RELEASE DAY REVIEW – Double Down by Alessandra Torre

Title – Double Down
Author – Alessandra Torre
Publication Date – June 18, 2018
Series – All In #2

The stunning conclusion to the All In Duet… 
In Vegas, there was one man who was off limits. One man… and I fell for him.

I knew there were risks. Still, I played the game. When Dario Capece called, I answered. When he beckoned, I came. When he broke all my rules, I looked the other way.

I knew there were risks. I just never realized they included death.

Alessandra Torre has left my head spinning with her newest release! Double Down is packed full with action that will have readers’ jaws dropping and their hearts racing. I will say that Dario and Bell do spend a portion of the novel apart.  Ironically, it was in those moments that I actually developed a deeper understanding of the feelings they had for one another. Where I couldn’t see this in the first book of the duet, it became glaringly obvious why these two would gamble with such high stakes on the table. The consequences of their relationship were so far-reaching and I often wondered just how far they would seep. I have to say that I did enjoy Double Down slightly more than Even Money. Though there was still some slight confusion with the switching of perspectives, I was so deeply entrenched in the action of the plot that it didn’t bother me as much as previously. Alessandra Torre somehow continues to surprise me and make me yearn for more with each new book she releases. She’s become an automatic one-click author for me and I definitely don’t see that changing anytime in the near future!


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Start With Book 1 in the Duet!

Even Money (All In #1)

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RELEASE DAY REVIEW – More Than Words by Mia Sheridan

Title: More Than Words
Author: Mia Sheridan
Release Date: June 12, 2018

The moment she met Callen Hayes, eleven-year-old Jessica Creswell knew he was a broken prince. Her prince. They became each other’s refuge, a safe and magical place far from their troubled lives. Until the day Callen kissed herJessica’s first real, dreamy kiss—and then disappeared from her life without a word.

Years later, everyone knows who Callen Hayes is. Famous composer. Infamous bad boy. What no one knows is that Callen’s music is now locked deep inside, trapped behind his own inner demons. It’s only when he withdraws to France to drink his way through the darkness that Callen stumbles into the one person who makes the music return. Jessica. His Jessie. And she still tastes of fresh, sweet innocence . . . even as she sets his blood on fire.

But they don’t belong in each other’s worlds anymore. There are too many mistakes. Too many secrets. Too many lies. All they have is that instinctive longing, that need—and something that looks dangerously like love.

Mia Sheridan delivers a captivating exploration of lost love and second chances with her new novel, More Than Words. Jessie and Callen’s story begins as children, and I was immediately hooked by their unlikely friendship and obvious bond. A chance meeting years later sparks a flame that threatens to consume them both as Jessie and Callen discover that the years have not diminished their connection. Brimming with emotion and painted with adventure, this colorful, sweeping romance was pure magic. The story felt effortlessly epic, and Mia Sheridan had me walking Jessie and Callen’s journey right alongside them, anxiously awaiting the happily ever after.

“I wanted to believe that love was the rarest of all flowers: it delighted in the sunshine but did not require it to grow and flourish.”

In true Mia Sheridan fashion, Jessie and Callen blew me away. From their shared history to their chosen careers, this couple was unlike any I’ve met before. While their chemistry was undeniably electric, it was Jessie and Callen’s aching familiarity and inexplicable emotional connection that had me so invested. What this duo shared was genuine in its uncertainty, and I loved the quiet vulnerability that their feelings for one another revealed. Jessie and Callen’s journey wasn’t just one of romance. As secrets were exposed and fears were confronted, both characters underwent breathtaking individual transformations. Ultimately, Jessie’s unwavering dedication and unrelenting imagination proved to be the perfect match for Callen’s constant doubt and brooding nature.

“I questioned once whether the winds of fate are benevolent or merciless. I know now—believe—with every fiber of my being, that they are only good.”

This novel embodied everything I love about this author. From the one-of-a-kind storyline and vibrant characters to the lyrical prose and enchanting imagery, More Than Words had Mia Sheridan’s signature all over it. Leisurely paced, the book progressed in a way that felt entirely natural, perfectly capturing the slow burn of unrequited childhood love. I adored the story within the story and found myself immediately captivated by the rich historical undertones that gave Jessie and Callen’s story an unexpected timelessness. Enthralling, addictive, and emotionally raw, More Than Words is another must-read romance from the brilliant Mia Sheridan!


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NEW RELEASE REVIEW – King’s Reign by Nina Levine

Title: King’s Reign
Author: Nina Levine
Series: Sydney Storm MC #6
Release Date: May 31, 2018

The epic conclusion to King’s story.

I was chasing pure darkness.
Succumbing to the needs I’d forced to the far edges of my soul.
Running like a madman towards evil.
Then I found her.
She breathed life into me when I hadn’t thought there was any life beyond what I knew.
She gave me hope after I’d forgotten what it was.
She helped quiet the demons raging deep inside me.
Now I will lay myself bare for her.
I will bleed for her.
I will love her madly, deeply, passionately, completely.

King and Lily’s story comes to a heart-pounding conclusion in King’s Reign, the final novel in the Sydney Storm MC series. Delivering plenty of sizzle and brimming with unexpected emotion, King’s Reign had me firmly in its grip from the first page to the last. I loved King and Lily’s connection in this novel. While their chemistry was as electric as ever, their emotional bond seemed more profound and more genuine this time around. Despite the danger surrounding the club, King and Lily were inevitably drawn to one another, and the resultant push and pull was utterly addictive. I enjoyed seeing King so thoroughly unraveled as Lily broke through the darkness and pulled pieces of this enigmatic man into the light. King turned out to be so much more than I ever could have imagined and I loved finally getting to explore this character.

“Sometimes two people just weren’t meant to be together. Sometimes there was more hate than love, more war than peace. Sometimes love wasn’t enough.”

Since this book brings the storyline to a close, there are a lot of players to keep track of. Admittedly, I could have used a few reminders as to what roles certain characters had played throughout the series in order to really appreciate the direction this book took. However, Nina Levine definitely didn’t leave readers disappointed, serving up a satisfying ending to King and Lily’s journey. The reappearance of some familiar faces reminded me exactly what it means to be part of the Storm MC, and my heart felt right at home alongside the couples I’ve gotten to know throughout this series. Nina Levine effortlessly balances the raw, gritty angst of this story with plenty of delicious tension and a few beautifully tender moments. The writing was gripping, emotional, and delightfully feisty, ensuring I was entirely invested in King and Lily. Fans of the Sydney Storm MC series are in for one last wild ride with King’s Reign!


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Relent (Sydney Storm MC #1)

relent

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Nitro’s Torment (Sydney Storm MC #2)

Nitros Torment

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Devil’s Vengeance (Sydney Storm MC #3)

devils-vengeance

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Hyde’s Absolution (Sydney Storm MC #4)

hydes-absolution

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King’s Wrath (Sydney Storm MC #5)

kings-wrath

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Author Bio

Dreamer.
Coffee Lover.
Gypsy at heart.

USA Today Bestselling author who writes about alpha men & the women they love.

When I’m not creating with words you will find me planning my next getaway, visiting somewhere new in the world, having a long conversation over coffee and cake with a friend, creating with paper or curled up with a good book and chocolate.

I love Keith Urban, Maroon 5, Pink, Florida Georgia Line, Bon Jovi, Matchbox 20, Lady Antebellum and pretty much any singer/band that is country or rock.

I’ve been writing since I was twelve. Weaving words together has always been a form of therapy for me especially during my harder times. These days I’m proud that my words help others just as much as they help me.

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BLOG TOUR – The Lies I’ve Told by J.L. Berg

Title: The Lies I’ve Told
Author: J.L. Berg
Series: By the Bay #3
Release Date: June 4, 2018

Everything was going according to plan…

After years of working my way up the corporate ladder, it was finally my time to shine. I was about to receive the promotion of a lifetime.

But just like that, my life was destroyed with a single career crushing email.

Now, I am headed back home to North Carolina, under the ruse of an extended vacation to help run the family inn while my sister is on maternity leave. After all, what is family for? Plus, a few days at the beach could definitely help uncomplicate this crazy life of mine.

Enter Aiden Fisher.

Aiden is a guest at my sister’s inn. He’s wicked hot, a huge flirt and has one of the sexiest British accents I’ve ever heard. But beyond all that, I see a darkness in his soul, as if he’s carrying a great weight upon his shoulders.

I find myself pushing back my trip home to Florida in hopes that maybe I’ll look into those hazel brown eyes and finally see truth shining back instead of lies. That maybe he’ll stop running and tell me the truth for once.

But you know what they say about liars? It takes one to know one and I’ve been telling the biggest lie of all – I’ve fallen hopelessly in love with Aiden.

And isn’t that the scariest truth of all?

J.L. Berg delivers another fantastic small-town romance with Millie and Aiden’s story in The Lies I’ve Told! This novel felt somehow different from the previous books in the series, and yet Aiden and Millie fit perfectly within the world J.L. Berg has created. Forced to find refuge By the Bay, this couple comes together just as their respective worlds are falling apart. As Aiden and Millie’s mutual attraction sparks into something more, I found myself immediately invested in the unspoken, yet significant, connection between them.

“Sometimes, it helps to know where one’s heart lies. Or where it’s been.”

I’ve been anxious to get my hands on Millie’s story ever since The Choices I’ve Made. She was enchanting, vibrant, and funny and I was wholly intrigued by the seemingly fearless fashionista who had left small-town life behind. J.L. Berg definitely didn’t disappoint, serving up one seriously sassy and incredibly lovable heroine. Over the course of this story, J.L. Berg carefully unraveled Millie, exposing the woman beneath the designer labels and letting readers see every flaw and vulnerability that made Millie so surprisingly relatable.

“This was my home, right here in this woman’s arms. Forever.”

Aiden was unexpected, to say the least. He was charismatic and polished with a mysterious edge that ensured I was completely captivated. As the story progressed and Aiden opened himself up to Millie, I found myself falling hard and fast for the damaged hero with a big secret. J.L. Berg allowed the pieces of Aiden’s past to fall into place with expert precision, thoughtfully revealing the depth of this character with each passing page. Every bit the artist, Aiden experienced things with an intensity that demanded to be felt by the reader.

“Anything is possible, Aiden, with a little prayer and patience.”

Aiden and Millie’s story is a whirlwind romance, and it was paced to be enjoyed as such. Once I started, I couldn’t help but keep reading, lost in the witty banter, electric chemistry, and inexplicable connection that made this book so special. I adored getting to see more of Jake, Molly, Dean, and Cora as they continued living out their happily ever afters. J.L. Berg brilliantly depicts life By the Bay, her effortless prose and colorful imagery instantly transported me right back to Ocracoke. Brimming with sparkling dialogue, sizzling tension, and heartfelt emotion, The Lies I’ve Told is another can’t-miss-romance from J.L. Berg!


My eyes bolted open as sunlight from the windows glared down at me.

Where am I?

I sat up, quietly stretching as if I had all the time in the world.

Because I did, right?

No job. No responsibilities.

Responsibilities…

Shit! 

Breakfast for the guests! 

I bolted out of bed, frantically searching for my clothes. Where were my clothes? I tried to think back to the night before, but it was blurry.

Hazy.

And then the hammering in my head began.

Shit, how much did I drink last night?

“Where are you running off to so early?”

The deep British accent had me stopping in my tracks.

Last night…

I turned on my heels, tugging on the short shirt I had on, wishing it were suddenly a dress. Or a robe.

Or anything longer than a shirt.

Aiden’s eyes perused my body with a wide grin on his face as he casually tucked his hands behind his head. I tried not to notice the way the muscles in his arms flexed.

Or the fact that, besides a carefully placed sheet, he was basically lying naked before me.

“Oh my God,” I whispered. My fingers raked through my hair as I tried to remember the night before. “We didn’t…did we?”

The question had him immediately sitting up in bed, causing that well-placed sheet to shift.

I gulped as all of him—and I did mean all of him—came into view.

Oh Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. 

I turned around, my cheeks flushing as heat spread through my body. He wasn’t just naked. He was naked and very much awake.

“You don’t remember?” he asked as I listened to the bed groan as he stood.

“No,” I admitted. “Do you?”

I heard the telltale sign of jeans being zipped, giving me the courage to turn back around. Sure enough, he was decent.

Well, as decent as a shirtless, hot-as-fuck Brit could be. God, I thought his muscles had muscles.

“Um, no,” he answered, but there was a hint of sadness to his eyes as he reached down to grab his shirt off the floor.

I let out a tiny whimper of protest as the black T-shirt slid down his body.

He really was beautiful.

I shook my head, trying to keep focused. “Oh, that’s great. Just fucking great. So, what happened here exactly?”

He pointed to the pile of clothes and the mostly empty alcohol bottle on the nightstand, that sadness drying up as he let out a breath and straightened, his features hardening. “I think that’s pretty clear.”

My arms folded across my chest before I realized that only brought my shirt higher up my waist. Aiden didn’t miss the extra peek of flesh either as I watched his grin widen.

“Nope, I don’t believe you. I don’t do one-night stands. Ever.”

“Ever?” he echoed, surprise written all over his stupid face.

“Yes. Ever. Why is that so hard to believe? Do I look like the one-night-stand kind of girl?”

“Well, right now. Sort of.”

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The Choices I’ve Made (By the Bay #1)

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The Scars I Bare (By the Bay #2)

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Author Bio

I’m a California native, who lives in the South – Virginia to be exact. I still prefer sushi to fried chicken, avocados to okra, and I absolutely loathe humidity. I do love watching the seasons change though. My husband and I have been here for over a decade, and I still get giddy like a school girl every time it snows. It’s magical!

I’m married to my high school sweetheart, and we’ve been blessed with two beautiful daughters and two rescue pups I like to call my “coworkers”. I’m obsessed with chocolate, minions, anything Harry Potter and I love to watch re-runs of Friends and Gilmore Girls!

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RELEASE DAY REVIEW – The Other Side of Tomorrow by Micalea Smeltzer

Title: The Other Side of Tomorrow
Author: Micalea Smeltzer
Release Date: June 7, 2018

Life can change in an instant…

For Willa Hansen, this statement couldn’t be truer. One minute she was a seemingly normal fourteen-year-old, and the next her life was turned upside down with only a few words. Three years later, she’s receiving a kidney transplant and can start living again, only now she’s not sure she knows how.

Life can end in a moment…

Jasper Werth knows this all too well, seeing as a drunk driver killed his little brother. He’s always been a carefree guy, never taking life too seriously, but losing his brother is a major blow, and he finds himself lost until Willa walks into his life.

Life can mend the most broken parts of our souls…

Willa and Jasper couldn’t be more opposite, but as fate brings them together they’ll learn maybe they’re not so different after all.

Sometimes what you need comes in a package you least expect.

A powerful journey that explores life, loss, and love, The Other Side of Tomorrow is so much more than a romance novel. Willa and Jasper’s story is raw, gripping, and undeniably heartfelt, a tribute to the healing power of hope and the unexpected adventure that is living. From their awkward first meeting to the very last page, I was utterly enchanted by the inexplicable connection Willa and Jasper shared. This couple felt fated in every single way, and I quickly found myself walking the twists and turns of their journey with baited breath, praying they’d find the happily ever after they both so desperately deserved.

“Your sunrise is here, Willa, don’t let it get away.”

There is no denying the deeply personal nature of this story. Micalea Smeltzer lays bare the hopes and fears of living with kidney failure, unafraid to own the uncertainty and guilt that comes with waiting for a transplant. Willa’s struggles were written with a profound understanding that breathed life into each heartbreakingly earnest moment and gritty emotion. As Willa and Jasper’s love bloomed, the author used Willa’s experiences with kidney failure and organ transplant to unobtrusively raise awareness, ensuring that this couple’s story would leave an indelible mark on the reader.

“A few seconds is more than enough to change everything.”

Willa and Jasper’s journey wouldn’t be complete without the vibrant cast of secondary characters that helped color their world. I especially adored Willa’s sister Harlow who embodied positivity and unconditional love. Despite the serious nature of Willa’s condition and Jasper’s loss, this novel was largely life-affirming. Overflowing with joyous appreciation and unapologetic exploration, Willa and Jasper’s story was uplifting and transformative. I completely devoured this book, lost to the magic that is Micalea Smeltzer’s writing. Breathtakingly poignant and emotionally uninhibited, The Other Side of Tomorrow is an absolute must-read!


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RELEASE DAY REVIEW – Even Money by Alessandra Torre

Title – Even Money
Author – Alessandra Torre
Publication Date – June 4, 2018
Series – All In Duet #1

From NYT Bestseller Alessandra Torre comes a suspenseful and seductive duet…

Sometimes it only takes a minute. A connection of eyes across a room, a quickened heartbeat, and everything changes.

I was a cocktail waitress with a fondness for partying and meaningless hook-ups.

He owned half of Vegas, with the reputation to match.

I should have turned away. Instead, I stepped closer.

Then, the lies started. Rumors spread. Stalking commenced. Someone died.

None of it stopped me from falling in love.

Alessandra Torre is, without a doubt, the queen of writing suspense. She somehow manages to reel me in and keep me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end – no matter which book of hers that I dive into. Her newest release, Even Money, had me giddy with anticipation of what was to come. Bell and Dario had quite the interesting dynamic to their relationship. There was certainly an insta-love feel, and at times I felt a little off balance when it came to how quickly they were able to fall for each other. However, there was also something extremely likeable about both of these characters. Bell was staunchly independent while Dario sought to deliver revenge and protect those he cared about. They both piqued my interests and kept me turning the pages to see how things would play out for them. While the writing was addictive, with twists and turns that I certainly never saw coming, there is a back and forth point of view that left me slightly taken aback. While Bell’s point of view is written in the first person, Dario’s chapters are written in the third person perspective. It made it incredibly difficult to fully immerse myself into the story, and I was unable to see a purpose for the switch. In the heart of Las Vegas, Even Money is filled with deception, sex, and secrets. That cliffhanger left me with my jaw on the floor and eyes gaped wide. I’m grateful we only have a couple weeks to find out just where Bell and Dario’s romance will end up!


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Don’t Miss the Conclusion to the Duet!

Double Down (All In #2)

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RELEASE DAY REVIEW & GIVEAWAY – The Boyfriend Experience by JA Huss

Title – The Boyfriend Experience
Author – JA Huss
Publication Date – May 30, 2018
Series – Jordan’s Game #3

I NEED A BOYFRIEND… and I need one now…

WANTED
One bad-ass man with boyfriend experience.
Must be willing to fight dirty and work weekends, nights, and overtime.
Bad attitude a must. Bonus points if you’re hot, athletic, and sporting tattoos.

When I asked Jordan Wells for a Boyfriend Experience game I didn’t expect to get stuck with billionaire real-estate agent, Lawton Ayers. He doesn’t exactly fit the job description.

WANTED
One professional woman with business experience.
Must be willing to build a future together.
Successful entrepreneur a must. Bonus points if you’re a crazy local legend.

When Jordan Wells offered up Oaklee Ryan a last-minute business partner to seal a deal I’ve been working on for years, I didn’t expect beautiful, sexy, and multi-orgasmic to be on her list of qualifications.

But that’s what I got. And she’s perfect just the way she is.

Too bad she doesn’t want me to be HER boyfriend. Because she bought me for someone else…

There is a special quality when it comes to JA Huss’ writing that I simply can’t get enough of. She consistently wows me with relatable characters and surprising plot lines that keep me on the edge of my seat. When I read the blurb for The Boyfriend Experience, I developed a total preconceived notion in my head. Let me just say that what I ended up getting was nothing like I had put together, but SO much better!

“Well, some people get handed chaos and shut down. Like your parents. I don’t know anything about them, but typically people fall into a life like that because they can’t find a way out. The chaos overtakes them. But others thrive on it. It makes them stronger. Makes them rise up.”

Oaklee and Lawton began their relationship under very specific pretenses, but what unraveled developed into so much more. There were so many fun and flirty exchanges that it lifted my heart and made me incredibly happy. Oaklee was this badass heroine in a man’s world which just made me admire her that much more. Lawton was somewhat of an enigma to me; I don’t think he even knew who he was for a good portion of the novel. However, it was kind of fun watching him adapt to Oaklee’s needs in the game and therefore discover who he was at the core. I’ve come to expect surprises from Jordan and his games, but it definitely felt like a whole different ball game with these two.

“She is the reason we love to watch the Joker. And it doesn’t matter that we know he’s insane, that everything that comes out of his mouth is lies, that he’s going to betray anyone and everyone who gets in the his way — even those on his side. We want to believe he’s good underneath or we have to admit that evil is real. How do I fight that?”

I appreciate that Huss makes each of her books and really, all of her characters, stand out. Though there is usually an element of grief (whether over a person or circumstance), the method of overcoming is always so different. I never take Huss’ stories at face value because that road to triumph is always filled with raw emotion, tailored to each character. She has written so many books, yet every time it’s a unique journey that I’m brought on. I’ve said it once and I’m sure I’ll say it time and time again, but JA Huss is a not to be missed, must-click author. Though all of Jordan’s games have been fantastic, I think that The Boyfriend Experience might just be my favorite. I can’t wait to see what happens next when Jordan gets the tables turned on him!


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Total Exposure (Jordan’s Game #1)

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The Pleasure of Panic (Jordan’s Game #2)

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JA Huss

JA Huss is the USA Today bestselling author of more than twenty romances. She likes stories about family, loyalty, and extraordinary characters who struggle with basic human emotions while dealing with bigger than life problems. JA loves writing heroes who make you swoon, heroines who makes you jealous, and the perfect Happily Ever After ending.

You can chat with her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/AuthorJAHuss), Twitter (@jahuss), and her blog, New Adult Addiction (www.jahuss.com).

If you’re interested in getting your hands on an advanced release copy of her upcoming books, sneak peek teasers, or information on her upcoming personal appearances, you can join her newsletter list (http://eepurl.com/JVhAr) and get those details delivered right to your inbox.

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A RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY

RELEASE DAY REVIEW – The Wright One by K.A. Linde

Title – The Wright One
Author – K.A. Linde
Publication Date – May 29, 2018
Series – The Wright Duet #2

Secrets swarm all around.
My world is crumbling under the strain.
I don’t know if we can survive this.
My heart is in the Wright place.
But is his?

The Wright One is the last book in the Wright Love Duet that began in The Wright Love. Find out if Sutton and David survive their world of secrets in the conclusion to the Wright Love duet!

Oh KA Linde – what an emotional rollercoaster you have put me on! The Wright One is the conclusion to Sutton’s story and it certainly put me through the wringer. Sutton and David had ended on a sour note in their first book, but I adored the redemption and work they put into their relationship in this novel. Sutton’s strength started to return while David’s outlook began to alter, which made for such a different feel than what we encountered in The Wright Love. It felt so real and raw, with writing that clawed it’s way into your soul. I think my favorite part was witnessing Sutton develop her spine with her mother-in-law and really re-learning how to stand on her own two feet again. Furthermore, she finally recognized her place in the Wright family which was impossible not to develop a soft spot for. Linde has completely captivated me with each Wright sibling and their stories of love and triumph. However, Sutton’s story was one that I was not expecting in power or feels. I’ll definitely miss that crazy tight knit family, but I’m looking forward to wherever it is that Linde takes me next!


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The Wright Love (Wright Duet #1)

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Don’t Miss The Standalone Companion Novels!

The Wright Brother

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The Wright Boss

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The Wright Mistake

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The Wright Secret

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Author Bio

K.A. Linde is the USA Today bestselling author of more than fifteen novels including the Avoiding series and the Record series. She has a Masters degree in political science from the University of Georgia, was the head campaign worker for the 2012 presidential campaign at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and served as the head coach of the Duke University dance team. She loves reading fantasy novels, geeking out over Star Wars, binge-watching Supernatural, and dancing in her spare time.

She currently lives in Lubbock, Texas, with her husband and two super adorable puppies.

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RELEASE BLITZ REVIEW – Because Of You by Laura Ward

Title – Because of You
Author – Laura Ward
Publication Date – May 25, 2018
Series – Not Yet #4

All Ricky Martinez knows of life is loss, loyalty, and family.

When his father became a quadriplegic after breaking his neck saving a drowning girl, Ricky gave up his dreams of playing football at a big college to stay home and take care of his family. His new dream? Find the girl who caused his father’s injury and get justice.

Because of her, his family lost everything.

All Aveline Gerard knows of life is a quiet, protective love.

Homeschooled ever since her accident eighteen years ago, Aveline’s parents, both deaf, have kept her safe the only way they know how—sheltered, and alone. Aveline’s deepest desire? To experience life in all its loud and messy glory, and the tattooed guy in her first college class is all of those things.

Because of him, her life is finally beginning.

But fate has a wicked sense of justice and when Ricky realizes the sweet, shy girl in his class is the one who wrecked his family, will he be able to walk away? Or will the bitter rage inside cause him to make the biggest mistake of his life?

Because of them, the pain of two families will finally collide.

If you’ve kept up with Laura Ward’s Not yet series as I have, then I’m sure that you’ve been dying to get a look into Ricky’s life. He’s always been incredibly secretive with his background which resulted in my curiosity growing a tremendous amount throughout each story that has been told already. With the release of Because of You, I’ve finally gotten that glimpse into his home life and so much is understood about his character. This interconnected standalone was filled with emotional scenes that delved into the power of forgiveness, selflessness, and the all-time question of how our environment impacts the person we become.

“Without the life-altering pain and responsibility that society bestowed upon my family, who would I have become?”

For those who may not have been introduced to his character previously, Ricky starts off the story as a very jaded character. He has been dealt a horrible hand in life and all that he is left with is bitterness and a desire for revenge and retribution. However, I couldn’t help but fall in love with him due to his loyalty to his family. He is very close to his mother, sisters, and father; everything he does and every choice he makes is to make their lives as easy as he can. With dedication and protectiveness like that, I couldn’t have asked for a better hero of the story. Furthermore, the heroine that Ward chooses for Because of You was one that left me in awe time and time again. Like Ricky, she had been dealt a rough hand in some regards, yet was able to overcome them due to her social environment. Together, Ricky and Aveline were complementary in every sense of the word, even when they couldn’t realize it. Where he had the rough interior, she was trusting and innocent to much of the world. Ricky was free to live his live, confined only by his social status where Aveline had the resources to do and be anything, but could not find independence from her overbearing parents. I loved watching each of them help to mold the other, while also forcing them to grow and mature as the pages turned.

“Now sacrifices had to be made. Because the monster inside me won. And when it did, a butterfly lost her wings.”

Laura Ward is such a gifted writer that I tend to enjoy every novel she delivers. They’re filled with warm-hearted, lovable characters that are incredibly well developed. She doesn’t just dictate a story to you; Ward invites you into the lives of her individuals, causing you to feel and experience everything right alongside them. Because of You surprised me in all the best ways with the storytelling and depth of emotion present. I laughed, I cried, and my heart swarmed with butterflies as I progressed throughout. If you haven’t picked up the series yet, or if you’re just in the mood for a transforming read, Because of You is sure to deliver on everything you could want in a romance!


He circled the bike, standing in front of me, arms crossed over his chest. “What’d you think of that lecture, mariposa?”
My eyes slid to the side, the floor, the ceiling. A slow burn traveled up my neck, settling on my cheeks. “It was… interesting, Freud, you know…” I laughed, a weird, awkward, uncomfortable sound escaping my lips. God, I sounded like a freak. Get it together, girl. Instead of wringing my hands together, I pushed my glasses higher up on my nose.
Ricky looked down at me, his eyes crinkling, and lips curved. “Interesting, huh?”
My hands shot out to the sides, “I’m sure you know all about that stuff… the stages and sex and… yeah.” I blew out a breath, my cheeks puffing, in what I was sure was the sexiest look I’d managed to pull off yet. “I’ve only done some light reading. That was new to me and frankly, a bit uncomfortable to hear around you because of your general hotness and all.”
Did I say light reading?
General hotness?
Oh. My. God. 
Ricky threw his head back and chortled. “You are the cutest damn thing I’ve ever seen.” His tongue darted out to lick his bottom lip. He took the paper and pen from my hand, tossing them onto the floor. “I won’t touch you here. Although, I’ll admit it’s probably my biggest fantasy, but you aren’t ready for that.”
Bending down, he picked me up, his hands lifting under my ass until I wrapped my legs around his waist. “You’re so tiny.” He smirked, his eyes focused on my lips.
I took off my glasses, placing them on the metal tool shelf next to us. My body shook, and I knew Ricky felt it when his grip on me tightened.
“I won’t hurt you, mariposa. You have my word that I’ll protect you. I’m not a good man, but I’ll be good to you.” He looked into my eyes, his warm brown orbs like melted chocolate.
“You are a good man. I wish you saw yourself like I see you.” My words pled, begging him to hear me.
Closing his eyes and shutting me out, he pressed his forehead to mine. “I need you,” he whispered. “I’ve never needed anyone like I need you. You’re open and vulnerable, kind and innocent. You’re unlike any girl I’ve ever met, and all I want to do is learn more about you. Understand all the parts that make you whole.”
His words sounded stricken and raw, but I absorbed them, drawing them into my heart. I didn’t know if he meant that he needed me physically or emotionally, but either way I was his.
“I need you, too.” I kissed his lips, a light sweet peck. “I’ve already learned and grown from being near you. You’re strong and loyal. The way you take care of your family has captivated me. And the way you make me feel is addictive.” I kissed him again, longer, and he groaned, one hand pressing into my back and one twisting in my hair.
My mouth opened, tongue peeking out to find his. Meeting, touching, and tangling as we moaned in unison. My hands sought his beautiful hair and I wrapped the long strands around my fingers, hoping that I would weave myself into him, his life, and his heart.
This complicated, gorgeous man, that thought he didn’t deserve happiness or dreams or good in his life.
I’d had a glimpse inside, something I believed was a rarity. And Ricky deserved all the beauty the world had to bring. I wasn’t sure I was the person who could give that to him.
But I sure wanted to try.

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Don’t Miss the Rest of the Series!

Not Yet (Not Yet #1)

Not Yet cover

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Until Now (Not Yet #2)

Until Now

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Someday Soon (Not Yet #3)

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USA Today bestselling author, Laura Ward, writes sweet and sexy stories that will hopefully make you look at the world in a different way. Her books include the Not Yet series: Not YetUntil NowSomeday Soon, and Because of You. Her Contemporary Romance standalone is titled, Past Heaven. She is also the co-author of the College Bound series: The PledgeThe Color of Us, and The Sound of Your Heart (Releasing July 13, 2018.) Laura lives in Maryland with her loud and very loving three children and husband. She married her college sweetheart and is endlessly grateful for the support he has given her through all their years together, and especially toward her dream of writing books. When not picking up toy trucks, driving to lacrosse practice, or checking spelling homework, Laura is writing or reading romance novels.

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BLOG TOUR – Marked by Drew Elyse

Title: Marked
Author: Drew Elyse
Series: Sailor’s Grave #1
Release Date: May 17, 2018

“MOVING ON” IS JUST ABOUT ACTING THE PART.

I would never say as much to the people I love, but it’s the truth.
They want to see me doing better.
They want to see me living for more than just my son.

So I let them.
Everyday is about putting on a face,
pretending to get over the loss of my husband.
And every day is a lie.

UNTIL MOVING ON IS A TEMPTATION THAT CAN’T BE DENIED.

I’m not about to claim I’m a genius,
unless we’re talking with a tattoo gun or woman in my hands,
but I’m smart enough to know the beauty serving up my cupcake fix is off limits.

Really, I know.
Too bad the lure of putting a real smile on Kate’s face is so strong.
When she visits Sailor’s Grave Tattoo Parlor,
I can’t help but want to leave my mark.

Drew Elyse introduces readers to the Sailor’s Grave series with Liam and Kate’s heart-wrenching story. Marked is raw, painful, and wonderfully real as these two seemingly opposite personalities find common ground and an unexpected understanding of one another’s pain. Liam and Kate shared an easy friendship with an electric undercurrent of attraction that drew me in. This couple’s sometimes awkward, but always sweet encounters left me wanting more, and I quickly became invested in their developing feelings. Liam and Kate made me laugh and swoon and cry. Marked delivers plenty of angst and breathtaking vulnerability with just the right amount of sizzle in this emotionally intense story.

“He’d left a mark that went way beyond the skin.”

Both Liam and Kate exhibited significant personal growth over the course of this novel. I absolutely adored the way Drew Elyse used Kate and Liam’s budding relationship to push both characters to move forward, work through their pain, and let go of the hurt. Kate, in particular, had me in tears as I felt her grief and sorrow down to my bones. My deep understanding of this character had me celebrating every victory and rooting for her to find her happily ever after. The secondary characters really helped to round out this story, and they played a significant role in revealing the true nature of our hero and heroine. I found myself quickly getting attached to the peripheral personalities in the Sailor’s Grave world, and I look forward to hearing their stories in future books.

“It’s taking everything I have not to kiss you right now. Just once, I keep telling myself. Just one more taste. But it’s bullshit. Once more won’t be enough.”

I wish we could have seen more of Liam and Kate’s past together, specifically their first meeting and the ensuing moments of awkward flirtation and mounting sexual tension. Without this basic foundation, even in the form of flashbacks throughout the story, it felt as if the reader was diving into a relationship already in motion. However, since we didn’t get to experience it personally, I had a hard time connecting to their established familiarity and understanding how quickly it progressed into more. I did appreciate the uncertainty and fear that plagued Kate and Liam’s relationship. The “will they won’t they” aspect of this story felt genuine to where Kate was at in her life, and it gave the overall journey an emotional authenticity.

“You can remember, and grieve, and hurt, but you also live.”

The pacing of the story is consistent and Marked was an easy read. Drew Elyse’s writing is vibrant and imaginative, and I always feel transported into the story. Marked hits the heart a little harder than some of her previous novels, but Drew balances the intense emotion with just enough sweet and sexy fun. Overflowing with sparkling chemistry, witty banter, and inked book boyfriend perfection, Marked will leave you begging for more of this new and colorful world from Drew Elyse. A spinoff of the Disciples Daughters MC series, Marked features some familiar faces that will make you grin. These cameos gave Liam and Kate’s story a feeling of family that had me instantly hooked. Drew Elyse serves up sass, sizzle, and some serious feels – Liam and Kate’s story is sure to leave you Marked!


I have been with Drew Elyse from the very beginning, and I’m happy to report that she does nothing but improve with time! Marked is a spin-off to her MC series and I absolutely adored getting to see a sweeter, more nurturing side to her characters. Kate and Liam navigated their relationship through sweet encounters and a bit of back and forth rawness. The resulting feeling left me deeply invested in the outcome of their partnership as well as a desire for more from these two personalities.

“It wasn’t just about controlling myself. It wasn’t about not getting in too deep. It was all about leaving my mark in whatever way I could.”

There was a definite authenticity and rawness to Kate. Rather than coming off as flighty and indecisive, her inability to commit was completely understood given her past and what she had been through. Though I certainly couldn’t relate, my heart ached for her and I grieved right alongside her. The journey she was attempting to make endeared me to her, and left me rooting for all the good in the world to come to her. Furthermore, I could not have come up with a better counterpart for her than Liam. He was gentle and patient, completely understanding of Kate’s situation. Plus, he was absolutely incredible with her son – which is always a stack of plusses in the book boyfriend category! There was a certain level of push and pull to their relationship, but it was through those moments of back and forth, ups and downs, that I got a feel for how much these two truly cared for one another. Even when they weren’t good at finding the right words, their inner thoughts and actions filled me with butterflies and left me giddy for the moments when they were together.

“I can’t promise I won’t have bad days. I can’t promise I won’t backslide into the grief from time to time, but I swear that I know what I want.”

Having Kate be so closely tied with the MC was definitely a bittersweet feeling for me. At times, I was frustrated because this was supposed to be a new series. However, it also warmed my heart to see a couple of the characters that I have already come to know and love. I’m desperately anxious to get my hands on more books in the Sailor’s Grave series though. Drew Elyse does an amazing job piquing your interest on the secondary characters while never overshadowing the storyline between Kate and Liam. Elyse has set the bar high with the Marked being the first book and I can’t wait to see where she goes next!


Liam

Christ, I really needed to stop doing this to myself.

Not give up the desserts, because fuck that, but stop torturing myself with the gorgeous woman that served them.

I knew the deal. She was a single mom, widowed a couple years back. She was under the protection of the club because Daz was her late husband’s brother. I also knew that despite conversations I’d overheard about her doing better, about her starting to move on, that she was nowhere near that place.

Maybe it was because I’d been old enough to understand everything as it happened when we’d lost Dad and after. I recognized what the people in her life couldn’t: that she wasn’t moving past a goddamn thing.

It was achingly familiar, seeing that fake smile. It was even more so to see the one she gave her son, knowing that if I were seeing it closer, there would be that lingering sadness behind her eyes that I saw in my mom’s for too long.

And that whole thought process made it sound like I had some fucked Oedipus complex.

Desserts, asshole.

There was a cinnamon braid left. That never happened. Sugar’s Dream was more of a dessert place than full-service bakery. The few things Avery made that worked for breakfast were usually snatched up before I ever got there in the afternoons. The cinnamon braid specifically was a favorite at Sailor’s Grave—it was the reason we had an actual kitchen knife in the back after we’d all fallen on one and had to rip off pieces by hand.

“Gotta take that back to the shop,” I told her, pointing to it.

Unable to hide the fact that she was relieved to have a task that involved moving farther away from me to prep a box for it, she jumped right to it. I wasn’t enough of a gentleman to not glance up from considering what else to get in order to take a look while she had her back to me. Kate looked fucking incredible coming and going. I liked a woman with curves, and she was far from lacking in that department. She had light brown hair that danced around her shoulders when she wore it down, porcelain skin that looked like silk, and amber eyes that usually looked brown, but stood out when there was enough light to see them properly.

She was easily the most delicious thing in this goddamn bakery.

She was also the only thing in the place I was sure I wasn’t getting a taste of.

A minute later, she came back with the tied up box, setting it on the counter by the register. 

“Anything else?” She tried to avoid my eyes but ended up looking right at my mouth. My cock took notice, fixing to fight for attention.

I was so fucking tempted to answer with something like “a taste test” just to get a rise out of her, but I bit my tongue.

“Two of the lemon cupcakes, one raspberry chocolate, and” —I peeked around her— “are those the mocha ones you’re working on?”

She glanced over her shoulder like she wasn’t sure what she’d been doing when I walked in. “Um…yes.”

“Can I get one of those?”

“Of course.”

Again, it was full hustle to get away from me. I got it. If I were a better man, I might stop coming in. Of course, I’d probably lose it if I tried going cold turkey from my preferred sugar fix, but I could at least talk someone else into coming for me. Jess would probably do it if I bankrolled her own cupcake habit.

Turns out, I wasn’t that good of a person. I wouldn’t push her, but I couldn’t deny myself at least getting to see her beyond just the Disciples’ parties. These little visits were like a fucking drug.

“How’s your boy?” I asked, grasping at anything to get her to talk to me.

“He’s good. He’s telling everyone at his daycare that he’s going to be a biker when he grows up.” It was impossible to miss the love and pride in her voice. 

“Probably not a stretch. I wouldn’t be surprised if the brothers had him on his own bike the minute he’s old enough.”

“His dad had a bike, too. Owen’s been around them since he was born.”

I watched as what she’d said registered. I saw her freeze, every inch of her tightening up. She was still facing away, keeping her expression hidden, but I didn’t doubt it was a mix of shock and devastation. I hadn’t known what a minefield the topic was, though I couldn’t be sure I’d have avoided it if it was. Mom told me time and again as she got better that talking about Dad helped, even as much as it hurt.

“I’m sorry. I know that doesn’t help at all. I know it still hurts and all the sympathy in the world doesn’t touch that, but it’s true.”

For a long moment, she didn’t move. I didn’t even see her breathing from my vantage point. Then, she turned around with the box of cupcakes in her hands. She didn’t adopt that benign smile she always had at work, but that didn’t mean she was giving me any glimpse of the real grief. 

No, Kate’s face was fucking blank.

Shit.

It wasn’t my fucking place to try to “help,” especially not while she was at work. Suddenly, if I could take the words back, if I could undo even the reminder of her husband, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

Before I could dig my foot out of my mouth and figure something out to say, she went over to the register and started ringing up my order. “That’ll be $17.56.”

Even her voice was flat, lifeless.

Rather than push and make a bigger ass of myself, I pulled out my card and paid without a word. I kept my mouth shut as she wordlessly handed it back with my receipt, and then slid the boxes toward me.

Only when I had them in hand did she say, again in that dead voice, “Have a nice day.”

I’d fucked up. Royally.

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Drew Elyse spends her days trying to convince the world that she is, in fact, a Disney Princess, and her nights writing tear-jerking and sexy romance novels.

When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found analyzing every line of a book, binge watching shows on Netflix, doing strange vocal warm ups before singing in a variety of musical styles, or screaming at the TV during Chicago Blackhawks games.

A graduate of Loyola University Chicago, she still lives outside Chicago, IL, where she was born and raised, with her boyfriend and her fur babies Lola and Duncan.

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