April 30, 2015

REVIEW, EXCERPT & GIVEAWAY: Changing His Game (Gamers #1)

Welcome to my stop on Megan Erickson's CHANGING HIS GAME review tour! Read on for my review and an excerpt from the book, then enter the giveaway to win a signed copy (INTL)!

Changing His Game (Gamers #1), by Megan Erickson
Published April 28, 2015
Publisher: Entangled Brazen
Format: e-ARC, provided by the publisher
Genre:  adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble * iBooks

Rating: 4 STARS

(From Goodreads) He controls the game, but she’s rewriting all the rules…

Marley Lake is no stranger to awkwardness, but getting caught watching a dirty GIF by the company’s hot new IT guy exceeds even her standards. That is, until she realizes he's as turned on by it as she is. But with a big promotion on the line, she refuses to let her current dry spell be her downfall. Maybe.

Austin Rivers has no business lusting after the irresistible editor of Gamers Magazine. He's a secret partner in the business—and technically Marley’s boss. One look at that GIF, though, and he’s ready to install a whole lot more than just software…as long as she never finds out who he really is.

But reality’s not as virtual as it seems, and when Austin’s identity jeopardizes Marley’s promotion, he has to change his game or risk losing the only woman with the cheat code to his heart.

A hot romance about gamers - you wouldn't think it would work, right? I mean, let's face it. When most of us think about the typical gamer, it's a nerdy guy who's stuck in his parents' basement with very little social skills and absolutely no game (pun intended). Well, then I guess Austin isn't the typical gamer. And neither is Marley. 

Marley is the head copy editor at Gamers magazine. Faced with a serious IT problem one night, she calls for help, and what she gets is the hottest IT guy she's ever seen. Unfortunately, he fixes her problem easily and sees the sexy and edgy animated GIF she had been looking at before her computer went haywire. It intrigues him more than he thought it would, and he needs to know more about this girl. But, he conveniently leaves out the fact that he owns the company she works for, and when his position threatens a promotion she's been wanting, Austin might not be able to salvage things 

I loved how Austin and Marley both were their own brand of weird. And, together, they were perfect. Austin is like the typical gamer in that he's pretty anti-social. He doesn't like being around lots of people. His role in the magazine Marley works for and in the creation of the hottest game in the world is secret to spare him the attention. Having already experienced one failed relationship, Austin isn't looking for another one, but he does think that perhaps Marley can scratch his particular brand of itch. 

Marley is weird by the simple fact that she is a woman working in a man's world. She loves video games and is good at what she does, yet she has to work twice as hard as her co-workers to maintain her position in the company. I get why Marley just wants to find a guy that she can completely unplug with - let him take complete control so that, for once, she doesn't have to work hard to get to the finish line. Sounds like heaven to me too. 

Austin and Marley were perfectly suited for each other. He gave her what she needed but couldn't find anywhere else. She gave him someone genuine to talk to and someone to exercise his sexual proclivities with without judgement or fear. There was plenty of give and take, except where Austin's secrets were concerned. How many times have we kept a bad thing to ourselves, fully intending to come clean but only once the solution has been made clear? Yeah, that was Austin's philosophy too. 

Marley's brother and sometimes roommate Chad provided some awesome comic relief throughout the book. He's a total cornball and not only gave me some laughs, he served as Marley's sounding board when she needed one. 

I hope this isn't the last we've seen from this world that Megan Erickson has created. It's so much fun, super hot and sexy and was so satisfying for my inner nerd. 

The lights dimmed, and Austin straightened as the previews started. Most of them were for action movies, although a couple were comedies. Austin sat silently, gaze on the screen. And Marley swore he didn’t even crack a smile.

God, she wanted to see his smile.

When the movie finally started, the screen showed a montage of a younger Aric, chained to a cell as his wife was ripped from his arms.

Marley tried to lose herself in the story, but it was impossible with Austin this close. Sitting in a theater in jeans wasn’t comfortable so she had worn a simple sweater dress. She crossed her bare—now shaved—legs so that her foot brushed Chad, not Austin.

She kept her face turned toward the screen but her gaze strayed. Austin’s palms were flat on his thighs and his legs were spread. His pinkie on his right hand was close, oh so close. If he extended it an inch or two, he’d brush her bare thigh.

She wanted him to. God, she wanted him to. Her back was tense, and she squeezed her legs together, wishing she’d done something last night to relieve this ache. She hadn’t, conflicted with guilt and unease over fantasizing about a coworker. But now, with his scent surrounding her, his soft voice in her ears, she told herself to get a grip.

What was wrong with her?

And then Austin leaned over, and she closed her eyes as the heat of his breath touched her ear. “Aric’s motivations are interesting, aren’t they?”

She didn’t answer, just nodded, because she didn’t trust her voice.

“He tracks down every last one of his enemies,” he continued. “His goal isn’t to rescue his wife, Evelyn. It’s to exact revenge, which makes the game aptly titled.”

Aptly. He’d used the word aptly in a sentence. Why was that hot? Did she have an SAT fetish? Heat pooled in her belly and a bead of sweat dripped between her breasts. They ached with fullness, and she knew her nipples were hard.

The soft, seductive voice didn’t stop. “He becomes so entrenched in his mission that he becomes a monster, not unlike his dragons. It isn’t until he’s reached the wife of his enemy and has a chance to take her by force, that he realizes he’s become exactly what he hated.”

She turned her head, so that her lips were an inch away from his. Those eyes flickered in the light of the screen. She somehow found her voice and forced it through her vocal chords. “That’s the turning point in the game, when he changes his mission of revenge to one of rescue. He takes back what’s his.”

His chest rose and fell. “And do you think that’s appropriate?”

She could close the distance, just an inch, and those lips would be on hers. What would they feel like? Would he kiss hard or soft? Would he grip her jaw and direct the kiss? “Do I think what’s appropriate?”

He licked his lips and she felt the wet heat of that tongue on the edge of her lower lip. “That he takes what’s his.”

Megan worked as a journalist covering real-life dramas before she decided she liked writing her own endings better and switched to fiction.

She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids and two cats. When she's not tapping away on her laptop, she's probably listening to the characters in her head who won't stop talking.


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April 29, 2015

COVER REVEAL: Chaos (Mayhem #3)

One of my new discoveries is the wonderful Jamie Shaw, author of MAYHEM (Mayhem #1) and RIOT (Mayhem #2). I've met her twice now, and I just have to tell you, she's the sweetest person. It's icing on the cake that her books completely ROCK. It's time for me to show you the cover for her third Mayhem book, CHAOS.

Chaos (Mayhem #3), by Jamie Shaw
Publish Date:
July 21, 2015
new adult contemporary romance
To Pre-order: Amazon | B&N
(Synopsis) From the moment she saw Shawn Scarlett perform at a school talent show, Kit Larson has loved two things: the guitar, and the gorgeous, green-eyed boy who inspired her to play. But one careless night in high school shatters her hope of ever being more than a notch on his bedpost.

Six years, two bands, and one mostly-mended heart later, Kit’s about to make her rock star dreams a reality as the new guitarist for Shawn’s band, The Last Ones to Know. He may not remember their reckless night together, but Kit has never forgotten… and she’s determined to make him eat his heart out.

The release of their new album means a month cooped up on a tour bus, sleeping inches away from the ridiculously sexy musician she’s never quite gotten over. And as Kit gets to know the real Shawn—not Shawn Scarlett, the rock god, the player—their attraction becomes too hot to resist. But the past is paved with secrets, and when they finally surface, Kit could lose everything: the band, the music, her dreams… and Shawn.

A Special Announcement From Cora Carmack...

Fans of Cora Carmack’s Rusk University, I have a SUPER exciting announcement:

ALL CLOSED OFF, Book 4 in the Rusk University Series, is coming!!!

Check out this message from Cora!

*WARNING: This letter contains spoilers for All Broke Down. If you haven't yet read that book, read at your own peril. SECOND WARNING: this letter talks about fictional characters as if they are real people. Sorry I'm not sorry. THIRD WARNING: The letter below broaches a serious topic that could be a trigger for some people*

Hello beloved readers!

The first person who read one of my Rusk University books was my older sister. I gave her All Lined Up when I finished, and her first question was "Are Ryan and Stella going to be together?"

At the time, I told her no. I had plans for both of them that included their own storylines. I thought they were too much alike. They'd make great friends. They might even hook-up, but in the end... I couldn't envision anything serious for them. So I actually rewrote some of their scenes trying to make that aspect of their connection more obvious. And still, when All Lined Up released, amidst the chatter about sweet Carson and sassy Dallas, I had people asking if Stella and Ryan were next. I denied it again (and again and again).

But sometimes in writing, the stars align and a character will become bigger and more real than you could have possibly imagined. It's a wonderful experience, but in Stella's case it was also incredibly heartbreaking. While I was writing All Broke Down, the news was inundated with information about the Steubenville rape trial and other tragedies and injustices like it. Tragedies where women have been violated first by an attacker, then by judgmental and hateful people, and finally by a justice system that repeatedly fails survivors of sexual assault. Having grown up in Texas, where too often football stars are treated like gods and can get away with just about anything, it hit particularly close to home. And since All Broke Down featured a passionate activist heroine, I felt compelled to reference this chronic dark underbelly of elite sports.

I can remember vividly sitting on my couch, brainstorming how I would incorporate such an event into the book. I had thought the assault would happen to an unknown character, and maybe I would focus on the way it divided the team and the school and the town. But like I said... Sometimes a character will become bigger and more human than I anticipated. And it sounds crazy, but in my mind, I felt Stella push her way forward and say, "Mine. This is my story." I immediately began to cry. Sob, really. Because I loved her as a character. She was hilarious and strong and didn't take crap from anyone. She was everything I always hope to be. And I didn't want her to go through that. Even as I cried, my brain began to tell me that it made sense. Stella was vibrant and enjoyed a wild party. She was not afraid of her sexuality, and she had no problem with casual sex. She was the kind of girl that probably had a reputation. The kind of girl who could be heinously and violently taken advantage of, and people would STILL blame her. Because she was in the wrong place, wearing the wrong clothes, behaving in the wrong way. But just because it COULD happen to her, didn't mean I wanted it to. But once again, Stella was there in my head saying, "Someone needs to tell this story. And I'm strong enough to do it. Let me." And when Stella chose her story, she also chose the man I'd been adamant wasn't right for her. Because as it turns out... Those two characters who I thought were too alike aren't so alike anymore. And Stella needs Ryan to help her hold on to that vibrant and strong girl she was before.

So I let go of all the plans I had for her, and allowed her to tell me her story, which is about more than just sexual assault. It's about the aftermath. Depression. Shame. Guilt. Anger. Injustice. Victim-blaming. Slut-shaming. It's about the way that kind of event can change everything-- how you relate to people, how you think, how you dream, how you love. It's about the way the rest of the world moves on to the next big tragedy, and you're still left holding the broken pieces of who you used to be, with no idea how to put them together again or even if you want to. It will be the most difficult story I ever tell. And the most important. Because it’s a story that belongs not just to Stella, but to millions of people around the world. It’s a story that belongs to a new person every 107 seconds*. And that’s just in the United States. Think about that for a moment. 107 seconds. Stella’s story won’t be any easier to read than it will be to write. But I hope you’ll help me drag this story into the light.

So now I’ll step off my soapbox and just tell you about the book…


Stella Santos is fine.

Maybe something terrible happened to her that she can’t even remember. And maybe it drives her crazy when her friends treat her like she’s on the verge of breaking because of it. Maybe it feels even worse when they do what she asks and pretend that it never happened at all. And maybe she’s been getting harassing emails and messages for months from people who don’t even know her, but hate her all the same.

But none of that matters because she’s just fine.

For Ryan Blake, Stella was always that girl. Vibrant and hilarious and beautiful. He wanted her as his best friend. His more than friends. His everything and anything that she would give him. Which these days is a whole lot of nothing. She gets angry when he’s there. Angry when he’s not there. Angry when he tries to talk and when he doesn’t.

When Stella devises an unconventional art project for one of her classes all about exploring intimacy—between both friends and strangers—Ryan finds himself stepping in as guinea pig after one of her subjects bails. What was supposed to be an objective and artistic look at emotion and secrets and sex suddenly becomes much more personal. When he hits it off with another girl from the project, Stella will have to decide if she’s willing to do more than make art about intimacy. To keep him, she’ll have to open up and let herself be the one thing she swore she’d never be again.



ALL CLOSED OFF will be releasing sometime in early 2016. I don't have a date yet for several reasons. The first and most important, is that I want to do this story justice. And as such, I have no intentions of rushing the process. Secondly, I'll be returning to indie publishing for the remainder of the Rusk series. As you can probably tell, this story means a great deal to me. And by having the ultimate control over everything from timing to editing to price, I'll be able to ensure that I'm able to create exactly the story I envision. Unfortunately, that means you won't be seeing the paperback of ALL CLOSED OFF on the shelves in most stores. Nor is it currently available for pre-order. But I hope you'll add the book on goodreads, follow me on social media, and/or join my newsletter. I promise to shout it all over the place when I have a set release date or pre-order links.

Thank you for listening as I told you the evolution of Stella's story. When it's finished, I hope you will feel as passionately about it as I do.

All my best,

Cora Carmack

*Statistic from RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network)

And an opportunity to add your voice to Stella’s…

Stella’s experience is only one story of many. She was with someone she trusted when it happened, and the only memories she has are pieced together from her own blurred recollections and the things people have told her. Not everyone’s experience with sexual assault is the same. Each person reacts, copes, and overcomes differently. And while this book is about one specific character’s journey, I would like to tell as many sides of this story as possible. As Stella grapples with her thoughts and emotions she’ll be searching for advice, for comfort, for a place where people understand her and can identify with what she’s experiencing. There will be room for truth within the fiction, and if you’d like that truth to be yours, this is your chance.

If you have a story like Stella’s, and you want your voice to be heard….

If there’s something you wish more people understood about what you’ve gone through….

If there’s something you’d like to tell people struggling with a story like yours…

I’d like to give you the opportunity to add your voice to Stella’s. Use the hashtag #WhenItHappened and let your voice be heard on your own by posting on your own social media, or if you’d rather I share your words fill out this google document and tell me your story. You can fill out this form anonymously or not. I’d like to begin this discussion now because April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. But my hope is to include as many stories as possible within the book itself.

So many have stories of #WhenItHappened. Your voice and your story deserve to be heard. I’m listening.

#WhenItHappened Google Form: http://goo.gl/forms/4VRjWgZYSW

Cora Carmack is a twenty-something New York Times bestselling author who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She's done a multitude of things in her life-- boring jobs (like working retail), Fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). She now splits her time between Austin, TX and New York City and spends her days writing, traveling, and spending way too much time on the internet. In her books, you can expect to find humor, heart, and a whole lot of awkward. Because let’s face it . . . awkward people need love, too.

Links: Website ** Twitter ** Facebook ** Newsletter ** Author Goodreads

April 28, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This is one meme I can get on board with - I LOVE lists! I'll show you mine if you show me yours!

Top Ten Books Which Feature Characters Who Are... Athletes
1. Garrett by Sawyer Bennett - Garrett is the crazy, fun-loving member of the Carolina Cold Fury professional ice hockey team who completely falls for a girl who might not be around for very long. Is he ready for what all that might entail?
2. While It Lasts by Abbi Glines - Cage York is a hot shot baseball player who has to take some time off to get his head on straight. While on his work vacay, he meets Eva and falls in love. Did you all know this book is going to be a movie soon? Yeeeeeees.
3. The Perfect Game by J. Sterling - Jack F-ing Carter is a star college baseball player on his way to the pros when he meets Cassie and his supposed life plan goes completely off course. 
4. Play With Me by Kristen Proby - Will Montgomery is nicknamed "Football Star" by his would-be girlfriend Meg McBride, a children's oncology nurse. Will is a professional football player who uses his skill and charm to win her over. 
5. Driven by K. Bromberg - Colton Donovan is a professional race car driver (I'm saying this counts as an athlete - it's sort of a sport, right?) with a tragic past who thinks he's unlovable. Rylee sets out to prove him wrong. 
6. All Lined Up by Cora Carmack - It's like Friday Night Lights in a new adult book, and it's oh, SO good. Carson is the backup QB for Rusk University's football team who may stay on the sidelines when his coach finds out he's fallen for his daughter. 
7. Bound by Lorelei James - Ronin Black is a champion MMA fighter and a eleventy-billion degree black belt. who has no idea how to get in touch with his softer side. Amery helps him out with that while he helps her out with her more wild side. 
8. Real by Katy Evans - Remington Tate is an MMA fighter who keeps a secret from everyone except for those in his very inner circle. When he brings Brook Dumas into that inner circle, it's with intentions more interesting than just sharing secrets.

9. One Tiny Lie by K.A. Tucker - This was my favorite book in the Ten Tiny Breaths series. There was just something about Ashton, captain of the Princeton rowing team, that completely captivated me. 
10. On the Rocks by Sawyer Bennett - Hunter is a professional surfer who thinks he's ready to hang up his board and retire to become a bar owner in a North Carolina beach town. Gabby also happens to be in that beach town, which makes his plan equally appealing. 

April 27, 2015

RELEASE DAY: Sweet (Contours of the Heart #3)

Join me in celebrating the release of SWEET by Tammara Webber! Check out the excerpt and teasers below!

Sweet (Contours of the Heart #3), by Tammara Webber
Publish Date:
April 27, 2015
new adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon | iBooks | B&N | Kobo | Amazon UK

He’s the love of her life, but he doesn’t know it.
She’s his one moment of sacrifice in a lifetime of survival.

He was damaged and wild, but resilient.
She’s always been obedient. Now she’s restless.

Home for the summer between college and med school, Pearl Torres Frank knows two things: Boyce Wynn is the embodiment of everything she should run from, and everything she wants to run to. Rebellious and loud. Unconcerned with society’s opinion of him. Passionate. Strong. Dangerous.

And one more trait he hides from everyone but her:  

Boyce watched me, a lit cigarette in one hand and a koozied beer in the other. We hadn’t spoken since that kiss, other than his usual juvenile quips during biology—the ones that drove Mel and Mr. Quinn insane and made Landon smirk and shake his head and had me biting the inside of my cheek to suppress my smile.

At first, I’d been confused, then disappointed, and then angry. I’d worked my way to acceptance, like when I’d known I was drowning and there was nothing I could do. He’d merely gone back to being Boyce Wynn, who did what he wanted and who he wanted. And I’d gone back to being Pearl Frank—star student, social royalty, good girl.

But I couldn’t forget that kiss. The fixed glint of his eyes across the fire said that neither could he.

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of EASY and BREAKABLE (Contours of the Heart series - NA), as well BETWEEN THE LINES, WHERE YOU ARE, GOOD FOR YOU and HERE WITHOUT YOU (Between the Lines series - YA/NA).

I'm a hopeful romantic who adores novels with happy endings, because there are enough sad endings in real life. Before writing full-time, I was an undergraduate academic advisor, economics tutor, planetarium office manager, radiology call center rep, and the palest person to ever work at a tanning salon. I married my high school sweetheart, and I'm Mom to three adult kids and four very immature cats.


April 25, 2015

COVER REVEAL: Reaper's Fall (Reaper's MC #5)

Surprise! I have an extra special cover reveal for you today. I'm a huge fan of Joanna Wylde's Reaper's MC series, and I've been looking forward to Painter and Melanie's book so much. And now... it's time!

Reaper's Fall (Reaper's MC #5), by Joanna Wylde
To Be Published November 10, 2015
Berkley Romance
adult contemporary romance

(Synopsis) He never meant to hurt her.

Levi “Painter” Brooks was nothing before he joined the Reapers motorcycle club. The day he patched in, they became his brothers and his life. All they asked in return was a strong arm and unconditional loyalty—a loyalty that’s tested when he’s caught and sentenced to prison for a crime committed on their behalf.

Melanie Tucker may have had a rough start, but along the way she’s learned to fight for her future. She’s escaped from hell and started a new life, yet every night she dreams of a biker whose touch she can’t forget. It all started out so innocently—just a series of letters to a lonely man in prison. Friendly. Harmless. Safe.

Now Painter Brooks is coming home… and Melanie’s about to learn that there’s no room for innocence in the Reapers MC.

April 24, 2015

BEA Prepared - Part 1: Scheduling Your Day

So, you’ve got your hands on a ticket to BEA/BookCon. You have made transportation arrangements and know where you’re staying once you get to the Big Apple. NOW WHAT?

This is my third year attending BEA, and will likely be my last. So, through a series of blog posts, I hope to impart upon you, my little grasshoppers, some insight I’ve gained over the past two years as you make your plans over the next month. I’m calling this series BEA Prepared. The schedule of posts you can expect include:

I have seriously had nightmares both years about arriving at BEA and realizing that I totally forgot to do a schedule for my days. I was panicking when I had no idea what was happening or where I was supposed to be.

I am a planner by nature, so multiple copies of color-coded spreadsheets make me happy and soothe my soul. But, even if you are a pantser, you will benefit from doing a little pre-planning before you arrive in New York. There are, literally, HUNDREDS of signings each day, and booths have special giveaways and galley drops at various times. Some sort of visual reminder of where you want to be at what time to get the things you want the most will help you hold on to your sanity.

So, yeah – I wasn’t kidding about the color-coded spreadsheets. This was what my schedule looked like for day 1 of last year’s BEA:

As you can see from the tabs at the bottom, I had one of these for each day of the expo. Let’s break it down, shall we?

Signing Times
I guarantee that there will come a time when you will wish there were three of you. Between the in-booth signings and the author autograph area signings, there will be a lot of overlap. This is where you will need to make the hard choices. Which book do I want the most? Which author must I meet before I die? It sucks, but it’s a fact of BEA – you will not get to do everything you want. And, this is where my color coding system comes in handy.

Notice on Thursday the 10:00 hour and the 2:00 hour were both really ugly for me. There were nine authors I wanted to meet between 10 and 11 and six between 2 and 3. As it turned out, I got to meet four of the nine authors in the 10:00 hour (Caragh O’Brien, Jeaniene Frost, Ann Aguirre and Suzanne Brockmann) and only one (Jennifer Armentrout) in the 2:00 hour.

I recommend you put EVERYTHING on your schedule – even the signings you are on the fence about. You never know what you are going to have time for and what might pop up at the last minute.

Signing Locations 
After only an hour on the floor, you will learn where all the major booths are. You don’t even really need the booth numbers, because they hang HUGE signs from the ceiling that you can see from all over. Use them as markers for the smaller booths.

For example, I attended a few signings at the RWA (Romance Writers of America) booth. I knew from its number that it was one row over from the Simon & Schuster booth, which I could spot from a mile away.

You’re also going to need those table numbers for the signings at the author autograph area. There are 25 tables, and that area is always a madhouse. The table numbers on your schedule will give you a general idea of where you need to be. When you get there, look for the volunteers and ask if a line has been started yet.

Personalize or No?

I added a column to remind me of whether or not I wanted an author to personalize my book. Many times if I’m getting an ARC that I know I will end up purchasing a finished copy for, I’ll not get that author to personalize the ARC. I’ll get it home, read it, post my review, and then do a giveaway on my blog. It’s a lot easier to give away books that don’t have my name in them.

Drive-By Pictures
In addition to amazing authors, BEA hosts tons of other celebrities. Most of the time, I don’t really have a burning desire to read their book, but it would be super cool to see them in person and get a picture. I added notes to my schedule of where and when a celebrity was signing a book so that I could wander by and snap a picture. Most celebrities will do in-booth signings, so that makes this easy.

Neil Patrick Harris!
I've already started my spreadsheet for this year, but until the autograph signing area schedule is out on BEA's website, it will continue to look pretty bare. Even so, if you'd like for me to e-mail you my schedule for either this year or last year, just send me an e-mail at kristasdustjacket@gmail.com. It's an Excel file; once my schedule is a bit more populated, I will upload it to Google Docs.

April 23, 2015

REVIEW: Dark Instincts (The Phoenix Pack #4)

Dark Instincts (The Phoenix Pack #4), by Suzanne Wright
Published April 7, 2015
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Format: ARC, provided by the publisher
Genre:  adult paranormal romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating: 4 STARS

(From Goodreads) It happens whenever wolf shifter Roni Axton is near Marcus Fuller: a crackle of sexual awareness that’s intoxicating…and deeply annoying. Marcus is a pack enforcer who oozes power, but Roni is lethal in her own right—nothing like the flirty females who flock around him. Even still, his possessive gaze makes one thing clear. Marcus has singled her out for seduction, and he wants to make her sit up and beg.

No matter how aloof and unfazed Roni acts, Marcus can tell she wants him. When a brutal attack by a jackal pack forces them to work together, it’s the perfect opportunity for Marcus to chip away at her defenses—until he falls into his own trap, completely unprepared for the intensity of their connection. Roni is the only one who’s ever seen past his shifter charm and discovered the man hiding beneath it. And for Marcus, claiming Roni once will mean needing her forever.

I love a good paranormal romance. I don't read enough of them anymore. It's a sad thing that I really should rectify. You know, my go-to PNR used to be anything with vampires, but over the past year, I've tended to lean more toward the alpha male shifter variety. And, one of my favorite shifter series is Suzanne Wright's Phoenix Pack series. Ever since the beginning, I've loved Marcus. He seemed so strong and capable, yet fun-loving. I was excited when I learned that Dark Instincts was going to be all about him. 

Nick's sister Roni has been a bit of a loner since she was captured and tortured several years earlier. She's alpha and tough and the furthest thing from a girlie girl. And yet Marcus wants her all the same. Convincing her of that, however, is another story. When the people who took her show up again, all the men in Roni's life want to protect her and shield her from harm. And, all Roni wants to do is run into danger headfirst to take care of  herself. 

Marcus was AWESOME. He's dominant and possessive and protective when it comes to Roni. But, he can be sweet and tender with her too. He seems to know exactly what she needs when she needs it, and he will stop at nothing to give it to her. It's like, once he decided that Roni was it for him, he didn't care whether they were supposed to be true mates or not - he would be with her no matter what. And, since Marcus pretty much always gets what he wants, he adopted this never-give-up attitude when it came to winning her over.

Good thing too, since Roni was a tough nut to crack. She's the epitome of a tomboy. Never one to wear dresses and get mani-pedis, Roni is happiest when she's kicking ass as one of Nick's pack enforcers. She doesn't see herself as good mate material, especially since she's more dominant than most males she knows, so she doesn't take orders very well. So, no one was more surprised than her when Marcus set his sights on her. 

Reading about their push and pull and give and take was fun. Marcus was willing to push her buttons if he thought it would advance his cause, but he also knew that Roni needed some time to get used to the idea of having him around. And, when things escalated with the shifter group responsible for Roni's kidnapping, Marcus and Roni had to come to a place where he wasn't smothering her to death out of fear for her safety and she understood that his fierce need to protect her was going to cause him to go a little overboard when it came to her safety. 

Told in third person, we get a lot of both Marcus' and Roni's POVs. The parts I loved most were when Marcus dealt with Roni when she was in her wolf form. She was in a precarious and emotional place, and his way of handling her was so perfect. 

As in the other Phoenix Pack books, there was action and drama and plenty of Trey's grumpy grandma. There was also no shortage of hunky male shifters as we saw both Trey's and Nick's enforcers in action. Thankfully, it seems that there's plenty of fodder for future books in this series for a long time to come. Perhaps a book about broody Ryan next? Please?

April 22, 2015

BOOK BLITZ: Meet Me In The Dark

JA Huss' MEET ME IN THE DARK gives us a long-awaited peek at the enigmatic and scary Merrick Case, or Merc as he is known. Read on for more information about the book, including an excerpt, and don't forget to enter the giveaway for a $50 Amazon GC and some awesome swag.

Meet Me In The Dark, by JA Huss
Publish Date: April 15, 2015
Publisher: self-published
Genre: adult dark suspense
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

(Synopsis) He’s empty, inhuman, dishonest, and cruel.
She’s never wanted anyone more.

Sydney has lived in fear for eight years after freelance assassin, Merc, failed to rescue her from a cult-like militia group. Left in the hands of a sadistic man, she did whatever it took to survive. But Merc’s last words gave her hope. Hope he’d be back to finish the job.

Merc knows just what to do with a fearful girl like Sydney after he was betrayed by her father that night. He wields sex, drugs, lies, and love like weapons—and Sydney is his target.

He’s in control. He’s always in control. But Sydney Channing is not what she appears. And Merc’s only redeeming act, the very one that made Sydney’s life a living hell, might just be his worst mistake yet.

WARNING: Meet Me In The Dark is non-traditional DARK CAPTIVE ROMANTIC SUSPENSE. It is not intended for sensitive readers.

He is a killer.

But he is this man too.

“How?” I ask, when we are settled into bed. “How can life be so complicated and easy at the same time?”

“It’s a joke, Sydney. And the joke’s on us. Sanity, morals, right and wrong. They are all illusions. And sometimes we can see them clearly, and sometimes we can’t. But you always know when you’re OK. You always get that feeling that nothing can touch you. And tonight nothing can touch you. So close your eyes and let it go.”

I stare up at the ceiling after his breathing evens out and wonder if I’d be doing the world a favor by grabbing a gun out of his nightstand and shooting him in the head.

Probably. That’s the conclusion I come to. I have no idea what all that means. I have no idea if I believe him or not. I have no idea if he’s wondering right now if he should just pull a gun out of his nightstand and do the world a favor by killing me too.

I’m just glad he doesn’t. I’m OK with this. Because even though he is that killer, he is this man too. The one who feeds me and fucks me softly. The one who knows who I am and what I do. And he, of all the people who have floated in and out of my life, is the one who’s here.

You can say many things about Merric Case, but you can’t call him a hypocrite or a liar. Because he was one hundred percent honest with me tonight. He basically stood up on a mountain top and screamed, Here I am, take it or leave it.

I decide I don’t want to leave it.

He’s morally questionable. He’s violent and possibly even sick. But I am all those things too.

My eyes grow heavy and finally close. And I drift off knowing that I was right about him for all these years.

He is the man who shows up when no others will. He is the man who looks death in the eye and laughs. He is the man who will pull that trigger when the whole world stands there in shock, unable to move.

He is the only man who can save me from myself.

JA Huss is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than twenty romances. She likes stories about family, loyalty, and extraordinary characters who struggle with basic human emotions while dealing with bigger than life problems. JA loves writing heroes who make you swoon, heroines who makes you jealous, and the perfect Happily Ever After ending.

You can chat with her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/AuthorJAHuss), Twitter (@jahuss), and her kick-ass romance blog, New Adult Addiction (www.newadultaddiction.com).

If you're interested in getting your hands on an advanced release copy of her upcoming books, sneak peek teasers, or information on her upcoming personal appearances, you can join her newsletter list (http://eepurl.com/JVhAr) and get those details delivered right to your inbox.

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April 21, 2015


I am so sad to say goodbye to the Marked Men series! It seems like I've spent so long with these hot, troubled, tattooed men, that I can't imagine not having a book with them in it to read. The series caps off with ASA, Jet's brother-in-law and Rome's BFF. Read on for my review, an excerpt and a killer giveaway.

Asa (Marked Men #6), by Jay Crownover
Published April 21, 2015
Publisher: William Morrow
Format: ARC, provided by the publisher
Genre: new adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating: 4 STARS

(From Goodreads) Starting over in Denver with a whole new circle of friends and family, Asa Cross struggles with being the man he knows everyone wants him to be and the man he knows he really is. A leopard doesn’t it change its spots and Asa has always been a predator. He doesn’t want to hurt those who love and rely on him, especially one luscious arresting cop who suddenly seems to be interested in him for far more than his penchant for breaking the law. But letting go of old habits is hard, and it’s easy to hit bottom when it’s the place you know best.

Royal Hastings is quickly learning what the bottom looks like after a tragic situation at work threatens not only her career but her partner’s life. As a woman who has only ever had a few real friends she’s trying to muddle through her confusion and devastation all alone. Except she can’t stop thinking about the sexy southern bartender she locked up. Crushing on Asa is the last thing she needs but his allure is too strong to resist. His long criminal record can only hurt her already shaky career and chasing after a guy who has no respect for the law or himself can only end in heartbreak.

A longtime criminal and a cop together just seems so wrong . . . but for Asa and Royal, being wrong together is the only right choice to make.

Talk about a reluctant hero. Asa embodies that term to the fullest, and it is so frustrating. I get that Asa has not always been on the right side of the law, but he's been trying to find his way in the world for awhile now, and it's time he has something good in his life that's all for him. Royal could help him out with that if he would only allow her to. But, she has some things of her own to worry about first. 

Man, if self-deprecation was an Olympic sport, Asa would take the gold medal by a mile. He feels so badly about his past wrongs. But, more than that, I think he feels even worse that there are times when he wants to slip back into old habits. When you live your life a certain way for so long, it takes a lot of time to make a 180 change. Asa definitely has the will and the motivation to make the change. And, he really couldn't get a better support system. 

Asa's best friend is Rome, ex-military hero and all around good guy. Asa's sister Ayden is married to Jet. So, once Asa demonstrated he was serious about turning his life around, he had these rock solid guys and their awesome women to surround him with love and support. While that would make most people ecstatic, I think it only amplifies Asa's guilt. He sees himself as completely unlovable and not worthy of these good peoples' time. He is always reminding everyone of how rotten he is, which was sad and maddening. 

"Do you want to confess every single sin you've ever committed to me? Do you think it will scare me away or absolve you of past misdeeds? Because I have to tell you, neither of those things is going to happen. I'm never going to dislike you as much as you dislike yourself, Asa."

And then there's Royal. She's the newest member of the group, having moved into the same apartment building as Nash and his girlfriend Saint. And... she's a cop. She's like, the antithesis to Asa, or at least to the former Asa. She's just heaped a fresh, steaming pile of guilt on her shoulders too, due to a botched case that got her partner seriously injured. While taking some time off, Royal tries to up her game of seduction when it comes to Asa. 

He might have been a criminal in the past, but now I was the one that wanted to steal something from him and keep it for my own... he was going to put up a fight once he realized I was after his heart. After all, it was my job to capture the bad guy... only this one I wasn't planning on letting go of.

And, here's the thing about Asa that made me just want to throttle the hottie. He has this beautiful girl practically throwing herself at him, and he doesn't think he's worthy of her affections. You know, I'm all for the alpha male types that like to call the shots, but nothing irritates me more than a guy (or a girl) who makes blanket decisions for the other person based on what he think is best for her. Asa is convinced he's a bad guy and she's a good girl and therefore they can't be together. He sees things in black and white, and in so doing, he forgets that the "bad" people in the world can do good things and the "good" people can be total douchebags from time to time. 

Royal ends up wearing Asa down, and all of a sudden, he's feeling things and learning things about himself from both Royal and the others in the group that he hangs out with. He's learning how to be a responsible, upstanding citizen. And, he's learning that sometimes that sucks a lot. Asa has to make some judgement calls over the course of the book, and not all of them leave him feeling warm and fuzzy. One in particular nearly destroys everything he's built, and it was this one decision that really made me crazy. I'm still not entirely happy with how everything shook down, but Asa's and Royal's HEA made it worth it. 

Speaking of HEAs, since this is the last Marked Men book, we get a lot of opportunity to see where Rule, Jet, Rome, Nash and Rowdy are in their relationships with their wives and girlfriends. They've all found love and success, and are on similar paths now. It was a fantastic way to wrap up the series. 

But, the best part of all was the little note after the book ended, informing the reader that this is NOT the last we will see of our favorite tatted heroes. Jay Crownover is writing a spin-off series - The Saints of Denver - which will focus on many of the side characters that have been introduced in the past few books. I know the first book in that series will feature Sayer, Rowdy's sister, and Zeb, Rome and Asa's friend from The Bar. This is good news indeed.

She puffed out a breath and her bangs fluttered over her winged brows. “He’s a survivor for sure, but there is a difference between merely getting by and living the life you’re supposed to live. I had no idea how love was supposed to look or feel until I met Jet. I wasn’t living a full life until he gave me the strength to let go of everything else.”

Her eyes flared hot, gold just like Asa’s did when he was excited about something. I was a tiny bit jealous that just saying her man’s name had that effect on her.

“I want Asa to do more than survive, Royal. I want him to finally be happy for once in his life. I want him to do more than just get by. I want him to have something that is his and his alone that he doesn’t ever feel like he has to fight for.”

I gulped a little bit as emotion started to clog my throat. I set my almost empty beer down on the table in front of me and twisted my fingers together. “He has all of that within his grasp, but his hands are too busy holding on to the past and reaching for the future to grab on to it.”

She opened her mouth and then snapped it closed as she leaned back in her chair. She crossed her arms over her chest, covering up the Valkyrie straddling a flaming guitar and the word enmity as she did so. The shirt with the ripped-off sleeves that showed the sides of her black bra seemed out of place with her pointy red cowboy boots, but it was Ayden, so she rocked it and looked perfect doing so.

She shook her dark head. “I know he is. I was hoping that since he can’t stop staring at you, and keeps looking at me like he wants to drop-kick me across the bar, maybe you had convinced him to let some of that go. We can’t go back in time and we can’t predict the future. He’s living in suspended animation.”

I shifted again as the jukebox switched to an old Christina Aguilera song, which had several middle-aged ladies climbing up from the table they were sharing and doing some serious booty shaking. It made me grin even though the topic of conversation wasn’t exactly cheerful.

“Every once in a while he puts it all away, and every now and again I feel like he’s reaching for a lifeline to stop himself from sinking. It gives me enough hope that I’m willing to stick around and see how it all plays out.”

She ran her finger around the rim of her shot glass and licked the salt off. “What are you going to do if you ever have to lock him up again? He’s a trouble magnet. Even when he’s trying to keep his nose clean.”

I sighed and shoved my hands through the front of my hair. “I keep telling myself I’ll cross that bridge if I ever come to it.” I leaned closer to her when the dancing women moved a little closer and their laughter got loud enough that I had to talk over it. “Did you know he was willing to do time, to sit in jail for a crime he didn’t even commit because he’s so twisted up on the inside about everything that happened before? How can someone even function with that kind of guilt filling them up?”

My voice caught and I let out a shuddering breath. I started a little when Ayden’s hand reached out and landed on top of the fists I hadn’t even been aware I was making. I mean I knew about guilt and the way it could affect a person’s thinking. My own guilt had kept me away from Dom when he needed me most, but I let it go when I realized it was poisoning everything in my life. I would always feel bad for what happened that night in the alley and I would never get over seeing Dom fall, but it couldn’t be the only moment that defined my life or my career. I needed Asa to realize everything he was missing by refusing to let go.

Ayden’s fingers squeezed mine, and I had to squeeze back because she was the only other person alive that could understand how hard caring for a man like Asa could be.

“That’s why I worry. All he’s done since I brought him to Denver is function. Nothing more and nothing less. That’s no way to live. But now he watches you like you matter, like he’s worried I’m going to scare you off with all the stories of his past misdeeds. So I have hope, a thin, tiny thread of hope that there is finally something out there in the world that he’s going to realize he has to wake up and live for.”

Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men series. She will also be introducing the dark and sexy world of The Point in a new series this summer starting with Better When He’s Bad. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she'll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her three dogs.

Learn more about Jay --> Website ** Blog ** Facebook ** Twitter ASA Goodreads ** Jay Crownover Goodreads

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