TATTERED by Devney Perry – Excerpt Reveal

 

 

Thea Landry has always known her place in modern-day society. It’s somewhere just above the trash can her mother dumped her in as a newborn but below the class where much comes easy. With her tattered shoes and bargain-bin clothes, her life has never been full of glamour.

So when a rich and charismatic man takes interest, she doesn’t fool herself into thinking their encounter is anything more than a one-night stand. Months later, she’s kicking herself for not getting his phone number. Or his last name. She’s given up hope of seeing him ever again.

Until one day, years later, Logan Kendrick waltzes into her life once more and turns everything she’s built upside down. This time around, she won’t make the same mistake. She’s going to fight to keep him in her life—not for herself.

But for their daughter.

 

 

 

 

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“Yes!” My arms shot in the air. I punched the air a couple of times before clapping and shouting, “Way to go, Charlie! Nice save!”

I was so damn proud. I hoped she could hear me yelling. Her success felt better than any I’d ever had personally, and I’d known her for just a couple days.

Parental pride was incredible.

And I wasn’t alone in my feelings. When I stopped cheering for my daughter, I looked to my side to see that Thea had gotten off the blanket and was cheering too. Her smile was beaming, brighter than any I’d seen before.

“Couldn’t stay seated?” I nudged her elbow with mine.

“Quiet, gorgeous.”

Gorgeous.

I’d been given nicknames in the past by women. My girlfriend in high school had called me Lo-Lo. Emmeline used to call me darling. Alice had annoyed the fuck out of me by whispering stud in my ear. I hadn’t really liked any of them, not even Emmeline’s.

But Thea’s gorgeous was hot as hell.

Mostly because she said it with that smile.

She could call me an asshole or a douchebag with that smile and I wouldn’t care.

08

 

Devney is the USA Today bestselling author of the Jamison Valley series. She lives in Montana with her husband and two children. After working in the technology industry for nearly a decade, she abandoned conference calls and project schedules to enjoy a slower pace at home with her kids. She loves reading and, after consuming hundreds of books, decided to share her own stories. Devney loves hearing from readers! Connect with her on social media.

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Available Now: UNLOCKING LIES by Kennedy Layne

UNLOCKING LIES by Kennedy Layne is available now! Get your hands on the next installment in this incredible romantic suspense series – you don’t want to miss it!

 

 About UNLOCKING LIES

Secrets and lies have a way of weaving a deadly web. Returning home from his last deployment shouldn’t have been complicated, but Jace Kendall was immediately drawn into a murder investigation that hits a little too close to home. The last thing he should be doing was reigniting old passions that should have been kept buried, but he’s never been a guy who plays by the rules.

Shae has suffered for twelve years without knowing why her sister disappeared. The long-awaited answers are now within reach, and she’ll have no choice but to trust the one man who knows more than he’s telling.

It isn’t long before Jace and Shae are lost in the mystery of solving a case that’s long gone cold. When they find the answers they’ve been looking for, a darkness is unveiled that will leave one of them in the crosshairs of a psychopath.

Add UNLOCKING LIES to your Goodreads list here!

Get your hands on UNLOCKING LIES now!

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Read an Excerpt from UNLOCKING LIES:

The cup Shae had used earlier was sitting upside down on a dishtowel. She’d washed it out before leaving this morning, allowing it to air dry. It didn’t take her long to fill the cup up with water and set it in the microwave. She pressed the appropriate time that would bring the water to the perfect temperature at which to steep tea— one hundred and seventy-five degrees Fahrenheit. It gave her time to make her way over to the bed to change into something more comfortable. It wasn’t like she was going to see anyone else tonight, and the tea needed time to cool naturally to one hundred and sixty.

Shae had managed to unpack a few items from her suitcase this morning. Her sleepwear, which consisted of shorts and t-shirts, were in the small dresser on the far wall. She rested her hand against the top drawer so she could remove her heels when her mind registered the boots lined up against the wall next to her other shoes.

Bile hit the back of her throat.

She struggled to breathe as her eyes locked onto the suede ankle boots she hadn’t seen in twelve years.

Emma had borrowed them without asking the night she disappeared. Someone had gotten inside the apartment. That someone had to be the same person who killed her sister, keeping that pair of boots all this time until they could return them to her.

Shae managed to gain her composure enough to quickly scan the open layout, looking for any hiding spot that would conceal a fully-grown man. She spun around and faced the bathroom, where the door stood half-open. Was he in there, hiding behind the shower curtain?

She didn’t stop to think as she ran for the front door.

Shae crossed the threshold and would most likely have stumbled down the steps had Jace not been standing at the top of the staircase to catch her.

She was in his arms before he could ask her what was wrong. Not even the warmth of his embrace could chase away the chill burrowed deep inside at the sight of those boots purposefully placed inside the apartment just as if she’d unpacked them herself.

“Shae?”

Jace would have pushed her away had she not done it herself first. She grabbed his wrist and tried to pull him downstairs. They needed the police. A bubble of hysteria tickled her throat at the thought of calling Kyle Foster, but someone could very well still be inside her bathroom.

“We have to go,” Shae said somewhat desperately, quickly moving around him and trying to put distance between them and the possible danger that lurked inside the shadows. “He’s inside my apartment. We need to call the—”

“Go downstairs,” Jace barked, somehow managing to get his wrist out of her tight grasp. She snatched his shirt, not sure if he understood what she was staying. “Tell Noah and Lance the same—”

“You can’t go in there, Jace.” Shae desperately tried to tug at his arm once more, needing him to come downstairs with her. This was a matter for the police. “He was inside my apartment. He’s probably still in there somewhere.”

Shae had been flicking her gaze from him to the open door behind them, checking to see if he was coming after them. The nausea that had previously threatened to overtake her was edging ever closer. Why wouldn’t Jace listen to her?

“H-he put Emma’s boots in there,” Shae whispered, her throat closing as another nail was hammered into her belief that Emma was dead. Her mind had always accepted that principle, but her heart would eternally hold out hope. Those boots would forever remain seared into her mind. “He—”

A sob caught in the back of her throat, cutting off her words.

“Stay here.”

Jace moved away from her so fast that her fingers never even loosened from her fist before she could stop him. It was then she noticed that he was wearing a holster and the firearm rested in the palm of his hand as he cautiously entered the studio apartment. It had never even occurred to her to grab the one out of her purse.

She held her breath and strained to hear any sounds over the music in the bar below. She was certain that he was in danger.

Twenty seconds later he emerged, his features practically set in stone.

Shae hadn’t realized she’d been waiting for him to say she’d imagined it all… that no one had invaded her privacy and a twisted serial killer hadn’t left the ankle boots her sister had worn the night she’d disappeared.

She didn’t fight him when he took her in his arms, offering her the security she so desperately needed.

Her presence in town had drawn a monster out of hiding.

It took a moment for Shae to recognize the penetrating and raw emotion that washed over her— rage. It was unlike anything she’d ever experienced before, thankfully casting her relentless grief and remorse aside as if they were nothing.

She might have lured a monster from his lair, but he’d awakened something even more terrifying— a woman now bent solely on revenge.

 

 

About the Keys to Love Series

Their homecoming wasn’t so welcoming. Four brothers and one sister each gave twelve years of their lives to serve their country and fulfill their family’s legacy of service. As each of them return to their home of record, they weren’t prepared for what awaited them—an unforgivable sin that has been hidden for twelve long years. Secrets and lies are concealed in the dark shadows of the very town they were raised in, and the Kendall family will have no choice but to rely on one another to unravel the sinister evil that they all hold the keys to unlock.

 

Missed UNLOCKING FEAR or UNLOCKING SECRETS and want to catch up? You can grab the first two books in the Keys to Love series now!

 

 About UNLOCKING FEAR

A chance mishap with a sledgehammer was the sole reason a chilling nightmare was unleashed in Blyth Lake.

Noah Kendall’s grisly discovery left him in the middle of a murder investigation and a neighbor who knew more than she was willing to say. Reese Woodward had returned to town with dark secrets, and he was determined to unravel them. While evil lurks in the darkness, seduction burns between them…only time was their enemy.

Will her secrets destroy what they’ve built, or can he earn her trust before the killer strikes again?

Add UNLOCKING FEAR to your Goodreads list here!

Get your copy of UNLOCKING FEAR now!

✦Amazon http://amzn.to/2oDD6Tg
✦iBooks http://apple.co/2ouRvO6
✦Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/2AYCo5e
✦Kobo http://bit.ly/2odmleE

 

 About UNLOCKING SECRETS

A grim discovery in Lance Kendall’s home proved one thing—the residents of Blyth Lake had a serial killer in their midst. Now Lance had unintentionally put a target on his back. Worst yet, he’s made the only woman he ever loved known to a murderer.

A trip down memory lane with the man who’d broken Brynn Mercer’s heart wasn’t the smartest thing she’d ever done in her life, but their reunion was a slow burn of temptation that she couldn’t ignore.

Together, they will only have one chance to correct the past. Will the hidden secrets he uncovered threaten their love or solidify it for a future that has always been out of their reach?

Add UNLOCKING SECRETS to your Goodreads list here!

Get your copy of UNLOCKING SECRETS now!

✦Amazon http://amzn.to/2orr78Z
✦iBooks http://apple.co/2mN73R5
✦Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/2Hq3Cp7
✦Kobo http://bit.ly/2nrCOw6

 

 

About Kennedy Layne

Kennedy Layne is a USA Today bestselling author. She draws inspiration for her military romantic suspense novels in part from her not-so-secret second life as a wife of a retired Marine Master Sergeant. He doubles as her critique partner, beta reader, and military consultant. They live in the Midwest with their teenage son and menagerie of pets. The loyal dogs and mischievous cats appreciate her writing days as much as she does, usually curled up in front of the fireplace. She loves hearing from readers–find out how to connect with her at www.kennedylayne.com.

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FIGHTING FOR EVERYTHING by Laura Kaye-Review & Excerpt Tour

 

From New York Times bestselling author Laura Kaye, comes the first standalone title in her brand, new Warrior Fight Club series, FIGHTING FOR EVERYTHING. Join the Warrior Fight Club world today!

 

 

Loving her is the biggest fight of his life…

Home from the Marines, Noah Cortez has a secret he doesn’t want his oldest friend, Kristina Moore, to know. It kills him to push her away, especially when he’s noticing just how sexy and confident she’s become in his absence. But, angry and full of fight, he’s not the same man anymore either. Which is why Warrior Fight Club sounds so good.

Kristina loves teaching, but she wants more out of life. She wants Noah—the boy she’s crushed on and waited for. Except Noah is all man now—in ways both oh so good and troubling, too. Still, she wants who he’s become—every war-hardened inch. And when they finally stop fighting their attraction, it’s everything Kristina never dared hope for.

But Noah is secretly spiraling, and when he lashes out, it threatens what he and Kristina have found. The brotherhood of the fight club helps him confront his demons, but only Noah can convince the woman he loves that he’s finally ready to fight for everything.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

And don’t miss the second standalone romance in the Warrior Fight Club series coming August 7, 2018, FIGHTING FOR WHAT’S HIS

 PRE-ORDER on Amazon | Amazon Paperback | B&N | iBooks | Kobo

Add to your Goodreads

 

 

Laura Kaye’s FIGHTING FOR EVERYTHING – Review & Excerpt Tour Schedule:

 May 21st

Angie and Jessica’s Dreamy Reads – Review & Excerpt

Books and Bubble bath – Review & Excerpt

Catty Jane Book Lovers – Review & Excerpt

Coffee Books Life – Review & Excerpt

I Love HEA Romance Book Blog – Review & Excerpt

Knotty Girl Reviews – Review & Excerpt

Obsessed by books – Review & Excerpt

Read more sleep less – Review & Excerpt

Reading Between the Wines Book Club – Excerpt

Romance as a first language – Review & Excerpt

The Reading Cafe – Review & Excerpt

May 22nd

RELEASE DAY!!

May 23rd

2 Amys Love Reading – Review & Excerpt

Blogging by Liza – Review & Excerpt

Books, Coffee & Passion – Excerpt

Elenasbookblog – Review & Excerpt

Feeling Fictional – Review & Excerpt

Hot Kindle Reads – Review

Les Chroniques Aléatoires – Review & Excerpt

Melena’s Reviews – Review & Excerpt

The Book Disciple – Review & Excerpt

May 24th

Books of My Heart – Review & Excerpt

Cara’s Book Boudoir – Review & Excerpt

I Love Romance – Review & Excerpt

Nice Ladies, Naughty Books – Review & Excerpt

Obsessive Reading Disorder – Review & Excerpt

Reads All the Books – Review & Excerpt

Sofia Loves Books – Review

Wickedcoolflight – Review & Excerpt

May 25th

Adventures in Writing – Excerpt

Angel Reads – Review

Bobo’s Book Bank – Review & Excerpt

My Favorite Things – Review & Excerpt

NallaReads – Review & Excerpt

Novel Addiction – Review

Relentless Romance – Review & Excerpt

Reviews by Tammy and Kim (Rachel and Jay) – Review & Excerpt

Romancing the Readers – Review & Excerpt

May 26th

AC Book Blog – Review & Excerpt

Always a happy ever after – Review

Bad boys and bedtime stories book blog – Review

Fern’s Book Blog – Review & Excerpt

KDRBCK – Review & Excerpt

Naturally Nerdy Books – Excerpt

The Staircase Reader – Review & Excerpt

The Book Boyfriend Addict – Review & Excerpt

May 27th

Alphas Do It Better Book Blog – Review

Book Angel Booktopia – Review & Excerpt

Bookishly Yours – Review & Excerpt

Four Chicks Flipping Pages – Review

Kari Gillespie – Review

Lynn’s Romance Enthusiasm – Review & Excerpt

One girl lost in romance books – Review

Total Book Addicts – Review & Excerpt

May 28th

Booknerd1107 – Review & Excerpt

Deluged with Books Cafe – Review & Excerpt

JordansBookReviews – Excerpt

Nerdy Dirty & Flirty – Review

Rad Babes Read – Review & Excerpt

Ripe For Reader – Review & Excerpt

Romance Reviews and More – Review & Excerpt

Thoughts of a Blonde – Review & Excerpt

May 29th

A British Bookworm’s Blog – Review

Book Freak – Review & Excerpt

Movies, Shows, & Books – Excerpt

My Book Snack – Review & Excerpt

Romantic Reads and Such – Excerpt

Sip Read Love – Review

The Book Hammock – Review & Excerpt

Vivi’s Messy Kitchen – Review

May 30th

abibliophobia anonymous book reviews – Review

Bookgasms Book Blog – Review & Excerpt

Books 2 Blog – Review & Excerpt

I’m A Sweet And Sassy Book Whore – Review & Excerpt

Jax’s Book Magic – Review & Excerpt

Literary Misfit – Review & Excerpt

Shakespeare’s Wench Book Blog – Review

Somewhere Lost in Books – Review & Excerpt

May 31st

Blissfully Bookish Besties – Review & Excerpt

Book Bitches Blog – Review & Excerpt

Brittany’s Book Blog – Excerpt

Friends Till The End Book Blog – Excerpt

Love Notes Book Blog – Review & Excerpt

Spoons, Hooks, and Books – Review & Excerpt

The Book Reading Gals – Review & Excerpt

The bookworms obsession – Review

June 1st

A Soccer Mom’s Book Blog – Review

Book Nook Nuts – Excerpt

Books A-Brewin’ – Review & Excerpt

Ever After Book Reviews – Excerpt

Only One More Page – Review & Excerpt

Red Hot + Blue Reads – Review & Excerpt

Renee Entress’s Blog – Review & Excerpt

She Hearts Books – Review & Excerpt

Wicked Babes Blog Reviews – Review & Excerpt

Laura is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over thirty books in contemporary and erotic romance and romantic suspense, including the Blasphemy, Hard Ink, and Raven Riders series. Growing up, Laura’s large extended family believed in the supernatural, and family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses cemented in Laura a life-long fascination with storytelling and all things paranormal. Laura also writes historical fiction as the NYT bestselling author, Laura Kamoie. She lives in Maryland with her husband and two daughters, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.

 

 

 

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Chapter Reveal: UNLOCKING LIES by Kennedy Layne

We’re a little over a week away from the release of UNLOCKING LIES by Kennedy Layne – but you don’t have to wait! You can read the first chapter now. Check it out and be sure to preorder your copy!

 About UNLOCKING LIES

A grim discovery in Lance Kendall’s home proved one thing—the residents of Blyth Lake had a serial killer in their midst. Now Lance had unintentionally put a target on his back. Worst yet, he’s made the only woman he ever loved known to a murderer.

A trip down memory lane with the man who’d broken Brynn Mercer’s heart wasn’t the smartest thing she’d ever done in her life, but their reunion was a slow burn of temptation that she couldn’t ignore.

Together, they will only have one chance to correct the past. Will the hidden secrets he uncovered threaten their love or solidify it for a future that has always been out of their reach?

Add UNLOCKING LIES to your Goodreads list here!

UNLOCKING LIES releases May 22nd, 2018 – preorder your copy now!

✦Amazon http://amzn.to/2rOa16E
✦iBooks http://apple.co/2sRUlCn
✦Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/2k0VrpK
✦Kobo http://bit.ly/2sRY2aV

 

Read the First Chapter of UNLOCKING LIES:

CHAPTER ONE

Twelve years ago…

Lightning streaked across the sky in multiple jagged forks overhead. The waning flash eventually morphed into an ominous rumble of thunder, creating a malevolent omen as it continued to sing its song throughout the collapsing resonance.

Emma Irwin bit back the sob that threatened to escape her throat, causing her breath to hitch.

She didn’t want to die today.

The hulking man standing in front of her abruptly lunged forward, causing her to cry out in alarm. She instinctively stumbled backwards and somehow managed to twist around without falling.

Emma ran for her life, and she didn’t look back.

There was only one path she could take that would lead her to safety. Under normal circumstances, she would have been able to navigate these woods like the back of her hand. Now? Terror flooded her bloodstream, making it nearly impossible for her to formulate a plan.

The thunderstorm above all but descended the forest into darkness after each flash. Without night vision, the footing amongst the roots crisscrossing the forest floor became treacherous. She had to keep an arm raised as she ran through the trees to prevent the low hanging branches from slamming into her face. Her hands were already bleeding from her previous fall, but fortunately, there was no pain as a result of the endorphins.

She couldn’t afford the distraction her pain would cause.

How could this be happening?

Emma wanted to stop and scream at him at the top of her lungs. She’d known him her whole life. She had trusted him, and yet she didn’t doubt that he would kill her with no more remorse than he would experience by putting down a game animal.

All she needed to do was make it to Seventh Street. If she could reach the edge of town, someone would help her.

Would anyone believe her? Was any of this even remotely plausible? She was a teenager. It was her word against…

Light!

The streetlamp was barely visible, but it was there ahead of her just up the gradual slope. The blazing beacon provided her hope.

The drizzling rain became more of a steadier stream the closer she got to the edge of the woods. Unadulterated fear kept up her forward momentum until her ankle boot slipped on a small pile of loose leaves.

Emma hit the ground so hard that her lungs emptied of any air that may have been left in her body after running so far at such a fast pace. She opened her mouth to drag in what oxygen she could, but her lungs seemed incapable of working. Her brain was screaming at her to get up and move or else she would die.

This was it.

She was going to die here, because she couldn’t overcome the fear.

Little by little, her straining muscles relaxed to the point where she was able to suck in a small measure of oxygen. It was enough to stop the flashing lights that had started to circulate in her line of vision. In their place, images of her sister began to materialize.

Would Shae miss her?

Emma didn’t want their last words to be those of hate. She’d said some awful things to her sister this afternoon all because Shae had gotten the car tonight.

“It’s not fair!” Emma screamed at her mom, stomping out of the kitchen and wishing there was a door to slam. All she wanted to do was hit something or someone. It didn’t help that Shae was coming down the staircase with an amused smirk on her face. “Why did you have to be the older one? How come you always get to be first?”

“I don’t know why you’re so upset.” Shae shrugged as if this night was no big deal. Emma bit her tongue as she passed her sister on the steps. Their mother was most likely listening to them in the kitchen, and the last thing Emma needed was to get grounded before the biggest bonfire of the year. “You get the car all week long while I’m at college. Besides, you got to use it last weekend.” 

“No,” Emma argued, unable to stop herself. She spun around on the second step to face Shae, who had already reached the landing. “I only got to use the car on Friday night. Remember? You went into the city all day on Saturday.”  

“I’m in college, Emma. I’m not allowed a vehicle on campus, so I should get the car two nights out of the week. Those days just happen to fall on the weekends.” Shae crossed her arms like she did when she was trying to make a point and look all mature. Just because she was in college didn’t mean that she was an adult. “What’s the big deal, anyway? You can have one of your friends pick you up. It’s safe that way.”  

“Brynn’s car is in the shop, and you know that Julie doesn’t have access to one.” Why should Emma have to explain why she wanted the car? “You know what? Take the car. I don’t care anymore.”  

“Good, because I am taking it. It’s my turn.”

“I hate you!”

A tear ran down Emma’s right cheek, though the rain washed it away. She didn’t hate her sister. Shae was everything Emma wanted to be.

Lightning lit up the sky overhead, illuminating her surroundings.

He was gone.

He was nowhere to be seen.

Emma was finally breathing again, though her heart was beating hard against her chest. She scrambled to her feet and did a full turn to scan her immediate surroundings. She was alone in the dark, but something told her he would appear out of nowhere her if she didn’t keep moving.

She took off once again for Seventh Street, relief washing over her as she finally reached the paved road. Not once did she think of slowing down her pace, though she did veer to the right so that she could follow the road that would lead her past the cemetery and toward the back end of town. She’d take the shortcut to her house from there.

It was then she saw the silhouette standing on the other side of the road blocking her path.

It was him.

That’s why he hadn’t come upon her when she’d fallen on the leaves. He’d somehow run ahead to cut her off before she could get home.

Emma had no choice but to run back toward the woods. There was no holding back the sobs that had been trying to escape. Why was he doing this to her? What had she done to him?

It was hard to see through her tears, but she ran blindly through the trees nonetheless. She didn’t follow any path, and she certainly never expected two arms to reach out of the darkness to save her. They embraced her warmly, and she even heard the soothing words that everything would be alright.

She was safe.

Emma broke down, holding onto the strong arms so that she wouldn’t sink to the ground.

“H-he’s coming,” Emma managed to say, trying to warn whoever had saved her. Was it Billy? Lance Kendall? Chad Schaeffer? It didn’t matter. “He’s right behind me and—”

Something was wrong.

Emma furiously blinked her tears away and looked up at her savior.

Only she was mistaken.

No one was here to save her.

All hope vanished. She didn’t understand how it happened, but the man she was running from hadn’t been the one standing in the middle of Seventh Street.

He’d been waiting for her in the shadows all along.

 

 

About the Keys to Love Series

Their homecoming wasn’t so welcoming. Four brothers and one sister each gave twelve years of their lives to serve their country and fulfill their family’s legacy of service. As each of them return to their home of record, they weren’t prepared for what awaited them—an unforgivable sin that has been hidden for twelve long years. Secrets and lies are concealed in the dark shadows of the very town they were raised in, and the Kendall family will have no choice but to rely on one another to unravel the sinister evil that they all hold the keys to unlock.

 

Missed UNLOCKING FEAR or UNLOCKING SECRETS and want to catch up? You can grab the first two books in the Keys to Love series now!

 

 About UNLOCKING FEAR

A chance mishap with a sledgehammer was the sole reason a chilling nightmare was unleashed in Blyth Lake.

Noah Kendall’s grisly discovery left him in the middle of a murder investigation and a neighbor who knew more than she was willing to say. Reese Woodward had returned to town with dark secrets, and he was determined to unravel them. While evil lurks in the darkness, seduction burns between them…only time was their enemy.

Will her secrets destroy what they’ve built, or can he earn her trust before the killer strikes again?

Add UNLOCKING FEAR to your Goodreads list here!

Get your copy of UNLOCKING FEAR now!

✦Amazon http://amzn.to/2oDD6Tg
✦iBooks http://apple.co/2ouRvO6
✦Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/2AYCo5e
✦Kobo http://bit.ly/2odmleE

 

 About UNLOCKING SECRETS

A grim discovery in Lance Kendall’s home proved one thing—the residents of Blyth Lake had a serial killer in their midst. Now Lance had unintentionally put a target on his back. Worst yet, he’s made the only woman he ever loved known to a murderer.

A trip down memory lane with the man who’d broken Brynn Mercer’s heart wasn’t the smartest thing she’d ever done in her life, but their reunion was a slow burn of temptation that she couldn’t ignore.

Together, they will only have one chance to correct the past. Will the hidden secrets he uncovered threaten their love or solidify it for a future that has always been out of their reach?

Add UNLOCKING SECRETS to your Goodreads list here!

Get your copy of UNLOCKING SECRETS now!

✦Amazon http://amzn.to/2orr78Z
✦iBooks http://apple.co/2mN73R5
✦Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/2Hq3Cp7
✦Kobo http://bit.ly/2nrCOw6

 

 

About Kennedy Layne

Kennedy Layne is a USA Today bestselling author. She draws inspiration for her military romantic suspense novels in part from her not-so-secret second life as a wife of a retired Marine Master Sergeant. He doubles as her critique partner, beta reader, and military consultant. They live in the Midwest with their teenage son and menagerie of pets. The loyal dogs and mischievous cats appreciate her writing days as much as she does, usually curled up in front of the fireplace. She loves hearing from readers–find out how to connect with her at www.kennedylayne.com.

Website Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter | Instagram 

TOO BAD SO SAD by Lani Lynn Vale – Cover Reveal

Check out this cover for TOO BAD SO SAD by Lani Lynn Vale and pre-order your copy today!

Title: TOO BAD SO SAD
Author: Lani Lynn Vale
Series: Simple Man
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release: August 8th
Model: Franggy Yanez
Photographer: Furiousfotog
Cover Designer: Cover Me Darling

About TOO BAD SO SAD

Tyler Cree has never been good at the whole look and don’t touch thing.
From the moment he was old enough to walk on his own two feet, he’s been looking for trouble.
Trouble comes in many forms…quite a few of those forms being the female persuasion.
Tyler knows what girls want—a bad boy. And he has the bad boy image down pat.
Ex-military—check.
Hot cop—double check.
A bike between his legs and a devil may care attitude—oh, yeah.
All the girls want him, yet none of them will have him—at least not all of him, anyway. A certain appendage they can have all they want. His heart, however, is not up for grabs. The useless organ inside his chest was broken and battered, mutilated by the one woman he thought would keep it safe.
Spoiler alert: she ripped it to shreds and set fire to the pieces.
To protect himself, Tyler keeps everyone at arm’s length, and never lets anyone get too close.
Then Reagan Rose Alvarez barrels into his life, and trespasses on not only his property, but straight into his abused heart. One glance is all it takes, and he’s suddenly thinking about things he hasn’t thought for quite some time—thoughts that a man like him should never have about a woman like her.
One moment of weakness is all it takes, and suddenly he has no other choice but to go on the offensive.
Keeping her is the only other option now.
Turns out, his heart isn’t as broken as he thought it was.
The only problem is, now the little she-devil holds it in the palm of her hands, and she has no clue just how much power she holds.

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About Lani Lynn Vale

Lani Lynn Vale is a USA Today Bestselling Author of over thirty titles. She is married with three children, two dogs, two cats, a donkey, and a couple (a couple also meaning over twenty) chickens.

When she’s not writing, you can find her curled up in her favorite chair reading.

Lani is married with three children and lives in the Great State of Texas.

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BLOOM by Cassia Leo – Release Blitz

The final installment of The Evergreen Series, BLOOM by Cassia Leo, is finally Live! Get it now on all platforms before it goes into Kindle Unlimted May 5th! Scroll down to the bottom to read the first chapter now!

Title: BLOOM
Series: Evergreen
Author: Cassia Leo
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release: May 4th

About BLOOM

The heart-pounding, emotional conclusion to the Evergreen Series from New York Times bestselling author Cassia Leo.

Where flowers bloom, love grows.

With Jack determined to correct his past mistakes, and to help me cope with the news about Junior’s murderer, I find myself hardly able to function, my soul weighed down by renewed grief and crippling guilt.

When I confess my sins to Jack, watching the light in his blue eyes go dim with every word I speak, I know I will not soon be forgiven. Maybe I don’t deserve forgiveness.

When I confess my new predicament to Isaac, I’m met with words of comfort and an apology that leaves me reeling with regret.

I am truly my own worst enemy.

But I refuse to give up. With a renewed sense of purpose, I am determined to weed out my destructive habits and bloom into the person and the mother I was meant to be.

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About Cassia Leo

New York Times bestselling author Cassia Leo loves her coffee, chocolate, and margaritas with salt. When she’s not writing, she spends way too much time re-watching Game of Thrones and Sex and the City. When she’s not binge watching, she’s usually enjoying the Oregon rain with a hot cup of coffee and a book.

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Excerpt

Chapter 1
Laurel

Twenty-four years ago

The sun made all the flowers in Mommy’s garden look like they were glowing. I sat down on the grass and dug my fingers into the warm dirt at the bottom of the rose bush. Mommy loves roses. I should pick some for her.
Daddy said Mommy would be coming home today. She’s been gone forever! It feels like she’s been gone for years. Daddy said she’s only been gone a few weeks. But when I asked him how many weeks is a few, he said it was more than I could count and I would learn that later. I can’t wait to start first grade so I can know how many weeks Mommy was gone.
Daddy said she was visiting Grandma and Grandpa in Iowa, but we couldn’t go with her because she’s too busy. She’s taking care of Grandpa. He’s sick.
Mommy takes care of me when I’m sick, too. She makes me chicken soup and gives me yucky medicine and takes my temperature.
I miss my mommy.
But when I reach for the rose to pick one for Mommy, something bites my hand. I scream loudly and start to cry when I see a giant monster tooth stuck in my thumb. Daddy calls my name as he runs outside and picks me up.
“What’s wrong, sweetheart?” He grabbed my hand and I tried to pull it away, so he just grabbed my arm. “Oh, no. Let me take it out.”
“No! It hurts!”
Daddy put me down on the grass and kissed my hand as he pushed my hair out of my eyes. “I know, pumpkin. That’s why I have to take it out. Can you hold still? I promise I’ll do it really fast. Okay?”

***
Beth

As the taxi pulled up in front of the house, my stomach went rigid at the sight of my coral-pink roses in full bloom behind the garden fence. I trimmed the blooms shortly before I left Portland. In a moment of desperation, I asked Mark if he could trim the roses after the next re-bloom. He was still so angry, he couldn’t even acknowledge I’d asked a question.
I expected to come home to dead roses, which would be a depressing parallel to the state of my marriage. Yet somehow, while I was at a friend’s house, serving my sentence for betraying Mark, he had found it in his heart to care for my garden the way I knew he would take care of Laurel in my absence. I didn’t know if this made me feel more relieved or ashamed.
I reached into my maroon leather handbag and handed the taxi driver a couple of twenty-dollar bills. “I don’t need any change. Thank you.”
He took the money and quickly shifted the car into PARK. “Oh, thank you very much. Let me get your bags.”
As the driver and I exited the car, Mark seemed to pop up out of the garden as if he’d been hiding behind the fence. Our eyes met for a split second, before he bent over and scooped up Laurel. The delicate skin on her cheeks and eyelids were flushed pink, as if she’d been crying, and just the sight of it brought tears to my eyes. Mark whispered something in her ear and she spun her head around, her blonde hair whipping his face.
“Mommy!”
Mark set her down gently and opened the garden gate so she could run to me. I dropped my handbag on the sidewalk and fell to my knees as I pulled my baby girl into my arms.
“Oh, sweetie. I missed you so much. Did you miss me?”
“Mommy, you’re squeezing me too tight,” she complained in that silvery voice that reminded me of wind chimes.
“I’m sorry, sweetie,” I said, loosening my hold on her so I could reach up and brush a glistening tear track from her pink cheek. “Mommy is just really happy to see you. Were you crying?”
She held up her hand, sticking her thumb out to show me a prick of blood. “The roses bit me.”
I chuckled softly, keeping my gaze focused on her hand as Mark stepped past me to grab the suitcases the taxi driver had left on the curb. “Roses don’t bite, Laurel. Roses don’t have teeth. They have thorns. You were pricked by a thorn. It hurts, doesn’t it?”
She nodded her head. “Why did it hurt me?”
My heart raced as Mark stopped just inside the gate, presumably awaiting my answer. “Because, sweetie, roses have thorns to make it harder for other animals and people to hurt them. It’s a defense mechanism.”
She scrunched her wispy blonde eyebrows together. “The rose hurts me so I can’t hurt the rose?”
Mark let out a deep sigh and continued carrying the suitcases up the path toward the front porch.
I laid a soft kiss on the pad of Laurel’s tender thumb. “Exactly.”

***

Present Day

As I recalled the months my mother spent in “Iowa” with my father’s parents, when I was five years old, Jack’s words echoed in my consciousness.
Beth put the baby boy up for adoption… She stayed with a friend during the last few months of her pregnancy… The baby was born on June 16th, and Beth declined to have a sample of his blood drawn for a paternity test… Brandon was adopted by Byron and Dottie Huxley, who moved to Boise shortly after his birth… Brandon had behavioral problems, which were only made worse when Dottie was murdered.
“Laurel, are you okay?”
Jack’s voice sounded distant as I stared at the rustic iron chandelier hanging above the dining table. The sparkling lights ricocheted off the crystal pendants, twinkling in my vision, lulling me into a trance as images of destruction and horror flared in my mind. All the physical and emotional wreckage I’d been running from; all the visceral, paralyzing agony that had rendered me incapable of performing even the most basic tasks; all the destructive coping mechanisms that led to the sickening moment I betrayed Jack; it all stemmed from one repulsive act of evil committed by my own flesh and blood.
I needed to get those morning-after pills. I couldn’t bring a child into a world where that kind of cruelty existed.
Earlier today, as I drove my Tesla SUV back to our home in Hood River from my mother’s house in Southeast Portland, I had thought of taking any of the dozens of freeway exits to stop at a drugstore. But Jack was so worried about my hangover, he drove right behind me the whole way home. He’d taken the time to buy me a couple bottles of water and watched me swallow an anti-emetic tablet for the nausea before we left.
I wiped tears from my face as I stood from the dining chair, trying to ignore the weakness in my limbs brought on by the hangover and only exacerbated by the Dramamine and the news Jack had just delivered. There was no time to sit down and digest this new information properly, not while there was even the slimmest possibility that I could be pregnant with Isaac’s child.
“Laurel, are you okay?” Jack asked again as he followed me toward the laundry room. “Where are you going?”
“I just need to go to Walgreen’s for some tampons. I forgot them in Portland.”
He grabbed my hand to stop me from entering the laundry room. “You’re not on your period. And you’re not even feeling well. If you need some, I’m sure there’s still some left in the bathroom. It’s not like I cleared the place out while you were gone.”
I stood at the threshold, my hand gripping the cold steel door handle. “But I’m…” I couldn’t think of a single believable lie. I was either too dehydrated or emotionally overwhelmed for my synapses to fire properly. Or maybe I was just a terrible liar. Probably all of the above. “I’m tired,” I replied, looking up at Jack, my stomach clenching at the skepticism in his narrowed eyes. “And thirsty. I think I’m a little delirious. I should lie down.”
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
As Jack’s eyes softened and he took my hand in his to lead me toward the bedroom, I felt the small reserve of stamina at the core of my being spill out and drain from my limbs. I didn’t have the energy to lie. How could I muster the strength to tell the truth?
I could barely hold my eyelids open as Jack turned down the covers and the sheets for me to climb in bed. As he helped me out of my Burberry rain boots, leaving my wool socks in place, I reached for his face. His scruff scraped the pads of my fingers, a familiar sensation that sent a chill over my skin. I took his face in my hands, closing my eyes to savor the warmth of his skin against my palms.
Then a terrible thought flashed in my mind: What happened with Isaac would never have happened if Jack had set aside the hunt for Brandon and come back to me sooner.
I crossed my arms over my belly and curled inward on myself as I tried not to let the idea take root. It was a poisonous thought, which would only lead to more resentment and more anger and more fighting. All those things were the old way. The old way didn’t work. That much we had established.
Jack cupped my face in his hands and tilted it up to look in my eyes. “Baby, are you okay? You’re scaring the fuck out of me. Do you need to go to the hospital?”
Maybe that was the answer. Maybe I could tell Jack I needed to go to the emergency room. Then I could tell the ER staff that I was severely hungover and possibly dehydrated. And as soon as Jack left my side to use the restroom or get a coffee, I would ask someone for emergency contraceptives. They were required to keep that information confidential, weren’t they?
Oh, God. I didn’t know.
I had to accept that I had two options and two options only. I had to tell the truth or wait. In a few days, I’d be able to take an at-home pregnancy test. Until then, I’d just have to live with this secret and know that I deserved to let it slowly eat away at my insides.
“I’m fine,” I whispered. “I’m just so tired of all the bad news.”
“But it’s good news that they got him,” he replied.
Part of me wanted to argue with him. How could learning that my biological brother murdered my son and my mother — then killed himself — be good news? But to Jack, it was good news because justice had been served. For Jack, it was always about justice. Justice came before everything. Even me.
I forced a smile to stop the seeds of doubt from growing tendrils. “I’m a little nauseous. I just need to sleep. I’ll be fine tomorrow.”
“Sounds like a good idea,” he replied, laying a tender kiss on my temple.
I lay back as he pulled the covers over me. “Thank you.”
He brushed my hair away from my face as I curled up on my side. “I’m going to take a quick shower. Do you need anything?”
I shook my head and pulled the covers tightly under my chin. But as he walked away toward the master bathroom, a nearly slapped myself when I was hit with a sudden idea. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it sooner. I could call Drea and ask her to bring me the emergency contraceptives.
As soon as I heard the sound of the shower turning on, I quietly slipped out of bed and retrieved my phone from where I’d left it on the dining room table. I called Drea and sighed with relief when she answered after just one ring.
“Drea! Oh, my God. I need your help.”
“Laurel? What—what’s going on? Are you okay, love?” she replied.
I could hear one of her boys chattering in the background, probably Thom considering the high-pitched tone of his voice. Thom was an adorable four years old and Drea’s eldest, Colin, was eight years old, and growing so fast it made my chest ache just thinking about it.
“I’m fine. I just—” I cut myself off as Drea shushed Thom. “Actually, I’m not fine. I need you to do me a huge favor.”
“Anything, darling. What do you need?” she replied.
“I need you to go to Walgreen’s or CVS and get me a pack of Plan-B morning-after pills.”
She was silent for a moment before she responded. “Why? Please don’t tell me you slept with Isaac.” When I didn’t reply immediately, her voice became tinged with panic. “Laurel?”
“I didn’t mean to,” I whispered, attempting to keep half of my attention on the distant sound of the running shower. “I was drunk after you left last night. I think I might have fallen outside or something because I woke up in my bed thinking that Jack was lying next to me. I initiated sex and… Well, I realized too late that it was Isaac. Then—”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa. You had sex with Isaac? You cheated on Jack?”
I opened my mouth a few times, but I was unable to speak, having been stunned into silence by the word “cheated.”
“Laurel, did you cheat on Jack?” she whispered urgently.
“No! I mean… Oh, God.” I clutched my hair as I wracked my brain for a better explanation for what I’d done, but it didn’t take long for my reaction to flip from panic to anger. “Are you judging me?”
She let out a soft chuckle. “Are you admitting you cheated on him? Laurel, you can’t possibly be angry at me.”
I gasped at the physical pain in my chest. “How could you? Of all the people, I thought at least you would understand. I didn’t have sex with Isaac because I wanted to. I did it because I was blitzed out of my fucking mind. I thought it was Jack!” I clapped my hand over my mouth as I realized I could no longer hear the shower running. “Forget it,” I whispered before I ended the call.
I got myself a glass of water and took my phone and the water back to the bedroom just in time to see Jack coming out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around his waist.
“Thirsty,” I said, holding up my glass before he could comment.
I set the water and phone down on the nightstand and quickly slid between the sheets, pulling the covers over my head. It seemed I was back to “plan A” — waiting a few days to take a pregnancy test — since I didn’t have any way to get PlanB tonight. Tomorrow being Sunday, I highly doubted I’d be able to sneak away from Jack to get the pills.
I hated myself.
“Pixie, are you crying?”
Jack’s voice snapped me out of my self-flagellation. Surprisingly, I found myself sobbing and clenching my fists so tightly, I had to slowly pry my fingernails out of the palms of my hands. Raising the covers a bit to let in some light, I wasn’t surprised to see six screaming red nail marks, two of them with tiny droplets of blood bubbling up out of the broken skin.
I quickly threw off the covers and ran to the bathroom as sweat sprouted over my brow and upper lip and my mouth pooled with saliva. I vomited the water I’d drank over the last few hours. Sour liquid gushed from my mouth in hot streams as my eyes bulged with the strain. Jack held back my hair and murmured soothing words as I spewed my guts into the porcelain bowl, imagining each drop of liquid amounting to one sin. Soon, I would be clean.
When the retching stopped, I resisted the urge to stuff my fingers down my throat to make certain every last drop was squeezed out. Instead, I fell sideways for a split second before Jack caught me to keep my head from hitting the wall.
He reached up and laid his hand over my sweaty forehead. “You’re pretty cold, so I don’t think you have a fever. But maybe we should take you to the urgent care.”
“No,” I breathed, reaching for the toilet paper to wipe my mouth. “I just need to rest and drink some water. Can you help me up?”
He lifted me up easily, cradling me in his arms, which were still warm and moist from the shower. Setting me down on the bed, he kneeled next to me and brushed my hair from my damp brow.
“I’ll go get an empty cup and some mouthwash so you can rinse. I’ll get some crackers and some more Dramamine, too.”
I reached out with both hands and grabbed his neck before he could stand up. “I love you,” I whispered, pulling him toward me. Not to kiss him. Not even to feel him in my arms. I suddenly feared that if he left this room he’d never come back. “I love you so much.”
He chuckled as he wrapped his arms around me, seizing the opportunity to slide my body toward the center of the bed. “I’ll be right back, baby,” he assured me, as if he could read the fear in my desperate clutch, as if he could read me like an open book. “I promise I’ll be right back.”
Reluctantly, I released my hold on him and he slowly pulled away, looking down at me with suspicion in his eyes again. But neither of us spoke. And as the seconds ticked by with neither of us turning away, I swore I could see my sins reflected in the glimmer of his eyes. Then, he swallowed hard, the gulping sound echoing in my ears. And I was certain I’d just witnessed the moment when he consciously stifled his suspicions in favor of a peaceful reunion.
He smiled tentatively. “I’ll be right back.”
As he left, I couldn’t stop my mind from wandering back to the night of the murders. Replaying the events on a loop, I tried to think of things I’d missed that would make sense now that we almost certainly knew the identity of the murderer. My brain fast-forwarded past the moment I said goodbye to my mother, as Jack and I left her to care for Junior while we celebrated our anniversary. I slid past the memories of the meal and wine we shared at the restaurant, my mind skidding to a stop at the recollection of having sex with Jack on the waterfront.

My silk rose-patterned skirt fluttered in the soft evening breeze on the waterfront. Jack squeezed my hand as I tilted my head back and inhaled the earthy scent of the gorge. In previous years, when it got too hot during the summer, the decaying plant life in the river gave off a more musty scent. But it was the middle of August and a refreshing fifty-eight degrees tonight, as the weather began its downward descent toward autumn.
“Do you remember the first time I took you windsurfing at The Hook?” Jack asked as we stopped in the middle of the trail that curved around the semi-circular sandbar of Waterfront Park.
He sat down facing the water on the low stone wall, which separated the concrete footpath from the sand and sea. In one direction, the trail curved back toward Portway Avenue, where we’d come from Solstice bar and restaurant. In the other direction, the trail followed the waterfront around various water basins and the fork, where Hood River flowed into the Columbia River Gorge. It was one of the most popular tourist destinations in Oregon for good reason.
The scenery was stunning, the moss and foliage an emerald green so deep and lush it was arresting, a color chosen by a violently imaginative god. The towering waterfalls gentle enough to bathe in, yet powerful enough you could feel the mist they expelled from hundreds of feet away. A guy in one of my classes at Oregon State called the gorge heartbreakingly beautiful because he knew he’d be heartbroken when he graduated and had to return to the Nevada desert.
I slid my pumps off and set them on the wall next to Jack, smiling as my toes sunk into the cool sand. “How could I forget my first windsurfing lesson and the abject humiliation of falling in the water and screaming like a banshee when something very alive and very slimy brushed against my leg?” I replied as Jack pulled me onto his lap so I was seated sideways with my legs dangling over his right thigh.
He chuckled as his hand slid under the hem of my skirt. “Well, you’re not supposed to try to carve on your first time out.”
I shook my head. “You told me there were no fish in the cove. You totally lied to me!”
He laughed in my ear as his hand crawled farther up, until his fingers bumped against the softness of my abdomen. “No panties?”
I tried not to feel self-conscious about how my skin had remained stretched after the pregnancy, but I couldn’t stop myself from trying to push Jack’s hand away from my belly.
He brushed his lips over my earlobe and whispered, “What’s wrong?”
My breathing quickened as the sensation of his breath in my ear raised goose bumps on my cool skin. “I don’t like my body right now. Can we do this without you touching my stomach?”
He let out a soft grunt and laid his hand over my abdomen, pressing the heel of his palm into the soft flesh. “You’re crazy if you think this doesn’t make you even more gorgeous than you were before. This is proof that you’ll always be mine. This,” he whispered, lightly brushing his fingertips over my skin, “is the sexiest fucking thing I’ve ever felt.”
The sound of footsteps stopped me from savoring his compliment. I immediately tightened my arms around his shoulders as if to convince any possible passerby we were just cuddling. Nothing naughty going on over here. Glancing toward the sound, I smiled at the elderly woman walking her yellow Labrador retriever at 11:30 p.m. She nodded at me and continued about her way, probably fully aware of what Jack and I were up to.
“She’s probably going to call the cops on us for indecent exposure,” I said, reaching down to undo Jack’s belt and unbutton his pants. “We have to hurry up before she comes back.”
“You dirty girl,” he said, sliding a finger inside me as I set his erection free. “You’re as wet as the river.”
“And you’re as engorged as this gorge,” I teased him.
Grabbing my waist, he lifted me off his lap so I could yank my skirt out from underneath my ass. Then, he slowly lowered me onto his cock.
I gasped at the shock of pain. “Don’t stop,” I begged as he began to lift me again.
“I don’t want to hurt you.”
“I know,” I said, clutching his face in my hands and planting a soft kiss on his lips. “I know. Don’t stop. Please.”
He lowered me farther down, his girth filling me, stretching me. I flinched slightly when he met the resistance of my cervix.
I whimpered as I held his face and pressed my forehead into his. “Oh, Jack,” I breathed.
“Does it hurt?”
“No,” I whispered, sliding my hands to the back of his neck to hold myself steady on his lap. “Fuck me, Jack. Fuck me harder.”
As he used his sheer strength to slide me up and down on his cock, I suddenly had the distinct feeling of being watched. I turned my head slightly to the left, glancing over Jack’s shoulder toward the restaurants on Portway Avenue, where we’d come from. Two men stood across the street in the shadowy parking lot between STOKED Coffeehouse and pFreim Brewery.
My body froze as I buried my face in Jack’s neck, which was now damp with sweat. “Stop. Someone’s watching us.”
Jack paused and I slowly slid farther down on his erection as he turned to look behind him. “Where? I don’t see anyone.”
I snuck a peak toward the parking lot and it was empty. “Oh. It must have been shadows. Never mind. Don’t stop. I’m almost there.”
Jack chuckled as I hooked my arm around his neck, leaning my forehead against his for extra stability as I slid my other hand down the front of my skirt. As we breathed into each other, he continued lifting me up and down on him, like a lonely buoy bobbing on a dark and stormy sea. I dug my fingernails into Jack’s neck as our bodies trembled. He held me still and let go inside me, burying his face in my hair as his hot breath roared in my ear.
As I slid my hand out of my skirt, Jack grabbed it gently and laid a soft trail of kisses from my palm to the tip of my middle finger. He draped my arm over his shoulder and leaned in to kiss me. It was a slow kiss that stole my breath and made the ache between my legs return. He was still inside me. His erection gone, but still twitching with signs of life every time I made the slightest movement.
He pulled away slowly and placed a tender kiss on the tip of my nose. “I love you, pixie.”
I smiled and tightened my arms around his neck as I gazed into his eyes. “That’s my favorite.”
“Your favorite nickname?”
I nodded enthusiastically, accidentally head-butting him in the process. “Ow!”
He laughed as he rubbed his forehead. “We’d better get home before we get arrested. Though, I have no doubt you’d look extremely hot in prison stripes.”

Jack entered the bedroom with the rustic wooden tray we used whenever we had breakfast in bed. I sat up and he set the tray down on my lap, revealing a pack of saltine crackers, a bottle of Dramamine, a glass of water, an empty coffee mug, and a bottle of mouthwash. I hastily rinsed my mouth out and spit out the minty liquid into the empty cup. Then I downed another Dramamine with the entire glass of water.
“You should eat some crackers,” he insisted, grabbing the pack of saltines and pulling it open.
“I remembered something,” I said, pushing the tray to the foot of the bed so I could hug my knees to my chest.
“What are you talking about?” he replied, holding out a couple of crackers for me to take.
I shook my head. “From that night. Do you remember when I thought someone was watching us?”
He scrunched his eyebrows together and shook his head. “Do you mean someone was watching us in the house? What are you talking about?”
I was silent for a beat as I tried to recall what I’d seen, but the memory was so fuzzy. “When we were at the waterfront. I thought I saw a couple of men watching us from the parking lot between the coffeehouse and pFreim.”
He set the crackers down on the tray and narrowed his eyes as he sat on the edge of the bed. “That sounds so vaguely familiar.”
“I know what I saw. I mean… I don’t remember it very clearly, but I don’t think it’s my mind playing tricks on me. Someone was watching us. Should we tell that Boise detective? Or—or that private investigator?”
He shook his head again, then fixed me with a fierce gaze. “What did they look like?”
“I—I don’t know. I… I barely got a glimpse of them before I looked away, and when I turned back they were gone. I figured it was probably just shadows. I thought nothing of it.”
“How could you forget something so important?”
My jaw dropped at the insinuation. “It didn’t seem important enough at the time. I thought it was a trick of the light. I didn’t know I needed to burn the memory into my mind. And I wasn’t exactly in the right state of mind after we got back that night to put two and two together.”
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that,” he said, leaning forward to rest his elbows on his thighs. His hands were clasped together, his forehead propped up on his thumbs as he appeared to be concentrating on something. “I’m just… I’m really fucking blindsided by this. I need to think.”
I pinched my bottom lip hard between my thumb and index finger, savoring the feeling of the pain as it kept my mind off the sense of dread building in the pit of my belly, the first sign of an impending panic attack. “I messed up,” I whispered, squeezing my eyes shut against the gory images in my mind. “I totally screwed this up, didn’t I?”
Jack’s arm wrapped around my back as the other slid under my knees to pull me into his lap. “None of this is your fault. You did nothing wrong.”
I rested my forehead on his clavicle and tried to breathe normally. “Of course I did nothing wrong, but that’s only because I did nothing at all. Sometimes doing nothing is worse than doing the wrong thing.”
As the words came out of my mouth, I thought of how utterly guilty I was. I’d done nothing to save my mother and son from being killed. And last night, when presented with the opportunity to do nothing with Isaac, I chose to do the wrong thing instead.
Jack tilted my chin up to look me in the eye. “I hate to be the one to remind you of this, but the coroner’s report specified that Beth and Junior were most likely killed very shortly after we left at seven p.m. Your mom hadn’t even set the alarm yet. We went to the waterfront at 11:30. If what you saw was the perpetrator or perpetrators, it would have been too late to save them.”
I covered my face with my hands. “This is like a nightmare that never ends. It never ends.”
Jack held me close, crushing me against his solid chest and stroking my hair.
“Please make it end,” I begged as each breath grew more shallow than the last. “Please. I don’t want to feel this way anymore. Please make it end.”
He kissed the top of my head. “I wish I could, pixie. I’d rip the sky in half if it would make the pain go away.”
We sat like this for a while, I curled up in his lap, head tucked into the warm crook of Jack’s neck. His hold on me slowly loosened as my breathing returned to normal. I didn’t know how much time passed, but when I woke in Jack’s arms, both of us lying in the bed, the tray resting safely on the rug, I knew I couldn’t tell him about Isaac yet.
I needed to give him time to get his bearings before I dropped yet another bombshell on him. Part of me knew this was selfish. I should confess now instead of waiting until the earth had solidified beneath him. But another part of me knew if I told him now, after everything he’d learned in Boise and after what I just told him, that would without a doubt be the end of us.
I knew now, after everything we’d survived, that Jack and I would never be as good apart as we were together. I needed to give us a chance. We deserved another chance to get this right.

***

Four days later

“I’m going to the yoga studio. Do you need me to pick anything up on the way back?” I asked Jack as I pulled my plum-colored GORE-TEX jacket off the hanger in the coat closet.
I was going to yoga, but not with Drea. My best friend and I still hadn’t made up after her refusal to help me lie to Jack. I understood why she refused, but that didn’t dull the sting of being rejected and possibly judged by her, even if I did deserve her judgment.
I was also going to make a stop at the drugstore on the way home from yoga, to pick up an at-home pregnancy test. Using an online calculator, I learned that yesterday would be the first day I could expect to get an accurate result. To err on the safe side and prevent any misunderstandings, I decided I would wait one more day.
My day of reckoning was here.
Jack sat on the edge of the soft gray sofa in the living room, leaning forward as he hunched over his laptop, which was perched on the industrial style coffee table. “I’m good, baby. Thanks for asking.”
I grabbed my yoga bag off the hook in the coat closet and slung it across my chest. But as I made my way toward the front door, that nagging sense of dread returned. I slid the bag off and dropped it on the floor. Jack looked up just in time to see me walking toward him. He opened his mouth to say something, but I quickly grabbed his face and silenced him with a deep kiss as I climbed onto his lap.
He chuckled as he leaned back on the sofa. “Is this your idea of yoga with Drea?”
I smiled as I look down at him, not correcting his assumption that I was meeting Drea. If I was pregnant, was Jack the type of man who would stick by me even if the baby wasn’t his? Or was Jack more like my father? Would he force me to choose between him and the baby? And if I chose Jack, was I perpetuating the cycle of abandonment issues and violence that eventually took Junior’s life?
“What are you thinking?” Jack murmured as he slid his warm hands under the back of my athletic tank top.
I planted a lingering kiss on his forehead, breathing in the scent of the lavender-mint shampoo we shared, which he claimed made him smell “like a girl,” but he didn’t care because it also made his hair “shinier than a masochist’s ass.”
“Gee, your hair smells terrific,” I replied.
It was a reference to an old shampoo commercial from the 80s my mom had told us about, one of her many colorful stories about “the good ol’ days.” Knowing the origin of the phrase, Jack didn’t laugh. Nor did he say a word. He laid a soft kiss on my chest and tightened his arms around my waist.
I lay my head on his shoulder and we sat like this for a while. No words between us. No anger between us. No pain, just love.
I sat up slowly and planted a kiss on his scruff. “I should get going. I’ll be back in a couple hours.”
Jack grabbed my waist before I could stand up. “I’m supposed to get a call from Detective Robinson today. She said they recovered Brandon’s cell phone from his trailer and they were going to check his cell phone records to see if he had the phone with him the night of the murders. If he did, and his phone was turned on, it may have pinged some local cell towers. They’ll also be able to see if he called anyone around the time of the murders.”
I nodded and stood up. “I hope I’m wrong this time,” I said, zipping up my athletic jacket.
“You’d think you’d be used to that by now,” he teased me.
I rolled my eyes and waved at him. “Bye, jerk.”
He flashed me a sexy smile. “Love you, pixie.”
I blew him a kiss. “I love you more.”

***

As I left the yoga studio, I reached into my bag to retrieve my cell phone, then tossed the bag onto the passenger seat. Sliding into the driver’s seat, I closed the door and glanced at the screen. There was a text from Jack, which had come in about ten minutes ago.

Jack:
Going to the gym. I’ll be back in an hour or so.

I narrowed my eyes as I stared at the message. Jack went to the gym at least five days a week and almost always went before six a.m. Sometimes, he got his workout in before I even woke. But I couldn’t remember the last time he’d gone to the gym in the afternoon.
Dread crept up from the pit of my belly as I realized I was having suspicious thoughts of Jack because I was projecting my own guilt onto him. Shaking my head, I gripped the steering wheel and took deep breaths as I repeated the mantra I’d been reciting in my mind for the last four days: It’s almost over. Everything will be okay. It’s almost over. Everything will be okay. It’s almost over. Everything will be okay.
I exhaled slowly then turned on the car and headed for the drugstore. I chose a store I’d never been to before, because it was two miles farther away from our house than the one I normally went to. Despite the November gloom and pouring rain, I wore sunglasses into the store. I also kept the hood of my jacket up as I picked out four different tests, and found myself glancing down every aisle and over my shoulder like a paranoid lunatic.
Jack and I were very recognizable to the peaceful citizens of Hood River. Our faces had been plastered on local and national media. The story of the murders had even been picked up by some tech reporters in other countries who called Jack’s office requesting interviews.
The first year was a media frenzy. But after I refused to go to the candlelight vigil on the one-year anniversary, and Jack stayed home with me in a rare moment of solidarity, the media madness quickly died down. People assumed our absence meant we no longer cared. The truth was quite the opposite. We cared so much it was shredding us apart from the inside out.
Jack’s truck was gone when I pulled into the garage and closed it behind me. With hands trembling, I left my yoga bag in the SUV and grabbed the plastic bag containing the pregnancy tests. As I pushed the car door open, I realized my entire body was shaking. Sweat sprouted on my brow, my chest tightened, and I closed my eyes to take several shallow breaths. I couldn’t have a panic attack now.
I coughed a few times, to clear the tightness in my chest, and took a couple of rapid, deep breaths to flood my lungs with much-needed oxygen. Within seconds, the tightness slowly began to dissipate. Opening my eyes, I quickly exited the SUV and headed straight inside and directly to the master bathroom. Jack would be back from the gym in about thirty minutes — if that was indeed where he’d gone. I had to do this fast.
My hands still trembled as I locked the bathroom door behind me. The shaking made opening the packaging and reading the instructions almost impossible. I splashed water in my face in an attempt to wash away the anxiety. But I could hardly hold myself up.
I shook my head and lined up the tests on top of the plastic bag I’d laid out on the counter next to the toilet. As quickly as I could, I urinated on each test stick for a couple of seconds, holding in my urine as I changed tests. When all four tests were lined up on top of the plastic bag, I wiped and flushed, then set the five-minute timer on my phone.
I waited with my head resting in my trembling hands. I tried to focus on my breathing as my fingers and toes began to tingle, a sure sign that my body was being flooded with adrenaline and stress hormones. The blood was rushing away from my limbs toward my racing heart. I really hoped those pregnancy tests were negative. If they weren’t, I was fairly certain I would pass out.
Massaging my temples and taking shallow breaths, the tingling in my fingers slowly went away just seconds before the timer went off. The sharp beeping sound sent my heart galloping. I clenched and unclenched my fists, wiggling my fingers to encourage the blood flow. The sound of the garage door opening came to me like a distant sound at the far end of a tunnel as I peeked at the tests.
Four tests. All four positive.

QUIT YOUR PITCHIN’ by Lani Lynn Vale – Cover Reveal

Today we have the Cover Reveal for QUIT YOUR PITCHIN’ by Lani Lynn Vale. Check it out and pre-order your copy today!

Title: QUIT YOUR PITCHIN’
Author: Lani Lynn Vale
Genre: Sports Romance
Model: Chase Ketron
Photographer: Furiousfotog
Designer: Lani Lynn Vale
Release: July 20, 2018

About QUIT YOUR PITCHIN’

What’s wrong with my butt?
She means those words to be directed toward the woman beside her, not him. But he can’t stop himself from answering. Not when her ass is the most magnificent thing he’s seen in his life.
Apparently, answering her with ‘not a damn thing’ wasn’t what she was expecting.
She likely wasn’t expecting the baseball she took to the face at his next at bat, either.
All it takes is one ill-fated foul ball, and George Hoffman, Lumberjacks center fielder, falls head over heels in love with Wrigley Field—and yes, that is her real name.
From that point forward, George and Wrigley fall into a fast whirlwind love that ends with them eloping to Vegas. And he has his potty mouth, titty bar owning, pain in the ass grandmother to thank for it.
Not that he’s complaining or anything.
Who wouldn’t want to be married to a woman that made his heart race like he was in the final game of the World Series?
The only problem is trying to convince her of that.

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About Lani Lynn Vale

Lani Lynn Vale is a USA Today Bestselling Author of over thirty titles. She is married with three children, two dogs, two cats, a donkey, and a couple (a couple also meaning over twenty) chickens.

When she’s not writing, you can find her curled up in her favorite chair reading.

Lani is married with three children and lives in the Great State of Texas.

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BLOOM by Cassia Leo – Cover Reveal

Today we have the Cover Reveal for BLOOM by Cassia Leo. BLOOM is the third and final book in the Evergreen Series and not one you want to miss! Pre Order today!

Title: BLOOM
Series: Evergreen
Author: Cassia Leo
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release: May 4th

About BLOOM

The heart-pounding, emotional conclusion to the Evergreen Series from New York Times bestselling author Cassia Leo.

Where flowers bloom, love grows.

With Jack determined to correct his past mistakes, and to help me cope with the news about Junior’s murderer, I find myself hardly able to function, my soul weighed down by renewed grief and crippling guilt.

When I confess my sins to Jack, watching the light in his blue eyes go dim with every word I speak, I know I will not soon be forgiven. Maybe I don’t deserve forgiveness.

When I confess my new predicament to Isaac, I’m met with words of comfort and an apology that leaves me reeling with regret.

I am truly my own worst enemy.

But I refuse to give up. With a renewed sense of purpose, I am determined to weed out my destructive habits and bloom into the person and the mother I was meant to be.

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About Cassia Leo

New York Times bestselling author Cassia Leo loves her coffee, chocolate, and margaritas with salt. When she’s not writing, she spends way too much time re-watching Game of Thrones and Sex and the City. When she’s not binge watching, she’s usually enjoying the Oregon rain with a hot cup of coffee and a book.

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KINDA DON’T CARE by Lani Lynn Vale – Release Blitz

Today we have the release blitz for KINDA DON’T CARE by Lani Lynn Vale. Check it out and grab your copy today!

Title: KINDA DON’T CARE
Author: Lani Lynn Vale
Release Day: April 5th
Cover Designer: Cover Me Darling
Photographer: Furiousfotog
Model: Joey Berry

About KINDA DON’T CARE

She’s in a white dress that dances around her ankles, and her hair tumbles in a long sheet of curls down her back. A veil covers her beautiful eyes, and she smiles directly at him. Janie is everything Rafe’s ever imagined she would be on her wedding day.

Breathtaking. Gorgeous. Perfect.

The moment he sees her walking down the aisle towards him, he knows that she’s the one.

Then she passes him, making her way to the man she’s to marry.

A man that wasn’t him.

A man that he knows with one hundred percent certainty isn’t good enough for her.

It seems that her father isn’t the only one who’s having a hard time giving her away. Rafe only wishes he knew why.

Everything about Janie sparks protective instincts he doesn’t feel for anyone, not even his own fiancé.

What he feels for the bride, however, isn’t merely a simple attraction. He knows that something is there just beneath the surface…if only he could reach it.

It has to be something huge, too, otherwise he wouldn’t be drinking whiskey straight from the flask in a church pew and wondering how many years he would do in prison if he shot the groom in front of about a hundred witnesses—half of those being cops.

He was good…but not that good.

A near-death experience cost Rafe almost six months of his memory, but right now he can’t help but feel like a huge mistake is being made on both of their parts. One that’s going to cost him everything.

Then she says I do.

 

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About Lani Lynn Vale

Lani Lynn Vale is a USA Today Bestselling Author of over thirty titles. She is married with three children, two dogs, two cats, a donkey, and a couple (a couple also meaning over twenty) chickens.

When she’s not writing, you can find her curled up in her favorite chair reading.

Lani is married with three children and lives in the Great State of Texas.

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Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie’s MY DEAR HAMILTON – Release Day Launch

 

 

Wife, Widow, and Warrior in Alexander Hamilton’s Quest for a More Perfect Union

From the New York Times bestselling authors of America’s First Daughter comes the epic story of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton—a revolutionary woman who, like her new nation, struggled to define herself in the wake of war, betrayal, and tragedy. Haunting, moving, and beautifully written, Dray and Kamoie used thousands of letters and original sources to tell Eliza’s story as it’s never been told before—not just as the wronged wife at the center of a political sex scandal—but also as a founding mother who shaped an American legacy in her own right.

 

MY DEAR HAMILTON is available now! Grab your copy today!

 

 

A general’s daughter…

Coming of age on the perilous frontier of revolutionary New York, Elizabeth Schuyler champions the fight for independence. And when she meets Alexander Hamilton, Washington’s penniless but passionate aide-de-camp, she’s captivated by the young officer’s charisma and brilliance. They fall in love, despite Hamilton’s bastard birth and the uncertainties of war.

A Founding Father’s wife…

But the union they create—in their marriage and the new nation—is far from perfect. From glittering inaugural balls to bloody street riots, the Hamiltons are at the center of it all—including the political treachery of America’s first sex scandal, which forces Eliza to struggle through heartbreak and betrayal to find forgiveness.

The last surviving light of the Revolution…

When a duel destroys Eliza’s hard-won peace, the grieving widow fights her husband’s enemies to preserve Alexander’s legacy. But long-buried secrets threaten everything Eliza believes about her marriage and her own legacy. Questioning her tireless devotion to the man and country that have broken her heart, she’s left with one last battle—to understand the flawed man she married and imperfect union he could never have created without her…

 

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EXCERPT: 

The fashion was now all empire waistlines and sheer fabrics à la Grec, which would have left me feeling naked without gloves and shawl. “I am dressed to be seen in society, sir!”

With the tip of his quill pen, he flicked my flimsy shawl to the floor. “And now you are not.” He gave his most irresistible smile.“Your country needs you. I need you. You are my good genius of that kind which the ancient philosophers called a familiar.” His eyebrows nearly waggled. “And you know that I am glad to be, in every way, as familiar as possible with you.”

Smitten by his flirtation, I gave a helpless shrug. “Oh well, for the country then . . .”

I forgot about the dinner party. I forgot everything but the familiar thrill of matching minds with the man I married. “Not that line,” I remember telling him. “That business about the ignorance of facts and malicious falsehoods will be taken harshly.”

“That’s the president’s line, not mine,” Alexander protested.

“Nevertheless, it portrays him as a partisan in the mud,” I argued, and our debate went well into the night. In truth, it went on for days as Alexander worked on the address, scribbling words and crossing them out.

Eventually, he removed the line to which I objected. That and many others, taking into consideration my suggestions, leaving me awed with the magnitude of the masterpiece. I knew, even then, that the Farewell Address was a moving and worthy tribute to the United States and its people. A plea for unity. A statement of purpose and guidance for the nation George Washington helped bring into being.

And because of Alexander Hamilton, I had the great and everlasting fortune to be a part of its shaping.

 

 

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About Stephanie Dray:

Stephanie Dray is a New York Times bestselling author of historical women’s fiction. Her award-winning work has been translated into multiple languages, illuminating women of the past so as to inspire the women of today. She is a frequent panelist and presenter at national writing conventions and lives near the nation’s capital.

 

 

 

 

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About Laura Kamoie:

Laura Kamoieis a New York Times bestselling author of historical fiction, and the author of two nonfiction books on early American history. Until recently, she held the position of Associate Professor of History at the U.S. Naval Academy before transitioning to a full-time career writing genre fiction under the name Laura Kaye, also a New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty novels.

 

 

 

 

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