Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Mistake (Off-Campus #2) by Elle Kennedy


What it’s about
He’s a player in more ways than one…

College junior John Logan can get any girl he wants. For this hockey star, life is a parade of parties and hook-ups, but behind his killer grins and easygoing charm, he hides growing despair about the dead-end road he’ll be forced to walk after graduation. A sexy encounter with freshman Grace Ivers is just the distraction he needs, but when a thoughtless mistake pushes her away, Logan plans to spend his final year proving to her that he’s worth a second chance.

Now he’s going to need to up his game…

After a less than stellar freshman year, Grace is back at Briar University, older, wiser, and so over the arrogant hockey player she nearly handed her V-card to. She’s not a charity case, and she’s not the quiet butterfly she was when they first hooked up. If Logan expects her to roll over and beg like all his other puck bunnies, he can think again. He wants her back? He’ll have to work for it. This time around, she’ll be the one in the driver’s seat…and she plans on driving him wild.


 Crista’s Review
3 stars!

I liked The Mistake by Elle Kennedy, but I didn’t love it. Maybe it’s because The Deal was so incredible and was a book that I literally could not move past for DAYS. I have also re-read The Deal three times, which is NOT typical for me. Sadly, The Mistake, just did not live up to its predecessor in any way.

First of all, Logan begins this book obsessed with Hannah (the heroine from The Deal). Hannah is his best friend Drew’s girlfriend and the whole thing was a bit icky for me from the get go. I found it really unsettling that Logan’s crush on Hannah had intensified in such an unhealthy way. It made Logan seem desperate and unhealthy.

Logan and Grace have their first encounter after Logan has just had a “hook-up” with some random girl at a frat party. He is coming out of the bathroom zipping up his pants and I was definitely put off by this, and quite frankly was put off by Logan’s character in general.

Logan and Grace’s relationship gets off to a rocky start when it immediately turns physical and Logan walks away without regard to Grace’s feelings or pleasure. I like that Grace finally has boundaries and tells Logan to “take a hike”.

This book is told in two parts. The first part is Logan coming to terms with his infatuation with Hannah, and learning that he is indeed interested in Grace. The second part is Logan’s attempts to convince Grace of this realization and his pursuit of her. 

The second part of the book which focuses on Logan’s determination to get Grace back was the best part of this book, and made it somewhat enjoyable. Unfortunately, I never liked both of these characters at the same time. In the beginning, I couldn’t stand Logan’s character, but I loved Grace. She was sweet, honest, and true. When Logan finally gets his act together, he shows himself to be a swoon-worthy hero. Unfortunately, Grace turns from a sweet and somewhat naïve girl into a bitter and rude girl. The change in her character was a huge disappointment for me.

Finally, by the end of the book, all is made right and this couple does enjoy a nice happily ever after ending. The epilogue was amazing and gave me good chills as this author fast forwards two years into the future to give us a glimpse at how things have turned out for everyone.

It was definitely a frustrating read, and one that ultimately was a disappointment. I do like this series and hope that the next book gets back to the quality of the first book.

Connect with Elle Kennedy

Monday, May 25, 2015

Embattled Seal (Lost and Found #4) by J.M. Madden



Have a safe Memorial Day and remember those who gave all! 



What it’s about

When Harper Preston finds himself flat in a hospital bed after a botched op, he’s okay with dealing with the fallout. If he dies, he’s lived well past his expiration date. The only people that will notice his passing are the guys he works with at Lost and Found Investigative Service. 

Then his estranged wife arrives. 

Cat Preston is thankful and horrified when she’s called to her husband’s side. He’s been shot. Again. But now that she’s found him she’s going to make the most of the opportunity. If it were up to Harper, she would be out of his life completely because he thinks it's the best thing for the family. 

With a little SEAL abduction (for his own good of course) maybe she can convince him otherwise...



 Karla’s Review

5 Stars!! An insightful read that touches the heart and brings awareness to the plight of our veterans and their families. Chalk up another winner for J.M. Madden in the LNF series! 

“The strength of the armed forces of the United States is as much about its families as it is about its combat capability.” – General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

For me, this was the most emotional book in the series thus far and quite possibly my favorite to date...very hard to choose, they've all been so good. Maybe because it centered around the military family and the effects on the spouses and children. They serve their country along with their soldier...and the toll it takes can be devastating and in many cases rips a family apart. 

We first met Harper in Embattled Hearts, John and Shannon's book, and were left with so many questions about who he really was in Embattled Home, Chad and Lora's book. This gentle giant of man, and former SEAL, befriended and confided in little Mercy, Lora's daughter, from Embattled Home, and then much to everyone's surprise they come to find out that he has a wife and children of his own. Unfortunately, he hasn't seen his family in quite some time, and felt the need to distance himself from them, due to PTSD and paranoia that he suffers from. 

Enter his wife, Cat, who is angry with him for leaving his family, but so desperately wants to help the man she loves and be there for him during the healing process, from the wounds he endured from in Embattled Home and from the ghosts that haunt him from his days on the battlefield. I loved her strength, determination and take charge attitude, something that came in handy when dealing with the stubborn and head-strong Harper. 

It was so obvious how much Cat and Harper loved each other, and seeing them work through their issues and find common ground was beautiful to read about. Unfortunately, it's not always the outcome in the real world for so many of our military spouses and family. JM Madden writes about the reality of the situation with the hard facts, lays out the difficult road that the characters have to travel, and then gives the reader some reprieve with a heartwarming happily-ever-after...and hope, always hope! 

There was major involvement with many of the characters we've come to know and love in the LNF series. It's always so special to see them all together and get a peek into the camaraderie they've formed. They appreciate belonging to something that is so similar to the bond they had with their  former military families.

I have no doubt that moving forward, the author will continue to write stories that honors the military, give us the reality of the situation that is presented, and offer readers an optimistic outlook and touch their hearts!

A copy of the book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review...thanks J.M.

Connect with J.M. Madden

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Navy SEAL's E-Mail Order Bride (The Heroes of Chance Creek, #1) by Cora Seton



What it’s about
Mason Hall, Navy SEAL, knows all about difficult assignments, but his current mission is one for the record books. Not only must he find a wife—and get her pregnant—or forfeit the ranch his family has prized for generations, he must also convince his three brothers to marry, too—before the year is up. Who knew one city girl and three wayward brothers could put up such a fight?



Dorsey’s Review


3.5 Navy SEAL to Cowboy Stars!!!! 

Mason Hall is a Navy SEAL who is giving up his Navel career to return home to Montana and claim his and brothers inheritance of the family's Crescent Hall Ranch but....there's a catch. He and his three brothers must turn their beloved rundown ranch into a productive running ranch, get married, and produce another heir within a year!! How are they going to accomplish this? By placing an ad looking for wives...

Regan is a finance specialist who just quit her job and has decided after several failed relationships and with her biological clock ticking, to go it alone and have a baby via artificial insemination. Then a friend sends her a link to the wife seeking ad....feeling lonely and having too much wine she drunkenly answers Mason. Her answer to the ad was pretty hilarious which caught Mason's attention.

All in all not a bad read, there were things that I loved, liked, and disliked.  However, I really, really loved the first part of the book, their banter back and forth via email, telephone calls, and Skype were fun. 

Mason and Regan made a great hero and heroine. Regan was loyal, fun, and loving and brought out the best in the stoic Mason. I was happy with their HEA and I'm  looking forward to Mason's brothers books.


Connect with Cora Seton

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Hot Zone (Elite Force #2) by Catherine Mann


What it’s about

HE'LL TAKE ANY MISSION, THE RISKIER THE BETTER...

The haunted eyes of pararescueman Hugh Franco should have been her first clue that deep pain roiled beneath the surface. But if Amelia couldn't see the damage, how could she be expected to know he'd break her heart?

SHE'LL PROVE TO BE HIS BIGGEST RISK YET...

Amelia Bailey's not the kind of girl who usually needs rescuing...but there are anything but usual circumstances.


 Karla’s Review

5 Captivating Stars! I'm HOT for you Hugh, please come rescue me!!

Pararescuemen saving lives…I’m awestruck at their overall skills and what lengths they go to, to do their job. This story might be fictional, but what Pararescuemen do everyday is very, very real! 


These men do it ALL! From the first page to the last I was totally captivated by this story! 

The story starts out in the Bahamas, where the island has been decimated by an earthquake. Master Sergeant Hugh Franco is crawling through the rubble, because one of the S & R dogs, Zorro, has hit on something. Even though the search cameras come up with nothing, Hugh places his trust in the dog, who’s barking his head off. Lucky for Amelia and little Joshua, this Pararescueman goes with his gut, because after 2 days under a collapsed building, they are about to see what this hero is all about!! The details just consumed me, to the point where I felt as if it was me pinned under the concrete; I held my breath and got claustrophobic! The story just took off from there, and it just did not STOP!

Amelia and Hugh are quick to become sexually involved, and it’s initially based on the need for comfort, a way to deal with all they’ve been through and also I think a little hero worship. I was fine with it, because when you are in a life and death situation and are able to walk away in one piece, you’re going to grab hold of what you can, something that makes you feel, and boy do these two feel!! As they become more involved, through way of gripping circumstances, the love between them grows. 

The author manages to entwine two other couples into the story; one is an established relationship, involving Amelia’s brother, sister-in-law and parents to Joshua, Aiden and Lisabeth. It was incredibly moving and sweet. The other is the set-up for the couple that will grace the pages of the next book, Major Liam McCabe, team commander, and Rachel Flores, who is there with a canine S & R unit. Liam is quite the character and so funny, he’s already stolen my heart. The only thing missing for me, was that we only got one brief moment with Wade Rocha, our hero from Cover Me. Then again, his stories been told already. It’s more a personal issue, because I like catching up with the characters from the previous books. Maybe we’ll see more of him in the next book, Under Fire

This is one of the best military/suspense romances I’ve ever read. These guys are in the moment, they are on the job doing what they’ve been trained to do, and that’s what makes this series so exciting. The author takes real life situations, adds the romance aspect, some humor, and fantastic dialogue and gives the reader a story that’s a real page-turner. My guess is she based her research for this book on the devastating Haitian earthquake of 2010. The setting and descriptions are so realistic, right down to the overwhelming smells of death, which is a constant reminder of all who perished. If you are a fan of this genre of book, or are looking for some excitement in your reads and haven’t read this author, I highly recommend that you do.



Connect with Catherine Mann
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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Unforgettable (Unforgiven, #2) by Elizabeth Finn


What it’s about
The sequel and conclusion of Unforgiven.

In Unforgiven, Darren and Bailey proved forgiveness is possible even after a painful past, but absolution isn’t the end of their story. Trust has to be rebuilt, faith restored, and the strength of their bond tested. 

They may have stopped battling each other, but that doesn’t mean the fight is over. And life has a way of packing the biggest punch—the most painful… 

When life throws a curve ball, the future they fought so hard for is at risk. And when Bailey’s resolve is weakened, Darren has to carry them both. She may be his world, but is he strong enough to shoulder the weight of that responsibility? Her trust in him is critical, but has forgiveness given her enough peace to put her every hope and dream in his hands? 

A woman forgiven… A man redeemed… A love unforgettable…



 Kristen’s Review
3 Stars! 

Well dang! What a depressing conclusion to Darren and Bailey's story. I knew this book wouldn't be hearts and roses but, my goodness, hasn't this couple been through enough?! 

I understand why this book was necessary, and I even agree with the author delving into all the issues these two face now that they're together. The plot, however, lacked balance and because of that, I didn't particularly enjoyed reading it. At least the ending put a smile on my face. 

Even though Unforgettable was more depressing than uplifting, I can't help but love Elizabeth Finn's brand of torture. Her writing is always top notch, her plots compelling, and her character multi-layered and believable. But, boy, do I need to read a fluffy, feel-good read after finishing this one.


Connect with Elizabeth Finn
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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Consumed by Fire (Fire #1) by Anne Stuart


What it’s about
Evangeline Morrissey remembers the last time she saw her husband: it was during their honeymoon, right before he stole her grandmother’s earrings and abandoned her. Now, five years later, the enigmatic man who’d broken her heart and destroyed her trust is back. But she’s not the same naive young woman who fell for him so easily.

Marrying Evangeline and letting her think he was nothing but a common thief had been James Bishop’s plan all along. As an assassin for the Committee, a covert agency dedicated to stamping out international crime, he had no business even thinking about marriage. But it was the only way to protect Evangeline after she’d unwittingly wandered into his operation against a group of human traffickers, placing herself in grave danger. And now that James’s vigilant watch over Evangeline’s life has revealed to his enemies that she’s his one true weakness, he must set out to have, to hold, and—above all—to protect his bride.

Publication date ~ 5/26


Crista's Review
5 stars!!!!

If you've never read a book written by Anne Stuart, and want to read the very best she has to offer, then Consumed By Fire would be a fabulous place to start! This is quintessential Anne Stuart and can only be described as a nearly perfect read.

James Bishop is an operative in the top secret Committee (an organization that specializes in covert operations aimed at maintaining freedom throughout the world). The operatives are highly skilled assassins who are capable of just about anything to achieve their objective. They are mercenaries for hire and are ruthless killers.

Evangeline is an American and an extremely brilliant academic. She is a bit naïve and is initially completely taken with the enigmatic James Bishop. Their initial whirl wind romance ends in heartbreak for Evangeline wherein she is betrayed and ultimately abandoned by the man whom she thought she’d spend the rest of her life with.

Fast forward several years and James Bishop is forced to reenter Evangeline’s life in order to protect her. Little does Evangeline realize whom she married years ago, and the lengths to which her husband has gone to protect her throughout the years.

No author has the ability to engage me the way that this author does….and she does so repeatedly. She can make the most dangerous of men seem interesting, attractive, and irresistible. 

What sets this book apart and puts it in my favorites of what she has written is her characterization of Evangeline. Stuart brilliantly portrays her not as a weak victim of James Bishop’s schemes and crimes, but as a brilliant and confident woman. She is furious with him for deserting her years before and doesn’t instantly fall into his arms. Her ability to challenge him on so many different levels was simply amazing. James Bishop, a man who has seen it all and who has done it all, is completely shaken off his firm foundation by this woman, and readers, this is a beautiful thing to behold.

Anne Stuart has really upped the ante with this book, and if this is any indication of what’s to come, her FIRE series will rival (if not top) her brilliant ICE series. I for one am ecstatic to on board for what is shaping up to be the reading ride of my life!

*A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley*

Connect with Anne Stuart
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Monday, May 18, 2015

The Salvation of Vengeance (Wanted Men #2) by Nancy Haviland


What it’s about
Only something as important as her best friend’s wedding to mob boss Gabriel Moretti could allow Nika Paynne a reprieve from captivity. Her abusive husband has kept her under his thumb with footage of her beloved brother, Caleb, killing another man. But the respite from her violent life isn’t the only draw. Vincente Romani—Gabriel’s deadliest guardian—will be one of the best men at the wedding, and Nika has lingering thoughts about the fascinating mobster…covetous thoughts that may put her life in danger.

With the heartbreak he’s suffered and the brutality he effortlessly delivers, Vincente knows he’s the last person who can offer Nika a happily-ever-after. But his vow remains. He will do everything in his power to free his redhead from her violent prison—even if that means losing her forever.

In the second thrilling and passionate Wanted Men book, a dangerous line is drawn between loyalty to the mob and loyalty to one’s heart.



Dorsey’s Review


4.5 Underboss Loving Stars!

I knew 10% into this book I was going to love mafia underboss Vincente "The Reaper" Romani. When we were introduced to him in A Love of Vengeance he came off as the total bad-ass he is, and I think I was already half in love with him. Regardless of his callous comments to Nika during their fist encounter in A Love of Vengeance, Nika is drawn to Vincente and cannot get him out of her thoughts. At times it's only the memory of him and the kiss they shared that gets her though her days. 

Nika has been in a controlling and violent abusive marriage for the past year. She is forced to stay itn the marriage until she can find the evidence her husband has against her brother Caleb, VP of an MC club, that can send him to jail for a very, very long time. 

When Nika attends Gabriel and Eva's wedding she attempts to use this time to find the evidence and finally flee her prison, but it's also the anticipation of seeing Vincente again that has her anxious. Nika knows she's damaged, and mentally she doesn't think she will ever be able to trust another man, but that doesn't stop her from hoping. Unfortunately things don't work out the way Nika plans and her husbands brutality is epic.

I don't want to give the story away, but I will say it's so, so good when Vincente, Caleb, and the rest of the "Family" rally around Nika when they learn of the abuse she has been enduring...

There are several side characters that come into play that we met in A Love of Vengeance, and again in this book...and I love all of them!! I'm so looking forward to all their books!! I am anxious to read the next book, An Obsession with Vengeance (July 2015), which will feature the Tarasove crime family underboss Maksim "Maks" Kirov....and yes, I fell for him too (jeez...I'm such a slut for fictional characters). He broke my heart in this one when something happened with Eva, and he blamed himself. You know from his extreme guilt and actions, he's a tortured by something in his past.

Lastly, I loved seeing Gabriel and Eva and how their relationship was progressing, and despite the serious subject matter surrounding Nika there were some really funny moments between Gabriel, Eva, and Nika.

Connect with Nancy Haviland
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Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Virgin (The Original Sinners: White Years #3) by Tiffany Reisz


What it’s about

For years, Kingsley Edge warned Eleanor the day would come when she, the mistress of a well-respected Catholic priest, would have to run. She always imagined if that day came, she'd be running with Søren. Instead, she's running from him.

Fearing Søren and Kingsley will use their power and influence to bring her back, Eleanor takes refuge at the one place the men in her life cannot follow. Behind the cloistered gates of the convent where her mother has taken orders, Eleanor hides from the man she loves and hates in equal measure.

With Eleanor gone, the lights have gone out in Kingsley's kingdom. When he learns the reason she left, he, too, turns his back on Søren and runs. On a beach in Haiti, Kingsley meets Juliette, the one woman who could save him from his sorrows. But only if he can save her first.

Eleanor can hide from Søren but she can't hide from her true nature. A virginal novice at the abbey sends Eleanor down a path of sexual awakening, but to follow this path means leaving her lover behind, a sacrifice Eleanor refuses to make.

The lure of the forbidden, the temptation to sin and the price of passion have never been higher, and Eleanor and Kingsley will have to pay it if they ever want to go home again.



Crista’s Review
4 stars!

She’s baaaaaack, (and whether I’m talking about Nora or Tiffany Reisz, I will leave to your own interpretation!). I did not care for The King and felt like maybe this series had taken a turn for me, but with The Virgin, I am happy to say am back on the Original Sinners band wagon!

As this series is coming to a close, I am shocked at the ride that this author has taken us on. What started so many years ago has morphed so many times that it is impossible to believe how much has been revealed about each and every one of these characters. It’s deep, involved, complicated, and completely mesmerizing!

There was MUCH to love about this book. The Virgin takes us through the year when Soren, Eleanor, and Kingsley went their separate ways. I always wondered about this year and what happened during that time. This book clears up that question!

The highlight of this book was not Nora, (although it was incredible to have her character back). The highlight of this book was Kingsley and his beloved Juliette. The Virgin takes us to Haiti where Kingsley becomes obsessed, and eventually falls head over heels in love with the beautiful Juliette. 

I’m not sure how Kingsley has become the character whom I’m most obsessed with, but he has! This series has always been about Soren and Nora for me, but slowly and completely, that has changed. There are two main stories in this book: Nora’s time in the convent and Kingsley’s time in Haiti. I found myself uninterested and emotionally detached from Nora and Kyrie’s relationship and flipped through the pages in the convent so that I could get back to the love story that I really wanted to read about!

Kingsley and Juliette now have my favorite love story of this entire series. The way that they came to be a couple, the obstacles that they needed to overcome, and the passion and all-consuming love that they share is something I will not soon forget! Kingsley is a man who has been through so much, but always seems to face challenges and pain with amazing wit and a sprit that will not be crushed. I love that even though he is heartbroken and grieving at the loss of Eleanor and Soren, that it is in that desperation and depression that he embarks on what will be the most influential relationship (and woman) of his life.

I know I will re-read Kingsley and Juliette’s story many times, and I have never said that about any relationship in this series. This couple will always stand out to me in this series that is filled with UNFORGETTABLE characters. This is saying all that needs to be said.

*A copy of the book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley*

Connect with Tiffany Reisz
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Friday, May 15, 2015

Aflame (Fall Away, #4) by Penelope Douglas


What it’s about

The tables have turned. Now I have the power—and it’s his turn to beg…

Everyone wants to be me.

Maybe it’s the sway of my skirt or the way I flip my hair, but I don’t care. Even though their attention is the last thing I crave, I just can’t stop. I dominate the track, the speed rattles my bones, and the wind and the crowd screams my name.

I’m her. The girl driver. The queen of the race. And I’m surviving—something he thought I’d never do.

They all still talk about him. Did you see Jared Trent on T.V? What did you think of his last race, Tate? When is he coming back to town, Tate?

But I refuse to care too much. Because when Jared does come home, I won’t be here.

Tatum Brandt is gone. I’m someone new.



 Kristen’s Review

4–I'm Impressed–Stars!

I have to admit I wasn't planning on reading this book. I don't like authors messing with couples that have already had their HEA. It's a huge no-no in the world of romance readers. However, nothing this author writes could be considered the norm, so I decided to give it a try. I'm so glad I did! 

I'm not going to go into detail about the plot; there are plenty of reviews that give a good summary, as well as answering some readers concerns (NO, Jared doesn't sleep around. The author handled that whole situation brilliantly). I will, however, share my feelings about the story. 

First, do I feel this book was necessary...NO! Am I glad the author wrote it...YES! YES! YES! This series has never been a fairytale. It's been messy, and complicated, and steeped in reality. Exaggerated reality, sure, but reality all the same. Because of that, this book worked. At least it did for me. 

What shocked me was how my feelings for Jared changed in this story. I've NEVER been a Jared fan. Even after reading and loving Until You, Jared's POV of Bully, I still DID NOT like his character. That all changed after I finished this book. I really came to like, might I even say LOVE , Jared. He grew up and matured during the continuation of this couple's story–as most people do when transitioning into adulthood–and I appreciated getting to read about his progression rather than being told about it in a Falling Away epilogue. That aspect right there made this worth the read. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It actually made me a believer in Tate and Jared's HEA. I'm glad Penelope Douglas not only had the courage but the skill to write what could have been a disaster of a book, but ended up being a great read. If you're on the fence about this one like I was, I encourage you to give it a try. I don't think you'll be sorry.


Connect with Penelope Douglas
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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Spotlight on Sharp Shootin’ Cowboy (Hot Cowboy Nights, #3) By Victoria Vane ~ Excerpt + Giveaway


It's right around the corner, the upcoming release of Sharp Shootin' Cowboy the 3rd book in Victoria Vane's popular Hot Cowboy Nights series! Along with the book blurb we have a teaser excerpt and a chance for you to win the Hot Cowboy Nights book bundle, which includes, Sharp Shootin' Cowboy, and the first 2 books in the series, Slow Hand and Rough Rider . All you have to do is enter the Rafflecopter for your chance to win. 

Check out our reviews for Slow Hand and Rough Rider by clicking on the book cover! 




What it’s about

TAKE YOUR BEST SHOT, COWBOY…

Weary warrior… After eight years as a Marine sniper, war-scarred Reid Everett is back in his native Wyoming. He knows and loves this rugged land, so working for wildlife services to reduce the booming wolf population suits him to a T.


Caring crusader… Wildlife biologist Haley Cooper is desperate to make a difference. Leaving the world of academia behind, she accepts a position as a wolf advocate to protect the animals she loves.


Raw attraction… Their jobs set them on a collision course, but chemistry sparks like wildfire between Reid and Haley. They’ll have to brave some rough territory if they hope to reconcile their polarizing views with a passion that won’t be denied.

Release date ~ June 2nd

Buy SHARP SHOOTIN’ COWBOY here:
 Amazon | B&N | BAM | iBooks | !ndigo | IndieBound


Excerpt
He could see her getting more worked up by the minute, and damned if he wasn’t also—just not in the same way. She’d been baiting him from the start, spewing arguments that usually just pissed him off, but in this case, it was turning him on.

His gaze locked on her mouth. Her tongue darted out as if she read his thoughts. She drew a breath as if to formulate another rebuttal, but he’d had enough. Before her lips could spout off anymore of the Pacifist Tree Hugger’s Manifesto, he pulled her into his arms and silenced her with his.

***

The kiss came without warning, and Haley was too stunned at first to react. He began gently enough, his lips sliding over hers, hands cupping her face, thumbs stroking her jaw, and then he grew more insistent, his tongue probing the seal of her lips. His callused hands were simultaneously firm and gentle, and his lips paradoxically soft and commanding.

Mere seconds had her head spinning and stomach fluttering. She was slipping fast and not about to let him pull her in any deeper. Part of her wanted to give into it, to see where it might lead, but the other half resented his audacity. Her pride won out. She resisted the urge to soften, to open to him, then stiffened, pressing her hands against his chest.

He released her instantly.

She stepped back, knees weak and pulse racing. “I didn’t come here looking to hook up.”

“Neither did I. But sometimes unexpected things happen.” His gaze locked with hers, a look of speculation gleaming in his eyes. “When they do, it’s best to just go with your gut instinct.”

“That so? Well all my instincts scream ‘no marines,’ so don’t let it happen again.”

Suddenly remembering the cue in her hand, Haley turned back to the table. It took all of her will to focus back on the game. She could hardly believe how he’d nearly unraveled her with a single kiss. Then again, no one had ever kissed her like that. She made her break, pocketing the one, and then moved methodically around the table, calling each shot as she sank every solid. Only the eight ball remained, but it was trapped behind two stripes.

Reid’s lips curved with smug certainty. “Looks like I’ll get my turn after all.”

“Don’t count your chickens, cowboy.” She laid down her cue and searched the wall behind her for a shorter one. “Jump cue,” she answered his silent question.

“You’re kidding right?”

“Nope.” Approaching the table, she angled for her shot. She could almost feel his eyes on her ass. She glanced over her shoulder. Sure enough. He was leaning against the wall with both arms crossed over his broad chest, his gaze zeroed in on her behind.

“Enjoying the view?”

“Sure am,” he confessed, unabashed.

He was sadly mistaken if he thought he’d unnerve her. Keeping him in her peripheral vision, she widened her stance and stretched out over the table. All sign of smugness evaporated from his face. He tugged on his jeans.

Haley grinned, reveling in her small victory, and then prepared for a bigger one. “Eight ball, side pocket,” she declared with confidence. On a three count she took the shot, jumping the stripes to pocket the eight. “Yeah baby!” She threw down the cue and fisted the air, gloating in her triumph.

Reid gaped at the table. “I’ll be goddamned. How did you learn to do that?”

“My grandpa was a regional pool champion.”

“That bit of information was mighty sneaky to withhold.”

She shrugged. “You didn’t ask. Loser buys. I’ll take a mojito.”

Meet Victoria Vane

Victoria Vane is a multiple award-winning romance novelist and history junkie whose collective works of fiction range from wildly comedic romps to emotionally compelling erotic romance. Victoria also writes historical fiction as Emery Lee and is the founder of Goodreads Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers and the Romantic Historical Lovers book review blog.


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