#Review of Unbreakable Hart by Karen M. Bryson! @karenmbryson #LoveinMidlife #ComingofMiddleAge

Contemporary Romance
Date Published: 12/15/2016
Publisher: Short on Time Books

Alexander Hart is leaving his hot young wife for an older woman…if he can score a second chance with his first wife after breaking her heart.

UNBREAKABLE HART is a love in midlife, second chance romance.

Alexander Hart’s gorgeous young wife, Stephanie, loves his platinum credit cards more than she loves Alex. She loves his credit cards so much she’s already maxed most of them out.
It doesn’t take Alex long to realize he made a big mistake when he dumped Amelia, his wife of twenty years, for a much younger woman.
When he leaves Stephanie after less than a year of marriage, Alex vows to do whatever it takes to win Amelia back.
But earning a second chance with Amelia won’t be that easy.

She’s moved across the country to start a new life, which now includes a relationship with a sexy young athlete.
And there’s Amelia’s utter hatred of Alex, and the fact that she’s vowed never speak to him again.

Even if he was the last man on the planet.

It’s going to take a lot more than Alex’s good looks and irresistible charm to heal Amelia’s broken heart.

Go BACK TO BOOKMAN with Karen M. Bryson’s #LoveinMidlife #ComingofMiddleAge romance series.

Each full-length novel in the LOVE IN MIDLIFE romance series can be read as a stand-alone or as part of the series. Each story features one of the graduates of Bookman College attending their 25th reunion.

CHAPTER 2
Amelia
I’m not sure why I’m even looking at the menu. I always order the same thing at Coffee and a Good Book. An iced mocha latte.
Out of the corner of my eye I spot someone approaching. He’s standing a little too close for comfort.
When I step a few feet away, he moves closer.
He’s blond and buff. Tanned arms so muscular they are practically bursting out of his Bookman Athletics Department polo shirt. He’s an Adonis in the flesh.
And much too young for me. He’s not a college student, but he’s not that much older than one.
“So what’s a guy have to do to get your digits?” he asks.
I raise an eyebrow. “Does that cheesy line ever work?”
He gives me a panty-dropping grin. “I got you to talk to me.”
“Talking is one thing. Getting my phone number is something completely different.”
He closes the small distance between us. He’s so close I can feel the heat radiating from his incredibly sexy body. I have to admit that I am very attracted to him despite our obvious age difference.
“Go out with me.” His penetrating blue eyes are filled with desire.
“I don’t make it a habit to go out with men I’ve just met.”
“Maybe this will convince you.”
He leans down and presses his delicious lips to mine. My entire body responds to the heat of his kiss.
“Did that persuade you?” he whispers in my ear.
“Yes,” I mutter still under his spell.
“Good.” He sounds so self-assured, almost cocky.
Why am I always attracted to the same type? My ex-husband was also utterly charming and frustratingly overconfident. That didn’t turn out very well.
I guess I don’t learn from my mistakes.
“The usual?” He flashes me a huge grin.
“Of course.”
“Meet you at our table.”
Caleb and I go through the same ritual once a week when we meet for coffee. He says it turns him on to pretend like we’ve just met.
Not that he needs much to turn him on. We’ve only been together four months and we’ve had more sex than my ex-husband and I did in the last year of our marriage.
Of course I didn’t realize at the time that the reason Alex wasn’t having sex with me was because he was interested in someone else.
He swears that he and Stephanie didn’t consummate their relationship until after we were separated, but I think that’s splitting hairs. Even if things didn’t get physical between them, there was definitely emotional infidelity.
I take a seat at a table near the back of the small coffee shop. Caleb and I meet for coffee on Mondays at eleven. It’s the only day I have off from work, and the place is usually dead at that time of day. Most of the morning customers have already gotten their caffeine fix, and it’s still early for the lunch crowd.
Caleb hands me my iced coffee then takes a seat across from me. He doesn’t actually drink coffee because he’s a health nut. So he buys himself a fresh squeezed orange juice instead.
I have to admit when we met I was shocked that he asked me out. He had just turned thirty, but looks like a twenty-five-year old. I’m forty-five, and feel every day of it.
I’ve been told I look good for my age, but not that good. Not twenty years younger.
When I laughed at him like his invitation was a joke, he was very persistent. He wouldn’t take no for an answer.
What I thought wouldn’t be more than a weekend fling is still going strong four months later.
“Do you have plans for tonight?” he asks.
“Dinner with the in-laws.”
There’s a flash of disappointment in his eyes. “I don’t know why you still call them that.”
“I don’t know what else to call them.”
I realize it’s not a typical situation to live with your ex-husband’s parents. But Alex and I were together for twenty years. I’ve known his parents longer than I knew my own. When my mom and dad died my senior year of college, Alex’s parents embraced me as part of their family. And as much as I know they love their only son, I also know his parents like me much better than Alex.
Henry and Willa were thrilled when I brought up the idea of moving back to Bookman to help them run the Bookman Inn. They immediately took me up on the offer.
After the ugly divorce I needed to get as far away from Alex as possible, and I wanted a fresh start.
“The Harts have done a lot for me,” I remind Caleb.
“I know.” He takes my hand in his.
He rubs my knuckle with his thumb. Even that small bit of contact makes me shivery. Whoever came up with the term sex on a stick surely must have had Caleb in mind.
Not only is he incredibly hot, he knows how to push all the right buttons.
“Have you given any more thought to moving in with me?” His eyes twinkle irresistibly.
Why does he have to be so tempting? His sex appeal and charisma are an overpowering combination.
“Think about how much more sex we could have if you were sleeping in my bed every night.”
I’m not sure how much more sex I can handle. He seems to forget that I’m fifteen years older, and I don’t work out for a living like he does.
“I’m still considering it,” I lie. We haven’t been dating that long, and I’ve been divorced for less than a year. I don’t want to rush into anything too quickly.
And if I’m being honest the age difference between us concerns me. Fooling around with a much younger man is one thing. Getting serious with him is another thing entirely.
“I do get you this weekend?” He sounds like a little boy asking if he can play with his favorite toy.
“Yes,” I assure him.
“You don’t want to go to your college reunion?”
I shake my head. I’d have to go through the humiliation of telling everyone that my husband left me for an adolescent.
No thank you.
“You know I’ll go with you if you want to attend.”
“I know. But I don’t want to.”
He grins. “Good. Because I have other plans. They involve you naked in my bed.”
I take a sip of my iced mocha latte to cool down. That’s how hot he’s making me, and we’re both fully clothed.
“Thanks for the coffee, by the way.”
“My pleasure.”
“Would you like me to leave a tip?” I offer even though I know he won’t take me up on it. He may be of another generation, but he’s definitely old school when it comes to dating. He doesn’t let me pay for anything.
He shakes his head. “I’ll get it.”
He reaches into the pocket of his khaki pants and removes a wad of dollar bills. Then he stares at them for several long moments while he gnaws on his bottom lip.
Caleb does have one tiny flaw. He’s not the brightest bulb in the socket. “How much should I leave?”
We go through the same thing every week. He has no idea how to figure out how much twenty percent of the bill is.
And we order the same items every time we’re here.
“Twenty percent of twelve dollars is two dollars and forty cents,” I remind him.
He nods. “That’s right.”
He removes three dollars from the wad of cash and leaves them on the table between us.
Apparently he didn’t have to be a math whiz to be a professional baseball player. He played in the major leagues for several years. Now he’s the assistant athletic director at Bookman College.
Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine myself involved with a jock. I was always the brainy one. The smart chick. I had already earned two Master’s degrees by the time I was Caleb’s age.
We’ve never had a discussion about it, but I think that may be one of the things he finds most attractive about me.
That I’m smart.
“Let me walk you back home,” he says.
The Bookman Inn borders the east corner of the very picturesque Bookman College campus. The small college town is idyllic, and was the perfect place for me to escape after Alex broke my heart, and my life fell apart.
The town hasn’t changed that much since I was a student here twenty-five years ago.
Even though the fall semester at the college has officially started it still feels like summer outside.
As we pass by the campus quad students are in shorts playing Frisbee and sitting on the lawn eating lunch.
Alex and I met when we were freshman at Bookman, and we got married a few years after we graduated. Nearly every memory I have of my years at Bookman somehow involve Alex.
Sometimes it’s still difficult for me to believe that he left me for another woman. I always thought stuff like that happened to other people, and that our relationship was different.
Not only was he my husband, he was my best friend. We grew into adulthood together, and I thought we’d grow old together. I think that made it even worse when he betrayed me.
Just the thought of ever seeing him again is like a knife through my heart. Fortunately he and Stephanie live in Arizona, over two thousand miles away.
Caleb stops right in front of the Bookman Inn. I live with Henry and Willa in their home which is located right behind it.
Caleb never goes inside Henry and Willa’s place. I know it makes him uncomfortable that I live with ex-husband’s parents. Whenever we go out on a date that includes an overnighter, I always stay at his place.
He pulls me close and kisses me. “I can’t wait for this weekend,” he whispers in my ear.
I must admit that it feels good to be so desirable to such a hot guy. Especially after Alex tossed me away like yesterday’s trash.
“I’ll be at your place on Friday night right after I get off work,” I tell him.
When he gives me another kiss my stomach gets fluttery. I feel like a teenager making out on the porch of my parent’s house.
Or in this case in front of my ex-in-law’s place.

 

Okay, a second chance romance with older characters?  Sign me up.  A book like this is catnip for me.  Especially when it’s the hero that realizes that he really, really screwed up and has to grovel throughout the book to win the heroine back.  But there was something that really nagged at me while I read the book.  And it has to do with the heroine.

I loved Amelia and I completely understood her thought process and reaction to Alex back in her life.  What I didn’t like was that once Alex showed up, she kept sleeping with Caleb.  Yes, I’m one of those readers that doesn’t like the hero/heroine sleeping with someone beside them in a book.  Now, that said, that part of the book is critical later in the book so I could bypass that in the book but in the beginning, I wasn’t buying it.

Alex is a joy.  I loved how he took Stephanie to task in the beginning and also how he handled her in the end.  Plus, how he and Caleb kept puffing out their chests to each other when they were around each other.  In fact, I actually find sad for Caleb.  He didn’t stand a chance once Alex came back but he did get a happy ending.  The epilogue is NOT to be missed.  Trust me…

This book had me laughing, sighing and generally feeling good once I finished.  This book is part of a series but you don’t have to read them in order.  It’s sensual in nature but I liked how Ms. Bryson approached the subject of sex and pregnancy in a middle aged couple.  She didn’t gloss over it and it was real.  Just like the emotions that Alex and Amelia went through in the book.

Oh…did I mention that there is a walk of shame?  I was howling.  Howling!

 

 

 

 

 

Karen M. Bryson ™ writes new adult, love in midlife, and contemporary romance with a little spice and lots of heart. She is a winner of the prestigious RONE Award for Excellence in the Indie and Small Publishing Industry. When she’s not at her computer creating spicy stories Karen likes to spend time with her husband and their bloodhounds. Karen is also an award-winning/optioned screenwriter. She writes under the pen names Savannah Young, Sierra Avalon, Ren Monterrey, and USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR Dakota Madison.

 

 

Contact Information

Website: http://www.karenmuellerbryson.com

FB: https://www.facebook.com/KarenMuellerBrysonAuthor/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/karenmbryson/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/karenmbryson/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/karenmbryson

 

Purchase Links

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Unbreakable-Hart-Love-Midlife-Book-ebook/dp/B01MXX86UY/


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#Review of The Rule Maker (The Rule Breakers #2) by Jennifer Blackwood! w/a rafflecopter giveaway! @jen_blackwood @entangledpub

The Rule Maker

by Jennifer Blackwood
The Rule Breakers #2
Publication Date: January 16, 2017
Genres: Adult, Entangled: Embrace, Contemporary Romance

BUY:

Synopsis: Ten Steps to Surviving a New Job:1. Don’t sleep with the client. It’ll get you fired. (Sounds easy enough.)

2. Don’t blink when new client turns out to be former one-night stand.

3. Don’t call same client a jerk for never texting you back.

4. Don’t believe client when he says he really, really wanted to call.

5. Remember, the client is always right—so you can’t junk punch him when he demands new design after new design.

6. Ignore accelerated heartbeat every time sexy client walks into room.

7. Definitely ignore client’s large hands. They just mean he wears big gloves.

8. Don’t let client’s charm wear you down. Be strong.

9. Whatever you do, don’t fall for the client. You’ll lose more than your job—maybe even your heart.

10. If all else fails, see rule number one again.

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MUSIC PLAYLISTThe Rule Maker by Jennifer Blackwood

Bad Blood- Taylor Swift
Neighbors Know My Name by Trey Songz
3:16 AM  by Jhené Aiko
Partition by Beyoncé
Wildest Dreams by Taylor Swift
Stay With Me Sam Smith
Want To Want Me by Jason Derulo
Pony by Ginuwine
Tonight (Best You Ever Had) by John Legend
Love Me Like You Do by Ellie Goulding

 

EXCERPT #3.
Chapter One
Rule #1: Never eat while driving.
There was nothing quite like indulging in pity I’m-single-on-Valentine’s-Day chocolate. No man candy? No problem. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups would surely fill the chasm that was my love life.
“Siri, read my emails.” I unwrapped the candy I’d stashed on my dash, plopped it in my mouth, and put my car into drive.
“You have one new email,” Siri replied. I loved my car for the sole reason that it had become my command station, my badass Batmobile that could answer emails, texts, and memos at a voice command. Okay, it was a Prius, but still. “Sender—Jason Covington.”
I jerked back in my seat and sucked in a breath, the chocolate hitting the back of my throat. No. For the love of all that was holy, why was this man emailing me? Anyone but him. I went to clear my throat, and the candy didn’t budge.
Crap.
“Ms. Reynolds, it was a pleasure doing business with you on the Culver Cove Inn late last year. I have recently purchased a new resort on Mount Rainier and would like to hire your services again,” she said in her monotone voice.
Goose bumps flecked my arms as I attempted to cough, to get some air into my burning lungs. I mean, if I had to choose a way to pass on to an afterlife filled with never-ending reruns of my favorite shows, self-filling coffee cup, and unlimited free wifi, death by chocolate was decidedly the best way to go. Chocolate fountain, satin pie, éclair…hell, I’d even settle for a Snickers. And, as fate would have it, I’d be taking a visit to the white pearly gates with a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup lodged in the back of my throat. But I still had seven episodes until I was caught up on Supernatural, and I hadn’t made it to the highest level in Candy Crush. I didn’t have time for dying yet.
My eyes filled with tears as I fought to extricate the candy from my mouth, attempting to give myself the Heimlich maneuver. And, if my burning lungs were any indication, failing miserably. I looked out at the sidewalk, and of course, at this time of day, there was no one in sight.
“I’ll need you to take measurements today so we can discuss the design on Monday. Keys will be sent to you within the hour. Best, Jason Covington.” There was a pause and then Siri asked, “Do you wish to respond to the email?”
No! I wanted to scream. Instead, salt and pepper particles invaded my vision. This was it, I’d die sitting in the spot outside my apartment, listening to an email from a stupid Covington. Even if this particular one wasn’t the target of my wrath, blood relation was enough to taint my opinion.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that. Would you like to respond to the email?” Siri repeated.
All I could do was keep pounding my stomach, cursing him seven ways to Sunday. I somehow managed a garbled noise that could possibly pass as a no.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that.”
Screw you, Siri. For what I paid my phone carrier, she should be able to give me a damn Heimlich herself.
My vision continued to fade and the clock was ticking as I choked my way into unconsciousness. This was it. My last meal had been screw-this-Hallmark-holiday candy and a friggin’ ex-fling was going to be seared into my final fleeting thoughts. What a way to go.
In a last ditch effort, I took hold of the steering wheel with shaking hands and rammed my stomach into it. The piece of chocolate shot out of my mouth and hit the windshield with a splat. It slid down the glass and left a brown slug trail behind it. Sweet, delicious air rushed through my now-clear windpipe and the particles swarming my vision dissipated.
I held my head in my hands, taking deep, shuddering breaths, and cursed the day I decided to take my client’s brother, Ryder Covington, to bed.

Three hours—and much-needed gulping of air—later, I parked my car, facing the snow-capped mountaintop that lay as a backdrop to one of the many ski resorts on Mt. Rainier. This one just happened to be closed for renovations. My renovations. And nothing made me happier than having my mind busy with plans for a new project. It even overshadowed the whole choking incident earlier.
I pulled my windblown hair into a messy bun, smoothed my black eyelet lace skirt, and glanced down at my list of specs I needed to acquire. Room layouts, size, supporting structures, the basics. Then, I had the simple task of creating mock-ups that blew the mind of Jason Covington, the most uptight, eccentric billionaire on the West Coast. He earned that title during our last job together. If I hurried, I could make it back to my apartment in time to implement my original plan for tonight: catch up on Supernatural while gorging on microwave popcorn. Maybe if I was feeling really wild, I’d go for the good stuff. The kind where the bag disintegrated into a sopping mess within twenty minutes due to grease concentration. This was obviously the makings of the best Valentine’s Day ever. Or most pathetic. I hadn’t decided yet.
Air gusted through my open window, ruffling my hair and the pages of my planner in the passenger seat. I took another few seconds to revel in the warmth and give myself a mini pep talk.
Time to get my butt into gear and turn on my designer mode.
Deep breaths. No need to panic just because of the little fact I was working on my ex-fling’s brother’s resort. Try saying that ten times fast.
I grabbed my camera bag from the floor of the passenger seat, plus my notebook and measuring tape, and kicked the door shut behind me.
Gravel crunched under my heels as I made my way to the main lodge. Normally I liked to go through the space with the client to get a feel for what they had in mind for the remodel. On my first project with Jason, he’d also asked me to scout the place without him. Weird, yes, but it didn’t surprise me that I was here solo for this project.
Bring it on, Jason Covington. I can take whatever you throw at me.
I’d managed to hold my own at the most prestigious firm in the city. I was totally ready for this project.
That was until I pulled open the door to the main lodge.
My breath caught in my throat. I’d like to say it was because the entryway was just that beautiful, but what lay in front of me was a chaotic array of chairs, paintings, and wood paneling that screamed seventies love children were conceived here. The seventies had a lot going for itself. I mean, there was Clint Eastwood, ABBA, Cher. This did not have any of that charm—it was just plain outdated, ugly-as-sin, burn-this-place-to-the-ground disgusting. I gulped, forcing stagnant, musty air down my throat.
My fingers ran over the burnt orange window casing as I eyed the suit of armor—missing an arm and foot, propped up in the middle of the room—along with the remains of a broken disco ball, shattered into thousands of pieces.
Design situation: nightmare
Designer emotion: tonight’s greasy popcorn would better serve as lighter fluid to torch this disaster to the ground.
Jason’s email failed to mention that I’d be getting asbestos poisoning and possible death by disco ball with one wrong move. No wonder he sent me to do this alone.
I coughed as I inhaled another breath of noxious air, and beelined for the first available window. After unlocking it, I tugged at the pane and tried to pull it open. It gave a protesting whine as I inched it up the track, and slammed shut when I let go.
I decided not to take that as an ominous clue that I’d entered some kind of resort of tortures, and instead scanned the room for something to prop the window open. After passing over a rusted brass candlestick and a fireplace poker, I settled on an old piece of firewood stacked in the corner. I slid it between the sill and the cracked wood and breathed in the fresh air.
Now that air circulated in the room, making it slightly more tolerable, I took my phone out of my pocket to snap pics for reference when I went back to the office to design the mock-ups…and okay, maybe text a few to my best friend Lainey, because she really needed to witness this hellhole. Just as I was about to click into camera mode, a call came through, Jason’s number flashing across the screen.
“Hello?”
“Ms. Reynolds. Are you at Divinity?”
“Yes.” I sat down on the windowsill, tucked my phone between my ear and my shoulder, and grabbed my pen and notebook in my purse. “It’s quite…something.” That was the only non-offensive adjective I had readily available at the moment.
“It is.” He paused and I heard the sound of papers shuffling in the background. “I expect you’ll have ample ideas for renovations.”
Burn it all! I ached to say, but I really liked my job and Jason wasn’t the sort to joke around, even in his best mood. “Of course. I’ll have designs ready for you by Monday.” I picked at a thread on my skirt and crossed my legs.
“I wanted to give you advance notice—”
His words were lost on me, because at that moment, something black and furry with eight legs skittered across the top of my skirt. A scream that could be heard from the other side of the mountain range ripped out of me, and at once I was on my feet, swiping at my skirt, hopping, cussing, regretting my choice of incredibly high heels.
I stared at the ground, frantically trying to find the culprit. He could have been anywhere. I shuddered.
My ankles buckled as I jerked in an uncoordinated, spastic version of an Irish jig. If I had a most-hated list, spiders took the number two spot, second only to clowns. And maybe this resort.
My pulse pounded as I twisted my skirt around. And a second time, just to make sure. No sign of my eight-legged nemesis. I looked around the floor. Nothing. He was here somewhere, hiding. I could feel his beady gaze on me, plotting my untimely death.
And then my ringtone began to blast.
Crap.
I’d totally just had a freak-out while on the phone with Jason. So much for acting like a twenty-four-year-old professional. I made a quick search of the ground and the windowsill for my phone and came up empty. I listened for the ringtone, tracking the sound…which came from a distance. I swallowed hard and peeked my head outside and looked down. Nestled between foliage of a bush four feet below, my phone continued to ring. And then cut to voicemail. Followed by another call.
I swallowed hard. The longer I took to answer Jason’s call, the angrier he’d get, and I wasn’t exactly winning any points at the moment. The phone was well within reach. It would have to be because if I were to go around the building, that would take at least a few minutes, and I already needed to do some major butt-kissing after screaming in Jason’s ear. I scanned the sill for any sign of the creepy crawly, and once I was satisfied that he wasn’t anywhere near me, I leaned out the window.
In a totally unladylike fashion that would have my aunt raising her brow at me, I reached over the sill, legs seesawing to steady myself so I didn’t face-plant into a flower bed. My skirt rode up way past acceptable as my fingers grazed my phone.
I wiggled on the sill, and just as my hand grabbed my cell, I bumped the piece of firewood and the window hit the small of my back with a thud hard enough to leave me fighting for air. I struggled to backtrack into the room, and the sill dug into my stomach, the weight of the window pressing into the top of my butt.
This was it. The resort had a death wish for me.
My phone continued to ring, and I had no choice but to answer it. “Mr. Covington. I am so sorry. I don’t know what came over me.”
“Are you okay?” His tone dripped with more irritation than concern. I’d expect nothing less from him.
I looked behind me at the windowsill. My body was effectively pinned down, the pane too heavy to lift from this angle. He’d be less than sympathetic for my situation. In fact, I’d witnessed him fire vendors for less stupidity than this. “Yes.”
Absolutely no need to panic. None at all. Not with a Chewbacca-level-hairy spider on the loose. I bet it made Wookie noises before sinking its fangs into its victims.
“I was going to tell you that I’m sending someone up there today—”
“Great.” I knew I was being rude, interrupting him, but I needed to figure out how to get out of this situation before I turned into a human popsicle. “Sounds wonderful.” A note of hysteria laced my words.
“Are you sure everything is okay?”
“Of course. I’m just enjoying this breathtaking view.” As the blood rushes to my head.
“It is quite beautiful. Well, I’ll let you get back to it. Have a good day.”
“You, too.” As I hung up, I twisted to assess the damage the best I could. Besides a most definite bruise forming on my lower back and a dirty smudge on my white shirt, nothing was broken or ripped. I sighed. How the hell was I supposed to get out of this?
As I saw it, I had three options:
a) pray that I suddenly developed telekinesis
b) somehow induce an adrenaline rush that would give me Hulk-like abilities
c) beg the Chewbacca spider to bite me so I could die a quick, painless death before one of Jason’s employees found me and reported back to him that I was completely incompetent
The first two options seemed a tad unattainable at the moment. The latter option erred on the side of melodramatic, even if this was a sucktastic situation. A tickle webbed across my calf, but I brushed away my paranoia. This would be totally fine. In the meantime, I’d just enjoy the beautiful scenery. While cursing this whole place.
After fighting a few more seconds and failing, I resigned myself to the fact that not even Crisco would get me out of this jam.
I did the only thing that seemed appropriate. Texted my best friend.
Zoey: SOS
Lainey: What’s up?
Zoey: I have a situation.
Lainey: …are you going for the suspense factor, cause it’s working.
I took a selfie and hit send.
Lainey: OMG. Are you…uh…stuck in a window?
Zoey: Yup.
Lainey: What the hell happened?
Zoey: This resort is alive and is actually trying to kill me. Tell my dad that I love him.
Lainey: Only if I get to keep the couch and your Chanel purse once you pass.
Zoey: You are ruthless.
Lainey: I can’t help myself. For real though, do you need me to come get you?
Zoey: No, one of Jason’s guys will be here later today. It’ll be embarrassing AF, but at least it’s not Jason, right?
Lainey: #truth Also, WTF is on your leg, dude?
My leg? I spread my two fingers over my screen, enlarging the picture I’d sent Lainey and froze at the sight of my hairy foe on my left calf.
No, no, no!
I thrashed and screamed in the sill, the window not budging even a millimeter. My scream echoed through the canyon, and if there was enough snow on the mountain, an avalanche would soon follow. Then, at least, I wouldn’t have to worry about the fact that Chewbacca was picking out china patterns for its new home. Sweat beaded on my brow as I continued to struggle.
Just as the initial sting of tears invaded my vision, the distant sound of gravel crunched from the direction of the parking lot. Thank the lord, my savior had arrived.
I could play this off as a total accident, right? Maybe bribe him not to tell Jason?
A tall, broad-chested figure limped down the path on a pair of crutches, and my stomach bottomed out.
Shit.
It looked just like…no…it couldn’t be.
My pulse pounded triple time in my temples as the crunch tap crunch tap crunch of gravel under his tread drew closer.
“Zoey?” a low, gruff voice asked.
No.
I’d recognize those wide shoulders anywhere. The backs of my legs knew them intimately.
Ryder. Freaking. Covington.
Okay, Chewbacca. Any time now. Sink those fangs into my leg and end this Valentine’s Day from hell already.
Ryder stopped a few feet from the window, looking like he’d seen the Ghost of Christmas Past coming to bite him in the ass.
“Yup. It’s me,” I said.
He quickly recovered, his lips curling into a smile I’d once found charming. “You know, there’s this thing called a door. Some people use it to go in and out of buildings.”
I flipped him off. Immature? Most definitely. I blamed it on the blood rushing to my head. And the fact the one-night stand I had with him was the reason for my current string of sexual encounters of the lackluster kind.
He’d ruined me, in the worst way, for all other men. I hated him.
He chuckled and the deep bass of his voice shook down my spine. “Fair enough. I deserved that. What are you doing hanging out of the window?”
“I’m stuck.” Understatement of the century.
“I figured.” He hesitated, looking unsure. “Want help?”
My first instinct was to blurt out “go to hell!” I didn’t need a goddamn thing from this person who single-handedly ruined my sex life. It was petty and I knew it, but a girl could only go so long on crappy sex before she started to feel a little stabby.
I instinctively reached to pull my skirt lower with one hand, and hit glass. It was up to the clothing malfunction gods at this point whether or not this day could get any worse.
“You want to keep burning a hole through my head or do you want me to help you?”
“Fine. But if you touch anywhere besides clothed areas I’m going to put my stiletto through your skull, capisce?” I managed to keep my voice authoritative and firm, nothing like the shakiness flowing through my body. That was how being around Ryder had made me feel from the first time we met—like I’d just come off an intense adrenaline high.
He put his hands up. “Wouldn’t dream of it.”
I sunk back down and rested my arms on the sill, waiting to be sprung from the window. I prided myself on being self-sufficient, never needing help from others, especially dirt-bag hookups. And yet here I was.
He moved closer until the soft fabric of his faded shirt brushed against my arm, and I bit back a gasp. His rich cologne mingled with his detergent, and my eyes rolled back in my head at the heavenly scent. Most men that I’d dated smelled good in that dude-musk sort of way. Ryder took it to a completely different level, one that induced visceral reactions such as drool and the sudden need to find something to do with my hands, anything so I didn’t fist his shirt.
Within seconds, he had the window open, and a firm hand wrapped around my hips. A wave of goose bumps bloomed across my skin as he pulled me down, depositing me on the gravel path, supporting me with his arm. I wobbled unsteadily in my heels and looked up at my ex-hookup, and the breath rushed from my chest like I’d actually taken a physical blow. Ryder stood there, henley pulled tight across his muscled chest. The color matched his ocean-blue eyes. He’d traded his clean-shaven face of a few months ago for a neatly trimmed beard that ran along his chiseled jaw. Which, let’s be honest here, the whole light-eyes dark-hair thing did it for me. A lot. I might dislike the guy, but holy hell, he’d gotten even hotter since I’d last seen him. He looked over me, assessing, and then quickly bent down and swatted my leg.
“Ow! What was that for?” I retreated a step, stumbling as I rubbed at the spot he’d hit. When my fingers hit a squishy mound, it took every ounce of self-control not to dry heave. “You killed Chewbacca.”
His brows creased, and some of the tension eased as he visibly hid a laugh. “You named him after a Star Wars character?”
I shrugged. “It seemed appropriate.”
I stood there for a few moments, unsure of what to do. Grab my keys from the lodge, book it out of here, and apologize profusely to Jason, or snap on the big-girl panties and continue taking measurements? Decisions, decisions.
I took another step back and bumped into the wall. I was just full of smooth moves today. “Well, thanks for that.”
His big, calloused hand brushed a stray lock of hair out of my face, sending heat radiating between my legs. His lips pulled into a smile, one that deposited my undergarments straight into the panty incinerator.
Nope, panties, no time for vaporizing. You hate him, remember?
My body was a traitorous wench.
I crossed my arms, trying to hold my ground. “What are you doing here, anyway, Ryder?” When Jason said someone was coming to Divinity, I didn’t think he’d meant his brother.
It was his turn to fold his arms over his chest. “Jason wanted me to check on a few things. I wasn’t expecting to have company.”
What he really meant to say: I really wasn’t expecting to see you.
“Same.” I stared down at my stiletto heel, digging it into the gravel. Birds chirped, wind rustled through the trees, and we continued to stand there in silence.
So. Freaking. Awkward. This could end any time now.
He cleared his throat and thumbed at the braided leather bracelet on his wrist. “Well, guess it’s time to go our separate ways.” He reached for a set of crutches propped against the building. And just like that, his smile faded, dismissing the incident, like he often ran into ex-hookups and saved them from dangling out of windows. Who knew—maybe he did.
I glanced at his leg, taking in the black boot encasing his leg.
Mr. Pro Snowboarder on crutches?
If I weren’t fighting the intense urge to impale him with my stiletto, I’d maybe consider doing the polite thing and strike up conversation. Ask how he hurt himself. But let’s be real, that wasn’t going to happen without the aid of a lot of alcohol, or a lobotomy. “Well, thanks for that.” I hitched my thumb toward the window. “I think you’ve achieved superhero status for the day.”
He grinned. “Good to know there are two in the vicinity.”
“Excuse me?”
He lifted a brow. “C’mon, I’d have thought the Flash would be better at getting out of tight situations. I’m a little disappointed.”
What the…? Why would he call me that?
I winced and groaned as realization hit. My red-zone laundry situation meant I’d snagged the last pair of underwear in my drawer—the Flash undies that I’d used under my costume junior year of college. It even had a bright yellow lightning bolt across the ass.
Lord hath very little mercy for me today.
“Ass.” I should have come up with a better comeback than that. I should have slapped that smug grin off his face. I should have done something. But all I could do was think about his bare chest hovering above me, his eyes blazing into mine as I lost myself in his touch back in November.
“Is that a reference to me or your underwear?”
Oh! The nerve of this guy.
By the time any semblance of a response surfaced in my mind, he’d already made his way up the path toward the front of the building. “It was a pleasure, Flash,” he called, waving one crutch, not bothering to look back.
The sun had moved and was now hidden by the tree line, forming shadows over Ryder’s retreating figure. A gigantic rain cloud glided across the sky with alarming speed, heading straight for the resort. Nothing on the weather forecast called for rain, but then again, when did I ever fully trust the weather app?
After I’d finished taking pictures and measurements of the main lodge area, Ryder had disappeared somewhere deep in the resort, and a storm had rolled in on the mountain. When I peered out the coke-bottle glass windows, snow came down in sheets, creating white-out conditions. There was no way I was leaving the resort tonight.
And Ryder’s car was still in the parking lot.

Okay, I knock the New Adult genre because I just can’t read about all the angst.  It depresses me.  My 20’s were fabulous and fun, so I want the books that I read to reflect that.  Low and beyond, Entangled Publishing has a line that I know I can read and feel good after I’ve read one of their books.  Sure, I’m sure that some of the books are angst filled but the ones from Ms. Blackwood and Ms. Yarros have made me swoon, sigh, laugh, cry and break my heart but in the end, they are books about people in their 20’s that are dealing with jobs, lovers, friends and finding themselves without their parents breathing down their necks.  Without the drugs, abuse, drinking, rock stars, etc.

I admit that I bought and read Lainey’s and Brogan’s book.  The writing, the laugh out loud moments, the characters and above the plot is realistic, sexy and romantic.  The same goes for Flash and Ryder.  Their book is just as good, if not a bit better but I do have some concerns.  Little ones but things that just nagged me in the end.

  1.  Jason and Ryder’s grandparents – Please for the love of God tell that they will get their due if we get a book about Jason.  They way they treated both of their grandson’s and eventually their mother…What a *itch!  I don’t have anything nice to say about them at all.  Especially with Jason.  Grr…
  2.  I would have liked to actually have read about the engagement of Lainey and Brogan.  We only see glimpses.  On the other hand, I loved that they were in the story.  I missed them.  Lainey is just laugh out loud funny.  Especially in the last scene with Ryder and Flash.
  3.   I wish Jitters was better behaved.  LOL!  Seriously.  What did a man every do to that cat?

Ryder and Flash were just perfect together.  The banter, the true friendship that developed between them and the lengths that both of them went to for one another.  If you are wondering why I keep referring to Zoey as Flash; read the excerpt.  That excerpt is a great example of their relationship and Ms. Blackwood’s writing.  It flows, it’s funny and snarky but in the end, she just nails the romance, but more importantly what a 24 and 25 realizes what’s more important…and that’s the love of another person.  *swoon*

Run, don’t walk to read this series.  Hell, pick up the other books in the Embrace line.  You won’t be disappointed.

And you’re welcome.  😉

DON’T MISS THE FIRST BOOK IN THE SIZZLING RULE BREAKERS SERIES!

The Rule Book

by Jennifer Blackwood
The Rule Breakers #1
Publication Date: May 9, 2016
Genres: Adult, Entangled: Embrace, Contemporary Romance

BUY:

Synopsis: Starr Media Second-Assistant Survival Guide
1. Don’t call your hot boss the antichrist to his face.
2. Don’t stare at hot boss’s, um, package or his full sleeve of tattoos. (No. Really. Stop!)
3. Don’t get on the malicious first assistant’s bad side.
4. Don’t forget to memorize the 300-page employee manual.
5. If you value your cashmere, steer clear of boss’s dog.
6. Boss’s dimples are lust-inducing. Do. Not. Give. In.
7. “The elevator ate your clothes” is not a valid excuse for showing up to important meetings half dressed.
8. Don’t break seven of the rules within the first week of employment if you, ya know, are in dire need of money to support your sick mom.
9. Whatever you do, don’t fall for the boss. See rule eight about sick mom.
10. Never forget the rules.
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ABOUT JENNIFER BLACKWOOD

Jennifer Blackwood is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance. She lives in Oregon with her husband, son, and poorly behaved black lab puppy. When not chasing after her toddler, you can find her binging on episodes of Gilmore Girls and Supernatural, and locking herself in her office to write.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Newsletter | Amazon Author Profile

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Guest Blog & #Review of A Wedding at Meadow Shores, My Sweetest Sasha & Petite Madeleine (Meadow Shores Series) by Eva Charles w/a rafflecopter giveaway!

 

Meadows Shore Series

by Eva Charles

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GENRE: Contemporary Romance

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BLURB:

Prepare to fall in love with the Claytons and Harringtons and their rich Portuguese heritage. A Wedding at Meadows Shore is the first book in the series. In it, you’ll meet the family and visit their beloved Meadows Shore nestled along the moody Atlantic in the charming seaside town of Fair Harbor.

It all begins with Sophie’s story, where she discards the past and learns to trust herself and others. The series follows the lives of her sisters and cousins while they, too, sort through their baggage and fall in love. Travel with them on their romantic journeys, stopping in rural Minnesota, New Orleans, and other enchanted places along the way.

They are wealthy and powerful, but suffer pain and loss much like the rest of us. Even great privilege can’t shield them from those experiences. But despite their wealth and power, I think you’ll find them approachable and down-to-earth—or as Cole Harrington would say: “We put our pants on one leg at a time, same as everybody else.” 

There’s an old Portuguese adage, “the rooster crows loudly, but it’s the hen who’s in charge.” And so it is with the Claytons and Harringtons: strong women, alpha males, and of course, Avó Angelina, the family matriarch who keeps them all on their best behavior. 

Bem vindo à família, Welcome to the family!

 

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Excerpt One:

A Wedding at Meadows Shore:

His voice took on a husky, seductive quality. “The women I date aren’t interested in my body, Sophie. What interests them is how I pleasure their bodies.”

She stared deep into his icy blue eyes and snickered.

Max never missed even the smallest of details. They were often the difference between success and getting your hat handed to you. Tonight, he noticed Sophie’s eyes betray her, even as she mocked him. Her pupils were dilated, the rich, whiskey-colored irises nearly overtaken by black. I have her attention.

Embolden by her body’s reaction, he took a step closer. He was so close that if she’d been breathing, her breath would’ve warmed his skin. “I can bring much more to your bed than my father does. So…much…more…” He drew out the words, emphasizing each in a voice that oozed sex. “And though I’m not an easy man to impress, I’m sure you’d have no trouble persuading me to finance your agency. None at all,” he drawled.

Neither of them spoke for a long moment, maybe two. The air was charged. The silence dangled between them like a ripe peach, fragrant and swollen, tempting the weakest among them to reach for it first.

“What do you think?” he asked softly, ending the silence.

While waiting for her response, a calculated kind of wait, he resisted the urge to lift his hand and run his fingers through the strands of hair that’d come loose, softly framing her face.

“I think you really are an ass.”

With that, she turned and walked away. Leaving him to gape at her magnificent back.

The Dirt on Writing a Series

 

Meadows Shore is the first series I’ve written, and while it’s been great fun, writing a series is rife with pitfalls. Some authors publish a book without thinking about a sequel, and it’s not until readers beg them for more, that they consider a series. I planned on a series from the beginning, and the ability to pre-plan has made the process far less complicated. But it still does take precious time, and a high level of organization to keep everyone and everything straight.

To maintain my sanity, and avoid getting myself into too much trouble, I keep an up-to-date series bible, a binder, in which I catalog character descriptions, traits, and other minutia. I do this for both the main characters, and for each of the supporting characters, many of whom, will one day have their own books. I also keep careful notes on places the characters frequent, where they live, work, and play. While maintaining the binder takes some effort and a great deal of discipline, having the information at my fingertips has saved me considerable time, and perhaps, some embarrassment.

There are dozens upon dozens, of small, seemingly insignificant details in every book that are easy for an author to lose track of. This number grows exponentially with each new book in the series. If readers fall in love with a character, they remember everything about them. Every single thing. While a meticulously kept series bible can save an author from making some blunders, it’s not entirely foolproof.

The trouble usually arises with a main character in a story, who was first introduced in a previous book. If a character makes even an off-handed comment, or behaves in a particular way in an earlier story, the writer is stuck with it for the entire series unless it can be easily explained away. Readers pay attention to everything, and they hold authors accountable, as they should.

The best part of a series, for both readers and writers, is that you don’t have to say goodbye to the characters you’ve fallen in love with. There are lots of opportunities to revisit beloved characters in subsequent books. Like my readers, I’ve enjoyed immersing myself in the family I’ve created, and their Meadows Shore community. It’s not unusual for writers to become attached to the characters they birth, and this is especially true in a series where one lives with the characters over an extended period of time. They take-up residence inside your head, and some of them find their way into your heart.

Writing the Meadows Shore series has brought me tremendous joy, and I will continue to write the books for as long as readers want to read them. Maybe even longer, because I’ve fallen madly in love with the place, and the charming characters that call it home.


Harlie here:  I will review the books individually but just a few things before I start. 

1.  This is a series.  You DO NOT have to read the books in order.  They stand alone but I read them in order.

2. At the beginning of each book, there is a family tree so you can remember who is who.  Trust me, with all those Harrington boys (cousins to the Claytons) and the Clayton women…you will need it in the first book.  After that, it’s easy. 

3.  These are grown-up romances.  In other words, The characters are firmly in their careers and the pecking order in the family.  Plus, these characters deal with real issues.  Issues that everyday people have.  Yes, they have money but they don’t flaunt it nor do they use it in ways that are for quick fixes.

4.  Ms. Charles has written a series that I would read until the end of time.  Her characters just fly off the pages.  You get into their heads and actually know what they are feeling.  They are in 3rd person present so the story just flows.  

5.  Lastly, the characters have sex.  I know, right.  But again, these are grown-ups.  They behave like grown ups.  They talk like grown ups and they deal with their issues as grown ups.  And yes, parents play a big part in the stories.

6.  All the characters show up in all the books.  The Harrington men are there for each other, through the good and bad.  They are tough on each other and put up the mirror to their brother’s face.  You don’t see that much in books.  Their love is fierce but they don’t take any bullshit either.  The woman are a hoot.  When you read the books, you will see that and agree with me.  Plus, it’s nice when they put their cousin’s in their place, too.  Strong women indeed.

Okay, now the individual reviews.

A Wedding at Meadows Shores (Max & Sophie)

Oh my.  Max is a handful.  A manwhore that isn’t ashamed but underneath all that sleeping around is a man that is lost, sad and desperately wants what his parents had.  And to make matters somewhat worse, after the death of his mother, his dad is dating.  Of course, he thinks that his dad is dating Sophie, calls her a gold digger and the sparks fly from there.

Sophie is a great character.  Strong, a fixer but has no one to fix her.  Yes, she has her male cousins (overbearing to a fault) and her younger sister but after a messy marriage, she longs for the love that her parents had, too.  She knows what she wants from a partner and finding it in Max is troubling.

This is a grown- up couple with issues that everyone goes through.  Trust, parents dying, having to pick up the pieces for your siblings/cousins and being strong throughout.  In that process, you lose yourself and will fight through the bowels of hell to find that someone to share it with.  Max and Sophie do that and more.  This is a gem of a romance.  Sophie’s cousins give him hell when he needs it but they also realize that Sophie is a grown woman that she will not be cuddled by them.

Overall, I loved the story.  Max and Sophie are perfect for each and start the series off with a bang.

 

My Sweetest Sasha (Cole & Alexa)

Cole (Sophie’s cousin) is in even bigger manwhore than Max.  Yes, trust me,  Read the book.  He is a piece of work.  One thing that he isn’t, a trauma surgeon that should be let go from the hospital.  Dedicated, treats patients and staff with dignity; just can’t keep in his pants.  He cracked me up in the beginning but then my heart would break for him a little at time when dealing with the emptiness.

Alexa, oh my.  She had to be the strongest woman or the dumbest (He He) to be able to bring Cole to his knees.  And yes, strongest.  She never thought that she was strong but watching her grow as a character in the book is a joy.  It’s refreshing to read when a character finds the strength within themselves and gives some of that strength to the person they love.  She did that for Cole and at that point, Cole is toast.

Theirs is a love story that is slow building.  Oh yes, the sex doesn’t happen until about 65-70% into the book but it is not needed.  Their romance is friendship based and Cole needed to learn that before the sex could happen.  Alexa needed to learn that Cole was true to his word and his love for her.

Overall, watching Cole fall was a gift that Ms. Charles gave me.  He didn’t have to grovel, make promises that he couldn’t keep but just keep doing the right things and behaving like a grown up.

 

Petite Madeleine (Derek & Cassie)

So now we Derek’s book.  Second chance love.  What could be sweeter?  Especially when Derek and Cassie never fell out of love with each other.  We get to know how they “broke up” and the why.  But captured my heart is the lengths that these two went through to be together again.  They didn’t let Derek’s depression or Cassie’s cancer stop them.  Okay, maybe a little but Ms. Charles deals with both issues gracefully and with great emotion.

This is most emotional of the books so far.  Sure there is humor but the issues in this book are well though out, emotional and tender, too.  The scene when they reconnect physically brings a smile and tear, too.  Beautifully written; raw, emotional and tender.  Derek just sealed his fate with me.  *swoon*  I also liked how when it came to the sexy times, that Cassie had to remind him how it was before in college and I had to giggle.  😉

Did I mention baseball?  Lord, how did I get this far and NOT mention that Derek is the General Manager for a MLB team.  That’s extra swooning for me.  I’m a HUGE baseball freak.  Yes, freak.  But that’s a whole different blog.  Any way, I liked how his job didn’t get in the way of his love for Cassie.   These two fought for the love that had before and they love that shared now.  It was a truer, purer love.

You really need to do yourself a favor and read this series.  I know, I’m a series whore at times, but I honestly haven’t read a series this great in a long time.  All three books are top notch with characters that I love and would read about until Ms. Charles is tired of writing them.  Her writing is flawless, the pacing is perfect and you can lose yourself in a book/series and never want to leave.

I can not recommend a book/series higher.

Deserves so much more. a 10 at least.

 

 

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

 

Eva Charles is the author of the multi-titled Meadows Shore Series chronicling the lives and loves of the Clayton-Harrington family. She invites you to visit their beloved Meadows Shore, nestled in the charming seaside town of Fair Harbor, where you’ll enjoy love, laughter, loyalty, and an abundance of mouth-watering food, Portuguese style.

After being a confirmed city-girl for more than thirty-five years, Eva moved to beautiful western Massachusetts in 2014. There, she found herself living in the woods with no job, no friends (unless you count the turkeys, deer, and coyotes roaming the backyard), and no children underfoot, wondering what on earth she’d been thinking. But as it turned out, it was the perfect setting to take all those yarns spinning in her head and weave them into a romantic tale.

 

When she’s not writing, trying to squeeze information out of her tight-lipped sons or playing with the two cutest dogs you’ve ever seen, Eva’s creating chapters in her own love story.

 

Website:   evacharles.com

 

Amazon author page:  https://www.amazon.com/Eva-Charles/e/B0140FZ442

 

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/evacharlesauthor/

 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14223913.Eva_Charles

 

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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE

 

Eva Charles will be awarding a $75 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
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