Royally Matched

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ROYALLY MATCHED

By Emma Chase

Release Date: Feb 21, 2017

Review

4.5 stars!

“To thine own self be true.”

Royally Matched is the story of Henry the prince, next in line to the throne. Henry’s brother abdicated the throne for the woman he loves, and Henry has now been thrust into a role he is unprepared for and never thought he would have. With the new responsibility on his shoulders, Henry agrees to a bachelor type tv show where he is to look for the love of his life.

Sarah is a young librarian, technically a lady by name. When her family is approached to be a part of the tv series, her sister jumps at it and Sarah joins in to get out of a work obligation. But Sarah doesn’t want to participate in the game for the prince and comes as her sisters assistant.

Henry and Sarah become friends while filming and get to know each other. And as time goes by feelings begin to develop on both sides. But Sarah is unsure of herself and of Henry, and Henry has his own issues and obligations holding him back.

“If nightmares can come true, and sometimes they do…. then so can our happiest dreams.”

I think Emma Chase writes some of the best escapist romance out there. Normally a royal romance with sweet moments wouldn’t be my thing, but I loved every second of this novel. Chase is able to deliver a sweet and heartfelt romance and at the same time can be cheeky and poke fun at the real world.

I was able to devour this book fairly quickly, it’s a fun and lighthearted read. Sarah as a heroine was so cute and enchanting, I love when the girl who is normally overlooked gets noticed by the hero. There was a lot more to Henry than he let others see, and Sarah was very perceptive at reading him. Yeah sometimes he messed things up, like a true Chase hero, but ultimately he got his shit together and was able to pull it off.

If you’re looking for that perfect book to snuggle up to on a lazy Sunday, this is the book for you. Emma Chase is a constant delight and I cannot wait to read more from her.

“I’ve never had someone who was just mine, body and soul-mine to protect and hold and love. And that’s what Sarah is… she belongs to me now. We belong to each other.”

ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review

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Excerpt

 

Some men are born responsible, some men have responsibility thrust upon them. Henry Charles Albert Edgar Pembrook, Prince of Wessco, just got the motherlode of all responsibility dumped in his regal lap.

He’s not handling it well.

Hoping to force her grandson to rise to the occasion, Queen Lenora goes on a much-needed safari holiday—and when the Queen’s away, the Prince will play. After a chance meeting with an American television producer, Henry finally makes a decision all on his own:

Welcome to Matched: Royal Edition.

A reality TV dating game show featuring twenty of the world’s most beautiful blue bloods gathered in the same castle. Only one will win the diamond tiara, only one will capture the handsome prince’s heart.

While Henry revels in the sexy, raunchy antics of the contestants as they fight, literally, for his affection, it’s the quiet, bespectacled girl in the corner—with the voice of an angel and a body that would tempt a saint—who catches his eye.

The more Henry gets to know Sarah Mirabelle Zinnia Von Titebottum, the more enamored he becomes of her simple beauty, her strength, her kind spirit…and her naughty sense of humor.

But Rome wasn’t built in a day—and irresponsible royals aren’t reformed overnight.

As he endeavors to right his wrongs, old words take on whole new meanings for the dashing Prince. Words like, Duty, Honor and most of all—Love.

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About the Author:

Emma Chase is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the hot and hilarious Tangled series and The Legal Briefs series. Emma lives in New Jersey with her husband, two children and two naughty (but really cute) dogs. She has a long-standing love/hate relationship with caffeine.

 

Website: http://authoremmachase.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorEmmaChase/?fref=ts

Newsletter: http://authoremmachase.com/newsletter/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/emmachse

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6551005.Emma_Chase

Ripple Effect: Episode 1

Ripple Effect: Episode 1 by Keri Lake

4 stars!

“Ripple effect: noun 1. A spreading effect or series of consequences caused by a single action or event.”

Ripple Effect part 1 kicks off what promises to be a dark and intense ride! Dylan is a young woman, desperate to escape her circumstances but darkness is constantly bleeding into her life. In a series of miserable things to happen to her, Dylan crosses paths with the ruthless killer Ripley and her life changes forever.

I just want to start off by saying that good lord people, Keri Lake CAN WRITE. I mean, I already pretty much knew this from reading Ricochet, but this book just reinforced in my mind how unbelievably talented Lake is with words. For example:

“Wind rattles the glass in its frame, the tendrils of late winter sneaking their way beneath the thin afgan wrapped around my shoulders.”

I could quote countless other sentences or small moments to prove my point, but you’ll just have to take my word for it. I love the romance community and I don’t mean to bash it at all, but it’s rare to find this high quality of a writing style combined with a great story, and Lake delivers both.

I will say this book proved to me what a giant scaredy cat/pussy I am. Because this was dark. Like, I felt nauseous and had to skim some of the more violent parts because my weak butt could not handle it. Nevertheless I very much enjoyed this first installment and cannot wait to get to the others!

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review

Wait For It

Wait For It by Molly O’Keefe

3.75 stars!

“Whatever this is…this impetus you have to help me right now, I know it’s a lie. You’re not kind, Blake, and I’ve had more than enough lies in my life. I don’t want any more.”

Even though I have enjoyed the majority of this series, I shamefully did not really recall the main characters in this installment. Luckily we got a bit of a reminder at the beginning, and I honestly believe this book can be read as a standalone novel.

Wait For It is about a woman named Tiffany, who has three kids and an abusive husband. She had a very bad past encounter with her brother in law Blake, and now a year later when she needs help he’s the one who wants to step in. But Tiffany doesn’t trust easily, especially the man who paid her off and treated her like trash. It’s up to Blake to figure out a way to help Tiffany and do the right thing.

“Listen to me,” he said. “I will never hurt you or touch you. I won’t put my hands on you unless you ask me. Beg me.” I gasped and fell back against the door, strength leaving my legs. “And I want you to beg me,” he said, still closer. “And I think someday you will.”

I found the best part about this book was the main characters and how flawed yet beautiful they both were. Both very much wanted someone to see through their hard exterior, and to be loved for who they truly were within. Granted, it took them both a while, because both of them had spent so many years building protective walls around their hearts.

O’Keefe delivers an intense, complicated romance filled with sensitive characters trying to change their lives for the better. You can’t help but root for this couple, they’ve dealt with so much crap in their lives and they deserve the best.

If you haven’t picked up a book in this series yet, make sure to buy this one!

“She was the miracle I was trying to hold on to.”

ARC provided by publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Black Hearts

Black Hearts by Karina Halle

4.5 stars!

“Didn’t your father ever teach you that love is what gets you killed?”

Just want to say first off, Black Hearts can be read without having read The Artists trilogy or the Dirty Angels trilogy. I myself (shamefully) have not read the Dirty Angels books or completed TAT and can honestly say I was able to read and enjoy this book just fine.

Black Hearts is the story of Violet McQueen, a young woman in her second year of photography school who is beginning to discover her family is not everything she thought it was. While uncovering secrets she meets a man named Vicente, who has a silver snaked tongue and is obviously interested in her.

But what Violet doesn’t know is Vicente is connected to her parents past, and he already knew who she was when they met. And Vicente finds himself doing something he never expected… falling in love with Violet.

“Everything I know is a lie.”

This was a riveting read from the very first page, I met these characters and I fell into their lives seamlessly. Violet is a character with a sensitive nature, and it makes her more intuitive than others. She knows Vicente isn’t all good, but she decides to overlook it because she’s attracted to him.

I loved reading Vicente, I’m not normally one for mafia alpha males, but Vicente is the exception! While he lives a harsh and ruthless life, there’s a part of him deep inside that is vulnerable and wants to connect.

My favorite part about this book was how it kept me guessing. Guessing at what would come next, how characters would react, and whether things would go as I predicted. A suspenseful read, I think this is a book all readers could enjoy.

“The Bernals aren’t good people. The McQueens aren’t either.”

ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review

Defy

Defy by LJ Shen

4 stars!

^^^This is me, throwing all my reservations up in the air. It was helpful going into this novella knowing it was smutty fun with instalove/instalust because I knew what was to come.

Defy is a prequel novella to Vicious centering on the teacher/student affair between Melody and her student Jaime. Melody hates her job at an elite high school, and her boss the principal seems to hate her too. One day Jaime accidentally crashes into Jaime’s car, and from that encounter he makes it clear that his sights are set on Melody.

What ensues is a hot lusty romance that’s a lot of fun to read. I had seen a little bit of this couple in the book Vicious and wanted to know more about their story, so I was very much satisfied with this novella written for them.

I cannot wait to read more about the rest of the Hotholes!

ARC was provided by author in exchange for honest review

A Promise of Fire

A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

4.5 stars!

“People talk about fight or flight? That’s nonsense. It’s fight and flight.”

I love fantasy romance, it always delivers such fun!

A Promise of Fire is a mythological fantasy romance about a woman who can detect lies, among other abilities. This makes Cat very valuable to the rulers of the world who want to use her for their own gain. When the brother of a Queen recognizes Cat as a Kingmaker, he and his warriors capture her to bring her to their Queen.

Griffin wants to use Cat for peace, but a lifetime of hardship has Cat convinced that is not possible. It’s up to Griffin to sway her.

“Now that that’s settled, you’re coming with me.”

“Never in a billion suns. Not even if Zeus showed up as a swan and tried to peck me in your direction. I wouldn’t go with you even if my other option was Hades dragging me to the Underworld for an eternal threesome with Persephone.”

After seeing this book on lots of Best of 2016 lists, I wanted to give it a shot. I’m glad I did because it was a fun and wild read. Lots of reviews have noted Cat as annoying, and I can see where people would think that, but to me she was feisty and fierce. Could she have made better decisions? Yes. But her life circumstances never really taught her the “right” way to live, she had to learn on her own.

Griffin….. oh my Griffin

I love a romance where the man has to convince the girl to love him. His courtship of Cat was fun, and it was frustrating at times, but he never wavered.

I loved the mix of mythology and fantasy, the mystery behind who Cat really was, the relationship of Cat with the warriors and the royals. Basically I really enjoyed this book. So much so, I ran to my local Barnes and Noble to pick up the next book before I was even done reading!!!

“I conquered a kingdom and found a treasure.” His voice turns gravelly, low. “I won’t let you go. Not now. Not ever.”

Fast Connection

Fast Connection by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell

5 stars!

“He’s completely complicated. And lost. And frustrating. But we do something for each other. . . . We fit. We need each other.”

I LOVED THIS BOOK!!!! This was my first full five star rated book of 2017, this was the perfect book at the perfect time!

Dominic Costigan served his country in the army for many years, and it was there he realized that his skirt chasing days may also include pant chasing. Basically, he’s bisexual. Upon returning home he gets a gay dating app and finds himself in a hook up with silver fox Luke.

Luke is a divorced father of two teens, also bisexual, and has zero interest in a relationship. But there’s something between the two of them that Luke recognizes and doesn’t want to. Can Luke look past his reservations and open up to Dominic?

“I couldn’t get enough of him. He was an addiction now, and I hadn’t decided yet if he was a healthy one like eating apples every day or an unhealthy one like meth.”

I loved this book, I loved it. I am going to keep saying that. I LOVED IT! There. It’s all out. Maybe. If you read the first book, the Dominic Costigan we met wasn’t his best self, I was wary of his character to be honest. But I love when authors take a character who doesn’t appear to be great in one book, and we see a whole new side of them in their own book.

Dominic is one of my favorite book heroes now, I loved reading about his journey to find himself and what he wanted to do with his life. His insecurities came from a real place, not having a supportive figure in his life. Luke was his perfect counter point despite being kind of a dick in the beginning. The two of them got each other, one kind of goofy and the other stoic. Dominic breaks through Luke’s hard exterior, and Luke recognizes that “Nick” needs affection.

Perk for all of you pervy pervs out there like me, this book was seriously HAWT. Very, vert hot. But it was equal with plot which is so hard to do and I appreciated that. And it had the perfect level of angst, the delicious kind where rainbows come out of my mouth while I am reading it. (Yes, I am weird).

Anyways, if you are in the mood for an awesome MM story between a hot Captain America type and a silver fox, this is the book for you!

“I want you. To be mine. Only mine.”

Vicious

Vicious by LJ Shen

4.5 perfect a**hole hero stars!

“He’d treated me horribly in the past, but right now…he brought color into my life.”

Vicious is the story of Emilia and Vicious. In high school her parents worked for his family, and Vicious made her life a living hell. Now ten years later Emilia is living in New York when Vicious approaches her and offers her a job. She’s not stupid, she knows there’s more to this offer than he says there is, but Emilia is desperate and needs the money for her and her sister.

As they work together, Vicious continues to be the awful jerk he was before, but Emilia also sees a new side of him that he kept hidden from her years before. But she dreads what he’ll make her do and she scared of her heart being broken by him again.

“I used to think of you as a villain, but you’re not my villain. You’re your own villain.”

This was my first book by LJ Shen and I can honestly say it won’t be my last. She’s an author I’ve always been meaning to read and never made the time for, and I regret that now. Asshole heroes are not normally my favorite trope, but I loved Vicious so much! I think having his POV helped us as readers see his more vulnerable sides and made him so much more human.

The other thing that made this book great is Emilia. When it comes to asshole heroes, there is a fine line for the heroine in which she can become the victim and let the hero walk over her, or she can be the perfect counterpoint and deflect the harmful things they can say. Emilia was perfect! She knew what to let slide, she didn’t take his crap, and she saw past his asshole exterior and saw the vulnerable man beneath.

This was a book that was hard to put down and a story I’ll be thinking about for a long time to come. I am eager to read more by LJ Shen in the future!

“I loved her when I hated her. And I loved her when I didn’t want anything to do with her. I was so crazy about her, the lines had blurred together. Feelings were mixed, emotions twisted together.”

Tru Smoke

Tru Smoke by Edie Danford

4 stars!

I needed a good M/M rec so I went to two of my GR friends, J and Mirjana who are the queens of M/M as far as I am concerned. J recommended this gem and it was wonderful!

Tru Smoke is the story of a billionaire ranch owner Tru and his younger employee Jones. The two have been friends for years, but Tru doesn’t want to take advantage of Jones. After an amazing hookup gone wrong, Jones doesn’t return home for 3 years until a wedding brings him back. Tru regrets how things went but still cannot make any promises. Jones now knows better than expect more. But both feel the attraction and it grows stronger every day.

This was a semi angsty read (which I loved) and I devoured it, stayed up until 2 am to finish it. I’m not normally a fan of the older man/younger man trope but it really worked with this couple, they had been friends so long there wasn’t a creepy factor and they knew just what the other person wanted or needed. This is a book I am super surprised is not more popular, I think it really has a good place in the genre of MM romance and I hope more people check out this book. BONUS, it’s on kindle unlimited for all of you KU users!!!! Woohoo!

Wait For It

Wait For It by Mariana Zapata

4 stars!

“You can’t always wait for someone else to do the right thing when you can do it yourself.”

Mariana Zapata is the queen of the slow burn!

Wait For It is the story of Diana, a young aunt who is raising her two nephews after the death of her brother and his wife. Moving into a new neighborhood, Diana meets her neighbor when she rescues his brother from being beaten up. From this point, their lives mix between family and friends and little league games.

Dallas is a grumpy guy across the street, and while he warms up to her nephews, he doesn’t seem to like Diana very much. Over time the two reach a friendly agreement, and then become friends. But Dallas is married, pursuing a divorce, and Diana may want more, but she won’t go after it.

“Only thing cover model about Dallas was his resting bitch face that was too aggressive to be on the cover of anything other than a survival guide magazine.”

The moment I saw this puppy was live early, I one-clicked it so fast! I love this author, her slow burn romances are exactly what I needed in a world of instalove and women accidentally falling on men on page 2. I loved how much this book was about daily family life and Diana raising the kids more then it was about romance.

The slow burn, it’s more glacial than slow in this book but I honestly didn’t mind. But for those who you who want stuff to happen, we don’t even really get to know the hero until after 39% into the book. BUT like I said, I really enjoyed the daily life of Diana with the boys. I’m not a parent but I was laughing so hard at moments like Diana’s dread at hosting a sleepover and stress eating pop tarts. This book actually made me crave pop tarts and I don’t even eat them!

Dallas was a great hero, he was supportive and understanding and once he got to know Diana and her intentions he was good to her and her boys. This book made me like the strong and silent type.

“Because no one else was as kind or selfless, as giving or as patient, as loving in all the little and the big ways, as he was. I’d never really known what I wanted most of my life, but this—him—was it.”

The Bird and the Sword

The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon

4.5 stars!

“Swallow Daughter, pull them in, those words that sit upon your lips. Lock them deep inside your soul, hide them ’til they’ve time to grow. Close your mouth upon the power, curse not, cure not, ’til the hour. You won’t speak and you won’t tell, you won’t call on heav’n or hell. You will learn and you will thrive. Silence, daughter. Stay alive.”

Amy Harmon just has this way with words, she infuses beauty into them. She takes words and gives them substance, she makes them pretty.

The Bird and the Sword is a high fantasy novel following a young woman named Lark. When she was a child her mother died to protect her, taking the fall for an ability Lark has so that Lark would not be killed. Now grown, Lark has not spoken since the day her mother died and she is heavily protected by her father. When King Tiras comes and takes Lark as collateral, Lark is swept away to a new place, one where she learns more than she ever could before.

Words are her power, and the knowledge of words was kept from her until now. And Tiras becomes aware of Lark’s power and needs it to help save everyone’s lives. But can Lark save Tiras from his own curse?

“You glow, Lark.” His hand climbed back up again and swept over my unbound hair. I swallowed, suddenly close to tears. Then why does no one see me? “I see you,” he said.”

I loved this book. Plain and simple. Harmon’s work can be a hit or a miss for me, before this book it was about a 50/50 split on the 4 books I had already read. I am a huge fantasy fan so despite my reservations I was intrigued. On top of that so many people have recommended this book and I basically waved them off, putting it off even longer.

As of late I have have trouble finding a romance novel that is worth my time, that doesn’t sound like everything else out there. THIS is that book, the one that is so uniquely special it blows all other books out of the water. Harmon’s magical writing style, not once did I skim, not once did I want to put the book down and I stayed up until 2 am finishing this novel. For a woman who normally writes contemporary, she nailed the world building required for a high fantasy novel. The imagery was stunning, I felt as if I was in this world myself.

So if you are hesitant to read this book for any reason, I say let your reservations go and try it anyway. That’s what I did, and it worked out wonderfully for me.

“I think I will keep you.”

Fire in You

Fire in You by J Lynn

4 stars!

“Scars, whether physical or emotional, could be not just a representation of survival but also a story of hope.”

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Reading a J Lynn book always feels like coming home.

The sixth book in this series, Fire In You, follows the characters Jillian and Brock. When Jillian was younger she was in love with Brock, following him around everywhere like a puppy dog. But one night of tragedy changed that, and Jillian hasn’t been the same since. Now, about six years later, Jillian has agreed to go to work for her dad, and Brock enters her life once again. But Jillian has changed, immensely, and she refuses to go back to the way things were between them while Brock is insistent on being in her life again.

“What in the actual hell of all nine circles of Hell was this?”

There isn’t a book in this series I haven’t enjoyed or loved. This one started out very strong, I like how JLA develops her heroines so we get a sense of who they are before we get more of the story. I could totally see where Jillian was coming from, her insecurities and bewilderment at Brock’s sudden interest in her. But I think his big brotherly feelings did develop into something more, I just wish we saw more of his journey than hers.

I devoured this book beginning to end. I’ve been in a romance slump lately and was wary of reading this, but JLA delivered a story that sucked me in and wasn’t the same as everything else. There’s a reason she’s one of my favorite authors, she almost never lets you down. If you’re in the mood for a romance to make you smile, this is the book for you.

“I love you because you have this fire in you that you don’t even recognise, but I do. You’re strong and you’re a survivor.”

Hold My Breath

Hold My Breath by Ginger Scott

3.5 stars!

“The hurt is almost good. It reminds me that something real was in my heart once, and as much as I want to run away from it, in this moment, I also want to hold onto it.”

Hold My Breath is the story of two swimmers, Will and Maddy. Growing up Maddy was in love with Will’s brother, until a tragic accident happens and Will survives and his brother dies. Four years later and Will wants to reenter the swimming world and he’s been training for it. This brings Will back into Maddy’s life, and all of his feelings for her from years ago return. The more time they spend together the more they ease back into their old friendship.

Ginger Scott knows how to pack an emotional punch into her books, I always know I can expect a good drama from her. This was a good slow burn romance, a bit slow at the beginning but it picked up pace near the end. Good for fans of sports romance and emotional romance.

”I’ve wanted Maddy since she dared me to beat her when we were kids racing in the pool. I’ve wanted to kiss her since I wrapped my hands around hers on the rope swing, and I know in my gut that I loved her first. I loved her more…and I loved her first.”

ARC provided by author in exchange for review

The Hating Game

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

4 IHATEJOSHUA4EV@ stars!!!

“I have a theory. Hating someone feels disturbingly similar to being in love with them.”

The Hating Game is a sleeper hit, it feels like it came out of nowhere and everyone seems to love it. After dragging my feet for a long time, I finally got my rear in gear and checked out this lovely from the library, and it was the perfect escape.

Lucy and Josh work in the same company in the same room. The two have hated each other since they first laid eyes on each other and every day at work is a semi hostile one with glares and witty barbs fired at each other. Now they are both up for a promotion and everything comes crashing together as they do their best to be the winner.

“It’s a corporate truth universally acknowledged that workers would rather eat rat skeletons than participate in group activities.”

While this book may be a tad predictable and full of stereotypes, I enjoyed every second that I spent reading it. I’m not normally one for the “I hate you but I love you” kind of trope, but Thorne nails it in her delivery of the book. I was blown away by the layers to the story, having only Lucy’s perspective the more I learned about Josh, the more I grew to love him. This book also had those little angsty tidbits that I just ate right up!

“You’ve broken me down so completely, I can’t even handle it when a guy tells me I’m beautiful.”

I found myself giggling while reading this. Lucy was a fantastic balance of intelligent, work wise, and naive when it came to interpreting Josh and his feelings for her. My favorite part of the entire book is when Lucy got sick (and that’s all I’ll say because I don’t want to spoil it for you).

Lately I haven’t been able to read romance because it all seems the same to me, and I am happy to say this book stands out amongst the sea of books that all sound alike to me. Bravo to Ms. Thorne for her debut novel and I eagerly await more of her books in the future.

“I’m probably not good at a lot of things, but I will try to be.”

Heat Wave

Heat Wave by Karina Halle

4 stars!

“There are moments if your life, people in your life, that when they cross your path and meet your eye, you know.”

Heat Wave is the story of Ronnie, a chef who was fired from her last job and traveling to Kauai, Hawaii to the only job that will have her. But it’s even more complicated than that. Her parents got her the job as the owner of the resort restaurant where she’ll work is that of her brother in law. He was married to her sister who passed away two years before. And the man Ronnie fell for before he fell for her sister.

Logan’s not an easy boss to work for, he’s angry and grumpy. But it only makes Ronnie want to prove herself more that she can pull her weight at the hotel. The more time she spends with Logan, the more she begins to feel for him. But at the same time, her guilt grows as well.

“You reap what you sow. I chose what I thought was the lesser of two evils and not a moment goes by that I’m not reaping it.”

Karina Halle delivers an emotional and angsty romance readers everywhere will love. I used to travel to Kauai a lot when I was younger and this book felt like an escape back to an island that I love, Halle obviously knows this island well.

Ronnie and Logan are an unforgettable couple, caught in an unescapable web that was created by a mistake made years before. I felt for Ronnie for much of the book, her family was so horrible to her and I just wanted to give her a hug. I loved that Logan was always supportive of Ronnie, even when they weren’t together.

If you’re looking for a story of second chances and righting past wrongs, this is the book for you. Just be prepared for the feels about to come your way.

“You’re like…. a hurricane. And she was the….”
“Calm before the storm?”
“No. She was the underground bunker. The shelter. Could withstand anything and come out looking clean while everything around her is destroyed. She could hide and avoid damage.”

ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review

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Synopsis

They say when life closes one door, another one opens.

This door happens to lead to paradise.

And a man I can never, ever have.

 

Still grieving the loss of her sister who died two years ago, the last thing Veronica “Ronnie” Locke needed was to lose her job at one of Chicago’s finest restaurants and have to move back in with her parents. So when a window of opportunity opens for her – running a kitchen at a small Hawaiian hotel – she’d be crazy not to take it.

 

The only problem is, the man running the hotel drives her crazy:

Logan Shephard.

It doesn’t matter that he’s got dark brown eyes, a tall, muscular build that’s sculpted from daily surfing sessions, and a deep Australian accent that makes your toes curl.

What does matter is that he’s a grump.

Kind of an asshole, too.

And gets under Ronnie’s skin like no one else.

 

But the more time Ronnie spends on the island of Kauai, falling in love with the lush land and its carefree lifestyle, the closer she gets to Logan. And the closer she gets to Logan, the more she realizes she may have pegged him all wrong. Maybe it’s the hot, steamy jungles or the invigorating ocean air, but soon their relationship becomes utterly intoxicating.

 

There’s just one major catch.

 

The two of them together would incite a scandal neither Ronnie, nor her family, would ever recover from.

 

Forbidden, Illicit, off-limits – sometimes the heat is worth surrendering to, even if you get burned.

 

 

GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31835516-heat-wave?ac=1&from_search=true

AMAZON: http://bit.ly/HEATWAVE-KH-Kindle

Paperback: http://www.bit.ly/HEATWAVE-PB
Preorder iBooks: http://bit.ly/HEATWAVE-iTunes

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/heat-wave-karina-halle/1124593528?ean=2940153728636

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ABOUT KARINA HALLE

Karina Halle is a former travel writer and music journalist and The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling author of The Pact, Racing the Sun, Sins & Needles and over 25 other wild and romantic reads. She lives on an island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband and her rescue pup, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails and devours a lot of books.

Halle is represented by the Waxman Leavell Agency and is both self-published and published by Simon & Schuster and Hachette in North America and in the UK.

Hit her up on Instagram at @authorHalle, on Twitter at @MetalBlonde and on Facebook. You can also visit http://www.authorkarinahalle.com and sign up for the newsletter for news, excerpts, previews, private book signing sales and more.

 

LINKS:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Karina-Halle/140649372629593

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MetalBlonde

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4785031.Karina_Halle?from_search=true

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE: http://www.amazon.com/Karina-Halle/e/B0050KE63C/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1407546895&sr=8-2-ent

 

 

Muscular back and sexy torso of young man with perfect abs

Muscular back and sexy torso of young man with perfect abs

 

EXCERPT

I saw him first.

It shamed me to think it then, it shames me to think it now.

But that’s what the truth does to you sometimes. It shames you because it’s only in the truth that you realize how human you really are. What a raw, devastating thing that is, to embrace your humanity and learn to live with all your sharp points, the hollow places, the cracks and the crevices. To be utterly real. To be terribly flawed.

Those cracks had always been forming inside me, slowly making their way to the surface over the years. In my family, there wasn’t much you could do but try and hold yourself together, to stick glue on your wounds, to paste over the imperfections. But the cracks still grew, until all of us were held together by crumbling cement, just statues waiting to collapse.

That was years and years ago. I was just twenty-two at the time. A baby. I’m still a baby in the grand scheme of things, but there’s something precious about your early twenties, where you think you’re so much older, bigger, than you are, where life is just about to deliver the crushing blows that will knock you off your feet for the rest of your days. The small things become the big things and the big things become the small things and you aren’t quite sure when they made the switch.

But in the end, I saw him first. He was mine, even before he knew it. He was mine in some strange way that I still don’t understand. The only way I can think of to explain it is…

You just know.

There are moments in your life, people in your life, that when they cross your path and meet your eye, you know. Maybe it’s all in the chemistry, certain pheromones that react when they mix together, maybe it’s a smell that triggers a memory, maybe it’s a glimpse at a future you don’t recognize or a hint at the past, a life you’ve lived and forgotten. Whatever it is, you know that moment, that person, is going to shape you for the rest of your life.

That’s what it was like when I saw him. Standing over by the windows and staring out Lake Michigan, like he was wishing he could be anywhere but there.

I wished the same. My mother’s the deputy mayor of Chicago and this was another one of her fundraisers I felt obliged to attend. It was tradition in my family, for my father, for me, for my sister, to show up and wave the flag of support. It didn’t seem to matter that the stuffy politicians that surrounded these events never paid me any attention. And if they did, it was the wrong kind of attention, always the sixty-year-old man leering after the young thing with the nice smile.

Luckily I didn’t smile all that often. My resting bitch face took over whenever I was deep in thought, which was pretty much all the time.

But this guy…I felt a kinship with him. I felt like I knew exactly what he was thinking, feeling, and that it was completely wrapped up in and connected to everything that was going through me.

I don’t know where I found the nerve to go over and talk to him. He seemed so much older, not quite the sixty-year-old politicians I was used to seeing, but maybe in his early-thirties. More than that, there was some kind of aura around him. Sounds stupid, I know. Whatever it was, it was like he belonged in some whole other universe than here, a star on earth, permanently grounded and yearning to be in the sky.

It was usually Juliet’s job to go around and make everyone feel warm and comfortable at these events—hell, in every event—but she wasn’t here yet. And though I could have easily stayed in the shadows, I was pulled to him, like he had a wave of gravity whirling around him.

I remember what I was wearing. Strappy flats because I hated wearing heels, a knee-length cocktail dress in emerald green, sleeveless, high-neck. It made me look older and I wore it because my mother always wanted me to look like a lady.

With a glass of champagne in hand, I made my way over to the windows, my heart racing the closer I got to him. He looked taller up close, well over six feet. His shoulders were broad, like a swimmer’s, and suddenly I had a vision of him diving into the lake. The navy blue suit he was wearing looked well-tailored but he seemed uncomfortable in it, like he couldn’t wait to get rid of it.

I stood beside him for a moment, following his gaze out the window. He seemed lost in his thoughts but out of my peripheral his head tilted slightly and he brought his eyes over to me while I kept staring at that wide expanse of water, stretching out to the horizon.

“Can’t wait to get out of here?” I asked, but though my tone was mild, my delivery was bold. It was as if someone else had taken a hold of my body, forcing me to speak. I slowly turned my head to meet his eyes.

I was taken aback for a second. He was staring at me like he knew me, even though I’d never seen him before. Then again, I was sure I’d been staring at him in the same way. That feeling of knowing. He knew me, I knew him, and who the hell knows how that was possible.

His eyes were brown—are brown—dark with currents of gold and amber, giving them beautiful clarity. Slightly almond shaped. His brows were also dark, arched, adding to the intensity of his gaze. He’s the type of guy whose eyes latch onto you, dig deep, trying to sift through the files of your life, see who you really are.

“How did you know?” he asked, a full-on Australian accent rumbling through his gruff voice. It made my stomach flip, my core smolder. How deed you now, is what it sounded like. Funny how I stopped hearing the accent after time.

I gave a half shrug and looked back to the party. More people had flooded the room, mingling around the appetizers. My mother was in the corner, a crowd of politicians around her. She didn’t see me. She never did.

“Because I think I’d rather be in the middle of Lake Michigan too,” I told him, “then be stuck here with all these people.”

“These people,” he repeated. My focus was drawn to his lips, full, wide, tilting up into a smirk. Beneath them was a strong chin and even sharper jaw, dusted with a five o’clock shadow that seemed permanent, like the man couldn’t get a clean shave even if he tried. “How do you know I’m not one of these people?”

“Because you’re over here and not over there. How come you keep answering my questions with more questions?”

He studied me for a moment. My blood pounded in my head and I felt a giddy kind of thrill at how this was progressing. If anything, I was proud for holding my own with this handsome stranger. He was the first man I ever really felt at ease with.

He cleared his throat, offered me a quick smile before he nodded at the lake, his hands sliding into his pockets. “She almost looks like the ocean, doesn’t she?”

“Not quite the same as Australia, I would imagine.”

“No hiding this accent, is there?” He glanced at me and stuck out his hand, which I shook for a moment, warm palm to warm palm. “I’m Logan Shepard. Australian. And the reason I’m here is because I was invited by a friend of mine. I’m only in town for a few days and he didn’t want to go alone. He’s over there.” He nodded at a tall black man in the corner, listening intently to another man.

“Warren Jones,” he said, as if I should know him. Perhaps I should. He probably thought I was one of them. “He’s local and the key piece to my investment.”

I wasn’t one for business talk—I never had anything to contribute other than lamenting student loans—but I wanted him to keep talking. “What’s your investment?”

“Starting my own hotel,” he said. “In Hawaii. Have you ever been there?”

“Once. When I was eight. I think we were in Honolulu. I remember a city, anyway. Waikiki Beach.”

“This hotel is in Kauai. The Garden Isle. Went there once as a teenager and couldn’t get it out of my mind.”

I didn’t know the right things to say. I wanted to ask more about the hotel, what it means when you have an investor, but I didn’t want to appear dumb. I kept my mouth shut.

“You haven’t introduced yourself,” he said. “Protecting a secret identity?”

I smiled, close-lipped. “Not really. I’m Veronica Locke. American. And I unfortunately I don’t have much else to add to that.”

“Locke?” he repeated, eyes darting to my mother. “Are you the daughter of the deputy mayor, Rose Locke?”

“One of them,” I told him.

He nodded quickly. “I see. No wonder you’d rather be in the middle of the bloody lake. I bet you have to do this stuff all the time.”

“It’s not so bad.” I took a sip of my drink so I didn’t have to say anything more and looked away at the crowd. The bubbles teased my nose, making my eyes water.

I could feel his gaze on me as he spoke. “I’m sure you have plenty more to say about yourself though. Where do you work? Student?”

“Culinary arts,” I told him. “I’m one of those crazy people who dream of being a chef one day.”

He frowned. “Why is that crazy?”

I gave him a look, forgetting that most people have no idea how hard it is. “Because it’s a long road, long hours, and nothing is guaranteed. People think being a chef is easy. They see Gordon Ramsey or Nigella Lawson and think it’s all fame and food and money and they have no idea what it’s really like. I’m not even out of school and already I feel half-beaten.”

He was still frowning. He did that a lot, I would soon learn. “Sounds like life to me.” His eyes dropped to my lips and something intensely carnal came over them, like suddenly I was the food, not the wannabe chef. “Did you want to get a drink somewhere. After this? When you’ve done your daughterly duties?”

I swallowed hard. I didn’t know what a drink meant. Just a drink? A date? Was it sex? I started going through my head, trying to think of reasons why it was a bad idea. My legs were shaved, did my bra and underwear match? Did I have a condom? I had taken the pill this morning, even though my last boyfriend and I had broken up months ago. I hadn’t been with a guy, let alone a man, in a long time.

Don’t flatter yourself, I quickly thought. What makes you think he’d be interested in you that way?

“Yes,” I said when I finally found my voice. “Yes, I would like that.”

A spark flashed in his eyes, lighting them up in such a way that made my toes literally curl. Damn. I was in trouble with this man. “Any way you can get out of your duties sooner?” he asked.

I couldn’t help but smile, raising my brow at his presumptuousness, while simultaneously trying to hide the fact that I was freaking out. I looked around the room and tried to judge how likely it was that someone would notice if I was gone. My mom was still surrounded by a wall of people and no one was paying any attention to us, standing by the windows, already removed.

A sad thought hit me, sliding past before I could really dwell on it: no one even notices when I’m here.

“If we’re quick and sneaky,” I told him.

“Being quick isn’t in my repertoire,” he said, “but I could give it a shot.”

Again. Damn. I wasn’t one to blush but I could feel my cheeks heating up and hoped my skin supressed the flush. He was so much older than me in so many ways, the last thing I wanted was to appear the naïve schoolgirl.

And I didn’t know what to say to that. He was staring at me with those dark eyes, a look so intense yet sparkling with charm and something…wicked.

I’d never find out how wicked they could be.

“Ronnie!” A melodic, ultra-feminine voice sliced through the moment like an unwieldy machete, causing me to flinch, my fingers tightening around the stem of the glass.

Oh no, I thought. Not now.

Logan’s head swiveled toward the sound of the voice, like a hound picking up a scent. I didn’t bother looking over, I kept my focus on him, watching his expression intently. It changed, as I knew it would.

She had walked into the room.

He saw her.

And like it was for so many men, that look of lust I had thought was for me, was now for her.

That’s when I knew it was over. Whatever thing I had felt for him, it didn’t matter anymore, not when she was in the room. Nothing ever mattered as long as she was around.

I might have saw him first.

But he was all hers after that.