Friday, October 20, 2017

Book Review and Giveaway for Ruthless King by Meghan March


RUTHLESS KING
by MEGHAN MARCH

New Orleans belongs to me.

You don’t know my name, but I control everything you see—and all the things you don’t.

My reach knows no bounds, and my demands are always met.

I didn’t need to loan money to a failing family distillery, but it amuses me to have them in my debt.

To have her in my debt.

She doesn’t know she caught my attention.

She should’ve been more careful.

I’m going to own her. Consume her. Maybe even keep her.

It’s time to collect what I’m owed.

Keira Kilgore, you’re now the property of Lachlan Mount.


REVIEW: 4 STARS
"How such a cruel man can be so brutally beautiful, I have no idea."

For such a spoiler-free synopsis that we were just given, this book had SO MUCH MORE to it!! Wow. I haven't read many Meghan March books, but I have enjoyed the few I have read. This one was no different. I went in knowing it's a trilogy, so that also makes me super critical on some things because I feel like there is more to justify sometimes in the aspect of content to make the length worthy. Does that make sense? I hope so. I basically mean that I hope it's not a bunch of unnecessary drama, added riff-raff to fill pages. Thankfully, this one didn't have ANY of that. This first book was a great starter to this series. In fact, I would almost venture to say it went a little quicker than I thought it would for being a trilogy because if she covered that much in this one book, then I can only imagine what is in the next two.

I want to try and explain that I felt there was a fear driven curiosity in the heroine, Keira. She has a very "fiery" strength about her, but she also has some unexplored inhibitions. So contradictory to me, and really enjoyed seeing that side of her. I loved that she fought the very obvious desires she was having for Mount, and it was a legit crazy idea to her. For me too, but I'm on the outside looking in. She has some seriously different layers to her, and I don't think we have uncovered her true depth just yet. I want to explore her more, and being the first book in the series, that need to know was definitely procured by Meghan's writing. Her writing allowed me to go along on this journey, plausible or not, and actually get caught up in that. This is the kind of writing I enjoy....the kind that can make me believe in the storyline.

As for Lachlan Mount, for all the evil that he is, he is sexy. Yep, I said it....he's sexay. And let me tell you, the intrigue is all there. For all the things money can buy, the power that money can bring, this city, this life is Mount's playground. He has a new toy to do with as he pleases, and he will do exactly that. I loved the "no fucks given" attitude he displayed. For a man who fears no one, answers to no one, and gets everything he desires handed to him without question, what was the problem grabbing this new plaything and did as he wished? He has everything at his disposal and acts the part. But there is another side to him that we get to see and I think I am in love with it. I think. I'll get back to you on that. HA!!

"There's fucking with someone's head, and there's what Mount is doing to me."

These two characters are caught in the crosshairs of danger and lust. Between the both of them, there are some internal riotous behaviors making themselves known. I am super interested to see how this all plays out.

Was this a mind altering, amazingly busy, crazy action-packed book? Nope. It was more like a "dating show" meets the "situation room" in the aspect that we got to know each supporting character, their backgrounds and their lifestyle. March laid it out there and made it a very easy-to-turn-the-pages kind of book. I mean, to be honest, it read a lot quicker than I expected it to, and it flowed really well for me, which made enjoying it that much easier. It had some elements that felt a little awkward to me, but nothing that turned me off from the book. It wasn't a bad awkward at all, it was more of an intriguing awkward. It spawned questions in my mind, made me pay attention to the little details, and to start to form opinions about the side we don't get to see just yet.

Here's the way I see it, after a long week and some heavy reads, this one was a great read and for once, something that was a little out of the box for me, What I am about to say is ridiculous: I. Want. More. Ok? I want more. For the start of a head to head, wits to wits battle, this was a great beginning book. Meghan March's writing kept me IN the book the entire time. This really was a great introduction to a new series and I am thoroughly intrigued as to how it will all play out. I want more because I need to know how that cliffie happened!!! 

"It's humiliating that I find so much pleasure in what he does to me."
~BEE

PURCHASE:
~MEET MEGHAN MARCH~
Meghan March has been known to wear camo face paint and tromp around in woods wearing mud-covered boots, all while sporting a perfect manicure. She's also impulsive, easily entertained, and absolutely unapologetic about the fact that she loves to read and write smut. Her past lives include slinging auto parts, selling lingerie, making custom jewelry, and practicing corporate law. Writing books about dirty talking alpha males and the strong, sassy women who bring them to their knees is by far the most fabulous job she's ever had. She loves hearing from her readers at meghanmarchbooks@gmail.com.

~CONNECT WITH MEGHAN~

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ARC REVIEW

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Excerpt for Trading Yesterday by Kahlen Aymes


EXCERPT

Chase

Six years since I left her. Six fucking years. 

It seemed like I had no choice at the time; like it was the start of a dream, not the beginning of a nightmare. It was the biggest mistake of my life.

The offer from the English Arsenal Football Club was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I couldn’t pass up, no matter how much it ripped me apart to leave Teagan behind. Our plan was for her to finish college then come over there, too. It never happened. 

Somehow, it all got fucked up. Royally fucked up. I spent years trying to figure out why it happened without finding any logical answers and then, I was determined to forget about her. I threw myself into the game, booze, and numerous women, but nothing helped most of the time. If I were honest, the pain never really went away and I felt the loss every goddamned day. I knew I never should have left, and that only made it worse. It was Teagan, and not soccer, who was my once-in-a-lifetime everything, but I thought we were madly in love and I completely trusted that we’d make it through it… I completely trusted her. We knew it would be a difficult couple of years, but I had no reason to doubt that things wouldn’t go as planned. I thought we were invincible. Yet, not six months after I left, she married my best friend behind my back. 

Some best friend. Anger cut through me like a red-hot knife and settled in to sear my gut and tighten my chest. There was no one I hated more.

My heart ached whenever I allowed myself to think about it. She called and tried to explain once, but I didn’t want to hear it. No words could justify it. I felt betrayed; too devastated to find the will to function, let alone listen. Looking at her would have sliced me open to bleed out right in front of her, and after a betrayal like that, I’d be damned if I’d let her see me suffer. 

Jensen tried to talk to me, too, but I was afraid if I saw him, one of us would die. What did it fucking matter anyway? There was no reason that could make it better, more believable, or easier to accept. I’d closed down, focused on the team, and stopped corresponding with either of them. It was the only way to breathe. 

My eyes burned and my throat tightened. After all this time, it was still killing me. So often, I ached to call her, my soul crying out for hers, my mind railing that it was all a bad dream and if I could only hear that sweet voice, my reality would be righted. Over time, I realized keeping as busy as possible was the only thing to keep the memories from eating me alive. I was lucky that most of the places I played, and in London, I had zero memories of Teagan to haunt me, but Arsenal and its world-class program wasn’t worth it. A huge career and being one of the top ten soccer players in the world meant nothing. Nothing was worth losing Teagan, but I’d made a life for myself despite her. In spite of her. 

Somehow, I moved on. I breathed in and out. I waited, prayed for, and crawled toward the day when it wouldn’t hurt. I was still crawling on the inside, but I’d learned how to camouflage it so no one could see it anymore. I was sure part of me was dead inside. 

My parents and siblings knew not to mention her after the first few attempts. The rage and drinking binges that resulted had finally kept them quiet. Kat looked at me with a sort of incredible sorrow, and even Kevin stopped badgering me. 

“Just leave it alone, Kev! I can’t fucking stand thinking about what she’s doing with Jensen. Nothing will justify it! If Jensen was bleeding out in the street, the reason still wouldn’t be good enough for her to be with him. It makes me fucking sick!” 

I’d flung my mother’s Ming vase at my brother and it barely missed his head; shattering in a million pieces against the wall behind him. He stood there stunned for a split second as my chest heaved and his image blurred behind a haze of fury and tears. Then, he rushed at me, tackling me to the ground. He beat the shit out of me, leaving me broken and crying her name, asking God why she wasn’t mine, begging for relief that never came, wishing I could die right there because I couldn’t see any other way to end the horrible pain. I didn’t know if I was hitting at Kevin or Teagan’s memory, but afterward, he dropped to his knees and held on to me as I fell apart. The whole family looked on in stunned shock, all of them powerless to help me. It was New Year’s Eve and I’d gotten drunk off my ass to try to forget. Everyone left me alone ever since. My mother never even mentioned that vase. She found it at a garage sale and it was probably fake, but she loved to pretend it was real, and I had destroyed it. One more thing I shouldn’t have done that piled on the guilt. I’d ruined my own fucking life by leaving and I had to live with it.

As time moved on the devastating pain eased little by little, and faded in to a dull, ever-present ache. I came home to the States less because being there surrounded me with Teagan’s essence, her memory, and people who knew her and might talk about her. Not knowing where she was, or anything about her, made it easier and possible to survive.

Now, I was in a plane on my way to Atlanta fucking Georgia, because of a few well-scripted words that came across my phone via text message.

Chase, Kat gave me your number. Don’t be mad. I need you. It’s an emergency. Please come ASAP. 

Teagan

I ran my hand through my hair. Kat. My mind screamed. My sister, Kathryn was tight lipped, telling me nothing beyond where I could find her. Apparently she’d kept in touch with Teagan all these years, and that enraged me. Goddamn traitor. 

“Hmmph!” I huffed in disgust. So much for blood being thicker than water. 

When I called Kathryn to confront her, all she’d say was that Teagan and Jensen had moved to Atlanta three years earlier when Jensen got a job with ESPN, and I’d have to wait for Teagan to explain the rest. He must not be very high on the ESPN food chain or I’d have known about his job there.

I didn’t understand why, but I was pissed at my sister. Why would Teagan leave her family…and mine, to live in a strange city with a man who was probably gone more than he was home? It made no sense. But then, none of her decisions made sense since I left. Not since she chose to marry someone else. 

The burning ache I’d thought I’d buried flared anew twenty-four hours earlier when her name appeared at the end of her message. I’d felt like a sledgehammer just flew at high velocity into my gut, and left me gasping as the air left my lungs. I could hear that voice saying the words on the screen, as if she were standing right next to me. My heart exploded and blood rushed to my face like liquid fire.

I’d thought nothing would separate us; not distance…not anyone, or anything. Ever. I was so in love I must have been blind to what was really going on behind my back. And yet, years later, all she had to do was crook her little finger and I was dragging my sorry ass halfway across the world without knowing why.

“Welcome to Atlanta, Georgia. We thank you for flying with us today. We know you have many choices for…” The mad rushing of blood in my ears muffled the flight attendant’s words. My skin vibrated as anticipation throbbed through me, and I mentally shook myself. I needed to get my shit together. I couldn’t allow Teagan to see how much this still mattered. I had to be cool, calm… blasé’. She couldn’t know how she’d destroyed me. I’d worked hard to build an aloof persona off the field, and a superstar one on it. When I started to stand out, the sports world shortened my name from Chase to Ace, and I embraced it.

As I gathered my carry on, I braced myself for what I would see in a few short minutes. Would Jensen be with her? Could I take that? I wasn’t sure. I rubbed my hand over the back of my neck in agitation and then held it out in front of me. I was visibly shaking, so I curled my fingers into a fist in an attempt to steady myself. I was a bad motherfucker, solid as a rock, on top of my game and in the best shape of my life, so why the hell was I shaking like a pussy? As I started to walk out of the plane, I willed myself to calm down. I settled a cold mask into place over my face, praying to God it would remain unmoved when I saw her.

The seconds pounded in my head as my footsteps closed the distance to the main terminal, heavy and suffocating. I struggled to fill my lungs with air; sure I’d lose my breath forever the minute I laid eyes on her. Would she be different? I wanted her to be unrecognizable… resistible… no longer the woman I fell in love with… no longer my Teagan. 

Please God… let me not give a shit. After everything I’d suffered, would that be so much to ask?

Somehow over the years, the bitterness and anger lessened and most of what I remembered was the intense love and longing. She haunted my dreams more times than I could count, and every time I woke up in a cold sweat missing her or wanting her, I wanted to scream.

I dug down deep for the anger I’d need to make it through the next couple of days. Two days was all I would subject myself to. Then I was gone and I’d put her in the past where she belonged. I had a game in Brasília on Saturday that I couldn’t miss and I was thankful for my contract.

What the hell am I doing here, anyway? I argued with myself. I should have used the game to skip it all together, but what if she was in trouble? My lips pressed together in anger. What the fuck did it matter to me? I shouldn’t care at all. I sighed heavily. Taking care of Teagan was Jensen’s fucking job now, not mine.

Against my will, I searched the countless faces, looking for those soft brown eyes that used to own my soul. I stopped in the middle of the terminal, as my phone buzzed in my pocket.

“Yeah?”

“Hey, lovie. I got your message,” Bronwyn said casually.

“I sent it twelve hours ago. Thanks for the prompt response.” Sarcasm dripped from my voice. She didn’t notice.

“So you’re in the U.S.? Ace, I mean… why?”

I was distracted as I kept searching for Teagan. “I thought you said you got my message. I told you that a friend needs me.”

“For what?” She sounded pissed, but then, “pissed” and “I don’t give a shit” were her two most prominent gears.

“I don’t know, Bronwyn. I’ll call you when I know more.”

“I’m going to bed, so don’t call until morning, hmm?” Her voice was bored and unconcerned; her whiny voice in her English accent was suddenly annoying as hell.

“The time difference is six hours, so hopefully I’ll be sleeping when you wake up. Remember, my body is on London time.”

“Oh, yeah. Well, then just call when you can. Good night, lovie.”

“Bye.” It annoyed the hell out of me when she called me that, and she knew it. I shoved the phone into my back pocket of my dark jeans, my mind immediately dismissing the woman on the phone. 

Where was Teagan? I scratched my stomach through the fine linen of my dark blue button down. I’d left it un-tucked, only taking time to change my pants and shove three changes of clothes and my running shoes into a small bag before rushing straight to the airport. I left the club immediately after speaking to Kat.

I was tired and impatient as I put my hands on my hips and turned, stopping dead when I saw her moving slowly in my direction, weaving through the crowds. She looked thinner and more fragile; her skin seemed more translucent against the darkness of her flowing hair, still as long and luxurious as I remembered. My breath caught in my throat at the sight, my heart thudding sickeningly in my chest as time rewound in an instant. I wanted it to stop beating. I didn’t care if it killed me or if I had to rip it from my chest; I just wanted it to fucking stop.

Her brown eyes were huge as she looked up into my face, still owning me as much as she ever had, as she closed the last few yards between us. The sadness surrounding her was so heavy I could almost taste it.

“Hello, Chase.” Her voice rocked through me. The same voice that still haunted my dreams on occasion.

My hand moved to my chest, seeking to ease the tightness that prevented me from speaking. I swallowed hard as I took in her smallness in jeans and summer top that left her shoulders and arms completely bare, except for the thin straps. The yellows and oranges in the floral print made her hair appear darker and emphasized the faint flush on her cheeks.

My arms ached to reach for her and drag her against my body. The pull was tangible and I could see the same battle flash across her beautiful features. She was still so goddamned beautiful.

“Teagan…” Her name fell from my lips unwillingly as emotions I’d tried to ignore, surfaced.

We stood there, staring at each other until finally, my left hand reached for her right one. Our fingers entwined as easily as if we’d never been apart, and her eyes filled with glistening tears and then two fat drops rolled down her cheeks. The years fell away as, unable to help myself; I pulled her to me, and gathering her close then turned my face into her hair. She still wore the same perfume… still felt perfect pressed close to me. My breath left my lungs. Her arms flew around my neck as I lifted her easily into my embrace as a deep sob broke from her chest. 

“Chase. Oh, God. Thank you. I honestly didn’t think you would come.”

My hand cupped the back of her head and protectiveness filled every cell in my body. No matter what happened, I couldn’t stand to see her in pain. “What is this about? Why now?” 


Something inside me snapped.

"Chase, I need you. Please, come."
Teagan's words screamed from the screen of my phone. My heart started pounding, I started to sweat and I felt like I might pass out as I was sucked into a vortex of emotions and memories I tried desperately to forget.

Teagan Tessler was the love of my life. My professional soccer career was a big part of the future we planned to have together, but an offer with Arsenal, one of England's premier soccer teams, sent me to London a year ahead of schedule. Just months after I left, Teagan betrayed me with my best friend without an explanation. I was completely and utterly destroyed.

Six years later, I can finally breathe again, and my professional and personal life is in a good place; now this. I have to be insane to even consider ripping open those old wounds, but whatever she needed, it had to be huge.

The truth of my feelings resonated: I should shut off the phone and forget her forever, but my traitorous heart told me to get on a plane, no questions asked.

One decision can ruin your life... Maybe another one can save it.

From USA Today bestselling author, Kahlen Aymes, Trading Yesterday is a sexy roller coaster or emotion, ultimate loss, desperate longing, betrayal and forgiveness that will restore your faith in unconditional love. You'll be left gasping for more! The Remembrance Trilogy readers will love this book.



PREORDER:





~MEET KAHLEN AYMES~
USA Today bestselling author, Kahlen Aymes, writes HOT romance in New Adult, Adult Contemporary, and Erotica genres. Her books bring to life strong and sassy heroines & swoon-worthy, panty dropping alpha males! She is a master at making her readers FEEL as if they are living within the pages.

Kahlen has been on several bestseller lists including Barnes & Noble, Amazon Top 100 Paid at #2, Smashwords, Publisher's Weekly, iBooks, and USA Today! She has won multiple awards for writing and has a BSBA in Marketing & Business Administration.

She is an avid reader, baker, roller skater and karaoke singing single mother of one daughter and two golden retrievers. 

When she isn't writing she loves interacting with her readers! 

Count on Kahlen to deliver strong, relatable characters, deep and detailed plots, and emotion overflow!

~CONNECT WITH KAHLEN~
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Excerpt for A Little Too Late by Staci Hart


Excerpt
Hannah

The first time I saw Charlie Parker, I didn’t see one thing at a time; I saw all of him. It was an assault on my senses, an overwhelming tide of awareness, and for a moment, the details came to me in flashes over what was probably only a few seconds but felt so much longer.

His hair was blond and gently mussed, his face long and nose elegant. I could smell him, clean and fresh with just a touch of spice I couldn’t place. I tipped my chin up—he was tall, taller than me, and I hovered just at six feet—and met his eyes, earthy and brown and so deep. So very deep.

And then he smiled.

He was handsome when he wasn’t smiling. He was stunning when he was.

I was so lost in that smile, I didn’t register the flying gob until it whapped against my sweater. Tiny splatters of something cold speckled my neck.

This was the moment the clock started again, and the sweet serenity slipped directly into chaos.

A blond little boy looked up at me from his father’s side with a devilish gleam in his dark eyes. The spoon in his hand was covered in blood-red jam and aimed at me like an empty catapult.

Several things happened at once. Charlie’s face morphed into embarrassed frustration as he reached for who I presumed to be his son. The boy—Sam, I guessed from the names I’d been given by the agency—spun around lightning fast and took off down the hallway, giggling. Another child began to cry from somewhere back in the house, and a bowl clattered to the ground, followed by a hissed swear from what sounded like an older woman.

I glanced down at the sliding, sticky mess against my white sweater and started to laugh.

Charlie’s head swiveled back to me, his face first colored with confusion, then in horror as he looked at the Pollock painting on my sweater.

“Oh my God,” he breathed, his apologetic, wide eyes dragging down my body.

“Jesus, I am so sorry.”

I was still laughing, almost a little hysterical. I couldn’t even tell you why.

I waved a hand at Charlie, and he took my elbow, guiding me into the house as I caught my breath. Another crash came from the kitchen, and a little girl came toddling out into the entry, leaving powdery footprints on the hardwood.

Charlie’s face screwed up. “Sam!” he called, stretching the word, a drawn-out promise of consequences.

A riot of giggling broke out in the kitchen.

We both snapped into motion. I followed him as he scooped up his crying daughter and stormed toward the kitchen. The little girl watched me over his shoulder with big brown eyes, her breath hitching in little shudders and her small finger hooked in her mouth.

Charlie stopped so abruptly, I almost ran into him.

When I looked around him and into the kitchen, my mouth opened. I covered it with my fingers as laughter bubbled up my throat.

A bag of flour sat in the middle of the floor, the white powder thrown in bursts against the surrounding surfaces and hanging in the air like smoke. The floor next to the bag was the only clean spot, shaped like a small bottom—the little girl’s, I supposed. A bowl lay upside down, its contents oozing from under the rim and slung in a ring from ceiling to cabinet to floor, as if it had completed a masterful flip on its way to its demise. And in the center of the madness stood an older woman with flour in her dark hair and dusted down the front of her.

Clutched under her arm was a wriggling Sam, offending spoon still in hand.

Her face was kind but tight with exasperation. “Please tell me this is the new nanny,” she said flatly.

“I doubt we could convince her to stay at this point,” he said with equal flatness.


A LITTLE TOO LATE
by STACI HART

I wasn't supposed to fall in love with the nanny.

When my wife left, she took the illusion of happiness with her, and I've been caught in a free fall ever since. For nine long months, I've been fighting to figure out how to be a single dad, how to be alone.

For nine long months, I've been failing.

When Hannah walked through the door, I took my first breath since I'd found myself on my own. She slipped into our lives effortlessly, showing me what I've been missing all these years. Because Hannah made me smile when I thought I'd packed the notion of happiness away with my wedding album.

She was only supposed to be the nanny, but she's so much more.

The day my wife left should have been the worst day of my life, but it wasn't. It was when Hannah walked away, taking my heart with her.



~MEET STACI HART~
Staci has been a lot of things up to this point in her life -- a graphic designer, an entrepreneur, a seamstress, a clothing and handbag designer, a waitress. Can't forget that. She's also been a mom, with three little girls who are sure to grow up to break a number of hearts. She's been a wife, though she's certainly not the cleanest, or the best cook. She's also super, duper fun at a party, especially if she's been drinking whiskey. 

From roots in Houston to a seven year stint in Southern California, Staci and her family ended up settling somewhere in between and equally north, in Denver. They are new enough that snow is still magical. When she's not writing, she's reading, sleeping, gaming, or designing graphics.

~CONNECT WITH STACI~

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Book Review and Giveaway for Crave Part 2 by Ek Blair

CRAVE
by EK BLAIR

Weeks became months, and months became years. Each day, nudged Kason deeper into his addiction. Each memory of the girl destroyed fed the craving for what he could never have again.

Leaving a life-altering first love behind, Adaline tried moving forward to find love and trust and happiness. Pain eventually faded, wounds slowly healed, yet scars were forever left behind.

But some scars feel like kisses.

When the shattered pieces of their hearts are forced to meet again, the two of them must decide how much pain their love is worth enduring.

This is what happens when one person loves beyond the craving and the other craves beyond the loving.


Review: 4.5 STARS
"Do you have any idea what it's like having to watch you slowly unlove me?"

This book seriously went full circle for me in the emotional department!!! If you read my REVIEW for CRAVE Part 1, you can see how messed up I was after waiting for the next installment. I was D-Y-I-N-G for the next book. This one did NOT fail to deliver on an epic tale of pain, fear, love and devotion. What an emotional rollercoaster!!! Heartbreaking, nerve-wracking, anxiety driven read....hold on tight.

I can probably count how many books have had me pacing while I was reading it, and now I have to add another one. Crave was already a different kind of read, but written with the same intensity and depth Ek Blair provided with her other books. I loved the pictures she painted with her words, and it made all the emotions jump off the page as if they were tangible. I was gasping as I read, covering my mouth in awe. I honestly couldn't wrap my mind around everything going on. Was the angst there? Yes? No? I'm not sure, but it was more of an anxiety inducing read to me, and it was definitely one that had me freaking out. I was an emotional basket-case while I read this one. Heartfelt emotion, intense drama, and questionable stability in the main characters had me turning the pages with a sense of urgency. One of my favorite parts was the the POV shift in this book. It was methodical, and led me to wonder about quite a few things as I took their journey through love and loss, fear and joy. But I have to say, this duet is my favorite from her. High praise, but most definitely warranted.

Sometimes we see in our head how we want a story to go. I do it -- I freely admit it. BUT, I don’t hold up my thoughts on the book if it takes a different route. After all, it's not my story to tell, right? It sure makes me pay closer attention to all the surrounding action and drama that is happening though. All in all, this book had me freaking out. I was on the edge of my seat or pacing as I read the entire thing. I was so anxious to get through it, but I couldn’t do it in one sitting!! I honestly couldn’t. Since the first book ended so abruptly with that cliffhanger that had me reeling, this one was the balm....after a lot of nail biting. This one picked up where that left off and we were in the deep dark recesses of Ady’s mind, and she was not doing too well.

"It's a pain so excruciating that you don't want to believe it exists. But it does, because I'm living within its cage." 

Oh my gosh, seriously. I have no idea how to explain the pain Ady was in, but I wanted to shake her out of it too. Ady was dragging herself down, and that made me so sad for her. She wallowed in such self pity, in the dankest pits of despair, and while I understood what Blair was doing with this....it almost grated on my nerves. But I couldn't allow that to affect my reading pleasure, because that was her pain, and I didn't have the right to quantify it. So, I sat by and read with a hurting heart while she tried to come to terms with her new reality.

I can appreciate when an author is willing to step outside of the box and go against the grain. That's exactly what Blair did with this duet; pushing the boundaries of a comfort level having to do with very young characters. Throughout the story, the characters were faced with an agonizing reality for decisions made in the past. I liked that this has the potential to rub some the wrong way, but there was always a reason for everything happening the way it did. I liked that it challenged me to see things from a different perspective and to think it through. I think this story played out rather well and Blair did this storyline some serious justice. I was a complete mess!! My anxiety was SO high while reading this, I kept messaging Ek while I was reading it, afraid to go on!! Again, it wasn't an angst that was gut-churning; it was more an anxiety that made me antsy and fidgety. I truly loved it!!!

The only part I didn't appreciate about this book was rectified by the time I got to the end. I know that is vague, but I can't tell you too much because of the epic twist she threw in there, but it made my heart DANCE!! I loved the twist so much, because it showed the heart's ability to switch course to detach and persevere. It is a rough one though....not for the faint of heart. I had to talk myself down a few times because again, what I saw happening and what actually happened were two totally different things, and I am so glad I got to take this journey. Such a wonderful love to witness. I loved this story and I cannot recommend it enough. With two shots of tequila.

"Maybe we were too perfect, an because of that, we were meant to be pierced by thorns."
~BEE



PURCHASE BOOK 1
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◆     ◆     ◆     ◆    ◆
~MEET EK BLAIR~
New York Times, USA Today, and International bestselling author, E.K. Blair, takes her readers on an emotional roller coaster with her books. A former first grade teacher with an imagination that runs wild. Daydreaming and zoning out is how she was often found in high school. Blair tends to drift towards everything dark and moody and has been noted as 'The Queen of Dark and Twisted'. Give her a character and she will take pleasure in breaking them down, digging into their core to find what lies underneath.

Aside from writing, E.K. Blair finds pleasure in music, drinking her Starbucks in peace, and spending time with her friends. She's a thinker, an artist, a wife, a mom, and everything in between.

~CONNECT WITH EK~

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ARC review

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Book Review and Giveaway for From This Moment by Melanie Harlow



It was like seeing a ghost.

When my late husband’s twin brother moves back to our small town, I want to avoid him. Everything about Wes reminds me of the man I lost and the life we’d planned together, and after eighteen long months struggling just to get out of bed, I’m finally doing okay. I have a new job, an amazing support group, and a beautiful five-year-old daughter to parent. I don’t want to go backward.

But I’m drawn to him, too. He understands my grief and anger and guilt like no one else—and I understand his. Before long, that understanding becomes desire, and that desire becomes uncontrollable.

He says he doesn't care what people think, and love can never be wrong. But life has taught me it cruelest lesson--love doesn't always win.

If only my heart would believe it.

REVIEW: 2 Stars

I hate doing this, but I am not going to have a popular opinion on this book. I will break it down, but I feel that I gave this book a fair shake and finished it. If anything, I love forbidden. I love the grittiness of it. The raw emotions that you feel because you are living this story with the characters, following them around trying to make sense of a situation that isn't always accepted. It's my favorite kind of trope, and I gravitate towards it. So naturally, once I heard about a woman falling for her dead husband's brother -- BAM! Yes!! Forbidden, sign me up! Alas....the story did not play out that well for me. I will attempt to explain why.

The writing. It was chaotic and completely disjointed for me. I felt like the story was being told to me, from an outside perspective looking in. I wasn't feeling any emotion or connection with the characters, and that always makes the read rather rough for me. It also felt like it was written in parts, and then pieced together, making for a choppy read. Extra words, timeline sequence issues, completely wrong words (skin instead of sink), etc., these all added to my frustration. Granted, I got an ARC and in that I know that I will always get some errors. It's a guarantee, and I am ok with that and it never affects my rating. But timelines issues should always be fleshed out before they go out to early readers/bloggers. 

The way this story was told was a little aggravating for me. For every action/drama sequence, a few paragraphs of questions and dragging monologue would follow. Like, can you just TELL the story instead of asking 20 questions? I didn't understand this process or why we were subjected to it throughout the entire story. It didn't make any sense to me. I like an emotional, well thought out story that takes me on a journey through a love that may not always seem easy. Progression, dialogue, action....suspense even. This one was written with an emotional disconnection, side characters with serious immaturity, and an action/question format that irritated me beyond belief. Don't ask me, please just tell me. 

The characters. 
Abby (daughter) was the cutest little bug, and I don't generally like kids in stories that play an integral part. 

Margot and Georgia/Pete and Jack (coworkers/friends) were so supportive and had such a good vibe to them. I really liked meeting them and how well they helped Hannah and Wes with their dilemma. They also gave Hannah an amazing job and I loved that it allowed her creative side to come out; it was good for her. These were my favorite characters in the book after Wes. NOTE TO MENTION, this is a secondary character's story so this book may spoil some of After We Fall

Hannah has NO backbone....not one. I can handle a sad/upset/distraught woman trying to pull herself out of the depths of despair after having lost her amazing husband that loved her unconditionally, and having some reservations about how she is doing raising her child. However, we had a worry-wart that had ZERO self confidence in anything having to do with LIFE and that made reading her character a drag. She questioned every breath she took...and that was really hard to empathize with, for me. I hate saying that because I know that if I were in her shoes, I can imagine I would be having a really hard time with life as well. But maybe the complete disconnect I felt in the writing contributed to my lack of emotion and understanding in that aspect. 

Wes was the best part about the story. He had a good head on his shoulders, and some very valid points. "Fuck what everyone thinks." YES!! Yes, that's it, Wes. That's exactly what you need to stick to and go with it. But again, for the love of all things holy, stop.questioning.every.single.thing.

Lenore (mother to Wes) was THE WORST mother in law ever. I know they have a bad name, and some deservedly so, but Lenore set the bar really high for emotionally abusive, overbearing, sticking-her-nose-where-it-didn't-belong mothering. Like, so over the top, I was rolling my eyes the entire time we were in her shoes while she bemoaned Wes and Hannah's relationship. It was horrible. I honestly hated her.

Dr. Parks/Doc is the reason Wes is so well adjusted. Lucky son. The ability to insert words of wisdom while maintaining a neutral zone for his wife was not a task taken lightly, I can imagine. And how in God's name did he stay married to Lenore for 40 years?? That man should be knighted for sainthood. 

Timeline issues: 
--> How was it 18 months that he has been gone, but she lost her husband when her daughter was 3....yet, she turned six in the story and they had only been hanging out a few weeks by that point?

--> They had sex, and A WEEK HAD LAPSED, yet he was going to talk to her about what happened LAST NIGHT (referring to the sex they had). That isn't really possible. From Labor Day (Monday) to Saturday night, getting drunk with his friends. It's not last night. It can't be.

--> We switched from her Wine with Widows Wednesday night where she was talking with Tess, to it being later in the week....but we switched without any break or informational segue helping us move along in the story. It was a really odd transition. I was quite confused how it all went, and I read and re-read it a few times, hoping it was supposed to be a flashback, but nothing indicated it was at all.

--> She was ON THE PHONE with Margot, but she turned around to 'look at her'? I'm not sure how that is possible.

--> And yet another abrupt transition from being ON the phone with Margot to it being days later. No goodbye, no hanging up the phone, nothing.....just life carried on. Again, it makes me feel that this book was pieced together.

--> Last but not least, she "picked up her water and touched it to Drew's champagne as the room erupted....". Uh, she was clinking Wes' glass. Not Drew, because he died. Remember?

After these instances, it was clear that I needed to stop paying close attention to the timeline on how things played out and just enjoy the story, because I was driving myself mad trying to put it all together and make sense of it. I also wonder about the use of beta readers and an editor. 

Overall:
I will, however, admit that the story itself was a good story. I liked the forbidden aspect of it and I liked the reality of the problems they could face in a small town full of gossip mongers. I get it, and that was one part I liked. I even enjoyed the seeming insta-love that many don't enjoy. I have always enjoyed those kinds of love stories with a good buildup, and 49% in, I sighed when these two characters were able to come together (pun intended). Hannah and Wes worked SO well together and I liked his backstory about his feelings for her. Sadly, this one had more bad than good for me. Would I recommend it? If you can look past the timeline issues, overlook weak characters, and enjoy immature drama coming from the mother/-in law, then I will easily recommend it. Otherwise....I feel that she didn't articulate this one well, and it fell short for me on most counts. I will be gifting a copy out still, because underneath it all, it was a good story.

~BEE


PURCHASE:






~MEET MELANIE HARLOW~
Melanie Harlow writes sexy, emotional romance about strong, stubborn characters who can’t help falling in love. She’s addicted to bacon, gin martinis, and summer reading on the screened-in porch. If she’s not buried in a book or binging on Netflix, you might find her running, putting a bun in someone’s hair, or driving to and from the dance studio. She lives outside Detroit with her husband and two daughters. 

Melanie is the USA Today bestselling author of the HAPPY CRAZY LOVE series, the FRENCHED seriesMAN CANDYAFTER WE FALLIF YOU WERE MINE, and the sexy historical SPEAK EASY duet, set in the 1920s.

~CONNECT WITH MELANIE~

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ARC REVIEW

Friday, October 13, 2017

EXCERPT for EXP1RE by Erin Noelle


PROLOGUE
Lyra

10.18.02
The intercom crackles loudly throughout the classroom, interrupting Ms. Sherman’s rather uninspiring Friday afternoon lesson on the life cycle of a star. Even though most of the students around me are furiously jotting down notes about nebulas, red giants, and supernovas, I’m half listening while I doodle caricatures of me and my friends in the margin of my notebook. It’s not that I’m not interested in the material she’s talking about. No, that’s not the case at all. It’s quite the opposite actually; science is my favorite subject, especially anything that deals with astronomy and the unknowns in our universe.

But with a dad who is a super-smart astronomer at Johnson Space Center—or NASA, as most people here in Houston call it—I learned about this stuff she’s teaching before I ever started kindergarten. Heck, just this past summer before fifth grade, Mama and I went to visit him at a planetarium in Hawaii, where he was part of a team that discovered eleven new moons orbiting Jupiter! If I don’t ace this test next week, I better not even go home. I definitely wouldn’t be able to be an astronaut then. 
“Ms. Sherman, can you please have Lyra Jennings gather her things and come down to the office? She’s leaving for the day,” the office lady who reminds me of Paula Deen—Mama’s favorite chef—announces through the ancient intercom system.

At the sound of my name, my chin jerks upward from my pencil sketches to the standard black-and-white classroom clock mounted above the projection screen. The hands read 12:45 p.m., nearly three hours before the end of the school day, when my parents are supposed to pick me up as we head out to Dallas for the weekend to celebrate my eleventh birthday. Ooh, maybe getting out of school early was my surprise they mentioned!

I’ve been looking forward to this day since we came home from this same trip last year, and I know my parents planned something special for this year. Every birthday, instead of having one of those silly kids’ parties with pointy hats and piñatas, they take me to the Texas State Fair. There, we spend the weekend riding as many rides as possible, stuffing our mouths with sausage-on-a-stick and fried Twinkies, playing games until we win the biggest of the stuffed animals, and laughing until our faces hurt and happy tears stream down our cheeks. Hands down, it’s my favorite three days of the year, even better than Christmas. And I really, really like Christmas.

Excitement jets through me as I stand up from my desk and hurriedly cram my spiral notebook and textbook into my purple paisley backpack. If we make it there early, I’ll be able to go swimming at the fancy hotel’s indoor pool before dinner.

“Sure thing,” my teacher calls out in response. “She’ll be right down.”

Hoisting the strap of the bag up on my shoulder, I turn to leave the room and my gaze meets Ms. Sherman’s. Her warmth shines in her bright amber-colored eyes, highlighting the numbers 051123 that I see imprinted in her pupils. The same six white numbers I see every time we make eye contact. The numbers I’m not allowed to talk about. The ones everyone thinks are all a part of my healthy imagination.

But they’re wrong. They’re all wrong.

The numbers are real, and they never change or go away. I only wish I knew what they meant. Mama and Daddy—who, by the way, are the only two people I know that have the same numbers—call it my special superpower, but I know they just pretend to believe me. I see the looks they share when they think I’m not watching. They don’t want me to think about all those things the doctors say about me. I may only be ten years old, but I’m 100% sure I’m not crazy, nor do I lie for attention. I’m an only child, for Pete’s sake; my parents are overly interested in my life. Though I do appreciate their support, even if they don’t understand.

“Have a nice weekend, Lyra. Don’t forget we have a test over CHAPTERs six through eight on Monday. Make sure you’ve read all the material,” she reminds me.

“Yes, ma’am. I’ll be ready,” I reply modestly, not sharing with her or the rest of the class I’ve already read through CHAPTER thirteen in the text, including answering the study guide questions at the end of each section. I may be an overachiever, but I’m not a brown-noser.

Luckily, school just comes easy for me, and my parents get over-Jupiter’s-moons proud when I bring home straight A’s on my report card. It reassures them that I’m normal and well adjusted. At least that’s what I heard Mama whispering to Daddy on the phone one night when she thought I wasn’t listening.

I mouth a quick goodbye to my best friend, Beth, who I pass by as I scuttle toward the exit. With her last name being Blackmon and mine being Jennings, we rarely get to sit near each other, as most of our teachers put us in alphabetical order. Beth’s numbers are 022754, and like Ms. Sherman’s, they light up vibrantly when she looks up at me and mouths the words Have fun before I slip out the door.
I never want to break the rules or get in trouble, so I somehow fight the urge to sprint down the deserted hallway and force myself to walk as fast as my long, skinny legs will let me. The swishing sound from my denim shorts rubbing together fills my ears, creating a soundtrack for my excitement. My cheeks ache from smiling so big while I drop off my folders and books in my locker then make a beeline to the front of the school, where my parents are waiting for me. This is going to be the best of the best weekends ever, one that none of us will ever forget. I just know it.

Only, when I swing open the glass door to the main office, expecting to see my favorite two people in the world, I’m surprised to find my Aunt Kathy standing there, her face puffy and pink, the corners of her mouth pointing due south. Our eyes meet, and I can barely see her numbers—123148—because of how swollen the lids are around them.

The fluffy white cloud of elation I floated in on disappears instantly as a dark fog of dread takes its place. Engulfing me. Swallowing me whole. She doesn’t have to say a word—I already know. Not how or when or where it happened, but deep in my bones, I know.

I was right. This will definitely be a weekend I’ll never forget, only it will be for reasons I’ll never want to remember.

“I’m so sorry, Lyra baby girl,” she cries. “I’m so sorry. They’re… they’re gone.” 
gone.

Gone.

GONE.

The word bounces around between my ears, getting louder each time it echoes. The first time, it freezes my movements. The second steals all the air from my lungs. By the third time, I’m pretty sure I have no pulse. I want to go, too.

Go.

Going.

GONE.

With my feet stuck to the floor and my body stiff as a statue, Aunt Kathy rushes over to me and wraps her arms around my shoulders. Pulling me up against her chest as uncontainable sobs shake her body, she breaks down in front of the receptionist and attendance clerk, neither of who bother to hide their open staring. Numb, I stand completely still while she wails for several minutes, and I never once make a single sound or try to break free from the death grip she has on me. My thoughts race so fast they’re standing still.

I’m just… here. And my parents just… aren’t. And they won’t ever be again.

They’re… gone.

Climbing into the passenger seat of Aunt Kathy’s fancy sports car—a car I usually beg to ride in because there’s no backseat—I fasten my safety belt and then close my eyes as I lean my head back on the black leather, warm from the hot southern Texas sun. Even though it’s mid-October, I’m still wearing shorts and sandals, and just last weekend I went swimming at Beth’s house. But as I sit here and wait for my aunt to start the car, my teeth chatter loudly and my entire body trembles uncontrollably. My heart is frozen solid, but I’ve yet to shed a tear.

The phone rings and I jump, automatically looking at the caller ID on the screen, thinking… hoping… praying it’s someone calling to let us know this has all been a big mistake, that my parents are really okay.

“Hey, Mom,” Aunt Kathy answers after just one ring. We still haven’t pulled out of the parking space. “Yeah, I have her now. She’s safe and sound.”

My heart plummets even lower into my stomach than it was before as she pauses to listen to Granny Gina on the other end. Granny Gina is my dad and Kathy’s mom who lives in New Orleans, where she moved about five years ago after my grandpa passed away from lung cancer. Since my mom’s parents both died before I was born, she’s the only living grandparent I have, and luckily for me, she’s a pretty awesome one. But today, nothing is awesome. Not even close.

“I don’t know. She hasn’t said a word. I’m sure she’s in shock.” My aunt talks about me like I’m not sitting right here, as I finally feel the car jerk back in reverse.

Another pause. The car lurches forward into drive then we bounce hard as Aunt Kathy flies over a speed bump. I think I’m going to throw up.

“Okay, I’ll take her home so she can pack a suitcase of whatever she wants to bring, and then we’ll go to my place until you get here. You should be in about 5:00?”

Pack a suitcase of what I want to bring where? Where am I going? Why is this happening to me? I’m a good kid. I make good grades and I’m nice to people, even those people who everyone else makes fun of, and I listen to my parents and my teachers. What did I do to deserve this? Why me?

“Yeah, Mom, I know,” Aunt Kathy hiccups. She’s crying hard again. “I’ll take good care of her, and we’ll see you later. I love you.”

I keep my eyes screwed shut as she disconnects the call, scared she’ll want to talk if I open them. I don’t want to talk to her or Granny Gina or anyone but my parents. I want my mom and dad!
Thankfully, Aunt Kathy doesn’t try to talk to me as we drive, but when I feel the car come to a stop and hear the engine turn off, she gently taps my arm. “Lyra, sweetheart, we’re at your house. We’re going to go inside, and I need you to pack up a suitcase or two of the clothes and things you want to take to New Orleans. Whatever you need.”

“New Orleans?” My lids snap open and I whip my chin in her direction. I don’t even recognize my harsh, scratchy voice. “I’m going to New Orleans?”

“Yeah”—she nods sadly as she swipes at the black mascara streaks on her face with her thumbs—“with Granny Gina. After we take care of, uh, of everything here, you’ll go live with her there.”
Scowling, I cross my arms over my chest and grunt. “I don’t want to leave Houston, or my friends, or my school. Why can’t I stay here with you?”

“You know I travel with my job, Lyra. Sometimes I’m gone a week or two at a time, and there won’t be anybody here to stay with you. Granny Gina’s house has an extra bedroom, and since she doesn’t work, she’ll be able to better give you everything you need.”

What I need and will be better for me is my mom and dad. And my perfect birthday weekend at the fair.

She reaches out to attempt to soothe me with her touch, but I wrench away, banging my elbow on the car door in the process. The whack is loud, and the place I hit immediately turns red, but my brain doesn’t register the pain. I feel nothing. I’m broken.

I glance over at my aunt, and the tears spilling down her cheeks make me feel bad for acting the way I just did to her. What happened to my parents isn’t her fault, but I’m angry and this is all moving too fast. How am I supposed to pack up what I need in a couple of bags? I want to stay in my room, in my house, living with my parents.

“I know this is all unfair, baby,” she says through her sniffles, “and I can’t even to begin to understand what you’re thinking or feeling. I mean, I’m freaking the hell out and I’m a grownup who’s supposed to know how to handle these kinds of situations. All we can do is cling to each other as family and try to get through this together. Between me and Granny, we’ll do the best we can for you, and right now, we think the best thing is if you get your things and go stay with her.”
“How did they die?” I blurt out, completely off topic from what she’s talking about. My mind can’t stay focused on any one thing, but this is the question that keeps popping up. “I need to know how it happened.”

Swallowing hard, Aunt Kathy inhales a shaky breath through her nose and blows it out through her mouth, visibly trying to collect herself before she answers me. “It was a car accident,” she whispers after forever, barely loud enough for me to hear. “I don’t know why they were together in your mom’s car this morning or where they were going, but an eighteen-wheeler lost control and hit them. They were already gone by the time the first responders arrived.”

I nod, still unable to cry. I hear the words she’s saying, but they aren’t really registering. They make sense, but I don’t understand. It’s as if I’ve been swallowed up by one of the black holes Daddy taught me about and the darkness is sucking away my ability to think, to feel. All I hear is the word “gone” still replaying over and over and over.

“Okay. I’ll get my stuff,” I say flatly, finally opening the door and stepping out of the car.
My movements are robotic, and I can barely even feel the key in my hand as I unlock the front door to my house. Stepping inside, I’m overwhelmed by a combination of the sweet smell of my mom’s favorite vanilla cookie candle and the sight of my dad’s fuzzy slippers waiting by the coatrack—the slippers he puts on the minute he walks in the door from work every night. When I realize he’ll never wear those slippers again, nor will my mom ever be able to forget if she blew out the candle when we’re about to pull out of the driveway, an acute pain shoots through my chest and I stumble over to the staircase, grabbing the banister to keep my balance.

“I’m right here, Lyra,” Aunt Kathy murmurs from behind me as she slips her arm around my waist. “Let’s just get your things and head over to my place. Later, once we’ve had some time to deal with everything, we can come back to go through the house and all the stuff… if you want.”

Another nod and I let her guide me up the stairs to my room. I want to scream at her that there will never be enough time to deal with losing my parents, that I’ll never be able to go through their things, but I keep my lips pressed together and do as I’m told.

“Where do you guys keep your suitcases?” she asks, glancing around my room as if she’s doing an inventory of what I have. “I’ll go grab a couple while you start pulling out what you want to take. If you forget something, it’s no big deal, because you and Granny are going to be staying at my place for the next few days. I can just bring you back to get it, or I can even ship it to Louisiana if you remember once you’re there.”

“They’re in the storage cabinets in the garage,” I answer while walking over to my desk, my eyes locked in on a framed photo of me and my parents that sits next to my laptop.

“Okay, I’ll be right back.”

The thud of her heels on the hardwood floor grows quiet as she makes her way back down to the first floor, and just as I grab the picture and plop down on the chair, I hear her open the door to the garage. A few much-needed minutes by myself.

I gaze down at the photograph of the three of us from a day at the beach, me sandwiched between their cheerful, carefree expressions, and the first tear finally escapes. Once the dam breaks, I can’t stop the flow, and as I trace my finger over the outline of each of my parents’ faces, I cry for everything I’ll never have again. A supernova of tears.

Faces I’ll never see smile again.

Voices I’ll never hear say my name again.

Arms I’ll never be hugged by again.

A never-ending galaxy of love that I’ll never feel again.

It’s all just… gone.

After several minutes of vision-blurring bawling, I set the picture frame back upright on my desk. A hot pink heart drawn on my calendar with the words Birthday Weekend Begins written over today’s box catches my attention. I then notice the printed numbers next to my bubbly handwriting that read 10-18-02.

Snatching the picture up again, I stare directly into first my dad’s eyes, and then my mom’s. The numbers I see when I look people directly in the eyes only happens when I’m face-to-face with someone, never in photographs or through a screen or mirror. But even though I can’t actually see the numbers right now in the picture of my parents’ pupils, their numbers are forever etched in my brain from looking at them every day of my life. I used to think the reason they had the same numbers meant they were true soul mates, like God made them to match perfectly together, but now….
My gaze flicks over to today’s date of 10-18-02, then back to my parents’ faces, where I envision their numbers—101802.

My plummeting heart collides with my lurching stomach in an explosion of realization.

It’s my Big Bang Moment.


EXP1RE
by ERIN NOELLE

Numbers. 

They haunt me. I can't look into a person's eyes without seeing the six-digit date of their death.

I’m helpless to change it, no matter how hard I try. 

I’ve trained myself to look down. Away. Anywhere but at their eyes.

My camera is my escape. My salvation. Through its lens, I see only beauty and life—not death and despair. 

Disconnected from all those around me, I’m content being alone, simply existing.

Until I meet him.
Tavian.
The man beyond the numbers. 

How can I stay away, when everything about him draws me in?

But how can I fall in love, knowing exactly when it will expire?


◆     ◆     ◆     ◆     ◆     

~MEET ERIN NOELLE~
Erin Noelle is a Texas native, where she lives with her husband and two young daughters. While earning her degree in History, she rediscovered her love for reading that was first instilled by her grandmother when she was a young child. A lover of happily-ever-afters, both historical and current, Erin is an avid reader of all romance novels. In 2013, she published the Book Boyfriend Series, which included books Metamorphosis, Ambrosia, and Euphoria. Her books have been a part of the USA Today Bestselling list and/ or the Amazon and Barnes & Noble overall Top 100.

~CONNECT WITH ERIN~

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ARC review

Check out Erin's books HERE.