Final Preview of “UnHinged”

This last week has been rather hectic and I’ve had very little time to write. Classes for my Masters degree started this week. As you can imagine, the first few days my focus has been all about that. With homework complete for the week, I’m back in the business of writing and reading and all that good shit.

Since I don’t have a review for you, yet again, I thought I’d complete the preview of my first romance novella with the end of the first chapter. And no worries, I’ll be prepping for the cover release soon too. 

In the meantime, if you haven’t read everything leading to this moment, then please go here first, then here, and finally here

All right! Away we go.

UnHinged © Brigit Rosé

He’d spent half the night tossing and turning with a raging hard-on. All night long a sea-green satin nightgown had danced around in his mind. Luke hadn’t been able to get the image of Ezzie in the doorway of her hotel suite out of his head. God, he hadn’t even been able to stop himself from checking her out. Her long brown hair had shimmered in the light. Bright sapphire-blue eyes had gawked back him. And those beautiful full lips of hers had practically screamed for a kiss. Even if his gaze hadn’t stopped there, at least he’d stopped himself on that front.greennightie

Instead, his eyes had traced their way along her exquisite neckline to her collarbone, then over the swell of her breasts where his gaze lingered for far too long. Had he stared? No, not at all. Maybe a little. What would it feel like to have his hand on one of her breasts? He bet the skin would be smooth. Luke dragged a hand down his face. God, he had to stop thinking about her breasts.

It was bad enough his gaze had continued its journey to her flat stomach, softly rounded hips, and down her long, long legs. By the time he’d gotten to her painted toenails, the elevator doors had opened and snapped him out of his trance. What he wouldn’t give for that damn ding now?

Though he could’ve dealt without the room service guy’s arrival or Ezzie’s sudden disappearance into the room somewhere. True, it had been his only chance to escape her presence. Though her lavender scent had already filled his nostrils and held him hostage, the knowledge of her brother downstairs pulled him out of the room. His only saving grace, he’d ensured the room service guy had left too. He even gave the guy a twenty dollar tip with the promise the guy wouldn’t come back to the room. God, what was wrong with him?

The good news of the day had been his ability to run himself numb this morning. Nate hadn’t been in the room when he’d returned. He’d probably gone to get Ezzie. Probably so she could start packing his stuff. Luke had showered and proceeded across campus to the auditorium. While he had to collect his own cap and gown, theoretically he should be able to get both of theirs. Studying the people at the table, he approached one of the women and charmingly smiled. “Lucas Jonnihan and Nathan Donovan.”

“And you’re which one? Because you can only get your cap and gown.”

“I’m Lucas Jonnihan, but Nathan Donovan is my roommate. I’m sure you can make an exception.” He leaned on the table and flashed the smile again. The girl stared at him like he was stupid. This normally always worked. How could it be possible his smile failed to work its magic. It couldn’t be because of Ezzie? Could it? No. That was crazy.

“Luke, is that you?”

He glanced at the dark-skinned beauty heading his way. Who was she? Mary? Maggie? Had he slept with her? Yes? At least he thought he had. The way she sashayed toward him, he’d have to go with yes. But how long ago? The charming smile returned to his face. He wrapped his arms around her when she came in for the hug. She smelled like… vanilla. Nope, still couldn’t place her. “Hey. How’re you doing?”

“I’m better now. You look great. We should get together before you leave.”

“Yeah. Maybe we can meet up at one of the parties tonight.” Good thing he didn’t intend to go to any of them. Dinner with his parents, Ezzie, Nate, Becca and her parents was enough. Then if he was lucky, Ezzie would go back to her hotel room, so he could hide in his dorm room all night.

She grinned as if accepting the invitation. Turning her attention to the girl at the table, the dark-skinned beauty squeezed Luke’s bicep. “Gina, help out a friend. Go ahead and give him both sets.”

“Sure thing, Maria.” No longer holding the caps and gowns hostage, Gina placed two sets of a cap and gown on the table.

More good news; he had a name for the face. Bad news, he still couldn’t remember sleeping with her. But by the way she’d felt him up, they’d definitely hooked up. Probably sometime before March. He hadn’t been with anyone since Ezzie had shown up to spend her last couple of days of spring break with them. What had that girl done to him? Focus jackass. Luke grabbed the items laid out on the table. “Thanks Maria.”

“Anytime.” She placed a chaste kiss on his lips and sauntered away.

graduationMan he had to get out of here. With the caps and gowns in his arms, he hurried off back to the dorm room. Even if Nate had picked up Ezzie already, at least he wouldn’t be alone with her. Yeah, he’d told the guy he’d watch out for her, but he could keep his word and avoid her at the same time. Especially as Luke was the one person she really needed to be protected from. Being alone with that girl was bad for his health. Hers too. It would be best if he stayed away from her all together, but he couldn’t bail on his best friend like that.

Determined to do the right thing, he opened the door to his and Nate’s room without a second thought. There she stood: the girl running a marathon in his brain.

“Hey.” Ezzie looked up from the box of things she’d started packing.

Damn she looked sexy. Barely-there shorts; small, tight tank top; and that damn tattoo. It mocked him as if it knew something he’d either decided to ignore or simply overlooked. Shit! It had known something. Luke surveyed the room. “Umm, hi. Where’s, uh, where’s Nate?”

“I sent him for some breakfast. Figured it was the least he could do since I’m up after practically no sleep.”

“Oh? Anywhere in particular?” Please say yes. No, wait! Damn it. Please say no. If the guy had run to the cafeteria, no big deal. He’d been back in five, maybe ten minutes. Tops. But if she’d asked for something more specific, it could be a while. Either way, he couldn’t stand in the doorway like an idiot. Luke glimpsed at the open door. Closing the door was a bad idea. Going inside was a bad idea. Swallowing, he tried to relax his nerves and shut the door.

“Yeah, he went to Panera. Told him to get a small pack of bagels and a couple of their soufflés.”

Great. Fucking perfect. Being alone with her much longer was not an option. He gripped the back of his neck and crossed over to his side of the room in three long strides. Hardly glancing in her direction, he dropped the packages on his bed. The best thing he could do was leave. “Can you tell him I got his cap and gown?”

“Sure.” She sighed and faced the box in front of her.

Hanging his head, he stared at the carpet for all of five seconds. That damn sea-green negligee popped into his head. Fuck me. Steeling himself up, Luke turned his head and focused on Ezzie. With her back to him, he could take his time studying her. Her brown locks had been pulled into a sloppy ponytail. The tank top wasn’t anything special and the faded denim shorts had obviously worn over the years. Still she looked perfect. Every inch of her was gorgeous. “Thanks.”

She glanced over her shoulder at him and caught him staring. Shit! Luke focused his eyes elsewhere and rubbed the nape of his neck. Inhaling deeply, her sweet lavender scent filled his nostrils. He had to get out of here. Otherwise he might lose his sanity. Although he had no idea where he would go, he headed for the door.

“You’re leaving?”

“I’ve, uh, got some things to do before, uh, before I pick up my parents.” His answer was a cop out, but he couldn’t really go into detail. Not without revealing way too much about his blatant attraction to her.

“Really? Or are you just avoiding me?”

Luke paused with his hand on the doorknob. Her question called him out on his lie. It even recognized the actions he’d taken when she’d been around in mid March. And she’d be around for the next few days. He’d have to face the music sooner or later. But later had seemed better. The timing was completely off. Plus her brother would be back any second. “I’m not avoiding you.”

“Bullshit.” Ezzie padded across the room and stopped behind him.

Maybe he couldn’t see her, but he could sense how close she stood. Heat spread through his body like wild-fire. He ensured his hard-on couldn’t be spotted, then spun around and faced her. “Will you please let this go?”

“No. You ignored me the last time I was here. I have a right to know what the hell is going on, especially after last night. You tossed my dresses and just disappeared.”

“Ezzie, now is not the time for this conversation. Your brother could come through the door any minute.” He dropped his hands to his waist. Whatever they needed to talk about or not talk about could be interrupted. The last thing he wanted was for her brother to find them in an awkward position. With the way she looked in those tiny-shorts and that way-too-tight-tank top, it could absolutely happen.

She moved closer to him. “All the more reason for me to be sure there will be time to have it.”

“There will. I just, I need you to be a little patient right now.” He could easily reach out, take a firm hold of her and press his lips to hers. One taste wouldn’t be enough. If he tasted those full and pouty lips, he’d want more. They had no time now.

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Courtesy of PictureQuotes.com

Resting one hand on his pectorals, she stepped into his body. His breath quickened. Using her other hand, she caressed the back of his neck and lightly brushed his lips with her own.

The kiss was sweet and innocent, but he hungered for more. His arms locked around her shoulders and his lips crushed hers. Slowly he plied her mouth open with his tongue. The instant his tongue found hers, she moaned. Her sound was pure ecstasy. It got him harder than he’d been before their lips touched. Desire consumed him from the inside out. If he kissed her any longer, he wouldn’t be able to stop himself. Slowly he ended the kiss.

His pressed his forehead against hers. Inhaling deeply, he breathed in the shared air. He could still taste the kiss. Exactly why something had to be done with his mouth and quickly. Some things had to be honestly addressed. Example, their timing could’ve been better. Then again, it would’ve been best if he hadn’t kissed her. And it would be so easy to do again. Space. He had to put some space between them. Otherwise his dick was going to get him in a load of trouble. Luke inched back and caressed her cheek. “I don’t want to avoid you.”

“That’s not you saying you won’t.”

“Shit.” Of course she’d heard the unspoken but. He navigated around her and paced the length of the room. His eyes remained glued to the carpeted floor as he stalked past both beds and stopped at the mini-fridge. Turning around, he faced the door. He lifted his gaze to her and stared into her sapphire-blue eyes. They sparkled with longing and a little bit of frustration.

“Sums it up pretty well if you ask me.”

Hanging his head, he dragged his hand down his face. “I’m sorry, Ezzie. I—”

“Luke, just stop. If you aren’t going to give me any real answers then stop. I don’t want excuses. To think, you know what, never mind.” She snatched her purse off her brother’s nightstand and stormed toward the door.

If he was smart, he’d stay put and let her go. But damn it, he couldn’t stand there and do nothing. She had to understand what was going through his head. Luke grabbed a hold of Ezzie, spun her around and pushed her against the door. Her purse fell from her hands and landed on the floor. Lust flashed into her sapphire-blue eyes and the entire room lit up. Fuck! He couldn’t explain himself when she gawked at him like that. Instead of opening his mouth to say something, he pressed his muscled body into hers and pinned her against the door. The proximity of her mouth was too much. No way he could pass on another taste.

His lips crashed against hers. Wrapping an arm around her waist, he squeezed her low back. Her skin was so warm. Using his other hand, he reached up and loosened her hair. He liked it better flowing around her shoulders. It also gave him range to fist a palm full of it. Her tresses were like the silk nightgown he’d seen her in last night. Arms came around his back and nails dug into his shoulder blades. Everything about Ezzie bloomed beneath his touch.

If he had half a brain, he’d stop this before things went too far. The dorm room was no place for him to take her. Not to mention, the door wasn’t locked and her brother could arrive any minute. He had to walk away. Forcing his body into action, Luke released his hold and left the dorm room.

**End of Preview**

Author: Brigit Rosé

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Another “UnHinged” preview?

Whew! I have been writing like a dog trying to get this novella done. Not only am I eager to share it with you, I can’t wait to show you the cover! And I’m this close to the finish line. I can see it near.

So I have not had the time to read a book and give you lovelies another fun review. However, I WILL have one soon because I’m dying to see how Ren and Galen’s story plays out. Aren’t you?

In the meantime, how about another preview from my upcoming novella UnHinged. Now before I get to it, if you haven’t read the first three scenes, you can check them out here and here.

All caught up? All right then, away we go.

UnHinged © Brigit Rosé

“I’m telling you, he did. Luke hugged me.” Ezzie giggled as her best friend pulled his best nun uh, no way voice. Matt called it his girlfriend voice. It always made her laugh, especially when the face followed. Too bad she couldn’t see him right then; still, she could absolutely imagine the fake jaw-drop with the wide sapphire-blue eyes.

“Okay. Let me stop. Was it before or after your brother?”

She tugged the brush through her hair one last time and set it on the bathroom counter top. With her nightly check list complete, she turned out the light and traipsed into the bedroom. “Before. I even think he sniffed me.”

“Really? Sounds like the odds are favorable.”

“Guess it’s a good thing you got me this room. By the way, thank you for that. It’s really beautiful.” Screw beautiful! The room was awesome! Not only had her best friend managed to swing her a reservation at The Boardwalk Resort, but he’d gone full out and booked her a queen suite. She paraded over to the sliding glass door. The ocean view she had was certainly nothing to complain about. Even at night it was breathtaking.

“Yeah, well … I figured the two of you deserved the whole shah-bang.”

A small snicker escaped. She wouldn’t have used the word shah-bang under any circumstances. But she absolutely understood what he meant. This place was definitely better than the one her parents had originally planned for them to stay at and she certainly wouldn’t have had a suite. “I’m just not entirely sure how I’m going to get him here. From what my brother’s girlfriend says there are supposed to be a lot of parties going on. I can’t pinpoint which one he’s likely to go to.”

“Did you ask Becca?”

“Of course I did, but she wasn’t sure. She only said there were a couple she and Nate intended to hit after dinner.” Hmm, what if she wore the dress to dinner? Would her brother have a heart attack? Hell, Becca’s or Luke’s parents could have a heart attack. No. She needed less of a way to cause a scene.

“Do you think Nate will have asked Luke to help babysit you?”

Ezzie snorted. She loathed the word choice, but Matt was on to something. Her brother would’ve absolutely asked Luke to keep an eye on her. She loved Nate, but the guy was beyond overprotective sometimes. It stood to reason, especially given his reaction to her tattoo, he’d asked his best friend to act as a pseudo-brother. “I’m going with yes.”

“Then I have an idea. After all, you’ve made some friends there. Becca and Nate plan to head off together once dinner is over, right?”

“That’s what she said.” Good thing her brother’s girlfriend adored her. And happened to know part of the truth. Ezzie hadn’t gone out and explained her seduction plan to the girl, but she had mentioned her attraction to Luke. And how it could be mutual. Becca played the friend card and had given her a good dose of reality. But she’d known about Luke’s reputation for a couple of years. So what if he’d been labeled a player. Truthfully, she believed there was more to him than met the eye.

“Okay. Tell them you have plans, but need a ride back to the hotel to change before you meet your girls. Luke takes you and waits to drop you off so he knows where you’re at and who you’re with. You just have to seduce him after you change.”

There was a knock on the front door to the suite. “That could work. Listen, sounds like room service is here. I’ll talk to you later.”

“Let me know how it goes. Ciao.” The line went dead.

Ezzie hung up and set her cell phone on the night stand. She glanced at the silk robes hanging on a couple of wall pegs, yet sauntered into the living room without one. So what if room service got a little bit of a show. Her satin night gown came to her feet. It covered all the important stuff. Without looking out the peephole and confirming her suspicions, she opened the door.

Luke stood on the other side. He had a dress bag in his hand. “You, um, left this in the car.”

“Um, thank you.” Both the skimpy black dress and the dress she planned to wear to the graduation ceremony were in there. In her hurry to get inside the hotel and checked in, she must’ve forgotten it. Though she could’ve collected the bag tomorrow morning, he’d brought it up to her room. Ezzie stared at Luke. Why?

He swallowed and his gaze left her face. Even in jeans and a t-shirt the guy was sexy as hell. Who knew how long he’d been up; still he smelled like fresh clean air. She felt, more than saw, as his eyes traveled the length of her body. Two could certainly play that game. Biting on her bottom lip, she allowed herself a moment to admire how much his body had physically changed in the course of three months. Dark brown hair. Soft chocolate-brown eyes. Thick thighs. Broad, defined shoulders. Plus the strong jaw-line.

Then there was his chest. No fat there. Only pure unadulterated, heart-pounding, muscle. His t-shirt clung to his perfectly-developed six-pack rather well. The elevator doors dinged and must’ve brought him back to reality. Quickly his eyes found hers. As if he’d caught her red-handed, the smallest hint of a smile pulled at the corner of his mouth. Luke cleared his throat and regained his composure. “I thought you might need this and Nate was on the phone with your parents.”

“Um, oh, yeah. Right. I was supposed to call them when I landed. Slipped my mind.” Which was entirely true. She’d called Matt once she’d gotten in the hotel to tell him about the girl she’d met on the plane. And to share all she could about her arrival. Ezzie held her hand out for the bag. Luke looked at her hand as if he had no idea what to do with it.

The room service attendant chose that moment to roll up with her food. “Miss Donavan, your meal as requested. Would you like for me to bring it inside?”

“Yes, please. In the living room, if you don’t mind. Thank you.” She stepped back and held the door open enough for the guy to wheel the cart all the way in. She should probably get the guy a tip, but her purse was in the bedroom. Briefly she peeked at Luke. He’d perched himself just inside the room and watched the room service guy like a predator protecting his own. Interesting. Ezzie slipped into the bedroom and grabbed a five dollar bill from her purse. By the time she’d returned, the guy was gone and her dress bag was draped over the back of the couch. Well, damn.

 

**End of Preview**

Care to share your thoughts? Comments? Snarky remarks? Love it? Hate it? Want more? Tell me below!

Author: Brigit Rosé

Review of “The Cost of Fame”

costoffame
Purchase Here

There are so many wonderful things I have to say about this book! Let me start by saying, I. COULD. NOT. PUT. THIS. DOWN. I had it in my greedy little hands every second until I completely gobbled it up. I even read while I was in a Wendy’s drive-thru. Nevermind the two 1 AM bedtimes because I was dying to know what happened. If I didn’t have to work the next day, you better believe your sweet ass I would’ve finished it in ONE night. If that doesn’t say something, I don’t know what does.

All right, I know, I’m already getting ahead of myself! Let’s get the necessities over with so we can get onto the wants, desires, and needs. 

“One night. One stupid night. That’s all it took to tear Alex’s world apart and rip her heart in two. Thanks to Richard’s plan she believes Colin committed the ultimate betrayal and she can’t imagine ever forgiving him.Ring Synopsis

With Colin out of the way, Richard thinks his path to Alexandra is clear. But when he discovers another man vying for her affection, Richard is forced to up his game. With his obsession out of control, he takes drastic measures leaving Alex no choice. The only way to protect the people she loves is to agree to Richard’s terms and let Colin go forever.

After reluctantly giving her the space she requested, Colin returns home from a movie shoot determined to win Alex back. He won’t stop until she is back in his arms where she belongs. But she isn’t making it easy. Despite her continued attempts to push him away, it’s obvious she still loves him. Something isn’t right. If Colin doesn’t figure it out soon, one of them will pay the ultimate price.

Not all stories have a happy ending. Will Colin and Alex get theirs or will their love be The Cost of Fame?”

spoilersNow, before I say another word, this is your ONE and ONLY warning that spoilers are ahead. I’m also going to forewarn you that I may get a little dark and twisted regarding my emotions over one particular character. Hey, you know how I do, so let’s hop on this train and see where the fire takes us!

If you haven’t read the first book, “The Rise to Fame,” here is your chance to go grab it. That should be incentive enough, but if you’re still a little skeptical, check out my review here and take a dive into Colin and Alex’s world.  myreview

“The Cost of Fame” picks up right where “The Rise to Fame” left off. Colin and Alex are heading for splits-ville because the prick Richard spiked Colin’s drink and it appears as if Colin cheated on Alex. And the shit-storm only gets worse and made me LOATHE Richard even more than I did in the first book. Mother-fucker!

Getting ahead of myself again. Where was I? Oh yes, so, Alex first goes to her parents and after a confrontation with them realizes that won’t work. All she wants is to get away. She shoots for option number two. A hotel, but the frigging paparazzi won’t leave her alone. It’s at that hotel that she just so happens to run into Richard, who acts all Prince-fake-fucking-charming and shit, and says, “‘Take my car. Go here and tell them I sent you. They’ll take care of you. You won’t have to worry about any paparazzi there.’”

Richard BURN-TO-THE-GROUNDYeah, right! Like he’s turned over a new stone and suddenly become this caring dude. Asshole. He even proves how unchanged he is when he tries AGAIN to assault Alex! Thank the Lord, Donovan comes to her rescue.

Did I mention this book has another hottie beside Colin? Oh wait? I bet you read the blurb, but I have the low-down. Yes, Donovan and Alex do appear as a couple. Yes, Alex does move in with Donovan. And yes, they do technically have sex. HOWEVER, deep down Alex and, the yummy-hunk with a British accent, Donovan are friends. Close friends. And bastard Richard doesn’t like that.

Of course, he has to do something to separate Alex and Donovan so he can have Alex all to himself. That technicality I mentioned about the two of them (Alex and Donovan) having sex, it’s all Richard’s fault! All of it! I’d swear you’d think all of these people are his fucking puppets or something, the way he plays with their lives. And damn the consequences. Richard -ALMOST-KILLED-HER

Richard is an evil cock-sucker and I want to tie a rubber-band around his nuts. Then I’d bind him up dig one of his eyeballs out with a spoon and have him watch as I feed it to the crows! Afterwards I’d cut him multiple times. When I’m done with that, I’m going to throw his abusive ass into a metal box and then dump African-Driver Ants all over him. I’d seal him in and let him die a slow and painful death while they eat his flesh.

I apologize if you think that is twisted, but I promise when you read this book you’ll understand how I feel. Alex didn’t deserve what Richard put her through. But I completely understand why she did it. Oh, and you’re probably wondering where Colin is through all this because no way he’d let this happen, right? You’re right. To give Alex the space she asked for, Colin accepted a role in no-where Alaska with no cell service and no internet. (I think I’d die. Just a little.) And by the time he gets back, let’s just say, the rope is fraying, there is still a long way to the bottom and you have no idea whether or not you’re about to die.

Colin -GOODBYE-altI don’t want to give too much away. Just know there is SO, SO much in this book I didn’t see coming. And it was quite well-written! There are not many authors who can successfully pull off third-person omniscient. In my opinion, it is one of the hardest POVs to write because it has to be done seamlessly. Otherwise you get a jumble of thoughts all at once. I have only ever read one other author that did it to perfection. While William Faulkner didn’t write romance, Shay Stone is definitely following in his footsteps in every other aspect.

At this point, if I tell you anymore I’ll give it all away. So I don’t do that, I’ll move on to my favorite lines. Man, this is going to be hard. I had several! I’m not exactly sure which ones to pick. However will I limit myself? Well shit. All right, here I go.

  1. “Her flawless skin felt softer than the petal of a rose.” (Absolutely poetic! Donovan may not have said this out loud, but it was quite the description.)
  2. “‘The kind of night the angels create with the sole purpose of making us lesser humans fall in love.’” (Again, Donovan. Speaking about the night he met a certain someone.)
  3. “‘Love is like a brilliant sociopath with Cupid its trained assassin.’” (I’m beginning to see a pattern here. I may have secretly fallen in love with Donovan and I didn’t even realize it.)
  4. “‘Fine. But I’m letting you know right now if I see Cupid, I’m shooting the little bastard!’” (I love Alex! She’s hilarious! I absolutely laughed at this.)
  5. “A rabid dog would be less dangerous and better-behaved.” (Can’t you tell how much Alex despises Richard?)
  6. “Richard curled his arm around Alex’s waist like a dog protecting his bone.” (This was how Alex saw it and I liked the description EVEN with how I feel about Richard. Shithead.)

That isn’t all of them, but I believe I’ve told you enough about this book. This was like a roller-coaster on speed! I couldn’t see what was coming next, but I couldn’t stop myself from getting on the ride either. It was a page-turning blockbuster that Shay Stone knocked out of the park. A full on, no doubt about it HOME RUN!

With that said, I give you a rating of

5-Star

 

You know, I really need Google to get with the picture here! I need more stars! “The Cost of Fame” deserves at least 6 stars! 

Reviewer: Brigit Rosé

 

Review of “Sweetest Release”

SweetestRelease
Purchase Here

I have a lot to say about this book. Sadly, I don’t believe all of it will be good. Some of which did have an impact on the rating and some of which did not. Sweetest Release by Nicole Highland was good, but it could have been SO MUCH better. It’s told entirely from one person’s POV, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it means that we have to get a LOT from that person’s interactions with other people. Because of that I feel like I was left with way too many unanswered questions.

Before I get to my review and all the thousands upon thousands of questions I am left with, let me tell you all about this book. Ring Synopsis

Natalie and Devin fell in love in high school. Their time together was ended all too soon when Devin was forced to move. After recovering from a broken heart, Natalie meets James who helps her pick up the pieces. Thinking she has found her happily ever after, they get married. But everything she thought she knew gets flipped when she discovers her husband has been cheating on her after four years of marriage. To make matters worse, Devin pops back into the picture. Now Natalie must decide if her marriage is worth saving or if an old flame is worth a second chance.

There you have it. All nicely tied up in a pretty little bow. From here with spoilers ahead (your one and only warning) it may get a little ugly.

spoilers Obviously from the blurb I went into this book expecting the husband to cheat. And I knew an ex-boyfriend would show back up and make Natalie reconsider the feelings she once had for him. I was unprepared for how far it would go with her ex, despite the fact that her and her husband were plainly heading for a divorce. 

Now, I want to be clear about something. myreviewI had some problems with this book and to be fair I have been cheated on in the past. I don’t believe that has colored my judgment in any way as I have read other books where an ex magically appears.

I did finish the book. I did read through it rather quickly and not because I just wanted to get it over with. I genuinely liked it, though I do think it could’ve been better developed. There were way too many unanswered questions.

With that said and done, let’s get down to it. Rollercoaster ride, here we come!

The story opens with a prologue of Devin and Natalie saying goodbye. From there we see what tends to happen between two people in love and distance. Their relationship ends up dying and Natalie slowly heals. Then she meets James and it’s another whirlwind romance, except this time she marries the guy, with an image of Devin interrupting only once. (Eep!) And that is what leads us to chapter one.

Also leads me to my first problem. The heroine’s name (Natalie, if you hadn’t read the blurb) remained unknown until Chapter One where she has discovered her husband cheated. And it isn’t even until he comes home after she has checked the tablet and found his solicitous conversations that the heroine’s name even comes up.

“‘She’s just a friend, Natalie. That’s all there is to it. She was hanging out with us last night after the softball game, and she was acting drunk and stupid.’”

SRPoem3This is the first time her name is spoken. If I hadn’t gone back and read the blurb, I wouldn’t have known her name until this point.

Of course, Natalie calls bullshit.

“‘How could you say that, James? I don’t care whether or not you actually slept with her. This is just as bad. You don’t even talk to me this way! How could you do this with a virtually complete stranger?’”

At this point, Natalie has already said it’s over. She has no intention of forgiving him. Not that he bothers to offer any kind of explanation. In fact, according to James, it means nothing. They are just words. Empty words. I really wanted to smack him upside his head. Though from what happened after Natalie got home from work, that probably wouldn’t have been the best idea. Yep, we get our first taste of drama, maybe some suspense because James hasn’t even gotten started.

“‘Put it down,’ I chided, careful not to let any trepidation escape through my voice. I tried to back away from him, but he pushed me against the counter.

‘What’s the matter? Getting a little nervous?’

The tip of the knife poked into the base of my throat, and a slight grin appeared on his face. Is he actually enjoying this? I thought. The thought made my stomach turn.”

At this point, I have no doubt that this relationship is toxic and she absolutely needs to escape her husband. I can clearly see the direction this story will go. What was unclear was whether or not this was the first time something to this effect had happened? Had he threatened her life before? Had he threatened his own? (Something he does two chapters later.) Had he hit her? From what we learn closer to the end of the story, this wasn’t James’s first rodeo. (Okay, I didn’t see that coming.) And they had already been married four years. Wouldn’t his anger have reared its ugly head sooner than that? SRPoem2

The next morning, Natalie awakes to find a text message from her ex-boyfriend, Devin. The guy who broke her heart after a failed long distance relationship. It takes another three chapters for her to concede and agree to meet. But they don’t meet up some place neutral. Instead, she goes over to his place. I feel like there should have been sirens going off screaming “Danger Will Robinson!” Not as if Natalie didn’t know it was a bad idea.

“I was nervous. I knew what I was doing was wrong, hypocritical even, but I had to see Devin. I knew this would be so freeing. I didn’t care.”

The love we see between Natalie and Devin is bright and beautiful. Three blind mice could see it! I mean, come on, what guy saves a painting his ex-girlfriend did for him nearly seven years ago.

“In the corner of the room by the television hung a painting I had done for him so long ago. I couldn’t believe after all this time he had kept my painting. His sullen, beautiful face, and those deep, piercing eyes stared back at me from the wall. A smile crossed my face.

Devin turned around and noticed that I was staring at the painting. He must have been reading my mind, for I had not spoken a word aloud about the painting, yet he seemed to know exactly what I was thinking.

‘There was no way I could let it go,’ Devin said, as his velvety voice trailed off into the silence of the room.”

Not hard to tell it was precious to him. And he hadn’t quite ever let her go. My problem here is that she seems to be jumping back in with both feet, however based on the prologue she had been angry and hurt over the end of their relationship. She has even kept him at arm length for three chapters. SRPoemAnd at no point in this meeting does she bother to ask him about what happened to them? She doesn’t question why he stopped talking to her? She doesn’t even ask him why he text her out of nowhere? 

They haven’t spoken in years and she asks nothing. What? Color me stumped because I have no explanation.

I could go over a couple more scenes like this or even some of the good ones, but I think I’ll share a few of my favorite lines instead. Honestly, I don’t want to give it all away AND it does get better!

  1. “‘You know, this state of victimhood that you like to pretend to be in is really getting old.’” (I totally gave Natalie an air-five. This was funny and shut her husband up.)
  2. “I was about to walk into his lair.” (I was amused because the only time I usually see “lair” is in fantasy or paranormal.)
  3. Celebrate all accomplishments, no matter how large or small.” (These are great words to live by!)
  4. “‘Well, I didn’t realize you wanted to be in here at the same time,’ I said mockingly.” (In case you haven’t noticed, I thrive on sarcasm.)
  5. “‘You’ll have to work on your behavior. Or we’ll both be in trouble,’ he said with a grin.” (Made me snicker. Of course, I’ve been told this myself. Not that I ever listen.)

There is development between Devin and Natalie, but I think it could’ve been stronger. To me, the prologue was unnecessary. Everything we got from it was information that could’ve been filtered throughout the story. The drama created from James and his anger management offered me no doubt he was a bad guy. I would’ve liked to have seen this explored a bit more. Still, it kept me hanging on and reading to the very last page.

With that said, overall I give this 4 stars.

4-four-star

Reviewer: Brigit Rosé

Review of “Crooked Crowns”

Crooked Crowns Main
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I love a good twist! And this anthology had so many twists on some of my favorite fairy-tales that I honestly don’t know where to begin. Then again, maybe I do. Let me start by saying this group of stories not only modernized Disney tales, but it reworked some parts and threw others right out the window. AND. I. LOVED. IT!!!

Before I get to far, let me get the beginning out of the way because the review part is going to be a fun journey.Ring Synopsis

“These tales are old as time but you’ve never heard them quite like this. Fantasy meets contemporary romance when the Prince’s of old become our sexy, powerful, alpha men of today. Six of your favorite indie authors put their own twist on your favorite fairytales!”

Each tale is told from the male perspective only. This is something to keep in mind as I go through my review, which I’m going to do a little differently. Normally I have a whole page to talk about one story. Instead, I’m going to talk about SIX. With that in mind, I will rate each story individually and then one final overall rating for the book as a whole. Which means, this may get a little long, but I promise it’ll be worth the ride. As always, this is your one and ONLY warning that SPOILERS are AHEAD.

First and foremost, I must advise that I received an ARC in return of a FAIR and HONEST review. Now, away we go.

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The first story  Charmed By You by Jess Bryant is a spin on the classica Cinderella. And OMG!!!!!!! I loved it!!! Henry Lord is our well-off, handsome prince and he has worked hard in the political world to get where he is and this includes becoming mayor of Knights Port. He’s the perfect candidate too. If only he weren’t gay.

Enter Elliott Cole, a tattooed, pierced chef who wants nothing more than to buy his dead father’s restaurant back from his evil stepmother. He promptly catches Henry’s eye and despite the beautiful night they spend together, Elliott does not feel he deserves to be loved. So he disappears before morning leaving Henry only with his first name.CharmedByYou1

I fell in-fucking-love with these two! Because this story centered around both guys, we got to be in both of their heads. And I wanted to hold them both. Henry’s ambitions forced him to avoid relationships. As for Elliott, his step-brothers and step-mother demeaned him so much that he didn’t feel worthy of anyone’s love. In fact, he came to expect the worst of people. (Boy do I know that feeling.)

This may have been created from a fairy-tale, but I totally believed this. We live in such a cruel and judgmental world that people aren’t allowed to be different and in the public eye. Look at how people respond to Lady Gaga.

Here are a couple of my favorite lines.

  1. “He could also see the stars, shining bright against the pitch-black night, and for the first time in his life they felt close enough to touch.”
  2. “Henry swallowed the sarcasm straight from those lush lips.” (Yes, Elliott was sarcastic as hell. I feel totally akin to him, except I’m not as pierced.)

I give Charmed By You 5 stars!!! Henry and Elliott definitely charmed me.

Next on the batting list is Her Thief by Tessa Elaine. This was a spin on Rapunzel. Straight up, the opening scene is almost right from the movie, which I have seen. Still, I died a little. It was so funny! Honestly, I kept waiting to see if the girl was going to have a chameleon or some other animal friend she talks to, not that she did, but that would’ve been hilarious! (Apparently she was just talking to herself. We know what that’s like, don’t we guys? [Characters in my head nod in agreement, except for maybe one or two.])

As for the characters, we have Rider, our so-called prince, who is a well-paid thief and apparently a good one. (Oh look, a difference!) And we have Zella (another difference!), our beautiful princess, aptly nick-named “Blondie” by our prince. (Isn’t that what Rider called Rapunzel?) Okay, I’m digressing.HerThief

Here’s the kicker. Zella wants to go to a ball at “The Waverly” hosted by one “Henry Lord.” Until this point I had NO IDEA all of these stories were going to take place in the same town, Knights Port. And yes, some of the characters are referenced in the other stories. In fact, Rider and Zella are mentioned in a later story. Kind of amusing when you think about it.

I had a few problems with this story: believability, minor editing and grammar errors. Yet, I enjoyed it. Not as much as Charmed By You, but I liked it. It was fun to see Max as a detective chasing the illusive thief. And I liked that Rider, while similar to his counterpart in Rapunzel was different. It made more sense that he could take care of Zella. She was the one I had belief issues with. (And yes, I know it’s based on fantasy.) When we first meet her, she comes off as naive. For crying out loud, she used a book to knock Rider out! And by chapter four, she’s seducing him? I couldn’t go from seeing her as sweet and innocent to “I want you to take my virginity” in two chapters. It just didn’t flow.

Still, I have a couple of favorite lines.

  1. “‘Who are you? Why are you here?’ She raises something in her hands, and I notice it’s a book, a really thick book. What the hell?” (I giggled. In this day and age, how many people do you know would hit someone in the head with a book?)
  2. “I get sick of the judgment on her face and just pull out my card and hand it to her. That has her jaw snapping shut and her ass getting in gear. ‘Whatever she wants,’ I tell the woman, and she starts to lead Zella to the dressing room.” (Yes, there is, in fact, a total Pretty Woman moment in the story.)

This was a good, fun story. Even with a few issues, I give it 4 stars.

Next up is Bastard & The Bookworm by Kellie Hart. An obvious spin on Beauty and The Beast, which happens to be one of my favorite Disney movies! I was totally into this one. I give the author props for the added prologue and epilogue. It absolutely set the story up to perfection! And the twist on the names, I think this one is my favorites of the six.

Oops, did I say that out loud?

What can I say? I’m a bookworm at heart. Let’s get to the characters. Carrick Logan, our prince and beast, whose heart has become so lost in darkness, he is lifeless in a pool of money. Gatlin Geoffrey, Carrick’s CFO and closest person he has to a friend, is also the one most likely to betray him due to Gatlin’s own greed. BastardandBookworm(Ha! I didn’t even think about another Pretty Woman reference.) Isabelle Tyme, daughter to Merle Tyme, owner of “Tale as Old as Tyme Book Shoppe,” and the one to finally show Carrick his heart is not beyond redemption and repair.

The story opens up in Carrick’s office where Gatlin is telling him the book shoppe is bleeding money. And we quickly see the beast rise up out of Carrick the second Gatlin starts talking with his filthy womanizing mouth about Isabelle. Honestly, I kind of wanted to see Carrick kick Gatlin’s ass right then and there, but that comes later. There is so much that is learned in the first scene and it was magnificent! The second chapter dives right into the story between Carrick and Isabelle and it was exquisite! I LOVED that Isabelle was painted as a strong-willed woman. Hmm, I guess she was just as defiant as Belle. It was done so naturally that I didn’t even give it a second thought.

Well, I could talk about this story for a while. So I’m going to get right to a couple of my favorite lines because I have three more stories to go.

  1. “‘Because I do not have to,’ Isabelle says as the final word on the matter. ‘Good day, Carrick.’” (Can I high-five her? Or give her a “you go girl.”?)
  2. “‘When I look at that vase, Isabelle,’ I explain to end my sad tale, ‘I am almost convinced I have not forgotten who I was before fear consumed me. That’s why I haven’t returned it to your father.’” (This was such a touching moment. So tender and surreal. Quite beautiful.)

I related so well to these characters! Bastard & The Bookworm gets 5 stars!

Three down, three to go.

Up next, Wide Awake by Steph Poe. I read as a beta for this story, so I had high hopes for it. It’s good, but I didn’t see a lot in the way of changes, so I was a little disappointed. Now when I read this as a beta I didn’t realize it was spun off Sleeping Beauty. So you can imagine how surprised I was when I finally figured it out.

If you’re asking why, let me tell you. Our prince, Phillip Prince, doesn’t get with Aurora, his best friend, but instead he gets with his hot-as-hell boss, Malley Ficent. I know! WideAwakeShocked me too. As I re-read it, I got the image in my head about Descendants crossed with Sleeping Beauty. Made a little more sense.

Also made sense as to why it was important to see Aurora in the story to begin with. Despite that, I would’ve liked to see more interaction between Phillip and Malley. Although she changes, I didn’t see her blossom all that well. Kind of like Zella, Malley jumps from cold-hearted bitch to “I’m trying to show I care” in a chapter. I think this might have been cleaner if the story focused more and Phillip and Malley and less on Phillip and Aurora.

This doesn’t mean I didn’t have favorite lines because I totally did.

  1. “Neither of us speaks as we walk toward the dungeon, I mean, Ms. Ficent’s office.” (Who wouldn’t love this line? Referring to their boss’s office as a dungeon. Funny!)
  2. “‘Sorry, ma’am. I didn’t realize the CEO of this company couldn’t carry a box. Please forgive me,’ I fire back at her, as I take a step to walk into the meeting room.” (Sarcasm with a purpose. I. LOVE. IT!!!!)

Great story, but with what this author could’ve done to improve it, I give Wide Awake 4 stars.

Next on the hit list, Fire & Stone by C.C. Ann. While this is derived from the legend of King Arthur and Guinevere, there are so many movies out there that the closest I could come up with is King Arthur, which is NOT a Disney film. But the story has it all! Snark, humor, betrayal, love and quite the happy ending. This story could be my first or second favorite. If only I could choose between it and Charmed By You, but alas I cannot.

FireandStoneThe story opens with our prince, Arthur Stone, who’s had a rough day deciding to release it all in a fencing match. Now, I can’t help but reveal a little here because it is sooooo obvious that the person he is about to go up against is a female. “This person, whoever he is, has excellent form. He’s slender and a bit curvy, which is odd, but who am I to judge.” It isn’t odd! It’s a woman! Which is only PART of the reason I was so amused. I mean, come on, you can see exactly where the author is going with this, right? Not only is the person a woman, but it’s our prince’s princess.

Arthur Stone is the owner of a company that builds ships. And who should walk into his office the next day, but Gwen York, Commander of the Royal Navy, liaison between the navy and Stone’s company and the one who beat him in fencing the day before. Ha! Who didn’t see that coming? And they are SO MUCH FUN together. Stone and York react to each other’s quips like they had been doing it all their lives. I think this is what made me love them.

Without getting into too much, here are a couple of my favorite lines.

  1. “‘No, rude would be me telling you I think you need the bitterness spanked out of you,’ I snap and realize what I’ve just said.” (I died! The man has balls!)
  2. “‘You assume you can boss me around. I’m not your bloody pet.’” (And she dishes it right back! I’d love to say this is the same scene, but it isn’t. Still, it is like this with them throughout the whole story.)

I’m honestly torn on the rating with this story. I don’t know whether to give it 5 stars or 5.5 stars! IT. WAS. THAT. GOOD.

And last, but not least, the final story Forbidden Treasures by Dee Ellis. This was a twist on Aladdin and it was one I didn’t expect. Up to this point, all of the stories have been one on one. This one is MMF, but it worked! And quite well. So our characters and love interests include Ali Naim, Jasmin Amir, and Jhene Hamid. 

The story opens with Ali who is walking home only to have his backpack snatched on the way there, then to arrive to an eviction notice and all of his belongings stolen by his roommate. ForbiddenTreasuresAfter showering and changing into some clothes, Ali leaves and gets on the subway, not that he’s going anywhere in particular. He mumbles something that is overheard by Jasmin, also not going anywhere in particular. Obviously things go from there. 

Jhene, an empath, we don’t meet until the beginning of chapter three. I wasn’t sure initially what to think of this interaction between Ali and Jhene, especially once it became sexual. Though Jhene insisted all he wanted was to get Ali and Jasmin together. “‘Some people never get what they want. What they deserve. I like to see that occasionally, they do. I need nothing in return.’” Sounds just like Genie right? Yeah, that only lasts for about another five point two seconds from that statement. 

Obviously, I don’t want to spoil it all for you, so I’ll move onto a couple of my favorite lines.

  1. “I’d lost hope on finding something when nothing was all I got.” (Kind of makes you think.)
  2. “‘You were bright colors, sparkling in the sun, in the dark.’” (This is such a beautiful line. I LOVE the imagery that comes with it.)

For Forbidden Treasures, I give it 5 stars.

Okay. That is it! I have covered every story individually, spilled the beans on my favorites and possibly picked up some new favorite authors. There are some GREAT and AMAZING stories in this anthology and a couple that could’ve been better. Still, it is definitely worth the read.

Overall, I give the anthology 4.5 stars!

1401603-4-four-half-star

 

Reviewer: Brigit Rosé

Review of “Pieces of You, Pieces of Me”

PYPM
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Pieces of You, Pieces of Me is the first novella in the Awaken My Heart series continuing the love story between Galen and Ren. The couple I fell in love with in Jigsaw Hearts. And I was NOT, nope, in no way was I disappointed. Okay, until I got to the end. And that is just because it was there before I knew it. I. WANTED. MORE. I was well prepared for some of the sexier scenes in this book than I thought I would be. Of course, that is because I attended the release party for Whole Piece of Me. A novella I’m super excited for!!!!! 

Yes, I know, I’m totally gushing. Before I get ahead of myself, let me go through our normal ritual. You know how this works. Ring Synopsis

Eight months into the relationship Ren and Galen are going strong. Ren returns from a rather difficult business trip involving arrogant rock star, Tristan Turn, to romantic gestures from Galen. Along with a mind-blowing welcome home. Soon after, something changes. Galen grows distant and is obviously keeping a secret. Ren fears it could be the end for them. For someone who’s never been a real relationship before, how is she supposed to know? If their love can’t last, then how can true love exist at all?

There you have it. Going forward, there will be spoilers. Forge ahead at your own risk.

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Right in the beginning, we’re thrown into Ren’s interview with Tristan Turn. I’ll admit, it took me a second to remember who he was. I mean, she only interviewed him once in the first book. And the story didn’t revolve around him, so I kind of forgot. Thankfully, his presence is explained fairly quickly within the first two pages. Apparently the company that Ren works for has decided to add on a publishing component and they’ve elected Tristan Turn’s memoir (written by Ren, of course) as their first project.

I wasn’t quite at the point of, God, why, Tristan Turn? At this point, I was like yes, we get it you’re totally full of yourself. eyerollingAt least until the douche-bag presented himself naked in the chaise, ready and waiting for Ren’s arrival to his hotel room. Though honestly, Ren handled the situation better than I would have. See below.

“I froze. Tristan used the moment to fling his robe off again. ‘Rock stars get pussy when they want it,’ he breathed into my face. ‘It’s pretty much in the job description.’ Abruptly, his hands gripped my hips to grind me against his erection.

With a guttural shot, I slammed my boot heel onto his foot and bolted back three feet. Holding a hand out as a warning against more advances from the profanity-spewing man, I shut off my recording device, then watched Turn’s eyes go wide. He had forgotten I record our interviews. Oh, well! At least I could prove who acted professionally when this project hits the skids. I dropped my laptop into its bag and stormed out of the room.”

I would’ve kneed the guy in the nuts. However, I did jump for joy when it is later revealed she broke his foot. Ha! The guy deserved that and more! 37367488_677954639226443_8034506603782733824_n

Now, Galen doesn’t come close to being as much of a prick as Tristan, but he doesn’t get a free pass in this book either. He is the Galen I came to love in the beginning. Then a trip back home and it all goes sour. Before I get to that, let me just share a couple of lines that were freaking AMAZEBALLS!

  1. “‘And devouring you will not go over well in front of the industry Illuminati. Meet me in the grand hallway in five minutes so I can kiss you to pieces. You won’t need the drink.’” (They’re at a gala celebrating Galen’s boss at a museum. The next scene made me want to try new things.)
  2. “‘You’ve got to be kidding!’ I whispered, pretending to sound annoyed. ‘You put us on a timer?’” (I seriously giggled. I can’t say I’ve ever been on a timer per se, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t had quickies.)
  3. “‘Someone has to help move you beyond the weird repercussions of your childhood. It’s like I’ve got my own little alien baby who is trying to make sense of this new human world she’s on.’” (Hilarious! I was quite amused at the “alien baby” term. And it made me want a guy to call me that. Don’t ask why because I have no answer.)
  4. “‘That’s what big brothers are for. Consider it compensation for all the times I dipped your toothbrush in the toilet.’” (If I had been drinking when I read this, I would have spit it out as I laughed. I have two younger siblings and while I don’t think we’ve ever dunked each other’s toothbrush in the toilet, I believe I might have used either my brother’s or my sister’s toothbrush to clean the dogs teeth. Or around the sink.)

This is the turning point. Not of no return, just a HUGE, MAJOR turning point. Something happened over that weekend. We know that Galen is carrying some kind of weight on his shoulders. Aside from all the additional work he is putting in trying to get Corrine’s reuniongallery built the way she wants it. At this point in the story, we just don’t know what. I had my suspicions and I’m not going to say it, but if you read the blurb for the next novella, Whole Piece of My Heart, then you can figure it out.

And it has to blow up at some point, right? Ren stuck it out for a few weeks, then she reached her boiling temperature and snapped.

“‘I need this project right now,’ Gale whispered. ‘The distraction.’ He wouldn’t look at me.

‘From what? I thought you needed me, too. Unless I’m what you need a distraction from. Maybe you don’t need me.’

Exasperated, he jumped off the bed and exclaimed, ‘God, Ren! You know I do. You know how much—’

‘Not at the moment, I don’t! Actually, it seems you need Ella and her freakin’ MBA more than you need—’”

It has to get worse before it gets better, right? I’ve always hated that saying, mostly because I hate that it has to go downhill before it can go back uphill. But that is pretty much what happens here. Huge fight, but it leads to the secret he’s been hiding and to a pretty great make-up. 3-flower-backdrop-with-text

Now, I’m not going to give the end away! I refuse! Just know that I giggled and it made me love Ren even more. I’m also curious if it comes true too.

All in all, although I felt like the end came too quickly, I LOVED this novella. I. WANT. MORE. I don’t know that I will feel as if I have gotten enough of Ren and Galen. They are great together! 

With that said, I give Piece of You, Piece of Me

5-Star

Side note: I tried to find 5.5 stars, but google didn’t have it. I’d give it six, but I died a little at the end because it ended too quickly. 

 

Another Sneak Peek – “UnHinged”

dreamyThis past weekend was the release of my friend’s third book in her “Awaken My Heart” series and I had every intention of reading the second book for preparation. Unfortunately, work and errands kind of took all my reading time away. Along with some of my own writing. So, I did not get to it.

Fear not, I will get it read Thursday because I MUST know what happens between Ren & Galen. If you want to check out the first novel, you can do so here. I promise it’s a page turn. Don’t believe me, take a look at my review.

Since I don’t have a book to review for you lovely romantics, I thought I’d share another free preview from my own upcoming work, UnHinged. In case you missed the first one, you can see it here.

Here we go. UnHinged © Brigit Rosé

Sneak-Peek

Chapter One (Scene Two & Three)

Luke boxed up the last of his books. He scanned the empty shelves of the bookcase. Hard to believe he’d been there four years. Hell, hard to believe it was finally over. A couple months to relax and then he’d move on to Law School. He glanced over his shoulder at his roommate. “You going to start packing? Or are you waiting for the fairies to get to it?”

“Dude, graduation may be tomorrow night, but we still don’t leave for like a week. Besides, I might be able to get my mom and sister to do it for me.”

“You’re pathetic.” God, she’d be here, wouldn’t she? Neither of their families planned to leave Virginia Beach for several days. Great. How many days would he have to avoid her? Too many. Maybe he could convince his parents it’d be better if they headed home sooner rather than later. Something to consider.

The last time Ezzie had been there, he’d realized how much she’d grown since the first time they’d met. She’d certainly matured in all the right places. He’d done everything he could to spend as little time as possible around her. She was his best friend’s sister for crying out loud. The last thing he should’ve been doing was lusting after the girl. And none of the chicks he’d slept with compared to how perfect he imagined her to be. Damn him. Luke dragged a hand through his hair. He was screwed.

A football sailed through the air and landed with a thud in the box he’d just stacked his books in. Frowning he picked up the football and tossed it back at his roommate. “What the hell man?”

“You tell me. You’re the one who disappeared.”

“I’m just thinking.” About things I really shouldn’t. And if the guy knew about what, he’d probably kick his ass. Maybe he should kick his own ass and get it over with. The good news, there was no possible chance they’d be alone together. All he had to do was get through the next few days and then home to Salt Lake City. His best friend’s family lived three hours from his, but no big deal. He hadn’t ever really travelled to Green River.

“I gathered that much. You know, I truly think you need to party after dinner tomorrow night. Loosen up and have some fun.”

Luke opened his mouth to respond, only to be interrupted by the sound of his roommate’s phone going off. He listened as Nate answered the phone. Of course it was the guy’s sister. She’d been running a marathon in his brain for the last ten minutes. Her phone call added to the compilation of thoughts banging around in his head. Ezzie would likely slap him if she had any idea of the images of her that often played on repeat in his mind.

“No, yeah, I get it. It’s okay. We’ll do something when they get here and I’ll pick you up at the airport tonight. All right, see you then.” Nate hung up the phone.

Tonight? Had he heard the guy correctly? Why would he pick her up tonight? Hadn’t they all planned to fly in tomorrow morning? Luke set the box on the floor and dropped down on his bed. “What’s up?”

“Apparently my parents both have food poisoning. So they can’t fly out for a few days, but they insisted Ezzie be here for my graduation. She’s coming in tonight.”

 “What?” Not good. Not good at all. Nate eyed him and Luke knew exactly what the guy would ask before the words even left his mouth.

“She’s got her own hotel room, but I don’t want her there alone unless absolutely necessary. Think you could help me keep an eye on her?”

Fuck me. Luke gripped the back of his neck. He shouldn’t be trusted around the guy’s sister. Agreeing would be the stupidest thing he could do, but he had no choice. If he failed to agree, Nate would know something was up. The images that swirled in his head were not brother appropriate. Leaning forward on his knees, he kept his eyes to the ground and his expression hidden. “Yeah.”

Logo, heart and roses

Luke stood near the baggage claim at Norfolk International Airport. How had he gotten roped into going along to pick up Nate’s sister? Simple. He’d wanted to see her. So when the guy asked, he’d acquiesced. Sure. Why not? A little bit of sexual torture never killed anyone. Man, he was an idiot. If he hadn’t known better, he’d swear he had one of those signs above his head. And it clearly flashed dumbest man alive.

He watched as Nate shifted back and forth on the balls of his feet. The guy was anxious. Not like he blamed him. Luke paced in small circles around the two suitcases they’d collected fifteen minutes ago. Damn it, he was antsy too. Ezzie should’ve been off the plane by now. Where the hell was she?

The small hairs on the nape of his neck stood on end. A sweet perfume filled the air. Pausing mid-step, he lifted his eyes. His gaze stopped on the most beautiful creature he’d ever seen. Long brown hair. Dazzling blue eyes. Legs for days. Natural hourglass figure. Hip-hugging jeans, which perfectly accentuated her curves. A baby tee and denim jacket revealed exquisite skin he was certain would be soft to the touch. Man, oh, man. Staying away from her was going to be harder than he anticipated. Luke chanced a quick glance at the front of his pants. Whew! No tent for him. At least that stayed in check.

Ezzie closed the distance between the three of them and smiled broadly. “Hey guys.”

“What took you so long?” Frowning, Nate crossed his arms. The annoyance of how long they’d stood there written clearly on his face.

“Sorry. I spent a few extra minutes talking to my seatmate. Lost track of time. My bad.”

Seatmate? Man, he hoped it was another female. For some reason the idea of her chatting up a random dude infuriated him. Gee, probably because he was attracted to her. Shut up. He had to get that shit out of his head right now. Deep breath. Nate was peeved enough for the both of them. Luke stepped forward. Ezzie walked into his open arms as if it was the most natural thing on earth.

He had a good six inches on her. Her head pressed into his chest. Luke dropped his head into the crook of her neck and quietly inhaled. She felt damn good against him like this. “It’s good to see you.”

“You too.”

“How ‘bout you share the love over here?” Her brother chimed in and raised an eyebrow at the scenario before him.

Smirking, Ezzie pulled away all too soon and hugged her brother. “I’m happy to see you too.”

Had he really wrapped his arms around his best friend’s sister? What the hell was wrong with him? But man she’d felt perfect. Like she’d been right where she was meant to be. Which was crazy. Yeah, they’d know each other for a few years. And they’d always gotten along. It wasn’t until earlier this year, his view of her changed. Most definitely similar to the way he saw her now. Luke gripped the back of his neck and peeked at his best friend. Looked like he was in the clear, for the moment. Too close for comfort.

“Can we go? I’m exhausted. And knowing you, packing hasn’t even been started. Something I’d like to do before Mom and Dad get here in a few days.” Ezzie glanced between her brother and Luke.

“Yeah. Let me grab your… ” Nate paused mid-sentence and pointed to a small tattoo playing peek-a-book on Ezzie’s left hip. “What the hell is that?”

She peered over her shoulder. “What?”

“That thing on your hip?!”

“I’m pretty sure it’s a tattoo.” Ezzie snickered and rolled her eyes.

Yeah, he was certain it was a tattoo. One he longed to see more of. From what he could tell, it appeared to be a butterfly? Maybe a fairy? Luke glimpsed at Nate, who’d practically blown a gasket at the mere word “tattoo.” Quite amusing. Considering they’d each gotten one themselves. Something they’d done after passing one of their more massive exams. Hmm, when had she gotten the tattoo? She’d turned eighteen in, what, April? Sometime in the last couple of months. What had spawned the desire? How had she decided on the concept?

“Why would you desecrate your body like that?” Nate grabbed one of the suitcases at his feet.

“Two words. Kettle. Black. Now, while I’d love to continue discussing what I do with my body with you; how about we do something a little less disturbing? Hmm, shall we?” With that, Ezzie spun on her heel and sauntered toward the doors.

Luke chuckled. He couldn’t help himself. Not many people had the audacity to really call Nate on his shit. Instead of standing there and enjoying a good laugh, he grabbed a suitcase and followed after Ezzie. Soon enough Nate would do the same.