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Friday, July 27, 2018

Book Review! Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama
Genre: Young Adult (Dark Fantasy)
Date Published: September 4, 2012
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Fierce, seductive mermaid Syrenka falls in love with Ezra, a young naturalist. When she abandons her life underwater for a chance at happiness on land, she is unaware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences.

Almost one hundred forty years later, seventeen-year-old Hester meets a mysterious stranger named Ezra and feels overwhelmingly, inexplicably drawn to him. For generations, love has resulted in death for the women in her family. Is it an undiagnosed genetic defect . . . or a curse? With Ezra’s help, Hester investigates her family’s strange, sad history. The answers she seeks are waiting in the graveyard, the crypt, and at the bottom of the ocean—but powerful forces will do anything to keep her from uncovering her connection to Syrenka and to the tragedy of so long ago.

Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama was definitely unique in a lot of ways. I haven't read a lot of mermaid books, but this one sets itself apart. It's told through two point of views, Hester in the present and Syrenka in the past. Sometimes the fluctuating viewpoints would cause the story to slow down a bit, but I think each point of view helped build towards the big picture of what was going on. With that being said, each viewpoint was interesting, and there is much to keep your attention. The characters and their world are very well built. This is a darker story with some romance, violence, curses, mythology, not to mention the mermaids, and it's all woven together quite beautifully.


Syrenka wanted Pukanokick.

She watched him but never spoke to him. She never dared to approach or reveal herself. A year of stealth had taught her his language, his habits, his dreams, his ways. The more she knew, the more she loved. The more she loved, the more she ached.

The sachem’s eldest son did not go unnoticed by the women of his tribe. A quiet keegsqua watched him, too. Syrenka noticed the way she smiled at him, the way she brought her work to the shore while Pukanokick burned and scraped his first dugout canoe. And why shouldn’t the keegsqua want him? His glossy black hair glinted blue in the morning sun, his skin beaded with sweat, his eyes shone as he worked with single-minded passion on the boat. Syrenka read the keegsqua’s shy silence for the desperate proclamation that it really was: the girl wanted Pukanokick, too; she wanted a smile that was meant only for her; she wanted to know his deepest thoughts; she wanted to see him lift beautiful sons onto his shoulders and hug their warm, bare feet to his chest; she wanted to grow old with him. She wanted him to save her from emptiness.

Syrenka’s smoldering ache ignited into a fire. She spent all of her time near the shore now, and ignored her sister’s beseeching to join her below, where it was safe, where she was supposed to be. Where she could not tolerate being.

On the day Pukanokick finished the boat, his younger brother and his mother’s brother helped him drag the charred dugout to the edge of the water. They watched as he paddled it out, and they leaped and shouted with pride to see how true it glided and how stable it was, even in the heavy chop of that day, even when he stood and deliberately tried to tip it. One corner of the keegsqua’s plump lips lifted silently with joy, while she pretended to bore holes into stone sinkers. Syrenka studied them all from behind an algae-green rock.

But early the next day, the keegsqua was gone. Pukanokick’s brother and his mother’s brother were gone. Pukanokick was alone when Syrenka became entangled in his fishing net. Swimming a short distance from the dugout, she was distracted by the rhythm of his body as he plunged the paddle in the dark water, lifting his weight off his knees, stroking a heartbeat into the quiet morning. She forgot that he had set a net the evening before—it was cleverly anchored with rocks and suspended with cattail bundles—until the fiber mesh collapsed around her and her own surprised thrashing caught her fin fast.

Working quickly, she was almost free by the time he had turned his boat and eased it over the net. She was curled upon herself, tugging at her dark tail with her thick white hair in a bloom around her, when she felt the cool shadow of the dugout move across her skin. She looked up and her eyes caught his—they were brown-black, the color of a chestnut tumbling in the surf. Her own eyes would alarm him, she knew. She saw him take in a breath. He did not reach for his club, although he could have. He did not reach for his bow. He watched.

She attended to the net and her tail. She lifted her arm and slashed at the remaining strands with the fin on her wrist, cutting herself loose. She looked back up and slowly rose from the deep, shoulder hunched and face to the side.

Her cheek broke the surface first. He didn’t recoil. She smiled, careful not to show her teeth.

“Kwe,” she said, in his own Wampanoag.

“Kwe,” he whispered.

She tried to keep her voice smooth and quiet, unthreatening. “I am sorry. I broke your net.”

He shook his head almost imperceptibly from side to side. He wasn’t angry. She saw him swallow.

“This is the finest mishoon I have ever seen,” she said, sliding her fingertips along the hull of the boat as she swam its length.

“Thank you,” he said. And then he seemed to remember something. Perhaps that he had a club, and a bow, and that he was the sachem’s eldest son.

“Who are you?” he demanded.

“I am Syrenka. You are Pukanokick.”

“How do you know my name?”

She had never been this close to him. The muscles in his forearm extended as he unclenched his fist. She followed his arm to his shoulder, to his angular jaw, to his broad nose and then his unwavering eyes.

“I have seen you. Fishing. I hear others call you. I follow you. I listen.”

“Why do you follow me?”

She stroked the edge of the boat. “You are not ready for the answer.”

He stood up, balancing easily in his dugout. “I am.”

She whipped her tail below her, rising out of the water like a dolphin—but carefully and steadily so as not to splash him—until she was eye to eye with him. She reached out with her hand and stroked his cheek. He did not flinch. He allowed her touch.

“Noo’kas says I must give you time. You must grow accustomed to me. You are yet too young,” she recited.

“I am a man.” But his breath caught as she traced the line of his jaw. He lifted his chin. “Who is this Noo’kas to question that?”

“Noo’kas is the mother of the sea. I must obey.”

Pukanokick’s eyes widened. “Squauanit. You mean Squauanit thinks I’m not yet a man?—the sea hag who brought the storm that killed my mother’s father?”

“Shhhh,” she said, putting her fingers on his lips. Her nails were long and sharp, but she was gentle.

She sank down into the water again and swam away.

“Come back!” She barely heard the muffled shout. She stopped, astonished. She felt her skin tingle with hope.

She turned and swam underneath the dugout. Back and forth, with his shadow above her as he knelt in the boat. She needed time to consider. To be calm. To choose wisely.

He waited. She gathered strength from his patience.

She rose to the surface.

“You are right. Noo’kas is a hag. She has become ugly as the seasons circle endlessly. She will live forever, but she will never be beautiful again. She missed her time. What does she know? I will decide myself.”

Pukanokick rested his forearms on the edge of the dugout and leaned his head over the side so that his black hair nearly grazed the water. He asked her his question again, but softly this time.

“Why do you follow me?”

She brought her face close. “I follow you because I love you.”

She brushed her lips against his. Warm breath escaped his mouth. He put his arms around her and kissed her. His lips were nearly hot on her skin, but firm and gentle. She felt a hunger for his touch that she could no longer hold back.

The dugout did not tip, but Pukanokick lost his balance. He fell into the bay, clutched in Syrenka’s embrace. She released him instantly. But of course he knew how to swim—she had seen it many times—and he came up laughing. She joined him. He kissed her again, and they sank under the water together. She saw him detach his buckskin leggings from the belt at his hips. He swam up for a breath.

Syrenka surfaced and saw the sunrise, spilling pinks and purples and blues into the sky, as if for the first time.

Pukanokick touched her cheek. “I want to be bare-skinned in the water, as you are.”

She sank under again and tried to undo the belt of his breechclout, but it was foreign to her. His hands pushed hers away and fumbled with it while she pulled down on his leggings to remove them. She brought him deeper and deeper as she tugged.

Lost in concentration, she misunderstood his struggles. She thought he was wriggling to pull out of the leggings. She did not see the bubbles that escaped his mouth in clouds. She did not remember the passage of human time. She forgot her strength.

Finally, triumphantly, she peeled the first pant from his right leg. When she looked up, she realized with an agonizing start that his head swayed against his chest slowly in the swells, and his body floated lifeless.

She screamed underwater, a high-pitched wail with a rapid burst of clicks that caused the sea life around her to scatter. It was as Noo’kas had foreseen. She had dared to love, and she had lost everything.

Check out my review of another book by this author!

Elizabeth Fama is the author of three young-adult novels: Plus One (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014), a RITA Award finalist; Monstrous Beauty (FSG, 2012), included on the 2013 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults list, and winner of the 2013 Odyssey Honor Award; and Overboard (Cricket Books, 2002), an ALA 2003 Best Book for Young Adults.

Elizabeth is vastly overeducated, with a BA in Biology, an MBA, and a PhD in Economics from the University of Chicago. She enjoys running obsessively while downloading audiobooks into her brain, swimming, tennis, and cooking Sunday Dinners for her extended Italian-American family. She and her husband raised four creative children in Chicago before moving to the San Francisco Bay Area, where Elizabeth successfully pretends that she's living in Tuscany while she works on a manuscript set in sixteenth-century Florence.

To learn more about Elizabeth Fama and her books, visit her website.You can also find her on Goodreads and Twitter.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Book Review! Clandestine by Hannah Rials

Clandestine (Ascension #2) by Hannah Rials 
Genre: Young Adult (Paranormal Romance)
Date Published: July 16, 2018
Publisher: Aletha Press

Cheyenne Lane never believed it could come to this—imprisoned by her own family, who are plotting to overthrow the Vampire Council. Ripped away from the happiness of her summer romance and friendship in New Orleans, Cheyenne is forced to begin her education at Clandestine, the secret Deuxsang University, one year early.
    She is guarded constantly, separated from her best friend Anne, and desperate for any word from Eli and the witches. Meanwhile, her cousin Lilith has discovered that Cheyenne possesses all four vampiric abilities—unheard of for a Deuxsang—and intends to use her in the Ascending’s rebellious scheme.

     At 17, Cheyenne finds herself the center of a centuries-old conspiracy involving the vampires, Deuxsang, and witches, and everyone is telling her who she should trust and what she should do. Her head is too full of voices and opinions, and it’s time for Cheyenne to make up her own mind.

     Is she ready to step into the role she was made for? Who can she trust? Who is her friend and who is her enemy? Is she really a born leader? All questions that only she can answer. As the information and scenario gets more confusing, she knows she must listen to her intuition if she is going to shift the truth from all the lies.

Clandestine is the second book in the Ascension series by Hannah Rials, and it takes off right where the first one ended. I really wish I'd had the time to read the first one again before jumping into this one, because it's been over a year since I read that one, and I feel like I forgot some of the details. I needed a refresher. If you can, I highly recommend reading these books one after the other. As for the book itself, I love this whole world the author has created. It can be dark and deadly, but there are moments of lightheartedness too. The characters are well built, and I'm still absolutely loving Charlotte. She just seems so real and believable. This is not a typical vampire(and witch) story. There is so much more to it, and once again, it pulled me in completely.

The ARC of Clandestine by Hannah Rials was kindly provided to me by YA Bound Book Tours for review. The opinions are my own.

Prisoners. Me. Anne. We’re actually prisoners. Held captive by our own families. For our own good? My brain’s still having a hard time processing all this insanity, and we’ve been trapped in here for a week now. No word from Eli or Mason, or even my parents, who apparently support this. I keep asking myself how they can let this happen, how no one is speaking up against this, and I can’t come up with a good answer. This is all ridiculous, even for my parents, who I can’t begin to understand. To let their psychotic niece imprison their youngest daughter in order to “fix her” based off some insane plan to overthrow the vampires?

Everyone’s completely lost their minds.

Are they so desperate for me to be normal that it’s come to this? I glance at Anne sitting at her desk.

She hasn’t really spoken much since we have expended all of our escape possibilities. We’ve failed so many times, but not for lack of trying. Thomas is just too paranoid and thinks too far ahead. Deuxsang are highly discouraged from practicing our abilities on our own kind, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I tried compelling our guards—and I somehow succeeded without any training whatsoever— but we didn’t even make it to the stairs before Thomas stopped us.

Anne tried dreamwalking, searching for Mason or Eli or anyone, but we learned that it’s a lot more complicated than it sounds. You just think of someone, see their dream, and slip right in, right? Wrong.

Anne got shoved out of so many dreams, and she couldn’t even find Mason. She ended up with a migraine that made her throw up all over the place for a couple days. I really didn’t want to try inflicting, but seeing Anne so sick, paired with my own desperation, made me get over it.

Plus, it was kind of fun to see the guards weak.

That was the closest we came to being free. I had all of our guards crying out on their knees, wishing for release. I made myself sick to my stomach. I had my hand on the front door, when all of a sudden, we were both knocked to the ground. My eyes went black when my head cracked against the cold tile of the Lacroix’s foyer. We didn’t even see who hauled us back upstairs and locked us in our impassable tower. Ever since then, Anne hasn’t said much to me.

It’s been three days, and I’m going mad. I’m normally the one telling her to shut up, but now I can barely get a syllable out of her. It’s like she’s broken. And I get it, I guess. This is all falls back on me. My cousin is the one with the insane, suicidal plan; my family is the one keeping us here. I’m the one they need to “fix.” My boyfriend…ex-boyfriend…is the one who got himself kidnapped. If it weren’t for being friends with me, she’d be cuddled up in some jazz club, listening to Monde Musique and staring all moon-eyed at Mason. Life would be normal.

Well, as normal as a rule-breaking Deuxsang can get.

And now she knows the truth about her brother— that he was different, like me, and the Council took him for it. Now he’s probably dead. Her parents let it happen, but what’s worse, they lied to her about it. How could they do that to her? How could anyone do that? I saw a piece of her break when her mom finally told her the truth. She can’t look at either of her parents now. Again, that’s my fault.

Have you read the first book? Check out my review!

As Maryville native and current college student at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Hannah Rials began writing her first novel at age twelve. Eight years later, the result is her newly published YA novel Ascension; a modern day teenage romance filled with "double-blooded" vampires and revenge-seeking witches.

Published by Aletha Press of Maryville, TN, Ascension is Rial’s first novel. When not attending college and spending time with her family, Rials keeps busy by playing with her beloved Corgis, Buddy and Noel, leading a creative writing group at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and cultivating her writing skills.
“I feel like I am living proof that dreams do come true.”- Hannah Rials

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

Monday, July 23, 2018

Book Review! Capture Me by Amber Thielman

Capture Me by Amber Thielman
Genre: Adult Fiction(Contemporary Romance)
Date Published: July 1, 2018
Publisher: Self

Engaged, abducted, and falling for a man accused of murder. 

From the outside, Kass has it all. She’s on the fast track to medical school and newly engaged to the perfect guy, at least when he's sober. Beaten down by his abuse, Kass turns to cutting, her success hanging on a razor's edge. 

She impulsively offers a handsome hitchhiker a ride to the next town. Logan seems kind, charming and sexy as hell until he pulls a weapon, forcing her to drive him across the country. 

Logan has no intention of hurting anyone. Falsely accused of his sister's murder, he's on the run and in a race to find the true culprit. 

As law enforcement closes in, Kass and Logan forge a deep connection, and Kass must choose between a past she's not even sure she wants anymore or a future that may not outlast the hour.

Capture Me by Amber Thielman was a fast read that took me on an adventure and surprised me along the way. I was afraid it would be too much of a Stokholm Syndrome kind of thing, but I didn't feel that way at all. There was a bit of an attraction before the kidnapping, and then the whole situation kind of roller-coasted from there. These characters had depth, and you really get to know them as they get to know each other. They both have pretty tragic histories, and I think they needed each other.. and the dog. I was thoroughly pulled in by Capture Me, and I'd like to check out some of this author's other books.

The ARC of Capture Me by Amber Thielman was kindly provided to me by the author for review. The opinions are my own.

The bathroom door squeaked open, and she came out still holding a wet towel to her hair. Her complexion, now makeup-free, allowed the freckles on her nose cheeks to shine through. Although the mascara under her eyes had washed away, they were still dark with fatigue. Behind that, many years of emotional and physical turmoil.

“Where are we headed tomorrow?” she asked, sitting down on the edge of the second bed as she dried her damp brown hair. She smelled merely of shampoo and soap, but the way her wet hair fell in tendrils down her back, Logan had some strange urge to reach out and touch her freshly-washed skin, to run his thumb over her lips, touch her hair. Kiss her.

“You ask too many questions,” he said instead. He forced his gaze away, back to the darkness of the TV in front of him. On the other bed, Kass flopped onto her back, folding her hands over her stomach as she stared at the ceiling in silence.
“I’d ask less if you answered more,” she said.
“I told you, now is not the time.”

“Are you dangerous, Logan?” Kass sat up on the bed and looked at him. Her head tilted slightly to the side as she stared him down. Logan stared back, trying to keep his gaze from skimming over the soft curve of her neck. She was chewing her lip again, and the desperate desire he had to take her in his arms and ravish her was overwhelming. He blew a breath out to compose himself and looked away.
“Do you think I’m dangerous?”

Kass scoffed, but some hint of a tiny, annoyed smile appeared. It was gone before he could confirm that it was there. “I think you’re an idiot,” she said, and shrugged. “And I believe that you're trying to be scarier than you are. I believe you want me to be afraid of you because you’re scared of what will happen if you’re caught.”

“What makes you think that? What makes you think I’m more than just some jailbreak, homicidal maniac trying to escape from the police?”

“I don’t know.” Kass studied his face. Not for the first time, Logan felt oddly vulnerable under her steady gaze. “I guess I’m pretty familiar with bad people, Logan, and you just don’t seem like the bad guy you want to convince me that you are. Not to mention yourself.”

“I kidnapped you at gun point,” Logan reminded her. “I’m no good person, Kass.”
“Well, you haven’t raped me or tried to strangle me.” She paused, and this time it was her who couldn’t hold the gaze between them. After a moment of silence, she leaned forward, propping her elbows up on her thighs. The fresh scent of soap lingered on her skin, intoxicating.

“Tell me, Logan, who are you really?”
“I’m just a guy,” Logan said. “I’m a guy who has something that needs done, and you got involved without meaning to.”

Amber Thielman is an avid reader and writer of sexy romance books, always shaken up with a little darkness and suspense. She wrote her first 20-page novel when she was 13, and she’s been hooked ever since. Amber loves scary movies, autumn, and has an undying love for pumpkin-flavored anything. When she’s not writing, she enjoys riding her horse Reno, traveling, and spending time with her husband, their son Aidyn, their dogs (Willow & Max), and cat Simba in Southeast Idaho.

To learn more about Amber Thielman and her books, visit her website.You can also find her on Goodreads, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Release Day Review! Sweet Love at Bayside by Addison Cole

Sweet Love at Bayside (Sweet with Heat: Bayside Summers #1) by Addison Cole
Genre: Adult Fiction (Contemporary Romance)
Date Published: July 18, 2018
Publisher: World Literary Press

Fall in love at Bayside, where sandy beaches, good friends, and true love come together in the sweet small towns of Cape Cod. Bayside Summers is a series of standalone romance novels featuring fiercely loyal heroes and sassy, empowered women. They're fun, flirty, flawed, and easy to relate to.

In Sweet Love at Bayside…
As the co-owner of Bayside Resorts, Rick Savage has a fabulous job working with his best friends and brother, and a thriving business in Washington, DC, which he'll be returning to at the end of the summer. Spending time with his family is great, but being back on Cape Cod has unearthed painful memories. When sweet, smart, and overly cautious Desiree Cleary moves in next door, Rick is drawn to the sexy preschool teacher, and she just might prove to be the perfect distraction.

Running an art gallery was not in preschool teacher Desiree Cleary's plans, but after being tricked into coming to her impetuous, unreliable mother's aid, she's stuck spending the summer with the rebellious half sister she barely knows and a misbehaving dog. If that's not frustrating enough, she can't escape the sparks igniting with her strikingly handsome and pushy neighbor, Rick, who makes all her warning bells go off.

Passion ignites as Desiree and Rick spend long summer nights sharing heartfelt confessions and steamy kisses. For the first time in years Rick is enjoying life again instead of hiding behind mounds of work miles away from his family. Desiree has touched him in a way that makes him want to slow down. Only slowing down means dealing with his demons, and he isn't sure who he'll be when he comes out the other side.

Sweet with Heat books are the sweet editions of the Love in Bloom steamy romance novels by New York Times bestselling author Melissa Foster. Sweet with Heat books convey all of the passion you expect between two people in love, without any explicit scenes or harsh language. 

Sweet Love at Bayside is the first book in the Sweet with Heat: Bayside Summers series by Addison Cole. I'm so glad this author is writing more Sweet with Heat books. Some of the characters cross over, but you don't have to read these books in order. They all stand alone just fine. I simply can't get enough of them. In this story, we get to meet Desiree and Rick. Desiree is kind of the epitome of sweet with heat. She's a fairly innocent gal, but she has some naughtiness to her. Both Rick and Desiree are just in for the Summer, so they both go into the relationship thinking it'll be temporary.. sorta. Their attraction is pretty strong, so it doesn't take long for things to build. I loved watching Desiree's relationship with her sister grow. This wasn't just romance and mush. The author always gives us more than that. This was also about family and coming together as a family.  Like the Seaside Summers books, I'm really liking all the supporting characters already. I'm looking forward to their stories in the upcoming books! 

The ARC of  Whispers at Seaside by Addison Cole was kindly provided to me by the author for review. The opinions are my own.

Chapter One

DESIREE CLEARY STOOD at the end of a jetty at Indian Neck Beach, watching three brawny guys race around Cape Cod Bay on Jet Skis while she FaceTimed with her best friend, Emery Andrews. She had known Emery since first grade, and she was the only person who would understand why, after driving for more than twelve hours, Desiree was standing on that jetty, pretending to be on vacation, instead of facing the woman who had summoned her to Wellfleet.

“I should have come with you,” Emery insisted. “You’re at the beach, and I’m stuck here teaching yoga and Pilates to people who go home and eat entire pizzas afterward. Not that I’m only thinking of me. I’m just saying. I could be your backbone when you see your mother. You know, make sure you don’t wimp out on telling her how cruel it was to go months without any contact and then send you that email.”

Emery had a right to be upset. She’d been there for Desiree for more than twenty years, picking up the pieces of Desiree’s broken heart after short, awkward, visits with her mother. Lizza Vancroft had been breezing in and out of her life since Desiree was five years old. Desiree was used to hearing from her mother only once or twice a year, but her most recent email had taken the cake. She’d read the cryptic message dozens of times, as concerned as she was annoyed. I need you to come to Wellfleet and run my art gallery for the summer. It might prolong my life. She hadn’t even known Lizza was ill, much less owned a gallery and had been living in the States.

“I’ll be fine,” she said, though she wasn’t sure she believed it. After Desiree’s parents had divorced, Lizza had taken off to teach overseas with Desiree’s half sister, Violet, leaving Desiree to live with her father. Some small part of her was still waiting for her mother to make amends for leaving her behind. “I just need a few minutes to get my head on straight before facing her.”

One of the Jet Skis headed directly for another, swerving at the last second to avoid a collision. “Holy cow. Someone is going to get killed. Look at these guys.” She held up her phone to show Emery the crazy Jet Skiers. “Who does that? It’s so dangerous.”

“Hot Jet Skiing guys who thrive on danger. My kind of guys, and your perfect distraction.” Emery waggled her brows.

“I don’t need a distraction. Lizza is almost a stranger to me. It’s like I’m waiting to get bad news from someone I met a few times but don’t really know.”

“I know. Your mother is as flighty as a fairy, and I’m sure right now you wish you were wired like her and Violet instead of being responsible and organized to the nth degree, like your father,” Emery said. Spot-on, as always. “Then you could be the one who was living overseas working with one nonprofit or another without Internet or a care in the world, like Violet, instead of procrastinating the unleashing of a nest of demons you’ve spent years tamping down.”

“You’re so dramatic.” Desiree smiled, thankful for Emery’s teasing.

She had no idea whether Violet would be there when she arrived. Though she and Violet had grown up on opposite sides of the world, they had spent a few weeks together at the Cape each summer with their grandmother. At least they had until they were teens and one or the other had found better things to do, most years whittling those weeks down to just a few days. They’d kept in touch only sporadically during college, and before their grandmother’s funeral last winter, it had been more than three years since Desiree had seen Violet or their mother. But that didn’t mean Desiree hadn’t always wished for a relationship with her sister, despite how different they were.

“That’s why you love me.” Emery flashed a cheesy smile. “Seriously, though. You need to just go see Lizza and get it over with. And you should probably be glad I’m not there. Because as far as I’m concerned, her email was infuriating, unfair, and heartrending.” Emery’s eyes narrowed. “I’d like to give her a piece of my mind.”

“So would I,” Desiree admitted. “But I won’t.” A breeze swept off the bay, lifting the ends of her dress. She pushed it back down, catching a glimpse of one of the Jet Skiers slowing to watch her. As if she wasn’t nervous enough today?

“I know. You’ve got the biggest heart on the planet. We need a plan. You do best with plans.” Emery tucked her brown hair behind her ear and leaned closer to the screen, like she was sharing a secret. “Tonight, after you get your heart torn to shreds, since I’m not there to help heal your mama-wounds, please get yourself a nice bottle of wine and a big man. I promise that will help ease whatever pain she throws your way.”

“Don’t you mean a big bottle of wine and a nice man?” Desiree asked, as the Jet Skier who was watching her broke away from the others and sped past.

“Definitely not. You don’t need a nice man. I know you think you want romance and all the mushy stuff like flowers, candy, and midnight walks.” Emery flashed her don’t-even-try-to-tell-me-otherwise scowl. “But trust me. You need a man who takes control, whose kisses turn you inside out and make you forget about your crazy mother.”

She wrapped her arms around her middle, listening to the roar of the lone Jet Ski cutting tracks in front of her and wondering about kisses that turned a woman inside out. She had yet to experience anything like that, but Emery talked about them like she’d had enough to share. Maybe it was time to expand her horizons.

“Hello?” Emery said. “Think you can look at me and stop watching the hot Jet Skiers for two minutes?”

Desiree laughed. “Like you’d ever look at me instead of a guy? Besides, I’m only watching one, because he’s watching me. The other two are long gone.” She held up her phone again, showing her the hot guy with dark hair keeping time with her as she paced the jetty.

“You’re so lucky. Go take hot Jet Ski guy for a ride and show up late to see Lizza.” Emery waggled her brows. “For all you know, she’s not even at your grandmother’s house waiting for you.”

That was true. Lizza and Violet still hadn’t replied to her messages. But that didn’t change the fact that Desiree wasn’t a jump-in-the sack-with-a-stranger kind of girl. “That’s just what I need. A reckless adrenaline junkie before seeing Lizza. No thanks.”

Emery turned away from the phone. “I have to go. My date is here.”

“You have a date? With who?”

“One of the reckless, adrenaline-junky Jericho brothers. I’ll let you try to figure out which one.” She blew Desiree a kiss. “Listen, babe. Take my advice. Go for the Jet Ski guy; then you’ll be nice and relaxed when you see Lizza. Call if you need me. Love you!”

Desiree ended the call, and the guy trailing her on the Jet Ski zoomed past. He made a sharp turn and headed back, eyes locked on her, making her heart race. Maybe letting loose for a night was just what she needed. One night of uninhibited anything would be a first. The Jet Ski turned again, taking another, faster pass, the hot guy’s eyes still trained on her. Butterflies took flight in her stomach. He was obviously interested. Maybe…

He turned again and headed straight toward the jetty.

Straight for her.

Uh oh. How long had she been staring at him? What was I thinking?

She tried to act casual, looking at the boats, the sky, anywhere but at the man on the machine as she made her way along the rocks toward the beach. He fishtailed, spraying water in her direction. She shrieked and turned away as water rained down on her.

No, a reckless man was definitely not what she needed.


OH MAN! RICK Savage beached his craft, threw his life vest onto the sand, and ran after the woman he’d soaked. He’d been so captivated by the curvaceous blonde that when she’d started to leave, his first instinct had been to stop her. He’d clearly lost his mind. He knew better than to come that close to the jetty or to fishtail near people.

“I’m so sorry,” he said, jogging over as she stepped off the rocks and onto the beach.

She turned, mouth gaping, strands of wet hair stuck to her cheeks, forehead, and shoulders. The most beautiful green eyes stared back at him in shock and horror. He felt like a total jerk.

“I’m sorry. I saw you watching me, and—” There was absolutely no excuse for what he’d done, so he went with the truth, no matter how bad it sounded. “I wanted to meet you before you took off.”

“I wasn’t watching you.” Her eyes darted around them, as if someone else might hear her lying.

He cocked a brow.

“Okay, maybe I was for a second. But you were stalking me.” She swiped at her sundress, which clung to her incredibly sexy body like a second skin.

He tried not to leer, but oh, man…

Forcing his eyes up, he said, “I wasn’t stalking you—”

Her deadpan stare stopped him from telling his own lie.

“Okay, fine,” he said with a laugh. “I was. You caught me. I’m sorry.”

“Does this usually work for you? Drenching unsuspecting women?” she said with a hint of annoyance, and a smile, as she shook the water from her arms. “Not that I’m an expert on being hit on, but it doesn’t seem like the best way to go about it.”

“I’m sure you get hit on all the time, but this wasn’t planned. It was a stupid mistake. It’s actually illegal to go that fast near the jetty, so you can have me arrested if you’d like. I wasn’t thinking. I was—”

She arched a brow, a slight smirk playing across her beautiful face as she tossed his mannerism right back at him.

He felt himself smiling. Man, this woman was as sweet as she was spunky. “What can I say? If you weren’t so hot…”

“So, it’s my fault?” She rolled her eyes. “You really do kind of suck at picking up women.”

The caveman in him grunted, and he squared his shoulders. “I don’t suck at it. I’m actually really good at it. A pro. A master. A champion.”

She laughed. “Sorry, but…” She waved at her wet clothes. “Evidence proves otherwise.”

And I’m about to prove that evidence wrong. “Let me buy you a sweatshirt and something warm to drink at Mac’s so you don’t freeze.” Mac’s was a walk-up restaurant by the Wellfleet Pier, a five-minute drive by car. Less by Jet Ski.

Her eyes rolled over his face, as if she were considering it. He’d never had anything close to a poker face, which meant she saw his remorse and his attraction. At six two, two thirty, he was a big dude, and he kept in prime shape with running and water sports. He was used to women ogling him and practically doing cartwheels to get his attention. She drew in a deep breath, her eyes dropping to his bare chest, and she bit her plump lower lip. “Sexy” didn’t begin to describe the dichotomy of sweet and sultry this woman possessed. But she wasn’t doing cartwheels. In fact, those hungry eyes shifted away from him.

“It’s okay,” she said. “I was getting ready to leave anyway.”

She was blowing him off? There was no way he was letting her leave without doing something to make up for this debacle. Okay, maybe he also wanted to strip away those wet clothes and warm her up. But that was beside the point.

“Are you staying at a cottage on the beach? I can give you a ride on my Jet Ski.”

“As tempting as that sounds, since I’ve never been on one, I have my car.” She pointed to the parking lot with the hand that held her phone, and her smile faded. “Oh, shoot. My phone got wet.”

“I can take care of that.” He took it from her and dried it on his shorts. She watched his hands, his biceps, his pecs, his shorts, with laser focus. His fish wasn’t off the line yet. “It should be okay now. Want me to put my number in your contacts? In case you change your mind about that drink?”

That brought a curious smile. He noticed the cutest dimple beside her mouth when she smiled. “Does that usually work?”

“No idea. I haven’t had to use that line before.”

He stepped closer, unable to resist brushing a lock of hair that was stuck to her cheek away from her face so he could see her better. Their eyes connected, and the temperature spiked. She must have felt it, too, because she was licking her lips like a hungry tigress. In the next breath, her eyes darted nervously around the beach, making her appear sweet and innocent. How did she do that in the blink of an eye? Rick was only at the Cape for a few more weeks, working on renovations at the resort before returning to his real life, and design-build business, in Washington, DC. The thoughts running through his mind were not sweet and innocent. He should let his apology ride, get on his Jet Ski, and drive away. But she had his rapt attention, and he was unable to walk away.

“You don’t have to use my number,” he said. “But you never know. Maybe when you’re lying in bed tonight, unable to stop thinking about me, you’ll wish you had it.”

Her cheeks flushed, and those sparkling green eyes moved over his face and down his chest again, lingering long enough to send a stroke of heat to his core.

“Why not?” she said, surprising him. “Go ahead and put your number in my phone…?”

“Rick.” He entered his contact information and handed it back, curling his fingers over hers and holding them for a beat.

Her eyes flicked up, dark and alluring. “I’m Desiree,” she said a little breathlessly.

Oh yeah, you feel it, too.

“Desiree.” Her name rolled off his tongue as if he’d said it a hundred times. “You sure I can’t convince you to have a drink with me? We can go back to my place and build a bonfire.”

“A bonfire…” She crossed her arms, rubbing at goose bumps, and her expression turned skeptical. “Just out of curiosity, why didn’t you ask me for my number?”

The truth was, he had no idea. He just sensed he shouldn’t be too aggressive with her, but he couldn’t tell her that, so he went with, “I’ve got a sister. She got married last summer, but when she was single, I wouldn’t want her giving her number to a guy she met like this.”

Her lips curved up. “Um…?”

Great, now he sounded like a cretin and had to come clean. “Not buying it, huh?” He laughed. “The truth is, I was just trying to give you the choice instead of being one of those jerks who come on too strong. My brother and a buddy and I own Bayside Resort, here in Wellfleet. I’m pretty easy to track down. A safe bet. A good choice. The best choice.” Her gaze warmed, and he tried again. “Bonfire?”

She inhaled a shaky breath. “I better not. It’s been a crazy day, and I’ve got a complicated evening.”

Complicated? He had a handful of questions about that, but before he could suggest they go somewhere to talk, she said, “Sorry, but I’d better go. I have a lot to do tonight.”

“I hope it’s nothing too difficult.” Too difficult? That was the best he could come up with? He was really out of practice. It had been a long time since he’d had to try to pick up a woman.

She smiled. “Actually, I don’t know what it is yet.”

He wondered if she was on the cusp of a breakup. That would explain her blowing him off. “You have my number. If things get rough, use it.”

“Thanks, but I’m sure it’ll be fine.” She cocked her head to the side with a thoughtful expression. “You don’t even know me. What if I’m a psycho?”

She was too cute. “If you were a psycho, you would have taken my head off when I sprayed you. Come on, I’ll walk you to your car.”

“I’m parked just over the dune. You don’t need to.”

“I’d like to.”

Her eyes shifted over his shoulder toward the water. “But your Jet Ski…”

“It says ‘Bayside Resort’ on the side. No one’s going to be stupid enough to steal it.” He didn’t care if they did. She intrigued him more than that machine ever had.

“You’re persistent.” A smile lifted her lips as he guided her up the sandy path with a hand on the small of her back.

“And you’re beautiful.”

“Does that usually work for—”

He stopped walking and drew her against him. The reins on his aggression were apparently short-lived. She sucked in a sharp breath, and when their eyes met, she let it out with a dreamy sigh. It was the sexiest sound he’d ever heard.

“You tell me, Desiree. Does it work for me?”

The unmistakable look of lust rose in her eyes. She licked her full, pink lips, and he wondered how they’d feel pressed against his or searing a path down the center of his body.

“The verdict is still out,” she said softly, but her unstoppable smile, and the fact that she was no longer shivering, told him all he needed to know.

Each time their sides brushed as they crossed the parking lot, she stole a quick glance. He had the urge to tell her she could brush against him, touch him, taste him all she wanted, but that underlying sweetness held him back.

“If you own Bayside Resort, then you probably have pretty women at your beck and call. Why go to the trouble of leaping off your Jet Ski to meet me?” She withdrew a single key with a tiny gold heart key chain from a pocket in her dress and unlocked the door of her MINI Cooper.

“You were gawking at me.” He stepped closer, hoping to see that hungry look again. “It would have been rude of me not to.”

A sexy smile lifted her lips.

“We’ll have to take my car when we go out. There’s no way I’ll fit in this one.”

A melodic laugh fell from her lips. “When we go out?”

“That’s right.” Holding her gaze, he ran his hands up her arms, from wrist to shoulder. Her skin was soft and cool, but it heated up quickly beneath his touch. “Warming up?”

“Mm-hm. You’re very forward.”

“Most people call me ‘aggressive,’ but I like your word better. I’d like to get to know you, Desiree. I hope I haven’t scared you off.” His hands dropped to her waist. She didn’t move away, her body didn’t tense up, and she held his steady gaze. Game on? He still wasn’t sure.

“Like I said.” Her eyes narrowed in speculation. “Forward.”

“You know what they say. If you’re not moving forward, you’re going in the wrong direction.”

“So, you’re pretty sure getting women wet is the way to go?”

Maybe she wasn’t as innocent as she seemed.

He drew her soft body against him, loving the way her breathing hitched. “Absolutely, and I’m pretty sure when we go out, you’ll agree.”

Her eyes widened with surprise. She was sending so many mixed messages he couldn’t tell if she was toying with him or nervous. Or was she testing the waters? Dipping her toes in and pulling away when it got too hot? He wanted to take her in his arms and carry her to the volcanic side. But he feared he’d already pushed too hard, and went for a save.

“Get your mind out of the gutter, sweetheart.” He leaned down and kissed her cheek. Her skin was soft as silk, and she smelled like the promise of a warm summer’s night. She was watching him with that curious, lustful gaze again, and he brushed his thumb over her jaw. “I’m really sorry for soaking you with my Jet Ski, but I’m not sorry we met.”

Check out my review of the other books in this series!

Have you read the Sweet with Heat: Seaside Summers series!

Addison Cole is the sweet alter ego of New York Times and USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Melissa Foster. She writes humorous and emotional sweet contemporary romance. Her books do not include explicit sex scenes or harsh language. Addison spends her summers on Cape Cod, where she dreams up wonderful love stories in her house overlooking Cape Cod Bay.

Addison enjoys discussing her books with book clubs and reader groups and welcomes an invitation to your event.
Addison’s books are available in paperback, digital, and audio formats.

To learn more about Addison Cole and her books, visit her website.You can also find her on GoodreadsFacebookInstagramPinterestBookBub, and Twitter.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Teaser Tuesday! The Crimson Throne by Christi Stallard

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by The Purple Booker
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share  doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
My teaser this week is from The Crimson Throne by Christi Stallard

"This is goodbye." A pained expression crossed his face as his eyes lowered to meet mine. "I don't want to see you again. Do you hear me?"

Nearly a decade ago, the supernatural creatures hidden in the shadows conquered the world with unspeakable power. The mass takeover became known as the great fall of civilization and the most devastating event in recorded history. 18-year-old Sadie Carlisle has never seen past the walls of Section 18. After a city siege forces Sadie into a fight for survival, an unlikely ally turns her life into a thrilling and terrifying whirlwind. Peter is the ultimate drug; exciting, addictive, and highly dangerous. The war raging between dark creatures threatens everything they’ve discovered in one another. Loyalties are tested, and the fate of humanity rests in the balance. How far would you go for the one you love most? 

Do you have a blog? Post a link to your Teaser Tuesday post in the comments.

No blog? Post a Teaser in the comments anyway!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Cover Reveal! Wild Without You by Layla Hagen

Wild Without You (The Connor Family #2) by Layla Hagen
Genre: Adult (Contemporary Romance)
Date Published: August 14, 2018
Publisher: EverAfter Romance

Wedding organizer Lori Connor loves her job. Planning people's happy ever afters have catapulted the single mother to success. When she meets the best man at the latest wedding, sparks fly.

Graham Frazier is more than Lori has bargained for. The charismatic soccer club owner is disillusioned by marriage after his divorce. He's also hot as sin…and kisses like a dream.

Graham's touch is sizzling. but it's the sweet way he charms her eight-year-old son that wins her over.

But can Lori and Graham let down their guard for a chance at love?

Check out m review of the first book in this series!

Check out my reviews of other books by this author!

Layla Hagen is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance.

She fell in love with books when she was nine years old, and her love affair with stories continues even now, many years later.
She writes steamy and romantic stories and can’t wait to share them with the world.

She is represented by fabulous Louise Fury (The Bent Agency)

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