Release Blitz: Max and the Prince by RJ Scott

Title: Max and the Prince

Series: Bodyguards, Inc. #3

Author: R.J. Scott

Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance

Release Date:  March 27, 2015

Death visits the University and only one person stands between a prince and his life. The war veteran in the room next door. 

Bodyguard Max Connery is used to being mistaken for being younger than he is. Being carded every time he buys a beer is usual. Even though he’s just turned twenty eight and has two tours in Afghanistan as a pilot under his belt.

When a threat is made on the life of a prince attending University in the UK, Max is the perfect choice to blend in with students and to keep Prince Lucien safe. Even if it means joining the swim team to be by his side.

But, when death visits the University, abruptly this job is a long way past keeping the prince happy and safe. Instead Max has to keep Lucien alive.

“….Max and The Prince is a great read, the best in the series so far. I was gripped from start to finish. I think RJ Scott has excelled with this book….”

 

“This is the third of a romantic and thrilling series where each story just keeps getting better and better.” – Multitaskingmomma

“Don’t miss this one people, and if you haven’t read the first two in the Bodyguards Inc series they are a must also!” – Bike Book

“This is the most important case you’ve ever had!” The shouted words boomed into the outer office, and Max frowned at the anger and vehemence in them. Seemed the new client was giving Kyle Monroe, owner of Bodyguards Inc., one hell of a time.


Ross Jackson glanced at his watch. “I think you’d better go in,” he said, punctuating the words with a tap of his pen to his desk.


“Will Kyle want me in there yet?” Max tried to ignore his concern about this whole mess. He wasn’t the kind of person to unnecessarily stress about situations. No, Maxwell Connery was a get-things-done kind of guy and had absolute focus. But this bodyguard to a prince gig was worrying him. He didn’t know if the actual prince was beyond the door to Kyle’s office, since the raised voices belonged to Kyle and only one other. The curse words from the other man didn’t bode well, but neither did they sound like any kind of prince Max had ever visualized. Max had arrived a few minutes after the potential clients and now sat with Ross in the outer office while initial discussion was undertaken, which was par for the course, but that didn’t mean he hadn’t heard every word from the angry man inside.


And now it was Max’s turn for his part in this beauty parade. He was up on a close protection job for a prince. A real, honest-to-God royal from some country in mainland Europe. He tried to get information out of the normally verbose Ross, but he was being uncharacteristically quiet this morning. Max couldn’t believe that Ross didn’t know something about what was going on in there. After all, the PA to the owner of Bodyguards Inc. knew everything and could always be relied on to pass along something that would give Max the edge during the interview.


“Before I go in, you seriously know nothing about the client?”


“Nothing,” Ross said. “Big scary dude who’s with our client isn’t happy, though.” He inclined his head to the closed door that was doing little to muffle the shouting.


“Is it the prince who’s doing all that shouting?” No doubt Prince Whatever was a spoilt, entitled, upper-class twat who coasted through life with no worries.


Ross peered at the screen in front of him. “Nope, that is Teddy. He’s built like…” Ross waved his hands around. “He’s the royal bodyguard. And that’s all it says. Just Teddy. Looks like he wants to kill everyone.”


Teddy sounded like a weird name for the guy Ross described and the owner of the cursing, shouting voice in Kyle’s office. ‘Teddy’ brought up images of a cute guy with an adorable button nose on his endearing little face. But as Max pushed himself up to focus on the job at hand, he knew he was the last one to talk about appearances. He was twenty-eight, but he was still carded all the time.


“At least my name is kinda cool,” he muttered, more to himself than Ross.


“Sorry?”


“Nothing.”


Drawing back his shoulders, Max knocked on the door and waited for the “enter.” There was no shouting now, just a horrible cold silence. Max quickly assessed the situation in the office. He recognized Teddy the giant—broad, six eight at least, short to the scalp hair, a scar on his forehead, black suit stretched over his muscled frame, earpiece dangling on his neck, and a scowl carved into his expression.


Which meant the other one was the prince. Right? Didn’t look much like a prince, though. The man was slouched in the chair with familiar white leads from earbuds plugged into an iPhone. Max couldn’t see the prince’s face, hidden as it was by the hood on a bright sapphire Cardiff University sweatshirt. Baggy jeans and scuffed Converse completed the look of couldn’t-care-less rebel. Max could hear the music the prince was playing from where he was. Not the bones of it to recognize an artist, but the high tinny beat of the music that flowed in time with the tap of the guy’s left foot.


“Maxwell Connery, Theodore Estevan.” Kyle indicated the giant. Max held out his hand to shake and was treated to a quick once-over from Teddy, or Theodore, as he was being introduced. “And this is Prince—”


“This is your man?” Teddy interrupted with something akin to horror. He stood up so violently he caused his chair to skitter back and hit the wall. “This child?” Teddy’s voice held an inflection—something Mediterranean, maybe?—though it was mostly lost in the sheer dismay in the tone.


Max didn’t drop his hand, and whether Teddy couldn’t think of another reason not to shake it or he was just being polite, Teddy grasped Max’s hand with a quick squeeze that was probably supposed to underline Teddy’s intimidating size and strength. Teddy was strong, that was undeniable, but Max didn’t flinch.

“Mr. Estevan,” Max acknowledged.


Max waited for an introduction to the elusive guy under the hood. Instead Teddy grabbed his chair and sat back down. There was evidently no rush to include the prince in any of this, not that he seemed at all bothered. Apart from the tapping of his foot and the rhythmic rise and fall of his chest, he didn’t move an inch.


“Max is one of my best operatives,” Kyle said, his tone the same one he used when he was calming Ross down after a missing stapler incident, low and encouraging. Like if he said something in just the right way, the situation would be diffused.


Teddy sneered at Max. “You told me this Max was a pilot, ex–Air Force. I don’t see that in this kid.”


“I am former RAF,” Max said. “Ten years, including two tours overseas.” Max refused to be insulted by the open contempt and disbelief on Teddy’s face. If it wasn’t for one crashed plane and a faulty ejection seat, he’d still be flying, and he was proud of what he’d achieved in his time in the service. People could judge him harshly on his age, but not on his accomplishments.


Teddy huffed dramatically with an angry shake of his head.


“You can’t think I am handing Prince Lucien over to the care of someone as… little… as this man. What happens when someone attacks? Is he going to blow them over with a kiss?”


Max refrained from making a retort. He wanted to, but that wouldn’t be professional. No, he had to let Kyle lead this. But hell if he would forget that kiss comment. He’d find Teddy and knock all six eight of him on the floor, then stand and laugh. There was no adage more appropriate than “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.” Max might only be five nine, but he knew all the moves to bring tree-size men to their knees.


“I’d suggest you show my operative some respect,” Kyle began. Max cast his boss a quick glance. That kind of language didn’t get sales. Kyle’s words could provoke, and provoke they did.


Teddy stood up again, and Max winced as the chair smacked the wall hard enough to leave scuff marks.

 

 

“I will not be spoken to like that. Prince Lucien, we’re leaving,” Teddy announced theatrically with a wave of his hand and the press of fingers to hood-guy’s shoulder.


The hidden man moved away from the hand, and with an exaggerated sigh, he pushed back his hood and pulled out his earbuds. He stood up, but Max couldn’t get a good look at him because Teddy was in the way.

 

 

“You need to go outside, Teddy.” The guy’s voice was slightly accented but English enough that it was difficult to ascertain the country of origin, similar to Teddy’s. Prince Lucien sounded tired.


Teddy stood firm. “I’m not—”


“Teddy, I’ll handle this.”


“I don’t trust him, sir,” Teddy insisted.


“I know you’re only thinking of me, but please, Teddy, give me five.”


Teddy didn’t respond, but there was a visible tightening of his shoulders and he spun, deceptively graceful for such a big guy, to face Max. There was one final stern glare that dripped with so much warning Max nearly took a step back, then Teddy moved away and left the room.


For the first time, Max got a good look at the man who had been hidden under the hood. Dark hair, tousled and messy in that just-out-of-bed look, with bangs that dropped to his eyebrows. With the hair was the darkest of eyes, a rich chocolate brown. The man had cheekbones to die for and a wry smile on his face. He didn’t look like any kind of prince that Max had seen before, certainly not all spit-polished and serious like he’d expected.


Max couldn’t help himself, he smiled back and extended his hand. “Max Connery.”


“And I’m Lucien Magrello. Could I possibly have the room for a few minutes?” He addressed the second to Kyle, who looked at both him and Max with concern on his face.


Finally, Kyle scooted up from his chair and left the room, briefly squeezing Max’s shoulder as he went past.


“Please, Max, have a seat,” Lucien said.


“I prefer to stand, sir.”


“Call me Lucien. Please.” He didn’t make a move to sit himself; instead, he looked at Max with a considering expression on his face. “Do you swim?”


Max blinked at the question. Swim? Why was that important? “I swim,” he said. He tried not to let the uncertainty in his head filter into his voice. He’d been on several jobs with BI before, but he’d never been asked whether he could swim.


“How well?” Lucien tilted his head as he spoke, his dark eyes narrowing as he assessed Max. “I mean, you’re not tall, so your length would be less than…” He stopped talking, a sudden flush of color on his cheeks.


“I swim well enough,” Max answered.


“Well enough to be on a swim team?” Lucien was so earnest and so young. Max knew Lucien was twenty-five which made him only three years younger than Max. But the way he was talking now made, all eager and excited, made Max felt terribly old. A swim team? That would involve swimming fast and yes, he could swim, but he wasn’t the fastest or the best swimmer out there.


A full sentence didn’t immediately come to mind. “Uhm…”


Lucien huffed a laugh. “Actually, you don’t have to answer that. I mean, it’s the perfect way to keep close to me if you practice with the swim team. But your boss had the idea of you pretending to be my boyfriend so you can come watch me practice even if you don’t swim.”


“If it becomes necessary then that is certainly an option,” Max said.


“Because I won’t give up my swimming, okay? Whatever you say, however many times you lock me in a room, I will always find a way to get out and swim.”


Max nodded like he understood every word that had just been said to him. He was a good swimmer, strong enough to keep up with the other cadets at Cranwell, but Lucien was right. Max was short, which was a handicap against long, lanky Lucien.


“I’m sorry, I just insulted you,” Lucien interrupted Max’s thought process. “I can assure you I am normally better mannered; it’s just I’m not in a good frame of mind. If that is any excuse.”


“You didn’t—”


“I mean, you’re short, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t do your job, yes?” Lucien clapped his hand over his mouth. “I did it again.” The flush of embarrassment seemed to intensify, and Lucien added a frown for good measure.


“I’m five nine, which is actually about average, and yes, I can do my job.” That was the best Max could come up with at the moment. He’d always found honesty was the best policy.


“And about Mr. Monroe’s idea for you to pretend to be my boyfriend?”


“If that’s what it takes,” Max said.


Max swore he saw a flash of disappointment in Lucien’s eyes at his noncommittal answer, but it was so quick he couldn’t pin it down. He’d think on what it meant later.


“And, Mr. Connery, you will stop… everything?”


That Max couldn’t promise, not until he knew all the facts. “Why don’t we go over why you need a bodyguard—besides the obvious, of course—and then I’ll tell you what I can do.” He sat down in the chair the prince had suggested and indicated that Lucien should take the chair opposite.


“What do you need to know?”


“Tell me everything.”


Lucien glanced at the door, uncertainty on his face. “Shouldn’t the others be in here?”


Max shrugged. “Do they know more than you?”


Bitterness and sharp-eyed focus replaced the uncertainty and blushing. “Hell, no.”


Max sat back in the chair and forced himself to relax. “Tell me, then.”


“Where from?” Lucien did the opposite to Max and leaned forward in his chair, elbows on his knees and foot tapping to an unheard rhythm.


“The beginning.”


“Okay.”


Prince Lucien stopped for a moment, and his eyes lost that sharp focus. He was lost in memories and Max knew better to interrupt the flow. He just hoped that Kyle could keep Teddy outside for long enough that he could get a feel for whether he was a good fit on this case.


“I apologize for the way this story starts, because it’s a long time ago. And it isn’t excuses, but reasons. Is that okay?”


“Go on.”


“When I was five, my youngest brother was born. He was a beautiful baby, and I remember holding him when they brought him home.” A soft smile tilted his lips. This was clearly a very happy memory. “And I don’t mean for the official photos, I mean just holding him to hold him. He was so tiny, and I thought, ‘He’s the person I want to be good for.’ Right there and then I felt so empowered as a big brother I decided I would keep my room clean, not shout at my mum, the whole list of things kids do to test the limits. As far as I was concerned, Sebastian, or Seb as we all called him, would be my responsibility. My other siblings were older than me and away at school, and it would just be me and Seb for the longest time.” Lucien stopped for a moment and Max sensed this story was going somewhere very painful for Lucien.


Lucien sighed. “We were close, but he became ill, leukemia. He died when he was twelve.”


When Max had suggested Lucien start from the beginning, he hadn’t imagined it would go this far back and compassion welled inside him. Lucien had clearly adored his brother.


“I’m sorry,” he murmured.


Lucien sat quietly for a moment and didn’t look up to acknowledge the comment or make eye contact with Max. “There is a reason why I’m telling you this. You see, there are particular ways of reacting to things in my family. We stay quiet and we grieve privately. We don’t rant and rave at the world, we accept sympathy with grace and courage. But when Seb died, I didn’t… I went… I lost control of my life for a long time, drinking, partying, and having—” He coughed. “—an inappropriate liaison. Of which there are photos.”


“Photos of the drinking, or the liaison itself?”


“Both. The drinking my family could handle, but the, uhm… sex side of it was a bitter pill as it doesn’t look good.” Lucien air quoted the last words with resignation in his voice.


“Have you seen the photos?” Max prompted.


Lucien reached for an envelope on Kyle’s desk and passed it to Max. “In there,” he said.


Max opened the envelope and pulled out one photo just far enough to see a grainy shot captured with a long-distance lens of a man that could potentially be Lucien with what looked like another man. Very quickly he pushed the photo back into the envelope. “I don’t need to see any more. So this whole situation is about you being blackmailed for what? Being gay? Being caught on camera?”


“Kind of.” The way Lucien spoke told Max there was more to this than was obvious at first.


“Whoever’s threatening to expose you does realize this is the twenty-first century, right?”


Lucien colored, but at least he was looking at Max directly now. “In my family, my country… Look, the man I’m with in the photos is a government official, a married official. I promise you I didn’t know he was married… but I was… drunk… really drunk. I don’t expect you to understand, but my family is held to a higher moral standing.”


So Lucien believed that any family in the public eye should have higher moral standards than the rest of the populace. Useful to know.


Max was puzzled. “Do they have problems with you being gay?” Max couldn’t recall anyone in the British monarchy who was openly gay, but to be honest, he didn’t pay that much attention.


“They know that I am. They don’t—” He searched for the word. “—approve as such. But as long as I keep it all behind closed doors, it’s fine. After all, I have three older siblings who can take care of the family firm and the appropriate number of heirs.”


Bitter much?


“So, this government official, you think he is the one blackmailing you?”


“No, God no. The authorities went down that road and Edward denied everything and they couldn’t find any link or evidence.”


Max pulled his lower lip between his teeth and considered the information. Princely meltdown, photos, gay sex—none of it added up to Prince Lucien needing an actual bodyguard.


“There’s more, then,” Max said. There has to be.


Lucien shifted uncomfortably. “The first few notes arrived just after I was photographed with the man and they were sent to my parents. Imagine that? Your parents being sent incriminating photos of their quiet son. They were shocked, horrified, but they refused to negotiate with the blackmailer. They ignored them, and there weren’t any more threats, no more photos, and everything appeared to end. I just wanted to hand over any money they wanted, but my family wouldn’t let me, and it seemed they were proved right. Right then it seemed that whoever took the photos and threatened me had given up.”


“What do you mean, it seemed?”


“Because then they found the body.”


Lucien was growing agitated, twisting his fingers together, and he was no longer flushed with embarrassment but spiky with the beginnings of anger. A change of subject was probably a good idea.


“What body?” Max said.


“Wait, I have to get this straight in my head. I should start with university.” Lucien closed his eyes and looked to be getting his thoughts in order and Max had to hold back his instant state of alert at the mention of a body. “I decided I wanted to study in the UK, anything to get away from… everything. I’d already missed years by losing the plot, gap year from uni after gap year, always an excuse not to go. Then suddenly, that is all I wanted to do. My old tutor recommended Cardiff a long time ago when I was only twelve or so, something about the UK Universities having the best research facilities and Cardiff being a beautiful city. When I was applying I remembered what he said.”


“Not to mention it’s in a different country.” Max pointed out.


“Yes. I mean, at first my family didn’t like the idea of me moving so far away without a security team. Or without the pomp and ceremony of a visiting dignitary.” Lucien rolled his eyes. “But after everything I went through when Seb died, I think my parents finally came to the decision that any move to get my head out of my arse was a good one.”


Max couldn’t help the small snort of amusement. The word arse coming out of Lucien’s mouth was just all wrong. Lucien frowned momentarily at the snort but continued.


“So some years later than the other students I should have been with, I started my degree. I was registered as just Luke Magrello, the normal guy with the funny accent.” He pointed at himself and offered a wry smile. “Luke Magrello doesn’t need a bodyguard or any special treatment. The threats had stopped. Everything was quiet, and I wanted to blend in and be normal. I’m ashamed to say that I did my own bit of blackmailing by promising my parents to never drink again if they’d only let me study at Cardiff and live on campus and just be normal.”


“Okay, let me understand this. You’re a prince, royalty, but you imagined you could hide away and no one in the age of Twitter and Facebook would put two and two together?”


“Prince is a title, that’s all. My family doesn’t have the money one would think was attached to it. I’m maybe eightieth in line to the throne in the UK through my father’s side, but we’re not rich—in fact you could say we’re property rich but cash poor.”


Max couldn’t get any of that to make sense. Why was someone blackmailing a family with no money, and—wait, none of that answered his original question. “So why do you need a bodyguard?”


Lucien bit his lip. “I don’t think I do.” He held up a hand to stop Max from responding. “The letters,” he said. He passed over another envelope, and this time Max pulled out everything. Nine separate letters in individual plastic wrappers with the stamp of Cardiff police on three of them and a familiar country name on the other six. So that’s where Prince Lucien comes from. Envelopes were attached to each, but none had gone through a postal service as such. All hand delivered, then.


“They’re in order,” he said. “The first six were sent to my home before I moved here and when the police looked at them the first five were all linked by tone. Crude and sexual, whoever wrote these was after one thing, and they signed off OS. The sixth one is different. The first five had my parents demanding I had a 24/7 bodyguard, and there was no way they would have let me leave the country on my own. Look… you’ll see.”


Max read the first one, a letter of admiration and respect, albeit a short one. Nothing much that would ping his radar, apart from the fact the letter had been signed off with mine forever before the simple initials OS. It appeared all five of the letters ended the same way.


The second was a little more insistent, suggesting Lucien maybe hadn’t received the first, then apologizing for being a nuisance. Although there was no return address on the first, so how the hell Lucien could have replied even if he’d wanted to wasn’t clear.


“That’s just irrational,” Max murmured, more to himself than Lucien.


“It’s like he wanted a reply,” Lucien said. “I don’t get it either.”


The third was angry and said in no uncertain terms that Lucien should know better and where were his manners. Still irrational. The fourth was where it got interesting. Abruptly the writer was saying that Lucien wasn’t the man he thought he was, the man that OS, whoever OS was, had fallen in love with. The letter writer said there were photos and he would hate to see them released to the press if Lucien didn’t respond to the letters admitting he was in love with OS.


“That’s where I am thinking, respond to what? Is there something in those letters I should be seeing to know who to respond to?”


Max shook his head. “I don’t see anything. But somehow the writer thinks you should know him. Did OS seem familiar to you? Oliver, Oscar, something?”


“Nothing at the time, I promise you.”


“And the blackmail photos, I assume he means the ones I just saw.” He turned to the next letter and confirmed his own statement. Crudely stapled to the fifth missive was a black and white print of the blurred image Max had just looked at with the words You think I couldn’t give you this? All you needed to do was ask. Then written in block capitals, I will have you.


Lucien pointed at the writing. “We had checks done on printing and the tone of the words. All of the letters are a supposed match but because there is no part of it that is handwritten in cursive or script, we can’t get any more from them. The authorities couldn’t find anyone with the initials OS who had a direct link to me, but do you know how many people in my country have those letters in their name?”


Max glanced at Lucien, who was gesturing wildly to underscore the question.


“I can imagine,” he said.


The sixth letter was different. The paper quality better, and the words used less raw and more controlled. If Max didn’t know better, he’d say they were from a completely different person.


All it said was You don’t need to worry any more. I’ve dealt with him.


“The suspicion was that this was a different person,” Lucien said. “Then—” He squirmed a little in his seat. “—the police found a body in a burned-out car, a man named Oscar Sheiver.”


“You think that was OS?”


“His apartment wall was covered in photos of me, my family, and he had these printed wedding invites between me and him. All they could determine was the dead man, Oscar, had been murdered before being placed in the car, killed by several blows to the head. There was no evidence to link to who killed him, and for the longest time I thought my parents had cleared up the issue.” Lucien lowered his head. “I didn’t know what to think.”


“Okay, so letter six is someone admitting what they did,” Max summarized. “That they ‘dealt’ with OS.”


“That is what the police thought, but with no more leads, it was done. I sobered up, became more of who I should be, and applied for a university place here.”


Max turned to letter seven, the first of the ones with the Cardiff police station tag. I’ve seen what people are like around you. Be careful. The paper was again different, which ruled out a connection that way, but still, the tone of it was a warning and wasn’t threatening in any way.


“That was pushed through the door,” Lucien said.


“And you think it’s by the same person who might have removed OS from the picture?”


Max shook his head. “I don’t know. No one knows. It certainly looks like it, but it’s been so long since the first six letters, it’s anyone’s guess.”


If the author of the last letter six had followed the prince to his school in a completely different country, then it didn’t matter the tone wasn’t threatening. Not good.


Letter eight rambled on for two pages, all in capitals, talking of the kind of people that Lucien should watch out for: the teammates in the swim team who were lying to him and the housemates who wanted nothing from him but money.


“This seems pretty specific. Do you have a feeling that someone is lying to you on the team?”


“No.”


“And is someone in your house taking money from you?”


“No, nothing more than lending a fiver here and there,” Lucien said. “No one knows who I am apart from the uni authorities.”


Letter nine was on different paper, a pale yellow cheap stock from the weight of it. This was both somewhat of a threat couched in a demand for Lucien to ‘see’.


It ended with a strange sentence. I can’t always keep you safe, why don’t you see that? I need you to see or you’ll end up getting killed.


Just that. A simple collection of words that were stone cold in their finality and intent.


Max considered the last part: or you’ll end up getting killed. That wasn’t the same as ‘I’ll kill you’? The words were subtle in difference and it didn’t sit well with Max. “He or she didn’t say they would kill you, just that you’ll end up being killed. That suggests a dissociation from hurting you directly.”


“I can’t see the difference,” Lucien said. “At the end of it I’m dead, according to whoever wrote these.”


“You want my advice?” Max asked. He pushed forward before Lucien could say a thing. “Go home to the castle or palace or whatever with Teddy, and get as far from here as possible until the authorities track the letter writer down. If it’s the same person who dealt with OS and that person is here in the UK now, then you should be keeping your head down.”


“We don’t have a palace or a castle,” Lucien snapped. “And I’m not going home. That is exactly what my parents want. I’m in my last year, and I want to stay. The deal so I get to stay is that I have security. They sent Teddy over—he’s the head of security at home. But you’ve seen him with his best impression of a hairless Hagrid, and if he’s with me, nothing will be the same. I need someone who will just be with me. If I stay here, if I don’t want to go home, can you help me? Will you?”


Max glanced up from the letters to see the resignation on Lucien’s face. Lucien was expecting Max to say no. Vulnerability shadowed his eyes, and he clasped his hands together so tightly the skin was white. Max’s heart won out over his head. Lucien wasn’t arrogant or expecting Max to say yes, he was defenseless and scared. He might not be listening to Max’s advice, but that wasn’t what Max was here for. Max was merely the bodyguard.


“Let’s talk more.”

RJ Scott has been writing since age six when she was made to stay in at lunchtime for an infraction involving cookies and was told to write a story. Two sides of A4 about a trapped princess later, a lover of writing was born. She reads anything from thrillers to sci-fi to horror; however, her first real love will always be the world of romance. From billionaires, bodyguards and cowboys to SEALs, throwaways and veterinarians, she writes passionate stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and more than a hint of happily ever after.

 

 

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Release Blitz: Getting Lucky Anthology

Title: Getting Lucky Anthology

Authors: J.L. Beck, RD Berg, L.B. Dunbar, Rebecca Elise, Ashley Hampton, Kelly Moran, K. Renee, Mayra Statham, & Shantel Tessier

Release Date: March 15, 2016

Publisher/Cover Designer: Underdog Photography & Publishing, LLC

All proceeds donated to NAMI

(National Alliance on Mental Illness)

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anthology_label_novellas included

Worth the Chase by J.L. Beck

Unlucky in Love by RD Berg

Chance Encounter by LB Dunbar

Lucky Stud by Rebecca Elise

Love at Lucky Stables by Ashley Hampton

Lucky Me by Kelly Moran

Right Kind of Wrong by K. Renee

Lucky for You by Mayra Statham

Wish Me Luck by Shantel Tessier

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anthology_label_blurbs

Worth the Chase by J.L. Beck

Gia King and Chase Winchester come together in an explosive romance with one chance encounter at love. College, romance, and two families who were hell bent on being enemies. Can love between these two really transpire or will everyone else have the last say?

Sometimes you have to chase what you want.

Unlucky in Love by RD Berg

Two days ago Chloe James considered herself the luckiest woman alive, as she excitedly did the final preparations for her dream wedding. How did she end up in the back of an ambulance in her wedding dress with the brazen paramedic, Braden Dean, on her wedding night? Chloe soon discovers her luck well has run dry, and she just might have become Unlucky In Love.

Chance Encounter by LB Dunbar 

Liars and cheats, that’s what Americans were to me, Chance Fitzgerald. My first impression was a bit skewed then of Keli Donagel. She was breathtakingly beautiful, until I heard that damn accent. Nothing good ever came from the Americans I encountered, most of all those who possessed something I want returned. What a corker that Fate is, though? She had other plans for me.

Lucky Stud by Rebecca Elise

When Kurt Davis let Briony Jensen move in as a favor to his cousin, it was only supposed to be temporary. He never expected to fall for her, but he is determined to make her his.

Just when he thinks he is getting close, Briony drops a bomb on him, forcing him to make a a difficult decision. Does he let her go or beg her to stay?

Love at Lucky Stables by Ashley Hampton

Mystery surrounds Lucky Stables. Many, like Emily Lane’s parents, fell in love there. After tragedy struck, Emily ran far away,believing the stables were cursed. In Emily’s absence, Shane Patterson has stepped in to help Emily’s aging father. When Emily returns home, will Shane help her believe in love and luck

Lucky Me by Kelly Moran

Declan O’Leary’s family is cursed. For the past one-hundred years, bad things happen if they fall in love. So Declan lives his life onewoman at a time. Until he meets Lily Durand and he finds himself wishing for a forever that can never be. Yet their fate encounter and one week of sexual, intimate bliss just might be enough to turn his luck around.

Right Kind of Wrong by K. Renee

Dannicka Grady has no idea she’s in trouble. When her sister Sage sends in a friend to protect her, the sparks fly. Sawyer “Saw” O’Brien is a dirty talking biker, and Dannicka never expected to be drawn to a man like him, especially since their worlds are so different. Can Sawyer protect her and win her heart at the same time?

Lucky for You by Mayra Statham

Ready for a fresh start, single mom Keira Jennings has discovered a slice of in heaven in the mountain town of Whispering Springs,California. Police chief Rex Malone is smitten at first sight for the charming new resident of his hometown. After a routine stop sparks fly. Has Keira’s luck changed for the better? Or is Rex just like every man she’s ever met?

Wish Me Luck by Shantel Tessier

I’ve always considered myself a lucky man. Women and money both come easily. That is until I meet Ashlyn. What was supposed to be fun and simple turns hard and complicated. I’m Ryder O’Kane, and I have fallen for a woman who made one night more memorable than any woman before her. It’s funny how luck runs out when you need it the most.

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anthology_label_meet the authors

J.L. BECK

J.L. Beck is the best selling author of numerous books including Indebted, Inevitable, Invincible, and The Bittersweet Series. She’s best known for weaving a tale, that ends with your mouth hanging open, and your hands gripping the edge of your seat.

She’s a no holds bar author who enjoys spending time with her husband of eight years, three year old hellion, and soon to be newborn son Kolden, as well as Hatchi & Halo her two fur babies. She calls Wisconsin home, but loves to travel. In her free time you can catch her watching bad reality tv, cooking, reading books, or spending time outdoors.

 

RD BERG

RD Berg lives in the great state of Texas with her three boys who drive her to the brink of insanity most days. She loves to read, write and watch her two favorite shows, Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. When she isn’t enthralled with a novel or a gory show, you can find her in the stands loudly cheering on her boys at their basketball and football games. She has three strong beliefs in life; Vanilla cake and Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream should be a major food group, Halloween should be celebrated every month, and Harry Potter’s birthday should be a national holiday.

L.B. DUNBAR

I’d love to say I’ve written for 10,000 hours, and that makes me a pro. But I can’t say that. What I can say is I had a story in my head that wouldn’t go away. I thought typing it in my computer would be the end of things, but it only led to another story and another. I love reading, so characters in my head isn’t something new. What is new is my creation of them. Hope you enjoy my favorites as much as I do. Happy reading!

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REBECCA ELISE

Rebecca lives in Southeastern Pennsylvania with her daughter. She has a degree in Communications and Journalism with a focus in Corporate Communications and Public Relations.

Three things Rebecca loves are Coldplay, a bowl of half melted ice cream (any flavor!) and a glass of red wine. When she is not writing, Rebecca can be found with her nose in a variety of dirty romance novels, playing with her daughter or hanging out with friends and family.

While Rebecca has been writing for years, The Subzero Series is her first published work.

ASHLEY HAMPTON

Ashley Hampton works as a Licensed Psychologist in private practice during the day. When she leaves work, she puts on her writer and photographer hats and enjoys living in the worlds created in her mind. She lives near her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama with her cat, Gemma. Ashley wanted to find a creative way to meld her love for music and psychology with writing, and the Southern Rock Lyrics series was born. With other series planned, Ashley wants to write in the romance, erotica, and psychological thriller genres.

 

 

KELLY MORAN

Kelly’s been known to say that she gets her ideas from everyone and everything around her and there’s always a book playing out in her head. No one who knows her bats an eyelash when she talks to herself.

Kelly is a Catherine Award-Winner, Readers Choice Finalist, and earned one of the 10 Best Reads of 2013 by USA TODAY’s HEA. She is a proud Romance Writers of America member.

Kelly’s interests include: sappy movies, MLB, NFL, driving others insane, and sleeping when she can. She is a closet caffeine junkie and chocoholic, but don’t tell anyone. She resides in Wisconsin with her husband, three sons, and her black lab. Most of her family lives in the Carolinas, so she spends a lot of time there as well.

 

Join Kelly’s Street Team: https://www.facebook.com/groups/moransmoxies/

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K. RENEE

K. Renee is from sunny, California. Creative by nature, she decided to put her imagination to paper. K. Renee is an avid reader. During the day she works in an office and at night she writes. These stories have been in her head for years and are finally coming out on paper.

MAYRA STATHAM

I have always had an addiction to books. Once upon a time I wrote one, but was easily discouraged.

 

Today is a new day and have decided to put my work out there.

 

My first series is called 6 degrees of separation… basing it on the theory where we are all connected, even if at the moment we might now know it, later down the road we see it.

The first book of the series is Crown’s Chance at Love.

 

This is Sabrina Miller & Michael Crown’s story. A story about second and sometimes even third chances, because everyone deserves love. 

 

Join Mayra’s Street Team: https://www.facebook.com/groups/950235454992239/

SHANTEL TESSIER

Shantel is a Texas born girl who now lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma with her high school sweetheart, who is a wonderful, supportive husband and their three year old little princess. She loves to spend time cuddled up on the couch with a good book.

 

She considers herself extremely lucky to get to be a stay at home wife and mother. Going to concerts and the movies are just a few of her favorite things to do. She hates coffee, but loves wine. She and her husband are both huge football fans, college and NFL. And she has to feed her high heel addiction by shopping for shoes weekly.

 

Although she has a passion to write, her family is most important to her. She loves spending evenings at home with her husband and daughter, along with their cat and dog.

Join Shantel’s Fan Page:

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Release Blitz: Fractured Palace by R.J. Loom

Title: Fractured Palace

Author: R.J. Loom

Genre: New Adult Contemporary Standalone

Release Date: March 22, 2016 

They say home is where the heart is. 

Ashton Roberts never understood that saying. Heart couldn’t be found anywhere in the rundown bungalow she grew up in. It also couldn’t be found in the luxury estate she moved into when her mother married her stepfather. 

All Ashton wants is to get her degree, meet Mr. Right and find the happy stable life she never had. But when life constantly throws her curve balls, she begins to wonder if it really is just a pipe dream.

Until she runs into her former neighbor, Reed Collins.

As a child, Reed had always been Ashton’s silent protector. As an adult, he is everything she has ever dreamed of in a man. If only he didn’t keep her at arms length. But as things heat up, guards drop and secrets are revealed which toss Ash back into the turmoil surrounding a tragic event from her youth. 

Will Ashton let her past fracture the perfect picture of her future? Or will the meaning of loyalty, family and love be redefined?

After laying out rugs and putting away towels she began a battle with the packaging for the shower curtain rings. The plastic was sealed on all sides and no amount of tugging or biting at the edges would tear it open. She growled in frustration.

“Uh…Ash?” Reed chuckled from his bedroom. “You okay in there?”

Great. He heard her. “Yeah,” she called out. “I just can’t get this package open. Do you have any scissors?”

“Hang on…”

Ashton continued her fight then hissed as the plastic edge sliced into her thumb.

Reed appeared in the doorway and held out his hand. “Give it here.”

Happy to get rid of the stupid package, she tossed it to him, then stuck her thumb in her mouth to suck away the sting. As he began to struggle with the container, his eyes lowered to her mouth. They lingered there for a moment before he lifted them to meet her own. “Are you all right?”

She removed her thumb from her mouth and inspected it for any bleeding. “Yeah, I’m fine,” she dismissed, tucking her hand in her back pocket of her jeans as if she could hide the fact she was just sucking her thumb.

Fortunately, her slight embarrassment was short lived. With one last hard tug, the package popped open and shower curtains rings flew everywhere. They ricocheted off of the medicine cabinet, sink and walls before scattering all over the floor and in the bathtub. But it was the one ominous plop which came from behind her that was cause for concern. Reed must have heard it at the same time because he stepped forward just as she turned. A lone chrome shower curtain ring sparkled back at them from the bottom of the toilet.

Ashton swung her head around and locked eyes with Reed in alarm. “Injured,” she called out, thrusting her hand in the air as if she were holding up a free pass.

“Oh yeah?” Reed chuckled and raised a brow.

“Yeah.” She nodded solemnly, cradling her hand to her chest. The small, barely visible slice in her thumb had suddenly and conveniently become a grave situation. “I could contract MRSA or some other nasty infection.”

His eyes flicked down to her hands then back up to meet her gaze. “Well, we wouldn’t want that.”

“No, we wouldn’t,” she agreed, narrowing her eyes as a smile slowly crept across his face. The smile would not have been worrisome had it been a regular smile. No, this smile should have warned her to take a step back. Instead, she got lost in the way it reached his eyes and showed off his white, almost perfectly straight teeth.

“Good thing your other hand is fine,” he pointed out just as he lunged forward to try to grab her wrist.

“No!” She squealed, jumping out of the way.

He laughed and pushed one of his shirt sleeves up. “I’m kidding, Ash. I wouldn’t do that.” Shaking his head, he turned back to the toilet. “I’m going in.”

Ashton watched from the safety of the doorway as Reed swooped in to retrieve the shower curtain ring. He tossed it into the sink then washed it and his hands, going all the way up to his elbows. After he was done, he flicked water at her then grabbed a towel.

Reed’s eyes met hers as he dried his hands. Their laughter died off and silence stretched between them. Eventually, he cleared his throat and averted his gaze to the floor. A crease formed between his brows and she wondered what he could possibly be thinking.

“Ash …,” he began and lifted his eyes back to hers. In that brief moment, Ashton’s heart beat faster and she swore she felt some kind of connection with Reed she had never felt before. She wondered if it was her imagination or simply anticipation for what he was about to say. Most likely, it was a combination of both.

“Jackpot!” Danny announced from the bedroom, shattering the moment. “I found Reed’s spank bank!”

In spite of the horrible timing, Ashton could not help but burst out laughing. Reed groaned and stepped toward where she stood in the doorway. They both looked over to find Danny with a huge grin on his face as he held up a couple copies of some car magazine.

She shook her head and turned back to Reed. “You share a gene pool with that one.”

“Yeah,” he said, running a hand over the back of his head before he looked back over toward his room. “Hey, Danny. Why don’t you go outside, dig a hole, jump into it and bury yourself,” Reed suggested as if it were a great idea.

This only made Danny laugh harder.  

“I’m just messing with him, Ash,” Reed murmured in her ear before he stepped passed her.

She knew he had been but her curiosity over what he had been about to say made her reach out to grab his arm to stop him. “Wait, what were you about to say in there,” she asked, inclining her back toward the bathroom.

His eyes shifted from the bathroom over to meet hers. He smiled but it was nothing like the smile he wore only a few minutes earlier. This one was weak at best. “Oh…nothing important,” he said with a shake of his head. Hooking a thumb over his shoulder, he took a step back. “I better get back to this so I have a bed to sleep in tonight.”

“Okay.” Ashton released his arm and watched as he walked back into his room.

R.J. Loom was born and raised along the shores of Lake Erie in Ohio, where she still resides with her husband, two children and two spoiled dogs. She loves books, music, travel and anyone with a great sense of humor. When she’s not writing, she can be found with her nose in a book, looking for more books to add to her “to-be-read” pile or spending time with her family.

 

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Excerpt Reveal: Ride Hard by Laura Kaye

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We are absolutely thrilled to bring you the Excerpt Reveal for Laura Kaye’s RIDE HARD! A sexy romantic suspense, RIDE HARD takes you on a new adventure and kicks it into overdrive! RIDE HARD is set to release Tuesday, April 26th! RIDE HARD is the first novel in Laura Kaye’s highly anticipated Raven Riders Series. Make sure you pre-order today and get your special bonus story-more info on that is below!

 

RIDE HARD - cover

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Laura Kaye has something hot and fun and new to share with you today – a scene from her upcoming book, Ride Hard, the first in her Raven Riders Motorcycle Club series about a new kind of MC with a protective mission. You might’ve first met the Ravens in the Hard Ink world, but this series stands on its own and is even sexier, edgier, and grittier! So read on for a taste and see below for a free bonus story offer!

 

Excerpt from Ride Hard:

So much better out here,” Haven said, the night air cool against the tingling warmth of her skin. Although she was pretty sure that not all of the heat burning through her insides was from the alcohol—her unusual flirtatiousness and closeness to Dare over the past half hour had made her desperate with a heat that had nothing to do with her drinking game.

She walked to the railing and leaned against it, chuckling a little at herself for needing the support it offered. She felt so damn free, and it was a heady, exhilarating thing.

“What’s funny?” Dare asked, settling a hip against the railing right beside her. Arms crossed, jaw ticking with tension, dark eyes blazing, he was staring at her like he wanted to reprimand her or devour her. Oddly, neither alarmed her the way she would’ve expected it to.

Haven shook her head, leaning it back and letting her gaze float over the night sky. Blurry points of light swam in the moonlit heavens. It was beautiful and peaceful despite the pounding bass beat of music thumping from inside the clubhouse. “Not funny, just good. Happy, you know? Being able to do something a little . . . scary, but knowing I’d be safe doing it.” When Dare’s gaze narrowed, she shrugged. “I don’t know.”

A long moment passed before Dare finally spoke. “You are safe here, Haven. Never doubt it.”

Peering up at him, she nodded, all kinds of words sitting on the tip of her tongue, challenging her to let them fly. “It’s weird feeling safe—or at least safer—after a lifetime of not. It makes me want to try things I could never let myself try before. It makes me . . .” She shook her head and dipped her chin.

Dare stepped closer, his thighs coming up against her hip. He lifted her chin and made her look at him. The contact combined with the command in the gesture lanced white-hot desire through her veins. “Makes you what?”

“Want to feel alive,” she whispered, her heart suddenly racing in her chest.

Dare’s jaw ticked again as his gaze swept over her face. She didn’t think she was imagining the raw emotion pouring off of him and wrapping around her, but she wasn’t sure if she was reading that emotion right or projecting her own desire onto him.

“Do you feel alive, Dare?” she asked, the alcohol flowing through her and the night spinning around her like she was walking through a dream.

“Jesus,” he bit out.

The rough desperation in his voice made her wet between her legs. “Just once,” she whispered, not sure what she was asking him for.

But he seemed to know. Because his hand was suddenly tangled in her hair and his mouth was suddenly on hers, claiming, probing, tasting. Haven moaned and parted her lips, inviting him deeper.

Dare jerked back from her, his fingers rubbing roughly over his lips. “Fuck, I’m sorry.”

On instinct, Haven’s body pursued his, pinning his back to the railing. “Please don’t stop,” she said as her hands gripped his shoulders. She had the strongest urge to climb him, to wrap her legs around him, to grind against the hard bulge pressing electrically against her belly.

“Please,” she whispered, tilting her mouth toward his. “I liked it.”

Dare’s hand cupped the back of her head. “You’re killing me.”

“Dare,” she said, her body restless against his.

In a move that sent the world spinning, he flipped them around so that she was the one pinned against the railing. He pushed his legs between hers and leaned down over her, forcing her to arch her back, to yield, to open to him.“Tell me what you want from me. Say the words,” he said, his eyes absolutely on fire.

Her heart was a runaway train in her chest, frantic and picking up speed. The thought of giving voice to her desires was terrifying and thrilling and dizzying all at once.

“I want your mouth,” she said. The words sounded odder out loud than they had in her head, but they were more accurate than asking him to kiss her—because her mouth wasn’t the only place she wanted his.

“Jesus,” he rasped again, his mouth coming down on hers once more.

The whimper she released was part relief, part anticipation. It had been so long since she’d kissed someone that she felt a little uncertain, but Dare’s intensity barely allowed her the capacity to worry about it. He was like a dark storm bearing down on her, relentless, magnetic, all-consuming.

Rough callouses from his hands scratched against her cheeks as he guided her. Hard breaths spilled over her lips, and the wet slide of his tongue tasted like whiskey and desire and man. Her hands found the soft length of his hair, and her breasts pushed against the hard plane of his chest.

Then her lips were freed as his mouth slid over her skin—exploring her cheek, her jaw, her ear, her neck. He hiked her up to sit on the wide railing, the move surprising a gasp out of her, especially as he crowded the space between her legs, pushing himself closer, bringing his erection against the place between her legs craving friction, hardness, so much more of him. Maybe even all of him.

One strong arm wrapped around her back and held her steady, while the other hand stroked her hair, her face, her breast. The soft groans and breathy grunts spilling out of him were delicious and thrilling, and bolstered her confidence that she wasn’t the only one losing herself in this moment, in these touches. She almost couldn’t believe this was happening, and part of her was certain she must be dreaming. Because Haven Randall didn’t have beautiful things in her life. At least, never before.

 

 

Get a FREE bonus story from Laura’s Hearts in Darkness world for buying RIDE HARD before April 30!

 

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About Ride Hard (Raven Riders #1):

Brotherhood. Club. Family.

They live and ride by their own rules.

These are the Raven Riders…

Raven Riders Motorcycle Club President Dare Kenyon rides hard and values loyalty above all else. He’ll do anything to protect the brotherhood of bikers—the only family he’s got—as well as those who can’t defend themselves. So when mistrustful Haven Randall lands on the club’s doorstep scared that she’s being hunted, Dare takes her in, swears to keep her safe, and pushes to learn the secrets overshadowing her pretty smile.

Haven fled from years of abuse at the hands of her criminal father and is suspicious of any man’s promises, including those of the darkly sexy and overwhelmingly intense Ravens’ leader. But as the powerful attraction between them flares to life, Dare pushes her boundaries and tempts her to want things she never thought she could.

The past never dies without a fight, but Dare Kenyon’s never backed down before…

 

 

Laura Kaye - author picAbout Laura Kaye:

Laura is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over twenty books in contemporary and paranormal romance and romantic suspense, including the Hard Ink and upcoming Raven Riders series. Growing up, Laura’s large extended family believed in the supernatural, and family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses cemented in Laura a life-long fascination with storytelling and all things paranormal. She lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and cute-but-bad dog, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.

 

 

 

Website | Facebook |Twitter | Newsletter Sign Up | RIDE HARD on Goodreads

 

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Release Blast: Ignite by Karen Erickson

Meet the Author:

USA Today bestselling author Karen Erickson writes what she loves to read – sexy contemporary romance. Published since 2006, she’s a native Californian who lives in the foothills below Yosemite with her husband and three children.

She also writes new adult romance as NYT & USA Today bestselling author Monica Murphy.

Connect with Karen: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Newsletter

About the Book:

Series: Wildwood Book 1
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Release Date: March 15, 2016
Page Count: 169 pages

Weston Gallagher is falling hard—for the wrong woman.
One night of passion has haunted him for years.
Now he’s got a second chance to get the girl of his dreams…but there’s just one problem:
She hates him.

Eight years after he stormed out of Wildwood, California, West has returned to his hometown as a firefighter. His friends and family are thrilled he’s back—with the exception of Harper Hill. His sister’s best friend is all grown up and in all the right ways. He knows she’s going to do everything she can to protect her heart and keep him at arm’s length, but West has other ideas.

He will win the girl that got away. No matter what it takes…

Buy From: Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Amazon (CA) | Amazon (AU) | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play

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I remember exactly what you felt like in my arms, that night I kissed you,” he continued. “What you tasted like. The sounds you made. How you’d clutch me closer every time I tried to pull away.”

She dipped her head forward, her eyes tightly closed as she remembered too. The way he felt, the sounds he made, the way he tasted. He shifted closer, his mouth—oh God his mouth— was right at her nape, his hands resting lightly on her hips. “I’m curious to see if it’s still just as good between us,” he murmured against her skin, his warm lips making her shiver.
His hands on her body and his mouth moving against her neck made her want to melt. It was going to be good. So good she would probably combust at first touch of his mouth on hers.
“Turn around, Harper,” he whispered into her hair, and she opened her eyes, turning slowly so she could face him. Her knees were so wobbly she leaned against the front door so she wouldn’t fall to the ground in a boneless heap. West stepped into her personal space, his big hands braced against the door on either side of her head, his intense gaze zeroed in on her lips. “I didn’t plan on this happening tonight.”
“Plan on what happening tonight?” she asked with a slight frown. Oh God, maybe he didn’t want her after all. Maybe he was trying to let her down easy? She should’ve just left. It was complete torture, knowing he was most likely going to say something nice so he wouldn’t hurt her feelings. She held her breath, waiting for the inevitable blow.
“This.”
His lids lowered as he dipped his head, his mouth landing on hers and her eyes slid closed once more, relief flooding her as she automatically reached for him, looping her arms around his neck. He didn’t touch her, his hands remained on the door, but his mouth did wondrous things. Soft and seeking, warm and damp, his lips brushed against hers once. Twice. She parted her lips beneath his the third time but he didn’t take it any deeper. No, he was slow, methodical, purposeful. Learning her, driving her out of her mind.
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My Review:🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Just gotta say:  wow.  If Karen Erickson weren’t already on my one-click author list, Ignite would definitely secure her a spot there.
Told in duel POV, Ignite is an up-all-night, pins-and-needles type of read: sweet, smokin’, and poignant in turn.  Our hero, West, is a sweet, sexy, smokin’ hot firefighter who’s always been a rebel and is still a tad reckless.  Not to mention seriously regretting the night he finally gave in and made a move on his little sister’s best friend, Harper, right before he blew town.  Once again: firefighter *swoon*.
Our heroine, Harper is the town sweetheart, and has always had a thing for Wildwood’s prodigal Gallagher, from long before he skipped town, and no matter how hard she tries, she can’t deny still wanting him bad.  And she’s finally decided to take her turn at playing wild-child, specifically for the man she’s always wanted and always known that she can’t have.
Ignite is not to be missed, and I for one, am already chomping at the bit for the next installment of the Wildwood series!
GIVEAWAY:

Karen’s publisher is giving away a $25 gift card (Amazon, B&N or iBooks) to one randomly chosen winner.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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Release Blitz: The Other Side of Gravity

 
The Other Side of Gravity
by Shelly Crane
 The Oxygen Series, Book One

 

Goodreads Link: http://bit.ly/1NTsnHw

 

 

My name is Maxton and I’m a trader.
 

 

I live on a soulless planet where gravity, oxygen, and everything else are sold to the highest bidder on the black market. People are sold on the black market, too. You have to work really hard not to become one of those people. Pay your taxes, keep your friends and family close, and more than anything else—don’t get caught by the Militia. But all the rules changed for me the day I found her.
 
My name is Sophelia and I’m a stowaway.
I’ve been a slave for almost as long as I can remember. Waiting for the one day, one second, for my proprietor to turn his head so I could run and never look back. Now I’m on the run. And on a planet where no one is on your side and people would turn you in for a good meal or a piece of a silver, being on the run on Landu is the last place you want to be. Until he found me.
 
I won’t survive without him.
 
I can’t breathe without her.
 

 

“This’ll work. Thank you, Maxton.”

My eyebrows lifted. “You got some mind
powers I don’t know about?”
She gave me a funny look, but added a
small smile. That smile… Holy. Wow. “You gave me your shirt. Unless you’re also
a slave, you have your own clothes.”
I absentmindedly reached back to rub the
tag with my name in it on my shirt. “That’s right. Sorry. And what’s your
name?”
“You want to know my name?” she barely
whispered.
I grinned. “It’s only fair.”
She took a breath, looking at my mouth for
a moment. I wondered the last time that anyone had smiled at her.
“Sophelia.” She laughed once, but it was
more of sadness than anything funny. “I haven’t said my name in years.”
That rocked me to my core. “What did your
proprietor call you?” And I immediately regretted that question.
She smiled, but again it was the opposite
of her actual emotion. “You don’t want to know.”
I gulped, knowing I needed to get away
from her.
Right now.
“Hey, I’m sure you’re tired. Why don’t you
take a nap or something while I go get my work done? When you wake up, we’ll be
there.”
She must have noticed the off
change in my tone, but just looked at me before going to my bed. “Okay.” She
laid down, facing the wall, and sighed so deeply. “A bed,” I heard her mutter.
“Wow, I’d forgotten.”

I left without another word.
I leaned against the wall outside my room,
the back of my head to the wall, and stayed there for a minute. A couple of
Havard’s regulars walked by, but I said nothing to them. He always had workers
here and there, but I was his right hand and everybody knew it.
I went up to the top floor, pressed my
thumb to the scanner, and went inside. Havard used the old technologies. He
said it was cheap and gave the illusion of safety. If someone was dumb enough
to crack through his security, then they’d meet their maker soon rather than
later for being than dumb.
“Havard!” I called.
“Get in here, boy. Maybe we want to
postpone our shipment for a day.”
“What?” I said, the shock evident in my
voice. There was no reason I could think of that Havard would make his
shipments late. None. Except silver.
“A slave escaped.”
I schooled my face. I was good at that. I
crossed my arms. “So. Slaves escape sometimes. Who cares?”
“Someone apparently. This slave is worth a
pretty silver.” He flipped the screen hanging over his desk around so I could
see it. There she was. The redheaded beauty. And next to her face was a number
I never thought I’d see in my lifetime.”
I gulped. “Why is she worth so much?”
“Why does it matter? I bet if we stayed a
night longer, was a little late on our shipments, we could find her. I’ll split
the finder’s fee with you.”
That silver…would change my life, would
change so much for me. Could I really let one conversation with this girl take
away everything I’ve worked my whole life for?
I steeled my back and face, thought about
the one girl who did mean something
to me back home. This girl on this ship meant nothing to me, but that girl back
home was my life. I barely knew her anymore because I’d been gone so long, but
she was everything and I needed this money to save her. I remembered that as I
uttered my next word and condemned the girl in my room to hell.
“Funny this should pop up on your screen,
Havard.” I grinned my best evil grin. “I was just coming to find you.”
He grinned back, not knowing why, but
knowing he was about to make some silver. “Why was that?”
“The girl?” I nodded toward the picture.
“She stowed away in the ship.” I leaned in with my knuckles on his desk. “She’s
in my room, right now.”
“You’re joking,” he barked.
“About silver? Never.”
                 He
leaned back and smiled before jumping up from his seat. “Let’s go, crook.”

 

Shelly is a NEW YORK TIMES & USA TODAY
bestselling author from a small town in Georgia and loves everything about the
south. She is wife to a fantastical husband and stay-at-home mom to two boisterous
and mischievous boys who keep her on her toes. She hoards paperbacks, devours
sweet tea, searches year-round for candy corn, and loves to spend time with her
family and friends, go out to eat at new restaurants, site-see in the new areas
they travel to, listen to music, and, of course, loves to read, but doesn’t
have much time to these days with all the characters filling her head begging
to come out. She is author to over twenty books and counting!

Her own books happen by accident and she revels
in the writing and imagination process. She doesn’t go anywhere without her
notepad for fear of an idea creeping up and not being able to write it down
immediately, even in the middle of the night, where her best ideas are born.

 

 

Release Day Launch: 1001 Dark Nights Bund

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We are absolutely thrilled to bring you the Release Day Launch for 1001 Dark Nights: Bundle Four! 1001 Dark Nights: Bundle Four is brought to you by 1001 Dark Nights. The Bundle contains 6 novellas, including 2 novellas from 1001 Dark Nights Discovery Authors, K.L. Grayson and Mari Carr! This is one hot bundle. Grab your copy today!

 

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Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

About 1001 Dark Nights: Bundle Four:

From New York Times and USA Today Bestselling authors Carrie Ann Ryan, Heather Graham, Kristen Proby, and Cherise Sinclair, and introducing K. L. Grayson and Mari Carr…

Six Dark Tales. Six Sensual Stories. Six Page Turners.

Every Dark Nights tale is breathtakingly sexy and magically romantic.

 

Experience the 1001 Dark Nights: Bundle Four Here…

 

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WICKED WOLF by Carrie Ann Ryan

Gina Eaton has always known fate can be tricky, but when she finds the one man that could be her mate, she might throw caution to the wind. Quinn Weston puts his whole being into two things: the safety of his Pack and his son. When the two Alphas put Gina and Quinn together to find a way to ensure their treaties remain strong, fate has a plan of its own.

 

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WHEN IRISH EYES ARE HAUNTING by Heather Graham

Devin Lyle and Craig Rockwell are back, this time to a haunted castle in Ireland where a banshee may have gone wild—or maybe there’s a much more rational explanation—one that involves a disgruntled heir, murder, and mayhem.

 

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EASY WITH YOU by Kristin Proby

With a murderer terrorizing the Tulane University campus, Asher Smith finds himself toe-to-toe with the one woman that haunts his dreams. Lila Bailey has fought for every good thing in her life during every day of her thirty-one years. Aside from that one night with an impossible to deny stranger a year ago, Lila is the epitome of responsible. When some of her female students are viciously murdered, Lila’s shaken to the core. But when Lila becomes the target, can Asher save her in time?

 

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MASTER OF FREEDOM by Cherise Sinclair

Detective Atticus Ware needs a woman to give her heart as well as her body. When Virginia Cunningham is invited to observe BDSM classes on a wilderness camping trip, she’s shocked—her fiancé had insisted BDSM was a fabrication to sell books. But when Atticus lures her into participating, she learns submission under the hands of a powerful Dom is beyond anything she’d imagined.

 

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LIVE WITHOUT REGRET: L.O.V.E. by K. L. Grayson

How can those four letters cause so much pain? Everyone talks about how great love is, with all the flowers and the butterflies, but that wasn’t my experience at all. Love wasn’t something I wanted or even needed. But then Connor Jackson came into my life.

 

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OFF LIMITS by Mari Carr

According to the bro code, enacted by Evan Sparks and Logan Grady years ago, sisters are out. However, Lacy Sparks isn’t about to let a silly boyhood pact stand between her and the man she’s wanted for nearly twenty years. She’s waited long enough. Logan thinks she’s too sweet to give him what he needs. He’s about to learn as far as Lacy’s concerned, in bed or out, nothing is off-limits.

 

 

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About the 1001 Dark Nights: Bundle Four Authors:

Carrie Anne Ryan - author picCarrie Ann Ryan:

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Carrie Ann Ryan never thought she’d be a writer. Not really. No, she loved math and science and even went on to graduate school in chemistry. Yes, she read as a kid and devoured teen fiction and Harry Potter, but it wasn’t until someone handed her a romance book in her late teens that she realized that there was something out there just for her. When another author suggested she use the voices in her head for good and not evil, The Redwood Pack and all her other stories were born.

Carrie Ann is a bestselling author of over twenty novels and novellas and has so much more on her mind (and on her spreadsheets *grins*) that she isn’t planning on giving up her dream anytime soon.

Visit Carrie Ann’s website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Heather Graham - author picHeather Graham:

New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Heather Graham has always been an avid reader, from classics to sci-fi, mystery, horror, thriller, romance, and all kinds of non-fiction. She’s fairly certain that her mom’s deliciously crazy family–arriving in the US a bit before her birth from Ireland–gave her the love of storytelling. She started out in theater and commercials, but once her children began to arrive, she stayed home and gave writing a try. She’s incredibly grateful to be doing what she’s doing for a living. Heather belongs to MWA, RWA, Sisters in Crime, HWA, and ITW, and has the recipient of the RWA Lifetime Achievement Award, a Silver Bullet for charitable works, and this year, she will receive the Thriller Master title from ITW. She has over 200 novels in print, and has been published in 22 languages.

Visit Heather Graham’s website and follow her onFacebook and Twitter.

 

Kristen Proby - author picKristen Proby:

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

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

Visit Kristen Proby’s website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Cherise Sinclair - author picCherise Sinclair:

Having to wear glasses in elementary school can scar a person for life.

Dubbed a nerd at an early age, Cherise Sinclair has been trying to live up to the stereotype ever since. And what better way than being an author?

Known for writing deeply emotional stories, the USA Today Bestselling Author has penned sixteen erotic romance novels, most with a BDSM theme. (Please do not mention the phrase mommy porn in her presence.) Her awards range from a National Leather Award to a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice nomination to a GoodReads BDSM group award for best author of the year.

Cherise lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband. Their two fledglings have left the nest recently to try their wings and hopefully will fly high and strong. The “ascendant erotica queen” (Rolling Stone Magazine) now spends her days writing with occasional supervision from a sadistic calico cat.

Visit Cherise Sinclair’s website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

 

KL Grayson - author picK.L. Grayson:

K.L. Grayson resides in a small town outside of St. Louis, MO. She is entertained daily by her extraordinary husband, who will forever inspire every good quality she writes in a man. Her entire life rests in the palms of six dirty little hands, and when the day is over and those pint-sized cherubs have been washed and tucked into bed, you can find her typing away furiously on her computer. She has a love for alpha-males, brownies, reading, tattoos, sunglasses, and happy endings…and not particularly in that order.

 

Find K.L. Grayson on her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Mari Carr - auhor picMari Carr:

Writing a book was number one on Mari Carr’s bucket list and on her thirty-fourth birthday, she set out to see that goal achieved. Too many years later, her computer is jammed full of stories — novels, novellas, short stories and dead-ends and she has nearly eighty published works.
Virginia native and high school librarian by day, Mari Carr is a New York Times andUSA TODAY bestseller of contemporary erotic romance novels. Join her newsletter so you don’t miss new releases and for exclusive subscriber-only content.

Find Mari on her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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