CHAPTER REVEAL ~ HANDLE WITH CARE by Helena Hunting

Handle With Care, an all-new romantic comedy from New York Times bestselling author Helena Hunting is coming 27th August, and we have chapter one and the pre-order links for you!

 

HE WANTS TO LOSE CONTROL.

Between his parents’ messed up marriage and his narcissistic younger brother, Lincoln Moorehead has spent the majority of his life avoiding his family. After the death of his father, Lincoln finds himself in the middle of the drama. To top it all off, he’s been named CEO of Moorehead Media, much to his brother’s chagrin. But Lincoln’s bad attitude softens when he meets the no-nonsense, gorgeous woman who has been given the task of transforming him from the gruff, wilderness guy to a suave businessman

SHE’S TRYING TO HOLD IT TOGETHER.

Wren Sterling has been working double time to keep the indiscretions at Moorehead Media at bay, so when she’s presented with a new contract, with new responsibilities and additional incentives, she agrees. Working with the reclusive oldest son of a ridiculously entitled family is worth the hassle if it means she’s that much closer to pursuing her own dreams. What Wren doesn’t expect is to find herself attracted to him, or for it to be mutual. And she certainly doesn’t expect to fall for Lincoln. But when a shocking new Moorehead scandal comes to light, she’s forced to choose between her own family and the broody, cynical CEO.

 

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CHAPTER ONE

© 2018 Helena Hunting

All rights reserved.

 
I slip onto the empty bar stool beside the lumberjack mountain man who looks like he tried to squeeze himself into a suit two sizes too small. He’s intimidatingly broad and thick, with long dark hair that’s been pulled up into a haphazard man bun thing. His beard is a hipster’s wet dream. His scowl, however, makes him about as approachable as a rabid porcupine. And yet, here I am, sidling up next to him.

He glances at me, eyes bleary and not really tracking. He quickly focuses on his half-empty glass again. Based on the slump of his shoulders and the uncoordinated way he picks up his glass and tips it toward his mouth, I’m guessing he’s pretty hammered. I order a sparkling water with a dash of cranberry juice and a lime.

What I could really use is a cup of lavender- mint tea and my bed, but instead, I’m sitting next to a drunk man in his thirties. My life is extra glamorous, obviously. And no, I’m not an escort, but at the moment I feel like my morals are on the same kind of slippery slope.

“Rough day?” I ask, nodding to the bottle that’s missing more than half its contents. It was full when he sat down at the bar an hour ago. Yes, I’ve been watching him the entire time, waiting for an opportunity to make my move. While he’s been sitting here, he’s turned down two women, one in a dress that could’ve doubled as a disco ball and the other in a top so low- cut, I could almost see her navel.

“You could say that,” he slurs. He props his cheek on his fist, eyes almost slits. I can still make out the vibrant blue hue despite them almost being closed. They move over me, assessing. I’m wearing a conservative black dress with a high neckline and a hem that falls below my knees. Definitely not nearly as provocative as Disco Ball or Navel Lady.

“That solving your problems?” I give him a wry grin and tip my chin in the direction of his bottle of Johnnie.

His gaze swings slowly to the bottle. It gives me a chance to really look at him. Or what I can see of his face under his beard, anyway.

“Nah, but it helps quiet down all the noise up  here.” He taps his  temple and blurts, “My dad died.”

I put a hand on his forearm. It feels awkward, and creepy on my part since its half- genuine, half- contrived comfort. “I’m so sorry.”

He glances at my hand, which I quickly remove, and refocuses on his drink. “I should be sorry too, but I think he was mostly an asshole, so the world might be better off without him.” He attempts to fill his glass again, but his aim is off, and he pours it on the bar instead. I rush to lift my purse and grab a handful of napkins to mop up the mess.

“I’m drunk,” he mumbles.

“Well, I’m thinking that might’ve been the plan, considering the way you’re sucking that bottle back. I’m actually surprised you didn’t ask for a straw in the first place. Might be a good idea to throw a spacer in there if you want tomorrow morning to suck less.” I push my drink toward him, hoping he doesn’t send me packing like he did the other women who approached him earlier.

He narrows his eyes at my glass, suspicious, maybe.

“What is that?”

“Cranberry and soda.”

“No booze?”

“No booze. Go ahead. You’ll thank me in the  morning.”

He picks up the glass and pauses when it’s an inch from his mouth. His eyes crinkle, telling me he’s smiling under that beard. “Does that mean Imma wake up with you beside me?”

I cock a brow. “Are you propositioning me?”

“Shit, sorry.” He chugs the contents of my glass. “I was joking. Besides, I’m so wasted, I can barely remember my name. Pretty sure I’d be useless in bed tonight. I should stop talkin’.” He scrubs a hand over his face and then motions to me. “I wouldn’t proposition you.”

I’m not sure how to respond. I go with semi- affronted, since it seems like somewhat of an insult. “Good to know.”

“Dammit. I mean, I think you might be hot. You look hot. I mean attractive. I think  you’re pretty.” He tips his head to the side and blinks a few times. “You have nice eyes, all four of them are lovely.”

This time I laugh— for real— and point to the bottle. “I think you might want to tell your date you’re done for the night.”

He blows out a breath and nods. “You might be right.” He makes an attempt to stand, but as soon as his feet hit the floor, he stumbles into me and grabs my shoulders to steady himself. “Whoa. Sorry. Yup, I’m definitely drunk.” His face is inches from mine, breath smelling strongly of alcohol. Beyond that, I get a whiff of fresh soap and a hint of aftershave. He lets go of my shoulders and takes an unsteady step back. “I don’t usually do this.” He motions sloppily to the bottle. “Mostly I’m a three drink max guy.”

“I think losing your  father makes this condonable.” I slide off my stool. Despite being tall for a  woman, and wearing heels, he still manages to be close to a head taller than me.

“Yeah, maybe, but I still think I might regret it tomorrow.” He’s incredibly unsteady, swaying while standing in place. I take the opportunity for what it is and thread my arm through his, leading him away from the bar. “Come on, let’s get you to the elevator before you pass out right  here.”

He nods, then wobbles a bit, like moving his head has set him off balance. “That’s probably a good idea.”

He leans into me as we weave through the bar and stumbles on the two stairs leading to the foyer.  There’s no way I’ll be able to stop him if he goes down, but I drape one of his huge arms over my shoulder anyway, and slip my own around his waist, guiding him in a mostly straight line to the elevators.

“Which floor are you on?” I ask.

“Penthouse.” He drops his arm from my shoulder and flings it out, pointing to the black doors at the end of the hall. “Jesus, I feel like I’m on a boat.”

“It’s probably all the alcohol sloshing around in your brain.” I take his elbow again, helping him stagger the last twenty feet to the dedicated penthouse elevator.

He stares at the keypad for a few seconds, brow pulling into a furrow. “I  can’t remember the code. It’s thumbprint activated though too.” He stumbles forward and presses his forehead against the wall, then tries to line up his thumb with the sensor, but his aim is horrendous and he keeps missing.

I  settle a hand on his very firm forearm. This man is built like a tank. Or a superhero. For a moment, I reconsider what I’m about to do, but he seems pretty harmless and ridiculously hammered, so he shouldn’t pose a threat. I’m also trained in self-defence, which would fall under the by any means necessary umbrella. “Can I help?”

He rolls his head, eyes slits as they bounce around my face. “Please.”

I take his hand between mine. The first thing I notice is how clammy it is. But beyond that, his knuckles are rough, littered with tiny scars and a few scabs, and his nails are jagged.

“Your hands are small,” he observes as I line his thumb up with the sensor pad and press down.

“Maybe yours are abnormally big,” I reply. They are rather large. Like basketball player hands.

“You know what they say about big hands.”

I fight not to roll my eyes, but for a brief moment, I wonder if what’s in his pants actually matches the rest of him. And if he’s unkempt everywhere, not just on his face. I cut that visual quickly because it makes me want to gag. “And what do they say?”

His eyes crinkle again, and he slaps his own chest.

“Something about big hands, big heart.”

I bite back my own smile. “Pretty sure  you’re mixing that up with cold hands, warm heart.”

His brow furrows. “ There’s a good chance.”

The elevator doors slide open. He pushes off the wall with some effort and practically tumbles inside. He catches himself on the rail and sags against the wall as I follow him in. I honestly can’t believe I’m doing this right now.

He doesn’t have to press a button since the elevator only goes to the penthouse floor. As soon as we start moving, he groans and his shoulders curl in. “I  don’t feel so good.”

Please don’t let him be sick in here. If there’s one thing I  can’t deal with, it’s vomit. “You should sit.”

He slides down the wall, massive shoulders rolling forward as he rests his forehead on his knees. “Tomorrow is  going to suck.”

I stay on the other side of the elevator, in case he tosses his cookies. “Probably.”

It’s the longest elevator ride in the history of the world. Or at least it feels that way, mostly because I’m terrified he’s going to yak. Thankfully, we make it to the penthouse floor incident- free. On the downside, now that he’s in a sitting position, getting him to stand again is a challenge. I have to press the open door button three times before I can finally coax him to his feet.

In the time between leaving the bar and making it to the penthouse floor, the effects of the alcohol seems to have compounded. He’s beyond sloppy, using the wall and me for support as we make our way to his door.  There are two penthouse apartments up here. One on either side of the foyer.

He leans against the doorjamb, once again fighting to find the coordination to get his thumb to the sensor pad. I  don’t ask if he needs my assistance this time since it’s quite clear he does. Once again I take his clammy hand in mine.

“Your hands are really soft,” he mumbles.

“Thanks.”

The pad flashes green, and I turn the handle. “Okay,  here we go. Home sweet home.”

“This isn’t my home,” he slurs. “My cousin’s family owns this building. I’m crashing  here until I can get the fuck out of New York.”

I scan the penthouse. It an eclectic combination of odd art and modern furniture, like two different tastes crashed together and this is the result. Aside from that, it’s clean to the point of looking almost like a show home.

The only sign that someone is staying here is the lone coffee cup on the table in the living room and the blanket lolling like a tongue over the edge of the couch. I’m still standing in the doorway while he sways unsteadily.

He tries to shove his hand in his pants pocket, but all he succeeds in doing is setting himself off- balance. He nearly stumbles into the wall.

“Thanks for your help,” he says.

He’s back in his penthouse, which means my job is technically done. However, I’m worried he’s going to hurt himself, or worse, asphyxiate on his own vomit in the middle of the night, and I’ll be the one catching heat if that happens. I’ll also feel bad if something happens to him. I blow out a breath, annoyed that this is how my night is ending.

I heave his arm over my shoulder and slip mine around his waist again, leading him through the living room toward what seems to be the kitchen. T here’s a sheet of paper on the island, but otherwise it’s spotless.

“What’re you doing?” he asks.

We pause when we reach the threshold. “Which way is your bedroom?”

He looks slowly from right to left. “Not that way.” He points to the kitchen. It’s very state of the art.

I guide him in the opposite direction down the hall,  until he stumbles through a doorway, into a large but simply furnished bedroom. Once we reach the edge of the bed, he drops his arm, spins around— it’s drunkenly graceful— and falls back on the bed, arms spread wide as if he’s planning on making snow angels. “The room is spinning.”

“Would you like me to get you a glass of water and possibly a painkiller for the headache you’ll likely have in the morning?” I’m already heading for the bathroom.

“Might be a good idea,” he mumbles.

I find a glass on the edge of bathroom vanity— which is clean, apart from a brand new toothbrush and tube of toothpaste. I run the tap, wishing I had a plastic tumbler,  because I’m not sure he’s in any state to deal with breakable objects. I check the medicine cabinet, find the pills I need, shake out two tablets, and return to the bedroom.

He’s right where I left him; sprawled out faceup on a massive king- size bed, legs hanging off the end, one shoe on the floor beside him. I cross over and set the water and the pills on the nightstand.

I make a quick trip back to the bathroom and grab the empty wastebasket from beside the toilet in case his night is a lot rougher than he expects.

I tap his knee, crossing my fingers he’ll be easy to rouse. “Hey, I have painkillers for you.”

He makes a noise, but doesn’t move otherwise.

I tap his knee again. “Lincoln, you need to wake up long enough to take these.” I cringe. I called him by name, and he didn’t offer it to me while we were down at the bar. H ere’s hoping he’s too drunk to notice or remember. His name is Lincoln Moorehead, heir to the Moorehead Media fortune and all the crap that comes with it. And there’s a lot of it.

One eye becomes a slit. “ Every time I open my eyes, the room starts spinning again.”

“If you drink this and take  these, it might help.” I hold up the glass of water and the pills.

“ ’Kay.” It takes three tries for him to sit up. He tries to pick the pills up out of my palm, but keeps missing my hand.

“Just open your mouth.”

He lifts his head. “How do I know you’re not trying to roofie me?”

I hold up the tablet in front of his face. “They  don’t say roofie, so  you’re safe.”

He tries to focus on the pill and then my face. I have my doubts he’s successful at either.

His tongue peeks out to drag across his bottom lip. “The cameras in the hall will catch you if you steal my wallet.”

I laugh at that. “I’m not going to steal your wallet, I’m  going to put you to bed.” “Hmm.” He nods slowly and opens his mouth.

I drop the pills on his tongue and hand him the glass, which he drains in three long swallows. “Would you like me to refill that?”

“That’d be nice.” He holds out the glass, but when I try to pull away, he covers my hands with his. His shockingly blue eyes meet mine, and for a moment they’re clear and compelling. Despite how out of it he is, and how much he resembles a mountain man, or maybe because of it, I have a hard time looking away. “I really wish I wasn’t this messed up. You smell nice. I  bet your hair is pretty when it’s not pulled up like that.” He flops a hand toward my bun. “Not that it’s not pretty like that, but I bet if you took it down, it would be wavy and soft. The kind of hair you want to bury your face in and run your fingers through.” He exhales a long breath. “I  haven’t had sex in a really long time, but I feel like I would have zero finesse if I tried right now.”

I smile and turn away. In the time it takes for me to refill his glass, he’s managed to get one arm out of his suit jacket. He’s made it most of the way onto the bed, feet still hanging off the end, but he’s on his back, which is not ideal.

I set the glass on his nightstand, along with a second set of painkillers, which I’m assuming he’ll need in the morning, and give him another nudge. “Hey.”

This time I get nothing in the way of a response. I

poke him twice more, but still nothing. He can’t sleep on his back with how drunk he is. He needs to be on his side or his stomach with a wastebasket close by.

I  can’t in good conscience leave him like this. My options are limited. I shake my head as I kick off my shoes and climb up onto the bed with him. This is not at all what I expected to be doing when I brought him back up here.

I stare down at his sleeping form. His lips are parted,  they’re nice lips, full and plump, even though they’re mostly obscured by his overgrown beard. His hair has started to unravel from its man bun, wisps hanging in his face. He has long lashes,  really long actually, and they’re thick and dark, the kind women pay a lot of money for. His nose is straight and his cheekbones— what I can see of them— are high. With a haircut, a beard trim or complete shave, and a new suit that actually fits, I can imagine how refined he’ll look. More like a Moorehead than a mountain man lumberjack. I shake my head. “I need you to roll onto your side, please,” I say loudly.

Nothing. Not even a grunt.

I pull on his shoulder, but he’s dead weight. Leaning over him, I make a fist and give him a light jab approximately where his kidney is. “Lincoln, roll over.”

And roll he does, knocking me down and turning over so he’s right on top of me. We’re face- to- face. Good God, he’s heavy. His bones must be made of lead. He shifts, one leg coming over both of mine. I push at his knee, but his arm swings out and he wraps himself around me on a low groan, pinning my arm to my side. He’s like a giant human blanket.

“How did this become my life?” I say to the ceiling,  because the man lying on top of me is apparently out cold.

I try to wriggle free, I even yell his name a bunch of time before I give up and wait for him to roll off me. And while I wait for that to happen, I replay the conversation with his mother, Gwendolyn Moorehead, that took place forty- eight hours ago and put me in this awkward position underneath her drunk son.

I’d been standing in Fredrick’s office, still digesting the fact that he was dead. It was shocking that a massive heart attack had taken him, since he was always so healthy and full of life.

Gwendolyn, his wife— now a widow— stood stoic behind his desk, papers stacked neatly in the center.

“I’m so very for your loss, Gwendolyn. If t here’s anything I can do. Whatever you need.” The words poured out, typical condolences, but sincerely meant because I  couldn’t imagine how my mother and I would feel if we lost my father.

Gwendolyn’s fingers danced at her throat as she cleared it. “Thank you,” she whispered brokenly and dabbed at her eyes. “I appreciate your kindness, Wren.”

“Let me know what you want me to handle, and I’ll take care of it.”

She took a deep breath, composing herself before she lifted her gaze to mine. “I need your help.”

“Of course, what can I do?”

“My oldest son, Lincoln, will be returning to New York for the funeral, and  he’ll be staying to help run the company.”

A hot feeling crept up my spine. I’d heard very little about Lincoln. Everything from Armstrong’s mouth was scathing, Fredrick’s passing references had been with fondness, and my interactions with Gwendolyn had been minimal as it was Fredrick himself who hired me, so this was first I’ve heard of Lincoln through her. “I see. And how can I help with that?” I could only imagine how difficult Armstrong would be if he had to share the attention with someone else, particularly his brother.

“Transitioning Lincoln.” Gwendolyn rounded her desk. “ You’ve managed to turn around Armstrong’s reputation in the media during the time you’ve been here. I know it hasn’t been easy, and Armstrong can be difficult to manage.”

Difficult to manage is the understatement of the entire century where Armstrong is concerned. He’s a cocksucker of epic proportions. He’s also a misogynistic, narcissistic bastard that I’ve had to deal with for the past eight months on a nearly daily basis— sometimes even on weekends.

My job as his “handler” has been to reshape his horrendous reputation after his involvement in several scandalous events became very public. It wasn’t a job I necessarily wanted, and I was prepared to politely reject the offer, but my mother asked me to take the position as a favor to her since she’s a friend of Gwendolyn.

Beyond that, my relationship with my mother has been strained for the past decade. When I was a teenager, I discovered information that changed our relationship forever. Taking the job at Moorehead was in part, my way of trying to help repair our fractured bond. The financial compensation, which was ridiculously high, also didn’t hurt. Besides, Gwendolyn is on nearly every single charitable foundation committee in the city, and since that’s where my interests lie, it seemed like a smart career move.

“Since you’re already working with Armstrong and things seem to be settled there for the most part, I felt it would make sense to keep you on here at Moorehead to work with Lincoln. He’s been away from civilized society for several years. He’s nothing like his brother, very altruistic and focused on his job, rather than recreational pursuits, so he should be easier to manage.”

I fought a scoff at the last bit, since “recreational pursuits” was a reference to the fact that Armstrong couldn’t seem to keep his pants zipped when it came to women.

Gwendolyn pushed a set of papers toward me. “It would only be for another six months. And of course, your salary would reflect the double workload, since you’ll still have to maintain Armstrong in some capacity while you assist Lincoln in transitioning into his role here.”

“I’m sorry, what—”

Gwendolyn pulled me into an awkward hug, holding onto my shoulders when she stepped back. Her eyes were glassy and red-rimmed. “You have no idea how much I appreciate your willingness to take this on. As soon as your contract is fulfilled, you have my word that I’ll give you a glowing recommendation to whichever organization you’d like. Your mother told me you’re interested in starting your own foundation. I’ll certainly help you in any way I’m able if you’ll stay on a little longer for me.” She dabbed at the corner of her eyes and sniffed, then tapped the papers on the desk. “I already have an agreement ready and an NDA, of course. Everything is tabbed for signing.”

I’m pulled back into the present when Lincoln shifts and one of his huge hands slide up my side and lands on my breast. At the same time, he pushes his nose against my neck, beard tickling my collar bone. He mutters something unintelligible against my skin.

I’m momentarily frozen in shock. Under any other circumstances, I would knee him in the balls. However, he’s not conscious or even semi-aware that he’s fondling me. Thankfully, now that he’s moved, I have some wiggle room.

I elbow him in the ribs, which probably hurts me more than it does him. At least it gets him to move away enough that I can slip out from under him. I roll off the bed and pop back up, smoothing out my now- wrinkled dress. My stupid nipples are perky, thanks to the attention the right one just got. Probably because it’s the most action I’ve seen since I started working for the Mooreheads eight months ago.

I hit the lights on the way out of the bedroom, pause in the kitchen to grab a glass of water and check out the sheet of paper on the counter. It’s a list of important details regarding the penthouse, including the entry code.

I nab my purse, snap a pic, and head for the elevators.

I have a feeling this is going to be a long six months.
 

 

MEET HELENA

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

Follow Helena

Author Website  | Facebook  | Facebook Fan Group
Twitter @HelenaHunting

Instagram – @HelenaHunting
Never miss an update! Subscribe to Helena’s mailing list

 

 

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CHAPTER REVEAL ~ MAKING UP by Helena Hunting

Making Up, an all-new laugh-out-loud romantic comedy standalone from New York Times bestselling author Helena Hunting is coming 16th July and we
have a fun excerpt from
chapter
one for you!

Making Up_ebook.jpg

 

Making Up_ebook.jpgCosy Felton is great at her job—she knows just how to handle the awkwardness that comes with working at an adult toy store. So when the hottest guy she’s ever seen walks into the shop looking completely overwhelmed, she’s more than happy to turn on the charm and help him purchase all of the items on his list.

Griffin Mills is using his business trip in Las Vegas as a chance to escape the broken pieces of his life in New York City. The last thing he wants is to be put in charge of buying gag gifts for his friend’s bachelor party. Despite being totally out of his element, and mortified by the whole experience, Griffin is pleasantly surprised when he finds himself attracted to the sales girl that helped him.

As skeptical as Cosy may be of Griffin’s motivations, there’s something about him that intrigues her. But sometimes what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas and when real life gets in the way, all bets are off. Filled with hilariously awkward situations and enough sexual chemistry to power Sin City, Making Up is the next standalone in the Shacking Up world.

Pre-order your copy today!

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EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER ONE

© Helena Hunting 2019
All rights reserved.

Sexy Suit

Cosy

Working in an adult toy store is the opposite of glamorous. Sure, I get a fifty-percent discount, which is a real perk, but it doesn’t offset some of the weirdness I have to deal with. Such as Eugene, one of the locals who frequents the shop on a regular basis. He came in this morning and handled all the display toys. He’s mostly harmless, but the silicone fondling is pretty high on the creepy factor. Eventually I told him I had to close up for a few minutes so I could grab lunch. The deli across the street has the best daily specials.

While I wait for my chicken shawarma, I make a mental list of all the things I need to do this afternoon: check the magazines to make sure the pages aren’t stuck together, restock the flavored lube, and wipe down everything Eugene molested with toy cleaner. Once I’ve tackled those less-than-fun chores, I can work on my assignment for my hospitality class, provided I don’t have real customers.

I glance out the window, checking to make sure Eugene isn’t loitering around in front of the store, waiting to be let back in. Sometimes he’ll stop by more than once during my shift. He’s not there—thank God—but there’s a black sports car parked in the lot. It looks nice and possibly expensive, which might mean an actual customer who will spend money.

Loki, the cashier at the deli, hands me my drinks and shawarma.

“Thanks! Have a great day!”

“You too,” Loki says to my chest.

As I leave the store, I see a man in a suit reading the sign I taped to the door. I don’t want to miss a potential customer, so I take a deep breath and mentally shift gears, putting on my best sales-person mask. I have to pretend to be a completely different person when I deal with customers, so I can get through what would otherwise be a fairly embarrassing event. Discussing the ins and outs of sex toys with strangers is not something I particularly enjoy, but it’s a paycheck, so I’ve learned to roll with it.

My root beer foams and drips down the straw while my coffee sloshes onto my hand—the lids never fit right—and my chicken shawarma dangles perilously between my pinkie and ring finger as I cross the street.

The suit doesn’t look creepy like Eugene, but then, suits can be deceiving. Half the time they think they can proposition me like a sex worker. Or they pretend the weird stuff they’re buying is a gift and not for them. Pfft. I know better.

Suit turns and heads for his car, so I call out, “Hey! You in the suit, hold on!”

His shoulders hunch, as if he’s trying to be smaller, which is physically impossible. Based on the size of him, he probably played college football. Or he has Marvel comic hero blood relatives. Either way, he’s a big dude.

He stops walking, though, which is good. I could use some sales today. The commission boost is always a plus to the shitty minimum wage. Rent is due next week, and judging by his car, he has money to burn.

My heels are skyscrapers, and everything I’m wearing is either too short or too tight to facilitate running—the Sex Toy Warehouse uniform is supposed to be sexy, aka revealing—so I awkwardly jog the rest of the way while trying to get the key to the shop out of my pocket and not drop my shawarma. The manager gave me my own set since I frequently open the store.

“Sorry to keep you waiting; plastic dicks don’t quite cut it for lunch.” Inwardly I cringe, because seriously, why did I say that?

“I would imagine they’re not all that satisfying,” he replies in a deep voice that would probably sound good whispering naughty things in my ear.

I’m not sure if he meant that suggestively or not. Regardless, I walked right into that one.

I finally look up. Dear sweet Jesus on a cloud of marshmallows, this is my lucky day. The suit is gorgeous. Like the kind of hotness that sucks the breath right out of your lungs and sends all the blood in your body rushing between your legs. It’s a good thing clits don’t react like penises, otherwise mine would be hanging out of the bottom of my shorts with excitement. I’m thankful my physical reaction is limited to damp underwear and tingles.

His dark hair is straight and cut short, parted at the side and neatly styled. He’s a cross between a mobster, and a fifties movie star. Capone and Ward Cleaver rolled together and dipped in lust. His nose is straight, lips are full, and he’s got a chin that looks like it could cut glass. His features are strong, but he somehow manages to be boyish even though everything about him screams pure, undiluted masculinity.

His tongue drags across his pillowy bottom lip and his throat bobs. I lift my gaze and meet his eyes. They’re a strange color. Not brown, not green, but some kind of honey-lemon color, ringed in emerald. Like a cat maybe.

 

 

Read the rest of Chapter One

 

Meet Helena

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

Follow Helena

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

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

EXCERPT REVEAL ~ TWISTED by Aleatha Romig

TWISTED is the first book in Aleatha Romig’s all-new new dark romance trilogy, TANGLED WEB, releasing 21st May. 
Are you ready to meet Aleatha’s MOST dangerous alpha yet?
Are you ready to be Aleatha’d? 

 

The underworld of Chicago is far from forgiving. It’s a world where knowledge means power, power money, and money everything.
While I paid the ultimate price to have it all, it wasn’t my decision to give my life..
That doesn’t mean I ceased to exist, only to live.
Going where the job takes me and living in the shadows, with deadly accuracy I utilize the skills inherent to me, not knowing from where they came, not recalling what I’d lost.
And then I saw her.
Laurel Carlson.
I shouldn’t want her, desire her, or need her, yet with each sighting I know she is exactly what I have to have. Laurel has the ability to do what I thought was impossible. She sees what others don’t.
My gut tells me that it’s a deadly mistake to change my plans and open my world to her. My mind says she’ll be repulsed by my twisted existence.
None of that matters, because my body won’t take no for an answer.
I’ve made dangerous mistakes before.
This time, will the price be too high?

From New York Times bestselling author Aleatha Romig comes a brand-new dark romance bringing us back to the same dangerous underworld as SECRETS. You do not need to read the Web of Sin trilogy to get caught in this new and intriguing saga, Tangled Web.

TWISTED is book one of the TANGLED WEB trilogy which will continue in OBSESSED and conclude in BOUND.
Have you been Aleatha’d?

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Enjoy an excerpt from TWISTED, releasing 21st May!

© Aleatha Romig 2019
All rights reserved.

 
His warm breath skirting across my exposed neck offered me reassurance while the rigidity of his body sent another message.His grip of me, the way he held me against him, offered no softness or comfort. Though I couldn’t see his face, I knew without a doubt that this was the man from the gathering. I didn’t know how he’d entered my house or how long he’d been present. At the moment, that seemed irrelevant. All that mattered was he was here now.

His cologne from before was replaced by a masculine scent reminding me of outdoors. This man was wind and rain and cool spring nights with the fury and power notorious with our storms. In his hold, the air around me shifted as if a barometer were falling and the atmosphere was changing.

Slowly, his fingers moved, loosening their grip on my lips.

“How—?” I began.

His hand resumed its position, pressing my lips harder than before, causing them to flatten against my teeth. Though he’d promised otherwise, the pressure brought a copper taste to my tongue and tears to my eyes.

“Don’t speak unless you whisper,” his command came through gritted teeth. “I’ll explain later. Nod if you agree.”

Again, I nodded.

Immediately, the pressure lessened. Once his hand was gone from my mouth, I moved my lips and jaw from side to side. Though he’d released my face, I wasn’t free. My body was captive to the strength of his grasp. One of his arms was still around my waist holding me tightly against the hardness of him. When he’d released my mouth, he’d moved his other arm across my upper chest, keeping my shoulders to his front.

It was the arm holding my waist that garnered my attention. Though his gruff voice was all business, his body was reacting to our proximity, growing harder against the small of my back.
 

 

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Aleatha Romig is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author who lives in Indiana, USA. She grew up in Mishawaka, graduated from Indiana University, and is currently living south of Indianapolis. Aleatha has raised three children with her high school sweetheart and husband of over thirty years. Before she became a full-time author, she worked days as a dental hygienist and spent her nights writing. Now, when she’s not imagining mind-blowing twists and turns, she likes to spend her time a with her family and friends. Her other pastimes include reading and creating heroes/anti-heroes who haunt your dreams and bring your imagination to life!

Aleatha released her first novel, CONSEQUENCES, in August of 2011. CONSEQUENCES became a bestselling series with five novels and two companions released from 2011 through 2015. The compelling and epic story of Anthony and Claire Rawlings has graced more than half a million e-readers. Aleatha released the first of her series TALES FROM THE DARK SIDE, INSIDIOUS, in the fall of 2014. These stand alone thrillers continue Aleatha’s twisted style with an increase in heat.

In the fall of 2015, Aleatha moved head first into the world of dark romantic suspense with the release of BETRAYAL, the first of her five novel INFIDELITY series that has taken the reading world by storm. She also began her traditional publishing career with Thomas and Mercer. Her books INTO THE LIGHT and AWAY FROM THE DARK were published through this mystery/thriller publisher in 2016.

In the spring of 2017, Aleatha released her first stand-alone, fun, and sexy romantic comedy with PLUS ONE, followed by the sweet stand-alone, ONE NIGHT.

Aleatha is a “Published Author’s Network” member of the Romance Writers of America and PEN America. She is represented by Kevan Lyon of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.

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CHAPTER REVEAL ~ SATISFACTION GUARANTEED by Lauren Blakely

 

Today we are thrilled to be sharing a chapter from Lauren Blakely’s all-new romance, SATISFACTION GUARANTEED coming 10th June

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Look, she started it.

She issued me a challenge I couldn’t back down from. Make her purr like no man has done before.

Fine, she’s my business partner’s daughter. All right, I’m also working in the same damn practice with her. Yes, she happens to be my ex-fling. But that was seven years ago, and it was barely a week-long thing.

Except, Sloane is still the one I can’t stop thinking of — brilliant, sexy, captivating Sloane. Maybe a week of taking her to new heights will get her out of my head.

So what if we spend a few nights on the town too? So what if I romance her across Manhattan? It’s all in the name of scientific pursuit of more magnificent Os.

Until the rules change…

Chapter Reveal

© Lauren Blakely 2019
All rights reserved.

 

“It’s been telling me that you and I are becoming friends,” I say, but my tone isn’t entirely friendly.

Her lips curve up. “Is that so? We’re friends?”

“Feels that way.” But it actually feels like we’re in Tahiti again. And tonight is its own separate night, apart from time and space and reason.

“It does feel that way,” she agrees softly. “Do you think we found that alternate universe you mentioned?”

I inch closer. “I’d like to spend a night in that alternate universe.”

She licks her lips. “Everything’s different there.”

“Nothing’s off-limits there.”

“Maybe that’s where we are.” The words come out a little husky, a lot sexy, and I know what’s changing.

The reminder of who she is, how we’re connected, isn’t keeping me away.

The barrier isn’t strong enough tonight.

No matter how much we talk.

No matter how hard we try to be friends or colleagues or business partners.

The wall can’t hold.

The kind of chemistry we have doesn’t disappear with the snap of your fingers or the flip of a switch.

Yes, I want this newfangled friendship. Yes, I want all our various business arrangements to go swimmingly. And tangoing with someone I work with in close quarters is all kinds of risky.

But hell, this woman and I, we have a lot of unfinished business.

And I want to finish it.

Tonight.

I set a hand on her leg, spreading my palm over the fabric covering her thigh. She trembles under my touch. “There’s something I’ve been wondering,” I say, my fingers playing with her dress.

Her voice is a feather. “What’s that?”

I don’t take my eyes off her. Traveling along her body, I wrap my hand around her hip, tightening my grip. The feel of her is intoxicating.

I’ve definitely had more than one drink. I’ve had a whole bottle.

And I want another.

I move my hand to her face, cupping her cheek, sliding my thumb over her lip. “I can’t stop wondering if you taste like champagne.”

Her eyes are etched with desire, blazing with heat. “Why don’t you find out?”

A voice says Do it.

It’s not a little voice. It’s not Truly’s voice.

It’s in my head, and it’s all mine.

And, honestly, it’s probably connected straight to my libido, since that voice has the tendency to override everything else in moments like this.

Like, for instance, good judgment.

Like warnings from business partners too.

I dip my face to hers, savoring every sliver of a second. Her glossy pink lips part the slightest bit, an invitation.

I take my time, because I want to experience every moment of kissing her again. I dust my thumb over the corner of her lips and seal my mouth to hers, capturing her kiss.

Seven long years unfurl. The moment on the street the other week was a mere snapshot. A five-second trailer to tease the audience, to leave them wanting more. This is the opening credits. The start of the whole story, unfolding on screen.

Her lips part, welcoming me. Roping her arms around my neck, she brings herself closer as I sweep my lips over hers.

Our mouths explore. Touching. Discovering. Tasting.

My brain goes hazy, and as I deepen the kiss, I’m nothing but sensations that overwhelm all else.

It’s sparklers waving, lighting up the darkened sky on a hot summer night.

It’s the exhilarating first dip of a sixty-mile-per-hour roller coaster.

It’s the first sip of a vintage Scotch. A taste that makes you moan. That makes your mouth water and crave so much more.

Kissing Sloane is everything good in the world. She tastes like champagne, and it goes to my head. Her hair smells like vanilla, and it floods my senses. I want to kiss her breathless. Yanking her closer, I grind against her, needing her to feel how much I want her. She groans as she clearly gets my message.

Then she sends her own message, wrapping her hands tighter around my neck. She’s fierce, kissing me harder, rougher.

It’s like past times and it’s like present times, because there’s a brand-new urgency between us.

My pulse spikes and my blood heats. It’s as if a clock is ticking. Hell, time’s speeding up, spinning faster.

I’m vaguely aware we’re in public.

But I don’t care because the woman I’ve wanted for years is rubbing against the outline of my cock. Her fingers dart to my hair, tugging. “Harder, more,” she pants.

Damn, those are two of my favorite words.

I give her a rough, demanding kiss, but soon she breaks it, taking a moment to breathe, to smooth her hair.

“So how are we doing as friends?” she asks, a naughty glint in her lovely brown eyes.

I need a second to recalibrate, since we just went from racing around the track to a leisurely drive.

“I’d say we’re great friends in our alternate universe.” I lower my face and kiss her neck, whispering, “If friends do this . . .”

 
 

 
 

 
About Lauren Blakely:

A #1 New York Times Bestselling, #1 Wall Street Journal Bestselling, and #1 Audible Bestselling author, Lauren Blakely is known for her contemporary romance style that’ssweet, sexy and witty. Her heroines are strong and smart and her heroes have hearts of gold and fantastic funny bones. With fourteen New York Times bestsellers, her titles have appeared on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestseller Lists more than 100 times, and she’s sold more than 3 million books.

In June she’ll release SATISFACTION GUARANTEED and in September INSTANT GRATIFICATION.

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She’d love to give you a free book today! Check out her web site to grab your free read HERE

BLOG TOUR ~ CONCERTO by Skye Warren


Concerto, the highly anticipated second book in the North Security Series from New York Times bestselling author Skye Warren is available now!

Concerto.jpg

The spotlight lands on Samantha Brooks. Years of practice build to the opening night of a global tour. She plays her heart out, but there are darker forces underneath the stage.

There are eyes watching from the wings.

Liam North fights to keep her safe with every weapon he owns. She’s his greatest pride—and his greatest weakness. The danger comes from somewhere no one expected. Betrayal threatens to destroy everything he’s built. His business. His family. His life.

When the curtain falls, only one of them will be left standing.

Concerto - AN.jpg

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Reviewed by Sharon Thérèse at KFF

I honestly didn’t think Warren would be able to surprise me even more than she’d already had in Overture, but with her wicked penmanship, she’s done it again and very well indeed. Ooh my, the surges of exuberance and angst in vividly described scenes had me sitting on the edge of my seat, and the cliffy… it’s excruciatingly frustrating. Waiting for Sonata, the last book in the North Security Series releasing this summer means my agony instantly became tenfold after turning the last page!

Samantha Brookes left me aghast at every turn. Gone are those days when she was a meek teenage prodigy. Watching her grow into a mature young woman whose voice is heard, who’s not afraid to defend and prove to herself and others, was a joy to read. And learning about how Liam had suffered in his youth provoked tears. A raw emotive romance in all aspects, having tissues at hand isn’t a bad idea.

“I don’t want to hurt for you. That isn’t how love should be”
“It’s the only way I know how.”
 

Liam. Well, he’s gained a special place in my heart regardless of his weaknesses. Underneath his tough exterior is a sensitive man totally hellbent on discovering the truth and protecting the only woman capable of bringing him to his knees. So why then does he still insist on shadowing Samantha when all she wants is her to be her own woman and on her terms? And believe you me, what evolved was so unexpectedly dangerous and nail-biting that I found myself rereading certain passages.

“All we know is how to survive, Samantha. And we will kill anything that threatens that.” 

Liam and Samantha’s story will tug at your heartstrings; the musical references will enchant you in every possible way. Two completely different characters struggle with the past and the present. Will Liam put back on his boxing gloves on and fight for both of their lives, their delicate relationship? Well, we’re going to have to be patient to see what happens.

“She’s the weakest part of you, laid out on a platter for your enemies.” 

Concerto overflows with everything I look for in a good book, and definitely a forbidden romance to be reckoned with. Warren’s delivered a well-written and well-thought-out plot that will keep you guessing, and make you turn the pages at lightning speed. The character development is spot on. You’ll love who you should and hate others with a vengeance. I, for one, couldn’t stand one certain interfering individual whose sharp tongue cut deeply. If there were ever a thriller that’s brought out feelings of helplessness, fear and anger in me this year, this is the one!

“Have you managed hundreds, thousands of shows? No, because you’re only a child. Not a very bright one…” 

Of course, I mustn’t forget to mention the steaminess! What I really liked most of all though is love comes first, the intimate scenes are just a delectable plus. Hmm…Liam certainly spices things up with his filthy tongue. No pun intended, ladies! Bravo Warren!

“When he touches me, I feel my whole body sing. The notes fill the air even if he steals my breath.”

Excerpt

© Skye Warren 2019
All rights reserved.

CONCERTO

One day I had been a man with a death wish—and the next I was responsible for a twelve-year-old girl. And then she grew up into a beautiful woman. At every turn she’s been a surprise.I touch my fingers to her temple and stroke her cheek. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life it’s that everything will change. Don’t worry about your future. Do this because you love it, right now. Play. Compose. Perform. Sometimes all you have is right now.”My hand trails down her jaw, until the backs of my fingers rest against her throat. Her vocal cords vibrate as she speaks. Ripples of pleasure and pain resound through my body.“I’m not performing right now,” she whispers.

I have her tucked into the ivy, as deep as she can go. I’m blocking her with my body—keeping her within reach, keeping everyone else away. It’s the only way I’ve ever been able to breathe.
A knot forms in my throat.

“What do you want?”

Right now. The words move between us like the cool night breeze.

It shouldn’t be possible for her to live up to the image in my head, the perfection that I’ve been imagining every goddamn night. Except it doesn’t even do her justice.

She’s living breathing perfection.

Somehow, I’m leaning close. Is it only me who wants this? Her breath brushes over my lips. What do you want? I asked her. “This,” she whispers, and then she closes the centimeters between us.

Four weeks. That’s how long I’ve been apart from her.

It might as well have been four years. A lifetime of silence. The moment her lips touch mine I’m suffused with music, thousands of notes that she’s played for me, a million heartbeats.

By the time she pulls back I’m breathing hard. I can run a marathon barely breaking a sweat. Being near this woman is enough to break my body into pieces.

 

Start the series with OVERTURE

Forbidden fruit never tasted this sweet…

The world knows Samantha Brooks as the violin prodigy. She guards her secret truth—the desire she harbors for her guardian.

Liam North got custody of her six years ago. She’s all grown up now, but he still treats her like a child. No matter how much he wants her.

No matter how bad he aches for one taste.

Her sweet overtures break down the ex-soldier’s defenses, but there’s more at stake than her body. Every touch, every kiss, every night. The closer she gets, the more exposed his darkest secret.

She’s one step away from finding out what happened the night she lost her family. One step away from leaving him forever.

OVERTURE is the first novel in a brand new series from New York Times bestselling author Skye Warren.

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SKyeWarren.jpgSkye Warren is the New York Times bestselling author of dangerous romance such as the Endgame trilogy. Her books have been featured in Jezebel, Buzzfeed, USA Today Happily Ever After, Glamour, and Elle Magazine. She makes her home in Texas with her loving family, sweet dogs, and evil cat.

 

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REVIEW & EXCERPT ~ LOTUS EFFECT by Trisha Wolfe

Today we are delighted to be sharing USA Today bestselling author Trisha Wolfe’s most riveting psych thriller yet, LOTUS EFFECT


 
When the past resurfaces, can she escape her killer a second time?

Lakin Hale, true crime writer and victim of an attack that left her for dead, helps crime solvers and victims close cold cases, yet there is one crime she hasn’t been able to solve:

Her own.

As she embarks on a new case, working closely with Special Agent Rhys Nolan, the details of the murder begin to eerily resemble the event that nearly ended her life. A silhouette of a man haunts her dreams, but there were only two people there that night–Lakin and her murderer. Is the phantom hero who pulled her from the water a delusion, or is he the only one who can unlock her dark memories?

Buried in a watery grave of lotuses, the victim calls out to Lakin, unearthing painful memories of what was stolen from her that fateful night. For those that played a part, it’s now time to answer for their sins.
 
 

LOTUS EFFECT is now available free to read in KindleUnlimited!

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Reviewed by Anna on behalf of KFF

This is my first book by this author and has totally grabbed my attention from page one. This psychological thriller, my favourite genre, will keep you guessing who the perpetrator is right until the last chapter.

Lakin Hale is a true crime author who partners with Special Agent Rhys Nolan of the FBI and digs up and solves cold cases. She was a victim of a violent crime herself and ironically because of memory loss her own case still remains unsolved.

Told in first person point of view, alternating between the past and the present, Lakin is portrayed as a detached but methodical character who through personal experience successfully manages to connect the dots on the cold cases she handles with Rhys. She is a survivor, a strong woman but shows her vulnerable side to Rhys during her weak moments. I am fascinated with the author’s witty and clever narrative that draws the reader’s attention to more than a few suspects. Wolfe’s main players can be clinical at times in which I am glad because this is a psychological thriller after all, although a romantic angle develops in the last quarter of the book between Lakin and Rhys. The frequent mention of the lotus and the parallelisms with Lakin is a play of metaphors and present a big clue to the story.

“I am not like the leaves of the lotus; I am its petals. Soft and pliable, but also sharp and deadly, like the blade that carved my body. I do not suffer my scars. They’re a testament of my strength and will to survive.” 

I won’t give any more details to avoid any spoilers but if there is one thing I would like to say is that I would have never guessed who the antagonist is. I had my suspicions but every now and then the author throws in little misleading bones and I grab it and then in the next chapter I find out I was wrong or was I? This new-to-me author has impressed me so much that I am definitely going to look up her other books and add them to my list. I highly recommend this.

Excerpt

© Trisha Wolfe 2019
All rights reserved.

 
On the one-year anniversary of my attack, Rhys convinced me to return to Silver Lake.I had vowed never to go back…not until my attacker was apprehended…and it was a painful vow to break. We retraced my steps. From the campus to the driveway of Drew’s previous home (where Chelsea told me about the pregnancy). From the apartment I shared with my roommate (where Drew and I argued and the police took my statement) to the Dock House (where my roommate tried to help me forget). Then, to the pier of the lake, not far from the Silver Lake community where my parents still live.Rhys and I stared at the rippling reflection of the crescent moon on the water.

Lotuses blanketed the lake with a iridescent sheen.

I listened to the crickets’ chirr, a haunting melody that I had no memory of from that fateful night. The wicked sound of frogs croaking filled the otherwise calm air. A desolate and eerie quietness that froze my bones.

That was the moment I revealed him to Rhys. The secret I’d kept from everyone—that twisted belief I had wrestled with, wanting to believe in my phantom hero some days, to deny his existence others.

The man who pulled me from the water.

The only memory—real or not—that I had from the night of my near demise.

In that moment, I wished I had Rhys’s training. I wanted to look at his face and read what he was thinking. But then, I was also terrified to know.

His actions have always spoken louder than his words. His silence sliced at me like the weapon used to carve my body all those nights ago. His weighted stare bled right through me, and when he cupped my face and placed a kiss to my brow, I dissolved under that comfort.

It didn’t matter if he believed me or not. Whether I had imagined it or not.

I was alive.

Man or animal, ghost or angel—whatever fished me from the lake—I had not drowned.

It was time to live.

The roll of the car engine awakens me from my post-flight trance. Inside Rhys’s rented sedan, I reach for my seatbelt and buckle in, pushing the heaviness from my chest.

“Ready?” he asks.

Deep breath. I twist the band around my wrist. “I am.”
 

 

 Meet Trisha

USA Today bestselling romantic thriller author Trisha Wolfe. From an early age, Trisha Wolfe dreamed up imaginary worlds and characters and was accused of talking to herself. Today, she lives in South Carolina with her family and writes full time, using her imaginary worlds as an excuse to continue talking to herself.

For more information on Trisha Wolfe and her works, please visit: TrishaWolfe.com

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EXCERPT REVEAL ~ CALLUM’S HELL by V.F. Mason

Callum’s Hell by V.F. Mason releases on 17th May!
#DarkRomance #Standalone #DarkAsHell

ADD TO YOUR TBR

 

She knew no chaos…until I claimed her.

She was a florist.
He was a serial killer.

She created beauty.
He created chaos.

She belonged to nature.
He belonged to the underworld.

She was an angel.
He was the devil.

She wanted to escape.
He trapped her instead.

They played a dangerous game with their lives at stake.
Where the winner took it all and the loser burned in hell.

EXCERPT:

They say obsessions and insanity go hand-in-hand, but I have another theory.

Possession and desire go hand-in-hand, because they create such deep insanity a man is willing to eliminate everything and everyone in his way to get to what he wants.

I flick my fingers and knock two pawns from the chessboard, ready to strike again.

By the time this is done, there will be no one but the queen left standing.

About the author

V.F.Mason always loved reading books and had quite a few fights with her momma over the genre she liked (romance, duh!) She studied film-making and thought that would feed her desire for stories, but that didn’t happen. Finally, when she was tired of all those voices in her head, she sat down and wrote a book. It was a huge decision to make and she thanks her friends and family for supporting her in it. When she is not writing, she can be found with her friends doing all sorts of crazy things or reading recent romance books that were written by her favorite authors.

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