COVER REVEAL: DRUNK DIAL by Penelope Ward

We are excited to bring you the upcoming standalone from New York Times, USA Today, and #1 Wall Street Journal Bestselling author Penelope Ward.

 DRUNK DIAL will release on AUGUST 21!

Cover designer: Letitia Hasser, RBA designs

Cover Model: Vadim Ivanov

Cover Photography: Kevin Roldan

From New York Times bestselling author Penelope Ward, comes a new, sexy standalone novel.

 It seemed like a good idea at the time. Look up Landon Roderick, that boy from childhood whom I’d never been able to forget—even though he so easily forgot about me—and call him.

Then again, anything sounds like a good idea when you’ve had a little too much wine before bed, right? It was supposed to be just a quick, meaningless, prank call. Instead, I went off on him—unloading thirteen years of pent-up emotions.

I didn’t think he’d call me back.

I certainly could never have anticipated the weeks of sexually tense phone conversations that followed as I got to know the man he’d become.

Turned out, Landon had never really forgotten me, either. That special connection we had was still there. I opened up to him, but there were also things about me he didn’t know. And he had his own secrets.

Over the countless hours we talked on the phone, I wondered what would happen if we actually saw each other. One night, I did something impulsive again. Only this time, I went to the airport and booked a ticket to California. We were about to find out if one phone call could bring two lost souls together or if my drunk dial really was all just a big mistake.

A complete STANDALONE.

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Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today, and #1 Wall Street Journal Bestselling author of thirteen novels. With over a million books sold, her titles have placed on the New York Times Bestseller list sixteen times. She is the proud mother of a beautiful 12-year-old girl with autism (the inspiration for the character Callie in Gemini) and a 10-year-old boy. Penelope, her husband, and kids reside in Rhode Island.

Connect with Penelope Ward

Facebook Fan Group | Facebook | Website |Twitter | Instagram

Other Standalones from Penelope Ward

Mack Daddy:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2kWzE1S
iTunes: http://apple.co/2iNrIPj
B&N: http://hyperurl.co/aiypfj
Kobo: http://hyperurl.co/r3hv19

Neighbor Dearest:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2aWvypX
iBooks: http://apple.co/29mC6L8
Nook: http://bit.ly/2akQ2aq
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2axt1SY

Stepbrother Dearest:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1mFNMeg
iBooks: http://bit.ly/YER0mT
Nook: http://bit.ly/1taMFjG
kobo: http://bit.ly/1fJaaBs

RoomHate:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/294lIeT
iBooks: http://apple.co/1PgsvE7
Nook: http://bit.ly/1PLGnSL
kobo: http://bit.ly/1POvSnW

Mister Moneybags: (co-written with Vi Keeland)
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2ny7GhN
iBooks: http://smarturl.it/3y1tuq
Nook: http://smarturl.it/kx7h8m
Kobo: http://smarturl.it/qqf5ho

Playboy Pilot: (co-written with Vi Keeland)
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2dbetFA
iBooks: http://apple.co/1Wb06Cf
Nook: http://bit.ly/2c9vRdV
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2ctb6dv

Stuck-Up Suit: (co-written with Vi Keeland)
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1S3LnpZ
iBooks: http://apple.co/1Qbwy57
Nook: http://bit.ly/29vrQhV
Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/stuck-up-suit

Cocky Bastard: (co-written with Vi Keeland)
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1MvHLg2
iBooks: http://apple.co/1PffE2J
Nook: http://bit.ly/1EjxNpY
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1UxCSUO

Sins of Sevin:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1F9tbc3
iBooks: http://apple.co/1K8mzGg
Nook: http://bit.ly/1hTKAKE
kobo: http://bit.ly/1OaGY3D

Jake Undone (Jake #1):
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1dJrHBC
Nook: http://bit.ly/1obAwJ6
iBooks: http://apple.co/1fJayQ8
kobo: http://bit.ly/1SPKl0M

Jake Understood (Jake #2):
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1GFdves
Nook: http://bit.ly/1FwJC0z
iBooks: http://apple.co/1DQQwgC
kobo: http://bit.ly/1LQ7Fvk

My Skylar
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1obOG2F
iBooks: http://bit.ly/SLNOTR
Nook: http://bit.ly/SLO1qi
kobo: http://bit.ly/1kNrtAB

Gemini:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1vgk1SE
Nook: http://bit.ly/1KfmLHD
iBooks: http://apple.co/1QTaONj
kobo: http://bit.ly/1BGJ2wu

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RELEASE REVIEW AND GIVEAWAY: Elusive by L.A. Fiore

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About the Book(1)

 

I didn’t set out to be a pirate.

Life for me was about surviving the ugliness that people knew existed but didn’t talk about.

I lived in hell.

Then I saw her.

I knew I couldn’t keep her, but for just a little while I had found heaven.

Eight years later, I can’t get her out of my head.

It is a mistake sailing to her island.

It is a mistake reaching out to her.

She doesn’t recognize me. Or maybe she does.

Closure, it is all I’m after.

Then my past comes back to haunt me.

She’s thrust into my ruthless world. An angel.

A romantic who has a journal that leads to a shipwreck and a lost treasure.

She wants to find the ending to a love story that is over two hundred years in the making.

I want to help her find it.I didn’t set out to be a pirate.
I didn’t set out to fall in love with an angel.
I did both anyway.

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In a person’s lifetime, a bevy of wishes and dreams will elude them, seemingly just out of reach, and while most will more than likely be forgotten, not factoring into their future, a few will always be remembered and be yearned for, keeping individuals hoping against hope that these impossibilities can be obtained despite the risks and heartache that might occur the closer they get to what they’ve always wanted but can’t quite find a way to hold on indefinitely.

The hero and the heroine of Elusive understand how transient life is, leading to choices and decisions that irrevocably change their lives and put them on a course that they never thought possible or perhaps hoped that they would never journey because it meant they were let down by other people’s actions. And while there’s no need to compare their drastically different lifestyles, both growing up and as adults, what’s important to understand is the fact that their chosen paths led them to each other and regardless of how fleeting their time together may be, the knowledge of what they brought/bring to one another’s life will always be present despite the fact that they physically might not be.

I understand L.A. Fiore’s difficulty writing this story because the span of time, the multiple settings, and the extraordinary events that occur are expansive, requiring quite a bit of world building and story manufacturing, which means that the primary story might get lost in translation unless meticulous care is taken to keep the true tale at the forefront of the book. But I can say unequivocally that at the heart of Elusive is a beautiful love story – one that is both romantic and passionate as well as adventurous and chaotic.

Elusive tells a multitude of stories – ones about individuals who are alive and are writing their stories as they live them as well as ones about those who can no longer tell their own tales but still deserve their voices to be heard regardless of how long they’ve been silenced – all narratives that are important to the overarching tale that takes place between the angelic treasure hunter and the recklessly dangerous pirate.

I can’t tell you how excited I was to start Elusive; I’ve read a lot of L.A. Fiore’s books, and I’ve always loved them, but the adventurous journey she takes readers on in Willow and her pirate’s story is truly magical. It’s definitely a book that will stay with me long after I’ve finished this review and moved on to other stories because readers don’t find too many gems like Elusive…simply because, its uniqueness, the interconnectedness that exists between the various plot lines in the story, and the time span involved in truly illustrating all that encompasses the characters and their adventures set this magical tale apart from a multitude of stories in the romance genre. 

I cannot wait for the next pirate’s story…with everything that readers know about him from Elusive, it will be interesting to see what adventures L.A. Fiore takes him on and the woman Fiore will put in his sights to undo the calm and collected adventurer of the sea.

5 Poison Apples

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Elusive Now Available Audiobook

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About the Author(1)

logo L.A. Fiore is the author of several books including Beautifully Damaged, Collecting the Pieces and His Light in the Dark. Her favorite movie is Star Wars, a love her son shares. They hope to build their own Millennium Falcon one day. She would like to meet the Winchester Boys to thank them for enlightening her on the versatility of salt as not just a food enhancer, but as protection from supernatural threats. And she thinks it would be interesting to be a zombie, to get an idea of what life is like as a brain-addicted fiend so she can be their voice to tell their side of the story. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and kids, their two spoiled cats and their awesome dog.

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COVER REVEAL: HARD WOOD by Lauren Blakely

HARD WOOD is coming October 23, 2017!

A standalone romance told from the male Point-of-View, HARD WOOD is the final hot and hilarious book in the Big Rock series.

Pre-order your copy today!

Kindle users—stay tuned for the preorder right before release!

And don’t miss the hot, new cover below!

Cover Design by Helen Williams with Photography by Wander Aguiar Photography

About HARD WOOD

Women often say a good man is hard to find. And a hard man is even better.

That’s why I’m quite a catch— good, hard, loaded, and wait for it…I’m ready to settle down too. But the woman I want to pitch my tent with is precisely the one I need to stay far away from.

After that fantastic night with Mia Summers, I’m ready to give her many more. But there’s a hitch in my plans — she just hired my company. If there’s one thing I’m committed to, it’s running a squeaky clean adventure tour business. One of the iron-clad rules?

Don’t screw your customers.

I can follow my own guidelines. After all, it’s only a week-long trip with Mia and her employees over the trails and down the hills I guide them on. I can obey the rules—even if it’s hard in the woods.

I’m about to give myself a badge of honor when the storm of the century hits, sending everyone else running for cover, but us—my biggest temptation and me, alone for a long weekend. You don’t screw the client, especially when you’re already in love with her . . .

But what’s a guy to do when she’s so hard to resist?

PREORDER YOUR COPY TODAY!

✦ iBooks ✦ Barnes & Noble ✦ Kobo ✦ Google Play ✦ Amazon 

✦ Kindle Preorder alert (via Lauren’s newsletter) 

✦ Goodreads 

About Lauren Blakely

A #1 New York Times Bestselling author, Lauren Blakely is known for her contemporary romance style that’s hot, sweet and sexy. She lives in California with her family and has plotted entire novels while walking her dogs. With fourteen New York Times bestsellers, her titles have appeared on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestseller Lists more than eighty times, and she’s sold more than 2 million books. In September, she’ll release MOST VALUABLE PLAYBOY, a standalone sports romance. To receive an email when Lauren releases a new book, sign up for her newsletter! laurenblakely.com/newsletter

Website ** Facebook ** Twitter ** Newsletter ** Goodreads

 

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COVER REVEAL: #MyNewLife by M.E. Carter

Title: Balance Check
A #MyNewLife Novel
Author: M.E. Carter
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Cover Design: Murphy Rae, Indie Solutions
Release Date: August 18, 2017
Blurb
Life has a funny way of throwing you off balance.

Take me for example. I spent years in a bad marriage with a self-serving ass, only to have the love of my life show up when I least expected him. Greg helped me on my journey of self discovery and taught me that, no, I’m not perfect. But I’m perfectly me.  It was an amazing journey.

We laughed hard. We loved even harder.

And then he was suddenly and cruelly ripped away from me by the unclenching jaws of fate.

Ok, so it wasn’t that dramatic. And I really need to stop watching the Investigation Channel.

But now Greg is back and as it turns out, re-incorporating someone into your life isn’t that easy. Between jobs, kids, and barely-there friendships, life and love can be messy. Making it all work is a balancing act.

But we’re determined to get it in check.

Also Available
NEW RELEASE!!
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

 

Author Bio
Mother, reader, storytellerME Carter never set out to write books. But when a friend practically forced a copy of Twilight into her hands, the love of the written word she had lost as a child was rekindled. With a story always rolling around in her head, it should come as no surprise that she finally started putting them on paper. She lives in Texas with her four children, Mary, Elizabeth, Carter and Bug, who sadly was born long after her pen name was created, and will probably need extensive therapy because of it.

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COVER RE-REVEALS AND EXCERPTS: Men of Lovibond Series by Georgia Cates

Title: Tap
Series: Men of Lovibond #1
Author: Georgia Cates
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Cover Design: Indie Formatting Service
Release Date: January 10, 2016
Blurb

Craft beer and the sexy men who brew it.

A faceless name. That’s all she was when I agreed to play a part in deceiving her. But then the unplanned happened.

We met. And all I wanted from her was a dirty weekend . . . until that wasn’t enough and I longed for so much more.

Lawrence Thorn suddenly means the world to me. And that’s a problem. She’s my business partner’s sister. Forbidden fruit. Pursuing her can mean trouble for me at Lovibond Brewery. But I don’t care.

I yearn for her skin against mine.
I crave her smell on my body.
I want to make her laugh and then hear her moan my name.
And she does for a brief moment in time.

But Lawrence wants more than I’m able to give. And it’s a damn shame because there’s no one on earth I want more than her.

An epic love.
A miserable ending.
Unless it’s not.  

Purchase Links
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Free in Kindle Unlimited
Excerpt

Lawrence Thorn

My eyes follow Brou as he leaves the bench and walks away. Sheez. His ass looks great in those jeans. And it looks pretty great not in those jeans too.
I can’t believe I had my hand wrapped around his cock.
I can’t believe he came in my hand.
I can’t believe he stood in front of me naked from the waist down.
I can’t believe he touched me with his fingers between my legs and then sucked them. Fuck. That was hot.
No one has ever made me come so hard in all my life. Brou gives quality orgasms. I can’t wait to have another.

Title: Stout
Series: Men of Lovibond #2
Author: Georgia Cates
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Cover Design: Indie Formatting Service
Release Date: May 10, 2016
Blurb

Craft beer and the sexy men who brew it.

A beautiful neighbor. A complete stranger. That’s all she was when I moved in next door.

Adelyn Maxwell is my neighbor but she’s no girl next door. The more I come to know her, the more I discover she’s a good girl with a lovely dark side. And maybe I don’t want her to stay on her side of the fence.

I want to disturb the rhythm of her pulse.

I want to see the way her hair spills on the bed when she lies beneath me.

I want her to teach me the dirty pretty things she desires behind closed doors. And she does.

But mostly I want to leave my mark on the most intimate, untouched part of her body. Her heart.

A seemingly insignificant intersection of our lives neither of us recalls suddenly becomes a pivotal moment in our future. We aren’t strangers at all. And our paths aren’t crossing for the first time.

These twists and turns of fate will become one of two things: a wrecking ball to tear us apart or the connection to bond us together forever.

Purchase Links
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Free in Kindle Unlimited
Excerpt

Oliver Thorn’s POV from Chapter 6

“Control. And how I feel when you exert your strength over me. Domination. Power. Control. All of it turns me the fuck on.”
“Why?”
“There’s something primal and exhilarating about a man who takes complete control in the bedroom. That’s what it’s about for me. I want to feel desire. Real desire. I need a man who will grab me and make me feel small and vulnerable and feminine. Without hurting me.”
She releases my hands and sits upright, still mounted on top of me. “Outside of the bedroom, it’s all a level playing field. I’m an independent woman, and I control everything in my life. But in the bedroom . . . I want to be controlled by a strong man.”
“And choked.”
“I need an alpha male. I crave the dominance and show of strength he has over me.” She reaches for my hands and intertwines our fingers. “You’re the first man I’ve trusted in years. I couldn’t have let anyone else put their hands on me that way. It had to be you.” She releases my hands and leans over me, propping on her lower arms, but her hands grasp my face. She presses a soft, closemouthed kiss on my lips. “Only you, Thorn.”
She wants an alpha. A controller. A choker.
God help me, I like what I just did to her. I want to do it again. And that’s totally fucked up.
I spent my childhood being controlled, dominated, choked. What kind of person does it make me if I do those things to her? Even if it’s what she wants?
“I can’t, Max.”
She presses her forehead to mine. “You can. You did.” I did. And it was wrong.
So. Fucking. Wrong.
“But not again.”
“I saw your face. You liked my submission. You liked putting your hand on me like that. You weren’t repulsed. And in those few moments when you held my life in your hands, I belonged to you. I knew it. You knew it. And you liked it.”

Author Bio

Georgia resides in rural Mississippi with her wonderful husband, Jeff, and their two beautiful daughters. She spent fourteen years as a labor and delivery nurse before she decided to pursue her dream of becoming an author and hasn’t looked back yet.

When she’s not writing, she’s thinking about writing. When she’s being domestic, she’s listening to her music and visualizing scenes for her current work in progress. Every story coming from her always has a song to inspire it.

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RELEASE BLITZ: REVIEW AND EXCERPT: Swink by Adriana Locke

 

Title: Swink
Series: Landry Family #5
Author: Adriana Locke
Genre: A Standalone Bad Boy/Good Girl Romance
Release Date: July 21, 2017
Blurb

I’m that guy.

Camilla Landry rustles against me, the silky fabric of her overpriced lingerie slipping along my bruised rib. The porcelain perfection of her skin is even more innocent against the colorful ink dotting my own. It’s demure meets damage, pampered meets punctured.

So, yeah, it’s obvious I’m that guy. Dominic Hughes. Her attempt at rebellion. Her bid to see what the other side of the tracks feel like. I’m okay with being used because, from where I’m sitting, the other side of the tracks have never looked so good.

Purchase Links

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

Free in Kindle Unlimited

Review

I LOVE the Landry Clan; they’re a tight knit and protective family – one that has each other’s backs at all times…even when it can seem a bit suffocating. Throughout the series, each one of the Landry boys have found their happily ever afters, working towards their personal goals now as much as they’re used to working on their professional ones, and it’s fitting that the series ends with Camilla’s story, the youngest of the Landry siblings…the one whose secret relationship Adriana Locke teased readers with in Swing, which bolstered my anticipation for Swink, readying me to meet Cam’s new boyfriend and understand why she’s keeping him away from her family at all costs.

Dominic Hughes may be a bad boy from the other side of the tracks, but that doesn’t mean he’s not every bit as honorable and loyal as any of the Landry men. Throughout Swink, readers witness Dom’s never quit attitude; we see how much he cares for his brother and nephew and how hard he works to do more than simply “get by.” I completely understand his hesitancy to immerse Cam 100% into his world – it’s grittier, scarier, and crazier than anything she’s ever dealt with, but that doesn’t mean she’s not able to endure…it doesn’t mean that she’s too prim and proper to get a little dirty and step out of her ivory tower.

At times, Dom’s stubbornness and close-mindedness, when it comes to their differences and his need to keep Cam out of his tainted lifestyle, is beyond frustrating, even if his past struggles and horrible childhood explain why he won’t admit his true feelings for Cam and embrace what they share, not giving a damn who judges them or him.

Adriana Locke does a great job of slowly releasing and adjusting the control that Cam’s family has on her life. Cam would look like a spoiled princess if she pitched a fit over not getting her way or acted like a brat simply because her siblings and parents have certain expectations for her. But she doesn’t act like a child, even when her brothers are out of line and make her feel inferior; she voices her opinions and concerns in a way that may seem off-kilter for how her brothers are used to her acting, but that’s just because they aren’t used to her passion or her fight, which they should actually be proud of because they wouldn’t want her to be a wilting flower incapable of standing up for herself. The Landry men may have guided and sheltered her for most of her life, but that doesn’t mean she can’t stand on her own…it doesn’t mean that she can’t live for herself and what she wants and needs, even if it’s not what her family “thinks” she needs.

One theme that Adriana Locke showcases throughout Swink is the idea of appearances and assumptions dictating impressions. It’s clear from the start that Cam and Dom come from two different worlds…that their childhoods were completely different…that her charmed life is nothing like the struggles Dom has endured since he was young…but that doesn’t mean he’s unworthy of Cam’s time or her love…that doesn’t mean they can’t make a relationship work simply because their differences are all that other people see and make it incredibly hard for Cam and Dom to see beyond them as well…that doesn’t mean Dom should prove all of their first impressions correct and give Cam up before ever truly fighting for her or proving that he’s more than where he comes from and what job(s) he has. And, if Dom’s the man he appears to be throughout the story, not by the things that he says but by his actions and how he treats Cam when he doesn’t overthink everything, Cam’s family will see who he truly is beneath his blue collar job and bad boy appearance and they’ll want him for Cam because she’s never been happier and that’s all anyone should want for someone they love.

What I love most about Swink is how Adriana Locke allows Cam and Dominic’s perspectives of themselves and each other to adjust and grow as their relationship transforms into something more than what they ever thought possible. They may adamantly deny that they don’t have a future together and that this is Cam’s “attempt at rebellion,” but their actions speak louder than their words and the fact that they’ve been “using” one another for over a year proves that Cam and Dom’s feelings for one another go beyond lust and indicate a chance to move forward as long as Cam can stand up for their relationship and Dom can stop feeling so undeserving of Cam’s love.

I’m incredibly sad to see the Landry Family series end, but the fact that Sienna’s story is going to introduce a whole new series has me wondering what kind of man is going to find a way to keep this wanderlust girl in one spot!

4.5 Poison Apples

Excerpt

“If I didn’t have to get up so damn early in the morning and head up north for a job, I’d be on my way over,” he promises.

“What would you do when you got here?”

It’s a loaded question, one that will only make it harder that he’s not here tonight. Not that he would be here all night anyway. He doesn’t sleep here. He won’t. He’ll come over, but I always wake up in my bed alone.

“I’d hope you’d be wearing that yellow silk robe that isn’t long enough to cover your ass,” he says, a grit to his voice that’s as smooth as it is rough. It reminds me of his hands—soft enough to caress, yet coarse enough to cause my body to fire on all cylinders. “I’d find you standing in the kitchen, watching porn on your phone.”

“No, you wouldn’t!” I giggle. “I don’t watch porn on my phone.”

“This is my little fantasy,” he teases. “Don’t interrupt.”

“Fine. Continue on,” I say, propping one leg up on a neighboring chair.

“I’d walk in behind you and almost lose it when I see you with your hand between your legs. Your head would fall back just a little as you moan like you do when you’re turned on. I’d wrap your hair, still wet from a shower, around my fist and tug your head back just a little more so I can bury my face in the crook of your neck.”

The whimper that passes my lips isn’t intentional, but I couldn’t deny it if I wanted to. The thought of his hands on my skin, his breath against my cheek, his cock rock hard and long against the small of my back, has me shifting in my seat.

Lifting the hem of my floral-print dress, I move aside the lace of my panties and feel the heat and wetness radiating from between my legs.

“I’d kiss you right behind the ear just so I could feel you shiver against me,” he breathes. “Smelling your vanilla perfume mixed with the scent of you all turned on would make me so fucking hard.”

“And me so wet,” I whisper.

“I lay my hand over yours,” he continues, “my fingers holding yours in place. You breathe in, the top of your robe falling open so I can see those big, round titties swollen for me, wanting my mouth on them.”

“God, Dom,” I groan, spreading my legs a little wider. Flicking at my engorged clit, the sensation makes me gush a breath of pure need.

“What are you doing right now?” he whispers.

“Ah,” is my response as I roll the nub with my thumb, my eyes squeezed closed imagining it is Dominic’s hand on me and not mine.

“Are you touching yourself, Camilla?”

“Yes.”

“Fuck,” he hisses. “Do you wish it were me?”

“Yes.”

“I’d shove your robe up, bend you over the table, and bury myself inside you so deep you almost can’t take it. Would you like that?”

“Yes,” I almost moan. My back is now arched, my breathing heavy and panting, as I replay two days ago when his words tonight were almost a play-for-play.

“I love the way you squeeze around me. Your little pussy almost milks my cock, begs for it. Do you know that?”

My eyelids squeeze together harder, almost painfully hard, as I touch myself in just the right way. The burn begins low in my stomach, the rumble getting louder with each and every movement of my hand.

The lace of my panties causes friction against the back of my palm, just another bit of sensation that sends me on a spiral higher and higher.

“Think of how good it feels when I hit that spot in the back of your pussy,” he coaxes. “The way you let loose. How your legs shake as you flood my cock with so much fucking juice that it almost shoves me out of you.”

“Dom,” I utter through clenched teeth as the tremors of my orgasm start to hit me full-on.

“You coming, baby? You coming thinking of me buried inside you?”

Yessssss.”

My body hums at the imagery he’s painted for me, the thought of him doing all of those things sending me on a high that could only be topped if it were him doing them.

Sucking in a breath, I hear him follow suit, as I whimper at the aftershocks of my climax. My legs relax, the riot in my stomach eases, as I let my head fall back with a contented, satisfied sigh.

Also Available
All ebooks are free in Kindle Unlimited
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Author Bio

USA Today Bestselling author Adriana Locke lives and breathes books. After years of slightly obsessive relationships with the flawed bad boys created by other authors, Adriana has created her own.

She resides in the Midwest with her husband, sons, and two dogs. She spends a large amount of time playing with her kids, drinking coffee, and cooking. You can find her outside if the weather’s nice and there’s always a piece of candy in her pocket.

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EXCERPT REVEAL: CHAPTER TWO: The BEAUTY of US by Kristen Proby

From New York Times bestselling author Kristen Proby comes a sexy, new standalone contemporary romance in her Fusion Series, THE BEAUTY OF US, releasing August 22, 2017!

Check out the chapter below and get to know Trevor and Riley!

About THE BEAUTY OF US

New York Times bestselling author Kristen Proby delivers another sizzling novel in her delectable and sexy Fusion series.

Riley Gibson is over the moon at the prospect of having her restaurant, Seduction, on the Best Bites TV network. This could be the big break she’s been waiting for. But the idea of having an in-house show on a regular basis is a whole other matter. Their lives would be turned upside down, and convincing Mia, her best friend and head chef of Seduction, that having cameras in her kitchen every day is a good idea is daunting. Still, Riley knows it’s an opportunity she can’t afford to pass on. And when she meets Trevor Cooper, the show’s executive producer, she’s stunned by their intense chemistry.

Trevor’s sole intention is to persuade Riley to allow Best Bites TV to do a show on her restaurant. But when he walks into Riley’s office, he stops dead in his tracks. The professional, aloof woman on the phone is incredibly beautiful and funny. But can he convince her that he’s interested in Riley for himself? Or is he using the undeniable pull between them to persuade her to agree to his offer?

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Chapter 2

~Trevor~

I didn’t sleep worth shit last night. I waited for a response to my e-mail from Riley for a while; I’m not exactly sure why. I just don’t like the thought of her being embarrassed.

Because she has no reason to be. She didn’t know who I was, and it was closing time. She was venting to her friends.

It’s really no big deal.

But I could see the mortification in her big blue eyes when she realized who I was, and that doesn’t sit well with me.

When no response came, and for all I know she hasn’t even read the e-mail yet, I sat down for a game on the PS4. I don’t travel anywhere without it. Some people read to unwind. Some go to the gym, and there are times I do the same. But to truly relax, I enjoy gaming. I have since I was a kid.

So I settled in the apartment the network has rented for me this month and played online with my friends, talking about our days and shooting the enemy.

We played well past midnight, and I usually would have gone right to bed afterward, but my mind was still turning, making falling asleep impossible. The restaurant is better than I imagined through my research on their website and customer reviews. It’s visually stunning, the food is fantastic, and they’ve hit the mark on the sexy factor.

But added to that, the five women who own the place are all beautiful, smart, and will make for great TV. Viewers will eat this show up, pun intended.

I lean over the sink and wash my face, not bothering to shave today, and as I dry off, I reach for my phone.

I have several new e-mails.

The most recent is from Riley Gibson.

Trevor,

Thank you for your kind email. I apologize again for the conversation last night. I would like to promise that we don’t always talk like that at work, but that would be a lie. At least we keep it to closing time over a glass of wine.

Enjoy Portland,

Riley

I grin and sling the towel over my bare shoulders. Riley isn’t what I had pictured in my head before I got here. I knew that she was pretty because their photos are on their website, but she’s much prettier in person.

And animated.

Working with her will be fun.

And a test to my libido. Because Riley is fucking sexy. I’ve never mixed business and sex before, and I don’t plan to start now, but keeping my hands off her will be a test of wills.

And that too should be fun.

After my run this morning, I stopped by a bagel place to eat and read a newspaper, came back to the apartment for a shower, and I think I’ll go to Seduction for lunch. I hadn’t planned to go back there until my meeting with Riley tomorrow, but I also haven’t had lunch there yet.

I dress quickly in jeans and a red T-shirt and walk the six or so blocks to the restaurant.

They’ve just opened, so they’re not busy yet. The atmosphere is calm, the lighting a bit brighter than last night, making it a fun spot to meet with colleagues or friends for lunch.

I’m seated on the far side of the restaurant, where it meets the bar, and I can see Riley and the other women sitting around a high table, talking.

Loud enough for me to hear.

“So, he’ll be here tomorrow. Filming doesn’t start for another week, unless the timetable has been moved up,” Riley says, studying her iPad and checking things off a list. “It would be great if we could watch our language.”

“Right,” Mia says, rolling her eyes. “Because that’s gonna happen.”

“Just watch the F-bombs then,” Riley says with a grin. “And I’ll do my best not to vent to him about my horrible dating experiences. Not that I’ll be having any more of those.”

“I wish I’d been here for that,” Addie says with a smile. “It’s hilarious.”

“No, it’s not,” Riley says, but smiles and covers her lips with her fingers. “Okay, it’s a little funny. I’ll be working from home today.”

“Why?” The blonde speaking, I presume Cami, asks.

“Because I have a roofer coming today,” Riley says. “But if you need me, just call. I can come back after he leaves.”

“Go.” Mia waves her off. “We’ve got this.”

The girls all stand, about to go their own ways to get their day started. They’re clearly good friends, which will come across well on film.

Riley walks out of the bar and glances up, spotting me.

“Hi.” I offer her a smile and motion for her to join me. She sits, sets her iPad aside, and squares her shoulders.

I love a woman with grit.

“Why are you here?” she asks.

“I’m having lunch,” I reply, and gesture to the salad sitting in front of me. “It’s delicious. Adding the brussels sprouts is smart.”

“I’ll pass that along to Mia,” she says, and then laughs. “I guess you heard the part where I asked the girls to not swear.”

“I did,” I reply, and patiently butter a piece of warm bread. “Don’t worry about that stuff. They’re adults.”

“With potty mouths,” she says.

“And we can bleep stuff out, or ask them to rephrase. You’ve already got the gig, Riley. I wouldn’t be here otherwise. This isn’t an audition.”

“I know.” She sighs and reaches over to take a piece of my bread, surprising and delighting me. “I just want things to go smoothly.”

“Perhaps you should order lunch too.”

“I don’t have time,” she says, and then her blue eyes widen as she realizes what she just did. “I’m so sorry. I eat when I’m stressed out, and I didn’t—”

“No.” I hold my hand up to stop her. “It’s fine. I like that you’re relaxed with me. I think you need to relax more often.”

“What are you, my life coach now?”

“If you like. Did you cancel those dating sites like I suggested?”

She bites her lip and looks to the side, then nods. “I did.”

“Good.” I take a bite of salad and nod. “Are you sure you don’t want some food?”

“I rarely have time to eat,” Riley says, and checks the time on her phone. “In fact, I should go. I have to meet the roofer at my house.”

“What’s wrong with your roof?”

“It’s old,” she says with a shrug. “That’s what happens when you buy an old house. I’m fixing it up a little at a time.”

I nod, and find that I don’t want her to go quite yet. I want to talk more, to learn more about her.

“Why don’t you come to my apartment tonight and I’ll cook you dinner?”

She pauses and stares at me for a moment. “Why?”

I laugh and set my fork down. “Because I asked you to. We’re going to be working closely over the next few weeks, we might as well get to know each other a little better. Also, we can discuss my new duties as your life coach.”

“Well.” Her lips twitch as she thinks it over for a moment, a myriad of emotions moving across her beautiful face, and finally she says, “Okay. Do you mind texting me the address and the time?”

“Not at all,” I reply, and immediately pass her my phone. “Plug in your number and I’ll text you this afternoon.”

She complies, passes it back, and smiles. “Okay, see you later.”

And with that, she’s off. Her ass swaying enticingly in her tight skirt, calves flexing from the height of her heels, and the food I’m currently chewing immediately tastes like cardboard.

Jesus.

And I just voluntarily offered to spend time with her. Alone.

I’m a fucking glutton for punishment.

[no ornament]

“I’m starving,” Riley immediately says as I open the door. She’s in jeans and a well-loved University of Oregon sweatshirt, her hair is pulled up in a ponytail, and she looks like she could be a co-ed herself. “I forgot to eat today.”

“Does that happen every day?” I ask as I gesture for her to come inside and close the door behind her.

“Most days,” she admits. “Is this one of those bad choices that you’re gonna coach me through?”

“Yes,” I reply, and lead her into the kitchen. “You have to eat.”

“I know, I just get focused on other things, and the next thing I know, the day is gone and I’m starving.” She passes me two bottles of wine. “I didn’t know what we were having, so I brought red and white.”

“Thanks.” I grin and set them both on the counter. “I made salmon and asparagus with baby red potatoes. What goes best with that?”

Her eyes light up. “The white. Holy shit, are you a chef yourself?”

“I went to culinary school,” I reply, and squeeze some lemon on the salmon before plating it. “But I discovered I was better at a desk job.”

“That’s unusual,” she says, her head tilted to the side as she listens. “Most people fight to get out of a desk job.”

“Not me. I have a ton of respect for Mia, because being a chef isn’t easy, and pleasing people sucks.”

“True.” Riley nods. “She doesn’t get many plates sent back to her, but there are a few. Can I pour you a glass?”

“No thanks,” I reply, and reach in the fridge for a bottle of water. “I don’t drink alcohol.”

“Oh.” She frowns. “I’m sorry. I can drink water too.”

“It’s fine,” I reply, and pat her shoulder. “I don’t mind if you drink. I just don’t.”

“But last night, you were drinking Jack and Coke.”

“Nope, just Coke.”

She sits at the table, still frowning. “I’m sorry.”

“There’s nothing to be sorry for.” I set our plates down. “I’ve been sober for ten years. I’m not the kind of alcoholic who can’t be around others having a drink. It was never that bad for me. I’m just a better person if I don’t drink.”

“Good for you for knowing that,” she says, holding her glass out to clink against my water. “This looks delicious.”

“You sound surprised.”

“I expected pizza or Chinese takeout,” she says. “Honestly, that’s probably what you would have gotten from me. I’m also surprised that you’re not staying in a hotel.”

“I’m here long enough that the network sprung for the apartment. They usually do when I’m somewhere longer than a week or so.”

“You must travel a lot for this job,” she says, eating her food like a starving child. I don’t know if she even tastes it, she’s eating so fast.

“I travel often,” I reply, and grin when she takes the last bite. “Are you going to lick the plate?”

“Maybe,” she says with a grin. “I’m not even embarrassed that I ate that so fast. It was delicious.”

“I’m glad you liked it. There’s more.”

“No, I’m good,” she says, and reaches in her bag, pulling out a pad of paper and a pen. “You can eat while I interview you.”

“For what?”

“For the position of life coach,” she says with a sassy grin. I want to kiss that grin right off her face, but instead I take a bite of potato and gesture for her to begin.

“Okay, first question: What qualifications do you have that make you a good fit for this position?”

“Well, I have a few years on you, so I would say wisdom with age.”

She tilts her head to the side, the way she does when she’s turning something over in her head. “You can’t be that much older than me.”

“I’m thirty-seven.”

“Seven years,” she says, rolling her eyes.

“A lot can happen in seven years,” I reply, and sip my water.

“Okay, I’ll give you that.” She checks something off on her paper.

“Did you really write down questions?”

“Of course. I’m the queen of lists and the roofer was at my house forever.” She bites her lip as she looks at her list. “How many women have you life-coached in the past?”

“Well, I didn’t have an official job title, but I have two younger sisters, and an ex-wife, so I would say three.”

“But the wife is an ex, so maybe that did go well?” Riley asks. “And are your sisters productive members of society?”

“As opposed to being in jail?” I ask, laughing. “You’re hilarious, Riley.”

“You didn’t answer the question.”

“My sisters are great. The older one is married, a stay-at-home mom with two kids, and the younger one is a waitress.”

“But the ex-wife thing didn’t work out.”

“She’s not a mess, we just both decided that she shouldn’t be my wife anymore.”

“Why?”

I sit back in my chair and wipe my mouth on my napkin. “Because she thought it was a good idea to have sex with other men.”

Her eyebrows climb on her forehead and she blinks twice. “That’s a good reason.”

“I thought so.”

“Okay, next question.” She checks something on her paper and looks up at me with a smile. “How do you intend to be compensated for your work?”

“I’m working pro bono,” I reply with a wink.

“Why?”

“Because I’m going to be here anyway, and why not.” I shrug and finish the food on my plate. “What else do you want to know?”

“Is my coming to a virtual stranger’s apartment by myself one of the bad decisions you should have coached me on?”

I smile and set my plate aside so I can lean on the table. “Did the girls tell you that coming here by yourself was a bad idea?”

“I only talked to Cami and she thought I should come. Plus, I have a concealed carry, so I feel pretty confident that I’m safe.”

I raise a brow and cross my arms over my chest. “You carry a gun with you?”

“Hell to the yes,” she replies, and offers me a sweet smile. “I’ve been meeting strange men on the Internet. You bet your ass I’ve been armed.”

“Good idea,” I reply with a nod. “There are a lot of crazies out there.”

“Yes. But I think that if you’re gonna meet a crazy, it could be anywhere. Online, in a bar, at the gas station. They’re everywhere.”

“That’s true too,” I reply, and nod. “Well, I’m glad you’re being cautious.”

“I’m nobody’s victim,” she says, as casually as if she’s telling me her shoe size.

That’s fucking sexy.

“Do you have any other questions?”

“Not really,” she says, and shrugs. “I didn’t really write anything down. But it was fun to interrogate you a bit.”

“Now I have questions,” I reply, and smile when she cocks her head and purses her lips. “Do you really think you need a life coach?”

“No, I have my shit together,” she says with a grin.

“Why were you really on all of those sites?”

She shrugs. “Because it’s not easy meeting people. And sometimes a girl wants to go out on a date.”

“You don’t need me,” I reply, and smile. “But I’ll be around for a while, just in case.”

“Just in case I slip and fall back into the online dating?”

“That, or if you just want to have dinner, or chat. And I think we should watch a marathon of Star Wars. Your lack of knowledge is cause for concern.”

“It’s kind of a guy thing,” she says.

“I know many women who like Star Wars.”

“Well, I would watch one or two.”

“You need to see them all to understand what’s happening.”

“That’s a lot of hours of my life that I’ll never get back,” she says with a frown. “Aren’t there CliffsNotes somewhere? A speedy way to get caught up?”

“No,” I reply, and fist my hands in my lap so I don’t reach out and tuck her hair behind her ear.

Or yank her against me so I can kiss the fuck out of her.

“Are you okay?” she asks.

“Are you always this observant?”

“I’m an overthinker,” she says. “So yeah, I’m an observer.”

“I’ve been labeled an overthinker too,” I say with a grin.

“Would you say it’s an accurate assessment?”

“Oh yeah,” I say with a nod, and stand to clear our plates away. She stands to help. “I’ve got this.”

“No way, you cooked, so I’ll help clean.”

She walks ahead of me, her empty glass in one hand and her plate in the other. “Do you use the dishwasher, or do you wash by hand?”

“There are people who still wash by hand?”

“I’ve heard of them, but I’ve never seen them in the wild,” she says, and smiles up at me when I join her. “So I guess that means we use the dishwasher?”

“Yes.” She rinses and I load, and a few short minutes later, we’re done.

“Well, I suppose I should go,” she says, and checks the time on her phone. “Oh, Cami texted. I guess I should reply so she doesn’t think you killed me after the entrée.”

She smirks and types on her phone, then turns it off and looks up at me.

“Thanks for dinner.”

“You’re welcome.”

“I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”

Unfortunately, it won’t be in my bed.

“You will.”

“Okay.” She gathers her bag, notepad and pen, and walks to the door. “Sleep well tonight.”

I grin and congratulate myself for not dragging my fingertips down her cheek.

You sleep well tonight, Riley.”

“Okay. Bye.”

She leaves and I close the door, letting out a slow breath. Jesus, she’s sexy and funny and smart as fuck.

And I’m not going to touch her while I’m here.

How the fuck am I going to do that?

Don’t miss the first chapter of THE BEAUTY OF US! You can read it here!

About Kristen Proby

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Kristen Proby is the author of the bestselling With Me In Seattle and Love Under the Big Sky series. She has a passion for a good love story and strong, humorous characters with a strong sense of loyalty and family. Her men are the alpha type; fiercely protective and a bit bossy, and her ladies are fun, strong, and not afraid to stand up for themselves.

Kristen lives in Montana, where she enjoys coffee, chocolate and sunshine. And naps.

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