BLOG TOUR ~ FIGHTING ABSOLUTION by Kate McCarthy

She’s a combat medic. He’s SAS, and her best friend. They weren’t supposed to fall in love.

Today we are delighted to be on tour Fighting Absolution, an all-new contemporary romance stand-alone by USA Today bestselling author
Kate McCarthy

Fighting Absolution Ebook Final.jpeg

At fifteen, Jamie Murphy finds herself broken and alone, convinced she doesn’t need anyone.

Until she does.

Bear is the boy behind the fence, the one who was there for her when no one else was.

Until he’s not.

Left with nothing, Jamie joins the army hoping it will give her purpose. The last thing she expects is the best friend from her past to reappear in the dusty plains of a war-torn country. No longer the boy she once knew, Bear is now a man: big, bearded, and SAS—one of the army’s elite.

Soon Jamie finds herself not only fighting against her enemies, but her feelings for a man who left her once before. Can she risk losing him all over again?

Fighting Absolution is a friends to lovers romance and features characters from Fighting Redemption, but is written as a standalone.

IG & FB Available Now.jpg

Download your copy today or read FREE in Kindle Unlimited!

Amazon Universal | U.S | U.K

Add to Goodreads

Reviewed by Sharon Thérèse at KFF

I don’t know if this has ever happened to you after reading an epic love story, but it was a first for me. When I turned the last page of Fighting Absolution, I rushed to my PC, opened a doc and then stared at the screen gormessly. No words came, just tears. I needed to collect my thoughts before even attempting to put pen to paper, but I simply couldn’t. It took me exactly a day to read but ages to write this review. Now, this isn’t normal, Fighting Absolution isn’t your normal military romance, either. McCarthy took me on a roller-coaster ride which squeezed my heart, touched my soul and gave me a profound feeling of hope.

The character development is nothing less than spectacular. In their own way, they all have imperfections, making them so much more relatable. The storyline is dramatic without being overdone, the pace is fast, keeping me on the edge from the beginning to the end. It’s a real-life warzone. It’s battling with emotions so deep, those affected can’t see what’s in front of their very own eyes. The details of the surroundings at home and away, the camaraderie shared hardships to heartfelt friendship, trust and love are carefully thought-out. Nothing is left out, nothing is exaggerated.

“Isn’t that why any of us join the damn army in the first place? We’re hoping it’s going to perform some kind of miracle and piece us back together.”

Young Jamie Murphy is in need of a friend and she finds one on the other side of a fence, but they never cross the panels. Not one to tell all, she gradually opens up to Bear. But who is he? Why does he hold back on her? You’ll see although one thing’s for sure, she’s his Little Warrior.

“There’s the little warrior I know. I would laugh if we both weren’t hurting so much.”

What he sees in her is strength; a strength he encourages and oh boy, she’s going to need every ounce of it. I really and truly liked Jamie. So unpretentious, her beauty doesn’t even register with her. When she’s on form, you’ll love her dry wit and through it all, she still managed to make me smile.

‘Careful. You cracked a joke. Isn’t that your quota for the year?’

The worse happens, he’s gone, she can’t find him. Wow, to say she was peeved would be putting it mildly. Hmm…so it’s his bad luck, life goes on and she has a plan. A plan which not only turns out better than she could ever have imagined, but in its way, also reflects on future happenings which for this reader, caused utter despair.

‘Maybe that’s what life is all about. Snatching moments like this. Ones that get you through when you have nothing else.’

As fate would have it, the same war-torn road they’d chosen to go down brings Bear and Jamie together. Their friendship rekindles, he becomes her rock and to be perfectly honest, I still don’t know if I cried more for him or Jamie whilst learning how they coped with loss. But there are happy times which melted my heart. Their leg-pulling and comebacks; a welcome reprieve, had me grinning from ear to ear. How Jamie and Bear’s story evolves brought out more crushing feels if that were ever possible. And in all fairness and as much as I would like to tell you the outcome of their journey, I can’t. What I can say is this book will captivate you and be warned, having a man-sized hanky at hand is a must.

“There’s no such thing as stupid when it comes to grief. We all deal with it in our own way.”

I would love to have two besties with such wisdom in my life as does Jamie. Wood with his clumsiness, affection and encouragement. Erin who with no holds barred, makes her stubborn friend see things for what they are. And Bear’s mate Ryan, still hurting inside, is there when most needed. Meeting Fin through Jamie’s eyes left a lump in my throat but hey, this tight-knit group became my people.

“You can’t lose the memories inside your heart.”

The dual narrative written in the present is particularly important as it gave me the two sides to the story and although the protagonists’ inner thoughts were at times contrasting, both of them express how they feel perfectly. Fighting Absolution is without a doubt, one of the best love stories I have read this year. Bravo, McCarthy!

Release Blitz Teaser.jpg

EXCERPT

© 2019 Kate McCarthy
All rights reserved.

 
After an early night, I wake in the morning with my body sagging into the ground. “What the hell?”I roll and flail, my air mattress squeaking like a little bitch.Bear laughs and I turn. He’s watching me, thoroughly amused. “I’m not here for your entertainment,” I hiss, my back aching from an uncomfortable sleep.

“Someone needs her coffee.”

“Did you poke a hole in my mattress?”

“No, but there’s something poking a hole in my—”

“For the love of god!” I rise up, the knife from beneath my pillow in hand. “I’m gonna stab yours just for that.”

“No!” He laughs, half-rising from his own bed, warding me off with his massive paws. “That damn thing is probably why you woke up on the ground.”

I lunge across the tent, my knife jabbing straight into his inflatable mattress. It tears a long, deep gash in the corner. Air hisses out in a wheezy rush. “What in the actual fuck?” he shouts, falling back with a stunned laugh. “You’re such a bitch!”

The knife drops from my hand, and I double over, gasping with laughter while the airbed deflates around him, sinking him slowly to the ground.

“Now neither of us have a bed!”

“Oh well.” I tuck my knife away. “We can start on those bottles of red tonight until we can’t feel a damn thing, and then it won’t matter.”

I unzip the tent and step out, my jaw cracking from a yawn that stretches my face. “Bring me coffee!” he orders from inside the tent.

I turn my head, sneaking a glance his way. He’s standing over his duffel bag, clad in nothing but a tight pair of bright blue cotton boxer-briefs. It’s almost a physical punch. I linger a moment before I look away, back to the ocean, trying to dispel the image, but my mind won’t let it go. The wide, muscled shoulders, his tattooed arms, the thick washboard abs, his body scarred from combat and a lifetime of hard and heavy training.

I shiver with a sense of longing and have to remind myself that it’s just Bear as I start on the coffee. The same Bear who laughed his ass off when I tripped on the edge of the jetty in Broome and fell in the water. The one who snores like a freight train after one too many beers. The one slowly turning into a mountain man because he hasn’t shaved since we left. The very same Bear who tips his head back each night in his camp chair and makes me scratch his head with my nails while he sits there and whimpers like a little girl.


Meet Kate

Kate McCarthy is a USA Today Bestselling author who resides in Brisbane, Australia, a city in the state of Queensland where she works full time on her writing.

She has two children, two dogs, and a pile of friends and family dotted all over the world that help keep her sane.

When she’s not busy running after naughty kids, filthy dogs, and writing books, you can find her

curled up in bed in the early hours of the morning reading new books and re-reading old favourites.


Connect with Kate:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagam

 

Advertisements

REVIEW ALERT ~ A LIE FOR A LIE by Helena Hunting

Today we are thrilled to be sharing our 5-Star review for New York Times bestselling author Helena Hunting’s all-new romantic comedy about instant attraction, second chances and not-so-little white lies,
LIE FOR A LIE

Coming October 15th, pre-order links are available now!

Hunting-A Lie for a Lie-28155-CV-FT.jpg

Hunting-A Lie for a Lie-28155-CV-FT.jpgSometimes I need an escape from the demands, the puck bunnies, and the notoriety that come with being an NHL team captain. I just want to be a normal guy for a few weeks. So when I leave Chicago for some peace and quiet, the last thing I expect is for a gorgeous woman to literally fall into my lap on a flight to Alaska. Even better, she has absolutely no idea who I am.

Sometimes I need an escape from the demands, the puck bunnies, and the notoriety that come with being an NHL team captain. I just want to be a normal guy for a few weeks. So when I leave Chicago for some peace and quiet, the last thing I expect is for a gorgeous woman to literally fall into my lap on a flight to Alaska. Even better, she has absolutely no idea who I am.

Lainey is the perfect escape from my life. My plan for seclusion becomes a monthlong sex fest punctuated with domestic bliss. But it ends just as abruptly as it began. When I’m called away on a family emergency, I realize too late that I have no way to contact Lainey.

A year later, a chance encounter throws Lainey and me together again. But I still have a lie hanging over my head, and Lainey’s keeping secrets of her own. With more than lust at stake, the truth may be our game changer.

A LIE FOR A LIE FB.jpg

Pre-order your copy today!

Amazon Universal | Paperback | Audio CD

Add to GoodReads

Reviewed by Sharon Thérèse at KFF

Wow, this book titillates the reader in all the right places! I tried putting Hunting’s latest offering down at daft o’clock but to no avail ‘cause it’s far, far too addictive. And although it’s a romantic comedy, the author’s take on a delicate subject gave the story such a sensitive touch it got me sniffling into my pillow more than once. Hunting’s gone back to ice hockey with this stand-alone spinoff from the highly popular Pucked Series which also happens to be a sport I adore. A Lie for a Lie is a marvellous read in the respect that most of the characters are lovely, relatable and makes you want to be with them.

“Thank you for being my personal support person and human teddy bear.”

Chapter one and we’re in the now, RJ crossing paths with the gorgeous and timid Lainey. He picks up on her intense discomfort, calms her down and is so understanding, my heart melted. Ahh, but not being entirely frank with her could just come back and bite him where it hurts the most. Hmm…where could that be you may ask! I loved the way Hunting set the foundation of the plot so quickly, had me on edge and provoked all the feels at a page-turning pace.

‘There were a lot of women in a very short span of time. Sometimes more than one at a time. It was bad. I’m not proud.’

Well-known as a lady’s man, RJ’s got it all. NHL team captain, his drop-dead gorgeous looks attract the puck bunnies like bees to a honeypot. Not happy with the way he’s been running his personal life, he wants to escape their advances and be that normal kinda guy for a while. I really and truly liked RJ. Obviously well off, he never flaunts it. His teammates respect him, he gets on with their women, loves their kids and has a fabulous rapport with his siblings. In fact, I couldn’t find fault with him yet when he doesn’t come clean with Lainey, I could have strangled him.

“…And even if she’s willing to talk to me, once she realizes what else I left out she’ll probably never want to speak to me again.”

Lainey won be over at the drop of a hat. Her contrasting traits which funnily enough don’t clash, are so well-described that I ended up rooting for her throughout the read. To begin with, she comes across as quite nerdy. Her love of marine life is the reason she’s taken a trip to Alaska but she never expected her time there would evolve as it did. Everything goes wrong only to be righted. However, what would happen leaves confusion in its wake. Even though she’s shy, she’d learnt to trust RJ and thought he had the same feelings for her as she had for him. Indeed, Hunting gave the story a powerful edge with all the goings-on and in the process, my attention didn’t waver for a minute.

“My respect for you just went up a few notches. I had no idea you were into the nerdy chicks.”
“She’s not nerdy,”

Although the book isn’t split into two parts, there’s definitely a before and after-feel about it. The after hit me just as strongly since everything comes pouring out. And believe you me, I wasn’t the only person who was left stunned, shocked, even dazzled! I can’t say anything regarding the outcome of them finding each other again but wow, Hunting most certainly nipped it in the bud with her brilliant story-telling.
Despite the team camaraderie and family ambience bowling me over, I had very mixed feelings for Lainley’s parents and saluted her when she stood up for herself. The title also gave me food for thought and I’d love you to decide for yourselves if not being honest can be considered a lie. In this case, distorting the truth and letting it slide was a lot easier than finding that perfect moment to confess. Of course, the big question here is will they forgive each other. I can’t tell you how much I loved RJ and Lainey’s story overflowing with tenderness, surprises and plenty of smiles. Bravo Hunting!


Meet Helena
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy.

Follow Helena
Author Website | Facebook | Facebook Fan Group
Twitter @HelenaHunting
Instagram – @HelenaHunting

Never miss an update! Subscribe to Helena’s mailing list

YOU CAN HAVE MANHATTAN by P. Dangelico is LIVE!

YCHM - RB banner.jpg

You are cordially invited to the worst wedding of the century.

Today we are thrilled to be sharing P. Dangelico’s all-new contemporary romance stand-alone, You Can Have Manhattan

Cover You can Have Manhattan.jpg

Sydney

I’m no stranger to hard work. It’s the one constant in my life. And with no family or friends to speak of, it’s been easy to pour all my time and everything I’ve got into my career as general counsel for Blackstone Holdings.

And, hey, I’m not complaining. I mean, life is good…sort of…mostly. It was perfectly fine until my boss offered me a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. One I’d be crazy to pass up. All I have to do in return is marry his good-for-nothing son. I can do this. I can handle it…I think.

* * *

Scott

I’ve had my fair share of fun. Some would even say I used to be somewhat of a party whore. Pardon, party animal. I haven’t been that guy in a long time, though. Not since I moved to Wyoming, bought a failing cattle ranch, and turned it into a profitable business.

Life isn’t just good––life is great. Until a phone call from my father threatens the quiet, simple life I’ve built. Marry or lose everything. And to a woman who can’t stand me, no less. Well, I’m not going down without a fight. I’m never going back to Manhattan. Not if I can help it.

FB AN.jpg

Download your copy today!

Pre-order your copy today!

Amazon Universal | Apple Books | Nook | Kobo

Add to Goodreads

Release Blitz.jpg

Reviewed by Sharon Thérèse at KFF

The title for P. Dangelico’s brand new enemies-to-lovers romance didn’t quite make sense until the fourth chapter in this stand-alone. When it was mentioned the first time, it fit snuggly into place. You can have Manhattan was later spoken by the person I least expected and not with hearty enthusiasm. We all know the proverbial saying, ‘leopards never change their spots’…well, in this case, the author has got home to her readers that you can turn your life around and become a better person.

I found the story a tad slow to start off with but then it dawned on me why the author had set the pace she had. A solid foundation was necessary to understand the ins and outs of her protagonists’ unhappy pasts so when it did pick up, I found the book difficult to put down. In fact, I couldn’t turn the pages of the last few chapters fast enough. Danglelico gives her readers a rough ride and I loved it!

I really liked Scott Blackstone; nonetheless, he hadn’t left a good impression on Sidney Evans years back and now she’s in his terrain under the most peculiar of circumstances. To say she’s confused by his persona would be putting it mildly. And not does he feel she’s invading his space but surprise, the woman he thought he knew had long gone!

Sydney is my kinda a women, hard-working and ambitious, she’s got the chance to become CEO of the law firm where she’d dedicated her working life. But there’s competition and strings attached, and saying no doesn’t come into the equation for reasons to be divulged.

The question in Scott and Sidney’s story is if a truth held back becomes a lie. Just when they seemed to be on the same wavelength, everything comes crashing down, and it was no fault of their own. Scott can’t see further than his nose and is dreadfully cruel to Sidney. She; however, showed me her elegance in a situation I never thought she’d be put in.

Dangelico’s offering is original, relatable, even understandable. When I finished the book, I had a strong feeling her protagonists were manipulated, which makes their story so much more interesting. I loved the ribbing between them, the banter flows freely and I have to admit that some touching moments had me in tears. Not forgetting the abounding steaminess that’ll most likely fog up your glasses or your Kindle screen!

The secondary character development is spot on and keeping my fingers crossed that one of them will get their story. Lots of smiles and sighs of relief when everything panned out just how I wanted it to and my recommendation. If I were you, I’d jump in headfirst without reading the blurb as you’ll be in for more than one surprise. Bravo Dangelico!

Meet P. Dangelico

Dangelico loves romance in all forms, cuddly creatures (four-legged and two), really bloody sexy pulp, the NY Jets (although she’s reconsidering after this season), and to while away the day at the barn (apparently she does her best thinking shoveling horse crap). What she’s not enamored with is referring to herself in the third person and social media so don’t expect her to get on Twitter anytime soon. Oh, and although she was born in Italy, she’s been Jersey Strong since she turned six.

Connect with P. Dangelico

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub

Stay up to date with all things P. Dangelico

YouCanHaveManhattan_Paperback.v15 copy.jpg

BLOG TOUR ~ YOU CAN HAVE MANHATTAN by P. Danglico

Today we are thrilled to be on tour with P. Dangelico’s all-new contemporary romance, YOU CAN HAVE MANHATTAN

YouCanHaveManhattan_Ebooks_Amazon copy.jpg


YouCanHaveManhattan_Ebooks_Amazon copy.jpgSydney Evans is no stranger to hard work. It’s the one constant in her life. And with no family or friends to speak of it’s been easy to pour everything she has into her career as general counsel for Blackstone Holdings.

She wants for nothing. Until her boss offers her a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. All she has to do in return is marry his good-for-nothing son.

Scott Blackstone used be a party whore. Pardon, party animal. He hasn’t been that guy in a long time though. Not since he moved to Wyoming, bought a failing cattle ranch, and turned it into a profitable business.

All is good. Until a phone call from his father threatens the quiet, simple life Scott’s built. Marry or lose everything. And to a woman who can’t stand him, no less. Well, Scott is not going down without a fight. He’s never going back to Manhattan. Not if he can help it.

Download your copy today!

Amazon Universal | Apple Books | Nook | Kobo

Add to Goodreads

Reviewed by Sharon Thérèse at KFF

The title for P. Dangelico’s brand new enemies-to-lovers romance didn’t quite make sense until the fourth chapter in this stand-alone. When it was mentioned the first time, it fit snuggly into place. You can have Manhattan was later spoken by the person I least expected and not with hearty enthusiasm. We all know the proverbial saying, ‘leopards never change their spots’…well, in this case, the author has got home to her readers that you can turn your life around and become a better person.

I found the story a tad slow to start off with but then it dawned on me why the author had set the pace she had. A solid foundation was necessary to understand the ins and outs of her protagonists’ unhappy pasts so when it did pick up, I found the book difficult to put down. In fact, I couldn’t turn the pages of the last few chapters fast enough. Danglelico gives her readers a rough ride and I loved it!

I really liked Scott Blackstone; nonetheless, he hadn’t left a good impression on Sidney Evans years back and now she’s in his terrain under the most peculiar of circumstances. To say she’s confused by his persona would be putting it mildly. And not does he feel she’s invading his space but surprise, the woman he thought he knew had long gone!

Sydney is my kinda a women, hard-working and ambitious, she’s got the chance to become CEO of the law firm where she’d dedicated her working life. But there’s competition and strings attached, and saying no doesn’t come into the equation for reasons to be divulged.

The question in Scott and Sidney’s story is if a truth held back becomes a lie. Just when they seemed to be on the same wavelength, everything comes crashing down, and it was no fault of their own. Scott can’t see further than his nose and is dreadfully cruel to Sidney. She; however, showed me her elegance in a situation I never thought she’d be put in.

Dangelico’s offering is original, relatable, even understandable. When I finished the book, I had a strong feeling her protagonists were manipulated, which makes their story so much more interesting. I loved the ribbing between them, the banter flows freely and I have to admit that some touching moments had me in tears. Not forgetting the abounding steaminess that’ll most likely fog up your glasses or your Kindle screen!

The secondary character development is spot on and keeping my fingers crossed that one of them will get their story. Lots of smiles and sighs of relief when everything panned out just how I wanted it to and my recommendation. If I were you, I’d jump in headfirst without reading the blurb as you’ll be in for more than one surprise. Bravo Dangelico!

EXCERPT

© 2019 P. Dangelico
All rights reserved.

“Just stand still for five more minutes…” Romeo scooted away and started running in circles around me, his entire massive Wolfhound body covered in shampoo. It was high time these two got a bath and the weather was finally cooperating. I’d found a spray nozzle out back and went to work. “Romeo! Get over here! Stop it.” The more I chased, the faster he ran, tongue hanging to out, tearing up the lawn because this was the best game ever! Then Juliet got in the mix, barking loudly, and it all went to hell. Romeo suddenly hit the brakes and shook, sending suds flying everywhere––and me screaming when some hit me in the face.“What’s going on here?” an amused man inquired. Behind me, Scott was grinning. Taking off his ball cap, he adjusted his hair and slammed it back on.

“They smell like cow shit is what’s going on,” was the obvious reply. 

I wiped my brow with the back of my wrist and watched Scott’s gaze track up and down my body, taking his time to thoroughly evaluate my wet t-shirt covered in dying suds, my hair falling into my face, and my bare legs shoved into my Hunter boots. He was so distracted that he missed Romeo coming at him like a heat-seeking missile. Before he knew what hit him, Scott was on his back, lying spread eagle on the ground.

Oh sweet, sweet vengeance. I still missed my orange ASICS.

I doubled over in laughter while he blinked, trying to ascertain what the heck had just happened to him. Stepping over him with my legs straddling his body, I bent to get a better look and tipped his ball cap off his head. “You okay there, Sweet Nuts?”

Next thing I know, I’m lying on top of him. Eyes hooded and aimed at my mouth, he murmured, “Better now, Sunshine.”

We kissed and touched and got covered in mud. He stood, and with pure muscular power, took me with him. We peeled clothed off even though it was only March and still a little nippy out. Grabbing the spray nozzle, he hit me in the chest with the cold water. The look of pure shock on my face…

“Oh, you’re gonna get it now.” 

He chuckled darkly. “And I’ll happily take it. This is better than a Girls Gone Wild video.”

I snatched the hose out of his hands and aimed for the jewels, but he turned in time to save “future generations of Blackstones.” His exact words. I was also labeled a “genocidal maniac,” for my actions. Which was a bit extreme, if you ask me.

After we’d rinsed the mud off, he wrapped his warmth around me, chased away the chill, and kissed me as he backed me up to the side of the house. His restless hands moving over me possessively, with the authority and conviction of a man who knew all my secrets and still wanted me.

 

Meet P. Dangelico

Dangelico loves romance in all forms, cuddly creatures (four-legged and two), really bloody sexy pulp, the NY Jets (although she’s reconsidering after this season), and to while away the day at the barn (apparently she does her best thinking shoveling horse crap). What she’s not enamored with is referring to herself in the third person and social media so don’t expect her to get on Twitter anytime soon. Oh, and although she was born in Italy, she’s been Jersey Strong since she turned six.

Connect with P. Dangelico

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub

Stay up to date with all things P. Dangelico

 

YouCanHaveManhattan_Paperback.v15 copy.jpg

5-STAR REVIEW ALERT ~ GYM OR CHOCOLATE by Stuart Reardon & Jane Harvey-Berrick

Gym or Chocolate? A feel-good romantic comedy from the authors of Undefeated and Model Boyfriend, Stuart Reardon & Jane Harvey-Berrick,
is releasing 13th September, and today we’re delighted to be
sharing our 5-Star Review with you!

#gymorchocolate

Now available for pre-order, Gym or Chocolate will be in  KindleUnlimited

Career girl and radio host hotshot Cady Callahan has never met a chocolate she didn’t love. She has curves and doesn’t care.

She’s shocked when a raffle ticket bought to support a veterans charity means she’s won a year’s membership to Body Tech, an exclusive Manhattan gym, where all the top athletes train and all the A-list actors go to get in shape for their action roles. She’s also won a personal trainer in the shape of far too tantalizing Rick Roberts.

Rick is less impressed when Cady’s arrival leads to a media circus. The retired British rugby ace runs a serious training facility, and he definitely doesn’t have time for anyone who doesn’t want to work hard.

When curvy Cady challenges him to train her to run a marathon by the end of the year, it seems a solution to both their problems. If … when she drops out of training, his gym will go back to normal.

But Cady isn’t planning on losing the bet—she just wasn’t counting on any complications. And surly Rick is very complicated. And as tempting as the tastiest treat.

Pre-order your copy of Gym or Chocolate? or read in KindleUnlimited in release day, 13th September!

Amazon: Universal | U.SU.K

Amazon Paperback: U.S | U.K | CAN | AUS

Add to Goodreads

Reviewed by Sharon Thérèse at KFF

Writing duo, Reardon and Harvey-Berrick have pulled out the stops and delivered a gem of a rom-com which had me in stitches and got me hooked from the first chapter. So, Gym or Chocolate? It’s the perfect title but in reality, not an easy choice to make if you’re lacking in willpower like me. I have to confess that as I read on, Cady Callahan with her extra pounds and sassy comebacks quickly became my kinda woman. And Rick Roberts, gym entrepreneur, trainer and owner of an elite fitness club certainly gave me food for thought. No pun intended, but who hasn’t had a sugar craving at one time or another and not felt guilty? There’s so much more to this delicious story than just getting hot and bothered and sweaty in the gym though.

“Baby steps, Rick. Baby steps— that’s what you told me and I’m sticking to it.” 

Rick encourages us to take a look at our daily habits and what we’re doing wrong. He explains why we should look after ourselves and regardless of whatever handicap we may have, staying fit enhances our lifestyle and eating healthy food matters. Well, he got the latter part right ‘cause that’s something I make sure I do. However, this grouchy guy wiggled his way into my heart at the same pace as the book. Fast! I felt sorry for him on different levels. Firstly, he’s trying his utmost to keep his top-notch clientele satisfied, not doing what he really loves as an injury put a stop to his sports career and then Cady struts into personal space as big as life. She’s not what he bargained for, but seeing as she’d won the prize of a year’s membership to get her body in shape at Body Tech, he has little alternative but to get on with the job. The other reasons Rick saddened me I’d rather not mention but I’ll just say that his sensitivity melted my heart.

“And what is it with you and donuts? That is not the right thing to eat before a run. It’s probably the worst breakfast you could have!”

“Oh don’t worry, I ate a bar of chocolate earlier. I’m good.”

Cady frustrates the pants off Rick, and even though he won’t admit it, she’s a pleasant surprise and manages to make him smile. How could she not? She’s hilarious, adorable, generous of heart and spirit, and the fact that she showed me how headstrong she is when her downfall is lemon sugar-coated doughnuts, made me realise that anyone can make the best of a bad situation if they want to. I really liked how she took the bull by the horns and not just with her own hang-ups. Not one to hold her tongue, she prods Rick into confronting his issues head-on. Ooh, and he blushes, ladies! Rick is a tad naïve as far as the opposite sex is concerned and Cady being Cady either pulls his leg about it or tries to guide him in the right direction. I tell you, she’s the total package!

“… Sometimes he swaps his glare for a scowl. And then he frowns. I’m not sure if that means he’s moody or whether I irritate him,” 

Rick and Cady are like chalk and cheese. She’s outgoing and boisterous, he’s out of his element when not training. Understandably, his words don’t flow nearly as easily as hers, so what do they have in common? Both of them are honest, hard-working and kind-hearted folk who gradually gain each other’s respect and build a special friendship. Innuendos intermingled with off the charts banter, chemistry that simmers until it reaches boiling point and a feel-good storyline result is the perfect end of summertime read. I adored how Rick was there for Cady when the going gets tough; yep, he’s a true Yorkshire gentleman I literally swooned over!

“Are you going to get yourself a sports bra now?”She glanced sideways and grinned at me. “No way! I’m having far too much fun watching your face—it takes my mind off what we’re actually doing.” 

Of course, every good story needs a baddie or two and in that respect, the authors gave me a couple I’d have gladly strangled with my bare hands. The majority of the secondary characters are totally likeable. Rick’s best mate, Vin, had me in fits, swears like a trooper and dishes out dodgy advice like hotcakes and Grace, Cady’s bestie is lovely.

‘Was that an ab under the flab? I fingered my stomach tentatively. Could a person have just one ab? Didn’t they usually come in pairs, like a salt and pepper set?’ 

Written from a dual perspective in past is my fave narrative technique. You get to hear both sides of the story and listening to both Rick and Cady’s inner thoughts was a privilege. Gym or Chocolate? is a must-one-click I can’t recommend enough. Bravo Reardon and Harvey-Berrick!

EXCERPT

© 2019 Stuart Reardon and Jane Harvey-Berrick
All rights reserved.

Rick

I was supposed to be keeping Cady at arms’ length because she was a client … and then I’d begged her to come to dinner with me. Vin was going to be on a date with the woman he’d picked up on Tinder but had never met. I loved the guy, but he could be such a knob.

My stomach tightened—it would definitely like a double-date. I groaned. This evening had disaster written all over it.

Vin wandered out of the bathroom, naked as jaybird, his todger swinging in the breeze. It reminded me of locker rooms at the rugby clubs I’d played for so it didn’t bother me, but I was glad I didn’t have company. He scratched his manscaped balls then pointed at some plastic covered clothes hangers resting on the sofa.

“Called in some favors, mate. A designer friend of mine sent them over. I can’t have you making me look bad—I have my Instagram profile to think about.”

Then he caught sight of himself in my mirror, gave a cheesy grin and slapped his own arse.

“Lucky, lucky ladies,” he smirked as he sauntered back into the bathroom.

Shaking my head, I studied the clothes dubiously, but was surprised to find a tailored pair of charcoal slacks and crisp white shirt that would fit over my shoulders and biceps without billowing out around my waist. I had to hand it to Vin—the guy knew clothes.

My eyebrows rose as I noticed the clothing labels—Armani. Blimey!

I showered and trimmed my beard, tied my hair back and gelled the curls and wayward strands into submission, then dressing quickly. Vin had even been in my closet and pulled out the jacket and shoes he wanted me to wear. He’d let me choose my own boxer briefs. Thank God.

Vin was a couple of inches taller than me and a handsome bastard, so I have to admit that we attracted more than our share of attention as we waited for our ride to negotiate the evening traffic and make a U-turn outside Body Tech to pick us up. I’d hired a town car for the evening as we were going to need the extra room.

Vin loved it and sent a few exploratory winks to a group of women before the car pulled up to the curb. I gave the driver Cady’s address and leaned back in my seat as Vin posed for selfies, quickly posting them to his IG account.

“Your girl live alone?” Vin asked.

“She’s not my girl, she’s my client,” I reminded him irritably.

Vin just smirked. He was a hard guy to annoy, unfortunately.

“You’re taking her out for dinner, you’ve told me hands off, so tonight, she’s your girl, right?”

“Yeah, whatever,” I said grudgingly

“So, does she live alone or has she got a hot roommate?”

“Bloody hell, Vin, you’ve already got a date for tonight!”

“Yeah, but I’m free tomorrow night. Doesn’t hurt to have a spare.”

Stuart and Jane’s Fitness Journeys

MORE ABOUT STUART

I’ve had four major surgeries as a result of my rugby career—three operations to repair torn Achilles tendons, and a torn rotor cuff in my shoulder that ultimately ended my professional rugby career.

Coming back from injury and surgery is a long, slow process. Keeping a level of fitness during recovery isn’t easy, and rehab after is tough. So for me, exercise and working out at the gym is more than just getting fit, it’s a way of life.

And then there’s the completely different issue of getting lean for a photoshoot like for this cover—especially when your co-author is a bad influence and travels everywhere with chocolate. I really enjoy a good quality dark chocolate, and yep, I had to cut that out to drop a few pounds for the cover shoot. Feel my pain?!

Connect with Stuart

Website | Facebook | YouTube | Instagram | Twitter

Stay up to date with Stuart and sign up for his newsletter

 

MORE ABOUT JHB

For years (decades), I told myself that I didn’t like gyms and even though I joined several with the best intentions, I stayed away. I lived in London and walked four miles a day to and from Tube stations, so that seemed like enough. I often had an aching back and shoulders, and sometimes sciatic pain, too. I put it down to having a desk job, even though I was only in my twenties.

When I moved from London to live by the ocean, I began a love affair with swimming—and there’s nothing like swimming in a cold ocean! I walked my little dog every day and felt better, but with turning to writing full-time, there were still a lot of hours spent at a desk.

Then I got really sick. The death of my father was a stressful time, as you can imagine, but it became worse when it triggered Rheumatoid Arthritis in me. Suddenly, I was using walking sticks to get around, sometimes a wheelchair, and often crippled with pain. All the usual drugs helped, and I began to regain mobility slowly. But the turning point for me was joining a gym, and realising what I’d been missing out on all these years.

Nothing happens overnight, and it was a process of simply keeping going two to three times a week to feel the benefits—and I did. I was happy, my family was happy, even my doctor was happy.

Exercise doesn’t cure RA, but it certainly helps.

Connect with Jane

Website | Facebook | Facebook Readers Group | Instagram | Twitter

Pinterest | YouTube | Goodreads | BookBub | Amazon U.K | Amazon U.S

Stay up to date with Jane and sign up for her newsletter

 

GYM OR CHOCOLATE? by Stuart Reardon & Jane Harvey-Berrick is LIVE!

Gym or Chocolate? A feel-good romantic comedy from the authors of Undefeated and Model Boyfriend, Stuart Reardon & Jane Harvey-Berrick,
is available now!

Check out not one, but two 5-reviews of #gymorchocolate?

Available in KindleUnlimited

Career girl and radio host hotshot Cady Callahan has never met a chocolate she didn’t love. She has curves and doesn’t care.

She’s shocked when a raffle ticket bought to support a veterans charity means she’s won a year’s membership to Body Tech, an exclusive Manhattan gym, where all the top athletes train and all the A-list actors go to get in shape for their action roles. She’s also won a personal trainer in the shape of far too tantalizing Rick Roberts.

Rick is less impressed when Cady’s arrival leads to a media circus. The retired British rugby ace runs a serious training facility, and he definitely doesn’t have time for anyone who doesn’t want to work hard.

When curvy Cady challenges him to train her to run a marathon by the end of the year, it seems a solution to both their problems. If … when she drops out of training, his gym will go back to normal.

But Cady isn’t planning on losing the bet—she just wasn’t counting on any complications. And surly Rick is very complicated. And as tempting as the tastiest treat.

Download your copy of Gym or Chocolate? or read in in KindleUnlimited

Amazon: Universal | U.S | U.K

Add to Goodreads

Reviewed by Anna on behalf of KFF

 
We are in for another treat from this fabulous duo Jane and Stuart. This book is not their usual genre sports romance but is a little bit more of a rom-com.Cady Callahan, a famous radio host in New York City is not your average woman. She is a powerhouse in every aspect, a plus-size not only in the wardrobe department but also in personality. She grew up with issues regarding her weight, but she has learned to appreciate her worth and owns it. What I like about her is her bubbly personality, self-deprecating humour and can give as good as she gets, no holds barred for this lady. I would love for her to be my best friend if only she were real. When faced with a challenge it didn’t take her long to consider it and she grabbed it with both hands. What a character!

Rick Roberts is a Brit in US soil, personal fitness trainer to the stars and a former sportsman with a short-lived career who was bamboozled into taking on Cady as a client. He wasn’t prepared to deal with a larger than life persona like her.

This might look like a light-hearted tale at first but there is a powerful message within the story. The character that stands out the most in this book is Cady who is such an inspiration. She dealt with bullying and fat-shaming, she soared high above the antagonists and let them eat her doughnut dust. This is a slow-burn romance with only one smorgasbord of a sex scene that will make you hot and bothered but dang, it is all worth it, less is more they say. Rick’s character grows on you after the first quarter of the book and he becomes more than just a sex god, you also get to know his integrity and his dedication.

The secondary characters: Vin, Rick’s best friend who is a top male model and Cady’s best friend Grace, a solicitor make an interesting pair and I bet these two would make a hilarious partnership. I hope they get to have their story, too. Cady and Rick’s romance will make you laugh and cry happy tears; they will make you feel like you can take on the world and sign on to a gym membership. I highly recommend this book.
 


Reviewed by Sharon Thérèse at KFF

 
Writing duo, Reardon and Harvey-Berrick have pulled out the stops and delivered a gem of a rom-com which had me in stitches and got me hooked from the first chapter. So, Gym or Chocolate? It’s the perfect title but in reality, not an easy choice to make if you’re lacking in willpower like me. I have to confess that as I read on, Cady Callahan with her extra pounds and sassy comebacks quickly became my kinda woman. And Rick Roberts, gym entrepreneur, trainer and owner of an elite fitness club certainly gave me food for thought. No pun intended, but who hasn’t had a sugar craving at one time or another and not felt guilty? There’s so much more to this delicious story than just getting hot and bothered and sweaty in the gym though.

“Baby steps, Rick. Baby steps— that’s what you told me and I’m sticking to it.”

Rick encourages us to take a look at our daily habits and what we’re doing wrong. He explains why we should look after ourselves and regardless of whatever handicap we may have, staying fit enhances our lifestyle and eating healthy food matters. Well, he got the latter part right ‘cause that’s something I make sure I do. However, this grouchy guy wiggled his way into my heart at the same pace as the book. Fast! I felt sorry for him on different levels. Firstly, he’s trying his utmost to keep his top-notch clientele satisfied, not doing what he really loves as an injury put a stop to his sports career and then Cady struts into personal space as big as life. She’s not what he bargained for, but seeing as she’d won the prize of a year’s membership to get her body in shape at Body Tech, he has little alternative but to get on with the job. The other reasons Rick saddened me I’d rather not mention but I’ll just say that his sensitivity melted my heart.

“And what is it with you and donuts? That is not the right thing to eat before a run. It’s probably the worst breakfast you could have!”

“Oh don’t worry, I ate a bar of chocolate earlier. I’m good.”

Cady frustrates the pants off Rick, and even though he won’t admit it, she’s a pleasant surprise and manages to make him smile. How could she not? She’s hilarious, adorable, generous of heart and spirit, and the fact that she showed me how headstrong she is when her downfall is lemon sugar-coated doughnuts, made me realise that anyone can make the best of a bad situation if they want to. I really liked how she took the bull by the horns and not just with her own hang-ups. Not one to hold her tongue, she prods Rick into confronting his issues head-on. Ooh, and he blushes, ladies! Rick is a tad naïve as far as the opposite sex is concerned and Cady being Cady either pulls his leg about it or tries to guide him in the right direction. I tell you, she’s the total package!

“… Sometimes he swaps his glare for a scowl. And then he frowns. I’m not sure if that means he’s moody or whether I irritate him,”

Rick and Cady are like chalk and cheese. She’s outgoing and boisterous, he’s out of his element when not training. Understandably, his words don’t flow nearly as easily as hers, so what do they have in common? Both of them are honest, hard-working and kind-hearted folk who gradually gain each other’s respect and build a special friendship. Innuendos intermingled with off the charts banter, chemistry that simmers until it reaches boiling point and a feel-good storyline result is the perfect end of summertime read. I adored how Rick was there for Cady when the going gets tough; yep, he’s a true Yorkshire gentleman I literally swooned over!

“Are you going to get yourself a sports bra now?”She glanced sideways and grinned at me. “No way! I’m having far too much fun watching your face—it takes my mind off what we’re actually doing.”

Of course, every good story needs a baddie or two and in that respect, the authors gave me a couple I’d have gladly strangled with my bare hands. The majority of the secondary characters are totally likeable. Rick’s best mate, Vin, had me in fits, swears like a trooper and dishes out dodgy advice like hotcakes and Grace, Cady’s bestie is lovely.

‘Was that an ab under the flab? I fingered my stomach tentatively. Could a person have just one ab? Didn’t they usually come in pairs, like a salt and pepper set?’

Written from a dual perspective in past is my fave narrative technique. You get to hear both sides of the story and listening to both Rick and Cady’s inner thoughts was a privilege. Gym or Chocolate is a must-one-click I can’t recommend enough. Bravo Reardon and Harvey-Berrick!
 


READ CHAPTER ONE

© 2019 Stuart Reardon and Jane Harvey-Berrick
All rights reserved.

Cady

“Always a pleasure, New York! Live long and prosper! This is Cady Callahan, the Face of Radio, saying ciao for now from Morning Munchies at XKL Radio.”

Pow!

I flicked the switch and the little red light stopped blinking at me, which meant I was officially off the air, another successful live radio broadcast under my belt.

“Great show, Cady,” said Oliver, my producer, giving me two thumbs up.

Leaning back in my roller chair, I gave him a tired wave, then lifted off my headhones, yawning. I rubbed my eyes while I fumbled for my coffee cup, my fourth latte of the morning. Ugh. Cold. Oh well, caffeine was caffeine, so I slurped it down. At least my last remaining donut was still fresh. I inhaled the rest of it, licking my fingers clean of the crumbs and lemon-glazed sugar—the best part, in my humble opinion.

I was lying.

I was never humble.

I was a kickass woman, holding her own in the male-dominated world of morning radio and my listener figures were constantly climbing. Yah-boo to all the asswads who said I’d never make it.

I rubbed my eyes again, yawning so widely I was in danger of dislocating my jaw. There was a price to be paid for being on air from 6am to 9am, five days a week, especially since it meant getting up at 4am every stinking day Monday thru Friday. I was a professional: I didn’t just roll into the studio and talk drivel for three hours. I read all the daily papers and news sites, looking for topical stories, guests with something interesting to say; and every week, I had a themed show which required a ton of research, most of which I did myself, since the station’s researchers were overworked, underpaid, and mostly harried.

“Your fat ass stuck in that chair or what?” sneered Jerry Winters, the resident misogynist who followed my show—a man so vile, he brought out the homicidal maniac in most people, especially me. He hated the fact that I’d gotten the fast lane of morning radio, and he’d been sidelined into the slow lane of pre-lunchtime chat.

Thank you, karma.

I smiled sweetly.

“Aw, Jerry! Did someone wake up with a pineapple stuck in his rectum or is it just the way you walk?” I leaned in closer, careful not to breathe in anywhere near his halitosis. “Yes, my ass is fat but I should warn you … I ate the last person who commented on it.”

Then I snapped my teeth at him, making him jump.

I laughed as I sauntered away, amused by his huffy comment, “so unprofessional”.

I had a thousand comebacks for guys like him, guys who thought they could upset me by commenting on my weight. Screw him, or rather not. I had a great job, fabulous friends, as much sex as I wanted (thank you, Tinder), an apartment that cost me an arm and two legs but had an awesome view almost to Central Park, and I was comfortable in my own skin. That’s what guys like him could never understand—I didn’t give a rat’s ass what he thought of me.

Sure, as a kid, I’d endured all the size-ist comments, starting with my own family.

Grandma Callahan’s favorite phrase was, “You’ve got such a pretty face.” Which, as every curvy girl knows, was code for, it’s a shame the rest of you is so fat.

Davy, my brother had several nicknames for me, including The Incredible Bulk or Gut Bucket, depending on how sweet he was feeling. I still felt bad about the scar through his eyebrow that I gave him as a reply. Nah, not really: I felt awesome every time I remembered the black-purple-and-green bruise that had gone with it, plus four stitches from the local ER.

At Thanksgiving dinner when I was a Junior in high school, Nana Dubicki announced, “Boys won’t date a fat girl because those girls have no self-control.”

I didn’t like to point out that most teenage guys prefer a girl who has no self-control, especially my boyfriend at the time, Carl Jenson, but Nana had high blood pressure and a Pacemaker, so I simply smiled and helped myself to another piece of pumpkin pie.

Mom winked at me and pushed the jug of whipped cream closer. She was a survivor of her mother’s beauty pageant ambitions back in the day, and was now vehemently opposed to forcing that regime on young girls. She also had a selection of her favorite quotes from Fat is a Feminist Issue for every occasion.

But Dad’s brother, my Uncle Gerald, made a comment that became my all-time favorite: “Never mind, honey, you have a great face for radio.”

Yeah, thanks, Uncle G.

But I had the last laugh on that because I used it as my sign-off on the show every day. Dad told me that Uncle G still cringes when he hears me say it.

Revenge is a dish best served cold. Just sayin’.

Oliver grinned at me as I passed his booth. He didn’t have much time for Jerry the Jerk either.

As I collected my coat and bag from my desk, Monica, one of the runners, dropped an envelope in front of me.

“Your tickets for the fundraiser tonight. You’re so lucky!”

I groaned and massaged my temples. I’d completely forgotten that I’d been volunteered to represent XKL at a charity event tonight. Personally, I’d rather write a check and donate that, instead of spending my evening eating canapes the size of quarters and trying to make small talk. I was getting gas at the thought of it.

But the charity was for veterans, and since Davy was now—against all the odds—a grown up, and had become an Army Ranger, it was something close to my heart.

I brightened at the thought that there might be some sexy soldiers at the event. There’s nothing like a man saluting you first thing in the morning while he’s wearing nothing but his dog tags and a big smile. Oorah!

Unfortunately, the fundraiser was eight till midnight, which meant that by the time I’d get home and fall into bed, I’d have maybe three hours before I had to get up again to go to work.

I loved doing the morning show, but it wreaked havoc with my social life.

Monica was still watching me wistfully.

“You know that Jamie Dornan is going to be there, right?” she sighed.

“Yeah?” I said, suddenly feeling full of perk. “Who else is on the guest list?”

“Does anyone else matter?”

“Probably not,” I grinned, “but humor me.”

“I thought you’d ask,” she said, handing me a piece of paper. “So I made a list of the good, the bad and the ugly: two senators, the Mayor, that woman who’s running for Queens DA, several B-list actors, that guy who runs the gym where all the celebs train, a couple of reality stars including that British beotch who does the Fuglies Instagram page, and did I mention that Jamie Dornan will be there?”

I smiled at her enthusiasm as I read through the guest list. There were definitely some potential interviewees for Morning Munchies. Maybe the evening wouldn’t be a bust after all.

“Good work, Monica. Since I’ll be going stag, you want my spare ticket?”

Her mouth fell open.

“Shut the door! You want me to be your Plus One?”

“Well, you’re not really my type, since you don’t have a penis, but sure! It would be a shame to waste the ticket.”

“Oh my God! You are my favorite human being ever!” she cried out, throwing her arms around my neck.

“I thought that was Jamie Dornan?” I called after her as she hurried away, muttering about manicures and lady-waxing.

“He’s a god!” she yelled. “So you’re still my favorite human!”

Happy she was happy, I took the elevator to the lobby, then put two fingers in my mouth to let out a piercing whistle. A yellow cab skidded to the curb and drove me the seven blocks to my insanely beautiful and insanely expensive apartment.

I needed to nap for a few hours if I was going out tonight.

The Plaza Hotel, situated proudly on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 58th Street, seemed to glitter and sparkle as hundreds of camera flashes illuminated the guests arriving for the fundraiser.

My limo joined the line of congealing traffic that oozed towards the red carpet spilling across the sidewalk. I sat back, enjoying the rare luxury, grateful that the radio station had chosen to transport me in style.

I smoothed the shimmering red dress over my thighs and tried to avoid touching my carefully coiffed hair. After my nap, I’d spent the afternoon primping, even though yoga pants and a messy bun were more my style. But once in a while, I enjoyed the whole rigmarole of dressing up. I’d learned enough tricks from Mom to be able to curl and style my hair, as well as wearing clothes that played to my assets. I had two: my boobs and my eyes. Or maybe that’s four, since I have two boobs and two eyes. Or maybe that’s three assets, since I only had one cleavage, unless you count my butt cleavage … moving on…

I knew how to dress and accessorize, I just chose not to do it very often. But when I did—go big or go home. And because I had dark hair and blue eyes that were almost violet, I rocked the hell out of a scarlet dress. And yes, I did say so myself, because if you wait for a man to give you a compliment, you can be waiting for a frosty day in Hell, and frankly, life is too short.

Stepping onto the red carpet, I smiled and waved, propping a hand on my hip, one foot slightly forward, as Mom had taught me. Nothing sells sexy like confidence. I was a big woman, curvy, lots of wobbly bits, all tits, ass and attitude. Most men didn’t know how to handle me.

I grinned widely when Jamie Dornan walked up behind me on the red carpet, looking edible in a tux. Monica was going to pitch a fit—or be mute. Never could tell which way it would go with her.

“Jamie, hi! Cady Callahan from XKL Radio. Congratulations on your new addition to the family!”

“Thank you, uh, Cady.”

“I’d love to interview your wife, Amelia, next time she’s in New York. Perhaps you could give her my card? My listeners would love to hear about how she manages to look so fabulous while bringing up three children.”

He looked puzzled, bless him.

I leaned in closer, lowering my voice to a confidential whisper.

“No offence, but you must do a gazillion interviews every day. I’d like to talk to the power behind the throne.”

He smiled, showing perfect teeth, and his eyes crinkled with amusement.

“I think Amelia would agree with that. But she doesn’t do interviews unless it’s about her music…”

“If she’d like to make an exception, I’d love to talk to her about being the child of actors, working in the industry and then leaving it behind for music. And being a mom.”

I handed him my card and he placed it in his pocket with a bemused look on his face.

“Selfie?” I asked hopefully.

Being the pro that he was, he only nodded and smiled. And being the pro that was, I didn’t intrude on him any longer, ‘cause there’s nothing more annoying than someone who doesn’t know when to leave.

I hadn’t been blowing smoke either—I built my listener tribe by giving them human interest stories, not just celebrities. Although if Jamie accompanied his wife to the interview, who was I to stop him?

Half my job was about networking, and I never knew when my efforts would be rewarded.

Like all people who worked in the media field, I was well aware that fundraisers were as much about publicity and networking opportunities as supporting a charity: either way, it meant work. It didn’t matter whether it looked like a hell of a party or if there was free champagne, there was still flesh to press, people to impress, or maybe even remind of your existence.

I was the queen of networking and worked the room industriously, managing to extract promises of interviews from a number of fascinating people.

Yeah, sure, I could sit back and wait for PR teams to contact me when their clients had new movies/books/TV shows to promote and/or scandals to brush over, but I found that my most interesting interviews were when there was nothing in particular to promote, because then I’d be more likely to get to the real person, not just regurgitate the current hype.

Across the room I saw Monica chatting with a guy in uniform. Well, flirting. I knew that she’d completely missed my moment with her favorite pin-up, otherwise she’d have zoomed over to get the scoop. Oh well. I’d show her my selfie with Jamie tomorrow.

Besides Monica’s man-of-the-moment, there were at least a couple dozen more military guys, but all of them seemed to be with wives or girlfriends. Still, I made my way over to a guy in a wheelchair when I noticed the tan beret that identified him as a member of the 75th Ranger Regiment, the same as my brother.

I chatted to Corporal Stevens and his wife for a while, also warming them up to the idea of coming on my show. When I mentioned Davy’s name, they recognized it but didn’t know him personally. It definitely helped in getting them to trust me. I had a lot of time for men and women who’d served our country.

After a while, my feet started to hurt. I wasn’t used to wearing heels for any length of time, so I headed to the bathroom for a break. On the way, I stopped to buy a bunch of raffle tickets for the fundraiser and stuffed them in my ruby-red clutch. Usually, I was a coach purse woman, but I was a sucker for a Barneys’ sale—and it was so pretty!

The bathroom was quiet and calm, an oasis of peace away from the crowded ballroom.

But standing at the mirror was a woman I vaguely recognized. I watched her reapply a bright pink lipstick that was a little too Barbie for my taste.

When she caught me watching her, I smiled. She scowled, I think, but since her forehead didn’t move, it was hard to tell.

“What the fuck are you staring at?”

My eyebrows shot upwards as her aggressive tone sank in along with her British accent.

“I was dazzled by your beauty, but then you spoke.”

Her eyes narrowed in confusion.

“What the fuck does that mean?”

She really could use a wider vocabulary.

“Oh, it’s just fascination of the appallingly rude,” I said blandly. “I’m doing a study on linguistic pragmatism and wondered if you were trying to vent negative feelings.”

“What are you talking about, you fat cow?”

I laughed loudly. Rude people hate it when you do that.

“Fat? Oh, honey! Real men like curves. Only dogs like bones.”

She swore again and flounced from the room. Obviously, she hadn’t graduated from charm school.

But I was grateful to her, I really was. She’d given me the next theme for my show—dealing with rude people. I made a quick note on my phone and smiled to myself.

And although she’d seemed familiar before, I was now able to put a name to the botoxed face: Molly McKinney. She was a British reality TV ‘star’ who’d once been engaged to somebody famous. I felt an affinity with the guy who’d been smart enough not to marry her. She courted infamy and controversy, and had started an Instagram account where she poured scorn on anyone who didn’t fit her idea of attractive. It was charmingly named ‘Fuglies’. Depressingly, she had over three million followers.

Still deep in thought, I exited the bathroom, nearly crashing into a guy walking in the other direction. Luckily, he skidded out of the way in time.

“Ooh, sorry! Good reflexes, by the way!”

“You should watch where you’re going,” he said roughly.

Another Brit with a bad attitude? What the heck was going on today? My hackles rose. Couldn’t he take an apology?

“I could look where I’m going,” I smiled at him, “but then I’d have missed out on our brief but fun encounter.”

He blinked in surprise then carried on walking without bothering to reply.

I shook my head, following his tall figure with my eyes, then wondering whether I’d done enough grip and grin for the radio station this evening and could duck out before the raffle draw. It wasn’t like I ever won anything at these events.

Ladies and gentlemen! If I could have your attention for a moment—the raffle draw is about to start in the ballroom.

Damn it!

Pasting a smile on my face, I forced my poor, tortured feed to make a U-turn and headed back inside.

Cabaret-seating had been set up while I was doing my part for world peace, and with a sigh of pleasure, I saw that the buffet table was free of people for the first time all evening. I intended to load up a plate then settle into the nearest available seat to watch the raffle prizes being handed out.

The CEO of the charity tapped the microphone, then made a short speech, talking about the work they did with and for veterans, followed by thanking the long list of sponsors.

I hid a yawn as I placed three shrimp rolls onto my plate and tried not to think about my lovely King-size bed and down pillows waiting for me at home.

“And the winner of an all-expenses vacation to the exclusive White Sands resort in Bermuda, is ticket number 232.”

Nope. Not even close.

Ooh! Mini vol-au-vents!

“And the winner of a case of vintage Moët & Chandon champagne is ticket 743.”

Nope.

Ooh! Tiny chocolate pies with glacé cherries!

“And the winner of a hot stones massage at Vassilly’s Spa Hotel in the Hamptons is…”

Me! Me! Me!

“…ticket 431.”

Bummer. I sighed as an older woman in a Chanel gown accepted the prize, smiling at the waiting photographers.

Who was I kidding? I never won anything.

Ooh! Were those mini pumpkin pies with whipped cream on the top? Be still my beating heart!

I picked one up and placed it in my mouth, moaning as the rich flavors hit my taste buds.

“And the winner of a year’s membership to…”

I zoned out as my eyes rolled backwards with pleasure.

“…plus a year’s training from owner Rick Roberts, goes to … ticket 677.”

There was a smatter of applause followed by a long silence as people turned restlessly in their chairs, trying to see the winner.

I froze mid chew, my eyes widening. Shit! Shit! Shit!

I swallowed, nearly choking, and felt my eyes tear up as I coughed.

The spotlight swung around the room like a searchlight. Weakly, I raised my hand. What was it I’d won? And why the hell was everyone laughing?

“Rick, would you like to come up here and personally present the year’s membership to Body Tech—and meet your newest fitness client?”

Noooooooo! Of all that was holy, unholy and plain damn unfair!

My cheeks flamed as I understood why everyone was laughing. And despite all of my confidence, all of my personal and professional achievements, I was no longer a successful 36 year-old woman. I was instantly transported back to junior high when all the mean girls formed a circle and yelled at me that I was fat: fat and ugly.

A low roar of anger rose up inside me.

No! I was not going to let this crowd of morons make me feel bad.

I plastered on my best beauty-queen smile and sashayed up to the stage, swinging my wide hips and winking at the crowd.

I strutted the length of the ballroom, waving at the people applauding and laughing loudly. Oh yes, very hilarious—the fat woman had won a year’s membership to a gym so exclusive, the waiting list was more than a year-long.

As I approached the stage, smiling so widely my lips were plastered against my teeth, I realized that the grumpy man I’d nearly shoulder-barged outside the women’s bathroom was standing on the stage: Rick Roberts, the owner of Body Tech. Six-foot plus of honed and toned body, sharp cheekbones, soft lips, dark hair ruthlessly pulled back into a man-bun, a short beard, shot through with silver, which personally I found very sexy, hinting at maturity and experience … but wow, those angry, storm-filled eyes. He stared at me with growing horror in his expression which he failed to hide as he wordlessly handed me a gift certificate.

I accepted the envelope, planting a bright red, lip-shaped imprint on his cheek, then posed for photographs.

“Nice aftershave,” I whispered to him, amused to see a dull flush redden his cheeks. “Thank you on behalf of XKL Radio,” I said more loudly, smiling and waving my prize in the air. “We’re so proud to support this amazing charity for veterans, and we thank you all for your service.”

I had every intention of gifting the membership to someone at work, someone who looked forward to the idea of masochism and machismo neatly wrapped up in a single gym visit. Maybe I’d do a giveaway on my show.

Rick and I left the stage together, the grim-faced man holding my elbow as we descended the four steps. It was a gentlemanly gesture, but I wanted his condescending hands the hell off of me.

No matter how good he smelled.

Or how hot he looked in a custom tux.

I noticed that the blonde woman from the bathroom, Molly McKinney, was sitting at a table near the front of the stage.

Her narrowed gaze was pinned to me and her lip curled up.

“Seriously! You’ve won a gym membership?!” and she laughed loudly and obnoxiously, as several people at the same table copied her. Then she fluttered her false eyelashes at Rick. “Long time no see, Ricky babe. Looks like you’ll be scraping the bottom of the Z-lister barrel this time with her,” and she laughed again.

Besides me, Rick frowned and he dropped his grip on my elbow, but stayed silent.

I continued to smile brightly, but was fuming inside.

Don’t be a bitch should be the 11th Commandment.

Why couldn’t people just be nice? I had guests on my show all the time whose opinions I disagreed with, but I was never unkind or derogatory, never demeaning or bitchy. I left that to shock-jock DJs who had a stick up their ass and something to prove.

I ignored them all and walked past the bitchy table, surprised when I realized that the gym owner, Rick Roberts was still following me.

I paused, giving him a chance to catch up while I faked another smile.

“Imagine bumping into you twice in one day! It must be fate.” I leaned toward him confidentially, hoping to get another whiff of his delicious aftershave. “But don’t worry, I won’t be polluting the hallowed halls of your fitness center. I’ll gift the prize to someone else, someone who’d actually enjoy torturing themselves in your emporium of exercise.”

“You talk a lot,” he said with another scowl. “Are you saying that you don’t want the membership?”

“Got it in one!”

“Of course she won’t be going to Body Tech,” said the Molly-bitch, sidling up to us, clearly having overheard every word. “What would a fat arse like her do in a gym?”

Rick glowered down at her.

“A healthy lifestyle is for everyone,” he said curtly.

Was he defending me? For some reason, that was surprising.

Healthy? Yeah, right! Like you’d want to train that?” she laughed loudly, pointing an inch-long talon in my face.

“He’s just dying for the chance to train me,” I said with a smirk. “I can tell that he’s the type of man who loves a challenge.”

“You said you were giving away the membership?”

Rick frowned at me, draining every ounce of sympathy that I’d briefly had for him as Molly sniggered.

“Am I too much woman for you, Rick?” I asked, a spike of steel in my flirty tone.

His narrowed eyes glared at me.

“I only train people who are serious,” he snapped. “People who are committed, who’ll work hard.”

Now he was pissing me off.

“Listen, Dick…”

“It’s Rick!”

“Dick suits your personality.”

His scowl deepened as my anger mounted.

“You think I don’t know hard work? You think I don’t know commitment? I get up at 4am five days a week to do a live three-hour show. I haven’t missed one in four years. Dick.”

Molly sniggered again.

“He didn’t want to see your enormous arse in spandex anyway.”

Rick didn’t disagree, and my patience was worn thin. In fact, it was transparent.

“Well, Dick, if you’re such a damn good trainer, no doubt you’ll have me running a marathon within a year, won’t you? Luckily for both of us, I have better things to do with my time.”

“I can train anyone who’s prepared to put in the hours,” he snapped. “Even you!”

“Well, gee! Just sign me up for the New York Marathon, Tarzan!”

Smirking, Molly raised her phone and snapped a photo of me and Rick, nose to nose, glaring at each other.

“Oh my God!” she shrieked. “You, run a marathon? Are pigs learning to fly, or is it fat cows learning to run?”

And she turned on her heel and slithered away.

“Such a sweet, charming personality,” I said, smiling dangerously. “Maybe her mother loves her.”

“I doubt it,” said Rick, with an edge to his voice.

“Well, don’t worry about it, big guy,” I said, patting his arm. “I wasn’t being serious and I am going to gift the membership, so you don’t need to worry. Nice meeting you. I think.”

Yawning my head off, I texted my driver that I was ready to leave. I wanted my bed. I’d wanted it four hours ago.

TO BE CONTINUED…


You can read Chapters 2-5, exclusive to Newsletter Readers

Sign up here and receive a free novella, too!


QUICK QUOTES

I don’t remember the question, the answer is always chocolate.

*~ *~ * ~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *

I never met a chocolate I didn’t love.

*~ *~ * ~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *

I was never humble. I was a kickass woman.

*~ *~ * ~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *

Did someone wake up with a pineapple stuck in his rectum or is it just the way you walk?

*~ *~ * ~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *

I had a great job, fabulous friends, as much sex as I wanted (thank you, Tinder), an apartment that cost me an arm and two legs but had an awesome view almost to Central Park, and I was comfortable in my own skin.

*~ *~ * ~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *

There’s nothing like a man saluting you first thing in the morning while he’s wearing nothing but his dog tags and a big smile. Oorah!

*~ *~ * ~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *

If you wait for a man to give you a compliment, you can be waiting for a frosty day in Hell, and frankly, life is too short.

*~ *~ * ~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *

Nothing sells sexy like confidence. 

*~ *~ * ~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *

I was a big woman, curvy, lots of wobbly bits, all tits, ass and attitude. Most men didn’t know how to handle me.

*~ *~ * ~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *

Don’t be a bitch should be the 11th Commandment.

*~ *~ * ~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *

Honest to God, I needed to be in bed with the lights off, phone off and Kindle off by 9pm or I was toast. Today, I was the crumbs at the bottom of the toaster. I was the burnt pieces that you have to scrape off…

*~ *~ * ~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *

“Spit it out!” said no man, ever.

*~ *~ * ~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *

I’m a professional … and I still want to kick her scrawny ass!

*~ *~ * ~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *

“I don’t know any woman who doesn’t see flaws when she looks at herself. We’re all so busy deciding that we’re too tall, too short, too thin, too fat to remember that we’re unique human beings, and we all deserve to be treated with respect. We’re all awesome.”

*~ *~ * ~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *

“Aw, honey! I’m not fat, I’m just so darn sexy it overflows.”

*~ *~ * ~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *

“So, Mr. Roberts,” she said formally. “What are you going to do with this body?” and she gave me a flirty smile. “I’m all about the TAA—tits, ass and attitude.”

*~ *~ * ~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *

Raising your heart rate and getting sweaty for just 11 minutes three times a week is going to benefit you.”

“Like sex?”

“Only if you’re dating the wrong men,”

*~ *~ * ~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *

If this was a Manhattan fairytale, I was the beautiful 220lb princess who’d escaped the ogre’s lair. And in my fairytale, I didn’t need a white knight to save me, just a sharp, pointy weapon that I could use on Dick. 

*~ *~ * ~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *

“I don’t go on Tinder to look for date material—it’s simply a fun alternative to self-love. I just think it’s important to try having sex before I rush into dating.”

*~ *~ * ~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *

The man had a stick up his ass and a serious humor bypass. That must have been an interesting surgery.

I didn’t like pain. Pain was bad. I’d be a terrible submissive—I’d be yelling ‘red’ before he whipped out a blindfold.

*~ *~ * ~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *

There was a reason women like me didn’t skip—my boobs were like an executive toy—they had kinetic energy all of their own.

*~ *~ * ~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *

If you can survive high school, you could probably survive the apocalypse with a protractor, chewing gum and a roll of cellotape. 

*~ *~ * ~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *

“I maintain my big ass so more people can kiss it, honey.”

*~ *~ * ~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *

“A recent study found that women with a little extra weight live longer than the men who mention it,” I stated sharply, eyeing him with the enthusiasm of a patient preparing for colonic irrigation. 

Stuart and Jane’s Fitness Journeys

MORE ABOUT STUART

I’ve had four major surgeries as a result of my rugby career—three operations to repair torn Achilles tendons, and a torn rotor cuff in my shoulder that ultimately ended my professional rugby career.

Coming back from injury and surgery is a long, slow process. Keeping a level of fitness during recovery isn’t easy, and rehab after is tough. So for me, exercise and working out at the gym is more than just getting fit, it’s a way of life.

And then there’s the completely different issue of getting lean for a photoshoot like for this cover—especially when your co-author is a bad influence and travels everywhere with chocolate. I really enjoy a good quality dark chocolate, and yep, I had to cut that out to drop a few pounds for the cover shoot. Feel my pain?!

Connect with Stuart

 Website | Facebook | YouTube | Instagram | Twitter

Stay up to date with Stuart and sign up for his newsletter

 

MORE ABOUT JHB

For years (decades), I told myself that I didn’t like gyms and even though I joined several with the best intentions, I stayed away. I lived in London and walked four miles a day to and from Tube stations, so that seemed like enough. I often had an aching back and shoulders, and sometimes sciatic pain, too. I put it down to having a desk job, even though I was only in my twenties.

When I moved from London to live by the ocean, I began a love affair with swimming—and there’s nothing like swimming in a cold ocean! I walked my little dog every day and felt better, but with turning to writing full-time, there were still a lot of hours spent at a desk.

Then I got really sick. The death of my father was a stressful time, as you can imagine, but it became worse when it triggered Rheumatoid Arthritis in me. Suddenly, I was using walking sticks to get around, sometimes a wheelchair, and often crippled with pain. All the usual drugs helped, and I began to regain mobility slowly. But the turning point for me was joining a gym, and realising what I’d been missing out on all these years.

Nothing happens overnight, and it was a process of simply keeping going two to three times a week to feel the benefits—and I did. I was happy, my family was happy, even my doctor was happy.

Exercise doesn’t cure RA, but it certainly helps.

Connect with Jane

Website | Facebook | Facebook Readers Group | Instagram | Twitter

Pinterest | YouTube | Goodreads | BookBub | Amazon U.K | Amazon U.S 

Stay up to date with Jane and sign up for her newsletter

 

REVIEW TOUR ~ BLACK SHEEP by Meghan March

Today we are thrilled to be sharing our review for New York Times bestselling author Meghan March’s first thrilling romantic suspense novel in The Dirty Mafia Duet, BLACK SHEEP


 
From New York Times bestselling author Meghan March comes a story of untold truths and one man’s redemption in the Dirty Mafia Duet.

Every family has a black sheep.

In the infamous Casso crime family, that black sheep is me—Cannon Freeman.

Except I’m not a free man. I’ve never been free. Not since the day I was born.

I owe my loyalty to my father, Dominic Casso, even if he won’t publicly acknowledge me as his blood.

I’ve never had a reason to go against his wishes…until I met her.

Drew Carson turned my world upside down when she walked into my club looking for a job.

Now, my honor and my life are on the line.

Going against my father’s wishes might buy me a bullet straight from his gun, but black sheep or not, it’s time to make my stand.

She’s worth the fallout.

Download BLACK SHEEP today!

Amazon UniversalApple Books | Nook | KoboGoogle Play

Amazon Print: U.S | U.K | CAN | AUS

Add to Goodreads

Start listening to BLACK SHEEP narrated by
Andi Arndt & Sebastian York today!

Audible: U.S | U.K | CAN | AUS


Reviewed by Sharon Thérèse at KFF

I’d really like to know how March’s mind works. If there’s one author who can spin a nail-biting tale, have you sitting on the edge of your seat from the first page to the last and still keep you guessing, it is she. Lovers of romantic suspense, get ready to be whisked into the world of gangsters because not only has the author cracked it, she’s left her readers dangling on a precipice. Black Sheep is book one in the Dirty Mafia duet, White Knight coming soon, so we won’t have to wait too long for the conclusion.

Cannon Freeman is most certainly the black sheep of the Casso family. Something he’s not at all happy about, either. I listened to the audio while reading and I have no words to describe how well Sebastian York narrated one of the male characters. Obviously, I never expected the head of the infamous New York crime syndicate to be pleasant but my word, this man gave me the heebie-jeebies. I have to say that March developed his persona extremely well and that no love lost feeling conveyed between Cannon and this individual was spot on.

Drew Carson is on a mission and well aware that by entering into the lion’s den, she’s putting her life in danger. I looked at what she was trying to accomplish from different angles and came to the conclusion that messing with the Mafia was asking for trouble. There’s no doubt that Drew is fearless and despite the fact that she doesn’t trust a soul, will all the precautions she takes be enough? I thought she was a tad reckless, seeing as she had little or no backup; however, her determination to get to the root of an injustice which had left its mark is commendable. Will she be able to pull the wool over the eyes of those who have shown an interest in her and come out unscathed? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

Even though I clearly saw how Cannon had struggled to stand up to his stepfather in the past, I loved the way he put his foot down when it was necessary. Him running the legit part of the family business is another story altogether. He’s demanding, has a no-nonsense attitude and expects the best from his employees, albeit his main concern is their well-being.

Andi Arndt and Sebastian York are an audio dream team. When I couldn’t read the book but was able to listen to it, the story’s feel was equally good or even better. There are some scorching hot scenes which they both pulled off perfectly and of course, never would I have expected less from March’s bold storytelling.

Definitely worthy of reading, the first book in this duet finishes off with promises for a mind-blowing follow-up. I’m looking forward to seeing how the two protagonists are going to get out of a very sticky situation. Roll on September!

 

Meet Meghan

Making the jump from corporate lawyer to romance author was a leap of faith that New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author Meghan March will never regret. With over thirty titles published, she has sold millions of books in nearly a dozen languages to fellow romance-lovers around the world. A nomad at heart, she can currently be found in the woods of the Pacific Northwest, living her happily ever after with her real-life alpha hero.

Find Meghan online here:  MeghanMarch.com | Facebook | Instagram |  Twitter | BookBub Goodreads | Book+Main | Amazon

To get the inside scoop on a daily basis, join in the fun in Meghan March’s Runaway Readers Facebook Group → HERE

Sign up for Meghan’s newsletter and receive exclusive content that she saves for her subscribers → HERE