Bombastic #BookBlitz: Five by J.A Huss

Five
J.A. Huss
(Mister 0.5)
Publication date: September 19th 2017
Genres: New Adult, Romance

Five Aston has known Rory Shrike for as long as he can remember. He played with her in the sandbox. He went to every damn horse show just to be supportive. He helped her with her French, walked her home from school, and faked his test scores just to stay with her a little longer and not be sent off to college early.

But eventually he had to move on.

And so did she.

Never has a second chance meant so much to a boy who loves a girl.

A standalone book that is also a spin-off of the Rook & Ronin Series and prequel to the Mister Series. You can read it first, you can read it last. It doesn’t really matter because it’s f*cking Five.

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EXCERPT:

“You want a kiss?”

“Mmmhmm,” I say, closing my eyes as I picture it. God, I’ve dreamed of this moment for ages. “I really need one, Five.”

His mouth touches my earlobe. Lips caress the soft skin of my neck. “Like this?” he asks.

“Yes,” I practically moan. “Just… like… that.”

“Do you want more, Princess?” he asks, his voice low now. Growly. Filled with so much promise.

“More, please,” I say, in my sweetest princess voice.

“Then promise me, baby. Just say those two words. ‘I promise.’ And as soon as you do that, I’ll give you everything you want. OK?”

“Five,” I moan. “Just—”

His hands come up suddenly. He cups my face, stares into my eyes with the most sincere expression I’ve ever seen on him. And underneath that sincerity, I see… fear. “Promise me.”

“Five,” I say, unable to stop staring back. This is everything. Everything I’ve always dreamed of. Five pressing me up against a wall. Me, the only thing on his mind. Except I’m not the only thing on his mind, am I? No. Those creeps from the past are back. That’s why he’s here. And even though I’d normally not give in so easy, I know this is not a game. So I say, “I promise. Now stop talking, you stupid genius, and kiss me already.”

He smiles. Leans in. I close my eyes, ready for it. Finally gonna get what I want.

But then he moves his mouth to my ear and nibbles on my lobe. “Good girl,” he coos. “But I’m not sure I believe you, Princess. I can feel those wheels turning inside your head. They’re grinding hard.” He presses his hard cock against my hip when he says that last part. “So I’m gonna hold off on that kiss until I get back tonight. And if you’ve been good, and if you’ve held up your end of the—”

“What?” I say, pushing him back. “You will do no such thing, Five Aston! I want a fucking kiss and I want one right now! I’ve waited six years for this, and denying me is practically emotional abuse. Now stop fucking around and kiss me, goddammit!”

“Who’s the boss of you, Rory?”

I huff out some air. “Me.”

He smiles. It’s a big, genuine, I’m-gonna-teach-you-who’s-boss smile. “Wrong answer.”

Author Bio:

JA Huss is the USA Today bestselling author of more than twenty romances. She likes stories about family, loyalty, and extraordinary characters who struggle with basic human emotions while dealing with bigger than life problems. JA loves writing heroes who make you swoon, heroines who makes you jealous, and the perfect Happily Ever After ending.

You can chat with her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/AuthorJAHuss), Twitter (@jahuss), and her blog, New Adult Addiction (www.jahuss.com).

If you’re interested in getting your hands on an advanced release copy of her upcoming books, sneak peek teasers, or information on her upcoming personal appearances, you can join her newsletter list (http://eepurl.com/JVhAr) and get those details delivered right to your inbox.

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Rapturous #Release #Blitz: Shush I’m Reading by Dawn A. Keane

Title: Shush I’m Reading
Author: Dawn A Keane
Release Date: September 20th, 2017
Genre: New adult romance/ Fantasy romance
 
 
 
 
Dealing with a neurotic, overbearing mother, an uninvited cat and staring at double D’s all day, it’s no wonder 24-year-old Billie Angel finds herself lost in a fantasy world more often than not. 
 
With her not so smart phone glued firmly to her hip, Billie’s life revolves around her reading apps. Chided for having her face stuck in her screen for more hours than she cares to count, Billie soon discovers that not all fantasies are in her head.
 
Enamored by the charismatic Hunter Williams, Billie finds herself unmistakably living the dream like something from the pages of a book. Not knowing her up from her down, Billie walks the tightrope that is the fine line between fiction and fact.
 
What happens when Billie finally wakes up and finds herself firmly on solid ground? Is Hunter really the man fantasies are made of, or the reality of something more?
 
A metaphysical romantic fantasy that will have readers rooting for Billie, a fellow bookworm!
 
 
 
 
In a sea of book boyfriends Dawn brings us our long lost book girlfriend. ~ Ursula-Nicole, Amazon Review
 
You almost get a book within a book with this and the twists and turns had me wondering what was going to happen next. ~ Lynne Garlick, Amazon Review
 
 
Prologue
 
MY EYES WIDEN. Pressing my hand against my chest, I stare, taking in my surroundings. The huge old library in my hometown has always fascinated me. Reaching out my other hand, I touch the books on the shelves, running my fingertips along their spines. Hundreds, upon hundreds, of books that have probably been read hundreds, upon hundreds, of times. Changing so many people’s lives within a few hours or days of being read. So many different stories between those pages. 
 
I gaze at the multitude of fantasies in utter awe.
 
My fingers trace their way down over the letters of the title on the paperback I’ve picked up. I don’t want to go home yet. I don’t want to hang around on the streets with my school friends. I want to run away, escape, forget about being a teenager, and forget my mum-who cares more about where her next drink is coming from than she does about me.
I need to get out of my head for a while, and this is the only way I know how.
 
When my dad read to me when I was small, I would get lost in the words, in the story. My imagination would take me away to another world and follow me into my dreams. 
 
And that’s why I’m here now-this is what I need, and this is where I belong. There is where I want to stay, and I do. I spend my days with my nose stuck in a book. 
 
I was brought up in Manchester and I am now living in the beautiful Scottish borders with my three children. 
 
I have enjoyed writing my story as I had a pretty hard upbringing and have suffered like everyone does over the years in different situations, but everyone has a story to tell.
 
I just hope my story can help someone out there who is, or has been through the same sort of situations as myself. 
 
 
 

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Ravenous #Review: Carnage & Desire by Lola Kyle

Carnage & Desire (Escape From Reality Book 5) by [Kyle, Lola]Title: Carnage & Desire

Series: Escape From Reality

Series Number: #5

Author: Lola Kyle

Genre: New Adult Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Quirky Words Publishing Ltd

Publication Date: September 15, 2017

Format: Ebook – ARC

Pages: 106

Rating: 5

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this work and chose to write a review.

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Blurb From Goodreads:

Ophelia Rosewood put the “O” in ordinary, until she’s attacked by a wolf.

Stupid human bears the mark.

For decades, Reginald St. Croix has been searching for his reincarnated mate. Then he finally finds her… Too bad she’s human.

World’s shift as mates collide.

When Ophelia’s mother is mudered, she vowed to find whomever was responsible and make them pay!

Will she follow through on her plan, even if it means killing the one person she believes she can trust?

A new world filled with carnage and desire leaves everything a bloody mess.

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My Review:

Talk about intriguing! It starts out as a paranormal romance but by the end who knows what’s going to happen. Warning, there is a cliffhanger and waiting for the next book is going to be hard. Ophelia is Ilya reincarnated, we get a few flash backs that answer a few questions but leave more in its wake. The unexpected twists and rising number of unanswered questions will keep you hooked until the end, which will then have you screaming for more!!!

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Author Bio:

PictureA passionate writer breaking into the field. She has enjoyed writing privately for years before deciding to pursuing it professionally. Lola adds a unique blend of culture, mischief and madness that she applies to her not so Happily Ever Afters.
The 24 year old entrepreneur, author and blogger started Quirky Words Publishing Ltd in 2016 to create a safe place in the Indie community for authors. Using this as an opportunity to grow and learn, she was taken under the wings of an amazing mentor, where she honed her craft until she deemed it was at a level that any reader deserved. Lola is a dedicated aunt, friend and animal foster. Spending her spare time at football games, recitals and volunteering at the local animal shelters, when she isn’t writing.

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Clever #CoverReveal: #HookUp by Cambria Hebert

#HookUp
Cambria Hebert
Publication date: October 1st 2017
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

Your #HookUp for all things #Hashtag.

Missing your favorite #family?

This is your exclusive invitation back into their world.

#HookUp is an explosion of the award-winning #Hashtag series by Cambria Hebert and makes the perfect collector’s item and addition to the series.

It’s a coloring book, but not just any coloring book.

#HookUp includes coloring pages that will rock your world, a #Hashtag-themed word search, recipes from your favorite characters, and…

Are you ready?

Bonus scenes!

Four bonus scenes total—two of which are brand new!

Find out what your favorite gang is up to these days.

So what are you waiting for?

Get the #HookUp!

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Author Bio:

Cambria Hebert is an award winning, bestselling novelist of more than twenty books. She went to college for a bachelor’s degree, couldn’t pick a major, and ended up with a degree in cosmetology. So rest assured her characters will always have good hair.

Besides writing, Cambria loves a caramel latte, staying up late, sleeping in, and watching movies. She considers math human torture and has an irrational fear of chickens (yes, chickens). You can often find her running on the treadmill (she’d rather be eating a donut), painting her toenails (because she bites her fingernails), or walking her chorkie (the real boss of the house).

Cambria has written within the young adult and new adult genres, penning many paranormal and contemporary titles. Her favorite genre to read and write is romantic suspense. A few of her most recognized titles are: The Hashtag Series, Text, Torch, and Tattoo.

Cambria Hebert owns and operates Cambria Hebert Books, LLC.

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Clever #CoverReveal: The Everlast #Series by Juliana Haygert

Destiny Gift
Juliana Haygert
(The Everlast Series #1)
Genres: New Adult, Paranormal

Her gift will bring light to a world of darkness…

In 2047, the world exists in permanent darkness. Nineteen-year-old Nadine, a student at NYU, works hard to better her family’s life in the harsh conditions. When she starts having strange visions of someone named Victor, she tries to ignore the flashes, afraid she might be going insane.

But when she bumps into a very real Victor, her entire world shifts. Her visions taking a turn for the worse, Nadine is bombarded with prophecies of eerie fates, unfamiliar gods, sharp-clawed demons… and instructions. Along with the reluctant Victor, she finds her path entwined with yet another man, Micah, who may be able to shed light on her dark revelations.

Directed down an unbelievable path of magic and mayhem, the three must unravel clues from the visions in order to restore an ancient creed. The chance to bring sunlight to the world again is in Nadine’s gift, but only if the evil forces behind the darkness don’t manage to stop her first.

If you like Urban Fantasy Romance with Post-Apocalyptic elements, you’ll love this action-packed story about destiny, self-discovery, and love. Destiny Gift will entice fans of Lauren Kate, Cassandra Clare, and Kim Harrison.

Goodreads / Amazon

Soul Oath
Juliana Haygert
(The Everlast Series #2)
Genres: New Adult, Paranormal

Her soul will restore life after death…

It’s been three months since the events that changed Nadine’s life, and she’s finally starting to put the pieces back in some semblance of order. But she knows this new normal cannot last. Until Victor and Micah find the scepters that will restore them to their true forms, their human bodies will require her healing touch. It’s only a matter of time before the men return to wreak havoc on her world again.

As if to prove her right, Victor shows up, a swarm of demons on his trail. After turning him away, Nadine is forced to flee to safety, unwilling plunged right back into the chaos of the mystical world. Despite her attempts to keep her family out of the battle, the unthinkable occurs, and her only hope lies in the oath she forces Micah to make.

Confronted by her greatest fear, Nadine finds a new motivation. Vengeance. And when seeking revenge, no risk is too great, including her own life.

Goodreads / Amazon

Cup of Life
Juliana Haygert
(The Everlast Series #2.5)
Genres: New Adult, Paranormal

He will live forever, but his existence will mean nothing without her.

Not even a god can break a soul oath. Refusing to accept Nadine’s imminent death, Micah goes on a perilous journey to discover a way to change her terrible fate. A legend about a cup holds the key, but the price to get it may be more than he is willing to pay.

A short novella from Micah’s point of view about his attempt to use love’s light to break through death’s unforgiving darkness

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Everlasting Circle
Juliana Haygert
(The Everlast Series #3)
Genres: New Adult, Paranormal

Her fight against darkness will only delay death…

With the last battle fast approaching, the time to gather allies for an army is running out. As are the number of days left in Nadine’s life.

Despite Micah’s insistence that they find a way to stop Nadine’s impeding death, she chooses to focus all her attention on strategies to win the war instead. With a new hero, a new god, and new abilities, she starts to believe they might actually have a chance to lift the never-ending veil of darkness. Until a betrayal throws a wrench into their carefully made plans, setting them back to square one.

Lost and angry, Nadine contemplates giving up, but her warrior spirit won’t allow her to admit defeat. Her time on this Earth might be ending, but she has too much to accomplish before she dies. Against all odds, Nadine will keep fighting to win the war… even if it takes until her very last breath.

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Author Bio:

While Juliana Haygert dreams of being Wonder Woman, Buffy, or a blood elf shadow priest, she settles for the less exciting–but equally gratifying–life of a wife, mother, and author. Thousands of miles away from her former home in Brazil, she now resides in Connecticut and spends her days writing about kick-ass heroines and the heroes who drive them crazy.

Subscribe to Juliana’s newsletter to stay up-to-date with new releases: http://eepurl.com/CKsmX

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Blazing #BlogTour: Joined by Mara Gan

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Joined book coverJoined
by Mara Gan
Genre: YA/NA Sci-fi Romance
Release Date: September 12th 2017
Inkspell Publishing

Summary:
Duty and prophecy get in the way of everything.

All I ever wanted to do was read my books, play my sports, and help people. Life and prophecy had other things in mind.

Helping people is what I do; as an empath and semi-frequent telepath, I can easily sense and understand people’s needs and emotions. Sometimes even before they do. Being able to read everyone’s thoughts and feelings all the time can drive me crazy with anxiety, but that moment when I can finally make someone’s life better makes everything worth it.

Unfortunately, I’m also the next in line to rule the galaxy, I’m the only diplomat most planets will listen to, assassins try to kill me on an annoyingly regular basis, and a much-vaunted Prophecy has decreed that I’m going to die. Oh, and someone blew up my home planet.

Kind of a lot to deal with, right?

Too bad I just got another problem: a big, irritating, overbearing bodyguard with serious anger management issues.

And I think I’m falling for him.

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BUY LINKS:

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/joined

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0748VYHDR

Itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1263748434

EXCERPT:

Synie waved her hand impatiently. “Meda, you’re seriously not arguing about having a Protector?”

I held up a finger. “I never said that. And I found out who he was a week ago.”

Kos raised an eyebrow and Synie started. “What? How did you know?” she asked.

I shrugged. “I went through Kos’s communiqués.”

The unfortunate thing about Kos was that I couldn’t read him. I had the ability to read people’s emotions, and if they were particularly weak-minded or just upset, I could read their thoughts too; being upset tended to loosen control over the mind, which made it an open book to me. It was a pretty central part of how I understood people.

But Kos… nada. I studied his face, but it hadn’t altered with the news that I’d gone through his mail—again. I shifted uncomfortably.

Synie flicked a glance between me and Kos before saying, “I’ll leave that little tidbit between the two of you. But, Princess, you are going to have this Protector.”

I sighed, letting my head flop back against the chair. “I know. And I get it. But don’t expect me to like it.”

“Do you want to know more about the Protector?” Kos finally spoke.

“Perseus, right?” I considered what I’d learned. “He’s Mathan, a mercenary—often referred to as the best mercenary the galaxy has ever seen—and has never lost a fight.”

Kos sat back. “So you know Mathan moods can be a bit….”

“Temperamental? Explosive? Unpredictable? Testosterony?”

His mouth quirked. “Mercurial.”

Synie shook her head. “Is that really the kind of Protector we want?”

Kos leaned forward. “He was divined by the Oracle herself.” His eyes turned hard as he looked at me. “And we sure as hell need to get the princess protected as soon as possible—from herself if nothing else.”


About the Author:

A Pacific Northwesterner by birth and disposition, Mara has lived in Washington DC, Oregon, Japan, and most recently the beautiful Pacific Grove, California, before returning to her roots in Seattle. By day she teaches history to unsuspecting teenagers, and by night she writes books and travels to far-flung places. She loves to be with animals, read, play sports, and drink more London Fogs than is likely good for her.

Connect with Mara on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/maraganbooks

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The Page Unbound     www.thepageunbound.com      Review

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Bombastic #BookBlitz: Ruin Me by Shana Vanterpool

Ruin Me
Shana Vanterpool
(Crystal Gulf #3)
Published by: Swoon Romance
Publication date: September 12th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

Crystal Gulf, Texas, breeds bad boys. Unapologetic when it comes to their desires, they destroy, they damage, and now they’re going to ruin …

Jona can’t see his lifestyle the same way after what happened to Hillary in Damage Me. Partying and getting high has amounted in only hurting himself and others. But he’s lost sober, and everything feels wrong without his one true love in his life.

Returning to Crystal Gulf was inevitable for Justine. The loss of her dreams sends her back to where they started. But there’s one silver lining, the same one that’s gotten her this far. Jona Kyles is waiting for her. The moment they reconnect, the destruction is painfully addictive.

It’s impossible not to pick up where they left off. After an impassioned night together, they didn’t expect it to come back and haunt them. Forced in the same reality, they must battle against their pasts and fears to give their second chance the future it deserves.

But some second chances come with scars …

Ruin Me, book three in the Crystal Gulf Series, is a powerful and raw second chance romance about forgiveness and growth, with a swoon-worthy bad boy and a heroine who is as strong as she is fierce.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

Jona

I roll over, groaning as my head pounds.

When I do, my hand smacks off a smooth pale ass. I sit up and stare down at the female body it belongs to. Long, pale legs. Heart-shaped ass. Lower back tattoo. Butterfly. Classy. There’s a thong on the end of the bed. Light pink, lace.

Shit.

The room is unfamiliar. Girly. Greek letters adorn the alcove over her closet. Sorority. College. Frat house alley.

My brain springs back to life, throwing memories of me pounding back shots and shoving my hand up skirts. Jacob had gone as far as locking the door after me, despite my best attempts to get him to come out with me. He was impervious to my methods. Apparently, tits and booze don’t tempt him as much as they do me. Go figure.

“Loser,” I mumble, rolling out of her bed so I don’t wake her. I don’t feel like playing that awkward hookup I’ll never see you again game right now. My jeans are on the floor. I hop into them and search for my shirt, finding it draped across her desk. My wallet and phone are still inside my jeans, so that’s a good sign. I smell like perfume, and my back hurts—I don’t even want to know why.

I slip out of her room and find the hall crawling with naked tail. They don’t even pause when I walk by, a few of them probably having the same experience as me last night. Their perky tits bounce, and their towel-wrapped bodies parade past me with knowing smiles. I duck my head and search for the front door.

When I make it back home, after a walk-of-shame and headache-filled hobble down the street, I find Jacob and Hayden, another roommate, eating cold pizza in the kitchen.

I grin, running a hand through my hair, trying to appear more alive even if I feel far from it. I don’t know why I put up the pretense this morning. I look like shit any way I see it. I need to cut my hair, but don’t have the desire to care about how I look. I usually put in some kind of effort. My façade’s the only thing I have going for me, and—thankfully—I’m a handsome bastard. Lately, however, worrying about how I look feels like trying to breathe with one lung missing. Every breath could be deeper, could mean so much more.

“Morning, virgins.” I head over to the fridge, yearning for something to kick the headache pounding in the back of my skull and the leftover taste of blurry whiskey-laden kisses. “I can smell your hairless balls and fondness for tighty-whities in the air.” I’m not sure there is something strong enough to kick anything for me.

“Is he still drunk?” Hayden whispers, pushing his glasses higher up on his nose.

“No. I think this’s just who he is.” Jacob clears his throat. “Be nice. He has to be this forever.”

I glare as I inhale a bottle of water. Crunching the plastic, I toss it in the garbage can across the island. “Exactly.” I miss Bach. My down-for-anything party buddy. He drank as much as I did, and high wasn’t high enough. He’d fallen in love like a pussy last summer and took off, leaving me here with myself.

Inadvertently putting his little sister Hillary in my path. Memories of her passed out in my bed with a black eye, skirt flipped over her waist, and that rapist piece of shit jumping out of my window, have me doubling over in the hall. I brace myself against the wall and squeeze my eyes shut, but you can’t run from memories. I know first-hand. They never go away. The cops wouldn’t even take me seriously with my priors and my reputation. They’d let a monster walk free to hurt other angels because it wasn’t true coming from a guy like me.

But the truth is still the fucking truth.

I couldn’t have known what Zane Eastwood would do. I slept with women who loved saying yes. If they said no, I moved on. But there were men like Zane who blurred the lines of what bad and evil were.

There are different kinds of bad. Different levels of evil. There are men like me who sleep around and do drugs, but understand that women have every right in the world to tell my piece of shit ass no. And then there are men like Zane Eastwood. Men who pull the feathers from angel wings one white feather at a time.

So, I walk past a clean house with The Big Bang Theory playing in the living room and not a pair of whipped cream covered tits in sight, because that’s what’s good for everyone. I’d give up my past in exchange for not hurting anyone else. I just hadn’t figured out what I left myself with yet.

The restless energy inside of me is growing, knocking into my guilt and colliding with my desire to escape.

I shower, washing my dick the way I’d wash a prized trophy. Carefully, gently lathering my hard shaft with my soapy palm in reverence. It’s all bullshit, though. There’s nothing reverent about me. It’s why I’m here. But sometimes, you have to claim your bullshit and be who you are even if it isn’t good because at least there’s that. I grip my trophy and claim my prize.

“Don’t mind if I do.” I brace myself against the tiled wall as I jackoff. It doesn’t take long before her dark chocolate eyes, and tall, tanned curvy body fight their way into my mind. Justine is the only woman ever to turn me on and be on the other side of the country.

She is my perfect woman. Pulling emotions from me I don’t even realize I have. Her skin is always lightly tanned, and her curves are always plenty. There are too many parts of her to focus on. My dick thickens in my fist. I grunt at the memory of her full round tits bouncing heavily as she rode my cock. Her dark eyes gleaming, mahogany hair flowing down her back. Her flat stomach leading the way to her hip bones and a shaved tight … perfection is illusive, but in this moment, Justine comes damn close.

“I miss you,” I cry out miserably as I explode, coming all over the shower as pain invades my chest.

It’s only reserved for her, this pain. For my Justine. She can try and be someone else’s. She can pretend. But we both know she’s mine. Her heart, her body—she’s the only thing in the world that makes me feel anything good.

That’s why I always ruin it.

I’m not sure what good even is at this point. What anything good is doing anywhere close to me. But I know it’s good when it feels bad. How can I hold onto something that brings me so much joy at the same time it rips out my heart?

Falling onto my bed wrapped in a towel, I stare up at the wooden beams in my ceiling for so many hours that the nerds I rent my rooms to start crawling out of their caves. I imagine them blinking at the light, hissing at the sun as they make their way down to the kitchen for sustenance. The sound of men giggling reverberates from downstairs, and I know for a fact they’re not talking about anything I’d find funny.

Nope, no blowjobs here.

I spend the next couple weeks ignoring them as best I can. They’re here to keep me out, and I take full advantage of my desire to be as far away from everything as possible. I ignore every part of myself. Drinking drinks with women who offer them. Sleeping with women I abandon in the morning. My walks-of-shame become too frequent.

Author Bio:

When I walk into a book store I feel at home. When I smell the pages of a brand new book things make sense. When I read I am who I always wanted to be. I read to escape and I write so others can as well. My family, my actress dog Bella, coffee, and a steamy love story are a few of my most precious things.

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Bombastic #BookBlitz: Pretty Perfect by Lana Sky

Pretty Perfect
Lana Sky
Publication date: May 31st 2017
Genres: New Adult, Romance

Perfection. It is an illusion that twenty-year-old Anya DeSotto strives to maintain.

The perfect ballerina.

The perfect daughter.

The perfect liar.

Everyone else seems fooled by the charade—but Anya isn’t prepared for the moment her perfect mask is cracked in half by someone much more adept at the art of pretending.

Nearly two decades her senior, Revend Marcus, the owner of a prestigious international ballet company, has no problem with breaking Anya down to suit his own twisted idea of perfection. But when a shadow from Revend’s past looms over their futures, and Anya’s insecurities push their relationship to a violent crescendo, the resulting chaos threatens to destroy them both.

Though, sometimes, even destruction can be pretty perfect.

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EXCERPT:

When I finally left the bathroom and entered the larger rehearsal room, his real voice berated me from the center of it. “About time. Warm up.”

A chandelier hanging from the ceiling was already lit, flooding the room with orange light—as well as illuminating several distinct fixtures. He owned his own piano, tucked into the corner. There was also a metal dance barre, about six feet long, placed near the wall before me. Behind it was an even longer mirror stretching nearly all the way up to the ceiling. My reflection mocked me from it, wearing a sheer skirt that hung crookedly around my waist.

Revend frowned at the sight, though who could blame him? How in the hell was he supposed to transform this robot into a real girl?

“Warm up,” he barked, gesturing to the barre.

He never gave me any direction, so I began my usual exercises, focusing on each core muscle group one at a time. Legs. Arms. Back.

The mirror threw his reactions in my face, making them impossible to ignore. The frown when I lifted one leg over the barre. The way it grew more pronounced when I started to work on the second. How, with every plié, his narrowed gaze scanned my face for emotion.

“Look at me.”

I wasn’t brave enough to mention that I had never stopped. When I glanced over my shoulder, I found that his real expression wasn’t any warmer than the reflection.

“We will do the pas de deux from the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet,” he said. “I will only rehearse the partner work minus the lifts, but you need to know the full routine.”

The full routine. One that just so happened to include an infamous kiss at the end. Sizing Revend up, I couldn’t tell if he planned on rehearsing that part too.

“Why?” I asked.

“Why?” His eyes narrowed into slits. “Did you even read the instructions for the next round of auditions?”

I bit my lip rather than admitting my lack of preparation out loud. Two weeks. Only then did it sink in just how little time that was to prepare.

“Get into the starting position.”

I stiffened as Revend appeared behind me. Before I could react, his hand captured my waist.

“En pointe,” he commanded as his fingers flexed possessively. “Now, begin.”

What was that saying? Third time’s the charm. It fit there almost, considering that I had danced the role of Juliet only twice before in my junior year of a performance arts academy in the city. I had been an understudy at first, only to be thrust into the lead role when the principal dancer got sick off bad sushi. The reviews in the community newspaper read something along the lines of, Beautiful production but stiff female lead—an opinion Revend seemed to second.

“Don’t tense,” he hissed. His hands went to my shoulders, correcting my posture with precise nudges. “You’re stifling your own motion.”

“I don’t—”

“You don’t speak. You dance.”

Dance. I used the command as an excuse to move away from him, but I could never escape my own reflection. The woman performing a series of light steps alongside me was no Juliet. Maybe just a jilted member of the corps shoved onto the very back of the stage as a nameless extra: servant number one.

“Stop!” Revend snarled halfway through the variation. Tearing a hand through his hair, he retreated to the other end of the room.

For the first time, I realized he didn’t have his cane. It leaned against the chair in the corner.

“You’re a young girl,” he bellowed, his voice reverberating through the walls. “You’re in love. Passionate. Show me.”

How did people show passion outside of forced luncheons and silent dinners? Maybe this damn ballet held the answer; the act began with Juliet rushing excitedly to meet her Romeo. One count passed. Then another as I hesitated on the balls of my feet.

I didn’t recall Romeo having graying hair.

“You’re thinking like a child and not a dancer,” Revend scolded as if reading my mind. “All that matters is maintaining the illusion. Make me believe it!”

I launched into the steps without giving myself the chance to believe in anything—to regret having shown up at this lesson. I was Juliet, prancing across marble to meet the man she’d admired from afar. Juliet, rising on pointe to pirouette in her lover’s arms…

And I was Anya in the arms of Revend Marcus, who seized my waist mid-spin and marshaled me over to the mirror.

“Look! Watch your face,” he hissed against my ear. “Your heart is racing. Your body is tense. But what do you see?”

Negative traits stood out in stark contrast, impossible to overlook. I only saw someone in over her head, dressed in a pretty uniform that highlighted the blank, unnatural expression on her face.

Feel?

Robots couldn’t feel.

“Forget the dance.” He captured my head with his hands, raking his fingers through that perfect bun at the nape of my neck. “Only feel.” His thumb brushed the corner of my mouth as if to give me a sensation to study.

When I flinched, the nail grazed my lip. My chin. Lower…

“Ignore the source. Focus on the feeling and take what you need from it to create your own illusion.”

What I needed?

Maybe for him to stop touching me. My own family didn’t touch me. They looked. They watched. Monitored. Pitied. Hugs were for real girls; robots simply needed daily programming. The firmer Revend’s fingers dug into my hip, the more my insides twisted, struggling to register every sensation. Too warm. Too hard. Everywhere.

“S-stop—”

“No.” He muscled in even closer. My back struck his chest, his right thigh caging my hip. “Ignore everything but what you need to craft your illusion.”

Easier said than done. Only his tone kept my heart from racing. He sounded cold, like a professor attempting to show an ignorant student the folly of her ways. Even the way he touched me held purpose. His nearness forced my spine to lengthen. His hands urged my feet to turn out further, my toes perfectly pointed.

“Become Juliet,” he grunted before standing back. “Move.”

I raised my arms and turned out my left foot. I’m Juliet. I’m…

“Dead!” Revend hissed. “You’re already dead before an ounce of poison even touches your lips.”

Staring into the empty, blue eyes watching me from the mirror’s surface, I had to agree with him. I didn’t even recognize the woman he was taunting. Why did she seem so damn cold?

“Begin again,” Revend snapped, but I lifted my arms only for him to swat them down. “Try again. Move. Feel, Anya.”

He made it sound so damn easy. Feel. But how could I with no lines to recite? No fake smile to wear for show? No daddies to lie to or mommies to placate?

No script.

PrettyPerfect_1

Author Bio:

Lana Sky is a reclusive writer in the United States who spends most of her time daydreaming about complex male characters and legless cats. She writes mostly paranormal romance, in between watching reruns of Ab Fab and drinking iced tea. Only iced tea.

Drain Me is her debut novel and the first novel in the upcoming “Ellie Gray Chronicles.”

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Bombastic #BookBlitz: Delayed Departure by Abigail Drake

Delayed Departure
Abigail Drake
(Passports and Promises, #2)
Publication date: August 16th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

When Bethany Beaumont finds a book about life in the sultan’s harem, she discovers it’s actually a guide to the lost art of seduction. Just what she needs as she departs on a study abroad trip to exotic Istanbul. She’s struggling to get over her ex, and the book of dirty little secrets might be just the thing to help…if only she could find someone to practice on.

Half-Turkish and full of Australian swagger, teaching assistant Adam Kent seems to fit the bill. They decide to become lovers for the duration of the trip, and then part ways. Forever.

But not every lesson can be found in a book, and sometimes falling in love changes everything. When Bethany is forced to confront her past, and the promises she made to someone else, will it really be as easy as she thought to let Adam go?

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EXCERPT:

The sound of a slamming door caught my attention. I’d wandered farther than I’d intended, and the dark, narrow street felt a little ominous. I was about to turn and head back to the main square when I saw a woman standing next to a black car, staring at me.

Tiny and beautiful, she had large, dark eyes and brown hair with an auburn tint. She wore a red dress, slinky and tight, hugging her small bosom and narrow hips. Her shoes matched her dress, and so did her lips, which were painted bright crimson. The color made her pale face seem even paler. She looked about my age, but her eyes seemed much older. A fascinating mix, and an interesting subject to capture.

Without realizing what I was doing, I raised my camera and snapped several photos of her.

One. Two Three.

I never took only a single shot. I had to take three to make sure I got the perfect one. What if I only took one and missed something better? But today there was no danger of that. The subject was perfect; exotic, fragile, and completely out of place in her surroundings. And there was something about her I recognized instantly, although it took me a second to put my finger on it.

The girl standing in the alley had a broken heart. I knew it when I saw it, because I had one, too.

A man appeared at her side, and grabbed her by the upper arm, pulling her toward a car. Her arm was so small, his entire hand wrapped around it, and he squeezed it hard enough to hurt.

I wondered if she needed help, but didn’t know how to ask. Truth be told, I didn’t know if I should ask. The girl didn’t act bothered or frightened, and whatever was between them seemed personal. Private. Maybe I was just being paranoid. After my best friend Gabriela had been raped last year, I’d started seeing everything as an assault. I needed to learn how to look at things more objectively. The camera helped because it was an impartial witness. Unemotional and cold.

The girl’s face looked unemotional and cold, too. A mask. Her eyes bored into mine, and I continued to snap her photo, like a silent pact between us.

One. Two. Three.

The man turned, seeing me for the first time. There was something about the twist of his lips that made me think he might be cruel. Or maybe it was the way his hand gripped her bony little arm, pressing into her skin. My heart pounded, but I didn’t flinch. I kept my camera up, focusing on his face as I took more shots.

One. Two. Three.

As he scowled and moved toward me, fear blossomed in my chest. I lowered my camera and took a step backward. I was alone in a strange country. I didn’t know the language. It had been a mistake to come down this alley all by myself. Even if I screamed and ran away, I had no idea what would happen. Would anyone hear me? Would anyone help?

I turned, in a complete panic, and bumped into a solid wall of muscle. A large hand gripped my shoulder. I let out a screech, and went into full ninja mode. I’d never taken a single martial arts class in my life, but now I made wild chopping motions with my arms and hands like some kind of psychotic Karate Kid. If I hadn’t been so scared, I would have laughed at the ridiculousness of it, but I was way too terrified to laugh at this point.  

“Settle down, Bob. I’m here to take you back.” The man who’d kicked my suitcase stood behind me, looking intensely pissed off. “I can’t believe you got lost only a block away from the hotel. That takes skill.”

I blinked at him in surprise and lowered my hands, my camera dangling around my neck. “I’m not lost. Why are you here?”

He’d changed his clothing. He wore on a bright yellow t-shirt saying, “Anadolu Turizm” on it, followed by a bunch of Turkish words. His shirt may have looked sunny, but his demeanor did not. And he’d put his magnificent hair into a man bun.

Yuck. I hated man buns.

Author Bio:

Abigail Drake has spent her life traveling the world, and collecting stories wherever she visited. She majored in Japanese and International Economics in college and worked in import/export and as an ESL teacher before she committed herself full time to writing. She writes in several romance genres, and her books are quirky, light, fun, and sexy.

Abigail is a trekkie, a book hoarder, the master of the Nespresso machine, a red wine addict, and the mother of three sons (probably the main reason for her red wine addiction). A puppy named Capone is the most recent addition to her family, and she blogs about him as a way of maintaining what little sanity she has left.

She is a member of Pennwriters, RWA, Three Rivers Romance Writers, Mindful Writers, Women’s Fiction Writers, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She teaches writing to children through the Young Writers’ Institute and at local libraries.

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