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WHAT I'VE READ LATELY

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Trial by FireThe Dom's DungeonBy the BookNakedSmash CutSave The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need

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Friday
May222015

Friday Reads: Two Great Books & It Will Only Cost You a Buck

 

So I've been doing theme days this week (a little bit on here and a little on my FB page), which has been fun. Today is Friday Reads. I'm going to give you two recs. One is what I read this week and one is one of my fave m/m romances that's on sale. And bonus, one is free and one is only a dollar! You're welcome. ;)

 

First is THE HOSTAGE BARGAIN by Annika Martin. I saw her speak at RT and because I loved PRISONER, a book she co-wrote with Skye Warren, I decided to give it a try. This book is such frothy, campy fun. Three hot bank robbers take a teller hostage and she decides she wants to be part of the gang. It's silly and funny and super sexy. I love the banter with the heroes. If you're looking for something steamy that will also make you laugh (in a good way), check this one out. The first is free but there's also a boxed set with all three books for a good price as well.

Next is Damon Suede's HOT HEAD. I read it a few years ago, but when I saw that it was on sale for just a $1, I had to pass that along. I loved this book. One of my favorite m/m romances. It's super sexy and great characters with lots of emotion. And it's friends to lovers AND hot firefighters. I mean, come on? Why are you still here? Go, get it. Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend!

So now it's your turn. Tell me what you're reading or what you want to recommend this week. :)


Tuesday
May192015

Teaser Tuesday: YOURS ALL ALONG

 

 

Less than a month away before Devon and Hunter are here!

Here's a little snippet from YOURS ALL ALONG:

Devon turned onto the mostly deserted city streets and headed toward the on ramp for the highway. Music played low in the background, but Hunter couldn’t focus on anything besides the fact that he was in Dallas in a car with Devon after all this time. How many times had they ridden just like this, laughing about things, giving each other shit, or singing along to the radio? An old ache opened up in his chest—one where friendship and comfort and other warm things used to reside. He rubbed the spot with the heel of his hand.

Devon peered over, expression shuttered. “So, you going to tell me why you’re here?” 

“I told you. My fiancée sent me out here to take a vacation.”

“Not why you’re in Dallas, Hunt, why you were in my bar.” 

A thousand answers jumped to his lips. Because I needed to see you. Because I’ve missed you. Because I couldn’t not. “I need a best man for my wedding, and Macy thought you’d be a good choice.”

A bitter laugh burst out of Devon at that. “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”

Hunter turned away, staring out the windows as the car picked up speed and merged onto the highway. He imagined the vehicles whizzing by crashing into each other and piling up. He still had nightmares that looked like that.

“You’re serious? The girl you’re marrying wanted you to come find me to be your best man?”

He swallowed past the tightness in his throat. “She heard we were close.”

“That’s one way of putting it,” Devon muttered.

“She doesn’t know that stuff.” He shifted in his seat. “No one does.”

“I’m surprised you’re even admitting there was stuff. I figured all of that would’ve been obliterated in that convenient memory loss the accident caused.”

Memory loss? Hunter wished. “I didn’t forget.”

Dev’s jaw twitched. “So you’re telling me you came all the way out here after four years of not speaking to me to ask me to be in your wedding? That’s bullshit. And if it’s not bullshit, then you’re an even bigger asshole than I thought.”

“I don’t want you to be in my goddamned wedding. I just—I was here. I thought I’d come to see you.” He hated the way his voice sounded—seeking, defensive. 

Devon’s fingers flexed on the steering wheel, restrained anger evident in each curl of his hand. “Is this like the AA thing where you go say sorry to everyone you pissed off before you move forward? Tie up everything in neat bows before you walk down the aisle and into happily every after?”

“What? No.” He took off his cap and raked a hand through his hair. 

“Or maybe you just need one more time with a guy before the big day just to make sure any of those rogue gay urges are fully out of your system.”

He stiffened at the stinging tone and suggestion. “No, I—fuck, never mind.” He slouched in his too small seat, pulling his hat low over his eyes, and glared out the window. “Just get me to the resort. I shouldn’t have shown up tonight. This was a mistake.”

“Heh.” Devon sniffed. “You seem to make those a lot around me. Guess some things haven’t changed.”

Hunter leaned his head back against the seat and closed his eyes, remembering the last time he’d uttered that same phrase. No, some things hadn’t changed.

Everything had. All in one night.

And nothing had been the same since.

 

*Coming June 16th and only $2.99 on pre-order! Kindle | Nook | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play

 

Who's ready? :)

 

 

Thursday
May072015

In Which I (& a homemade selfie stick) Demo a BLT Salad from Brenda Novak's Love That! Cookbook

This past weekend I participated in a FB celebration of Brenda Novak's Love That ! Cookbook. This is part of the big charity project for diabetes research. So along with the boxed sets, including the SWEET SEDUCTION boxed set with my story WANDERLUST in it, there is also a fantastic cookbook. ALL proceeed from the boxed set and this cookbook go to charity. :)

And as part of teh celbration, I was asked to demo a recipe of my choosing from the book. It's a beautiful cookbook and I had a hard time choosing because I love to cook, but decided to go with one of my favorte things--salad.

Here are the posts from the facebook event. Just me and my makeshift selfie stick. The recipe was really tasty and easy. Let me know if you try it! 

BACON LETTUCE AND TOMATO SALAD from Brenda Novak's LOVE THAT! Cookbook

 

First, I’d like to preface this by saying that this weekend my husband and kidlet are out of town at the NASCAR race in Talledega. This means mommy got the weekend to herself, which is great—until I realized I was supposed to demo this recipe with pictures and had no one to take pictures, lol. So guess what makes a great selfie stick? A kid’s golf club, a big rubber band, and my phone. : ) You do what you gotta do right? I figure MacGyver would’ve been proud. 

So I chose the Bacon Lettuce Tomato salad because there’s nothing easier to make at home when I’m flying solo than a yummy salad. And I happened to have all these ingredients on hand, which is nice because you can throw it together very easily. Plus, it has two of my favorite things: avocado and bacon!

Ingredients: Bacon, Lettuce, Tomatoes, Avocado, fresh basil, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil

So here we go:

1. First I grabbed some fresh basil from the little garden I started this spring since the dressing called for basil. You could probably put any herb you want in the dressing. Cilantro would be yummy. Or even use dried herbs if you’re in a pinch.

 

 

 

 

2. Then I got all of my stuff ready to go. I think chefs call it mise en place. I love to cook and I’m usually excellent at doing this part—organizing upfront. But then my husband will tell you that afterwards, all goes to hell because then it’s like the Tasmanian devil once the cooking starts. It’s not uncommon for me to cover every surface in the kitchen before I’m done, lol. 

 

 

 

3. I washed and dried my lettuce in the salad spinner. You want to make sure it’s mostly dry so the dressing will stick. And I used baby red lettuce because that’s what came in my produce co-op share this week. But any lettuce you like would work.


 

4. Chop all your good stuff up.
 

5. Put everything but the dressing in a bowl.


6. Mix your dressing ingredients together. My tip for that is if you have a mason jar (or tupperware container), dump everything in there, pop the lid on tight, and just shake it up (bonus points if you sing the Taylor Swift song while doing it). I find it quicker and cleaner than bothering with a bowl and a whisk. And if you have leftovers, it’s easy to store.


7. Pour your dressing on. (And applaud me for managing a selfie WHILE pouring dressing. ;) )


8. EAT! :) It was delish.


If you'd like to buy the cookbook and/or one of the boxed sets, get them now because they'll only be avaialble for a short time! : )

Kindle | B&N | iBooks| Kobo | Google Play 

 

 

Saturday
May022015

The SWEET SEDUCTION charity boxed set is here! 

 

Make a difference while you read!

Have I told you about the new fundraising initiative I'm involved in this year? I've contributed a BRAND NEW story called WANDERLUST (a rockstar romance with a cameo from Pike!) to SWEET SEDUCTION, a limited edition digital-only boxed set curated by Brenda Novak for the benefit of diabetes research. It includes nine other never-before-published novels and novellas and costs only $9.99 (that's less than $1/story).  

Who else is in the set? Fellow New York Times Bestselling Authors Mari Carr, JS Cooper, Nicole Edwards, Karen Erickson, Megan Hart, Julia Kent, Lauren Hawkeye, Nina Lane, Lexi Blake, author J. Kenner, Elisabeth Grace and Avery Aster are all participating in this effort, too. And there's a foreword and free bonus story from New York Times Bestselling Author Lisa Renee Jones. SWEET SEDUCTION is on sale now, it'll only be available through June 30th. All proceeds will go to The Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami (they are doing some amazing cure-focused work). Our goal is to raise $300,000 and, with your help, we should be able to do it.  

Please note that Brenda has also curated a thriller box set as well as a contemporary romance box set, so check those out, too. You can find more information at http://brendanovakforthecure.org  

Pick up your copy now!

Amazon | B&N | Apple | Kobo | Google

 

And here's a little about my story WANDERLUST:

Restaurant critic Aubrey Bordelon’s wild streak died ten years ago when a terrible accident changed everything. Since that moment, Aubrey hasn’t nudged a toe in an errant direction. She excels at her job with the local magazine, plays southern debutante for her politico parents, and keeps her dance card clear of messy relationships. So when Aubrey’s boss asks her to fill in for the magazine’s high-profile music reporter, she’s up for the challenge. Compared to egomaniacal chefs, handling a few self-indulgent rockstars should be cake—even if the wicked grin of Wanderlust's lead singer has her scruples sneaking toward the backstage door.

Lex Logan escapes to New Orleans as a last resort. His song-writing muse has disappeared on a bender. His band members are fighting like alcoholics over the last bottle of vodka. And everyone’s looking to him to play savior before the record label dumps them on their sorry asses. The last thing Lex needs is some haughty, albeit sexy, reporter documenting his downfall. He has to shake her off the story—fast. If she wants a peek into the rock ‘n’ roll life, then he’s going to give it to her. Unedited. But in his attempts to scare her away, Lex catches a glimpse of the passionate woman hiding behind the polished façade. And just one taste is enough to alter his plans from chasing her out of his life to coaxing her into his bed.

 

If you pick a copy up, be sure to let me know what you think or leave a review out there! : ) Have a great weekend!

  

Tuesday
Apr212015

NICE GIRLS DON'T RIDE is out today & only $1.99! (+ WIN $25 GC!)

Hot biker? Check.

Cupcakes? Check.

The lovely and weird city of Austin? Check.

One long, sexy night where anything goes? Hell, yes.

It's release day, y'all! NICE GIRLS DON'T RIDE is my first official New Adult release. Need a quick, sexy, fun read? Here's a little bit about it:

 

In this erotically charged novella by the New York Times bestselling author of Call on Me, Nothing Between Us, and Not Until You two strangers take an asphalt-burning ride into the wildest night of their lives...

Natalie Bourne thinks she has the perfect night planned for her twenty-first birthday. But when her car breaks down and her boyfriend bails on her, she's left stranded in an auto shop dealing with a way too cocky, way too hot mechanic, who seems to be intent on pushing every button she has.

Monroe Hawkins knows he shouldn't be messing with a girl from the uppity private college. Especially when he can tell she sees him as the help. But he's having trouble resisting the redhead with the smart mouth and the killer legs. So when Natalie's night goes from bad to worse, there's no way he's letting her spend her birthday alone. He makes her a deal--he'll take her home but not until the sun comes up.

Ten hours, one motorcycle, and the city of Austin at their fingertips...things are about to take a major detour. And soon, there may be no U-turn in sight.
 

Get it for only $1.99!

Nook

Kindle | Kindle UK 

Kobo

Apple/iTunes

Google Play

 

WIN a $25 gift card for books! (Enter below) There's also a special contest for newsletter subscribers to win an ARC of CALL ON ME (Pike's book), so be sure to check your inbox if you subscribe!

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Excerpt:


Copyrighted Material Roni Loren 2015 - All Rights Reserved Berkley Publishing Group

Chapter 1

Natalie

Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday, dear . . .

I groan and lean back against the guardrail, shielding my eyes from the piercing sunlight. How exactly should I finish that?

Girl who currently smells like sweat and roadkill?

Girl about to go broke paying for this mess?

Girl whose boyfriend will not answer his goddamned phone?

My fingers move over the screen as I text Caleb again. Where r u???

I stare at my phone, willing a response out of it, but the screen goes black before there’s any answering ding. Caleb had warned me that he was going to be cutting it close for our date tonight. And I know his internship at the local campaign office sometimes runs late when they’re prepping for a rally, but he should be out by now.

My fingers move over the screen again. R U secretly Superman in ur off hours? Come on, u can tell me. If ur saving the world, I’ll understand.

Of course, there’s still no response. And now my neck is prickling with not just sweat but anxiety. What if something happened to him? What if he was in an accident? What if—?

I stop myself before the thoughts spiral, closing my eyes and taking a deep breath. Cool it, Nat. But that little exercise only gets me a lungful of the dead skunk that’s roasting in the heat a few yards away from me on the side of the highway. Blech. I press my fingers over my mouth, fighting a wave of nausea.

I check the clock on my phone for what seems like the hundredth time. The roadside-assistance lady said they would contact a local garage and get me a tow right away. But it’s been over an hour, and the only cars that have passed by have either ignored me or sent catcalls flying my way. Because, of course, my piece-of-crap car had to break down when I’m all dressed up in a low-cut dress and heels for my birthday dinner. Yay for timing.

One guy had at least offered to help and had seemed nice enough, but I’ve seen how those horror movies end. Girl on the side of the road accepts help from a seemingly harmless stranger, only to have her organs carved out later that night. No, thanks.

A grinding of tires on gravel draws my attention upward. A black tow truck rolls past me on the road and pulls to the side, sending a cloud of dust in its wake. I keep my phone clutched in my hand, quickly check the can of Mace in my purse, and then push off the guardrail. The side of the truck says Billy’s Custom Cycles and Auto Repair. There’s a tattoo-style logo of a motorcycle on fire, and I know that it’s definitely not the name of the repair shop the roadside assistance service gave me. It had been some big chain—AutoPlus or something like that. A little shimmer of nerves goes through me and I stop where I am, my heels sinking into the gravel.

The front door of the tow truck opens and a tattooed arm appears before anything else. For some reason, my eyes lock onto pieces of the man instead of the whole—like I can’t handle the entire view quite yet, only snapshots. That muscular arm as the driver slides out of the truck. The worn black motorcycle boots that hit the ground. I force myself to look up, tracking along the faded jeans and fitted black T-shirt, until I collide with a dark blue gaze.

“Looks like you need a ride.”

The deep voice startles me for a second and snaps me back into the moment like a slingshot. Ping! Pay attention, Nat. Now is not the time to let my guard down. “No, thank you, I don’t. I already have another shop on the way.”

His gaze tracks over my dusty dress, slow and lazy like, before he lifts a dark brow. “How long have you been waiting? It’s pretty hot out here.”

The once-over makes me more than a little self-conscious. He can’t be all that much older than me, early twenties for sure, but something about him is intimidating as hell. “I don’t know. Not long. I’m sure they’ll be here any second.”

He crosses his arms over his chest and eyes my car, which has chosen this moment to start smoking from under the hood—as if it senses help in its midst and is crying out for it. “What shop is coming?”

I brush at the skirt of my dress, trying to give my nervous hands something to do. I don’t want to look worried or scared or show him that I’m melting in this brutal Texas heat. “AutoPlus, AutoMart . . .”

He scowls. “Autoland.”

“That’s it.”

“You might as well set up a tent then. They take forever to get to calls, and they’ll charge you twice as much as we would. Plus, they close at six. They’re just going to tow you in and then lock up for the night.”

“Says the guy who wants to make a buck on a girl stranded on the side of the road.”

The corner of his mouth lifts. “Hey, princess, I’m just trying to be a nice guy and get you to your”—he looks me up and down again—“sorority party on time. I get paid the same either way.”

Princess? Sorority party? My eyes narrow and I give him my own head-to-toe look, taking in the messy dark hair, the tattoos, the heavy boots, the finely shaped . . . I snatch the thought back before I can go there. “Look, Son of Anarchy, I appreciate the nice guyoffer, but how do I even know you’re legit?”

He snorts. “You think I drive a tow truck around for fun? Call the number on the side of the truck if you want. But otherwise, I’ve got better stuff to do than stand here in the heat, smelling roadkill. Two minutes, princess. I’ll be in the truck. You want a tow and a ride? You get in. If not, good luck with Autoland.”

He turns to go, and I feel a little dart of panic at being left alone again—even if he’s not exactly the company I want. This isn’t the best part of Austin, and the sun is on its way down. “Wait, what’s your name? You know, so I can verify.”

He doesn’t turn around but calls back. “Monroe.”

I dial the number to the shop and, of course, they verify that Monroe works for them and is driving the truck today. The guy on the phone sounds amused by my questions. And his reaction makes me realize that I’m being paranoid, that my nerves are officially frayed, and it’s making me act like a bitch. I thank the guy on the phone, hang up, and take a steadying breath. This is going to be okay. Not everyone is out to take advantage. Some people actually do things to be helpful without ulterior motives.

My mother would laugh her ass off at that logic. Everybody’s got an agenda, Nattie.

I straighten the neckline of my dress, hike my purse up my shoulder, and walk over to the tow truck with as much dignity as I can muster for a sweaty girl in a dusty dress. Monroe hasn’t climbed back into the cab, but is instead leaning against the front bumper and watching the cars zoom by on the overpass up ahead. He doesn’t look my way. “Verified that I’m not a serial killer?”

“Verified that you work for Billy’s. The serial-killer part is yet to be determined.”

He smiles out at the horizon. “Want to check the backseat for weapons or body parts?”

“I have a feeling you’d be too sneaky to leave such obvious evidence lying around. And if you aren’t that clever, I’m going to be seriously disappointed in myself if I fall victim to a dumb serial killer.”

He chuckles and it changes his whole face, warming it. When he turns his head, his blue eyes meet mine and my stomach tightens a little. I do my best not to let my reaction show on my face. Last thing I need is him thinking that I’m interested in him. Because, of course, I’m not. I’m totally not. If there’s an opposite of my type, it’s this guy. And plus, I have Caleb. Cute, smart, on-his-way-to-big-things Caleb.

Caleb, who won’t answer his goddamned phone.

Monroe pushes himself off the bumper. “I’m not sure if that’s a compliment or an insult, princess, but I’ll take it you’re going to ride with me.”

“Yes. But only because I can’t handle the dead-skunk smell for another minute.”

“I’m preferable to skunk guts? The flattery just rolls off you, doesn’t it?”

The jab lands squarely. I press my fingers to the space between my eyes and rub. “Sorry. I’m really not trying to be a bitch.”

“It just comes natural, then?”

My eyes snap open and I’m ready to hurl an insult back, but I find him wearing a playful grin and clamp my lips shut.

He angles a thumb toward the truck. “Get in . . .”

“Natalie,” I supply.

“Natalie. And kick the A/C on. Getting your car hooked up is gonna take a few minutes. You may want to call someone for a ride, too, because there’s no guarantee we can get this fixed tonight. I’m assuming you have plans.”

I glance down at my outfit, suddenly self-conscious about the sexy getup. It’s not my typical style, but tonight was supposed to be special, and I had wanted to knock Caleb on his butt. He’s been so wrapped up in work and school lately that I’ve felt a little like furniture. So I borrowed my roommate’s dress with its plunging neckline and treated myself to the new risqué lingerie I’m wearing beneath. I’m not exactly Ms. Vixen normally, so Caleb would’ve never seen it coming. Now it’s all a waste.

“I have a date with my boyfriend,” I say to Monroe.

“Right. So, he can pick you up?”

“He’s not answering his phone. But I’m sure I’ll get him soon.”

Monroe makes some noncommittal noise and nods. “I’m going to get to work. You go and cool off. There’s bottled water in the ice chest in the backseat.”

“Thanks.”

Before getting in the truck, I find myself watching Monroe walk back toward my car. He’s easily over six feet tall but doesn’t move in that awkward, hunched way that most of the taller guys on campus move. There’s an easy confidence to him, like he’s fully grown into his body and taken ownership—a man’s walk. My eyes follow him as he pops the hood of my car and leans over. The hem of his shirt lifts as he bends, exposing a strip of tanned, muscular lower back. I find myself wondering what it would feel like beneath my fingers and if he has any more ink hidden under there . . . I force my eyes away.

What the hell is wrong with me? I don’t have random illicit thoughts about complete strangers. Especially not strangers who have tattoos and call me princess.

I shake my head and pull open the door on the passenger side. Maybe I have heatstroke or something.

I lay my head back against the seat and close my eyes. But all I can see is the image of my new mechanic pulling his shirt all the way off, sweat dripping off him, me putting my hands . . .

I sit straight up.

Yep, definitely heatstroke. Has to be.

 

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