Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wednesday Wish List

Please list the books/manga/manhwa/yaoi manga from your wishlist that you are hoping to add to your shelves in a comment, thanks.

In a world of shadows, anything is possible. Except escaping your fate.

Ever since she was a child, Ivy has been gripped by visions of strange realms just beyond her own. But when her sister goes missing, Ivy discovers the truth is far worse -- her hallucinations are real, and her sister is trapped in a parallel realm. And the one person who believes her is the dangerously attractive guy who's bound by an ancient legacy to betray her.

Adrian might have turned his back on those who raised him, but that doesn't mean he can change his fate no matter how strong a pull he feels toward Ivy. Together they search for the powerful relic that can save her sister, but Adrian knows what Ivy doesn't: that every step brings Ivy closer to the truth about her own destiny, and a war that could doom the world. Sooner or later, it will be Ivy on one side, Adrian on the other, and nothing but ashes in between.


Once the night comes

Will Thorne is living a nightmare, his sanity slowly being drained away by a force he can't control. His talents have made him the perfect assassin for hire. But as he loses his grip on reality, there is no calming him - until he finds his next target: the mysterious Holly Evernight.

Love must cast aside the shadows

Holly cannot fathom who would put a contract on her life, yet the moment she touches Will, the connection between them is elemental, undeniable-and she's the only one who can tame his bouts of madness. But other assassins are coming for Holly. Will must transform from killer to protector and find the man who wants Holly dead or his only chance for redemption will be lost.


For Sam Ryan, life began at age fourteen. She has no memory of her parents or her childhood. In a decade of service with the State Police, Sam has exhausted the resources of the force searching for clues to her identity. But all mention of her family seems to have been deliberately wiped off the record. Everything changes the night Sam’s missing partner resurfaces as a vampire and forces her to kill him in self-defense. Now Sam is charged with murder. Suspended from the force, and with no one left to trust, Sam accepts some unexpected help from Gabriel Stern, a shapeshifter who conceals startling secrets.

While investigating the circumstances surrounding her partner’s strange behavior, Sam discovers that Garbriel’s been involved with a dangerous organization that’s planning a war on the human race. More immediate, someone is guarding the truth about Sam’s past — someone who’d rather see her dead than risk her knowing too much. To stay alive, Sam must unravel the threads of her past — and find out not only who she is but what she is.

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jackson comes an atmospheric and riveting novel of suspense that uncovers the horrifying secrets buried within a ramshackle house.

Vowing to make a fresh start, Sarah McAdams has come home to renovate the old Victorian mansion where she grew up. Her daughters, Jade and Gracie, aren’t impressed by the rundown property on the shores of Oregon’s wild Columbia River. As soon as they pull up the isolated drive, Sarah too is beset by uneasy memories — of her cold, distant mother, of the half-sister who vanished without a trace, and of a long-ago night when Sarah was found on the widow’s walk, feverish and delirious.

Ever since the original mistress of the house plunged to her death almost a century ago, there have been rumors that the place is haunted. As a girl, Sarah sensed a presence there, and soon Gracie claims to see a lady in white running up the stairs. Still, Sarah has little time to dwell on ghost stories, between overseeing construction and dealing with the return of a man from her past.

But there’s a new, more urgent menace in the small town. One by one, teenage girls are disappearing. Frantic for her daughters’ safety, Sarah feels her veneer cracking and the house’s walls closing in on her again. Somewhere deep in her memory is the key to a very real and terrifying danger. And only by confronting her worst fears can she stop the nightmare roaring back to life once more.

Police detective Andrea Finch is a rising star in her department until a split-second decision derails her career. Disgraced and disillusioned, she’s on leave from her job when she gets an urgent call from her younger brother. She’d prefer to ignore his latest plea for cash, but this time instinct tells her something is very wrong. Andrea’s search for answers takes her to a dusty Texas border town where danger lurks in plain sight and nothing is quite what it seems.

FBI agent Jon North is working undercover in west Texas, investigating an unsolved murder that may be linked to a terrorist plot. But when the evidence points to Andrea’s brother, Jon finds that persuading the stubborn cop to help will be harder than cracking his toughest case.

Andrea must find a way to do what’s right while protecting her only sibling. As the clock ticks down, Andrea and Jon race to confront a heartless killer who will stop at nothing to deliver a final, terrifying message.


In a small town, reputation is everything. In her latest novel, #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr explores the burden placed on a young man returning home to face his mistakes — the first step in claiming the life he was meant to live

At the age of nineteen, Seth Sileski had everything. A superb athlete and scholar, handsome and popular, he was the pride of Thunder Point. Destined for greatness, he lost it all in a terrible accident that put an end to his professional football career when it had barely begun. The people in his hometown have never forgotten what might have been.

Seth has come to terms with the turns his life has taken. But now he's been presented with an opportunity to return home and show his father—and the people of Thunder Point — he's become a better, humbler version of his former self.

Winning over his father isn't the only challenge. Seth must also find a way to convince his childhood neighbor and best friend, Iris McKinley, to forgive him for breaking her heart. With his homecoming, will Seth be able to convince the town, his family and especially Iris that he's finally ready to be the man who will make them all proud?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

New Releases 2014 (Aug 19)


New Releases

As #1 New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong’s new Cainsville series continues, Olivia’s power to read omens leads to the discovery of a gruesome crime with troubling connections to her new hometown.

Omens, the first installment in Kelley Armstrong’s exciting new series, introduced Olivia Taylor-Jones, daughter of notorious serial killers, and Gabriel Walsh, the self-serving, morally ambiguous lawyer who became her unlikely ally. Together, they chased down a devious killer and partially cleared her parents of their horrifying crimes.

Their success, however, is short-lived. While Olivia takes refuge in the old, secluded town of Cainsville, Gabriel’s past mistakes have come to light, creating a rift between the pair just when she needs his help the most.

Olivia finds a dead woman in her car, dressed to look like her, but the body vanishes before anyone else sees it. Olivia’s convinced it’s another omen, a sign of impending danger. But then she learns that a troubled young woman went missing just days ago — the same woman Olivia found dead in her car. Someone has gone to great lengths to kill and leave this young woman as a warning. But why? And what role has her new home played in this disturbing murder?

Olivia’s effort to uncover the truth places her in the crosshairs of old and powerful forces, forces that have their own agenda, and closely guarded secrets they don’t want revealed.

From #1 New York Times best-selling author Sandra Brown comes a heart-pounding story of survival, that takes the age-old question, "Does the end justify the means?" and turns it on its head.

Dr. Emory Charbonneau, a pediatrician and marathon runner, disappears on a mountain road in North Carolina. By the time her husband Jeff, miffed over a recent argument, reports her missing, the trail has grown cold. Literally. Fog and ice encapsulate the mountainous wilderness and paralyze the search for her.

While police suspect Jeff of "instant divorce," Emory, suffering from an unexplained head injury, regains consciousness and finds herself the captive of a man whose violent past is so dark that he won't even tell her his name. She's determined to escape him, and willing to take any risks necessary to survive.

Unexpectedly, however, the two have a dangerous encounter with people who adhere to a code of justice all their own. At the center of the dispute is a desperate young woman whom Emory can't turn her back on, even if it means breaking the law. Wrong becomes right at the hands of the man who strikes fear, but also sparks passion.

As her husband's deception is revealed, and the FBI closes in on her captor, Emory begins to wonder if the man with no name is, in fact, her rescuer from those who wish her dead - and from heartbreak.

Combining the nail-biting suspense and potent storytelling that has made Sandra Brown one of the world's best loved authors, MEAN STREAK is a wildly compelling novel about love, deceit, and the choices we must make in order to survive.

From the author of the critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling Archie Sheridan/Gretchen Lowell thrillers: The first in a nail-biting new series featuring Kick Lannigan, a young woman whose complicated past has given her a very special skill set.

Famously kidnapped at age six, Kick captured America’s hearts when she was rescued five years later. Now, twenty-one, she finds herself unexpectedly entangled in a missing child case that will put her talents to the test.

Trained as a marksman, lock picker, escape artist and bomb maker by her abductor, Kick could not return to the life of the average young girl after her release. So, in lieu of therapy, she mastered martial arts, boxing, and knife throwing; learned how to escape from the trunk of a car, jimmy a pair of handcuffs, and walk without making a sound — all before she was thirteen.

Kick has trained herself to be safe. But then two children go missing in three weeks, and an enigmatic and wealthy former weapons dealer approaches her with a proposition. John Bishop uses his fortune and contacts to track down missing children. Not only is he convinced Kick can help recover the two children — he won’t take no for an answer.

With lives hanging in the balance, Kick is set to be the crusader she has always imagined herself. Little does she know that the answers she and Bishop seek are hidden in one of the few places she doesn’t want to navigate — the dark corners of her own mind.

A heart-stopping, entertaining thrill ride, One Kick announces the arrival of a blistering new series by a stunning talent in the thriller realm.


Ergastulum is a tough town, the kind of place where the rule of law takes a backseat to the law of violence, and where Handymen like Nic and Worick make a living doing odd jobs for their clients, from routine deliveries to extrajudicial killings. Discreet, ruthless, and efficient, the men are respected by both the police brass and the Mafia dons, but it took many long, hard years for them to make their names. Behind those years is the hidden history of how the scion of an elite family and a boy soldier of the Twilights ranks formed an improbable, unbreakable bond.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Weekly Book Reads (Aug 18)

 Weekly Book Reads

Weekly Book Reads is a weekly Monday Meme that is hosted by Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews:

Post the books read last week and books you plan on finishing this week.

Read Last Week:

1.  Bloodshifted - Cassie Alexander (first half of book)
2.  Unswept - Tracy and Laura Hickman
3.  Invisible - James Patterson
4.  Are You Alice Vol. 5 - Ai Ninomiya
5.  Phantom Thief Jeanne Vol. 2 - Arina Tanemura 

Weekly Book Reading:

1.  Bloodshifted - Cassie Alexander (last half of book)
2.  A Plunder of Souls - D.B. Jackson
3.  BTOOM Vol. 5 - Junya Inoue 
4.  BTOOM Vol. 6 - Junya Inoue

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Library Haul 2014 (Aug 17 - 23)

Library Haul

Here's the list of books/manga/manhwa/yaoi manga I picked up this week at the library:


1.  Good House Keeping Light and Healthy Cooking
2.  The Soda Fountain - Gia Giasullo, Peter Freeman and 3 other Authors


1.  Slam Dunk Vol. 2 - Takehiko Inoue
2.  Tail of the Moon Vol. 2 and 5 - Rinko Ueda
3.  Alice in the Country of Joker: Circus and Liar's Game Vol. 3 - QuinRose

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bunny Express Saturday 2014 (Aug 16)

Bunny Express Saturday is hosted every Saturday at Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews.

I received these in the mail this week.

For Review:

She was safe in a world of darkness

Now danger threatens in the cold light of day.  Before the experimental surgery that gave her sight, Kendra Michaels developed her other senses to an amazing capacity. Now she can identify a Nissan by the sound of its engine, a Norelco electric razor by the pattern of stubble it leaves behind, or an obscure colorless fire accelerant by its sweet smell. Law enforcement agencies clamor for her rare powers of perception and observation, too often disrupting the life she has built helping others through music therapy. Because so very often, only Kendra can get the job done.

But in this case, it's Kendra who first realizes that the apparent traffic accident on San Diego's historic Cabrillo Bridge is in fact a murder scene, and she rushes to alert the police before crucial evidence is destroyed. As the body count rises and one murder unveils another, a gruesome pattern emerges. Someone is killing people in ways that mirror Kendra's most notorious cases. She has a fan: someone who admires her work and is twisted enough to show that admiration through murder -- while naming himself after the biggest art forger of the 20th century. He views himself not as a monster but as an artist. And he is not working alone.

In Iris Johansen's Sight Unseen, as the darkness closes in, near enough to touch Kendra and those she loves, Kendra must come face to face with her greatest fears -- and her most ruthless enemy. A man who moves through the shadows, a man she may even know, who hides behind the mask of sanity, sight unseen.


In this vivid and suspenseful addition to her widely acclaimed Sharpe & Donovan series, New York Times bestselling author Carla Neggers takes readers on a heart-stopping journey from Boston to Ireland to the rocky coast of Maine

Emma Sharpe, granddaughter of world-renowned art detective Wendell Sharpe, is a handpicked member of a small Boston-based FBI team. For the past decade Emma and her grandfather have been trailing an elusive serial art thief. The first heist was in Ireland, where an ancient Celtic cross was stolen. Now the Sharpes receive a replica of the cross after every new theft — reminding them of their continued failure to capture their prey.

When Emma receives a message that leads her to the body of a woman on a small island in Boston Harbor, she finds the victim holding a small, cross-inscribed stone — one she recognizes all too well. Emma's fiancé, FBI deep-cover agent Colin Donovan, is troubled that she's gone off to the island alone, especially given the deadly turn the thief has taken. But as they dig deeper they are certain there is more to this murder than meets the eye.

As the danger escalates, Emma and Colin must also face do - or - die questions about their relationship. While there's no doubt they are in love, can they give their hearts and souls to their work and have anything left for each other? There's one thing Emma and Colin definitely agree on: before they can focus on their future, they must outwit one of the smartest, most ruthless killers they've ever encountered.


The hunt for a killer leads to a battle between justice and desire

For U.S. marshal Rourke Kincaid, there's the law and then there's his law. When the two don't agree, he always trusts his instincts. A killing spree has gripped the Northwest, showing a strange connection that only he sees, and now the old rules of justice no longer apply.  Forced to turn rogue, he goes deep undercover to track his mysterious female suspect to a quiet, unassuming café in the wild, isolated mountains of Beartooth, Montana.

But encountering Callie Westfield complicates his mission in ways he never expected. As suspicious as she seems, her fragile beauty and sexy charm get to Rourke. Then the gory crimes begin anew. With his heart suddenly at war with his instincts, he has only two options. Either turn Callie over to the law, or put everything — including his badge and his life — on the line to protect her.



To keep the balance between good and evil at the court of Annwyn, Prince Felan ap Gwyn has two weeks to marry and take the crown. But he wants more than just power - he wants love; a love he once had but was too stubborn to hold on to.


It took years for Jacqueline Ara to put her life back together after Felan abandoned her. She's moved on, even if her heart still burns for him. But with war in Annwyn looming and death bleeding into the mortal world, Felan and Jacquie will need to heal old wounds and rekindle the passion that once welled between them or face losing everything.

Thanks Meryl M. Moss Media Inc., Sourcebooks and St. Martin's Press!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Follow My Blog Friday #200

If you are new to the FF fun, Feature and Follow Friday is a blog hop that expands your blog following by a joint effort between bloggers. Feature & Follow Friday is now hosted by TWO hosts, myself of course and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs!

How does this work? First you leave your name here on this post, then you create a post on your own blog that links back to this post (easiest way is to just grab the code under the #FF picture and put it in your post) and then you visit as many blogs as you can and tell them "hi" in their comments (on the post that has the #FF image). You follow them, they follow you. Win. Win. Just make sure to follow back if someone follows you!

Now to make this FF interesting we do a FEATURE blogger. If you are interested in becoming a Feature click on the drop down link above FEATURES and Features and Follow Friday and get on the waiting list!  It is also required, that if you participate you must follow the hosts (Parajunkee and Alison Can Read) and the two Feature blogs.

This Meme is hosted by Rachel from Parajunkee Review and Alison from Alison Can Read on Fridays.

To join the fun and make now book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:

1.  (Required) Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts {Parajunkee and Alison Can Read}

2.  (Required) Follow our Featured Bloggers

3.  Put your Blog name and URL in the Linky thing. You can also grab the code if you would like to insert it into your posts.

4.  Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say “hi” in your comments and that they are now following you.

5.  If you are using WordPress or another CMS that doesn’t have GFC (Google Friends Connect) state in your posts how you would like to be followed

6.  Follow Follow Follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don’t just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don’t say “HI”

7.  If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love and the followers.

8.  If you’re new to the follow Friday hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!

1.  When did you start blogging?

I started a week ago (Thursday the 7th)!

2.  What is your favorite part of book blogging?

I love that I can connect with readers who live a continent away from me.

3.  What type of books do you mainly blog about?

I mostly blog about Young Adult novels (especially retellings), but sometimes I also blog about gothic classics.

4.  What is your favorite book(s)?

My favorites (in no particular order) include Ender’s Game, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Eleanor and Park, The Hunger Games, Shadow and Bone, Interview with the Vampire, The Great Gatsby, and many more…

5.  What has been the best thing that has happened to you because of book blogging?

This week, I won a First Reads giveaway on Goodreads, and I think that’s largely because of my blog.

Our Feature - Watcha Reading

1. When did you start blogging?

I started blogging on October 27, 2013 but I had created it before. But I consider this the official date since it's when my first post was published.

2. What is your favorite part of book blogging?

Connecting with authors and talking to other bloggers about bookish stuff. And getting the books earlier to review them.

3. What type of books do you mainly blog about?

I blog about YA, New Adult, and sometimes Adult books. The genres I have reviewed so far have been paranormal and contemporary. But it's mainly YA paranormal books.

4. What are your favorite books?

This is probably the hardest question any reader can get. But I think I'm going to with The Lux Series by Jennifer L. Armentrout and The Sweet Trilogy by Wendy Higgins. But I love any book that Jennifer L. Armentrout writes. She writes the best romance books ever!!!

5. What has been the best thing that has happened to you because of book blogging?

Talking with authors. I love chatting with them and I squeal when they reply back to me. I feel like I'm talking to a celebrity especially Jennifer L. Armentrout. But I have also enjoyed talking to readers that have the same interests in books like me.

Question of the Week: Suggest a question! We need questions of the week for future FFs. Any ideas?

1.  In a fair fight who do you think would win Zarek (before he became a demigod) or Zsadist?

2.  Who do you think would make up the deadliest team? (The characters from all of Sherrilyn Kenyon series and The Black Dagger Brotherhood)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Karen-Anne Stewart Ash to Steele Blog Tour with a Spotlight

I am so excited to have Karen-Anne Stewart here Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews with a Spotlight.

Thanks Karen-Anne and Pump Up Your Book Promotions for allowing me to join your Ash to Steele Blog Tour!

Please take it away, Karen-Anne!

About the Author

Karen-Anne Stewart has always adored reading and has now fallen in love with writing. Her written works are The Rain Trilogy: Saving Rain, Healing Rain, and After the Rain, and the newly released stand alone novel, Ash to Steele. Her debut novel, Saving Rain: The First Novel in The Rain Trilogy, was a nominee for the Book Junkie’s Choice Awards, and Saving Rain and After the Rain were nominees for the 2014 RONE Awards.

When Karen-Anne isn’t writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, hiking, and visiting new places. She fuels her addiction of creating new stories by her only other addiction, caffeine, and listening to a myriad of musical genres. Tucked away near the Blue Ridge Mountains, Karen-Anne lives with her husband, daughter, two dogs, and their cat. She plans on writing new adult romance as long as her fingers maintain dexterity.

For More Information
Visit Karen-Anne Stewart’s website.
Connect with Karen-Anne on Facebook and Twitter.
Fan Karen-Anne at Goodreads.
Visit Karen-Anne’s blog.
More books by Karen-Anne.
Contact Karen-Anne Stewart.

About the Book:


Who I am and all I believe is marred with just one glance into angry, steel blue eyes. He seems to control my air, my ability to breathe. He makes me crave everything I know is a sin. Pure becomes tainted and lines are blurred. It's my fault; I'm the one who isn't strong enough. I've been damaged...broken. Breck's words haunt me. 'There's a consequence for every choice you make.'


I've had so many women I can't even remember over half of their names, but none of them are mine; I make damn sure of that. I take what I desire and never look back. I don't need or want anyone, ever...not until I met Emma. Those eyes bore into what's left of my soul and her touch sears me, weakens me. I want to hate her for that. She is my ruin my sweetest hell.

For More Information
Ash to Steele is available at Amazon.
Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Read Chapter One here

Title: Ash to Steele
Author: Karen-Anne Stewart
Publisher: Karen-Anne Stewart
Pages: 342
Genre: New Adult Romance
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON


Who I am and all I believe is marred with just one glance into angry, steel blue eyes. He seems to control my air, my ability to breathe. He makes me crave everything I know is a sin. Pure becomes tainted and lines are blurred. It's my fault; I'm the one who isn't strong enough. I've been damaged...broken. Breck's words haunt me...'There's a consequence for every choice you make.'


I've had so many women I can't even remember over half of their names, but none of them are mine; I make damn sure of that. I take what I desire and never look back. I don't need or want anyone, ever...not until I met Emma. Those eyes bore into what's left of my soul and her touch sears me, weakens me. I want to hate her for that. She is my sweetest hell.

Book Excerpt: (Bloggers please pick one excerpt)

Short excerpt one:

His confession knocks the air out of me, just as ruthlessly as if he punched me in the stomach. I gasp, desperately try to fill my lungs with air, “I am yours. You’ve always had me; even when I hated you, you had me.”

All coherent thoughts disintegrate when Breck grabs my shoulders, pulling me against him. The heat of his body radiates through my skin as his hand runs behind my head, sliding up my neck until his fingers are tangled in my hair, pulling it until my mouth is almost touching his. The intensity of his gaze weakens me. Steel blue phases into a stormy gray as his mouth collides with mine.

My head spins. My knees go weak as I collapse against him, my body not able to handle the intensity of the sensations exploding inside of me. Breck’s lips claim mine with such power, for one second, I am afraid. I know the danger of losing myself in him, but then the fear is gone; there is no one else I would rather lose myself to.

His hand fists my hair as his kiss deepens, his tongue pushing, probing, demanding access. Opening my mouth, I kiss him back. The feel of his lips conquering me, the taste of his tongue as it slides over mine, colliding, taming, plundering, sends the sweetest shivers down my spine. His teeth graze my bottom lip, nipping and lavishing as his tongue tastes my lips, then plunges inside again, breaking me to his will. I need him with such desperation, I cringe at my weakness but allow him to tame me.

Short excerpt two:

I vaguely hear Anton making his not so smooth move, but my attention is still diverted to the enigma standing on the threshold. Carnal thoughts wage with futile attempts to break the vexing connection enslaving my failing senses. Heat simmers through my veins to places low in my belly and my lips part in resentful shock from the intensity of emotions raging inside of me. His gaze is full of hate, punishing even, and chills spill down my spine. Need to know why he affects me this way conquers all my internal alarms blaring for me to just stay away.

The redhead follows his gaze and the warning in her eyes is clear. Disregarding the seething look, I pull away from Anton. Breck’s lips curve slightly as his eyes gleam dominantly, daring, showing his intentions to play. Standing my ground, I refuse to break the silent challenge. I don’t understand the rules, or the game, but there’s no way in hell I’m going to lose. The music stops; people push their way through the crowd towards the bar, but neither of us moves. Anton is calling me. I ignore him. Flashes of light ignite the room in angry hues as the band begins the next song. Breck’s date pulls on his arm, and it’s me who smiles this time.

Several accosting seconds tick by before he gives me a slight nod, admitting his defeat, but it’s the toxic mix of admiration and animosity in his eyes that strips me of air, making my knees weak. With one last look, he’s gone, but I know whatever this is that he’s started is far from over. Slowly, the tension gripping me begins to ease. Dread and desire hit me like a sledgehammer. I don’t want to play his game. Good or bad, I don’t want to feel anything for him…not him. Shaking my head, I blame Jess’ drink. Feeling discombobulated and foreign in my own skin, I breathe a rushed apology to Anton and walk shakily to the bar.

Short excerpt three:

Angrily opening my eyes, I slam my palms against the floor, not wanting to think of last night, of Emma, or how beautiful she looked without make-up and wearing those old, torn jeans and worn-out jacket. I wanted to kiss her. That goes against all my rules. No kissing, no personal shit, just sex. Lots of sex. Seeing her bare skin through the holes in those jeans made me thirst for sex. I could taste her. Her phantom flavor bursts on my tongue even now. There was nothing remarkable about the modest amount of skin I saw. Hell, the holes weren’t even near intimate areas, but seeing her tan skin made me want to see all of her, lying on the bed for me. Just for me. That’s another cardinal sin, none of them are mine, I make damn sure of that.

There’s an unending supply of women who are willing to follow the rules and service my needs, so thoughts of Emma getting in my way doesn’t make any sense. Only pansy asses like Jason believe in love at first site, swearing that’s what happened between him and Jess. That’s bullshit. Love is bullshit.

Emma is different, possibly innocent, or at least more innocent than the others. Maybe that’s what’s screwing with my head. I’ve grown too accustomed to women who are anything but innocent. Debased. That’s what I prefer, what I’m used to, what I need. There’s only one way to get her poison out of me…I will make her like the others.

Longer excerpt one:

The annoying buzzing in my pants vibrates again and I give up. Jess is relentless. If I don’t show, I’ll never hear the end of it.

Rays of sunlight scatter across the sidewalk as the clouds slowly drift in front of the afternoon sun. The air is crisp, vibrant, lifting my mood as I pull into Jess’ favorite lunch establishment. The deli is permeated with the aroma of pastrami, vinegar, and cilantro.

Jess spots me as soon as I step inside, giving me her smartass I-knew-you-would-come smirk, but Emma’s back is turned towards me. Her long hair is twisted into some kind of smooth bun. Her jacket hangs from the back of the chair and her soft, feminine frame is covered in a form fitting white sweater. It’s not too tight, just snug enough to torture a man with fantasies about the sensual curves hiding just underneath.

The acoustics suck in the old building but the food makes up for having to strain to hear the person next to you. Plopping in the seat next to Emma, she jumps, startled by what I quickly perceive as my unexpected presence.

Her shocked gaze pierces me. A fleeting pleased look flitters across her flawless features and the hint of a smile curves the edges of her soft pink lips before she catches herself and turns towards Jess, cocking one eyebrow, effectively cocking the unruly part of me into a rock hard state. Damn, I want to fuck her.

“I invited Breck,” Jess shrugs innocently.

“I gathered that,” Emma says through gritted teeth, all pleasure gone from her eyes.

The waitress arrives and starts to ask our order until her gaze falls on me. Her cheeks tint as she flashes a sexy grin before biting her bold, red lip.

Her reaction is not new to me, women have always seemed to be turned on by my presence for some reason. Despite what people may think, I don’t thrive on the attention; I’m just used to it, and I learned its advantages at an early age. It’s a mutual benefit.

Bringing the tip of the pen to her mouth, the waitress’ eyes are filled with exactly what she wants to do with me. I begin the game the women expect, playing the part they seem to want me to play, and give her my I’ll-have-you-out-of-your-panties-in-ten-seconds smile.

Jess mouths a vile word at me.

Emma shifts uncomfortably in her chair.

I smirk arrogantly.

Snapping her finger in front of the blonde’s face, Jess verbally scourges the waitress, “He’s not going to strip you down and have his way with you on the table, so how ‘bout doing your job and forget about him doing you and take our lunch order.”

The waitress shoots Jess a scathing glare before raising her eyebrow, impatiently waiting for Jess’ order.

Interestingly, the cocked brow action coming from her does nothing for me.

Emma orders an eight inch sub with extra sauce and fries, impressing me.

“I like a girl who eats,” I remark, turning my attention back to the girl who keeps surprising me, this time, by her choice of the loaded sub.

“You like a girl who is breathing,” Emma mumbles under her breath.

Biting back a chuckle, I turn towards the blonde waitress who seems to have regained her earlier flirtatious smile.

Emma glances between the waitress and me before I catch her, causing her to immediately look away.

Winking at the blonde, I have to force myself not to burst out laughing at the way Emma’s mouth drops and her nose crinkles up in that cute way when she’s disgusted. Knowing it will push Emma over the edge, I slowly lean in front of her, careful to brush my shoulder against her arm, as I grab the waitress’ hand, telling her that I want my sub spicy, hot, and dripping with juices.

The noise leaving Emma’s lips is something between a shocked gasp and a gurgling grunt. Snatching her jacket, Emma pushes away from the table.

Damn. “Where are you going?” I ask, the thought of her leaving affecting me way more than I like.

“Next to Jess. Sitting next to you seems dangerous; who knows what I might catch.”

“Ha, cute! I’ve got a clean bill, the epitome of health. I prefer not to make stupid decisions. I always use protection and get tested every few months.”

“More than I needed to know,” Emma spouts, her words drowning in disdain.

The pleading look Jess discretely shoots my way weakens me, making me bite back my smartass reply.

Emma refuses to look at me while we wait on our food, but I can’t seem to pull my eyes away from her, or the quirky way she fidgets with everything when she’s studying it. I want to bite that lip, graze its fullness between my teeth and taste its sweet ripeness before tasting the rest of her, wondering if the intoxicating flavor in my head is anywhere close to what I imagine. Somehow, I know it is.

Jess breaks the silence by attempting small talk, even going as far as asking me about work.

“Since when do you give a shit about my work?”

Pain explodes against my shin, and I send Jess a warning glare, which she ignores and kicks me again.

Clearing my throat, I slide my legs a little further under my chair and decide to appease her, “I’m busy trying to come up with a design for the new energy efficient solar line Granddad instituted.”

Emma begins to scribble on her napkin as Jess continues to ask me about the design needed while I flippantly answer a few of her questions before slanting my eyes, warning her to knock it off. She’s about as interested in my work at my grandfather’s business as I am, which is not much. The only reason I’m working at his company is out of respect for him.

Changing tactics, Jess explains that, in addition to the restaurant, I have taken over the decision making aspect of my grandfather’s business while he undergoes chemo.

Emma’s hand stops moving as her gaze meets mine, her eyes full of empathy. “I’m sorry about your grandfather.”

There’s a vulnerability in her eyes that I haven’t seen before, a sadness that sends a sharp ache straight through my chest. Fuck, another reason I want to hate her.

“Working at your grandfather’s company must take away from your other job. The owner of the restaurant must be really nice to donate food every night and give you the time needed to help out your grandfather.”

Jess opens her mouth to correct Emma, but I return her under the table kick, shutting her up.

Emma’s voice changes, her eyes becoming hooded, “Is your grandfather doing well with the chemo?”

I don’t want her sympathy, and I sure as hell don’t want her looking at me the way she is right now, making me want to scoop her in my arms and hold her until all of her sadness disappears. “He’s a tough bastard,” I state quickly, my gaze turning harsh, desperately needing to dispel the effect she has on me.

Her daddy may be a preacher but Emma seems to possess the ability to curse a man with her bewitching smile, casting a spell on what’s left of my soul, but it’s the radiance in her eyes that conjures the vexing illusion of something I can never have that’s so damning.

“What’s this?” I ask angrily, dragging myself away from her hex as I grab the napkin Emma’s been scribbling on the past twenty minutes. The bold, smooth lines of the company’s initials with a design made of a brilliant abstract mixed with a simplistic, clear, sure artistry creates a formidable yet inviting feel. “You just drew this?”

Emma’s hands drop to her lap as she leans back in her chair defensively, “I heard you and Jess talking. I was just playing around.”

My gaze snaps back to hers, seeing that ambiguous light becoming opaque, and I curse underneath my breath at the harshness of my tone with her. Although it’s torture seeing the light in her eyes, it’s unbearable watching it go, especially when I’m the one causing it to dim. Softening my voice, I hold up the napkin, “This is perfect, exactly what we’re looking for.”

“Oh,” she mumbles, relaxing her shoulders a little. “Um, thank you.”

Jess beams proudly, “Of course it is! She’s an amazing artist.”

The blush that spreads across Emma’s cheeks at the compliment does hateful things to me. Turning my attention back to the drawing, I ask, “An artist, huh?” I slide the napkin across the table, “How much for this design? After you recreate it on the computer with a little color and sharpen it, making it 1200 DPI?”

“I don’t mind designing it for you. I can have it ready by tomorrow.”

“You’d give it to me?” my question is laced with bewildered amusement.

Emma gives a small, unsure nod.

A hearty laugh bursts out before I can contain it, “You really are small town aren’t you?”

“Fine!” she snaps, halting my laughter and catching me off guard. Emma grabs the napkin, crumbling it and throwing it into her purse. “Like I said, it was only me playing around.”

Suppressing another chuckle at how she squares her jaw, lifting it just a notch, I can’t help but admire her determination to despise me when it’s clear by the hurt in her eyes that she cares what I think.

“Damn, Jess, I hurt your friend’s feelings again.”

“Stop being a prick!” Jess snaps.

“My feelings aren’t susceptible to your nocuous attitude,” Emma proclaims, smoothing her sweater before folding her hands calmly on the table.

Yes, she is most definitely a beautiful liar. Bursting out in laughter, my brows pull together, “Nocuous?”

The slightest curve tilts her luscious lips and a need-filled ache builds steadily in my pants as my throat goes dry. Feelings stirring to life inside shame me. I’m not the type of man to want the woman, just what the woman can do to satisfy my needs at that moment. With Emma, I want something more. If only I knew what that something is so I can just take it already, fuck her, and be done with it.

The next glance into her expectant eyes proves that it won’t be that easy. Not with her. “You mistook my meaning. I meant what I said about the design; it’s perfect for the product, simple but strong. I still want it, but I won’t take it for free, so what do you want for it?”

Emma appears uncomfortable. It’s obvious she’s out of her element when it comes to business deals. I’ll have to work with her on that before she starts selling her art, assuming she isn’t giving that away for free as well. I already know she’s giving lessons for free at the center, a quick call to Patty, the center’s coordinator, confirmed that.

“I-I don’t know. Maybe fifty dollars.”

“I don’t work for a small mom and pops business, Emma. Don’t undersell yourself.”

The chewing on the inside of her cheek, causing her lip to curve sideways and downwards, is a pretty good indicator that she’s still struggling with coming up with a price. I decide to put her out of her misery, “I’ll pay one thousand dollars.”

“One thousand!” Her eyes widen in shock.

“But, you have to present it,” I state, guessing she’s not done much of that either.

The panic in her eyes proves I’m right. “Present it where?”

“To the board members at the meeting on Friday.”

“I have to work on Friday,” she blurts, relief filling her beautiful eyes.

“Okay, Friday evening then, at the party the company is hosting for the new line. You can go as my guest and present it there.”

Jess glares at me.

I smile cockily.

“I have to work early Saturday morning.”

“You’ll be out of there in plenty of time to sleep before work the next morning,” I state, my tone indicating that the decision has already been made.

She opens her mouth to protest, but the waitress returns with our lunch and her blouse open a few more buttons.

Jess rolls her eyes as Emma glances at me through her lashes, deepening her spell.

Clinching my jaw, I tear my eyes away from her and give the waitress a wink chock full of innuendo, effectively disgusting Emma to the point where she is ignoring me again.

The rest of the lunch hour is spent with Emma barely touching her meal and Jess shooting visual daggers at me. I thoroughly enjoy my sub, knowing that Jess will not be asking me to do her anymore favors with Emma anytime soon.

“Can I please have a carry out box?” Emma asks the waitress, reaching for her purse.

“I’ve got the tab,” I announce, pulling out my wallet.

“Thank you,” Emma manages to spit out, “but I can pay for my lunch.”

“I’m sure you can, but you’re not going to,” I state, leaving no room for argument while I give the waitress a generous tip instead of what she really wants, as indicated with her number written on the receipt she hands me. Leaving the receipt on the table, I turn towards Emma and Jess, feeling every bit of the tension Emma is struggling to control.

“Thank you for lunch,” Emma’s words are rushed and tinged with a little anger.

“No problem,” I smile, refraining from brushing back a piece of hair that has loosened from the bun and is blowing across her face. The stark blue of her eyes shimmers, brightened further by her tan, silky skin. The chestnut wisp continues to torture me as it falls against the corner of her full mouth. Thoughts of my lips on hers, her lips on me, leave me in physical torment. I want to feel that mouth getting me off. Stepping away from her, I grapple with my waning self-control and make myself focus. “Where do you work?”

“Shallonelles,” she replies, her eyes not quite meeting mine. She hesitates before adding, “And the gallery on Main.”

“What do you do there?”

“I create the art for the paper’s ads.”

“What do you do at the gallery?” I ask, getting the feeling she left that part out on purpose.

“I give tours.” Emma flashes a forced smile.

“Is any of your work there?” I ask, already knowing the answer.

“No.” There’s that fake smile again, and something I wasn’t prepared for…a heartbreaking longing.

Longer excerpt two:

Jess has dismissed last night as some major hormonal time of the month ordeal and waves it off without talking about it while she pours me a drink. She’s getting the beers ready to take to the grunge band that’s playing tonight when a couple of guys start shoving and yelling at the bar. Jess jerks her head towards Jason, who slides over the counter and steps in between the two just in time to catch a fist full of knuckles.

“Shit!” Jess leaves the tray on the bar and tries to demand the men to knock it off, but a beer bottle is thrown, smashing a few inches away from me at the bar, the dark liquid and glass splashing me.

The fight quickly spreads into an affray of arms, fists, and bodies being thrust left and right. Jess heads towards the door to get Gavin from outside. I’ve seen a couple of fights between some of Justin’s jock friends who had too much to drink at parties back home, but this is insane. The crowded space in front of the bar has turned into a wrestling and boxing match, and I scoot back to avoid more shattered glass when I slam into a sharp elbow sending me stumbling forward. Panic ensues as I hit the ground and am knocked back and forth, keeping me from scrambling to my feet. A pair of large, strong hands wrap around my waist, sweeping me off the ground and landing me on top of the counter.

“Get behind the bar and stay there,” Breck demands gruffly, directly before grabbing the tattooed fist of a shaved headed man whose intent was to send his fist into the crew cut military looking Goliath.

Breck twists the man’s arm behind his back, slamming his face against the bar. No gratitude is bestowed by Goliath as he throws a punch at Breck, who ducks, landing his elbow against the man’s ribs, then administering a sharp jab and an upward thrust of his forearm into Goliath’s nose. Blood streams as he falls backwards. The scene in front of me passes in a minute but it seems like it’s playing in slow motion as I watch Breck single handedly defusing a large part of the melee, dodging fists and elbows as he lands perfectly precise blows too many times for me to keep count.

I’m in a state of stunned awe, horrified, mesmerized, and more than a little ashamed at how I’m completely turned on watching Breck’s toned body twist and turn, his shirt pressing tight against the outline of his chiseled muscles when he takes down man after man. Gavin reaches the bar and flashes an exuberant grin as he joins in the brawl. The difference between the two is staggering. Gavin seems to be thoroughly enjoying the violent chaos, while Breck’s eyes are hard and calculated as he seems to find no amusement in the serious damage he’s causing.

Jess climbs over the top of the bar with me and grabs my arm, pulling me flush with her to the opposite counter. Her eyes bounce between Jason, Gavin, and Breck, not fazed in the least. She grabs a pitcher of water and throws the whole thing at a long-haired, pierced broad shouldered man who is gaining the upper hand on Jason. A few more faces are bloodied before the fight is contained.

Breck’s chest rises and falls from his exertion. His brow has a sheen of sweat and the veins on his neck are pulsating. I watch how eerily calm he is as he glances around the room, his fists still tightly coiled and ready to strike.

Jess hauls herself on the bar, pushing to her feet, “If you are still in one piece, then count yourself as one lucky sonofabitch and have a beer on the house, but if you’re one of the bleeding assholes, get the hell out of my bar and don’t even think about dragging your ass back until you sleep it off, or you won’t be able to walk out of here next time.”

Gavin slaps the back of Breck’s shoulder, absolutely beaming, “Oh hell, yeah. Now, that’s what I call a good night.”

Seemingly satisfied that all the potential threats have been neutralized, Breck’s gaze lands on mine, and I’m amazed that he went through all of what I just had a front row seat to untouched. I check out the small cut above Gavin’s eye, just shy of his temple, before cringing when I see Jason. His eye and nose are busted and bleeding. Breck shows no signs of what happened, other than looking as if he finished a heavy workout.

Jess grabs Jason’s chin, inspecting his bloodied face before pushing her thumb against the side of his nose.

“Damn, Jess, cut it out,” he snaps, knocking her hand away.

She laughs, “Not broken this time.”

Jason must see the residual shock registered on my face because he clicks his chin up when he looks at me, “You alright, Em?”

Jess slides back over the bar top, plopping down in front of me and wrapping my arm in hers, grinning, “This is her first party; she’ll be just fine, won’t you?”

Shaking it off, I scan the crowd that is now back to normal, drinking and talking like what just happened is a perfectly normal occurrence. “This happen a lot? Broken noses, bloody floors, and all that?”

Breck’s gaze turns hard again as he barks, “Oh, that’s right. You’re of the philosophy of turning the other cheek.”

Indignation rises, tinting my cheeks at his scoffing tone, “No. I – um- I mean-” not sure what I’m trying to say, I shut up, trying to match his admonishing stare but it comes out more like a twisted awed curiosity, “how did you do that?”

Gavin’s hand soundly slaps Breck’s back again, “Our boy here can kick some serious ass, go all the way to the pros, if he’d just embrace what he’s got.”

Breck shrugs Gavin’s hand away as Jess’ glare to shut up seems to mute Gavin. With one quick glimpse, Breck inspects me, “Were you hurt?” The words are gruff but there’s the tiniest flash of concern in his eyes.

“No – sorry,” I state hurriedly, realizing that I didn’t thank him for getting me out of the stampede before I did get hurt, “thank you for moving me.”

That strong, lightly specked jaw is still wound tight when he gives a sharp nod, “Don’t be late tomorrow.”

Wanting to be a smartass, I refrain from saluting at his order and let it go as he turns to leave.

“You just got here,” Gavin blurts, “throw him a beer, Jess.”

“Not tonight,” he mumbles before walking away.

I watch how the crowd thins, moving out of Breck’s way as he walks by. His reputation seems to include more than just being a god and Casanova; apparently, he’s also feared.

Giveaway Details:

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