10/31/15

REVIEW + INTERVIEW + GIVEAWAY: NOVEMBER NINE BY COLLEEN HOOVER!!

Title: November 9
Author: Colleen Hoover
Release Date: NOVEMBER 10, 2015!!

SYNOPSIS:
Fallon meets Ben, an aspiring novelist, the day of her scheduled cross-country move. Their untimely attraction leads them to spend Fallon’s last day in L.A. together, and her eventful life becomes the creative inspiration Ben has always sought for his novel. Over time and amidst the various relationships and tribulations of their own separate lives, they continue to meet on the same date every year. Until one day Fallon becomes unsure if Ben has been telling her the truth or fabricating a perfect reality for the sake of the ultimate plot twist.
Can Ben’s relationship with Fallon—and simultaneously his novel—be considered a love story if it ends in heartbreak?
PURCHASE HERE:

If I were to put the emotions I felt while reading this book on a graph chart, it would look like tidal waves. I laughed. I feared. I felt gut-punched. I hoped. I was all over the place. I went in to November 9 completely blind, not even reading the blurb. I never read blurbs, but I'm especially glad I didn't read this one. The unpredictability made this reading experience so beautiful, so much more emotional, so much more angsty. Most romances follow a formula and no matter the path an author takes, you can safely assume where you'll end up. For me, there was nothing predictable about this book. Hoover sets up an epic romance fraught with humor and heartbreak, love and loss... but she peppers it with reminders that this isn't your garden variety romance novel. Woven throughout this meticulously crafted storyline are those moments, those subtle hints reminding the reader that Ben isn't the stereotypical leading man, that a happy ending doesn't have to be the cookie cutter ending it often is, that the tropes we see in romance won't be found within these pages. There was no way to really know where Hoover would take me... where she would take Fallon and Ben... and that might be the most perfect thing about this story.

This is a book for romance readers. I know that doesn't make a lot of sense, but it does. Trust me, it does. Colleen Hoover takes us inside the mind of a writer and a reader in this story, takes all the typical romance cliches we've grown so accustomed to and shakes them up giving them a refreshing believability. Insta-love, angst, damaged, flawed characters, a struggling actress and a blossoming writer, it's all in there but it's crafted in a way that is so deliberate and perfect and honest that there is absolutely nothing cliche about it.

I don't want to get into the plot details because I believe November 9 is best experienced first-hand. Go in blind. It'll be so worth it. However, I will say this. The only flaw I *initially* felt existed in this book was the absence of any awkwardness between Fallon and Ben where one would expect there to be some. Taking into account the time frame, one might expect some hesitation, some awkwardness, some insecurity and it felt a little too...comfortable, too easy. It felt good though. And right. But a tad unrealistic in that one respect. With that said, I take it all back. Never mind. Disregard. Look away. Move along. Nothing to see here, folks. It's like Colleen Hoover knew every thought I'd have while reading this book so she shot down my thoughts before I could finish thinking them. When I thought this book was unrealistic at times, lacking the awkwardness, the authentic reactions in those brief moments that I felt would've made it more believable, Hoover reminded me that I read fiction for the break from reality... to stop expecting realism and enjoy fiction for what it is. And she was right. When I wanted to compare November 9 to other stories I thought were slightly similar, she pointed out all the ways it was so not like those other stories at all. And she was right. When I started to think I knew exactly where this book was going, she reminded me that a story isn't finished until it's done. And she was right. When my stomach hurt not knowing how this story could end, Colleen Hoover reminded me that a happy ending doesn't have to mean that two people end up together, it's still a happy ending as long as those two characters are happy in the end, whether they're together or not. And she was right. It turns out Colleen Hoover was right about all the things, most importantly how to write a completely captivating love story rife with raw emotion, humor, relatable smart characters and even smarter dialogue.

Colleen Hoover's unputdownable, unpredictable, moving depiction of two people whose lives changed forever when their paths converged on November 9 is absolutely nothing like anything she's written before. November 9 is 'equal parts exquisite and excruciating.' It's heart-wrenching and emotionally-taxing but at the same time, laugh-out-loud funny, heart-warming and hopeful. Everything from the timing to the character development to the witty banter to the shocking plot twists were so perfectly executed. All of that in conjunction with Hoover's flawless, unique writing style just put November 9 up there with Maybe Someday and Slammed as one of my top CoHo favorites!!

Jessica's Rating:

· I love that Ben is an aspiring writer but never intends to read a romance novel until Fallon suggests it... and once he does, he finds he rather enjoys them! As both a writer and a reader, WHY do you think men should read romance?

I believe men (and a lot of women) think romance is still the same as when their mommas read it. But contemporary romance centers around so much more than a sappy love story. There are epic plot twists, sometimes action and suspense. So much a guy would love if they could get past the stigma. Some of my favorite things are when I get emails from men whose wives (thank you, wives!) told them to just give one of my books a chance, and they ended up loving it.


· Being a romance author in this ever changing writing climate, can you give us your TOP 5 things a romance author NEVER wants to hear? :-)

Oh, gosh, are you trying to get me in trouble? Lol. I’ll tell you a few things I hear a lot and the responses I sometimes give. Lol.

1) You’re an author? You HAVE to write a story about my life!

Colleen’s response: No one can tell your story better than you.

2) I’ve always wanted to write a book!

Colleen’s response: I’ve always wanted to write a book too, so I did. A lot of times. What’s stopping you?

3) Your stories would be better if they had less swear words in them.

Colleen’s response: I write realistic fiction. People fucking cuss in real life.


· I highlighted the hell out of November 9. There's so many beautiful, thought-provoking quotable lines in this book!!! Can you share a few of your favorites?

I think one of my favorites is a sad one from Fallon. “Why didn’t you tell me that the foundation you taught me to stand on was made from quicksand?”



Colleen Hoover is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Slammed, This Girl, Point of Retreat, Hopeless, Losing Hope, Finding Cinderella, Maybe Someday, Ugly Love, Maybe Not, and Confess. She lives in Texas with her husband and their three boys.



ANY INFO ON NOVEMBER NINE CAN BE FOUND HERE! As well as tour dates


WANT TO WIN A PAPERBACK OF NOVEMBER NINE?! 

10/28/15

REVIEW: LUX BY COURTNEY COLE!!

Title: Lux
Author: Courtney Cole
Release Date: AVAILABLE NOW!!

SYNOPSIS:
LET THERE BE LIGHT.
My name is Calla Price and I’m broken.
My pieces are all around me, floating on the wind, even as I desperately try to grasp them.
Who is dead? Alive? Insane?
What is the truth?
I don’t know.
I do know this: The darkness is strangling me. With every breath, I choke on another lie.
My mind has protected me, but that shield will soon be lowered.
All will be revealed.
Every answer to every question.
It’s all been leading to this.
Don’t be afraid.
Be terrified.
PURCHASE HERE:

Lux, the final installment in the Nocte trilogy, is the end. The die has been cast and now the time has come for truth. Lux is the pieces of Calla's shattered mind slowly fighting to piece together that truth. Or as much truth as can be found in her fractured mind's memory. Finn tells Calla that she must go back to the beginning, that death is the beginning. This story is that journey back to the beginning. To the truth. To discovering what's real. To separating fact from lunacy. Or at least, I think it is.

While Lux is the story of the truth coming into the light, it's still very much a story told in riddles. It's confusion and chaos and craziness written in a wickedly stunning style. Lux is the finishing touches on the puzzle but it's still puzzling, still unclear, still unpredictable. The more I believed I understood, the more confused I became. Lux is a dark and twisted wonderland where lies are the truth and dreams are real and lunacy is contrived. Up is down and down is up and nothing is as it seems. It's pointless to try to piece together anything because nothing makes sense until it does. This road has been littered with lies and loss and pain and fear and the destination is unknown.

I'm not sure I can say with absolute certainty that I truly understand what the heck I just read. My brain hurts from processing and theorizing and mentally rewinding. I think I get it, but this story is wacked. It's a cluster of confusion, psychological turmoil, and absolute terror. I'm convinced that I know what it must feel like to feel insane after reading this series, to not trust your own mind, to see and hear and feel things that may or may not be real and not trust one's own instincts to decide. This whole story is a mind-bender of epic proportions. It's unputdownable, it's captivating, it's beautifully written. I just can't decide if Courtney Cole is mad or brilliant. I think both and that's fine by me.

Jessica's Rating:

COVER + EXCERPT REVEAL: THIRD BASE BY HEIDI MCLAUGHLIN!!

Title: Third Base
Author: Heidi McLaughlin
Release Date: NOV 4, 2015!!

SYNOPSIS:
Ethan Davenport is already Boston’s most eligible bachelor, in his second season with the Boston Renegades and has eyes for the girl behind the visitors’ dugout who has been staring at him for a year.
That girl is Daisy Robinson, a journalism student at the University of Boston, a die-hard Renegades fan and determined to give Ethan a run for his money. He knows in order to have a chance with her, he needs to change his ways but he may just need her to wait until the off-season.
But with new found love comes challenges and Ethan and Daisy have to deal with his crazy schedule, school finals and his presence on her campus for some much needed media training. For Ethan nothing can come between him and Daisy, until a secret that she’s been keeping threatens to destroy them both.
“Someone’s dogging ya,” Kidd says as he nods behind me. I can hear my name being called, but I don’t want to look because he’s likely up to something. The fact that my name is being called means nothing, since the kids are always trying to get us to sign things, give them a bat during the game or even look at them. It was a thrill when it happened to me so I know what it’s like to get attention from your favorite player, let alone any player.

“Just a fan, I’m assuming,” I say, shrugging him off and focusing on Mackenzie’s at bat.

He shakes his head and starts laughing. “A super fan,” he says, nodding behind me again. “You might want to turn around.”

“You might want to pay attention to the game. Mackenzie could hit a foul ball and smack you in the tallywacker.”

“Jesus Davenport, just turn the hell around.”

I roll my eyes and finally give in, but only halfheartedly. I look over my left shoulder and see no one calling me and over my right to find the same thing.

“Don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Kidd swings the bat a few times before he stops because Mackenzie has a hit and is now on first base. “Turn all the way around, Davenport. Stop being a bitch.”

I do as he says and I’m met with a pair of green eyes that I have burnt into my memory. She’s sitting behind our dugout in the center seat. She stands and points to her shirt. The front of it says, “I’m sorry”. I can’t help the stupid ass grin that is plastered all over my face.

I lean forward, resting my hands on the edge of the dugout. “Are you busy after the game?”

“No,” Daisy says with a smile.

“You are now,” I say, not caring that I’m probably jumping the gun and assuming she wants to see me. It’s not a guess; I know she does. “Stay right there and I’ll come get you when the game is over.”

Before I know it, we’re on the Jumbo Tron with hearts all around our picture. She covers her face and I turn back to the game, only to turn around and wave my hat at the section she’s in. They roar with cheers and start chanting my name.

We win, nine to one. I had a few more base hits and some RBI’s to add to our run count. Every Renegade player had at least one base hit. It’s odd when that happens, but we take it and run with it when it does. As soon as I enter the clubhouse the reporters are there. They call my name and instead of going to them, they come over to me and shove their microphones into my face as soon as I sit down.

“Ethan, you made a pretty big display of affection today during the game. Do you care to tell us about your girlfriend?”

“Yeah, sure,” I say, running my hand through my hair. “I’ve been in love with her for as long as I can remember. She means everything to me.” Suddenly their microphones are even more in my face.

“What’s her name?”

“Baseball!”

I wish I had a camera at this exact moment so I can capture their expressions as they all deadpan at my answer. They’re stupid if they think I’m going to say anything about Daisy. We have a long road ahead of us and the last thing we need is the media hounding us. I do enough stupid shit that brings us plenty of attention. We don’t need any more.

The reporters don’t like me much after that answer, not that I can blame them. Kidd punches me in the shoulder and winks at me.

Heidi is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author.

Originally from Portland, Oregon and raised in the Pacific Northwest, she now lives in picturesque Vermont, with her husband and two daughters. Also renting space in their home is an over-hyper Beagle/Jack Russell, Buttercup, and their newest addition of a Highland Westie/Mini Schnauzer, JiLL.

During the day Heidi is behind a desk talking about Land Use. At night, she's writing one of the many stories planned for release or sitting court-side during either daughter's basketball games.

10/27/15

REVIEW + EXCERPT + GIVEAWAY: SURVIVING ICE BY K.A. TUCKER!!

Title: Surviving Ice
Author: K.A. Tucker. 
Release Date: OCTOBER 27, 2015!!

SYNOPSIS:
The USA TODAY bestselling author of the Ten Tiny Breaths series and Burying Water—which Kirkus Reviews called “a sexy, romantic, gangster-tinged page-turner”—returns with a new novel packed with romance, plot twists, and psychological suspense.
Ivy Lee, a talented tattoo artist who spent the early part of her twenties on the move, is looking for a place to call home. She thinks she might have finally found it working in her uncle’s tattoo shop in San Francisco. But all that changes when a robbery turns deadly, compelling her to pack up her things yet again.
When they need the best, they call him. That’s why Sebastian Riker is back in California, cleaning up the mess made after a tattoo shop owner with a penchant for blackmail got himself shot. But it’s impossible to get the answers he needs from a dead body, leaving him to look elsewhere. Namely, to the twenty-something-year-old niece who believes this was a random attack. Who needs to keep believing that until Sebastian finds what he’s searching for.
Ivy has one foot out of San Francisco when a chance encounter with a stranger stalls her departure. She’s always been drawn to intense men, so it’s no wonder that she now finds a reason to stay after all, quickly intoxicated by his dark smile, his intimidating strength, and his quiet control.
That is, until Ivy discovers that their encounter was no accident—and that their attraction could be her undoing.
PURCHASE HERE:
I feel like it was just yesterday that I found out KA Tucker was beginning the first book in a new series, that series being Burying Water. How it can be that I just finished reading the LAST book in that series, I don't know!! I'm sad. This series is my absolute favorite from this author, weaving together crime and unpredictability, danger and love. But what a way to go, Ms Tucker. Surviving Ice was so great, rife with complex characters navigating an even more complex storyline. I loved it. LOVED it!

Ivy and Sebastian feel doomed from the start, their relationship born out of deceit and fear. But through the lies, there's no denying a true blue attraction exists. The chemistry and sexual tension between the two keeps this ill-fated romance on a precarious line between sweet and sexy and dark and doomed.

Ivy is an artist. She draws, she tattoos, she tags walls with graffiti in the middle of the night. She's unlike any of the female characters in previous books in this series. She's a wanderer. And now she's trying to pick up the pieces after a traumatic event before taking off once again. Sebastian is a liar. Well... more accurately, he's lying by omission. He walks into Ivy's life under the pretense of merely wanting some ink, when in reality, he's on a job, targeting Ivy to see what she knows about the events that lead to the death of her uncle. The situation is dangerous, the chemistry is on fire, and the uncertainty and unpredictability of the future of these characters kept me on the edge of my seat.

Sebastian is "Ice," cold and hardened and determined. Ivy is the perfect counterpart to this stone-faced ex-navy Seal. Just like her name, she's wild and free and untamed. He's closed off, impenetrable, she's stubborn and fierce. They're polar opposites in many ways, yet they fit. He grounds her, she adds color to his life. And as beautiful and perfectly imperfect as their dynamic is, there's no way this can end well.

Despite the serious tone of this story, despite the fact that Ivy's life is in peril and she has no idea, despite the likelihood of Sebastian's lies coming to light and demolishing any romantic possibility between he and Ivy, this story is peppered with humor and lightness. Secondary characters like Dakota, Fez and homeless Jono bring laugh out loud one-liners to an otherwise ominous story. They lighten up the heavy with their witty banter and refreshing dialogue. Ivy and Sebastian too, despite their grave circumstances, have a lightness between them, a fun, sexy, flirty attraction that one can only hope has a chance of surviving after everything comes crashing down. Through their sarcastic, sexy exchanges and the undeniable pull between them, the reader along with these characters, is granted brief reprieves from the gravity of this story to bask in the hope and romance of it before they're quickly reminded of the danger lurking once again.

I love this series so much, love the way Tucker has woven together these storylines surrounding interconnected characters while ensuring each book feels original and unexpected and new. Tucker's writing in this book is just delicious. Ivy and Sebastian consumed me in a way that I did not see coming. I have loved this entire series, some books standing out more than others. Well I'll say it now, Surviving Ice stands out. These characters are so perfectly developed, so thoroughly fleshed out. Artistic Ivy with her shaved hair and her sharp tongue, protective Sebastian with his chiseled body and his dangerous nature, together they are fireworks. They're magnetic. They are pent up aggression, lit fuses, saturated clouds, brimming volcanoes, and you just know that when they let go it's going to be extraordinary. This story was exactly what I was in the mood to read and I didn't even know it. It satisfied a craving I didn't know I was hungry for and now I just want more and more and more. Danger. Lust. Fear. Betrayal. Sensuality. Deceit. It's all here, woven together behind stunning prose, enigmatic characters and an unputdownable storyline. You know when you open a KA Tucker book, you're getting something good, but Surviving Ice wasn't just good. It was phenomenal.

Jessica's Rating:

It’s just a regular ringtone. For me, though, it’s the wail of a war siren, and I’m immediately alert. There is only one person who has this number, and I didn’t expect him to use it again so soon.

The tile is cool against my bare feet as I roll out of bed. I collect the phone from the nightstand with one fluid movement, unhindered by sheets or the morning sluggishness that an average person might face. Stepping through the propped-open patio doors and onto the balcony, I answer with a low, curt “Yeah.” The sky is just beginning to lighten over the quiet bay. Dozens of boats sit moored below, their passengers lulled into deep sleep by the ocean air and rhythmic waves. I’m high enough up that I’m not likely to offend anyone with my lack of clothing, especially at this hour. Not that I’m truly concerned by it.

“Ice.”

The code name is a sharp contrast to the warm breeze skating across my bare skin. My adrenaline begins to spike, all the same. Hearing it means that I will be forced to leave this haven soon. Sooner than I had hoped.

“How is recovery going?”

I instinctively peer down at the angry red scar on the outside of my thigh, where a bullet drilled into my flesh and muscle just three weeks ago, outside of Kabul. I nearly bled out before I made it to the doc. He patched me up on a makeshift operating table, buried deep in a maze of rooms, and charged me a hefty price.

“Like new,” I lie.

“Good.” Bentley’s voice is rich and smooth, a welcome sound in a sea of strangers. “Where are you now?”

I peer out over the beautiful vista of crystal blue water and whitewashed stone buildings, the volcanic rock cliffs in the distance, reluctant to divulge my location. I sank a good chunk of my last payout on renting this one-bedroom villa for the month. It’s my private sanctuary, where I can revel in anonymity and peace for a while, before finding somewhere else to drift to.

Bentley has never asked before.

But he also has the technical capabilities to trace this call. If he really wants to find out, then he will. In fact, the second I picked up, he probably already had his answer. “Where do I need to be?” I say instead.

“San Francisco.”

Born in small-town Ontario, K.A. Tucker published her first book at the age of six with the help of her elementary school librarian and a box of crayons. She currently resides in a quaint town outside of Toronto with her husband, two beautiful girls, and an exhausting brood of four-legged creatures.



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10/26/15

EXCERPT: UNTIL I MET YOU BY S.L. SCOTT!!!

Title: Until I Met You
Author: S.L. Scott
Release Date: AVAILABLE NOW!!

SYNOPSIS:
From New York Times Bestselling Author, S. L. Scott, comes this brand new stand-alone romance.
Their love burned bright, white hot, and strikingly blue around the edges.
Some thought them careless.
Some thought them crazy.
No one approved.
Taylor Barrett was looking for answers in a universe that had abandoned him.
Jude Boehler flooded her dark world with charisma and mystery, drawing everyone into her hurricane.
It was a most captivating of love affairs. They were shooting stars, meteors in the sky, colliding to create a spectacularly wonderful reckless romance, leaving them breathless and tethered.
Their souls were exposed to the chaos, bare and vulnerable. Can these two star-crossed lovers survive the madness that is life?
PURCHASE HERE:
“Do you want ice cream?”

She hit him with one surprise after another, and he replied, “It’s freezing out here. How about a coffee?”

“I don’t like coffee.”

“Wow, a New Yorker who doesn’t like coffee.” Taking her by the arm, he stopped her. “Are you going to tell me anything about yourself?”

“I just told you I don’t like coffee. That’s something.”

He sighed. “I’m serious, Jude.”

His emotional sigh was wearing on her and she gave him the most honest answer she could. “Not if I can get away with it.”

He looked into her blue eyes. Under a bright fluorescent light of a convenience store, he could see they were tinged in green with champagne centers. They were the most unique eyes he had ever seen. She was the most unique woman he had ever met. Now he felt bad for making her unhappy, so he broke his gaze away. “Fine. I’ll limit my questions.” And just to see her smile again, he said, “Ice cream it is.”

She jumped for joy. “I know a great place a few blocks from here.”

“Should we catch a cab?”

“No, I love the snow. It’s magical.”

Looking down the street and then back to her, he started wondering when he’d stopped seeing magic in the world. He could probably guess, but he didn’t want to think about that time.

A half hour later, his hands were frozen but he still found himself eating pistachio ice cream with Jude for dinner. He bought the treats and joined her at a booth where she was contentedly licking her rocky road. As soon as he sat down, she asked, “I think you can tell everything you need to know about a person by their favorite ice cream flavor.”

S.L. Scott is a former high-tech account manager with a journalism degree pursuing her passion for telling stories. She spends her days escaping into her characters and letting them lead her on their adventures. 

Live music shows, harvesting jalapenos and eating homemade guacamole are her obsessions she calls hobbies.

Scott lives in the beautiful Texas hill country of Austin with her husband, two young sons, two Papillons and a bowl full of Sea Monkeys. 

Her novels include Naturally, Charlie, Good Vibrations, and A Prior Engagement.

She welcomes your notes at sl@slscottauthor.com.

10/22/15

REVIEW + EXCERPT + GIVEAWAY: DIRTY ENGLISH BY ILSA MADDEN MILLS!!!!

Title: Dirty English
Author: Ilsa Madden Mills
Release Date: AVAILABLE NOW!!
Series: Standalone. 

SYNOPSIS:
A scarred fighter.
A girl with rules.
One night of unbridled passion.
There are three things you need to know about Elizabeth Bennett: she’s smart as a whip, always in control, and lives by a set of carefully crafted rules. She’s learned the hard way that people you love the most always hurt you in the end.
But then she meets Declan Blay, the new neighbor at her apartment complex.
A tattooed British street fighter, he’s the campus bad boy she’s supposed to avoid, but when he saves her from a frat party gone bad, all her rules about sex and love fly out the window.
She gives him one night of unbridled passion, but he longs for more.
With only a cardboard-thin wall separating their bedrooms, he dreams of possessing the vulnerable girl next door forever.
One night. Two damaged hearts. The passion of a lifetime.
PURCHASE HERE:
 I've read all of Ilsa Madden-Mills previous books and I've enjoyed them, some more than others. Given that, I had no idea what to expect with new standalone, Dirty English. I had no idea where this story would fit on the spectrum with her previous books. Well I'm excited to say that Dirty English is a memorable, addictive, fast-paced, edge of your seat, sexy romance that is officially one of my favorites from this author.

The prologue in this book is a sucker punch right out of the gate. It's infuriating and heartbreaking and so so so wrong. The events in that prologue, what happened to Elizabeth Bennett that day, is the catalyst for everything that transpires in Dirty English .. who she is, why she is the way she is, and what that all means for Declan Blay.

Declan is completely magnetic. He's British, he's an underground fighter with family issues, and he's unbelievably delicious with those tattoos and that body and that brooding persona. Yes, I was captivated immediately. He and Elizabeth are like the yin and yang, seemingly opposite, clashing and verbally sparring at every turn... yet they fit in such a perfectly unexpected way.

I really enjoyed this fast-paced romance. Dirty English is packed full of sexual tension, angst, drama and magnetic characters. While I felt there were times that the dialogue drifted into the realm of unrealistic, for the most part I remained wholly consumed by this storyline. Ilsa Madden-Mills crafts a layered plot around well developed characters with intriguing personalities and difficult pasts. The build in this story was very refreshing. I so appreciate a story that isn't overrun with sex for the sake of sex, but rather sensuality and the cultivation of authentic chemistry. The connection between Declan and Elizabeth was a tumultuous one, but it was so real and raw and honest. It was never easy, the road bumpy, the drama never ending, the sexual tension steaming... I loved that. I didn't even know I was in the mood for an angsty college romance until I opened this book and then I couldn't put it down.

Jessica's Rating:

 “Come to my apartment and spend the night with me.” I touched his face, my fingers stroking the softness of his sensuous lips. “Just one night and we can make this shitty world disappear.”
He exhaled. “A one-night stand?”
“Yeah.”
He cupped my chin. “Someone hurt you, didn’t they?”
My lips tightened. No one at Whitman knew about Colby except for Shelley and Blake, and I sure as hell wasn’t telling him. He’d judge me like everyone else had in Petal, North Carolina. “That’s none of your business.”
“I see.” His eyes searched mine until I felt like a bug under a microscope. “What if I wanted more than just one night?”
“Then your hands can let go of my hips now.”
He removed his hands slowly, the tips of his fingers grazing mine. “This may surprise you, but I don’t sleep with every girl I kiss.”
I’d been rejected. Again. “Blake said you got around, that you used—”
“And you believed him?” His voice was incredulous. “Dude is in love with you and he saw exactly how we looked at each other tonight—”
Looked at each other? What are you talking about? You refused to dance with me and then you ran off with your girlfriend. Not to mention I just kissed you and you didn’t even care.” I threw my hands up.
“I wanted to fuck you the minute you walked in that party,” he snapped.
“Then why don’t you,” I bit out, tossing back my shoulders.
“You think you want me?” he said tightly. “You can’t handle me, Elizabeth. I can see it in your eyes. You’re scared of something, maybe not me, but something.”
My eyes went to his black eye.
He let out a harsh laugh. “Ah, that’s what you’re afraid of. You want the real truth? You told me tonight you didn’t like violence, but I’m an arsehole who uses his fists. That’s who I am.”
“What do you mean?”
His gaze was intense, dark and low, his face struggling as he fought to find the right words. “I’m in a fight club for money. I show up at warehouses and fight other blokes. Sometimes I beat them so bad they need medical attention. A few times, I’ve been beat to unconsciousness. I’m everything you need to stay away from.”
I inhaled, anger and lust and excitement all riding me. Anger that he was pushing me away, lust for the alpha male in him, and God help me, the fighting thing repelled me and excited me at the same time. “I don’t want to stay away from you. I want you to fuck me and stop making excuses for why you can’t.”
My words seemed to snap his taut restraint.
He pulled me back in his arms, his lips fusing with mine unerringly. His tongue plundered me in a sensual way my body had craved for years. I wrapped my arms around his neck, my anger morphing into all-out desire as he turned us and pressed me against the wall.
Yes, yes, this is what I craved.
A passion to remind me that I was real, not just some sad excuse of a girl who chose to exist on scraps of love.
Before I knew it, he’d shoved my robe off, his hands sculpting my shoulders, massaging them as he ravaged my mouth. I reveled in the warmth of his hand on my neck as his mouth skated down, kissing the hollows of my throat, sucking on my collarbone.
“Like this?” he asked, his voice dark and gravelly. “You want me to take you up against this wall?”
“Yes,” I moaned. Gone. Past caring as long as he kept his hands on me.
Out of control, my brain whispered, but I beat back the dark warnings as his warm hand found my breast and squeezed, his fingers rolling my nipple between his thumb and forefinger.
I gasped in pleasure and arched my back to get closer to his body, ignoring the fear that pricked at the surface.
The rules girl in my head stamped her foot and yelled at me. I ignored her.
But even if I wanted to stop right now, I couldn’t. My tongue tangled wildly with his, my hands pulled at his hair, spurring him on, his hand palming my breast and then tugging. Sharp sensations of need went straight to my core.
“Is this what you want? Something quick where we just take what we want and forget each other the next day?”
No. Not that. Not like the way he said it, like it was something dirty.
“Yes, like that,” I whispered against his shoulder, my mouth on his skin, tasting him as my teeth bit down.



New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Ilsa Madden-Mills writes about strong heroines and sexy alpha males that sometimes you just want to slap.

She's addicted to all things fantasy, including unicorns and sword-wielding heroes in books. Other fascinations include frothy coffee beverages, dark chocolate, Instagram, Ian Somerhalder (seriously hot), astronomy (she's a Gemini), Sephora make-up, and tattoos. 

She has a degree in English and a Master's in Education.

When she's not pecking away on her computer, she shops for cool magnets, paints old furniture, and eats her weight in sushi.



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10/21/15

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT REVEAL: PRETTY WHEN YOU CRY BY SKYE WARREN!!

Title: Pretty When you Cry
Series: Stripped (Bk #3)
Author: Skye Warren
Release Date: OCT 20, 2015!!

SYNOPSIS:
“Dark, perverse, and unbearably erotic, Pretty When You Cry is Skye Warren at her gritty best.”
~ Anna Zaires, USA Today bestselling author of Twist Me
A new dark romance novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Wanderlust and Prisoner…
I came from a place of dirt floors and holy scriptures. They told me the world outside was full of sin, and the first night I escape, I find out it’s true. Ivan saves me, but he does more than that. He takes me. He makes me his own girl.
My conditioning runs too deep. Ivan sees what I am.
That’s the thing about showing a mouse to a cat. He wants to play. And it’s terrifying, even for me. Because the only thing darker than my past is his.
STRIPPED SERIES PURCHASE HERE:
 "We are made of the same thing, he and I. Of sin and hope, of power and pleasure."

Skye Warren delivers the most flawless, most beautifully written stories about the dirtiest, most gritty, darkest aspects of life.  Her horrifying depictions of violence, sexual depravity and damaged, broken souls are exquisitely dark and brutally brilliant.  Pretty When You Cry is the most recent installment in this twisted series about utterly ruined characters who find their way back to life and it completely shattered me.

This story is unlike anything I've ever read. In a reading climate where everything tends to me much of the same, I so appreciate an author taking things outside the box. It's an added bonus when an outside the box, refreshingly different story is layered with enigmatic characters, and stunningly beautiful writing. Skye Warren truly stuns with her rich, fluid writing style and decadent prose in this book. 

I'll be completely honest here and admit that Ivan, the owner of the Grand, was never really a blip on my radar before opening this book. He was always a mystery, an intrigue, but for the most part, fairly invisible as I read the other stories in this series. Now I sit here and wonder how that was. How I wasn't wholly mesmerized all along by this terrifyingly volatile man. Candy, too, was not a character I was particularly interested in getting a back story on and upon reading Pretty When You Cry, I can't imagine a character more captivating, more interesting, more thoroughly fleshed out. The dynamic between these characters was jarring. Perhaps they knew all along where they stood with each other, but I was stumped, continually guessing, perpetually confused by their obvious chemistry and unorthodox relationship. 

This erotic, darkly intoxicating, brutal story was wholly consuming from start to finish. Pretty When You Cry is difficult to read at times, oddly joyful at others but always captivating,  always gripping. Warren consistently keeps her reader and her characters teetering on that blurry line between rightness and wrongness, discomfort and satisfaction. Even the most exquisite happy endings are marred with the harsh truths of the past, the darkness and the brokenness of these characters. But Skye Warren sends her characters off in the most perfect ways, toward a happily-ever-after that might not be perfect in the classic sense of the word, but perfect for them. Right. Consistent with who they are and where they've been. I can't decide if I have a favorite book in this series as I've thoroughly enjoyed them all, been shaken by them all. But I'd say this story might be the most beautifully written and undeniably the most memorable. 

Jessica's Rating:

So far, a city looks exactly how I thought it would—gutted buildings and dark alleys.

A den of wickedness.

This morning I woke up on my floor mat in Harmony Hills. Sunlight streamed through the window while dust rose up to meet it. The white walls somehow kept their color despite rough dirt floors.

A desperate trek through the woods and a series of bus rides later, I made it to a city. This city. Tanglewood. It could have been anywhere. They’re all the same, all sinful, all scary—and the only thing that makes this one special is that I ran out of money for bus tickets.

My shoes are made of white canvas, already fraying and black from the grime of the streets. I made these shoes by hand when I turned twelve, and the heel on the left side has never fit quite right. But the bamboo soles lasted for years in the hills. Now they’re cracking against concrete. I can feel every lump in the pavement, every loose rock, every rounded hump as the sidewalk turns to cobblestone and then back again.

That’s not the worst part.

There’s someone following me. Maybe more than one person. I try to listen for the footsteps, but it’s hard to hear over the pounding in my ears, the thud of my heart against my chest. Panic is a tangible force in my head, a gritty quicksand that threatens to pull me down.

I could end up on my knees before this night is over.

But I don’t think I’ll be saying my evening prayers.

Men are standing outside a gate that hangs open on its hinges. They fall silent as I walk close. I tighten my arms where they are folded over my chest and look down. If I can’t see them, they can’t see me. It wasn’t true when I was little, and it’s not true now.

One of them steps in front of me.

My breath catches, and I stop walking. My whole body is trembling by the time I meet his eyes, bloodshot red in a shadowed face. “What’s your name?” he asks in a gravelly voice.

I jerk my head. No.

“Now that’s not very polite, is it?” Another one steps closer, and then I smell him. They couldn’t have showered in the past day or even week.

Cleanliness is a virtue.

Being quiet and obedient and small is a virtue too. “I’m sorry. I just want to—”

I don’t know what comes next. I want to run. I want to hide. I want to pretend the past sixteen years as a disciple of the Harmony Hills never happened. None of that is possible when I’m surrounded by men. I take a step back and bump into another man. Hands close around my arms.

A sound escapes me—fear and protest. It’s more than I would have done this morning, that sound.

I’m turned to face the man behind me. He smiles a broken-toothed smile. “Doesn’t matter what you want, darling.”

My mouth opens, but I can’t scream. I can’t scream because I’ve been taught not to. Because I know no one will come. Because the consequences of crying are worse than what will happen next.

Then the man’s eyes widen in something like fear. It’s a foreign expression on his face. It doesn’t belong. I wouldn’t even believe it except he takes a step back.

My chest squeezes tight. What’s behind me? Who is behind me that could have inspired that kind of fear? The men surrounding me are monsters, but they’re backing off now, stepping away, hands up in surrender. No harm done, that’s what they’re saying without words.

I whirl and almost slip on a loose cobblestone.

The man standing in front of me is completely still. That’s the first thing I notice about him—before I see the fine cut of his black suit or the glint of a silver watch under his cuff. Before I see the expression on his face, devoid of compassion or emotion. Devoid of humanity.

“We didn’t know she worked for you,” one of the men mumbles.

They’re still backing up, forming a circle around us, growing wider. I’m in the middle. I’m the drop, and the men around me form a ripple. Then they fade into the blackness and are gone.

It’s just me and the man in the suit.

He hasn’t spoken. I’m not sure he’s going to. I half expect him to pull out a gun from somewhere underneath that smooth black fabric and shoot me. That’s what happens in the city, isn’t it? That’s what everyone told me about the outside world, how dangerous it is. And even while some part of me had nodded along, had believed them, another part of me had refused.

There had to be beauty outside the white stucco walls. Beauty that wasn’t contained and controlled. Beauty with color. Only apparently I was wrong. I haven’t seen anything beautiful—except him.

He’s beautiful in a strange and sinful way, one that makes me more afraid. Not colorful exactly. His eyes are a gray color I’ve never seen before, both deep and opaque at the same time. The building itself is beautiful too with its wrought iron gate around a large courtyard. The fountain in the center is broken, but that only adds to the mystique.

The marquee sign reads Grand, a flash of neon pink against the black night.

He steps closer, the light from the sign illuminating his face, making him look even more sinister. “What’s your name?”

I couldn’t answer those other men, but I find something inside for him. I find truth. “I’m not allowed to say my name to someone else.”

He studies me for a long moment, taking in my tangled hair and my white dress. “Why not?”

Because God will punish me. “Because I’m running away.”

He nods like this is what he expected. “Do you have money?”

I have twenty dollars left after bus fare. “Enough.”

His lips twist, and I wonder if that’s what a smile looks like on him. It’s terrifying. “No, you don’t,” he says. “The question is, what would you do to earn some?”

Anything.

My voice is just a whisper. “I’m a good girl.”

He laughs, and I see that I was wrong before. That wasn’t a smile. It was a taunt. A challenge. This is a real smile, one with teeth. The sound rolls through me like a coming storm, deep and foreboding.

“I know,” he says gently. “What’s your name?”

“Candace.”

He studies me. “Pretty name.”

His voice is deep with promise and something else I can’t decipher. All I know is he isn’t really talking about my name. And I know it isn’t really a compliment. “Thank you.”

“Now come inside, Candace.”

He turns and walks away before I can answer. I can feel the night closing in on me, the sharks in the water waiting to strike. It’s not really a choice. I think the man knows that. He’s counting on it. Whatever is going to happen inside will be bad, and the only thing worse is what would have happened outside.

I hurry to catch up with him, almost running across the crumbled driveway, under the marquee sign for the Grand, past the broken fountain, desperate for the dubious safety of the man who could hold the darkness at bay. It’s the same thing that kept me in Harmony Hills for so long—fear and twisted gratitude.
Skye Warren is the New York Times bestselling author of dark romance such as Wanderlust and Prisoner. Praised as a “true mistress of dark erotica”, her books have been featured in Jezebel, Buzzfeed, USA Today Happily Ever After, Glamour, and Elle Magazine. She makes her home in Houston, Texas, with her loving family, three dogs, and one evil cat.

10/20/15

NEW RELEASE ALERT: PRETTY WHEN YOU CRY BY SKYE WARREN!!

Title: Pretty When you Cry
Series: Stripped (Bk #3)
Author: Skye Warren
Release Date: OCT 20, 2015!!

SYNOPSIS:
“Dark, perverse, and unbearably erotic, Pretty When You Cry is Skye Warren at her gritty best.”
~ Anna Zaires, USA Today bestselling author of Twist Me
A new dark romance novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Wanderlust and Prisoner…
I came from a place of dirt floors and holy scriptures. They told me the world outside was full of sin, and the first night I escape, I find out it’s true. Ivan saves me, but he does more than that. He takes me. He makes me his own girl.
My conditioning runs too deep. Ivan sees what I am.
That’s the thing about showing a mouse to a cat. He wants to play. And it’s terrifying, even for me. Because the only thing darker than my past is his.
STRIPPED SERIES PURCHASE HERE:



Skye Warren is the New York Times bestselling author of dark romance such as Wanderlust and Prisoner. Praised as a “true mistress of dark erotica”, her books have been featured in Jezebel, Buzzfeed, USA Today Happily Ever After, Glamour, and Elle Magazine. She makes her home in Houston, Texas, with her loving family, three dogs, and one evil cat.