Monday, June 30, 2014

The Wager by Rachel Van Dyken Pre-Launch Biltz & Giveaway!

I just finished The Bet by Rachel Van Dyken last week, so I am thrilled that we are part of the pre-Launch Blitz for Book 2 in the series, The Wager.  If you are looking for an entertaining New Adult read, look no further.  Don't forget to enter the giveaway below!

THE WAGER by Rachel Van Dyken (July 1, 2014; Forever Trade Paperback; $12.00)
Lose a bet, lose your heart...

What is it about a junior-high crush that can send an otherwise intelligent woman into a tailspin? TV reporter Char Lynn wishes she knew. Jake Titus is too rich, too handsome, too arrogant: a trifecta that once lured Char into the best night-and worst morning-after-of her life. Now they've been thrown together in a wedding party. It's awkward, but survivable . . . until Jake stops acting like a jerk, and starts acting like the man she'd always hoped he could be.
If watching your brother marry your best friend is weird, being attracted to your best friend's otherbest friend is downright bizarre. Unfortunately for Jake, Char hasn't forgotten how he once tossed her aside. Worse still, Jake's already-nutty grandma is even crazier about Char. Cue meet-cute shenanigans and all manner of meddling, and somehow, Jake's falling. For Char. Now all he has to do is make her believe it . . .

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About the author:
Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she's not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor. She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband and their snoring Boxer, Sir Winston Churchill. She loves to hear from readers! You can follow her writing journey at

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“Jake!” Grandma peered around the mannequin and yelled. “Help her out of that dress! We have a wedding emergency! Hurry!”

“Right.” Jake released Char’s hand and shook his head as he took a step away. “Wouldn’t be the first time I’ve helped you out of your clothes, huh, Char?”

And special moment gone.

Ignoring the burning sensation on her face, Char walked into the dressing room and pulled the curtain.

“Don’t you need help?” came Jake’s voice.

“I think I know how to undress myself, Jake.”

“Yes.” His warm chuckle made Char want to smack him. Shivering, she reached for the zipper. “But when I do it, it’s unforgettable. That’s all I’m saying.”
Fine. She’d had enough. Refusing to let him think she was afraid of him touching her, she took his challenge. With a huff Char pulled open the curtain. 

“Prove it.”

His eyes widened and then a wicked smile curved his lips. “My pleasure.”

The way the man said “pleasure” did really unfortunate things to Char’s body, things that made her re-think her rash decision.

“Where’s the zipper?”

“Aww… can’t find it? That happen to you often, Jake? Can’t find the zipper, where does my equipment go…”

“Oh that, I never have problems with. You should know.”

Her eyes narrowed into slits as she watched him close the curtain and then do a turning motion with his finger.

She turned around and faced the mirror. Jake placed his hands on her shoulders then ran them down both of her arms. She would not shiver, she would not react!

He placed his hands on her hips, then unzipped the dress. Slowly he ran his hands back up the sides of her body, all the way until he hit just below her breasts. Her breath hitched as he winked at her in the mirror, bypassing her breasts and finding the fastener behind her neck.

Char chewed on her lower lip as she watched him delicately undo the fastener and then held the dress to her body so it wouldn’t fall.

“You have beautiful hair.” He ran a few pieces through his fingers and sighed, locking eyes with her in the mirror.

He wasn’t smiling. Was he seriously paying her a compliment? To her face? Or her reflection?

“I, uhh—”

“It’s just a compliment, Char. Not a proposal.”

She blushed profusely. “Thank you.”

The way he looked at her made her feel naked. And now she remembered why things had gone haywire in the first place. She never knew which Jake she was talking to. The one who had been her friend when she was little, or the millionaire playboy who had no soul.

Char doubted he even knew which one he was. She just needed to make sure she remembered, lest she end up with a broken heart again.

“Everyone decent?” Grandma called from the other side of the curtain.

Jake stepped back and winked. “Unfortunately.”

Char felt her face heat.

“Damn,” Grandma called. “You’ve lost your touch, son.”

“Don’t I know it.” He licked his lips and nodded one last time at Char before stepping on the other side of the curtain. a Rafflecopter giveaway

A Peek In The BiblioBin #105

Welcome to our Stacking the Shelves post! Stacking the Shelves (or as we like to call it, A Peek in the BiblioBin) has been created by the lovely ladies at Tynga's Reviews.

Stacking the Shelves is a way for bloggers to share what books they have won, received for review, bought from the bookstore, borrowed from the library or friend, etc.

For Review:

Eternal Night by Carina Adly MacKenzie via NetGalley


Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble (Jolie Wilkins #1) by H.P. Mallory 

Friday, June 27, 2014

UNLEASHED Cover Reveal and Teaser

You know how much I love Sophie Jordan over here. Uninvited, which was released earlier back in January, surprised me because it was so different from what from what I've read from her in the past. So we're super excited to unveil the cover for the sequel, Unleashed!

What if the worst thing you ever did was unforgivable?

Davy’s world fell apart after she tested positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome. She was expelled from her school, dumped by her boyfriend, abandoned by friends, and shipped off to a camp that turns HTS carriers into soldiers. Davy may have escaped, but the damage has already been done. The unthinkable has happened. Now, even worse than having everyone else see her as a monster is the knowledge that they may have been right about her all along. Because Davy has killed.

On the run from government agents, Davy is rescued by Caden, the charismatic leader of an underground group of rebels. Despite Caden’s assurances that the Resistance is made up of carriers like her, Davy isn’t sure she can trust them. Then again, she doesn’t even know if she can trust herself . . . or her growing feelings for Caden. But if she doesn’t belong with Caden and his followers, is there anywhere she can call home?

Now let's add to the anticipation with this mini teaser!

I thought being labeled a killer and losing everything—my future, family, boyfriend, friends—was the worst thing that could ever happen to me. It’s not. Finding out they were right. Finding out that’s exactly what I am?  
That’s worse.

Oh. My. God. I CANNOT wait to see what happens next! Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned for more!

~ Bel

A Whisper In Time (Whisper Falls #2) by Elizabeth Langston

* * *

I have never been useless in my life.

Rescued from a life of servitude by the boy she loves, Susanna Marsh escapes across two centuries, only to be plunged into a world she's ill-prepared to face. Unable to work or go to school, Susanna finds herself dependent on others to survive.

Immersed in the fun and demands of his senior year of high school, Mark Lewis longs to share his world with the girl who's captured his heart. But first he must tackle government bureaucracy to prove Susanna's identity.

Overwhelmed by her new home, Susanna seeks refuge in history and in news of the people she left behind. But when she learns that danger stalks her sister, Susanna must weigh whether to risk her own future in order to save Phoebe's happiness.

If you were ever under the impression that time travel would go swimmingly and that you’d easily fit into whenever you end up, A Whisper In Time would be the reality dose you need.  It’s just as charming as its predecessor, Whisper Falls, this time focusing on how Mark and Susanna are going to set about their respective futures.

After escaping eighteenth century North Carolina, Susanna spends weeks recuperating from her illness and injuries she sustained at the hands of her previous master. Once her health is back again she must learn to adjust to a whole new world. Talk about culture shock! It’s not just things that are new that she has to get used to but also a far more progressive mentality. Some things come easily to her while others are harder for her to acclimate to.

What stands out in this is Susanna’s loss of identity in two ways. In her century, she knew her place and her purpose regardless of the awful circumstances she was in. In this century, she feels useless and isolated to an extent.  Having to make her way by leaving her past behind is frightening but has no choice – there’s no way she can return to what she escaped from. Her identity problem is also hampered by the fact that in order to stay and be a fully functional citizen in this century, she has to be able to pursue an education and get a job. To do both, she has to prove who she is. Obtaining an identity for her is a huge priority here. While Susanna is puzzled and exacerbated by this century’s obsession with identity, Mark is determined to do whatever it takes to get her one.  

Langston effectively captures how Susanna's presence in the current century impacts her and Mark. Susanna’s sense of directionless and Mark’s dilemma with wanting to be with her but also wanting to enjoy his senior year of high school and prepare for college. Mark at one point even refers to their relationship as “long distance” which is quite spot on as they do tend to have a few communication problems. He's constantly torn between trying to include her but also protecting her from scrutiny. Her secrets are hers to tell and he doesn't want to have to explain to others why Susanna is the way she is. 

Susanna’s need to keep up with her family’s welfare take on urgency as the story progresses. She’s desperate to know that she’s made the right decision for her sister Phoebe. In order to do so, she takes certain risks that alter history. Even as she weighs the consequences, her loyalty and stubbornness can’t deter her from protecting the ones she loves. She's admirable that way. She doesn't apologize for her decisions and forthright about her intentions most of the time.

I’ve said it before about this series – if you fancy history and adventure, sprinkled with romance, A Whisper In Time will suit you just fine. The back and forth through past and present North Carolina highlighting the changes and progress are fascinating. And experiencing some of these changes through Susanna’s eyes will only wow you. In the end, it's also about how two people from two drastically different backgrounds, who fall in love and try to make things work.

~ Bel

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Through to You* by Lauren Barnholdt

Through to You* * * 1/2

Opposites attract—and then complicate—in this romantic, relatable novel from the author of Two-way Street and Sometimes It Happens.

It starts with a scribbled note in class: I like your sparkle. Harper had casually threaded a piece of blue and silver tinsel through her ponytail in honor of school spirit day. And that carefree, corny gesture is what grabs Penn Mattingly’s eye. Penn—resident heartbreaker of the senior class. Reliably unreliable. Trouble with a capital “T.” And okay, smolderingly sexy.

Harper’s surprised by Penn’s attention—and so is Penn. The last thing he needs is a girlfriend. Or even a friend-with-benefits. The note is not supposed to lead to anything.

Oh, but it does. They hang out. They have fun. They talk. They make out. And after a while, it seems like they just click. But Penn and Harper have very different ideas about what relationships look like, in no small part because of their very different family backgrounds. Of course they could talk about these differences—if Penn knew how to talk about feelings.

Harper and Penn understand their attraction is illogical, yet something keeps pulling them together. It’s like a crazy roller coaster—exhilarating, terrifying, and amazing all at once. And neither knows how to stop the ride…


I was sold on reading this book when I read, “I like your sparkle.”  A pick up line like that is right up my alley.  But as cute as that line might seem in the blurb, the reality is even more interesting.  Because Penn has never once looked at Harper and thought, “Hey, she’s cute.  I should ask her out.”  In fact, he’s never really looked at her at all.  But for some reason, on that particular day, Harper’s grudging show of school spirit catches Penn’s eye.  And before he allows himself to really think about it, he finds himself dropping a note on her desk.  Even after giving it to her, he has no intention on furthering their communication.  But Penn finds out quickly that he has a bit of weak spot for one Harper Fairbanks.

Harper is not used to guys paying attention to her.  Especially not hot scruffy former athletes like Penn Mattingly.  She finds herself distrusting the attention while at the same time wondering if it means anything.  History class isn’t even done and Harper finds herself cutting school and going for a drive with Penn.  What follows is a reluctant, intense and often dysfunctional romance.

Thanks to a dysfunctional home life and the loss of the one thing that grounded him (baseball), Penn is a very angry person.  He is an angry teenage boy that refuses to communicate with anyone; including his girlfriend.  Anytime something sets him off, he shuts down and just walks away.  And I mean literally walk away.  In more than one scene Penn walks away and leaves Harper where she is standing.  He becomes so internally lost in his anger that he completely forgets he’s with someone.

Although timid, Harper is a strong character that knows her own worth and is only willing to put up with so much.  She tends to overanalyze and insists on talking through everything.  A trait that, although annoying, could be quite beneficial to someone like Penn.  His continuous refusal to communicate with her or anyone else will likely be the thing that kills their relationship.  But the fact that they even have a relationship might also be the one thing that can save Penn.

This is not a gradual love story where the hero and heroine flirt back and forth until it ends in a beautiful happy ever after.  This is a love story with a lot of give and take.  An on again, off again relationship that will have you turning page after page in hopes of finding that these two people can finally make it all work.


*Through to You releases on July 8, 2014. Thank you to Edelweiss and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to review this title.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (109)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that highlights future releases that we are excitedly anticipating.

London FallingBy Chanel Cleeton
Publication Date:  July 7, 2014

We weren't a relationship, we were a ticking time bomb... 

Maggie Carpenter walked away from the hottest encounter of her life when she left the seductive glitz of England for summer break in her South Carolina hometown. Now that she’s returned to the International School in London—and sexy, privileged Samir Khouri is once again close enough to touch—she can’t help but remember the attraction, the drama … the heartbreak.

She can’t help but want him even more.

Samir can’t afford to fall for someone so far removed from his world, not when his time in London is running out. It's his senior year—his last chance at freedom before he returns home to Lebanon. There, he’ll be expected to follow in his father’s footsteps—not follow his heart to Maggie. But when a scorching secret hookup becomes a temptation neither can resist, they’ll both have to fight to survive the consequences … and find a future together.

Don’t miss this explosive sequel to I See London, and the riveting conclusion to Maggie and Samir’s story. This is a New Adult romance recommended for readers 17 and up.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Masquerade by Nyrae Dawn Launch Day Blitz

After his father is put in prison for murder leaving his mother suicidal, Maddox Cross has always put his sister, Laney, first.  Now living in Brenton, Virginia, Maddox has no idea what to do with his life, especially since Laney no longer needs him.  One thing he does know is for the first time since losing football, he's found something else that's just for him--tattooing.  When he meets a feisty young woman in the club where he works security, he has no idea that she has the ability to change his life forever.

Bee Malone has just moved to Brenton to open up her first tattoo parlor, Masquerade.  Despite her young success, nothing is ever as it seems. After being kidnapped at a young age, Bee has difficulty being the daughter her parents lost and letting go of the "parents" she was raised with.  When she meets Maddox, she's immediately attracted to him and what starts out as a one night stand leaves Bee wanting to connect with him in more ways than one.

Once Maddox finds out about Masquerade, he wants nothing more than to join Bee.  But letting him in means trying to figure out who she is and she's not ready for that.  And yet, as the two get closer, they find themselves leaning on each other more than they are comfortable with.  Will their stubborn nature tear them apart?  Or push them closer together? 

About Nyrae Dawn
Writing has always been Nyrae Dawn's passion. Nyrae gravitates toward character-driven stories. She loves going on emotional journeys with characters whether it be reading or writing. And yes, she's a total romantic at heart and proud.

Nyrae resides in sunny Southern California with her husband (who still makes her swoon) and her two awesome kids.

When she's not with her family, you can be pretty sure you'll find her with a book in her hand or her laptop and an open document in front of her. Nyrae also writes adult romance under the name Kelley Vitollo.


What gives me an ache in my chest is the fact that she has what I want. I haven’t cared enough about anything to feel jealous in a long-ass time, but that’s exactly what comes to mind when I look at her.
            “You coming to the party?” I ask her.
            “I’m here to see you.”
            She doesn’t give me a chance to reply as she pushes her way around me and inside. What I would give to kick her out of this room just because I can, but since I don’t really know if she’s giving me shit or if she came for the party, I hold back. It’s not like Trevor to let someone in here for no reason.
            Right on her heels, I follow her until she rounds the corner and pulls to a stop once she can see inside. Not having enough time to go around her, my body lines right up against hers, Bee’s nice little ass tucked right against me. On reflex I reach out, my hand grabbing her slender waist to make sure she doesn’t stumble forward. Damn it if that doesn’t bring up all sorts of thoughts about how it felt to strip her naked and touch her everywhere.
            “You have your hands on me.” There’s a sexy huskiness in her voice that tells me she’s turned on too. It should make me rip my hand away from her as fast as I can, but I’m so pissed at her about Masquerade that I can’t stop myself from being a dick.
            “If I remember correctly, you liked the feel of my hands on you. You were very enthusiastic about how much you liked it.”

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Undeniable by Shannon Richard Launch Day Blitz

Grace King knows two things for certain: she loves working at her grandmother's café and she loves the hunky town sheriff. She always has. As she bakes him sweet treats, Grace fantasizes about helping him work up an appetite all night long. But whenever she thinks she's finally getting somewhere, he whips out some excuse to escape. Growing up, he never looked twice at her. Now Grace won't rest until she has Jax's undivided attention. Jaxson Anderson can't deny that his best friend's kid sister is the sexiest woman in Mirabelle, Florida. Unwilling to burden Grace with his painful past, Jax keeps the sassy blonde at arm's length. Yet one heated kiss crumbles all of his carefully built defenses. But when a town secret surfaces, threatening to destroy everything they have believed in, can the man who defended Grace from bullies as a child protect her now?

About Shannon Richard:
Shannon Richard grew up in the Panhandle of Florida as the baby sister of two overly protective, but loving brothers. She was raised by a somewhat eccentric mother who showed her how to get lost in a book, and a father who passed on his love for coffee and really loud music. She graduated from Florida State University with a Bachelor's in English Literature, and lives in Tallahassee. She's still waiting for her Southern, scruffy, Mr. Darcy and in the meantime writes love stories to indulge her overactive imagination.

Shannon’s SM:

Buy links:
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Grace threw the bag down onto the counter and looked up at him. “Are you honestly going to stand there and tell me that this clueless persona you have going on is the real deal? Are you honestly going to tell me that you have no idea?”

“No idea about what?”

“You want to know why I got upset last night?” Grace asked, marching over to him. “Why it infuriates me that you treat me like a little sister?” she shouted, shoving his chest hard. He was surprised by it and he fell a step backward. “I don’t have sisterly feelings for you, Jaxson; I don’t and I never will. But you’re too blind and stubborn to see what’s standing right in front of you!”

It was then Jax did the most impulsive thing he’d ever done in his life. He knew exactly where the impulse came from; he’d had the desire for years. He just wasn’t sure how the overwhelming need overran all of his sense. He grabbed Grace before he even realized what he was doing. He gripped her elbows and brought her body flush up against his. His mouth came down hard on hers. She inhaled, startled, and Jax took full advantage of the tiny opening of her mouth, dipping his tongue in and finding hers.

Holy shit.

Never in his life had Jax kissed a girl and felt like his whole body was on fire, burning from the inside out. This was incredible, like nothing he’d ever known. 
She was warm, and sweet, and soft. How could the inside of someone’s mouth feel this way? Taste this good?

Grace sighed in pleasure as her body relaxed against his. Her arms wound around his neck. He wrapped his hands around her waist as he walked her backward. When her back hit the counter he put his hands on her bottom and pulled her up to sit on top of it, their mouths never breaking.

Holy shit, his hands were on Grace’s ass. Her perfect, incredible ass.

Her shoes hit the floor a second before she pulled her legs around him, her bare feet running up the back of his thighs. Her hands were on his chest, as one of his pulled out the tie in her hair so that he could run his fingers through it. She grabbed on to his side, and her hands slid around and lowered until they were on his butt. She squeezed and he thought he was going to go off, right then and there.

He pulled away from her mouth, letting his lips travel down the slope of her neck. How many times had he fantasized about this? About feeling her soft skin underneath his lips? God he loved her neck, the soft delicate space at the hollow of her throat.

“Jax.” She said his name with so much need that he abandoned his exploration of her neck.

He palmed the back of her head in one of his hands as he slanted his mouth over hers. Grace moaned when their tongues found each other again. The sound of it rumbled in Jax’s chest and settled low in his abdomen.

Jax wasn’t sure how long they stayed like that, wrapped around each other in more ways than one, before a crackling noise filled the kitchen. Mary Landers’s voice squawked through the speaker attached to Jax’s shirt.

“Seventeen, what’s your location?”

Jax pulled back from Grace, both of them breathing hard. Grace’s hair was everywhere, courtesy of his hands. She opened her eyes slowly, as if she was delaying coming back to reality, but Jax slammed into it hard.

What the hell had he just done?
Grace was having an out of body experience. Or at least that was what it felt like.

Jax had kissed her.

God, his mouth had been on hers, his hands everywhere, her hands everywhere. Grace’s hands had been on Jaxson Anderson’s ass. And it was just as spectacular as she’d imagined.

But as Grace brought herself back down to earth, she registered the look on Jax’s face and her eyes snapped open as everything inside of her crashed.

He did not look happy.

“Jax?” Grace asked, searching his face for something, anything besides the regret that shone plan as day in his eyes.

He didn’t answer, just disentangled himself from her as he took a step back. There was no warmth in his eyes as he pushed the button on the microphone on his shoulder. “Seventeen, on Sandy Beach Drive.”

“Seventeen, shoplifter at Forty-Nine Brooks Avenue. Deputy needed on location.”


“Jax,” Grace said, sliding off the counter and taking a step toward him.

“I have to go,” he said, taking another step back from her.

“You’re not even going to say anything about what just happened?” she asked, trying to keep calm.

His mouth tightened before he shook his head. “It was a mistake. It shouldn’t have happened.”

Grace inhaled sharply, pulling back from him like he’d just hit her. And really he had, because those words were a slap in the face.

I’m not going to cry. Not in front of him.

So Grace did the only thing she could do, she walked away from him.

She stepped around him and pushed through the door out into the café. She closed her eyes as she leaned against the wall and tried to breathe past the tightness in her chest.

It was a mistake.

She reached up and grabbed her throat. The wall behind Grace shuddered slightly as the side door in the kitchen closed. He was gone and he didn’t want her. She slid down the wall and pressed her face into her bent knees.

It shouldn’t have happened.

God it hurt. It hurt so damn much.

Grace gave up trying to fight it and let the pain wash through her. She wasn’t sure how long she sat on the floor hugging her bent knees. She kept reliving what had happened in the kitchen.

He’d grabbed her. He’d kissed her. Not the other way around. But he’d also decided that it had been a mistake.

Grace was done. She was done waiting for a man who didn’t want her. She was done living with this constant ache. She refused to let him break her. She wasn’t going to let that man affect her anymore.

Grace wiped the remaining tears from under her eyes and pulled herself up onto her feet. She took a deep breath before she pushed through the door and walked back into the kitchen. Jax’s cup of coffee was still sitting on the counter, so was his bag of scones. Grace stared at them for a second before she grabbed both of them. She threw them into the trash can with so much force that the coffee exploded up and around the sides.

Okay, starting now she wasn’t going to let him affect her anymore.

Sweet Revenge by Rebecca Zannetti Launch Day Blitz

Lots of release day activity today at BiblioJunkies!  Looking for some smouldering suspense?  Look no further than Sweet Revenge by Rebecca Zanett!  Check out the info below and don't forget to enter the giveaway!

SWEET REVENGE by Rebecca Zanetti (June 24, 2014; Forever Mass Market: $8.00)
The One Man She Can't Have
Matt Dean was born to fight . . . and kill. A member of a secret black-ops military unit, he and his brothers were genetically engineered by the government to be the perfect soldiers with an expiration date. Now, with time running out, he's gone rogue in a relentless quest for the one person who can save them. His mission leads him to Charmed, Idaho . . . and to a beautiful woman with eyes like emeralds and a body made for pleasure.

The One Woman He Can't Resist
Laney Jacobs knows the mysterious, handsome stranger is trouble from the moment he walks into her bar, looking for a job. She's spent years running from her own past-the last thing she needs is a romantic entanglement. But Matt's strong arms offer her protection and his gentle touch promises passion unlike anything she's ever known. As lethal forces surround them, revealing explosive secrets about Matt's past and putting everything-and everyone-he holds dear in danger, can he save them all before time runs out?

Buy Links:

About the author:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Rebecca Zanetti has worked as an art curator, Senate aide, lawyer, college professor, and a hearing examiner - only to culminate it all in stories about Alpha males and the women who claim them. She is a member of RWA, has won awards for her works throughout the industry, and has a journalism degree with a poly sci emphasis from Pepperdine University as well as a Juris Doctorate from the University of Idaho. 

Growing up amid the glorious backdrops and winter wonderlands of the Pacific Northwest has given Rebecca fantastic scenery and adventures to weave into her stories. She resides in the wild north with her husband, children, and extended family who inspire her every day-or at the very least give her plenty of characters to write about.

Social Media Links:


Life would be easier if Matt could view the petite bar owner like a family member or even an employer, but as he watched her deliver another pitcher of tea to the women gathered around the table, he realized that was impossible. She laughed at something one of the women said, and his cock hardened. Again.
The woman had spunk, intelligence, and a heart-shaped ass. Of course he wanted her naked and sweating beneath him. That confused as much as irritated him. She was the exact opposite of what he usually looked for in a woman. Temporary, tough, and unemotional worked best, and the idea of being with someone soft and kind scared the shit out of him.
Laney was right to keep him at a distance.
The new phone he’d purchased early that morning buzzed, and he glanced down at his first text message of the day. Nate had texted that he was safe and would check in later. Relief relaxed Matt’s shoulders upon reading that his brother was all right. The guy hadn’t been out on a mission for years, and Matt had been worrying about him. Maybe Nate would finally heal from falling in love and being betrayed.
If anybody could throw a dose of cold water on Matt’s desire to pursue Laney, it’d be hard-assed Nate. He perceived only black and white, danger and safety. There was no safety in seducing Laney… for anybody. She wasn’t the woman Matt needed to find in Charmed.
Plus, as much as the idea turned Matt’s stomach, if he had to seduce the elusive Dr. Peters to secure her help, to save his brothers, he’d do it.
Of course, the family practitioner was the one woman who wasn’t sitting around the table. He’d paid special attention to the coroner and the veterinarian’s assistant, and the vet’s assistant was currently checking him out behind wire-rimmed glasses. Bright eyes showed intelligence and an interesting wariness. He shot her a smile.
Her cheeks pinkened, and she half turned to talk to the woman on her right.
Laney, sitting across from the vet, instantly shot a look his way, delicate eyebrow arched. He met her stare evenly, pleased when her high cheekbones filled with color. The fact that she kept his gaze with challenge in her eyes, even while blushing, pleased him even more. The polite thing to do would be to grant her a reprieve and look away.
Too bad he wasn’t a polite guy.
Laney should learn not to challenge him.
Her chair scraped back, and she muttered something to her friends and then calmly maneuvered around tables toward him, hips swaying… keeping his gaze the entire time. His shoulders went back, and his blood started to hum. Who was this woman so full of surprises?
She reached him, her eyes sparking in irritation. “Would you please stop turning the most successful businesswomen in town into simpering morons?” she whispered.
He blinked. Damn it. He focused down a foot at her irritated face. “What in the world are you talking about?”
Her body remained relaxed, but he could hear her heart thumping, and her expression was quickly transforming into anger. She kept her face angled away from the women at the table. “Stop smiling, stop flirting, and do your job.”
He lowered his face just enough to make her eyes widen. “You sound jealous.”
Ah. There was the fury. “I’m not, you jackass. Keep the charm in your pants, and stop flirting.”
Okay. He may have poured on the charm with the two women he needed to investigate, but he’d been trained in subtlety and covert action. “Why are you suddenly interested in what’s in my pants?”
Laney’s gasp heated him in all sorts of places. “If I have to tell you again to knock it off, you’re fired.”
The little spitfire had better be careful who she threatened. “So you want me unavailable to those women?”
Satisfaction filled her pretty face. “Exactly.”
“Okay.” He grasped her hip and covered her mouth with his. The kiss was hard, quick, and enough of a taste to make him crave more. He lifted away to gauge the shock on her face. “There. Now they think I’m taken.”
The air vibrated as her hand closed into a fist, and he shook his head. “You don’t want to hit me.”
“Why not?” she ground out.
For the first time, he let his mask slip so she could see the predator the government had created. “The second you make contact, I’ll have you on that bar, held tight, my cock pressed between your legs, my lips on yours until you beg for more. Even fully clothed, I may make you come—and I won’t care who’s watching.”
Her sexy mouth dropped open. Surprise and fury lit her eyes… along with desire. She tried to mask it, but he was an expert at reading people, and the woman was intrigued. “You egomaniac. I’m not remotely interested,” she whispered.
Surprising anger shot through him. “You want to threaten me? That’s fine. Challenge me? No problem.” He stepped even closer and into her space. “But don’t you ever lie to me. Ever, Laney.”
She pressed her hands against her hips, confusion blanketing her features. “We just met.”
The woman was correct. He had no right to demand a damn thing from her. For all she knew, he was a bad guy. But this once and with this woman, against all rational training and thought, he truly didn’t give a shit. He didn’t understand it, sure as hell couldn’t explain it. So he went with his gut. “Yeah, we did just meet. Those are the ground rules. Period.” He lowered his chin and waited for her to challenge him, anticipation lighting his veins. a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Mean Girl Apologies by Stephanie Monahan

* * * 1/2

You know that catchy song you keep hearing on the radio? It’s about you.

Natalie Jamison has spent five years trying to forget the girl she was in high school: popular, pretty…and, okay, mean. Now in her twenties and living once again in her small town, she’s right back where she was: following Queen Bee Amber and keeping secrets from her best friend, Sarah.

Secrets like Jack Moreland.

Everyone knows Jack Moreland—his new album, Good Enough, is everywhere. He’s famous. Impossibly handsome. Completely untouchable. But what none of Natalie’s old clique knows is that in high school, Natalie and Jack fell in love. And their secret relationship was incredible, painful—and earth-shattering enough to inspire an entire album.

Facing friends and enemies isn’t easy, but Natalie will go to great lengths to prove she is good enough—to her friends, to herself, and most of all, to the small-town boy turned worldwide heartthrob she never forgot.

This book surprised me because I wasn’t expecting for it to be so personally introspective. There were many times while reading, I felt myself transported back to school days reminiscing both the good and bad that were mentioned here.

Natalie at first comes off as a bit of an acolyte, eager to please and gain approval from her "friend" Amber. It’s off-putting considering she’s been away from her small town for the last five years and only recently returned. Falling into step with her old group of friends is not exactly where she pictured she’d end up after all this time. So she’s dismayed to fall into old habits – ones she'd thought she’d shaken off. The redeeming thing here is that she realizes what's happening. Hearing Jack’s song on the radio is what wakes her up. She knows what the song is about, knows it’s directed at her and now it forces her to reassess her life and decisions.

Coming face-to-face with her former love is uncomfortable. Things ended badly between them so she doesn’t know how Jack will react to seeing her. When they do it’s every bit as uncomfortable as she expected. There’s also a sense of familiarity and sadness that what they had between them which was so pure, ended. He IS the one that got away. Her fear of what her friends thought at that time in her life trumped her feelings of what she knew was right. She's not sure if she can fix things between her and Jack but the meeting is a catalyst for personal change.

Natalie goes through her mental list of people she has wronged from high school and embarks on addressing those transgressions in order to move on. It’s not easy but she does it and what she learns from these encounters is only making her a better person. I was just amazed by her. I thought what she did was brave and showed maturity. So while there’s certainly romance and lost love involved, the real story here is Natalie’s own emancipation from the clutches of her old group of friends to declare the kind of person she wants to be.

As you read this, I dare you not to think of your own history to see if you’ve either been a victim or the perpetrator of some of the offenses that Natalie confesses to.  Would you be as brave as Natalie to face the people you’ve wronged? Or would you be forgiving to accept that person’s apologies for hurting you? The Mean Girl Apologies is truly about growing up, learning what true friendship is and and becoming a better kind of person. It's also about telling the bully to suck it!

~ Bel