Sunday, April 30, 2017

May 2017 Book of Choice Giveaway Hop

 
Enter this giveaway for a chance to win a May 2017 book of your choice worth $16. Good luck!
 

 
The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.

 

Book Review - Block & Tackle by Elisa Faber, Stephanie Fournet and Kristin Vayden

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Review by Suze

Offsides by Elise Faber

Becca works hard to earn her money and she badly needs it. She has a temporary position at Prestige Media Group. She dreams of Devon, her handsome boss. When her ex starts to bother Becca more and more Devon tries to be there for her. Becca really likes him, but he's her boss and she isn't supposed to fall in love with him. He is gorgeous though and it's clear he enjoys spending time with her. Do they have a chance?

Offsides is a sweet romantic story. I immediately loved both Becca and Devon. They work hard and have good hearts. They're generous people, which is something I definitely liked. They have an easy connection and there's plenty of wonderful chemistry. It's clear they belong together and I couldn't wait to find out if they'd have their happily ever after.

Elise Faber has written a cute and sexy story. I always love it when main characters obviously belong to each other from the moment they meet. Becca has a lot on her plate and I liked the combination of the seriousness of her situation and the way Devon fits into her life and makes it better. Offsides is a lovely story and I enjoyed reading it very much.

Off Guard by Stephanie Fournet

Charlie is happy with her new job at Prestige Media Group. There's only one rule she has to stick to and that is not to fall in love with one of their clients. When Charlie meets Hutch she has no idea he's one of Prestige's athletes. She soon finds out she even has to organize his party. She tries to stay away from Hutch, but he's persistent. Will she be able to resist his charms or will she lose her job?

Charlie is determined to stay slim after not running professionally any longer. She makes things quite difficult for herself and that is how she meets the man of her dreams. I love stories about love at first sight and Off Guard is definitely a good one. Hutch wants to help Charlie while he's also trying to make her notice him. That was endearing to witness. He's very sweet and he's the perfect man for Charlie. I loved their story from the beginning.

Stephanie Fournet has written a story about a difficult topic. Her writing never becomes heavy, but it has a clear message, which is something I loved. The romantic side of her story is amazing and she perfectly balances lightheartedness and seriousness. Off Guard is a great story with fascinating main characters. It also has a fabulous endearing ending. Reading this story put a big smile on my face.

Off Limits by Kristin Vayden

Ava and Bryce are twins. Markus is Bryce's best friend and works for the Prestige Media Group. After an injury he's trying to get Bryce's football career back on track again, but Ava knows how dangerous it is for her brother to do this and she blames Markus. For Markus Ava has always been the one, but she isn't speaking to him anymore. Will he have a chance to make things right with the woman of his dreams?

It's obvious that Markus loves Ava and they are fantastic together, but there's one little issue, Ava is angry with him. Markus is trying to make her like him again. She means so much to him and I found that incredibly adorable. They are soul mates, but Markus has to work to earn Ava's love and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to find out if he'd succeed.

Kristin Vayden has written a terrific romantic story. She combines a charming relationship with a serious warning about sports injuries. I loved that combination. Her story has a feel-good atmosphere, while she still educates her readers. I really admired that combination. Off Limits is a fun and flirty story with a nice layer of depth.

Advice

If you love reading romantic stories about gorgeous athletes you will definitely like Block & Tackle.

Book Review - Mom! The Monsters! by Liliana Cinetto and Poly Bernatene

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Review by Anniek


There is a little boy who is afraid to go to sleep because of all the monsters, ghosts and other scary things he sees. When he talks about it with his mother, it turns out that he doesn't have to be afraid because his mommy will protect him against all the bad things.

Almost every child has a vivid imagination and each parent has to deal with monsters and ghosts at one time or another. Mom! The Monsters! shows in a playful way that there is nothing to be afraid of. Mommy (or daddy) will chase or send them away, so that everyone can go to bed safely. This book really made an impression on my son. He talks about monsters a lot, but because of reading this book he remembers that he doesn't have to be scared and we never have any trouble to put him to bed. This book makes the monsters funny and is a great way to let your child know that everything is all right and that nothing creepy is lurking in the shadows.

Advice

Mom! The Monsters! is a fabulous book for highly imaginative children.

Because I Was Lonely by Hayley Mitchell - Interview & Book Review

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 Book Blurb

Meet Rachel. She is caught in a spiral of endless crying, dirty nappies, and sleepless nights. She fears for her sanity and the safety of her children.

She's lonely.

Meet Adam. Suffering from the pain and trauma of a terrible accident that he blames himself for, he stays at home, unable to bring himself to leave the house.

He's lonely.

So when Rachel and Adam rekindle their long lost friendship online, what starts as a little harmless flirtation, soon becomes an unhealthy obsession, and slowly the threads of their lives unravel before them.

Four lonely people . Two unhappy marriages . One dangerous, but inevitable climax.
 
About Hayley Mitchell
 

Hayley Mitchell spends most of the time writing books in her head and was finally able to put finger to keyboard and capture some of the words in the form of her debut novel Because I Was Lonely. A Law graduate she has spent most of her life working with people and much of her career as an advice worker for charities. Always fascinated by people and their relationships she began to write fiction. She is very lucky to live in Wiltshire with her husband, whose support has been invaluable and their two children who amuse, inspire and exhaust her everyday. She is now writing her second novel.
 
Links

Interview

1) Could you tell us four random facts about you?

 I once went on stage and sung Valerie in front of a large crowd at Bruton Packhorse Fair with a live Karaoke Band, they play you sing…ALONE!! I did have some cider before I did it, I needed a bit of West Country courage as I was shaking from head to toe, but my husband dared me and I’ve never been one to shirk from a dare! I was followed by Michael Evis and to be honest I’m not sure who gave the worst performance.

I’m a keen amateur photographer. Everything has to be black and white.

I love my Mountain Bike. I try to get up to Scotland once a year as the tracks in the Cairngorms are fantastic, not too extreme for me but you can go for miles in isolation with just trees, mountains, fresh air and wildlife for company. We get up early before the kids are out of bed I go for an hour then my husband goes for an hour because the kids are too young to leave yet. If we get chance to go together we are a bit competitive so it’s probably safer to go alone, it’s also fantastic mind space, quiet and a wonderful time just to think.

I’m quite fond of a good music festival except the festival hair! I hate my festival hair!!

2) You write about grief and depression in a beautiful way, what inspired you to write about this difficult topic?


Death was sadly everywhere at the time. I think it helped me, it was cathartic and provided that release that Rachel and Adam don’t get in the book. I lost both my parents within a couple of years of each other and sadly my cousin took his own life. I couldn’t escape the grief so I wrote about it instead.

Death and depression are two subjects that we just don’t talk about enough. We can’t hide from death yet we rarely voice our feelings on the subject, we often see prolonged grief as a weakness as we do depression. I think if we were all a little more open about our feelings then life would be more straightforward. All of us have days when we feel like we can’t cope. Sometimes all we need is a hug and someone to talk to, but if you don’t get this then your emotions can spiral downward. I’m lucky to be surrounded by a support network who helped me through that very difficult period of my life, unlike my characters, yet I still have days when the death of my Mum floors me. It makes my whole body hurt and there is no escape from the pain you just have to live in that moment until it passes.

3) Could you describe the main characters of Because I Was Lonely in six words each?

Rachel – Lonely, irrational, desperate, exhausted, angry, hurt.

Adam- Lonely, grieving, self-absorbed, obsessive, sad, needy.

David- Lonely, selfish, loyal (to his parents) confused, detached, hard- working.

Julia- Lonely, strong yet vulnerable, lonely, disappointed, faithful, driven.

I think they were all very different people before life became difficult. If I described them before it would be:

Rachel- Fun, insecure, loving, complicated, happy to party.

Adam- Calm, hard working, insecure, chilled, happy, relaxed.

David- Focused, confident, loving, lacking empathy, happy, loved.

Julia- Focused, hard working, driven, needing to be loved.

4) Your characters aren't perfect, they're human with plenty of problems and emotions, why have you chosen this approach?

I love fairy tales but I don’t think I could write them. I get annoyed with righteous characters because they are too good to be true and I presume they are hiding something! I think my perception of humanity may be warped by working in the family section of a court for many years and it has made me a little cynical, however I am a great believer that people can redeem themselves and once you forgive someone you should work hard on leaving the past behind.

Things are rarely what they seem at first glance, people and their relationships are complicated, often transient, sometimes convenient but the ending of them is rarely the fault of just one party. I wanted real characters but I think my characters would be very different people if they just felt loved and valued. It’s something we all respond to. A good relationship, whether it’s with a friend, family, partner or children requires investment in time and emotion. Listening and talking are essential. My characters talk but not to the right people and not in the right way.

5) What's the best writing advice you've ever been given?

Keep going!

6) Could you describe your writing process?

I write in the mornings after a quick check on the social media and emails. I write in short bursts, a lot of coffee and water are consumed. First drafts are chaotic and incomprehensible sometimes even to me! I re-draft multiple times and envy anyone who can get it almost there on the first draft.

I’m driven by the responses of the characters as I write I don’t plan so the story follows on from how they react to a given situation. Sometimes they surprise me, which makes me sound a little bit insane. Although, in my defence, I do spend a lot of time thinking like my characters, it’s a bit strange when I’m writing a man in his forties! I do spend time thinking about the clothes they might wear, the car they would like, their interests, music, what their house would look like and what their favourite food and drink would be, so as I write I respond as them. If that makes sense?

7) Where do you read and where do you write?

I mostly read in bed but if I’m reading a particularly good book have been known to lock myself in the loo just so I can finish it in peace although the kids generally find me!

I write at my desk, when I edit or re draft I sometimes go to the kitchen table or the sofa. If I’m stuck I go out and sit in a coffee shop with my laptop. The laptop is a cover for listening in on other people’s conversations.

8) You write about two people who find each other again through Facebook, where did you get the idea for this part of your story?

A conversation on a train but trust me the book doesn’t even touch the surface as far as how bizarre that conversation was!! It’s not the story of Because I Was Lonely, my characters already existed they were just in the wrong story. The conversation gave me the idea of obsession.

9) What are your plans for the future?

I’m just over half way through the first draft of my second book. I sold my small business in December so I’m taking a few months to write full time but if it doesn’t work out then I will be writing my CV ! I have a fantastically supportive husband who has agreed to this as long as I do all the cooking!
 
Book review
By Suze
 
 
Rachel and David used to have a lot of fun together and they were very close. After starting a family and having two kids things changed. Rachel is no longer the confident woman she used to be. She's depressed, doesn't care about her looks any longer and is struggling with the care of two small children. She's on her own as David has withdrawn himself from their family. He works long hours and doesn't support his wife at all. He comes home every night, but isn't really there in spirit.

Adam used to be a jovial man who got along with everyone. He's married to the ambitious and critical Julia and they have a family. After a terrible accident their life changed. He was too traumatized to be the person he once was and he's now obsessively compulsive and has nothing to look forward to. Julia escaped this life of doom and gloom and is working and living somewhere else during the week. Adam can do nothing right and this doesn't help him heal.

Adam and Rachel used to be best friends when they were students. When Adam sends Rachel a friendship request on Facebook she accepts. They discover that talking to each other is easy. It makes the loneliness and boredom disappear. Because they live far away from each other they keep themselves happy with texts, but for how long can it continue without consequences, what effect does their renewed connection have on their daily life?

Because I Was Lonely is a raw emotional story. Adam and Rachel are both depressed and Hayley Mitchell writes about their problems in an open and honest way. I was surprised by the amount of detail she gives and sometimes it shocked me, but I also admired the way the information is being presented. Adam and Rachel's text message are versatile, sometimes they are sad and sometimes flirtatious, but from time to time they're mean and jealous too. They have many different emotional layers and that makes the story interesting to read.

Adam is a good guy who has lost himself and Rachel is lost inside herself, which makes them have a lot in common. There was already a connection a long time ago, but now it's even deeper because of everything they've been through. Hayley Mitchell's story is realistic, it's something that could easily have happened to two people who are alone and desperate. I loved that she's chosen such a serious and difficult topic for her book and think she's turned it into an excellent story. I learned about a side of Facebook I'd never given any consideration and I loved the originality of it.

Hayley Mitchell's writing flows easily. I liked that there are four points of view, which makes it possible to get to know all the main characters through and through. Most of the story focuses on Adam and Rachel, but their spouses, Julia and David, have a voice as well. This gives an objective insight in the situation. Hayley Mitchell doesn't judge, she just tells their story, which is something I applaud. She writes about the black and the white and the many shades of grey in between in an equally fascinating way and there's never any blame and there aren't imposed opinions. To me that felt like being enabled to look through someone's window while being able to hear and see their conversations. I think that's fantastic. Because I Was Lonely is very special and I absolutely loved this unusual, complex story.

Jilly Jilly Space & Book Lovers Mug and Notebook Sets Giveaway

 
 
Enter this giveaway for a chance to win a Book Lovers mug and notebook and a Space mug and notebook made by Jilly Jilly. Good luck!
 
 
The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

They Call Me Alexandra Gastone & My Name is Milena Rokva by T.A. Maclagan - Book Reviews, Interview & Giveaway

Reviews by Suze
 
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Milena Rokva is a trained spy. She was given to Perun when she was a little girl. She had to leave her home country Olissa to become Alexandra Gastone. She's living with Albert, Alexandra's grandfather. He hadn't seen his granddaughter in years and the switch was made after a terrible car accident that killed Alexandra's parents. Albert works for the CIA and that is how Milena is supposed to steal secrets. Life isn't so hard. Milena is on standby, so her only job is to pretend to be Alexandra. Alexandra is smart enough to get into Princeton, she has a gorgeous boyfriend and Albert is kind and fun to live with. Just when Milena's allowing herself to make plans for her future Perun wants to activate her and they have a dangerous job for her.

Milena tries to keep her identity a secret, but that isn't easy when you share a home with someone from the CIA. Her boyfriend is also getting more suspicious with each lie she tells him. Unfortunately active spy duty isn't what Milena expected it to be at all. She isn't there to pass on secret information, Perun has a completely different job for her, they want her to do something that makes her question everything they stand for. Milena has to choose between the country of her childhood and the country she's grown to love. What will Milena decide?

They Call Me Alexandra Gastone is a gripping story. I liked T.A. Maclagan's vivid writing and immediately fell in love with this story. Milena is tough, she can fight and she's clever. She also has a big heart and the capacity to love people deeply is her strength and weakness. She has some tough decisions to make and I couldn't wait to find out where they would lead her. Her story kept me on the edge of my seat and I loved it from beginning to end.

T.A. Maclagan's fighting scenes are fabulous. I could easily picture all of Milena's adventures. I also understood her thinking. I enjoyed reading about the bad guys, the motivations behind their actions and their willingness to go as far as they would need to without any scruples. There's much adrenaline in the story and the fast pace is exactly as it should be. They Call Me Alexandra Gastone is a fantastic book.
 
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Milena Rokva doesn't have to pretend she's Alexandra Gastone anymore. She's no longer a pawn in Perun's game. Instead she's working against them together with Alexandra's grandfather Albert and his CIA colleague Brad. They have a clear mission, but when Milena discovers who her opponents actually are the situation becomes much more personal than she would have ever imagined.

While trying to be a good girlfriend and a dutiful granddaughter Milena also has to discover who she really is. She doesn't hesitate in a crisis and knows what to do to get the job done, but that doesn't mean she doesn't feel anything. Perun has failed in that aspect, she isn't a coldhearted person who can kill without a problem. Milena's heart is her strongest asset. After everything she's given up will she eventually be able to be truly free or will Perun take everything she holds dear from her once more?

My Name is Milena Rokva is another fantastic action-packed story. T.A. Maclagan has written two amazing books. I immediately liked this second book and enjoyed it just as much as They Call Me Alexandra Gastone. The secrets, the lies and the inevitable coming out of the truth are sensational. Milena finally has the chance to be herself and she has a great personality. I loved witnessing the gradual change and she becomes a stronger person because of it. Her heart is what makes her unique though, she loves fiercely and passionately. That's what gives the story the spirit that makes it so good.

T.A. Maclagan's writing flows easily. I read this duology in one sitting, because I was extremely curious to know how the story would end. There are many unexpected twists and turns and I loved the level of suspense. The ending is surprising and T.A. Maclagan gives her readers a couple of wonderful last chapters, which felt like receiving a birthday and Christmas gift at the same time. I liked these books very much and highly recommend them. There are plenty of thrills, unconditional love and complex political actions, there's a fascinating plot and the ending is sweet. The result is a fabulous complete package

Advice

If you like spy stories you don't want to miss this amazing duology.
 
About T.A. Maclagan
 

T.A. Maclagan is a Kansas girl by birth but now lives in the bush-clad hills of Wellington, New Zealand with her Kiwi husband, son and four pampered cats. With a bachelor’s degree in biology and a Ph.D. in anthropology, she’s studied poison dart frogs in the rainforests of Costa Rica, howler monkeys in Panama and the very exotic and always elusive American farmer. It was as she was writing her ‘just the facts’ dissertation that T.A. felt the call to pursue something more imaginative and discovered a passion for creative writing. They Call Me Alexandra Gastone is her first novel.
 
Interview

1. Can you tell a bit about yourself?

I’m an expat American living in New Zealand, a country I adore. It’s postcard beautiful at every turn. I’m married and have an adorable little hobbit who calls me mom. I have a Ph.D. in Anthropology that I used for a grand total of 3 years before deciding academia wasn’t for me, but I wouldn’t change a thing because it led me to NZ, my husband and to writing.

2. You write about spies, what’s so fascinating about them?

I love the issues of identity that come with being a spy. I especially loved exploring them for my character Alexandra, who is a teen and has been trained as a spy from a very young age. Who are you if you’re always pretending to be someone else? Your teen years are about discovering and forming your identity, but how does that work as a spy? Also, what kind of relationships can you form if you can never be truly honest with the people around you? I found questions like these really drove me as I was writing.

3. How did you get the idea for the Alexandra Gastone duology?

I was watching the movie Salt with Angelina Jolie. She plays a Russian sleeper who was inserted into the US as a child with the goal being her pursuing a career in the CIA as an adult. The movie shows a small snippet of her as kid before her insertion and this got me thinking about what it would be like to be a teen sleeper agent and what might go down if they had to be activated early. I wasn’t writing anything creatively at this point, but that’s when I got the idea for the story!

4. You’ve studied and traveled a lot, what kind of influence does that have on your writing?

I love traveling because I think you learn so much when you’re amongst people of another culture, both about them and about yourself. It’s good to wander out of your comfort zone every now and again! I definitely love to throw in international settings in my writing as well as have characters from different cultures. As an ex-anthropologist, I find culture fascinating and hope to spark people’s interest in exploration and adventure abroad.

5. Can you describe Alexandra Gastone’s character in 6 words?

Kick-ass heroine with an identity crisis. (I cheated a little with the hyphenated word)

6. How/When did you discover you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always made up stories in my head but the thought of writing a book was something that never occurred to me. It was too daunting. But then I had to write my dissertation and it was over 300 pages…and really, really boring. That got me thinking that if I could write 300 + pages of mostly coherent anthropological mumbo jumbo, then I could and should write something that was actually fun, something with a girl kicking butt and a side-order of romance!

7. Your heroine is smart and strong, what’s so important about powerful female main characters?

I want my characters to be role models. I want girls and women to know that they have power and are awesome. The way women are treated as second class citizens still, in this day and age, amazes me. We as women have come far, but not far enough. Growing up, there were a number of female fictional characters that influenced me: Wonder Woman, Buffy, Nikita, Veronica Mars. It was partially my love of characters like these that made me believe I could do anything. I had real life heroes too, like Jane Goodall that also made me believe, but fictional characters played a big part in shaping me into someone who’s not going to take sexism lying down.

8. What are your favorite kind of books and why?


As you can probably guess from my previous answers, I love a good story where the heroine kicks butt. I love Katniss and Tris for example. More recently, I loved Winter from Vicarious. That said, the book I’m currently working on is a non-thriller contemporary with no murder and mayhem, so I’ve been reading a lot of YA coming-of-age contemporaries like I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson and I’m finding that I love them just as much. Nelson, Green, Albertalli, Federle are all authors who have wowed me. I read a fair amount before writing Alexandra Gastone, mainly mysteries, but it wasn’t until I found YA that my reading really exploded. I went from reading maybe 35 books a year to reading over a 100. I’d found my genre. So I guess, generally speaking, my favorite kind of books are young adult.

9. When and how do you write, do you have an organized schedule or do you write when you get inspired?

I definitely fall into the organized schedule category! Now that I’ve found writing, I pretty much want to do it every day. I sit down around 9 am after I’ve dropped my son at school and try to get a good two to three hours of writing in. As much as I love writing, if I don’t get it done early in the day, it won’t get done. My mind gets too cluttered with other things and I can’t focus.

10. What are your plans for the future?


My main plan is to write lots more books. If someone had told me as a teen that I’d be pursuing a career as an author, I would have told them they were crazy. I was pretty much biology or bust. But I’m more than a little thankful my path led me to writing. It brings me so much joy and pleasure. I’m currently plotting out a new thriller in preparation!
 
Giveaway 

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One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive Kindle copies of They Call Me Alexandra Gastone and My Name is Milena Rokva.
 
 
The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.

With Love For Romantic Books: The Trouble With Emma by Katie Oliver - Book Review, Interview & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

Emma is still living at home with her father, while her two sisters, Lizzy and Charlotte, have moved out. Emma has a part-time job at a bakery for two days a week and besides that she doesn't have much else to do. She used to run her father's household, but her father has hired Martine to take care of the cleaning and baking instead. He doesn't really have money to pay for a housekeeper, as he isn't rich and the vicarage they're living in is falling apart. To do something about it Emma contacts a television show called Mind Your Manors. If a manor is being chosen for their program there will be money to pay for repairs and the makers will come up with a plan for the property to become profitable. It's exactly what Emma's family needs. Being chosen is a big surprise, but definitely a welcome one.

Emma thinks Martine is a lovely girl. She's cute, but Emma thinks she could be stunning and gives her a makeover. This isn't the only thing she does though, she's determined to find a good man for Martine, someone rich and handsome. She's found the exact right person, but is Martine actually interested in this man? And what about Emma's own love life? She likes Mark, the writer and producer of Mind Your Manors, but finds him incredibly irritating at the same time. Will Emma find her own mister right or will she be too busy fixing other people's problems to notice what's right in front of her?

Emma is opinionated, proper, stiff, serious, stubborn, jealous and meddlesome. These aren't the best characteristics, but somehow I kept forgiving every mess she makes and I found her interfering very entertaining. Emma means well, but she doesn't listen to any good advice, she draws conclusions way too quickly and nobody can ever change her mind. This leads to a lot of funny misunderstandings. Emma is making things more difficult instead of better, but she doesn't mean to hurt anyone. She wants to help, but isn't handling things well at all. I loved this aspect of the story. She's quite obstinate and Mark is a good match. He doesn't let Emma walk all over him, he isn't afraid to tell her the truth and he's just as grumpy as she is. They are fabulous together and there are plenty of sparks, just not only because they have chemistry, but also because they often bicker, which is another thing that greatly amused me.

Katie Oliver's writing has an easy flow. I love her unusual approach of the romantic genre. Her main characters have flaws, they don't always know their own hearts and they keep overestimating or underestimating others. This leads to plenty of awkward, humoristic and intriguing situations. There's always a little bit of chaos and Katie Oliver skillfully controls it, which makes her stories even more fabulous to read. I often wanted to tell Emma to open her eyes and shut her mouth, however, she's being as blinkered as she can be. This put a big smile on my face. She has a good heart and she wants everyone to be happy, but instead she makes mess after mess. I couldn't wait to see what would happen when she'd finally see sense. The Trouble With Emma is a wonderful romantic story with a sweet and fitting ending. I liked this charming and enjoyable story a lot.

Advice

If you love reading about the English countryside, family dynamics and stubborn main characters you will definitely like The Trouble With Emma. It's the second book in a series, but can be read as a standalone as well.


About Katie Oliver

 
Katie Oliver loves romantic comedies, characters who "meet cute," Richard Curtis films, and Prosecco (not necessarily in that order). She currently resides in South Florida with her husband and two parakeets.

Author links
 
Interview
 
1. Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
 
I'm a published writer, born in Washington DC more years ago than I'd like to admit. I have nine book babies and three more in utero (a series book proposal). Like most writers I'm insecure, i mainline coffee, and I either find inspiration everywhere, or on bad days, nowhere. My family keeps me grounded and my husband Mark is my biggest fan. He loves coffee, too.
 
2. What makes your heart beat faster?
 
A man who can make me laugh is hard to resist. A gorgeous smile. Kindness. An unexpected surprise, like flowers or going out for dinner or a movie. And a really thorough, really hot, back-up-against-the-wall kiss from a sexy guy never hurts, either. (Of course the sexy guy I'm referring to is my husband. Or maybe David Gandy...)
 
3. If you could create the perfect romantic day what would it look like?
 
It would start with coffee and croissants at a little French cafe, complete with aproned, rude waiters; a leisurely morning walk (holding hands, of course); watching a subtitled foreign film; a late lunch with amazing food and a shared bottle of wine; another film (action, this time, to appease Mr Oliver); followed by a stroll back home, where we'd fall into bed and make passionate (well, after such a busy day, probably semi-tired) love. Bliss!
 
4. Who are your favorite romantic couple?
 
Antony and Cleopatra - an intense relationship!
 
Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet - amusing and heart-wrenching
 
Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward - true, longstanding love
 
5. Could you describe what romance means to you?
 
Romance is, by definition,
noun

1. a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love.
"in search of romance"

2. a quality or feeling of mystery, excitement, and remoteness from everyday life.
"the beauty and romance of the night"

synonyms:

 
Romance is a given early in relationships, when both parties are starry-eyed and dizzy with their newfound love. Everything, from favorite foods and films to the exploration of your lover's body, is uncharted territory, with new discoveries to be made every day and every night.
 
As one gets older, romance changes slightly, but remains. When your loved one brings you an unasked-for cup of coffee, or makes you breakfast for no reason, or remembers to pick up the dry cleaning...those are the things that still melt my heart.
 
6. Do you find it difficult to write about romance?
 
Not at all! If I did, I'd probably write thrillers. They pay much better. Lol
 
Romance is something we all crave - men and women, gay and straight, transgender... it makes no difference. A couple is attracted to one another, they connect, they fall in love. And love truly does make the world go round. After all, without love, we as a species would die out. So romance is a vital and necessary thing.
 
7. Can you tell us about your most romantic experience?
 
On our second date, my husband took me to a wonderful restaurant overlooking the Potomac River. The Pilot House was a repurposed riverboat that sat right on the water and had the most delicious seafood. After a wonderful meal of crab-stuffed flounder followed by coffee and dessert, we held hands and walked along the docks. It was a beautiful night, a perfect evening, and it remains a treasured memory.
 
8. What kind of music do you like to listen to when you're in a romantic mood?
 
Chopin etudes; early Beatles ballads; jazz; blues.
 
9. Which country personifies romance for you and why?
 
The typical answer would be France, I suppose, or Monte Carlo, or Venice. But to me? No country offers more opportunities for romance than the United States.
 
From New York to San Francisco, from Texas and Montana to Florida, we've got romance covered. Is your idea of romance sharing a slice from a street vendor? Riding a carriage through Central Park? We've got it. Or maybe you'd prefer to ride a cable car, or browse Pike Place outdoor market together. We've got that, too. You can learn to surf at Laguna Beach or camp under the stars in Wyoming. You can eat beignets and watch the world go by at the Cafe du Monde in New Orleans. Romance is there for the taking.
 
10. What can we expect from you in the future?
 
More writing. More books. A new series. I have lots of ideas percolating in my brain. I'm genre jumping to romantic suspense with my next series, but I'll always come back to romantic comedy, because I love it.
 
Happy reading!
 
Giveaway

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One very lucky reader of With Love For Books will receive a signed copy of Prada and Prejudice by Katie Oliver and bookmarks.
 
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The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. Please add withloveforbooks@gmail.com to your list of approved email addresses. All of our giveaways are international.

Moonster Leather Journal - Review & Giveaway

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Review by Suze
 
This leather journal by Moonster is very pretty. I love the vintage look, the distressed leather is beautiful and the off white pages look really romantic. The materials that have been used are gorgeous and it has the most wonderful stitched binding.
 
 
The journal has a lot of pages, 240 (120 sheets) to be exact. The sheets can be used front and back as the thickness of the recycled cotton paper prevents bleeding. It's perfect for writers and would be suitable for both poetry and stories or it can be used as a fancy journal. I love the versatility of it. I highly recommend this stunning quality product.
 
Giveaway
 
One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive this fantastic journal.
 

 
The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Book Review - The Girl in the Garden by Melanie Wallace

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Review by Suze

Mabel has new guests, a man and a young girl with a baby, in one of her cabins and she doesn't particularly trust them. Her suspicions appear to be right, the man leaves the girl, June, together with her baby and doesn't return. Because June can't stay with Mabel she's being offered a cottage in Iris's garden. Iris is a recluse, but she does love kids and she wants to spend time with June's little boy. Iris's daughter lived in the cottage before June, but has moved out several years ago and never came back. Will June be happy in such a remote place and does her arrival make things better or worse for Iris?

June meets only kindness in her new surroundings, many of the locals are helping her in their own way. The cottage has a strange history. Before June moved in it was occupied by another teenager. Iris and her daughter couldn't live in the same space and her daughter moved out of the main house when she was still a young teenager. Iris hasn't seen her daughter ever since she left town when she was grown up enough to leave. Is there still a chance for them to make amends and what will happen to June, does she have a future with the people who have so generously taken her in?

The Girl in the Garden is a beautiful story. I was immediately impressed by Melanie Wallace's gorgeous prose. Her story enchanted me straight away and I loved the unusual circumstances of every main character. Melanie Wallace regularly changes her points of view and every character has a distinct voice and an interesting story to tell. It felt like I was allowed to take a peek in all of their lives, which is a great way to tell a story. Each person in The Girl in the Garden has wonderful characteristics and flaws, told in a way I found pretty factual. I enjoyed that aspect of the story especially, all of the characters have a strange history and they have their secrets, reasons for peculiar behavior and faults. They are human, but not perfect, which I absolutely loved.

The Girl in the Garden is a special story. June is really young. She's quite naïve and not world-wise at all and that has landed her in a tricky situation. Her arrival sets a series of events in motion and what was once broken has a chance to be mended, which is a wonderful thought. Every character had an easily definable worst moment with lasting consequences. However, not all of the aftereffects are bad. It is possible to heal and it's never too late to try and make something as right as possible. It's the gestures that count in this story and they always have some kind of result. I loved the thoughtfulness of it and was completely mesmerized by this fantastic book.

Advice

The Girl in the Garden is a perfect choice for readers who love beautiful sentences and original stories. 

With Love For Romantic Books: Sun on Sundays by Wendy Lou Jones - Book Review, Interview & Giveaway

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Review by Anniek
 
Carrie-Ann has been in love with Tom for many years. Tom is a bit older than she is, so they never really moved in the same circles. When the opportunity arises for Carrie-Ann to work with Maggie, a fierce lady in a wheelchair, she takes this chance immediately. Tom works on Maggie's farm, so Carrie-Ann is hoping that she'll regularly run into him. Now that she's an adult she hopes that age isn't an obstacle anymore. Will Tom finally start noticing her?

Tom has always lived in the same small town. His brother became a dentist and is doing well for himself. Tom is satisfied with having his own little home, that he's renovating himself while also still working on the farm. His parents are trying to set Tom up with women they consider a suitable match. At a party Tom meets the now grown up Carrie-Ann and he can't deny that he finds her incredibly attractive. However, there are obstacles in their way. What choices will Tom make when life takes an unexpected difficult turn?

Carrie-Ann is such a sweet girl. She's taking care of her mother and helps around the house. She comes from a humble home, but her mother has taught her to always hold her head up high. Every Sunday they go to church and Carrie-Ann hopes to see Tom there as well as on the farm. She has always dreamed of being a nurse and I kept wishing for her to go for her dream. She has worked hard for everything that has come her way and I admired that about her. Carrie-Ann keeps to herself most of the time, but she has so much to offer. She's the kind of person I would have loved to have as a sister.

Tom is a straightforward kind of guy. He knows what he wants in life, he just doesn't always know how to get it though. He's honorable and has set high standards for himself. Tom can't stand it when people are being treated poorly and he'll help out whenever he can. I liked that quality about him a lot. Sometimes I wanted to shake Tom, because I wanted him to open his eyes and see what's right in front of him. Tom is someone who will love unconditionally and fullheartedly, but he does need some directions every now and then. I really liked his complex and interesting character.

Sun on Sundays is a love story about finding your one true love. Love isn't always easy and doesn't come without sacrifices. Tom and Carrie-Ann are soul mates. I could feel the love they have for each other throughout the entire story. Sun on Sundays is the second book in the Echoes of Nutt Hill series. I love the fact that each of the books can be read as a standalone, but you'll meet all the lovely characters again at some point in the story, without missing out on anything. I'm a big fan of Wendy Lou Jones and Sun on Sundays is another one of her brilliant stories. She has a beautiful writing style and I think this series is very special.

Advice

Sun on Sundays is a heartbreaking love story with meddling goodhearted main characters and wonderful second chances.

Book trailer


About Wendy Lou Jones


I spent a happy childhood in West Sussex, where I avoided reading at all costs, so much so that my English teacher fell off her perch when I told her I got an A in my English lit. O-level (showing my age there!) “How did YOU get an A?” she was heard to exclaim.

I studied the sciences at A-level and managed to get through the university years without so much as a peek at a library (not entirely true, but pretty much.)

I worked as a doctor in my twenties and then dropped out to have kids. Having read about only one book a year through my teens, I was, by then, up to the dizzy heights of perhaps three? How on Earth did I end up here? Did I take a wrong turning somewhere in life? You might well think so. But what really happened was, one night, in my late 30s, I had a dream. As simple as that. A dream that inspired me. And I’ve been reading and writing ever since.

Author links

Website
Facebook
Twitter

Interview

1. Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

Hi, I’m Wendy. I’m a wife and a mother of 2 teenage boys. In my life pre-kids I used to be a hospital doctor, but now I’m a stay at home mum with passions for writing love stories and doing pole dancing!

2. What makes your heart beat faster?

My kids leaving pee all over the seat? Oh. You mean in a happy way. Guinea pigs. I love them. 50% of my Instagram feed is pictures and videos of guinea pigs. I used to keep them. They were my first love, but my eldest is allergic, so these days I have to make do with pining over other people’s.

3. If you could create the perfect romantic day what would it look like?

That would depend on who it was for. I think the most mundane things can be romantic if that is what the person you love likes. It’s thinking of them that counts. For my hubby it would probably be a walk in the countryside, coming home to a nice cup of tea and a piece of cake and then reading a book in the afternoon on adjacent settees smiling across at each other now and again.

4. Who are your favorite romantic couple?

I think any elderly couple you see still walking along hand in hand. That always goes straight to my heart. I hope my husband and I will be like that one day.

5. Could you describe what romance means to you?

Romance is trying to please your loved one. Buying flowers just to show you’re thinking of her, or cooking his favourite meal. Things like that are romantic to me.

6. Do you find it difficult to write about romance?

No. Falling in love is the most exciting thing there is. My ideas for stories come from different angles, but they all have love as the overriding force.

7. Can you tell us about your most romantic experience?

Oh lord! Really? Ummmmm… (Dredging the memory banks of a spectacularly unromantic life…) I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but when we were going out, before we were married, I think, my husband wrote a song for me. I found it again recently.

8. What kind of music do you like to listen to when you're in a romantic mood?

Tricky, because my hubby and I have very different tastes, not a lot would work, but I suppose the song we danced to at our wedding would do it. Procol Harum’s Whiter Shade of Pale. (Getting romantic in my fictional life, I can listen to whatever I want – usually something heartfelt and emotional.)

9. Which country personafies romance for you and why?

I think France is normally thought of as a romantic country, particularly Paris, or the Lavender fields of Provence. Sunshine, wine, soft cheese, sexy voices, Thierry Henry…

10. What can we expect from you in the future?

I’m currently working on a romantic suspense. Something a bit different for me, so it has been difficult to get right, but the love story is still at the heart of it and I’m pleased with how it’s shaping up now. Working title: Because of You. Watch this space.

Giveaway


One very lucky reader of With Love For Books will receive a signed paperback copy of Sun on Sundays, a key chain pendant made by Wendy Lou Jones and a Sun on Sundays book necklace.



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The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Book Review - It Happened on Love Street by Lia Riley

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Review by Suze
 
Pepper moves from New York to Love Street in Everland, Georgia, for the start of a promising legal career. When she arrives she discovers that she relocated for a promise that doesn't come true. She has no income and won't be able to do something else with her legal career in Everland, because it's such a small town. Fortunately Pepper's new neighbor, Rhett, helps her out and finds her a job. Rhett is the local vet and one of the town's most eligible bachelors. Nothing in his life is private and he hates being in the spotlight. With Pepper so close to him he can't shake off the curious inhabitants of Everland any longer. Will he keep his distance because of this or does he take a chance to get to know his new neighbor after all?
 
Pepper's only option to make some money is temporarily taking over someone's dog walking business. This is the most awful job she can think of, as Pepper is afraid of dogs. Not being able to pay her bills, however, scares her even more. She needs a new life plan and Everland is a nice place to enjoy herself a bit and think about her future. Maybe she will get over her phobia by spending more time with the animals she doesn't like and Rhett can assist her when she needs it. Pepper doesn't count on Rhett being so attractive though, will she be able to resist falling in love with the handsome vet?
 
It Happened on Love Street is a wonderful story. I immediately loved Everland. The street names are magical, the inhabitants are eccentric and cute and the community spirit is amazing. Reading about this enchanting place put a big smile on my face. Pepper tries to be responsible. She doesn't follow her heart and all of her decisions are rational, which doesn't work at all in Everland. Living next door to Rhett, becoming part of the small town and falling in love with the dogs she used to be so afraid of, slowly changes her and that was fabulous to witness.
 
Pepper has a good heart and she's perfect for Rhett, who's just as kind, or maybe even kinder. After someone broke his heart he tries to stay out of the public eye, but by doing so he actually achieves the exact opposite. It only makes people more curious and they want him to be happy with someone, so everyone is trying to make him have a love life, which is something I found really funny. Pepper and Rhett have sparkling chemistry and it was fun to read about their relationship. It's clear from the start that they have found true love, but the circumstances are less than ideal. I read It Happened on Love Street in one sitting because I couldn't wait to find out what would happen to them.
 
Lia Riley writes original romantic stories. I love the way she approaches the genre. She has a delightful outlook on life and her main characters always have fabulous quirks. She made me laugh out loud several times while reading It Happened on Love Street. It's a terrific romantic story with a great charming atmosphere. There are plenty of sexy scenes and in between there are a lot of surprising twists and turns. I especially loved Everland's treasure hunt and the Scrabble matches in the park. It Happened on Love Street is a very special book, it's a great happy story with a gorgeous endearing ending.
 
Advice
 
If you love amazing original small town romance you will definitely like It Happened on Love Street.

Seven Romantic Books & Hot Chocolate for One Mug Giveaway

 
Enter this giveaway for a chance to win seven romantic books and a Hot Chocolate for One mug. Good luck!
 

 
The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Romantic Books of Choice Giveaway

 
Enter this giveaway for a chance to win romantic books of your choice worth $30. Good luck!
 

 
The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.

With Love For Reviews - Guest Post by Amy McNulty

 
 Love (Hate or Even Just Like) a Book? Leave a Review
Guest post by Amy McNulty

If you spend any time following social media or reading newsletters from authors, you’re probably no stranger to their calls for readers to leave a review. Maybe you’d like to help, but you have no idea what to say. Perhaps you’ve left a review or two before, but it takes up a lot of your time. Maybe you figure enough other readers will leave a review, so your thoughts on a book don’t really need to be said.

However, I’ll be one more author to ask that you please reconsider—and always leave a review. Amazon reviews are still the most beneficial for authors, although Goodreads, your blog and social media profiles, and any other retailer of your choice are good places to leave reviews as well. However, the reason why authors value those Amazon reviews so much is because so much of our marketing strategies still rely on the number of ratings (and average rating) on our books’ Amazon pages.

Amazon itself is more likely to highlight books with lots of ratings and books with a high average score. These free promotions can lead to hundreds or even thousands of sales in the course of a week. Book bargain newsletters—some of which may be familiar to you, such as BookBub, Ereader News Today, Book Gorilla, Book Barbarian, Fussy Librarian, etc.—oftentimes only allow books with a certain number of ratings and a certain average score to be featured in their newsletters, which can lead to dozens or hundreds of sales in a day. A high Amazon score also just helps the casual shopper decide whether or not to buy a book that’s been recommended to them based on their interests. These shoppers are less likely to stop by Goodreads to read reviews before they buy.

The best way you can thank an author for writing a book you love (especially if you got a free review copy) is to follow through and leave a review in as many places as possible. That said, I hope you’ll consider leaving a review even if you just thought it was okay—even if you hated it. A book that has nothing but 4- and 5-star reviews may have indeed been that universally beloved, but many shoppers view those books with suspicion. It can actually help an author to have a few 1-, 2-, or 3-star reviews if that’s how the readers genuinely feel about the book so casual shoppers know people are sharing their honest opinions.

What do you leave in a review? You can write as much or as little as you like. Goodreads users especially seem to enjoy long reviews, even complete with images and GIFs, but there’s no need to spend hours on your review if that doesn’t interest you. On Amazon especially, a simple “I liked/loved/didn’t like this book” is genuinely all you need to help an author out. If you want to go into more detail, you might discuss your favorite and least liked characters or things in the plot you liked or didn’t like (be careful to warn about spoilers), but you don’t need to feel daunted by writing a detailed review. You might even focus on how quickly (or slowly) you felt compelled to read the book or just the feelings it left you with.

While not all authors read their reviews, those who do find positive reviews especially bolstering. It’s nice to see that our characters and worlds connected with readers, that you love the result of a lot of hard work and time spent on writing and polishing our books. That said, you’re free to write negative

reviews as well, but if you loved a book especially, please consider letting other people know via a review. Sometimes an author needs that boost to keep working hard on the next project.

Leaving a review needn’t be as time-consuming or daunting a prospect as you might think. It’s really one of the key ways to give back to an author, after buying their books (or getting them from a library) and sharing your recommendations with friends. Thank you to every one of you who has ever taken the time to write a review!

About Amy McNulty

 
Bio: Amy McNulty is a freelance writer and editor from Wisconsin with an honors degree in English. She was first published in a national scholarly journal (The Concord Review) while in high school and currently writes professionally about everything from business marketing to anime. In her down time, you can find her crafting stories with dastardly villains and antiheroes set in fantastical medieval settings.

Author links
 

Books by Amy

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Ride Rough by Laura Kaye - Book Review, Excerpt & Giveaway


Book review
By Suze
 
Maverick is the vice-president of the Raven Riders Motorcycle Club. The club protects vulnerable people who are having a hard time and one of the women Maverick is keeping an eye on is his ex girlfriend and the love of his life, Alexa. Her fiancé, Grant, is a rich businessman who's all about control. Alexa doesn't see what kind of man she's living with until she's about to marry him. Grant made sure she had everything she dreamed off, but his unpredictable behavior starts to scare her. Fortunately Maverick is there to help her out and Alexa discovers that she still has feelings for the man she left behind.

Grant doesn't want to let Alexa go and he will do everything in his power to make sure she will come back to him and become his wife, he wants to own her and isn't giving up. It doesn't mean anything to him that Alexa has broken up with him. Will Maverick be able to keep her safe and while doing so, does he have a second chance to convince her he loves her with all his heart and is the man she should be with?

Ride Rough is a gripping story about abuse, power games and true love. Alexa is a sweetheart. She lovingly cares for her mentally ill mother, she makes sure everyone around her is happy and she works hard for her future. I immediately liked her and it saddened me that she was engaged to such an awful calculated man. Grant is cruel and Alexa only discovers his true nature just before their wedding. Maverick has always kept an eye on her. He's kind to her, even though she broke his heart, and helps her to escape. Alexa never stopped loving him, but she went through something traumatic that made her leave him. She finally opens her eyes and realizes that Maverick is the man she should be with, but Grant isn't giving up. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to see where that would lead and read Ride Rough in one sitting because I couldn't put it down.

Laura Kaye writes about abuse in a raw and honest way. She doesn't spare her main characters and her stories are very emotional. I love how deep she's willing to dig into the personalities she's writing about. The Raven Riders might be rough men, but they all have big hearts. They care about each other and about their women, but also about complete strangers in need of help. That's an admirable mentality and I love the Raven Riders series because of it.

Laura Kaye's vivid writing makes her story come to life very well. Her stories are sexy, romantic and emotional, which is a great combination. The Raven Riders regularly get into trouble. They're good men, but doing what they do doesn't make them popular with everyone and they have quite a few dangerous enemies. Grant is one of them and reading about their conflicts and his willingness to go far to bring them down kept me on the edge of my seat. Ride Rough is a terrific captivating story with an amazing scary ending.

Advice

If you love gripping, sexy and romantic stories about motorcycle gangs you will definitely like Ride Rough. It's the second book in the Raven Riders series and can be read as a standalone.
 
Raven Riders Series Trailer


About Laura Kaye


Laura is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over thirty books in contemporary romance and romantic suspense, including the Hard Ink and Raven Riders series. Growing up, Laura’s large extended family believed in the supernatural, and family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses cemented in Laura a life-long fascination with storytelling and all things paranormal. She lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and monster puppy, Schuyler, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.

Author links


Excerpt

It was one of Maverick’s favorite dreams.

He and Alexa had gone up to Swallow Falls in Western Maryland for a weekend getaway and were staying in one of the mini cabins at the state park. After a day of hiking and swimming and picnicking outside, they’d come back to their cabin tired and ready to crash, but getting naked for showers had sidetracked them for hours. And even once they finally fell asleep, Maverick was hard and ready every time he woke up, and he took her again and again, falling asleep still buried inside her . . .

And fuck if he wasn’t ready right now.

He burrowed his face in Alexa’s soft hair and banded his arm around her stomach. His hand filled with the soft mound of her breast. He pulled her back against his chest and ground his erection against the swell of her ass.

“Maverick,” she moaned.

Hell, yeah. He nuzzled her neck, kissed her there, tasting and nipping and sucking. God, he needed in her. “Fuck, Alexa,” he whispered.

Her hand gripped his. “Maverick.”

He rolled her under him and crawled on top of her, his body falling into the cradle of her spread thighs.

“Uh, Maverick.”

He frowned and kissed her jaw, her cheek, her mouth. It was the kiss that did it. Something wasn’t right. The memory playing out in his sleep-fogged mind didn’t feel like the reality confronting his physical senses. His eyes blinked open. And he found himself lying on top of Alexa. Not in the cabin at Swallow Falls years before. In the gray morning light of his house. Her wide hazel eyes stared up at him.

He reared off of her in an instant. “Fuck,” he said, coming to stand by the couch. Alexa looked stunned—and so fucking sexy that Maverick barely resisted crawling back on top of her. She lay on her back in his clothes, on his couch, her knees drawn up and falling out, her hair sleep-mussed and sexy. Jesus. He adjusted himself, unable to hide his raging hard-on, and scrubbed at his face. “Goddamn dream. I’m sorry, Alexa. I didn’t mean to do that.”

“You . . . you were dreaming. Of me?” she whispered.

His gaze narrowed. “Don’t ask a question you don’t want the answer to.”

Giveaway


Three very lucky winners will receive a Ride Rough & #ReadHard mini-tote with signed copies of Hard As Steel, Ride Hard and Ride Rough plus swag.