“Tortured” by Nicole Williams #ChapterReveal

 

 

 

Coming April 9th
Pre-order exclusively via iBooks HERE

 

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When he left for a twelve-month deployment, she knew it would feel like forever before they saw each other again. She didn’t realize how right she was.

When Lance Corporal Brecken Connolly gets taken as a POW, Camryn hopes for the best but steels herself for the worst. In the end, steel was what she needed to survive when he didn’t. She moves on the only way she knows how—gilding herself in more steel.

Years go by.

She builds a new life.

She leaves the old one behind.

Until one day, she sees the face of a ghost on the news. Brecken seems to have risen from the dead, but she knows she can’t perform the same miracle for herself. While Brecken was held in a torture camp for the past five years, she’s been trapped in her own kind of prison. One she can’t be freed from.  

The man she mourned comes back to join the living, but the girl he wanted to spend his life with isn’t the same woman he comes back for. Brecken isn’t the same person either. The past five years have changed them both. While he’s determined to put the pieces back together, she’s resolved to let hers rot where they shattered.

 

Broken or not, Brecken wants her back. He’ll do anything to achieve that. Even if it means going against the warden of Camryn’s personal prison—her husband.
PROLOGUE


Whenever he had to leave, it was torture. You’d think I’d get used to it, but I didn’t—each time got harder. This one might have felt especially brutal because of how long he’d be gone. A year. We’d done weeks, we’d done months, but we’d never done the full year.
​Being with someone in the military, I knew I’d have to get used to it. The separation. The worry. The loneliness. The feeling that I was trying to catch my breath for however long he was gone.
​It was a way of life. And he was my life. So I’d just have to figure it out.
​“I’m never going to look at dog tags the same way again.” Brecken’s mouth turned up as his eyes roamed over me splayed across the backseat as he tucked in his T-shirt. He twisted his wrist, his gaze moving to his watch. A crease folded into his forehead. “But I’m going to need those back before I climb onto that bus. Something about military regulations. Not wandering around enemy territory without them. Those marines are sticklers for the rules.”
​He was trying to make me feel better—trying to get me to smile—but little could lift my spirits other than finding out he didn’t have to leave for the Middle East for twelve long months.
​“You don’t need them. Not really.”
​“Why’s that?”
​“Because you only need them if you’re planning on dying, and so help me god, I’m not taking these off my neck if you have plans for some kind of a hero’s death.” My hand curled almost defensively around the metal tags hanging against my bare skin as I focused on the way the cool metal warmed in my hand. The way it seemed to come to life in my hold.
​“I’m not planning on dying over there. I’m not going to die,” he corrected the moment my eyebrow started to lift. “But I do have plans of scoring some gnarly war wound so I have a story to tell our grandkids one day and can hang one of those Purple Hearts off my chest.”
​I flattened my face as best as I could, even though it was kind of impossible with the way he was grinning at me as he wrestled his jeans back into place. “Not funny.”
​“Come on. It’ll make me look tough.”
​“You already look tough. Too tough,” I added as I scanned him for the millionth time since he’d arrived back in Medford for a week-long vacation before shipping out. Whenever I looked at him, I didn’t just see the good-looking guy others did—I saw every good memory from my past. I saw every good memory that would be formed in the future. Brecken had been a part of my life since I was eight, and he was as much a part of me as I was.
​“Nah, I need one of those big, angry-looking scars running across my chest. Or one of those bullet hole scars on my thigh. Something real tough like that.”
​“And why do you need your dog tags for that?” My fingers tightened around the thin metal ovals, refusing to let them go as if I hoped in doing so, he couldn’t go either.
​“Blood transfusion. Medics are going to need to know my blood type when they’re trying to patch up my unconscious body.”
​“Unconscious body?”
​He nodded all solemn-like. “I can’t be one of those guys who earns his Purple Heart by getting a scratch on some barbed wire. I need to lose a quart or two of blood, maybe even code on the operating table. Something worthy of that medal.”
​The thought of Brecken marching through a hostile country with a rifle in his hands, with god only knew what aimed his way, made me feel weak with worry. The thought of him fighting for his life in some marine medical tent about took whatever was left of my sanity.
​I must not have been doing a good job hiding my emotions, because his face broke when he saw my eyes, his arms opening toward me. “It’s going to be okay, Camryn. I’m going to be okay. We’re going to be okay. The year will fly by, and before we know it, we’ll be getting married and buying a little house as close to the beach as we can afford. Okay?”
His arms wound around me, swallowing my body, and I let him tuck me close to him. I’d never known the feeling of being safe until Brecken Connolly’s arms had shown me the meaning.
​My hand planted in the middle of his chest, feeling his heartbeat vibrate against my palm. “Why can’t we just get married now? Why can’t I join the marines and go with you, wherever that is, so we can be together?”
​His laugh was muffled from his mouth being pressed against my temple. “Well, you can’t join the marines and my unit because the military’s under this impression that us marines of the male species become distracted and one-track minded when the women we love are marching beside us. They’re convinced the only things on our minds are protecting you, flirting with you, or screwing you.”
​Quietly, I counted off on my fingers, “Protecting, flirting, screwing . . .” Then I nodded. “Damn, they sure have you pegged.”
​Brecken’s fingers brushed up and down the bend of my waist. “And we can’t get married right now because you’ve got two more months of high school to finish before you earn that nifty diploma thing.” He kept going, undeterred by my grumble. “And I need to save some money to give you a proper ring and wedding. I’m not doing the courthouse thing with cheap silver bands. Not for you. You deserve the best.”
​My head tucked beneath his chin as I let him hold me in the backseat of his aunt’s old Corsica. The only good thing I could say about the car—which was a coin toss if it would start any given day—was that it had a decent-sized backseat that Brecken and I had made more than ample use of. Growing up in a strict household with my dad as Brecken grew up in the packed household a few houses down, privacy had been in short supply for both of us. Thankfully, his aunt was willing to lend Brecken her car whenever she could, like today, when I’d just made love to the only boy I’d ever loved for the last time for the next year.
My fingers curled into his chest as I willed time to freeze. “I have the best.”
Brecken grunted like he doubted that, his head lifting to check out the windshield. We were parked way back in the bus depot lot. His bus would be leaving for the long drive back to Camp Pendleton in a few short minutes.
“Besides, you already got me a ring.” I raised my left hand in front of him, rolling my fingers so he could see the adjustable birthstone ring on my finger.
He shook his head. “I won that for you at an arcade when we were ten.”
“It cost you twelve hundred tickets too. You saved up all summer to get that many tickets.”
His fingers touched the ring, twisting it around with a small smile on his face. “And it probably has the street value of a nickel. Not exactly the kind of wedding ring I want my wife to have.”
I found myself staring at the ring with him. The gold paint had started chipping off the thin band years ago, but the small pink birthstone still sparkled when the light hit it just right. “Well, it’s priceless to me. I don’t care what the street value is. Or how many tickets it cost.”
“Even so, I’m getting you a nice ring. With all of the hazard pay I’ll earn this year, you’d better start working that left ring finger out so it can bear the weight of the diamond I’ll be dropping on it.”
I was glad he couldn’t see my face, because he hated knowing how worried I was about him. He said hazard pay like a sales rep mentioned a bonus, but I heard it for what it really was—the government giving you a little more money for the likelihood of losing your life increasing.
“One more year. That’s it. Then we’ll be able to be together like we’ve always planned. Away from here.” Brecken’s arms loosened around me. We didn’t have much longer. “Away from these people.”
An uneven exhale came from him, the muscles in his arms twitching. I knew who he was talking about without him going into detail. Neither of our lives had been charmed or particularly easy, but mine had been worse. Being raised by a single dad who was so strict he made a monk’s life seem carefree, I’d had an unusual upbringing. Brecken only knew what I let him know about it, which was barely half of the reality.
“I don’t like leaving you alone with him,” he said, his voice a note lower. “If things get hard again, just leave. Move in with my insane family or a hotel or anywhere. Don’t let him hurt you. Words or fists. He does it again”—Brecken’s hands curled into balls as his back stiffened—“I’ll kill him. I swear I will.”
“He won’t,” I said instantly, in my most convincing voice. “He’s working on all that. Not drinking as much.” I made sure to hold his stare to sell as much conviction as I was capable.
My dad wasn’t just a strict man. He was a sad one, a lonely one. After my mom left, he’d turned into someone else, almost like she’d taken everything that had been good about him and stuffed it in that small suitcase too. Since I was the only one around and bore a striking resemblance to my mom, I’d taken the brunt of my dad’s grief. In the form of cutting words and, occasionally, outstretched palms.
Brecken had been walking down the sidewalk one day when he saw my dad strike me across the cheek for attempting to leave the house in a skirt he described as “fitting for a whore.” Brecken had only been thirteen, but he’d taken my dad down, managing to land a few punches before I could pull him off.
My dad stopped hitting me after that. At least where anyone passing by could see.
Not that I needed to tell Brecken that now. Though I guessed it would get him to stay a while longer . . . if only to be charged with murder and thrown into prison for the next twenty to thirty years.
Suddenly, that year didn’t seem so bad.
“He won’t,” I reiterated, when Brecken continued to give me that penetrating stare, like he was capable of finding a lie if I was hiding one.
Both of his brows lifted. “He better not.”
“If anything happens, I’ll crash at your family’s place, I swear.”
Sitting up, he pulled his wallet out of his back pocket. “With fourteen people sharing twelve hundred square feet of space, good luck finding a quiet spot to do your homework.” He pulled every bill out of his wallet. Even the last crumbled dollar. “Take this, hide it from your dad, and use it if you need to. That’s enough to get you a week or so at a hotel that isn’t a dump, and as soon as I get my next paycheck, I’ll send more.”
My head was shaking as I tried to stuff the money back into his wallet. He’d already closed it and was sliding it back into his pocket though. “I’ll be fine.”
Brecken’s gaze dropped to the money in my hand. “Yeah, I know.”
“Brecken.”
“Camryn,” he mimicked.
“I’m not taking the last dollar in your wallet.”
“Why not?” he asked, making a face. “I’d give you the shirt off my back, the air in my lungs, the last drop of blood in my veins. The last dollar’s a cakewalk compared to, you know, dying of suffocation or bleeding out.” He winked as he folded my fingers around the wad of money in my hand, then he leaned down to pull on his boots. He was moving quickly, glancing in the direction of the buses like he was making sure his wasn’t pulling away from the curb yet.
“Do you want to walk with me to the bus?” His focus stayed on cinching up his last boot as he waited for my answer.
He already knew it though. Good-byes weren’t my forte. Especially not the kind where I had to wave good-bye to the man I loved as he prepared to head into the middle of a war zone for the next year. Good-bye came with a whole different context when you said it to a marine.
“I know, Blue Bird. I know.” He sighed, his eyes narrowing at the weathered floorboards before he reached for the dog tags still hanging around my neck.
I didn’t make any move to lift my head or slide my hair aside to make it easier for him. As long as those tags were on my neck instead of his, he was safe. He was alive.
“I’m not going to die over there,” he whispered, pulling the tags over his head. They clinked together as they fell against his chest. “I’m coming back to you.”
My throat was burning from trying to keep myself from crying. “You can’t promise that.”
He reached for the blanket that had fallen on the floor and gently tucked it around my still-naked body. It was strange how I’d forgotten I was naked until he’d taken his tags off of me. Now though, I felt bare. Exposed. Vulnerable. My dress was somewhere around, even though I didn’t see it. We’d barely managed to make it to the parking lot before falling into the backseat together.
“Yes I can,” he said, his thumb tracing my collarbone before tucking the other corner around my shoulder. “Have I ever broken a promise to you?” He angled himself so he was in front of me, so I was forced to look him in the eyes.
“This is different. You can’t know for sure.”
“I’m going to enjoy watching you eat those words when I’m standing in front of that pretty face in twelve months, Blue Bird.”
I pulled the blanket tighter around me. “You know I don’t like it when you call me that when I’m mad at you.”
“You’re mad? At me?” He blinked. “Why?”
“You know why.” My eyes automatically moved toward the line of buses.
“To set the record straight, it’s the marine corps sending me to Iraq. Not me by personal choice.”
“No, but you made the personal choice to join the marine corps.”
“Yeah, because I didn’t want to spend the next twenty years pumping gas at the Qwik Mart.” His hand curled around the back of the front seat. “We’ve talked about this, Camryn. I’m not cut out for college, and I sure as shit am not going to spend my life working a minimum-wage part-time job and stuck in Medford. The marines is a chance at a real life. A career where I can be promoted and provide for a family and get a chance to kick a little ass every once in a while.” He leaned forward to kiss my forehead. Then my lips. “This is the ticket to that life we’ve been talking about for years. But it comes with a price.” His mouth covered mine again, this time a bit longer. “I’ll be okay. I’ll make it back.”
My eyes closed so I could focus on the taste of him left behind on my mouth. “You’re always the first to charge into anything. You don’t hang back. You don’t like the shadows. You like being the one who cast those shadows.”
When my eyes finally opened, I found his dark blue ones inches away from mine. His light hair, buzzed short so he was all ready for deployment, the few freckles scattered across the bridge of his nose, the way his jaw tightened when he stared at me, those were the things I’d remember when I’d lay awake at night, wondering where he was. If he was safe. If he was thinking about me. As long as I held on to a part of him, he could never really leave me.
“I’m coming home to you,” he said like a solemn vow. “It might be in more than one piece, but I’m coming home to you.”
I tucked his tags inside his shirt. They’d become cold again. “A thousand pieces, I don’t care. Just come home.”
His smile was almost as forced as mine as he leaned in, pulling me into his arms one last time. He held me for a minute, one hand secured around my neck, the other around my back, rocking me against him. Then he kissed me one last time. “Gotta go, Blue Bird. The Middle East isn’t going to settle itself down.”
As he threw open the back door to go around to the trunk to grab his bag, I leaned across the seat. He was leaving. For what felt like forever. “Yeah, don’t think you’re single-handedly responsible for tackling that agenda either.”
Throwing the bag over his shoulder, he crouched beside me. This smile wasn’t contrived. It was real. Perfect. “I’ll see you soon.”
“Soon?”
His hand formed around my cheek as his thumb traced the seam of my lips. “Sounds better than see you in a year, right?” Tucking his thumb into his mouth, tasting my lips on it, he gave me a wicked smirk before shoving to a stand and starting toward the buses. “I’m coming back for you, Camryn Blue Gardner, so you’d better be waiting for me, or I’ll just have to come find you and remind you why you fell crazy in love with me.”
Tucking the blanket around myself, I slid out of the car, leaning over the open door. “I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be waiting.”
He’d started to jog backward. “Waiting as in a few days until some other guy makes his play?”
My eyes rolled as I gave him a look. Brecken and I’d been together since I was fifteen and he was seventeen. Even before that, we’d been inseparable, no one able to come between us.
I cupped my hand around my mouth. “Waiting as in forever.”
“I won’t keep you waiting that long. Just long enough.” He was shouting now, the rumbling buses muffling his voice.
“Long enough for what?” I yelled back.
Even with this much distance between us, I didn’t miss it. The look in his eyes. The tip of his smile. “For you to agree to marry me the moment I get back.”
The breeze played with my hair, sending it away from him, like forces out of our control were already pulling us apart. “I will!”
He paused just below the bus steps, his eyes consuming me from a hundred yards away. “It’s, I do, Blue Bird. I do.” He grinned and handed his bag off to the person stuffing them into one of the outside compartments. Then his hands cupped around his mouth, and he dropped his head back. “I do, too!”
His voice echoed across the parking lot, earning the attention of more than just me.
That was it. He climbed the stairs, turned the corner, and disappeared inside the bus. I wouldn’t see him for a year. I might not see him ever . . .
My jaw tensed as I put a stop to that train of thought. Wedding vows and rings were the last things on my mind as his bus lurched away from the curb.
“Just come back to me,” I whispered to no one. “Just come back.”

 

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Nicole Williams is the New York Times and USATODAY bestselling author of contemporary and young adult romance, including the Crash and Lost & Found series. Her books have been published by HarperTeen and Simon & Schuster in both domestic and foreign markets, while she continues to self-publish additional titles. She is working on a new YA series with Crown Books (a division of Random House) as well. She loves romance, from the sweet to the steamy, and writes stories about characters in search of their happily even after. She grew up surrounded by books and plans on writing until the day she dies, even if it’s just for her own personal enjoyment. She still buys paperbacks because she’s all nostalgic like that, but her kindle never goes neglected for too long. When not writing, she spends her time with her husband and daughter, and whatever time’s left over she’s forced to fit too many hobbies into too little time.
Nicole is represented by Jane Dystel, of Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency.

 

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“Ripple Effect: Episode 3 (A Dark Hitman Erotic Romance Book 3)” by Keri Lake #ReleaseBlitz 18+

 

 

 

From the author of Ricochet and Backfire comes a dark erotic suspense serial …

Episode Three: In the underbelly, trust is everything, and Dylan will soon discover that Ripley trusts no one. With the return of an old threat, loyalty is on the line, and betrayal could mean the end of everything for both of them.

Series Synopsis:

Ripley

They call me RIP.
I’m a killer. A murderer. A psychopath.
In the eyes of the righteous, I’m a monster, born of sin and depravity.
I want to protect her, but I’m not a good man.
I want to love her, but I no longer feel.
She gets under my skin, though, and has awakened something inside of me.
Something I’d kill for.
I’m not her savior—not even close. In fact, I’m worse than the hell she’s already suffered.
I’m her vengeance. Tit for tat, as they say.
And if she’s not careful, I’ll be her ruin.

Dylan

For months, I’ve watched him.
I’ve fantasized him as my savior, my lover. My ticket out of the hell I’ve lived in for the last six years.
I never dreamed he’d be my nightmare.
Had I known what he really is, I’d have never gotten in the car that night, but life is full of cause and effect.
And sometimes the choice on offer isn’t a choice at all.
It’s the result of something already in motion, and we’re merely left to survive the ripple effect.

*This is an erotic suspense/erotic romance not recommended for readers under the age of 18 due to graphic violence and sex

 

 

 

I sit on the edge of the bathtub, breathing through my nose to keep from throwing up whatever’s left in my stomach.  An incessant tremble runs beneath my skin, stirring up nausea in my gut.  
“It just … came out of nowhere.  I felt sick.”  The glass of water passed to me diverts my attention, and I glance up at Ripley’s massive form looming over me, arms crossed.  “That smell.  Something about the smell on your hands.”
“Bleach.”
“Were you cleaning something?”  I take a small sip of the water, nervous that I might not be able to keep it from coming back up.
“Blood,” is all he says, as if I’m not supposed to ask.
To hell with that.  I’d rather talk about what he did than focus on my embarrassment, because I have no explanation for why I freaked out.
“Your blood?”
“No.”
“I could really use the distraction right now.”  Dropping my shoulders, I sigh.  “Humor me?”
His jaw shifts, and maybe I wasn’t supposed to ask him about his work.  Maybe it’s all classified or the hitman equivalent. Whatever.  I know Ripley’s not a good man.  That he does bad things. But I’ve come to the understanding that no one in the underbelly is good.  So I really don’t give a shit if I’m not supposed to ask.
“I killed a man.”  His eyes are trained on me—one blue and one hazel, neither of them so much as flinching with his confession.
“How?”  
The line of tension that stiffens his shoulders sags, and he smiles down at me.  “Is that where we’re at now, Bandit?  You’re so comfortable around me to ask the details of my kills?”
“You don’t have to give me details.”  I don’t even realize I’m fidgeting until I look down to see the red streak where I’ve scratched my knuckles.
“Shot him.  Square in the skull.”
I keep my gaze glued to my hands, imagining the scenario.  Ripley’s big menacing body standing over the man who begs for his life.  Horrible.  Yet somehow it takes me away from whatever nightmare I suffered moments ago.  “Did you burn him with acid?”
“No.  He was a merciful kill.”
“Merciful?  Are any of them worth mercy?”  The sneer in my voice takes me by surprise and tipping my head back, I just catch the shake of his head.  “If you were going to kill me, how would you do it?”
Ignoring my question, he jerks his head toward the glass of water in my hand.  “Are you feeling better?”
My cheeks warm with embarrassment, and I’m glad he doesn’t answer.  It was a stupid question.  “Yeah.  It went away.”
“What exactly was it?”
The nervous vibration still skitters along my bones, but I shrug.  “I wish I knew.  Ripley?  Are you going to throw me out?”
“Why are you asking that?”
“Because you’ve … not asked me for anything.  Is the deal off?”  I lodge my fingers though my hair, gripping tight to my skull.  Teetering on the line of sobriety has fucked with my head and I’ve become deathly afraid of what I’d do for those pills outside of these walls. “I know I screwed up with the drugs.  And I wasn’t … I didn’t want to steal from you.  But I can’t go back on the streets.  I can’t.  I already know I’ll die out there.  I don’t know what was up with the bleach, but it has nothing to do with drugs.  I promise.”
A good ten seconds of silence follows before he says, “Deal’s not over yet.”
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Keri Lake is a married mother of two living in Michigan. By day, she tries to make use of the degrees she’s earned in science. By night, she writes dark contemporary, paranormal romance and urban fantasy. Though novels tend to be her focus, she also writes short stories and flash fiction on the many occasions distraction sucks her into the Land of Shiny Things.

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“Delayed Call (Assassins Book 11)” by Toni Aleo #BlogTour 18+

 

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Vaughn Johansson is the Nashville Assassins’ star player. He’s brash, cocky, and talented. And he isn’t afraid to let anyone know it. He lives his life on his own terms, never forming romantic attachments, and only allowing his very closest to see his true, caring self.

Brie Soledad has the weight of the world on her shoulders. As the staff reporter for the Assassins, she balances her high-profile job and its heavy travel schedule with being the sole provider for her adult brother with Down syndrome. Sure, she’d like to find love. But who has time for that when there are bills to pay?

Brie has been the match to Vaughn’s gasoline since the day she first held out her microphone to him. They strike sparks off each other, keeping their friends, the team, and the Assassins fans in stitches. Brie’s refusal to fawn over Vaughn sets his teeth on edge and his blood boiling. Especially in that body part…

Brie’s been let down by love before, but she knows she deserves nothing less than real, forever love. Vaughn’s past has left deep, hidden scars, and there are some secrets he cannot bear to reveal. As much as Brie wants him, Vaughn may be too big a risk for her wary heart to take. But he is at his best under pressure. When the delayed call is in effect and he has no choice but to score, Vaughn always delivers.

 

 

When Tricksie started to bark more frantically as he put his hat on, he looked down at her. “Two seconds, baby.”
She continued to bark as he grabbed his keys before reaching for the door, which she took off out of. He went to tell her to calm down, but before he could, he heard a woman’s voice, “Oh, my goodness! Hello!”
Peeking his head out the door, he found Brie on the ground. On her back, her arms around Tricksie as she jumped and licked her to death. “Oh, my God! Hello. My name is Brie. You are the cutest little dog I’ve ever seen in my whole life. Yes, you are. What is your name? Tricksie? Oh, my goodness, I just love you, I do. Is that your name because you are a three-legged baby and your daddy thinks he’s awesome at scoring hat tricks? I bet so.”
“For your information, yes.”
Brie just grinned as she continued to kiss and love on Tricksie. Which Tricksie was eating up like mad. “Do you want a treat? Treat? Ah, come on.”
Then she yanked the leash out of Vaughn’s hand before picking Tricksie up and kissing her head. “Hey, that’s my dog.”
“I know,” was all she said before pushing her door open and taking his dog into her apartment.
“Can I have her back?” Peeking his head in her door, he watched as she went to the kitchen, grabbing a treat bag before putting Tricksie on the counter and feeding her.
“Don’t worry, they’re all-natural treats. The guys across the hall in my last building had four French Bulldogs, and I used to give them treats until they went into food comas.”
Tricksie was going crazy, obviously falling for the blond-haired beauty who stood before her. Like the day before when they had moved Rodney in, she was wearing jeans and a shirt that he assumed said something witty. He couldn’t see because she was still cuddling Tricksie as she fed her. “You shouldn’t give treats to other people’s dogs.”
She looked up from Tricksie, her lips still curved in the most beautiful grin he had ever seen on her face. “You’re right. I’m sorry. Is it okay if I continue to feed her?”
Why did he find her so lovely at that moment? Her hair was a mess, tucked into a knit cap, yet she looked like someone he could cuddle with. If he cuddled. Not that he cuddled. Unsure of his feelings, he shrugged. “She needs to pee.”
“Okay, one more,” she said sweetly before feeding Tricksie and then kissing her hard on the head. “You can come in.”
He didn’t like how she was making him feel. It was weird. Like he wanted to go behind her, bury his nose in her hair, and just hold her. She looked so damn gorgeous, snuggling his dog and making her feel like the princess she was. Vaughn’s hands itched to touch Brie, and he didn’t understand that. He never itched for anything. He fucked women and moved on, but watching Brie as she acted a fool with his dog, he wanted to…cuddle.
Why did he keep thinking that?
Grumbling at his stupidity, he entered, shutting the door but staying right by it. “She really does need to pee.”
“Oh, yeah, sorry,” she said, kissing Tricksie again. “I really love dogs. I never got to have one growing up. Rodney is allergic to them.”
He nodded. “Yeah, Jensen said he had to put her up when Rod came over the other day.”
“It sucks, but I love them so much. They’re so much fun, and bless her, she’s gorgeous. What happened to her leg?”
“Hit by a car. I adopted her like that. She came in hurt, and they fixed her up.”
Her eyes lit up. “That’s sweet you adopted her. She looks happy as all get-out.”
“She’s spoiled, that’s for sure.”

 

 

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My name is Toni Aleo and I’m a total dork.
I am a wife, mother of two and a bulldog, and also a hopeless romantic.
I am the biggest Shea Weber fan ever, and can be found during hockey season with my nose pressed against the Bridgestone Arena’s glass, watching my Nashville Predators play!
When my nose isn’t pressed against the glass, I enjoy going to my husband and son’s hockey games, my daughter’s dance competition, hanging with my best friends, taking pictures, scrapbooking, and reading the latest romance novel.
I have a slight Disney and Harry Potter obsession, I love things that sparkle, I love the color pink, I might have been a Disney Princess in a past life… probably Belle.
… and did I mention I love hockey?
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“One Careful Owner: Love Me, Love My Dog” by Jane Harvey-Berrick #BlogTour #Audiobook 18+

 

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Take me, all of me, broken and in pieces, or say to hell with me.”

WARNING!
This book will break your heart!
From the best-selling romance author of THE EDUCATION OF SEBASTIAN comes a sexy, heart-breaking and heart-warming story about one man and his dog. (Standalone)

Alex is lost and alone, with only his dog, Stan for company. He doesn’t expect kindness from anyone anymore, but sometimes hope can be found in the most unlikely places. He has a second chance at happiness, but there’s a dark side to Alex, and a reason that more than one person has called him crazy.
Single mother Dawn is doing just fine. Except that her ex- is a pain in the ass, her sister isn’t speaking to her, and her love life is on the endangered list.
At least her job as a veterinarian is going well. Until a crazy-looking guy arrives at her office accompanied by an aging dog with toothache. Or maybe Alex Winters isn’t so crazy after all, just … different.
Dawn realizes that she’s treated him the same way that all the gossips in town have treated her—people can be very cruel.

Contains scenes of an adult nature.

This is a standalone novel with no cliffhanger.
“I had a really nice time today, Alex. We both did.”
He nodded slowly, seeming to ponder my words.
“Nice. Nice?”
“You don’t like that word?”
His reply wasn’t acerbic, if anything, he sounded thoughtful.
“I haven’t had a whole lot of nice.”
I wondered if I should take his words as an opportunity to dig deeper, but he seemed more closed off now and a little sad, and I didn’t want to spoil such a lovely day.
“Nice is good,” I agreed evenly, and was happy when he forced a small smile. “Thank you—for everything.”
I leaned across to kiss him on the cheek, surprised by my own boldness. His eyes widened and he sucked in a quick breath.
Was the world still spinning or had time frozen as we sat there, creatures in the dark our only witnesses?
Is love a disease? An affliction? Or is it something catching? Can you catch love, can you hold it in your hands, can it be communicated like a plague? Or is it like an infectious laugh that makes your eyes water and your stomach hurt, even though the joke isn’t funny?
I’d begun to believe I was immune to love—the kind that exists between a man and a woman. Instead, I’d been gifted an ocean of love for my daughter. I thought perhaps that had filled me full, leaving no room for other love. Other loves.
My lips tingled from the roughness of his day-old stubble.
And is it love when you want someone’s smile as much as you want their body? When their laughter softens your words to a prayer?
My heart began to race.
Or is it sheer animal lust, a torrent of hormones assaulting your blood, heating you from the inside out?
He reached out to touch me, questions in his shadowed eyes as he cupped my cheek. I sighed and leaned into him, eyelids fluttering.
My mother always says it’s the softness of men that she loves most, because it’s at the center of them. Their outsides are hard with muscle; their bodies large, larger than hers—or mine—heavier, stronger. So when a man’s touch is soft, when his fingers drift across your skin like sunbeams, then you’re seeing into his soul.
I never understood. I never believed her.
Until now.
So gently, so very gently, he pressed his dry lips against mine, and I wrapped my arms around his neck, kissing him back.
He tasted of coffee, and he smelled like sunshine and pine forest.
Gentleness turned to want, and want turned to need, and I thought my mother was wrong. I wanted to feel the strength of his body surrounding me, on top of me. I wanted to feel his hardness against me, inside me. I was wearied by supporting the weight of my family alone. I wanted someone to carry me. For just a little while. A single moment.
The wooden arm of the chair pressed into my ribs as I leaned across, and I tried to ignore it. But Alex lifted me onto his lap, shocking a gasp out of me that ended with a soft laugh, because maybe he’d read my mind, because maybe he wanted the same things I did. And then we were kissing again. Again and again for the longest time, hesitance turning to urgency, and long languid kisses to heated mouths and hot sighs.
My fingers fumbled to find the hem of his shirt as I floundered my way down his chest, sliding my palms across warm skin that left shivers in their wake. I started pushing the material upward, and Alex leaned forward and dragged the shirt off, tossing it to the ground impatiently.
All day, I’d longed to touch, yearned to taste, feared to want. I was tired of caution, weary of wading through life alone. If this was just one night, I’d celebrate it forever, and if it was more … well, that was a bridge still to be crossed, a land waiting for discovery.
My hands swept down his back, reading his skin with my fingers as if sight didn’t exist, while we continued to kiss, tongues tasting, learning and teaching. I gripped his biceps, my fingers digging into the ridge of muscle, shuddering with pleasure as he cupped my breast with one hand, the other anchored behind my back to stop me from falling.
Too late.
I’d already fallen for Alex Winters, man of mystery, animal lover, gentle soul, wounded warrior in the battle of life. Or maybe that’s just life. We’re all survivors, one way or another.

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Jane is a writer of contemporary romance fiction, known for thoughtful stories, often touching on difficult subjects: disability (DANGEROUS TO KNOW & LOVE, SLAVE TO THE RHYTHM); mental illness (THE EDUCATION OF CAROLINE, SEMPER FI); life after prison (LIFERS); dyslexia (THE TRAVELING MAN, THE TRAVELING WOMAN).
She is also a campaigner for former military personnel to receive the support they need on leaving the services. She wrote the well-received play LATER, AFTER with former veteran Mike Speirs. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hk1CyB8c0xA )
Author Links

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“Nicu (The Dark Shadows, Book 5)” by Ariel Marie #ReleaseBlitz 18+

Nicu

Nicu (The Dark Shadows #5) by Ariel Marie

Release Blitz

Nicu Olaru, the heir to the vampire king was not a vampire to cross. Even while seething in the dungeon of the necromancers, he plotted how he would kill Sodan, their king. But first, he had to escape his prison cell. He just had to wait for the Dark Shadows to come for him. His brothers would not forsake him. They would come for him, but somehow the first person who stumbled upon him was an innocent with large brown eyes…

Samara Shamus had never experienced such a rush of power before. One look at the menacing figure locked away in the cell and she knew that he was a force to be reckoned with. The word danger dripped from every facet of his body, but for some reason, he was the only one that she could trust. Her entire future changed the night she met her first vampire.

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The Dark Shadows were fighting a war to save their race. But how could Nicu focus when he had more at stake to lose than just his race?

Warning: This book contains material for those 18 years and older.

Nicu and Samara

Buy Link: https://goo.gl/dAacVk

About Ariel Marie

Ariel Marie

Ariel Marie is an author who loves the paranormal, action and hot steamy romance. She combines all three in each and every one of her stories. For as long as she can remember, she has loved vampires, shifters and every creature you can think of. This even rolls over into her favorite movies! She love a good action packed thriller! Throw a touch of the supernatural world in it and she’s hooked!

She grew up in Cleveland, Ohio where she currently resides with her husband and three beautiful children.

Want to know more about her and her books? Stalk her below!

Twitter: https://twitter.com/the_ArielMarie

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/arielmarie_author

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/the_arielmarie

“Token (Daring the Kane Brothers #1)” by Kelly Gendron #ReleaseBlitz 18+

Book Title: Token (Daring The Kane Brothers)
Author: Kelly Gendron
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: March 21, 2017
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

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book blurb

DARE YOU TO SAVE ME…

Retired boxer, TOKEN KANE is comfortable on a motorcycle but little does this Irish rogue know the next Harley he picks up will give him the ride of his life.

One week out of the year, HARLEY REDBOURNE puts away her good-girl and completely let’s go. It’s around the same time that her dark past resurfaces. But this year is different, when it’s time to put her past away, the darkness wants to stay.

For the past ten years, Harley Redbourne hasn’t had anyone waiting for her in the corner of the ring. She’s had to go at this fight all on her own. She needs a cornerman, a trainer, a friend and as much as I don’t want to toss in the towel, I know that I could be that for her ~ TOKEN KANE

“Touch me, and I swear . . .” I point at him. “I dare you!”

“You dare me now, do ya?” He stops close enough for his masculine scent to fill my nose, and laughs, his sexy smile spreading inside his beard. “Do ya know the meaning of a dare, my sweet little lass?” His eyes lower to my mouth.

My palms begin to sweat as I inhale him. Damn, he smells good, and it doesn’t help that I haven’t eaten yet today. I’m starving.

“Yes.” I lick my lips, following his eyes as they move back up to mine.

“Then you might want to try another.” He leans down, his tempting lips so close to mine. “Because I’m not afraid to touch you, Harley Redbourne.”

“Is that a threat?”

“No. It’s a fact, and if you don’t get your stubborn little ass in my truck right now, I’m going to show you just how unafraid I am to touch you.”

“And what? If I don’t, you’ll what?” I stammer, stepping back. “Force me?”

“No, if you don’t do as I say, I’ll bend your stubborn ass over my knee and slap that naughty little tush until you learn to behave and do as you’re told.”

“Oh-ho, no, you won’t!”

“No?” His head swings lazily to the other side, eyes sparkling bright. “Dare me.” His arm comes around my straight back. He pulls me against him. “And I’ll show you just how unafraid I am to do that too.”

****** 

meet the author

Kelly Gendron is the author of the TroubleMaker series, Breaking the Declan Brothers and a few other romantic suspense novels. When she’s not writing steamy, blush producing romances, she’s out meeting new people while representing a group of reputable nursing facilities. You can find Kelly in a quiet suburb, somewhere between Buffalo and Niagara Falls. If you Google her, she’ll pop up there too. And, please do find her, Kelly loves to hear from her readers, and meeting new people.

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Author D.E. Haggerty – Guest Blogger #BookSpotlight

It is a great pleasure to welcome author D.E. Haggerty to the blog today! She’s the author of the quirky, cozy, mystery three-book “Death by Cupcake” series which were all featured  right here on Nesie’s Place.
D.E. will be interviewing the one and only Molly Smith today from her romantic comedy, “Molly’s Misadventures”.  Be sure to check out D.E.’s social network links, and Molly’s buy links below! “Molly’s Misadventures” is currently on sale for #99cents, but the sale ends soon so do not miss out! AND…D.E. will gift an ebook copy to a random commenter!
Enjoy!

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Book title: Molly’s Misadventures

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Content Warning: Profanity

Published: January 11, 2016

Word count: 64,800

 

Synopsis:

I’m having the suckiest day ever. First, my father, aka Mr. Grumpy Pants, calls to say his nurse just walked out on him. Likely story. I rush home to pack only to walk in on my husband getting it on with his younger, skanky secretary. Unfortunately, my quick weekend trip home to fix Dad’s problems turns into a stay of a few weeks. Luckily, I’ve got Danny, the neighbor boy I had a crush on when I was a dorky, braces-wearing, nose-buried-in-a-book teenager, and a brand-spanking new blog to keep my mind off things. Before I know it, I’m writing product reviews of vibrators and getting questioned by a store rent-a-cop at the world’s worst date ever. All while trying to figure out how to take things with Danny to the next level. Not to complicate things or anything but my boss decides to give me an ultimatum – come back in four weeks or don’t come back at all. How in the world did my life get so complicated?

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Interview with Molly from Molly’s Misadventures

By D.E. Haggerty

How’s the love life, Molly?

Oh, my gosh. *Hides face in hands* No easing into it? We’re going to jump right in there? Can I have an easier question? Please. Pretty please with sugar on top.

Okay, then. Why blogging?

Er … that actually wasn’t my choice. My best friend, Dianne, started the whole thing up. She just set me up an account and shoved it in my face as a fait accomplait. I totally revoked her best friend privileges that day.

Well, you’re definitely blogging now. Tell us why you decided to blog about your dating life.

Dating disasters, you mean? Dianne decided I needed a bout of rebound sex – long story – and signed me up for some internet dating website. Yes, I should really hide any and all electronics from her. I don’t know how, but somehow the little conniver convinced me to go on just one date. Since that first dating debacle happened about the same time the blog was set-up, I thought why not blog about it. It’s not like I could be any more embarrassed. Until the second date that is.

I don’t mean to butt in here but aren’t you married?

Wow. You don’t pull any punches. If you want to get all technical about it, I’m separated. Since you’ll probably find out anyway, my husband stepped out on me – with his secretary – and I am therefore completely and totally not obligated to him. Scorned women unite!

Okay. Let’s go back to the blog then. What is internet dating really like?

Ha! Ha! You’re going to have to read my blog to find that out.

Come on. You can tell us a story from your dating experiences that didn’t make it onto your blog.

Persistent, aren’t you? Okay. One thing you miss with my blogs is the lead up to the date. I try to weed out the possible whackos, although I’ve obviously failed at that numerous times. There are several categories of – how shall I say this politely? – incompatible potential dates. The first are those who just want to meet to have casual sex. Most of them are upfront about it, although their requests can be a bit out there. I had one guy email me a whole list of requirements: Do I like to be called master? Do I know how to handle a whip? Can I walk on five-inch heels? Do I own my own cat suit? I couldn’t run away from the computer fast enough.

Thank goodness you don’t need to rely on Internet dating as rumor has it you have a huge crush.

Is it still a crush when you’ve hit the mid-30s mark? We’re taking it slow. Super-duper slow since, as you so helpfully pointed out, I’m still married and going through a divorce. But super slow is definitely not boring. *Blushes*

That’s pretty much all the time we’ve got for today. Anything you’d like to add?

Obviously, everyone should check out my blog. *Winks* But, seriously, thanks for having me on your blog today. It was fun – if not a bit embarrassing at times. *Waves*

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Excerpt:

Molly’s Misadventures

A Coffee Date with the Police

Posted by: Molly Smith at 4:00 p.m.

 Okay, I admit. I assumed my first ‘real’ date in over a decade would be a disaster of epic proportion. I never thought—in my wildest dreams—that the next date would be even worse than that. What’s worse than epic? I have no words. Let me know in the comments if you think of a (mis)nomer that works.

Let’s back up a bit, shall we? Just how did Molly end up on another date after the ambush date? I call it temporary insanity. I let my best friend talk me into signing up for a dating website. I must have been completely out of my mind because I also agreed to go on two dates a week. Not enough craziness? I also agreed to blog about these dates. What have I gotten myself into?

Considering the ambush dinner date of last week, I decided to go for a coffee date with Harry. Not his real name, obviously. I’ve decided to use aliases for all of my dates that start with the letter ‘H’. I once had a friend who named all her children with names that start with a ‘D’. I always did love alliteration, so I’m totally copying her on that one.

So, anyway, my coffee date with Harry. I suggested we meet up in the coffee shop located in a bookstore. It’s a new bookstore I haven’t had time to explore yet. I figured if the date was a dud, I could always do some book shopping because everyone knows you can never have too many books.

The date started out really well. I had mentioned my addiction to lattes when chatting with Harry. When I arrived at the bookstore, there he sat with a fresh latte waiting for me. I’m not going to describe Harry’s physical characteristics because that makes me sound shallow. And now you all think he’s fugly. Well, he’s not. At least not on the outside. Wait until you finish reading to decide on the rest.

We drank our coffees and chatted for about fifteen minutes. Harry was funny with that dry humor that I love so much. My stomach rumbled after a while, and Harry suggested we head to the diner down the street for lunch. I thought it sounded like a great idea and readily agreed.

I should have realized something was off when he then hurried out of the store without waiting for me. I wasn’t expecting him to hold my hand or anything, but he could have walked out the door with me. Well, let me tell you, there’s a very good reason he took off like a rabbit in heat.

I walked through the exit and the security gates started to beep and the lights twinkle. I didn’t think anything of it. I’ve had plenty of security alarms go off by accident before. Being the good citizen I am, I immediately stopped and turned to the security guard rushing towards me.

He grabbed my bag and opened it. To my great surprise, he pulled out the book: Kama Sutra for Beginners. OMG! I don’t think I’ve ever been so embarrassed in my life. I made the incredibly stupid comment: “How did that get in there?” The security guard just looked at me and raised an eyebrow. Yeah, he’s probably heard that one before.

It didn’t take but a second for me to realize that there was only one way that the book got in my bag—Harry, Mr. Not-So-Nice-After-All. I immediately started to lie out of my ass. “Oops!” I may have even done a giggle at this point. “I must have forgotten to pay for that. Shall I just get in line over there?”

Nice try, Molly. The security guard shook his head at me and told me to follow him. He took me straight to the front of the line—because getting caught stealing the Kama Sutra wasn’t bad enough, I also had to piss off all the people waiting in line. But then he decides to find his voice, and he booms loud enough for the whole store to hear: “Caught this lady trying to steal the Kama Sutra.”

I tried to use my nonexistent magical powers to teleport out of the store, but, like I said, my magical abilities are nonexistent. So I just stood there, turning so red my face could have probably lit up the store. I quickly paid for the book and got the hell out of there—escorted by the security guard, of course. I didn’t even bother to see if Harry was at the diner. I was afraid of what I’d do to the thief if I saw him in person. I rushed home and thanked the goddess that I’ve started stocking my bedroom with wine.

Whose idea was it for me to get back in the dating game, again?

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Buy Links

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Meet D.E. Haggerty

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D.E. HaggertyI grew up reading everything I could get my hands on from my mom’s Harlequin romances to Nancy Drew to Little Women. When I wasn’t flipping pages in a library book, I was penning horrendous poems, writing songs no one should ever sing, or drafting stories which have thankfully been destroyed. College and a stint in the U.S. Army came along, robbing me of free time to write and read, although I did manage, every once in a while, to sneak a book into my rucksack between rolled up socks, MRIs, t-shirts, and cold weather gear. After surviving the army experience, I went back to school and got my law degree. I jumped ship and joined the hubby in the Netherlands before the graduation ceremony could even begin. A few years into my legal career, I was exhausted, fed up, and just plain done. I quit my job and sat down to write a manuscript, which I promptly hid in the attic after returning to the law. But being a lawyer really wasn’t my thing, so I quit (again!) and went off to Germany to start a B&B. Turns out being a B&B owner wasn’t my thing either. I decided to follow the husband to Istanbul for a few years where I managed to churn out book after book. But ten years was too many to stay away from ‘home’. I packed up again and moved to The Hague where I’m currently working on my next book. I hope I’ll always be working on my next book.

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Author links

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Scroll down and leave a question or comment for D.E. Haggerty. One lucky commenter will win an ecopy of Molly’s Misadventures!

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