Limecello A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet Tue, 21 Apr 2015 06:20:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Release Day Teaser Tuesday Exclusive Excerpt: Chasing Danger by Katie Reus Tue, 21 Apr 2015 04:59:47 +0000 Hi friends! Today we have Katie Reus visiting with us! She’s a first timer at ALBTALBS – and it’s also release day for her, so everyone be super nice to Ms. Reus!

Thanks so much to Limecello for showcasing Chasing Danger here today! I hope you enjoy the exclusive sneak peek.

Chasing DangerA woman in danger and the one man who will keep her safe at all costs…

Chief Nursing Officer Hannah Young is accustomed to working under pressure, but even she’s still reeling in the aftermath of a horrific terrorist attack on Miami. And things only get worse after a knife wielding maniac tries to kill her. Desperate for help, Hannah must turn to the one man she never thought she’d see again.

After spending an intensely passionate night with Hannah, NSA Agent and former Delta Force operative Dax Costas fell off the face of the earth. He got called away for a two week mission with no way to contact her. Now he can’t get the smart, sexy woman out of his head. She might be angry at him, but when it appears she has a stalker, Dax moves her under his roof and into his protection.

Unfortunately, whoever wants Hannah dead will stop at nothing. And if Dax can’t identify the perpetrator in time, it could be too late to discover if there is more between him and Hannah than just heated passion…

Chasing Danger (A Deadly Ops novella)
Copyright © 2015 Katie Reus

Despite the heaviness sitting on her chest, Hannah let out a short laugh. If there was a crazy guy in a mile radius, she’d find him. It was like she had a homing beacon for the weird. “I’ll take you up on the drink, but forget picking up any guys. I’m so over your gender.”

“You and me both, girl.” Shaun kissed the top of her head lightly. “I’ll text a couple of the crew who are off tonight and see if they want to meet up.”

“Sounds good to me.” There were six of them who got together regularly after work. Right now anything was better than going back to her empty home—for a multitude of reasons. Weeks ago Miami had been rocked to its core with a horrific terrorist attack that killed hundreds. In the aftermath her best friend, Sophie, had come up from Key West, where she lived with her husband Jack.

Jack used to work for the NSA in a capacity that Hannah sort of knew about because she’d been kidnapped a year ago and Jack and his former boss and teammates had helped save her. She’d had to sign a bunch of paperwork swearing she’d never speak of what he did or what she’d seen. Which was fine with her because thanks to them, she was alive. And if she was honest, she wanted to forget everything she’d been through. Being kidnapped and held in another country had been traumatic enough, no matter how levelheaded she was. Having your freedom taken from you, with the additional worry of death—and worse things—hanging over your head, was hard to forget.

Sophie and Jack had come to town because Jack had been doing contract work of sorts for the NSA, including briefly guarding a woman who’d been a witness to the terrorist attack. During that time Jack and Sophie had stayed at Hannah’s parents’ house, and in the aftermath, Hannah had met one of Jack’s former colleagues, Dax Costas.

Dax fucking Costas, whom she wanted to punch right in the face for standing her up two weeks ago after the most intense, raw sex of her life. Yes, that was a violent reaction but she didn’t care. He just brought it out of her with all his raw sex appeal and bullshit charm. She couldn’t believe she’d thought his I’m-quiet-and-brooding-and-don’t-know-how-sexy-I-am act was actually real. Gah! She never fell for that stupid charming act from men.

Until Dax.

She couldn’t believe she’d invited him to her house. He’d been in her bed, on her sheets, in her safe haven. A place it had taken her a long damn time to feel safe in again after being kidnapped right out of her home a year ago. She’d brought him there because she’d thought he was different. He was the first man she’d let in her home, in her own bed, period. The connection between them . . . She shook her head as Shaun strode in the other direction of the garage to get to his vehicle.

She already had enough on her mind and didn’t need to add to her stress by dwelling on a man who’d turned out to be a liar.

As she slid into the driver’s seat of her new mini-SUV, her cell phone rang. Without starting the engine, she locked her doors, even though the garage was teeming with people getting off work. Ever since the kidnapping, she was hyper-vigilant. Glancing at the caller ID, she frowned. Unknown.

Could be a telemarketer even though they weren’t supposed to call her cell phone, or it could be one of her four older brothers. Screw it. If it was a telemarketer she’d just hang up. “Hello?”


Dax’s voice. She hated that she recognized him so easily. The deep quality of his voice did strange things to her insides. She swallowed hard.

“Hello?” he said.

Damn it, she needed to get it together. “Who is this?” She didn’t want to admit that she recognized him from two words.

A long pause. “Dax.” It sounded like he said the word through gritted teeth.

“The only Dax I know was supposed to meet me for a date two weeks ago but never showed.” Or called. How freaking humiliating.

“Hannah, I’m more sorry about that than you know. I got called away for work and—”

“Did they not have phones where you were going?”

“Not . . . exactly.”

“What the hell does that mean? Not exactly? Unless you were in the Amazon rain forest with no satellite reception, I find it hard to believe you couldn’t have taken two seconds to call, or even freaking text me.” She wished she could act cool and unaffected, but her voice vibrated with fury.

“I didn’t have the means to call you. I can’t tell you more than that, but I’m back in town and I want to see you again. Please let me make it up to you.” The pleading note in his voice tugged at her, and she almost caved.

But she had some pride left, even if the man’s voice got her hotter than anyone else ever had. She snorted. “No, thank you. The sex was great, Dax, but I’m not interested anymore.” Feeling like a bitch and not caring, she hung up.

Her face burned as she remembered just how raw things had been between them. They’d had sex all over her house. They’d spent four days and nights together, wrapped up in each other, coming up for air only long enough to eat and sleep. She’d even called in sick to work two days in a row, something she’d never done, not in the decade she’d worked at the hospital. She’d never thought sex could be that good, that real. Swallowing hard, she fought the heavy feeling pressing against her chest. Combined with everything today, hearing Dax’s voice brought her low.

She’d thought she wanted to hear from him, but now that she had, it just hurt. He couldn’t even come up with a decent excuse.

“I didn’t have the means to call you.” How lame.

Mentally shaking herself, she started the engine and looked in the rearview mirror to see Shaun’s car pull up behind her. She wasn’t going to sit here in the parking garage and continue to feel sorry for herself. Because that’s not what Youngs did. Not according to her mother.

Youngs didn’t feel sorry for themselves and they didn’t mope. Life was too short.

Author BIO: Katie Reus is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Red Stone Security series, the Moon Shifter series and the Deadly Ops series. She fell in love with romance at a young age thanks to books she pilfered from her mom’s stash. Years later she loves reading romance almost as much as she loves writing it. However, she didn’t always know she wanted to be a writer. After changing majors many times, she finally graduated with a degree in psychology. Not long after that she discovered a new love. Writing. She now spends her days writing dark paranormal romance and sexy romantic suspense.
For more information on Katie… Visit Katie’s website, find Katie on Facebook, follow Katie on twitter.

Fabulous! Well, what’d you all think? Do you enjoy romantic suspense? :D To sweeten the deal, Katie has offered up a print ARC of the next book in the series Shattered Duty to one lucky commenter! So remember to wish Katie a happy new release day! ;) [And remember to check back at the end of the month to see if you’ve won!]

And you know, just to make things more fun, here’s the cover and blurb for Shattered Duty.

Shattered DutyWhen his wife was murdered two years ago, Special Agent Levi Lazaro turned his back on everything he cared about. Ever since, he has thought of nothing but vengeance. Now he’s finally uncovered the identities of those who killed his wife—and he’s ready to destroy them at any cost. He won’t let anything stand in his way—not even a beautiful NSA agent on a mission of her own.

Special Agent Selene Wolfe prides herself on being the best. Her fearlessness and quick-thinking make her the perfect person to take down a deadly terrorist cell. But she needs Levi’s help, and the moment he shows up, Selene knows her objectivity—and her heart—are in trouble.

As the two strike an uneasy alliance, Levi finds himself tormented by his desire for Selene—a feeling he thought long dead. But when their mission takes an unexpected turn, he finds himself at a crossroads. Can he put aside his need for revenge to save the woman who’s reawakened his soul?

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Special Reader Guest: Alys Sat, 18 Apr 2015 05:59:12 +0000 Hi friends! So I’d like to crawl into a hole with a fluffy blanket and just … sleep and rest for about a week, but I know I don’t get that. Alas. However, today we have a reader featured at ALBTALBS! These are some of my favorite posts, and I really hope you’ll read what Alys has to say. [Also – the pictures were sent embedded, which WP can’t handle – so odd formatting/whatever is on me. Forgive me.]

Unexpected MagicUm…hello everyone, this is little Alys from some blog somewhere with some twitter someplace and such and whatnot. Not really important. What is important is that for some reason, our dear Limecello (during a momentary lapse of judgment, I’m sure) felt that I was awesome enough to do a guest reader post for her much cooler blog and be on par- ok not on par, more like bask in the warm glowing limelight of equally cool writers/readers/guest posts.

Therefore, too bad for you! Now you’ll have to suffer through my enormously absurd posts. Mwahahahaha. You must endure through this post – ay, hey!! Don’t click that x in the corner and don’t even think about hitting that back button. You know your curiosity won’t let you. XP

In all honesty, I was very hesitant when Lime asked me to do a guest post. I barely update on my own blog anymore and my twitter consists almost entirely of retweeted pictures of adorable animals I don’t have and breathtakingly gorgeous places I’d never been. I guess one thing Limecello and I have obsessively in common would be our love of reading and Asian tv shows/movies and that probably gave her some measure of confidence that I’m sane enough to guest post. I’m just kidding, Lime knows I’m nowhere near sane.

Okay then, after all this ranting, let’s get to the good stuff. I do want to put in some disclaimers that would either help you, dear reader, have a better perspective, understanding or reasoning for the information and personal opinions below. Limecello and ALBTALBS are in no way responsible for what happens to you for reading this – I mean, for the contents of said guest. ;)

Strange Tales from a Chinese StudioI love stories no matter the medium, but reading has always been my first love. Many of my favorite tv series and movies tend to have been adapted from novels. I was once one of those book-starved child that read anything and everything I was able to get my hands on. I have since grown much much much picker (but not as picky as someone *coughLimecellocough*) about the contents, intents, and accuracy.

My first love had always been folklores, fairytales and legends. Thus, to this day I still obsess over anything related to them. Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio by Pu Songling has been an all-time favorite since before I was able to read.

If you watch or read a lot of Chinese paranormal or historical stories, you’ll actually be able to trace a lot ideas, themes and morals to this collection. It’s by no means a perfect collection, but for a collection dated a few centuries, many of the stories were actually pointed out the hierocracy of those that felt they were better than others. While monsters were feared, humans were even worse monsters. Ghosts, spirits and shifters that were universally feared were often more loyal than people.

Fearless Girls, Wise Women and Beloved Sisters by Kathleen Ragan was a collection of stories from around the world featuring female protagonists. A professor suggested I read this book when she was discussing folklores and how in oral traditions, protagonists were very closely split down the middle for both genders. Once they were written down, the number went to about 70 to 80 percent male protagonists. Don’t quote me on it, since I’m writing this based on memory from like I don’t know how long ago *coughdecadescough*. I really loved this book as well and in was able to showcase a lot of different cultures. It also gave some more sources where I was able to actively look for more. Heh.

These two were often my go to faves during times of slumps and idle moments of peace. I have also have Euripides somewhere, but I cannot find it in the masses of boxes at the moment.

Speaking of story slumps, I do have a few wonderful go-to authors that really need no introductions. I just wanted to fawn over them.

Yes, Lisa Kleypas. I do love her historical romances. There was always so comforting about reading her stories. I also fangirl-ed way too much in front of her once. Now I hide in shame.

I loved the book above because of the animals. I shall shamelessly say it.

Another two go to authors whom I admire are Kresley Cole and Nalini Singh, but for two different reasons. For me, Kresley Cole books function like candy. Too much is not good for my general state of mind (since I start thinking random violence solves thing…it doesn’t), but we gotta have a little crazy randomness every now and then. I also adore her heroines for being a little out there, but always able to hold their ground.

Nalini Singh books, on the other hand, came to me at a time when I was in a deep slump and feeling unable to connect to any of the mainstream books at that time. Not only does she contain very diverse characters, but each maintained their own uniqueness that was both endearing and empowering. Also, did you know there was a Harlequin manga based on one of her very early Desire books? Yeah…it’s awesome. I haz it. :D

Now, two more authors whom I’ve grown more and more into their books.

A Lady's Lesson in ScandalA Lady’s Lesson in Scandal by Meredith Duran was one of the books the embodied so much of what I was looking for in historical romances. All of Meredith Duran’s books were awesome for me, her stories always contained this grittiness and realism that many writers simply glossed over or outright ignored. As much as people loved to glamourize that era, realistically, it probably wasn’t all that awesome nor exciting. That’s the time of colonization and slave trades, slums and industrialized poverty with child labor and… I need to stop myself. Getting off topic. For me, Meredith Duran didn’t shy away from many of the realities and it meant so much.

Sherry Thomas was another write that wrote wonderfully. I just want to minor-ly complain the heroes don’t grovel enough. :P

A few other authors I adore and want to honorly mention:

Marjorie M. Liu – I adore her writing. She also wrote some comic books! Her stories and characters were so diverse and unique, all over the world really. Adore!!! Minor sidenote: I heard on NPR they were bring back romance comic books! I hope she’ll be involved. Maybe? Pretty please?

Jeannie Lin – Chinese historical romances with Asian protagonists that were stereotypes would be a mild description. Let’s just say I’m waiting for her to go full on wuxia. She needs to. Needs. To.

Sarah Morgan – she does Harlequin Presents right. Her characters are so realistic and so awesome. Yup.

Tessa Dare – Her books were also more comfort read, much in the line of my reading Kresley Cole. Historical settings and very fun characters.

Heart of ObsidianIf you are still there, dear reader, you’ll have noticed the pattern. I do love having romances and love stories. And what is an awesome novel without love and romance? Nothing. A novel is nothing without love. Why am I so adamant? Try going through life without any romance and love. Honestly, I don’t know any particular individual that can go through life without any affection for family, friends, or themselves. So whether it be a love of a character, a story, a plot, a writer – I always enjoy stories with a lot of love.

Romance novels had been a way to assure the reader that good triumphs over those that choose to harm. And female empowerment! I mean, er, we have female centric protagonists that triumphs over hardship and trials of life and still get the guy. ;) Seriously though, reality sucks enough as it is – especially for women, so why rip on something that actively exemplified success for women? Yes, there’s a bunch of formulas and there’s no escaping trends, but the main core of these stories have always been about human strengths and struggles. It is in every culture and in every story – an universal theme, if I may be so cliché to write. ;)

So…I’m trying to draw a tangent to another topic and failing horribly, so you get to suffer this weird divergence…

Lately, I’ve been obsess – er, focusing more on Asian romance stories via mediums such as TV shows, movies and internet novels. Oh my gosh, internet novels rock so much.

The Empress in the Palace (Zhen Huan Zhuan) 甄嬛傳 

This was one of the shows that brought Limecello and I together in the first place, so I felt this had to be here. How to describe ZHZ? It is the rise to power of a woman that really did not want to go down that path, yet fate had other plans if she wanted to survive. Oh, it’s a tragedy, I admit it. A pretty historically accurate story filled with tragedy for all those involved. As in line with the trauma of Chinese historical stories, you have those perfectly doomed loves because of family and responsibilities. Oh freaking Asian people, stop being so realistic. Also, it’s coming onto Netflix soon – abridged and changed, but oh well.

The novel was actually much more extensive and less historically accurate (not in a real historical time period), but the characters were amazing. They cut out a few of my favorite characters, but the tv show still maintained the awesomeness of most characters even if the TV show made everyone much nicer (including ZH and her sister -_-). The timeline in the novel was longer, too. *sigh* Anyways, I have a small notebook filled with thoughts and analysis for review, and then I kind of gave up. Too extensive for me to tackle right now when I can be reading something else. XP

Loving, Never Forgetting 恋恋不忘 

Another show Limecello and I obsessively emailed each other about. As with ZHZ, this was once an internet novel = published = tv drama. Also has Jerry Yan. This story…I actually think a LOT of people would love it. Secret baby style. Lol. The novel wasn’t as insane towards the end as the TV show, but hey, everyone loves to embellish and drama it out. Lol. I did like how the story showcased how it was actually difficult for a single woman to raise a child. Also, I was a little upset how the kind of just forgave the Old Dad. I actually blamed him more than I did the crazy mother.

Silent Separation // My Sunshine (何以笙簫默)

Limecello was supposed to watch this one with me… *pouts* Anyways, this novel was insanely popular. Like, batsh** in a batcave dropping all over the place crazy obsessive. The TV series really shouldn’t be so long, but TV, what can you do. This story was really a reunion love story. College sweethearts (where the girl chased the guy down! Mwahaha), the separated due to youth, miscommunication and misunderstanding. They met again when they were older and it’s about their reunion/love. Under normal circumstances, I actually do not like these types of stories, but this was one sooooooooooo good. Also, realistically the guy would be impossible to be with. Yet, as with all this author’s books, I simply adored the female protagonist. Especially when she was young, that’s like my favorite type of heroine. :D The TV series let her be gloomy for way too long though.

Love in the AfternoonThis author has another famous novel turned TV series that Limecello refuses to watch due to the actors/actresses. Even so, Shan Shan Come Eat still deserved an honorable mention just cuz she showcased so much food. I actually really like another book by this author that wasn’t as popular, but if I start on this author, Gu Man (顾漫), I might as well just stop writing anything else and have a party. Same could be said about the author Mo Bao Fei Bao (墨宝非宝)…sooooo we’ll just move on.

Quick honoralble mention for Wuxia authors Jin Yong and Liang Yu Sheng. I would say more, but then I’ll end up descending into a thunderstorm rant with Limecello. I prefer Lian Yu Sheng’s female protagonists and stories in general, but his stories stayed too realistic (i.e. sad endings). Jin Yong gave us mostly happy endings, but I have much complaints about his female characters. They may be smarts and almost always better than the male characters, but they still maintained too much the stereotypical limitations.

A sidenote of one way I decide how much I like the book: if the female protagonist has her own group of friends. If she does not… I have a really really hard time suspending my sense of disbelief. I mean, “When Spring Ends, I’ll See You Again” by Shu Ke (蜀客), but it only worked because of the type of world it was in: xian xia. There is a very nice and solid fanbase for Chinese translated novels, please take a look at if you can. Or have an all-nighter binge on youtube. :D

Anyways, let me start wrapping things up… and just because I can: Ghibli, Ghibli, Ghibli. I will forever <3

Hayao Miyazaki. Fuyumi Ono was also extremely influential for me. My biggest regret (so far) was for not ever having met Diana Wynne Jones and Terry Pratchett. I hope at least be able to meet Ursula K. Le Guin.

LothaireThere are many many more wonderful authors out there and while each story I’ve read so far has brought me joy, taught me about people, and showed me more about life, I hope to continue to read for that one story embody that balance of life, humor and happiness I continue to seek. So let’s all keep reading.

I hope you enjoyed this random bit of fun and maybe get you to explore a little bit more. If nothing else, I was able to annoy Limecello with stuff she refuse to watch with me. Also, sorry for any and all spelling, grammar, or insanity.

Whew! So anyway – lots of book talk yes? :D And shows! Also I highly recommend both Empresses in the Palace and Loving, Never Forgetting. (Aren’t you so glad my BA in Chinese has become useful? ;-) ) And of course a number of the authors mentioned too. :D Thanks for sharing with us, today, Alys!

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Guest: Caroline Linden on Secondary Characters Thu, 16 Apr 2015 04:39:02 +0000 Hi friends! Is everyone stateside recovered from … :X Tax Day? Today we have a short and sweet post from Caroline Linden, who is a first timer to ALBTALBS! So everyone be nice to her! It’s possible she’s offering a bribe too. ;) Her newest book All’s Fair in Love and Scandal will be out on April 21, and is only $1.99 right now! Soon soon soon! But – let’s see what she has to say today. :)

Blame It on BathI always love my secondary characters.

Sometimes I fully intend to write another book starring them; in that case I try to sort them out during the first book, with an eye toward dropping clues and hints about their (future) story. Sometimes it’s more accidental, and the character just grows on me so much I don’t want to let them go. That’s what led to I Love the Earl, the novella I wrote about a character in Blame It on Bath who was just meant to be a passing presence, the helpful aunt who passed the hero some information. Other times… well, other times I really like the characters but am perfectly happy to let them remain un-written-about.

After I wrote Love and Other Scandals, there was a character I definitely wanted to write more about: Aunt Evangeline. I thought she was so cool, a former wild child with two bad marriages in her past, a younger lover she refused to marry, a free spirit who did things her own way and had reached the point where she didn’t give a rip about what people thought of her. I still want to write about her, but when I asked on my Facebook page, if people wanted to read more about her, the response surprised me. Yes please, more Evangeline, people said—but even more urgently, we want Douglas.

Love and Other ScandalsNow, Douglas was a walk-away-from character. He was the heroine’s brother, fond of gambling and drinking and chasing women. I didn’t write anything in his character that I meant to use later. Yet some people wrote to me to explain why they loved Douglas and wanted to read his story and even why he should fall in love with a particular friend of his sister’s. That last part did not fit at all with my plans, but it was really moving to see how much people saw in him.

Lesson learned: don’t ask whose story you should write next if you are afraid of the answer.

So All’s Fair in Love and Scandal is a story that came from nothing: a carefree rake who’d been born lucky, but who had to meet his match. It was a challenge, but a fun one. I hope everyone who loved Douglas enjoys his story—I’m very grateful you all encouraged me to write it!

All's Fair in Love and ScandalNothing wagered…

Douglas Bennet can’t resist a good wager, especially not one that involves a beautiful woman. When a friend proposes an audacious plan to expose the most notorious woman in England, Douglas agrees at once. After all, it would be quite a coup to discover the true identity of Lady Constance, author of the infamous erotic serial scandalizing the ton, 50 Ways to Sin.

Nothing won…

Madeline Wilde is used to being pursued. For years she’s cultivated a reputation for being unattainable and mysterious, and for good reason: her livelihood depends on discretion. When Douglas turns his legendary charm on her, she dismisses him as just another rake. But he surprises her—instead of merely trying to seduce her, he becomes her friend…her confidant…and her lover. But can it really lead to happily-ever-after…or are they about to become the biggest scandal London has ever seen?

So what do you think about secondary characters? Inquiring minds want to know! And to sweeten the pot, Caroline has offered a copy of Love and Other Scandals to one lucky commenter!

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Release Day Teaser Tuesday Exclusive Excerpt: Cupcakes and Crushes by Keri Ford Tue, 14 Apr 2015 18:59:13 +0000 You. Guys!!! You know now nothing happens as expected but we make it work?? Well, today we have Keri Ford visiting with us! I’m totally excited because today it’s release day for her! Beyond that, freaking cupcakes are part of the title! Yes, Cupcakes and Crushes is available out in the wild today. Keri is super adorable, so everyone remember to wish her a very happy release day!

Sometimes there is enough sweet to make up for the bitter.

Cupcakes and CrushesTurtle Pine, Book 1

Years ago, a broken heart sent Annie Cookie running from home, and she’s never looked back—until now. Her grandpa’s broken wrist means the family bakery is at risk of losing two big orders.

Reluctantly, Annie returns to Turtle Pine to help out, only to discover it’s not just seven hundred cupcakes she has to bake, but also a wedding cake for the half-sister who stole her high-school sweetheart. Annie left town to get away from her sister. No way is she getting mixed up with her again. Once the cupcakes are done, she’s outta there.

Back in high school, Cade Revlin hid his crush on his brother’s girl, but when his brother dumped Annie for another Cookie sister, Annie slipped through his fingers and out of town. Now that she’s back, he’s determined to give her a reason to stay.

He’s got one week to change her mind. Or she’ll be gone in a cloud of powdered sugar.

Warning: Contains small-town meddling, family drama and all the necessary ingredients for a second chance at love—if they have the guts to turn up the heat.

Like all the deputies and friends of her grandpa, Cade walked to the backdoor of the bakery and gave it a light tap as he twisted the knob and pushed it open. “Knock, knock.”

I guess some things never change.” Annie appeared from a side room. Gone was the fancy dress and back was the girl he remembered. Soft-looking tight pants, a T-shirt and some tennis shoes decked her out as the woman he’d seen at school who’d often carried books tightly against her chest. Except this time, she was minus the cold shoulder. Her smile was all warm and inviting. Shoulders back, hair lose around her face, she searched him.

Whew. There went his pulse. His throat got extra tight and he forced himself to swallow so his voice wouldn’t crack. Even though he was older, those teenage nerves rushed back over him. At the airport, she’d been cold and shut off. But this woman was all smiles and focused on him without giving him some warm-up time. “Don’t change what’s working.”

She placed a notebook on the table in the center of the room and sat on a stool. “Are you following me today or is this just coincidence?”

Some of both?” He shrugged, hooked a chair by his foot and dragged it up to sit opposite her. Might as well throw some of this out in the open. “I’m hiding from my neighbor.”

Not a good sign about your neighborhood.”

It has its pluses and minuses.” Mostly minuses. Since Tina had run him out of his house today, and he was out looking for Annie because of it, that could be considered a plus.

What about where you live?”

Apartment building where I’m loved by everyone on my floor.” A light chuckle came out of her.

That doesn’t surprise me.” She must give her neighbors the warm smile more often than the cold shoulder.

I bring a lot of day-old items home. People love snacks.”

Would be a sin not to.” He gestured at the notebook. “Making a list?”

Trying to figure out supplies. Grandpa’s scraping the barrel here since he hasn’t been in the bakery.”

Welp, it’d been, oh, a good ten or fifteen years since he’d gotten up the nerve to ask her out. This time she was actually looking at him, so his odds had to be better. Of course, that meant if she said no, he’d have no excuses for the refusal this time. He rubbed his sweaty-a hell palms over his thighs. “You about done with that?”

She blinked and sat back. “Just started, why?”

Thought you might want to take a ride around town. Get a feel for the place again. This is your first time back since you left, isn’t it?”

Her grin somehow deepened and she placed the pen across the top of the notebook. Her tongue darted out to wet her lips and disappeared again. “It is. Has it changed a bunch since I left?”

Well, they repainted the water tower.”

She gasped and dramatically covered her chest with her hand. “They took off Jeremy + Melissa?”

They did. Someone went up and painted it back the first night after they were done.” Being Jeremy was pushing sixty-five, everyone agreed he wasn’t the culprit, but any one of his rowdy grandkids had a lot of potential. Cade had been tasked with figuring out which one had defaced the new paint, but he hadn’t put a lot of effort into it. The mayor had been the one who’d wanted the tower painted and everyone knew that was only because Melissa had picked Jeremy over him. Jeremy + Melissa on that water tower was a part of Turtle Pine history. You just can’t paint over history.

She laughed. “You’re kidding.”


She was laughing more. “I don’t think it would feel like home if it wasn’t there.”

I think almost everybody thought the same. You remember Mrs. Baxter?”

She frowned for a moment and stared at the center of the table. “She has the big rose bushes behind her mailbox.”

He pointed. “Used to have. She pulled them up.”

Annie’s mouth dropped. “No.”


Those bushes have been there for as long as I can remember. And I remember her being out there all the time trimming on them.”

Gone. She ripped them up. Shocked everybody.”

She leaned on the counter, meaning she leaned toward him. “I’d probably get lost on the way to the school without seeing those bushes at the corner.”

My point exactly.” He pointed at her list again. “So are you about done? We’re burning daylight.”

She thumbed through the sheets of mostly empty paper. “I guess the rest can wait. Not like I’m calling in an order tonight.”

Perfect. And I have a surprise for you.”

Surprises already?” The raise of her brow was full of skepticism.

Nice. Way to come off looking creepy. He slipped his hands in his pockets to rub off even more sweat from his palms. “It was something I had to do, so it wasn’t just for you. But the benefit is still the same.”

She flicked the lights off and turned the lock as she followed him out the door. “I’m almost afraid.”

You shouldn’t be.”

So, what’d you think? :D Again – congratulations on your newest release, Keri! I hope you have a few cupcakes in celebration today. … If only the rest of us had cupcakes too… some day we’ll manage to work that out with a guest right? ;) Happy release day, Keri! You can buy a copy here or read another excerpt here.

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TBR Challenge Review: Holding My Breath by A. M. Hartnett Mon, 13 Apr 2015 04:11:51 +0000 Holding My Breath by A.M. Harnett
Contemporary erotic romance released by HarperCollins Mischief on August 28, 2014

Holding My BreathIt’s a skill not every man possesses, and it can’t be taught. That’s why I’m good at what I do.

For half his life Quinn has been making his living as a professional Casanova. Challenged by Molly to take his business elsewhere, he strikes a bargain with her: give him until New Year’s Eve and she’ll never see him again, and in the meantime he’ll make it worth her while.

As their arrangement becomes a passionate affair, there’s no denying that Molly’s been waiting for him to come into her life for a very long time. She never imagined that a man like Quinn would be the one.

​This book was one of those serendipitous reads that delight a reader. I have a number of other books I’d been meaning to review … but Holding My Breath is just the most standout book I’ve read lately. I’m not even sure how I found it – perhaps seeing it in my library’s digital collection? And some late night I clicked and read it pretty much in one go. I’ve already started reading another book by A.M. Hartnett. (Actually, book one. I accidentally read them out of order, but for me personally, I think it worked out better that way.) Also a draw was Ms. Hartnett’s last name – I’ve got major positive association because of Hayden-Harnett (a delicious Brooklyn based Handbags & Accessories company).

I’m not even following usual ALBTALBS format because this book is so unique. There isn’t much to say but there’s everything to say. So. Onward.

Molly is your regular broken person. I liked that she’s so very normal. She’s thirty, going through a divorce, and dealing with significant emotional baggage. Molly also falls quickly and deeply into a relationship with Quinn, and I liked that as well.

This book is hot. I mean, you expect that, what with Quinn being a male prostitute. (He doesn’t like the word gigolo.) Ms. Hartnett’s writing is really engaging, and a book that you might think is really stark and more like erotica works as a romance. Really well. There are tender moments between Molly and Quinn and it’s clear there’s more than sex between them. Although there is a lot of sex. In fact, so much that even my erotic romance loving self was all “ok tell me what happens — enough with the fucking!”

Holding My Breath also packs an emotional punch. At a moment you aren’t expecting it you get a fist to the gut and it just floors you as a reader. For me, that’s what took the book to the next level – when Quinn “comes clean” to Molly about his plans. I don’t want to spoil it, because I hope you’ll read the book.

There’s the juxtaposition of the characters being so very normal… but not. Also the ~unusual aspect of Quinn being the more romantic one in the relationship. While it takes them a while to define it, it’s clear Molly and Quinn are in it for the long haul. And that Quinn pushes for more. He gets his way a lot because frankly, he’s a sex bomb. So for Molly, it’s win-win. I liked that Molly is a self actualized sexual woman. There’s none of this slut shaming going on, which is nice. Molly is a grown ass woman who is going to have sex if she wants to, and have a damn good time while doing it. And why not do it with the best?

In a way Holding My Breath is a grand sexual romp with two broken people that find their new selves in each other. The sex is a major benefit, but it’s a side one. Quinn and Molly are able to be genuine with each other because “their worst” is laid out from the start. Quinn is a prostitute Molly is supposed to shoo away from her hotel, but instead she indulges one night with him. And then more. They click sexually first, but quickly emotionally as well. Kudos also to Ms. Harnett for the characters. Quinn is thirty-six, and Molly thirty. Both are established in their lives and mature enough to know what they want, and don’t want.

Quinn has a dry sense of humor, and is so matter of fact about his profession. He has his scars too – so it’s not all hunky dory. Basically Holding My Breath brings it all together for me. Great characters and characterization, really engaging prose, humor, substance, and more emotional depth than you expected. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes erotic romances.

Grade: B+

You can buy a copy here.

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Guest: Cynthia Sax On Mastered 2 & Secret Romances + An Exclusive Excerpt of One Night With My Billionaire Master Sat, 11 Apr 2015 16:30:36 +0000 Hi friends! Here we are for the weekend! If anyone has emailed me the past few days you’d have gotten a quippy little message … I only wish I’d managed to set that up earlier. ;) However, as you see today we have first time guest Cynthia Sax visiting with us! So everyone please remember to offer her a warm welcome and say “Hey!” :D

Mastered 2 And Secret Romances

Thank you so much for having me here at A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet. (hugs Limecello).

I’m Cynthia Sax, one of the lucky writers contributing a brand new, never before published erotic romance to Mastered 2, a deliciously naughty boxed set.

(Other writers contributing stories are Opal Carew, Portia Da Costa, Madelynne Ellis, T.J. Michaels, Emily Ryan-Davis, Jennifer Leeland, Evangeline Anderson , Avery Aster , Karen Fenech , Ruby Foxx , and Saskia Walker – I know. What an amazing lineup! I feel so privileged to be included. )

Do you love reading about secret romances, romances between two people who shouldn’t be speaking, not to mention doing…well…other decadent things?

I do! That’s why One Night With My Billionaire Master, my contribution to Mastered 2, features a secret relationship.

I can guess what you’re thinking—it’s a secret because their relationship involves BDSM. Every story in the boxed set does feature some form of BDSM. There will be hot, demanding Doms and needing-to-be-trained Subs. We’ll be introduced to suave billionaires, tattooed bikers, even a fist-bitingly-sexy alien or two. My story is no exception.

But that’s not why my couple’s relationship is a secret.

Arianna, the daughter of a media mogul, is secretly lusting after Logan Ross, her father’s number one enemy. Yes, this isn’t a good situation. She wants him, craves his touch, but she knows if she’s caught indulging her desires, her father will disown her. She’ll be cut off from the family, losing her emotional support system, her job and her wealth.

Logan Ross, our billionaire financier, wants two things—Arianna and total control of her father’s company. He scares the shaving cream out of hardened CEOs. Men jump to do his bidding. Now he seeks to have his nemesis’s daughter kneeling at his feet.

Arianna has resisted their attraction thus far. But every time they meet, every time Logan not-so-innocently brushes against her, her resolve weakens. Her billionaire pursuer has been persistent yet patience, content to slowly, steadily wear her down. The sexual tension between them spirals higher and higher.

Arianna finally breaks and sends him a two-sentence text—One Night. No one must know.

I have a long history of loving secret romances.

In high school, I fell in love with Romeo and Juliet, except being a romance reader even then, I rewrote the ending in my mind. In my version, they had their happy ever after (and babies, many, many babies – grins).

When I watch a movie, I usually cheer for the villain and the good girl heroine to get together. I’m still hoping that the Hound and Sansa in Game Of Thrones fall in love (I might be living in a fantasy world with this hope).

A real life example of a secret relationship gone public is when Beyoncé and Jay-Z finally admitted that they were an item, that the singer was dating her powerful boss. I was over the moon happy for them.

One of the reasons I love these romances is because I KNOW the couple will get caught eventually. They can’t hide their feelings or their actions forever (though Arianna tries to). When the truth is exposed to the harsh light of day, the individuals and their relationship will be tested. Their dealings with other people will also change. True natures will be revealed. Who will stand by their side and support them? Who will betray them?

Most of all, I feel hopeful when they overcome the odds, when they take their secret relationship public and make it work. If they can find and build a lasting love surrounded by conflict, love is possible for anyone and everyone.

What is your favorite secret relationship gone public (either fictional or real)?

Mastered 2On the heels of the wildly popular New York Times and USA Today bestseller, Mastered, we bring you Mastered 2, ten more tales of sensual surrender, plus a bonus short story! 


These scorching erotic romance books, plus a bonus short story, are all brand-spanking new and never-before-released, until now! One-click this anthology today at a low pre-sale price of only 99 cents. This won’t last long.

One Night With My Billionaire Master
Cynthia Sax
R Rated Excerpt

Logan Ross, billionaire investor, thirty-five percent shareholder in St. James Communications, and my father’s sworn enemy, has arrived.

My heart races and my senses tingle, my body awakening as though from a long sleep. The man I’ve chosen to be my first, perhaps my last, lover, stands in the ballroom’s doorway. He draws every gaze, his shoulders barely contained in his black form-fitting tuxedo, his stance deliciously dominant, his feet braced apart like he’s preparing for battle. The lights from the crystal chandelier shine a spotlight on his thick mane of black hair.

He suits the venue, a man as darkly elegant as the gothic revival-style mansion he’s entered. I shiver with feminine appreciation. Several lifetimes ago, Logan Ross might have been a warrior, standing on the battlements with his hands clenched behind his back, watching over his domain. The woman he defended would have been safe, protected, cherished. No enemy would have dared to storm his gates.

Tonight, those gates will surround me. I’ll be the woman he defends and he’ll expect my total submission in return for his protection. He hasn’t been shy about his sexual preferences, sending me links to websites, murmuring his plans for us against my cheek. This won’t be a vanilla first taste of sex. He’ll restrain me, spank me, force me to service him.

My pussy moistens, the possibilities exciting me. He’ll tell me what to do, his commands supplanting my inexperience, ensuring we both leave his bedroom, his dungeon, as I privately think of it, satisfied. It will be glorious. I won’t disappoint him and I won’t be required to make any decisions.

“I know he wasn’t on Father’s guest list.” Frederick interrupts my fantasies. “Arianna must have invited him.”

“No one invited him.”

Logan does whatever he desires, fuck guest lists, fuck getting permission. Father refused to grant him security clearance for St. James Communications properties. Logan had his own passcard made. Father wouldn’t allow him to access the database. Logan instructed his team to hack into the system.

The billionaire takes what he wants, and tonight, he wants me, the family-run charity event be damned. My toes curl.

“Father is in a private room, negotiating a deal.” Kayla stares at me. “If Ross leaves now, Father won’t realize you invited him.”

I didn’t invite him. Knowing they won’t listen to me, I remain silent, my gaze drifting to Logan. He searches the crowded space. Beautiful women flip their hair and smile enticingly, trying to attract his attention. He doesn’t notice them, his focus on finding me.

“Once she gives him what he wants, he’ll go away,” Cindra states loudly, her inference that I’ll grant him a fast fuck irritatingly obvious. “We’ll allow her to manage him.”

I doubt anyone can manage Logan. He’s dominant and determined down to his well-clad feet. “I’ll talk to Ross, ask him to leave.” I smooth my moist palms over my evening gown, don a polite society smile, and step forward.

Logan turns his head and his gaze locks on mine. His brown eyes gleam with awareness, appreciation, and a thrilling possessiveness, as though I’m already his, I belong to him.

This is only one night. I repeat this mantra in my mind. Don’t get emotionally involved. I glide toward him, putting distance between my half-siblings and me, not wanting them to overhear our certain-to-be outrageous conversation.

My billionaire isn’t patiently waiting for my arrival. He stalks across the marble floor, his gait fluid and smooth, his gaze fixed on my face.

Bejeweled society matrons and gray-haired business titans step out of his path, their eyes widening with curiosity. Couples stop dancing. The band valiantly continues to play, choosing a waltz as their next piece of music, the haunting notes filling the silence.

Guests expect a scene. They won’t get one. I’ve watched my mom in action. I know how to handle a horny man.

“Mr. Ross.” I hold out my right hand, proud of how steady it is. “I’m glad you could come.” My voice lowers, accentuating the innuendo. “To our little event.”

Logan clasps my fingers, his palm warm and intriguingly calloused. “I knew you’d be here.” His deep rumble rolls through my body, tightening my nipples. “It wasn’t a hard decision.”

Is he hard? I resist the urge to drop my gaze and verify, knowing other people are watching us. “Did you receive the agenda for tonight?” Does he understand that no one is to know about our liaison?

“I did.” He lifts my hand and brushes his lips over my knuckles, his breath wafting across my skin. “I incorporated it into my plans.” Gold flecks glow in his eyes as he straightens. “You have no reason to worry, Arianna.” He doesn’t release my hand. Instead, he places my palm on his forearm, his muscles flexing under his tuxedo jacket. “You can trust me.”

“I know I can trust you.” I study him, this man I’ve chosen to fuck. “That’s why I sent you tonight’s agenda.” Our texts alone, private exchanges with the dreaded enemy, would damn me in my father’s eyes. “You would never hurt me.” I know this in my soul.

“I won’t allow anyone to hurt you,” Logan makes one of his infamous vows, promises he’s been known to bend laws to keep. “You won’t regret your decision.”

We stand in the middle of the ballroom, surrounded by people. I see only him, entranced by the emotion in his brown eyes, his passion, his need, and something more, something I don’t dare believe in.

“Was this my decision?” I muse. “Did I have a choice?” Or was this inevitable, our fate, our destiny?

“No, you didn’t have a choice.” Logan’s lips lift into one of his rare smiles. “Dance with me.” This is a command, not a request. He leads me onto the floor. “It’s expected.” He swings me into position, his maneuvering graceful and sure.

It is expected. In the past, he has arrived at events, sought me out for a dance, and then departed immediately after our exchange.

His focus on me means nothing. If I say this statement enough times, I might believe it. I bend my left arm, layering my limb over his. Logan clasps my right hand tightly. Our bodies come together and we move as one.

This isn’t the rigid proper waltz I learned at ballroom dance class. It is rolling and sensuous, like the undulation of muscle under skin. One, two, three. One, two, three. There’s no thinking, no talking, only feeling, reacting. Logan steps forward. I step back. He turns. I follow.

Our hips brush together, my skirt swirling around his black pants. I gaze at his sharp chin, firm lips, feeling delicate, womanly, trusting him to guide me, to keep me safe.

Logan dips me and I fall back, confident he’ll catch me. “You’re exquisite.”

So, what’d you think? Has anyone read Mastered, the first anthology? Or any of the authors included in this one? (Mastered 2)

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Exclusive Excerpt: A Deep and Dark December by Beth Yarnall Thu, 09 Apr 2015 07:33:58 +0000 Hi friends! So I’m out and about and you know how this past ~year+ has been … so I’ve got open spots in the calendar! (Which considering I used to schedule two years in advance only makes sense…) But that’s fantastic, because it means that we have something from Beth Yarnall today! As you see she’s sharing an exclusive excerpt of her newest book that just came out Monday. Yup – A Deep and Dark December is now available! So everyone remember to congratulate Beth on her newest release!

A Deep and Dark DecemberSomeone is killing the residents of San Rey.
Graham is the sixth generation Doran to become sheriff of the sleepy central California coastal town. As long as a Doran has been sheriff there’s been no crime in San Rey, and Graham is counting on that peace and quiet when he returns home after years as an LAPD detective. But when he’s called to the scene of the murder/suicide of an old friend, he sets into motion a series of events that rocks the tiny town, and the only way to catch a killer will be to face his own dark past.
Buried secrets must be told.
Erin December has always felt like an outsider in close-knit San Rey. She comes from a family with unusual psychic abilities, which makes her an outcast in the small town. She’s spent her entire life keeping her own ability a secret—until the day she loses control of the visions, and is forced to watch a brutal murder through the killer’s eyes. Erin becomes the key witness to the first murder the town has seen in sixty years. But to help find the killer, she’s forced to reveal her biggest secret to the last person she thought she could trust—Graham.
To stop a murderer with secrets he’s killing to protect.
The December’s aren’t the only ones in San Rey with psychic abilities. As Graham and Erin’s attraction grows so does the killer’s need to protect his own secrets, turning his power on Erin and her family. Graham will do anything to protect Erin. But how do you catch a murderer who has the power to kill with his mind?

Taking a deep breath, Erin knocked. If her vision were true, no one would answer. Please let Greg answer. Brushing the shards of flaked gate paint from her fingers, she was tempted to just pull out her cell phone and place the call she’d started at the office. But that’s not how it worked. If her vision was real, the scene had to play out exactly as she’d seen it.

Clutching her bag tighter under her arm, she knocked again. “Hello? Mr. Lasiter? It’s Erin from Kavender Investments.”
She felt stupid calling him Mr. Lasiter instead of Greg. He was only a year older than she was. She’d had a stupid unrequited crush on him her freshman year of high school. And now she was standing on his dilapidated porch, supposedly waiting for him to open the door so she could take the keys to his home. The home he’d grown up in. She shouldn’t feel guilty about that and yet she did.

Mr. Lasiter?” She rapped on the door again. “Hello?”

Inside, the house was silent. Outside, the only sound was the whoosh of wind, lifting the curling ends of her brown hair, bringing with it the briny tinge of the ocean and a chill that bit right through her wool coat. Just like her vision. If Erin was smart she’d follow her instincts and run back the way she’d come. But she had her father’s practicality and a bank balance that didn’t allow for fear.

She had to see this through.

Still no answer. She’d hoped so hard that what she’d seen would be as wrong as the way it had come to her. She closed her eyes and silently chanted the words of protection she’d been taught as a child, mentally drawing a shield around herself. Focusing her energy, she took three deep breaths, letting each of them out slowly, preparing herself for the possible reality of what she’d only seen in her mind.

She opened her eyes and turned the knob. Locked. She hadn’t expected that. Her visions

never wavered. For a moment, she didn’t know what to do. The wrongness poked at her.

Careful what you wish for.

Maybe there was a key. She searched the usual places—under the doormat, above the door, the light fixture, a dead potted plant—there.

Dusting the dirt from the key, she revealed a floral pattern. It was one of those novelty keys Fine’s Hardware had started carrying some time back. Erin had one herself. She dug her key ring from her pocket and compared the near identical house keys. The irony wasn’t lost on her. If it wasn’t for her job with Kavender Investments, Austin or Ramie himself might have knocked on her door with a check to exchange for the key to her house.

She pocketed her keys once again and fit the dirt-smudged key from the planter into the lock. It fit, turning easily in the knob. The door creaked on rusty hinges, the curse of coastal living.

Hello? Mr. Lasiter?” Her voice echoed off the walls of the near empty room.

Daylight made a weak effort to invade the space, casting no shadows. It was colder here, but not cold enough to mist her breath. The air lay still and ripe with wariness, as though the house had not yet made up its mind to accept her. Or maybe she was the one who refused to accept what had been so clear in her vision. She didn’t want to go into the house, didn’t want to be the one to make the discovery.

The layout was different from what she’d seen in her mind. Almost a mirror image, except for a door where there should have been a hall, and a fireplace where there should’ve been none. The differences were disorienting. It took her a moment to get her bearings. Different. Everything was so different from what she’d seen.

Why? What does it mean?

She called out for Greg again. No answer. She should leave. Right now. But her feet propelled her farther into the room as if controlled by someone or something else.

She swallowed at the lump of dread in her throat. She’d been drawn to the door at the far end of the room just like her vision and now there, standing before it, she couldn’t seem to stop her shaking hand from reaching out to open it. A noise from the other side made her flinch.

She swung the door open slowly, revealing the room inches at a time. “Greg? It’s me, Erin, fr—” She let go of the knob, clamping both hands to her mouth. The door continued on its own, exposing the scene.

Greg knelt over the body of a woman sprawled out on the floor in a thin pool of blood.

Behind him, the kitchen wall was dotted and streaked with more blood. He slowly raised his gaze. “I didn’t do it.” He swayed back and forth. His eyes, dull with shock, stayed on Erin’s. “I didn’t do it.”

Erin lowered her hands, resting them over her pounding heart. This wasn’t right. None of this was right. Greg was the one who was supposed to be dead.

A Deep and Dark December is $.99 for one week only. Available from: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, ARe.

Thanks for sharing that excerpt with us, Beth, and happy release week! What’d you guys think? :D

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Release Day Teaser Tuesday Exclusive Excerpt: Still the One by Jill Shalvis Tue, 07 Apr 2015 04:03:24 +0000 Hi friends! We’ve got Jill Shalvis!!! Ish. Well an exclusive excerpt, which is still awesome. I have to tell you, this post has been a long time coming. Almost six months ago I emailed Jill … and we were going to do a birthday post for her, and then you know the holidays and life and this and that and now it’s April! But guess why that’s awesome? Because Still the One is out today.

Still the OneLove is a dare in the sexy new romance by the award-winning New York Times bestselling author of the Animal Magnetism novels and the Lucky Harbor series…

Darcy Stone is game for anything—except sexy Navy vet and physical therapist AJ Colten, the guy who’d rejected her when she’d needed him most. Now the shoe is on the other foot and he needs her to play nice and help him secure grants for his patients. Unfortunately Darcy can’t refuse. She needs the money to fund her passion project: rescuing S&R dogs and placing them with emotionally wounded soldiers.

AJ admits it—Darcy is irresistible. But he’s already been battle-scarred by a strong-willed, vivacious, adventurous woman like Darcy, and he’s not making the same mistake twice—until he and Darcy are forced to fake a relationship. Growing closer than they’d ever imagined possible, Darcy and AJ have to ask themselves: how much between them is pretend? What’s the real thing? And where does it go from here?

At seven the next morning, AJ stood outside Darcy’s house in a freezing mist, leaning against his truck. He knew better than to rush a woman, but they really needed to get going to allow for any unplanned incidents on the road.

Although considering Darcy was one really big Unplanned Incident, it probably wouldn’t matter when they left.

He was in for a rough time today and he knew it. If there’d been any other way—any other way at all—he’d have taken it. But he needed her.

He’d been raised to show no weaknesses, and that usually worked for him. But when it came to anything having to do with one Darcy Stone, he instantly went off axis.

The front door of the Victorian opened and Darcy stepped out wearing a formfitting, thigh-length sweater, leggings, and boots. Zoe stood in the doorway looking worried.

Let’s get this drama-free adventure over with, shall we?” Darcy asked.

She hasn’t had caffeine yet,” Zoe warned.

AJ looked Darcy over. “You think caffeine’s going to help?”

Zoe laughed, blew him a kiss, laid one on Darcy’s cheek, and vanished back inside.

Darcy went on the move, walking with an uneven gait, signaling that she was tired, possibly to the point of exhaustion.

She still wasn’t sleeping. Why, if she was still taking pain pills, wasn’t she sleeping?

As she stepped off the porch it began to sleet in earnest, and she looked up at the sky, a slow smile crowding the exhaustion away from her face.

She loved the rain, always had.

Pushing off the truck, he strode forward to take the duffle bag from her. “You’re not supposed to carry anything over five pounds,” he reminded her.

Her sleepy gaze locked onto his and he felt both a stirring and a discomfort.

Yeah. He had a hell of a long day ahead of him.

It’s been eleven months,” she said.

Eleven months and two weeks. He took a step closer, ordering himself not to breathe her in, but damn he loved the way she smelled. He shouldered her bag and held out his hand for the purse hanging off her other side.

She relinquished her purse without a word.

Another sign that something was wrong. He’d expected her to be pissy, but it wasn’t temper he saw.

Hey,” he said, moving closer, bending to see into her face. “You okay?”

Terrific, never better.” She hit the first step and her leg buckled.

It was instinct for him to reach for her, but at his movement her head whipped around like Carrie in the horror film and she gave him a back off or die look.

He lifted his hands.

She put earbuds into her ears and hit play on her iPod. Then she very carefully gripped the railing on the porch and took the second step.

Killing him. He looked at the time on his phone and eyed the distance to his truck, torn between keeping his big trap shut and mentioning that not only were they in a hurry, but a fall on the slippery steps would be bad. “I’ll carry you,” he said.

She pretended she couldn’t hear him over her music and made it to the third step, completely drenched now. Her hair loved this weather as much as she did, the curls rioting around her face.

Two more steps.

AJ watched, holding his breath, hands itching to help. Jesus. How did Wyatt and Zoe do this every single day?

When she nearly bought it on the last step, he had to shove his hands in his pockets to keep them off her.

She held still a moment, fighting for balance—which she won. And the cocky smile she sent him over her shoulder was worth every second of the torture.

Did it,” she said, clearly proud of herself. “And this time I didn’t eat dirt.”

He’d been with her just about every step of the way since her doctor had approved PT. He’d seen her flat on the mats at his wellness center, writhing in agony as he dug into her scar tissue to loosen it up. He seen her fighting her way through the pain as she worked the weights and stretches he’d given her. He’d seen her stand up out of her wheelchair and take her first steps again.

All of it had moved him.


It was why he did what he did. He never got tired of being such an integral part of someone’s recovery.

But now, right this very minute, watching her do a triumphant dance, which included a very carefully orchestrated hip boogie and body shake that had his eyes going straight to her sweet ass, made his day.

Nicely done,” he said.

She slid him a look, and he had no idea if it was the morning huskiness of his voice or something else, but she blinked in surprise at him.

And then turned left instead of heading to his truck. She walked to the middle of the grass in her yard and . . .

Lay down on her back. Despite the fact that the air was chilled and the ground even colder, she stared up at the sky and smiled as the rain hit her.

He stared down at his feet, blew out a breath, and tossed her bags into his truck. Then he joined her, sprawling out on his back on the—oh, perfect—wet grass next to her. Their arms touched and she reached for his hand, squeezing his fingers. “Perfect start to the day, right?”

The wet grass was seeping through his clothes as drops of rain splashed right in his eye. They had a long drive ahead of them, but all he could feel was her fingers in his, and then there was her smile.

Brighter than the sun that hadn’t come out in weeks.

The front door of the house across the street opened. An older woman in a thick bathrobe and curlers peered out. “What the hell are you crazy kids doing?” she yelled.

Darcy laughed her musical laugh. “Being crazy kids,” she yelled back.

The woman muttered something and slammed her door.

She’ll call the cops,” Darcy said. “And poor Kel will have to come out and investigate.”

Kel was the local sheriff and a friend of AJ’s. “We’re not doing anything illegal,” he said. “Stupid, yes. Illegal, no.”

Darcy shrugged. “Mrs. Willingham likes to cover all her bases when it comes to me.” She blew out a sigh and sat up. “We’ve got eight point five minutes to get out of here.”

A few minutes later they were on the highway. “I’m not even going to mention how disturbing it is that you know the exact response time for the police to your house.”

You can read another excerpt here, or buy a copy here. So what’d you guys think? Do you read Jill’s books? Have you been reading this series? :D

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Guest Janice Maynard + An Exclusive Excerpt of Twins on the Way Sat, 04 Apr 2015 05:59:26 +0000 Y’all I’ve read Janice Maynard’s books (or novellas) since at least 2006… possibly earlier  – with those Brava anthologies. Remember those? So I’m very pleased to welcome her to ALBTALBS as a guest today! :) Everyone please give her a warm welcome, as she’s a first time guest! \o/

Play With MeThanks for letting me hang out with you today! I’m always happy to talk with fellow book lovers.

When I was thinking about what to chat about, it occurred to me to wonder how many of you care where a book takes place? For me, it definitely makes a difference. There are certain settings that (as a reader) I find more appealing than others. And when I am writing a book, it’s really important. My characters tend to make themselves at home in very specific places.

I’m always more comfortable using settings I’ve actually visited. But sometimes, that’s not possible. Let me give you an example… it took me a very long time to sell my first book. It was a pretty traditional romance set in Antigua. My husband and I had vacationed there for an anniversary trip. During our time on Antigua, we took a puddle jumper plane to the nearby island of Montserrat and hiked down into a dormant volcano…pretty cool.

Fast forward a few years until the time Kensington Publishing bought that book. Unfortunately for me, in the interim, the volcano on Montserrat exploded, obliterating large parts of the island. Jokingly, I suggested to my new editor that maybe no one would notice.

Of course, I had to change that section of the book…and pretty quickly. I tried to convince my hubby that I needed to make a spontaneous trip to the Caribbean, but he wasn’t buying it. So I did some research the old-fashioned way and changed all the Montserrat parts to the island of St. Kitts. Hopefully, I did a decent job. As far as I know, no one protested.

In Twins On the Way, Gavin and Cassidy meet in Las Vegas. My husband and I have been there twice, both times on the way to somewhere else. But we did take in a few of the sights. Although we’re not really gamblers, we had fun on the nickel slot machines, and we also saw a couple of shows.

I was intrigued by the desert city of Vegas. It’s brash and beautiful and impossible to ignore. I had a lot of fun setting a book amidst the neon and pageantry that’s like nowhere else on earth.

I’d love to find out what settings you all enjoy. Big city? Small town? Fictional communities? Please weigh in! And we’ll choose one lucky commenter to win a prize. I’m giving away a copy of two of my erotic romances, Play With Me and Mating Game. Good luck, and I’m looking forward to hearing from you…

Janice Maynard

Twins On the WayShe’s pregnant on his doorstep in this novel from USA TODAY bestselling author Janice Maynard

Workaholic Cassidy Corelli was a virgin…until her one night with Gavin Kavanagh. Now the daughter of a Vegas mogul has two little problems—the twins she’s carrying! When her father disowns her, she’s left with only one place to go—back to Gavin.

But the millionaire’s been burned before. He wants a paternity test. Until then, he’s determined to keep this woman out of his bed—for his own good. But once he’s enjoyed a perfect passion, can a starving man deny himself one more taste?

Cassidy shivered inwardly. Gavin Kavanagh was a man, not a boy. He’d rescued her from what he thought was a dangerous situation, not pausing to consider the consequences. Though she was more than capable of taking care of herself, Gavin’s masculine assurance triggered all sorts of non-PC feminine emotions.
He was a beautiful man. Tall and broad…exuding confidence. The combination made her damp in places she’d rather not ponder. His streaky brownish-blond hair was short and spiky, not expertly styled, but like a man who didn’t care to fool with anything he considered a waste of time.
His gray eyes with the hint of blue were cool and distant at the moment. “Which is it?” The question was rife with masculine demand.
“Grumpy, grumpy, grumpy.” She wanted more time to think about this, but if she let the moment pass, she would never see him again. She was tired of being her father’s good little girl. Everyone expected her to live like a nun. And she had. But why? Her whole life was about work, work, work, and earning the love that should be a gift.
She’d been edgy and stressed for weeks now, arguing with her brother and going head-to-head with her father. Perhaps if she’d had a mother, she could have talked frankly about the fact that she felt like the world’s oldest virgin. About her choice to wait for the right man. And the fact that she’d never even met a guy who honestly tempted her.
Being raised in Vegas had exposed her to a whole lot of mature situations that gave her an insight into all kinds of adult behavior. But it also took some of the bloom off the rose when it came to romance. She was probably holding out for a fantasy that didn’t even exist except in books and movies.
She took a deep breath, feeling a funny spin in the pit of her stomach. To hell with her status as the firstborn who never strayed from the straight and narrow. She could blame Gavin for her sexual epiphany, but truthfully, this moment had been coming for a long time. She’d been saving herself for some unknown white knight, but surprisingly, the tarnished armor of a gruff, no-nonsense, make-my-day kind of guy punched all her buttons.
Though it took a measure of courage and nonchalance she wasn’t sure she could pull off, she went to him and perched on his lap, curling one arm around his neck. “You could kiss me. It might help me make up my mind.”
A firm hand gripped her hip. He smelled amazing. Woodsy cologne and warm male skin. She wanted things from him. Wild things. Wicked things. And that was saying a lot for a girl who had grown up in sin city.
“I should toss you out on your butt,” he muttered. “You’re a menace to the male sex.”
“Really?” Could he be telling the truth?
“You’re playing a dangerous game.”
The suspicion in his hard eyes was perhaps warranted, but it stung. “Don’t be that way,” she said. Putting a hand to his stubbly cheek, she smiled wistfully. “I’ll go if you want me to. But I’d really like to stay.”
He made her wait a miserably long time. Maybe thirty seconds. Or more. She actually felt the moment she won the standoff. Though she was technically on top, Gavin took control right out of the gate. One big hand settled in the curls at the back of her head, pulling her down until his lips could reach hers.
“Gavin…” She had no idea what she meant to say. When his mouth settled over hers, her brain short-circuited. He was a great kisser. World-class. On a scale of one to ten, a thirteen. The only unlucky thing about that number was that they were both fully dressed.
He took his time, drawing attention to the fact that her experience was limited at best. Unapologetic, he slid his tongue into her mouth, mimicking the act they both wanted.
When she was starved for oxygen, he pulled back, his heavy-lidded gaze searching hers. “I don’t know why you’re here,” he said gruffly, with perhaps the slightest note of accusation in his voice.
“I can leave.” It would probably be best if she did. What had started as a personal declaration of independence suddenly seemed far more serious.
“Do you do this often?”
The insinuation infuriated her. “No,” she snapped. “How about you?”
He grinned. “Never. Maybe we’re experiencing Vegas madness. I’ve heard about it.”
“I wouldn’t know,” she sniffed. “I’m a native.”
“And I’m a novice.”
“You’re not a novice anything,” she said dryly. “But I could show you the sights if you’re interested.”
“I fly home tomorrow.”
“We have tonight.” She was skating a fine line between taking what she wanted and being totally reckless. But after four years of college and two years of grad school without a break, she wanted to know how it felt to be a woman. In every way.
He toyed with the neckline of her dress. The feel of his slightly rough fingertips on her bare skin made her nipples pebble. “The only sights I’m interested in at the moment are in this room.”
The words were flat. Unadorned with emotion. The blaze in his eyes more than made up for it. So much so that she almost chickened out. To him, she had been a damsel in distress. He had acted honorably, protecting her from a perceived enemy. Only a man with high moral standards did that … right?
She’d always been a good judge of character. It was a necessary skill growing up in Vegas, particularly when your family had a lot of money. Every gut instinct she possessed told her that Gavin Kavanagh was one of the good guys. He was leaving in the morning. Was there any point in starting something that would never amount to anything more?
Playing by the rules was a first-child burden. Good grades, never breaking curfew, always trying to satisfy the parental units. Tonight she was damned if she was going to miss out on something incredible because she was too afraid to take a walk on the wild side.
“I’d like to take a shower.” The follow-up didn’t need to be spelled out.
“May I join you?”
So polite. But it wasn’t really a question. She swallowed hard. “I suppose.”
He shifted her out of his lap onto her feet. Her legs felt like overcooked pasta and her heartbeat was none too steady.
“I like your hair.” He ruffled his hand through it, mussing the style.
Every time she thought she had him pinned down, he surprised her. Men in general had little patience when it came to sexual gratification. At least the ones she knew. Gavin, on the other hand, possessed remarkable restraint.
“Thank you,” she said.
“Don’t get shy now.” He chuckled, taking her hand and leading her across the thick carpet that made her toes curl.
The bathroom was palatial and decadent. She spared a glance for the hot tub, but Gavin shook his head. “Later.”
He turned the faucet control in the glass enclosure. Triple showerheads sprouted streams of water. “Last chance.”
They were both still fully clothed except for her shoes. Though he might not like it, she knew she could turn around and leave the suite. He wouldn’t chase after her. Her confidence wavered. Was she really about to get stark naked with a handsome stranger in his opulent shower stall?
She spared a glance in the mirror, hardly recognizing the woman who stood there. “Do you have any wine?”
“Needing a bit of Dutch courage, are we?”
“Don’t make fun of me,” she said. “You’re an intimidating man.”
“Which is why you insisted on coming to my room and throwing yourself at me.”
Hot color swept from her throat to her hairline. From where he was standing, it must have seemed that way. How could she explain that he had dazzled her without even trying? “You’ll be disappointed if you think I’m a pro.”
“I thought we already established that you’re not a pro.”
“That’s not what I mean. I haven’t done this kind of thing.”
“Sex? Or seduction?”
“I have not seduced you,” she said primly, secretly charmed that he thought she could.
He nodded briefly, his firm lips curved in a sensual smile. “I’ll admit to being predisposed. You’re a very appealing woman.”

Thanks for visiting with us today, Janice! And congratulations on your newest release! :) And remember! Janice has prizes up for grabs! Remember to tell her what your favorite type of setting is to throw your hat into the ring! You might get Play With Me and Mating Game!

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SWHM Encore: Guest Ki on Ada Lovelace Thu, 02 Apr 2015 04:59:20 +0000 Hi friends! You’re like “whoa, what the heck, Lime, I thought we had a month off from Smithsonian Heritage Months?” And I had been all “yeah this is the close!” … But I ~changed my mind. I totally missed a message from Ki last month. (I didn’t even know she’d sent a file through Facebook – since when has that been a thing?!) So – I definitely wanted to include it, because Ada Lovelace was a badass. So everyone let’s get settled in to learn about Ada Lovelace, and thank you Ki for this lovely post! <3

Ada Lovelace


Hi y’all! I’m super grateful to be a part of this fabulous month for Women’s History.

As an amateur history buff and amateur research wonder (if that even makes sense) I like to research history and anything that relates to the Regency and Victorian era. Hopefully this doesn’t turn out to be a long research essay but brave through it with me and I hope you’ll learn something new.

As there are many famous ladies known during the Regency and Victorians (courtesans and gentlewomen of birth), there’s one that out beats them all for me, Ada Lovelace!

Of course Ada Lovelace isn’t her real name but a name given to her for her title. She would have been only a small part of history for her notorious father’s reputation but with her connections and knowledge she has made history! Despite men in the world trying to discredit both her and her work for years.

She was born Augustus Ada Gordon Byron in 1815, and then later, Lady Ada King, Countess Lovelace, (a magnificent title isn’t it!) when she married William King-Noel, the 1st Earl of Lovelace. But she’s most famously known as Ada Lovelace, or for me, Lord Byron’s daughter.

Although she’s the only legitimate child of the erratic poet George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, and mathematician mother Annabella Milbanke, she never met her father. Lord Byron left the country 4 months after Ada’s birth for Italy to never return. Her mother quickly requested for a legal separation from Bryon (which was unheard of and scandalous during the time) and got it approved.

Because her father was a volatile poet and a man whore shall I say in England, her mother raised Ada under a “strict regimen of science, logic, and mathematics.” But of course Ada was born to love numbers and even hoped to be an “analyst and metaphysician,” asking of her mother, “if you can’t give me poetry, can’t you give me ‘poetical science’?”

But what made her huge and well known was when she met Charles Babbage, the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of London, and father of the computer in 1833, at the age of 17 by introduction from Mary Sommerville, a Scottish scientist and polymathemtician herself, during a dinner party. Ada and Babbage became lifelong friends and talked about all topics of math and logic.

She became fascinated with Babbage’s Analytical Engine, and later help translate an article from Italian mathematician Luigi Menabrea who supported the device and wrote an article on it by adding and extending her own research of the Engine with a better understanding of articulating Babbage’s ideas than himself.

She saw the Engine as more than a sophisticated calculator so during her research Ada wrote extensive side notes of her work “detailing how the Engine could be fed step-by-step instructions to do complicated math, and trained to work not only with numbers but also words and symbols “to [even] compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent.” These notes are considered to be the first descriptions of what we now call algorithms and computer programming as she even suggested for the Engine to be able to calculate Bernoulli numbers.

So she basically helped invent the mechanical calculator at the same time as creating the first computer program!

Sadly she only lived a short life and died at the age of 36 to cancer. She was buried next to her father in Italy even though she had never met him. *aww~ tears tears*

Ada’s programmes remained nothing but visions and Babbage never did see his invention come to light. In fact there were no manifestations of their machine until the mid-20th century where Alan Turing is reported to have used it as inspiration for his modern computer work.

So if it wasn’t for her work and research we would have nothing here right now on ALBTALBS.

Women power you know, we’re smart and can’t let all those men tell us we’re not.

You can read some of her article here.

So have you heard of Ada Lovelace before? Did you know there’s Ada Lovelace Day every year mid-October. (That’s all I can find – no specifics on how it’s otherwise decided, but I know this year it’s on October 13.) :) You can also remember to check out the google doodle on Ada’s birthday on December 10th.
Ada Lovelace Google Doodle
What a singular woman! Thanks so much for sharing, Ki! Have you guys heard of Ada Lovelace before? Have any other women to suggest as being amazing and deserving of celebration? The field is wide open! Let’s hear it! <3

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