Monday, October 5, 2015

Blog Tour: Madame X by Jasinda Wilder ~ Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway

~ About the Book ~

Madame X (Madame X, #1)
Source: Print copy provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Madame X (Madame X #1) by Jasinda Wilder

My name is Madame X.
I’m the best at what I do.
And you’d do well to follow my rules...

Hired to transform the uncultured, inept sons of the wealthy and powerful into decisive, confident men, Madame X is a master of the art of control. With a single glance she can cut you down to nothing, or make you feel like a king.

But there is only one man who can claim her body—and her soul.

Undone time and again by his exquisite dominance, X craves and fears his desire in equal measure. And while she longs for a different path, X has never known anything or anyone else—until now...

Releases TOMORROW!

Book Links:

~ Review ~

Jasinda Wilder is one of those authors that I haven't read much of, but I really, really WANT to. I hold her in high regard and I've heard great things about her books. I've even read a couple myself, and I so enjoyed them. So when Madame X was announced, I was intrigued. I remembered thinking it sounded interesting, but it wasn't until I started READING this book that it fully hit me just how much I loved the concept. It pulled me in and held me under, literally to the point where I was up all night reading Madame X. And it was an experience well worth it.

One of the most amazing things about this novel is how beautiful crafted it is. The writing is stunning, and the storytelling in general, how the entire thing was pieced together, was genius. It was an addicting experience where I truly could not turn the page fast enough to unravel this story.

Madame X herself was fascinating, in her demeanor and memories and just HER. I liked seeing how contrasting her outer appearance could be to what was really going on inside her head. I liked seeing her grow to question things, and attempt to gain understanding to the many facets of her seemingly simplistic life that were actually complete mysteries.

This novel in general is very mysterious. The characters, the story. Madame X doesn't know much about herself at all, and she doesn't know much more about the people around her. She knows how to handle herself, and as the story progresses she stands up for herself and pushes to learn more about what is important to her. That mysterious factor, and that urge to learn about everything, gave Madame X an addicting quality that I enjoyed.

I can't say much about the other characters. The most prominent of characters other than Madame X is Caleb, and he... well. I don't think I like him. But I'm fascinated by him anyway. Which probably isn't good, because the more I learn about him, the more twitchy I get. However, there could be hope for him in the next two books. I'm not sure yet. For now, I guess I love the puzzle he poses but dislike what he DOES.

There's another character who comes into play later in the story, and I'm not going to say much about him because of his lateness to enter and how much of a game changer he has been and may continue to be, but I will say that I am such a fan of him. He lit up the story in a way I was hoping for.

Madame X is a gorgeously written, captivating novel that had me up all night flying through the pages. Jasinda Wilder has knocked it out of the park with this one, and I cannot WAIT to see what comes next!

4 stars - A stunning, edgy story that had me captivated!

~ Excerpt ~

A knock on the door, the silent swing of hinges, and then heat and hardness behind me, a faint but intoxicating hint of cologne, the creak of leather. Hands on my waist, lips at my neck. Breath on my skin.
I don’t dare tense, don’t dare suck in a sharp breath of fear. I don’t dare pull away.
Strong, hard, powerful hands twist me in place, and an index finger touches my chin, lifts my face, tilts my gaze. I cannot breathe, don’t dare, haven’t been given permission.
“You are lovelier than ever, X.” A deep, smooth, cultured voice, like the purr of a finely tuned engine.
“Thank you, Caleb.” My own voice is quiet, careful, my words chosen and precise.
“Scotch.” The command is a murmur, barely audible.
I know how to prepare it: a cut-crystal tumbler, a single ice cube, thick amber liquid an inch from the top. I offer the tumbler and wait, keep my eyes downcast, hands behind my back.
“You were too harsh on Jonathan.”
“I must respectfully disagree.”
“His father expects results.”
I bristle, and it does not go unnoticed. “Have I ever failed to produce results?”
“You sent him away after less than an hour.”
“He wasn’t ready. He needed to be shown his faults. He needs to understand how much he has to learn.”
“Perhaps you’re right.” Ice clinks, and I take the empty tumbler, set it aside, and force myself to remain in place, force myself to keep breathing and remind myself that I must obey. “I didn’t come here to discuss Jonathan Cartwright, however.”
“I suppose not.” I shouldn’t have said that. I regret it as soon as the words tumble free.
My wrist bones scrape together under a crushing grip. Hard dark eyes find mine, piercing and frightening. “You suppose not?”
I should beg forgiveness, but I know better. I lift my chin and meet those cold, cruel, intelligent dark eyes. “You know I will fulfill the contract. That’s all I meant.”
“No, that isn’t all you meant.” A hand passes through artfully messy black hair. “Tell me what you really meant, X.”
I swallow hard. “You’re here for what you always want when you visit me.”
“Which is?” A warm finger touches my breastbone, slides into the valley of my cleavage. “Tell me what I want.”
“Me.” I whisper it, so not even the walls can hear.
“All too true.” My skin burns where that strong finger with its manicured nail traces a cutting line up to my shoulder. “You test my patience, at times.”
I stand stock-still, not even breathing. Breath whispers across my neck, huffs hot on my nape, and fingers toy with the zipper of my dress.
“I know,” I say.
And then, just when I expect to feel the zipper slide down my spine, body heat recedes and that hot breath now laced with hints of scotch is gone, and a single word sears my soul:
My tongue scrapes over dry lips, and my lungs constrict, protesting my inability to breathe. My hands tremble. I know this is expected of me, and I cannot, dare not resist, or protest. And . . . part of me doesn’t want to. But I wish . . . I wish for the freedom to choose what I want.
I have hesitated too long.
“X. I said . . . strip.” The zipper slides down to between my shoulder blades. “Show me your skin.”
Reaching behind my back, I lower the zipper to its nesting place at the base of my spine. Hard, insistent hands assist me in brushing the sleeves from my shoulders, down my arms, and then the dress is floating to the floor at my feet. That’s all the help I’ll get. I know from long experience that I must make a show of what comes next.
I turn my head, and see tanned skin and the perpetual two-day stubble on a refined, powerful jawline, sharp cheekbones, firm, thin lips, black eyes like voids, eyes that drip desire. My hair drapes over one shoulder. I lift one knee so my now-bare toes touch the gleaming teak, curl my shoulders in, let my gaze show my vulnerability. With a deep breath, I unhook my bra, let the garment fall away.
I reach for my underwear.
“No,” comes the purr, “leave them. Let me.”
I let my fingers graze my thighs, wait. My underwear slides down slowly, and where fingers touch, so too do lips, hot and damp, touching my skin, and I cannot flinch, cannot pull away or express how badly I want only to be alone, to even once have the right to want something else.

But I do not have that right.

~ About the Author ~
Jasinda Wilder

Jasinda Wilder is a New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, bestselling author. She is a Michigan native and currently lives there with her family. Visit her official website at

Author Links:

~ Giveaway ~

There's a tour-wide giveaway for 5 signed copies of Madame X, along with a tote bag and lip balm! To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter below! :)

Untouchable by Ava Marsh ~ Feature & Giveaway

Spend a night of sexual adventure with this gritty, debut thriller.

In a toxic world of lust, lies, and elegant hotels, London’s high-class escorts cater to the carnal appetites of powerful men. It’s a game Stella knows how to play, one that allows her to escape the nightmares of her past. The rules are simple: always leave your client satisfied, don’t get involved, and never disclose your real name. But when a fellow call girl is murdered, the game changes completely. And there’s only one rule—survival.

Once a respected professional, Stella knows how easily men can get away with murder—especially when the victim is a prostitute. Determined to get to the truth, she finds herself sucked into a deadly conflict with some of the world’s most powerful men. But while they may consider themselves above the law, there’s one secret every escort knows: no man is truly untouchable.

Available tomorrow from Berkley


Berkley is sponsoring a giveaway a copy of Untouchable!

US only

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Stacking OUR Shelves ~ 10/4/15

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.  Make sure to checkout her post with links to all the other participates.

Click covers for Goodreads links

For Review...

Received my last Percy Pack...

For Review Consideration...

Thanks go to...

Harper Collins
Disney Hyperion
Lisa Becker

Picked up for FREE...


I won a gift card & Amazon owed me for the mess up with Forever With You (they sent me the wrong book on release day).  This is what I bought.

So obsessed with this author!

For Review...

A Song for Ella GreyDenial (Careless Whispers, #1)Nuts (Hudson Valley, #1)



Thanks go to...

Gallery Books
Molly McAdams <3


Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)

That's what we added to our shelves this week! What do you think? What did you add to your stacks? Leave us a comment and link us up!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

A Wife In Every Sense by Joanne Walsh ~ Review

Source:  Received an eBook copy in exchange for  a fair and honest review.

Kate Burrows is crushing on her boss big time. Aleksei Aleksanou is tall, dark, and every inch the image of a classic Greek god—if said Greek god was incredibly sexy, rich, and a complete player. The only way she can get over him is by quitting her job and seeing the world...once she indulges in one wickedly-hot night with him.

Only now she's pregnant.

Aleksei is furious when Kate arrives on the small Greek island of Naxea and tries to hide the truth for him. He takes matters into his own hands—by announcing the pregnancy to his family and asking her to marry him. Now Kate must decide if she can marry the man of her hottest, sexiest dreams...knowing she will never be the wife of his heart.


I wanted to like this book.  There were some things stacked against it from the start.  It's written in third person, my least favorite.  It was a "tell not show" kinda story that put emotional distance between me and the characters.  It skipped big parts of scenes as if nothing significant happened during them - driving me mad.  But the last straw to deciding this wasn't just an okay book but one I just didn't enjoy was the leaving of strings of plot untied.

While I really don't enjoy third person writing, I have found to enjoy it as long as I feel a connection with the characters.  That wasn't the case here.  It did go back and forth between the two main characters POV but I didn't ever feel like I knew them much less cared about them.  Kate's big secret was known from the prologue and while I felt sorry for her and wanted to slap a certain Oliver, it didn't endear her to me.  As for Aleksei, his secret was much more emotional to me but we learn it so late in the story that I already saw him as an indifferent man with a heart of ice.  I wanted to feel sorry for him but I just didn't.

Perhaps the biggest issue I had with this one was the tell not show.  So much of the story was summary of what happened right in front of us.  Then there'd be a short scene of present followed by more summary.  Weeks and months also passed this way.  I guess I find it hard to believe that the five weeks leading up to her wedding was totally uneventful especially when this book is already pretty short.  Or when they were talking about something important only to have dinner be a summary.  Really?  Nothing happened at dinner?  I just felt like I was getting bits and pieces and not enough to develop relationships with them.

At one point in the story, she thinks of something that she really needs to tell Aleksei.  It's the part of her secret that we didn't see in the prologue but was only hinted at as the story developed.  So I expected her to tell him at some point.  What she did tell him was the part of the story we got in the prologue without the part that made a connection with his past and their present.  I kept waiting for it come out.  Expecting it to.  It never did.  And it was the last straw for this book and me.  

I can't recommend it.

Other's felt differently.  See other opinions below.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Blog Tour ~ Shifter: City of Wolves by Avery Burch (Review & Giveaway)

Click the banner above to check out the full tour schedule!

~ Book Info ~

Shifter: City of WolvesSource: e-ARC provided by Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Shifter: City of Wolves by Avery Burch

She's an elite. He's a wolf and an outcast. Their forbidden passion will move worlds.

Everyone knows that wolves love with a passion that can be dangerous. They imprint on a woman and never let her go. From the moment they love their female, they will kill for her, and die for her.

Lyla is more than rich. She's one of The Elite, a paranormal class that rules society with an iron fist. She arrives in Manhattan to begin training as an enforcer.

Zac is an orphan, an outcast, and a shifter. Turning into a wolf is an unforgivable crime in the elite regime. Enforcers hunt down and kill anyone who can shift.

When Zac and Lyla meet, they know love is hopeless, but their powerful attraction is simply too great. Fighting to overcome the ruthlessness of their society, Zac and Lyla learn that true love can overcome any obstacle, but not without dire consequences.

Shifter: City of Wolves is the first book in a paranormal romance series that features passionate romance, intensely real emotion, supernatural powers, and forbidden shifter love.

~ Review ~

I am always down for a shifter story. Shifters are my favorite paranormal creature, and one of my favorite things is finding great books (and series) that feature them. So that right there gives away exactly why I picked up Shifter: City of Wolves. I was hoping for a great shifter story. One that I'd enjoy and hopefully had a sufficient amount of romance to win me over. I'm glad to say that this book was definitely fit the bill on both of those things.

Shifter: City of Wolves is a unique, entertaining romance that I very much liked.

The story was written well. The characters were fleshed out, the world vastly described, and the romance beautifully depicted. While third person POV is not my favorite, especially the way it was done in this book, I must admit that Avery Burch did a good job with each character and their own specific minds, when she dove into them. Sometimes the switches between the characters were jarring, but I could always tell which character's POV I was reading.

Speaking of characters, Zac and Lyla were super fun protagonists. It took me a little bit for Lyla to grow on me, mostly because it took me a little bit to understand her, but I ended up rooting for them both. Zac's a sweet guy, just trying to get what he can out of life. Lyla's a strong girl, coping with the situation she's been thrust into without her consent.

Together, these two were adorable. I LOVED their romance. It did move kind of fast, but that didn't bother me so much as the story went on. In shifter stories, that kind of thing happens. In this book, there are fated mates, which explains the whole speedy-relationship thing. The more and more Zac and Lyla grew together, the more I became completely on their team. The one thing that bothered me, though, was the inappropriate times these two stopped for sexy times. Like, these two were literally on the run from people who wanted to kill him and do goodness-knows-what to her, and they stopped to roll around for a bit. Bad preservation skills right there.

As for world building, Avery Burch took a good chunk of time to lay out the world and just how bleak it was. Honestly, the world they live in does not look like fun. I appreciated the time spent shaping the setting. That said, that time spent also took away from the time I felt actively engaged in the story. Explanations were happening, and it was taking a while for Zac and Lyla to meet--AND I was so confused after the letter in the beginning, which does get explained later but only after I spend the whole book like "is this going to get awkward...?"--so I didn't get really INTO the story until farther down the line.

The shifter lore in this book was so interesting and different. Obviously I love all things shifter, so I don't get too annoyed when the particulars of shifters are pretty standard, but when I come across a story that uses a fresh take on the creatures, that's always a bonus. And a bonus is definitely what Shifter: City of Wolves is, because I was fascinated by what the shifters were in this world, how they worked and everything about them.

Overall, Shifter: City of Wolves is an entertaining and romantic start to a series I definitely plan on continuing. This novel's unique take on shifters, great mixture of sweet and sexy romance, and characters I am very interested to know more about makes Avery Burch's story one I enjoyed. If you're looking for an interesting take on shifters along with some sweetness, I recommend giving this one a try!

3 stars - A unique and romantic start to a series I totally plan on continuing!

~ About the Author ~

Avery Burch is a hot new paranormal romance author and her series, Shifter: City of Wolves is going to have a huge impact. She writes chilling tales of shifters and heart-wrenching stories of love and lust. If you like your romance spicy, your shifters sexy, your love stories intense, and your heroines passionate, then her books are for you.

She lives in Toronto, Canada.

Author Links:

~ Giveaway ~

There's a tour-wide INT giveaway for 10 e-book copies of Shifter: City of Wolves! To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter below! :)

Books that need MORE Attention Giveaway Hop

This hop is about those books you fall in love with but not enough peeps heard about how awesome it is!

I love good books.  Pretty obvious, huh.  Sometimes you find one that rocks your world.  When you look up after finishing it, you're just shocked the rest of the WORLD isn't reading it too!  One such book for me?  It's a series, really.

Forbidden Men by Linda Kage

Every book I've read in this series has been a 5 star read!

Click covers for Goodreads links

I'm giving away any THREE eBooks in the series.

One winner can choose THREE of these titles.

INT as long as you can accept an eBook

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now hop along to the next blog...

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Dirty Talk (Mechanics of Love, #2) by Megan Erickson ~ Tour stop & Giveaway

Source:  Received an eBook copy in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

When the one you shouldn't want is the one you can't resist...

Brent Payton works hard, plays hard, and has earned his ladies’ man reputation. But he’s more than just a good time, even though no one seems to see it. Until a gorgeous brunette with knockout curves and big, thoughtful eyes walks into his family’s garage and makes Brent want more.

Ivy Dawn and her sister are done with men, all of them. They’ve uprooted their lives too many times on account of the opposite sex, but that’s over now. The plan seems easy until a sexy, dirty-taking mechanic bursts in Ivy’s life and shakes everything up.

Brent can’t resist the one person who sees past his devil-may-care façade, and Ivy finds it harder and harder to deny how happy he makes her. But she has secrets of her own and when the truth comes out, she must decide if she’ll run again or if she’ll take a chance on forever.

Praise for Megan Erickson...

“A super sweet, extra sexy second chance romance that will have you laughing out loud and needing a minute to cool off. Dirty Thoughts is right!”
   — Jay Crownover, New York Times bestselling author

“Megan Erickson ratchets up the romance and sizzle in her sexy new series. The Mechanics of Love will rev readers’ hearts.”
   — Jennifer Ryan, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author

“Megan Erickson writes hot, hot, HOT stories packed with emotion and humor. You’re going to want to read everything she’s ever written!”
   — Sophie Jordan, USA Today bestselling author

Chapter 1

Brent Payton wanted some decent music while he was working.
Not this pop-rock crap the radio had been playing but real rock ’n’ roll. Hell, he’d take George Thurgood right about now. Some “Bad to the Bone”? Hells to the yeah. That was better than a cup of coffee, which he could really use this Monday morning.
He’d volunteered to spring for an iPod and a docking station so he could play his own music, but his technology-inept father had acted like Brent wanted to buy a spaceship.
So that was out.
“Brent,” Cal’s voice called from the other bay of their garage at Payton Automotive.
“What’s this shit on the radio?” his older brother asked. “Turn it down before my ears bleed.”
Brent snorted. Cal was grumpy on a normal basis. But now that he’d quit smoking and wore a nicotine patch, he was even more insufferable. So Brent didn’t argue and turned down the music.
A truck rumbled into the parking lot, and Brent turned around, squinting to see who it was.
Alex Dawn, the new employee they’d hired a week ago, strolled into the garage, a bandana wrapped around her head, wearing baggy jeans and a tight T-shirt. She held a banana in one hand.
Brent grinned and walked over to where she stood outside the door to the office, looking over the schedule for the day. She peeled her banana and took a bite. He leaned in and inhaled deeply. “I love the smell of estrogen in the morning.”
Her lips twitched only slightly before she turned around and socked him in the bicep, hard. The woman could hit.
He howled dramatically and clutched his arm, swinging it limply from the elbow. “I’m injured! I can’t work!”
While Alex gazed at him, one eyebrow raised in amusement, he forgot about his injury, grabbed her banana, and bit off half of it.
“You asshole! That’s my breakfast!” Alex smacked him in the stomach, and he started laughing, nearly choking on the banana. “I’m so stealing the Snickers you keep hidden in the office.”
He straightened in shock. “You wouldn’t.”
She was smug, the witch. “I would.”
“That’s war, woman.”
She took the rest of the banana out of the peel and then tossed it so it landed on his shoulder. “Then don’t mess with my banana.”
“That’s some grade-D dirty talk,” he said, picking the peel off of his shoulder and throwing it in the trash can.
“Will you two quit it and get to work?” his dad, Jack, hollered, sticking his head out of the office door. “It’s like you’re related.”
Brent shrugged and walked over to the minivan to continue rotating its tires. Alex smirked at him from her bay. Brent winked back.
Working with Alex had been rocky at first. She had a chip on her shoulder—which she refused talk about—and Brent really enjoyed trying to knock it off, which only led to their sniping at each other. But when some asshole customer gave her a hard time because she was a woman, and she told him to shove it—Payton and Sons Automotive didn’t really have that customer-is-always-right policy—Brent developed a newfound respect for her. When Brent backed her up in front of said asshole, she began giving him some respect in return. And so they’d fallen into this brother-sister type relationship that was actually kinda fun. Brent didn’t really have friendships with women and especially not women he’d never fucked.
And the thing about Alex was . . . he didn’t want to fuck her. It wasn’t because she wasn’t hot, because she was. But the chemistry between them was . . . lacking. Which surprised Brent. Because he was like hydrogen; he reacted with everyone.
Brent worked quietly for the rest of the morning, singing to himself when decent music came on, taking care of the minivan before moving on to the next job.
He was draining oil from an old Toyota when he heard voices from the front of the garage. He spotted Dick Carmichael talking to Alex. She pointed toward the back room, where Cal had disappeared. The Carmichaels had been coming to the shop since before Brent had started working there. Dick was a retired accountant, and his wife still cut hair in an add-on at their house.
“Can I help you, Dick?” Brent asked as he walked closer.
The man turned to him. “Hey, Brent. Uh, no, that’s fine. I’ll just wait for Cal.”
“Oh, well if you need—”
Dick waved him on. “It’s fine. You can get back to work. I’m sure you want to break for lunch soon.” He patted him on the shoulder, like he was a kid, and chuckled. “Your dad always says that’s your favorite part of the day.”
Brent tamped down the irritation. First, whatever Cal could help him with, Brent could too. Second, yeah, Brent liked eating a hell of a lot, but that didn’t mean he didn’t do his job.
So he nodded and walked back to the Toyota. He didn’t look up when he heard Cal return, when Dick spoke with Cal about some work he wanted to do to his car—work that Brent would probably be assigned to, but he wasn’t Cal, the responsible one.
Nor was he Max, their younger brother, the first of them all to become a college graduate.
Brent was the middle brother, the joker, the comic relief. The irresponsible one.
Never mind that he’d been working at this shop since he was sixteen. Never mind that he could do every job, inside and out, and fast as fuck.
Never mind that he could be counted on, even though no one treated him like that.
A pain registered in his wrist, and he glanced down at the veins and tendons straining against the skin in his arm, where he had a death grip on a wrench.
He loosened his fist and dropped the tool on the bench.
This wallowing shit had to stop.
This was his life. He was happy (mostly) and free (no ball and chain, no way), and so what if everyone thought he was a joke? He was good at that role, so the typecasting fit.
“Why so glum, sugar plum?” Alex said from beside him as she peered up into his face.
He twisted his lips into a smirk and propped a hip on the counter, crossing his arms over his chest. “I knew you had a crush on me, sweet cheeks.”
She narrowed her eyes, lips pursed to hide a smile. “Not even in your dreams.”
He sighed dramatically. “You’re just like all the ladies. Wanna piece of Brent. There’s enough to go around, Alex; no need to butter me up with sweet nicknames—”
A throat cleared. And Brent looked over to see a woman standing beside them, one hand on her hip, the other dangling at her side, holding a paper bag. Her dark eyebrows were raised, full red lips pursed.
And Brent blinked, hoping this wasn’t a mirage.
Tory, Maryland, wasn’t big, and he’d made it his mission to know every available female in the town limits and about a ten-mile radius outside of that.
This woman? He’d never seen her. He’d surely remember if he had.
Gorgeous. Long hair so dark brown it was almost black. Perfect face. It was September and still warm, so she wore a tight striped sundress that ended mid-thigh. She was tiny, probably over a foot smaller than he was. Fuck, the things that little body made him dream about. He wondered if she did yoga. Tiny and limber was his kryptonite.
Narrow waist, round hips, big tits.
No ring.
He smiled. Sure, she was probably a customer, but this wouldn’t be the first time he’d managed to use the garage to his advantage. Usually, he just had to toss around a tire or two, rev an engine, whatever, and they were more than eager to hand over a phone number and address. No one thought he was a consummate professional anyway, so why bother trying to be one?
He leaned his ass against the counter, crossing his arms over his chest. “Can I help you?”
She blinked, long lashes fluttering over her big blue eyes. “Can you help me?”
“Yeah, we’re full service here.” He resisted winking. That was kinda sleazy.
Her eyes widened for a fraction of a second before they shifted to Alex at his side and then back to him. Her eyes darkened for a minute, her tongue peeked out between those red lips, and then she straightened. “No, you can’t help me.”
He leaned forward. “Really? You sure?”
“Like, how positive?
“I’m one hundred percent positive that I do not need help from you, Brent Payton.”
That made him pause. She knew his name. He knew he’d never met her, so that could only mean she’d heard about him somehow, and by the look on her face, it was nothing good.
Well, shit.
He opened his mouth, not sure what to say but hoping it would come to him, when Alex began cracking up next to him, slapping her thighs and snorting.
Brent glared at her. “And what’s your problem?”
Alex stepped forward, threw her arm around the shoulder of the woman in front of them, and smiled ear to ear. “Brent, meet my sister, Ivy. Ivy, thanks for making me proud.”
They were both smiling now, that same full-lipped, white-teethed smile. He surveyed Alex’s face and then Ivy’s, and holy fuck—how did he not notice this right away? They almost looked like twins.
And the sisters were looking at him now, wearing matching smug grins—and wasn’t that a total cock-block? He pointed at Alex. “What did you tell her about me?”
“That the day I interviewed, you asked me to re-create a Whitesnake music video on the hood of a car.”
He threw up his hands. “Can you let that go? You weren’t even my first choice. I wanted Cal’s girlfriend to do it.”
“Because that’s more appropriate,” Alex said drily.
“Excuse me for trying to liven it up around here.”
Ivy turned to her sister, so he got a better glimpse of those thighs he might sell his soul to touch. She held up the paper bag. “I brought lunch; hope that’s okay.”
“Of course it is,” Alex said. “Thanks a lot, since someone stole my breakfast.” She narrowed her eyes at Brent. Ivy turned to him slowly in disbelief, like she couldn’t believe he was that evil.
Brent had made a lot of bad first impressions in his life. A dad of one of his high school girlfriend’s had seen Brent’s bare ass, while Brent was lying on top of his daughter, before the dad ever saw Brent’s face. That had not gone over well. And yet this impression might be even worse.
Because he didn’t care about what that girl’s dad thought of him. Not really.
And he didn’t want to care about what Ivy thought of him, but, dammit, he did. It bothered the hell out of him that she’d written him off before even meeting him. Did Alex tell her any of his good qualities? Like . . . Brent wracked his brain for good qualities.
By the time he thought of one, the girls had already disappeared to the back room for lunch.

Do you think we hurt his feelings?” Ivy picked at a stray piece of lettuce hanging out of her sandwich.
She didn’t meet her sister’s eyes, not even when Alex started making choking sounds across from her at the small table in the back of Payton and Sons Automotive.
“E-excuse me?” Alex stuttered.
Ivy bit her lip and lifted her gaze to her sister’s. Alex had talked a lot about Brent, and while there was an underlying platonic affection to her words, most of her talk was complaining about how much of a pain in her ass he was. Maybe Alex hadn’t been looking at Brent close enough during their conversation out in the garage, but Ivy had been. She’d noticed the flash of frustration over his face when they’d shut him down.
What made her pause was that it seemed like frustration directed at himself, not at her.
Crap. Ivy dipped her gaze back to her sandwich. This would not do. She and Alex had basically stamped a big red X over all dicks—literal and figurative—for a good long time. They’d already moved twice to get away from men who had ruined their lives. Tory was supposed to be where they settled in, got their lives straight, and raised Violet.
Ivy’s defense mechanism was to immediately be cold to Brent. She could have gotten bees with honey, but she didn’t want bees. Or honey. Or whatever. So she was all stinger.
She and Alex didn’t need men. The two of them and Violet would be just fine.
And yet at this moment, Ivy couldn’t stop thinking about Brent. Alex hadn’t warned her that he looked . . . like that. Like six-feet, two-inches of hotness straight out of a Mechanics of Your Dreams calendar. Jesus. That dark hair, those full lips that smirked, those slate eyes that did nothing to hide the fact that this man was trouble with a capital T.
“Iv-eeeeee.” Alex drew out her name in that way only big sisters could do when they planned to interrogate.
Ivy poked the wheat bread of her sandwich. “What?”
“Why are you concerned about Brent’s feelings?”
She didn’t know. Honestly and truly, she didn’t know, but she couldn’t forget that momentary flash of emotion that passed over his face before he covered it with a smirk. “I don’t know; he’s your coworker and—”
“I know he’s basically sex on legs, Ivy, but he knows it. And I’d be hard-pressed to find a woman who hasn’t taken a ride in this town.”
Ivy pressed her lips together, chastising herself for letting her soft heart show. She needed to focus on finding a job and raising her daughter. Those were her priorities. Not going toe-to-toe with some cocky hot guy. “You’re right; forget I said anything.” Ivy held up her index fingers and crossed them in an X. “No men.”
“Ick,” Alex spat.
“Gross,” Ivy said.
Alex grinned at her, and Ivy returned it, sipping from her iced tea. “So, work going okay?”
“Yeah, I like it here. Cal’s fair. Brent’s fun to work with. Jack’s still a hard-ass but I think he’s warming to me.”
Alex had told Ivy that Brent and Cal’s dad was a brick wall of gruff and stubborn. “Good.”
“Violet off to school okay?” Alex asked.
Ivy’s daughter was in first grade at White Pine Elementary School in the Tory school district. They’d moved in time for her start at the beginning of the school year. “Her teacher called me again, saying Vi cried on and off this morning.” Ivy knew moving was hard on her, but they hadn’t had much of a choice. “I hate this.”
Alex squeezed Ivy’s hand where it rested on the table. “It’s school. You’re not torturing her. She’ll get used to it.”
Ivy’s stomach rolled, thinking about it. “I hope.”
“She’s a good kid. She just needs time.”
Ivy sighed. “I guess.”
“Alex,” a deep voice said from the doorway. Ivy craned her head to see a man who looked a lot like Brent but . . . wasn’t Brent.
“Yeah?” Alex answered.
The man nodded at Ivy. “I’m Cal.” He turned to Alex. “Sorry. I know you’re eating lunch, but got that customer of yours out front from last week. I tried talking to her, but she likes you better.”
Alex laughed. “Greta Sherman?”
“That’s the one.”
She balled up her empty sandwich wrapper. “I’ll be back in a couple of minutes,” she said to Ivy.
Ivy looked down at her half-eaten lunch. “I can leave—”
“Nah, I’ll be right back. You finish eating.”
Alex tossed her trash into the can on the way out.
Ivy took a sip of her tea and picked at her sandwich. She’d spent all morning on the computer, applying for jobs in and around Tory. It wasn’t necessarily a mecca of job opportunities, but Alex had found a place she fit in, and the pay wasn’t bad. Ivy had some savings, but it wasn’t going to last forever, and she wanted to pull her weight in the little family they’d created.
Her résumé was a bit slim. She had a high school diploma but no college degree, having spent her early twenties raising Violet. Her job options in Tory were working as a secretary for a lawyer, selling furniture at a department store, or being a nanny.
None was appealing.
But at least they all paid.
The chair across from her squeaked, and she lifted her gaze, opening her mouth to tell Alex about her job options.
Except Alex wasn’t sitting across from her.
Brent was.
He leaned back in his chair, feet up on the table and crossed at the ankle. He held a packet of peanuts and tipped it so a couple fell into his mouth. He chewed, steel eyes on her.
She clenched her jaw shut.
He swallowed. “You looked like you were going to say something.”
“Sure I was. To Alex. But you’re not Alex.”
“No, I’m not. But I’m a great listener.”
“I’m sure,” she said drily.
His lips quirked. “Want to hear about what other things I’m good at?”
“Not particularly.”
“Because I can do this thing with my tongue—”
Good God. “I don’t do this.”
“Don’t do what?”
She waved a hand between them. “This. Flirting.”
He raised his eyebrows. “Babe, I haven’t even begun to flirt.”
She took a deep breath to calm her rising blood pressure. “Don’t do that either.”
“Jesus! Now what?” His exasperation might have been cute if she still had a heart.
“My name is Ivy. I-V-Y. Three letters. Two syllables.” Even she wanted to cringe at how much of a bitch she was being.
He was studying her now, his face a little less amused and more . . . thoughtful. She didn’t like thoughtful Brent. Amused, flirting Brent? Harmless. Thoughtful Brent, who tried to look deeper? Dangerous as hell.
He ran two fingers over his lips and then dropped his hand to the table, cocking his head. “You’re just thorns everywhere I touch, aren’t you?”
She froze at his words, like a deer in headlights because yes—yes, she was a whole lot of thorns because she’d learned long ago they were necessary to protect all her soft parts.
Brent wasn’t done, though; his voice was softer when he spoke again. “You born that way, or something make you that way, Ivy?”
She swallowed. Yep, Brent Payton was dangerous in a sexy-as-hell package. His words were seeping past those thorns, hitting all the spots where she was weak. So she gathered herself and clenched her fists at her sides. “You’re just acting like this because I’m the first woman who hasn’t fallen at your feet.”
He laughed at that. “Fallen at my feet? Nah, there are plenty of women who’ve told me to go to hell. My percentage is good, though. Maybe eighty-twenty.” He grinned that shit-eating grin. “But you got me curious now. I wanna keeping prodding until I find a place that isn’t a thorn. How long do you think that’ll take me?”
Shit, no; that’s exactly what she didn’t want. With those eyes that were smart and trouble at the same time.
She swallowed and straightened her spine. “You’ll never get close enough.”
He cocked his head. “No?”
He hummed a little and leaned back in his chair again. He threw a peanut in the air and caught it in his mouth. Then he chewed, with those steel eyes daring her to look away. “Guess I gotta plan my attack better next time, huh? You better work on those defenses.”
She heard Alex’s voice as her sister made her way back to the lunchroom. Ivy smiled and lifted her chin. “Who says I’ll be the one who needs defense?”
He laughed sharply, like he was surprised. “Oh, babe, bring it.”
She gritted her teeth. “Ivy.”
“Babe. I call it as I see it, and you’re definitely babe.”
Ivy growled.
He smiled, and then he was up out of his chair and walking out the door as Alex made her way in. Her eyes trailed Brent as he retreated to the garage.
Alex turned to Ivy, eyes concerned. “Was he bothering you?”
Bothering didn’t even touch it. “No, he’s fine. Nothing I can’t handle.”
Alex shrugged. “I can talk to him—”
“Alex, I swear, it was nothing, and even if it was, I could handle it.”
Her sister eyed her and then stole a bite of her sandwich. “Fine; now eat. You’re getting skinny.”
“Quit mothering me.”
Alex pointed to the sandwich with raised eyebrows, and Ivy glared at her as she took a bite.


I read a lot of books and romance is one of my favorites.  So when an author finds something that feels just a little different and then adds the rest of what I love about romance, I'm so down.  That's this author.

I love these characters.  When Ivy and Brent meet, there is definitely sparks flying but Ivy is in full on resist mode.  She has her reasons and she tries to use those reasons likes thorns to keep him away but Brent finds something in Ivy he didn't know he was looking for and he's not giving up.  I so love him.  I loved Brent in the first book.  Fun and solid, Brent is a good guy.  He's fell into the position of working at his dad's shop but there's more to him.  Things he's hid from even his brothers but Ivy sees it.  Brent doesn't mean to show it but she brings out the real him.

And then there's that different I talked about.  What keeps these two apart isn't a misunderstanding or miscommunication.  It's not some easily fixed problem.  It's real.  It's genuine.  And it's surprising.  I was glad it felt that way to me.  This one is not like every other romance novel out there.  It's better.

I devoured this one quickly.  I loved these two together and I loved watching things unfold.  Plus Brent is one sexy guy.  What he says to her after their first kiss?  Holy hotiness, that boy can bring the heat and he certainly knows how about dirty talk.

Never read this author?  You should.  Have't started this series?  So dang good.  Don't miss Mechanics of Love and especially Brent's story.

About the author...

Megan Erickson grew up in a family that averages 5’5” on a good day and started writing to create characters who could reach the top kitchen shelf.

She’s got a couple of tattoos, has a thing for gladiators and has been called a crazy cat lady. After working as a journalist for years, she decided she liked creating her own endings better and switched back to fiction.

She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids and two cats. And no, she still can’t reach the stupid top shelf.


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