Review: Dangerous Concoctions by Victoria Bright

Dangerous Concoctions CoverTitle: Dangerous Concoctions (Curvy Assignments #2)
Author: Victoria Bright
Release Date: July 9th 2015
Publisher: Booktrope Entice
Genre: Adult/Contemporary Romance/Suspense
Source: Author
Format: eARC
Rating: 4 stars

Mixing the past and present could have dangerous consequences…

I’ve always been a man of second chances, forgiving Arianna proved that. Sometimes, a second opportunity was all someone needed to do things right. I knew that better than anyone. Now that I had my girl back and business was prospering, things were finally falling into place. Little did I know, my newfound happiness wouldn’t last very long.

When a man responsible for my near demise resurfaces, my life is shaken up once again. What seemed like an innocent, harmless favor quickly turned out to be a malicious scheme that put my business, relationship, and freedom at risk.

With time running out, I race around the city piecing together the complicated puzzle I was a part of, only to come face to face with the men responsible. In this erotic suspense, will my past repeat itself in order to settle a score or am I doomed to take the fall for something I didn’t do?

Dangerous Concoctions is definitely one of a kind and totally unexpected!

(Or probably because I didn’t read the synopsis and jump straight to reading it!)

Let me introduce Zane, (and I quote) the ‘Poster Child of Second Chances’. I have rarely, or almost never, read about any characters who is first of all, a chef and second of all, able to forgive an ex.

Of course, it’s not just the part where he is able to forgive his ex, but for many things, he doesn’t hold grudges and always gives people a second chance. Out of so many things I love about Zane, this is definitely one of them!

For the longest time, I couldn’t understand why Kelsey hated Arianna so much. Okay, well, I do. Arianna lied about everything to her brother, Zane. It’s only until the point where the happenings between Arianna and Zane was revealed through Kelsey’s conversation with her brother, then I understood why.

Despite Kelsey’s hatred, I honestly think she’s a really cool and feisty character! I’m definitely looking forward to reading any novels about her and it would be even more entertaining if she could have some sort of revenge!

When I read about Arianna, I actually love how strong she is! Desperate times drove her to desperate measures and although the sting of the betrayal hurts for Zane, she still loves him. Just because of her love, she had to withstand so many instances of having her hear broken.

When all was well, hell broke loose and okay, so was my feels!

I guess the saying, “some people never change”, is true in this case. Jericho is an ass and a betrayal till the end of time.

Well-developed characters, amazing writing and story, plot twists out of nowhere to add onto the suspense…what more could you ask for?!

Highly recommended for all readers!

*Thank you to the author for providing me with an eARC in exchange for a honest review.

Amazon

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Release Blitz: SOFIA by Melissa Jane (Excerpt + Teasers!)

Hey bookie monsters! Welcome to the release blitz for SOFIA by Melissa Jane!

Check out an exclusive excerpt for the fourth novel in the BITTERSWEET series!

Sofia Cover

SOFIA (Bittersweet Familia #4)
Genres: Dark Romance/Suspense
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

Everyone has a story.

For Marcela Ortiz, hers is not one she wants to remember.
Deceived by those closest to her, Marcela is thrown deep into a world of violence, corruption and trafficking. The dark, sinister world belonging to one Hector Florez, Mexico’s leading cartel boss.

What he wants is control.

What she craves is her freedom.

To survive, Marcela must overcome the demons who promise to destroy her and challenge fate to a story she has only dreamed of.
SOFIA, the final instalment of the Bittersweet series is built on heartache, revenge and redemption.
One unlikely group of people.
One common enemy.
Many stories.

Goodreads

EXCERPT

“I was a fool tonight,” Xavier began, causing me to frown at him in confusion.

“How so?”

“I should have kissed you on the dance floor. That way I would’ve had a whole night of tasting you.”

I didn’t know what to say, the breath had been sucked clean from me. His delicious lips hovered next to mine, a magnetic pull between us becoming too hard to bear.

“I can’t wait any longer,” he whispered.

“I don’t want you to wait.” A tingling sensation roared through my body and I knew I wanted this more than anything. He answered my silent pleas by pulling me against his hard body and lowering his lips to graze mine. It was a tease. A small taster of things to come. But I was already weak at the knees.  I wanted him to possess me. His hands formed tighter fists in my hair, his hooded eyes telling me he could wait no longer. Xavier’s lips came crashing onto mine, claiming the last of my strength. I melted into him, responding to his tongue while failing to disguise the gentle moan passing between us. It was everything I had fantasized it to be. It was everything I had craved. He tasted sweet from sugary mojito’s, his passion a fury that couldn’t be tamed.

TEASERS

SOFIA Teaser 1 SOFIA Teaser 2

SOFIA Teaser 3

~~~ OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES ~~~

 

Bittersweet Series Sales

LITTLE DOLL (Bittersweet Duet #1)

Amazon | B&N | Kobo

CRIMSON DESERT (Bittersweet Duet #2)

Amazon | B&N | Kobo

LAUGHING EYES (Bittersweet Familia #3)

Amazon | B&N | Kobo

 

Find Melissa on: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Release Blitz: Twisted Bond by Emma Hart (Excerpt + Teasers)

Twisted Bond RB Banner

Hey bookies! Twisted Bond is now live!

Check out the teasers and excerpt below!

(If you want to see more teasers, do check it out on the blog FB page!)

Twisted Bond Cover

Title: Twisted Bond (The Holly Woods Files #1)
Author: Emma Hart
Purchase Links: Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | B&N

I’m an Italian-Texan woman in a family full of cops. I’m passionate and shoot before I think. You only f*ck with me if you’re stupid.

Photograph cheating spouses. Hand over the evidence. Cash my check.

That was my plan when I returned home to Holly Woods, Texas, and became a private investigator.

Finding the dead body in my dumpster? Yeah… Given the choice, I think I would have opted out of that little discovery, especially since all three of my brothers are cops. And my Italian grandmother is sure the reason I’m single is because of my job.

Of course, my connection to the victim is entirely coincidental. Until I’m hired by her husband to investigate her murder and shoved bang-smack into the path of Detective Drake Nash.

My nemesis, a persistent pain in my ass, and one hell of a sexy son of a bitch.

Shame he still holds a grudge from that time I shot him in the foot twelve years ago, or we could have something. In another life.

So now all I have to do is avoid my nonna’s blind dates, try not to blackmail my brothers into giving me confidential police files, and absolutely do not point my gun at Drake Nash. Or kiss him. Or jump his bones.

All while I hunt down the killer.

Sounds totally simple—until a second body proves that sometimes things that start as coincidences don’t always end up that way…

(Twisted Bond is book one of the Holly Woods Files series and while it does not end in a cliffhanger, it is not a standalone.)

Goodreads

TEASERS

Twisted Bond Teaser 1 Twisted Bond Teaser 3 Twisted Bond Teaser 2

EXCERPT

“Why are you here?”

He pulls his ear defenders down. “Out here?”

“Here.” I yank off my ear defenders. “At my parents’ for family dinner. Out here, bugging me. Take your pick. I’ll take a reason for either.”

“Your nonna appears to have taken a real good likin’ to me. If I didn’t know better, I’d say she’s tryna set us up.”

“Clearly, she’s losin’ her mind,” I snap, reloading my gun again before tucking it back into my boot. I fold my arms and meet his eyes. “And out here? Why are you here?”

Nothing. Just silence. Just those goddamned beautiful eyes boring into mine.

“No? Okay.” I walk past him, pushing hair from my face.

“Don’t go out with him again.” His arm shoots out to stop me, and his words hit me hard. “Gio.”

“Since when has it been any of your business what I do?” I face him, narrowing my eyes as our gazes collide. “Last I checked, I’m a single, grown woman, and if I want to go out with someone, I will.”

“He’s not the kind of guy you need.”

“Neither are you,” I reply, running my eyes down his white shirt, which is untucked over his dark-blue jeans. The bottom of his shirt is gaping, allowing me a view of a triangle of tan skin with a smattering of dark hair. I linger there for a moment before pulling my gaze back up. “Yet here we are, having this conversation, you thinkin’ you know what’s best for me.”

About the author:

Emma HartBy day, New York Times and USA Today bestselling New Adult author Emma Hart dons a cape and calls herself Super Mum to two beautiful little monsters. By night, she drops the cape, pours a glass of whatever she fancies – usually wine – and writes books.

Emma is working on Top Secret projects she will share with her followers and fans at every available opportunity. Naturally, all Top Secret projects involve a dashingly hot guy who likes to forget to wear a shirt, a sprinkling (or several) of hold-onto-your-panties hot scenes, and a whole lotta love.

She likes to be busy – unless busy involves doing the dishes, but that seems to be when all the ideas come to life.

Find her on: Newsletter | Amazon Author Page | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads 

Review: HIS Choice by Sheila Kell

HIS Choice CoverTitle: HIS Choice (H.I.S. #2)
Author: Sheila Kell
Release date: May 15th 2015
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Adult/Contemporary Romance/Suspense
Source: Author
Format: eARC
Rating: 5 stars

*Thank you to the author for providing me with an eARC in exchange for a honest review.

AJ Hamilton never expected his life to spiral so low. Tangled up with Baltimore’s largest crime boss, The Magician, he is ordered to threaten a bothersome reporter. His attraction to Megan Rogers was as unexpected as was their heated encounter. AJ tries to warn her off. When she doesn’t heed his advice, he’s forced to protect her from herself. After witnessing something that puts their lives in danger, he kidnaps her.

When AJ saves Megan from the clutches of certain death, they must go on the run to stay alive. Tensions are high and their passions flare as they fight to stay one step ahead of The Magician. As they put their plan to expose him into action, AJ is forced to make a choice. But no matter the option he chooses, he may not be able to protect her or their hearts.

**HIS Choice is book #2 in the H.I.S. series and is a standalone**

TWO THINGS.

Firstly…

THIS IS DEFINITELY WORTH MORE THAN 5 STARS! No amount of stars or ratings can do HIS Choice justice!

The plot and characters are very well-developed, the pace is steady and those few twists at the end makes this one of the best read I ever had!

Secondly…I. AM. IN. LOVE. WITH. THE. HAMILTON. BROTHERS.

See, I haven’t read HIS Desire, the first H.I.S. novel, yet I am already in love with Jesse and Kate! Not to mention the rest of the Hamilton brothers!

Exactly how did this happen my fellow bookies?

SHEILA KELL HAPPENED.

Although AJ and Megan are the main characters, Sheila Kell managed to bring the other characters to life even if they just appeared nearing to the end of the novel!

ONE WORD. AMAZING.

Now, let me introduce AJ and Megan.

AJ Hamilton is this smoking hot man and practically oozing-with-sexiness everywhere on his body (or maybe god sounds better?) and Megan Rogers is this feisty woman who knows no bounds of danger when she has her head zeroed in on something and give it all her best to accomplish it!

Their first encounter is actually pretty unique and WAY. TOO. HOT.

Lets not forget how interesting it was!

The interaction between Megan and AJ is simply too humorous! Megan is not just your typical feisty heroine, but quite a hot-headed and determined one! She definitely puts AJ in line…or probably gives him loads of trouble when he is trying to keep her safe!

Despite all these, they are attracted to each other and can I just say how much my heart cried for them?! Especially nearing the last quarter of this novel?

(I think the words I am looking for are painful and heart-wrenching?!)

Another interesting thing is that…ONE OF THE MOST UNEXPECTED PERSON ACTUALLY IS THE MAGICIAN THAT IS TRYING TO KILL MEGAN AND AJ?

(Honestly, I thought it was another person because it was so suspicious!)

Highly recommended for all readers to read this and if possible, read HIS Desire first otherwise you’ll be just like me, totally regretting not reading the first BECAUSE THE H.I.S. SERIES IS JUST TOO GOOD!

Blog Tour: White Rabbit by J.D. Sloane (Review + Teasers)

WHITE RABBIT BANNER

Hello fellow bookie monsters! Today is one exciting day!

It’s the blog tour for a recent favourite read of mine! Check out the teasers and my review below!

(WARNING: This is a dark thriller!)

WHITE RABBIT COVERTitle: White Rabbit
Author: J.D. Sloane
Genres:  Adult/Dark Erotica
Release Date: November 4th 2014
Purchase Links: Amazon | KOBO | B&N

When Brooke Avery became lawyer to one of the most notorious criminals in the city, she knew how dangerous he was. She knew all about his charm, his brutality, his infamous reputation with women.
What she didn’t know is how much her obsession would end up costing her, or how their strange, violent relationship would ignite the entire city…

“You are very beautiful, Brooke,” he said, his voice low, and Brooke felt herself blushing beneath the weight of his stare. She pulled her skirt down and then unfolded her legs completely while he watched her with a bemused expression on his face.

“Tell me, does your firm often send you out to the wolves like this? All alone?”
“Sometimes. Usually on the initial interview.”
Ronan tilted his head and looked at her, the shadows from the overhead lights making his eyes seem enormous and frightening.

“It seems strange, for a woman. Almost masochistic. Do you like dangerous men? Do you like them looking at you, at your body? Wondering what they might do, what they might be capable of, if you turned your back on them for just. One. Instant?”

Welcome to Wonderland…

***explores themes of dark sexuality, violence and dubious consent***

Goodreads

TEASERS

 WHITE RABBIT TEASER 2

WHITE RABBIT TEASER 1

WHITE RABBIT TEASER 3

REVIEW

When Monsters in the Dark series’ Q Mercer meets Retribution’s Braxton Alexander…

White Rabbit is one of the darkest and most unpredictable erotic romance thriller that will leave you guessing and holding your breath through the pages!

(Or you could just go crazy trying to figure out Brooke and Ronan!)

That was what happened to me. Literally.

White Rabbit is so unpredictable, not just because of the story plot itself, but the main twists were in the characters!

CHARACTER TWISTS ARE EVERYWHERE!

Usually, in a dark erotica novel, the hot guys are usually twisted and sexy but let me just say that, Ronan White takes this whole twisted-and-sexy thing to a whole new level! He is almost a complete sociopath BUT HE IS AN EXTREMELY HOT ONE!

(Not mention sexy!)

Brooke is almost as twisted as Ronan, her background probably played a key factor in influencing her, but she is definitely one of the most original character I have ever read about!

(Which is probably why Brooke and Ronan make such a twisted yet wicked pair!)

Honestly, both of them are broken on so many levels, which might just be the reason why only the two of them can understand and give each other what they want, what they need.

(Can I just say there are so many things in White Rabbit that are dark, wrong, twisted and all kinds of dark thoughts but I actually love it?!)

I have read many dark romance or eroticas but White Rabbit introduce a whole new sexy twist to the genre!

Highly recommended for readers who love dark and twisted romance thrillers with suspense!

 

About the author:

Not really sure what to write here. A lot of writers will tell you that they’ve been writing their whole lives, and I’m no different. But what that won’t tell you is that they don’t just want to write- they have to. It’s like a compulsion. Essentially, you spend a huge chunk of your life trying to bring to life people who only exist in your mind. So, in that sense, the only thing that really separates writers from other crazy people is some kind of keyboard.

I live in Michigan with my husband, who is my love and my soul mate, and the two feral alley cats we took in as kittens. We kind of think of them as the Duke boys, and our house operates as their own, personal Hazzard county.

One of the quotes I’ve always liked is: “Only trust someone who can see these three things in you: The sorrow behind your smile, the love behind your anger and the reason behind your silence.” I try to integrate that idea into my stories as much as I can. But my favorite quote is attributed to 13th century Persian philosopher Rumi- “What you seek is seeking you.” I love the idea that whatever you long for in life is out there somewhere longing for you.

Finally, for those who read my work and find it a little too dark or violent or twisted, I can only tell you something that was once told to me. That there’s a dark lake inside of every one of us. And if you don’t go and visit it once in a while, whatever’s down there will come up to find you. I write to visit the lake…

Find J.D. on: Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon

Thanks to A & L Promotions for organising this blog tour!

A & L Book Promotions

Review: White Rabbit by J.D. Sloane

WHITE RABBIT COVERTitle: White Rabbit
Author: J.D. Sloane
Release Date: November 4th 2014
Publisher:  BookBaby
Genres:  Adult/Dark Erotica
Source: Author
Format: eARC
Rating: 4 stars

*Thank you to the author for providing me with an eARC in exchange for a honest review.

When Brooke Avery became lawyer to one of the most notorious criminals in the city, she knew how dangerous he was. She knew all about his charm, his brutality, his infamous reputation with women.
What she didn’t know is how much her obsession would end up costing her, or how their strange, violent relationship would ignite the entire city…

“You are very beautiful, Brooke,” he said, his voice low, and Brooke felt herself blushing beneath the weight of his stare. She pulled her skirt down and then unfolded her legs completely while he watched her with a bemused expression on his face.

“Tell me, does your firm often send you out to the wolves like this? All alone?”
“Sometimes. Usually on the initial interview.”
Ronan tilted his head and looked at her, the shadows from the overhead lights making his eyes seem enormous and frightening.

“It seems strange, for a woman. Almost masochistic. Do you like dangerous men? Do you like them looking at you, at your body? Wondering what they might do, what they might be capable of, if you turned your back on them for just. One. Instant?”

Welcome to Wonderland…

***explores themes of dark sexuality, violence and dubious consent***

When Monsters in the Dark series’ Q Mercer meets Retribution’s Braxton Alexander…

White Rabbit is one of the darkest and most unpredictable erotic romance thriller that will leave you guessing and holding your breath through the pages!

(Or you could just go crazy trying to figure out Brooke and Ronan!)

That was what happened to me. Literally.

White Rabbit is so unpredictable, not just because of the story plot itself, but the main twists were in the characters!

CHARACTER TWISTS ARE EVERYWHERE!

Usually, in a dark erotica novel, the hot guys are usually twisted and sexy but let me just say that, Ronan White takes this whole twisted-and-sexy thing to a whole new level! He is almost a complete sociopath BUT HE IS AN EXTREMELY HOT ONE!

(Not mention sexy!)

Brooke is almost as twisted as Ronan, her background probably played a key factor in influencing her, but she is definitely one of the most original character I have ever read about!

(Which is probably why Brooke and Ronan make such a twisted yet wicked pair!)

Honestly, both of them are broken on so many levels, which might just be the reason why only the two of them can understand and give each other what they want, what they need.

(Can I just say there are so many things in White Rabbit that are dark, wrong, twisted and all kinds of dark thoughts but I actually love it?!)

I have read many dark romance or eroticas but White Rabbit introduce a whole new sexy twist to the genre!

Highly recommended for readers who love dark and twisted romance thrillers with suspense!

Book Blitz: Breaking Away Series by Meli Raine (Excerpt + Giveaway!)

Breaking Away Blitz Banner
Welcome to the book blitz for the Breaking Away Series by Meli Raine! Check out the excerpt and giveaway below!
          Finding AllieChasing AllieKeeping Allie
Breaking Away Series by Meli Raine  (Breaking Away #1-3)
Release Date: March 2015
Genres: New Adult, Romance, Suspense

Finding Allie (Breaking Away #1)
Chase Halloway’s father is the president of Atlas, the drug dealing motorcycle gang that terrorizes most of our desert town.
My stepfather turns out to be a rival drug dealer, and I’m pretty sure he killed my mom two years ago.
I’m not supposed to fall in love with Chase. He’s not supposed to know I even exist.
But when he finds me, he can’t let go.
And when I find myself in his arms?
I hold tight.
I have to.
Because if I don’t, I might just die.
With or without him.

Chasing Allie (Breaking Away #2)
It turns out my stepfather has plans for me.
Plans that make dying look like a walk in the park.
He’s selling my virginity to a Mexican drug lord to get out of debt.
Chase just found out and is here to take me away to safety. To the ocean. To my dreams.
But while I’m gone, a murder takes place back home.
I receive a phone call. It’s the police.
I’m the prime suspect.
And if I go back, I may become the prime victim.
They say love conquers all, but can Chase save me from this?

Keeping Allie (Breaking Away #3)
Help.
I’m alone, tied up, bleeding and terrified.
I’m a prisoner at the Atlas motorcycle club compound. Someone kidnapped me, and it looks like it’s Chase.
No one knows I’m here. Then again, I’m no one, right? No mother, no stepfather, and my sister may have been kidnapped, too
They can make me disappear. Or worse. It turns out there are worse things than disappearing.
I thought Chase was my only hope.
Now he turns out to be my worst nightmare.
Something flickers in his eyes, though. A glimmer of love. If I can get him alone, maybe I can convince him to let me go. To let me live.
To let me go back to a time when I thought he was a good guy.
Only Chase has the power to make that happen.
Everything I am is in his hands right now.
And those hands are about to touch me.

Goodreads
Purchase link (all 3 books in the series will be on sale for .99c):
Breaking Away Series
Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win:  
$25 Starbucks gift card OR
Signed copy of all 3 books in the Breaking Away series
EXCERPT
I feel the rumble of the motorcycle engines before I can hear them. The glasses on the bar start to shake and I slip, dropping one. It falls on the polished wood bar with a thud. Thank God it doesn’t shatter.And then I hear them. Tires scraping against gravel. Engines without mufflers. The air changes. I’m filled with worry, like someone’s injected it into me. I reach up to put my fingers against my throat. I don’t know why. I haven’t done that since I was a little kid, afraid of the dark.Just plain afraid.My stepfather comes running from the back office, his eyes wild and arms tight with tension. His face is twisted with something I’ve never seen before. For a second, it makes me want to smile. For once, he looks like he’s nervous about something.

Good.

“Allie, you stay calm. Keep washing glasses.” His dark eyes narrow and he goes back to being cool and collected. The deep grooves of wrinkles in his face settle back to normal. His eyes are thin and tight, brown underneath the loose skin.

He’s tall and wiry, fingers stained from chain smoking unfiltered Camels. He looks at least ten years older than he is. My mother’s death two years ago aged him. It aged me, too, but I wear it on the inside.

He wears it on his face.

Jeff has two emotions. Angry and neutral. I’ve seen a lot of angry, but not much neutral.

He looks like he feels fear right now. That’s new.

I push my long, black hair behind one ear. I wish I had a scrunchie to pull it back in a ponytail. August in the dry, desert heat of inland Southern California means it’s always hot. Any other summer and I’d be getting ready to go back to school, but I graduated this year. Late summer stretches out like one hot, empty void.

Like the rest of a life I need to live but can’t.The air conditioners have been groaning all day. The sound of the motorbikes drowns them out now.They are in the parking lot. Two. Three. Four. I can’t keep track of how many bikes pull up. My heartraces but I keep it together. The last time a motorcycle gang came in, the bar got trashed. They beat Jeff up and the sheriff came.

Jeff can’t afford to have that happen again.

Blood rushes through me, pulsing hard. My fear is loud and clear.

He also got angry. Very angry.

I can’t afford to have that happen again.

Working at the bar is my only way to save money to move out of this town. I want to go live with my sister in Los Angeles. If the bar shuts down I don’t know what I’ll do. My hands polish the same shot glass over and over, like it’s a piece of silver.

My heart dances in my chest. I look down at my t-shirt and see drops of sweat trickling down from my neck.

The air is not that hot. I’m nervous. Terrified.

One of the bikers roars his engine outside. Another one does the same. Jeff comes back out with his cell phone in hand and starts talking angrily to someone on the phone. He is careful not to say anything loud enough for me to understand. I can’t hear a word. I can hear his fury, though.

I finish the shot glasses and load them on the shelf where they go. I’m shaking from the inside.

The main door opens a tiny sliver. Blinding sunlight pours in like it’s invading.

And then he walks in through the door. The sunlight behind him is a halo, like he’s an angel. A rough one. The most amazing vision.

Thick, scuffed leather boots with hard wooden heels crack against the bare wood floor, one at a time.

My eyes start with that first boot. Then I see another. He wears jeans, the kind that are used to being on a motorcycle rider’s body. His pants mold to thick, muscled legs.

He wears a red and blue patch with an insignia I can’t see. Sunlight bounces off a thick belt buckle.

My blood runs cold and I freeze in place, my legs turning to jelly. I lean against the counter for support.

I’m glad it’s there. My fingers need something to grab. My world is disintegrating under me. Looking at him replaces the world.

He’s a member of a motorcycle club.

I gaze at the patch he’s wearing but I can’t see it very clearly. It has a blue figure with red crescents on both sides. A warm rush of blood fills my face. His thick leather jacket is dirty and well-worn, dark as my hair and creased with age. A light-blue T-shirt sticks to his belly, slick with sweat. I can see the ridges of his abs. My fingers want to reach out and trace the lines of his muscles. I clench my fists so I won’t give in to the impulse.

“Jeff here?” His first words sound like ragged smoke and sunshine. My eyes meet his and he stays serious. We look at each other and time stops. Just…stops. His eyes widen and his jaw tightens as he searches my body with a look that says something I don’t understand.

But he feels what I feel. I can tell.

Pinpricks of heat from something other than the summer weather shoot through me. He looks like he’s older than me, and he’s steady and commanding. His hair is thick, the color of sand, and it’s messy, like he just rolled out of bed. Wolfish eyes skim over me, but he’s not in a rush.

I can’t breathe. I can’t move. I can’t do anything when he’s looking at me like that.

Please keep looking at me like that.

“Cat got your tongue?” he asks, his lips curling up in a half smile. His cheek moves the lines around his eyes. Light brown eyes with yellow chips, like someone shattered a gemstone. His eyes are like a lion’s, the color of a mane.

His eyes are dangerous and predatory. I can’t look away.

“Uh, Jeff’s in the back,” I say as the door closes slowly behind him, blocking out most of the light. I’m amazed that my mouth works at all. My mind can’t think. My body sure can feel, though.

I pause. What if I said the wrong thing? Jeff might not want anyone to know he’s here.

Vroom! Vroom! Engines blare outside. There are even more out there now. How many could there be? The man’s eyes narrow. He’s studying me. I like it. I don’t think I’m supposed to like it.

I can’t help myself.

“What’s your name?” he asks, a low rumble in his voice making me shiver. I’m not cold.

“Allie.” I shift and jut out my chin to show him I’m not afraid of him. “What’s yours?”

His grin widens and now he takes one more step forward. I can smell him. His scent is sunshine and dust with enough musk to make me take another deep breath.

He smells so real.

“Chase.” His name rolls off his lips. “Nice to meet you, Allie.” He reaches one gloved hand out to shake, then stops.

Pulling the glove off, he waves his hand in the air. “Sweaty.”

I clasp it anyway. It’s hot and slick. The touch of skin on skin makes everything else in the world disappear. Our eyes meet and we can’t stop staring. Am I imagining this?

“Nice to meet you too, I guess.” I look behind him, at the door. “Why are you here?”

He laughs, tipping his head back. It makes him seem less dangerous. “For a drink! This is a bar, after all.”

I smile, unable to tear my eyes away from him.

He’s staring right back.

The engines all trickle to silence. Boots scrape outside on the mottled gravel parking lot. Are they coming in? My heart swells and slams against my ribcage. If trouble is coming, I don’t know what to do. I’ve never been here before during an actual fight.

“All of you coming in?” I ask. If they’re paying customers, then this is fine. Jeff acts like this isn’t fine, though.

“Allie!” Jeff shouts from the back. “Get back here.” That sounds like an order. Jeff likes to order me around.

Chase frowns. “He always talk to you like that?” His words come out like a growl.

Surprised, I give him confused look. “Like what?”

“Like he doesn’t have to be nice.” His voice pounds through me like a heartbeat. He is being possessive, like a protective boyfriend. I only just met him.

The words sting because Chase is right. I swallow hard. Chase’s eyes are combing my face as if he’s trying to memorize me. I look away even as I wish he would watch me forever.

Chase. I want to say his name aloud simply to hear it on my tongue. To feel it roll over my lips. If I say his name then he’s really here, he really shook my hand, and he really is looking at me like he wants to.

Like he needs to.“Whose stepdad is nice to them?” I ask lightly, like I’m trying to blow off the comment. This is too intense. Too unreal. He’s right, though. A little too right.Chase’s fingers twitch and then his hand forms a fist. He’s staring in the direction where Jeff’s voice came from. He looks back toward the door where he entered.“Good point,” he mutters, running his bare hand through that mop of hair. It makes him seem stronger. Darker. More in command.

“One second,” I say, turning away. I can feel his eyes bore into me. If I turn around now, I bet he’s staring at me. As I walk through the threshold to the back hallway I pause. Pretending to adjust something on a shelf, I look in the mirror behind the bar and catch his reflection.

I’m right. A shiver runs so fast through me I have to inhale sharply. This is a new feeling. I don’t know what to do. He’s gorgeous and frightening and the first of many bikers to show up now.

“Allie!” Jeff barks. I scurry back, cursing him in my head but knowing it doesn’t matter. I turn the corner into his office and his voice is so sharp he might as well cut me with it.

“You stop talking to Chase Halloway.”

“You know him?” Chase Halloway. The name makes me buzz all over.

Jeff’s face tightens. I asked the wrong question. By now I should know better. The butterfly of panic flaps its wings in my chest. How could I be so stupid?

He gives me a look that makes my stomach burn.

“What I know isn’t any of your concern. You just serve those bikers and don’t make trouble. No checks. It’s all on the house.”

“What?” My jaw drops. I can’t help it. Jeff never comps drinks for anyone except the sheriff. And he knows I can’t serve drinks.

“You heard me. Don’t question it.” His voice is pure venom.

I won’t. Not again. Jeff is not a violent man. Not toward me, anyway. When he has his bad moods, though, life can be hard. Very, very hard.

Loud voices interrupt us. I turn away and rush down the hallway to find at least twenty men and two women standing at the bar, lined up in a confusing group of laughing and angry faces.

A wolf whistle cuts the air. “Hey there, pretty girl.” A man older than Jeff, with all-grey hair in a fringe around his balding head, whistles again.

“Where’s your daddy?” grunts another man. This one is huge, taller than Chase, but with features that are similar. Chase’s dad, maybe. It’s hard to tell. All the bikers are covered with a layer of road dirt. Their faces look tanner than they really are.

“I’ll be her daddy,” shouts someone in the crowd. “Her sugar daddy.” A bunch of men laugh. My whole body goes cold with fear. I shut down. All I can think about is the baseball bat behind the bar. If  I can get back there, maybe I’ll be safe.

“Cut it out,” Chase says, louder than the laughter. I look to my left and see him, alone, standing right where I left him.

His eyes are on me. Only me. But his words are for the crowd.

“Claiming her already?” someone shouts. There’s a challenge in the question.

Chase steps forward, closer to me. When he’s only a foot away, he pauses. I can feel his heat reaching out to pull me in. His arms don’t, though.
Chase turns back to face them. “And if I am?”
About the author:
Meli Raine Meli Raine rode her first motorcycle when she was five years old, but she played in the ocean long before that. She lives in New England with her family. Join her New Releases and Sales newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/beV0gf
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