Molly Ivers thinks she is falling for the opposite of Prince Charming, and she knows she should give him up, but, oh, the temptation.
WHEN YOU WISH UPON A STAR
Molly Ivers thought she found Prince Charming, but without a devilishly sexy accent, and six months ago she gave into their undeniable attraction. But the swarm of ever-present groupies was so not part of the fairy tale. As much as it hurt her heart, she shut out rocker Evan Castle.
Now, on the verge of finishing her graduate degree and moving to Paris—she even hires a French life coach—Molly begins to realize Evan, who hasn’t given up on her, might be the man of her dreams after all.
Molly laughed while she told her what had happened last night, though at the moment, she wasn’t sure it was a joke. She sighed and left the computer to go make scrambled eggs. Nell followed her to the kitchen.
“So, should I call you ‘Number One’ now?”
She could never keep a straight face with Nell. Molly speared a peach slice with a fork and nibbled the end of it. Sweetness filled her mouth. “‘Make it so.’ No, nerd. He seems pretty cool. I mean, if I check it out, this may turn out to be a positive change. At the least, he’ll get me in shape for Paris. His bio says he’s from Giverny, and he’s a retired civil-rights attorney. His website says that when he retired, he decided to change his objective to improving people’s lives, which is why he’s a life coach. Pretty impressive.”
“So, you’re going through with it?”
“Going through with what?” They both looked into the living room, where a bemused Evan stood half naked and barefoot in a pair of black pajama bottoms. Molly licked nectar off the peach on the end of her fork to save it from dropping to the floor. Evan’s jaw tightened, and his eyes gleamed as he zeroed in on her. He cleared his throat and lifted an empty half gallon of milk. “Sorry, you left the door cracked open. I came to borrow milk.”
“Jesus, Evan! Knock next time, or at least text. I’m in my panties.” Nell smacked him on the arm and tugged down her nightshirt as she ran past him into her bedroom.
“Sorry,” he said, but he seemed distracted as he strode toward Molly, eyes glued to her lips. She sucked the rest of her peach slice into her mouth and wiped at a little of the nectar at the corner of her lips. Her cheeks blazed at the hungry longing in his eyes. She turned away to open the fridge to get the milk. It wasn’t uncommon for them to borrow food from one another, and he always watched out for them. He had a comforting, protective nature she’d gotten used to.
She grew painfully aware of her night shorts, which had a tendency to ride up her butt and cut off at mid-thigh, and her thin white tank top. Could he see her nipples? And jeez, Louise, why did they have to harden every time he came near her?
She pushed hair out of her face and poured the milk into his empty half gallon. “Help yourself to the fruit in the bowl there. Nell had leftovers. How much milk do you want?”
“Enough for a bowl of cereal, please. I’ll get some at the store later.” His voice only dropped that low and husky during sex. She stopped after she poured enough milk, then gave him extra.
Evan reached over her to open a nearby drawer. He took out a fork, inserted it into the flesh of a peach slice, and brought it to his lips.
“Forbidden fruit, hmm?”
He teased the fruit around his lips with a wicked smirk. He winked at her and sank his teeth into half the peach as he watched her, licking it. Her mouth went dry. Oh, he knew what he was doing.
Every read a debut author and thought, the second book won’t be as good? *raises hand* All the time. I know, I have no shame. So I read Ms. Howard’s first book, Sonnet Coupled and was completely blown away by it. So I signed up to read her second book, Flip the Beat and this is no sophomore slump. Granted this book is way hotter than her first, this one had a depth to it that I wasn’t expecting. Plus, it is much shorter, so I really didn’t know what to think.
Let me assure you, that while shorter, Ms. Howard reveals the plot very slowly. Yes, slowly. Sure Molly and Evan are hot and heavy in the book but when you peel an onion, you get a whole lot of layers. And this story has more layers than an onion. Slowly, bits and pieces of Evan are revealed and he is NOT what he seems. Molly’s character is much more straightforward but I will have to say, I was disappointed in not having some closure on her stepmother. I know, I’m weird but this being a fairytale, I wanted it. Even if it was just a slap in the face or a sentence or two in the epilogue.
This story is based on Cinderella but with a great twist. In fact, since Ms. Howard told the story with some many layers, I didn’t figure anything out at all. I was totally surprised with how everything unfolded. Ms. Howard is one of those rare authors that doesn’t show her hand in her writing until its necessary. I love that about her. Her secondary characters are top notch, too. Nell and Jorge were hilarious, as was her life coach. *wink*
I absolutely adored Molly and Evan. It is a very well balanced book with plenty of hot smexy times, great character growth and a very plausible plot that is also realistic. Trust me, the blurb doesn’t even tell you 1/4 of the story. Again, layers people. Layers…
Follow Roxanne’s book releases over the next six months. Be sure to add the books to your TBR pile!
About the Author:
Roxanne D. Howard writes sizzling erotic romance with Boroughs Publishing Group and The Wild Rose Press. She is a U.S. Army veteran, and a Columbia College alumni. She loves to read poetry, classical literature, and Stephen King. Also, she is an avid Star Wars fan, musical theater nut, and marine biology geek. Roxanne resides in the western U.S., and when she’s not writing, she enjoys spending quality time with her husband, children, and furry companions. Roxanne loves to hear from her readers, and encourages you to contact her via her website and social media.
We’re so excited to be hosting Jane Godman and her Secret Baby, Second Chance Blog Tour today! Please leave a comment to let her know you stopped by!
SECRET BABY, SECOND CHANCE Author: Jane Godman Publisher: Harlequin Pages: 288 Genre: Romantic Suspense
She’s alive! Vincente Delaney has finally found his girlfriend, Beth Wade, who disappeared a year and a half ago, alive. But he’s shocked to discover someone with her: their child, a little girl he never knew about! Once upon a time, lone wolf Vincente never expected forever with Beth, but now he must put everything on the line to protect her and their family.
Beth was forced to leave Vincente to protect everything she held dear. But now the threat to her loved ones’ lives has reared its ugly head again. As danger approaches, she and Vincente must delve into her past to cast out the darkness jeopardizing their future.
As he approached, he sized up the building. Nothing about it made him think of Beth. It had a slightly neglected air, as if the owner didn’t have the time, energy or money to spend on it. He contrasted that with the Stillwater house she had lived in. That had been as neat as wax. Being organized seemed to come effortlessly to Beth, spilling over into how she dressed, her surroundings
and how she dealt with other people. Vincente wondered, not for the first time, if the reason she had struggled with their relationship was because she couldn’t neatly package up her feelings for him. When they were together there was no controlling what they felt. It had always been raw, primal…and incredible.
The thought spurred his feet up the front step. His heart was pounding so loud it almost drowned out the sound of his knock on the door. Prepared for disappointment, his nerves—already under intense pressure—were ratcheted up to crisis level when he heard a voice calling out.
“Did you forget something, Detective ?” It wasn’t just any voice. It was Beth’s voice.
He wondered how she would react if she checked who it was through the peephole in the door. Her words indicated she thought Laurie had come back again and he heard a key turn in the lock immediately after she spoke.
The door swung open and the smile on her lips faded. As she gazed at him in shock, Vincente took a moment to drink in her appearance. Her hair was shorter, just reaching her shoulders now instead of the waist-length mass in which he had loved to bury his hands. It was scraped back into an unflattering ponytail. She looked thinner. And tired, definitely tired. Almost to the point of exhaustion. But maybe the reason for that was sitting on her hip.
The baby wore pink sweatpants and a T shirt with butterflies embroidered all over. Not quite a toddler, she was a perfect little girl. Her black hair clustered in a halo of curls around her head and she studied Vincente with eyes that were huge, dark and framed by thick, spiky lashes. The hint of olive to her skin and the full ruby lips were additional confirmation of his first suspicion. It was
like looking in a mirror .
Vincente almost took a step back in shock as he gazed at his daughter.
This book is my catnip. Romantic suspense, secret baby, second chances and small town. Yep, Ms. Godman had me at the title of the book. Then throw in the cover, the blurb, and the first paragraph. But really sold me on the book as a whole was Vincente and Beth. I loved reading about how they ran hot and cold during their first run as a couple. The fighting, the hot making up sessions afterward. Catnip. Both characters had some issues when it came to relationships but none more than Vicente.
I times I really wanted to slap Vincente upside his head when it came to how he viewed relationships. Look, I get the abandonment issue with his mother but his stepmother did everything that she could to make him feel wanted and loved. Keep this in mind though, I haven’t read Bryce and Cameron’s books so maybe I missed out on some more of their backstory in regards to how they were brought up but still. Vincente…get over yourself. You have a second chance with the only woman that you ever truly loved and a daughter now. Anywoos…other than that, Vincente was a dream. He realized that he did need to finally put the past behind him and get it together if he wanted a second chance with Beth.
Beth, I could totally understand the motivation to disappear. I would have freaked out if I got the letters and photos. That was just too creepy for me and then to find out in the end who was doing it? I honestly thought it was someone else and I was wrong. Love when an author does that to me. I’m no Sherlock but sometimes I do get it right. Not here. Ms. Godman puts up a few red herrings so when the truth is finally revealed, you are left gobsmacked. Plus, the secondary characters from the past were interesting. Rick really sticks out for me. You will have to read the book to find out why. Plus, since I didn’t read the other books in the series, I loved getting to know Laurie, Cameron, Bryce, and Steffi. They are great at being there for Vincente and Beth. Let’s also not forget about Vincente and Beth’s daughter, Lia. She is NOT plot device but a character in her own right.
In fact, the line from Vincente is classic: “She trashed the place,” he whispered. He expression was stunned. “As soon as you left the room, she just went for it.”
Nothing can prepare a new daddy like Vicente like that. There were other moments between Lia and her daddy. I had the giggles at times with Lia and the dog, Melon. I know that they could be perceived as humorous plugs but in the end…well, you just need to read the book.
Overall, I just loved this book. I read it in one afternoon but it has definitely stayed with me. I’m still thinking about the scene in the bedroom when Vicente went all “bossy” with Beth and her reaction to it. Oh yes, this book has some sexy times and they are hawt. Just a friendly warning. *wink*
I will definitely look Ms. Godman’s books up. She is a new to me author that I really liked. Her style of writing, pacing, characters and overall, how did she fool me in the end, has me hooked.
About the Author
JANE GODMAN worked in a variety of shops, bars, and offices before settling into a career as a teacher. She was born in Scotland and has lived in Germany, Wales, Malta, South Africa, and England. Home is now the Wirral, a beautiful English peninsula situated between Wales and Liverpool.
Jane still gets the urge to travel, although these days she tends to head for a Spanish beach, or a European city that is steeped in history. Venice, Dubrovnik, and Vienna are among her favorites.
When Jane isn’t reading or writing romance, she enjoys cooking and spending time with her family. She is married to a lovely man, has two grown up children and has recently discovered the joy of becoming a grandparent.
Jane writes paranormal romance for Harlequin Nocturne and SMP Romance, thrillers for Harlequin Romantic Suspense, and self-publishes her steamy historical and gothic stories.
Today we have the chapter reveal for DIRT by Cassia Leo! Check them out and pre-order your copy today!
Title: DIRT Author: Cassia Leo Series: Evergreen Series Release: January 12, 2018
A hard-hitting, emotional new series from New York Times bestselling author Cassia Leo.
Jack and I had everything. Then, in one brutal instant, the universe tilted on its side, discarding us into black nothingness.
Now, I have a cocky a**hole for a husband.
The only way we communicate anymore is when we’re fighting or f**king.
With nothing left to lose, I write Jack a goodbye letter and head for Portland, where I quickly meet a neighbor who helps me find a job.
My new neighbor—broody, tattooed ex-soldier Isaac Evans—is complicated. Nevertheless, we form a fast friendship, bonding over our mutual desire to create something beautiful from the wreckage of our lives.
But despite the distance between us, Jack and I are still trying to make things work—fighting and f**king dirtier than ever. And he doesn’t appreciate my new friendship with Isaac. Not one f**king bit.
I hugged Jack Jr. tightly against my breast, and he molded his soft, warm body to mine. His eyes remained closed as his tiny fingers curled around the fabric of my blouse, his rosy lips puckering as he geared up for more food.
“You sucked me dry, little fella,” I whispered, leaning in to press my nose against the downy-soft, golden hair on the top of his head. I inhaled his scent and my muscles unspooled. “But I’ll be back to feed you soon. I promise.”
Why do babies smell so damn good?
Before I got pregnant with Junior, my favorite smell was orange blossoms. As a teenager, I often got scolded by my mom for picking the flowers off the orange tree in our backyard in Portland. I’d rub the creamy petals between my fingers, bruise them with my fingernails, then sniff my hand for hours until the scent wore off.
When I was pregnant with Junior, my favorite scent became the rich aroma of the forbidden coffee I could no longer drink.
After Junior was born, and my decaf days came to a glorious end, I realized how wrong I’d been. There was absolutely no scent as sweet and soul-quieting as the smell of the top of a baby’s head. Bonus points if the baby was lying peacefully on your chest sound asleep.
“Are you ever going to put him down?”
I flicked my head sideways, startled by Jack’s clear, baritone voice.
He stood in the doorway of Junior’s nursery, the silhouette of his six-foot-three athletic body framed by the warm light in the hallway. His head was tilted to the side. He’d probably been standing there admiring us for a while. After six years together, I knew Jack’s body language and facial expressions better than I knew my own face.
I stood from the rocking chair and stole one more sniff of Junior’s head before I placed him gently on his back in the center of the crib. I adjusted the left sleeve of his pajamas, pulling it down to make sure it covered his entire chubby arm. I didn’t want to imagine him waking up cold and alone in here.
Jack appeared at my side as I switched on the video baby monitor. “He’s going to be fine,” he murmured, reaching down to stroke the soft patch of hair on Junior’s head. “In fact, he’ll probably enjoy some time alone. After all, he is just like his daddy; sometimes, we need a break from the constant attention from the ladies.”
I rolled my eyes and headed for the door. “Making jokes only makes leaving him slightly less scary, you know,” I said as we stepped into the hallway of our five-bedroom dream home in Hood River, Oregon. I couldn’t wait to fill up every one of these bedrooms with brothers and sisters for Jack Jr.
Jack chuckled as he followed closely behind me. “Less scary is an improvement,” he replied, grabbing my hand to stop me in the middle of the corridor. “You promised Junior you’d be back soon. Can you also make me a promise?”
The hallway lights made his dark hair look glaringly shiny, but I couldn’t help but notice how weary his blue eyes looked tonight. Since Junior arrived three months ago, I’d been so focused on my baby boy’s vulnerability, his scent, his beauty, I hadn’t slowed down enough to appreciate how those were the same qualities that made me fall in love with Jack.
Suddenly, my worries about leaving Junior with my mother for the evening evaporated. All I wanted to do was kiss Jack, grab hold of that dark hair and make love to him for hours. I wanted to replace the weariness in his eyes with dark hunger, or maybe a glint of mischief.
I squeezed his hand and smiled at the thought of possibly having sex with him in public tonight. We hadn’t done that in a while.
“What kind of promise?” I asked.
He shook his head. “Nope, you’re not allowed to ask. Just promise me you’ll say yes.”
My stomach vaulted at the sound of those words. They were the same words Jack spoke when he asked me to marry him. I wondered what he would ask this time.
The phrase “just promise me you’ll say yes” had become like an inside joke, our own private, unspoken promise to each other that we would always do whatever it took to stay together. The last time he had uttered this phrase, he asked me to stop taking my birth control pills. With Junior here, it was easy to trust that whatever Jack asked me for this time would turn out to be exactly what I needed.
I tilted my head back so I could look up and into his crystal-blue eyes. “Yes, I can make you a promise.”
His expression became sober. “Promise me you’ll be present tonight.” He fixed me with a piercing gaze as his large hand cupped my face. “It’s just you and me for the next three hours. Promise me.”
I smiled. “I promise. Just you and me. And I’ll even put my cell phone on vibrate.” As I said the words, a sharp finger of fear prodded my subconscious, telling me it was a bad idea to risk missing a phone call tonight.
The exhaustion in Jack’s eyes melted away as he smiled. “I can deal with that, but you have to promise me one more thing.”
His smile turned almost menacing as he looped his arm around my waist and drew me close. “Promise me you’ll lemme smash that blonde bombshell booty,” he said, landing a light swat on my ass.
I shook my head as I recalled how we often had sex in public during our first year together, in our senior year at Oregon State University, Cascades. For some reason, once we graduated and moved in together, having sex in public seemed like something we couldn’t get away with so easily. We decided public sex-hibitions — or throw downs, as we more commonly referred to them — would be reserved for special occasions like anniversaries or vacations.
Truthfully, Jack and I kicked off our relationship by having sex on the first date. He was always a very difficult man to resist. When he showed up at my apartment to pick me up that night, I couldn’t resist his suggestion that we should stay in and make paper masks of ourselves, then put them on and ask each other first date questions as if we were the other person. I had never laughed so much on any date. Ever. But when he asked — while pretending to be me — if I’d ever had sex with someone on the first date, I couldn’t help but respond with, “I’m Jack-fucking-Stratton. I’ve fucked a lot of girls on the first date. But none as gorgeous as you.”
Jack always knew how to keep things fresh and alarmingly sexy. Six years in and my body still craved him almost every second of every day.
Today was our three-year wedding anniversary. We’d only had sex twice since I gave birth to Junior three months ago, and both of those times were truly awkward.
The first time was painful. My C-section incision hadn’t fully healed yet, and even trying to have sex with him behind me was uncomfortable. The second time we tried, Jack was so afraid of hurting me, he stopped midway through. There’d been a lot of oral sex happening in this house since then.
Luckily, a few weeks had passed since our last attempt, and I had repeatedly assured him I was fully healed up now. I was certain that even if the sex did hurt a little, it would still be worth it. I couldn’t understand couples that didn’t consider sex an important part of a relationship. I never felt more complete, more present, more alive than when my body and mind were entwined with Jack’s.
I smiled as I wrapped my arms around his waist. “I think I know just the place for a proper throw down.”
He wiggled his eyebrows. “Ooh. Tell me more.”
As he leaned in to kiss me, my mother’s voice interrupted us.
“Are you two making out again?” she said, standing at the top of the stairs with her hands on her hips as she gawped at us. “Well, don’t let me stop you.”
Jack laughed and I shook my head as we moved toward her.
“We’re just trying to keep you entertained while you’re on vacation, Beth,” Jack said.
My mother cocked an eyebrow. “If I wanted to watch porn, I’d open up your laptop and have a look at your internet history.”
“Mom, don’t be gross,” I protested, trying not to laugh.
Jack smiled as he held out his elbow for my mom to grab hold as they descended the stairs in front of me. “I made a special collection of links for you. They’re in a folder labeled Tantric Geriatric. You’ll love it.”
I rolled my eyes. Jack and my mother exchanged jabs like this all day.
My mother was staying with us for a few days, so Jack and I could have some time to ourselves and get some much-needed uninterrupted sleep. She was leaving tomorrow to go back to the house where I grew up in Portland. Though she pretended as if she was desperate to get home to her Craftsman cottage in the city, and I even teased her about how she was dying to get back so she could see the handsome new neighbor she’d been going on about, I knew she was going to miss Jack’s pretend insults as much as she would miss Junior and me.
My mother practically shoved me toward the front door. “I order you to go have fun,” she said, smiling as Jack opened the door and stepped outside. “And don’t come home until you’re too drunk to walk.”
I shook my head. “Thanks, Mom. Please call if you need anything. And don’t answer the door for anyone. There’s a house that got broken into a few streets away.”
She waved off my paranoia. “Stop worrying so much. We’ll be fine. See you later, babe.”
I blew her a kiss, then I closed the door behind me.
* * *
“I have to admit, having sex on the waterfront was one of my favorite public throw downs ever,” Jack said, pulling his Tesla into the long driveway of our four-acre estate. “But do we really have to wait until our fourth anniversary to do it again?”
I tugged the silky fabric of my skirt straight as I pressed my thighs together. Though my body was still raw with the evidence of the dirty deed we’d just committed, I couldn’t wait to get Jack inside and pounce on him again. I hadn’t realized how much I missed the sensation of him moving inside me, and how good he was at making me feel beautiful.
“We can do that anytime we can snag a babysitter,” I replied as he turned the car off.
He made no move to exit the Tesla. “Well, babycakes, you’d better get ready to interview a fuck-ton of babysitters.”
I laughed. “Babycakes? That’s a new one.”
Jack rarely used the same term of endearment twice in a row. He liked to keep me guessing.
He scrunched up his nose. “Yeah, that one was kind of creepy. Now that I’ve tried it out, I think I can bury that one in the nickname graveyard.”
“Try the incinerator,” I said, reaching for the door handle.
“Duly noted,” he replied, exiting the vehicle.
Jack and I glided unhurriedly along the flagstone walkway, which was lined with sparkling pathway lights. As we made our way toward the steps leading up to the covered porch, I stopped in the middle of the path and closed my eyes as I inhaled the sweet scent of the lavender and honeysuckle I’d planted with my mom’s help.
That was when I made a wish, a corny wish, but I didn’t care.
I wished that every person could find someone they loved as much as I loved Jack. I wished every child could feel as loved as Junior was. And I wished every anniversary could be as perfect as this one.
“No… No, no, no!” Jack’s voice grew louder with each no.
They say mother’s intuition is scientifically proven to exist. I knew by the tone of Jack’s voice, without even opening my eyes, that my world would never be the same. I knew in that instant, I would regret leaving Jack Jr. tonight for the rest of my life.
Though I knew something was wrong, I wasn’t prepared for what we found.
At some point, while we were lost in our blissful celebration, the front door of our home had been forced open. This discovery was what had made Jack cry out in disbelief. Father’s intuition must also be a thing, because he told me later that, even though the door was still closed, the moment he saw the gouges in the wood near the handle, he had felt that same sense of dread. That feeling that the universe had suddenly tilted on its side, discarding us into black nothingness.
The house was ransacked.
Furniture upended, paintings and flatscreen televisions torn off the walls, shards of shattered vases littered the floors. Complete and utter chaos.
The master bathroom doorknob looked as if it had been shot off. We found my mother’s lifeless form huddled against the bathtub, my baby boy’s dead body clutched tightly in her arms.
About Cassia Leo
New York Times bestselling author Cassia Leo loves her coffee, chocolate, and margaritas with salt. When she’s not writing, she spends way too much time re-watching Game of Thrones and Sex and the City. When she’s not binge watching, she’s usually enjoying the Oregon rain with a hot cup of coffee and a book.