BLOG TOUR ~ HANDLE WITH CARE by Helena Hunting

Today we are delighted to be on tour with Handle With Care, an all-new romantic comedy from New York Times bestselling author Helena Hunting. Read Chapter One, Q&A and KFF’s review and enter KFF’s awesome #Giveaway of a signed copy!

 

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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Reviewed by Sharon Thérèse at KFF

Hunting has really spoilt her readers this summer with two stand-alone novels in the Shacking Up series but sadly, Handle With Care is the last one. What a send-off! As per usual, I read the book in one sitting; however, this one felt totally different. Laugh-out-loud scenes intermingled with intrigue had me hooked. Something just didn’t seem to add up and I wanted to find out what it was.

The mysterious Lincoln Moorhead is not a happy man. Back in New York City to attend the funeral of his father, never did he expect or even want to be tied to the family-run business. A good chunk of his life had been spent shirking them, and now he has little choice other than to accept his grandmother’s proposal. Moorhead Media’s future meant the only person to be trusted at the helm was him. Well, how could he not say no to her! Sharp and oh-so-witty, I’d love to have a grandmother like Lincoln’s in my life.

“I don’t even know who I am. I don’t want these people to be my family. How is this the legacy I’m supposed to uphold?” 

Understandably, Lincoln’s short-tempered. Especially knowing full well he’d have to deal with his infamous brother’s compulsive and bizarre nature inside and out of the office. You really must meet Armstrong if you haven’t already. You probably won’t like him, but his outrageous shenanigans added a whole lot of spice to the story. No wonder he rubbed Lincoln up the wrong way!

“Are you ready to deal with Armstrong now?”
“Is anyone ever?”
 

Nonetheless, the surprise was the jaw-droppingly beautiful gal who’d already been contracted to put out the flames, making everything look like false publicity. Now it’s the new CEO’s turn but for different reasons. Organising Lincoln’s agenda and giving him much-needed makeover is on the cards.

“You can’t tell me I can’t shave me head or force me to get a haircut.” 

Laugh until I cried, Wren Sterling’s modus operandi regarding Lincoln is really a case of snip, tuck and straighten. Although he wasn’t at all keen on the idea, I never heard him complain when she ran her fingers through his hair, tucked in his shirt or fiddled with his tie before attending meetings. The forces of attraction cannot be denied, but the job comes first. She’s very, very good at it and although Lincoln doesn’t feel comfortable being back after such a long time, he’s adapting slowly and doing a damn good job, too.

‘That lipstick drives me up the wall. It’s always on. Always perfect. Always a distraction.’ 

Told from a dual perspective in present and overflowing with playful banter and steaminess, Lincoln’s narrative of his past evoked all the feels. Wren’s put between a rock and a hard place, faces it head-on and had me happy dancing. Here’s one spunky woman who’s not going to take any nonsense from anyone!

“I don’t know how every man who crosses your path doesn’t fall in love with you. Everything about you is incredible.” 

Guessing the twist before the ending didn’t spoil my reading enjoyment in the slightest. My only wish was the person behind some awfully cruel manoeuvres would get what they deserved. Hunting’s wrapped up this series perfectly and I couldn’t recommend it more. Bravo!

CHAPTER ONE

From Handle With Care. Copyright © 2019 by Helena Hunting and reprinted with permission from St. Martin’s Paperbacks.

All rights reserved.

WHAT HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO?

WREN

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 down side, 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 ashes 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. There’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. Here’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 there’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 work load, 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 her 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 slides up my side and lands on my breast. At the same time, he pushes his nose against my neck, beard tickling my collarbone. 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.

 

Handle With Care Blogger Q&A – Helena Hunting

Can you tell us a little about your new release, Handle with Care?

Handle with Care follows the story of the reclusive Lincoln Moorehead, who has done everything he can to separate himself from his family and their massive media corporation. Upon the death of his father, he’s forced to come home for the funeral, and then asked to stay on to help transition the company with the assistance of Wren Sterling who has been commissioned to overhaul Lincoln’s image in the public eye.  

Lincoln Morehead and Wren Sterling are the lead characters in Handle with Care. Which one of them did you find the easiest to develop? What is each character’s best and worst traits?

I always find developing the male lead the easiest. I’m not sure why exactly that is, but Lincoln’s character was so easy to round out and develop. Lincoln’s worst trait is that he jumps to conclusions without first getting all the facts, but his best trait is his altruism. He’s very much about giving back, and despite the fact that he can be a grumpy jerk, he’s also an incredibly good human being. Wren’s worst trait is that she can be a martyr for things that are outside of her control but her best trait is her strength of character and her belief in redemption.

What was your greatest challenge while Handle with Care? What was your greatest pleasure and/or reward?

Wren is a badass heroine, so I think finding the balance between her strength of character and those hints of vulnerability could be tricky at times. I really wanted to humanize her and make her relatable and I hope readers connect with her. I LOVED writing the banter between Linc and Wren. They are both such strong personalities, and that made putting them head to head so much fun. 

Which do you find easiest to write-the humour or the heart?

Humor always seems to find a natural place inside the story, but for me, it’s about the balance between the two. I love taking a heavy moment and inserting some kind of comic relief before I go for the feels again. 

Q  Do you work from an outline while writing your novels? How closely do the finished novels fit your original vision of the characters and storyline before you begin writing?

I outline extensively. Most of the time I have about ten thousand words of outline and character development before I even start writing. It’s just how I work most effectively. I need to know who my characters are going in and where I want them to be by the end of the book. I generally stick to my outlines very closely since they are so detailed.

Q  What did you edit OUT of this book?

A lot of f-bombs. 

Q  Do you listen to music while writing? Does it influence the flow of the scene you are writing? 

I do. I create playlists for every single book I write, and I often (always) listen to the same playlist while I write the book. This means that I burn out albums and songs for my family on a very, very regular basis. My husband’s list of artists he will no longer listen to grows exponentially with every release. Halsey always finds a place on my playlist and the song Joaquim by Oscar and the Wolf was a particular favourite.

Q  When sitting down to write a new book you have a specific outline to follow or does it just flow naturally?

The first step in my process is always to write an outline. I need the bones of the story down, where the character arcs will fall and what the conflicts will look like before I start writing the book.

Q What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

I like hanging out with my daughter and craft. Recently we went camping, which was a fun experience, although I grew up with a family cottage so we would spend a lot of the summer there. 

Q  Name three things on your desk right now.

Broken Knight by LJ Shen, Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey, Resist by K. Bromberg, Undeniable by Melanie Harlow, The Last Letter by Rebecca Yarros (still gives me the chills when I think about it), Verity by Colleen Hoover.

Q  What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

The banter between Wren and Linc and writing a grumpy, jerk hero who really isn’t a jerk but sure acts like one! 

Q  To get to know you a little bit better… do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?

I have two cats, Digit is a 14-year-old pure white polydactyl cat who sheds like nobodies business and Pumpkin (named by our daughter) is a 6-year-old black cat who often thinks he’s a dog, eat edamame beans and begs for bacon at the table.  

Q  You’ve written many books & bestsellers, in many genres.  What has been your favourite to write thus far?

That’s a hard question to answer. I love them all for very different reasons, but I will say that I had a lot of fun writing Wren and Linc because of the banter and how much I love writing a strong heroine. 

Q  What was your favourite book or series in your youth?

I used to love reading VC Andrews books, and Clive Barker, which I realize are very, very different! 

What would you like us (the readers) to take away from your story?

That families aren’t perfect and people can make mistakes, yet still grow from them.

Q  What is your favourite platform to connect with your reader to date?

I have a reader group called The Beaver Den and I love it in there. The readers are always sharing book experiences and it’s a great community! If you want to join my group you can do it here: Facebook Reader Group 

Q  What project(s) are you currently working on?

I just finished the third book in the All In Series, which the first book will be releasing this fall. Next, I’m starting a standalone, but I also have a new series I’ll be starting soon, and I have a book idea or two for secondary characters in the last two books of The Shacking Up series, as well. It’s safe to say that my writing schedule is planned for the next two years!

Q  Do you believe in love at first sight?

I don’t know about love at first sight but when I saw my husband from across the room for the first time I thought, “man, he’s pretty” and then when we had our first conversation the connection was instant. I think people can “click” and be drawn to each other for inexplicable reasons.

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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

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DARE: A ROCK STAR HERO by S.L. Scott is LIVE!

We’re a Hurricane in the Making.

Today we are thrilled to be sharing S.L. Scott’s brand new romance,
DARE: A ROCK STAR HERO.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Download your copy or read in KindleUnlimited

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For a Chance to WIN a Rock Star Bundle including a $50 Amazon Gift Card, 3 Signed Rock Star Romances, The Resistance USB drive, Pen, Koozie, Bookmarks, Pin, and a Choose the Dare Bracelet, enter HERE

MEET THE AUTHOR

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

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

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

FOLLOW S.L

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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CHAPTER ONE ~ On the Corner of Love and Hate

© 2019 Nina Bocci
All rights reserved.

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

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

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

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

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

Thud. Whoosh. Slap. 

NINA BOCCI 2 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ON THE CORNER OF LOVE AND HATE 3 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NINA BOCCI 4 

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

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

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

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

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

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

ON THE CORNER OF LOVE AND HATE 5 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NINA BOCCI 6 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ON THE CORNER OF LOVE AND HATE 7 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ON THE CORNER OF LOVE AND HATE 9 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
 

Reviewed by Sharon Thérèse at KFF

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out our exclusive Q&A with Nina HERE

Enter Nina’s fabulous giveaway of an elegant Coach Lavender Satchel
here → Rafflecopter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon eBook: U.S | U.K | CAN | AUS

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

Nook | Apple Books | Kobo

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

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

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

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

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

Pre-order your copy today!

Amazon eBook: U.S | CAN | U.K | AUS

 

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

 

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

We’re a Hurricane in the Making.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENTER TO WIN A SIGNED PB + a $50 GIFT CARD HERE

Check out the Excerpt
Here

MEET THE AUTHOR

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

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

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

FOLLOW S.L

Newsletter Website The Scott Scoop | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Pinterest | Amazon | Goodreads Huffington Post Contributor Page

BookBub | Book + Main Bites S.L. Scott FB Reader Group 

 

THE DUST AND THE ROAR by Cat Porter is LIVE!

Today we are thrilled to be sharing Cat Porter’s all-new MC Romance stand-alone, THE DUST AND THE ROAR

Cover Design: Lori Jackson Design

 

Screw the rules.

Army veteran Richie Tallin returns to South Dakota from a disastrous war with nothing to gain and nothing to lose. With no real home, his family in shambles, his dad’s old motorcycle becomes the key to a new life as Wreck, the Road Captain of an outlaw motorcycle club. Now he’s living the life he’s always craved—freedom, good times, loyalty, no regrets, and, hell yes, no rules.
But when he finally gets a chance with Isi, a feisty girl he’s had his eye on for years, everything shifts. As fiercely independent as Wreck, Isi is determined to restart her life and keep her family’s business afloat while she hides a wounded past. She and Wreck light a fire in each other that’s unexpected and wild, and what begins as a casual fling becomes passionate and serious real fast.

Life is good.

But when a war of revenge, payback, and power breaks out, everyone gets caught in the crossfire. Choices are made. Sacrifices that can never be undone. In a crazy 80’s world of drug dealers, rock and rollers, and rival outlaws, Wreck and Isi are determined to hold on come what may.

And come it does.

Few know how the One-Eyed Jacks MC of Meager came to be. And fewer still, how the love of one woman changed the destiny of a small town in the Black Hills of South Dakota forever.

This biker saga / motorcycle club biker romance / romantic suspense / romantic adventure / small-town romance / coming of age / women’s fiction / inspirational family saga novel takes place before the Lock & Key Series and is a stand-alone set in the late 1970s through the 1980s and can be read before OR after the four-book series. This book contains adult language, sex, violence, drug use and is intended for mature audiences only


Download your copy today or read in KindleUnlimited!

DADDY ME by Ker Dukey & K Webster is now available!

Today we are delighted to be bringing you DADDY ME from international bestselling authors Ker Dukey and K Webster.
Download this fast-paced, hot instalove standalone lunchtime read from their KKinky Reads collection now!

 

Dreams are supposed to be encouraged.
Not mine.
My brother likes to keep me on a tight leash, tethered to an unexceptional life.
But when Ronan Hayes walks into our family-owned bar, he opens my cage and offers me freedom.

Ronan wants to give me the world.
A chance to take flight and soar.
He sees something special in me, and I want nothing more than to be that for him.
Special.

He’s my dream maker.
My shot. My hope. My everything.

Ronan craves to take care of me.
A protector. A confidant. A provider. A lover.
He wants to daddy me.
And I want to let him.

This is a steamy, kinky romance sure to make you blush! A perfect combination of sweet and sexy you can devour in one sitting! You’ll get a happy ending that’ll make you swoon!

This is not a dark romance.

Download your copy for only 99 cents today!

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

Available in Kindle Unlimited!

Add to Goodreads

Reviewed by Emma-Louise

Young, talented and under the thumb, Sofina lives a half-life of sadness and misery.

Controlled by events and people she is stuck in the middle between what she wants and doing the right thing.

Ronan blows her life completely up, providing her with the tools she needs to stand on her own two feet and be strong enough to take what she wants, when she wants it.

Moments of clarity come and go for her. Daddy Me is a hot, erotic tale of self-discovery and owning what you like with no guilt attached.

Insta-love doesn’t always work for this reader; it can sometimes be over the top and a little too cheesy. This was not the case with Daddy Me. Both Ronan and Sofina owned their feelings and we completely into the life they had chosen for themselves.

Daddy Me is a quick and enjoyable read, something that can be devoured at lunch time or in peace whilst sitting in the park enjoying the sunshine.  

 

ALSO AVAILABLE IN THE KKINKY READS COLLECTION

#1 Share Me

They have one job.

Keep me safe.

But none of us are safe against the allure we have when we’re together.

Control and professionalism used to be something they prided themselves on.

But now that we’re secluded and alone, lines blur and control quickly loses to need.

Someone is trying to snuff out my life, but they may not get the chance if I’m devoured whole by my saviors first.

This is a fiery-hot mfmmm romance sure to make you self-combust! A perfect combination of sweet and sexy with a smidgen of suspense! You’ll get a happy ending that’ll make you swoon!

This is not a dark romance.

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

Available in Kindle Unlimited!

Add to Goodreads

 

#2 Choke Me – only 99c!

I had a plan.
Make Ren Hayes pay.
But plans don’t always turn out the way we want them to.

He was found not guilty of murdering my best friend.
But that doesn’t make him innocent.
In my eyes, he’s guilty.

Guilty of charming everyone around him into believing his innocence.
Guilty of being so intoxicating I forget who he is—what he is.
And guilty of awakening parts of me I never knew existed before his touch.

I know eventually, I’ll succumb.
His allure beckons me.
Keeping me on the edge of madness between lust and hate.

In the end, it’s me who’s guilty.
Guilty of allowing him to take my breath away.

This is a super steamy romance sure to take your breath away! A perfect combination of sweet and sexy with a smidgen of suspense that you can gobble up in just an hour or two! You’ll get a happy ending that’ll make you swoon!

This is not a dark romance.

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

Available in Kindle Unlimited!

Add to Goodreads

 

Enter the authors’ fabulous giveaway HERE

Meet Ker 

My books all tend to be darker romance, the edge of your seat, angst-filled reads. My advice to my readers when starting one of my titles… prepare for the unexpected.

I have always had a passion for storytelling, whether it be through lyrics or bedtime stories with my sisters growing up.

My mom would always have a book in her hand when I was young and passed on her love for reading, inspiring me to venture into writing my own. Not all love stories are made from light- some are created in darkness but are just as powerful and worth telling.

When I’m not lost in the world of characters, I love spending time with my family. I’m a mom and that comes first in my life, but when I do get down time, I love attending music concerts or reading events with my younger sister.

Follow Ker

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 Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub | Newsletter | Email

 

Meet K Webster

K Webster is a USA Today Bestselling author of over seventy romance books in many different genres including dark romance, taboo romance, contemporary romance, historical romance, paranormal romance, and erotic romance. When not spending time with her supportive husband and two adorable children, she’s active on social media connecting with her readers.

Her other passions besides writing include reading and graphic design. K can always be found in front of her computer chasing her next idea and taking action. She looks forward to the day when she will see one of her titles on the big screen.

You can easily find K Webster on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads!

Can’t find a certain book? Maybe it’s too hot for Amazon! Don’t worry because titles like Bad Bad Bad, This is War, Baby, The Wild, and Hale can all be found for sale on K’s website in both ebook and paperback format.

Follow K Webster

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SATISFACTION GUARANTEED by Lauren Blakely is available now!

Today we are thrilled to be sharing New York Times bestselling author Lauren Blakely’s all-new stand-alone romance, SATISFACTION GUARANTEED in the
Always Satisfied series.

 

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…

DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY TODAY!

Amazon Universal | Apple Books | Nook | Kobo | Google Play

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Audible

Performed by Andi Arndt and Jason Clarke, with Jason performing an album of fully produced classic love songs at the end of the story!

EXCERPT

© Lauren Blakely 2019
All rights reserved.

 
I meet Sloane’s gaze then go for it. Because this night has only one destination. “We should go to Tahiti.”“Tonight?”
“Too long a flight?”

She lets go of my hand and holds up her thumb and forefinger. “Maybe a little. Not that I’m turning down a trip to Tahiti. Wait? Are you saying you want to take me to Tahiti? Because I can pack like that.”

Smiling, I slide my hand to her ass, squeezing. I whisper roughly in her ear, “I’m saying I’d like to escape with you. Like we’re getting away for the night. Let’s fuck away all this hot, wild desire.”

She exhales then goes quiet, perhaps lost in thought. “But I thought we were going to resist kissing.”

I brush the backs of my fingers along her jaw. “We already failed that test.”

She pouts. “I was supposed to be an un-vixen.”

“Didn’t work. You’re the opposite, and I want you so fucking much.” I press against her. “You have me so wound up. I’m pretty sure you’re wound up too.”

She pushes back. “You know I am. You know I want you too. That was never the issue.”

I have to get closer to her. I need to have her. “Let’s give in. Just once.” I slide my fingers into her hair, she leans her head against my palm, and I continue making my case. “I can take you places. I can make you feel extraordinary, like I’ve always wanted to.”

She hums. “You’re making it hard to say no.”

“True. I’m very hard to resist.”

A smile spreads across her face. “You are, Malone. You’re terribly, impossibly hard to resist.” She nibbles on her bottom lip. “One night. Our secret. What happens in Tahiti stays in Tahiti.”

“Absolutely,” I say as my dick high-fives me.

“And where is this alternate universe?”

I curl my fingers around her hip bone. “My place isn’t far. There’s also a hotel down the block. Either way, I intend to strip you naked, get my lips all over you, and make you feel as fucking good as you looked when you were watching me sing.”

She shudders. “I looked good when I was watching you? How so?”

I run my thumb over her hip, rubbing in slow, sensual circles. “You’re so seductive. You looked so incredibly alluring. You looked exactly as you are—the most beautiful woman I’ve ever met.” My fingers stray to her belly, gliding down the fabric of her dress toward my final destination. “And you and I have unfinished business.”

She leans her head back, and the most delicious moan ever recorded escapes her lips. When she raises her face, she tap-dances her fingers down my chest then runs them over the silk of my tie. “Are you saying we’re going to finish the business tonight?”

“Yes, and then tomorrow . . . we can be friends again.” The thought pains me, but I know this is the only way to deal with our reality.

“Exactly,” she says, nodding her agreement. “We take a trip tonight. We get away to a remote island. And tomorrow we go back to the real world?” She’s seriously considering this. Hell, I’ve already considered it six ways to Sunday in the span of ten seconds, and I say it’s a brilliant plan.

“Let me take care of you tonight. Let me spend the night worshipping your body and driving you wild with pleasure.”

“You say these things . . .”
I grin. “And?”
“And you make it impossible to walk away.” She grabs my tie and tugs my face inches from hers. “But what do you think my voice says?”

I want her to say it. The permission must come from her, and I’m dying for it. “You tell me.”

She brings her mouth to my ear and whispers, hot and sexy, “It says take me to Tahiti. Fuck me hard. Fuck me good. Fuck me senseless.”

That’s the only voice I’m listening to tonight.
 

 

GIVEAWAY

A Night on the Town Giveaway, including an adorable Coach Handbag ($300 value), $50 gift card to the restaurant of your choice, and a $50 gift card to the beauty retailer of your choice to go shopping for that perfect make-up or hair care so you can look extra fabulous!

ENTER HERE

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