Wednesday, March 31, 2021

When A Cowboy Loves A Woman by Jennie Marts ~ Excerpt & Giveaway

When a Cowboy Loves a Woman
Jennie Marts
(Creedence Horse Rescue #2)
Published by: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication date: March 30th 2021
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

They both know the pain of loss and how to protect their hearts…but fate has a way of stepping in…

When a kitchen fire forces young widow Elle Brooks to move in with her friend Bryn and her motley collection of rescue animals, she doesn’t foresee ending up in the muscled arms of handsome cowboy and veterinarian Brody Tate. But she can’t deny the feelings that being close to Brody are stirring in her. Spending time with the hunky cowboy and his adorable young daughter as they rehabilitate rescued horses reminds Elle of all she lost in a car crash years ago.

As a widower himself, Brody is devoted to being a good dad for his spirited daughter. He hasn’t let romance even enter his head. But now he’s met Elle. Spending time with her is shaking up the calm he’s worked so hard to achieve, and he can’t seem to get this woman off his mind.

Elle and Brody have both lost people they loved, but their mutual attraction and growing feelings are too strong to ignore. The hope of a future together is a beautiful possibility, but can these two wounded souls take a chance on each other and find the courage to love again?

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Everything hurts, thought Elle Brooks as she sank lower in the bathtub. Her back and shoulders ached from carrying bales of hay and brushing the horses that morning at the Heaven Can Wait Horse Rescue, where she volunteered. Although she preferred the physical labor over the headache she got from spending the afternoon with her financial advisor, going over the trust and through her finances. Between his company and his considerable life insurance policy, her beloved Ryan had left her with a substantial amount of money. But she’d give it all away for one more day with him.

She pushed a bubbly pile of suds across the spacious garden bathtub as the final strains of one of her favorite Pink songs faded in her ears. Usually the pop star’s music could energize her, but tonight she felt more like a sinking stone than any kind of rock star. With a sigh, she pushed the drain release with her toe and pulled the earbuds from her ears.

That’s when she heard the sirens.

Hair raised on the nape of her neck, and a chill that had nothing to do with the cooling bathwater raced up her spine. She slammed her eyes shut against the onslaught of memories. It had been over a year since Ryan died, but the images of the ambulance’s throbbing lights and the mournful sounds of the sirens were as vivid as if it had happened the day before.

She caught the first whiff of smoke as she heard the fire trucks pull up in front of her house. Water sloshed over the side as she stumbled to get out of the tub. Grabbing a towel, she scarcely had time to run it over her body before she heard the slam of her front door and raised voices.

Reaching for her pajamas, she pulled on the cotton shorts and wrenched the tank top over her head.

Move, her brain screamed. Get out.

The fabric clung to her damp skin as she snatched up her short robe and raced out of the bathroom. From the landing, she could see a flurry of men in yellow coats dragging a gray hose across the Italian marble of her foyer toward her kitchen.

She choked on the acrid smoke filling the air. There were no blazing flames, but the smoke scorched her throat, and she blinked against the sting of it to her eyes.

An older fireman caught sight of her. “You need to get out of the house, ma’am.”

Panic gripped her as she wildly looked around at the chaos invading her home. Then her gaze caught and held on the familiar eyes of the tall cowboy who’d just stepped into view. He was dressed in jeans and boots and a black Stetson hat, and the sight of his broad shoulders filling the doorway somehow grounded her.

She didn’t really know him—she’d briefly met him a few weeks ago. But that one time had shown his ability to stay calm and steady in a crisis situation. His name was Brody—Doctor Brody Tate. He was her best friend Bryn’s veterinarian. But why was a veterinarian at a house fire?

A plume of dark smoke billowed out of the kitchen, and Elle caught the distinct sound of the crackle of flames. She coughed, then turned around and ran back down the hallway.

She heard the older fireman’s voice yelling, “Get her out of here, Tate,” followed by the sound of cowboy boots sprinting up the stairs as she raced to the closed door at the end of the hall.

She pushed through, ignoring the rush of emotions that normally flooded her when she opened the door to the room decorated in pink-and-white stripes. A hand-knit pink blanket lay in the seat of the rocking chair. Elle grabbed it and clutched it to her chest. If she could only save one thing, it had to be this.

She turned back to see Brody in the doorway. He didn’t say anything, just reached for her hand and led her quickly back down the hallway.

They reached the top of the stairs, and she froze again at the commotion below—the rush of the firefighters’ feet, the commanding tone of their voices as they shouted orders, the pulsing flash of red lights against the white walls of her entryway.

Brody pulled at her hand, but she couldn’t move. He turned back and must have seen the panic in her eyes. His tone was soft as he swept her up, cradling her to him as if she weighed nothing at all. “It’s all right, darlin’. I’ve got you.”

She buried her face in his chest, clinging to him, as he carried her down the stairs and out the front door. Elle lifted her head and gulped at the fresh air.

“Is there anyone else in the house? Any pets?”

She shook her head. “No. Only me.”

“You remember me? We met a couple of weeks ago at Bryn’s?”

“Yes, I remember. But what are you doing here?” And why was she clutching his neck like he was a life preserver? A handsome, tall cowboy life preserver.

Author Bio:

Jennie Marts is the USA TODAY Best-selling author of award-winning books filled with love, laughter, and always a happily ever after. Readers call her books "laugh out loud" funny and the "perfect mix of romance, humor, and steam." Fic Central claimed one of her books was "the most fun I've had reading in years.”

She is living her own happily ever after in the mountains of Colorado with her husband, two dogs, and a parakeet that loves to tweet to the oldies. She's addicted to Diet Coke, adores Cheetos, and believes you can't have too many books, shoes, or friends.

Her books include the contemporary western romance Hearts of Montana series, the romantic comedy/ cozy mysteries of The Page Turners series, the hunky hockey-playing men in the Bannister family in the Bannister Brothers Books, and the small-town romantic comedies in the Lovestruck series of Cotton Creek Romances.

Jennie loves to hear from readers. Follow her on Facebook at Jennie Marts Books, or Twitter at @JennieMarts. Visit her at and sign up for her newsletter to keep up with the latest news and releases.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Newsletter / Bookbub / Pinterest

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Waiting On Wednesday ~ 3/31/21

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!

Julie Tieu sparkles in this debut romantic comedy, which is charmingly reminiscent of the TV show Kim’s Convenience and Frankly in Love by David Yoon, about a young woman who feels caught in the life her parents have made for her until she falls in love and finds a way out of the donut trap.

Jasmine Tran has landed herself behind bars—maple bars that is. With no boyfriend or job prospects, Jasmine returns home to work at her parents’ donut shop. Jasmine quickly loses herself in a cyclical routine of donuts, Netflix, and sleep. She wants to break free from her daily grind, but when a hike in rent threatens the survival of their shop, her parents rely on her more than ever.

Help comes in the form of an old college crush, Alex Lai. Not only is he successful and easy on the eyes, to her parents’ delight, he’s also Chinese. He’s everything she should wish for, until a disastrous dinner reveals Alex isn’t as perfect as she thinks. Worse, he doesn’t think she’s perfect either.

With both sets of parents against their relationship, a family legacy about to shut down, and the reappearance of an old high school flame, Jasmine must scheme to find a solution that satisfies her family’s expectations and can get her out of the donut trap once and for all.

Available November 2, 2021 from Avon

I admit that the cover drew me to this book.  It's totally adorable!  I do like the sound of the blurb too.

What do you think? What are you waiting on? Leave us a comment and link us up!

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Stealth by Willow Fox ~ Excerpt & Giveaway

Willow Fox
(Eagle Tactical #2)
Publication date: March 26th 2021
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Suspense

Sold to the mafia. I’m nothing more than a piece of property to my brother. Forced into an arranged marriage, I enlist the help of Eagle Tactical.

I moved in with Jaxson after the attack. It’s hard to keep my hands off him, but he’s my boss. He’s given me a job at Eagle Tactical as his subordinate.

I don’t take orders well, especially from a grumpy boss. He’s about just as grumpy as his toddler when she skips her afternoon nap.

I vowed to protect Ariella. That’s how much she means to me, but she’s gotten under my skin with her know everything attitude and sassy hip sway that has my body in overdrive.

I swore I’d never do a one-night stand. Is that what she thinks we shared? Is that why she hates me?

I don’t know how much longer I can wake up under the same roof, go to work with her, and not throw her down on the bed.

We have a mission that takes priority, but how can I keep my mind on the job when she’s always in the room, and I want to bend her over the desk?

STEALTH is book two in the Eagle Tactical series and ends with a HFN and a guaranteed series HEA.

Goodreads / Amazon



I didn’t dare gaze into the eyes of the man who bought me. Thanks to my stepbrother, Nikolai, I belonged to Franco, his second in command in the mafia.

“Next week you’ll be my bride,” Franco said, his teeth yellowing and crooked. He grabbed my jaw and yanked my face closer to his for a kiss. His breath smelled of vomit. My stomach recoiled.

We stood outside his black sedan, the door open. I was to go with him. I’d sooner starve myself to death. That was still a possibility after I went with the man who I was engaged to marry.

Bile rose to my throat, and I swallowed the burning acid as it slid back down. I kept my mouth sealed shut, but it didn’t stop him from planting his thick dry lips against mine. His tongue pushed at my mouth rough and forceful, but I refused to grant him access. The scum-sucking vermin could kiss the soles of my feet.

I wanted to kill my stepbrother but not before I took out Franco.

Franco’s thick hand palmed my hair, his fingers tangled in my locks before he yanked hard, bringing my face to his. “Other girls should be as lucky as you.”

My stepbrother was nowhere to be found. Typical. Sell me and move on, like I meant nothing to him. I was a piece of property. That was it.

Franco shoved me toward the back door of his sedan.

Oh hell, no. I had the upper hand now, with only Franco and his driver. If I made it to his house, who knew the danger that awaited, how many men I’d be forced to fight or what other security measures would exist.

“Get off me!” I slammed my elbow into his stomach and stomped on his toes before kneeing him in the crotch.

His driver lifted his gun, pointing it at my head.

“Please, you’d be doing me a favor,” I said. I’d sooner die than marry him.

“Don’t shoot her!” Franco pushed the gun away from the driver, lowering the barrel.

I pulled back my fist, landing another blow, this one to Franco’s face before his hand yanked my hair and slammed my head into the side of the car.

The world spun and nausea swept over me.

He shoved my body into the back of the vehicle, slammed the door shut, and stomped around to the front passenger side.

“Don’t puke on the interior, Bitch.”

The car engine started.

My vision blurred, but I felt for the door handle and gave it a hard pull. Damn child safety locks. It didn’t open.

Roar. I flew back against the seat as the driver slammed on the gas. The tires squealed, and my nose tickled with the scent of burning rubber. The skyline grew smaller in the distance as we tore out of the city. Where the hell were we going? Where did Franco live?

“Where are you taking me?” I rubbed my eyes, confused and tired. The blurred vision was getting better, but I still felt like I’d been run over by a car.

“Home sweet home, Darling. We’re going to Russia.”

Russia wasn’t my home. I’d never been out of the country. My fingers stroked the white gold locket against my neck, the only token of my mother that I had left, a gift from my deceased father.

I wasn’t going to Russia or any other country with Franco.

I shoved my hand into my pocket and retrieved my cell phone. I turned it on silent and sent out a text requesting help. I didn’t know how long I had until the flight or until they searched me. I’d been foolish not to bring a knife or at the very least mace with me, some kind of weapon to defend myself.

I had memorized Mason’s number, having stalked him online. It had been years since we’d seen each other. We’d gone to boarding school together. He had joined the army after high school, and I had been sent to live with my father.

It was no secret he worked for the security firm Eagle Tactical. I couldn’t call them. It would be too risky. I hoped that their business line could receive texts. I didn’t have Mason’s personal number; it appeared to be unlisted.

Mason, I need your help. Please track my phone and come for me. I wouldn’t ask if this wasn’t life or death – my death. Hazel

It was short and to the point. It’s all I could do. I hoped it would go through and he’d come for me.

Author Bio:

Willow has loved writing since she was in high school (many ages ago). Her small town romances are reflective of living in a small town in rural America.
Whether she’s writing romance or sitting outside by the bonfire reading a good book, Willow loves the magic of the written word.
She dreams of being swept off her feet and hopes to do that to her readers!

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Teaser Tuesday ~ 3/30/21

This is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.

To participate you:
* Grab your current read
(Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

An unexpected alliance

After the explosions that rocked the Alpha Summit, Skye wakes up separated from her mate and with a family she never knew existed. The more she learns of this new world she comes from, the more she realizes she will never outrun her own legacy.

Reality is a nightmare

Remy survived the attack at the Summit, but he lost more than he could have imagined. As the shifter world descends in chaos, he will have to find a way to hold it all together without Skye at his side.

War is coming

Together Skye and Remy will confront their enemies, old and new, as they fight for the survival of their pack. One final war. Winner take all.

LEGACY is the third book in theBlackwater Pack series and the final book in Skye & Remy's story. It contains dark and mature themes (including flashbacks of sexual assault and bullying) that may be triggering to some readers.

Available April 16th


"I need to make sure it is safe, printsessa."
"I promise you the bigger threat will be me if you don't get out of my way," I replied evenly.
"Let her go," Nikolai called.
Alexei sighed and moved back.  "Go on then." (Kindle location 4284)

Yeah, don't get in Skye's way when she has someplace to be!  Love this book and this series.  Have you read it yet?

That's our teaser this week.  Have one for us?  Leave us a comment.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Wallflower by Cookie O'Gorman ~ Excerpt & Giveaway

Cookie O’Gorman
Publication date: March 25th 2021
Genres: Romance, Young Adult

Wallflower (wohl-flou-erh): Identifier for someone who is shy and/or awkward. For reference, see Viola Kent.

Seventeen-year-old Viola Kent likes being invisible. Well, not literally, but she’s content being a loner, reading her books, and hanging out with the animals at the shelter. She just wants to keep her head down and get through her senior year at Durham High.

Driving Dare Frost to school every day wasn’t part of the plan.

And when Viola finds out her dad recruited Dare, his number one player, to be her friend?

Her inner Slytherin demands revenge.

The solution: Get Dare to be her fake boyfriend.

Convincing the star athlete to pretend is easier than she’d thought it would be. The hard part is protecting her heart. With every word, touch, and kiss, Viola’s feelings become more real.

The problem: Viola knows she’s falling for Dare—but he doesn’t believe in love.

This book features two sets of soulmates, one happy pooch named Hermione, so many sizzling kisses and answers the question:

Can a dork and a jock fake their way to true love?

Goodreads / Amazon


This had to be a dream, I thought. Either that or a hallucination.

Standing in our driveway, leaning back against my little Honda, hands in his pockets like he was Jake Ryan from Sixteen Candles or something, was a guy who knew he looked good even in sweats and a hoodie.

Dare Frost.

His six-foot-three frame dwarfed my car. Dare was the last person I expected to see waiting outside my house on my last first day of high school. I was so surprised it took me a second to find my voice.

But Dare just cocked his head.

“Morning flower,” he said. “Better hurry or we’ll be late.”

I shook myself out of it. “Are you lost?”

“Nope, I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.”

“What are you even doing here?” I asked.

“Isn’t it obvious?” He held his hands out, a small smile playing on his lips. “I’m here to bum a ride to school. Speaking of, could you pop the locks?” Dare rubbed his hands together. “It’s a little chilly out here.”

I laughed, couldn’t help it. “Are you crazy? Dare, I’m not taking you to school.”

“Yes, you are.”

“No. I’m not.”

Dare shrugged. “Coach said you would.”

My jaw dropped. “He did what? When? Why?”

“That’s a lot of questions,” he said. “But yeah, your dad and I talked the other day after practice. He said you’d give me a ride because we live so close to each other. Said it would be no problem. I run by your house every morning anyway. Plus, my car’s in the shop for repairs.”

“Didn’t you just get that car?” I asked.

The question made Dare smile for some reason. “You keeping tabs on me, Vi?”

I choked. “What? No!”

“Hey, no worries,” he said. “I’m not mad about it. A lot of girls do it. Just wasn’t aware you were one of them.”

Author Bio:

Cookie O'Gorman writes YA & NA romance to give readers a taste of happily-ever-after. Small towns, quirky characters, and the awkward yet beautiful moments in life make up her books. Cookie also has a soft spot for nerds and ninjas. Her novels ADORKABLE, NINJA GIRL, The Unbelievable, Inconceivable, Unforeseeable Truth About Ethan Wilder, The Good Girl's Guide to Being Bad and WALLFLOWER are out now! She is also the author of NA sports romance, The Best Mistake.

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First Comes Love by Heather Heyford ~ A Stuck In Books Giveaway


In Heather Heyford’s newest book, a single mom and attorney with deep roots in the rolling hills of Oregon’s Ribbon Ridge wine country thinks her family is perfect as is—until she crosses paths again with a gruff police officer who has two boys of his own . . .

There is nothing sweeter than the family you pick yourself . . .

After detective Alex Walker’s last case in Portland is skewered by a tough-as-nails attorney, he decides to finish out his career on a quiet note in the Willamette Valley. Dedicated to his job and committed to his family, he’s fine letting his brusque exterior keep even the thought of a relationship at bay—especially once he realizes his new hometown is the old hometown of the attorney who ruined his last case . . .

Single mom and attorney Kerry O’Hearn is just as wary as Alex is, thanks to her disastrous first marriage. But she isn’t fooled by Alex’s tough-guy image. When he asks for her assistance in gaining custody of two little boys from an abusive foster home, she sees what he desperately tries to hide: a giant-sized heart. Between them they have five kids and a whole barrel of bad experience. And yet, Kerry can’t shake the feeling that she and the crusty cop were meant to be . . .


US addresses only

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Sunday, March 28, 2021

Stacking Our Shelves ~ 3/28/21

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...


Thanks goes to...

Simon Schuster Books for Young Reader

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, March 27, 2021

Focused (Ward Sisters #1) by Karla Sorensen ~ Review

Focused (Ward Sisters #1) by Karla Sorensen

Source: KindleUnlimited.

If you've ever seen your teenage crush ten years later, and he turns out to be a complete jerk, then you know how Molly Ward feels.

The last time she saw Noah Griffin was the regrettable day that she decided to climb into his bedroom window and turn her unrequited crush into something more.

That day was bad enough, but things are about to get worse.

Noah has become one of the best football players in the country, and he’s just landed on Molly’s front step.

As a new addition to the Washington Wolves roster, Noah's presence is the key to Molly’s promotion in the front office.

The problem is, Noah wants nothing to do with Molly, and his surly attitude is making her job very difficult.

But he's got another thing coming if he thinks Molly will be intimidated by one grumpy football player, no matter how much he hates being around her.

Once these two go head to head, their mutual dislike explodes into undeniable chemistry. But with what they have at stake, they just might detonate everything else along with it.

*Available through KindleUnlimited!*

Lately I've been trying to fill my reading time with anything that will hold my attention as I wait for the new Mariana Zapata book. Therefore, I was naturally looking for something that would scratch that kind of itch when I picked what to read. And I remembered a friend saying that Focused gave her The Wall of Winnipeg and Me vibes, so I gave it a chance. And you know, I'm glad I did. Because I really enjoyed this book.

In regards to the Winnipeg vibes, I could totally see it. The main male character, Noah, is a super focused defensive football player. So focused that he lives, breathes, and sleeps football. 100% football all the time. Watching film, working out, at practice, focused. And because of this it takes him a little longer to realize the chemistry and feelings brewing between himself and the main female character, Molly.

As a whole, there was a whole lot I liked about Focused. I enjoyed Molly and Noah, and since the book is dual POV this is always nice. I also liked the side characters--Molly's family, Noah's grandmother, the people from the show that hung around all the time. I also liked that there wasn't really a time in the book where I felt like things were too slow. It didn't drag even a little. 

And of course, the biggest thing I loved about Focused was the romance. It was a more medium burn--not instant but not drawn out enough to really be considered a slow burn for me either. But it was sweet to see them grow comfortable with each other after their initial unpleasantness. And I ADORED how much Noah cared for Molly. It took him a little bit to get there, but once he was there? It was the best. Thinking about it now makes me so happy, it was that good. 

My only criticism for Focused would be that we didn't get to know much about Noah and Molly's past. This is a second chance (already a hard sell for me), but we don't know all the much about their first chance other than it was a mistake. We know they were neighbors, and we know ~the incident~ but I'd have liked to know more. I think it could have given them more depth. 

Overall, Focused was a sports romance well worth the read. A delightful medium burn with a dash of enemies to lovers and a grumpy hero that was easy to grow to love. I'd only planned to read this book and then move onto something else, but I've already started book 2 in the Ward Sisters series because I couldn't help myself!

4 stars - A delightful sports romance with a loveable grumpy hero!

Friday, March 26, 2021

The Secret Recipe for Moving On by Karen Bischer ~ Excerpt & Giveaway

The Secret Recipe for Moving On
Karen Bischer
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: March 23rd 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

When Ellie is dumped by her boyfriend, she’s forced to make new friends (while watching her ex swoon over his new girlfriend) in The Secret Recipe for Moving On, a smart and funny YA debut from Karen Bischer.

Ellie Agresti’s not sure anything could be worse than being dumped by her boyfriend, Hunter, the first day of senior year.

But sharing a “life skills” class with him and his new girlfriend, Brynn? AND getting partnered with a “family” of misfits (A.J., the loudmouth; Isaiah, the horse-racing obsessive; and Luke, the tattooed stunt-biker)?

It’s a recipe for certain disaster…until an in-class competition allows Ellie to channel her angst into beating Hunter and Brynn’s team, and she unexpectedly bonds with her own group–especially Luke–in the process.

But as Ellie soon discovers, it will take more than classroom triumphs to heal her broken heart–and find herself again.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Google Play


I’ve got a huge case of “don’t mess with me” by the time I get to the home ec room. If I have to spend the rest of the year watching this train wreck, then I intend to let everyone know how unhappy I am to be here. It’s better than being the sad and hurt victim, which is probably what Hunter is expecting me to be.

Hunter and Brynn arrive at the same time. Their heads are bent together, and they’re smiling as if sharing some sweet, cute little secret.


When they see me glaring at them, both of their faces stiffen and they swallow hard as they sit down at our table. I’d like to think they’re feeling guilty, but I’m not sure either is capable of it. More than likely they’re afraid of me, because Brynn makes a point to leave an empty seat between us. Like that space will stop me from kicking another globe at her or something.

After the bell rings, Mrs. Sanchez leans on her counter and peers at our table over her glasses. “It appears as if Paul Wilder has been expelled for his little stunt the other day.”

It’s only then that I notice Paul’s chair at the table next to ours is still empty. I’m relieved that I won’t have to be dealing with him again, but what does that have to do with us?

“And since your group has five people, and our assignments will call for groups of four, I was hoping one of you would volunteer to join Paul’s family to replace him.”

I feel my face grow hot as I scan my table. There’s Steve and Hannah, both Hunter and Brynn’s friends. And then there’s Brynn, Hunter’s new lady love. And the man of the hour himself. All of them are staring at me.

They expect me to volunteer to go.

You have got to be kidding me. I mean these people may be my new sworn enemies, but I’m not trading them for a group of delinquents and the opportunity to relive my middle school angst for the next nine months. No way, no how.

When none of us says anything, Mrs. Sanchez laughs. “I guess you’re all really tight. But you’ll still be in the same class. Surely one of you can join another group.”

Nope. Not me. Luke is staring at me, probably relishing the idea of teasing and laughing at me on a daily basis.

“I’m afraid if one of you doesn’t volunteer, I’ll have to pick someone,” Mrs. Sanchez says, annoyance rising in her voice. Good, let her pick. I’m not being pushed out of this group as if I’ve done something wrong.

“We don’t bite, yo,” A.J. says, tipping his chair back and lacing his hands behind his head.

Brynn leans toward Hunter and whispers, “I can’t believe her.”

“Can’t believe what, Brynn?” It comes out of my mouth before I can stop myself.

Brynn’s mouth hangs agape as she struggles for something to say. I feel kind of vindicated.

Until Luke speaks up. “Hey, Mrs. Sanchez. What if we pick someone?”

Mrs. Sanchez sighs. “Seeing as how this group is too stubborn to do anything, I think that’s a wonderful idea, Mr. Burke.”

Luke smiles. “I think there’s a little too much testosterone in our family, right, guys?” he says nodding at his group mates. I close my eyes, preparing for my utter humiliation.

“Okay,” I hear Luke say, and I suck in my breath. “We’d like Brynn.”

Huh? I open my eyes and exhale. Brynn is completely slackjawed. “Me?” she squeaks.

“Ms. Potts, gather your things and join their group,” Mrs. Sanchez says. “I think this is a more than sensible solution since none of you are volunteering.”

“B-but,” she sputters, looking helplessly at Hunter, who is shaking his head in dismay.

Now, Ms. Potts!” Mrs. Sanchez snaps, clearly at the end of her patience.

And that’s when Brynn starts to cry. Like, her nose gets red and tears spill over. Her hands are shaking and she lets out a little sob as she pushes in her chair. Hunter makes a grab for her free hand. Hannah tries to pat her on the back. It’s like Brynn’s being shipped off to a war zone or something. And it makes me realize I’m now going to be viewed as the monster of the group for daring to stick to my guns.

“Oh, for the love of god,” I grouch, standing up and grabbing my backpack. “I’ll go.”

Brynn is totally stunned into silence as I huff over to the next table and sit down in Paul’s vacant seat with a heavy plunk. I don’t look at any of the guys and will my hands to stop shaking. I stare straight ahead at Mrs. Sanchez, who shakes her head, perplexed. I’m kind of confused myself, though I’m not really thinking rationally right now. All I know is there’s no way I’d let Brynn play the martyr, as if her anguish was somehow worse than the pain she and Hunter inflicted on me.

It’s only then I notice the guys in the group are all gaping at me.

“Hey,” A.J. mouths, wiggling his eyebrows at me. I quickly turn my attention back to Mrs. Sanchez.

What have I done? Oh god, what have I done?

Mrs. Sanchez is oblivious to my horror as she walks around the room, placing unmarked manila envelopes on each table. “Inside these are different income brackets for your family. We have everything from ‘Grad Students on a Budget’ to ‘Dual Income Investment Bankers.’ You will also find your monthly expenses and you’ll have to figure out a realistic budget for your family based on this.”

The classroom is suddenly buzzing as everyone opens their envelopes to find out their status. A.J. grabs the envelope off our table.

“May I do the honors?” he asks.

The guys nod, and A.J. unhooks the clasp on the envelope. He reaches in and pulls out a stack of papers, and reads something on top of the pile. His smirk fades away.

“You’ve got to be kidding,” he says. He sits back in his seat, disgusted, as he tosses the papers on the table. Clipped to the top of the stack is an index card, with “Single Mother, Two Kids” written on it in thick black marker.

“Maybe it won’t be that bad. Maybe the mom’s some big-shot executive,” Luke says, picking up the stack. He peeks under the index card at the first sheet of paper and his face falls. “Oh. She’s a bus driver.”

A.J. and Isaiah are shaking their heads at the stack of papers, as if it somehow has the capability to know it’s disappointed them. Luke, however, is studying me. I decide now is as good a time as any to let him know he can’t intimidate me, so I shoot what I hope is a defiant look back at him. But instead of mocking me, his eyes quickly shift away, the tips of his ears turning slightly pink.

I’m momentarily confused, but then I notice Steve and Hannah high-fiving, Hunter pumping his fist, and Brynn, having done a complete emotional 180, dancing in her seat. Hannah is holding their papers, and I squint to read their index card: “Husband and Wife Investment Bankers, Two Kids.”

Of course.

“Now,” Mrs. Sanchez is saying, “every month you will be responsible for paying the bills in your pile. You’ll find a current budget for the family attached, but you will be making changes to it based on your income. The goal is to have some money left over each week to go into savings.”

Isaiah is skimming through the pile. “Well, it looks as if we’re making thirty-eight thousand dollars a year.”

“In this area? With two kids?” A.J. says. “There’s no way this is going to work.”

I’m kind of surprised he’s even aware of how far thirty-eight thousand dollars goes. A year ago, I had no idea how much money a family would need to get by. Now I’m all too familiar with it. I didn’t suspect other kids in an area as middle-class as Ringvale Heights would have to worry about such a thing.

I’ve noticed Luke has stayed pretty silent on the subject, but he’s reading one of the pages.

“The mom is in the process of paying off hospital bills for her recently deceased husband,” he says quietly, and I’m surprised at his sober tone.

Everyone at the table is silent as this registers. Well, everyone but A.J. “Hey! How are we going to be able to make this budget work?” he says accusatorily at Mrs. Sanchez. “We’ve got bills coming out of our ass and barely any money coming in.”

“Please refrain from swearing, Mr. Johnson,” Mrs. Sanchez says, but she smiles. “I know your income is pretty low, but with a little smarts and teamwork, you’ll make it. I promise. Now, let’s move on to picking out names for your families. Maybe think of something that invokes the lessons of this class or teamwork!”

Teamwork. I survey the group at my table: A gambling addict in training, a loudmouth, and a tattooed goliath who may or may not be crushing on Brynn. “Making it” is somehow going to be impossible. 

Author Bio:

Karen Bischer has written short stories for Girls’ World and Animal Tales magazines and currently works as a copyeditor. She lives in her native New Jersey, where she has never encountered Bruce Springsteen in the wild, but does have a cat named after a member of the E Street Band.

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Thursday, March 25, 2021

Royally Drained by Fritzi Cox ~ Excerpt & Giveaway

Royally Drained
Fritzi Cox
(V.I.L.F., #1)
Publication date: March 23rd 2021
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance

From jilted princess bride to a revenge plot fit for a king, this charming couple is royally screwed …

As I lived my best royal life, my only job as a princess was to find and marry a handsome prince. Too bad Prince Theo turned out to be more of a toad.

After I began losing my powers, he lost interest in our upcoming wedding. Not only did Theo leave me at the altar, but he also banished me and my merry band of misfits from the Kingdom of Poppycock forever.

Talk about a walk of shame!

From enchanted castle to crumbling cottage, I’m now stuck in Morningwood, struggling to plot my next move.

This strange little town, full of mischief and magic, is the perfect place to hide while I practice my spells and hopefully regain my powers.

What could possibly go wrong?

Other than accidentally summoning a mysterious male vampire who throws me off my quest and gets my blood boiling in all the right places.

And my blood is exactly what Vail and his brotherhood need for their top-secret laboratory.

Who would have thought my charming royal genes could help their dangerous mission?

As long as Vail keeps his fangs to himself, we won’t have a problem.

His hands though?

That’s another story entirely.

My taste for revenge is strong, but his taste for me is stronger.

Could this be my fairy-tale ending? Or am I destined to live a nightmare?

Author’s note:
Royally Drained is a paranormal romcom with a few dark themes. This is book 1 in the VILF series and ends with a cliff-hanger.

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I had a suspicion that my magic faded with age, like estrogen, draining youth and power from my body, turning me into an old crone soaked in wine, and leaving me with an excessive amount of bitter baggage. At least, that was how I felt at thirty-one, past my prime. I’d stupidly wasted my youth on a man who put off marrying me for so long, only to dump me at the altar and banish me from his life and his kingdom, all in a matter of minutes.

I groaned, settling down onto a tree stump caked with a questionable fungus. The drizzle of rain dissolved into a mist, wrapping around me in a blanket of wet gloom and matching my mood. Anger bubbled inside me like a cauldron of witch’s brew, ready to explode and destroy its next victim.

Could this be early menopause? I thought with a sudden pang of panic.

“Ahem,” I cleared my throat and shook the thought from my head, determined to focus on something I’d not tried yet—the darker creatures of the forest.

My spells usually involved singing birds, cuddly bunnies, and doe-eyed deer. But there was one time, a while back, I’d accidentally summoned a rabid alligator. Of course, I’d hidden up in a tree until he left, but I always wondered if my charms could be used for more than sweet, princessy qualities, as my ex used to put it. You know, those things I’d lost when I became a worthless humanish bag of bones.

Fa-la-la-la, rawr, la-la-la,” I tried, bellowing out the lowest spooky tone I could.

But nothing happened.

“I said, fa-la-la-la, rawr, la-la-la!” I screamed into the clearing, but only the windswept leaves echoed back.

I scuffed my boot into the dirt, kicking a pebble across the way before taking a deep breath and trying again.

La-la-la, rawr, la-la-la.” My voice rang out as it had years ago when my magic was strong and powerful enough to command an army of squirrels, nibbling the ankles of all my enemies.

A blanket of clouds thickened overhead, forming a sinister chill in the air. The hair on the back of my neck prickled. I had a feeling I wasn’t alone anymore.

La-la-la, rawr, la-la-la,” I sang again, louder.

Footsteps, much heavier than a bunny’s, pattered behind me. I stood up and threw my hands in the air, still singing and ignoring the feeling of someone watching me. I twirled, singing in harmony with the wind in the trees, the drizzle of rain, and the low hum of the clouds growing overhead. My senses awakened to the natural life around me, and for the first time in a year, I felt whole again.

I spun around the clearing, singing my heart out and skipping through the mud until—as my luck would have it—a man, not a beastly creature under my command, walked into my life.

“You rang,” said a deep voice behind me.

I turned to see a tall, dark figure stepping out of the shadows. His mouth curled, as if on the edge of laughter, displaying a glimpse of two deadly sharp fangs.

“Holy shit. I summoned a vampire.” I stood frozen, unable to look away.

Author Bio:

Fritzi Cox is a dark soul with a wicked sense of humor. She regularly bathes in the blood of her enemies while sipping champagne and hashtagging her vibes. She's fond of plotting mayhem, writing spellbinding twists, and tickling her readers with an over-the-top sense of humor. Rumor has it, her alter ego, Kat Addams, is her spirit animal. Or is it the other way around? Either way, expect Fritzi to keep you on your toes!

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Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Temptation by Marla Holt ~ Excerpt & Giveaway

Marla Holt
(Lightning Crashes #1)
Publication date: March 23rd 2021
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Broke and widowed, Rachel Ferrer has already lost so much that when her tarot reading roommate pulls The Tower card, Rachel isn’t phased. What are upheaval and chaos when the worst had already happened? When Rachel’s late husband’s childhood best friend, Nicolas, reappears in her life and brings a handsome friend along with him, Rachel forgets the cards. She takes a chance on Blake even though she can’t stop thinking about Nicolas. It isn’t settling if the person you want is married, right?

Nicolas Rivera has always been a man of faith. His marriage and his job at the church have been his pillars, but when the foundations of both begin to crumble, doubt and a forbidden attraction tempt him to seek comfort in the one woman he shouldn’t go anywhere near.

Nicolas and Rachel have been on the periphery of each other’s lives for years, but as circumstances push them together, lightning crackles between them. WIll they be able to resist the electricity or will they get burned by Temptation?

Temptation is the first volume of The Lightning Crashes Duet. Volume one is a slow-burn forbidden romance that ends on a cliffhanger. Volume 2, Absolution, will be available April 20th, 2021, complete with all the happily ever afters.

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“Gabe hated smoking.”

The voice came from her left, encroaching on the tiniest little bit of peace Rachel had had in days. She knew who she would find when she opened her eyes. He was the other reason she was outside. He and his friends had been in the restaurant, in their usual front-side booth for almost two hours, and the entire time she’d felt watched. She hadn’t been able to decide whether it was Nicolas or Blake who was staring at her. Maybe it was both of them. Shiny Guy had found every excuse he could to approach the bar, even asking her if she happened to be in charge of reservations. She’d barely kept from laughing in his face. The idea of managing the busy restaurant’s events on top of everything else nearly made her head explode.

Rachel opened her eyes and raised her head without adjusting her posture and took another drag from her cigarette blowing the smoke in his direction before she said, “Oh, so we’re talking about how you knew my husband now?”

He ducked his head and sat down on the nearest bench, about ten feet away. Good. He should keep his distance. “I never wanted to put you on the spot. I’m sure it can be a difficult subject.”

Rachel narrowed her eyes at him. “Or you didn’t want to be held accountable for not being there when he was sick. Or after.”

Nicolas sat forward, resting his elbows on his knees, his palms open. “We went down two different paths. I stayed here. Stayed with the church. Gabe . . .” Nicolas trailed off as if he expected Rachel to fill in the blanks as to what it was that Gabe had done. What he’d studied, the profession he’d chosen, the beliefs he’d adopted after he’d left evangelicalism behind. Rachel didn’t give him anything, and eventually Nicolas said, “Well, he moved on.”

Rachel snorted. “And left us all behind.”

“Is that how you see it?” Nicolas asked.

“It’s not really any of your business, actually.” She ducked down and grabbed her tomato juice before her stomach caved in on itself. “Was there something you needed?”

Nicolas cocked his head to the side and clasped his fingers. “I’m not a threat, Rachel.”

She knew her skepticism shone across her face, as bright as a lighthouse beacon warning sailors of cliffs, but she couldn’t help it. Everything about this man spelled trouble. Maybe he wasn’t aware of it. He definitely didn’t understand how broken she was. Or of the way she longed to use him and discard him. It was dark and lurid, the pull she felt toward him, and something Rachel would never give in to. There was no pretending her husband was back, not even for a second, even if the temptation had kept her awake more than one night this week.

“Our children are friends. You’re volunteering at the church. I’m a regular customer of yours. We could be friends.”

“I’m thankful that Oscar has a friend like Asher,” she said, watching as triumph lit his eyes. She allowed herself a twitch of a smile before she slammed the door on that. “But I don’t have time to indulge your guilt for not being a better friend to Gabe while he was here. If you’ll excuse me.”

Rachel snubbed the cigarette out on the ground and stood to flee. Only Nicolas was by her side before she could take her second step, his fingers closing on her elbow—not with any force, but enough of a touch to stop her in her tracks. Enough for her to feel the heat of him. Enough for the potential energy to crackle between them like lightning.

Time stood still even as Rachel could feel the Earth rotate around them. Rachel could predict the ecstasy of his hands on her body, the taste of sweat on his skin as she licked up his neck. The tangy flavor of herself on his lips as he kissed her. The press of his fingertips into her hips as he positioned her in his lap and the delicious completion as his cock slid inside her.

The heat of it could burn her alive if the guilt didn’t get to her first.

When she could move again, Rachel met Nicolas’s eyes and recognized the yearning. The desire. And the guilt. All there, a reflection of everything she’d just imagined, sparking in the way he was looking at her.

“Rachel, I—”

But Rachel couldn’t stay to hear anymore. She shook off his hold and stepped out of his reach. “I can’t,” she said and fled back inside before she could do something stupid like beg a married man to kiss her.

Author Bio:

Marla Holt believes in second chances, romance, and the radical notion that everyone deserves a happily every after. She's living her own fairy tale, writing contemporary romance novels in her Kansas farmhouse with her husband, three boys, three cats, and flock of imaginary sheep. Follow her at or on Instagram as @marlaholtauthor

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