Category Archives: Prologue

SALES BLITZ ~ NUDES (Exposed #1) by Sarah Robinson

Sarah Robinson’s sexy NUDES is on sale!

Be sure to grab your copy by August 26th!

About NUDES:

Praised by #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Lauren Blakely, as “Passionate, emotional and uplifting!”, contemporary romance author Sarah Robinson brings readers a new standalone novel set in the glamorous hills of Hollywood and tackling challenging themes like the intersection of sexuality and female empowerment.

Ben Lawson is making a comeback…
After a few tabloid headlines, they think they know me. They don’t know a damn thing. As CEO of a movie production company, I’ll show them who I really am when we hit it big at the box office. My ex thought her smear tactics would ruin me, but I’m unbreakable. Rising from the debris, I swore I’d never let a woman distract me like that again. But then, my leading actress walked on the set and changed everything.

Seductive, sexy, and unapologetic, Aria Rose could break me. I wanted to help her, protect her…love her. Instead, I destroyed her.

Aria Rose is baring it all….
I knew better. I knew not to trust another Hollywood heartthrob with a reputation like his. He was my boss and became my ruin.
I should have stayed far away from him. Ben Lawson promised me the world. He even promised me his heart.

But he destroyed everything–my heart, my career, us.


Get Your Copy Today:

Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBooks | Google Play


Exclusive Excerpt:

PROLOGUE

Aria woke with a jolt, looking around the dark bedroom. As her senses slowly began to adjust, she looked for the source of whatever had disturbed her. Her cell phone vibrated against the surface of her nightstand, the screen lit so brightly it cast a square light onto the ceiling above.

Yawning, Aria grabbed for it. She glanced over at the man in bed next to her, her heart filling with warmth at the sight of his sleeping form.

Finally focusing on her phone, she realized she had dozens of missed texts, calls, and emails.

“What the hell?” she whispered to herself, sitting up.

Aria, are you awake? WAKE UP NOW.

Don’t look at the news. We need to talk. 911.

Is that you on E! News? Did you allow that?

OMG, ARIA! WHAT THE HELL?

What did you do?!?! This is career suicide!

Her heart began to race, panic swarming her every cell as she quickly clicked out on a website link her best friend sent her. A photo popped up, and then another, and another, and another, and Aria knew exactly what she was looking at.

Herself.

Nude.

Aria could barely breathe, trembling as she searched social media and entertainment news sites. The photos were everywhere. She was everywhere. Her breasts, her body, her love life on full display for the world to see.

It would have been bad enough if they’d just been images of her posing, but these were pornographic. These were her in her most intimate moments with a man she’d…

A sob stuck in her throat. Did he do this?

She looked at the man still sleeping beside her, fear gripping her heart.

This couldn’t be happening.

 

CHAPTER ONE

Two Months Earlier

“Wait until you meet our lead.” The heavyset producer’s eyes glinted with excitement as he spoke. He brought a sandwich up to his lips, taking a bite and continuing around a mouthful of food. “She’s only had small roles up until this film, but she’s up-and-coming. No doubt about it. Aria Rose is poised to take the world by storm come Oscar season.”

Ben didn’t reply, too distracted watching the producer trying to wipe a blob of mayonnaise off his tie. Arthur Atwood was a large man with a messy comb-over and an ill-fitting suit, which must have been a deliberate choice since Ben knew Arthur made a handsome salary.

Is he licking his tie?

His new right-hand man was actually licking mayonnaise off his tie. Not a good sign. Ben made a mental note never to ask Arthur to have a meeting over lunch at his desk again.

“Bugger, it’s in there good,” Arthur muttered in his thick English accent, dropping his tie and slapping his hands on his knees. “All right. Enough of that. Ready for a tour of the studio?”

“Very,” Ben replied, balling up the parchment paper his own sandwich had been wrapped in and tossing it into the wastebasket beneath his desk. He stood, rolling his shoulders and stretching his neck from side to side.

They’d spent the morning touring the corporate offices on the lot of Shepherd Film Studios where Ben would be officially starting in two weeks as the company’s new chief executive officer. He had agreed to come in on Friday to tour everything and meet the crew on their final day of filming—but the pressure was already on.

One of the oldest movie production companies in Hollywood, Shepherd Film Studios was well respected, but struggled to adapt to new changes in the industry—the rise of streaming services, quicker distribution on the internet, and other changes that appealed to younger generations.

Maguire Industries had recently purchased the studio and placed Ben in charge to fix that. He had one year to prove to the board at Maguire that he could turn Shepherd Films back into a thriving production company or they’d dismantle the company and sell it off for profit.

He was Shepherd Films last resort, and thank goodness, too. No one else in Hollywood was desperate enough to throw him a lifeline. Being an embarrassing public spectacle for the last two years had been by far one of the biggest setbacks in his professional life to date—and his personal life was to blame.

Fucking divorce.

“Have you seen any of her movies?” Arthur held the door to the office open for him, and together they headed down the hallways of the main offices. “She’s a bombshell—literally one of the most gorgeous women I’ve ever seen.”

“Aria Rose?” Ben replied, racking his brain for a mental image of the actress. “I’ve seen a few. Very pretty. She’s very talented but never been a lead.”

Scarlet’s Letters is her first starring role, and she’s perfect for it. We can watch the dailies from today’s filming, and you’ll see what I mean. We were really lucky to score her for this film.”

Ben had wondered about that, too. Aria wasn’t necessarily A-list, but she was an up-and-coming fan favorite among millennial and younger generations. Her social media attention was nonstop, and there was an almost cult following to her that had made Hollywood execs begin to take notice. Yet, he’d seen the budget this morning. She was being vastly underpaid for this film, and he wasn’t sure why.

They passed the guards at the front desk of the main offices and stepped out into the sun. “How did your team manage to sign her?” Ben asked.

“Sheer luck, I’d gather. She was following the script around—or so I heard. Determined to be part of it, though I can’t say why exactly. The script is great—historical World War II romance with a Hester Prynne theme—and we’re already getting some Oscar buzz from it. Still, it’s a long shot, and it’s nothing like her previous films.”

Ben pulled a pair of sunglasses from his suit pocket and placed them over his eyes. The bright Los Angeles sun was beating down on them as they climbed onto a golf cart to traverse the large lot to the studios. “Sounds like we’re the lucky ones, then.”

“You’ve got that right,” Arthur agreed, taking the driver’s seat since Ben was still mostly unfamiliar with the area.

A few minutes later, their golf cart pulled up outside a large warehouse-type building that read STUDIO E in large black letters across the top. Ben climbed out and followed Arthur to a small door off to the side, a red light lit above the door.

Arthur pointed to the light. “That means they’re filming, so not a peep.” He placed a finger to his mouth, indicating they needed to be quiet.

Ben nodded, and they entered the building only to be immediately shrouded in darkness. It might be his first day at Shepherd Films, but Ben was no stranger to movie sets and felt immediately at ease as they carefully made their way over to where the camera crew was.

Ben’s father, Roger Lawson, was a highly sought after cameraman who’d taken a career most people overlooked and became the best. He’d taught Ben to do the same—excel in everything by putting his whole heart into every project, no matter how small or large. As a young boy, he’d spent many a summer day with his father at work, learning the business of not only filming, but creating movies, in general.

Newly thirty years old, Ben had spent the last decade putting his father’s words into practice, rising through the ranks to become one of the hottest names in film production. He only wished his father was still alive to see his ascent, or at least, he had wished that until his ex-wife smeared his name through the tabloids during their divorce.

Never fall in love with an actress. The one rule his father had told him before he died that Ben had ignored. Lesson learned.

“Am I to be punished for helping a fellow human being?” A strong female voice broke through the silence around them.

Ben stepped around a crowd of onlookers to see the set. Behind him was an entire crew, and not a single dry eye. The emotion on everyone’s face surprised him. Following their attention to the main set, he saw the set was a bedroom. Sitting on the edge of the bed was a tall, broad-shouldered man with his head in his hands, wearing a soldier’s uniform from the 1940’s.

In front of the downtrodden soldier was a statuesque blonde, her hair flowing down her back in one long, chunky braid. Pieces of her golden mane escaped the braid, framing her face and highlighting her soft, pink cheeks. Pale blue-gray eyes brimmed with tears as she folded her hands over her heart.

“I won’t lie, James,” she continued, her voice softer now. “I can’t.”

The soldier suddenly stood, gripping the woman by her upper arms. “You have to lie, Anna. Your life is at stake—my life, our life. You’ll be imprisoned, and everything we’ve dreamt of will be over.”

She steeled herself, her jaw tightening. “If this is real…if our love is real…then we’ll survive this. Without the lies, the tricks, the falsehoods. We can survive this, James.”

Ben felt a swelling in his chest, a lump in his throat. He wasn’t even sure what the storyline was about, and yet, he was captivated by the woman in front of the cameras. Her presence was powerful…she was powerful.

“No, Anna.” He dropped her arms and stepped back, a look of disgust on his face. “We can’t survive this. Not if you choose their lives over mine…over ours.”

The blonde shook her head slowly, her hand now on her stomach as if she might be sick. “You can’t mean that, James. You can’t make me pick between loving you and my purpose in life.”

“It’s them…or it’s me. Now or never, Anna.”

Ben focused on the actress’s face, expecting to see her acquiesce to the steely-delivered ultimatum. Instead, her chin pushed up and she inhaled deeply. Everything about her posture and stance screamed strength, and yet, in the exact same moment, those blue-gray eyes ached with pain. Ben nearly forgot he was watching actors because her portrayal was so genuine…she was so genuine.

“Goodbye, James.” Her voice was gentle, but resolute.

The soldier’s nostrils flared angrily, before he slowly shook his head. “Goodbye, Anna.” With that, he walked out of the door and left her standing alone in the bedroom.

She waited a moment, staring after him. Her hand slowly lifted to her lips, covering her mouth as a loud sob ripped from her throat. In an excruciating display, her body dipped forward slightly before completely crumpling in on itself. She fell against the edge of the bed, sobbing into its sheets, as the lights on set dimmed.

“Cut!” the director yelled. “Holy fuck. That was amazing, Aria!”

The blond actress pushed up off the bed, smiling and wiping the tears from her cheeks. Everyone in the studio erupted into applause, and Ben joined in. She deserved every second of it after that performance.

A surge of excitement ran through Ben’s body—he could do this. With acting like this, there was no way their movie wouldn’t be a success. There was no way he wouldn’t be able to bring this studio success within the year with a film like this.

“Hey, Russell,” Arthur called out to the director and ushered Ben over to him. “Meet our new studio head, Ben Lawson.”

Ben extended a hand to the grungy looking man with long, curly black hair to his shoulders. “Good to meet you, Russell.”

“Please, call me Russ. I’m Russ Rains, director. I’m sure you’ve heard of me.” He donned a cocky smile. Metal and bracelets around his wrists made a clanking sound as they shook hands—a not too unusual fashion choice in this city.

“I have,” Ben admitted, though he didn’t really like this man’s ego already. It was certainly nothing unusual in Hollywood, and Ben had met the type many a time before. Russell Rains was a legitimately well-known director with several big box office hits under his belt, though it had been many years since his last. “Your work is amazing, Russ.”

“Thank you, Benji,” Russ said with an obnoxious chuckle. “Come on. Let me introduce you to our leads.”

“I’ll meet you back at the office,” Arthur told Ben. “Have fun on set!”

Ben followed Russell onto the bedroom set where the actress he’d been so captivated by was hugging the soldier who’d just broken her heart.

“You were amazing, Travis,” she said to him, pulling back from their embrace to smile at him.

Something inside Ben stirred—irritation, anger? He wasn’t sure, but he didn’t like seeing the man’s arms around the beautiful blonde.

“Sweet pea, come meet our new studio head,” Russ called out to Aria, who visibly bristled at his demand. Ben made a mental note to ask about the director’s dynamic with the actors later. “This here is Benji.”

Ben Lawson,” Ben corrected the director, extending his hand to the woman.

“Aria Rose,” she replied, taking his hand with a gentle squeeze. Her fingers were small and warm around his, and there was something sad about letting go. “Pleased to meet you, Mr. Lawson. This is my co-star, Travis Peters.”

The soldier shook his hand next. “Good to meet you, sir.”

“Please, call me Ben,” he instructed them both. “Travis, you were fantastic. And, Aria, I have to admit that your performance just now was incredible. I was unbelievably moved.”

Her pale pink cheeks darkened as she looked down at her hands. “Thank you.”

“I have no doubt this movie will be phenomenal.”

Russ slapped a hand on Ben’s back. “Hell, yeah. That was our last scene, so we’re officially wrapped.” The director stepped away from them and yelled to the entire crew. “It’s a wrap, fuckers!”

Ben didn’t even cringe at the man’s abrasiveness this time.

The crew clapped and cheered, and everyone was hugging and high-fiving each other. A swarm of people came onto the bedroom set to congratulate Aria, pushing Ben backward as he watched her gracefully accept their praise.

In fact, he couldn’t take his eyes off her, and it only had a little to do with how unbelievably attracted he was to her. As he stepped to the side, he watched how she smiled, laughing and embracing her co-workers. It was captivating. Aria commanded a room, not just when she was acting, but as herself. Her eyes danced and shone as she spoke to the crew and other actors, her smile wide and transformative.

He felt drawn to who she was, not just what he saw, and it was intoxicating. Though, what he saw was certainly breathtaking. Gorgeous wasn’t enough to describe this woman, or the way her long neck dipped into thin shoulders and a deep collarbone. Her breasts pushed against the dark red dress she was wearing that highlighted her hourglass silhouette, and her golden braid hung down over her shoulder with a weight and visible softness he’d never seen before.

Someone bumped Ben’s shoulder as they rushed in her direction, bringing Ben back to reality. What the fuck am I doing? He was barely six months out of a long divorce and had sworn off women entirely for now. And an actress? That was not happening. No way would he repeat his previous mistake twice. Not to mention that he was her boss, essentially, and that it would be a major conflict of interest. That was even assuming she was single and interested in him, which…

Why am I even thinking about this? Ben shook the thought from his head, unsure when the last time was that he’d ever felt this foggy-headed over a woman.

Aria’s laughter peeled through the air just then, melodic and joyous. Ben swallowed hard, shoving his hands in his pockets and heading for the door. He had to get out of there. Now.

He wouldn’t let himself fall for another actress, not even one as beautiful as Aria Rose.




About the Author:

Aside from being a Top 10 Barnes & Noble and Amazon Bestseller, Sarah Robinson is a native of the Washington, DC area and has both her Bachelors and Masters Degrees in criminal psychology. She is a divorcée who works as a crisis counselor by day and romance novelist by night. She owns a small zoo of furry pets and is actively involved in volunteering in her community.

Subscribe to her newsletter 

Visit the author’s website for more information about Sarah and her books: 

 

Connect with Sarah:

Website | Newsletter | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


Enter Sarah’s Giveaway:

Rafflecopter giveaway


 

RELEASE TOUR ~ LEGENDS: CATORI by Maggie Adams

It’s hard to keep secrets in a small town….

Out June 2nd – The first in a new Paranormal Romance series from Maggie Adams – Legends: Catori!

Follow the tour and enter to #win a beautiful owl necklace!

Enter HERE: 

Title: Legends: Catori
Series: Legends #1
Author: Maggie Adams

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: June 2, 2018

 

Blurb:

It’s hard to keep secrets in a small town…

It’s even harder to keep a secret that could expose not only your family, but an entire species. That’s what Frankie Cavanaugh must do. As the daughter of the leader of the Wisdom Council, it’s up to her to step into her father’s shoes until another leader is chosen.

It’s also up to her to continue her lineage within the species.

She wants to do neither. She considers the shifter gene a curse rather than a gift, robbing her of a normal life. Unfortunately, the Council doesn’t see it that way and is determined to wed her to their next leader – by force, if necessary.

Tanner Coalson is fresh out of college and ready to tackle whatever life has in store for him. First item on his to-do list is marrying the woman he has loved for years. He knows Frankie will baulk at the notion because she’s fifteen years older and was his childhood sitter. He’s no longer a young boy, but a man who is determined to win her heart, and he is prepared to do just that.

But convincing her they are destined to be together gets much harder when she is kidnapped by an old enemy. In order to survive, Frankie may have to reveal her secret, and Tanner may have to accept what seems impossible, or reject the love of his life.

Find out more at:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo




Prologue Excerpt:

Talon Cavanaugh stood on the grassy knoll above the cemetery, watching the procession as it wound through the cracked tombstones to the final resting place of the Wisdom Council’s leader, Leonard Cavanaugh. He smiled in satisfaction as the urn was laid into the dirt pit next to where his human wife would someday reside. Soon, he thought, soon all would be in place and he could claim his birthright.

“Son, I know how much you loved your uncle. Are you sure you don’t want to go down and join in the ceremony?” his father asked.

Well, the man he had called ‘father’ for most of his life, inquired. It was only on his mother, Sylvia’s, death bed, that Talon had learned the truth. He was the son of Leonard Cavanaugh, the owl leader of the Wisdom Council, who had died never knowing he had fathered a son. Sylvia had wanted to ensure the bloodline stayed pure when it became apparent that the old fool was planning to wed that woman, Paige, an inferior human. Sylvia had slipped a potion into his wine as the family celebrated her engagement to the leader’s brother, Lester, Talon’s assumed father.  Leonard Cavanaugh had mated with Sylvia that night, the potion making him hallucinate that he was with his beloved Paige.  Sylvia’s plan worked, and she gave birth to Talon, who was a pureblood shifter, keeping the bloodline intact.

Glancing over his shoulder, Talon shook his head in the negative at Lester. He had no need to go down there. He was the true heir to the leadership position of the Council. He knew the death procedure –  one year of grieving for the widow and the family. He looked to Frankie Cavanaugh. She was a beautiful woman, despite her human blood. Her red hair glowed like flames in the sunlight. She was appropriately dressed in black, her cultural brooch, made of gold and the feathers of her father, pinned to her breast. She was crying quietly into a handkerchief, hugging her mother, in solace. It was almost a pity she would have to die, but there could only be one true leader.

And that position would be filled by him.



About Maggie Adams:

Maggie Adams is an Amazon Best Selling contemporary romance author. Her first book in the Tempered Steel Series, Whistlin’ Dixie, debuted in Amazon’s Top 100 for Women’s Fiction, humor, on November, 2014. Since then, she has consistently made the Amazon best seller 5-star list with Leather and Lace, Something’s Gotta Give, and Love, Marriage & Mayhem. She is also the recipient of the Dayreader Review’s Best New Series Award for 2015. Her series has launched the tiny town of Grafton, Illinois, into International recognition with sales in Mexico, Ireland, Scotland, Australia and the UK.

Back home, she resides in the Midwest, with her high school sweetheart, Ned, and their children, Katie (Kyle) and Ross (Valerie) and first granddaughter, Lorelei, otherwise known as “The Boss”

You can connect with her online at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Goodreads | Instagram | Pinterest | BookBub



Follow the tour and enter to #win a beautiful owl necklace!


5/30/18
Becky on Books – Spotlight

Books+Pastelitos – Spotlight

Movies, Shows, & Books – Spotlight

Romance Novel Giveaways – Spotlight

Crazy Beautiful Reads – Spotlight

Evermore Books – Spotlight

I Need to Read That – Spotlight

nikkis book nook – Spotlight

Romance Reviews Today Blog – Spotlight

The Power of Three Readers – Spotlight

Yearwood La Novela – Spotlight

Nerdy Dirty and Flirty – Spotlight


5/31/18
A Chick Who Reads – Spotlight

AlwaysReiding – Spotlight

Book Lovers Reviews and Recommendations – Spotlight

Delish, Devine and All Mine – Spotlight

Good Choice Reading – Spotlight

Insatiable Readings – Spotlight

OMGreads – Spotlight

Sea’s Nod – Spotlight

The Reading Diaries – Spotlight


6/1/18
6 Feet Under Books – Spotlight

It’s All About the Romance – Spotlight

Autumn J. Cruz Writing – Spotlight

Books to get lost in – Spotlight

Dog Eared Pages – Spotlight

Happily Ever BookWorm – Spotlight

Once Upon a Book Blog – Spotlight

The Voluptuous Book Diva – Spotlight


6/4/18
Book Loving Pixies – Review

Deborah’s Blog of Books, Reviews,Spotlights and More – Review

Cat’s Guilty Pleasure – Spotlight

I Love Romance – Spotlight

LadyTechie’s Book Musings – Spotlight

Reads All the Books – Spotlight

TBR Book Blog – Spotlight

The World As I See It – Spotlight


6/5/18
Book-Lover Book Blog – Spotlight

RoloPoloBookBlog – Spotlight

Twinsie Talk – Spotlight

Cathy’s World – Spotlight

More Books Than Livros – Spotlight

Natasha’s Book Nook – Spotlight

Reese’s Review – Spotlight

Teatime and Books – Spotlight

We All Make Mistakes in Books – Spotlight



FIRST LOOK ~ LEGENDS: CATORI by Maggie Adams

It’s hard to keep secrets in a small town….

Out June 1st – The first in a new Paranormal Romance series
from Maggie Adams – Legends: Catori

 


Follow the blitz and enter to #win a $10 Amazon Gift Card

Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Title: Legends: Catori
Series: Legends
Author: Maggie Adams

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: June 1, 2018

 

Blurb:

It’s hard to keep secrets in a small town…

It’s even harder to keep a secret that could expose not only your family, but an entire species. That’s what Frankie Cavanaugh must do. As the daughter of the leader of the Wisdom Counsel, it’s up to her to step into her father’s shoes until another leader is chosen.

It’s also up to her to continue her lineage within the species.

She wants to do neither. She considers the shifter gene a curse rather than a gift, robbing her of a normal life. Unfortunately, the Counsel doesn’t see it that way and is determined to wed her to their next leader – by force, if necessary.

Tanner Coalson is fresh out of college and ready to tackle whatever life has in store for him. First item on his to-do list is marrying the woman he has loved for years. He knows Frankie will baulk at the notion because she’s fifteen years older and was his childhood sitter. He’s no longer a young boy, but a man who is determined to win her heart, and he is prepared to do just that.

But convincing her they are destined to be together gets much harder when she is kidnapped by an old enemy. In order to survive, Frankie may have to reveal her secret, and Tanner may have to accept what seems impossible, or reject the love of his life.

 

Find out more at: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo


Prologue Excerpt:

Talon Cavanaugh stood on the grassy knoll above the cemetery, watching the procession as it wound through the cracked tombstones to the final resting place of the Wisdom Council’s leader, Leonard Cavanaugh. He smiled in satisfaction as the urn was laid into the dirt pit next to where his human wife would someday reside. Soon, he thought, soon all would be in place and he could claim his birthright.

“Son, I know how much you loved your uncle. Are you sure you don’t want to go down and join in the ceremony?” his father asked.

Well, the man he had called ‘father’ for most of his life, inquired. It was only on his mother, Sylvia’s, death bed, that Talon had learned the truth. He was the son of Leonard Cavanaugh, the owl leader of the Wisdom Council, who had died never knowing he had fathered a son. Sylvia had wanted to ensure the bloodline stayed pure when it became apparent that the old fool was planning to wed that woman, Paige, an inferior human. Sylvia had slipped a potion into his wine as the family celebrated her engagement to the leader’s brother, Lester, Talon’s assumed father.  Leonard Cavanaugh had mated with Sylvia that night, the potion making him hallucinate that he was with his beloved Paige.  Sylvia’s plan worked, and she gave birth to Talon, who was a pureblood shifter, keeping the bloodline intact.

Glancing over his shoulder, Talon shook his head in the negative at Lester. He had no need to go down there. He was the true heir to the leadership position of the Council. He knew the death procedure –  one year of grieving for the widow and the family. He looked to Frankie Cavanaugh. She was a beautiful woman, despite her human blood. Her red hair glowed like flames in the sunlight. She was appropriately dressed in black, her cultural brooch, made of gold and the feathers of her father, pinned to her breast. She was crying quietly into a handkerchief, hugging her mother, in solace. It was almost a pity she would have to die, but there could only be one true leader.

And that position would be filled by him.


About the Author:

Maggie Adams is an Amazon Best Selling contemporary romance author. Her first book in the Tempered Steel Series, Whistlin’ Dixie, debuted in Amazon’s Top 100 for Women’s Fiction, humor, on November, 2014. Since then, she has consistently made the Amazon best seller 5-star list with Leather and Lace, Something’s Gotta Give, and Love, Marriage & Mayhem. She is also the recipient of the Dayreader Review’s Best New Series Award for 2015. Her series has launched the tiny town of Grafton, Illinois, into International recognition with sales in Mexico, Ireland, Scotland, Australia and the UK.

Back home, she resides in the Midwest, with her high school sweetheart, Ned, and their children, Katie (Kyle) and Ross (Valerie) and first granddaughter, Lorelei, otherwise known as “The Boss”

You can connect with her online at: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Goodreads | Instagram | Pinterest | BookBub



 

CHAPTER REVEAL ~ Sergio by Natasha Knight

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m the first-born son of the mafia king. The favorite. Destined to rule, I’m a dangerous man, a ruthless one. But in my world, you have to be.Then Natalie stumbles into my life. Wrong place. Wrong time.

Twice, fate put her in my path.
Twice, fate placed the innocent lamb at the mercy of the monster.

I gave her a chance to walk away. Told her it would be better for her if she did.
But she didn’t listen.
And now it’s too late.
Because I’m not good. I never wanted to be. And I won’t let her go anymore. See, I’m not the hero. When I touch her, it’s with dirty hands.

I know my reckoning is coming though. I know I’ll burn for the things I’ve done, the sins I’ve committed. And I don’t deny hell is where I belong, but I want my time first. I want my time with her.

She’s mine.
Forever.
No matter what.

Author’s Note: Sergio: a Dark Mafia Romance is an intensely emotional, steamy and dark standalone romance set in the Benedetti Brothers Mafia world. Be prepared: this is not a traditional romance.


Prologue
Natalie

“Wrong place, wrong time, sweetheart.”

The words echo in my head.
I’ve done this before. Twice in my life now, I’ve been at the wrong place at the wrong time. Isn’t there some sort of karmic balancing? Like isn’t it enough to witness this kind of violence just once in a lifetime?
Last time was six years ago. I was fourteen and standing in front of the freezer of the convenience store down the street from my house deciding which ice cream bar I wanted. I remember the humming of the air conditioner. Liking the cool inside on that too hot August day. It was one of the few times my parents let me go alone. We didn’t live in the best neighborhood.
The men came in so quickly, I barely registered the fact they were wearing ski masks before the first gunshot went off. I dove to the ground and shut my ears to the commands they shouted, but the man with the greasy shirt saw me. He came at me and I would have screamed if I could find my voice, but the others’ screams muted me, and when he gripped me by my hair and hauled me to my feet, I followed where he led me.
Another gunshot was followed by another scream and I swear I saw red splatter the walls.
Blood.
But when he threw me to the ground in the last aisle and I registered what he meant to do, it all became surreal.
Gunshots and fists and screams all seemed in the distance. Like they weren’t part of my reality anymore because my reality was about to change. My reality came down to him and me on the floor of this forgotten shop, with blood seeping from beneath the aisle divider. Fear in the voices of the others trapped here with me. Him with his pants undone. Him with his hands in my jeans. Me watching, mute. Trying to shove him away.
I remember the bell over the door going again.
Remember the sound of footsteps.
Someone cursing.
I remember the sound of a gun being cocked. Readied. How I knew what that little click meant I’m not sure, but it’s an unmistakable sound. I remember the look on the face of the one between my legs as he registered cold steel on the back of his head.
We looked up at the man in the dark suit at the same time. He wore black from head to toe, a dark angel. His pistol shone bright in the blinking fluorescent light. The angel called me to go to him. I did. I scrambled to my feet and went. He glanced down to where my jeans were undone before meeting my eyes. He pulled me to him, put one hand on the back of my head, burying my face in his belly.
He told me to keep my eyes closed. To cover my ears. Said he’d try not to get blood on me.
I didn’t think. I did as he said. Put my hands over my ears. And I swear I know what a bullet tearing through flesh sounds like now.
But all that I’ve managed to file away. Locked up in a box until now.
It’s his words that play back over and over again. The sound of his voice that I recognize as now, so many years after that terrible day, I crouch behind the decrepit machinery in this abandoned warehouse and hide.
“Wrong place, wrong time, sweetheart.”
Sweetheart.
I’ll never forget that voice. Never forget the casual way he called me sweetheart. And I recognize it now. The man in the suit, my dark angel. The man who killed without flinching. The man who saved my life once. It’s him. He’s here.
And when he shifts his gaze in my direction, I swear he hears the pounding of my heart against my chest. Swear it’ll give me away.
Except that this time, if he finds me, he won’t be saving me.************************************************************************

Chapter 1

Sergio

Fuck. I hate these fucking warehouses. Dusty and always frigid.
I’m flanked by two of my men. Four more soldiers trail us with a dozen more outside. It’s to make an impression. Joe and Lance Vitelli have overstepped.
Lance. Who the fuck names their kid Lance in this business? It’s no wonder he’s acting out. Trying to prove he’s not a pussy.
Our footsteps echo off the old machinery as I follow Roman, my uncle, through the main room and to the back where the brothers are being held. There’s no door to that room and the glow of the single light bulb is a contrast to the pitch black of the rest of the place.
The sound of a fist connecting with flesh is followed by a grunt. The grunt, I know, belongs to either Joe or Lance. I pick lint off my sleeve and adjust the cuff of my shirt as we near the entrance. Roman steps into the room, stands to the side, folding his hands together. He takes in what’s going on, then turns to me, gives a brief nod and waits.
I walk into the room, crack my neck. Slept bad last night.
The sight that greets me is not an unfamiliar one. The offenders are sitting in straight back chairs, but they’re not bound. There’s a splattering of blood on Joe’s white shirt. It’s fresh. I guess he’s the one who took the punch I heard.
“That’s disgusting. Get something on his nose,” I say to one of my men.
“It’s fucking broke,” Joe whines, taking the wad of nasty cloth someone just shoved at him.
I go right up to him. Lean down to get my face in his. “You’re lucky you’re not broke. Be grateful or that’ll change.”
He breathes in a sharp breath and I know he’s biting his lip not to reply.
“Sergio,” Lance starts. Lance is the older brother. The slightly smarter one. Or the one with a healthier fear of death.
Of me.
I straighten, turn to him.
“Mr. Benedetti,” he corrects.
I wait.
“My brother screwed up, but it’s fixed. The girls are back home. No harm, no foul, right?” He attempts to smile but it fails and his lips droop.
“In whose territory do you live?” I ask. It’s been a long fucking night already and it’s not close to over. I’m tired, so I’ll get to the point.
“Yours, sir,” he answers.
“In whose territory do your families live? Mothers, sisters, wives, daughters.”
Lance’s face, which was pale when I got here, goes gray. “Yours, Mr. Benedetti. Benedetti territory.”
I nod, shift my gaze to Joe. “To whom has your father pledged your family’s loyalty, Joe?” His eyes narrow and when he doesn’t answer right away, Lance clears his throat to, but I stop him. “I’m asking your fucking brother.”
“Benedetti,” Joe says through gritted teeth.
“DeMarco’s were once loyal to us too, until they weren’t,” I remind them. What happened to that family should be enough warning. What is happening and still will happen to Lucia DeMarco, most precious daughter, should be enough. My father’s right about fear. But there’s more to it. Ruthlessness. It’s what truly gets you respect in this business.
He is ruthless.
And I am my father’s son.
“You have a sister, don’t you?” I ask. “Anna, right? How old is she now?”
Lance just stares back at me, his eyes wide with fear.
I may not agree with how my father is handling the DeMarco girl, but I understand it. “Lucia DeMarco’s age, am I right?”
“She’s only sixteen, sir,” Lance says, his voice a little quieter.
“Yeah, Lucia DeMarco’s age when they lost the war they started with us.” I don’t need to say more.
“Sergio—” Lance starts. “Mr. Benedetti—”
I raise my hand to halt him. “Let’s just be clear. I’m going to give you a warning. One chance, because I know your father. He’s been a friend to my family. But if you overstep again, the consequences will be more…permanent.”
Lance swallows.
“Benedetti’s do not deal in flesh trade. Is that clear?”
“Yes, sir,” Lance says quickly.
I look at Joe. If looks could kill, I’d be dead right now.
I grab a handful of Joe’s hair and tug his head backward. “Is that fucking clear?”
One of my men cocks a gun and Lance whimpers like a fucking girl.
“You the tough one?” I ask Joe. “Sucks to always be in big brother’s shadow, doesn’t it?” He exhales, shifts his gaze away from mine, but not to his brother. I’m right. Like Dominic, my youngest brother, he knows he’ll never be boss and it fucking kills him. “Am I fucking clear, Joe? Or do I need to make an example?” I squeeze the handful of over-gelled hair and if I twist just once in the wrong direction, I’ll snap his neck. Quick and clean. No blood on my suit. And he knows it.
“Clear,” he says.
I release him, wipe my hand on my pants and decide I’m not done yet. “Now, show me your loyalty. Your gratitude for my family’s generosity in this unfortunate event.” I step backward, giving him space. He knows what I want and it’s going to kill him to do it.
But he’s going to do it.
I wait. I’m patient.
“Joe. Just fucking do it,” Lance orders his brother when a full minute passes and Joe hasn’t moved.
Joe’s face is a fiery red and his eyes are filled with rage. But soon, the leg of the chair scrapes across the concrete floor as he drops to his knees at my feet.
I look down at him. Give him more space. And my smile widens as he prostrates himself and his lips touch the toe of my shoe.
I want to kick the son-of-a-bitch, but I don’t. I’m a man of my word. I will give them one more chance.
A sound comes from the metal ramp that runs along the perimeter of the large office forming a second level. I look at it. It must have been an observation deck to oversee the plant.
I don’t know if anyone else heard it. A glance at Roman tells me he did, but the others haven’t noticed. I nod to him. He steps out of the room and two men follow.
When I return my gaze to the spectacle in front of me, I’m very aware of my periphery. I want to catch any movement because that sound was too loud for a mouse.
“Get them out of here,” I say to the two soldiers behind the brothers.
“Yes, sir.”
I watch as Joe and Lance are walked rudely out of the room. After a few moments, I turn to my men. “Let’s go,” I say loudly. They walk out. I hang back, switch out the light, listen to the footsteps echo as they vacate the building. I reach for the handgun in its holster beneath my jacket and walk silently toward the direction from where the sound had come.




USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance, Natasha Knight specializes in dark, tortured heroes. Happily-Ever-Afters are guaranteed, but she likes to put her characters through hell to get them there. She’s evil like that.

 



 

NEW RELEASE ~ I DARE YOU by Ilsa Madden-Mills

Wall Street Journal bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills brings you a brand-new heartfelt,
sexy contemporary romance with I DARE YOU is LIVE!

Blurb:

Bad Ass Athlete: I dare you to…
Delaney Shaw: Who is this?

The late night text is random, but “Bad Ass Athlete” sure seems to know who she is…

Delaney Shaw. 
Good girl.
Lover of fluffy kitties and Star Wars. 
Curious.

His dare? Spend one night in his bed—a night he promises will be unforgettable—and she can solve the mystery of who he is. 

She knows she shouldn’t, but what else is she going to do with her boring Valentine’s Day?

One sexy hook-up later, her mind is blown and the secret’s out.

Maverick Monroe.
Bad boy.
The most talented football player in the country.
Just ask him.

Too bad for him Delaney’s sworn off dating athletes forever after her last heartbreak.

But Maverick wants more than one night and refuses to give up on winning Delaney’s heart.
She isn’t one to be fazed by a set of broad shoulders. 

After the semester ends, will the bad boy land the nerd girl or will the secrets they keep from each other separate them forever?



Excerpt:

Prologue

Freshman year

Delaney

Welcome to Magnolia, Mississippi, where locusts are as big as your hand and iced tea comes with a double helping of sugar.

It’s also home to the best damn annual bonfire party at prestigious Waylon University, which is currently happening right now in the middle of a cotton field.

But…

I shouldn’t even be at this party.

It’s mostly for Greeks and jocks and popular people, yet here I am, a mere freshman, hanging out with my bubbly redheaded roommate, Skye.

“See?” she says as we take in the bonfire. “Isn’t this better than watching cat videos on a Saturday night? What do you want to do first?”

I sigh, feeling nervous. Ever since I moved here from North Carolina, I’ve been pushing myself to try new things. Might as well put a crazy college party on that list. “Let’s get a drink.”

She claps and excitedly replies, “Done. Alcohol at two o’clock.” We weave through the crowd, headed in that direction, and eventually we reach the bar, which is really just a long collapsible table someone set up. On top are various bottles of alcohol, and I grab the Fireball to pour shots. I’ve just tossed mine back and set down my cup when a prickling sensation washes over me, giving me goose bumps.

My gaze moves across the crowd, stopping on a tall guy with dark blond hair, broad shoulders, and a cocky smile. Aha. He’s been staring at me, and now that he’s caught, he raises his glass as a half-grin crosses his face.

I blush wildly as I adjust my black cat-eye glasses. I’m not used to such blatant male attention.

Skye—who’s followed the trajectory of my gaze—spits out part of her drink. “Oh my God, do you know who that is?”

“Obviously I should,” I say dryly.

Her mouth flops open. “You really need to get out more.”

My eyes drift back to him but keep moving as if I’m not staring. “So who is Mr. Hottie McParty Pants?”

“If you don’t know him, you don’t deserve to know. But, he’s H-O-T—like Chris Hemsworth hot. I dare you to flirt with him.” She wiggles her eyebrows at me, knowing full well that for some reason, I can’t resist a dare. Normally rather reserved, a dare gives me permission to be someone I’m not.

So does Fireball. I sling back another shot.

“I’ll bring you a donut every day for a week if you flirt with him,” she adds, watching me.

My ears perk up. “The ones with edible glitter?”

She nods, and I toss a quick glance back to him. Our eyes collide again, and a zing of connection fires between us. He has a strong, handsome face and a stance that has masculine written all over it. A smile tips up his full sensuous lips, and—

Two brunettes—twins, no less—approach him, one on either side, and wrap their arms around his waist. He smiles down at them. Oh. Well then.

I turn back to Skye and frown. “Player. Not interested.”

She waves her hands in my face. “He likes you—I saw it on his face.”

I snort. “Probably gas pains. Your dare is not accepted.”

We hear our names being called from the other side of the party and turn to take in the helmet-haired Martha approaching us, which is taking some time due to the fact that she’s wearing stilettos and a slinky halter dress. She carefully picks her way through the crowd, nudging people out of her way—sometimes rudely—as she focuses on us. Great.

“Incoming mean girl,” I mutter under my breath.

Like us, Martha Burrows is a freshman and lives on our floor. Rather full of herself, she announced within a week of meeting us that she’d no longer answer to anything but Muffin, a nickname she’d given herself.

She eyes us both, a look of superiority on her pretty face. “I didn’t know you two were invited to this little shindig. Obviously, I know all the right people, so I’m always invited.” Her gaze zeroes in on my outfit and she rears back. “What on earth are you wearing, Nerd Girl?”

“Clothes.” I stiffen at her name for me as I tug on my fitted Star Wars shirt and the pleated red miniskirt I made from a man’s shirt. My long pale blonde hair is up in curled pigtails, and I went a bit heavy-handed with the shimmery eye shadow and red lipstick. It’s not your typical look for WU—which is anything monogrammed—but I’m learning to ignore the raised eyebrows.

Skye, the peacemaker among us three, clears her throat and nods her head at the guy who’s been staring. “Delaney has an admirer, but she doesn’t know who he is.”

Martha-Muffin follows Skye’s gaze, eyeballing the mystery man over my shoulder. She gives me an exasperated look. “That’s Maverick Monroe, you idiot. He’s the biggest football star in Mississippi and the freshman recruit of the year. Word is, though, girls like you aren’t his type—not at all.” Her hand flicks a stiff honey-colored curl over her shoulder.

My teeth grind together. “Martha, if you think I care what you think about me and whether or not a quasi-famous football player is interested in me, then you are confused.”

Her lips tighten. “It’s Muffin now, and why do you have to use such big words? What does quasi even mean?” is her cutting reply.

Skye’s eyes get as big as saucers, and I assume it’s because Martha-Muffin and I are about to finally have it out. I can’t stand her, and she can’t stand me. We just…clash.

But that isn’t what has Skye in such a titter.

She points over my shoulder, and I get it.

It’s the person standing behind me, the one I can’t see. I feel a nervous sneeze coming on and—thank God—I somehow push it down.

A husky voice reaches my ears. “Quasi means seemingly or supposedly. What she means is I’m probably not a famous football player but rather one that’s been highly touted but is without merit.”

Oh, shit. The voice is rich and smooth with just enough southern drawl to make a girl swoon. He also sounds halfway intelligent.

I turn around slowly. Mr. Tall, Blond, and Football is right in front of me wearing a cocky smile.

How in the hell did he get over here so fast?

You know that moment when everything stops and the next breath you take is the first one of the rest of your life? That’s what it feels like as Maverick Monroe stares at me with his piercing blue eyes.

I glance down and take in the sculpted chest and hard biceps.

I look back up and see a chiseled jawline that’s defined and lined with a slight scruff. I see the thin pink scar that slices through his left eyebrow, and it does nothing to detract from his appeal.

He’s perfection.

He’s air.

Which I desperately need right now, because I can’t breathe.

He smirks, as if reading my mind, and I scramble to pull myself together. Someone calls his name—it’s a girl’s voice, probably one of those twins—but he doesn’t budge.

His eyes rove over my skirt, glasses, and lips. “The question is…do you even know what makes a good football player?”

“Nice hands?”

His lips twitch. “Hardly.”

“A tight end?” I smirk, feeling sassy…which is weird. I don’t know who I am right now, but it’s like my mouth has a life of its own, saying things I normally wouldn’t.

Martha-Muffin chokes on her drink at my remark and Skye watches me with glee, clearly excited that I have the attention of someone who is apparently very important at Waylon.

I put my hand on my hip. “The question is…why do I need to know?”

“You don’t. All you need to know is I’m the best.”

I suck in a little breath at his arrogance.

A guy walks past us and claps him on the shoulder. “Badass game last week, Mav. Rock on.”

“Thanks, man.” Maverick acknowledges the compliment and lifts his chin, his eyes never straying from mine.

“What position do you play?” I ask. “Quarterback?”

He smirks. “Middle linebacker—defense.”

“Sounds fancy.”

He laughs.

Skye, who’s been eavesdropping unabashedly, sighs with a dreamy expression on her face. “His stats are the best in the country.” She clears her throat. “I-I only know that because my brother is a huge fan, I swear.”

“Hi, Maverick,” Martha-Muffin says as she edges closer to him, nudging me out of the way with her sharp shoulders. “Remember me?”

He focuses on her. “No.”

She glowers. “I was in your dorm room with your roommate last week. You said hello to me.”

He shrugs. “A lot of girls come through. I can’t remember them all.”

Oh. My. God. He is arrogant, but I like how he just shut her down.

Martha-Muffin’s face reddens and she mutters something under her breath, flips around, and flounces off. Good riddance.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see Skye is drifting away too, giving me a thumbs-up.

Whatever. I am not going to flirt with this guy…am I?

He’s definitely got something about him, something that makes my body buzz. I tilt my chin up, taking in how tall he is. He has to be at least six-four.

His gaze drifts over my face. “You know there’s a legend here at Waylon about our famous bonfire party?”

“Oh?”

He smiles, a flash of white on his handsome face. “Legend says the first person you kiss at the party is the one you’ll never forget. It might be years later, and still their face is the one you dream about.”

“Sounds like hocus-pocus.”

He lifts that mesmerizing left eyebrow. “I like to believe in legends—after all, I am one.”

I smirk. “Probably a game made up by some frat-boy-slash-jock wanting to kiss all the girls.”

He pauses for a moment as if thinking, and then he steps in closer, so close that I can see the varying shades of blue around his pupils. “May I?”

My heart does somersaults.

“May you what?” I ask, my voice low, but I know what he wants. My body is already leaning toward him, wanting it too.

“This.” He kisses me, an almost imperceptible touch as he brushes his full lips against mine. The contact of our mouths is electric, sparks of fire skating along my skin.

As if from a distance, I hear someone calling his name. It’s a female, and she’s pissed.

It’s one of the twins probably.

And I’m jealous.

But, I don’t look. We pull away, and I stare at him as he stares right back. A stillness settles over the party, although I don’t think anything’s actually changed. The music is still playing. People are still talking. Beers are being passed around.

Yet…

We’re connected.

Two stars in the black velvet sky.

Two ships passing in the night.

Oh, fuck, stop the nonsense, I tell myself.

“What was that?” I ask, my voice breathless.

“That’s your first kiss of the bonfire. Now you’ll never forget me.”

And then, before I can think of a reply, he’s gone.

I watch him go back to the twins, frustration coiling inside of me as I exhale.

It would be two years before I kissed him again.


Download Today or Read FREE in Kindle Unlimited!

Amazon US: 

Amazon Universal: 

Add to Goodreads: 


About the Author:

Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and USA Today best-selling author Ilsa Madden-Mills writes about strong heroines and sexy alpha males that sometimes you just want to slap. She’s best known for her angsty, heartfelt new adult college romances. 

A former high school English teacher, she adores all things Pride and Prejudice; Mr. Darcy is her ultimate hero. 

She’s also addicted to frothy coffee beverages, Vampire Dairies, and any kind of book featuring unicorns and sword-wielding females. 

Join her Unicorn Girls FB group for special excerpts, prizes, and snarky fun!

 

Connect with Ilsa

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorilsamaddenmills/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ilsamaddenmills
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2k6L96J
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2jjRzlD
Website: http://www.ilsamaddenmills.com/


 

RELEASE BLITZ ~ NUDES by Sarah Robinson


The audiobook of NUDES by Sarah Robinson is LIVE!

Title: NUDES

Author: Sarah Robinson

Genre: Contemporary Romance

 

About Nudes:

Praised by number one New York Times best-selling author Lauren Blakely as “Passionate, emotional and uplifting!”, contemporary romance author Sarah Robinson brings listeners a new stand-alone novel set in the glamorous hills of Hollywood and tackling challenging themes like the intersection of sexuality and female empowerment.

Ben Lawson is making a comeback….

After a few tabloid headlines, they think they know me. They don’t know a damn thing. As CEO of a movie production company, I’ll show them who I really am when we hit it big at the box office. My ex thought her smear tactics would ruin me, but I’m unbreakable. Rising from the debris, I swore I’d never let a woman distract me like that again. But then, my leading actress walked on the set and changed everything.

Seductive, sexy, and unapologetic, Aria Rose could break me. I wanted to help her, protect her…love her. Instead, I destroyed her.

Aria Rose is baring it all….

I knew better. I knew not to trust another Hollywood heartthrob with a reputation like his. He was my boss and became my ruin. I should have stayed far away from him. Ben Lawson promised me the world. He even promised me his heart. But he destroyed everything – my heart, my career, us.

If you enjoy Nudes, preorder the next book in the series, Bare, about Aria’s younger sister, coming 2018!



GRAB YOUR COPY TODAY!

AUDIO

 

Other Formats:

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Amazon CA
Barnes & Noble
| iBooks | Kobo | Google Play

Signed Paperback | Universal Links | Goodreads
Author Website

 


Exclusive Excerpt:

PROLOGUE

Aria woke with a jolt, looking around the dark bedroom. As her senses slowly began to adjust, she looked for the source of whatever had disturbed her. Her cell phone vibrated against the surface of her nightstand, the screen lit so brightly it cast a square light onto the ceiling above.

Yawning, Aria grabbed for it. She glanced over at the man in bed next to her, her heart filling with warmth at the sight of his sleeping form.

Finally focusing on her phone, she realized she had dozens of missed texts, calls, and emails.

“What the hell?” she whispered to herself, sitting up.

Aria, are you awake? WAKE UP NOW.

Don’t look at the news. We need to talk. 911.

Is that you on E! News? Did you allow that?

OMG, ARIA! WHAT THE HELL?

What did you do?!?! This is career suicide!

Her heart began to race, panic swarming her every cell as she quickly clicked out on a website link her best friend sent her. A photo popped up, and then another, and another, and another, and Aria knew exactly what she was looking at.

Herself.

Nude.

Aria could barely breathe, trembling as she searched social media and entertainment news sites. The photos were everywhere. She was everywhere. Her breasts, her body, her love life on full display for the world to see.

It would have been bad enough if they’d just been images of her posing, but these were pornographic. These were her in her most intimate moments with a man she’d…

A sob stuck in her throat. Did he do this?

She looked at the man still sleeping beside her, fear gripping her heart.

This couldn’t be happening.


CHAPTER ONE

Two Months Earlier

“Wait until you meet our lead.” The heavyset producer’s eyes glinted with excitement as he spoke. He brought a sandwich up to his lips, taking a bite and continuing around a mouthful of food. “She’s only had small roles up until this film, but she’s up-and-coming. No doubt about it. Aria Rose is poised to take the world by storm come Oscar season.”

Ben didn’t reply, too distracted watching the producer trying to wipe a blob of mayonnaise off his tie. Arthur Atwood was a large man with a messy comb-over and an ill-fitting suit, which must have been a deliberate choice since Ben knew Arthur made a handsome salary.

Is he licking his tie?

His new right-hand man was actually licking mayonnaise off his tie. Not a good sign. Ben made a mental note never to ask Arthur to have a meeting over lunch at his desk again.

“Bugger, it’s in there good,” Arthur muttered in his thick English accent, dropping his tie and slapping his hands on his knees. “All right. Enough of that. Ready for a tour of the studio?”

“Very,” Ben replied, balling up the parchment paper his own sandwich had been wrapped in and tossing it into the wastebasket beneath his desk. He stood, rolling his shoulders and stretching his neck from side to side.

They’d spent the morning touring the corporate offices on the lot of Shepherd Film Studios where Ben would be officially starting in two weeks as the company’s new chief executive officer. He had agreed to come in on Friday to tour everything and meet the crew on their final day of filming—but the pressure was already on.

One of the oldest movie production companies in Hollywood, Shepherd Film Studios was well respected, but struggled to adapt to new changes in the industry—the rise of streaming services, quicker distribution on the internet, and other changes that appealed to younger generations.

Maguire Industries had recently purchased the studio and placed Ben in charge to fix that. He had one year to prove to the board at Maguire that he could turn Shepherd Films back into a thriving production company or they’d dismantle the company and sell it off for profit.

He was Shepherd Films last resort, and thank goodness, too. No one else in Hollywood was desperate enough to throw him a lifeline. Being an embarrassing public spectacle for the last two years had been by far one of the biggest setbacks in his professional life to date—and his personal life was to blame.

Fucking divorce.

“Have you seen any of her movies?” Arthur held the door to the office open for him, and together they headed down the hallways of the main offices. “She’s a bombshell—literally one of the most gorgeous women I’ve ever seen.”

“Aria Rose?” Ben replied, racking his brain for a mental image of the actress. “I’ve seen a few. Very pretty. She’s very talented but never been a lead.”

Scarlet’s Letters is her first starring role, and she’s perfect for it. We can watch the dailies from today’s filming, and you’ll see what I mean. We were really lucky to score her for this film.”

Ben had wondered about that, too. Aria wasn’t necessarily A-list, but she was an up-and-coming fan favorite among millennial and younger generations. Her social media attention was nonstop, and there was an almost cult following to her that had made Hollywood execs begin to take notice. Yet, he’d seen the budget this morning. She was being vastly underpaid for this film, and he wasn’t sure why.

They passed the guards at the front desk of the main offices and stepped out into the sun. “How did your team manage to sign her?” Ben asked.

“Sheer luck, I’d gather. She was following the script around—or so I heard. Determined to be part of it, though I can’t say why exactly. The script is great—historical World War II romance with a Hester Prynne theme—and we’re already getting some Oscar buzz from it. Still, it’s a long shot, and it’s nothing like her previous films.”

Ben pulled a pair of sunglasses from his suit pocket and placed them over his eyes. The bright Los Angeles sun was beating down on them as they climbed onto a golf cart to traverse the large lot to the studios. “Sounds like we’re the lucky ones, then.”

“You’ve got that right,” Arthur agreed, taking the driver’s seat since Ben was still mostly unfamiliar with the area.

A few minutes later, their golf cart pulled up outside a large warehouse-type building that read STUDIO E in large black letters across the top. Ben climbed out and followed Arthur to a small door off to the side, a red light lit above the door.

Arthur pointed to the light. “That means they’re filming, so not a peep.” He placed a finger to his mouth, indicating they needed to be quiet.

Ben nodded, and they entered the building only to be immediately shrouded in darkness. It might be his first day at Shepherd Films, but Ben was no stranger to movie sets and felt immediately at ease as they carefully made their way over to where the camera crew was.

Ben’s father, Roger Lawson, was a highly sought after cameraman who’d taken a career most people overlooked and became the best. He’d taught Ben to do the same—excel in everything by putting his whole heart into every project, no matter how small or large. As a young boy, he’d spent many a summer day with his father at work, learning the business of not only filming, but creating movies, in general.

Newly thirty years old, Ben had spent the last decade putting his father’s words into practice, rising through the ranks to become one of the hottest names in film production. He only wished his father was still alive to see his ascent, or at least, he had wished that until his ex-wife smeared his name through the tabloids during their divorce.

Never fall in love with an actress. The one rule his father had told him before he died that Ben had ignored. Lesson learned.

“Am I to be punished for helping a fellow human being?” A strong female voice broke through the silence around them.

Ben stepped around a crowd of onlookers to see the set. Behind him was an entire crew, and not a single dry eye. The emotion on everyone’s face surprised him. Following their attention to the main set, he saw the set was a bedroom. Sitting on the edge of the bed was a tall, broad-shouldered man with his head in his hands, wearing a soldier’s uniform from the 1940’s.

In front of the downtrodden soldier was a statuesque blonde, her hair flowing down her back in one long, chunky braid. Pieces of her golden mane escaped the braid, framing her face and highlighting her soft, pink cheeks. Pale blue-gray eyes brimmed with tears as she folded her hands over her heart.

“I won’t lie, James,” she continued, her voice softer now. “I can’t.”

The soldier suddenly stood, gripping the woman by her upper arms. “You have to lie, Anna. Your life is at stake—my life, our life. You’ll be imprisoned, and everything we’ve dreamt of will be over.”

She steeled herself, her jaw tightening. “If this is real…if our love is real…then we’ll survive this. Without the lies, the tricks, the falsehoods. We can survive this, James.”

Ben felt a swelling in his chest, a lump in his throat. He wasn’t even sure what the storyline was about, and yet, he was captivated by the woman in front of the cameras. Her presence was powerful…she was powerful.

“No, Anna.” He dropped her arms and stepped back, a look of disgust on his face. “We can’t survive this. Not if you choose their lives over mine…over ours.”

The blonde shook her head slowly, her hand now on her stomach as if she might be sick. “You can’t mean that, James. You can’t make me pick between loving you and my purpose in life.”

“It’s them…or it’s me. Now or never, Anna.”

Ben focused on the actress’s face, expecting to see her acquiesce to the steely-delivered ultimatum. Instead, her chin pushed up and she inhaled deeply. Everything about her posture and stance screamed strength, and yet, in the exact same moment, those blue-gray eyes ached with pain. Ben nearly forgot he was watching actors because her portrayal was so genuine…she was so genuine.

“Goodbye, James.” Her voice was gentle, but resolute.

The soldier’s nostrils flared angrily, before he slowly shook his head. “Goodbye, Anna.” With that, he walked out of the door and left her standing alone in the bedroom.

She waited a moment, staring after him. Her hand slowly lifted to her lips, covering her mouth as a loud sob ripped from her throat. In an excruciating display, her body dipped forward slightly before completely crumpling in on itself. She fell against the edge of the bed, sobbing into its sheets, as the lights on set dimmed.

“Cut!” the director yelled. “Holy fuck. That was amazing, Aria!”

The blond actress pushed up off the bed, smiling and wiping the tears from her cheeks. Everyone in the studio erupted into applause, and Ben joined in. She deserved every second of it after that performance.

A surge of excitement ran through Ben’s body—he could do this. With acting like this, there was no way their movie wouldn’t be a success. There was no way he wouldn’t be able to bring this studio success within the year with a film like this.

“Hey, Russell,” Arthur called out to the director and ushered Ben over to him. “Meet our new studio head, Ben Lawson.”

Ben extended a hand to the grungy looking man with long, curly black hair to his shoulders. “Good to meet you, Russell.”

“Please, call me Russ. I’m Russ Rains, director. I’m sure you’ve heard of me.” He donned a cocky smile. Metal and bracelets around his wrists made a clanking sound as they shook hands—a not too unusual fashion choice in this city.

“I have,” Ben admitted, though he didn’t really like this man’s ego already. It was certainly nothing unusual in Hollywood, and Ben had met the type many a time before. Russell Rains was a legitimately well-known director with several big box office hits under his belt, though it had been many years since his last. “Your work is amazing, Russ.”

“Thank you, Benji,” Russ said with an obnoxious chuckle. “Come on. Let me introduce you to our leads.”

“I’ll meet you back at the office,” Arthur told Ben. “Have fun on set!”

Ben followed Russell onto the bedroom set where the actress he’d been so captivated by was hugging the soldier who’d just broken her heart.

“You were amazing, Travis,” she said to him, pulling back from their embrace to smile at him.

Something inside Ben stirred—irritation, anger? He wasn’t sure, but he didn’t like seeing the man’s arms around the beautiful blonde.

“Sweet pea, come meet our new studio head,” Russ called out to Aria, who visibly bristled at his demand. Ben made a mental note to ask about the director’s dynamic with the actors later. “This here is Benji.”

Ben Lawson,” Ben corrected the director, extending his hand to the woman.

“Aria Rose,” she replied, taking his hand with a gentle squeeze. Her fingers were small and warm around his, and there was something sad about letting go. “Pleased to meet you, Mr. Lawson. This is my co-star, Travis Peters.”

The soldier shook his hand next. “Good to meet you, sir.”

“Please, call me Ben,” he instructed them both. “Travis, you were fantastic. And, Aria, I have to admit that your performance just now was incredible. I was unbelievably moved.”

Her pale pink cheeks darkened as she looked down at her hands. “Thank you.”

“I have no doubt this movie will be phenomenal.”

Russ slapped a hand on Ben’s back. “Hell, yeah. That was our last scene, so we’re officially wrapped.” The director stepped away from them and yelled to the entire crew. “It’s a wrap, fuckers!”

Ben didn’t even cringe at the man’s abrasiveness this time.

The crew clapped and cheered, and everyone was hugging and high-fiving each other. A swarm of people came onto the bedroom set to congratulate Aria, pushing Ben backward as he watched her gracefully accept their praise.

In fact, he couldn’t take his eyes off her, and it only had a little to do with how unbelievably attracted he was to her. As he stepped to the side, he watched how she smiled, laughing and embracing her co-workers. It was captivating. Aria commanded a room, not just when she was acting, but as herself. Her eyes danced and shone as she spoke to the crew and other actors, her smile wide and transformative.

He felt drawn to who she was, not just what he saw, and it was intoxicating. Though, what he saw was certainly breathtaking. Gorgeous wasn’t enough to describe this woman, or the way her long neck dipped into thin shoulders and a deep collarbone. Her breasts pushed against the dark red dress she was wearing that highlighted her hourglass silhouette, and her golden braid hung down over her shoulder with a weight and visible softness he’d never seen before.

Someone bumped Ben’s shoulder as they rushed in her direction, bringing Ben back to reality. What the fuck am I doing? He was barely six months out of a long divorce and had sworn off women entirely for now. And an actress? That was not happening. No way would he repeat his previous mistake twice. Not to mention that he was her boss, essentially, and that it would be a major conflict of interest. That was even assuming she was single and interested in him, which…

Why am I even thinking about this? Ben shook the thought from his head, unsure when the last time was that he’d ever felt this foggy-headed over a woman.

Aria’s laughter peeled through the air just then, melodic and joyous. Ben swallowed hard, shoving his hands in his pockets and heading for the door. He had to get out of there. Now.

He wouldn’t let himself fall for another actress, not even one as beautiful as Aria Rose.


BLP REVIEW ~ Tracy

I really like Sarah Robinson’s books and I was intrigued by the blurb for Nudes, it being a little different from Ms R’s previous stories. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting but it was a good read.

I loved the message behind the story, it’s a very real and sad fact of current life – and not just in Hollywood. 
Ben and Aria had a pretty instant connection regardless of the fact that neither were looking for a relationship having both been recently burned. I liked how they were together but would have enjoyed a more of a build up in their relationship and gods, what is it with crossed wires and lack of communication?!? (that’s a bit of a bug bear with me in stories even though I know it’s necessary at times)

As I said, the story was a good read and one I would recommend but, for me, it was a short read (it only took me a few hours to finish) and I felt there was a little something missing – I can’t quite put my finger on what it is exactly, but a touch more depth would, again for me, have made this a great read! 

I’m giving Nudes 3.75*.




About Sarah Robinson:

Aside from being a Top 10 Barnes & Noble and Amazon Bestseller, Sarah Robinson is a native of the Washington, DC area and has both her Bachelors and Masters Degrees in forensic and clinical psychology. She is newly married to a wonderful man who is just as much of an animal rescue enthusiasts as she is. Together, they own a zoo of rescues including everything from mammals to reptiles to marsupials, as well as volunteering and fostering for multiple animal shelters.

Subscribe to her newsletter at http://www.subscribepage.com/sarahrobinsonnewsletter

Visit the author’s website for more information about Sarah and her books: http://booksbysarahrobinson.net/

 

Connect with Sarah:

Website | Newsletter | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram |


 Enter Sarah’s Giveaway:

Rafflecopter giveaway


 

RELEASE BLITZ ~ Outcast (A Good Guys novel) by Jamie Schlosser

 

Title: OUTCAST
A Good Guys Novel
Author: Jamie Schlosser

 

Genre: New Adult/College Romance
Release Date: March 15, 2018

 
Blurb

KAYLA

My infatuation with Ezra Johnson started how all obsessions begin—with a simple crush. Over the years I silently soaked up every shy smile and random act of kindness, wrestling them away to a secret place in my heart meant for unrequited love.
Because if it wasn’t for the fact that I tutor him once a week, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t even know I exist.
Then I find his sketchbook.
And it changes everything.

EZRA

There are two certainties in my life: I’ve been in love with Kayla Reynolds since I was fourteen, and I can’t have her.
I’ve spent years settling for a two-dimensional fantasy world, capturing her beauty with a pencil and paper. She’s kind, smart, gorgeous…
And she belongs to someone else.
Or so I thought.
An interesting turn of events makes me realize things aren’t always how they appear on the outside, and now I’ve got my chance to be the man she deserves.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been called a loser. The cripple. An outcast.
But maybe—just maybe—this time the good guy won’t finish last.

 
  

 

 
 
Purchase Links
 
AMAZON: US / UK / CA / AU
 
Free in Kindle Unlimited 

 

Excerpt
 
PROLOGUE
Four Years
Ago
 
EZRA
In all my fourteen years, she was the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen.
She was a new student, and from the teacher’s brief announcement I learned she was originally from Cleveland. When Mr. Marks asked her to stand in front of the class and introduce herself, her hands anxiously twisted together as she
quietly let out the name I’d say in my head thousands of times over the next several years.
Kayla Reynolds.
She was a tiny thing in a gray T-shirt, skinny jeans, and Chucks. Skin the color of coffee with a healthy dose of cream, light green eyes, full lips, and her hair was red. Not fiery-red—a deep auburn that reminded me of my favorite kind of
sunset.
The color of the wild ringlets seemed out of place with her caramel skin, and it was like all her features had been put together with a bunch of mismatched pieces.
The unique combination was stunning.
Gorgeous.
I couldn’t stop staring.
Hushed whispers filled the classroom. I wasn’t the only one studying the new girl.
Heyworth, Ohio wasn’t the most diverse town, and Kayla’s distinct characteristics made her stand out like a candle in the dark.
Awkwardly shifting from one foot to the other, she sent a pleading look to our teacher.
“You can take a seat,” he told her, and she shuffled to the empty desk in the front row, just diagonal from me.
Obviously uncomfortable, she quickly glanced around before looking down at her clasped hands.
I felt bad for her.
It was hard enough coming to a new town, but freshman year started two weeks ago. Everyone had already gotten time to get acquainted and, truth be told, most of us had been in the same grade since kindergarten.
And now here she was, unfamiliar and different.
Painfully pretty.
The kind of pretty that made hearts hurt with longing or jealousy. Longing for those who wanted to be with her, and jealousy for the ones who wanted to be her.
Both could bring out a darkness we all had somewhere deep inside.
I was in the former category but instead of letting it bring me down, I felt my heart lift a little. Usually school was hell for me, but the thought of seeing her every day made it a little more bearable.
The buzz around us continued as our peers blatantly discussed the most interesting thing to happen in our grade for a long time. I didn’t hear all of what they said, but caught the words “Carrot Top” and “Chia Pet.”
Why did people have to be such dicks? I should’ve known it wouldn’t take long for them to pounce.
Suddenly, I wanted to tell everyone to stop gawking and mind their own fucking business.
Anne’s blond hair almost smacked me in the face as she whipped her head toward the new girl.
“So, what are you?” Leaning to the right, she giggled as she pulled at a strand of Kayla’s hair. “Like, are you Hispanic or something?”
I narrowed my eyes at the rude girl in front of me.
“Um, I don’t know,” Kayla responded, squirming away from the hand petting her head. “I was adopted.”
“I heard she has two dads,” Abby, Anne’s best friend, whispered loudly from somewhere behind me. “Gay dads.”
Snickering broke out among the class. Kayla’s delicate hands balled into fists until her knuckles turned white.
Fury ignited in my chest. I’d never stood up for anyone before, not even myself. I wasn’t witty in the heat of the moment. I always thought of the best comebacks hours after it would’ve been useful. I didn’t know the first thing about defending someone.
But I couldn’t do nothing.
Just as I started to stand—with zero plan in place—a heavy hand landed on my left thigh and my leg buckled. I dropped back in my seat with a grunt as pain shot through my knee.
“What do you think you’re doing, Slug?” AJ sneered.
I bristled at the awful nickname. Not slug as in slugger, a baseball champ. Slug like the fat, slimy, slow-moving lumps that came out after too much rain.
“Uh—um—”
“Uh—uh—uh,” he mocked with a laugh. Then his tone turned deceptively kind as his hand left my throbbing leg. “Hey, you know what you should do?”
Instead of a response, I gave him a skeptical glare.
There was one word for AJ Nelson: bully. Okay, there were a lot of words for him, but none of them were nice.
“Blush,” he barked out the command, and my cheeks flared against my own will. I knew if I looked in the mirror, I’d see a bright red flush all over my face.
The worst part about being made fun of wasn’t the hit to my self-esteem. It wasn’t feeling unloved or unpopular. It wasn’t even knowing so many of my peers stood by and watched it happen, silent and unwilling to intervene.
It was the humiliation of being put in my place. The degradation of being constantly reminded that my body betrayed me. That I wasn’t in control; they were. And people like AJ took every opportunity to let me know it.
Embarrassed, I dipped my head so no one would see, but it was too late. The new girl had rotated in her seat, looking over her shoulder at me with so much empathy, it only made the heat in my face worse.
She offered a timid, yet brave smile. “Hey, what’s your name?”
“You can call him Slug,” AJ supplied, and she gave him a fierce scowl.
Before I could form a response, a booming voice came from the back of the classroom.
“Yo, Kayla. Come sit next to me.”
I turned to see Gavin, the star linebacker for our football team. Dude was a beast. Freshmen never got put on the varsity team, but the coach had made an exception for the 6’4”, 210-pound giant. He was a nice guy, though. Soft-spoken and polite. He mostly kept to himself, so it was unusual for him to make such an outburst.
Mr. Marks cleared his throat. “That’s not Kayla’s assigned seat, Gavin.”
He gave the teacher a hard stare. “It is now.”
Kayla’s wide eyes bounced back and forth between the two until Mr. Marks waved his hand in permission.
After gathering her books, she trudged to the back row. Gavin gave a gentlemanly bow before pulling out her seat. The frown on her face was replaced with a grin, and a bolt of jealousy shot through me because I couldn’t be the one to protect her.
Even if AJ hadn’t been in my way, I would’ve fumbled over my words. I wasn’t intimidating.
I wasn’t commanding.
I was Ezra Johnson, the cripple.
And that was why a girl like Kayla Reynolds would never be interested in a guy like me.
Her gaze briefly met mine before Gavin snagged her attention away. Tipping his head toward her, he whispered something I couldn’t hear, and she giggled.
“Guess we know who’s getting some from the new girl,” AJ remarked crudely, earning a few laughs.
And there was nothing I could do about it. If I told him to shut up, he’d just remind me how powerless I was.
My chest burned with anger as I opened my brand-new sketchbook to the first page and started to draw.
As Mr. Marks droned on about American history, my pencil moved over the paper. I didn’t need to look at my subject to get the details right; the image of her was etched into my mind.
Her heart-shaped face. The slight upturn of her nose. Plump lips. Corkscrew curls.
After I was satisfied with the rough outline of her beautiful features, I wrote the first of many letters she’d never see.
 
Dear Kayla,
Today is the best and worst day of my life. The best, because I found out love at first sight really does exist. The worst, because I had to watch someone else be your hero.


  

Author Bio
 
 

Jamie Schlosser grew up on a farm in Illinois surrounded by cornfields. Although she no longer lives in the country, her dream is to return to rural living someday. As a stay-at-home mom, she spends most of her days running back and forth between her two wonderful kids and her laptop. She loves her family, iced coffee, and happily-ever-afters.

 
 
 
Author Links
 

CHAPTER REVEAL ~ The Rebound by Winter Renshaw

 

 

The last time I saw Nevada Kane, I was seventeen and he was loading his things into the back of his truck, about to embark on a fourteen-hour drive to the only college that offered him a full ride to play basketball.

I told him I’d wait for him. He promised to do the same.

But life happened. I broke my promise long before he ever broke his. And not because I wanted to.

We never saw each other again …

Until ten years later when Nevada unexpectedly returned to our hometown after an abrupt retirement from his professional basketball career.

Suddenly he was everywhere, always staring through me with that brooding gaze, never returning my smiles or “hellos.”

Over the years, I’d heard that he’d changed. And that despite his multi-million dollar contracts and rampant success, life hadn’t been so kind to him.

He was a widower.

And a single father.

And rumor had it, he’d spent his last ten years trying to forget me, refusing to so much as breathe my name … hating me.

But just like a rebound, he’s back.

And I have to believe everything happens for a reason.

 

Prologue


Yardley Devereaux {Ten Years Ago}

He sent my letter back.
I re-read my words, imagining the way they must have made him feel.
Nevada,
I’m writing because you haven’t been taking my calls or answering my texts. I’m sure you’ve heard the rumors, so I thought you should hear it straight from me…
I’ve broken my promise.
But you should know that I never wanted to hurt you, none of this was planned, and I still love you more than anything I’ve ever loved in this world.
This is something I had to do. And I think if you’ll let me, I can explain in a way that makes sense and doesn’t completely obliterate the beauty of what we had.
Please don’t hate me, Nevada.
Please let me explain.
Please answer your phone.
I love you. So much.
Your dove,
Yardley
The paper is torn at the top, as if he was about to rip it to shreds but changed his mind, and on the back of my letter, in bold, black marker, is a message of his own.
NEVER CONTACT ME AGAIN.

Chapter OneYardley Devereaux, age 16

I don’t belong here.
I realize being the new kid makes people give you a second look, but I don’t think it should give them permission to stare at you like you have a second head growing out of your nose. Or a monstrous zit on your chin. Or a period stain on your pants.
At this point it’s all the same.
Not to mention, I don’t think anyone can prepare you for what it feels like to eat lunch alone, like some social reject.
The smell of burnt tater tots makes my stomach churn, and the milk on my tray expires today. I’m pretty sure the “chicken patty on a bun” they gave me is nothing more than pink slime baked to a rock-hard consistency. I’m unwilling to risk chipping a tooth, so I refuse to try it.
Checking my watch for the millionth time, I calculate approximately 3 1/2 hours left until I can go home and tell my parents what an amazing first day I had. That’s what they want to hear anyway. Dad moved us here from California with the promise that we were going to be richer than sin, whatever that means. But if Missouri is such a gold mine then why doesn’t the rest of the world move here? So far, Lambs Grove looks like the kind of place you’d see in some independent film about a mother trying to solve her son’s murder with the help of a crooked police department, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, JK Simmons, and Frances McDormand.
Okay, I’m probably being dramatic.
But this place is pretty lame. I miss the ocean. I miss the constant sunshine and the steady stream of seventy-five degree days. I miss the swaying palm trees.
I miss my friends.
Forcing your kid to move away from the town they’ve grown up in their entire life—in the middle of their sophomore—year is cruel. I don’t care how rich dad says we’re going to get, I’d have rather stayed in Del Mar, driven a rusting Honda, and paid my own way through a technical college if it had meant we didn’t have to move.
And can we talk about my name for a second? Yardley. Everyone here has normal names. Alyssa. Monica. Taylor. Heather. Courtney. If I have to spell my name for someone one more time I’m going to scream. My mom wanted my name to be special and different because apparently she thinks I’m special and different, but naming your daughter Yardley doesn’t make her special. It just makes it so she’ll never find her name on a souvenir license plate.
I’d go by my middle name if it weren’t equally as bad, but choosing between Yardley and Dove is akin to picking your own poison.
Yardley Dove Devereaux.
My parents are cruel.
I rest my case.
I pop a cold tater tot into my mouth and force myself to chew. I’ll be damned if I’m that girl sitting in third block with a stomach growling so loud it drowns out the teacher. I don’t need more people staring.
Pulling my notebook from my messenger bag, I pretend to focus on homework despite the fact that it’s the first day of spring semester and none of my teachers have assigned anything yet, but it’s better than sitting here staring at the block walls of the cafeteria like some loser.
Pressing my pen into the paper, I begin to write:
Monday, January 7, 2008
This day sucks.
The school sucks.
This town sucks.
These people suck.
After a minute, I toss my pen aside and exhale.
“What about me? Do I suck?” A pastel peach lunch tray plops down beside me followed by a raven-haired boy with eyes like honey and a heartbreaker’s smile. My heart flutters in my chest. He’s gorgeous. And I have no idea why he’s sitting next to me. “Nevada.”
“No. California. I’m from Del Mar,” I say, clearing my throat and sitting up straight.
The boy laughs through his perfectly straight nose.
I can’t take my eyes off his dimpled smirk. He can’t take his eyes off me.
“My name,” he says. “It’s Nevada. Like the state. And you are?”
“New,” I say.
He laughs at me again, eyes rolling. “Obviously. What’s your name?”
My cheeks warm. Apparently, I can’t human today. “Yardley.”
“Yardley from California.” He says my name like he’s trying to memorize it as he studies me. I squirm, wanting to know what he’s thinking and why he’s gazing at me like I’m some kind of magnificent creature and not some circus sideshow new girl freak. “What brings you here?”
He pops one of my tator tots between his full lips, grinning while he chews.
Nevada doesn’t look like the boys where I’m from. He doesn’t sound like them either. He isn’t sun kissed with windswept surfer hair. His features are darker, more mysterious. One look at this tall drink of water and I know he’s wise beyond his years. Mischievous and charismatic but also personable.
He’s … everything.
And he’s everything I never expected to come across in a town like this.
A group of girls at the table behind us gape and gawk, whispering and nudging each other. It occurs to me then that this might be a set-up, that this beautiful boy might be talking to this awkward new girl as a dare.
“Ignore them,” he says when he follows my gaze toward the plastic cheerleader squad sitting a few feet away. “They’re just jealous.”
I lift a brow. “Of what?”
He smirks, laughing at me like I’m supposed to ‘get it.’
“What?” I ask. If this is a joke, I want to be in on it. I refuse to add butt-of-the-joke to the list of reasons why this day can go to hell.
“They’re jealous because they think I’m about to ask you out,” he says, licking his lips. Nevada hasn’t taken his eyes off me since the moment he sat down.
“Should I go inform them that they have absolutely no reason to shoot daggers our way?”
His expression fades. “Why would you say that?”
“Because …” I laugh. “You’re not about to ask me out.”
“I’m not?”
I peel my gaze off of him and glance down at my untouched lunch. “Why are you doing this?”
“Why am I doing what? Talking to you? Trying to get the courage to ask you on a date?”
I glance up, studying his golden gaze and trying to determine if he’s being completely serious right now.
“You’ve never seen me before in your life and then you just … plop down next to me and ask me on a date?” I shake my head before rising. If I have to dump my tray and hide in the bathroom until the bell rings, then so be it.
“Where are you going?”
My lips part. “I … I don’t know. I …”
Nevada reaches for me, wrapping his hand around my wrist in a silent plea for me to stay. “Do you have a boyfriend back in California? Is that what this is about?”
“What? No.” This guy is relentless.
“Then go on a date with me,” he says, rising. “Friday.”
“Why?”
His expression fades. “Why?”
The bell rings. Thank God.
“I was new once. So I get it,” he says, fighting another dimpled smirk. God, I could never get tired of looking at a face like his. “And, uh … I think you’re, like, really fucking hot.”
Biting my lower lip and trying my damnedest to keep a straight face, I decide I won’t be won over that easily. It takes a lot more than a sexy smile, some kind words, and a curious glint in his sunset eyes. If he truly wants me … if this isn’t a joke and he honestly thinks I’m “really fucking hot,” he’s going to have to prove it.
“Bye, Nevada,” I say, gathering my things and disappearing into a crowd of students veering toward two giant trash cans.
I don’t wait for him to respond and I don’t turn around, but I feel him watching me—if that’s even possible. There’s this electric energy pulsing through me from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. I’m not sure if it’s excitement or anticipation or the promise of hope … but I can’t deny that it’s real and it’s there.
Making my way to the second floor of Lambs Grove High, I find my English Lit classroom and settle into a seat in the back.
For the tiniest sliver of a second, I imagine the two of us together. We’re laughing and happy and so in love that it physically hurts—the kind of thing I’ve never had with anyone else.
The tardy bell rings and a few more students shuffle in. My teacher takes roll call before beginning his lecture, but I don’t hear any of it.
I can’t stop thinking about that beautiful boy.


Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author Winter Renshaw is a bona fide daydream believer. She lives somewhere in the middle of the USA and can rarely be seen without her trusty Mead notebook and ultra portable laptop. When she’s not writing, she’s living the American dream with her husband, three kids, and the laziest puggle this side of the Mississippi.

And if you’d like to be the first to know when a new book is coming out, please sign up for her private mailing list here

 

Author Links


 

RELEASE DAY BLITZ ~ St. Helena Getaway by LK Collins

 

 

 
 St. Helena Vineyard Series: St. Helena Getaway
(Kindle Worlds Novella)
by LK Collins

 

 
Release Date: November 15th, 2017
 
Contemporary Romance
 
 
 
 
For Hope Allanis, life has always been filled with regret. The decisions she’d made have put her into bad situation after bad situation. Leading right up to this moment. With the open interstate in front of her, she drives away from the life she once knew. Needing to get away from this place, from this life, and most of all . . . from him. But when her journey on the open road takes Hope to California’s wine country, it feels different. 
 
For the first time in forever, it feels right. 
 
Chase Hayes has searched for the purpose of life for as long as he can remember. Now, with Hope in town and their instant connection, he feels like he might have found it. The problem is, St. Helena is just another stop for Hope along her journey, not her forever, or is it? 
 
Will Hope’s St. Helena getaway lead to the place she can finally settle down and call home, or will it be just another X on the map marked with regret?
 



 


Prologue
 
“Hope!” he yells my name, his desperate words piercing my ears as I slam our front door closed. My blood is boiling in a way it never has before, my emotions all over the place, fighting between anger and rage. Everything I was once so sure of, now all washed away because of one decision he made.
 
Getting into my car, I shut the door and look back at our house. There had been so much promise behind those walls. No, we don’t own it, but we had plans. Plans to one day get married and start a family there.
 
My knuckles are tight around the steering wheel as I remember actually why that dream just died. Betrayal is a nice way to describe it. I grip harder, wanting to take my anger out on something, pretending as if it’ll solve my problems even though I know it won’t. There is not a thing that will solve or fix this. 
 
As I drive away, my eyes keep glancing to the rearview mirror, to the house I just stormed from, to the house I will never step foot in again. He lied to me beautifully and had done it for so long that I think he believed what he was doing was okay. I don’t think he realized it wasn’t okay until I caught him and all the lies came crashing out into the open. 
 
God, I had not been anything but a puppet in his game of life. 
 
Well, not anymore.
 
Anxious to get away from this place, this city, this life . . . from it all, I turn onto the onramp for the interstate and don’t want to ever look back. 
 
My mom’s voice rings in my head, “Please don’t go, Hope.” I should’ve listened to her and never left in the first place. If I had, this never would have happened.
 
It is one of the last things she ever said to me before she had the massive stroke that took her from this world and from me. Her words and panic over my moving away with a man I’d barely known now make so much sense. Had she known how horrible of a man Mitch was and that I’d end up heartbroken? Probably. She also probably stayed silent because she knew I wouldn’t have listened. 
 
Or had she begged me to stay because she had known her time was short? I didn’t know if that was something a person knew or not, but I sometimes wondered if my mother had a feeling deep inside her and that was why she wanted me to stay so badly. 
 
Regardless, nothing is going to bring her back, and nothing is going to change what Mitch did. 
 
My cell phone rings, and when I glance down to see his name and deceitful face across the screen, I roll my window down and impulsively toss the phone out. It bounces against the pavement of the highway. Belatedly, I glance to my mirrors, worried about a car having to swerve to avoid flying projectiles. Thankfully, since it’s so late, there aren’t any other cars around. 
 
Pressing harder on the pedal, I wish I could go home. I wish I could crawl into my mother’s arms, but I can’t. My current destination is unknown, and even with the fear of having nowhere to go, the farther away I get from Portland, the better I feel. Ever since moving there to be with Mitch, something inside me hadn’t felt right. 
 
God, what I’d do to feel right in my own skin again.
 
I should’ve listened not only to my mom but also to that feeling deep in the pit of my stomach. If I had, maybe then I wouldn’t be in the pain I am now.


LK Collins is the naughty alter ego for the husband-and-wife duo behind multiple bestselling and international bestselling novels. This real-life couple is downright dirty in the bedroom, which bleeds through the pages of their steaming hot stories. While LK writes the books, Mr. Collins, the tattooed god himself, is the mastermind behind so much of the page-turning sexiness. 
 
If you are looking for a scorching read with chemistry so intense it jumps off the pages, then an LK novel is for you. From standalones to series, their stories will have you blushing and panting, ready to reread them the moment you’ve finished. The heroes are alpha, demanding, filthy-talking men that will do anything for their girl…or to get them.
 
Instagram: @authorlkcollins
Reading Group: http://bit.ly/2iGFcyR
 


Check out The Prezident’s Graphics Company
 
 
 

 

RELEASE DAY BLITZ ~ Kavanagh Christmas by Sarah Robinson


Today we have the release day blitz of Kavanagh Christmas by Sarah Robinson!

Check out the release day festivities and grab your copy today!!

 

 

Title: Kavanagh Christmas
Author: Sarah Robinson


Genre: Contemporary Romance

 

About Kavanagh Christmas:

The heartfelt holiday conclusion to the Kavanagh Legends family saga revisits all the couples that readers have fallen in love with throughout the series. An angsty and loving Christmas novella, it’s the perfect goodbye to these Irish MMA fighters and a glimpse into what the future holds for them.
With the Christmas season fast approaching, the entire Kavanagh family is feeling anything but the holiday spirit. Commitments are questioned, relationships are tense, and bickering is nonstop.
However, when a crisis strikes and the family realizes that they might lose one of their own, they’ll come together to remember the reason for the season is first, and foremost, love and family.



With their own heartwarming HEAs, Sarah Robinson’s Kavanagh
Legends novels can be read together or separately:
BREAKING A LEGEND
SAVING A LEGEND
BECOMING A LEGEND
CHASING A LEGEND
KAVANAGH CHRISTMAS

“Fans of Lori Foster’s SBC Fighters series will love the MMA atmosphere of [Sarah] Robinson’s Legends.”—Library Journal
 
“This endearing story showcases Keira and Quinn’s easy banter, familiar warmth, and unquenchable heat.” – Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review, on Chasing a Legend
 
“One of my favorite MMA books to date.”—#1 New York Times bestselling author Rachel Van Dyken, on Breaking a Legend
 
“Those Kavanaghs really know how to make a girl swoon.”—New York Times bestselling author Katy Evans
 
“Saving a Legend is a gripping and sexy MMA romance with characters you’ll be rooting for long after you finish reading. Buckle your seatbelts and get ready for one amazing and hot story from Sarah Robinson.”—New York Times bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills, on Saving a Legend
 
“Raw, sexy, and romantic, Becoming a Legend is another perfect, steamy read about the heartwarming Kavanaghs.”—Kate Meader, author of the Hot in Chicago series, on Becoming a Legend


 

Get Your Copy Today!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Amazon CA | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play
Other Retailers 


 Catch up on the Series Today:

BREAKING A LEGEND:

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Amazon CA Nook | Kobo | iBooks | Google Play | Books a Million Penguin Random House

SAVING A LEGEND:

Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play | Books a Million | iBooks Penguin Random House

BECOMING A LEGEND:

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Amazon CA iBooks | Books a Million | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play Penguin Random House

CHASING A LEGEND:

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Amazon CA Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo Books a Million | Google Play | Penguin Random House

Read the Free Short Story Set Between Becoming a Legend and Chasing a Legend!



Exclusive Excerpt:

Prologue
Three Weeks Before Christmas

Dee Kavanagh

“You’re kidding, right?” Dee turned away from the stove to look at her husband of forty years. “Not in your health.”
Seamus grumbled something under his breath, putting the piece of bacon he’d been about to eat back on the serving plate. “One piece of bacon with breakfast won’t kill me.”
“Pfft. You’re mad.” She shook her head, and turned back to stirring the scrambled eggs she was making for her grandkids. “Plus, save it for the kids. They’ll be down for breakfast in a minute.”
Her oldest son, Rory, was away on a romantic weekend trip with his wife, Clare, leaving their two children, Murphy and Brontë, under the care of Seamus and Dee. Dee was, of course, thrilled. There was nothing she loved more than being a mother, and now a grandmother. She would spend all day every day with her grandkids if she could, and her heart was filled to overflowing to have so many now.
At the reminder, Dee gazed at the photo go her grandchildren in a homemade popsicle-stick frame on her kitchen countertop that Murphy had made for her. The photo inside was silly and sweet—all five grandchildren making funny faces at the camera. Well, four of the five. Shea was in the back looking stoically at the camera, which wasn’t unusual for the teenager with special needs. Shea was Kieran’s wife, Fiona’s, biological sister, and when their mother passed away, Fiona and Kieran had adopted her.
Dee didn’t care one bit that they weren’t related by blood. Being loved and part of their family didn’t have a DNA requirement, and that was something she’d raised all her boys to know.
Next to Shea in the photo was Rory and Clare’s two children, Murphy and Brontë. Murphy was crossing his eyes and Brontë was sticking her tongue out, laughing. Gavin was on the floor in front of them, his little arm around Ava’s shoulder as they both made faces at the camera. Gavin was Kieran and Fiona’s son, and the youngest of the entire group. Ava was Jimmy’s girlfriend Sophie’s daughter from a previous relationship, and had been embraced by the family when Sophie and Jimmy began dating.
“Have you checked your sugar yet?” Dee asked, plating the scrambled eggs and adding a serving spoon before placing it on the kitchen table next to the bacon and biscuits.
“Not yet.” Seamus pulled a blood glucose monitor out of a kitchen drawer and began swabbing his finger with an alcohol wipe. He barely looked up at her, his answers always as succinct as possible. He’d always been brusque, but this was different.
His recent diagnosis of diabetes had thrown them a major curveball, and completely changed their lives. It was a struggle, however, because the man loved his carbs and sugar. Changing sixty years of unhealthy eating habits had caused a lot of friction between them.
Wiping her hands off on a towel, Dee approached her husband’s side and watched as he pricked his finger and dabbed a drop of blood onto a testing strip.
“See? Healthy as all hell.” He turned the monitor towards her when it displayed his results, which thankfully were in a great range. “You worry too much.”
“I know. I can’t help it.” Dee sighed, and glanced toward the hallway to make sure the kids weren’t about to walk in. Returning her gaze to her husband, she placed a hand on his upper arm. “Seamus?”
He grunted. Forty years and he couldn’t even respond with a word?
“Next month is our anniversary.” She blinked quickly, taming the tears that wanted to flow. “I was thinking maybe we book ourselves a trip. Or a cruise. Get away and celebrate.”
He shrugged and then began putting away his supplies. “Fine.”
That’s it. “Damn it, Seamus!”
“What?” He turned bewildered eyes to her. “What’s wrong?”
“You, that’s what. You’re being a fecking asshole. I know that I’m being strict with this new diet, but the doctor said you’d die. You were nearly in a coma, Seamus. Your sugar was hundreds above where it should have been. Do you know what that was like for me?” Her voice was cracking, full of emotion as anger and heartbreak surged through her heavily Irish accented words. “I’ve spent more of my life as your wife than I ever was anything else. Losing you…shite. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t wake up every morning and not have you next to me. I—”
“Dee…” Seamus reached out and grabbed her hand, pulling her to his chest and wrapping her in a hug. “Feck. I’m sorry. You know I don’t mean it. I’m a grumpy old bastard.”
“Such a bastard,” she mumbled into his shirt, sniffling, twisting her fingers in the fabric.
He chuckled, kissing the top of her head. “I know you’re just trying to keep me healthy. I’m trying, too. It’s hard, but I’m trying. I’d never do anything to shorten my time with you on this earth.”
Dee felt her heart soften again, the tension of their recent fiction sliding away. After almost forty years together, fighting was nothing new for them. In fact, it was one of the things they did best. He was an asshole, and she had known that the day they met, but he was also a wonderful husband and an even better father and grandfather.
“I love you, Dee.” He kissed her softly, and she felt the same flutter in her heart that he’d made her feel since the first time they’d laid eyes on one another. His voice deepened, developed a huskier lilt. “Maybe once the kids leave, I can show you how much.”
“Sweet talker,” she teased, whacking his arm before turning back to the table.
“Grandad!” Murphy came skipping into kitchen and tossed himself at his grandfather.
Seamus caught him just in time and swung him high above his head as the young boy’s laughter filled the air while he soared in the safety of his grandfather’s arms. “Hey, Murph! Did you sleep all right?”
“Eh.” Murphy shrugged and wiggled his way back down to the floor, turning his affections to Dee this time. “It’s okay. Hi, Nanna!” He squeezed her waist in a hug, his little head pressing into her stomach.
Dee picked him up and covered his cheeks with kisses. “Is my grandbaby hungry? Breakfast is ready!”
“Yes! Hey, Nanna, guess how old I’m going to be next week?” Murphy held up both hands, one with all his fingers up, and the other with only one. “Guess!”
“Hmmm.” She placed a finger on her chin. “I think twenty-seven, right?”
“No!” His laughter peeled out of him, warming her heart. “Guess again!”
“Thirteen?”
“Nope!” Murphy sat at the kitchen table, kicking his feet back and forth underneath him.
His little sister, Brontë, toddled into the kitchen, still holding her favorite blanket, her thumb shoved in her mouth.
“Hey, baby girl, do you know how old your brother will be next week?” Dee scooped up the young girl and kissed her.
“Six!” She burst out, her wet thumb popping from her mouth.
“Is that right? Six? I can’t believe it!” Dee feigned as Murphy vigorously nodded his head in agreement.
Dee sat Brontë in a booster seat at the table and filled both of their plates with eggs and bacon. A mournful expression crept over Seamus’ face as he stared at his bowl of oatmeal and pushed around the apple slices on top with his spoon.
Murphy held up both hands, six fingers raised. “Six, Nanna! Mama says I’m getting too big. She cries when I say that.”
Dee chuckled. “Well, mamas wish their kids stayed kids forever. We get sad thinking about them growing up.”
“Are your kids growed up?” Murphy asked, spooning a large bite of scrambled eggs into his mouth.
“My first kid is your daddy, baby,” Dee reminded him, sitting at the table between her grandkids.
“Oh, right.” Murphy looked deep in thought as he considered what she’d said. “That’s weird.”
Seamus laughed at that one then ruffled Brontë’s hair. She beamed at him, and offered him a piece of bacon which he only pretended to eat with loud, chomping noises that made her giggle. Dee loved watching Seamus with their grandkids—the love between them was so beautiful.
“Did Daddy look like me when he was your kid?” Murphy continued his line of questioning. Actually, his questions never stopped. The boy was a sponge, asking everyone a million questions all day long. She didn’t mind one bit, though.
“His hair was a bit darker, and he was shorter. A little stockier. You’ve got your mother’s height and slim frame. Very lucky, because your mother is beautiful.”
“You’re beautiful, too, Nanna.”
“Thanks, Murph.” She smiled. Kids were a goddamn blessing. “Do you like the eggs? You’ve only eaten one bite.”
He pushed some more around on his plate. “I think I’m not very hungry.”
“You said you were.”
The little boy sighed, his shoulders slumping slightly. “I know. I changed my mind.”
Dee frowned, but squeezed his shoulder. “Are you feeling all right?”
He nodded. “Can I be excused? Grandad said I could play Xbox today!”
Seamus grinned, ignoring the look she shot him.
“Okay, but only for an hour. After that, no more electronics this weekend.”
“Whyyyy?” Murphy began to whine. “Just a little bit!”
“Hey, no whining,” Dee reminded him. “Santa’s coming in three weeks. We’ve got to be good to be on the nice list and get lots of presents.”
That reminder perked him right up. “I’m going to be the nicest boy on the whole list!”
“Good job!” she cheered, making a mental note to finish her Christmas shopping soon.
Murphy was already up and out of his seat, heading for the living room. They’d already made sure Rory set the games up before he left, so that the parental controls were on. For the life of her, Dee couldn’t figure out how to work the blasted machine herself.
Brontë smiled, her mouth full of food. “Nanna, can I have his bacon?”
“That’s my girl.” Seamus laughed, giving Brontë a thumbs-up. “My genes are strong.”
Dee rolled her eyes at her husband. “You can have one more piece, baby girl. Seamus, should I text Clare and tell her Murph isn’t eating?”
“Nah,” he replied. “I’m sure he’s fine. Let them have their romantic weekend in peace.”
“You’re right,” she agreed.
He lifted one brow, eyeing her. “You’re going to text her anyway, aren’t you?”
“Well, she’s a mom. She’ll want to know.” Dee was already pulling out her phone and scrolling to Clare’s name. “I’m sure she won’t mind.”
Seamus chuckled. “I love you, Dee.”
“Love you, too, baby.”
“I love you, both!” Brontë added herself to the conversation.
Dee smiled over her phone at the little girl, her heart overflowing.


BLP REVIEW ~ Tracy

Kavanagh Christmas is a great way to end Sarah Robinson’s Kavangah Legends series.

Love that it’s a holiday read. There’s so much is going on through this books – it’s got happiness, joy, surprises, loads of love – as you’d expect with this family, some upset and a little heartache.

We get to see the family grown and how things are going with each of them.

Definitely make sure you’ve read the rest of the series before picking this one up.

4.5*


About the Author:

Aside from being a Top 10 Barnes & Noble and Amazon Bestseller, Sarah Robinson is a native of the Washington, DC area and has both her Bachelors and Masters Degrees in forensic and clinical psychology. She is newly married to a wonderful man who is just as much of an animal rescue enthusiasts as she is. Together, they own a zoo of rescues including everything from mammals to reptiles to marsupials, as well as volunteering and fostering for multiple animal shelters. Subscribe to her newsletter.

Visit the author’s website for more information about Sarah and her books: 


Connect with Sarah:
 

Website | Newsletter | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


 Enter Sarah’s Giveaway:

 

Rafflecopter giveaway


FNM

Book Reviews and More

BookZone

~book reviews ~ mostly non-fiction ~ true crime & biographies

CJR The Brit

Book Blog

Lady Heather's Reviews

Lover of books, music, and happily ever afters.

The Romance Bibliophile

Book Promotions | Reviews | Proofreading

Didi Oviatt

Author of suspense novels Justice For Belle, Search For Maylee, Aggravated Momentum, and a medley of short stories.

Jacquie Biggar-USA Today Best-selling author

It's All about the Romance 💕💕💕

Chelle's Book Ramblings

Let's talk about books

Madeline's Blog

"I'm on the hunt for who I've not yet become."

N.M. Catalano Writer/Author

Adult Content, 18+ Only

Lisa s Everyday Life

Welcome to my Life. As I turn Everyday into a Holiday -

Ines Johnson

A little magic in your love story...

Ophelia's

Speaking Out on the Unspeakable

BE MY BOOK BOYFRIEND

Fictional characters non-fictional feelings

...Burns Through Her Bookshelf

Voracious reader, book lover, intermittant blogger, audiologist. These things are some of me, but not the sum of me.

Pink Ink

Ten authors, four countries, one blog.

After Dark Book Lovers

END YOUR DAY WITH A GOOD BOOK

Book Loving Pixies

We live to read ~ we love to read!!!!

Love Words & Books Blog

Keep Reading, Keep Dreaming...

Rusty's Reading

A place to spotlight books and authors

Rumpled Sheets Blog

#Rumpled_Sheets

Storytime with John

Pull up and listen...I've got a funny one for ya...

%d bloggers like this: