Thursday, September 29, 2016

Book Review: A Dom Is Forever by Lexi Blake

Author: Lexi Blake
Series: Masters and Mercenaries #3
Audience: +18
Genre: Erotic Romance, Contemporary Romance
Publisher: DLZ Entertainment, LLC
Release Date: November 10th 2012
My Rating: 5 cups
Source: InkSlinger PR
Blurb (from Goodreads):
A Man with a Past…

Liam O’Donnell fled his native Ireland years ago after one of his missions ended in tragedy and he is accused of killing several of his fellow agents. Shrouded in mystery, Liam can’t remember that fateful night. He came to the United States in disgrace, seeking redemption for crimes he may or may not have committed. But the hunt for an international terrorist leads him to London and right back into the world he left behind.

A Woman Looking for a Future…

Avery Charles followed her boss to London, eager to help the philanthropist with his many charities. When she meets a mysterious man who promises to show her London’s fetish scene, she can’t help but indulge in her darkest fantasies. Liam becomes her Dom, her protector, her lover. She opens her heart and her home to him, only to discover he’s a man on a mission and she’s just a means to an end.

When Avery’s boss leads them to the traitorous Mr. Black, Liam must put together the puzzle of his past or Avery might not have a future…

*Disclaimer: I received an e-copy of this book from InkSlinger PR in exchange for an honest review. This does not influence my opinion or my rating of the book in any way.

The third installment in the Masters and Mercenaries series is probably my favorite so far. I love how it seems that this book and the first book in the series sort of help complete a puzzle, a puzzle that isn't entirely focused on Liam and Avery.

I enjoyed reading about Liam falling in love, especially since he was the most likely to make fun of his male friends for doing that exact thing. But I also liked reading about his back story, and figure out why he got to be the one used for this mission. He was an interesting choice of hero, so discovering why he was the guy for this particular job was really intriguing.

I loved Avery. I really respected her, because even though she went through what she did, she's trying to keep living and to live a normal life, which is honestly my favorite thing about her. She has a bad relationship with her in-laws, and when I learned why, I wanted to punch a wall, because she does not deserve the hate, man. She just doesn't.

One of the interesting aspects of this book was the villain. I have to hand it to Lexi Blake, she knows just how to write a good villain. They're not just bad, or scary evil, but they're also really deranged. The thing I love most about her villains though is that you can slowly see how their minds are deteriorating, if it makes sense. Like, the more they give in to their evilness, the more they lose sanity, and I love that. Mr. Black makes an appearance, and I keep wondering what his endgame is, when will he lose his mind, but he seems just as cold and calculating and sane as he was in the beginning.

Another really cool aspect of this book is that we get to learn more about Ian. Ian is Sean's older brother, and the boss of everyone, basically. We learn more about Ian, but I still have so many questions. I saw that he got his story told, so I'm super excited to read it, because I need to find out exactly how he got started with all of this, how he put the team together.

The ending of the book revealed that the next in line to get their HEA are Alex and Eve, and I couldn't be happier for them. I will definitely check it out, as well as the other books in the series. If you guys haven't checked this series out yet, you definitely should.

Rocked my world photo Image9.png

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Comic Book Tuesday #17: Monstress #6 by Marjorie M. Liu

Author: Marjorie M. Liu
Series: Monstress (Single Issues) #6
Genre: Comic Book, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: May 25th 2016
My Rating: 5 cups
Source: Netgalley
Blurb (from Goodreads):
Maika and her friends face betrayal and death, and only the monster inside — and her growing relationship with it — can save them. MONSTRESS will return in August.

*Disclaimer: I received an e-copy of this book from Netgalley and Image Comics in exchange for an honest review. This does not influence my opinion or my rating of the book in any way.

This might be my favorite installments out of the first 6 of this story.

We get to see Maika in a very different position here. She's forced to work with the monster inside her to get away from certain people, and I love that. I also loved seeing how this ancient monster, that is trying to escape, starts to look less scary than I initially saw it. The monster also sheds some light into what it is, what it wants.

Again, we get to see a little bit more of Maika's past, in a different way than the past issue, with this monstrous creature exploring her memories. Very interesting way of learning what Maika actually knows, especially concerning some of the revelations about her and her family from the previous issue.

I'm still not sure what Lord Corvin, a.k.a "the stranger", wants. It seems that he's changing his mind about what to do quite a lot. I'm also not sure is he can be trusted.

The ending, although I kind of expected it, was still rather surprising. It was foreshadowed from the fifth issue, but I still wanted it to be just my imagination. I feel like this changes the rules of the game a little bit for Maika, especially because in that case I'm not sure if some other characters can be trusted as well, or if they're also hiding stuff.

I cannot wait for the next issue, to see what happens next with Maika, Kippa, Ren and the rest of the characters.

Rocked my world photo Image9.png

Top Ten Tuesday #10: Books On My Fall TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Fall is here, and I am going to be honest with you, I am confused. Should I be happy? Should I be sad? I'm happy because all of the bugs are slowly going away, but I'm sad because that means no more lazy days at the beach. Unless I want to become a human popsicle, and I am so not in the mood for that! I'm still recovering from my first cold of the season. Yep, I'm that pathetic, guys, that the first hint of colder weather did me in. *long sigh*

Anyway, this also means I get to be my old lazy self on weekends and surround myself with fluffy pillows, a cozy blanket, a hot cup of tea and read. And since I'm starting to get to the bottom of my ARC TBR (never thought I'd see the day, honestly), I've decided to start reading some of the books I have lying around on my shelves. Here are 10 books I can't wait to read this fall:

  • Outlander by Diana Gabaldon - The more people talk about this book and the TV show, the more excited I am to read it. Which is weird, considering I'm not a fan of time travel stories, but I am hoping this one is as good as people make it to be. Plus, the Romanian cover is super gorgeous:

  • Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella - I'm a huge fan of Kinsella's stand alone books, and I'm curious to see what funny adventures she's writing about in this book.
  • Unfinished Tales by J.R.R. Tolkien - Every time there's a new book full of stories about Middle Earth, I get all giddy and excited. I'm super excited about reading this one.
  • Legacy by Hannah Fielding - I just got this book in the mail and I'm so excited about it. Although it's the third book in the series, and I haven't yet read the previous two books, I will definitely be reading this one pretty soon.
  • The Becoming by Jeanne C. Stein - A book about vampires, by an author I haven't heard of before. I'm in the mood for more vampires.
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • The Martian by Andy Weir
  • Unrivaled by Alyson Noel
  • Ruin & Rising by Leigh Bardugo - I want to know if any of my crazy theories that have Meredith (Pandora's Books) laughing like a loon are true of it they're complete nonsense.
  • The Pelican Brief by John Grisham - One of my favorite movie thrillers ever is based on this book. And everyone seems to love his books, so I'm curious. I also borrowed The Firm and A Time To Kill from my grandmother, and I plan on reading them too, soon.
What about you guys? What are you planning on reading this fall?

Monday, September 26, 2016

Book Review: The Men With The Golden Cuffs by Lexi Blake

Author: Lexi Blake
Series: Masters and Mercenaries #2
Audience: +18
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Erotic Romance
Publisher: Dlz Entertainment
Release Date: May 26th 2012
My Rating: 5 cups
Source: InkSlinger PR
Blurb (from Goodreads):
A woman in danger…

Serena Blake is a bestselling author of erotic fiction. She knows how to write a happy ending but hasn’t managed to find one of her own. Divorced and alone, she has no one to turn to when a stalker begins to threaten her life. The cops don’t believe her. Her ex-husband thinks she’s making the whole story up. She has no one left to turn to except a pair of hired bodyguards. They promise to guard her body, but no one can protect her heart.

Two men in search of love…

Adam Miles and Jacob Dean are halves of a whole. They’ve spent their entire adult lives searching for the one woman who can handle them both. Adam is the playful, indulgent lover, while Jacob is the possessive, loving Dom. When Serena comes into their lives, Adam is certain that she’s the one. But Jacob’s past comes back to haunt them all. He is suspicious of Serena’s story, and his concerns are driving a wedge between him and Adam. But when the stalker strikes, they will have to come together or lose each other forever…

*Disclaimer: I received an e-copy of this book from InkSlinger PR in exchange for an honest review. This does not influence my opinion or my rating of the book in any way.

The Men With The Golden Cuffs picks up right where the previous book in the series left off. I love that, because it reminds me of a TV show, with each book being a new "season" in the series. It also kind of helps tie the books together really well, as well as keep you on your toes, because that means you know that at the end of the book, you'll get a tiny hint of what's to come in the next book.

I loved Serena. She's really strong, and she found it in herself to follow a dream she had, despite her asshole of a husband. I would love it if the disdain she encounters for being an erotic romance author was pure fiction, but I fear it's really real. So it was really interesting, as a reader, to read about what some authors might go through. Because most people focus on the prejudice and mean comments that romance readers receive, but not on what authors have to face. So I really loved that aspect of her story, even though it made me really angry for her too. So I think she's really strong for following her dream, but also for keeping her head high and not letting jealous, petty people get her down, or make her feel inferior.

Adam and Jake are awesome. They complete each other in such a great way, like only really good friends can. Adam is the fun, easy-going one, while Jake is the more serious one. At the same time, Adam is the wait-and-see kind of guy, while Jake sometimes lets his emotions influence his judgement, especially when he's angry or he feels betrayed. I love Adam's fashion sense.  And I love his humor, his sarcasm. I would, honestly, fall for the two of them as well, because they each bring the best out in the other one. Jake kind of helps Adam reign in his impulses, while Adam helps Jake be more playful and more daring. They're also really loyal, but where Adam is a guy full of hope, no matter what happens to him, Jake seems a bit jaded, which made me sad.

As with the previous book in the series, the pacing is really good. I enjoyed the villain in this book. I kind of saw it coming, not every single detail about this particular villain, but about half of it. What I most enjoyed about it is the twisted, perverse nature that this villain had. It takes dedication for doing what poor Serena had to go through, and I really liked reading about it. It all felt very real, the escalating nature of this person's evilness.

I also liked finding out who's next in the series to get his story told, especially after certain scenes from this book. Like I said in my review for the first book in the series, I'm hooked on this series, and each book that I read makes me love the series more and more.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Book Review: The Dom Who Loved Me by Lexi Blake

Author: Lexi Blake
Series: Masters and Mercenaries #1
Audience: +18
Genre: Erotic Romance, Contemporary Romance
Publisher: DLZ Entertainment LLC
Release Date: September 25th 2011
My Rating: 4 cups
Source: InkSlinger PR
Blurb (from Goodreads):
A routine mission…

Sean Taggart is hunting a deadly terrorist, and his only lead is the lovely Grace Hawthorne. She's the executive assistant for an employment agency Sean suspects is a front for illegal activities. To get the truth, he is going to have to get very close to Grace, a task he is all too eager to undertake when he discovers her deliciously submissive nature.

…turns into a dangerous seduction.

Soon, Grace Hawthorne is living a double life. By day, she is the widowed mother of two college-aged sons. By night, she submits to Sean's every dark desire. She's living out her wildest fantasies of pleasure—intimate acts of trust she's only read about. As passion engulfs her, a murderer strikes, and Grace learns that Sean has a deeply hidden agenda. Will Sean choose his mission and break her heart or be the Master of her dreams?

*Disclaimer: I received an ecopy of this book from Inkslinger PR in exchange for an honest review. This does not influence my opinion or my rating of the book in any way

I've had the Masters & Mercenaries series on my TBR for about 3 years or so. I was curious about it, and then a few months ago I got to read a novella in this world, that appeared in a 1001 Dark Nights bundle, and I've been even more determined to read this series ever since.

The first thing that comes to mind about this book is that it's not just about BDSM. I loved that there's a thriller side to the story, a more complex story line than just simple erotic romance. I also love that the focus was on how to capture the bad guy more than on who the bad guy was. There is a question whether Grace is involved or not, but other than that we know who the target is. Or so I thought, because at the end my certainty was basically destroyed.

Grace was a heroine that at times I loved, and at times frustrated me. I loved her because she seemed like a strong woman, one that is trying to live her life after the loss of her husband. But she frustrated me because I wanted her to get mad at Sean. I kept waiting for that moment when she'd yell, kick, curse, fight, anything that showed her anger. I wanted her to punch him. He kind of deserved it, so I fear that I felt more outraged than she did.

At the same time, the entire situation has a different meaning if seen from Sean's POV. He was doing a job, a job that he had to do, so I can't really fault him for following orders. It's probably one of the things that hooked me on this series, the fact that it shows the struggle of the men and women who, at one point or another, decide to join the Army or to become police officers and go undercover, in whatever country, and who receive certain orders that maybe is in a really gray area of what the rest of the people see as "moral". So I struggled with accepting the D/s aspect of their relationship just because of that very reason, because he was being dishonest, but at the same time he was the most honest version of himself as he could, without betraying his mission. The one thing that I didn't like was that he had this moment in the beginning of their relationship when he expected Grace to know what a submissive should and shouldn't do, just based on the books she read, even though she had no prior experience with this culture before. I felt like he exaggerated a little there, because just because you read about something, that doesn't make you an expert on that subject or on the rules of the game, so to speak. But other than that, I liked Sean.

The ending was pretty great, actually. I like that it leaves the door open for future mischief and struggles, and it's not a case of "the big bad of the book" only. Sure, there might be books where that is the case, as we'll see in the future, but with a few of the books there's a link that goes beyond some characters that pop in to remind the reader that they're in the picture too and that they had their stories told in the previous books.

I'm super happy I got to read this book and I'm definitely going to keep reading this series.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Book Review: Lure Of Obsession by Lisa Kessler

Author: Lisa Kessler
Series: The Muse Chronicles #1
Audience: +18
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: August 1st 2016
My Rating: 5 cups
Source: Netgalley
Blurb (from Goodreads):
The Prophecy - “Every generation the nine daughters of Zeus are reborn, and with their rebirth are also nine Guardians. They will be marked by the gods, and given gifts to protect his treasure. Their abilities will only be unlocked when they find their muse.”

Melanie Jacoby teaches English at Crystal City High School. She’s also the reborn Muse of Tragic Poetry, but she isn’t prepared for the tragedy of finding her roommate dead at the bottom of the stairs.

Nate Malone is the detective assigned to the case, but as the evidence points to an accidental fall, the visions begin. He sees a killer in a gold Kronos mask.

Mel is the next target.

The Order of the Titans are eager to bring about the return of the Golden Age of Man, and they’re prepared to kill the Muses to complete their mission. But Nate’s desire to protect Mel is almost as strong as his hunger for her.

And tragedy isn’t part of his plan.

*Disclaimer: I received an eARC from Netgalley and Lisa Kessler in exchange for an honest review. This does not influence my rating or my opinion of the book in any way.

My search for new voices in the paranormal/urban fantasy genre has made me stumble upon Lisa Kessler's book, Lure Of Obsession. I was very excited about the book, because it seemed like it had a fresh feel about it, and I am very happy that I wasn't wrong.

This new series focuses on Muses. As someone who loves urban fantasy, this is such a great change, because I don't think the Muses have been used in fiction all that much. I'm also really happy to see how the idea of the Muses is used in this book. I'm also really curious to see if the other creatures in the Ancient Greek mythology will also play some tiny part in the future books.

Mel is a really great heroine. I loved seeing how her human side battled with her Muse, how that influenced her life in general. I also liked how she tries to not let her Muse take over her thoughts sometimes, how she's trying to not be overcome by doubts and by seeing everything through a negative lens. I also loved seeing her in her teaching role. She's an amazing teacher and I loved how she managed to find ways to support her students, but also to help them find ways to heal themselves or express themselves through art, through poetry.

Nate was a pretty intense hero. He's a dedicated guy, and I liked how, although he was kind of freaked out by his visions, he did his job. He's also a sweetheart with Maggie, a little girl that broke my heart. I loved seeing his softer side, and I hope we get to see more of Maggie.

I enjoyed the thriller/mystery aspect of the book. The pacing of the book was good, and it was interesting to see how the tension of some of the chapters was broken apart by scenes from the villain's POV, but that also kind of made me sit on the edge of my seat, wanting to see what will happen with Mel and Nate, and the rest of the gang.

I loved this book and I'm curious to see what happens next, to learn more about the bad guys, about the history of the Muses in general.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Blog Tour Book Review & Excerpt: The Bookshop On The Corner by Jenny Colgan

Author: Jenny Colgan
Series: N/A
Audience: +18
Genre: Chick Lit, Contemporary
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: September 20th 2016
My Rating: 4 cups
Source: Edelweiss
Blurb (from Goodreads):
Nina Redmond is a literary matchmaker. Pairing a reader with that perfect book is her passion… and also her job. Or at least it was. Until yesterday, she was a librarian in the hectic city. But now the job she loved is no more.

Determined to make a new life for herself, Nina moves to a sleepy village many miles away. There she buys a van and transforms it into a bookmobile—a mobile bookshop that she drives from neighborhood to neighborhood, changing one life after another with the power of storytelling.

From helping her grumpy landlord deliver a lamb, to sharing picnics with a charming train conductor who serenades her with poetry, Nina discovers there’s plenty of adventure, magic, and soul in a place that’s beginning to feel like home… a place where she just might be able to write her own happy ending.

*Disclaimer: I received an eARC of this book from Edelweiss and Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review. This does not influence my opinion or my rating of the book in any way

This book was like a breath of fresh air, to be very honest. I will always be super excited to read a book about a book reader. But what surprised me the most was that this book is about much more than a character utterly in love with books, so much more.

Nina is what I view as the perfect librarian/bookshop worker. I love how she just knows what book to recommend someone. I found myself actually want to learn more about the books she was talking about. I'm always amazed when a book manages to get me excited about more books. Nina is also a really brave woman. To leave her life behind, to start over, in a new town, with a job that offers no real security, surrounded by people she doesn't know, that takes courage, and I found myself hoping she'd succeed. She's a dreamer, and maybe just a little naive, but that's what makes her the perfect heroine for this book. At times I thought she was a bit too patient with her friends, Griffin and Surinder. I kind of kept hoping she'd at least say something to Surinder, when they were in Scotland, but I feel like Nina is just too good for her own good, too friendly.

I will be honest with you and say that the blurb reminded me a little of the movie You've Got Mail, which is one of my favorite romantic movies ever. And I loved that, because it kind of made me even more excited about the book.

But what I loved even more about the book is that it has a really great message: there's a great, amazing life happening outside of the pages of the book. It's easy, as a reader, or at least for me it is, to forget that, to hop from one book to the next and ignore the great adventures going on around me. And I love that this book talks about how sometimes, you can find adventures in the real world.

The book is kind of predictable in some aspects, but that didn't bother me all that much. I kept reading and reading, and I lost track of time. I also found myself giggling a lot. Colgan has a really great sense of humor. However those scenes weren't necessarily over the top, they were subtle funny scenes that I loved even more. There was another thing that I loved, and that is that I didn't find myself wanting to skip passages. Due to the subject and the genre of this book, there are quite long passages of descriptions or of just delving into Nina's inner monologue, but I never once thought about skipping those in order to get to the dialogue. It's really great when I find a book that is written in such a way, that I get to have this feeling.

I have to say, I'd love to see what will happen next to Nina and Lennox. I wouldn't want to get that story from her POV though, maybe from Surinder's perspective, because she was also an interesting character to read about, even though a little bit infuriating at times.

I really liked reading this book, and I plan on checking out more books by Jenny Colgan.


The problem with good things that happen is that very often they disguise themselves as awful things. It would be lovely, wouldn’t it, whenever you’re going through something difficult, if someone could just tap you on the shoulder and say, “Don’t worry, it’s completely worth it. It seems like absolutely horrible crap now, but I promise it will all come good in the end,” and you could say, “Thank you, Fairy Godmother.” You might also say, “Will I also lose that seven pounds?” and they would say, “But of course, my child!”
That would be useful, but it isn’t how it is, which is why we sometimes plow on too long with things that aren’t making us happy, or give up too quickly on something that might yet work itself out, and it is often difficult to tell precisely which is which.
A life lived forward can be a really irritating thing. So Nina thought, at any rate. Nina Redmond, twenty-nine, was telling herself not to cry in public. If you have ever tried giving yourself a good talking-to, you’ll know it doesn’t work terribly well. She was at work, for goodness’ sake. You weren’t meant to cry at work.
She wondered if anyone else ever did. Then she wondered if maybe everyone did, even Cathy Neeson, with her stiff too-blond hair, and her thin mouth and her spreadsheets, who was right at this moment standing in a corner, watching the room with folded arms and a grim expression, after delivering to the small team Nina was a member of a speech filled with jargon about how there were cutbacks all over, and Birmingham couldn’t afford to maintain all its libraries, and how austerity was something they just had to get used to.
Nina reckoned probably not. Some people just didn’t have a tear in them.
(What Nina didn’t know was that Cathy Neeson cried on the way to work, on the way home from work—after eight o’clock most nights—every time she laid someone off, every time she was asked to shave another few percent off an already skeleton budget, every time she was ordered to produce some new quality relevant paperwork, and every time her boss dumped a load of administrative work on her at four o’clock on a Friday afternoon on his way to a skiing vacation, of which he took many.
Eventually she ditched the entire thing and went and worked in a National Trust gift shop for a fifth of the salary and half the hours and none of the tears. But this story is not about Cathy Neeson.)
It was just, Nina thought, trying to squash down the lump in her throat . . . it was just that they had been such a little library.
Children’s story time Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Early closing Wednesday afternoon. A shabby old-fashioned building with tatty linoleum floors. A little musty sometimes, it was true. The big dripping radiators could take a while to get going of a morning and then would become instantly too warm, with a bit of a fug, particularly off old Charlie Evans, who came in to keep warm and read the Morning Star cover to cover, very slowly. She wondered where the Charlie Evanses of the world would go now.
Cathy Neeson had explained that they were going to compress the library services into the center of town, where they would become a “hub,” with a “multimedia experience zone” and a coffee shop and an “intersensory experience,” whatever that was, even though town was at least two bus trips too far for most of their elderly or strollered-up clientele.
Their lovely, tatty, old pitched-roof premises were being sold off to become executive apartments that would be well beyond the reach of a librarian’s salary. And Nina Redmond, twenty-nine, bookworm, with her long tangle of auburn hair, her pale skin with freckles dotted here and there, and a shyness that made her blush—or want to burst into tears—at the most inopportune moments, was, she got the feeling, going to be thrown out into the cold winds of a world that was getting a lot of unemployed librarians on the market at the same time.
“So,” Cathy Neeson had concluded, “you can pretty much get started on packing up the ‘books’ right away.”
She said “books” like it was a word she found distasteful in her shiny new vision of Mediatech Services. All those grubby, awkward books.

Nina dragged herself into the back room with a heavy heart and a slight redness around her eyes. Fortunately, everyone else looked more or less the same way. Old Rita O’Leary, who should probably have retired about a decade ago but was so kind to their clientele that everyone overlooked the fact that she couldn’t see the numbers on the Dewey Decimal System anymore and filed more or less at random, had burst into floods, and Nina had been able to cover up her own sadness comforting her.
“You know who else did this?” hissed her colleague Griffin through his straggly beard as she made her way through. Griffin was casting a wary look at Cathy Neeson, still out in the main area as he spoke. “The Nazis. They packed up all the books and threw them onto bonfires.”
“They’re not throwing them onto bonfires!” said Nina. “They’re not actually Nazis.”
“That’s what everyone thinks. Then before you know it, you’ve got Nazis.”

With breathtaking speed, there’d been a sale, of sorts, with most of their clientele leafing through old familiar favorites in the ten pence box and leaving the shinier, newer stock behind.
Now, as the days went on, they were meant to be packing up the rest of the books to ship them to the central library, but Griffin’s normally sullen face was looking even darker than usual. He had a long, unpleasantly scrawny beard, and a scornful attitude toward people who didn’t read the books he liked. As the only books he liked were obscure 1950s out-of-print stories about frustrated young men who drank too much in Fitzrovia, that gave him a lot of time to hone his attitude. He was still talking about book burners.
“They won’t get burned! They’ll go to the big place in town.”
Nina couldn’t bring herself to even say Mediatech.
Griffin snorted. “Have you seen the plans? Coffee, computers, DVDs, plants, admin offices, and people doing cost–benefit analysis and harassing the unemployed—sorry, running ‘mindfulness workshops.’ There isn’t room for a book in the whole damn place.” He gestured at the dozens of boxes. “This will be landfill. They’ll use it to make roads.”
“They won’t!”
“They will! That’s what they do with dead books, didn’t you know? Turn them into underlay for roads. So great big cars can roll over the top of centuries of thought and ideas and scholarship, metaphorically stamping a love of learning into the dust with their stupid big tires and blustering Top Gear idiots killing the planet.”
“You’re not in the best of moods this morning, are you, Griffin?”
“Could you two hurry it along a bit over there?” said Cathy Neeson, bustling in, sounding anxious. They only had the budget for the collection trucks for one afternoon; if they didn’t manage to load everything up in time, she’d be in serious trouble.
“Yes, Commandant Über-Führer,” said Griffin under his breath as she bustled out again, her blond bob still rigid. “God, that woman is so evil it’s unbelievable.”
But Nina wasn’t listening. She was looking instead in despair at the thousands of volumes around her, so hopeful with their beautiful covers and optimistic blurbs. To condemn any of them to waste disposal seemed heartbreaking: these were books! To Nina it was like closing down an animal shelter. And there was no way they were going to get it all done today, no matter what Cathy Neeson thought.
Which was how, six hours later, when Nina’s Mini Metro pulled up in front of the front door of her tiny shared house, it was completely and utterly stuffed with volumes.


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Comic Book Tuesday #16: Monstress #5 by Marjorie M. Liu

Author: Marjorie M. Liu
Series: Monstress (Single Issues) #5
Genre: Comic Book, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: April 13th 2016
My Rating: 5 cups
Source: Netgalley
Blurb (from Goodreads):
Maika struggles with the monster inside.

*Disclaimer: I received an e-copy of this book from Netgalley and Image Comics in exchange for an honest review. This does not influence my opinion or my rating of the book in any way.

I really, really loved this installment of the story. When the previous issue ended, we got to meet a new character, and the present timeline picks up right after that moment. The reader also gets to learn more about Maika's past and about her growing up. We also learn how she and Tuya, the other girl on the cover, became friends.

This issue also helped me understand more about Maika herself. She has an interesting way of seeing things, and her inner monologue felt a bit different than how she talks to other people. It's almost like she's a different girl, like she's trying to protect herself from the bad guys, but also the people she cares for from herself, that she becomes someone else when she has to interact with other characters.

Kippa and Ren still make an appearance and they're still cute and funny. The stranger from the last issue is also in this one, and, like Ren, I don't really trust him. I'm still not sure who he is, and if he is who he says he is. Ren certainly thinks he's a liar.

The art is, as usual, beautiful. I love the colors used in the panels that tell Maika's past. Really dark, mostly grey-ish.

The pacing really picks up, and the ending was surprising. We also get to learn more about the Arcanics, from the lectures at the end. Really interesting storyline there, and I hope it gets explored in later installments of this comic book.

Rocked my world photo Image9.png

Monday, September 19, 2016

Book Review: Strung Up by Lorelei James

Author: Lorelei James
Series: Blacktop Cowboys #7.5, 1001 Dark Nights #46
Audience: +18
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Erotic Romance, Western Romance
Publisher: Evil Eye Concepts, Incorporated
Release Date: September 13th 2016
My Rating: 5 Cups
Source: InkSlinger PR
Blurb (from Goodreads):
From New York Times bestseller Lorelei James…

Rancher Creston Grant retreats from the world after he loses the love of his life... Can his former flame, rodeo cowboy Breck Christianson prove he's a changed man who can give Cres a second chance at love?

*Disclaimer: I received an eARC of this book from InkSlinger PR and Evil Eye Concepts, Incorporated in exchange for an honest review. This does not influence my rating or opinion of this book in any way.

Strung Up is one of those books that will take you for a wild ride, make you love it and want more. Lorelei James managed to touch so many important themes in this novella, from dealing with the loss of a partner, to finding love, to the struggles of being a gay man in a work environment where everyone prides themselves with their heterosexuality, to family dynamics and so on. You have it all here, and it's one of the reasons why I love James' books so much.

As I haven't yet got to read her Blacktop Cowboys series, I was not familiar with Breck from the very beginning of the series, to see how he changed and how he became the man he was in this book. But I can tell that even before this novella he was a strong, confident man. Reading about what he went through after his ex announced it to everyone that Breck was gay, really made me respect him more, and also be incredibly sad for him. I get even sadder when I think that this is real. Even today, there are people who can lose everything just based on their sexuality, and that is infuriating to say the least. But I greatly respect Breck for finding the strength to move on, to try to make a bad situation into a good one.

I met Cres in the 1001 Dark Nights Bundle Six, and since then I've kept my fingers crossed that he would get his own story. I never imagined that his story would be so tragic, but I wanted his story told. I've hoped for an M/M story from Lorelei James since forever, and I was super happy when Cres got his story. As I said, he has a really sad story, but at the same time a very hopeful one. I also loved that his family was so cool with his sexuality, and that it wasn't something they focused on. Even in the previous novella, the one I was referring to earlier, it didn't feel like the Grant family defined Cres as his sexuality, which was honestly such a great thing.

I am super happy that I was able to read this book and I cannot wait to see what other stories will James write in the future.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Blog Tour Book Review: Playing It Cool by Amy Andrews

Author: Amy Andrews
Series: Sydney Smoke Rugby #2
Audience: +18
Genre: Sports Romance, Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Release Date: September 12th 2016
My Rating: 4.5 cups
Source: InkSlinger PR
Blurb (from Goodreads):
Harper Nugent might have a little extra junk in her trunk, but her stepbrother calling her out on it is the last straw… When rugby hottie, Dexter Blake, witnesses the insult, he surprises Harper by asking her out. In front of her dumbass brother. Score! Of course, she knows it’s not for reals, but Dex won’t take no for an answer.

Dexter Blake’s life revolves around rugby with one hard and fast rule: no women. Sure, his left hand is getting a workout, but he's focused on his career for now. Then he overhears an asshat reporter belittle the curvy chick he'd been secretly ogling. What's a guy to do but ask her out? It’s just a little revenge against a poser, and then he'll get his head back in the game.

But the date is better than either expected. So is the next one. And the next. And the heat between them…sizzles their clothes right off.

Suddenly, this fake relationship is feeling all too real…

*Disclaimer: I received an e-ARC of this book from InkSlinger PR and Entangled Publishing, Incorporated in exchange for an honest review. This does not influence my rating or my opinion of this book.

I was super excited when I saw that the second book in the Sydney Smoke Rugby series was going to be published so soon after the first one. I was even more excited about it since Harper, the heroine, sounded so cool, so I jumped at the chance to read this book.

I am so happy that Harper turned out to be exactly what I hoped she would be. She seems a bit like a modern version of Cinderella. She's a very loyal person, both to her friends, and family, even though that family doesn't really deserve it. She puts up a really good act, but years of being told that she's not pretty, that she's fat, has made her not trust her own sex appeal, as well as be suspicious of any guy that seems even a tiny little bit interested in her. I wanted to punch her stepbrother and her stepmom so bad, because Harper is a really amazing woman. Also, she's a gamer. So if I didn't love her before, I loved her once I realized she is. She's also really talented, and I'd love to see the team use her artistry in later books, not only because she deserves it, but also because someone needs to tell her family to shove it.

Dexter is the classic example of someone too focused on their career to be able to focus on anything else. And yet, at the same time, he's also probably the sweetest hero I've read about in a while. I liked that he's trying to help Harper with basically no hidden agenda. Sure, they end up having sex, but that was so not his goal. He saw someone who needed help and decided he could help her. I would've fallen for him just because of that. I can't really say I blame him for being career-oriented. Yes, he acted a bit harsh when things got tough, but I understand his motivation. I would have wanted more insight into his childhood than what we got, but other than that the guy is pretty perfect.

The pacing of the book is really good, and the sex is hot. There's also funny moments, some sad moments, so there's a little bit of everything for everyone. I really enjoyed this book and I am excited to see which player gets his book out next.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Release Day Launch: Strung Up by Lorelei James


We are absolutely thrilled to bring you the Release Day Launch for Lorelei James’ STRUNG UP! STRUNG UP is a Blacktop Cowboys Series Novella brought to you by 1001 Dark Nights. Grab your copy today!



About STRUNG UP: A Blacktop Cowboys Novella

From New York Times bestseller Lorelei James…

Rancher Creston Grant retreats from the world after he loses the love of his life….Can his former flame, rodeo cowboy Breck Christianson prove he’s a changed man who can give Cres a second chance at love?

Amazon US | Amazon UK  

Amazon AU |  Amazon Canada

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I believe that love is stronger than death.

That had become my mantra, my focal point in the last seven days, ten hours, and thirty-four minutes since the highway patrolman had knocked on my door.

I’m sorry to inform you that Michael Darby was involved in an accident and died at the scene. He listed you as his emergency contact.

The rest of what he’d said had been a blur.

At first I thought there’d been a mistake. Michael Darby and Mick Darby. I’d never called him Michael. He never called himself Michael. So maybe the cops had it wrong. Maybe there was another person’s life they should be destroying with this bad news that their lover was dead.

So I argued.

Then the officer calmly pulled Mick’s driver’s license out of the leather wallet I’d given him for Christmas.

And then I knew it was true.

Mick was dead.

How could he be dead?

How was that f*cking fair? He’d survived four wartime deployments overseas during his military career. Four years in hell. Only to be killed by a jack slipping and crushing him beneath the wheel of a car.

The injustice infuriated me. Mick being a good guy once again. The Samaritan who always stopped to help. Only this time his helpful nature had gotten him killed.

I wanted to yell at him for being so stupid.

But I’d never get to yell at him again. Or laugh with him. Or touch him. Or tell him I loved him.

He knew. Because you reminded him of that every day.

“Let us pray,” the minister announced.


loreleijames-headshotAbout Lorelei James:

Lorelei James is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of contemporary erotic western romances set in the modern day Wild West and also contemporary erotic romances. Lorelei’s books have been nominated for and won the Romantic Times Reviewer’s choice Award, as well as the CAPA Award. Lorelei lives in western South Dakota with her family…and a whole closet full of cow girl boots.

From Lorelei: “Why do I have a particular fondness for all things western? Well, I’m a fourth generation South Dakotan, living in the Black Hills, which is chock-full of interesting characters, including cowboys, Indians, ranchers, and bikers. The geographical diversity of the surrounding area showcases mountains, plains, and badlands. Living in and writing about rural settings gives me a unique perspective, especially since I’m not writing historical westerns. Through my fictional world, I can show the ideals and the cowboy way of life are still very much alive.”


Release Day Blitz: Love Restored by Carrie Ann Ryan


LOVE RESTORED by Carrie Ann Ryan is out now and trust us - you want to meet Graham Gallagher. If you love a man who is good with his hands, make sure to grab LOVE RESTORED today!



In the first of a Montgomery Ink spin-off series from NYT Bestselling Author Carrie Ann Ryan, a broken man uncovers the truth of what it means to take a second chance with the most unexpected woman…

Graham Gallagher has seen it all. And when tragedy struck, lost it all. He’s been the backbone of his brothers, the one they all rely on in their lives and business. And when it comes to falling in love and creating a life, he knows what it’s like to have it all and watch it crumble. He’s done with looking for another person to warm his bed, but apparently he didn’t learn his lesson because the new piercer at Montgomery Ink tempts him like no other.

Blake Brennen may have been born a trust fund baby, but she’s created a whole new life for herself in the world of ink, piercings, and freedom. Only the ties she’d thought she’d cut long ago aren’t as severed as she’d believed. When she finds Graham constantly in her path, she knows from first glance that he’s the wrong kind of guy for her. Except that Blake excels at making the wrong choice and Graham might be the ultimate temptation for the bad girl she’d thought long buried.

Add LOVE RESTORED to your Goodreads list here!
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Get a sneak peek at LOVE RESTORED:

When the game started, and the Avs took the ice, Graham kept his attention on the players rather than the very sexy woman beside him. His team needed his head to be in the game and not on Blake’s curves. And, yes, he might be a little superstitious, but whatever.

At the face off, Toronto took possession of the puck, and Blake let out a little cheer— not loud enough for others to hear, but just those on either side of her. Holy hell, had Austin sent a traitor into their midst? A freaking Toronto fan at a home game for the Avalanche? What the hell was that Montgomery thinking?

He growled at her as she quietly cheered the first Maple Leaf goal and met Derek’s eyes. Why the hell was the other man laughing? Couldn’t he see that Blake was cheering for the wrong team? She lived in freaking Denver for God’s sake, and considering that her family’s ancestral home was here, she had to be a native. And yet, she cheered for Toronto? It was as if she were trying to annoy him.

 After the first period, he got up, his hands fisting at his sides. “I need another beer.”

Owen, who had been quiet the entire time since he was apparently answering emails on his phone, looked up. “Grab me a soda, will you? I need some caffeine, and since I’m driving us home, I’ll let you drink.” He winked toward Blake. “I think you’re going to need alcohol tonight.”

Graham grunted and stomped his way through the aisle and up the stairs so he could get a beer. Since everyone and their mother got up during intermission, he’d have to wait in line, but maybe that would help him cool off. He was just so freaking pissed that she would dare root for another team. And that made no sense. Why could she get under his skin so easily?

“Hey, Graham, wait up,” Derek said as he jogged up behind him.

“I don’t know what you did to piss Blake off, but I should probably let you know she’d rooting for Toronto just to needle you.”

Graham turned. “Excuse me?”

He must have looked like he wanted to rip someone’s arm off because a few people moved back in the line and Derek held up his hands. “She’s a diehard Avs fan. Even owns a signed Sakic jersey and keeps a spare she can wear during games. The signed one only comes out during the playoffs. It’s got to be killing her to root for the other team, and it must be because of you.”

That little witch. “How do you know it’s not because of you?” he asked, intrigued and pissed off all at the same time that she would do something like that.

“Because we’re friends, not close ones, but friends. This isn’t a date or anything, just to let you know. I think she’s single, but since my girlfriend up in Seattle would skin me if I even dared to look at Blake that way, I’m just fine as I am. Anyway, I thought you should know that she’s just trying to piss you off. Bro code and all that.”

Graham clenched his teeth. “Bro code.” He ordered his beer, Owen’s soda, and paid for Derek and Blake’s drinks since Derek had been so helpful.

“What are you going to do about Blake?” Derek asked as they made their way back to the entrance and showed their tickets.

“Don’t know yet.” And that was the problem. He never knew about anything where it came to this woman. She could intrigue him, turn him on, and piss him off all in the span of ten minutes. That had to be a record.

He handed Owen his drink and sat back down, studying Blake as he did so.

“What?” she asked, brows raised.

“Nothing,” he said softly. “Not yet anyway.”

She blinked and opened her mouth to say something, then froze as people started to chant, “Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!” around them.

Graham slowly looked up at the huge screen on top of the ice and cursed. “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”

Blake laughed. “No way. No fucking way.”

“Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!”

He was pretty sure Owen was yelling the loudest, and Graham was going to have to kick his brother’s ass when this was over.

“Fuck it,” Graham growled and gripped the back of Blake’s head and crushed his mouth to hers. They both froze a moment as cheers erupted around them before he sank deeper into the kiss. He didn’t open his mouth, wouldn’t let his tongue touch hers, but the moment of lips against lips left him breathless.

He pulled back, his eyes wide, Blake’s even wider.

“What the hell was that?” Blake gasped, her cheeks slashed with red.

“I…” He cleared his throat. “Just watch the game. And you can cheer for your precious Avs. Don’t hurt yourself going for Toronto.”

He turned away from her and gulped half his beer down in one go.

He could feel Blake’s eyes on him before she turned away, and see her hands shaking out of the corner of his eye.

“Dude,” Owen whispered. “This is going to be fun.”

“Fuck you,” Graham growled and drank the last of his beer.

He didn’t know what had come over him, but that had to be the last of it. There was no way he was going to go there. If he were this unraveled and tense at the same time with just one kiss, with just one look, he wouldn’t make it if he had her in his arms. In his bed.

Blake wasn’t for him, and damn it, he didn’t want her to be.

The Kiss Cam could go straight to hell.  

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Carrie Ann Ryan is giving away a Kindle Fire! Enter to win via the Rafflecopter below. a Rafflecopter giveaway  

About Carrie Ann Ryan

Carrie Ann Ryan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary and paranormal romance. Her works include the Montgomery Ink, Redwood Pack, Talon Pack, and Gallagher Brothers series, which have sold over 2.0 million books worldwide. She started writing while in graduate school for her advanced degree in chemistry and hasn’t stopped since. Carrie Ann has written over fifty novels and novellas with more in the works. When she’s not writing about bearded tattooed men or alpha wolves that need to find their mates, she’s reading as much as she can and exploring the world of baking and gourmet cooking.

Comic Book Tuesday #15: Monstress #4 by Marjorie M. Liu

Author: Marjorie M. Liu
Series: Monstress (Single Issues) #4
Genre: Comic Book, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: March 16th 2016
My Rating: 4 cups
Source: Netgalley
Blurb (from Goodreads):
Maika's world becomes even more dangerous.

*Disclaimer: I received an e-copy of this book from Netgalley and Image Comics in exchange for an honest review. This does not influence my opinion or my rating of the book in any way.

The fourth installment of the story is a bit different than the previous ones. We get to spend a little bit of time on the other side of the wall and of the war itself, and we get to see a glimpse into the life of the Arcanics. For some feared creatures, they seemed quite human, and in the case of this story, I'm not sure that's such a compliment. I'm not really sure how their society works, though, so I'm really intrigued to find that out, especially what the positions of power are, who is the real ruler of the Arcanics, stuff like that.

Again, Kippa is amazing, and Ren, the very cunning cat, is super funny. Speaking of cats, I'm not really sure what their angle is in this story.

Maika gave me the impression of instability in this issue. I'm not sure how much time she can fight off the monster inside her, but she's certainly putting up a good fight.

A new character appears in this issue, and I'm not really sure if he can be trusted. But he has cool powers, so I'm curious what his role in the story is, as well as his goal.

As usual, the art is pretty amazing and it completes the story. The pacing of the story picks up a little bit compared to the previous issue. The little lectures at the end continue, and I'm very happy for that. I'm very curious about this new character and what will happen next.

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Monday, September 12, 2016

Release Day Launch: Playing It Cool by Amy Andrews

Today we have the release day for Playing it Cool by Amy Andrews! Check it out and grab your copy today! playing-it-cool-rdl-ban

playingitcool_500About Playing It Cool:

Harper Nugent might have a little extra junk in her trunk, but her stepbrother calling her out on it is the last straw… When rugby hottie, Dexter Blake, witnesses the insult, he surprises Harper by asking her out. In front of her dumbass brother. Score! Of course, she knows it’s not for reals, but Dex won’t take no for an answer. 

Dexter Blake’s life revolves around rugby with one hard and fast rule: no women. Sure, his left hand is getting a workout, but he's focused on his career for now. Then he overhears an asshat reporter belittle the curvy chick he'd been secretly ogling. What's a guy to do but ask her out? It’s just a little revenge against a poser, and then he'll get his head back in the game. 

But the date is better than either expected. So is the next one. And the next. And the heat between them…sizzles their clothes right off. 

Suddenly, this fake relationship is feeling all too real…

  Buy Links: Amazon | IBooks | Kobo | Amazon.UK | Amazon.CA | BN

Exclusive Excerpt: Dexter Blake liked a woman with some junk in her trunk. And the tall, curvy chick on the sidelines was packing a whole lot of booty. She had one of those itty-bitty waists, too. And her cups floweth’d over.

Staring at her chest was practically a religious experience.

Unfortunately, she only had eyes for Chuck Nugent, the pretty boy sports reporter for Channel Five. He was currently doing his sycophantish spiel on the field, a cameraman following him around as he interviewed the players still milling around for their obligatory post-match interviews.

She was impatient for his attention, too, if her pacing was anything to go by.

Lucky bastard.

As far as Dex was concerned, she could keep pacing. Watching everything jiggle was the cherry on the top of his pie tonight. There was nothing better than winning a hard-fought game of rugby union. But watching a fine-looking woman strutting her stuff came a very close second.

“I’d say don’t look now, booty at six o’clock, but I can see you’re ahead of me.”

Dex smiled at Tanner Stone, the captain of the Sydney Smoke and his good mate, as he pulled up beside him then dropped at the waist to stretch out his hamstrings.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Hey, Dex,” Bodie Webb said as he pulled up on the other side. “Your kinda ass on the sideline.”

A low whistle came from behind them. “I hope you’re planning on hitting that, Dex,” Lincoln Quinn murmured as he also appeared, casually waving at some teenage girls hollering at him from the dispersing crowd.

Dex chuckled. “Since when did you all turn into pimps?”

Linc clapped him on the back. “Just lending a hand.”

“Thanks. I can get my own ass.”

And, sadly, as much as sideline-chick ticked every box, her ass was off-limits. One look at her told him she was the kind of girl a guy loved. Got into a relationship with. The kind he married. Made babies with.

She was the commitment type.

Over a decade of avoiding romantic entanglements had alerted Dex to the signs, and this woman had I don’t do casual written all over her.

And he didn’t do commitment. His career came first. He’d fought hard for his place on the team, and at thirty, he probably only had a few good years left. He couldn’t afford to take his eyes off the ball for a second. He knew how easy it was to lose everything. To have it all go to shit when you least expected it.

He was never going back to Perry Hill.

There would be time for commitment later. Rugby was it for now.

“But you don’t,” Tanner said.

“Just because I don’t walk around with a permanent hard-on like Linc—”


Everyone ignored Linc’s half-hearted protest. The cocky back rower wore his horniness like a badge of frickin’ honour. “—doesn’t mean I go without.”

And if he did—it was none of their damn business.

Chuck finished his interview with the skipper of the losing team and, spotting Tanner, headed toward them.

“Christ,” Dex said. “Dickhead approaching.”

Tanner sighed. “Best to just think of our contracts and smile for the camera.”

“Ooh, helllllo,” Bodie purred. “She’s on the move, too.”

Dex’s gaze flicked to the woman again, tracking her progress as she hurried after Chuck. Her hips swung enticingly and her chest moved interestingly beneath her T-shirt.

Christ, it was a turn-on.

“Chuck,” she called, hurrying to catch up with him.

Idiot. Dex would never let a woman trail behind him like that. Not when she could walk in front and he could check out her luscious ass.

“What in hell does she see in that guy?” Bodie asked.

Dex had no idea, but the urge to throttle the smarmy reporter—something that was never far from the surface—spewed like the sudden rush of a geyser in his chest.

“Chuck,” she called, louder this time, almost caught up with him.

Dickhead stopped. Turned. Then glared before looking around him as if he was embarrassed. He hissed, “What the fuck, Harper?” He’d kept his voice low, but the edge of fury carried it farther than Dex was sure Chuck would have liked.

“I told you to stay in the stands, not embarrass me by running onto the goddamn field in a pair of jeans you’ve barely managed to squeeze your lard ass into. I have a certain image to maintain, and it does not involve being followed around by fat chicks.”

Dex’s jaw clamped tight as the hackles rose on the back of his neck. Fat chick? He could see the stain of red creeping up her neck from here, and the spewing geyser in his chest turned viscous, like lava.

“God, he’s a fuckwit,” Bodie whispered.

“Excuse me,” Dex growled.

Lava burning in his chest, he strode purposefully toward Chuck and the woman, who was hissing something back at the reporter Dex couldn’t quite hear. He was sweaty and dirty and every damn muscle bitched at him, but Dex paid none of it any heed.

The urge to deck the smarmy front man rode him hard, but by the time he pulled up beside Chuck, Dex had another plan.

A better plan.

One that involved less potential penalty. And more potential booty.

“Hey, Chuck,” he said, forcing himself to smile as he clapped the reporter hard on the back. It was satisfying to hear a strained, involuntary cough from the man.

“Oh Dex, hi,” Chuck said, sleazy smile in place, turning as if he were trying to block the woman from Dex’s view.

No chance with those puny coat hanger shoulders.

“Great game tonight,” Chuck enthused. “If you could just give me thirty seconds, I’ll be right over.”

“Actually, Chuck,” Dex glanced at the woman and smiled at her. She was even more magnificent up close, with a whole lot of pissed-off glittering in the depths of her Marsala brown eyes. “I was hoping you might introduce me to the lady.”

It was amusing to watch the pretty boy almost choke on his tongue. For a moment, Dex thought he was going to say lady, what lady? But he finally turned to acknowledge the woman behind him. “Of course. This is Harper…Nugent. My…”

The woman—Harper—folded her arms across her chest, and all the blood rushed from Dex’s big head to his little one. “Come on, Chuck, you can say it,” she said, her voice dry with amused sarcasm. “It starts with S. Ssssister.”

Something eased in Dex’s chest. So she was not getting naked with Pretty Boy. There was a God.

“Step!” Chuck said quickly, his voice sharp.

She rolled her eyes as she smiled at Dex and offered her hand. He absently noted there were streaks of paint on her fingers. “Nice to meet you.”

Dex was a tall guy. Big. Not as big as some of the team’s front row, but he was still six foot and had trouble buying shirts that weren’t tight in the shoulders. This tall—hell, Amazonian—woman could look him straight in the eye. He’d never met a woman who could do that in a pair of flats, and it was a strange kind of turn-on.

“The pleasure’s entirely mine,” he murmured, returning her firm and sure grip with one of his own.

He liked a woman who could handshake like a boss.

“Yes…anyway,” Chuck said, his expression pained, as Harper’s hand fell away. “Harper has to run. A girlfriend crisis or something.”

Dex’s eyebrow kicked up. A girlfriend crisis? A crushing sense of disappointment slugged him in the chest.

She was a lesbian?

She laughed and shook her head. “Not that kind of girlfriend.”

His gaze was drawn to her mouth, a plush, sexy crescent in the midst of her flawless olive complexion. He didn’t think she was wearing any makeup, but she was sporting some kind of clear lip gloss that emphasized the luscious curve of her lips.

They glistened, wet and tempting.

Dex laughed, too, as relief flowed like champagne bubbles through his veins. “I am so pleased to hear that.”

Chuck cleared his throat. “Yes. Well. I have to interview the team.” He looked pointedly at his sister.

“Fine. Just don’t forget to pick up Jace and Tabby after you’re done. They’re fine in the stands with Jenny while you wrap up, but she can’t take them home and I’ve told your mother that you’re bringing her kids now instead of me.”

“I’m not going to bloody forget them, Harper,” Chuck replied testily.

She shot an apologetic smile at Dex then turned to go. He and Chuck watched her. The outline of her sexy, rounded butt in the denim of her jeans actually made Dex a little light-headed. It was a sight to behold.

“God, she has a fat ass,” Chuck muttered, disgust colouring his voice.

Dex’s hands tightened to fists. What a monumental wanker. He opened his mouth before he engaged his brain. “Harper! Wait up.”

She looked over her shoulder, a puzzled expression drawing a crease between her brows. “Dex,” Chuck said, putting a hand on Dex’s arm as he took a step in Harper’s direction.

“Tanner’s waiting,” Dex said, shaking off the hand before jogging the short distance to where she’d stopped.

“Hey,” she said, tossing the long strands of her rich dark hair behind her shoulder, clearly still puzzled.

He smiled. “I was hoping you might like to go out with me one night.”

She blinked, the crease between her eyebrows almost cavernous now. “Oh.”

Dex chuckled. It wasn’t the standard response he got from women. Normally, they were tripping over themselves to be asked out by him. Hell, most of them didn’t wait to be asked. It was well known that he didn’t generally date, so they were more than happy to do the asking.

A man with a less healthy ego might have been insulted by Harper’s tepid response. But he could sense her reticence was real as she glanced at the guys to her left, all gawking and smirking, clearly talking about them. Her gaze travelled over his shoulder to where Chuck stood—glaring, if the prickle between Dex’s shoulder blades was anything to go by.

Her gaze returned to him. “Um…”

Hmm. Maybe this wasn’t going to be as easy as he’d thought. He looked pointedly at the mobile she held. “Give me your phone.”

She glanced at it for a moment, frowning some more. “Why?”

Dex gave an exaggerated sigh and plucked it out of her unresisting hand. “It’s okay,” he assured her as she murmured a protest, and his fingers busily navigating to her address book. “I’m just going to put my number in because obviously I don’t have my phone available to put yours into mine.”

She crossed her arms as she watched him enter the details, and it took him twice as long.

“There,” he said, passing the phone back to her.

She glanced at the entry, and his heart tap-danced in his chest as a smile pulled at the curve of her mouth. She quirked an eyebrow at him. “Dex the Stud?”

He grinned and shrugged. “What can I say?”

“And what do you expect me to do with this?”

“As soon as you’re done with your girlfriend thing, give it a ring and we can set up a time and a place for our date.”

“Well, that’s a step up from the last guy, who put his number into my phone hoping I’d send him nude photos,” she said, her tone flippant.

Dex blinked. What the actual fuck? “Absolutely no class.”

“Well, to be fair, he did request arty ones.”

He laughed. “Hey.” He held his hands up in faux surrender. “Never let it be said that I stand in the way of artistic expression, if you feel so inclined with my number. But definitely lose his.”

She laughed back, and it grabbed him by the balls. Like everything else about her, it was big and rich and real. But then her gaze flicked over his shoulder again, and her smile slowly slipped from her face.

Dex gave an exaggerated sigh. “You’re not going to ring it, are you?”

She shook her head, a glossy smile playing on her glossy mouth. “No chance in hell.”


She glanced at her stepbrother again. “Some things just aren’t worth the hassle.”

Dex couldn’t agree more. But he didn’t think Harper Nugent was one of them. Undeterred, he grabbed for her phone again, his reflexes lightning fast after a decade of professional rugby. “You leave me no choice,” he chided as he quickly rang his own number.

“Hi, Dex the Stud,” he said as the ring tone eventually gave way to his message bank. “It’s Dex.” He waggled his brows at Harper, and she smiled and rolled her eyes. “I’m ringing to remind you to call Harper Nugent on this number and ask her on a date again. Do not take no for an answer. Even”—he grinned at her—“if she offers nude arty photos in lieu.”

Dex hit the end button and passed the phone back to her. “There now. You’re in my phone. And I will be ringing you.”

She glanced at the phone then at him before flicking a look at the guys again. Linc was grinning like a loon as he shot Dex two thumbs-up.

“Sure you will,” she said, the tight, polite smile on her face making Dex want to slap Linc upside the head.

She bade him farewell and walked away, and for the first time in his life, Dex looked forward to something other than rugby and inflicting bodily harm on Linc.

… Harper’s phone rang three hours later. She was a bottle of wine down with her best friend Em, who was in the middle of a boyfriend-number-sixteen crisis. Em was cute, peppy, and up for anything.

She just had really lousy taste in men.

When Em went into a relationship, she went all in, something which Harper had always admired even if her friend consistently chose the wrong guys to be “in” with. The type who were only out for a good time, not a long time. But she always sprang back, and Harper was in awe of her friend’s tenacity and absolute conviction that the right person was out there for everyone.

Although not tonight. While Harper was drinking wine, Em’s breakup booze of choice was butterscotch schnapps, and tonight it was leading her to seriously consider becoming a nun. To prove her seriousness, she was currently Googling how to re-virginise.

So, Harper was both tipsy and completely distracted when she answered the phone.

“Hi,” she said as Em made gagging noises at pictures on a website she was skimming.

“Hey, Harper.”

The hairs on the back of her neck stood up in instant awareness as they had earlier tonight when Dexter Blake had singled her out for a bit of attention.

Her mind went blank for a beat or two. He rang?

Of course he had. She had clearly been some kind of bet or dare or something with his team buddies. At twenty-three, it wouldn’t be the first time she’d been the butt of some douche’s idea of a good time. I dare you to ask the fat chick out. Snigger, snort, backslap.

Some men were such assholes.

But it had been so good, even momentarily, to put her sanctimonious step-brother in his place.

“Harper? It’s Dex the Stud. Remember me?”

His voice was warm and rich with amusement, and Harper shut her eyes. Remember him? She’d relived him asking her out about a dozen times, no matter how much she’d told herself it had all been some sick joke. It had been the first thing she’d told Em after her friend had stopped crying and asked for something happy to cheer her up.

Then they’d Googled him.


His voice was sharper this time and Harper pulled herself together, sitting straighter in the chair. “Yes. Of course… Hi.”

“You sound kinda…outta it.”

Harper eyed the empty wine bottle and the full one she’d just cracked open. “Well…I’m kinda drunk, so that’s probably why.”

His low chuckle slid seductive fingers down her neck. “The girlfriend emergency?”


Em looked over her shoulder. “Who is it?”


Her eyebrows practically hit her hairline. “The rugby dude?”

“Is that the girlfriend?” Dex asked in her ear.

“Yup,” she said to them both.

“Ask him if he knows how to re-virginise.”

Harper shook her head. “I’m not asking him that.”

“Asking me what?” His voice sounded delicious when it was amused. Thick and gooey, oozing all over her body. Like chocolate topping.

God, she loved chocolate topping.

“You should totally ask me whatever it is.”

“Trust me, you don’t want to know.”

“Are you kidding?” Em interrupted. “He’s a professional rugby star. Everyone knows they get laid all the time. What he doesn’t know about a woman’s anatomy probably isn’t worth knowing. He’ll know about re-virginising.”

Harper thought it more likely he’d know about de-virginising.

“Did she just say re-virginising?”

Had Harper been sober, she would have paid more heed to Em’s sage words about the mating habits of professional sportsmen and not the sweet seduction of a chocolate-topping voice. She sighed. “Yup.”

“Why would anyone want to re-virginise? Hell… Can someone re-virginise?”

“I don’t know and yes, apparently, according to the internet. Spiritually and surgically.”

“That sounds…painful.”

Harper laughed. “Yes. For both.”

“And seriously, would you want some strange dude with a scalpel down near your lady parts?”

She shuddered. “I can think of better uses for a dude down near my lady parts.” His bark of laughter was loud in her ear, and she realised what she said. Her face flamed. “Oh God, sorry. I said that out loud, didn’t I?”

“You certainly did, Harper Nugent.”

“I take it back.”

“Oh no,” he chuckled some more. “You can’t take that back.”

Harper groaned internally. Jesus. Where was her filter? She glanced at the wine bottle. Somewhere at the bottom of that, no doubt.

“Fine. Ignore it then. It’s the booze. White wine makes me mouthy.”

“I can’t wait to see that.”

His voice had dropped an octave and roughened with the merest hint of a promise. It went straight to those aforementioned lady parts, and Harper actually squirmed in her chair to ease the sudden ache.

“She’s not serious, is she?”

It took her a moment to realise he’d moved on, and she leaped at the opportunity gratefully. “No. She’s pissed. Both at men and in the alcoholic sense.” Em had already been several shots of Schnapps down when Harper arrived. “Re-virginising is just one of many options we’ve already discussed tonight. I think she wants to make a voodoo doll next.”

He laughed again. “I like the sound of her.”

Harper sighed, looking at the gorgeous mop of caramel curls and the alabaster wedge of cheekbone making up Em’s profile. She looked like one of those babies from old-fashioned adverts for Pears soap. Only all grown-up.

“She’s gorgeous. You should ask her out. You’d make beautiful babies.”

There was a long pause. Long enough to make Harper think, somewhere in her alcohol-addled brain, babies were not on Dexter Blake’s agenda.

“Thanks,” he said, voice low and amused. “I think I’ll stick with my original plan, though.”


“You and me. A date.”

“Oh.” Harper’s stomach tightened. She’d seen the way his teammates had been watching them tonight. The way the younger guy had given the thumbs up. She could have kissed Dex for his timing, but a girl had her pride, right? Plus she never wanted to be one of those people who were gossiped about for punching above her weight.

“Look. I’m very flattered that you want to go out on a date with me, but—”

“You should do it,” Em interrupted.

Harper blinked at her best friend. “What?”

“I told you I liked the sound of her,” Dex said in her ear.

Em shrugged. “It’d be worth it just to piss off Chuckers.” If it was possible, Em disliked Chuck more than Harper did.

Harper considered that angle for moment, her head still spinning a little. It was a powerful argument. Why not? If Dex was using her to win some kind of ridiculous frat boy dare, why shouldn’t she use him, too?

“Okay, fine.” Clearly there was a level of drunk where pride rapidly diminished. “But I’m not sleeping with you. Or letting you anywhere near my lady parts.”

That low chuckle again. It ruffled seductively along flesh and nerve endings, and Harper fought the urge to stretch. And purr.

“You know you said that out loud, too, right?”

The lazy smile in his voice ruffled things even lower. “Yes. I know.”

“I will be on my best behaviour. I promise I won’t even bring condoms.”

Sober Harper nodded, pleased with the concession. Drunk, uninhibited Harper knew full well he could ruin her without the aid of a condom, and she seemed perfectly fine with that, too.

Uninhibited Harper was dangerous. She was going to have to cut that bitch off at the knees.

  About Amy Andrews:

Amy is an award-winning, USA Today best-selling Aussie author who has written over fifty contemporary romances in both the traditional and digital markets. She has written for Harlequin Mills & Boon, Entangled, Harper Collins, Momentum, Tule and Escape. She's sold over a million books and been translated into thirteen different languages including manga.

 Amy spent six years on the national executive of Romance Writers of Australia including a two year term as president and after many years of unofficial mentoring of emerging writers, Amy and her fellow Harlequin author Anna Cleary have started their own manuscript assessment business, Word Witchery, which specialises in romantic fiction. With unique insight into what makes a story that sells, Amy and Anna aim to help every manuscript shine.

 Amy loves good books, fab food, great wine and frequent travel - preferably all four together. She lives on acreage on the outskirts of Brisbane with a gorgeous mountain view but secretly wishes it was the hillsides of Tuscany.

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