EXCERPT REVEAL                                STEALING HOME by NICOLE WILLIAMS

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Coming July 10th

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synopsis

 

Being the only woman working for a professional baseball team isn’t easy. As the San Diego Shock’s newest athletic trainer, Allie knows all about long hours, endless travel, and warding off players’ advances. Given she’s already the subject of a handful of rumors about how “lucky” she was to have earned such a coveted position, she can’t so much as flutter an eyelash a player’s way if she wants to be taken seriously.

But number eleven is doing more than fluttering eyelashes Allie’s way. Far more. Luke Archer is at the top of his game and doesn’t let the fear of striking out keep him from swinging. This is a motto he applies both on and off the field, but Allie appears immune, seeming to view Luke as nothing more than caution tape on legs.

He’s a player, and in Allie’s experience, they’re all the same. She won’t risk her job or her heart to another one, no matter how different this one claims to be. But as Allie gets to know him, she discovers the number eleven the public thinks they know is very different from the real Luke Archer. He seems too good to be true.

And maybe he is.

Allie will have to confront the stories attached to a player of Luke Archer’s stature and decide who she’ll put her faith in—The man she’s falling for? Or the rumors?

 

EXCERPT

 

CHAPTER ONE

 Working for a professional baseball team was going to be the end of my love life. The past two years confirmed that theory, as had the last text I’d received from my latest ex-boyfriend.

               Half of the year on the road added to another half of the year working grueling hours that rivaled a doctor’s first year of residency equaled a whole lot of no free time to fill with a social agenda. Since being hired on by the San Diego Shock this season and the San Francisco Kings the year before that, the longest relationship I’d maintained spanned eight weeks.

               This last one had barely cleared the four-week mark.

My lifestyle was costly, but it was worth it. Baseball was in my blood, and sports medicine was in my heart.

               I’d grown up in a small Midwest town where people still got together for potlucks and everyone from the town hermit to the mayor attended a funeral. Where the only place you were expected to be after church on a Sunday was stretched out on the bleachers around the baseball field. It didn’t matter if it was a T-ball game or the high school championships—the bleachers were always packed.

Baseball was a religion where I grew up—it was stitched into the fibers of my life—so it was no surprise when I ended up with a baseball player. No, the surprise came after I’d followed him to college and found him in bed with someone else.

               It had taken the wind right out of me, along with my tendency to trust first and doubt after. Ben had been sleeping around for a while by the time I found out—friends had known and said nothing—and that was the day I made a promise to myself to never let another guy hurt me as he had, to never be made a fool of like that.

After changing schools mid-year, I started studying sports medicine and never looked back. Or at least not often. I only looked back when I found myself feeling something similar to what I’d felt for Ben. The relationship never lasted long after that.

               As evidenced by my newest failed relationship.

               “Whose ass do I need to kick, Doc?”

               Dropping my phone into my lap, I looked across the aisle to see who was sliding into the row across from me.

Luke Archer.

Known to fans as the best hitter on the Shock, if not in all of pro baseball. Known to women for his good looks and up-to-no-good smile. Known to Cosmo magazine as being voted the Finest Ass in professional baseball. And known by the athletic training staff as a well-rounded pain in our asses.

               Not because he thought he knew better or was yet another prima donna—which the sport had no shortage of—but because he held to the old-school code of taking care of an injury by “walking it off.” If that didn’t work, then we could usually convince him to pop one or two pain relievers after the game, and sometimes, if he was feeling especially accommodating, he’d accept a bag of ice.

               Luke Archer was the real man of steel, and no one to date had managed to convince him he was also made of those injury-prone materials known as flesh and blood.

               “Doc?” Archer’s voice broke through my haze of thoughts. “Just give me his name and I’ll take care of it.”

The rest of the team and staff were shuffling down the aisle between us to find their seats on the team jet, but his stare aimed my way felt unyielding.

               “What makes you think anyone’s ass deserves a kicking?” I asked.

I returned a high-five as Reynolds passed by. He’d twisted his ankle in the game earlier today, and I’d been the first on the field to get him taken care of. I’d been the last one out of the locker room to finish getting him taken care of too. As a noob, I had to work twice as hard. As a woman, I had to work ten times as hard.

               “I have three younger sisters. I have more experience than most with guys deserving ass kickings.”

               The last of the guys wandered by us. Without the break of their bodies coming between us, Archer’s stare became too intense. His eyes seemed capable of pinning me to the back of the seat.

               The head athletic trainer, Dax Shepherd, attended to the “money” players—the ones like Archer, who brought fans to the stadium and were a large part of the Shock’s impressive win-to-loss ratio. Up until this very moment, I didn’t know Luke Archer was aware of my existence on this team or the planet.

               “You really have three younger sisters?” I asked.

Unlike most of the female populace, I didn’t know every last fact about Luke Archer. The news about his parents had made headlines a few years back, and that was all I knew about his personal life.

               “I really do. And I talk to or text all of them every day.”

               “Plus you kick asses for them.”

               Archer’s hazel eyes lightened. “Plus that.” He twisted in his seat so he was almost facing me, his eyes dropping to the phone in my lap. “So? No one messes with my sisters. And no one messes with my team.”

               My forehead creased. “I’m not one of your teammates.”

               “You’re a part of my team. Just because you don’t play the field or swing a bat doesn’t mean you’re not. You keep us healthy and strong out there.” When I cocked an eyebrow, he added, “And when we get injured, you make sure we get fixed up quickly so we can get back to doing what we love. You’re every bit as vital to this team as . . .” He glanced up and down the aisle like he was looking for someone to fill in the blank with.

               “As Luke Archer?” I completed for him.

               His answer to that was a lifting of his eyes. “I’m one man who can swing one bat.”

               “One bat really, really hard. And very, very exactly,” I interjected.

               He continued, “You make sure twenty-five men can keep swinging their own bats.”

               “Well, there’s me, the two other athletic trainers, the physical therapist, the personal trainers, and the actual doctor who help out with that too. I can’t take all of the credit.”

               “Come on. You work twice as hard as any of them, so you should at least take most of the credit.” When his phone started chiming in his slacks’ pocket, he pulled it out, turned it off, and hid it back in his pocket.

               “And since the closest Shepherd and Coach Beckett have let me get to you is handing out a water bottle, how would you know that?”

               He pointed at his eyes. “I’ve got two of these and use them for observation on occasion.”

               “When they’re not searching for your next conquest?” I gave an internal groan the moment after I’d voiced something that should have stayed unsaid.

               My relationships with the players had always been professional and rarely, if ever, delved into the realm of personal information. If it didn’t have to do with preventing or tending to injuries, I didn’t bring it up.

               Until now. When I’d just suggested that Luke Archer had a reputation in every city the Shock had visited, every hotel they’d stayed in. Perfect way for my first real conversation with the star player of the team, and the whole of professional baseball, to go.

               Archer stayed quiet, studying me with that tipped smile he was famous for.

               “You know my opinion on rumors?” he said a minute later.

               I was capable of nothing more than shaking my head.

               “That they’re started by haters. Spread by fools. And accepted by idiots.”

               My head tipped. “Are you calling me an idiot?”

               His eyes flashed. “Are you calling me a manwhore?”

               I studied him lounging in his seat with his legs kicked out in front of him, his wide chest stretching beneath his suit jacket, his long arms resting on the armrests.. His body was enough to weaken the resolve of someone as jaded to player players as I was, but his face didn’t play second-string.

               Brown hair lightened by the sun, smooth skin darkened by it, a strong jaw, and hazel eyes that trended more toward the green end of the spectrum; Luke Archer was quite possibly the most attractive man I’d ever laid eyes on. According to Sports Anonymous’s random poll of five thousand women, he was the best-looking guy in professional sports today. The other few billion women on the planet would have agreed with that title, I assumed.

               “Do you always take so long to answer a question?” Archer motioned at me, waiting.

               “No,” I said, recalling the last question he’d asked me. Snap out of it. “I don’t think that you’re a  . . . manwhore,” I whispered the last part.

I’d had enough experience with the rumor mill to be a sympathetic party to the target of so many. Being one of the first and only female athletic trainers in professional sports had opened me up to a hundred rumors when I’d been hired. All versions of them had to do with me fucking my way into the position.

               “Good.” Archer nodded, seeming satisfied. “Because you certainly don’t seem like an idiot.”

               “Thanks?”

               He nodded again. “Welcome.”

               That was when the pilot’s voice echoed through the team jet, running through his usual spiel. We were leaving Tampa and heading up to Chicago. Now that the season was in full swing, I lost track of the cities we were leaving and the ones we were heading toward. All of my attention was focused on the players and getting them through the season as injury-free as possible.

               “I’m still waiting for that name, Doc.” Archer clicked his seat belt into place when one of the attendants stopped beside him, looking ready to strap it into place for him.

               When she saw mine unfastened, all I got was a lifted brow and a pointed finger before she moved on to the next aisle.

               “Oh, it’s okay. He’s not worth it.” I lifted my phone toward him before dropping it in the duffel bag I kept on hand at all times. Bandages, tape, painkillers, and a small cooler of ice packs were always at the ready whenever I was with the team. “Any guy who breaks up with someone via text message isn’t worth much.”

               “Really? Over text?” Archer’s eyes narrowed. “That’s the reason the ass-kicking was invented. For those types of guys.”

               I shrugged as the plane started to taxi down the runway, the interior lights dimming. “We haven’t even been together a month. Truthfully, it lasted longer than I thought it would. This kind of lifestyle”—I twirled my finger around the airplane—“makes it difficult to sustain a long-term relationship.”

               “That’s why I’m not a fan of them.”

               “Long-term relationships?”

               “Any kind of relationship,” he said.

               I nodded my understanding. The players had it worse than the team staff. At least in terms of having to question if a person was into them for who they were or because of their job, and the fame and money that came with it.

               “I’m either practicing for a game, playing a game, recovering from a game, or fueling up and resting for a game. There’s not time for much else,” he said.

               Leaning into my armrest, I realized how strange it was to be having such an easy conversation with Luke Archer. It felt natural, not forced. Most of the players would take a moment to chat with me about something game-related, but I was still the new kid on the block. I felt like I had to pass some test before they’d accept me as a member of the team.

               Archer didn’t seem to be of the same mind though.

               “Yeah, I know. It’s like you need to find someone who can just travel with you wherever you go, right?” I said, thinking how much easier it would to be in a relationship with someone I got to see on a daily basis without two computer screens.

               “Exactly. Someone who understands the lifestyle. Appreciates the sacrifices you have to make.”

My head fell back into the headrest from the inertia of takeoff, but I could still feel Archer’s eyes on me. “Someone who understands that the job comes first. Someone who doesn’t get insecure or jealous or bent out of shape that they get the few precious minutes in between the job.”

               When my head turned toward him again, I found Luke Archer staring at me with a kind of intensity I hadn’t seen aimed my way in a long time. My breath caught, and even though the strength of his stare threatened to overwhelm me, I held his gaze.

               “Someone who understands the game. The commitment. The time. The sacrifice. Someone who’s as committed to it as you are.” One corner of his mouth twitched, carving a dimple into his cheek. “It’s not like you could ever expect to find a person like that sitting in the row across the aisle from you, right?”

 

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about nicole

 

Nicole Williams is the New York Times and USATODAY bestselling author of contemporary and young adult romance, including the Crash and Lost & Found series. Her books have been published by HarperTeen and Simon & Schuster in both domestic and foreign markets, while she continues to self-publish additional titles. She is working on a new YA series with Crown Books (a division of Random House) as well. She loves romance, from the sweet to the steamy, and writes stories about characters in search of their happily even after. She grew up surrounded by books and plans on writing until the day she dies, even if it’s just for her own personal enjoyment. She still buys paperbacks because she’s all nostalgic like that, but her kindle never goes neglected for too long. When not writing, she spends her time with her husband and daughter, and whatever time’s left over she’s forced to fit too many hobbies into too little time.

Nicole is represented by Jane Dystel, of Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency.

 

Website   Facebook  Twitter  Blog  Instagram

 

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                                      BLOG TOUR                                       GOING DOWN by KATHERINE STEVENS

GOING DOWN BLOG TOUR BANNER

 

Author: Katherine Stevens

Title: Going Down

Release Date: 20th June, 2016

Series: The Elevator Series #1

Genre: Romantic Comedy

 

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SYNOPSIS

 

The plan for Cici Carrington was to steadily climb UP the corporate ladder, and hopefully do so without her skirt tucked into the back of her underpants. Unfortunately, there was no contingency plan for the aftermath of spending a night trapped in an elevator with a suit-wearing Elevator Sex God named Cole Danvers. A one…or two-time dalliance wouldn’t normally throw off the course of someone’s life…unless you find out you have to work together the next day.

To further complicate matters, Cici’s best friend is also her Human Resources Director. She has to hide her secret from every person she knows. Her only confidant is her one-eyed cat, and his loyalty is tenuous at best. Toss in an accidental mugging, a bungled disguise, secret meetings, and unintentional arson, and Cici’s beautiful, careful plan has fallen by the wayside.

Perhaps there aren’t any hard and fast rules in life. Sometimes you can have your cake and eat it too. Sometimes following the rules doesn’t get you ahead.

And perhaps sometimes you can get off between floors…

 

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GOING DOWN KFF

 

Kindle Friends Forever 4  Review by Rachel & Sharon Thérèse

First of all, we have to say how well timed reading this debut novel of Katherine Steven’s was! We really are mood readers and our previous book was a real tearjerker so this was a welcome change. Some of the scenes in this book gave us full on belly laughs! In fact, nearly every page had a witty line or three. The banter in this book was nothing short of hilarious and definitely fed our appetite for dry, sarcastic humour. We loved the Stars Wars/Star Trek innuendo which for us was the icing on the cake making this book one of the funniest reads of the year!

“Hey, big boy, how about you let me awaken your force? …… How about you show me your lightsabre, and I’ll let you go where no man has gone before?”
“Chewbacca doesn’t have a lightsabre and that’s Star Trek.”

Told entirely from Cici’s point of view in first person, we enjoyed her personality immensely regardless of her foot in mouth syndrome. She’s hardworking, just a tad clumsy and extremely career oriented. Her employer is currently undergoing a major restructure which results in promotion and alongside that, there’s an added bonus of a gorgeous new assistant. Now, Cici isn’t exactly introduced to her new subordinate under traditional circumstances. Let us give you a little spoiler free clue with this quote that made us laugh out loud.

“Are you going down on mewith me? Down. Are you going down? To the first floor, I mean. First floor, I mean. I didn’t mean anything else.”

Unpretentious, smart and controlled, it was easy for us to imagine not only how well Cole wore his suit, but just how well he owned it. Meeting his new boss was to be a revelation; however, not for him. After a ‘sexcapade’ occurred, an awkward introduction made us cringe and giggle in equal measure. On the verge of a comedy sketch, we couldn’t believe that the woman he’d be working with would go so far to hide her identity.

“Is that a new outfit? No wait. Is that your Herve Leger skirt? What happened?”
“There was an incident.”
“Any chance you’ll elaborate?”
“None whatsoever.”
“I figured as much……”

The character development in this book was second to none and we can’t not mention one of our favourites, Maggie, who is Cici’s best friend and co-worker. She steals the show in some of the scenes in this book so it would be a crime not to share her personality with you. Maggie was simply a breath of fresh air! Her sass and quirkiness made us crack up with her shenanigans in trying to get a man! One of the funniest moments was her dragging Cici on a road trip to ensnare a trucker! Yes, you read that correctly.

“Don’t forget to call me Maggie May. I don’t want them to think I’m some yuppie city girl.”
“Maggie, you are some yuppie city girl. You have lived in the Upper East Side all your life. You’ve never even set foot inside a public school. You might have forgotten, but your picture was actually on Urban dictionary for two whole days next to ‘Rich White Girl’.”

Even though this book is an absolute hoot to read, it still didn’t leave much to the imagination in terms of the most sensual scenes one could ever wish for! At certain points, we had to stop and take a breather or two. Yes Ms Stevens, you certainly did deliver in convincing us that Cole and Cici experienced some amazing sexual chemistry. For the most part, they literally had difficulty keeping their hands off each other which lead to even more hilarity!

“I want to be spontaneous and sexy, but I just finished reorganizing these files before I left yesterday. Do you think we could be spontaneous on the credenza instead?”

If you need cheering up, or perhaps want a light and humorous read with a touch of emotion, this book is for you. Why not take a chance on this brilliant debut novel by Katherine Stevens? The only reason this book was not a 5 star read for us was because we missed hearing Cole’s thoughts. We are huge fans of dual point of views and thought we were a little short changed or maybe just a little greedy for more Cole Danvers. Nevertheless, this is just a personal opinion and understand this may not bother other readers. Overall this is a very well-constructed and balanced read with just the right amount of comedy, silliness and of course, romance. 10 – 4. Over and out! (Pun intended).

“What on earth made you think I’d want to wear this?”
“You said you wanted to take things to the next level, so I assumed that meant role play. We crossed just about everything else off the list.”

 

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AMAZON: US | UK | CA | AU | FR | ES  

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About Katherine

When Katherine Stevens isn’t writing, she can usually be found opening juice boxes and looking for lost shoes. Her kids keep her quite busy and always zig-zagging across the line of sanity. She is a lifelong Texan with a terrible sense of direction and even worse memory. She thinks life is entirely too hard if you don’t laugh your way through it.

As a child, she dreamed of being the most sarcastic astronaut in history, but her poor math skills and aversion to dehydrated food kept her out of the space program. Now she writes to pass the time until NASA lowers their standards. Your move, NASA.

Katherine’s Social Site Links

Website | Goodreads | Facebook Profile | Facebook Page | Twitter | Instagram

 

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                                  RELEASE BLITZ                                     RAKE’S REDEMPTION by Chantal Fernando

 

RAKE’S REDEMPTION
by 
Chantal Fernando
Now Live! 

 

Title: Rake’s Redemption

Series: Wind Dragons MC, #4

Author: Chantal Fernando

Release Date: 28th June, 2016

 

 

 

 

In New York Times bestselling author Chantal Fernando’s latest novel in the Wind Dragons Motorcycle Club series, Rake—baddest of the bad boys—gets his own romance at last!

Rake is known for being up for anything, in and out of the bedroom. He’s wild, he’s deadly, yet quick with a joke or a stolen kiss. Known as the player of the WDMC, he loves women, the more the merrier. However, behind his womanizing façade, Rake hides the pain of losing his first love, Bailey. He hasn’t loved anyone since, and doesn’t think he ever will.

Seven years after their split, Rake and Bailey run into each other at the MC’s favorite club. Old wounds resurface, secrets are spilled…and passionate feelings are awakened. But they’ve each done things to hurt the other, hurt them too badly to get over it—haven’t they? Only when Bailey’s connection to Rake puts her in danger from another Club member does he realize that there’s nothing he won’t do to protect her—and claim her as his once again.


 

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Reviewed by Claire Rose on behalf of Kindle Friends Forever

Five Stars

I was over the moon when given the opportunity to review this book. This is the fourth in the series and they just get better and better.

Chantal has written a story where emotions play a big part. I found myself gripping my Kindle at some points and then the tears started to flow. As I got into this read, I had the pleasure of meeting up with great characters from previous books, and meeting a few new ones was when the laughter started. From the beginning, we see a young Rake and Bailey in love and talking about their future which intrigued me. I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen between these two and I wasn’t in the slightest bit disappointed.

Growing up, Adam aka Rake had no one except his sister and his girl. But after being broken hearted, he joined the Wind Dragons MC where he changed into our bad boy biker. He loves women; in fact, I would go as far as saying he is the worst one in the whole club. Out having fun with his buddies and sister, he finds her talking to the one woman he hates with a passion, the one he still loves with everything he has. Hmm… indeed a fine line, I thought to myself. Their eyes lock, old feelings overpower him and oh boy, did he make a good fist of telling her what she could do. It’s as if he’s haunted by her since he keeps seeing reminders at every corner. By putting two and two together, his anger is intensified by what looks like even more betrayal.

I really connected to Bailey. This young, single mom who has no other family, has a job she loves and always wanted. Out on the town, she bumps into two besties from her childhood, one being the sister of the man she loved. Seeing Rake again brings back many hurtful memories. He has no idea that Bailey is hiding something from him. Regardless of everything they’ve been through or how they feel, she had to do this to protect Rake from the truth. Finally, when I thought I couldn’t take anymore and was shouting at her to just get on with it and tell him, she does what she did literally shattering my heart. One problem; I thought things couldn’t get worse for them. How very wrong I was!

Secrets are revealed, actions and loyalties are put to the test. Will they be able to move forward? Can the past be buried and all be forgiven? You’ll have to read it to find out. I can assure you that you won’t be let down as this book has everything and more besides. Most definitely a five star read Ms Fernando and anxiously waiting for the next read.

 

 

 

 

 

 

★ ☆ ✮ ✯ ~ WIND DRAGON’S MC SERIES ~ ✯✮ ☆★

 

❥ ❥ DRAGON’S LAIR ❥ ❥

 

❥ ❥ ARROW’S HELL ❥ ❥

#OutNow

 

❥ ❥ TRACKER’S END ❥ ❥

#OutNow

 

❥ ❥ DIRTY RIDE ❥ ❥

 

❥ ❥ RAKE’S REDEMPTION ❥ ❥
#LIVE

 

❥ ❥ WILD RIDE ❥ ❥

#PreOrder #99c Releases July 11, 2016

 

❥ ❥ WOLF’S MATE ❥ ❥

#PreOrder Releases August 16, 2016

 

Chantal Fernando is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author whose novels include two books in the Maybe series—Maybe This Time and its follow up, This Time Around; and her latest releases, Toxic Girl and Saxon. When not reading, writing, or daydreaming, she can be found enjoying life with her three sons and family. She lives in Western Australia.

 

 

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