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Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Release Day Blitz, Giveaway & Review - Seducing Death, A Moon Virus Novel By Cassandra Lawson

Title: Seducing Death

Series: Moon Virus Book 3

Author: Cassandra Lawson
Genre: Dystopian Paranormal Romance
Date of Publication: 4/29/2015
ISBN: 978-1508860143
ASIN: B00UPPH8OG
Number of pages: 314

Where to Buy
Synopsis
        In the decade following the brutal murder of his wife and daughter, Ian has existed in a world built on grief and hatred. Just when Ian has finally begun to claw his way through the shadows of his past, a knife to the heart ends it all . . . or is it the beginning? After waking up in a strange home, Ian’s only companion is the woman who saved him. Undeniably drawn to her, Ian finds himself wondering if it really is possible to love again.
        Trapped in a world where she is little more than a pawn for the Fae, Kyleigh long ago accepted the reality of her existence. She is no one’s savior and no one’s guardian angel; she is death. That is until she breaks all the rules to save a vampire many believe beyond salvation. Ian sparks a passion she never believed possible and reawakens emotions she thought long buried.
        While secluded in a realm between life and death, Ian and Kyleigh are free to explore their feelings for each other. When enemies, past and present, join forces to destroy those Ian loves, they are forced to leave the safety of Kyleigh’s realm. Can their fragile bond survive when they are faced with the demons of Ian’s past?
Excerpt
       “Of course I had a choice,” Kyleigh argued. “I could have done the right thing. Instead, I selfishly used you to avoid a punishment I deserved. You have every right to be mad. In fact, you should be furious.”
       “The situation you were in could have ended very badly for you. If you hadn’t helped me, you wouldn’t have been in that position at all. How can I be mad at you for doing what you had to do to save yourself?” Ian asked. “Hell, I owe you that much. Being stuck here with you is a small price to pay.”
       That was another big reality check. Ian was with her because he had no choice in the matter and accepted it because he felt he owed her. Being in her presence was merely a way to repay a debt.“You can let go of my hand now,” she said.
        Ian sighed and looked like he was considering refusing, but he finally released her hand. “Sit down,” he said and pointed to one of her chairs.
        Kyleigh hesitated for a moment before taking a seat. Rather than sitting across the room, Ian grabbed a chair and moved it until they were sitting across from each other, so close their knees were almost touching.
       “I haven’t wanted any woman since Kate was killed,” he said, leaning forward to rest his elbows on his knees.
       Kyleigh nodded. “I understand. Calling you my mate doesn’t mean I expect you to act like my mate.”
        “Good,” he said, “because, honestly, I’m not sure I have it in me to be your mate. I’m broken in so many ways. Mitchell has helped me heal, but I’m not sure I have what it takes to love a woman again. That doesn’t change how much I want you, Kyleigh. Just thinking about being inside of you gets me hard. The reason we need to talk about this is that I need to know where this thing between us is headed. I need to know if you’re open to exploring the attraction between us with the understanding that I can’t really be your mate.” Ian hesitated and then looked down at his hands. “Please tell me I didn’t sound like as much of an asshole as I think I did. I’m trying really hard to be nice, but I’m not very good at it.”
        “You were just being honest,” she said, her voice shaking slightly from nerves and excitement. “I don’t have much experience in this area.”
        Ian leaned forward to take both of her hands in his. “I know, and that gets me more turned on. You’re so innocent, and it makes me feel possessive to think that you might be experiencing things for the first time with me.”
About Cassandra Lawson
        Cassandra Lawson is an author and homeschooling mother of three from the San Francisco Bay area. She has always had a very active imagination and loves making up stories. When she is not writing she enjoys baking, spending time with her family, listening to music, or curling up with a good book.
Connect With Cassandra Lawson
Blog    Facebook    Goodreads    Twitter
Giveaway
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My Review
Seducing DeathSeducing Death by Cassandra Lawson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the third book in the moon virus series. I really enjoyed the first two and was really looking forward to this. I wasn't disappointed.

This is Ian's story. We've met him before in the series. He's bitter and unable to move on from a tragedy. He wasn't the most endearing of people but I could understand where he was coming from. But just when he seemed to be turning his life around and have something to live for it seems that his time has run out. Or has it?

Ian's character grew a lot through this book and I enjoyed reading it and getting to know the real Ian. He is a great multi faceted character who's strong when needed but also protective and honourable as well.

I loved kyleigh. She's strong but compassionate and fair. She can stand up for herself but doesn't expect great things for herself. She's resigned to her existence. She didn't expect to develop feelings for Ian. I'm glad she did as she deserved to find some happiness as much as Ian did.

They were both good characters that I could connect with and cared what happened to them. It was good to catch up with previous characters from the series and meet some new ones as well.

The story is written well and the plot flows along with lots of romance, suspense and even some comedy. I really like this series. It's a completely different twist on the vampire legend that is really clever. It's a well thought out and executed story world with different and unusual paranormal species, good plots and genuinely unpleasant bad guys.

I enjoyed this from start to finish and can't wait for the next in the series.

I would definitely recommend this and if you're a fan of paranormal romance and you haven't read this great series yet then you are definitely missing out.

Calling All Bookaholics :)


Monday, 27 April 2015

Blog Tour & Review - Dangerous Love By Casey Clipper

DL Tour Banner

Title: Dangerous Love

Author: Casey Clipper

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date:March 10, 2015

Cover

dangerous love international bookcover pic

Synopsis

From Contemporary Romance Author Casey Clipper comes book 3 of The Love Series.

Warning, book 3 of The Love Series is about bad boy extraordinaire Derk Forester. This novel contains strong/foul language, violence, and sex. After all, he works for the mob. No rainbows or kittens in his story. Possibly a puppy. Oh, and no cliffhangers in this series.

Dangerous Love:

Derk Forester is a man who's used to getting what he wants when he wants. He takes, conquers, then saunters away in all aspects of his life - work and play. Years embedded deep in the mob and a sour taste for relationships, he has zero desire to find a permanent partner to make a home with. His carefree lifestyle leaves him with a long list of inconsequential, bed-rocking, no-strings-attached women. A daily life he relishes until he meets...her. The one woman who could alter his world. The one woman he can't get out of his head. The one woman who could bring him to his knees. The one woman who could be used against him.

If it wasn't for bad luck, Mackenzie Hiland would have no luck at all. A cheating husband, shafted by the courts, no money or home, her life is a dismal list of horrible choices and even worse consequences. After acknowledging she needs to change her decision making skills, Mackenzie can't help but to be lured in by the dangerous man, who's taken an interest in her and is blatant in his desire to get her into his bed. Despite the fact she tries to distance herself from Derk, he refuses her rejections. Will Derk become another addition to the long list of regretful decisions she's made? Could Derk possibly be the man that doesn't screw her over? Or will Derk be the one choice that finally takes her to a point of no return?

*Dangerous Love is book 3 of The Love Series. Though this is not a cliffhanger series and the novel can be read as a standalone, you might find it more enjoyable to read the entire series.

**Warning: Not suitable for under 18 yrs of age. Contains strong language, violence, and sex.

Novels in The Love Series:

Book 1 - Silent Love

Book 2 - Unexpected Love

Book 3 - Dangerous Love

Book 4 – (final installment) coming soon!

Teaser

Teaser

Excerpt

A few minutes after ten, Derk and Smith sauntered into Cards to find it filled with wall to wall drunks.

"Holy sh*t," Derk spat.

Mackenzie was on top of the bar with Kayla and two other bartenders doing some sort of dance, gyrating to the pulse of the music. He could have sworn he felt his blood pressure spike. F*&k this shit. It was bad enough she just recovered from a concussion from dancing on that cesspool of a bar, but to be on display like a pole dancer. Forget it. Not his girl. She needed to find a goddamn secretary job.

Seeing red, he stormed right up to the bar, shoved drunk bastards out of his way, until he stood below her. It only took a moment for her to catch his eye. A flash of fear lit those beautiful blues. Luckily for her and everyone else nearby, it was the end of the number. She jumped off the bar to a round of applause and went right back to pouring drafts. Conveniently out of arm’s reach. When she approached him, he reached across the bar and yanked her close.

"I don’t like it," he growled. Eyes narrowed, he studied her as she nervously bit her lip. The caveman in him wanted to toss her over his shoulder and cart her the f&%k out of the disease infested place. Buuuut, that would more than likely have her screaming, and the only time he ever wanted to hear her shriek was when he was pounding into that tight body.

F&%k. F*&k. F*&k.

How the hell did he deal with this? He wasn't used to wanting a woman so badly he went all alpha or whatever. It made him feel...exposed, like he was gonna lose his sh@t.

"You realize you don't have a say in what I do for a living," she challenged, her voice unsure.

"You really want to get into it with me, Mac? Do you?" he countered, totally turned on by her defiance.

Shrugging, she looked him dead in the eyes. "Do you really want to get into this debate with me?"

She squared her shoulders and straightened her spine, ready for a battle.

Assaulting her mouth, he kissed her hard, his tongue reaching as far back as it would go. He was so f*&king hot for her, he wanted to take her on the dirty-a** wood bar. Apparently, she was just as hot, because she met him stroke for stroke as their tongues danced violently. He dislodged their lip lock. "Mac, you're mine tonight."

Her eyes glittered excitedly. "You think?"

"You don't have a f*&king choice, M. I'm tired of waiting for you. No more." Derk released his grip on her and reluctantly allowed her to return to her duties. Raking his eyes up and down her fine body, little did she know what she was in for when she clocked out in a couple hours. Waving toward the far end of bar, she let him know where she was stationed for the night. He and Smith muscled their way and not-so-gently escorted two barely twenty-one year old punks off two stools.

Mac quickly slid a beer in front of them, then went about her business. Derk ran a hand through his hair and released a long breath. He picked up his longneck and took a drag, his eyes plastered to Mac. As if she could feel his penetrating gaze upon her, she turned his direction and her cheeks pinked. Snorting, he crooked a finger at her. The minx sauntered over to him and leaned on the bar, teasing him with her perfect breasts.

"You're coming home with me after work," he demanded.

Narrowing her eyes, she said, "Are you asking or telling me?"

About to admit that was a direct order, he clamped his mouth shut.

"Will you?" he asked, with only a hint less demand.

She rolled her eyes which caused Smith to chuckle. A rarity for the man.

"You look tired."

"It's been a sh*tty day," he admitted.

Nodding, as if she sensed that, she relented. "Okay."

"I'll pick you up," he said. "Three?"

"No, midnight. I get off early." She gave him the most awesome wicked smile.

He leaned over into her personal space. "You don't have to work here, you know."

Furrowing her brows. "What do you mean?"

"Just saying." He shrugged.

Sh*t, what the hell was that? Sometimes that brain filter thing shut off on him. Now wasn't the time to spew stupid crap like she could live with him and he'd take care of her.

Beside him, Smith quietly chuckled, again. He'd kick the bastard if he didn't think Smith would retaliate with a bullet to his knee cap.

Derk picked up his beer and downed it, tossed some cash on the bar, then stood to leave. Leaning over, he grabbed Mac at the nape of her neck and pulled her in for a blazing goodbye kiss.

When he had enough of her taste to tie him over until later, he stalked out of the place before he opened his mouth and said more crazy, stupid sh*t.

Trailer

Purchase Links

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Amazon CA

About The Author

CChomepage

Contemporary Romance Author Casey Clipper lives in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, PA, which naturally makes her a football, hockey, and baseball fan. Like you, she is an avid romance reader and loves to lose herself in a good story. She also has an admitted addiction to chocolate. Casey writes contemporary dramatic romance and contemporary edge romance. She is an active member of the Romance Writers of America, Contemporary Romance Authors, Authors Guild, Pennwriters, TRRW, IAN, and ASMSG.

Facebook | Twitter | Website | TSU

LOGOFINAL


Dangerous Love (Love, #3)Dangerous Love by Casey Clipper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've read previous books in this series and was looking forward to Derk's story.

After a messy breakup, Mackenzie is working in a bar to make ends meet. This is where she meets Derk. Initial first impressions for her are not so great but he does end up redeeming himself a little. As for Derk, he's pretty much immediately attracted to Mackenzie but is not looking for serious.

I enjoyed this a lot. The writing was good and the plot flowed well. I liked Mackenzie. She was down on her luck but still had backbone. I enjoyed Derk's character from previous books. He was still cheeky and a bit bad but underneath had a softer side. Personally as he had connections with the mob etc I would have preferred him to be a little 'badder' as, at times he seems a little too nice. I would have preferred a little more angst over all but that's just me.

The secondary characters were good and pretty well rounded. It was good to catch up with previous characters from the series.

All in all this was a good story. Did it blow me away? No, but it was a good story that was well written and I would definitely read more from this author.

I would recommend to readers who enjoy a good romance.

Calling All Bookaholics :)


Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Cover Reveal - Souls Unfractured (Hades Hangmen #3) By Tillie Cole



Title: Souls Unfractured
Series: Hades Hangmen #3
Author: Tillie Cole
Age group: New Adult
Genre: Dark Contemporary Romance
Release date: TBA

GOODREADS LINK


BLURB
NOT YET AVAILABLE


AUTHOR BIO

Tillie Cole is a Northern girl through and through. She originates from a place called Teesside on that little but awesomely sunny (okay I exaggerate) Isle called Great Britain. She was brought up surrounded by her English rose mother — a farmer’s daughter, her crazy Scottish father, a savagely sarcastic sister and a multitude of rescue animals and horses.


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Monday, 13 April 2015

Blog Tour & Review - Paranormal Heat By G. Mallone





MADNESS- Vincent finds himself in the same room as his beautiful wife and the handsome shifter he's been having an affair with on the side one night. Will catastrophe follow or is there something more?

COUGAR'S HEAT- Beckham Marlow returns home for summer break from college and runs into his old babysitter. Allie Buchanan, recently widowed and harboring a secret, may make their reunion a little friendlier than originally anticipated. Cougars can be fun and somewhat naughty, but what happens when Beckham discovers Allie is the real deal?

CHAPTER FORTY-TWO- A twenty-something author decides he needs a change and moves halfway across the country in hopes of overcoming his writer’s block so he can finish the ultimate fantasy romance novel. Instead he inherits a pretty little blonde ghost who can’t seem to keep her hands off him. Most ghosts have an appetite for mischief, but Keegan Taylor’s ghost girl is hungry for him
 

(Free on Kindle Unlimited)



G. Mallone resides in rural Tennessee. He punches the time clock every day and then comes home to get lost in worlds of magic, sex, and romance. He's still under the age of 30, but not for much longer. He enjoys movies, music, reading, writing, and 'muddin', but make no mistake--his male characters are nothing short of southern gentlemen. G currently has one book available, a collection of erotic paranormal short stories that can be enjoyed by readers on-the-go while they wait for doctor's appointments or while traveling. MISTRESS and HOOK IN LOVE are expected to be released in 2015

My Review

Paranormal Heat: A Collection of Erotic Short StoriesParanormal Heat: A Collection of Erotic Short Stories by G. Mallone
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well first things first I'll start with saying that generally I don't tend to read erotica. I'm not a prude, not by a long shot, but I prefer character driven stories and I've found this can be lacking sometimes in this genre. Having said this however, I went into this with an open mind and I was really surprised. Pleasantly so.

The writing skill in this collection of short stories is very good. Bear in mind that in a short story you do not have the luxury of being able to include pages of back story so it can be hard to inject real feeling, emotions and romance into the plot. I didn't feel that way here. The characters were three dimensional and I connected with them instantly. The dialogue was realistic and good. The writing was excellent. It was edited well and the plots of each story flowed along nicely. These stories do have a paranormal twist but don't let that influence you if you're not a fan of paranormal. It doesn't overtake the plot and I think the word 'twist' is accurately used as apposed to full on paranormal.

Even though these stories were short they were complete and well rounded with actual plot as apposed to just sex. The sex itself was written well and wasn't gratuitous.

Out of the three stories my favourite is probably Chapter 42 but I enjoyed them all.

This is a great debut from G. Mallone and I really look forward to reading more from him in the future. Definitely one to watch.


Thursday, 9 April 2015

Reveal - Chapter one - The consequence Of Loving Colton By Rachel Van Dyken




RELEASE DATE: APRIL 21, 2015




It’s all fun and games…until someone’s heart is broken.


They’re not kids anymore, but Milo Caro is certain that Colton Mathews will only see her as his best friend’s little sister for the rest of their lives. After all, he made that clear the night before she left for college. But four years later, her brother is getting married and Colt’s the best man—and guess who is the best man’s last-minute date?

Milo vows to use the wedding to either claim the smoldering firefighter’s heart or douse this torch for good. When Max—her best friend from college, who may be carrying a torch of his own—crashes the party, they devise a plan to make Colt see what he’s missing. But after Colt catches on, he decides to cook up his own revenge.


Now it’s personal. Colt and Milo are at war, and between Max’s questionable acting methods, an unfortunate trip to jail, and a maniacal fiancée, what could possibly go right?










Milo


Four years later


I gripped the steering wheel with both hands. Actually, I would have gripped it with my teeth, toes, and ankles had my brain actually fired fast enough to send the message: Red alert! Red alert!

Instead, mouth dry, I just sat there like an idiot.

I couldn’t think of anything to say to make it better—anything. I couldn’t even give the guy a smile, which really was a shame considering it was my best asset.

“Milo!” Colton tapped the door of my light-blue Mercedes. “You look good.”

I blinked. Well, I thought I blinked, I wasn’t really sure. The car was still running, you’d think I would at least have enough sense to take my foot off the pedal and put it into park, but all I could do was stare. Fantastic. Twenty-one years old and still dealing with sweaty palms because Colton Mathews had said my name.

One thing I was sure of—my mouth was still hanging slightly ajar. Drool would soon follow and then Colton would have just one more reason to make fun of me—Jason’s little sister.

“You all right?” He leaned his muscled forearms against the open window and stuck his head in. Merciful God in heaven, he still smelled the same. His spicy cologne blending with his perfect tan skin would have made any girl pause, or swallow her tongue, or sweat; really, take your pick. “You do realize at some point you need to turn off the car and go inside the house, right, little girl?”

And there it was, I wasn’t any girl. To Colt, I was Jason’s little sister. Nothing more.

It didn’t matter that my boobs cheerfully filled out a C cup or that I’d had my braces off for over seven years. I still wasn’t a woman to him.

God must have taken pity on me, because for some reason, in that instant, when the smell of Acqua Di Gio floated into my car, I snapped out of my insane moment and smiled.

“Fine. Great. Awesome. Perfect. You?” Too many answers, Milo. Too many answers.

Colton chuckled. It was a deep chuckle. The type that makes girls sigh while simultaneously trying to figure out how to get out of their clothes and trap the man into marriage. Seriously. His smile was one that made girls want the condom to break.

Great, now I was thinking about condoms.

Condoms and Colton.

A barking dog interrupted my sexual daydreams. It was Max’s ringtone. “Um, one second.” I put up my finger and shooed Colton away from the window as I pressed “Answer” and let the window close. He smiled, seemingly amused, and leaned against the car.

“How goes the first day of childhood hell, my friend?”

“That depends,” I whispered into the phone, not taking my eyes off Colton as he stood facing the window. He was tall enough that I was basically staring at his lower abs and lower . . . body. Heat flooded my face, informing me without a doubt that crimson decorated my cheeks.

“Why are we whispering?” asked Max, my best friend from college.

“Because we are in the car.”

“You are in the car. I’m at Starbucks.”

“Whatever,” I conceded with a snort, waving my hand in the air flippantly. “And it’s not going well. In fact, I’m pretty sure Colton thinks I have a learning disability.”

“Why would he think that?”

I sighed into the phone and tried to concentrate on anything but the fact that Colton was standing a few inches away from me. So freaking close. “I kind of, sort of . . . blacked out when he was talking to me.”

“So where are you now?”

“We’ve established this. I’m in the car.”

Max sighed. “Then where’s Colton?”

“Outside the car.”

“I’m confused.”

“I’m an idiot.” I groaned and smacked my hand against my forehead. “When the phone rang I closed the window to answer it but now he’s not moving.”

“Well . . .” Max cleared his throat. “I guess there are worse things in life than a hot guy standing outside your window, right?”

“Right.” My voice wavered. “But he’s like facing the door. All of him.”

“All of him?”

“His parts,” I clarified. Swear I felt my entire body go up in flames. Great, so now I was going to hell for looking at his parts. His very nice parts. His yummy, tight, straining—I needed to stop before I gave myself a stroke. “He’s facing the window and leaning against the car and I swear, Max, the whole front of his body is pressed up against . . . my car.”

“Naked?”

“What?” I yelled.

“Well, you said his parts.”

“Not his parts-parts,” I clarified. Shoot me now. Could this conversation get any more awkward? “Never mind, I mean—oh, crap.”

“What? What’s happening?”

I could see Max now, coffee thrust in the air, pacing the Starbucks floor like a crazy person.

“He’s stretching across the car and—” I stopped mid-sentence. “Shit, my brother’s on the other side.”

“Let me get this straight.” Max chuckled. “You have your lifelong crush, who just so happens to be your brother’s best friend, on one side, his parts pressed firmly against your hot little Mercedes, and your brother, who has no idea of this sad infatuation, on the other side, making it possible for you to ogle his best friend’s goodies?”

“Yup.” My breathing picked up as I heard Colton laugh and then his front pressed against my door. “Good Lord, I’m sweating. He’s—”

“Please don’t finish that sentence. It makes me want to puke, and as much as you make fun of me for not having a girlfriend, it’s not because I prefer men, so please . . . spare me the details.”

“Fine.”

“Milo?”

“What?” My eyes were glued to Colton’s hot body as his stomach stretched across an eight-pack straight out of a glossy magazine cover.

“Seduce him.”

“With what?” I whisper-yelled. “I have nothing to offer him!”

“It’s not like I want you to plant a chocolate trail from the ground to your lips, Milo.”

“I know that!” I snapped. “Besides, he’s allergic to chocolate.”

“Please tell me you don’t have his medical history memorized.”

“I don’t,” I lied, suddenly finding great interest in the black leather steering wheel while my shame increased. “Besides, it doesn’t matter. His Facebook profile says he likes blondes. I have dark hair.”

“I’m going to ignore the fact that you stalk him on Facebook and just help you fix the problem. So dye your hair.”

“Yeah, let me just get the hair dye from the backseat, Max!”

“Sheesh, touchy. You, my friend, need to get laid.”

“Tell me about it,” I muttered. “I’m the one stuck in the damn car with nothing but my Kindle[SBK4]  and a prayer.”

“Your life makes me sad.”

“Shut up.”

“Seduce him.”

“Again, with what?”

“Your body.”

“I have no body.” I slumped against the seat in a pout. “Besides, I don’t know the first thing about seduction. And he hates me.”

“He doesn’t hate you.”

“I tried kissing him when I was sixteen and he laughed in my face.”

“To be fair, your skirt was tucked into your underwear.”

“Not the point!” I yelled for real this time. Why the heck had I drunk that entire bottle of wine and confessed all my embarrassing moments to Max? The terrible two outside my car began banging loudly on the windows. Great, I’d probably captured their attention when I raised my voice. And fantastic, the car began to move. I’d officially awakened the beasts.

“I’m in hell.”

“Well . . . ” Max laughed. “Don’t let the flames give you a sunburn. I gotta run, just saw my Starbucks barista . . . I will gain a date if it kills me! Oh, and good luck. You’ll need it.”

“Right.” I clicked end and shut off the car.

Nothing was going as planned—that was for sure.








Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she's not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.


She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband and their snoring Boxer, Sir Winston Churchill. She loves to hear from readers! You can follow her writing journey at
 
www.rachelvandykenauthor.com











Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Reveal - The Consequence Of Loving Colton By Rachel Van Dyken - Day 1 - Prologue




RELEASE DATE: APRIL 21, 2015




It’s all fun and games…until someone’s heart is broken.


They’re not kids anymore, but Milo Caro is certain that Colton Mathews will only see her as his best friend’s little sister for the rest of their lives. After all, he made that clear the night before she left for college. But four years later, her brother is getting married and Colt’s the best man—and guess who is the best man’s last-minute date?

Milo vows to use the wedding to either claim the smoldering firefighter’s heart or douse this torch for good. When Max—her best friend from college, who may be carrying a torch of his own—crashes the party, they devise a plan to make Colt see what he’s missing. But after Colt catches on, he decides to cook up his own revenge.


Now it’s personal. Colt and Milo are at war, and between Max’s questionable acting methods, an unfortunate trip to jail, and a maniacal fiancée, what could possibly go right?











Summer 2009

“I can’t believe you’re really going to college, Milo.” Colton’s teasing smile flashed right in front of me, rendering me temporarily blind. Man, he was beautiful. His normally dark-brown hair had shots of gold from the summer sun. Dimples peeked out from his mega-white smile and I was pretty confident that I saw a twinkle in his green eyes meant just for me. He’d been home for two months since graduation and was already off saving the world one fire at a time. I watched his full lips curve around the mouth of his Corona. He and my brother Jason had organized a going-away party for me. Apparently me getting accepted into NYU was a big deal: they’d even gone so far as to get a Star Wars–themed cake from Dairy Queen and a princess tiara that said “Pretty” across it. It was always their joke with me. I was a complete and total tomboy—I loved picking fights and getting muddy—yet still demanded they treat me like a princess.

With a sigh I leaned back on the picnic blanket and looked up at the stars. My crown fell to the side of my head, causing my hair to fall all over my face. The party had been over for a few hours, leaving me, Colt, and Jason. I should have been happy: after all, who does that for their little sister? What brother would even care? Furthermore, the fact that it had all been Colt’s idea, someone who wasn’t even family, was huge. But . . . maybe that’s the part that left me feeling empty. I might as well be family to Colton. I was the little sister he’d never had—and secretly, I’d always wanted to be so much more.

“Aw, you messed up your hair,” Colton teased, lifting the crown with the tip of his finger and giving me a sexy wink.

“Whatever shall I do?” I huffed.

“I’ll save you.” His voice was just above a whisper. “I’ve always wanted to save a princess.”

“You did.” My grin was huge. “You saved me a least a hundred times when we were little—slew the dragon at the top of the stairs and did it all without getting a scratch.”

“Messy job.” He let out a long, exaggerated sigh. “I don’t know how I made it to my twenty-first birthday without getting singed.”

“Donald didn’t breathe fire. He was a fireless dragon, remember?”

“Oh, right.” His eyes twinkled. “How is the old dragon anyway?”

I shrugged and chewed on my lower lip. “Haven’t been in the attic since you guys left for school. I’ve been busy.”

“Too busy to play?”

I rolled my eyes. “Too busy graduating to play, yeah.”

“Where’s the fun in that?”

“Fun.” I snorted. “The last time I had fun was when we snuck into your parents’ pool and—” I clamped my mouth shut before the words could tumble out on their own. Crap. Crap. Crap.

“Skinny-dipped.” He finished my thought. “Yeah, that was a blast.”

“Hey, guys!” Jason called as he ran out of the house. “Dad needs me to grab Mom from work so I’ll be right back! Don’t do anything fun without me! I mean it!”

The loud roar from his truck drowned out our conversation  for a brief second and then slowly dissipated as the vehicle barreled down the driveway.

“You thinking what I’m thinking?” Colton asked.

If his thoughts were along the line of finally getting him alone, away from my brother? “Absolutely.” I grinned as he grabbed my hand and helped me off the blanket.

“Come on. Let’s go have fun.”

Curious, I followed Colt as we ran through a few backyards and finally ended up at his house.

“What are we doing?” I asked in a hushed voice.

“Having fun.” I swear his grin made my heart almost stop. “Now strip, Milo, we don’t have all night and Jason’s going to be pissed he isn’t with us.”

Laughing, I took off my shirt and shorts—I’d spent years swimming with the guys in my sports bra and underwear, though as we got older it became weird, but only on my end. It felt strange to strip down to nothing, knowing that my feelings for Colton were very real whereas his were nonexistent. I mean, it was Colton. Sure, I had a crush on him, but he never, ever thought of me that way. Ever.

“Last one in’s a rotten—”

I didn’t hear him finish—but I did beat him into the water. His mom and stepdad’s pool was always my favorite place to swim. It had a little waterfall in the deep end that you could swim under that always made me think of fairy tales and the movies. Then again, that could be because every time I broke through the water it was Colton’s face I saw, and his smile that drew me. He was my own personal Prince Charming.

Laughing, Colton splashed around, then hauled himself out of the pool and did a cannonball right by my face. I was glad that it was dark—I must have been beet-red. Man, the guy was ripped.

“Wanna race?” he asked, out of breath.

“Wanna lose?” I countered.

“Never.”

“Um, it’s an everyday occurrence.” I swam over to the edge. “Ready, set—”

“—go!” He ran instead of swam and then dove under water.

Bastard! Arms burning, I tried to make it to the other end of the pool. I usually didn’t open my eyes under water, but this time I did to see where I was going.

His body was a blur in front of me. All I saw was hard-lined muscle.

I stopped right in front of him and jumped to the surface. “You cheated.”

“I like to call it winning.” He beamed triumphantly.

“Cheating.” My teeth ground together as I pushed against his chest. Laughing, he fell backward, pulling me with him. Our bodies ground together, heat against heat, skin against skin.

And suddenly sneaking away from Jason wasn’t funny anymore.

Neither of us was laughing.

His hands moved from my waist slowly up my body until they rested on my face. With a curse he pulled my head toward his. “We should . . .”

“Yeah,” I whispered.

Neither of us pulled away.

His lips brushed mine, just enough to make me strain toward him—I needed him like I needed air.

“Kids!” His stepdad’s voice rang through the night air. “You out here making noise?”

Colton pushed me away and I nearly hit my head on the waterfall rocks.

“Yeah, just . . . hanging out!” Colton called. “I’m with Jason’s sister.”

I froze. He’d never called me that before. He even said it in such a final way, as if that was all I would ever be. Period. My heart didn’t just sink . . . it shuddered, then combusted, as all the hopes I’d harbored since I was thirteen came to a crushing world-altering halt. My suspicions were finally confirmed. Out loud. On the day the boy I liked had thought enough to throw me a party.

The line had been drawn. And I might as well be on the other side of the universe.


That was the day I lost Colton Mathews—forever.





COME BACK TOMORROW FOR CHAPTER 1








Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she's not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.


She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband and their snoring Boxer, Sir Winston Churchill. She loves to hear from readers! You can follow her writing journey at
 
www.rachelvandykenauthor.com