Thursday, December 29, 2016

Excerpt & Giveaway: LADY CLAIRE IS ALL THAT by Maya Rodale

The one thing neither of them counted on is love . . .

Keeping Up with the Cavendishes #3
Maya Rodale
Releasing Dec 27th, 2016
Avon Books

Her Brains

Claire Cavendish is in search of a duke, but not for the usual reasons. The man she seeks is a mathematician; the man she unwittingly finds is Lord Fox: dynamic, athletic, and as bored by the equations Claire adores as she is by the social whirl upon which he thrives. As attractive as Fox is, he’s of no use to Claire . . . or is he?

Plus His Brawn

Fox’s male pride has been bruised ever since his fiancée jilted him. One way to recover: win a bet that he can transform Lady Claire, Society’s roughest diamond, into its most prized jewel. But Claire has other ideas—shockingly steamy ones. . .

Equals A Study In Seduction

By Claire’s calculations, Fox is the perfect man to satisfy her sensual curiosity. In Fox’s estimation, Claire is the perfect woman to prove his mastery of the ton. But the one thing neither of them counted on is love . . .

London, 1824
Lord and Lady Chesham’s ballroom
It was a truth universally acknowledged that Maximilian Frederick DeVere, Lord Fox, was God’s gift to the ladies of London. He was taller and brawnier than his peers and in possession of the sort of chiseled good looks—above and below the neck—that were more often found in works of classical art. By all accounts he was charming and universally liked by men and women alike, though for different reasons, of course. He won at two things, always: women and sport.
Fox strolled through the ballroom as if he owned the place. He nodded at friends and acquaintances—Carlyle, with whom he occasionally fenced, Fitzwalter, who he had soundly thrashed at boxing last week, and Willoughby, who was always game for a curricle race.
Fox flashed his famous grin as he heard the ladies’ usual comments when he strolled past.
“I think he just smiled at me.”
“I think I’m going to swoon.”
“God, Arabella Vaughn is one lucky woman.”
“Was,” someone corrected. “Didn’t you see the report in The London Weekly this morning?”
Fox’s grin faltered.
That was when Mr. Rupert Wright and Lord Mowbray found him. Their friendship stretched all the way back to their early days at Eton.
“We heard the news, Fox,” Rupert said grimly, clapping a hand on his shoulder.
“I daresay everyone has heard the news,” Fox replied dryly.
It didn’t escape his notice that the guests nearby had fallen silent. It was the first time he’d appeared in public since the news broke in the paper this morning, though Arabella had so kindly left him a note the day prior. Everyone was watching him to see how he would react, what he would say, if he would cry.
“Who would have thought we’d see this day?” Mowbray mused. “Miss Arabella Vaughn, darling of the haute ton, running off with an actor.”
“That alone would be scandalous,” Rupert said, adding, “Never mind that she has ditched Fox. Who is, apparently, considered a catch. What with his lofty title, wealth, and not hideous face.”
Fox’s Male Pride bristled. It’d been bristling and seething and enraged ever since the news broke that his beautiful, popular betrothed had left him to elope with some plebian actor.
Not just any actor, either, but Lucien Kemble. Yes, he was the current sensation among the haute ton, lighting up the stage each night in his role as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet. Covent Garden theater was sold out for the rest of the season. The gossip columns loved him, given his flair for dramatics both onstage and off—everything from tantrums to torrid love affairs to fits over his artistry. Women adored him; they may have sighed and swooned over Lucien Kemble as much as Fox.
To lose a woman to any other man was insupportable—and, until recently, not something that ever happened to him—but to lose her to someone who made his living prancing around onstage in tights? It was intolerable.
“Just who does she think she is?” Fox wondered aloud.
“She’s Arabella Vaughn. Beautiful. Popular. Enviable. Every young lady here aspires to be her. Every man here would like a shot with her,” Mowbray answered.
“She’s you, but in petticoats,” Rupert said, laughing.
It was true. He and Arabella were perfect together.
Like most men, he’d fallen for her at first sight after catching a glimpse of her across a crowded ballroom. She was beautiful in every possible way: a tall, lithe figure with full breasts; a mouth made for kissing and other things that gentlemen didn’t mention in polite company; blue eyes fringed in dark lashes; honey gold hair that fell in waves; a complexion that begged comparisons to cream and milk and moonlight.
Fox had taken one look at her and thought: mine.
They were a perfect match in beauty, wealth, social standing, all that. They both enjoyed taking the ton by storm. He remembered the pride he felt as they strolled through a ballroom arm in arm and the feeling of everyone’s eyes on them as they waltzed so elegantly.
They were great together.
They belonged together.
Fox also remembered the more private moments—so many stolen kisses, the intimacy of gently pushing aside a wayward strand of her golden hair, promises for their future as man and wife. They would have perfect children, and entertain the best of society, and generally live a life of wealth and pleasure and perfection, together.
Fox remembered his heart racing—nerves!—when he proposed because this beautiful girl he adored was going to be his.
And then she had eloped. With an actor.

It burned, that. Ever since he’d heard the news, Fox had stormed around in high dudgeon. He was not accustomed to losing.
“Take away her flattering gowns and face paint and she’s just like any other woman here,” Fox said, wanting it to be true so he wouldn’t feel the loss so keenly. “Look at her, for example.”
Rupert and Mowbray both glanced at the woman he pointed out—a short, frumpy young lady nervously sipping lemonade. She spilled some down the front of her bodice when she caught three men staring at her.
“If one were to offer her guidance on supportive undergarments and current fashions and get a maid to properly style her coiffure, why, she could be the reigning queen of the haute ton,” Fox pointed out.
Both men stared at him, slack jawed.
“You’ve never been known for being the sharpest tool in the shed, Fox, but now I think you’re really cracked,” Mowbray said. “You cannot just give a girl a new dress and make her popular.”
“Well, Mowbray, maybe you couldn’t. But I could.”
“Gentlemen . . .” Rupert cut in. “I don’t care for the direction of this conversation.”
“You honestly think you can do it,” Mowbray said, awed.
He turned to face Mowbray and drew himself up to his full height, something he did when he wanted to be imposing. His Male Pride had been wounded and his competitive spirit—always used to winning—was spoiling for an opportunity to triumph.
“I know I can,” Fox said with the confidence of a man who won pretty much everything he put his mind to—as long as it involved sport, or women. Arabella had been his first, his only, loss. A fluke, surely.
“Well, that calls for a wager,” Mowbray said.
The two gentlemen stood eye to eye, the tension thick. Rupert groaned.
“Name your terms,” Fox said.
“I pick the girl.”
“This is a terrible idea,” Rupert said. He was probably right, but he was definitely ignored.
“Let me see . . . who shall I pick?” Mowbray made a dramatic show of looking around the ballroom at all the ladies nearby. There were at least a dozen of varying degrees of pretty and pretty hopeless.
Then Mowbray’s attentions fixed on one particular woman. Fox followed his gaze, and when he saw who his friend had in mind, his stomach dropped.
“Yes,” Mowbray said, a cocky grin stretching across his features.
“Unfortunately dressed I can handle. Shy, stuttering English miss who at least knows the rules of society? Sure. But one of the Americans?”
Fox let the question hang there. The Cavendish family had A Reputation the minute the news broke that the new Duke of Durham was none other than a lowly horse trainer from the former colonies. He and his sisters were scandalous before they even set foot in London. Since their debut in society, they hadn’t exactly managed to win over the haute ton, either, to put it politely.
“Now, they’re not all bad,” Rupert said. “I quite like Lady Bridget . . .”
But Fox was still in shock and Mowbray was enjoying it too much to pay any mind to Rupert’s defense of the Americans.
“The bluestocking?”
That was the thing: Mowbray hadn’t picked just any American, but the one who already had a reputation for being insufferably intelligent, without style or charm to make herself more appealing to the gentlemen of the ton. She was known to bore a gentleman to tears by discussing not the weather, or hair ribbons, or gossip of mutual acquaintances, but math.
Lady Claire Cavendish seemed destined to be a hopeless spinster and social pariah.
Even the legendary Duchess of Durham, aunt to the new duke and his sisters, hadn’t yet been able to successfully launch them into society and she’d already had weeks to prepare them! It seemed insane that Fox should succeed where the duchess failed.
But Fox and his Male Pride had never, not once, backed away from a challenge, especially not when the stakes had never been higher. He knew two truths about himself: he won at women and he won at sport.
He was a winner.
And he was not in the mood for soul searching or crafting a new identity when the old one suited him quite well. Given this nonsense with Arabella, he had to redeem himself in the eyes of the ton, not to mention his own. It was an impossible task, but one that Fox would simply have to win.
“Her family is hosting a ball in a fortnight,” Mowbray said. “I expect you to be there—with Lady Claire on your arm as the most desirable and popular woman in London.”

Make sure to "Keep Up" with the Cavendishes!

Maya Rodale began reading romance novels in college at her mother’s insistence and it wasn’t long before she was writing her own. Maya is now the author of multiple Regency historical romances. She lives in New York City with her darling dog and a rogue of her own.

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Excerpt & Giveaway: IN YOUR ARMS by Shannyn Schroeder


For Your Love #2
Shannyn Schroeder
Releasing Dec 27th, 2016
Zebra Shout


Sean O'Malley has never tried to hide who he is. He shows it in the motorcycle thrumming between the legs of his tight jeans…the shaggy hair that falls in his gorgeous eyes…the wicked gleam in his smile when he asks Emma out for a drink. Sean is a rebel, a bad boy, and a ton of fun: exactly the kind of guy she's sworn off forever.

Emma isn't just the prim kindergarten teacher she appears to be. And somehow Sean can tell. As soon as he pulls up to her overheated car he knows that a fast bike and a cold beer will fix her rotten day better than compliments or a bubble bath. Her straitlaced exterior and her wild heart light him up. But Emma wants to escape her past and settle down—and if her desk jockey dates don't understand where she comes from, at least she doesn't worry about them bringing her back.

One weekend of intense connection can't change the paths Sean and Emma have chosen. But with a little space to be themselves together, maybe the rest of the world can wait...


The blast of air-conditioning hit them as the automatic door swung open. Emma paused, looked up and around, and turned toward the bakery. Sean followed. She kept walking, and he stopped by the coffee cakes. A chocolate-chip cake sounded good.
“What about this?” He held up the plastic container.
“Uh-uh. It needs to be birthday cake.”
Sean held on to the coffee cake but followed her to the refrigerated section. She looked at the display for a minute before choosing one. As great as Emma seemed, she sure had some weird quirks. She picked out a round cake with Happy Birthday written in blue handwriting. Red, yellow, and blue icing balloons decorated the edge.
Emma said nothing. With the cake in hand, she turned toward the register. Although she quickly offered answers to his questions, she wasn’t like other girls he knew, who would fill silence with any kind of pointless chatter.
“You okay?” he asked when they got to the self-checkout.
“I will be.” She scanned her cake, and he jumped in to scan his too before she could finish the transaction. Then he swiped his card to pay.
“You didn’t have to buy my cake.”
“I know I didn’t have to, but if I have a crappy day and someone buys me a beer, that beer tastes even better going down.”
His answer got the reaction he’d hoped for. A smile. Emboldened by her smile, he pushed on. “So why does it have to be birthday cake?”
She sighed and he thought she might not answer. “Birthday cake was the one thing my mom got right when I was a kid.”
He waited, hoping she’d explain, because how could anyone mess up store-bought birthday cake? They walked through the automatic door, and the heat of the afternoon swamped him.
“You met her. Even with that brief encounter, you can probably tell Brandi is far from a stellar mom. A lot of things were uncertain when I was little. But birthday cake was something we could always count on. It didn’t matter where we were living or even if she had a job, Mom made sure we had birthday cake on our birthdays.”
“It’s weird now that you mention it. I guess I always took birthday cake for granted. In my family, we’re all adults and we still make a trip to Blackstone’s to get a birthday cake.”
“For me, birthday cake is comfort.” She leaned over and bumped his shoulder as they walked. “I keep some in my freezer because you never know when you’re going to have a bad day.”
“Well, it’s not like I buy a cake and eat it all by myself in one sitting. It would be a waste to throw it out, so I cut it into pieces and freeze it.”
The walk back to his house was too quick. Sean liked Emma talking about herself. He didn’t know how he’d even managed not to realize how much he missed having a girlfriend. Then he remembered that every girl at some point pushed for something more than he wanted to give. He wasn’t about to put a ring on anyone’s finger. That kind of commitment would ruin his easygoing lifestyle.

Don't miss the other FOR YOUR LOVE titles!

Shannyn Schroeder is the author of the O’Leary series, contemporary romances centered around a large Irish-American family in Chicago and the Hot & Nerdy series about 3 nerdy friends finding love. Her new series (For Your Love) will release this summer with the first title Under Your Skin. When she’s not wrangling her three kids or writing, she watches a ton of TV and loves to bake cookies.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Excerpt & Giveaway: TROUBLEMAKER by Linda Howard

A thrilling, fast-paced novel of romantic suspense.

Linda Howard
Released Dec 27th, 2016
Avon Books

A thrilling, fast-paced novel of romantic suspense from sensational New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Linda Howard.

For Morgan Yancy, an operative and team leader in a paramilitary group, nothing comes before his job. But when he’s ambushed and almost killed, his supervisor is determined to find out who’s after the members of his elite squad—and why. Due to worries that this unknown enemy will strike again, Morgan is sent to a remote location and told to lay low and stay vigilant. But between a tempting housemate he’s determined to protect and a deadly threat waiting in the shadows, keeping under the radar is proving to be his most dangerous mission yet.

The part-time police chief of a small West Virginian mountain town, Isabeau “Bo” Maran finally has her life figured out. She’s got friends, a dog, and a little money in the bank. Then Morgan Yancy shows up on her doorstep. Bo doesn’t need a mysterious man in her life—especially a troublemaker as enticing and secretive as Morgan.

The harder they fight the intense heat between them, the closer Morgan and Bo become, even though she knows he’s hiding from something. But discovering the truth could cost Bo more than she’s willing to give. And when Morgan’s cover is blown, it might just cost her life.

From TROUBLEMAKER by Linda Howard. Copyright © 2016 by Linda Howard. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
It was dark, the other side of nine-thirty, when he pulled into his parking slot at the condo. It had been late when he’d docked the Shark, then he’d cleaned his tackle and locked it away before heading home. He’d also made a brief stop at a grocery to cover his basic food needs; he hooked the plastic bags on his fingers and dragged them with him as he slid out of the seat. A click of the remote locked the truck.
The condos were at least thirty years old, six rows of two-story buildings made of brick and pebbled concrete. He supposed the effect was supposed to be modern and uncluttered—and maybe it had been thirty years ago, but now it was nothing more than butt-ugly. Each ground-floor unit, like his, had its own little patio, while the upper-story condos had balconies that struck him as fairly useless but that were used a lot during the summer for grilling and such.
The plastic bags rustled and banged against his left leg with every step, reminding him of why he hated buying groceries. After the fact, he always thought that he should throw a backpack in his truck and leave it there for hauling in what few groceries he bought, but he wasn’t home often enough for it to be a habit so he’d forget about the backpack. He’d also almost forgotten he didn’t have any coffee left, but the grocery’s sign had caught his eye and he’d whipped into the parking lot without time to signal, resulting in a few indignant horn blasts. Couldn’t be helped; he had to have coffee.
A concrete support pillar and some tall shrubbery partially blocked his view of the condo building, something that grated but the homeowners’ association wasn’t willing to do away with part of its mature landscaping and shady trees just because he didn’t like it. He couldn’t explain that the greenery provided points of ambush because civilians simply didn’t get shit like that, so he dealt with it. It wasn’t as if he had a lot to worry about; the crime rate in these units was very low, and was in fact a selling point for the young families who made up the majority of residents.
Still—habits were a bitch, but he couldn’t ignore half a lifetime of training. To keep from walking around a blind corner, he swung wide into the street the way he always did so he was approaching straight on; there wasn’t a lot of traffic in the condo development, and he didn’t often have to wait until a car passed.
But even with a direct approach, he still didn’t like it. Sometimes, such as now, he liked it less than at other times, and he couldn’t have said why. He didn’t have to; instinct was what it was.
He stopped in his tracks.
Sometimes . . . such as now.
The sudden surge of awareness was like an electric shock, sending all of his senses into hyperalert. He instinctively moved his right hand to the pistol snugged into the holster at the small of his back even as he tried to pick up any movement in the shrubbery that shouldn’t have been there, anything that was responsible for making the back of his neck suddenly prickle. He couldn’t see anything, but still his senses were screaming. Something was there, even if it wasn’t anything danger—
The thought hadn’t completely formed when the shadows of the shrubbery moved slightly, black on black. More adrenaline shot through his system, and Morgan acted without thought, training taking over as he dropped the plastic bags and dove to the left, leaving his right hand free as he pulled his weapon.
His body was still airborne, stretched out, when he saw a faint flash and a sledgehammer hit him in the chest.
He had two distant but clear thoughts: Suppressor. Subsonic round.
He slammed to the ground, the impact almost as jarring as the sledgehammer to the chest. He rolled with it, the pistol grip fitting into his palm as if his hand and the weapon had been made together, one functioning unit. One part of his brain knew he’d been hit and hit hard, but the other part stayed ruthlessly focused outward, intent on doing what he needed to do. He fired toward where he’d seen the flash, the sound sharp in the crisp night air, but he knew only a rank amateur would stay in the same place so he tracked his next shot away from the shrubbery, following the barely seen black-on-black shadow, and pulled the trigger again.
His mind disconnected from the shock waves of pain rolling through his body because that was the only way he could function. His thoughts raced, analyzing probabilities and angles of fire, selecting the best option even as adrenaline overrode the devastation and kept his body moving. Without being aware that he was moving, he rolled behind a fireplug, and didn’t realize where he was until he was already there. A fireplug wasn’t much cover, but it was some.
His vision was wavering, things rushing at him then drawing back, as if pushed and pulled by an invisible tide of air. Peripherally, he was aware of entrance lights coming on, of curtains being pulled back as his neighbors peeked out to see what the hell was going on. He blinked fiercely, trying to stay focused. Yes—the increase of light brought a man’s form into dim view and he fired a third shot, controlled the upward kick of the muzzle, fired again. The dark form toppled to the ground and lay still.
God, his chest hurt. Shit. This had really fucked up his tattoo.
His vision wavered again, but he grimly held on, keeping his weapon trained on the downed threat. “Down” didn’t mean “out.” If he let go, let the darkness come, the other guy might get up and finish the job. Dead didn’t count until it was confirmed dead, and he couldn’t confirm shit right now.
But doors were opening, people were shouting. The sounds were distorted and strangely far away, the lights fading. Through the growing shadows he thought he saw some of the braver souls venturing out, investigating the gunfire. Words swam at him, around him, and some of them sank into his consciousness.
“Shawn! Are you crazy?” A woman’s voice, both angry and afraid.
“Just call the cops,” said a man—maybe Shawn, maybe someone else.
“I already did,” said a third voice.
“What the hell is going on?”
More noise, more voices added to the chorus as people began approaching, cautiously at first, then with more confidence when nothing else happened. Morgan tried to call out, say something, make any kind of noise, but the effort was beyond him. He could feel his breath hitching as the distant pain rolled closer, like a tidal wave that was about to swamp him.
This might be it for me, he thought, and was almost too tired to care. He tried to control his breathing because he’d heard that hitching sound before and it was never good. He didn’t have to hang on long, he thought—maybe half an hour, if people would get the lead out of their asses and get him to the hospital. But half an hour seemed like an eternity when he wasn’t certain he could hang on even one more minute.
He rested his head on the concrete sidewalk, feeling the chill of it. His outstretched hand was just resting on the winter-dead grass at the edge of the sidewalk and he had the distant thought that it was kind of nice to be touching the earth. If this was it for him, well, it sucked to go, but all in all this wasn’t too bad, considering all the grisly ways he could have gone.
But, damn it, he was fucking pissed because if he died, he didn’t know who had killed him or, more importantly, why.
Someone bent over him, a vague shape swimming out of focus. He had to send MacNamara a warning, and with his last ounce of strength he gasped out, “Ambush.”

Linda Howard is the award-winning author of numerous New York Times bestsellers, including Up Close and Dangerous, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Cover of Night, Killing Time, To Die For, Kiss Me While I Sleep, Cry No More, and Dying to Please. She lives in Gadsden, Alabama with her husband and two golden retrievers.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

RELEASE BOOST & Giveaway: Drunk on Love by S.L. Scott

Title: Drunk on Love
Author: S.L. Scott
Genre: Sexy Romance Comedy Standalone
Release Date: December 21, 2016


From New York Times Bestselling Author, S.L. Scott, comes this downright delicious peek into the male anatomy... er, mind of Hardy Richard.

There are only two rules:

1. Don’t get too close.

2. Don’t fall in love.

Correction: Don’t ever fall in love. I don’t need the baggage of relationships. Life should be simple, easy, uncomplicated.

The problem I’m faced with is, if I really believe life should be that easy, that uncomplicated, and that simple, then why am I still thinking about a woman I met on a random Monday at the bar? A girl who was never a Gimlet, and always a Paloma. Yep, I called it all wrong last night and I’m starting to wonder if my heart will pay the price.

I might have broken rule number one, but rule number two remains firmly intact. For now. Sort of. Okay, maybe rule two hasn’t been broken, but it’s definitely been bent.

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Author Bio

Living in the capital of Texas with her family, Scott loves traveling and avocados, beaches, and cooking with her kids. She's obsessed with epic romances and loves a good plot twist. Her favorite color is blue, but she likens it more toward the sky than the emotion. Her home is filled with the welcoming symbol of the pineapple and finds surfing a challenge though she likes to think she's a pro.

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