Release & Review Blitz: Downfall (Kingdoms of Sin #1) by Willow Aster ~ 5 stars

🔥🔥 NEW RELEASE 🔥🔥

Downfall by Willow Aster is LIVE!!!

I was naïve to think my marriage to Luka Catano might work.

I was infatuated with him from afar…

Until I met him.

He loved the challenge of his next conquest, anyone would do…

Except me.

A wife was never something he wanted.

Torturous was not a strong enough word to describe how I felt when I was in a room with Luka. Besides hating nearly every word that came out of his mouth, I also drowned with lust every time I looked at him.

At times I thought he might feel the same.

But nothing prepared me for what his family would make me become.

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/Downfall-WillowAster

START READING TODAY! Only $.99 for a limited time! FREE on KU!

Amazon US: http://bit.ly/Downfall-US

Amazon UK: http://bit.ly/Downfall-UK

Amazon CA: http://bit.ly/Downfall-CA

Amazon AU: http://bit.ly/Downfall-AU

T2_Downfall_Willow Aster

Review

Whatever you think you expect to find in this book, forget it and prepare to be wowed by masterful storytelling! Sex, secrets & scandal – it’s all here!

Excited and prepared to do her duty and marry for the good of her country, Eden Safrin is shocked to find out that her husband-to-be is not the man her fantasies created. He is careless, unkind and cold, except for the flashes of heat she glimpses in his eyes from time to time whenever he looks at her. Yet, even with his hot-and-cold behaviour, she can’t seem to stay away from him.

Sometimes, we love, but it’s to our detriment.”

Just when things start looking better, Luka & Eden realise that there are more machinations at work behind their relationship than they ever could have imagined. So many people want them together, but at what price?

I felt Eden’s initial hope and later, frustration and pain when she realised that life wasn’t working out quite the way she planned. True love forgives a multitude of wrongs, though, and she finds that out soon enough.

Love breaks you apart and puts you back together.”

Eden does things that I probably would never do, but I rather enjoyed this first installment of the Kingdoms of Sin series, and as a first-time reader of Willow Aster, I must say I am impressed and definitely looking forward to more.

I voluntarily read & reviewed an ARC of this book.

“You’ve outdone yourself,” he says. “Which Eden do I have tonight? Will you bite or will you purr?”

“I could ask you the same thing.”

He holds his hands out. “What do you think? Am I suitable to be by your side?”

“You clean up okay.”

He smirks and steps closer to me, pulling me flush against him. “Keep playing the cool act. I know it shouldn’t, but it gets me so hard.” He presses into me to prove his point.

“Have you been drinking already?” I frown.

“This is me stone-cold sober.”

“So there’s nothing to excuse your behavior.”

His hands go lower and when he still feels my skin, he frowns. His hands go lower still until they find material, which happens to be hugging my backside. He thrusts into me again and leans his forehead against mine.

“You don’t want to excuse my behavior. You like me best this way. Hot and salivating over you. Admit it.”

I shake my head. “You need to take a step back.”

He exhales a shuddering breath and drops his hands, stepping back. “We’re going to be late. Let’s go.”

I shiver from the loss of his hands and the chill in his voice. I can’t win with him.


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Willow Aster is a USA Today Bestselling author and host of Living in the Pages podcast. She lives in St. Paul, MN with her husband, kids, and rescue dog.

Website: www.willowaster.com

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/willowasterauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WillowAster

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/willowaster1/

Listen to her Living in the Pages podcast:

iTunes: https://bit.ly/2DzM9ZU

Android: http://bit.ly/2Uj5JkZ

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2SJE7bI

Blog Tour: Out of Control by Toni J. Strawn ~ 3.5 stars

OUT OF CONTROL

by Toni J. Strawn
Publication Date: October 14, 2019
Genres: Adult, Entangled: Entangled One Handed Reads, Contemporary, EROTIC, Romance, Standalone

AVAILABLE NOW!

SYNOPSIS

The first week in my new city starts out about the way I expected. Lots of unpacking. Learning to navigate life with a new roommate. The buzz of excitement that I can be an entirely new person…and throw my restrictive past right out the window.

Who knew everything would change in one night?

Mr. Sexy Businessman and I start chatting at the local bar. Soon chatting turns in to flirting. Flirting turns into kissing…. And ends with the best sex of my life. He is so not my type, he’s far too in charge, but I can’t deny the explosive chemistry. The affair starts out normal enough, but then we’re both feeling totally out of control. Part of me wants to run for the hills… but another, secret part, wants to stay and ride the blissful insanity into the scary unknown.

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Review

Lila & Blake are attracted to each other on sight, but the complication of a mutual friend has them tiptoeing around each other. They find themselves falling deeper and deeper into lust… Or is it love? Will they keep finding excuses as to why a relationship won’t work? Or will they try?

Treat yourself to a spicy, quick read as a couple navigates the rush of falling for each other in a short space of time.

I voluntarily read & reviewed an ARC of this book via Entangled Publishing & NetGalley.

ABOUT TONI J. STRAWN

Toni J. Strawn loves everything romance. Hot, bad, crazy, out-of-control romance. She is a self-professed maestro of the one night stand and loves throwing the unlikeliest of characters together to create sizzling hot happy ever afters.

When not locked away in her Romansion, a tiny writing shed at the bottom of the garden, Toni can be found feeding her addiction to romance, or hanging with her three amazing kids.

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter | Bookbub | Amazon Author Profile

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Release Tour: Misadventures at City Hall by Victoria Blue ~ 4 stars



Misadventures at City Hall by Victoria Blue



Genre: Contemporary Romance 



Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2Bb6A01



AVAILABLE NOW!


Buy yours Today! 📚🖤📚💛


Kindle: https://amzn.to/2WoTnto
Print: https://amzn.to/2CZNZnQ
Nook: http://bit.ly/2SoF4Uh
Apple Books: https://apple.co/2RWt7rY
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2Umszs7
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2MAxeUH

Synopsis
Go-getter Skye Delaney’s sights are set on the office of LA City Manager, but when her path is blocked by a cloud of corruption at the Mayor’s office, she is forced to reevaluate her ambitious goals. A seat on the City Council is the next logical step, but as they say, politics makes for strange bedfellows. Fellows like Kyle Armstrong.
Kyle barges into Skye’s life without warning and has her yearning for more. But when she discovers he’s running for the same City Council seat she is, Skye is faced with some big decisions.
Does she give up on her political dreams for a man? Or is Kyle the man to make all her dreams come true?
*****
Misadventures is a romantic series of spicy standalone novels, each written or co-written by some of the best names in romance. The stories are scandalous, refreshing, and, of course, incredibly sexy. They’re the perfect bedside read, a ‘quick blush’ for the reader who loves a page-turning romance.

ReviewGorgeous & ambitious, Skye Delaney has her dreams right in front of her; she doesn’t have time for Kyle Armstrong’s antics, or the way he’s beginning to make her feel as though she could actually have a life – and love – outside of her job.

This is an enjoyable read. I liked the banter in this one. The secondary characters really enhanced the plot, as well. I only wished we had a look inside Kyle’s head. Still, a good read.

I voluntarily read & reviewed an ARC of this book.


Meet The Author


Victoria Blue lives in her own portion of the galaxy known as Southern California. There she finds the love and life sustaining power of one amazing sun, two unique and awe inspiring planets and three indifferent, yet comforting moons. 
Life is fantastic and challenging and everyday brings new adventures to be discovered. She looks forward to seeing what’s next!
 

Review Blitz: Love Undercover (Covert Liaisons #1) by L.K. Shaw ~ 4 stars

What happens when one explosive night they can no longer fight the dangerous attraction between them…
Grab Love Undercover: An Interracial Cartel Romance by LK Shaw and read all about it TODAY!!

On sale for 99c for a LIMITED TIME ONLY!!

US → https://amzn.to/2oWsmS3
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Or read for FREE with #KindleUnlimited!!!

BLURB:

I can’t help my attraction to Tomás, a ruthless, gorgeous member of the Juarez Cartel. The only problem? I’m the undercover cop here to bring them all down.

I’ve immersed myself in a world of money and drugs, and there’s no one I can trust. Especially not Tomás. Yet time and time again we cross paths, fighting the inevitable. Until one explosive night when we can no longer fight the dangerous attraction between us. I run through every possible scenario, trying to find a way to make a relationship between us work.

What I don’t realize is that Tomás is hiding behind a mask of his own, and the connection we share could be deadly.

ADD TO YOUR TBR: http://bit.ly/2kFwrZa

As part of this Review Blitz you could win
a SIGNED PAPERBACK and an AMAZON GIFT CARD!!
To enter, CLICK HERE!

Open to U.S. residents or entrants with a U.S. shipping address only.

About LK Shaw

LK Shaw is a physical therapist assistant by day and author by night. She resides in South Carolina with her high maintenance beagle mix dog, Miss P, who should probably just have her own Instagram account. An avid reader since childhood, she became hooked on historical romance novels in high school. She now reads, and loves, all romance sub-genres, with erotic romance and romantic suspense being her favorite. LK enjoys traveling and chocolate. Her books feature hot alpha heroes and the strong women they love.

Follow LK Shaw Online!

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/ds5MOb
LK Shaw’s Club Eden: https://www.facebook.com/groups/LKShawsClubEden
Facebook: www.facebook.com/LKShawAuthor
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lkshaw_author/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LKShaw_Author | @LKShaw_Author
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Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14878033.L_K_Shaw

Release & Review Blitz: Sinners Are Winners (KPD Motorcycle Patrol #5) by Lani Lynn Vale ~ 4.5 stars




 

He saw her from across a crowded ballpark and knew she was about to change his life. 
Yes, he realizes just how cliché that really is, but the moment his eyes locked on her, he knew that she was the one.
At least, the one that royally screwed him over. The one responsible for his demotion and the subsequent disciplinary action taken against him before he’d even gotten out of the probationary period with Kilgore Police Department.
It all started with a kiss.
***
Saylor Rae Spada tried to mind her business. She also tried to not get involved in petty disputes.
However, from the moment she saw him sitting next to her at a professional baseball game, a game she didn’t even want to be at but was dragged to by her blind date, she couldn’t look away.
Then the kiss cam came on, featuring none other than her and the handsome stranger.
Without missing a beat, he kissed her.
Then her blind date decided to pull a knife and try to stab him.
From that point forward, she’s done nothing but cause him trouble.
Trouble that he’s starting to find increasingly adorable.
 
Get Your Copy HERE

Review

Just before Saylor is to leave Kilgore for good, she meets a man that makes her wish that she had more time – the same man whose career she managed to unwittingly torpedo months earlier. When her wish is granted, she finds that old grudges have no place in their lives, but may still have the power to ruin their new romance.

This is another fun, steamy and intriguing read by Lani Lynn Vale. I love that her characters aren’t cookie cutter perfect; they have quirks and flaws. I love how she manages to pair her characters up with persons who seem so perfect.

I am looking forward to the next installment.

I voluntarily read & reviewed an ARC of this book.

 
Lani Lynn Vale is a USA Today Bestselling Author of over thirty titles. She is married with three children, two dogs, two cats, a donkey, and a couple (a couple also meaning over twenty) chickens.
When she’s not writing, you can find her curled up in her favorite
chair reading.
Lani is married with three children and lives in the Great State
of Texas.
Hosted By:

Blog Tour: (Not) The One by Donna Alam ~ 5 stars

(NOT) THE ONE by Donna Alam
Release Date: October 3rd
Genre: Contemporary Romance

AVAILABLE NOW!!
FREE in Kindle Unlimited!
Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2o9yt5n
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2pDnkdj
Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/2ncMsH2
Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/330fZ6c

Add to Goodreads:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/47885222-not-the-one

Blurb:
Three reasons why rebound s-e-x with my hot neighbor is a very bad idea.

1. My life is already complicated enough
2. He knows I wear Batman undies (please don’t ask)
3. He’s older, sophisticated and so hot he makes me go weak at the knees

I know that’s more than three. But it still didn’t stop me.

On paper, we’re the worst kind of match.
He’s rich.
I’m . . . not. My second job is pet sitting!

He says we’re friends.
I say barely, but I do love those benefits . . .

The man rocks my world.
But he’s so not the one.

Which is unfortunate,
Because he’s also the one who got me pregnant.

Review

I thought I loved Bolivia, but James & Miranda have stolen the show.

Miranda is young, yet cannot be called naive. Still reeling from a breakup, she’s not eager to be in a new relationship, yet James somehow manages to sneak past her walls – repeatedly – through clever manipulations. She’s worried by what society might think about them, but something always keeps her coming back 😉

I liked James immediately. I saw James as the deeper feeler/thinker of the group when I first met him in “To Have and Hate”. He was also one to persist until he got what he wanted. These two personality traits were amplified in “(Not) The One”. The mix of confidence & sophistication he had going on was sexy. I also loved the way he would draw Miranda in with humor. He had a sort of wit that made me wish he was real.

I recommend this steamy yet sweet-in-its-own-way romance. I look forward to reading Griff’s story.

I voluntarily read & reviewed an ARC of this book.

About the Author:
USA Today bestselling author Donna writes dirty stories, according to her family. She hopes you find them funny, too.

When not bashing away at a keyboard, she can usually be found hiding from her family and responsibilities with a good book in her hand and a dog that looks like a grey mop by her feet.

She likes her humour and wine dry, her mojitos sweet, and her language salty.

Connect w/Donna:
Website: http://donnaalam.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDonnaAlam
Twitter: https://twitter.com/word_hoor
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/donna_alam/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8395750.Donna_Alam
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/donna-alam
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2xKSj81
Newsletter Signup: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/ihg22z11k7

Release Blitz: Bad Fiancé (Billionaire’s Club #6) by Elise Faber ~ 4 stars

This fake marriage never felt so real…
Bad Fiancé by Elise Faber is available now!
Amazon — https://amzn.to/2HNT9Xc
Apple — https://apple.co/2ktgC7D
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Sera used to believe in happily ever afters.

Well, she still believed in them. Just not for her.

For Seraphina Delgado, finding a man who loved her for who she was inside, rather than simply appreciating her outward appearance, had proved to be impossible.

She wasn’t trying to be cocky—cock, ha—but she was beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that she’d spent her childhood and tween years modeling and shooting commercials and . . . well, only being appreciated for the way she looked.

And that was more curse than advantage because looks faded. People aged, wrinkles formed, boobs sagged . . .

Anyway, none of that mattered because no man ever saw who she truly was on the inside.

Until Tate.

He was more interested in software than her cup size and had hired her to help him find a house. He didn’t care about her looks or her boobs, only her abilities as a real estate agent.

But then he showed up in her office with a crazy proposition. One so crazy, it almost made sense.

He wanted them to get married.

And Sera thought she just might agree.
BadFiance_Teaser1

Review

A fairly quick read, Sera & Tate’s story is sweet.

For Sera, she’s been under too much pressure – to be good, be beautiful, be perfect – that she’s more than a little disenchanted with life. On top of all this, the man she’s been hoping to notice her doesn’t even seem to realise that she’s alive.

Tate has been under Sera’s spell from the first moment he met her, but his shy nature has never allowed him to be honest about his feelings. When the opportunity presents itself, he jumps at the chance to make Sera see him.

Tate’s awkward/nerdy vibe gave the book extra adorableness! He and Sera seemed to be total opposites, yet he understood her.

I also love the Book/Wine Club. They’re fierce and fully protect their own. I can’t wait for more!

I voluntarily read & reviewed an ARC of this book.

About the Author:

USA Today bestselling author, Elise Faber, loves chocolate, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and hockey (the order depending on the day and how well her team — the Sharks! — are playing). She and her husband also play as much hockey as they can squeeze into their schedules, so much so that their typical date night is spent on the ice. Elise is the mom to two exuberant boys and lives in Northern California. Connect with her in her Facebook group, the Fabinators or find more information about her books at http://www.elisefaber.com.

Connect with Elise!

Website: https://www.elisefaber.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elisefaberauthor/
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/elisefaber
Twitter: https://twitter.com/faberelise
Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bdnmEj
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Blog Tour: Never Have I Ever by Lauren Blakely ~ 4.5 stars

NEVER HAVE I EVER by Lauren Blakely
Release Date: October 4th

Sexy single dad. Frenemies to lovers. All the feels.

“Never Have I Ever was absolutely fantastic!!!! A head-over-heels, heartfelt, story of sexiness.” – Lulu’s Library

“This is my new absolute favorite Lauren Blakely title. It tells the
perfect story at the perfect pace that it allows you to move with the
characters.” – Laura at Booked All Night

Falling for the enemy has never been so deliciously complicated in this standalone romance where a sexy single dad meets his unexpected match!

AVAILABLE NOW!!
✦Kindle ➜ http://blkly.pub/NeverKindle
✦Apple ➜ https://blkly.pub/AppleNever
✦Nook ➜ https://blkly.pub/NookNever
✦Kobo ➜ https://blkly.pub/KoboNever
✦Google Play Books ➜ https://blkly.pub/GoogleNever

✦Audible ➜ https://blkly.pub/NeverAudible

Lauren is donating 100% of all preorder proceeds & release day sales from all ebook and paperback retailers to several animal rescues, so one-click today and you’ll get a sexy, emotional contemporary romance AND also help your furry friends! Plus, we’d love for readers to help pick the animal rescue organizations she donates to!!

If you have a favorite local one you want to nominate just fill out THIS FORM—>https://forms.gle/6ha3Hf11WaQkXbK67
(This applies to ALL preorders! Even if you preordered several months ago!)

NEVER HAVE I EVER is AVAILABLE NOW!!

Add to Goodreads:
https://blkly.pub/GoodreadsNever

Review

So much for frenemies!

Piper & Zach have never really gotten along. They’re in opposite businesses and neither believes that the other is worth a second look… Until things change.

This story is sweet; it tugs at the heartstrings. With a cast of characters that made me smile, swoon, laugh and tear up, there is no wonder why I wholeheartedly recommend this latest offering by Lauren Blakely.

I voluntarily read & reviewed an ARC of this book.

GIVEAWAY
Enter to Win a Reader’s Delight Prize Package!
A 32 GB Waterproof Kindle Paperwhite!
A $50 Amazon Gift Card to help stock that bad boy up with
steamy reads!
And a Happy Planner for 2020 because Piper thinks
everyone should plan their year in style!

https://laurenblakely.com/never-have-i-ever-giveaway/

Available Now in ebook and paperback for the first time ever!
https://laurenblakely.com/neverhaveiever

AVAILABLE NOW!!
✦Kindle ➜ http://blkly.pub/NeverKindle
✦Apple ➜ https://blkly.pub/AppleNever
✦Nook ➜ https://blkly.pub/NookNever
✦Kobo ➜ https://blkly.pub/KoboNever
✦Google Play Books ➜ https://blkly.pub/GoogleNever

✦Audible ➜ https://blkly.pub/NeverAudible

Blurb:
Falling for the enemy has never been so deliciously complicated in this standalone romance where a sexy single dad meets his unexpected match! Get ready for all the feels!

Never have I ever been so infuriated by a man I wanted to kiss.

They say opposites attract, but I beg to differ. Combust is more like it. Because every single time I talk to Zach Nolan, I see red.

The too-good-looking, too-smart, too-effortlessly charming single dad who works down the hall from me has turned getting under my skin into a sport. Call it the battle of wits between the wedding planner and the divorce attorney.

Trouble is, when we’re forced into closer quarters planning an engagement party for our best friends, I start to see his other sides.

And I fear I’m falling for the enemy.

***

I’m not out to make friends. My goals are simple — fight till the end for my clients, and my family.

The last thing I need is a vibrant, outgoing, snarky, and surprisingly big-hearted wedding planner to spend my precious free time with…except, watching Piper bond with my daughter just might break down the cinder block walls I’ve built around my heart these last few years.

Second chances don’t come around for guys like me…or do they?

About the Author:
A #1 New York Times Bestselling, #1 Wall Street Journal Bestselling, and #1 Audible Bestselling author, Lauren Blakely is known for her contemporary romance style that’s sweet, sexy and witty. Her heroines are strong and smart and her heroes have hearts of gold and fantastic funny bones. She lives on the West Coast with her family, including her smoking hot and hilarious husband and her two brilliant and kind teenagers. She has plotted entire novels while walking her dogs — she might have four dogs, or maybe five. If she’s lucky, she’ll soon have six dogs. With fourteen New York Times bestsellers, her titles have appeared on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestseller Lists more than 100 times, and she’s sold more than 3 million books. In October she’ll release Never Have I Ever.

She’d love to give you a free book today! Check out her web site to grab your free read: laurenblakely.com/one-free-book/

Connect w/Lauren:
Website: http://www.laurenblakely.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LaurenBlakelyBooks
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LaurenBlakely3
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/laurenblakelybooks/
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/lauren-blakely
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2YzfGNv
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6860216.Lauren_Blakely

Special Delivery News: https://laurenblakely.com/specialdelivery/

Release & Review Blitz: Mister Baby Maker by Kylie King ~ 4 stars

Vivian Carter has the perfect life. She’s a powerful CEO, has a great apartment in New York City, and never has a bad hair day. She’s a single woman in a big city living her dreams, but there is just one thing she wants that will make her life complete… A baby.

Jax Lemoine has been attracted to Vivian ever since he laid eyes on her in his apartment building.

He knows she’s attracted to him just as much, so when he gets the chance to make her his, he takes it, but there is a catch: He has to agree to make a baby with her.

All he has to do is knock Vivian up and she’ll never ask for anything again. No strings attached and no commitments.

Jax believes he can handle the agreement, until he realizes that what he feels for Vivian is much deeper than he ever expected.

Review

A short & steamy read, Jax & Vivian’s story gets right to the point.Although the ending is a foregone conclusion, the story was pretty entertaining, and the ending was quite sweet.

I voluntarily read & reviewed an ARC of this book.

bmakertia

Kylie King is a soccer mom by day, and a writer of ridiculously smutty romances by night. She loves reading, swimming, and mixed drinks that include lots of rum.

All of her books are quick and hot, with over-the-top fantasies that probably shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

FACEBOOK | WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS

Blog Tour & Chapter Reveal: Hate the Game (Love Games #1) by Winter Renshaw ~ 4.5 stars

Amazon 

Talon Gold is a lot of things: good at football, bad at love. Obsessed with scoring, refuses to play by the rules. Cruel. Relentless. Brilliant. Intoxicatingly attractive.

Despite his demanding reputation and propensity for being the most arrogant a-hole ever to strut Pacific Valley University’s picturesque campus, everyone wants a piece of him: coaches, scouts, and pretty little campus fangirls with pouty lips and perfect top knots.

But Talon … he only wants a piece of me.

And four straight years of infuriating rejection means I’m almost positive he’d take a night with me over a national championship trophy.

But I’m no fool—he only wants me because he can’t have me. And with graduation approaching, time is running out. He’s more desperate than ever, pulling out all the stops and doing everything in his power to get in my good graces.

They say, “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.”

But to that I say, “Why not both?”

I have my reasons …

Sorry, BMOC. This victory? Not going to happen.

Review

I enjoyed Irie & Talon’s story.

I liked their romantic journey, and Talon’s determination to ensure that she realised that they belonged together. I liked that she didn’t give in to his advances immediately, but that she also gave him a chance, even though she had her walls waay up high. The epilogue was sweet, with the perfect ending for this couple.

I liked that this book was something unlike what I expected from Winter Renshaw, yet entertaining and intriguing in its own right. I wasn’t ever bored. I look forward to more in this vein and series from Winter Renshaw.

I voluntarily read & reviewed an ARC of this book.

“Irie, right?” Talon’s long legs stretch wide, pushing into my space, his expensive sneaker stopping two inches from my knock-off Golden Goose sneakers.

Cute.

He’s pretending like he might not know my name. He’s pretending like he hasn’t been trying to hook up with me since the fall semester of our freshmen year when I got roped into attending a party at some beer-scented three-story on frat house row and he cornered me the way a mountain lion corners prey, carefully stalking me first from all angles then making smooth and deliberate moves until he positions himself to go in for the kill.

Fortunately for me, his hunting skills were still in need of some fine-tuning back then.

I got away.

And I’ve gotten away every time since.

The auditorium hums with small talk. My body hums with electric amusement. Over the years, this has become a sort of game between us. Cat and mouse. Offense and defense. He’s tried every strategy in the book, but I’ve managed to stick to the one that always works—cold, coy, aloof, and uninterested.

“All right, dudes and dudettes,” the professor rests his hands on his hips, rocking back and forth on his heels as he scans the room. “I’m Dr. Longmire, but you can call me Rich if you want.”

The girl to my left giggles to her friend. “He’s not a regular professor, he’s a cool professor.”

“Welcome to Anthro 101.” Dr. Longmire—Rich—twists the shark tooth necklace that hangs on a leather cord down his tanned chest as he paces the room. “We meet Mondays and Wednesdays from eight to nine with recitation on Fridays. You should have received your syllabus in your email over the weekend. If you need a paper copy, I’ve got a few on the desk up here. That said, I’ve been asked to remind you all that PVU is striving to become a paperless university. Please only print things when absolutely necessary.”

One student gathers his things in a hurry and dashes out the side door. He’s probably in the wrong classroom. It happens and it’s no big deal, but it doesn’t stop a group of meatheads in the corner from finding it hilarious and yelling out, “Loser!” just before the door swings shut.

Professor Longmire cracks a joke about how he doesn’t usually scare people off until after he goes through his entire spiel.

No one laughs.

“You have a good winter break?” Talon asks me, leaning close and keeping his voice low. He’s trying to feign intimacy, trying to act like we’re more than the acquaintances we’ve only ever been. Smooth. But I see through it.

“The best,” I lie, sparing him the details before pointing at the front of the room. “If you don’t mind …”

His heavy stare weighs on me, and a blanket of heat covers my skin in the seconds before the steady trot of my heart turns into an all-out gallop.

This happens every time—the ongoing war between my mind and body every time he comes around.

I’d be lying if I said his attention didn’t flatter the hell out of me. I mean, come on. I’m only human—a mere mortal myself. I just happen to have a hell of a lot more self-control than the average SoCal blondie strutting PVU’s seaside campus. I appreciate the attention, but by no means am I naïve enough to think there’s anything special about it.

Talon wants to screw me.

And he only wants to screw me because he can’t.

Nothing more, nothing less.

“Hey. You have a spare pen?” Talon asks with zero shame, his cinnamon-scented whisper tickling my eardrum.

Dipping down into my bag, I retrieve a hot pink gel pen and hand it over without so much as making eye contact.

From my periphery, I watch as he examines it for a second before his full lips mouth a quick thank you. The garish color doesn’t seem to faze him, doesn’t so much as threaten his jock itch masculinity.

He flips to a clean page in his notebook and concentrates on the screen ahead.

“Now, I’ve been teaching here for over thirty years,” Professor Longmire prattles on as he paces the front of the room. “I’ve been around long enough to know that these eight AM Monday classes are a pain in the you-know-what. I know not everyone is going to go to every single class. I know that there’ll be times you’re hung over or you over-sleep or what have you. Don’t email me. Don’t send me your sob story or made up excuses. I don’t want to hear it. Now some of the younger professors, they post lecture notes on the class website. But I don’t have time for that. So here’s what you’re going to do. Everyone’s going to have an accountability buddy.”

A what …?

“I want you to each to turn to someone next to you,” he says. “That person is going to be your go-to when you need a copy of lecture notes. That person is also going to be your study partner. Their success is your success and vice-versa. Just because this is Anthro 101 doesn’t mean it’s an easy class. In fact, a quarter of you will drop out before the end of the semester, and the majority of you probably won’t walk out of here with A’s.”

Two people—a guy and a girl from opposite ends of the room—gather their bags and show themselves out, heads tucked.

“Aaaand there we go. That’s when I usually scare them away.” Longmire laughs at his own joke before scanning the audience. “Anyway, I’ll give you all a moment to find your partner. Don’t make a big deal of it, don’t overthink it. Just pick someone—anyone—close by.”

I gather a sea-salted lungful of air and take in my surroundings. The two girls beside me are clasping their hands together like a couple of junior high besties. The guys in the row ahead are already exchanging phone numbers, as are the guy and girl to their right. Within seconds, I surmise that everyone else around me seems to be spoken for—everyone, that is, except Talon.

Straightening my shoulders, I angle my body toward Talon and maintain a neutral expression.

The moment our eyes catch, he bites his lower lip and flashes a cockeyed smirk. “Guess it’s us.”

My stomach somersaults, but I play it cool. “Lucky me.”

“Yeah.” He laughs through his nose, his perfect white teeth flashing as he grins. “Lucky you.”

Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author Winter Renshaw is a bona fide daydream believer. She lives somewhere in the middle of the USA and can rarely be seen without her trusty Mead notebook and ultra portable laptop. When she’s not writing, she’s living the American dream with her husband, three kids, and the laziest puggle this side of the Mississippi.

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