Limecello http://www.tartsweet.com A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet Sat, 04 Jul 2015 11:04:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Happy Independence Day! http://www.tartsweet.com/2015/07/04/happy-independence-day/ http://www.tartsweet.com/2015/07/04/happy-independence-day/#comments Sat, 04 Jul 2015 11:04:45 +0000 http://www.tartsweet.com/?p=8648 It’s a holiday, my friends! Well,  if you aren’t stateside, it’s just happy fourth to you. :) I’ve decided to share the Declaration of Independence today. It’s obviously an incredibly important document – not just to the United States –  as it set off a number of important and historic changes. I think we often forget about the actual words. In fact, I couldn’t remember the last time I read it through… so here we go. I hope you join me in taking a minute to read what our founding forefathers wrote. Of course they weren’t perfect, but with some things … yes.

Declaration of Independence

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

I didn’t include all 56 names … but you can read them here. And you can find out more about the Declaration here, on the National Archives page. Which is also where I copied the text from. [Thanks, Government!]

So I hope you all have a happy and fun July 4th. And if you’re not American … well, we appropriate a number of holidays, so turn those tables and join us! Grill something. Eat red, white, and/or blue foods. (Yes, this is why there are always so many cakes etc with white frosting, decorated with strawberries or raspberries, and blueberries.) Light some sparklers and twirl!

Xoxo

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Teaser “Tuesday” Exclusive Excerpt: Sacrifice by Kate Pearce http://www.tartsweet.com/2015/07/02/teaser-tuesday-exclusive-excerpt-sacrifice-by-kate-pearce/ http://www.tartsweet.com/2015/07/02/teaser-tuesday-exclusive-excerpt-sacrifice-by-kate-pearce/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 04:35:11 +0000 http://www.tartsweet.com/?p=8644 Hi friends! So, I know it’s not Tuesday – everything was pushed back a bit and you know how it goes. The fifth Tuesday of the month belongs to Riptide Publishing! I think it’s especially fitting, considering the recent Supreme Court decision – this Teaser Tuesday spot was just perfect! Also, that we have an excerpt of Sacrifice, an upcoming title from the fabulous Kate Pearce. You can actually read chapter one on Riptide’s site right now – and come back to read chapter two below!

SacrificeAwaiting execution on a foreign planet, Anna Lee has nothing left to lose—until Commander Rehz Akran offers her a chance to escape her fate. Anything is better than death, but when her training for Akran’s mysterious mission begins, the brutality is hard to take . . . especially since Anna has no idea what the workouts, beatings, and endless sexual demands are preparing her for.

Rehz Akran doesn’t deal with failure. He’s determined that his last trainee will survive her immersion in an unimaginably alien world and return alive—even if it means she’ll hate him forever. He needs to stay detached, but his new recruit makes that impossible. Soon he’s willing to defy his own training for a chance to forge a true connection with Anna.

It’s Rehz’s job to teach Anna to survive as a Tribute. And if she does, it’s his task to help her overcome the trauma of the experience. But this time he isn’t doing it to save his planet. This time he’s doing it for love.

Read Chapter 1 here.
Chapter 2

“Do it again.”Anna set her jaw and raised the heavy practice sword to meet Akran’s.

“You’re not trying.”

They were in the training complex, in a circular arena that reminded her of a round pen they’d used to school horses they’d had on the ranch. There were other pairs of trainers and . . . whatever she was, dotted around the space. All of the trainers—nine men and one woman—had wandered over to stare at her, and all of them, without exception, had put their hands on her.

At least her tits and ass were covered in the stretchy black bikini-type outfit Akran referred to as workout clothes. Of course, he could still put his hand up her skirt or slip it under the thin bandeau wrapped around her chest. And he did. Way too often for her liking. She was still sore from the lesson he’d given her the day before and the cock-sucking session that would now, apparently, start every day.

“Lee!” She gasped as his sword met hers and knocked her clean off her feet. Within a second he crouched over her, his razor-edged blade biting into her throat.

“You need to concentrate.”

“I’ve never fought with a sword before. It’s not part of my culture.”

He sighed, his breath warm on the back of her neck, and hauled her to her feet. “Don’t talk back to me.”

“How am I supposed to defend myself if I’m not allowed to talk?” She glared at him. “I have no idea how to use this weapon!”

“I don’t care whether you’re a fucking expert with a blade. I want you to be fit enough to take on anything I throw at you. You tire way too quickly.” His gaze fastened on her mouth when she started to argue. “Either shut up and listen, or you’ll regret it.”

She raised her chin. “What are you going to do? Rip out my tongue?”

He reached for her and flung her over his shoulder like a sack of flour. Her breath whooshed out, and she tried to wriggle away. His palm met her backside with a resounding slap that made her eyes water. He jogged through what seemed like miles of tunnel, his breathing regular, and his arm an iron band around her waist.

She quailed as he eventually upended her in the same room with the white plastic gurneys. He dumped her on top of one, which immediately closed around her.

“Stay there.”

For once, she was too dizzy to argue with him. He returned a second later with the man she’d met the previous day, who was nodding at whatever Akran was saying to him.

“Yes. I can do that. For how long?”

“From now until end of day.”

“All right. Where do you want me to put her when I’m done?”

“In the mess hall.”

“Oh, an object lesson, then.” He studied Anna, who glared back at him. “There shouldn’t be any permanent damage. I’ll keep the power level low. We don’t want her losing sensation.”

“No, we do not, Prof. We want her to experience every single moment.” Akran nodded at Anna. “That’s another half day of training you’ve lost me. I’ll see you later.”

She didn’t dare answer him. She already had a feeling that shooting her mouth off in this facility was not going to work out well.

*******

“She’s a tough one, Rehz.”

Rehz glanced over at Kai. “The females are hard to condition. Having less body mass means they don’t do well without nutrition, which means they don’t tend to survive as long.” He sighed. “That’s probably why our overlords don’t seem to request many females.”

“Lucky them,” Kai grunted. “Do you think she’ll make it?”

“I have no idea. If sheer stubbornness is a criterion, then she’s going to be the best I’ve ever trained. I just have to come down hard on her right now so that she stops fighting me. If she doesn’t, high command will eliminate her anyway.”

“Where is she now?” Rehz shot Kai a glance. “You’ll find out shortly.”

They paused at the doorway of the mess hall, and Kai let out his breath. “Greez, she’s here already?”

“She won’t stop answering me back.”

“So we’re going to give her mouth something else to do all night.” Kai grinned. “I’m game for that.”

Rehz watched his friend walk toward the raised dais in the center of the room. There were two naked figures kneeling there. A male—who in Rehz’s opinion wouldn’t make the final cut—and Anna Lee, a real troublemaker. Even from the door he could see the glint of the gold circle the professor had installed in her mouth, making it impossible for her to close her lips. Two chains ran down from the side of the ring to her nipples and were clamped there. Another chain ran down to her clit and another clamp. Her hands were locked in the small of her back. She couldn’t change position even if she wanted to.

He followed Kai and watched from the side where Lee couldn’t quite see him.

Kai smiled and slowly unbuttoned his pants. “You must want cock.”

He guided the head of his dick toward the circle of gold and leaned in until he was completely inside.

“Nice.” Kai started to move his hips, and Rehz knew, because he’d been the one to plan and order the mouth ring, that each slam of a cock set off tiny shocks that traveled down to Anna’s nipples and her clit. Small shocks at first, but as she’d find out after servicing all the cocks in the dining room, cumulatively unpleasant and wearing. She’d have to come eventually, and that wouldn’t feel too good either.

He was partly sickened by what he had to do and partly aroused. He wanted his cock in her, making her jerk and come for him. Recently, he’d started to hate the lengths he had to go to in order to enforce his will on the trainees as quickly and as harshly as possible. They didn’t know what was facing them. Rehz did. He supposed it was a version of cruel-to-be-kind.

Kai came and finally withdrew from Lee’s mouth.

“Nice. I’ll come back for dessert.” Kai winked at Lee, but she wasn’t looking at him. She was trying to look down at her clamped nipples and clit. Rehz strolled past her and nodded before taking his place at the dining table, where he could watch everyone else stopping to avail themselves of her mouth.

By the time dinner was finished, her skin was glowing from a combination of sweat and the come that some of his colleagues had allowed to trickle down between her breasts, or which had filled her mouth so fast that she hadn’t been able to swallow it. Rehz’s dick was hard and aching. He gently cupped his balls and considered her, waiting until everyone else had left.

She didn’t look at him as he approached, so he crouched in front of her.

“Let’s go through this again. I ask the questions. You don’t. You answer me promptly, preferably by doing whatever the hell I’ve told you to do. If I want your opinion, I’ll ask for it. I don’t have time to waste explaining greez to you. I need your absolute and complete attention, and your total obedience.”

He waited a beat and then shoved a hand in her damp blonde hair and raised her head. “If you prefer it this way, we can keep the ring in your mouth on a permanent basis. And if you still defy me, I’ll add one in your cunt and another in your ass so you can’t stop me doing whatever the fuck I want whenever I want it.”

She met his gaze and held it.

“Nod your head if you agree to keep your mouth shut unless I give you permission to use it.”

She slowly lowered her head and then kept it down. He was aware of a huge sensation of relief sweeping over him.

When had he got so soft? Why wasn’t he just striking her off the list and sending her to the executioner?

“Come on, then.”

He attached her leash and disconnected her wrists and ankles from the structure behind her.

“Come.”

He took her back through the echoing passageways to his quarters and had her kneel on the floor by his chair. Watching her the whole time, he slowly unzipped his pants and wrapped a fist in her hair.

“Suck me.”

She made a small, desperate sound, but he didn’t call her on it. Her mouth was sore. He knew how it felt. When she’d taken his cock deep, he detached the two gold chains that ran from the sides of her mouth to her breasts and threaded them through the loops of his pants and around the back of her head, anchoring her firmly in place between his thighs.

“Keep me hard while I work.”

He turned his attention to writing up the daily reports he submitted to headquarters and collating and reading everyone else’s. Some of the trainees were doing well. The male who’d been with Lee in the dining hall would have to go . . .

So what’d you think? 😀

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Guest: Jenn LeBlanc http://www.tartsweet.com/2015/06/30/guest-jenn-leblanc/ http://www.tartsweet.com/2015/06/30/guest-jenn-leblanc/#comments Tue, 30 Jun 2015 07:53:48 +0000 http://www.tartsweet.com/?p=8637 Hi friends! Sooo my birthday has come and gone, but June is juuuust at the edge of leaving us, so Jenn LeBlanc has decided to stretch things out. Whee!! Everyone give her a warm welcome. Jenn is a lot of fun, so I hope you go a little crazy with her. Us. >.>

I hear it’s YOUR birthday! And we’re all here to celebrate, because why on earth wouldn’t we?!!? The day Lime was brought to the world was a great day.
For your birthday, I give you images from my newest illustrated romance novel, because WHY WOULDN’T I? They do make the best gift.
Like this one of my hero Warrick and his love, Lulu:

Or this one of Warrick and Lulu:

The D and the D

Or Warrick on his own:

Warrick Back
I like Warrick on his own… do you?

Happy birthday Lime!!

Duke and Domina

Want more? Come find me: Facebook Twitter Instagram

The Duke and the DominaHe’s poor. She’s rich.
He’s a sub. She’s a switch.
It’s not love.
It’s a marriage of kink-venience.
Grayson Locke Danforth, in his wildest of dreams, never expected two things.
The first was to be recalled from India by Queen Victoria where he worked for the quiet purposes of the crown. He must now become the Duke of Warrick after the tragic deaths of his father and brothers. However, tragedy is entirely in the eyes of the beholder, and Grayson doesn’t want the title, or to return to what remains of his family. Grayson wants to remain invisible, an outcast, a man in exile for the way his body and mind behave and the secrets he needs to keep.
The second thing he never expected was to be forced into marriage to a woman from the twenty-first century.
Lulu is no mere woman, however. She’s a switch who works as a professional Dominatrix—at least, she did. When she wakes up in a strange house, a strange world, a strange body, she isn’t quite sure what to think and is certain she’s dreaming. She has less than a day to gain her bearings and make a decision that will dictate the rest of her life in this world—whether or not to marry this beautiful stranger.
As Lulu and Grayson attempt to begin a life together, she discovers the true reason why this man is a stranger to his family. She can only hope she can persuade Grayson to accept who she is, and who he was born to be, before he forces her out of his life in order to maintain his well-kept secrets.
Trust doesn’t come easily to either of them, but it’s the only thing they have.
Grayson will have to give in to his need to submit in order to get his wife to open up and allow him to possess her fully in return.
It’s a cautious dance between two people who have never known how to trust, or love.

You can buy a copy here.

What do you think? Two – yes TWO – lucky commenters will win an ebook copy of The Duke and the Domina. Hot, huh? 😀
Now – come on, I want to know what sort of things you’d like to know about the illustrated romance books, the process, and so on!

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Review: The Girl Next Door by Amy Jo Cousins http://www.tartsweet.com/2015/06/29/review-the-girl-next-door-by-amy-jo-cousins/ http://www.tartsweet.com/2015/06/29/review-the-girl-next-door-by-amy-jo-cousins/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 05:33:53 +0000 http://www.tartsweet.com/?p=8616 Karen’s Review of The Girl Next Door (Bend or Break) by Amy Jo Cousins
Contemporary romance released by Samhain Publishing on June 16, 2015

The Girl Next DoorWhen it comes to love, go big or go home.

Bend or Break, Book 3

Charles “Cash” Carmichael traded his high-rise condo and family-firm career for a job coaching soccer for Chicago’s inner-city kids. He’s adjusting to living on minimum wage when his young cousin, newly out and running away from home, shows up on his less-than-luxurious doorstep.

Angsty teens definitely aren’t Cash’s thing. He needs local backup, and there’s only one name he can think of: Stephany Tyler. Back in the day, the bisexual Steph was the perfect friend with benefits until she fell in love with a woman.

To his relief, his former friend steps up to the plate. Soon, though, Cash finds himself feeling the familiar need to keep her in his bed, and in his life. But Steph, burned by the ex-girlfriend and by the absentee dad she’s been trying to connect with, won’t risk her heart again.

Good thing Cash believes in leaving it all on the field. If he can just convince Steph to get in the game, there’s a chance they can both win.

Warning: This book contains ex-friends with benefits crossing boundaries a second time, several steamy encounters on staircases, copious discussions about gay sex from a “straight” guy, a shout-out to magic buttons, and an especially memorable going away threesome.

While this is part of the bend or Break series, it can be read as a standalone. I enjoyed Off Campus, the first in this series and the book where we meet Cash and Steph, I loved Nothing Like Paris (both books are m/m) and my jaded heart rejoiced when I heard that The Girl Next Door was going to be m/f albeit with a queer twist. Amy-Jo Cousins writes with such emotion, and her ability to get inside her characters heads is second to none. I wanted this book really badly…

Cash, in my opinion  is one of the most attractive characters I’ve come across in romance, he is so open and self aware, his love of what he does, an inner city football coach, is so clear, as is his desire not to be such a rich kid slumming it. Cash tries so hard to be the best that he can be. From making sure that he correctly pronounces his students names, to making sure that his cousin, Denny, gets access to as much information about being gay as possible.  Girl Next Door is totally written from Cash’s perspective. And it is a wonderful place to be.  One of my favourite elements of cash’s character is his commitment to healthy eating and recycling, there were times reading about him I actually caught myself saying “aww” out laud.

Steph, I have never wanted a female character to be so cool, and she didn’t disappoint. I struggle often in reading ‘het’ romance in being able to relate to a lot of the women, but Steph, with her open sexuality, spikiness and vulnerability is wonderful.

I did find that Ms. Cousins set the location scene really well, I have never been to Chicago, but I got such a sense of extreme weather and cultural diversity that I did feel like I knew the place.  Although this is romance, it is also very much about the family we make with our friends and finding your own way in life.  I found this to be the most affecting part of the book, Cash has completely changed his way of life, what anchors him is his relationships with his friends, Steph being one of them. I think that this was my favourite part of the book, the almost ‘coming of age’ element, finding out who you are, and what it is you want, and Cash does want Steph.

The romance itself is a slow burn, which at first I didn’t appreciate, but as I read on I think that it reflected Steph’s initial resistance to any real intimacy, the last third of the book really focused on the romantic relationship as well, and I really felt how vulnerable and scared Steph really was.

There was quite a lot of internet chatter over the sex in this book, and – especially as there is a m/m/f scene and anal play, and while these scenes were stimulating, they actually lacked the kind of emotional connection that I have come to expect of Amy Jo Cousins.  That did in fact come later, thankfully.

For me a romance is primarily about the two main characters, and despite all the bravery and difference of Girl Next Door, I craved more Steph, and then more Steph and Cash.

Overall a really great story, vibrant and lively with one of the most engaging main characters in Cash that I have read in a long time.

Grade: B+

You can buy a copy here.

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Ask Some Bloggers ~Anything http://www.tartsweet.com/2015/06/27/ask-some-bloggers-anything/ http://www.tartsweet.com/2015/06/27/ask-some-bloggers-anything/#comments Sat, 27 Jun 2015 13:03:44 +0000 http://www.tartsweet.com/?p=8623 Hi friends!

First things first – I got to see this yesterday (and a picture) and it was so cool.

White House 6/26

So it’s birthday month and all that jazz and I figured I hadn’t been doing as much – like me saying stuff in a long time. I meant to write distinctive posts for each Saturday in June but you know how life never turns out as planned.

A few months ago my friend Tori (@smexys_sidekick) was tweeting how she was giving a talk at a RWA chapter meeting I believe, about blogging – and I thought “hey that’s a neat idea – I’m going to rope her into it again!”) She was kind enough to say “yes” and so here we are! If you don’t know who she is, Tori is a reviewer for Smexybooks, Heroes & Heartbreakers, and RT Magazine.

Me … well I’ve been kicking around Romanceland for the past dozen or so years. I’ve been an active romance blogger since ~2005 at various places – more(?) notably with The Good, The Bad, The Unread (2007-11), with Heroes & Heartbreakers since the launch, and of course here. ALBTALBS started in 2011 😛

We don’t know everything … but I think we know enough. 😀

My point being, if you’ve ever had a question for a blogger, now’s your chance to ask! Ta!

[Oh and if any other bloggers would like to chime in and answer, you’re more than welcome! Xoxo]

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[Belated] Birthday Girl Guest: Jill Sorenson!!! http://www.tartsweet.com/2015/06/25/belated-birthday-girl-guest-jill-sorenson/ http://www.tartsweet.com/2015/06/25/belated-birthday-girl-guest-jill-sorenson/#comments Thu, 25 Jun 2015 04:33:29 +0000 http://www.tartsweet.com/?p=8641 Hi friends! So this one is … all on me. Jill Sorenson’s birthday is actually on June 18th. But I think we all know that the tragic shootings at the Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC took place the night before, so we decided to hold off. Until the next week. I thought we were all well and good until Jill (very politely) emailed me and … I found my gaffe. I’d scheduled it wrong. Alas. Even worse because I think this is a really great post, and ever timely. Enjoy.

Romance Reader Problems

Riding DirtyIt happens every few months, on average. Someone who doesn’t know much about the romance genre writes an article about romance novels. The tone is mocking, the statements are sweeping and inaccurate, Fifty Shades gets mentioned, there’s an outdated Fabio cover, words like “bodice ripper” and “mommy porn” get thrown around, rinse, repeat. 75% of romance twitter gets mad while the other 25% don’t care/agree with the article/get annoyed at those who got mad. Then we have meta-outrage, outrage fatigue, and counter-outrage. Someone in the comments will post a link to dinosaur erotica as proof of the genre’s stupidity WITHOUT FAIL. Without fail.

Someone else will ask why romance insiders don’t write these articles themselves. Well, we do write them. It’s just that romance-positive articles aren’t clickbait. Clickbait is about controversy, and saying nice things isn’t controversial. Harsh criticism is controversial. Mockery is controversial. Ignorance, sexism and polarizing opinions are controversial.

There’s another element to criticism that sort of gets lost in the discussion. We don’t tend to criticize the things we love. We criticize things we don’t love, or don’t understand. We criticize attitudes we oppose and ideas we fear. I’ve heard “it’s okay to like problematic things” a lot, which I think sometimes means “you should stop trying to deny that this thing is problematic” or “you should accept that I’m right about this thing being problematic.” I don’t know if liking problematic things IS okay, to be honest. Because doesn’t problematic mean harmful? Doesn’t it mean offensive stereotypes, racism, sexism, homophobia? Don’t those things cause harm, even when it’s “just fiction”? Furthermore, does being able to distinguish fantasy from reality reduce the potential harm? Does identifying problems in a text keep us safe? Or is it the opposite, what we don’t know can’t hurt us?

When we like problematic things, we buy them and support them and make sure they keep getting made. Call me crazy, but I see that as a problem. So it’s no wonder that fans of problematic things resist this label. I resist it. If someone says “Motorcycle club romance is problematic,” I will agree. Unless they’re talking about my books specifically or some other book I like. Then I’ll resist, because I don’t see my books/books I like as harmful or offensive.

Romance readers tend to criticize tropes, books and subgenres we aren’t fond of. I criticize slut-shaming pretty often. If a book is full of slut-shaming, I’m not going to enjoy it. I can’t imagine recommending a book like that. So for me, problematic = did not enjoy, for the most part. One exception I can think of is when a book tackles a problematic subject, like rape fantasy. If it’s well done, does that reduce the harm or make the content less problematic? I don’t know, but I can’t think of many problematic, super-offensive romances I’ve enjoyed.

Recently Anita Sarkseesian of Feminist Frequency made some comments about Mad Max: Fury Road. It wasn’t a scathing set-down or anything, but she didn’t consider the movie feminist. I wonder if that means she didn’t enjoy it, or if she enjoyed it less than others who believe it IS feminist.

What about you? Do you like problematic things? Is it hard to criticize something you love? Does identifying a book or movie as problematic affect your enjoyment at all?

Bio: Jill Sorenson is the RITA-nominated author of more than a dozen romantic suspense novels, including the Aftershock series by HQN. She lives in the San Diego area with her family. She’s a soccer mom who loves nature, coffee, reading, twitter and reality TV. Jogging keeps her sane.

Riding Dirty is her first erotic suspense novel.

Jill has also very generously offered a copy of Wild to one lucky commenter! I’d love to hear what you think about the subjects Jill brought up. And everyone please join me in wishing Jill a very happy belated birthday!

WildZookeeper Helena Fjord loves her job at San Diego’s Wildlife Park. She’s too busy taking care of baby elephants to worry about her personal life. Her long-distance relationship might be falling apart, but that doesn’t mean she’s going to fool around with handsome, laidback security officer Josh Garrison. She steers clear of his silly pranks and sexy smile—until disaster strikes.

Josh has been coasting ever since his Navy SEAL dreams went up in smoke. He’s always had the hots for Helena, but the lady is off-limits. When a devastating earthquake hits, the pair must work together to secure the park’s borders. With wild animals on the loose, aftershocks imminent, and fires blazing across the city, they face serious peril—and a powerful attraction. Josh vows to protect Helena at all costs. But who will safeguard her heart?

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Guest: Amie Stuart http://www.tartsweet.com/2015/06/23/guest-amie-stuart/ http://www.tartsweet.com/2015/06/23/guest-amie-stuart/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 07:03:44 +0000 http://www.tartsweet.com/?p=8619 Hey y’all! Zomggg I can’t believe June is almost over. This month has been crazy. Nothing like I planned, but hey sometimes that works right? I’m super excited to welcome Amie Stuart to ALBTALBS today – so everyone give her a warm welcome! Honestly nothing else is needed – she can take it from here. 😀

First off and most importantly HAPPY BIRTHDAY LIME!!!!

For those of you new to Amie Stuart Books, Hittin’ It is actually a reissue. It was originally released from Kensington as a 2-story anthology in 2009. I got the rights back and I’ve decided to re-release the entire series (Nailed, Hittin’ It and then Screwed in early 2016).

When I originally wrote this series, the idea of hitmen as heroes was not an easy sell. MY how times have changed—and if I do say say, for the better. And when I wrote Hittin’ It, the idea of a vagabond (and basically homeless) heroine wasn’t exactly considered mainstream either, so I’m very excited to get the chance to introduce Will and Sabrina (and Scamp!) to a new set of readers.
I hope you enjoy reading about them as much as I enjoyed writing them!

Hittin' ItAs a professional hit man, Will Collier has more secrets than most. But on a sweltering Texas night, the lives he’s taken rank second place to the love he’d like to be making with a sensual Bohemian beauty.

Sabrina Walker is intimately familiar with the havoc Cupid can wreak. She’s determined that love will never seduce her again, until she meets Will Collier and discovers that some secrets are better when shared.

Will had driven as far as the Hampton Inn in Ft. Stockton before pulling off for the night. While unloading the SUV he’d discovered a crate of Sabrina’s journals. They would have been perfectly safe in his SUV all night, but curiosity had made him grab two of them and carry them upstairs to his room. He tossed them on the dresser where they called to him while he showered and worked.

He’d memorized the job details his father had sent him. Acknowledgement wasn’t necessary. He only needed to respond if he was unwilling to take the job or had questions. He was rarely unwilling and only drew a hard line at settling domestic disputes. Those were just messy from the word go, a prison sentence waiting to happen unless you took out both parties, and obviously, that idea didn’t usually go over well with the client.

Once he was done, he’d stretched out in the cool confines of the queen-sized bed, the television turned to CNN and muted, and learned a lot about Sabrina’s last year on the road. Fascinated, he’d stayed awake reading much longer than he should have.

Now here he was, sitting in a nearly-empty restaurant, sipping coffee and waiting on his eggs and turkey bacon and reading about the life and times of Sabrina Walker–the early days. The pages were musty and filled with doodles of animal faces and tarot card figures, and elaborate girlish handwriting that slanted crisply to the right.

Note to self: stay the hell out of Alabama.

Jail sucks. Jail really sucks. I don’t care what anyone says about ‘three hots and a cot’, I’m never going back. I can see why my dad didn’t want to go. Bastard.

Of course, dear old daddy wouldn’t have had to blow the sheriff to get fed either.

The scalding hot sip of coffee Will had just taken turned sour in his mouth. He forced himself to swallow. This was definitely worse than the one he’d read last night. That one had detailed a pleasant spring and summer in Florida and Georgia working fairs with a guy named Wes. Apparently, when she’d turned west, Wes had disappeared with most of her money and things had gotten progressively uglier.

“Sir.”

He looked up, blinking to clear the ugly visual of Sabrina sucking the dick of some red-faced man old enough to be her father, to find the waitress standing over him, plate in hand. He moved the journal, making room. Smiling, she set his eggs down and refilled his coffee cup, her eyes lingering on the book before she turned away.

His appetite ruined, he barely touched his breakfast then tossed the journal in the back of the Tahoe with the rest. How the hell was he going to get them back to Sabrina? The phone number on the card she’d given him was disconnected and the PO Box address listed probably didn’t belong to her anymore.

He could have just thrown them out, and maybe he should have. But something stopped him. Probably the same unexplainable something that had made him buy her a van. Luckily, she’d never know he read them.

So, what’d you think? Did you read these books the first time around? Are you interested now? I love that stories are getting a second chance, sometimes with a revamp. Amie has also very generously offered a giveaway – because BIRTHDAY MONTH! So you can enter here. :) Cheers!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Exclusive Excerpt: How To Get Lucky (Sexy in NYC Book 3) by Erin McCarthy http://www.tartsweet.com/2015/06/20/exclusive-excerpt-how-to-get-lucky-sexy-in-nyc-book-3-by-erin-mccarthy/ http://www.tartsweet.com/2015/06/20/exclusive-excerpt-how-to-get-lucky-sexy-in-nyc-book-3-by-erin-mccarthy/#comments Sat, 20 Jun 2015 07:33:04 +0000 http://www.tartsweet.com/?p=8611 Hi friends! Remember “back in the day” (oh gosh, ten years ago!) when series would or could get orphaned? I was so sad when that happened with this series – I love Erin McCarthy’s contemporary romances! Well, imagine my surprise and joy when I heard we were getting the rest! Hurrah! And here’s to many other series being completed! Now, we have an exclusive excerpt from Ms. McCarthy on her upcoming addition to the “A Sexy in NYC” series!

Over ten years ago- and what feels like a million- I wrote The Pregnancy Test and You Don’t Know Jack. In those days, when a publisher was done with a series they were done and that was that and it sucked. I had always intended there to be four books in the series and there were four friends introduced in those first two books. It was awful for me to have to let down my readers and I fielded questions about Allison and Caroline and where was their HEA for years. But fast forward to today and self-publishing and boom, I bring you the story of Allison Parker, girl interrupted. She was always the snarkiest of the four friends and it wasn’t easy to conceive a hero who would be a good foil for her, but I think Marco Lucky is exactly that. Later this year, the fourth and final book will be out, titled Finn Again, and I can finally feel accomplished in finishing what I started. I hope readers will enjoy!

Cheers,
Erin

How to Get LuckySometimes there is more than one way to get lucky…

Allison Parker knows winning the New York state lottery is impossible for a retail slave and fashion designer wanna-be who doesn’t, uh, play the lottery. But after a particularly bad day at work and a random prediction from a quirky psychic, she does just that, and wins. Money. Lots of it.

Marco Lucky is exhausted over his bandmates and their diva antics and is looking for an escape. Yet finding a quiet spot in New York City is damn near impossible and he’s already tired of the women hitting on him strictly because he’s famous. But then the crazy brunette with the winning lottery ticket tells him exactly what she thinks of him and it isn’t flattering. He finds himself determined to get to know her better… a whole lot better and prove he is worth her time.

Allison figures it’s only fitting that she be the first woman in the history of ever to hit the lottery and score a smoking hot rock star all in one night, only to wake up with her entire life destroyed a mere eighteen hours later when her lottery ticket is missing. Marco’s offer of help makes her feel like the biggest lame ass loser ever, and while she can’t take his money, she can take a weekend in LA and some smoking hot sex. But that’s all it can be with him rich and hitting the road and her hitting the unemployment line.

From two different cities, and two different worlds, can Marco and Allison put the issue of money to bed? Because being lucky in love just might be hitting the jackpot after all…

HOW TO GET LUCKY is book three in the “Sexy in NYC” series. The first two books, The Pregnancy Test and You Don’t Know Jack, are also currently available by USA Today and NY Times bestselling author Erin McCarthy. After ten years of waiting to conclude the series, follow these girlfriends as they all find love, laughter, and labels in Manhattan.

Marco knew the minute Allison spotted him. Her smile fell off her face. Her eyes raked over him. For a second, there was wild, unadulterated lust and admiration in her eyes before she masked it. Then a chilly demeanor replaced it, and when he approached the table she put the champagne bottle down on the table with a thunk.

“Oh. Hi.”

Not exactly a warm reception. “I hear you won the lottery. That’s amazing. Congratulations.”
“Thanks.” She looked at him expectantly.

Marco found himself at a loss for words. My God, fame had well and truly insulated him from social awkwardness. How many years had it been since someone had made it clear they didn’t want him around? Allison clearly wanted him to go away, and it galled him. The one woman he found himself attracted to in a year and she wanted nothing to do with him?

So he stubbornly stood his ground. “Are you planning trips to Mexico and mentally shopping for Louis Vuitton bags?”

Her expression revealed that was exactly what she’d been doing. That made him grin. So she wasn’t so different from other women he knew. She still had a weak spot for travel and shopping. It made him feel more on even keel.

“Maybe I’m going to save the dolphins,” she said.

“Then the dolphins thank you.” He glanced over to see that her friends were all staring at him with wide eyes. “Hi, I’m Marco. Sorry to interrupt your party. I just wanted to tell Allison congrats.”

“How do you know my name?” she asked, her voice sharp.

“The waitress told me.”

“Look, I don’t mean to be rude, but do you mind? I just want to have fun tonight and celebrate, and I don’t want this place overrun by women who want selfies with you.”

That pissed him off. “How is that not meaning to be rude? I did buy you a drink for your alleged inconvenience last night and now I’m just saying congrats. I can be in this bar if I want.”

“Allison…” the redhead said in a pained whisper. “Please.”

But Allison wasn’t backing down. It was obvious in the way she narrowed her eyes. “You get to be a star every day. I never get to be the center of attention. Just once, I want tonight to be about me. I don’t want you to steal the spotlight from my win. Call me selfish, call me vain, call me whatever you want, but I can’t help it. It’s the way I feel. I don’t want this to be about you, I want it to be about me. Just tonight. Is that so hard to understand?”

He had to respect her honesty. He wasn’t sure he could stand in front of a bunch of people and admit that he wanted to be the center of attention. He found that totally refreshing and seriously sexy. He did understand, and so he found himself nodding. “I get it. I really do. So I’ll leave you to your celebration as long as you give me your number.”

Her jaw dropped. “What? No. Are you nuts? I’ve been a complete bitch to you.”

Marco put his hands in his pockets, more at ease now, amused. “Maybe I’m tired of the dick-sucking harem. Maybe I’m intrigued by someone who isn’t afraid to say exactly what she’s thinking.”

The man or woman or the man becoming a woman, Marco wasn’t exactly what what pronoun to use to refer to him/her, nodded emphatically. “Honey, that is most definitely Allison. This girl has no filter. None.”

“Shut up, Beckwith,” she said, though it was without heat or rancor. Her cheeks were pink.

“See?” he added. “Honest to a fault, this one.”

Marco had shifted so that he was closer to Allison. He liked that with the heels, she was his height. She exuded confidence and a strong sense of who she was. Not to mention she had the most lush and full mouth that practically was begging for him to kiss.

“I don’t think I’m your type,” she said.

“How do you know?”

For the first time, she was starting to get flustered. She looked around the table for help but there was none forthcoming. Her friends were just staring, watching, waiting. “I…”

It seemed she was finally at a loss for words.

Her friend she had called Beckwith spoke, rattling off a phone number. “That’s Allison’s number. Call her, Marco, honey. But I can tell you right now I can lead the horse to water but I can’t make her drink.”

“Could you repeat that number?” Marco asked, pulling out his phone.

“Don’t repeat that!” Allison glared at Beckwith. “You can’t give my number out to strange men.”

“He’s not a strange man, he’s Marco Lucky.” Beckwith smiled at him. “Ready?”

“Yes.”

He gave him the number again.

“Don’t call me,” Allison said. “It’s not a good idea.”

“Why not?” And why was he still standing there when she was making it so clear she wasn’t interested in him? But it was a pattern of his, to bang his head against walls. He knew that. He should let this go. But it was just too intriguing, the concept of rejection. It might be good for his soul. Not that he was prepared to accept rejection. “Do you find me unattractive?”

She snorted. Her eyes looked everywhere but at him.

That was all he needed to know. He saved her number and gave her a smile. “I’ll call you tomorrow. Enjoy your evening, Allison.”

As he left, he heard one of her female friends ask, “Would you rather win the lottery or a night with a rock star?”

Allison laughed. “Please, no contest. The lottery, of course.”

“Well, you’re a dumbass,” Beckwith said, loud and clear. “Because you could have just had both.”

“Anyone can fuck a rock star,” she said. “It’s nothing to my credit. All you have to do is show up and spread your legs. Not much of an accomplishment.”

“Most people will never get the opportunity to leg-spread. You have the most ass-backwards way of thinking of things.”

She did. Marco really liked it.

So what’d you think? Did you ever read The Pregnancy Test or You Don’t Know Jack? I think I’m going to have to re-read to brush up … 😀 Remember this cover? 😀

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When Others Said It Best … http://www.tartsweet.com/2015/06/18/when-others-say-it-best/ http://www.tartsweet.com/2015/06/18/when-others-say-it-best/#comments Thu, 18 Jun 2015 19:59:44 +0000 http://www.tartsweet.com/?p=8605 I haven’t been as vocal about Social Justice recently. At least, not here. I haven’t known what to say, the schedule had been booked months if not years ago, I had fatigue, I can only handle dealing with this at work – not online, I didn’t want to offend … but it’s important to speak up. To say something in a public place and stand for it when it’s something you believe in. We are not living in a post-racial society, and anyone saying that is misguided, or willfully ignorant. I don’t know.

I hope you’ll watch the videos/read the text, and think about the message. Speak up when you see injustice or racism – even if it’s not overt. Maybe it’s seeing the white person acting like a person of color isn’t there and cutting in front of him/her in line. Say something. Silence, or “not wanting to make a scene” hurts too. Maybe it’s making more of an effort to get to know and befriend people who aren’t like you – be it color, socioeconomic class, or ideology.

I recently came across this Australian ad that made me cry.

And … I think all of us know about the shootings that took place at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina yesterday. These are President Obama’s remarks, and what he says is better than anything I could come up with. I’ve also included the full text mostly from the Washington Post below the video in case you’d rather read than watch it.

Good afternoon, everybody.

This morning, I spoke with and Vice President Biden spoke with Mayor Joe Riley and other leaders at Charleston to express our deep sorrow over the senseless murders that took place last night.

Michelle and I know several members of Emanuel AME Church. We knew their pastor, Reverend Clementa Pinckney, who, along with eight others, gathered in prayer and fellowship and was murdered last night, and to say our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families and their community doesn’t say enough to convey the heartache and the sadness and the anger that we feel.

Any death of this sort is a tragedy. Any shooting involving multiple victims is a tragedy. There is something particularly heartbreaking about a death happening in a place in which we seek solace and we seek peace, in a place of worship.

Mother Emanuel is, in fact, more than a church. This is a place of worship that was founded by African Americans seeking liberty. This is a church that was burned to the ground because its worshipers worked to end slavery.

When there were laws banning all-black church gatherings, they conducted church services in secret. When there was a nonviolent movement to bring our country in closer line with our highest ideals, some of our brightest leaders spoke and led marches from this church’s steps.

This is a sacred place in the history of Charleston and in the history of America.

The FBI is now on the scene with local police, and more of the bureau’s best are on their way to join them. The attorney general has announced plans for the FBI to open a hate crime investigation. We understand that the suspect is in custody, and I’ll let the best of law enforcement do its work to make sure that justice is served.

Until the investigation is complete, I’m necessarily constrained in terms of talking about the details of the case. But I don’t need constrained about the emotions that tragedies like this raise.

I’ve had to make statements like this too many times. Communities like this have had to endure tragedies like this too many times.

We don’t have all the facts, but we do know that once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hand on a gun.

Now is the time for mourning and for healing. But let’s be clear. At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency.

And it is in our power to do something about it. I say that recognizing the politics in this town foreclose a lot of those avenues right now. But it’d be wrong for us not to acknowledge it, and at some point, it’s going to important for the American to come to grips with it and for us to be able to shift how we think about the issue of gun violence collectively.

The fact that this took place in a black church obviously also raises questions about a dark part of our history. This is not the first time that black churches have been attacked, and we know the hatred across races and faiths pose a particular threat to our democracy and our ideals.

The good news is I am confident that the outpouring of unity and strength and fellowship and love across Charleston today, from all races, from all faiths, from all places of worship, indicates the degree to which those old vestiges of hatred can be overcome.

That certainly was Dr. King’s hope just over 50 years ago after four little girls were killed in a bombing at a black church in Birmingham, Alabama.

He said, “They lived meaningful lives, and they died nobly. They say to each of us,” Dr. King said, “black and white alike, that we must substitute courage for caution. They say to us that we must be concerned not merely with who murdered them but about the system, the way of life, philosophy which produced the murders. Their death says to us that we must work passionately and unrelentingly for the realization of the American Dream.

“And if one will hold on, he will discover that God walks with him and that God is able to lift you from the fatigue of despair to the buoyancy of hope and transform dark and desolate valleys into sunlit paths of inner peace.”

Reverend Pinckney and his congregation understood that spirit. Their Christian faith compelled them to reach out not just to members of their congregation or to members of their own communities but to all in need. They opened their doors to strangers who might enter a church in search of healing or redemption.

Mother Emanuel Church and its congregation have risen before from flames, from an earthquake, from other dark times to give hope to generations of Charlestonians, and with our prayers and our love and the buoyancy of hope, it will rise again now as a place of peace.

Thank you.

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Teaser Tuesday Exclusive Excerpt: The Enforcer by Kele Moon http://www.tartsweet.com/2015/06/16/teaser-tuesday-exclusive-excerpt-the-enforcer-by-kele-moon/ http://www.tartsweet.com/2015/06/16/teaser-tuesday-exclusive-excerpt-the-enforcer-by-kele-moon/#comments Tue, 16 Jun 2015 07:23:26 +0000 http://www.tartsweet.com/?p=8597 Hi friends! Today we have Kele Moon sharing an exclusive excerpt with us from the upcoming book three of her Untamed Hearts series! The Enforcer! We al know it’s Tino’s book WHOO! (Although goodreads says book four is The Boss which one would think is Nova’s book … but I’m pretty sure book four is Brianna’s book … anyway.) It’s clear I’ve read the books in this series and enjoyed them. The first series is the Battered Hearts series, and the “spinoff” is the Untamed Hearts series. While Kele wasn’t explicit about this, I want to say it’s a raw excerpt – and this is so exclusive the book doesn’t even have a cover or blurb yet!

***FLASHBACK SCENE.***

“That’s my sister that motherfucker brought with him!”

Tino didn’t really have to say any more.

Meilei tossed his bag at him, and he stormed into the crowd, shirtless, with his gun showing. Not too many people were paying attention anyway. It’d been about an hour since he got there, which meant everyone was already rolling their asses off.

He snatched a glow pen out of a party girl’s hand, because she’d been writing on her boyfriend. Then he walked right up to Carina and grabbed her arm.

She gasped, clearly in full defense mode for about two seconds before she yelled over the music, “Tino! What’re you doing here?”

He was dealing for their father, but he didn’t explain it to her.

Tino just leaned down and wrote on his sister’s forehead in big block letters that glowed under the black light.

MORETTI

“If it says moron, I’m gonna be really fucked off!” Carina shouted at him. “Why are you coloring on me?”

“Why are you here?” he screamed and then pointed to Dominic. “With him?”

“Cause he said he knew the location!”

“You’re not allowed to go to raves!”

“Since when do I only do what I’m allowed to?” Carina shouted back at him.

Well, yeah, there was that.

He turned around and grabbed Brianna, making her gasp. She was wearing one of those low cut, v-neck shirts that Tino was sure Dominic really enjoyed. So he wrote it across her chest, from the slope of her left tit, up to the right side of her collarbone.

MORETTI

In big, bold letters that glowed blue under the black light.

Brianna stared down at it and then looked at him. “What does this mean?”

“It means private property!” Tino looked at Dominic when he said it. “You’re leaving! Step out right now or I’ll have you thrown out!”

Dominic shrugged. “Then you owe me twenty bucks.”

“For what?” Tino followed his line of sight to see him staring at the water bottle in Brianna’s hand. “Oh, you motherfucker.” Tino pulled his gun out and pointed it at Dominic. “Get out! I will fucking kill you! I swear to god!”

People screamed and backed up, but Carina and Brianna jumped forward and caught his arm, which was a really dumb, extremely naive thing for them to do. Fortunately, Tino had been practicing with Carlo for the good part of two years and he wasn’t one to misfire on accident. In fact, he was pretty fucking sure he could put a hole right through the center of Dominic’s forehead.

“It’s okay!” Carina screamed at him. “We asked him to bring us! This is our fault!”

“Did you ask him to drug you?” Tino shouted at his sister without taking his eyes off Dominic.

“I took it!” Carina was still holding onto his arm. “I’m the one who took it! I wanted to.”

“You took Molly with Dominic Brambino around.” Tino cast a side glare at Brianna for that one, just quick enough to let her see how fucking disappointed he was in her. “He gave it to you so he could fuck you! He told me that’s why he gave it to you! He said he brought his own pussy! Who do you think that is, Bri? ‘Cause it’s not Carina!”

“I didn’t take the Molly he bought,” Brianna assured him. “I’m not stupid. I just came to dance and make sure Carina stayed safe.”

“Who gave you the water bottle then, if you’re so fucking street smart!”

Brianna looked at the mostly empty water bottle in her hand and glanced back at Tino with wide eyes.

“I’m gonna fucking kill you,” Tino told Dominic and he was dead serious about it, because the Brambino’s had taken so much from him. Now that motherfucker was going to drug and screw Brianna just to piss him off. That felt like a murder worth going down for. “I just want to kill you. I want to put a bullet in your brain.”

“You know what will happen if you do that?” Dominic didn’t even look nervous about it. Like he was so fucking secure in his family’s control over Tino he was fearless in the face of Tino’s gun pointed at his head. “Is that a risk you’re willing to take?”

“What the fuck is going on?” Nova shouted before Tino could decide. “Valentino!”

“He drugged Brianna’s water,” Tino explained without lowering his gun. “And he gave Carina Molly.”

“Holy shit, why would anyone do that?” Nova made it sound like that was the worst possible combination he could think of. “Get him out!” Nova pointed at the door when the bouncers came up. “You let my sister in! The Don would lose his fucking mind!”

“We didn’t let her in!”

“Well, she’s in here!” Nova threw up his hands in disbelief. “And this puttana tricked Tino into selling him Molly for her. I can’t even fucking conceptualize what Carina is gonna be like rolling on ecstasy. Now thanks to you motherfuckers, I get to find out!”

“You sell drugs?” Brianna asked him.

“I–” Tino put his gun back, because the bouncers grabbed Dominic real fast once the Don was mentioned. “Yeah, sometimes. I sell them sometimes.”

“For the Borgata?” she whispered in disbelief. “Do you like selling it?”

“This situation is awesome on so many levels.” Nova looked a little manic. “We have to leave. Right now.” Then he leaned down and got in Carina’s face. “Thanks for ruining my buzz, princess! This was my last weekend!”

“You ruined my buzz!” Carina shouted back at him. “I can’t do anything!” She pointed to her forehead. “This is my life! I’m never gonna have a boyfriend! NEVER! I’m gonna die a virgin because my family is psychotic and everyone knows it!”

“Oh my God, is she fucking for real.” Nova grabbed Bobby’s arm and shoved him at her. “Here you go. There’s an approved boyfriend for you.” He turned around and walked towards the door shirtless. “I can’t deal with her princess problems.”

So what’d you think? Have you read any of the previous books? For The Battered Hearts you have Defying the Odds, Star Crossed, and Crossing the Lines. Those books lead into the Untamed Hearts which kicks off with The Viper followed by The Slayer.

Oh and OF COURSE Kele is offering a giveaway too! Cuz it’s BIRTHDAY MONTH! Maybe you’ll win a signed copy of one of her books. Or a giftcard. Winner’s choice? We’ll see! 😉

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