Title: The Trade Series: Underdogs #2 Author: Kata Čuić
Genre: Contemporary Sports Romance Tropes: Second Chance/Fake Relationship Release Date: May 18, 2023
What’s a woman to do when she’s faced with the impossible decision to give an old flame a second chance?
Shore up her defenses to ward off his charms, of course.
Once upon a time, Merrick Jovanovitch was my everything. I fell fast and hard and forever. Then, I pushed him away. The end.
He’s suddenly back in my life, the newest addition to my fresh-start city’s football team. When I’m blackmailed by a vicious wife of one of Merrick’s teammates to help the team land a reality TV series, I don’t have the option to run from my problems this time. The secret I’ve been keeping from Merrick for three long years needs to stay where it belongs—in the past. With pressure mounting on my unsteady shoulders, I need a release valve to keep juggling all these very fragile plates.
Enter jagoff42. Yeah. That’s…an online handle from a language-learning app.
I know it sounds bananas but hear me out. My internet pen pal is the only man for this job because he’s a third-party bystander with no skin in the game. I don’t have to worry about him getting hurt or spilling my deepest, darkest secrets to anyone. Because we’ve never actually met.
No, I don’t know his real name. No, I don’t know if he’s a creepy old dude. No, I don’t know if he lives in his mother’s basement. He’s only ever told me that he’s close. So, yeah. He’s probably creepy.
The only problem with all these brilliant plans? To land the new reality series for the team, Merrick and I have to rekindle our relationship. For the cameras. That’s fine. As long as I remember all of our kisses are for show, I can get through this.
Even though he lights my body up like a five-alarm fire. Even though more and more of our kisses are in private instead of in public. Even though I swore to myself that I’d never give my heart away again.
Merrick can’t be my happily ever after. I walked away the first time for a reason. Right?
Kata Čuić lives in Pittsburgh, PA with her husband and three teens. No one told her life was gonna be this way. She holds a degree in Linguistics with a minor in Religious Studies from the University of Pittsburgh. Her plans of becoming a pediatric neurosurgeon were foiled by OChem 1. Fortunately, she’d been making up stories in her head since the days of her imaginary friend, Choosy. Putting pen to paper, er…fingers to the keyboard…came surprisingly naturally after her aforementioned teens decided it was time for them to cut their respective cords.
Kata writes everything from angst-filled YA series to standalone rom-coms and has been known to dabble in a bit of paranormal on the free stories section of her website. She believes nice guys shouldn’t have to finish last (except in the bedroom where she prefers an alpha between the sheets but a gentleman in the streets), and that the surest way to a woman’s heart is through laughter and food.
I love my job. Bartending is more than just serving drinks to customers at the hottest bar and restaurant in Stewart Grove. It’s the people I work with and those I meet along the way. I know how to have a good time. Just one flirty little grin and the ladies are like putty in my hands. But they know the score: I’m a one and done guy, not looking to ever fall into the trap of love.
Then, a sweet, gorgeous coworker needs help, and I find myself offering up more than I should.
With Cameron Wright temporarily living with me, pretending to be my girlfriend, the lines begin to blur fast. She’s in my space and I suddenly have free rein to hold and kiss her.
Helping her might very well be my downfall.
I keep to myself. Despite working as a server at the popular gourmet burger joint, I make sure my eyes are always ahead, focused on the prize: make enough tips to pay off my debts. When you carry around this much guilt every day, the weight slowly starts to drag you down, but I’m determined. My past will not define me.
Until one day, that past returns and is ready to rekindle our old relationship.
Cocky playboy Kellen McGregor steps up, not only offering a place to stay, but also a way to put space between me and my ex. Problem is, in no time, I find I like being with him.
I just need to remember he’s not the forever kind of guy.
GUSA Today Bestselling Author Lacey Black is a Midwestern girl with a passion for reading, writing, and shopping. She carries her e-reader with her everywhere she goes so she never misses an opportunity to read a few pages. Always looking for a happily ever after, Lacey is passionate about contemporary romance novels and enjoys it further when you mix in a little suspense. She resides in a small town in Illinois with her husband, two children, and three rowdy chickens.
There isn’t anyone in Laurel Bay he hasn’t been able to charm. But charming a baby is a whole different story.
Life has never been better for Jamie Donovan. Always has been. And now that it’s his turn to take charge of the family pub, he truly feels like everything in his life is just the way it’s supposed to be. Or it was until an early morning knock on his door ended with a baby on his doorstep. The man who can normally charm his way out of any situation doesn’t know the first thing about taking care of a baby and running a business. And so he turns to his siblings for help.
And once they tell him their solution, he wishes he’d never asked for help.
Fallon Murphy has always prided herself on being good with people. In all her life, she’s only met one person she hasn’t been able to get along with. Unfortunately, their parents are best friends and avoiding him just wasn’t a choice. When his sister calls stating an emergency, the last thing Fallon expects is to find an abandoned baby – one that belong to Jamie. As much as she’d love nothing more than to see Jamie fail at something, she would never put an innocent child at risk.
They’re rivals. Sworn enemies. And now…roommates. Can one small baby help turn adversaries into lovers? Or maybe even…a family?
Download today on Amazon, Apple Books, Audible, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and Kobo!
Samantha Chase is a New York Times and USA Today bestseller of contemporary romance that’s hotter than sweet, sweeter than hot. She released her debut novel in 2011 and currently has more than seventy titles under her belt – including THE CHRISTMAS COTTAGE which was a Hallmark Christmas movie in 2017! She’s a Disney enthusiast who still happily listens to 80’s rock. When she’s not working on a new story, she spends her time reading romances, playing way too many games of Solitaire on Facebook, wearing a tiara while playing with her sassy pug Maylene…oh, and spending time with her husband of 30 years and their two sons in Wake Forest, North Carolina.
Jewelry heiress Lucienne Peery needs a husband in order to take full control of her company and arranges for a mutually beneficial marriage. When she catches her fiancé in bed with her sister, she demands to marry his older brother instead. And his family agrees to avoid handing over 30% of their own company for breaking the marriage contract.
She only plans to stay married until her control is firmly established. But she does the unthinkable and falls in love with her husband…
When the ruthless and iron-willed Sebastian Lasker is forced to marry a woman fully as scandalous as his embarrassing, disreputable father, he vows revenge. Nobody manipulates him and gets away with it. He’s going to strip her of what she wants from the marriage and get rid of her.
But pride and fortune aren’t the only things at stake as he realizes he can’t let her go…
Contractually Yours is full of a yummy arranged marriage, dislike-to-love, forced proximity, my wife moments, man-grovel and a happy ending.
My ex gives me a once-over and smirks. “Oh, I get it. Looking for a husband.”
I try not to snort. He doesn’t watch the news—thinks it’s boring—and his family apparently hasn’t updated him about my new status. Maybe they disowned him. Wouldn’t that be great?
He continues, “I don’t know why you waste your time like this. Look, I’m happy to let it go if you’ll just see the light and change your mind about our—”
“Don’t hold your breath.” He’s dumber than I thought, bringing up the engagement when I still can’t find enough mind bleach to erase seeing him with my sister.
“There you are,” comes Sebastian’s voice from behind me. “Oh, hello, Preston.”
When he stops next to me, I put my arm around his waist. “What perfect timing.” I smile up at him.
He gives me a mildly curious look, but wraps an arm around my shoulders.
See? This is what you get when you’re with a smart man. He knows the role you’d like him to play without your having to spell it out. The fact that he’s willing to play along without some prior commitment to reciprocate warms my heart. So many people want something first before doing anything for me.
Preston’s brow knits as he takes in the tableau. “You guys are together?”
I triple the wattage of my smile. “Preston, have you met my husband, Sebastian Lasker?”
“What?” His shout rings in the wide-open space. “You can’t marry him!”
“I can’t? Oh, that’s too bad.” I tighten my hold on Sebastian, pressing my side against his. “’Cause I kinda already did.” I extend my left hand, so Preston can see my gorgeous Toi et Moi ring and the wedding band.
Sebastian flashes his as well. Man, we make a great team.
Preston blinks rapidly, his eyes fixed on our hardware. Finally, he jerks his head up, his face blotchy. “Why would you want him when you could have me?”
“Seriously? Are you blind?” I ask.
“I can see well enough to know those diamonds are tiny compared to the one I was going to give you!” He points at my finger.
I drop my gaze to his crotch for a second before lifting it back up. “His is both bigger and better than yours.”
Preston looks like he just got punched in the face by Mike Tyson. Sebastian shakes against me in silent laughter.
“What’s so funny?” Preston snarls.
“You.” Sebastian lets the laugh out. “You’re third-rate comedy, but at least you’re entertaining.” He wipes tears from his eyes.
Preston turns to me. “You bitch! It’s all your fault he’s mocking me!”
Sebastian steps forward, pulling away from my arm around his waist, as the mirth melts from his face. “Watch your tone if you want to keep your teeth. Nobody talks to my wife with disrespect.”
I pat his back a few times, to let him know it isn’t necessary for him to react like this. Part of me is flattered and moved that he’s defending me, but another part feels a bit unworthy of his protection because… Well, I did force him to marry me.
Preston slashes the air with his arm. “She’s my fiancée!”
“She was. You call my wife your fiancée again, and I’ll break your face.”
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Nadia Lee writes sexy, emotional contemporary romance. Born with a love for excellent food, travel and adventure, she has lived in four different countries, kissed stingrays, been bitten by a shark, ridden an elephant and petted tigers.
Currently, she shares a condo overlooking a small river and sakura trees in Japan with her husband and son. When she’s not writing, she can be found reading books by her favorite authors or planning another trip.
“What the fuck, Ashley?” “Trevor. What are you doing here?” “Last I checked, I live here,” I shouted as the burley naked jock before me hastily reached for his pants. He looked like a linebacker. The thought had barely left me before I noticed his shirt. The big W insignia confirmed he was most likely on the Washington football team. While visiting the training camp in Richmond had long been on my bucket list, I now wanted to kick that fucking pail down the road. “I thought you’d be at work.” “Obviously. How long has this been going on?” All thoughts of grabbing my assignment for my IT class were gone. “I was going to tell─” “Trev, we’ve got a call,” Jamie yelled through the door. I turned to notice he’d paused briefly to verify what he was seeing. “When I get here in the morning, I want your stuff gone,” I’d spat.
That painful memory is charred into my brain. The betrayal made worse when Jamie later confirmed her lover was NFL player Martin North. He was 250 pounds of raw muscle. Nosey neighbors confided later he’d been visiting my home for months. I wondered why she wouldn’t have broken it off with me instead of sneaking around with a baller worth millions. Until Jamie’s continued investigation revealed, the player was just that. A married celebrity who was having an affair with my girl.
Since then, he’s left his wife and children, and he and Ashley have been on the local tabloid circuit. I couldn’t turn on the television or open a local magazine without seeing the two of them. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Ashley’s face was plastered on every billboard in town. If she wasn’t modeling jewelry for anyone traveling the interstate to see, she was painted on restaurant murals and large airport advertisements. She was fucking everywhere.
I’m aware I was partially to blame. I dove in headfirst. But there was never a moment I didn’t think both of us were all in. She’d wax poetic about our future, travel, and eventually having kids. But I guess it’s hard to compete with a larger-than-life superstar with a bank account to match.
I hadn’t had many serious relationships prior to Ashley. My plate had been full, beginning my career with the fire department and looking out for my mother. My dad had fought a hard battle with melanoma. They discovered it too late to offer much hope of recovery. Cancer instantly decimated our flawless life. We’d gone from a tight family focused on Sunday dinners and the arrival of Noah’s kids to heartbroken in the blink of an eye.
My mother was tough as nails, but I knew it was a façade. Noah’s wife, Becca, would try to bring the boys over to distract her grief-ridden thoughts, but I imagined the lonely, depressing time between visits was suffocating. Unable to bear the thought of her hurting alone, I decided to move back home, convincing my mother I wanted to save money with plans to pursue my graduate degree. Hell, there’s no faster way to kill your sex life than living with your parents. But I slept better at night, knowing it was the right thing to do. I’ll always treasure that time with my mom.
Caring for her as we mourned my father, we grew even closer. We’d always had a tight relationship, but you don’t truly appreciate your parents until life throws you a curveball. I’d been blessed with a happy, loving cohesive family and knew I’d never settle for anything less if I chose to marry. Moving to Sycamore Mountain would be hard on both of us. In hindsight, it’s clear I was merely mesmerized by Ashley’s physical splendor. Visits with my nephews hadn’t brought out her maternal side. However, like me, I figured she was at a different stage of life. She was focused on her modeling career. I’m not making this mistake twice. Getting caught up with some superficial bitch who’d leave the moment someone with a better reputation or bank account came along.
Lost in my thoughts, I didn’t realize what good time I’d been making. My eyes land on the bright green highway sign. ‘Welcome to Sycamore Mountain.’ Exiting the interstate, I quickly determine this is a one-horse town. As I approach the light at the end of the off-ramp, there’s a lone gas station, and I spot a fast-food restaurant across from a bait and tackle shop. Luckily, according to the GPS, the realtor’s office is only about ten minutes away. Miles of desolate farmland interspersed with clusters of evergreen trees engulf the windows of my vehicle. Occasional picturesque hay bails are dotted amongst the tall grass, but otherwise, the scenic area is enchanting. Unspoiled by the strip malls and housing developments of Hanover. There’s not a billboard in sight. This thought briefly brings a relieved smile to my face until it dawns on me that I probably stand a better chance of meeting a bear in this town than a beautiful woman. I might’ve had a better chance of getting laid living with Mom than here.
As I continue down the road, I stand corrected. There’s at least one female under sixty here. I spot a woman out for a walk with her baby along the grassy edge of the highway. Looking about, it seems an odd place to meander. While wearing yoga pants and a hoodie, I’m surprised at my fixation on her. I’m not usually into MILF’s. I’m in no way ready to settle down with a girl with a kid. But she’s got a fucking phenomenal ass. It’d be a crime not to look. As I grow closer, my eyes are drawn to the face of the child looking back at me. That’s either the ugliest kid on the planet or… Is that a chicken?
Born and raised in Virginia, LM Fox currently lives in a suburb of Richmond with her husband, three kids, and a chocolate lab.
Her pastimes are traveling to new and favorite places, trying new foods, a swoony book with either a good cup of tea or coffee, margaritas on special occasions, and watching her kids participate in a variety of sports.
She has spent the majority of her adult life working in emergency medicine and her books are written in this setting. Her main characters are typically in the medical field, EMS, fire, and/or law enforcement. She enjoys writing angsty, contemporary romance starring headstrong, independent heroines you can’t help but love and the hot alpha men who fall hard for them.
GEM: A PRIVATELY-FUNDED ORGANIZATION OPERATING INDEPENDENTLY IN THE SEARCH FOR—AND THE RESCUE AND RECOVERY OF—MISSING AND EXPLOITED CHILDREN. ALTHOUGH, AT TIMES WORKING IN CONJUNCTION WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT, GEM AIMS TO ENSURE THE VICTIMS RECEIVE JUSTICE…BY WHATEVER MEANS NECESSARY. ____
GEM Operator Opal; multifaceted, versatile, a chameleon.
She hides in plain sight, adapts, and infiltrates.
When Opal goes undercover in a youth center several teenagers have disappeared from, she’s shocked to find a ghost of her own traumatic past at the helm. However, her worry for the missing kids is greater than her concern being recognized and she risks her own safety to discover the truth.
To complicate matters, a familiar FBI agent shows up conducting his own investigation and almost blows the whistle on her. It takes some doing to convince him to join forces with her but as it turns out, they work well together.
In the course of uncovering an organized group of child molesters, they find themselves falling—for each other.
BLP REVIEW – Tracy
I love Freya’s books and I was excited to hear she had a new series coming out.
I think one of the things I liked the most was that while the book still had a small town feel, great well written and rounded characters and an engaging story line (as always!!) the story arc was a bit different from what we’ve read from Ms B before.
Reading about Opal and the other ladies of GEM made my heart hurt. Partly because of the narrative from Freya but also because the things they experienced are things we are aware go on in the world around us…. That blast of reality made me more invested in the read than ever and I had a knot in my chest more than once.
Opal had strength of character and a determination to save others from the same trauma she herself and her friends had lived through. I loved her determination, her focus and – while she had that little streak of what Mitch (and I) probably considered reckless – I totally understood why she did some of the things she did.
Mitch. I really liked him. He felt switched on and aware of what could be going on around him, but as the story passed you felt that his life had worn him down a bit. It took a while for this pair to work out their feelings and it wasn’t without problem, angst or a need by my to knock their heads together at least a few times…. He was juggling work and home life, dealing with a daughter and a piece of work ex.
Maybe I’ve read Freya so much that I felt sore I knew at least one of the plot lines before it happened but even then I couldn’t wait to see what happened….
There’s some mystery round the ladies ‘boss’. I’m intrigued about who he is, how he knows their history and just what his motives are….
Interesting characters and at least one match up that’s gonna be coming are gonna make for fun reading.
I can’t wait to read more about Pearl and Onyx.
If you’re a reader of Freya’s your gonna enjoy this new series. If you’re new to one of my go-to authors this is a pretty good place to start!!!!!
5 GEM encrusted stars.
USA Today bestselling author Freya Barker loves writing about ordinary people with extraordinary stories.
With forty-plus books already published, she continues to create characters who are perhaps less than perfect, each struggling to find their own slice of happy.
Recipient of the ReadFREE.ly 2019 Best Book We’ve Read All Year Award for “Covering Ollie, the 2015 RomCon “Reader’s Choice” Award for Best First Book, “Slim To None”, Finalist for the 2017 Kindle Book Award with “From Dust”, and Finalist for the 2020 Kindle Book Award with “When Hope Ends”, Freya spins story after story with an endless supply of bruised and dented characters, vying for attention!
Carrie Ann Ryan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary, paranormal, and young adult romance. Her works include the Montgomery Ink, Talon Pack, Promise Me, and Elements of Five series, which have sold millions of books worldwide. She’s the winner of a RT Book of the Year and a Prism Award in her genres. She started writing while in graduate school for her advanced degree in chemistry and hasn’t stopped since. Carrie Ann has written over one hundred novels and novellas with more in the works. When she’s not losing herself in her emotional and action-packed worlds, she’s reading as much as she can while wrangling her clowder of cats who have more followers than she does.
From the New York Times bestselling author of Forever My Girl: The Motion Picture, Heidi McLaughlin takes you to the classic New England Coast for a summertime beach romance that leaves you yearning for love, a boat . . . a cup of clam chowdah!
After graduating from Yale, Caroline Taylor embarks on a summer long vacation in the small beach town of Seaport before she starts her corporate career at Goldman Sachs.
Dune Carter, boat captain at Blue Lobster Adventures, and notorious heartbreaker is all fun and games until he meets the one tourist who turns his head in more ways than one.
Despite her initial resistance to his charms, Caroline finds herself drawn to Dune, and his idyllic life on the island. From the endless sunny days, warm nights, sunset boat cruises, and cobblestone roads—Caroline begins to fall in love with Seaport and the boat captain.
However, turmoil strikes their dreamy island relationship, and Dune must attempt to conquer life off the water in the ways he has always conquered the ocean and show Caroline why he’s worth staying in Seaport.
Small island town / Beachy
Strangers to lovers
City Girl meets small town boat captain
Rags to riches
Stuck up rich girl meets enthusiastic, larger than life boat captain
Heidi McLaughlin is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of The Beaumont Series, The Boys of Summer, and The Archers.
Originally, from the Pacific Northwest, she now lives in picturesque Vermont, with her husband, two daughters, and their three dogs.
In 2012, Heidi turned her passion for reading into a full-fledged literary career, writing over twenty novels, including the acclaimed Forever My Girl.
Heidi’s first novel, Forever My Girl, has been adapted into a motion picture with LD Entertainment and Roadside Attractions, starring Alex Roe and Jessica Rothe, and opened in theaters on January 19, 2018, and is now available on DVD & Digital.
The Problem with Second Chances by Piper Rayne is now live!
For Rylan Greene and me, it was simple. Love only got us so far.
I’ve known him since we were six, long before he became the professional soccer star he is now. We’ve weaved in and out of one another’s lives as rivals, teammates, friends, and lovers. Until three years ago, when my life took a hit and I ran back to my small Alaskan town, Lake Starlight, away from anything or anyone that could hurt me.
He’s never far from my mind, a constant pining ache in my heart, but I’ve convinced myself I’m better off. But now, my best friend announces her engagement and that means Rylan will return home to stand as best man to her fiancé.
He’ll be back in my orbit for three whole weeks… but I can easily keep my distance. Sure, we’ll have to walk arm in arm down the aisle together, he’ll hold me close during the bridal party dance and we’ll stand for pictures next to each other. Nothing I can’t handle.
I’m so naïve though because he’s not in town for more than twenty-four hours before he knocks on my door. I should know by now, that the two of us will never be finished business.
This second chance romance spans sixteen years of a true love match that proves these two will only ever belong to one another.
Download today on Amazon, Apple Books, Audible, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and Kobo!
Piper Rayne is a USA Today Bestselling Author duo who write “heartwarming humor with a side of sizzle” about families, whether that be blood or found. They both have e-readers full of one-clickable books, they’re married to husbands who drive them to drink, and they’re both chauffeurs to their kids. Most of all, they love hot heroes and quirky heroines who make them laugh, and they hope you do, too!