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CHAPTER REVEAL ~ CARNIVAL by JANE HARVEY-BERRICK

 

 

Author: Jane Harvey-Berrick

Title: Carnival

Series: A Standalone Story in The Traveling Series

Release Date: 26th December, 2017

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Empty inside, cold in his heart, Zef turned to whisky and drugs to fill the void.

Instead, he ended up with a prison sentence and a new determination to get clean and make something of his life.

Since his release, Zef has been on the road, finding his spiritual home with a traveling carnival and working as a motorcycle stunt rider.

Live fast, live hard, keep moving.

He doesn’t want to be tied down to anyone or anything. Fiercely loyal, the only people he cares about are his brother and his carnie family.

Until a crazy girl who’s run away to join the circus crashes into his world.
But now his old life is catching up with him, and Zef has to choose a new road.

A standalone story, and the last one in the TRAVELING SERIES.

 

 

Heredity

I watched the flames leap and dance, sending a shower of sparks into the sky as one of the logs caught light.

Even though the daytime temperatures had soared into the nineties, it was considerably cooler now and everyone gathered around the circle of fire. It was a carnie tradition that went way back, signaling the end of another day.

Tonight was special because it was the penultimate night at this pitch, and our last chance to take it easy for a few days. The final night was always crazy busy because it was a jump day—which meant that all the roustabouts were taking down the carnival rides and packing everything back into the rigs, then driving through the night to get to the next town by morning, to set up for the following afternoon, when the whole cycle started over again.

In fact, the 24-Hour Man had already left. He was the guy who went ahead, signposting the way for the rest of us to follow. It may not sound important, but you don’t want fifteen eight-wheelers getting stuck or ending up driving down a one lane road to the wrong field.

So tonight was our night—our time to kick back, relax, and visit with other carnies.

“Bro, you look like someone just kicked your dog. What’s up with you? You’ve been a pain in my ass all week.”

Tucker left the others by the fire and squatted down beside me, ignoring the fuck-off vibes I’d been giving everyone else.

“What’s eating you, man? Tell Uncle Tucker all about it.”

Tucker was a year younger than me, but sometimes he acted like a teenager and spoke like a California surfer, if you ignored his Tennessee accent. We were all like that in the carnival—mongrels who didn’t call any place home, but everywhere was our kingdom and the road was our right.

He sighed when I didn’t reply and threw an arm around my shoulder.

“I know about Mirelle. Tough break, brother.”

I shot him an angry glance and he pulled a face.

“Mirelle called Aimee, Aimee told Kes, and well … you know how it goes.”

Yeah. I knew. Kes and Tucker were my family, my blood brothers—cut one, we all bleed. We didn’t keep secrets. And since Mirelle was Aimee’s best friend, I’d expected the news to circulate faster than it had. Perhaps she’d thought I’d tell them myself.

I should have, but I couldn’t do it. I didn’t want their pity.

“She wasn’t right for you,” Tucker said softly. “I like Mirelle, but she wasn’t going to make it as a carnie. She has roots and that big ole Puerto Rican family back on the East Coast.”

I knew he was right, but the sharp cut of disillusionment was hard to take. Aimee had lived out East and she’d followed Kes to the carnival; Tucker’s woman flew out to see him every couple of weeks. Why couldn’t that work for me?

I shrugged off his arm and stood up. I was ready to walk away when a thought stopped me in my tracks.

“Did she tell Aimee who the father is?”

“Yeah.” He stared down at the dirt, idly pushing his fingers through the tough, brown grass. “Some dude who teaches at the same school.”

Figured.

Suddenly Kes rose to his feet. Everyone stopped talking and we all turned to face him.

He stood with the fire at his back, the flames dancing behind as he faced us. His people, his family.

“I’ve got some news I want to share with you,” he said. “Perhaps I’d better say that we’ve got some news to share with you.”

He smiled at Aimee as she walked to his side, her eyes glowing with love as she looked at him, and he slid his arm around her waist.

“We’re going to be parents. By January, there’ll be a new little carnie joining the family.”
Yells and cheers rose from the carnies around the fire, then Tucker called out,

“Oh my God! Does that mean you’ve been having sex?”

“No, it’s an immaculate conception, dufus,” I muttered, slapping him around the back of the head.

Aimee shot Tucker a look that said he’d be paying for his dumb joke later.

Everyone crowded around offering congratulations.

“A new little stunt rider for the family business?” asked one of the carnies.

Kes shrugged, his whole body lit with happiness as men slapped him on the back or shook hands, and women kissed him on the cheek. Aimee was surrounded with her own admirers, smiling and laughing, glowing with joy as she turned to look at Kes to hear his answer.

“Our kid can be whatever he wants.”

“So, it’s a boy?”

“Maybe. We don’t know yet.”

When the crowd around them thinned, I walked over to give Aimee a kiss on the cheek. Then I turned to Kes.

“Congratulations, man. That’s great news.”

“Thanks, Zef. I appreciate it. And I wanted to ask you—Aimee wants the baby to be Christened, something old school, you know? So I was wondering if you’d be Godfather.”

That was the last thing I’d been expecting. I wasn’t the kind of guy that a kid could look up to.

Kes read the doubt on my face and laughed.

“I’m going to ask Tucker, too. So the kid will need at least one Godfather who’s not completely crazy.”

I grinned at him.

“Well, when you put it that way … I’m the lesser of two evils?”

“Something like that.” His voice sobered. “So, will you do it? If anything happened to me and Aimee…” he swallowed, a flicker of fear on his face, “if anything happened, I’d want to know that I could count on you.”

“Fuck, man, nothing’s gonna happen to you!”

“Yeah, but it could. We both know … we know it could and … I need to you to say it, man. I need to know that you’d be there. If I hadn’t had Dono to take care of me and Con, I’d have been in a fucking foster home. ”

I rubbed my hand across of my face.

“Of course. Of course I’d do it—anything.”

I stuck out my hand and he shook it before pulling me into a swift hug.

“Thanks, Zef.”

I nodded, then asked the question that had been burning me since he’d made his announcement.

“Are you scared … about being a father?

Kes cocked his head to one side, thinking about it.”

“Nah, I couldn’t fuck it up as bad as Mom the alcoholic or dear ole dad who barely knew I existed, or cared. Anyway, I’ve got Aimee to keep me straight.”

He grinned and turned to accept more congratulations from other carnies.

I walked away, surprised by the emotions I was feeling.

Kes, a father!

That was some pretty serious shit. Coming on top of Mirelle’s news, I was feeling off kilter. I tried not to picture her with a guy who wore a collared shirt to work, some nice, safe townie who’d give her security. But she deserved that. She deserved more than a tatted up wiseass who jumped motorcycles for a living—a man with a criminal record who’d served time in prison.

Someone walked over my grave and a shiver ran down my spine. I’d cleaned up my act since then and I wasn’t ever going back.

And I meant what I’d said to Kes: if anything happened to him and Aimee, I’d take care of their kid. Fuck knows what kind of parent I’d be, but he’d asked me and I’d sure as hell try.

The breeze had picked up since sunset and I could see the tops of the distant trees swaying blackly against the rising moon.

The Ferris wheel was still and silent, a towering monument to man’s desire for mindless pleasure. It didn’t go anywhere, it didn’t do anything—except give the illusion of movement. And wasn’t that what the carnival was all about? Cheap thrills for a few bucks before moving on to the next small town. And yet, even with the existence of Netflix, tablets and smartphones, people still came, searching for a little of that stardust, that elusive magic, the freewheeling world of the carnies. Maybe that was what made it so unreal: we’d arrive in the half-light of dawn, and by the evening a world of bright neon and music erupted from an empty field. A few days of eating cotton candy and corn dogs, a few moments of adrenaline as you were whirled around the Tilt-A-Whirl or rode the bumper cars, and then we’d vanish in the night, leaving patches of flattened grass and an empty field.

I pushed my hands into my jean pockets and stared up at the moon as if it had called my name.

How many years did I have before my body broke down, before my knees or ankles or spine couldn’t take it anymore, when throwing myself through the air on 200 pounds of metal no longer seemed like a good idea? Then what? What would my life be then?

“The Cheyenne tell a story that the moon was held by a warring tribe, so a pair of antelope tried to rescue the moon and take it to a good village. But Coyote, the trickster, decides to make trouble and the antelope chase him. Coyote tosses the moon into a river each night, just out of reach of the antelope.”

I didn’t turn around as Ollo spoke.

“Is that supposed to mean something to me, old man?”

I heard his soft chuckle behind me, a wheezing hiccupping laugh.

“Nope, it’s just a story about the moon.”

“Great, thanks for that. Very educational.”

He sat down behind me, ignoring the obvious message that I didn’t want company.
I felt a soft tug on my pants leg as Bo started to climb me like a jungle gym, nestling into me and throwing his thin arms around my neck, chattering in my ear.

“Damn monkey doesn’t know when he’s not wanted,” I grumbled, supporting Bo’s tiny furry body as he snuggled into my chest.

Ollo laughed again.

“I’d say he knows exactly when he’s wanted. Capuchins are smart critters—smarter than most damn humans.”

I sighed, knowing I wasn’t getting any alone time tonight.

I sat down on the bone-dry dirt next to Ollo, smiling as Bo took his chance to go scampering off into the darkness. For a moment, I listened to him rustling in the tall grasses at the side of the swing-boats and I leaned against the canvas backdrop of the Ghost Train.

When I was a kid back in Georgia, I used to try and sneak in under the canvas without paying when the carnival came to town. Sometimes I made it, and sometimes I got dragged out by a hard-faced carnie and sent packing with a smack to the back of the head.

It didn’t matter how many times that happened, I always snuck back. I was fascinated by the mechanics, all of those big machines whipping you into the air or speeding around in circles. I hadn’t heard of hydraulics or knew anything about the physics of gravity, but I loved the dirt and grease behind the scenes, and the rides that made people laugh and scream.

Now, I could take a ghost ride anytime I wanted, but I never did.

I sighed, wondering if the carnival would ever feel magical to me again.

“Good news about Kes and Aimee—new life. A child will keep the carnival alive.”

I nodded, but I wasn’t sure that Ollo was right. It was a hard life, the traveling carnival, and many of the smaller outfits had shut down or gone out of business. I knew as well as anyone that there were no guarantees in life, but I hoped Ollo was right.

“Yeah, I’m happy for them.”

I watched a shooting star shimmer across the sky, wondering what the world had in store for me, wondering if fate was planning some new torture.

“She wasn’t right for you, Zef.”

Ollo’s voice broke and squeaked like a twelve year-old boy, although his body was no taller than the average seven year-old.

Ollo was a dwarf and had lived his whole life in a traveling carnival. He’d done every job from clowning to tumbling, fire-eating and fire-breathing to knife-thrower and rodeo rider, fairground barker to roustabout, and everything in between. He was old now; no one knew how old, probably not even Ollo, but he’d been with Kes’s family since the second world war, so he must be at least eighty.

He probably weighed no more than ninety pounds. I could have picked him up and tossed him over my shoulder without a problem, but I had too much respect for him to do something like that.

So I sat back and listened to what he had to tell me.

“You’re the second person tonight to say that Mirelle wasn’t right for me,” I said, my voice wry.

Ollo spit a stream of tobacco juice onto the hard-packed soil, aiming at one of the iron tent pegs.

“Are you surprised? Her family has uprooted once—she wasn’t going to do it again. Not for you.”

“Feel free to sugarcoat it!”

“Aw, is the big, tough stunt rider feelin’ sorry for hisself?”

I shook my head.

“Nah. Just pissed that she was seeing someone else and didn’t tell me.”

There was a long silence and in the distance I could hear the sound of Luke’s guitar playing.

“I had a woman once,” Ollo said softly. “Long time ago.”

His voice was quiet and it sounded like a confession.

“She wasn’t like me,” he said. “She was a townie, a petite lil’ thing. Delicate all over, tiny waist. Taller than me, of course. We were in Boise for the summer and it was the swinging sixties. She had long straight hair, golden brown, the color of corn. I was a rodeo clown in those days, and she’d come to see the ponies. We got talking and became friends. I’d wait for her to come for me at night. We’d hold hands and sit watching the stars from the top of the Ferris wheel. We fell in love.”

“Sounds … nice?”

“Yeah, it was. She was going to come with me at the end of the summer,” he chuckled quietly. “Run away and join the circus.”

“But she changed her mind?”

Ollo shook his head.

“I don’t know. One night, she didn’t come. I waited every night, knowing that soon we’d be moving on. I went to look for her. In the town.”

I stared up at Ollo’s stars, knowing that this story didn’t have a happy ending. I imagined how brave he’d have to be, leaving the carnies—his people—to go look for this girl among strangers, among townies.

“I didn’t find her, but her father found me. Gave me what they used to call a damn good beat-down, and told me he wouldn’t let a deformed freak like me near his daughter. I don’t know if she’d been sent away or whether she was locked in her room, listening to her father whip me with his belt as I kicked and screamed and tried everything to fight him off. I always wondered about that.”

“Jesus, Ollo!”

My voice was quiet, shocked, and he was silent for a moment.

“You never saw her again?”

“Ah, but I did. Ten years later, we were in Boise again doing the northern circuit. By then, the music was louder and angrier. We were all trying to forget about Vietnam, and everything seemed a little wilder. Borders were breaking down, and even the townie boys were starting to wear their hair long. That’s when I saw her. She was with a rube and they had two kids—a boy and a girl, maybe seven or eight years old. They had her eyes, I remember that. She saw me watching her and she stared back. She smiled at me, then she turned and walked away.”

His voice disappeared, lost in memories.

“That was the last time I saw her. I never tried anything with a townie again.”

“What was her name?”

“Jeanie. Jeanie with the light brown hair.”

I heard the soft patter of Bo’s footsteps, and he appeared out of the darkness, his tiny body curling into Ollo’s arms as he chirruped quietly.

I watched Ollo stroke the soft gray-and-white fur.

“Am I supposed to take some deep meaning from that story?” I asked, hoping to lighten the mood.

Ollo coughed out a laugh.

“Nope, just a story about a boy and a girl under the stars.”

And then, as silently as he’d arrived, he stood up and walked away, Bo still cradled in his arms.

I leaned back against the canvas, thinking about everything he’d said. If I was honest with myself, I’d known from the start that me and Mirelle wouldn’t last, but it still stung that she’d obviously been with this other guy for a while. And that she’d picked someone who was the complete opposite of me.

I didn’t have any trouble hooking up with women who wanted a one-night stand with a biker carnie, but even I had to admit that had gotten old. And now Kes was married and about to become a father, and Tucker lived half the year with his woman in LA. Everything was changing.

I’d had a family once—Mom, Dad, and a little brother. I still had my brother, but he was a man full grown now, successful and living his own life. He didn’t need me anymore, and he definitely didn’t need the shit I’d brought to his door. It was better that I kept moving, kept those wheels rolling.

The other Daredevils were my brothers too, but now they all had partners and I was on the outside again.
Sometimes it felt so damn lonely.

 

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Writing is my passion and my obsession. I write every day and I love it. My head is full of stories and characters. I’ll never keep up with all my ideas!

I live in a small village by the ocean and walk my little dog, Pip, every day. It’s on those beachside walks that I have all my best ideas.

Writing has become a way of life – and one that I love to share.

 

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RELEASE BLITZ ~ EVEREST by S.L. SCOTT

 

Title: Everest

Author: S.L. Scott

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense

Release Date: December 7, 2017

Cover Design: Letitia Hasser ~ RBA Designs

Cover Image: Scott Hoover Photography

Add to your TBR 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

Six foot three. Dynamic green eyes. Utterly irresistible.

Ethan Everest stole my breath the first time I saw him. He romanced me with skill, dazzled me with his charisma, and proceeded to steal my heart right after.

I might have fallen for his easy going smile the first time we met, but I fell for him the second time.

Honey-colored hair. Cherry-kissed lips. Captivatingly gorgeous.

Singer Davis was the first, and only, woman to ever intimidate me. She spoke to my heart with her wit, seduced me with her eyes, and became the only thing that made sense in a world that made none.

I let her slip through my fingers once. I won’t make that mistake twice.

Secrets broke us apart. Can a second chance bring us back together?

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★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Reviewed by Tracey Lou on behalf of KFF

Yet again S L Scott nailed it. I was so excited to read this book and couldn’t wait to dive right on in there.

Singer Davis was a green-eyed brunette with a beautiful smile. She had moved to the bright lights of New York City from a small town and lived in a small apartment with her best friend Melanie. Both girls had big dreams but living in the big city was not living up to all that they had hoped it would be.

Ethan Everest was panty-dropping, knee-weakening handsome. All the ladies loved him and he loved all the ladies, until one bad decision cost him dearly in more ways than one. Once bitten twice shy maybe? He’d first seen Singer at a social gathering where they both had mutual friends. Instantly drawn to her, an encounter on the fire escape could have changed both their lives forever. But the time wasn’t right for both of them.

One year later and Ethan finally asks her out at another social gathering. Only she’s not quite sure where she stands with him. He wants to be friends and she wants more. Ethan can be quite elusive so Singer finds it quite hard to read him. He has secrets and is worried that once she knows them all,  she will think differently of him. And that is the question we all begin to ask and wonder. Will she or won’t she ? 

That is the question that I’m not going to give you the answer to! This is the part in my review where ! tell you to read the book. Ha ha!

Singer Davis was the  character in this book that I most connected with. She was sweet, gentle and always wanting to please everyone. They were a perfect match even if both of them were not willing to admit it to each other just yet.

I really loved the outline for this story. Singer and Ethan were two characters that complimented each other. Ethan was in torment. It had been a rough year for him and only now could he see a bright future in front of him. He was lonely no more. Letting singer into his life and into his heart was the best thing he ever did. Will they both get their happy ending?

This story was well written and the story flowed throughout with ease. I have read quite a few books from this author and to be truthful, she has become one of my favourites. Her style of writing makes every book she has written a worthwhile and stimulating read. My final comment on this book involves the sport of baseball.  I loved how the author incorporated her favourite baseball team, The Houston Astros into her story line, reminding me of the time I had spent in New York City with the team staying at my hotel. (Bet you wished you was there too, huh S L Scott!). *sticks out tongue* If I could give this read more that 5 stars I surely would. So well deserved! Congratulations S L Scott. 

Excerpt

Singer

Slipping off my shoes, I dim the lights on the wall panel. I take my clothes off and hang them on a hook near the door before returning to the tub.

   The tub, warm and inviting as I step in, eases my aching feet from my high heels and the tension in my shoulders. I pour some of the bubble suds and giggle. That was so cute and showed me a whole new side to Ethan—the at-home Texan who relates to his roots—instead of the strong, quieter, broodier man I see sometimes.

   While the suds foam and the tub fills, I look out the window. The sky is clear up here. The buildings are far enough apart to avoid spying on neighbors. It’s like floating in heaven.

   I hear his knock on the door, so I call, “Come in,” while making sure the bubbles cover all the important parts.

   Ethan walks in with two glasses of champagne in one hand and the bottle in the other.

   “You came prepared,” I note, leaning back on one side of the tub.

   “I thought I might join you.” He waggles his eyebrows.

   I giggle and reach for a glass. “Come on in,” I reply and wonder if he will really take me up on my dare.

   He sets the bottle and his glass down on the side of the tub. His tie was removed before he came in and I notice his shoes are long gone, along with his jacket. When he starts on the buttons of his shirt, I sit up, scooping suds over me. “Wait, for real?”

   “Yep. I think that tub’s big enough for the two of us.”

   “But you said you don’t take baths.”

   “I also said I’ve never used this one. Seems like an opportune time.”

   “But I’m naked,” I say, worried about everything—his body naked next to mine, not shaving my legs before I went out tonight. My mind flickers through my flaws. Ugh. No. Just no. Not like that. That stuff should be shared in the dark of a bedroom under the influence of alcohol and desperate sex. We’re too sober for this. I’m too sober for this. What does he possibly see in me when he has women like Nicolina waiting?

   He’s more than I’ve imagined, and in some senses, it scares me. He’s the sort of man women like Nicolina land. For once though, it was as if she saw me as competition. The feeling is exhilarating.

   “Like I said, seems like an opportune time.”

   His shirt is dropped, his undershirt following quickly behind. Good God Almighty. What does a guy who looks like that see in me? “I see you like to work out.” I clear my throat and want to bonk my head on the side of the tub for saying it out loud.

   Chuckling, he says, “I have a gym down the hall. It’s how I relieve stress.”

   “I thought that’s what sex was for.” I gasp and cover my mouth, wishing I could keep my crazy thoughts in my head where they belong instead of on my tongue. His eyes are heavy, a smirky smirk restraining a laugh. “God, you cannot let me talk when I’m nervous.”

   “If this is what happens when you’re nervous, I’ll make you nervous more often.” His pants come down and my curiosity is answered. Tonight he’s in boxers. When he catches my eyes on his package, I’m thankful I’m wearing waterproof mascara because I immediately go underwater. Screw my makeup. It’s really the only way to keep my mouth in check at this point. I count to five and then pop back up. With my hands covering my boobs, I ask, “You’re really coming in?”

   “Yes, scoot over.”

   Good God Almighty.

Meet the Author

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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. 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.

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REVIEW & EXCERPT TOUR ~ DIRTY FILTHY FIX by LAURELIN PAIGE

 

From New York Times bestselling author Laurelin Paige, comes a sexy novella in her Fixed Trilogy Series…DIRTY FILTHY FIX, a new novella brought to you by 1001 Dark Nights! Grab your copy of this amazing novella today!

 

 

About DIRTY FILTHY FIX

 

I like sex. Kinky sex. The kinkier the better.

Every day, it’s all I think about as I serve coffee and hand out business agendas to men who have no idea I’m not the prim, proper girl they think I am.

With a day job as the secretary to one of New York’s most powerful men, Hudson Pierce, I have to keep my double life quiet. As long as I do, it’s not a problem.

Enter: Nathan Sinclair. Tall, dark and handsome doesn’t come close to describing how hot he is. And that’s with his clothes on. But after a dirty, filthy rendezvous, I accept that if we ever see each other again, he’ll walk right by my desk on his way to see my boss without recognizing me.

Only, that’s not what happens. Not the first time I see him after the party. Or the next time. Or the time after that. And as much as I try to stop it, my two worlds are crashing into each other, putting my job and my reputation at risk.

And all I can think about is Nathan Sinclair.

All I can think about is getting just one more dirty, filthy fix.

 

 

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★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Review by Emma-Louise Lewis on behalf of KFF

Open Door an exclusive club, catering to an even more exclusive membership. Trish has been a member for over ten years and has never been tempted to break her own self-imposed rules once, until Nathan that is. The stranger with the green eyes. Never seen before at Open Door, entrances Trish from the get go.

‘Why was this man so different?

Maybe it was because those other men always looked everywhere in the room.  When their eyes landed on me, I knew I was just one of many options.

This man…’

This author does dirty, filthy and kinky like a poet creates a sonnet or a composer pens opera. There is no why’s or how’s, it just is.

Trish is a woman with rules and a regimental belief in those rules. She has NEVER broken her rules. So what is it about Nathan that makes her want to? I’ll admit that it didn’t click with me instantly that Nathan was the Nathan Sinclair, partner of Reach from Dirty Filthy Rich Men until fifteen percent in. I’ll read anything from this author without even reading the blurb, I am however still clearly stupid for not putting two and two together sooner.

The characters in this story had multifaceted levels to them, like a fine aged scotch you’re able to savour privately and with great vigour. Nathan is a strong, filthy alpha male (the best kind of male there is). He’s like the devil on your shoulder and you have no reason what so ever to listen to the angel. Give me time with this filthy man and I’d kick the angel to the curb in a red hot second. Trish isn’t a Suzy homemaker kind of woman, she isn’t one for tying down (unless it’s in bed), she has been damaged by life and Nathan is the kind of man who will tear down bridges to get what he wants.

“I don’t want to imprison you. I want to fly with you.”

Dirty Filthy Fix was intoxicatingly addictive from minute one, the issues that arose in this story were dealt with in true Laurelin Paige fashion, in the right way. This author is true to her characters and never waivers even when the blood and pain is so visceral the pages practically run red with it.

 

 

EXCERPT:

I wore satin that Saturday night, a long blue slip dress with slits up both sides. I never wore underwear to the parties. They were too much of an inconvenience, and the few times I had worn them, I’d just ended up giving them away as souvenirs. I liked nice lingerie. I preferred to keep most of it.

The shoes I wore—simple heels, easy to slip off—were also standard for an evening at the Open Door. But somehow I felt simultaneously more dressed up and more naked than I had in a long time. I left my hair down, and it fell long past my shoulders in dark, nearly black waves. It felt less like I was going to a weekly party and more like I was going on a date. A glamorous date.

It was a signal that I should not go.

But I went. Nothing could have kept me away.

I spent the beginning of the night as a voyeur, camped out on the settee watching as the Doms paraded their submissives around the room, entertaining everyone with their tricks and commands.

I had a few invitations to play from the regulars—Andrew, who’d shown up with a girl I’d never met before. Of course, Chuck Richard was there, wanting to fondle and stroke my skin. But I shooed them all away, feigning an introverted mood, when really I was just looking and waiting for one person in particular.

An hour went by. Then an hour and a half. After two hours, I kicked myself internally a bunch of times before realizing that I was in a place where people would gladly do that for me. So when Andrew suggested a game, an adult version of Spin-the-Bottle, I decided to join in.

An oddly shaped circle was created, some people choosing to sit on the floor, some on the furniture. I curled up with my knees to one side on the floor, and when I finished straightening my gown around me, I looked up to find that the man sitting on the ottoman across from me was Nathan.

And suddenly the room felt so much brighter than it had a few minutes before. Like there’d been too many plugs shoved into one outlet and finally someone had tugged one free, the power had surged, and the lights glowed.

Everyone disappeared around me and the only face I could see was his, handsome and rugged, his grin directed at me. His eyes lit up like they were the source of the glow, and they were the only things I could see.

Somehow I was sure I’d just broken one of my rules. I didn’t know which one, and I didn’t even care.

 

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Laurelin Paige’s DIRTY FILTHY FIX – Review & Excerpt Schedule:

November 22nd

Becky on Books – Review & Excerpt

Booked All Night – Review & Excerpt

Collector of book boyfriends – Review

Discrete Divas – Review & Excerpt

Friends Till The End Book Blog – Excerpt

I Can’t Help Where My Mind Goes – Excerpt

Kayns Book – Review

Les Chroniques Aléatoires – Review & Excerpt

Once Upon a Book Blog – Review & Excerpt

Ramblings From This Chick – Review

Romance as a first language – Review & Excerpt

Steamy Reads – Excerpt

The Book Boyfriend Addict – Review & Excerpt

November 23rd

A crazy vermonters book reviews – Review

Booklovers For Life – Review & Excerpt

Cupcakes and bookshelves – Excerpt

Devilishly dirty book blog – Review & Excerpt

For the love of romance – Review & Excerpt

I’m A Sweet And Sassy Book Whore – Review & Excerpt

Kindle Friends Forever – Review

Love & Lavender Book Review – Review & Excerpt

Mom’s Secret Book Blog – Review & Excerpt

Read and Share Book Reviews – Review

Shayna Renee’s Spicy Reads – Review & Excerpt

The Reading Cafe – Review & Excerpt

November 24th

Alphas Do It Better Book Blog – Review

Books 2 Blog – Review

Books,Dreams,Life – Excerpt

Escape into a Booksite – Review

Feel The Book – Excerpt

ISCREAM BOOKS BLOG – Review

JaymeBooks – Review & Excerpt

Knotty Girl Reviews – Review & Excerpt

My Girlfriend’s Couch – Review & Excerpt

Read-Love-Blog – Excerpt

Sultry Sirens Book Blog – Review & Excerpt

Torie’s Book Obsession – Excerpt

Wicked Babes Blog Reviews – Review & Excerpt

November 25th

A Brit and a Yank – Excerpt

AC Squared Book Blog – Excerpt

Book Loving Fairy – Review & Excerpt

Crazy Daisy Book Whore – Review & Excerpt

Francoise’s Reading Corner – Review & Excerpt

K&J Book Promotions – Excerpt

Loves Great Reads Blog – Excerpt

One-Click Chocolate Chick – Review & Excerpt

Reading Between the Wines Book Club – Excerpt

Sexy Vixen rEader – Review & Excerpt

November 26th

As You Wish Reviews – Review & Excerpt

Author Groupies – Review

Book Lovers Reviews and Reviews – Review

Books According to Abby – Review & Excerpt

Dirty Girl Romance – Review

Kari’s Book Reviews and Revelations – Review

Mama Likes to Read Book Blog – Review

Naturally Nerdy Books – Excerpt

Only One More Page – Review & Excerpt

Renee Entress’s Blog – Review & Excerpt

Smutty Book Friends – Review & Excerpt

Two peas in a pod – Review

November 27th

A British Bookworm’s Blog – Review

A Storybook Romance.net – Review & Excerpt

Bobo’s Book Bank – Review & Excerpt

Brittany’s Book Blog – Excerpt

I’m A Book Shark – Excerpt

Jen’s Reading Obsession – Excerpt

Living In Our Own Story – Review & Excerpt

Meleth Bookaddicted – Excerpt

Once upon a romance – Review

Romance Reviews and More – Review & Excerpt

The Heathers’ Blog – Review & Excerpt

The Smutbrarians – Review & Excerpt

November 28th

Alpha Book Club – Review

Blonde & Blue Reviews – Review

Book Breath babe – Review & Excerpt

Crystal’s Book World – Review & Excerpt

Four Chicks Flipping Pages – Review & Excerpt

Lamplight Review and Promotion – Review

Novel Addiction – Review

OMGReads – Review & Excerpt

Panty Dropping Book Blog – Review

Relentless book chics ramblings and reviews – Review & Excerpt

Star Angels Reviews – Review & Excerpt

Stranded in Books – Review

The Eeny Meanie Neen – Review

This Mom Loves Alphas – Review & Excerpt

November 29th

All Things Dark & Dirty – Excerpt

Amo’s Book Corner – Excerpt

Beneath The Covers Blog – Excerpt

Blushing Babes are up all night – Review

Book Lovers Obsession – Review

Bookalicious Babes Blog – Review & Excerpt

Evermore Books – Review & Excerpt

Kindle Crack Book Reviews – Review & Excerpt

Literary Gossip – Excerpt

Pervy Ladies Books – Review & Excerpt

Sip Read Love – Review

Sweet Sexy Escape – Review

The Divas Book Lounge – Review & Excerpt

True Story Book Blog – Review

November 30th

AC BOOK BLOG – Review & Excerpt

Book Angel Booktopia – Review & Excerpt

Bloggin With M. Brennan – Review

Jackie’s Book World – Review

KDRBCK – Review & Excerpt

My YA NA Book Obsession – Review & Excerpt

Nerdy Soul – Review & Excerpt

Sweet Red Reads – Review & Excerpt

The Book Addict’s Reviews – Review & Excerpt

The Romance Reviews – Review

V’s Reads – Review & Excerpt

Wrapped Up In Reading – Review & Excerpt

December 1st

Addicted 2 Romance – Review & Excerpt

All Books Obsessed – Review & Excerpt

Bad boys and bedtime stories book blog – Review

Book Lovers Hangout – Review & Excerpt

Fictional Rendezvous Book Blog – Excerpt

G & T’s Indie Café – Excerpt

Jax’s Book Magic – Excerpt

Kick Back & Review – Review & Excerpt

MI Bookshelf – Review

The sweet life – Review

Two Book Pushers – Review & Excerpt

WickedGoodReads – Review

 

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New from 1001 DARK NIGHTs and NYT & US TODAY Bestselling Author, Laurelin Paige DIRTY FILTHY FIX

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Meet Laurelin 

USA Today and New York Times Bestselling Author Laurelin Paige is a sucker for a good romance and gets giddy anytime there’s kissing, much to the embarrassment of her three daughters. Her husband doesn’t seem to complain, however. When she isn’t reading or writing sexy stories, she’s probably singing, watching Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead, or dreaming of Michael Fassbender. She is represented by Rebecca Friedman.

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      BLOG TOUR ~ ONE SHOT by BJ HARVEY

 

Title: One Shot

Series: Chances #1

Author: BJ Harvey

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: November 16, 2017

 

 

Boy meets girl, boy wins girl, boy nails girl—boy’s gone by morning.

I think for sure it must’ve been a dream because there’s no way a guy could look like that, touch me like that and be so in tune with me on every known level, and disappear, leaving me with nothing but a good story to tell my friends.
When he walks into my bar three months later, everything I thought I knew and what we’d had disappears in the blink of an eye and the blinding light of the three-carat diamond on his fiancée’s hand.

It seems what I thought was a dream is now my most complicated reality, and I’ve got absolutely no idea how to fix it – or if I even want to.



 

 

 

 

 

 ★ ★ ★ ★

Reviewed by Anna Green on behalf of KFF

One of my favourite genres is second chance romance so if you are looking for a very emotional angst filled story this one is for you.

Kenzie, a bar manager met Millen for the first time when he came into town for a business trip. They were immediately attracted to each other but Kenzie is not into one night stands so she issued him a challenge. They instantly connected and seemed like they are onto a promising relationship but then when he left town he never got in touch again until after three months when he showed up at the bar with his fiancée, Lana, in tow.  

I like Kenzie’s character she is honest, fiercely loyal and independent. Millen on the first half of the book appears to be the perfect guy but later on turned out to be weak in my opinion. His priorities and misguided family obligations do not make him a great character. The back story to Kenzie’s parents and Lana’s parents provides more drama to their complicated tale, quite interesting family dynamics there. Is Millen worthy enough to be given a second chance? He does love Kenzie but needs to man up, own his future and happiness with the woman he truly loves.

“Love isn’t perfect. It’s how you work through it all that’s important. The hard stuff, the obstacles, the highs, the lows, the triumphs and the tragedies. It’s a beautiful pain that’s always worth it if you’re both willing to work to make things right.”

“And when you find the one who you know is worth it, the one you’d do anything it took to be with, you grab hold and you don’t let go. Because the minute you do, you lose your shot.”

Millen and Kenzie’s story is an emotional rollercoaster, angsty and full of drama. One moment Millen is at the top of your book boyfriend list and in the next chapter he’s on your hit list. The author does a great job of drawing out a whirlpool of emotions from the reader with this contemporary romance and although some parts are predictable I still enjoyed reading this book.  Be prepared for the ride!

 

 

Present Day
I have tingles, and not the kind that feel great in all the right places. The ones I’m feeling right now are the hair-standing-up-on-the-back-of-your-neck, someone-walking-over-your-grave kind of feelings that you get when something bad is about to happen.
Unable to ignore them any longer, I turn around from my stock take sheet and come face to face with my worst nightmare.
Lana fucking Mason, childhood best friend turned high school nemesis and arch enemy, and…
A man stands beside her, his eyes as wide as mine and—if I’m not mistaken—he looks kind of pissed off. At me.
And just like that, this moment has just gone from bad to worse.
Hold on! I’m the one who should be annoyed, with him. It wasn’t me who did a disappearing act three months ago, and now he’s here, standing with her. Of all the fish in the sea, he had to go for the smelliest, rottenest one.
“Kenzie,” she says, all saccharine sweet, like she wouldn’t choke on the first dick that came close to her perfectly-made-up lips. “Long time no see.”
Forever wouldn’t have been long enough, Lana.
“We were in town running errands and thought we’d stop by. I wanted to let you know what I’ve been up to.” Without preamble, she holds out her hand as if she’s the Queen of Sheba and I’m a lowly minion at her bidding. But that’s the last thing I care about, given that I’m being blinded by a huge, shiny rock on her ring finger.
What in the ever-loving fuck?
I don’t get a chance to hide my surprise, or the fact that my eyes dart to Millen, his jaw twitching like crazy, his grey eyes that I remember turning molten with lust now blazing with some unreadable emotion.
Why is he angry at me when he must’ve known that I’d be here?
Lana turns her head and beams at him all doe-eyed and vomit-inducing, reaching out her arm to Millen before returning her attention to me, positioning herself to deliver the final death blow.
Then she says them. The words I don’t want to hear—let alone believe.
“I have amazing news. First, my daddy just bought this place. And second, meet Millen, my fiancé…”
Yep. Dead. Done. The see-ya-later, don’t-let-the-door-hit-your-ass-on-the-way-out kind of done.
Then Drew walks through the front door. Drew who warms my bed most nights. Finally, a friendly face.
However, one look at Lana’s expression and I know this moment has just gone from bad to plain awkward. It’s like the universe is making a joke at my expense.
Drew’s already big smile grows impossibly larger when he spots the two people standing in front of me.
“Mills!” he says, pulling Millen into a man-hug the likes of which I’ve never seen Drew hand out before. He turns to the she-bitch and wraps his arms around her too. “Lans.”
Lans?
“What are you guys doing here?” Drew asks.
“You know them?” I blurt out, my brain unable to engage quick enough to care about putting a filter in place.
Millen’s eyes snap to Drew then back to me. “You know Drew?” he asks at the same time as Lana juts a hip to the side and asks Drew, “You know Kenzie?”
“Millen is my best friend from college,” Drew happily informs me, and his smile falls at the same time that all of the blood rushes from my face.
Awkward, meet Mortifying. Also here are Shame, Embarrassment, Anger, Disgust, and over in the corner there is Complete and Utter Confusion and her friend I’m Going to Have to Move to the States and Join a Women-Only Commune with Cats and Unlimited Batteries.
With nothing else to say—at least, nothing that wouldn’t take a bottle of Jack and a whole lot of time—I decide to just go with the flow and revert to my old trusty auto-pilot because seriously, what else is there for me to do?
“Soooo, would anyone like a drink?”

 

 

 

 

 


BJ Harvey is the USA Today Bestselling Author of the Bliss Series. She regards herself as a smut peddler, suspense conjurer, and a funny romance thinker upper. An avid music fan, you will always find her singing some hit song badly and loving every minute of it. She’s a wife, a mom to two beautiful girls, and hails from what she considers as the best country in the world—New Zealand.

 

 

 

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BLOG TOUR ~ LOVE ON THE EDGE OF TIME                           by JULIE A. RICHMAN

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Love on the Edge of Time, an all-new stand-alone story about a love too great to be bound by time, from Julie A. Richman is available NOW!

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Love on the Edge of Time by Julie A. Richman

Publishing Date: November 13th, 2017

He likes whiskey and wild women

She likes Ben & Jerry’s

He’s about to get kicked out of his own band

She ate her way off the Miss America pageant circuit

What could these two possibly have in common?

A psychiatrist

A lot of unresolved issues

A whole bunch of shared lifetimes

And a love that is never-ending

As bad boy rocker, Jesse Winslow, and former pageant queen, Kylie Martin, each fight the demons screwing up their lives, the one person who holds the key to healing their ills and reuniting two souls that have searched for one another, lifetime after lifetime, is the only one who knows the whole truth.

And keeping that truth from them may just be in preeminent psychiatrist Dr. Claire Stoddard’s best interests.

Claire has committed the ultimate sin in the medical world. She’s fallen for the one man she’s forbidden to love.

Her patient, Jesse Winslow.

And she’s not about to lose him to Kylie Martin… Again.

4.5 Stars ~ Reviewed by Anna Green on behalf of KFF

I finished this book in the early hours of the morning and I don’t have enough words to describe how I felt. At one point did I feel like messaging the author, get down on my knees and beg her to “Please, please, please for the love of mercy, give Kylie and Jesse a break!”

This is probably one of the most difficult reviews I have to write only because there are not a lot of details I can share as I don’t want to give away any spoilers. This book is a standalone contemporary romance (with an unusual twist) about two people who both needed help and found each other. Written in alternating “past” and present scenarios Kylie is a former beauty queen who became a plus size princess and Jesse is a rock star on a downward slope to hell. They are both patients of Dr. Claire Stoddard, who plays a big part in their healing and is the catalyst to the couple’s future happiness.  What I like about the author is that she also created Kylie as a strong, beautiful and independent woman who tackles weight issues that a lot of us can relate to. And Jesse, oh how I would love to have my own Jesse!

I have let you into a place so deep, that it is dangerous. It is dangerous to feel what I feel. And I know that you know that. No one else is getting to that place besides you. And there’s only room for you as long as you choose to remain there.”

Serendipity, fate, destiny or whatever you call it Kylie and Jesse were always meant to be together. This book is not only about meeting your soulmate and finding “the one”.  When you read their story, you not only get romance but also a feeling of empowerment. Jesse and Kylie’s story elicits a myriad of emotions: everlasting love, despair, heartbreak and hope. Will they finally get their happily ever after? I would have given the book five stars but there is one question which I think should have been addressed regarding Claire’s actions. Highly recommended but I would suggest a box of tissues by your side. 

‘But right now, all I’ve got are memories trapped in time

Of that moment when you were still mine

I’ll keep reaching and reaching and reaching

To grab hold of our love on the edge of time.’

Excerpt

This time he didn’t text. He just called, waking her at two-fifteen a.m.

“Bare-ly dressed again tonight?”

Her laugh, filled with sleep was gruff. “Barely dressed every night.”

“What exactly do you have on?”

“A pink tank top and pink silk bikini.”

“Take them off,” he ordered.

“Excuse me,” there was an element of surprise in Kylie’s voice.

“You heard me. Take them off. Now.” Just hearing rustling on the other end of the line, he could feel his cock stiffen and it felt damn good after all this time. Baby, I’m back, he thought.

“We’re having phone sex? But, Jesse, we haven’t even kissed yet,” her protest was weak. And even she knew it.

“Yes, we’re having phone sex, and when I get back to New York, we’re going to do a lot more than kiss. You’ve friend-zoned me, Toots, and I’m busting out.”

Kylie was smiling on her end of the phone. Friend-zoned Jesse Fucking Winslow? Was he serious? “Nobody puts Jesse in a friend-zone,” she couldn’t help herself.

“Are they off?” He totally ignored her joke.

“Mmm-hmm.”

“What was that?” he asked, his voice gruff and serious.

“Yes, they’re off.”

“Okay, spread your legs, and with your phone, take a picture of your pussy for me.”

“Seriously?” She knew she was blushing in the dark.

“Take the picture, Kylie.”

“Okay, but if you sell this to the paparazzi, I will kill you.” There was a rustling sound, then, “Oh, my God, I can’t believe I’m doing this.”

He laughed.

“Okay, here it comes. I hope it’s photogenic. It would be really embarrassing to have a non-photogenic pussy.”

Pulling the phone from his ear to look, Kylie could hear his moan, exciting her even more.

“So photogenic, Toots, just like the rest of you. And I love the red landing strip. It’s so hot. Oh, man, I love this. Spread your legs wider and use one hand to spread your lips open for me and send me another.”

Following his directions, she did as he requested.
LOTEOT-AN

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About the Author:

  

jarheadshot

I must’ve been 5 or 6 when I started writing “stories”. I would write them and hide them.

Not wanting anyone to see my “secret” thoughts. I needed to write – even back then. Now I’m just not hiding them anymore. Is that a sign of maturity? Nah…

Writer, photographer, insatiable wanderluster, edge-player, foodie, music addict, pop culture fanatic, animal lover, warrior for the rights of people and planet, and avid cusser (am a Native

New Yorker, so very little offends me…and if I am offended, it must be pretty freaking bad..like

bad grammar!)

I am a big believer in signs and if we keep ourselves open, there are guideposts all along the way. Stay humble. Be true. Be you.

Life is not a dress rehearsal…

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      EXCERPT ~ BEDDING THE BILLIONAIRE                                    by LONDON HALE

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Scorching hot excerpt alert!
Check out this insanely sexy scene from Bedding The Billionaire by London Hale…
Then get your copy on November 16th!

LIKE LONDON FOR REAL TIME UPDATESHERE
FOLLOW LONDON FOR RELEASE DAY ALERTSHERE 
ADD BEDDING THE BILLIONAIRE TO YOUR TBRHERE 

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EXCERPT

I’d spent six months denying my attraction to this man. Six long months of sitting across from him and listening to him command a call or dominate another employee. Hell, he’d dominated me, and knowing him as I did now? I liked it. And I didn’t want to wait another minute to show him.

Without giving myself too much time to think about what I was about to do, I bit my lip and slipped around the desk, only half listening to the other people on the call go back and forth about expectations and limitations. For once in my life, work would have to wait. I had a staff of people who could fill me in, and it was about time I utilized them. Right at that moment, I had an urge to do something to Colin. To have that man at my mercy.

He had definitely won the seduction game.

“You were cruel this morning when you teased me right to the edge and didn’t make me come.”

“Was I?”

“Yes. Definitely.” I pushed his shoulder, forcing his chair back, giving myself room to work. “I wore your favorite lipstick today.”

“I noticed.” He reached up, running his thumb over my bottom lip. I flicked my tongue against the tip, giving him a preview of what I had in store.

“It’ll leave a mark if I kiss you.” I dropped to my knees, unfastening his pants with a smile on my face. “Or do more than just kiss you.”

“I’m hoping for it.” His voice was deep, almost growly, and his eyes were bright as they held mine. This was a man who wanted, one who craved whatever I was promising. And that fact, knowing I could push him to the point of looking at me like I was a gift to him, made me feel far more powerful than sitting across from him in my suit ever had.

“I’d dream of this sometimes,” I said as I pulled his cock through the placket of his pants. “When we were on a conference call and there were people waiting for us to direct them. I would think about what it’d be like to slip under your desk and take you in my mouth.”

Colin ran his finger down the side of my cheek, breathing hard. Silent. But there was a tension about him. An energy that said he was ready to go off. And I couldn’t wait to be the one to make him.

I opened my mouth and ran my tongue around the head of his cock, staring into his eyes. Flicking the slit twice before placing a big, wet kiss to the tip. “I wonder if I can make the powerful Colin Huntley beg.”

He chuckled deeply, sighing as I wrapped my lips around the tip again and sucked. “I don’t beg, spitfire, but I’d beg for these lips around my cock. Every fucking night.”

I popped off him, licking the tip once more. “Someday, I’m going to make you prove it.”

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About London Hale:

London Hale is the combined pen name of writing besties Ellis Leigh and Brighton Walsh. Between them, they’ve published more than thirty books in the contemporary romance, paranormal romance, and romantic suspense genres. Ellis is a USA Today bestselling author who loves coffee, thinks green Skittles are the best, and prefers to stay in every weekend. Brighton is multi-published with Berkley, St. Martin’s Press, and Carina Press. She hates coffee, thinks green Skittles are the work of the devil, and has never heard of a party she didn’t want to attend. Don’t ask how they became such good friends or work so well together—they still haven’t figured it out themselves.

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                                    BLOG TOUR                                       JACOB’S LADDER: Gabe by KATIE ASHLEY

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JACOB’S LADDER: Gabe by Katie Ashley is AVAILABLE NOW!

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As the lead songwriter for Jacob’s Ladder, the last thing Gabe Renard needs is a debilitating case of writer’s block. After years of meaningless one night stands, he’s finding it hard to pen the love-filled ballads the label is requesting. In an effort to clear his mind, Gabe takes his jeep off-roading in the North Georgia Mountains. When a wrong-turn leads to him getting stuck more than just creatively, he’s forced to call for help. To his surprise, the “Ray” who has been sent by Hart Wreckers to his aid is actually “Rae”—a sexy-as-hell spitfire in a pair of tight-as-hell jeans. The combination of Rae’s sassy mouth and rocking body might be the inspiration Gabe needs. But for the first time since becoming a rock star, his advances have been shot down.

Reagan Hart has never been a fan of musicians. In fact, just the mention of one might cause her to throw a tire tool. Her disgust for them started when she was just eight and her mother ran off with a traveling country singer, and it only worsened when at seventeen, her rocker boyfriend knocked her up before blowing out of town. As a single mother taking care of her family’s collision business, Rae doesn’t have time for hook ups, much less a relationship. And if she did make time, a musician would be last on her list, even one as good-looking as Gabe Renard.

Can Gabe find the words to prove not only to Rae, but himself, that she’s the only one for him?

 

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4.5 Stars ~ Reviewed by Emma-Louise on behalf of KFF

A songwriter with writer’s block and a sassy, business owner and small town woman cross paths in the middle of nowhere.  Now, doesn’t that sound like a bad joke? After just one meeting (insert verbal sparring match), Gabe is able to once again pick up a pen, the words flowing like water through a wheel.

Jacob’s Ladder is the first in a new series by the highly acclaimed author Katie Ashley. This is my first foray into her work and I was not disappointed. Jacob’s Ladder is a spin-off series of Katie Ashley’s Runaway Train series. It isn’t necessary that you read the previous series to Jacob’s Ladder, however, some of the secondary characters in this book were main characters, in the previous series. Hearing history and plotlines from Runaway Train and not having read them made me feel like I’d missed out on something. That feeling of missing out did in no part ruin this well structured story.

Rae was a suspicious woman by nature. How many times does life have to kick you in the face before you stay down? Rae never gave up, she hesitated and sometimes ran away from situations she didn’t want to deal with. Fear was a very real thing for her, she had so many high expectations of herself, and of what she should and shouldn’t do. Her past isn’t easy or clear cut, blackness and ghosts drag her down quicker than quicksand. Close to her family, Rae often runs to her sisters or father for advice or help.

Money and fame can’t buy you self esteem. Gabe is talented and successful, but you would never know it from the way he sees himself. He’s in a band and yet to himself he’s always commenting on how badly he sings. That song writing is the only thing that makes him worth something.

Gabe and Rae are two highly independent, stubborn people and the way they are makes this tale oh so much more intriguing. They’re both crazy, insecure and worth so much more than they give themselves credit. To me as a reader there is nothing better than a story with slowburn romance. Both Gabe and Rae have serious insecurity and trust issues, but knowing now what I know, I couldn’t blame either of them for them. They are byproducts of their pasts and of their families, even if their families are loving and supportive.

The emotion and romance in Jacob’s Ladder was fluidly composed, like a classical music piece that rolls over your skin like rain falling from the sky. Nothing was ever easy, but it was, in this humble reviewer’s opinion oh so worth it.

“Would it be too much to ask for you, too?”
“You have me. Mind, body, and soul.”
“And heart?”
“Always.” Without a doubt in my mind.”

EXCERPT:

My tirade was interrupted by my phone ringing. It was Eli.

“Hey man, are you alive?” he questioned.

“Yes, I am.”

“Are you just saying that because the Deliverance people who kidnapped you are forcing you to say that? Cough once into the phone if you’re not okay.”

Rolling my eyes, I laughed in spite of myself. “I have not been abducted by any Deliverance people. I am here in Hayesville of my own volition.”

“Yes, it’s your volition that’s questionable. I mean, you said yourself they don’t even have a Starbucks. What could you possibly still be doing there?”

“Actually, I’m here writing.”

Eli sucked in a breath. “Holy shit. You are?”

When I’d called him the day before, I hadn’t told him anything about Rae or songwriting. Since everything had still been up in the air with her, I’d just told him I was just staying in Hayesville to get away. “Yeah, man. I’ve gotten two songs done already.”

“I’m so fucking proud of you.”

“Thanks. I’m not gonna lie, it sure feels good to be putting words on paper. They’re good words, too, and you know I wouldn’t just say that.”

“I sure do. You are your own worst critic. When were you planning on sharing them with me and Abs?”

“Are you still at Jake and Abby’s?”

“No. I came back to Atlanta the day you left.”

“As soon as I get back to the hotel, I’ll Google Hangout with you guys and play what I have.” At the familiar tingle running up my spine, I said, “Strike that. I think I’m feeling something new coming on.”

“Seriously?”

“Yeah. I’m not too surprised considering I was just with—” I abruptly cut myself off. For reasons I didn’t understand, I didn’t feel ready to tell Eli about Rae.

“You were just with who?”

“Nobody. Forget it.”

“Look, if you’ve fallen in love with some hillbilly woman named Earlene, it’s okay. You don’t have to be ashamed.”

I laughed. “Considering I’ve only been gone for forty-eight hours, I’m not quite sure how I could have fallen in love with a hillbilly.”

“You never know—they move fast.”

“How the hell would you know? Past experience?”

“Just an observation.”

“Whatever.” A knock came on the Jeep’s window, causing my phone to fly out of my hand and onto the passenger seat. When I glanced over, Rae was grinning at me. After I rolled down the window, I said, “Hey.”

“Hey. Listen, I was thinking instead of coming over here, you should just come to the shop to pick me and Linc up. Dad lives closer to the shop than here.”

“Okay. I’ll see you at the shop.”

She smiled. “Okay.” Jerking her chin, she added, “Now get the hell out of here so I can go to work.”

“I’m on it.”

After she waved and headed back to her car, I leaned over and picked up my phone. I knew there wasn’t a chance in hell that Eli had hung up. The minute he heard a female voice, he would be hanging on to every word he possibly could. “Hey. I’m back.”

“Was that Earlene?” he asked teasingly as I cranked the Jeep up.

“No, smartass. Her name is Rae.”

“Sounds like you guys are having dinner tonight.”

“We are, at her father’s house,” I replied as I backed out of Rae’s driveway.

“Mmhmm.”

I laughed. “Like that’s all you have to say. I mean, don’t hurt yourself holding back.”

“It’s just that you said it would be impossible to have fallen in love with a hillbilly girl in two days, yet here you are having dinner with a woman. Not only that, you’re having dinner with her family. Do we need Selma to prepare a press release on your impending nuptials?”

“Har fucking har.”

“Hey, you told me not to hold back. I mean, you’re already eating dinner with her parents—what am I supposed to think?”

“It’s not like that with Rae.”

“Then enlighten me.”

I sucked in a deep breath before unloading the soap opera of what had transpired.

“Holy shit,” Eli remarked when I finished.

“Yeah. Pretty much.”

“I can’t believe you found your muse in the backwoods.”

“It surprised the hell out of me as well, but I’m not going to question it.”

“I wouldn’t either.” After pausing for a moment, Eli asked, “So she’s beautiful, huh?”

“Gorgeous, but not like the fake women I usually go after. She’s real.”

“She’s real or her tits are real?”

Groaning, I replied, “Once again, it’s not like that with her.”

“It’s not like that because she won’t let it be like that,” Eli countered, amusement vibrating in his voice. It was times like these I lamented having a twin brother who knew exactly how my brain worked.

“Yeah, it’s true that she shot me down, but I’m glad she did.”

“Seriously?”

“If we had fucked, who knows what would have happened to my songwriting mojo? I might still be blocked.”

“That’s one way to look at it, and a very mature way, I might add.”

I snickered. “I’m not sure I would trust your judgment on what’s mature.”

Eli laughed. “Whatever. So you really think you have another song brewing?”

“Yep. I’m pulling into the hotel now. Just as soon as I can get to my pen and journal, I’m at it again. Once I get to a stopping point, I’ll text you about doing a Google Hangout with Abby.”

“Sounds good. I’ll call her and let her know what’s going on.”

“Thanks, man. I probably need to text Jake and tell him I’ll be commandeering his Jeep for a little while longer.”

“I don’t think he’ll mind, especially if you’re finally getting the words you need. When do you think you’ll be back?”

“I’m not leaving here until I have enough to fill the album—or until my mojo runs out.”

“I’ll be interested to see what you come up with, but more than the songs, I’m interested to see how things pan out with Rae.”

“You mean you’ll be interested to see if we finally bang.”

“Actually, I was thinking more long-term than that.” Really, Eli?

“Like a relationship?”

“Bingo.”

“Get real, bro.”

“You’re the one who needs to get real, not me.”

“It’s not happening.”

“We’ll see.”

Scowling at the phone, I replied, “If you don’t have anything else to do but give me shit about Rae, I’ll let you go. Unlike someone else I know, I have work to do.”

Eli chuckled. “Whatever, man. Call me when you’re done penning our next CMA winner.”

“I don’t know about that, but I’ll let you know when the next song is done.

“You do that—oh, and tell Rae hello for me.”

“I will.”

“And thanks for putting up with my knuckleheaded brother.”

I laughed. “Goodbye, Eli.”

“Bye, Gabe.”

Meet Katie

Katie Ashley is a New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon Best-Selling author of both Indie and Traditionally published books. She lives outside of Atlanta, Georgia with her daughter, Olivia, and her spoiled mutt, Duke. She has a slight obsession with Pinterest, The Golden Girls, Shakespeare, Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Scooby-Doo.

With a BA in English, a BS in Secondary English Education, and a Masters in Adolescent English Education, she spent eleven years teaching both middle and high school English, as well as a few adjunct college English classes. As of January 2013, she became a full-time writer.

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