REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Chased by Love by Melissa Foster

Discover the man behind the music…Boone Stryker

 

CHASED BY LOVE
Love in Bloom: The Ryders #3
Melissa Foster
Releasing Aug 17th, 2016
World Literary Press

 

Actress Trish Ryder takes her job seriously and has no time for those who don’t. When she’s awarded a major role in a new movie featuring America’s hottest rock star, Boone Stryker, she’s beyond excited. The six-two, tattooed hunk of burning desire is known for his dedication to his craft—but when he ditches their first meeting, she begins to wonder if he’s just another rocker with a great PR team.

Sex, booze, women, and music pretty much sum up Boone Stryker’s private world. He’s coasted through life playing by his own rules with plenty of people willing to cover his tracks, and he’s not likely to change—until he meets a woman who refuses to give him the time of day, much less anything more.

Sparks fly from the first moment Trish and Boone meet—Tensions run hot and desire runs hotter when they’re trapped together on a remote location with no place to hide. Will sparks ignite, or will a hurricane douse the flames?

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Melissa
Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling
and award-winning author. She writes sexy and heartwarming contemporary
romance, new adult romance, and women’s fiction with emotionally compelling
characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Melissa’s
emotional journeys are lovingly erotic, perfect beach reads, and always family
oriented. 

 

 

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Sarah’s Review:

Thanks to Melissa Foster and Tasty Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review this continuing series by one of my favorite authors!  I am always amazed at the strong characters that Melissa writes.  These characters get better with each book.

When famous actress Trish Ryder gets to work with Boone Stryker, Trish is excited to work with someone that she has a crush on and wanted to work with. Trish begins to question whether Boone will damage the current movie that they are working on when he misses meetings and can’t get the part down that he needs to.  When the director send Trish and Boone to the next set to spend 10 days together and get Boone in the right frame of mind to pull this performance off, Trish decides that she will be able to get Boone on track and be able to pull the part together.

As Trish begins to work with Boone, she begins to realize that there is something that is preventing Boone from connecting with his character.  Trish is determined to make that discovery.  In doing so, she discovers that Boone is not the man that he is portrayed as in the media.  As Boone lets Trish into his world, Boone discovers how important it is to have someone there for him and he doesn’t realize how much he needed someone that he could talk to.

I have to say that is this at the top of my favorite books that Melissa has written.  Melissa addressed a serious topic and handled it with respect.  There is a reason that Melissa is my go-to author when I need to read!

 

 

REVIEW: Dirty Work by Chelle Bliss & Brenda Rothert

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DIRTY WORK by Chelle Bliss & Brenda Rothert is now live!
A brand new romantic standalone you won’t want to miss!
Politics have never been so dirty…
Purchase it here:

Amazon US – amzn.to/29urE3V

Paperback – amzn.to/29hWpMG

iBooks – bit.ly/DirtyWorkiBooks

Nook – bit.ly/DirtyWorkBN

Kobo – bit.ly/DirtyWorkKobo

GooglePlay – bit.ly/DirtyWorkGP

Amazon UK – amazon.co.uk/dp/B01EXZU8OK

Amazon CA – amazon.ca/dp/B01EXZU8OK

Amazon AU – amazon.com.au/dp/B01EXZU8OK

BLURB:

From authors Chelle Bliss and Brenda Rothert comes a smoldering standalone enemies to lovers romance that will, ahem…check all your boxes.
Reagan
I hate him. Jude Titan is everything that’s wrong with the male sex: cocky, domineering and loaded with swagger. Oh, and did I mention he’s a Republican? Yeah, the guy’s so conservative he leans to the right when walking. And lucky me, I’m running against him for Senate. But I’ve got plenty of fight in me. A golden boy war hero opponent with a smile that leaves melted panties in its wake? Bring. It. On.
Jude

Damn, she’s sexy. Reagan Preston intrigues me from the moment I lay eyes on her. And speaking of laying…I want between those thighs. But I want to make her burn for me first. Every debate and stolen moment is foreplay for us. She claims she hates me, but her body tells a different story. I plan to win this election, but I also want to win the sharp, fiery Democrat who captures my attention like no woman ever has. Politics is filthy, just like all the things I want to do to Reagan Preston.

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My Review
I am obsessed with all things politics.  Love every bit of it, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  A political romance by one of my favorites? Well, that’s the icing on the cake!
Reagan and Jude are the epitome of opposites attract. Different sides of the isle, different backgrounds, one from a powerful political  family, one a war hero. I mean, what could go right with these two?
The chemistry between them was electric. Jude and Reagan were the perfect balance for each other. And underneath what the public sees, are two people who really aren’t that different. They want to make a difference and both truly believe in their causes.
Jude’s cockiness was endearing and Reagan’s hard to get was perfect.
I think what I loved most about this book, aside from the story, was the fact that the ideology didn’t overpower the story.  Yes, it’s a political romance, but Fox News has nothing on these two being fair and balanced. They did it right. Add to it a dash of political mudslinging and October surprises and you have one hell of a story.
Even if you abhor politics and avoid it like the plague you need to read this book.
I give Dirty Work 5 electoral kisses

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Welcoming the Bad Boy by Annie Rains

Griffin is going to need all his old tricks to unleash her wild side.

 

WELCOMING THE BAD BOY
Hero’s Welcome #3
Annie Rains
Releasing August 2nd, 2016
Loveswept

 

 
From the bestselling author of Welcome to Forever (“Full of heart and emotion!”—Lori Wilde) comes a sweet, sexy novel about breaking all the rules. In Seaside, North Carolina, the boys on the base are heroes—but that doesn’t mean they’re always well-behaved.
 
As a preacher’s daughter, Valerie Hunt only dates the very respectable, very boring men who meet her father’s strict standards. In private, however, she leads a double life as a romance writer of steamy stories about the least respectable sorts of men. Valerie has always kept her hottest fantasies separate from her real life, but when she nearly runs a hot-blooded biker off the road, the lines begin to blur.
Even though Valerie almost killed him, Griffin Black can’t be angry after he learns the reason for her distracted driving: an unruly puppy belonging to her ailing friend. As a member of the military police K-9 unit, Griffin insists on training the dog himself. But he soon wonders how he’s ever going to stay disciplined around the most alluring, down-to-earth, and totally unattainable woman he’s ever met. Valerie is the ultimate good girl. And Griffin is going to need all his old tricks to unleash her wild side.
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& N
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Annie Rains is a contemporary romance author who writes small town love stories set in fictional towns on the coast of North Carolina. Raised in one of America’s largest military communities, Annie often features heroes who fight for their countries, while also fighting for a place to call home and a good woman to love. When Annie isn’t writing, she’s spending time with her husband and 3 children, or reading a book by one of her favorite authors.
Looking for more Hero’s?


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Sarah’s Review

Thank you to Tasty Book Tours and Annie Rains to continue to read this amazing story.  I have loved this series from the beginning as I LOVE LOVE LOVE Military Romances.

I have like Val from the beginning.  She is spunky and loves her friends while being a preacher’s daughter.  I loved finding out that she was a romance author.   It definitely fit her character!

Griffin was another character I liked when he made appearances in the other books.  Military and a K-9 trainer?  YES PLEASE!

The chemistry between these two was amazing to read and I love how Val handled her Preacher father when he found out she wrote Romance!

I can’t wait to read more from this author!

Review: Lifes a Beach by Jamie Schmidt

lifes a beachsassysynopsis4

When Amelia Parker arrives in Maui, newly single and unemployed, she’s shocked to discover the resort she booked is actually a ramshackle little beachside hotel. At least the scenery is easy on the eyes—as is the toned, laid-back snorkel instructor, “Dude.” After two weeks of sun, serenity, and mind-blowing sex, she even accepts a job as the hotel’s concierge. But what Amelia really wants is to relaunch the place completely. And that means convincing the absentee Wall Street billionaire owner, Samuel Kincaide, to take a chance on her.

Samuel has a plan, too: selling off every last reminder of his former life and chilling all day, every day as his slacker altar ego . . . Dude. He loves his romps in the ocean, and under the sheets, with the feisty Amelia. If she discovers his true identity, her boundless enthusiasm and innovative business plan will seriously diminish his hammock time. But when Amelia runs into real trouble on the island, he’ll put everything on the line to keep her safe. He just hopes that the woman who’s falling for Dude will feel the same about Samuel.
 

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Amazon : B&N

sassyauthorinfo

(All information obtained from authors website)

Jamie Kleinkauf-Schmidt has over thirty short stories published in small press and ezines. She 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), serving as the PRO liaison for her local chapter Connecticut Romance Writers of America (CTRWA).

When not writing, Jamie relaxes with a mug of hot tea and knits or makes beaded jewelry. She sells her handcrafted items at The Dudley Farm during the summer. A voracious reader, Jamie has a Kindle and is not afraid to use it.

 

sassyreview

Thank you to Random House Loveswept and Netgalley for providing us with a copy of this book so that we could bring you this review.

With the 1 year anniversary of my own trip to Hawaii coming up tomorrow it was great to feel like I was once again in that beautiful beach state. I could totally connect with Amelia and how she totally falls in love with the area. I could easily see myself there as well and seeing things through her eyes. Now that being said not everything that happens to her during her trip is good, but its a chance to find happiness when she wasn’t looking for it. Dude is such a fun character and his laid back attitude is wonderful. It also speaks a lot to me about how when someone wants to change the way their life is heading they can. I love Amelia’s aunt and can’t wait to see what else happens in this series.

I give this book 4 tropical kisses..

Happy Reading… Adri

Review: The Heat is On by Katie Rose

the heat is onsassysynopsis4

When veteran catcher Connor Jackson gets traded to the New Jersey Sonics, he welcomes the opportunity to possibly cap his career with a World Series ring in his home state. But there’s another reason Connor is glad things have come full circle. In pursuit of hardball glory, he left behind his college sweetheart, the one girl he could never forget. Seeing her again stirs up long-lost desires . . . and this time, he’s determined not to strike out.

A divorced mother of four, Tracy Coleman no longer aspires to gossip-mag glam—but she’ll make an exception for a date with Connor. Their chemistry is hotter than ever, and being alone with him is more seductive than she anticipated. Who could blame her for leaving out a little detail like the kids? Now all she has to do is come clean and convince the man of her dreams that they—Connor, Tracy, and her children—have a future together.

 

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Amazon : B&N

 

sassyauthorinfo

(All information obtained from authors website)

katie roseColleen is the bestselling author of twelve historical romance novels published under the names Colleen Quinn and Katie Rose. She is the recipient of the Romantic Times Achievement Award, and the Colorado Romance Writer’s award, as well as the Doug Perry award for excellence in journalism. A graduate of Temple University with a BA in Communications, Colleen lives on a lake in Medford Lakes, New Jersey, and is hard at work on her next novel.

 

 

 

sassyreview

First of all a big thank you to Random House Loveswept and NetGalley for providing us with a copy of this book so that we could bring you this review.

I sometimes get so caught up in reading that I totally forget to post my reviews of books that I really enjoy… but lucky for me in this case its a baseball book and we are in the middle of the season so I guess its a great time to post the review. So I ask for your forgiveness if this is a shorter than normal review as I have read about 17 books since I read this one and I am a little rusty on all the details. I know that I always enjoy a book with the New Jersey Sonics, being a for Jersey girl myself. I know that I loved the fact that this was a second chance love and that the woman that she used to be is not the same. I also loved the fact that Connor grows to care for Tracy’s children very much as if they are his own and defends them and protects them from their own father as if they were his. It speaks a great deal about his character to me. He shows his growth and maturity. I don’t remember how the season ends for the Sonics in this one, but I know that it was so awesome to see them working hard for what they love.

I give this book 4 swinging kisses…

Happy Reading… Adri

Review: To Catch a Lady & A Most Delicate Pursuit by Pamela Labud

to catch a ladyAshton Blakely, the Duke of Summerton, cannot stop his aunt from meddling in his affairs. So rather than let her select a most disagreeable mate, Ashton decides to fire the first volley by holding a ball as a scheme to bag the ideal wife: a deferential girl eager to produce and raise an heir, leaving Ashton to his beloved hunting lodge and titled friends. But when Ashton falls for the one woman who isn’t willing to play his game, all his plans scatter like buckshot. Suddenly, the chase is on!

Caroline Hawkins has no interest in marriage. In fact, she has devoted her life to defending women from the indignities visited upon them by their husbands. She only chaperones her beautiful younger sister to Summerton’s ball in the hopes of saving her family from bankruptcy. She certainly doesn’t expect to catch the Duke’s eye . . . nor is she prepared for the heat that rises every time she thinks of his powerful build or his dark, tantalizing gaze. Caroline can run, but she cannot hide—for Ashton has already captured her heart.

 

a most delicate pursuitThough he’s fiercely loyal to his friends, Michael Carver has managed to avoid romantic entanglements by cultivating a reputation as a rake and a gambler. Believing himself incapable of intimacy, the Earl of Blandon avoids anything more than lighthearted flirtations or trysts with married women—which leaves more than enough time to slip out into the wilderness for a little fishing. All is well until Michael agrees, as a favor, to keep his best friend’s stubborn yet alluring sister-in-law company.

After one failed engagement, Beatrice Hawkins would rather become a spinster than risk her heart again. Her family, however, is relentless when it comes to finding her a suitable match. So when the roguish earl suggests they join forces to feign courtship and throw everyone off their scent, Beatrice only hopes the ton will take the bait. But at the hunting lodge where Michael takes her to escape prying eyes, Beatrice finds herself lured in by the unexpected charms of a man who has so much love to give—even if he doesn’t know it yet.

 

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To Catch a Lady: Amazon : B&N

A Most Delicate Pursuit: Amazon : B&N

 

 

sassyauthorinfo

(All information obtained from authors website.)

Since the age of 13, Pam Labud wanted to be a writer.  So much so, that she asked her Mom and Dad for a typewriter for Christmas that year.  Now, a multi-published author, who’s first book was a 2006 Double RITA finalist, she has finally realized that dream.

In addition to writing Historical and Paranormal romance novels, she also writes short erotic novella’s

When she’s not writing, Pam works as a heart nurse, is married and shares her home with two daughters, 6 dogs and 5 cockatiels.

Pam enjoys watching crime t.v. shows, reading romance fiction, suspence and Manga, and loves anime.

Favorites:

Book: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Movie: Casablanca

Animes  Full Metal Alchemist (both first series and Brotherhood), Black Butler, Cowboy Bebop and Ghost In The Shell.

 

sassyreview

A big thank you to NetGalley and Random House Loveswept for providing us with a copy of these books so there we could bring you this review.

This is the first time I have come across this author and am pretty excited with the books that she has introduced me to. I enjoyed both books immensely and will admit to having a bit of a need to cry at bits and pieces of it. It really does show two sisters who have strong minds and are not afraid to confront the men that they love into seeing themselves into the way they see them. Though neither Beatrice nor Caroline are intent on ever getting married as they see themselves as more independent woman and way ahead of their time in the way that they think. They are lucky enough to come across two men who love the fact that they are strong willed. Then you have Ashton and Michael two soldiers that come across them, but even if they thought they were tough these woman prove to be tougher and stronger then them. It broke my heart to know that both these men had fathers who did them nothing but bring down their views of themselves. Even though Ash’s father died when he was still young he did the worst damage to his son with the way that he was. I wanted to crawl in the book and comfort him. Then you have Michael to with the love of Bea finds that he isn’t what he was told all his life he would be. I can’t wait to find out what happens with the other two men in the Hunt Club.

I enjoyed both these book and give them a combined total of 4.5 independent kisses…

Happy Reading… Adri

Review: Sutherland’s Secret & MacLean’s Passion by Sharon Cullen

Sutherlands-Secret_CullenTerror reigns in the aftermath of the Battle of Culloden. As British troops obliterate the last traces of the Jacobite cause, Brice Sutherland, the Earl of Dornach, risks everything to arrange a covert escape route to Canada for his fellow Scots. But when he encounters a dying Englishwoman, hauntingly beautiful though scarred by manacles and unable to speak, Brice’s true courage is put to the test. Nothing but ruin could result from helping her, or worse: falling in love.

The pampered daughter of a marquess, Eleanor Hirst was the talk of the London season when she wed the Earl of Glendale. Little did she know that his posting as an officer in Scotland would be their undoing. Now her husband is dead and Eleanor is a fugitive in a hostile country. Desperate for help, she throws herself on the mercy of Brice Sutherland, a handsome Scottish warrior who should be her enemy. Instead, he cares for her tenderly, reviving her shattered spirit—and awakening urges unlike any she’s ever known.

 

MacLeans-Passion_Cullen-e1462033524339Colin MacLean has always felt like a black sheep—especially after his brothers are slain before his eyes in the Battle of Culloden. A smuggler by trade, Colin makes for an embarrassing chieftain. He can’t even save his friends from their British pursuers without getting himself captured. But before he is martyred by the hangman’s noose, Colin escapes with his cellmate, a brave lad he’s come to admire. It’s only in the depths of the Highlands that Colin discovers the lad is a lass—and a bonnie one at that.

Raised by her older brothers, Maggie Sinclair can drink a pint in no time flat and wield a dagger with the best of ’em. Still, men have always excluded her and women have always shunned her. Colin makes her feel different. His wild spirit and rugged good looks have Maggie reconsidering her less than ladylike ways. For the first time, she’s tempted to put on a gown, just to see how Colin would react. She can only imagine what might happen next: a kiss . . . a touch . . . and perhaps enough sultry heat to melt a cold Highland night.

 

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Sutherland’s Secret:  Amazon : B&N : iBooks

MacLean’s Passion: Amazon : Google : iBooks : B&N : Sony Reader : BAM

 

sassyauthorinfo
(All information obtained from the authors website)

Bios are the hardest things to write. I always want to be interesting and make it sound like I’m a world traveler. Unfortunately I’m not a world traveler. Yet. And I like to think I’m witty but my bio doesn’t seem so witty. So here is an unofficial bio–bulleted and in list form.

1. I wrote my first book when I was nine years old. It was about a girl and her horse and it was written on a flip top spiral notebook. I designed and drew the cover myself.

2. I attended three high schools and met my husband on the first day of my third high school. I’m not uber-religious but I believe that God had a hand in that.

3. When I was thirty-three I decided to get serious about my life-long dream of publishing a book. I gave myself a deadline of four years to get published. I figured people earn a college degree in four years and that should be adequate time for me to learn to write a novel.

4. My first published book, A Forever Kind of Thing, was published four years after I started writing.

5. I have three very talented kids. One is talented in music, another in writing (hmmmm) and another in sports.

6. I love dogs. If I could I would adopt every homeless dog out there.

OFFICIAL BIO

After earning a degree in journalism from Ohio University, Sharon found the stories inside her head were more interesting than what was going on in the world around her. Yet, it wasn’t until years later that she decided to pursue her secret dream of writing a romance novel. Since then she’s been published in romantic suspense, paranormal romance, contemporary romance and historical romance.

Sharon’s other job descriptions include chauffeur, laundress, cook and mediator to her three very busy kids, her husband and two dogs. She lives in southwest Ohio with her brood although her dream is to someday retire to St. Maarten and live on the beach.

If you’d like to find out more about Sharon and her books, you can visit her at her website. She’s addicted to social networking so you can find her on Facebook and TwitterFriend her! Like her! Follow her! She’d love to hang out with you and talk about her passion—books.

sassyreview

You all know that I will thank Netgalley and Random House Loveswept for providing us with a copy of these books so that we could bring you this review.

I have made no secret of loving Sharon Cullen and all the books that she has brought us in the last 2 years of me reading her. So I was so excited to start reading a new series from her and let me tell you she didn’t disappoint. Bringing us to the Highlands she introduces us to some strong heroines that are willing to take their lives into their own hands and face the evils of the world who pursue them. It doesn’t hurt that they have a few Scottish Chieftains to help them along the way. Now with Eleanor and Brice things have to be a certain way so that they can stay safe long enough to face the people who are trying to harm them. Especially in Eleanor’s case. Though she proves that her time in captivity has made her see life and the world differently making her a stronger person.  I love Colin and his loyalty to his friend which helps him come across a very strong and strong willed young lady by the name of Maggie. She proves that a woman can do more than she is given credit for. Both these books prove that woman are big assets to their men and can even help bring them to a better place then they ever imagined.

I have both these books 5 highland kisses…

Happy Reading… Adri

Review: The Unforgettable Hero & The Untamed Earl by Valerie Bowman

the-unforgettable-hero-valerie-bowman-e1451428911908To escape a forced marriage to her loathsome, social-climbing cousin, Cecelia Harcourt banks on selling a romantic novel. But when she’s hit by a coach on the way home from meeting a potential publisher and loses her memory, the accident leads to an encounter with a fascinating man. . . who she’s convinced is the hero of her novel.

Due to his brother’s influence, Lieutenant Adam Hunt finds himself honorably discharged from the army. Adam intends to make his way in the world without the help of a war-hero duke, brother or no. He finds his plans for independence sidetracked by a chance encounter with a lady whose memory has gone. She believes he’s a hero. Can Adam become the man he was meant to be and fill that lofty role?

 

Untamed-Earl-Burstebook-White-e1454465369482AN INDECENT PROPOSAL

Lady Alexandra Hobbs, the daughter of the Duke of Huntley, has intended to marry Lord Owen Monroe since she first glimpsed him from the window of her bedchamber, back when she was just a girl. But the duke has already chosen Alex’s infamously spoiled elder sister, Lavinia, for Owen. And now there’s no turning back.

Owen has spent most of his bachelor years drinking, gambling, and skirt-chasing. He won’t see another pound from his parents, however, until he’s engaged to Lavinia. Desperate, he accepts an offer from her innocent and spirited—and absolutely beautiful—sister Alex: She will turn him into a perfectly tamed suitor, and show him how to woo the shrew. But when Alex’s true motives come to light, will their bargain lead to recriminations—or to a romance that defies everyone’s expectations?

 

 

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The Unforgettable Hero:  iBooks : Amazon : Kobo : B&N

 

The Untamed Earl:  iBooks : Amazon : Kobo : B&N

 

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(All information obtained from authors website. We own nothing and no copyright infringement intended.)

The Unforgettable Hero

“And they lived happily ever after.” Cecelia Harcourt sighed as she finished writing the words on the paper. She dipped her quill back into the inkpot one last time. The End, she scrolled across the bottom of the page, biting her smiling lip.

“Are you finished, Cece?”

Cecelia spun around at the sound of the young female voice. She’d hidden herself in the servants’ quarters in the attic of the town house. The tiny whitewashed fourth-floor room was the perfect place to conceal her manuscript and her writing supplies from Uncle Herbert. It might smell like dust up here since they’d been forced to let most of the servants go, but the old codger would never climb up so many flights of stairs. And neither would his formidable wife, Aunt Selene.

“Yes, I’m finished, Mary,” Cecelia replied to her twelve-year-old sister.

Mary pushed open the door and hurried over to stand next to the desk, a weak smile on her face. “May I read it, Cece? Oh, please say I may.” Her sister coughed, her thin shoulders shaking.

Cecelia held her breath, waiting for Mary’s coughing to subside. Then Cecelia pressed her palm to her sister’s warm, pale cheek. Mary was so dear, such a sweet girl with blond hair and blue eyes. She looked so much like Mama. Cecilia had inherited her father’s dark hair and eyes. She sighed and blinked away tears. Her parents. If only she could have just one more moment with either of them, but a carriage accident had taken their lives nearly two years ago and ever since, she’d been struggling to keep up a brave facade for her younger sister.

“I’m sorry, Mary,” Cecelia replied, shaking her head. She pulled away her hand, turned around, and hurriedly gathered the pieces of paper. “You cannot read it today. There is no time. I must be at Mr. Cornwall’s by noon and—” She glanced at the small timepiece she’d brought upstairs with her. “Good heavens, it’s nearly noon now. I must hurry.”

A thump that sounded from the corner drew both sisters’ attention.

“Oh, Esmeralda,” Cece exclaimed. “I nearly forgot about you.”

A large brown rabbit sat on a rectangular cushion, blinking at both of them, nose twitching and eyes alert. Cece had saved the baby rabbit when she found her in the park one afternoon while out for a walk. There had been no sign of the mother. Cece had asked Aunt Selene if she might take the animal in and had immediately received a long-winded reprimand about the dangers of getting a dreaded disease from such a creature and the audacity to presume that paying for its food was something Cece should be so bold as to request. Dutifully, Cece had nodded her acquiescence to her aunt and left the baby there temporarily, only to sneak back later that afternoon to scoop up the poor little thing.

Now Esmeralda resided in the fourth-floor room upon a cushion that Cece had sewn out of an old gingham gown that no longer fit Mary. The cushion was stuffed with hay that was pilfered from the mews behind the town house. Cece had named a lady’s maid in her novel after the beloved rabbit.

Cece pulled a carrot and two celery stalks out of her long pocket and moved over to kneel in front of the rabbit. “Here you are, Esme.” She turned back to her sister. “Keep an eye on her, Mary, won’t you?”

Mary nodded once. Another short cough. “Yes, of course.”

Wiping her hands on her skirts, Cece turned back to the desk. She gathered the pages of the manuscript that weren’t yet dry and shuffled them into the larger stack. Paper was as dear as gold. A small fortune was sitting in front of her.

“Mr. Cornwall is sure to purchase your novel, Cece,” Mary declared loyally. The girl had slid to her knees in front of Esmeralda and was patting the rabbit on the head while the fat little brown ball chomped on her carrot. “I just know it.”

Cece hurriedly pushed the pages together. A nervous shudder worked its way through her frame. “We’ll see. He was the only publisher who seemed interested in meeting with a lady author, so that’s promising. Though I haven’t yet informed him that my novel is a romantic one. I told him it was an adventure story. Which, of course, is also true.”

Cece didn’t tell her sister that this was her last hope. If she couldn’t find a way to earn an income, Uncle Herbert would force her to marry her hideous first cousin, Percy. It wasn’t enough that her uncle and his wife had taken over her parents’ house. They also wanted the small bit of money that was left and earmarked for Cecelia’s dowry. Her parents had died the year she would have had her come-out. Now, at the age of twenty, she was entirely without prospects. She’d happily give her greedy relatives every bit of the money if it meant staying far away from Percy. But her uncle and aunt were intent upon the match and had been mentioning it more and more of late. The only hope Cece had was to make an income on her own to save herself and Mary.

Mary pushed to her feet and followed Cecelia toward the door. “Just tell me, Cece, does Lady Magnolia marry the duke in the story? Do they fall in love and live happily ever after?” The girl pressed both hands to her cheeks, wheezing slightly.

Cecelia couldn’t help her smile. “I can’t tell you that, silly. It would ruin the story.” She rumpled her sister’s hair. She and Mary shared a love of happy endings. And why shouldn’t they? Real life was difficult enough. In addition to their parents’ deaths and Uncle Herbert’s taking over as their guardian, Mary was sick with a lung disease. She needed expensive medicine that they could ill afford. They were little more than paupers, even if they could claim a connection to the ton on their father’s side. Father had been the youngest son of a viscount. Their mother’s younger brother, Herbert, could claim no such distinction and hoped to exploit what little familial claim to Society there was by marrying his only child to Cecelia. Cecelia would rather be hanged than marry Percy. She shuddered, then plastered her best false smile to her face for her sister.

“Don’t worry, Mary. I will sell the novel, and then we’ll move away to the countryside and—”

Mary’s face fell. “Oh, but we can’t leave the town house. Not Father’s town house.”

Cecelia turned away so her sister wouldn’t see the worry on her face. They couldn’t afford to keep the house. The creditors were sure to take it, not to mention it would be a feat to see Uncle Herbert and his corpulent wife and son removed from the premises. But she didn’t want to burden her sister. Mary’s wheezing worsened when she was upset. “We’ll talk about it later, darling. I must go.” Cecelia pulled her worn bonnet off the back of the chair and placed it atop her head. She tied a neat bow under her chin and nearly flew from the room.

“Wait!” Mary called, launching into another coughing fit.

Cece popped back into the room. Her sister pushed the stack of papers into her arms.

Cece laughed. “Oh yes, mustn’t forget this.” She glanced down at the first page, where she’d carefully written the title of the novel in large, scrolling letters.

Lady Magnolia and the Duke

Cecelia squeezed the papers to her chest. Oh, it just had to be good enough to be published. “Wish me luck, Mary.”

“Best of luck,” Mary said, picking up Esme and waving her tiny paw at Cecelia.

“And you, Esme?”

The rabbit blinked solemnly in response.

Laughing, Cece swiveled around again, rushed out of the room, and hurried down the servants’ staircase. When she reached the ground floor, winded, she darted her gaze about to ensure Uncle Herbert and Cousin Percy wouldn’t see her. There was no danger of being discovered by Aunt Selene. That lady rarely left her bedchamber. Thankfully, the space was deserted. Cece scurried out the back doors and passed the nearly vacant mews. Only Uncle Herbert’s half-deaf old mare sat inside, unhappily chewing at an exceedingly questionable pile of hay.

Cecelia clutched the manuscript. Writing it had been a joy. One of the few joys in her otherwise bleak life of late. And yes, of course Lady Magnolia and the duke fell in love and lived happily ever after, just as Cecelia would one day. But more important, just as Mary would, because even if Cecelia failed to save herself, she refused to allow her lovely, smart sister to fall victim to a loveless marriage. That was a fate worse than death. First Cecelia would sell her novel, then she’d get Mary the medicine the girl so desperately needed, then she’d find a way to leave London and her aunt, uncle, and cousin far behind. But first things first. Lifting her head and saying a prayer that Mr. Cornwall was in a buying mood today, Cecelia strode off toward the better part of Mayfair and the home of one Mr. Eugene Cornwall. She might not have a proper lady’s maid to accompany her, but that wasn’t about to stop her. No matter what happened, Cecelia would save Mary.

The Untamed Earl

PROLOGUE

Surrey, the country estate of the Duke of Huntley, July 1813

Being fifteen years of age and a bit plump and unconventional when one’s elder sister was eighteen years of age and willowy and ethereal—if waspish—was decidedly unpleasant. Being sent to bed early and told in no uncertain terms to stop lurking at the top of the staircase leading down to the ballroom was also unpleasant. But if Alexandra Hobbs strained her ear, she could just make out the soft chords of a waltz floating up from below. It was a curse to be so young when one’s elder sister was already having her come-out ball. Alexandra spun slowly, holding out the skirt of her dressing gown, pretending to curtsy to a handsome gentleman who had just asked her to dance.

The door to her room flew open and cracked against the wall. Alexandra whirled toward the sound. Not this again. Her thirteen-year-old brother came trotting in. His shirt was mussed, as was his dark hair, and he had a large streak of dirt across his jaw.

“Thomas.” Alexandra dropped her skirts and plunked her hands on her hips. “I thought I asked you to knock.”

“It’s just me, Al. Why would I want to do that?” He sauntered past her toward the window. Alexandra knew exactly what her brother was about. Her bedchamber just so happened to have much better access to the roofline and a shorter jump to the terrace below than his did. Thomas faced the window, wrenched open the sash, and leaned out. He braced his hands on the wooden sill and stuck out his head and shoulders.

“You there, Will?” he called in a half whisper, half shout.

A soft whistle was the only response. Will, the stable boy, was meeting Thomas below. This was their nightly ritual while Thomas was home from Eton.

“I’m off.” Thomas stretched one leg out the window.

“Be careful.” Alexandra turned her face away for a moment. “You know I cannot bear to see you climb onto the roof that way. I live in fear that you’ll break your neck.”

Thomas looked back at her through the window and grinned. “Where’s your sense of adventure, Al?”

Alexandra sighed. “You’ve always had more sense of adventure in your smallest toe than I do in my entire body.”

“Being adventurous is an acquired skill. Give it a try sometime. You just might find you like it. At any rate, I cannot stay in my bedchamber all evening and listen to that awful racket,” Thomas added, then nodded toward the door.

“Racket? You mean the music?” Alexandra spun around again, a dreamy smile on her face. “I think it’s beautiful.”

Thomas scrunched up his nose. “I’ll never understand girls as long as I live.”

Alexandra perched her hands on her hips again. “I don’t see why not. We’re quite simple to understand. We appreciate music, and laughter, and beautiful clothing, and flowers, and—”

“You do, Al,” Thomas interrupted. “Lavinia enjoys cutting people to shreds with her tongue and throwing fits when she doesn’t get her way. That’s why I like you so well. You’d never tell Mother and Father that I use your window to sneak out. Lavinia would set the guard on me.”

Alexandra bit her lip. It was true; their elder sister was decidedly . . . difficult. “Be back before midnight, won’t you? I dread it when Miss Hartley comes around, asking questions.”

Thomas rolled his eyes at the mention of the governess. “Just pretend you’re asleep.”

Alexandra wrapped her dressing gown tighter around her waist. “I’m rubbish at pretending.”

“I know,” replied Thomas with a laugh.

Alexandra sighed and spun around again. “I want to sneak downstairs and watch all the lovely ladies in their gowns and handsome gentlemen in their formal evening attire. Instead I’m stuck up here, dancing alone.”

Again, Thomas nodded toward the door. “Sneak down there, Al. You can do it.”

Alexandra put her hands back to her hips for the third time, a common pose when speaking to her brother. “You are a horrible influence, Thomas Marcus Devon Peabody Hobbs.”

His grin widened. “I know.”

Another faint whistle indicated that Will was getting impatient below. Thomas inserted two fingers on either side of his mouth, and let out a soft whistle of his own.

“What are you two planning to do?” Alexandra asked, though half of her didn’t want to know the answer. No doubt it was some boyish bit of trouble that would cause her anxiety should she be privy to the details.

“We’re going to the stables to play cards,” her brother said. “Will’s uncle used to work in a gaming hell in London. He taught him all the tricks.”

Alexandra pressed her hand to her cheek. “Don’t cheat, Thomas!”

“I would never cheat,” Thomas a chagrined look on his boyishly handsome face. “But I must learn how to cheat, Al; otherwise, how’ll I ever know if I’m being cheated?”

Alexandra contemplated that for a moment with a frown wrinkling her brow. “I suppose you have a point.”

“I’d better go,” Thomas said, “before Will’s whistling attracts attention.”

It was true. The terrace below could be accessed by French doors that led directly from her father’s study. An enterprising guest in search of air might very well happen outside.

Alexandra watched, wincing, as her brother climbed through the window, scaled the roofline, and then jumped like a silent cat to the terrace below. She tiptoed over to the window to close it but stopped to watch her brother greet his friend. She shook her head and sighed again. Thomas, at the age of thirteen, was self-confident and carefree. Alexandra longed to be like him, daring and adventurous. She couldn’t help it if she became nervous at the prospect of breaking rules and doing things she ought not. She spun around again in time to the music, but a thought struck her and she stopped abruptly. Thomas had said that being adventurous was an acquired skill. Was he right? If she tried it, would she enjoy it? Leaving the window open, she trailed over to her writing desk nearby, where she sat and opened her new leather-bound journal. At her age, it was high time to list the principal things she hoped to accomplish in life.

  1. Become brave and daring like Thomas.
  2. Become beautiful, willowy, and poised like Lavinia. Never stain my gowns with food, et cetera.
  3. Have a come-out during which an exceedingly eligible gentleman asks me to dance, thereby making the affair a smashing success.
  4. Marry my true love. Must be handsome, dashing, witty, kind, true, and honorable. Name to be determined later.

Alexandra sat back and surveyed her list. Becoming brave and daring would take a great deal of work, and she had little idea how she would accomplish such a thing. She tapped the end of the quill against her cheek. She must be on the alert for opportunities. Yes. That was the way to go about it.

As for becoming beautiful, willowy, and poised, it seemed more difficult than the first task. She was pretty at best, if dull brown hair and dull brown eyes could even be considered pretty. “Poised” was not a word that would ever be used to describe her. In fact, “clumsy” was probably more apt. And “willowy” was beyond an impossibility for her body. She’d already begun to develop hips and breasts and a little belly that her mother despaired of when they went to the modiste. Alexandra sighed yet again. Unless she became beautiful and poised and willowy, she had little chance of accomplishing a smashing success of a come-out in three years. Let alone one during which an exceedingly handsome and eligible gentleman asked her to dance. And if that didn’t happen, how on earth would she have other gentlemen interested enough to find her true love out of the lot of them? It was a conundrum, no question about it.

Raised voices coming from behind the house caught her attention. Dropping the quill, Alexandra hurried back over to the window, where she pushed aside the curtains and blinked out into the dark night sky. A few scattered candles resting on a table on the terrace below illuminated the space. Two young bucks stood there, speaking to someone who was hidden under the eaves.

“Say that again!” one of the bucks shouted.

“I s-said I d-don’t have no qu-quarrel with you two gents.”

Alexandra froze. She recognized the stutter of Will, the stable boy.

“You d-d-don’t?” the second buck teased.

Alexandra scowled and clenched her hands into fists. How dare those young men make sport of Will? The poor boy was barely thirteen, whereas these two had to be in their early twenties at least.

“N-n-no. I d-don’t,” Will replied. His stutter always worsened when he was anxious.

“Leave him alone!” This clearly came from her brother, who moved into her view. Thomas’s fists were raised, obviously willing to defend his friend from males who were far older and taller than he.

The two bucks laughed. “Or what? You’ll take a swing at us, lad?”

“Yes!” came Thomas’s sure voice. She admired him for his bravery, but that didn’t make her less worried. What should she do? Fetch Father?

“Try it, and we’ll lay you flat in the span of two seconds,” the first buck answered.

Alexandra held her breath. Thomas could easily tell these two fools that he was the future Duke of Huntley, but that was something else she admired about her brother: Even at his young age, Thomas never acted entitled to anything, nor desired special treatment.

“If you don’t stop harassing my mate, here, I’ll lay you flat in one,” Thomas retorted, his fists still held at the ready in front of him. He bounced around anxiously, brandishing his knuckles.

“I daresay you’ll regret that, lad.” The second buck stepped forward and raised his fist to Thomas.

That was it. Alexandra couldn’t stand the injustice of the thing. How dare these two young men try to fight her brother and his friend? She’d been looking for an opportunity to be brave. Perhaps this was it.

“Why don’t you pick on someone your own size?” Alexandra called out, heedless of the fact that she was standing in her bedchamber, wearing her night rail and dressing gown. She did her best to remain hidden behind the curtains.

The two bucks immediately stopped and looked up, squinting at her.

“What? Lo? A fair maiden speaks from above,” the first buck said. The other laughed.

“You heard me,” Alexandra replied, trying to keep her voice from shaking. “Why don’t you go instigate a brawl with someone who could actually give you sport?”

“Al!” her brother cried indignantly, stamping his booted foot.

“Al?” the first buck said. “Is that your name? Are you certain you’re a female?”

Anger spread through her limbs like quicksilver. She squeezed the curtain so hard, her fingers ached. “If I were a boy, I’d climb out this window and pummel you both!” she called. “And another thing—”

“What in the devil’s name is going on here?” A deep male voice sounded from somewhere below, but Alexandra couldn’t see its owner.

“My lord,” they said in unison, quickly backing up toward the shadows.

“Did I hear you say that you intend to fight these two young lads?” the deep voice continued.

“They were giving us lip, my lord,” one of the bucks offered in an obviously shaky voice.

The owner of the deep voice stepped into the light then. He looked like Adonis. Blond hair, wide shoulders, perfect black evening attire. She couldn’t make out the color of his eyes, but whoever he was, the man was handsome in spades. Exactly the type of suitor she’d expect Lavinia to have. No doubt the man had just come from inside, where he’d danced with her sister to one of the lilting waltzes. Alexandra leaned forward to see better.

“I believe you are one-and-twenty, are you not, Yardnell?” Lord Handsome said.

The first buck hung his head and nodded.

“And you, Antony. You’re two-and-twenty if you’re a day.”

The second buck kicked at the stones with his boot and also nodded reluctantly.

“Then I must not be hearing you correctly,” Lord Handsome continued. “You cannot possibly be meaning to fight two children who aren’t more than a dozen years old. Why, that would be not only unsporting, but also quite embarrassing for you, especially if the boys win.”

The first buck opened his mouth to speak, but Adonis stopped him.

“Ah, ah, ah. I sincerely hope you aren’t about to argue with me. I think we can both agree that a young man, a supposed gentleman, has no reason to fight a boy, does he?”

The second buck jerked his head in the semblance of a nod.

“That’s what I thought,” Adonis continued. “Now, run along before I decide that even at my advanced age of eight-and-twenty, I have no compunction striking either of you.”

“Yes, Lord Owen,” one of them said before the two bucks left nearly as quickly as they’d come, leaving Adonis with Thomas and the stable boy. Alexandra continued to watch with wide eyes from her perch at the window.

“Thank you, my lord,” Thomas said, bowing formally to the older man. “I’m certain I could have handled it, but I do appreciate your assistance.”

“Oh, no doubt, Huntley,” Adonis replied. “As you say, I was merely lending my assistance.”

Alexandra’s heart cartwheeled in her chest. He’d called Thomas by his title. How terribly endearing.

“Th-thank you, m-my lord,” Will muttered.

“It is my pleasure, Mr. . . .”

“Atkins. W-Will Atkins.”

And he’d called a mere stable boy “mister.”

“My pleasure, Mr. Atkins. And should you have further trouble with those two chaps, I do hope you would not hesitate to inform me.”

“We certainly sh-shall,” Will said.

The two boys ran off and Alexandra held her breath, waiting for Adonis to blend back into the shadows. Instead he remained there, under her window, a hint of light from the inside of the house caressing his fine cheekbone. Lord Owen? Lord Owen? She searched her memory for such a name.

His hand stole into his inside coat pocket, and Alexandra soon realized that he was lighting a cheroot. She glanced away. Oh, she should really shut the window. This was not the type of behavior a young lady should witness. She placed her fingertips on the sash and began to pull.

“I admire your method,” Adonis called.

Alexandra’s hands froze. Was he speaking to her? She jumped behind the curtain again and peeked out.

He turned then, the cheroot falling to his side, and looked up at her. “I admire it quite a lot. Threatening to climb out the window and pummel them was truly inspired.”

Alexandra’s cheeks heated. So, he’d heard that, had he? Not particularly ladylike of her, but then again, he didn’t seem to mind.

She drew a shaky breath and projected her voice enough for him to hear. “I, er, those two had no business picking fights with children.”

“Agreed,” Adonis replied, inclining his head and smiling at her.

Alexandra’s breath was stolen from her throat. The man had a dimple in his cheek that could make a saint swoon.

“I, uh, I thank you for helping my brother, my lord. Er, Lord . . . Owen . . .”

She let the last word hang, obviously waiting for him to provide his surname.

“Monroe,” he replied smoothly, bowing at the waist. “At your service, my lady.”

Alexandra sucked in her breath again, but for an entirely different reason this time. Yes, of course. She knew that name. Why, Lord Owen Monroe was one of the most famous rakehells in London. The man was known for his drinking, his gambling, his loose behavior with ladies of questionable morals, and his exceedingly high taste in fashion. The only son of the Earl of Moreland, he stood to inherit the title, but regardless, he was a scoundrel of the first order. Alexandra knew all this from the gossip she loved to listen in on when Mother and Lavinia were talking.

Alexandra shook herself and forced herself to reply to him. “My thanks, Lord Owen,” she said, still peeping out from behind the curtains. “My family is in your debt.”

“Absolutely not,” he replied with another knee-weakening smile that revealed his dimple. No wonder so many ladies of ill repute fell victim to his charm. Who wouldn’t fall victim to that smile? That dimple? “In fact,” he continued. “I must insist you tell no one of this incident tonight.”

Alexandra blinked. “Why not?”

“It would absolutely ruin my blackened reputation.” He winked at her, and Alexandra was completely lost. She had to pinch herself to keep from sighing.

“Very well, if you insist,” she replied.

“I hope you don’t mind me saying that one as lovely and spirited as you shouldn’t be cooped upstairs with such a delightful party going on.”

Alexandra bit her lip and rubbed her bare feet together. “I’d love to dance, but I’ve not yet had my come-out, my lord.”

“That is a pity.” He tossed her a sly grin. “Come down here and I’ll dance with you.”

Alexandra’s cheeks heated. She gulped. Oh, but she was sorely tempted. “I couldn’t possibly do that, my lord. It would be far too scandalous.”

“I happen to have a fondness for scandalous things,” he replied with a second slight inclination of his handsome head. “Perhaps another time, then.”

Her breathing hitched. Yes, another time. Please.

“I wish you well, my lady. Until your come-out.” He bowed again and with that, was gone into the night.

Alexandra held her breath now, watching the space Adonis had just occupied, hoping against hope that he might materialize again and say something equally as wonderful as what he’d just said. He thought she was lovely? A god like him? He thought she was spirited? A man who threatened antagonistic bucks and smoked cheroots under windows? Unimaginable. She wasn’t spirited at all; she was just . . . well, injustice had made her furious. That’s all there was to it.

After a few moments, Alexandra realized he wasn’t coming back. She blinked into the darkness and finally forced herself to turn away from the window. The smell of smoke still lingered in the air, teasing her nostrils. He had been there, hadn’t he? It hadn’t been a dream, a figment of her imagination. He was handsome, he was kindhearted, he was witty. In short, he was everything she wanted in a husband one day. His reputation might be a bit tarnished at present, but there would be years to change it.

Alexandra hurried back over to the writing desk and pulled out the journal with her list written in it. She crossed through “Name to be determined later.” Next to it, in large scrolling letters, she wrote: Lord Owen Monroe.

sassyauthorinfo

valerie bowmanValerie Bowman’s debut novel was published in 2012. Since then, her books have received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, and Kirkus. She’s been an RT Reviewers’ Choice nominee for Best First Historical Romance and Best Historical Romance Love and Laughter. Two of her books have been nominated for the Kirkus Prize for fiction.

Valerie grew up in Illinois with six sisters (she’s number seven) and a huge supply of historical romance novels. After a cold and snowy stint earning a degree in English Language and Literature with a minor in history at Smith College, she moved to Florida the first chance she got. Valerie now lives in Jacksonville with her family including her rascally rescue dog, Roo, and mini-schnauzer, Huckleberry. When she’s not writing, she keeps busy reading, traveling, or vacillating between watching crazy reality TV and PBS.

Valerie is represented by Kevan Lyon of the Marsal-Lyon Literary Agency.
sassyreview

First and foremost as always a thank you to St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley for providing us with a copy of these two books so that we could bring you this review.

Oh to love these books is to know what it is to be happy. Yes I know this sounds all kinds of dramatic, but these books are so great I can’t help myself. To start off with Cecilia and all that she goes through. How hard she fights to find her way in the world and make something of herself and her sister, only to have an encounter where she loses her memory is so sad. But Adam has a way of fixing it all if he can just see himself clearer. Of course it takes a practical knock across his head to see things as they should be. Though The Unforgettable Hero doesn’t have all the scheming we have come to enjoy in the past from this group of ladies it does have its fair share of love and romance.

Now for the scheming we need only to turn to Alexandra and Owen. This book has not only the good kind of scheming that we get when Lucy, Jane and the others get together, but we also have the negative kind of scheming that it set to hurt Alexandra and Owen. I have to admit that I HATED Lavinia from page one and she proves to be the most despicable kind of person. I will admit to having a bit of an issue with the age difference between Alexandra and Owen at first, but once she becomes of age it didn’t really seem to bother me anymore. I think also a big part of that had to do with the fact that with the way that they treat each other you do tend to forget that there is a nearly 14 year age difference.

I enjoyed these books immensely and give them both 5 regent kisses…

Happy Reading… Adri

Review: Bound Beneath His Pain by Stacey Kennedy

sassysynopsis4

Real estate mogul Micah Holt exerts absolute control over all aspects of his life. He keeps his dark side hidden away from the press, who will chase down any hint of scandal. He’s always in command of his world, careful to expose his closely guarded secrets only to those he knows he can trust. Then Allie Bennett shakes his legendary discipline. She’s beautiful, pure, untainted. But is Micah willing to sacrifice her innocence for his own selfish obsessions?

When that sexy smile makes her body burn, Allie tries with all her might to ignore it. For one thing, Micah’s her new boss. For another, he’s as complicated as he is devastatingly handsome. Still, Allie can only fight so much before she gives in to his dangerous games. She knows he’s got dark secrets. But when she discovers the true depth of his pain, Allie must decide how far she’s willing to go to light the way for love.

 

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sassyexcerpt

(All information obtained from authors website. We own nothing and no copyright infringement intended.)

I take my seat at the rectangular office table, inhaling the fragrance à la Robertson—the moldy smell is worse in the conference rooms—reminding myself I’m a professional woman. I’m not one to be charmed by a man who thinks he’s all that. And I won’t let his good looks, charisma, and sexy smile distract me from negotiating my job.

He slowly opens his jacket, exposing his wide shoulders and thick chest beneath his black vest, all to tempt me, I’m sure. What’s frustrating is how much it’s beginning to work—my nerve endings tingle, and more and more warmth is sliding down between my thighs.

I expect him to begin negotiations, but he asks a question totally out of the blue: “Tell me a bit about yourself.”

My belly quivers with the low silky tenor of his voice and the power it has over me. He’s not looking at me. He’s fucking me with his eyes. Each long linger he gives me is like he’s imagining where he’d kiss me. The passion is right there and is so tempting I want to grab the flirtation between us and play with it a while. Boy, do I ever. But I can’t, I remind myself.

Micah lives a life I don’t want. A life of privilege that I once lived myself.

My mind leaves the meeting room, returning to a past that I wish I could forget. Shortly after my fifteenth birthday, my parents lost their lives in a plane crash. Fortunately, my older by ten years and very rich half-brother swooped in to save me from foster care and took me in. But a life of privilege isn’t the one I want and it’s not the life my mother would’ve wanted for me either. She wanted me to make my own mark on the world, and that’s exactly what I’ve done. It’s the very reason no one at Richardson—even Liv—knew I had millions in a trust fund.

I blink into the present, give Micah my most professional smile, and set to answering his question. “I’m twenty-five. Born in San Francisco. I’ve been a real estate agent for five years.”

His sculpted lips press tight. “I’m sure you know I didn’t want you to recite your resume.”

“Yes, I’m sure I know that, too.” I grin.

Judging by his soft chuckle, he’s enjoying the game between us. His playfulness isn’t helping the weight in my belly, but I need to keep my wits about me. This guy is so wrong for me that I know better than to give him a single flirtatious smile.

“We’re all business, then?” he practically purrs.

“On to negotiations,” I confirm.

He finally breaks eye contact to acquaint himself with the terms of my employment offer before addressing me again. “Please don’t feel nervous or unsure in what you want during these negotiations. I’m here to listen and discuss what you feel you deserve.”

Coming from any other guy, this speech would seem sweet and thoughtful. As it is coming from a guy dressed in an expensive tailored black suit, while he is leaning back in his seat, chest out, chin high, I refrain from snorting. Powerful men are all the same. And I certainly don’t need him to hold my hand. “Thank you. That’s very kind.”

His eyes narrow at my demure tone of voice, then his mouth twitches. Obviously he sees the amusement in this scenario; not to be shallow, but I am Richardson’s top producer—I think I can “negotiate” a contract. Jeez.

I keep silent; he grabs out a pen from his jacket pocket, never taking his eyes off me. I shiver—not from the coolness of the room, but because of his intensity. He exudes a frightening amount of power. And a confidence that I’ve rarely seen in a man his age; if I recall correctly, the tabloids pegged him at thirty-five.

The strength he projects seems hauntingly dark. But it’s not a darkness I want to run from. It’s a darkness that draws me in. A darkness that I almost want to absorb.

I shake the thoughts from my head. Let’s be logical here, this guy has nothing to offer me except lust. And I want more than that when it comes to a relationship; I want love, trust, and, dare I say, maybe even the white picket fence? Which I suppose explains why I’m still very single.

He taps his pen against the paper. “Go ahead and negotiate your terms.”

I glance at the document before me, thinking of my very successful half-brother and the lessons he taught me about negotiation. Ask for more than you think you’ll get, because then you’ll end up somewhere in the middle, he once told me.

“This is all great, and the health benefits are appreciated,” I say to Micah, keeping my eyes on the papers. “However, I have some conditions besides what I’m seeing here.”

“Name them,” he tells me.

I note the commission on the papers, which is the same as I get at Richardson—the offer states that I’ll receive 2.5 percent of the purchase price as my commission from the sales, then out of the money I earn on the deal, I’ll give Holt 30 percent as their cut. I’ve done my competitive research over the years, just to make sure I knew what the market would bear should I ever leave Richardson. “In section four where the commission is noted, I want Holt’s commission adjusted from 30 percent to 20 percent of my earnings.” I watch Micah’s brows shoot up and add, “And if you haven’t already given Liv a salary increase, then she’ll need that, too.”

A slow, dangerous smile crosses his face. “Anything else to adjust?”

I pause, ponder, then shake my head. “No, that’s all.”

“You drive a hard bargain,” he says, considering me.

Of course I did, my big bro taught me all about business. I figured Micah probably operated the same way. I had to address him with the same intensity he shows me or I won’t get his respect. “It’s not a bargaining technique,” I correct him, mirroring his slow, dangerous smile. “It’s simply what I deserve based on the market today.”

He leans back in his chair, regarding me with a long look. “It seems you have more experience than what I’d originally thought. Where did you work before Richardson?”

“Nowhere.”

“No internship out of university?”

“I never went to university. I started at Richardson right out of high school, then obtained my real estate license.” Well, first I traveled Europe for a year with my best friend, Taylor Erikson, on a trip of self-discovery. The only discovery we made is that I can drink Taylor under the table. I became a real estate agent after working as a receptionist at Richardson, during which time I studied for and obtained my license. But these all are things he doesn’t need to know.

His smoky eyes narrow again. “You have no other business experience?”

“No, I’m afraid not.” Dammit, I need to dial back the confidence a tad. Everyone has secrets they hold dear and I have mine, too. My past isn’t something I want advertised. “Those are my terms. Are you in agreement?”

He taps his fingers against the table and then begins to swirl them in a slow circle against the dark wood, those eyes directly on my face. I’m ashamed by the way my lower body clenches, as I’m wondering how that touch would feel against my naked skin.

I force myself to look at his face when he finally addresses me again. “Holt will take 25 percent of your commission, not the 20 percent that you’re asking for or the 30 percent we originally offered. Will that suffice?”

I pretend to ponder his offer—25 percent is incredible. “Yes, I’ll agree to that.”

He clasps his hands on the table, and I feel like he’s stripping me layer by layer. It’s intrusive, but I’m not opposed to it. More heat spreads through me, tempting me to move a little closer to him.

I order myself to stay put when he arches a single brow. “You do realize that you’ll have to deliver high sales to prove you’re worth what you’re asking for.”

I nod. “Of course.” And I would prove my worth. Or Liv and I would, I should say.

A long moment of silence settles between us. He’s still regarding me, and within his confident stare I feel like he’s hiding something, or at least that’s how it seems. I don’t know exactly what it is, but it’s intriguing nonetheless.

His jaw clenches twice before he speaks again. “Well then, let’s hope you can deliver on the promises you are making here.” He moves his pen quickly over the document, changing the terms, and initialing the changes. “You’ll need to bring three signed copies of the offer when you arrive at Holt tomorrow morning.”

“Perfect.” I accept the papers from him. “Now, one more thing before we finalize this.”

Both of his brows shoot up. I can only guess he’s not used to having anyone dismiss a meeting—which, of course, is exactly why I said it. But the other reason is I’m concerned about my employer. “Before I sign this contract and agree to move to Holt, what is going to happen to Richardson?”

By the way he straightens in his seat, I wonder if I hit a nerve. I realize I’m asking a question that is totally none of my business, and when he folds his arms, closing himself off to me, I become a little nervous about his answer.

“You’re worried about a company you’re considering leaving?”

I can’t get a read on him. His expression is showing very little, so I reply, “Richardson gave me my start. The way I see it, I owe it some loyalty. And I want to know what your plans are.”

He’s watching me closely; a section of his jet-black stylish hair falls free. “Why does it matter? Richardson’s clients will be moved to Holt and all deserving employees will be hired on in some capacity.”

“Exactly my point,” I fire back. “What makes them deserving? Is your decision based on how much they made last year?”

Finally there’s a crack in his unreadable expression, and I can tell by the widening of his eyes that my question surprises him. “What they bring into the company is taken into consideration.” He pauses, and his attention lingers a little too long on me, like he’s sizing me up. “Would you expect it not to be?”

“In business, I do expect that,” I say with a shrug. “But what if they had a bad year? Take Sandy, she’s a longtime agent for Richardson—she lost her husband this past year and has been struggling.” His lips part, but I continue before he can cut me off. “Another employee, Jacob, recently found out that his young daughter has cancer. These are things that you don’t know about the people who work here. So, yes, I’m asking what will happen to them.”

He scrapes his fingers across his square jaw, and I notice his face is ridiculously chiseled, like the rest of him. “Your concern here is that your friends—”

“They’re not my friends,” I correct him.

He snorts softly. “You’re this worried about co-workers?”

“Yes.” Because if I didn’t say this now no one would. Micah is intimidating. I’m experienced at handling men like Micah and ensuring they don’t railroad people. These are things that need to be said, because Sandy and Jacob both deserve to keep their jobs, regardless that they had low sales last year.

Money isn’t everything.

His finger continues to stroke his chin from left to right when he asks, “If I say I plan on dismantling Richardson and can’t save every job, you would refuse to move to Holt, even if that means you would lose your job?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

I can tell he’s honestly interested, not judging me, so I’m bluntly honest with him. “I refuse to work for a company that can’t see past the bottom line and doesn’t care for its employees and treat them as people.”

He’s watching me again, and yet he’s completely unreadable. He wants inside my head, I’m sure of it, and I feel, for this second, that if I let him in he’ll awaken me in ways I’ve never known. I’m tempted to reach across the table and—

A knock on the door jerks my focus there, finding Anderson peeking his head inside the meeting room. “Yes?” he drawls.

I’m reeling, fighting my way back from the promise of satisfaction in Micah’s eyes, and trying to understand how in the hell he alerted Anderson that he needed him, when Micah rises from his chair. “Instruct the team to stop dismantling the company. Tell them to give me a report on Richardson’s financials ASAP. And keep all Richardson staff on board here, unless anyone willingly wants to move to Holt.”

Anderson frowns, stepping farther into the office. “Didn’t you say shut down this—”

“You heard me.” Eyes still intent on me, with that sexy little arch curving the side of his mouth, Micah asks me, “I’ll see you at Holt tomorrow, Allie?”

“You will,” is all I can say.

And just like that, he’s gone, and I’m alone, dragging in heavy breaths through my mouth.

The tabloid headlines at the grocery store spoke of Micah as being ruthless. But that’s not the guy I met today. Charming and seductive seems like an impenetrable armor to mask a certain dark intensity about him.

I press my hands flat on the table, hoping the coolness of the wood eases the fire in my veins. My nerve endings are tingling. My panties are soaking wet. But there’s a truth I cannot ignore besides the heat he awakens inside of me.

Men like Micah don’t do something out of the goodness of their heart. He made this choice because I asked him to.

This is his leverage over me.

And now I owe him.

 

 

sassyauthorinfo

staceykennedy

Stacey Kennedy is the USA Today bestselling author of the Club Sin series. Growing up, Stacey’s mind wandered the path less traveled, and that path most often led to love. She has always broken rules and she continues to feed off emotion—always staying true to her heart. Those traits are now the bones of her stories.
She lives in southwestern Ontario with her husband, who puts any of the heroes in her books to shame, and their two young children. If she’s not on Mom duty or plugging away at a new story, you’ll find Stacey camping in the summer, hibernating in the winter, and obsessing over Penny Dreadful, Game of Thrones, and Sons of Anarchy.

Author Links: Facebook   :   Twitter   :   Website : Goodreads

sassyreview

As always I will start with thanking Random House Loveswept and Netgalley for providing us with a copy of this book so that we could bring you this review.

Ok after reading the Club Sin series and being introduced to the Dominants Counsel I was looking forward to this first book in the Dirty Little Secrets series. Though I will say that this book didn’t have as much of the BDSM that I am used to from Stacey Kennedy, but its still a hot little read. Allie is such a kick ass character and her view of the world is to stand on her own two feet which is awesome she doesn’t want to lean on what she is handed she wants to earn it. Micah’s world is twisted inside out and upside down by this woman and its kind of funny to watch a Dominant be thrown completely off. It also shows that you can still have your way of life and it not have to be all consuming as he thought it had to be. I loved that neither Allie nor Micah tried to change the other into something that they weren’t. But instead showed them that its ok to be everything you wanted to be and more. I will say that I am more anxious to read Darius’ book after being introduced to him in this book.

I give this book 4 bound kisses… 

Happy Reading… Adri

Review & Giveaway: Seaside Lovers by Melissa Foster

Fall in Love with Grayson & Parker!

 

SEASIDE LOVERS

Seaside Summers #7

Melissa Foster

Releasing July 20th, 2016

World Literary Press

After

months of long-distance communication, actress Parker Collins and artist

Grayson Lacroux finally plan to reconnect in the seaside town of Wellfleet,

Massachusetts. But Parker never shows, and weeks pass without a word, leaving

Grayson to believe he’s misinterpreted their budding relationship.

 

Parker has been running on autopilot

ever since she lost her friend, mentor, and the only family she’s ever known,

Bert Stein. Armed with junk food, tequila, and her big, lovable dog, she’s

prepared to hole up and mourn—and determined to mend a fence Bert had never

been able to with his estranged and bitter brother. But Parker didn’t count on

the sinfully hot artist she’s been fantasizing about for nearly a year walking

in on her grief-induced drunken night.

When Grayson stumbles across Parker,

he has no idea what to make of the gorgeous blonde who blew him off despite the

heat sizzling between them. But that doesn’t stop him from feeling protective

of the woman who’s consumed his thoughts for months, and when he learns of

Parker’s plans to confront an angry old man, he refuses to leave her side. As

Parker’s past unfolds, they’re led on an unexpected journey of discovery. Their

connection deepens, and late-night fantasies become passionate realities, until

good intentions spark painful secrets, threatening the love they’ve found.

 

BUY NOW

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Melissa

Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling

and award-winning author. She writes sexy and heartwarming contemporary

romance, new adult romance, and women’s fiction with emotionally compelling

characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Melissa’s

emotional journeys are lovingly erotic, perfect beach reads, and always family

oriented.

 

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Sarah’s Review

Thank you to Melissa Foster and Tasty Book Tours for the opportunity to continue to read this great series! I am addicted to this series!

Right from the beginning I was sucked in and didn’t want to put it down! Sadly, life has a way of putting reading roadblocks up!

I love they way Grayson and Parker got to know each other through emails. Parker’s changing of her mind on designs was a great way to get to know Grayson. Grayson’s willingness to comply with her changes showed me that he was thinking along similar lines.

I love how these two made the other one stronger. It’s something that every relationship should have.

I can’t wait to read more and see updates in future books!