For YA & Adult Readers!

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First Look: Forbidden Promises by Katee Robert, Plus a Giveaway

Meet Jude and Sloan in the next O'Malleys Story!
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Blog Tour Event: Daring the Pilot by Jeannie Moon

Keely and Jonah drop everything to fight for what matters, including each other.
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Blog Tour: After the Dark by Cynthia Eden, Now Available!

In New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Eden's gripping new series, a disgraced FBI profiler must save her reputation by stopping a sadistic killer she knows all too well.
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Blog Tour: Hard Justice by Lori Foster, Now Available!

NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Lori Foster returns with the second installment in her explosive new series featuring sexy bodyguards who’ll do anything to protect the ones they love.
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Sneak Peak of Second Circle Tattoos Spinoff: Jordan Reclaimed!

Preview Scarlett Cole's latest novel.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Welcome to the Wedding from Hell!



Don’t miss #1 New York Times bestselling author J.R. Ward’s three-part ebook serialization: The Wedding From Hell. This exclusive prequel to her upcoming standalone suspense Consumed (available in October 2018) takes us back to where it all started between arson investigator Anne Ashburn and ‘bad boy’ firefighter Danny Maguire. The Wedding From Hell is a sexy standalone novella that sets up Consumed’s storyline, leaving fans hungry for more and dying to snatch it up.

The Wedding From Hell, Part 1: The Rehearsal Dinner: It’s a classic recipe for disaster: Take one bridesmaid who thinks pink is the root of all evil, mix with a best man who’s hotter than a four-alarm fire, add in their explosive sexual attraction, a nightmare bridezilla, two cat fights, and an emergency call, and you have the wedding from hell.


Experience the sizzling start of Anne and Danny’s intense relationship. Is this the start of something good...or just an erotic one-night stand that rocks their world, but must never be repeated?
The Rehearsal Dinner
The Wedding from Hell, Part 1
J.R. Ward
Pub Date: 7/17/18
Gallery Books
Amazon | B&N | Simon & Schuster


Excerpt:

Thursday, October 29
T minus 48 hours ’til blastoff
College Row, New Brunswick, Massachusetts

Because women are not frickin’ groomsmen! That’s why she can’t be in the goddamn wedding!”
As Anne Ashburn walked in the back door of the shotgun apartment, that happy little explosion was not only what she’d expected all along, it also offered her the out she’d been praying for. And it was probably the one and only time she was ever going to agree with the bride.
Not about the role of females in bridal parties, but that Anne wasn’t going to be in the “goddamn wedding.”
Everyone standing in the kitchen turned and looked at her: Deandra Cox, the impending wearer of the white dress; Robert “Moose” Miller, her exhausted fiancé and Anne’s fellow crew member down at the 499 fi rehouse; and . . . Dannyboy Maguire.
Who was the only one she really noticed and, for that reason, the person she refused to look at.
Too bad Danny always made an impression. Like most firefighters, he was in great physical shape, his big body thickly muscled and ready to snap into motion in an instant. With his heavy arms linked over that chest and his long legs crossed at the boots, he was leaning back against the chipped countertop, his too-blue stare missing nothing. He was fresh from a shower, his glossy black hair wet, and Anne tried not to picture him naked under the spray, his tattooed torso arching as he rinsed the shampoo out of his—
She put her hands up to stop herself as much as the argument. “Look, I don’t want to cause any problems. I’m happy to step aside—”
“And now I have one too many bridesmaids.” The bride-to-be refocused on her intended. “My count is wrong. You wait until two days before the wedding to tell me this when you know I’m not going to like it, and now my count is off!”
As the groom focused on the linoleum floor, it was impossible not to picture a wax version of the couple on a multi-tiered cake: Deandra in skinny jeans and that tight cashmere sweater, her dark hair streaked blond, her body cocked forward like she was going to throat-punch the man she was going to marry; Moose in his New Brunswick Fire Department T-shirt, all broad-shouldered and bearded around the face, easing back like someone with the flu was about to sneeze in his face.
Ah, true love.
“I didn’t think it was a big deal,” Moose muttered. “Anne’s a member of the four-nine-nine crew, and everyone else is with me.”
“She’s a girl.” Deandra pointed at Anne. “It throws off everything.”
“I really don’t want to cause any problems.” Anne put her hands up again. “So I’ll just be in the congregation. It’s perfectly fine—”
Deandra’s glare swung Anne’s way. “The count is still wrong. And my friends have already paid for their dresses. They were a hundred and twenty dollars apiece.”
And that’s my cue to go, Anne thought. Moose may have volunteered for this, but no one else had or needed to—
“I think women can be whatever they want.”
As Danny spoke up, everyone looked at him—including Anne, who suddenly felt shades of what Deandra was throwing out.
Don’t you dare, she mouthed at him behind the bride’s back.
Danny just shrugged like he’d thrown on a pantsuit and was channeling Oprah, Michelle Obama, and Hillary Clinton all at once. “I mean, Deandra, you’re above all that sexism, aren’t you? No one’s going to tell you what’s right and wrong for your own wedding. You’re more secure than that.”
I am going to kill you, Anne vowed“I think Deandra wants things done properly for her only wedding.”
Danny frowned in pseudo-confusion. “So you’re saying it’s okay to have a double standard for men and women? That’s a shocker given how you are at the station. I thought you believed in equality.”
“I do,” Anne snapped. “But this isn’t about equality.”
“You sure? I don’t know how you can support traditional gender roles when it comes to a wedding ceremony at the same time you defend the right for women to be firefighters, cops, and on the front lines in the military.”
“Spare me someone who’s never been in a dress having an opinion about women’s issues, okay?”
“I’m just pointing out that you don’t want women out of dresses.”
“It’s her wedding.” Anne jabbed a finger at Deandra. “She’s the bride. She gets to say what’s right and wrong for her, and she does not need some man telling her what to do.”
“Even if I’m defending the rights of women?”
“Until you grow a set of ovaries, you can shut the hell up about our rights!”
As Anne’s voice ricocheted around the kitchen, she realized that she’d marched right up to Danny—and that Deandra and Moose were watching the two of them in total stillness.
She cleared her throat and took a step back. “Anyway, Deandra’s made up her mind. And I support her decision.”
Deandra’s eyes narrowed on Danny, and something about the way the woman looked at him didn’t seem right.
“Actually,” the bride said, “maybe she should be in the wedding party.”
Anne prayed her expression stayed neutral. “Don’t compromise your vision on my account.”
“I won’t.” The woman stared at Danny. “Fine. Let’s put her in a tuxedo like the rest of the men. She can walk my sister down the aisle, just like a man should. Her shoulders are too big for a gown, anyway, and that way my count stays the way it should.”
Anne rolled her eyes. Let’s hear it for girl power.
“So it’s settled,” Deandra said with a tight smile. “You need a tux. Unless you already own one.”
For a moment, Anne waited for somebody to argue with the woman. Like Moose. But he was clearly done falling on swords over the wedding details, and Danny had just gotten what he wanted so he wasn’t going to say a damn thing.
And the truth was, after how many years of fighting fires with these men, they were her brothers in all but blood. Even though she thought Moose had lost his ever-loving mind marrying this beautiful but sour woman after knowing her for a matter of months, Anne was still going to stand up for the guy if he wanted her to—and he did. He’d asked her down at the stationhouse specifically.
“Where did you guys rent your suits?” Anne said to him.
“Tuxedoes,” Deandra corrected.
The groom blinked like he’d forgotten how to speak English. Then again, he’d been doing that a lot at the firehouse lately. “You’re actually going to wear one?”
“What the hell do I care?”
“Yes, she is wearing one,” Deandra cut in.

Danny spoke up. “I’ll go with you. I know where the place is.”


Stay tuned for part 2:
About the author:
J.R. Ward is the author of more than thirty novels, including those in her #1 New York Times bestselling Black Dagger Brotherhood series. There are more than fifteen million copies of her novels in print worldwide, and they have been published in twenty-six different countries around the world. She lives in the South with her family.

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Friday, July 13, 2018

Cover Reveal: Darkest Heart by Juliette Cross

I'm so excited to share this beautiful cover with you all! Darkest Heart is the first in an all new paranormal series from Juliette Cross. Learn more about the book below and take time to gush over this amazing cover!


Anya—a stoic, blue-winged angelic warrior—was bitten by a demon prince in battle, and now she has precious little time to find a cure for his deadly venom. But the only archangel with the power to stop the dark poison from corrupting her body and soul is missing. She’ll have to trust her guide, the outcast high demon Dommiel, who is as handsome as he is dangerous if she has any hope.

An outcast of his own kind, high demon Dommiel stays under cover while the war between angels and demons rages on. When the only person who ever showed him kindness asks for his help, he has no choice but to try to save the angel. Venturing back into the dens he has avoided for so long, Anya makes him want and feel things he never thought possible.

But Dommiel knows there is no way an angel can ever love a demon…
Darkest Heart
Dominion #1
Juliette Cross

Pub Date: 8/20/18
Entangled Amara


About Juliette Cross:


JULIETTE is a multi-published author of paranormal and fantasy romance. She is represented by Rachel Brooks at BookEnds Literary Agency. She calls lush, moss-laden Louisiana home where she lives with her husband, four kids, and black lab named Kona. From the moment she read JANE EYRE as a teenager, she fell in love with the Gothic romance--alluring settings, persevering heroines, and dark, sexy heroes. Even then, she not only longed to read more books set in Gothic worlds, she wanted to create her own. 

Connect with Juliette: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Street Team | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads
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Monday, July 9, 2018

Heart of Glass Will Break Your Heart (Review)

The next standalone novel from Nicole Jacquelyn about love, friendship, and forgiveness. 








Henry Harris was living his dream as a staff sergeant in the Marines. When he's killed in action, his devastated family is in for one more shock: he had a daughter they never knew about.

Morgan Riley has been raising Etta on her own, and that's always been fine by her - until Henry's brother Trevor arrives on her doorstep, willing to do anything to help and make up for his brother's mistakes. Their attraction feels wrong, but Morgan can't seem to turn him away.

Trevor is suddenly in too deep. He has always wanted a family, but Etta and Morgan come with complications. Yet as Etta brings them closer together, Trevor begins to imagine giving Morgan and Etta the life his brother never could. But he wonders if Morgan will ever learn to trust another man with her heart, especially a man whose last name is Harris.

Heart of Glass
Fostering Love #3
Nicole Jacquelyn
Pub Date: 7/10/18
Forever
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Rating: 5/5
Amazon | B&N | Kobo


The Fostering Love series is a treasure I stumbled upon when I picked up Heart of Glass. Nicole Jacquelyn pulls on the heart strings as a single mother comes into contact with her daughter's other family. When Etta's father's adopted brother pays a visit on behalf of the family, Morgan must decide whether she's willing to let them in. Readers will dive into this blend of romance and family drama with gusto and finish in record time!

The characters in this story are all struggling to return to normal life after the death of Henry Harris. For Trevor, it means cleaning up the mess his little brother left when he kept his own daughter a secret and left Morgan to raise her alone. At first glance I thought this would be a complex tale, but it's quite straightforward. The most complicated it gets is when Trevor and Morgan fight their attraction and attempt to sort out their feelings. Morgan and Trevor both have backgrounds in foster care, but time and experience turned out two opposite natured individuals. She refuses any offer of help, and won't ask for it, while Trevor is always looking for a chance to give a helping hand. I love that their differences were directly opposing because it made for an interesting read to see how they would work it out on top of their complicated family structure.

There's a lot of tension between Trevor's mom and Morgan that stems from the loss of Henry and Morgan's fear of not being a good enough mom. I love that it wasn't glossed over or resolved easily because forming family connection is always a piece of cake.

Jacquelyn adds a heavy dose of reality to her writing that will draw in readers from any background. Heart of Glass, and the companion novels of the Fostering Love series, is perfect for fans of Jamie McGuire or Catherine Bybee!
*ARC provided in consideration for review*

Explore the series:

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Friday, July 6, 2018

Carolyn Brown Shares the Top 5 Biggest Scandals in Bloom, Texas! (Plus Review + Giveaway)


From New York Times bestselling author Carolyn Brown comes a funny heartache of a novel about overcoming the past, confronting the future, and defying all expectations.

Everyone is talking about Jennie Sue Baker and the mess she made of her life in New York. The former high school queen bee—and wealthy darling of Bloom, Texas—has returned home after all these years, riding on a common bus and bearing two bounced alimony checks. In a town that thrives on gossip, Jennie’s fall from grace has shamed her mother, set the town buzzing, and caused old, jealous enemies to whisper in delight. They say she’s taken a job as a housekeeper, gotten a garage apartment, and might be crushing on Rick Lawson, a simple farmer with modest dreams.
As romance starts to bud, Jennie relishes what it means to follow her heart, find real new friends, and finally be herself—regardless of all the lying town chatter. But fate has another twist in store. Rumor has it that Jennie now stands to lose what matters most…unless she can convince Rick of one true thing—and that’s love.

Small Town Rumors
Carolyn Brown
Pub Date: 7/3/18
Montlake Romance
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Rating: 5/5
Amazon | B&N



Carolyn Brown effortlessly drawers readers into the lives of well-meaning residents of Bloom, Texas. Small Town Rumors, humorous and sweet, follows Jennie Sue Baker to Bloom where the rumors run rampant of her return home. While the truth is more heartbreaking than anyone may guess, Jennie Sue is determined to find the place she belongs and heal from the turmoil of the past.


I don't even know where to begin to describe how much I loved this story. The characters were real and so easy to connect with. From Cricket, who hates Jennie Sue based on their differences in high school, to the Clifford sisters who gave Jennie Sue her first taste of true friendship, I couldn't get enough of their antics and drama! On the other hand, there's a serious aspect to the plot that makes you thankful for the levity. So much of this story broke my heart for Jennie Sue as she breaks free of the mold her mother is trying to force her into and live her own life.

Carolyn Brown is quickly becoming a new favorite author! Her way of writing is down to the point without leaving readers empty of pining for more information on the main characters. I felt like I was plunked down into the middle Jennie Sue's story, but everything that happened before I met her was dished out in due time. Small Town Rumors is one of those small town romances that fills you up with lighthearted sweetness and just enough humor to temper the heartache. I highly recommend to fans of  Catherine Anderson or Jennifer Probst!
*ARC provided in consideration for review*


Top 5 Biggest Scandals in Bloom, Texas by Carolyn Brown


Welcome to Bloom, Texas, where the gossip is hotter’n than the peppers in Rick’s garden. Bloom is located just north of Sweetwater where the land is so flat that you can see all the way to where the earth curves. Well, maybe not that far but it goes out there for miles until it finally meets the sky. It always reminds me of a child’s drawing. He/she makes a line on their paper. Above it is sky with fluffy clouds. Below it is grass with wild flowers. The streets are wide and the bus comes through on the way to Sweetwater once a day.

If you want to hear the local gossip, just stop by the Main Street Café. You’ll love the burger baskets and sweet tea, but if you listen closely, you can learn who didn’t come to church on Sunday and why, who died, who had a baby and whether or not she was married. The list goes on and on, so don’t bypass the café as you wander up and down Main Street. Oh, and ask Elaine, the owner, to fix you up with a large sweet tea to go when you leave.

A couple of doors down, you’ll see a used book store. Go right on in and Amos will tell you the whole history of Bloom. If you have a seat on the sofa inside the front door, he’ll entertain you until all that sweet tea is gone with stories about the folks in town. Don’t be shy, now. He loves company.

As a stranger, you probably won’t be invited to one of the Sweetwater Belle’s club meetings, but even their exclusive meetings aren’t so secret in Bloom. After all everyone knows everything about everyone. They know what they did with whom, where it happened and what time they got home afterwards. Then they read The Bloom Daily News to see who got caught!

After all, gossip is the life blood of the community. It’s what drives the people to get out in the blistering hot sun and go to town. It’s what sets the phone lines to smoking, and why there’s more than one cell tower pretty close to the town.

There were, have been, are will be many scandals in Bloom. But five come to mind. First is the fact that Jennie Sue’s dad has been having affairs for years and every year the mistress gets younger and younger. He has his reasons but Jennie Sue doesn’t know them until she comes home. Second would be the fact that she arrives in town, right there on Main Street on a bus. Not in a rented car from an airport. Not even in her own little fancy sports vehicle, but a bus! That alone will put a strain on the phone company. Third is that she intends to be independent and since her father won’t give her a job in the oil company, she agrees to clean houses for two elderly sisters, Lettie and Nadine, who are the biggest gossips in Bloom, Texas. Fourth is that she’s seen with Rick, a local farmer, and even worse that she’s working on his farm for no money but for vegetables as pay. And number five that she has a baby buried in an unmarked grave at the Bloom cemetery. Now when that last one hits the gossip vine, it really will be hotter’n the peppers in Rick’s garden!

Excerpt: Small Town Rumors 



“Well, well, well! Are you leaving us already? You only got here yesterday.” Lettie shoved the suitcase over and sat down across the table from Jennie Sue. Short, as round as Mabel, and sporting a kinky hairdo that had gone out of style years ago, Lettie hadn’t changed since Jennie Sue was a little girl.

“Yes, ma’am,” Jennie Sue answered. “How have you been, Miz Lettie?”

“Elaine, I’ll have a big stack of pancakes and two orders of bacon,” Lettie called out across the café.

“Got it,” Elaine yelled.

“So where are you going?” Lettie turned back to Jennie Sue.

“To find a job,” she answered.

“What kind of skills and experience do you have?”
Elaine crossed the floor and set Jennie Sue’s breakfast in front of her. “Millie will bring out your order shortly, Miz Lettie.”

“No rush. Just send me a cup of coffee, and I’ll be happy until it gets here.” Lettie waved her away with a flick of the wrist and turned back to Jennie Sue. “Now, you were about to tell me about your work experience.”

Jennie Sue picked up the saltshaker and applied an unhealthy dose to her eggs. “I have no experience, but I do have a business degree. The only thing I’m good at is keeping a clean house and organizing fund-raisers and parties.”

“Hmm.” Lettie pursed her lips. “So why didn’t you have a housekeeper up there in New York?”

“Percy was never pleased with the way they cleaned.”

“Was?” Lettie asked.

“Been divorced for over a year.”

“Oh, really?” Lettie cocked her head to one side.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Me and my sister, Nadine, lost our housekeeper a couple of weeks ago. The lady that worked for us cleaned for me on Friday and Nadine on Thursday. You interested?”

Charlotte would probably go into cardiac arrest if Jennie Sue became nothing more than a maid for her archenemies. But hey, it was a job, and Jennie Sue damn sure knew how to clean a house so well that it would pass judgment in the courts of heaven.

“I might be interested if you could point me in the direction of an apartment or a rental house of some kind that wouldn’t be too expensive,” Jennie Sue answered.

“I got an apartment over my garage. It’s pretty small, but it’ll work for a single person. I’d be willing to rent it to you furnished. You’ll clean for me on Friday each week, but the last week in the month, you won’t get paid. That’ll be your rent,” Lettie said.

Jennie Sue could imagine Charlotte throwing whatever she could get her hands on at the wall when one of the Belles called her with that bit of news. Even if she was angry with her mother over trying to mold her into another Wilshire woman, she couldn’t do that to her mother—or could she? How else would she be independent?

She picked up a piece of crisp bacon with her fingers and took a bite while she thought about the offer. It was a job that she could do. It was a place for her to live. She didn’t have to live in a shelter or sleep on a park bench. However, her mother would never speak to her again, and the rumors would be so hot that they might burn down the whole town of Bloom.
***

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway



About the Author
Carolyn Brown is a New York TimesUSA TodayPublishers Weekly, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author and a RITA finalist with more than ninety published books, which include women’s fiction and historical, contemporary, and cowboys-and-country-music romance. She and her husband live in the small town of Davis, Oklahoma—where everyone knows everyone else and knows what they’re doing and when—and they read the local newspaper on Wednesday to see who got caught. They have three grown children and enough grandchildren to keep them young.

Connect with Carolyn: Website | Facebook | Goodreads
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Friday, June 29, 2018

A Captivating Historical: JILLIAND (Review)



“Bruised, bloody, and barely dressed, she knew it was over. She had no doubt the Vikings would search for her if she tried to run—especially now, with their companion lying dead. It would be dark soon, and she had no idea where she could go or hide. Jilliand knew they would come for her. The Vikings were not likely to let this go—especially it being an attack by a woman. She was defeated. Weak and shaking, she stared at the man’s body. I think tonight I die.” 
Jilliand: A Story of Love and Freedom
Clare Gutierrez
Pub Date: 4/17/18
River Grove (Greenleaf Book Group)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Amazon | B&N | Kobo


In Jilliand, Clare Gutierrez creates the perfect blend of war, romance, politics, and 9th century Viking and English culture. I really enjoyed reading Jilliand because it's so captivating from the setting to the characters. Jilliand's journey is filled with many hardships starting with an escape from her abusive father into a world so completely unknown to her.

This story is so easy to sink into as Jilliand learns to survive and grow into a brave woman. When her path crosses with Viking sea king Rurik, Jilliand faces an even greater challenge. She has to find a place among the fierce warriors who live harsh lives and worship different gods. Rurik and Jilliand are two completely different types of characters but they complement each other. I loved reading the story through each of their eyes and it made the story interesting and unpredictable. I never knew what would happen next in the story, but each new situation was a cause to read faster to see how Jilliand made out. The plot is full of ups and downs, which will appeal to the emotional side of readers. I like that nothing came easily for Jilliand, but she fought for the future anyway. She's one of those rare heroines that inspire hope and independence without a lot of second guessing or complaining.

Jilliand is definitely a story for historical fiction readers, especially if you love the romantic aspect of the story, of course, for which I read greedily! It will be hard to leave this story when you've finished reading, and it will stick with you long after!
*ARC provided in consideration for review*
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Thursday, June 28, 2018

Pre-Order Alert: MAKE ME CRAVE by Katee Robert


Have you Pre-ordered MAKE ME CRAVE Yet? 

In MAKE ME CRAVE by NYT Bestselling Author, Katee Robert, Roman Bassani will do anything to close a deal. Even chase down Allie Landers on her Caribbean vacation to make an offer on her company.

Pre-order MAKE ME CRAVE and add it to your TBR pile on Goodreads! Then keep reading to get a sneak peek excerpt and enter the giveaway for a $25 Amazon gift card or one of three (3) ebooks from Katee Robert’s backlist! 

About Make Me Crave:








“I crave you…”

Can their hunger be satisfied? 

Roman Bassani will do anything to close a deal. Even chase down Allie Landers on her Caribbean vacation to make an offer on her company. He expects a challenge—but not their immediate intense attraction. After an accidental one-night stand they agree to put business aside—for now. The island lulls them into a heated sexual journey…but what happens to their opposing interests when they return from paradise?

“Dare is Harlequin’s hottest line yet. Every book should come with a free fan. I dare you to try them!”

—Tiffany Reisz, international bestselling author

Make Me Crave
Make Me #2
Katee Robert
Pub Date: 7/1/18
Harlequin DARE
Amazon | Kobo | B&N | iTunes


Praise for Make Me Crave

“Make me Crave by Katee Robert is such an amazing and captivating read that you will not put it down. Sexy, fiesty, hotness, chemistry, laughter and love Make me Crave is a must read for all book lovers. This is hands down in my opinion the best book that I have ever read by Katee Roberts.”—Goodreads review
“Wow! I can't emphasize enough how much I loved Make Me Crave (Make Me #2). It has sass, steam and great characters with loads of chemistry. Katee Robert is definitely an author on my ‘must read’ list.”—Goodreads review

“Hello Adonis! Roman is just...yeah. I mean, sex on a stick with a good heart (despite his past misdeeds), and a more than capable brain! Allie is his perfect match and their time together sets the pages on fire while making you root for them to get more than just the pleasure they find from each other on the island! A great book!”—Goodreads review



Make Me Crave Excerpt
Copyright © 2018 Katee Robert


Tomorrow would be soon enough for them to go exploring and try out the stand-up paddleboards Allie had eyed when she’d checked out the beach.
Her face heated at the fact she’d been caught topless sunbathing. Whoever that guy was, he’d been far off enough that she couldn’t clearly see his face. Those shoulders, though… Allie shivered. Even at a distance, she’d seen the cut of his muscles and how purposefully he’d maneuvered the kayak through the turquoise waters. The island must have already gone to her head, because she’d spent a truly insane moment hoping he’d come to shore so she could get a better look at him.
Maybe more than a better look.
Allie laughed at her fanciful thoughts. Vacation hookups were all well and good, but if that was what she’d wanted, she’d chosen the wrong place to go. Isolation and relaxation were the name of the game on West Island, which was exactly what she’d craved when she let Becka talk her into booking the trip. It was the exact opposite of New York and her life there.
But now she found herself wondering if maybe something slightly more chaotic would have been a better choice. The sun and sea had soaked into her blood and the heady feeling had her convinced anything was possible. It was only a week. The perfect length of time for a fling…
If she wasn’t on a private island in the middle of the ocean without a single man in sight.
She bypassed the little golf cart that was one of the main forms of transportation here. It felt good to walk after being cooped up on the plane and then lying prone while she sunned herself. She usually taught at least one class a day at Transcend—more if she needed to cover someone else’s schedule—so being inactive wasn’t natural for her. It was only a mile or two to the restaurant and the day had started to cool as the sun reached for the horizon. It’d be downright pleasant tonight.
She’d make sure to wake early and attend one of the yoga classes offered, and the rest of the day would be filled with activities that would keep restlessness from setting in. There was even scuba diving available, though Allie wasn’t sure she was feeling that adventurous. Snorkeling? Sure. Going deeper with only a tank and a few tubes between her and drowning? That would take a whole lot more convincing.
The path was cleared and well maintained to allow the carts to drive without problems, so she let her mind wander as she fell into a natural stride that ate up the distance without tiring her out. Every once in a while, the path would branch off in different directions, some heading toward other villas, some heading deeper inland. There was a small selection of hiking trails that offered tours of the history of the island.
She made it to the restaurant easily, and found it practically deserted. Allie paused in the doorway, wondering if she’d misunderstood the woman who’d checked them in. Maybe it was closed?
“Looks like it’s just you and me.”
She jumped and spun around. The man stood a respectable distance away, but his sheer size ate up the space and made her feel closed in. She froze. I’d recognize those shoulders anywhere. Confirming her suspicion, his gaze slid over her body as if he was reminding himself of what she looked like with nothing but what she’d worn on the beach. She tried to swallow past her suddenly dry throat. “You.”
“Me.” He finally looked her in the face, and she rocked back on her heels. The man was an Adonis. There was no other way to describe his blond perfection, from his hazel eyes to the square jaw to the cleft in his chin to the body that just wouldn’t quit. He might be wearing a shirt now, but the button-down did nothing to hide his muscle definition.
He held out a wide hand with equally perfect square fingers. “Let me buy you a drink?”
“We’re at an all-inclusive resort.”
His lips twitched, eyes twinkling. “Have a drink with me.”
Oh, he was good. Charm practically colored the air between them, and she had the inexplicable impulse to close the distance and stroke a finger along his jawline. To flick that cleft chin with her tongue.
Allie gave herself a shake. “Since we’re the only ones here, it’d be silly to sit apart.”
The look he gave her said he saw right through the excuse, and why not when it was pathetically flimsy? The truth was that this man was magnetic and she suspected she’d be drawn to him even in a room full of people. He waved a hand at the empty place. “Lady’s choice.”
“How magnanimous of you.”
“I try.”
She laughed and headed for the table in the middle of the small patio. There were half a dozen tables, and she picked a spot that put her back to the building and presented the best view of the ocean through a carefully curated gap in the foliage.
He eyed the view and then the chair on the other side of the table, and then he picked it up and set it adjacent to hers so they were sitting on a diagonal,  rather than directly across from each other. “Nice view.”
She turned to agree—and found him staring at her.
Allie wasn’t falsely modest. Life was too short to play games with body shaming and pretending she didn’t have access to a mirror. She was pretty—beautiful when she put some effort into it—but she’d given up being skinny or petite after the agony of high school, and she wasn’t athletically built like some of the women at her gym. Sure, she had muscle beneath her softness, and she could keep up with the best of them in her spin classes, but she loved food just as much as she loved to sweat, and her curves reflected that. Some guys had a problem with that, though she didn’t keep them around as soon as comments like “Should you really be eating that?” started.
This guy looked at her like he wanted to put her on the table and feast on her for dinner.
The desire stoked the flame inside her that had kindled the second she saw him. She leaned forward, checking his left hand. No ring. No tan lines, either. “What brings you to West Island?”
“It’s paradise, isn’t it? Who wouldn’t want to come here to get away from it all?”
That wasn’t quite an answer, but she was distracted by the intoxicating way his mouth moved when he spoke. Get ahold of yourself, Allie. You’re in danger of panting for him. She took a quick drink of water that did nothing to quell the heat rising with each minute she sat next to him.
Luckily, a waiter appeared to save her from saying something truly embarrassing. He outlined the menu for the night and took their drink orders, then disappeared as quickly as he’d come.
They were in the middle of one of the most beautiful places Allie had ever seen, and she couldn’t manage to tear her gaze away from this stranger. She licked her lips, every muscle in her body tensing when he followed the movement. She opened her mouth, but before she could speak, he took her hand, running his thumb over her knuckles.
The touch was innocent enough, but she felt that light movement in places that were most definitely not innocent. She didn’t have to look down to know her nipples now pressed against the thin fabric of her sundress.
His smile was slow and sinful and promised things she never would have had the gall to ask for. “This is going to sound unforgivably forward, but what do you say we get out of here and go back to my villa?”
It was crazy. More than crazy. She didn’t even know his name, and she sure as hell didn’t know anything more pertinent about him.
But there on the softly lit patio with the tropical scent of some flower she didn’t recognize and the soft shushing sound of the tide coming in, she didn’t feel like Allie, gym owner and mother hen, the responsible one who could never afford to do anything out of line or make a misstep because too many lives depended on her.
Here, she was just Allie, a woman. A woman who desperately wanted the man staring at her mouth as if he was doing everything in his power to keep from kissing her right then and there. She licked her lips again, secretly delighting in the way a muscle in his jaw jumped. “Yes.”
“Yes?”
“Yes, let’s get out of here.”
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About Katee Robert
New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Katee Robert learned to tell her stories at her grandpa’s knee. Her 2015 title, The Marriage Contract, was a RITA finalist, and RT Book Reviews named it 'a compulsively readable book with just the right amount of suspense and tension."  When not writing sexy contemporary and romantic suspense, she spends her time playing imaginary games with her children, driving her husband batty with what-if questions, and planning for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. 

Connect with Katee at: Website | Facebook | Twitter| GoodReads | Instagram 

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