Category Thursday, Entangled, Excerpt, Giveaways, Meme, New Release, Playlists, Release Week, Reviews, Teaser Excerpts

#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

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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

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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

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#Review, Excerpt and Playlist for The Highlander Who Loved Me (Highland Hearts #1) by Tara Kingston w/a rafflecopter giveaway! @tarakingston115

The Highlander Who Loved Me

by Tara Kingston
Highland Hearts #1
Publication Date: December 12, 2016
Genres: Adult, Entangled: Select, Historical Romance

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Synopsis: He may be her fiercest ally…or a scoundrel waiting to betray her.Johanna Templeton is on a life-and-death quest. Swept into an intrigue that rivals the tales she pens, she joins forces with a Highland rogue to find the treasure that will save her kidnapped niece—a prize the Scot seeks for reasons that have nothing to do with ransom. Engaging the Highlander in a sizzling battle of the sexes, Johanna shields her heart.

Connor MacMasters, spy for Queen Victoria, is a man on a mission—keep a legendary gemstone from an evil man. Trailing an American novelist who holds the key to the treasure should’ve been simple, but Johanna awakens feelings he’d long thought dead. Torn between duty and desire, he wants her in his bed, but loving her would be a fool’s game. Blasted shame his heart doesn’t agree.

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EXCERPT #2:

“Will you please get dressed?”

Her breath caught as he reached for a length of plaid that lay carelessly strewn over a quilt rack.

“As ye wish.” With a bold wink, he wrapped the fabric around the lower half of his body.

“That’s better.” The words burst from Johanna. Suddenly, she could breathe again.

He leaned back, and his gaze sauntered over her. The heat in his eyes, nearly a physical touch, warmed her. Once again, her defiant heart beat a wild dance. Definitely not a waltz. No, this was a tarantella. Exhilarating. Thrilling. Utterly rebellious.

“Aye, ye are indeed a temptation. I’ve seldom seen a more appealing sight. Most women would don silk or satin or some ridiculous lacy get-up that left them half bare. But you…you, Miss Templeton…have chosen cotton from head to toe.”

“Oh, my.” Had the whisper actually made it past her lips? Mortification spiraled through her veins. She’d forgotten the matronly nightdress she wore.

“Ye’ve decided to maintain yer mystery.” The mischief in his eyes transformed into something far more dangerous, laced with desire and unspoken promise. He slipped his hands over her shoulders. The low rumble of his voice stirred a deep, languorous need deep within. “I like it.”

He was teasing her. Of that, she was quite certain. He was no fool. Surely he knew the truth of her purpose in his chamber.

But that did not dilute the power of his attraction, the magnetic pull of the hunger in those penetrating green eyes. She did not pull away. In truth, Johanna doubted she could’ve willed herself to reject his gentle touch. The beat of her heart punctuated each moment of contact.

He drew her close. His arms encircled her, and he pressed her to his body, to the hard length beneath the plaid that betrayed his most primal need. The flicker of amusement in his gaze had transformed into a far deeper emotion, a yearning that transcended the hunger of the flesh.

“Ah, ye are a bonny lass.” With one hand, he smoothed tendrils of hair behind her ear. “A temptation too sweet to resist.”

The heat of his body seared her. She should push him away. Really, she should. But some rebellious instinct deep within demanded she savor this moment. She’d never been in the arms of a man such as Connor MacMasters. Never luxuriated in the intoxicating essence of a vital, powerful male in his prime.

Never allowed herself to be swept away.

His mouth brushed her cheek. Skimmed her flesh with the gentlest of touches, with a seductive lack of haste, as if he drank in every moment of contact. Roaring currents of desire drowned out the feeble protests of her logical mind.

“I know what ye want, Johanna.” His words were a raw whisper. Ragged. Her name on his lips unfurled a deeper longing.

“How can you know?” she whispered. “I don’t understand myself.”

“I know what’s brought ye here…why ye’re in my arms tonight.” His warm breath tickled the curve of her jaw. He pressed a kiss to the tender spot at the base of her throat where her pulse throbbed. Pleasure raced through her veins, and she wanted more.

More of his touch. More of his kiss. More of him.

 

Tara Kingston’s Playlist for The Highlander Who Loved Me

  1.   Make You Feel My Love — Adele
  2.   Something — The Beatles
  3.   Open Your Heart — Madonna
  4.   Breathe — Faith Hill
  5.   Stay With Me — Sam Smith
  6.   Take My Breath Away — Berlin
  7.   Maybe I’m Amazed — Paul McCartney
  8.   Love Me Like You Do — Ellie Goulding
  9.   Skyfall — Adele
  10.  Unconditionally — Katy Perry
  11.  Nobody Does It Better — Carly Simon
  12.  Kiss Me — Ed Sheeran
  13.  I Choose You — Sara Bareilles

 

Oh my, my.  Victorian Romance?  Check.  Suspense/Mystery?  Check.  Scotland?  Check.  An American that is feisty, smart and thrown into a situation that she honestly thinks she can handle on her own?  Check.  A sexy Scot that I kept imagining NOT wearing a kilt?  Check.  That sexy Scot, Connor, can dirty talk to me anytime he wants?  Check.  Okay, maybe he didn’t dirty talk but he sure did know how to get Johanna’s motor running.  The smexy times were just awesome.

What was especially intriguing to me was the suspense/mystery element to the story.  Sure the romance was awesome and sexy but for me, it was how Connor and Johanna worked together to figure out the mystery, rescue her niece and all the while, falling in love.  The pacing of the story is great.  I don’t like a slow, historical romance.  I get bored and move on.  Ms. Kingston just kept the plot moving for me and having characters that I truly cared about and wanted together made it for me.

The secondary characters are a hoot.  I especially liked Connor’s family and I hope that his brothers get their own stories in the series.  Plus, now that know the musical playlist to this story…Ms. Kingston nailed it.  Just nailed it.  Beautiful music for a beautiful couple and story.  I normally don’t care about a playlist in a story.  I read in complete silence but this one touched me.  It is one of those details that some authors fail in.  She did her homework and I can’t wait to read more from her.

Overall, I highly recommend this story to anyone.  Oh yes, anyone.  It’s that good.

ABOUT TARA KINGSTON

Award-winning author Tara Kingston writes romance laced with intrigue, danger, and adventures of the heart. A Southern Navy brat transplanted to a quaint Pennsylvania town, she lives her own love story with her real-life hero in a cozy Victorian. The mother of two sons, Tara’s a former librarian whose love of books is evident in her popping-at-the-seams bookcases and collection of unusual bookmarks. It goes without saying that Tara’s husband is thankful for the invention of digital books, thereby eliminating the need for yet another bookcase.

When she’s not writing, reading, or burning dinner, Tara enjoys cycling, hiking, and cheering on her favorite football team. Learn more about Tara at www.tarakingston.com.

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#ARC Review of Love’s Undertow (For a Song #1) by Lorraine Britt w/a rafflecopter giveaway! @LBrittAuthor

Title: Love’s Undertow
Series: For A Song #1
Author: Lorraine Britt
Genre: Adult, Contemporary/Musical Romance
Published: November 10, 2016
After surviving her darkest hour, it was time for Noelle Thibodeaux to shake off the cobwebs of her previous life. She’d spent the last year as a glorified travel agent for the band her cousin managed, Eton Mess. Now Nile Thomas, the band’s frontman, is in dire need of a personal assistant. He can think of no one better than Noelle for the job. When her cousin calls and offers her the job, she jumps at the chance to pack her bags and make a fresh start.

Nile is impressed with how easily Noelle slips into her role, managing everything for him. But his tortured artist persona wears on her fragile and frayed emotions and their working relationship is less than ideal. Only once the rest of Eton Mess arrives on location, and Noelle instantly bonds with band member Nate Bridges, do things begin to look up for Noelle. Nile, however, is far from approving of their new found friendship and his displeasure hasn’t gone unnoticed. Noelle will do anything to prevent a rift in the band or damage to Nate’s friendship with Nile. The only thing she knows to do is put up walls and pull away.

Will Nate stand up and fight for Noelle? Can Noelle fight the darkness that threatens to swallow her whole? Or will their love be forever drowned by the undertow?

I nodded and focused my attention past Michael and Zach. When my eyes reached their target I felt everything around me disappear, except for the beautiful creature in front of me. He was tall and sinewy, broad shouldered with the chiseled body of a swimmer. His light brown hair hung in soft, shaggy waves just past his ears. I took in the kindness and gentleness of his face. He had the most stunningly beautiful eyes that were the blue of the ocean with a thin layer of brown circling the pupil. I could dive in and get lost in them. I felt drawn to him. I stepped away from Ross’s side and moved toward him, not missing that he began to move towards me as well. He reached a hand out to me and as I took his I felt an electric current shoot up my arm and through my body. I looked up at him in shock and knew from the look on his face that he had felt the same connection.

review

I have a few things to admit about this book.  First, I don’t read books with rock stars.  Yes, I’ve been a couple of friends that were in bands.  It’s not pretty.  Second, this book is extremely long and by 48% into I almost gave up.  Yes, gave up.  It seemed to drag on and on.  I hung in there and I’m glad that I did.  Third,  at times I felt like the book repeated things and I almost gave up.  Again, I’m glad that I didn’t.

Overall, I really liked the book.  I’m so invested in these characters that I can’t wait to read the next installment.  Speaking of which, they are A LOT of characters.  For me though, the story is about Noelle, Nate and Nile.  This is their journey through friendship, love, disappointment and redemption.  I wish I was the reviewer that gave out spoilers but I’m not.

I really felt like that even with all the secondary characters in the book enhance the relationships that occur between Nile, Nate and Noelle.  Fear not, this is not a love triangle at all.  Nate and Nile are best friends.  Noelle is Nile’s PA and falls in love with Nate.  This book is their journey.  Some parts are hard to read but realistically done.  The last 1/4 of the book, I just held my breath.  I cried.  Like, ugly cried over what Ms. Britt wrote.  (I don’t ugly cry in books.)  It left me breathless, grieving but also hopeful.

You really need to give this book a chance.  Just remember that there are a lot of characters, some parts (the middle) dragged a bit but the last 1/4 of the book is so worth it in the end.  I can’t wait to visit them again…and soon!

5harlies

recommend-harlies- new

Lorraine Britt is a fourth-generation Native Texan who is also immensely proud of her Louisiana heritage and solid Southern roots. As an enthusiastic lover of the written word, inspiration struck Lorraine and she began to bubble over with her own ideas. Grasping hold of her lifelong dreams, it wasn’t long before she was putting pen to paper and letting her fingers fly over a keyboard to bring her own characters to life. When she isn’t busy scribbling notes for her next idea you might find her whipping up delicious creations in the kitchen, putting miles on her car on road trip adventures, or snapping photos of her favorite rugby team on the pitch. Lorraine is equally passionate about music, movies and sports. You’ll no doubt find these familiar themes woven throughout her books. Lorraine and her family currently make their home in west Texas.
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