Category Archives: What to Read Wednesday

What to Read Wednesday with Samanthe Beck author of Compromising Her Position ~ Giveaway

I’m so glad it’s Wednesday because that means it’s time for What to Read Wednesday :) Please help me welcome the amazing Samanthe Beck to the blog. She talking about naming her characters–one of  my favorite subjects–and then sharing her release Compromising Her Position. I love, LOVE this cover and the blurb sounds amazing.

And, don’t forget to enter her wonderful giveaway :)

Take it away Samanthe …


First off, a big THANK YOU to the lovely and talented Christine Warner for having me here to talk about my latest Brazen, Compromising Her Position. It’s a super-sexy story, (it’s a Brazen, after all!), involving hotel executive Rafe St. Sebastian, competitor Chelsea Wayne, a Santa suit, and an epic case of mistaken identity. Basically, Chelsea shoves the wrong Santa into a supply closet during the company Christmas party and wishes him a happy holiday that is definitely NSFW! Oops. Talk about a compromising position.


What inspired me to do such a naughty thing to my characters? Well, I’m not saying I sit around Googling “David Gandy naked” all day, but I did happen upon an image of the insanely photogenic Mr. Gandy in bed, naked, save for a Santa hat. My initial reaction, of course, was, “Holy crap! Imagine the line at the mall to sit on Santa’s lap if he were in the suit.” Then I thought about the iconic costume, and everything it entails, and wondered if we’d even know there was a hottie beneath.


Boom. Inspiration for all sorts of naughtiness. I had a perfect vision of my hero. Now all I had to do was name him. Names are important. A good one grabs a reader’s interest, while a bad one can pull her right out of a story. Admittedly, it’s highly subjective. Maybe I don’t like a certain name because it reminds me of the kid who used to freak me out with his rubber snake in first grade? I can’t know everyone’s name peeves, but I can know my characters. For Rafe I wanted something that sounded as worldly as the man himself. I also needed a name that would work as the masthead for a chain of luxury resorts. Sadly, David Gandy was already taken, but I thought Rafael St. Sebastian had a nice ring to it. Rafe is only one letter away from rake, and that worked for me. The St. Sebastian sounded like somewhere I’d have to cough up $500.00 a night to stay. Done.


Naming Chelsea took a little more work. She’s a good girl…a people-pleaser working in an industry where those tendencies take her far, but on a personal level, result in her being taken advantage of. She’s ready to get tough with herself, though, and stop making the same mistakes. I liked the combination of Chelsea, (which sounds soft and sweet to me), and Wayne, (which calls to mind big, bad, take-no-bullshit John Wayne). It struck the right balance, to me.


I’d love to know what you think!  Is there a name that ruins a book for you, no matter how awesome the story might be? (But wait, if it’s Rafe or Chelsea, don’t tell me)!


Do have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.






Enter to Win a
$50.00 Amazon eGift Card and 
a set of rare print copies of Samanthe’s 
Private Pleasures Trilogy


 CHP_NEW Cover



a Compromise Me Novel
Samanthe Beck
Releasing November 16, 2015
Entangled Brazen
A sexy category romance from Entangled’s Brazen imprint…

He’s not who she expected, but he’s exactly the man she needs…
When Chelsea Wayne drags Santa into a supply closet for a little office party nookie, she assumes the man in the suit is her on-again/off-again coworker boyfriend. Instead, it’s Rafe St. Sebastian, a man known for his hard-driving ways in business as well as the bedroom–and, kill her now, the brand spanking new owner of Las Ventanas–who grants her naughtiest Christmas wishes.
So much for her reputation, not to mention her career.
Rafe needs to close three acquisitions to prove to his father he’s ready to take the helm of St. Sebastian Enterprises. A hot interlude in a supply closet after deal number two seems like the perfect illicit Christmas bonus. Unfortunately, when that “bonus” becomes the key to the final deal, he finds himself back in bed–so to speak–with Chelsea, and after their steamy tryst, he’s not interested in keeping things professional…


“There is nothing personal between us.”

“I beg to differ. In fact, I’m fairly certain I know your deepest, darkest secret.”

“I sincerely doubt that.”

He brought his mouth to her ear. “You knew I wasn’t Paul.”

“No.” The denial, though immediate, sounded slightly breathless, slightly desperate.

She had to have at least suspected, at some point. He refused to believe otherwise. “Not at first. But when I had you clinging to the tables, trembling so hard you could barely stand? You knew.”

“You-you’re delusional. If I’d realized you weren’t Paul, don’t you think I would have stopped you?”

“No. By the time you realized, you didn’t care.” The crowd around them erupted into a countdown.

Ten… He cupped her jaw in one hand…
Nine… and slid the other down her back. Then lower. Eight… “You didn’t care about anything except my tongue tracing the path of your thong”—he let his fingers do the honor now—“all the way down until I could taste your sweet, throbbing little—”

“I thought you were Paul!” Her wide eyes darted to his, pupils huge.

Five… “Remember how you used your body to beg for more? There’s no f-ing way you’ve ever begged like that for Paul Barrington. No f-ing way. I could have you begging again.”

Her breathing came in quick, shallow pants. The hands she’d rested lightly on his shoulders tightened, bunching his jacket in a white-knuckled grip. She shook her head. “Not going to happen.”

Three… He was risking getting his face slapped in the middle of a dance floor on New Year’s Eve, but he didn’t care. For some inexcusable reason, he needed to know she wanted him, not Barrington.

Two… He spread his palm over the perfect curve of her ass and hauled her against him, so she’d feel just how well he remembered every damn detail of their last meeting.


“It’s not?” he challenged, and then crushed her lips under his.

Cheers of “Happy New Year” echoed around them over the strains of “Auld Lang Syne.” A flotilla of black and silver balloons sailed down from the ceiling. Guests laughed, and sang, and jostled them while he kissed her. Sparkly, star- shaped confetti rained over everyone and everything, and he kept right on kissing her. Her arms twined around his neck. Her lips parted. She flattened one hand against the back of his head and held on. When he bent her over his arm and swept his tongue into her soft, yielding mouth, she wrapped her leg around his hip. The heat of her body practically seared his thigh through his tuxedo pants.

He trapped her lower lip between his teeth and nibbled. There went his no biting promise, but her shuddery moan told him she didn’t mind.

The song ended. The house lights came up a few notches. He slowly drew her upright, and even more slowly relinquished her mouth. She stared up at him, dazed, her lips plumped from their kiss.

“You’re a terrible liar, Miss Wayne.”

Giving her a grin he hoped didn’t reveal how much the move cost him, he walked away.



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Wine lover, sleep fanatic, and USA Today Bestselling Author of sexy contemporary romance novels, Samanthe Beck lives in Malibu, California, with her long-suffering but extremely adorable husband and their turbo-son, Hud. Throw in a furry ninja named Kitty and Bebe the trash talking Chihuahua and you get the whole, chaotic picture.
When not clinging to sanity by her fingernails or dreaming up fun, fan-your-cheeks sexy ways to get her characters to happily-ever-afters, she
searches for the perfect cabernet to pair with Ambien.
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Posted by on November 25, 2015 in What to Read Wednesday


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What To Read Wednesday with Anna Banks author of How To Lose A Bachelor ~ GIVEAWAY

Welcome back for What to Read Wednesday! I’m excited to have author Anna Banks visiting today. She’s sharing 5 fun facts about herself that I think you’ll get a kick out of learning. She’s also giving us a sneak peek at her latest release How To Lose A Bachelor.

Don’t forget to enter her awesome giveaway by clicking the link below.

Take it away Anna…

Five Fun Things About Me


  • I’m trying to become a Diamond level cruise VIP with Carnival Cruises. They get the hookup, but I’m like 100 points away from getting Diamond status and each day you cruise is 1 point. It’s hard work, but someone has to do it.
  • My neighbors let their dog poop in my yard, and I regularly return it to them on their doorstep in a festive gift bag.
  • I can always figure out when I’m dreaming, and then I can control what happens in the dreams. Might explain why I nap so often. #HenryCavill
  • I once broke my ankle by falling off a toilet. That is all.
  • I met my husband when I was seventeen at a restaurant where we both worked. We hated each other. I broke a dish over his head.


Enter to Win a 
$100.00 Amazon eGift Card


Anna Banks
Releasing Nov 9th, 2015
Entangled: Bliss
When Rochelle Ransom auditioned for the dating show Luring Love, she had big plans for winning the prize money to help her favorite charity–and if she won the hot bachelor’s heart, even better. But at the last minute she finds out the hot bachelor is her ex-boyfriend, Grant Drake. Desperate to keep her distance from him, she’ll do anything–and everything–to get voted off.
Years ago, Rochelle broke Grant’s heart, and he’s out for revenge. There’s no way he’ll vote her off.  After all, vengeance
is a dish best served red-hot…and on live television.
When her hilarious antics to get kicked off the show escalate, Grant’s reminded why he fell in love with her the first time. Now he isn’t sure which might be more fun… Seeing how far Rochelle is willing to go to get away or how far he will to keep her forever.


“Aaaand rolling!” Chris said, retaking the director’s seat a few feet away.

Grant could practically feel the cameras focusing back on him. “I’ve decided to be America’s reporter for the day,” he said, having already memorized his lines. “So I have a few questions to ask that I think everyone will want to know—including me.” Their eyes locked. So did Rochelle’s jaw. Grant paused for effect. Then, “Why on earth would you choose to audition for a sleezy show like Luring Love?”

“CUT!” yelled Chris.

“I mean, have you really drained the dating pool already?” Grant continued, getting angrier with each word out of his mouth. These were, after all, valid questions. Never in a million years would Rochelle have chased after a man—so why the hell was she here? “What would your mother say? Coming on a show like this to paw at a man who’s already got nine other women doing the same thing?”

“I said cut!” Chris growled.

“Oh, are we going to talk about mothers, then?” Rochelle flung back her hair. “Instead of dating pools, let’s talk about gene pools—and the fact that you and your four siblings originated from separate ones!”

“Cut, cut, cut!” Chris had his hand on Grant’s shoulder, but Grant wouldn’t turn his eyes away from Rochelle. Her expression read Challenge Accepted.

Did she really just insult his mother’s…need for variety in life? He couldn’t let that low blow go unpunished. “Let’s do talk about gene pools and how we both know that cleavage of that particular magnitude doesn’t run in your family.”

Taken aback, Rochelle clutched at her shirt. Grant felt a win on the horizon, if hurling mother insults could, in fact, be considered winning at anything. “It’s a halter top, moron. It’s designed for cleavage. Besides, you didn’t seem to be complaining when I walked in!” she added.

His mouth fell slightly ajar. She noticed me noticing. Did the crew? Will America? “It doesn’t suit you,” he blurted.  A complete lie. It enhanced an already irresistible figure—so much so that he just might have been willing to change his general opinion on how much cleavage a woman should expose in public.  In fact, he suspected he’d change his view on world peace if Rochelle sat on his lap and asked him to.

“Really? Everything underneath suited the hell out of you before!”

“For God’s sake,” Chris said, standing in front of Grant to block his view of Rochelle. “Are we speaking the same language?”

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NYT Bestselling YA author of The Syrena Legacy series: OF POSEIDON (2012) OF TRITON (2013) OF NEPTUNE (2014). Repped by
rockstar Lucy Carson of the Friedrich Agency. I live with my husband and daughter in the Florida Panhandle. I have a southern accent compared to New Yorkers, and I enjoy food cooked with real fat. I can’t walk in high heels, but I’m very good at holding still in them. If you put chocolate in front of me, you must not have wanted it in the first place.
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Posted by on November 18, 2015 in What to Read Wednesday


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What to Read Wednesday with Gayle Callen author of The Wrong Bride ~ GIVEAWAY

I’m so glad to have you here for another round of What to Read Wednesday! Today we have author Gayle Callen visiting. Gayle is giving us a quick history of her writing, and also sharing her latest release The Wrong Bride. Isn’t the cover spectacular? You know how I love covers? And don’t forget to check out her blurb and excerpt. You won’t be disappointed.

Afterward, please enter her giveaway!

Take it away Gayle…

From England to Scotland, With Love

By Gayle Callen, author of THE WRONG BRIDE


After twenty-one books set in England—every historical romance I’ve written—I’ve decided to go north and explore Scotland. I didn’t think this was going to be a big deal research-wise, but, boy, was I wrong. The Highlands of Scotland are definitely a different country, a different culture. First of all, I had to pick a time period. I’ve been writing 1840s, England, but in that time period, it was illegal to wear kilts. I can’t have a Highlander book without kilts! So I backtracked to a time period where they wore a belted plaid. Yep, the original words for a big long draping kilt. I did lots of research on how to wear those—come to find out, no one ever wrote down exactly how the men put them on, so the majority of researchers believe they arranged the plaid on the bed or the floor, laid down on it, wrapped it around themselves, holding it in place with a belt. Fascinating! But they’ve found one ancient plaid that had tiny loops in the inside. Some speculate that there was an interior belt, so the plaid would be hung on it almost like a curtain, hanging in the correct folds, and then belted again on the outside. Wonder what the truth is? Research yields some fascinating dilemmas.


So I’m in the Georgian era now, the eighteenth century, the 1720s. If you’ve read or watched Outlander, my trilogy is set within 20 years of that. I love that series, and it’s great to be able to explore the era. England and Scotland have only been united into one country for a few decades, and neither is happy about it. England believes Scotland is a savage primitive country, and in some ways it is. The first carriage only reached the Inverness in the early 1700s. Some of the Scottish people, the Jacobites, believed their true king wasn’t in England, but waiting for them to rebel and bring him home from Europe. My books are set between two major uprisings, the Fifteen and the Forty-five (during which occurred the final battle, Culloden, which the British won). I liked the feel of the 1720s, the dissatisfaction, the anger, the suspicion, because it gave me great conflict. The Scottish and the English can’t stand each other, and have been warring for centuries. My heroine is half English, raised in England, and knows nothing about the Highland ways. My hero, who’s been denied his rightful bride, kidnaps her to take her home and marry her. Problem is, he’s got THE WRONG BRIDE (the title is pretty descriptive, huh?). Hope you get a chance to read the book and see if I’ve brought to life the Scottish people, especially Hugh and Riona.





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(US Only)


Highland Weddings #1
Gayle Callen
Releasing Oct 27th, 2015
Avon Romance
The first in a wonderfully engaging series set in the Scottish Highlands, USA Today bestselling author Gayle Callen creates an unforgettable story of mistaken identity and irresistible attraction.
Shaken from sleep during the night, bundled off to the Highlands by a burly Scot, Riona is at first terrified, then livid. Hugh McCallum insists they were promised to each other as children to ensure peace between their clans. The stubborn laird refuses to believe he’s kidnapped the wrong Catriona Duff. Instead, he embarks on a campaign of slow-burning seduction…
At first, Hugh cares only what their marriage can do for his people. Now he’s starting to crave Riona for her own sake. But her true identity jeopardizes his clan’s contract. And unless she chooses to risk all to be his bride, he’ll lose the only thing he prizes more than the lands he’s fought so hard to save-the passionate marriage they could have together.


From Gayle: A first kiss is always such a fun scene to write. They’re usually filled with conflict and chemistry and confusion—the three Cs!


Riona shivered, but it wasn’t from the bathwater’s chill. It was from the frightening realization that there was something powerful between them, something that called to her, that made the risks Hugh had taken to have her for himself seem arousing, not just self-serving. There was a place inside her she’d never sensed before, surely a recklessness, a weakness.

“Ye’re strangely quiet, lass,” he murmured.

His gaze lazily moved over her face, dipping to her breasts, where the upper curves were displayed above the soapy water. Her skin felt … prickly, sensitive, even inflamed.

“I’m not done fighting you,” she said at last, almost wincing at how breathless she sounded.

A slow grin curved his mouth, even as he reached his hand to cup her face and tilt it toward him. The shock of his warm palm settling so gently on her skin made her tense, but she didn’t pull away, as if that would show that she’d given up, that she was afraid of what he could do to her … what he could make her feel.

He leaned over the tub and kissed her, his palm guiding her head. She wanted to show him he didn’t move her, that this display meant nothing to her. But his lips were warm, and glided over hers with purpose, parted gently as if he wanted to taste her. She’d never been kissed … She felt her head swim at the sensation that seemed to travel down her body, to her breasts, to the pit of her stomach and between her thighs as if he’d touched her in her most secretive places.

When his tongue traced her lower lip, she jerked back in surprise. He didn’t laugh, just studied her with those gray eyes that were considerably warmer. He kept his hand on her face, and his thumb caressed her cheek over and over.

“Our first kiss bodes well for the future,” he said.

He glanced down to her breasts again, and she stiffened. With a faint smile, he let her go and stood up.

“Dry off,” he said, back to ordering her around. “We have things we need to discuss.”

Not the topics she wanted to discuss, apparently, but she didn’t argue. He turned his back and went to the window, while she hastily dried herself and pulled on a dressing gown Mrs. Wallace had laid out for her, trying to forget the feel of his mouth on hers, and how instead of being afraid or disgusted, she’d felt … aroused. Her cousin Cat had told her one could feel overwhelmed when in intimate situations with a man, and Riona hadn’t been able to understand what she meant. She did now, and felt a new kind of fear—fear of her own reaction and response to this compelling persuasion of his.



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After a detour through fitness instructing and computer programming, GAYLE CALLEN found the life she’d always dreamed of as a romance writer. This USA Today bestselling author has written more than twenty historical romances for Avon Books, and her novels have won the Holt Medallion, the Laurel Wreath Award, the Booksellers’ Best Award, and been translated into eleven different languages. The mother of three grown hildren, an avid crafter, singer, and outdoor enthusiast, Gayle lives in Central New York with her dog Uma and her husband, Jim the Romance Hero. She also writes contemporary romances as Emma Cane. Visit her website at


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Posted by on November 4, 2015 in What to Read Wednesday


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What to Read Wednesday with Codi Gary author of I Need A Hero ~ GIVEAWAY

Thank you for coming back to the blog for another round of What to Read Wednesday! Today we have author Codi Gary visiting :) She’s talking heroes and sharing her release I NEED A HERO! The cover is gorgeous and I’m sure you’ll enjoy her excerpt as much as I did!

After you check out her guest post and her blurb, don’t forget to enter her giveaway :)

Take it away Codi…

Top Five Traits for the Perfect Hero


When writing romance (and reading it for that matter), the one thing that can make or break a story for me is the Hero. Sure, liking the heroine is important too, but not as much as him.

So what makes the perfect Hero? What makes you sit for hours reading when you should be doing laundry or dishes? Why do you fantasize about him long after the book is done or email the author to beg for a follow up story?

I can’t answer for everyone, but for me…

  • A Perfect Hero should be complex.

He doesn’t need to be an alpha or a dominant, bossy billionaire to be perfect for me. However, I do like my heroes with layers. Lots of layers. A tortured past or a close knit family bond, I need something that gives him a thousand different personality traits that pull me deeper and deeper into his psyche. He can be as cool and aloof as Mr. Darcy or as funny and warm as Colin Bridgerton or even a sexy, nerd like Glen from The Walking Dead. Just give me something more than a cookie cutter character.


  • A Perfect Hero should have a heart.

Sure, he may avoid the heroine or even say things that make you want to slap his face and call him a jerk. But underneath the steel wall is an ooey, gooey center that is brought to the surface during the course of the story. Maybe it’s when the hero rescues a litter of kittens and falls asleep snuggled with them on the couch.  Could be when he is carrying his three year old daughter up the stairs to bed and he can’t resist reading her one more story. Or when the heroine is injured and you watch him crumble at the thought of losing her. Some kind of weakness that makes you melt is always a must have for me.


  • A Perfect Hero should be HOT!

Let’s be honest, we don’t read romance so we can fantasize about “every day Joe.” (Although I do enjoy romances with realistic heroes because they can’t all be Navy Seals, right?) Here’s the thing though…hot is different to every woman. For instance, I happen to think Seth Green is insanely sexy. Sure he’s five inches shorter than me with red hair, but I still remember him as Oz from Buffy…and damn, when he stood there with his shirt off in a pair of cargo pants I had to seriously “take a walk around the block and cool my loins.” (Thank you Danny from The Mindy Project.) But I also drool like a mad woman over Stephen Amell and his 6 foot plus frame and steely blue eyes. Sexy is different to every woman, so when writing a hero, it doesn’t really matter what he looks like, he’s going to be irresistible to someone.



  • A Perfect Hero should be true.

That means he should be loyal to his friends and family, but above all, he should be trustworthy with the heroine’s heart. He should never cheat, EVER! They can make it through misunderstandings, they can fight and hurt one another, but what occurs should never be something unforgivable. No domestic violence. No sexual assault. A hero is a man with a good heart. (Unless he’s on Sons of Anarchy and then for some reason he can get away with everything and he’s still adored.) But in a romance novel, I don’t go for that and I will not forgive him. I remember reading an old romance novel from the early eighties where the hero forced the heroine and even though it was a historical and they were married, it was supposed to be okay because she eventually fell in love with him. Ummm…no.


  • A Perfect Hero conquers all.

Eventually, the resolution occurs and there is a happily ever after, but along the way, I want to see the hero grow. I want him to conquer his own demons and slay the heroine’s dragons. I want to squeal as he pours his heart out to her and begs her to be his. By the end of the book, I don’t want to have any doubts that he’s the one for our heroine, that he’s worth her giving up the cozy promotion in New York for or that he will spend the rest of his life making her happy. Sure they may fight, but I want to believe by the end of the story that no matter what happens, they’ll be getting their always and forever.


Again, this is only five item and it’s all based on my opinion. Someone else could think that the perfect hero needs to be funny, with a rapier wit, or have a magic carpet ride…so, what’s your idea of the perfect hero?




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Digital Download Copy of I NEED A HERO


Men in Uniform #0.5
Codi Gary
Releasing Oct 20th, 2015
Avon Impulse
Sergeant Oliver Martinez joined the military to serve his country—not plan parties. But after a run-in with his commanding officer, Oliver is suddenly responsible for the Alpha Dogs Training Program’s upcoming charity event. Worse, he’s got to work with the bossiest, sexiest woman he’s ever met—who just happens to be the general’s daughter.
When it comes to military men, Evelyn Reynolds is not interested. And with the opportunity to launch her new PR firm at the charity event, she doesn’t have time for some sexy, arrogant jerk with a hero complex. Evelyn is determined to keep things professional—if only she can ignore how Oliver’s muscles fill out a t-shirt and the infuriating way he makes her heart pound.
But when tempers flare and a scorching kiss turns into so much more, Oliver and Evelyn will have to decide if this attraction is forever…or just for now.


Oliver Martinez sat stiffly in the wobbly office chair, the room stifling despite the hum of the air conditioner above his head. He wasn’t usually the nervous type, being that military police didn’t allow time for panic, but facing off against General Reynolds, the man who pretty much held his career in the palm of his hand . . .

Well, he figured he had a right to sweat with the way the older man was staring him down.

“What do you have to say for yourself, Sergeant?” General Reynolds asked.

A thousand excuses ran through his mind, but none of them would appease the general, Oliver knew that. He hadn’t become an MP to be liked; even his family knew he wasn’t a people person. He was hardworking, sharp as a tack, and a mean son of a bitch when you got on his bad side—qualities that made him an excellent MP. And military police was exactly where Oliver belonged. He got to bust heads and keep order; it was structured, and there were rules. He was the good guy.

But this time, he had stepped in a big old pile of shit trying to play the hero.

“I did what I thought was right, sir,” Oliver said.

“You instigated a confrontation with a civilian that turned into an all-out bar brawl,” General Reynolds said. Although his tone and outward expression seemed calm, Oliver hadn’t missed the eye twitch on the left side of the general’s face. The man was beyond furious, and nothing Oliver did or said was going to make things better for him.

Why had he decided to go out with the guys on Friday? His buddies from group therapy, Dean Sparks and Tyler Best, had convinced him that he needed to get out and blow off some steam. He hadn’t expected to take down some rowdy kid or have the cops called on them. The civilian police had been cool, though, once he explained the situation, and as they hauled the kid off for drunk and disorderly, he’d thought that was the end of it.

Until he’d shown up for work this morning only to have Tate tell him he wasn’t on rotation and that the general wanted to see him. Oliver hadn’t had any idea what the meeting was about, but he’d never expected to get his ass chewed over something that wasn’t even his fault.

“It wasn’t a brawl, sir. I contained and subdued him too fast for that.”

Oliver regretted his words the moment they left his mouth. They sounded arrogant, and that wasn’t going to score him any points.

Especially since the civilian in question was the general’s son.

Despite knowing this, Oliver tried again to explain his side. “I just mean, and with all due respect, sir, that the civilian was drunk and harassing several women, and when I politely asked him to leave them alone, he threw the first punch.”

General Reynolds’s salt and pepper mustache twitched, and Oliver wondered for half a second if the general was messing with him and if he was secretly amused that his son had been taught a lesson in respect.

“I don’t care if he threw a hundred punches. You should not have engaged. You did not have to break his nose or sprain his wrist while you were restraining him.”

Okay, so he wasn’t amused. But no matter how angry the general might be, Oliver wasn’t going to apologize for roughing up the little punk. The kid had thrown a sucker punch that had lit fire to Oliver’s jaw, and it was still sore. And if the kid hadn’t fought him so damn hard, he wouldn’t have gotten hurt in the first place.

Would he have handled things differently if he’d known who the kid’s dad was? Maybe. But there was nothing Oliver could do about it now except take whatever punishment was meted out to him.

“It seems to me you could use a little time out of the field to learn how to channel your aggression . . . in other ways,” General Reynolds said.

Now the general was smiling, and unease swept over Oliver.

“Have you heard of the Alpha Dog Training Program?” General Reynolds asked.

“Yeah, I know a few of the guys running things,” Oliver said.

And neither Best nor Sparks had been happy about it at first. The Alpha Dog Training Program was the brainchild of some PR expert hoping to create a good public image for the military by training shelter dogs for specialty jobs like military, fire, police, search and rescue, and therapy. And if the animals-getting-a-second-chance angle didn’t just make you weepy, the dogs were being trained by troubled kids under the supervision of MPs.

It was meant as an alternative punishment for nonviolent juvenile offenders. Instead of being locked up in a detention center with months of community service tacked on top, they were sent to Alpha Dog. They shoveled shit, fed and cared for the dogs, and learned how to teach them basic obedience. The place was set up with barracks for up to twenty-five kids at a time. The goal was to give them a skill and refocus their energies. The program even helped them with job placement at several Sacramento veterinary hospitals and rescue organizations. It was a better deal than most kids in the system got.

“Well, I’m glad you’re familiar with it, because you’re going to help organize and promote their upcoming charity event,” General Reynolds said.

Oliver choked in surprise. “I don’t know anything about fundraising!”

The general’s eyes narrowed and glittered. “Well, this will give you a chance to develop a new skill.”

Oliver just sat there, weighing his options. If he pitched a fit and accused the general of abusing his power because Oliver had hurt his son’s delicate feelings, he’d be committing career suicide.

“How long will I be out of the field, sir?” he asked.

“Until I think you’re ready,” General Reynolds said.

Oliver nodded grimly. The only option open to him was to bite the bullet and do the job.

“You’ll report to the Alpha Dog Training Program today. The event coordinator will be there at eleven to give you instructions on what you’ll be doing. I do hope you take this time to learn some discipline, Sergeant Martinez.”

Fuck you.

Taking a deep breath, Oliver stood up and saluted the general. As soon as he barked, “Dismissed,” Oliver was out the door, wishing he was headed home to beat the hell out of his punching bag. This whole morning had sucked donkey nuts, and the last thing Oliver wanted to do was be around a bunch of teenagers or his friends.

Not that Best and Sparks weren’t good people, but he knew that the minute they found out about his little time-out, they were going to laugh it up.

Especially Best.


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An obsessive bookworm, CODI GARY likes to write sexy small-town contemporary romances with humor, grand gestures, and blush-worthy
moments. When she’s not writing, she can be found reading her favorite authors, squealing over her must-watch shows, and playing with her children. She lives in Idaho with her family.



Posted by on October 21, 2015 in What to Read Wednesday


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What to Read Wednesday with Jamie K Schmidt author of Truth Kills ~ GIVEAWAY

I love Wednesdays because it means What to Read Wednesday! Please help me welcome author Jamie K Schmidt to the blog. I think you’ll enjoy her guest post and learning more about her latest release Truth Kills. I already want to get to know her heroine better just by what she shared :)

Afterward check out all her giveaways and don’t forget to comment and click on the link to enter :)

Take it away Jamie…


College Problems


Jamie K. Schmidt

Phoebe Jones, my heroine in Truth Kills—the first book in the Truth or Lies series, is a freshman in college.  She is an orphan who was aged out of the system, but granted one year of her dream college by a mysterious donor known as the Benefactrix.  She wants to become a journalist, so the first thing she does is join the college newspaper, The Sentinel.  This was her first article:

The Freshman Fifteen is what the average weight gain a freshman can expect to gain in their first year of college.  Here are five tips to keep that from happening to you:

  1. Water, water, everywhere!  Keep a filled bottle of water with you at all times.  Most of the time when you feel hungry, you’re actually thirsty.  Drink a bottle of water before every meal.
  2. Snack healthy, and cheaply! Popcorn kernels are about $5 for a silo. That will last you all year.  If you can’t snag the air popper from your parents, you can make your own with a brown sandwich bag.  Put in a ¼ cup of kernels and a tsp of olive oil.  Fold down the bag and shake.  Put it in the microwave until all the kernels top popping.
  3. Limit pizza to once a week. I know.  I know.  This is a tough one.
  4. Eat six small meals instead of three big ones to cut down on snacking. Make sure you have a serving of fruit and vegetable with every meal
  5. Take a half hour walk around campus every day. In addition to hauling your books all over the place getting to and from classes, the extra exercise should keep those fifteen lbs. far away.

Her editor thought it was a little tame. He marked it up and told her to spice it up a bit.  She was writing for a college audience not Woman’s Day.  Here’s what actually got published in the paper:

How to Still Fit Into Your Jeans After Freshman Year

  1. Drink light beer, it’s mostly water. Get the low carb option, if available to stop bloat. If you don’t have a fake ID or don’t want to drink, grab lemon slices and sweet and low packets from the cafeteria and make your own lemonade and drink that instead of soda.
  2. If you spend all your money at the mall on fun things, there won’t be any left for snacks.
  3. Order a veggie pizza.
  4. Eat at the dining hall for all your meals. You’ll wind up existing on shredded carrot salads because that’s the only thing you recognize.
  5. Sex burns lots of calories. Have at it.  Just be safe.  Use a condom.

Phoebe goes on to write a Freshman’s Guide to Sex column and asks her faculty advisor to help her out with the fun parts.


Tell me what advice you would give to a incoming college Freshman.

I’m giving away a free e-copy of Truth Kills to one commenter.



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Truth & Lies #1
Jamie K. Schmidt
Released Sept 30th, 2015
Truth & Lies Series
Aged out of the system and
battle worn from unsuccessful foster care, four women on the cusp of adulthood
find passion and their paths in life through the help of an anonymous fairy
godmother type who calls herself the Benefactrix. 
Truth Kills: Book One
A healing and emotionally fragile girl unknowing falls for the nephew of the man who killed her family.
College freshmen, Phoebe’s new lover is sexy, creative and willing to let her act out all her dirty fantasies. Unfortunately, Keith’s not telling her the truth about who he really is and the secret past that binds them together. When his Uncle breaks out of prison to search for the “girl who got away,” Keith risks losing the best thing in his life by admitting to Phoebe that his Uncle killed her parents.
Phoebe Jones lost her family during a home invasion when she was only thirteen. She’s the only one of the four girls who remembers a loving family. The Benefactrix has given her a full boat scholarship to the local college, where Phoebe meets a graduate student who wants to do a story about her family. But Keith Parker isn’t without his own demons. His Uncle, now on death row, was one of the men who broke into Phoebe’s house eight years ago. What started out as a project for understanding and healing is complicated when Phoebe & Keith act on the
explosive desire between them.
Phoebe craves to be in control sexually and Keith is more than willing to let her have her way with him. What started out as a hot fling rapidly becomes something deeper. Keith knows he’ll lose her if he reveals who he really is, but the lie has taken on a life of its own and threatens to destroy not only their relationship but Phoebe’s fragile self confidence and freshly won self esteem.

Turning back around, she stood up on her tiptoes until she thought she saw the back of Larissa’s head.  Larissa had been a door stop baby, dropped off at a hospital.  She never knew her family.  She didn’t even come with a note pinned to her blanket.  Larissa had been Phoebe’s first friend at the home.  She loved hearing about Phoebe’s parents and the little details of a “normal” life.  For some reason Meatless Monday and Taco Tuesday were the best things Larissa ever heard of and would never get tired of hearing Phoebe talk about how it used to be.

Kelly, Maryanne, and Larissa. That was the sum total of the people who would cheer for her when she walked up on the rickety stage to accept her diploma from Principal Barnes.  And at the ripe old age of eighteen, Phoebe was about to be aged out of the system and those people would be lost to her as well.


She was not going to cry.  If she started, she wouldn’t stop and that would ruin the ceremony for her friends.

“Just another day,” Kelly murmured.

Phoebe nodded and pulled herself together.  Nothing new here.  She forced her chin up and willed this endless ceremony to end. It wasn’t as if they would never see each other again. None of them had any money to go very far, except maybe Kelly.  Her boyfriend Chad was loaded and liked giving her expensive treats.  He was taking her away on vacation tomorrow to Belize to celebrate.  But that was only for a week because Kelly had a job to get back to at the camera shop.  She’d been working there since she was sixteen.  It didn’t pay anything, but she was able to work on her own projects in between transferring people’s pictures from film to digital.

After Kelly got back from Belize, Phoebe and the other girls would start their transition into adult housing, leaving the group home that had housed them since they were ten-years-old.

Graduation was supposed to be a day of hope and of new beginnings.  She should have been looking forward to a fun summer and then off to college in the fall, somewhere far away from Connecticut and the memories.  Except her grades hadn’t been that good.  So she’d take night classes at her safety school, and maybe next year get accepted into one of the larger universities.  Paying for that would be another thing to worry about.  Just not today.

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USA Today Bestselling author, Jamie K. Schmidt is a hybrid author who has over thirty short stories published in small press and ezines, and a variety of novellas and books online. Her Club Inferno series from Random House has been in Amazon’s top 100 ebooks sold and Barnes and Noble’s top 10. She has a dragon paranormal romance series at Entangled Publishing. Book one of the Emerging Queens series is The Queen’s Wings.
Jamie holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the State University of New York at New Paltz in Secondary Education English, which is a fancy way of saying she went to college to teach high school English. When that didn’t pan out, she worked as a call center manager, a Tupperware consultant, a paralegal, and finally a technical writer for a major conglomerate company. She is an active member in the Romance Writers of America (RWA). When not writing, Jamie relaxes with a mug of hot tea and knits or makes beaded jewelry.

Posted by on October 7, 2015 in What to Read Wednesday


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What to Read Wednesday with Cassie Mae ~ Giveaway

It’s Wednesday and you know what that means! It’s time for What to Read Wednesday. Please help me welcome author Cassie Mae to the blog today. I think you’ll enjoy her guest post!

Afterward, check out her release–Doing it For Love–and then don’t forget to enter her giveaway! (Don’t you love her cover???!!!)

Take it away Cassie…


For the SPANX Wearer in All of Us

Hey all! First, big thanks to Christine’s Words for letting me stop by :)

I’m about to get super candid here. Reality is my forte, I’ve been told ;)

SPANX, in case you don’t know what they are, are this stretchy, wiggle-into-it-if-you-can, don’t-put-in-the-wash, and try-not-to-sweat-too-much (yeah right), pair of underroos that you wear to hide those love handles and tummy pooches and under the boob rolls. Do they work? Sure they do. I know from experience. However…

These things are the modern day corset. Only corsets didn’t roll down your torso and make you look like a half-open can of Pillsbury dough. Corsets didn’t go all the way down to your thighs and they certainly didn’t have a teeny tiny hole that you have to try to pee through for “convenience.”

And you know, despite all of that loveliness, I decided to wear these things on a 6 hour flight because I thought it would make the person next to me on the plane more comfortable.

Yeah, that .000001 of an inch makes a lot of difference ;)

So, I’m a 300 pound woman. (I’m actually a 320 pound woman, but yanno, it’s kinda like rounding down, no pun intended ;) ) And I’m married to a sexy cop who looks fantastic in a uniform and he’s got some wicked awesome arms and yeah, he’s definitely not 300 pounds, but he loves me anyway.

He loves me anyway.

He loved me before and after the weight gain and loss and everything in between. He loved me when I fell down the steps on our wedding day and when he caught me talking to absolutely no one, and he loved me when I got so sick that I spent the entire day in the bathroom telling him to “not look because this is not ladylike!”

And even though I “know he’s wrong” and “no way can anyone be attracted to this flub,” he makes me feel like I’m a sexy goddess from the planet Perfect Body, even when I’m stuffing my face with a Butterfinger bar I kept hidden until the kids went to sleep so I didn’t have to share.

I write about the misfits. I love writing about them because I think we all feel out of place. We all wear SPANX to try to stuff and mold ourselves into what people expect of us or what we think will make us feel better. Instead we feel even more uncomfortable. So instead of trying to fit in somewhere, why not stand out?

Or maybe just buy some pants that don’t require SPANX to zip up ;)

If you want to read about my girl Liz and her SPANX experience, you can check it out here:

Barnes & Noble:
Books a Million:
Penguin Random House:
Anyone else know what it’s like to wear these things??




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All About Love #1
Cassie Mae
Releasing Sept 29th, 2015


Cassie Mae’s charming, sexy new novel, perfect for fans of Emma Chase, puts a steamy twist on modern love as one bride-to-be tries to put the spark back in the bedroom—by any means necessary.
Elizabeth Fanning’s life looks pretty perfect, judging by the diamond ring on her finger. Her fiancé, Landon, is sweet, handsome, and hilarious. The trouble is, before they’ve even tied the knot, their sex life has gone from mind-blowing to “meh”—and Liz isn’t ready to be part of an old married couple. After a cathartic call to her best friend, Liz comes up with a brilliant idea. She and Landon may never be able to re-create the magic of their first time, but how amazing would their wedding night be if everything below the neck was off-limits until then?
Liz thinks it’ll bring them closer together. Landon’s convinced she’ll cave first. So they raise the stakes: Whoever lasts longer gets to pick their honeymoon destination. With her heart set on the Bahamas and Landon fighting for snowbound Utah, Liz simply has to win. But pretty soon, her body is screaming for attention, and Landon’s never seemed so far away. Has Liz’s experiment backfired? Losing their little competition would be frustrating—but the one thing she can’t afford to lose is him.

Not pregnant.

Praise Jesus.

I chuck the negative test in the bathroom trash with a shimmy and a shake. Pregnant at twenty-two was not what I pictured when I did my aptitude test seven years ago. Those results said I’d be some sort of performance artist. I pictured myself famous, in all the Broadway plays, living in my penthouse suite with my best friend, Theresa, and having weekend nookies with Chase Crawford. Kids were on the bucket list under: hell yes . . . when I’m married. Obviously, I was a dreamer at fifteen. Now that I’m more a realist, I’ve learned to be happy with whatever life has to offer me.

But I am happy that it decided not to offer me a baby right now.

I start the water on the shower because I feel like I peed all over myself when I attempted to aim on the stick. Aunt Flo is fourteen days late, and I’ve been avoiding Landon and his semen. Not that he’s noticed.

If sex was a three-course meal, Landon and I would be the peas and carrots. We’re good together, but we’re still the vegetables. Basically we do it when there’s a commercial on, when there is no food in the fridge, or it’s someone’s birthday. It’s okay . . . that’s what happens when you move past the honeymoon stage.

We used to be strawberries and whipped cream. Luxurious dessert, grinding on each other on public dance floors, car sex, kitchen sex, against the wall sex, balcony sex—which was an epic fail, by the way—and the always disastrous shower sex. Disaster because our bathtub is made for one person only, and so lying down ended with a faucet to the butthole and standing up made for slippery recoveries. But we were strawberries and whipped cream, so we’d laugh it off, not let it break the mood, jump into bed, and keep at it.

I refuse to think we’ve become raisin bran—the sex you have only because you have needs to take care of—despite what Theresa says. She’s permanently the palate cleanser between courses in her own sex life, and she’s not budging anytime soon. But she just hasn’t found her Landon yet.

Anyway, back to Landon not noticing the lack of sex. It’s because we’re so busy all the time. He works all day at a call center then he goes and films all night. He’s a director-in-training—got an award for his last movie and a grant to make the one he’s working on now. So he comes home smelling like sweaty socks—which he loves to leave on the floor in the living room. That’s what peas and carrots do, though.

It’s funny, for so long I wanted to know the story after the happy ending. What happens to the couple once they find each other, consummate their relationship, and get past their demons? Now that I’m in that story, I get why no one talks about it. I’m in love, so it pretty much trumps all the other crap. At least, it has so far. Despite Landon’s dirty laundry—literal—and his late nights—also literal—he makes me laugh. I’ve never had so much fun with another person. Even being vegetables, sex—when we have it—is fun. Probably why I wish we had it more.

Better check the effectiveness of my birth control first, though.

A hand whips back the shower curtain, and I scream like a banshee and chuck my washcloth at the attacker.

“Sweet mother,” I say, holding my heart. “What the hell?”

Landon slowly peels the washcloth from the bill of his The Nightmare Before Christmas hat. He’s wearing his matching graphic tee, a red stain on the upper right sleeve. Probably from the pizza he had to gobble between his job and his shoot this afternoon.

“Liz,” he says, holding the pregnancy test between two fingers. “What is this?”

“It’s a negative pee test. Don’t worry.”

“Did you think you were pregnant?” He chokes on the word.

“Yes, but I’m not.” I lean forward and kiss his shocked lips. “So don’t worry.”

He lets out this large breath, chucking the test back in the trash. “Fine, but you must promise on your precious iPod that you will tell me next time you think you are.”

I hold my hand to the square. “I vow to dispose of all my late-period secrets.” I drop my arm. “Now may I shower?”

“How long you going to be?”


“So till the hot water is out.”

I put a finger to my nose, and he pulls his cap off. His shirt goes next.

“Joining me?” I ask, my lady nethers perking up. It’s not even my birthday. What a sexy surprise.

“Yeah, I won’t have time in the morning.”

“Oh.” Calm down, girls, it’s just one of those “saving water” things, and not because I’m naked, he’s naked, and we’re going to be wet and slippery.

His cold hand splays across my stomach when he steps in, and I refuse to let my nethers get their hopes up again.

“You okay?” he asks, scruff tickling my neck.

“Yeah, why?”

“Paint me paranoid,” he says, backing me into his chilled body. I move the water so he warms up. “But I think something’s wrong. And I’m not letting you out of this shower till you tell me.”

A twitch of a smile finds itself on my mouth. “I’m fine.”

“Good thing you’re naked.” He taps my ass. “Your pants wouldn’t stand a chance.”

I shake my head, biting back my laughter. “You’re a tease.”


He knows why. The last time we showered together, he held me close like this, got me all revved up, then grabbed the soap, washed himself, and left for work. It’s not his fault. I did the same thing the time before that. Again, comes back to being the veggies of the sex meal.

“Okay. The guessing game,” he says when I don’t answer. “I’ll play, but you know I don’t like it.” He gently rocks me. “Your vampire show didn’t record?”

I snort a laugh into the water. “I haven’t checked. But it better have.”

He swipes my hair off my neck, and I feel his smile against my skin. “Hmm . . . the Jets have no shot at making the playoffs. I feel your pain. I cried it all out last night. Now it’s your turn.”

I playfully elbow him in the stomach, but despite my abuse, Landon’s arms tighten around me, thumb reassuringly rubbing my hipbone.

“No . . . I think I know what this is really about.” He pulls at the skin by my bellybutton. I raise an eyebrow because there is nothing wrong. I’m just horny.


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Cassie Mae (who dons the name Becca Ann on occasion) is the author of a few hundred—okay, maybe not that
many—books. Since writing her bestselling debut, Reasons I Fell for the Funny Fat Friend, she has published books with Random House, Swoon Romance, and Tulip Romance. She has a favorite of all her babies, but no, she won’t tell you what it is (mainly because it changes depending on the day). Along with writing, Cassie likes to binge-watch Teen Wolf and The Big Bang Theory. She can quote Harry Potter lines quick as a whip. And she likes kissing her hubby, but only if his facial hair is trimmed. She also likes cheesecake to a very obsessive degree.

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Posted by on September 30, 2015 in What to Read Wednesday


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What to Read Wednesday with Sarah Robinson author of Breaking A Legend ~ GIVEAWAY

YAY! It’s time for another round of What to Read Wednesday :) Please help me welcome author Sarah Robinson to the blog. She’s sharing a great snippet from her release Breaking a Legend. Enjoy the blurb and cover, too!

Afterward, don’t forget to enter her fabulous giveaway!

Take it away Sarah…

An original short story about the Kavanagh brothers by Sarah Robinson. This snippet introduces Rory Kavanagh, the oldest brother and the star of BREAKING A LEGEND. It also introduces his younger brothers: Kane, Quinn, and Jimmy. Each book in the KAVANAGH LEGENDS series will be a standalone book about one of the family members and their quest to find love in the rough and tumble world of mixed martial arts. 


“Remind me why I’m here again?” Quinn cocked one jet black eyebrow as he stared at his oldest brother, Rory, in the back offices of Legend, the family owned gym.

“Because you’re in the book, dumbass. The readers want to know about all of us.” Rory pushed the rest of his dark brown hair behind his ears and stared down at the interviewer’s questions on the paper in his hands.

“I’m not really in it though.” Jimmy spoke up.

“You’re definitely in it, Jimmy.” Kane laughed. “Mainly when you’re trying to keep the rest of us out of jail.”

“Don’t put that in the damn interview, I’ll lose my shield.” Jimmy glared at him, crossing his arms over his chest.

“If anyone isn’t in this book, it’s Kieran. I’m half a person these last two years.” Kane frowned, talking about his twin brother who’s currently serving a prison sentence in upstate New York.

“We’re not talking to reporters about Kieran. They’ll learn plenty about him in the second book.” Rory instructed his brothers.

“There’s going to be a second book?” Kane asked.

Rory nodded. “Hell yeah, people are clamoring to find out about our family.”

“Uh, I don’t know if that’s a good idea.” Jimmy looked nervous. “What with dad’s ties to the mafia and all of your lack of respect for the law, do we really want that documented in print?”

Rory rolled his eyes at Jimmy. His little brother was always the cautious one, a New York City police officer who always walked the straight and narrow. The rest of the Kavanagh brothers were a far cry from that.

“Relax, kid. It’s a romance novel. No one’s going to care about a few broken laws here of there,” Rory told him. “It’s about me and Clare.”

Quinn whistled a teasing catcall before turning to his older brother. “I hope it’s mostly about Clare, because no one’s going to want to read about your ugly mug.”

“There isn’t a woman in the world who won’t want to read about me.” Rory wiggled his eyebrows suggestively as his brother’s chuckled. “But you’re right, Clare’s the best thing about me.”

“Just read the first question, asshole,” Kane said before deciding he didn’t want to wait. He grabbed the paper out of Rory’s hands and looked it over. “Question one, is Seamus still part of the infamous Irish mafia once known as the Westies?”

“Pass.” Jimmy grunted, waving his hand. “We can’t answer that one.”

The other brothers nodded in agreement, shooting a secretive grin back and forth between them.

“Fine, next question,” Kane said. “Which brother is the best mixed martial arts fighter? Oh that’s easy, obviously I am.”

Rory nearly choked on the water he was currently sipping. “You wish!”

“You’re old and washed up, I’m young and fresh.” Kane grinned, purposefully pushing his buttons.

“I’m not too old to kick your ass.” Rory growled at his arrogant brother.

“I’ve got to side with Rory on this one,” Quinn weighed in. “Plus Kieran was fighting long before you too, Kane.”

“None of you dickheads would make it through NYPD’s academy like I did either,” Jimmy added.

“F this shit.” Kane tossed down the paper as he stood and walked toward the office door. “These questions are stupid. I’m not doing this.”

“Kane, we’ve got a book to promote!” Rory yelled after him.

“Promote this,” Kane shot back as he stuck his middle finger out behind him and left.

Rory sighed before bending down and picking back up the interviewer’s questions. “Maybe I’ll just ask Clare to fill this out.”

“She’d be so much better at it than we would.” Quinn grinned, hopping up and heading out of the office. “Tell her I owe her!”

“Ditto.” Jimmy clapped a hand on Rory’s back before following suit.

Rory shook his head as he found himself alone. It wasn’t that long ago when he’d been just as irresponsible and flippant as they are now, but meeting Clare had changed his priorities in life. He smiled at the thought of heading home early to see Clare under the guise of having to bring her the interviewer’s questions.

Seems his brothers actually might have done him a favor.



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Kavanagh Legends #1
Sarah Robinson
Released Sept 29th, 2015


Perfect for fans of Katy Evans and Monica Murphy, Sarah Robinson’s blistering-hot series debut introduces the Kavanagh brothers—mixed martial arts fighters who work hard, play hard, and love with all their hearts.
As one of the big names at his family’s gym, Legends, MMA star Rory Kavanagh is used to being in the spotlight—until a gruesome leg injury knocks him out of the cage. Rory is left feeling sidelined in more ways than one, battling the inner demons that come with losing the one shot at his dreams. Then Clare walks into his life and gives him a new dream: winning her heart. There aren’t many new faces in Woodlawn these days, but this tough, beautiful stranger makes Rory want to get his life back into fighting shape.
Clare Ivers doesn’t think she’ll be able to tell anyone what really brought her to the close-knit Bronx neighborhood where she just started bartending. But her life’s on pause and her past is catching up fast, try as she might to move on—with new friends, steady work, and a chiseled alpha male trying to get her attention. Even though Rory’s more than a little intense, she can’t deny that her heart beats faster when he looks at her with those soulful silver eyes. Clare thought she was done with love, but Rory might just be man enough to show her she thought wrong.

“I really appreciate it, but you don’t have to give it to me for free,” Clare’s brow furrowed as she took the membership card from the spunky redhead.

“Oh, please, girl. I used to work busing tables at O’Leary’s Pub when I was in high school. Is Cian still in charge over there?” She smiled back as she continued putting Clare’s information into the gym’s computer system.

“Yeah, he’s my supervisor.” Clare nodded at the woman, slightly mesmerized by how piercing and blue her eyes were in contrast to the bright red wavy hair that flowed down most of her back.

“Then believe me, these self-defense classes can be written off as a work expense on next year’s taxes.” Both women snickered. Clare leaned against the counter, enjoying the interaction, since she hadn’t made any friends around her age in the three weeks she had lived here. Clare felt a pang of regret slice through her as she wished that an irritating boss was the only reason she needed self-defense classes.

“I’m Casey Kavanagh, by the way.” The redhead reached out her hand to Clare, who accepted it happily.

“Clare—well, I guess you already know that.” Clare pointed toward the driver’s license that Casey was still holding. Casey just smirked and waved her hand nonchalantly.

“So—Kavanagh? You’re part of the family who owns this place?” Clare tried not to sound like she was prying, but she was curious. She’d heard that name all over town since she got here.

“Yeah, my uncle owns it. Started it up back in the late seventies. It’s been remodeled lately, but we definitely still have the old-school reputation.”

“Oh.” Clare nodded, not sure what that meant or what to say.

“Here, you can have this back. I think I have everything in here now.” Casey handed her the license. “The thirty-day trial membership begins today, and then we can talk about different types of plans after you’ve had a chance to try out our various amenities and classes.”

“Thanks. Do you think I could have a peek around? See where the locker rooms are and stuff like that?” Clare tucked her driver’s license back into her wallet along with the new membership card, then stuffed the wallet into the small brown purse that was slung over her shoulder.

“Hell, yeah! Come on, let me give you a tour. Welcome—officially, this time—to Legends!” Casey popped out from around the back of the counter, motioning for her to follow.

Clare watched the bouncy, energetic woman in amusement as she followed her, feeling slightly overdressed in her knee-length red dress and thigh-high black boots, compared to Casey’s black yoga pants and neon-green long-sleeved tee.

“Okay, so here are the locker rooms. Men over there, women right here.” Casey started to point toward various doors they passed as the hallway opened up into a large room with an open floor plan.

“The entire far side of the room is pretty much for the fighters, not really anything but testosterone and ball sweat over there.” Casey slid her arm around Clare’s elbow to pull her along.

Clare giggled at Casey’s remarks and took in the view of dozens of men on weight-lifting machines, standing in front of weight benches, and in the rings. She had to agree, there was definitely a lot of testosterone in here.

“But over here is where things are a bit less noisy.” Casey led Clare to a side hall that opened into several small classrooms. A few of the rooms were filled with people doing group exercises; Clare recognized a yoga class and a spinning class.

“All the classrooms are walled in by windows, but the glass is so thick that you can’t hear all the noise from the rings.” Casey indicated an empty classroom that was at the back wall of the gym.

The door they entered through was set in a wall of all glass, just like the back wall of the room that gave them a view of the street. Clare strode toward the back wall, loving the openness and the view of pedestrians passing by.

“Yeah, that’s my favorite part, too,” Casey said.

“What, people watching?”

“Of course! People are weird, which is fun,” Casey quipped, joining her at the window as they stood side by side.

“See, there’s an example of weird right there.” Casey pointed at a behemoth of a man crouching on the sidewalk with a large dog next to him.

“That’s my cousin, Rory, but he’s more like a brother. He works here sometimes, used to be a fighter but got hurt in the championships last year. Almost couldn’t walk again since his leg pretty much split in two. A year later, not only is he walking, but there he is crouched down, feeding a damn street dog.”

Clare watched more closely, and now she noticed the second dog. In front of both the man and the larger dog beside him was a smaller, frail-looking pup. It couldn’t be more than twenty pounds, although it seemed like it should be much bigger. The dog’s ribs were poking out of its side as Casey’s cousin slowly fed him a sandwich. He was careful to hold his hand out flat and she could see his lips moving from his profile, realizing he was probably coaxing the dog to accept the food.

“I think that’s sweet. I was studying to be a vet before I moved here.” Clare’s voice was soft as she admired the man’s kindness toward the stray.

The man stood and stretched a bit, opening up the other half of a bagged sandwich and then settling himself on the curb by the thin dog, who seemed more trusting of him now. In his new position, Clare could see more of his face and she realized that it was the same burly yet handsome man she had flirted with at O’Leary’s last night.

Of course, that was before he had broken her boss’s nose.

She felt a stirring in her abdomen as she watched him, her mouth slightly parting. The brown pup cautiously took a few steps to him, then sat and placed his head in Rory’s lap. Clare felt a glow as her heart warmed at the sight.

“I’m so not an animal person, but Rory would help a goddamn rat if he found one. That bigger dog there is his shadow, Ace. Barely ever see the two of them apart.” Casey stepped away from the window.

Clare hesitated, watching Rory and Ace for a moment longer, then pulled herself away to go follow her new friend. It had been a while since she had thought about her previous career aspirations, and a wave of sadness passed over her as she thought of the different trajectory of her life now. Maybe now that she was starting over, she could go back to school, she found herself hoping.




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Sarah Robinson is the bestselling author of The Photographer Trilogy and the Sand & Clay rock star series. A native of Washington, D.C., Robinson has both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal psychology. She is married to a local police officer who is just as much of an animal rescue enthusiast as she is. Together, they own a zoo of rescue and foster animals.

Posted by on September 23, 2015 in What to Read Wednesday


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