New Release

★NEW RELEASE & EXCERPT★ CONSTANT BY RACHEL HIGGINSON

Genres: Contemporary Romance

CONSTANT: A Confidence Men Novel by Rachel Higginson 

Release Date: 16th November 2017

Buy Links: AMAZON US | AMAZON UK

Fifteen years ago I met Sayer Wesley. I fell in love with him. I promised I would never leave him. I swore nothing could break us apart.

Five years ago I broke my promise. I ran away. I took the one secret that could destroy us both and disappeared.

Five days ago I thought I saw him.

I knew it was impossible. Sayer was locked away, serving a deserved sentence in federal prison. He couldn’t find me.

He wouldn’t find me. I was too good at hiding. Too good at surviving.

Because if Sayer ever found me, there would be hell to pay for a plethora of sins. The worst of which, he didn’t even know about.

Five hours ago, I told myself I was crazy.

Five minutes ago, I saw him again.

Five seconds ago, I was too late.

There were times in my life that I thought I wouldn’t survive. I stood at the precipice of death and peered over the edge. One misstep or ill-timed gust of wind and I would have tipped over, fallen down the black abyss and never resurfaced.

Sometimes when I looked back at those moments, those infinitely dark and twisted times, I couldn’t breathe. I would feel my heart shatter all over. I would experience the tearing, crushing, ripping apart of my limbs and muscles, my tendons and veins, my heart and my mind. I would forget how to breathe.

I would forget how to be.

Until I remembered him.

He was the one constant in my life that had pushed me through the darkness. He was the one constant in my life that loved me beyond everything else, beyond what I was or had been or could ever be. He wanted me to be better. He wanted to be better for me.

And yet he was as tangled in the madness as I was.

I didn’t have that life anymore. I had broken free and found something safe to build a foundation on. But I couldn’t remember the past without imagining his smile or his eyes, his touch. I couldn’t think about where I had been without thinking of where we were supposed to go.

Where he was supposed to take me.

Sometimes life doesn’t work out the way you plan. Sometimes circumstances change and sometimes they’re for the better.

But he was my constant then and he is the constant ghost that haunts me now.

I might not be with him.

But he will always be with me.

Buy Links: AMAZON US | AMAZON UK

 

About Rachel Higginson:

Rachel Higginson is the author of The Five Stages of Falling in Love, Every Wrong Reason, The Star-Crossed Series, Love & Decay Novella Series and much more! She was born and raised in Nebraska, and spent her college years traveling the world. She fell in love with Eastern Europe, Paris, Indian Food and the beautiful beaches of Sri Lanka, but came back home to marry her high school sweetheart. Now she spends her days writing stories and raising four amazing kids.

Connect with Rachel:

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★NEW RELEASE★ THE WEEKEND: LONDON AFFAIR 1 BY RHYANNON BYRD

Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense
Published by Headline Eternal

THE WEEKEND: London Affair 1 by Rhyannon Byrd

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense

Release Date: 17th October 2017

Buy Links: Amazon UK | Amazon US |

The Weekend begins Rhyannon Byrd’s sexy new serial, London Affair, where a dangerous web of passion, deception and intrigue unfolds into an explosive love story… Perfect for fans of Sylvia Day, J. Kenner and Jodi Ellen Malpas.

American art-history graduate Emmy Reed is in London, hoping to land her dream job by getting an exclusive scoop on a famous reclusive artist. When a dangerous encounter throws her into the path of millionaire playboy Jase Beckett, Emmy is grateful for his quick-thinking – but equally determined to turn down his proposal to be his date for a family wedding. That is, until she discovers that her sought-after artist is his grandfather.

Tired of the game-playing women in his circle, Jase finds Emmy refreshingly fascinating. And as the weekend progresses and they work together to survive his insufferable family’s devious scheming, Emmy and Jase find themselves drowning in an intoxicating sexual chemistry that leaves them both desperate for more…and reeling emotionally.

When their stunning weekend is over, neither is ready to let go. But dark secrets surround the Beckett family – can their fledgling relationship survive the damaging revelations to come?

Buy Links: Amazon UK | Amazon US |

About the Author:

I’m a California transplant in the most beautiful part of the UK, and I live here with my wonderful husband who’s a Brit, our two great kids who always make me laugh, and our crazy but loveable Rottie. I can get lost for hours on end on Pinterest, and some of my favorite things are books, music, beaches, travel, art, museums, sunshine, good food, rock concerts, movies, American football, and last but not least, spending time with my insanely loud but awesome family.

As for my work, I feel incredibly lucky to be able to do something that’s both fun and creative—and that I completely love—for a living. I started writing full-time a decade ago, and I’m now the bestselling author of more than thirty contemporary and paranormal romance titles, including the Dangerous Tides series and theBloodrunners series. I’ve published books with Berkley Heat, HQN, and Harlequin Nocturne…and I’m thrilled to have my new London Affair serial with Headline Eternal. 

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★NEW RELEASE & REVIEW★ THE LEARNING HOURS BY SARA NEY

Genres: New Adult

The Learning Hours by Sara Ney

Series: How to Date a Douchebag, #3

Release Date: 26th September 2017

He’s not a douchebag; but that doesn’t stop his friends from turning him into one.

MY FRIENDS WANT ME TO GET LAID.

So much so that they plastered my ugly mug all over campus, in bold printed letters:

Are you the lucky lady who’s going to break our roommate’s cherry?

Him: socially awkward man with average-sized penis looking for willing sexual partner. You: must have pulse. Text him at: 555-254-5551

The morons can’t even spell. And the texts I’ve been receiving are what wet dreams are made of. But I’m not like these douchebags, no matter how hard they try to turn me into one.

THIS ISN’T THE KIND OF ATTENTION I WANT.

One text stands out from hundreds. One number I can’t bring myself to block. She seems different. Hotter, even in black and white.

However, after seeing her in person, I know she’s not the girl for me. But my friends won’t let up—they just don’t get it. Douchebags or not, there’s one thing they’ll never understand:

GIRLS DON’T WANT ME.

Especially her.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | iBooks | B&N | Kobo

★5 STARS★

Be still my Douche-loving heart! I’m just over here waving my pom-poms for the team Douchebag cheer squad.

D is for delightful. Surprisingly insightful.
O is for outrageous. Hilariously contagious.
U is for unique. Your interest this will pique.
C is for the chapter titles. Little laughs you’ll try to stifle.
H is for the Heroine. On a good foot we did not begin.
E is for emotional. I’ll be very clear, I shed a tear.
B is for bilingual, baby. That charming tongue did drive me crazy.
A is for sweet as can be. This Hero is the one for me.
G is for please give me more. Another Douchebag I would adore.

He’s seated at a table in the far corner when I spot him from the door. He’s not hard to miss—not with his purple t-shirt in a sea of black and yellow, and wavy mussed hair.

He’s slouching, hunched over his table.

Defeated. Tired.

My stomach rolls with nerves, nerves that have me rooted to the spot in the doorway, watching him.
Just watching.

For the entire four minutes I stand here, he sits immobile, studying his laptop, eyes moving along the screen, completely transfixed by whatever he’s reading.

Learning.

“Just go over there,” I whisper to myself, blowing out a puff of pent-up air.

I put one foot in front of the other and begin toward him, spine ramrod straight, steeling myself, prepared for another argument.

Twenty feet.

Fifteen.

Eight.

Two.

“Hi.”

No reply.

“Do you mind if I sit here?” I lay my hand on the back of the wooden chair across from him, intending to pull it out.

He stiffens but doesn’t lift his head. “Yes I mind.”

“Would you mind if I sat at the table next to you?” I’m pushing his buttons, looking for a reaction, but he only spares me a brief glance.

Shrugs. “Free country.”

I bite my lip to hide a smile, glad he didn’t tell me to take a hike…

 


 

About Sara Ney:

Sara Ney is the USA Today Bestselling Author of the How to Date a Douchebag series, and is best known for her sexy, laugh-out-loud New Adult romances. Among her favorite vices, she includes: iced latte’s, historical architecture and well-placed sarcasm. She lives colorfully, collects vintage books, art, loves flea markets, and fancies herself British.

She lives with her husband, children, and her ridiculously large dog.

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★NEW RELEASE & ARC REVIEW★ AUTOBOYOGRAPHY BY CHRISTINA LAUREN

Genres: Young Adult
Published by Simon & Schuster

 

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | iTunesAudible |

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

Genre: Young Adult, LGBT

Release Date: 12th September 2017

Fangirl meets Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda in this funny and poignant coming-of-age novel from New York Times bestselling author Christina Lauren about two boys who fall in love in a writing class—one from a progressive family and the other from a conservative religious community.

Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.

But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.

It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | iTunesAudible |

★4 STARS

I was much too curious about the blurb to Autoboyography to pass up the opportunity to read it. Admittedly there were aspects to it that made me nervous as to what kind of read it would be. But in all honesty after reading the first page I was instantly reassured by the style and tone of the writing.

High School can be an awkward time for most of us, and in theory none more so than for Tanner Scott. He’s an agonist, bisexual boy living in a highly conservative religious community. His family are incredibly supportive, but even as progressive as they are; they understand the importance of Tanner keeping his sexuality hidden.

Although not currently able to live the open life he has in the past, it hasn’t held Tanner back from making the most of his High School experience in Utah. He has friends, he has a social life, and best of all a personality I couldn’t help but fall in love with. Bullied Coerced by his best friend to take part his school’s prestigious writing Seminar is not how he hoped to spend his last semester, but he’s never been one to turn down a dare.

Tanner is fully prepared to coast the course, but once he sets his eyes on class alumni and mentor Sebastian Brother, his whole world is about to be shaken up.

I can’t tell you the range of emotions I went through reading this novel. It was brilliantly awkward at times to the point of laughing out loud, but there was also the angst that felt heightened due its star crossed nature. It’s a coming of age story that focuses on self-acceptance and tolerance, but most importantly it’s a sweet story of first love.


About the Author:

Yes, there are two of us! Lauren (on the left) and Christina (on the right).

Christina Lauren is the combined pen name of long-time writing partners/besties/soulmates Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings. The #1 international bestselling coauthor duo writes both Young Adult and Adult Fiction, and together has produced fourteen New York Times bestselling novels.

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★NEW RELEASE & ARC REVIEW★ TEMPORARY BY SARINA BOWEN & SARAH MAYBERRY

Genres: Contemporary Fiction

Buy LinksAmazon US | Amazon UK | iBooks | B&N | Kobo |

TEMPORARY by Sarina Bowen & Sarah Mayberry

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: 11th September  2017

The most beautiful man I’ve ever seen is the one who can ruin everything…

The first time I lay eyes on Callan Walker, I know he’ll be trouble. With his smug grin, hot Aussie accent and thousand dollar shoes, he’s just the kind of rich guy who always gets what he wants.

And he wants two things: a night of sin, and my cooperation as he outmaneuvers his powerful mother to take control of his uncle’s estate.

I can’t afford either one. I’m the only thing standing between my little sister and the foster care system. He may have money and charm on his side, but I have something even more powerful — pure desperation. This temp job at his mother’s company can become a full time job for me. It has to.

But when Callan’s eyes rake over my body, sometimes I forget my obligations. His piercing gaze finds the fun, optimistic girl I used to be and not the tired person I’ve become.

And it works–if only for a moment. Our night together was a mistake. I can’t afford to get sucked into his high-powered family’s treachery. But the closer I get to Callan, the more layers I find beneath those expensive clothes. Though I can’t forget this is temporary. He’s temporary. I have too much to lose.

Too bad my foolish heart didn’t get the memo…

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | iBooks | B&N | Kobo |

★4 STARS★

There’s a new writing duo in Town and they come bearing the gift that is Australia’s hottest export, Callan Walker.

A man like Callan is just the kind of distraction Grace needs, but one she simply can’t afford. She’s desperate to find a stable permanent job in order to support herself and her fifteen year old sister, so when the opportunity arises to do just that, she won’t allow the walking temptation that is Callan Walker to stand in her way.

Grace Kerrington stands in the way of Callan being able to fulfil his beloved late uncle’s last wishes. More content to spend his time Island hopping, Callan has no desire to take his place in the family’s multi-million dollar business. It’s been a bone of contention between himself and his mother and their relationship flits between frosty to non-existent. By default any one employed by his mother is on the side of the enemy, but in order find the information he requires, he needs to temporarily play nice with Grace.

Forced to work together, they have no choice but to come to an uneasy truce. An unease that is made greater by the ungodly amount of attraction they for have one another. As Callan Playboy façade begins to slip, so too do Grace’s career prospects.

I really enjoyed peeling back the layers and getting down under with Callan. There’s a vulnerable boyish charm to him, and seeing that side to him was wholly endearing. Whilst Grace’s social predicament may have been a precarious one, I was instantly enamoured by how resolute she is in making sure she is able to provide for her sister.

I’m really looking forward to more from this duo. Whilst I’m well acquainted with the goodness that is Sarina Bowen, it’s always great to add a new author to the roster as I feel I have with Sarah Mayberry.

 

About Sarina Bowen

sarinakitchen

Sarina Bowen is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance. She lives in Vermont’s Green Mountains with her family, six chickens and too much ski gear and hockey equipment.

In 2016, Sarina became a Rita Award winner! The Romance Writers of America honored HIM by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy with Best Contemporary Romance, Mid-Length.


About Sarah Mayberry:

I grew up in Melbourne, Australia. I’ve pretty much always wanted to be a writer. In pre-school I was always rifling through the craft cupboard, looking for paper to take home and turn into “books”. And I’ve always loved reading. As a teenager, I perfected the art of walking home from school while reading at the same time. (Okay, occasionally I tripped.)

 Sarah is revoltingly happy with her partner of twelve years, Chris, who is a talented scriptwriter. Not only does he offer fantastic advice and solutions to writing problems, but he’s also handsome, funny and sexy. When she’s not gushing over him, she loves to read romance and fantasy novels, go to the movies, sew and cook for her friends. She has also become a recent convert to Pilates, which she knows she should do more often.

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★NEW RELEASE & REVIEW★ GHOSTED BY J.M. DARHOWER

Genres: Contemporary Fiction

Buy Links: UK | USUK paperbackUS paperback |

GHOSTED by J.M. Darhower

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: 24th August 2017

He’s a troubled young actor, Hollywood’s newest heartthrob, struggling with fame as the star of the latest superhero franchise. Through scandal after scandal, addiction on top of addiction, a flurry of paparazzi hunt him as he fights to conquer his demons.

She’s a single mother, assistant manager at a grocery store, existing in monotony with her five-year-old daughter. Every day when she goes to work, lurid tabloids surround her, the face of a notorious bad boy haunting her from their covers.

A man and a woman, living vastly different lives, but that wasn’t always the case. Once, they were just a boy and a girl who bonded over comic books and fell in love unexpectedly.

When Kennedy Garfield met Jonathan Cunningham back in high school, she knew he had all the makings of a tragic hero. With stars in his eyes, and her heart on her sleeve, the pair ran away together to follow their dreams.

But dreams, sometimes, turn into nightmares.

Now, years later, the only thing they share is a daughter—one who has no idea her father plays her favorite superhero. But Jonathan is desperate to make amends, and at the top of his list is the woman who gave up everything for him and the little girl he hasn’t yet met.

Buy Links: UK | USUK paperbackUS paperback |

★5 STARS★

Ghosted tells the story of one time childhood sweethearts, Jonathan Cunningham and Kennedy Garfield. At Seventeen Jonathan is the moon, the stars, and the apple of Kennedy’s eye. At Twenty seven, he’s Hollywood royalty and deadbeat father to their five year old daughter, Madison.

The world knows him as “Jonny Cunning” but she knew him back when they shared a love of comics and would skip school to go to the movies. Now she knows him as the drunk who shows up once in a while full of apologies and empty promises.

They are worlds apart until an accident on set leaves Jonny unable to work and in need of a place to recuperate. When he thinks of home, he thinks of her, so there is only one place he wants to be. As expected Kennedy is not pleased to see him. More than the hurt his presence dredges up, it’s the fear that he will disappoint their daughter, a daughter who is unaware that her favourite onscreen superhero is her failure of a father.

Ghosted is a triumph. Darhower does not skimp on the rawness of heartbreak nor the fragility that comes with renewed hope. There is a subduedness to this fierce romance and its slow burn that built momentum with every page read. It’s a story of redemption, growth and forgiveness not to mention the comedic element that came with Maddie’s character. I adored her and I love Darhower’s style of writing parent romances.

There are many reasons why J.M. Darhower is one of my favourite authors, but if you need just one, read Ghosted.

 

About the Author:

J.M. Darhower is the USA Today Bestselling Author of paranormal/erotic/romantic suspense novels about the baddest bad boys and the ladies who love them. Fangirl at heart, J.M. is obsessed with books, music, and all things Marvel, especially the glorious Sebastian Stan. She spends her days in a tiny town in North Carolina, churning out words and chasing down Pokémon.

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★NEW RELEASE & REVIEW★ ILLEGAL CONTACT BY SANTINO HASSELL

Genres: Sports Romance
Published by Berkley

Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell

Series: The Baron, #1

Release Date: 15th August 2017

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

The rules of the game don’t apply off the field in this first Barons novel. 

New York Barons tight end Gavin Brawley is suspended from the team and on house arrest after a video of him brawling goes viral. Gavin already has a reputation as a jerk with a temper on and off the field—which doesn’t help him once he finds himself on the wrong side of the law. And while he’s been successful professionally, he’s never been lucky when it comes to love.

Noah Monroe is a recent college grad looking for a job—any job—to pay off his mounting student debt. Working as Gavin’s personal assistant/babysitter seems like easy money. But Noah isn’t prepared for the electrifying tension between him and the football player. He’s not sure if he’d rather argue with Gavin or tackle him to the floor. But both men know the score, and neither is sure what will happen once Gavin’s timeout is over…

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

★5 STARS★

There was none of the “new author to me” jitters when it came to diving into this one. When a book comes highly recommended by the ladies at Berkley, and one of your favourite authors, (Sarina Bowen) the only dutiful fangirl thing to do is to dive on in.

Illegal Contact is the first standalone novel in the sports romance Barons series, and the first step to what I’m sure will be an unhealthy addiction to the author, Santino Hassell. Seriously, where have you been all my life? There was none of the getting to know you process that happens with a “new to me author”, from the first page the writing was familiar, fun and engaging yet still managed to be fresh and exciting.

I had a wonderful time drooling over the blond bombshell that is Gavin Brawley. He’s the incredibly talented but unapproachable tight end of the New York Barons. His give no f*cks attitude on and off the field have made him a target for the press and there’s no shortage of column inches documenting his misdemeanours.

His latest PR disaster earns him a team suspension and a stint under house arrest. If my gorgeous grump wasn’t grumpy enough, having to hire an assistant to take care of things he will be unable to leaves a bitter taste in his mouth.

The man for the job is financially hard up Noah Monroe. His nerdy exterior might be give of major Clark Kent vibes, but Noah gives as good as he gets when on the receiving end of one of Gavin’s tongue lashings. Their working relationship is tension fraught, but Gavin enjoys being challenged by Noah more than he would care to admit.

The sexual tension with these two was out of this world, and I absolutely loved the dynamic and progression of their relationship. Illegal Contact was the total package and with secondary characters that also stole the show, the Baron’s series promises to be a game changer.

 

About Santino Hassell

Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family but grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into a grumpy introvert and unlikely romance author with an affinity for baseball caps. His novels are heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, and his desire to write relationships fueled by intensity and passion.

He’s been a finalist in both the Bisexual Book Awards and the EPIC Awards, and was nominated for a prestigious RITA award in 2017. His work has been featured in BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, Washington Post, RT Magazine, and Cosmopolitan Magazine.

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★NEW RELEASE & EXCERPT★ THE LAVENDER HOUSE BY HILARY BOYD

Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance
Published by Quercus

The delightfully warm and witty new novel on risking everything for a second chance at love, for fans of Kathryn Hughes, The Letter.

THE LAVENDER HOUSE by Hilary Boyd

Release Date: 8th August 2017
Publisher: Quercus

Amazon US | Amazon UK

Nancy de Freitas is the glue that holds her family together. Caught between her ageing, ailing mother Frances, and her struggling daughter Louise, frequent user of Nancy’s babysitting services, it seems Nancy’s fate is to quietly go on shouldering the burden of responsibility for all four generations. Her divorce four years ago put to rest to any thoughts of a partner to share her later years with. Now it looks like her family is all she has.

Then she meets Jim. Smoker, drinker, unsuccessful country singer and wearer of cowboy boots, he should be completely unsuited to the very together Nancy. And yet, there is a real spark.
But Nancy’s family don’t trust Jim one bit. They’re convinced he’ll break her heart, maybe run off with her money – he certainly distracts her from her family responsibilities.

Can she be brave enough to follow her heart? Or will she remain glued to her family’s side and walk away from one last chance for love?

Prologue

Nancy was in the kitchen preparing supper, listening to The Archers on the radio, drizzling olive oil over some summer vegetables for roasting, when her husband, Christopher, walked in and told her he was leaving. The July evening was breezy and cool, but the doors to the garden were open, the tortoiseshell cat from next door prowling around the tubs on the flagstone patio, rubbing his body luxuriously along the smooth earthenware sides of a pot of lavender.

Christopher stood across the room, the island worktop between them. He was dressed in jeans and his navy sweater, the high zip-neck brushing his chin, although the zip was partially undone. Thin, small and tidy, tanned from his endless walks in the Suffolk wetlands, his gray hair short, almost monk-like, he seemed determined, almost fierce, as he clutched his brown leather holdall in his left hand.

“Where are you going?” Nancy asked, holding up her oily hands, like a surgeon ready to operate, as she paused in her task of tossing the onions, zucchinis, peppers and baby tomatoes. “It’s nearly supper time.” She reached across to turn the radio off, using her elbow to press the green knob: Christopher hated The Archers.

“I’m going to see Tatjana.”

“Now? Why?”

Tatjana was the newest member of the Downland Singers, a small madrigal group Christopher had set up nearly thirty years ago. From Latvia, she had auditioned when Gillian Perry—Christopher’s protégée—had left because of her husband’s cancer. Christopher had been very enthusiastic about her, said she had an extraordinarily pure soprano voice. Which obviously—as Nancy was about to discover—was not her only asset.

Not answering her question, her husband said, “I won’t be back tonight.”

Nancy frowned, not getting it.

“I won’t be back,” he repeated.

“Won’t be back? Why not?”

“I’m staying with Tatjana, Nancy.”

And when Nancy, still baffled, continued to look blank, he added, by way of explanation, “We’re in love.”

She stared at him. From a man of sixty-nine, the words sounded made up, fatuous. Genuinely unable to take them in, she lowered her hands and reached for the kitchen roll, wiping the oil from each of her fingers one by one. “Well,” she said, “if that’s the case, you’d better get off, then.” Her gaze was fixed on his face and she saw his shock, almost bewilderment, at her reply; shock that must mirror her own.

“I’m sorry,” he said, looking away.

And she thought that he probably was, in his own way. Not a man to emote, nor someone who seemed to care much about anything in life except his music, Christopher de Freitas nonetheless considered himself to be a decent person. And a brilliant musician—although not all would agree. An Early Music specialist, he had studied classical guitar at the Royal College, then the lute. His madrigal singers were internationally famous among Early Music enthusiasts.

Nancy had met him when he came to the Royal Northern College of Music—where she was studying piano—to give a lute master class. Not that she was interested in the instrument as such, but her fellow student, Oliver, was, and she was interested in Oliver. But he was quickly forgotten as Nancy became mesmerized by Christopher’s penetratingly blue eyes—which lighted frequently on her as if he had singled her out for special attention—his mastery of the instrument, his fluent exposition of Renaissance music and madrigal forms. By the end of the two hours, she was hypnotized. Afterward she had gone up to thank him.

He had given her his card. “If you’re ever in London, look me up. I have a concert at the Cadogan Hall in June. I can get you tickets, if you like?” It was posed as a question, although she felt he assumed she would “like.” His confidence was absolute.

“You could have told me earlier,” she said now, as if she were speaking from outside her body, looking down on the middle-aged pair in their tidy, middle-class kitchen. No shouting, no drama, all perfectly polite, as she added, “I wouldn’t have bothered with supper.” Her body was screwed so tight, she seemed capable only of such inanities as she waited for him to go.

“Right . . .” her husband muttered, still hovering, as if he were reluctant to leave, whereas the exact opposite must be the case, Nancy thought. He must be desperate to get this scene over with, to escape his intolerable guilt. Desperate to lie with relief against Tatjana’s ample bosom.

That was the last word spoken in their thirty-four-year marriage.

Better than a note on the kitchen table? Nancy wondered, after three-quarters of a bottle of Rioja on an empty stomach, gazing at the vegetables still sitting forlornly on the work-top—like her, rejected, deemed not fit for purpose. Numb with shock, she didn’t cry. And after the whole bottle of wine and a couple of large shots of Christopher’s Glenfiddich, she realized through the drunken haze that she’d known for some time, like a painful bruise she couldn’t touch, what was going on between her husband and Tatjana Liepa.

Chapter One

Four years later

What the hell are you supposed to wear for a line-dancing evening in a Brighton pub? Nancy asked herself, as she flicked through the rail of clothes in her cupboard, vainly searching for an outfit for her friend Lindy’s sixtieth. Lindy had not been helpful.

“Oh, doesn’t matter, wear jeans and boots or something,” she’d said airily. But Nancy’s jeans were M & S jeggings—not even distant cousins to authentic Levi’s—her black boots better suited to a day’s work in a building society office than stomping the boards to a Dolly Parton song.

All the clothes that used to fill her wardrobe when she was still Mrs. Christopher de Freitas—sleek dresses and velvet jackets, black evening trousers, silk tops and beaded handbags—were long gone to the charity shop in Aldeburgh, and she didn’t miss them one bit.

I’ll look like someone who’s wandered in from one of Mother’s bridge evenings, she thought, ripping off a frumpy light-blue cotton shirt she’d tried on because it was sort of denim-colored. In fact, I dress more like my mother with every passing day. Which thought had her slamming her wardrobe shut and running downstairs, out of her cottage, across the gravel to the bigger house.

“Hiya.” Ross, her son-in-law, grinned as Nancy came into the kitchen, a curved, two-handled blade poised in his hands, the chopping board in front of him covered with a mound of bright green herbs. Beside him was a bowl of uncooked gray prawns, another of broccoli stems, a smaller one with chopped garlic, a bottle of soy sauce and a shiny red chili. Nancy smiled back, wondering if she ever saw him when he wasn’t attached to a knife and surrounded by ingredients. He had his own restaurant, the Lime Kiln, three miles away, and even when he wasn’t there—like today, Sunday—he still did nothing but cook every moment he was awake.

“How’s it going?” he asked, turning to skim the sharp metal blade back and forth at high speed across the herbs. Overweight, broad-shouldered and around six feet in height, he had shaved the last vestiges of his hair, leaving a gleaming dome, which seemed to heighten the beauty of his huge brown dark-lashed eyes, the fullness of his mouth and his strong, jutting chin. Pale from too much time indoors, if he wasn’t handsome he was charismatic, with a loud voice and a ready smile. Nancy liked him a lot.

“Not well,” she said, shifting Bob, the cat—female, but her granddaughters had insisted on the name—and flinging herself down on the faded green sofa, strewn with a bright and diverse set of cushions. “Is Louise upstairs? I need to find an outfit . . . I’m going line dancing.”

Ross’s eyes widened and he guffawed. “Line dancing? You’re kidding me. Wouldn’t have thought that was your thing, Nancy.”

“It isn’t, but it’s Lindy’s sixtieth birthday party. What can I do?” In fact it wasn’t the dancing that bothered Nancy—she loved dancing on the rare occasions when she got the chance. It was the party itself, any party, that wasn’t Nancy’s “thing.” Unlike her ex-husband, who seemed able to enter a room full of complete strangers and instantly bond with them, Nancy found socializing like pulling teeth, the low-grade panic never quite going away. And she’d barely been out in the years since the split. At first after Christopher’s defection she’d retreated, shut the doors of their white-painted Suffolk farmhouse on her friends and made endless excuses, which became increasingly implausible, to avoid their company, until they’d given up trying. Then, when she’d moved to the cottage just north of Brighton, three years ago now, teaming up with Louise and Ross, she had known no one with whom to party.

Before Ross had time to answer her, there was a shriek from the TV room. Hope, nine, and Jazzy, six, came barreling into the kitchen with shrieks of “Nana, Nana!” and threw themselves into her arms.

Clutching a large glass of Pinot, pressed upon her by Ross, some salted almonds inside her, Nancy plunked herself down on her daughter and son-in-law’s bed. Hope was already eagerly rummaging in her mother’s drawers and cupboards.

“Look, Nana,” she exclaimed, her large brown eyes—inherited from her father—alive with the drama as she reached on tiptoe and yanked down a shimmery gold knitted bolero jacket that would have been better suited, in Nancy’s opinion, to one of Hope’s Barbies than either her or Louise. “This is perfect for a party.”

“Umm . . . Maybe a bit . . . shiny?”

Louise chuckled at her mother’s expression. “Impulse buy,” she said, tossing a fringed leather jacket in butter-colored suede at her. “Perfect, no?” She turned to rummage along the rail again. “I’ve got some denim dungarees here somewhere . . . but maybe that’s a bit more farmhand than cowboy.”

Jazzy pulled her thumb out of her mouth. “Nana can’t wear dungarees to a party,” she said, her tone shocked. She was sitting beside her on the bed, watching operations carefully with her round blue eyes.

“What about these?” Louise, nodding agreement, brandished a pair of jeans. “These are better. They should fit and they’re real Levi’s.”

Her daughter took after Christopher in appearance: small-boned, slim, with well-defined, almost sharp features. She was shorter than her mother by about two inches, very like her father, with his deep-blue eyes. Only Nancy’s thick, previously dark-brown hair seemed to have survived the genetic inheritance, and Louise didn’t make the most of it, pulling it back in a short, severe ponytail. But she had a sort of gamine quality that Nancy knew men found attractive, and a charming smile that instantly softened her darting, nervy expression.

“Go on, try them on,” Louise was urging.

“Now? Maybe I’ll take them home . . .” Nancy was embarrassed in front of the girls, who were gazing disapprovingly at their mother’s choice of garments.

“No, come on. I want to see what you look like. Shoo, girls, let Nana change. I’ll call you when she’s ready.”

Once the girls had gone—she could hear them giggling outside the door—Nancy undressed to her T-shirt and knickers and pulled on the jeans and jacket. The jeans were a bit short and a bit tight around her post-menopausal midriff, but the jacket fitted perfectly. She eyed herself in the long mirror on the bedroom wall, Bob rubbing against her legs as she stood there.

“See? You look brilliant.” Her daughter grinned at her from the other side of the bed. “Very C and W.”

“C and W?”

“Country and western, Mum. Get with the program!”

“Ha! Of course.” She twisted sideways in the mirror, twitching her fringe on her forehead, her pure silver-white hair falling in a thick bob to just past her chin, accentuating her strong cheekbones and wide gray eyes. For a second she had a tantalizing glimpse of her younger self as she twirled in her daughter’s clothes. “I had a panic earlier that I was beginning to dress like Mum.”

Louise laughed. “Could be worse. Granny always looks incredible.”

“Yes, but she’s eighty-four! I have the exact same M & S jeggings as she does.”

“You and half the country.”

Nancy sighed. “I think I panicked because the other day she pointed out that I’m the same age as she was when Daddy died. And I thought she seemed so old at the time.”

“You’re not old, Mum. Sixty is the new forty,” Louise said briskly, shutting down Nancy’s worries as she always did. Her daughter spent a lot of time in a state of anxiety herself, and perhaps couldn’t cope with it in Nancy too. Nancy found it disconcerting sometimes, but perhaps it was better not to dwell on things she couldn’t change. It was just the creeping fear, new to her, that the rest of her life was already mapped out, that she would follow her mother’s example of safe, female company—notwithstanding Dennis, a septuagenarian fancy-man her mother’s friend had recently taken up with—filling the time left with bridge and Noël Coward, fancy cakes, cruises and Marks & Spencer, en route to the grave. Because although Frances had an enviable life for someone of her age, she seemed permanently discontented, disappointed at the way things had turned out.

“Found them!” Louise, who had been scrambling in the bottom of her cupboard, waved aloft a pair of ankle boots with small heels and pointed toes in light-brown suede, metal studs decorating the zip line. “These are almost cowboy.” She handed them to her mother. “They don’t quite match the jacket, but no one will notice that.”

“Will they fit?”

“Have a go. I’ve worn them a lot so they’re quite stretched.” She watched Nancy struggle into the boots. “Fantastic. Come in, girls, come and look at Nana.” She eyed her up and down. “You’re so classy, so elegant, Mum. You look good enough for any line-dancing party.”

New York • London

© 2016 by Hilary Boyd

First published in the United States by Quercus in 2017.


Praise for The Lavender House:

“Warm-hearted and with a beady eye, Boyd gets under the skin of her characters to show that falling in love isn’t limited to the young.”  — Sunday Express

“A warm-hearted story of families, trust and second-chance love.” — Sunday Mirror

“Hilary Boyd in her inimitable fashion has told the story yet again of mature love which, like an excellent vintage wine, is just waiting to burst out of its barrels.”— My Weekly    

“Boyd hits the bullseye with this story that will resonate with all women.”— For The Love of Books

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Hilary Boyd trained as a nurse at Great Ormond Street Hospital, then as a marriage guidance counselor. After a degree in English Literature at London University in her thirties, she moved into health journalism, writing a Mind, Body, Spirit column for the Daily Express. She published six non-fiction books on health-related subjects before turning to fiction and writing a string of bestsellers, starting with Thursdays in the Park. Hilary is married to film director/producer Don Boyd.

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ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

QUERCUS publishes under the imprints Quercus, MacLehose Press, Quercus Children’s Books, and Jo Fletcher Books. We publish a range of high-quality commercial, literary, and translated fiction, as well as nonfiction, science fiction, fantasy, horror, young adult, and juvenile titles. Quercus is a Hachette company.

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★RELEASE BLITZ & EXCERPT★ THE FORBIDDEN BY JODI ELLEN MALPAS

Genres: Contemporary Romance
Published by Forever

THE FORBIDDEN by Jodi Ellen Malpas

Release Date: 8th August, 2017

Publisher: Forever Romance

 

A new story of dangerous temptations from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the This Man trilogy. 

Annie has never experienced the ‘spark’ with a guy – the kind of instant chemistry that steals your breath and blindsides you completely. Until a night out with friends brings her face to face with the wickedly sexy and mysterious Jack. It’s not just a spark that ignites between them. It’s an explosion. Jack promises to consume Annie, and he fully delivers on that promise.

Overwhelmed by the intensity of their one night together, Annie slips out of their hotel room. She is certain that a man who’s had such a powerful impact on her and who could bend her to his will so easily, must be dangerous. But she’s already in too deep. And Jack isn’t only dangerous. He is forbidden.

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“Every kiss, every sexy scene, every word between this pair owned a piece of my soul.  I could read this book a hundred times and still react as if it was the first time.  The Protector is a top 2016 fave for me.” –Audrey Carlan, #1 bestselling author of The Calendar Girl series

 

Keeping his eyes on mine, he calls to the barman. “Two tequilas, please.”

“Tequila,” I muse, looking over my shoulder when the salt and lemon land behind me. “Is that my challenge?”

“Crying off?” he goads, reaching into his pocket and pulling out some notes.

“Never,” I scoff, turning into the bar. I don’t know what his game is, but I want to play. With him. “You’re asking me to prove I’m sober by doing a shot?” I narrow my eyes on him, teasing. “Or is your plan to get me drunk and take advantage of me?”

He smiles to himself as he pays the barman. “You don’t look like the kind of woman who could be taken advantage of.”

“What kind of woman do I look like, then?” I challenge quietly.

He turns into me, watching me for a few moments. “I don’t know, but I think I’d like to find out.”

I hold his gaze for a few seconds, no retort coming to me. I think I want him to find out, too, just as much as I want to find out what kind of man he is. My eyes drop from his sparkling greys, down his tall, lean frame to his feet.

Oh…fuck…

“Let’s play,” he says, moving in closer and pulling one of the glasses forward. I don’t mean to, but I yank my arm away abruptly when he brushes against me, startled by the tiny stabs of pleasure that pitter-patter all over my skin. The fleeting touch tells me he would feel as good as he looks, and—give me strength—he smells divine, all manly and earthy and fucking edible.

The sudden lapse in movement and talking from both of us becomes slightly awkward. I can feel him looking down at me.

“What do I have to do?” I ask again quietly, almost on a breathy gasp.

He clears his throat. “You’re not drunk?”

“Not even the slightest bit.” I raise my nose in the air.

“Good. Then you’ll smash this challenge first time.” He places a finger on the brim of one of the shot glasses. “Brace your palms on the edge of the bar,” he orders, firm but softly. I look at him, finding a serious face. “Go on.”

Frowning, I place my hands on the edge of the bar. “Okay?”

He takes my hips. He takes my fucking hips! I freeze from top to toe and swallow hard, waiting. My insides are quickly furling, my mind in chaos. “Move back a bit,” he says, pulling at them a little until I step back.

Oh, Jesus. I’m on fire. I have a strange man bending me over a bar in public, and me, Annie I’m-immune-to-men Ryan, isn’t fighting him off. It’s like he has me under a spell. What gives? I dare not look behind me. I’m not stupid enough to think Lizzy isn’t currently watching a man manipulate my body to where he wants it.

“You feel tense,” he observes, releasing me and moving back to my side.

I don’t deny it; neither do I confirm it. His big hands felt so good resting on my hips, so much so I have to resist not claiming them and putting them back where they were. “What now?” I ask, evidently struggling for air, damn me.

“Now.” He picks up his beer and grins. “I get to gloat that I had you bent over a bar within five minutes of meeting you.” He takes a swig, still grinning, and I hear the roar of a man down the bar laughing his head off.

Oh, the fucker! Part of me has admiration. Another part of me wants to slap him stupid; I don’t care how beautiful he is. And another part of me wants to rip his clothes from his body and ravish the sly bastard.

I cannot believe I fell for it! How many women has he played like a fiddle? I drop my head, shaking it to myself.

I knew that smile was dangerous. A man who can bend a woman to his will so easily and so soon couldn’t be anything less than lethal. And the fact that he got me with his wicked game means hats off to him. I can’t possibly take that away from him, and since I’m lacking in the dignity department right now, I decide not to slap him. Nor will I chuck a drink over his head, or fire a load of verbal abuse at him.

I’ll do what he least expects.

I push myself up and turn to face him, unable to stop myself from smiling at his half-grin. Holding his gaze, I slowly lick the back of my hand, blindly take the salt off the bar, sprinkle a bit, and take one of the shots of tequila. But as I’m taking my hand to my mouth to lick the salt up, he seizes my wrist and takes the shot from my other hand. My heartbeat accelerates, our eyes glued to each other as he moves into me and slowly brings my hand to his mouth. I watch, gripped, as he lazily licks up the salt from the back of my hand, eyes on mine, and then knocks the tequila back. Kill me now, for I will certainly die a happy woman. His tongue on my skin. His eyes boring into mine. His hold of my wrist. I must look like a statue—unable to talk, move, or think clearly.

“There’s one more tequila,” he says, cocking his head toward the bar but keeping me in his sights. “And it’s yours.”

Oh good lord. My heart is speeding up by the second as I watch him lick the back of his hand and sprinkle some salt. Then he offers it to me. I stare at his hand, and then slowly look up at him. I could get lost in those grey glittery eyes.

“I taste good,” he whispers.

 

About the Author

JEM

 

Jodi Ellen Malpas was born and raised in the Midlands’ town of Northampton, England, where she lives with her two boys. Working for her father’s construction business full-time, she tried to ignore the lingering idea of writing until it became impossible. She wrote in secret for a long time before finally finding the courage to unleash her creative streak, and in October 2012 she released This Man. She took a chance on a story with some intense characters and sparked incredible reactions from women all over the world. Writing powerful love stories and creating addictive characters have become her passion, a passion she now shares with her devoted readers.

Connect with Jodi:

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★NEW RELEASE★ TRUST BY KYLIE SCOTT

Genres: Young Adult

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK |  iBooks |

TRUST by Kylie Scott

Genre: Young Adult

Being young is all about the experiences: the first time you skip school, the first time you fall in love…the first time someone holds a gun to your head.

After being held hostage during a robbery at the local convenience store, seventeen year old Edie finds her attitude about life shattered. Unwilling to put up with the snobbery and bullying at her private school, she enrolls at the local public high school, crossing paths with John. The boy who risked his life to save hers.

While Edie’s beginning to run wild, however, John’s just starting to settle down. After years of partying and dealing drugs with his older brother, he’s going straight—getting to class on time, and thinking about the future.

An unlikely bond grows between the two as John keeps Edie out of trouble and helps her broaden her horizons. But when he helps her out with another first—losing her virginity—their friendship gets complicated.

Meanwhile, Edie and John are pulled back into the dangerous world they narrowly escaped. They were lucky to survive the first time, but this time they have more to lose—each other.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK |  iBooks |

 

About the Author:

kyliescottimageKylie is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She was voted Australian Romance Writer of the year, 2013 & 2014, by the Australian Romance Writer’s Association and her books have been translated into eleven different languages. She is a long time fan of romance, rock music, and B-grade horror films. Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet. You can learn more about Kylie from http://www.kylie-scott.com/

 

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