Friday, July 29, 2016

LOVE BLOOMS ON MAIN STREET by Olivia Miles *Author Spotlight*



ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: Love Blooms on Main Street
Author: Olivia Miles
Series: The Briar Creek Series, #4
On Sale: July 26, 2016
Publisher: Forever
Format: Mass Market & eBook
Price: $5.99 USD (MM) & $4.99 USD (eBook)

Love is always in season . . .

Florist Ivy Birch fantasizes about the day a man will surprise her with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Especially if that man happens to be Brett Hastings. One stolen kiss at her best friend's wedding and Ivy can't get the sexy ER doctor out of her head.

In the small town of Briar Creek, you can't avoid anyone for very long. Not that Brett has been trying to avoid Ivy. He just can't afford to let anything distract him from his work-not again. So when a hospital fundraiser throws them together, love is the last thing on his mind. But with her quick wit and sweet laugh, soon the one woman he's tried to keep at arm's length is capturing his heart...

LOVE BLOOMS ON MAIN STREET Blitz Excerpt

A small gasp escaped from her but was quickly silenced by the firm press of Brett’s mouth on hers. Unlike their last kiss, which had felt so tender, this time Brett was leaving no room for confusion about his intentions. She stiffened against his touch, trying to resist him, but pleasure pooled warm in her stomach and the space between her legs began to ache as he wrapped two arms around her waist and pulled her to his chest.
Oh, God. She wanted to fight this. The feeling he was stirring within her. The need for more. She opened her mouth to him, letting him in. He kissed her deeply, not giving her a chance to break away, and she wasn’t so sure she could, even if she wanted to. Her hands, which had been pushed off her hips by the strength of his arms, hung loosely at her sides, as if determined to stay out of this drama she was creating for herself, but, like her mouth, they lost the fight. She slid her hands up onto Brett’s arms, taking in every curve of his hard muscles, and up onto his shoulders as she leaned into him. His breath was heavy as he kissed her harder, and she parted her legs to let his slide between and press against the tightness that was building within her.
What are we doing?” she asked when they finally came apart. She blinked up at him and resisted the urge to flatten his disheveled locks. I did that, she realized with a flutter.
I don’t really know.” Brett’s voice was low and coarse. “But I like it.”
She firmed her mouth and smoothed her dress. Not good enough.
Turning to stare at the folding table, she felt her spirits begin to sag. She’d let him in again. Let him take her to places she’d wanted, to dream dreams that should have stayed in her unconscious. And nothing had changed. Men don’t change, Ivy. That’s what her mother had always said. When would she learn?
Well, it can’t happen again,” she insisted.
Oh no?”
She glanced back to see that slow, sexy smile. “No.” But even as she said it, her body was saying yes.



THE BRIAR CREEK SERIES

Mistletoe On Main Street, #1
A Match Made On Main Street, #2
Hope Springs On Main Street, #3
Love Blooms On Main Street, #4
Christmas Comes To Main Street, #5


BUY THE BOOK HERE



THE BRIAR CREEK SERIES

Mistletoe On Main Street, #1
A Match Made On Main Street, #2
Hope Springs On Main Street, #3
Love Blooms On Main Street, #4

Christmas Comes To Main Street, #5


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Olivia Miles is a Chicago-based romance writer. Having grown up in New England, Olivia attended McGill University in Montreal, Quebec before settling in Chicago where she lives with her husband, their daughter, and two ridiculously pampered pups.

When she is not chasing after her little ones, she is hard at work creating feisty heroines and alpha heroes with a heart. A city girl with a fondness for small-town charm, Olivia enjoys highlighting both ways of life in her stories.


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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Untouchable by Sibel Hodge *Book Blitz*


Untouchable
by Sibel Hodge
Genre: Psychological/Vigilante/Suspense Thriller
Release Date: July 18, 2016



A Conspiracy. A cover-up. And a whistle-blower who knows too much. You think you know who to trust? You're wrong. And the truth may kill you...

~~ Inspired by real UK police investigations, this book contains scenes which some readers may find disturbing ~~

It’s Maya and Jamie’s anniversary, and she waits with excitement for him to return home for a celebratory dinner. There’s a knock at the door. It’s the police. Jamie has been found hanging in a local wood.

His death is ruled a suicide, but Maya doesn’t believe Jamie would take his own life. Something isn’t right. Someone has broken into her house. Someone is watching her. And someone has gone to great lengths to cover up what Jamie was doing before he died.

Maya’s grief turns to suspicion, and as she begins to investigate the weeks leading up to Jamie’s death, her trail leads her to a place known as “The Big House” and the horrific secrets within. Secrets people will stop at nothing to keep hidden. People linked to the heart of the Establishment who think they’re untouchable.

Now Maya has a dangerous decision to make. How far is she prepared to go to reveal the truth?






Sibel Hodge’s No. 1 Bestseller Look Behind You has now sold over ¼ million copies. Her books are International Bestsellers in UK, USA, Australia, France, and Germany. She writes an eclectic mix of genres, and she's a passionate human and animal rights advocate.

Her work has been nominated and shortlisted for numerous prizes, including the Harry Bowling Prize, the Yeovil Literary Prize, the Chapter One Promotions Novel Competition, The Romance Reviews’ prize for Best Novel with Romantic Elements, and Indie Book Bargains’ Best Indie Books of 2012. She was the Winner of Best Children’s Book by eFestival of Words 2013, Nominated for the 2015 BigAl's Books and Pals Young Adult Readers' Choice Award, Winner of Crime, Thrillers & Mystery | Book from a Series in the SpaSpa Book Awards 2013, Readers' Favourite Young Adult - Coming of Age Honourable Award Winner 2015, and New Adult Finalist in the Oklahoma Romance Writers of America's International Digital Awards 2015. Her novella Trafficked: The Diary of a Sex Slave has been listed as one of the top 40 books about human rights by Accredited Online Colleges.







Tuesday, July 26, 2016

ULTIMATE COURAGE by Piper J. Drake *Release Day Blitz*





ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: Ultimate Courage
Author: Piper J. Drake
Series: True Heroes, #2
On Sale: July 26, 2016
Publisher: Forever
Formats: Mass Market & eBook
Price: $6.99 USD (MM) / $5.99 USD (eBook)

LOVE IS AN ACT OF BRAVERY

Retired Navy SEAL Alex Rojas is putting his life back together, one piece at a time. Being a single dad to his young daughter and working at Hope's Crossing Kennels to help rehab a former guard dog, he struggles every day to control his PTSD. But when Elisa Hall shows up, on the run and way too cautious, she unleashes his every protective instinct.

Elisa's past never stays in her rearview mirror for long, and she refuses to put anyone else in danger. But with Alex guarding her so fiercely yet looking at her so tenderly, she's never felt safer . . . or more terrified that the secrets she keeps could put countless people in grave peril. The only way for both to fully escape their demons will take the ultimate act of courage: letting go and learning to trust each other.






Excerpt
You’ve got to be insane.”
Elisa Hall took a prudent step—or two—back as she observed the standoff brewing in front of her. A tall man stood between her and the emergency room reception desk, glaring at the woman in scrubs behind it. He stood at an angle to Elisa, so he could see the reception desk to his right and the entirety of the waiting area in front of him.
He clenched his fists.
Elisa retreated farther back toward the entrance, releasing her throbbing rist and letting her hands fall to her sides. Harmless. Nothing to see here.
I’m sorry, sir, but ambulances take precedence over walk-ins,” the nurse repeated. She was braver than Elisa would’ve been in the face of rage on a level with the man’s at the counter.
He was dressed in loose fitness shorts and a close-fitting black tee. His hands were wrapped in some cross between tape and fabric.
Fighter” might as well have been printed across his very broad, muscular shoulders.
Actually, now that she was looking, his tee said Revolution Mixed Martial Arts Academy.
Well, then. Maybe she should just take more ibuprofen and forget about seeing a doctor for her swollen wrist after all. Getting her injury examined wasn’t worth staying anywhere near this guy.
The nurse glanced quickly at Elisa then returned her attention to the man, her expression softening with sympathy. “As soon as an examination room opens up, we’ll get you in to see the doctor. Please, wait right here and fill out these forms while I help this young lady.”
Wait, what? The man’s face, and his focus, turned toward her. Oh, great.
Usually she envied nurses their ability to sympathize with so many patients and make such a difference in their lives. Now was not one of those times.
Elisa squashed the urge to bolt. Never ended well when she tried it. Better to hold very still, wait until the anger in front of her burned itself out, and pull herself together afterward.
Instead, she fastened her gaze on the floor and tried to keep her body from tensing visibly. Silently, she sang herself an inane nursery rhyme to take her mind
off the weight of the man’s intense glare. Please, please, let him walk away. They were in public, and even though the emergency room waiting area wasn’t packed, it still had a dozen people scattered around the seats.
But the expected explosion, shouting, other things . . .never happened. Instead, the man had quieted. All of the frustrated aggression seemed to have been stuffed away, somewhere.
She swallowed hard. Relief eased her constricted throat, and she breathed slowly for the time being. Leaving remained the best idea she had at the moment.
But he stepped away from the counter and farther to her right, motioning with a wrapped hand for her to step forward. As she forced her feet to take herself closer to the reception desk—and past him—he gave her room.
Belatedly, she realized his movement also happened to block her escape route toward the doors. He couldn’t have done it on purpose, could he? But Elisa took a step up to the reception counter and away from him anyway.
Yes, dear?” The nurse’s gentle prompt made Elisa jump.
Damn it. Elisa’s heart beat loud in her ears.
The nurse gave her an encouraging smile. “Don’t mind him. He’s been here before. I’ve already asked another nurse to bring ice packs as fast as possible. I don’t
mind if he blows off some hot air in my direction in the meantime. I would be upset, too, considering today’s situation.”
Elisa bit her lip. She could still feel the man standing behind her, his presence looming at her back. He couldn’t possibly appreciate the nurse sharing some of
his private information. And he didn’t seem to need ice packs or any other medical attention. He appeared very able-bodied. “It’s none of my business.”
The nurse placed a clipboard on the counter and wrinkled her nose. “Oh, trust me, the entire waiting room knows what his concern is. Tell me what brought you here.”
This might be the most personable emergency room reception area Elisa had been to in years, not counting the extremely angry man standing behind her. They were either not very busy—not likely if all the examination rooms were full up—or extremely efficient.
Efficiency meant she could get in and out and decide what her next steps would be.
My wrist.” Elisa held out her left arm, her wrist obviously swollen. “I thought it was just a bad sprain, but it’s been more than a few days and has only gotten worse. I can barely move it now.”
And if she could have avoided it, she definitely wouldn’t have stopped in to get it treated. An emergency room visit, even with the help of her soon-to-be nonexistent insurance, was still an expense she didn’t need. It’d been six months or so since her last significant paycheck, and she could not afford to extend her insurance much longer. Plus, it might be better not to. One less way to track her.
Is that your dominant arm, dear?” The nurse held up a pen.
Elisa shook her head.
Oh, good. Leave your ID and insurance card with me so I can make copies. Take a seat over there to fill out this form and bring it back to me.”
Okay, then. Elisa took the items and made her way toward the seating area, thankful the nurse hadn’t asked her to give her name and pertinent information verbally. It was always a risk to share those things out loud.
She’d learned over and over again. There was a chance a slip of information in the unlikeliest of places would find its way to exactly the person she didn’t want
to have it. No matter how careful she’d been over the last several months, it hadn’t been enough yet.
But it would be. This time. She was learning, and she was free. Every day was a new chance.
Nodding to herself, Elisa looked for a seat. It might not be crowded, but just about everyone in the room had decided to sit with at least a chair or two buffer between them and the next person. The buffer seats were all that were left, and most of the other people waiting to be seen were either men, or women sitting with men.
Then she caught sight of a young girl sitting with her legs crossed in the seat next to the big planter in the corner. Slender, but long limbed, the girl had a sweet face and the gangly look of a growing kid. Elisa guessed the girl was maybe eight or nine, could even be ten. Hard to pin down age when the kid had such an innocent look to her. The seat next to her was open, and she was waiting quietly, hugging a big, blue, plush . . . round thing. Whatever it was.
Elisa walked quickly over, and when the girl looked up at her with big, blue eyes, Elisa gave her the friendliest smile she could dig up. “Mind if I sit next
to you?”
The girl looked around, her gaze lingering on the reception area behind Elisa for a moment before saying, “Sure.”
Elisa took a seat.
After a few silent moments, the little girl stirred next to her. “Are you sick?”
Well, paperwork didn’t take much of her attention, and it’d been a while since Elisa had been outside of her own head in a lot of ways. Conversation would be
a welcome change and a good distraction from the constant worry running in the back of her mind. “Not sick so much as hurt. I won’t give you the plague.”
A soft, strained laugh. “Same here.”
Elisa took a harder look at the big, plush toy. It wasn’t for comfort as Elisa’d first assumed. It was supporting the girl’s slender left arm, which was bent at an impossible angle.
Oh my god.” Why was she sitting here alone?
Don’t worry.” The girl gave her a quick thumbs-up with her right hand. “The doctors are really good here, and I’m in all the time.”
Such a brave face. She had to be in an insane amount of pain. And here she was encouraging Elisa.
Is there someone you should talk to about how often you get hurt?” Elisa struggled for the right tone. It was one she’d heard more than once when people had been concerned for her. Some places had safeguards in place for . . .
Blue eyes widened. “Oh, it’s not what you’re thinking. Trust me, people ask my dad. And it’s not like that at all. I study mixed martial arts. I get bruised and
bumped all the time, and usually it’s nothing, but Dad always makes me come in to get checked.”
It was hard not to believe in the earnest tone. But monsters were everywhere.
The girl gave her a rueful smile, still amazing considering how much pain she had to be in. “This time it wasn’t just a bump.”
Which is why they’re going to see you as soon as they can, Boom.”
Elisa hadn’t heard the man approach. He was just there. He kneeled down in front of the girl then gently tucked an ice pack around her arm while moving it as
little as possible. For her part, the girl hissed in pain but otherwise held up with amazing fortitude.
Elisa would’ve been in tears. The forearm had to be broken. Both bones. It didn’t take a doctor to figure that out. No wonder the man had been mad earlier. She’d want this girl to be seen as soon as possible, too. She dropped her gaze, unable to watch.
Here.” An ice pack appeared in her view. “Your wrist should be iced, too. Take down the swelling while you wait.”
Speechless, Elisa looked up.
The man’s words were gruff, awkward. His expression was blank. But his eyes—a softness around his eyes—and a . . . quiet in the way he watched her made her swallow and relax a fraction. Her heartbeat stuttered in a fluttery kind of way. A completely different reaction from what she should be experiencing if she were wise. She didn’t know this man and he was probably married. The girl had a mother somewhere. Where? Maybe on her way. This man was just being nice. Maybe.

Learn from your mistakes. You never know who a person really is.

THE TRUE HEROES SERIES

Extreme Honor, #1
Ultimate Courage, #2
Absolute Trust, #3


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Piper J. Drake (or "PJ") spent her childhood pretending to study for the SATs by reading every interesting novel she could find at the library. After being introduced to the wonderful world of romance by her best friend, she dove into the genre.

PJ began her writing career as PJ Schnyder, writing sci-fi & paranormal romance and steampunk, for which she won the FF&P PRISM award as well as the NJRW Golden Leaf award and Parsec award.

PJ's romantic suspense novels incorporate her interests in mixed martial arts and the military. The True Heroes series is inspired by her experience rescuing, owning and training a variety of retired working dogs, including Kaiser, a former guard dog, and Mozart, who was trained to detect explosives.


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A DUKE TO REMEMBER by Kelly Bowen *Release Day Blitz*




BOOK INFORMATION

Title: A Duke to Remember
Author: Kelly Bowen
On Sale: July 26, 2016
Series: A Season for Scandal, #2
Publisher: Forever
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $5.99 USD

Love takes the stage . . .
Elise deVries is not what she seems. By night, the actress captivates London theatergoers with her chameleon-like ability to slip inside her characters. By day, she uses her mastery of disguise to work undercover for Chegarre & Associates, an elite agency known for its discreet handling of indelicate scandals. But when Elise is tasked with locating the missing Duke of Ashland, she finds herself center stage in a real-life drama.

Noah Ellery left the glamour of the London aristocracy to pursue a simpler life in the country. He's managed to avoid any complications or entanglements-that is, until he lays eyes on Elise and realizes there's more to this beautiful woman than meets the eye. But when Elise reveals her real identity-and her true feelings for him-the runaway duke must confront the past he left behind . . . to keep the woman he loves forever.


Excerpt

You’re not going to die on me, are you?” The voice came from lower, almost directly in front of her this time, and Elise opened her eyes, staring up at a collection of clouds scudding across the blue sky.
Not yet, I think.” She struggled to sit, her tired muscles still refusing to obey.
A warm hand caught hers and pulled her forward, and Elise was suddenly presented with the most beautiful eyes she had ever seen.
They were smoky green, the color of pine wreathed in mist, the color of still waters that hid great depths. They were ringed with blond lashes, set in a strong, rugged face that spoke of hours spent outdoors. Pale blond hair fell around his ears in careless waves, the ends damp where they brushed his bare shoulders. Incredible shoulders, wide and powerful, droplets of water sliding over the ridges of muscle to disappear down the front of his chest.
Her mouth went dry, and whatever breath she thought she had caught deserted her once again.
He was crouched before her, a look of concern tempered with a half-smile stamped across his striking features. “Hmmm. Well, if you die, can I have your horse?” he asked. “As fine an animal as I’ve seen in a long time.”
My horse?” she repeated. Good Lord. Her wits had completely scattered under that smoky gaze.
He glanced over her head up in the direction of the road. “One of the boys brought it off the bridge for you.”
Elise struggled to draw a normal breath and formulate a thought. The man was trying to put her at ease. It wasn’t his fault that he looked as he did. It wasn’t his fault her body was threatening to make an utter fool of her because of it.
But clearly, it had been too long since she had invited a man to share her bed because she was shamelessly staring at the way his body moved as he shifted. Subtle shadows carved their way across his torso, created by lean muscle rippling under golden skin. A scattering of dark blond hair covered his chest and trailed down past his navel. Her eyes dropped further south, and she let her gaze wander over the sharp ridges of muscle that formed a V over his hips before disappearing into the front of his breeches. His free hand rested on a powerful thigh, long, capable-looking fingers spread out over the top of his knee. She imagined what those fingers would feel like against her bare skin. Because she already knew what his arms had felt like beneath her, the hard strength of his body against hers.
When he was pulling you from the water like a drowned river rat, you fool, not drawing you into a lover’s embrace.
A terrible realization struck her with the completion of that thought. Without needing to check, she knew her cap was gone. Her braid had come unpinned, and she could feel the heavy weight of her sodden hair on her back. A glance at her water-logged clothes plastered to her body confirmed her worst suspicions. When she’d bound her breasts tightly beneath her loose, baggy shirt, they were unnoticeable, but there was nothing unnoticeable about them now. The bindings had come loose and slid down to bunch at her waist. Worse, the threadbare fabric of her worn shirt was almost transparent, and stuck to her skin as it was, she may as well have been wearing nothing. The curves of her breasts were clearly visible, as were the dark areolas of her peaked nipples.
The man’s eyes were still on her face and not on her chest, which Elise was choosing to interpret as a testament to his chivalry, but no one in their right mind would mistake her for anything other than what she truly was. A woman dressed as a boy.
No, you can’t have my horse,” she muttered, attempting to peel her shirt away from her breasts with her free hand. “I need it to flee a lot of awkward questions.”
The man was watching her again. “They are going to want to know who you are,” he said quietly, jerking his chin in the direction of the voices beyond them. The understanding she saw in those incredible eyes made her blink.
She managed a weak smile. “Do you suppose anyone will notice if I just swim back to where I came from?” She was trying to make her mind work, but like her muscles, it seemed lethargic, her usual ingenuity depleted. “You can tell them that I was a mermaid.”






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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kelly Bowen grew up in Manitoba, Canada. She attended the University of Manitoba and earned a Master of Science degree in veterinary physiology and endocrinology.
But it was Kelly's infatuation with history and a weakness for a good love story that led her down the path of historical romance.  When she is not writing, she seizes every opportunity to explore ruins and battlefields.
Currently, Kelly lives in Winnipeg with her husband and two boys, all of whom are wonderfully patient with the writing process.  Except, that is, when they need a goalie for street hockey.

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Love Blooms on Main Street by Olivia Miles *Review*

*I received a eARC copy of this book for my honest review*





Love is always in season . . .

Florist Ivy Birch fantasizes about the day a man will surprise her with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Especially if that man happens to be Brett Hastings. One stolen kiss at her best friend's wedding and Ivy can't get the sexy ER doctor out of her head.

In the small town of Briar Creek, you can't avoid anyone for very long. Not that Brett has been trying to avoid Ivy. He just can't afford to let anything distract him from his work-not again. So when a hospital fundraiser throws them together, love is the last thing on his mind. But with her quick wit and sweet laugh, soon the one woman he's tried to keep at arm's length is capturing his heart...


MY THOUGHTS

This is book 4 in the Briar Creek series and I admit that I have not read the previous books in the series but really you don't have to but I do wish I would have read them just because I did enjoy this book very much and I now have added the first 3 books to my long list of books to buy. 

Love Blooms on Main Street is very well written. It is a fast read. It was sweet and had some funny parts and it is one that I do highly recommend to all who love contemporary romance books.

I give this 4 out of 5.

Love Blooms on Main Street is now on sale in bookstore online or near you.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

High Summer Read-a-Thon - Starting Post #HSreadathon Day 6

Seasons of Reading

Day 6 I didn't even read because we went to the movies and then grocery shopping. By the time we got home and had all the food put away it was time to make dinner. After dinner we watched a movie then I went to bed early (8pm) because I was very tired and I didn't even do any reading in bed like I usually do.   

Saturday, July 23, 2016

High Summer Read-a-Thon - Starting Post #HSreadathon Day 5

Seasons of Reading

Well, I have good news.  I was able to finish reading The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

So now I have 2 books read out of the 3 books I was planning on reading during this read-a-thon.

Friday, July 22, 2016

High Summer Read-a-Thon - Starting Post #HSreadathon Day 4

Seasons of Reading

Well, yesterday wasn't a great day for me reading wise.  I just couldn't stay focus into a book much.  My dog kept distracting me and then telephone calls so I only read maybe 40 pages of Betrayals by Kelley Armstrong and 10% of The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski.

Tomorrow and Saturday I might not be able to read much either because I have a lot to do.  

I did finish reading one book this week but I am hoping I can finish one more before the end of this read-a-thon.  

Thursday, July 21, 2016

High Summer Read-a-Thon - Starting Post #HSreadathon Day 3

Seasons of Reading

I didn't read as much as I had wanted because I had a headache for most of the day.

I read maybe 10 pages of Betrayals by Kelley Armstrong and 13% of The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski .

FOOL FOR YOU by Rina Gray



Can she go from BFF TO MRS? Find out in FOOL FOR YOU (Crush on You Book 1) from debut author Rina Gray...




About FOOL FOR YOU
Sports journalist Melanie Foster has achieved most of her goals: Bomb.com job—check. Tomboy-to-smoking-hottie makeover—check. Convince her best friend, Damien Richards, to slide a ring on her finger and father her two-point-five kids—not so much. When she activates Operation: I’m Gonna Make You Love Me, she never imagines her BFF already has plans to stroll down the wedding aisle with another woman.
Damien is in the middle of crisis mode. The non-profit for young athletes at which he volunteers is in financial trouble. He’ll pull out all the stops to rescue the organization that saved his life after his career-ending injury—even if it means sacrificing his personal happiness.
But when he finally wakes up to love and the very non-friendly feelings he’s long held for Mel, it might just be too late. Damien must convince her that he’s worth the risk and turn the tables to show her he’s the one ready to be a fool for love.

On Sale in Digital: July 18, 2016


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Grand Prize: 2 Winners Will Each Receive a Kindle Fire
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Excerpt:
She ran her fingers through her hair, exasperated by the turn in conversation. “I was a stupid girl in college. I told you how I felt, and you rejected me, patting me on the head like some little kid and then running off to your date.” She paced toward the kitchen. “Terrance is a lot of things. Back then I didn’t know it nor did you. He saw me crying on the couch and asked me what happened. Then he offered to take care of me.”

Damien watched her with a weird intensity, as if he were observing an unclassified species underneath a magnifying glass.
Despite the awkwardness, she couldn’t look away. Their silent exchange was not peaceful, but painful. A pain that manifested into a poison-tipped arrow and pierced her soul.

The tips of her fingers were numb. She rubbed her thumbs over her fingers and pulled back her shoulders, ready to kill the dead air. “Damien, I … ” Her voice box froze. Each ragged breath hardened into tiny icicles, leaving no room for words to escape. She drew a huge gulp of air and tried again. “I love you.” She licked her dry lips and corralled her courage. “I love you, and I always have. Since I was twelve years old, you’ve owned my heart. I don’t know why I did it. But he treated me like I was good enough. Like a woman.”

Stop it!” Damien swung his hand into a ceramic vase propped on the small, round coffee table, slamming it to the floor.

It’s the truth. And as stupid and immature and pathetic as it sounds, he made me feel wanted.”
Shut. Up. Melanie.” This time Damien’s tone slipped into a menacing, threatening rumble. He was a man on the edge. But like a shaken bottle of soda whose top finally popped, she couldn’t stop the words from bubbling over.

You have no idea.” She shook her head. “No idea what it feels like to burn for one person, one guy since you were a kid. And every time the guy chooses someone else, a piece of you dies. So,” she whispered, her voice hoarse and broken. “So when the guy you’ve wanted all your life, the guy you wanted to ask you to the dance, but never does, when he rejects you … but another guy, not the guy you want, but he’s nice and attractive and kind, asks you to dance, you take his hand and follow him to the dance floor.”

Her gaze fixed on the window above the kitchen sink. “You close your eyes and pretend the other guy is the one you want. And you convince yourself that it’s better than holding up the wall and staring while your guy, the one you crave, is holding someone else.”

Looking down at her feet, she rotated her ankle in a panicky rhythm. “I know you don’t love me … the way I love you. But I still stand by what I said earlier. If you continue to treat me badly, toss me away like I don’t matter, then I’d rather end it now. So what will it be?”

Her eyes sought Damien, who’d become quiet during her emotional vomit.

His bright, intense eyes swirled with something. Another something new, something she’d never seen before. Clenching his jaw, he looked down, grabbed the back of his neck, and shook his head once. Twice. He lifted his head, eyes meeting hers, and shook his head again, this time with conviction. “No. I don’t want to be your friend anymore.”

Her knees buckled, the pain too great. How she wished she could’ve loved him in silence instead of losing him forever.

She wanted … She needed … She craved …

Damien. Only and always, Damien.

Sniffling, she turned to leave. Nothing more to say. The door mocked her, telling her to make a decision. But this time, the decision wasn’t hers to make.

She twisted the knob to crack it open, but the door wouldn’t budge. Lifting her eyes, she realized the problem. His hands held the door closed above her head.
Does he want to watch me crumble?

Author Bio:


Rina Gray is one of the newest African American romance writers on the rise. She is also a digital marketing professional who discovered her love of writing in 2012. Writing has always been Rina’s passion, though initially, she tried to deny it. In college she served as the copy editor for the entertainment magazine and newspaper. During her tenure, she had the opportunity to interview various talented entertainers including Chris Rock and the cast from Reno-911.

Rina has always been an avid reader, sneaking to read her mother’s books she had no business reading i.e. Stephen King’s 
The StandIt, and Anne Rice’s various vampire series. As a pre-teen, she received a load of romance novels from a family friend and from that point on, she devoured any book related to romance or horror. When she’s not writing, she can be found with her head stuck in a book, kickboxing, or dominating game night with friends and family. Rina resides in Atlanta with her husband.

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