Sneak Peek: He’s A Keeper by Stacy Travis

Drunk-texting a grumpy soccer star?
Best worst decision of my life.

He’s a Keeper, a grumpy sunshine sports romance from Stacy Travis is coming May 24th, and we have your first look inside!

Especially when the player is the sinfully handsome, foul-mouthed Holden Sanders… my new library assistant.

The benched bad boy needed an image makeover, I needed to save my job, and his star status was just what the library ordered to raise awareness for our fundraising campaign. The press can’t get enough of Mr. Growly reading to kids.

It’s win-win and completely platonic.

Until I need a shoulder to cry on after drowning my heartbreak in too many margaritas. I only typed that invitation to his brawny biceps and perfect pectorals for fun–I never meant to hit send. Holden isn’t the kind of guy to care about tears and feelings, least of all mine. He’s made it clear good girls aren’t his type.

But he shows up–with his strapping shoulder, a box of tissues and a supersized bag of Doritos.

That’s when I realize there’s more to him than meets the eye.

One soulful, smoldering mistake of a kiss has me craving more, and the heat between us quickly builds to a blaze neither of us can control.

But I’m not the only one guarding secrets, and Holden’s might push us to the breaking point.

Even if I’m surrounded by books, I know better than to believe in storybook endings.

And yet, I want to believe… Because I know he’s a keeper.

He’s a Keeper is a standalone sports romance in the San Francisco Strikers series with a HEA.

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Keep reading for a sneak peek inside He’s a Keeper!

Molly

When I reach the glass doors, I expect to see the irritable man outside scrolling on his phone or, if he really doesn’t understand the rules, walking to his car.
But he’s nowhere. Glancing back, I see Seth dutifully walking toward the story area, his shoulders hunched like I’ve sent him to the gallows. Still, he’s going. That gives me a couple minutes to track this man down. I should’ve asked his daughter for his name so I could yell it.
The library is a one-story building on a corner. A small square of grass sits on each side of the front walkway, which leads to the sidewalk where the city hasn’t trimmed the overgrown trees in years. The result is patchy brown areas where the grass doesn’t get enough sun and trees that block out the sky in places.
I head around the side of the building to where the tiny parking lot only has room for a handful of cars. My fugitive stands with a pair of preteen boys each holding a skateboard under one arm. All three stare up at one of the trees.
From my vantage point, I can’t see much except a whisp of what looks like orange fur on a high branch. The boys are doing their best to mask their nerves with a façade of bravado.
“Dude, you do it. I have a basketball tourney this weekend and my dad’ll kill me if I get injured,” one of the boys says, dropping his skateboard and stepping on one end so it flips back into his hand.
The other boy, who has a shock of blond hair, tosses his board onto the grass and cranes his neck toward the ball of fur in the tree. “Nah, he’s really high up. Dude, if he falls and dies, it’s totally your fault for letting him out.”
“I didn’t let him out. He ran out before I saw him.”
“Whatever. You were the one who opened the door.”
“You’re the one with a cat who’s too dumb to stay in the house.”
“Not. Helping,” the man scolds, turning his baseball cap around so the brim hangs over the back of his hair. Now I can see his eyes, though with the way he’s squinting at the tree, I can’t tell their color, just that they sit under aggravated brows.
It’s also crystal clear that my initial take on him was spot on—he’s so good-looking that he uses it as a hall pass to be a jerk. Even his stance, with his arms folded so his biceps pop and his shoulders pull at the fabric of his shirt, shows anyone within viewing distance that he knows what to do with hundred-pound barbells. And he does it.
“I don’t want him to die.” The blond boy wipes his sweaty palms on his jeans and takes a few steps closer to the tree, surveying the climb.
“He’s not going to die. Cats are ninety-five percent tiger. They have eighteen toes. They’re built for climbing,” the man says. “Plus, they have double the neurons in their cerebral cortex as dogs. They’re smart. Your cat’s only climbing as high as it’s safe.”
It’s like dinner theater seeing this brawny dude with the bad attitude rhapsodize about cats. I can’t tear myself away.
Suddenly, he jumps up and grabs the lowest tree branch and executes the most manly pullup, biceps rippling, as he hurls himself vertically, ending up in a squat on top of the fat horizontal branch. The legs of his jeans stretch taut over his thighs, and he balances like some kind of ninja. From there, he reaches for another branch overhead and does the same.
It’s like Tarzan with a zoology degree.
I inch a little closer to get a better view. The boys are fixated on him and don’t notice me until I whisper a question. “Do you know that man?”
“Nah, he’s just some dude who walked out here,” says the blond boy. “I hope he’s got extra toes too.”
“You know an awful lot about cats,” I call up to him.
From the way he flinches, he had no idea I was there. Holding on to a tree branch, he stuffs his other hand into his pocket and looks back at the cat, who’s taken the momentary distraction to scramble higher up the branch. “I almost fucking had it.”
“Hey. Children are present.” I put my hands over my ears to demonstrate, stuck in my library lady persona because, as I said, I’m bad with kids.
“Are you one of them, Mary?” He smirks. It’s not a bad look on him because it slightly looks like a smile. Except that the upturned corner of his mouth makes me want to punch it. And why’s he calling me Mary when I introduced myself to the group right before he left?
“Hardly.” I square my shoulders as though I need to prove to him that I’m not a child, which seems childish and makes me want to punch him again. “Anyhow, you can’t be out here.”
“I have no idea what that means,” he growls, stepping further along the branch, which looks flimsy under his weight.
He’s nearly twenty feet in the air and pretty close to the orange and white cat, which is no bigger than a grapefruit. It sits perched on a high branch meowing like it’s singing opera. Cute little thing.
I don’t have pets. It kind of goes along with my fear-of-kids thing. I worry the responsibility of caring for a pet might be more than I can handle. What if I forget to feed it for a week? What if I let it escape and it ends up in a tree?
But this cat has fate on its side because Tarzan scoops the small thing into his hand and tucks it into his chest. From the way his head is bent toward the cat, I can tell he’s talking to it.
Using his free hand, he deftly slips down to a lower branch and balances on it while he surveys the best path down. Lowering into a squat, he calls out to the boys. “You said you play basketball, yeah?”
“Sure,” one of the boys says.
“You’re going to catch this kitten like it’s a buzzer beater from downtown. You miss, you lose. Ready?”
The boys ready themselves, hands open, squatting like the ballers they want to be. “Ready. I’m open!” the blond boy yells, instantly in game mode.
The man drops the furry, striped body to where the boy grasps it surely in his hands. He scruffs it under the collar and tucks it under one arm while he and his buddy grab their skateboards.
“Thanks, man. You saved my bacon,” the blond one says.
As he swings from the lowest branch and lands in front of the boys, the man is already brushing off their appreciation. “You never have to worry about cats. They’re climbers. He’d have come down on his own, so if he does it again, wait him out. Don’t break a bone. Speaking of that, cats have more bones than people. They’re just small.” He spouts all this information sounding irritable and inconvenienced, as if anyone asked for an encyclopedia entry on cats.
“Cool, good to know.” The boys mount their skateboards and thank him again as he brushes some stray pieces of bark from the sleeves of his shirt.
Then his gaze locks on mine, and I notice the hardness in his steely gray eyes which have dark rims that look like they were drawn with charcoal pencil. They’re pretty but unyielding.
He stares at me like I’m the one who isn’t where I’m supposed to be.
“I need you to come back inside,” I say again. His eyes roam over me from head to toe and back again. He makes no attempt to hide his slow perusal of my form, and I feel a flutter in my belly that irritates me because I don’t want to react to him. I fold my arms over my C-cup chest.
“I’m sorry?” He cocks his head to the side like a dog who only hears words but doesn’t know what they mean.
“You need to stay in the library.”
“I don’t think there’s a law about leaving the library. Aren’t you the one who’s supposed to be inside? Who’s reading to the kids, Mare?”
The kids—as though he isn’t the biggest child among them.
“My name’s not Mary.”
He shrugs.
What he doesn’t know is that I wrangle headstrong, hormonal teenage girls for a living, and if I can get them to work quietly, I can handle one unpleasant man-child. He doesn’t intimidate me. He does, however, beg me to spend a little more time staring at his strong jaw, even though he glares like he’s weighing the odds of murdering me and getting away with it.
I exhale a long breath, prepared to explain the rules, but my mind drifts to a subject that’s more intriguing. It’s not a problem when I’m alone, but when I’m having a conversation with someone, it can lead people to think I have focus issues.
Maybe I have focus issues.
Drifting back, I point at the man accusingly. “How do you know so much about cats? Are you a vet?”
He huffs a disbelieving breath, stuffing his hands deep into his pockets. “I have a cat.” His icy stare makes it seem like he’s unhappy about it.
“You have a cat?”
“I just said I did.”
I shake my head as if to knock the errant words from my ears because I can’t have heard him correctly. In no world does this tightly-wound grump take care of animals, unless he’s skinning them for their pelts. Which makes me worry for the safety of his cat. “You have a cat. As a pet?”
He squints his eyes, which causes the corners of them to crinkle, which seems strange until I realize they’re laugh lines that accompany another smirk. He observes me with his hands on his hips. “As opposed to…?”
“I don’t know, like maybe you’re planning to feed it to some larger animal. Do you also raise coyotes and watch them devour cats for sport?”
He mirrors my stance, and I can’t help but notice the bulge of his biceps when he crosses his arms. He looks sightly menacing, and I worry for a second that I’m poking a beast that’s best left alone. He shakes his head.
“I don’t know what kind of weird shit you’re snacking on behind the reference desk, but no, I’m not into torturing animals. Any other questions about my cat?”
“What’s its name?”
“Greta.”
“Huh.” Is it wrong that I expected him to have a male cat? I picture him with a surly tomcat who hunts for mice with him in the dark. “Greta,” I confirm.
“Garbo. She’s a European Shorthair. Swedish. I like old movies.”
A Tetris block drops into place. “The DVDs. You were renting oldies?” It happens that our branch has a big collection of classic films on DVD, and some people come from across the city for them.
His brow furrows. “What?”
“A couple weeks ago. I ran into you?” What’s the use of pointing out that it wasn’t memorable? “Never mind. But if you’re a Garbo fan, I feel compelled to admit I always liked Romance better than Camille. I know that’s controversial.” I glance to the side, thinking about the two movies. When my attention drifts back, he’s studying me like I’m an oddity.
I’m used to that look. Yes, I’m the library lady who likes books—and even movies—more than people.
It’s why I get a perverse thrill at hiding details about my life and letting people assume what they want. If I admitted to a one-night stand here or there, there’d be questions. Assumptions. Maybe even invitations to hang out after work with some of the male faculty at school. Easier to let people assume I’m a sunshiny little hermit on my way to becoming a spinster.
What people think is irrelevant, which is why it surprises me when this guy picks up my conversational tangent like it’s normal. “Camille might be a tad overrated. I agree there. But Romance isn’t my favorite.”
“Which is your favorite?” I’m here for the talk about old movies. I kind of love it.
“The Kiss.” His gray eyes boring into mine until I can’t take the weight of his stare any longer and look away. I feel the heat rise in my cheeks and prickles of warmth crawl up the back of my neck. Must be hot out here.
When I recover my composure and look at him, he’s smirking like he knows the effect he has on me. “Anyhow, I gotta go.” He starts walking toward the parking lot, forcing me to move quickly to keep pace with his long stride.
“Oh. No. No, no, no. We have to go back. You need to stay inside the library.”
“Why?”
“Because it’s a rule. Parents stay.”
We reach the parking lot and he stops by the door of a sleek-looking Porsche. I half expect him to speed away without finishing the conversation, but he doesn’t pop the locks. “I’m not a parent. I’m here with my niece. We’re bonding.” His grimace and the irritated tone of his voice makes bonding sound as much fun as being stapled naked to a tree.
“It doesn’t matter. You’re her guardian. Parents, guardians, nannies, babysitters, uncles—all of those people need to stay if they bring a kid to the library. It’s not daycare.”
“Not my rule.”
Pressing his lips together, he glares at me like I’m a gnat he’d like to flick away. I offer him my most meaningful stare, which is challenging as my traitorous body cranks up the heat again when he looks at me – to say nothing about my pounding heart.
Stop it. He’s just a man. A normal human man.
Okay, he’s not normal. He’s spectacular, gorgeous, stunning—all the adjectives. But still, just a man. The wind chooses this moment to kick up behind me, pushing a bunch of flyaway strands out of my ponytail and into my face like runaway tumbleweeds, so for a moment, I can’t see if he’s decided to make a break for the fancy, fast car.
“Be a better guy than that.”
Something in his eyes shifts, softens, if only slightly. “Fine,” he says, turning back toward the library. “Not like I have any place to be.” I catch the sarcasm in his tone and the view of his broad shoulders as he swaggers back toward the door.
“It’s one hour. I’m sure you’ll manage. It’ll give you more bonding time, and if you really can’t stand it, the place is full of books. Maybe you’ll find a new favorite author.” I can’t help the brightness of my tone. I love books.
“I said it was fine,” he says over his shoulder, but his fierce, sweeping stride makes it clear he dislikes my terms. He walks ahead of me, so I’m forced to keep pace if I want to see his face, which is marked by a resigned lack of enthusiasm.
“What’s your name?” I ask.
“Holden.”
I extend my hand, which he grips firmly before dropping it. I swallow hard when I feel an electric zing of pleasure erupt over my skin at his touch. Infuriating, traitorous skin.
“Nice to meet you. I’m Molly.” It’s not particularly nice, but I’m not about to alienate one of the few people at the library. I need about twenty more of him.
“Molly, huh? Given your whole spoonful of sugar vibe, I could’ve sworn it was Mary.”
“Nope, Molly.” I ignore the Mary Poppins reference. He thinks he’s so original.
He stares me down. “Okay, Mare. I mean, Molly.” He says my name slowly like it sticks in his throat. Charmer.

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About Stacy Travis
It’s a rough world out there, and we all sometimes need a good, romantic beach read, even if we can’t make it to the beach. I’ve spent many lazy days walking the streets of Paris and other gorgeous European cities, and if I’m doing it right, I’m bringing you a dash of romance and a vacay fantasy.
I can’t sit still, so when I’m not hiking, biking or running, I’m playing a very average game of tennis. Background music for writing undoubtedly features some U2, Lizzo, Billy Joel, Pink, Taylor Swift, and Led Zeppelin. Not necessarily in that order. And if I could only eat one food group, it would be cheese. Or wine. Or bread. Are those food groups? Whatever.

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Website: https://stacytravis.com

Release Blitz: Stone Cold by Winter Renshaw ~ 5 stars

 

Amazon 

From #1 Amazon and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Winter Renshaw comes a scorching hot forbidden romance …
 
 
The most humiliating moment of my life begins with an early morning message from my ex’s notoriously heartless best friend.
Jovie—
In no way does this mean my opinion of you has changed.
I’m reaching out because sometime in the middle of last night you tagged yourself in Jude and Stassi’s engagement photo.
I don’t care if you were drunk or it was unintentional. I suggest you remove it immediately since the wedding is in two months (which I’m sure you know since you were clearly FB stalking them). The damage is done, but no reason to make things more awkward.
You’re welcome.
Stone
I waste no time removing my accidental tag before the sharp-tongued novelist in me fires off a response to the man who harbored extreme and inexplicable hatred of me during the three years I dated his best friend in college.
Only I didn’t expect him to respond.
And nothing could have prepared me for what he would say …
… or for all the ways this gorgeous villain with cruel icy blues would become the biggest plot twist my life had ever known.

Stone

The Hannaford Supermarket is packed on this Friday afternoon. I imagine we’re all doing the same thing; ditching work a couple of hours early, grabbing some dinner items, and heading home to kick off our weekend. I wonder if this is what Paul meant when he told me there’s no such thing as a unique experience.

I tuck a six pack of Heineken beneath my arm and head for the meat counter to grab a porterhouse and half a pound of stuffed mushrooms.

“I mean, what would you feed a dog if you had one?” A pony-tailed blonde in neon blue yoga pants asks a pimple-faced butcher.

“I don’t have a dog, ma’am,” he says, his Adam’s apple bobbing.

“But if you did though,” she says.

“I’d probably feed him kibble, ma’am.” His eyes shift toward the long line forming behind her.

“I guess I’ll just take two sirloins,” she says. “The eight ounce, not the five.”

The young man wraps the steak in brown paper for her before sealing it with a sticker.

“Anything else?” he asks.

“That’ll be all, thank you,” she says before taking the package, turning on her heel—and walking right into me. “Oh my god. I’m so sorry. I didn’t see you there.”

In her defense, I was probably standing a little too closer, but the little old lady behind me kept inching closer to me, which made me inch closer to her and it became a big circle jerk of inching.

“Jesus,” I mutter under my breath when our eyes catch.

I’d know those Pacific ocean blues anywhere, the ones so effervescent they almost make me forget it’s been about a week and a half since I ignored her last message.

“Jovie,” I say.

“Stone?” She squints, as if she doesn’t believe her eyes. Then again, I imagine I look slightly different than I did five years ago. Shorter hair. More muscles. Dressier clothes. Bigger big dick energy …

“What are you doing here?” I ask.

The little old lady behind me clears her throat, and I motion for her to go around me.

“I’m watching my neighbor’s dog and he’s refusing to eat. I think he’s depressed. I thought maybe if I got him a steak …” she shrugs. “What are you doing here? I thought you were in Baltimore?”

She remembered …

Our senior year in college, I was accepted into the University of Maryland School of Law that upcoming fall.

“Yeah,” I say. “I was offered a position up here from one of my law professors who was opening a practice here.”

Her lips inch into a wistful yet friendly smile. I’m sure it’s strange seeing me here—of all people. Or maybe she’s looking at me but thinking about Jude. It’s hard to tell. I imagine seeing me all these years later rustles up some old memories she wasn’t prepared to think about at the grocery store on a Friday afternoon.

The last time I hung out with Jovie was before the ill-fated Tulum trip. We were sitting around eating burnt frozen pizza from the campus convenience mart and downing cheap beer. And if that weren’t enough, Jovie forced us to play some God-awful card game where we had to shout certain phrases and clap and make fools of ourselves, but by the end of the night I was drunk enough to actually enjoy it.

The last thing I remember before passing out on the living room couch that evening was Jovie covering me with a blanket before adjusting my pillow so I wouldn’t have a kink in my neck.

I mumbled something to her about not being half bad.

She replied with a coy, “Yeah, I know.”

Everything turned black after that.

Who’d have ever thought that would’ve been the last time we’d hang out, the three of us?

Certainly not me.

I doubt Jude did either.

“You know, I’m still waiting for you to reply to that last message,” she winks and crinkles her nose. “You left me on a cliffhanger.”

“I didn’t feel like answering it.” And it’s the truth.

“That’s your prerogative, I guess.”

I’ll admit, I debated sending her another clever deflection last week, but then I got busy with work and decided it was best just to leave it alone. Besides, some things are better left unsaid.

“You know Jude lives here too,” I say, leaving out any mention of Stassi because it goes without saying.

She lifts her brows. “Okay …”

“You haven’t run into him yet?” I swear he’s never home. Stassi’s always got him running to this festival or that concert or this new restaurant.

She shakes her head, her ponytail flicking over her shoulders.

“I’ve only been here about a year,” she says. “I moved here with my ex … and I guess I haven’t gotten around to leaving yet.”

My chest tightens at the idea of Jovie being with someone new, some faceless pencil dick who probably doesn’t deserve her. From the second time we met, I knew she could never be mine. But even after Jude left her, I never once stopped to picture her with someone new. No need to torture myself.

We linger in silence for a beat, as if neither of us wants to go, yet there’s nothing more to be said.

Her full mouth curls at the sides, flanked by two perfect dimples as she stares up at me through a fringe of curled lashes. I’ve known far too many people who let themselves go after college. The stress of a corporate gig, a robust travel schedule, and a social life that revolves around drinking on the weekends tends to do that to a person. But Jovie looks even more beautiful than she did the night I first saw her.

There’s a calmness about her, as if these last several years in the real world have given her the kind of education she couldn’t get from a four-year institution.

Jovie waves her package of steaks. “I should probably get home and feed Domino.”

“Right.” I rake my hand along my jaw, taking her in for what very well might be the last time.

“It was nice seeing you though.”

Most of the time, when people say that, they never mean it.

“You too,” I say.

She walks away, turning back once more. “You should really think about answering my question …”

“Not a chance.”

She laughs before spinning on her heel and heading to the front of the store to check out.

A moment later, I realize I’m standing there wearing a dopey grin. I’m sure I look like a damn lunatic.

I wipe the expression off my face, get back in line, and order my filet mignon.

Years ago, I used to wonder what would be worse: Jude and Jovie getting married and me having to spend the rest of my life watching my best friend live happily ever after with her? Or Jude sending Jovie packing and me never having to see her again.

It never occurred to me that there could ever be anything in between.

Now I know.

Only I don’t know how I feel about it.

None of these scenarios end with me getting the girl.

Review

This book pulled me in and wrapped me up in it pages.

This forbidden, ex’s best friend romance will surprise you with not only its plot, but its sweetness. The flashbacks, the tension and conclusion make for amazing reading.

You will alternately groan at the what-could-have-beens and cheer while Stone & Jovie navigate the newness of their relationship. I definitely recommend this read!

I voluntarily read & reviewed an ARC of this book.

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.
And if you’d like to be the first to know when a new book is coming out, please sign up for her private mailing list here —> http://eepurl.com/bfQU2j

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Excerpt Reveal: Playing Dane by Hannah Gray

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💗EXCERPT BLAST 💗

Take a peek inside 𝐏𝐥𝐚𝐲𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐃𝐚𝐧𝐞 by Hannah Gray! This is a steamy, heartfelt, sports romance coming on June 1st!

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EXCERPT:

Leaning down, he grabs something between where my feet are parted. His hand brushes my ankle, making me suck in a breath. Standing up, he holds a debit card up. “You dropped this, Layla.”

I feel frozen as I stand here like a moron, tingling in places that should not be tingling. And not from the bourbon either.

Finally, I snap out of it and snatch the card away from him. “Uh … th-thanks.”

“No problem,” he says and takes a step back. “Have a good night.”

Turning slowly, he walks away. And judging by my body’s sharp reaction to him … hopefully out of my life. Dane Wade isn’t the type of guy you can kiss and forget.

And since I don’t do the whole relationship thing, there’s no point in becoming a prisoner to his touch.

I might not see marriage or children in my future, but if I see a prospect to have a little fun with? You’re damn right I’m going to take it. I won’t feel bad either. Men somehow look hotter if they get around campus. A girl sleeps with a handful of guys, and suddenly, she’s deemed a whore. We’re not in the olden days anymore, folks. Time to catch up with the times.

Now, that isn’t to say I sleep around on the regular. In fact, I’ve only had sex with a few different guys. But fooling around? Making out and allowing a bit of fondling? No harm there. As long as I don’t see myself getting attached to the guy, I’ll kiss him silly. If there’s a chance of one of us catching feelings, hell to the no. Kissing is far too personal. In my opinion anyway.

So, as I said before, Dane isn’t a guy I should be kissing. I know my weaknesses. And it turns out, guys who look like that, with sad eyes and a tortured soul … might just be one of them.

Blurb:

Dane Wade is a breath of fresh air. Sexy, charming, and with abs that could melt any woman’s panties. With my rules and boundaries in place, he is the perfect person to have fun with to pass the time. As long as he knows it will never amount to anything more. Which he does … I think.

But then boundaries get shattered. Lines get blurred. And I know it’s time to bolt before things get harder and I risk falling deeper. Running away is the only thing I know how to do. And in my twenty years on this earth, it’s worked for me.

They say you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. They’re wrong. I knew what I had all along. I just couldn’t accept it.

And now … he might be gone for good.

One thing is for sure: it’ll take more than an apology for him to want me back. But saying I’m sorry is a good place to start.

Pre-order the Florida East University series here: https://amzn.to/3Lk8vBn

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Excerpt Reveal: Fate After Fame by Amber Kelly

🎶💗 EXCERPT BLAST💗🎶

Take a peek inside 𝐅𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐀𝐟𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐅𝐚𝐦𝐞 by Amber Kelly! This is a small town, second chance romance coming May 23rd! Pre-order yours today!

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EXCERPT:

“What are we doing?”

He grabs my hand and pulls me to the sidewalk that leads up to the door and stops in front of the impression in the pavement. The town had redone the front of the hall when we were in high school and one night after a bonfire we snuck up on the wet cement and sat down leaving a permanent stamp of our backsides.

“That’s our tushies. Forever cemented beside each other at town hall. If that doesn’t say fate I don’t know what does,” he tells me.

“It says idiots that’s what it says,” I disagree.

“That was a fun night. Admit it.”

I shrug.

“We were young and wild.”

“We’re still young,” I say as we continue on to Market Square.

“And one of us is still wild, but seriously, thank you for being such a good sport tonight. I know it wasn’t exactly the date night you had in mind, but the library means a lot to the community, and gregarious auction bids aside, your mere presence helped to raise an enormous amount of money tonight.”

“It was my pleasure. I love this town as much as anyone. Besides, there is one thing you can do to show me your appreciation,” he says as we approach the front of the cafe.

I narrow my eyes at him.

He lifts his hands in the air.

“Get your mind out of the gutter Miss Humphries. I just want a do-over date. You owe me that much,” he proposes.

I take my key from my clutch and unlock the door then I turn back to him.

One minute I’m about to answer him, and the next he has me backed against the door.

“Garrett,” I warn.

He brings his face to mine and circles my nose with his.

“Yes?”

“I have to go inside,” I whisper.

“I know.”

He doesn’t budge an inch as he lays his forehead against mine. His hands move from the small of my back and slide down my hips.

“Did I tell you how amazing you look in this dress?” he asks.

I shake my head.

“I swear, I didn’t think you could be any more beautiful than you were back in high school, but I was wrong. You’re a stunning woman, Ansley.”

I can feel my heartbeat start to race and the knot in my stomach grows tight.

This kiss is different than the one we shared in my closet the other night. This one is soft and sweet and somehow much scarier than the passionate one. One of his hands comes up to caress my cheek and I drop my purse to the ground and clutch the sides of his blazer.

Garrett pulls back and still holding my face he places a peck on my nose and steps back.

“Tomorrow?” he asks again.

“Okay,” I answer without thinking, my mind still whirling from the kiss.

Blurb:

After years of hard work and saving all my pennies while working as Balsam Ridge’s librarian, my dream of opening a combination book store and cafe is finally coming to fruition.

Everything is on track until my old high school flame, Nashville’s trouble-making superstar Garrett Tuttle, comes back to town. His wild ways and out-of-control behavior caused his label to send him home while the chatter dies down. Garrett doesn’t know how to lay low, and his arrival turns my world upside down.

But I’m not the same broken-hearted girl he left all those years ago, and I’m the only woman on earth who’s not affected by his playboy charm.

Can I stand firm or will Garrett’s sweet lyrics make my heart soar again?

Small Town, Musician, Second Chance Romance. Coming to you on May 23, 2022

Find more books by Amber Kelly here: www.authoramberkelly.com

Blog Tour: Matchmaking a Billionaire by Angela Denise ~ 4.5 stars

He’s a rich, entitled jerk and she’s falling for him fast.

Matchmaking a Billionaire, a hilarious, billionaire, matchmaking rom-com from New York Times bestselling author Denise Grover Swank and USA Today bestselling author Angela Casella writing as Angela Denise is out now!

Excerpt

Bryn
“People are always watching you, aren’t they?” I ask.
Rory takes a step toward me, and I think again about all those watching eyes. Everyone in town will be watching us now, and they’ll sense . . .
Well, they’ll sense that we’re obviously in lust with each other.
“Are you watching me, Bryn?” he says softly.
Well, throw a bucket of water on me and call me the Wicked Witch of the West.
“Sometimes it’s hard to look away,” I admit, my mouth forming the words before I have time to give it a talking-to.
His eyes sparkle, as if I just confirmed something he’s wondered about, desperately. “Do you ask so many questions of all of your clients?”
“Yes,” I fib. While he might be averse to white lies, I’m not. But before that sparkle can dim all the way, I admit, “But I don’t usually offer any information in return.”
His smile burrows under my skin. Then he glances up, taking in our observers, and says, “Let me walk you to your car.”
“It’s in the back of the parking lot,” I say.
He nods. “Lead the way.”
He walks beside me, a little too close, and even though it’s a warm night, I can feel his heat leaping toward me, like flames to paper.
Once we’re away from the front of the brewery, his hand slips to the small of my back and lingers there, and if there’s ever been anything so sexy, I don’t know what it is. We’re about to pass a copse of trees on the side of the lot when he glances around, grabs my hand, and pulls me into it. We’re in near darkness, evergreens dancing around us, and we’re standing close enough that I can feel his breath feathering my face.
His eyes are so warm they nearly immolate me.
“I don’t mean to tell you how to do your job,” he says, “but I think you succeeded before you started. I want to be set up with you.”
“Micromanaging me already, are you?” I ask, a little breathless.
“Yes.” He reaches up to touch my jaw, tracing the shape of it. “I’d like to kiss you.”
I should tell him no. Setting aside the whole four dates thing, we’re going to be working together. Giving into this . . . madness . . . is the last thing we should be doing, but I’ve been so lonely, and he’s more of a man than I’ve encountered in . . .
Forever.
He’s the kind of man I didn’t think existed in real life, to be honest.
So maybe I can temporarily forget I’m setting myself up for disaster. Because just about a year ago, my fiancé of twenty-four hours and I broke up, and within a week he was with another woman. Within three months, he’d married her. If I let myself fall for Rory, if I let myself give in to these feelings tugging at me, insisting I acknowledge them, then I won’t just be giving myself a front-row seat to him moving on . . . I might have the displeasure of being the person who helps him do it.
Still, I find myself leaning into him. “Then quit talking and do it already.”

Synopsis

Bryn

I used to believe in what we do at Mayberry Matchmakers, but now? Love is just another four-letter word.

Too bad my grandmother hasn’t gotten the memo. When tech billionaire Rory Byrne approaches us, wanting to develop the matchmaking app my sister and I dreamed up (and Nana shot down), she jumps at the chance. My grandmother is nothing if not opportunistic.

Of course, there’s a catch. She’ll only do it if Rory lets us matchmake him the old-fashioned way.

He’s going to say no.

Please God, let him say no.

The last thing I want to do is matchmake an entitled rich jerk…especially one who looks like sin and talks a good game.

***

Rory

I’ve screwed up in love a few times, but I never screw up in business. Mayberry Matchmakers has the idea for something amazing, and I have the money and the experience to make it come to life.

I should deny Nana Mayberry’s condition. If I let them matchmake me, it’ll be all over the news, and making headlines has never interested me…especially not after the personal betrayal that nearly broke me. But I’m having trouble caring about what I should do, because Bryn Mayberry is smart, snarky, and not the slightest bit impressed with me.

Actually, this may be Mayberry Matchmakers’ easiest job yet.

Fall in love today!
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Available in Amazon and Kindle Unlimited April 28th
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Review

This is an interesting, never-a-dull moment introduction to the Mayberry Matchmakers series.

Bryn Mayberry has lost interest in love. But the arrival of billionaire Rory Byrne in her small town sets more than tongues wagging; her heart seems to think that Rory might be the man she was waiting her whole life for. But he’s her new business partner, and she’s determined not to mix business with pleasure or love.

Rory never planned on falling in love. He’s in Highland Hills to do business. But after finally meeting the elusive Bryn Mayberry, he’s sure he could do a little pleasure, too. But, maneuvering himself into working closer with her also ensnares him in a clever matchmaking trap created by Bryn’s insufferable grandmother.

This is a really good story, and I wholeheartedly recommend it. I liked the plot, as well as the majority of the cast of characters. Bryn & Rory’s story is fun, sweet and steamy. I would love to see where this author duo takes the series.

I voluntarily read & reviewed an ARC of this book.

About Denise Grover Swank

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Denise Grover Swank was born in Kansas City, Missouri and lived in the area until she was nineteen. Then she became a nomadic gypsy, living in five cities, four states and ten ho uses over the course of ten years before she moved back to her roots. She speaks English and smattering of Spanish and Chinese which she learned through an intensive Nick Jr. immersion period. Her hobbies include witty Facebook comments (in own her mind) and dancing in her kitchen with her children. (Quite badly if you believe her offspring.) Hidden talents include the gift of justification and the ability to drink massive amounts of caffeine and still fall asleep within two minutes. Her lack of the sense of smell allows her to perform many unspeakable tasks. She has six children and hasn’t lost her sanity. Or so she leads you to believe.

Connect with Denise
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Website: https://bit.ly/3hRjcNl

About Angela Casella

ANGELA CASELLA loves writing romcoms, particularly with the lovely Denise Grover Swank. They write together as Angela Denise. Angela also writes the Fairy Godmother Agency series. She lives in Asheville, NC with her husband, daughter, and two geriatric dogs. Her hobbies include herding her daughter toward less dangerous activities, stress baking, and marathon watching TV shows.

Connect with Angela
Facebook: https://bit.ly/3gOsV5v
Website: https://www.arcasella.com/

About New York Times bestselling author Denise Grover Swank and USA Today bestselling author Angela Casella writing as Angela Denise

ANGELA DENISE is the pen name for the writing duo Angela Casella and Denise Grover Swank.

ANGELA CASELLA loves writing romcoms, particularly with the lovely Denise Grover Swank. She lives in Asheville, NC with her husband, daughter, and two geriatric dogs. Her hobbies include herding her daughter toward less dangerous activities, stress baking, and marathon watching TV shows.

DENISE GROVER SWANK is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author and has sold over three million books. She indie published her first book, a romance mystery, Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes, in 2011. She has since published over fifty novels, multiple novellas and short stories as an indie and with five publishers. She is published in seven languages. She is a single mother to six children and four dogs and hasn’t lost her sanity. Or so she leads you to believe.

Connect with Angela Denise

Facebook: https://bit.ly/3k1DQNt

Excerpt Reveal: A Little Bit Dirty by Willow Winters

A LITTLE BIT DIRTY by Willow Winters

Release Date: April 28th

Genre/Tropes: Second Chance Romance/Small Town Romance/Blue Collar

SPECIAL PREORDER PRICE!!

$2.99 sale for preorder and release week only!!!

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Add to Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57877306-a-little-bit-dirty

Excerpt:

“What were you doing out there?” she breathes, eyes flashing. Like maybe she wants to fuck me, maybe she wants to hit me. Hell, maybe she wants to do both at the same time and I wouldn’t blame her. “What the hell are you doing, Asher?”

“What are you doing?” I fire back, but my voice is low and tempts her.

A flush hits her cheeks as she breathes in. “I was just out with my friends. I’m having a good time. And you’re kind of ruining it,” she admits. Her tone is anything but confrontational, yet her statement throws me off.

“How? I’m ruining it? By talking to you?”

“No. You’re ruining it because you’re sitting at the end of the bar looking all hot,” her emerald eyes pin me in place when she adds, “and I want to kiss you. All I want to do is kiss you.”

“Kiss me, then,” I challenge, knowing she’s not going to and hoping she will anyway.

Blurb:

From USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestselling romance author, Willow Winters, comes a second chance with a filthy mouthed, possessive hero, not willing to lose the love of his life again.

I’ve got a thing for men who work with their hands.

I thought I learned my lesson years ago. But here I am, back in the small town I grew up in, staring down the man who broke my heart years ago.

I intended to tell him off.

My plan was to flip him the bird and prove to both of us that he hadn’t ruined me.

I sure as hell wasn’t going to sleep with him.

Until he tells me he’s sorry.

Until he gives me that smoldering look I still dream about.

Until he whispers just beneath the shell of my ear… His breath trails down my neck and he leaves an opened mouth kiss right there, in that sensitive spot.

“You have no idea how much I’ve missed you.”

My treacherous heart wants more. More of him. More of us. But there’s a reason it didn’t work before and when you don’t learn from your past mistakes, you’re bound to repeat them.

About the Author:

Willow Winters is so happy to be a USA Today, Wall Street Journal and #1 Contemporary Best Selling Author!

Willow started writing after having her little girl, Evie, December 2015. All during her pregnancy with Evie she continued to read and she only wanted to read romance. She was reading a book a day — sometimes two.

In January 2016 Willow was staying up late with Evie and just thinking of all these stories. They came to her constantly so she finally sat down and just started writing. She always wanted to do it so she figured, why not? Today Willow cannot be happier for making that decision!

Stay up to date with Willow:

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Excerpt Reveal: Best I Ever Had by S. L. Scott

BEST I EVER HAD by S.L. Scott

Release Date: February 25th

Genre/Trope: Opposites Attract/ Surprise Pregnancy/ Forced Proximity/ Billionaire/ Hidden Identity/Single Parent

Add To Goodreads:

https://geni.us/BestGR

EXCERPT

“I like the sound of that.”

Tilting my head to the side, I ask, “Of what?”

He leans forward and dips the tip of his finger in the pocket of my apron. Pulling me closer, he then stands and leans to whisper in my ear, “The possibility of us.”

My heart beats quicker as his words race through my veins. The warmth of his breath breezing across my skin has goose bumps rising as if on command.

I lift my chin, causing our cheeks to brush together. “I’m starting to suspect that Zeus’s storm raging outside isn’t the only god messing with the fates today.”

Leaning back, he catches my gaze and stares into my eyes. The smirk has gone and been replaced with a look that causes my breath to catch and lie heavy in my chest. “That only leaves two choices for us, Story. We fight the fates and walk away. Or—”

“We take a chance and follow their lead.” With my heart still pounding, I realize that our fate is already sealed.

Blurb:

The storm.

The man.

Both come without warning.

My heart opens to Cooper Haywood the moment we meet. How can it resist? He’s charming, devastatingly handsome, and sweeps me off my feet before I realize the impact he’s making. And then it’s too late.

We fall too fast to worry about the consequences.

We love so hard that we ache when we’re apart.

Even though I have a past that still haunts me and he has a future that could put us at risk, none of that matters when we’re together.

Until it does.

And then everything changes.

Although the best thing he ever gave me now calls me Mommy, I can’t help but wonder if Cooper Haywood and that fateful storm were one and the same.

About the Author:

Living in the capital of Texas with her family, Scott loves traveling, avocados, beaches, and cooking with her kids. She’s obsessed with epic romances and loves a good plot twist.

Scott writes character driven, heart-racing, and swoony romances to suspense that will leave you glued to the page. Her stories are regarded as emotion-filled and soulful. With stories ranging from light and witty beach reads to heart wrenching and heart healing, Scott has a story for all readers. Her books are more than escapes for the voracious readers of today. They are journeys of the heart that always come with a happily ever after reward at the end.

Connect w/S.L. Scott:

Website: www.slscottauthor.com or https://geni.us/slscott

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Blog Tour: The Mastermind by Dylan Allen ~ 5 stars

This time he’s playing for keeps.

The Mastermind, a standalone novella set in the Rivers Wilde World from Wall Street Journal bestselling author Dylan Allen and 1,001 Dark Nights is now available!

He lives under a golden spotlight.
I’m shackled to a past that must stay hidden.

Omar Solomon is the king of the comeback.
Ten years ago his career as a star athlete ended in injury and scandal.
He may have traded in his cleats for Gucci loafers, but he’s been as victorious in the boardroom as he was on the pitch.

He returns to London, wealthy, influential, and powerful beyond measure.
And he spends every weekend in the pub where I work.
A law student with a night job and a dark past,
I’m hardly the type of woman a man like him would notice.

Or so I thought.

When he offers me a no-strings-attached affair,
I forget all the reasons I should say no.
He’s straight out of my dreams—
with a body and a mouth made for sinning.

Our passion turns my gray existence into a vibrant, colorful life.
But it has an expiration date.

When his time in London is over, we will be, too.
And it will be for the best.
Because he can never find out who I really am.

But my Mastermind has set his sights on a new goal: me.
And this time he’s playing for keeps.

**Every 1,001 Dark Nights novella is a standalone story. For new readers, it’s an introduction to an author’s world. And for fans, it’s a bonus book in the author’s series. We hope you’ll enjoy each one as much as we do.**

Grab your copy today!
Exclusively on Amazon
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Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/TheMastermindDA

Review

Dylan Allen has been on my TBR list for some time, but this blurb of this novella really caught my attention. It hinted at intrigue and I was hooked.

“Staying alive and living aren’t the same thing, and I’ve only ever been able to do one at a time.”

Jules has been beaten down in life, and she’s always trying to claw herself out of the depressing hole of her life. Working multiple jobs to assuage her guilt and keep her demons at bay, she is blindsided by the attraction and depth of feeling she develops for Omar, former world famous athlete. Though she originally thought they’d be temporary, her heart has already decided that Omar will stay in it permanently. When her past comes knocking, though, their new relationship will be put to the test.

Omar is a hero you love almost immediately. He’s drawn to Jules in a way he’s never been drawn to a woman before.

“…the beauty that first caught my notice has become the secondary driver of my attraction and respect for her.”

Confused and hurt with family issues, he finds peace in Jules, and seeks to become hers, too. But when the woman he’s falling for suddenly begins keeping secrets, he’s worried that he’s been taken for a fool all over again.

I loved this read. It was romantic, with bits of suspense and lots of twists and turns – but pretty inspiring. It was longer than I expected a novella to be, but it was a satisfying read. At the end, I found myself wishing for more of Jules & Omar. I very much enjoyed the author’s references to calypso/soca music; I felt seen!

I recommend this read wholeheartedly and unreservedly. Jules & Omar will wow you.

I voluntarily read & reviewed an ARC of this book.

Excerpt

He cuts through the crowd of people in glamorous garb, crystal cut tumblers or fragile flutes in their wildly gesticulating hands. Yet they seem to move just as he wants them to so that he doesn’t need to turn sideways to accommodate his broad shoulders or taper his remarkably long strides.
Long strides that are bringing him straight toward me.
I barely have time to spin around before he’s right behind me.
“Scotch on the rocks,” he tells the bartender when he slides onto the empty barstool next to me. I disguise my gasp as a cough, place a hand on the bar to steady myself, and stare straight ahead.
The young man nods and grabs a glass. “We’ve got Macallan 18 for the masses, but I’ve got a bottle of Craigelachhie that might be more to your taste.”
“I don’t really care, whichever,” he responds in a voice that’s not rude but doesn’t match the adoration in the server’s. Undeterred, the young man leans forward across the bar and lowers his voice to a loud whisper. “I know you’ve been gone a while, but I’m still a huge fan, Mastermind. Can I snap a selfie?”
To my surprise, Omar doesn’t rebuff the bartender. “Only if you promise you won’t post it for a bit. No one knows I’m in London yet, and I’d like to keep it that way for just a few more weeks.”
I watched an interview from very early on in his career when he was asked about his dislike of public availabilities.
He explained that he understood it was part of the job. So he did it. “I play for the love of the game, and if I had my way, I wouldn’t do any interviews at all. I don’t even know why you want to interview me. I say everything I need to out on that pitch. I get it. I had sports heroes, too. But when they fall off the pedestals you put them on, you swoop in and eat them alive.”
That interview would prove prescient when he left Chelsea years later. The press tore him to shreds for sitting out an entire season, leaving as soon as he became a free agent and basically abandoning London, his fans, and his team.
He still doesn’t talk to the press regularly, but he doesn’t leave their accusations unanswered. He became his own press secretary and posted videos on social media pushing back on false headlines. And when they lost interest, he started sharing his private pictures. And sued newspapers that used his images without his permission.
I watch the exchange between him and the bartender out of the corner of my eye and am giddy that the wickedly sweet dimple is as deep as I’d imagined. And God, I want to lick it. One day, my pretty.
This has to be a sign. He’s so far out of my league, I shouldn’t be able to see him. And at the pub, I wouldn’t dare approach him.
But here I am, close enough to see and touch. And I look good tonight. I’m glad I took special care to send my most fashionable friend off.
The bustier I invested in makes my otherwise unimpressively small breasts look their very best in the very low neckline of my scarlet red minidress. It’s hugging every inch of a body that even CrossFit and a vegan diet couldn’t kill the curves on.
The lighting in this ballroom sets off the healthy glow of my bare legs, shoulders, décolletage, and back that is courtesy of my homemade sugar scrub. It leaves me smelling like a tropical garden at midnight.
Liquid courage and my heels give me height and confidence that override my nerves, and I shoot my shot.
“Do you want to dance?” I ask loudly so there’s no way he won’t hear me.
Those wolf eyes slant down to look at me, unblinking, the smile he’d given the bartender long gone. There’s no flicker of recognition, but there’s no mistaking the interest as he stares at me. He’s never done more than look past me at the pub, so I don’t know why I’m disappointed that he doesn’t recognize me.
“Excuse me? I didn’t hear you,” he says when he finally speaks. His voice. It’s deep, smooth—no gravel but a lot of bass. And is there anything sexier than an American accent? I smile as widely as I can manage, the punters at the Effra call it my traffic stopping smile. Then I break my golden rule and repeat myself. “Would you like to dance?”
He doesn’t return my smile, and when he turns to look at the dance floor, that scowl reappears. “I don’t dance,” he comments without looking back at me.
I follow his gaze. “Childhood trauma on the dance floor?” I ask with a teasing grin.
His lips tug up a little, but he doesn’t smile. “No. General observation. People look ridiculous when they dance.”
I can’t deny that. But I shake my head in disagreement. “They’re having fun, not putting on a show.”
He shrugs. “That’s not my idea of fun. Like I said, I don’t dance.” He reaches into his jacket pocket, pulls out his phone, and glances at it. He gives me a quick, stiff smile. “I’m sorry, but I have to take this call.” He doesn’t sound sorry at all and doesn’t wait for me to respond before he walks off.
“Ouch,” the bartender drawls, and I want to glare at him and tell him I didn’t ask for his feedback. But he’s so right I can’t be mad.
“I know,” I groan.
“For what it’s worth, if I wasn’t working I wouldn’t have said no.” He grins, and I wish I was attracted to him instead of Omar.
I smile gratefully and take the refill he hands me. But a few sips of it while swaying by myself to a song I’ve never heard before only makes me feel worse.
I put my glass on the tray of a passing server and head to the coat check to collect my things.

About Dylan Allen
Dylan Allen is a Texas girl with a serious case of wanderlust.
A self-proclaimed happily ever junkie, she loves creating stories where her characters chase their own happy endings.
When she isn’t writing or reading, eating or cooking, she and her family are planning their next adventure.

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Review Tour: Scammer Girl by Michelle Dayton ~ 4 stars

Jo is a professional online romance scammer and Jamie is The Conscience of Silicon Valley. They don’t trust one another, and when they meet in person, they quickly discover that not everything appears as it seems. Fans of Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne will love Scammer Girl, a spicy enemies to lovers romance.

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Five years ago, Jo Harper did a bad thing. Dumped, injured, and in crippling debt, Jo did what any desperate woman with a PhD in psychology and above-average computer skills would: become an elite, undetectable online romance scammer. Now Jo and her team of four young women bring in enough cash to keep them securely afloat. Their targets? Married cheaters.

Jamie March, Bay Area royalty known as “The Conscience of Silicon Valley,” hates every aspect of online crime, especially those who defraud people. And when it appears that his brother is the victim of a sophisticated romance scam, he can’t stand idly by.

What’s weird though, is that when Jo and Jamie meet…they don’t hate one another. Not at all. He makes her laugh and feel alive again. She challenges his intellect like no other. But they can’t trust one another, right? And you can’t fall in love with someone you don’t trust—or can you?

Add to Goodreads!

Excerpt

Copyright 2022 Michelle Dayton

We swayed together as the song reach its climax. It was much more of an embrace than a dance. My lips were inches from that damn freckle, and his hands were roving through my loose hair, tugging my head back. My lips parted—

He stiffened, just the slightest bit. I felt the withdrawal. “What’s wrong?”

There was a storm in those sea eyes. A sharp bite in his voice. “Does every man you target feel like this? Like you’re both the drug and the antidote?”

If he’d physically slapped me, it wouldn’t have hurt more.

I took a step back, dropping my hands and jutting out my chin. Not that it mattered or that he would believe me, but, “You were never a target.”

The song ended, and I raised my hands in applause to the stage before coolly pointing to my sofa, marching to it, and sitting down. “I assume you want to discuss your brother.” Jamie lowered himself to the cushion next to me, but he didn’t relax into the seat. His rigid posture made me want to give him a good shove.

“I’m sorry I said that,” he mumbled. “I’m extremely uneasy about the effect you have on me.” His lips tightened. “I know a lot about the ways people can be damaged by Internet scams: financially, emotionally. But I’ve never been involved in one personally.”

He moved his head from side to side, a little sheepish. “The past month, our letters. There was always the possibility you were acting or lying. But I didn’t think you were. I chose to believe that the letters you wrote were coming from you, not someone you made up. That the conversation we had the night we met was real.” He looked at the band, at the couples swaying. “When we were dancing, I was so … so fucking thrilled, I scared myself. What if you’re pretending? Performing? What if I’m the world’s biggest idiot?”

His straightforward truthfulness was jarring. Maybe I’d been in the game for too long, but I just didn’t expect men to be so open about their feelings, especially ones that made them vulnerable. In writing, yes. In person, no.

“I’m not pretending or performing,” I bit out. The truth came through my lips before I could stop it. “I’m extremely uneasy about the effect you have on me too.”

His shoulders relaxed a few inches. “I do want to talk about Bobby,” he admitted. “But,” he leaned forward. “First I just want to talk. To you. About anything.”

Still a little stung, I just shrugged. “Well, no Jeopardy! tonight. So I guess we won’t be trading quotes from classic literature.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” he said. “There’s one perfect quote that’s been boomeranging around my skull for the last several weeks.” He quirked one brow and made meaningful eye contact. “‘You have bewitched me, body and soul.’”

Oof. I hung my head in mock surrender and covered my heart with my hands. He just undid with me with his ridiculous adorableness. “Ok, Indy. You win. You’ve just recited my favorite line in all of fiction. Let’s talk.”

Jamie’s eyes widened with glee. “Indy? That’s the Harrison Ford I am? Indiana Jones? Should I buy a hat and whip?”

I burst out laughing. “I mean, sure. You’d look great in a fedora. But I was referring to Indiana Jones in professor mode. With the three-piece suit, tie, and glasses.”

He slumped down, looking deflated. “Oh. Yeah, that makes more sense.”

I poked him in the shoulder. “Don’t pout. There is a huge population of women who find classroom Indy even sexier than sweaty jungle Indy.”

He cocked his jaw. “Interesting. Are you within that population?”

Oh. This was getting dangerous. But not even a little part of me felt like stopping. I smiled directly into his eyes. “Hell yes.”


Review

This book lured me in and surprised me in the best of ways.

Jo Harper is an online scammer, targeting married, cheating men. She’s been hurt before and, using her smarts and her computer, she’s managed to regain a bit of what she lost 5 years earlier. Jamie March is the proclaimed ‘good Internet guy’, crusading against unsavoury online behaviour. They cross paths – purely by chance – when Jamie suspects that his brother may have been targeted in a scam. An unlikely attraction blossoms into something the pair is afraid to name – as they’ve both been scared to trust.

I thought, initially, that the single POV would have irritated me, but it gave me an appreciation for Jo’s reasoning behind her decision to become an online scammer. It also provided the insight as to why her methods were not as mainstream as I expected them to be.

I liked Jamie. A lot. He and Jo were on opposite sides morally, but their chemistry and banter had me wishing eagerly that they would end up together sooner rather than later.

This is a well-written book. I loved that the leads were closer to my age. Michelle Dayton takes us on an intriguing journey that I recommend to you.

I voluntarily read & reviewed an ARC of this book.

About Michelle Dayton

There are only three things Michelle Dayton loves more than sexy and suspenseful novels: her family, the city of Chicago, and Mr. Darcy. Michelle dreams of a year of world travel – as long as the trip would include weeks and weeks of beach time. As a bourbon lover and unabashed wine snob, Michelle thinks heaven is discussing a good book over an adult beverage.

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Release Blitz: Scammer Girl by Michelle Dayton

Jo is a professional online romance scammer and Jamie is The Conscience of Silicon Valley. They don’t trust one another, and when they meet in person, they quickly discover that not everything appears as it seems. Fans of Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne will love Scammer Girl, a spicy enemies to lovers romance.

Blurb

Five years ago, Jo Harper did a bad thing. Dumped, injured, and in crippling debt, Jo did what any desperate woman with a PhD in psychology and above-average computer skills would: become an elite, undetectable online romance scammer. Now Jo and her team of four young women bring in enough cash to keep them securely afloat. Their targets? Married cheaters.

Jamie March, Bay Area royalty known as “The Conscience of Silicon Valley,” hates every aspect of online crime, especially those who defraud people. And when it appears that his brother is the victim of a sophisticated romance scam, he can’t stand idly by.

What’s weird though, is that when Jo and Jamie meet…they don’t hate one another. Not at all. He makes her laugh and feel alive again. She challenges his intellect like no other. But they can’t trust one another, right? And you can’t fall in love with someone you don’t trust—or can you?

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Excerpt

Copyright 2022 Michelle Dayton

Chapter One

It is a truth universally acknowledged that to trick a rich man out of a large sum of money, one must be very clever and very patient.

In the hotel coffee shop, I stopped drumming my fingers on the table and with great effort stilled my twitching foot. I’d been born clever, but the whole patience thing was taking a lot longer.

Across the room, Heather sat serenely, her rolling suitcase beside her, nose buried in a book on the politics of Silicon Valley. Her thick, dark hair was pulled into a high ponytail and the tortoiseshell glasses perched on the edge of her tiny nose gave her a studious air. She wore a tattered gray Boston Red Sox T-shirt that dwarfed her in an adorable way.

She looked perfect. It had taken me forever to come up with the character’s exact look, but it was going to work. I just knew it. The team had made solid progress with our new San Francisco targets; I estimated we’d hear from half of them within the next week, which was pretty typical. But nabbing this one would make the road trip an unqualified success.

“How’s the book?” I murmured. The miniscule mic, invisible below my dress’s collar, transmitted to an equally covert bud in Heather’s ear.

“Incomprehensible,” Heather muttered without moving her lips. “Did you actually read this?”

Blech. I grimaced. “Every word, unfortunately. He’s babbled about it non-stop on LinkedIn.”

I looked between the shop’s door to the lobby and its door to the street. Since he lived in a building around the corner, he’d most likely enter from the street. Glancing down at my watch, I sat up straighter. It was 8:45 a.m. In the past year, Linc Townsend had posted three times before 9:00 a.m. on his Twitter page that the only proper way to start a Friday morning was with a flat white from this particular coffee locale.

There! The door to the street swung open, revealing a tall man in his late thirties. His trademark white-blond hair was cropped close to his head. “Showtime,” I whispered to Heather. “Turn slightly so that the book is more obvious and he can see your shirt.”

Heather took a sip from the cup on her table and angled herself to face the counter directly. She raised the book so that it rested on the table, the front cover obvious. Then she pushed back her shoulders; the logo on her shirt floated above the book.

Townsend strode to the register and smiled at the barista. “My usual.” After paying, he walked to the edge of the counter to wait for his drink. Damn it, he was pulling out his phone. If he got immersed in scrolling, he might not look up. He might not see her at all.

My gaze lit on the tray of lids, pitchers, and sugars at the edge of the counter. “Get up and get some milk for your drink,” I whispered. “Bring the book.”

Heather stood, her eyes still looking down at the pages. Then she transferred the book to one hand, keeping her finger inserted halfway, the picture of someone who couldn’t bear to lose her place. She picked up the coffee cup with the other and glided across the shop, looking very much the intense grad student she was pretending to be.

“Excuse me,” she said softly to Townsend without looking at him. She put her cup on the counter and poured milk with the same hand, propping the book on the counter with the other.

As he moved a foot away to allow her some space, he gave a fleeting look at her face and at the book on the counter.

I grinned. Five, four, three, two …

“What do you think of this book?” he asked Heather, tapping the hardcover. “I’m very familiar with it.” I bit my smile under control and waited for Heather’s opening line. I’d worked hard on it.

Heather looked up at Townsend, hazel eyes wide as if he’d startled her. Then she let her brow furrow and her mouth fold into a cute purse, as if she were seriously considering the question. “It’s uneven,” she finally said, meeting his gaze directly. “Some chapters are engaging and thought-provoking. But others are much less impressive.”

Nodding to herself as though her opinion was the final word on the matter, she gave him a small dismissive smile and took her coffee and book back to her table. I suppressed a laugh. Heather was such a pro. I might write the lines, but Heather always nailed the delivery.

Townsend gaped at her, his mouth slightly parted. His gaze traveled from the beat-up sneakers on her feet, up the length of her faded jeans, and rested on the Red Sox T-shirt. Then he looked at Heather’s face, once again absorbed in the book. His gaze softened on the glasses and ponytail.

Gotcha. I had agreed with one of Andie’s key assessments from her deep dive into Linc Townsend’s life: even though high school was twenty years in Townsend’s past, he was still nostalgic about the bespectacled brunette beauty he’d dated his senior year. Before she dumped him on her way to Harvard.

He was so distracted that the barista had to say “Linc” twice when his flat white was ready.

Here we go. Adrenaline pulsed through my veins. I cleared my throat, ready. Townsend hesitated for only a moment before crossing the room and sitting, uninvited, in the other chair at Heather’s table. She looked up, annoyance clear on her face. “Wh –ah, can I help you?”

His words transmitted clearly through the mic clipped to Heather’s bra. “You’ve intrigued me. I want to know which chapters you found worthwhile and which were lacking.”

Taking a deep breath, I spoke as quickly and clearly as I could. Heather was used to the ventriloquist act, but if I flubbed a word, she would sound unnatural. “I enjoyed the chapters about how Silicon Valley types are extreme idealists. How life is just a matter of discovering great ideas through conversation, innovation, and education.” I paused so Heather could catch up. As soon as Heather spouted “education,” I started again. “But I think the book’s conclusion that Silicon Valley is a libertarian-like ideology within the Democrat Party—well, that’s a bit of a stretch.”

Heather delivered the last sentence flawlessly and raised her eyebrows. “Satisfied?”

Linc Townsend set his flat white on the table and leaned forward. I waited for a quick lecture of approval, especially since, as the creator of a successful tech start-up, he’d been quoted at length in the parts of the book that Heather said she liked.

But he asked her an important question before mansplaining. “What is your name?” He offered a manicured hand across the table.

We’d hooked him already.

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About Michelle Dayton

There are only three things Michelle Dayton loves more than sexy and suspenseful novels: her family, the city of Chicago, and Mr. Darcy. Michelle dreams of a year of world travel – as long as the trip would include weeks and weeks of beach time. As a bourbon lover and unabashed wine snob, Michelle thinks heaven is discussing a good book over an adult beverage.

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