Friday, August 29, 2014

The Beautiful Ashes by Jeanine Frost; Read An Excerpt & Enter To Win

I am so thrilled to be apart of this week's release week launch for Jeaniene Frost's The Beautiful Ashes. I'm really looking forward to reading this book (review coming soon). Check out more about the book, read an excerpt and enter to win below!

the beautiful ashes

Title: The Beautiful Ashes
Author: Jeaniene Frost
Expected Publication: August 26th, 2014


  About The Beautiful Ashes 

In a world of shadows, anything is possible. Except escaping your fate. Ever since she was a child, Ivy has been gripped by visions of strange realms just beyond her own. But when her sister goes missing, Ivy discovers the truth is far worse—her hallucinations are real, and her sister is trapped in a parallel realm. And the one person who believes her is the dangerously attractive guy who's bound by an ancient legacy to betray her. Adrian might have turned his back on those who raised him, but that doesn't mean he can change his fate…no matter how strong a pull he feels toward Ivy. Together they search for the powerful relic that can save her sister, but Adrian knows what Ivy doesn't: that every step brings Ivy closer to the truth about her own destiny, and a war that could doom the world. Sooner or later, it will be Ivy on one side and Adrian on the other. And nothing but ashes in between…

Buy Links Amazon | BN
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  About Jeaniene Frost


Jeaniene Frost is the New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author of the Night Huntress series, the Night Prince series, and the upcoming Broken Destiny series. To date, foreign rights for her novels have sold to twenty different countries. Jeaniene lives in North Carolina with her husband Matthew, who long ago accepted that she rarely cooks and always sleeps in on the weekends. Aside from writing, Jeaniene enjoys reading, poetry, watching movies with her husband, exploring old cemeteries, spelunking and traveling – by car. Airplanes, children, and cook books frighten her. For information on Jeaniene's books, reading the first 20% of each book free, book trailers, deleted scenes, creature mythology, and more, please visit: www.jeanienefrost.com
Twitter Facebook | Goodreads | Website

Read an Excerpt

“What is that?”

 Adrian’s voice startled me. For a second, I was disoriented, the dream clinging to me as it always did. Yes, I was in a car, but I wasn’t the unknown woman driving away from her baby. That wasn’t real. The glare Adrian leveled at my chest was, though.

 “Is that a mirror?” He sounded horrified.

 I looked down. My locket was open, the mirrored side facing me. At some point while I was sleeping, I must’ve opened it. Adrian’s hand shot out, but this time, I was too fast for him.

 “Don’t you dare,” I snapped, holding it out of his reach. “It’s the only picture I have of my sister after you left everything I own back at that hotel in Bennington!”

 He lunged again, actually letting go of the steering wheel to reach the side of the car where I held it. With a sharp yank, he wrested the locket from my hands. I tried to snatch it back, but he shoved me into my seat with one hand, finally grabbing the steering wheel with the other.

 “Are you crazy?” I shrieked. “You could’ve gotten us killed!” If this hadn’t been a lonely stretch of desert road, our careening into the next lane might’ve had permanent consequences.

 “You’re going to get yourself killed,” was his chilling response. Then, still pinning me to my chair with that single hand, he held my locket up.

 I gasped. Something dark poked out of the small mirror, like a snake made of blackest smoke. It disappeared when Adrian smashed the mirror against the steering wheel, but an eerie wind whistled through the car, ruffling my hair and stinging my nostrils with its acrid scent.

 Adrian muttered a word in that unknown language, and I didn’t need a translator to tell me it was a curse.

 “What was that?” My voice was hoarse.

 He threw me a pitying glance, which frightened me even more. If he wasn’t angry, we must really be screwed.

 His next words proved that. “Brace yourself, Ivy. You’re about to meet a demon.”

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Covering Kendall by Julie Brannagh; Cover Reveal

Weclome to today's cover reveal for Julie Brannagh's COVERING KENDALL!




COVERING KENDALL
By: Julie Brannagh
Published by: William Morrow / Harper Collins
On Sale: 10/21/2014

Kendall Tracy, General Manager of the San Francisco Miners, is not one for rash decisions or one-night stands. But when she finds herself alone in a hotel room with a heart-stoppingly gorgeous man-who looks oddly familiar-Kendall throws her own rules out the window…and they blow right back into her face. Drew McCoy should look familiar, he’s a star player for her team’s archrival the Seattle Sharks. Which would basically make Drew and Kendall the Romeo and Juliet of professional football…well, without all the dying. Not that it’s an issue. They agree to pretend their encounter never happened. Nothing good can come from it anyway, right? Drew’s not so sure. Kendall may be all wrong, but he can’t stop thinking about her and he finds that some risks are worth taking. Because the stakes are always highest when you’re playing for keeps.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre; Release Day Launch: Read An Excerpt & Enter To Win

IWITW RDL Banner  

I am so thrilled to bring you the Release Day Launch for Ann Aguirre's I WANT IT THAT WAY! I WANT IT THAT WAY is a New Adult contemporary romance and is the first book in the 2B Trilogy Series, published by Harlequin HQN. I can't wait to read this book and fall in love with Ann's characters. Read the excerpt, then go grab your copy today!!

I Want It That Way

I WANT IT THAT WAY Synopsis: 

 Nadia Conrad has big dreams, and she’s determined to make them come true. But between maintaining her college scholarship and working at the local day care to support herself, dating’s the last thing on her mind. Then she moves into a new apartment and meets the taciturn yet irresistible guy in 1B…. 

 Daniel Tyler has grown up too fast. Becoming a single dad at twenty turned his life upside down—and brought him heartache he can’t risk again. Now, as he raises his four-year-old son while balancing a full-time construction management job and night classes, the last thing he wants is noisy students living in the apartment upstairs. But one night, Nadia’s and Ty’s paths cross, and soon they can’t stay away from each other. 

 The timing is all wrong—but love happens when it happens. And you can’t know what you truly need until you stand to lose it. 

"A tender, sweet, and sexy story about how life—and falling in love—can never be planned." —Jennifer L. Armentrout, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Wait for You

Buy it from: Amazon | B&N | BAM | Indiebound | Book Depository | iTunes
Add it to Goodreads


IWITW Teaser

Read the First Chapter HERE!


Read an EXCERPT: 


“Where are you from?”
Ah, an actual question. That means I can ask one back.
“Nebraska, toward the South Dakota and Wyoming side, if that helps.”
“I’ve never met anyone from there.”
Michigan was a long way from home. “I usually get ‘not in Nebraska anymore’ jokes, and then I have to decide if I’m going to remind them that’s Kansas or play along.”
“What do you usually do?”
“Play along.”
“You don’t like conflict, huh?” He sounded normal tonight, as if talking to me wasn’t an unpleasant chore anymore.
That was a relief since I’d come to look forward to these moments with him so much. More, maybe, than I’d like to admit.Right. Friends. I distracted myself by considering his question. “Not if it can be avoided. I’m not what you’d call pugnacious, no. But I like to think I don’t back off important issues. What about you?”
“No.” His voice was bleak and quiet. “I don’t. Even when I should.”
Wow, that took a dark turn.
If I could’ve jumped onto his patio without breaking an ankle or waking Sam, I’d have been down there like a shot. The distance between us seemed intolerable, and from the knot in my throat, I didn’t see how I could live another second without touching him, finding out if his hair was as soft as it looked or what he smelled like. I wanted him in a way I never had before.
In high school, I had a boyfriend who played basketball, and we broke up when I left the state. It was a rational decision, and I didn’t miss him that much once I was gone. My freshman year, I went out with a lot of different guys, one date here, two dates there, but I never clicked with anyone enough to focus on them. Sometimes there were hookups with no strings, no expectations. Classes, friends and work seemed a lot more important. The intensity of this attraction was foreign and frightening, if exhilarating. I might already be backing off if I had the faintest sense that Ty was jerking me around on purpose.
Wish he didn’t make me feel this way. It’d be so much simpler if I could friend-zone him.
I realized I still hadn’t touched his verbal grenade. “We all have things we’d do differently in hindsight.”
“What is it about you?” he asked in a wondering tone.
“Huh?”
“You make me…better. Calmer.”
“Like a sedative?” I snickered. It was the least sexy thing a guy had ever said to me, including a junior high squeeze who said my face wasn’t actually that bad.
He laughed, too, a sheepish sound. “I didn’t mean it like that. Just…I’m worried pretty much all the time that I’m dropping the ball somewhere, about to face-plant, but when I come out here and hear your voice, everything backs off like ten steps. I can breathe again.”


IWITW Available now    

About Ann Aguirre
   Author Photo

 Ann Aguirre is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author and RITA winner with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, and various pets. Ann likes books, emo music, action movies, and she writes all kinds of genre fiction for adults and teens, published with Harlequin, Macmillan, and Penguin, among others.   

Find Ann via: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Goodreads | Newsletter SignUp

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Reluctantly Royal by Nichole Chase, Release Day Launch: Read An Excerpt & Enter To Win

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I am beyond excited about the Release Day Launch of Nichole Chase's RELUCTANTLY ROYAL!! RELUCTANTLY ROYAL is a New Adult contemporary romance novel being published by HarperCollins Avon imprint and is the third book in Nichole Chase’s Suddenly Series. I have heard fabulous things about this swoony romance and can't wait to start reading it.

  Reluctantly Royal final cover

RELUCTANTLY ROYAL Synopsis: 

 Maxwell Jameson Trevor, prince of Lilaria, hates his royal role. Despising the limelight, he takes solace in his art studio and steers clear of any drama. But when one of the newly discovered royals passes away, Maxwell's brother Alex asks him to break the news to the old man's granddaughter. Though he hates to be the bearer of doom and gloom, he doesn't want the poor girl to find out from the tabloids. For Maxwell knows all too well how devastating that could be. 

 Coming from a broken home and modest background, newly ordained Lady Meredith Thysmer has seized her chance to make a better life for herself and her son. She's not afraid to use her best assets to get what she wants. But when the unpretentious yet devastatingly handsome Max delivers his news, her plans for the future come crashing to a halt. In the challenging days ahead, Max's compassion, humor, and steadfast loyalty to Meredith and her son win her over. She quickly finds herself doing something she swore would never happen again: falling in love. And yet Maxwell still refuses to completely drop his guard. Somehow Meredith's got to find a way to seduce this reluctant royal.

Buy it fromAmazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Kobo | iBooks

RR Teaser 1

Read an Excerpt: 


As I turned to leave the room, my eyes fell on a sketch pad and I couldn’t help myself. Sitting back down in the chair I flipped it open and smiled at the drawings inside. Marty had promise for such a young kid. Turning to a blank page, I glanced around and searched for a pencil. Charcoal would be best, but pencil would do.

I started with the lines of his forehead, the curve of his impish nose, the roundness of his cheeks. I was lost in the sketch, enjoying the shadows, the tenderness in his expression, working to capture that moment of utter innocence.

“That’s beautiful.” Her voice was soft.

I looked up from what I was doing, not surprised that she had snuck up on me. When I’m lost in a project, the world disappears; the only thing I’m aware of are the layers of the project I’m working on.

“He’s a good subject.” I turned back to the paper and finished up the shading of the blanket.

“Only because he’s asleep and not moving.” Her quiet laugh sent shivers over my body.

“That does help.” I smiled up at her. “But it’s the contrast. The contrast of him awake versus him asleep. He looks so young right now, so innocent.”

“What do you mean?” She leaned closer to look at the picture.

“He’s so mature, quick-witted.” I whispered the words. “But here he is, looking like the child he is.”

“His teachers say that,” she said. “That he’s quick to pick things up.”

“I’d say so.” I turned and handed her the sketch pad. “I hope you don’t mind that I drew him. The light and shadows were too perfect to resist.” Sort of like her right now. The way the moonlight glinted in her eyes and shone along her hair. Her perfect features would make any artist ache to draw them. Her pixie nose, the heavy eyelashes, the curve of her body hinted at by the oversized sweater she had wrapped around herself. It made my palms itch. Partly because I just wanted to touch her, to see if she would taste as sweet as she looked in that moment.

“Thank you for keeping him entertained.” She stood up. “Can I keep this?”

“Of course.” I stood up and stretched. Her eyes swept over my chest and then back up to my face. Maybe I wasn’t the only one tempted to touch. I hated to admit it, but I had a flare of pride. “I enjoyed hanging out with him.”

I was surprised to realize I meant it. I never would have thought spending time with a six-year-old would have been enjoyable.

“Looks like he did too.” She moved away from the door and I followed her into the hallway.

“Did you get everything settled?”

“I think so.” She frowned.

“What’s wrong?” Her expression worried me.

“Granddad would have hated a large ceremony.” She sighed and headed for the stairs. “But I guess that as a duke there are some things that have to happen.”

“I don’t blame your grandfather.” I followed behind her. “I would want a small ceremony, not to be made into a production.”

“I’m starting to think you don’t like any type of production.” She looked at me over shoulder.

“Not really, no.” I wasn’t going to lie. “I don’t like being the focus, being the center of attention. It makes me uncomfortable.” I wasn’t going to lie, but I hadn’t intended to tell her so much about me.

“And yet you agreed to help me with my grandfather’s funeral.” She turned to me at the bottom of the stairs and set the sketch pad on a table. “Why?”

I stared at her for a minute, enjoying the way her eyes looked up at me, the tilt of her chin, the way her hair cascaded around her shoulders. “I don’t know.”
Unable to help myself, I reached out and touched her cheek with my fingers. Her pupils dilated and she inhaled softly. With one thumb I traced the dip under her plump bottom lip. Her hand reached up to trace my jaw and she took a step closer to me.

“You should be running from me as fast as you can.” She whispered the words. “I’m everything you don’t want.”

“I’m not so sure.”

“I live for the spotlight, it’s my food.” Her eyes were half lidded as she edged closer to my mouth. “And you’ve seen my family. I’m trouble, Max.”
Did I care? I wasn’t sure I was capable of making a real decision as her smell wrapped around my senses. The only thing I knew was that I wanted to taste her, to touch her, to press her against my body. To hear her say my name again.

Dipping my head, I grazed her lips with mine and I was lost. On a sigh, she leaned into me and wrapped her hands around my neck. Tilting her head back, I brought my mouth to hers carefully, softly, tasting. I wanted to deepen the kiss, to hear her moan, to feel the way her body could wrap around mine, but I kept it soft, sweet, and simple. She was in such a hard place, she needed to be protected, treasured by someone.

And right now, I was that person.


RR Teaser 2      

About Author Nichole Chase


Author Photo

Nichole Chase is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Suddenly Royal, Flukes, The Dark Betrayal Trilogy, and several short stories. She is also the instructor of Say What? a dialogue class at the Romance Academy. Nichole lives in Georgia with her husband, energetic daughter, superhero dog, Sulcata tortoise, and two cats. When not writing, you may find her reading, painting, crafting, or chasing her daughter around the house while making monster noises.  

Find Nicole viaWebsite | Twitter | Facebook | Author Goodreads 


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Stealing His Heart by Jen McLaughlin, Release Day Launch

Romance readers, check out Jen McLaughlin's newest release, STEALING HIS HEART!



BOOK SUMMARY:


A sexy category romance from Entangled publishing’s Brazen imprint…
Shillings Agency employee Jake Forsythe is not happy to discover that the thief who he has to track down is none other than his ex-partner from his past. Now he’s forced to blackmail her into submission…or throw her in jail.
Tara Harris steals from the rich and corrupted, returning objects to their rightful owners one case at a time. When Jake shows up in her life, at first, she’s thrilled. But then when she finds out that she has to help the man she stole from or go to jail…it’s the choice between two evils.
These two can’t deny the burning passion between them, but when push comes to shove, they’ll have to lay their hearts and their lives on the line.
Buy it from: Amazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads


About the Author




Diane Alberts is a multi-published, bestselling contemporary romance author with Entangled Publishing. She also writes New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling new adult books under the name Jen McLaughlin. She’s hit the Top 100 lists on Amazon and Barnes and Noble numerous times with numerous titles. She was mentioned in Forbes alongside E. L. James as one of the breakout independent authors to dominate the bestselling lists. Diane is represented by Louise Fury at The Bent Agency. 
Diane has always been a dreamer with a vivid imagination, but it wasn’t until 2011 that she put her pen where her brain was, and became a published author.  Since receiving her first contract offer, she has yet to stop writing. Though she lives in the mountains, she really wishes she was surrounded by a hot, sunny beach with crystal clear water. She lives in Northeast Pennsylvania with her four kids, a husband, a schnauzer mutt, and a cat. Her goal is to write so many fantastic stories that even a non-romance reader will know her name.
Author Links:
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Friday, August 22, 2014

Sleeping With The Boss by Marissa Clarke, Blog Tour: Excerpt & Giveaway


Hello & welcome to today's tour stop for Marissa Clarke's newest release, Sleeping With The Boss, hosted by IBookblogging. Today's post features both an excerpt and a giveaway  First, a little bit about the book: 


Published by: Entangled Publishing
Released on: 8/11/14
Series: Anderson Brothers, Book #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Add it to Goodreads
Purchase it from: Amazon | B&N

For the last five years, bookish Claire Maddox has been living for the dying. Now that her stint as caretaker is over, she’s off to see the world. She needs quick cash first, so a temp job at Anderson Auctions seems perfect, especially with the unexpected benefits, including the hottest man she’s ever laid eyes—or hands—on.
Former Marine William Anderson has been burned one time too many. His military training makes him the perfect man to flush out the spy undercutting his family business, but no amount of training can prepare him for the kind of undercover work he’ll have to do when the sexy new temp is implicated. Desire lands them in bed...but duty may cost him his heart.
GREAT NEWS! The book is only 99¢ for the first week! 

Industry Blurbs (reviews):

"Will Anderson can be my boss any day. Marissa Clarke is a master at mixing sexy and mystery." - Jennifer L. Armentrout, # 1 New York Times bestselling author

"Sexy, smart, fun! A fabulous new voice in contemporary romance!" Sophie Jordan, New York Times bestselling author

Read an Excerpt:

She took a bite and chewed for a moment before answering. “Yeah. Well, I’ve taken care of people my whole life, pretty much. Now all those people are gone. For the first time ever, I’m free.”

“So you turned down my offer for lunch because...?”

Her eyes shot up to his. “Because I’d reached my all- time record number of Claire-isms for the day and the earth might have exploded if I committed another.”

“Claire-ism?”

She ate a bite of yogurt and nodded. “Yeah. When something goes massively wrong or especially when something is embarrassing, my friend Heather calls it a Claire-ism. I’m forever doing odd or embarrassing things.”

“Your skirt ripping was a Claire-ism.”


“A prime example. So was spilling my purse.”

He nodded. “So how does that relate to my lunch offer?”

“That had massive Claire-ism potential.”


He smiled—he found himself doing that constantly around her—and took another bite of the roast beef sandwich. “In what regard?”

“In every regard. First, I wasn’t sure you meant it. Second, I would have done something awkward. Third, it made no sense.” She dipped her spoon in the yogurt, and he watched her pull the utensil between her lips.
He leaned closer, staring at her full mouth before reluctantly dragging his gaze back to her deep hazel eyes. “First, I meant it. Really meant it.” Her breath caught, and she blinked slowly. “Second,” he said, leaning even closer—close enough to smell something floral, perhaps her shampoo, “something that you consider awkward, I might like. Take the ripped skirt for example—I liked that a lot.” A blush crept up her neck and over her face. “And as for not making sense...” He leaned back in his chair. “Go out to dinner with me so I can show you how much sense it makes.” She remained silent, but her eyes never left his. “Say yes,” he prompted, surprised at how badly he wanted her to agree.
Check out the Trailer


About the Author

 

Marissa Clarke lives in Texas, where everything is bigger, especially the mosquitoes.
When not writing, she wrangles her rowdy pack of three teens, husband, and a Cairn Terrier named Annabel, who rules the house (and Marissa's heart) with an iron paw.
Marissa Clarke is a pseudonym. Her real name is Mary Lindsey and she also writes young adult novels for Penguin USA. www.marylindsey.com
She loves to connect with readers and can be found at www.marissaclarke.com and on Twitter at @MaryL_MarissaC

For updates and insider information on Marissa’s upcoming books, subscribe here: http://tinyurl.com/marissanews


The Giveaway
Enter to win a Kindle Paperwhite + two $25 Amazon or B&N gift cards

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Collectors' Society by Heather Lyons, Cover Reveal

The Collectors' Society teaser 1  

 I am so excited to be apart of Inkslingers' cover reveal for Heather Lyons' THE COLLECTORS' SERIES! 

THE COLLECTORS’ SOCIETY is an Adult Romantic Fairy Tale, full of adventure and fantasy. This is Alice as you have never seen her before... THE COLLECTORS’ SOCIETY is set to be released on October 23rd!

  The Collectors' Society front cover

THE COLLECTORS’ SOCIETY Synopsis: 
From the author of the Fate series and The Deep End of the Sea comes a fantastical romantic adventure that has Alice tumbling down the strangest rabbit hole yet. 

After years in Wonderland, Alice has returned to England as an adult, desperate to reclaim sanity and control over her life. An enigmatic gentleman with an intriguing job offer too tempting to resist changes her plans for a calm existence, though. Soon, she’s whisked to New York and initiated into the Collectors’ Society, a secret organization whose members confirm that famous stories are anything but straightforward and that what she knows about the world is only a fraction of the truth. 

 It’s there she discovers villains are afoot—ones who want to shelve the lives of countless beings. Assigned to work with the mysterious and alluring Finn, Alice and the rest of the Collectors’ Society race against a doomsday clock in order to prevent further destruction . . . but will they make it before all their endings are erased?

The Collectors' Society full wrap  

About Heather Lyons: 

Author Photo

Heather Lyons has always had a thing for words—She’s been writing stories since she was a kid. In addition to writing, she’s also been an archaeologist and a teacher. Heather is a rabid music fan, as evidenced by her (mostly) music-centric blog, and she’s married to an even larger music snob. They’re happily raising three kids who are mini music fiends who love to read and be read to.      

Website ** Author Goodreads ** Twitter ** Facebook

Friday, August 15, 2014

Stay With Me by J. Lynn, Teaser from Avon Romance

Have you checked out the sizzling teaser from J. Lynn's upcoming release, Stay With Me? Avon Romance shared the teaser here, which I've also posted below. I'm warning you, you'll swoon.... Actually before you read it, here's a little bit about Stay With Me.


The #1 New York Times bestselling author of Wait for You and Be with Me returns with a daring tale that pushes boundaries . . . in which a young woman learns that you can't run from your past—no matter how far you go At twenty-one, Calla hasn't done a lot of things.

 She's never been kissed, never seen the ocean, never gone to an amusement park. But growing up, she witnessed some things no child ever should. She still carries the physical and emotional scars of living with a strung-out mother, Mona—secrets she keeps from everyone, including her close circle of college friends. But the safe cocoon Calla has carefully built is shattered when she discovers her mom has stolen her college money and run up a huge credit card debt in her name. Now Calla has to go back to the small town she thought she'd left behind and clean up her mom's mess again. Of course, when she arrives at her mother's bar, Mona is nowhere to be found. Instead, six feet of hotness named Jackson James is pouring drinks and keeping the place humming. 

Sexy and intense, Jax is in Calla's business from the moment they meet, giving her a job and helping her search for Mona. And the way he looks at her makes it clear he wants to get horizontal . . . and maybe something more. Before Calla can let him get close, though, she's got to deal with the pain of the past—and some very bad guys out to mess her up if she doesn't give them her mom. 

From AVON ROMANCE:


As Calla would say, holy crap on a cracker! Yesterday, we got our very first taste of STAY WITH ME, the upcoming novel from #1 New York Times bestseller and all around awesome gal Jennifer Armentrout. USA Today's Happy Every After exclusively revealed the scene when Calla and mega-hottie Jax meet, and now we can give you a peek here! Check it out below, and don't forget that BE WITH ME, the second book in the series, is on sale in e-book for only 99 cents!


"You look like you could use a drink."
I twisted toward the sound of a surprisingly deep male voice, a voice so deep and smooth, it rolled over my skin like I'd been draped in satin. I started to point out that, duh, since I was standing in a bar, I probably did look like I needed a drink, but the snappy words died on my tongue as I faced the horseshoe-shaped bar.
At first, the guy behind the bar seemed to have straightened, as if he was drawing back. It was a strange reaction. In this low lighting and the way I was standing, there was no way he saw the scar, but then I got a real good look at him, and I wasn't paying attention to that anymore.
Oh my, my, my ...
There was a man behind the bar, the kind of guy I would not ever in the history of ever expect to see behind Mona's bar.
Whoa, hot-bartender alert to the max.
Goodness, he was gorgeous, stunning in the way Jase Winstead was, maybe even more so, because I couldn't quite remember seeing someone who looked as good as he did in real life, and I was only seeing Hot Bartender Dude from the waist up.
He had brown hair that looked like a rich, warm color under the brighter lights of the bar area. It was cut close to the skull on the sides and a little longer on the top. Wavy, it was styled back off his forehead in an artfully messy look, showing off his broad and high cheekbones. His skin was tan, hinting at some kind of foreign and exotic ancestry. With a strong and sculpted jaw that could cut rock, he could be the poster boy for shaving ads. Under a straight nose that had a slight hook in it were the fullest, most downright sinful, pair of lips I'd ever seen on a guy.
Good lawd, I could stare at those lips for hours, like way beyond the acceptable time limit and right into creeperville, population Calla. I forced my gaze back up.
His brows appeared to be naturally arched over the corners of his eyes, which drew the attention right to his eyes.
Brown eyes.
Brown eyes that were currently slowly and casually drifting over me in a way that felt like a warm caress. My lips parted on an inhale.
He was wearing a worn gray shirt that clung to broad shoulders and an unbelievably defined chest. I mean, I could actually see the cut of his chest through the shirt. Holy crap, who knew that was even possible? From what I could see down to where the bar top cut him off was an equally hard, and probably equally dazzling, stomach.
If this dude went to Shepherd, he would've dethroned Jase for lieutenant of the Hot Guy Brigade. And the sigh associated with Hot Bartender Dude would most definitely be felt around the world and in the lady parts.
Probably in some boy parts, too.
Those delicious lips curved up on one side. Yep, he even had a panty-dropping hot smile. "You okay, honey?"
He used the term honey like it was natural to him. Not cheesy or slimy, but a sexy endearment that had my belly warming.
And I was staring at him like an idiot.
"Yeah." I found my voice to say one word, and it had croaked out of me. God, I wanted to body-slam myself through the floor as heat zinged across my cheeks.
That sexy half grin tipped up a notch as he extended an arm, curling his fingers back toward him. "Why don't you come over here and have a seat?"
Okay.
My feet moved forward without any brain involvement because, seriously, who didn't respond when Hot Bartender Dude wiggled long fingers at you like that? I found my butt planted in a bar stool with a ripped and slightly uncomfortable cushion.
Dear God in Heaven, up close like this, he was truly a masculine masterpiece of mouthwatering hotness.
That half grin didn't fade as he placed his palms on the edge of the bar top. "What's your poison?"
I blinked at him, real slow like, and all I could think about was why in the hell was he working in this dump? He could be in magazines, or on the TV, or at least working at the steak house down the street.
Hot Bartender Dude tilted his head to the side as his grin spread to the other corner of that freaking mouth. "Honey ...?"
I resisted the urge to plop my elbows on the bar top and stare up at him, even though I was already halfway to doing that. "Yes?" He chuckled softly as he leaned in, and I mean, waaay in. Within a second, he was all up in my personal space, his mouth mere inches from mine, and his biceps flexed, stretching the worn material of his shirt.
Oh my golly gee, I hoped his shirt just ripped up the sides and fell right off.
"What would you like to drink?" he asked.
What I would like was to watch his mouth move some more. "Um ..." My brain emptied.
He arched a brow as his gaze tracked from my mouth to my eyes. "Do I need to card you?"
That snapped me out of my hot-inducing stupor. "No. Not at all. I'm twenty-one."
"You sure?"
Heat infused my face again. "I swear." "Pinky swear?"
My gaze dipped to his now-extended hand and to his pinky. "Seriously?"
A dimple started to form in his right cheek as his grin turned into a smile. Holy crapola, if he had a set of dimples, I was so in trouble. "Do I look like I'm not serious?"
He looked like he was up to absolutely no good as I stared at him. There was a downright mischievous glimmer to his warm, cocoa eyes. My lips started to twitch, and then I reached up and wrapped my pinky around his much larger one.
"Pinky swear," I said, thinking that was one hell of a way to verify age.
That grin of his was downright delicious. "Ah, a girl who'll pinky swear is after my own heart."
Yeah, I had no clue how to respond to that.
Instead of letting go as I pulled my hand away, he slipped his fingers around my wrist in a gentle, but firm, hold. As my eyes started to pop out of my head, he somehow got closer, and he smelled ... good. A mixture of spice and soap that went straight to my before-mentioned lady parts.
My phone went off in my purse, blaring "Brown Eyed Girl." As
I dug around for it, Hot Bartender Dude laughed. "Van Morrison?" he asked.
I nodded absently as my fingers wrapped around the slim phone. The call was from Teresa. I hit silent.
"Nice music taste."
My lashes lifted as I dropped the phone back in my purse. "I ... um, I like the old-school stuff better than what's big today. I mean, they actually sang and played music then. Now they just prance around half naked, scream, or talk through songs. It isn't even about the music anymore."
Appreciation lit up his eyes. "You pinky swear and listen to old- school music? I like you."
"You aren't very hard to impress then."
He tipped his head back, exposing his neck as he laughed, and good golly Miss Molly, it was a damn nice laugh. Deep. Rich. Playful. The sound turned my tummy to mush. "Pinky swearing and music are very important," he said.
"Is that so?"
"Yep." Amusement danced over his face. "So is swearing on Boy
Scout honor."
The twitch at the corners of my lips spread into a grin. "Well, I
was never a Boy Scout, so ..."
"Want to know a secret?" "Sure," I breathed.
He tipped his chin down. "I wasn't a Boy Scout, either."
For some reason, I wasn't very surprised by that. Especially when he was still holding on to my wrist.
"You're not from around here," he announced. Not anymore. "What makes you think that?"
"Well, this is a small town, and Mona's usually sees regulars, and not hot little pieces of distraction like you, so I'm pretty sure you're not from around here."
"I used ..." Wait. What? Hot little pieces of distraction like you?
My train of thought was totally derailed.
He let go of my wrist, and not all at once, and he didn't break eye contact, either. Oh no, it was a slow slide of his fingers along the inside of my wrist and then across my palm to the tips of my fingers, sending a wave of shivers dancing up my arm and then doing a jazz routine down my back.
God, it made me feel crazy, but it felt like there was a spark there. Something tangible that snapped between him and me. Totally insane, but I was finding it hard to breathe and to make sense of my thoughts.
Without taking his eyes off me, he reached down into the ice cooler and pulled out a bottle of beer, twisted off the lid, and sat it on the counter. A second later, I realized there was someone standing next to us.
I glanced to my side, spying a young and good-looking guy with something close to a buzz cut. He nodded at Hot Bartender Dude as he grasped the neck of the bottle. "Thanks, bud."
And then he was off and we were alone again.
"Anyway," Hot Bartender Dude said. "How about I make you my special drink?"


I have a feeling that Jax will be giving Cam and Jase a run for their money...