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


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Scandalous by Sybil Bartel

(Alpha Bodyguard #1)

Publication date: September 10th 2018

Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Bodyguard.

Babysitter.

Chauffeur.

Not what the hell I thought I’d be doing with my life.

Especially not for a spoiled Hollywood actress on location in Miami Beach. But triple pay and carrying a gun had its advantages. I’d shove away paparazzi and screaming fans for a lot less. The Marines trained me to be Force Recon—intimidation and crowd control was child’s play compared to four tours. This assignment should’ve been easy money.

But the doe-eyed starlet with the perfect ass dragged me down her rabbit hole. Living for the spotlight, she leaked the perfect scandal. I warned her making headlines wasn’t in my job description, but she kept smiling for the cameras.

Now she was going to find out just how scandalous a bodyguard could be.

*SCANDALOUS is a sexy standalone book in the new Alpha Bodyguard Series!

The Alpha Bodyguard Series

SCANDALOUS – Tank’s story

MERCILESS – Collins’s story

RECKLESS – Tyler’s story

RUTHLESS – Sawyer’s story

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

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~Excerpt~

“Do you like me?”

A bite halfway to my mouth, I froze for a fraction of a second. Then I chewed slowly and kept my eyes off her, because it was all part of the game. “You don’t strike me as the insecure type.” I took another bite, not knowing if I should be disappointed in her lack of confidence, or watching her for whatever game she was trying to play me with.

“This isn’t about insecurity,” she countered.

Bullshit. She was wondering why I’d said what I’d said. Horny as fuck, bored with talking, I dropped my fork and grasped her nape. Then I put my eyes on her.

She drank me up like she was starving.

Deliberately, I picked her fork up, stabbed some food and brought it to her lips. Lowering my voice, I tested her. “Open your mouth.”

For two heartbeats she stared at me.

Anticipation surged, wondering if she’d comply, but ultimately hoping she wouldn’t. I bent women. I made them cave to my commands, then I gave them the mind-blowing orgasms they wanted. But it was never a challenge. It hadn’t been for years. In fact, I couldn’t remember the last time a woman had been a challenge.

That alone should’ve been a warning. But add in the fact that I wanted this young-as-fuck, spoiled, hot mess of a woman to be my own personal fuck toy, and I should’ve been calling Luna to tell him to pull my ass off this assignment.

The only smart move was to disengage.

But I didn’t fucking do it.

I increased the pressure on the back of her neck, I touched the food to her lips, and I actually put fucking effort into my command. Stroking her neck, taking the threat out of my tone, I dropped my disinterested expression and let her see how goddamn much I wanted her. “Eat the food, Audrina.”

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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 | Facebook | Twitter

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~Giveaway~

Blitz-wide giveaway (INTL)

$25 Amazon gift card
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Book Blitz ~ Undisclosed by A.M. Salinger: Excerpt + Giveaway!


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Undisclosed by A.M. Salinger

(Nights, #7)

Publication date: August 21st 2018

Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

I have a problem. His name is Lincoln “Asshole” Hudson. He’s the bastard who wants to run me out of town. I should hate him. Trouble is, Lincoln is my type. Like one hundred and ten percent. And, ladies, he has the biggest, er, package I’ve ever seen on a man — Eveline

I have an itch I want to scratch. Her name is Eveline “Sassy Mouth” Claude. She’s the woman standing in the way of what could be my most lucrative project yet. Eveline is my enemy. There’s one hitch: she’s the hottest thing on legs my dick has ever seen — Lincoln

When Eveline Claude discovers she doesn’t actually own the land on which her most successful club stands, she is determined to get it back from the man who has now laid claim to it. Unfortunately, Lincoln Hudson, the new landlord and über successful billionaire behind the Hudson Group, doesn’t want to play ball.

Lincoln Hudson is in Tokyo for a landmark deal that could help secure his company’s foothold in the Far East and expand his hotel business in a new and exciting direction. The only hiccup is, someone else thinks they own the prime piece of land he’s just bought. And that someone is a woman he very much wants to bed.

After Lincoln convinces Eveline into becoming his personal escort for the duration of his stay in Tokyo in exchange for considering leasing her the land, the two of them come to a mutual agreement; they will enjoy each other—socially and carnally—until such a time that their arrangement comes to an end.

But as their time together draws to a close, Eveline and Lincoln discover that they have more in common than just great sex. Will they let their business affairs sour what is growing between them? Or will they put aside their differences and accept that enemies they may have started as, but lovers is what they’re meant to become?

Discover Eveline and Lincoln’s story in this sexy and wickedly funny addition to the hot, contemporary romance series Nights by A.M. Salinger. Note from the author: although each book in Nights can be read as a standalone, you will enjoy this series even more if you read the books in order!This is a novella length MF romance with a HEA.

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~Excerpt~

Eveline Claude blinked slowly. “Come again?”

A muscle jumped in the jawline of the man seated on the other side of the conference room table.

“You don’t own the freehold to the Tokyo branch of Le Secret,” Malcolm Brooks repeated stiffly.

Eveline’s pulse started to race as she stared from Brooks to his poker-faced partner, Victor Kline.

“I’m sorry, did I just hear you say that I don’t own the tenure of one of my most successful business enterprises?” Silence greeted her stunned question. “Are you guys yanking my chain right now?” Eveline chuckled in disbelief. “You are, aren’t you? Because there’s no way my one-thousand-dollar-per-hour, top-notch city lawyers just informed me that they fucked up.”

Brooks glanced at Kline. “Told you she’d bring up the hourly fee,” he muttered.

Kline ignored his partner and studied Eveline with an impassive expression. “Of course, we’ll be working to resolve this matter pro bono. The mistake is ours and we cannot apologize enough on behalf of the firm.”

Eveline’s mouth went dry as she looked between the two men and realized they were serious. The first inkling that her day was going to turn out to be gloriously shitty began at six a.m., when the fire alarm in her apartment building went off. Having left Le Secret at two, Eveline wasn’t pleased that her much needed beauty sleep had been interrupted by some asshole who hadn’t figured out how to use his new waffle maker. Her ire rose tenfold when she went to collect her car from the underground garage and noticed the fresh scratch on her midnight blue Maserati. She’d made a note to ask the security guards to check the cameras covering the parking lot and had barreled out of the building and into the early morning Tokyo traffic at twice the allowed speed limit; she hated being late for an appointment and her nine o’clock meeting with Brooks & Kline was taking place on the other side of town. She’d made it to their office on the twelfth floor of the glass and steel high-rise housing their law firm with four minutes to spare and had waited impatiently in the conference room, curious as to why they’d requested the urgent face to face.

It was Brooks who’d called her the day before to set up the meeting.

“Something’s come up. We need to talk,” the lawyer said cryptically after Eveline’s assistant put his call through.

Eveline paused and lowered her cup of coffee, her gaze shifting from the busy dual computer screens on the desk before her, to the glorious views beyond the panoramic windows to her right. Her office was located next to a small, private flat she kept above Le Secret and overlooked Ginza, the most famous and exclusive district in Tokyo.

Eveline frowned as she studied the busy intersection outside, the first seed of unease stirring inside her.

“What’s this about, Malcolm? It’s rare for you to call me yourself.”

“I know. It would be best if we had this conversation face to face,” Brooks replied.

He’d refused to answer Eveline’s questions and gave her the details of their appointment before disconnecting. Though she’d been troubled by her enigmatic conversation with the lawyer, Eveline soon forgot about the exchange, the daily demands of running her internationally renowned and incredibly successful chain of upscale escort clubs consuming all her attention and focus. Business was booming, especially since she’d opened the latest branch of in Singapore.

Eveline swallowed presently and leaned back in the sleek metal and leather chair of the conference room, her knuckles whitening where she gripped the arm rests. Maybe I should have thrown salt over my left shoulder before I left my apartment this morning. Or burned some incense or do whatever it is people do to ward off bad luck.

She studied the two lawyers with narrowed eyes. “Explain to me exactly how this happened.”

Brooks sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose while Kline slid a file across the table.

“It seems Mr. Nagato forged the documents his lawyers provided to us five years ago, when he sold you the plot in Ginza as a freehold,” Brooks said bitterly. “What you actually bought off him was the right to lease. His son-in-law works for the local land registry office and we suspect he made the counterfeit papers. According to one of our contacts in the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, the Nagatos have connections with an organized crime syndicate that specializes in land rights grabs.”

Eveline tensed, her gaze skimming the folder before her distractedly. “You mean, they’re part of the Yakuza?”

Kline grimaced. “They are linked to them in a distant, convoluted fashion, yes.”

Eveline’s heart pounded as she digested the implication of the lawyers’ words. The Yakuza were the Japanese equivalent of the Italian Mafia. Having witnessed secondhand what the mob did to their business rivals in New York, Eveline had no desire to associate with the local criminal organizations here in Japan, even if she suspected several of the clients who had visited the Tokyo branch of Le Secret over the last five years had some kind of connection to them.

Eveline clenched her jaw. “What can we do about this? I paid Nagato a hefty sum of money for that land. We’re talking seven figures here, as you both well know.” She paused, an unwelcome thought bringing a bitter taste to her mouth. “Wait. Did he even own that plot? Don’t tell me the asshole sold me someone else’s—”

“He does,” Kline said. “Or he did.”

“We’ve already lodged an appeal in court to contest the new owner’s claim to the freehold,” Brooks said. He ran a hand through his hair. “It’s going to take some time to—”

“New owner?” Eveline scowled. “What the hell do you mean, new owner?” She jumped to her feet and leaned her hands on the table. “Are you telling me that conniving bastard sold my land to someone else?!”

“Yes,” Brooks said quietly. “And this time, the documents he provided were the legitimate ones.”

Eveline took a shuddering breath and closed her eyes briefly, her nails biting into her palms where she’d fisted her fingers.

“I’m gonna kill him,” she hissed. Eveline grabbed her bag and stormed toward the conference room exit. “I’m gonna strangle that lowlife with my bare hands and dump his body in Tokyo Bay! What’s his address?”

“Sit down, Eveline,” Kline said with a sigh.

Eveline stopped by the door and whirled around. “I’m not kidding, Victor! I hope you guys know a good criminal lawyer ‘cause I’m going to need—”

“Nagato is dead,” Brooks said.

Eveline froze. She opened and closed her mouth soundlessly, her eyes rounding as she gaped at the two lawyers.

What?!” she shrieked.

“Nagato died three weeks ago,” Kline stated. “It was a heart attack, apparently.”

A light-headed feeling swept over Eveline. She made her way back to the table on unsteady legs and flopped down in the chair she had just vacated.

“He completed the sale of the freehold a few days before his death,” Brooks added.

Kline leaned across the table and opened the file in front of Eveline. “This is the letter we received yesterday from the new owner’s law firm.”

Eveline blinked before focusing on the top sheet of the paperwork before her.

“The land in Ginza is now the property of Lincoln Hudson, the President and CEO of the Hudson Group,” Kline continued. “His lawyers have given us formal notice that Le Secret’s leasehold rights will be revoked in thirty days.”

Eveline’s hands trembled as she picked up the letter and read it over, the words blurring in front of her eyes. Her heart sank as she finally absorbed its content.

It was just as Kline had said.

The new owner of the plot on which Le Secret stood had given her thirty days to dissolve her business and vacate his land.

“Wouldn’t a leasehold be for fifty years?” Eveline mumbled. “Can he even do this?”

“The new leasehold law that came into effect twenty-five years ago gives the landowner the right to refuse the leaseholder permission to run a business on his property,” Kline said. “Hudson is completely within his rights to issue a revocation order.”

Blood thundered in Eveline’s ears, the sound matching the emotions storming through her as she stared blindly at the printed text. She put the letter down, inhaled shakily, and stared at the men opposite her.

When it rains, it fucking pours.

“How long will the court appeal take?” she said, her voice growing steely as cogwheels started turning in her brain. She had not come this far in life without learning how to roll with some punches. Eveline frowned. Or how to get back up and knock the enemy right out of the ring.

“Six weeks,” Brooks said.

Eveline drummed the fingers of her right hand on the table, her polished, red-lacquered nails rapping an impatient tempo.

“Can we do anything to expedite it?”

“We’ve got a meeting with one of the judges this afternoon,” Kline said. “As to whether he will be willing to bring the case forward is not something I’d want to bet money on.”

Eveline gritted her teeth. “Do the Hudson Group President and his lawyers know the details of this affair? As in Nagato swindling me out of—”

“They know,” Brooks said. “We spoke to Lincoln Hudson’s lawyers and his secretary yesterday after we received the letter. Hudson’s secretary got back to us thirty minutes ago.”

Eveline leaned forward in her chair, her heart pounding against her ribs. “And? Is he willing to negotiate something?”

“Hudson said that it ain’t his problem,” Kline muttered.

Eveline stilled. “What?”

Brooks rubbed his eyes tiredly. “According to his secretary, Lincoln Hudson’s exact words were ‘I don’t give a flying fuck’.”

~~~

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~Author Bio~

Ava Marie Salinger is the pen name of an Amazon bestselling author who has always wanted to write scorching hot contemporary and erotic romance. In 2018, she finally decided to venture to the steamy side. NIGHTS is the first of several sizzling series featuring sweet, sexy men and women with dark pasts and a whole lot of love to give to the ones brave enough to fight for their hearts. When she’s not dreaming up hotties to write about, you’ll find Ava creating kickass music playlists to write to, spying on the wildlife in her garden, drooling over gadgets, and eating Chinese.

Want to be the first to know about Ava’s new releases and get access to exclusive content, sneak previews, sales, and giveaways ? Then sign up to her Reader Group here and join her VIP Facebook Fan Group here.

WebsiteGoodreads | Facebook | Instagram | Bookbub | Pinterest | Amazon | Book & Main Bites

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~Giveaway~

Blitz-wide giveaway (INTL)

$10 Amazon Gift Card + 2 signed copies of Undisclosed

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Blog Tour ~ The Right Fit by Daphne Dubois: Review + Giveaway!


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The Right Fit by Daphne Dubois

Publication date: April 12th 2017

Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

She’s sworn off love, he’s sworn off sex, but together they’ll score the goal of a lifetime.

When Maxine Nicholls discovers her fiancé is cheating, she turns to fast food and nighttime soap operas, but her sister has a plan—unbridled rebound sex with a stranger.

As one of Toronto’s hottest players, Antony Laurent tallies scores on and off the ice, but when the chiseled defense man hits a slump, rumors of a trade to the minor league send him to ambush a managers meeting at a posh club.

That night a chance encounter ends up as an unforgettable evening of passion. But Maxine and Antony are about to discover a game of casual hook ups can lead to something neither one of them thought they deserved—the right fit.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

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~Review~

Huh. Well this was something. It took me a while to get into the book, but I’m glad I finished it!

The Right Fit is a sports romance story, which I don’t usually enjoy but this one was different.

Maxine struggles to get her life back on track and heal her broken heart after she caught her fiance cheating on her. I really enjoyed Maxine’s character, she felt very real. But after a night out she bumps into Antony, they have no idea what is in store for them.  But things take a turn, in a good direction. Antony Laurent is a NHL star player.  The chemistry between them ignites into a blaze of passion which neither expected. It’s funny though, she has no idea who he really is… and he doesn’t tell her… until things between them get really serious, until it’s almost too late. 

I really enjoyed this book. Antony makes a great leading character and Maxine is a fun character. She’s a bit of a klutz but not in a cringeworthy way.

A sweet, sexy, funny read! I highly recommend it! Can’t wait to read more from this author!

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~Author Bio~

Daphne Dubois writes contemporary romance and believes the right book at the right time can make all the difference. When she’s not putting her characters in compromising positions (ahem), she works as a registered nurse. A member of the Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia, she lives in Eastern Canada, the most romantic place in the world.

You can also find her writing for teens as B.R. Myers.

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

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~Giveaway~

Tour-wide giveaway (INTL)

Print copy of The Right Fit + $25 Amazon gift card
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Cover Reveal ~ Twisted Lies 4 by Sedona Venez


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Twisted Lies 4 by Sedona Venez

(Dirty Secrets, #4)

Publication date: September 19th 2018

Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

From USA Today bestselling author Sedona Venez comes an edge-of-your-seat captivating, heart-wrenching, romantic suspense.

I knew he was evil, lust, and darkness personified.

He should have terrified me, but he didn’t because I was just as messed up in the head as he was.

I was a spider trapped in his web.

I didn’t have it all figured out.

What I did know was Core was no Prince Charming, and I, for damn sure, wasn’t a princess.

There would be no fairy-tale ending for us.

It would be hard work, and more importantly, it would be real.

Life couldn’t be all about tiaras and knights riding in to save the day.

This was my give. This was his take.

And there was no going back.

Till death do us part…

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | Series link

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~Author Bio~

Sedona Venez is a romance author with a dirty mind. She lives in New York City with her hot ex-military hubby–hooah–and their fur baby. She loves writing sizzling, sexy intricate stories about strong but broken characters who push limits, overcome their fears, and risk it all for love.

You can chat with her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/SedonaVenez), Twitter (@SedonaVenez), and her kick-ass romance website, (www.sedonavenez.com).

If you’re interested in getting your hands on an advanced release copy of her upcoming books, sneak peek teasers, you can join her newsletter list (http://eepurl.com/2ixqj) and get those details delivered right to your inbox.

Facebook | Amazon | Twitter | Pinterest | BookBub | Goodreads | Website

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Book Blitz ~ Dirty Little Desires by Cassie Cross: Excerpt + Giveaway!


 

Dirty Little Desires by Cassie Cross

(Dirty Little Series, #3)

Publication date: July 25th 2018

Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Oliver Warren is a man who seems to have everything. He’s rich, he’s handsome, and he owns of some of the hottest properties in the country. The only thing missing in his otherwise perfect life is the woman he’s been in love with for as long as he can remember, Felicity Williams. She just so happens to also be his best friend’s sister.

Felicity co-runs a successful lifestyle website with her sister-in-law, and she has a line of accessories in the works. Most of her dreams are well within her reach, except for one that she’s been keeping a secret, and she needs Oliver’s help to make it come true.

Felicity hatches a plan to attend a benefit that’s being held at one of Oliver’s properties, and brings Oliver as her date. After a long weekend of ups and downs, Felicity starts wondering if the feelings she has for Oliver aren’t as unrequited as she always thought they were.

When they get home, will love be enough to get them through the fallout of giving in to their dirty little desires?

Dirty Little Desires is a standalone story, no cliffhangers, and is the third and final book in the Dirty Little Series.

Goodreads | Amazon

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~Excerpt~

I push myself out of the water, contemplating another jump before dinner’s ready.

“Thinking of going again?” Oliver asks, handing me a towel. “I know you were scared.”

I shrug it off. “I just wanted to see what it was like.”

He grins. “I know. I admire that about you.”

“Which part? My recklessness where my own safety is concerned, or my swanlike grace while flying through the air?”

He laughs. “That you aren’t scared of doing things. That when there’s something you want, you go out and get it.”

He gives me a long, intense look that makes a ribbon of heat curl around my belly.

Oliver’s a gazillionaire who’s never met a person he couldn’t finesse, never come across a deal he couldn’t close. If there’s someone who has issues getting what they want, it certainly isn’t him.

“Oliver, what—”

“Want to go for a walk with me later? There’s something I want to show you,” he says, cutting me off before I can ask him what he meant just a second ago.

My stupid heart skips a beat when he asks. “Yeah,” I reply a little too quickly, like a lovesick moron.

He perks up. “Yeah?”

I smile. “Definitely.”

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~Author Bio~

Cassie Cross is a Maryland native and a romantic at heart, who lives outside of Baltimore with her two dogs and a closet full of shoes. Cassie’s fondness for swoon-worthy men and strong women are the inspiration for most of her stories, and when she’s not busy writing a book, you’ll probably find her eating takeout and indulging in her love of 80′s sitcoms.

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

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~Giveaway~

Blitz-wide giveaway (INTL)

2x $5 Amazon gift cards
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Book Blitz ~ The Gathering by Bernadette Giacomazzo: Excerpt + Giveaway!


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The Gathering by Bernadette Giacomazzo

(The Uprising, #1)

Publication date: March 31st 2018

Genres: Adult, Dystopian

The Uprising Series tells the story of three freedom fighters and their friends in high — and low — places that come together to overthrow a vainglorious Emperor and his militaristic Cabal to restore the city, and the way of life, they once knew and loved.

In The Gathering, Jamie Ryan has defected from the Cabal and has joined his former brothers-in-arms — Basile Perrinault and Kanoa Shinomura — to form a collective known as The Uprising. When an explosion leads to him crossing paths with Evanora Cunningham — a product of Jamie’s past — he discovers that The Uprising is bigger, and more important, than he thought.

Goodreads | Amazon

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Sign up for the blog tour here!

~~~

~Excerpt~

Jamie

I saw Emperor – looking like a hot air balloon, sounding as ridiculous as ever – blathering on about his personal Reichstag fire, and laying the blame of the explosion squarely at the feet of myself and my brothers-in-arms.

“…and it’s these traitors of the state – the threat to the security of my Empire of the United States of America – the defectors of the Cabal who go by Jamie Ryanand Basile Perrinault and, my greatest betrayal, Supreme Allied Commander Kanoa Shinomura…” he hollered into the microphone, which seemed to reverberate throughout the city.

At the sound of Kanoa’s name, the Cabal members below the balcony slammed the butts of their guns on the floor in rhythm. I knew that rhythm all too well – it was meant to be a war cry for those of us in the rank-and-file of the Cabal – but, to the untrained ear, it sounded like a machine gun going off…which was exactly the point.

But I couldn’t help but sneer at the accusation that the blast that nearly killed Evanora and Tommy was somehow our fault. He’d spent decades trying to catch us and failing miserably, yet in the same breath, believed we were inept enough to set off a blast that took no lives and could be cleaned up during a balmy New York evening. And he managed to sell this ridiculous belief to the crowd, no less.

“Let’s make something clear, asshole,” I muttered, “if it had been me and the boys that lit your shit up, you wouldn’t be standing here today.”

Despite the absurdity of the accusation – and despite the obvious absurdity of the accusation – the victims of psi just grunted along, agreeing with everything and anything that came out of Emperor’s mouth, in part because they didn’t know any better (they were psi victims, after all), and in part because any disagreement with what Emperor had to say was met with a fierce, painful punishment.

“His Word, Before All and Above All,” I muttered. “With liberty and justice for no one, so kiss my peasant Old New York ass and take a breath mint afterward, unless you like that funky aftertaste…”

My voice trailed off as my eyes focused on a strange woman on the balcony.

At first, I couldn’t discern who she was – she looked like someone I’d seen before, yet someone I’d never seen before.

Her hair was a garish white-blonde, stringy and lifeless, and pinned tightly behind her head with a set of black ceramic chopsticks. Her makeup was almost cartoonish – cat-like black eyeliner and matte black lipstick sat atop a ghostly white foundation. Even her outfit was a hideously hilarious cultural appropriation – a black silk kimono paired with a set of black stiletto heels. I’d seen Old New York 42nd Street prostitutes, with terrible heroin problems, sell the “Asian coquette” look better than what I’d seen before me now.

“Who the actual…” I began, hesitantly, unable to process who I was seeing before me.

And then it hit me, all at once, who she was.

For the first time in a long time, I was literally speechless.

When I could finally find my voice again, it barely came out in a whisper. “Rosie,” I squeaked.

I walked into the Ludlow Street apartment I shared with Angelique and was instantly greeted with the smell of a meat dish that, I would later learn, was called carne asada.

“Angelique!” I called out over the loud sizzling of steak as I kicked off my black Frye boots and set my matching acoustic guitar down. “Where are you, my love?”

“In here!” she called, out of sight, from the kitchen, where more clanging and banging sounds echoed over her voice.

I began walking through the apartment, shedding layers as I went along until I reached the kitchen wearing nothing but my black leather pants and a mischievous smile. I was hoping to have a little appetizer of crème d’Angelique before dinner, but when I reached the kitchen, I realized – much to my chagrin – that we weren’t alone.

Angelique, her hair tied back into a messy ponytail, was wearing a tight, white, see-through shorts jumper and a matching white apron. She was standing next to an unfamiliar-looking woman with a matching messy ponytail, but whose thick chocolate brown hair stood in sharp contrast to Angelique’s thin flaxen locks. The rest of her, too, was in stark contrast to Angelique, but not in a bad way – she was olive-skinned, in contrast to Angelique’s pale white skin; she was curvy, in contrast to Angelique’s ectomorphic figure; she was fiery, in contrast to Angelique’s ethereal nature.

They were standing side by side, working on something that smelled simply delicious. Angelique was mixing flour, sugar, and garlic powder, and her friend was adding melted butter and salted water to the resultant powder, then kneading it until it formed a dough.

“Am I interrupting something?” I asked as I walked behind Angelique, wrapped my arms around her waist, and kissed her neck, breathing in her scent of lilacs as I did so.

She smiled, then took her index finger and bopped the tip of my nose with the flour mixture. “Hey handsome,” she said, beatifically. “We’re making something special for you for dinner. We’ve got carne asada in the pan over there – we’ve got some arroz con gandules in the rice cooker – and we’re making…wait, girl, what’s this called?”Are

pas,” her friend said, smiling as she continued to knead the dough between her hands, her silver thumb ring glistening in the light of the dusk as she did so.

“Right, arepas,” Angelique repeated. “Ramira here is teaching me all her magic ways – she says this is the exact dinner I need to make if I want my man to marry me.” She giggled, then elbowed Ramira, who giggled along with Angelique.

I couldn’t help but giggle, as well, as I unentwined myself from Angelique and walked over to Ramira to properly introduce myself. “I’m going to be stuffed fordays with all this delicious food, so it’s only right that we become friends,” I began, extending my hand. “Hi there. I’m James Randall Ryan IV, I somehow lucked out enough to convince this lovely lady Angelique to be my girlfriend, and it’s a pleasure to meet you. You can call me Jamie.”

Ramira smiled, then shook my hand with two of her fingers, taking care not to smear the wet dough across my palm. “Well, my name is Ramira Diaz, Angelique is my best friend, and it’s a pleasure to meet you too. You can call me Rosie, though. Everyone else does.”

I sat under a wilting star magnolia tree and stared, intently, through the open window of a room that had to be Rosie’s dressing room. She peeled her black silk kimono off and turned her back to the frameless window, exposing her prominent ribs and shoulder blades as she did so. The sight of her suddenly-bare, emaciated frame shocked me, especially given how pronounced her curves were in our younger years, and tears welled up in my eyes yet again.

In the decades since Angelique and my son had died, I could count the number of times I’d cried on one hand. In the past 72 hours, though – as I realized that my best friend’s kid, and my best friend’s girlfriend, were alive and well, and that the Uprising was bigger than I’d ever imagined – the tears came quickly and flowed easily, and I couldn’t decide if this was a sign of strength or weakness on my part.

Rosie slipped a shimmering white camisole over her emaciated frame, which she then tucked into a pair of white linen slacks. I couldn’t get over how thin she’d gotten, then wondered if this was by her own design, or if she was under orders from that evil husband of hers. No way would Jordan be cool with this, I thought to myself. On his fucking grave would this go on. On his fucking grave. And wouldn’t you know it – here we are, on his fucking grave.

I saw Rosie leave the room and begin to head down a flight of stairs, and I took that as an opportunity to get her alone, away from the rabid Cabal and out of sight of the vainglorious Emperor. She’d taken a few steps away from her building, and into Emperor’s Park, before passing by the wilting star magnolia tree that I was hiding behind. It was only when I saw the back of her slicked back, perfect ponytail – what a difference from the one she was wearing when we first met, I thought – that I saw the opportunity to get her alone and began walking behind her.

“You’ve come a long way from making arepas on Ludlow Street,” I said, tapping her on the shoulder when I finally caught up with her.

She spun around, her face scrunched up in fear, and for a split second, I thought she was going to hit me. But just as quickly, she relaxed as her eyes registered who owned the disembodied voice. “Jamie,” she whispered tearfully. “You’re here. You’re alive. I didn’t realize…”

“How the hell did you not?” I asked, furrowing my eyebrows and side-eyeing her. “Your damned husband has been hunting me for decades.”

“I knew that,” she said, taking ragged breaths. “But just the fact that he was never able to take you alive led me to believe that you were…you know…” Her voice trailed off.

I wasn’t convinced, and I continued to stare at her intently as I scratched my left cheek, which was now beginning to show the first signs of salt-and-pepper beard stubble. “First of all, why the hell are you talking like you’re Queen Elizabeth? Second, let me just state it for the record: you give your asshole husband way too much credit if you think he can take me down.”

Rosie bit her lower lip, then shifted her eyes down. I put my hand under her chin and tipped her face up, forcing her eyes to meet mine as I tried, desperately, to search for a sign of the Rosie I once knew. “Rosie,” I whispered intently. “It’s me. You don’t have to hide from me.”

Her face was a blank slate. “My name is Rose. Rose Cunningham,” she said with flat affect.

“Oh, bullshit,” I whispered, even more intently. “Whatever happened to ‘call me Rosie, everyone else does’? What happened to that woman who was making arepas in the kitchen with my Angelique?”

That got her attention, and her deep brown eyes flashed with fire as she balled up her fists and began swinging at me. “You shit! You bastard! You did it! You almost killed my baby!”

I ducked, bobbed and weaved, avoiding each blow as I carefully tried to talk her down from the ledge. “Rosie! What the hell are you talking about? I didn’t do that shit! I swear!”

She continued to swing at me. “Yes! Yes, you did!” she squealed tearfully, repeating the same “yes, yes” with each swing, her voice getting louder each time.

“Do you want to knock it off before the fuckin’ Cabal finds us, Rosie? The fuck is wrong with you? Jesus Christ!” I was shouting despite myself and began scanning the landscape frantically for Cabal soldiers that would have undoubtedly heard us, all while bobbing and weaving like a prizefighter to avoid getting punched in the face.

She swung even harder and squealed even louder. “You tried to kill my baby! Just like you killed yours!”

That line finally got me to react, and I had to steady my breathing to stop from clocking her in the mouth. Even in the throes of the worst of my Faustian behavior, I never hit a woman, and neither did any of my bandmates – the thought of violence against a woman, let alone a woman we’d loved, didn’t even cross our drug-addled minds.

Instead, I grabbed her wrists and forced them down to her sides, holding them in place at hip level as she struggled, trying to hit me, until she finally began whimpering in defeat.

“Now you listen to me, Ramira Diaz, and you listen well,” I began, angrily. “You may have forgotten everything you were and are, but I sure as fuck haven’t forgotten a goddamn thing, and let me rest assure you, I never fuckin’ will.”

Her lower lip was trembling, her eyes were watering, and it became evident that she was on the verge of tears. Still, I continued. “So, let me get a few things out of the way now, so we’re not confused. Number one: that blast? It wasn’t me. It wasn’t anyone tied to me. It wasn’t anyone whose name I can even spell. Because let me assure you, again, that if it were me, or anyone tied to me, we’d have burned down the entire fuckin’ city, even if it meant killing ourselves in the process, and wouldn’t have left a survivor anywhere on this God-forsaken island.

“Number two: you know goddamn well I didn’t kill Angelique or our baby. Now I wear their death on my heart every. Fucking. Day. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in twenty fucking years, from the day they were killed, because I can’t get their murders out of my mind. There are times I wish I was dead, just so that I don’t have to live with the guilt of their murders, but no, here I am, and ain’t that a fuckin’ bitch from Hell. I’d give all the money in the world to have my Angelique back. I’d trade my life for Jordan’s any day of the week. And my son – my only legacy – never had a chance at life, and you think that’s all fair?

“Number three – and this is the most important part, Rosie, goddamnit, you’d better fuckin’ listen to this if you listen to nothing else: remember that promise I made to you in the hospital room? All those years ago? Because I fuckin’ do. And that’s why when Evanora and Tommy came down the Bowery after the blast, and I realized who she was, I made sure she was safe and clean and warm…”

Rosie looked shocked. “Wait. She came to you?”

I searched her face, trying to see if I could register where her loyalties lie before I continued to answer the question. For some reason, however, I couldn’t make it out. I even tried to read Rosie’s mind using a gentle form of psi, but I still couldn’t read her mind at all. It was like trying to probe a brick wall. So, to protect Evanora – and the rest of us – I chose to cover my tracks. “Yeah,” I said airily, “she mentioned something about listening to Uprising Radio.”

The name of Uprising Radio registered some type of recognition with Rosie, and her eyes lit up slightly. “My baby has heard Uprising Radio?”

“I don’t know for sure,” I continued, still adopting an airy affect, “but I’m pretty sure that’s what she said.” Using my Cabal training, I put a mental wall between my thoughts and Rosie, mostly because I didn’t know how much training she’d had in the psi arts, and I wasn’t sure if she, too, could read my mind. And if, God forbid, her loyalties lied with that pathetic excuse of her husband, I could at least protect, if not myself, then the whole Uprising movement.

I made sure the wall was firmly in place before I continued. “I think I’ve heard Uprising Radio a few times, but I don’t know much about it, who does it, or anything of the sort.”

“Yeah,” Rosie said, hesitantly, behind a mental brick wall of her own, “I have no idea, either.”

We were calmer, now – our breath was steady, our thoughts were collected, and Rosie’s fists were limp. I finally felt confident that she wasn’t going to try to hit me again, so I loosened my grip on her wrists.

But I suddenly found myself unable to let her go, so I slid my hands from her wrists to her hands and grabbed her fingers lightly. I was overcome with emotion.

“What is it, Jamie?” Her voice was cracking.

I exhaled loudly, then drew in a ragged breath. “Do you think about him, Rosie? Do you think about Jordan at all?”

She closed her eyes and allowed the tears to fall as she exhaled shakily. “Every day of my life,” she said softly. “There’s not a day that goes by that Jordan doesn’t cross my mind. Every time I look at Evanora – every time I hear her laugh – he comes to my mind. Sometimes, she gives me this look – you remember, Jamie? You remember when Jordan would hear something that was just too stupid for words, and he would get this look on his face, like, ‘were you dropped on your head as a child?’” – and to this, I gave a half-smile and a nod – “and now, she gets that look. And that one eyebrow” – she took her finger and drew on her left eyebrow – “it would just go up like…like…”

She dropped her hand as her voice trailed off, her eyes filling with tears.

I nodded my head, closed my eyes, and sighed. “Fuckin’ guy,” I said, opening my eyes and looking at Rosie. “So. You didn’t see me, right?”

Rosie smiled and winked at me. “Ivan Sapphire? Please. Get over yourself, rock star.” She squeezed my hands one last time for good measure. “I’m going to leave now. I’m not going to look back because I don’t want to see where you’re going. This way, if someone with bad intentions against you asks me if I know where you are, I can answer honestly when I say I don’t know. But just because I don’t look back, doesn’t mean I want to see you go. I need you to understand that, Jamie Ryan. I don’t need you to over-analyze things that don’t need over-analyzing. I need you to let me go, Jamie Ryan, and I need you to know that I love you, and I thank you, from the bottom of my heart.”

She finally let go of my hands, gave me a slight nod, then turned and walked back to her home. I watched her, silently, keeping the promise I made so long ago to Jordan Barker and didn’t leave what was once known as Central Park until I saw, for sure, that she was safe inside.

~~~

~Author Bio~

 

With an impressive list of credentials earned over the course of two decades, Bernadette R. Giacomazzo is a multi-hyphenate in the truest sense of the word: an editor, writer, photographer, publicist, and digital marketing specialist who has demonstrated an uncanny ability to thrive in each industry with equal aplomb. Her work has been featured in Teen Vogue, People, Us Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, and many, many more. She served as the news editor of Go! NYC Magazine for nearly a decade, the executive editor of LatinTRENDS Magazine for five years, the eye candy editor of XXL Magazine for two years, and the editor-at-large at iOne/Zona de Sabor for two years. As a publicist, she has worked with the likes of Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and his G-Unit record label, rapper Kool G. Rap, and various photographers, artists, and models. As a digital marketing specialist, Bernadette is Google Adwords certified, has an advanced knowledge of SEO, PPC, link-building, and other digital marketing techniques, and has worked for a variety of clients in the legal, medical, and real estate industries.

Based in New York City, Bernadette is the co-author of Swimming with Sharks: A Real World, How-To Guide to Success (and Failure) in the Business of Music (for the 21st Century), and the author of the forthcoming dystopian fiction series, The Uprising. She also contributed a story to the upcoming Beyonce Knowles tribute anthology, The King Bey Bible, which will be available in bookstores nationwide in the summer of 2018.

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

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~Giveaway~

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Signed copy of The Gathering

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Book Blitz ~ My Dream Job by Marcella Swan: Excerpt + Giveaway!


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My Dream Job by Marcella Swan

Publication date: July 14th 2018

Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Callie

He sees right through me. I like it. No, I crave it. His attention is like an opiate. It isn’t about the money. It isn’t about the power.

Then what? Even ask myself, I already know the answer.

He’s the summit of the mountain I can’t scale, no matter which tools I use. I would give him my body, but he tosses women away without a glance. I could offer my mind, but he’d play me like a well-fingered instrument. He’s mastered life and everything in it.

He holds the secrets. He is everything I want and cannot get for myself. I’ll find his weakness and when I do …

Alec

I’ve grown bored with success. The extraordinary has become my routine. Then she walked into my seminar and I felt the flame of challenge. I wanted her mind, her innocence, her body.

It wasn’t her youth, not even her siren’s body. It was the untilled soil of her potential that drew me toward her.

She was the only thing I could not buy, could not create and could not command. She was the supreme protégé; the urn to receive my carefully cultivated, highly sensitive awareness.

She sat there before me, willing and adoring.

Could I resist my urge to make her what I wanted her to be? Could I leave her richer for having been with me? Could I leave her … ever?

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~Excerpt~

In between shaking hands, I coolly navigated the rooms, noting that everyone had adhered to costume and seemed to be enjoying themselves. There were two champagne fountains set up centrally and the buffets held warming trays with superbly prepared, gourmet level foods. After all, the event cost $2500 per plate, so at least the food had better be good and the booze plentiful.

“Hello John, how have you been? I don’t believe I’ve seen you since Singapore?”

“Well, Alec, you’re looking fine as usual. Always very fit. Any new deals you can let me in on? Yes, I believe it was Singapore.”

“John, you don’t mean to tell me your instincts are failing you?” I teased him. “Surely you’re the one with the tips to share?”

He shook his head as he left and turned back to the woman standing at his left. I assumed she was his wife, although I had never met her. I moved on.

“Alec! I hear you’ve taken on a new protégé.”

I nodded and looked toward the staircase. Callie hadn’t come down yet and I wondered if she was getting cold feet. “Yes Robert, as a matter of fact I have. Don’t try to steal her from me, now promise?”

“As good as all that, is she?” Robert eyebrows peaked with curiosity.

I neither confirmed nor denied and that was exactly what he expected. I was fairly certain once people met her, the question would come behind my back whether she was my business protégé or mistress. Let them think what they want, I thought to myself. Callie would set them straight.

I felt before I heard, the raised pitch in the conversation undertones. I knew something was happening and looked toward the staircase. Sure enough, Callie was coming down and there wasn’t a word strong enough to describe how beautiful she was.

She had interpreted the pirate theme to include female pirates. Most of the women there were dressed in 19th-century ball gowns, playing the role of the captured mistress or willing stowaway the pirates would use for their pleasure. But not my Callie.

Her beautiful, long legs were encased in black leather, the waist rising higher and ending just below her bosom. She wore a full-sleeved blouse, gathered at the shoulder and ballooning over her long arms before clutching her wrists in crystal studded bands. Its collars lay wide open, cut deeply below her décolletage, the suntanned mounds of her perfect breasts hugging one another in that curtained stage. Her long blonde hair had been drawn high above her neck, cascading in curls below her black, pirate’s hat. It, too, was studded with sparkling crystals. Black, high-heeled leather boots went over where her pantaloons ended and a cummerbund of crimson velvet emphasized her tiny waist. Every man in the room made a wish and every woman scowled. She was a diabolical mistress of the night and she was mine.

She waved at me over the heads of the crowd and I nodded and motioned her forward. People parted to make her path as she came toward me. There was no need to hush the crowd, they were already silent with appreciation. “Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to introduce my assistant and protégé, Ms. Callie Courtney. I’ve been fortunate enough to snap up this talented young lady and include her in my organization before the rest of you even knew she was available. I encourage each of you to meet her personally this evening as she will often be my personal representative. She will be authorized to discuss and execute all business on my behalf.”

My introduction drew an intake of breath across the room. I was not known for giving up control of any aspect of my business and the fact that I had just transferred trust onto Callie’s beautiful shoulders was rare indeed. A stuttering of quiet comments blossomed across the room and soon there was a general applause for her introduction. Callie beamed, smiling graciously and tilting her head to individuals around the room. She leaned toward me and whispered in my ear. “I’m so nervous,” she said, her voice higher pitched than normal in her anxiety.

“Honey, they’re more afraid of you than you are of them, I guarantee you. Everyone in this room owes me in one way or another. Think of yourself as a queen who can order heads chopped off.”

She looked at me, her eyes wide, her mouth forming an O-shape before dissolving into a smile as she winked.

~~~

~Author Bio~

Marcella Swann has been putting words on paper for as long as she can remember. After working for years in the hard-boiled world of journalism, she how devotes her time to writing contemporary romances of strong-willed women who win the men of their dreams. As passionate about love as the beauty of a story well told, Marcella is a complete romantic and believes everyone desires their happily ever after. A small town girl from Louisiana, Marcella now lives in New York City and starts each day walking her Yorkie in the park. She also swings a mean kettle bell at the gym and loves karaoke nights with her friends.

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

 

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~Giveaway~

Blitz-wide giveaway (INTL)

$25 Amazon gift card
a Rafflecopter giveaway

~~~

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