Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Complete Me

Complete Me is the 3rd book in the Stark Trilogy by J. Kenner. The publisher is Random House Publishing Group -Bantam Dell, and the release day was July 30, 2013. From the back cover.~

This sexy, emotionally charged romance continues the story of Damien Stark, the powerful multimillionaire who’s never had to take “no” for an answer, and Nikki Fairchild, the Southern belle who only says “yes” on her own terms.

Our desire runs deep. But our secrets cut close. Beautiful, strong, and commanding, Damien Stark fills a void in me that no other man can touch. His fierce cravings push me beyond the brink of bliss—and unleash a wild passion that utterly consumes us both.

Yet beneath his need for dominance, he carries the wounds of a painful past. Haunted by a legacy of dark secrets and broken trust, he seeks release in our shared ecstasy, the  heat between us burning stronger each day.

Our attraction is undeniable, our obsession inevitable. Yet not even Damien can run from his ghosts, or shield us from the dangers yet to come.

I was lucky enough to be approved for a review copy from NetGalley thanks to the publisher. I couldn't wait to see what happened between Nikki and Damien in Complete Me and started reading as soon as the review copy appeared on my kindle.

I personally think Ms. Kenner did an amazing job with this trilogy. I've loved both Nikki and Damien's characters from the very beginning and loved watching each of them grow not only as individuals but as a couple throughout the series.

I had figured out Damien's secret much as Nikki had long before he shared it with her. As private as Damien is, even though he is always in the spotlight, I totally understood him going to trial rather than letting his past come to light. I loved that Nikki loved him enough to support his decision. Nikki has become much stronger with each installment in this trilogy. She still tends to whine a bit too much for my liking, but she is strong enough to do whatever it takes to love and protect Damien.

I have to admit, the person going after Damien threw me for a loop. I honestly never thought this individual would do anything that might hurt Damien, but it fit perfectly once I thought out all the clues. I will say parts of this book broke my heart, and yet I still loved it so much. The passion shared between Damien and Nikki is off the charts hot, and I love how much they truly need one another.

In my opinion, Ms. Kenner did an amazing job with the wrap-up of this trilogy. I won't say I wouldn't love to visit with Nikki and Damien in the future, because I would. However, if there are no more books with them as the main characters, as a reader, I got the ending I wanted and the characters deserved.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Sanctuary Island

Sanctuary Island is the newest release from author Lily Everett. The publisher is St. Martin’s Press and the release date is July 30, 2013. From the back cover.~

When Ella’s sister decides to reunite with their estranged mother, Ella goes along for the ride—it’s always been the two Preston girls against the world. But Sanctuary Island, a tiny refuge for wild horses tucked off the Atlantic coast, is more inviting than she ever imagined. And it holds more than one last opportunity to repair their broken family—if Ella can open her carefully guarded heart, there is also the chance for new beginnings.

Grady Wilkes is a handyman who can fix anything…except the scars of his own past. When he accepts the task of showing Ella the simple beauties of the island that healed him, he discovers a deep sense of comfort he thought he’d lost. But now he must convince the woman who never intended to stay that on Sanctuary Island, anything is possible—forgiving past mistakes, rediscovering the simple joys of life, and maybe even falling in love.

I was approved for a review copy from NetGalley thanks to the publisher. I'd read the 3 novellas that introduced us to Sanctuary Island and was really excited to read the first full length book in the series.
I really enjoyed this story a great deal. I could feel Ella's pain when it came to her mother, yet understood her coming to the island because she loves her younger sister Merry so very much. I love that Grady is the one to finally help Ella open her heart. While Ella's scars are all on the inside, Grady wears his scars on the outside of his body. It was wonderful to see them each heal thanks to the help of the other. I also loved the chemistry between Grady and Ella. These 2 lost souls really did find each other at the right time in their lives on Sanctuary Island.
I did wish Ella had been more forgiving of her mother Jo Ellen sooner. Jo is a recovering alcoholic and she is willing to do anything to have her girls back in her life. However, I did love that once she started to forgive her mother, she wanted to do anything she could to help Jo out.  I really loved Ella's sister Merry, who is pregnant when she arrives on the island. Merry has always relied on Ella, but this time she is the one who is willing to fight to get what she wants. Merry is much more open to reconciling with their mother, and I loved she had such great instincts. I loved Merry every bit as much as I loved Ella and can’t wait for Merry to get her happily ever after.

Ms. Everett writes strong characters with depth. I think Sanctuary Island is a great start to this new series. I’m already counting down until we get Merry’s story in January 2014 with Shoreline Drive.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Mistress

The Mistress is the 4th book in the Original Sinners series from author Tiffany Reisz. The publisher is Harlequin MIRA and the release date is set for July 30, 2013. From the back cover.~

There's punishment—and then there's vengeance. 

Nora Sutherlin is in handcuffs, held captive by two men. Under different circumstances, she would enjoy the situation immensely, but her captors aren't interested in play. Or pity. 

As the reality of her impending peril unfolds, Nora becomes Scheherazade, buying each hour of her life with stories—sensual tales of Søren, Kingsley and Wesley, each of whom has tempted and tested and tortured her in his own way. This, Nora realizes, is her life: nothing so simple, so vanilla, as a mere love triangle for her. It's a knot in a silken cord, a tangled mass of longings of the body and the heart and the mind. And it may unravel at any moment. 

But in Nora's world, no one is ever truly powerless—a cadre of her friends, protectors and lovers stands ready to do anything to save her, even when the only certainty seems to be sacrifice and heartbreak….

I have mad love for the Original Sinners series by Tiffany Reisz. I was lucky enough to be approved by the publisher for a review copy of The Mistress from NetGalley. I can only say that I stopped reading all the other books in my currently reading stack to read The Mistress as soon as it appeared on my kindle. I will say this series has to be read in order. Each book builds off the others in the series, so if you haven't read The Siren, The Angel, and The Prince, go ahead and buy and read them now before reading The Mistress.
There was so much going on in this book, and so much is pivotal to the plot that I really can't reveal too much. I will say that Nora tells stories from the past in much of this book. Some I knew and others were new to me. I actually loved the retelling of the ones I knew from Nora's point of view. We did get to spend time with many of my favorite characters. I was a little bit on Team Wesley when I read The Siren, became Team Søren when I read The Angel, and totally fell for Kingsley in The Prince. I have to say I enjoyed the glimpses of my boys Griffin and Michael in The Mistress. 
I fell harder than I had before as Søren revealed more about himself in his talks with Grace. I'd never really thought too much of Grace since The Siren, but found myself liking her more as the book went along. While I didn't immediately get some of the choice her character made on my first read, I could totally understand her choices on my second reading. 
BTW, the person who has taken Nora is crazy as a loon. I was able to figure out who was behind everything about half way through The Prince. It was refreshing to see this individual was just as crazy as I had expected throughout The Mistress. While I don't necessarily understand everything about the lifestyle Nora, Kingsley, and Søren have chosen, I see nothing wrong with the lifestyle. Nora's captor was completely and totally outraged and prudish about their lifestyle choices.

I talked with many of my friends after we all read this book and everyone had their own thoughts on the mind-f*ck at the end of the book. Again, had to read parts twice to see everything and then I knew the book could end no other way. Each of the characters ended up where they needed to be at this time. I really loved how Ms. Reisz wrapped everything up perfectly, at least in my opinion.
I realize this review is extremely vague, but as with all of Ms. Reisz's books, so much goes on, you can't share too much without giving something major away. I loved this book and as long as you have read the other books in the series first, I say go forth and buy and read The Mistress. I personally am already counting down until the next 4 books come out in the series. So excited to watch the journey Nora and Søren take from the moment they meet.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Simple Twist of Fate

A Simple Twist of Fate is the 2nd book in the Hanover Brothers series from HelenKay Dimon. I was lucky enough to get approved for a review copy from NetGalley thanks to the publisher. The publisher is InterMix (Penguin Group) and the release date was July 16, 2013. From the back cover.~

The Hanover brothers are doing their best to live down the legacy of their con artist father…but they still have a knack for getting in trouble where romance is concerned.

As the lawyer of the family, Beckett Hanover ought to be sorting through the many claims filed against their family estate—which the brothers have recently inherited from their grandmother. But something about the housekeeper, Sophie, keeps stealing his focus…

Little does he know, as he flirts, what else she intends to steal. The truth is Sophie took the job with one purpose in mind: to help her aunt. But she never expected to find a man like Beck or get sidetracked by the handsome hottie's sweet talk and broad shoulders. Between her secret and Beck’s past, the two are headed for one risky romance.

Let me just say how much I've loved the Hanover series to date. I loved Declan and Leah's story so much and was super excited to see Beck and Sophie would get their story next. I love Beck and Sophie together so much!!! They have the best chemistry together, yet also made me laugh.

Beck has his family's past as a stumbling block for their relationship; while Sophie has a secret that she thinks will end their relationship. I love that she eventually trust Beck enough to share her aunt's secret with him. Of course, Callen still doesn't trust Sophie and continues to give Beck a hard time about her secret, not knowing Sophie has told Beck the truth. We get to meet the brother's mom in this book and she is such a strong characters. She was dealt a crap hand from Charlie, but worked to be there for her sons, even when Charlie took Callen away from her.

Sophie is the one who messes up in a major way in my opinion. Even though I knew she did it by accident, she still screws up. Beck compounds the situation by not listening, but I think Sophie was at fault for the big fight. I will say that Beck proves himself to Sophie in a major way. There were 2 very big reveals in this book about the Hanovers. One I saw coming and one completely threw me for a loop. All I can say is I need Callen's book right now!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Making It Last review & Visit with Ruthie Knox

Making it Last (Camelot Series #4) is the newest release from Ruthie Knox. The publisher is Loveswept and the release date is July 15, 2013. From the author’s website.~

In a brand-new eBook original novella, RITA finalist and USA Today bestselling author Ruthie Knox takes her spectacular Camelot series to new heights with a tale of desire reinvented.
A hotel bar. A sexy stranger. A night of passion. There’s a part of Amber Mazzara that wants those things, wants to have a moment—just one—when life isn’t a complicated tangle of house and husband and kids and careers. Then, after a long, exhausting “vacation” with her family, her husband surprises her with a gift: a few days on the beach . . . alone. 
Only she won’t be alone for long, because a handsome man just bought her a drink. He’s cool, he’s confident, and he wants to take Amber to bed and keep her there for days. Lucky for them both, he’s her husband. He’s got only a few days in Jamaica to make her wildest desires come true, but if he can pull it off, there’s reason to believe that this fantasy can last a lifetime.

Ruthie was kind enough to stop by today on her whistle stop tour and answer one question and giveaway 1 copy of Making It Last to one lucky winner.

A Quick Visit with Ruthie

As part of her "whistle-stop tour" for Making It Last, Ruthie agreed to stop by and answer one question about the story. She's also giving away a copy of the book, today only! Imagine her standing in the caboose car of her blog tour train, shouting out her answer over the crowd and flinging an e-book and some Tootsie Rolls at the assembled audience. Or not. Either way — here's the question:

This book made me cry. Damn you.

Ha! Yes. Sorry. But not really.

I recently interviewed Mary Ann Rivers for my newsletter, and she had this to say about crying moments in books: "Often, I don't think it is the sad thing that makes my readers cry or feel sad. It is what the sad moments are giving my characters that does." What I took from her comment is the idea that in a story, when we as authors take time to really focus in on truth and meaning for our characters — and, in a broader sense, truth and meaning for women more broadly, as we try to write about the shape of love and relationships and marriage in women's lives — we create characters whose realizations, loves, and losses are bigger than the book. They are our own realizations, our own loves, our own losses, and that's why they make us cry.
I wanted very much, in writing Tony and Amber's story, for there not to be an epic mistake, or a "bad" character to balance against the "good" one. I wanted, instead, to focus in on life as so many of us live it — on a stuck place in this marriage between Tony and Amber. It's a sad stuck place, and I think one that many of us can empathize with, which sometimes produces tears — but this marriage is one that contains so much love and yearning, as well, that I think we can see great potential for joy once Tony and Amber are unstuck.
I think — I hope — that the crying parts in this book are the moments where Tony and Amber (and Janet, Amber's mother, who gets a moment of significance near the end) are getting something — a gift of understanding, of truth — that will help them move to a better place in their lives. For me, this is where the tears always happen.

Ruthie is giving away one e-book copy of Making It Last to a randomly selected commenter. This giveaway is for today only! Just answer this question to enter:

I confess, I'm a weeper. I like crying books, and crying movies, and even crying TV commercials. What about you — do you cry easily when you're reading? Do you like it, or do you try to avoid it?

The giveaway is open in North America only. (Sorry -- due to geographical restrictions, Ruthie can't buy her own e-book outside North America!)

About the Book

Making It Last by Ruthie Knox
Camelot series, book 4
Releases July 15, 2013

In a brand-new eBook original novella, RITA finalist and USA Today bestselling author Ruthie Knox takes her spectacular Camelot series to new heights with a tale of desire reinvented.

A hotel bar. A sexy stranger. A night of passion. There’s a part of Amber Mazzara that wants those things, wants to have a moment — just one — where life isn’t a complicated tangle of house and husband and kids and careers. Then, after a long, exhausting “vacation” with her family, her husband surprises her with a gift: a few days on the beach . . . alone.

Only she won’t be alone long, because a handsome man just bought her a drink. He’s cool, he’s confident, and he wants to take Amber to bed and keep her there for days. Lucky for them both, he’s her husband. He’s only got a few days in Jamaica to make her wildest desires come true, but if he can pull it off, there’s reason to believe that this fantasy can last a lifetime.

E-book. 136 pp. ISBN: 978-0-345-54929-7.

About Ruthie

USA Today bestselling author Ruthie Knox writes contemporary romance that’s sexy, witty, and angsty—sometimes all three at once. After training to be a British historian, she became an academic editor instead. Then she got really deeply into knitting, as one does, followed by motherhood and romance novel writing. Her debut novel, Ride with Me, is probably the only existing cross-country bicycling love story. She followed it up with About Last Night, a London-set romance whose hero has the unlikely name of Neville, and then Room at the Inn, a Christmas novella—both of which were finalists for the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Award. Her four-book series about the Clark family of Camelot, Ohio, has won accolades for its fresh, funny portrayal of small-town Midwestern life. Ruthie moonlights as a mother, Tweets incessantly, and bakes a mean focaccia. She’d love to hear from you, so visit her website at and drop her a line.

My review of Making It Last:

I love Ruthie Knox books with a passion. As soon as I see she has a new book coming out, I start a countdown to release date. I've been exceptionally lucky to get so many new books from her this year. Her newest release is Making it Last, which is a novella length book and the 4th book in her Camelot series. We get to revisit Tony and Amber in this book.

First of all, this book takes place 14 years after How to Misbehave and Tony and Amber have 3 sons now. I loved Tony and Amber in How to Misbehave, and was excited to get to see where they are now as a couple. I'll be honest and say I'm single and haven't been in a relationship in a while. However, I have friends who have been married for years, and I totally got where both Tony and Amber came from in this story.

You will need tissues to read this story, it pulls that many emotions from you. I loved the role-playing Tony and Amber did in the bar and how honest they each were about who they really were as they talked as "strangers in a bar". The passion between Tony and Amber was just as hot as ever, yet the demands of daily living have gotten in the way of their relationship. I loved this book for so many reasons, but mostly because it seemed so real to me. I know the demands of daily living get in the way of so many things, and know couples have it twice as hard as a single person. When Amber shares her dreams with Tony for where they would be a year later, I absolutely could picture their new life that way.

Since we have now read about all the Clark siblings, I'm sure the Camelot series is finished. I will miss my visits with the Clark family, but am so glad I can revisit them anytime on my kindle. Ruthie Knox totally blew me away with this book, and I’m already on the countdown for her next book.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Perfect Fling

Perfect Fling (Serendipity’s Finest #2) is the newest release from NYT bestselling author Carly Phillips. The official release date is July 30, 2013 and the publisher is Berkley. From the back cover.~

Erin ... The Good Girl
Assistant District Attorney, Erin Marsden, is Serendipity's quintessential good girl.  The only daughter of the ex-police chief, she has never made a misstep, content with her quiet, predictable life ... or so she thinks.  Until Cole Sanders returns to town with heated interest in his eyes and shadows in his past.   

Cole ... The Bad Boy
After seven years of deep undercover work in New York City, Cole returns to Serendipity to help his aging father and to find his moral compass once more. Not to get involved with wholesome Erin Marsden.  Even as a rebellious teen, he knew a girl like Erin was off limits and that hasn't changed.  But neither one of them can resist their off-the-charts chemistry and a one night stand brings complications neither Erin nor Cole expected.

The Attraction ... Off the Charts!
Then Erin's current case plunges her into a killer's crosshairs. With more at stake than anyone knows, Erin succumbs to Cole's take-charge attitude. As a bodyguard, he's the best. As a lover, he's even better. 
But there's more than the matter of Erin's safety at stake.  And Cole must forgive the sins of his past and prove to himself - and to Erin - that he's capable of the love and the forever she - and their baby -desperately need.
I honestly can't remember when I found my first Carly Phillips book, but I know the "Reading with Ripa" segment on Live with Regis and Kelly got me reading her books again. I was lucky enough to get an early copy of Perfect Fling for review thanks to the author and the publishers through NetGalley.
I'm pretty sure I say this is my favorite Carly Phillips book ever after each new book, and I'm saying it yet again with Perfect Fling. I loved Cole and Erin as a couple from the moment they first got together. There is something about the men in Serendipity that makes me love each and every one of them, and Cole is no different. Seriously made my book boyfriend list (Dare is still at the top, but Michael and Cole almost knocked him out of the top spot). However, Erin Marsden is my favorite character from this book. I loved how strong she is whether faced with a stalker or possibly raising a baby on her own.  I love strong heroines in a book, and Erin is hands-down one of the strongest. 
I loved the chemistry between Erin and Cole, and especially love how tender and protective they are of one another. Even with their differences, I just felt like Cole and Erin are a perfect couple. I did figure out who was after Erin before it was revealed in the book. The mystery of the stalker gave Cole more opportunity to keep Erin with him to protect her and I really loved how he stepped up to the challenge. I especially loved he was ready to battle both Mike and Sam, Erin's brothers, for the right to take care of the woman he loved.

I love each and every visit to Serendipity. I'm already counting down until we get Sam Marsden's book, Perfect Together, February 4, 2014. For more information about the author or her books, check out her website.

Sharpshooter Release Day Blitz

Book Blurb:
Heart-pounding action meets smoldering desire in USA TODAY bestselling author Cynthia Eden's Shadow Agents miniseries!  Two years ago Gunner Ortez saved Sydney Sloan's life on a mission gone wrong. And ever since then, he's been watching her back. Now a hostage-rescue mission is about to blow the Elite Ops agents' lives apart once again. 

Working side by side back in the jungles of Peru, the heat between Sydney and Gunner is hotter than ever-and so are the threats to their lives. With the danger escalating, Sydney knows Gunner is her only hope at successfully completing their assignment. But the ex-SEAL who arouses passion she'd only dreamed about also poses the greatest risk to the secret she carries in her heart...and in her belly.

Author Bio & Picture
USA Today Best-selling author Cynthia Eden has written over twenty-five novels and novellas. She was named as a 2013 RITA® finalist for her paranormal romance, ANGEL IN CHAINS, and, in 2011, Cynthia Eden was a RITA finalist for her romantic suspense, DEADLY FEAR.
Cynthia is a southern girl who loves horror movies, chocolate, and happy endings.  She has always wanted to write (don’t most authors say that?), and particularly enjoys creating stories about monsters–vampires, werewolves, and even the real-life monsters that populate her romantic suspense stories.

Cynthia’s foreign sales for her books include translations to Japan, Germany, Thailand, Greece, and Brazil.
(Back in the day…) Cynthia graduated summa cum laude from the University of South Alabama where she studied Sociology (because people interest her) and Communication (because she likes to write about said people).  Cynthia has worked as a college admissions counselor, a teacher, and as an editor. But now, Cynthia is thrilled to be spending her days making up stories.

Author Links:

Monday, July 22, 2013

Complete Me Hop

The Links: And the Rafflecopter (for hoppers to enter and win --- 22 Winners in all!!): a Rafflecopter giveaway

I'll Be Home For Christmas Cover Reveal

I'll Be Home For Christmas is the upcoming release in the Coming Home series from author Jessica Scott. I'm a huge fan of Jessica Scott and was super excited to be a part of her cover reveal for Carponti's book! I've wanted his book since we met him and am so glad we only have to wait until November 5.

Buy Links:


Barnes & Noble:

Full Chapter 1 Excerpt

Chapter One
Sergeant Vic Carponti paused outside his company operations office, taking a deep breath. It was funny how their corner of Fort Hood felt deserted the night before a deployment. The company colors had already been cased. They would uncase them in a few weeks, once they got settled into their new home across the ocean in the middle of the war.
He didn’t know why this deployment was bothering him so much. It wasn’t his first time heading off to war, so he knew what to expect when the shit hit the fan in combat. But there was something hanging over his head this time. A fear that maybe this time his luck would run out.
He sighed and rubbed his face with both hands before walking into the company ops. The only thing they’d left up was the plaque that bore the names of their fallen brothers from the last deployment. The commander—Captain Trent Davila, a man Carponti had known for years—was planning on carrying that with him personally so it couldn’t ever get lost.
And so no one would ever forget. Carponti reached up and took it gently off the wall, then strolled into his company commander’s office with a nonchalance painted on his face that he damn sure didn’t feel. But people expected him to laugh and joke and make them forget the bad shit all around and so that’s what he was going to do.
“Don’t forget this,” he said, placing the plaque on Trent’s desk. He plopped down in a chair, then kicked his feet up on Trent’s desk. “Are you coming out with us tonight?”
Captain Trent Davila lifted one eyebrow at Carponti’s feet and said nothing. Carponti looked at his commander and longtime friend, then at the plaque next to his boots.
“Fine,” he said with a sigh, dropping his feet to the floor. “So answer the question.”
Trent sighed. “I can’t go out with you guys. I’m the company commander. I’m not allowed to have fun,” Trent grumbled. “Besides, my boss would have my nuts in a sling if anything happens while I'm there.”
“It’s the last day before our deployment. You’re allowed to have fun. You can just say you’re supervising all of us miscreants.” Carponti took the last Dr. Pepper out of Trent's fridge. “The deployment hasn’t even started and you already look stressed the hell out. You should be working your lieutenant to death instead of trying to do everything yourself.”
Trent shook his head and pushed his glasses to the top of his head. “Yeah, well, my new executive officer seems to think he’s God’s gift to the army. He’s good but he’s not as good as he thinks he is.”
“Oh, the boys just love him,” Carponti said.
“No, not really. He’s an arrogant fuck who believes his own press. Personally, I can’t stand him, but luckily I don’t have to deal with him much. I just sic Sarn’t Garrison on him.”
Trent grinned and reached for the plaque, sliding his hat on top of it so he wouldn’t forget it. “Yeah, Garrison has a way with words.”
Garrison was Carponti’s platoon sergeant. Garrison and Trent had been squad leaders many moons ago when Trent had still been enlisted. In Carponti’s world, it meant a whole lot that Trent had stayed close with his enlisted friends even after he’d crossed over to the dark side and become an officer.
“I’m swinging by his place on my way home. He needs to go out before someone shoots his grumpy old ass. He’s been a complete buzz kill since his wife left him.”
“Your sympathy is astounding,” Trent said dryly. He grinned and shook his head. “Why do we put up with you?”
“Because I’m charming and funny and good in a firefight?” Carponti said with a grin.
“Pretty much. You can make anyone laugh.”
“It’s an important life skill. Like balancing a checkbook. So seriously, find a babysitter and come out with us. Your wife could use some fun before she has to spend the year dealing with all the spouses in the Family Readiness Group and chasing your kids around while you’re off on another fun adventure.”
“I wouldn’t exactly call going to combat a fun adventure.” Trent rubbed his chest. There was a scar there, Carponti knew. A scar that had damn near killed Trent several years ago. Carponti wondered just how much stress his commander was carrying and not telling anyone. Trent’s face flushed when he realized Carponti had caught him rubbing his scar and he tapped the pencil hard enough to snap the eraser off. “You know, you’re right. Let me see if we can’t find a sitter.”
“Excellent. We’ll be congregating by the bar when you get there. Now I just have to go convince Garrison to come out with us.”
“Good luck with that,” Trent said, pulling his glasses down. “He’s on the verge of becoming a warrior monk.”
“Not if I have anything to say about it,” Carponti mumbled as he strolled out of his commander’s office. He wished he hadn’t seen the flicker of worry that flashed in his commander’s eyes when he’d mentioned his wife. He’d thought that Laura and Trent were one of the strongest couples he knew. She’d put up with him deploying back to back to back since he’d almost died a few years ago.
But that flicker of worry? Yeah, Carponti hadn’t missed it. There were problems there, hopefully small ones that Trent would take time to fix after this rotation into the sandbox.
Carponti looked down at his own wedding ring. It was his last night home and his last night with his wife.
He was glad he’d convinced her to come out with him and the boys. That way he could make sure they had a most excellent party and spend time with Nicole at the same time. He was going to spend part of  the night chaperoning his guys to make sure they made the most of it—which meant making sure no one ended up in jail—but then? Then the time he had left was going to be spent making his wife laugh.
Because try though he might, he couldn’t shake the quiet dread that settled in the pit of his stomach that tonight was the last night of normalcy he had on this earth.

Nicole Carponti breathed deeply and fanned her eyes, trying to stop the burning of hot tears. She leaned against the wall of the bathroom in Ropers and tried to stuff down all the churning emotions chained to the fact that her husband was leaving for war tomorrow. Again.
The first time he’d left she’d been scared, but then the war, the deployment…the waiting…it had all been unknown. She’d worked on finishing her degree and kept herself busy and waited by the phone like all the military wives who had gone before her.
The second time he’d left, she’d known better what to expect. The long waits between phone calls. The silence when he couldn’t talk long. The quick e-mails saying “I’m alive” that once upon a time would have been too little, but during the war were more than enough to keep her going.
But this time? This time was different. The Surge was different. They were sending in massive amounts of soldiers to try to quell the Iraqi insurgency. It was bloody and deadly and soldiers were getting attacked at higher rates than at any earlier time during the war.
And Nicole was terrified.
She had to hide it, though. She’d agreed to come out with him tonight just because it gave her a chance to pretend that she was fine. She had to keep everything in check until after he left. She couldn’t let him know how much she worried this time.
Fanning her eyes once more, she stepped out of the bathroom and into the rowdy country bar. A place like this was guaranteed trouble on a normal night, but tonight her husband’s platoon was rolling deep. Which was either going to be a really good thing or a really bad thing for her future job at the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division, depending on how cantankerous tonight got.
She spotted her good friend Laura Davila at the bar with a cute blond woman Nicole had met in the bathroom a little while ago. She had already completely forgotten the other woman’s name. She was terrible with names.
She wound her way through the pulsating crowd until she reached them. Laura grinned at her and she exclaimed, “I can’t believe you came out tonight.”
“You’ve already said this twice,” Laura said. They had to shout to hear each other.
Nicole flagged down the bartender and leaned around Laura to her friend. “I’m a terrible person but I already forgot your name. I’m Nicole Carponti.”
The petite blond held out her hand. “Jen St. James.”
“Nice to meet you, Jen. I won’t forget this time,” Nicole said with a smile.
Laura leaned toward Nicole. “I’m trying to get her out of her shell. She had cancer and she’s been struggling with her self-esteem ever since.”
Nicole frowned, glancing toward Jen, who was now trying to get the attention of the bartender. On the other side of her, though, was Garrison, her husband’s platoon sergeant. He was a big man and he was currently leaning down to talk to Jen. “How’s that for a self-esteem boost?” Nicole said, gesturing toward the two.
Laura glanced over, then quickly looked away before she was caught. Her eyes lit with a brilliant smile. “Oh, that couldn’t be more perfect if I had planned it.”
Nicole studied her friend through narrowed eyes. “Did you plan it?”
“I wish. But let’s just see how this little situation develops, shall we?”
Nicole raised her beer in mock salute to her friend. “You, m’dear, are a devious and loyal friend.”
“I’ll drink to that,” Laura said. “So how’s Carponti taking this deployment?”
Nicole heard the undercurrent in her friend’s voice. “You know how he is. Always cracking jokes, which I suppose is a good thing. I’m fucking terrified, though.”
“Yeah, I know. I’ve been talking to some of the spouses. The Surge has everyone terrified. One of the spouses told me it was a death sentence.” Laura took a sip from her beer, scanning the bar.
Nicole scoffed quietly. “How’s that for melodramatic?” But she didn’t voice her own fear that this deployment was going to be worse than the previous ones. “I don’t envy you as the Family Readiness Group leader.”
“Oh, come on, don’t you want to volunteer? You can be responsible for keeping me from going crazy. It’s a primary duty position, you know.”
Nicole laughed. “Not in this lifetime,” she said. “I always feel out of place once the spouses find out I’m pretty much a cop.”
Jen leaned over, rejoining their conversation as Shane wandered off in the direction of Laura’s husband. “What’s going on over there?” she said, pointing at Laura’s husband.
Nicole sighed heavily and took another drink. “Oh joy. Looks like Trent is giving one of his lieutenants some love. Couldn’t have the rest of the night without drama, could we?” She glanced back at Laura and Jen. “We should go interrupt before the second round of fireworks go off.”
Earlier Vic had gotten into an argument with Lieutenant Randall and now it looked like Laura's husband was finishing things off with the arrogant prick. The LT made Nicole’s skin crawl and she wasn’t looking forward to another bar fight. Not two in one night, that was for sure.
But whatever had happened was over now. She watched as LT Randall made a beeline for the door. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Garrison talking to Jen again. And Laura? Once Randall was gone, she and her husband moved off to a dark corner of the bar and were deep in conversation.
She hoped it was a good one. She didn’t like the worry she’d seen in her friend’s eyes when she talked about her husband.
She snuck up behind Vic, sliding her hands over his hips and up his t-shirt and the smooth hard skin of his body, placing a kiss at the little indentation at the indentation between his shoulder blades.
He turned and wrapped his arms around her shoulders. “There you are.” He kissed her fiercely, reminding her of how much she loved this man. “I was about to send out a search party for you in the little girls’ room.”
Nicole wrapped her arms around his waist and lifted her chin to meet his eyes. He was leaner than he’d been when he’d come home last year. His body was more solid from long ruck marches and hard training for this deployment. His eyes, though, were the same bright, mischievous green that they’d always been and she counted herself lucky that whatever he’d gone through in the war, he’d come home okay so far. She just prayed their luck held.
“No search party required,” she murmured against his lips. “I was talking to Laura. I’m impressed that you got Garrison and Trent to come out.”
“You should be,” Carponti grumbled, biting her bottom lip gently. “I had to guilt both of them into it. It’s like they both turned thirty and amputated their fun genes or something.”
Nicole laughed against his mouth. “Dance with me?” she asked.
“What in our history makes you think I know how to dance?” he grumbled even as he allowed her to lead him onto the dance floor.
“You’ll figure it out,” she said, sliding her arms around his neck. She rubbed her body against his, sensuously moving her hips in time with the music.
He dropped his hands to her hips, guiding her exactly where he wanted her. “Keep that up and we’ll have to sneak out to the car,” he said, his breath hot on her ear.
She nibbled on his bottom lip, biting it gently. “I think you’re trying to seduce me,” she whispered. She dug her fingers into his back, her blood humming with latent arousal. God but she loved this man.
“I’m absolutely trying to seduce you,” he said. He angled his thigh between hers, pressing close to the juncture of her thighs. The pressure sent vibrations through her body and straight to her core.
“I’m kind of ready to go home.” Her words were a gasp as he rubbed his thigh against her swollen center. “Before you get into any more fights with your lieutenant.”
“Can we not talk about work when I’m trying to turn you on?” he mumbled. He slipped his hand beneath the hem of her shirt, stroking his thumb down the centerline of her back. A shiver ran through her.
“You don’t want to talk about work? That doesn’t turn you on?” She undulated against him, grateful for the crush of bodies that swayed around them and enabled them to be lost in the crowd.
“No, trying to get you naked turns me on,” he said. “We really need to get out of here.” His breath traced over her ear a moment before he bit her earlobe gently, a fierce burst of pleasure in the pain.
“That sounds like a brilliant idea.”
He sighed as a commotion cleared a corner of the dance floor. “I hate being one of the responsible adults.” He kissed her hard. “Let me get everyone out of here first? That way no one goes to jail on our last night in the States.”
She kissed him fiercely. “I’ll be waiting over here for you to get done being all caveman.”
“I’ll show you caveman later,” he said with a grin before wading into the crowd and diffusing the situation between Garrison and Trent.
It took the better part of an hour before they’d shuffled everyone off to their respective cabs and vehicles. Nicole talked with Laura and Jen and tried not to notice how Jen kept watching Garrison. Oh now wasn’t that interesting?
It felt like forever before her husband strolled across the parking lot and scooped her up, carrying her toward their vehicle.
Their car was parked deep in a shadowed corner of the parking lot, and the moment her husband closed the door Nicole crawled into his lap on the passenger’s seat. He pulled her close, kissing her hard and fast. Pouring a thousand unsaid things into that kiss. His hand threaded into her hair and he slanted her mouth until he owned her—all of her—and she was lost in his taste, his touch.
Then he broke off abruptly. “What the hell?”
“Who is that with Garrison?”
Nicole twisted around in time to see Garrison, one of Carponti’s oldest friends, lean in to kiss Jen.
“Oh now that’s interesting,” Carponti whispered.
Nicole spun around. “Don’t you say anything to him,” she said.
“Why not?”
“Because this is the first time Garrison has done anything for himself since his wife left him. Leave him alone.”
Carponti blinked innocently. “What makes you think I would say anything?” he said. His words slurred and Nicole grinned before fishing around in his pockets for his car keys. “A little more to the left.”
Nicole laughed then climbed into the driver’s seat as Garrison stepped back, letting Jen walk to an ancient sedan. “She’s cute. She’s friends with Laura.”
Laura, who was being carried across the parking lot by her husband. She hoped for Laura’s sake the happiness lasted longer than just tonight. The war was taking its toll on everyone, and Nicole had noticed more than once that there was a strain in her friend’s voice when she talked about her husband.
Vic just looked at her. “Oh really?”
Nicole drove them away before her husband could interrupt what had looked like something very sweet between Jen and Garrison. She’d known Garrison as long as she’d known her husband and it was long overdue for him to find someone that made him happy outside of the army.
She glanced at her husband, who had closed his eyes the moment the vehicle started moving, a lazy smile on his lips. Something warm bloomed inside her.
She wished Garrison could find the kind of happy that she had with Vic.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Auction of Original Sinners books

One of my very best friends on this earth is in the process of raising money to go on a Bible Study trip to Israel next year. The total cost of the trip, including airfare is almost $4,000. She has dreamed about traveling to Israel and studying and walking where Jesus walked and taught pretty much since I’ve known her, and I’m sure it was in her heart long before then. The Bible Study is a 14-week long study, with the final 2 weeks taking place in Israel. She has a number of fund raising ideas, and her first fundraising endeavor is a yard sale the first weekend in August. While I’m donating many of my books (almost 500), clothes and shoes to her yard sale, and am giving her money to help with her trip, I just felt like I needed to try to help her in a bigger way.

I decided I would get in touch with Tiffany Reisz and see if she would be okay with me auctioning off a set of her Original Sinners books. I know authors can’t always travel to their readers, so this is a chance to get a set of her signed books to one reader. She gave me the okay and I’ve bought the books and will be taking them to her Lexington, KY signing on August 3. So my auction to help my friend Melissa get to Israel next year is signed copies of The Siren, The Angel, The Prince, and The Mistress. I know there are many readers of Tiffany’s books that would love to own a signed set of these books and want to help my friend out as much as possible. I’m not sure I can say thank you enough times to Tiffany for helping my friend Melissa out by allowing me to auction off a set of her books.

The bidding for the auction will run from July 21, 2013 (Sunday) to July 28, 2013 (Sunday).  I will notify the winner on July 28, 2013. Please include your email address with your bids in your comment so I can contact the winner at the end of the auction. Payment will need to be made via Pay Pal, and I will cover shipping cost to the winner of the auction. Payment must be received before I travel to the Lexington signing to get the books signed to an individual. I’ll ship the books to the winner On August 7.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Aspen House

Immediately after graduating from college, Miranda Morton suffered a severe illness. Now she has 100 dollars in her bank account and is on the verge of homelessness. That’s why she accepts a job she’s totally not qualified for: personal chef to rock god Michael de Bracy at a remote mountain retreat. Although Miranda expects to face challenges in cooking for de Bracy and his five friends, her real problems turn out to be much more serious: three people are viciously murdered with an ax during a freak snowstorm, and no one sees or hears a thing.

Now Miranda finds herself stranded in the mountains with a killer. Even worse, she thinks the killer might be the man she’s fallen head over heels for, Michael de Bracy. Can Miranda protect herself and her heart until the police arrive?

Excerpt from The Aspen House

A job interview with rock stars…

"Excuse me, but you wouldn’t happen to know where I could find Candy Bowersocks, would you?” Miranda unfolded the piece of paper Therese had given her. “I’m here about the personal chef position.”
When Miranda looked up, the librarian’s stare was frosty. “There are no personal chef openings. You’ll have to try somewhere else.”
Just then there was a shout from above. Miranda started and glanced into the suite in time to see someone take a flying leap from the loft railing into the sitting room below, as if they were jumping off a diving board. A crowd of people dressed uniformly in black t-shirts and jeans watched and cheered, even as Miranda put her hand to her mouth and shouted in alarm.
Then she saw the bright pink bungee cord attached to the harness around the man’s torso. He bounced just short of the couch with an exuberant, “Woohoo!” A second later, an ominous cracking sound echoed through the suite. When he bounced at the end of the cord a second time, the railing gave way and the man landed in a heap on the couch, which shuddered and cracked beneath him, splinters and heavy wood from the broken railing cascading onto his back.
There were a few gasps and shouts of, “Are you all right, man?” from above. Miranda herself started forward instinctively to check on him, but halted in her tracks when she saw a man in a thin blue t-shirt step out of one of the lower-floor rooms. His eyes were shadowed—not because of his preternaturally long eyelashes but from lack of sleep—and his skinny arms were covered in tattoos.
It was Michael de Bracy.
“You know, Val, if you wanted to kill yourself, it would be less expensive and messy if you did it outside,” he drawled.

Author Bio:
Ellis Drake worked in museums as a curator and researcher for several years before she realized that she wanted to write mysteries. 

Where to find Ellis: Blog | Twitter  | Goodreads | Amazon Author Page

Buy Link: Amazon

Tour stops:

July 15 
Dina Rae's Write Stuff   Review
July 16 
Blogging By Liza-Excerpt
July 17 
Busy Moms Book Reviews  Excerpt/Review
July 18  
Over A Cuppa Tea Review/Guest Post
July 19 
Succotash Reviews Review/Excerpt
July 20 
My Cozie Corner  Guest Post