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Happy Release Week to A Cowboy’s Pride (Rocky Mountain Cowboys #4) by Karen Rock w/an excerpt & #giveaway! @karenrock5 @HarlequinBooks @PrismBookTours

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A Cowboy’s Pride
(Rocky Mountain Cowboys #4)
by Karen Rock
Contemporary Romance
Paperback & ebook, 384 pages
September 1st 2018 by Harlequin Heartwarming

Old wounds run deep

Only the truth can heal them…

Rancher Cole Loveland has no interest in dredging up the past, but his ex-fiancée, Katlynn Brennon, has other plans. To save her struggling TV show, she’s come back to Colorado to investigate the infamous Cade-Loveland feud. Trusting Katlynn again isn’t easy—she’s already chosen her career over Cole once. But he’s beginning to realize that true love, like legends, never dies.




“I forgot how beautiful it is up here!” Katlynn called down to Cole, pausing to watch the sun’s golden orb break across the pink horizon.

Fingers of light probed the valley at their feet. Rays gilded the majestic peaks in the distance and illuminated the sea of trees waving below. There was a magical quality to a Colorado Rockies’ sky that stirred something in her. The sky was bluer than blue, the air fresher. Cleaner. She’d forgotten how heights like this exhilarated her. At this elevation, the weight of her life, her troubles, her worries, dropped away, sandbags cut from a rising balloon.

“I haven’t.” Cole lowered himself onto the thick branch, his back against the trunk. Gripping her hand, he guided her down in front of him so their legs dangled in the air, swinging. His strong arms wrapped around her. They made her feel feminine and safe against his powerful breadth.

She angled her face and caught his stare. “You’re not even looking at the view.”

“I’m looking at you. There’s nothing else I’d rather pay attention to.”

She planted a kiss on his lightly stubbled chin. “It feels so good to be back home.” The wind flowed more briskly up here, swaying the smaller branches overhead. “And didn’t we used to climb higher than this?” she asked.

Cole peered up. “Yep.”

“Guess we were more agile then.”

“Or had less sense.”

She laughed. “True. But I like this spot. Let’s carve our initials in it. Leave our mark.”

He swept her hair from her shoulder and dropped his chin to it, snuggling her close. The warmth of his body seeped through the thin cotton of her shirt. “You’re so beautiful. I haven’t been able to think of anything but you since you came home.”

Her cheeks flushed as he lowered his lips to her neck and trailed kisses to the sensitive skin just beneath her ear.

She ran a hand through her hair. “I’m sure I look a mess. I didn’t have a chance to brush my

hair, put on makeup—”

“You look like heaven to me, Katlynn.”

The sound of his deep, raspy voice sent her heart careening in her chest. She closed her eyes and gripped his knees. “You called me Katlynn.”

His mouth was working magic on the curve of her neck, sending goose bumps down her arms.

“Watching you at work, seeing your professional side,” he murmured against the hollow at the base of her throat. Her pulse throbbed. “It’s impressive. You’re good at your job. Guess I’m getting used to Katlynn.”

“Can you care for her?” She twisted around to better see his face.

“I love her,” he said simply. He looked down at her with a smile so genuine and full of emotion that it stole her breath.

“I—I love you, too.”

Joy exploded on his face. “You make me so happy.” He took her in a needful kiss, leaving her weak-kneed and giddy. Her mind spun a dozen ridiculous what-if fantasies.

What if they got married like she’d wanted? A big wedding, full of friends and family, one where they’d broadcast their love, not keep it only to themselves like he’d wanted… And then what if they had kids? Two. No. Three. And a dog… Cole would ranch and she—she’d do what? Her happy thoughts wobbled. Raise children? Keep house? Those were important responsibilities, and extremely rewarding, but somewhere, deep down, a sense of claustrophobia squeezed the thought. Would such an insular world be enough?

“God, I missed you,” Cole murmured against her temple when their lips drew apart. “Every day you were gone was a drop down a dark well.”

Years of longing and regret brewed in her belly. “I missed you, too.”

“We’re soul mates.” He rested the side of his head atop hers when she faced forward again. “Destined to be together. The only question is how?”

I have to admit that I’m conflicted when it comes to this book.  On one hand, the romance was a bit bland for it being a Loveland book but the mystery is brilliant.  Let me explain.

  1.  Mystery – Perfection.  Finding out about the feud once in for all and seeing the conclusion was exceptional.  Did it fix anything?  Not really but at least we know the what, why, when and how to it and I can’t wait to read in future books the repercussions and how it will all work out.
  2.  Second chance romance – There are two in this book.  Joy Cade and Boyd Loveland, the ill-fated couple from the past to their rekindling romance and marriage.  OMG!!  Their love story is epic.  To finally hear what exactly happened to them when they were younger just broke my heart.  I had tears and after all the books before, I really wanted to slap every one of their children for the treatment of their romance.  These two never fell out of love with one another but their children were just too caught up in the feud to see that.  The second romance is Cole and Katie Lynn.  This one felt a bit flat for me.  Why?  Because of Cole.  I really wanted to not just slap him but hit him in the face.  I get the whole she left but he never quite got the “why” she left.  It wasn’t about him but her.
  3. Katie Lynn – She had so much growth to go through before she could truly be with Cole in the end.  Body issues.  Career issues.  Somewhat ashamed of her upbringing but in the end, she finally decided what she really wanted out of life and it was touching.  The interactions with her family were great.  She needed to see that despite what she thought, they were proud of her and what she had accomplished in her life.
  4. Cole – Again, this man.  Ooooo!  He really needed to get over himself and in a hurry.  He almost let the best thing in his life walk out AGAIN!!!  In the end, though, I liked him but he still has some growing to do.  Especially with his own family.  And that’s all I’m going to say.
  5. History – OMG!  Finding out about the stone and where it had been all this time.  Wow!  Just wow!  Ms. Rock did an excellent job with this aspect of the story.  I really felt sorry for Maggie and how she was treated not only in the past but also in the future.  Someone needed to pay and I believe they did.

Overall, I really liked the book.  Just because we find out the mystery and how it was solved by Katlynn, doesn’t mean its over.  There is so much more than the feud over water.  What’s going to happen now that both families know about it?  What is going to happen if a Loveland marries a Cade?  And no, I’m not talking about Joy and Boyd.  There is definitely a couple that has been brewing since the beginning.  Ms. Rock has done it again with the Loveland’s and Cade’s.  I can’t get enough of them.  Just don’t wrap it up too neatly.  I believe there are still more mysteries to solve.



Other Books in the Series

About the Author

Award-winning author Karen Rock is both sweet and spicy—at least when it comes to her writing! The author of both YA and adult contemporary books writes sexy suspense novels and small-town romances for Harlequin and Kensington publishing. A strong believer in Happily-Ever-After, Karen loves creating unforgettable stories that leave her readers with a smile. When she’s not writing, Karen is an avid reader who also loves cooking her grandmother’s Italian recipes, baking and having the Adirondack Park wilderness as her backyard, where she lives with her husband, daughter, dog and cat who keep her life interesting and complete. Learn more about her at http://www.karenrock.com or follow her on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/karenrock5.


Tour Schedule

September 4th:
Reading Is My SuperPower
Katie’s Clean Book Collection
Jorie Loves A Story
Deal Sharing Aunt
September 5th:
Hearts & Scribbles
The Power of Words
E-Romance News
Andi’s Book Reviews
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Thoughts of a Blonde
Harlie’s Books
Getting Your Read On
It’s All About the Romance
A Slice of Life
September 7th:
Rockin’ Book Reviews
Teatime and Books
Handcrafted Reviews
Splashes of Joy
September 8th:
Locks, Hooks and Books
Book by Book
Busy Bumble Bee Book Reviews
September 9th:
Grand Finale

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Happy Book Birthday Week to Wild by M. Malone & Nana Malone! #contemporaryromance @givemebooksblog @minxmalone @nanamalone



Title: Wild
Authors: M. Malone & Nana Malone
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: August 14, 2018




Talia Hamilton has one mission. To have fun in college and for once, break out of her shell. So who does she end up dancing with on her first night clubbing? Cage Ward, the star of all her high school dirty dreams and the only man to ever break her heart.So much for breaking free.

Cage Ward should be enjoying the single life. But all it takes is one kiss from a mystery girl on the dance floor and he wants to brand her as his. That is…until he realizes the sexy girl with lips to tempt and a body for sin, is his best friend’s little sister. The same girl he just promised to keep his hands, lips, and dick off of.

So much for friendship.



Purchase Links
Will be free in Kindle Unlimited
from August 15, 2018
Available at the following retailers today only!
Also Available
Free in Kindle Unlimited
Coming Soon
Releasing August 28, 2018
Only available at the following retailers
until August 28, 2018




M. Malone
NYT & USA Today bestselling author M. Malone lives in the Washington, DC metro area with her husband and their two sons. She holds a master’s degree in Business from a prestigious college that would no doubt be scandalized by how she’s using her expensive education.
Independently published, she has sold more than 1/2 million ebooks in her two series, THE ALEXANDERS and BLUE-COLLAR BILLIONAIRES. Since starting her indie journey in 2011 with the runaway bestselling novella “Teasing Trent,” her work has appeared on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists more than a dozen times.
She’s now a full-time writer and spends 99.8% of her time in her pajamas.
Nana Malone
USA Today bestselling author Nana Malone’s love of all things romance and adventure started with a tattered romantic suspense novel she “borrowed” from her cousin.
It was a sultry summer afternoon in Ghana, and Nana was a precocious thirteen. She’s been in love with kick-butt heroines ever since. With her overactive imagination constantly channeling her inner Buffy, it was only a matter a time before she started creating her own characters.
While she waits for her chance at a job as a ninja assassin, Nana works out her drama, passion and sass with fictional characters every bit as brazen and kick-butt as she thinks she is.
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Release Boost & #Review of Sweet Disaster (Stupid Awesome Love #1) by Ceri Grenelle w/a rafflecopter giveaway! @givemebooksblog @cerigauthor


Title: Sweet Disaster
Series: Stupid Awesome Love #1
Author: Ceri Grenelle
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: June 7, 2018


Sophie…has stupid awesome sex with a stranger.
New York City summers are hot and sticky, which only makes what I’m feeling for the asshole in my new building even messier. Usually, I quietly reserve my opinions for my
news articles, but when Tony argues with me, he tempts me to give in to my crazy. I yell back. He smiles. Something in me melts.
It was only supposed to be one time, but we can’t get enough.
With Tony I’m a new person, brave and unashamed. But anything between us can only be a fling. He’s offered a job in Rome. That’s good, right? With a long history of unreliable relationships, messy emotions are a complication I don’t need.
Tony…has a sexy new neighbor.
I’ve worked my ass off to climb the ladder at my company, even threw away my passion to prove I’m worth something. When they offer me a high position, I should be focused on my work. But no one’s ever spoken to me the way Sophie does. She pushes buttons I don’t know I have. Forces me to confront a dream I gave up long ago.
In two months, we go our separate ways. No hurt feelings. No misunderstandings. That’s the deal. She doesn’t need to know I’ll be playing for keeps.

I know, another review this week.   I will have to admit that this one was tough to finish at times.  I’ve never truly DNF’d a book but this one almost became one.  Let me tell you why…Sophie.  I never felt a connection with her until maybe halfway through the book.  Honestly, she acted like a shrew and while the fighting with Tony is supposed to be foreplay for them, I just couldn’t find it funny after awhile.  In fact, at times, I skipped the smexy parts because of it.  Shut up.  I did.

That said, I LOVED Tony.  Just loved him.  I couldn’t find anything wrong with him, even though Sophie could throughout the whole book.  I really felt for him in terms of his really wanting a true relationship with Sophie but she wouldn’t have anything to do with that.  I did, however, understand why Sophie acting the way she did but after some time, I got bored.  There is only so much fighting/dirty sex that I can take.

Of course, you are probably thinking that I hated the book.  I didn’t.  Not.at.all.  In fact, once, Sophie FINALLY decided to open herself to the possibility of a real relationship (meeting the rents) that I fell in love with her.  Did she do some things after that, that I shook my head at?  You bet but I finally got her.  Tony got her.  I loved that line in the book.  “I got you”.  *swoon*  What made me fall in love with Tony from the beginning is that even though Sophie held back, he never did.  He was upfront and honest with her.  Okay, his ma kinda lied but when the tough got going, he was always there for her.

Gemma…Sophie’s sister.  OMG!!!!  I MUST read her story.  Sadly, I have to wait until September but she was a terrific secondary character for BOTH Sophie and Tony.  Tony’s brothers, Nick and Santi.  Same.  The batting cage scenes were hilarious and it truly resounded with me the importance of family…no matter who is in the family.

I will not tell you how it ends because I honestly thought it was hopeless.  That said, I really fell in love with the book.   Just keep in mind that this book is dirty, sexy, funny, your heart with bleed out in some spots but overall, a book and a series that I have on my keeper shelf.


Purchase Links


Chapter One
Sophie moves into a new building. There are sexy assholes.
The first
time we argue, I feel alive. I’m sweating, my blood’s pumping, and my hair is
sticking to my face in the stinking New York City humidity. I don’t know what
life really is until some asshole starts screaming at me to move my van from his spot, because it feels so damn good
to yell right back at him.
“Get your
U-Haul out of my parking spot!”
This guy’s
hollering at me from across the street.
me?” I call back, convinced he isn’t speaking to me. No one ever yells at me.
I’m unassuming and introverted. I’m a wallpaper ninja, blending so well people
can’t even find me to yell at me.
But the guy
across the street sees me, clear as day.
“Are you
deaf?” he yells with slow and exaggerated articulation. “Get your damn moving
van out of my spot.”
I’m not the
type of person to engage in a verbal fight. I’m quiet-
even when someone pisses me off. I
roll with the chaotic nature of my beautifully harsh city: a strand of seaweed
in the ocean, riding the tides. But after surviving the day from hell, only to
be accosted by this bear of a man? I fight back, like I never have before.
 “Last time I checked there are no spots
assigned to people on this block, or anywhere else in Brooklyn.”
“It’s an
unwritten rule.”
I mimic his
earlier tone, hitting every consonant and unleashing my New York accent to
embellish the attitude. “If you couldn’t tell, I’m moving into the building and
there’s an actual written rule that
if I double-park the U-Haul, I’ll get a ticket.”
“That’s not
my problem, baby.” He steps into the street, waiting for a break in traffic to
cross. “Find a new spot.”
I nearly
drop the moving box in outrage before remembering it has wine glasses mom sent
from Napa. Breaking them would be a crime. I’ll need them before this shit day
is over, especially after getting a look at the man charging at me like a bull
chasing red.
As he
crosses the street I expect to see a guido with a beer gut, and while I imagine
he’s got a decent percentage of Italian heritage, there sure as hell ain’t no
beer gut.  Instead I’m greeted by a fit
and trim physique, tanned skin, and biceps I could drool over. The muscles in
his arms tense and roll with every word, every wild gesticulation. He levels
with me on the sidewalk and removes his sunglasses, revealing dark eyes flecked
with gold. He’s shockingly handsome—like runway model handsome— combined with
the grittiness of a rock star and the best parts of a native New Yorker. I’m
wearing the tank top I slept in last night, a ratty old sports bra, and shorts
I haven’t washed for two weeks.
This day is
the pits.
“Because of
your stupid van, I had to circle the surrounding blocks for twenty minutes to
find a spot for my pickup truck. A paid, limited-parking, spot.”
“How is
your poor car choice my fault? Who in their right mind has a pickup truck and
lives in Brooklyn? You’re just asking for endless nights searching for parking.
What do you do when it snows?”
challenge in his eyes is like a book I have to devour. One flexed bicep, an
arched eyebrow, and I’m hooked.
He shoots a
disparaging glance at my van before asking, “You’re moving into this building?”
He points at my new place.
propped the outer foyer door open and there are boxes preloaded onto a dolly at
the top of the stoop.
“No.” I lay
the sarcasm on thick. “I’ve come here to unload this van with the sole purpose
of pissing you off. I thought, ‘who in all of New York can I make the most
miserable today?’ ” I raise one arm in a fist pump. “I won!”
His eyes
widen like he can’t believe I’m not backing down, and I might be hallucinating
from the heat, but I swear I catch a smile before he starts laying into me
again, our voices getting louder and louder.
“I don’t
care what you’re doing; I need this spot for my truck, and you need to move.”
“I will
move my truck when I’m good and ready.”
move now.”
“No? That’s
it?” I repeat, dumbfounded. As if the world revolves around this asshole’s
giant ego. “I’ll tell you what’s it. It’s
ninety-eight degrees outside. I had to take a day off work to move because the
management company of this stupid new building insists I move one week after
signing the lease, much to the dismay of my boss, who was kinda pissed I didn’t
come in today.”
He opens
his mouth to speak and I cover it with my hand, unwilling to break my stride. I
haven’t unloaded like this in years.
“And then
the rental company loses my reservation for the van, and proceeds to send me to
two consecutive branches ’till I found one that has the size I reserved. Two branches.
His eyes
narrow as he crosses his arms, but he doesn’t stop me. I’m on a damn roll,
releasing pressure built by an awful day, and years of containing my opinion to
the written word. I keep my hand on his lips, not because it feels nice or
anything, but because I need to get this off my chest and he’s the unlucky
bastard who’s gonna hear it. Not even an introvert of my level can keep it cool
after the shit storm of my day.
“The Task
Rabbit guys I hired to load the truck were an hour late and on the drive over
no less than three cabbies-
three-cut me off on the bridge, and I’m
pretty sure I heard one of my boxes fall over and break as I swerved to get out
of the way. And now, to put the icing on a great big turd of a cake, a
loudmouth jackass is ordering me to move my van after getting a spot directly
in front of my new building. He wants to shit on the one good thing that’s
happened to me today. You want to know what’s it?” I’m panting it’s so hard to get the last words out.
fucking it.”
I’ve lived
in various spots around New York City my entire life but until this moment I’ve
never adhered to the loud-mouthed-I-don’t-need-a-filter culture. With this guy
and his amber-streaked hair and gold cross around his neck-
I let go of all my insecurities and
worry over what people will think and just let it fly. Over a parking spot, of
all things.
A freakin’ parking spot.
When he
takes my hand away from his mouth, cradling my wrist with an almost shocking
tenderness, making my skin itch, I ask, “Who the fuck do you think you are?”
My yelling
draws the attention of passing pedestrians. I think I see a smartphone or two
recording us. He sees them too, a frown pulling his features into severity. It
transforms his smooth edges into a creature of rougher origins, a true piece of
him I find both unnerving and intriguing.
 “I think I’m the guy who needs you to move
your van, so I can park my pickup truck here, in the only spot on this block
that fits it.” His voice is low, but there’s a definite heat behind it. Whether
it’s the same annoyed tone from before or something new I can’t tell, and after
the scene I just made, I don’t think I want to know.
He’s still
holding my hand, swiping his thumb back and forth across my wrist.
“Do you
verbally attack every unsuspecting person who parks in your spot, or am I just lucky?”
“Baby, you
don’t know what lucky is, but I’d be more than happy to show you.”
That might
be a warning or a come on…
or both.
I advance
on him, my bravado knowing no ends today. “Don’t call me baby, asshole.”
He matches
me step for step. “Till you move out of my spot, I’ll call you what I want, baby.”
I want to
kick him, but the way he says baby flashes through my body like a heat wave. A
deliciously sexy heat wave.
Actually, I
should kick myself to get my good sense back.
His hand is
still holding my wrist. I’m starting to think I don’t want him to let go.
 “Why don’t you go cool off with a walk around
the block, go pump some iron, take some steroids, or do whatever it is you
guido types do.”
“You say
guido like it’s a bad thing. Where are you from that you can cast aspersions on
my character?” He laughs when my eyebrows shoot up, casually leaning toward me
as if I didn’t just spit my entire day up on him.
He finally
lets go of my wrist, and I feel the loss of his heat, even in the humid air.
 “Guidos know big words too, baby.”
God, why
does fighting with him feel so good? I should want to smack him, and I do, but
having his lips so close to mine makes me want different things. Sinful, sexy,
and dirty things.
perpetuate that stereotype yourself. You’re doing it now, yelling at me like an
Italian thug.”
His hand
clutches his heart. “You wound me, baby. I should take you inside, throw you
over my knee and teach you a lesson.”
immodest threat makes me blush, but not because I’m scandalized, but because
now I know I kinda want it. And God, he sees it. He sees the shift from anger
to lust. He sees my skin flush in color from something other than fury, and he
grabs hold.
 “You can’t tell me to move the van,” I say
before he can interject with another baby.
“I can tell
you whatever I want; it’s up to you to behave and actually do it.”
“Who says I
need to behave?”
“The laws
of decency.”
screaming at an innocent woman like a madman, and you have the balls to call me
“I have
balls for many different scenarios. I keep them in a velvet-lined drawer and
take them out when such occasions arise.”
laugh. Don’t fucking laugh.
I open my
mouth to start another round, but before I can get a word in His Almighty
Dickishness turns on a dime and flashes a roguish grin, the asshole gone in a
flash. The result is devastating. His body is all fully-grown man, but his
smile is whimsical and childlike, more open than what I’m prepared for. I was
raised on cynicism and sarcasm. Pure honesty is alarming.
the longer we stand here, the hotter and crankier I get. I’m gonna speed this
up for us. What floor you movin’ into?”
He runs his
hands through his hair, seeking an outlet. I know the feeling; I’m as jittery
as kid with A.D.D. “I’m gonna help you move so you can get your ugly van out of
my way.”
His offer,
combined with the sudden change in his demeanor, throws me so far off balance I
answer without thinking, “Third floor.”
“What a
coincidence. I’m on the fourth. Welcome to the building. C’mon, baby, show me
what you need moved.”
“You live
“Yes.” He
peers into the van, seeing all the boxes and furniture pieces I could cram into
it. “Were you gonna move that loveseat by yourself?”
“You live
here.” I point at my new address, making it obviously clear which building I
mean because I need to know absolutely, without any doubt, that the man I’ve
just screamed at, like a an unashamed weirdo, like I’m never gonna see him
again, lives one floor above me. “At this
 “Yes. This building.” He grins, his teeth
accompanied by a sparkle.
It is
singularly unfair that a man so annoying can be so profoundly attractive. He’s
checking all my boxes. Which only makes me angrier.
“I don’t
need your help.” What I don’t need is this big gulp of man in my apartment.
“I’m stronger than I look.”
He sighs,
leans against the hated van with his arms in his pockets. Unassuming. Harmless.
“I’m sorry
I yelled at you earlier.”
I dip my
chin and stare at him with an eyebrow arched in sarcastic doubt.
“Okay, I am
sorry I made your day harder. Let me make it up to you. Let me help you move
He doesn’t
wait for me to accept, of course, just turns back to the open van, eyeing it
like a mountain to be climbed.
“What do
you want moved first?”
genuine. He’s actually offering to help me, after spending a good twenty
minutes making an ass of himself by demanding I move for his benefit. And all
of sudden he’s helping me, like this is who he was all along. Like I’m not the
only one who’s had a shit day.
“How about
the ones labeled kitchen? That’s the best room in my apartment.” he chuckles to
himself. I figure it must be an inside joke until he proves he’s gotta have the
single most massive ego in all of Brooklyn. “It’s only the best due to my superb
cooking. Do you like linguine?”
“Yes,” I
mumble automatically, unable to deal with the shift in his demeanor. I’m
practically out of breath from hollering at him, and my body is on a knife’s
edge, tempted by this hunk of man, and he’s talking about fucking linguine.
There’s that word again. “You haven’t had linguine till you’ve had my
Oh, I want
his linguine.
another word he gathers two boxes, one on each shoulder. He looks like a
textbook illustration of an ancient Roman hauling cement blocks to build a
great structure.
He catches
me staring and winks.
I will not
let Lord Linguine show me up. I will prove I can do this by myself, and maybe
that will make him go away. I grab a box, then another, and another, balancing
them and forcing myself to smile. These boxes weigh nothing. I’m not killing
myself in the heat to prove anything. I perform heavy lifting on a regular
“You got-
“I’m fine,”
I grunt, hobbling up the steps to the building, the weight of the boxes turning
me slower than molasses.
elevator is out of order-
don’t cry, don’t cryso it’s pointless to use the dolly. We’re
forced to take the stairs.
“Are you
sure?” he asks.
asking me,” I grunt.
this hurts so much. I’m going to die. My knees will break, and I’ll crumble in
on myself, forced to listen to Lord Linguine laugh as he steps over me.
My foot
catches on the top step, and the boxes start to tumble. Before I can even cry
out, he’s there, deftly placing his boxes down to help me, making sure I don’t
fall. One hand on my waist, the other supporting the three boxes.
The adrenaline from the near fall pulses through my veins as I look up at him.
We’re close, barely a breath apart, and I can’t catch my breath. I can’t stop
looking into his eyes.
Is it
possible for a man’s gaze to smolder and shine at the same time?
He sounds
normal, no longer filled with false bravado, almost kind.
“What would
my Ma say if I let you land ass up?”
There’s the
idiot I’ve come to know.
We make it
to the third floor, and I almost collapse when we reach my door.
“Is it
unlocked?” Linguine asks, shuffling in front of me.
He slides
the door open, sets the boxes in the kitchen where I direct him to, as if
they’re light as a feather, then comes over and takes all three of my boxes
away. He doesn’t so much as grimace from the weight, and I hate him more than
“Let’s take
a break-
“Shut up,
there’s still more.”
I ignore
his deep chuckles as we go back to the van.
 I don’t repeat my earlier folly, but I make
him carry the heavier stuff to pay him back for being so smug. He doesn’t
complain, just lugs another two boxes onto his shoulders and places them where
I tell him.
I trail
behind him each time we go back down the stairs to the first floor. His back
muscles flex with every step, on display through the thin, white tank top. It’s
a nice view, and I don’t stop myself from raking my gaze down his waist to what
I can only describe as the most delicious bubble butt ensconced in pants
tailor-made for his ass.
He faces me
once he hits the sidewalk, a self-satisfied smirk highlighting a mouth and
cheekbones I’m slowly starting to obsess over in my head, and I think he knows
I’ve been looking. I don’t care. I’m taking full advantage of the view while I
can, except when he calls me on it.
looking at my ass, baby?”
“No,” I say
too quickly, cursing my lack of finesse.
“I can feel
your eyes on me.”
hallucinating.” We get to the van, and I’m surprised by how little is left to
worry, I’ve been looking at yours too.”
“You son of
“I’ve got
time for one more trip,” he says, his arm brushing mine as he reaches for more
shoots through my body. Our eyes meet. He licks his lips. I can’t have him in
my apartment anymore, filling it up with his raw energy and body so beautiful
I’ve come to appreciate it for the work of art it is.
“You can
stop right now, I didn’t need your help when I started, and I don’t need it
He ignores
me, grabbing another two boxes.
“I said I
don’t need your-
” He
grabs two more boxes and runs up to the building, like a puppy stealing a shoe,
trying to instigate a play session. Except this is a grown man who I can barely
look at without thinking dirty thoughts. “-
what a freaking asshole…
We’re in my
apartment again, the space getting smaller and smaller with every second I’m
near him. We’re so close to each other, yet a million miles away.
He sets the
boxes by the entrance and runs his fingers through his hair as he straightens
from a crouch, his slacks stretched taut over muscular thighs.
His hair
looks soft. Does he highlight it to get that color? Beautiful amber streaks
piercing through pitch black.
I push my
hands through my curly, pixie-length haircut, mussing it up to distract myself.
I gnaw at my bottom lip and press down till I feel a pinch, a reminder not to
stare at him. It’s just so damn hard.
He catches
me looking again, and I glance away, coming down from the high of strong
emotions and physical exertion. But it’s not enough. I feel anxious and
incomplete, like I’m missing something.
whatever is passing between us isn’t over.
“I’d say
thank you, but I don’t think you helping me makes up for your dickishness
earlier.” I shrug, unrepentant.
He doesn’t
move, just keeps looking at me as his hands slowly lower. No other response. My
heart beats a little faster when he licks his lips, and wet heat that has
nothing to do with summer humidity blooms between my legs.
 “You can go now.” I don’t really want him to
go. I want him to stand in the middle of my apartment, so I can stare at him a
while longer. The last time I was near a man so beautiful was for an article I
wrote on the trials of the male model life. Those guys are paid to be gorgeous,
but they’ve got nothing on Lord Linguine.
He nods, as
though he hears and understands, but makes no moves to leave. He just keeps
looking at me, and now he’s touching his bottom lip with his thumb. Dear Lord,
his mouth is sumptuous. No, not just sumptuous. It’s fat and thick, made more
tantalizing by the way it plumps whenever he bites down.
Who is this
He’s been
carrying my heaviest boxes up and down the stairs without a drop of
perspiration, like some Greek god. I’m sweating worse than a roasted pig and am
most likely still flushed and red after our argument-
thanks, Irish coloring. My clothes
are wrinkled and gross, and I can’t recall if I brushed my teeth this morning.
But I know
the look he’s giving me, like there’s nothing in the world he wants more. It
should scare me. I don’t know him at all, and yet…
and yet…that itch in my skin is all from
him. One argumentative word from my new neighbor and I’ve unleashed more
personality on the world than in the past five years.
 Male desire emanates from his gaze like the
sun at high noon; no doubt I’ll get burned if I don’t protect myself. I would
usually feel uncomfortable, wary even, if someone I don’t know keeps staring at
me like he does, but after spending the last hour with him—feeling his hand on
my back when I nearly missed a step on one of our ascents, staring at his ass,
watching his muscles tense and roll with every step, watching his lips like my
favorite TV show—all I feel is an intense need.
realization slaps me in the face so hard I nearly take a step back.
I want Lord
Linguine. I want his beautiful body covering mine. I want his lips on places
that haven’t felt the touch of a man in longer than I care to admit. I want him
inside me. I want him to use my body till I’m wrung out and this awful day is
But all I
say is, “See you around the building.”
Again, no
response, just staring, with the occasional lip licks or flickers of his gaze.
He’s looking at my body the same way I’m looking at his. Seeing him want me
only makes me want him more.
Proof of
his humanity shows as moisture drips down the side of his tanned face, tripping
over a thin layer of manicured stubble. Shit, he’s beautiful, in a brutal, New
York City way. And considering the way he shifts, his tight-fitting trousers
stretching taut, a long hard line now highlighted at the front of his pants,
I’m pretty sure he’s thinking the same thing about me.
I bite my
bottom lip deliberately to see what he does. He watches the move then finally
speaks. His voice is as far from the riotous nature of our initial encounter as
it can get.
“I could
stay, help you unpack some stuff.”
I nearly
prevaricate, but decide to stick to honesty. We both know what’s happening
“That’s not
what would happen if you stayed.”
“It’s your
choice. If you don’t want me to stay, I’ll leave. We’ll nod at each other as we
pass in the hallway, like this was an unremarkable encounter. We’ll go back to
being strangers. I don’t want that, but I promise I’ll leave if you do.”
“Oh, now
you care what I think?” Stalling. Stalling, I am so stalling.
 “I’ve been hanging on your every word for the
past hour, and in no world would I ever want to make a woman uncomfortable, so
yeah, I care a whole fucking lot.” His body is tense, practically vibrating,
yet he stays put. Waiting for me.
“Tell me
what you want, baby.”
Do I want
what he’s offering?
“I’ll make
you feel so good.”
sex between strangers?
After the
day I’ve had?
He takes a
step forward. We’re nearly on top of each other now. My hands itch to touch
him. “Say yes.”
Fuck yes, I
Author Bio
Ceri is the author of quirky and sexy contemporary romance
novels. She has a major weakness for sappy cuddle moments as much as hot and
steamy sex scenes, and a penchant for writing snappy and sarcastic dialogue.
She loves romance that isn’t afraid to be awkward and uncouth, and thrives on
flawed characters with big hearts.
A New York native, Ceri now lives in California with her two
cats, Mercy and Eugene Fitzherbert, who should be very thankful she didn’t name
him frying pan. She is a proud functioning introvert and lover of all things
geeky. You can find her haunting the Twitter machine or posting pictures of her
ridiculous cats on Instagram.
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