Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Five Romance Books ~ A Stuck In Books Giveaway

 

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Sweet Talkin' Lover by Tracey Livesay
The Lord Meets His Lady by Gina Conkle (SIGNED)
The Sweetest Thing by Jill Shalvis (SIGNED)
Then There was you by Miranda Liasson (SIGNED)
You Belong To Me by Karen Rose (SIGNED)



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Sunday, August 1, 2021

Stacking Our Shelves


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...






For Review Consideration...




   




Thanks goes to...


Berkley
Knopf



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!

Two JLA Books ~ A Stuck In Books Giveaway

 

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Friday, July 30, 2021

Wolf Marked by Veronica Douglas ~ Excerpt & Giveaway

Wolf Marked
Veronica Douglas
(Magic Side: Wolf Bound, #1)
Publication date: July 30th 2021
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy

Werewolves are hunting me down.

I was just an ordinary girl working tables in small-town Wisconsin. I had no idea magic was real. That was, until I backed my car over a werewolf a couple times.

In my defense, the wolf was trying to murder me, and I was all out of mace.

Now I’ve got a pack of rogue wolves on my heels, and the only one who can protect me is Jaxson Laurent—the Chicago Alpha. He suspects I’m special and can’t take his eyes off me, but the problem is—he’s the sworn enemy of my family and every time we get close it feels like something is going to rip out of my soul.

With danger around every corner and wolves howling in the night, I need to master my magic and stand my ground, or I’ll be dead before the next moon rises.

An action-packed urban fantasy, Wolf Marked features a kick-ass heroine, a dangerous alpha hero, and a steamy slow-burn, enemies-to-lovers romance.

Prepare to be drawn into a mysterious and magical world, full of demons, shifters, and sorcerers.

This story is set in the wider Dragon’s Gift universe created by Linsey Hall, and if you enjoyed the archaeology, history, and daring in her books, this adventure is for you!

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

Savannah slammed the door and drove off.

My emotions ripped into me. Frustration. Rage. Possessiveness.

Why did I care if she was miserable?

She was just a means to an end. The key to getting the answers I needed.

The seer’s prophecy wound around me, like a python strangling an unsuspecting victim in the night. If you do not stop them, she will be dead before the full moon rises, and with her, the future of your pack.

The moon was up, and nearly full. Three nights left.

I scrubbed a hand through my hair. The fortune teller had drawn three tarot cards to foresee my future. The Moon for our adversaries. Strength for the girl. And the third had been for me.

The Hanged Man.

That fate seemed inevitable now. Savannah Caine was going to be the end of me.


Author Bio:

Veronica Douglas is a duo of professional archaeologists that love writing and digging together. After spending an inordinate amount of time doing painstaking research for academia, they suddenly discovered a passion for letting their imaginations go wild! A cocktail of magic, romance, and ancient mystery (shaken, not stirred), their books are inspired, in part, by their life in Chicago and their archaeological adventures from around the globe.

Learn about Veronica Douglas' new books by joining their newsletter at https://www.veronicadouglas.com/newsletter
You can also join our awesome Facebook reader group: Magic Side Insiders

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Instagram / Pinterest / Newsletter


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Thursday, July 29, 2021

To Hold a Rancher's Hand by Kadi James ~ Excerpt & Giveaway

To Hold A Rancher’s Hand
Kadi James
Publication date: July 27th 2021
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Rafe is a volunteer fireman who is sworn to protect his ranch and town. Gail has just lost everything to the devastating fire that destroyed her home. Will these two be able to heal their scars and find new love and happiness?

After the trauma of war, rancher Rafe comes home to help his community as a volunteer fireman while trying to find balance in civilian life. He must carry the mantle of his family, who have been Guardians of Coyote Valley for generations. Now its up to Gabe to protect the town from the fires that ravage the national forests around Coyote Valley. But as he gives his all to the community, he often forgets to take care of his own heart.

Loner Gail has just lost everything to the devastating fire that destroyed her home. When the handsome rancher who saved her offers to let her stay at his place, it seems like the perfect solution. Until she remembers she doesn’t really like living with people. It’s why she was living up on top of the mountain in the first place.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

“You’ve been back a couple years.” Javier sipped his coffee as he gazed pensively at his former ward. “I think you’ve got a better handle on it than you let on. But it’s alright. I’d rather you take it at your pace and maybe think about settling down.”

“Settle down?” Rafe couldn’t stifle his laughter. “With what? All I ever see are the sheep and dogs.”

“Well, you’re always pent up in this house.” Javier motioned to encompass the kitchen and the rest of Rafe’s home.

“I spend fifteen hours a day working out on the ranch.” Rafe chided, sliding his breakfast onto the plate. “I’d hardly call that pent up in the house. You know I’ve never had much luck with women.”

“It’s only because you don’t actually ask any of them out,” Javier said with a chuckle.

“I just haven’t met a woman who, well, a woman who made sense to me.” Gabriel took a big bite of his toast and egg.

“Maybe you need to rethink how you make sense to other people.” Javier stood up to wash out his coffee mug. “Maybe it’s the way you’re looking at it.”

“I’ve never even had a girlfriend,” Rafe said. “That is as awkward as they come.”

“Well, it’s hard to have a girlfriend when you’re in the military. But I was married when I was 21. You know you need a support system to get you through some of these things in life that you’re going to face.” Javier placed his cup in the drying rack.

“I can’t imagine facing worse than I have.” Rafe took another bite.

“I pray you don’t,” Javier said. “But whatever you face, a wife sure helps with that. Martha is the only reason I was able to make it through when your parents died. Here I was all of a sudden responsible for a whole ranch and a small, grieving child.”

“Well, I don’t have a child to take care of.” Rafe shrugged as he finished his breakfast.

“No. You’re going to have a hundred children to take care of as soon as these ewes start lambing.” Javier laughed and drained his coffee.

Rafe was just rinsing his plate when a loud static sound filled the air. A dispatcher’s voice called out over the radio. “Report of a half-acre in the grass, moderate rate of spread. Coyote Valley vegetation fire…Cow Mountain Road near mile post 12.38. Command 8. Tactical 2. First at scene will establish roadway IC. Stand by for check back on command 8.”

Gabriel and Javier exchanged a look. “That’s on North Ridge.” Gabriel left his plate in the sink and headed to the entry hall to grab his gear.

“All volunteers report to base,” the dispatcher continued. “Fire house 13 we have a report of a blaze starting up on Cow Mountain we need all hands to the fire department please including the volunteers we need as much help as we possibly can get. There’s a fire on Cow Mountain heading south.”

Javier squinted out the window and the trees swaying in the wind. “There are a few houses up on North Ridge. It’ll get to those first.”

“People living up there, still?” Rafe hoisted his web gear onto his shoulder and slung his boots and helmet up in his other hand.

“Yeah, I think there are about five houses up there,” Javier said, pulling out his phone and preparing a group text. “I’ll get the guys together.”

“I’ll head to the houses. It’s probably near where the fire started.” Rafe nodded to Javier who pulled the door open for him. “It’s not like there was a lightning storm going on.”

“You get what you need to get done,” Javier said. “I’ll send the boys up the mountain as soon as I can.”

“We’re going to need all the hands we can get,” Rafe threw his gear in the back of the truck and tipped his hat to Javier. “If the wind is blowing south, the fire will be headed straight to us.”

Author Bio:

Kadi James was raised on a ranch in Northern California riding horses, writing stories, and waiting for true love to happen. Her passion for storytelling took her around the world to experience global cultures, history, and mythology, always looking for the similarities rather than the differences. After years overseas, country roads brought her back home again and she returned to California, her family, and the ranch where she grew up. Today she writes Sweet Ranch Romance that touches reader's hearts by reminding them of the simple things that really matter in life; family, kindness, and always...love.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

The Enemy In My Bed by L.K. Shaw ~ Excerpt & Giveaway

The Enemy in My Bed
L.K. Shaw
(Brooklyn Kings, #2)
Publication date: July 27th 2021
Genres: Adult, Mafia, Romance

Pierce

The Russians have taken far too much from me. So I’ll take something of theirs. Except, I never expected my captive to be a woman. She could be the key to destroying them entirely. I’ll do whatever it takes to get revenge. Even seduce the enemy.

Soon I discover she may not be my enemy after all.

Mila

For nearly my entire life I’ve been held prisoner by darkness and pain. And just when I think freedom is within my reach, it’s stolen by yet another man determined to break me. First with rage. Then with tenderness.

I’m helpless to resist his touch, even knowing that, in the end, all that waits for me is death.

Author’s Note: There is no cheating in this book.

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EXCERPT:

“If you won’t talk about what happened last night, then why don’t you tell me how you got these?”

I stiffen and try to move away at the feel of Pierce’s fingers tracing the scars along my back. He only tightens his grip around my waist. With every question, it’s as though he’s flaying me alive. Perhaps that’s his intent.

“They were given to me by a man named Maksim.” I give in, because I don’t have it in me to fight. Not tonight. He’s chipped away at too much.

Pierce continues touching each one, as though memorizing them. “That didn’t answer my question. I want to know how you got them.”

I close my eyes against the painful memories. He isn’t going to let this go. “I got them by fighting back. By refusing to beg. I got them as a reminder. So I never forget who I am, which is no one. I got them because I was weak.”

“Mila,” Pierce growls into my ear.

“Nothing beyond that matters. Why make me pick at a scab that’s long been healed over? All that will do is add another scar to the ones already there. Don’t I have enough?”

He lets out a sigh. “What if I want to get rid of your scars?”

I shake my head. “Don’t be naive. Scars as deep as these, you can’t just get rid of, no matter how hard you try. They’re permanently etched into my skin.”

“Look at me,” Pierce commands.

Because it’s pointless to resist, I roll onto my other side and face him, but keep my eyes on the crown on his chest. He pinches my chin between his thumb and forefinger and tips my head up, so I have no choice but to meet his gaze.

“I’m not talking about the scars on your back. I’m talking about the ones here.” Pierce releases his hold and places his hand over my heart.

My eyes burn with unshed tears, and it’s hard to swallow. “Those might be even harder to erase.”


Author Bio:

LK Shaw is the bestselling author of the sexy, sinful suspense. She resides in South Carolina with her high maintenance beagle mix dog, Miss P. An avid reader since childhood, she became hooked on historical romance novels in high school. She now reads, and loves, all romance sub-genres, with dark romance and romantic suspense being her favorite. LK enjoys traveling and chocolate. Her books feature hot alpha heroes and the strong women they love.

Want a FREE short story? Be sure to sign up for her newsletter and download your copy of A Birthday Spanking, a short story set in the Doms of Club Eden world! http://bit.ly/LKShawNewsletter

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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Absolution by Louis Corsair ~ Excerpt & Giveaway

Absolution: Redux
Louis Corsair
(Elohim Trilogy, #1)
Publication date: September 15th 2020
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy

At the end of the original Absolution, the Executor traveled back in Time and altered Reality. But by doing so, he set in motion a plan to end his existence and collapse Creation. Because of his actions, there is Absolution: REDUX…

In 1947, a gangster murders private investigator Raymond Adams. In 2011, he’s brought back to life for 24 hours to solve the supernatural murder of a Hollywood Adult film star.

When the son of a Pit Lord is murdered in Hollywood, the celestial beings in charge of the Realms ask Raymond Adams to figure who did it and find the victim’s missing soul. Without memories of his life, he accepts the case to gain eternal peace. But the job is daunting:

24 hours to nab a killer…
24 hours to find a missing soul…
24 hours to unravel the victim’s exotic private life…
24 hours to stop a plot to send the universe into chaos…

With only the help of a possessed cop and a medium, Adams must trek through a Hollywood underground filled with pornography, prostitutes, and sadists, along with supernatural monsters. But can he solve the case when his own haunting memories keep surfacing, telling him exactly what kind of man he was in life?

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Excerpt

His arms were as thick as Jenn’s legs and he had to be about six and a half feet tall, maybe more. On his face was a thick handlebar mustache and his eyes were tiny beads of Divine Fire or what some call Hellfire. Marr was a strange creature that made you tense all over.

I didn’t like him right away.

Marr was all laughter as he brought us Martinis. The other bikers hovered behind me and Jenn as we sat down on a table Marr had selected. I pulled out the magnifying glass and looked the place over. But something wasn’t right. Everything looked exactly the same.

Marr boomed with laughter. “That won’t work here.”

He knew, maybe about the investigation and everything else. It was better that I found out sooner than later.

“This is good,” said Jenn and sipped the Martini.

“Thank you, miss,” said Marr.

“What’s up with your eyes?” said Jenn. She reached for one and Marr shook his head. The other bikers laughed. “That’s…real fire?” She turned to me, aghast.

“It’s a nice party trick,” I said.

“A party trick indeed… Very good, sir…” Marr’s voice was thick with glee, like he had just won the jackpot at a casino. “My clients don’t often compliment the work.” He looked over the five men behind us. “And it is tricky work, I assure you.”

There was a sardonic sophistication to the way he spoke that made him seem out of place. But he was common with common tastes; he had a liter of beer in front of him. Where Lucifer had a sort of grandeur to him, Marr lacked it. Both were creatures of the Pit, but only one was a Lord.

I took a gulp of the Martini and put it down. It really was tasty.

“So, what got you banished and imprisoned?” I said. It seemed like the reasonable place to start.

“Cruelty,” he said and chugged some beer. He slammed the glass down and drool and beer left the sides of his mouth in streams.

“How cruel do you have to be to get kicked out of the Pit?” I said and laughed. The taste of alcohol lingered in my mouth.

Marr laughed too and the table vibrated. “The Pit Lords thought I should follow their rules, stick to their hierarchy,” he said and had one of his bikers bring him another liter of beer. “They have us Pit Dogs torture the strongest souls in the Pit, so that those souls can torture the weaker ones, etc. But I always preyed on the weak. It’s a delight of mine. What fun is it to torture someone like myself?”

“None, I imagine,” I said. “But that doesn’t seem reason enough for all this.”

He me gave a devilish smile; his fiery eyes burned like the sun. It was a disguise meant to cover up the bitterness in his voice and the anger.

“A Pit Lord tried to discipline me, a newly Ascended dummy who wanted to assert his power. It was a mistake. He didn’t know what we are capable of. You strike an angry dog, sir, and it will bite you, even if you are its master. And I did. And the other Pit Lords forced the Committee to act,” said Marr. The glee returned to his face.

“Why are you so happy about it?” I said.

“So many questions...You are not here to discuss me, are you, sir?” he said.

“Doesn’t hurt, Frank,” I said. “Here’s another one for you: Why not just throw you in the Pit if you were a bad dog?”

He laughed and this time slapped his knee. “You really are amusing! I will indulge you, sir. Do you know what dogs do best? Form packs,” he said with pride. “I am an alpha Pit Dog and if they had kept me there, I would have been trouble for them. It’s an honor that they had to throw me out.”

“Fair enough. Tell me about Giovanni,” I said. “What drew him here?”

“He saw the injustice of what I have to endure and took pity on me,” said Marr. “He was a good man. And destined to become a great Pit Lord.”

“Feed me a better one, Frank,” I said. “Better yet, just tell me the truth.”

“He was one of ‘em metrosexuals!” said one of the bikers and chuckled. “Tell him how his Pappy dragged him here to help him grow some balls.”

Quickly, Marr turned to the talking biker.

“You shut your goddamned mouth, Moose!” said Marr and pounded the table with such force that it cracked it.

He launched the empty beer glass at Moose and it shattered when it collided with his skull. Moose collapsed and no one went to see if he was still alive.

 


Author Bio:

Louis Corsair is an eight-year veteran of the United States Army. Currently living in Los Angeles, California, he spends his time reading books, going on walks, writing, and enjoying the occasional visit to the beach–while trying to earn an honest buck. As a Los Angeles writer, he feels the weight of famous Los Angeles novelists, like Raymond Chandler, John Fante, Nina Revoyr, among others.

Website / Goodreads



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Last Guard by Nalini Singh ~ A Stuck In Books Giveaway

 


New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh returns to a world devastated by change in her award-winning Psy-Changeling Trinity series, where two people defined by their aloneness hold the fate of the Psy in their hands…

Termed merciless by some, and a robotic sociopath by others, Payal Rao is the perfect Psy: cardinal telekinetic, CEO of a major conglomerate, beautiful—and emotionless.

For Canto Mercant, family and loyalty are everything. A cardinal telepath deemed "imperfect" by his race due to a spinal injury, Canto cares for the opinions of very few—and ruthlessly protects those he claims as his own. Head of intel of the influential Mercant family, he prefers to remain a shadow in the Net, unknown and unseen. But Canto is also an Anchor, part of a secretive designation whose task it is to stabilize the PsyNet. Now that critical psychic network is dying, threatening to collapse and kill the entire Psy race with it.

To save those he loves, Canto needs the help of a woman bound to him by a dark past neither has been able to forget. A woman who is the most powerful Anchor of them all: Payal Rao. Neither is ready for the violent inferno about to ignite in the PsyNet…or the passionate madness that threatens to destroy them both.

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Monday, July 26, 2021

Damaged Gods by KC Cross ~ Excerpt & Giveaway

Damaged Gods
JA Huss writing as KC Cross
Publication date: July 27th 2021
Genres: Paranormal/Monster Romance

When I answered an ad for a caretaker at Saint Mark’s Sanctuary I thought I’d be dusting chandeliers and polishing floors. I didn’t expect to be tricked into a curse, going in debt to a monster, and being forced to take a self-paced “Let’s Learn Magic” course so I can fix a two-thousand-year-old problem.

And that monster?
Not your ordinary, everyday beast.
He has hooves, and horns, and fur on his legs.
But ya know where he doesn’t have fur?
Yep. There.
Which is fine.
Except he doesn’t wear pants.

Nothing at Saint Mark’s is exactly what it seems.
The entire inside is magic, the hallways upstairs are nothing but parties from the past, and the super-hot guy who lives in the dungeon?
Yeah.
Not human.

My name is Pie and all I want is to be a normal girl with an average life.
I refuse to get stuck in this curse.
I refuse to learn magic to break it.
And there is no way in hell I will fall in love with a monster.

Famous.
Last.
Words.

DAMAGED GODS is a fun paranormal monster romance about a girl named Pie who accidentally stumbles into a monster’s 2000-year-old curse only to find she’s exactly where she’s supposed to be.

Goodreads / Amazon / Audible

EXCERPT:

“If this kills me—”

“If this kills you, you should thank me. Since you’re immortal. That means your curse would be broken.”

Well. She’s got a point there. I put the test tube up to my lips, almost pass out from the horrible smell, then down it in one gulp. It hits my stomach with a burn.

“The burn passes,” Pie says hurriedly. And she puts her hand on my arm, either faking compassion or really meaning it.

Her touch is warm too. And something about it does make me feel better. Soon, the burn is gone and in its place is a tingling feeling in my hands. Then a buzzing in my head.

“Did you get to the buzzing yet?” she asks. I nod. “Good. You’re almost there. Now, while we’re waiting for it to work, let’s talk about this job.”

“No.” I put up a hand. “Not now.”

“Yes. I need a job. Just a part-time one. The Honey Bean is looking for a waitress. I need that, Pell. And I will use all my money to buy what we need and then I won’t have to go into debt.”

“You don’t get it. That won’t work. The harder you fight the curse, the more it works against you. The less magic money you use, the more the curse will force you to use it. Bad things will happen. And that will force you to work harder to…” I pause, not really wanting to say the last bit.

“Harder to what?” she presses.

“Please me. The harder you’ll have to work to please me with the debt book stuff.”

She points a finger in my face. “I will not be blowing you. Just… FYI.”

I cannot hide my laugh. “Good to know. And for the record, Pie, you’re not my type.”

She lifts her chin up in indignation like I just insulted her. “I’m not your type?”

“Nope.”

“What kind of type do you like? Bull girls?”

“I’m not a bull.”

“A satyr chimera girl?”

“There are no female satyr chimeras. We’re all men.”

“Then what is your type?” And now she’s annoyed.

I shrug. “I’ve always been partial to the nymphs.”

“Nymphs.” She crinkles her nose like the thought of nymphs is distasteful. “Water fairies?”

“Not fairies. Nymphs. You know. Willowy girls with evil intentions lurking in the forest.”

She laughs. A real laugh. “You like bad girls?”

“I do.”

“I’m not bad enough for you?”

“Not even close.”

Author Bio:

JA Huss is a New York Times Bestselling author and has been on the USA Today Bestseller's list 21 times. She writes characters with heart, plots with twists, and perfect endings. Her books have sold millions of copies all over the world. Her book, Eighteen, was nominated for a Voice Arts Award and an Audie Award in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Her audiobook, Mr. Perfect, was nominated for a Voice Arts Award in 2017. Her audiobook, Taking Turns, was nominated for an Audie Award in 2018. Her book, Total Exposure, was nominated for a RITA Award in 2019.

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The Dire Days of Willowweep Manor ~ A Stuck In Books Giveaway

 


Nimona meets Paper Girls with a literary twist in this wickedly funny graphic novel about a teenager who is swept up in a strange new universe and must save it from an all-consuming evil in order to return home.

One dark and stormy night, Haley sees a stranger drowning in the river. Since her greatest passion is Gothic romance novels, she knows her moment has come. But when Haley leaps into the water to rescue the stranger, she awakens in Willowweep. It certainly looks like the setting of one of her favorite books: A stately manor. A sinister housekeeper. Three brooding brothers. There’s even a ghost.

Except Willowweep is not what it seems. Its romantic exterior hides the workings of a pocket universe—the only protection our world has against a great force of penultimate evil, and its defenses are crumbling. Could cruel fate make Haley the heroine that Willowweep needs?


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Sunday, July 25, 2021

Wrath by Marteeka Karland ~ Excerpt & Giveawy

Wrath
Marteeka Karland
(Black Reign MC, #2)
Publication date: July 23rd 2021
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Wrath: When El Diablo sends me to infiltrate the DA’s office and find out who’s involved in the corruption there, I’m all over it. Being a lawyer, I’m singularly suited to El Diablo’s purpose, and I know the system inside and out. I am also adept at blending in, even with my muscles and tatts. We’ve known since Justice from Salvation’s Bane took a prison sentence he didn’t deserve that someone from the DA’s office was in the back pocket of the wrong people. Those wrong people are in the form of a rival MC who rule their territory with an iron fist and are trying to encroach on Salvation’s Bane as well as Black Reign.

Then I meet a sexy little platinum-haired escort and all bets are off. I’m attracted to her like I’ve never been to another woman, and it’s messing with the Zen-like calm I’m famous for. If I can’t pull myself together enough to complete this job, I’ll fail my club and, more importantly, my mentor, the club president, El Diablo. That’s something even this unholy attraction can’t cause. But what’s a man to do when all that stands in the way of the happiness of a sexy single mom and her feisty but vulnerable daughter is club business, and a few Saint Bernard puppies?

Celeste: I’m in a financial jam of the worst kind. I need to make enough money to pay for my daughter Holly’s medical bills. The sheer volume of money I need is overwhelming. Working doesn’t touch it, and no one wants to hire me full-time because of the cost of insurance. The only way to finish Holly’s leukemia treatments is for me to keep up the payments to the hospital and clinic. If I can’t, then Holly’s chances of remission may only be a lost dream. Out of options, I accept an offer to be an escort. Not only that, but I soon find myself working for a motorcycle club as a “cam girl,” doing live sex shows. Glamorous? Not at all. But it’s more money than I can make working three jobs. Imagine my surprise when the man who paid for my services as an escort turns up in the control room of my first cam show. He’s sexy as sin, and much more than he appears to be. He’s also got me completely under his spell. Which sucks because he’s quite possibly the rudest jackass I’ve ever had the displeasure of meeting.

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EXCERPT:

“Well, my friend,” Gray continued. “If you want to make money, I guarantee you, you’ve come to the right place. Lawson, Hughsman, and Gray can make you a lot of money.” He emphasized “a lot” and gave me a knowing look. “With money comes power. With power comes perks.” He gestured toward a long table with pretty much any kind of quality drug or liquor a man could want. There were Cuban cigars, Legacy rum, some kind of expensive absinthe, and, of course, heroin, cocaine, and various other mind-altering substances.

As if that whole line had been a setup, a door opened just beyond the well-stocked table and several very beautiful, very sophisticated women entered. “See what I mean?” Gray looked positively gleeful, actually rubbing his hands together as he eyed each woman like a kid in a candy store. “Yours to enjoy, Vincent. Take your pick. There’s nothing they won’t do. Live out your nastiest fantasies with as many of them as you like for as long as you like.” He clapped my shoulder. “These are just a very few of the perks you can enjoy as one of us.”

Normally, I’d have smiled politely and passed, but one woman caught my eye in a huge way. She was ethereal in her beauty. Long, platinum-blonde hair, flawlessly pale skin. She’d dressed in red, naturally. Some skimpy little number I couldn’t even register. All I saw was the woman. Short and slight, she had rounded hips but was very slender. Her legs were perfectly formed. Just the right amount of muscle to grip a man tight during sex. She looked out of place among the other women. It wasn’t something I could put my finger on, but she just didn’t fit.

Nervous. She looked nervous. Where the other women smiled and sought out a partner, this girl seemed unsure of herself. She smiled politely when she had to, but she didn’t have that shark-like quality the others did. If she was looking for the wealthiest man of the bunch — and when did an escort not do that? — she wasn’t doing a good job. In fact, she seemed to avoid eye contact whenever she could. Lord knew more than one of the men in the room tried to get her attention. She was easily the most beautiful woman in that room. Instead, she wandered around, looking at the artwork on the walls. She avoided the table with the alcohol and drugs.

My very first thought the second I could see her from head to toe was that if I fucked her the way I wanted, I might break her delicate frame. My next thought was, “I can be gentle.” It was a Goddamned lie, but I told myself that anyway.

“Ahh, I see one of them has caught your eye? Which one?”

I glanced at Gray, standing next to me. He leaned forward in anticipation. Did he have his eye on the little blonde, too? “Where do you get these girls?” I knew, of course, but I wanted to hear what he had to say.

He shrugged. “Most are from a high-end escort service out of Miami. One or two are local, I think. All of them were vetted and screened medically. All disease-free and with an IUD, verified by our physician.”

I gulped down the rest of the scotch in the lowball glass I held. Without saying anything else to Gray, I approached the young woman before anyone else had a chance.

“Come with me.” I wasn’t big on words and, really, if she was a paid escort there was no need for them.

Her eyes widened, and there was the slightest quiver to her bottom lip before she lowered her eyes and ducked her head slightly. Hmm… A little more demure than I’d like, but I could work with it. I took her hand, and I’ll be Goddamned if she didn’t tremble. My gaze snapped to hers.

“You OK?” I was a bastard, and I wanted this girl, but the farther away we got from the other women with their cloying perfumes and the more her unique clean, fresh scent wrapped itself around me, the more she wrapped herself around my insides. It was like discovering a new life form. I was eager, excited, and just plain in awe of her. She looked like a fuckin’ angel.

“Of course,” she said softly. “Where are we going?”

“To be alone,” I said gruffly, my grip on her hand tightening.

Author Bio:

Romance author by night, emergency room tech/clerk by day, Marteeka Karland works really hard to drive everyone in her life completely and totally nuts. She has been creating stories from her warped imagination since she was in the third grade. Her love of writing blossomed throughout her teenage years until it developed into the totally unorthodox and irreverent style her English teachers tried so hard to rid her of. Now, she breathes life into faeries, space hunters, werewolves, vampires, shapeshifters, and a few just plane ole ordinary people. She loves to see the awkward, self-conscious band geek get the captain of the football team and make him beg for it.

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