Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Way to Game the Walk of Shame by Jenn P. Nguyen

Title: The Way to Game the Walk of Shame
Author: Jenn P Nguyen
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Release Date: June 7, 2016
Publisher: Swoon Reads

Taylor Simmons is screwed.

Things were hard enough when her single-minded dedication to her studies earned her the reputation of being an Ice Queen, but after getting drunk at a party and waking up next to bad boy surfer Evan McKinley, the entire school seems intent on tearing Taylor down with mockery and gossip.

Desperate to salvage her reputation, Taylor persuades Evan to pretend they’re in a serious romantic relationship. After all, it’s better to be the girl who tames the wild surfer than just another notch on his surfboard.

1. What is the biggest influence/interest that brought you to this genre?
Definitely my love for Asian dramas. Specifically Korean dramas. I’ve watched so many of these dramas my whole life that I’ve sort of programmed myself to always have a romantic storyline in anything that I write. Plus the format of these dramas are very similar to books. They’re generally about twenty episodes and each episode is like a chapter. I think this is why I always visualize my novel like a movie when I plot.

2. When writing a book, what is your favorite part of the creative process(outline, plot, character names, editing, etc)?
My favorite part would definitely be the outlining and plotting part. Is it cheating if I pick two? For me, both of these goes hand in hand as its just preparation before I start my first draft. Once I have a plot in mind, I usually expand it until it becomes a chapter by chapter outline. I can never start writing until I have a solid chapter outline in place. Preferably printed out if I could. I like having it next to me while I write.

3. When reading a book, what genre do you find most interesting/intriguing?
Although I am drawn the most to YA contemporary romance (obviously), I really admire all fantasy authors. Especially high fantasy. The world building possibilities are endless. Anything can happen. ANYTHING. Which is really daunting to me. How can you ever plot or outline when there are so many options? Everyone could have powers or only an elite few does. Or maybe you could trade your powers or lend it out as currency. Seriously, the possibilities are endless.

Maybe one day I’ll give into the fear and try to write a fantasy novel, but for now I’ll just bow down to fantasy authors and stick to my contemporary romances.

4. If you could co-author with any author, past or present, who would you choose?
I have a serious writer girl crush on Stephanie Perkins. Like very embarrassing, I-can’t-believe-I’m-admitting-this-to-everyone-online kind of crush. The first time I met her was at the Romantic Times convention a few years ago and I completely fangirled out. I’m fairly sure I just babbled nonsense words to her. But she was very sweet about it. Plus, her type of writing is just happy and swooningly romantic. It never fails to bring a smile to my face and that’s how I hope people will feel about my writing.

5. Have you always wanted to write or did it come to you "later in life"?
I’ve always loved books. Mainly because my sisters were all older than me so when they sat around and read so did I. I never thought about actually writing though until 7th grade when my English teacher, Mr. Tiller, told to write a story about a character in Harry Potter. While everyone else chose Ron or Hermione, I chose to write about Dudley’s birthday through his eyes. It was such a simple assignment, but I had so much fun that I couldn’t help wanting to do this for a living. It took a while for me to try my hand at finishing a full length novel though.

Author Bio:
Jenn Nguyen fell in love with books in third grade and spent the rest of her school years reading through lunchtime and giving up recess to organize the school library. She has a degree in business administration from the University of New Orleans and still lives in the city with her husband. Jenn spends her days reading, dreaming up YA romances, and binge watching Korean dramas all in the name of ‘research’. The Way to Game the Walk of Shame is her debut novel.

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Monday, May 30, 2016

Monday's Montage Mantlepiece: Stand to Attention

Almost by Sean Michael
Hammer let Lane drive him away, but now he’s determined to make Lane the one who almost got away.

Lane lost his legs while saving his unit overseas. It’s been two years and he’s doing his best to come to terms with things, including the fact that he dumped his lover to free the man up from being stuck with a gimp for the rest of his life. Luckily, Lane inherited his Gramps’ cottage — it just needs some renovations to make it wheelchair friendly. He’s determined to make the best of what he’s got.

Hammer was one of the men Lane saved… and his lover while they were in the army together. He let Lane drive him away back when the man first got hurt, but now he’s hunting Lane, determined to make Lane the one who almost got away. Will Lane be able to see past his legs far enough to realise Hammer’s in it for the long haul?

On the Home Front by Jambrea Jo Jones
Forgiving yourself is the hardest battle...

Peter "Bulldog" Jakes killed his mother. People tell him it isn't his fault, but he is just as guilty as if he pulled the trigger. Bulldog knew being in the Army Special Forces would eventually hurt his family.

Moby Edwards' heart aches for his First Sergeant and he wants to help, but Bulldog blows him off — every time.

When Bulldog is forced to take leave, Moby follows, but will things out of their control ruin what could be the healing power of friends turned into lovers?

Who Dares Wins by Lily Harlem
When secret service becomes not so secret servicing by not one, but two sexy soldiers, Ken learns that dreams can come true in explosive style!

Waiting for my SAS husband Jack to come home safe and sound is always a gut-wrenching, heart-twisting time. I have no idea where he is, what jungle swamp he may be lying out in or desert he might be marching across.

So naturally when he returns to me, our emotions can't fail to run hot and our lust for each other cranks up to sky-high levels. But the one thing about Jack is he lives for the extreme and seizes the moment. I really should have known what would come of me telling him my wildest fantasies.

Oh, yes, he's a guy who gets results…and when he brings home his colleague Slider, equally tough, equally rough, the pair of them can't fail to hit the target. That target happens to be lucky old me and I head off on the ride of my life…

Reader Advisory: This book contains D/s elements and a MMM ménage.

An Act of Duty by Elizabeth Coldwell
When duty becomes mixed up with desire, can a battle-scarred soldier leave behind the horrors of war and enter a world of fantasy and fulfilment?

For Corporal Mark Stockdale, a trip to Amsterdam won’t just provide some much-needed R and R away from the horrors of the Afghanistan battlefield — it’s also a way of keeping a promise to a fallen comrade. But violence has a way of seeking Mark out, even in the most peaceful of locations, and when he stops for a drink in a quiet bar, he finds himself stepping in to help its owner, Robin Sneijder, fight off a group of opportunist thieves. Robin shows his gratitude, and Mark is stunned by the depth of the passion between them, and when Mark wakes in the night from a vivid nightmare of the attack that killed his best friend, Ozzy, Robin is there to comfort him.

Robin seems like the perfect partner, and what started as an act of duty turns into an unforgettably erotic encounter. But when Robin confesses he has an overwhelming urge to submit to a hunk in army uniform, Mark is not sure whether he can put aside the realities of war and fulfil his new lover’s most cherished desires. Can he separate fact and fantasy, and give Robin the domination he craves?

Reader Advisory: This book contains graphic descriptions of a roadside explosion, and acts of domination and submission between men.

Trusting the Army Captain by Noelle Keaton
When it comes to choosing between advancing his career in the army or being truthful with the man he loves, Patrick learns everything ultimately boils down to trust.

Ambitious army captain, Patrick Bosworth, is eager to advance in his career so that he can live up to his family’s distinguished legacy. But having been passed over for promotion to major twice already, Patrick fears his career has stalled. He worries he’ll never match the accomplishments of other family members, especially his brother, a Bronze Star recipient recently promoted to lieutenant colonel.

When a superior office suggests a way to get the promotion that involves gathering information on a fellow army captain in the Medical Corps, Patrick reluctantly agrees to participate. He regrets the assignment almost immediately, especially when he falls for Craig, the guy he’s supposed to be investigating.

When he forms a passionate and intense bond with Craig, Patrick finds it difficult to separate where his professional obligations end and his personal feelings begin. After working for so long to prove himself a worthy member of his accomplished military family, Patrick has to decide if finally finding the love of his life is worth sacrificing advancement in the army, or even giving up his career itself.

Letters to a War Zone by Lucy Felthouse
When lonely insurance broker, Bailey, gets himself a new hobby, he ends up exchanging letters with a war zone. But he’s not expecting what happens next...

Bailey Hodgkiss is lonely and dissatisfied with his boring life as an insurance broker. In an attempt to shake things up a little, he signs up to a website to write to serving soldiers. He’s put in touch with Corporal Nick Rock, and over the course of a couple of letters, the two of them strike up a friendship. They begin to divulge things that they perhaps wouldn’t have said in person, including their preference for men.

Nick encourages Bailey to add more interests to his life. As a result, Bailey picks up his forgotten hobby, photography, and quickly decides to team it up with his other preferred interest, travel.

Booking a holiday to Rome is his biggest gesture towards a more exciting existence, and he eagerly looks forward to the trip. That is, until Nick says he’s coming home on leave, and it looks as though their respective trips will prevent them from meeting in person. Is there enough of a spark between them to push them to meet, or will their relationship remain on paper only?

Almost by Sean Michael 
Lane got himself into his wheelchair, rolled himself to the back porch and started doing pull-ups. His eyes were on the lake, on the water right outside his porch as he worked his arms, his abs. He’d spent his whole fucking childhood in this lake house, fishing with his gramps, swimming, goofing off. He loved this place and now Gramps was gone and it was his to do what he wanted with.

Hell of a trade for a pair of legs.

Up. Down. Up. Down. Eyes on the water. Don’t think about sand, bombs, enemy fire. Just the lake. The water. The burn in his arms.

The snap of a twig sounded like a shot.

He stopped, frowning. It was late winter. People didn’t come out here in the winter and he hadn’t found himself a dog yet. “I have a .38 and I know how to use it.”

“I sure as hell hope so. It wasn’t your head you injured.”

Jesus fuck, that sounds just like Hammer.

Lane lowered himself down onto his chair. No. No way. He hadn’t talked to Hammer in almost two years. Hadn’t seen him in longer than that.

The owner of the voice appeared beside his deck from the side of the house. Tall, stacked, haircut high and tight over a strong, square jaw and mismatched eyes. He’d only ever met one man with one hazel eye and one green, and that was Hammer.

Lane immediately, instinctively rubbed his shaggy beard that hid the scars on his face. “You lost, Sarge?”

“I was thinking I might be, then I turned a corner and found you, so no, I’m not lost.” Hammer wore a pair of jeans, a T-shirt with a leather jacket over it and had his bag slung over his shoulder. Fuck, he looked good.

Lane was in nothing but a pair of sweats, the sweat cooling on his bare chest making him shiver. “You want a cup of coffee?”

“I do. I was hoping you’d invite me in, too.”

On the Home Front by Jambrea Jo Jones
Peter ‘Bulldog’ Jakes stood at attention in front of his CO’s desk. They had just returned from a training mission in parts unknown and now he was hearing that his mother was dead.

Fuckin’ murdered.

How was he supposed to react? He should have been there, but no, he’d been off having fun. Most might not see it that way, but he loved everything about the Army and his position in the Special Forces. It was his life and a way out of a boring nine-to-five existence or the welfare train his brother was on.

“Your leave will start now,” Lieutenant Colonel Mills finished up.

It took a second for Bulldog to focus on his LT.

“Leave, sir?” He looked down at the LT sitting at his desk before going back to attention.

“Yes, Jakes—leave. Once you’re home and get a sitrep, let me know when you’ll be back.”

He didn’t lose his bearings this time. “I don’t need—”

“This is not a request, First Sergeant.”

“Yes, sir.”

Bulldog turned and left the room—he’d been dismissed and there was nothing he could do about it. He’d just been given a direct order to go home. Fuck. He shouldn’t be upset at the LT for making sure he was in his right mind—if he wasn’t, he could get people killed—but he didn’t want to go home and face his past.

Bulldog bumped into someone—it could have been anyone, but was it? No, it was Moby, a man he really didn’t want to see right now. If he’d been on his game, that wouldn’t have happened, but right now everything was off.

“Hey, Jakes, what’s doin’, man?” Moby Edward grinned.

It seemed that was all the Master Sergeant ever did. The man was happy all the time. Moby even smiled while disarming a bomb. Not that Bulldog could blame him—being in Special Forces was a dream come true and they might all be just a bit nuts. You had to love it to do what they did. It was one of the things Bulldog really admired about Moby—not that he’d tell the man he had any feelings in any kind of way because Moby would jump all over that. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell might have been repealed, but there were just some things you didn’t let happen…like having sex with a guy in your unit. Even if Moby did have a really great smile that reached his dark brown eyes…

Who Dares Wins by Lily Harlem
It’s the dreams that are the worst when Jack is away. They start off pleasant enough—me riding a bike in the woods, a picnic spread on a blanket with the sea breeze ruffling my hair, my handsome soldier-lover talking of our plans for the future—but they always turn dark, these dreams. Before I wake there’s a plunge into blackness, an abyss, like falling from a plane without a parachute and flailing for something to hold on to—reaching out and finding nothing.

When I do wake I’m left with this gut-wrenching breathlessness, my heart is racing and my limbs are heavy. Often it’s this one section of the night that lingers with me, it’s a sensation of running but not getting anywhere, putting all of my efforts into reaching Jack, battling uneven terrain, steaming uphill, fighting enemies. But my limbs are leaden, my efforts not rewarded.

I’m standing still.

It doesn’t take a psychologist to decipher the meaning. I’m just a deputy manager of a small town garden centre and I can figure out the symbolism.

When my partner Jack is away on a mission and I’m left at home in our little Cornish cottage, I’m utterly helpless. Oh, not that I can’t get up in the morning and get on with my day. That’s fine. I’m just not part of his terrifying world. If something happens to him, then yes, they’ll tell me eventually, but not until it’s too late, not until it’s over for him. If he needed me, was shot by enemy fire, captured and tortured, I’d never know until his ordeal was history.

Until he was history.

“Morning, Ken,” Mary said, rattling a trolley of begonias past me.

I glanced up from the vegetable seed stock chart I was double-checking. “Hey, Mary. How are you?”

“Great, thanks. Busy though, boss. We’ve just had another delivery.”

I grinned. “Good, now stop slacking and go and earn your money.”

She stuck her tongue out, then smiled and carried on towards the aisle of sweetly scented border plants.

Working at Bedding Beautiful was a godsend. Not only did it take my mind off the scary times when my gorgeous Master was away on duty, it also provided me with a kind of pseudo family. Everyone knew and accepted that I was gay and that I was sometimes teetering on the edge of my nerves. They didn’t know what Jack did exactly, that was confidential information, but they knew he worked away and I was left home alone.

An Act of Duty by Elizabeth Coldwell
Mark watched a man in a tiger onesie cycle past him on a rickety, black-framed bike, and knew Ozzy would have really loved Amsterdam. He’d barely been in the city for half an hour, yet already he was falling in with its relaxed vibe. This was a place to chill, to leave your worries behind for a while. As he looked at the tourists strolling along the cobbled pavements in the September sunshine, it was almost possible to forget that halfway across the world, good, honest men were dying in their efforts to bring stability to the basket case that was Afghanistan. Good, honest men like Ozzy.

He paused to consult the foldout map in the back of the tourist guide he’d bought at the airport. If he took the next left, it should bring him out right in the heart of the red-light district. Whenever they’d talked about visiting the city, that had always been the area Ozzy had wanted to tour more than any other. Forget the canals and the historic gabled houses, some so old they leaned at odd angles and appeared in danger of toppling into the water at any moment. Ignore the Rijksmuseum, where you could admire paintings from every Old Master Holland had ever produced. No, Ozzy had simply wanted to have a few beers and get his end away.

On one of their monotonous desert patrols, he and Ozzy had made a pact to come to Amsterdam on their next spell of leave. They’d never discussed what would happen if one of them wasn’t around by then, even though the fear of death was never far from either of their minds. Making this trip had seemed to Mark like the right thing to do—a way of honouring the memory of the man who’d been the best friend he’d ever had. No, they’d been closer than that. Gary Osmond, known to everyone in the regiment as Ozzy, had been like the brother Mark had never had, and he couldn’t help wishing the guy were here with him right now. He felt a tear threatening to spill down his cheek and blinked it away, glad his eyes were hidden behind dark glasses.

Turning a corner, he found himself confronted with the sight Ozzy had always hoped to see. In almost every ground floor window of the buildings that lined this stretch of canal stood a woman in her underwear, smiling and beckoning to the small groups of men who passed by. Here and there, thick burgundy drapes were pulled across one of the windows, indicating that its occupant had company. The sight of so much exposed female flesh didn’t rouse Mark’s desires, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t appreciate beauty when he saw it. He wondered which of the girls would have caught Ozzy’s eye. The peroxide blonde in the bright yellow bra and panties, maybe, or the brown-skinned, almond-eyed sylph in a PVC corset and thigh boots?

Trusting the Army Captain by Noelle Keaton
It isn’t fair!

The words resounded over and over in Patrick Bosworth’s mind until he grew sick of them, but the irritating chorus wouldn’t stop. It isn’t fair! It isn’t fair!

Signalling a passing waiter for another drink, Patrick slumped farther in his chair and wondered when the relief that a scotch and soda usually provided him would take hold. He’d had two already, but still felt as miserable as when he’d first come into the bar. It might just be that it wouldn’t take the edge off this disappointment—the bitterness of being passed over for promotion to major ran way too deep.

By most measures, Patrick knew he’d had a very successful military career, making it to captain while still in his early thirties. But when measured against the standards of the rest of his family, he felt like a total failure. Every Bosworth male since his great-great grandfather had served in the army with distinction, including an ancestor who had been a member of one of the first graduating classes at West Point. Patrick’s grandfather had held the position of Vice Chief of Staff of the army, and his father had risen to the rank of lieutenant general. And his older brother, Greg, showed every promise of following in their distinguished footsteps with his recent promotion to lieutenant colonel.

Patrick had tried his best to live up to the legacy. Although he hadn’t elected to go to West Point like his brother, he’d graduated summa cum laude from Yale University, and immediately enlisted in the army. After serving two tours in Afghanistan, he’d returned to America to work in military intelligence, and had seen his career plateau ever since.

A waiter placed a fresh drink in front of him, and Patrick gulped it, still wondering what, if anything, he could do to get his career back on track. He wished he could turn to his family, but he knew they would most likely counsel patience. But the only thing he could see patience getting him was a permanent place as captain in career purgatory.

“Now, how did I know I’d find you here?”

Patrick looked up to find his superior officer, Jake Moretti, standing over him with a sympathetic expression on his face. “Mind if I sit down?”

Yes, as a matter of fact, I do, Patrick wanted to say, preferring to be alone right now. But he gestured for Jake to take a seat, which he did in an opposite facing chair. “How many of those have you had?”

“I don’t have to report in until oh-eight hundred Monday. I’m not doing anything wrong.”

“Touchy, touchy. Obviously, you haven’t had enough of them. Give me a sec.” Jake got up and came back a few minutes later with a tray that had four shots lined up on it. “If this doesn’t loosen you up, nothing will.”

Letters to a War Zone by Lucy Felthouse
After clicking all the available links on the website to find out more about it, Bailey decided to go ahead and sign up. He’d never know what it was really like unless he gave it a go.

He’d read about the site in an article somewhere, about how it linked people with serving soldiers, pilots, marines and sailors in order to write to them. It had been proven that receiving mail—even from someone they didn’t know—improved military morale. It sounded like a damn good use of time to Bailey, and it would be interesting, too.

He began typing his details into the online form. Of course, the chances were that he’d be paired up with a man, given the ratio of males to females in the forces. It didn’t matter, though. He could still exchange letters with a guy, become friends. It seemed like such an old-school way to communicate with someone, given how technology had come on over the years, but at least it was different. Perhaps it would give him something in his life to look forward to, something other than getting up, showering, going to work, coming home, eating, watching television and going to bed. The watching television—and even the eating—were occasionally replaced by nights out with friends or seeing family. Weekends were spent cleaning, washing clothes, gardening and odd jobs. Dull stuff, in other words.

He had an utterly mundane life, and Bailey knew it. It wasn’t even as if his job was exciting. Insurance broking was hardly thrilling, game-changing, or going to save the world. He didn’t expect having a pen pal to change his entire life, but it would certainly break the monotony. Hopefully.

He went through the various steps to fill in his details and create a profile, then continued right through to the information on actually writing and sending the letters. It looked straightforward enough.

His mind made up, Bailey immediately went in search of a pen, some nice paper and an envelope. Armed with a print out of exactly what to do when the letter was finished, he settled down at the kitchen table. Instantly, his mind went blank. What the fuck was he meant to say?

Author Bios:
Sean Michael
Often referred to as "Space Cowboy" and "Gangsta of Love" while still striving for the moniker of "Maurice," Sean Michael spends his days surfing, smutting, organizing his immense gourd collection and fantasizing about one day retiring on a small secluded island peopled entirely by horseshoe crabs. While collecting vast amounts of vintage gay pulp novels and mood rings, Sean whiles away the hours between dropping the f-bomb and persuing the kama sutra by channeling the long lost spirit of John Wayne and singing along with the soundtrack to "Chicago."

A long-time writer of complicated haiku, currently Sean is attempting to learn the advanced arts of plate spinning and soap carving sex toys.

Barring any of that? He'll stick with writing his stories, thanks, and rubbing pretty bodies together to see if they spark.

Jambrea Jo Jones
Jambrea wanted to be the youngest romance author published, but life impeded the dreams. She put her writing aside and went to college briefly, then enlisted in the Air Force. After serving in the military, she returned home to Indiana to start her family. A few years later, she discovered yahoo groups and book reviews. There was no turning back. She was bit by the writing bug.

She enjoys spending time with her son when not writing and loves to receive reader feedback. She’s addicted to the internet so feel free to email her anytime.

Lily Harlem
Lily Harlem is a best-selling, award-winning author of erotic romance. She lives in the UK and writes for several publishing houses including HarperCollins, Totally Bound, Pride Publishing, Evernight, ARe and Sweetmeats Press. She also features in numerous UK and US anthologies, some of which all proceeds go to charity.

Her books are a mixture of full length novels and short stories, some are one offs, some are sequels or part of a series (all can be enjoyed as stand-alone reads). What they all have in common are colourful characters travelling on everyone’s favourite journey — falling in love. If the story isn’t deliciously romantic and down and dirty sexy, it won’t be written, at least not by this author. So with the bedroom door left well and truly open you are warned to hang on for a steamy, sensual ride - or rides as the case might be!

Elizabeth Coldwell 
I am Rotherham’s foremost (okay, only) writer of quality erotica and erotic romance. Though I’m now based in London, family and football take me back North on a regular basis. Indeed, if you’re ever at a Rotherham United match (I know, what are the chances?) and you spot a small blonde with a large ‘London Millers’ flag, that’ll be me.

For twenty years, I worked on the UK edition of Forum magazine, for most of those years as editor. In that time, I built up the fiction side of the magazine, and was responsible for publishing the first stories by lots of now well-known and established erotic authors – most notably Portia da Costa and Lindsay Gordon, who was until recently Black Lace’s series editor.

However, I love writing even more than I love editing, and I’ve finally taken the plunge to write full-time. I’ve had stories published by Black Lace, Xcite Books, Cleis Press, Circlet Press, Mammoth, Ravenous Romance, Total-e-bound and more, and my collection of three gay erotic novellas, Wild Rides, will be coming out as a print book from Xcite in 2012. And I’m happy in my work…

Noelle Keaton
Noelle Keaton has bounced around the United States, including stays in California, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, but she now resides in Florida. Although she works as a tax associate for a large corporation, her first love is writing. When she isn’t jotting down ideas for new stories, you can probably find her reading a book from an ever growing stack, debating politics and current events with friends, or experimenting with new recipes. Noelle’s vices include watching bad reality television and eating the white chocolate KitKats she keeps swearing she’s giving up.

Lucy Felthouse
Lucy Felthouse is a very busy woman! She writes erotica and erotic romance in a variety of subgenres and pairings, and has over 100 publications to her name, with many more in the pipeline. These include several editions of Best Bondage Erotica, Best Women's Erotica 2013 and Best Erotic Romance 2014. Another string to her bow is editing, and she has edited and co-edited a number of anthologies, and also edits for a small publishing house. She owns Erotica For All, is book editor for Cliterati, and is one eighth of The Brit Babes. Join her on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to her newsletter.

Sean Michael
EMAIL: seanmichaelwrites@gmail.com

Jambrea Jo Jones
EMAIL: binojo2@yahoo.com

Lily Harlem
EMAIL: lilyharlem@googlemail.com

Elizabeth Coldwell
EMAIL: elizabeth_coldwell@yahoo.co.uk

Noelle Keaton

Lucy Felthouse
iTUNES  /  B&N  /  AMAZON  /  KOBO
EMAIL: lucy@lucyfelthouse.co.uk


A Journey Home by Angela Scavone

Title: A Journey Home
Author: Angela Scavone
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: April 29, 2015
Stephanie Tyler’s sole job is to fly overseas to war torn areas of the world to retrieve and escort the bodies of fallen soldiers back home to the United States. It is a tough and emotional job but she is honored for the privilege. Her duty also helps her to escape her past and her failed marriage.

But those flights have become increasingly more dangerous and she is forced to have a partner accompany her. Much to Stephanie’s surprise and dismay, she is partnered up with her ex-husband, Captain “D.A.” Douglas Aston.

From the moment Captain D.A. enters the scene, he irritates her. It could have something to do with the fact he slept with her best friend while they were married. As they go on several missions together, Stephanie is forced to be courteous and professional with D.A. even though the very sight of him irritates her beyond comprehension.

Then, Stephanie’s cheating, husband stealing, ex-best friend is killed in Afghanistan and Stephanie and D.A. must escort her body home. While executing this difficult duty, a myriad of conflicting emotions makes Stephanie ponder how short life really is . . . and to question her own ability to forgive.

The phone intercom buzzed and Pam came over the speaker. “Sorry to interrupt, Colonel, but you wanted me to let you know when Captain Aston was here.” I stared at the Colonel wide-eyed. He merely smiled and said, “Thanks, Pam. I’ll be out in a minute.” “He’s here now?” I asked, incredulously. “Didn’t I mention that?” He rose from his chair and walked to the door as I stood and straightened my uniform. The Colonel stood with his hand on the doorknob, watching me fuss. “You look tremendous, Captain.” “What? Oh I don’t care what I look like for him,” I immediately protested, waving my hand in the air. “Of course.” He was still smiling as he opened the door. “Captain Aston, please come in.” I heard his voice first. “Thank you, Colonel.” I glanced down at my uniform to make sure everything was in place before he came into the room. When I looked back up, Captain Aston was walking through the door. To the female eye, he was a very attractive man. He stood at six-four and was well built, but not so much that muscles and tendons were popping out everywhere. He had a strong jaw and black hair just long enough to run your fingers through. Dressed in full uniform, his handsome features were even more prominent. Not that I noticed. “Please come in and we can discuss your new role.” “Yes, Sir.” Captain DA put out his hand for me to shake, flashing his killer smile that started in his bright blue eyes and ended in a set of mouth-framing dimples. “Good to see you again, Captain.” I returned his smile and handshake, determined to be professional in front of the Colonel even if it killed me. Colonel Madison resumed his place behind his desk. “Please sit. This is a quick, informal meeting to get reacquainted with each other.” I remained on my feet which kept both men standing. “Sir, with all due respect,” I began, facing the Colonel, “I cannot work with Captain Aston.” Apparently, my mouth wasn’t on board with being professional. “Why not?” DA asked, sounding offended. I ignored his question and kept my attention on the Colonel, who looked as if he were about to laugh. “We used to be married.” “I know that.” He smiled. “Our marriage did not end on a positive note,” I continued, “and I don’t think I can work with him on a day to day basis. In fact, I left Virginia to get away from him.” “You know, I’m standing right here,” DA chimed in. “Captain Tyler, are you telling me you can’t put your differences aside to work together as a team? Even though I asked you as a personal favor?” The Colonel’s smile had vanished and there was now a warning in his tone. “No, Sir.” I heard the warning and decided it was time to back off the fight. “I’ll try putting our differences aside to work together, but I can’t promise I won’t kill him in the process.” The Colonel coughed out a chuckle. “That’s all I can ask for. Now, you—hopefully—have some time off before another call comes in. Why don’t you show Captain DA around?” The Colonel spoke as I reached for the door handle. “I’m curious, off the record, of course. How did your marriage not continue on a positive note? I remember the wedding. You two seemed so compatible and so in love. What happened?” DA and I looked at each other for the first time since his arrival. “He cheated on me with a friend of mine,” I replied baldly. “I did not cheat on you! How many times do I have to say it before you believe me?” he retorted, all vestiges of professionalism gone. “Oh, here we go again!” I shouted back. “I came home early, I walked into the kitchen and there was Alex on top of you on the kitchen floor.” “I told you it wasn’t what it looked like. I have said over and over again that I did not sleep with Alex!” His tone increased until he was shouting, too. “You’re telling me that you two never slept together?” I demanded an answer. “Well . . .” He looked away from me. “Not while we were married.” “I knew it!” “It was after we were separated and you had moved here! What did you want me to do? Never sleep with anyone again?” “You can sleep with whomever or whatever you want for all I care—” “Ahem.” The Colonel cut in. I jerked back, startled; in the heat of arguing with my frustrating ex, I had forgotten my boss was there. “Sorry, Sir. Do you see why I can’t work with him?” The Colonel regarded us both. “Alex?” he questioned DA. “Alexandra Keating, Sir. She was Stephanie’s best friend.” “Best friend, my left toe! She’s a traitorous, backstabbing, two-faced, lying, husband stealing bitch.” “Wow, that’s quite descriptive, Captain. Why don’t you tell us your true feelings about her?” Both of the Colonel’s eyebrows rose in shock. “I’m only speaking the truth, Sir.” I addressed the Colonel but glared at DA. “Well.” He clapped his hands together to signal the end of our bickering. “I know you two can be respectful when escorting a fallen soldier home and I know you will be professional during the dignified transfer ceremonies. However, please try and be professional at other times as well or at least civil to each other.” He waved us toward the door. DA and I both nodded and exited the office. Before we could leave the reception area, the Colonel poked his head out of his office door. “And, Captain Tyler-” “Sir?” “Try not to kill him, please. He just arrived at our base and it wouldn’t look good in the press.” Knowing the Colonel had a wicked sense of humor, I still couldn’t find my own jocularity. “No promises, Sir, But I’ll give it my best shot.” “That’s all I ask.”

Author Bio:
Angela lives in Ontario, Canada sharing her home with her father and her two much-loved pups (and one evil cat). She currently works for the Board of Education behind the scenes supporting and analyzing student data, however, in her spare time, apart from her avid love of storytelling, she likes to read, spend time with family and friends and concoct dairy free recipes from scratch. Sometimes she wins some, and sometimes she loses some – tofu, banana and peanut butter pudding we are looking at you.

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The Silicone Beach Trilogy #1 & 2 by Jill Blake

TitleS: Beyond the Ivory Tower & Sweet Indulgence
Author: Jill Blake
Series: Silicone Beach Trilogy #1 & 2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Dates: Beyond the Ivory Tower: November 11, 2015
Sweet Indulgence: March 25, 2016

Beyond the Ivory Tower #1
If there’s one thing math professor Anna Lazarev believes in, it’s the value of higher education. So when her younger sister announces she’s dropping out of college, Anna places the blame squarely on the man who inspired her sister’s rebellion.

Venture capitalist Ethan Talbot claims the US academic system is broken. His solution? Pay top students to “opt out” and pursue their entrepreneurial dreams without wasting time and money on a university degree.

In a passionate battle for the hearts and minds of a new generation, Anna will do whatever it takes to prove Ethan wrong. But when his demands take a more personal turn, will she sacrifice her principles to come out on top?

Sweet Indulgence #2
Becca Markham spent the last six years trying to please everyone but herself. So when she ditches her cheating boyfriend and quits her high-stress job as a software engineer, she decides it’s time to pursue her own dreams. At the top of her list? Transforming her life-long love of baking from a part-time hobby into a full-time business.

Leo Kogan spent years scrambling to escape a life of poverty—first in Russia, then in the U.S. Now a successful surgeon, he needs just one thing to complete his American dream: the perfect woman. But making the leap from casual friends to lovers proves harder than he expects.

Despite a sizzling attraction, Becca and Leo disagree on important things—like love and money. She’s looking for sex without strings; he wants a partner for life. She stakes her future on a risky new business; he’s obsessed with financial security.

Can love bring two headstrong people together…or will their differences end up tearing them apart?

Beyond the Ivory Tower #1
“You did what?” Becca shrieked, after hearing an abbreviated version of yesterday’s debacle.

“Just a little louder, Bec. I don’t think the citizens of Kansas heard you.”

“Wow. Ethan Talbot. I can’t believe I had to drag it out of you.”

Anna switched to speaker phone and lifted her suitcase atop the bed. “It’s not like I planned it,” she said, gathering discarded items of clothing and tucking them into a laundry bag. “It just happened.”

“Period cramps just happen. Weight gain just happens. Ending a three-year-old dry spell with Ethan Talbot doesn’t just happen.”

“I didn’t exactly end the dry spell.” She shoved the shoes into a different bag. “He dropped me back at the hotel and left. End of story.”

“Well, don’t keep me in suspense. When are you seeing him again?”

“I’m not.” She debated dumping the unused box of condoms. It wasn’t as if she’d need them any time soon.

Then again….She glanced at the expiration date. Two years. A lot could happen in two years.

“Why not?” Becca prodded.

“Because I’m heading home.” What the hell. She tossed the condoms in her suitcase. “Besides, we have nothing in common. And he refused to release Klara from the Fellowship.”

“Anna, sweetie, sorry for pointing out the obvious, but most people view the Talbot Fellowship as something prestigious.”

“It’s not a degree, Bec. It’s not even a certificate.”

“Maybe not, but it’ll still look good on Klara’s CV.”

Anna ducked into the bathroom for her toiletry bag.

Becca’s voice followed her. “You know Klara will do what she wants, regardless of what you say. Which means you’ve got two choices: prolong the battle and risk alienating her completely, or accept what she’s doing and move on.”

Anna returned to the bedroom. “What’s option C?”

“It wouldn’t kill you to be a little more flexible. Klara’s the only family you have. Shame to lose her over something that’s going to be over in two years.”

Anna sighed. “Bec, the problem is, we’re not just talking two years. We’re talking her entire future.”
“Does the word hyperbole mean anything to you?”

Anna ignored her attempt at humor. “If Klara doesn’t finish her education, she’ll end up regretting it. Maybe not now, but someday.” She glanced around to see if there was anything left to pack.

“She can always go back to school,” Becca said. “There are plenty of returning students of all ages.”
“I guess.”

“And look on the bright side. Now that Klara’s moved out, you have the whole place to yourself. You can finally have a social life.”

“Is that supposed to cheer me up?” Anna said, zipping the suitcase.

“It’s all in the attitude. Now tell me more about Ethan Talbot.”

“Nothing more to tell.”

“Come on, you have to do better than that.”

“Seriously, Bec. I’m lucky if the guy doesn’t turn around and walk the other way the moment he sees me.”

“I’m sure you’re exaggerating.”

“I’m not.”

“Okay, so what did you do?”

“I threw myself at him.”

“You what?”

Anna winced and lowered the cell phone volume. “I may have had a little too much to drink.” She waited for Becca’s laughter to taper off. “It’s not that funny.”

“Sorry. I’m just trying to picture it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you drunk.”

“Yeah, well don’t hold your breath.” Anna lifted the suitcase off the bed. “I have to go check out.”

“Wait—that’s it?”

Anna sighed. “It’s a long drive, Bec. I’ll talk to you when I get home.”

Two hours later, her phone buzzed. She ignored it. Another hour passed before she pulled into a rest stop to use the facilities and check messages.

She read Ethan’s text while standing in line for coffee.

How are you feeling?

Oh, boy. Mortified would just about cover it. Hung over would work too. And determined to put the entire unfortunate interlude with Ethan behind her.


She dropped the phone back in her bag and stepped up to the counter.

Two and a half hours later, as she unlocked the front door of her Santa Monica apartment, another text came through:

You OK?

Clearly, the man wasn’t going to let it go until she responded.

She dumped her belongings in the living room and typed:

All good. Back in LA.

His response was immediate:

Didn’t get chance to say goodbye.

She sank down on the couch.

Sorry, she wrote. Goodbye.

And that should have been the end of it. Except for some reason, Ethan seemed determined to go off script.

When are you back in SF?

Was he asking because he wanted to see her again, or because he wanted advance notice so he could avoid running into her? She wouldn’t blame him if it was the latter. She’d never made such a fool of herself before. The only thing that would have been worse was if he’d taken her up on her offer, and then she’d vomited all over him. Or passed out in the middle of things. Or woken up naked and alone and not remembering a damn thing about how she got that way.

Considering all the worst case scenarios that hadn’t happened, she supposed she should be grateful. But that didn’t mean she wanted to see Ethan again. Ignoring the little voice in her head that said liar, liar, she texted back:

Busy with work. Have to stay in LA.

Then she shut off her phone and headed for the bedroom. She squelched any residual guilt by reminding herself that they had nothing in common. If he tried texting or calling her again, she’d simply ignore him. The same way he’d ignored her emails and phone calls when she’d first attempted to contact him.

Of course he hadn’t known her then. He probably got a ton of spam and solicitations, and her messages might have gotten lost in the shuffle—assuming they ever reached him at all. Now that they’d met, the dynamics had changed.

But that was beside the point. She didn’t belong in his world, and he had no place in hers. Best to cut her losses before anyone got hurt. And by anyone, she meant herself. Because she really couldn’t imagine a man like Ethan Talbot getting too hung up on a woman whose IQ far exceeded her bra size.

She toed off her sensible flats, stripped off her clothes, and climbed into the shower. Time to get back to real life.

Sweet Indulgence #2
Where are you?

A minute passed. Then two. Maybe there’d been an accident. But if so, wouldn’t someone have raised the alarm over John not showing up for work?

The sense of unease that had been dogging her all day increased. She swiped across several screens until she found the GPS app she’d installed the last time John had misplaced his phone. Before she could enter the passcode, an inner door opened and a medical assistant in drab olive scrubs popped her head out.

“Becca? I thought that was you. What are you doing here?”

It took Becca several seconds to put a name to the face. “Alma,” she said. “Hi.”

“Is that for us?” The woman’s eyes dropped to the bag dangling from Becca’s wrist.

“What?” Becca glanced down. The second box of meringues. The ones she’d forgotten to drop off at the post-anesthesia care unit because she’d been in such a rush to get to the clinic. “Yes.” She pocketed the phone and offered Alma the bag. “Here.”

A deep voice interrupted. “Alma…? I need an Aircast in room two.”

“Duty calls,” Alma whispered. “Go on back. You know where the kitchen is.”

She disappeared down the hall, leaving Becca to follow more slowly. She dropped the bag off in the tiny kitchen and was on her way out when an exam room door flew open and a tall figure dressed in scrubs and white coat stepped into her path.

“Whoa!” He caught her arm just in time to keep her from falling. “Becca! You okay?”

She ignored the tingling sensation in her arm. And the lightheadedness? Probably just sleep deprivation. And anxiety. Yeah, that had to be it.

His head dipped slightly, dark blond brows furrowed. Green eyes scanned her face. She breathed in his scent—something tangy, like citrus, mixed with hospital soap. “Becca?”

“Yes,” she said. “I’m fine, Leo. You can let go.”

It felt like forever before he nodded and released her. She shivered, rubbing her arm where his fingers had touched.

“What are you doing here?” he said.

She was really beginning to hate that question. “Looking for John.”

Leo’s gaze sharpened. “He’s not at the hospital?”

“No.” She bit her lip. “Do you have any idea where he might be?”

Leo hesitated. “No.”

“Would you tell me if you did?”

He shifted and cleared his throat. “Maybe.”


The exam room door opened. “You’re all set,” Alma said, ushering out a patient on crutches. 
Leo and Becca moved out of the way.

“I’m sorry,” he said, dropping his voice. “I need to get back. Maybe you should call Anna…?”

Why would he suggest that?

The sick feeling at the pit of her stomach spread up and out. She took a deep breath and watched Leo’s broad back as he strode down the hall, knocked on an exam room door, and disappeared inside.
Her cell phone vibrated. She fished it out and had to read John’s message twice, because the words kept blurring.

Working hard. About to start another case. What’s up?

Somehow, she got home and made it through the rest of the day.

It was nearly midnight by the time she heard John’s key in the door. She wasn’t surprised. He’d texted her again, advising her of an emergency fasciotomy he had to do on a patient with compartment syndrome.

That was when she checked the GPS app. It confirmed what she already knew: John wasn’t at work. He was nowhere near work. The signal mapped to a luxury resort some thirty miles northeast of the hospital. She looked the place up online. Quiet, discreet, set amid twenty-three acres of lush gardens, it billed itself as the perfect escape from the city, starting at three hundred dollars a night.

And to think, just this morning, she’d been worried about work preempting their weekend plans!

The front door opened. John flicked on the lights and froze. “Rebecca. Why were you sitting here in the dark?”

She blinked, as if coming awake from a dream. “Hello, John,” she said. “How was work?”

Beyond the Ivory Tower #1

Sweet Indulgence #2

Author Bio:
Jill Blake loves chocolate, leisurely walks where she doesn’t break a sweat, and books with a guaranteed happy ending. A native of Philadelphia, Jill now lives in southern California with her husband and three children. During the day, she works as a physician in a busy medical practice. At night, she pens steamy romances.


Beyond the Ivory Tower #1

Sweet Indulgence #2


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