Friday, July 14, 2017

Hello Forever (Hello Goodbye #2) by Sarina Bowen

* * * *


When they were only teenagers, Axel and Caxton were caught making out in the woods at church camp. And afterward, Cax had disappeared from all the youth group activities.

Six years later, Axel is astonished to spot his first love’s face in the crowd of a college basketball game he’s watching on TV—at a school which has just offered him a job. It’s a thousand miles away, in a tiny rural town. But suddenly, he can’t wait to get there.

Cax can’t believe his eyes when Axel appears in the same Massachusetts town where he now lives. And he’s still just as drawn to Axel as ever. But he can’t let himself go there again, because loving Axel will mean giving up everything else he holds dear.

Both men have so much to lose. But as far as their love is concerned, it's Hello Forever.

Hello Forever is a stand-alone novel with no cliffhangers. Readers of Goodbye Paradise will get to check in on Caleb and Josh and their clan.

Source: advance e-galley provided in exchange for an honest review

Second-chance romances are always a cure for a glum mood which is why I was so happy to crack this one open. (Or is it swipe it open since it's an ebook?) 

Axel and Cax get a chance to become reacquainted again when Axel relocates to the same small town of Henning that Cax now lives in. Axel has moved here for a job though truth be told, also for Cax. When they were teenagers at a church camp they had acted upon their mutual crush. Sadly, they were caught and separated immediately with Axel not hearing from or seeing Cax ever again. He's never forgotten him so when he saw Cax on tv at the college basketball game, he felt that this was the sign he needed to accept the position at Barmuth University. Cax never thought he'd see his first and only love again but their reunion brings a mixed bag of emotions. He's thrilled to have him near but also fearful. Cax has kept his sexuality a secret from everyone and has never come out of the closet. He's never even said it aloud to himself. His strained relations with his father is what is holding him back for fear that his dad would make trouble for him where his family is concerned. As tempted as he is to act upon his feelings for Axel he has to weigh the consequences of doing so. 

I feel that this is another instance of Bowen schooling me, in this case reminding me that "coming out" is not an easy decision for many people. True, toxic people should be removed from our lives but there's a cost. The person stuck in the middle has to consider that cost against their own happiness which is exactly the position that Cax is in. Axel is at the other end of the spectrum. He has always been accepted by his mother, has experienced relationships and sex, and is now in his first professional job testing the waters to see if his sexuality will be an issue at work. It's interesting seeing the contrast in how these two men live their lives. But Axel is a stand-up guy who has waited this long to find Cax again so he won't easily give up on him. He is exceptionally tender and understanding of him even when things get shot to hell later.

Sarina Bowen knows how to draw you into the story at a deeper level. You may think you know what's going on but you don't. Each revelation adds another layer to making the characters whole. Axel and Cax have a lovely chemistry that makes the sexual tension even more pressing. Outside of that, there's a bond that even six years of being apart can't diminish. Hello Forever is about patience, encouragement and the steadfast belief that love wins in the end, especially when you find your way back to each other.

~ Bel

Thursday, July 13, 2017

By Her Touch (Blank Canvas #2) by Adriana Anders

* * * 

He Will Always Bear the Scars

Undercover cop Clay Navarro left the Sultans biker gang a changed man. Its ringleaders may be awaiting trial, but he wears the memory of every brutal act he was forced to commit tattooed across his skin. He doesn't have space in his messed-up life for anything gentle--not now, maybe not ever. 

Dr. Georgette Hadley is drawn to the damaged stranger's pain, intimidated but intrigued by the warmth that lies beneath Clay's frightening exterior. But when the Sultans return looking for revenge, she finds herself drawn into the dirty underbelly of a life forged in violence...that not even her touch may be able to heal.

Dear god, she did it again. Adriana Anders had me glued to each page of By Her Touch. It's hard not to hang on to each and every word as she taps into something so deep and draws out each character's deepest desires.

Dr. Georgette Hadley aka George whom we met in the the first book is a dermatologist who offers a unique and sought-after service: she removes tattoos. The clients who normally seek her out for this are people who require a great deal of discretion, for example Uma in book 1 who escaped an abusive relationship that had left scars all over her body. She was a saviour to Uma as someone who helped her physically remove the remnants of a terrifying past so she could start afresh. This is what brings Clay Navarro to town. He was an undercover agent in a biker gang and things went horribly wrong when someone sold him out blowing his cover. He was ambushed by the gang and was mercilessly tattooed on his face and hands. After a stint at the hospital to recover from his injuries and surgery, he heads to Blackwood to seek out George's services. He needs those tattoos removed in order not to look so intimidating when he is called to testify in a few months. The added advantage of not being stared at and feared by any onlooker would be nice, too. 

George and Clay are two loners living in their own heads. When Clay walks into her clinic demanding absolute secrecy, she agrees to do it off the books. She doesn't know his story but can tell he's been through hell and back. The gruesome evidence all over his body is evidence of that. Clay, who needs to keep his distance can't help but feel a strange pull towards her. They're two opposites clinging to their own pain and suffering.  As strong as Clay is physically, he's a shattered soul on the inside with all the pressure of the world weighing him down. He worries more and more about his past catching up to him as he and George get more intimate. And speaking of the past, it's hers that's holding George back. Clay being in her life makes her question who she is living for and why she has purposefully stalled herself.

I read Under Her Skin in one day and I pretty much did the same with By Her Touch. I find Anders' descriptive writing makes her characters so accessible that I can sense their personalities. Getting to know George was something I was looking forward to. In the brief glimpses I had of her in Uma's story, she seemed strong and confident. Here, she is a contrast of sorts, seeming shy and indecisive every time she's around Clay. She couldn't even complete her sentences which kind of made me crazy. I enjoyed that Clay let down his guard and allowed himself to show affection. There's no denying the sizzling attraction between them. There's a scene in her office when she's rubbing cream on his back in preparation for the tattoo removal procedure that taps into their longing and need for assurance. The simple act of George touching his skin sends sparks through them both. The sensation is more than she expected. It's an astonishingly intimate and powerful moment that even I could tell that feeling human contact like this for the first time in a long time was too much for Clay's poor, mixed up senses to handle. The guy almost short-circuited! This is Anders' gift: that this moment that's not even a sex scene is that hypnotic and compelling. It only makes me excited about what lies ahead!

I'm only two books in and I can say with certainty that Adriana Anders has become one of my favourites. She knows how to write damaged souls and breathe new life into them. You want heat, drama and intimately sexy moments?  Here's your book!

~ Bel

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Mister Hockey (Hellions Angels #1) by Lia Riley

* * * 3/4

Her biggest fantasy is about to become a reality. . .

Jed West is Mr. Hockey. The captain of the NHL’s latest winning team, the Denver Hellions–and the hottest player on the ice—at least according to every magazine. .and Breezy Angel. Breezy has been drooling over Jed at games for years, and he plays a starring role in her most toe-curling fantasies. But dirty dreams don’t come true, right?

Then Jed saunters through the doors of her library, a last minute special guest for a summer reading event, and not only is he drop dead gorgeous up close, his personality is straight up swoon-worthy. He even comes to the rescue when she has an R-rated “Super Book Worm” costume malfunction. But when he mistakenly assumes she’s more into books than pucks, she’s too flustered to correct his mistake. And then comes a big kiss, followed by a teensy-tiny problem. Jed’s dating policy is simple: Never date a fan.

So what’s a fangirl going to have to do to convince her ultimate crush that he’s become less of a perfect fantasy, and more like the perfect man. . .for her?

Source: advance e-galley provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

Yowza!! Have the cover gods smiled upon Lia Riley! You're forgiven if you get lost in Mister Hockey's intense gaze and take a while to open the book. I stared and I may have sighed. Okay, I DID sigh. Can you blame a girl?

I've read so many sports romances lately, particularly hockey ones that I wondered what would be different about Mister Hockey. It seems that most of the male athletes tend to be categorized as egocentric, players, arrogant, while the women despite themselves fall helplessly for that. Don't get me wrong - I enjoy reading them all, especially how these athletes grow and become more evolved, but I take particular delight when I read about one that goes against the grain. Jed is that kind of athlete. I don't take him for a saint but he's a decent guy with strong principles and who's currently at a crossroads in his career. Jed's being interviewed for a podcast by an incredibly smart and assertive reporter when she out of the blue asks a huge favour of him. The reporter's sister who is a librarian needs someone from his Hellions organization to fill in as a guest reader at her library because their coach couldn't make it. No big deal, he can step in to save the day for a group of young kids. When he arrives he comes face-to-face with the most stunning woman he has ever seen - Breezy. He assumes that she's not a hockey fan hence, doesn't know who he is. Bonus points! If he peeked inside her office though he'd realize he's mistaken. Not only does she love the sport, she's his biggest fan with all the memorabilia to prove it. Breezy can't believe that she's standing in front of the man who has had a starring role in all her fantasies. So like most women when in this situation she's flustered. Worse yet, a horrifyingly embarrassing wardrobe malfunction has Jed covering for her - literally. Once again, we are all Breezy when she hastily leaves the library running to the sanctuary of her home. Bat wait! In her haste she's run off with his car keys which Jed shows up later to retrieve. One thing leads to another ... and with all the sexy vibes and googly eyes ... you can imagine what happens next.

It's an unusual set-up but it's entertaining. Jed and Breezy get on amazingly. The only thing that could ruin this is that they're both hiding secrets. Well actually, it's just Breezy who still hasn't come clean that she's his number one fangirl. While she's debating when to tell him the truth, Jed's facing his own dilemma regarding his health and next career move. What they do have in common, and what I sympathized with, is the entire sibling-comparison thing. Breezy gets on well with her sister but it's their mother who is constantly comparing the two sisters and pointing out Breezy's "lack of". She thinks she lacks ambition or wonders if Jed can really be attracted to Breezy when her sister is the more slender, conventional beauty. Breezy is a strong woman but it still hurts to hear a mother knock her body image. And Jed has always felt he's been in his brother's shadow and is still reconciling his success with his brother's reality. 

I thought Mister Hockey was a sweet whirlwind romance with both Jed and Breezy being a fun pair. I ate it up and finished it within a day. I know I'm repeating myself when I say how I honestly enjoyed that Jed was a more down-to-earth kind of guy than an Adonis-like pro with a wild past. Breezy, who's simply too adorable and open-hearted, is also rather silly at times which makes me want to be besties with her. Jed and Breezy together make me smile and I hope they do the same or you.

~ Bel

Friday, July 7, 2017

Trouble by Avery Flynn Blog Tour


TROUBLE, an all-new sexy standalone from Avery Flynn is available NOW!

Trouble eCover v300dpi


A high school reunion is about to get down and dirty and a whole lot more complicated in this new romance from USA Today bestselling author Avery Flynn.
Brains and a badass attitude. That’s all troublemaker Leah Camacho took with her when she left Catfish Creek. She’d promised herself she’d never go back, but when the invite to her tenth high school reunion arrived along with the chance to show everyone who doubted her what a success she’s made of herself, she couldn’t resist. However, when she discovers a 15-carat, stolen diamond in her rental car’s glove box, there’s only one man she can turn to for help—the same sexy, stubborn domineering man who’d smashed her heart all those years ago.

Sheriff Drew Jackson knew a long time ago that Leah Camacho was nothing but trouble and has sworn to never get caught up in her again—no matter how damn sexy she is or how badly he’d failed to forget her. But, when the woman who test drove his heart right into a concrete wall rolls into Catfish Creek with some serious bad guys on her tail, it’s up to him to keep her safe—even if that means guarding her hot bod 24/7 without giving into temptation or losing his mind.


Spinning the wheel as he hit the brakes, he came to a stop behind the sports car at an angle that blocked it from reversing. Drew got out of his truck, keeping the open door between him and the other car and flicked open the leather strap on his hip holster that kept his sheriff's office-issued 9mm locked in place.
"Get out of the vehicle," he hollered.
The car's driver's side door opened wide. The first part of the driver to appear was one shapely leg wearing skin-tight denim punctuated with scuffed up black Doc Martens. Some sort of danger alarm sounded in Drew's head, but not the kind that warned of bullets or other bodily danger. A woman got out, facing away from him, her hands up and her dark hair a long silky curtain that led his attention straight down her back to the high curve of her ass poured into those jeans. Parts of him that had no place in police business sat up and noticed. Her ass was a testament to the reason why society required women to wear full dresses for so long—because men were weak, lust-addled idiots when it came to asses like the one that looked more than a little familiar to Drew. His gaze snapped back up as his internal alarm went from quiet buzz to all-out blare. He knew that ass, that hair, and those damn boots.
"Turn around," he ordered.
She did. Her lush mouth—one he knew far too well—was compressed into a tight line, her attention focused on something behind him. Leah Camacho was back and with her always came trouble—for him, for his sanity, and for the part of him that still thought of her at opportune moments in the shower.
"Drew," she said, making his name sound like a curse and a promise. "Get on the other side of the door."
Listening to Leah Camacho was the last thing he should be doing, but he did it anyway for reasons he didn't understand. Just as he rounded the door, an extended cab pickup truck turned the corner. The tires were big, the windows dark, and the speed was slow. As it puttered by, Drew looked it over and mentally confirmed it didn't belong to any of the usual suspects in Catfish Creek. Of course, the high school reunion was bringing in lots of folks who hadn't been here in a while. At the corner, the truck sped up, peeling away from the stop sign and taking a hard right back toward the highway.
"Who was that?" he asked, the smell of burnt rubber drifting back toward them.
"No fucking clue but they've been on my ass for the past hour," she said, reaching up and winding her long hair into a knot on the top of her head—the move emphasizing her amazing tits and making Drew's mouth go dry. "I didn't realize I'd be stopping on your turf."
He bet not. After what happened last time they were together, she'd made avoiding him into an art form. However, the fact that he was the law in town, however temporarily, meant avoiding her was an impossibility because wherever Leah Camacho went, trouble was sure to follow. He glanced down at exhibit A.
"What happened to your tire?" he asked.
"No clue," she said, her voice tight with a lie. "I must have run over something."
Drew squatted down and took a closer look at the tire. It didn't have a tear, it was just gone as if it had been a blow out. If Leah had run over something big enough to do that, she would have realized it.
"What in the hell is going on, Leah?"


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About the Author:

Avery Flynn is an award winning, USA Today bestselling romance author. She has three slightly-wild children, loves a hockey-addicted husband and is desperately hoping someone invents the coffee IV drip. She was a reader before she was a writer and hopes to always be both. She loves to write about smartass alpha heroes who are as good with a quip as they are with their *ahem* other God-given talents. Her heroines are feisty, fierce and fantastic. Brainy and brave, these ladies know how to stand on their own two feet and knock the bad guys off theirs.

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Friday, June 30, 2017

Enigma (Schrodinger's Consortium #2) by Tonya Kuper

* * *

Releases July 4th, 2017

The highly anticipated sequel to Anomaly will be released the summer of 2017!

Worst. Road Trip. Ever.

Escaping with Reid Wentworth should have been fun, but how can I enjoy it when I just (accidentally) killed someone, my mom and brother are in danger, and the Consortium is trying to enslave humanity? (Yeah, they aren’t fooling around.) So feeling something for Reid Wentworth was not part of the plan. Trying to help unite the Resistance against the Consortium means I can’t be distracted by hot boys.

The Resistance secret hideout isn’t exactly the rebel base of my dreams. A traitor there wants me dead, but we have no idea who it is. And with both the Resistance and the Consortium trying to control me, the only one I can trust is Reid. If we’re going to have any chance of protecting my family, controlling my unstable powers, and surviving the clash between the Oculi factions, I’m going to have to catch this traitor. By using myself as bait.

Sometimes you're not quite sure what you'll get with a sequel, especially one as heart-pounding as its predecessor. When it comes to Enigma there's no need to worry. The start gives you just enough time to gather your thoughts and take a few deep breaths before Josie and Reid have to run a few errands like find the mole within the Resistance and you know, save the world. 

Josie has barely had enough time to absorb the full impact of how her life has turned upside down and now the fact that her family is in danger reverberates throughout the book. Rather than run away, she chooses to take on the danger heading straight for the Resistance headquarters to find support and most importantly the mole. Reid is as ever loyal but also reeling from the shock that his partner turned out to be not so trustworthy. This is one of the central themes of the book - trust. How to find it again after the rug has been pulled out from under them. Going to the Resistance means a fine balancing act of trust and also independence in search of the truth. Both Josie and Reid are fully aware of this which means they must be even tighter than ever in order to survive and win the fight.

My favourite thing about what Tonya Kuper has created here is Josie. This girl owns who she is. She's a nerd, loves science and geeks out on all things superhero. She has never succumbed to the pressure to dumb down or be embarrassed by her nerdiness. She is full of grit and determination, a logical thinker but also pays heed to her heart. Reid admires her as she is and it's great to have a male character not feel intimidated or emasculated by her strength and powers. I think she's a fantastic role model for young girls.

As for the story, I actually enjoyed Enigma even more. In Anomaly, Josie was just getting to understand who she was. In Enigma, no longer isolated and now surrounded by her peers, she puts her I-mean-business hat on. Now they work together towards the greater good. Josie grows up fast taking on responsibilities she couldn't have imagined a year before. 

Enigma has adventure, action, love and intelligence. It's about a young woman who instead of asking "why me" adds purpose to her life. Definitely read this one!

 ~ Bel

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Under Her Skin (Blank Canvas #1) by Adriana Anders

* * * *

Her Body is His Canvas
A darkly possessive relationship has left Uma alone and on the run. Beneath her drab clothing, she hides a terrible secret—proof of her abuse, tattooed onto her skin in a lurid reminder of everything she’s survived.
Caught between a brutal past and an uncertain future, Uma’s reluctant to bare herself to anyone…much less a rough ex-con whose rage drives him in ways she will never understand. But beneath his frightening exterior, Ivan is gentle. Warm. Compassionate. And just as determined to heal Uma’s broken heart as he is to destroy the monster who left his mark scrawled across the delicate tapestry of her of her skin.

"Old hag in need of live-in helper to abuse. Nothing kinky."
Anyone who answers this ad has to be either out of their mind or desperate. That's the ad that Uma answers when she arrives in Blackwood almost penniless and in dire need of shelter. She's escaped from a volatile relationship that's left her with physical scars to rival her emotional ones. She can barely recognize the person she is today but in Blackwood she hopes to find her salvation where she will erase her past and restart her life. Her employer is a curmudgeonly older lady who pushes Uma to her limits but it's their neighbour that has her heart racing. Any man at the moment is bad news in her mind and Ive with his imposing physique and gruffness is no exception, though his kindness towards her goes against his outward appearance. When Ive first meets Uma he recognizes something in her eyes: someone whose spirit has been beaten down and is afraid. It has him curious as to who did that to her and for no logical reason at all he becomes protective of her. 

Under Her Skin is equally emotional and erotic. As the story goes on we learn about the abuse Uma suffered previously. It hurts even more when she traces back all the missed cues that she should have caught on to but it's all hindsight. She does not intend to make the same mistakes again so when Ive shows interest, she asks for time. Uma begins to notice Ive as she sheds some of her apprehensiveness. My absolute favourite passage comes on page 124 -- while she's watching him work with metal at the fire, she uses her photographer's eye to imagine him as a medieval blacksmith. That entire scene is so sensual and with the way Anders described it, I could picture it so vividly in front of me. Deep breaths were necessary to cool down after that. 

I was captivated by Anders' writing style and the images that she so exquisitely paints. I liked how her characters' rapport develop organically. One of my other favourite scenes is earlier on where Uma sits by her open window and listens to Ive banging on something in his garage. She's not aware yet that he's a blacksmith but finds a distinct comfort in clinging to that rhythmic sound. It doesn't escape me that this romantic and almost spiritual scenario of the two of them awake at night unable to sleep yet his nearby presence puts her at ease, is what helped forge this unusual and heated connection between them. I also want to praise Anders for how sensitively she handles Uma's storyline. Writing about someone who has escaped abuse and who is dealing with so much anguish is a precarious challenge. Uma is complex, filled with fragility and grit.

Under Her Skin is a stunning debut from Anders. So stunning that I read it in one day. This story will consume you and leave you breathless at times. Don't fear, there is a HEA that makes the journey through all that heartache worth it.

~ Bel

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A New Leash On Love Spotlight Tour

* * * 1/2

When Craig Williams draws the short straw and has to take his daughter’s adorable new puppy to a shelter after the holidays, it’s just another painful episode in the fall-out of a miserable divorce. He needs to pick up the pieces of his life, and, after a fiery confrontation with Megan Anderson, the young woman running the shelter, he wants to put the whole episode behind him. However, when he keeps finding new ways to reconnect with her, he realizes Megan’s compassionate and caring nature just might be the perfect salve for his broken heart.

Source: advance e-galley provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

Take one guess as to what convinced me to request this book? Yep. The puppers. I cannot resist a cute puppy and so I was suckered in. (Kudos to the person who designed the cover!)

Megan runs the local animal shelter which is a labour of love that requires hard work and a lot of balancing. It's apparent from the get go that all the animals at the shelter mean the world to her. She has the patience to win over their trust and to help them find the right forever homes where they can continue to lead full, happy lives. She meets Craig when he comes in to surrender his daughter's puppy. Life took a dramatic downward turn for his family even before he and his wife divorced. Now his focus is on his kids and work. Understanding that his daughter and ex-wife can no longer manage a puppy in their house, he takes it to the shelter where Megan immediately assumes that he's someone easily giving up on a pet, therefore pegging him as an entitled jerk. He doesn't appreciate her assumption of him but doesn't feel the need to correct her on it either, even if it does bother him. So imagine how confused they are that despite their negative interaction there seem to be sparks flying between them. When Craig's daughter starts volunteering at the shelter, it gives both him and Megan a redo.

This is a second-chance love story in the sense that it's a second chance at life and love. Both have suffered losses and neither is feeling too brave to jump in. I thought it was fascinating that Megan who is so brilliant at gaining an animal's trust is not so quick to trust another human. We get her and Craig's side of the story but I was nicely surprised to get his daughter Sophie's perspective as well. I thought it added an interesting layer to the story to include his child's observation. Thanks to the three of them I got a better feel for them as individuals with and away from each other and their take on what has been happening. Let's not forget that the setting is an animal shelter. I really enjoyed reading how Megan worked with and trained the dogs. (Yes, I was trying to pick up some tips myself.)

A New Leash On Love is an adorable, feel-good read that leaves your heart full. It's the first in the Rescue Me series and I'm looking forward more from Debbie Burns.

~ Bel

We're happy to share with you an excerpt from A New Leash On Love as part of today's spotlight tour. Enjoy and don't forget to enter the giveaway below!

Megan drove home through the streets of Webster Grove, trying to sort out a tangled mess of feelings that wouldn’t unravel. When it came to Craig Williams, everything was too knotted together to decipher.
Pulling onto her cul-de-sac, she felt her heart thump erratically when she spotted a BMW 7 Series parked in her driveway. She hit the brakes, then the gas a bit too hard. The engine revved, and heat rushed all the way into her fingers and toes.
Please don’t let him have seen that. She parked in her driveway alongside his car and attempted to step out as gracefully as possible. He was still in his seat, talking on the phone. She headed around and leaned against her passenger door. Meeting her gaze, he held up a finger and offered a secretive smile that lightened her mood more than a whole bag of comfort food could’ve.
She heard a handful of words through his closed window. They were boring ones that had to do with sales and reports and projections. Then he said he had to go.
With a wave of insecurity washing over her, Megan pulled her jacket closed. The sun was setting, and the temperature was dropping.
Craig stepped from his car wearing a dress shirt that was open at the collar and no coat. Keeping one arm draped over his door, he stared at her without saying anything. Just three feet, maybe four, separated them.
“Hey,” she said. Why was the onus on her to talk first? He was standing in her driveway.
“I wanted to give you something. If you have a few minutes.”
She rocked back on her heels. “I think I have a few.”
With a hint of a smile curling his lips, he reached into his car and pulled out a brown-paper gift bag. “It isn’t another donation, so I’m hopeful it won’t piss you off.”
A laugh bubbled out of her. “Based on our history, I’d have to say you never know.” She took it, admiring the gold tissue paper poking out the top. “Did you bag this yourself?”
“I feel compelled to say I’m not that good at domesticity.”
She separated the folds of tissue, then paused. “Let me guess… You bronzed my pooper scooper?” She said it in hope of easing the tension still hanging in the air. He’d commented at lunch that with the new employee they were going to add, her poop-scraping days might well be over.
Whatever he’d given her was flat, wide, and rectangular. Pursing her lips, she pulled it out and held it up in the dim light. “Um, is it a little chalkboard?”
He laughed in the low, quiet way that made her tingle down to her toes. “It’s more of a metaphorical gift.”
Megan tilted her head, looking from him to the chalkboard. “If you’re saying not to use your donation on new technology for the shelter, you could’ve given me a Hallmark card. Nothing says I don’t do technology like Hallmark.”
“Try again, Megan. This is about this afternoon. It has nothing to do with the shelter.”
That word again. Her name. Only when he said it, it was like a tall stack of chocolate chip and pecan pancakes with extra syrup.
With her heart running its own marathon, she forced her attention to the shiny new chalkboard in her hand and tried to figure out how it could be metaphorical. Suddenly she got it. Unable to keep the grin from spreading across her face, she held it up. “Are you offering me a clean slate?”
He smiled wide enough to show a set of very white, straight teeth. “Yes, as a matter of fact I am.” Pulling one hand from his pocket, he held up a finger. “And hopefully a better explanation than the one I gave you this afternoon, if you’ll allow me.”
Her heart plummeted into her stomach, then leaped into her throat. “I will.”
“That’s good. Really good.” He moved a step closer, returning his free hand to his pants’ pocket. Megan suddenly wondered if he wanted to touch her as much as she wanted him to. “Look, you haven’t had kids so you may not understand this, but the thing is, right now my life is about my kids. My ex-wife and I didn’t divorce for the chance to be with other people. Not now. Not at this stage in the game.”
Why did it suddenly feel like he was dumping her? With a chalkboard? Swallowing hard, she nodded. “I get it, Craig.”
“Please let me finish. I hardly ever say things. But I have to say this. To you. Because you’re real and because you matter.”
She swept a lock of hair behind her ear and nodded him on. “Okay.”
“You see, a few years ago, something happened and the kids—” His voice cracked, and he cleared his throat.
Her own throat was so damn tight, but she had to spare him from continuing. “Sophie told me. She told me what happened.”
Craig stared at her for a mile of heartbeats before starting again. “Then you know that I can’t hurt them. Not now. Not more than the divorce already has.”
Her insides turned to mush. “I know, and I get it. Like I said, I’m sorry for the accusation I made earlier.”
With a bitter laugh, he walked away from her, pacing again. “I deserved it. And more. You caught me off guard right from the start. With what you said to me the first time I met you. About rising to the occasion. And just about everything else from then on. But I’m not making decisions for me. I can’t move forward with you in that way. And let’s face it, it’s obvious to the world you aren’t one-night-stand material. I probably wouldn’t be half as attracted to you if you were.” He sighed and dragged his fingers through his hair. “This is a terrible apology. I’ve never been good at them, but now I’m really out of practice.”
“It’s all right. I’m okay with your faults, numerous as they are.” Megan grinned and held up the bag she’d slipped the chalkboard into. “Besides, we’re starting over, remember?”


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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Impossible Vastness of Us Release Day Launch

From New York Times bestselling author Samantha Young comes a story of friendship, identity, and acceptance that will break your heart—and make it whole again. Grab your copy of THE IMPOSSIBLE VASTNESS OF US today!


“I know how to watch my back. I’m the only one that ever has.”

India Maxwell hasn’t just moved across the country—she’s plummeted to the bottom rung of the social ladder. It’s taken years to cover the mess of her home life with a veneer of popularity. Now she’s living in one of Boston’s wealthiest neighborhoods with her mom’s fiancĂ© and his daughter, Eloise. Thanks to her soon-to-be stepsister’s clique of friends, including Eloise’s gorgeous, arrogant boyfriend Finn, India feels like the one thing she hoped never to be seen as again: trash.

But India’s not alone in struggling to control the secrets of her past. Eloise and Finn, the school’s golden couple, aren’t all they seem to be. In fact, everyone’s life is infinitely more complex than it first appears. And as India grows closer to Finn and befriends Eloise, threatening the facades that hold them together, what’s left are truths that are brutal, beautiful, and big enough to change them forever…

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“India, I’m not using her. I mean, I am, but it’s not like that. Eloise is getting what she wants out of this relationship, as well.”
“Like what?”
“I can’t tell you.”
“You are using her.”
“I’m not.” His chair screeched as he pulled it closer so our knees touched. His dark eyes moved over my face and I sucked in my breath at the open appreciation I saw there. “I’m not using her…but we are in a relationship together. I guess it just never occurred to me that I might actually meet someone in high school. Someone I…”
That feeling in my chest, that thick, hot feeling, threatened to overwhelm me at all the things he wasn’t saying. “Finn, Eloise is going to be my family.”
He looked so forlorn it took everything within me not to reach for him.
“What is it you’re hiding?”
“I can’t tell you. Please, just trust me.”
Hurt and frustration swept through me in equal measure but I tamped it down.
It wasn’t my place to demand his secrets.
My frustration was suddenly mirrored in his eyes as he looked up at me. “I wish things were different.”
But they weren’t different. And yet they were the same, history repeating itself. I cared about someone and they didn’t care enough about me back to be honest about what was really going on.
I didn’t know if I was angry at Finn or just angry that nothing ever seemed to be easy for me. Everything was always a fight.
It felt like I lived in a constant clusterfuck.
I gave a huff of laughter. “Story of my life.” I shook my head, grabbed up my bag and, unable to look at him, said, “Thank you for your help tonight.”
“You’re not leaving without me.”
His protectiveness confused and pissed me off even more. “I’m not? Funny, it looks like that’s exactly what I’m doing.”
His familiar scowl was back in place at my sarcasm. “You’re also not going home alone after what happened here. I’ll give you a ride.”
“Finn.” I slumped, suddenly feeling exhausted. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
Sadness flittered through his eyes before he managed a carefully blank expression. “I think I can handle driving you home.”
Still a trembling mess after everything that had happened, I gave in and followed Finn out to his car.
The tension that we’d shared before was nothing compared to how it was now. Now that Finn had in a roundabout way admitted he liked me and I’d realized that what I was feeling for him was attraction, the tension could not be mistaken for anything else but sexual.
I’d never felt anything like it before—it was the most frustrating, scary and exhilarating feeling in the world.
When we eventually pulled up outside the house, the guilt washed over me. I shouldn’t be feeling this way about Eloise’s boyfriend and he certainly shouldn’t be feeling this way about me.
I felt like we were to blame for the whole thing but I didn’t know why.
I hadn’t asked the universe to make Finn like me.
And I had definitely not intended to like him in return.
“India,” he said just as I moved to get out of his car. “I’ve never really cared what anybody thought of me before…but I really don’t want you to think I’m a bad person.”
I stared into his beautiful eyes. “I can’t imagine ever thinking you’re a bad person. I meant it earlier…thank you for coming for me tonight. I’ll never forget it.”
“This feels weirdly like a goodbye,” he said with a bitter twist to his gorgeous lips.
“Maybe it is. I guess we’re both just a complication the other doesn’t need.”
Slowly, so slowly my heart had time to increase in hard, steady thumps, Finn slid his hand over the center console between us and stroked his thumb along the side of my hand. I felt that simple touch in every nerve, my body reacting to it in a way it never had to the touches and deep kisses that had come before it.
I stared at our hands for a moment, wondering how different my life could be if Finn wasn’t Eloise’s boyfriend, if we’d just met as strangers at school, felt the inexplicable bond between us and were free to do something about it.
Suddenly very aware of how long I’d been sitting outside the house in his car, I fumbled for the door handle. “See you around, Finn.”

About Samantha Young:

Samantha Young is the New York Times,  USA Today  and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of adult contemporary romances, including the On Dublin Street series and Hero, as well as the New Adult duology Into the Deep and Out of the Shallows.  Every Little Thing, the second book in her new Hart’s Boardwalk series, will be published by Berkley in March 2017. Before turning to contemporary fiction, she wrote several young adult paranormal and fantasy series, including the amazon bestselling Tale of Lunarmorte trilogy. Samantha’s debut YA contemporary novel The Impossible Vastness of Us will be published by Harlequin TEEN in ebook & hardback June 2017
Samantha has been nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award 2012 for Best Author and Best Romance for On Dublin Street, Best Romance 2014 for Before Jamaica Lane, and Best Romance 2015 for HeroOn Dublin Street, a #1 bestseller in Germany, was the Bronze Award Winner in the LeserPreis German Readers Choice Awards for Best Romance 2013, Before Jamaica Lane the Gold Medal Winner for the LeserPreis German Readers Choice Awards for Best Romance 2014 and Echoes of Scotland Street the Bronze Medal Winner for the LeserPreis German Readers Choice Awards for Best Romance 2015.

Samantha is currently published in 30 countries and is a #1 international bestselling author.

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