Saturday, April 30, 2016

Review: Into the Whirlwind (BOSS, Inc. #2) by Kat Martin


A bodyguard, a bounty hunter, a private investigator, no one can handle the heat like the men of BOSS, Inc.

Megan O'Brien is at her wit's end. Her three-year-old son has been kidnapped. No police, says the ransom demand. Fearing for her son's life, Meg has no choice but to turn to her former bodyguard, Dirk Reynolds.

Dirk's never forgiven Meg for the way she left him after their brief affair. But with bounty hunter Luke Brodie on his side, Dirk knows he's got to help Meg rescue her son.

The few clues they’ve gathered send them spiraling into a murky world of big banking and international crime. Meg may be way out of her depths, but she’s seeing a side of Dirk she never suspected—one no woman could possibly resist.  
Paperback, 400 pages
Expected publication: May 31st 2016 by Zebra
This is the second book in the Boss Inc series and honestly it was just okay for me. We first meet Meg and Dirk in the first book when he was her bodyguard. They had a fling but Meg cut him loose because she is a single mom and she didn't think he was the type of guy to take that on.

This story picks up about 6 months later and they haven't had any contact. Meg comes home and notices her 3 year old son is missing and in his place is a ransom note requesting money and no cops. She decides to go to the only person that can help and it just so happens to be Dirk.

Dirk fell in love with Meg and was hurt by her ending things. He has tried to move on but now he has to work closely with her again to bring her son home. Dirk knows he should leave her alone since she made it clear before but they closer they work together feels start to surface again but it can put the whole mission in danger.

Honestly Meg annoyed me at times, one minute she's like I need to stay away from him to please I need you just tonight. She ends up convincing him to have sex with her to get her to sleep while her son is still missing. Since I'm not a mother myself I can't connect with her on that but i would like to think that would or could never happen. She treated him like a yo-yo pretty much the whole time when he was just trying to do what she wanted in the first place.

With the description of Dirk I was honestly picturing him as a 80s cop with the mustache which made me giggle constantly when I was reading. I thought he was sweet and just had this way about him that made me want to say to hell with Meg take me!

I did find some discrepancies in Dirks childhood story. At one part he says he didn't know about being apart of a real family because his mother worked all the time then another part when he refers to his mother leaving and he didn't remember her. So which is the real story behind Dirk and his family life?

The ending was a bit rushed and who was behind the kidnapping was expected. I would have liked a little more on both ends.

I'm really looking forward to reading the next book because Luke just sounds like his story is going to be a good from the blurb and the preview.

Review: At Any Cost (U.S. Marshals #4) by Mandy Baxter


Fast, cunning, and driven, he'll do whatever it takes to nail the most violent federal perps. But she is the one danger he'll never see coming…

She can't remember when she wasn't afraid. She can't go to the police. And "Olivia Gallagher" is only a day away from fleeing her Idaho wilderness life before biker gang leader Joel Meecum finally catches up with her. So keeping her rugged new neighbor at arm's length is the only safe play. Until Livy can't resist one last hungry chance to feel alive…

For U.S. Marshal Nick Brady, taking his vacation next door to Meecum's ex-girlfriend seemed the smartest way to find him. But suddenly, nothing is making sense. How could this feisty, straight-talking brunette ever get mixed up with Meecum's brutal crew? And why is he breaking his oath and getting so close that all he wants is to keep her safe? Now as the clock ticks, Nick and Livy's only chance at escape may be the one they can't survive…

ebook, 352 pages
Expected publication: May 31st 2016 by Zebra

Pre- Order:

I can't believe this is the fourth installment of Baxter's U.S. Marshals series and for me each book just gets better and better.

If you haven't started this series you are seriously missing out on some HOT U.S. Marshals who are bad ass but don't worry this one could be read as a standalone. In this story we meet Nick who is currently new to being a Marshal. The story begins with him being suspended for looking for the bad guys on his own. He even goes to the lengths of "borrowing" other case files from other Marshals (naughty boy Nick). Before he leaves on "vacation " he "borrows" another file on a MC guy who the Marshal service has been looking for a while. He catches a lead and goes with it which leads him to Livy.

Livy made a mistake and because of that has been in hiding for four years. She doesn't go out or have any friends since she doesn't know who to trust. Her only companion is her cat until a sexy cop rents the house across the street.

I really loved these two characters together. I found myself being sympathetic to everything she had to go through just to stay alive. She doesn't start living until Nick comes into the picture and I think she really needed that. Livy was smart and had a sarcastic side that made me love her as a heroine. Nick is also smart but completely driven by work. And OMG he's a dirty talker (swoon)! The romance between these two starts off a little slow since technically they have four weeks of being neighbors but once it gets started these two can't keep their hands off one another.

After reading this novel I'm already looking forward to the next. This book doesn't have a lot of action but it's filled with romance and the suspense of what's going to happen Livy in the end. To find out more I would definitely pick up this book!

Friday, April 29, 2016

House of the Hanging Jade Excerpt & Giveaway with Amy M. Reade

House of the Hanging Jade

By: Amy M. Reade

Releasing April 26, 2016 
Lyrical Press



Tired of the cold winters in Washington, D.C. and disturbed by her increasingly obsessive boyfriend, Kailani Kanaka savors her move back to her native Big Island of Hawaii. She also finds a new job as personal chef for the Jorgensen family. The gentle caress of the Hawaiian trade winds, the soft sigh of the swaying palm trees, and the stunning blue waters of the Pacific lull her into a sense of calm at the House of Hanging Jade--an idyll that quickly fades as it becomes apparent that dark secrets lurk within her new home. Furtive whispers in the night, a terrifying shark attack, and the discovery of a dead body leave Kailani shaken and afraid. But it's the unexpected appearance of her ex-boyfriend, tracking her every move and demanding she return to him, that has her fearing for her life . . .


Goodreads Link:


Buy Links:      Amazon | B & N | Google Play | iTunes | Kobo


Author Info

USA Today bestselling author Amy M. Reade is also the author of Secrets of Hallstead House and The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor. She grew up in northern New York, just south of the Canadian border, and spent her weekends and summers on the St. Lawrence River. She graduated from Cornell University and then went on to law school at Indiana University in Bloomington. She practiced law in New York City before moving to southern New Jersey, where, in addition to writing, she is a wife, a full-time mom and a volunteer in school, church and community groups. She lives just a stone’s throw from the Atlantic Ocean with her husband and three children as well as a dog and two cats. She loves cooking and all things Hawaii and is currently at work on her next novel. Visit her website at or at her blog.

Author Links:  Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads 

Rafflecopter Giveaway (One digital copy of HOUSE OF THE HANGING JADE)



I knew I should have stayed home.


I bent my head as the wind whipped down Massachusetts Avenue, hurling snowflakes at my face, stinging my cheeks with hard, frosty pellets. The icy sidewalks were treacherous, making my walk to work precarious and slow. There were very few others brave or foolish enough to be out in this weather. I passed one man out walking his dog and silently praised him for being so devoted.


I finally arrived at the restaurant. I stamped on the snow that had piled up against the front door and slipped my key into the lock with fingers stiff and clumsy from the cold. Once inside, it only took me a second to realize that no one else was there. On a normal day, one without a blizzard, my assistant Nunzio would already have come in through the back and flipped on the kitchen lights before I arrived. I groaned. Even Nunzio, whom I could always count on, had stayed home. I moved through the darkened dining room and turned on the lights in the kitchen. As they blinked to life, I heard a heavy knock at the front door.


Hurrying to open it, I recognized the face of Geoffrey, the restaurant’s owner and my current boyfriend, bundled up in a thick scarf and hat.


“Kailani, what are you doing here?” he exclaimed, brushing snow off his boots in the vestibule.


“Someone has to be here to get things started,” I answered testily. “I don’t think we can open today,” Geoffrey said. “There’s no way the delivery trucks can get through, and I don’t think we’d have any customers even if they could.”


“You mean I came all this way for nothing?” I whined. Geoffrey smiled down at me. “Sorry. I just assumed you’d know not to come in on a day like this.”


“Why did you come in, then?”


“To catch up on paperwork. Plus, snowstorms don’t bother me.” “Ugh. They bother me. Well, I guess if you don’t need me here, I’ll head back home.”


“Want me to stop by later?”


I didn’t, but I nodded. Geoffrey and I hadn’t been dating for long. He was already becoming a little too clingy.


He leaned over and kissed me on the cheek. “Be safe getting home. I’d call you a cab, but there isn’t a single one on the streets.” “Believe me, I know.”


I trudged home the same way I had come, the snow falling even harder now and blowing sideways, making it difficult for me to see. When I finally made it to my apartment building, I clumped up the stairs in my heavy boots and stood inside my apartment, leaning against the door for several moments to catch my breath. It took me a while to peel off all my layers. I left them lying on the floor while I heated up milk on the stove for hot chocolate. As the milk warmed, I gazed at a canvas photo that hung in my front hall. It was a faraway view of the beach, taken from my parents’ backyard, overlooking the black sand and the curling waves of the azure Pacific Ocean.


“We’ve got to go home,” I said aloud to my cat, Meli, as she stepped daintily around me. This wasn’t the first time I had expressed this sentiment to Meli, but this time she stopped and looked up at me. She blinked and twitched her ears.


It was the sign I needed.


I watched the snow continue to fall for several hours from the warmth and safety of my apartment. Meli and I curled up on the couch while I tried to read a book, but I couldn’t concentrate. My thoughts returned again and again to palm trees and warm, caressing trade winds, to the faces of my mother and father, of my sister and her little girl. Geoffrey eventually stopped by, bringing with him an icy blast of air as I opened the door to the hallway.


He laughed. “Looks like this storm may never end.”


I invited him into the warmth of the apartment. “Take off your stuff. Want some hot chocolate?” I called over my shoulder as I walked into the kitchen.


“Sure,” he answered, struggling with one of his boots. I joined him in the living room a few minutes later. He was trying to stroke Meli’s chin, but she apparently wanted none of that. Her ears flattened back and she squirmed out of his reach.


I handed him the mug of hot chocolate and sat down opposite him. “Geoffrey, I have news,” I told him warily, knowing he probably wouldn’t be as happy as I was.


“What is it?”


“I’m going back to Hawaii.” I waited for his reaction.


“That’s nice. It’ll do you good to get out of this weather for a while.”


He obviously wasn’t getting it. “No, not for a while. I’m moving back. For good.”


I was right. He was not happy. In fact, he looked stricken, his eyes wide and his mouth agape. “What do you mean, for good?” he asked, choking on his hot chocolate.


“I mean, I just can’t stand it here any longer. I’m never going to get used to the weather, I miss my parents, and my niece is growing up without her auntie. It’s time to go back. This is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. I’ll miss you, Geoffrey, but this is what’s best for me,” I added, trying to soften the blow.


He looked like he was struggling for words.


“But . . . but . . . what will you do?”


“I’ll do the same thing I do here, Geoffrey. Sous-chefs are not unique to DC.”


“Okay, but what will I do? Without you, I mean?”


I felt sorry for him. He looked crestfallen.


“Geoffrey,” I said gently, “there are lots of women in Washington who are looking for someone as wonderful and kind and handsome and successful as you are. I have to do what my heart is telling me to do, and that’s to go back to Hawaii.”


He nodded slowly, his eyes downcast. “Is there anything I can say to keep you here?”


“I’m afraid not.”


“When are you leaving?”


“I don’t know. I just made the decision this morning.”


He sighed and leaned back against the couch cushions, holding his mug on his lap and staring into space.


“Geoffrey? You okay?” I asked.


He set his mug on the coffee table and pushed himself up from the sofa. “I guess I should get going, then. Will you keep working at the restaurant until you leave?”


I was surprised that he wanted to leave already, but I didn’t mention it.


“Of course. I’ll give you plenty of time to find another fabulous sous-chef.”


I watched Geoffrey as he walked down the hallway of my apartment building. His shoulders were stooped and his gait slow. He looked like a forlorn little boy. Poor Geoffrey. At the end of the hallway, right by the elevator, he turned around and made a pleading motion with his hands and walked back toward me.




“Kailani, how can you just throw away all the time we’ve spent together?”


I was a little taken aback, but I suppose I shouldn’t have been. Such dramatic statements were normal with him. “Geoffrey, we haven’t really spent too much time together. We haven’t been dating very long.”


“But doesn’t that time mean something to you?”


“Yes, of course it does. I’ve enjoyed getting to know you and we’ve had fun together. But it’s time for me to go home. And I’m afraid a long-distance relationship just isn’t possible. It’s too far away.”


“There’s got to be a way, Kailani. I just can’t stand the thought of losing you.”


“I’m sorry, Geoffrey. I’ve got to go. I’ll see you at work tomorrow.” I closed the door gently and stood there until I heard the ding of the elevator.


I waited a few hours before calling my mother since there was a five-hour time difference between DC and Hawaii.


She and my father were both thrilled by my news, as I knew they would be. They had a million questions for me, like when I would be coming home, where I would be looking for a new job, and whether I could live with them for a while.


“I don’t know!” I laughed. “I’m going to start putting out some feelers right away for jobs in restaurants and resorts along the Kohala Coast. Someone must need a sous-chef. Or even a head chef. But I’ll be home soon, don’t worry. I can’t stand another day of this winter weather.”


I hung up, promising to keep them posted about my job hunt. Suddenly, the winter seemed a little warmer.

Fatal Honor Excerpt & Giveaway with Misty Evans

TitleFatal Honor
SeriesShadow Force International, #2
AuthorMisty Evans
Release DateApril 25, 2016
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Buy LinksLinks Coming soon! 

Book Summary:

The second thrilling novel in the bodyguard romantic suspense series, Shadow Force International.

Miles is Charlotte’s one and only weakness. He’s also her only hope…

To stop a Romanian crime lord and clear her name, British Intelligence officer Charlotte Carstons has no choice. She must track down former Navy SEAL Miles Duncan and ask for his help. Miles holds the key to completing her undercover assignment and proving she’s no traitor…but he also holds a grudge. Getting him to forgive her may be the most challenging mission of her life.

Charlotte is his fantasy woman. She’s also the biggest mistake of his career…

He was supposed to hunt her down. Instead Miles ended up at the mercy of the sexy, mysterious MI6 agent who left him without so much as a goodbye after their six-week love affair in the Carpathian Mountains. Back in the States and working as an operative for Shadow Force International, Miles has been searching for Charlotte ever since—and so has everyone else. She’s a traitor to her country and she may be responsible for the deaths of his SEAL teammates a year ago.

Together, they can save the world. Or destroy each other…

When Charlotte shows up on his doorstep asking for help, Miles knows better than to get involved. She's determined to go back to Romania with or without him, however, and he knows she’s walking into a deadly trap. Can he keep her safe as they travel across continents and explore the depth of their feelings for each other? Or will misplaced honor and treasonous loyalties prove fatal for them both?

* * *
Excerpt from Fatal Honor by Misty Evans

You going to come out of the bathroom on your own, darlin’,” a lightly accented Southern voice said from the doorway, “or am I going to have to come in there and carry y’all out?”
That voice. A tiny thrill went through her, every cell in her body rejoicing at the sound of that deep, husky voice. 
Charlotte remembered the first time she’d heard him speak. He’d been unconscious for days, barely clinging to life, in and out of consciousness. Exhausted from caring for him and keeping her location a secret, she’d fallen asleep next to him in bed, her head lying near his. He’d touched her face with the tips of his fingers, waking her, and said, “You must be my guardian angel.”
He’d fallen right back to sleep, but it had made her giddy that he’d woken up and spoken to her. Twenty-four hours later, he was fully awake and wanting to know what had happened.
She was no guardian angel. Angel of death was more like it. It was her fault the scientist’s plane had been shot down in those mountains. Her fault he’d needed rescuing by Miles and his Navy SEAL team.
If Miles had found out she was the cause of all of that—the trouble that killed his teammates—no wonder he hadn’t knocked on her motel room door and kissed her silly when she opened it. 
Tucking herself closer to the wall, she tried to see through the slit in the doorframe. Her eyes had adjusted to the darkness but she couldn’t make out his whereabouts. 
She could feel him, though. Every place that he had touched, every spot he had kissed in her cabin in the mountains, was suddenly alive again. Not scarred and bruised and broken, but tingling with anticipation.
Laying her brow against the cold metal of the gun barrel, she closed her eyes for a second. She’d been waiting for this moment, looking forward to a reunion with him. Never in all those fantasies had she envisioned herself sitting on a dirty bathroom floor, wrapped in nothing but a towel with no way out. 
In her version of the reunion, she’d planned on retrieving the video from her hidden safe first, putting Nicolae behind bars where he could never hurt anyone again, and then showing up on Miles’ door with a clean slate and the tiniest hope for the future.
Best laid plans…
Without warning, the door banged fully open, smacking her body and nearly knocking the gun from her hands. A shadow moved, hands grabbing her and slamming the wrist of her gun hand into the edge of the sink. She grunted, trying to hold onto the Beretta as she kicked out at the same time with her right foot.
She landed a solid hit to her attacker’s shin. He grunted and knocked her wrist against the sink once more, the impact sending a shockwave up her arm and forcing her to let go.
No stranger to pain, she suppressed the cry that exploded in her throat, kicking out again with both legs and nailing him in the knees this round. The towel covering her backside slid on the tile floor from the effort, causing her to go down on her back as he released his grip on her wrist.
Damn. Now he had her gun.
A large hand wrapped around her ankle. One jerk and she was flipped over onto her belly, the towel coming completely undone, her chin bouncing on the floor.
The tiles chafed against her naked skin. She fought, reaching for anything that would give her purchase, anything that could be used as a weapon. 
Her fingernails scratched against something hard. The tiny garbage can under the sink. It was only plastic, but it would work if…she could…reach…it…
Miles plopped down on her butt, his heavy weight pining her to the floor. She heard him eject the Beretta’s magazine, clear the chamber of the round. He reached down and knocked her outstretched hand away from the direction of the garbage can; one of his did the job of restraining both of hers above her head. 
“Don’t fight me, Veronica,” he said, his lips close to her ear as he held her immobile. His breath was warm, sending a fresh wave of goose bumps over her skin. “Or should I call you Charlotte? Or my favorite, Sarah?”
Grinding her teeth, she ignored the pain in her wrist, the chafing of the tile against her breasts and hips bones, the weight of him. “Get off of me, you lughead.”
He chuckled. “That’s not what you said the last time I was on top of you.”
Even with the cold tiles under her, a hot flush wormed its way under her skin. The memory of him on top of her, of his body working its magic on her, was enough to make her stop fighting. 
He’s not the enemy, she reminded herself.
If only she could breathe. “My first name is Charlotte. My friends call me Charlie.”
“Ah, but we’re not friends, are we? Fuck buddies, lovers maybe. Not friends. Friends call one another, they don’t leave in the middle of the night with no goodbye and disappear for nine months.” He still pinned her down, his nose brushing against her head as he spoke in her hear. “What are you doing here?”
He’d kept track of their time apart. Charlotte took hope in that. “Let me up and I’ll explain.”
The light drawl evaporated. “You must think I’m naive or incredibly stupid.”
“I don’t believe either. Why?”
“You slipped away me from once before, Agent Charlotte Carstons. I’m not turning you loose so easily again. Start talking.”
So he did know her true identity. She closed her eyes for a moment, breathing in his familiar Miles scent of citrus and warm male skin, wishing she could tell him the one simple truth burning in her throat. I love you.
He wouldn’t believe her after all the lies she’d told, and saying the words out loud wouldn’t change the fact she would have to lie to him again. Leave him again. For his safety and for hers.
Struggling to breathe under his weight, she shoved thoughts of confessing her love aside and opened her eyes. “Nicolae Bourean, head of the Corsicani clan in Romania. I’m on the run from him. The reason I left you was to save your life. You and I survived that brutal winter in the mountains, and it’s one of my fondest memories, but when spring came, I had to ensure no one knew you and I had been together. It was too dangerous for you. I made contact with Emit Petit, told him where to find you and I left. I had work to do on my case, information I still needed before I could close it out, and I had to go to Nico to get it. Unbeknownst to me, he’d figured out I was MI6. He took me prisoner. I escaped a few weeks ago, but he’s after me. He wants me back. Badly.” 
She forced herself not to shiver at the thought of what Nico would do to her if he ever did get hold of her again. Death would be a blessing. “You, Miles Duncan, literally hold the key to my survival.”

About the Author

USA TODAY Bestselling Author Misty Evans has published over twenty novels and writes romantic suspense, urban fantasy, and paranormal romance. As a writing coach, she helps other authors bring their books – and their dreams of being published – to life.

The books in her Super Agent series have won a CataNetwork Reviewers’ Choice Award, CAPA nominations, the New England Reader’s Choice Bean Pot Award for Best Romantic Suspense in 2010 and the ACRA Heart of Excellence Reader’s Choice Award for Best Romantic Suspense in 2011.

Her Witches Anonymous series was dubbed a Fallen Angel Reviews Recommended Read. The Super Agent Series, Witches Anonymous Series, and the Kali Sweet Series have been on multiple Amazon Kindle bestsellers lists. Her culinary romantic mystery, THE SECRET INGREDIENT, and the first book in her Deadly series, DEADLY PURSUIT, are both USA TODAY bestsellers.

Misty likes her coffee black, her conspiracy stories juicy, and her wicked characters dressed in couture. When not reading or writing, she enjoys music, movies, and hanging out with her husband, twin sons, and two spoiled puppies.

Connect with Misty: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads Newsletter / Pinterest

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Giveaway Information

Tour-wide giveaway includes a $50.00 Amazon Gift Card and a Rock Star Bracelet

Rafflecopter Link:

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Debauched Review & Giveaway with Jennifer Dawson

By Jennifer Dawson
Undone #3 
Contemporary Erotic Romance w/BDSM elements
Release Date: April 26, 2016
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble|Kobo | iTunes

Synopsis: One night in a moment of sheer madness I confessed my secrets to him. All my life I’ve been pretending. Pretending to be the woman I thought I should be instead of the woman I really am. I’ve been faking it and I am good. No one has ever guessed. Except him. He just looked at me and knew. 

Chad Fellows is not the man I want, but he’s fast becoming the man I need. 

One night in a moment of sheer madness I held her in my arms and let her cry. I did the right thing, letting her walk away, no matter how much she calls to the part of me that wants to rescue her. We are nothing alike, and she’s a mess of complications in a life I’m trying to keep simple. But then I touched her and made her tremble and now I can’t turn away. 

Ruby Stiles is not the woman I want, but she’s fast becoming the woman I need. 

I started the Undone series at book two and while I liked it I think this one is my new favorite. Normally I read books in order just to get to know the characters and while this could be read as a standalone I highly recommend starting the series from the beginning or at least with the novella before starting this book. 

Chad and Ruby's story starts on Valentine's Day in Unraveled. They are both invited to Brandon's club with a group of friends and that's where the changes start for them. Ruby reveals a secret to Chad and they go their separate ways.

This story begins about two months later and neither one of them have forgotten each other or that night. They meet again at Layla and Michael's engagement party and things tend to get a bit steamy but that's only the beginning for this couple.

These two say a few times that they don't care for the other but when they are together they are combustible! I really liked Ruby's character and  how she was curious but didn't want to loose herself that she thought her mother did. I also liked how much patience Chad had with bringing her into this world.

Chad's character was a bit of a surprise. He comes off as a preppy good American boy but underneath all that he dominant and oh man some of the things he says super hot!

I don't tend to read a lot of this genre but Dawson has a way with words and writing her characters strong but yet adventuress. I could see the changes in Ruby as she grew closer to Chad and the more she tried the more she loved. I also thought the conflict within herself well was written and made it more real.

Already I am hoping Brandon will get a book because let's face it he just sounds hotter then hot! This series is hot and spicy with HEA that will make you swoon! 


CRAVE Undone #1 
Sinful Undone #2 
Unraveled Undone #2.5
About the Author: 

Jennifer Dawson is the author of the popular Something New series; spicy, small town romance released with Kensington, and pens the dark and edgy contemporary romance series Undone.    Jennifer grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and graduated from DePaul University with a degree in psychology. She met her husband at the public library while they were studying. To this day, she still maintains she was NOT checking him out. Now, over twenty years later, they are married and living in a suburb right outside of Chicago with two awesome kids and a crazy dog. These days Jennifer can be found sitting behind her computer, writing her next novel, chasing after her kids, keeping an ever-watchful eye on her ever-growing to-do list, and NOT checking out her husband. Jennifer loves connecting with her readers and invites you to check out her website, Facebook page, and join Dawson’s Darlings, her private Facebook Fan group. Sign up for her monthly Newsletter for exclusive insider peeks, new release information and more.


Chapter 2 of Debauched
I keep my eye on Ruby Stiles, even though I want to forget that night where I’d held her in my arms while she cried. I have a lot going on right now, work’s crazy, I just got a promotion and my competition for the job now works for, and hates, me. I’ve got building development going on—a little side project I started with one of my friends— that’s now taken on a life of its own. I’m putting everything I have into business right 
now and Ruby is not something I want to distract me. 
It’s why I didn’t press after I called her the day after Valentine’s and she gave me the brush off, even though I wanted to. I’dhung up the phone and sighed in relief, because when I’d called I’d been half afraid she’d want to follow up on what had gone down between us the night before. Most guys in my situation wouldn’t have called Ruby at all, but I’m unfailingly responsible, especially when it comes to women. I’d done the right thing, ensured she was okay, and asked if she needed to talk. She’d said 
Responsibility absolved. That should have been the end of it. 
Only, I haven’t been able to get her out of my mind since that night. That strange, perception-altering night, where nothing played out as I’d been expecting. Before then, I’d always viewed Layla Hunter’s best friend as a pretty rocker girl with whom I have nothing in common. She’s beautiful and has a body that won’t quit, but she didn’t interest me that way I need a woman to interest me. 
Then Valentine’s happened and—I don’t know—something changed between us. 
I can still feel her quivering, trembling body in my arms. The stain of tears on her cheeks as she looked up at me with her blue, watery, desperate gaze. Still remember the 
sound of her voice as she spilled her secrets. 
She is nothing I need in my life right now. And even though I don’t want 
anything to do with the complications she presents, I can’t take my eyes off her. 
As Ashley drones on and on about a subject I can’t even remember, I watch Ruby and that ridiculous excuse for a man she brought with her tonight. She might not be my type, but she looks gorgeous. Her code of dress seems to vacillate from retro rocker to 
pinup girl with an edge. Like a rebel Snow White. 
She pulls it off very, very well. 
Tonight she’s decked out in an outfit right out of the nineteen forties, that slimfitted skirt and black-and-white top hugging every curve to perfection. She’s curled her shiny black, shoulder-length hair into sleek waves and even from across the room I can see the brilliance in her blue eyes. And then there’s her mouth, full and ruby red, 
matching her name. 
She looks different from every other woman in the room, and when her date 
slides a hand over her hip, I experience an inappropriate surge of possession. 
As soon as he settles in next to her she darts a nervous glance in my direction. Our eyes lock, the air pulses, and she jerks her attention away from me. Right then I
know her date is about me. That she’s brought him as a diversion. 
“So what do you think?” Ashley says, ripping me from my thoughts. 
I stare down at the cute little blonde who, in theory, is exactly what I need right now. She’s lush, pretty, and has a set of tits I could spend hours torturing. Best of all she’s not mentally taxing. I’m pretty sure she’s been discussing makeup for at least thirty minutes. She’s the kind of girl you take to dinner and don’t have to say a word because she talks a mile a minute. 
I’ve clearly missed some sort of question. I give her my most winning smile. “I’m sorry, what did you ask?” I raise my hand to my ear and say in a too loud tone, “It’s 
kind of loud in here.” 
She grins up at me, her expression brilliant and tinged around the very edges with desperateness. I’ve heard all about her trials and tribulations with the guy she 
used to hook up with. She’s on the rebound and I’m her prey. 
She hasn’t seemed to cue into the fact that I’m not interested. What Ashley wants, I have no interest in giving her, and the truth is, I feel bad for her. She’s been screwed over enough. Only I don’t know her well enough to give her a much-needed 
lecture about men who don’t treat her the way she deserves. 
Her lashes flutter and bat up at me in an exaggerated way. “I said I have tickets 
to the Bulls from work and I was wondering if you wanted to go with me.” 
Oh hell. Now I’m going to have to hurt her feelings and I really don’t want to do that. But my lack of attention is not getting through to her, so I’m forced to be direct. I put my hand on her arm and her skin is cold. “Thank you, that’s very sweet, but I’m 
going to have to pass.” 
Her expression falls but I trudge on. Ashley doesn’t realize this, but I’m doing her a favor by not wasting her time, and squashing any hope she might have for us. I
want to give her the work excuse, but based off her history, that won’t cut it. 
I rub my hand over her arm and smile. “I’m not an option for you, Ashley. I’m sorry about that, but you deserve a guy that is going to give you the time and energy 
you deserve, and I’m not that guy.” 
She jerks a little under my touch. Her face twists for a moment before it surges 
with hope. 
I repress my sigh. 
She puts her hand on my waist and I immediately drop my hand from her. She shakes her head and laughs a little. “That’s cute. But you’ve misunderstood; I’m not looking for anything serious. I’m not looking for commitment. I’m looking for fun. That’s all.” 
All bullshit, but I’m more than happy to let her save face. She’slooking for the loophole most guys would fall into, but I’m not that easily manipulated. Most women confuse good guy with push over, thinking that I am not wise to their games, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I shrug. “I apologize if I misunderstood. But I’m not 
Her attention drops to my mouth, turning hungry. Annoyed, Iglance over her head and see Ruby talking to Jillian Banks and Leo Santoro, she laughs at something 
they say and then her gaze catches mine. 
She frowns, and then it disappears almost as though she’s caught herself. Which she probably has. I’ve noticed that about her. She filters everything. Reveals a glimpse 
of her true emotions before covering it up with what she believes she should feel. 
“What about for fucking? Are you available for that?” Ashley’s words rip me back to her. She’s wearing a seductive expression and her hand has curled into the 
waistband of my pants. “We could go upstairs right now and I could blow your mind.” 
I resist the urge to express my exasperation with her. In her defense, this approach would work on ninety-eight percent of guys, so it’s her misfortune I fall into the two percent. Icontemplate my options. I could go stern, but she’d probably like that. I could continue being nice but assertive, but that doesn’t seem to be working. I
run through a couple other choices but decide on the truth. 
I wrap my fingers around her wrist and forcibly pull her off me. Then I look deep into her eyes and say with complete sincerity. “I am not an option for you. We are 
friends and that’s where you and I will stay.” 
Her expression falls again and her chin quivers the tiniest bit. 
While I’m sympathetic, I don’t relent. I release her hand and reach up to tuck a lock of hair behind her ear. “You’ve been hurt, Ashley. I’m sorry about that. But as a friend, let me tell you, this isn’t the way to mend your broken heart. A man won’t fix 
what’s broken inside you. You have to do that all on your own.” 
Over her head I see Ruby climb the steps leading to the second floor. 
I smile at Ashley. “I wish you luck. You deserve to be happy and I hope you find 
it. But I’m not your guy.” 
Her eyes brighten. “Okay.” 
I chuck Ashley under the chin. “You okay?” 
She nods and points to a group of girls hovering around the kitchen island. “I 
should get back to my friends.” 
I smile at her. “Sounds like a good plan.” 
Ashley walks away, leaving me alone. I drain the rest of my drink and narrow 
my eyes on the stairs. 
The last thing I should do is go upstairs. 
I put my drink down on a small bar table. 
But I’m going anyway. 
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