Monday, March 28, 2016

Nobody's Obligation by Rebecca Barber Review and Excerpt Tour

Ava Jacobs is a shy accountant by day, aspiring romance writer by night—and her first novel just got published…


Romance isn’t a big component of Ava’s life. That is, her real life. As the monotonous nature of crunching numbers and drawn-out board meetings slowly eats away at her, the only bright side to her otherwise mundane routine lies on the black and white pages of her debut romance novel. Her inspiration? A long-time infatuation—Tyler Andrews.

Until the Olympic swimmer read her novel and connected the dots…

Tyler Andrews is used to being the center of attention. But when his sister throws a romance novel in his lap, he’s surprised to be the inspiration for the hot, hunky hero. He has no idea who Ava Jacobs is, but he’s not at all happy with her using his likeness to spice up her steamy scenes. When he finally tracks her down, it’s her likeness that intrigues him.

It takes just one romantic dance at a company banquet to spark disaster…

When Tyler’s manager arranges a daring publicity stunt and offers him as an auction item at Ava’s fundraising banquet, the bids come in quick and hot. Little did Ava expect the winner, a work colleague, to donate Tyler as Ava’s date. With all eyes on the Olympic athlete, Ava can’t refuse a romantic dance. But even though Tyler was the inspiration for Ava’s steamy novel, she refuses to accept his attention if it’s not real.

Will Tyler lose the one woman who caught his interest? Or will Ava push him away in an effort to prove she’s…

Nobody’s obligation.
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EXCERPT ONE:
Tyler slumped in the oversized chair wringing his hands nervously, wishing he was anywhere but here, but he couldn’t walk away now. No. It was his fault she was hurt and he would do the right thing. He would stay until he knew she was okay. Until he had the chance to apologise.
“I don’t get it,” he admitted. “What’d I do? I didn’t even speak to her.”
“It’s not you, Tyler,” Christopher assured him with a sly smirk.
Tyler found himself wondering if Christopher had any other faces. In the ten minutes that he had met him, Christopher had half smiled more times than anyone Tyler had ever known. It was the kind of half grin that said ‘I know something you don’t know,’ and Tyler was desperate to discover what was behind it. There was a quiet confidence that Christopher exuded that intimidated the hell out of Tyler and he wasn’t sure where it came from.
“What is it then?” he almost begged, not recognising his own whiny voice. Tyler watched as the men exchanged glances. They were silently debating how much to tell him and how much to keep to themselves. In a way he understood, but he was about to burst with frustration. “Please! Someone just fucking tell me.”
Michael signed heavily, then looked at Christopher, who barely nodded before he began to speak. “It’s not you, Tyler. And it is you.”
“That makes no sense!”
“Tyler, Ava might look like the tough ‘nothing can hurt me’ ice queen, but that is so far from the truth I doubt she can even see reality anymore. Ava is a romantic in every sense of the word. And it’s worse than that. She’s an optimistic romantic. But life has beaten her down so many times that by hiding behind the tough as nails disguise no one can get close enough to hurt her. No one can scale the walls she’s built. No one except you,” Michael explained.
Tyler’s mouth fell open unconsciously as the words sunk in. “B-But she doesn’t even know me,” he mumbled.
“But she does. Tyler, for as long as I have known Ava, you have been her hero in every sense of the word. You’ve been her inspiration. Her guiding light. You were the one thing that was able to pull her from the darkness when it closed in and threatened to swallow her whole,” Christopher added, his voice soft and soothing.

EXCERPT 2:
The sound of the clock ticking was driving him insane. Every second that counted off left Tyler feeling like he was waiting for his own execution. His frustration was boiling. Unable to sit any longer, he stood and paced. A caged lion was calmer. He knew he didn’t have the right to be pissed that she had kept him waiting—she didn’t even know he was there—but that didn’t calm him. He was used to getting his way and for some reason this girl, a girl he’d never set eyes on nor spoken to had gotten under his skin. And now she was keeping him waiting.
Tyler paused and stared out the window, attempting to focus his attention on something else but it didn’t help. Nothing did. The heavily tinted glass just showed him his own reflection, and what he saw scared him. He was tired, dishevelled, and his eyes were wild. “Shit!” Tyler muttered to himself running his huge hands across his face willing himself to calm down. He couldn’t confront her looking like this. She would take off. Screaming. And as much as he wanted to punish her, he wanted to talk to her more. He wanted to know why she had done it, but even more importantly was how. How’d she get into his head and understand him better than even he understood himself without him even knowing?
Hearing voices on the other side of the door made him freeze. For almost twelve hours he’d thought of nothing but this moment, but now it was here he was having second thoughts. It was too late. He was here now. Time to get some answers.
Tyler sunk into the lounge and grabbed a fist full of the nearest cushion. Sucking in deep breaths, he tried repeating reassurances to himself. It wasn’t working. But then he realised it. The anger had faded. The annoyance and frustration were gone. Instead he was filled with nerves like he had never experienced before.
The door creaked open and she appeared. Her face directed down the hallway as she finished her conversation. Her voice washed through his body and suddenly he was calm. Tyler quickly rubbed his clammy hands along his thighs as he rose to meet her. His eyes betrayed him and disclosed his curiosity. Thankful that she was still occupied with finishing up her discussion, he noticed she seemed slightly off balance in her orange pumps. His gaze snuck up her legs appreciatively as an unexpected warmth spread through his body. Clenching his fists, he forced his eyes higher. First he noticed the slight pull of the fabric across her well-endowed chest before landing on the wet spot on the top of her breast, which left it clingy and transparent. A shallow groan tumbled from the back of his throat as he forced his eyes higher and met hers.
Tyler gulped down his embarrassment. He’d been caught blatantly ogling her. He’d come to see her, to yell at her and make her apologise. Yet somehow, without even trying or knowing it, she had completely turned the tables on him.
Her eyes went wide as she realised who was standing before her. An involuntary gasp choked out only seconds before she paled and fell to the floor in an unconscious pile.
Rebecca, one of four kids to her parents who are both primary school teachers, was born in Wollongong on the south coast of Australia before moving to the country with her family. After a few years of embracing all that country life had to offer, the family relocated to Port Macquarie with its white sand beaches. After a brief period enjoying the sun and the surf they finally settled in Canberra where Rebecca still lives today. But all through her childhood a notepad and a book where never far away. These days Rebecca is an avid reader, and when she isn’t buried in a book or cheering on her beloved football team she’s spending time with her husband Robert and their overly spoilt dog Levi.

Perfection is Just an Illusion

Nobody Knows

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Beguiling by Alex Lucian Release Blitz and Giveaway

Hate: to dislike intensely or passionately; feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward.

Scarlet Jennings, the preacher’s daughter who lived across the street, was a royal, uptight pain in my ass. When she looked at me, she saw a college quarterback asshole with rocks for brains, but she didn’t have a single word for what was happening between us.

When we were forced to ride together every single day that summer, there was definitely some dislike going on. Extreme hostility was a given, considering that we were spending so much time together in close quarters.  
One night of bed-breaking, body-shattering, lose-your-voice-from-screaming passion had surprised us both, but it was only just the beginning…

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FREE ON KINDLE UNLIMITED
Alex Lucian is an author living on the eastern coast of the United States who appreciates being anonymous, for personal and professional reasons. Tempting is Alex's first novel.

Tempting (The Tempting Series: Book 1)
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On Sale for $0.99 (Limited Time)

Monday, March 21, 2016

Emma's Blaze by Marie Piper Blog Tour and Giveaway

Bill McKenzie’s yearly cattle drive brings more than the normal challenges…

The oldest and most responsible of the rowdy McKenzie brothers, Bill is in charge of their biggest task of the season. But while wrangling cattle, he crosses paths with a beautiful red-haired woman in a tattered dress in desperate need of help.

Is she as harmless as she is beautiful?

Suspicions arise when the red-haired beauty—who calls herself Sparrow—withholds the story of how she came to be in the woods. All Bill knows is she’s headed for Cricket Bend, where his brother was murdered a year earlier. Though he vowed to steer clear of that dusty town, he can’t let her run straight into bandit country with no protection. First, they have to make it through the cattle drive—and the mysterious woman is going with them.

Women are bad luck on the trail…

Though they’re strangers, the magic of the Wild West brings the pair together with a passion they can’t fight. But when her journal is stolen by Bill’s brother, Andrew, he discovers her true identity—and two scandalous secrets.

One thing Bill learns is the open range is full of possibilities. Neither of them imagined their paths would cross, but once they had, there was no turning back.

Is her tainted past enough to tear them apart? And if not, what will come of their blazing romance when that same past threatens their future?

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“This life—the drives—it ain’t the future. Folks are buying land. Soon there won’t be open land, maybe there won’t even be cattlemen. If I’m being honest, this is likely the last drive we’ll ever do.”
“Is it?”
“Cattle travels by trains now, mostly. And folks are switching over to stockier breeds of cows that are easier to raise than longhorns. Things are changing. My mama says it’s progress. There’ll always be ranches, and folks’ll always eat beef, but life sure won’t be like this much longer.”
A hawk swooped overhead, and Bill pointed at it. Sparrow watched the bird fly off into the open sky that stretched on for miles and miles, a blanket of blue as far as the eye could see. He watched her as she took in everything around her, even the stomping cows trailing behind them. Finally, she spoke. “That’ll be a sad day, I suppose. The end of something simple and beautiful.”
“A man’s gotta keep moving.”
“Amen.”
“Speaking of moving,” he began. “Where will you go once you’ve caught up to the man you’re seeking? I’m guessing it’s a man. Correct me if I’m wrong.”
“He is.”
“He hurt you?”
“No,” she said. “He stole from from me.”
“What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to get it back.”
“How?”
“I haven’t quite figured that out yet.”
“What will you do after you get it back?”
“After? I…don’t know, honestly.”
“Between not knowing how you’re going to get back your money, and what you’re going to do after, I have to say your plan might not be too well laid-out.”
“My plan also didn’t involve cattlemen.”

Watching Andrew’s cocky smirk as he dealt a hand, she knew he wasn’t expecting much of her abilities. But she could also tell the moment he cheated. With what he thought was skill, he slipped a card up into the sleeve of his shirt. It was a basic cheat. Emma had pulled it herself and seen it done a hundred times.
Over her shoulder, she knew Appie watched as he cooked. Maybe Andrew needed to be brought down a notch, faced head-on and left in the dust. She intended to do just that, and was happy when Pete arrived to witness the action.
She would take Andrew down, and it would be a show.
The cards she held weren’t bad, though Andrew had obviously cheated with the intention of giving himself better cards. Had she been a less skilled player, he’d have been able to win instantly. It was a good trick. Whoever had taught him how to cheat had been pretty good.
Emma, however, had been taught to cheat by the very best.
Poker face, Emma.
That voice came to her mind once again, spurring her to sit up tall. It was time to be The Sparrow. She adjusted the cards in her hand as she spoke. “You ever planning to play that queen?”
“Pardon me?”
“The queen.”
“Which queen?”
“The one in your sleeve.”
She lay down a pair of jacks and waved a finger absent-mindedly toward his arm. “Saw you tuck it. The left sleeve. Queen of diamonds, I’d wager.”
“What would you wager?”
Emma looked across the table with a flat expression. “More than you’ve got, cowboy.”
Pete whistled, and Andrew glared at him. Emma kept her face unreadable, though she felt like giggling and clapping. Nothing was as much fun as busting a bad cheater. “The card.”
“You’re crazy.”
Emma set down her cards. “Am I? Show me what’s in your left sleeve.”
“Show her,” Pete said. “You wouldn’t cheat a lady, would you?”
Andrew reached into his sleeve and pulled out a card. It was, indeed, a queen of diamonds.
“Woo!” Pete exclaimed in triumph. “She schooled you.”
“Shut up,” Andrew grumbled, grabbing his cards back.
“The big shot got called out by a woman. No offense, ma’am.”
“I take no offense at being called a woman. After all, I am one.” Emma watched Andrew try to hide his fury. It didn’t work, and he damn near exploded as he leapt to his feet.
“Will you dance with me?” Hope shone in her lovely eyes.
“Here?”
“Right here.”
Accompanied by the soft music, Bill reached out a hand and set it on Emma’s waist. Gently, half afraid she’d startle and run off, he stepped closer. She lay one hand in his waiting palm, the other on his shoulder. They began to move.
They danced simply but well, two people who fit together. For a large cowboy, Bill knew how to lead, and she allowed him to do just that. Thinking of her foot, he lifted her a little, which allowed her to lean her weight on him so as to keep it off her injury. The dance turned into two bodies swaying together. He became vividly aware of how she pressed her whole body to his.
“You dance quite well,” she whispered. “I’ll admit I’m surprised.”
“My mama insisted we boys all learn,” he replied. “Said it was a good way to woo the ladies.”
“And was she right?”
“Why don’t you tell me?”
“Consider me thoroughly wooed.”
Bill took his hand from her waist and let it slide lower to rest on the curve of her hip. Once it was there, he dragged his fingers over the bare skin just below the hem of the shirt. Emma pressed herself tighter against him. Knowing that only a little fabric separated them charged Bill with desire he could barely restrain. He wanted to know her in whatever way he could. Emma brought her arms up and draped them around his neck, urging him closer to her. Bill moved his hands to her waist and took a hard grip of the fabric of the shirt. “Your lips are a little blue,” he said.
“I’m soaked through,” she replied. “I am a bit cold.”
“Someone should warm you up.”
“Someone should. If only there were someone near who was up for the chore.”
“It’d hardly be a chore.” Even if kissing her was a stupid thing to do, it was the only thing in the world that seemed right at that moment, and he was going to do it, and he wasn’t going to stop there unless she told him to. He knew she wouldn’t. Wanting each other wasn’t a crime. The lean majesty of her body trembled against him when he pressed his face into her hair. With his fingers splayed against her lower back, he brought their bodies tighter together.
Lord, what had she done to him in just a few days?
Marie Piper lives in Chicago, but writes Romance and Erotica usually set in the old west. Her short pieces are available in anthologies from LoveSlave, House of Erotica, Coming Together, and Torquere Press, as well as via NineStar Press. The full-length steamy Western trilogy, FIRES OF CRICKET BEND, is being released by Limitless Publishing. (HAVEN'S FLAME, Book #1, is out now. EMMA'S BLAZE, Book #2, comes out on March 15th!) When Marie isn't writing, she's likely out exploring the Windy City, gathering more books for her hoard, or happily drinking coffee and reading. There's also a strong possibility she's wasting time on Twitter.


Twitter: @mariepiperbooks
Haven's Flame (Fire of Cricket's Bend: Book One)
Amazon ~ FREE on Kindle Unlimited

Monday, March 14, 2016

Nobody Knows by Rebecca Barber Blog Tour and Giveaway

Gillian Dempsey must find a reason to go on…

Easier said than done after a rare virus robs her of both parents. Left alone and confused, the mourning nineteen-year-old flees to her three best friends, who receive her with open arms.

Her parents give her more than an inheritance—they give her a second chance at life…

When Gillian is left with some properties in her parents’ will, she assigns them to a real estate agent to manage. Joel Matthews takes the job, but he quickly becomes more than a business associate. After a string of fortunate coincidences, Gillian and Joel spend a passionate night together—after which Joel all but vanishes from her life.

But they still have unfinished business, and Gillian won’t allow him to slip away—especially with her heart.

Life is a roller coaster of tragedy and joy…

Gillian reels him in, and soon the two are married. Gillian’s heart expands even more when they receive the news of their first pregnancy. But after the baby is born, things aren’t the same. Joel becomes distant…resentful. And then the abuse begins. Darkness consumes their marriage—only to get worse.

While Gillian tries to hold her family together, it seems Joel is doing everything to tear them apart. But just one slip of his temper makes all the difference, because this time, there’s no turning back.

Maybe being abused can be endured, as long as Nobody Knows…until someone ends up dead.
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Gillian

The scowl on his leathery face should have been enough warning to shut me up, but tonight I wasn’t in the mood to back down. I was ready for a fight. Whatever he dished out would come back at him twofold. He came through the door, ripping it almost off its hinges and letting it slam behind him. He took one look at me, sitting on the lounge quietly watching television and sipping my coffee, and rolled his eyes in disgust. I didn’t say a word. This was the game we played these days. After more than a decade of marriage, this is all we had left.
“What’s for dinner?” he snarled, his eyes filled with hatred and disgust. I just shrugged apathetically. What was I supposed to say? ‘Hi honey, how was your day? You look tired. Why don’t I just whip you up a nice, juicy T-bone steak and fresh steamed veggies?’ The truth was, I would probably be having home-brand crackers with what was left of the vegemite.
“Not sure. We don’t have much,” I admitted, instantly feeling ashamed.
I hated the fact that he could make me cower like that. Once upon a time, in another lifetime far away from this one, I felt different. I felt worthwhile and even happy. We were happy at one point, weren’t we? Somewhere along the line, I must have loved him. Otherwise I wouldn’t have married him. I can’t be that stupid, can I?
“For God’s sake, didn’t you even bother to do the shopping?” he snarled from the kitchen.
I heard him muttering to himself as he shuffled the near-empty boxes about in the pantry. Much as I hate to admit it, the profanity spraying from his lips was mighty impressive.
Stomping back into the lounge, he planted himself deliberately in front of the television, hands on his hips and a scowl on his face. Knowing what was coming, I was glad the kids were out with their godmother Heidi tonight. That was the only positive in this nightmare.
“For fuck’s sake, Gillian. I give you money. What the fucking hell do you spend it on?” he demanded, tiny bits of spittle flying from his mouth.
We had danced around this confrontation for weeks now. The tension was escalating, as was the hatred buried inside me. I don’t remember the last time that I had actually had a full night’s sleep. These days, I was too angry to sleep. As soon as my head hit the pillow, all I could do was imagine all the things that I wanted to do and say to him, but was too afraid to.
My life had somehow crumpled into a pathetic mess, and most of the time I hated myself for it. I was furious, and the more I saw of him, the more he continued to be the heartless barbaric bastard he had become, the worse things got, and the more I despised myself.
“Do you really want to know how fucking far your measly twenty bucks stretches these days?” I asked, keeping my face as blank as possible. He raised a quizzical eyebrow and folded his arms aggressively across his puffed out chest.
I took a deep breath, grabbed hold of the arms of my chair with both hands, and squeezed as hard as I could. When I looked down, my knuckles were white with the strain and I could hear myself grinding my teeth desperately, trying to control the rage inside me.
“Well?” he snapped, shifting his weight impatiently from one foot to another.
I exhaled heavily. “If you really want to know what happened to that twenty you gave me a week ago for food and to keep the house running, well, it bought a six-pack of home brand toilet paper, a loaf of bread, a carton of milk, vegemite, eggs, and a packet of tampons for your daughter!” I told him, ticking the items off my fingers as I announced them.

Rebecca, one of four kids to her parents who are both primary school teachers, was born in Wollongong on the south coast of Australia before moving to the country with her family. After a few years of embracing all that country life had to offer, the family relocated to Port Macquarie with its white sand beaches. After a brief period enjoying the sun and the surf they finally settled in Canberra where Rebecca still lives today. But all through her childhood a notepad and a book where never far away. These days Rebecca is an avid reader, and when she isn’t buried in a book or cheering on her beloved football team she’s spending time with her husband Robert and their overly spoilt dog Levi.
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Perfection is Just an Illusion 
(Swimming Upstream Series: Book One)
Amazon ~ FREE on Kindle Unlimited

Nobody's Obligation 
(Swimming Upstream Series: Book Two)
Amazon ~ FREE on Kindle Unlimited