The Blogger and the Hunk by Jane Matisse

thebloggerthehunk

The Blogger and the Hunk by Jane Matisse

The Blogger

Penelope Luciano, a virginal wallflower who lives the life of a hermit, has always been overlooked. But everything changes when she trades her quiet night with a book for a rare night out with her friends.

The Hunk

Jack Goodman, a confident skirt chaser, has always been a womanizer. But everything changes when he meets clumsy Penelope, and their first kiss turns into a night of passion.

When Penelope sneaks out the morning after, neither one expects to see each other again until they are thrown together in unexpected circumstances.

When pride and self-doubt get in the way, it’s up to both the blogger and the hunk to attain their equal footing and find the strength to chase what they really want.

I feel like every romance reader should read this book. You’ll find it fun and endearing, and I enjoyed the mental fantasy that went with a handsome, model-type of fellow falling for one of us mere mortals. **insert smiley face here as I’m only being humorous here**

This is the debut novel from Jane Matisse and I have to applaud her choice for her first story. The reason I say that is because this book is light, but I was still able to become emotionally attached to the characters, especially Penelope.

My blog is still fairly new, and so I’ve read a fair number of debut authors and one thing I see frequently is too many characters introduces too fast. Jane Matisse manages to avert this by placing her new characters in strategically, while still keeping the focus on Jack and Penelope.

So we already know that Penelope and Jack have a one-night- stand. But they reconnect unexpectedly when Celeste, Penelope’s sister, is getting married and has been friends with Jack since college on the east coast. One thing that did strike me odd was that Celeste asked Jack, whom she calls Jackie, to be her maid-of-honor. I know the necessity of this request, in terms of the story, but it still kept striking me as sort of odd. Yes, I know we live in a different type of world, but I think that I never really saw Celeste and Jack have the friendship shown in the book that would have warranted that. And Celeste seemed to have a lot of friends whom she could have asked. So like I said, I understood why the author made it that way, but it still struck me a bit odd.

When Penelope hears about Jackie, she’s obviously somewhat hurt, but assumes Jackie is a girl. Then they meet, for the second time. From there, the fun really begins. Penelope isn’t thin. Now she’s not obese either. I would say her size, based on the book, is average. But this story is set in California and after having a one-night-stand with someone who normally dates tall, thin, model types, you can certainly understand where Penelope assumes Jack has no interest in her at all.

But Jack actually can’t stop thinking about Penelope and even he is somewhat confused by it. He realizes that she isn’t his normal type, but he can’t stay away. I really appreciated that Jack and Penelope can have actual conversations. The reality is that as Jack gets to know Penelope more and more, he sees her physical beauty more and more.

Another facet that sort of confused me was Celeste, in general. She’s crucial to the story but she is so far in her own world, that I sort of ended up hating her. When the book starts, she’s berating Penelope for not going out more. Then as the wedding planning continues, she sort of thinks for Penelope, instead of actually talking to her. Even Celeste’s soon-to-be husband realizes that something is brewing between Jack and Penelope, but Celeste is in a bubble.  It never struck me as the bridezilla bubble, it just seemed like she was completely self-absorbed and selfish.

For myself, I really related to Penelope. I felt like the author possibly climbed inside my mind with the way Penelope sees herself. There is a point in the book where Penelope really lets Jack have a piece of her mind. Even though I was sad to see discord between them, I was really happy that she got it off her chest, because Jack needed to hear it. Later, we see a point where Penelope’s mother is talking about her (Penelope) weight and how she needs to lose weight and fix herself up so can find a man like Celeste has. Jack actually takes the chance and steps up to defend her.

I felt this was a really crucial moment in the story. The reason being is that women, whether its mothers, grandmothers, daughters, friends, etc, want to admit, we criticize each other all the time; sometimes not even knowing we’re doing it. Its done under the guise of “helping” or “tough love”. I knew exactly how Penelope was feeling in that moment and to see Jack come to her rescue in really the best way he can was fantastic.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. As I sat down to write my review, I was surprised when I realized that this was the author’s debut. Yes, there were parts that struck me a bit off, but at the same time, I was able to see why those parts were there. I’m really excited to see what Jane Matisse does next, because I truly think her work will continue to grow and advance and become more addicting that I already found it to be.

Here’s an excerpt:

 

Penelope groaned. They’d slept together again. Why did she insist on torturing herself? Although she was a teeny bit disappointed she couldn’t remember any of it.

Jack laughed at her and reached out to take her hand. “I’m just teasing. Nothing happened between us. You just snored. A lot. If getting a hangover doesn’t stop you from getting drunk again, then just keep in mind if you plan to go home with a guy, don’t drink yourself into a stupor beforehand. I thought a bear had sneaked into my apartment.” He laughed, chucking her chin and turning to the whistling kettle on the stove.

Penelope couldn’t stop the heat from taking over. She could just imagine the tomato color her face was sporting. “Does that mean you didn’t take me out of my clothes?” she managed to ask.

“I was surprised you were actually balanced enough to slide that little number off, especially with those fuck-me heels.” His eyes twinkled from above his mug of coffee.

Penelope wasn’t having any of it. “Ugh, stop. Just stop it. Be serious for once, please. No more of these double meanings and sexual innuendos. They’re getting a little annoying and the only thing I want to do right now is find my dress and get home.”

Jack just looked back at her, a serious expression on his face. “All right, truce. I’ll shut up for now. Deal?”

Advertisements

Darkest Journey by Heather Graham

darkestjourney

Darkest Journey by Heather Graham

They say it’s about the journey, not the destination… 

Charlene “Charlie” Moreau is back in St. Francisville, Louisiana, to work on a movie. One night, she stumbles across the body of a Civil War reenactor, the second murdered in two days. Charlie is shocked to learn that her father—a guide on the Journey, a historic paddle wheeler that’s sponsoring the reenactment—is a suspect. 

Meanwhile, Ethan Delaney, new to the FBI’s Krewe of Hunters, is brought in on the case. He and Charlie have a history of their own, dating back to when he rescued her from a graveyard—led there by a Confederate ghost! 

Charlie arranges a Mississippi River cruise so she and Ethan can get close to the reenactors, find out who knows what, who has a motive. They discover a lot more as they resume the relationship that ended ten years ago…but might die, along with them, on the Journey.

Please insert extreme words of happiness since I am a Krewe of Hunters fanatic and this is a new book in the Krewe of Hunters series. EEEEK! (I couldn’t help it, sorry).

I know I say this a lot about Heather Graham, but I feel the need to repeat it so you know that she has remained consistent with her talent: she does some of the best paranormal I have ever read. I always feel she presents it in a respectful way and while there is suspense and mystery, I never feel scared or like I am crossing into uncomfortable territory (especially in regards to my religious beliefs).

I really liked how Heather set this book up. We start in the past and meet Charlene when she is pledging a group in high school called The Cherubs and as an “initiation”, they tie her to a tombstone, even though there is a serial killer on the loose. Enter in Ethan, who finds Charlie and helps her, and essentially saves her life in the process.

Then we flash forward to present time. Charlie has moved onto acting and has done small parts here and there, and is presently filming a movie in her hometown. But then two men are murdered and Charlie finds one of the bodies. She makes a call to her friends, Alexi and Clara (who we met in previous Krewe of Hunters books), and they get the ball rolling. Then Ethan Delaney comes back to Louisiana. Now, years later, he’s a federal agent with the Krewe of Hunters.

One aspect of this book I really enjoyed is that Ethan and Charlie have a history together. They never dated but they were definitely interested in each other. Both can see ghosts and are aware that each other has that gift. Their families know about this as well, even if they don’t entirely share the same gift. I liked this part because I felt it allowed for a more open dialogue between Charlie and Ethan from the start. In past books, there is usually someone who can see things but doesn’t say anything because they don’t want to be seen as crazy or aren’t sure if they, themselves, are losing their mind. So I felt that taking a different route with Charlie and Ethan was a small, but beneficial, move on Heather Graham’s part.

I’ve read so many mystery books but I can tell you that Heather Graham ALWAYS keeps me on my toes. She is one of the few authors who I can never figure out who the culprit is. I’ve read over 15 books of hers and not once have I figured out who did it before the end of the book.

To me, that says a lot about how well the book is written. If you’ve read any mystery book, not just Heather Graham, you always end up meeting a host of characters. I mean, the characters are investigating a mystery and they end up talking to a lot of new characters. Somehow, with Heather Graham though, she does it in a way that I don’t feel overwhelmed or overtaken by so many people coming and going (between real people and spirits).

I also love that we get to spend time with other Krewe members from other books. This one, in particular, we get Jude, Jackson, Clara, Alexi, Thor, and Angela (I sincerely hope I didn’t forget anyone). The other nice part about this is that, for example, if this was your first Krewe of Hunters book, or you haven’t read every book in the series, you can still read this book and enjoy it. Heather keeps everything flowing smoothly.

I really loved this book. This probably rivals as one of my favorite Krewe of Hunters books, in all honesty. In these last three Krewe of Hunters books, everything was tied together (loosely) through a cruise ship line. As a longtime reader of Heather Graham, I appreciate that she can come up with new approaches to her stories but yet still remain authentic to what her readers know and love about her.

Moto by M.Never

motocover

Moto by M. Never

What’s harder than resisting one Dane man? Resisting two.

I don’t date bikers. It’s my one cardinal rule. No rough, rugged, tattooed egotistical maniacs on two wheels. Even if they are gorgeous, brilliant, and sport the prefix Doctor. Bottom line, bikers are nothing but trouble.

T.R.O.U.B.L.E

Dr. Devlin Dane has had his sights set on my panties for months. But I’ve done a stellar job of fending him off. As Mercy Medical’s most eligible bachelor, he has no problem in the panty dropping department. He’s tall, dark, and inked all over. I get the appeal, I’m not dead. I’m not stupid either. He’s a walking heartbreak waiting to happen.
But when Reese Dane comes crashing into my life – literally- the game suddenly changes.
Reese, the dark, brooding, motorcycle racing champion, knows exactly how to apply the right pressure on and off the track.

The two have an unstoppable pull like centrifugal force, and both bad boy bikers are determined to take me on a high-powered ride I’ll never forget…

*MOTO is an unconventional (ménage) standalone novel. Spare panties and a box of tissues may be required.

So I bought this book back in July (according to Amazon) and I’ve been reading it off and on and finally was like, finish this book already. I just kept getting sidetracked with other books but I always kept this one right up front so I would see it and remember. So this morning, at 3AM when I couldn’t sleep, I finally finished it.

I will be entirely honest and say that books that lean more towards erotica are not totally my thing. I don’t mind them occasionally but I don’t tend to lean in that direction. The reason being that a lot of times, I find the sex scenes just overpower the characters and everything else becomes tiny compared to non-stop sex. Like seriously, I’ve read books where my vagina hurts, imagining all the pounding, thrusting, stretching that happens non-stop.

But I had heard a lot about this book and it sounded intriguing so I decided to buy it. So lets start with the fact that Dev and Reese are not only brothers, but twins. Dev has been trying to get with Kayla for awhile now, but she always turns him down. Reese comes crashing, literally, into Kayla’s life. Thus, the adventure begins.

Dev and Reese are so similar, yet so different. They both have very different priorities in life. Reese is a famous motorcycle racing champion, and Dev is a cardiologist. Both are attractive and really have no problem finding a woman to keep them company. Kayla, on the other hand, is a nurse who wants nothing to do with bikers. She won’t deny that she finds Dev attractive, but she has spurned his advances otherwise. Reese also tries his hand and is somewhat more successful but again, Kayla turns him down. Things change once she spends more time with Reese, helping him heal after his motorcycle crash.

I’m just going to be upfront, Kayla ends up having a ménage relationship with both brothers. Everyone is fine with it for awhile but eventually, Reese has to leave to continue racing. As time goes by, and Reese returns, Dev doesn’t want to keep doing the shared relationship.

One aspect I really liked about this book is that both men do love Kayla, and she loves them. Its never just about the sex for these three, and I actually have a lot of respect that M.Never chose to write the book that way. Yes, they enjoy the sex, but the love is there too.

There were a couple pieces of the book that threw me off. There is the back story with Kayla’s friend, Becca, who died in a motorcycle accident. This is the reason she doesn’t ride bikes anymore, and the men reference her in the book many times with gifts they give to Kayla, but I just kept feeling like I would hear more about her and then never did.

Then we hear about a drug scandal rocking the community and how Sam, Kayla’s aunt, is working on the case and was very worried about Kayla. The reason this threw me off a bit was because at one point, Kayla takes a photo of a license plate and sends it to her aunt to follow up on. Later, the aunt is very cryptic but wanting to ensure that no one knows Kayla sent it to her. So I thought the book was going to follow onto some sort of revenge, or just anything, but it never did. These factors are just minor side stories happening in the overall story, but I will admit I kept expecting both to make more of a big appearance and they never really did.

I don’t want to spoil this book for anyone so I can’t comment more on what happens to our trio. But I will say that I was shocked by the ending. I was actually in complete shock. Mind you, its 3am and I’m trying to be quiet in bed, but I gasped quite loudly because I did NOT see the ending coming.

With that said, I admired how M.Never chose to end the book. There sort of comes a point in the book where you realize that they can’t continue this relationship going for forever, especially when both men care about Kayla tremendously and she has changed their lives.

I’m really happy I branched out of my comfort zone with this book. I felt like M.Never took sensitive topics, or even taboo topics, and made them okay. Where normally, you might have more shock value. I never felt that was done with this book. It was done in an adult way. That sounds strange but its really the best way I could think of to say it. All three are interested in each other and they explore that. Its as simple as that.

A Mortal Song by Megan Crewe

amortalsong

A Mortal Song by Megan Crewe

Sora’s life was full of magic—until she discovered it was all a lie.

Heir to Mt. Fuji’s spirit kingdom, Sora yearns to finally take on the sacred kami duties. But just as she confronts her parents to make a plea, a ghostly army invades the mountain. Barely escaping with her life, Sora follows her mother’s last instructions to a heart-wrenching discovery: she is a human changeling, raised as a decoy while her parents’ true daughter remained safe but unaware in modern-day Tokyo. Her powers were only borrowed, never her own. Now, with the world’s natural cycles falling into chaos and the ghosts plotting an even more deadly assault, it falls on her to train the unprepared kami princess.

As Sora struggles with her emerging human weaknesses and the draw of an unanticipated ally with secrets of his own, she vows to keep fighting for her loved ones and the world they once protected. But for one mortal girl to make a difference in this desperate war between the spirits, she may have to give up the only home she’s ever known.

With its breathtaking action, heart-wrenching conflict, and unexpected romance, this vivid standalone YA fantasy will delight fans of Julie Kagawa and Laini Taylor.

So I follow Megan Crewe on social media and she was talking about this book, before it came out. It intrigued me, even though its more out of my normal realm.

Just to be up front, when I started, I was a bit overwhelmed with the different names and beliefs. I was initially nervous because I was afraid it would be hard for me to keep everything straight. But it wasn’t once I got further into the story. I would say by Chapter 4, I knew I’d be fine. So realize that the first few chapters are where you’re learning the backstory and then the book just takes off from there.

This book was absolutely magical. Megan Crewe brings Japan to life in a way that I had never thought to look at it before. I felt like I was right there with Sora and Takeo, and everyone else. You could visually see the environments they were travelling through as the story weaves through Tokyo, Mt. Fuji, and other areas of Japan.

While we are seeing this battle happen between ghosts and the kamis, we are also seeing Sora battling through the new life that she had no idea about. I really felt for Sora. There is a scene, fairly early in the book, where Sora and Takeo meet with Sage Rin, who had told Sora’s “parents” about the prophecy, which then initiated the swap to keep the real kami princess safe. Sora is unsure about everything she is learning and Sage Rin is telling her that the vision isn’t always accurate.

As the story continues on, we see Sage Rin bring that point up to Sora again. I don’t want to leave any spoilers in my review, but as a reader, I took this as the lesson that we often hear about a “self-fulfilling prophecy”.  I don’t know if a truly YA aged reader would pick up on that, but I did and I thought it was a great lesson for Sora to learn, even though I don’t think she fully grasps it until very near the end of the story.

There is just enough romance in this book to add an extra element, but it never overpowers the story, nor does it become the focal point of the story. I actually thought this was a smart move. You have Sora and Takeo, who have very different values than Chiyo (true kami princess), and her human boyfriend, Haru, and their friend, Keiji. So even though we see Sora and Keiji have a connection, and they share a few kisses, it never overtakes the story. Which makes sense to me. Takeo and Sora know they are Mt. Fuji’s only hope since they are the only two who, at the beginning, have gotten off of Mt. Fuji.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. As I said, initially I was nervous that I would have a hard time keeping everything straight since the names and locations are not as familiar to me. But I didn’t. The story kept me intrigued and guessing the entire time. I would definitely recommend this book, and it would also be a fantastic option for younger readers (I’d say in the teenage age range).

To Have And To Hold by Lauren Layne

laurenlayne

To Have And To Hold by Lauren Layne

Discovering her fiancé is an international con man just moments before they exchange vows devastates celebrity wedding planner Brooke Baldwin’s business—and breaks her heart. Now a pariah in Los Angeles, she seeks a fresh start in New York City and thinks she’s found it with her first bridal client, a sweet—if slightly spoiled—hotel heiress. Then she meets the uptight businessman who’s holding the purse strings.

Seth Tyler wishes he could write a blank check and be done with his sister Maya’s fancy-pants wedding. Unfortunately, micromanaging the event is his only chance at proving Maya’s fiancé is a liar. Standing directly in his way is the stunning blonde wedding planner whose practiced smiles and sassy comebacks both irritate and arouse him. He needs Brooke’s help. But can he persuade a wedding planner on a comeback mission to unplan a wedding? And more importantly, how will he convince her that the wedding she should be planning…is theirs?

So I have a confession. I hate weddings. I’m actually supposed to go to a wedding in October and I’m dreading it. I didn’t even want to go to my own wedding. When I look back at my own wedding, I’m always wishing I had just eloped and called it a day. With all that said, you’re probably wondering why I chose this book to read. Well, Rachel VanDyken had posted the synopsis several times (she and Lauren Layne are friends), and as a book hoarder, how could I resist?

I actually read the paperback of this. It was only a few dollars over the kindle cost, so if you enjoy a true paperback, you can snag this baby for a great price.

All that aside…I loved this book. I thought Lauren Layne did a really great job at balancing the characters. Initially, we meet a fair amount of characters. Obviously, Brooke and Seth. But we meet the other women working at The Wedding Belles, along with employees and friends of Seth, and also his sister, Maya and her fiancé, Neil.

In a lot of books, there are just too many characters swirling around and I can’t keep track of them all. I admired how Lauren was able to walk that fine line of having many characters, but you never lost the core story of Brooke and Seth. So even though we see issues with Maya and Neil, Brooke and Seth are still very present. We see Brooke with her co-workers but again, we never lose the story of Seth and Brooke in everything else that is happening.

One major facet that I really appreciated is that we see Seth and Brooke both grow past issues they have from old relationships. But its done very subtly. Its not like either one needs to have some huge epiphany to realize what went wrong in the past. No one has some major “ah ha” moment. But you can see as they spend more time together, they realize what was lacking for them before and it was like I could see the gears in their minds working; learning, realizations, moving beyond the past.

Obviously, from the synopsis, we know that Brooke was utterly humiliated on her wedding day. In the book, her co-workers, and even Seth, ask her if she ever plans on talking to Clay (her ex) again, to gain closure. Brooke always declines. But there is a point where she finally breaks down and its to Seth. For me, that was one of my favorite moments. Not because I wanted to see Brooke hurt, but the fact that she turned to Seth was the real turning point in their relationship for me. That is when you knew Brooke trusted him with her heart and her true feelings on the matter.

Lauren also inserts some “Sex and the City” references which I loved. I have always been a huge fan of SATC and I don’t know how you can be a woman of a certain age and be in New York City and NOT be mentally making SATC references in your own mind. We see that when Brooke sees Seth with his car and driver. She immediately thinks of Mr. Big. It was funny because even though its been a long time, I immediately thought of when Mr. Big first takes Carrie home in his car and she asks if he’s ever been in love and he says “Abso-fuckin-lutely”. Ah, fond memories of SATC.

I would abso-fucking-lutely recommend this book. Lauren balances this book so perfectly and I was about a third of the way through this book and the second book came out, and I snagged it quickly. So for someone who is NOT a wedding person to love a series about wedding planning should tell you its a well done book (and I assume the rest of the series will be fantastic too).

Why Lie? by Carey Heywood

cover-2

There is another book in this series, but this could be read as a standalone.

Why Now? – Released March 22, 2016

 He was my everything.
I loved him.
For over twenty years.
And everyone knew, including him.
But he never loved me back.
Not once.
Not ever.
So I moved on.
Until now.
Now he’s back, and wants to make me his.
He’s everything I’ve ever wanted.
I should be happy.
But there’s one problem.
My fiancé.

Amazon – http://amzn.to/2cbvSSv

 

Why Lie? by Carey Heywood

People here think they know me.

They assume things about me because of the way I dress and my tattoos.
I am so much more.

I thought you saw that.

So, I let you in.

You made it easy to fall for you.
Turns out I was the only one falling.
I hope you’re happy.
No, that’s a lie and you’re better than I am at telling those.

I have a confession: I judged a book by its cover. I remember seeing the cover for “Why Lie?” somewhere on social media and I just remember being sort of mesmerized by this cover. I thought it was beautiful and I loved how the couple faded into the flowers. So I found Carey Heywood and now here we are.

First, I have to say that I loved how Carey Heywood set this book up. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I will say that a lot of the drama happens right up front. Which, to be entirely honest, I found refreshing and really nice. I can say its the first time in a long time that I didn’t spend the book waiting for the other shoe to drop. I know some readers might not like that, but for me, I appreciated the switch.

We start the story by meeting Sydney Fairlane and Heath Mackey. Basically, they are hooking up but its the beginning stages. But Heath makes a big mistake and in small town like Ferncliff, everyone sees your every move. No matter how he tries to fix his mistake, Sydney is not here for it.

I admired Sydney’s resolve. She wasn’t being an idiot. Heath royally screws up. She isn’t afraid to tell him how he hurt her, and that she doesn’t trust him anymore. I really loved that her character was able to communicate with him, but also was able to look inward at her own behavior. While Heath does make this mistake, Sydney learns the whole story and sees things a little differently. She doesn’t deny that her feelings were still hurt, but she can understand more of why Heath made the (absolutely moronic) choice he did.

Heath is just…wow. I know, as readers, we might have a lot of book boyfriends. But I felt like Heath was about as close to a real man as I’ve seen. I mean this in terms of his actions. I know we all love an alpha male who can give the heroine this incredible sex and love life that is just intense. But as much as we love that, its not entirely realistic. Which is okay, books are meant to give us a break from real life. But when you realize some of the back story with Heath’s family and his mother, his actions truly fit the character.

When you see everything his family is experiencing and then he’s helping Sydney as well, you can’t help but love his character even more. I feel like my review is being somewhat vague, but if I elaborate, I’m scared I’ll be giving you guys spoilers and since I really loved this book, I would hate to ruin it for someone else.

Another facet in this story is friendship and who your true friends are. It’s an underlying theme, but its there and its woven into the story subtly but you can still see it. This really pertains to Sydney where she has two friends who really…I don’t want to say betray her, but really show their true colors. I loved that Sydney could stand up for herself, but also forgive others when it was appropriate. I felt she had such great balance, in terms of knowing what is and what is not okay in terms of how others treated her.

This book really touched me on an emotional level. I know that I should say Sydney and Heath’s love story was just the icing on the cake for me, but it was actually the emotion that filled the book that really pulled me in. Sydney and Heath experience some real life situations that are terrible and the way Carey Heywood wrote them brought me to tears. It was beautiful. I actually sent her several messages as I was reading the book because she was really pulling emotions out of me that I was not expecting to feel.

I was absolutely in love with this book. I even loved the way she ended the book. It felt appropriate for the characters. The more I read, the more I fell in love with the characters and I felt like Carey Heywood did them right by the way the book ends.

So based on this review, I would recommend it to everyone and their mother. I would rate it as one of my favorite books of the year (and based on the Goodreads challenge, I’ve read over 50 some odd books so far this year). So saying I would rate it as one of my favorites of the year is really saying something.

I’m going to post an excerpt below:

Popping up on my elbow, I watch as he moves to the bathroom to take care of the condom. My eyes linger on his muscular back and oh so grabbable ass.

He was amazing.

Ah-mazing.

Sure, we tumbled into bed pretty fast but it didn’t end up being the wham bam thank you ma’am I was scared it would be. Nope, this was something. It was new but it was something more than just sex.

He was into me and I’m so into him it isn’t even funny. Scary thing is, he’s such a nice guy even my parents would approve, and they hate any guy I normally like.

Nope, he’s different and for every night this week, he’s been all mine. Flopping back onto my pillows, I sigh just remembering how all mine he’s been.

I was working a closing shift at Lola’s, the diner my family ran. It had been a complete shit night with two waitresses calling out. I was up to my elbows in work covering for the both of them. Then he surprised the hell out of me by offering to help. We weren’t strangers; in a town as small as Ferncliff that’s impossible. Still, we were friendly, but we weren’t friends. We ran with different crowds.

He was like the apple pie he always seemed to order, where I was a cupcake covered in sprinkles.

After trying and failing to get someone else to come in, I had taken him up on his offer. I can’t remember the last time I had that much fun working. The entire night felt like foreplay. At the time I thought it was all in my head. I can be a flirt and I didn’t think I was his type. It was when he stayed to help clean and close up that it became clear he was flirting back.

After everyone else was gone, I asked if he’d like to come up to my place for a drink. He said yes. We never did have a drink. Nope, we were kissing before I even had the door opened.

He has been in my bed every night since.

At the sound of his footsteps, I lift my head. The front view is just as good, if not better than the back. He laughs at my blatant appraisal.

“Keep looking at me like that and you won’t be going to sleep anytime soon,” he murmurs, lying down next to me and pulling me into his arms.

“Maybe I’m not as tired as I thought,” I reply.

It’s a lie though. As much as I would want to play on the jungle gym that is his insanely hot body, there’s only so much sex instead of sleep my body can handle. All I want to do is pass out. Since he’s as comfy as he is hot, it’s likely that will happen in the next couple of seconds.

“What are you doing tomorrow night?” he asks, nuzzling the sensitive spot behind my ear.

“I have to close,” I reply.

“I’m meeting up with some friends. It sucks you’re working.”

Hiding my smile at the fact he admitted he wanted to introduce me to his friends, I kiss the underside of his jaw. “You can come here after.”

Since Ferncliff is a small town, I already know who his friends are. They all seem cool; I’m just not close with any of them.

His arms tighten around me. “I’ll probably be out late and you need to catch up on sleep.”

I lift my head and squint down at him. “Why do you have to be so logical?”

He grins up at me, pushing forward to press his lips to mine.

“Stop being cute and go back to sleep.”

“I’m not that tired,” I yawn.

He grins. Putting his hand to the back of my head, he pulls me back down. I don’t fight it. I settle in and, with a happy smile, I crash.

What seems like an instant later, he gets out of bed to turn off his alarm. “Go back to sleep.” He issues his command and seals it with a kiss to my forehead.

“Bossy,” I grumble, before drifting off again.

When I open my eyes again, he’s already showered and dressed. After our third sleepover in a row, he brought an overnight bag. His dark blond hair is still wet. It’s not fair how sexy he looks freshly showered and in one of his suits.

“Come back to bed,” I plead.

He grabs his shoes and comes to sit on the bed next to me. “I wish.”

Curving my body around him, I rest my cheek to his thigh. He pushes my hair back from my face, his fingertips caressing my earlobe. My eyes flutter closed at his gentle touch. He seriously has it all.

It sucks to say but before him, I was under the impression that I have had amazing sex in my life. One night with him proved me wrong and each night since has only reinforced that.

“Are you sure you don’t want to come over tonight?” I ask.

“It’s not about want. You have to work and I can’t bail on my friends. Trust me, I’ll want to be here instead.”

I smile up at him. “Okay.”

He kisses me, this time long and hard before he goes. Happily, I doze until my stomach demands I get up to feed it.

My day flies by in the way that time does and I head downstairs. One amazing perk about living in the apartment above Lola’s was no commute. I walk to the convenience store and buy a Heath bar. I always loved them and now they’ve turned into a private joke with myself. I am such a dork.

Admitting that to myself won’t stop me from eating this candy bar once my shift is over, lusting after the guy who shares its name. Once I’m back upstairs in my apartment I pull it out of the bag and set it on my table. Snapping a pic of my candy bar, I text it to him, adding that I’d rather have the real thing.

My phone vibrates in my hand before I have a chance to set it down. Grinning, I answer it.

“Hey.”

“Hey back.”

“Did you like my pic?” I ask.

He chuckles before replying, “I can think of a few other things I wouldn’t mind a pic of.”

Naughty man!

“No flirting since I don’t get to see you tonight,” I return.

“It’s only one night.”

Yes, it’s one night but I’ll miss seeing him.

“At least I have a chocolatey stand in,” I tease, trying not to let on how bummed I am.

“I’ll give you that, but no apple pie without me.”

“Ever?” I giggle.

He’s serious when he replies, “Yep.”

Silly as it sounds, planning future apple pie dates gives me a thrill. This thing that we have going is moving at light speed. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Gigi told me she took one look at Pop and knew she was going to marry him one day. It wasn’t love at first sight for me, but love at first night.

“Deal,” I whisper.

We say our good-byes since I need to finish getting ready for work. Deciding to save it for one of my breaks, I slip my candy bar into the pocket of my apron and hurry downstairs to start my shift.

As usual, we have a busy dinner rush. During each lull, I find my mind wandering to him. Each time I can’t help but smile to myself already looking forward to the next time we’ll see each other.

Work keeps me from daydreaming about him for too long and by the end of the night, I’m grateful for the chance to catch up on sleep. After I indulge in my chocolaty Heath goodness, I get ready for bed. My small apartment never felt this lonely before.

It hasn’t been that long but I already miss him. His scent, a faint hint of the cologne I’ve come to adore, clings to my sheets. I bury my face into them, inhaling deeply, wishing he was here with me. Hugging my pillow, my last thought before sinking fully to sleep is how much nicer it is to fall asleep in his arms.

It’s my alarm that wakes me the next morning. In my infinite wisdom, I scheduled myself a morning shift after a closing one. With Gigi slowly passing the reins of Lola’s diner over to me, she’s been having me make the schedule.

So far I’m still getting the hang of it. It seems the only person’s schedule I keep screwing up is my own. That’s what I get for trying to accommodate everyone’s requests by squeezing myself to cover all the holes. Wiping sleep from my eyes, the prospect of a giant cup of coffee once I get downstairs has me moving.

There’s already a line of folks waiting when one of our morning waitresses opens the door. It’s not like our hours have changed in the past few decades. Wiping down the counter, I greet folks as they come in. We don’t have hostesses; Lola’s is seat yourself. Most of the morning crowd opts for the stools along the counter.

I’m pouring Hank Furlong a mug of coffee when I hear something that doesn’t compute. Setting down the coffee pot next to the mug, I move down the counter in a daze.

“What did you just say?” I ask.

Aaron Daniels blinks up at me. “About Heath Mackey and Kacey Albright getting engaged?”

Oh God, I had heard him right. My stomach falls, crashing down like a bird shot out of the sky.

“They got engaged?” I ask in a robotic tone.

I’m there but not there. Half of me waits for Aaron to reply while the other half spirits away to comb through still fresh memories of him holding me, kissing me, and making my body his.

Gossip moves through this town like wildfire. There is no way I missed them dating. The last I heard, Kacey still held a torch for Jake Whitmore. It didn’t even matter that he pretty much lived on an oilrig off the coast. No, Heath was single. Unless part of the reason he had been so discreet with me was to keep Kacey from finding out.

It was nothing short of a miracle that no one clued into his spending every night this week at my place. I had assumed it was because we were new. That’s why I hadn’t spilled the beans to anyone. How could I be so wrong about him?

He nods. “I was sitting at the table next to them. Bought them a round to congratulate them even though they were both well on their ways to celebrating.”

My entire frame is so tense I wouldn’t be surprised if one wrong move would send me splintering off into a thousand pieces. “Is that right?” I manage.

He nods happily, having no idea of my internal turmoil. “About time that Albright girl stopped mooning over Jake Whitmore. That boy is in the wind. Jake’s not ever going to settle down. Heath’s a nice young man and she’s a sweet little thing. I’m happy for them.”

Mentally, I stand them up, side by side, Heath and Kacey. Aaron’s words echo inside my head, “Nice young man, sweet little thing, nice young man, sweet little thing.”

It’s obvious the stark difference between Kacey and me. She’s not the type of girl to fall into bed with. She’s the kind of girl you marry. Not once this past week did shame for sleeping with Heath even enter my mind, until now.

Heath isn’t the first mistake I’ve made in the romance department. That doesn’t mean this blow doesn’t hurt. Before him, somehow, someway, part of me always had an inkling or a whisper of proceeding cautiously. Not with Heath, though. Nope. I was ready to hand him my heart that first night.

For the first time ever I was a hundred percent myself with someone. I was happy and excited, basking in how right we were together. We fit in a way that seemed special.

What happened? I don’t understand. He woke up in my bed yesterday morning.

“Thanks,” I numbly nod and walk away.

Each step sends a painful jolt up my body. Each step reminds me of what I had foolishly ignored our first night together. He was out of my league. It seems a better option was available to him, so he took it.

The chatter at the diner only increases, Heath and Kacey’s name coming at me over and over again like attacking bees. The sting proves to be more than I can handle.

It’s not every day you find out the man you’ve been falling in love with just got engaged to someone else.

 

 

Playboy Pilot…SNEAK PEAK!

playboypilot

This is an exclusive sneak peek of Playboy Pilot.

(A standalone novel)

Release date 9/19/2016

A Contemporary Romance novel

New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Authors

Penelope Ward & Vi Keeland

**********

Excerpt

The driver began to shout something in Portuguese. The way his finger was wagging, I assumed he was telling the person that the cab was full. But the passenger didn’t listen. Next thing I knew, I was sitting next to someone in the back seat.

Someone wearing a uniform.

Captain Carter Clynes in the flesh.

He turned to face me with a wicked grin on his face. “My layover just got more interesting.”

Damn. He seemed to have grown that stubble overnight.

“How was your flight, Perky? Did you enjoy the ride I gave you?”

“My shirt’s dry. I think you can drop the Perky.”

His eyes lowered to my breasts. Of course, my nipples were standing at full attention since the sheen of sweat on my skin had met the cool air-conditioning inside the cab.

Carter scrubbed his hands over his face. “Damn. You weren’t kidding about those things. I haven’t slept in eighteen hours, and they just woke me up. I think they’re contagious, and I’m fucking perky now.”

“That’s not really an appropriate thing to say to a woman you just met, you know.”

“We didn’t just meet. This is our third date.”

“Third date?”

“I bought you dinner in an elegant restaurant for our first one and took you up for a plane ride for our second one. Those were damn good dates. Some women would kill for that kind of lavishness. Seems fitting date three we should be heading to a hotel.” He winked.

I wasn’t sure if it was the time change, my being tired from restless sleep on the plane, or if it was possible this man could say anything and I wouldn’t be offended. Why am I not I offended?

When I didn’t respond, he continued. “I’m glad I saw you. Didn’t think I would ever see you again.”

“That might be because you didn’t look for me.”

“I never thought you’d actually take my suggestion and fly to Brazil.”

I mumbled. “Neither did I.”

The cab driver interrupted, looking between us to ask, “You share cab, yes?”

Surprising me, Carter answered. In Portuguese. The language that sounded choppy and frustrating just two minutes ago, suddenly sounded sexy and romantic.

He turned back to me in English. “What hotel are you staying at?”

“I was just trying to figure that out with a little help from Google. Do you have one to recommend?”

“You trust me to pick out where you’ll stay tonight?”

I considered his question for a minute. It was illogical, that much I knew, but I did trust him to pick my hotel. Lord knows why. “I think I do.”

That response earned me another sexy grin that had me more excited than I’d been in the last year.

Almost a half-hour later, we were finally off the highway and traveling into what looked like a residential neighborhood. “Barra da Tijuca.” I read the street sign aloud.

“Very good. I should probably warn you. It’s probably not the type of hotel you’re used to.”

“What does that mean?”

“You look like you’re more of the luxury chain with a spa type of woman, that’s all.”

Even though that was exactly what I’d typed into Google, when he said it that way, it sounded like a bad thing. It made me defensive. “And what’s wrong with a luxury hotel? Sometimes a girl needs a massage and a soak in a nice bathtub while traveling.”

“Well, you certainly won’t be getting either of those where we’re heading.” Carter caught my eye. “Unless I’m the one doing the massaging, that is.”

I blushed, which caused Carter to chuckle. “You really are fucking adorable. I’m not sure what’s sexier, the fact that you’re up for letting me take you on this little adventure, or that you secretly like the thought of me giving you a massage.”

“I do not!” My quick, defensive response only confirmed he was right.

He leaned to me. “Do, too.”

“You’re off base.”

“That’s a shame. I’ve been told I’m really good with my hands.” He held out his hands in front of him, examining them. Big hands. Hands that looked like he used them to do some actual work when he wasn’t flying a plane.

Damn.

★★★★

We hope you enjoyed this extended preview!

Available for Pre-order on iBooks, Nook and Kobo now!

iBooks: http://apple.co/1rGw4LB

Nook: bit.ly/2caXPEK

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2cJDXO1

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2c5WiRm

Paperback pre-order: http://amzn.to/2ctOkoz

Add Playboy Pilot to your TBR list on Goodreads!

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29533192-playboy-pilot

Sign up for Penelope & Vi’s mailing list now and be the first one notified of releases! http://eepurl.com/brAPo9

Blurb

From the New York Times bestselling authors of Stuck-Up Suit and Cocky Bastard, comes a sexy new standalone novel.

Money or love? Which would you choose? 

You probably just answered the question in your head thinking it’s an easy decision.

For me, it’s not. Did I mention it’s a lot of money? A hell of a lot.

I needed to go far away to think it through.

As I embarked on an impulsive trip, I hit a detour when I met sexy Carter in the airport lounge. We struck up a heated conversation.

Then, he left.

I thought I’d never see him again.

But fate had other plans.

Surprise! He was the pilot of my flight.

The bigger surprise was the adventure that followed after the plane landed.

Carter was dangerous and always on the move.

Even though our connection was magnetic, I knew it was only temporary.

He would give me tickets, and I would follow him around the world to exotic places.

A bevvy of flight attendant exes and rumors about Carter’s reputation were never far behind.

I didn’t know what to believe.

But I was addicted. Nothing else mattered anymore. And I was going to get hurt. Because a part of me wanted to be the one to finally ground the playboy pilot.

At the very least, he was taking me on a thrilling ride.

All good things must come to an end, right?

Except our ending was one I didn’t see coming.

Meet Penelope Ward

pward

 

Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of eleven novels. Her books have placed on the New York Times bestseller list fourteen times. She is the proud mother of a beautiful 11-year-old girl with autism (the inspiration for the character Callie in Gemini) and a 10-year-old boy. Penelope, her husband and kids reside in Rhode Island.

Stalk Her: Facebook | Website | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads | Private Fan Group

Other books from Penelope Ward

Neighbor Dearest

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2aS8BPa

iBooks: http://apple.co/29mC6L8

Nook: http://bit.ly/2akQ2aq

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2axt1SY

Stepbrother Dearest

Amazon  http://amzn.to/1mFNMeg

iBooks: http://bit.ly/YER0mT

Nook: http://bit.ly/1taMFjG

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1fJaaBs

RoomHate

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1TksrpE

iBooks: http://apple.co/1PgsvE7

Nook: http://bit.ly/1PLGnSL 

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1POvSnW

Sins of Sevin

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1F9tbc3

iBooks: http://apple.co/1K8mzGg

Nook: http://bit.ly/1hTKAKE

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1OaGY3D

Jake Undone (Jake #1)

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1dJrHBC

iBooks: http://apple.co/1fJayQ8

Nook: http://bit.ly/1obAwJ6

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1SPKl0M

My Skylar

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1obOG2F

iBooks: http://bit.ly/SLNOTR

Nook: http://bit.ly/SLO1qi

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1kNrtAB

Jake Understood (Jake #2)

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1GFdves

iBooks: http://apple.co/1DQQwgC

Nook: http://bit.ly/1FwJC0z

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1LQ7Fvk

Gemini

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1vgk1SE

iBooks: http://apple.co/1QTaONj

Nook: http://bit.ly/1KfmLHD

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1BGJ2wu

*************************

Meet Vi Keeland

vikeeland

Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal Bestselling author. With more than a million books sold, her titles have appeared in over fifty Bestseller lists and are currently translated in ten languages. She lives in New York with her husband and their three children where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.

 Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Pinterest

Other books from Vi Keeland

Life on Stage series (2 standalone books)

Beat

http://www.amazon.com/Beat-Vi-Keeland-ebook/dp/B00ZOMUV12/

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/beat-vi-keeland/1121715501

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/beat/id983959123

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/beat-5

Throb

http://www.amazon.com/Throb-Vi-Keeland-ebook/dp/B00SS2RYBU

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/throb-vi-keeland/1121112695

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/throb-4

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/throb/id948747986

MMA Fighter series (3 standalone books)

Worth the Fight

http://www.amazon.com/Worth-Fight-Vi-Keeland-ebook/dp/B00FLG5B9S

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/worth-the-fight-vi-keeland/1117014180

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/worth-the-fight

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/worth-the-fight/id805540252

Worth the Chance

http://www.amazon.com/Worth-Chance-Vi-Keeland-ebook/dp/B00I2UKQOK

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/worth-the-chance-vi-keeland/1118634058

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/worth-the-chance/id813714461

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/worth-the-chance

Worth Forgiving

http://www.amazon.com/Worth-Forgiving-Vi-Keeland-ebook/dp/B00MWL78EG

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/worth-forgiving-vi-keeland/1120173153

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/worth-forgiving

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/worth-forgiving/id906130022?ls=1&mt=11

The Cole Series (2 book serial)

Belong to You

http://www.amazon.com/Belong-You-A-Cole-Novel-ebook/dp/B00BUTCXLE/

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/belong-to-you-vi-keeland/1114962845

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/belong-to-you/id639401754

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/belong-to-you

Made for You

http://www.amazon.com/Made-You-A-Cole-Novel-ebook/dp/B00DPWVKS6

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/made-for-you-vi-keeland/1115883225

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/made-for-you/id84550637

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/belong-to-you

Standalone novels

Bossman

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2a8D5B6

iBooks: http://apple.co/25x2jyX

B&N: http://bit.ly/29sL4H2

Kobo: http://bit.ly/29lW19I
Google Play: http://bit.ly/29JqkL2

The Baller

Amazon: amzn.to/1PBF2hG

iBooks: http://bit.ly/iBooksBaller 

B&N: http://bit.ly/BarnesBaller 

Kobo: http://bit.ly/KoboBaller

Google Play: http://bit.ly/GoogleBaller

Left Behind (A Young Adult Novel)

http://www.amazon.com/Left-Behind-Vi-Keeland-ebook/dp/B00OJM92LI/

First Thing I See

http://www.amazon.com/First-Thing-See-Vi-Keeland-ebook/dp/B00AWXY3HG

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/first-thing-i-see-ms-vi-keeland/1114703332

Other books from Penelope Ward & Vi Keeland

Stuck-Up Suit

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1VK66ll

iBooks: http://apple.co/1Qbwy57

B&N: http:// bit.ly/1UC8wDC

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1RJdUif

Cocky Bastard

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1LfN3fc

iBooks:  http://apple.co/1PffE2J

Kobo:  http://bit.ly/1UxCSUO

B&N:  http://bit.ly/1EjxNpY