Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Savior's Game by Sean Chercover ~ Excerpt & Giveaway

The Savior's Game by Sean Chercover
The Daniel Byrne Trilogy, Book 3
Published August 8, 2017
Thomas & Mercer
271 Pages
$24.95 Hardcover
ISB: 9781477848791
$15.95 Trade Paperback Original
ISB: 9781503944602
$4.99 Kindle eBook
ASIN B00ZOLP8X4



Daniel Byrne is haunted by the future. Literally.

It happened to his uncle. It happened to the woman he loves. And now it’s happening to him.

It started as a voice only he could hear. Then he found himself visiting another world. A world both familiar and strange. A world inextricably linked to our own.

And the things he sees there, come true…here. It’s a power others are willing to kill for.

There’s no one Daniel can trust. Nowhere to hide. Chased across the globe by mysterious assassins, he struggles to decipher the visions plaguing him. Visions of miracles and massacres, conspiracy and catastrophe. And behind it all, a powerful adversary the likes of which we’ve never seen before.

One thing that’s clear: the universe is warning him of a cataclysmic change, an event that is either a bloody Armageddon or a shining new beginning. Daniel thinks he can see the answer—and maybe even change the outcome, before it’s too late.

But there’s a fine line between messiah and madman.





"Daniel Byrne is a hero's hero."
--Gregg Hurwitz, New York Times bestselling author of Don't Look Back

"High octane and thought provoking --a powerful combination."
--Meg Gardiner, Edgar Award-winning author of Ransom River

"A satisfying conclusion that ties up the plot threads of this multilayered story.  A rousing finale to a highly original trilogy." 
--Booklist

"The Savior's Game is even more engrossing than the first two books...Chercover provides an upredictable, thought-provoking narrative filled with amazing characterization...An insightful, gripping, and exhilarating reading experience from beginning to satisfying end."
--Fresh Fiction


CHAPTER ONE

It was the same room.
The same room, bathed in the same not-quite-orange glow that presages sunset. Daniel Byrne let out the breath he was holding and filled his lungs again. He crossed the antique living room rug, toward the tiled entrance hall. At the end of the hallway, a solid wooden door, painted British racing green.
Daniel had never passed through that door, in either direction, but he knew this apartment. He knew the bedroom in back was painted red, the same shade as his boyhood bedroom at 2601 General Pershing Street, in uptown New Orleans. He knew there was a 1920s armoire— aromatic Spanish cedar, natural finish, white porcelain knobs— in the bedroom. It had been in Tim Trinity’s room of that same childhood home. Before seeing it here three months ago, Daniel hadn’t laid eyes on it since he was thirteen.
Weirder still, the handwoven rug he now crossed had been in the living room of Kara Singh’s London flat. The rug had burned to ash when Conrad Winter’s men torched her building down to the foundation.
And yet, here it lay, the wool soft under Daniel’s bare feet. Restored.
He walked to the French doors, knowing exactly what he would see when he opened them and stepped onto the balcony: teak furniture with green-and-white-striped cushions, same as the other four times. And beyond the balcony wall, the same almost-tropical seaside town. Coconut palms in abundance, and a subtly fragrant breeze that said West Indies, but the low-rise buildings looked more Southern California— a lot of white stucco and Spanish terra-cotta roofs, with a sprinkling of art deco here and there. Cars parked on the street below ran the gamut from beater to Benz. So, a reasonably prosperous seaside town, bathed in the hyper-realistic glow of what filmmakers call magic hour.
It seemed Daniel was the only person in this town. At least, he couldn’t see anyone else from this balcony. Last time, he’d stood here for maybe fifteen minutes before trying, once more, to leave the apartment.
Only a fool would expect a different result the fifth time. He glanced again at the green door as he moved back inside to the kitchen. Front door is not the way out of here.
He grabbed a bottle of water from the well-stocked fridge and returned to the balcony. He nursed the water until the bottle was empty, watching the whole time. A quick trip inside for a new bottle of water, then back to the balcony, watching.
When the water was gone, he judged he’d been on the balcony the better part of an hour. He’d seen not a soul, not even an airplane in the sky, and he’d heard no voices or car engines or distant noises. Just the sound of the breeze, and the rhythmic beat of the surf hitting the shore, perhaps two or three blocks to the west.
But strangest of all was the sun. The sun had stayed exactly where it was in the sky, not a millimeter lower since he’d arrived. And yet, the sound of the surf told Daniel the ocean was moving at a normal pace. And since tides were caused by the gravitational pull of the moon, the moon must be moving at a normal pace, relative to the Earth.
Which didn’t easily jibe with the Earth not rotating, freezing the sun’s position in the sky.
It would take some getting used to.
Remembering shoes he’d seen in the bedroom before, Daniel stepped inside, leaving the balcony doors standing wide.
The bedroom was as expected— red walls, cedar armoire, a pair of brown leather shoes beside the bed. Daniel sat on the bed and picked them up, turning them over in his hands. Crepe rubber soles, waxed leather uppers with a thick seam sewn up the middle. More foot shaped than shoe shaped, they were completely broken in, contours suggesting many miles, wet and dry, on their owner’s feet.
He slipped his bare feet into the shoes. Perfect fit. These were clearly his shoes and no one else’s, but he could not recall having worn them before.
He laced up the shoes, walked back through the living room, stepped out onto the balcony, and approached the white half wall. The wall came up to just below his rib cage and boasted dozens of round terra-cotta-lined holes, which served to let some natural light pass through.
He felt the rough texture of the stucco surface on his hands, leaned forward over the wall, and looked down past another balcony. A patio with a metal loveseat and a couple of young coconut palms in large terra-cotta planters lay directly below, two stories down.
Probably wouldn’t kill him, but far enough for a broken ankle or two.
He hoisted himself up and swung his legs over so that he was sitting on the wall, his feet dangling. He raised his gaze, fixed his eyes on the windows of the building directly across the street and, after a few slow, centering breaths, turned to face the balcony, using the lowest terra-cotta holes as toeholds.
here hadn’t been a sound from anywhere within or near the building, but if there were occupants below, they might not assume a strange man swinging onto their balcony from above was a friendly visitor.
“If there’s anybody below,” Daniel called out, “my front door is not working— it’s stuck— so I’m gonna climb down the balconies. I’m peaceful and unarmed.”
He felt foolish talking to no one— and he felt quite certain that there was no one— but better to play it safe. He’d appreciate the same courtesy.
Do unto others, as the man said.
“Awright, coming down now.” Daniel squatted against the outside of the half wall, shifting his hands into the holes, keeping his center of gravity as close to the building as possible. He pulled his feet out of their toeholds, tensing his core and back, and slowly let gravity take his legs. He shifted his right hand lower, then his left, and then swung his legs away from the wall, added to their momentum as they pendulumed back, and released his grip.
He cleared the balcony wall below by more than he needed to, landing on his feet with too much forward momentum, but managed to lurch-step his way to a stop just short of tumbling over the furniture. The French doors were closed, the shutters behind them shut.
No evidence of neighbors.
Daniel repeated the process on this level, calling down to no one before lowering himself and dropping to the patio below.
ime to find out where the hell he was.




About the Author

Sean Chercover is the author of the bestselling thrillers The Trinity Game and The Devil's Game and two award-winning novels featuring Chicago private investigator Ray Dudgeon: Big City Bad Blood and Trigger City.  After living in Chicago, New Orleans, and Columbia, South Carolina, Sean returned to his native Toronto, where he lives with his wife and son.

Sean's fiction has earned top mystery and thriller honors in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.  He has won the Anthony, Shamus, CWA Dagger, Dilys, and Crimespree Awards and has been short-listed for the Edgar, Barry, Macavity, Arthur Ellis, and ITW Thriller Awards.

www.chercover.com | @SeanChercover



Val's giving away her copy.

Hardback copy

US only



a Rafflecopter giveaway



Swoon Thursday ~ 8/31/17


Who doesn't LOVE a good swoon?!  We love them for sure!  Check out our swoon below and then add to the fun.

Post anything that made you swoon, past or present read.  Include the cover, blurb and links.  Please no spoilers.


Soaring (Magdalene, #2)American heiress Amelia Hathaway needs to start anew.

Her husband cheated on her, and when everything she wanted in life slipped through her fingers, she fell apart. When she did, she took another heart wrenching hit as she lost the respect of her children.

When her ex took her family from California to live in the small town of Magdalene in Maine, Amelia decided it was time to sort herself out. In order to do that and win her children back, she moves to Cliff Blue, an architectural masterpiece on the rocky coast of Magdalene.

Her boxes aren’t even unpacked when she meets Mickey Donovan, a man who lives across the street, a man so beautiful Amelia takes one look at Mickey and knows she wants everything from him.

The problem is, she finds out swiftly that he’s friendly, he’s kind, but he doesn’t want everything back.

Amelia struggles to right past wrongs in her life at the same time find out who she wants to be. She also struggles with her attraction to the handsome firefighter who lives across the street.

But Amelia will face a surprise when her friendly neighbor becomes not-so-friendly. As Amelia and Mickey go head to head, Amelia must focus on winning back the hearts of her children.

She soon discovers she also must focus on winning the heart of a handsome firefighter who understands down to his soul the beautiful heiress who lives across the street is used to a life he cannot provide.



Swoon...


"Amy?" 
"What?" I snapped. 
"You're the best woman I've ever met." 
I stared into his beautiful blue eyes, seeing those words reflected there and knowing since the moment I clapped eyes on him, one of the things I wanted most was to see that look aimed at me.

Since The Time in Between released on Tuesday, I spent the weekend re-reading the first two books in the Magdalene series. SUCH a great decision, my friends!


That's our swoon this week! What about you? Leave us a comment & a link.


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine ~ Excerpt & Giveaway

Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine
Published July 1, 2017
Thomas & Mercer
300 pages
$15.95 Trade Paperback Original
ISBN: 978-477848661
$4.99 Kindle eBook 
ASIN B01MFGX5GI







Gina Royal is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor—the ultimate warrior mom.

With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.

But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake—and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed—or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop.





"In this rapid-fire thriller...Caine spins a powerful story of maternal love and individual self-realization." --Publishers Weekly

PROLOGUE
GINA ROYAL
Wichita, Kansas



Gina never asked about the garage.

That thought would keep her awake every night for years after, pulsing hot against her eyelids. I should have asked. Should have known. But she’d never asked, she didn’t know, and in the end, that was what destroyed her.

She normally would have been home at three in the afternoon, but her husband had called to say he had an emergency at work and she’d have to fetch Brady and Lily from school. It was no bother, really—there was still plenty of time to finish up in the house before starting dinner. He’d been so lovely and apologetic about having to disrupt her schedule. Mel really could be the best, most charming man, and she was going to make it up to him; she’d already decided that. She’d cook his favorite dish for dinner: liver and onions, served with a nice pinot noir she already had out on the counter. Then a family night, a movie on the couch with the kids. Maybe that new superhero movie the kids were clamoring to see, though Mel was careful about what they watched. Lily would curl into Gina’s side, a warm bundle, and Brady would end up sprawled across his dad’s lap with his head up on the arm of the sofa. Only bendable kids could be comfortable like that, but it was Mel’s favorite thing in the world, family time. Well. His second-favorite, after his woodworking. Gina hoped that he wouldn’t make an excuse to go out and tinker around in his workshop this evening.

Normal life. Comfortable life. Not perfect, of course. Nobody had a perfect marriage, did they? But Gina was satisfied, at least most of the time.

She’d been gone from the house for only half an hour, just long enough to race to school, pick up the kids, and hurry home. Her first thought as she turned the corner and saw the flashing lights on her block was Oh God, what if someone’s house is on fire? She was prop­erly horrified at the idea, but in the next, selfish second, she thought, Dinner’s going to be so late. It was petty but exasperating.

The street was completely blocked off. She counted three police cars behind the barricade, their flashing light bars bathing the nearly identi­cal ranch houses in blood red and bruise blue. An ambulance and a fire truck crouched farther down the street, apparently idle.

“Mom?” That was seven-year-old Brady, who was in the back seat. “Mom, what’s happening? Is that our house?” He sounded thrilled. “Is it on fire?”

Gina slowed the car to a crawl and tried to take in the scene: a churned-up lawn, a flattened bed of irises, crushed bushes. The battered corpse of a mailbox lay half in the gutter.

Their mailbox. Their lawn. Their house.

At the end of that trail of destruction was a maroon SUV, engine still hissing steam. It was embedded halfway into the front-facing brick wall of their garage—Mel’s workshop—and leaned drunkenly on a pile of debris that had once been part of their solid brick home. She’d always imagined their house as being so firm, so solid, so normal. The vomited pile of bricks and broken Sheetrock looked obscene. It looked vulnerable. She imagined the SUV’s path as it jumped the curb, took out the mailbox, slalomed the yard, and crashed into the garage. As she did, her foot finally hit the brake of her own vehicle, hard enough that she felt the jolt all the way through her spine.

“Mom!” Brady yelled, almost in her ear, and she instinctively put out a hand to hush him. In the passenger seat, ten-year-old Lily had yanked her earbuds out and leaned forward. Her lips parted as she saw the damage at their house, but she didn’t say anything. Her eyes were huge with shock.

“Sorry,” Gina said, hardly aware of what she was saying. “Something’s wrong, baby. Lily? Are you okay?”

“What’s happening?” Lily asked.

“Are you okay?”

“I’m fine! What’s happening?”

Gina didn’t answer. Her attention was pulled back to the house. She felt strangely raw and exposed, looking at the damage. Her home always seemed so safe to her, such a fortress, and now it was breached. Security had proved a lie, no stronger than bricks and wood and drywall.

Neighbors had poured out onto the street to gawk and gossip, which made it all so much worse. Even old Mrs. Millson, the retired schoolteacher who rarely left her house. She was the neighborhood gos­sip and rumormonger, never shy about speculating on the private lives of everyone within her line of sight. She wore a faded housecoat and leaned heavily on a walker, and her day nurse stood beside her. They both looked fascinated.

A policeman approached Gina’s vehicle, and she quickly rolled down her window and gave him an apologetic smile.

“Officer,” she said. “That’s my house there, the one that the SUV crashed into. Can I park here? I need to look over the damage and call my husband. This is just awful! I hope the driver wasn’t hurt too badly . . . Was he drunk? This corner can be dangerous.” The officer’s expression went from blank to hard-focused as she spoke, and she didn’t understand why, not at all, but knew it wasn’t good. “This is your house?”

“Yes, it is.”

“What’s your name?”

“Royal. Gina Royal. Officer—”

He took a step back and rested his hand on the butt of his gun. “Turn your engine off, ma’am,” he said as he signaled to another cop, who came at a jog. “Get the detective. Go!”

Gina wet her lips. “Officer, maybe you didn’t understand—”

“Ma’am, turn your engine off now.” It was a harsh order this time. She shifted the vehicle into park and turned the key. The motor spun down to silence, and she could hear the buzz of conversation from the curious onlookers gathering on the far sidewalk. “Keep both hands on the wheel. No sudden moves. Are there any weapons in the van with you?”

“No, of course there aren’t. Sir, I have my kids in here!”

He didn’t take his hand off his gun, and she felt a surge of anger. This is ridiculous. They have us mixed up with someone else. I haven’t done anything!

“Ma’am, I’m going to ask you again: Do you have any weapons?” The raw edge to his voice derailed her outrage and replaced it with cold panic. For a second she couldn’t speak.

She finally managed to say, “No! I don’t have any weapons. Nothing.”

“What’s wrong, Mom?” Brady asked, his voice sharp with alarm. “Why is the policeman so mad at us?”

“Nothing’s wrong, baby. Everything’s going to be just fine.” Keep your hands on the wheel, hands on the wheel . . . She was desperate to hug her son but didn’t dare. She could see that Brady didn’t believe the false warmth of her voice. She didn’t believe it herself. “Just sit right here, okay? Don’t move. Both of you, don’t move.” Lily was staring at the officer outside the car. “Is he going to shoot us, Mom? Is he going to shoot?” Because they’d all seen videos, hadn’t they, of people shot to death, innocent people who’d made the wrong move, said the wrong thing, been in the wrong place at the wrong time. And she imagined it happening, vividly . . . her kids dying and her unable to do a thing to stop it. A bright flash of light, screams, darkness.

“Of course he’s not going to shoot you! Baby, please don’t move!” She turned back to the policeman and said, “Officer, please, you’re scar­ing them. I have no idea what this is about!”

A woman with a gold police badge hanging around her neck walked past the barricade, past the officer, and right up to Gina’s window. She had a tired face and bleak, dark eyes, and she took in the situation at a glance. “Mrs. Royal? Gina Royal?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“You’re the wife of Melvin Royal?” He hated to be called Melvin. Only ever Mel, but it didn’t seem like a time to tell the woman that, so Gina just nodded in response. “My name is Detective Salazar. I’d like you to step out of the vehicle, please. Keep both hands in view.”

“My kids—”

“They can stay where they are for now. We’ll take care of them. Please step out.”

“What in God’s name is wrong? That’s our house. This is crazy. We’re the victims here!” Fear—for herself, for her kids—made her irra­tional, and she heard a strange tone in her voice that surprised her. She sounded unhinged, like one of those clueless people on the news who always made her feel both pity and contempt. I’d never sound like that in a crisis. How often had she thought that? But she did. She sounded exactly like them. Panic fluttered like a trapped moth in her chest, and she couldn’t seem to keep her breathing steady. It was all too much, too fast.

“A victim. Sure you are.” The detective opened her door. “Step out.” No please this time. The officer who’d called the detective stepped away, and his hand was still on his gun, and why, why were they treat­ing her like this, like a criminal? This is just a mistake. All a terrible, stupid mistake! Out of instinct, she reached for her purse, but Salazar immediately took it and handed it to the patrol officer. “Hands on the hood, Mrs. Royal.”

“Why? I don’t understand what’s—”

Detective Salazar didn’t give her a chance to finish. She spun Gina around and shoved her forward against the car. Gina broke her fall with outstretched hands on the hot metal of the hood. It was like touching a stove burner, but she didn’t dare pull away. She felt dazed. This was a mistake. Some terrible mistake, and in another minute they’d apologize and she would graciously forgive them for being so rude, and they’d laugh and she’d invite them in for iced tea . . . she might have some of those lemon cookies left, if Mel hadn’t eaten the rest; he really loved his lemon cookies . . .

She gasped when Salazar’s hands slid impersonally over areas that she had no right to touch. Gina tried to resist, but the detective shoved her back in place with real force. “Mrs. Royal! Don’t make this worse! Listen to me. You are under arrest. You have the right to remain silent—”

“I’m what? That’s my house! That car drove into my house!” Her son and daughter could see this humiliation, right in front of them. Her neighbors all stared. Some had cell phones out. They were taking pic­tures. Video. Uploading this horrible violation to the Internet so bored people around the world could mock her, and it wouldn’t matter later that it was all a mistake, would it? The Internet was forever. She was always warning Lily about that.

Salazar continued to talk, telling her about rights that she couldn’t possibly comprehend in that moment, and Gina didn’t resist as the detective pinned her hands behind her back. She just didn’t know how to even begin. The metal of the handcuffs felt like a cold slap on her damp skin, and Gina fought a strange, high buzzing in her head. She felt sweat rolling down her face and neck, but everything seemed separated from her. Distant. This isn’t happening. This can’t be happening. I’ll call Mel. Mel will sort this out, and we’ll all have a good laugh later. She could not comprehend how she’d gone in a minute or two from normal life to . . . to this.

Brady was yelling and trying to get out of the car, but the police­man kept him inside. Lily seemed too stunned and scared to move. Gina looked toward them and said in a surprisingly rational voice, “Brady. Lily. It’s okay—please don’t be afraid. It’ll be okay. Just do what they tell you. I’m all right. This is all just a mistake, okay? It’s going to be all right.” Salazar’s hand was painfully tight on her upper arm, and Gina turned her head toward the detective. “Please. Please, whatever you think I did, I didn’t do it! Please make sure my kids are okay!”

“I will,” Salazar said, unexpectedly kind. “But you need to come with me, Gina.”

“Is it—do you think I did this? Drove this thing into our house? I didn’t! I’m not drunk, if you think—” She stopped, because she could see a man sitting on a cot by the ambulance, breathing oxygen. A para­medic was treating him for a wound to the scalp, and a police officer hovered nearby. “Is that him? Is that the driver? Is he drunk?”

“Yes,” Salazar said. “Total accident, if you call drunk driving an accident. He hit early happy hour, made a wrong turn—says he was trying to make it back to the freeway—and took the corner too fast. Ended up with his front end inside your garage.”

“But—” Gina was utterly lost now. Completely, horribly at sea. “But if you have him, why are you—”

“You ever go into your garage, Mrs. Royal?”

“I—no. No, my husband turned it into a workshop. We put cabi­nets over the door from the kitchen; he goes into it from a side door.” “So the door at the back doesn’t go up? You don’t park in it anymore?”

“No, he took the motor out, you have to go in through the side door. We have a covered carport, so I don’t need—look, what is this? What is going on?”

Salazar gave her a look. It wasn’t angry now; it was almost apolo­getic. Almost. “I’m going to show you something, and I need you to explain it to me, okay?”

She walked Gina around the barricade, up the sidewalk where black tire marks veered and careened in muddy ditches through the yard, all the way up to where the rear of the SUV stuck obscenely out of a jumble of red bricks and debris. This wall must have held a pegboard with Melvin’s tools. She saw a bent saw mixed in with the chalky dry­wall dust and for a second could only think, He’s going to be so upset, I don’t know how to tell him about any of this. Mel loved his workshop. It was his sanctuary.

Then Salazar said, “I’d like you to explain her.”

She pointed.

Gina looked up, past the hood of the SUV, and saw the life-size naked doll hanging from a winch hook in the center of the garage. For a bizarre instant, she nearly laughed at the utter inappropriateness of it. It dangled there from a wire noose around its neck, loose arms and legs, not even doll-perfect in proportions, a flawed thing, strangely discolored . . . And why would anyone paint a doll’s face that hideous purple black, flay off pieces of the skin, make the eyes red and bulbous and staring, the tongue protruding from swollen lips . . .

And that was when she had one single, awful realization.

It’s not a doll.

And against all her best intentions, she began to scream and couldn’t stop.




About the Author:

Rachel Caine is the #1 internationally bestselling author of more than forty-five novels, including the bestselling Morganville Vampires series, the Weather Warden series, the Outcaster Season series, and the Revivalist series, and the acclaimed YA novel Prince of Shadows.  Her newest, most ambitious series yet -- The Great Library-- recently launched with the first book , Ink and Bone.

Rachel was born at White Sands Missile Range, which people who know her say explains a lot.  She has been an accountant, a professional musician, and an insurance investigator, and until very recently continued to carry on a secret identity in the corporate world.  She and her husband, fantasy artist R. Cat Conrad, live in Texas. 



Val is giving away her copy of this one!

Want it?

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Waiting On Wednesday ~ 8/30/17


This is our version of Waiting on Wednesday but with more cuddles, books we can't wait to cuddle for various reasons.

What are we waiting on this week?  THIS!


Hockey player Will “Mad Dog” Madigan is back for his second shot at the international games. He’s fired up and ready to play—both on and off the ice, and when he meets figure skater Amber Sloane, she’s unlike any woman he’s ever met. She’s ambitious and driven and takes no time for fun. But Will wants to show Amber there’s always time for romance—even in this competitive environment. Between fierce competition and chasing gold, will they have a chance at finding love?
Available 2/13/18 from Berkley



Why am I waiting?  I adore sports in romance, especially hockey!  And Jaci Burton always brings the heat!  What about you?  Waiting on this one?




Never ApartHow many times would you die for love?

What if you had to relive the same five days over and over?

And what if at the end of it, your boyfriend is killed…

And you have to watch. Every time.

You don’t know why you’re stuck in this nightmare.

But you do know that these are the rules you now live by:

Wake Up.

Run.

Die.

Repeat.

Now, the only way to escape this loop is to attempt something crazy. Something dangerous. Something completely unexpected. This time…you’re not going to run.

Combining heart-pounding romance and a thrilling mystery Never Apart is a stunning story you won’t soon forget.


Releases October 3rd, 2017 from Entangled Teen

Why am I waiting? I saw this one on Entangled Teen's Instagram yesterday and it totally caught my eye. That TAGLINE: "How many times would you die for love?" It got me. Right away. And now reading the synopsis...I can't wait to get this book in my hands!!



That's what we're waiting on this week! What do you think? What are you waiting on? Leave a comment and link us up!


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Can't Hardly Breathe by Gena Showalter ~ Release Day, Excerpt & Giveaway

   

From New York Times Bestselling author Gena Showalter, comes the next standalone romance in the Original Heartbreakers Series—CAN’T HARDLY BREATHE!

Grab your copy today!


 

CAN’T HARDLY BREATHE Synopsis:

New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter returns with an irresistible Original Heartbreakers story about a woman who’s never felt desired and the man who wants her more than air to breathe…

Bullied in high school, Dorothea Mathis’s past is full of memories she’d rather forget. But there’s one she can’t seem to shake—her longstanding crush on former Army Ranger Daniel Porter. Now that the sexy bad boy has started using her inn as his personal playground, she should kick him out...but his every heated glance makes her want to join him instead.

Daniel returned to Strawberry Valley, Oklahoma to care for his ailing father and burn off a little steam with no strings attached. Though he craves the curvy Dorothea night and day, he’s as marred by his past as she is by hers. The more he desires her, the more he fears losing her.

But every sizzling encounter leaves him desperate for more, and soon Daniel must make a choice: take a chance on love or walk away forever.

   

Get your copy of CAN’T HARDLY BREATHE here!

 

Amazon | Kindle | Barnes & Noble | Nook | Book Depository

Powell’s | iBooks | BAM | Kobo | Google Play | IndieBound

 

Audible

   

Add it to your Goodreads Now!


  EXCERPT

Dorothea Mathis studied the last room on her cleanup schedule and groaned. The bed had been wrecked, the comforter and pillows tossed haphazardly on the floor. A pair of panties hung from a bedpost. The TV remote had been busted, the pieces scattered across the night­stand. Wet towels created a path to the bathroom door, and the trash can…


Oh, gag me! The trash can contained used condoms.

The place needed to be decontaminated by people wearing hazmat suits.

Am I up to date on my vaccinations?

With a sigh, Dorothea anchored earbuds in place, keyed up her iPod and donned a pair of latex gloves. One—germs. Gross! Two—she was protective of the green nail polish she’d applied only that morning.

She selected color based on mood. Green = irritated.

Somehow she’d known today would suck balls.

Her mom must have checked in Mr. and Ms. Pigsty last night after Dorothea had gone to bed. Since she had a 4:00 a.m. wake-up call, she tended to hit the sack by 9:00 p.m. Granny hours, her sister, Holly, liked to tell her.

Dorothea picked up the dirty towels, removed the panties from the post, emptied the trash, changed the sheets on the bed, straightened the pillows and covers, and tossed the remote remains, planning to bill the Pig­stys for a new one.

Time was limited this morning. She’d promised to drive her mother into the city in— Crap! Less than an hour. She rushed through dusting and began vacuum­ing. 

As the machine swallowed dirt and debris, she tried not to envy her mother. Carol would soon be enjoying her fourth “singles retreat” of the year. Her fourth, but certainly not her last. She stayed at the Michaelson, a five-star hotel owned by the richest guy in Strawberry Valley, Dane Michaelson. Dane was married to a local girl Dorothea had gone to school with, and he allowed Carol to stay free of charge. No doubt about it, she took full advantage, attending speed-dating sessions, mixers and a plethora of themed parties.

Her busy love life was just one of the many reasons she’d given the Strawberry Inn to Dorothea.

The wheels on her cart suddenly squeaked, the sound louder than her music. Yanking out the earbuds, she spun.

Surprise expelled the air from her lungs, leaving her gasping. This so wasn’t happening right now.

It couldn’t be happening.

Nightmares didn’t really come to life. Nor did pornos. Not that she watched those…very often. But dang it, this had to be one or the other.

The sexiest man on the planet had just stridden into the room. He was shirtless, sweat glistening on his eight pack—and his name was Daniel Porter.

The Daniel. The childhood crush she’d never forgot­ten. The first boy to break her already fragile heart.

She gulped. What was he doing here?

Wait. Like she really needed to ponder this one. Wel­come back, Mr. Pigsty.
Her hands trembled as she yanked the vacuum cord from the electrical socket, the room descending into si­lence as the engine died.

I think you’re perfect just the way you are.

She smoothed her trembling hands down her “uni­form,” a pair of blue scrubs that could take a licking and keep on ticking. “Uh, hi. Hello.” Oh, wow. Could she be any lamer? Definitely in a nightmare, not a porno. “Welcome back.”

He pulled the earbuds from his ears and gifted her with a small smile that failed to hide the lines of strain around his mouth. “Sorry about the mess. I planned to clean up before I checked out.” His gaze darted through­out the room, and he cringed. “I also plan to pay for the remote.”

What kind of sexual acrobatics had placed the poor remote in harm’s path, anyway?

Oh, my stars. A warm flush poured over Dorothea, threatening to overheat her. She almost fanned her cheeks for relief, barely stopped herself.

Look away! She tried, she really did, but Daniel was just so freaking beautiful. He was even taller now, and stronger, with a rough, tough face. His cheekbones were sharp, and his nose boasted a small notch in the center. Been broken a time or two? Dark stubble dusted his an­gular jaw, though the shadows couldn’t disguise the fine tracery of scars on his left cheek.

He was a modern-day warrior—literally. After high school, he’d joined the army, defending the country he loved.

This wasn’t the first time Dorothea had seen him since his return to town a few months ago, but her body reacted as if she’d never seen any man, heating and tin­gling in all the naughtiest places.

Act naturally. He’s just a customer.

A customer who’d wrecked a room during his most recent stay, but whatever. He was waiting for her to respond to his offer.

Let’s do this. “Yes, thank you. Payment would be appreciated.” She wound the vacuum cord around her arm, her motions clipped. “As for the room, I just need to tidy the bathroom, and I’ll be done.”

With his back to her, he stuffed his toiletries into an overnight bag. “I’ll get out of your way, then.”

During his senior year of high school, he hadn’t just slept with Madison Clark; he’d slept with a string of beautiful, popular girls, as if banging-and-bailing had finally been dubbed a national sport.

Good thing Dorothea hadn’t pursued him. He would have taken all her firsts and discarded her like garbage.

Instead, Jazz Connors had taken all her firsts and dis­carded her like garbage.
Anger boiled her blood until bitterness swept in, leav­ing a glaze of frost. Fire and ice. This wasn’t the first time they’d battled it out, and this wouldn’t be the last. The biggest downside? They ensured the wounds inside her hollowed-out chest never really had a chance to heal.

After graduation, she’d moved to the big bad city, enrolled in the University of Oklahoma’s meteorology program, met Jazz and gotten hitched, just as she’d al­ways dreamed…only to return home several years later with a divorce and no degree.

A washed-up has-been by the age of twenty-four.

Daniel, having served multiple tours of duty, had come back a hero.

His life had meaning, hers didn’t. He and two of his friends had started a security company right here in Strawberry Valley. He took care of his ailing father, and in his free time he dated a plethora of city girls.

Dorothea knew about the girls because he’d stayed at the inn every time a date had ended…successfully.

Her flush returned full force as she considered the other five rooms he’d wrecked since his return…all the pleasure he’d been having…all the pleasure she wished she could experience.

Not with him, of course. With someone she liked and respected. Someone who liked and respected her, too, despite the fact that she was still too round for society’s unhealthy standards, a lot too freckled and trapped in a dead-end job.
Daniel Porter would never qualify.

Dorothea found him attractive, yes, but to her, ap­pearance would never outshine personality.

My man must be my equal. She had a lot of love to give. She’d even grown to like herself…kind of. Maybe. Fine, she was trying to like herself.

Avoiding Daniel’s gaze, she said, “No, you stay. I’ll go.” Words her mother had drilled into her shouted in­side her head: the customer comes first. “I’ll finish your room later.” She rolled the vacuum toward her cart.

“You live here, right?” he asked. “You own the inn?”

“I… Yes.” Technically she lived in the attic. The more rooms she had available for guests, the more money she would make. At least in theory.

Money was the number one reason she cleaned the pig­sties herself, rather than hiring a maid. She was saving her pennies to turn every plain, ordinary room into a themed paradise. Then Strawberry Valley residents would hap­pily pay to stay just for fun.

Again, in theory.

So far she’d decided on six themes. (1) Four seasons—the weather, not the hotel chain. (2) An enchanted forest. (3) A techno dance club. (4) The underwater world of Atlantis. (5) A royal palace. And (6) an inner sanctum, aka a superhero’s wet dream.

Also up for consideration? A beach hut, an igloo, an insane asylum for her more daring patrons and a des­ert oasis.

With twenty-three rooms in total, she needed other ideas fast. And more money. A lot more money.

Maybe, when the transformations were completed, the feeling of accomplishment would finally chase away her anger and bitterness. Maybe she would feel alive. Happy.

“If any part of your stay was subpar,” she said, “I will personally—”

“No, everything has been great.” He looked over his shoulder and winked at her. “Just wanted to make sure you weren’t going to get into trouble with the boss.”
Every pulse point in her body leaped with excitement. He’d winked at her. Her!

I think you’re perfect just the way you are.

Red alert! She would not read more into his words than he’d intended. Not this time. He was a flirt, plain and simple. Always had been, apparently always would be.

“Why would I get in trouble?” she asked.

“For not finishing the room.”

Oh. Right. “Well, as long as you plan to come back to the inn, I won’t fire myself. Not because I’m desperate to see you or anything,” she added in a rush. “I’m not.” Dang it! “I mean, I’m always glad to see you here. I mean, I just want your money.” Okay. Enough!

He laughed, his amber eyes twinkling.

Air caught in her throat and sizzled. He had the sexiest laugh on the planet. His entire face softened. He pulsed with new life; fresh and vibrant, he was the epitome of spring.

Then he frowned, as if he couldn’t believe he’d found humor in, well, anything.

Her brow furrowed with confusion. Why the doom and gloom?

“In that case,” he said, his tone flat, “I think I’ll stay another night.”

“Really?” She licked her lips. “What about your girl­friend?”

He stiffened. “She isn’t my—”

“No, don’t tell me. I’m sorry I asked. Your love life isn’t my business.”

“I live in Strawberry Valley. My love life is every­one’s business.”

His wry tone made her chuckle, and he stiffened all over again. Great. What had she done wrong this time?

“I’ll be alone tonight,” he said, looking anywhere but at her. “Apparently I hover over my dad when I’m home, so he’s asked for another night off. But I swear to you, this room will be clean in the morning.”

She snorted. “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

The corners of his mouth twitched. “Doubting Dot­tie.” A pause, then, “Would you like a cup of coffee be­fore you go?”

“Oh, uh, no, thank you.” While she no longer viewed Daniel through the wounded eyes of high school betrayal— he’d been a nice boy doing a nice thing for a vulnerable girl in desperate need of a white knight—she’d endured too much heartbreak over the years to risk getting to know him better and reigniting her crush.

Look at the way she’d reacted to him already.

He appeared…disappointed? No, of course not. A trick of the light, surely. “Well. See you around, Daniel.”

“Yeah. See you around, Dottie.” He returned his at­tention to his toiletry bag, dismissing her.

Irritation had her snapping, “My name is Dorothea.”

Before he could respond, she stepped into the hall and closed the door with a soft snick. Hands trembling, she hooked the vacuum to the cart and rolled the cargo to the supply room…where her younger sister Holly was smoking a cigarette.





This giveaway is hosted by the tour host and Stuck In Books is not responsible for selecting the winner or delivering the prizes.



  About Gena Showalter: Gena Showalter is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of the spellbinding Lords of the Underworld and Angels of the Dark series, two young adult series--Everlife and the White Rabbit Chronicles--and the highly addictive Original Heartbreakers series. In addition to being a National Reader's Choice and two time RITA nominee, her romance novels have appeared in Cosmopolitan (Red Hot Read) and Seventeen magazine, she's appeared on Nightline and been mentioned in Orange is the New Black--if you ask her about it, she'll talk for hours…hours! Her books have been translated in multiple languages. She’s hard at work on her next novel, a tale featuring an alpha male with a dark side and the strong woman who brings him to his knees. You can learn more about Gena, her menagerie of rescue dogs, and all her upcoming books at genashowalter.com or Facebook.com/genashowalterfans    

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Hard Justice by April Hunt ~ Release Day, Excerpt & Giveaway



Title: HARD JUSTICE
Author: April Hunt
Series: Alpha Security, #3
On Sale: August 29, 2017
Publisher: Forever
Mass Market: $7.99 USD
eBook: $5.99 USD
Audio: $21.98 USD






As the first female operative at Alpha Security, Charlotte "Charlie" Sparks has her work cut out for her. Sure, she can wrestle a man to the ground and hit a target at 200 yards with the best of them. But sometimes, being surrounded by all that testosterone can drive a woman to distraction—especially when that distraction is six-and-a-half feet of cocky, confident, Alpha-trained muscle.

Ex-SEAL commander Vince Franklin has been on some of the most dangerous missions in the world. But pretending to be Charlie's fiancĂ© on their latest assignment in Miami is his toughest challenge yet. Vince and Charlie are like oil and water; they just don't mix. And when their fake romance generates some all-too-real heat, Vince learns that Charlie is more than just arm candy. She's the real deal—and she's ready for some serious action.

PREORDER THE BOOK HERE






Excerpt


Vince slipped out of the truck just as she swung open her door. A group of college-aged boys turned the corner, one of whom immediately latched his lurid gaze onto Charlie’s toned legs.
“Hot damn, baby.” The kid whistled. His gaze flickered to Vince. “Why don’t you ditch the geriatric and come party with us?”
“Unless you want this geriatric to rip those lips off your face, keep walking,” Vince growled.
The kid and his friends laughed but kept going. At some point during the exchange, the pimply faced valet attendant extended his hand to Charlie.
“I got her. You get these.” Vince’s bark made the teen jump.
“Yes, sir.” The valet caught the keys Vince tossed his way and hustled over to the driver’s side.
Every inch of Charlie’s body brushed along Vince’s as he plucked her off her seat and set her back on her feet. The hair on his arms lifted as if he’d touched pure electricity, and in a way, he had. Charlie. A live wire. Jolting. Heat-inducing.
Her teeth trapped her bottom lip in a sexy nibble. Vince couldn’t help but glance down to her mouth, seeing that he wasn’t the only one overtaken by a sudden burst of awareness.
“If I’d been the one to offer my hand to you, you would’ve taken a hunk of flesh out of it with your teeth,” Vince half-joked.
She smoothed the front of his shirt, a coy smile dancing on her lips. “Not a hunk. Maybe just a little nibble.”
Sucking in a groan, Vince wrapped an arm around her waist and guided her away from the truck as another large group of college-aged kids stumbled past.
Charlie let out a strangled noise.
“What?” Vince looked at her, confused.
She bit the corner of her mouth, obviously trying to withhold laughter. “You and the look of excruciating pain plastered all over your face. You can’t tell me you’ve never prowled the bars looking for a good time.”
Vince steered them toward the entrance of the club’s outdoor patio. “Yeah, a million fucking years ago. And I didn’t have to prowl for anything. Good times always came to me.”
This time Charlie snorted with her chuckle, and the sound of it made his lips twitch. It was goddamned cute, though he would never admit it aloud and risk a punch to his kidneys.
“It’s a wonder headquarters hasn’t blown up from testosterone toxicity,” Charlie murmured as they stepped to the end of the club’s red-roped line.
The bouncer manning the entrance took a lazy-eyed stroll over Charlie’s body. “You two together?”
Vince cocked a glance to his arm, still wrapped snugly around her waist. “What do you think?”
“I think it’s too damn bad. But you both can go on in. And if your lady’s interested, there’s a bar-dancing competition sometime within the hour.” He eyed Charlie’s legs. “You’re a shoe-in for first fucking prize, sweetheart.”
Vince would’ve loved nothing more than to swipe the smirk off the bastard’s face, but Charlie intervened, threading her fingers through his, and thanked the man for the invite. The people in line grumbled their protests as the bouncer opened the gate and let them onto the club’s patio.
Miami Heat lured in a who’s who of the rich, famous, and privileged. Whereas the indoor section of the club catered to the couples dancing to the loud, theatrical pound of the music, the outdoor patio was a pool party on ’roids.
White Christmas lights wrapped every palm tree and, and as if Miami wasn’t hot enough, bamboo torches lit up the patio’s perimeter. Humidity didn’t seem to be keeping people away, because the line wrapped around the circular bar was three people deep, and growing.
“Don’t people have anything better to do than spend their money on overpriced booze?” Vince asked, inspecting the sea of drunk people.
Charlie lifted her brow. “In Miami? No. It’s all about twenty-dollar drinks and lots and lots of skin. You’re such a people person, Navy. It’s a wonder you don’t have an entire entourage surrounding you all hours of the day.”
“And you’re such the sparkling social gem, huh?” Vince said dryly. A pair of overly bronzed women skirted past, outrageously wearing less than Charlie. “I wasn’t the one who nearly made the pizza delivery boy cry because he mistakenly left behind my order of fried mushrooms.”
“No, but now I’m sure that Christopher will never forget them again. That’s the difference between us. I don’t see any point in hiding my displeasure, where you take the whole brooding in silence thing and turn it into an art form.”
“Some things can’t be changed by making a scene.”
Charlie turned toward him, the side of her breast brushing against his chest. “No, but sometimes it can make you feel a lot bloody better. Unleash the beast, Navy. Or at the very least, loosen the reins. You may be surprised at what happens.”
When he’d been with the SEAL teams, Vince wouldn’t have hesitated to let off a little steam—and without prompting. But both time and experience had taught him the error of his ways. He’d learned it at the end of his Navy career, had it drilled into his head working for bail enforcement, and now with Alpha, it had become almost second nature—except when Charlie was in close proximity. Then all those lessons flew out of his fucking head.
“You want to make ourselves visible?” Vince slipped his hand over her hip and veered her toward the dance floor. “Hope you can dance in those stilts.”







THE ALPHA SECURITY SERIES

HEATED PURSUIT, #1
HOLDING FIRE, #2
HARD JUSTICE, #3



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

April blames her incurable chocolate addiction on growing up in rural Pennsylvania, way too close to America's chocolate capital, Hershey. She now lives in Virginia with her college sweetheart husband, two young children, and a cat who thinks she's a human-dog hybrid. On those rare occasions she's not donning the cape of her children's personal chauffer, April's either planning, plotting, or writing about her next alpha hero and the woman he never knew he needed, but now can't live without.



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This giveaway is hosted by the tour host and Stuck In Books is not responsible for selecting the winner or delivering the prize.