Virtual Tour – Just the Thing by Marie Harte

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Blurb:

A FLING MIGHT BE JUST THE THING…

Gavin Donnigan left the Marine Corps a shell of a man, hounded by guilt for deaths he couldn’t prevent. But teaching a self-defense class at the local gym brings some stability to his life—along with a gorgeous leggy woman who won’t give him the time of day.

Zoe York lost her twin sister to a freak car accident a few months ago. She’s been struggling to bury her grief, but it isn’t until she signs up for a self-defense class with its distractingly hot instructor that she begins to come out of her shell again. With the memory of her sister telling her to live a little, Zoe decides a fling with buns-of-steel Gavin Donnigan might be just the thing.

Soon they’re sparring both in and out of the gym. And for the first time in a long time, each is looking forward to tomorrow.

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EXCERPT:

Thursday evening, Zoe gaped at the address Gavin had sent her to. She’d been lucky enough to dodge her mother’s phone calls, had missed Cleo stopping by earlier this evening, and had ignored Piper’s texts. Otherwise, she would have shared news of a date she wanted to keep to herself.

Now she had to get through said date without jumping the poor man. Every time she thought about how long she’d sat on him in the gym—knowing exactly what he felt like in those thin shorts, every inch of him excited to be with her—her world turned upside down. Not a prude by any means, she’d still never ground over an aroused man in a public place when she barely knew more than his name.

Well, she’d wanted to do a one-eighty from her normal routine. Cleo and Piper would be pleased. Or at least, they might be if Zoe decided to confide details about this date. Then again, depending on how tonight went, she might never speak to Gavin again. She sure the hell wouldn’t be sleeping with him on their first night out together.

So sad she had to keep reminding herself of that. No one-night stands.

Ever?

Ignoring temptation, she shut her fantasies down tight. No, never.

After parking in the stone driveway of a huge old Victorian house on a nice piece of property in Magnolia,—a pricey area of Seattle that boasted quiet streets, lots of greenery, and amazing views of Puget Sound,—she cautiously left the car. She stared at the house with suspicion, wondering just what Gavin had in store.

He opened the door to greet her. Wearing a pair of well-worn jeans and a faded blue sweatshirt, he looked at home and way too handsome for her peace of mind.

She’d dressed down in jeans and a sweater over a thin T-shirt. With the cool spring evenings, she normally dressed heavier for comfort. A smart idea, considering she had no idea if they’d be indoors or outside tonight.

“This is your place?” she asked, not believing for a second he lived in such a grand, landscaped home. It just seemed all wrong for him.

He chuckled. “Nah. It belongs to a friend of my sister’s. Hope’s house-sitting, but she’s letting me borrow it tonight.”

Zoe followed him into the huge house. It had rich mahogany furnishings, a few sculptures that looked like they cost in the thousands, and the feel of a professional interior designer. No dust, no mess, and everything had its place.

Following him through the entrance and down the hallway, past the stairs to the kitchen, she stopped and gawked. The kitchen had to be as large as her living room, dining room, and pantry combined. It had an island, marble countertops, two sinks, stainless-steel appliances, and a Viking stove—the same high-end one Piper had in her kitchen. A large vase of flowers sat on the island, while the glossy oak table off to the back looked over an expansive patio, which in turn overlooked the ocean.

“Holy crap. This is amazing.”

“I know, right?” Gavin nodded. “Go on, check it out. But keep your sweater on. The fun’s outside.”

“Not sure what that means, but give me a minute. I need some time to take this in.” She walked around the kitchen some more, while he went out to the patio and down some steps to the backyard.

After sadly affirming that she’d never have a kitchen this grand, she made mental notes to share with Cleo, a fellow HGTV addict who would go gaga over this house.

A few moments later, Zoe stepped outside on the patio, looking for Gavin. She still had no idea why he’d brought her to someone else’s home, but it had been worth the drive just to see that kitchen.

“Gavin?” The stone deck ran the entire length of the back of the house and had plenty of room for a table and chair, potted flowers and plants, and a snazzy fire pit embedded in the ground. It was surrounded by rock that had been built up, no doubt to provide a measure of safety.

A glance beyond the deck showed the Sound in all its glory. The sun was setting, and an indigo sky surrounded a blanket of clouds trying to block out the rising moon—and failing. The wind picked up, bringing a chill to the air. But the crisp scent of salt water cleaned everything around her.

Zoe breathed in and out, knowing a sense of serenity she’d been missing of late.

“Over here,” Gavin called.

She gave up her view of the water and found him on the side of house, in a corner of the lot with trees on one side and the patio on the other. Talk about a nice amount of privacy. The clearing had several boxes filled with green and growing things. And there, in the distance, a small greenhouse.

She blinked, feeling as if she’d stepped into her version of heaven.

“Well? Don’t just stand there.” Gavin nodded at a small assortment of gardening tools on the ground beside him. A trowel, a weeder, a spade, and a shovel. “The gloves are for you.”

They looked brand new. She picked up the pink set, tugged off the tags, and put them on. “Pink?”

He smiled. “You like ’em? Maybe you can wear them with your yoga pants at the gym sometime.”

“You’re obsessed with those pants, aren’t you?”

He chuckled. “Come on. We need to weed.” He crouched down and reached a hand out to some overflowing green. “But I’m not sure if that’s a plant or—”

“Stop. That’s not a weed.” She gently nudged him out of the way before he could kill the coreopsis and garden phlox around some limp tulips. He handed her the snips, and she clipped the spent tulip blooms, then did a bit more pruning and pulled a few real weeds. She showed him the difference, then answered his questions about what to plant when and how to separate a few daylily bulbs that really should have been split before now. So lost in the gardening, it took Zoe a good half an hour before she realized this was to be the extent of her date.

Peering over her shoulder, she frowned at Gavin and turned to face him, standing so that they could look eye to eye. Or rather, eye to throat. She had to glance up to see his gaze. “This is our date?” Gardening?

The pleasure seemed to leach out of him as he looked down at her. “Uh, yeah. Why? You don’t like it? We don’t have to play around all night in the dirt or anything.”

“You thought I’d like weeding someone else’s garden for hours?”

He sighed. “Stupid idea, right?”

“No, not at all.” She stared at him. “How did you know I’m into plants?” Fascinating. He’d chosen one of her favorite things to do, and he seemed to be interested in her explanations about planting and zones and soil type.

“I overheard you at the gym. You and Loretta talk about gardens as if they’re the second coming. I wanted to do something different with you, and I thought you might like this.” He smiled. “You did say sex was off the table.”

She nodded absently, disconcerted that he’d read her so well. “I like this. Do you?”

He flexed his dirty fingers, because he apparently hadn’t bought himself any gloves. “Surprisingly, yeah. It feels…good.” He looked bewildered. “It’s just dirt and flowers. But I like putting it all together, maybe seeing it grow.” He stared at her as if she had the answers.

“That’s what I like about it too. I have a small garden in my backyard. I spend a lot of time caring for my flowers and veggies. It’s fun for me, and I like knowing my hard work will pay off in tomatoes or green beans, maybe even cucumbers.”

“Fresh is best,” he agreed.

She smiled with him. The moon darted behind clouds, then broke out over them both once more. She shivered when the wind made another pass.

“Wait here,” Gavin ordered. “I mean, don’t stop digging and stuff. I’ll be back.”

He left, and she assumed a new spot by another bed, where lilies and clusters of out-of-control lavender congregated. He returned with a tray of cocoa and marshmallows, all served on some fancy-looking crockery. “Wasn’t sure if you liked coffee or tea, but thought I couldn’t go wrong with cocoa.”

“Yes.” Chocolate, one of her major weaknesses. She tried to eat healthy, but the heaven known as liquid milk chocolate constantly called to her. As did those mini marshmallows.

He handed her a mug and watched her with intense eyes.

After a few decadent sips, she frowned. “Do I have marshmallow on my lip or something?” Then she licked her lips just to be sure they were clean.

“Did you have to do that? I’ve been so good, behaving myself.” He took the mug from her and set it on the wooden border of the flowerbed, then moved into her personal space.

She refused to back up, so they stood so close that she nearly bumped his chin when she tilted her face up to see him better.

“You’re so pretty. Even when you’re not wearing pink,” he teased, his voice soft on the cool wind.

The moment seemed like a freeze frame from the most romantic scene ever. She still tasted chocolate. The moon overhead lit everything with a preternatural glow. The scents of earth and lavender and Gavin filled her head, until she could focus on nothing but him.

“Gavin?” She didn’t know what she was asking him for, but the promise of safety in his eyes drew her closer.

“I’m gonna kiss you now,” he said, his voice low, warm.

She nodded.

He leaned closer at the same time she did.

Their coming together felt amazing. Perfect. Right. The kiss shook her. Deep, sensual, yet not as close as she wanted. His tongue swept her mouth, caressing while he took charge of the embrace. But not once did he overwhelm her. Instead, she followed him, sip for sip, and let the rush of her heartbeat pull her into a tide of longing she couldn’t suppress. Not now, surrounded by all her favorite things.

“Gavin,” she murmured when he kissed his way from her mouth down her cheek to her throat.

He pulled her to him, but their clothes kept them too far apart. Gentle bites down her throat ended in a soft kiss that caused a full-body shiver.

“Cold?” he whispered as he straightened.

She shook her head, unable to speak, and blinked into his shuttered gaze. Then he made everything worse. He tucked her head under his chin and hugged her with affection. No way she could chalk this up as a gambit to get her to bed, not when he had the gall to make her feel.

With a sigh, he ended the embrace and pulled back. “Now show me which ones I can pull and which ones I can’t.” He nodded at the third flower bed they hadn’t gotten to yet, not winded or affected by their kiss, apparently. Hell. Zoe couldn’t feel his heartbeat through their clothes, but hers raced like a thoroughbred intent on taking the Triple Crown.

The bastard had the nerve to wipe a clean thumb over her lower lip, causing that thoroughbred to run past the finish line with no signs of stopping.

“I have the urge to flip you again, right here,” she rasped. For starting something he wouldn’t finish. And for making her want to finish it, regardless of their newness.

He smirked, as if reading her mind. “I know. I can’t stop thinking about us in the gym either.”

“That’s not what I meant.”

He wiggled his brows. “I think it is. Next time I’m flat on my back, I’ll be thinking only of you, Mistress.”

“You’re such a pain.”

“I know. It’s a gift.”

She wanted to smack him, so she did. When his laughter ended, she pulled him close and planted a kiss on him that had him panting and grabbing for her—but this time she had the presence of mind to disentangle herself. “Now,” she said, her voice hoarse, “grab that trowel and let’s get back to work.”

He kept staring at her mouth. “Trowel?”

She groaned, because she wanted to get back to that kiss as well. “Why me?”

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Caffeine addict, boy referee, and romance aficionado, MARIE HARTE is a confessed bibliophile and devotee of action movies. Whether hiking in Central Oregon, biking around town, or hanging at the local tea shop, she’s constantly plotting to give everyone a happily ever after. Visit www.marieharte.com and fall in love.

http://marieharte.com/

 

Spotlight Tour – Fuel for Fire by Julie Ann Walker

Complete your BKI Bookshelf

Pre-order Fuel for Fire or Hot Pursuit and receive another Black Knights Inc. novel of your choice! 

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New York Times and USA Today bestseller Julie Ann Walker delivers red-hot romantic suspense in Fuel for Fire!

Dagan Zoelner has always had his eye on spunky CIA agent Chelsea Duvall. When a mission throws them together, this could be his only chance to win her heart for good.

Dagan Zoelner has made three huge mistakes

The first two left blood on his hands.

The third left him wondering…what if?

What if he had told the woman of his dreams how he felt before his world fell apart?

Spitfire CIA agent Chelsea Duvall has always had a thing for bossy, brooding Dagan. It’s just as well that he’s never given her a second look, since she carries a combustible secret about his past that threatens to torch their lives…

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EXCERPT:

Tell us!” Surry demanded again, giving her head a hard shake. Her brain banged around inside her skull, making her see stars. Since she was tied with a length of electrical cord to one of the chairs in front of Morrison’s desk, her hands duct-taped behind her back, there was little she could do to defend herself.

Then again, she still had her smart mouth. “Screw you, buddy,” she snarled. Those three words were all she allowed herself before she clenched her teeth and sealed her lips shut.

The violence that clouded Surry’s face and glinted in his hell-black eyes made her want to curl into a protective ball. He leaned down so that his nose was an inch from hers. His hot breath smelled of coffee and buttered croissants, and the thought of him actually eating struck her as weird. She had assumed he sustained himself by devouring the souls of Morrison’s enemies.

“You will bloody well tell us what we want to know, Miss Duvall.” When he spoke all low and menacing in that thick English accent, she got the unsettling feeling that something dark moved in the shadows just out of sight. “Or I will jab this letter opener into your carotid.” He pulled back to wield the weapon he had taken from Morrison’s desktop. The sterling-silver letter opener glinted in the golden glow cast by the overhead chandelier.

Releasing her face, Surry cocked his head. “So, what shall it be? The truth? Or the knife? The choice is yours.” There was an emptiness in his voice when he asked the questions. Like he didn’t really care what the answers would be. Like he was tired or bored or maybe…resigned?

Oh, that doesn’t bode well.

Of course, the truth was out of the question. She would never rat on the Black Knights. No telling what Morrison, a.k.a Spider, with all his power and connections, could do with that information. So that left…the knife.

But there’s still so much I want to do!

She had never learned to make her mother’s she-crab soup. She had never tried her hand at writing fiction like that of Tolkien or Rowling or Martin. She had never married the love of her life and given him two bouncing, chubby-cheeked babies.

A cold finger of terror dragged up her spine, and for a second she considered spilling her guts and saving her hide. But then, from somewhere deep inside, a well of strength erupted, filling her with determination and the will to do what must be done.

Her mind briefly touched on her mother, and a great sadness weighed down her heart. Grace Duvall would be devastated by the death of her only child. But Chelsea took comfort—cold comfort, but comfort all the same—in knowing that her life insurance policy would be enough to pay her mother’s debts. That was something. Something to hold on to.

“Well?” Surry demanded. “What will it be?”

Chelsea licked her lips. Fear was a living thing inside her, crawling through her chest like a centipede on prickly legs. She squashed it and sealed her own fate. “Do your worst, you sorry, low-life sonofagun!”

Surry’s beard-stubbled chin jerked back as if he couldn’t believe the choice she’d made. Then his eyes narrowed, and grim determination transformed his face.

Closing her eyes, Chelsea waited on the inevitable. That centipede was going crazy inside her, making her chest ache and raising the hair on her head. She braced herself for the deathblow as a million regrets, a million joys, a million memories flittered through her brain.

Funny how many of those regrets and joys and memories feature Dagan.

She held her breath, savoring it, knowing it was her last and—

“Drop. The. Knife.”

With a cry, she blinked open her eyes and craned her head around to see three figures dressed from head to toe in black. Each of them wielded a weapon as if it were an extension of himself.

The Black Knights…

Even had Dagan not spoken the three most beautiful words she’d ever heard in that smooth moonshine voice, she would have known the trio anywhere. There was no mistaking those broad shoulders or those defiant, cocksure stances.

Her eyes homed in on Dagan. He was in the middle and slightly forward of the other two. It wasn’t his height or carriage that gave him away. It was his stillness. Ace and Christian seemed to vibrate with barely leashed power. But Dagan was a statue. Not a muscle quivered. Not a tendon or ligament cracked. Chelsea was reminded of a pair of tectonic plates under intense pressure. She knew what came next. The earth would rip open, and hell would spew forth.

Surry must have felt the doom behind Dagan’s stillness, because his voice sounded wheezy when he demanded, “And who the fuck are you?”

“Worry less about who we are,” Dagan snarled, “and more about what we’ll do if you don’t drop the knife.”

Proving he had more balls than brains, Surry spun Chelsea’s chair around and palmed her forehead to wrench her head back. The sharp tip of the letter opener nicked at the skin pulsing over the large vein in her neck. She hadn’t had time to scream, and now she didn’t dare breathe.

“Ring up the police, sir,” Surry said. From the corner of her eye, Chelsea saw Morrison/Spider make a move toward the desk.

“Take one step in the direction of that phone, and you’ll be eating a bullet for breakfast.” There was no mistaking Dagan’s words or his tone. He meant what he said.

Morrison must have come to the same realization. The old man stopped in his tracks.

“Good man,” Dagan acknowledged. “Now, there’s one thing you both need to understand. We’re leaving here with Chelsea. That can be over your dead bodies or your live ones.” Even though his words were calm and his body as motionless as a mountain, rage burned inside him. It was there in his eyes, glowing red like the fires of Mordor. “So what will it be? The choice is yours.”

It was the same option Surry had given her, spoken in the same words. How long had the three of them been outside listening?

“You have no bloody idea who you’re fucking with,” Morrison snarled, his chest heaving with every furious breath. “I have—”

That’s all he managed. In a flash, the statue, a.k.a. Dagan Zoelner, came to life. He moved faster than the human eye could follow, certainly faster than Chelsea could track with her head angled back in Surry’s grip. One second he was staring at her and Surry, and the next he aimed at Morrison and pulled his trigger.

The gunshot was oddly muffled and Morrison stumbled back, hitting his hip on the edge of the desk. Surry bellowed his outrage and released her head. Free from his brutal grip, she turned to Morrison and understood the strangeness of the weapon’s sound.

It wasn’t a bullet that had exploded from the end of Dagan’s gun. It was a dart. She had just enough time to catch a glimpse of the fuzzy yellow end protruding from the center of Morrison’s chest before Dagan fired again. This time the dart whizzed over her head. Surry made an awful gurgling noise. When she pulled her chin back, she saw the projectile sticking from his neck.

He reached for the dart, stumbling into her chair. His hand hit the back of her head, looking for leverage and forcing her chin into her chest as every vertebra in her neck threatened to crack under the pressure. She couldn’t see what happened next. But she heard it. Heard the boots that pounded against the tiles as the Black Knights raced into the room.

Surry released her head when Christian tackled him. From the corner of her eye, she watched Ace catch Morrison right before the old man toppled face-first onto the floor. And Dagan? Well, Dagan knelt in front of her.

She gasped when his big, warm hands cupped her cheeks, gently lifting her head. Her neck ached, but it wasn’t broken. All her fingers and toes still worked when she gave them an experimental wiggle.

“Chels… Christ. Are you okay?” His stormy eyes searched her face.

She nodded her head. That’s all she could manage because a giant lump was centered in her throat. She had put on a brave face throughout the entire ordeal, but now that it looked like she was saved, all her shock and terror rose to the surface, crumbling her mask of courage.

“Thank God.” He wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close.

It was the first time he had hugged her. The first time she had been in his arms. Oh, how she wanted to hold him tight in return. But with her hands still trapped behind her back, the only thing she could do was turn her face into his warm neck and breathe him in.

She had always loved the way he smelled. A mixture of worn leather, dryer sheets, and shampoo. All clean and healthy and…male.

“I was afraid m-maybe I didn’t press the button long enough to send out the Mayday,” she said in a rush, her lips moving against the rough fabric of his ski mask. “And th-then they found the thumb drive. But they were so quick to stop questioning me and…and…” She had to stop. “Thank you. Thank you for coming for me.”

His wide palm cupped the back of her head, holding her close. Was it trembling? “Always, Chels. Never doubt it.”

Oh great. Now the lump in her throat had grown to the size of a Carolina pine.

She wanted the moment to last forever, to stay just like this, safe in his arms. But all too soon, he pulled back. “What were you thinking, telling them to do their worst? You were baiting them, egging them on. You stupid, stubborn, self-sacrificing fool.”

And just like that, happiness and relief morphed into incredulity that slid quick as a whistle into anger. Seriously? He was going to stand there—er, squat there—and call her names?

He may be hotter than the door handles of hell, but when he gets all Me Tarzan, You Jane, I want to dump his limp body in the River Thames and feed him to the fishes. After she’d killed him with mind-blowing sex and multiple orgasms, natch. And she could probably cop to his last two accusations. She was stubborn, and in that instant she had been willing to sacrifice herself. But the first one?

“S-stupid?” she sputtered. And good news! The lump in her throat vanished. “Screw you, Dagan! In case you’ve forgotten, I pulled off this op w-with…”

She stumbled to a stop because he’d ripped off his mask. And there it was. The Beard.

Looking at him dressed all in black, shoulders as broad as the Lowcountry, she couldn’t help but think he resembled a god. One of the mythical beings she read about in her fantasy novels. Formidable. Powerful. Gorgeous.

And here I am, a mere mortal.

The look he pinned on her was one she recognized. She liked to call it his Clint Eastwood gunfighter squint. He tended to whip it out right before he laid into her for something. She braced herself, mentally running through her standard list of comebacks. But he didn’t give her a tongue-lashing. At least not a verbal one. Instead, he took her face in his hands and sealed his lips to hers.

She was so surprised that her mouth formed a startled O. Dagan took advantage, his tongue surging between her teeth. His lips were firm yet amazingly soft, and his beard abraded the tender flesh of her cheeks.

Holy mother! Dagan Zoelner was…kissing her!

Oh. My!

 

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Spotlight Post – By Her Touch by Adriana Anders

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Blurb:

Undercover cop Clay Navarro left the Sultans biker gang a changed man. Its ringleaders may be awaiting trial, but he wears the memory of every brutal act he was forced to commit tattooed across his skin. He doesn’t have space in his messed-up life for anything gentle—not now, maybe not ever.

Dr. Georgette Hadley is drawn to the damaged stranger’s pain, intimidated but intrigued by the warmth that lies beneath Clay’s frightening exterior. But when the Sultans return looking for revenge, she finds herself drawn into the dirty underbelly of a life forged in violence…that not even her touch may be able to heal.

Excerpt:

This time, George was ready when he arrived. Sort of.

It had been a busy day spent trying to catch up on Friday’s missed appointments, which was good, since her mind had spent an uncomfortable amount of time going back to him.

All day, she’d fended off questions about the bruises and anticipated his arrival with the

most unwelcome combination of excitement and apprehension, building it up so that, by the time his form blocked out the low evening sunlight, she had decided more or less how to proceed. No casual talk and no mention of Saturday night, besides a well-deserved

thanks. Professional, strict.

That, of course, translated to stiff, which probably only made her seem nervous. A complete failure in bedside manner.

“Evening, Doc.”

George shivered. That voice. Rougher than she was used to, lower, without any hint of local Virginia twang.

“Mr. Blane.” He loitered in the doorway. “Come in, come in.” Great, now she sounded like a little old woman, enticing him with tea and cookies. Or something.

“How you feeling tonight, Doc?”

“Wonderful.”

“That’s quite a shiner you got there.”

“I’m fine,” she snapped, tired of explaining the thing all day and not wanting to relive it with him right now, either.

The man moved inside, limping—which reminded her that he’d run back to the motel the other night—and finally pulled off his glasses, baring sharp, assessing eyes beneath two bright red, puffy lids, greased up.

At least he followed directions.

He stepped forward, hand out, and George hesitated, thinking for a second that he might… What? Kiss her? Hug her? Lord, she was messed up.

“I owe you some money, Doc.”

“Oh. No. Thank you,” she said. “You saved me from…from a world of hurt. I can’t accept your money.”

“Look, Doc, I—”

“Mr. Blane. Please,” she said, her breathing loud in her ears.

His eyes flicked between hers, measuring, weighing, and finally, apparently, deciding she wasn’t bluffing.

He gave in, lowered his chin in a single quick nod, then asked, “Where d’you want me, Doc?”

“Come on back,” she said, trying so hard to sound like the doctor she was, suddenly wishing she hadn’t insisted on seeing him this late, all alone, with her staff long gone.

As she led him to the last exam room on the right, George pretended he was just another patient—an urticaria needing steroid cream, a full-body skin check, or a mole to biopsy.

When she turned back at the door, though, and caught him eyeing her bottom or her legs,

hidden though they were by her trousers, her body reacted in a way that showed it knew the difference between him and everyone else, even if her mind didn’t care to. Just that look, that slide of his eyes over layers of clothing, dragged her into a morass of sexuality that she’d managed for years to avoid.

His gaze went up to her face, and she saw his eyes change, watched their warm brown darken to black, and the muscle in his jaw tighten. “Didn’t realize they’d got your face so bad.”

“Oh,” she said, her hand flying back to the telltale bruise. “It really is fine. No big deal.”

“You call the cops after I left?”

“No. No, I didn’t.” And then, because she didn’t want to talk about it any longer, she said, “Your eyes look good.”

“You call this good?” He shook his head wryly.

“You’re one weird lady.”

“I know it hurts, but it’s doing what it should. Red, blistering. Now, let’s get your shirt off, Mr. Blane,” she said, dodging his gaze. And that sentence—her stupidly chosen words—heightened her body’s fall into unwanted sensuality.

Wonderful. Just great. After all her careful planning and preparation. Rather than look at him as he stripped, George busied herself prepping the already-prepped room, her mind hunting for words that didn’t contain subtext within subtext, with even more subtext

lurking beneath.

“Remembered the burning hair last time, Doc.”

Behind her came the sound of clothing being removed.

“So I shaved my chest.”

Oh, that did it. Her eyes, evil creatures, bypassed her brain’s directives entirely and slithered right to where her body wanted them—on that chest. Good Lord, that chest. She’d spent all weekend thinking about that chest.

Below his clavicles, he was so unfeasibly flat and broad, she’d need a half-dozen

hands to span it. And strong. Still lower, the muscles curved out, hard and male and

sexual in a way that pectorals shouldn’t be—they really shouldn’t. And then the thought of her bare hands, right there, touching his freshly shaven skin…

George swallowed audibly in the quiet room and reached for her gloves. A barrier.

“’S that okay? You hadn’t mentioned body hair last time, but I figured it’d make it easier.”

“Oh, yes, that’s wonderf—”

Another attempted swallow over dry, dry throat. “I mean, you did the right thing.

In fact, I should have told you.” Her throat clicked again, and before her tongue managed to talk her straight into some sort of absurd 1980s porn scenario, George threw the switches on the machine. It would drown her out.

And him, thank God.

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Adriana Anders has acted and sung, slung cocktails and corrected copy. She’s worked for start-ups, multinationals and small nonprofits, but it wasn’t until she returned to her first love—writing romance—that she finally felt like she’d come home. Today, she resides with her tall French husband, two small children and fat French cat in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where she writes the dark, gritty, steamy love stories of her heart.

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Spotlight Tour – Wild Ride by Julie Ann Walker

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The hero we’ve all been waiting for… 

Ethan “Ozzie” Sykes

Former Navy SEAL

Underground operator for Black Knights Inc., the covert government defense firm disguised as a custom motorcycle shop

In a black-on-black international mission that went seriously sideways, Ozzie was badly injured—now he’s stuck at BKI headquarters in Chicago, champing at the bit to get out into the field again. To his disgust, he’s tasked with distracting Chicago Tribune ace reporter Samantha Tate, who’s been trying to dig up the dirt on BKI for years. Turns out Samantha’s beauty, intelligence and sense of humor are a seriously big distraction, and Ozzie’s losing his desire to keep her at bay.

Ozzie’s tired of hiding, and Samantha may be the best—and worst—person to share his secrets with… 

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2npgv9L

B&N: http://bit.ly/2cU2azC

iBooks: http://apple.co/1UEXsjG

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Excerpt:

Full situational awareness…

It was a phrase the Navy SEALs used to describe an operator’s ability to focus on a million things at once and quickly come to conclusions about who or what in his environment posed a potential problem. As far as Ozzie could figure, his environment posed three potential problems.

The first was Janie. She was gearing up to make another pass at him. He could see it in her come-and-get-me-big-boy stare. And what the hell was Gloria thinking? That he was some toy to be passed around? Sure, he deserved an ass-kicking for not immediately recognizing her. But in his defense, they’d only had sex once. And besides being a brunette back then, she’d also been about twenty pounds heavier. And just to be clear, she was the one who never called him back.

Pretty much the story of my life, he thought, quickly followed by, Damn you, self-pity!

His second problem was Samantha. Something was off with her. He hadn’t noticed it at first, but then he’d detected the edge in her voice, the slight trembling of her lips. Both subtle tells had increased exponentially after she read that text message. Not good. The woman was like one of those damned truffle pigs when it came to sniffing out trouble, and the thought of her pretty neck on someone’s chopping block had anger burning low in his belly and fear crawling up his spine like a poisonous spider.

And then there was problema número tres, otherwise known as the big, burly biker who had shouldered his way into the bar. He was wearing the colors of the Basilisk MC, one of Chicago’s true-blue motorcycle clubs, and the expression on his face said he hadn’t come in for a drink. He was searching for someone. His eyes were barely visible between his shaggy hairline and the dark beard that grew up over his cheeks, but they zeroed on Samantha’s back as she made her way down the long hall leading to the restrooms, making it seem that he’d found his quarry.

Ozzie’s heart rate spiked, the feeling as familiar as breathing. The blood rushing through the injured muscles of his thigh caused them to twitch, and the resulting pain was also now as familiar as breathing. He tried to take comfort in that. Pain meant life. He should be grateful to still be alive. He was grateful to still be alive. Even if it appeared that his life wasn’t going to be anything like what he had planned or hoped.

“Heads up,” he murmured casually.

“I see him.” Christian took a slow sip of his beer as they watched the biker skirt around tables until he stopped at the high-top closest to the mouth of the hallway.

“Hard to tell what he’s packing beneath his cut,” Ozzie observed. Cut was the term bikers used to describe the jackets that sported their colors and patches. Those colors and patches not only told the world which MC the rider was affiliated with, but also who the rider was within the MC and the various things the rider had done for the MC. According to this dude’s patches, he was the sergeant at arms, the enforcer for the Basilisks, and he’d killed for his club. More than once.

Well, piss, shit, and suck a potato dick.

“Judging by the size of that bulge,” Christian speculated, his accent thickened with adrenaline as he nonchalantly unhooked his heels from the brass footrail and prepared to make a move, “I should think it’s either a small sidearm or a bloody big knife.”

“Trouble brewing?” Delilah asked beneath her breath, coming over to them and pretending to wipe down the bar. “First time I’ve ever had a Basilisk in my place.”

“You still got that sawed-off back there?” Ozzie asked. One of the many things they all appreciated about Delilah was the shotgun with the aftermarket shortened barrel she was known to keep behind the bar.

A faint smile curved her lips. “Wouldn’t leave home without it.”

“Good,” he told her. “If shit goes sideways, I want you to grab that scatter gun and duck down behind the bar.”

“But—” she started, only to have Christian cut her off.

“Oy. Shut your gobs. Here comes Samantha.” When Christian got really worked up, a little cockney slipped into his highbrow London speech.

But Samantha wasn’t coming. Oh, no. She was running. Running out the door leading to the alley like the place was burning down behind her.

Author Information: 

Author - photo - hat2

Julie Ann Walker is the USA Today and New York Times Bestselling Author of the Black Knights Inc. romantic suspense series. She is prone to spouting movie quotes and song lyrics. She’ll never say no to sharing a glass of wine or going for a long walk. She prefers impromptu travel over the scheduled kind, and she takes her coffee with milk. You can find her on her bicycle along the lake shore in Chicago or blasting away at her keyboard, trying to wrangle her capricious imagination into submission. For more information, please visit www.julieannwalker.com or follow her on Facebook www.facebook.com/jawalkerauthor and/or Twitter @JAWalkerAuthor.

Blog Tour – Fighting Attraction by Sarah Castille

FIGHTING ATTRACTION by SARAH CASTILLE

CVR Fighting Attraction

FIGHTING ATTRACTION (REDEMPTION #4)

By Sarah Castille

Contemporary Erotic Romance

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Published 04/04/17

BOOK DESCRIPTION: 

My sweet, sexy Penny has a dark side. Just like me.

I will have her. And then I will lose her, and suffer a lifetime of regret.

Rampage. Everyone loves him. He is Redemption’s top heavyweight fighter and the biggest gossip in the gym. But he isn’t the teddy bear everyone thinks he is. He’s hiding a dark secret-and he hates himself for it.

Twice a week, Rampage transforms into Master Jack, a notorious dom only the most hard-core submissives will play with. How can he-a Southern gentleman, bred to respect and protect women-want to dominate them?

But Penny Worthington wants him. Beneath her pearls, kitten heels, and prim British exterior beats a tortured heart…Master Jack is the only one who can set her free.

PRE-ORDER LINKS:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2jvBTuD

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2jkEDZA

B&N: http://bit.ly/2j5qgYa

iTunes: http://apple.co/2iKwXkv

Google Books: http://bit.ly/2jsS5NG

BAM: http://bit.ly/2j5oB4J

Redemption Series

Against the Ropes

In Your Corner

Full Contact

Fighting Attraction 

PRAISE for Sarah Castille’s Redemption series:

“Powerful. Gritty. And sexy beyond belief. Sarah is a true master!”-Opal Carew, New York Times bestselling author of His to Claim 

“Hilarious, hot and occasionally heartbreaking. I loved it! ” – Maryse’s Book Blog on Against the Ropes

“Castille’s follow-up to the excellent Against the Ropes doesn’t pull its punches.” – Publishers Weekly, starred review for In Your Corner 

“Emotionally charged, amazingly sexy, and flat out fantastic.”-Fresh Fiction on Full Contact 

What is Penny’s favorite music? Death Metal

EXCERPT: 

Jack “Rampage” Caldwell is the first MMA fighter I created for the Redemption series, and even when I first brought this Southern gentleman to life, I knew he had a secret. But Penny has a dark secret, too. After Jack discovers what she hides from the world, he makes her promise to come to him if she needs him. But trust doesn’t come easily for Penny. She breaks her promise, never expecting that Jack will find out. But, of course, he does…and crossing a sadist is never a good idea! 

“I’ll call you back. Jack is here.”

Cora sucks in a sharp breath. “I’ll see you at class tonight. I can hardly wait to hear all about it.”

I end the call and swallow past the lump in my throat. It’s only been three days, and yet it feels like I haven’t seen Jack in forever. He’s wearing a white T-shirt that clings to his taut, muscle-ridged abdomen, and worn jeans that ride low on his narrow hips.

“What are you doing here?” I ask, trying to keep my gaze above his belt.

He pins me with a direct stare, his eyes fierce and hard. I feel like he’s trying to see into my soul, but my heart is pounding so hard I’m not sure enough oxygen is getting to my brain to make any sense of what’s going on.

“Jack?”

His gaze rakes over my body, lingering on my thighs as if he can see beneath my skirt. He tenses, and his eyes narrow. If I didn’t know X-ray vision was impossible, I would swear he knows I broke my promise.

“Are you alone?”

“Yes.” My pulse kicks up a notch. “Everyone’s out for the rest of the afternoon.”

He takes a step toward me, and the hair on the back of my neck stands on end.

“Lock the door.”

A thrill of fear shoots through me, and sweat beads on my forehead. What if he knows? Or suspects? What will he do?

“Now.” His deep, commanding Dom voice ripples through me, fanning the flames of my desire. Do I trust Jack enough to lock myself in the office with him, especially when I know what is coming? Do I trust myself?

I brush past him and lock the front door.

“Your office,” he snaps after I return.

I jump at his sharp tone and scramble out of his way as he brushes past me and through my office door, a lithe and powerful animal herding its prey.

“What’s going on?”

“Stand in front of the desk.” He gestures to the big oak desk Amanda and I refinished when we first moved into the building.

Puzzled, I do as he asks, my breath catching in my throat when he closes and locks the door behind him.

“Jack?”

He gives me his back as he draws the curtains at the side of my office. “Don’t move.”

A sting of disappointment hits me in the chest. Has he come to reject me all over again? Does he want to make sure I understand there is nothing between us? It shouldn’t bother me because I got the message the other night. I’m nothing. Nothing special. Nothing extraordinary. Not worth his time, especially since he’s on the cusp of fame. I’m just his pal. Plain old quirky Pen. But he doesn’t have to be so cold.

Worthless, no-good piece of shit. 

No. No. No. My fingers tighten on the lip of the desk. I haven’t even started to heal from last night. I don’t need the past intruding on the present.

Jack leans against the door across from me, thick arms folded over his massive chest.

“Lift your skirt.”

Shock steals my breath away, and all I can do is stare.

“What?”

“You heard me. Lift your skirt. Now.”

Bang. Bang. Bang. My heart thuds frantically against my ribs. Adrenaline pounds through my veins, and I feel a rush of heat between my legs. He knows. I can see it in his eyes, hear it in his voice…

“Why?” I whisper, stalling. And why is this turning me on?

“You know why,” he snaps. “You didn’t keep your promise.”

I smooth my hands over my cream skirt, silky underneath with a cotton macramé overlay, pressing it tight against my thighs. “It doesn’t matter if I kept it or not. We’re not in the club. There’s nothing between us. You made that clear the other night.”

“I fucked up the other night.” He shifts his stance. “I’m not good for you, Pen. You need to be with someone normal. A nice guy who’s going to treat you right and doesn’t want to hurt you.”

My hand fists on my thigh. “I don’t like nice guys. They don’t understand me. They’re too gentle. My life is about pain. Emotional and physical pain. It’s what I know, what I understand, what I need.”

“So you hurt yourself?”

“I didn’t—”

He cuts me off with a scowl. “Don’t lie to me.” He pauses, and his voice takes on a deeper, cutting edge. “Show me.”

My mouth goes dry at his abrupt command, and I fiddle with the edge of my skirt, at once indignant that he would try to boss me around and aroused that he did.

“What if I did?” I say defiantly. “There’s nothing you can do about it.”

His corded throat tightens when he swallows, and he fixes me with a level stare. “I’ll give you what you need.”

All the air leaves my lungs in a rush, and I feel a disconcerting wetness between my thighs. “You wouldn’t dare. I’m at work.”

“Try me.”

Electricity sparks in the air between us, and a curious mix of fear and arousal courses through my veins. Stiffening my spine, I curl my fingers under the edge of my skirt and draw it slowly, painfully slowly up my thighs. Jack stills. His eyes flick down and then back up again. He licks his lips, and his eyes darken.

I have awakened the beast.

Fighting Attraction graphic

Fighting Attraction is the fourth book in a full-length, standalone, award-winning series by New York Times bestselling author, Sarah Castille, featuring deliciously sexy MMA fighters and the women who can’t help but love them.

Author photo_ Sarah Castille

AUTHOR LINKS

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/sarah_castille

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WEBSITE: http://www.sarahcastille.com

Spotlight Tour – Beautiful Mess by Kasey Lane

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When attorney Jami Dillon strides into the conference room to meet her new client, she’s stopped in her tracks by an all-too familiar figure. Jackson Paige. He’s her tall, tattooed, and sexy as hell hook up from law school—who also broke her heart.

Hell’s bells.

Jackson Paige was, in fact, Jax Pain, the drummer of Manix Curse.

That thing in Jami’s chest tightened, making it hard to breathe. 

Jackson Paige, aka Jax Pain, has worked hard to put that unfor-frickin-gettable fling behind him and the nasty secret that made him leave her. Truth is, life as the playboy drummer of Portland’s hottest metal band hasn’t helped him to forget the fiery, sexy woman who stole his heart. Lucky for him, Jami was just hired as his band’s new attorney. But when he sees the look on her face when she realizes who her new client is, Jax wonders if maybe being this close to her again isn’t such a great idea. The explosive chemistry is there, but so are the dark secrets…

Excerpt:

“Did he just wrap a pair of women’s underwear around his wrist before going up on stage?”

Jami turned slowly, still in a Jax-induced haze. Ella and Gabby stood behind her. Oh shit, had they witnessed the whole scene play out between her and Jackson? That was exactly why she shouldn’t be here. Why she had to stay away from him. He was dangerous. He made her think wearing a short denim skirt, heels, and a tiny top were good ideas. That coming to a heavy metal show in downtown Portland was a good idea. Or that letting a tattooed, pierced, six-foot-four wall of narrow, twisting muscle wrap her hair around his fist in a packed bar and kiss her breathless was a good idea.

It wasn’t. Not a good idea. Definitely a very bad idea.

She stared at her friends. What had Ella asked her?

Behind her, a guitar began to play a slow, pulsing melody. Soft, sweet, building to something bigger. More solid.

The steady beat of a bass drum. Then more drums.

Ella and Gabby pointed to something on the low stage behind Jami. The band. Of course, the band was starting. More specifically, Jackson’s band, her client, Manix Curse, were beginning their set. Her heart dropped into her belly. She swiveled around, her eyes tracking the hundreds of hands with their fingers held up in heavy-metal salutes.

The lone spotlight shone down on the tall and shirtless Marco Dane as he tossed back his mane and bellowed to the sky about the cruelty of love. His perfect torso was already glossy with the sheen of sweat. But it was the tall, rangy man beating the drums with feral efficiency that made her blood boil with prurient lust. His head hung low, but his short, messy hair was already dark with sweat despite the fans circulating air around the stage. Conner leaned into a mic in front of Mandi and they joined the chorus.

Jami watched in awe, mesmerized by the pure raw power of the four band members and how seamlessly yet viciously they tore apart and reconstructed the song. She’d never seen anything like it. Never heard any band with such vitality and brutality, and yet a dash of melody. Even in her wilder youth, when she’d snuck into every concert and club possible, she’d never seen anything quite like Manix Curse.

Not one for crowds or other people actually touching her, Jami barely registered the audience members pushing into her, clamoring for a closer look at Manix Curse. Or even the couple of losers who attempted gropes before Ella—or she assumed it was Ella—slapped away a restless, errant hand.

The band abruptly ended their song and the crowd went wild, screaming their names and favorite songs into the chaos.

Marco growled into the mic, and the women in the crowed squealed. “You guys here to see Manix Curse?”

The crowd screamed louder.

“You here to rock the fuck out?”

They yelled louder still.

Then Jackson raised his head and searched the crowd. The smirk that transformed his face when his eyes locked on Jami’s could only be described as wolfish. The voice in her head began to whisper again, filling her with all kinds of dark and dirty thoughts. Because gone was the laid-back, easygoing Jackson everyone knew. In his place was the man she’d met years before.

Sexy.

Dangerous.

Pure sin.

And her blood turned from liquid into steam and evaporated from her body, leaving her a hollow shell of need.

He flipped his sticks around his fingers in a manner that, for some unexplained reason, made her wet. Then he pointed one stick at her, and sure enough her freaking panties were wrapped around his wrist like some ridiculous rock-and-roll talisman. People turned to stare at her, obviously wondering what, or who, had caught the playboy drummer’s eye, but she just stared at him.

 

beautiful-mess

Award-winning debut author KASEY LANE writes sexy romances featuring music, hot guys with ink, kick ass women, and always a happily ever after. A California transplant, she lives with her high school crush turned husband, two smart, but devilish kids, two Papillions, three cats, and several chickens in the lush Oregon forest.

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2lD3SHA

B&N: http://bit.ly/2lCZCrN

iBooks: http://apple.co/2lCZFDZ

Book Spotlight – Reckless Hearts by Heather Van Fleet

CVR Reckless Hearts.jpg

Title: Reckless Hearts

Author: Heather Van Fleet

Series: Reckless Hearts, #1

ISBN: 9781492637165

Pubdate: February 7, 2017

Genre: Contemporary

Three alpha men and a baby.

What could possibly go wrong?

From boot camp to the Iraqi desert, best friends Collin, Max, and Gavin have been through hell and back. But these rugged Marines might need help facing their biggest challenge: raising Collin’s nine-month-old daughter, Chloe.

After the death of his girlfriend in an accident, Collin Montgomery has sworn off serious relationships. His buddies have his back—and convince him it’s okay to cut loose sometimes. Enter the hottest, smartest girl he’s ever met. But what he really needs is a nanny.

Addison Booker needs a job desperately—and fast. She shows up to interview for the nanny position only to find the sexy, cocky man she can’t get out of her head. Collin knows hiring her is a bad idea—they disagree about almost everything—but Addison is so good with little Chloe. And there’s no substitute for chemistry, right?

BUY LINKS:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2ducrEl

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2dfCqwm

iBooks: http://apple.co/2dlJYMa

Excerpt:

To curb the anxiety brewing hot inside me, I grabbed Addie by the wrist and marched her to the door.

“Hey, watch it.” She clawed at my hand, only making me want to hang on tighter.

“What is your deal, Collin?”

“It’s time for you to go.” I kept hold of her arm, but not as tight, and grabbed her coat, shoving it against her chest.

“What’d I do this time?” She lifted her chin—always lifting her damn chin. Taking pride to a level I wasn’t even capable of most days anymore.

“Nothing.” I let go of her arm, my hands itching to grab her and pull her close.

Instead, I walked to the door and unlatched the lock.

“Oh no. Don’t think so, buddy.” She threw her coat and her hat onto the floor, crossing her arms just under her breasts. “If I’m going to work for you, we need to set some ground rules.”

I tightened my hands into fists, fingernails digging into my palms. One step forward, then two, and she was in front of me, one eyebrow arched. Her curled lips saying I won’t back down. And damn I didn’t want her to. She messed with me, all fire and sass. And it made me fucking hot.

“You are the most ungrateful son of a bitch I’ve ever met in my life, and if you really and truly want me to be your child’s nanny, then you better cut the attitude or else I’m gonna—”

“Stop talking.” Couldn’t help myself. I had to do it. So I grabbed her waist and yanked her to my chest, while clutching the bottom of her shirt with my other hand. Eyes wide and lips parted, I took what I wanted and kissed her. Hard. Unforgivingly. Relentlessly.

And holy shit.

I mean, holy.

Shit.

That kiss was so much. But it wasn’t enough—never would be enough either. Not until I had her against the wall, touching her anywhere she’d let me touch her. Skin on skin, flesh on flesh. Just once, that’s all I’d ask for. I wasn’t a greedy man, just needy and desperate for the only woman who’d ever mind-fucked me before she actually fucked me.

Fighting against every instinct I had, I used my tongue to explore, only to feel her arms wrap around my neck and her fingers dig into my scalp in response.

With her reaction, my restraint snapped in half.

I walked her backward. She obliged, hands desperate and tight as she clung to me. Warm body soft against mine, pliant and so damn sexy. Almost as needy as my own.

My knee went between her thighs as I pushed her back against the door. She moaned against my lips, the sound going straight to my cock. Her tongue was wet, my brain was fuzzy, but I needed this. I needed her.

I lifted her higher, her legs going right around my waist. She sucked my tongue into her mouth, and I lowered my hands to her ass, squeezing. The skirt she wore rode up higher and higher as she writhed against me, until nothing but her panties pressed against my jeans. She shivered as I rocked her pussy up and down against my cock.

Hot. Tight. Warm. That’s exactly how I imagined she’d be if I sank inside her.

She tipped her head back, bumping it against the wood. Her breathing was frantic, her chest rising and falling in time with my own. I lowered my mouth to her neck, kissing and sucking her skin. She tasted clean, fresh, and I groaned low in my throat, wanting nothing more than to bite her, mark her. Make her mine for just one night.

“Collin,” she whispered, her body trembling as she moved. I rocked her harder against me, sure I was going to come from the friction of the movement alone.

“Please,” she cried out, dry humping my cock like it was all she’d ever need again. And if this was the last woman I ever made come, I’d damn sure not regret it.

“Ain’t gonna stop. Wanna make you feel good.”

I’d been an ass all night to the girl. The least I could do was get her off…and enjoy myself at the same time.

She leaned forward, whimpering as she buried her forehead against my neck. I shut my eyes, blocking out everything around us and inhaling her hair, a smell I’d never forget.

Sweat dripped down my temples as I guided her up and down my length. My hands, as greedy as my lips, now digging tighter into her ass over her skimpy panties.

“Jesus. Addie.”

She shuddered at my words, moving faster, softly crying through what I knew was a quick release.

Damn, did I love that sound. Hadn’t realized how much I missed it until it came from her. And I wanted to hear it again, until she cried out my name next time, loud as hell so the world would know I’d been the one to do this to her. For her.

But then her breathing slowed and she kissed my neck, the sensation light and soft. Too intimate. Too much.

And that’s when the high came crashing down, hitting me as hard as a truck.

I’d just dry-fucked my daughter’s new nanny against the front door.

And I liked it.

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Author Information:

heather-van-fleet_headshot

Contemporary romance author Heather Van Fleet is stay-at-home-mom turned book boyfriend connoisseur. She’s a wife to her high school sweetheart, a mom to three little girls, and in her spare time you can find her with her head buried in her Kindle, guzzling down copious amounts of coffee. Heather was born and raised in Moline, Illinois, where she lives with her wonderful family. 

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