade to insignificance in the face of love.”

And second, the witty dialogues that made me laugh and snort and made this story fly by.

“Jenn and I are going to make some sausage pie.”
“Sausage pie?”
“That’s right, sausage pie.”
“I see. So Jennifer is going to let you put your sausage in her pie.”

Beard Science is book #3 and the finale in the Winston Brothers series by Penny Reid. It is a delightful standalone romantic comedy you won’t want to miss. I can’t recommend this book enough. Told from both point of view with a happy ending.

* I was given an ARC of this book courtesy of the author via IndieSage PR. The excerpts are from that copy. *

Excerpt

“So Cletus told me I needed to change one thing every day. He wasn’t specific about what I should change, just that I should decide on the one thing myself.”

Billy nodded.

I continued. “At first I didn’t see the purpose, but—do you know?—Cletus was right. Something as trivial as paining my nails a different color made me feel like I could do anything I set my mind to.”

Billy smiled.

I continued. “Cletus also said-”

Billy cleared his throat. “Do you go to the jam session much? I think I’ve only seen you here a handful of times.”

“I don’t, actually. I’d like to, but Saturdays are busy. I’m usually making special orders on Friday night. I’ve heard you sing a few times, though. You should do it more often, you have such a nice voice.”

Billy smiled again, his eyes sliding to me then away. “Thank you.”

“And Cletus is amazing on the banjo. Last year he did a folksy version of Thriller, during Halloween. It was spectacular.”

Billy sighed.
Conversation was surprisingly easy with Billy Winston, once I stopped being afraid of saying the wrong thing. Instead of worrying, I just said whatever I wanted. He wasn’t a big talker, other than asking me questions, so I filled the silence. Sometimes what I said made him laugh. Sometimes it made him nod. Sometimes it made him cough.

But usually whatever I said made him smile. And that was nice. He was nice.

He pulled his truck into the community center lot and it was clear the jam session was already in full swing. The evening was chilly, so folks were dressed in coats.

I pulled my shawl over my shoulders and Billy opened my door, helping me from the car. I slipped my fingers back into the crook of his elbow while trying to suppress a new, and more powerful, flutter of excitement as we approached the community center.

I wondered if Cletus would be there. I wondered what he would think of my dress, and my hair in a bun, and my purposefully minimal makeup, and my nail polish. Even though I was nervous, I grinned at the thought.

“What are you smiling about?” Billy asked, giving me the side eye.

“I’m nervous,” I answered honestly, feeling breathless, then asked before I could catch myself, “Do you think Cletus is here?”

Billy’s mouth tugged to the side and he studied my face. “I’m sure he is. Why?”

“I wonder what he’ll think of my dress,” I admitted excitedly.

Billy chuckled and shook his head.

“What? What is it?” I pressed, searching his profile for a sign as to why he was laughing.

He pulled us to a stop and faced me. “Since this is a practice date, do you want me to give you a tip?”

I nodded eagerly. “Yes, please. All tips are welcome.”

“Okay. Here goes,” he gathered large breath, like he was bracing himself, and said, “When you’re on a date with a man, it’s probably best not to bring up a different man.”

My lips parted as my face fell. “I’m sorry. I keep talking about your brother.”

“No, no. It’s fine.” He reached for my hand and squeezed it. “This is a practice, no need to apologize. I’m not upset. But if this were a real date, you bringing up Cletus and wondering what he’s going to think of your dress would definitely rub me the wrong way. If I’m on a date, I want that woman to be thinking only of me. Does that make sense?”

I nodded, because it did make sense. “Just like, I probably wouldn’t like it—if this were a real date—if you kept bringing up other woman.”

“That’s right.” He moved my hand back to his arm. “You’ll want to keep the conversation about the two of you.”

I considered things as we walked. “Thank you, Billy.”

“For what?” He opened the double door for me, placing his hand on the small of my back to usher me inside. The entryway was full of people, but I hardly noticed them.

“Thanks for doing this, and for the tip. Thanks for sacrificing your Friday night.”

Billy covered my fingers on his arm with his hand. “It’s not a sacrifice, Jennifer.”

“Well, it can’t be pleasant.”

He grinned again and gave me an incredulous look.

“What? What did I do this time? Do you have more tips?” I needed to know. I hoped he filled the whole night with tips, so I would be an expert when the time came for a real date.

Billy’s grin faded as his piercing blue eyes moved over my face. If he’d done this just last week I think I would’ve fainted on the spot, mortified and terrified and assured of my own failure.

But so much had changed in a week. I wasn’t afraid of him anymore. I was changing, becoming braver. So I met his glacial eyes straight on and lifted my eyebrows encouragingly.

“You can tell me, whatever it is,” I whispered earnestly, stepping closer. “Like I said, all tips welcome.”

Finally, he said, “You have no idea how gorgeous you are, do you?”

I gaped at him, because that was not what I’d expected him to say.
But before I could recover, a stern voice to my left interjected. “She has no idea whatsoever.”

I turned and found Cletus standing at my shoulder. Startled, I stumbled a step to the side so I could see him better. What I found surprised me.

His jaw was clenched.

His mouth was curved into a frown.

And Cletus’ eyes, a dangerous and fiery blue, were narrowed on his brother.

 

 

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About Penny Reid

Author-Photo-Penny-Reid-300x300

SEX! It all started with sex, between my parents. Personally I don’t like thinking about it, but whatever works for you is a-ok with me. No judgment. The sex happened in California and much of my life also occurred in that state until I moved from the land of nuts (almonds), wine, silicon… boobs, and heavy traffic to the southeast US. Like most writers I like to write, but let’s get back to sex. Eventually I married and gave birth to 2 small people-children (boy-6, girl-4 as of this writing).

By day I’m a biomedical researcher with focus on rare diseases. By night I’m a knitter, sewer, lino block carver, fabric printer, soap maker, and general crafter. By the wee hours of the morning or when I’m intoxicated I love to listen to the voices in my head and let them tell me stories. I hope you enjoy their stories.

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YOU BEFORE ANYONE ELSE by Julie Cross and Mark Perini

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YOU BEFORE ANYONE ELSE
Julie Cross & Mark Perini
Releasing August 2nd, 2016
Sourcebooks Fire
Bestselling author Julie Cross teams up with international model Mark Perini to create You Before
Anyone Else
, a poignant and authentic contemporary YA novel and companion to Halfway Perfect.
The supportive friend, the reliable daughter, the doting big sister: Finley is used to being the glue that holds everyone
together. But while her sweet demeanor makes her the perfect confidant, her wholesome look isn’t landing her the high-paying modeling jobs, which are what Finley needs if she is going to reopen her mother’s dance studio.
Enter Eddie. He’s intense and driven, not to mention the life of every party, and he completely charms Finley. The last thing she wants is another commitment to stand in the way of her dreams, but when she’s with Eddie, their chemistry takes over and she can let go of her responsibilities and just be. After all, what’s so wrong about putting herself first once in a while?
Except Eddie is hiding a secret. A big secret. And when it surfaces, he and Finley are going to have to choose between their love for each other and everything else… 
 
BUY NOW
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Excerpt

FINLEY

“What are you so afraid of?” Summer asks.

I take a sip of the beer Dima brought me a few minutes ago. “Oh, I don’t know, addiction, overdose, puking on some innocent victim’s shoes, random drug testing by the agency…”

Summer laughs. “Drug testing on models? Yeah, that’ll be the day.”

Okay, so maybe I just don’t want to do it. Even if I should be in my so-called experimental phase.

I wouldn’t exactly label myself a rule follower, but I guess I’m just cautious. I haven’t always been this way. Not that I’ve done drugs, but before high school, I was all about ballet. Let’s just say I had a rep for being the sassy troublemaker. My mom being my ballet teacher may have had something to do with my behavior. My fingers immediately move to the cross dangling from my neck—I’ve only removed it a couple times over the last four years. Somehow, it’s always warmer than my hands.

I debate texting my dad to ask him if he’s done coke or molly. He’d probably tell me. But I wouldn’t want to freak him out. Seems like a conversation better reserved for a weekend visit instead of late on a Friday night when I could be too far gone to help, for all he knows.

I glance around the room and finally spot someone I know: my friend Alex and his girlfriend Eve. Alex and I did a big Calvin Klein shoot last year, and Eve was the photographer’s assistant. Actually, Eve used to be a model too, another preteen/teen phenom like Elana, who headlined that CK shoot along with Alex. My part had been fairly small, and still, that was my biggest job ever.

“Have you met Alex?”

Summer shrugs, grabs two more shots of vodka, and hands me one. “Like I would remember.”

I down the shot quickly and prepare to talk to Alex and Eve. Maybe they’ve done drugs and can advise me. But my buzzing phone distracts me. I pull it out of my purse and glance at the new text.

JASON: Yeah, it’s so weird to be home again. But I missed it.

My stomach flip-flops. He replied to my text. Hours later, but still…this could mean—

“Oh lord, you’re pathetic.” Summer is leaned toward me, reading over my shoulder. “That’s probably enough for you to live off of for another six months or so, right?”

I glare at her and shove the phone back into my purse.

“No comeback? Wonder why…” She pretends to be in deep thought. “He said he missed it. Not you. Cut the fucking cord already. It’s not healthy.”

If only it were that easy. When you’re in a relationship with someone for four years, you get so comfortable with that person. It’s daunting to start all over again.

I make my way across the room to see Alex and Eve, who are leaning against the back of the couch, more absorbed in each other than anything else.

“I heard Elana’s back from France?” Alex asks me, keeping his voice low.

“Yep, her and her mom. I think her mom is driving her crazy, but that’s to be expected. French Mama is driving me crazy too.”

They both laugh at the mention of French Mama, but I can’t take credit for that title. Summer made it up.

“I can’t believe her parents let her come back to New York,” Eve says.

Alex smiles at her. “You’re just upset that they’re here and not in France where we can hit them up for lodging.”

My gaze travels back and forth between the two of them. “You guys are going to France? Are you going for Fashion Week?”

Eve shakes her head. “Nope. I did the Prada shoot, and I’m done for good. Got tuition for next year covered.”

Even though Eve had supposedly quit modeling a few years ago, she pulled a one-last-job stunt last spring to cover her tuition at Columbia. She’s a photography student with a lot of experience under her belt.

“We’re doing the cheap travel, backpacking in Europe but without actual backpacks thing,” Alex explains.

Across the room, another beer pong player is being requested. This could possibly be the most adventurous thing I’m willing to do here. I turn to Alex and Eve again. “Well, good luck in Europe. I’m gonna go play beer pong.”

“Hey.” I grab Dima’s shirt sleeve. “You need another player?”

He looks me over, deliberating. “Sure. Be the new guy’s partner.”

“The new guy?” I glance around. What does that even mean? New to the party, like he just walked in? I’ve been here fifteen minutes.

“He’s new to the agency,” Dima says. “First casting, and he books some big job.”

“So we hate him then, right?” I joke. I turn around to head toward the game table and run right into a guy about my age with wild, dark curly hair and designer jeans.

“This guy,” Dima says to me and then turns to the new guy. “Got you a partner. Finley. She lives in the agency apartment downstairs.”

They exchange a look that says I’ve been mentioned before. I’m not liking that too much, but usually, I don’t come to these parties. Instead, I bang on the door at two in the morning to tell them to

stop thumping around like elephants. Maybe I got a bad rep.

While we wait for Dima to find a partner, I snatch two beers from a nearby cooler and offer one up to New Guy. “So, Dima said you’re new, but he didn’t say where you’re from.”

“Uh…the Midwest.”

“The Midwest.” Okay. Someone doesn’t want to get personal. “Like Wisconsin or like Chicago?”

“Chicago…well, not in Chicago, but around it, you know?” he says.

“Right.” I pop open my can and take a drink. “What’s your name? I’m sorry, I don’t think Dima said…”

“Eddie.” He lifts his gaze again. “Eddie Wells. And you’re Finley Belton, the girl who lives downstairs.”

Summer breezes past me but stops when she spots me holding the beer pong ball. “Beer pong? Oh, you wild animal…grrrr.” She holds up her tiger paws and growls at me.

I give her the finger and then turn back to Eddie. “I’m one of the girls who live downstairs.”

“One is too bitchy, one is too underage, and one is nice,” he recites, most likely quoting Dima.

This is exactly what I’m trying to escape tonight. “Dima called me the baby bear?” I’m secretly hoping he catches my reference to Goldilocks.

“No,” Eddie says. “He called you Finley Belton, but I added the nice part, because you brought me a beer. And it is just right, not to mention you’re talking to me instead of staring and whispering to other people about me.”

Points for his fairy tale knowledge, and I’m sure the whispering is the result of whatever big job he’s landed. Too many models at this party.

Eve tries to be Dima’s partner, but he refuses and tells Alex to play with him. Eve opens her mouth to protest, but Dima holds up a hand. “Don’t even. I know your type. You’ll engineer some fancy trick shots. No Ivy League players showing me up. I got a rep to protect.”

“Fine,” Eve snaps. “I’ll just stand here and look pretty. And I’m definitely rooting for Fin and…” She gestures toward the new guy.

“Eddie,” I fill in for her. “Eddie from Chicago.”

“Eddie from Chicago,” Eve repeats. “Good luck.”

Summer returns and stands beside Eve, both leaning against the back of the love seat.

“Fin makes a great partner,” Summer says to Eddie. “She knits. Lots of finger dexterity.”

I shoot her a glare and will my face not to heat up. So not cool.

Review

You Before Anyone Else
You Before Anyone Else by Julie Cross
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars


Fun, flirty, endearing and touching. Not what I was expecting but I completely enjoyed this story about self-discovery and breaking the mold.

Eddie picks up a lock of my hair. Slowly, he slides it between his fingers. “You’re not my type either. Too pretty. Too nice. Too smart. Too perfect. I’d hate to go after someone I could actually fall for…”

Finley has a goal no one knows about. To achieve it she needs big bucks and therefore better contracts which usually go to edgier, rebellious models and not the selfless, goody goody ones like her. Trying to get out of her comfort zone she decides to have a fling with a fun, yummylicious stranger. As it turns out though, he’s the newest model at her agency who’ll be living in her same building. Can she resist the attraction she feels toward Eddie? After she finds out he’s keeping secrets of his own, will she still feel the same way about him?

Eddie Wells’ confident, carefree façade couldn’t be further from the truth. He’s taken a job no one knows about because he needs the money to refocus his life which he’s not exactly sure what direction will take. And just the tip of the iceberg of secrets he’s keeping. But in the meantime, he’d love nothing more than to spend time with the smart, beautiful, down to earth girl who makes his feel calm but only wants a one night stand. Can he convince Finley to at least give him a chance to enjoy the now? Will spending time with her make him open up and reveal all his troubles? When the time comes, will he be able to give her up?

My head clouds with a million thoughts – “Who are you Eddie Wells? What is your story? Why does it seem like you have so much to tell? And why is your mouth so easy to stare at?”

I was invited to read this title because I read and enjoyed Julie Cross and Mark Perini’s previous book Halfway Perfect and I’m incredibly thankful for the invite. I liked You Before Everyone Else immensely, which really doesn’t come as a surprise because I’ve read other books by Julie. I will say this though, given the blurb I was expecting a light, fun r about models. What I got was certainly fun, but also endearing characters whose stories pulled at my heart strings.

“Neither of my parents have ever cooked a meal for me. I have no memory of being hugged by them. Ever. They’ve never taken me to the zoo or the park…”

The characterization is fantastic. Both Eddie and Fin feel real and relateable. They’ve both had difficult pasts but neither are boggled down but them. They’re both trying to be better people despite their histories and striving to find their place in the world and in each other’s lives. Finley is totally a goody-two-shoes who tries to help her father, her brother’s, Eddie, everyone really. She’s selfless and ignoring what she’s really wanted to do all her life. I loved how, with Eddie’s help, she found her confidence and made herself a priority.

Eddie was totally adorable. He’s completely lost, a stray, as Finley’s roommate called him. But he’s incredibly sweet, strong and determined to be better than his father, his family. Just be better and try to do the right thing. My heart broke for the total lack of warmth and support he had but applauded his bravery and loved that he found his place in Finley’s life.

There is of course a good dose of delicious chemistry and great banter between Eddie and Fin, however this is a new adult book and their sexy times are mostly delectable make out sessions which fade to black. Something I liked because then the focus is on the actual relationship between them.

I loved the dynamic between them which was strong and sweet, tentative and yet intense. The way they accept and support each other is lovely. If they put what they truly want on a map, their paths barely cross because modeling to them is a means to an end. Yet they don’t try to change the other, but rather try to fit as best as possible their lives to one another. Which included Fin’s incredibly adorable twin brothers and amazing dad.

I absolutely have to give a shout out to Fin’s father, Sam. He’s loving and supportive, really cool and understanding. He wants what’s best for his daughter but isn’t imposing in any way. The completely opposite to Eddie’s family.

You Before Everyone Else hits all the right New Adult marks about barely being old enough to vote, not old enough to drink and still having tough adult choices to make and finding oneself. The pace was terrific, I desperately wanted to know Eddie’s secrets and then wanted to know how everything would unfold and was so glad that the ending was a very realistic and happy.

Even though this book isn’t marked as a series, I loved having Alex, Eve and Evana from “Halfway Perfect” back, playing pivotal roles in the story. You Before Everyone Else is a YA standalone book, told from both points of view with a happy ending.

Julie Cross and Mark Perini, along with Tasty Book Tours, are celebrating
those who have taken the steps in Breaking the Mold on society’s expectations,
like Finley, the heroine from YOU BEFORE ANYONE ELSE!  We are looking for anyone who would like to
share their story and be entered to win a 2017 Erin Condren Life Planner!
 
Head over to fb.me/TastyBookTours and leave a comment with your story.  Feel
free to share picture of your journey and use #breakingthemold at the end of
your comment!
 
Entries must be in by 11:59pm, Aug
15th, 2016.  No purchase
necessary to enter.  If under 12 years
old, you must have approval by a guardian to enter.   

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Julie Cross is a NYT and USA Today
bestselling author of New Adult and Young Adult fiction, including the Tempest
series, a young adult science fiction trilogy which includes Tempest, Vortex,
Timestorm (St. Martin’s Press).
She’s also the author of Letters to Nowhere series, Whatever Life Throws at
You, Third Degree, Halfway Perfect, and many more to come!Julie lives in Central Illinois with her husband and three children. She’s a former gymnast, longtime gymnastics fan, coach, and former Gymnastics Program
Director with the YMCA.She’s a lover of books, devouring several novels a week, especially in the
young adult and new adult genres.Outside of her reading and writing credibility’s, Julie Cross is a
committed–but not talented–long distance runner, creator of imaginary beach
vacations, Midwest bipolar weather survivor, expired CPR certification card
holder, as well as a ponytail and gym shoe addict.

 

Mark Perini is
a New York City based author debuting his first YA novel, Halfway Perfect.
Additionally, Mark is a featured author in the NA anthology, Fifty First Times.
Mark began his career as an international
fashion model when he was 18 years old, while simultaneously obtaining a
business degree from Seton Hall University. He has a passion for traveling the
world, and he’s made a blood pact with friends to see all seven ancient wonders
of the world before he’s thirty. Four down three to go.
 
Don’t miss the companion novel
HALFWAY PERFECT

Release Blast for PURE TORTURE by Tania Sparks

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After all, no one else needs to know…

 

PURE TORTURE
Oblivion on Tour #3
Tania Sparks
Releasing July 29th, 2016
Cody’s the sexy drummer
extraordinaire of the hard rock band Oblivion.
Kitty’s the little sister of one of
Cody’s band mates and she’s had a secret crush on him for years.
When the band are back home for a
few days, the chemistry between them is both unexpected and undeniably
off-the-charts.
She quickly realizes that the
prospect of having what she’s always fantasized about is a very real
possibility.
He quickly realizes that although he
feels this mind-blowing attraction towards her, she’s the little sister of one
of his band mates – he would get his ass kicked from here to hell if he ever
laid a finger on her!

But can Kitty convince him? After
all, no one else needs to know, a one-time hook-up might suit both of them…or
could it ruin everything?
Buy Now

 

Don’t miss any of the OBLIVION ON TOUR Series

 

 

Tania Sparks is a
romantic at heart who genuinely believes in true love and soul mates. She met
her husband while still at school, she was sixteen, he was seventeen. They are
high school sweethearts who more than twenty five years later are still very
much in love and are happily married with two beautiful daughters.
 
Tania
does have a full time job, but in her spare minutes enjoys spending time with
her family, cooking and reading. She’s an avid reader who tends to chomp
through a large volume of books, mainly in the romance genre. Her other major
‘hobby’ is writing steamy rock star erotic romances!
 
In 2014,
after finding herself constantly being inspired by numerous romance novels, she
decided to try her hand at writing. After penning her first scene she
discovered that she enjoyed it immensely and so resolved to continue with the
rest of the story that was swirling in her imagination. That story resulted in
her first novel, Heaven Sent which is the first book in her Oblivion on Tour
Series. This was soon followed by Bolt From The Blue and Pure Torture. Each
book in the series is a stand-alone story which follows a different band member
from a hard rock group called Oblivion – and of course the feisty ladies that
steal their hearts! The other books in the series are at various stages of
completion.
 
Now-a-days
Tania finds it very difficult to control her imagination and swears that her
rock stars are constantly chanting their stories in her head. She can’t wait to
share them with you…
 

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Tour Info for TO HAVE AND TO HOLD by Lauren Layne

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Sex and the City meets The Wedding Planner in The Wedding Belles!

 

TO HAVE AND TO HOLD
The Wedding Belles #1
Lauren Layne
Releasing July 26th, 2016
Pocket Books

 

Sex and the City meets The
Wedding Planner 
in The Wedding Belles, her sizzling brand new
contemporary romance series about three ambitious wedding planners who can make
any bride’s dream come true…but their own.
 
Discovering her fiancé is an
international conman just moments before they exchange vows devastates
celebrity wedding planner Brooke Burke’s business—and breaks her heart. Now a
pariah in Los Angeles, she seeks a fresh start in New York City and thinks
she’s found it with her first bridal client, a sweet, if slightly spoiled,
hotel heiress. Then she meets the uptight businessman who’s holding the purse
springs.
Seth Tyler wishes he could write a
blank check and be done with his sister’s fancy-pants wedding. Unfortunately,
micromanaging the event is his only chance at proving Maya’s fiancé is a liar.
Standing directly in his way is the stunning blonde wedding planner whose
practiced smiles and sassy comebacks both irritate and arouse him. He needs
Brooke’s help. But can he persuade a wedding planner on a comeback mission to unplan
a wedding? And more importantly, how will he convince her that the wedding she
should be planning…is theirs?
BUY NOW

Review

Cute, sweet and sexy.

Escaping to New York was never Brooke Baldwin’s plan. She just wanted someone that would love her and have a successful career as a wedding planner. Having her fiancée taken away in handcuffs minutes away from getting married not only shattered her dreams of love but also of having a fruitful business. But the East Coast elite wedding Belles want her and she’s happy for the new start until she meets the infuriatingly controlling man who’s paying for her client’s wedding.

Hotel mogul Seth Tyler would do anything for his only living family, but going to tastings and viewing potential locations for his little sister’s out of the blue wedding to a man he doesn’t know is not exactly something he’s looking forward to, but how else will he make sure the man isn’t after his sister’s money?
After meeting the very attractive wedding planner and hearing her earnest opinion on happy forevers, his very pragmatic and unromantic side seems to be constantly distracted with thoughts of passion and romance towards Brooke. Can he convince her to give them a real chance and still keep his sister from making a terrible mistake by marrying the wrong man?

“She so desperately wanted a nice man who’d take her to dinner, buy her pretty things, and most of all, who’d hold her. Who’d pull her close, wrap his big arms around her, and just let her lean. Without plan or agenda. A kind man, a gentle man, who wanted to build a life with her.”

I’ve been hooked on Lauren Layne since she first got her first book out and I’ve read all of them since. I can’t really say which one is my favorite because I’ve loved all of them. I really like all of her series because of the friendship and camaraderie between all the characters that add a layer of appeal you can’t ignore. So when she announce a series described as “Sex in the City meets The Wedding Planner” I just couldn’t resist.

“What” she asked.
“A dirty vodka martini… Somehow that seems to be exactly the perfect drink for you.”
Brooke tilted her head. “Do you always mean for things to sound the way they do when they come out of your mouth?”
“How’s that?”
“Provocative.”
“What’s provocative about repeating your drink order?”
“The dirty part.”

Lauren’s writing is as solid as ever with humor, sassy banter and hot sexy times. I liked all the different personalities within the ladies at the Wedding Belles and think each will make interesting characters. Maya and Grant, Seth’s sister and best friend, made for a great backstory. I wish we could have had of what went on between them and I hope Lauren considers doing a novella about them.

Seth and Brooke are appealing characters. Seth is an anti-social, cynical control freak who loves his sister tremendously and has a vulnerable side that wanted to make Brooke happy no matter what. On the other spectrum is Brooke, who despite having had a humiliatingly heartbreaking almost wedding, she still believes in romance and hasn’t lost hope in finding a man that will love her.

They had an incredible attraction but I found myself not entirely sold on their connection. I don’t know if I’m in the minority but I couldn’t understand why Brooke at one point got really upset with Seth. I won’t go into detail but I thought he’s reasoning was solid, good and came from the heart. He could probably have been more forthcoming, but I didn’t feel it was a good enough reason to get all worked up about it and certainly not to the point of Brooke comparing him with her conman ex-fiancée.

To Have and to Hold is book # in The Wedding Belles series by Lauren Layne. It is a sexy contemporary romance and a great start to the series. Told from both points of view that has a happy ending.

Author’s Pinterest board -> https://es.pinterest.com/LLayneAuthor/to-have-and-to-hold/

Excerpt

Hold on. Back up. Back all the way up. What do you mean you’re getting married?”

It was eleven p.m. on a Wednesday, and Seth Tyler was exactly where he always was these days: behind his expansive mahogany desk at the Tyler Hotel Group, suit jacket slung over the back of his ergonomic chair, tie begging to be undone, impeccably pressed white shirt cuffed at the wrists.

He raked a hand through his thick light brown hair in frustration and fixed his younger sister with his best no-nonsense glare, an approximation—like everything else he seemed to do lately—of his deceased father.

When Seth’s father dropped dead of a heart attack eight months ago, Seth had thought the hardest part about his father’s passing—other than the mourning, of course—would be taking over the family company.

Sure, Seth had been groomed for the role. He’d wanted the president and CEO title. He’d always wanted it.

Eventually.

But not yet, for God’s sake.

Seth had no problem admitting that he was a perfectionist, and he’d been bound and determined to take over the family company his way. The right way.

And the right way, as Seth had determined it, was spending at least a year shadowing each of the senior-level Tyler Hotel Group executives. Seth had wanted to learn every possible detail, every in and out of the business, before even thinking about taking over the reins of the Fortune 500 company.

But his father’s heart had had other plans. Mainly, up and quitting during a routine round of golf. And so, quietly, per his father’s wishes, Seth had become CEO two years ahead of schedule.

Not a day passed that Seth didn’t wish his father was still with him, but in truth, taking his place at the head of the boardroom table had been easier than Seth had anticipated. The investors hadn’t freaked out. The executive team hadn’t left in mass exodus. Even Hank’s longtime assistant, Etta, had stuck around, seemingly content to call Seth boss even as she busted his balls about not eating enough vegetables, getting enough sleep, or getting his hair cut.

But if taking over the family company was easier than Seth had expected, there was one ramification of Hank Tyler’s death that Seth hadn’t been in the least prepared for:

A wedding.

Maya Tyler inhaled a long, patient breath, as though preparing to deal with a difficult child. “Well see, marriage, Seth, is when two people fall in love and decide to spend the rest of their lives—”

“Yes, I’m aware of how marriage works,” Seth interrupted. Although, not as aware as well as he’d like, as it turned out. He wouldn’t be getting any firsthand knowledge of how marriage worked any time soon.

Maya bit her lip. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to remind you of Nadia.”

Seth glanced down at his desk to avoid his sister’s too-perceptive gaze. She wasn’t wrong. He’d gotten to the point where he could go most days without thinking of his ex, but he hadn’t yet figured out how to think about marriage without hearing the incredulous laugh she’d let out when he’d gone on one knee and showed her the ring he’d spent months picking out.

“Can we not?” he said curtly.

“Don’t get pissed. It’s a wedding. You’re supposed to be happy.”

“I’m not pissed; I’m just surprised.”

That was an understatement. Seth had not seen this coming, and for a man who exercised precision in all things, he couldn’t say he was enjoying the shock value of Maya’s announcement. Especially not on the heels of his father’s death. A death that everyone but Seth had seen coming, because Seth had been the lone outsider on the knowledge that was his father’s longtime heart condition.

Apparently, Hank had considered his only son a control freak—had known that Seth would have stopped at nothing to try to halt death in its tracks.

His father had been, well, right. It was hard to admit, but if Seth had known about his father’s condition, he’d have devoted every waking hour to researching experimental treatment and the best doctors.

Hank Tyler hadn’t wanted that for his final months. Not for himself or for Seth.

Still, Seth resented not having the choice. Resented his father nearly as much as he missed him.

But he’d put that behind him. Mostly.

Hank was gone, and Maya was still here. Maya was all he had.

He had known she was dating a new guy—Neil something or other. But Seth hadn’t thought a thing about it. Maya had whipped through a constant string of casual boyfriends since high school, and other than a two-year relationship in college, they had never been serious.

And it certainly hadn’t gotten close to marriage.

What’s worse, Seth hadn’t even met this man that was apparently to be his brother-in-law.

But none of this would have mattered, not really, if Seth’s instincts hadn’t been buzzing that something was amiss with the way this was all going down. Something was off. He knew it down to his gut.

“How long have you been seeing this guy?” he asked.

Maya slumped back in the plush chair facing Seth’s desk with a groan. “Don’t do this. I knew you were going to do this.”

He frowned. “Do what?”

“The big brother thing,” she said.

“Hard not to, what with me being six years older and all,” Seth said.

He didn’t add that he was doubly obligated to be protective given Hank’s death just months earlier. Maya had definitely been Daddy’s Little Princess. She still got tears in her eyes every time their father’s name was mentioned.

Maya leaned forward, her pale blue eyes much like his own, although her blond hair was lighter than his, thanks to her frequent trips to the salon.

“I love him, Seth. I know you’re jaded these days, but Neil is exactly the type of guy we women spend our entire lives dreaming about.”

Seth bit his tongue to stop from saying that he bet Maya was exactly the type of girl that guys like Neil dreamed about, too. Young, pretty . . . and filthy rich.

Or so Neil likely thought.

 

 

Lauren lives in New York City with her husband (who was her high school sweetheart–cute, right?!) and plus-sized Pomeranian.

Five years ago, she ditched her corporate career in Seattle to pursue a full-time writing career in Manhattan.

She writes smart romantic comedies with just enough sexy-times to make your mother blush, and in her ideal world, every stiletto-wearing, Kate Spade wielding woman would carry a Kindle stocked with Lauren Layne books.

When not bringing The Sexy, she likes to blog about her Instagram addiction, and why mean girls are the worst.

 

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