Review: Tortured by Nicole Williams

 

 

 

 

 

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When he left for a twelve-month deployment, she knew it would feel like forever before they saw each other again. She didn’t realize how right she was.

When Lance Corporal Brecken Connolly gets taken as a POW, Camryn hopes for the best but steels herself for the worst. In the end, steel was what she needed to survive when he didn’t. She moves on the only way she knows how—gilding herself in more steel.

Years go by.

She builds a new life.

She leaves the old one behind.

Until one day, she sees the face of a ghost on the news. Brecken seems to have risen from the dead, but she knows she can’t perform the same miracle for herself. While Brecken was held in a torture camp for the past five years, she’s been trapped in her own kind of prison. One she can’t be freed from.  

The man she mourned comes back to join the living, but the girl he wanted to spend his life with isn’t the same woman he comes back for. Brecken isn’t the same person either. The past five years have changed them both. While he’s determined to put the pieces back together, she’s resolved to let hers rot where they shattered.

 

Broken or not, Brecken wants her back. He’ll do anything to achieve that. Even if it means going against the warden of Camryn’s personal prison—her husband.
“It’s been six years. Everything’s changed. I have. You have.” My eyes lifted. “Why? Why are you trying to win me back?”
He exhaled, his lips parting. “I’m going to win you back.”
When his hand slid around the bend of my waist, winding behind my back, I jerked. His touch was different tonight, hungry, determined. My head clouded, blocking out reason or letting it surface to the top, one or the other.
“I married him,” I whispered even as my hand found his chest.
“But you belong to me.”
My eyes closed as he bowed me against him. I wasn’t sure how two bodies that had been as broken as ours could be so strong when joined. “How do you know?”
“I can see it in your eyes. Every time you look at me.” His other hand lifted to my chin, tipping it until our eyes connected. His brow rose slowly, like I was proving his point right that very moment.
“That’s a confident statement.” My voice shook, but my body felt steady. Unwavering.
“It’s the truth.”
My chest was moving so hard, it brushed his with every breath. What was I doing? Where had I found myself? The man holding me had died only to be resurrected six years later. It was too late, but it wasn’t over.
No matter what, Brecken Connolly and I would never be over.
“Twenty-six days,” I said slowly. “That’s all I have to give you. That’s all I have to give. Four weeks. Once he’s back, you know the way it has to be.”
His face broke, but his hold didn’t budge. “It’s not enough.”
My fingers curled into his shirt, looking for some way to hold on to him. “I know.”
His other arm suddenly looped around me and he lifted me off the ground, his grip going around my backside when my legs tied around him. “But a fucking eternity wouldn’t be enough either, so it’ll just have to do.”
He carried me through the sand and up the stairs of the cabin, then he propped me against the wall so he could open the screen door. Something slipped out of my mouth when he flexed his hips into mine.
“Told you it wasn’t a morning issue,” he whispered in my ear, but I could hear the smile in his voice. “Just a Camryn one.”
He made the same motion with his hips, applying a little more friction this time, causing a louder sound to echo from my lungs.
Opening the screen door as silently as he could, he carried me inside.
“You can set me down, you know?” I whispered.
“I know,” he said, his arms tying tighter. Once all of the lights were off, the cabin closed up for the night, he padded down the hall.
“You know where you’re going?”
His head nodded beside mine. “I’ve always known.”
My hands went behind his neck. His skin was warm and familiar. “And where’s that?”
He exhaled against my skin as he closed the bedroom door. “Toward you.”
He set me down once he’d untied my legs from around his waist, and he took a few steps back. He stared at me for a moment then reached for the lamp on the dresser.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Turning on the lights.”
I watched him flip on another. “Why?”
“Because I want to see you. Because I want to watch your face as I move inside you. Because I want to see your skin flush when I make you come.” He flipped on one more light, then all of his attention turned to me. “Because I want to see everything.”
My heart took off as I imagined being intimate with him with every light in the room on. My body wasn’t the same one he’d left. It had carried a burden; it bore the scars of a shattered soul and a broken body. “I don’t want you to see me. Not like that. In the dark, you can imagine the way I was before.”
When I reached for the closest lamp to switch it off, he stopped me. “I don’t want to imagine.” His hand curled around mine, guiding it away from the lamp. “I want the real thing. I want the real you.”
“You’ve seen my body. You know what I look like beneath all of this.” I motioned at the fresh clothes hanging off of me, covering me from my wrists to my ankles to my neck.
“When I look at you, I see beauty and strength, and the one person in the world who gives me a reason to live and a reason to die.” He drew me to him, his face creased in lines of concentration. “That’s what I see when I look at you.”

 

MY REVIEW:

This story is not for the faint of heart. It’s probably not for readers who have lost a soldier or been abused, either. But it’s a wonderful story. There’s a lot of heaviness and I cried not a few tears, but this hero is a hero. And he doesn’t like it when men pick on women. Especially when one picks on the woman he thought he’d be marrying once he got home from the nightmare in which he was imprisoned for five years.

Camryn has been through a hell of her own. Partially, it’s of her own making and she therefore feels defeated. She has a small son to protect and always puts his security above her own safety, which is a certain brand of strength.

There are all kinds of gray areas in life, and this story touches on some important ones. Five stars.

 

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Nicole Williams is the New York Times and USATODAY bestselling author of contemporary and young adult romance, including the Crash and Lost & Found series. Her books have been published by HarperTeen and Simon & Schuster in both domestic and foreign markets, while she continues to self-publish additional titles. She is working on a new YA series with Crown Books (a division of Random House) as well. She loves romance, from the sweet to the steamy, and writes stories about characters in search of their happily even after. She grew up surrounded by books and plans on writing until the day she dies, even if it’s just for her own personal enjoyment. She still buys paperbacks because she’s all nostalgic like that, but her kindle never goes neglected for too long. When not writing, she spends her time with her husband and daughter, and whatever time’s left over she’s forced to fit too many hobbies into too little time.
Nicole is represented by Jane Dystel, of Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency.

 

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Chapter Reveal: Tortured by Nicole Williams

 

 

 

 

Coming April 9th
Pre-order exclusively via iBooks HERE

 

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When he left for a twelve-month deployment, she knew it would feel like forever before they saw each other again. She didn’t realize how right she was.

When Lance Corporal Brecken Connolly gets taken as a POW, Camryn hopes for the best but steels herself for the worst. In the end, steel was what she needed to survive when he didn’t. She moves on the only way she knows how—gilding herself in more steel.

Years go by.

She builds a new life.

She leaves the old one behind.

Until one day, she sees the face of a ghost on the news. Brecken seems to have risen from the dead, but she knows she can’t perform the same miracle for herself. While Brecken was held in a torture camp for the past five years, she’s been trapped in her own kind of prison. One she can’t be freed from.  

The man she mourned comes back to join the living, but the girl he wanted to spend his life with isn’t the same woman he comes back for. Brecken isn’t the same person either. The past five years have changed them both. While he’s determined to put the pieces back together, she’s resolved to let hers rot where they shattered.

 

Broken or not, Brecken wants her back. He’ll do anything to achieve that. Even if it means going against the warden of Camryn’s personal prison—her husband.
PROLOGUE


Whenever he had to leave, it was torture. You’d think I’d get used to it, but I didn’t—each time got harder. This one might have felt especially brutal because of how long he’d be gone. A year. We’d done weeks, we’d done months, but we’d never done the full year.
Being with someone in the military, I knew I’d have to get used to it. The separation. The worry. The loneliness. The feeling that I was trying to catch my breath for however long he was gone.
It was a way of life. And he was my life. So I’d just have to figure it out.
“I’m never going to look at dog tags the same way again.” Brecken’s mouth turned up as his eyes roamed over me splayed across the backseat as he tucked in his T-shirt. He twisted his wrist, his gaze moving to his watch. A crease folded into his forehead. “But I’m going to need those back before I climb onto that bus. Something about military regulations. Not wandering around enemy territory without them. Those marines are sticklers for the rules.”
He was trying to make me feel better—trying to get me to smile—but little could lift my spirits other than finding out he didn’t have to leave for the Middle East for twelve long months.
“You don’t need them. Not really.”
“Why’s that?”
“Because you only need them if you’re planning on dying, and so help me god, I’m not taking these off my neck if you have plans for some kind of a hero’s death.” My hand curled almost defensively around the metal tags hanging against my bare skin as I focused on the way the cool metal warmed in my hand. The way it seemed to come to life in my hold.
“I’m not planning on dying over there. I’m not going to die,” he corrected the moment my eyebrow started to lift. “But I do have plans of scoring some gnarly war wound so I have a story to tell our grandkids one day and can hang one of those Purple Hearts off my chest.”
I flattened my face as best as I could, even though it was kind of impossible with the way he was grinning at me as he wrestled his jeans back into place. “Not funny.”
“Come on. It’ll make me look tough.”
“You already look tough. Too tough,” I added as I scanned him for the millionth time since he’d arrived back in Medford for a week-long vacation before shipping out. Whenever I looked at him, I didn’t just see the good-looking guy others did—I saw every good memory from my past. I saw every good memory that would be formed in the future. Brecken had been a part of my life since I was eight, and he was as much a part of me as I was.
“Nah, I need one of those big, angry-looking scars running across my chest. Or one of those bullet hole scars on my thigh. Something real tough like that.”
“And why do you need your dog tags for that?” My fingers tightened around the thin metal ovals, refusing to let them go as if I hoped in doing so, he couldn’t go either.
“Blood transfusion. Medics are going to need to know my blood type when they’re trying to patch up my unconscious body.”
“Unconscious body?”
He nodded all solemn-like. “I can’t be one of those guys who earns his Purple Heart by getting a scratch on some barbed wire. I need to lose a quart or two of blood, maybe even code on the operating table. Something worthy of that medal.”
The thought of Brecken marching through a hostile country with a rifle in his hands, with god only knew what aimed his way, made me feel weak with worry. The thought of him fighting for his life in some marine medical tent about took whatever was left of my sanity.
I must not have been doing a good job hiding my emotions, because his face broke when he saw my eyes, his arms opening toward me. “It’s going to be okay, Camryn. I’m going to be okay. We’re going to be okay. The year will fly by, and before we know it, we’ll be getting married and buying a little house as close to the beach as we can afford. Okay?”
His arms wound around me, swallowing my body, and I let him tuck me close to him. I’d never known the feeling of being safe until Brecken Connolly’s arms had shown me the meaning.
My hand planted in the middle of his chest, feeling his heartbeat vibrate against my palm. “Why can’t we just get married now? Why can’t I join the marines and go with you, wherever that is, so we can be together?”
His laugh was muffled from his mouth being pressed against my temple. “Well, you can’t join the marines and my unit because the military’s under this impression that us marines of the male species become distracted and one-track minded when the women we love are marching beside us. They’re convinced the only things on our minds are protecting you, flirting with you, or screwing you.”
Quietly, I counted off on my fingers, “Protecting, flirting, screwing . . .” Then I nodded. “Damn, they sure have you pegged.”
Brecken’s fingers brushed up and down the bend of my waist. “And we can’t get married right now because you’ve got two more months of high school to finish before you earn that nifty diploma thing.” He kept going, undeterred by my grumble. “And I need to save some money to give you a proper ring and wedding. I’m not doing the courthouse thing with cheap silver bands. Not for you. You deserve the best.”
My head tucked beneath his chin as I let him hold me in the backseat of his aunt’s old Corsica. The only good thing I could say about the car—which was a coin toss if it would start any given day—was that it had a decent-sized backseat that Brecken and I had made more than ample use of. Growing up in a strict household with my dad as Brecken grew up in the packed household a few houses down, privacy had been in short supply for both of us. Thankfully, his aunt was willing to lend Brecken her car whenever she could, like today, when I’d just made love to the only boy I’d ever loved for the last time for the next year.
My fingers curled into his chest as I willed time to freeze. “I have the best.”
Brecken grunted like he doubted that, his head lifting to check out the windshield. We were parked way back in the bus depot lot. His bus would be leaving for the long drive back to Camp Pendleton in a few short minutes.
“Besides, you already got me a ring.” I raised my left hand in front of him, rolling my fingers so he could see the adjustable birthstone ring on my finger.
He shook his head. “I won that for you at an arcade when we were ten.”
“It cost you twelve hundred tickets too. You saved up all summer to get that many tickets.”
His fingers touched the ring, twisting it around with a small smile on his face. “And it probably has the street value of a nickel. Not exactly the kind of wedding ring I want my wife to have.”
I found myself staring at the ring with him. The gold paint had started chipping off the thin band years ago, but the small pink birthstone still sparkled when the light hit it just right. “Well, it’s priceless to me. I don’t care what the street value is. Or how many tickets it cost.”
“Even so, I’m getting you a nice ring. With all of the hazard pay I’ll earn this year, you’d better start working that left ring finger out so it can bear the weight of the diamond I’ll be dropping on it.”
I was glad he couldn’t see my face, because he hated knowing how worried I was about him. He said hazard pay like a sales rep mentioned a bonus, but I heard it for what it really was—the government giving you a little more money for the likelihood of losing your life increasing.
“One more year. That’s it. Then we’ll be able to be together like we’ve always planned. Away from here.” Brecken’s arms loosened around me. We didn’t have much longer. “Away from these people.”
An uneven exhale came from him, the muscles in his arms twitching. I knew who he was talking about without him going into detail. Neither of our lives had been charmed or particularly easy, but mine had been worse. Being raised by a single dad who was so strict he made a monk’s life seem carefree, I’d had an unusual upbringing. Brecken only knew what I let him know about it, which was barely half of the reality.
“I don’t like leaving you alone with him,” he said, his voice a note lower. “If things get hard again, just leave. Move in with my insane family or a hotel or anywhere. Don’t let him hurt you. Words or fists. He does it again”—Brecken’s hands curled into balls as his back stiffened—“I’ll kill him. I swear I will.”
“He won’t,” I said instantly, in my most convincing voice. “He’s working on all that. Not drinking as much.” I made sure to hold his stare to sell as much conviction as I was capable.
My dad wasn’t just a strict man. He was a sad one, a lonely one. After my mom left, he’d turned into someone else, almost like she’d taken everything that had been good about him and stuffed it in that small suitcase too. Since I was the only one around and bore a striking resemblance to my mom, I’d taken the brunt of my dad’s grief. In the form of cutting words and, occasionally, outstretched palms.
Brecken had been walking down the sidewalk one day when he saw my dad strike me across the cheek for attempting to leave the house in a skirt he described as “fitting for a whore.” Brecken had only been thirteen, but he’d taken my dad down, managing to land a few punches before I could pull him off.
My dad stopped hitting me after that. At least where anyone passing by could see.
Not that I needed to tell Brecken that now. Though I guessed it would get him to stay a while longer . . . if only to be charged with murder and thrown into prison for the next twenty to thirty years.
Suddenly, that year didn’t seem so bad.
“He won’t,” I reiterated, when Brecken continued to give me that penetrating stare, like he was capable of finding a lie if I was hiding one.
Both of his brows lifted. “He better not.”
“If anything happens, I’ll crash at your family’s place, I swear.”
Sitting up, he pulled his wallet out of his back pocket. “With fourteen people sharing twelve hundred square feet of space, good luck finding a quiet spot to do your homework.” He pulled every bill out of his wallet. Even the last crumbled dollar. “Take this, hide it from your dad, and use it if you need to. That’s enough to get you a week or so at a hotel that isn’t a dump, and as soon as I get my next paycheck, I’ll send more.”
My head was shaking as I tried to stuff the money back into his wallet. He’d already closed it and was sliding it back into his pocket though. “I’ll be fine.”
Brecken’s gaze dropped to the money in my hand. “Yeah, I know.”
“Brecken.”
“Camryn,” he mimicked.
“I’m not taking the last dollar in your wallet.”
“Why not?” he asked, making a face. “I’d give you the shirt off my back, the air in my lungs, the last drop of blood in my veins. The last dollar’s a cakewalk compared to, you know, dying of suffocation or bleeding out.” He winked as he folded my fingers around the wad of money in my hand, then he leaned down to pull on his boots. He was moving quickly, glancing in the direction of the buses like he was making sure his wasn’t pulling away from the curb yet.
“Do you want to walk with me to the bus?” His focus stayed on cinching up his last boot as he waited for my answer.
He already knew it though. Good-byes weren’t my forte. Especially not the kind where I had to wave good-bye to the man I loved as he prepared to head into the middle of a war zone for the next year. Good-bye came with a whole different context when you said it to a marine.
“I know, Blue Bird. I know.” He sighed, his eyes narrowing at the weathered floorboards before he reached for the dog tags still hanging around my neck.
I didn’t make any move to lift my head or slide my hair aside to make it easier for him. As long as those tags were on my neck instead of his, he was safe. He was alive.
“I’m not going to die over there,” he whispered, pulling the tags over his head. They clinked together as they fell against his chest. “I’m coming back to you.”
My throat was burning from trying to keep myself from crying. “You can’t promise that.”
He reached for the blanket that had fallen on the floor and gently tucked it around my still-naked body. It was strange how I’d forgotten I was naked until he’d taken his tags off of me. Now though, I felt bare. Exposed. Vulnerable. My dress was somewhere around, even though I didn’t see it. We’d barely managed to make it to the parking lot before falling into the backseat together.
“Yes I can,” he said, his thumb tracing my collarbone before tucking the other corner around my shoulder. “Have I ever broken a promise to you?” He angled himself so he was in front of me, so I was forced to look him in the eyes.
“This is different. You can’t know for sure.”
“I’m going to enjoy watching you eat those words when I’m standing in front of that pretty face in twelve months, Blue Bird.”
I pulled the blanket tighter around me. “You know I don’t like it when you call me that when I’m mad at you.”
“You’re mad? At me?” He blinked. “Why?”
“You know why.” My eyes automatically moved toward the line of buses.
“To set the record straight, it’s the marine corps sending me to Iraq. Not me by personal choice.”
“No, but you made the personal choice to join the marine corps.”
“Yeah, because I didn’t want to spend the next twenty years pumping gas at the Qwik Mart.” His hand curled around the back of the front seat. “We’ve talked about this, Camryn. I’m not cut out for college, and I sure as shit am not going to spend my life working a minimum-wage part-time job and stuck in Medford. The marines is a chance at a real life. A career where I can be promoted and provide for a family and get a chance to kick a little ass every once in a while.” He leaned forward to kiss my forehead. Then my lips. “This is the ticket to that life we’ve been talking about for years. But it comes with a price.” His mouth covered mine again, this time a bit longer. “I’ll be okay. I’ll make it back.”
My eyes closed so I could focus on the taste of him left behind on my mouth. “You’re always the first to charge into anything. You don’t hang back. You don’t like the shadows. You like being the one who cast those shadows.”
When my eyes finally opened, I found his dark blue ones inches away from mine. His light hair, buzzed short so he was all ready for deployment, the few freckles scattered across the bridge of his nose, the way his jaw tightened when he stared at me, those were the things I’d remember when I’d lay awake at night, wondering where he was. If he was safe. If he was thinking about me. As long as I held on to a part of him, he could never really leave me.
“I’m coming home to you,” he said like a solemn vow. “It might be in more than one piece, but I’m coming home to you.”
I tucked his tags inside his shirt. They’d become cold again. “A thousand pieces, I don’t care. Just come home.”
His smile was almost as forced as mine as he leaned in, pulling me into his arms one last time. He held me for a minute, one hand secured around my neck, the other around my back, rocking me against him. Then he kissed me one last time. “Gotta go, Blue Bird. The Middle East isn’t going to settle itself down.”
As he threw open the back door to go around to the trunk to grab his bag, I leaned across the seat. He was leaving. For what felt like forever. “Yeah, don’t think you’re single-handedly responsible for tackling that agenda either.”
Throwing the bag over his shoulder, he crouched beside me. This smile wasn’t contrived. It was real. Perfect. “I’ll see you soon.”
“Soon?”
His hand formed around my cheek as his thumb traced the seam of my lips. “Sounds better than see you in a year, right?” Tucking his thumb into his mouth, tasting my lips on it, he gave me a wicked smirk before shoving to a stand and starting toward the buses. “I’m coming back for you, Camryn Blue Gardner, so you’d better be waiting for me, or I’ll just have to come find you and remind you why you fell crazy in love with me.”
Tucking the blanket around myself, I slid out of the car, leaning over the open door. “I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be waiting.”
He’d started to jog backward. “Waiting as in a few days until some other guy makes his play?”
My eyes rolled as I gave him a look. Brecken and I’d been together since I was fifteen and he was seventeen. Even before that, we’d been inseparable, no one able to come between us.
I cupped my hand around my mouth. “Waiting as in forever.”
“I won’t keep you waiting that long. Just long enough.” He was shouting now, the rumbling buses muffling his voice.
“Long enough for what?” I yelled back.
Even with this much distance between us, I didn’t miss it. The look in his eyes. The tip of his smile. “For you to agree to marry me the moment I get back.”
The breeze played with my hair, sending it away from him, like forces out of our control were already pulling us apart. “I will!”
He paused just below the bus steps, his eyes consuming me from a hundred yards away. “It’s, I do, Blue Bird. I do.” He grinned and handed his bag off to the person stuffing them into one of the outside compartments. Then his hands cupped around his mouth, and he dropped his head back. “I do, too!”
His voice echoed across the parking lot, earning the attention of more than just me.
That was it. He climbed the stairs, turned the corner, and disappeared inside the bus. I wouldn’t see him for a year. I might not see him ever . . .
My jaw tensed as I put a stop to that train of thought. Wedding vows and rings were the last things on my mind as his bus lurched away from the curb.
“Just come back to me,” I whispered to no one. “Just come back.”

 

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Nicole Williams is the New York Times and USATODAY bestselling author of contemporary and young adult romance, including the Crash and Lost & Found series. Her books have been published by HarperTeen and Simon & Schuster in both domestic and foreign markets, while she continues to self-publish additional titles. She is working on a new YA series with Crown Books (a division of Random House) as well. She loves romance, from the sweet to the steamy, and writes stories about characters in search of their happily even after. She grew up surrounded by books and plans on writing until the day she dies, even if it’s just for her own personal enjoyment. She still buys paperbacks because she’s all nostalgic like that, but her kindle never goes neglected for too long. When not writing, she spends her time with her husband and daughter, and whatever time’s left over she’s forced to fit too many hobbies into too little time.
Nicole is represented by Jane Dystel, of Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency.

 

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Review: Two Wrongs by Donna Alam

 

Two Wrongs is now live!

“As soon as I finished this book I was ready to start all over. The characters of Ivy and Dylan embedded themselves so deep in my heart and soul.”
“A simply amazing five-star read.”

I do hope you’ll find time to check the pair out. And don’t forget:

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Summary:

When Ivy Adams is summoned back to LA by her secret husband, it’s for the purpose of revenge, not a second chance. Estranged as long as they’ve been married, Ivy’s never told anyone she even has a husband, let alone he’s the Scots born movie star, Dylan Duffy.

Yeah, that Dylan Duffy. The sexy-as-sin bad-boy. The man whose rumbling accent has half the world’s panties damp.

But Ivy isn’t the only one keeping secrets, and screwing half of Hollywood hasn’t sated Dylan’s need for revenge. He’s hellbent on making Ivy pay for her mistakes in the most despicable way he can.

Two wrongs don’t make the pair even, but can they ever make their marriage right?

 

My Review:

One of the things I love about the Trouble by Numbers Series is the authentic Scottish voice. If you loved Rory, you’ll love Dylan twice as hard!

Ivy and Dylan may have married on a whim, with none of her friends or family the wiser, but they had a sweet, loving relationship until outside forces got in the way. Neither was brave enough to communicate their feelings, which allowed poisonous assumptions (you know what they say about assumptions) to come between them. So, Ivy left and Dylan couldn’t understand why.

But now that their divorce papers are on the table, there may just be a chance to talk it out. Or destroy each other. It could go either way.

Always complex, always smoking hot, with a likeable cast of characters and dreamy settings, Donna Alam delivers again with Trouble by Numbers. Five stars.

 


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Author Bio:

Sign up to Donna’s reading group to receive a FREE COPY of a story from the ‘Pretty’ world NOT AVAILABLE ANYWHERE ELSE! Copy this link into your browser http://bit.ly/DAmail

 

 

Donna writes about exotic locations and the men you aren’t married to, but might sometimes wish you were. Escapism reads with heart, humor, and plenty of steam.

Hailing from the North of England, she’s a nomad at heart moving houses and continents more times than she cares to recall. She once worked at a school like the one described in her Pretty Series, where the wheels of her imagination began to turn.

When not bashing away at a keyboard, Donna can usually be found, good book in hand, hiding from her family and responsibilities. She likes her wine and humour dry, and her mojitos and language salty.

Catch up with her on Facebook or send the twit a tweet to keep in touch.

Thanks so much for reading! I hope spring is finally on its way to you, wherever you are!
And don’t forget, Two Wrongs is on sale for release week only.
Also, I’d love to hear what you thought!

Donna x

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Review: Unforgiven by Ruth Clampett

 

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Unforgiven, an all-new sexy and emotional M/M love story from Ruth Clampett available now!!

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Unforgiven by Ruth Clampett
Publication Date: March 9th, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Would you live a lie to hold onto the one you love?

Dean and Jason are best friends, like brothers since boyhood, now architecture students and college roommates. They’ve always had each other’s back, but when one walks in on the other with another man, everything changes. How do you explain to your best friend that he’s the one you’ve always wanted, that until now your life has been a lie?

Desperation and shame are two dirty words that run through Jason’s veins. He carries the scars from a wayward priest who stole his innocence and left him shattered. Meanwhile for years he’s watched Dean pursuing woman after woman, as his own heart slowly breaks.

When their world blows apart, they learn the powerful bond between them has more fire than either understood. Can two broken souls find the light in their darkness and come together to make a whole, or will sins of the past be forever unforgiven?

My Review

Jason and Dean have been best friends forever, and unbeknownst to Dean, Jason’s been carrying a torch for him for years. But Dean is straight, right? It’s absolutely hopeless. Until Jason gets the shock of his life and everything he though he knew isn’t so concrete anymore. But is it worth risking their friendship to expand their boundaries?

This is an intense read–somewhat grittier than Ruth’s other stories but just as satisfying in the romance department. Five stars.

Excerpt

 

He stands frozen, every part of him perfectly still, and then he gasps for air. “Please, Dean, please tell me you aren’t toying with me.”

I press my face into his neck. “I’m not toying with you, man. I don’t know what’s happening to me, but I have all these confusing feelings and my curiosity is through the roof. I’ve been so damn restless lately, and suddenly I have a feeling that if I turn a corner, I might find myself right where I need to be.”

Jason slides his arm along my lower back and curves his fingers around my side, then pulls me closer. “Don’t make me hope for something, and then crush me. I wouldn’t be able to take it. Our friendship means everything to me. It’s why I’m still standing and fighting for a future, when for a long time I wasn’t sure if I deserved one.”

I pull my head back so we can be face to face. It guts me to see so much pain in his eyes. Why the hell didn’t I see all of this before? He’s my best friend, dammit. I should have known he was hurting.

He shakes his head. “I can’t lose you, Dean. I can’t. Tread carefully, man.” His eyes are glazed like he’s fighting back tears.

I take his hand and guide him into my room. “You aren’t going to lose me. Maybe this whole thing of me learning your secrets happened to bring us closer.”

“I want that,” he whispers, and then more softly he murmurs, “I want you.”

SBPR-RC-U-AN

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About the Author:

Ruth Clampett, daughter of legendary animation director Bob Clampett, grew up surrounded by artists and animators. A graduate of Art Center College of Design, she has been VP of Design for Warner Brothers Studio Stores and taught photography at UCLA. Today she runs her own studio and as the Fine Art publisher for Warner Brothers Studios has come to know and work with some of the world’s greatest artists in the fields of animation and comics.

Ruth lives and works in Los Angeles, strictly supervised by her teenage daughter, who helps plan their summer around their yearly pilgrimage to the San Diego Comic Con.

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Connect with Ruth:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RuthClampettWrites/

Twitter: @RuthyWrites

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Review + Giveaway: Hero Hair by Rachel Robinson

 

 

Want to meet a “Real Seal?”

 

 

Hero Hair is NOW LIVE & Free on Kindle Unlimited!

**99cents for a limited time**

 

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Blurb

Everyone knows there is no “I” in team, but to Macs Newstead–orgasm-gifting, muscle-filled Navy SEAL hero–there are more important words than team. Words like victory and vanity and selfishness. People say those words like they are a bad thing, but to Macs, they’re simply tools in his highly effective arsenal. When a man’s entire existence revolves around the necessity to end lives, silly, mundane things like second dates or monogamy seem worthy sacrifices.

 

Downward facing dog or doggy-style–it’s all the same to Teala Smart, a whip-smart yoga instructor. She owns her studio like she owns her life–with focus, positive energy, and pure devotion. That devotion, however, does not trickle into her love life (or more accurately, her lust life.) Relationships are a roadblock to her success. They get in the way and tangle up emotions more than the lotus pose tangles up limbs. Men are best kept just for a night and then released into the wild before feelings get too messy.

 

HERO HAIR, the second novel of International Bestselling Author Rachel Robinson’s THE REAL SEAL SERIES, is the account of an life-altering journey detailing the awakening of two hollow hearts, both set on taking their own pleasures without any emotional attachment. The ruthless SEAL finally meets an enemy he can’t defeat, and both Macs and Teala find, against their wishes, and despite atrocious circumstances, a chemistry so explosive it leaves nothing but deconstructing love in its wake.

 

Excerpt

“Still want to have our third date?” he asks, pulling his t-shirt up to expose his abs. He bites the dark, cotton fabric, like men in fashion magazines do. With his abs flexed he poses so casual, so fucking drool-worthy, so over-the-top, and he gets away with it. He tosses the shirt onto the counter, with his tongue caught between his teeth.

 

I blow out a breath. It’s as hot as a Channing Tatum movie. More so, because I can actually touch this body–can do whatever I want with this body. “How am I supposed to say anything but yes when you don’t play fair? You’re over there with your goddamn abs and dimples and precision stripping skills.” I motion to his body.

 

“Babe, you played dirty first. Your mouth is like a fucking dirty poker game. One you’ll win every single time.”

 

I wrinkle my forehead. “Thanks I guess. Third date?” I ask, tilting my head to the side.

 

“Let’s go to my bedroom,” he says.

 

My Review:

This is the second book in the Real Seal Series but you don’t need to read Black and White Flowers first in order to understand it. The timelines of the two novels overlap, which is always interesting.

Teala (pronounced Tay-la) and Macs are two birds of a feather: they like their lives unencumbered. They know what they like, they aren’t afraid to go for it, and romantic relationships aren’t on the menu. Teala goes out on a date with one of the SEALs but she makes it clear she doesn’t do repeats, so the guy gives her number to Macs thinking they’ll be ideally suited. But Teala’s friends are determined to show her that there’s more to life than one night stands, and they dare her to go out on three dates with one man without hooking up. Poor Macs. He’d been told she was a sure thing and ends up disappointed, but willing to play the game. And–big shock–they find out they have a lot in common. Shame the biggest value they have in common is not going out on more than one date with the same person.

This is one of those stories I love, in which there’s laughter, tears and a lot of tension. It’s a lot of fun seeing these two learn how to go on dates without ending up in bed. They actually have to have conversations. Gasp! And the chemistry is off the charts. That’s not to say that there aren’t some terrible growing pains. But Rachel Robinson delivers a wonderful, believable, topical story. I’m eager for more books in this series. Five stars.

 

 

About the Author

 

Rachel grew up in a small, quiet town full of loud talkers. Her words were always only loud on paper. She has been writing stories and creating characters for as long as she can remember. After living on the west coast for many years she recently moved to Virginia Beach, VA.

 

 Stalk Rachel here:  Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Goodreads

 

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Cover Reveal: Two Wrongs by Donna Alam

 

Two Wrongs: A Second Chance Romance by Donna Alam

Trouble by Numbers, Book 2

Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance

Cover Design: Kellie Dennis – Book Cover By Design

Release Date: April 3, 2017

 

Synopsis

When Ivy Adams is summoned back to LA by her secret husband, it’s for the purpose of revenge, not a second chance. Estranged as long as they’ve been married, Ivy’s never told anyone she even has a husband, let alone he’s the Scots born movie star, Dylan Duffy.

Yeah, that Dylan Duffy. The sexy-as-sin bad-boy. The man whose rumbling accent has half the world’s panties damp.

But Ivy isn’t the only one keeping secrets, and screwing half of Hollywood hasn’t sated Dylan’s need for revenge. He’s hellbent on making Ivy pay for her mistakes in the most despicable way he can.

Two wrongs don’t make the pair even, but can they ever make their marriage right?

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Pre-Order Links

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One of Five ARCs of Two Wrongs by Donna Alam

 

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One Hot Scot: A Second Chance Romance by Donna Alam

Trouble by Numbers, Book 1

Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance

 

Synopsis

Fin Hayes has ninety-nine problems. Quite literally.

She’s lost her husband, her job, recently avoided jail time, and is back living in the place she’s always loathed . . . when problem #100 walks in.

Rory Tremaine is ripped, rich, and handsome, and a blast from the past who seems to have no recollection of Fin. But second time around that’s okay, because when she’s near his firm ass and tattoos, she’s using a fake name anyway.

At least she won’t be leaving her virginity behind this time. Instead, she might just risk losing her heart.

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Purchase Links

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About the Author

Donna writes about exotic locations and the men you aren’t married to, but might wish you were. Escapism reads with heart and humor and, of course, plenty of steam.

Hailing from the North of England, she’s a nomad at heart moving houses and continents more times than she cares to recall. A bit clueless rather than stateless, she once worked at a school like the one described in her Pretty Trilogy. Alas, there were no handsome millionaires hanging around there.

An eclectic reader and part-time perv, Donna’s a huge fan of smart men and enjoys her protagonists with a large measure of inappropriateness.

 

Connect with Donna

Website: http://donnaalam.com/

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Review: Going Up by Katherine Stevens

 

 

My Review:

Oh, man, I would love to spend some time hanging around inside Katherine Stevens’s brain. It’s gotta be crazy in there.

Maggie Foster walks to her own beat. And she’s been holding a torch for a guy named Finn for a very long time. So long, that her friend Cici thinks Finn is a figment of her imagination. But when Maggie meets Finn after a prolonged absence, sparks fly. Obviously, there really is someone for everybody.

This had me laughing like mad. I truly hope there are more volumes to come in this series. I suggest Cici and Maggie get pregnant at the same time. Nothing could be wilder than that. Five stars.

 

Title: Going Up
Series: The Elevator #2 (Standalone)
Author: Katherine Stevens
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Release Date: March 6, 2017
Blurb

Margaret Vincent Foster came into the world with two things: money and a rebellious streak. She can’t find the love of her life, so she fills the void by dating characters you would normally only find in the drunk tank on a full moon. She’s the girl your parents never thought to warn you about. She will steal your heart, and maybe a little bit of your soul.Maggie’s only goal is to not end up like her socialite parents and their friends. They want her to settle down and be comfortable, and all Maggie can think about is a boy in a Star Wars costume she met half a lifetime ago. Her prized velvet Elvis and celebrity hair clippings in tow, she drags everyone along as she carves her own path in the world. When others are going down, Maggie is going up.

Purchase Links

 

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Free in Kindle Unlimited

 

 

Author Bio

When Katherine Stevens isn’t writing, she can usually be found opening juice boxes and looking for lost shoes. Her kids keep her quite busy and always zig-zagging across the line of sanity. She is a lifelong Texan with a terrible sense of direction and even worse memory. She thinks life is entirely too hard if you don’t laugh your way through it.

As a child, she dreamed of being the most sarcastic astronaut in history, but her poor math skills and aversion to dehydrated food kept her out of the space program. Now she writes to pass the time until NASA lowers their standards. Your move, NASA. 

OTHER BOOKS BY KATHERINE STEVENS 

Felony Ever After: http://amzn.to/2ll1sR7 

Going Down (#1 The Elevator Series): http://amzn.to/2m2qKjT 
Getting Off (#1.5 in The Elevator Series): http://amzn.to/2mzqaNW

 

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Review: The Hold Trilogy by Arell Rivers

 

No One to Hold

by Arell Rivers
The Hold Series
Publication Date: December 16, 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | iBooks

Succumb to Cole Manchester—talented, witty, charming, sexy and oh-so flawed—a womanizing rock star whose shallow life is transformed when he experiences love for the first time.

From the outside, Cole Manchester seems to have it all: looks, fame, money, awards and women. When tragedy strikes, he realizes how hollow his life is, and opens the door to the one thing he’s never considered … finding love. He’s inexplicably drawn to the quiet wallflower who works on his team, a line he knows he shouldn’t cross.

After devastating heartbreaks, all Rose Morgan wants is to blend into the woodwork. Working at her dream job as a publicist, she’s safely hiding in plain sight. Until her client, the sexy Cole Manchester, notices her. Rose must ignore her desires in order to protect her bruised heart … and keep her prized career.

Cole needs Rose to teach him how to love. Rose needs Cole to teach her how to trust. Together, they form a bond ignited by passion but fueled by insecurities. When her mother’s interference collides with his fan’s twisted plot, Cole and Rose may find themselves with No One To Hold.

Hard to Hold (Book #2 in The Hold Series)
Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | iBooks

Cheer for Rose Morgan—strong, determined and driven—a brilliant publicist who thought she had finally overcome her tragic past when, once again, her life is turned upside down. Rose and Cole’s passionate love story continues in this second full-length novel in The Hold Series.

Distraught by news of Cole’s unexpected marriage, Rose Morgan tries to pick up the pieces of her life, only to be confronted by Cole at every turn. With her PR career in serious jeopardy, Rose can’t escape his orbit and is forced to continue working on his account. Under snowballing pressure, she seeks solace from unlikely sources.

Reeling from the disastrous fallout after his drunken night in Las Vegas, rock star Cole Manchester is a tormented man. He reaches out to Rose, the one woman who has always fixed his mistakes, only to realize that he might have pushed her away forever. Now, he’ll do whatever it takes to get her back.

Rose and Cole each must face their deepest fears if their love is to survive. But Cole’s stalker is becoming increasingly unhinged … and dangerous. In the end, Rose and Cole must decide if some things are just too Hard to Hold.

To Have and to Hold (Book #3 in The Hold Series)
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Rally around Cole Manchester and Rose Morgan: the rock star and his publicist are about to face their most perilous trials yet. Cole and Rose’s passionate love story culminates in this third full-length novel in The Hold Series.

Back in the spotlight for his world tour, Cole Manchester performs hit after hit before delighted fans. However, his heart remains firmly in Los Angeles with Rose, whose condition remains critical following their terrible car wreck.

After lying unconscious for weeks, Rose Morgan awakens to find herself professionally and personally adrift. Her scrambled memories have convinced her Cole is dangerous, compelling her to shut him out and face an uncertain future on her own.

With nothing left to lose, Cole’s crazed stalker executes her final desperate act. After an explosive finale, who will survive her deadly rampage?

Destinies will be altered. Intentions stripped bare. Rose and Cole must face all of their remaining demons if their love is to survive. In the trilogy’s thrilling conclusion, they’ll discover if they truly have each other forever To Have and To Hold.

My Review:

I was invited to blog the review for Book #1 of this trilogy, with the option to review the other two books. I loved the first book so much that I just couldn’t wait to read the sequels–the trilogy is complete and published–so I immediately bought the other two volumes. It took me about three days to read them all. I didn’t want to put them down.

Cole’s mother passes away and he has an epiphany: everything he’s earned is worthless if he has no one to share it with him. In times of trouble, everyone he knows evidently has a friend to lean on, but not him. He’s unwittingly isolated himself. He decides to find a woman with whom he can have a genuine connection. Somebody normal, outside the environment to which he’s accustomed. And he soon sets his eye on Rose. There are only two problems: she works for him and she has secrets. Oh, and she’s leery of committing to him. Not to mention that he has a stalker who’d like to see her dead.

Book #1: No One to Hold: 4 stars.

Book #2: Hard to Hold: 5 stars.

Book #3: To Have and to Hold: 5 stars.

About Arell Rivers

For as long as I can remember, I have been lost in a book. During my senior year in college, I picked up a Danielle Steel novel … and instantly was hooked on romance.

I started writing my first novel, No One to Hold, because the characters were screaming at me to do so. The story started coming out in my dreams and attacking me in the shower, so I took to the computer to shut them up. But they kept talking.

Born and raised in New Jersey, I have what some may call a “checkered past.” Prior to discovering my passion for writing romance, I practiced law, was a wedding and event planner and even dabbled in marketing. I live with a very supportive husband and two mischievous cats. When not in my writing cave, I can be found making dinner in the crock pot, working out with Shaun T or hitting the beach.

I hope you enjoy my stories about driven men, strong women and the passions that ignite!

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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Coming Soon: Mr Romance by Leisa Raven

 

Coming in April, 2017

from the Internationally best-selling author

of Bad Romeo

M I S T E R   R O M A N C E

Max Riley is the man of your dreams. Or at least he will be, for a price.

 

As his alter-ego Mister Romance, Max is a drop-dead gorgeous escort who makes romantic fantasies come to life. No sex, just swoon-worthy dates to die for, and the cream of New York’s socialites can’t get enough.  Whether they want a dominating billionaire, bad boy with a heart of gold, hot geek, sexy biker, or best friend who loves them from afar, Max can make it all happen, but he’s careful to keep his real identity a secret.

 

Enter investigative journalist Eden Tate. Having caught wind of the urban legend of Mister Romance from a lovestruck client, Eden is determined to publish a scathing expose on Max and his ability to swindle lonely society women out of their fortunes.

 

Desperate to protect his anonymity and his clients, Max challenges Eden to give him three dates. If she doesn’t fall in love with him, she can run her story with his blessing. If she succumbs to his charms, the story dies.

 

Cynical Eden has no doubt she can resist his fake romance personas, but when the real Max admits he’s falling for her, she has to decide if the professional liar is telling the truth, or if the passionate man with the mysterious past is just one more character designed to con her out of her career-making story.

 

Don’t miss this sizzling new standalone from Leisa Rayven! Coming April 30, 2017

Pre-Order Now!

Amazon US: https://goo.gl/h0YRdE

iBooks: https://goo.gl/xxaFdI

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Praise for Leisa’s Starcrossed series:

“Loved. Loved. Loved Bad Romeo and Broken Juliet. I now have a serious book hangover. Leisa Rayven – thank you for all the feels.”

 – E.L. James, #1 New York Times bestselling author of 50 Shades of Grey

 

“I’m in love with Leisa Rayven, and the rest of the world needs to be, too.”

–  Colleen Hoover, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Ugly Love

 

 

“Leisa Rayven crashes onto the romance scene: laughing, flirting, and just daring us to put Bad Romeo down. I couldn’t!”

– Christina Lauren, New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Bastard

 

 

“An unputdownable debut! Filled with delicious tension that will make your palms sweat, toes curl and heart race.”

– Alice Clayton, New York Times bestselling author of Wallbanger

 

 

“The perfect combination of hot and hilarious. Utterly dazzling!”

– Katy Evans, New York Times bestselling author of Real

 

 

“I gobbled this book up in one sitting. The emotions between the characters were superb. The new hottest book couple!”

– Jennifer Probst, New York Times bestselling author of The Marriage Bargain

 

“Rayven’s words have the ability the decimate my heart. Her raw and unyielding talent leaves me breathless.

– Glass Paper Ink Book Blog

 

“With the perfect balance of humor, steam, angst and impossible-to-put-down, Leisa Rayven is a gifted storyteller, and Wicked Heart is truly exceptional.”

– Natasha Is A Book Junkie.

 

This book is genuinely PERFECT. In my eyes it is 150% perfection. Actually, I’d even go so far as to say that this is the best book I’ve read this year!!

– Aestas Book Blog.

 

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Review: Jude by Kathy Coopmans

 

 

From USA Today Best-Selling Author comes the second book in a series of standalones in The Saint Series.

NOW AVAILABLE!!!

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2kfssfG

Amazon UK:  http://amzn.to/2jPDHiF

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Kobo: http://bit.ly/2jNtjY1

Add to your TBR: http://bit.ly/2j3fXWM

 

Blurb

Jude

 

I faked my way long enough by keeping my mouth shut, painting a fake smile on my face and focusing hard on my job.

I quit going out to find that random piece of ass.

Not a one of them would stand up to her anyway.

She hates me, loathes me even.

Little does Vivian Shepard know I’ve got more tricks up my sleeve than she will ever begin to imagine to get her to change her mind, to get my chance.

I’m not giving up.

I want her, and by God, I’ll fight as dirty as I can get to have her.

No matter what!

 

Vivian

Of course, I knew it was a one- night stand.

It’s was the perfect night before all hell broke loose to be quite honest.

Drinking, talking and flirting.

One I relished in as I tried to gravitate my mind back to solid ground after soaring so high I could feel the rush of flying.

My stomach dipped, my heart fluttered, and my toes curled inward and then I splattered to the hard surface of the ground.

Jude Westbrooke opened his big fat mouth.

He ruined it, ruined me, ruined it all.

“We need to talk.” I finally manage to pull away from her. My eyes are diverting from her mouth to her soaked t-shirt. “Fuck,” I snarl. Her pink nipples are standing out against the wet fabric, which is white and very thin. My gaze darkens the further south it goes, down to her tiny little pink and white shorts that are saturated. Rivulets of water are dripping down her long, toned legs, dripping off her silky skin to mix with the giant puddle on the floor.

“You look absolutely beautiful, Red.”

“What in the hell are you doing here, Jude? It’s a monsoon out there. And what gives you the right to barge into my house and attack me like that, anyway? Have you lost your mind?” She shoves me back a step and climbs off the counter, nearly falling on her ass in the process. Slippery when wet, baby! The spell is broken.

“I didn’t lose my mind. You fucking stole it. I can’t stop thinking about you, and no matter what you try and say, I know damn well you don’t want me to. So we are talking, goddamn it!” I yell.

“Well, that sure didn’t sound like talking to me. And take your mind back. I don’t want it.” Liar.

“No, darling, it wasn’t talking. What that was, was several months of pent-up frustration over wanting more of what you gave me the night we met. What that was, was me telling you that I’m not a man who walks away from something he knows is rare. You want to give me my mind back, then let me give you something more to stew about in that pretty head of yours. You are so full of shit if you think for one second I’m buying the piss-ass excuse that you don’t want me. And before your head gets all rattled and you start spewing more of your shit, I’m not talking about sex, Vivian. I’m talking about you. The woman I know is in there, but is too fucking stubborn to let the best side of her out. I want that woman. The woman I met before I fucked shit up. The woman I want to ask out on a date. So, you know what? I’m here to tell you that once you decide to let that woman emerge, you give me a call.”

I turn to leave and grab the door handle. I’m so fucking mad she isn’t trying to stop me like she should that I could spit nails into this door. Hammer this goddamn thing shut.

“I’m telling you right the hell now, Vivian, that if you don’t call me, then you are wasting what I know for a goddamn fact would be the greatest gift given to me, which is you.”

My Review:

This book wasn’t what I expected–in a good way.

I was expecting the usual macho guy with an attitude. But Jude Westbrooke is so much more than muscle. He’s a total sweetheart and one of my all time favourite Alpha male leads. Plus, I love his dog.

Once, Jude made a mistake with a girl named Vivian that cost him dearly. He’ll do anything to fix it and get her back. Unfortunately, somebody doesn’t want that to happen. At all.

This book is full of twists and I couldn’t put it down. I haven’t read Riddick but I’m going to have to remedy that. Five stars.

About the Author:

Kathy Coopmans

USA TODAY Best Selling Author Kathy Coopmans, lives in Michigan with her husband Tony where they have two grown sons.

After raising her children she decided to publish her first book and retiring from being a hairstylist.

She now writes full time.

She’s a huge sports fan with her favorite being Football and Tennis.

She’s a giver and will do anything she can to help another person succeed!

Stalk Her: Facebook | Twitter | Website |  Goodreads | Newsletter signup | Follow on Amazon

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