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Category Archives: Book Blitz

Book Blitz ~ Paintbrush by Hannah Bucchin


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Paintbrush by Hannah Bucchin

Published by: Blaze Publishing

Publication date: July 11th 2017

Genres: Romance, Young Adult

Mitchell Morrison and Josie Sedgwick have spent their whole lives at the Indian Paintbrush Community Village, a commune full of colorful characters tucked in the mountains of North Carolina, and they aren’t particularly close–at least, not anymore. Josie wishes she could spend all of her time at Paintbrush planting tomatoes, hiking the trails, or throwing giant communal birthday parties, while Mitchell can’t wait to escape the bizarre spiritual sharing and noisy community dinners. Luckily for both of them, high school graduation is just around the corner.

But when Mitchell’s mother makes a scandalous announcement that rocks the close-knit Paintbrush community, and Josie’s younger sister starts to make some dangerously bad decisions, the two find themselves leaning on each other for support – and looking at each other in a whole new light. Their childhood friendship blossoms in to something more as they deal with their insane families, but as graduation approaches, so does life in the real world, forcing Josie and Mitchell to figure out what, exactly, their relationship is – and if it can survive their very different plans for the future.

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~Sneak Peeks~:

Mitchell

They look like a family, huddled in a group, the fading sunlight from the window casting them in a dusty glow. And here I am, close enough but still a few steps back. Enjoying the moment, but not quite part of the group. It’s always this way with me at Paintbrush. I hang around the fringes of every moment. Not because I’m not included or not welcome, but because, sometimes, I’m afraid I’ll get in too deep here. And then I’ll never be able to leave.

Mitchell

“Hi.” I tighten my grip on her waist, and she moves her hand from my shoulder, sliding her fingertips slowly, until they rest on the back of my neck. I close my eyes.

When I open them again, she’s staring at me, her face so close I can see the flecks of brown in her green eyes. It would be so easy to kiss her. Just a few inches. It would be the easiest thing in the world.

Josie

“We’re a mess, aren’t we?” He grins at me.

I can’t help it—I lean into him, pressing my shoulder into his, wanting to feel his warmth and his soft sweatshirt, wanting to be a part of that smile.

I shrug. “All the best people are messy.”

Josie

Just when I’ve decided to sneak back to my cabin, I see him. Mitchell. He steps right in front of me, a few feet away. I meet his gaze and hold it. And then he jerks his head slightly toward the side and strides off into the night, slipping out into the dark, off into the field behind the Sanctuary.

I wait one minute and then follow him.

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~Author Bio~

Hannah has spent her life falling in love with beautiful places, both real and fictional. She grew up in charming Bethlehem, PA, went to college in sunny Chapel Hill, NC, spent a summer studying wildlife in Tanzania, volunteered on organic farms across New Zealand, and hiked all over Acadia National Park in Maine. When not writing, reading, or adventuring, she likes to daydream about the dog she’ll adopt someday, listen to music from the sixties, and exchange ridiculous texts with her parents and siblings. Paintbrush is her first novel.

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~Giveaway~

Blitz-wide giveaway (INTL)

$5 Amazon giftcard and a copy of The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Book Blitz ~ In Her Blood by Janice Jones


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In Her Blood by Janice Jones

(The Dagger Chronicles #1)

Published by: Amberjack Publishing

Publication date: May 1st 2015

Genres: New Adult, Romance, Supernatural

Alex Stone wants to pretend the supernatural doesn’t exist.

As the owner of a hot new clothing line, the only thing she’s killing is her competition – until she gets a phone call from her past. As the Dagger, she was a member of the covert ops team tasked with hunting threats of the supernatural kind. For the super soldiers of Night Command, the rules were simple: take the pills, fight the bad guys, and live to tell no one. After putting a bad-ass vampire on ice landed her in a padded cell, Alex thought she’d left the hunting game for good. Now she’s in the orbit of a handsome vampire with a problem. And sometimes keeping secrets bites.

Jason Stavros has the best of everything and life eternal. To the human world, Jason was just a poor boy who made it to the top. For a human turned vampire, the fight for a place in the inner circle of the ruling class hinges on one task: convince the best ex-vampire hunting assassin to become his personal bodyguard and save them all.

Join Alex, Jason and a new team of young hunters as two worlds unite against a common enemy. As the body count begins to rise, Alex and the Tracker Team fight friends and enemies to find the answers they seek.

What’s been happening in the dark will finally come to light.

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~Excerpt~

She enjoyed seeing those chains of pure silver wrapped around the vampire’s scrawny arms like tattoos. He barely resembled the picture of the old parish priest the Cardinal sent them two weeks ago. His brown skin hung from his bones like an ill-fitting suit. His paunch bounced up and down as he struggled to get loose. It took longer to catch him, much longer than it should have, but all’s well that ends well.

Alex Stone, call-sign Dagger, ran her fingers through her dark hair. Flakes of dried blood and sand fell as she pulled the dirty mess into a ponytail. Benjamin Palmer, Team Commander, snatched her wounded hand back down and tightened the field dressing as he griped at her about how dumb it was to try to catch the sharp end of a knife with her hand. She knew that . . . now.

“Who do you think you are,” he said as he gave the knot one last yank, “Superman?” Ben checked her busted lip with a shake of his head. “That’s gonna hurt like hell till morning.”

Alex just nodded, taking the pills in her good hand and swallowing them with a quick sip of warm water from his canteen.

Under normal circumstances, Alex would be pulled from the field, evaluated and possibly scrubbed from the next assignment for that stunt. But time was running out and this wasn’t normal, not even for the top vampire hunting team in the country.

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~Author Q & A~

1. Who is your favorite vampire found in literature?

Louis from the Vampire Chronicles Series. That character was very tortured, but not angry. I think he was a very underrated character in the books.

2. What about your favorite vampire character in movies and television?

Dracula played by Gary Oldman. Best portrayal I’ve ever seen in a rendition of Stoker’s character. He was regal in a very human sort of a way. You really did feel sorry for him. And let’s not forget that accent.

For television, my favorite comes from a show that unfortunately ran only one season. Kindred: The Embraced. Julian Luna was the ‘big man’ of the vampires in San Francisco. He ruled all the Clans in the city, hence his title, Prince of the City. The show was very stylish and modern for the 90’s. Julian was handsome and rich and ruled in a way resembling King Arthur.

3. We love how you’ve taken an age-old mythology and recreated a unique perspective of how vampires are existing and being used in a modern setting. Can you tell us more about the world you’ve created in your series, The Dagger Chronicles.

The people you meet in this series represent a very small part of this world. They are the elite. This world really sits on the surface of humanity. Underneath, there’s a hierarchy to vampire society. The infrastructure is very much like the human world. There are vampires who have everyday lives and have elected those that represent them at the table. I wanted to ground this world in reality as we know it just a bit.

Within the elite, there is a lot more than meets the eye. There are teams of covert ops working for private interests and protecting the supernatural kind, secret science experiments to find new uses for vampire blood, and the key to all it, a woman who is unlike any of her kind. It’s certainly a fresh take.

4. Which character from In Her Blood did you enjoy writing the most?

I have to go with Ben. He’s based on a couple of people I know. Ben’s that big brother type. He’s cool and fun, but can hold his own with Alex. He looks after Alex because he loves her and he’s afraid of what will happen when her secret gets out.

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~Author Bio~

Graduating with a Masters in Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University, Janice’s first novel, In Her Blood, is the first book in her vampire adventure series The Dagger Chronicles. This series introduces you to the world of Alexa “Alex” Stone, ex-vampire hunter and assassin turned fashion mogul. Hiding in plain sight, Alex must return to the world of the supernatural in order protect a handsome vampire and her own secrets. Look for Book Two, By Blood Sworn to hit online outlets soon. Janice is looking forward to readers of New Adult Fiction and Vampire lore to embrace a new kind of action adventure hero, a woman with many secrets and many stories to tell.

(Author photo courtesy of Omar Ramos Photography http://www.omarramosphotography.com/Makeup by LaChandra Middlebrooks)

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~Giveaway~

Blitz-wide giveaway (INTL)

Signed copy of In Her Blood + $50 Amazon gift card

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Book Blitz ~ His Turn by J.A. Huss


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His Turn by J.A. Huss

(Turning #3)

Published by: July 4th 2017

Publication date: July 4th 2017

Genres: Erotica, Romance, Suspense

I look her body up and down as I circle her.

Mine?

I smile a devious, deviant, I’m gonna make you sorry you ever started playing this game with me smile.

And then I take her hand.

I lead her to the elevator.

We go up to my apartment.

I tie her wrists together with rope.

Raise her arms above her head.

And chain her to the ceiling.

It’s my turn.

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Get the complete series on Amazon!
Taking Turns is now on AUDIO!

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~Excerpt~

I spend the whole day stewing about Nadia and her covert attempt to take back control. I have gone through every emotion. Anger came first. Bitch. Why is she even playing if it’s just gonna be a mind fuck?

But then I got to thinking about that. The mind fuck part. Because I’m kind of an excellent mind-fucker. I mean, shit. I went to school to be a psychiatrist. I got pretty far into it before I dropped out. I have a medical degree. I run a sex club. I’ve been playing this goddamned game for more than a decade. And even though I’ve been on a losing streak for a while now, I’m damn good. I’m due for a win. I will win this.

The key to a proper mind fuck is the element of surprise. The target thinks they’re ready for the unexpected, until they’re not.

Nadia was probably pretty pleased with herself last night. She probably ended that call with a huge smile on her face. One hundred percent satisfied.

And she’s expecting retaliation. She had to know I’d tell Jordan about it. She had to know I’d find out she never called him. She had to know I’d be pissed off today.

When I realized that… well, that’s when I calmed down and started piecing together a psychological profile on her.

Nadia Wolfe. Twenty-something. Beautiful. Talented. Ballerina. Control freak. New in town. Rising star. Player of games.

She’s so stupidly simple to figure out, I almost feel sad that she’s not more of a challenge.

I decide the ballerina aspect is my best first move. They are a different sort of person, so most of what I just described probably stems from her choice of occupation. She likes control because she’s forced herself to be in control of things to get where she is in her art.

Think about it. Ballerinas, right? They get up early to go to class or rehearsal or whatever the fuck it is they do first thing in the morning. They have to control themselves in very specific ways. They have to control their muscles, their emotions, their pain threshold, and the pleasure center in their brains. They have to psych themselves up to fit their bodies into the mold of dancer.

They have to conform in many ways. Deviation from the standard is unacceptable, even though they are expected to excel and stand out.

They must look a certain way, behave a certain way, and submit to the whims of those who control their future.

Success, therefore, is not defined by their own perceptions of themselves, but by the perceptions of others. And those perceptions are directly related to athletic skill, beauty, and youth.

It’s a trifecta of psychological disorders waiting to happen.

I smile.

I’ve got you, Nadia Wolfe. I have your ticket, darling. I know what drives you now.

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~Author Bio~

JA Huss is the USA Today bestselling author of more than twenty romances. She likes stories about family, loyalty, and extraordinary characters who struggle with basic human emotions while dealing with bigger than life problems. JA loves writing heroes who make you swoon, heroines who makes you jealous, and the perfect Happily Ever After ending.

You can chat with her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/AuthorJAHuss), Twitter (@jahuss), and her blog, New Adult Addiction (www.jahuss.com).

If you’re interested in getting your hands on an advanced release copy of her upcoming books, sneak peek teasers, or information on her upcoming personal appearances, you can join her newsletter list (http://eepurl.com/JVhAr) and get those details delivered right to your inbox.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Bookbub | Pinterest | Instagram

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GIVEAWAY!

Blitz-wide giveaway (INTL)

Signed copies of Taking Turns, Turning Back, and His Turn, plus a superfan swag pack and a $100 Gift Card.

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Book Blitz ~ Grind by Sybil Bartel: Excerpt + Giveaway!


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Grind by Sybil Bartel

(Thrust, #3)

Publication date: June 27th 2017

Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Dane

I’m silent. I’m trained. I’m lethal.

My hand skimming down your thigh, my gaze a weapon—I know more ways to kill you than please you.

But you’re not paying for my aim. You’re paying for my control. Bringing you a breath away from ecstasy, watching you beg as I hold back your release, I’ll show you exactly what you’ve been missing. Your hunger is my currency and five thousand is my price. I only have one rule—no repeats, because I’m not for keeps. I’m for sale.

One slow grind and I’ll give you exactly what you paid for.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooksKobo

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~Excerpt~

“I don’t have any money to pay you.” He knew I didn’t, but I wasn’t saying it just to remind him.

“I don’t want you to pay me.” He held his hand out. “Come on.”

My heart raced and the whisper of his scent through the rainwater drenching his body filled my head. I ached to touch him. “Where?”

“To bed.”

“I can’t… with you.” I had reasons, but I was rapidly forgetting them.

His hand never wavered. “I need sleep. You need sleep. I’ll rest better if I know where you are. Come.”

Knowing I shouldn’t, knowing I was crossing an invisible line I would never return from, I gave him my hand.

He didn’t hesitate. He pulled me to my feet and took a step.

I panicked. “Wait.” Oh God, don’t say it, don’t say it. “I can’t do this. This will mean something to me that it doesn’t to you.”

Cool gray-brown eyes stared down at me without mercy. “Do not speak for me.”

“I just meant—”

“I know what you meant.”

I gave him the truth because it was all I had left. “You’re taking what I don’t have to give.”

His shoulders dropped, his frame leaned toward me, and he lowered his voice to a barely audible whisper. “Trust me.” Rain dripped from his cheek and landed on my arm. “This is what I ask of you, only this. Nothing else.”

If you could fall in love in a single moment with a perfect stranger, I fell in love. “You will break me, Dane Marek,” I whispered.

“You are already broken, Irina Tsarko.”

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~Author Bio~

Sybil Bartel grew up in Northern California with her head in a book and her feet in the sand. She dreamt of becoming a painter but the heady scent of libraries with their shelves full of books drew her into the world of storytelling. She loves the New Adult genre, but any story about a love so desperately wrong and impossibly beautiful makes her swoon.

Sybil now resides in Southern Florida and while she doesn’t get to read as much as she likes, she still buries her toes in the sand. If she isn’t writing or fighting to contain the banana plantation in her backyard, you can find her spending time with her handsomely tattooed husband, her brilliantly practical son and a mischievous miniature boxer…

But Seriously?

Here are ten things you probably really want to know about Sybil.

She grew up a faculty brat. She can swear like a sailor. She loves men in uniform. She hates being told what to do. She can do your taxes (but don’t ask). The Bird Market in Hong Kong freaks her out. Her favorite word is desperate…or dirty, or both—she can’t decide. She has a thing for muscle cars. But never reply on her for driving directions, ever. And she has a new book boyfriend every week—don’t tell her husband.

To find out more about Sybil Bartel, be sure to follow her on Twitter (she loves to hear about your favorite book boyfriend!), visit her website, like her on Facebook or join her Facebook group Book Boyfriend Heroes for exclusive excerpts and giveaways.

Website | Goodreads | Facebok | Book Boyfriend Heroes | Twitter | Bookbub | Amazon | Newsletter

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~Giveaway~

One (1) ebook copy of Thrust by Sybil Bartel (gifted via Amazon). Open internationally

Enter Here: a Rafflecopter giveaway  (Giveaway will run from June 29 – July 10)

Blitz-wide giveaway (INTL)

$25 Amazon gift card

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Book Blitz ~ I Need You by Ashley Hampton


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I Need You by Ashley Hampton

(Southern Rock Lyrics Series #3)

Publication date: June 7th 2017

Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Hannah Walker and Igor Finley have everything they need – family, friends, and a strong future together. Instead of happy and easy “I do’s,” there is last minute wedding drama and an uninvited and unexpected guest threatening to ruin it all. Will Hannah become Mrs. Igor Finley? Or will this be the end of Hannah and Finley?

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBooks

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~Excerpt~

I snuggled closer to Finley as my phone beeped again. Didn’t anyone sleep anymore? The text was from Stacy telling me they were leaving Raleigh and would arrive in about three hours. The caravan was much slower than they anticipated.

I wanted some alone time with Finley before they arrived. Because of his stupid no sex idea, I decided I would avoid temptation and get out of bed. Just a couple more days to wait. The best part – I could forever remind him what a dumb idea this was just in case he had any other brilliant ones like this in the future.

My feet hit the floor, and Finley groaned. “Don’t go,” he begged.

I giggled. “Your dumb idea, loverboy. Everyone is leaving Raleigh. We have a lot to do before this evening, and it’s time to get started. I’m going to shower.”

He pulled the comforter over his head.

“Oh, I turned the coffee pot on, by the way.”

Finley peeked his head out. “I fucking love you. You know the sexiest things to say.”

I knew he was still looking, so I took off my t-shirt and dropped it on the floor as I entered the bathroom. One catcall later, and I closed the shower door.

I was blow drying my hair when Finley brought me a cup of coffee. He half perched on the counter and waited for me to finish.

“Ah, my hero. Thanks, babe,” I leaned in for a kiss and grabbed my coffee cup instead. A sip of the hot liquid made every penny worth it for the new coffeemaker I could turn on with my phone. Finley allowed a second sip before he took my cup and placed it on the counter.

He sat on the edge of the tub and pulled me into his lap. “Can we talk before things get crazy today?”

I nodded even though I wanted to ignore all the serious, emotional topics for today and instead get lost in what promised to be a day full of fun and insanity.

“Everything on point for a good, fun day?” he asked.

“Yes, that’s what I want. I don’t want to get bogged down in the emotions. I just want to have a fun day with our family.” I swear sometimes I felt as if he knew me better than I knew myself.

~~~

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~Author Bio~

Ashley Hampton works as a Licensed Psychologist in private practice during the day. When she leaves work, she puts on her writer and photographer hats and enjoys living in the worlds created in her mind. She lives near her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama with her cat, Gemma. Ashley wanted to find a creative way to meld her love for music and psychology with writing, and the Southern Rock Lyrics series was born. With other series planned, Ashley wants to write in the romance, erotica, and psychological thriller genres.

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~Giveaway~

Blitz-wide giveaway (INTL)

  • Three Signed Paperbacks of I Need You
  • Three Signed Paperbacks of I Never Dreamed
  • Three Signed Paperbacks of Breeze
  • Two $25 Amazon Gift Cards
  • TEN Random Swag Packs (Signed & Unsigned)

Enter Here : a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Book Blitz ~ The Future of Sex by Aubrey Parker


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The Future of Sex by Aubrey Parker

(The Future of Sex, #1)

Publication date: May 16th 2017

Genres: Adult, Romance, Science Fiction

Love doesn’t matter. Romance doesn’t exist.

In the year 2060, sex is a game of extremes. No desire is unexplored and even the unimaginable is possible.

Alexa Mathis, head of the monolithic O Corporation, has found a prodigy she believes will drive her sex empire to rapturous new limits: Chloe Shaw, a common girl with uncanny gifts that make her a powerful escort.

Chloe doesn’t believe in love. She believes in ecstasy, and her employer’s newest tool to usher “the future of sex”: an intelligent network known as The Beam.

And so it is until she meets Andrew … and the whole world changes.

The Future of Sex is a 12-part romance/sci-fi series exploring the line between today’s conception of love and the sensations that await us in the future.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

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~Excerpt~

“Close your eyes.”

Andrew was startled. He’d been listening to music when Chloe entered, and hadn’t heard her approach. His door was unlatched, without a digital lock. He hadn’t been kidding about being poor. His connection was isolated to the terminal playing the music. He lived like a bohemian, and his apartment was little more than masonry and glass. She felt guilty about using her Beam connection to ferret out Andrew’s address, but once her hands were on his hips, her chest pressing into his back, Chloe no longer cared.

“You surprised me.”

She reached toward the terminal — a simple, no-frills model — and touched his screen to change the music, choosing something soft and lyrical to replace it. Something sappy and lovelorn that her mother would mock.

“Close your eyes,” she repeated.

He hesitated. She couldn’t see his eyes because she was behind him, but Andrew’s body language betrayed a man at attention. His moment of reluctance gave her pause until she realized his doubt was about himself rather than her.

“Chloe …”

“Just do it.”

She sensed his eyes closing. Then she rested her hands on his chest, palm flat. The movement was sensual, but not sexual. Her default would have been to go below the belt, so she kept her hands high.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“Feeling.”

“I wish I worked out more.”

“Not feeling you. I meant that I’m attempting to feel. To emote.”

“How is it going?”

“I don’t know.”

And she didn’t. Chloe was feeling just fine, but it was like an ingrained response to Andrew’s presence. If he were feeling doubtful or down, her chameleon nature would want her to adapt, to touch him in just the right ways and say just the right things. She wasn’t sure if her genuine reaction — if she’d ever felt such a thing — was the same.

“You don’t know?”

“What do you want me to say, Andrew?”

“I’m not sure what you mean.”

“What do you want from me? How would you have me feel?”

Andrew hesitated. “Is this a test?”

He sounded concerned, or even more doubtful than before — the opposite of his usual carefree, playful self. Something had been wrong at the park, and it had occupied Chloe’s mind, heavy like an anchor, ever since. That same thing was still wrong, but had matured into something else.

“No,” she said. “It’s not a test.”

“I don’t want you to feel anything. You feel what you feel.”

It was such a simple thing to say, yet Chloe didn’t know if her body and mind understood.

“How do you feel?” he asked.

“Nervous.” It was the truth, but she wasn’t sure if it was her base or something more meta. Was she nervous for her own reasons, or because she wasn’t sure how she truly felt?

“Me too,” he said.

With her flat palms, Chloe could feel his heart. “I can tell.”

“I don’t know what to make of you, Chloe.” His words were rushed as if he’d been dying to say them.

“Nobody seems to.”

“I don’t know if I like you for you, or if I like the person you’re becoming so that I will like you.”

Chloe turned Andrew around. She didn’t have to tell him to open his eyes. He did so automatically, those usually-playful orbs suddenly so serious.

“So,” she said, “you can tell.”

“I don’t know what I can tell.”

“You’re conflicted. There’s something wrong.”

“Conflicted,” he echoed. “But nothing’s wrong.” Then: “At least, I hope not.”

“But you don’t know.”

“Honestly? I don’t.”

“My whole life is about feeling, but it’s always as a response.” Chloe swallowed, hesitant to voice what was coming. “But I know how I feel about that — about your hesitation.”

“I think I love you, Chloe.”

“But you don’t know.”

He shook his head.

A tear tickled the corner of her eye.

“And I know how I feel about that, too.” He moved to kiss her.

“Don’t.”

“I want to.”

“Because I want you to?” Chloe asked. “And I want you to because you want to?”

Andrew tipped his head a little; he didn’t have to say that Chloe’s double-talk was confusing them both. He pressed his lips to hers, felt her lack of response, then pulled back. “Does it matter?”

~~~

~Book Trailer~

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~Author Bio~

I love to write stories with characters that feel real enough to friend on Facebook, or slap across the face. I write to make you feel, think, and burn with the thrill that can only come from getting lost in the pages. I love to write unforgettable characters who wrestle with life’s largest problems. My books may always end with a Happily Ever After, but there will always be drama on the way there.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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~Giveaway~

Blitz-wide giveaway (INTL)

Kindle fire & 3 signed paperbacks of the complete Future of Sex Omnibus

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Book Blitz ~ Breaker & the Sun by Lauren Nicolle Taylor


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Breaker & the Sun by Lauren Nicolle Taylor

(Paper Stars #2)

Published by: Clean Teen Publishing

Publication date: May 8th, 2017

Genres: Historical, Young Adult

Times means nothing. It’s just the sun and moon changing places.

New from Lauren Nicolle Taylor, the best-selling author of Nora and Kettle, comes a fresh take on a classic tale.

Breaker Van Winkle is a recently returned Vietnam vet, struggling with PTSD and the difficulties of readjusting to civilian life with his mother. Sunny is a high-achieving eighteen-year-old Chinese-French immigrant who fled Vietnam during the war. Sunny is usually as cheerful as her name implies, but she has her struggles too. Haunted by violent memories of the bombing that killed her parents, and chafing under the rule of her eccentric grandmother, she finds solace deep in the Catskills, at a place she calls the Ugly Tree.

When Breaker stumbles upon Sunny and the Ugly Tree, things start to change. They are drawn to each other, and feel called to the tree. As they spend more time together and their relationship deepens, they notice that their time at the tree is becoming twisted somehow. Sunny’s mind yawns and her ambitions begin to slip away. Breaker feels safe and carefree, his memories finally burying themselves in the distant past. They are being lulled toward a tempting, peaceful sleep—but there is a cost to this magical serenity, and it may be more than either of them can bear…

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

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~Excerpt~

Two Days

BREAKER

I walk a trail up the mountain for a couple of hours and then head home, figuring Red’s playdate will be over.

When I hit the town, I’m surprised by how much traffic there is. A school bus rolls past, loaded with little faces, and I stop.

Nervously, I fumble for a smoke and then give up. My eyes follow the bus around the corner until it disappears.

It’s Sunday, I say to myself. It’s Sunday, I try to convince myself.

I pick up the pace, almost jogging to my neighborhood, watching the houses become more dilapidated as I go. I thunder up the stairs, tension in my chest and fear in my heart. I open the screen door to find Mom straightening the lounge. She looks up from rearranging the cushions and stares at me, hard and cold. “Where the hell have you been?” she asks. If there’s concern in her voice, it’s buried under months of disappointment.

I step over the threshold and smile awkwardly. It feels slapped on my face, fake and plastic. “You shouldn’t curse on a Sunday.”

She looks at me like I’m nuts, a look I’m very used to, and then bites her lip, her eyes darting around the room. “Are you high right now?” she whispers. Then she comes closer, shaking her finger at me. “Don’t bring that shit into my house, Breaker. I’m warning you. Seriously, after everything we went through with your dad, how could you?” She is agitated but sadly unsurprised.

“What are you talking about, Mom? You always tell me off for cursing, especially on the Lord’s day.”

She quirks an eyebrow and says, low and frightened, “Breaker, it’s Tuesday.”

I think I already knew, but hearing her say it forces a hard shudder through me. I look to her and say through my teeth, “I’m not high, Mom. I’m sorry I didn’t call, but I crashed at a friend’s place for a couple of days. I should have called.”

She shrugs, and I can feel her distancing herself from me more and more. “Yes, you should have.”

Something like excitement rushes through me. A wavy line of electricity. I feel that pull again. Back to the woods. It must be the tree, right? I stare at my feet, desperate to turn them around and walk out again. Whatever it is, I wonder if it happened to Sunny too. My fingers itch with sap and the last little shreds of bark. I wipe them on my pants.

The screen door creaks and Red crashes through the entryway, throwing his school bag on the floor and colliding into me. “Where’ve you been, Break?” he asks, worry in his tone as he wraps his arms around my middle and squeezes. I pause. I can’t run out on him. Even if Mom doesn’t care where I’ve been, he does.

“I’m sorry, bro,” I say, patting his head and pulling his arms away from me before I start to feel caged and want to fight my way out of his grasp. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”

Red shrugs unconvincingly. “Yeah, well, you missed my playdate. You didn’t get to meet Jake.”

Mom snorts in the kitchen. “Go put your things away and wash up, hon.”

Tuesday. Two days. Two days gone. Two days I didn’t have to think about them or the past or wherever the hell I’m heading. Two days without nightmares. A few hours with Sunny took two days I don’t need or want back.

As soon as Red exits the room, the atmosphere changes. Mom slams a cup on the bench like a summons, and I go to talk to her in the kitchen.

I pull up one of the frayed vinyl barstools and sit facing her. “I’m really sorry.”

She frowns, cranes her neck to check if Red’s still in the bathroom, and whispers tersely, “So you should be. You didn’t warn me about his friend Jacob.” She says the word friend like it’s dirty. Like it should be scrubbed raw and clean.

Oh.

“It was so embarrassing. His mom came right up to the door and knocked, calling out to me in that accent. Meesus. Van Weeenkeell.” She does a horrible impersonation of the mother’s accent. “God!” She slaps a palm over her forehead and drags it down her face. “The neighbors probably saw her. They probably think I’m friends with one of them now.”

I narrow my eyes. “What do you mean by one of them?” I challenge.

She shakes her head, wisps of blonde hair floating around her face. “You know…them. Them! Yeesh, Breaker, I thought you of all people would know what I’m getting at.”

Thankfully, Red comes back in the room, so I’m saved from trying to work out and explain my very complicated feelings on them.

“Jake really wants to meet you,” he says, climbing up on the stool next to me, his pale hands barely a contrast to the white tile counter. I nod, eyeing Mom curiously. Her back stiffens as she pretends to wash dishes.

“Sure,” I say, surprising myself.

Two days, two days, two days, echoes in my mind. The pull so easy to grab a hold of. The need to go back so strong. I’d agree to anything if it meant I could get out of here quicker.

He leans his head on my shoulder and I tense, but I don’t jerk away like I normally do. “Yes!” he shouts. “So cool!” Mom squeezes the water out of the sponge in her hands until it’s bone dry.

I decide to save Red from her bullshit. “How about we meet in the park? Play some ball or something?”

Red seems so excited by this, which makes me feel instantly guilty. “Really? Really, really? That would be so great, Breaker.”

I pat his head and ease myself from the stool. My weariness is starting to return. Whatever energy I had is slowly being sapped after that encounter with Mom. I grimace.

Mom makes a small gesture. An almost grudging one. “Will you be staying for dinner?” she calls after me in a weakened voice.

Red pleads. “We’re having hot dog casserole.”

My stomach gurgles. If I’ve been gone for two days, I haven’t eaten in two days either. I feel hungry but not starving. I did my survival training. Two days without food. More importantly, without water, should have a much more significant effect on me than it has. I scratch my head, still standing in the short hall while Mom awaits an answer. “Okay. Sure. Dinner,” I grunt.

Red runs to me and gives me another squeeze, and I try not to squirm. “I’m glad you’re home.” Then he steps back and gives me a toothy, chipmunk grin. “Don’t you go disappearin’ like that again, ya hear?” He waggles his finger at me, and I laugh. Just one short little laugh, but enough to push some light into an otherwise dark and dusty cavity.

“I promise,” I say, half-intending to keep it.

*****

Finally alone, I collapse on my generally untouched bed. My head sags into my hands. I wonder how Sunny is feeling. I can’t find out since I don’t even have her phone number.

I want to come up with a rational explanation for what just happened, but I’ve got nothing. I want to run back there, but I don’t want to upset Red again.

Two days.

Two. Days.

~~~

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~Author Bio~

Lauren Nicolle Taylor lives in the lush Adelaide Hills. The daughter of a Malaysian nuclear physicist and an Australian scientist, she was expected to follow a science career path, attending Adelaide University and completing a Health Science degree with Honours in obstetrics and gynaecology.

She then worked in health research for a short time before having her first child. Due to their extensive health issues, Lauren spent her twenties as a full-time mother/carer to her three children. When her family life settled down, she turned to writing.

She is a 2014 Kindle Book Awards Semi-finalist and a USA Best Book Awards Finalist.

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