I have been away from you, my romance lovelies, for far too long. I apologize for my distance, but things have become a little hectic around here for the last month. And I know I’ve said that they had settled down, really I believed they had, you know for about 2.5 seconds. Long enough that they could build back up. But the last week I’ve begun finding my ground, which means I have new reviews to share with you wonderful people.
AND very, very soon … I’ll have a new cover. Something for my very own work. BUT I’m not here to talk about that. Though I’ll tell you more in the coming days.
TODAY, I’m here to tell you all about my latest read. Hopefully by now, you’ve either read the first two books in this series or my reviews (Book 1 and Book 2). If you haven’t, go read them NOW.
Christmas IS right around the corner and it’s one of the best times to get books! (My absolutely FAVORITE kind of gift.)
Now that we’ve caught up and gotten reacquainted, let’s begin. Whole Piece of My Heart is the final novella in Ren & Galen’s story. And I MUST say, it was a doozy. I was thrown a bit because the majority of the novella is from Galen’s point and up to now it has all been told from Ren’s perspective. I definitely had to adjust a little. Still I. LOVED. IT! And THAT ending!
Whoops, getting ahead of myself. Let me back up a touch. All right, I’m good. Moving on. You know how this goes.
Nothing makes Galen Zabriese happier than time with his soulmate, Ren Hayden. With his mother’s illness behind them and Ren’s career as a biographer showing great promise, he’s ready to propose—as soon as he thinks of the perfect way to do so. The life they want to build for themselves will be an uphill challenge at first, but Gale is convinced it will be a smooth one.
Until the subject of Ren’s latest biography calls her into a negative spotlight.
Until his brother, Dax, crosses a line.
Until Ren disappears.
Suddenly, instead of planning a proposal, Galen must risk everything to find Ren – including his moral compass.
Now that you have the jist of the story, this is your one and only warning—SPOILERS. AHEAD. Continue reading at your own risk.
Aside from the ending and all the stuff in between, the opening was my favorite. It wasn’t just because we quickly learn that Katherine (Galen’s mother) has gotten the all clear regarding her cancer, but because I discovered that Galen is funny. Maybe his personal thoughts are funny, well, some of his lines too. But mostly what was going on in his head. I cracked up at the number of times he criticized himself for planning an evening out with Ren instead of an evening in. See for yourself.
“Stupid asshat—at home, I could have negotiated the situation into one of her mind-shattering blow jobs.”
“Again, why had I scheduled dinner out? Oh, right: I’m a dumbass.”
And that’s just in the first chapter! As you can imagine, especially if you’ve read the previous books, being out didn’t stop Galen and Ren from fully enjoying one another’s company. You know, of all the places I’ve had sex, I can’t say a limo is one of them. Wonder if I could talk my … oh, my bad. Off track. Back to the book. Needless to say, the next scene did not disappoint.
But good news can’t last forever. Before the night is even over, Ren gets slammed for the bio she did on one of the most self-involved, man-whores anyone has had the displeasure of knowing. You know, Tristan “I am a slut” Turn. He bashes the book she wrote telling his story. And he gets dirty and outright mean.
“I read the words again, irrationally hoping they would be different the second go around: Renaissance Hayden is a hack. But there are plenty of hacks out there. What makes her worse is that she’s a hack and a whore. She got me trashed, took advantage of my status and prowess—and who knows what I said while in bed with her—but the false accusations in this pile of trash are not to be believed.”
That isn’t everything Tristan said, but I don’t want to give it ALL away. My entire point is Galen’s reaction. Talk about swoon worthy. If I didn’t love him before, I totally loved him after this.
“It took an hour of stroking Ren’s hair to get her to close her eyes. The moment her breathing took on the gentle pace of sleep, I crossed a boundary and didn’t care: I grabbed her phone for Carey’s number, then woke the man from a sound sleep.
‘Who?’ he croaked.
‘Galen Zabriese. Ren’s boyfriend.’ And then I waited.
Finally, ‘Aw, shit. Really?’
I wasn’t fazed. ‘Call me unprofessional. Call me coming off too many drinks. Call me insane for all I care. And then reassure me that Doorways is going to stand behind Ren … no matter what.’”
Unprofessional or not, a man/woman who stands up for his/her woman/man is the sexiest thing in the world! Who’s with me?
I don’t want to give the whole story away, so I’ll leave you with a couple more of my favorite lines.
“‘Hmm …’ I gave her a wicked grin. ‘Guess your work is pro boner.’” (Yeah, Galen gets totally cheesy with the one-liners. Yet it’s amusing.)
“‘Too bad you can’t exhibit such poise and control when dealing with your angry brother or your hormones,’ she threw back.” (OMG! Corrine is completely coming into her own. I love seeing her with sass!)
“‘Ren,’ Jenna said. ‘If you’re ever going to stop walking into zingers with these two, take it from me: Put Gale in his place now! Keep it up and you’ll have a wonderfully trained monkey by the time you’re married.’” (You know, someone has asked if they can be adopted by this family. All I can say is I want in on that action.)
And THAT is all you get.
But before I get to my rating, let me say this … Ren and Galen don’t just have a love story, they have a love story that mirrors the kind of love we all want in life. The conclusion was suspenseful and breathtakingly beautiful. This was the kind of ride I’d do all over again just because I could.
Without further ado, I give Whole Piece of My Heart
Really, I just want a sixth star to slap on this bad boy.
My apologies my romance lovelies! I know I said things would return to normal by now, but it is still a work-in-progress. About as much as my first romance novella. Though I’m getting there day by day and I am finally nearing the end of some craziness when it comes to my work schedule.
And trust me, I have missed reading and giving you guys all the dirty details! Since I’m not yet able to grace you with a review of the Ren and Galen’s tale or dive into the two new romance specials I picked up at the conference two weeks ago, I thought I’d share a story of my own with you.
Not a personal one mind you, at least not yet. But the beginning of a novel that I used to get into the Masters Program at school. Yes, I had to grace them with my talents and show them that romance is my one and only pleasure. Well … my most passionate pleasure.
This is something I will be working on in the near future. And it is also one I can promise you will see more of before publication. I call it “Small Town Baby.”
Care to hop on the train and see where it goes?
Oh! One more thing before we climb aboard. The attached cover is not the final cover, but let’s just say I’ve been learning to play with images.
Emily pulled the Jeep into the driveway. As she parked, the headlights from her Jeep swept over an old Toyota. Her gaze shifted from her sister’s car to the single-story family home she’d closed on less than two weeks ago. Her sister’s presence could only be due to the disastrous family dinner they finished over an hour ago. She dropped her forehead against the steering wheel and groaned. She’d rather focus on unpacking than think about dinner. Not that she had anyone to blame but herself for that one.
She had been so unprepared for her family’s reaction to her news. Just tell them all at the same time. Whose bright idea had that been? Oh yeah! Hers. Idiot. Emily sighed. She shut off the ignition, gathered her purse, and got out of the car.
Opening up the front door to her house, Emily stopped inside the foyer. She crouched down and rubbed the ears of her pit bull. “Hey, Butch. Do you need to go out, boy?”
“I doubt it. He just came back in, like, ten minutes ago.” Kaylie propped herself up against the wall.
At least her sister was good for something. Emily stood up and shut the front door. “What are you doing here, Kay?”
“Figured I’d check on you. Make sure you were okay after what happened.”
“Which part? After you and Tara hung me out to dry? Or after the two of you blew my whole story out of the water and told everyone the truth?” It had been a simple plan. All they had to do was go along with it. Yeah, they both knew the truth because they helped her pick out a donor. But Kaylie and Tara didn’t have to share that information with the entire family. Emily crossed her arms.
“Hey, neither Tara nor I agreed to go along with that whole one-night-stand story. It was a stupid idea, anyway.” Kaylie jabbed her finger in Emily’s face.
Smirking, Emily shook her head and headed into the kitchen. “Really? Says who? It was perfectly believable. It wouldn’t have been the first time I’d gone home with a guy I just met.”
“So, you were promiscuous as a teenager. You haven’t exactly done that lately.”
With a sigh, Emily stopped in front of the refrigerator. As much as she’d like to argue with her sister about the validity of her statement, it was true. She hadn’t gone home with a guy from the club in nearly ten years. “Yeah, but at least Mom and Aunt Mae wouldn’t be mad at me about it.”
“They aren’t upset because you got inseminated. They’re upset because you didn’t tell them about your decision beforehand.”
“And you are well aware as to why.” Emily opened the freezer and dug out the carton of chocolate ice cream she kept on hand. She reached into one of the drawers, pulled out a spoon, and yanked off the lid.
“I know, but that doesn’t mean you would’ve been right about it.”
Okay. It might have been an unjustified fear. Her mother and aunt possibly would’ve been supportive over her decision. Or they could’ve done everything in their power to try and talk her out of it, as she believed. “Yeah, well, I can’t exactly go back in time and find out.”
“Look, give them a day or two, then invite them to lunch and answer any questions they have.”
“And you think that will magically fix everything?” Emily spooned another bite of ice cream in her mouth and glanced toward the refrigerator. Did she have strawberries in there?
Kaylie shrugged. “I don’t know, but it’ll be a good place to start. You know. Show them you didn’t make this decision all willy nilly and that you know a good deal about the baby’s father.”
Getting the carton of strawberries out of the refrigerator and removing a knife from a nearby drawer, Emily sighed. “You’re right. I’m sorry. I guess I’m just on edge about the whole thing. I mean, what if they don’t accept this baby?”
“You’re the first to make Mom a grandmother. Plus, you saw how Casey reacted. No way Aunt Mae would stay upset with you after that.”
Emily smiled. Her sister had a good point. Their cousin had practically thrown her own little celebration at the news of the pregnancy. She’d never seen a fourteen year old so excited about not being the baby anymore. “Thanks, Sis.”
“It’s what I’m here for. Now, what’s your plan for the strawberries?”
Before I begin, I apologize for keeping you, my romance lovelies, waiting so long for another review. I’ve been super busy with work so it took me longer than I anticipated to get through this book because of it. Otherwise I would’ve finished in a day or two, but things are finally starting to settle. So I don’t foresee this happening in the future.
Now that that’s out of the way, let me start by saying this is not your typical romance book. In fact, I got a very Hunger Games vibe from it right from the get go. Which throws me for a loop because the cover, although it is gorgeous, screams romance! And the story is definitely Dystopian with some romance thrown in, along with a bit of suspense and maybe a few moments of comedy. Oh, plus a couple of times where I absolutely just wanted to smack the ever loving shit out of the characters.
Whoops. Really getting ahead of myself here. Let me back it up a second and tell you what the book is about. Then we’ll go back to slapping some characters around.
“Vicki Morel believes she and Will, her gorgeous fiancé, have it all. They’re living the American dream. That is, until Portland, Oregon is leveled by a terrorist grade light weapon, and she loses Will at the airport.
Ambrose Palamo is an aviation student who wants one thing: to go home to Samoa. But when Portland is leveled, and he meets Vicki, he promises to help her find her fiancé instead. What he doesn’t expect is the feelings that start to form for her as they search the dangerous Oregon woodlands.
Sometimes love isn’t what you think it is.
The poppies bloom reminds them of what they’ve lost, while giving them the courage to face a brand new future.”
All right, that’s out of the way. So onto our last bit of business, your one and ONLY reminder that SPOILERS are AHEAD. Read at your own risk.
The book opens with Vicki reminding Will of all the things he should have for his trip as they make their final preparations to leave for the airport. This all seems pretty normal, well sort of. The constant sound of gunfire is an everyday occurrence, at least in Vicki’s world. You know what isn’t normal, the way Will acts. Hmm, suspicion is on the rise.
Let me show you what I’m talking about.
“Pushing those thoughts away, she stood on her tiptoes to kiss him, but he turned his head and her kiss landed on his cheek.
‘My girl, partner at an accounting firm.’ He wiped the smudge she’d left on his cheek. ‘Really, Vicki? I don’t need lipstick everywhere, now I do I?’
His voice was harsher than she was used to, but she shrugged it off as the stress of him leaving again. She smiled, trying to ignore his admonishment. ‘I’d better get ready if we need to be at the airport in an hour.’ She turned away from him.
Will laughed and playfully slapped her on her rear as she spun around. ‘Are you sure you need to drop me off? I can have Alex call an Uber …’
‘It’s okay. Don’t waste money on those things, they aren’t safe since they went driverless. Besides, I want every moment with you I can get.’ Vicki tossed her hair over her shoulder and skipped up to the master bathroom to finish getting dressed.
In the distance, she heard gunfire, but she just shrugged it off. It wasn’t abnormal to hear in suburbia anymore. Besides, she was about to leave all of this behind and start over. Somewhere safer, she hoped.”
Before I jump ahead, let me explain that Alex is kind of like Alexa/Google … whatever you use and/or call it, except much more sophisticated and attached to glasses that basically serve as mini-computers. Talk about an advance in technology. Takes me back to I-Robot all over again.
Off track. This was one of those moments where I wanted to ask Vicki, “Hey, if you’re guy isn’t acting normal, does it cross your mind that there’s a reason for it?” Not that it’s explained at all in the book, but this is the first one of the series. Fact, for all we know, his actions are really normal and she just hasn’t paid it any mind until then.
Needless to say the story must go on. From here we meet the other major player in the game, Ambrose Palamo. Initially I felt bad for him. He’s a dark-skinned guy and from what I’d read, it would be easy to surmise that he got treated like shit fairly regularly. Honestly, the introduction of Ambrose really shines a light on how much the country has gone down hill over the next thirty to forty years. Kind of made me think we jumped back in time where the only way you were right was if you were white.
Really, you wouldn’t think things could get worse. Then BOOM! A bomb goes off in the airport, police are gunned down and Vicki and Ambrose are running for their lives.
This is also happens to be where the whole romance part comes in. Their relationship kind of develops like this:
I hate you. -> You’re an okay piece of shit. -> All right, you’re not a piece of shit. You’re kind of nice. -> Hey, you’re kind of good looking. -> Oh shit. I think I’m attracted to you. -> Fuck, I’m actually attracted to you. -> Man, I kind of like you. -> Actually, I do like you.
I would’ve laughed at this, except I wanted to slap the shit out of Vicki and Ambrose about 90% of the time. She whined like crazy and he was just a dick. Then somewhere in the middle of nowhere they managed to get their crap together and act like decent human beings. It was then that I started to change my mind about them. Somewhere around “You’re kind of nice.”
As you can imagine with the two of them on the run, there is a hell of a lot of suspense. Though I did have to wonder what was up with all of the yelling. Then again, maybe it was all the adrenaline rushing through their bodies that made them scream and holler a lot of the time like a bunch of banshees. I really could’ve foregone most of that.
And yet amongst the consistent page turning, I found a few of my favorite lines.
“The skinny white girl, Vicki, didn’t seem to have any skills besides panic and anxiety.” (I’ll admit it, I shared this sentiment with Ambrose. It’s a good thing we were both wrong.)
“He wrapped strong arms around her, closing her fists to her side, and threw her up on his shoulder.” (Get your mind out of the gutter! We haven’t hit the romance part yet and you certainly won’t find that in this book.)
“Was he as stupid as he looked? America was being invaded, and there was no one to stop them.” (Okay, I might have snickered a little at this. What? It was funny that Vicki thought for about 2.5 seconds that Ambrose was stupid.)
“The intense stare of his bright eyes was uncomfortable. Combined with the dark shade of his hair, it was such a stark contrast.” (I think this is where the shift was sort-of noticed.)
That’s all you get. If I give you anything else, then I’ll give the whole story away. And aside from a few bumps and bruises I collected along the way, it was a decent read. There were a couple of issues I had, but not enough to make me put it down. Though I give fair warning, it DOES end on a cliffhanger … almost literally.
And that’s all I’m going to say about it. The good news is that Book 2, Lavender Dreams, releases December 4th. In fact, you can pre-order it now. I’ve already got my order in, so what are you waiting for?
Oh. I guess you want my rating. All right. Here we go.
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.
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.
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.
Man 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.
“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.
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.
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.
“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!
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.
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?”
Now, 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.
“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.’”
Yeah, 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 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.
I 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.
“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.)
“‘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.)
“‘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.)
“‘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.)
“A rabid dog would be less dangerous and better-behaved.” (Can’t you tell how much Alex despises Richard?)
“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
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!
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.
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.
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. I 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.’”
This 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?
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. And 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!
“‘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.)
“I was about to walk into his lair.” (I was amused because the only time I usually see “lair” is in fantasy or paranormal.)
“Celebrate all accomplishments, no matter how large or small.” (These are great words to live by!)
“‘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.)
“‘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.