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Title: Be The Girl
Author: K.A. Tucker
Publication date: January 21st, 2019
Target Audience: Young Adult
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 313
Source: Author
Format: eARC
Find It: Goodreads
Buy It: Amazon|B&N|Book Depository
My Rating:

Almost sixteen-year-old Aria Jones is starting over. New postal code, new last name, new rules. But she doesn’t mind, because it means she can leave her painful regrets behind. In the bustling town of Eastmonte, she can become someone else. Someone better.

With the Hartford family living next door, it seems she will succeed. Sure, Cassie Hartford may be the epitome of social awkwardness thanks to her autism, but she also offers an innocent and sincere friendship that Aria learns to appreciate. And Cassie’s older brother, Emmett—a popular Junior A hockey player with a bright future—well … Aria wishes that friendship could lead to something more. If he didn’t already have a girlfriend, maybe it would.

But Aria soon finds herself in a dicey moral predicament that could derail her attempt at a fresh start. It is her loyalty to Cassie and her growing crush on Emmett that leads her to make a risky move, one that earns her a vindictive enemy who is determined to splinter her happy new world.

Excerpt

My eyes are closed and rhythmic music pulsates through my earbuds when a knock sounds on my bedroom door.

“Come in!” I hit pause on my playlist.

The door eases open.

“Hey, your mom asked me to—bring these in.”

I bolt upright in bed as a towering guy with wavy chestnut brown hair strolls in, his arms loaded with two cardboard boxes, his lips pressed together firmly as if trying not to laugh.

Cassie trails him, her mouth splitting wide with a grin when she sees me. “Your face is green!” she declares with a bark of laughter.

And burning red beneath this mud mask.

“Why is your face green?”

“It’s just … nothing,” I mumble.

“Is it a face mask?” she presses.

“Yes.”

“Where do you want these?” the guy asks, having the decency to avert his gaze.

“Over there?” I croak, pointing to the shelves by the window, desperate to tunnel beneath my sheets. As if the mask isn’t bad enough, my hair is piled messily on top of my head and I’m wearing an old cotton T-shirt with my former high school’s logo and boxer shorts that, while comfortable beyond compare, are far from cute.

“This is my brother, Emmett. He just got home from the United States,” Cassie introduces proudly as he leans over to set the boxes on the floor, giving me a great view of his muscular arms and the shape of his broad back, straining beneath the weight. “This is Aria with a green face. She likes dogs, just like me, and she hates tomatoes, just like me.” The introduction comes out in one long string of words, using her slightly offbeat inflections.

Emmett eases to his feet. “Hello, Aria with a green face who likes dogs and hates tomatoes.” His smile is wide and broad, and shows off his perfect white teeth and two deep-set dimples in his cheeks. His eyes are a rich, dark brown and they complement his olive-toned skin. His nose is angular and in perfect proportion. His jawline is square and solid, any hint of boyishness gone.

Much like my ragged ensemble, this guy is far from cute.

He’s gorgeous.

I swallow my embarrassment. “Yeah. Hey.”

“Look what Emmett brought me!” Cassie holds up a stuffed animal in a burgundy jersey with a yellow “M” across the front. “His name is Goldy Gopher. He’s a hockey mascot. I love mascots. Do you like mascots?”

“I don’t know? Maybe?” What I do know is that I really don’t want to carry on a conversation about mascots with my hot neighbor and his sister while I look like this.

“So, we’ll … uh …” Emmett casts his thumb toward the door.

“Yeah. Good. I mean …” I shake my head, cringing at myself.

“You have stars!” Cassie’s wide eyes lock on the stickers above my bed.

“Yeah.” More humiliation to add to tonight’s collection. Mom “stumbled upon them” in the wallpaper section at Home Depot. Truthfully, I think she went looking for them. She’s like that when she gets something in her head. I plastered on a fake smile instead of telling her I’m too old for glow-in-the-dark stars.

“I like your room. It looks different.” Cassie’s eyes drift, scanning the space as if memorizing it.

“See you around, Aria.” Emmett ruffles Cassie’s hair on his way past, and then hooks an arm around her shoulders and steers her toward the door. She stiffens. “Come on. Let’s give green-faced Aria some privacy,” he mock-whispers, earning her burst of childlike laughter.

He pulls my door shut, but not before turning back to offer one last devastatingly handsome look, his brown eyes twinkling with amusement.

And in that moment, beneath a cluster of tacky glow-in-the-dark stars, my face green with clay and red with embarrassment, I fall hopelessly in love with the boy next door.

As soon as the door clicks, I flop back into my bed with a groan.

My Thoughts

When I say that K.A. Tucker should be on everyone’s auto buy list, I do not exaggerate. She never fails to bowl me over with each new book. Just when I think that she can’t get any better…she does.

Be The Girl is an amazing read on so many levels. Honestly there is no review I could write that would do this book justice. It has it all.

This is a story about coming of age, learning from ones mistakes, learning to trust, learning to forgive others and perhaps the most difficult to forgive oneself. It’s themes include: young love, bullying, divorce, autism, second chances, surviving widowing and so so much more….

When young almost sixteen year old Aria Jones and her newly divorced mother move across country to live with her great uncle…it’s apparently the fresh start that they both need. They’ve changed their last name, changed locations are are starting over. What exactly they are running from…aside from Aria’s cheating father and his new family…is a bit of a mystery.

As we get to know Aria and her mom, her curmudgeonly uncle and the family that lives next door…including the gorgeous, athletic, smart and kind Emmett…we grow to really like her even as we know and suspect that she is keeping secrets from us and Emmett. Her friendship with Cassie, her crush on Emmett, her love of animals, her sincerity in caring for her mom and uncle all add up to building a great if someone immature (hey she’s only fifteen) character.

Eventually those secrets are revealed and everything blows apart. In the aftermath Cassie, Emmett, and the reader too are all left conflicted and confused. We are left perhaps even evaluating our own behaviors and decisions as well as our thresholds for forgiveness and our ability to believe in change and second chances.

Go out a grab a copy of Be The Girl by K.A. Tucker. You won’t be disappointed.

About K.A. Tucker

K.A. Tucker writes captivating stories with an edge.

She is the USA Today bestselling author of 18 books, including the Causal Enchantment, Ten Tiny Breaths and Burying Water series, He Will Be My Ruin, Until It Fades, Keep Her Safe, The Simple Wild, and Be the Girl. Her books have been featured in national publications including USA Today, Globe & Mail, Suspense Magazine, First for Women, and Publisher’s Weekly. She has been nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Romance 2013 for TEN TINY BREATHS and Best Romance 2018 for THE SIMPLE WILD. Her novels have been translated into 16 languages.

K.A. Tucker currently resides in a quaint town outside of Toronto with her family.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Pinterest

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I am so excited that STOLEN by Marlena Frank is available now and that I get to share the news!
If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Author Marlena Frank, be sure to check out all the details below.
This blitz also includes a giveaway for a $10 Amazon Gift Card, International, courtesy of The Parliament House and Rockstar Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.


About Stolen
Title: STOLEN (Stolen #1)
Author: Marlena Frank
Pub. Date: January 22, 2019
Publisher: The Parliament House
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 342
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonB&NiBooksKobo

It’s difficult taking care of a delusional father by yourself. Sixteen-year-old Shaleigh Mallet would rather explore and photograph dilapidated buildings than cater to her father’s dark episodes. But when she’s kidnapped by a creature who carries her atop a flying bicycle into another world, she realizes this wasn’t the escape she wanted.

In a kingdom known as the Garden, where minotaurs pull carriages and parties are held in hot air balloons, Madam Cloom and her faerie servant, Teagan, rule over the land with incredible but terrifying magic. Shaleigh must prove that she is the reincarnation of a long-dead ruler, not because she believes it, but because it’s her only chance to survive. With the help of a trespassing faerie, a stoatling, and a living statue, Shaleigh hopes to outwit everyone. She aims to break the bonds of servitude and finally make her way home. What she doesn’t realize, however, is that she’s playing right into the hands of a far worse enemy…

Book Trailer

Official Book Trailer: Stolen by Marlena Frank - YouTube

Excerpt
PART I
FREEFALL


AN EMBARRASSMENT

Shaleigh didn’t think about how much concrete and steel stood over her head as she stepped carefully down the decaying hallway of Ferris Factory. The building had been abandoned for so long that the mildew and fungus ran rampant from the moisture that crept down the crumbling walls, so a respirator was a requirement. Ferris Factory was only two stories tall from the outside, but the floors underground felt endless. The elevator shaft only went down three floors when it had been operational; the rest of the floors could only be reached with the stairs. She doubted any of it had been inspected by the fire marshal.

Her best friend, Kaeja, walked so close behind that she could feel her warm breath on the back of her neck. The only sound that echoed up and down the hallway, besides their footsteps, was the snap of Shaleigh’s camera. The photos were why they risked their lives to explore dangerous places: to document the decrepit. It was thrilling to explore a place that nobody else would see. Eventually all the walls would fall, and Ferris Factory would decay into memory. Shaleigh and Kaeja would have the only remaining proof it even existed, especially since it was clear that nobody was supposed to know about this section of the factory.

A rat skittered out of a heap of moldy paperwork and Kaeja took a deep breath until it passed. “This is the worst one yet. By far.” Shaleigh grinned, though her respirator concealed it. “Come on, we had to come back and take the stairs down. We couldn’t just end it at the base of the elevator.”

“Do you see that?” She swung the flashlight to the side. “I couldn’t even hang a picture on that wall. Four floors down was enough, five floors is just begging to get hurt.”

Kaeja was right, the walls of the hallway curved inward like a bow string. Shaleigh hadn’t noticed how bad it was until she mentioned it. “We’ll be quick.”

She snapped as many photos as she could while Kaeja held the flashlight. It illuminated a good portion of the hall, but the beam had little effect against the thick, sick air. The light ought to have made the place more inviting, but it only made the shadows darker. It was hard for Shaleigh to keep her hands steady for the photos; fear and exhilaration kept combating within her. Sure, this place was terrifying and could collapse at any moment, but the thought of capturing a world that would never been seen again, of documenting the forgotten before it disappeared, made her tap the shutter button of her camera faster. “I wish we had more time. I’d love to look inside some of these rooms.”

“Not me,” Kaeja said, her eyes shadowed by the reflections of the flashlight on her mask. “These halls are creepy enough, thanks.” The light flashed across some metal scraps against the bowed wooden wall. It was hard to tell if it had been left behind by the workers, or if it had fallen from the ceiling. “Didn’t they used to make cars here?”

“Sure, that’s it.” Shaleigh snorted as she tapped on a dirt-encrusted sign that warned visitors that the hallway was a high security corridor. “Whatever helps you sleep at night.”

“It’s an old building, but that doesn’t mean they were hiding anything down here.”

“Then what’s with the high security? They had to be doing something illegal down here. The maps we found don’t even show these floors. I heard it used to be a hospital,”
Shaleigh glanced back to her with a smile. “Dad heard it from a colleague at work. They used to keep dangerous people here.” Kaeja stared at her, the beam from the flashlight in her hands trembling.

A high-pitched squeal of metal echoed down through the insides of the building, as though the entire structure was shifting under its own weight. The squeal turned into a groan that shook the very floor beneath their feet. Both teens froze, barely daring to breathe as debris fell from the ceiling. Seven levels of exhausted steel, wood, and plaster shifted over their heads. They stood in silence waiting for the walls to give way, waiting to be buried beneath the rusty metal beams, discolored linoleum floors, and rat-infested insulation; but the building remained steady.

The noise stopped. Particles drifted in the air.

“It doesn’t sound very good, does it?” Shaleigh whispered.

“I don’t like it. I don’t care what you say, this is the lowest I’m going. Five levels below ground is far enough.”

Shaleigh stifled a laugh, “That’s what you said when we found the stairs.”

A high-pitched noise erupted down the hall causing both teens to jump. It didn’t sound metallic…it didn’t sound like the building at all.

Kaeja stared down the hallway with wide eyes. The noise broke into a whimper, and then there was silence. It only lasted maybe a few seconds, but they both knew what they had heard. Someone was down there with them.

Shaleigh turned to look behind them, but without the flashlight beam it was too dark to see anything. “Was that—was that behind us?”

Kaeja spun around, temporarily blinding Shaleigh in the process. “I don’t know. I thought it came from in front of us.”

The darkness felt like a cage all around them. The beam of the flashlight, darting forwards and backwards down the hall, seemed so small and insignificant now. Someone was in the darkness. Someone was watching them. Shaleigh stepped around Kaeja and started back toward the stairwell. “We should go.”

Kaeja grabbed her arm and Shaleigh could feel her clammy fingers through the sleeve of her jacket. “Are you crazy? You said that’s where it came from.”

“How else are we going to get out of here?”

Kaeja could give no argument and shook her head. “Shaleigh…” she whimpered.

“It’s okay, we’ll do it together.” She put her camera around her neck and took Kaeja’s hand. They walked slowly towards the door of the stairwell, side by side, fingers clasped in a death grip.

For a moment, Shaleigh thought she saw movement ahead of them and stopped. Kaeja must have seen it too because she swept her flashlight left and right, searching for whatever it was. Just before the beam of light reached one of the doors, Shaleigh was certain she spotted a shadow move into one of the rooms.

“Ow…” Kaeja whispered giving their joined hands a tug. Shaleigh realized she had been gripping too hard and loosened her hold but didn’t say a word. Her eyes were fixed on where the shadow had been. As they drew closer, an arm stretched out, hairy with long, black fingernails, and pulled the door closed. There was a splash as though something heavy had fallen into a pool of water from behind the door.

Kaeja screamed. A bolt of adrenaline hit Shaleigh and she grabbed Kaeja’s arm. Together they ran. As they passed the door, the knob began to turn with a creak. She wasn’t sure if Kaeja had seen it or not. “Keep going!” she yelled, all pretense of caution forgotten.

Once the stairwell came into view, they sped up. Shaleigh slipped on a wet spot and her foot skidded. She would have sprained her ankle if she hadn’t grabbed for the wall. What a stupid way to die, she thought as she regained her footing. She had to keep her head straight, because panicking in an old, decrepit building was a sure way to get hurt or killed by whatever was after them. She forced them to slow down to climb over a pile of broken boards and nails. Shaleigh had thought it odd to have it so close to the stairwell when they’d first come down, but now she saw it as a marker, a warning perhaps, to keep trespassers out. As she helped Kaeja down the opposite side of the rubble, she heard limping footsteps approaching them.

“It’s coming!” Shaleigh cried and together they sprinted for the stairwell. The flashlight bounced beams off the walls.

They hit the metal door like a battering ram, shoving it into the rusted railings of the stairs, causing it to reverberate like a gong up and down the concrete shaft. Shaleigh gripped the metal rail, feeling the flecks of paint come off on her hands, and the raw rust beneath. She exchanged a glance with Kaeja, both trying to catch their breath. The respirator was humid with her breathing and she couldn’t wait to rip it off when they got outside. She looked up the dark stairwell above them and grimaced. There were too many floors between them and safety.

Kaeja gasped and reached out to grab Shaleigh’s arm. Shaleigh stared at her. She thought she could make out footsteps from the hall they just left, but it was so faint it was hard to make out. It could have just been the sounds of the building, but she didn’t want to take any chances. Taking a deep breath, Shaleigh led the way as they started up the stairs.

One floor, two floors, three floors.

Was that the sound of the doorknob beneath them being turned? Kaeja hurried to her side as they continued to climb. Both were audibly gasping now. It wouldn’t take much for their pursuer to know where they went. Shaleigh’s thighs were burning. She could sprint up a flight or two of stairs, but this was tough. It didn’t help that she was already out of breath before they even started climbing.

“What if it’s locked us in?” Kaeja asked between sucking in gulps of air.

Shaleigh didn’t respond. She didn’t want to even consider that option.

They climbed two more flights of stairs. Kaeja reached the door first. They both let out a sigh of relief when the door opened. Panting, they jogged to the main exit, a pair of massive iron doors that looked like they belonged in a mausoleum. Neither of them said a word as they descended the short flight of broken steps to the grass. Shaleigh ripped off her respirator, Kaeja did the same, and they both exchanged grins as they crossed the grass-pocked concrete walkway. It felt good to feel the heat of the day on her skin too. The sun was sinking in the west, but the air was sweet with wild honeysuckle and a light breeze rustled the old oaks. Shaleigh relaxed a bit but could tell by Kaeja’s expression that she wouldn’t be able to relax until they had left the property completely.

The concrete walkway fell away to tall grass that came up to their hips, as they sidestepped small pine trees that were beginning to take over the lot and moved further away from the building. The chain link fence that surrounded the property sported multiple warning signs for trespassers, though they were faded from exposure. Kaeja pulled back the corner of fencing they had used to get in, and they both climbed through without saying a word. Kaeja paused, took a deep breath, and relaxed her shoulders.

“I know you’ll hate to hear this, Kaeja,” Shaleigh started. “But I think I’m done with Ferris Factory for a while.”

Kaeja laughed. “No complaints here. I’m going to add that we never go underground again either. I am not running up that many stairs again, no matter how great you say the pictures will be.” Shaleigh couldn’t help but laugh. The downtrodden path through the woods made it a short walk to reach the bus stop. Shaleigh unwrapped the scarf from around her head and shook out her twists. The breeze felt wonderful on her scalp. They dropped everything into Shaleigh’s backpack as they walked. The main road was surprisingly empty for a Sunday afternoon. After exploring inside of decomposing buildings for a while, she had new respect for even the simplest things. The bench for the bus stop, covered in graffiti and bearing a single broken board, looked like a luxury.
Kaeja sprawled across the broken wooden bench and covered her eyes with her arms.

“Wow, what a rush!”

“I know!” Despite her smile, Shaleigh still glanced over her shoulder, as though expecting the person from the building to be slinking toward them through the woods.
“What do you think it was?”

Kaeja stared up into the sky. “Someone crazy, I’m sure. It’s a good thing they made some noise. I don’t like the thought of them sneaking up on us like that.” She sat up and patted the bench beside her.

Shaleigh obliged, her legs were still shaky. “Did you see that hand?”

Kaeja shuddered, “Looked like he hadn’t seen the light of day in forever.” She stretched her arms over the back of the bench. “This is exactly why I don’t like the big ones. There are too many hiding places.”

“The small ones aren’t much better,” Shaleigh added. “Sometimes it feels like a shot right out of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, you know?”

Kaeja nodded and the two grew silent from their own nerves. Kaeja’s leg jumped up and down, as though at any moment she would jump up into a sprint. Shaleigh kept resisting the urge to look over her shoulder once more. The bus couldn’t come fast enough.

“Ugh, I need to think about something else.” Kaeja said with a tense smile. “You’ve got a party coming up tonight, don’t you? You get to get all dolled up. I know you don’t like the people much, but I do envy you getting to go.”

Shaleigh sighed. “I had almost forgotten about it.” She checked her watch. It was a good thing they had left when they did because she still needed to get home and clean up. “If you like it so much, you can totally go for me.”

“Your dad would never let me. He needs you there.”

“Unfortunately.”

Kaeja scooted closer and put an arm around her shoulders. “I’m sorry. I guess that is pretty hard on you. Do they ask you a lot of questions about him?”

Shaleigh nodded. She hated the tight feeling she got in her chest whenever she thought of those stupid parties. She hated the fact that she had to go. Why in the world did Roseworth College have so many of them anyway? It was like they wanted to torture her.

Deciding to change the subject, she picked up her camera from around her neck. After checking to make sure nothing had been damaged in their mad dash, she asked, “Want to see the pictures?”

Kaeja nodded but looked concerned. Shaleigh ignored it.

The brilliant light of the flash somehow made the dark halls of Ferris Factory less frightening, less dangerous. If only people were so easy to strip of fear.


Giveaway 1 winner will win a $10 Amazon Gift Card, INTERNATIONAL. a Rafflecopter giveaway About Marlena

I write about strange creatures. Typically they shouldn’t exist, or they have bled through from a different reality, or they’re pretending to be a crying baby in a crib. Sometimes that lands my stories in horror and other times in fantasy, but there’s always an air of strangeness to my tales. If you want to get a better feel for what I’m talking about, check out a few clips or read a few drabbles.

My work has appeared in a spattering of short story collections, but I do have a few novellas and novels in the pipeline. Other than talking about writing, I also talk about cryptozoologywerewolveswildlife conservation, and of course kitties. I’ve also been known to nerd out about Batman and The Hobbit, and have recently discovered the cracktastic fun of Black Butler cosplay, so there will likely be more of these incidents.

By day I work as a web developer, so I’ll occasionally talk about web issues like finding the right theme.
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I am so excited that STOLEN by Marlena Frank is available now and that I get to share the news!
If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Author Marlena Frank, be sure to check out all the details below.
This blitz also includes a giveaway for a $10 Amazon Gift Card, International, courtesy of The Parliament House and Rockstar Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.


About Stolen
Title: STOLEN (Stolen #1)
Author: Marlena Frank
Pub. Date: January 22, 2019
Publisher: The Parliament House
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 342
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonB&NiBooksKobo

It’s difficult taking care of a delusional father by yourself. Sixteen-year-old Shaleigh Mallet would rather explore and photograph dilapidated buildings than cater to her father’s dark episodes. But when she’s kidnapped by a creature who carries her atop a flying bicycle into another world, she realizes this wasn’t the escape she wanted.

In a kingdom known as the Garden, where minotaurs pull carriages and parties are held in hot air balloons, Madam Cloom and her faerie servant, Teagan, rule over the land with incredible but terrifying magic. Shaleigh must prove that she is the reincarnation of a long-dead ruler, not because she believes it, but because it’s her only chance to survive. With the help of a trespassing faerie, a stoatling, and a living statue, Shaleigh hopes to outwit everyone. She aims to break the bonds of servitude and finally make her way home. What she doesn’t realize, however, is that she’s playing right into the hands of a far worse enemy…

Book Trailer

Official Book Trailer: Stolen by Marlena Frank - YouTube

Excerpt
PART I
FREEFALL


AN EMBARRASSMENT

Shaleigh didn’t think about how much concrete and steel stood over her head as she stepped carefully down the decaying hallway of Ferris Factory. The building had been abandoned for so long that the mildew and fungus ran rampant from the moisture that crept down the crumbling walls, so a respirator was a requirement. Ferris Factory was only two stories tall from the outside, but the floors underground felt endless. The elevator shaft only went down three floors when it had been operational; the rest of the floors could only be reached with the stairs. She doubted any of it had been inspected by the fire marshal.

Her best friend, Kaeja, walked so close behind that she could feel her warm breath on the back of her neck. The only sound that echoed up and down the hallway, besides their footsteps, was the snap of Shaleigh’s camera. The photos were why they risked their lives to explore dangerous places: to document the decrepit. It was thrilling to explore a place that nobody else would see. Eventually all the walls would fall, and Ferris Factory would decay into memory. Shaleigh and Kaeja would have the only remaining proof it even existed, especially since it was clear that nobody was supposed to know about this section of the factory.

A rat skittered out of a heap of moldy paperwork and Kaeja took a deep breath until it passed. “This is the worst one yet. By far.” Shaleigh grinned, though her respirator concealed it. “Come on, we had to come back and take the stairs down. We couldn’t just end it at the base of the elevator.”

“Do you see that?” She swung the flashlight to the side. “I couldn’t even hang a picture on that wall. Four floors down was enough, five floors is just begging to get hurt.”

Kaeja was right, the walls of the hallway curved inward like a bow string. Shaleigh hadn’t noticed how bad it was until she mentioned it. “We’ll be quick.”

She snapped as many photos as she could while Kaeja held the flashlight. It illuminated a good portion of the hall, but the beam had little effect against the thick, sick air. The light ought to have made the place more inviting, but it only made the shadows darker. It was hard for Shaleigh to keep her hands steady for the photos; fear and exhilaration kept combating within her. Sure, this place was terrifying and could collapse at any moment, but the thought of capturing a world that would never been seen again, of documenting the forgotten before it disappeared, made her tap the shutter button of her camera faster. “I wish we had more time. I’d love to look inside some of these rooms.”

“Not me,” Kaeja said, her eyes shadowed by the reflections of the flashlight on her mask. “These halls are creepy enough, thanks.” The light flashed across some metal scraps against the bowed wooden wall. It was hard to tell if it had been left behind by the workers, or if it had fallen from the ceiling. “Didn’t they used to make cars here?”

“Sure, that’s it.” Shaleigh snorted as she tapped on a dirt-encrusted sign that warned visitors that the hallway was a high security corridor. “Whatever helps you sleep at night.”

“It’s an old building, but that doesn’t mean they were hiding anything down here.”

“Then what’s with the high security? They had to be doing something illegal down here. The maps we found don’t even show these floors. I heard it used to be a hospital,”
Shaleigh glanced back to her with a smile. “Dad heard it from a colleague at work. They used to keep dangerous people here.” Kaeja stared at her, the beam from the flashlight in her hands trembling.

A high-pitched squeal of metal echoed down through the insides of the building, as though the entire structure was shifting under its own weight. The squeal turned into a groan that shook the very floor beneath their feet. Both teens froze, barely daring to breathe as debris fell from the ceiling. Seven levels of exhausted steel, wood, and plaster shifted over their heads. They stood in silence waiting for the walls to give way, waiting to be buried beneath the rusty metal beams, discolored linoleum floors, and rat-infested insulation; but the building remained steady.

The noise stopped. Particles drifted in the air.

“It doesn’t sound very good, does it?” Shaleigh whispered.

“I don’t like it. I don’t care what you say, this is the lowest I’m going. Five levels below ground is far enough.”

Shaleigh stifled a laugh, “That’s what you said when we found the stairs.”

A high-pitched noise erupted down the hall causing both teens to jump. It didn’t sound metallic…it didn’t sound like the building at all.

Kaeja stared down the hallway with wide eyes. The noise broke into a whimper, and then there was silence. It only lasted maybe a few seconds, but they both knew what they had heard. Someone was down there with them.

Shaleigh turned to look behind them, but without the flashlight beam it was too dark to see anything. “Was that—was that behind us?”

Kaeja spun around, temporarily blinding Shaleigh in the process. “I don’t know. I thought it came from in front of us.”

The darkness felt like a cage all around them. The beam of the flashlight, darting forwards and backwards down the hall, seemed so small and insignificant now. Someone was in the darkness. Someone was watching them. Shaleigh stepped around Kaeja and started back toward the stairwell. “We should go.”

Kaeja grabbed her arm and Shaleigh could feel her clammy fingers through the sleeve of her jacket. “Are you crazy? You said that’s where it came from.”

“How else are we going to get out of here?”

Kaeja could give no argument and shook her head. “Shaleigh…” she whimpered.

“It’s okay, we’ll do it together.” She put her camera around her neck and took Kaeja’s hand. They walked slowly towards the door of the stairwell, side by side, fingers clasped in a death grip.

For a moment, Shaleigh thought she saw movement ahead of them and stopped. Kaeja must have seen it too because she swept her flashlight left and right, searching for whatever it was. Just before the beam of light reached one of the doors, Shaleigh was certain she spotted a shadow move into one of the rooms.

“Ow…” Kaeja whispered giving their joined hands a tug. Shaleigh realized she had been gripping too hard and loosened her hold but didn’t say a word. Her eyes were fixed on where the shadow had been. As they drew closer, an arm stretched out, hairy with long, black fingernails, and pulled the door closed. There was a splash as though something heavy had fallen into a pool of water from behind the door.

Kaeja screamed. A bolt of adrenaline hit Shaleigh and she grabbed Kaeja’s arm. Together they ran. As they passed the door, the knob began to turn with a creak. She wasn’t sure if Kaeja had seen it or not. “Keep going!” she yelled, all pretense of caution forgotten.

Once the stairwell came into view, they sped up. Shaleigh slipped on a wet spot and her foot skidded. She would have sprained her ankle if she hadn’t grabbed for the wall. What a stupid way to die, she thought as she regained her footing. She had to keep her head straight, because panicking in an old, decrepit building was a sure way to get hurt or killed by whatever was after them. She forced them to slow down to climb over a pile of broken boards and nails. Shaleigh had thought it odd to have it so close to the stairwell when they’d first come down, but now she saw it as a marker, a warning perhaps, to keep trespassers out. As she helped Kaeja down the opposite side of the rubble, she heard limping footsteps approaching them.

“It’s coming!” Shaleigh cried and together they sprinted for the stairwell. The flashlight bounced beams off the walls.

They hit the metal door like a battering ram, shoving it into the rusted railings of the stairs, causing it to reverberate like a gong up and down the concrete shaft. Shaleigh gripped the metal rail, feeling the flecks of paint come off on her hands, and the raw rust beneath. She exchanged a glance with Kaeja, both trying to catch their breath. The respirator was humid with her breathing and she couldn’t wait to rip it off when they got outside. She looked up the dark stairwell above them and grimaced. There were too many floors between them and safety.

Kaeja gasped and reached out to grab Shaleigh’s arm. Shaleigh stared at her. She thought she could make out footsteps from the hall they just left, but it was so faint it was hard to make out. It could have just been the sounds of the building, but she didn’t want to take any chances. Taking a deep breath, Shaleigh led the way as they started up the stairs.

One floor, two floors, three floors.

Was that the sound of the doorknob beneath them being turned? Kaeja hurried to her side as they continued to climb. Both were audibly gasping now. It wouldn’t take much for their pursuer to know where they went. Shaleigh’s thighs were burning. She could sprint up a flight or two of stairs, but this was tough. It didn’t help that she was already out of breath before they even started climbing.

“What if it’s locked us in?” Kaeja asked between sucking in gulps of air.

Shaleigh didn’t respond. She didn’t want to even consider that option.

They climbed two more flights of stairs. Kaeja reached the door first. They both let out a sigh of relief when the door opened. Panting, they jogged to the main exit, a pair of massive iron doors that looked like they belonged in a mausoleum. Neither of them said a word as they descended the short flight of broken steps to the grass. Shaleigh ripped off her respirator, Kaeja did the same, and they both exchanged grins as they crossed the grass-pocked concrete walkway. It felt good to feel the heat of the day on her skin too. The sun was sinking in the west, but the air was sweet with wild honeysuckle and a light breeze rustled the old oaks. Shaleigh relaxed a bit but could tell by Kaeja’s expression that she wouldn’t be able to relax until they had left the property completely.

The concrete walkway fell away to tall grass that came up to their hips, as they sidestepped small pine trees that were beginning to take over the lot and moved further away from the building. The chain link fence that surrounded the property sported multiple warning signs for trespassers, though they were faded from exposure. Kaeja pulled back the corner of fencing they had used to get in, and they both climbed through without saying a word. Kaeja paused, took a deep breath, and relaxed her shoulders.

“I know you’ll hate to hear this, Kaeja,” Shaleigh started. “But I think I’m done with Ferris Factory for a while.”

Kaeja laughed. “No complaints here. I’m going to add that we never go underground again either. I am not running up that many stairs again, no matter how great you say the pictures will be.” Shaleigh couldn’t help but laugh. The downtrodden path through the woods made it a short walk to reach the bus stop. Shaleigh unwrapped the scarf from around her head and shook out her twists. The breeze felt wonderful on her scalp. They dropped everything into Shaleigh’s backpack as they walked. The main road was surprisingly empty for a Sunday afternoon. After exploring inside of decomposing buildings for a while, she had new respect for even the simplest things. The bench for the bus stop, covered in graffiti and bearing a single broken board, looked like a luxury.
Kaeja sprawled across the broken wooden bench and covered her eyes with her arms.

“Wow, what a rush!”

“I know!” Despite her smile, Shaleigh still glanced over her shoulder, as though expecting the person from the building to be slinking toward them through the woods.
“What do you think it was?”

Kaeja stared up into the sky. “Someone crazy, I’m sure. It’s a good thing they made some noise. I don’t like the thought of them sneaking up on us like that.” She sat up and patted the bench beside her.

Shaleigh obliged, her legs were still shaky. “Did you see that hand?”

Kaeja shuddered, “Looked like he hadn’t seen the light of day in forever.” She stretched her arms over the back of the bench. “This is exactly why I don’t like the big ones. There are too many hiding places.”

“The small ones aren’t much better,” Shaleigh added. “Sometimes it feels like a shot right out of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, you know?”

Kaeja nodded and the two grew silent from their own nerves. Kaeja’s leg jumped up and down, as though at any moment she would jump up into a sprint. Shaleigh kept resisting the urge to look over her shoulder once more. The bus couldn’t come fast enough.

“Ugh, I need to think about something else.” Kaeja said with a tense smile. “You’ve got a party coming up tonight, don’t you? You get to get all dolled up. I know you don’t like the people much, but I do envy you getting to go.”

Shaleigh sighed. “I had almost forgotten about it.” She checked her watch. It was a good thing they had left when they did because she still needed to get home and clean up. “If you like it so much, you can totally go for me.”

“Your dad would never let me. He needs you there.”

“Unfortunately.”

Kaeja scooted closer and put an arm around her shoulders. “I’m sorry. I guess that is pretty hard on you. Do they ask you a lot of questions about him?”

Shaleigh nodded. She hated the tight feeling she got in her chest whenever she thought of those stupid parties. She hated the fact that she had to go. Why in the world did Roseworth College have so many of them anyway? It was like they wanted to torture her.

Deciding to change the subject, she picked up her camera from around her neck. After checking to make sure nothing had been damaged in their mad dash, she asked, “Want to see the pictures?”

Kaeja nodded but looked concerned. Shaleigh ignored it.

The brilliant light of the flash somehow made the dark halls of Ferris Factory less frightening, less dangerous. If only people were so easy to strip of fear.


Giveaway 1 winner will win a $10 Amazon Gift Card, INTERNATIONAL. a Rafflecopter giveaway About Marlena

I write about strange creatures. Typically they shouldn’t exist, or they have bled through from a different reality, or they’re pretending to be a crying baby in a crib. Sometimes that lands my stories in horror and other times in fantasy, but there’s always an air of strangeness to my tales. If you want to get a better feel for what I’m talking about, check out a few clips or read a few drabbles.

My work has appeared in a spattering of short story collections, but I do have a few novellas and novels in the pipeline. Other than talking about writing, I also talk about cryptozoologywerewolveswildlife conservation, and of course kitties. I’ve also been known to nerd out about Batman and The Hobbit, and have recently discovered the cracktastic fun of Black Butler cosplay, so there will likely be more of these incidents.

By day I work as a web developer, so I’ll occasionally talk about web issues like finding the right theme.
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About Playing for Keeps Title: Playing For Keeps
Series: Heartbreaker Bay #7
Also in Series: The Trouble with Mistletoe, One Snowy Night, Accidentally On Purpose, Holiday Wishes, About That Kiss
Author: Jill Shalvis
Publisher: Avon, HarperCollins
Publication date: January 22nd 2019
Target Audience: Adult
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 384
Source: Publisher
Format: eARC
Find It: Goodreads
Buy It: Amazon|B&N|Book Depository
My Rating:

If you’re planning on falling in love…
When it comes to the confident, charismatic Caleb Parker, Sadie Lane feels the spark—the kind that comes from rubbing each other the wrong way. She’s yoga pants, he’s a suit. She’s a tattoo artist, he’s a straight-laced mogul. But after they accidentally co-rescue an abandoned dog from a storm, Sadie sees a vulnerable side to the seemingly invincible hottie.

you’d better be sure…
Caleb doesn’t do emotions. Growing up the underdog, he’s learned the hard way to build up an impenetrable wall. Perfect for business. Disastrous for relationships. He’s never worried about it before—not until he finally gets behind Sadie’s armor and begins to fall.

… someone is there to catch you.

Both guarded and vulnerable, Sophie and Caleb are complete opposites. Or are they? Shocked at their undeniable connection, can they ever admit to wanting more? That all depends on what they’re each willing to risk.

Excerpt

What about Suits? a voice inside her head whispered as she made her way from one window to the next in order to keep him in her sights. It was misting now and his dark hair shimmered with droplets every time he passed beneath a lamppost. Like Wes had been, he too was sure of himself. Sexy, with an edge . . .
He was everything she no longer let herself want.

Suddenly, he abruptly stopped between the day spa and the Canvas Shop. Crouching low in the now pouring rain, he stared at something she couldn’t see. “I’ve gotta go, Mom. I’ll call you back.”

“You always say that, but you’re fibbing. You’re not supposed to fib to family.”

“Uh-huh,” Sadie said dryly. “Tooth fairy, Santa Claus, and the Easter bunny . . .” And at her mother’s gasp, she gently disconnected, squelching a wince because she’d most definitely pay for that later. Her mom had a lot of talents, and one of them was being able to hold a grudge for a hundred years.

Sadie had a few talents herself, such as not sleeping at night and enjoying chocolate just a little too much. And okay, so she also was talented at drinking tequila, preferably in the form of a frosty lime margarita.

Slipping her phone into her back pocket, she went back to window-gazing to see what Suits was up to. He was still balanced on the balls of his feet, the wind and now rain pummeling his back, seemingly unnoticed.
What the actual hell?

She knew a few things about him. Such as the fact that he had lean muscles everywhere you might want a man to have lean muscles, and that women tended to fall over themselves when he smiled. His eyes were a beautiful caramel, with flecks of gold that sparkled when he laughed. He was some sort of tech genius and used to work at a government think tank. He’d invented a bunch of stuff including a series of apps that he and his business partner had sold to Google. More recently the two of them had created a way of getting meds and medical care into remote developing nations via unmanned drones. He was innovative and inventive on a large scale, smart, charismatic . . .

Oh, and there was one more thing—he and Sadie rubbed each other the wrong way by just breathing. She wasn’t even sure how it’d started, but there was an energy between the two of them she didn’t understand. At best it made her squirm. At worst, it sometimes kept her up at night.

Sadie’s best friend, Ivy, who ran The Taco Truck parked outside the building, had decided that she and Caleb Parker shared an unrequited animalistic lust and nothing could convince her she was wrong.
But it wasn’t lust, because Sadie no longer gave in to lust, animalistic or otherwise. Yes, he was fun, flirty, and charming, but she was highly suspicious of all those things. Her idea of fun, flirty, and charming meant being as sarcastic as possible. It’d done the trick too, scaring men off for years. But oddly, Suits seemed to be able to handle her sarcasm without so much as blinking an eye.

She had no idea what to make of that.

And what was he doing still all hunkered down like that in the rain? Was he hurt?

Driven by curiosity and the inability she had of letting anything go, she unlocked and opened the front door of the day spa and stuck her head out. “Hey.”

Staring at the brick wall, he didn’t turn her way or even glance over. He didn’t do anything except to say “shh.”

Oh, no. No, he did not, and she stepped outside to tell him what she thought of him and his “shh” and where he could put it. Sideways.

But with his gaze still on whatever was in front of him, he held up a hand, silently ordering her to stop where she was.

It was like he wanted her to lose her temper.

But then he was reaching out to the wall, and she realized over the noise of the storm that he was talking quietly to something.

Something that was growling at him fiercely.

“Don’t be scared,” he said softly. “I’m not going to hurt you, I promise.”

The growling got a little louder, but Suits didn’t back away, he just held eye contact with what sounded like a huge dog that Sadie still couldn’t see in the dark shadows.

“Okay,” Suits said. “Come here. Slowly.”

Sadie realized with a start that he was talking to her. “What? No way. What is it?”

“Come closer and you’ll see.”

Damn him. And damn her insatiable curiosity because she stepped out from beneath the spa’s overhang and immediately got wind and rain in her face for her efforts. Pulling out her cell phone, she accessed her flashlight app and aimed it at the wall.

“Don’t,” he said, wrapping his hand around her wrist, bringing the phone down to her side. “You’ll scare it.”

“Better that than getting eaten.” She shrugged off his warm hand but went still when the growling upped a notch.

“I think it’s hurt,” Suits said. “Come here, baby,” he coaxed gently. “Let me see.”

Sadie bet that voice worked for him in the bedroom, but no way would it work here. And yet . . . the matted, drenched shadow scooted away from the wall, not nearly as large as she’d thought. Not a young puppy but not a grown dog either.Its tan-colored body was way too skinny, and black eyes stared out from a black face. “Aw, looks like a young oversize pug,” she murmured.

Suits shook his head. “Too big for a pug. It’s probably got some bullmastiff in it though.”

A skin-and-bones bullmastiff with only three legs, Sadie realized as it shifted closer, and her entire heart melted. “Oh my God.” Moving toward it now without hesitation, she got only a few steps before the dog scrambled to escape her approach like a cat on linoleum, heading right at Suits.

With a surprised grunt, he fell to his ass on the wet cobblestones. “Okay,” he said, hands up, backing up on those fine butt cheeks as if suddenly terrified of the dog trying to get into his lap. “Okay, see? You’re safe now, right? Stay. Stay and sit.”

The dog didn’t stay. Or sit, for that matter. Instead, it leaned on Suits’s bent legs, leaving dirty beige fur sticking to his pants.

He sucked in a breath and seemed to hold it. “I’d really like to be your person, but I can’t.”

“Arf!” Translation: Too late, buddy, you’re totally my person.

“No, you don’t understand,” Suits said. “I literally can’t.”

Undeterred by this news, the dog continued to huddle close to his new human, even as that human shifted back, trying to avoid further contact.

Finally, Suits lifted his head and looked at Sadie. “Help.”

Fascinated by this unexpected show of weakness in the man who’d always come off as invincible, she shook her head. “I think it thinks you’re its mama.”

He glanced around the courtyard as if to see who the dog might belong to, but there was no one.

“Arf!” the dog repeated and sat on Suits’s foot
.
“Oh, I hear you, and we’re going to help you, I promise.”

“I know you must mean you and the mouse in your pocket because we”—Sadie gestured with a finger between him and herself—“are most definitely not a we.”

Ignoring that, he got to his feet, lifting his hands at the dog, giving the universal gesture for stay. But the minute Suits raised his hands, the dog squeaked in terror and leapt back as if he’d been shoved. Off-balance with only three legs, it fell to its back, exposing its underbelly and the fact that it was a she.

Sadie didn’t easily attach. To anything. But right then and there, she fell in love with her. Not partially, but all the way in love, because neglected and mistreated meant they were soul mates. “I’m going to kill her owner.”

“Not if I get to them first.” Suits’s eyes flashed absolute fury, though his voice remained calm as he once again squatted low, trying to get his six-foot-plus frame as nonthreateningly small as he could. “It’s okay, baby,” he crooned softly. “We’re together now, for better or worse, even if you’re going to kill me.”

“What are you talking about?” Sadie asked. “She wouldn’t hurt a damn fly, much less kill you.”

Proving that, the dog slowly once again scooted toward Suits, head down, her hind end a little wiggly as she crawled close, trying to get into his lap.

The sweet hope of it had Sadie’s heart pretty much exploding in her chest.

With a sigh, Suits wrapped his arms around the dog and hugged her close. In response, the cutie-pie set her oversize head on his broad chest.

“Yeah, that’s some killer,” Sadie said, shoving her wet hair from her face.

“I’m allergic.”

Suits said this so nonchalantly that she blinked. “Is that some sort of a euphemism for ‘I hate dogs’?”

“No,” he said. “Reach into my front left pocket.”

She snorted. “You’re kidding me, right? Does anyone actually fall for that?”

“If I pass out, you’ll need my keys to play Nurse Nightingale.”

She paused, staring at his face. She saw no sign that he was teasing—very unusual for the charming, easygoing guy she knew him to be.

“I’m trusting you to not let me die,” he said as if he was discussing the weather.

“This isn’t funny.”

He met her gaze, his own more serious than she’d ever seen him. “If I don’t make it, promise me you’ll at least make up something really good for my funeral, okay? Like, I died heroically saving your sexy ass, and not because a sweet dog like this one hugged me.”

“Okay,” she said slowly, “I’m starting to think you’re really not joking.”

“I never joke about dying.”

My Thoughts

Another cute installment in the Heartbreaker Bay Series!

Both Caleb and Sadie are interesting well thought out characters. I admit that I liked Caleb a lot…much more than I did Sadie. He was thoughtful and kind, smart and sexy…who wouldn’t love him?

Sadie was likable but also a bit predicable and annoying. She seemed more immature and stubborn than I would have liked…but by the end of the book, we finally saw some growth to her character.

Lollipop was adorable! Books with animals are always better!! And as usual, I loved getting a peek back into the lives of our friends from the previous books in the series.

Though perhaps not the strongest edition to this series, Playing for Keeps was definitely enjoyable and a worthwhile read!

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About Jill Shalvis

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s sexy contemporary and award-winning books wherever romances are sold and click on the blog button above for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.

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I am so excited that GIVE ME FEVER by Jasmine & Arielle Lockhart is available now and that I get to share the news!
If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Authors Jasmine & Arielle Lockhart, be sure to check out all the details below.
This blitz also includes a giveaway for a $500 Amazon GC prize and an ARC of GIVE ME FEVER, courtesy of Jasmine & Arielle. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.


About GIVE ME FEVER

Title: GIVE ME FEVER 
Author: Jasmine & Arielle Lockhart
Pub. Date: January 15, 2019
Publisher: Somewhere On A Beach Publishing
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 278
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonB&N

Hotter than a fever…
Jackson Noveau left behind his Cajun roots to make a better life for him and his new bride in New York City. But his drive for success drove the love of his life away. Six years later, Jackson has the opportunity to take his hot sauce company global. All he has to do is buy back the family farm. Unfortunately, the new owner isn’t impressed by his handsome offer.



From first love to fiery business rival…
Jessa fled home to the little bayou town of Fever, Louisiana six years ago, expecting Jackson to chase after her. He never did. Now he’s back and she has something he wants—the farm she secretly bought. She has no intentions of letting go of the home she loves, or the one-of-a-kind peppers necessary for the production of Jackson’s hot sauce. At least not until she learns Jackson holds the key to something she wants—the divorce she believed they finalized years ago.


What’s yours is mine…
The two strike a deal where winner takes all. If Jessa can go a week without succumbing to the spark clearly still between them, Jackson will sign the divorce papers. If not, Jackson gets the farm. As the ex-flames spend the week together, things smolder hotter than a fever, but with only one winner, someone is sure to get burnt.

Excerpt
The primal part of him argued that things weren’t complicated. That Jessa was still his. And that realization struck deep. “If you want my touch so badly, I’d be happy to grant your wish. I’m thinking a nice start would be my tongue between your—”

Her reflexes were no joke. Before he could finish his sentence, Jackson found himself covered in wine. Again.

He grabbed his napkin and did his best to blot up the red liquid coursing down his face. “If you actually finished a glass of that stuff without throwing it on me, you might enjoy my company a little more.”

“Even piss-ass drunk, I wouldn’t let you do what you were about to suggest.” She sounded truly appalled by his comment. Like he hadn’t done that on this very table once upon a time. “Don’t act like you don’t still want me, Jessalynn.”

“Ha! You are so full of yourself. No, I don’t still want you, Jackson. As you can see, I want nothing more than you to be out of my house and out of my life.”

His jaw twitched. “Feelings aren’t a light switch, Jessalynn. You can’t just turn them off. Did you forget how you used to respond to my touch? To me? How I could light you on fire? Should I remind you?”

“The only feeling I have for you now is disgust.”

“Did you also forget how well I know you? I can tell when you’re lying.”

She put her hands on her hips and stuck her chest out. “I’m not lying, Jackson.”

“Prove it.”

“I don’t have to prove anything to you. There’s nothing in it for me.”

An idea hit him. “What if there was?”

Jessa looked at him sideways. “What?”

“Since you’re so sure that you don’t have feelings for me anymore, then prove it. If you can resist me for a week, I will sign the divorce papers, leave you the farm, and be out of your life.” A week was pushing his deadline, but he’d make it work.

“You think I can’t go a week without tearing off my clothes and throwing myself at you?” She laughed so hard she began holding her stomach and wiping her eyes.

“If you think it’s that easy, you’ve got nothing to lose.”

Her face sobered. “I’m not crazy enough to sign on for spending a week with you.”

“I’m not going anywhere, chéri. This way, no matter what, I’ll be gone in a week. Otherwise, I’ll leave when I’m good and ready.”

Jessalynn grumbled and her eyes narrowed. “So, if I can make it a week without sleeping with you, you’ll sign the papers and give up on this nonsense about buying the farm?”

He nodded, trying not to smile too wide.

“There must be rules.” She twirled the stem of her empty wine glass between her fingers. “No getting me drunk. I have to be sober for it to count.”

“That’s fair. I don’t need you impaired to get you turned on.”

She rolled her eyes. “And you can’t go around shirtless. Fully clothed, all week.”

“No dice. I’ll keep my pants on, since you don’t trust yourself not to jump my bones if I don’t, but it’s damn near 100 degrees in the daytime around here. You’re not going to force me to wear a shirt the whole time.”

“Fine.”

“I have some conditions of my own.”

“Like what?”

“You agree to let me stay here. All week. I don’t expect

you to let me sleep in your bed, but for me to have a fighting chance, proximity is a must.”

“No.”

He threw his head back and wiped his hand down his face. “Come on, Jessalynn. Bend a little.”

With any luck at all, he’d have her bending all kinds of ways before week’s end.

“Whatever. You stay out of my bedroom, though.”

“Alright, but you have to promise not to avoid me during the daytime.”

“I have work to do, Jackson. This farm doesn’t run itself.”

“I think I know a thing or two about farm work. I’ll pitch in.”

Jessalynn grabbed the wine and drank from the bottle. Then she took a long breath. “Anything else?”

“No getting off without me.”

“Excuse me?”

“I don’t want you taking the edge off. You’re going to be

begging me to put my mouth and hands on you in no time. Can’t let you cheat by getting off on your own.”

She pushed her chair back and stood. “It’s only a week. I’m not a guy. I’ll survive. Especially if it means getting rid of you once and for all.”

After making her way around the table, she stuck her hand out. “We have a deal.”

He stared at her hand for a beat, then glanced up at her. “Don’t you want to know what happens if you lose?”

“I’m not going to lose.”


About Jasmine and Arielle:
Jasmine and Arielle Lockhart were born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, in a house overflowing with books, art, and poetry scrawled on scraps of paper by the hands of their father and mother. The sisters spent their childhood summers setting crawdad traps and picking peaches from the three-hundred-year-old tree on their family’s plantation. On stormy nights when the power would go out in the Antebellum home, Arielle would distract her younger sister by telling her stories. It never took long before Jasmine’s fear of the dark was forgotten and she was butting in with her own ideas of how the story should go.
In 2017, over mint julep’s on the plantation’s ivy-laden porch, Jasmine and Arielle came up with the crazy idea to co-write a romance novel. A year and many heated debates later, the first book in the Fever series was complete.

 When she’s not nagging her sister to add more kissing scenes to their books, Jasmine is a world-traveler, living between New Orleans and Abu Dhabi in the Middle East.

Arielle currently resides on the plantation, where she spends her days writing and convincing Grammy Dee that Annabelle, the housekeeper she hired three years ago, is not the reincarnation of the young woman who hung herself in the peach tree after her fiancé failed to return from war. 

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Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s) and then link up at the host’s site: The True Book Addict.

This boy! Piper loves to climb inside my husbands pants whenever he changes clothes!! LOL

May also be linking up at: Blog Paws | Create With Joy | Cat blogosphere | Pet Parade | Thankful Thursday | Feline Friday | CaturdayArt

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About False Hope Title: False Hope
Series: False #2
Author: Meli Raine
Publisher: Prosaic Press, Inc.
Publication date: December 10th 2018
Target Audience: Adult
Genres: Romance, Suspense
Find It: Goodreads

She thinks she’s fooled me. But I’ve known all along.

Almost.

Lily is hiding something, a secret so big, she came out of a year-long coma and her first instinct was to lie.

Who does that? Someone who is afraid. No—not afraid.

Terrified. And it’s my job to take that fear away.

My partner and I have spent countless man-hours hunting down the cold-blooded killer who did this to her. Meanwhile, Lily’s spent her waking hours recovering. Getting stronger. Getting smarter.

Staying beautiful.

Never get involved emotionally. That’s my dictate. Never get attached.

When you realize you’re caught in a triangle, it turns out there is no exit.

Crossing a line is easy. Holding a line takes strength.

Lily’s shooter knows that she’s my weakness.

One I have to get back.

No matter what it takes.

EXCERPT

If unicorns had a flavor, it would taste like kissing Lily.

Her essence is still on the tip of my tongue as I watch the layered response Lily has mastered. Observe her as that beautiful mind works to line all the pieces up and execute the subterfuge, living in two selves, one ever vigilant, one struggling to stay quiet.

For months now, I’ve felt it. Sensed it.

Now I can taste it, too. Lies have a flavor.

And God help me, I want more of the deliciousness of Lily.

But those lies come with an aftertaste, a bitter acrimony that has an overriding power.

My own words ring in the air like a gong as I wait: When were you going to tell me you’ve been faking the amnesia, Lily? Before or after I sleep with you?

“Sleep with me?” she squeaks, the words catching me off guard. I assumed she’d deny the lying.

Not talk about my fantasies.

“You want to talk about that?” I choke out, amused and sickened. “You’ve been lying to me for close to a year and all you want to talk about is sleeping with me?”

“You brought it up!”

She’s got me there.

“How about this fake amnesia bullshit, Lily? How about we talk about that before we discuss getting sweet between the sheets?”

She blushes.

I get hard.

This—this is why I should have recused myself from this damned assignment long ago. I knew this day would come. I knew I’d have to call her on the lying.

Worse than that—I knew I wouldn’t be able to help myself.

GIVEAWAY!

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About Meli Raine

Meli Raine writes romantic suspense with hot bikers, intense undercover DEA agents, bad boys turned good, and Special Ops heroes — and the women who love them. Meli rode her first motorcycle when she was five years old, but she played in the ocean long before that. She lives in New England with her family.

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Today Luna Kayne and Rockstar Book Tours are revealing the cover and an exclusive content for KILL CODE, the first book in her new Romantic Suspense Series which releases on January 22, 2019! Check out the awesome cover and enter the giveaway!

The Cover and details Title: Kill Code
Author: Luna Kayne
Publisher: Kayne Publishing
Publication date: January 22, 2019
Target Audience: Adult
Length: 317
Format: eBook, Paperback
Find It: Goodreads
Buy It: Amazon

HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO TO PROTECT THE ONES YOU LOVE?

THEN
Ten years ago, a covert government operation gone wrong separated Jack from Jessa, the girl he promised he would never leave.

NOW
Jack's special forces team receives a tip, leading them to a remote farmhouse in search of a group of hackers led by the elusive Zane who work for the same person he holds responsible for Jessa’s death, ten years earlier.

Past and present collide as what was once lost is now standing in front of him and appears to be working for the very evil he is trying to end.

But is everything as it seems as secrets begin to unravel and pieces are put back in their proper places?

And will the last missing piece, the answer to all of their problems, be found in time?

*** Due to some dark and explicit themes in this book, it is recommended for mature audiences only. ***

* Kill Code is the first book in a trilogy.

Excerpt

Prologue: 10 years ago

– Jack –

“Wake up, Jack. We’re moving out. Your assignment is done.”

My commanding officer barks his orders out, jolting me awake. I open my eyes and try to focus as the dawn barely lights the room around me.

“What do you mean, done? Last night we were waiting on the search warrants. We had the whole family. It was going down… today.” Propping myself up on my elbows, I shake my head, trying to will myself to catch up.

Going over the last few days in my head, this doesn’t make sense. I’ve been on the ground with my unit for months now working special ops undercover with local law enforcement on a federal level, collecting whatever evidence we could and rounding up witnesses. Everything finally began to snowball together three days ago.

First one witness came forward, then a second, then the third came in with solid proof. With Port Thomas being a smaller city nestled near the coast in Oregon, law enforcement is always underfunded so they were thankful for the additional manpower, as long as we didn’t step on too many toes.

We had our mission in place for today, but this wasn’t how it was supposed to go.

“It blew up. Shit went down a few hours ago. Apparently, they knew we were coming. The Sparr family is gone. All of the evidence against them is now speculative. Four witnesses are dead. Another two are missing.” Then, as he opens his mouth, I see the hesitation in his eyes as his body physically braces for a fight.

“Jack.” My commander starts then stops, carefully considering his words with a frustrating pause. “It’s Jessa. Both her and her brother’s bodies are missing.”

“What do you mean, missing?” Then the weight of his words hits me. “Wait. What do you mean, bodies?” I bolt out of bed onto shaky legs as I feel my world begin to crumble piece by piece.

He chose his words carefully. She isn’t missing.

Her body is missing.

“Her family was in a car accident just outside of town at the bridge. It looks like they went over the cliff. Her parents’ bodies were recovered from the ravine along with the car. We don’t know yet if it’s related but three other people from the company are dead as well. It was a quick job.” He glances around my area as I feel panic begin to flow through my veins.

“Maybe Jessa and Travis weren’t in the car. Did you check their house?” I counter in a desperate attempt to think of something they haven’t yet.

Thoughts quickly come to me. I just saw both Jessa and Travis yesterday. We were all talking about how fast our high school grad is coming up in a few months. For siblings, they are almost inseparable. Twins who look nothing alike but finished each others sentences at every turn.

When I started this undercover op, six months ago, I never expected to meet someone like Jessa. I was just a kid myself at 23 and I was five years older than her and her brother. But I fit into their senior year in high school. No one knew my secret.

Everything about Jessa just fit for me.

And now they are both missing.

“We’ve been to the house and the hospital. We retrieved the car an hour ago. The back side window was broken out from the inside. We found her school bag in the back seat. And before you ask, we already have over half the team in on the search. We’ve been working with the local guys and they have all of her information. We’re checking the river banks as well as the water. Anyone making it out will be found, unless…” His voice trails off in realization that he said too much, but I pick up where he left off.

“Unless they got pulled under and sucked down the rapids.” I feel my empty stomach clench tight.

His eyes stay locked on me as I pause to gather my thoughts then, without pretense, my body involuntarily spins to get dressed and go after Jessa and that’s when I notice them.

Two men standing behind my commanding officer.

“Look, Jack. We know you and Jessa became close but you need to let the team handle it. Finding her and her brother is their priority while we’re still here. Our mission still stands though and your orders are to pack up and let them do their job.” His attempt at pacifying me is beginning to speak to a part of me that I don’t want to show as the way he trivializes my feelings for her ignites my fight or flight reflexes.

We didn’t become close.

She was it.

She was everything.

She was mine and after the arrests were made, I was coming for her. I was going to come clean about everything. I was going to tell her I was undercover and older than she thought I was. I was going to ask her to forgive my secrets and I was going to tell her I loved her.

Now she’s gone.

Giveaway Details:
3 winners will win an eBook of KILL CODE,
International.
About Luna Kayne

Luna Kayne is a multi-published author in the romance and erotica genres. Her creative works include novels, novelettes and a book of poetry and prose.
Within the romance genre, her books and short stories are also listed under suspense, paranormal, BDSM and contemporary.
The woman behind Luna Kayne’s pen name has been writing for online publications since 2005. She writes from her home on an acreage near Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

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Jennifer Woodhull and Rockstar Book Tours are revealing the cover and an exclusive content for THE DATING ALTERNATIVE, her New Adult Contemporary Romance which releases December 26, 2018! Check out the awesome cover and enter the giveaway!
On to the reveal!
 
About The Dating Alternative Title: The Dating Alternative
Author: Jennifer Woodhull
Publication date: December 26, 2018
Target Audience: New Adult
Genres: Romance
Length: 288
Find It: Goodreads
Buy It: Amazon

Brie picked the wrong guy—gave him the wrong finger.

When her fiance walks out three weeks before their wedding, she slowly picks up the pieces with the help of her friends. A serial monogamist, she’s not quite
ready to start dating again. There are some things she misses about having a boyfriend, though. Her friends convince her to try something more casual.
Random hookups have never been her thing. When a guy she has flirted with for a while offers his services to solve her dilemma, she can’t help but be
intrigued. Now she’s trying to keep things casual, but when she’s wrapped in his arms, it’s hard to remember she’s not supposed to be falling for him.

Max has had a few hookups since he split with his last girlfriend. Lately, though, he feels like something is missing. He has crushed on the girl he
affectionately calls Cheese for years, but the timing was never right. When he finds out they’re finally single at the same time, he is poised to make his
move. Unfortunately, she’s only looking for something physical. Of course, Max is happy to oblige, but the more time they spend together, the more certain he
becomes that she’s the perfect girl for him.

He pulls out all the stops, and just when he’s about to make his move from the friends-with-benefits zone to serious dating, Brie completely ghosts on him.
Now he has to figure out if she has really walked away, or if something more serious is keeping him from the girl of his dreams.

Funny, sexy, and satisfying, The Dating Alternative is a standalone new adult/contemporary romance.

Chapter 1 Excerpt – Sabrina
As I lay on the bed, wearing my ex-fiancé’s t-shirt and remembering the night he left me six months ago, I realize that tears are slipping silently down my cheeks.
I’ve done reasonably well, too. The first week, I was catatonic. The first month, I was practically a zombie. In those days, even showering on my day off had been a challenge. Within a couple of months, though, I was doing better. By the ninety-day mark, I could be mistaken for someone who hadn’t been virtually left at the altar.
Now, lying on the bed six months after Grant had thrown away our life together, I was almost indiscernible from a normal girl. Looking at me most days, you would never know that my life had been ripped apart by an exotic Olympian named Isabel and my former fiancé, Grant.
I sit up, realizing how far I’d come since that night. I put the back of my hand up to one cheek, then the other. No more. That asshole doesn’t get another single tear from me. Control-G-Delete.
Giveaway

5 lucky winners will receive an finished copy of THE DATING ALTERNATIVE, US Only.

About Jennifer Woodhull

Jennifer Woodhull is based in the Southern United States, spending time in her second home of England, and traveling as often as she can. Her love of travel permeates her work, and her characters often find themselves exploring new and foreign surroundings.
A keen observer of human behavior, Jennifer often draws inspiration from something as simple as a fleeting connection, or the glimpse of a unique trait or characteristic. Her favorite place to write is on airplanes.
“The drone of the engine, the scores of people, all traveling to something or from something, and being disconnected from digital distractions are a combination that provide the perfect place to write,” she says. “If you see a woman in seat 9F who is balancing her Macbook on her lap because it’s time to close your tray table,
please have patience. I’m just trying to finish one more sentence.”
Join Jennifer’s Newsletter!

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Vicki Vass Guest Post – My Eclectic Reading List

I’d like to thank Melissa for hosting me today. I am very excited to be here and I love the word “eclectic.” I always describe my music playlist as eclectic as it ranges from country to folk to pop to rock and back again. I think of my reading list the same way, a seemingly unconnected variety of choices from fiction to nonfiction back to fiction.

I thought I’d share with you some of what I’ve read recently or want to read. My to-be read bookshelf at home stretches three shelves and then there is a growing pile on my nightstand. I recently finished If the Creek Don’t Rise by Leah Weiss. It is the story of a backwoods Appalachian girl. I was hooked from the very first sentence and enjoyed this glimpse into mountain life. My husband and I moved to Greenville, South Carolina, last year and are at the foothills of the Blue Ridge.

From there I moved on to the new John Grisham book, The Reckoning, which I am mid-way through and enjoying though it may not be quite as suspenseful as his other novels.

After a visit to the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, I picked up Mrs. Lee and Mrs. Gray based on recommendations from some of my dinner companions. It is an accounting of the general’s wife’s long relationship with a slave. I have not started it yet but am looking forward to it as I tend to be a large fan of historical fiction.

Also on my bookshelf are some books meant for research including Brilliance and Fire: A Biography of Diamonds; the Last Castle about the Biltmore Estate; the Salem Witch Trials and A Lifelong Passion about Czar Nicholas and his wife Alexandra. I also have an account of the Trail of Tears, the forced march of the Cherokee from North Carolina to the west. All these subjects are intriguing to me and find their way into various plots of my cozy mysteries. My Gem Hunter seeks rare stones and has a Russian background and my witch cat mysteries are set in Asheville, North Carolina, near the Biltmore Estate.

Other books on my shelf include a variety of selections from the recent PBS Great American Reads survey and represent novels I have never read including One Hundred Years of Solitude, Snow Falling on Cedars and Ready Player One. I purchased these books as I visit resale shops, book fairs and antique stores. They sit on my shelf until I am ready to crack their spine.

I’ve tried to organize my to-read shelf but haven’t quite devised a plan. As I obtain more books, I move others from my nightstand to the shelf waiting their turn. Now the shelves are crowded and there is no room for more. So we ordered more bookshelves for our family room and intent to fill it with a wall of books similar to the wall in my office.

What are you reading? How do you organize your books? How do you decide what to read next?

About Dark Corner Title: Dark Corner
Series: A Witch Cat Mystery #2
Author: Vicki Vass
Publisher: Tedeschi Publishing
Publication date: October 9, 2018
Target Audience: Adult
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Length: 109
Find It: Goodreads
Buy It: Amazon

Evil has awoken in Asheville, North Carolina, and Terra Rowan must prepare the Ladies of the Biltmore Society for battle. With her familiar, Pixel, a crooked leg fluffy orange cat, and her apprentice Abigail Oakhaven, a stubborn teenage girl with a bloodline dating back to the beginning of time, she begins their journey. The witch hunters have come to the Appalachian Mountains in search of the last witch of Salem. The magic of the mountains can no longer protect her and her coven. She must travel to the one place on earth that holds the secret to save mankind – Dark Corner.

Combining elements from different cultures, Appalachian folklore, Celtic legends, Native American mysticism, Dark Corner continues its new witch mythology while staying true to the realm of cozy mystery.

Terra Rowan is a witch trapped between worlds and lost in time.

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Vicki Vass

Vicki Vass traded in her reporter’s notebook to pursue her passion of writing cozy mysteries. Her Antique Hunter series was a finalist in the 2016 Mystery & Mayhem contest. Bloodline is the first book in the Witch Cat Mystery series.

Vicki has written more than 1,400 stories for the Chicago Tribune as well as other commercial publications including Home & Away, the Lutheran and Woman’s World. Her science fiction novel, The Lexicon, draws on her experience in Sudan while writing about the ongoing civil war for World Relief.

She lives in the Chicago area with her husband, writer and musician Brian Tedeschi, son Tony, Australian shepherd Bandit, kittens Terra and Pixel, seven koi and Gary the turtle.

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