HIATUS

I have to say that due to some changes in my life recently, I might not post for a long while. I have not read in some time and adulting life is catching up with me now that I graduated. I promise that soon I will find a pace and start to blog again. For now, everything that is being posted was scheduled from a long time ago. See ya!

UPDATE: I'm really trying to find a better pace. I am reading more than before, but I need to find time to actually review and post more. I think you might see more posts, at random, that have not been scheduled from way before. Anyways, enjoy, and I'll be back soon, hopefully.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday [65]

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. 
This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

(Zodiac #3)
by: Romina Russell

 One final secret stands between Rho and the enemy. But will the devastating truth be enough to destroy her first?


Rho, the courageous visionary from House Cancer, lost nearly everything when she exposed and fought against the Marad, a mysterious terrorist group bent on destroying balance in the Zodiac Galaxy. Now, the Marad has disappeared without a trace, and an uneasy peace has been declared. 

But Rho is suspicious. She believes the Master is still out there in some other form. And looming over all are the eerie visions of her mother, who died many years ago, but is now appearing to Rho in the stars. 

When news of a stylish new political party supported by her best friend, Nishi, sends Rho on another journey across the galaxy, she uses it as an opportunity to hunt the hidden master and seek out information about her mother. And what she uncovers sheds light on the truth–but casts darkness upon the entire Zodiac world.

RELEASE DATE: December 6th, 2016

What are you waiting on?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

[Book Blitz + Giveaway] Ink Exposed, by: Carrie Ann Ryan

He failed himself. His family. His heart. Will he fail her? New York Times bestselling author Carrie Ann Ryan's INK EXPOSED is available now! Get your hands on Alex's story now. You can find out more about INK EXPOSED, read the first chapter, and enter to win a $50 Amazon gift card below!

Ink Exposed

(Montgomery Ink #6)
by: Carrie Ann Ryan
Release Date: November 29th, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance

The Montgomery Ink series continues with the brother that deserves a second chance, and the woman who has always loved him.

Alex Montgomery lost his first love and then proceeded to leave himself in the bottle. Only he and his ex-wife truly know why he fell so hard and so fast down a path he never thought he’d take. Now he’s clean, out of rehab, and learning how to be a Montgomery once again—a task that isn’t quite as easy as some of his family assumes. 

Tabby Collins is an honorary Montgomery and the organizational mastermind behind Montgomery Inc., the family’s construction company. She loves her planners, friends, and a certain dark-haired man who’s never given her a second glance. 

Alex is slowly re-immersing himself back into the world, but the demons he faced before aren’t out of the picture, and he’ll have to learn to rely on others to make it out whole. When Alex discovers that Tabby’s life is in danger, he not only finds a way to help her but also learns the true woman behind the soft smiles he’s always seen. Their romance won’t be an easy one, but nothing this passionate and heart-pounding ever is.



Want to read the first chapter?

The first full first chapter of INK EXPOSED was revealed last week! You can read all three parts now:

Want to win?

Carrie Ann Ryan is giving away a $50 Amazon gift card and swag pack - you can enter via the Rafflecopter below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


AUTHOR

Carrie Ann Ryan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary and paranormal romance. Her works include the Montgomery Ink, Redwood Pack, Talon Pack, and Gallagher Brothers series, which have sold over 2.0 million books worldwide. She started writing while in graduate school for her advanced degree in chemistry and hasn’t stopped since. Carrie Ann has written over fifty novels and novellas with more in the works. When she’s not writing about bearded tattooed men or alpha wolves that need to find their mates, she’s reading as much as she can and exploring the world of baking and gourmet cooking.

Top Ten Tuesday [48] - Holiday Gift Guide Freebie

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of their bloggers over at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join! This week Top Ten is...

Top Ten Books My Mom Should Buy Me

A Holiday Gift Guide for my mom to me, but seriously, I think your mom needs to buy you these books too, don't you think?

 
 
 
 
 

You know, mom, some of these books have been out for a long while and are cheaper now. There are other books that are not even out, but a gift card is always welcome. Love you!
*I know my mom is never going to see this, but still.*
What's your Top Ten?

Monday, November 28, 2016

[Book Blitz + Excerpt + Giveaway] Fire in You, by: J. Lynn


Some are born with fire in them.

✮✮✮SECOND CHANCES, HOPE, & RED-HOT CHEMISTRY…FIRE IN YOU, the final book in the #1 New York Times bestselling Wait For You World is here! Don’t Miss Brock and Jillian’s passionate and richly moving story in this standalone contemporary romance!✮✮✮

Let the FIRE IN YOU burn and grab your copy today!

Fire in You

(Wait for You #6)
by: J. Lynn
Release Date: November 28th, 2016
Genres: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

From the # 1 New York Times and International bestselling author comes a richly moving story about heartbreak and guilt, second chances and hope. Full of familiar, fan-favorite characters and no two people more deserving of a happy ending, Fire In You will burn bright beyond the last page…

Jillian Lima’s whole world was destroyed in a span of a few hours. The same night her childhood love, Brock ‘the Beast’ Mitchell, broke her heart, her life was irrevocably altered by the hand of a stranger with a gun. It takes six years to slowly glue together the shattered pieces of her life, but Jillian is finally ready to stop existing in a past full of pain and regret. She takes a job at her father’s martial arts Academy and she’s going out on her first date since a failed relationship that was more yuck than yum. Jillian is determined to start living.

She just never expected Brock to be a part of her life again. But he’s firmly back in her life before she knows it, and not only is he older, he’s impossibly more handsome, more teasing and more everything. And when he sees Jillian, he’s no longer capable of thinking of her as the little girl who was his shadow growing up or the daughter of the man who gave him a second chance at life. He sees the woman who’d always been there for him, the one person who believed in him no matter what.

Brock knows she’s the one he should’ve made his, and what begins as a tentative friendship quickly turns to red-hot chemistry that sparks a flame that burns brighter than lust. Falling for Brock again risks more than her heart, because when the sorrow-filled and guilt-ridden past resurfaces, and a web of lies threatens to rip them apart, the fallout could lay waste to everything they’ve fought to build together, and destroy the dreams of those they care most about.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks


Order a digital or paperback copy of FIRE IN YOU by Jennifer L. Armentrout, writing as J.Lynn, AND fill out THIS FORM by December 3rd, and get an exclusive bonus scene-an Epilogue featuring POVs from all the major couples throughout the Wait For You World!

FIRE IN YOU will be available in paperback and eBook November 28th, 2016!

Just enter your name, age, email address, and the order number from your digitalor paperback pre-order receipt at https://a.pgtb.me/M7KhMC to receive your exclusive FIRE IN YOU bonus scene! All entrants will receive the bonus scene on December 5th, 2016 through email using the email given when the entrant filled out THIS FORM.


EXCERPT


Making my way through the narrow pathways between the tables, I headed back toward the bathroom. Only once I pushed open the double doors and stopped in front of the water-spotted mirror did I realize I’d left my purse at the table, so there’d be no reapplying my lipstick.

I pumped soap onto my hands and waved them under the facet. Water flowed, washing away the suds as I slowly lifted my gaze to my reflection. Normally when I looked at myself, I didn’t really pay attention longer than was necessary to put makeup on without ending up looking like a tutorial gone wrong.

Standing here now, I really looked at myself, though.

I used to wear my hair up all the time, but I’d stopped doing that every day. My hair now hung in waves and the ends curled over the tips of my breasts. I also used to have heavy bangs, but thank God they were long gone. I’d finally learned how to put on eyeliner. That was another miracle. The slight flush of my face darkened my naturally tan skin. My lips were fuller and my nose straight.

My hair was parted to sweep to the left so it shielded my cheek…and my cheek didn’t look that bad, especially considering how it looked the first time I’d seen it after…after days in the hospital.

Hell, my entire face had been one hot mess.

There was a deep indentation in my left cheek, almost like an icepick had been shoved in there, and as I stared at my right jaw line, I was still amazed by what reconstructive plastic surgeons could accomplish. Half my face had literally been pieced back together with an iliac crest graft with a reconstruction plate and a crap ton of dentistry to give me back a full set of functional teeth.

Plastic surgeons didn’t have magic wands, but they were magicians. If you weren’t looking at me straight on, you’d have no idea that my right jaw was thinner than my left.

You’d have no idea what had happened to me that night.

Now I stared back at myself just like I had done that night, six years ago, standing in a bathroom, mere minutes before my entire life came crashing down.

It wasn’t that I hated the way I looked now. The fact that I was alive meant I was one of those rare, walking and breathing statistics.

But even knowing how lucky I was didn’t change the fact that I felt…deformed. That was a harsh word to use. I didn’t like to whip it out often. Doing so on what was so far a pretty good date was probably not a good idea.

Taking a deep breath, I shook my head. I didn’t need my thoughts going in that direction tonight. So far, the dinner had been amazing. Grady was nice and he was cute. I could maybe see myself going out with him again, to an art exhibit, and maybe coffee.

And that was what had freaked me out.

I was not going to let living freak me out.

Nope.

I could give him a chance and not worry about whether or not I was settling.

Turning from the sink, I dried my hands and then readjusted my hair so it fell forward, over my left shoulder and cheek. I walked out of the bathroom and into the narrow hall, gaze trained on the floor as I took about two steps before I realized someone was standing right outside the door, leaning against the wall. Before I nearly plowed into him.

Gasping, I took a step back. All I could see were finely cut black trousers paired with…with old black and white Chucks? What an odd combination, but those shoes reminded me of…

I gave a little shake of my head and stepped to the side. “Sorry. Excuse—”

“Jillian.”

I stopped.

Time stopped.

Everything stopped except my heart, because it was suddenly pounding in my chest too hard, too fast. That deep, rough voice. I recognized it all the way to my very core. Slowly, I lifted my gaze, already knowing what I was going to see but refusing to believe it.

Brock Mitchell stood in front of me.



GIVEAWAY

AUTHOR

# 1 New York Times and # 1 International Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. She spends her time reading, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture and her Covenant Series has been optioned for TV. Jennifer has won numerous awards, including the 2013 Reviewers Choice Award for Wait for You, the 2015 Editor’s Pick for Fall With Me, and the 2014/2015 Moerser-Jugendbuch- Jury award for Obsidian. Her young adult romantic suspense novel DON’T LOOK BACK was a 2014 nominated Best in Young Adult Fiction by YALSA.

She also writes Adult and New Adult contemporary and paranormal romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Stacking the Shelves [20]

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews, which is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. You can read more about the creation of this meme by visiting the official launch page here.

July 10, 2016 to November 26, 2016

READ THESE PAST WEEKS:
CURRENTLY READING:
  • Lady Midnight, by Cassandra Clare
WILL READ NEXT:
  • Hard Times, by Charles Dickens

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thursday Tracks [26]

Ohhh! You know, and if you don't you'll know now, that I LOVE, love, LoVe music. Just as I live and breathe words, I live and breathe music. Those two things are just part of me as any other organ in my body. As you can see in my Music page, I hear music while reading! My Thursdays will become from now on... Thursday Tracks day! A feature created to share what song, album, playlist, artist I got stuck in my head every week. Now, this week song is...

False Alarm, by: The Weeknd



favorite lyrics: She loves everybody. Can't you tell by the signs? She loves everybody. She gets off all the time. It's a dark philosophy and it haunts her constantly. It's a false alarm to me. She's a false alarm.

Hear me next Thursday!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday [64]

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. 
This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

RoseBlood

by: A.G. Howard

In this modern day spinoff of Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.

A. G. Howard brings the romantic storytelling that Splintered fans adore to France—and an entirely new world filled with lavish romance and intrigue—in a retelling inspired by a story that has captivated generations. Fans of both the Phantom of the Opera musical and novel, as well as YA retellings such as Marissa Meyer’s Cinder, will devour RoseBlood.

Release Date: January 10th, 2017

What are you waiting on?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

[Book Blitz + Excerpt + Giveaway] Out of Bounds, by: Lauren Blakely


From NYT Bestselling author Lauren Blakely, comes a sexy new standalone sports romance…

OUT OF BOUNDS!


Ready to be swept off your feet? Meet the witty, sexy, dirty-talking quarterback Drew in OUT OF BOUNDS! Grab your copy today!

Out of Bounds

by: Lauren Blakely
Publication Date: November 22nd, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Sports

The first rule of football--don't screw with a streak.

My career is finally looking up, and I'm leading a new pro team down the field every Sunday. No way will I mess with that. But when I meet the most stunning and captivating woman I've ever seen, I tell myself one night will have to be enough. 

But it's not. And now I can't get her out of my mind. Even when I'm playing. Even when I need to focus. Even when I’m on the hottest streak of my life. 

And it turns out, she's not just some random woman I met. She works for the team. My team.

***

I only have one goal this season--do my part as the team's lawyer to keep them out of trouble. Help rebuild their reputation on and off the field. There's no room for error and certainly no room for a secret tryst with a player . . . even if he's the quarterback.

Right?

Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play


EXCERPT

“Be on your best behavior, Drew,” he says, a teasing tone in his voice.
            “I always am,” I reply, and the fact is, that’s true. Clean-cut is my nickname.
            “And text if you’re done early.”
            “If I’m done early, I’m having a date with my mattress.”
            He groans. “You are the definition of no fun.”
            I grin. “That’s me. That’s why Qwench wants me now. Because I know how to get a good night’s sleep and stay out of the line of fire.”
            When I hang up, I step out of the car, hand the keys to the valet, and thank him. Then I head inside, where Stuart greets me in the room reserved for the event, claps me on the back, and introduces me to several people. A photographer snaps shots the whole time, and I play the role that’s hardly a role—the outgoing, non-trouble-making, peace-loving quarterback who doesn’t throw punches or raise fists, like others before me have. 
            Don’t smoke, don’t do drugs, don’t have unprotected sex, and I also don’t speed. Squeaky clean indeed. Not even a traffic ticket on the record, and certainly no knocked-up teenyboppers with mini Drews baking in their bellies.
            Stuart introduces me to the red-haired, freckle-faced guy who heads up this charity. “And this is Drew Erickson. He’s our new starter. We’re thrilled to have him on the team, especially since he’s already active with many wonderful charitable endeavors,” Stuart says to the ginger-haired guy.
            We exchange small talk for a few minutes, then Stuart drops a hand on my shoulder and tells me there’s someone else he wants me to meet. “I’d love to introduce you to a sharp-as-a-tack woman who makes sure I don’t fumble,” he says, then winks in case I didn’t realize he was making a joke.
            I smile to let him know I got it—fumbling humor and all—then my smile turns into a ruler-straight line when I turn on my heels and see my surfer angel.
            Holy shit. She’s hot as sin in a red skirt, white blouse, and black heels. She holds a drink. Her blond hair is twisted on her head. Damn. The smoking-hot look is almost enough to make me forget she blew me off. My dick, the traitorous bastard, has already come down with amnesia. The fucker wants her.
            “This is Dani Paige. She’s an attorney for the team,” he says, and I attempt to school my expression as I come face-to-face with the woman who ditched me.
            And all I want to do is toss her on my shoulder, stalk to the bathroom, slam the door, and ask her why the fuck she didn’t call. Then when she tells me it was because she was too busy getting off to thoughts of me, I’d kiss the hell out of her until she melted in my arms and begged me to take her. I’d happily oblige. Hoist her up, hook her legs around my hips, and fuck her against the wall until she comes harder than she ever has before.
            Instead, I shake her free hand. “Pleasure to meet you.” Then I whisper, just for her. “Jaws.”

✮✮✮Celebrate the release of OUT OF BOUNDS! ✮✮✮

AUTHOR

Since self-publishing her debut romance novel CAUGHT UP IN US over three years ago, Lauren Blakely has sold more than 1.5 million books. She is known for her sexy contemporary romance style that's full of heat, heart and humor. A devout fan of cake and canines, Lauren has plotted entire novels while walking her four-legged friends. She lives in California with her family. With twelve New York Times bestsellers, her titles have appeared on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestseller Lists more than seventy times. Her bestselling series include Sinful Nights, Seductive Nights, No Regrets, Caught Up in Love, and Fighting Fire as well as standalone hit romances like BIG ROCK, MISTER O, WELL HUNG, and THE SEXY ONE which were all instant New York Times Bestsellers. In January she'll release FULL PACKAGE, a standalone romantic comedy. To receive an email when Lauren releases a new book, sign up for her newsletter! laurenblakely.com/newsletter. 

Website ** Facebook ** Twitter ** Newsletter ** Goodreads

Monday, November 21, 2016

[Cover Reveal] Forever Tattooed, by: Alicia Rae

The third book in Alicia Rae's Tattooed Billionaire series, FOREVER TATTOOED, releases on Tuesday, November 29th - and we are so thrilled to share the stunning cover with you today, plus a giveaway of all three books in the series! Check it out below.


Forever Tattooed

(Tattooed Billionaire #3)
by: Alicia Rae
Publication Date: November 29th

Raelyn Jennings survived the unthinkable. She has been given a second chance at life and a happily ever after with the man who owns her heart and soul. But surviving a brain tumor comes with a price—change—and it becomes Raelyn’s worst fear.

Damien Heathman—the tattooed, sexy, dominant CEO—isn’t one to let challenges stand in his way. Ever. Especially when it comes to his forever with Raelyn. His undying love for her is strong enough to see them through any darkness in their path, and he’ll obliterate anyone and anything that tries to stand in his way.

But, as Raelyn struggles to find her new place in life, the truth behind Damien’s jagged scars begins to unravel, layer after layer, and they reveal a deep hatred and rage toward those from his past.
Tears will be shed.

Relationships will be broken.

Can Damien and Raelyn’s love bear the inevitable storm? Or will heartbreak and devastation shatter their dreams of forever?

TATTOOED SCARS releases November 29th - sign up for Alicia Rae’s newsletter and like her on Facebook to be notified when it goes live!

Did you miss the first two books in the series? Make sure to catch up now!

Raelyn Jennings has survived the unthinkable. She’s been given a second chance to live, to breathe, to feel. Her ability to overcome such a traumatic hurdle has created armor around her heart. But beyond her shield is fear, a consuming deep one, of the unknown. Raelyn vows to herself that she’ll solely focus on the one constant in her life, her career as the CEO for a prestigious accounting firm. 

Damien Heathman’s unrelenting determination has made him a powerful, respected man. He’s sexy and confident and utterly breathtaking. His dominance and strength is evident in every purposeful stride, every meaningful look, and every soft caress. 

Raelyn has worked with Damien’s company, Heathman Enterprises, for many years, but they’ve never crossed paths—until now. 
Damien’s presence fills a room. He steals Raelyn’s breath and sparks her broken heart back to life. Once Damien sets eyes on Raelyn, there is no turning back. He wants her, and he’ll stop at nothing to have her. Not even the dark secrets hidden behind his tattoos will stand in his way. 

The chemistry is undeniable. The passion is palpable. 

Can Damien convince Raelyn that he is worth the risk? Or will Raelyn allow her past to control her future, feeling the chance of another heartache is too great to bear?

Buy TATTOOED EMOTIONS now for just .99c: Amazon

Raelyn Jennings knows one thing for certain. She loves Damien Heathman with every fiber of her being. A life without him wouldn’t be one worth living.

Damien has never loved a single soul—until Raelyn. She heals the pain that has tainted the deepest part of his heart. She is his everything, his single reason for breathing. Damien’s relentless determination refuses to let anyone or anything stand in his way of being with her.

But soon, Damien’s and Raelyn’s pasts begin to collide with their future in ways they never thought possible, testing their undying love for one another.

Damien’s dark secrets from the scars hidden beneath his tattoos threaten to reveal themselves while Raelyn is faced with impossible decisions that need to be made.

Can Damien convince Raelyn to take a risk in hopes of securing the longevity of their future? Or will Raelyn choose the safe path that also comes with a limit?

There isn’t any time to waste, for the clock never stops ticking.

Grab TATTOOED SCARS now: Amazon

GIVEAWAY


a Rafflecopter giveaway

AUTHOR

Alicia Rae is a Contemporary Romance Author who lives in Dekalb, Illinois, with her husband and three beautiful boys. Alicia has a passion for reading all types of romance, writing to bring a story to life, and wedding photography.
Alicia loves to hear from readers! Text RAE to 22828 to join her mailing list

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Thursday Tracks [25]

Ohhh! You know, and if you don't you'll know now, that I LOVE, love, LoVe music. Just as I live and breathe words, I live and breathe music. Those two things are just part of me as any other organ in my body. As you can see in my Music page, I hear music while reading! My Thursdays will become from now on... Thursday Tracks day! A feature created to share what song, album, playlist, artist I got stuck in my head every week. Now, this week song is...

Starboy, by: The Weeknd ft. Daft Punk



favorite lyrics: I'm a mother fuckin' Starboy!

Hear me next Thursday!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

[Book Blitz + Except] Heat Wave, by: Karina Halle

heat-wave-banner
        heat-wave-3d-book

Heat Wave
by: Karina Halle
Publication Date: November 16th
Genres: Contemporary Romance, New Adult

They say when life closes one door, another one opens. This door happens to lead to paradise. And a man I can never, ever have.

Still grieving the loss of her sister who died two years ago, the last thing Veronica "Ronnie" Locke needed was to lose her job at one of Chicago’s finest restaurants and have to move back in with her parents. So when a window of opportunity opens for her – running a kitchen at a small Hawaiian hotel – she’d be crazy not to take it.

The only problem is, the man running the hotel drives her crazy: Logan Shephard. It doesn’t matter that he’s got dark brown eyes, a tall, muscular build that’s sculpted from daily surfing sessions, and a deep Australian accent that makes your toes curl. What does matter is that he’s a grump. Kind of an asshole, too. And gets under Ronnie’s skin like no one else.

But the more time Ronnie spends on the island of Kauai, falling in love with the lush land and its carefree lifestyle, the closer she gets to Logan. And the closer she gets to Logan, the more she realizes she may have pegged him all wrong. Maybe it’s the hot, steamy jungles or the invigorating ocean air, but soon their relationship becomes utterly intoxicating.

There’s just one major catch.

The two of them together would incite a scandal neither Ronnie, nor her family, would ever recover from.

Forbidden, Illicit, off-limits – sometimes the heat is worth surrendering to, even if you get burned.

Note: this is a standalone novel, unrelated to any previous books. It does NOT contain cheating of any kind.

AMAZON | Amazon Paperback | iBooks | B&N

  heat-wave-teaser-2  

PROLOGUE

I saw him first.
It shamed me to think it then, it shames me to think it now.
But that’s what the truth does to you sometimes. It shames you because it’s only in the truth that you realize how human you really are. What a raw, devastating thing that is, to embrace your humanity and learn to live with all your sharp points, the hollow places, the cracks and the crevices. To be utterly real. To be terribly flawed.
Those cracks had always been forming inside me, slowly making their way to the surface over the years. In my family, there wasn’t much you could do but try and hold yourself together, to stick glue on your wounds, to paste over the imperfections. But the cracks still grew, until all of us were held together by crumbling cement, just statues waiting to collapse.
That was years and years ago. I was just twenty-two at the time. A baby. I’m still a baby in the grand scheme of things, but there’s something precious about your early twenties, where you think you’re so much older, bigger, than you are, where life is just about to deliver the crushing blows that will knock you off your feet for the rest of your days. The small things become the big things and the big things become the small things and you aren’t quite sure when they made the switch.
But in the end, I saw him first. He was mine, even before he knew it. He was mine in some strange way that I still don’t understand. The only way I can think of to explain it is…
You just know.
There are moments in your life, people in your life, that when they cross your path and meet your eye, you know. Maybe it’s all in the chemistry, certain pheromones that react when they mix together, maybe it’s a smell that triggers a memory, maybe it’s a glimpse at a future you don’t recognize or a hint at the past, a life you’ve lived and forgotten. Whatever it is, you know that moment, that person, is going to shape you for the rest of your life.
That’s what it was like when I saw him. Standing over by the windows and staring out Lake Michigan, like he was wishing he could be anywhere but there.
I wished the same. My mother’s the deputy mayor of Chicago and this was another one of her fundraisers I felt obliged to attend. It was tradition in my family, for my father, for me, for my sister, to show up and wave the flag of support. It didn’t seem to matter that the stuffy politicians that surrounded these events never paid me any attention. And if they did, it was the wrong kind of attention, always the sixty-year-old man leering after the young thing with the nice smile.
Luckily I didn’t smile all that often. My resting bitch face took over whenever I was deep in thought, which was pretty much all the time.
But this guy…I felt a kinship with him. I felt like I knew exactly what he was thinking, feeling, and that it was completely wrapped up in and connected to everything that was going through me.
I don’t know where I found the nerve to go over and talk to him. He seemed so much older, not quite the sixty-year-old politicians I was used to seeing, but maybe in his early-thirties. More than that, there was some kind of aura around him. Sounds stupid, I know. Whatever it was, it was like he belonged in some whole other universe than here, a star on earth, permanently grounded and yearning to be in the sky.
It was usually Juliet’s job to go around and make everyone feel warm and comfortable at these events—hell, in every event—but she wasn’t here yet. And though I could have easily stayed in the shadows, I was pulled to him, like he had a wave of gravity whirling around him.
I remember what I was wearing. Strappy flats because I hated wearing heels, a knee-length cocktail dress in emerald green, sleeveless, high-neck. It made me look older and I wore it because my mother always wanted me to look like a lady.
With a glass of champagne in hand, I made my way over to the windows, my heart racing the closer I got to him. He looked taller up close, well over six feet. His shoulders were broad, like a swimmer’s, and suddenly I had a vision of him diving into the lake. The navy blue suit he was wearing looked well-tailored but he seemed uncomfortable in it, like he couldn’t wait to get rid of it.
I stood beside him for a moment, following his gaze out the window. He seemed lost in his thoughts but out of my peripheral his head tilted slightly and he brought his eyes over to me while I kept staring at that wide expanse of water, stretching out to the horizon.
“Can’t wait to get out of here?” I asked, but though my tone was mild, my delivery was bold. It was as if someone else had taken a hold of my body, forcing me to speak. I slowly turned my head to meet his eyes.
I was taken aback for a second. He was staring at me like he knew me, even though I’d never seen him before. Then again, I was sure I’d been staring at him in the same way. That feeling of knowing. He knew me, I knew him, and who the hell knows how that was possible.
His eyes were brown—are brown—dark with currents of gold and amber, giving them beautiful clarity. Slightly almond shaped. His brows were also dark, arched, adding to the intensity of his gaze. He’s the type of guy whose eyes latch onto you, dig deep, trying to sift through the files of your life, see who you really are.
“How did you know?” he asked, a full-on Australian accent rumbling through his gruff voice. It made my stomach flip, my core smolder. How deed you now, is what it sounded like. Funny how I stopped hearing the accent after time.
I gave a half shrug and looked back to the party. More people had flooded the room, mingling around the appetizers. My mother was in the corner, a crowd of politicians around her. She didn’t see me. She never did.
“Because I think I’d rather be in the middle of Lake Michigan too,” I told him, “then be stuck here with all these people.”
“These people,” he repeated. My focus was drawn to his lips, full, wide, tilting up into a smirk. Beneath them was a strong chin and even sharper jaw, dusted with a five o’clock shadow that seemed permanent, like the man couldn’t get a clean shave even if he tried. “How do you know I’m not one of these people?”
“Because you’re over here and not over there. How come you keep answering my questions with more questions?”
He studied me for a moment. My blood pounded in my head and I felt a giddy kind of thrill at how this was progressing. If anything, I was proud for holding my own with this handsome stranger. He was the first man I ever really felt at ease with.
He cleared his throat, offered me a quick smile before he nodded at the lake, his hands sliding into his pockets. “She almost looks like the ocean, doesn’t she?”
“Not quite the same as Australia, I would imagine.”
“No hiding this accent, is there?” He glanced at me and stuck out his hand, which I shook for a moment, warm palm to warm palm. “I’m Logan Shepard. Australian. And the reason I’m here is because I was invited by a friend of mine. I’m only in town for a few days and he didn’t want to go alone. He’s over there.” He nodded at a tall black man in the corner, listening intently to another man.
“Warren Jones,” he said, as if I should know him. Perhaps I should. He probably thought I was one of them. “He’s local and the key piece to my investment.”
I wasn’t one for business talk—I never had anything to contribute other than lamenting student loans—but I wanted him to keep talking. “What’s your investment?”
“Starting my own hotel,” he said. “In Hawaii. Have you ever been there?”
“Once. When I was eight. I think we were in Honolulu. I remember a city, anyway. Waikiki Beach.”
“This hotel is in Kauai. The Garden Isle. Went there once as a teenager and couldn’t get it out of my mind.”
I didn’t know the right things to say. I wanted to ask more about the hotel, what it means when you have an investor, but I didn’t want to appear dumb. I kept my mouth shut.
“You haven’t introduced yourself,” he said. “Protecting a secret identity?”
I smiled, close-lipped. “Not really. I’m Veronica Locke. American. And I unfortunately I don’t have much else to add to that.”
“Locke?” he repeated, eyes darting to my mother. “Are you the daughter of the deputy mayor, Rose Locke?”
“One of them,” I told him.
He nodded quickly. “I see. No wonder you’d rather be in the middle of the bloody lake. I bet you have to do this stuff all the time.”
“It’s not so bad.” I took a sip of my drink so I didn’t have to say anything more and looked away at the crowd. The bubbles teased my nose, making my eyes water.
I could feel his gaze on me as he spoke. “I’m sure you have plenty more to say about yourself though. Where do you work? Student?”
“Culinary arts,” I told him. “I’m one of those crazy people who dream of being a chef one day.”
He frowned. “Why is that crazy?”
I gave him a look, forgetting that most people have no idea how hard it is. “Because it’s a long road, long hours, and nothing is guaranteed. People think being a chef is easy. They see Gordon Ramsey or Nigella Lawson and think it’s all fame and food and money and they have no idea what it’s really like. I’m not even out of school and already I feel half-beaten.”
He was still frowning. He did that a lot, I would soon learn. “Sounds like life to me.” His eyes dropped to my lips and something intensely carnal came over them, like suddenly I was the food, not the wannabe chef. “Did you want to get a drink somewhere. After this? When you’ve done your daughterly duties?”
I swallowed hard. I didn’t know what a drink meant. Just a drink? A date? Was it sex? I started going through my head, trying to think of reasons why it was a bad idea. My legs were shaved, did my bra and underwear match? Did I have a condom? I had taken the pill this morning, even though my last boyfriend and I had broken up months ago. I hadn’t been with a guy, let alone a man, in a long time.
Don’t flatter yourself, I quickly thought. What makes you think he’d be interested in you that way?
“Yes,” I said when I finally found my voice. “Yes, I would like that.”
A spark flashed in his eyes, lighting them up in such a way that made my toes literally curl. Damn. I was in trouble with this man. “Any way you can get out of your duties sooner?” he asked.
I couldn’t help but smile, raising my brow at his presumptuousness, while simultaneously trying to hide the fact that I was freaking out. I looked around the room and tried to judge how likely it was that someone would notice if I was gone. My mom was still surrounded by a wall of people and no one was paying any attention to us, standing by the windows, already removed.
A sad thought hit me, sliding past before I could really dwell on it: no one even notices when I’m here.
“If we’re quick and sneaky,” I told him.
“Being quick isn’t in my repertoire,” he said, “but I could give it a shot.”
Again. Damn. I wasn’t one to blush but I could feel my cheeks heating up and hoped my skin supressed the flush. He was so much older than me in so many ways, the last thing I wanted was to appear the naïve schoolgirl.
And I didn’t know what to say to that. He was staring at me with those dark eyes, a look so intense yet sparkling with charm and something…wicked.
I’d never find out how wicked they could be.
“Ronnie!” A melodic, ultra-feminine voice sliced through the moment like an unwieldy machete, causing me to flinch, my fingers tightening around the stem of the glass.
Oh no, I thought. Not now.
Logan’s head swiveled toward the sound of the voice, like a hound picking up a scent. I didn’t bother looking over, I kept my focus on him, watching his expression intently. It changed, as I knew it would.
She had walked into the room.
He saw her.
And like it was for so many men, that look of lust I had thought was for me, was now for her.
That’s when I knew it was over. Whatever thing I had felt for him, it didn’t matter anymore, not when she was in the room. Nothing ever mattered as long as she was around.
I might have saw him first.
But he was all hers after that.
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AUTHOR
Halle HeadshotKarina Halle is a former travel writer and music journalist and The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling author of The Pact, Racing the Sun, Sins & Needles and over 25 other wild and romantic reads. She lives on an island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband and her rescue pup, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails and devours a lot of books.

Halle is represented by the Waxman Leavell Agency and is both self-published and published by Simon & Schuster and Hachette in North America and in the UK.

Hit her up on Instagram at @authorHalle, on Twitter at @MetalBlonde and on Facebook. You can also visit www.authorkarinahalle.com and sign up for the newsletter for news, excerpts, previews, private book signing sales and more.