Excerpt Reveal + Pre-Order: The 14 Days of Christmas

THE 14 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS by Louise Bay

Release Date: November 16th

Genre/Tropes: Holiday Romance/Small town Romance

Add to Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/59407735-the-14-days-of-christmas

PRE-ORDER TODAY!

Amazon: https://amzn.to/308tVzm

All Retailers: https://geni.us/48MrHrl

EXCERPT

​​The frigid air drew ribbons of white breath around the four workmen and I shivered, getting colder just by looking at them. Coffees distributed, it was time to get to work.

I unzipped my long, padded coat from the bottom and pulled out a hammer from my tool belt.

“Is that a… Christmas-themed tool belt under your coat?”

I looked up to find Sebastian in front of me. What was it with men who could roll out of bed and look like . . . well, Sebastian? It just wasn’t fair. Suddenly a little self-conscious of the red and white candy canes sticking out of my hat, I straightened its headband.

“Well, it doesn’t fit over my coat.”

“Not my point. I’m interested in the fact that you have a specific toolbelt for Christmas. Or maybe Christmas is a year-long obsession for you?”

“Good morning to you, Sebastian,” I replied, painting on the biggest smile I could muster. I was developing a theory that Sebastian was pretending not to like Christmas. The way he’d taken control of the room yesterday when we were all spiraling with panic about the website was impressive and more than a little sexy. My dad always said you saw the heart of a person in times of crisis, and if that were true of yesterday, Sebastian was more complicated than he first appeared. He was grumpy, yes, but obviously cared enough about Christmas in Snowsly to help. “It’s so nice of you to be up so early.”

“Wouldn’t want to miss this,” he said, his sarcastic tone suggesting that here was the last place he wanted to be.

“You want a coffee? I have a flask and cups all set up on the trestle table. And I baked breakfast flapjack with added cinnamon, which, if you squint, is almost healthy.”

Blurb:

I hate Christmas.

As CEO of my company, I’ve banned decorations from the office, festive music from the lobby and any kind of secret Santa gifts between employees are strictly forbidden.

I’m heading to the airport, away from the Christmas lights and the mulled wine, heading for sunshine and margaritas when I get a call from Granny. She’s sprained her ankle and needs my help filling in for her as head of the village Christmas Committee. Snowsly is the Christmas Capital of England and the last place I want to be in the lead up to Christmas.

But there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for Granny.

When I arrive in Snowsly, I’m introduced to Celia Sommers who is Christmas’ biggest fan and therefore my own personal nightmare before Christmas. Worse than that, I have to work with her to make Snowsly’s Christmas market a success.

Celia is determined to get me in the festive spirit. It’s not going to work.

It doesn’t matter if she’s smart and funny and easy to flirt with—if she doesn’t stop looking at me with her sparkling eyes and pouting her completely kissable lips, Celia is going straight to the top of my naughty list.

About the Author:

USA Today bestselling author, Louise Bay writes sexy, contemporary romance novels – the kind she likes to read.

Ruined by bonk-busters and sexy mini-series of the eighties Louise loves all things sexy and romantic. There’s not enough of it in real life so she disappears into the fictional worlds in books and films.

Louise loves the rain, the West Wing, London, days when she doesn’t have to wear make-up, being on her own, being with friends, elephants and champagne.

She loves to hear from readers so get in touch!

Connect w/Louise:

Website: https://louisebay.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorlouisebay

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/louisesbay

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

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2VSsbDb

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8056592.Louise_Bay

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/louise-bay

Excerpt Reveal: Dating Season Bundles 2 & 3 by Laurelin Paige and Kayti McGee

DATING SEASON: BUNDLE 2 & BUNDLE 3 by Laurelin Paige and Kayti McGee

Genre/Tropes: Contemporary, Romantic Comedy

Bundle 2 includes Fall Hard & Winter Bloom and Bundle 3 includes Spring Fever & Summer Lovin in the Dating Season series.

START THE SERIES WITH BUNDLE #1!

https://amzn.to/3q2tVeH

Excerpt:

He pushes the button. “You ok?”

“Yeah.”

“Second thoughts?”

“Just the normal thoughts,” I admit. I’m always prone to spiraling. “But no, I’m good.”

The doors slide close, and as soon as we’re alone inside, Logan tugs me closer. “Let me see how wet I can make you in two minutes.”

It only takes a few seconds once his lips meet mine. I’m sure there are cameras getting a splendid view of me clinging to him as his tongue dips inside my mouth, but I don’t care. His kiss is intoxicating and makes me forget all about my previous Fun Affairs.

The elevator stops, and his hand slips inside my panties. “Soaked.”

He sucks his finger as the doors slide open, and then I become bolder by taking his hand and sliding the same finger into my mouth.

“Damn,” he murmurs.

DATING SEASON: BUNDLE 2 by Laurelin Paige and Kayti McGee

Release Date: November 9th

Add to Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/59463565-dating-season-bundle-2

Blurb:

They say autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go… but I’m keeping Ryan’s beard.

Past Chloe has a lot to answer for. She’s made a number of questionable decisions, but drunkenly turning Ryan down on a dating app? Currently top of my list.

I love fall most of all, but oh my gourd, Ryan’s beard is fast becoming a close second.

Luckily, he’s ready to give me a second chance. We have everything in common, from art to weird history facts to the correct opinions about Titanic. And boy, does he know how to pumpkin spice it up in the bedroom.

We could easily be the cutest new couple in Boulder… if we ever leave his place.

They say winter is coming… and thanks to Logan, I am too.

If the past year has taught me anything, it’s that I am an idiot. Between The Incident, the upcoming nuptials, and finding a new place to live, I’m about ready to find a cave to hibernate in. Nearly murdering the lead singer of my favorite local band really should have been on everyone’s bingo card.

Their drummer going from medic to love interest was a plot twist I didn’t expect.

Logan has all the things I’ve been looking for–the newness of spring, heat of summer, comfort of fall, and the distraction I’d like. It may not be the traditional third date, but I’m bringing him to my best friend’s wedding anyway.

Charlotte’s not the only one who can lock a good time down.

The second two books in the laugh-out-loud Dating Season series together in one bundle. Includes Fall Hard and Winter Bloom.

DATING SEASON: BUNDLE 3 by Laurelin Paige and Kayti McGee

Release Date: November 16th

Add to Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/59463574-dating-season-bundle-3

Blurb:

It’s time for spring cleaning, but I’m not ready to toss Logan yet

Out with the old, in with the new… a new me, that is. Now that Charlotte’s married, I, too, have decided to be mature. So Logan isn’t Austin–that’s okay. Better than okay. That’s what I’d wanted all along, someone just as kind and loving and–okay, smoking hot–as my roommate. But a kind, loving, smoking hot someone who likes me back.

Logan has basically been all my dreams come true.

If I could stop stressing about work for five whole minutes to appreciate it, I’m sure I would be really happy. Thank God I have Austin to keep me grounded. Literally, because he makes me garden with him now. And maybe it’s just the stress talking, but it kind of seems like he wants to put down roots too. How come no one told me maturity would be this complicated?

My dating season has come to a close, and I’m ready for a Hot Boyfriend Summer…

Almost every single thing in my life has changed over the past year.

New job.

New me.

New knowledge.

Ah, to be young again, with the wisdom I have gained over a year’s worth of dating-as-a-competitive-sport.

If only I’d had just about an inch more before I made my commitment…

The final two books in the laugh-out-loud Dating Season series together in one bundle. Includes Spring Fever and Summer Lovin.

About Laurelin Paige:

With millions of books sold worldwide, Laurelin Paige is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling Author. She is a sucker for a good romance and gets giddy anytime there’s kissing, much to the embarrassment of her three daughters. Her husband doesn’t seem to complain, however.

When she isn’t reading or writing sexy stories, she’s probably singing, watching Killing Eve or Letterkenny, or dreaming of Michael Fassbender. She’s also a proud member of Mensa International though she doesn’t do anything with the organization except use it as material for her bio.

She is represented by Rebecca Friedman.

Connect w/Laurelin:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LaurelinPaige/

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2knJOrx

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/laurelin-paige

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

Facebook Fan Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/HudsonPierce/

Website: http://www.laurelinpaige.com

TikTok: https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMR96wbuf/

Never miss an update! Subscribe to Laurelin’s mailing list:

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/LaurelinNews

About Kayti McGee:

Livin’ deliciously in beautiful Kansas City Missouri, where everyone else loves the Royals as much as I do. I like wine and murder shows and mountains and art.

I’m represented by Rebecca Friedman at Friedman Literary because I am a lucky, lucky girl. Call her if you want me to do Iron Chef, otherwise just hit me up on FB at http://www.facebook.com/kaytimcgeeauthor, on Insta @KaytiMcGeeWrites, and stay sexy.

Connect w/ Kayti:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Kayti.McGee.Author

Join Kayti’s Readers Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/kaytimcgeesredlightdistrict

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/kayti-mcgee

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2QWMugb

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7369993.Kayti_McGee

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

Excerpt Reveal: Well Played by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward

Title: Well Played
Authors: Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward
Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance
Release Date: October 25, 2021
Excited about Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward’s upcoming release, Well Played? 
Check out this SNEAK PEEK!
Presley

Harper picked up the notebook that contained my to-do list from the table and opened to a fresh page. Clicking the pen open, she scribbled across the top.

To do with Levi

I chuckled. “Are we making a dirty to-do list?”
She wiggled her eyebrows and put the pen to the paper. “We certainly are.” “Tell me one thing you fantasize about doing with him.”
Yep, I was definitely drunk, because sober me wouldn’t have participated in this. Though, even in this state, I felt my cheeks blush. “Well, every day he goes out back and does pull-ups in that big oak tree. Sometimes I imagine he’s naked while doing them, and then I walk out naked, too. I wrap myself around him like a koala and he’s a tree, and he keeps doing the pull-ups. Hoisting us both up and down.”
Harper smirked. “Nice start.” She then jotted down koala pull-ups. “What else you got?”
“Well, I also have this running fantasy that I’m watching him do the pull-ups from my bedroom window with binoculars, and then I lie down on the bed and…you know…go to town on myself. And when I’m just about to orgasm, I look up at the window and see Levi with the binoculars. He’s watching me masturbate from outside.”
“Oooh… I like that one.” Harper wrote down voyeur masturbation.
For the next half hour, we polished off our spiked lemonades, laughed a lot, and added more than a dozen sexual to-do tasks to my list. It was the most fun I’d had in ages. But Harper had to fly home in the morning, and I didn’t want her to have a raging hangover. So rather than make another pitcher of spiked lemonade, I grabbed her a water bottle and some Motrin and told her to drink up before going to bed.
But as I walked around and shut off the lights, another fantasy hit me. “That peach cobbler we had for dessert at the restaurant was orgasmic, wasn’t it?”
“It sure was.”
I pointed to the notepad. “Sit on Levi’s face while eating that pie.”
Harper had been drinking water and spit it out all over the place. “Oh my God. That is most definitely going on the list!” She picked up the pen and spoke while jotting something down. “Double orgasmic peach cobbler.”
We started to crack up, but a knock interrupted our laughter. At least it interrupted mine. I looked up to find Levi standing in the doorway to the living room.
My eyes widened. “Levi… What are you doing here?”
His brows lifted. “I own half the place.”
“No, I meant I didn’t know you were back.”
He looked between Harper and me and seemed to smirk. “Oh, I’m back.”
My palms started to sweat. “I didn’t hear you come in. How long have you been…standing there?”
Levi tilted his head, and his smirk elevated to a cocky smile. “Not too long.”
Oh my God. I wanted to crawl into a hole and never come out. What if he heard? I suddenly felt pretty damn sober. “Umm…well, this is my friend Harper. She’s leaving early tomorrow, so we were just going to bed.”
He nodded. “Nice to meet you, Harper.”
Harper stood and hiccupped. She covered her grinning mouth. “Nice to meet you, too. Your family’s inn is beautiful.”
“Thank you.”
Her eyes shifted to me. “Although there’s a lot to do around here. Presley and I made a list. You might want to take a look at it and get going on some of the new to-do tasks we added.”
My eyes nearly bulged out of my head, and I lunged for the notebook on the table.
Levi squinted at me. “Everything okay, Presley? You seem stressed.”
“I’m fine!”
He nodded slowly. “Right.”
“Alright….” I grabbed Harper’s arm and tugged. “We’re going to bed. Welcome home.”
Levi never moved from the living room doorway as he watched me drag my friend out of the room.
Harper waved over her shoulder. “’Night, Levi. Enjoy your to-do list!”
Somehow I managed to get Harper to her room without her yelling anything too obscene. But for the next half hour, I lay in my bed with my heart pounding. What if he’d heard us? What if he’d been standing there listening the entire time? Oh my God. I covered my face with my hands. The things I said I wanted to do to him. My head began to ache, and tomorrow’s hangover hadn’t even started yet.
After another twenty minutes of lying there freaking out in the dark, my mouth was so parched that I needed a bottle of water. But there was no way I wanted to run into Levi again. So I cracked open my bedroom door and listened for any sounds of someone moving out in the common area. Finding it quiet, I snuck down the hall and peered around the corner to see if any lights were still on. They weren’t, so I breathed a sigh of relief and went to the kitchen for a drink.
I guzzled half a bottle of water before turning to slink back to my bedroom. But I froze at the sight of Levi standing in the kitchen doorway. My hand flew up to cover my racing heart. “Oh my God. You scared me.”
“Sorry. I was just going to head out to grab a bite to eat.”
“Oh…there are leftovers from lunch in the fridge, if you want. I made chicken pot pies this morning.”
Levi held my eyes for a moment. “Thanks, but I think I’m going to go out.” He walked over and leaned down to whisper in my ear. “I have a real hankering for peach cobbler.”

Oh.
My.
God.

My jaw dropped to the ground. I had no idea what to do or say.
Levi winked as he walked to the door. “Get some sleep. I wouldn’t want you to be too tired to work on that to-do list.”

★★★ 


Excited? We are too!
RELEASING
OCTOBER 25th!

Please note: There will not be an Amazon ebook pre-order, but it will be available on Amazon in Kindle Unlimited on release day.

Sign up for Vi and Penelope’s mailing list now and be the first one notified when it goes live!


Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author. With millions of books sold, her titles have appeared in over a hundred Bestseller lists and are currently translated in twenty-five languages. She resides in New York with her husband and their three children where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.
PENELOPE WARD


Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of contemporary romance. 

She grew up in Boston with five older brothers and spent most of her twenties as a television news anchor. Penelope resides in Rhode Island with her husband, son, and beautiful daughter with autism. 
With over two million books sold, she is a 21-time New York Times bestseller and the author of over twenty novels. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages and can be found in bookstores around the world.

Excerpt Reveal: 1026 Wild Way by Mandi Beck

1026 WILD WAY by Mandi Beck

1026 Wild Way is a novella and part of a 52 multi-author book series.

Welcome to Cherry Falls!

Release Date: October 26th

Genre/Tropes: Opposites Attract/Small Town Romance/Contemporary Romance

Add to Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55153979-1026-wild-way

Excerpt:

Without breaking eye contact, I move closer to her, dragging my thumb over her bottom lip and loving the way her breath catches. “You think my beard is sexy?” Before she can answer, I roll us so she’s lying under me, my tone turning serious. “I think that’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said about me. I’m not sure anyone has taken the time to see that side of me,” I admit as my fingers glide through her hair, my arms framing her face. “Or maybe I haven’t shown them.”

My eyes move over her face—her slightly upturned nose, high cheekbones with a dusting of pink either from the warmth of the fire or the fact that I’m pressed against her, sooty lashes that look like paintbrushes they’re so thick, and her eyes. So blue…so damn expressive. I spend a moment translating all that they’re saying. Do you want me? I want you. Kiss me. Kiss me. Kiss. Me. It’s a plea she doesn’t have to say because I can see it. Hear it. Feel it. And I can’t deny her a second longer. Or myself.

“Can I kiss you?” My gravelly voice is just above a whisper, my breathing steady, my heartbeat erratic in my chest. I’ve not felt this way about kissing a woman in…ever.

Blake pulls her lips in and presses them together as if she’s hiding them from me or maybe keeping them to herself. Did I read her wrong? Sliding my gaze back to her eyes, I know I most definitely did not. They’re still soft and screaming for me to kiss her. My fingers are still tangled in her hair, and I lower my head until my lips brush her ear. “I know you want me to kiss you as badly as I want to. But I won’t until you ask me for it.” It takes everything I have to pull back. Even though I don’t go far, it’s just enough that I can see her clearly again. I’m determined to wait her out—all night if that’s what it takes. It doesn’t. She releases her lips and tips her face up to mine but keeps silent. I shake my head. “Ask me.”

Finally, the words fall from her lips. Softly, surely. “Kiss me, dammit.”

Blurb:

She’s out of her element, and he’s out of his mind…over her.

One trip upriver, s’mores over a campfire complete with a hungry bear, and some seriously great sex in a Yurt. That’s all it took for Weston Wild to become smitten. It doesn’t matter that his life is all things outdoors in the small town of Cherry Falls while hers consists of world travel and the glitzy glamour of fast-paced LA. It really doesn’t matter that she drives him out of his mind when she says things like “a woman like me.” It all just makes him more determined to show her that a man like him is what she’s been missing and who she needs.

The eldest brother of Wild Brother’s Outdoor Adventures has met his match.

Cherry Falls is filled with returning characters and iconic destinations that will begin to feel like family. When you leave the city and drive into Cherry Falls, it’s like you’ve finally come home.

The cherry on top? Each book delivers a swoon-worthy romance!

So welcome to Cherry Falls. We hope you stay a while!

About Mandi Beck:

Mandi Beck has been an avid reader all of her life. A deep love for books always had her jotting down little stories on napkins, notebooks, and her hand. As an adult she was further submerged into the book world through book clubs and the epicness of social media. It was then that she graduated to writing her stories on her phone and then finally on a proper computer.

A wife, mother to two rambunctious and somewhat rotten boys, and stepmom to two great girls away at college, she shares her time with her husband in Chicago where she was born and raised. Mandi is a diehard hockey fan and blames the Blackhawks when her deadlines are not met even though her favorite hockey player calls her…mom.

Connect w/Mandi:

Website: https://www.authormandibeck.com

Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/MandiBecksBooks/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/authormandibeck

Instagram: http://instagram.com/authormandibeck

Newsletter Signup: https://www.authormandibeck.com/newsletter

Excerpt Reveal + Pre-Order + Giveaway: Give Me A Reason by A.L. Jackson

Give Me a Reason

A Single-Dad, Enemies-to-Lovers Romance from A.L. Jackson

Coming August 30th

“Speaking of hot guys…” She angled her head in the direction of a white Porsche Panamera that pulled into the parent pick-up line on the other side of the wrought-iron fence. “There he is.”

And I wondered if I was seeing things.

Hallucinating.

If this was some kind of cruel, sick joke or if I’d just done something really terrible in another life and this was my punishment.

Because there was no mistaking the smoldering eyes staring me down through the windshield where he came to a stop at the curb.

The way shock blanched his unbearably gorgeous face before his jaw clenched in what appeared hatred.

Or maybe glee.

With the man, I was sure they were one and the same.

My hand tightened on the child’s.

Instinctual.

A gut reaction to protect him.

Shivers raced. This unsettled feeling that something was coming. Something I didn’t understand, but something I should fear.

The man climbed from the driver’s seat of the flashy car that I wouldn’t have thought would fit him at all but somehow right then looked like the perfect accent piece.

He straightened to his full, menacing height.

“There he is! There he is!” The child started jumping up and down and waving his hand in the air. “Hi, Dad, hi! Over here!”

That seething intensity flashed through the air. My head spun and my knees knocked, my mouth going dry.

Trent Lawson strode toward the gate, all dark swagger and don’t-give-a-shit attitude, even though there were at least fifteen signs asking parents to stay in their cars and their children would be escorted out.

I got the sense the man wasn’t exactly one to follow the rules.

Because there he was, dressed a lot like he’d been last night, black jeans and a black v-neck tee and black boots that were unlaced. All that exposed, inked flesh somehow appeared obscene.

I had the urge to wrap the child up and take him into hiding. Run to the rest of the children and usher them to safety.

Emergency evacuation. 

But I just stood there.

Dumbfounded.

Finally, I mumbled, “That’s your dad?”

Gage Lawson.

Of course.

This really was some cruel, sick joke, and I was the very brunt of it.

“Yep! That’s him.” Gage was jumping and pointing. “Tell him I got an A, Miss Murphy! He’s gonna be so proud!”

Trent Lawson strode toward the gate with the clear intention of barging in.

Finally, I found my voice, calling out before he made it through the barrier. “Sir, you need to wait in your car. School isn’t over for a couple minutes, and we will bring your child to you. Parents aren’t allowed in this area without signing in at the office first.”

With his hand on the gate latch, he paused, an arrogant smirk ticking up like a threat at the corner of that plush mouth. “That so?”

I lifted my chin, still clutching his son’s hand. “Yes.”

He eyed me as if I were the enemy. “So, let me get this straight. I pay an ungodly amount of money for my son to come here, and you get to tell me when I can and cannot pick him up?”

“You’re paying for your child’s education, Sir, not for me to order you around.”

“Huh…would have been mistaken.”

My chin lifted higher. “It seems you are very, very mistaken.”

A war waged in the exchange. That same tension that had existed last night clear and present, his outright animosity unchanged. But there was something else lining it, too.

As if I’d gained some sort of power as we stared each other down.

“You’ve got to wait, Dad! I told you I got to get all the As, and you’re gonna ruin it by not followin’ the rules. Sheesh.”

Tessa giggled beside me.

One second later, the bell rang. It jarred me out of the trance the man held me under, my entire being jolted with the sound, as if time had been set to pause and it’d begun to speed to catch back up.

Children screeched their excitement and ran to grab their bags that were lined up against the wall.

“Please remain in your car tomorrow,” I called out, the words roughened shards as I reluctantly released Gage’s hand.

“I’ll see what I can do,” he returned, just as smug and cocky and infuriating as he’d been last night.

Gage went running that way, that giant backpack bouncing all over. He glanced at me, running backward for two steps, nothing but grins and belief. “Don’t worry, I’ll be back to see you tomorrow, Miss Murphy!”

When the child made it to him, Trent stretched out a hand for Gage to take.

For a flash, his entire demeanor shifted when he looked down at the child and the child smiled up at him.

Soft. Kind. Protective.

I had to be seeing things.

Then he turned to leave on those ridiculous boots, but not before he tossed out from over his shoulder, “See ya soon, Kitten.”

Anger rushed, my cheeks hot and my pulse wild and that irrational rage taking hold.

All mixed up with that feeling.

That impossibility.

They walked back to the Porsche, and I remained rooted to the spot as he helped Gage into the backseat and into a booster before he rounded the front of the car and slipped into the driver’s seat.

The man glared at me before he tossed his car back into drive and pulled from the curb.

Fingernails curled into my upper arm. “Holy shit, Eden Jasmine Murphy,” Tessa hissed. “What was that? And you better fess it up now, because I can already feel your denial coming on, and there is no denying whatever the heck that was.”

She waved a turbulent hand through the air as if she could capture that feeling.

Something unattainable but real.

“That?” I let my eyes follow the car that whipped out of the drive far too fast. “That was my new boss.”

Pre-Order on Amazon

Pre-Order on Audio

Add to Goodreads

GIVE ME A REASON SURPRISE RELEASE BOX – reserve yours or an individual signed paperback here: PRE-ORDER HERE

Can’t wait for the release? Be sure to vote for GIVE ME A REASON as one of your most anticipated August reads on Goodreads!

Vote Here

“Pure, unadulterated fire. Trent and Eden have a connection that is so rough and beautiful you can feel it bleeding off the pages! You’re not going to want to miss this one!”

— NYT Bestselling Author, Molly McAdams


Want a Signed Paperback or Give Me Release Box? PRE-ORDER HERE

 


GIVEAWAY

Signed Set of The Falling Stars Series Paperbacks

ENTER HERE

Want a Signed Paperback or Give Me Release Box? PRE-ORDER HERE


A.L. Jackson is the New York Times & USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance. She writes emotional, sexy, heart-filled stories about boys who usually like to be a little bit bad.

Her bestselling series include THE REGRET SERIES, CLOSER TO YOU, BLEEDING STARS, FIGHT FOR ME, CONFESSIONS OF THE HEART, and FALLING STARS novels. Watch out for her upcoming stand-alone, GIVE ME A REASON, releasing August 30th!

If she’s not writing, you can find her hanging out by the pool with her family, sipping cocktails with her friends, or of course with her nose buried in a book.

Be sure not to miss new releases and sales from A.L. Jackson – Sign up to receive her newsletter http://smarturl.it/NewsFromALJackson or text “aljackson” to 33222 to receive short but sweet updates on all the important news.

Connect with A.L.

Newsletter: https://geni.us/ALJacksonBookClubB

Facebook: https://geni.us/ALJacksonFBB

Reader Group: https://geni.us/AmysAngelsB

Amazon: https://geni.us/ALJacksonAmznB

Bookbub: https://geni.us/ALJacksonBookBubB

Twitter: @aljacksonauthor

Instagram: @aljacksonauthor

TikTok: @aljacksonauthor

Excerpt Reveal: The Spark by Vi Keeland

Title: The Spark
Author: Vi Keeland
Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance
Release Date: July 12, 2021
Excited about Vi Keeland’s upcoming release, The Spark? Check out this SNEAK PEEK of CHAPTER 1!
CHAPTER 1

Autumn

I’m definitely getting too old for this.

I tossed a pile of mail on the couch and plopped down beside it. It was barely six o’clock, and I wouldn’t have minded climbing into bed and calling it a day. I needed a vacation from my four-day mini vacation. Thank goodness I’d scheduled myself a weekend to recover. My girls’ trip/early bachelorette party in Vegas for my friend Anna—the one where we were all going to relax by the pool and get spa treatments—had turned into all-night clubbing and almost missing my flight home earlier today because I’d overslept. It had definitely been a while since I drank more than two glasses of wine in the span of a week, and I was feeling my ripe old age of twenty-eight before the sun had even set this Friday night. Thank God I didn’t have to work tomorrow.
I briefly considered going the hair-of-the-dog route and sucking back a vodka cran while zoning out on Netflix, but then my phone rang, crashing me back to reality.
Ugh…
Dad flashed on the screen. I should’ve just gotten it over with and spoken to him, but I didn’t have the energy. Nonetheless, allowing myself to avoid the stress speaking to my father would inevitably cause reminded me of the other thing I needed to do that I’d been avoiding all afternoon. Laundry. One of my least-favorite tasks—mostly because it required me to sit downstairs in my building’s dingy basement laundry room. Up until a few months ago, I would start my laundry and come back forty-five minutes later to make the switch to the dryer. But that practice had come to a halt after one of my loads went missing—an entire load of wet bras and underwear. Who the hell stole wet clothes? At least nab dry ones. Nevertheless, it was an expensive lesson, and now I didn’t leave the basement until my clothes were washed and dried.
Sighing, I begrudgingly went to the bedroom, where my suitcase still sat on the bed, and unzipped it. I’d packed a linen skirt on top that I hadn’t wound up wearing, and I figured I’d hang it in the bathroom and hope the wrinkles worked themselves out over the course of a couple of steamy showers. I hated ironing almost as much as I hated doing laundry downstairs.
But when I flipped open the top of the suitcase, my linen skirt wasn’t on top. At first I thought my bag must’ve been selected for search, and things hadn’t been put back in order… Though the wingtip shoe I lifted was most definitely not mine.

Shit.

I rummaged through the suitcase in a panic.
Slacks, running clothes, a men’s dress shirt… A sickening feeling washed over me, and I scrambled to look at the luggage tag. I’d never filled out the identification card inside, but the leather had my initials embossed on the outside.
And this one…had no initials.

Crap. Crap. Crap.

I’d grabbed the wrong bag off the luggage carousel. I started to sweat. All of my makeup was in that bag! Not to mention a week’s worth of my best outfits and shoes. I needed to get it back. Rushing to the kitchen, I grabbed my cell from the charger on the counter and Googled the number for the airline. After wading through a half-dozen prompts, I reached a recording.
“Thank you for calling American Airlines. Due to unprecedented call volume, your estimated wait time is approximately forty-one minutes.”
Forty-one minutes! I blew out a rush of air. Great. Just great.
In the meantime, while I waited on hold on speakerphone, listening to staticky music, it hit me that whoever’s luggage I had might very well have mine. I hadn’t even checked the luggage tag to see if, unlike mine, the identification information was filled in.
I zipped back down the hall to my bedroom.
Bingo!
Donovan Deckerkind of a cool name. And he lived here in the city! Thankfully, Donovan even had his phone number listed. It couldn’t be that easy, could it? I doubted it, but considering I still had forty minutes before I could speak to someone at the airline, I wasn’t losing much for trying. So I swiped to end my call. I started to punch in the numbers on the tag, and then decided to hit *67 first to make my number private. With my luck, the guy wouldn’t have my luggage, but he’d be a total creeper.
I was caught off guard when a man’s deep voice answered on the first ring. I hadn’t yet figured out what I was going to say.
“Uhhh. Hi. My name is Autumn, and I think I might have your luggage.”
“That was quick. I just hung up with you guys two minutes ago.”
He must’ve thought I was calling from the airline. “Oh, no. I don’t work for American. I traveled home this morning and must’ve grabbed the wrong bag at JFK.”
“What are your initials?”
“My initials?”
“Yeah, you know, the first letter of your first name and the first letter of your last name.”
I rolled my eyes. “I know what initials are. I just don’t understand why you would ask—Oh! Does that mean you have my luggage? I have my initials embossed on the luggage tag.”
“That depends on what your initials are, Autumn. The first letter matches.”
“My initials are AW.”
“Well, then it seems you are indeed the thief who clipped my luggage.”
Sure, I hadn’t checked my luggage tag, but it offended me that he was calling me a thief. “Wouldn’t we both be thieves? Since you’re in possession of my luggage?”
“I only took yours because it was the last one left rotating around the carousel. You see, unlike you, I checked the luggage tag the first time it passed, and when I saw it wasn’t mine, I left it for the rightful owner to claim. But the line at baggage customer service was twenty deep, and I had a meeting I was already late for. So I took the one I have hostage until the airline could sort it out.”
My shoulders slumped. “Oh. Sorry.”
“It’s fine. Are you here in the City?”
“I am. Could we possibly meet to swap bags?”
“Sure. When and where? I’m out now, but I’ll be back in an hour or two.”
The tag had an address on the Upper East Side, but I lived on the West Side, farther downtown. “Could we meet at the Starbucks on 80th and Lex?” That was closer to him, but at least I’d only have to drag the suitcase onto one subway.
“I can’t think of any excuse not to. What time?”
That was sort of a weird way to phrase a yes, and the way he emphasized the word excuse seemed odd. But hey, I was getting my bag back. So what if he turned out to be a little strange? At least I’d hidden my phone number, and we were meeting in a public place.
“How about eight?”
“I’ll see you then.”
It sounded like he was about to hang up. “Wait…” I said. “How will I know it’s you?”
“I’ll be the one holding your luggage, Autumn W.”
I chuckled. “Oh, yeah. Sorry…long week in Vegas.”
I bent and lifted the shoe from the top of the bag. Ferragamo. Expensive. And big, too. A quick peek revealed it was a size thirteen. The inner teenager in me couldn’t help but think big feet, big…. Plus, the guy had a deep, sexy voice. I would definitely be exploring more of the dude’s luggage after we hung up.
“I’ll meet you at eight,” he said.
“See you then.” I was just about to swipe my phone off when something hit me. Oh God! “Hello? Wait…are you still there?”
It took a heartbeat or two, but the sexy voice came back on the line. “What’s up?”
“Ummm… Did you…open my bag?”
“I unzipped it at the airport to make sure it wasn’t mine when I noticed the luggage tag initials.”
“Did you…see anything?”
“There was a pink thong on top, so that pretty much sealed the deal that it didn’t belong to me. But I didn’t rummage through, if that’s what you’re asking.”
I forgot I’d shoved that thong in at the last minute. It had been at the back of a drawer when I’d checked the hotel room one last time on my way out. But I’d take him seeing my underwear over the other stuff inside my bag. I blew out a sigh of relief. “Okay, that’s great. Thank you. I’ll see you at eight at Starbucks.”
“Whoa. Hang on a second—not so fast. You sounded pretty nervous that I might’ve gone through your bag. Are you hiding something sinister in there? I’m not going to be walking around with a suitcase full of drugs or something, am I?”
I cracked a smile. “No, definitely not. I just…I’d prefer if you didn’t go through it.”
“Did you rummage through mine?”
I glanced at the shoe in my hand. Taking out one measly piece of footwear wouldn’t be considered rummaging, right? Nah. “No, I didn’t.”
“Are you planning on it?” he asked.
I had no idea what the man looked like, yet I could tell by his voice that he was smiling now.
“Nope,” I lied.
“Alright. Then we have a deal. I won’t go through your bag, and you won’t go through mine.”
“Okay. Thank you.”
“Do I have your word on that, Autumn W? I might have some things I’d prefer you didn’t see in there.”
“Like what?”
He chuckled. “See you at eight.”
After we hung up, I tossed the shoe back into the suitcase and bent to close it. But as I reached for the zipper, my curiosity got the best of me. Was he just screwing with me, or did he really have something in here he didn’t want me to see? Of course, I knew what I had in mine, which made me extra curious.
I shook my head and started to pull the zipper closed. About halfway, I laughed out loud. Who was I kidding? Now that I didn’t have laundry to do, I had almost a full two hours to kill before I met Mr. Bigfoot. This suitcase would taunt me all that time. I’d most certainly give in eventually, so why not put myself out of that misery and just take a little look-see inside now? Then I’d be able to relax. He’d never know I hadn’t lived up to my end of the bargain. Not to mention, for all I knew, he was elbow deep in my suitcase right now. In that case, it would only be fair that I got to go through his, right?
I nibbled my lip for a few seconds as a wave of guilt washed over me. But I quickly forced that out of my mind. Of course I’m right.
Feeling justified now, I unzipped the suitcase and took a minute to mentally note how everything was packed: a white dress shirt was folded on top, and two shoes were set on either side, heels facing up. I carefully unpacked those and placed them on the bed next to the suitcase in the same order. The next layer had more folded clothes: two expensive dress shirts, a pair of sweats, boxer briefs, and a few T-shirts, one of which had something emblazoned on the front—familiar lettering that began HA—so I unfolded it to see what it said. Harvard Law.
Ugh. One of those. No wonder he could afford Ferragamo shoes.
Underneath the pile of clothes was a white laundry bag—the kind a hotel gives you to put your dry cleaning in, but most people used it to separate their dirty clothes. With no desire to sort through smelly socks, I started to fold the clothes back into the suitcase, feeling a twinge of disappointment. But when I smoothed out the layers of the pile, I felt something lumpy and hard underneath in the plastic laundry bag. So I took the clothes back out and looked inside, hoping to find…I’m not sure what. Though what I found was definitely not what I expected.
The bag was filled with at least twenty or thirty of those little shampoo bottles hotels give out. Actually, a closer inspection revealed some were conditioner and a few were moisturizer. Buried on the very bottom were also three little sewing kits and half-a-dozen toothbrushes wrapped in plastic—the kind you could get at the front desk of a hotel when you forgot yours.
What the heck had Mr. Bigfoot done? Rob a housekeeping cart? This kind of stuff, though a lesser quantity, is what you’d usually find in my suitcase since I was broke all the time. But it wasn’t the type of thing you’d expect in the suitcase of a man who had gone to Harvard and wore seven-hundred-dollar dress shoes.
Now I was even more curious to meet Donovan Decker.
***
I arrived at Starbucks almost twenty minutes early, so I went online to treat myself to a flat white with honey almond milk. Even ordering it had me salivating, thinking about the sweet, creamy drink. Expensive coffee was my indulgence, but it didn’t happen too often with the five-dollar price tag and my skimpy budget.
I stood at the end of the counter, waiting for my drink and mindlessly scrolling on my phone, when a man walking through the front door caught my attention.

Oh, wow.

Now that was one good-looking man. Describing him as merely tall, dark, and handsome didn’t cut it, not by a mile. Jet-black hair framed a magnificent face with a chiseled, masculine bone structure, full lips, and a Romanesque nose. I wasn’t the only one to notice, either. I watched as the Adonis took a step back outside to hold the door open for a woman exiting the store, and the poor lady caught one glimpse of him and literally tripped over her own feet.
Seemingly oblivious that he’d caused the incident, he extended a hand to help her up, flashed a killer smile, and strolled inside. His bright blue eyes scanned the room, stopping right on my ogling ones. Embarrassed at being caught, I quickly diverted my attention back to my phone. A few seconds later, I was still pretending to be enraptured by my screen when footsteps came to a halt in front of me. I glanced up and blinked a few times. The guy from the door flashed a crooked smile.
“Were you able to control yourself?”
My forehead wrinkled. “Excuse me?”
His eyes danced with mirth, and his voice lowered. “I bet you couldn’t.”
I stared at him for an awkward moment before finally shaking my head. “What on Earth are you talking about?”
The man’s brows furrowed. “We made a deal, remember? I wouldn’t go through yours, if you didn’t touch mine?”
I’d watched the man walk in, stood right in front of him staring for at least a solid minute, and it took until now for me to notice he had something in his hand.
“Oh my God. You have my suitcase!”
He laughed but still looked perplexed. “What did you think I was talking about?”
“I…I don’t know. I was thoroughly confused.”
“I thought you saw me walk in.”
I did. But I hadn’t made it past your face. “No, I hadn’t noticed. Sorry. I guess I was just zoning out.”
The barista behind the counter yelled my name. I was glad for an excuse to put some distance between this guy and me. I needed a moment to gather my wits. Though when I returned, I still felt a little off-kilter.
“Thank you for meeting me to swap suitcases,” I said. “I’m really sorry I took the wrong one.”
“No problem.”
I rolled his case forward and released the handle. But the Adonis didn’t do the same. In fact, he pulled my bag closer to his side.
“Before we switch…” He tilted his head and studied my face. “I’m curious to know if you kept your word.”
I mimicked his pose and tilted my head. “What if I say I didn’t?”
“Well, then you’d have to pay a penalty for violating the terms of our deal.”
I raised a brow, intrigued. “A penalty?”
He nodded. “That’s right. There’s a penalty.”
I laughed as I lifted my coffee for a sip. “I just got back from a girls’ weekend in Vegas. Pretty sure this overpriced drink just used up the last five dollars in my bank account.”
“I wasn’t referring to a monetary penalty.”
“What kind of a penalty, then?”
He stroked the stubble on his chin for a moment. “You’d have to have coffee with me.”
Did this guy really think that would be a hardship? I debated how to answer. If I told the truth, it would be embarrassing. I mean, I went through the man’s personal belongings. But the flipside was I’d get to check him out some more over coffee. Then again, I’d be agreeing to spend time with a complete stranger. Though…whenever I met a guy online, I usually met him at a coffeehouse, and I probably knew more about this guy after going through his suitcase than I would from an online chat. Not to mention, none of my online dates had looked like Donovan Decker lately. In fact, none had made it further than coffee in a while.
Adonis had been watching my face as I debated my answer. His smirk made me think he already knew I’d checked out his bag. So, what the hell?
I stood tall and met his stare. “Was the lady from housekeeping harmed in the robbery?”
His eyes narrowed for a heartbeat, but then a giant smile spread across his face. He held his hand out toward the seating area. “After you, Autumn W.”

★★★ 


Excited? We are too!
RELEASING
JULY 12th!
PRE-ORDER LINKS

Please note: There will not be an Amazon ebook pre-order, but it will be available on Amazon on release day.


Sign up for Vi’s mailing list now and be the first one notified when it goes live!
SIGN UP HERE

Do you like texts better than email? Receive text notices of Vi’s new releases by texting the word BOOKS to 77948 You will ONLY receive a text when a new book goes live – no other messages at all!
AUTHOR BIO
Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author. With millions of books sold, her titles have appeared in over a hundred Bestseller lists and are currently translated in twenty-five languages. She resides in New York with her husband and their three children where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.
AUTHOR LINKS

Excerpt Reveal + Pre-Order: Not Pretending Anymore by Penelope Ward and Vi Keeland

Title: Not Pretending Anymore
Authors: Penelope Ward & Vi Keeland
Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance
Release Date: April 12, 2021

Excited about Penelope Ward & Vi Keeland’s upcoming release, Not Pretending Anymore?
Check out this SNEAK PEEK of CHAPTER 1!
CHAPTER ONE
Molly

“So, what do you do for a living?”
The woman drummed her fingers on her thigh. “I’m a musician.”
I glanced down at the renter’s application in my hand. Lyric Chords was the name listed at the top.
I bit my tongue and tried to keep an open mind. This was the twelfth woman I’d interviewed as a prospective roommate. Just because she had a few safety pins in her eyebrow and what looked like a dog collar around her neck didn’t mean I should rule her out.
“Oh. That’s nice. Are you a singer?”
Lyric shook her head. “Drummer. Do you know the dimensions of the bedroom I’ll be sleeping in? I have two sets of drums I need to fit.”
“Umm… I think it’s fourteen by fourteen. But you don’t practice at home, right? I wrote in my ad that I’m looking for a quiet roommate because I work nights.”
“I do. But no worries. I’ll practice in my room.”
My bedroom and my potential roommate’s bedroom shared a wall, so that was the end of interview number twelve. I sighed and forced a smile. “Thank you for coming. I have a few other people left to meet with before I decide. I’ll let you know.”
“Great.” The woman stood. “Also, I know your ad said two months’ rent up front, but I’m running a little short right now. Would one be okay?”
I smiled. “Sure, no problem.” Since you’re not going to be living here.
After Drummergirl, I interviewed two more candidates. One wanted her boyfriend to move into the room with her, even though my ad had specified I was only looking for a single. And the other arrived twenty minutes late, reeked of alcohol, and slurred her words…at three thirty in the afternoon.
Why in the hell was it so difficult to find a roommate in a city of almost three-million people? I needed my last interview of the day to be a miracle, or I was going to have to shell out money for another ad and start the entire process all over. And I definitely didn’t have the time or the funds for that. Rent was due in two weeks. If I got stuck paying the full amount on this place myself again, I’d be eating cat food for a month.
When my last appointment knocked right on time, I took a deep breath, looked up at the ceiling, and asked the big guy in the sky for a little assistance.
Opening the door, I blinked a few times.

Uhhh. I think you answered the wrong prayer, God.

A man stood in my hallway—and not just any man, an absolutely gorgeous one with a perfect, straight nose, cheekbones to die for, a masculine, square jaw, full lips, tanned skin, and the sexiest chocolate brown, almond-shaped eyes I’d ever seen in my life.
“Uh. Can I help you?”
He flashed a killer smile, one that I immediately suspected had made countless women remove their panties.
“Hi. I have a four-thirty appointment with Molly Corrigan.”
“You do?” I had the last application in my hand and looked down at the name on the top. “I don’t think so. My appointment is with a D. Tate?”
He extended a hand. “That’s me. Declan Tate.”
“But…you’re…not a woman.”
He smiled again. “You’re correct. Very observant. I am most definitely not a woman. But my last roommate told me I should’ve been because I use moisturizer at night and cried at the end of Marley and Me. And if I’m being honest, I also got a little watery at the end of Toy Story, so maybe I’m a bit of a wuss. Either way, I think you should consider those my positive feminine qualities.”
I was thoroughly confused. “Umm… I’m sorry. You must’ve missed that my ad said female only.”
“Actually, I didn’t. But if you’ll give me just five minutes, I think I can convince you I would be a better roommate than a woman.”
I chuckled. “Let me get this straight… You hid your first name—what did you say it was again?”
“Declan.”
“Right. Declan. Anyway, you applied to an ad for a female roommate, intentionally deceiving the person who is going to decide if you get the room by leaving your first name off. And your strategy is to convince me I don’t really know what I want in less than five minutes? Do I have that right?”
He flashed that boyish charm again. “You sure do.”
I debated how to handle the situation. On one hand, he was going to waste my time, and I had done enough of that today. But on the other, my curiosity was definitely piqued. Something about his grin told me this could be amusing. Screw it. I had nothing better to do anyway.
I opened the door wider and stepped aside, holding my hand out for him to enter. “I’m setting the timer on my phone, and I’m getting a glass of wine before you start. I like a drink while I’m being entertained.”
Declan smirked and strolled into my apartment.
I motioned to the couch. “Have a seat. I’ll just be a minute.”
When I got to the kitchen, he called after me, “Hey, Mollz?”
I turned back. “Yes?”
“How about you make that two glasses of wine?”
I chuckled. “Sure. Why not, Decs.”
I poured a couple of glasses of pinot grigio and returned to the living room.
“Here you go. Hope you like white.”
“You see? We’re perfect together already. I prefer white over red.”
I brought my wine to my lips. “Yes, perfect. A match made in heaven. I think we might even be soul mates.”
Declan showed me his pearly whites once again. He really did have a great smile, nice teeth, too. Too bad he also had a penis. I knocked back half the contents of my glass and placed it on the coffee table. Picking up my cell, I swiped to the timer app and set it for five minutes.
I showed him the screen. “You ready?”
“I’m always ready.”
I pressed start, placed the phone face up on the coffee table between us, and folded my hands. “Go.”
“Okay. Well…what’s your favorite color?”
“My favorite color?”
Declan pointed to the timer. “Time’s a ticking, Molly. I’m going to need you to not repeat questions.”
I laughed. “Fine. My favorite color is pink.”
Declan reached into one of his pant pockets and pulled out a set of keys. The keychain had a bunch of pink beads with white letters between each one. The letters spelled out his name. “Mine too.”
I arched a brow. “Did you make that yourself?”
“No. My niece, Arianna, made it for me.”
“So how do I know that isn’t just Arianna’s favorite color?”
“Good point. Let’s move on. Your ad said you work nights.”
“That’s right. I’m a nurse. I work the night shift on the maternity ward.”
“So you sleep during the day, then?”
“I get off at seven, and I try to get to sleep as soon as I get home.”
He held his hand to his chest. “I work days. I leave for the gym by six and usually don’t get home until after seven at night. So the apartment will be quiet when you need it to be.”
I nodded. “Okay. I’ll give you that that would make you a good roommate. But most people work days, so it’s not really something that makes you too special.”
“Do you cook?” he said.
“Does macaroni and cheese count?”
“I grew up in a multigenerational Italian home. My nonna taught me how to make sauce from scratch.”
“So you’re going to cook for me?”
“If that’s what it takes to get this apartment, yes.”
“As tempting as that might be, there’s an Italian restaurant around the corner that makes great food. Funny enough, it’s called Nonna’s Place, and an actual nonna makes most of my meals. Not a knockoff.”
Declan took an exaggerated breath and blew it out. He glanced at the cell on the table. “Three minutes and thirty-eight seconds. I can see you’re not going to make this easy. How about you tell me why you can’t have a male roommate so I can address that head-on. Is it because of the toilet-seat thing? Because I have four older sisters, so I’m appropriately trained. When I was eight, I made the mistake of leaving it up once, and my sister sat down where I’d accidentally left a little pee. She dunked my head in the toilet bowl before she flushed. That was the last time I left the seat up.” He held up three fingers. “Scout’s honor. It won’t be an issue.”
I smiled. “It’s not because of the toilet thing.”
“Alright. So why don’t you want a male roommate, then?”
I’d actually never given much thought to why my roommate had to be female. It just seemed natural to have another woman sharing the apartment. “Well…I don’t really have a specific reason. I would just be more comfortable living with another woman. For example, I sleep in a T-shirt and underwear. When I get up to start the coffee, I don’t get dressed. It would be weird to do that in front of a man.”
“Why?”
“Why would it be weird to walk around with my ass cheeks on display in front of a man and not a woman?”
“Yes.”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. It just would. I guess because the women I’ve lived with aren’t attracted to other women, so it doesn’t feel sexual in any way.”
“Ah. Now we’re getting to the crux of your issue. So you’re afraid of some sexual tension going on between you and me? Is it because I’m so handsome?”
“What? No! And aren’t you full of yourself, assuming I think you’re handsome, and I’m worried I won’t be able to control myself.”
“Just keeping it real, Mollz. You’re only giving me five minutes, so I’m trying to get to the heart of the reason.”
“I guess I just don’t want to feel like I have to cover up to come out of my bedroom. When I dry my hair, I wear a towel or a bra and underwear—that type of thing.”
“Would you feel you had to cover up if I told you I was gay?”
That question gave me pause. Would I? I wasn’t sure. “Are you?”
“Fuck, no. I was just trying to pinpoint your issue. Is it the fact that I’m a man, or the fact that I might admire your ass if it were on display? Sounds like it’s the latter. So let me put your mind at ease: I won’t.”
I felt oddly offended. “What’s wrong with my ass?”
He chuckled. “I wouldn’t know. I haven’t looked. You know why?”
“Why?”
“Because I’m in love with someone else.”
As insane as it was, I felt a pang of jealousy. “Oh. Well, why aren’t you moving in with her?”
“Because she doesn’t return the feelings…yet. So basically, if your concern about having a guy for a roommate is that he’s going to be checking you out, you have nothing to worry about with me. I’m a one-woman man. If you want, I can give you the numbers of some of my exes for references. I’m no cheater.”
Hmmm… “I don’t know…”
Declan looked down at the clock. Thirty-one seconds were left. “We’re running out of time, so we need to speed things up. How about if I just give you the facts you need to know?”
“That would be good.”
“I’m twenty-eight years old. I make six figures. My credit score is eight hundred and ten, and I have references from previous landlords. I’m neat and clean up after myself. I’m not home a lot, but when I am, I’m pretty quiet. I’m also damn good with a hammer.” He glanced around my apartment and pointed at a hole I’d accidentally made in the wall when I flung the closet door open too hard. “I can spackle that and put on a door stopper so it won’t happen again.” He pointed to the kitchen. “And those cabinets are pretty tall. I’m six foot one. No more having to stand on a chair to reach something on the top shelf. And—”
The timer on the stopwatch buzzed.
“Can I just say one last thing?”
“Sure. Why not?”
“I’ll share my Hulu and Netflix passwords. I have the premium Hulu account.”
I laughed. “Well, those are some pretty enticing qualities for a roommate.”
He smiled. “So I’m in?”
I sighed. “I’m sorry. While I appreciate your tenacity, unfortunately, you’re not. Though I interviewed fourteen other people today, and I have to say, you do seem like you’ll make some other lucky person a fantastic roomie.”
Declan frowned, but nodded. “I figured it was worth a shot. This is a great building, and I work right around the corner. It’s hard to find an apartment where it’s only a six-month commitment.”
“My lease is up then, and I haven’t decided if I’m going to extend or not.”
“See? That’s another reason I’d be perfect. I’m only in town for six more months.”
“I’m sorry. This is definitely a case of it’s me and not you.”
He picked up his wine and guzzled it down before standing and extending his hand. “I appreciate you giving me your time. And thanks for the pinot.”
We shook. “It was nice to meet you, Declan.”
After I walked him out, I shut the door and leaned back against it. What a shame; he really seemed like a nice guy and the best candidate I’d met by a mile. I was just about to go wallow in another glass of alcohol when there was a knock at my door. Checking the peephole before opening, I found Declan standing there.
“I forgot something important,” he said.
“Oh? What’s that?”
He took out his wallet and produced a photo of a nun. “This is my sister Catherine, and it’s not a costume from Halloween. She’s a legit nun. How bad can a person be if his sister is a nun?”
I laughed. “Is this the sister who dunked your head in the toilet?”
He grinned. “It is, actually.”
“Well, I’m not sure there’s a direct correlation between your sister deciding to dedicate her life to the church and you being a good person. Though, even if I take your word for it, it still doesn’t change my answer.”
Declan’s shoulders drooped. “Had to try. She tells me her being a nun won’t get me into heaven. Thought maybe it was good for something.”
“Goodbye, Declan.”
“Later, Mollz.”
***
“So…how’s the roommate search going?” Emma poured a cup of coffee and sat down at the small table in our break room.
I sighed. “Why is it so hard to find a normal person these days? I’ve interviewed more than a dozen people, and not one suitable candidate.”
“Did you post an ad on the employee bulletin board, like I suggested?”
I shook my head. “I don’t want another nurse or tech. It makes it weird at work if things don’t work out.”
“Maybe Dr. Dandy will apply.” She wiggled her eyebrows. “I heard he’s sleeping on Dr. Cohen’s couch until he finds a place.”
That information certainly perked me up. “Really? Will and whatshername broke up?”
“Yup. Lisa in X-ray told me Dr. Cohen told her he’s staying with him. Apparently he and the wannabe actress are finito.”
“Wow.”
Emma smiled. “Yup. And fair warning, my friend… I’m allowing a ten-day grace period for him to grieve the end of a year-long relationship. But after that, I’m going to be up your butt making sure you let the man know you’re interested. He’s not going to be on the market for long, and you missed your opportunity last time he was single. You can’t keep pining for the guy.”
Of course she was right. And while I felt elated that Will was back on the market, the thought of coming clean to him about my feelings made me want to throw up. Will Daniels—or as Emma called him, Dr. Dandy, because of his last name and uncanny resemblance to a male model named David Gandy—and I had been good friends for four years now. We’d started on the very same day at the hospital and had gone through orientation together. I’d had a boyfriend back then, and he’d been seeing a girl from med school at the time, so even though I’d always thought he was insanely handsome, things didn’t bloom until two years ago. And most of the time since then, he’d been seeing one woman or another. Emma was right that the man never seemed to stay single for long.
“He’s going to be at happy hour this Friday night,” I said. “A few of the crew from CCU are meeting up over at McBride’s. I’m curious to hear what he says about the breakup.”
“Does he know you’re looking for a roommate?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Well, he needs a place to sleep, and you need a roomie.” Emma shrugged. “Timing is everything. Maybe it’s fate and he’ll move in and take care of two of your needs.”
“I think your imagination might be getting ahead of itself. Why don’t we start by seeing if things are really over with him and whatshername? They’ve split up a few times, but he always winds up going back.”
“Okay. But I have a good feeling about you two.”
“Could you possibly have a good feeling about me finding a roommate instead? I just had to pay for another damn ad.”
Emma shook her head. “I can’t believe you didn’t find one decent candidate.”
Remembering my last interview, I said, “Actually there was one who would’ve been perfect—great credit score, neat, cooks, leaves early in the morning, and works long days.”
“So why didn’t you take her?”
“Because she was a he.”

★★★

Excited? We are too!

RELEASING APRIL 12th!
PRE-ORDER LINKS
Please note: There will not be an Amazon ebook pre-order, but it will be available on in Kindle Unlimited on Amazon on release day.

Sign up for Vi and Penelope’s mailing list now and be the first one notified when it goes live!
PENELOPE WARD


Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of contemporary romance. 

She grew up in Boston with five older brothers and spent most of her twenties as a television news anchor. Penelope resides in Rhode Island with her husband, son, and beautiful daughter with autism. 
With over two million books sold, she is a 21-time New York Times bestseller and the author of over twenty novels. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages and can be found in bookstores around the world.
VI KEELAND
Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author. With millions of books sold, her titles have appeared in over a hundred Bestseller lists and are currently translated in twenty-five languages. She resides in New York with her husband and their three children where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.

Excerpt Reveal + Pre-Order: The Crush by Penelope Ward

Title: The Crush
Author: Penelope Ward
Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance
Release Date: February 22, 2021
BLURB
From New York Times bestselling author Penelope Ward, comes a new standalone, second-chance story of forbidden love… 
It’s natural to want the one you can’t have. And for as long as I could remember, I’d secretly wanted my brother’s best friend, Jace.
He was six years older and always treated me like the sister he never had.
Fast forward a decade.
We were all in our twenties now. Jace had moved in with my brother, Nathan, and me to help us make ends meet after our parents died.
It was just the three of us—an odd family dynamic.
Living under our roof, Jace was as bossy and protective as ever.
But he certainly didn’t look at me like a sister anymore. That was what made things so complicated.
I was pretty much hot and bothered twenty-four-seven.
And he was torn.
The signs were subtle, at first. Like on movie night, I’d casually rest my leg against his, and he wouldn’t exactly shift away.
Still, I assumed he would never…go there. 
Nathan would kill us.
The knowledge of that wasn’t enough to stop the inevitable, though.
Eventually our slow burn exploded.
But more than the physical attraction, we’d developed a strong connection.
We just couldn’t get caught, right?
That sounded simple.
Until it wasn’t.
This is a story of forbidden love, broken trust, and an unexpected second chance.
PRE-ORDER LINKS
EXCERPT
“I’m gonna grab a beer,” he said. “You want something?”
“I’ll take a beer, too.”
He chuckled. “Is it bad that I had to think for a second whether you’re legal to drink? It feels wrong giving you alcohol, for some reason.”
“You’ve dropped me off at the damn bar! How could you think that?”
“I know. It’s fucked-up.” He laughed as he walked backwards into the house. “Be right back.”
A minute later, Jace returned with two chilled bottles of Miller Lite. He popped one open and handed it to me.
“Thanks.” I took a long sip that felt great going down.
We polished off the rest of the food, and by the time I finished the beer, I felt pretty tipsy. Between the soft breeze blowing Jace’s scent my way and the buzz, I was on cloud nine.
Jace took it upon himself to clear our wrappers and napkins, stuffing everything into the paper bag. As he went back into the kitchen, he asked, “Want another beer?”
“I’d love one.”
When he returned, he set the bottle in front of me and sat back down. He put his feet up on an empty chair and leaned his head back, closing his eyes.
He sighed. “This is exactly what I needed…to chill at home.”
That made me happy. “Give your head a break tonight. You can always worry about work tomorrow.”
“Yeah. I think I’m gonna take your advice on that.”
While his eyes were closed, I was able to enjoy staring at his profile—his strong, angular jaw and slightly cleft chin, his perfect nose and kissable lips, the way the sun brought out a reddish tone in his otherwise black hair. Jace was even more beautiful with the sun shining on him.
I eventually closed my eyes as well, enjoying the breeze that offset a little of the heat. My eyes opened suddenly when I heard his chair skid against the cement.
“Fuck it.” He got up. “I’ll be right back.”
My heart raced a little. What is he doing?
A few minutes later, Jace returned in his swim trunks. They were blue with tiny anchors, a nautical pattern. Not that I was looking closely at his lower half or anything. I’d just started to make my way up to his chest when he dove into the pool, his gorgeous, hard body disappearing under the sky blue water.
He emerged and shook his head to clear the water from his hair. “You comin’ in or what?”
I got goose bumps. I hadn’t planned to, but I couldn’t resist the invitation.
“Sure.” I got up from my seat and unwrapped the towel.
Jace watched as I entered the pool. But what was he thinking?
I dove in and swam toward him, feeling more comfortable in my bathing suit now that I was submerged in the water.
He flashed a mischievous grin. “Wanna race?”
I splashed him. “Why? You think you can beat me just cuz your legs are longer?”
He cocked a brow. “There’s only one way to find out, right?”
Over the next several minutes, Jace and I swam in tandem from one end of the pool to the other. Sometimes he’d beat me to the other side, and a few times, I beat him.
Eventually, we got into a water fight. The next thing I knew, he was chasing me, then lifting me up and tossing me in the water. He did that several times. It was the most fun I’d had in a long time. I hadn’t a care in the world.
Then he lifted me up again, and I was certain he was going to toss me into the water, just like all of the other times. Instead, though, he just held me. Our eyes locked as my legs wrapped around his waist. He was going to have to drop me, because I sure as hell wasn’t climbing off him willingly. As he continued to hold me, the world seemed to stop. I could see the reflection of the palm trees in his gorgeous eyes, made luminescent by the sun. Those eyes then dropped to my lips. I could see his chest rising and falling. He swallowed hard. Holy shit. Something was happening. My heart was going a mile a minute.
And then…
“What are you doing?”
Jace dropped me like a hot potato at the sound of Nathan’s voice. My body hit the water with a loud splash.
What the hell is he doing here? My voice was shaky as I wiped the water from my eyes. “Wha…why are you home? I thought you were driving to meet that girl.”
“She canceled on me, so I came back after the job interview.” Nathan’s eyes traveled between Jace and me. He seemed suspicious.
“Oh.” I exhaled, moving a strand of hair out of my mouth. “How…how did the interview go?”
“It was okay. Too hard to tell if they’re gonna call me back, though.” He looked straight at Jace. “You guys seemed to be having fun. Didn’t realize I was missing out on a…pool party.”
Jace was silent.
I felt the need to chime in. “Jace decided to take his debut dip in the pool. We were just playing around.”
Nathan looked between us again. “I see.”
Jace finally spoke. “Well, it’s hot as all hell today. So…”
“You guys down if I make some dinner?” Nathan finally asked.
“We actually already ate,” I told him. “Jace went to Checkers.”
Nathan turned to his friend. “Since when do you eat dinner this early?”
Jace cleared his throat. “I was starving.”
“We didn’t think you were going to be home,” I said. “Otherwise, we would’ve waited.”
“I guess I’ll give you that.”
Jace got out of the water and dried himself off. He then laid out on one of the loungers, displaying his gorgeous, tanned body in all of its glistening glory. His feet dangled off the end of the chair.
Nathan snapped his fingers in front of my face. “I asked if I got anything in the mail. Earth to Farrah.”
Jesus. I hadn’t even heard him the first time.
AUTHOR BIO
Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of contemporary romance.
 
She grew up in Boston with five older brothers and spent most of her twenties as a television news anchor. Penelope resides in Rhode Island with her husband, son, and beautiful daughter with autism.
 
With over two million books sold, she is a 21-time New York Times bestseller and the author of over twenty novels. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages and can be found in bookstores around the world.
AUTHOR LINKS
OTHER BOOKS BY PENELOPE WARD

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
B&N / KOBO / APPLE BOOKS
GOOGLE PLAY / AUDIOBOOK

Excerpt Reveal + Pre-Order + Giveaway: Beneath the Stars by A.L. Jackson

Beneath the Stars Excerpt Blitz

A Friends-to-Lovers Rockstar Romance from A.L. Jackson

Coming February 22nd

image

 

Beneath the Stars is coming 02/22, and I’m thrilled to be a part of the except blitz. Check out the fire that is coming to you in this friends-to-lovers romance!

 

“Just how strong are ya, Mag Pie? Think you can sling me on that back and carry me inside?” He managed to only half slur the words.

Droplets of giddiness dripped into my chest. A well gathering fast. “You’re asking me if I can lift a Mack truck?” 

“Hell, no. Just if you can tackle a stallion.”

He waggled his brows, though it was sloppy and goofy and kind of adorable, and god, how easily I could fall for this man.

Like slipping into quicksand. 

“What would you say if I wanted to try?” I whispered, throat so tight it was difficult to speak. 

He grunted. “I’d say that sounds like a mistake.” 

“I thought you said I needed to make a few mistakes along the way?” I lifted my chin, my eyes searching his face in the darkness.

He forced a grin that felt wholly faked. “Ahhh…a few mistakes are called for. But believe me, baby, you don’t want this kind of tragedy.” 

“Rhys—” 

He shook his head to cut me off. “Don’t.” 

I glanced back at the house. “I really should get Royce. He can help me get you inside.” 

Rhys huffed out a laugh, shoving off the darkness that had gathered around him like a violent storm. He cocked a playful grin. “Think I’ve received my full allotment of death threats from your brother today, thank you very much. I can make it just fine.” 

“Death threats?” 

“Let’s just say he made our boundaries very clear.” He gestured at the bare space between us. “Just so you know, we’re already crossin’ them.” 

I scowled. “When?” 

“Doesn’t matter.” 

I huffed a sigh. 

Freaking Royce. 

“Richard?” I offered instead. 

“Nope. Good as new. Can’t keep a good man down.” His words were all slurry and mushed together.

He hopped up like he was going to prove the point. 

Only he stumbled three feet to the side. 

A goliath who swayed. 

I jumped up and rushed to his side. “Whoa there, cowboy. You keep it up, and you’re definitely going down.”

He leaned against me, slinging his arm over my shoulders. 

The man heavy and hard and pure masculinity. 

He staggered a bit, and I struggled to keep him upright, because holy crap, he was made of brick. 

Suddenly, his nose was in my hair. “Why you gotta smell so good, Mags? And this dress.” 

My brain was short-circuiting with him this close. 

With the words that slipped from his mouth so errantly. 

With the way his fingertips grazed over the silky fabric in the barest brush.

Wildfire. 

It consumed my flesh.

But it was my heart that was at risk. 

 

Pre-Order on Amazon

Add to Goodreads

Audio Live Alert

Want a Signed Paperback? PRE-ORDER HERE

 

Can’t wait for the release? Be sure to vote for BENEATH THE STARS as one of your most anticipated February reads on Goodreads!

Vote Here

 

“AL Jackson wrecked me and put me back together with this book. I fell for Rhys and Maggie’s story from page one!”

-Jessica Prince, Romance Author

 


 

image

 

Pre-Order on Amazon

Add to Goodreads

Audio Live Alert

Want a Signed Paperback? PRE-ORDER HERE


 

GIVEAWAY

Win a Signed Paperback of Kiss the Stars

image

Join A.L. Jackson’s Reader Hangout to Enter

 

Pre-Order on Amazon

Add to Goodreads

Audio Live Alert

Want a Signed Paperback? PRE-ORDER HERE


 

 

image

 

 

A.L. Jackson is the New York Times & USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance. She writes emotional, sexy, heart-filled stories about boys who usually like to be a little bit bad.

Her bestselling series include THE REGRET SERIES, CLOSER TO YOU, BLEEDING STARS, FIGHT FOR ME, CONFESSIONS OF THE HEART, and FALLING STARS novels. Watch out for her upcoming stand-alone, BENEATH THE STARS, releasing February 22nd.

If she’s not writing, you can find her hanging out by the pool with her family, sipping cocktails with her friends, or of course with her nose buried in a book.

Be sure not to miss new releases and sales from A.L. Jackson – Sign up to receive her newsletter http://smarturl.it/NewsFromALJackson or text “aljackson” to 33222 to receive short but sweet updates on all the important news.

 

Connect with A.L.

Newsletter: http://smarturl.it/NewsFromALJackson

Facebook: http://smarturl.it/ALJacksonPage 

Reader Group: http://smarturl.it/AmysAngelsRock 

Amazon: http://smarturl.it/ALJacksonAmzn 

Bookbub: http://smarturl.it/ALJacksonBookbub 

Twitter: @aljacksonauthor 

Instagram: @aljacksonauthor

 

Excerpt Reveal: The Invitation by Vi Keeland

Title: The Invitation
Author: Vi Keeland
Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance
Release Date: January 18, 2021
Excited about Vi Keeland’s upcoming release, The Invitation? Check out this SNEAK PEEK of CHAPTER 1!
CHAPTER 1 

Stella 
“I can’t do this…” I stopped halfway up the marble staircase. 
Fisher paused a few steps ahead of me. He walked back down to where I stood. “Sure you can. Remember the time we were in sixth grade and you had to make that presentation about your favorite president? You were a nervous wreck. You thought you were going to forget everything you’d memorized and be standing there with everyone staring at you.” 
“Yes, what about it?” 
“Well, this is no different. You got through that, didn’t you?” 
Fisher had lost his mind. “My fears all came true that day. I got up in front of the blackboard and started to sweat. I couldn’t remember a single word I’d written. Everyone in the class stared, and then you heckled me.” 
Fisher nodded. “Exactly. Your worst fear came true, and yet you lived to see another day. In fact, that day turned out to be the best day of your life.” 
I shook my head, bewildered. “How so?” 
“That was the first time we’d ever been in the same class. I thought you were just another annoying girl like the rest of them. But after school that day, you ripped into me for teasing you while you were trying to do your presentation. That made me realize you weren’t like the other girls. And that very day I decided we were going to be best friends.” 
I shook my head. “I didn’t speak to you for the rest of the school year.” 
Fisher shrugged. “Yeah, but I won you over the next year, didn’t I? And right now you feel a little calmer than you did two minutes ago, don’t you?” 
I sighed. “I guess I do.” 
He held out his tuxedo-clad elbow. “Shall we go in?” 
I swallowed. As terrified as I was of what we were about to do, I also couldn’t wait to see what the inside of the library looked like all done up for a wedding. I’d spent countless hours sitting on these steps, wondering about the people walking by. 
Fisher waited patiently with his elbow out while I debated another minute. Finally, with another loud sigh, I took his arm. “If we wind up in jail, you’re going to have to come up with the bail money for both of us. I’m way too broke.” 
He flashed his movie-star smile. “Deal.” 
As we climbed the remaining steps to the doors of the New York Public Library, I went over all of the details we’d discussed in the Uber on the way here. Our names for the evening were Evelyn Whitley and Maximilian Reynard. Max was in real estate—his family owned Reynard Properties—and I’d gotten my MBA at Wharton and recently moved back to the City. We both lived on the Upper East Side—at least that part was true. 
Two uniformed waiters wearing white gloves stood at the towering entrance doors. One held a tray of champagne flutes, and the other a clipboard. Though my legs somehow kept going, my heart felt like it was trying to escape from my chest and take off in the opposite direction. 
“Good evening.” The waiter with the clipboard nodded. “May I have your names, please?” 
Fisher didn’t flinch as he doled out the first of what would be a night full of lies. 
The man, who I noticed had an earpiece in, scanned his list and nodded. He held a hand out for us to enter, and his partner handed us each bubbly. “Welcome. The ceremony will take place in the rotunda. Seating for the bride is on your left.” 
“Thank you,” Fisher said. As soon as we were out of earshot, he leaned close. “See? Easy peasy.” He sipped his champagne. “Oooh, this is good.” 
I had no idea how he was so calm. Then again, I also had no idea how he’d managed to talk me into this insanity. Two months ago, I’d come home from work to find Fisher, who was also my neighbor, raiding my refrigerator for leftovers—a common occurrence. As he ate two-day-old chicken Milanese, I’d sat at the kitchen table sorting through my mail and having a glass of wine. While we talked, I’d sliced open the back of an oversized envelope without checking the address on the front. The most stunning wedding invitation had been inside—black and white with raised gold leaf. It was like a gilded work of art. And the wedding was at the New York Public Library, of all places—right near my old office and where I’d often sat and had my lunch on the iconic stairs. I hadn’t visited in at least a year, so I was seriously pumped to get to go to a wedding there. 
Though I’d had no idea whose wedding it was—a distant relative I’d forgotten, maybe? The names weren’t even vaguely familiar. When I turned the envelope over, I quickly realized why. I’d opened my ex-roommate’s mail. Ugh. That figured. It wasn’t me who was invited to a fairytale wedding at one of my favorite places in the world. 
But after a couple of glasses of wine, Fisher had convinced me it should be me going, and not Evelyn. It was the least my deadbeat ex-roommate could do for me, he’d said. After all, she’d snuck out in the middle of the night, taken some of my favorite shoes with her, and the check she’d left behind for the two months of back rent she owed had bounced. At a minimum, I ought to get to attend a ritzy, thousand-dollars-a-plate wedding, rather than her. Lord knew none of my friends were ever getting married at a venue like that. By the time we’d polished off the second bottle of merlot, Fisher had decided we would go in Evelyn’s place—crash the wedding for a fun night out, compliments of my no-good former roomie. Fisher had even filled out the response card, writing that two guests would attend, and slipped it into his back pocket to mail the next day. 
I’d honestly forgotten all about our drunken plans until two weeks ago when Fisher came home with a tuxedo he’d borrowed from a friend for the upcoming nuptials. I’d balked and told him I wasn’t going to crash some expensive wedding for people I didn’t know, and he’d done what he always did: gotten me to think his bad idea wasn’t really that bad. 
Until now. I stood in the middle of the sprawling lobby of what was probably a two-hundred-thousand-dollar wedding and felt like I might literally pee my pants. 
“Drink your champagne,” Fisher said. “It’ll help you relax a bit and put some color back in your cheeks. You look like you’re about to attempt to tell the class why you like John Quincy Adams so much.” 
I squinted at Fisher, though he smiled back, undeterred. I was certain nothing was going to help me loosen up. But nevertheless, I gulped back the contents of my glass. 
Fisher tucked one hand casually into his trouser pocket and looked around with his head held high, like he didn’t have a fear in the world. “I haven’t seen my old friend party animal Stella in a long time,” he said. “Might she come out to play tonight?” 
I handed him my empty champagne flute. “Shut up and go find me another glass before I bolt.” 
He chuckled. “No problem, Evelyn. You just sit tight and try not to blow our cover before we even get to see the beautiful bride.” 
“Beautiful? You don’t even know what she looks like.” 
“All brides look beautiful. That’s why they wear a veil—so you can’t see the ugly ones, and everything is magical on their special day.” 
“That’s so romantic.” 
Fisher winked. “Not everyone can be as pretty as me.” 
Three glasses of champagne helped calm me enough to sit through the wedding ceremony. And the bride definitely didn’t need a veil. Olivia Rothschild—or Olivia Royce, as she would be now—was gorgeous. I got a little teary eyed watching the groom say his vows. It was a shame the happy couple weren’t really my friends, because one of their groomsmen was insanely attractive. I might’ve daydreamed that Livi—that’s what I called her in my head—would fix me up with her new hubby’s buddy. But alas, tonight was a ruse, and I was no Cinderella story. 
The cocktail hour took place in a beautiful room I’d never been in. I studied the artwork on the ceiling as I waited at the bar for my drink. Fisher had told me he needed to use the restroom, but I had a feeling he’d really snuck off to talk to the handsome waiter who had been eyeing him since we’d walked in. 
“Here you go, miss.” The bartender slid a drink over to me. 
“Thank you.” I took a quick look around to see if anyone was paying attention before dipping my nose inside the glass and taking a deep sniff. Definitely not what I ordered. 
“Ummm, excuse me. Is it possible you made this with Beefeater gin and not Hendricks?” 
The bartender frowned. “I don’t think so.” 
I sniffed a second time, now certain he’d made it wrong. 
A man’s voice to my left caught me off guard. “You didn’t even taste it, yet you think he poured the wrong gin?” 
I smiled politely. “Beefeater is made with juniper, orange peels, bitter almond, and blended teas, which produces a licorice taste. Hendricks is made of juniper, rose, and cucumber. There’s a different smell to each.” 
“Are you drinking it straight or on the rocks?” 
“Neither. It’s a gin martini, so it has vermouth.” 
“But you think you can smell that he used the wrong gin, without even tasting it?” The guy’s voice made it clear he didn’t think I could. 
“I have a very good sense of smell.” 
The man looked over my shoulder. “Hey, Hudson, I got a hundred bucks that says she can’t tell the difference between the two gins if we line them up.” 
A second man’s voice came from my right, this one behind my shoulder a bit. The sound was deep, yet velvety and smooth—sort of like the gin the bartender should’ve used to make my drink. 
“Make it two hundred, and you’re on.” 
Turning to get a look at the man willing to wager on my abilities, I felt my eyes widen. 
Oh. Wow. The gorgeous guy from the bridal party. I’d stared at him during most of the wedding. He was handsome from afar, but up close he was breathtaking in a way that made my belly flutter—dark hair, tanned skin, a chiseled jawline, and luscious, full lips. The way his hair was styled—slicked back and parted to the side—reminded me of an old-time movie star. What I hadn’t been able to see from the back row during the ceremony was the intensity of his ocean blue eyes. Those were currently scanning my face like I was a book. 
I cleared my throat. “You’re going to bet two-hundred dollars that I can identify gin?” 
The gorgeous man stepped forward, and my olfactory sense perked up. Now that smells better than any gin. I wasn’t sure if it was his cologne or some sort of a body wash, but whatever it was, it took everything in my power to not lean toward him and take a deep whiff. The sinfully sexy man smelled as good as he looked. That pairing was my kryptonite. 
There was a hint of amusement in his voice. “Are you telling me it’s a bad bet?” 
I shook my head and turned back to speak to his friend. “I’ll play along with your little bet, but I’m in for two hundred, too.” 
When my eyes returned to the handsome man on my right, the corner of his lip twitched just slightly. “Nice.” He lifted his chin to his friend. “Tell the bartender to pour a shot of Beefeater and a shot of Hendricks. Line ’em up in front of her, and don’t let us know which is which.” 
A minute later, I lifted the first shot glass and sniffed. It honestly wasn’t even necessary for me to smell the other, though I did it anyway, just to be safe. Damn… I should’ve bet more. This was too easy, like taking candy from a baby. I slid one shot glass forward and spoke to the waiting bartender. “This one is the Hendricks.” 
The bartender looked impressed. “She’s right.” 
“Damn it,” the guy who had started this game huffed. He dug into his front pocket, pulled out an impressive billfold, and peeled off four hundred-dollar bills. Tossing them in our direction on top of the bar, he shook his head. “I’ll win it back by Monday.” 
Gorgeous Guy smiled at me as he collected his cash. Once I took mine, he lowered his head to whisper in my ear. 
“Nice job.” 
Oh myHis hot breath sent a shiver down my spine. It had been way too long since I’d had contact with a man. Sadly, my knees felt a little weak. But I forced myself to ignore it. “Thank you.” 
He reached around me to the bar and lifted one of the shots. Bringing it to his nose, he sniffed before setting it back down and smelling the other. 
“I don’t smell anything different.” 
“That just means you have a normal sense of smell.” 
“Ah, I see. And yours is…extraordinary?” 
I smiled. “Why yes, it is.” 
He looked amused as he passed me one of the shots and held the other up in toast. “To being extraordinary,” he said. 
I wasn’t generally a shot drinker, but what the hell? I clinked my glass with his before knocking it back. Maybe the alcohol would help settle the nerves this man seemed to have jolted awake. 
I set my empty shot glass on the bar next to his. “I take it this is something the two of you do on a regular basis, since your friend plans to win it back by Monday?” 
“Jack’s family and mine have been friends since we were kids. But the betting started when we went to the same college. I’m a Notre Dame fan, and he’s a USC fan. We were broke back then, so we used to bet a Taser zap on games.” 
“A Taser zap?” 
“His father was a cop. He gave him a Taser to keep under his car seat just in case. But I don’t think he envisioned his son taking hits of fifty-thousand volts when a last-minute interception made his team lose.” 
I shook my head. “That’s a little crazy.” 
“Definitely not our wisest decision. At least I won a lot more than he did. A little brain damage might help explain some of his choices in college.” 
I laughed. “So today was just a continuation of that pattern, then?” 
“Pretty much.” He smiled and extended his hand. “I’m Hudson, by the way.” 
“Nice to meet you. I’m St—” I caught myself in the nick of time. “I’m Evelyn.” 
“So are you a gin aficionado, Evelyn? Is that why I didn’t smell anything different between the two?” 
I smiled. “I wouldn’t consider myself an aficionado of gin, no. To be honest, I mostly drink wine. But did I mention my occupation? I’m a fragrance chemist—a perfumist.” 
“You make perfume?” 
I nodded. “Among other things. I developed scents for a cosmetics and fragrance company for six years. Sometimes it was a new perfume, other times it was the scent for a wipe that removes makeup, or maybe a cosmetic that needs a more pleasant smell.” 
“Pretty sure I never met a perfumist before.” 
I smiled. “Is it as exciting as you’d hoped?” 
He chuckled. “What exactly is the training for a job like that?” 
“Well, I have a chemistry degree. But you can have all the education you want, and you still won’t be able to do the job unless you also have hyperosmia.” 
“And that is…” 
“An enhanced ability to smell odors, an increased olfactory acuity.” 
“So you’re good at smelling shit?” 
I laughed. “Exactly.” 
A lot of people think they have a good sense of smell, but they don’t really understand how heightened the sense is for someone with hyperosmia. Demonstrating always worked best. Plus, I really wanted to know what cologne he was wearing. So, I leaned in and took a deep inhale of Hudson. 
Exhaling, I said, “Dove soap.” 
He didn’t look completely sold. “Yes, but that’s a pretty common soap choice.” 
I smiled. “You didn’t let me finish. Dove Cool Moisture. It’s got cucumber and green tea in it—also a common ingredient in gins, by the way. And you use L’Oreal Elvive shampoo, same as me. I can smell gardenia tahitensis flower extract, rosa canina flower extract, and a slight hint of coconut oil. Oh, and you use Irish Spring deodorant. I don’t think you’re wearing any cologne, actually.” 
Hudson’s brows rose. “Now that’s impressive. The wedding party stayed in a hotel last night, and I forgot to pack my cologne.” 
“Which one do you normally wear?” 
“Ah… I can’t tell you that. What will we do on our second date for entertainment if we don’t play the sniff test?” 
“Our second date? I didn’t realize we were going to have a first.” 
Hudson smiled and held out his hand. “The night’s young, Evelyn. Dance with me?” 
A knot in the pit of my stomach warned me it was a bad idea. Fisher and I were supposed to stick together and limit contact with other people to minimize our chances of getting caught. But glancing around, my date was nowhere in sight. Plus, this man was seriously magnetic. Somehow, before my brain even finished debating the pros and cons, I found myself putting my hand in his. He led me to the dance floor and wrapped one arm around my waist, leading with the other. Not surprisingly, he knew how to dance. 
“So, Evelyn with the extraordinary sense of smell, I’ve never seen you before. Are you a guest or a plus one?” He looked around the room. “Is some guy giving me the evil eye behind my back right now? Am I going to need to get Jack’s Taser from the car to ward off a jealous boyfriend?” 
I laughed. “I am here with someone, but he’s just a friend.” 
“The poor guy…” 
I smiled. Hudson’s flirting was over the top, yet I gobbled it up. “Fisher is more interested in the guy who was passing out champagne than me.” 
Hudson held me a little closer. “I like your date much better than I did thirty seconds ago.” 
Goose bumps prickled my arms as he lowered his head, and his nose briefly brushed against my neck. 
“You smell incredible. Are you wearing one of the perfumes you make?” 
“I am. But it’s not one that can be ordered. I like the idea of having a true signature scent that someone can remember me by.” 
“I don’t think you need the perfume to be remembered.” 
He led me around the dance floor with such grace, I wondered if he had taken professional lessons. Most men his age thought slow dancing meant rocking back and forth and grinding an erection against you. 
“You’re a good dancer,” I said. 
Hudson responded by twirling us around. “My mother was a professional ballroom dancer. Learning wasn’t an option; it was a requirement if I wanted to be fed.” 
I laughed. “That’s really cool. Did you ever consider following in her footsteps?” 
“Absolutely not. I grew up watching her suffer with hip bursitis, stress fractures, torn ligaments—it’s definitely not the glamorous profession they make it out to be on all those dance-contest TV shows. You gotta love what you do for a job like that.” 
“I think you have to love what you do for any job.” 
“That’s a very good point.” 
The song came to an end, and the emcee told everyone to take their seats. 
“Where are you sitting?” Hudson asked. 
I pointed to the side of the room where Fisher and I had been seated. “Somewhere over there. Table Sixteen.” 
He nodded. “I’ll walk you.” 
We approached the table at the same moment as Fisher, who was coming from the other direction. He looked between Hudson and me, and his face asked the question he didn’t say aloud. 
“Umm…this is my friend Fisher. Fisher, this is Hudson.” 
Hudson extended his hand. “Nice to meet you.” 
After shaking with a silent Fisher, who seemed to have forgotten how to speak, he turned to me and took my hand once again. “I should get back to my table with the rest of the wedding party.” 
“Okay.” 
“Save a dance for me later?” 
I smiled. “I’d love to.” 
Hudson turned to walk away and then turned back. As he walked backwards, he called, “In case you pull a Cinderella on me and disappear, what’s your last name, Evelyn?” 
Thankfully, him using my fake name reminded me not to give him my real one as I’d almost done the first time. “It’s Whitley.” 
“Whitley?” 
Oh GodDid he know Evelyn? 
His eyes swept over my face. “Beautiful name. I’ll see you later.” 
“Uhh…okay, sure.” 
When Hudson was barely out of earshot, Fisher leaned close to me. “My name’s supposed to be Maximilian, sweetheart.” 
“Oh my God, Fisher. We have to leave.” 
“Nah.” He shrugged. “It’s no big deal. We made up Maximilian anyway. I’m your plus one. No one knows the name of the person Evelyn brought. Though I still want to play a real estate tycoon.” 
“No, it’s not that.” 
“Then what is it?” 
“We have to leave because he knows…” 
★★★ 

Excited? We are too!
PRE-ORDER LINKS

Please note: There will not be an Amazon ebook pre-order, but it will be available on Amazon on release day.


Sign up for Vi’s mailing list now and be the first one notified when it goes live!
SIGN UP HERE

Do you like texts better than email? Receive text notices of Vi’s new releases by texting the word BOOKS to 77948 You will ONLY receive a text when a new book goes live – no other messages at all!
AUTHOR BIO
Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author. With millions of books sold, her titles have appeared in over a hundred Bestseller lists and are currently translated in twenty-five languages. She resides in New York with her husband and their three children where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.
AUTHOR LINKS