#excerptshare #titillating The Beauty of Us by Kristen Proby @Handbagjunkie @InkSlingerPR

 

 

From New York Times bestselling author Kristen Proby comes a sexy, new standalone contemporary romance in her Fusion Series, THE BEAUTY OF US, releasing August 22, 2017! Check out the chapter below and get to know Trevor and Riley!

 

 

About THE BEAUTY OF US:

New York Times bestselling author Kristen Proby delivers another sizzling novel in her delectable and sexy Fusion series.

Riley Gibson is over the moon at the prospect of having her restaurant, Seduction, on the Best Bites TV network. This could be the big break she’s been waiting for. But the idea of having an in-house show on a regular basis is a whole other matter. Their lives would be turned upside down, and convincing Mia, her best friend and head chef of Seduction, that having cameras in her kitchen every day is a good idea is daunting. Still, Riley knows it’s an opportunity she can’t afford to pass on. And when she meets Trevor Cooper, the show’s executive producer, she’s stunned by their intense chemistry.

Trevor’s sole intention is to persuade Riley to allow Best Bites TV to do a show on her restaurant. But when he walks into Riley’s office, he stops dead in his tracks. The professional, aloof woman on the phone is incredibly beautiful and funny. But can he convince her that he’s interested in Riley for himself? Or is he using the undeniable pull between them to persuade her to agree to his offer?

 

 

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Chapter 2

~Trevor~

I didn’t sleep worth shit last night. I waited for a response to my e-mail from Riley for a while; I’m not exactly sure why. I just don’t like the thought of her being embarrassed.

Because she has no reason to be. She didn’t know who I was, and it was closing time. She was venting to her friends.

It’s really no big deal.

But I could see the mortification in her big blue eyes when she realized who I was, and that doesn’t sit well with me.

When no response came, and for all I know she hasn’t even read the e-mail yet, I sat down for a game on the PS4. I don’t travel anywhere without it. Some people read to unwind. Some go to the gym, and there are times I do the same. But to truly relax, I enjoy gaming. I have since I was a kid.

So I settled in the apartment the network has rented for me this month and played online with my friends, talking about our days and shooting the enemy.

We played well past midnight, and I usually would have gone right to bed afterward, but my mind was still turning, making falling asleep impossible. The restaurant is better than I imagined through my research on their website and customer reviews. It’s visually stunning, the food is fantastic, and they’ve hit the mark on the sexy factor.

But added to that, the five women who own the place are all beautiful, smart, and will make for great TV. Viewers will eat this show up, pun intended.

I lean over the sink and wash my face, not bothering to shave today, and as I dry off, I reach for my phone.

I have several new e-mails.

The most recent is from Riley Gibson.

Trevor,

Thank you for your kind email. I apologize again for the conversation last night. I would like to promise that we don’t always talk like that at work, but that would be a lie. At least we keep it to closing time over a glass of wine.

Enjoy Portland,

Riley

I grin and sling the towel over my bare shoulders. Riley isn’t what I had pictured in my head before I got here. I knew that she was pretty because their photos are on their website, but she’s much prettier in person.

And animated.

Working with her will be fun.

And a test to my libido. Because Riley is fucking sexy. I’ve never mixed business and sex before, and I don’t plan to start now, but keeping my hands off her will be a test of wills.

And that too should be fun.

After my run this morning, I stopped by a bagel place to eat and read a newspaper, came back to the apartment for a shower, and I think I’ll go to Seduction for lunch. I hadn’t planned to go back there until my meeting with Riley tomorrow, but I also haven’t had lunch there yet.

I dress quickly in jeans and a red T-shirt and walk the six or so blocks to the restaurant.

They’ve just opened, so they’re not busy yet. The atmosphere is calm, the lighting a bit brighter than last night, making it a fun spot to meet with colleagues or friends for lunch.

I’m seated on the far side of the restaurant, where it meets the bar, and I can see Riley and the other women sitting around a high table, talking.

Loud enough for me to hear.

“So, he’ll be here tomorrow. Filming doesn’t start for another week, unless the timetable has been moved up,” Riley says, studying her iPad and checking things off a list. “It would be great if we could watch our language.”

“Right,” Mia says, rolling her eyes. “Because that’s gonna happen.”

“Just watch the F-bombs then,” Riley says with a grin. “And I’ll do my best not to vent to him about my horrible dating experiences. Not that I’ll be having any more of those.”

“I wish I’d been here for that,” Addie says with a smile. “It’s hilarious.”

“No, it’s not,” Riley says, but smiles and covers her lips with her fingers. “Okay, it’s a little funny. I’ll be working from home today.”

“Why?” The blonde speaking, I presume Cami, asks.

“Because I have a roofer coming today,” Riley says. “But if you need me, just call. I can come back after he leaves.”

“Go.” Mia waves her off. “We’ve got this.”

The girls all stand, about to go their own ways to get their day started. They’re clearly good friends, which will come across well on film.

Riley walks out of the bar and glances up, spotting me.

“Hi.” I offer her a smile and motion for her to join me. She sits, sets her iPad aside, and squares her shoulders.

I love a woman with grit.

“Why are you here?” she asks.

“I’m having lunch,” I reply, and gesture to the salad sitting in front of me. “It’s delicious. Adding the brussels sprouts is smart.”

“I’ll pass that along to Mia,” she says, and then laughs. “I guess you heard the part where I asked the girls to not swear.”

“I did,” I reply, and patiently butter a piece of warm bread. “Don’t worry about that stuff. They’re adults.”

“With potty mouths,” she says.

“And we can bleep stuff out, or ask them to rephrase. You’ve already got the gig, Riley. I wouldn’t be here otherwise. This isn’t an audition.”

“I know.” She sighs and reaches over to take a piece of my bread, surprising and delighting me. “I just want things to go smoothly.”

“Perhaps you should order lunch too.”

“I don’t have time,” she says, and then her blue eyes widen as she realizes what she just did. “I’m so sorry. I eat when I’m stressed out, and I didn’t—”

“No.” I hold my hand up to stop her. “It’s fine. I like that you’re relaxed with me. I think you need to relax more often.”

“What are you, my life coach now?”

“If you like. Did you cancel those dating sites like I suggested?”

She bites her lip and looks to the side, then nods. “I did.”

“Good.” I take a bite of salad and nod. “Are you sure you don’t want some food?”

“I rarely have time to eat,” Riley says, and checks the time on her phone. “In fact, I should go. I have to meet the roofer at my house.”

“What’s wrong with your roof?”

“It’s old,” she says with a shrug. “That’s what happens when you buy an old house. I’m fixing it up a little at a time.”

I nod, and find that I don’t want her to go quite yet. I want to talk more, to learn more about her.

“Why don’t you come to my apartment tonight and I’ll cook you dinner?”

She pauses and stares at me for a moment. “Why?”

I laugh and set my fork down. “Because I asked you to. We’re going to be working closely over the next few weeks, we might as well get to know each other a little better. Also, we can discuss my new duties as your life coach.”

“Well.” Her lips twitch as she thinks it over for a moment, a myriad of emotions moving across her beautiful face, and finally she says, “Okay. Do you mind texting me the address and the time?”

“Not at all,” I reply, and immediately pass her my phone. “Plug in your number and I’ll text you this afternoon.”

She complies, passes it back, and smiles. “Okay, see you later.”

And with that, she’s off. Her ass swaying enticingly in her tight skirt, calves flexing from the height of her heels, and the food I’m currently chewing immediately tastes like cardboard.

Jesus.

And I just voluntarily offered to spend time with her. Alone.

I’m a fucking glutton for punishment.

[no ornament]

“I’m starving,” Riley immediately says as I open the door. She’s in jeans and a well-loved University of Oregon sweatshirt, her hair is pulled up in a ponytail, and she looks like she could be a co-ed herself. “I forgot to eat today.”

“Does that happen every day?” I ask as I gesture for her to come inside and close the door behind her.

“Most days,” she admits. “Is this one of those bad choices that you’re gonna coach me through?”

“Yes,” I reply, and lead her into the kitchen. “You have to eat.”

“I know, I just get focused on other things, and the next thing I know, the day is gone and I’m starving.” She passes me two bottles of wine. “I didn’t know what we were having, so I brought red and white.”

“Thanks.” I grin and set them both on the counter. “I made salmon and asparagus with baby red potatoes. What goes best with that?”

Her eyes light up. “The white. Holy shit, are you a chef yourself?”

“I went to culinary school,” I reply, and squeeze some lemon on the salmon before plating it. “But I discovered I was better at a desk job.”

“That’s unusual,” she says, her head tilted to the side as she listens. “Most people fight to get out of a desk job.”

“Not me. I have a ton of respect for Mia, because being a chef isn’t easy, and pleasing people sucks.”

“True.” Riley nods. “She doesn’t get many plates sent back to her, but there are a few. Can I pour you a glass?”

“No thanks,” I reply, and reach in the fridge for a bottle of water. “I don’t drink alcohol.”

“Oh.” She frowns. “I’m sorry. I can drink water too.”

“It’s fine,” I reply, and pat her shoulder. “I don’t mind if you drink. I just don’t.”

“But last night, you were drinking Jack and Coke.”

“Nope, just Coke.”

She sits at the table, still frowning. “I’m sorry.”

“There’s nothing to be sorry for.” I set our plates down. “I’ve been sober for ten years. I’m not the kind of alcoholic who can’t be around others having a drink. It was never that bad for me. I’m just a better person if I don’t drink.”

“Good for you for knowing that,” she says, holding her glass out to clink against my water. “This looks delicious.”

“You sound surprised.”

“I expected pizza or Chinese takeout,” she says. “Honestly, that’s probably what you would have gotten from me. I’m also surprised that you’re not staying in a hotel.”

“I’m here long enough that the network sprung for the apartment. They usually do when I’m somewhere longer than a week or so.”

“You must travel a lot for this job,” she says, eating her food like a starving child. I don’t know if she even tastes it, she’s eating so fast.

“I travel often,” I reply, and grin when she takes the last bite. “Are you going to lick the plate?”

“Maybe,” she says with a grin. “I’m not even embarrassed that I ate that so fast. It was delicious.”

“I’m glad you liked it. There’s more.”

“No, I’m good,” she says, and reaches in her bag, pulling out a pad of paper and a pen. “You can eat while I interview you.”

“For what?”

“For the position of life coach,” she says with a sassy grin. I want to kiss that grin right off her face, but instead I take a bite of potato and gesture for her to begin.

“Okay, first question: What qualifications do you have that make you a good fit for this position?”

“Well, I have a few years on you, so I would say wisdom with age.”

She tilts her head to the side, the way she does when she’s turning something over in her head. “You can’t be that much older than me.”

“I’m thirty-seven.”

“Seven years,” she says, rolling her eyes.

“A lot can happen in seven years,” I reply, and sip my water.

“Okay, I’ll give you that.” She checks something off on her paper.

“Did you really write down questions?”

“Of course. I’m the queen of lists and the roofer was at my house forever.” She bites her lip as she looks at her list. “How many women have you life-coached in the past?”

“Well, I didn’t have an official job title, but I have two younger sisters, and an ex-wife, so I would say three.”

“But the wife is an ex, so maybe that did go well?” Riley asks. “And are your sisters productive members of society?”

“As opposed to being in jail?” I ask, laughing. “You’re hilarious, Riley.”

“You didn’t answer the question.”

“My sisters are great. The older one is married, a stay-at-home mom with two kids, and the younger one is a waitress.”

“But the ex-wife thing didn’t work out.”

“She’s not a mess, we just both decided that she shouldn’t be my wife anymore.”

“Why?”

I sit back in my chair and wipe my mouth on my napkin. “Because she thought it was a good idea to have sex with other men.”

Her eyebrows climb on her forehead and she blinks twice. “That’s a good reason.”

“I thought so.”

“Okay, next question.” She checks something on her paper and looks up at me with a smile. “How do you intend to be compensated for your work?”

“I’m working pro bono,” I reply with a wink.

“Why?”

“Because I’m going to be here anyway, and why not.” I shrug and finish the food on my plate. “What else do you want to know?”

“Is my coming to a virtual stranger’s apartment by myself one of the bad decisions you should have coached me on?”

I smile and set my plate aside so I can lean on the table. “Did the girls tell you that coming here by yourself was a bad idea?”

“I only talked to Cami and she thought I should come. Plus, I have a concealed carry, so I feel pretty confident that I’m safe.”

I raise a brow and cross my arms over my chest. “You carry a gun with you?”

“Hell to the yes,” she replies, and offers me a sweet smile. “I’ve been meeting strange men on the Internet. You bet your ass I’ve been armed.”

“Good idea,” I reply with a nod. “There are a lot of crazies out there.”

“Yes. But I think that if you’re gonna meet a crazy, it could be anywhere. Online, in a bar, at the gas station. They’re everywhere.”

“That’s true too,” I reply, and nod. “Well, I’m glad you’re being cautious.”

“I’m nobody’s victim,” she says, as casually as if she’s telling me her shoe size.

That’s fucking sexy.

“Do you have any other questions?”

“Not really,” she says, and shrugs. “I didn’t really write anything down. But it was fun to interrogate you a bit.”

“Now I have questions,” I reply, and smile when she cocks her head and purses her lips. “Do you really think you need a life coach?”

“No, I have my shit together,” she says with a grin.

“Why were you really on all of those sites?”

She shrugs. “Because it’s not easy meeting people. And sometimes a girl wants to go out on a date.”

“You don’t need me,” I reply, and smile. “But I’ll be around for a while, just in case.”

“Just in case I slip and fall back into the online dating?”

“That, or if you just want to have dinner, or chat. And I think we should watch a marathon of Star Wars. Your lack of knowledge is cause for concern.”

“It’s kind of a guy thing,” she says.

“I know many women who like Star Wars.”

“Well, I would watch one or two.”

“You need to see them all to understand what’s happening.”

“That’s a lot of hours of my life that I’ll never get back,” she says with a frown. “Aren’t there CliffsNotes somewhere? A speedy way to get caught up?”

“No,” I reply, and fist my hands in my lap so I don’t reach out and tuck her hair behind her ear.

Or yank her against me so I can kiss the fuck out of her.

“Are you okay?” she asks.

“Are you always this observant?”

“I’m an overthinker,” she says. “So yeah, I’m an observer.”

“I’ve been labeled an overthinker too,” I say with a grin.

“Would you say it’s an accurate assessment?”

“Oh yeah,” I say with a nod, and stand to clear our plates away. She stands to help. “I’ve got this.”

“No way, you cooked, so I’ll help clean.”

She walks ahead of me, her empty glass in one hand and her plate in the other. “Do you use the dishwasher, or do you wash by hand?”

“There are people who still wash by hand?”

“I’ve heard of them, but I’ve never seen them in the wild,” she says, and smiles up at me when I join her. “So I guess that means we use the dishwasher?”

“Yes.” She rinses and I load, and a few short minutes later, we’re done.

“Well, I suppose I should go,” she says, and checks the time on her phone. “Oh, Cami texted. I guess I should reply so she doesn’t think you killed me after the entrée.”

She smirks and types on her phone, then turns it off and looks up at me.

“Thanks for dinner.”

“You’re welcome.”

“I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”

Unfortunately, it won’t be in my bed.

“You will.”

“Okay.” She gathers her bag, notepad and pen, and walks to the door. “Sleep well tonight.”

I grin and congratulate myself for not dragging my fingertips down her cheek.

You sleep well tonight, Riley.”

“Okay. Bye.”

She leaves and I close the door, letting out a slow breath. Jesus, she’s sexy and funny and smart as fuck.

And I’m not going to touch her while I’m here.

How the fuck am I going to do that?

 

Don’t miss the first chapter of THE BEAUTY OF US! You can read it here!

 

 

About Kristen Proby:

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Kristen Proby is the author of the bestselling With Me In Seattle and Love Under the Big Sky series. She has a passion for a good love story and strong, humorous characters with a strong sense of loyalty and family. Her men are the alpha type; fiercely protective and a bit bossy, and her ladies are fun, strong, and not afraid to stand up for themselves.

 

Kristen lives in Montana, where she enjoys coffee, chocolate and sunshine. And naps.

 

 

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Clever #CoverReveal: You Only Live Once by Lakeshia Poole

You Only Live Once
Lakeshia Poole
Publication date: August 22nd 2017
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

Transferring to Aurbor Grove University was a big mistake. Karma Juarez knows this for sure. Unbeknownst to her sister, their ‘girls night out’ to the grand opening of a new lounge is her personal farewell to the college. She can’t wait to get away, but a walk down the wrong alley at the wrong time draws her into the middle of a dangerous street feud that almost costs her life. Now, she can’t shake the traumatic night — or the man who saved her — from her mind and heart.

Ezekiel “Zeke” Oliver abandoned his religious upbringing for riches years ago. Then, a close encounter with death leaves him wondering: is redemption still possible? After a chance cell phone recording catapults him into a viral video sensation, Zeke attracts good and bad attention. While he’s set to capitalize on the moment and start a new chapter, enemies from his past plot to destroy everything he loves – his family, his woman…his life.

You Only Live Once is the third book in The Village Series.

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Author Bio:

I’m a storyteller and am very passionate about sharing my writing and journey with others. Born and raised in Georgia, I am a proud alumna of The University of Georgia. I graduated with degrees in Public Relations and Sociology and had my share of fun times and hard lessons learned. The life-changing experiences inspired me to write The Village Series (Don’t Let Me Fall and Exes and Os). I believe in keeping life POSITIVE and PURPOSE-DRIVEN-that’s why I smile so much :). Between my super old-school Mama, quirky Maltese-mutt JoJo Dancer and smart-mouth nephew “Peanut,” life is always an inspiration for my next story.

Get a behind-the-scenes peek at The Village Series and read my blog about faith, fiction, family and fab finds: http://www.LakeshiaPoole.com. Follow me on Twitter @JustLakeshia and Facebook.com/LakeshiaPoole.

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#coverreveal Hard Wood by Lauren Blakely @inkslingerpr @laurenblakely3

 

 

HARD WOOD is coming October 23, 2017! A standalone romance told from the male Point-of-View, HARD WOOD is the final hot and hilarious book in the Big Rock series. Pre-order your copy today! Kindle users—stay tuned for the preorder right before release! And don’t miss the hot, new cover below!

 

 

Cover Design by Helen Williams with Photography by Wander Aguiar Photography

 

About HARD WOOD:

Women often say a good man is hard to find. And a hard man is even better.

That’s why I’m quite a catch— good, hard, loaded, and wait for it…I’m ready to settle down too. But the woman I want to pitch my tent with is precisely the one I need to stay far away from.

After that fantastic night with Mia Summers, I’m ready to give her many more. But there’s a hitch in my plans — she just hired my company. If there’s one thing I’m committed to, it’s running a squeaky clean adventure tour business. One of the iron-clad rules?

Don’t screw your customers.

I can follow my own guidelines. After all, it’s only a week-long trip with Mia and her employees over the trails and down the hills I guide them on. I can obey the rules—even if it’s hard in the woods.

I’m about to give myself a badge of honor when the storm of the century hits, sending everyone else running for cover, but us—my biggest temptation and me, alone for a long weekend. You don’t screw the client, especially when you’re already in love with her . . .

But what’s a guy to do when she’s so hard to resist?

 

 

 

 

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About Lauren Blakely:

A #1 New York Times Bestselling author, Lauren Blakely is known for her contemporary romance style that’s hot, sweet and sexy. She lives in California with her family and has plotted entire novels while walking her dogs. With fourteen New York Times bestsellers, her titles have appeared on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestseller Lists more than eighty times, and she’s sold more than 2 million books. In September, she’ll release MOST VALUABLE PLAYBOY, a standalone sports romance. To receive an email when Lauren releases a new book, sign up for her newsletter! laurenblakely.com/newsletter

 

 

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Clever #CoverReveal: Pieces Of Me by Shiloh Walker

Title: Pieces of Me
Author: Shiloh Walker
Re-Release Date: July 30th 2017
Genre:
Contemporary Romance
 
 
 
 
Obsession can be deadly…
Nobody knows that better than Shadow Harper. It seemed like a dream
come true when a rich, suave older man noticed her during her second year of
college. Stefan Stockman seemed to love her obsessively. He came into her life
and swept her off her feet, seduced her, married her…and then slowly,
eventually, that dream come true became a living nightmare.
Now, three years after she finally escaped him, she’s trying to put her
life back together. Haunted by memories, struggling with post-traumatic stress,
she spends most of her time locked away in her home on Pawley’s Island, a small
town on the South Carolina coast. Her rare moments of joy come from her trips
to the nearby beach.
She compulsively checks the locks on her doors, makes sure she has her
cell phones—five of them—and if she misses something on her schedule, it throws
her into a panic.
When she accidentally leaves a sketchbook on the beach, an anxiety
attack seems imminent. Her art has become her salvation, her sanity, and losing
even one sketch is like losing a piece of her soul. When she returns to hunt
for the sketchbook, already fearing it’s gone for good, she’s surprised to find
it still sitting there, saved by a sexy fellow beach lover—the mysterious
Dillian Jenkins.
He’s brash, bold, brutally handsome…and gentle. He’s the exact opposite
of the man who’d tormented her for years, and Shadow finds herself slowly,
almost reluctantly, falling for him. Even obsessing over him.
When her ex-husband once again intrudes on the happiness she’s finally
discovering, Shadow turns to Dillian. But will she find shelter there…or
another betrayal?
 
 
  
Shiloh
Walker has been writing since she was a kid… she fell in love with vampires
with the book Bunnicula and has worked her way up to the more…ah… serious
vampire stories. She loves reading and writing anything paranormal, anything
fantasy, but most all anything romantic. Once upon a time, she worked as a
nurse, but now she writes full time and lives with her family in the Midwest.
She also writes under the pen name J.C. Daniels.
 

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Clever #CoverReveal: André by Sybil Bartel

André
Sybil Bartel
(Uncompromising #3)
Publication date: October 16th 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

André

The Marines trained me to set my sights and wait for the shot. For eight years, I guarded my brothers and defended my country. Now I protect my clients. My personal security firm is the best in the business because I leave nothing to chance… until a dark-haired, hazel-eyed spitfire crosses my path.

She and her sexy-as-hell striptease were supposed to be a one-night distraction. But too late I noticed the branding on her back and my blood ran cold. This woman wasn’t a distraction—she was a death sentence.

Knowing who she was left me no choice. I took her on as my client. But running from her past wasn’t an option.

The Marines didn’t train me to retreat. They taught me to engage.

One shot. One kill.

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Previous books in the series:

Author Bio:

Sybil Bartel grew up in Northern California with her head in a book and her feet in the sand. She dreamt of becoming a painter but the heady scent of libraries with their shelves full of books drew her into the world of storytelling. She loves the New Adult genre, but any story about a love so desperately wrong and impossibly beautiful makes her swoon.

Sybil now resides in Southern Florida and while she doesn’t get to read as much as she likes, she still buries her toes in the sand. If she isn’t writing or fighting to contain the banana plantation in her backyard, you can find her spending time with her handsomely tattooed husband, her brilliantly practical son and a mischievous miniature boxer…

But Seriously?

Here are ten things you probably really want to know about Sybil.

She grew up a faculty brat. She can swear like a sailor. She loves men in uniform. She hates being told what to do. She can do your taxes (but don’t ask). The Bird Market in Hong Kong freaks her out. Her favorite word is desperate…or dirty, or both—she can’t decide. She has a thing for muscle cars. But never reply on her for driving directions, ever. And she has a new book boyfriend every week—don’t tell her husband.

To find out more about Sybil Bartel, be sure to follow her on Twitter (she loves to hear about your favorite book boyfriend!), visit her website, like her on Facebook or join her Facebook group Book Boyfriend Heroes for exclusive excerpts and giveaways.

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#firstchapter Hope Restored by Carrie Ann Ryan @carrieannryan @inkslingerpr

The last book in Carrie Ann Ryan’s Gallagher Brothers series releases in less than a week – but you can read the first chapter now! Check it out below and preorder your copy today!

 

 About HOPE RESTORED

The Gallagher Brothers series from NYT Bestselling Author Carrie Ann Ryan concludes with the final brother who thought he had everything to look forward to, and the one woman who can handle him.

Life isn’t worth living if you don’t fight to live. That’s what Murphy Gallagher learned at a young age when cancer ravaged his body not once, but twice. Over the course of his survival, he lost his parents and his childhood, but he’s been healthy for years and has become a man he hopes his family is proud of. But when his world tilts on its axis yet again, he’ll have to learn what it means to fight not only the unknown but also his attraction to his best friend.

Tessa Stone works hard and plays harder. She’s spent her life trying to figure out who she is in the present rather than looking back. Yet when she’s forced into close proximity with Murphy, she’ll have to not only be his rock but learn how to relax enough to maybe let him be hers, as well. But seduction doesn’t stop when the world seems to, and close encounters of the naked kind might just be the first step in something much more complicated than either of them bargained for. Life, though, is for living, after all.

Add HOPE RESTORED to your Goodreads list here!

HOPE RESTORED releases July 25th, 2017 – preorder your copy now!

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Chapter One of HOPE RESTORED

Sometimes, life was damn good. Other times, it kicked him in the balls until he couldn’t catch his breath. Today, luckily, was one of the good days. Murphy Gallagher grinned from ear to ear as he tried to run from his niece, Rowan. She was eleven now and getting pretty fast, but he was faster. Not that he’d actually run at his full speed around her. It was always more entertaining when she caught him and took him to her lair.

As he was the evil dragon to her warrior princess, it only made sense.

“Behold! My mighty sword that shall slay the dragon!”

Murphy bit his tongue so he wouldn’t start laughing, but seriously, where had Rowan learned to say things like that? Of course, she was almost a teenager now and probably a little too old to play princess and the dragon, but that wasn’t something Murphy would ever bring up. Her mom, Blake, had been married to Murphy’s brother, Graham, for a little while now. Murphy hadn’t known Rowan when she was little, and he had a lot of playing to catch up on being her favorite uncle.

Sure, his brothers Owen and Jake were decent uncles, as well, but he would always be the best. Jake was the artistic one, Owen the type-A, Graham the grumpy one, and Murphy was the fun one.

He had to play his part and make sure Rowan had the time of her life. She’d only had her mom to play with for years, and while Blake was a kickass mother who made sure Rowan had the best childhood, Murphy wanted to make sure Rowan had even more fun now.

Murphy rolled to the ground as Rowan jumped on his back, both of them laughing so hard they shook. He made sure to take the brunt of the impact so he wouldn’t hurt his niece. She giggled as she stabbed him with her imaginary sword, and he put his hand over his heart and gasped, feigning injury before letting his tongue hang out and groaning.

And… the dragon was dead.

“Victory!” Rowan stood up and started dancing near Murphy’s corpse like any dignified warrior princess was wont to do.

“It’s about time,” Graham said with a laugh as he walked out from the porch where the rest of the Gallaghers were sitting. “I thought you’d have gotten him within the first few minutes, Rowan.”

Murphy sat up as Rowan beamed at her stepdad, though she just called him “Dad” now. Murphy smiled as he remembered the first time Rowan had called his brother “Dad” in front of them. Every single Gallagher had choked up and didn’t bother shrugging it off. They might all be inked, bearded, and pierced, but Rowan referring to Graham as her father as if it were no big deal was a big fucking deal.

“I didn’t want my prey to feel like it didn’t put up a fight,” Rowan said solemnly.

Murphy barked a laugh. “Prey? Really? What shows are you watching these days?”

Rowan turned to him and rolled her eyes with the pro of a teenage girl, rather than the eleven-year-old she was. “It was from a book, duh. Uncle Border got me a whole set of books with dragons in them.”

Border was Jake’s husband and the quietest of their group, though Murphy knew Border and Jake’s wife, Maya, was slowly changing that. The triad had been together the longest out of the Gallagher relationships, and yet they still acted like newlyweds with the way they incessantly groped one another.

Come to think of it, Blake and Graham acted the same way. And, hell, Owen and Liz— newly engaged— made out relentlessly, as well. No wonder Liz and Blake were pregnant; their men couldn’t keep their hands off their women.

That, of course, meant that Murphy was the last single Gallagher. He didn’t mind, though. After all, someone had to bear the mantle of bachelorhood. Plus, he really wasn’t ready to start settling down yet. He’d just learned to live life as it was, no need to change everything so dramatically again.

And that was enough of that.

Murphy rolled his shoulders and took Graham’s outstretched hand, helping him to his feet. “It wasn’t Game of Thrones was it?” he asked his niece.

Rowan rolled her eyes again, and Graham narrowed his. “It wasn’t that, Uncle Murphy.”

“What did we say about rolling your eyes so much, Rowan? Use your words, not your attitude.”

Rowan blushed and looked down at her feet. “Sorry, Dad.”

Murphy did his best not to smile at the way Graham’s chest puffed out at that. Seriously, the man was like a damn peacock. And now that Blake was pregnant, his brother was even worse. It was as if he were the first man to get his wife pregnant. And considering Jake and Border already had a kid with Maya, and Owen’s fiancée Liz was also pregnant, it wasn’t as if babies were something totally new to their crew.

Though with the way everyone kept popping them out, Murphy made a mental note to buy more condoms. There was something in the water with all the pregnancy hormones flying around like they were.

Murphy followed father and daughter back to the porch and gingerly took a seat next to Liz’s former roommate and Owen’s neighbor, Tessa— the only other single person at the Gallagher family dinner. He’d hit the ground a bit hard when he rolled to make sure Rowan didn’t get hurt in her exuberance and now his muscles were feeling it. He was in damned good shape— had to be for his job— but, apparently, he needed more protein or something because his body made him feel like an old man.

Murphy looked at the brunette next to him. Tessa wasn’t a Gallagher, but she was the only family Liz had, even though they weren’t related by blood. Plus, it would have been awkward as hell to not have Tessa over since there wasn’t a fence separating the two yards at the moment. Owen had taken it down after a few of the boards rotted. Eventually, they’d put it back up.

Considering that the family owned a construction and restoration company, it wouldn’t take too long, but they actually had to find the time to do it. Murphy figured he’d be enlisted soon to take care of it since he was the only one without a pregnant significant other or kids to keep him busy. And it wasn’t like he minded. He liked being able to do things for his family since they’d spent so much of their lives doing things for him when he couldn’t do them for himself.

And that, once again, was enough of those thoughts.

“You okay, dear dragon?” Tessa asked with a wink before handing over a beer. He took it with a wink of his own. “Thanks, and yeah. That warrior princess is tough.”

She laughed and pulled her long, chestnut hair behind her shoulders. He hadn’t seen her wear it down for a while since she was always working and tended to do severe ponytails. He had to say, he kind of liked it better down. Not that he’d tell her that since she’d have his balls for breakfast if he did. Every single woman in the Gallagher’s circle tended to be a ballbuster, and while Murphy loved it, he didn’t want to lose his nuts. He liked them, what could he say.

“That she is, but I was serious. You hit the ground hard, and you winced when you sat down. Did you hurt yourself? Because you know, Murphy Gallagher, you may still be hot as fuck, but you’re not getting any younger.” She whispered the last part so the kids wouldn’t hear, and Murphy held back a snort.

Considering he’d spent most of his life praying that he’d have a chance to get older, he didn’t mind that he had a few more aches and pains now that he was in his thirties. Hell, he’d relish the day he got wrinkles and grey in his hair. That meant he was alive to witness his body changing. For a man who didn’t know if that would ever happen, it was his own form of bliss.

Of course, he didn’t tell Tessa any of that and wasn’t sure why he’d let his thoughts get that deep so suddenly. Tessa was a fantastic person and sexy as all get out, and he loved flirting with her, but there was no way he’d get into deep feelings or heavy conversation with her. Their dynamic worked because they joked around and kept things light— if a bit inappropriate at times. If he changed that, then things would get fucked up, and he didn’t want to jeopardize what they had. Hell, he didn’t want to jeopardize her position in the group.

Everything was better if they just remained friends that didn’t go too deep.

“Hey, Murphy, did you send over the files on the house?” Owen asked, a frown on his face as he looked at his phone. Liz was perched on his lap, their hands tangled over her baby bump. She was finally starting to show, and Murphy loved the way she glowed. She just finally seemed so at peace with being pregnant, though he knew that wasn’t always the case since the baby hadn’t exactly been planned.

He made another note to himself to buy condoms. He couldn’t be too careful these days.

“I did,” he answered before pulling out his phone to check his outgoing messages. “I thought you replied back.”

Owen let out a sigh. “Shit, I did. Sorry. Didn’t get much sleep last night.”

Murphy looked over at Tessa and winked since she loved joking with him, and she laughed before whistling. “What were you doing, Mr. Organized One, if you weren’t sleeping.”

Owen looked over to where Rowan held her cousin Noah, Jake’s son, and shook his head. “Perv,” his brother whispered. “I was up finishing the final details on Blake’s house.”

Blake looked over and widened her eyes. “It’s almost done? Really?”

Murphy didn’t blame his sister-in-law for the incredulous look. The Gallaghers had been working on Blake’s family home for over a year now and had hit every obstacle known to man, including a kidnapping and an injured worker thanks to Blake’s former in-laws. Murphy fisted his hands as he let the rage wash through him, remembering everything that Graham and Blake had gone through when they were dating.

“It’s almost done,” Graham said as he wrapped his arm around Blake’s middle, his large hand resting over Blake’s tiny baby bump. She wasn’t as far along as Liz, but she was close.

Blake wiped away tears and turned into Graham’s arms for a hug. Murphy blinked in surprise at Blake’s show of emotion since she usually hid what she felt so well. Either she was feeling more comfortable around them, or it was the baby hormones. Knowing Blake, it might be a little of both.

“I can’t believe it’s almost done,” Blake said after a moment. “I mean, I knew you had to be close, but…” She shook her head as if at a loss for words.

Maya came up and hugged Blake, even though Graham refused to let his wife go. “These guys are pretty amazing, aren’t they? And soon, you won’t have to deal with the house at all. It’ll be in the city’s hands and only a distant memory.” She kissed Blake’s temple before going back to take Noah out of Rowan’s arms.

Murphy didn’t know the whole story behind Blake’s childhood, but he knew it wasn’t good. She’d grown up affluent but with the worst kind of family. She’d run off as soon as she could, and had had Rowan when she was pretty young. And when her parents had died, they’d left the huge mansion in disrepair and neglect but had forced Blake through their will to oversee the restoration. The project had brought Graham and Blake together, but other than that, it had been a pain in the ass. And considering that Murphy loved jobs where he got to dive into the history of a place and see how to keep some of the past blended into the present, it was saying something that he truly wanted nothing more to do with the project.

The others began talking about the next steps involved in finishing up the house as well as what they would do next since their last big project hadn’t panned out thanks to shady deals and selfish businessmen. But Murphy just closed his eyes and let the breeze slide over him. He’d slept for shit the night before, and he wished it had been because of a woman. Instead, he hadn’t been feeling well and had tossed and turned all night.

“Hey, I’m going to go get the chips and salsa, want to help?” Tessa asked. She put her hand on his forearm, and he opened his eyes. Her hands were cold to the touch, but it could be that his skin was overheated. Ever since the chemo when he was younger, he had a hard time keeping a consistent body temperature. That’s what happened when you had leukemia when you were in grade school and again when you were a teenager. You dealt with the side effects for the rest of your life.

No wonder he was damn tired.

“Sure,” he said and sat up, taking a sip of his beer once he was on his feet. The others were still shooting the breeze and passing Noah around. The kid was getting pretty big since he was nearing one year old now. Or at least Murphy thought. He should probably check his calendar and make sure he hadn’t missed a birthday since their family kept growing.

He and Tessa made their way to the kitchen and got out the chips and three kinds of salsa and dip that they’d made for the barbeque. Tessa brushed by him on her way to the fridge, and his cock hardened.

He glared down at his crotch, annoyed with himself for once again getting hard around her. She was his friend. Sure, they flirted because it was fun, but they’d never fooled around, and there was no way they would now. They’d firmly put themselves into their roles, and he didn’t want to change that.

Of course, his dick had other ideas, but hell, Tessa was hot. She was tall, mostly leg, and had just enough curves that he knew he’d have plenty to hold onto when he fucked her from behind or held her up against the wall and pounded into her.

Not when.

Never.

He would never be fucking Tessa against anything, thank you very much.

Tessa snuck a chip into the salsa and groaned. He did his best not to think about whether she’d groan like that under him, or over him… anywhere around him.

“This is so good. Here, taste.” She held out a chip with salsa on it, and he bent forward, taking it in one bite as he gently nipped at her fingers.

She swallowed hard before lowering her hand and giving him a sultry smile. “Like it?”

He nodded before swallowing. “Spicy.”

“I like a little heat, what can I say.”

He snorted and took a sip of his beer. He loved flirting with Tessa, even though he had to use his hands more often than not when she wasn’t around because she kept him in a perpetual state of arousal. He couldn’t help it. She was sexy and flirted better than anyone he’d ever met, but still, they were just friends.

Tessa took his beer from him since she hadn’t brought hers with her and took a sip, her eyes on him the whole time. He cleared his throat and looked away, only to glance at her breasts and notice that her nipples were hard pebbles against her very thin bra.

Damn, he could just bend her over the kitchen island and fuck her right there. Just slide her jeans down and fill that tight pussy with his dick. She’d cream for him, coming hard on his cock, and he’d fill her to the brim.

And… that wouldn’t be happening.

He shook off those thoughts, and Tessa gave him a knowing wink before handing back his beer. He took a deep swallow, finishing it off, and then tossed the bottle into the recycling can.

“Why didn’t you bring Brian?” he asked, keeping his mind on what was important. Like the fact that she was sort of dating a guy that wasn’t him.

Tessa laughed and picked up one of the trays of veggies they’d also taken out of the fridge. “His name is Brent, dork. We’re not that serious and still pretty new. There’s no way I’d bring him over to one of these. We’re just casual. And why didn’t you bring one of your many lady friends?”

“There aren’t that many, and I’m not seeing anyone serious right now.” In fact, now that he thought about it, he hadn’t been with a woman in over a month. Hell, no wonder he couldn’t get sex with Tessa off his mind. He just needed to get laid, and everything would work itself out.

Thoughts of Tessa just might kill him, but damn, he loved being her friend. Way better than any fucking amazing sex they might have.

“You’re never seeing anyone serious, Murph. It’s why we get along. Let the others be adults and get settled. We can live it up for the rest of them.”

She turned and sashayed from the room, and he did his best to keep his eyes off her very bitable ass. It wasn’t exactly easy since it was right there and practically speaking in tongues at him.

He followed Tessa out to the back deck and bent over the table to set everything down. He froze at Tessa’s gasp and looked over his shoulder.

“What is it?”

“What the fuck, Murphy?” she asked, pulling up his shirt. “What happened to you?”

He frowned and straightened, trying to see what the hell she was talking about. “Huh?”

“Jesus Christ,” Jake said shakily. “Your back, Murph. You’re black and blue.”

“What’s wrong with Uncle Murphy?” Rowan asked, her voice shaky.

Thunder pounded in Murphy’s ears, and he tried to process what everyone was saying, but they were all talking at once and trying to tug up his shirt. He pulled away from them and ran back into the house and into the nearest guest bathroom so he could check himself out in the mirror.

They had to be wrong or just fucking with him. Everything was fine. He was not black and blue. There was no way this could be happening again. He was healthy, damn it, and had been for a decade.

He wasn’t sick.

He wasn’t bruised.

But when he turned on the light and lifted up his shirt, he couldn’t think. Couldn’t speak. He’d looked at himself that morning after he got out of the shower, and the bruises hadn’t been here. Yet his side and what he could see of his back were covered in newly formed bruises. They weren’t bad yet, but he knew they’d grow.

They always did.

“Murphy,” Tessa whispered from the doorway. “I… Murphy…”

He met her eyes in the mirror and tried to think of something to say to brush this off, but he couldn’t. He knew what the bruises meant. He’d seen them before. Every single little ache and pain, infected scratch from the jobsite, mood swing, and fever over the past few weeks came back to him in a rush.

His cancer was back.

And he had no idea what the fuck he was going to do about it.

 

HOPE RESTORED releases July 25th, 2017 – preorder your copy now!

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About Carrie Ann Ryan

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

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Clever #CoverReveal: Monsters & Angels by Anne Marie Andrus

Monsters & Angels
Anne Marie Andrus
Publication date: October 2017
Genres: Historical, New Adult, Paranormal, Romance

Fledgling nurse Sorcha Alden knew she had the skills to save lives, but she never dreamed that her own life would be the one in danger.

Driven by tragedy to honor her family name, Sorcha embarks on a journey that takes her from the bleak but familiar streets of New York, through the sultry and seductive city of New Orleans, and into the brutal jungles of Nepal. Forging friendships and carrying on her mother’s mission of healing was her dream. Plunging into a love affair with the mysterious Dr. Ashayle could have been a fairytale.

Being murdered and waking up as a blood-thirsty monster—became her living nightmare.

Torn away form a life that had just begun, Sorcha returns to New Orleans as a newborn vampire, forced to start over in a cutthroat underworld of devilry and decadence. Complicated politics, bitter rivals and jealous ancestors stand between her and the promises she’s still determined to keep.

In a realm where the boundary between good and evil is as murky as the Mississippi River and immortal does not mean invincible, will Sorcha ever risk her shattered heart and love again? Can the magical harmony of the Crescent City give her enough courage to fulfill her eternal destiny?

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Author Bio:

Anne Marie has been an equestrienne, chorale singer, candy-striper, EMT, and baseball fan. Roaming the back roads of New Jersey with her family, she found great respect for antiques, historical locations and the stories they hold. Her current list of favorite pastimes include coffee, bourbon, and Les Miserables–which requires more bourbon. She has been known to attend sporting events just for the flyover. The boat she and her husband christened Glory Days, is her escape from the chaos of everyday life.

The inspiration for Anne Marie’s debut novel, Monsters & Angels, is her fascination with vampires and her passion for everything New Orleans. When she isn’t writing, she can be found working nights with the critical care team in a busy trauma center.

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