Review: The Secret by Christie Ridgway

 

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I’ve got a thing for single dad romances lately. I don’t know why since I have no desire to have kids but put it in a romance book, and I will glom it. The single dad angle and the butler angle in Christie Ridgway’s The Secret is what caught my eye.

First, The Secret is actually part of a series, Billionaire’s Beach. This is book six. That being said, I jumped right in and had no trouble getting caught up on the world of these characters. While the couples from previous books play a role, this book is definitely focused on Charlotte and Ethan.

Charlotte “Charlie” Emerson is the butler for Ethan Archer and his young son, Wells. She not only takes care of Wells but she keeps the household running as Ethan jets off around the world with his work responsibilities. Charlotte’s role suits her and she is happy with it though lately, she has been fantasizing about Ethan. Charlotte knows this is not a good idea because not only is Ethan her employer, but she has a secret that would prohibit any kind of romantic relationship from happening.

Ethan married the love of his life, Michelle. Unfortunately, she passed away from cancer. They couldn’t have kids and they were lucky to adopt Wells before Michelle was diagnosed. They envisioned a happy future but instead, Ethan has been raising Wells alone. Now on the nearer side to forty, Ethan is wondering if work and Wells is all he has to look forward to. His friends suggest he start dating again, start having sex, but Ethan is not one hundred percent sure he is ready for that step. He does know that he is attracted to Charlotte and that presents problems because Charlotte keeps his home life running smoothly. Would getting entangled with her prove to be cause for celebration or more complications in his life?

The Secret proved to be super sexy (like way sexier than I remember Christie Ridgway’s books in the past). Emotionally it was sexy too. Once I figured out Charlotte’s secret, I was kind of hesitant to keep reading. A lot of people are going to guess instantly (like I did) what the secret is and it’s a tough thing because how do you make her choices seem not intrusive or obsessive. But Christie Ridgway does a decent job of setting things up so that by book’s end, I believed and trusted that Charlotte and Ethan were in a good place to move forward together. While the couple does end up marrying at the end, I wasn’t sure that was exactly the right step but I think it will be a good situation for most readers.

I liked all the characters in this book. I enjoyed seeing their relationships evolve together. And Wells proved to be a fun little boy to have in the book. This is a single-dad romance that is well-done on all fronts: setting (a beautiful beach), hero (a rich guy with a caring heart) and emotional arc (somewhat fast but a true connection). The Secret is fast reading and I am curious about reading some of the other books in the series now.

 

The Secret - Ebook

Title: The Secret
Author: Christie Ridgway
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Being butler to a widower and single father is a dream job in more ways than one for Charlotte “Charlie” Emerson. She helps keep businessman Ethan Archer’s household running without a hitch and enjoys every minute she has with his six-year-old son, Wells. But as time passes, the situation feels alarmingly intimate and when her heart starts beating faster each time Ethan steps through the door, Charlie must exert rigid control over her feelings.
With her secret, falling in love would be all kinds of bad…
Ethan Archer values the woman who keeps his life in order and cares so much for his motherless boy. He and Charlie act in harmony with each other and it’s not hard to picture them as a little family…in fact, it’s so easy, one reckless night he proposes a marriage of convenience.
What will he do if Charlie says yes? And worse, what if she tells him no?

wordswag_1499830665309

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Untitled-designChristie Ridgway is a California native and author of fifty contemporary romances. A six-time RITA finalist and USA Today bestselling author, she writes award-winning, emotional reads starring determined heroines and the men who can’t help but love them. Christie grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, went to college in Santa Barbara, and now is married to the sweetheart she met there.
She started off as a technical writer and moved on to computer programming before having two sons and pursuing the dream she’d held since childhood—writing romance novels. Her first book stars a hero who was a former professional surfer and since then she’s written about businessmen, TV stars, soldiers, journalists, vintners, race car drivers, and horror novelists. What her heroes have in common is their resistance to love and their hardest of falls when they finally do find their right woman.

Connect with Christie:  Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

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Review: Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell

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The Barons #1

As is well documented on this blog, sports romances are definitely my thing. Even though I basically follow no sports aside from hockey in real life, in books, I really enjoy them. Even when they aren’t romances honestly. I was super glad to be able to get to read Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell a bit early and people, you are in for a treat.

Gavin Brawley lives up to his last name. He is a bit of a brawler both on and off the football field, where he plays tight end for the New York Barons. Unfortunately, a recent off the field brawl has left him under house arrest and suspended for several football games. He is going stir crazy and unfortunately, his personality is already a bit rough. Add in his anger with being away from the field and his boredom, and well, Gavin is a very volatile personality.  Unfortunately, his personal business is also falling apart while he is on house arrest since he doesn’t worry about paying the bills. Enter Noah, a recent college graduate looking for some easy money. This job should be easy, even if being around Gavin is not easy. He is hot as heck but his personality leaves much to be desired.

As the old saying goes though, time does help and in this case, the more time Noah and Gavin spend together, the more Noah comes to understand Gavin a bit more. He becomes a lot more sympathetic to Gavin’s house arrest when he learns the real reason behind it too. And frankly, it helped me as a reader too because I hadn’t been too sympathetic to Gavin.

Santino Hassell does a good job of really digging into Gavin’s character though. There are the moments one expects, like learning Gavin has a rough background, but is doing what he can to help kids in the same situation. There are also surprises in the story, enough so to keep the pace of the book moving forward and to prevent either character from becoming cliches.

I was a bit uncertain of Noah honestly. He seemed quite judgmental about Gavin but the more I read, the more I understood that Noah was carrying a lot of baggage into this new job. His last job ended badly, really badly in fact. Noah’s passion is social work and helping others but unfortunately, his last job didn’t quite pan out when his relationship with the boss ended. Noah was heartbroken on many levels and that I could relate to. So to say he is wary of getting involved with Gavin, his employer, is putting it mildly.

There is a great tension between these characters. I liked watching Noah become part of Gavin’s world, starting to understand and appreciate football and the hard work Gavin puts in every day. This was a slow starter of a story for me but in the end, I quite enjoyed it.

Santino Hassell definitely has a way with words when it comes to dirty talk and phew, the love scenes are striking. There is a very, very palpable chemistry between Gavin and Noah. One of my favorite scenes in the book actually isn’t a love scene but is rather when Gavin is playing a game of football at his house during a party that Noah organized. Gavin cannot take his eyes off Noah and I just felt… WOW. This is it. This is the chemistry I look for in a romance.

Illegal Contact is a great start to The Barons series and I am excited to read more from Santino Hassell.

If you’d like to read a fun excerpt from Illegal Contact, follow the link!

Other reviews:

Smexy Books

Diverse Reader

Fiction Vixen

ARC provided by publisher for review.

Release Blitz: The Secret by Christie Ridgway

 

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I am excited to be participating in the release day blitz for Christie Ridgway’s The Secret. I’ve read several of Christie Ridgway’s books in the past and always enjoyed them! So be sure to read about her newest book, The Secret, and purchase your copy today.

The Secret - Ebook

Title: The Secret
Author: Christie Ridgway
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Being butler to a widower and single father is a dream job in more ways than one for Charlotte “Charlie” Emerson. She helps keep businessman Ethan Archer’s household running without a hitch and enjoys every minute she has with his six-year-old son, Wells. But as time passes, the situation feels alarmingly intimate and when her heart starts beating faster each time Ethan steps through the door, Charlie must exert rigid control over her feelings.
With her secret, falling in love would be all kinds of bad…
Ethan Archer values the woman who keeps his life in order and cares so much for his motherless boy. He and Charlie act in harmony with each other and it’s not hard to picture them as a little family…in fact, it’s so easy, one reckless night he proposes a marriage of convenience.
What will he do if Charlie says yes? And worse, what if she tells him no?

wordswag_1499830665309

Amazon | iBooks | B&N | Kobo

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Ethan’s soft laugh brushed along Charlie’s spine, and he slid his hands down to her bottom, tilting her hips and giving her a better feel of him. All over, her skin heated.

He must have seen her reaction, because he let loose a low groan. “Baby. Your face.” Glancing away, he put a bit of distance between their bodies. “Tell me something to get my mind off what I want to do to you all night long.”

His obvious need jolted through her, followed by another wash of heat. God, she desired this man.

“Charlotte…” he said, low and tortured.

“Sorry, sorry,” she answered, trying to think. “Um…culaccino.”

“Wait a minute.” His eyes narrowed. “That sounds dirty.”

She laughed. “It’s the circle left on a table by a wet glass.”

He considered. “Okay, I feel slightly less combustible now.”

“Good,” she stepped away from him, “as long as you can relight that fire tomorrow night.” She gave him an especially lascivious once-over, very un-serious and un-butlerlike, lingering on his crotch.

He groaned again, then snatched her arm to drag her close once more. Instead of kissing her, though, he just stared into her eyes.

Age-otori,” he murmured.

“Which means?” she asked, smiling.

“Wait, not that one. That one’s Japanese for looking worse after a haircut.”

She laughed. “Have you been on the internet again?”

“Yes,” he said. “I want to impress you.” Then he touched his lips to her forehead to again. “I meant to say forelsket. It’s Norwegian—and I’m likely butchering the pronunciation.”

“Is that a fish dish?” she guessed.

He shook his head. “Look it up later.”

Then he moved off toward Wells, who was coming awake after his short cat nap.

Charlie managed to make it until night, alone in her cozy bungalow, before doing a search on the word forelsket. She expected to find it was something funny. Or maybe something a little bit filthy.

That raw, sexual side of Ethan had come as an exciting surprise.

Her lips were curved in anticipation as the results scrolled onto her screen. When she read the definition, she fell onto her bed, her world rocked.

Forelsket described the giddy exhilaration one feels when beginning to fall in love.

Did Ethan mean…

Her head reeled and her stomach roiled too.

Surely he didn’t mean it. He’d told her he’d had his love of a lifetime—Michelle. That his marriage to Charlie would be a practical arrangement between two people with a fierce attraction to each other.

But either way, she was beginning to realize that her lie of omission could too easily become a wedge between them—one capable of destroying the exact thing she wanted to build.

Oh, God. Did this mean she was going to have to find a way to tell Ethan the truth?

Untitled-designChristie Ridgway is a California native and author of fifty contemporary romances. A six-time RITA finalist and USA Today bestselling author, she writes award-winning, emotional reads starring determined heroines and the men who can’t help but love them. Christie grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, went to college in Santa Barbara, and now is married to the sweetheart she met there.
She started off as a technical writer and moved on to computer programming before having two sons and pursuing the dream she’d held since childhood—writing romance novels. Her first book stars a hero who was a former professional surfer and since then she’s written about businessmen, TV stars, soldiers, journalists, vintners, race car drivers, and horror novelists. What her heroes have in common is their resistance to love and their hardest of falls when they finally do find their right woman.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

Elle Kennedy news!!

Elle Kennedy is one of my absolute favorite romance writers. I love her hockey books but I actually fell in love with her through her SEAL romances. So, this makes me super-duper happy to be able to say that these romances are being re-released!!!

Hot-And-Bothered-Ebook

Coming August 15!

Three sizzling-hot stories from New York Times and international bestselling
author Elle Kennedy!

Give a SEAL an inch, and he’ll take your heart.

Heat of the Moment
For almost a year Shelby has lusted over swoon-worthy Garrett, but she can’t figure out why he’s not interested… until she overhears him saying she’s too vanilla for his taste. When a heat wave sends the sexy Navy SEAL into her bakers, she finally has the opportunity to show him exactly what he’s missing…

Heat of Passion
Holly has too much on her plate to think about a series relationship. A hot fling with a SEAL, though, is the perfect way to take the edge off. The last thing she expects is to run into her gorgeous one-night stand weeks later, and to discover that Carson wants the one thing she doesn’t: more. In the face of his methodical seduction, her resistance is crumbling…

Heat of the Storm
Will has waiting fifteen years for the storm that sends Mackenzie into his arms. He’s the one man not scared of her psychic gift, and their one night of passion is enough to convince this tenacious SEAL that they are much, much more than friends. Now he just has to convince her of that…

Warning: Contains dangerously hot Navy SEALS, and heroines not afraid to take
them on one—or two—at a time.

Follow Elle: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Release Day: Royally Endowed by Emma Chase

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ROYALLY ENDOWED
The Royally Series Book 3
By Emma Chase
Release Day: August 14th 2017

Logan St. James is a smoldering, sexy beast. Sure, he can be a little broody at times—but Ellie Hammond’s willing to overlook that. Because, have you seen him??

Sexy. As. Hell.

And Ellie’s perky enough for both of them.

For years, she’s had a crush on the intense, protective royal security guard—but she doesn’t think he ever saw her, not really.

To Logan, Ellie was just part of the job—a relative of the royal family he’d sworn to protect. Now, at 22 years old and fresh out of college, she’s determined to put aside her X-rated dreams of pat-downs and pillow talk, and find a real life happily ever after.

The Queen of Wessco encourages Ellie to follow in her sister’s footsteps and settle down with a prince of her own. Or a duke, a marquis…a viscount would also do nicely.

But in the pursuit of a fairy tale ending, Ellie learns that the sweetest crushes can be the hardest to let go.
***
Logan St. James grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, in a family on the wrong side of the law. But these days, he covers his tattoos and scars with a respectable suit. He’s handsome, loyal, brave, skilled with his hands and…other body parts.

Any woman would be proud to bring him home to her family.

But there’s only one woman he wants.

For years he’s watched over her, protected her, held her hair back when she was sick, taught her how to throw a punch, and spot a liar.

He dreams of her. Would lay down his life for her.

But beautiful Ellie Hammond’s off-limits.

Everybody knows the bodyguard rules: Never lose focus, never let them out of your sight, and never, ever fall in love.

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Emma Chase is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the hot and hilarious Tangled series and The Legal Briefs series. Emma lives in New Jersey with her husband, two children and two naughty (but really cute) dogs. She has a long-standing love/hate relationship with caffeine.

 

Website | Facebook | Newsletter | Twitter | Goodreads | Reader Fan Group

 

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Prologue: Logan Some men think with their cocks. You know the type. Quick smooth-talkers, shifty eyes always scanning for a nice pair of legs, a set of full tits, or a tight arse they can pant after. Other blokes think too much with their brains. You know that type too. Annoyingly careful, slow-moving, constantly parsing their words like they already know whatever they’re saying is going to come back and take a bite out of them. I’m not either of those. I always go with my gut. When it clenches with a warning, I act—no hesitation. When it tugs and nudges, I pause and reevaluate. When it twists and writhes, I know, guaranteed, I’ve cocked up big-time. My gut is my best friend, my conscience, my most lethal asset. And it has never let me down. It’s my gut that drags me to her door. That roots me in place as I knock. That gives me the words—pleading, unfamiliar remorseful words—I’ll gladly say to make this right. To get her back. Because while my gut is brilliant, sometimes I can be a real fucking idiot. Yesterday was one of those times. “Ellie. It’s me—open up, we need to talk.” I sense movement on the other side of the solid oak door—not in sounds or shifting shadows beneath it, but more of an awareness. I can feel her in there. Nearby and listening.   “Go away, Logan.” Her voice is tight, higher-pitched than usual. Upset. “Ellie, please. I was a twat, I know . . .” I’m not keen on begging from the hallway, but if that’s what it takes . . .  “I’m sorry. Let me in.” Ellie is difficult to anger, quick to forgive; she just doesn’t have it in her to hold a grudge. So her next words fall like an axe—cutting my legs right off from under me. “No, you were right. The princess’s sister and the East Amboy bodyguard don’t make sense—we’ll never last.” Did I actually say that to her? What the fuck is wrong with me? What I feel for her is the one thing in my life that makes sense. That matters. But I never told her that. Instead . . . instead, I said all the wrong things.  I brace my palm against the smooth wood, leaning forward, wanting to be as near to her as possible. “Elle . . .” “I’ve changed my mind, Logan.” If a corpse could speak, it would sound exactly like my Ellie does now. Flat, lifeless.   “I want the fairy tale. I want what Olivia has . . . castles and carriages . . . and you’ll never be able to give me that. I would just be settling for you. You’ll never be able to make me happy.” She doesn’t mean that. They’re my words—the insecurities I put on her—that she’s hurling back in my face.   But God, it fucking hurts to hear. Physically hurts—stabbing deep into the pit of my stomach, crushing my chest, grinding my bones. I meant it when I said I would die for her . . . and right now, it feels like I am.  I grab the doorknob to walk inside, to see her face. To see that she doesn’t mean it. “Ellie—” “Don’t come in!” she screeches like I’ve never heard her before. “I don’t want to see you! Go away, Logan. We’re done—just go!” I breathe hard—that’s what you do when pain wrecks you, breathe through it. Then I swallow bile, straighten up, turn around and walk down the hall. Away from her. Just like she wants, like she asked. Like she screamed. My brain tells me to move faster—get the hell out of there, cut my losses and lick my wounds. And my heart—Christ—that poor bastard’s too battered and bloody to say anything at all. But then, just over halfway down the hall, my steps slow until I stop completely.  Because my gut . . . it strains through the hurt. Rebels. It shouts that this isn’t right. This isn’t her. Something’s off.  And even more than that . . . something is very, very wrong. I glance up and down the quiet hall—not a guard or a maid in sight. I look back at the door. Closed and silent and still. Then I turn and march straight back to it. I don’t knock, or wait, or ask for permission. In one move, I turn the knob and step inside. What I see there stops me cold.  Because whatever I was expecting, it sure as fuck wasn’t this. Not at all . . .

Cover Blast & Excerpt for The Learning Hours by Sara Ney

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THE LEARNING HOURS
How to Date a Douchebag Book 3
By Sara Ney
Release Day: September 26, 2017
Standalone

 

He’s not a douchebag;
but that doesn’t stop his friends from
turning him into one.

MY FRIENDS WANT ME TO GET LAID.

So much so that they plastered my ugly mug all over campus, in bold printed letters:

Are you the lucky lady who’s going to break our roommate’s cherry?
Him: socially awkward man with average-sized penis looking for willing sexual partner. You: must have pulse. Text him at: 555-254-5551

The morons can’t even spell. And the texts I’ve been receiving are what wet dreams are made of. But I’m not like these douchebags, no matter how hard they try to turn me into one.

THIS ISN’T THE KIND OF ATTENTION I WANT.

One text stands out from hundreds. One number I can’t bring myself to block. She seems different. Hotter, even in black and white.

However, after seeing her in person, I know she’s not the girl for me. But my friends won’t let up—they just don’t get it. Douchebags or not, there’s one thing they’ll never understand: GIRLS DON’T WANT ME.

Especially her.

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saraauthorSara Ney is the USA Today Bestselling Author of the How to Date a Douchebag series, and is best known for her sexy, laugh-out-loud New Adult romances. Among her favorite vices, she includes: iced latte’s, historical architecture and well-placed sarcasm. She lives colorfully, collects vintage books, art, loves flea markets, and fancies herself British.

She lives with her husband, children, and her ridiculously large dog.

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

EXCERPT:

He’s seated at a table in the far corner when I spot him from the door. He’s not hard to miss—not with his purple t-shirt in a sea of black and yellow, and wavy mussed hair.

 

He’s slouching, hunched over his table.

Defeated. Tired.

 

My stomach rolls with nerves, nerves that have me rooted to the spot in the doorway, watching him.


Just watching.

 

For the entire four minutes I stand here, he sits immobile, studying his laptop, eyes moving along the screen, completely transfixed by whatever he’s reading.

 

Learning.

 

“Just go over there,” I whisper to myself, blowing out a puff of pent-up air.

 

I put one foot in front of the other and begin toward him, spine ramrod straight, steeling myself, prepared for another argument.

 

Twenty feet.

 

Fifteen.

 

Eight.

 

Two.

 

“Hi.”

 

No reply.

 

“Do you mind if I sit here?” I lay my hand on the back of the wooden chair across from him, intending to pull it out.

 

He stiffens but doesn’t lift his head. “Yes I mind.”

 

“Would you mind if I sat at the table next to you?” I’m pushing his buttons, looking for a reaction, but he only spares me a brief glance.

 

Shrugs. “Free country.”

 

I bite my lip to hide a smile, glad he didn’t tell me to take a hike…

Review: Breaking Roman by Alexis James

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Breaking Roman is the third book in Alexis James’ Moran Family series. I have not read the first two books but I now have them on my to-read list because I really liked Breaking Roman.

Roman “Romeo” Moran is the player of the family, the love ’em and leave ’em guy. It is a persona he hates unfortunately. Roman has his eyes set on someone and he has admired her for a long time. He is just too gun shy to do anything about it. It’s easier to admire her from afar than risk getting turned down and having his dreams crushed. But when an unexpected opportunity arises to get to know Sabrina better, Roman takes it. It goes against the wishes of his two older brothers but he just has to try.

Sabrina devotes herself to work and her teenage daughter. She has admired Roman but knows nothing can ever come of it. He’s not exactly husband material. And Sabrina is still dealing with the emotional aftermath of her ex. There is no way she can get involved with a “Romeo” type.

I quite enjoyed how Alexis James breaks down the stereotypes of the “player” and the “cold” woman. Roman isn’t a player. He dates a lot but he is looking for true love. Sabrina may be a bit cool at first, a bit more reticent with affection but there is no doubt that she comes to care deeply for Roman.

The one thing that kind of threw me in this story is a little disturbance near the end that seemed tacked on to create unrealistic conflict. I could have done without that because I really thought the pacing of their story was right on target. Initial conflict and getting to know each other, then a deeper connection. Roman and Sabrina really worked for me as a couple as the story continued.

I also enjoyed getting to know the Moran family and Sabrina’s daughter, Emmy. They all contributed to the warm feeling of family the book has throughout. Family is important to Roman and Sabrina and the author shows that in the story.

Breaking Roman may be my first book by Alexis James but it will not be the last. I’m super intrigued by Roman’s older brothers and their love interests. There is sufficient detail given in the story to hook you into wanting to learn more about them, but not so much that Roman and Sabrina’s story is lost.

This book is well worth your reading time!

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Breaking Roman
by Alexis James
(The Moran Family #3)
Publication date: June 27th 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

They call me Romeo.

I love romancing women, and I’m good at it.

Too bad it is all a ruse.

Roman, the youngest of the three Moran brothers, is the only one who has ever believed in true love. Too bad his one special person barely acknowledges his existence.

Sabrina Morris spends her days running the HR Department of The Moran Group, and her nights corralling her teenage daughter. She doesn’t have time for love. She’s heard the stories, but Roman is not at all what she expects him to be. His gentle nature catches her completely off-guard. She doesn’t expect to be attracted to him, and she certainly doesn’t expect him to be equally drawn to her. But can she see past his Romeo façade and allow the warm, loving man into her life?

Add Breaking Roman on Goodreads! | Follow the Tour

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AlexisAlexis James lives on the beautiful Central California coast. When she’s not spending time with her hubby of almost 30 years or her amazing kids, you can find her tapping away on the computer. She loves reading, spending time with family, reading, camping, reading….and writing too! She enjoys a good date night, an inexpensive glass of wine, and any story that can make her smile and/or cry.

Alexis’s first novel, “Losing Faith”, was released in September 2014. Her second novel, “Loving Emma”, is a standalone, though it does feature some characters from “Losing Faith”.

She invites you to visit her author pages on Facebook and Goodreads, and her website: alexisjamesauthor.com. You can also follow her on Twitter (@alexisjames27) or you can email her at: alexisjamesauthor@gmail.com.