Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Keeper: Awakening...

Title:  The Keeper:  Awakening
Author:  O. L. Ramos
Genre:  Paranormal Romance
Blitz Host:  Lady Amber's Tours  

 Elizabeth is a brilliant loner with a troubling secret she doesn't even know.  As if the trauma of her mother being abducted before her eyes as a young girl wasn't enough, the small town she lives in thinks she's crazy. That all changed when she met Michael, a mysterious and handsome man who identified with her like no one else before.  Michael's long time friend Vincent visits and drops the bombshell of a lifetime on Elizabeth and her world becomes completely unraveled.

Vincent's information has revealed the world for what it is; a place where the impossible is real, and myths and legends walk slyly in shadow.  A world that Elizabeth will learn she too is a member.  Now, the three are caught up in a thousand year long conspiracy they never could have imagined.  The three must rely on one another and the secret connection they all share if they have a chance to survive.

Chapter 5
     As the hours pass by, I consider more and more that conversation with Michael. It’s all so much to take in. I can’t help but feel more than a little foolish as I recap to myself everything I said to him. He must see me as a complete loony; he can’t possibly be seriously considering what I said to be true.
     Yet he stayed there the entire time. His eyes were focused and without judgment. He made me believe he wasn’t lying. That I could trust him, and I do. The entire issue was still completely out-of-this-world crazy, though.
     I go to bed that night with all of these thoughts swirling around in my mind. Chalk up another sleepless night. This is getting old…
     When I make it to Jack’s place, he can tell right away how ragged I am. I’m sure my hair is a mess and I can feel my eyes almost desperate to jump out from my head. I’m exhausted. But there is nothing I can do. I made a promise to my friend to take her shift, and if I hadn’t come in, Jack would be in big trouble.
     After I bat away Jack and Roy’s initial protests, the day continues normally. It drags on, and the minutes seem like hours.
     Before I even notice, it’s close to quitting time. Michael’s text messages help the day go by faster and even though I’m ecstatic to see him tonight, I don’t think I’m up to it. The door to the restaurant swings open and my heart jumps immediately. I’m hoping it’s Michael so he can just sit at the bar with the boys and keep me company until we are really done for the entire day.
     But instead of a surprise early visit from Michael, it’s just another customer. Except I’ve never seen him before in my life. And honestly, I don’t know if it’s the exhaustion or the last-minute patron, but this guy has me feeling irked.
     Until I see his face, that is.
     He stares at me with a smirk on his face. He has this arrogant look about him, the kind of look that would make me almost immediately hate him. But his face is perfect. He’s almost the complete opposite of Michael. Whereas Michael has green eyes this man’s are sea blue, and they glisten like sapphires. Once again I find myself wondering if a person’s eyes could possibly really be that color. They are just so blue. The angles of his face, his cheeks, his complexion, he is…beautiful. Instead of Michael’s big, athletic build, this man is  lithe, but his muscles are also very clearly defined. His hair is light, not like a dyed blonde, but his hair almost looks as if it is spun of gold.
     “Hey sweetheart,” he whispers softly near me. I’m so lost in my own thoughts I must not have noticed him walking towards me. “You are the one to see about a table, right? Or am I being too presumptuous?”
     He smiles at me confidently, seductively. His smile is also perfect. This guy has to be a model or something. If he isn’t, he really should be.
     “This way,” I reply as I walk him to a table. I extend my arm and motion for him to sit, but he just stands there, looking at me. Almost as if he’s judging me.
     “I think we have a mutual friend, Elizabeth,” he whispers again as if we are exchanging pillow talk.
     “And who might that be?”
     Truth be told, this guy is incredibly attractive. But I’ve seen his kind a million times before, all over campus. Spoiled rich kid who‘s been given everything he ever wanted in his life. Exhibit A is his perfect smile. It screams of braces and whitening treatments.
     Besides, I am technically seeing Michael. Technically. And I am way too inexperienced in romance to even be thinking of flirting with a guy like this.
     “I know where this is headed, hotshot,” I respond assertively. “You’re a great looking guy, and I’m sure you have all the women fawning over you. But I’m just not that type of girl. I never was and I doubt I ever will be. Besides, I like my men to be manly and honorable. I bet you’re just your typical player who stepped out of a fashion catalog. So if you don’t mind, here is your menu, if you need anything, I’ll be waiting right over there.”
     “Ouch, crash and burn,” he says, feigning a wounded heart. “Always treat your customers that way? How could you earn a living like that? I’m guessing you’re a student, right? Working here to make ends meet? The public can’t possibly tip you well with that attitude. I like that attitude, though. It’s like a tiger, caged all her life. All she needs is someone to release the lock.”
     “Very smooth turnaround,” I remark sharply. I wasn’t lying, either, but I try to make it sound as snarky as I can as I turn to walk away. I give him my back in hopes of hiding my smile. Something about his confidence is really attractive. “Just let me know when you get your mind settled on something to eat.”
     “You should really take my advice, you know,” he continues, unfazed. “I know what I’m talking about. The customer is always right and all that. It’ll affect your tips. But then again, I’m sure you aren’t really concerned about tips right now, are you? Good ol’ Michael is tipping you as much as you need, isn’t he?”
     I feel both indignation and fear. Who is this creepy model guy who knows about Michael?
     “Is that the mutual friend you spoke of earlier?” I ask, still turned around to avoid his expression.
     “Yep, sure is,” he answers proudly. I imagine a large grin on his face. “You’re really quick to judge people. That’s a very savage quality, especially in a young lady like you. You don’t want the folks around here to think of you as unladylike, would you? But then again, they really don’t have you figured out…do they? I wonder why that is.”
     I turn slowly towards him and prepare myself for the worst. Did Michael tell this guy everything about us? Is this his employee, or a friend? Or maybe even worse, some sort of relative?
     He smiles at me again and extends his hand to me.
     “Please, sit down here,” he says as I notice his eyes staring deeply into mine. “It’s a really comfortable booth. Take a seat next to me, I insist. You could learn a thing or two.”
     As if the sea truly was in his eyes, those two deep blue orbs are sucking me in. I feel a need to sit down next to him as he asks. But I’m not  that type of girl. And I’m definitely not falling for his playboy crap. I want to know everything he knows about Michael.
     So I’ll bite and listen to him rant. For now.
     I walk closer to the booth and sit across from him. Ironically, we’re in the same exact booth I sat Michael down in when we first met. I notice the man’s face smirk once more as he chuckles to himself.
     “I see,” he says softly, as if he is the only person in the room who gets the joke. “Well then, so your Michael’s new friend eh? It’s the talk on the internet and newspapers worldwide.”
     I eye him suspiciously as I arrange the salt and pepper shakers on the table. He’s starting to make me more than a bit nervous. Is Michael really the kind of guy that would brag about us to his friends? We haven’t even done anything yet! If he is that type, I swear…I could just punch him in the face.
     But I do suppose it’s my fault as well. I’m the one that’s rushing into everything. And I also might have made Michael out to be better than he is. He’s the first guy I ever dated as an adult. after all. Who am I kidding? He’s the first guy I’ve ever dated.
     “Don’t pout, now,” the man says as he reaches for my face. “I’m only joking. I’m sorry; I have a dark sense of humor. I hope it can grow on you?”
     “That’s not something you joke about. I have never been accused of being that kind of girl. I don’t intend to start that reputation now either.”
     “What kind of girl are you referring to exactly?” he asks with another confident smile. “A girl who has fun? As opposed to the nun you currently are?” He places his right elbow on the table and plants his face in his hand, examining me closely. Just who does this guy think he is?
     “So, let me get this straight,” I say as I motion to Roy to get me a drink. If I’m going to be yelling at this jerk, my vocal cords definitely needed the fluids. “Not only do you come in here and insinuate I’m some type of floozy, but now you’re also going to pretend like you know me? All of the sudden and out of the blue?”
     “Hey now, I can see you’re getting upset,” he states as he straightens and offers his hands up in peace. “I never meant anything like that. But I do have a way of knowing people. For example, I can tell you’re a very intelligent girl. You want to be taken seriously. And although you could get by in the world easily with your looks, you want to get by with your brains. You’re also a goody two shoes. Were you a girl scout?”
     “What?!” I almost yell at the top of my lungs. “I was never a scout, I didn’t have the time. It wasn’t really my thing either. You obviously aren’t as good at reading people as you thought you were.”
     “Everything alright here, Lizzy?” Roy asks as he places my soda on the table in front of me.
     I nod at him and take a deep sip of my glass. Roy walks away with clear confusion on his face. I stare at this guy sitting across from me. Oh, if my eyes could burn a hole in him…
     “See that?” he says as he tilts his head to the side without a care in the world. “That glance right there. Only a caged tiger could produce such a powerful stare. If I’m wrong, please, feel free to tell me how wrong I am.”
     I continue drinking from my glass and staring at him. I don’t know what to say. I’m still wishing for that ability to burn holes in him with my eyes.
     “So I’m right, I take it? What a surprise,” he says in a mocking tone before extending his arm. “I’m not only right, you know. I’m also Vincent. And it’s a pleasure to meet you.”
     I breathe deeply as I remove the glass from my mouth and extend my hand also to shake his. At least now I have a name, and that’s enough to interrogate Michael with.
     “So Vincent, did you come over here tonight to eat, drink, or just torture me?”
     “Oh but I was hoping I could do a little of everything,” he says with a boyish laugh. “I suppose I’d take the torture option if I only have my choice of one. But really, I just came to see what had Michael so enraptured and out of focus. I can clearly see why he hasn’t been able to…concentrate lately.”
     “Excuse me?”
     “It’s just that I knew you’d be lovely, and knowing Michael the way I do, I figured you were more than just another pretty face,” he continues on as if having a monologue in front of a sold out audience. “Michael’s a brooder. When something took him out of that loop, I figured it had to be someone extraordinary. I never counted on it to be so very exquisite, however.”
     “So, are you a family member or do you work with Michael…?” My unease is growing and I fear that Vincent will realize it immediately if given a free moment. “Has he talked about me to you much? And I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, Vincent, but you do have a lousy way of introducing yourself to people.”
     Another soft laugh. This time he doesn’t even allow his mouth to open as he stifles the noise. He looks down briefly before turning right back to me with yet another smile.
     “Michael and I met through work,” he explains as if the topic itself is dull. “Now, I merely consider him a very old friend, more likely my little brother. Frankly, I’m hurt he never told you about me. I guess I’ll have to cross him off my Christmas list this year.”
     Vincent was right, now that I think about it. And as I allow myself to return to my first impression of Vincent, I realize that I was spot on with my initial instinct. This is a man that is completely different, almost a polar opposite of Michael. Michael is tough and rugged; Vincent seems more like an aristocrat. Michael is extremely tall with wide shoulders and large arms and legs. Vincent is noticeably in shape, his muscles easily visible in any light I’d imagine, but he is still very slender and statuesque.
     But their biggest difference perhaps is what Vincent himself pointed out. Michael does seem to be the quieter of the two. He is introverted and pensive. Vincent seems to be at home in social situations and wears his thoughts on his sleeve. He has a dark sense of humor and seems like the guy who is always sarcastic and cracking jokes. Most of all, Vincent seems to enjoy making me squirm. How could these two be friends?
     “To ease your mind, no, Michael never told me about you,” Vincent announces. “Michael doesn’t really talk to me about women or his relationships. I don’t think Michael talks to anyone about his personal life, really. I just saw that he was a little off key lately, for him, anyway.”
     “What do you mean, off key?” I ask with worry ringing clearly in my voice.
     “He’s happy,” Vincent says, almost as if the idea of Michael being happy distresses him. “I can see why now. I guess I just didn’t expect the object of his newfound bliss to be such a…keeper.”
     Yet again, Vincent laughs to himself. I officially have had enough. I was done playing his game.
     “Listen here Vinny,” I say as I look at him dead in the eyes. “I bet you make all the women fall all over you with your subtle wit and banter. I’m sure that icy, mysterious stare works on all the girls, but it doesn’t do a thing for me. And this whole act of laughing to yourself as if you’re the only one who knows what’s going on behind the scenes and everyone else is in the dark; it’s getting really old. So how about you stop laughing to yourself like a jerk and let the world in on the joke? If Michael is in trouble or if he’s going through something, I want to help him. I feel he would do the same for me. So fess up, order something to eat, or leave. Because right now, you’re really getting on my nerves. And I’m nowhere near nice when I’m angry.”
     Vincent curls his lips up in a toothless smile and tilts his head to the other side.
     “Vinny, huh? Like I said, you’re a tiger,” he says as he licks his lips. “I have quite the temper on me as well, you should know. I guess that makes us both tigers. It just recently dawned on me, just now, that is. He hasn’t told you, has he?”
     “Told me what? Michael isn’t the type to keep secrets. He’s been nothing but honest with me. You, on the other hand, are playing some sick, twisted game that only you’re enjoying.”
     “Michael is a stickler for the truth,” Vincent says with a couple clicks of his tongue and a nod of his head. “I’m amazed he’d keep such a secret from you. But then again, he’s probably trying to protect you. You are indeed worth protecting. I’m not so sure he really is by keeping the truth from you. And in keeping the truth from you, some might say that in itself is lying. How do you feel on the issue, Elizabeth? If I withhold some important information from you, is that lying?”
     My mind races at all the possibilities Vincent could possibly be getting at. I really don’t know this man; I should just brush off whatever he says to me. But for some reason, I know he’s telling me the truth. But I also suspect it’s a distorted truth.
     “Is he married or engaged?” I ask with a shake of my head. Confusion and panic are starting to settle in. That would definitely explain his absence earlier and why sometimes it was near impossible to get in contact with him.
     But Vincent just laughs, harder than before.. His face is flooded with amusement.
     “No, it’s nothing like that,” he answers softly, calmly. This time, there is a tenderness to his tone. “Michael is a good guy, a goody two shoes, like you. He wouldn’t do something like that.”
     I exhale a sigh of deep relief. What else could be so bad to make such a big spectacle of it? It’s like Vincent was intentionally trying to make it ominous, just to grab my attention firmer. He reaches across the table and takes my drink, pulling it towards him without a second thought, and takes a sip.
     “Excuse me?!” I exclaim in frustration. “How could you just grab my drink like that?”
     “I was thirsty, you haven’t taken my drink order,” Vincent says as he looks up from the glass. “You really are a very poor waitress.”
     This guy has a real way of getting under my skin. Worst thing about it is that he wasn’t really upsetting me. The only time I was truly frustrated was when I thought Michael might have been in trouble or seeing someone else. Now I’m just surprised at the depths of Vincent’s confidence. I wonder if he has any limits in trying to push my buttons. It’s as if all of this is a game to him. I’m not about to give him the satisfaction.
     “What did he tell you he does for a living?” Vincent asks nonchalantly, still attending my drink.
     “He told me he inherited his family’s wealth,” I reply, a little unbalanced by the question. “But he said he also has a family business that’s involved with protection of the environment. I assumed it was mostly pro bono work.”
     Vincent smiles to himself as he wipes the excess liquid from his lips with a napkin.
     “I suppose all that is truthful, if a little…skewed,” he answers. “Did he tell you why he was here? I hear he’s going to school. Always very meticulous, that one. I’m just surprised he’s stayed in the area for so long. It’s not usual for him.”
     Vincent is giving me more than plenty to think about.
     “Skewed…?” I ask, trailing off. “I know his work takes him many places, but I didn’t know it was strange for him to be in one area for long. You make it seem like he’s always on the move. What do you mean, skewed?”
     “I mean it’s all really at how you look at it,” he answers without a second’s thought. “Kind of how I asked whether it’s a lie to withhold a truth. I like to ponder these types of petty, perhaps insignificant things. So, did he tell you why he was here?”
     With growing concern, I’m starting to hesitate before answering Vincent’s questions. But if I don’t answer them then that meant that Vincent succeeded in making me uncomfortable enough to avoid him. I’m not about to let that happen.
     “He’s trying to scare a Russian businessman away from here,” I say as I look Vincent dead in the eyes, trying to appear completely unafraid. “The guy wants the land to build some stores and things like that. It’ll destroy this tiny town. The small businesses will go bankrupt almost immediately, and all the animals in the forest will have to find another place to go. We’ll end up with rabbits and wolves and who knows what else in our front yards.”
     Again, a smile from Vincent.
     “I suppose that’s true also,” he says as he scratches his right eye. “Although one might consider that to be skewed as well. A Russian businessman can’t be the only reason he’s staying here.”
     “You’re his friend,” I answer immediately in protest. “Shouldn’t you know if there’s more? Maybe he’s staying here because he likes my company. Does that make you jealous? Am I taking away your best friend, and you just can’t handle it?”
     In my meager attempt to act and sound tough, I only succeed in making Vincent laugh louder than ever. All of the customers left in the restaurant are now completely focused on Vincent and me. This is beyond embarrassing. After what seems like an eternity, Vincent stops laughing and everyone goes back to their meals and drinks. My face is undeniably red, I can feel it.
     “You couldn’t be farther away from the truth, my dear Elizabeth,” he assures me smugly as he sits up again properly. “If Michael wants to ignore me for the rest of all eternity, he could. I wouldn’t say I won’t miss my playful jabs at his oh-so-serious demeanor, but there has to be more than just you keeping him here. Or perhaps I should say, you weren’t the original reason why he came here.”
     “Of course not,” I report incredulously. “He came here for his work. He didn’t know I existed until he just happened to come in to get a bite to eat here.”
     “Somehow, I really doubt he didn’t know you existed,” Vincent asserts confidently. “What I really do doubt is what that old dog is still doing here. I came looking for something. It was only after coming here that I knew Michael was here. But you…you might be the reason he came here to begin with.”
     “Vincenzo” I hear Michael’s voice call out calmly. I didn’t notice him appear next to us. Even though Michael speaks low, his voice still booms, almost menacingly, to Vincent. “That’s enough.”
     Vincent smiles and winks at me before standing up to face Michael. Michael towers over Vincent, who, in his own right, was pretty tall himself.
     “Playing games as usual?” Michael asks, his tone and expression deadly serious. What kind of relationship did these two “friends” have?
     “Ah, I see it now,” Vincent answers suavely as he measures Michael’s body language. Vincent isn’t backing down. It was clear he wasn’t intimidated at all by Michael’s presence. “You did come for the keeper. That’s extremely interesting. I assume you know why I came?”
     “To ruin my life, as per usual?” Michael answers with a hint of hostility.
     “I came for the ring,” Vincent answers calmly. “I’m sure you know why I would do such a dumb thing?”
     “That’s unimportant right now,” Michael says as he diverts his attention to me. “I’m sorry if he bothered you. It’s his way. He gets a kick out of playing with people’s minds. Are you okay?”
     Amidst this confusion, I don’t know if I am okay. What in the world are these two talking about? And for old friends, they really do act oddly with one another. I shake my head nervously in hopes that the attention can focus away from me. I want and need an explanation, but Michael can enlighten me later. I have the feeling this should be discussed in private.
     “What did you tell her, Vincenzo?” Michael asks, as if he was an interrogator.
     “Elizabeth?” Vincent asks coyly as he turns to me once more. “We were just talking. We were getting to know one another. I found out about your…philanthropic work here and your concerns with a Russian businessman. I must say, your work with nature sure has you working a very…unorthodox angle this time.”
     “It’s not an angle,” Michael defends his stance as he aggressively grabs Vincent by his shirt. Vincent does nothing to engage or even resist Michael’s grasp. “You know the truth. You also know the danger of finding the ring by yourself. You should have told me, sought me out. Even you shouldn’t take on a circle of this size by yourself. And why did you involve her in all this? She has nothing to do with it.”
     “Oh, but Michael,” Vincent says as he turns to face me with a large, comfortable smile even while still gripped by Michaels large and overpowering hands. He stares at me, right in the eyes again. “I think she has everything to do with this, and I bet you knew all about it.”

O.L. Ramos was born in Miami, Florida to Cuban immigrant parents.  From a very young age he found himself drawn to books and telling stories to anyone who would hear it.  His job titles have been so diverse, from being a sales manager to a retail giant to even being a deputy sheriff, but his love of the written word never left.  After a work related injury as a deputy sheriff forced him to tone down his workload, he was able to use that as an excuse to finally dedicate his sole focus to writing.

All Wrapped Up...

Title:  All Wrapped Up
Author:  Braxton Cole 

All Wrapped Up is Book Two in The List Series.

Mari and Luca continue to work through their list of sexual fantasies in All Wrapped Up, Book Two in The List Series.  They've abandoned their original plan of no strings attached and, for the most part, Mari's learning to be okay with it.  She definitely likes Luca's strings (and whatever else he might use to restrain her), but she's not sure she's ready to take the next step in their relationship.  Luca, sweet, strong, commanding Luca, insists that it's time to move in together.  Mari insists it's time to relax and enjoy what they share without complicating things.

With every moment they spend together, Luca shows Mari how good they could be together.  Will Mari run away from her emotions, or does Luca have her all wrapped up?

All Wrapped Up is a novella length erotic romance and contains mature adult themes, including graphic and explicit sex.

Up for some company this weekend?  Rachel wants to join us.

I showed the screen to Rachel before I hit send.  She swallowed and nodded, her movements tight, but certain.  I sent the message.

"Jesus."  Rachel drank more wine.

"You know, you don't have to do this."  I'd been teasing her when I brought it up, but the idea of seeing Luce with Rachel stirred excitement low in my belly.  This would be a lot of fun.  Providing Rachel didn't faint from the idea of it.

"I know."

Luca responded.

Join us for dinner?  Or...

I smiled.  Even though we'd talked about including other people, we'd both been reluctant to follow through.  After the night he brought Richard to meet me, Luca hadn't wanted to push the issue.  And I had simply been  enjoying him.

We could have dinner first.  Then I'd like you to fuck her while I watch.

I hit send and imagined Luca going instantly hard when he read my message.  He was incredibly responsive to suggestion.

Rachel watched, but didn't ask what he said.  Luca replied immediately.

The new toys can wait.  I'll book a room.

Braxton Cole lives in the Pacific Northwest where she spends most of her time holed up in her office writing stories.  When she's not writing, she can be found riding her bike, hiking the fabulous local trails, chasing her kids, or wishing that her thumb was a little more green.  She has a bad habit of killing what she tries to grow, but hasn't given up hopes of one day being a successful urban farmer.

Braxton writes erotic romance because romance is the stuff that makes life great, and sex is fun.  The two belong together, both in life and in fiction.

Today Only

Download Birthday Wishes from Smashwords using the coupon code below.  In return we would love it for you to leave a review on Amazon because we all know how important it is to leave a review for our indie authors.  Thank you and enjoy Birthday Wishes!

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An Untimely Romance...

Title:  An Untimely Romance
Author:  J & L Wells
Genre:  New Adult, Time Travel Romance
Blitz Host:  Lady Amber's Tours

Heather Richardson is a seventeen-year-old British girl whose life quickly becomes an emotional roller coaster when she meets Ruben Brown, a controlling twenty-four-year-old man who works for her father at Freesdon Manor.  As much as Heather wants to love Ruben, the cracks in their relationship begin to show as her eighteenth birthday draws nigh.

In a surprising turn of events Heather is confronted by Frank, an intriguing man from a past that dates back to the nineteenth century.  His untimely presence changes everything.

When she's thrown back in time by an unrelenting force, Heather realizes that her life is not what it appears to be.  Her future has already been written, and it seems she cannot escape her fate, a fate determined by a love lost long ago.  In her struggle to find herself, Heather must chose her destiny amidst a dangerous love triangle, vengeful lovers, and passions controlled by the hands of time.
Chapter One Ye Olde England

"Oh, Mr. Boswel," Anna sighed awkwardly, biting her bottom lip as he gazed seductively into her eyes.  She placed her small-gloved hand into his and he smiled, but no words passed between them.  The heady concerto played by the musicians faded into insignificance, the guests and all their formalities forgotten in the moment.  He led her into an open hallway towards the larger of two grand staircases.  She could hardly breathe.  His dark-brown eyes were hypnotic and with every gaze they burned into hers.  His jet-black hair fell in soft waves around his shoulders, while small curls drifted onto his forehead, which he had a habit of flicking back to reveal his face.  And oh, what a face, with his chiselled jawline, high cheekbones and overly full lips, perfect traits complemented by a rich olive skin tone and pretty, near perfect complexion.

Anna had waited so long for this moment.  She felt her legs trembling beneath her, hoping upon hope that they wouldn't give way.  Upon reaching the first floor, guilt descended upon her.  She knew what she was about to embark on was wrong and that she'd be judged, but on second glance down the stairs, across the hall and through the arched doorway, she saw that those in attendance at the masquerade ball danced on and drank merrily, oblivious to their departure.

She wasn't allowed to linger for long, as Mr. Boswel's firm grip pulled her slightly off balance and she stumbled wearily.  Aware that the hour was late, her gaze wandered briefly before coming to rest on the ornate grandfather clock in its regal attire, situated equidistantly between the two staircases, both hands sitting comfortably on the number one.

Mr. Boswel's eyes held a warm reassurance as he led her across the landing towards a large oak door.  "After you, madam," he gestured, opening the door.

"Thank y'sir," she uttered nervously.

Why me?  Anna thought to herself as her conscience juggled with reality, still questioning why he had given her the time of day.  With his good looks and his status, he really could have anybody he desired.  On close inspection, Anna knew she was anything but beautiful; even as a child, her mother referred to her as plain.  It wasn't that she has a bad face, just not an overly pretty one; her eyes perhaps too small, their colour quite insignificant - somewhere between light blue and grey - and strawberry-blonde hair scraped back rather  severely in a bun.  There wasn't anything dynamic about her features either; even her nose had a slight tilt to the left - a flaw nobody else would have picked up on.

Then the door closed behind them and they were alone at last, away from unwanted roving eyes.  It was a moment she'd longed for, for what seemed like an eternity.

She found herself in a large bedchamber, a four-poster bed made from a deep rich wood taking centre stage, its precise carvings inlaid with gold leaf in large spirals.  Warm red silk drapes, not quite scarlet, perhaps a shade or two deeper complemented the bed.  The room exuded wealth, with its deep-mahogany furnishings, high walls and numerous gilt edged portraits.

Anna felt lost in her new surroundings.

"Well, Anna..."

She jumped, and her eyes were drawn once again towards the handsome Mr. Boswel, who had already removed his shoes and was now reclined on the bed, propped up by two thick cotton bolsters.  His long taupe waistcoat was draped untidily over a padded-back chair, and she watched tentatively as he started unbuttoning his linen shirt to reveal a toned physique.

"Join me," he murmured, his voice soft and inviting.

Her heart was beating so heavily in her chest as she made her way over to the bed that she was sure he'd be able to hear.  She was even tempted to hold her breath.  He leaned his body forward towards hers as she sat nervously on the edge of the bed.  She knew he was going to take her, and although she felt way out of her depth, she wanted him so badly.  He smelt so fine, his broad chest brushing against her arm; she could feel the soft hairs between his nipples, and then their hardness.

She was burning inside as he ran his fingers longingly over her body.  She felt his breath, then his lips, tenderly at first as they began caressing the nape of her neck, and then with an urgency, a hunger, the tenderness turned to lust.  Their lips met for the first time and he pulled her body roughly onto his, quickly loosening the bodice of her gown and starting to untie the lacings of her corset...


"Anna," he whispered, a husky lilt to his voice.

"Mr. Boswel..." were the only words to leave her lips as they lay lost in the moment, wrapped in each other's arms.

"Stay here with me tonight."

"Sir, I'll be tellin' 'y, I'm betrothed to another,"  Anna replied, shedding tears of guilt while darting around the room, recovering her garments.

Mr. Boswel sighed, "An unfortunate predicament in which you find yourself, my dear," he said, lifting himself slightly and leaning the weight of his body on his elbows, looking at her earnestly while she dressed.

"Mr. Bowel, yer reputation precedes ye."

"Perhaps, Anna, but they are just empty conquests."

"All but one, sir."  Anna paused, awaiting his response, but the words she longed for were not forthcoming.

"This I cannot deny, but I would be grateful if you were not to mention her name.  She is now but a ghost from my past."

"I must take yer leave, sir.  I'll be missed."  Fear grew in her voice.  "Mr. Boswel, I ain't gonna live a life with ye as my guilty secret."

"Well, Anna, that's all I have to offer you.  At this present time you must be partient...I..."

Anna interrupted him before he could continue.  "Please, sir, I beg of ye, say no more.  I think it best I bid ye farewell."

With that, she walked out of the room and out of his life, sure that he was watching until she closed the door.


About J & L Wells:  J & L Wells is a UK based mother daughter team, consisting of Laura and her mother Judith.  Together, they write compelling fiction and are currently working on book 2 of the Untimely Romance series.

Kitchen Scandal by Brooke Cumberland Release Day...

Title:  Kitchen Scandal
Author:  Brooke Cumberland
Release Date:  July 1, 2013

She finally found the one...but he has a hidden secret.  Could this be the breaking point for Molly?  Has she endeared too much?

Drake and Molly had instant chemistry in Kitchen Affairs, but when his secret  goes all wrong, their relationship will be tested, feelings get hurt, and limits will be reached.

Someone tries interfering with their relationship keeping them distant; longing for answers in all the wrong places.

Can they recover their once intense, sensual chemisty?  Will love be enough?  Secrets, betrayals, and scandals...

Chicago's hottest couple, Molly and Drake, go through big changes, hidden secrets, and tragedies.

Brooke is a midwestern gal, from the cheese state of Wisconsin!  Go Packers!  She's a stay-at-home mom of three beautiful children (one daughter and two stepsons) and a black fury dog.  She's studied psychology in college, and counseling and education in graduate school where she found her love for writing.  Most days you can find her reading or writing, or just hanging out with her family!  She loves movies, cooking and shopping!  She's addicted to Starbucks, Coach purses, and wearing yoga pants.

Conflict Cover Reveal...

*** Content Warning - This is a new adult fiction with mature themes.  It contains graphic sexual situations, mature language and explicit description of sexual violence.***

Conflict is the second book in the Control series.  This description contains spoilers for those who have not read book one in the series, entitled Control.

Private Investigator, Paige Stone has always appreciated the independence of her life, however, her world was pitched upside down when she and her roommates were attacked and nearly killed.  As a result of the attack by Chris, Paige now finds herself dependent upon Daemon Pierce for a place to live as she hides from Chris.  Paige has never lived with a man before and demands that Daemon consider her a "roommate" only, even though it goes against her own desires.

Strong-willed and arrogant, Daemon Pierce has been working hard to protect Paige from Chris and from herself.  Letting go of his life as a womanizer, Daemon tries to prove to Paige that she can trust him, even though he refuses to enlighten her as to his past.  Daemon struggles to comply with Paige's ridiculous demand to be "roommates" and quickly finds that he has fallen in love with the girl who does nothing but push him away.

Paige's emotional journey once again places her in dangerous situations and when secrets are revealed and decisions are made, Paige has no choice but to look deep within herself to see if she can finally trust the man who will stop at nothing to save her.


Daemon laid down beside me and we watched the clouds together.  I'd started to fall asleep from the warmth of the sun when Daemon turned on his side and leaned over me.  The sudden shadow caused me to open my eyes and his piercing blue eyes burned into mine as he stared down at me.  My body displayed it's usual reaction to him and he laughed while running his hands down the goose bumps.  Embarrassed by his amusement, I pointed my finger up at him and said, "We have a truce today, Mister.  No bump rubbing for you."

His smile brightened at my unintentional innuendo and those delicious indentations appeared on his cheeks.  His smile faded quickly as he continued watching me and his eyes heated.  I was motionless and breathless from his proximity and his expression was about to be my undoing.  Daemon smirked and said, "Fuck the truce," right before bringing his lips down to mine.  His kiss was gentle and full of unspoken emotion.  Our mouths moved slowly against each other and I felt drunk from the warmth building between us.  This kiss wasn't created from fire or passion, but from something else entirely.  It was the kind of kiss lovers gave each other when they are reunited after a long time apart; a kiss meant to sooth, to comfort, to convey thoughts and feelings without the use of words.  It was the kind of kiss where we were breathing for each other and devouring each other; one where there was nobody else in this world.  I was lost to him within seconds and only when it was necessary that we come up for air, did it end.  Daemon raised himself up from me just enough that the sun caught his hair, causing it to glow around his face.  I gasped as memories of my first kiss flashed through my head and I had to shake away the image of Buddy above me to replace it with that of Daemon.

A lopsided grin came over Daemon's face.  "You okay?  You look a little dazed."

M. S. Willis is a romance novelist whose debut novel, Control, was released in 2013.  Although currently writing in the romance genre, Willis has plans to expand her literary pursuits into multiple genres and has no fear conquering difficult subject matters in her writing.  Willis is a native Floridian who is also a photographer and musician.  When not absorbing herself in written, visual, or musical expression, Willis is an adrenaline junkie, a 'closet' video game enthusiast, and an avid outdoors person and nature lover.

Jason L Lee is a Florida Native.  The arts have always been a big part of his life.  Science, nature, and spirituality have been inspirations to him.  He started displaying his work in 1993.  In 1996 he started to venture from drawing and photography into acrylic painting.  This led to painting live with local bands starting in 1998.  His paintings are now created mainly at home.  He uses a combination of impressionistic and illustrative painting techniques to create fantastical imagery.  He is currently a Scenic Artist working for The Nassal Company and Co-Founder of the Arts Hub Organization.

Goodreads Book Page

The Love Game and Playing For Keeps by Emma Hart Review Tour...


From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Emma Hart, comes the second book in The Game series, and the story everybody wanted after The Love Game...

She's in love with him. 

He's trying not to love him.

One night changes everything.

Aston Banks never meant to get close to Megan Harper - not even for that one night.  Haunted by a childhood he refuses to face, he knew she could break through every wall he'd ever built and tear them down without even realizing she was doing it.

Betraying Braden by starting a relationship with Aston wasn't on Megan's to-do list, but the second she sees a glimpse of someone other than the arrogant ass she's come to know, she can't walk away.

Aston's childhood is worse than Megan ever guessed, but as he tries and fails to push her away, it's clear her love is stronger than the demons that cling to him every day.  And now, because of it, he finally has to deal with what he's buried deep down.

What he doesn't want to face.  What he's fought against for so long

And they have to do it all without Braden finding out.

Keeping a relationship secret has never been harder.

**This book can be read as a standalone novel, but reading The Love Game (The Game, #1) beforehand is advised.**


His challenge?  Make her fall in love with him. 

Her challenge?  Play the player

Until life changes the rules of the game.

Maddie Stevens hated Braden Carter on sight.  Arrogant, egotistical, and the playboy of the University of California, Berkeley, he's everything her brother Pearce has taught her to despise.  So why, when the girls challenge her to play the player, doesn't she say no?  She doesn't know either.

Braden wanted fiery little Maddie the second he laid eyes on her - and he'd do anything to have her, hence why he's agreed to make her fall in love with him.  After all, it's the only way he'll get what he wants.  Sex.

But, as Braden discovers, there's more to the girl from Brooklyn than he ever imagined - and he can't help but care about the broken girl behind those pretty green eyes.

Maddie finds Braden isn't just a walking erection - he actually has feelings.  He can be sweet, funny and his good looks don't exactly hurt.  That means trouble - but when her brother Pearce turns up in Berkeley begging for her help, she realizes Braden and Pearce aren't so alike anymore.

And maybe, just maybe, they're exactly what each other needs.


"You okay?"

I shake my head.  "No.  Every time.  Every fucking time he brings her up.  I thought he wouldn't in front of you, but he did."

"He has his own pain," she says softly.  "It doesn't excuse it, but he does.  He feels guilty for what happened to you - that he couldn't stop it."

My mind reels for a second and I look down at her.  "He told you that?"

She nods, letting her hand drop from my back and standing in front of me.  I stop.

"You've never let him tell you."  She reaches up and cups my face.  "He hurts, too, Aston.  You both hurt.  It's not something that will go away, but you can't let it rule your lives.  If you let pain rule you you'll get lost in it."

"What if I'm already lost?"

"You're not lost.  You're hiding, but you're not lost.  I won't let you get lost."

I let my hands come up and rest on her back, pulling her into me.  "What if there's no map?"

"Then I'll get lost with you," she whispers.  "I won't let you let them win, Aston.  I won't let you get sucked in by those demons.  I won't let that happen.  I care too much."

And she does.  I can hear it in her voice.

She wraps her arms around my neck, and I hold her to me tighter, our foreheads resting against each other.

"I'll try, Megs," I promise.  "I can't say I won't, but as long as you're here, I think I'll be okay."

"And you'll talk to your Gramps?  Just once?"

"I'll think about it.  How about we just focus on stopping me from getting lost for a bit?"

"You just need a place to aim for, that's all.  You need a place to go to."

"Go on then."  I smile.  "Give me a place."

"Okay."  She pauses for a second, closing her eyes and chewing her lip.

"I'm waiting..." I tease her.

Her blue eyes open, shocking me with their vitality.  "Aim for the moon, because even if you miss you'll land among the stars."

"I don't need to aim for the sky.  The only star I'll ever need is standing right in front of me."  I brush my lips over hers.  "Maybe the place I need to aim for is nowhere other than where I am right now."

"Maybe I'd go with you wherever you ended up."

"Maybe I'd never ask that of you."

"Maybe you wouldn't need to ask.  Maybe you'll never need to ask me for anything, because I"ll always be here."


By day, New York Times and USA Today bestselling New Adult author Emma Hart dons a cape and calls herself Super Mum to a terrible two year old and growing bump, due September 2013.  By night, she drops the cape, pours a glass of juice and writes books.  She likes to write about magic, kisses and whatever else she can fit into the story.  Sarcastic, witty characters are a must.  As are hot guys.

Emma is currently working too many books to even count - including Playing for Keeps, the companion book to New York Times and USA Today bestselling novel, The Love Game.  She lives to be busy - unless busy involves doing the dishes, but that seems to be when all the ideas come to life.

**Beware of Spoilers...I tried to make sure not to let anything important out about book 2 but things slip sometimes.**

Book 1:  The Love Game

Between the Game the characters play and the bantering they all do with each other I loved each and every minute of this book.  There was laughing, crying, hitting the computer screen (since I couldn't hit the characters themselves) and yelling at the characters.  I loved every second of the story.  I related well to the characters and the story.  

I love a story that you can relate to the story and characters.  This book was one of those stories.  Emma Hart tumbles you into a story full of twists and turns and up and downs.  She puts the good in with the bad, as well as the happy in with the sad.  The story tugs at each and every emotion out there.  

If you are looking for a book that not only tugs at your heart but makes you laugh at the antics of the characters, this is one of the best ones I have come across...the sequel is EVEN BETTER!  Maddie and Braden are a great couple and I love how they fall for each other as they play each other.  Then you have Megan who I think is playing both of them and making it harder to not fall in love with each other.  It is a great, great book.

Book 2:  Playing For Keeps

Oh my!  Everything I said about the first book in doubly true for this book.  In the first book Megan and Aston were my favorite characters and I am SO SO glad that I got to learn so much more about them.  In life I am a lot like Megan and I think that is why I was so drawn to her character.  The best part of this book however was learning so much more about Aston.

I loved her use of classic literature in this book as well.  I felt a kinship to Megan through this usage, we actually share the same major in school and favorite classic novels.  I love how she has Aston quote Austen and I believe I read a Shakespeare verse as well.  These things played a key part in making me fall deeper into love with his character.  Megan and Gramps passion for literature made me fall in love with them as well.

In this book you don't see nearly as much about the other characters but everything you learn about Aston and Megan makes up for it.  You are also introduced to their families.  I laughed so hard through parts of this book because these two play their game SO incredibly well.  There are a lot of much more intense and deep emotions in this book and the back story is a little bit harder to read.  

While you do not have to read these books in order I recommend it as some of the events in book 1 will help you understand book 2 all the better.

Book 1:

5 out of 5 stars

Book 2:

6 out of 5 stars
I thought this book went above and beyond any other books I have read.  Wow, just wow!


Goodreads Author Page
Goodreads Playing For Keeps Page
Link to Chapter One of Playing for Keeps

Playing For Keeps Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble

The Love Game Purchase Links: