Friday, August 31, 2018

BLOG TOUR: Wooing a Woman - New Orleans Edition with Erin Nicholas


My newest book, Going Down Easy, is a hot, contemporary romance set in one of the sexiest cities in the country: New Orleans. I’ve loved New Orleans since my first visit there in 2011 and have been back multiple times. I fall more in love with the place every time I’m there. There’s just something about the city that I can’t explain but that keeps me coming back. The music, the history, the laid-back attitude, the food…there’s just so much to love. So finally, the right characters and stories came along and it was time to write a series set there. Here's a little bit about my characters and book...

Gabe Trahan: dirty-talking, charming, and a little bit sweet bar owner in the French Quarter. Has lots of friends and close to his family. Has a slow, sexy drawl, panty-melting grin. And a son, Cooper, who is five years old.

Addison Sloan: restoration architect who comes to New Orleans from New York City once a month to consult on a new project with a local firm. Confident, independent (very), smart, sassy. Loves dirty-talk in a slow Louisiana drawl. And jazz. And beignets. And pralines. And pretty much anything related to New Orleans. She’s also a single mom to five-year-old Stella.

How they meet: Addison comes into Gabe’s bar with a friend. The chemistry is immediate. And Addison’s love for New Orleans is obvious. Even the mention of beignets makes her eyes sparkle, she melts when she hears jazz, she loves the café au lait, the horse-drawn carriages—just everything. Gabe’s never been much of a romantic, but suddenly he wants to get that sexy, sweet look on her face as often as possible. (You can actually read all about this in "Easy Going", the prequel novella! Check out Goodreads to find it :)

So whenever Addison is in town they go to jazz clubs, eat all the traditional New Orleans dishes—gumbo, crawfish, pralines—and they take in everything about the city. And Addison gives him a new appreciation for his home town. Though, their favorite place is definitely the balcony on the apartment above Gabe’s bar. For lots of reasons ;) (Did I mention the prequel novella? "Easy Going". Goodreads).

Then, everything changes. Addison is moving to New Orleans to take a permanent job with the firm…and she has no time or energy or interest in a full-blown, all-the-time, same-city relationship. 

But Gabe’s not giving up.

He has every intention of using Addison’s weakness for New Orleans and the south “against” her in a huge play for her heart. So how does he do it? Read on for hero Gabe Trahan's Seven EASY(ish) Steps To Woo A Woman in New Orleans: 

Step #1

Start off with reminding her of the sweet stuff about being with you in New Orleans. Send a basket of pralines and Magnolias. Be romantic. Do not mention dirty stuff on the card. Probably. 

Step #2

Turn up the heat. Send her some beignets and an extra bag of powdered sugar to remind her of the night on your balcony where lots of other things ended up with sugar on them. Maybe mention the dirty stuff on the card now. Or again.

Step #3

Invite her on a horse-drawn carriage ride around the Quarter. Make it impossible for her to say no by sending the invite with a bottle of Pimm’s No. 1 and tell her that there’s going to be a parade at the end. She can’t resist a parade.

Step #4

Have your mutual friends suggest a night out on the town to her and then surprise her by joining them at Preservation Hall for the jazz show. Make sure you show up just before it starts. There’s no way she’ll yell at you when she can be listening to jazz. She’ll very likely let you stand really close and wrap your arms around her like you’ve done all the other times she’s heard a jazz trumpet. You can say some dirty things in her ear here. For sure.

Step #5

A few days later, send her a book about alligators. Make sure it’s something her five-year-old daughter will be interested in. A coloring book with alligator trivia would be perfect. Insert a brochure for a swamp boat tour in the book. Text her the next day and suggest you all go on the swamp boat tour together. 

Step #6

After a day in the sun on the bayou with your kids, invite her to a masquerade ball. Be sure to mention it’s at a plantation. And that she gets to wear a ball gown. And a mask, of course. And that there will be mint juleps. She’ll be putty in your hands. This is your chance to do a few dirty things.

Step #7

In the end, even if some of the other stuff has failed, use the Ace up your sleeve. Show up on her doorstep with a pot of your grandma’s gumbo and tell her that you’re madly in love with her and that if she’ll let you in, she’ll be able to have that gumbo regularly for the rest of her life. No one can say no to grandma’s gumbo.

***
Hot fling or real thing? There are no Big Easy answers in New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Erin Nicholas’s sultry series.
As far as flings go, single dad Gabe Trahan is pretty sure that Addison Sloan is his best bet. Once a month, Addison comes to New Orleans and then…It. Is. On. Until Addison returns to New York, it’s just hot, happily-no-strings-attached sex. And beignets. And jazz. But lately for Gabe, it isn’t nearly enough.
Sure, maybe Addison’s gotten a bit hooked on Gabe. After all, who can resist a guy who’s so sexy, so charming, and so…available? But maybe he’s too available for her right now. Addison’s just moved to New Orleans, and relationships are definitely off the table. Besides, guys always bail when they learn her secret: she’s a single mom.
Only Gabe’s not running. Worse, he’s thrilled. But Addison never signed up for ever-after romance, and Gabe won’t settle for anything less. Now it’s a battle of wills—and when it comes to the woman he’s falling for, Gabe isn’t above playing a little dirty.
Going Down Easy
Boys of the Big Easy #1
Erin Nicholas
Pub Date: 8/28/18
Montlake Romance
Amazon | B&N | Audiobook


Going Down Easy Excerpt

Gabe had sent her flowers.

Addison stood staring at the gigantic bouquet of white flowers sitting on the desk she was using for the day.

“These are magnolias, right?” she asked Elena.

“They are. The state flower of Louisiana.” Elena stroked the petal of one of the gorgeous flowers. “Someone knows your weakness for all things New Orleans.”

He definitely did. Addison hadn’t even needed to read the card to know who the flowers were from. Gabe knew she was a sucker for anything that was traditionally associated with the city. Beignets, bourbon, masks, beads, gas lanterns, and balconies with looping wrought iron railings. For six months he’d been taking her out on the Sunday she was in town and letting her soak up the city. And now she’d gone from associating those things with New Orleans and the unique spirit of the city to associating them with him.

But why was he sending her flowers? That was new. So far, their routine was she showed up at the bar on Saturday night, they spent the weekend together, she left on Monday morning, and then thirty days later, they repeated it all over again. There was no contact in between times. No texts or calls—they didn’t have each other’s number. No letters or gifts—he didn’t have her address. And definitely no flowers.

“See you soon, Gabe,” Elena read from the card. She lifted her eyes, meeting Addison’s. “Gabe? Who’s Gabe?” Then her eyes widened. “Wait. These aren’t from Gabe Trahan, are they?”

Oh, crap. Addison took a deep breath, thought briefly about lying, and then realized there was no real reason to not tell her friend the truth. “Yes.”

Elena’s eyes widened, almost as if she hadn’t expected that answer. “Really? You’ve seen him since that first night?”

Addison rounded the desk and set the folder she was carrying on top of the nearest stack, straightening the pile of already straight files. “Yes,” she said simply. The fewer details she offered, the better, probably.

“When?” Elena asked. “I had no idea you’d seen him again.”

And then it hit Addison . . . Elena wasn’t just her friend anymore. She was Addison’s boss. Was this going to reflect badly on her? Was a just-when-she-was-in-town affair something Elena would frown upon?

“I didn’t think it was important to mention. We just . . . went out a couple of times.” They had. They’d gone out to Preservation Hall for jazz. They’d gone to Café du Monde for coffee and beignets. They’d gone to the French Market. They’d gone to Gabe’s bedroom. And his shower. And his kitchen table. And his balcony . . .

“You’re dating Gabe Trahan?” Elena asked, planting her hands on her hips.

“No,” Addison said quickly. “Not dating. We’ve had . . . drinks when I’ve been in town.” And many, many orgasms. And laughs. And fun.

“Which time?” Elena asked.

“Which time what?”

“Which time that you were in town did you have drinks?”

Addison sighed. “Each time.”

“You’ve seen him every time you’ve been in town since you met him?” Elena asked, clearly shocked.

“Yes. But,” Addison added before Elena could go on, “it’s nothing serious. It’s been . . . a fling. Just a little fun. No big deal. And”—she took a deep breath—“this weekend was the last time. Now that I’ve moved here, I won’t be seeing him anymore.”

Saying it out loud made her heart clench even harder than it had when she’d driven away from him that morning.

***

More from the series:

Giveaway

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About the Author

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Erin Nicholas has been writing romances almost as long as she’s been reading them. To date, she’s written over thirty sexy, contemporary novels that have been described as “toe-curling,” “enchanting,” “steamy,” and “fun.” She adores reluctant heroes, imperfect heroines, and happily ever afters.

Erin lives in the Midwest, where she enjoys spending time with her husband (who only wants to read the sex scenes in her books), her kids (who will never read the sex scenes in her books), and her family and friends (who claim to be “shocked” by the sex scenes in her books).

Connect with Erin: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Friday, August 24, 2018

BLOG TOUR: Q&A with Kerrigan Byrne, Author of The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo


Q&A with Kerrigan Byrne:

Q: Describe the hero and heroine of The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo in three words each.

A: Hero: Tenacious. Lethal. Unyielding. Heroine: Wounded. Enduring. Lonely.

Q: What is one thing the heroine, Lorelei, can’t live without?

A: Lorelai can’t live without her animals. She runs an unofficial wildlife preserve where she nurses
wounded animals from the estuary back to health. If she didn’t have her precious friends to care for, I don’t know what she’d do!

Q: What was the most played song on your playlist while writing this novel?

A: I listened to the soundtrack to the most recent Anna Karenina and Pride & Prejudice by Dario Marianelli over and over. I know it by heart.

Q: What was your hardest scene to write in The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo?

A: One of my favorite scenes was the “wedding” of The Rook and Lorelai. I loved how it was so serious, but because of who was in attendance and the way pirates view marriage, it became rather ridiculous. I giggled through the whole thing.

Q: What is one thing you would like readers to take away from this story?

A: That forgiveness and communication are just as important in a relationship as passion and excitement. I love that Lorelai teaches the Rook not only that he has a heart, but how to express what is inside it.

Q: What inspired you to write your first book? 

A: I think every writer has that moment when their love of reading is so voracious because they’re looking for one perfect story that they are aching to read about. Then, the idea dawns on us that in order for that story to exist, perhaps we have to write it ourselves. Not that any story is ever perfect, but finally the one that has been burning a hole in your soul is finally told! That’s how it happened for me, anyhow.

Q: Is there another particular author that inspires you or that you enjoy reading? 

A: Within my genre, I’d say Lisa Kleypas is just an incredible and inspiring writer. I devour everything of hers. Outside of my genre, I am constantly inspired by Christopher Moore. He’s alternately poignant and hilarious and I learn more about great content from him than almost anyone else!

Q: Where do you go or what resources do you use to make sure your novels are historically correct? 

A: Burke’s peerage is always super helpful. I have a bevy of books and resource material on everything from Jack the Ripper to Harper’s Bazaar to help me learn about a time period and the people who lived there. Unfortunately, I still don’t get everything right 100% of the time. It would certainly be more useful to time travel.

Q: Did you learn anything surprising while researching for this novel?

A: I did! I did a ton of research on the practice they used to call “Shanghai.” Life at sea was so difficult, shipping captains were always understaffed. And so, to supplement their crew, they’d pay brothels, cafes, and restaurants (not particularly reputable ones) to often drug their customers and deliver them to the docks. The poor men would wake up on a ship half way to Shanghai (thus the name) and had no choice but to work for his keep until the ship docked again. Can you imagine?

Q: Why do you write historical and contemporary romance? 

A: While history is my first love, I am also nuts about paranormal, suspense, and mystery. I LOVE to
unravel a good mystery. I used to work in law enforcement, and I met so many incredible characters, that I knew I had to write about them. I’m burning to have the time to revisit my contemporary world.

Q: What do you do if you don’t feel like writing anymore? 

A: I try to do something inspiring. Go to a concert, a winery, on a drive or hike, or hang out with friends. If it’s crunch time and I can’t indulge myself, I call my wonderful brainstorm and critique partners and they’re always there to help me cobble something together, even when I don’t feel like it’s there. I rely on them heavily for inspiration!

Q: How did you feel the first time you realized one of your books was a hit? 

A: To be honest, I’m still not certain I’ve ever really had that realization! However, I’m pretty sure I have the most incredible fans and friends in the entire world and when I’m doubting myself, or when I am in need of encouragement or validation, they’re always right there with the kindest and most encouraging words.

Q: What’s next for the Victorian Rebels series?

A: I’m very excited to be working on a brand new series entitled THE DEVILS OF DEVONSHIRE.
However, I am absolutely planning on writing two more books in the Victorian Rebels series because I know that Chief Inspector Carlton Morley and Sebastian Moncrieff both need to have their stories told. I’ve been yearning to write them for years! They’ll both be coming in 2019, so keep an eye out!

***

The bravest of heroes. The brashest of rebels. The boldest of lovers. These are the men who risk their hearts and their souls—for the passionate women who dare to love them…

He is known only as The Rook. A man with no name, no past, no memories. He awakens in a mass grave, a magnificent dragon tattoo on his muscled forearm the sole clue to his mysterious origins. His only hope for survival—and salvation—lies in the deep, fiery eyes of the beautiful stranger who finds him. Who nurses him back to health. And who calms the restless demons in his soul…

A LEGENDARY LOVE





Lorelei will never forget the night she rescued the broken dark angel in the woods, a devilishly handsome man who haunts her dreams to this day. Crippled as a child, she devoted herself to healing the poor tortured man. And when he left, he took a piece of her heart with him. Now, after all these years, The Rook has returned. Like a phantom, he sweeps back into her life and avenges those who wronged her. But can she trust a man who’s been branded a rebel, a thief, and a killer? And can she trust herself to resist him when he takes her in his arms? 

The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo
Victorian Rebels #6
Kerrigan Byrne
Pub Date: 8/28/18
St. Martin's Paperbacks
Genre: Historical Romance
Rating: 4/5
Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audiobook


The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo is a romance full of passion and heartache. Kerrigan Byrne built a beautiful story that is interspersed with moments of darkness lightened by hopeful desire and lessons in love. I adored Lorelei and The Rook for their imperfections and everything that was perfect about them. Their story is for the hopeful romantics and historical fiction buffs alike!

Lorelei is a sweet soul brought up under the shadow of a hateful brother and passive father. Her passion for healing broken animals brings into her care a mysterious young man, who remembers nothing of his past, badly broken and scarred. They forge a connection that is suddenly broken, but made even stronger when they come together again 20 years later. The gap in time that they were apart was shocking, but it worked for this story. It made their longing and disappointment that much easier to imagine. The adventure they embark upon is rife with danger and surprises, but through it all the biggest adventure is learning about each other as they are now.

The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo is about the average length of a historical romance, but I felt like I sailed through the story. It's so easy to fall into Lorelei and The Rook's drama because it's compelling and the desire to know who The Rook truly is and what happened to him in the past is so strong.  The story is slightly on the dark side, but there are plenty of moments that brought out the hapless romantic in me that I know you all will dearly enjoy!
*ARC provided in consideration for review*

GIVEAWAY:

1 winner will receive a paperback copy of The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo directly from St. Martin's! Must be a resident of the US and have a valid email address. Entries will be accepted until 9/4/18, 11:59PM.

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About the Author:


Whether she’s writing about Celtic Druids, Victorian bad boys, or brash Irish FBI Agents, Kerrigan Byrne uses her borderline-obsessive passion for history, her extensive Celtic ancestry, and her love of Shakespeare in every book. She lives at the base of the Rocky Mountains with her handsome husband and three lovely teenage girls, but dreams of settling on the Pacific Coast. Her Victorian Rebels novels include The Highwayman and The Highlander.

Connect with Kerrigan: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

BLOG TOUR: Learn How to Steal a Diamond From Heroine of Shimmy Bang Sparkle

What Stealing A Diamond and Stealing a Heart Have In Common with the Heroine from Shimmy Bang Sparkle by Nicola Rendell 

Hi! My name is Stella Peretti. I am the head of the only all-female jewel heist crew west of the Mississippi. We call ourselves the Shimmy Shimmy Bangs. I got started in this life of crime when I was a girl. I saw something that I knew was unfair and I had to do what was necessary to make it right. I’ve heard that the old hardened cons who learn about us say we are “Robin Hooding” our way around the Southwest. I’m really proud of that! 

Nick gets involved in my plan to steal the North Star diamond because of an accidental text that I mistakenly send to him. I know, I know. Dummy! But because my girls are not able to execute the heist with me, Nick offers his expertise. I’m reluctant at first. But he wins me over. He’s competent, persistent… and sexy. God, so sexy!

What have I learned from my experience with Nick? Surprisingly, stealing someone's heart is a lot like stealing a diamond. Here are five skills that you need for both: 

If You’ve Got It, Flaunt It. 

I don’t go into a heist or a relationship with my guns blazing. Instead, I give a little bat of my lashes, show a little leg, play up my most feminine qualities. Being a good flirt is a huge advantage in my line of work… and in nabbing Nick Norton, too! 

It’s a Confidence Game.

Having confidence in yourself is key to getting what you want, either in a heist or winning a man’s heart. 

Play Dirty.

There’s a time for playing by the rules and being a good girl, but it’s no holds barred in love and theft!  

Be Careful… But Not Too Careful.

When it comes to heists, I’m a planner. But when it comes down to it, it takes guts to steal a diamond. And it takes guts to fall in love as well. Soemtimes you just have to open your heart and see what happens.
All Or Nothing.  

I’ve known a lot of thieves who are doing twenty-to-life for a Zales one karat diamond.. And sure, I’ve stolen my share of engagement rings but only if it’s easy pickings. If you’re going to risk your liberty and your heart, it damn well better be worth it. The North Star is worth it. And so is Nick. 


***

To catch a thief…or fall for one?
All Nick Norton wants is to stay on the straight and narrow…and never get caught stealing again. Then he lays eyes on her: Stella Peretti—100 percent sexy and absolutely irresistible. Especially when he sees her smooth moves lifting a two-karat diamond. Nick realizes he’s found the sparkling woman of his dreams—one so perfect for him it’s almost criminal.
The Shimmy Shimmy Bangs are master jewel thieves who are planning the heist of the century. And Shimmy leader, Stella, isn’t about to let anyone—even if he is a hunky, tatted-up studmuffin—get in her way. But when two of her girls are put out of commission, Stella realizes that Nick isn’t just a red-hot distraction. He might be the answer to her pilfering prayers.
Now, Nick and Stella are putting everything on the line for one last job. But when two thieves have this much chemistry, it’s only a matter of time before somebody’s heart gets stolen. 
Shimmy Bang Sparkle
Nicola Rendell
Pub Date: 8/21/18
Montlake Romance
Amazon | B&N | Audiobook


Shimmy Bang Sparkle Excerpt

“It’s fun to dream.”

Stella tugged on the diamond ring with her thumb and forefinger to take it off, it didn’t cooperate. She furrowed her eyebrows, and laughed nervously, wiggling it and spinning it. “That’ll teach me to get extra-large fries with my lunch.”

The saleswoman laughed, nodding, and patted her slightly pudgy stomach. “Tell me about it, hon.”

For a few tense seconds, I stared at the ring. She twisted it, and tugged it. She rocked it back and forth. She gave it a yank, but still it didn’t budge. I took her hand in mine and gave it a shot too. But didn’t have any luck either. It was totally stuck.

“This isn’t embarrassing or anything,” said Stella softly as she gave it another try, doing the side-to-side rocking again. “I’m sure this is a first.”

“Oh my gosh, no. Fingers often swell in the afternoons. Lemme go get you some lotion. Be right back,” the saleswoman said, and headed for the back of the store.

Stella sighed hard and grabbed her purse from the floor, hooking it over her shoulder. “Thank you,” she called after the woman as she jingled away. “I really apologize. We’ll be out of here in no time.”

The saleswoman tossed her hand in the air. “Totally OK. Hang on.”

As she walked away though, Stella transformed right before my eyes. It was subtle, but I was watching her so close that it was like a butterfly coming out of a cocoon. The sweet-as-pie innocence was replaced with calm and focus. Her posture changed, the way she’d held her lips changed, even her stance changed. She shifted her hair over her shoulder and turned away from me, preventing me from seeing what she was looking for in her bag. I rolled my weight back onto my heels to get a different angle—not enough for her to notice, but enough to see what was going on. With the help of an oval tabletop mirror to my right, I saw exactly what she was up to. From the side pocket of her purse, she produced a little tube of something.

Hand lotion.

She didn’t call out to the saleswoman, but instead lowered her head slightly, allowing her hair to slip off her shoulder. I realized she was not only keeping her hands hidden from me, but also—thanks to her hair—away from the prying eyes of the black-domed security cameras in each corner of the shop. Suddenly, each detail seemed practiced. Strategic.

Damn near . . . professional.

She flipped open the top of the tube and squirted some onto her finger.

And then she did it. If I hadn’t been watching it, I wouldn’t have believed it. Houdini would’ve wept. Copperfield would’ve proposed. Blaine would have asked her to do a Vegas show with him. Once her finger was greased up, she used the thumb of her left hand to slide the diamond off her finger. It fell noiselessly into her bag. She dropped the tube of lotion on top, and the ring disappeared into the depths of her purse. Then, from the interior side pocket of the purse, she produced . . .

The same setting. The same cut. The same size.

The identical engagement ring.

I was floored. But somehow, I managed to play it cool. She didn’t know I’d seen her, and I wasn’t going to blow her cover. Only a creep interrupts a magician in the middle of an act.

The saleswoman tottered back toward us. The fake was on Stella’s finger, and the real ring was nowhere to be seen. “Here you go, hon,” said the woman, holding out a bottle of lotion with the lid already undone. “Smells real good too.” She squirted a glop of the pink liquid on Stella’s finger, making the whole place smell like laundry detergent.

Stella worked some lotion around her ring finger, and slipped off the fake, with a big sigh. “Phew! That was a close one.”

The saleswoman just giggled. “No worries. Happens more than you’d think,” she said, and took the keys from her skirt. Using a jewelry cloth, she cleaned the lotion off the ring until it sparkled again, set it on its spinning velvet platform, and locked up the case.

And there I thought I’d found my bliss already.

“Thanks so much for all your help,” Stella said, and zipped up her purse.

I felt like I was dreaming. Never, in my whole life, had I seen anything so smooth. She seemed sweet, she looked so sexy, and to top it all off, she was utterly badass. I needed to get my hands on her. Now.

***

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bestselling author Nicola Rendell loves writing naughty romantic comedies. After receiving a handful of degrees from a handful of places, she now works as a professor in New England. Nicola’s work has been featured in the Huffington Post and the USA Today blog Happy Ever After. She loves to cook, sew, and play the piano. Her hobbies might make her sound like an old lady, but she’s totally okay with that. For more information and updates, visit www.NicolaRendell.com

Connect with Nicola: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

BLOG TOUR: Tara Brown Talks FLING CLUB Inspirations (Plus Excerpt + Giveaway)


Fling Club Inspirations by Tara Brown

My book releasing is Fling Club, sort of like Fight Club but with romance.

The fabulous main characters are Cherry and Ashley, an unlikely match. It’s opposites attract to the extreme. Cherry is a spoiled rich girl with a serious problem, how to get revenge on the mean girl ruining her life. And Ashley is a sexy, geeky MIT scholarship student who doesn’t fit in her world. He doesn’t even want to. He can't stand the rich elite and makes no bones about sharing that opinion.

Cherry’s from a rich family and went to school at a private, well known academy where the expectations from parents are demanding. She is demure and reliable, a doormat like most of her friends. Letting parents and guys take the lead in their lives. 

After summers of the boys running the shore and parents ruling their lives, the girls decided to take back the power. One girl in particular. She created Fling Club, a fun way to control the dating and socializing the young women were expected to participate in. The head mean girl who runs it, Cait, is every young woman’s nightmare. Controlling, conniving, and completely self-centered. If you have a social life and friends, it’s because Cait allowed it. She has all the parents and every guy on the shore fooled, while all the young women are terrified of crossing her.

When Cherry catches Cait in bed with her boyfriend, the fake friendship is off just as the summer is beginning, meaning Cherry has to come up with a plan for revenge against her frenemy.

With the help of her sarcastic and judgmental brother, Andy, and her pessimistic and evil genius sister, Ella, Cherry is about to wreak havoc on Fling Club, and Cait.

This is where Ashley comes into the plan. He is the bait. Sexy, funny, sarcastic, and just arrogant enough that they don't have to worry about him falling for Cait while she is falling for him. But after a couple weeks together, the plan is threatened when Ashley and Cherry start falling for each other.

He desperately wants Cherry to see that she is so much more than she pretends to be, and that fitting into her world isn't worth the price she is paying. And once she starts seeing herself the way he does, she realizes how much she hates the person she has always pretended to be.

Fling Club, which used to be called The Exception to the Summer Fling, is an old story I wrote a decade ago but never published. It came to me when I was driving. I was crossing North America, moving from the West Coast to the East for my husband’s work in 2008. My girls were watching movies in the backseat, kid's movies. So I got to listen to that the entire six day drive.

I don't even remember the movie they were watching, I think it was a Barbie movie, maybe Princess and the Pauper, but it got me envisioning the moment Cait marched back and forth in front of the new recruits, cruelly telling them the rules of the summer fling club. (Being a HUGE fan of Cruel Intentions and Gossip Girl, of course I already had a stable of possible plots for mean rich girls.)

The story really formed when I got Cait down in my head, thanks to the long drive and the kids movies.

Cait needed to be that sweet and powerful girl the parents would respect and want their daughters to emulate. But she also needed to be terrifying and controlling so the girls went along with whatever she demanded of them. Even if it was disturbing. Of course, Cait is similar to Kathryn from Cruel Intentions, she is calculating and cold. Almost sociopathic in her nature. But I decided to spin the story a little and make our poor little victim, her equal in social rank.

Cherry might be the weaker link at the start of this story, but she comes from a good family with a lot of money. And as the story progressed she evolved from the damsel in distress who can't cope with anything into a strong young woman. I wanted her to be victim of the story but then I also wanted her to be the savior. Her own savior. I like that love helped her find herself, but she needed to do the work.

I think we nailed that, and the way the characters are meant to make you hate them. I wanted the readers' feelings to grow and change as the characters did. Cait is unbearably horrible and yet somehow relatable once we have all the facts. Cherry is weak and pathetic to start but grows into someone we liked in the end. And we made the bad guy someone you didn't expect.














I love the idea that there is an underbelly in the wealthy world, a place we don't see because they hide it from us. And I adore the meet cute we have created for the entire series of standalone novels, the Post-it Note Wall.

Welcome to the Serendipity Series, starting with Fling Club


***
It’s revenge—sweet and hot—in the first book of this sexy and wickedly funny series by international bestselling author Tara Brown.
For the young, rich, and beautiful, summertime in the Hamptons means one thing: Fling Club. Only this time, Cherry Kennedy won’t be selecting a boy for a fleeting romance. Nope, this season, Cherry is out for revenge. Her target? The Fling Club founder and society darling who slept with Cherry’s now-very-ex-boyfriend. And all Cherry needs is the perfect guy for her plan…
Ashley Jardine can’t afford to refuse. He scored almost a full ride to MIT. But that almost still costs a lot. And this is so much money for a little game of revenge and a chance—albeit short—to live the high life. Here, rich girls rule the shore, and everyonehas a role to play. Only nothing in the job description warned Ashley that the redhead who’s running the scheme would be so crazy. And cute. Or that he wouldn’t be able to stop thinking about her.
Now, everything is going according to plan—until an unexpected attraction raises the stakes. It’s enough to turn the perfect payback into absolute heartbreak.
Fling Club
The Serendipity Series #1
Tara Brown
Pub Date: 8/14/18
Skyscape
Rating 4/5
Amazon | B&N | Audiobook


Tara Brown introduces readers to an exclusive club in the Hamptons where women hold all the power. One woman in particular holds too much power and steps over the line when she sleeps with Cherry's boyfriend. Cherry is rallied by her unconventional siblings to take revenge and a crazy plot is hatched that could end Cait's tyranny once and for all. If the Fling Club is dismantled in the process then all the better!

Fling Club is one wild story! I don't usually gravitate toward stories with mean girls or obnoxious elitist antagonists, but I was really curious to see how the romance would play out. It was better than I expected and I loved how fiery and adorable Ashley and Cherry are together. Their differences are profound, but the biggest issues were Cherry's insecurities and disconnect from everyday life.

Even as the story dives into the world of the extremely rich and privileged, there's a surprising depth to the characters. The deeper into the revenge plot the more is revealed about Cherry and the club that defined her Hampton summers. Her fake friends become true friends as they unite against a common enemy and drop pretenses.

I'm eager to see how the Serendipity series continues because the intro to this series is pretty epic already. It definitely fits into the New Adult genre, so if you love that then it's perfect for you. Fling Club is a fun, intriguing summer read that you won't be able to put down once you dive in!
*ARC provided in consideration for review*

EXCERPT:

I called my brother. “Hey, Cherry. Look, I can’t talk—”

“Cait’s sleeping with Griffin,” I blurted out, cutting off whatever excuse he was about to make.

“What? Who?” It took him half a second to connect the dots. “Seriously? How do you know?”

“I just caught them.” My words had turned to a whisper. I was ashamed of my former friends for betraying me, and of myself for having been so naive. I knew Andy would call me stupid and tell me I deserved what I got for dating a Griffin, and that I was a sheeple like Mom and Cait, and—

“Oh, Cherry. I’m so sorry. Neither of those asshats deserves you.”

That reaction, I didn’t expect. Andy’s kindness broke me. Angry tears flooded my eyes, and before I could help it, I was blubbering and ranting in front of a platform full of strangers. I’d called Andy because I needed his sarcasm to toughen me up and put me on the defensive. I needed to be strong, like him. But instead he gave me tenderness, something I couldn’t handle at the moment.

“You’re lovely and sweet and kind. And you would never do something like that to anyone. Not even an enemy. I’ll come get you; tell me where you are.”

“I—I’m going home. I’m at the train. I feel sick.” My words were coming out in gasps.

“Screw them both. Let them have each other. I never liked that idiot. He’s like Mom and Cait. He thinks his blue blood earns him the right to everything—clearly. They’re selfish people, Cherry. Selfish and stupid and blind. I’m glad he showed his true colors before you got too invested in him.”

Not wanting Andy to know I was as invested as I could be, I stayed silent while he shouted and ranted all the things big brothers said to sad little sisters. “I should beat the piss outta him! Want me to kick his ass? I’ll go find a couple of friends and we can make sure he doesn’t show up for—”

“No.” I sniffled. “I just—” What did I want?

“Listen. Go home and take a hot bath, drink a bottle of wine, and try to get some sleep. I’ll come get you in a week. We’ll go to New York and get trashed, and you—”

“Sleep!” I snapped, finally losing the hold I had on my ferocity. “You think I could sleep right now? I’m not Mom, Andy. I can’t just take something and coast through shit like this.”

“Okay, don’t sleep. Try eating a whole sheet cake and plotting their deaths. They aren’t worth the energy you’re putting into being pissed off. I’ve never understood how you were friends with her. Or part of her club. Which, by the way, she only started because Wendell cheated on her with that chick from Derby. It’s ironic, because then she turns around and does this to you.”

“Andy, I don’t care why she started it,” I groaned, wiping my eyes. “I don’t care that someone cheated on her in high school. I care that she’s currently sleeping with my boyfriend—”

“Cherry, take a breath. If you’re crying, you’re losing it.”

I heaved, realizing I was blind with rage and tears.

“If you can’t get past this with a simple cake, then I don’t know what to say. If I ever make the mistake of falling in love again, it’ll be with some girl in a different financial bracket. This is why we don’t date our kind.”

“Yeah, great advice now!” I spit my words, feeling the fury building.

“Don’t lose control! You’re in public, and you’re a Kennedy for God’s sake. We don’t lose it in front of strangers. Plus, you’ll be upset you didn’t cry in the shower like a winner.”

“Shut up!” I hated him sometimes.

“Cherry, getting upset and ruining your summer is pointless; you’re the only one who suffers. They’ll win. They’ll ruin your last summer before college is over and the real world hits. Don’t let them do that to you.”

“What should I do then?” I burst again, sobbing.

“I don’t know. Maybe take her down. Get revenge. Just whatever you do, don’t go back to that moron, Chatsworth.”

“I won’t.” I sighed. “I can’t talk about this anymore. I’ll text you later.”

“Trust me, eat the cake. It will make you feel better. Do that before you do anything else. My friend Angela swears by it.” He laughed bitterly and hung up.

But I didn’t focus on the cake or the bath or the wine. My mind was stuck on the one thing Andy had said that was useful, on repeat.

Get revenge.

And I would.

***

GIVEAWAY:

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The international bestselling author of Roommates and the Puck Buddies series, Tara Brown writes in a variety of genres. In addition to her comedic Single Lady Spy series, she has also published popular contemporary and paranormal romances, science fiction, thrillers, and romantic comedies. She especially enjoys writing dark and moody tales, often focusing on strong female characters who are more inclined to vanquish evil than perpetrate it. She shares her home with her husband, two daughters, two cats, an Irish wolfhound, and a Maremma Sheepdog. Find out more about Tara by visiting www.TaraBrownAuthor.com.

Connect with Tara: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Lazy Days of Summer Giveaway: Second Chance Cowboy + $25 Amazon Gift Card!


Enter below to win an ARC of Second Chance Cowboy by AJ Pine or a $25 Amazon gift card! Two winners; the first winner picked will decide their prize and the second winner gets the other. Enter between August 15 and August 30, 2018! Open to international entrants!


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Friday, August 10, 2018

BLOG TOUR: Meet the Mountain Mercenaries by Susan Stoker (Plus Giveaway + Excerpt)


Meet the Mountain Mercenaries:

In my new romantic suspense series, the "Mountain Mercenaries" were formed by a mysterious "handler" named Rex. He brought all the men to Colorado Springs for an “interview”, then never showed up, leaving the men to get to know each other on their own. At the end of the night, however, he offered each of them the job.

Rex is a voice on a phone, and none of the Mercenaries has ever met him face to face. He does the research and sends the men on the missions. He only choses to assist in cases involving women and children.

Each of the men are former special forces. Grayson “Gray” Rogers and Lowell “Black” Lockard are former Navy SEALs. Ronan “Ro” Cross was a British SAS soldier. Archer “Arrow” Kane was a Marine. Kannon “Ball” Black was in the Coast Guard. And Hunter “Meat” Snow was Delta Force.

The men all live in the Colorado Springs area now and have “regular” jobs. Their missions with the Mountain Mercenaries aren’t exactly top secret, but no one talks much about the organization because of the nature of the missions they go on and the kind of enemies they make as a result.

And to whet your appetite for the men…

Gray has a knack for being “invisible” on jobs.

Ro has a sext British accent that seems to be more pronounced when he’s angry.

Arrow is slightly claustrophobic because of an incident that happened in England (and where he actually saved Ro’s life).

Black is the best interrogator of the group and Ball is the best driver.

Meat is the computer genius of the group and is relied on heavily to gather intel.

And Rex, is a mystery to the men on the team. They don’t know much about him except that his wife disappeared into thin air years ago.

There’s no real reason why Gray was the first on the team to find his woman in my newest release Defending Allye. Someone had to be first, and who better to find a woman who he was attracted to in the middle of the ocean, than a former Navy SEAL?

***
Love is a life-and-death risk for the Mountain Mercenaries in New York Times bestselling author Susan Stoker’s explosive series of alpha heroes, hot action, and hard passion…
Ever since his rescue op off the Pacific Coast, Mountain Mercenary Gray Rogers hasn’t been able to forget his latest “job”—Allye Martin. Any other woman would have panicked during a rescue, but the wily dancer kept her cool—even after being kidnapped by an elusive human trafficker. And Gray couldn’t be happier when a grateful Allye follows him home to Colorado Springs…



For Allye, finding sanctuary in the arms—and bed—of the former Navy SEAL is only temporary. People are disappearing off the streets of San Francisco, victims of the same underground trade that targeted her, and Allye could be the key to dismantling the entire operation. She’s willing to do anything to bring them down. Gray isn’t—for good reason. But you don’t say no to a tough girl like Allye who refuses to play it safe

Now Gray is risking more than ever before. The Mountain Mercenaries have his back. But is it enough to keep the woman he loves out of harm’s way?
Defending Allye
Mountain Mercenaries #1
Susan Stoker
Pub Date: 8/7/18
Montlake Romance
Rating: 5/5
Amazon | B&N | Audiobook



The Mountain Mercenaries series begins with a rescue mission that brings together a down-to-earth dancer and hardcore Navy SEAL turned mercenary. Susan Stoker's Defending Allye is a wonderful romantic suspense that is both charming and full of the sexiest alpha heroes.

There's mystery surrounding the founder of the Mountain Mercenaries, but the seven men working together to protect women and children are as honorable as they come. When Gray rescues Allye, a connection is forged that sees them both through trauma and the discovery of true love. I love that Stoker creates a story with action and suspense, but also a lovey-dovey romance that touches the heart. The passion between Allye and Gray despite how short the time they've known each other really heats up the story and makes you want to stay in their world far after it ends!

This is going to be an amazing series. It's one that I'll be watching for new releases because each story will no doubt shed light on this incredible team and their enigmatic leader. It's safe to say that I want more, more, more! Defending Allye is perfect of fans of
*ARC provided in consideration for review*


Defending Allye Excerpt


Allye turned to her right and glanced at the group of men sitting at the only square table in the room—and froze.


Her breathing increased, and her fight-or-flight instinct kicked in. The men weren’t paying any attention to her and hadn’t seen her yet.

Allye took one step backward toward the doorway she’d just walked through. But she was too late.

“What the hell?” The exclamation had come from Black. The man she’d met just over a week ago on a mission she knew wasn’t exactly public knowledge.

Five more heads swiveled to look in her direction, and Allye could do nothing but stare. It was as if she could actually feel the amount of testosterone in the room increase.

All six men at the table were big. And good-looking. And staring at her as if they’d never seen a woman before.

But it was Grayson Rogers’s eyes that she couldn’t look away from.

Without a word, he stood, a fluid movement that was as graceful as those of any dancer in her troupe, and walked toward her.

“Kitten, what the hell are you doing here? How’d you find me?”

She loved the sound of her nickname on his lips, but his second question sounded more like an accusation than an actual “Boy, am I glad to see you again” statement.

“I . . . I didn’t know you’d be here,” she stammered. “I wasn’t looking for you.”

He looked confused.

“I called Rex, and he arranged to meet me here. But he hasn’t shown up yet. I was sitting out there”—she pointed at the doorway—“talking to the bartender, Dave, and got bored waiting. I didn’t know you’d be here,” she repeated.

“Rex,” Gray said under his breath, then held out his hand. “Whatever the reason, I’m glad to see you again. Are you okay?”

Allye liked this gentler Gray. She nodded and put her hand in his outstretched one. The second she touched his palm, his fingers closed around hers. The warmth from his body seemed to seep into her. She hadn’t even known she was chilled until she felt how warm his skin was. “I’m okay,” she said softly.

 “No one’s been following you?” Gray asked.

Allye shrugged. “I don’t think so. I’ve felt uneasy recently, but it’s probably just a result of what happened to me before.”

Gray frowned and tightened his fingers. “Maybe, maybe not. Come on, I want you to meet my friends.”

She allowed him to lead across the room. He stopped at the table and wrapped an arm around her waist. Their hips were smashed together, and she felt every finger as he gripped her opposite hipbone.

“Guys, I’d like you to meet Allye Martin. Allye, these are the guys. Meat, Arrow, Ball, Ro, and you know Black.”

“Hi,” she said awkwardly. “It’s nice to meet all of you.”

Her greeting was returned by all the men, and she couldn’t help but squirm under their scrutiny. The man Gray called Meat got up, snagged a chair from a nearby table, and placed it next to the empty one. She sat when Gray gestured to it. She didn’t lean back in the chair but instead sat fully upright, wondering what in the world was going on.

“So . . . you’re the woman Gray rescued the other week, huh?” Arrow asked.

Allye swallowed, then gave him a small nod.

“What I’m about to tell you, kitten, isn’t common knowledge. But after what you’ve been through, and given the fact that you’re supposed to be meeting Rex here, so he obviously trusts you, I’m comfortable telling you. These men and I are all part of a group called Mountain Mercenaries,” Gray said quietly. “Rex is our leader, so to speak. He contacts us when he has rescue jobs for us to do, mostly involving women and children who are being abused or were abducted. And before you ask, we’re highly qualified. All of us are former military, all different branches, for the most part, and we’ve been through extensive training.”

Allye stared at him for a second, then her eyes went to the rest of the men around the table. She was surprised that he’d explained as much as he had, but she had no trouble believing that these men had the skills and strength to operate rescue missions.

Then something Gray said sank in.

“Mercenaries?”

He nodded.

Allye was confused. “You have a name? Can I look you up online? Hire you?”

“No.”

“Then why have a name?” Allye thought it was Ball who answered. 

“Because Rex decided, rightly so, that we would become more well known if we were associated with a name. He wanted the bad guys to fear hearing the Mountain Mercenaries were coming for them. And it’s worked. There was a situation not too long ago where a bad guy in Chicago was desperate to keep Rex and his Mountain Mercenaries out of his business. Desperate enough to kill his own son when he couldn’t control him anymore.”

Allye wasn’t sure she wanted to know the details about that. But she was still a little confused. “But mercenaries are guns for hire. Like, they go where the money is and don’t care about right or wrong, good or bad. They’re all about the money. Aren’t you more like vigilantes or something? Working around the law to do what’s right and good?”

Gray stared at her, but the other men around the table chuckled.

Finally, Gray grinned. “Knew you were too smart for your own good,” he said. “You’re right, but when Rex formed our little group, he thought Mountain Mercenaries sounded tougher than vigilantes.”

Allye rolled her eyes. “Yeah, I guess Vengeful Veterans doesn’t exactly have the same ring, does it?”

And with that, the other men burst out laughing.


***

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About the Author

Susan Stoker is a New York TimesUSA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author whose series include Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes, SEAL of Protection, and Delta Force Heroes. Married to a retired army noncommissioned officer, Stoker has lived all over the country—from Missouri to California to Colorado—and currently lives under the big skies of Texas. A true believer in the happily ever after, Stoker enjoys writing novels in which romance turns to love. To learn more about the author and her work, visit her website, www.stokeraces.com, or find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/authorsusanstoker.

Connect with Susan: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads