Release Day Blitz: Once Upon a Christmas Eve by Elizabeth Hoyt

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Once Upon a Christmas Eve is the final novella that finishes off Elizabeth Hoyt’s long-running Maiden Lane series. It proves to be an indelible sendoff for the series.

When Adam Rutledge, Viscount d’Arque’s, carriage becomes broken during a winter storm, he knows he needs to get help immediately. He has his beloved grandmother in the coach with him and she already seems to be ill. He doesn’t want to see her get worse. He takes a horse and cautiously proceeds to a house a few miles away. When he knocks at the door, he is surprised to see Godric St. John answer the door, and even more surprised (and aroused) by the sight of Godric’s half-sister, Sarah St. John.

As soon as Adam’s grandmother is settled into the warm house, he sets his sights on Sarah. Though they had only met once prior to his arrival at her home on this treacherous evening, he clearly remembers how she did not fall at his feet. He hasn’t forgotten her.

Sarah St. John does not like or respect rakes and that is the broad brush she paints Adam with. But as the days of Christmas merriment continue, she is about to learn that he has more beneath the surface than she could have ever imagined.

Elizabeth Hoyt’s novellas are always total charmers for me and Once Upon a Christmas Eve is no different. I was immediately drawn into the chemistry between Adam and Sarah. The tension between them sizzles and soars nicely throughout the course of the story and it is obvious to the reader that these two are meant to be. That said, I love the slight obstacles that Ms. Hoyt delicately throws between the pair. It’s not a matter of miscommunication but rather, it’s a matter of truly figuring out who the person is beneath the social facade of the time period. Adam is well known for his rakish ways. Sarah’s cool indifference to him proves maddening and at first, he just wants to get beneath her skin a bit. But that proves even too tempting and soon, well, it is a raging inferno of desire between them. I know, I know, cliche but in this case, too true! Elizabeth Hoyt sets up this pair so nicely that it really is a great descriptor for their growing feelings.

Add in the festive and cheery Christmas tidings and this book has atmosphere pouring out of the pages. I loved reading about the Christmas traditions of the St. John household and of course, I enjoyed revisiting Megs and Godric.

I highly recommend Once Upon a Christmas Eve and Ms. Hoyt’s other recent novella, Once Upon a Maiden Lane. Both of these books are a wonderful denouement to the Maiden Lane series. I know I will be revisiting this charming Christmas tale for many holiday seasons to come.

Once Upon a Christmas Eve is available today!

ARC provided by publisher for review.

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Adam Rutledge, Viscount d’Arque, really rather loathes Christmas. The banal cheerfulness. The asinine party games. And, worst of all, the obligatory trip to the countryside. His grandmother, however, loves the holiday—and Adam loves his grandmother, so he’ll brave the fiercest snowstorm to please her. But when their carriage wheel snaps, they’re forced to seek shelter at the home of the most maddening, infuriating, and utterly beguiling woman he’s ever met.

Sarah St. John really rather loathes rakes. The self-satisfied smirks. The sly predatory gazes. Oh, and the constant witty banter rife with double meaning. But in the spirit of the season, she’ll welcome this admittedly handsome viscount into her home. But as the snowstorm rages, the Yule log crackles, and the tension rises, Sarah and Adam find themselves locked in a fiery, passionate kiss. If love is the true meaning of Christmas, it’s the one gift this mismatched pair can’t wait to unwrap.

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Elizabeth Hoyt 2017Elizabeth Hoyt is the New York Times bestselling author of over seventeen lush historical romances including the Maiden Lane series. Publishers Weekly has called her writing “mesmerizing.” She also pens deliciously fun contemporary romances under the name Julia Harper. Elizabeth lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with three untrained dogs, a garden in constant need of weeding, and the long-suffering Mr. Hoyt.

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New cover! Feeling Hot by Elle Kennedy

Have I mentioned that Elle Kennedy’s Out of Uniform series is one of the first series that drew me to her work? Once I started reading these books, I could not stop. I’m really excited to see them being re-released, particularly with these awesome new covers!

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A sexy standalone novel from New York Times and international bestselling author Elle Kennedy! Special pre-order and release week SALE price $0.99!

In tight quarters, anything can happen…

Fresh off a six-month deployment, Navy SEAL Cash McCoy is determined to end his celibacy streak with a night of down and dirty sex. Instead, he gets an interrupted hook-up with a hot blonde who vanishes without a way for him to contact her. When he’s asked to keep an eye on—and hands off—his CO’s sister for a few weeks to guard her from a psycho-stalker ex, Cash accepts the assignment as a distraction…and gets the surprise of his life.

Jen Scott knows she needs protection, but she’s not looking forward to being babysat by some straight-laced yes-man her overprotective brother can boss around. Finding out her new roomie is none other than the sexy stranger who was seconds away from shaking her world apart changes everything. Orders be damned, Cash is the one man capable of helping her explore her sexuality, and she’s even willing to break her own rule—never date military men—to get the gorgeous SEAL into her bed.

Only, Cash makes it clear he wants much more than she bargained for. Not just her body, but the one thing Jen promised herself she’d never give to a man in uniform. Her heart.

Warning: Sexy SEAL? Check. Sassy heroine determined to seduce him? Check. Scorching hot sex bound to make you blush? Double check. A threesome and some man-on-man action? Triple check. You’ve been warned.

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Also… $0.99 is a total steal for this book!

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Review: Wrong to Need You by Alisha Rai

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Alisha Rai is one of the best writers I have discovered in 2017. Her first book, Hate to Want You, is one of my favorite reads of the year. I am very happy to say that Wrong to Need You lives up to the pressure (in my mind!) of the first book. Sadia and Jackson are just… fire cracker worthy.

Sadia Ahmed is loath to admit it, but she needs help. The cafe she runs is failing. Without her husband’s presence, it is a shell of its former life, no matter how much of herself Sadia pours into it. And to top it all off, now she needs a cook. It’s hard enough bringing in customers but add in a cook (Sadia) who can’t exactly cook, well it’s a recipe for disaster.

Enter Jackson Kane, Sadia’s former best friend and oh yeah, former brother-in-law. After Jackson was accused of a crime he didn’t commit, he left his hometown behind, and that included Sadia, despite their years of friendship. Sadia emailed him consistently but Jackson never replied. When he didn’t show up for her husband’s funeral, well, that was it for Sadia. She is done with Jackson.

Except, she’s not. She is not thrilled to have him back in town but she cannot deny that she needs his help. He is a wonderful cook and is an asset to her cafe. He is also slowly but surely peeling back all the layers of himself that Sadia longed to forget. An affair with Jackson is unthinkable. But neither can deny that between themselves, they have enough chemistry to last forever.

I love dark and angsty romances. Sometimes they just hit the spot in a way that a more lighthearted story doesn’t (it’s all about moods!). Wrong to Need You is simply put, a powerful love story. Jackson and Sadia just click into place naturally. They may not want to admit it, but they work if they can work through the issues of the past.

I love Alisha Rai’s female characters. Sadia and her sisters were so… perfect isn’t right because no sisterly relationship is perfect but it was just the right amount of love and light snark. They are totally there for each other. Alisha Rai really shines as a writer of women characters. Her women are just people I admire and relate to.

Jackson is a tough nut to crack as the saying goes but he is well worth sticking with. He yearns to be back with his family but he also truly doesn’t believe he deserves it. I was so glad to see him slowly become part of Sadia’s world again, and to get to know his nephew, Kareem, who is a charmer.

I’m always eager to try new romance writers and for me, Alisha Rai is a total thumbs-up. 2017 has not been an easy year on any of us I think but I found comfort in the complex relationships she creates in her books. Pain, maybe, but also a deep familial love. I am eager to read Eve and Gabriel’s story!

Wrong to Need You is available now. If you can’t purchase it immediately, be sure to set aside some holiday gift cards to make this book your own.

Forbidden Hearts 2.0 - Wrong To Need You

He wasn’t supposed to fall in love with his brother’s widow…

Accused of a crime he didn’t commit, Jackson Kane fled his home, his name, and his family. Ten years later, he’s come back to town: older, wiser, richer, tougher—and still helpless to turn away the one woman he could never stop loving, even after she married his brother.

Sadia Ahmed can’t deal with the feelings her mysterious former brother-in-law stirs, but she also can’t turn down his offer of help with the cafe she’s inherited. While he heats up her kitchen, she slowly discovers that the boy she adored has grown into a man she’s simply unable to resist.

An affair is unthinkable, but their desire is undeniable. As secrets and lies are stripped away, Sadia and Jackson must decide if they’re strong enough to face the past…and step into a future together.

About the Book

Wrong To Need You
by Alisha Rai

Series
Forbidden Hearts #2

Genre
Adult
Contemporary Romance

Publisher
Avon Books

Publication Date
November 28, 2017

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About Alisha Rai

Alisha Rai pens award-winning sexy contemporary romances and is the first author to have an indie-published book appear on The Washington Post’s annual Best Books list. She spends most of her time dreaming up sexy heroes and heroines, traveling, and tweeting. To find out more about her books or to sign up for her newsletter, visit http://www.alisharai.com

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Review: Head Coach by Lia Riley

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Today I am participating in the blog tour for Lia Riley’s Head Coach, the second book in her Hellions Angels book series. This story features Hellions’ coach Tor Gunnar and sports reporter, Neve Angel. They had chemistry in book one and that is explored to the full extent in Head Coach.

This review is going to be a bit abbreviated because I’m recovering from carpal tunnel surgery and being on a computer still hurts a bit. Suffice it to say that I really enjoyed Neve and Tor’s romance. They do not hit it off easily but the animosity between them is clearly hiding something deeper. Neve is looking for a relationship but doesn’t feel like she will ever find someone. She doesn’t particularly see herself as sexy or super attractive to men which is unfortunate because she has a lot of great things going for her. I liked her ambition and her love for hockey.

Tor isn’t looking for a relationship. After his marriage ended, he kind of put love on the back burner, to concentrate on his daughter and his job as coach. Neve is a surprise to him, particularly how hard and fast he falls.  Their banter and rapport really takes off as the book continues.

Head Coach is a great hockey romance. I’m enjoying the Hellions Angels series immensely and I’m looking forward to book three, Virgin Territory, out in March 2018.

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Head Coach by Lia Riley
Series Hellions Angels
Genre Adult; Contemporary Romance
Publisher Avon Impulse
Publication Date November 21, 2017

Neve Angel’s life is all work and no play, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. One of Denver’s top sports reporters, she’s fought hard to make it in a male-dominated world, and she won’t back down from a fight with anyone–not even the Hellions’ gruff head coach, Tor Gunnar. Her hostile relationship with the icy Scandinavian is the stuff of local legend.

Tor Gunnar hates dealing with the media; at best, they are a nuisance and at worst, a distraction. And no one distracts him more than the scrappy, sexy reporter who gets him hot under the collar. When he wins a not-so-friendly bet with Neve, he decides it’s high time they either kiss or kill each other, and invites her as a date to an out-of-town wedding.

But what happens when enemies become lovers? Will they be able to smother their sizzling attraction, or is it time to start playing for keeps?

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GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Three winners will receive an ebook copy of Mister Hockey. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance. Giveaway ends 12/1/2017 @ 1159pm EST. Avon Romance will send the winning copies out to the winner directly. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address. Duplicates will be deleted.

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Chapter One

Stuck in a Rut?

The billboard’s tacky font splashed across the image of a blonde woman dressed in a corset, high-waist underpants and garter belt. Neve Angel scowled through her windshield at the rest of the tagline.

Shimmy into a Whole New You!

BEGINNER Burlesque Classes at The Twirling Tassels

“Humph.” Neve tucked an escaped strand of hair back into her bun. Ms. Blondie could pop an egg in her perfect pout and suck it. Since quitting figure skating at the age of eighteen, she had developed an allergy to glitz and glamor, favoring low-key personal grooming.

Fake lashes were out.

Foundation contouring? Negative.

Waxing? Please. She wasn’t a masochist.

These days the word pragmatic carried far more value for her than pretty, thanks very much. Flicking on the radio, she relaxed her shoulders as a familiar guitar riff filled her ’78 wood-paneled Jeep Wagoneer. She had an unabashed love for classic cars and classic rock, and Tom Cochrane was a guy who knew his stuff. Life was a highway, except forget the part about driving it “all night long.”

Or driving anywhere for that matter. Satan would ice-skate through hell before this insane gridlock budged.

A silver Prius inched forward until it practically dry-humped her bumper.

Meep! The driver leaned on a wimpy-sounding horn.

Honking under these conditions was a ballsy move, akin to sitting in the last row of an airplane and standing when the cabin crew disarmed the doors—a good way to tempt ordinary citizens to commit murder.

The driver beeped again.

“Use your eyes. There’s nowhere for me to go!” Neve glanced to the rearview mirror and gazed at the distinctive red cursive on the Prius’s license plate.

A California driver. Surprise, surprise. She’d bet the loose change in the bottom of her purse that this chick was a Bay Area transplant, relocating her traffic problems to Denver along with skyrocketing home prices. The whole West was getting Californicated, from Nevada to Montana, Texas to Colorado.

The horn beeped a third time. She fisted her insulated travel mug and then took a careful sip. Madam Prius better thank her astrological chart that Neve had hot coffee within arm’s reach because otherwise things could get ugly.

A minute passed.

Two.

Blessed silence reigned.

After blowing up her bangs, she pulled an everything bagel from the flimsy paper bag on the dashboard, cramming it into her mouth. In a parallel universe, Alter-Neve woke with ample time to prepare a nutritious breakfast, perhaps an acai bowl topped by sliced bananas and kiwi fruit or Greek yogurt and granola, Instagram-worthy concoctions bursting with enough omegas and fiber to make any Prius driver water their home herb garden with organic tears.

But in this world, Einstein Bros. and a dark roast had to do the job.

She brushed stray poppy seeds and flecks of dried garlic off her charcoal pants with a muffled sigh. Charcoal, i.e., dark grey . . . not black. Her somber closet palette might be as cheerful as a funeral home, but it never required expending mental energy at seven a.m. trying to coordinate funky colors or mix and match patterns.

From her roadside perch, the burlesque model appeared amused, as if she knew Neve ate the same humdrum breakfast day in, day out and dressed in the same humdrum wardrobe. Or that while she might have an impressive LinkedIn profile, that didn’t translate to a social life worth posting over.

Neve poked out her tongue at the model’s image. This low-maintenance duckling had grown up to be . . . if not a preening swan, a confident duck.

She had a good—scratch that, great—career as a sports columnist for the Denver Age covering the hockey beat, and her life was too consumed by deadlines to bother with extra fuss. Work was the priority, and as for her biological clock . . . well, it could keep right on ticking. She had another baby to grow, her side hustle, a podcast—Sports Heaven—that kept climbing iTunes rankings; she had even been featured in their New and Noteworthy section last month.

Rut-shmut. By any measure, Neve was doing great in her career and living her best life. Except her smirk faded as she glanced to the console clock. She’d risk missing the puck drop if traffic didn’t improve soon.

Hopefully, the Hellions would get a much-needed win tonight. After their recent back-to-back championships, it appeared the team’s days in the sun had fallen into one serious shadow. The roster had been shaken ever since the unexpected retirement of captain Jed West last summer. This season had started as a big disappointment for Denver fans, and worse, whispers of NHL labor disputes were gaining traction. For the past few weeks, trusted sources had even uttered the dreaded term lockout—a word that kept her up at night restless and fretting.

Fingers—and toes—crossed that the powers that be would navigate through the negotiations and get the league back on track. During the 04–05 lockout, the whole season was cancelled—the worst possible outcome. Stadiums sat empty. Fans grumbled. Refs and arena workers forwent paychecks.

She shuddered, mentally elbowing away the terrible idea. Hopefully this time around, cooler heads would prevail.

And as for the Hellions, there was another place where cooler heads needed to prevail. Maybe if their goalie would practice a little Zen meditation and quit getting players sent to the penalty box every damn ga—

Meep! Meeeeeeeeep! Madam Prius hit the horn as if she’d face-planted on the steering wheel and died.

Tension migrated from Neve’s neck, making the slow climb to her temples. The first throbs of a headache emerged. Between lockout worries and this racket, she might spontaneously combust. To release steam, she rolled down the window and flipped the Prius the bird before grabbing her phone off the passenger seat.

Ignoring the new—and so far unlistened-to—mindfulness podcast her friend Margot had recommended, she clicked on Byways, the popular navigation app that relied on community-sourced traffic updates to create the fastest routes. It needed to get her moving before she found herself arrested for disorderly conduct.

She plugged in the Hellions stadium address and an avatar of a pitchfork blinked from a quarter mile ahead. Her tummy performed a flawless triple-axel jump.

Rovhal30.

She took a deep breath and issued herself a stern reminder. There had never been any official confirmation that Rovhal30 was even male, but in her mind, he was six feet of strapping sexiness, lounging behind the wheel of a black Subaru Outback—a ginger-haired Ewan McGregor doppelgänger. Not Trainspotting Ewan either. Not even Moulin Rouge! Ewan. No . . . straight-up Obi-Wan Kenobi Attack of the Clones Ewan, with the shaggy hair and delicious beard.

One thing was for certain, the pitchfork avatar meant that Rovhal30 was a Hellions hockey fan.

Or a devil worshiper who lives in his mom’s basement hand-feeding his pet bull pythons.

The pitchfork didn’t budge. Rovhal30 was stuck in this traffic too. She sucked in her lower lip, debating: To message or not to message? That was the question.

No point glancing to Burlesque Blondie for advice. The model would just shimmy her tassels in a “you go, guuuurl” affirmation.

Eenie, meanie, miny . . . ugh. Fine. She was doing this.

About Lia Riley

After studying at the University of Montana-Missoula, Lia Riley scoured the world armed only with a backpack, overconfidence and a terrible sense of direction. She counts shooting vodka with a Ukranian mechanic in Antarctica, sipping yerba mate with gauchos in Chile and swilling fourex with stationhands in Outback Australia among her accomplishments.

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Review: Bad Princess by Julianna Keyes

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Julianna Keyes just doesn’t let me down. When she shared on Facebook that she had written a short story involving royalty well, color me one happy reader. I could not wait to read it. And guess what, it’s pretty darn sexy.

When Princess Elle Vida abdicates the throne so she can marry a man wholly unsuited for a princess, it is up to her younger sister, Brinley Cantrella of Estau, to step in and take over as the royal in waiting. No one is thrilled about this, least of all Brinley’s parents, the current royals. Brinley has always been labelled the “bad princess” because all her life, she seemed to do things that were just out of line with what a royal should be doing. Basically she is NOT the Duchess of Cambridge type (I had to get a little Kate Middleton thrown in here somehow). But what Brinley supposedly lacks as a princess she makes up for being a normal person who enjoys life, is working hard at college and… just so happens to kind of be in love with the man her sister was supposed to marry.

Thus begins the super quick courtship and marriage of Brinley to Prince Finn. It’s NOT how she wanted to make her connection with him. Little does Brinley realize just how much Finn has admired her throughout the years.

Julianna Keyes makes this shorter story work great, especially given how the constraints of a novella/short story format mimic quite well the shortness of Brinley and Finn’s courtship. It’s pretty much nonexistent for reasons you will understand as you read the book.

I really liked Brinley. She leapt off the pages (so to speak) for me. She is caring, kind, a bit unconventional perhaps, but where it counts, as a person who has empathy and compassion, she is as Princess-y as it is possible to be. I really liked that though she initially didn’t believe in herself, she finds that there are a few people rooting for her. This allows her to find her own strength and realize that maybe she hadn’t been properly trained but darn it, she still makes a great princess, a great potential ruler for Estau.

Finn is a quiet guy but he believes hardcore in Brinley. This is a man who has watched covertly from the shadows as a Brinley grew from a bright child to a smart and funny adult woman. He is impressed with how she handles her parents, how she deals with all the bad press about herself, and that he can find a bagel in her room any time of day.

Julianna Keyes succeeds greatly in making this story a great romance where the two leads grow together but also in showing Brinley taking off on her own, finally realizing that being a “bad princess” is not the end of the world and there is a lot of good she can and will do for her kingdom. I love a woman who realizes her own awesomeness!

Bad Princess is available today! If you like royal romances, add this one to your TBR pile immediately.

BP

Bad Princess
by Julianna Keyes
Publication date: November 27th 2017
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Romance
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Notorious for leaping off roofs, maiming foreign royals, and that twerking incident, Brinley Cantrella of Estau is nobody’s definition of a good princess. She’s fearless and bold, not good and gracious. And after a lifetime of being told she’s unfit to be queen, wearing the crown and helping to usher Estau into a new era is the one dream she’s never dared chase.

But when her older sister abdicates the throne, all Brinley has to do to inherit the role is not twerk, not maim anybody, and definitely not get caught fooling around topless with Prince Finn, her childhood crush, the only man she’s ever loved…and her sister’s former future husband.

Finn embodies the definition of good. Tall and handsome, serious and honorable, he always does the right thing—including agreeing to marry his ex’s sister to cover up this latest scandal. Brinley has fallen down stairs, broken teeth and broken bones, but this is the first time her heart has ever been broken. She now has the crown and the prince, and on the surface, life is good—but is being married to a man everyone swears could never love her back good enough?

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Julianna

Julianna Keyes is a Canadian writer who has lived on both coasts and several places in between. She’s been skydiving, bungee jumping and white water rafting, but nothing thrills—or terrifies—her as much as the blank page. She loves Chinese food, foreign languages, baseball and television, though not necessarily in that order, and writes sizzling stories with strong characters, plenty of conflict, and lots of making up.

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Review: Cherish Hard by Nalini Singh

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Nalini Singh writing contemporary romance??? THIS IS A GIMME FOR ME! I was so excited to see Cherish Hard pop up on Netgalley because OMG it’s Nalini Singh and it’s a continuation, character wise, of her book Rock Hard (one of my favorite books by Nalini).

Cherish Hard is basically the meet-cute story of Sailor and Ísa, who readers meet already married in Rock Hard. This is their love story and it is a good one. Sailor sees Ísa at a party when he was in high school, just as she was breaking up with her jerk of a boyfriend. He never forgot her so when an unknown redhead approaches him in the parking lot of a school and kisses him, hard, well, he is intrigued. When he learns who the mystery woman is, he realizes that his long held crush hasn’t quite gone away. Sailor is ready to get to know Ísa NOW but Ísa isn’t so sure. She wants to settle down and marry and it seems like Sailor is just starting his business. And it’s true, Sailor has big plans for his garden business. But that doesn’t mean they can’t try, right?

A Nalini Singh love story always makes me happy. Don’t worry if you haven’t read Rock Hard yet. You’ll get caught up instantly in Ísa and Sailor’s love story. It’s not easy for either of them. Ísa is facing family pressure from her mother to be part of their family business, a chain of successful crafting stores. Sailor has always wanted to prove himself better than his father, a man who disappointed the entire family when he up and left Sailor’s mom, taking all her savings in the process. Sailor wants to do anything to show her and the world that he is a better man. His ambition sometimes gets in the way of his romantic interests unfortunately.

I love the romance that blooms between Sailor and Ísa. It is passionate and raw and endearing. From the first moment they officially meet in the story, I was hooked. I know I tend to rave about Nalini Singh books (I am definitely a Nalini stan) but truly, this is a heart-sweeping love story. A top-notch contemporary romance featuring great friendships (Ísa and her longtime best friend, Nayna, are lovely women with a warm and humorous friendship that has shined through thick and thin), intriguing family politics for both Ísa and Sailor, and a growing connection that surpasses anything either has ever felt before.

Cherish Hard just has that special something that romance readers look for. It’s a mind, heart, and text connection that is palpable and well-crafted. Nalini Singh does it again in this book. I adore her Psy/Changeling stories but I must admit, I loved a book set in the contemporary present, with all the problems that men and women are facing when trying to find that special someone. Ísa and Sailor complement each other nicely and I’m so glad I can revisit them in Rock Hard.

Cherish Hard is available now. You don’t want to miss out!

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New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh kicks off her new Hard Play contemporary romance series with a sizzling story that’ll leave you smiling…

 

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More about CHERISH HARD

CHERISH HARD
A Hard Play Novel by Nalini Singh

 

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh kicks off her new Hard Play contemporary romance series with a sizzling story that’ll leave you smiling…

Sailor Bishop has only one goal for his future – to create a successful landscaping business. No distractions allowed. Then he comes face-to-face and lips-to-lips with a woman who blushes like an innocent… and kisses like pure sin.

Ísa Rain craves a man who will cherish her, aches to create a loving family of her own. Trading steamy kisses with a hot gardener in a parking lot? Not the way to true love. Then a deal with the devil (aka her CEO-mother) makes Ísa a corporate VP for the summer. Her main task? Working closely with a certain hot gardener.

And Sailor Bishop has wickedness on his mind.

As Ísa starts to fall for a man who makes her want to throttle and pounce on him at the same time, she knows she has to choose – play it safe and steady, or risk all her dreams and hope Sailor doesn’t destroy her heart.

Cherish Hard Quote 2

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ÍSA WONDERED WHAT THE HELL she was doing.

Being a devil woman, she reminded herself. Having fun for a change. Not being a grandma at twenty-eight years of age.

Still, she couldn’t stop second-guessing herself as Sailor led her out of the house through a side entrance that opened out into a small, manicured garden. “I’ll have to take off my heels,” she whispered when she saw the pebbled path snaking through the garden.

“Want a piggyback ride?” A playful grin. “I promise not to molest your thighs.”

Goose bumps broke out over Ísa’s skin, her nipples tight. Reckless as she was feeling tonight, she might just have taken him up on his offer if she hadn’t been worried her damn dress would split in two. “Maybe when we’re naked,” she said instead, Devil Ísa in full flower.

Groaning, he doubled over as if she’d punched him.

Her lips twitching despite the melting sexual heat liquefying her bones, she leaned down to slip off her heels.

Sailor waited, his hand firm around hers, until she was done. Taking the heels from her, he carried them in his other hand as Ísa padded beside him on the grass that lay on this side of the pebbled path. The path ended at a weathered wooden gate, which, when opened, put them at the top of a narrow walkway that led down onto a beach Ísa couldn’t yet see but could hear.

Her heart crashed in time with the waves as they made their way down to the beach while the mansion behind them pulsed with light and music. But she didn’t turn and run away, she didn’t stop and talk herself out of it, she didn’t attempt to be a sensible adult. She followed a gorgeous, blue-eyed man down a dirt pathway to an effectively private beach.

The sand that had been tracked onto the path was gritty under her feet, the air coming off the sea cool but not cold.

“The water’s going to be icy, isn’t it?” she whispered to his broad back.

“Don’t worry, spitfire. I’ll keep you warm,” was the deep-voiced response. “Stop here.” Jumping down to the beach, he reached up to grab her by the waist, swinging her down as if she were a featherweight.

Something fluffy and mushy came to life inside Ísa. “Here?”

Shaking his head, he said, “Raj told me there’s like a little cove area—not a proper cove, but caused by— There.”

Ísa saw it at once. A huge tree had fallen into the water at some point and smashed up against some rocks where it appeared to be stuck. Between the jutting rocks on either side and the fallen trunk was a naturally created pool. The water within it was pretty calm, and it looked as if they could get to it by clambering over some rocks that didn’t appear too sharp or slippery.

Of course, she’d be walking over those rocks naked.

Ísa looked up at the moon. Imagined it shining on the stark white of her body. Gulped. “Will you close your eyes while I go in the water?” Even Devil Ísa wasn’t up for blinding him with her glow-in-the-dark form.

A glance back. “What’re you going to bribe me with?”

Ísa scowled. “Not pushing you into the water right now.” It was a toothless threat given his muscles and her lack of them.

Rubbing his jaw, he said, “Three tongue kisses. That’s my price, and I’m not budging.”

Ísa wanted to pounce on him all over again. “Two,” she countered.

“Nuh-uh. Three. Or I’m keeping both eyes wide open.” Leaning in, he pressed his nose to hers. “I really want to keep my eyes wide open.”

And Ísa really wanted to kiss him and run her hands all over that sculpted chest. “Three,” she whispered.

Copyright © 2017 by Nalini Singh

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nalini SinghNalini Singh is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Psy-Changeling, Guild Hunter, and Rock Kiss series. She lives and works in beautiful New Zealand, and is passionate about writing.

If you’d like to explore her other books, you can find lots of excerpts and free short stories on her website. Slave to Sensation is the first book in the Psy-Changeling series, while Angels’ Blood is the first book in the Guild Hunter series. The Rock Kiss books are all stand alone and can be read in any order.

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Review: Once Upon a Maiden Lane by Elizabeth Hoyt

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Mary Whitsun has been a minor character throughout several of the Maiden Lane books. Finally, it is her turn to find happiness and love.

Mary was an orphan left at the Home for Unfortunate Infants and Foundling Children. She formed a strong bond with Temperance, Lady Caire, while living at the home. Now, she is nursemaid for Temperance’s children. She has a good life, even if, at times, Mary wishes for more.

That “more” finds her one day when she is roaming a bookshop on her day off. She finds a handsome and clearly aristocratic man staring at her. She tries to brush him off but he persists in introducing himself. He believes her to be Lady Joanna, his fiance, until he realizes that Mary looks just like Joanna.

Suddenly, the possibility that Mary is related to the wealth, to privilege, is thrust into her life.

Henry Collins, Viscount Blackwell, has always done as he is told in his family. He is betrothed to Johanna, even though he does not love her. He knows their match is good for the family. But, meeting Mary, the woman he believes he was supposed to be engaged to, but who was kidnapped as a baby, well, Henry is starting to see the world in a different light. Mary challenges his preconceived notions of privilege and wealth, the very world he has taken for granted. And the more time he spends with her, the more he wants to be with her forever.

This is a novella which makes me somewhat sad because honestly, I would have loved a full-length book about Mary and Henry. They really stand out as characters. I absolutely loved Mary, as I knew I would. She is a caring young woman who is trying to be content with her lot in life. She knows she has a good situation, working with the Caires who genuinely care for her. It’s not easy always wanting just a little more though.

Henry is a typical handsome Lord but when he is with Mary, his person shines a little brighter, he is a bit wittier and he finds himself falling hard for her. Meeting Mary actually makes Henry a more interesting character in my eyes because she has a worldview that he would never have had the chance to know.

That being said, I was a bit afraid with how the story started because well, Ms. Hoyt takes on the classic romance trope of the orphan heroine finding out she is suddenly wealthy. I was hoping Ms. Hoyt would challenge this a bit and she does! So, do not fear. There is more to this story than meets the eye, even if the story becomes a tad melodramatic at the end.

That being said, honestly this is just a fun and lovely story. I am so happy Mary found her person, a life for herself and the opportunity for happiness when she least expected it. There aren’t enough servant historical romances (or I’m just not reading enough of them) so I was doubly thrilled Elizabeth Hoyt tackled this.

And the ending… I’m going to go full on cliche here and say, my heart soared for Mary and Henry. Just… it was perfection.

Once Upon a Maiden Lane is available today! If you’ve been following this series, if you’ve grown a soft spot in your heart for Mary Whitsun like I have, well, this novella is a MUST-BUY.

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ONCE UPON A MAIDEN LANE by Elizabeth Hoyt (November 14, 2017; Forever Yours Ebook; $1.99; The Maiden Lane Series #12.5)

A stand-alone novella from New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Hoyt!

Miss Mary Whitsun is far too intelligent to fall for the rakish charms of a handsome aristocrat. But when the gentleman in question approaches her in a bookshop, mistaking her for his fiancée, Lady Johanna Albright, the flirtatious encounter only raises more questions. Could Mary, a servant raised in a St Giles orphanage, actually be Lady Joanna’s long-lost twin sister? If so, Mary has been betrothed since birth—to the rakishly handsome artistocrat himself . . .

Henry Collins, Viscount Blackwell, is far too intrigued by Mary to let her go so easily. He’s drawn to her sharp mind, indomitable spirit, and the fiery way in which she dismisses him—ladies simply don’t dismiss Lord Blackwell. But as Mary makes her first hesitant steps into society, she can’t help but wonder if she truly has a place in Henry’s world—or in his heart.

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Elizabeth Hoyt 2017Elizabeth Hoyt is the New York Times bestselling author of over seventeen lush historical romances including the Maiden Lane series. Publishers Weekly has called her writing “mesmerizing.” She also pens deliciously fun contemporary romances under the name Julia Harper. Elizabeth lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with three untrained dogs, a garden in constant need of weeding, and the long-suffering Mr. Hoyt.

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