Review – Managed by Kristen Callihan

Review:

What Worked For Me:  This is my first Kristen Callihan book but it will not be my last.  This book was wonderful.  A little bit naughty, a little bit of angst, and a whole lot of emotion.  Our hero, Gabriel, was definitely a hard a**.  Cold and distant, he seemed like an impenetrable  wall of ice.  Smoking hot and broody, he is every woman’s fantasy but he gets close to no one and he has his reasons.  He is a character that has faults and the author portrays those not in a wimpy way that makes our hero seem less “heroic”, but more real and understandable.  That made his fall for Sophie so much sweeter.  Now Sophie?  She was absolutely adorable.  Fun, sassy, sweet, and tender, this girl ran a whole gamut of emotions but more than anything, she made me laugh out loud so many times.  She gets Gabriel like no one else and she brings him peace.  It is beautiful to read and the proposition he offers her?  That was stunningly real and tugged at my heart.  I loved the witty banter between Sophie and Gabriel because she was the only one who treated Gabriel like he was human, not the unfeeling robot he portrayed himself to be.  These two lost souls find each other and the journey to realize how much they meant to one another is wrought with tons of sexual tension.  They have a burning chemistry that steals your breath and finally explodes all over the pages.  Seriously, I think I held my breath once or twice!  Something else I loved about this book was the fact that it is not the first book in a series but you could read it and it stood alone.  Reading book 1 wasn’t required and it didn’t leave you scratching your head wondering what you missed (although, I immediately bought book 1 just for the experience).  There are great secondary characters who now have me fully engaged in this series just so I can read their stories.  There is a good, solid plot that moved at a brisk and smooth pace.  Overall, this book kept me fully engrossed in the story and emotionally invested in the hero and heroine finding their happily-ever-after.  I can’t wait to see what the next book in this series brings.

Would I Recomend This Book:  Yes, this is a fantastic story.  I liked it so much, I would recommend this series, as it seems like a beautifully written journey!

Final Star Rating: 4.5 Stars

 

managed-amazonIt started off as a battle of wits. Me: the ordinary girl with a big mouth against Him: the sexy bastard with a big…ego.

I thought I’d hit the jackpot when I was upgraded to first class on my flight to London.

That is until HE sat down next to me. Gabriel Scott: handsome as sin, cold as ice. Nothing and no one gets to him. Ever. He’s a legend in his own right, the manager of the biggest rock band in the world, and an arrogant ass who looks down his nose at me.

I thought I’d give him hell for one, long flight. I didn’t expect to like him. I didn’t expect to want him. But the biggest surprise? He wants me too. Only in a way I didn’t see coming.

If I accept his proposal, I leave myself open to falling for the one man I can’t manage. But I’m tempted to say yes. Because the real man beneath those perfect suits and that cool façade just might be the best thing that’s ever happened to me. And I just might be the only one who can melt the ice around his heart.

 

Let the battle begin…

 

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In all this time, I had yet to see Gabriel without a shirt. He hides his body like a pious Victorian, never letting me see anything other than him fully dressed and polished. Now I know why. Had he let me get a glimpse, I might never have been able to form a coherent thought around him.

This man’s chest is a work of art. It’s every fantasy I’ve had about a man’s body made real. I don’t even know how that’s possible, but I’m not about to complain. God, he looks touchable. Olive skin, tight little brownish nipples, a smattering of dark chest hair over the most incredibly honed—

“You’re staring.” His tone is dry.

“Yes, I am.” I drag my eyes up and find his expression bemused.

A thick brow lifts. I try to mimic the look and fail when both of my brows lift as one. His lips twitch in amusement.

He shifts his weight, causing his abs to clench. Good Lord. He’s not some overdeveloped gym worshiper, just solid and strong, that perfect balance between defined musculature and healthy male—

“You’re still staring, Sophie.”

“You think it’s easy looking away from all this splendor?” I ask his belly button, licking my lips when he huffs out a laugh and just a little bit more of his lower abs are revealed, slanting toward the thick bulge of his cock, which is lamentably hidden behind his slacks.

“You’re impossible,” he mutters, though there is humor in his voice. He strolls farther into the room and then practically kills me when he sits in one of the low-slung armchairs. That body, sprawled out on display, those thick, long thighs braced as if to take me in his lap—it’s too much.

I want to straddle him and lick my way from the hollow of his throat to the tip of his cock.

He eyes me as if he knows what I’m thinking, and the air thickens. So many things we left unsaid. I’m remembering his lips now, surprisingly soft, but strong with purpose.

From the way his lids lower, I wonder if he’s remembering things as well. But he doesn’t move. Tension glides over his body and snakes around the room. I feel it in my throat and down my spine. We’re closing up again, retreating.

Slowly, I toe off my shoes and set my gear down, never breaking eye contact. “I was being completely honest,” I tell him. “I see you like this and I want to stare forever.”

He snorts, shaking his head even as he rests his temple on his knuckles. “What do you mean ‘like this’?”

“Undone.”

He tenses. It does lovely things to that chest. I focus on his face, mainly to maintain some semblance of decorum.

“You think this is me undone?” he asks quietly.

“It’s a start.” I reach for my camera bag. “Will you let me photograph you?”

There is safety to be found with the camera between us. A way for both of us to hide until we’re comfortable around each other again.

“You’re serious?”

“You sound surprised.” Holding my camera, I sit in the sofa opposite him. “Don’t tell me no one has asked to take your picture before.”

“They’ve asked. I never saw the point.” He shrugs. “I’m not the story.”

You’re my story. You always were.

“This is just for me,” I say instead. “No one else.”

His shrewd gaze pins me. “Why do you want this?”

So I can have a bit of you forever. “Pictures capture moments in time. I want this one—when you finally let me see a sliver of the man behind the clothes.”

His nostrils flare on an indrawn breath, and he slowly lets it out. When he speaks, his voice is a rasp. “Take the pictures.”

 

 

 

 

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KCauthor

Kristen Callihan is an author because there is nothing else she’d rather be. She is a three-time RITA nominee and winner of two RT Reviewer’s Choice awards. Her novels have garnered starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and the Library Journal, as well as being awarded top picks by many reviewers. Her debut book FIRELIGHT received RT Magazine’s Seal of Excellence, was named a best book of the year by Library Journal , best book of Spring 2012 by Publisher’s Weekly, and was named the best romance book of 2012 by ALA RUSA. When she is not writing, she is reading.

WEBSITE / FACEBOOK / TWITTER / AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

Cover Reveal – Mastering Her Senses by Laura Kaye

Decadent… Sensual… Forbidden…

12 Masters. 12 Desires. 12 Fantasies Come to Life.
Meet the Masters of Blasphemy…

Releasing February 21, 2017, MASTERING HER SENSES is the second full-length novel in Laura Kaye’s Blasphemy Series. Check out the amazing cover created by Kim Killion from The Killion Group below!

 

A Note from Laura Kaye:

Friends! I’m so excited to share the cover for Mastering Her Senses, the second book in my new erotic Blasphemy series! I’ve been dying to write Master Quinton since he first appeared on the page, and now he is coming your way this February. I’m also excited because the heroine, Cassia Locke, is the sister of one of the Raven Riders (Jagger Locke), so there will be some fun series crossover happening in this book, too! So, so much to love! I hope you’ll check it out and the other books in the series, too!

xo, Laura

12 Masters. Infinite fantasies. Welcome to Blasphemy…

He wants to dominate her senses—and her heart…

Quinton Ross has always been a thrill-seeker—so it’s no surprise that he’s drawn to extremes in the bedroom and at his BDSM club, Blasphemy, where he creates sense-depriving scenarios that blow submissives’ minds. Now if he could just find one who needs the rush as much as him…

When an accident leaves Cassia Locke with a paralyzing fear of the dark, she’ll try anything to get help. Ready to fight, she knows just who to ask for help—the hard-bodied, funny-as-hell Dom she’d always crushed on—and once stood up.

Quinton is shocked and a little leery to see Cassia, but he can’t pass up the chance to dominate the alluring little sub this time. Introducing her to sensory deprivation becomes his new favorite obsession, and watching her fight fear is its own thrill. But when doubt threatens to send her running again, Quinton must find a way to master her senses—and her heart.

Exclusive iBooks Preorder

Look for other preorder links in 2017

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Books in Series:

Hard to Serve #.5

Bound to Submit #1

Mastering Her Senses #2 – 2/21/17

Eyes on You #3 – 7/11/17

 

Laura Kaye - author picAbout Laura Kaye:

Laura is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of thirty books in contemporary and erotic romance and romantic suspense, including the Blasphemy, Hard Ink, and Raven Riders series. Growing up, Laura’s large extended family believed in the supernatural, and family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses cemented in Laura a life-long fascination with storytelling and all things paranormal. Laura also writes historical fiction as the NYT bestselling author, Laura Kamoie. She lives in Maryland with her husband and two daughters, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.

 

 

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Cover Reveal – Fidelity by Aleatha Romig

 

 

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bk5-1-fidelity-e-book-coverShe thought she could save those she loved.

He thought he could save her.

They’ll both learn the truth.

 

FIDELITY, the dramatic conclusion to the epic five novel series INFIDELITY, following Lennox “Nox” Demetri, Alexandria “Charli” Collins, the Montagues, Demetris, Fitzgeralds, and Spencers is finally here.

 

When the vows are complete and the dust settles, who will be left standing?

 

No one is safe, and no alliance is above suspicion in the much-anticipated finale to this hot romantic-suspense saga. Our heroine has survived betrayal, cunning, deception, and entrapment…what will happen when she’s faced with fidelity?

 

Infidelity, it isn’t what you think.

 

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Aleatha Romig comes a sexy, new dominant hero who knows what he wants and a strong-willed heroine who has plans of her own. With classic twists, turns, deceptions, and devotions, this new, epic romantic suspense will have readers swooning one minute and screaming the next..

 

Have you been Aleatha’d?

 

FIDELITY is the fifth and FINAL of five full-length novels in the INFIDELITY series.

 

*This series does not condone nor does it advocate cheating.

 

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BETRAYAL 1One week. No future. No past. No more.

Alexandria Collins has one week to live carefree—no ghosts of her past or pressures of her future haunting her. Reinventing herself as “Charli,” she is knocked off her feet by a sexy, mysterious man who brings her pleasure like she never imagined. With her heart at stake, she forgets that decisions made in the dark of night reappear in the bright light of day.

 

“Some of my tastes are unique. They aren’t for everyone. I understand that.”

 

Lennox “Nox” Demetri is wealthy, confident, and decisive—he knows what he wants. From the first time he sees Charli at an exclusive resort, he knows he wants her. Although he is usually the one to make the rules, together they agree on one:

 

One week. No more.

 

When betrayal comes from those closest to Alexandria, she must decide how far she is willing to go to survive. Choices are not always easy, especially when they involve the heart, body, and soul. After all, Infidelity is a business, and some rules are meant to be broken.

 

“Is it really cheating if you’re doing it to yourself?”

 

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Aleatha Romig comes a sexy, new dominant hero who knows what he wants, and a strong-willed heroine who has plans of her own. With classic Aleatha Romig twists, turns, deceptions, and devotions, this new epic dark romance will have readers swooning one minute and screaming the next. Have you been Aleatha’d?

 

BETRAYAL is a full-length novel and the first of five in the INFIDELITY series.

 

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CUNNING 1“He owns you. Whatever he tells you to do you do”.

 

One year. No future. A past that won’t go away.

Lennox “Nox” Demetri broke his own rule by making a deal. It may not have been directly with the devil, but that doesn’t mean Satan himself isn’t watching. Was it fate that brought Charli into his life and his bed? What will happen when rules are broken and secrets are revealed?

“New rules…my rules.”

Alex “Charli” Collins found pleasure with Nox like she’d never known. That was before she knew his last name. Now that Infidelity is involved and the rules have changed, what will result when real life and fantasy collide?

Is it really cheating if you’re doing it to yourself?

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Aleatha Romig comes a sexy, new dominant hero who knows what he wants and a strong-willed heroine who has plans of her own. With classic Aleatha Romig twists, turns, deceptions, and devotions, the depth of this new, epic dark romance reaches new levels and will have readers swooning one minute and screaming the next.

Have you been Aleatha’d?

CUNNING is a full-length novel, 360 pages, and the second of five books in the INFIDELITY series.

Infidelity – it isn’t what you think.

 

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BK3 Deception E-Book Cover (2)DECEPTION, book THREE of FIVE in Aleatha Romig’s INFIDELITY series.

“Infidelity – it isn’t what you think”

It all began in Del Mar, a chance meeting with a single rule–one week only.

Or did it?

 

Lennox ‘Nox’ Demetri and Alexandria ‘Charli’ Collins had every intention of following it but rules are made to be broken. In CUNNING they are reunited with Nox setting down new rules for the game and Charli having no choice but to follow them.

Now, once again, the game has changed. Nox and Charli’s hot sensual encounter has grown into something more but it is threatened with secrets and regrets. Is it their love and intense sexual chemistry that’s pushing them together or something darker, a puppetmaster behind the scenes pulling the strings on their love affair?

Shadowy villains lurk around each corner and everyone is suspect as Nox’s and Charli’s pasts collide with the present and threaten to compel them back to their predestined fates.

Can deals brokered in the past be negated by something as pure as love and as steamy as the attraction shared by Nox and Charli? Or was it all a deception—starting with that very first meeting?

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Aleatha Romig comes a sexy, new dominant hero who knows what he wants and a strong-willed heroine who has plans of her own. With classic Aleatha Romig twists and turns, the depth of this epic romantic suspense continues to reach new levels as past and present intertwine. The Infidelity series will have readers swooning one minute and screaming the next.

Have you been Aleatha’d?

 

DECEPTION is a full-length novel, over 300 pages, and the third of five books in the INFIDELITY series – It isn’t what you think!

(This series is not about nor does it advocate or condone cheating)

 

Amazon US | Amazon UK | iBooks

 

BK4 Entrapment E-Book Cover“The snare is setleaving, friendships, lives, and futures dangling in the balance”

ENTRAPMENT continues the epic new romantic suspense series INFIDELITY, featuring Lennox “Nox” Demetri, Alexandria “Charli” Collins, the Montagues, and the Demetris.

The thrills, heat, and suspense continue to add up…

One chance meeting

plus…

One sexy, possessive alpha and one spunky, determined heroine

plus…

One week of uncontainable, unbridled passion

plus…

One impulsive decision

times…

Two declarations of love

divided by…

The sum of intertwining pasts, lies, and broken rules

equals…

ENTRAPMENT

“Infidelity – it isn’t what you think”

Don’t miss this latest novel in the Infidelity series from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Aleatha Romig. The classic twists, turns, deceptions, and devotions will have readers on the edge of their seats, discovering answers that continue to pose questions. Be ready to swoon one minute and scream the next.

Have you been Aleatha’d?

ENTRAPMENT is the fourth of five full-length novels in the INFIDELITY series: Betrayal, Cunning, Deception, Entrapment, and Fidelity.

*This series does not advocate nor does it condone cheating.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | iBooks | B&N | Print

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aleatharomig1Aleatha Romig is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who lives in Indiana. She grew up in Mishawaka, graduated from Indiana University, and is currently living south of Indianapolis. Aleatha has raised three children with her high school sweetheart and husband of nearly thirty years. Before she became a full-time author, she worked days as a dental hygienist and spent her nights writing. Now, when she’s not imagining mind-blowing twists and turns, she likes to spend her time with her family and friends. Her other pastimes include reading and creating heroes/anti-heroes who haunt your dreams!

Aleatha released her first novel, CONSEQUENCES, in August of 2011. CONSEQUENCES became a bestselling series with five novels and two companions released from 2011 through 2015. The compelling and epic story of Anthony and Claire Rawlings has graced more than half a million e-readers. Aleatha released the first of her series TALES FROM THE DARK SIDE, INSIDIOUS, in the fall of 2014. These standalone thrillers continue Aleatha’s twisted style with an increase in heat. In the fall of 2015, Aleatha will move head first into the world of dark romance with the release of BETRAYAL, the first of her five novel INFIDELITY series.

Aleatha is a “Published Author’s Network” member of the Romance Writers of America and represented by Danielle Egan-Miller of Browne & Miller Literary Associates.

NEWSLETTER | WEBSITE | FACEBOOK| AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE | GOODREADS | INSTAGRAM | TWITTER | PINTEREST

 

Excerpt Tour – Heat Wave by Karina Halle

 

heat-wave-3d-bookThey say when life closes one door, another one opens.

This door happens to lead to paradise.

And a man I can never, ever have.

Still grieving the loss of her sister who died two years ago, the last thing Veronica “Ronnie” Locke needed was to lose her job at one of Chicago’s finest restaurants and have to move back in with her parents. So when a window of opportunity opens for her – running a kitchen at a small Hawaiian hotel – she’d be crazy not to take it.

The only problem is, the man running the hotel drives her crazy:

Logan Shephard.

It doesn’t matter that he’s got dark brown eyes, a tall, muscular build that’s sculpted from daily surfing sessions, and a deep Australian accent that makes your toes curl.

What does matter is that he’s a grump.

Kind of an asshole, too.

And gets under Ronnie’s skin like no one else.

But the more time Ronnie spends on the island of Kauai, falling in love with the lush land and its carefree lifestyle, the closer she gets to Logan. And the closer she gets to Logan, the more she realizes she may have pegged him all wrong. Maybe it’s the hot, steamy jungles or the invigorating ocean air, but soon their relationship becomes utterly intoxicating.

There’s just one major catch.

The two of them together would incite a scandal neither Ronnie, nor her family, would ever recover from.

Forbidden, Illicit, off-limits – sometimes the heat is worth surrendering to, even if you get burned.

 

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PROLOGUE

I saw him first.

It shamed me to think it then, it shames me to think it now.

But that’s what the truth does to you sometimes. It shames you because it’s only in the truth that you realize how human you really are. What a raw, devastating thing that is, to embrace your humanity and learn to live with all your sharp points, the hollow places, the cracks and the crevices. To be utterly real. To be terribly flawed.

Those cracks had always been forming inside me, slowly making their way to the surface over the years. In my family, there wasn’t much you could do but try and hold yourself together, to stick glue on your wounds, to paste over the imperfections. But the cracks still grew, until all of us were held together by crumbling cement, just statues waiting to collapse.

That was years and years ago. I was just twenty-two at the time. A baby. I’m still a baby in the grand scheme of things, but there’s something precious about your early twenties, where you think you’re so much older, bigger, than you are, where life is just about to deliver the crushing blows that will knock you off your feet for the rest of your days. The small things become the big things and the big things become the small things and you aren’t quite sure when they made the switch.

But in the end, I saw him first. He was mine, even before he knew it. He was mine in some strange way that I still don’t understand. The only way I can think of to explain it is…

You just know.

There are moments in your life, people in your life, that when they cross your path and meet your eye, you know. Maybe it’s all in the chemistry, certain pheromones that react when they mix together, maybe it’s a smell that triggers a memory, maybe it’s a glimpse at a future you don’t recognize or a hint at the past, a life you’ve lived and forgotten. Whatever it is, you know that moment, that person, is going to shape you for the rest of your life.

That’s what it was like when I saw him. Standing over by the windows and staring out Lake Michigan, like he was wishing he could be anywhere but there.

I wished the same. My mother’s the deputy mayor of Chicago and this was another one of her fundraisers I felt obliged to attend. It was tradition in my family, for my father, for me, for my sister, to show up and wave the flag of support. It didn’t seem to matter that the stuffy politicians that surrounded these events never paid me any attention. And if they did, it was the wrong kind of attention, always the sixty-year-old man leering after the young thing with the nice smile.

Luckily I didn’t smile all that often. My resting bitch face took over whenever I was deep in thought, which was pretty much all the time.

But this guy…I felt a kinship with him. I felt like I knew exactly what he was thinking, feeling, and that it was completely wrapped up in and connected to everything that was going through me.

I don’t know where I found the nerve to go over and talk to him. He seemed so much older, not quite the sixty-year-old politicians I was used to seeing, but maybe in his early-thirties. More than that, there was some kind of aura around him. Sounds stupid, I know. Whatever it was, it was like he belonged in some whole other universe than here, a star on earth, permanently grounded and yearning to be in the sky.

It was usually Juliet’s job to go around and make everyone feel warm and comfortable at these events—hell, in every event—but she wasn’t here yet. And though I could have easily stayed in the shadows, I was pulled to him, like he had a wave of gravity whirling around him.

I remember what I was wearing. Strappy flats because I hated wearing heels, a knee-length cocktail dress in emerald green, sleeveless, high-neck. It made me look older and I wore it because my mother always wanted me to look like a lady.

With a glass of champagne in hand, I made my way over to the windows, my heart racing the closer I got to him. He looked taller up close, well over six feet. His shoulders were broad, like a swimmer’s, and suddenly I had a vision of him diving into the lake. The navy blue suit he was wearing looked well-tailored but he seemed uncomfortable in it, like he couldn’t wait to get rid of it.

I stood beside him for a moment, following his gaze out the window. He seemed lost in his thoughts but out of my peripheral his head tilted slightly and he brought his eyes over to me while I kept staring at that wide expanse of water, stretching out to the horizon.

“Can’t wait to get out of here?” I asked, but though my tone was mild, my delivery was bold. It was as if someone else had taken a hold of my body, forcing me to speak. I slowly turned my head to meet his eyes.

I was taken aback for a second. He was staring at me like he knew me, even though I’d never seen him before. Then again, I was sure I’d been staring at him in the same way. That feeling of knowing. He knew me, I knew him, and who the hell knows how that was possible.

His eyes were brown—are brown—dark with currents of gold and amber, giving them beautiful clarity. Slightly almond shaped. His brows were also dark, arched, adding to the intensity of his gaze. He’s the type of guy whose eyes latch onto you, dig deep, trying to sift through the files of your life, see who you really are.

“How did you know?” he asked, a full-on Australian accent rumbling through his gruff voice. It made my stomach flip, my core smolder. How deed you now, is what it sounded like. Funny how I stopped hearing the accent after time.

I gave a half shrug and looked back to the party. More people had flooded the room, mingling around the appetizers. My mother was in the corner, a crowd of politicians around her. She didn’t see me. She never did.

“Because I think I’d rather be in the middle of Lake Michigan too,” I told him, “then be stuck here with all these people.”

“These people,” he repeated. My focus was drawn to his lips, full, wide, tilting up into a smirk. Beneath them was a strong chin and even sharper jaw, dusted with a five o’clock shadow that seemed permanent, like the man couldn’t get a clean shave even if he tried. “How do you know I’m not one of these people?”

“Because you’re over here and not over there. How come you keep answering my questions with more questions?”

He studied me for a moment. My blood pounded in my head and I felt a giddy kind of thrill at how this was progressing. If anything, I was proud for holding my own with this handsome stranger. He was the first man I ever really felt at ease with.

He cleared his throat, offered me a quick smile before he nodded at the lake, his hands sliding into his pockets. “She almost looks like the ocean, doesn’t she?”

“Not quite the same as Australia, I would imagine.”

“No hiding this accent, is there?” He glanced at me and stuck out his hand, which I shook for a moment, warm palm to warm palm. “I’m Logan Shepard. Australian. And the reason I’m here is because I was invited by a friend of mine. I’m only in town for a few days and he didn’t want to go alone. He’s over there.” He nodded at a tall black man in the corner, listening intently to another man.

“Warren Jones,” he said, as if I should know him. Perhaps I should. He probably thought I was one of them. “He’s local and the key piece to my investment.”

I wasn’t one for business talk—I never had anything to contribute other than lamenting student loans—but I wanted him to keep talking. “What’s your investment?”

“Starting my own hotel,” he said. “In Hawaii. Have you ever been there?”

“Once. When I was eight. I think we were in Honolulu. I remember a city, anyway. Waikiki Beach.”

“This hotel is in Kauai. The Garden Isle. Went there once as a teenager and couldn’t get it out of my mind.”

I didn’t know the right things to say. I wanted to ask more about the hotel, what it means when you have an investor, but I didn’t want to appear dumb. I kept my mouth shut.

“You haven’t introduced yourself,” he said. “Protecting a secret identity?”

I smiled, close-lipped. “Not really. I’m Veronica Locke. American. And I unfortunately I don’t have much else to add to that.”

“Locke?” he repeated, eyes darting to my mother. “Are you the daughter of the deputy mayor, Rose Locke?”

“One of them,” I told him.

He nodded quickly. “I see. No wonder you’d rather be in the middle of the bloody lake. I bet you have to do this stuff all the time.”

“It’s not so bad.” I took a sip of my drink so I didn’t have to say anything more and looked away at the crowd. The bubbles teased my nose, making my eyes water.

I could feel his gaze on me as he spoke. “I’m sure you have plenty more to say about yourself though. Where do you work? Student?”

“Culinary arts,” I told him. “I’m one of those crazy people who dream of being a chef one day.”

He frowned. “Why is that crazy?”

I gave him a look, forgetting that most people have no idea how hard it is. “Because it’s a long road, long hours, and nothing is guaranteed. People think being a chef is easy. They see Gordon Ramsey or Nigella Lawson and think it’s all fame and food and money and they have no idea what it’s really like. I’m not even out of school and already I feel half-beaten.”

He was still frowning. He did that a lot, I would soon learn. “Sounds like life to me.” His eyes dropped to my lips and something intensely carnal came over them, like suddenly I was the food, not the wannabe chef. “Did you want to get a drink somewhere. After this? When you’ve done your daughterly duties?”

I swallowed hard. I didn’t know what a drink meant. Just a drink? A date? Was it sex? I started going through my head, trying to think of reasons why it was a bad idea. My legs were shaved, did my bra and underwear match? Did I have a condom? I had taken the pill this morning, even though my last boyfriend and I had broken up months ago. I hadn’t been with a guy, let alone a man, in a long time.

Don’t flatter yourself, I quickly thought. What makes you think he’d be interested in you that way?

“Yes,” I said when I finally found my voice. “Yes, I would like that.”

A spark flashed in his eyes, lighting them up in such a way that made my toes literally curl. Damn. I was in trouble with this man. “Any way you can get out of your duties sooner?” he asked.

I couldn’t help but smile, raising my brow at his presumptuousness, while simultaneously trying to hide the fact that I was freaking out. I looked around the room and tried to judge how likely it was that someone would notice if I was gone. My mom was still surrounded by a wall of people and no one was paying any attention to us, standing by the windows, already removed.

A sad thought hit me, sliding past before I could really dwell on it: no one even notices when I’m here.

“If we’re quick and sneaky,” I told him.

“Being quick isn’t in my repertoire,” he said, “but I could give it a shot.”

Again. Damn. I wasn’t one to blush but I could feel my cheeks heating up and hoped my skin supressed the flush. He was so much older than me in so many ways, the last thing I wanted was to appear the naïve schoolgirl.

And I didn’t know what to say to that. He was staring at me with those dark eyes, a look so intense yet sparkling with charm and something…wicked.

I’d never find out how wicked they could be.

“Ronnie!” A melodic, ultra-feminine voice sliced through the moment like an unwieldy machete, causing me to flinch, my fingers tightening around the stem of the glass.

Oh no, I thought. Not now.

Logan’s head swiveled toward the sound of the voice, like a hound picking up a scent. I didn’t bother looking over, I kept my focus on him, watching his expression intently. It changed, as I knew it would.

She had walked into the room.

He saw her.

And like it was for so many men, that look of lust I had thought was for me, was now for her.

That’s when I knew it was over. Whatever thing I had felt for him, it didn’t matter anymore, not when she was in the room. Nothing ever mattered as long as she was around.

I might have saw him first.

But he was all hers after that.

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Halle HeadshotKarina Halle is a former travel writer and music journalist and The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling author of The Pact, Racing the Sun, Sins & Needles and over 25 other wild and romantic reads. She lives on an island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband and her rescue pup, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails and devours a lot of books.

Halle is represented by the Waxman Leavell Agency and is both self-published and published by Simon & Schuster and Hachette in North America and in the UK.

Hit her up on Instagram at @authorHalle, on Twitter at @MetalBlonde and on Facebook. You can also visit http://www.authorkarinahalle.com and sign up for the newsletter for news, excerpts, previews, private book signing sales and more.

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