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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Playing Catch Up! The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest by Melanie Dickerson

Playing Catch Up has really been helping me through my ever growing TBR list. I'd like to welcome all other blogs to participate too! If you do, be sure to post your links in the comments section. I'd love to see your Playing Catch Up Reviews, and I'm sure others would too!! *wink*

Want to know more about Playing Catch Up? I'll tell you all about it here!

The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest (A Medieval Fairy Tale #1) by Melanie Dickerson 
Genre: Adult Fiction (Historical Romance/Fractured Fairy Tale)
Date Published: May 12, 2015
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

A beautiful maiden who poaches to feed the poor.

A handsome forester on a mission to catch her.

Danger and love are about to unite in Thornbeck Forest.

The margrave owns the finest hunting grounds for miles around—and who teaches children to read, but by night this young beauty has become the secret lifeline to the poorest of the poor.

For Jorgen Hartman, the margrave’s forester, tracking down a poacher is a duty he is all too willing to perform. Jorgen inherited his post from the man who raised him . . . a man who was murdered at the hands of a poacher.

When Jorgen and Odette meet at the Midsummer festival and share a connection during a dance, neither has any idea that they are already adversaries.

The one man she wants is bound by duty to capture her; the one woman he loves is his cunning target . . . What becomes of a forester who protects a notorious poacher? What becomes of a poacher when she is finally discovered? 

The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest is the first book in the A Medieval Fairy Tale Series by Melanie Dickerson. Odette is spunky, and she kind of reminds me of a female Robin Hood. She poaches deer from Thornbeck Forest and gives the meat to the poor. Jorgen is the forester. One of his jobs is to track down the poachers. Both characters have similar histories, though they think they are very different from one another. Neither thinks the other would ever be interested in them romantically. Their story is a cute one, but there is also some drama, and danger, and betrayal in the mix. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and love the way this author tells a story.

She and Jorgen danced the next song together, and the next and the next. Perhaps she should have excused herself and danced with someone else, but Mathis did not return. The longer she danced with Jorgen, the more she was able to enjoy it and forget that he was the forester.

In fact, they danced until the Minnesingers began to play closer to the bonfire, now lit and starting to roar at the other end. They agreed they did not wish to join the drunken merrymaking around the fire. Jorgen kept hold of her hand a bit longer than was necessary. His touch made her heart flutter.

She caught her breath. How could she be foolish about this man she had just met? Had she forgotten what he could do to her?  She must be a lack wit.

Uncle Rutger came toward them. “What a merry party you four make, dancing and laughing. Jorgen, you must come to our home for Odette’s birthday feast in two nights. You will be most welcome. Peter and Anna will be there as well.

Oh, dear heavenly saints. Uncle Rutger must not know Jorgen was the forester.

Jorgen consented to come, and after the details were conveyed of the time and location of their house, Jorgen turned to Odette. “Until then.”

Would he kiss her hand? But he only smiled, bowed, and walked away.

As Peter and Uncle Rutger escorted Anna and Odette home, Odette couldn’t help but wonder what the reaction of Peter, Anna, and the handsome young forester would be if they ever discovered that she was poaching the margrave’s deer    and giving the meat to the poor. The fact that Jorgen’s adoptive father, the old game-keeper, was shot and killed by a poacher a few years ago would make Jorgen hate her.

Her heart constricted painfully in her chest. There was only one thing to do: never get caught.

Check out my review of other books by this author!

Melanie Dickerson is a two-time Christy Award finalist, two-time Maggie Award winner, Carol Award winner, two-time winner of the Christian Retailing's Best award, and her book, The Healer's Apprentice, won the National Readers Choice Award for Best First Book. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA). Melanie earned a bachelors degree in special education of the hearing impaired from The University of Alabama and has worked as a teacher in Georgia, Tennessee, and Ukraine. She lives with her husband and two children in Huntsville, Alabama.

To learn more about Melanie Dickerson and her books, visit her website.You can also find her on Goodreads, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Playing Catch Up! Shadowland by Alyson Noel

Playing Catch Up has really been helping me through my ever growing TBR list. I'd like to welcome all other blogs to participate too! If you do, be sure to post your links in the comments section. I'd love to see your Playing Catch Up Reviews, and I'm sure others would too!! *wink*

Want to know more about Playing Catch Up? I'll tell you all about it here!

Shadowland (The Immortals #3) by Alyson Noel 
Genre: Young Adult (Paranormal Romance)
Date Published: November 17, 2009
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Ever and Damen have gone through countless lives and fought off the world’s darkest enemies so they could be together. But just when an everlasting future is finally within their reach, Damen is struck down by a curse—a dark spell separating him and Ever for eternity. Now sharing so much as a single touch could bring about Damen’s death…and send him plummeting into the Shadowland, an eternal abyss for lost souls. Desperate to break the curse and save Damen, Ever immerses her herself in magick. And in her quest, she gets help from an unexpected source...a surfer named Jude.

Although she and Jude have only just met, he feels startlingly familiar. Despite her fierce loyalty to Damen, Ever is drawn to Jude, a green-eyed golden boy with magical talents and a mysterious past. She’s always believed Damen to be her soulmate and one true love—and she still believes it to be true. But as Damen pulls away to save them from the darkness inhabiting his soul, Ever’s connection with Jude grows stronger—and tests her love for Damen like never before…

Shadowland is the third book in The Immortals series by Alyson Noel. I was a little disappointed with this book. It just fell flat somewhere along the way for me. I didn't feel the chemistry between Ever and Damon. So much so that I started to root for Jude a little, but I didn't feel much of the chemistry there either. Ever and Damon seemed to be making bad decision after bad decision. I guess I'm still mad at Ever's friends too, mostly Haven. To me, they just don't seem like great friends. I feel like there's this unspoken competition or jealousy of sorts between them. Maybe it's just me. Roman carried this story. His personality stood out heaps above the others this time around. Anyways, Shadowlands kept my attention, but there wasn't much forward movement in regards to the plot, so maybe this book was meant to solely be a Jude introduction. I'm not sure. I would like to learn more about him in upcoming books though. There's something intriguing about the characters. I love how they all have intertwining histories. I feel like this is all going somewhere..building towards something, I'm just not sure what that is yet.

"Everything is energy."

Damen's dark eyes focus on mine, urging me to listen, really listen this time. "Everything around us—" His arm sweeps before him, tracing a fading horizon that'll soon fade to black. "Everything in this seemingly solid universe of ours isn't solid at all—it's energy—pure vibrating energy. And while our perception may convince us that things are either solid or liquid or gaseous—on the quantum level it's all just particles within particles—it's all just energy."

I press my lips together and nod, his voice overpowered by the one in my head urging: Tell him! Tell him now! Quit stalling, and just get it over with! Hurry, before he starts talking again!

But I don't. I don't say a word. I just wait for him to continue so I can delay even further.

"Raise your hand." He nods, palm out, moving toward mine. Lifting my arm slowly, cautiously, determined to avoid any and all physical contact when he says, "Now tell me, what do you see?"

I squint, unsure what he's after, then shrugging I say, "Well, I see pale skin, long fingers, a freckle or two, nails in serious need of a manicure . . ."

"Exactly." He smiles, as though I just passed the world's easiest test. "But if you could see it as it really is, you wouldn't see that at all. Instead you'd see a swarm of molecules containing protons, neutrons, electrons, and quarks. And within those tiny quarks, down to the most miniscule point, you'd see nothing but pure vibrating energy moving at a speed slow enough that it appears solid and dense, and yet quickly enough that it can't be observed for what it truly is."

I narrow my eyes, not sure I believe it. Never mind the fact that he's been studying this stuff for hundreds of years.

"Seriously, Ever. Nothing is separate." He leans toward me, fully warmed up to his subject now. "Everything is one. Items that appear dense, like you, and I, and this sand that we're sitting on are really just a mass of energy vibrating slowly enough to seem solid, while things like ghosts and spirits vibrate so quickly they're nearly impossible for most humans to see."

"I see Riley," I say, eager to remind him of all the time I used to spend with my ghostly sister. "Or at least I used to, you know, before she crossed the bridge and moved on."

"And that's exactly why you can't see her anymore." He nods. "Her vibration is moving too fast. Though there are those who can see past all of that."

I gaze at the ocean before us, the swells rolling in, one after another. Endless, unceasing, immortal—like us.

"Now raise your hand again and bring it so close to mine we just nearly touch."

I hesitate, filling my palm with sand, unwilling to do it. Unlike him, I know the price, the dire consequences the slightest skin-on-skin contact can bring. Which is why I've been avoiding his touch since last Friday. But when I peer at him again, his palm face out, waiting for mine, I take a deep breath and lift my hand too—gasping when he draws so close the space that divides is razor thin.

"Feel that?" He smiles. "That tingle and heat? That's our energy connecting." He moves his hand back and forth, manipulating the push and pull of the energy force field between us.

"But if we're all connected like you say, then why doesn't it all feel the same?" I whisper, drawn by the undeniable magnetic stream that links us, causing the most wonderful warmth to course through my body.

"We are all connected, all of us made of the same vibrating source. But while some energy leaves you cold and some leaves you lukewarm, the one that you're destined for? It feels just like this."

I close my eyes and turn, allowing the tears to stream down my cheeks, no longer able to keep them in check. Knowing I'm barred from the feel of his skin, the touch of his lips, the solid warm comfort of his body on mine. This electric energy field that trembles between us is the closest I'll get, thanks to the horrible decision I made.

"Science is just now catching up with what metaphysicians and the great spiritual teachers have known for centuries. Everything is energy. Everything is one."

I can hear the smile in his voice as he draws closer, eager to entwine his fingers with mine. But I move away quickly, catching his eye just long enough to see the look of hurt that crosses his face—the same look he's been giving me since I made him drink the antidote that returned him to life. Wondering why I'm acting so quiet, so distant, so remote—refusing to touch him when just a few weeks before I couldn't get enough. Incorrectly assuming it's because of his hurtful behavior—his flirting with Stacia, his cruelty toward me—when the truth is, it has nothing to do with that. He was under Roman's spell, the entire school was. It wasn't his fault.

What he doesn't know is that while the antidote returned him to life, the moment I added my blood to the mix it also ensured we could never be together.



For all of eternity.

"Ever?" he whispers, voice deep and sincere. But I can't look at him. Can't touch him. And I certainly can't utter the words he deserves to hear:

I messed up—I'm so sorry—Roman tricked me, and I was desperate and dumb enough to fall for his ploy—And now there's no hope for us because if you kiss me, if we exchange our DNA—you'll die—

I can't do it. I'm the worst kind of coward. I'm pathetic and weak. And there's just no way I can find it within me.

"Ever, please, what is it?" he asks, alarmed by my tears. "You've been like this for days. Is it me? Is it something I've done? Because you know I don't remember much of what happened, and the memories that are starting to surface, well, you must know by now that wasn't the real me. I would never intentionally hurt you. I'd never harm you in any way."

I hug myself tightly, scrunching my shoulders and bowing my head. Wishing I could make myself smaller, so small he could no longer see me. Knowing his words are true, that he's incapable of hurting me, only I could do something so hurtful, so rash, so ridiculously impulsive. Only I could be stupid enough to fall for Roman's bait. So eager to prove myself as Damen's one true love—wanting to be the only one who could save him—and now look at the mess that I've made.

He moves toward me, sliding his arm around me, grasping my waist and pulling me near. But I can't risk the closeness, my tears are lethal now, and must be kept far from his skin.

I scramble to my feet and run toward the ocean, curling my toes at its edge and allowing the cold white froth to splash onto my shins. Wishing I could dive under its vastness and be carried by the tide. Anything to avoid saying the words—anything to avoid telling my one true love, my eternal partner, my soul mate for the last four hundred years, that while he may have given me eternity—I've brought us our end.

I remain like that, silent and still. Waiting for the sun to sink until I finally turn to face him. Taking in his dark shadowy outline, nearly indistinguishable from the night, and speaking past the sting in my throat when I mumble, "Damen . . . baby . . .there's something I need to tell you."

Also, check out my reviews of the other books in this series!

Alyson Noël is the #1 New York Times best-selling, award-winning, author of 23 novels including: The Immortals, The Riley Bloom, and The Soul Seekers series.

With 8 New York Times bestsellers in 2 years, and over 8 million copies in print, her books have been translated into 36 languages, sold in over 200 countries, and have made the New York Times, USA Today, LA Times, Publishers Weekly, Wall Street Journal, NCIBA, and Walmart Bestsellers lists, and have won numerous awards such as: the National Reader's Choice Award, NYLA Book of Winter Award, NYPL Stuff for the Teenage, TeenReads Best Books of 2007, Reviewer's Choice 2007 Top Ten, appeared on the CBS Early Show's "Give the Gift of Reading" segment, and selected for Seventeen Magazine's "Hot List" and Beach Book Club Pick.

Chosen as one of OC Metro magazine’s “20 Women to Watch,” she’s been nominated for the Orange County Business Journal’s “Women in Business Awards” as well as their “Excellence in Entrepreneurship” award. The dramatic rights for The Soul Seekers are optioned to Cheyenne Enterprises and Traziende films; the dramatic rights to Saving Zoë are optioned to actresses/producers Ellen Marano, Vanessa Marano (Switched at Birth), Laura Marano (Austin & Ally), with Jeffrey G. Hunt (Vampire Diaries, Gotham) directing; dramatic rights to The Immortals are optioned to Gil Adler (Valkyrie, Constantine) & Jason Rosenberg.

Her new YA series, Beautiful Idols, beginning with Unrivaled, had a global release in 17 languages and 200 countries on 05.10.16. Her new MG, Five Days of Famous, is set to debut 12.13.16.

Born and raised in Orange County, California, she’s lived in both Mykonos and Manhattan and is now settled back in Southern California.

To learn more about Alyson Noel and her books, visit her website & blog.You can also find her on GoodreadsFacebookPinterest, and Twitter.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Tour! A Review of Timeless by Crystal Collier & Guest Post by the Author!

Moonless (Maiden of Time #3) by Crystal Collier
Genre: Young Adult (Thriller/Fantasy/Paranormal Romance)
Date Published: November 1, 2016
Publisher: Raybourne Publishing

Time is the enemy.

In 1771, Alexia had everything: the man of her dreams, reconciliation with her father, even a child on the way. But she was never meant to stay. It broke her heart, but Alexia heeded destiny and traveled five hundred years back to stop the Soulless from becoming.

In the thirteenth century, the Holy Roman Church has ordered the Knights Templar to exterminate the Passionate, her bloodline. As Alexia fights this new threat—along with an unfathomable evil, and her own heart—the Soulless genesis nears. But none of her hard-won battles may matter if she dies in childbirth before completing her mission.

Can Alexia escape her own clock? 

Moonless is the third book in the Maiden of Time trilogy by Crystal Collier. It's so sad to see this series come to an end. I loved getting to know a younger, different Kiren. Seeing them fall in love all over again? It was intoxicating. This book had a little more of a thriller feel to it than I remember the last books having, which I loved. I think it needed that to truly let you in on the gravity of the situation that these characters are in. Like the others, there's so much going on. Where's the danger? Who can you trust? Are you really seeing what you think you saw? It was a non-stop page turner. These books have been such an adventure, and this last one? It kept me gripping the book right down to the last pages. It was bittersweet in many ways, but Whew! I'm still not sure what to think about that ending! And not in a bad way. Although I do have questions. It still has me thinking.

The ARC of Moonless by Crystal Collier was kindly provided to me by the author for review. The opinions are my own.

Leofrik straightened the chainmail net and backed away. He’d been observant and invisible, and now his efforts would pay out. Metal links spanned the spot she always appeared, suspended between a tree and the burned out house.
A chilly breeze washed over him. He grinned, poised to pounce. Success was about to be delivered.
Wind rattled the chainmail and a shriek rent the air. Nothing but mist one second, woman the next. She hit the metal links with the force of a horse-drawn carriage, and the mail caught around her, torn loose from the tree and building. It tangled over her. Leofrik rushed in as she ripped at the metal. He hugged it tightly about her, securing it like a blanket around her torso and knocking her to the ground.
She jerked, arms secured in the web. She kicked at him, but he crushed her legs beneath his own. Her teeth snapped at him. He leaned away, one arm pressed against her collarbone.
Silver eyes glared death at him through a mess of snowy-blonde hair with a hint of sunshine. Cautiously, he brushed the strands back from her face. Thin brows crushed down over upturned eyes. The pink of rose petals warmed her cheeks, and berry wine lips pursed, twitching in rage. She smelled of lilac and a hint of rain—such an intriguing mixture.
Lovely. Beyond lovely. She belonged in men’s dreams, not the light of day.
Her chest heaved beneath him, and he became aware of her form, a shape quite pleasingly proportioned from what he could feel.
Head out of the bedsheets. To your duty, man.
She twisted again, a futile attempt to break free. She slammed the back of her head into the ground with a growl. The sound startled him. Had it come from a wolf or lion it wouldn’t have surprised him, but from a young woman who fit the image of an angel?

Little Known Facts: Metal, What?!

Thank you Gabby for having me here today.

Reviewers have accused me of creating paranormal creatures that are entirely unique. My creations:
  • Can live forever if not killed
  • Possess unique gifts or talents (kill with a scream, heal with a touch)
  • Are ugly as children until they come of age on the moonless night closest to their 16th birthday
  • Can be bound (permanently attached) to their paramour
  • Are able to share thoughts/memories through touch
  • Can make themselves unnoticed to human eyes (hiding in plain sight) 
  • Often die in childbirth
  • Are repulsed, even burned by metal 

Now, in order to understand, let me explain that I have studied pretty much every
supernatural creature under the sun. The Passionate are based on a hundred myths and legends, originating from various cultures and time periods. Essentially, I wanted these creatures to encompass most of those stories, to feel so true to the human narrative throughout time that we might actually question if they do exist.

The basis of their species is what we would define as "faeries," with elements of other supernatural creatures.

The darker side comes out in the Soulless who were once Passionate, but have been tainted or possessed by an overwhelming force (a hunger). That hunger takes over on Moonless nights, when their bodies change from physical to ethereal. They become wraiths who feed upon the living, and especially hunger after the Passionate. They feel empty. They need to fill that emptiness. The sensation is amplified as their minds merge with all the other Soulless during the new moon--so that what one sees, all see. What one feels, all feel. These creatures are rotting corpses who cannot die. Some of them still possess a conscience and hate what they are, but are trapped. Some have given into the darkness at their core. And some are so far gone, they're just mindless destroyers.

People have tried to define the Soulless as a mix of zombies, vampires, wraiths, and even werewolves. (Based on the moon aspect.)

Here's the clincher:

Not all Passionate are good.

Not all Soulless are bad.

This is a reality-based myth where people still have free will, even if their natures push them toward certain things--and therein lies the struggle. Who will overcome? The body, or the spirit?

What is your favorite supernatural creature, and why? If you were to become a supernatural creature, which one would you be?
Check out my reviews of other books in this series!

Crystal Collier is an eclectic author who pens clean fantasy/sci-fi, historical, and romance stories with the occasional touch of humor, horror, or inspiration. She practices her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, four littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese.

To learn more about Crystal Collier and her books, visit her website & blog.You can also find her on PinterestGoodreadsFacebook, and Twitter.

(Email address is required for awarding prizes.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Release Week Review! Your Inescapable Love by Layla Hagen

Your Inescapable Love (The Bennett Family #4) by Layla Hagen
Genre: Adult (Contemporary Romance)
Date Published: November 10, 2016
Publisher: Self

A sizzling new friends-to-lover romance from a USA Today Bestselling Author. Each book in the Bennett family series is a full, standalone story. 

Max Bennett was nine years old the first time he met Emilia. The two formed a tight friendship that lasted for years until she moved away. Now, years later, Max enjoys a successful career, and his brilliant business sense helped him take his family’s company to the next level. Max loves his life: carefree and fun. He has everything he wants, and has no intentions of settling down anytime soon (even though his family might have other ideas). 

But when a chance encounter brings him face to face with Emilia, he starts questioning everything. The girl he last saw years ago has grown into a beautiful woman with sensual curves and a smile he can’t get out of his mind. Their chemistry is sizzling, and between old memories and new challenges, the two form a connection that is undeniable.

Emilia Campbell has a lot on her plate, taking care of her sick grandmother. Still, the twenty-eight year old physical therapist faces everything with a smile on her face and a positive attitude. The one area in her life where she’s not too optimistic is love. After practically being left at the altar, Emilia has sworn off men. Until the childhood friend she hero-worshiped and hasn’t quite forgotten, steps into her clinic. Max is every bit the troublemaker she remembers, only now he has a body to drool over, and a smile to melt her panties. Not that she intends to do the former, or let the latter happen. 

They are both determined not to cross the boundaries of friendship. But as they spend more time together, their chemistry spirals out of control. 

Can Emilia trust her childhood hero with the key to her heart and accept she might have found her one true love? 

Your Inescapable Love by Layla Hagen is the fourth book in The Bennett Family series. I love Max and Emilia's story. There's nothing better than a best friends to more romance. Max and Emilia are definitely that. They haven't seen each other in a very long time, but it's like no time has passed. They fall right back into their friendship. Except this time there's a little something else there too. They were cute. I liked getting to re-live their memories with them, as well as watch their present day life unfold. With each book, I want to become an adopted Bennett more and more. Why can't this family be real?

The ARC of Your Inescapable Love by Layla Hagen was kindly provided to me by Inkslinger PR for review. The opinions are my own.

With hurried footsteps, I walk toward them, inspecting Max from head to toe. The last time I saw him, he was thirteen years old, and a whole head taller than me. Now he towers over me. I’ve inherited Grams’s petite frame, sure, but Max must be at least six feet and he’s just… magnificent. Broad shoulders and strong arms. His dark brown hair is tousled and sticking out in every direction. His face is a mix of panty-dropping masculinity with a dash of that boyish charm I remember about him. Max Bennett is all man.
I stop less than a foot in front of him and Kurt. Max pins me with his gaze and his smile deepens. Oh God, I forgot about those dimples.
“As far as I understand, no introductions are needed, since Abby said you already know each other,” Kurt says. I open my mouth but find my throat too clogged with emotion to form words.
“We do,” Max says, and his voice doesn’t sound quite right. It’s deep and strong, with just a slight hint of nervousness. “She used to be my best friend.”
“Well, I’ll leave the two of you,” Kurt says. “Emilia will take good care of you.”
“Of course, I will,” I say, having found my voice again. Kurt nods at both of us before leaving.
The second the door closes, Max pulls me into a hug. I walk into his arms without hesitation, even though there are six other people in the training room. He hugs the same way I remember—wholeheartedly. But then again, there weren’t many things Max the boy did halfheartedly, and I can’t imagine Max the man to be any different.
“I can’t believe this,” he murmurs against my hair. “I always wondered about you. Where you were, what you were doing. I wanted to look for you, but I didn’t know where to start.” He rubs his hand up and down my back, sending sparks of warmth down my spine.
Pulling out of his arms, I say, “I, on the other hand, knew where you were all this time. I moved to San Francisco when I started college, but I didn’t know how to reach out.”
“Ah, it’s a good thing I was a blithering idiot then and had the accident,” he exclaims. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here. Gives a whole new meaning to everything happens for a reason, right?”
 I smile at him, surprised to learn that he kept his self-deprecating humor. Reading in magazines about his family’s success always did make me wonder if he’d changed or if he’d become more arrogant. So far, it seems not.
“How did you manage to get yourself into that mess?”
“If I make up a heroic reason, will you believe me?”
I burst out laughing. He cemented his status as my hero one lousy, rainy day after school. We were walking home when we heard howling. After sloshing around in the mud for a few minutes, we located the dogs. They were on the edge of the road, next to a ditch. I counted four pups and what looked like their dead mother. The pups desperately tried to get a reaction from her, pushing their little heads against her belly, and one of them licking her nose. I felt such an instant kinship with the pups who’d lost their mother that I couldn’t bear leaving them to fend for themselves. As Max and I bent to lift them, we noticed a fifth pup. He’d fallen into the ditch, which was very deep and narrow. Without hesitation, Max jumped inside it, pulling up the pup. It then took him nearly twenty minutes to get himself out. Grams and his mother, Jenna Bennett, nearly went into cardiac arrest when we returned home with five pups and covered in mud. I hero-worshiped him from that day on.
“I know you can be a hero, all right. But the skydiving accident is in your file.”
He groans, then tugs with his teeth at his lower lip, and I can’t help admiring his lush mouth. Had his lips always been this full? And why, in the name of all that is holy, am I having these thoughts? The training room suddenly feels too small, as does the distance between us.
“I never took you for the skydiving type,” I continue.
“I’m not. Just made a bet with Blake. I was flying with a trainer and still managed to crash land.”
At the mention of his younger brother, I can’t help grinning.
“Damn, I have so many questions for you, I don’t know how to get them out fast enough,” he says.
“Pretty much describing my current dilemma.” I hold up a finger. “But, we need to start with the session. Kurt warned me that I should keep the relationship professional during our sessions.”
Max cocks an eyebrow. “What did he think I’d do? Jump your bones the moment I saw you?”
Heat rushes to my cheeks at his words, and I lower my gaze, suddenly flustered. Thank heavens we’re far enough from the others that they can’t hear us.
“I see you still put your foot in your mouth every chance you get,” I inform him.
“I do, but that came out wrong. I didn’t mean there’s anything wrong with jumping your bones. In fact, you filled out beautifully. As your oldest friend, I’m allowed to say that without sounding like a pervert, or like I’m hitting on you. You are beautiful.” He utters those last few words in a lower tone and damn, it makes all my lady parts tingle.
“You haven’t aged too bad either, Bennett. You wear a suit well,” I volley back, though my skin is simmering. Teasing each other was one of the backbones of our friendship, but now it feels different. Max wears a gray suit, and he wears it as if he’s been born into it, which couldn’t be further from the truth. I saw him running around in jeans or shorts and simple shirts our entire childhood, but there is something about him in a suit that is absolutely irresistible. 

Check out my reviews of other books by this author!

My name is Layla Hagen and I am a New Adult Contemporary Romance author.

I fell in love with books when I was nine years old, and my love affair with stories continues even now, many years later.

I write romantic stories and can’t wait to share them with the world.

And I drink coffee. Lots of it, in case the photo didn’t make it obvious enough

To learn more about Layla Hagen and her books, visit her website.You can also find her on GoodreadsFacebook, and Twitter.

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