Kicking Reality by Kat T. Masen

Title: Kicking Reality
Author: Kat T. Masen
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Release Date: May 28, 2017
Blurb
Emerson
Everyone thinks they know who I am. I’m that reality TV star that fell in love with
co-star Wesley Rich. But reality wasn’t my life. It was the life I lived in front of the cameras. 
A life designed to entertain millions of watchers each Monday night.
It only took one night to relive my past, and one night to forget my future. With someone who had been there all along.
Logan
Soccer is my life—it’s in my blood.
I train hard, I play hard, and I win.  Nothing
will break my focus.
I should have been able to avoid it, resist the temptation. But it’s there, playing
every Monday night, an obsession I can’t seem to shake.
And I don’t know what was harder: hiding it from my best friend, or watching the woman I want live a life with someone else.
Purchase Links
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

Excerpt

“You honestly believe all that rubbish? Falling in love? They knew from the start? C’mon. It’s impossible,” I ramble to myself as Logan quietly stands at the edge. “You can spend a whole lifetime knowing someone and still feel unsure if the love is there. Two minutes in a bar and that person is your soulmate? Ludicrous.”

Logan turns his neck, body following until we’re facing each other. His presence radiates with superiority, just like when we were kids. I wasn’t afraid back then and I am not afraid now. His tough-guy persona doesn’t frighten me one bit.

“Hypocritical coming from someone engaged to a man that swore he fell in love with you the moment he saw you?” he questions, sarcasm lacing every word that left his mouth. The shock of his words cripples my ability to respond with a witty comeback. We weren’t having a good ol’ laugh throwing worms in the bottom of Ash’s school bag anymore. And my initial reaction to his cruel words does nothing to calm the sea of emotions ravaging inside me. Logan Carrington was one of them. They all came from the same seed. The seed of men that felt entitled. Screw women, move on, fuck feelings and repeat.

“Knock, knock . . . anyone home?”“You’re a jerk,” I mutter.

Author Bio
Born and bred in Sydney, Australia, Kat T. Masen is a mother to four crazy boys and wife to one sane husband. Growing up in a generation where social media and fancy gadgets didn’t exist, she enjoyed reading from an early age and found herself immersed in these stories. After meeting friends on Twitter who loved to read as much as she did, her passion to write began and the friendships continued on despite the distance.

“I’m known to be crazy and humorous. Show me the most random picture of a dog in a wig and I’ll be laughing for days.”

Author Links

Kicking RealityKicking Reality by Kat T. Masen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kicking Reality is the first book of Kat T Masen’s I’ve read and it won’t be the last.

The story flowed so effortlessly and was very easy to follow. The writing and the characters have you hooked from the very first page. It’s funny, flirty, charming and emotional.

I really enjoyed reading it and I would highly recommend!!

View all my reviews

I Do, Babe by Tillie Cole

 

 

 

WHEN DARKNESS AND LIGHT COMBINE, DESTINED SOULS WILL IGNITE . . .

Connected since childhood.
Two souls: one dark and one pure.
Bracing to take the greatest step of all.

River ‘Styx’ Nash loves his woman. Ever since he met Mae at the fence of the cult that had kept her captive as a child, he has never loved anyone else. He loves her black hair, her pale skin and of course, her ice-blue ‘wolf eyes’.

Since Mae came crashing back into his life, his only wish has been to marry her; finally to make her his wife. But now the wedding is booked, and only weeks from forever having Mae by his side, a lifelong problem is plaguing him.
He wants to marry her; he has never wanted anything more . . .
. . . if only he could speak the words and declare it to the world.

Salome ‘Mae’ Nash’s life had been filled with heartache and pain . . . until, at age eight, she met a strange dark-haired boy from the outside world. Years later, and reunited with her great love, Mae is ready to solder her heart to his. Finally, Mae is getting ready to marry her man. But her fiancé has become withdrawn. Something is deeply troubling him.
But Mae has no idea what.
Or what to do to help.

Can Styx open up and conquer his deepest pain? Or will the infamous Hangmen Mute allow his fears to overcome his love for Mae and watch their much-anticipated wedding crumble to dust?

Dark Contemporary Romance. Contains explicit sexual situations, offensive language and mature topics. Recommended for age 18 and over.
***I Do, Babe: A Novella (Hades Hangmen #5.5) is to be read AFTER Damnable Grace (Hades Hangmen #5)***

 


“Mae,” Bella whispered as I walked from the changing room and stood on the elevated plinth opposite my friends and sisters. The mirror was behind me, but I did not yet dare look at my reflection. I glanced at Bella sat beside Ruth, her mother-in-law and Rider’s mama. Her eyes were filling with tears as she stared at me. Her hands were in front of her mouth.
“Do you like it?” I ran my hand over my pronounced stomach.
Bella nodded. “You are perfect,” she whispered. Ruth nodded in agreement.
I looked at Maddie. “Madds?”
She smiled warmly. “You are beautiful, Mae, this dress only enhances that. But this gown could not suit you more if you tried.”
“Styx will love it,” Lilah said and held Grace tighter on her lap.
“You look like a Disney princess,” Grace said.
A hand came down on my arm. I turned to see Beauty behind me. “You ever gonna look in the mirror, darlin’?” She smiled. This boutique belonged to a friend of Beauty’s, and Beauty had practically organized my wedding for me. I was clueless where to even begin.
“You look good, Mae.” I smiled at Letti as she sat uncomfortably on the couch. She had told me she was here to support me, but she had no opinion in such matters as wedding dress shopping. Or anything girly, she’d said affectionately.
“Turn, honey,” Lilah said and I nodded my head. I had no idea why I was so nervous. I knew that Styx loved me and I loved him. I felt as though I had been waiting for this day my whole life. That I had been waiting for the day I finally cemented him as mine. Forever mine, and me forever his.
Closing my eyes, I turned, allowing Beauty to guide me. “You ready?” she whispered. I pulled up the image of Styx in my mind. Me in his arms as we lay in bed. His large tattooed arms holding me close as we spoke. His voice gruff and deep. Then I pictured us laughing. The infamous Hangmen Mute of the Hades Hangmen, so different with me than with anybody else. To others he was aloof, silent, and menacing. But to me, he was loving, caring, and the most beautiful soul in the world.
The other half of my heart.

Tillie Cole hails from a small town in the North-East of England. She grew up on a farm with her English mother, Scottish father and older sister and a multitude of rescue animals. As soon as she could, Tillie left her rural roots for the bright lights of the big city.

After graduating from Newcastle University with a BA Hons in Religious Studies, Tillie followed her Professional Rugby player husband around the world for a decade, becoming a teacher in between and thoroughly enjoyed teaching High School students Social Studies before putting pen to paper, and finishing her first novel.

Tillie has now settled in Austin, Texas, where she is finally able to sit down and write, throwing herself into fantasy worlds and the fabulous minds of her characters.

Tillie is both an independent and traditionally published author, and writes many genres including: Contemporary Romance, Dark Romance, Young Adult and New Adult novels.

When she is not writing, Tillie enjoys nothing more than curling up on her couch watching movies, drinking far too much coffee, while convincing herself that she really doesn’t need that extra square of chocolate.
Author Links

 

 

 

Fake Fiancée by Ilsa Madden-Mills

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Pretending never felt so good….

Fake Fiancée by Ilsa Madden-Mills is NOW LIVE!
ONLY $0.99 & Free on Kindle Unlimited.

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2laEuMc
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2lfrSjw
Amazon Paperback: http://amzn.to/2ldp4TS

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Blurb

A new standalone romance from Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author Ilsa Madden-Mills…

They say nothing compares to your first kiss,
But our first kiss was orchestrated for an audience.
Our second kiss…that one was REAL.
He cradled my face like he was terrified he’d f*ck it up.
He stared into my eyes until the air buzzed.
Soft and slow, full of sighs and little laughs,
He inhaled me like I was the finest Belgian chocolate,
And he’d never get another piece.
A nip of his teeth, his hand at my waist…
And I was lost.
I forgot he was paying me to be his fake fiancée.
I forgot we weren’t REAL.
Our kiss was pure magic, and before you laugh and say those kinds of kisses don’t exist…
Then you’ve never touched lips with Max Kent, the hottest quarterback in college history.

Get ready for breathtaking kisses and dreamy football players…

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EXCERPT

Max stalked over to the barrier that divided the stands from the football field and jumped it. The fans went nuts as he brushed past them, some not even realizing it until he was down the aisle. The Jumbotron followed him.
“Good Lordy, what’s he doing?” Mimi asked, clutching at her chest.
“I don’t know,” I said rather weakly, taking the chance to study him the closer he came. He was beautiful, his shoulders impossibly broad. To add to the distraction, his helmet was in his hand and all that dark brown hair was flowing around his chiseled features as if he had a fan in his face. My Viking.
“He’s coming over here,” Mimi commented.
He was. But why?
I stopped breathing . . .right when he came to a halt in front of me and knelt down on one knee.
Eyes the color of a wild ocean gazed at me.
He took my left hand in his right one.
“Max,” I breathed, my heart fluttering.
He gazed up at me. “Sunny Blaine, will you marry me?”
The stadium went wild. In a daze, I looked up at the Jumbotron and felt like I was watching this happen to someone else. Camera phones flashed all around us.
My first clear thought was I’ll kill him.
Aloud, nothing came out but a faint wheeze. Clearly someone had stuffed a giant wad of cotton in my mouth. Clearly I needed something a lot stiffer to drink than this Diet Coke. Clearly my fake boyfriend was a freaking raving lunatic.
He sat his helmet on the ground next to my feet, reached inside it and pulled out a small black box.
No, no, no!
The box opened, and my stomach churned at the sight of the large round solitaire diamond ring that was nestled on the black silk. I blinked repeatedly to clear my vision.
With deft fingers, Max eased it out of the lining and slipped it on my left hand.
I stared down at it. Then back at him.
I was going to murder the hottest quarterback in the country.
Kiss her, Kiss her, the crowd chanted.
We were the focal point of the entire world.
Max stood and tugged me up with him until we were standing. He slid his hand around my neck and pulled his face to mine. The sky was blotted out as he kissed me.
But I hadn’t said yes!
I wouldn’t say yes.
Not to a fake engagement.
The applause of the stadium was deafening. And his kiss—it was deadly. Despite my rage, my body craved him. His lips were hot, so hot, and my tongue met his with a vengeance. We kissed hard, and I nipped at him, my teeth scraping across his lips. But the only one who’d end up bleeding in this scenario was me.
He eased back to take me in, and with a final look at my face he gave a thumbs-up sign to the entire stadium. They went nuts, chanting his name.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered in my ear, letting his hand trail down my arm as he stepped back from me. He walked away backward, eyes on me the entire time. The announcers for the game told everyone who might have missed it that Max Kent had just asked his girlfriend to marry him, and she’d said yes. More cheers came as they replayed him on his knee in front of me with a giant YES written across the top.
I plopped back down in my seat. Frozen.
“. . . did you see her face? Shocked . . .”
“. . . most romantic thing in football . . .”
“. . . luckiest girl in the world . . .”
My face went hot. Even my ears burned. I wanted to crawl under a seat.
God.
What a lie.
The half ended and our offense came out to the field, snapped the ball, and Max threw it straight to Tate who ran it in for another touchdown. My chest constricted and anger churned in my gut.
I didn’t care who won.
I hated football right now.
Most of all, I hated Max Kent, and I was going to make him pay.

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About the Author

Wall Street Journal best selling author Ilsa Madden-Mills writes about strong heroines and sexy alpha males that sometimes you just want to slap.

She’s addicted to all things fantasy, including unicorns and sword-wielding females. Other fascinations include frothy coffee beverages, dark chocolate, Ian Somerhalder, astronomy (she’s a Gemini), and tattoos. She has a degree in English and a Master’s in Education. When she’s not pecking away on her computer, she shops for cool magnets and fuzzy pajamas.

She loves to hear from readers and fellow authors. Email her at ilsamaddenmills@gmail.com.

Singe by Aly Martinez

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SINGE is the first book in an ALL NEW smokin-hot standalone series by Aly Martinez NOW AVAILABLE!

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Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2kfNgXh
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2kfyRdL
Nook: http://bit.ly/2kQyB5S
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2kC4kru

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Blurb
She was my nightmare. Every time I closed my eyes, I watched her fall into that inferno. Over and over, I failed to save her.

I hadn’t been able to reach her, and the guilt only burned hotter over time. Four years later, I was the unreachable one.

Heroes aren’t always saints. Sometimes, we’re nothing more than jaded sinners driven by sleepless nights and hearts full of darkness.

And then I met her. She was a dreamer who managed to soothe my scars and heal my wounds.

But, as the flames closed in around us, I feared I wasn’t the right man to save her. That is until I realized she was the one woman I’d burn the world down to protect.

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Chapter One
Jude

“Tomorrow, it’s on me,” I said, standing up off the barstool.
Behind the bar, Carmen waggled her eyebrows, seductively calling out, “Funny, I could be on you tonight if you stayed awhile longer.”
I laughed at her innuendo and tossed her a wink. “I gotta get home, babe. Seven a.m. comes way too early.”
“Well, offer’s on the table,” she purred.
It always was with her. And, if I wasn’t careful, I’d eventually take her up on it.
Not that sleeping with Carmen wouldn’t have been good. But, when you find a cheap bar only five minutes from your house, you don’t fuck that up by dipping your cock into the bartender.
“Later, Carmen,” I called, pushing the door open and heading to my car.
I wasn’t out of the parking lot before I heard, “Officer Levitt? We’ve got an alarm going off in Park Hill. You mind taking a look on your way home?”
Banging my head back against the headrest, I groaned to myself. Park Hill was about as “on my way home” as swinging past California on the way to Maine.
Switching my radio to my other hand, I complained, “I’m off the clock, Jocelyn.” I had been for several hours, even if I hadn’t made it home yet.
She laughed. “I’m sorry, but you’re the only one remotely close. I had to send two cars out to the Laslows’ to break up another argument between Cam and his old man.”
“They at it again?” I asked.
“Apparently, Cam told Lindsey he didn’t want the baby. Lindsey told his dad. Old Man Laslow lost his mind.”
I chuckled, putting my blinker on and then doing a U-turn in the middle of the empty road. “Christ. I bet he did. I know the man’s seventy-five, but I sure as hell wouldn’t want to go toe-to-toe with him.”
“I’m with you on that. So…you gonna head out to Park Hill?” she asked in a sugary-sweet tone.
I grumbled deep in my chest. “You’re gonna owe me some of that banana bread for this. I missed it the other day when you brought it up to the station.”
“I don’t owe you anything.” She giggled. “However, as a personal thank-you from the state of Illinois, Park County, and the owners of Park Hill, I’ll bring you in a loaf on Friday. Deal?”
“Deal. I’m en route now.”
“Stay safe, and radio in with your report.”
“Yes, ma’am,” I replied, knowing exactly how much thirty-year-old Jocelyn loved being called ma’am by a twenty-five-year-old man.
“Don’t you—”
“Gotta go.” I turned the volume down to mute her, grinning to myself as I flipped my lights and siren on.
I’d been a cop for two years. And, in that time, I’d been out to the privately owned Park Hill estate at least a dozen times. It wasn’t unusual for the alarm on the mansion to get triggered. It never amounted to anything. The expansive estate was on the very edge of the county, and trouble didn’t usually travel that far out. More often than not, a bird at a window or a bumbling new member of the grounds crew would accidentally trip the alarm. Truth was, no one actually lived in Park Hill. The owners visited sporadically. But, for the majority of the time, it remained empty.
Some minutes later, I cut my siren as I pulled up to the entrance. The cold air assaulted me as I stepped out of my patrol car with my flashlight in hand and aimed at the keypad on the massive security gate that blocked the driveway off. That damn thing alone had to have cost more than I’d make in a lifetime. Forget about the house inside.
The smell of wood burning in a fireplace wafted through the night air. I guessed someone was home for a visit.
I typed in the emergency code on the gate panel and then climbed back in my car and made my way down the tree-lined driveway. I’d spent the day on patrol, and, with the exception of some minor vandalism across town, it had been a slow one.
Though, in the blink of an eye, that would change.
Along with my entire life.
“Oh fuck,” I breathed as the main house came into view on the top of the hill.
After throwing my car in park, I jumped on the radio at my shoulder. I could barely get the words out as I slung my door open and took off at a dead sprint.
“This is Officer Levitt! I need fire support at Park Hill immediately!”
And then I froze as a wave of adrenaline crashed into me like a tsunami.
An inferno roared in the night sky, but it was the small silhouette of a woman perched outside a third-floor window, smoke pouring out all around her, that knocked the breath out of me. My heart stopped, but my feet continued to pound against the pavement.
Jocelyn’s voice caught me. “What’s going on?”
“I need medical too!” I barked as I got closer. “The whole damn place is in flames and there’s a woman trapped!”
The woman’s long, black hair blew out behind her like a battered flag whipping in a storm. I couldn’t make out her face or her skin color or even guess at her age for the black soot covering her, but her fear was unmistakable.
And unforgettable.
“Hang on!” I yelled up to her.
“Oh my God!” she screamed before it turned into a fit of coughing. “Help me!”
“Hang on! Don’t let go!”
Frantically, I searched the perimeter for a way in, but it wasn’t only her house that was on fire. Flames were encompassing her. The yard and all the surrounding flowerbeds. Top to bottom. The first and second floors were completely engulfed, and if the sound of shattering windows was any indication, it was quickly making its way up to the third floor—to her.
“No! Don’t leave me!” she screamed, panic thick in her garbled voice, as I started around the side of the house.
A wall of heat stopped me in my tracks. Throwing an arm up, I did my best to block my face while scanning the building for any possible entry—or, in her case, exit.
But there wasn’t a surface of that house that wasn’t ablaze.
Except the roof.
Son of a bitch.
I spoke into the radio. “I need an ETA on fire.”
Jocelyn replied, “They’re on their way. Five minutes out.”
I didn’t have one minute, much less five.
Fuck.
My pulse quickened, sending blood thundering in my ears. I was a cop. I’d trained for chaos. I should have been able to come up with a solution for a situation like this, but they didn’t teach you how to conquer the impossible at the Academy.
And, as I took inventory of the flames dancing beneath her, I knew that was exactly what I was up against.
My gut wrenched as I helplessly sped back around the house. She appeared almost childlike, hovering barefoot on that narrow brick ledge, but her long-sleeve top and her loose-fitting pants clung to the body of a woman.
Jesus Christ! Where was that fucking fire truck?
“Is anyone else in the house?” I yelled up to her.
Not that I could have helped them, either. Short of running into a burning building, on what would surely be a suicide mission, there was not one thing I could do. And didn’t that little reality feel like a wrecking ball to the chest.
“No!” she cried, a loud sob lodging in her throat. It turned into more coughing, her body shaking violently with every heave.
I fisted my hands at my sides as my anxiety spiraled higher.
“Please. Do something!” she begged.
I ground my teeth together and once again glanced around as if a water hose and a ladder were going to suddenly appear out of nowhere. “Hang tight, okay? Fire trucks are on their way.”
“I can’t hold on much longer!” she cried.
“Yes, you can,” I demanded.
“I…I think I need to jump,” she coughed out.
I assessed the massive fire below her. I’d never be able to reach her before it swallowed her. But there was no way I’d be able to stand by and watch her burn.
No. If she jumped off that ledge, she was going to get us both killed.
“Don’t you dare,” I barked. “Don’t even think about it. Two minutes. They’ll be here.”
“I…I can’t.”
“Two minutes,” I repeated. “Hold—”
Suddenly, a window to her left exploded, shooting glass and flames in all directions.
I covered my face as she screamed in a paralyzing mixture of fear and agony. It cut me so deep that I knew I’d bear the scars for the rest of my life, and that had nothing to do with the glass and everything to do with the heavy weight of my failure already lingering in the smoke-filled air.
When I opened my eyes again, I caught a glimpse of orange flickering in the window behind her. Panic built in my chest.
“You need to move!” I yelled.
She shook her head and continued to cough and cry.
But it wasn’t an option. I couldn’t help her. Though I damn sure refused to watch her die.
“Please. Just listen to me.” I swallowed hard. “You can’t stay there.” I looked to the roof.
Sending her higher seemed wrong and went against everything I’d learned in my limited fire training. But fuck, my options were having her jump into a conflagration or scale up the side of a building in hopes of buying us the precious minutes needed for the fire department to arrive.
Drawing in a smoke-filled breath, I made a decision that would haunt me for the rest of my life. “You need to climb up to the roof.”
“I can’t!” she shrieked.
My stomach twisted, but I gentled my voice. “Look, I know you’re scared. But I’m right here. I’ll help guide you up, but, sweetheart, it’s bearing down on you. You gotta move, and I mean now.”
She choked on a mouthful of smoke as she attempted to look over her shoulder.
“You’re going to be fine. I swear to you,” I lied. “But you have to move.”
“I’m not going to make it!” She had to have yelled it in order for me to hear her, but I felt her defeat slither over my skin like a whispered goodbye.
I took a long step forward, too focused on her to feel the heat singeing my skin. “Yes, you are!” I declared. “Move your ass up to the roof and we’ll both be out of here in time for breakfast.”
Her gaze landed on mine, tears forging paths down her soot-covered cheeks, her disbelief obvious even from yards away. “Are you sure?”
It was a ridiculous question. It wasn’t like I could make any guarantees. It was fire, for God’s sake. But that didn’t stop me from covering my heart with my palm and vowing, “I swear on my life you’re going to make it through this.”
Her hesitation was evident, but with one last sob, she inched her small body farther out onto the narrow ledge, reaching the tips of her shaking fingers out for the windowsill above her.
“Good girl,” I praised, a fraction of relief washing over me.
And then I sucked in a sharp breath as one of her shaking legs slipped out from under her.
“No!” I yelled.
On instinct, I rushed toward the flames, my arms stretched out in the air as though I could catch her.
A scalding heat blistered my face and forced me to stop, but the real pain was in my chest. I watched in horror for what felt like a lifetime as she fought to right herself, her dainty arms flailing like a wounded butterfly frantically trying to catch the wind.
But there was none to be found.
My heart lurched into my throat, and my breath seized in my lungs.
And then a deep, guttural sound tore through me, shredding me from the inside out, as I watched her fall.

I woke up in a cold sweat. It wasn’t exactly something new. I’d been dreaming of Butterfly for over four years. She always flew directly into the flames, screaming as I stood helpless to save her.
Swinging my legs over the side of the bed, I cradled my head in my hands and tried to pretend I was okay. That wasn’t exactly something new, either. I could still feel the heat on the back of my neck. My lungs were still thick with smoke. The pressure in my chest never left me.
The distance while I was living in LA had helped. But, in the week since I’d been back in Illinois, I’d woken up every morning at that blazing house. I didn’t even have to be asleep for the memories to assault me.
I should have gone back to sleep. It was my first day at my new job, and the last thing I needed was to show up haggard and sleep-deprived. But, as I’d learned over the years, another fiery butterfly awaited me on the other side of REM. No way I was volunteering for that.
I pushed myself off the bed and tugged a T-shirt on, preparing to head down to the hotel gym with hopes that I could outrun the mental fog that had been hovering over me since I’d returned. There was a reason I’d thrown all of my shit in my car and driven as far as I could all those years ago.
Yet, somehow, I’d come full circle.
But I’d come back a different man.
At least that’s what I’d told myself as the deafening roar of doubt had overwhelmed me the moment I’d driven across the state line.
Regardless, it had been time to go home.
I’d been gone too long.
Or, as I’d decided as I’d passed the exit to Park County, not nearly long enough.

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About the Author

Born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, Aly Martinez is a stay-at-home mom to four crazy kids under the age of five- including a set of twins. Currently living in South Carolina, she passes what little free time she has reading anything and everything she can get her hands on, preferably with a glass of wine at her side

Being Brooke by Emma Hart

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Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00027]My name is Brooke Barker…

And I’m a freaking disaster.

No, seriously. I’m a college drop-out working a dead-end job, my best friend Carly’s dog gets more action than I do, and I have more bad dates in my diary than there are movie remakes.

Not to mention I’m completely and utterly in love with Cain Elliott.

The problem? He’s in a relationship. With a girl who’s so plastic she makes Barbie cry herself to sleep with jealousy.

The second problem? He’s my best friend.

My shut-up-and-put-harry-potter, yes-this-is-your-shirt, help-I-have-no-power, crap-I’m-out-of-tampon, kinda best friend.

And that’s all he can be, right?

Right.

Being Brooke is a standalone romantic comedy. Hilarious, super-sexy, and possibly highly inappropriate at times, this is the perfect feel-good read!

iBOOKS / B&N /

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Cain’s phone begins to buzz on the table. The screen lights up, and the short name on the screen makes me have to fight a frown.
I know it’s Nina. It always is. It’s like she has a Brooke-dar. She can sense whenever Cain and I are alone and hanging out.
My heart sinks, slowly but heavily, and I school my expression into one of not caring. I refuse to look away from the TV now.
Cain hands me his pizza box, which I take, begrudgingly, then he leans forward and grabs his phone. He waits for the buzzing to stop, then unlocks it and turns it off vibrate.
Then? Then he shoves it under the table, screen down.
Ho. Lee. Shit.
I gape at him. I can’t help it.
A piece of pepperoni drops off the slice of pizza in my hand—the same one that’s frozen halfway to my mouth as I stare at him in total disbelief. Did he really just do it?
“What?” Cain shrugs and takes his box back, grabbing a piece of half-eaten, meaty pizza and shoving the end in his mouth. The crust crunches as he bites down.
I swallow and glance at the coffee table. “I don’t think you’ve ever not taken a call from her.” I can’t help the derogatory way I say ’her’. It’s not intentional—honest. It’s ingrained in me to be vicious to other women. I think it’s a female thing. Self-preservation and all that.
“I don’t think I ever haven’t either.” Cain tilts his head to the side and meets my gaze, a suspicious glint in his green eyes. “But the point is, we haven’t done this in weeks, and I’m having too much fun to leave. Besides, we have all this junk food. If I don’t help you eat it, you’ll eat it all, then it’ll be my fault when your pants don’t fit.”
Oh my god.
“Does she know you’re here?” I smirk slyly and raise my eyebrows.
He shifts uncomfortably. With a cough, he puts his pizza down and grabs his beer bottle to swig from it.
Oh. My. Shitty. Life.
“She doesn’t, does she?” I sit up straight, throwing my half-slice back into my box and shoving his shoulder. “Cain!”
“No,” he mumbles, scratching the back of his ear. “She doesn’t know.”
I laugh. I can’t help it. It’s totally immature of me to delight in the fact he hasn’t told the Prissy Princess where is he and he’s ignoring her calls, but I do. It’s hilarious.
And, okay. I’m smug. Totally smug. There’s only one reason he hasn’t told her, and that’s because she hates me too.
Bitchy Best Friend Mission: Level Up!
“And tell me.” I snicker, just about holding back the volcano of laughter threatening to erupt. “Where does Nina think you are?”
“She thinks I’m at Mom’s.” He looks at me, his lips flattening into a thin line. “Stop laughing, B. No, don’t shake your damn head. I fucking mean it. She’s a little insecure over my friendship with you and Carly, that’s all. Sometimes it’s easier to just tell a… little white lie.”
“A little white lie? She thinks you’re at your mom’s!” I laugh harder and wipe at my eyes because they feel a little too wet.
“I just want the best of both worlds right now, all right?”
“What is the best of both worlds? Pizza with me and blow jobs from her?”
“She chooses not to eat gluten. Until she finds a gluten-free recipe she likes, I can’t eat pizza when she’s around.”
Which is a lot.
I raise my eyebrows again. “Your girlfriend won’t eat gluten but she’ll happily put your dick in her mouth?”
“Brooke. Don’t be a bitch.” He chucks a piece of chicken from his pizza at me, his eyes narrowing.
I’m dying. I think this is it—this is how I die, laughing at Cain’s lame excuses for lying to his girlfriend about spending time with me.
“Oh my fuck. This is hilarious. Seriously. Someone call Comedy Central.”
“Brooke.” He says my name again, this time quieter.
I stop laughing. Just about.
“I’m sorry. I just think it’s funny. You want me to be nice to her but you lie to her about spending time with me.” I shrug a shoulder and peel a piece of pepperoni off my pizza. I’m not even that hungry anymore.
He sighs, putting the top down on his box, and sits back. “She thinks there’s something going on between us.”
I laugh even harder because I might cry if I don’t.
Hi, breaking heart. Grab the tissues, yo.
There’s an awkward silence hanging between us now. It’s not the first time someone has thought that, but given that the more time I spend with Cain, the more I seem to fall for him, it’s awkward. Especially since he’s lying to her just to hang out with me.
I clear my throat and look up at him. “That’s ridiculous. You’re my best friend. Like anything would ever happen between us. I can’t put up with your shit taste in music, for a start.”
“Exactly,” he replies in a quieter voice, scratching behind his ear again. “It’s fucking stupid. I can’t stand your taste in music either. Who the fuck likes Justin Bieber?”
“People who think Kanye West should retire.”

beingbrooke-lifetip5

emma-hart

By day, New York Times and USA Today bestselling New Adult author Emma Hart dons a cape and calls herself Super Mum to two beautiful little monsters. By night, she drops the cape, pours a glass of whatever she fancies—usually wine—and writes books.

Emma is working on Top Secret projects she will share with her followers and fans at every available opportunity. Naturally, all Top Secret projects involve a dashingly hot guy who likes to forget to wear a shirt, a sprinkling (or several) of hold-onto-your-panties hot scenes, and a whole lotta love.

She likes to be busy—unless busy involves doing the dishes, but that seems to be when all the ideas come to life.

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A Veil of Vines by Tillie Cole

To most people, princes, princesses, counts and dukes are found only in the pages of the most famous of fairytales. Crowns, priceless jewels and gilded thrones belong only in childhood dreams.
But for some, these frivolous fancies are truth.
For some, they are real life.
On Manhattan’s Upper East Side, people have always treated me as someone special. All because of my ancestral name and legacy. All because of a connection I share to our home country’s most important family of all.
I am Caresa Acardi, the Duchessa di Parma. A blue blood of Italy. I was born to marry well. And now the marriage date is set.
I am to marry into House Savona. The family that would have been the royals had Italy not abolished the monarchy in 1946. But to the aristocrats of my home, the abolition means nothing at all.
The Savonas still hold power where it counts most.
In our tight-knit world of money, status and masked balls, they are everything and more.
And I am soon to become one of them.
I am soon to become Prince Zeno Savona’s wife…
… or at least I was, until I met Achille.
And everything changed.
Caresa

I closed my eyes as the music pounded through my body. The air was sticky from the mass of bodies on the dance floor. My body swayed to the beat, my feet ached from the five-inch Louboutin heels I was wearing, and my skin was flushed from the copious amounts of 1990 Dom Pérignon I had consumed.
“Caresa!” My name split through the harsh sound of drums and synthesized piano notes. I rolled my eyes open and looked across our cornered-off section of the club at my best friend.
Marietta was sitting on an oversized plush couch, waving a new bottle of champagne in my direction. Laughing, I followed my throbbing feet to where she sat and slumped down beside her. In seconds, a champagne flute was in my hand and the bubbly was flowing once more.
Marietta sat forward, swishing her long blond hair over her shoulder. She raised her glass as though she was going to make a toast. But instead, her bottom lip jutted out into a pathetic pout.
I tipped my head to one side, silently asking her what was wrong.
“I was going to make a toast to the Duchessa di Parma, my very best friend,” she shouted over a new but similar-to-the-last song. “To my best friend leaving me here in dull old New York to go marry a real-life godforsaken prince in Italy.” Marietta sighed and her shoulders slumped. “But I don’t want to. Because that would mean this night is almost over, and tomorrow I lose my partner-in-crime.” A sudden sadness bloomed in my chest at her words. Then, when her eyes filled with tears, those words became a punch in the gut.
Placing my glass on the table before us, I moved forward and put my hand on her arm. “Marietta, don’t get upset.”
She put down her own drink and grabbed my hand. “I just don’t want to lose you.”
My stomach rolled. “I know,” I said. Then I didn’t say anything else, but I could see Marietta register my unspoken words. I don’t want to go either.
Keeping my hand in hers, I slumped back against the couch and let my eyes drift over the busy dance floor below. I watched the throng of Upper East Siders losing themselves in the music. A pang of fear swept through me.
This really would be my last night in New York. In the morning, I would fly to Italy, where I would live from that day on.
Marietta shuffled closer to me and cast me a watery smile. “How are you doing?” she asked as she squeezed my hand.
“I’m okay. Just nervous, I guess.”
Marietta nodded her head. “And your papa?”
I sighed. “Ecstatic. Overjoyed that his precious daughter will be marrying the prince he chose for me as a child.” I felt a pang of guilt for speaking about him so negatively. “That was uncalled for,” I said. “You know as well as I do, Baroness von Todesco” —Marietta scowled playfully at my use of her title— “that we don’t really get a choice in whom we marry.” I leaned forward and picked up my champagne. I took a long swig, enjoying the feel of the bubbles traveling down my throat. I handed Marietta her glass and raised mine in the air. “To arranged marriages and duty over love!”
Marietta laughed and clinked her glass with mine. “But seriously,” Marietta said, “are you okay? Truly okay?”
I shrugged. “I honestly don’t know how to answer that, Etta. Am I okay with the arranged marriage? I suppose so. Am I okay with moving to Italy permanently? Not really. I love Italy—it’s my home, I was born there—but it’s not New York. Everyone I know is here in America.” Marietta’s eyes softened with sympathy. “And am I okay with marrying Zeno Savona? The infamous Playboy Prince of Toscana?” I took a deep breath. “I have no idea. I guess that will become apparent in the next three months.”
“In your ‘courting period,’” Marietta said using air quotes, and snorted with laughter. “What a joke. What twenty-three-year-old woman and twenty-six-year-old man need a courting period?”
I laughed at her sassy tone, but then soberly replied, “Ones who don’t know each other at all? Ones who have to see if they can stand each other’s company before sealing their marital fates forever?”
Marietta shuffled closer. “You know as well as I do that you could hate this so-called prince, detest everything he is—and he you—and I’d still be your maid of honor at your wedding on New Year’s Eve.” She sputtered a laugh. “The very fact that the date has been set says it all. This marriage is happening.” Marietta held up her glass, got to her feet and, with arms spread wide, shouted, “Welcome to the life of the European blue bloods of the Upper East Side! Drowning in Prada and Gucci, dripping in diamonds, but having no free will to call our own!”
I laughed, pulling her back down. She broke into hysterics as her ass hit the couch, spilling champagne all over the expensive upholstery. But our laughter waned as the house lights came on one by one. The last of the dance music drifted into silence, and the rich patrons of Manhattan’s most exclusive nightclub began making their way to their limos and town cars. It was three o’clock in the morning, and I had six hours left in the city I loved beyond measure.
Tillie Cole hails from a small town in the North-East of England. She grew up on a farm with her English mother, Scottish father and older sister and a multitude of rescue animals. As soon as she could, Tillie left her rural roots for the bright lights of the big city.

After graduating from Newcastle University with a BA Hons in Religious Studies, Tillie followed her Professional Rugby player husband around the world for a decade, becoming a teacher in between and thoroughly enjoyed teaching High School students Social Studies before putting pen to paper, and finishing her first novel.

Tillie has now settled in Austin, Texas, where she is finally able to sit down and write, throwing herself into fantasy worlds and the fabulous minds of her characters.

Tillie is both an independent and traditionally published author, and writes many genres including: Contemporary Romance, Dark Romance, Young Adult and New Adult novels.

When she is not writing, Tillie enjoys nothing more than curling up on her couch watching movies, drinking far too much coffee, while convincing herself that she really doesn’t need that extra square of chocolate.

 

A Veil of Vines by Tillie Cole

To most people, princes, princesses, counts and dukes are found only in the pages of the most famous of fairytales. Crowns, priceless jewels and gilded thrones belong only in childhood dreams.
But for some, these frivolous fancies are truth.
For some, they are real life.
On Manhattan’s Upper East Side, people have always treated me as someone special. All because of my ancestral name and legacy. All because of a connection I share to our home country’s most important family of all.
I am Caresa Acardi, the Duchessa di Parma. A blue blood of Italy. I was born to marry well. And now the marriage date is set.
I am to marry into House Savona. The family that would have been the royals had Italy not abolished the monarchy in 1946. But to the aristocrats of my home, the abolition means nothing at all.
The Savonas still hold power where it counts most.
In our tight-knit world of money, status and masked balls, they are everything and more.
And I am soon to become one of them.
I am soon to become Prince Zeno Savona’s wife…
… or at least I was, until I met Achille.
And everything changed.
I opened the window beside me and stared at the illuminated entrance. I swallowed hard and placed my empty glass on the bar. Metal groaned, breaking through the twilight, as the massive black wrought-iron gates began to open. The limo slowly pulled onto the property’s lane, and I drank in the thick forest that shielded the estate. I inhaled the freshness of the lush green trees. The unpolluted sky was thick with stars—not a single cloud in sight.
A few minutes later, the thick woods cleared, and I gasped. Acres and acres of gold and green vineyards covered the landscape. The scents of plump grapes and damp soil permeated the warm air. I closed my eyes. It reminded me of being a child. It brought me back to the days before I was taken to New York. I could still feel the heat of the Emilia-Romagna sun on my face, the deep smell of olives, grapes and flowers drifting in the breeze as I ran around our Parma estate.
I smiled a nostalgic smile and allowed my eyes to drift open again. I rested my arms on the window and leaned my chin on them as the limo drove on. There were several small villas peppered over the landscape, their lights twinkling in the distance. They must have been the winemakers’ residences. It was not only the Bella Collina merlot that was made on this land; other reds were too—particularly the Chianti from the region’s finest Sangiovese grapes. The Bella Collina olive oil was also up there with the best. But nothing compared to the famed merlot.
The limo turned right, and my breath caught in my throat. I lifted my head and stared disbelievingly at the property ahead. Bella Collina was a veritable Palace of Versailles tucked away in the Umbrian wilderness.
“Mio Dio,” I whispered as I took in the imposing stone structure, the sweeping steps and the vast number of windows set in the building’s walls. Large pillars of red-veined marble flanked the entrance. Cypress trees framed the estate as if it were the shining star of a fine Renaissance painting. Sculptures of famed Savona monarchs of old stood proudly on the manicured lawns, and strategically placed lighting illuminated the sheer perfection of every piece of topiary.
As a child, I had been to the Palazzo Savona in Florence. It was widely regarded to be one of the finest estates in all of Italy, if not western Europe. But this . . . this . . . there were no words. It was perfectly placed, as if it had always been there. As if it had grown naturally from the Umbrian earth just as sure as the vines and woods that kept this architectural treasure hidden from view.

A Veil of Vines by Tillie Cole

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of the best books I’ve read this year..

I loved it. An amazing read, very sweet and romantic with the tiniest hint of drama. Tillie Cole knows how to play on people emotions, you could be crying one minute but then have the biggest, cheesiest grin on your face the next. I loved how descriptive it was, she set the scenes perfectly, it was as if you were right there with the characters. Everything was perfect.

I would definitely recommend this to everyone.
A massive five stars!!

View all my reviews

Tillie Cole hails from a small town in the North-East of England. She grew up on a farm with her English mother, Scottish father and older sister and a multitude of rescue animals. As soon as she could, Tillie left her rural roots for the bright lights of the big city.

After graduating from Newcastle University with a BA Hons in Religious Studies, Tillie followed her Professional Rugby player husband around the world for a decade, becoming a teacher in between and thoroughly enjoyed teaching High School students Social Studies before putting pen to paper, and finishing her first novel.

Tillie has now settled in Austin, Texas, where she is finally able to sit down and write, throwing herself into fantasy worlds and the fabulous minds of her characters.

Tillie is both an independent and traditionally published author, and writes many genres including: Contemporary Romance, Dark Romance, Young Adult and New Adult novels.

When she is not writing, Tillie enjoys nothing more than curling up on her couch watching movies, drinking far too much coffee, while convincing herself that she really doesn’t need that extra square of chocolate.