BLOG TOUR ~ BEAUTY AND THE BAYOU by Erin Nicholas

Today we are thrilled to be on tour with Beauty and the Bayou, an all-new sexy, small town, opposites attract romantic comedy from New York Times bestselling author Erin Nicholas.

BeautyAndTheBayou300

Sawyer Landry knows he’s been beastly to be around for the past few months. But he can’t seem to remember how to be fun-loving and friendly. Until he sees Juliet Dawson on his boat dock… and realizes that hip waders are, apparently, one of his turn-ons. But despite the beauty in the boots, the last thing he needs right now is a city girl in his way for the next two weeks.

But he’s not really getting a vote. Juliet is determined that her little brother rebuild the dock he and his idiot friends smashed. She’s quirky, klutzy, independent…and possibly an even bigger pessimist than Sawyer is. He’s incredibly drawn to the cynical fish-out-of-water, who seems to be the one person who isn’t intimidated by his growling.

The big, gruff boat captain is the first person in a long time to want to watch out for her and Juliet finds that hotter than his grandma’s jambalaya. Well, that and his sexy scar, his emotional baggage, and the sense of humor and fun that is buried deep.

But Sawyer doesn’t need any more people to worry about long-term and the things that make him feel protective of Juliet aren’t going to go away. So, this two-week adventure can’t be anything more than a fling. With Juliet down on the bayou, there’s an even bigger threat than alligators and hurricanes. There’s the very good chance of someone ending up with a broken heart.

BATB - AN

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EXCERPT

© 2019 Erin Nicholas
All rights reserved.

 
“I guess when we need relief from the heat, we go, you know, into the actual shade.” He looked amused. “Among other things.”“Other things?” 

It wasn’t so much that she needed to know other ways to keep cool. But she really liked the way he looked when he was mildly amused. It was a very good look on him. 

“Lots of water and sweet tea,” he said. 

She gave an involuntary shudder. 

His amused smile grew. “No to sweet tea?”

“Not my favorite,” she admitted. “But don’t tell Ellie,” she added quickly.

He chuckled at that. “I would never.”

Yeah, the chuckling was nice, too. “I’ve got the water covered though,” she said. 

“Good.”

“Anything else?”

“Well, when we get hot there area couple of other things we do,” he said.

Had he moved closer?

Juliet swallowed. “Like what?”

“We take clothes off,” he said. 

Yeah, his voice was definitely deeper now.

“I gue—” She cleared her throat. “I guess that makes sense, but there are bugs and sunburn to consider.”

He gave her a nod. “Sunscreen and bug repellent are important. Cora makes bug repellent that’s amazing.”

Huh. Homemade bug repellent. She might have to give that a try. These people intrigued her, she had to admit. “What about the flying debris?”

Sawyer glanced at the boards behind her. “Yeah, well, I guess we do take some risks down here.”

Ah, ha. “I’d rather be a little hot than dealing with an infection from a piece of wood imbedding itself in my skin and muscle tissue.”

Sawyer paused, then shook his head, almost disbelievingly. “Okay, girl. Then that only leaves one other thing to do when you get too hot.”

“What’s that?”

“Swimming.”

For a moment, looking into Sawyer Landry’s eyes, for the first time since she’d been ten years old, Juliet wanted to take her clothes off and jump into a body of water. 

That lasted about twelve seconds. But that was twelve seconds longer than she’d considered doing it to that point. 

“I don’t have a swimming suit.”

“You don’t need one. The fewer clothes the cooler you get.”

“Skinny-dipping?” she asked. 

“Skinny-dipping,” he confirmed.

“You actually skinny-dip?” she asked. 

“Of course.”

Sawyer Landry naked.

She just took a few seconds to relish that thought…and the images that went with it. Skinny-dipping with Sawyer might be the one way she would ever even possibly consider any of that. “Do you have a private pool with lots of chlorine and a maximum depth of three feet?” she asked. 

She wondered if being naked but with a life jacket on still counted as skinny-dipping. 

“Don’t need a pool when I’ve got a whole bayou in my backyard.”

She shuddered. “There is no way I’m jumping in there. Clothes or not.”

“So, the naked part of skinny-dipping isn’t the problem?” Sawyer asked. “It’s the water?”

“It’s absolutely the water,” she said. It was actually all water, but water where she could see the bottom, touch the bottom, and that was pumped through a filtration system was tolerable. Maybe. For a short period. With plenty of floatation devices within reach. “I mean, other than just the dirt, there are snakes and alligators and fish…and fish and alligator poopin there.” She frowned. “Do snakes poop? I mean, they probably do, right?”

Sawyer blinked at her. “I’ve never really thought about it.”

She nodded. “They almost have to. And they probably do it in that water, too.” She shuddered again. “No, thank you. There are just places I do notneed dirty bayou water.”

“It’s the poop that’s keeping you from skinny-dippin’?” Sawyer asked, clearly trying not to laugh. “You are really thinking about the wrong thing when it comes to bein’ wet and naked, darlin’.”
 

 

Reviewed by Anna on behalf of KFF

This is the first book I have read by this author, a light-hearted romance that involves two individuals that have the same issues. This is the third book in the series Boys of the Bayou but can be read as a standalone.

Sawyer Landry is one of four partners in the Boys of the Bayou business. He has not been the best company these past months because of what happened to his best friend, Tom. He is overly cautious and is overprotective of his family and friends that when he sees Juliet for the first time his usual self goes overboard and so did she, almost!

Juliet Dawson has almost always been bubble-wrapped by her older brothers and parents because of what happened to her when she was ten years old. Through the years she has learned how to be prepared at all times; she puts Health and Safety officers to shame. When she comes to join the Landry family to sort out her younger brother Chase’s mess her life turns upside down, literally, when she meets Sawyer.

Juliet and Sawyer’s chemistry is a slow burn explosive romance. From the instant they met, the cautious and slow but sure flirtation and nearly there moments, one can’t help but cheer for this couple. Juliet is such a klutz but she is always better prepared than a Boy Scout. Sawyer counteracts her what-ifs because he is almost on the same boat. Juliet and Sawyer are yin and yang; they are a perfect match even a blind person could see it. The secondary characters in this book are equally as entertaining and make me want to join in the family business. Overall I really enjoyed Sawyer and Juliet’s romantic mishaps and misadventures and I am sure you will too.

Meet Erin

ErinNicholasNew York Times and USA Today bestselling author Erin Nicholas has been writing romances almost as long as she’s been reading them. To date, she’s written over thirty sexy, contemporary novels that have been described as “toe-curling,” “enchanting,” “steamy,” and “fun.” She adores reluctant heroes, imperfect heroines, and happily ever afters.

Erin lives in the Midwest, where she enjoys spending time with her husband (who only wants to read the sex scenes in her books), her kids (who will never read the sex scenes in her books), and her family and friends (who claim to be “shocked” by the sex scenes in her books).

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SNEAK PEEK ~ THE DAY HE CAME BACK by Penelope Ward

Today we are delighted to be sharing an excerpt from New York Times bestselling author Penelope Ward’s all-new contemporary romance,
THE DAY HE CAME BACK, releasing 19th August!

 

It was the summer of my life.
I’d met the guy of my dreams.
Unfortunately, he was the son of my uppity employer—and very much off-limits.
But Gavin was a rebel. He knew his mother would disown him if she found out about us; in his eyes, we just had to be careful.
He never treated me as his mother did—like hired help.
Instead, Gavin put me on a pedestal and loved me harder than I’d ever been loved in my life.

What a summer it was.
Until it all ended—badly.

I was never supposed to see Gavin again.
That didn’t stop me from thinking about him every day for ten years.
I knew little about his life now, just that he was an entrepreneur living an ocean away.

When a twist of fate had me working again in the very place our love affair started a decade earlier, I knew it was only a matter of time before I might see him again.
But I wasn’t prepared.
What if he hated me?
What if he loved someone else now?
I wasn’t prepared for all the unknowns.

And most of all, I wasn’t prepared for today to be the day he came back.

EXCERPT

© 2019 Penelope Ward
All rights reserved.

I looked down at her fitted white pants, covered in dirt marks. Even though she looked sexy as hell, I had to ask. “Why the hell does my mother insist on the staff wearing all white?””You’ll have to ask her, although I like to think of it as practice for my future nursing career.”“I guess that’s one way to look at it. It kind of freaks me out. It’s like you’re all part of some cult.” I chuckled.“I wonder what she’d do if I showed up in black. She’d shun me.” She snapped her fingers jokingly. “Oh wait…”Except I wasn’t laughing now. I felt horrible that she knew exactly how my mother felt about her.

“I’m sorry she’s such a bitch, Raven.”

“It’s not your fault.” She looked out at the ocean, then promptly changed the subject. “You must be excited to go to Connecticut in the fall.”

“At this very moment, thanks to you, I’m in absolutely no rush to leave this spot, let alone Palm Beach.”

She blushed. “You’re funny.”

“You’re f*cking beautiful.” That just came out. “I’m sorry if that was too forward. But it’s true,” I said.

“No.” Her cheeks turned pink. “Thank you.”

“Do you have a boyfriend?”

She pushed some hair behind her ear. “No.”

“I want to take you out.”

She looked down at her empty cup. “I don’t think so.”

Ouch. “Can I ask why?”

“It’s not that I’m not interested, but…you’re leaving in the fall, so I’m not sure it makes sense to start anything up. Then there’s the bigger issue of your mother. I just don’t think it’s a good idea.”

“I get it.” I nodded. “I understand.”

Holy sh*t. I wasn’t used to rejection. I couldn’t remember the last time a girl had said no to me. I swear to God, my dick just stiffened. What was it about the chase that was so damn arousing? I had to find another way…

“Can we hang out as friends, then?”

She grinned skeptically. “Friends?”

“There’s this improv club near where you live. I wanted to go check it out this weekend. Would you want to go with me?”

“Venturing to the other side of the bridge, eh?” she teased. “What would Mother think?”

“Will you come with me, wiseass?”

“Seriously, what if your mom finds out?”

“She won’t. She doesn’t really question where I go. I’ll just tell her I’m going to meet a friend. And thanks to your rejection, that won’t be a lie, right?”

Raven blinked for a while before she finally answered, “Okay. Yeah.”

My heart sped up. “Yeah?”

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Cover Design: Letitia Hasser, RBA Designs

Cover Model: Christian Hogue

Cover Photographer: Brian Jamie

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Meet Penelope

Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of contemporary romance.

She grew up in Boston with five older brothers and spent most of her twenties as a television news anchor. Penelope resides in Rhode Island with her husband, son, and beautiful daughter with autism.

With over two million books sold, she is a twenty-one time New York Times bestseller and the author of over twenty novels. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages and can be found in bookstores around the world. 

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Other books by Penelope

WHEN AUGUST ENDS

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KFF’S  4.5 ★ Review ➜ HERE

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LOVE ONLINE

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GENTLEMAN NINE

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DRUNK DIAL

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MACK DADDY

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ROOM HATE

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STEPBROTHER DEAREST

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NEIGHBOR DEAREST

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SINS OF SEVIN

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Stepbrother Dearest

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JAKE UNDONE (Jake #1)

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JAKE UNDERSTOOD (Jake #2)

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GEMINI

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MY SKYLAR

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Co-written novels with Vi Keeland

HATE NOTES

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THE RUSH SERIES (2 BOOK SERIES)

REBEL HEIR

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REBEL HEART

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DEAR BRIDGET, I WANT YOU

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COCKY BASTARD

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STUCK-UP SUIT

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Also available on Audible and Paperback

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PLAYBOY PILOT

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MISTER MONEYBAGS

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CHAPTER REVEAL ~ ON THE CORNER OF LOVE AND HATE by Nina Bocci

Today we are thrilled to be sharing the first chapter and KFF‘s review for USA Today bestselling author Nina Bocci’s all-new contemporary
romance in the stand-alone Hopeless Romantics series,
ON THE CORNER OF LOVE AND HATE

For fans of Christina Lauren and Lauren Layne comes a delightfully sassy and sexy romance about a campaign manager who reluctantly works with the local Lothario to help revamp his image for the upcoming mayoral elections, only to discover that he’s hiding something that can turn both their lives upside down.

What’s a campaign manager’s worst nightmare? A smooth-talking charmer who’s never met a scandal that he didn’t like.

When Emmanuelle Peroni’s father—and mayor of her town—asks her to help rehab Cooper Endicott’s image, she’s horrified. Cooper drives her crazy in every way possible. But he’s also her father’s protégé, and she can’t say no to him without him finding out the reason why: Cooper and her have a messy past. So Emmanuelle reluctantly launches her father’s grand plan to get this Casanova someone to settle down with and help him lose his lothario reputation.

Cooper Endicott wanted to run for Mayor, but he never wanted the drama that went with it. Now that he’s on the political hamster wheel, the other candidates are digging up everything from his past. Even though he’s doing all the right things, his colorful love life is the sticking point for many of the conservative voters. He wants to win, badly, and he knows that if he wants any chance of getting a vote from the female population, he needs to change his image. The only problem? He might just be falling in love with the one person he promised not to pursue: the Mayor’s off-limits daughter.

A perfect blend of humor and heart, On the Corner of Love and Hate is the first in a new series from USA TODAY bestselling author Nina Bocci.

Releasing 20th August, pre-order your copy today!

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CHAPTER ONE ~ On the Corner of Love and Hate

© 2019 Nina Bocci
All rights reserved.

 
Thud. Whoosh. Slap. Thud. Whoosh. Slap. The trio of irksome sounds repeated another half-dozen times. My eyes darted upward, a silent prayer falling from my lips. 

Dear God, please give me the strength not to shove that tennis ball somewhere that would require surgery. Amen. 

My coworker casually leaned back in his chair, his long legs out- stretched and crossed at the ankles on the shiny surface of the con- ference room table. Beneath his brown leather loafers sat a report. 

His unfinished-yet-due-tomorrow report. I marveled at his ability to multitask. It would have been more appropriate if he had been, say, working. Instead, he was tossing a ball against the conference room wall with one hand while texting with the other. Even though he didn’t take his eyes off his phone screen, he caught the ball every single time. If I hadn’t been so annoyed, I would have actually been impressed. 

The clock ticked against the pale yellow wall above his head. With each passing tick, the ball struck with a thwack to its right. “Cooper, could you please stop?” I finally said, rubbing my temples to ease the headache that was forming. 

Thud. Whoosh. Slap. 

NINA BOCCI 2 

“Cooper,” I repeated, glancing up from my laptop. “Hello?” Thud, whoosh, slap was the only response I got. Sliding back my chair, I stood up and walked around the long maple conference table. It was only when I got close enough to see the scantily clad woman in his text window that I noticed the wireless earbuds that were blasting music into his ears. As the ball left his hand, I touched his shoulder. 

Startled, he lost his grip on the ball, sending it sailing behind him. “What’s up?” he sputtered, quickly pulling his earbuds out. I didn’t miss his hand sliding his phone into his pocket. He looked every bit like a teenager caught red-handed by the principal. 

“Are you kidding me?” I exclaimed. “You’ve had music on this entire time? I read nearly two pages of the brewery expansion proposal out loud to you twenty minutes ago!” 

At least he had the decency to look remorseful. “I thought you were talking to yourself, so I”—he motioned to the black Beats— “figured I’d give you your privacy while I caught up on work.” 

My eyebrows must have reached my hairline, because with a mildly guilty expression he pulled his legs down from the table. 

I snorted. “Yes, I start all sentences with, ‘Cooper, what do you think about’ when I’m talking to myself. Were you just smiling and nodding for my health?” Shifting in his seat, he straightened. I huffed. 

The small laugh lines around his mouth became more pro- nounced, an indication that he was fighting back a smile. “Em- manuelle,” he purred smoothly. 

“Don’t Emmanuelle me,” I clapped back. “That tone may work on your fan club, but not me.” 

He held his arms up in a defensive position. “Okay, okay, I’m sorry. What did I miss?” He grabbed for the papers in my hand. 

Holding them back against my chest, I scowled. “Hope Lake Brewing Company. Expansion. Asking for input before it goes to the town council for approval.” 

He whistled and rocked back in his chair. “Council is going 

ON THE CORNER OF LOVE AND HATE 3 

to reject anything that comes across their desk from them. They hate the ‘vibe’ the brew house brings, and the addition would make the council’s heads explode.” 

I nodded. “Yep, which is why the guys asked us for help. To try and edit the proposal to appeal to them. It’s also why I booked us the conference room for this meeting that you just Tindered your way through.” 

“That’s not a word, and I wasn’t—” he began, patting his pocket absently. Probably making sure the evidence was tucked away safely. 

I held up my hand. “Save it. I don’t care what or who you’re doing. Just that you’re not paying attention. Again.” 

When the owners of HLBC, Drew and Luke Griffin, first came to our department, Cooper and I had championed their proposal to build a brewing company, tasting room, and outdoor entertainment space just along the lakefront. It was one of the first projects Cooper and I had worked on together, and it was just what we’d needed in town back then—a fun, innovative business that catered to every age. Now, six years later, HLBC was one of Hope Lake’s most popular spots, and the brothers were looking to expand their space to include rooms for private events and a small restaurant. Cooper and I were supposed to be discussing how to approach the town council about it. 

Looked like I’d just been talking to myself instead. “I’m going back to my office, where I can work in peace,” I said. Exasperated, I started gathering up my stuff. 

After a few seconds of awkward silence, he cleared his throat. “You’re right. I’m sorry. Let’s go over it. Again.” 

I stacked my files, feeling my blood starting to boil. Having to repeat myself irked me, but I needed his input whether I liked it or not. 

Glancing up, I noticed Cooper readying to say something else when our shared assistant, Nancy, hurried in with the main office calendar and a fistful of Sharpies clutched in her hand. 

NINA BOCCI 4 

“I’ve been searching for you two everywhere,” she said, looking wide-eyed at each of us in turn. The conference table, at least on my side, was covered in charts, graphs, and photos of the lake- front. On Cooper’s side—well, there was a lot of polished maple visible. 

“Did you discuss the project?” she asked hopefully, her face falling when I shook my head. “Okay, well, I guess you’ll handle that, uh, later. I’m sure.” She gave me a look. “I hope,” she mouthed, then cleared her throat and pulled out the head chair of the confer- ence table and sat down with the main office calendar in front of her. “It’s time for the afternoon rundown—are you ready?” 

Cooper groaned. Not at Nancy but at the calendar she had opened. It had been on my desk this morning when I’d filled it with upcoming appointments and meetings. By the looks of it, Nancy had managed to fill almost every empty space that remained. 

We kept it old school at our office. Instead of using Google calendar or iCal, we used a large paper desk calendar with a color-coded legend, labels, and tabs to keep our government of- fice running like clockwork. It’s not as though we hadn’t tried to modernize, but some of the, ahem, older department staff were frosty toward change. 

Nancy, Cooper, and I worked at the Hope Lake Community Development Office on the top floor of Borough Building. In a small town like Hope Lake, my department was sort of the home base for everything. From simple things such as parade permits to more detailed ventures—for example, helping to secure funding for business owners like HLBC—the CDO, as we tended to call it, had its hand in pretty much everything. It wasn’t big, but what we lacked in size and staff we made up for in energy and results. “The upcoming week is brutal,” Nancy apologized, looking at Cooper, who, not surprisingly, was on his phone again. “Emma, I’m afraid you’re a bit overscheduled.” She tapped a Sharpie on the table. 

I waved a dismissive hand. “It can’t be any worse than that 

ON THE CORNER OF LOVE AND HATE 5 

week the staff came down with the flu.” I had practically run the office that week even though I was heavily medicated myself. 

“It’s close.” She held up two fingers barely an inch apart. “You’re back-to-back Monday. There is a pocket of time during the event this weekend with the future Mr. Mayor here and his opponent.” 

Cooper perked up then. He knocked twice on the wooden table. “Don’t jinx me.” 

Oh, sure, you’re paying attention now. “You’re a shoo-in. People love you, Cooper. And with the mayor already behind you, how can you not be?” Nancy assured him. 

Nancy wasn’t blowing smoke. Cooper had decided to run for office this year, and his magnetic personality made him the per- fect political candidate. He was brilliant, liked by the majority of the town, and had confidence to spare because he knew he was the best choice for the job. Even I could admit that, and we were often at odds. 

“Emma, I know you wanted to have a sit-down with Drew and Luke from the brewing company about the proposed expansion before they go to the council, but I don’t see how it’s going to happen.” 

Nancy jotted a note onto the calendar. Over the years, we’d gotten our system down to a science: orange for me, blue for Cooper, hot pink for our department administrative assistant, green for Nancy, and red for the mayor, because red was my dad’s favorite color. Blue, not surprisingly, was the color least vis- ible on the entire calendar. It was sporadically used, even from my vantage point, which meant that Cooper had a light schedule this week. 

Shocking. I chewed the pen cap, irritated. Nancy continued reading off meeting after meeting throughout the week. 

“These two on Thursday—I can probably sit in on them to give you a break, Emma,” she offered. 

NINA BOCCI 6 

Looking over Nancy’s shoulder, I marveled at the Technicolor scheduling system. It might have been old-fashioned, but at least it looked good. 

Shaking my head, I pointed at the partially torn yellow Post-it stuck on the edge of the frame. That was how my father added mayoral meetings to the calendar. Stickies. He was nothing if not professional. “No can do, my friend. You’re going to be at a ribbon cutting with Mayor Dad.” 

She looked up, her lips a thin, flat line. “I am? He didn’t tell me.” Sighing, she jotted the information down. “I wish he’d told me I was supposed to go, too!” 

She took her calendar duties very seriously. I for one appreci- ated it, and I knew my father did, too, even if he did use his own odd system to add to it. It kept all of us in line. 

Together, Nancy and I figured out the rest of the week, Coo- per staying silent and, surprise surprise, on his phone. We looked over the days, pointing and crossing out, trying in vain to find somewhere to squeeze in a last sit-down. “It’s not going to work,” I lamented, sinking into the chair beside her. 

“Well, someone from the department needs to at least show their face at the city events meeting,” she urged, looking point- edly at Cooper. A notebook was now on his lap, his hand moving swiftly over the page. He didn’t look up when she said his name or when she repeated it a few seconds later. He was too deeply invested in whatever he was doing. 

At least he’s off the phone. Tearing the Post-it off the calendar and balling it up in her fist, Nancy lobbed it at him. “Cooper!” she shouted, snapping her fingers as if she were telling a dog to sit. 

Fitting. He smiled at her. “I’m listening.” “Uh-huh, we need you to take a meeting or two on Thursday so Emma can head down to the lake to meet Drew and Luke. Unless you’d rather take the HLBC meeting.” 

ON THE CORNER OF LOVE AND HATE 7 

“Thursday?” he repeated, sliding his phone out from behind the notebook. 

When did he take that out? He was stealthy like a teen texting in class. 

With a shrug, he shook his head. “Sorry, I’m booked all day and I’ve got a campaign publicity debrief at noon. That’s taking up most of the afternoon.” 

“Doesn’t that just mean you and Henry are meeting at the diner to play on Facebook and Twitter together?” I scoffed, feeling the blood rushing to my face. 

Henry was one of my and Cooper’s oldest friends. As a teacher, he had limited time to meet up with Cooper, so I understood Cooper’s reticence to reschedule, but— 

Then it hit me. “Wait . . . why are you having mayoral meet- ings during work and school? How’s Henry getting out of class to meet you?” 

Setting his phone down, he stood and straightened his tie. “I’ll have you know, I’m meeting him at the high school. I wish I could help, but alas—” 

“You can’t,” I finished, sliding out of my chair to stand myself. With Cooper running for mayor of Hope Lake, the brunt of his work at the CDO was taking a backseat. I noticed, the staff noticed, and the mayor noticed. If it had been anyone else, they probably would have been fired, but Cooper was Hope Lake’s golden boy. Once he was elected, we could hire someone new to replace him. But until that happened, it fell to us to pick up his slack. 

Cooper walked toward the door, leaving his phone—aka his most prized possession—on the conference table. Surely he would be back in for it the second he realized it wasn’t attached to his hand. 

“Wait, you can’t leave!” Nancy called after him. “I need the theater proposal paperwork. You guys have that meeting with the council on Monday and the mayor wants the weekend to review 

NINA BOCCI 8the specs. Cooper, it has to be before end of day since you have the debate tomorrow! Everything is done, right? Please tell me it’s done.” “It’s handled,” Cooper said smoothly over his shoulder, tap- ping his temple. “And it’s not a debate. It’s a photo op, remember? Pose, smile, shake hands. You know, the usual.” 

“Thank God. I don’t have time today to do it if you didn’t,” she said, pretend wiping her brow. 

Smiling broadly, he clapped his hands together. “Oh, come on, Nance. Have I ever left you hanging?” 

Her silence spoke volumes. If she’d had the time, and the inclination, she could have created a depressing list of how often that had happened. 

Looking uncomfortable at Nancy’s lack of response, Cooper disappeared through the door, only to reappear two seconds later. “That would have been bad!” he said with a tight smile, jogging in to grab the iPhone. 

“Cooper, are you sure you can’t reschedule your Thursday plans with Henry until after work so Emma isn’t pulled in nine- teen directions?” Nancy said quickly. “It’s just about the local sports participation in the Thanksgiving parade. They’re looking for guidance with the floats and theming—it won’t exactly take up all your brain space. The other is an initial meeting to see if the CDO can finally purchase the old bank.” Nancy already had a blue Sharpie at the ready, clutched between her fingers. “Or if you wanted to switch with Emma, you could meet with Drew and Luke and Emma could handle the parade instead. You’d probably get some free beer out of it.” 

For a moment, he looked like he was going to agree. His jawline ticked anxiously, a habit he’d had since we were kids. It appeared whenever he struggled with a decision. Reluctantly, I admitted to myself that it was happening more often than not. 

“I’m really sorry, I can’t,” he finally said. “You know how im- portant these meetings are for the core of my campaign. I’ve got to run. I’m late.” 

ON THE CORNER OF LOVE AND HATE 9 

I glanced at the clock. “It’s barely four.” “I have a thing.” “You came in at ten because of a ‘thing.’ ” I air-quoted it be- cause although he said those things were for the mayoral cam- paign, I didn’t believe him. Call it years of experience or just a gut feeling. “Cooper, I need you to focus. You’re all over the place, and things are going to start falling through the cracks here. We can’t afford any missteps. Not when we’re under a microscope. The council is looking for any reason to put the screws in this department.” 

Cooper’s opponent, Kirby Rogers, had been on the town coun- cil for the past few years. He had made it his mission to strip the CDO—funding, staff, all of it gone. 

With nothing but a grimace, Cooper left, leaving no opening for discussion. I shook my head at his retreating form. 

“Forget him, I’ll figure it out,” I said, glancing between the cal- endar with the work appointments and my nearly empty personal calendar. “I can pop over to the brewery and see Drew and Luke on my way home Tuesday or Friday night. They owe me dinner, anyway,” I said with a weak laugh, an attempt at loosening the anxiety-ridden ball in my stomach. How am I going to accom- plish all of this? “Just see when they’re free.” I tapped away on my phone. Making a note, I double-checked my iPhone’s calendar as Nancy read off the rest of the upcoming schedule. 

“Emma,” she said with a heavy sigh, “I don’t want you to over- work yourself.” 

“I’m fine. It’s an adjustment we’re going to have to get used to since we’re going to be picking up all the Cooper slack,” I insisted, knowing that she was always worried about me in a big-sisterly sort of way. “Promise,” I said after seeing her frown. 

Months ago, before he had decided to run for mayor and before he had become so distracted by the election, Cooper had been an asset. I longed for those days. He had a gift, an ability to coax the very best of ideas out of you, and he transformed them into solid 

NINA BOCCI 10plans that we then presented to Mayor Dad and the town council. His undivided input would have been valuable here. 

That part of Cooper I respected and enjoyed working with. Pre-candidate Cooper. Except lately, so much had changed. I missed the focused Cooper. The guy who would pull together a presentation in just a few hours. The guy I could count on to bring the best ideas out of me when I thought I had hit a wall. Or even the guy who got his work done on time. I hated myself a little bit because I was missing that coworking partnership. We did make a good team when we weren’t arguing. 

“Not for anything, but you’d think he’d want to head over to Hope Lake Brewing Company to see the guys.” 

“His head was so buried in his phone, he probably didn’t hear you mention them.” 

Nancy nodded. “What do you think? Is this going to get better or worse as the campaign progresses?” She packed up her Sharp- ies and hoisted the large calendar off the table, mindful not to drop any of the Post-its and papers tacked to it. 

I slung my arm over her shoulder. “Worse. So much worse.” 
 

 
 

Reviewed by Sharon Thérèse at KFF

I was so excited when Nina’s publicist invited me to read On the Corner of Love and Hate and let’s be frank, the title couldn’t be more perfect! And although Nina’s covered the friends-to-enemies-to-lovers trope pretty darn well, this first stand-alone in the Hopeless Romantics series has so much more to offer. Smalltown romance is one of my favourite subgenres; throw in a race for mayor in a politically charged campaign spices up the read no end. Bocci’s given life to loveable characters whose rib-tickling one-liners had me grinning from ear to ear. Realistically narrated and despite my ignorance regarding US politics, learning what goes on behind the scenes kept my interest piqued throughout the book.

So, Emma Peroni’s dad is the mayor and decides it’s time to call it a day, making room for new blood. Leaving his position in the capable hands of the town’s blue-eyed boy he’d watched grow up was on the cards. Trouble was, Cooper Campbell-Endicott needed help and fast. His sense of loyalty to Hope Lake’s constituents is unquestionable, but convincing them to vote for him is hard work, especially seeing as his opponent’s not playing fair.

Coop and Emma had been the best of friends since youngsters but when they returned home after finishing their studies, something just didn’t feel right. I liked how I didn’t get to find out what caused them to fall out until quite a way into the read. Working in the same office complicated matters even further, and signs of a huge lack in communication kept cropping up. This made me question Emma’s stance many a time because I wanted her to be more honest with her feelings.

Emma holds her own up to a certain point. She’s a feisty lass and goodness me, does she work her you know what’s off! In the first place, she’s been cajoled into being campaign manager against her better judgement. Not only is she the best candidate to troubleshoot, but she also knows the ins and outs from her father. Although the idea seemed logical at the time, having to deal with someone who’d been brought in to help causes an inner turmoil. I can’t say her attitude towards this person surprised me, but she’s strong, discrete and well…thoroughly kickass.

I really liked how the story revolved around Coop’s family’s historical reputation and despite him wanting to carry on the political legacy, he comes up against pretty difficult problems. Emma respects his mother, the governor. Listening to her advice as one would do after having had quite a tight relationship with the family over the years didn’t exactly convince Emma or me. There seemed to be far too much water under the bridge to let bygones be bygones.

I couldn’t quite work out which one of these two dug their heels in more. Iron-willed, it felt like the Clash of the Titans on nearly every page I turned. Their constant bickering drove me around the bend, but the quirky banter made up for them constantly having a go at each other. On reflection, their persistence to win the elections together was without a doubt, a goal on a much more personal level than just politics. Dormant feelings knocked at the door; proving that they’d both chosen not to address certain issues… On Emma’s part, I think it was out of cowardice. On Coop’s, I truly believed he thought she’d look for all the excuses to turn him away.

Harsh, eh? I have to say I unjustly blamed Coop most of the time. Stressed out, he couldn’t have envisaged winning without Emma by his side. They needed to see what was staring them in the face personally and professionally. Both families are perfectly imperfect. Getting to know their life-long friends was a joy and I hope to see them in this series. Narrated from Emmanuella’s POV as Coop insists on calling her, left me yearning for his side of the story. That being said, this romance is totally worth reading. Bravo, Nina!

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MEET ME ON LOVE LANE from the USA TODAY bestselling author of On the Corner of Love and Hate is the second book in Hopeless Romantics. Coming 10th December, pre-order is now available! 

Meet the woman who grudgingly returns home to small-town Pennsylvania, only to find herself falling in love—not only with the town, but with two of its citizens in this laugh-out-loud romantic comedy!

Charlotte Bishop is out of options in New York City. Fired, broke, and blacklisted by her former boss, she’s forced to return to her hometown of Hope Lake, PA to lick her wounds. Although she’s expecting to find a miserable place with nothing to do, she is pleasantly surprised to discover it is bustling and thriving.

She’s only supposed to be in Hope Lake temporarily until she can earn enough money to move back to New York. She’s not supposed to reconnect with her childhood friends or her beloved grandmother. She’s not supposed to find her dream job running the local florist shop. And she’s definitely not supposed to fall for not one but two of Hope Lake’s golden boys: one the beloved high school English teacher, the other the charming town doctor.

With a heart torn between two men and two cities, what’s a girl to do?

A perfect blend of humor and heart, Meet Me on Love Lane is the second in a new series from USA TODAY bestselling author Nina Bocci that is sure to charm fans of Josie Silver and Sally Thorne.

Releasing December 10th, pre-order is available now!

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The Ingredients of You and Me from the USA TODAY bestselling author of On the Corner of Love and Hate is the third book in Hopeless Romantics. Coming 28th April 2020, pre-order is now available! 

After selling her successful bakery back in New York, Parker Powell decides to visit her best friend Charlotte in Hope Lake, Pennsylvania, to figure out her next steps. As she acquaints herself with the people in town, she begins to wonder why she ever loved city life in the first place. Between the Golden Girls (a.k.a. the senior citizen women who hold court), the response from the town to her sweet treats, and Nick Arthur, the ever-charming local owner of a landscaping business she spent time with during her last visit, Parker finds a community of cheerleaders who encourage her to get her baking mojo back.

At first, everything is great—she collaborates with the Golden Girls to put new twists on traditional confections, and thanks to Nick’s advice, she quickly learns the stark differences between big city and small-town business practices. Although Nick has become her friend and confidant, Parker’s determined to keep things platonic—especially since his girlfriend isn’t a fan of their friendship. But just when things fall into place so they can finally be together, Parker’s dream bakery is threatened by a major corporation who wants to take her down using the very bit of advice that Nick gave her.

With a recipe for disaster looming, Parker must cook up a new scheme, figuring out how to keep the business—and man—she’s come to love before she loses it all.

Perfect for fans of Amy E. Reichert and Jenny Colgan, The Ingredients of You and Me is a scrumptious romantic comedy that lets you have your cake and eat it too.

Pre-order your copy today!

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NINA BOCCI is a USA TODAY bestselling novelist that loves reading and writing about swoony, relatable heroes and smart, witty heroines. If it’s set in a small town, even better. You can always find her chatting on social media about her massive, crazy Italian family, and her favorite person in the world, her son.

 

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CHAPTER REVEAL ~ CRUEL PRINCE by Ashley Jade

Today we are thrilled to be sharing a chapter from Cruel Prince (Royal Hearts Academy #1) by Ashley Jade, releasing 20th August!

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Welcome to their kingdom…

I never thought I’d step foot in Royal Manor again.
But five years later, here I am…back to finish my senior year at Royal Hearts Academy.

And forced to face Jace Covington.
My first friend. First crush. First kiss.
The one I left behind.

Only—he isn’t the same boy I gave my heart to.

This new Jace is as cruel as he is gorgeous.
And he’s determined to make my life a living hell.
Along with the rest of his glorified family and crew of tyrants.

They expect me to worship the ground they walk on like everyone else, but I’d rather eat dirt.

If Jace Covington wants me gone…he’ll have to try harder.
Because I’ve never been the kind of girl to play by the rules.

WARNING: Royal Hearts Academy is a New Adult/High School series of standalones filled with drama, a touch of angst, and boys who are bad to the bone.

This series is recommended for mature readers due to graphic language and sexual content.

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**Please note: Cruel Prince will go live on Amazon on release day and will be going into Kindle Unlimited, so if you’re a non-Amazon reader, make sure to preorder so you don’t miss out!**

CHAPTER REVEAL

© 2019 Ashley Jade
All rights reserved.

 
Thanks to another Post-it note from Aunt Crystal, I was able to figure out which guest bedroom she cleared out for me. Although cleared out is a bit of an understatement. Aside from the queen-sized bed covered with a purple bedspread, an empty bureau, and yet another Post-it note promising to take me shopping later in the week…the room is bare bones. 

Not that I mind. I managed to stuff my entire life into one duffle bag and a medium suitcase. No-frills suits me. 

Less shit to get attached to

I open the closet door to hang up some of my clothes, but three plaid skirts, three crisp, white button-down shirts, and three navy blazers snag my attention instead. 

The Royal Hearts Academy emblem above the left breast pockets practically taunts me. 

I wasn’t in a position to make any requests considering my aunt and her husband were nice enough to take in a stray—but the one thing I insisted on was attending the local public school instead of Royal Hearts Academy. My dad forced me to go to private school for elementary and junior high and it was one of the worst experiences of my life. 

The organ in my chest squeezes. With the exception of meeting Jace

Of course, the one thing I wanted was the one thing Crystal’s husband wasn’t willing to negotiate on given it’s my cousin’s—technically, step-cousin’s—senior year and he attends RHA. 

Wayne thinks it would be beneficial for me to go to school with his son Oakley, so I’ll have someone to show me the ropes. 

However, it’s clear good ol’ Uncle Wayne must not be very observant. I only met him once briefly at my aunt’s wedding four years ago, but a quick scroll through Oakley’s Instagram suggests he’s about as useful as a goldfish at a Bob Marley concert. 

And by useful? I mean, stoned. 

Which probably explains why he didn’t pick me up from the airport like he was supposed to, or why I still haven’t seen any signs of him…despite being here all afternoon and most of the evening.  

I send him another text, but just like the first ten I sent today, he doesn’t respond. 

Curiosity getting the best of me, I slip out the door of my new room and venture down the long hallway. My aunt said there were six bedrooms in the house—but after knocking on several doors, it’s obvious Oakley isn’t in any of them. 

Stifling a groan, I amble down the staircase and wander into the kitchen. Much like the rest of the house, the kitchen is spacious, and everything looks expensive, but price aside, it’s pretty standard. Stainless steel appliances, glass table, large granite island in the center. 

And no Oakley. 

After checking the living room, my uncle Wayne’s office, and the bathroom on the first floor, I make my way down the stairs leading to the basement. 

The smell of marijuana infiltrates my nostrils almost immediately. 

I’m not a buzzkill, I have no issues with people who smoke—what I have an issue with is people who indulge so much they forget the important stuff. 

Like answering text messages or picking their step-cousin up at the airport.

The big screen television—which is currently broadcasting two naked girls grinding against one another to awful mumble rap—illuminates the basement enough I’m able to see the back of a leather couch. The smoke wafting toward the ceiling fan tells me there’s a good chance I’ll find Oakley on the other side of it. 

I don’t know whether to laugh or shake my head as I round the corner and see him passed out with one hand down his pants and the other holding what appears to be a partially smoked blunt. 

The baseball cap he’s wearing hides most of his face, but he definitely looks like he’s been asleep for a while. How the house hasn’t burnt down is anyone’s guess.

I’m about to dispose of the still lit blunt and go back upstairs…but then he speaks. 

“Hey, babe.” 

Uh. Kind of weird, but considering I’ve been called worse by strangers, I decide to roll with it. 

“Hey.” 

“I was wondering when you’d get here,” he murmurs, his voice thick with sleep.

I tamp down the urge to tell him I would have been here sooner if he picked me up from the goddamn airport like he was supposed to. 

We’re going to be stuck together for the next year and bitching at him isn’t a good way to start a relationship. 

I open my mouth to ask if he wants to grab a bite to eat later, but he speaks again. 

“You’re so fucking hot.” 

Okay, this train has officially reached awkward station.

“Um. Thank—” 

Before I can finish that sentence, he shoves his sweatpants down and…

Oh. My. God. 

Bile works up my throat as he wraps his hand around his exposed dick.

“Come on, beautiful,” he groans. “Quit teasing me and sit on it.”

I’m positive I must have a contact high because that’s the only way to explain why the actual fuck my step-cousin is summoning me to sit on his penis. 

“Gross. What is wrong with you?” 

Shielding my vision with my hands, I proceed to back away. Unfortunately, I knock into the coffee table so hard I see stars. 

“Dammit,” I yelp, gripping my throbbing calf.

“You’re not Hayley.”

Talk about stating the obvious

“No shit, Sherlock.” I make the huge mistake of looking up. “Oh, my God, dude. Can you please put your wiener away?”

 “Sure thing,” the pervert says, rising from the couch. “As soon as you tell me who the hell you are and why you’re in my house.” 

He has got to be kidding me

“Seriously?” I point to myself. “I’m Dylan.”

He tilts his head to the side, like he’s having trouble understanding why my name would have any significance to him. 

“Your cousin,” I grit through my teeth and he blanches. 

Eureka

I breathe a sigh of relief as he pulls up his pants. 

“You’re not supposed to be here until Saturday.” 

“It is Saturday,” I inform him, and his eyes widen. 

 “Well, shit.” He places the blunt between his lips and inhales. “This stuff is better than I thought.” Coughing, he holds it out to me. “Want some?” 

I give him a sardonic smile. “I appreciate the peace offering and all, but I’ll pass.” 

He doesn’t look offended in the least. “That’s cool.” His expression turns serious as he snuffs the cherry of the blunt on a can of soda. “Look, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t tell the parental units I tried to bang you, okay? They’re on my case enough lately.” 

Oakley doesn’t have to worry. I won’t be telling anyone he tried to bang me. 

I give him a nod.  

He nods back.

And then it’s nothing but uncomfortable silence. 

Quite the riveting exchange we’re having here. 

“It’s Saturday night,” he declares unexpectedly while stretching his arms over his head and yawning. “Christian’s throwing his big end of summer party before school starts.” 

I don’t know who Christian is, but I wouldn’t mind going to a party. In fact, meeting a few people and reconnecting with some old friends before school starts will probably make things easier for me on Monday. 

My heart does a little flip. Maybe Jace will be there

There are so many things I want to tell him. 

And even more things I want to ask him. 

Like why he blocked my number. Or why he never returned any of the dozens of messages I sent him on social media after I left. 

“A party sounds like fun. I can be rea—”

“Don’t wait up,” Oakley utters, brushing past me. 

Well, that settles that then. My cousin is a bigger tool than the one contained in his pants. 

“By the way,” he calls out from the stairs. “The school admins are assholes. I doubt they’ll let you keep that blue crap in your hair.”

Highlights. They’re called highlights. 

A smile touches my lips. I hope they hate my blue hair so much they refuse admission and I have no choice but to attend Royal Manor High instead. 
 

 
 

MEET ASHLEY

Ashley Jade loves to tackle different genres and tropes within romance. Her first loves are New Adult Romance and Romantic Suspense, but she also writes everything in between including: contemporary romance, erotica, and dark romance.

Her characters are flawed and complex, and chances are you will hate them before you fall head over heels in love with them.

She’s a die-hard lover of oxford commas, em dashes, music, coffee, and anything thought provoking…except for math.

Books make her heart beat faster and writing makes her soul come alive. She’s always read books growing up and scribbled stories in her journal, and after having a strange dream one night; she decided to just go for it and publish her first series.

It was the best decision she ever made.

If she’s not paying off student loan debt, working, or writing a novel—you can usually find her listening to music, hanging out with her readers online, and pondering the meaning of life.

Check out her amazon page and Facebook page for future novels.
She recently became hip and joined Twitter, so you can find her there, too.
She loves connecting with her readers—they make her world go round’.

Connect WITH ASHLEY

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TEASER & EXCERPT REVEAL ~ DARE: A ROCK STAR HERO by S.L. Scott

We’re a Hurricane in the Making.

Today we are thrilled to be sharing a brand new teaser and excerpt for DARE: A ROCK STAR HERO by S.L. Scott, releasing 15th August.

Cover Design: Letitia Hasser of RBA Designs
Photography by Rafa G. Catala
Model: Anselmo Menéndez Arias

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Dare Marquis is a bad boy rock star with a body to match.Cocky.
Devilish good looks.
A voice that commands attention.

A night with him and no strings attached is just what I need. But he makes it impossible to not want more when he runs his hand through his dark, wild hair and smiles. One he only shares with me.

Weatherly Beck is an angel with a body made for sin.

Whip-smart.
Drop dead gorgeous.
Too good for any guy from the east side.

Her life is planned out, so I don’t have a right to step in and mess up her future. But when I look into her sapphire blue eyes and taste the innocence on her lips, I know we’re meant to be more than a one-night stand.

I want her to take a chance on me, to take a chance on us. She may not be a damsel in distress, but I Dare her to let me be her Hero.

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Here

MEET THE AUTHOR

New York Times and USA Bestselling Author, S. L. Scott, was always interested in the arts. She grew up painting, writing poetry and short stories, and wiling her days away lost in a good book and the movies.

With a degree in Journalism, she continued her love of the written word by reading American authors like Salinger and Fitzgerald. She was intrigued by their flawed characters living in picture perfect worlds, but could still debate that the worlds those characters lived in were actually the flawed ones. This dynamic of leaving the reader invested in the words, inspired Scott to start writing with emotion while interjecting an underlying passion into her own stories.

Living in the capital of Texas with her family, Scott loves traveling and avocados, beaches, and cooking with her kids. She’s obsessed with epic romances and loves a good plot twist. She dreams of seeing one of her own books made into a movie one day as well as returning to Europe. Her favorite color is blue, but she likens it more toward the sky than the emotion. Her home is filled with the welcoming symbol of the pineapple and finds surfing a challenge though she likes to think she’s a pro.

FOLLOW S.L

Newsletter Website The Scott Scoop | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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EXCERPT REVEAL ~ THE TRUTH ABOUT US by R.C. Stephens

THE TRUTH ABOUT US, a second chance sexy new stand-alone romance by R.C. Stephens is coming 7th August, and we have an excerpt and the pre-order links for you!

 

Jolie
Griffin Campbell was the typical bad boy. My father warned me not to get too close. But he’s handsome as hell with eyes the color of the ocean, and he’s fiercely loyal and loves unconditionally. I couldn’t stay away when he was the only boy to ever claim my heart. I gave him all my firsts . . . and he left me behind.
Ten years later, he’s returned home offering answers as to why he left because he wants me back—only I’m not the broken-hearted teenager he once fell for. His pretty eyes and killer muscles aren’t enough to mend the hurt that rages inside me.

 

Griffin
Jolie Bryant was my best friend’s little sister. She’s sexy as hell, sweet as sin, and very forbidden—my favorite memory and my biggest regret.
I should stay away. I’m harboring secrets that will shatter her world.
The thing about secrets is that they always find a way to come out. I just hope that when mine do, she won’t turn away from me . . .
I want my second chance with the only girl I’ve ever loved, but it seems that fate has other plans. Full-length standalone novel. For mature audiences only.

 

Pre-order your copy today or read in KU!

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EXCERPT

© 2019 R.C. Stephens
All rights reserved. 

I throw my head back, laughing and happy that playful Jojo is back. “I remember the first time we kissed,” I say, looking into her eyes. She swallows. Her earlier playfulness falls away and is replaced with a serious, heated stare. “I remember the first time we danced.” My finger caresses the bare skin of her shoulder, and her green eyes go from shining emerald to a dark forest green.  

            “Griff,” she whispers a warning. 

            “I want to kiss you so bad.” My voice is gruff and filled with a need that far outweighs any craving for gelato. I don’t wait for her answer because the way she watches me has me undone. 

            My lips press to hers slowly, a soft caress, a begging for permission. Her fingers come up and rake through my hair, tugging me closer. My tongue peeks from my mouth, begging entrance to hers as she opens willingly.  

The kiss is slow and testing at first. I’m scared of pushing too hard and having her pull away. She says she doesn’t want more, but the chemistry between us beats alive and strong. Her taste sets my body on fire as a million memories come crashing through my mind. Electricity sparks inside me, making me feel alive for the first time in what feels like forever. And now, with a simple kiss, I have come undone. My lonely heart beats in time with hers. My thumb brushes over the pulse point in her neck, and it thumps wild like mine.

“Jolie,” I say her name like a prayer. 

“What are we doing?” she murmurs into my mouth. 

“What feels right,” I answer into hers. Primal instinct begs me to take her on this kitchen counter and make her mine. My fingers pull at her scalp and she moans into my mouth, and my hard-on pulses to her sweet noises. The kiss intensifies until we are both breathless and panting when suddenly, she pulls away from me, pressing her hands to my shoulders.

MEET R.C. STEPHEN

R.C. Stephens is a top 100 Amazon best selling author. She has written ten romance novels and plans to continue to write many more. 

When she isn’t in her writing cave she is raising three lovely children with her adoring husband.

Her books are filled with humor, heartbreak, emotion and true love. 

Born and raised in Toronto, she loves the winter, but Spring and Fall are her favorite seasons. 

Keep up with R.C. by signing up to her newsletter

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EXCERPT REVEAL ~ HARD LINE by A.D. Justice

Today we are thrilled to be sharing an excerpt from HARD LINE (Crossing Lines #3) by A.D. Justice, releasing 2nd August.

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My rule: Never let an old flame burn you twice.

Other people gave second chances—I didn’t. My modus operandi was to move on to the next girl in line and forget the previous one.

So when Tawnee Milano said she needed her space, I let her go. Then I left our mutual employer for a new job with the CIA and didn’t look back.

But a coded distress message from her sends me right back to where I was when we first split up. The possibility of losing her forever forces me to relax my rigid stance. With her life in danger, I’m finally facing my true feelings for her.

Mottos are all fine and good in theory. Not so much in practice.

Now my hard line policy is to get her back—and keep her this time.

EXCERPT

© 2019 A.D. Justice
All rights reserved. 

 

“Listen, I’m going to tell you this one last time as your friend. If you’re my friend, you need to listen to what I have to say because I’m as fucking tired of repeating myself as I am of hearing you repeat yourself.

“One. It’s time for you to face the truth.”

“Two. You are not over being dumped.”

“Three. You’re not over her moving halfway around the world and never calling you to say goodbye when she left the country.”

“Four. You are nowhere near being over Tawnee.”

“Five. You’re in love with the woman. Still. To this very day. If she walked into this bakery right now and said she wanted you back, you’d jump for fucking joy. And so would I, because at least you’d have a new fucking story to tell.”

Blake bites into his bagel, tearing it with excessive force, and glares at me over his coffee cup.

“That’s ridiculous. How do you get that from what I just told you?”

“Because I’m not a fucking moron, Roman. Unlike you. That’s how.”

“You’re so full of shit. I don’t give second chances, Blake. One and done—that’s how I manage my relationship issues. Plain and simple. No fuss, no muss. No complications. No baggage. No unresolved issues.”

“Yeah, I got it, man. You’re still full of shit, for the record. I stick by my original statement and assessment of you.”

We walk out of the restaurant and stroll down the street, keeping our target in sight without giving away our position.

My phone vibrates with an incoming text, so I fish it out of my pocket and quickly glance at the screen. My attention is on my mark, but when I glance down at the screen, I forget all about my mission.

I forget about my job.

I forget about my mark. I forget why I’m following him.

After three long years, Tawnee has sent me a message. But it’s not just any message. To anyone else, it appears to be a string of letters and numbers with no discernible pattern. But I know better. I recognize the secret code on sight. With a quick copy and paste into our own software program and our specific key, I decode the message and nearly let my phone slip through my fingers when I read what it says.

 

 
 

Meet the Author

A.D. Justice is the USA Today bestselling author of the Steele Security Series, the Crossing Lines series, the Vault series, the Crazy Series, the Dominic Powers series, the Immortal Obsessions series (Immortal Envy, and Immortal Love is coming!), and several stand-alone romance novels.

When she’s not writing, she’s spending time with her own alpha male character in their north Georgia mountain home. She is also an avid reader of romance novels, a master at procrastination, a chocolate sommelier, a twister of words, and speaks fluent sarcasm. An avid animal lover, A.D. Justice has two horses, three cats, and two very spoiled dogs.

While the primary focus of her books have been romantic suspense, she has plans to expand into different sub-genres of romance. Stay tuned to read what she has in store for you!

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