Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Calm After the Storm

Calm after the storm
  The Calm After the Storm by Mya O'Malley Can true love shine through the darkest storm? The storm of the century raged through the northeast, causing destruction and despair, millions were left without power and hope. Weeks later, countless people were still devastated by the destruction of Hurricane Sandy, Emma Riley among them. Determined she didn’t need the help of a man, Emma was convinced that she could brave the aftermath of the storm on her own. That is, until Jake came into her life. After having suffered heartbreak and embarrassment, Jake Mack, a utility foreman, volunteered to travel north from small town, Georgia to assist with the aftermath of the storm. Jake was decidedly done with women. But he didn’t count on meeting Emma or falling in love so quickly. Can he trust this woman or will his past get in the way and ruin the relationship with the one woman he truly loves?

  Excerpt from The Calm After the Storm:
Jake and his crew had now been in the suburbs of New York for a few days. His first thought upon entering this area was his surprise at the devastation. Sure, he had heard about the destruction on the news and had seen footage of the aftermath of Sandy, but it still hadn’t prepared him for the actual sight of Sandy’s rage. Telephone poles were down, trees were snapped in two, and houses were completed destroyed by the storm. Seeing all the destruction only strengthened Jake’s resolve that it had been the right thing to come. He felt proud to be able to help out and be a part of the solution to the horrible aftermath of this disaster. As the day was wrapping up. Jake and Chris met up with some of their crew in the next town to finish one more area before calling it quits. The chill in the air was something that Jake had prepared for, but was not accustomed to. Clutching the new flannel he had purchased right before his trip, he put it on over his thermal shirt. Thankful for his thermos filled with hot coffee, Jake grabbed it but quickly tossed it aside. “Come on, Chris! I asked you to stop drinking my coffee. Now there’s none left,” he said as he shook his head, irritated at his friend. Chris looked up at his boss sheepishly. “Sorry, man. I didn’t sleep well last night. I needed some caffeine.” “Well, that makes two of us.” They rode until they approached the utility pole that needed attention. Jake and Chris were among the first to arrive and got busy setting up for the job. Within minutes, the rest of the assigned crew trickled in. The workers were now familiar with the details and routine of this job, so for the most part they worked in silence, focused on getting this last job done so that they could grab some dinner and hit the sheets. It was cold and dark, the night chill settling in upon them. Jake supervised and helped his crew perform their individual duties as quickly as possible. As they were just about wrapping things up, Jake headed over to Steve, one of the older guys directing traffic. He looked frail and tired. “Hey, Steve. I got this. Why don’t you call it a night, huh? We’ll meet you at the hotel for some dinner.” “Nah, Jake, we’re almost done here. I’m good,” Steve said as he looked up at Jake with glaring dark circles under his eyes. “Steve, go. I’m serious. Get in a hot shower and we’ll meet up for dinner. Boss’ orders. Now go and take Andy with you,” Jake gestured toward another man on the crew who looked like he was ready for bed. Shrugging his shoulders, Steve made his way to one of the smaller utility trucks, calling for his co-worker to join him. Jake took over the responsibility of directing traffic, slowing people down and stopping cars when necessary. Yawning, he waved a small SUV along, noticing that the approaching driver was slowing down, much more than necessary. Jake squinted his eyes to get a better look. The car came to a stop when Jake stepped up to it and its window rolled down. Looking back at Jake was a woman who appeared pretty, even in the diminished light. Wait, scratch that—she was stunning, with long, wavy hair and piercing eyes. His heart faltered just a bit. “Hi. I wanted to thank you guys for all of the hard work that you’ve been doing. We really appreciate you guys coming up here. I think I speak for everyone,” she said as she smiled widely. Her smile hitched his breath ever so slightly. Jake smiled back. This was certainly a change. Since he had been in this area, some people waved, some people smiled, others remained with their eyes straight ahead, but nobody had yet offered any thanks verbally. So different from the Southern hospitality way of life where he grew up, Jake mused. Here it was different, the pace of life was much faster. People always seemed to be in a rush, and they minded their own business for the most part. Sure, being so close to the big city must be nice and the landscape was quite beautiful at times, but he didn’t think this lifestyle was something he could ever get used to. It seemed too stressful, too impersonal. He would be glad to be back home when his job was finished. The woman leaned over and offered Jake a box of donuts, disposable coffee cups, and a box of hot coffee. Jake was impressed. “Thank you, that was very thoughtful!” Jake gushed, thrilled at the idea of hot coffee. He thought he felt warmth spread across his cheeks despite the chill in the air. The woman stared back and smiled at Jake for a minute and then set her eyes on the road ahead. She waved as she pulled away. “Wait!” Jake called out. “Wait, what was your name?” But the words were lost. The mysterious woman with the coffee and donuts was long gone. “Guys!” he called out as his crew worked on cleaning up for the night. “Guys! Our guardian angel just appeared, and she brought coffee!” The coffee and donuts were gladly received, but the idea that someone would go out of their way to show a random act of kindness truly touched Jake. He felt the warm liquid slide down his throat and knew that he would always remember the woman’s thoughtfulness. Who was he kidding? That woman’s beautiful face was what he would most remember. He just wished that he had gotten her name.
   Mya Omalley
Author Mya O'Malley
Mya O’Malley was born and raised in the suburbs of New York City, where she currently lives with her husband, daughter and three step-daughters. The family also consists of two boxers, named Destiny and Dolce, and a ragdoll cat named Colby. Mya earned an undergraduate degree in special education and a graduate degree in reading and literacy. She works as a special education teacher and enjoys making a difference in the lives of her students. Mya’s passion is writing; she has been creating stories and poetry since she was a child. She spends her free time reading just about anything she can get her hands on. She is a romantic at heart and loves to create stories with unforgettable characters. Mya likes to travel and has visited several Caribbean Islands, Mexico, and Costa Rica. She is currently working on her sixth novel.


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  $50 Blast Giveaway
 Enter to win an Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 4/16/15 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by readinglight.com. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 23, 2015

House Divided Blog Tour

House Divided (1)
house divided
House Divided 
 There is a law irrevocably decreed in the state of Alabama that you must choose a team. You're either an Auburn fan or an Alabama Fan. There is no fence sitting or waffling. It’s one or the other. However, it doesn't mean that you can’t fall in love with someone from the opposing side. They even have a name for it ... House Divided. Ellie Eaton and Brady Jackson were just such a couple, but unfortunately they were separated by more than just their loyalty to a university. Against the odds and against the rules, Ellie and Brady dove right into the forbidden current of friendship and then love. Their sweet, innocent romance was one for the storybooks, but old rules and family prejudices ultimately tore them apart, just as they were each ready to depart to their beloved universities, Ellie to Auburn and Brady to Alabama. But years later, when near tragedy strikes, they're brought together again and given a second chance at love, this time with help from some very unlikely sources. House Divided is a sweet romance filled with southern charm, a dash of humor and, for good measure, a pinch of lies and intrigue.


Praise for the Book "House Divided was one of those books that made me want to ignore my children, my to-do list, my need for food, and pretty much anything else that would keep me from reading. Jennifer Peel has a real gift for depicting first love, heartbreak, and hope." "A tender, soft, story that truly is a gem to read." "Ms. Peel has created a story that stands as a tribute to true southern gentility, it's foibles and strengths. Truly a beautiful read that gives heart and meaning to true devotion. She truly knows how to weave a story that has beauty and true southern charm."

~Excerpt~
He kept pace with me nicely and reached for my hand. There were too many people around for me to pull away from him. I wouldn’t embarrass him like that. He grinned at me. He knew me too well. On the elevator, I refused to look at him, but I knew he was looking at me. I could feel it. Before we reached the ground floor, he leaned over. "Ellie, you’re so pretty when you try to ignore me."I was ready to turn and look up at him with my icy glare, but he had the sweetest, sappiest smile on his face and I just couldn’t. I couldn’t help but smile back at the fool, but I did shake my head at him. As we walked off the elevator, he leaned in again. "You’re even prettier when you smile at me."
I lightly elbowed him.
He chuckled.
As soon as we made it to the parking lot and were alone, I tried to let go, but he anticipated. He pulled me to him and wrapped his arms around me.
"Let go of me, Brady Jackson."
"Ellie Eaton, I have no intention of ever letting you go again, and I’ll pick you up and throw you over my shoulder if I have to."
"You would do no such thing."
"That sounds like a challenge, darlin’."
"Don’t you dare, Brady! I’ll scream."
"Even better," he said as he scooped me up without any effort and threw me over his shoulder. He apparently still worked out like an athlete. I could feel his muscles, which kind of made me forget that I was completely furious with him for taking such liberties with me.
"Brady Jackson, put me down! I’m not seventeen anymore and I’m not your girlfriend!""No, you’re definitely not seventeen anymore," he responded salaciously. "The last ten years have done your body good. You filled out quite nicely. And as far as you being my girlfriend, that’s just a technicality I plan on fixing.
"I can’t believe you just said that. Does your momma know you talk like that?"
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Jennifer Peel Headshot
Author Jennifer Peel 
 I'm a Colorado native who currently calls Alabama home. I'm the mother of three amazing children who have grown up way too fast. I enjoy the mountains, vacations at the beach, date night with my husband, late night talks with my kiddos, touring model homes, and pink bubblegum ice cream. I grew up on the Western Slope in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. I learned to love the beauty of the outdoors, but not camping--unless staying overnight at the Marriott counts. I met my husband while living in Denver and then several years later we traded the beauty and majesty of the Colorado Rocky Mountains for the art and culture of Chicago, Illinois. My family and I enjoyed living near this world class city, despite the crazy cold winters, but new adventures awaited in Northern Alabama--just six hours away from Orange Beach, Alabama. These three magical places (the Colorado Rocky Mountains, Chicago, and Orange Beach) are the inspired locations used in several of my books.
Jennifer Peel   25_Amazon_Paypal
$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 4/12/15 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, March 20, 2015

Blog Tour - Losing the Ice by Jennifer Comeaux





Series: Ice #2
Release date: February 23rd 2015
Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:
Courtney and Josh are in love and excited to finally compete as skating partners. When they take the ice for their first competition, they want to show everyone, especially Josh's family, they are the perfect pair. 
But ice is slippery, and one misstep puts all their dreams in jeopardy. Now they must show each other both their love and their partnership are strong enough to survive.

Jewelz Review~
I absolutely love Court & Josh! They went through so much to get together as a couple and as a figure skating pair in the first book Crossing the Ice. I was so excited to read this next installment even though I was worried by the title that Court and Josh were going to be facing more challenges. Boy was I right! Sometimes, life just isn't easy. We always want things to go our way and oftentimes when reading, we want the characters to live a charmed life and for everything to fall into place for them. But that's not reality. 

They have had a lot to overcome as Josh and Court compete together for the first time. Unfortunately, that first competition doesn't go exactly as planned. Add to that the stress Josh faces from his family and Court finds herself having to be strong and push her worries and anxieties aside so she can support Josh. 

But, don't get me wrong, this isn't a sad or depressing book - it's a book where two young people face challenges, but ultimately learn through these challenges how much they love each other. Being in a commited relationship means facing hard times together, not just good times. They learn to rely on each other and to trust each other. In the end, Josh and Court are stronger as is their relationship. I can't wait to read the next book!

honest disclosure~ I received an ebook copy in connection with this blog tour





About the Author
Jennifer Comeaux is a tax accountant by day, writer by night. There aren’t any ice rinks near her home in south Louisiana, but she’s a die-hard figure skating fan and loves to write stories of romance set in the world of competitive skating. 
One of her favorite pastimes is traveling to competitions, where she can experience all the glitz and drama that inspire her writing. Jennifer loves to hear from readers! 
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Friday, March 13, 2015

Blog Tour - Honor by Rachel Rossano


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The Earl of Dentin excels in his position as Securer of the Realm. But the king’s order to pluck an orphaned child from a loving home unsettles Dentin. When a dark-eyed woman challenges his honor regarding the mission, Dentin finds himself unable to justify his actions or get her out of his mind. Something about her lack of fear intrigues him. 

Lady Elsa Reeve attempts to avoid the marriage of convenience her brother and mother demand of her. She understands the need to pay off her brother's massive debt. She only wants her family to consider her wishes in the process. 

As Elsa becomes further entangled in a snare of her brother’s creating, only one man defends her. But can she trust Dentin, her unlikely champion, and his motives? With a murderer on the loose, Elsa’s fate in jeopardy, and a traitor plotting against the king, Dentin finds his priorities shifting in an unexpected direction.

~EXCERPT~

My breath caught as our gazes locked. The whisper of his breath on my cheek and the warmth of his large hand enclosing mine made my heart beat unusually fast. Part of me wanted to look away, turn my face, and break the hold he had on me. But, I couldn’t gather the will to do so.
I enjoyed the sense of security he represented. Despite his reputation for coarseness and caustic responses, he treated me with respect and honor. 
Something many of my other relationships lacked in recent months. After years of being ignored, overlooked, and taken for granted, the sudden sense of being admired and desired was heady. The allure both scared and fascinated me.

Still, I could not linger here for long.
“I need my hand to eat.”
The moment was broken. With a muttered apology, he released my hand and leaned away.
Ignoring the sudden sensation of cold, I filled my spoon. The stew did little to dissipate the sense of loss.



Rachel Rossano lives with her husband and three children in the northeastern part of the United States. Homeschooled through high school, she began writing her early teens. She didn’t become serious about pursuing a career as an author until after she had graduated from college and happily married. Then the children came.
Now she spends her days being a wife, mother, teacher, and household manager. Her evenings and free moments are devoted to her other loves, writing and book cover design. Drawing on a lifelong love of reading and history, she spends hours creating historical feeling fantasy worlds and populating them with characters who live and breathe on the page.


Social Media Links
Newsletter Sign Up – http://eepurl.com/4sbsv


Buy Links:
Barnes & Noble – (Coming)
Smashwords – (Coming)


Book Trailer link: http://youtu.be/0yLAD5dcySg

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Timeless Romance All Regency Collection


Six brand new regency romance novellas by best-selling authors Anna Elliott, Sarah M. Eden, Carla Kelly, Josi S. Kilpack, Annette Lyon, and Heather B. Moore.

In THE WEDDING GIFT: A PRIDE AND PREJUDICE STORY, an enchanting novella by Anna Elliott, the story opens two weeks before Elizabeth Bennet’s wedding to Mr. Darcy. He has given her the perfect wedding gift, and now she must come up with one for him. But what do you give a man who has everything? Elizabeth soon discovers that the gift of love is more important than any one thing.

DREAM OF A GLORIOUS SEASON, a sweet novella by Sarah M. Eden, we meet Elizabeth Gillerford who envies her sister only one thing—that she’s been intended for Julian Broadwood since they were children. The trouble is that Elizabeth is hopelessly in love with Julian too. When Julian discovers that Elizabeth has been denied a Season because her older sister is yet unwed, he undertakes his own stealthy measures to introduce her to society, only to find himself falling in love with her himself.

In THE MENDER, a captivating story by Carla Kelly, Thankful Winnings takes a sea voyage with her cousin on the Ann Alexander, in a last adventure before she settles down to marry one of her beaus. Unexpectedly they come upon the aftermath of a fierce ship battle, and Thankful is commissioned to help in the place of an injured surgeon on one of the Royal Navy ships. Adam Farnsworth, surgeon, has been at sea for years. Tired of war, but devoted to his post, it takes a resourceful lady such as Thankful to give him the hope of love and help heal his own wounds, the ones that show and the ones that don’t.

In BEGIN AGAIN, a charming novella by Josi S. Kilpack, Regina Weathers gives up on marrying for love the day that Ross Martin walks out of her life. Now, fifteen years later, Ross shows up at a ball and thinks he can woo Regina. But she is set on her lonely path and stitched-up heart, no matter the excuse Ross gives for his years of silence and neglect. When Ross insists he wrote many letters during his military years, Regina discovers a secret long-since buried by her father, and the revelation might be enough to thaw the coldness of her heart.

In Annette Lyon’s endearing story, THE AFFAIR AT WILDEMOORE, Mrs. Ellen Stanhope escorts her three daughters to a ball. As her oldest flirts with a beau, Ellen is reminded of her courtship and early years of marriage with Anthony, before tragedy struck with the death of their infant son. The marriage has faded and dulled. Not until she sees Anthony dancing with a woman he courted years before does Ellen realize how much she misses him, still loves him, and yearns for him to yet feel the same way for her.

In the delightful novella, THE DUKE’S BROTHER, by Heather B. Moore, Mr. Gregory Clark is having an awful day, and it only gets worse when he’s ran over by … a woman. Mabel Russell reluctantly visits her sister in London for the Season, even though she’d rather stay in the country cataloging insects and aphids. When she runs into Gregory Clark, quite literally, she’s afraid to show any interest, especially since he’s a member of the dreaded ton. But getting to know Gregory becomes an unexpected delight.
 

Jewelz Review~
I thoroughly enjoy the Timeless Romance Anthology. Each one has been a delightful escape for a few days as I read through each novella. This latest collection is made up of six regency-period novellas. They range from a Pride and Prejudice story that throws a unique twist into the famous story we all know and love, yet maintains an element of authenticity to stand-alone novellas based in regency time yet somehow resonate in modern times too.

I can't really pick a favorite or even a least favorite. Each one told a story that touched my mind or heart in one way or another. If you enjoy Regency period stories - make sure you pick up this wonderful collection.

FYI ~ clean read, no mature language or content
Honest disclosure ~ I received an ebook copy in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Devon's Choice Book Tour

Devon's Choice (1)


devon's choice
Devon's Choice 
 Life holds no surprises for Devon Murphy. Her life consists of keeping tabs on her aging Irish father, working part time at a coffee shop, and building her online graphics design business. Devon’s only tricky situation is a shallow relationship with the pampered and affluent Michael Turner, who sees her as just another woman to conquer. Following his father’s death, Brandon’s only goal is to expand the family business and live life on his own terms. That is, until he walks into the coffee shop one snowy evening and meets the enchanting, red-haired barista behind the counter. But can Devon and Brandon’s attraction for each other be strong enough to help erase their deepest disappointments and renew their faith in God?

 
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Praise for Devon's Choice 
5 Star Review on Amazon “Devon's Choice is an enjoyable Christian Romance. I was hooked from the first chapter. Devon is a strong, independent young woman who is not afraid to stand by her beliefs. The characters are very believable, and the story contains some surprise twists and turns. I would recommend this book to all readers who like Christian Romance. It is an excellent read.” ~ Review by Sharon B. 4 Star Review on Amazon “This book is an enjoyable read. Moving along with Devon and her choices opens oneself to feeling with her the good and bad consequences of those choices. I particularly enjoyed the interaction between Devon and her dad. How she handles herself and all life throws at her makes for a good read.” ~ Review by Robin 5 Star Review on Amazon This is a very emotional story of friendship, relationships and loss. Devon Murphy is a woman with strong morals. She loves and cares for her aging widowed father, works a part time job at a coffee shop with her friend Megan, and is putting her graphics art degree to work building a business. She is dating Michael Turner, who is egotistical, self-centered and treats her like a business deal. Brandon Forrester seems to have the same strong characteristics as Devon, family devotion, business ethics, healthier lifestyle and respecting other people. Devon knows that Michael is wrong for her and when she meets Brandon, they seem to have a connection. This story is about taking a hard look at your life and goals and making plans and changes. About dealing with the loss of a parent and knowing how to move on and putting your faith and trust in God and allowing Him to lead in your life. ~ Review by RedRabbitt 5 Star Review on Amazon I really enjoyed this romance, the characters and their journey. It was very moving, endearing and engaging. I appreciate the writing style, the emotional pull, the way the story unfolds. I love to feel satisfied after reading a book, and this one does just that! Very enjoyable read. Highly recommend! ~ Review by Kimberly

  Catherine Bennett
Author Catherine Bennett 
 I grew up in Ohio where I currently live with my husband and our two rescue Labradors. Some of my favorite things include reading, shopping, pepperoni pizza, Hershey bars and hanging out with my two grown sons. I also love dogs; so going to the dog park is cheap entertainment for my husband and I! Growing up an only child, I had many imaginary friends. I believe this - and a love of books - fueled my desire to write. It was many years later that my dream of becoming a published author came true. I’m grateful to God for always keeping a story in my heart and hope you are blessed and entertained by my book.

~EXCERPT~
     “Hi, Bub.  Is Daddy asleep?”  She peeked down the hallway and saw that his bedroom light was off.  A vociferous, gulping snore tore through the peaceful silence.  Rolling her eyes, she walked through the kitchen and opened the back door.  Bubby carefully picked and sniffed his way to his favorite spot, did his business and quickly came inside.
     After finishing her bedtime ritual in the bathroom, Devon puttered around her room, hanging up clothes and reading a couple of chapters from the romance novel.  Letting go a leisurely yawn, she put the book on the nightstand and scooted herself under the covers.  Bubby curled up in a tight ball at the foot of the bed.
      She began to think of Michael and his childish attitude.  Perhaps, she thought, it would be best if they broke off the relationship.  It didn’t seem to be giving either one of them what they wanted or needed.  His blatant disregard of her dad’s situation was proof of that.  She stared up at the ceiling fan above her bed and felt ashamed of the apologetic way she’d responded to him.  Suddenly she remembered a phrase her mom repeated to her in times when she felt weak in her faith.  “Devy, serving God is like buttoning your blouse.  If you get the first button right, everything else lines up.”  The words seemed to come so easily to her mom that even when the cancer took away her physical strength, her faith in God still remained strong.

     “Mom, please help me get it right,” Devon whispered, as she pulled the blanket to her chin, closed her eyes and drifted into sleep.

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  $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 3/30/15 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Blog Tour & Review - Whispered Lies by Kristen Vayden


Title: Whispered Lies Author: Kristin Vayden Genre: New Adult

Whispered Lies Cover

Synopsis
Atonement is my only salvation. So when the opportunity presented itself, to save her. I did. And the tangled web began…Knowing her, but not letting her know me. Keeping her at arm's length when all I wanted to do was have her in my arms. Protecting her, because I finally fell. And the monster she needed protection from… Was me.
  6881a-add-to-goodreads-button31  




Excerpt

“Why are you avoiding me?” I asked, hating that I sounded so weak and insecure. I risked a glance up, biting my lip as Alder studied me.

He didn’t immediately refute my claim, which basically affirmed that I was right. He <em>was</em> avoiding me.

Fan-freaking-tastic.

Which totally solidified my stalker status.

“Jayne, it’s for the best… okay?” He spoke quietly, his gaze searching my face, landing on my lips. He closed his eyes and turned away slightly. Opening his eyes, he studied the wall.

“Why?”

“Because I’m… I’m the last person… you deserve someone so much…. better, you know? It’s not you. It’s me.” He turned to face me as he spoke.

“Whenever anyone says that, it just makes you feel like they're trying to let you down nicely, you know?” I took a deep breath and stood. “It’s okay. I get it. I just…” I searched his hazel eyes. “…I thought there was something more, and I was wrong. It’s okay.” I tried to smile bravely, but I knew I failed by the expression on his face.

“Jayne, don’t.” His expression was tortured, as if he were fighting an internal civil war, and no matter the side, he would lose.

“It’s okay, Alder. I… I’m sorry I cornered you. It’s just that I felt safe around you… and it’s…” I took a shaky breath as I continued. “…it’s been a long time since I felt that way, you know?” I gave a weak smile as my eyes stung with tears.

“Oh shit, don’t cry, please don’t cry. You… I… Jayne, I’m not worth your tears.” His voice was hoarse as he stood and reached out toward me then pulled back his hand as if reaching for something that would burn him. His Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed forcefully then closed his eyes. “Seriously, Jayne, if you only knew…” He shook his head and then rubbed the back of his neck.

I paused, studying him. “Is… is it because of your past?” I asked tentatively, knowing that I was about to walk on thin, fragile ice.

He froze, and his eyes slowly slid to meet mine. “You could say that,” he whispered. I could see his breathing grow rapid as his gaze locked with mine, his expression full of fear.

“And… you think it would be hard for me to see past it,” I guessed, taking a cautious step forward.

He watched my slow movement with a heavily guarded expression, as if he was terrified. Slowly, he nodded.

I risked another step toward him, watching as his gaze held steady, locked on mine. “Because what you did is unforgiveable?” I murmured.

He nodded once, barely blinking as he watched me take the final step that would bring us toe to toe.

“I see,” I whispered as I tilted my head slightly and inhaled the warm scent coming from his skin, a mix of sweat and raw power. It was intoxicating, alluring and called to me, urging me to be reckless.

I wasn’t the kind of girl to be forward, to chase the guy. Alder had changed all of that. Reaching down, I slowly laced my fingers with his, thankful he had taken off the tape as we left the gym.

His fingers tightened around mine, warming me with the security of his gentle grip.

Heart pounding, I glanced up, studying his expression, memorizing the walnut-and-moss-green highlights of his eyes, the strong line of his jaw.

His gaze traced my face, as if he were studying me just as intently.

“I’m stronger than you think,” I murmured and rose up on my toes as I ran my nose along his lower jaw. His breathing hitched and I sensed his muscles lock down, as if straining against himself, not wanting to move, to either step away or step closer. It was a turning point. I could almost feel the battle being fought within him, and I wasn’t sure which side would win.

So I risked it all, hoping I would turn the tide.

Before I could possibly overthink my actions, I lifted my chin just enough to meet his mouth. Softly, I pressed a gentle kiss to his lips, lingering for a moment. It was as far as I was going to go. Now I waited.

Leaning back slightly, I lifted my gaze to study his expression.

Indecision flickered before the hunger that I had only glimpsed earlier began to burn brightly in his gaze. Immediately, he tugged me close and all but devoured me with his kiss. There was no easing into the passion; it was like the Fourth of July, explosive and beautiful and passionate. His hands released mine and ran up my shoulders till they framed the back of my neck, guiding me to tilt my head so he could deepen the kiss. His lips caressed mine, his teeth playful and ardent as they nipped at my lower lip, teasing me. He darted his tongue along the seam of my lips and tortured me with just a taste of his flavor.

Not wanting to be outdone, I gripped his shoulders and ran my fingers along the hills and valleys of his back, delighting in the raw power he held.

I could feel his heartbeat racing as I pressed into him, wanting to be closer, wanting more.

Wanting to forget everything but him, wanting to lose myself, even if it were just for one moment.

For one night.

“Alder…” I whispered his name as his lips left mine and traveled down my neck, nipping and teasing my skin till he reached my collarbone.

Almost frantically he met my lips once more, seemingly desperate to taste my kiss.

A desperation I felt as well.

Breaking the kiss, I grinned and gently pressed against his chest till his knees hit his chair. His chest rose and fell quickly, same as mine, as I kissed him once, then pushed down on his shoulders, encouraging him to sit down.

Climbing on his lap, it was almost as if I were watching it unfold outside my body. This wasn’t me… I didn’t do things like this…

But here I was, seducing him in a dingy prison-looking office.

Alder didn’t need any further encouragement. Where I had started everything, he was now taking control, and I was thrilled to follow. His hands circled my waist and pulled me tightly against his lap as his lips took mine hostage, demanding and hot. I felt the last reservations fall away. Warm hands gripped my hips till they toyed with the edge of my shirt. His tongue wove around mine, dancing, seducing. Deftly, his hands found skin, caressing my lower back and wandering around to my stomach, climbing higher till they grazed the edge of my bra.

Then, like someone had poured a bucket of ice water over his head, he froze. He carefully ended the kiss and gently pulled my shirt down so it covered me.

Confused, I leaned back to study him.

“Jayne…” His tone was labored.

I waited, barely breathing. My heart thundered with the fear of rejection.

He closed his eyes and leaned his head against the back of the chair as his hands wound around my waist, and he held me as if he were afraid I’d disappear.

Alder would forever be a complete contradiction.

And like a drug, I couldn’t stop needing hit after hit.

His breathing slowed, and he lifted his eyes to meet my gaze.

“Do you have any idea how beautiful you are?”

That wasn’t what I was expecting.

And it was the most romantic, sweet thing any guy had ever said.

A piece of my heart melted, and a smile broke through the fear.

“Honestly… in all the world, I don’t think I’d ever find anyone so beautiful, inside and out.” He shook his head slightly, his expression full of wonder, but a rough edge to his tone gave me a shiver up my spine.

Ignoring it, I shrugged. “You don’t know me <em>that</em> well… yet.” I grinned flirtatiously.

“Actually…” Alder’s expression froze then grew resolute. “…Jayne, I do.”

  Review    
The story of Alder and Jayne is a bit of a tangled web. It's fraught with ghosts and guilt from the past along with half truths and even revenge. The effect of those "whispered lies" cannot be overlooked. But despite how all the odds are against these two having a successful relationship, the impossible appears to become possible. Can Alder's mistakes from he past be truly forgiven? Can Jayne rise above her desire for justice? Is there a power strong enough to not only heal their broken hearts but to bring them to a place where they can move forward together without the shackles they have carried for so long?

Whispered Lies by Kristin Vayden is an amazing addition to the New Adult genre. While Ms Vayden is probably best known for her historical works, her NA books are a real treat. She has a wonderful ability to craft a tale that takes her characters from the pit of despair to a glorious redemption. I love the way she weaves God into these stories. It flows in so naturally and is such an important element that most books today are lacking - it's especially vital when addressing loss/healing which is so common in NA books. Most NA books follow a redemption story arc, but few recognize the very real and essential role of grace in that process.

I can't possibly sing the praises of this book enough. Truly great fiction not only entertains and allows the reader an "escape" from reality, but it also leaves the reader elevated and enlightened, strengthened and motivated, with hope and courage to move forward in her own life's difficulties knowing that she too will overcome.

Honest disclosure - I received a copy to read and review in connection with a blog tour
FYI - mild language, no descriptive intimate scenes, some mature discussion (suicide, rape, drugs, etc. mostly in a counseling type setting)


Author Bio

authorpictureprof Kristin Vayden
Kristin’s inspiration for the romance she writes comes from her tall, dark and handsome husband with killer blue eyes. With five children to chase, she is never at a loss for someone to kiss, something to cook or some mess to clean but she loves every moment of it! She loves to make soap, sauerkraut, sourdough bread and gluten free muffins. Life is full of blessings and she praises God for the blessed and abundant life He’s given her.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Waylaid by Ruth Hartman

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Title: Waylaid Author: Ruth J. Hartman Genre: New Adult

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How does a girl choose between her dream and true love?

synopsis 
 Addy Lafollette has a plan. College. Veterinary school. Then way down the road, marriage and kids. Her plan doesn’t include getting involved with someone before she even leaves for college. But gorgeous Graham throws a glitch in her well thought out life. Graham Stewart is content to float through life working on his uncle’s farm, hanging with friends, and pitching for the local softball team. He’s never had a reason to get serious about much. Until Addy. Life becomes a quest to convince her to stay in town, with him, when all Addy wants is to leave for college to implement her plan. Can Addy find a way to be with Graham without giving up her dreams?    

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waylaid teaser

excerpt

I tensed, not really wanting to hear her answer, so afraid it might not include me. Us.
Addy raised one shoulder in a shrug. “The plan was always to go to college, meet someone there, and get… married after graduation. But you, Mr. Stewart have ruined that.”
“I have?” Something inside me leaped for joy. Did that mean she’d changed her mind about going away to college? Was she not going to leave me after all?
“So… when I go to college…”
She was still going? My heart sank so low I thought it might not stop.
“It will be harder to leave than I… thought.”
I rubbed her back, making slow circles below her shoulder blades. “Addy, going away to college. It’s that important to you?”
“It really is. Is that so hard to understand?”
“I just never saw the point, I guess. I tried a few classes when I got out of high school but didn’t have anything I really wanted to go into. I mainly went to play sports.”
She pulled away just enough to peer up at me. “That’s where we’re different, I guess. There’s this need inside of me to keep learning. Keep growing.”
“Uh-huh.” I wished she’d stop pointing out our differences. My heart only wanted us to be together. Do everything together. Not be apart.
“I’ve just always had this vision of me being a vet, you know? Haven’t you ever wanted something so bad it almost hurt?”
I nodded. You. You’re what I want. The only thing I want. </em>
“So college is the only way to make my dream come true.”
“Which… is coming up soon, right?” My voice had a raspy sound that made me feel too vulnerable.
Addy pulled away and looked at me. “About ten weeks.”
“Wow… that fast?”
“Yeah.” She touched my cheek then ran her finger down the side of my neck, giving me chills.
“So then, you’re upset because…”
She shook her head.
“Addy, you can tell me.”
“I’m upset because…” Her voice lowered to a whisper. I leaned closer to hear. “Graham, I want to leave you.” Fresh tears coursed down her cheeks.
I pulled her close again and tucked her head beneath my chin. “Shh. It’s okay.”
“No it’s not.” The last word came out as a sob.
“It will be. We’ll work it out.”
“What’s to work out?”
I sighed. “I don’t know.” There had to be something. Anything!
“You’re upset too, aren’t you?” Her arms went around my back and she gave a light squeeze.
“Yeah.” I swallowed, the movement bumping her cheek. “I… I don’t want you to… I’m going to miss…”
She gazed up at me, pulled her hands from behind me and placed them on either side of my face. “Graham, I—”
I kissed her, very lightly at first. Then it was like something took hold of me. A desperation. All of my senses were on high alert and I couldn’t get enough of her. She grabbed my shirt front and tugged me down on top of her.
  review
Jewelz Review~
I love reading books by Ruth Hartman - every one is a perfect book to cozy up with for an afternoon read. Waylaid is a sweet romance that brought back so many memories of finishing up high school and starting college. I probably loved it so much because I can relate so well to Addy. She's a girl after my own heart. She has a plan and she's sticking to it - nothing is going to get in the way of her big dreams of going away to college and becoming a veterinarian. It's amazing how when we have these great plans - life kind of gets in the way sometimes. It's when we aren't looking for love that we find it.

Graham is perfect! He's a good ol' country boy who has had his heart broken and isn't in a rush to pursue another serious relationship. But, when he meets Addy he can't help but take notice. Nor can he ignore the connection between them - despite the 3 years separating them. I love how he's always rescuing her - from little things to big ones like Ali. Ooh I really didn't like Ali. But, he gave Graham the opportunity to rescue Addy and be her hero. I'll admit - I melted a little bit.

Waylaid is an adorable YA/NA sweet romance. I love that it's a clean read and not riddled with graphic language or overly intimate scenes that are found in so many books these days. I love a leading man who loves and respects his girl enough to wait for marriage - so rare these days, but still the epitome of chivalry. Thank you Ruth Hartman for this wonderful book!

Honest disclosure~ I received a copy of Waylaid in connection with this blog tour.

Author Bio

ruth_author_pic_small 
 Ruth J. Hartman spends her days herding cats, and her nights spinning sweet romantic tales that make you smile, giggle or laugh out loud. She, her husband, and their three cats, love to spend time curled up in their recliners watching old Cary Grant movies. Well, the cats, Maxwell, Roxy and Remmie, sit in the people's recliners. Not that the cats couldn't get their own furniture. They just choose to shed on someone else's. You know how selfish those little furry creatures can be.   Ruth, a left-handed, cat-herding, Jeep-driving, farmhouse-dwelling romance writer uses her goofy sense of humor as she writes tales of lovable, klutzy women and the men who adore them. Ruth's husband and best friend, Garry, reads her manuscripts, rolls his eyes at her weird story ideas, and loves her in spite of her penchant for insisting all of her books have at least one cat in them. Or twelve. But hey, who's counting?
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