Friday, March 24, 2017

Cover Reveal & Paperback Release - Three Wishes By Kristen Ashley

Three-Wishes-RDL banner    

THREE WISHES is now available in paperback for the first time! This heartwarming and epic love story from New York Times bestselling author, Kristen Ashley, returns with an amazing new cover!

And that’s not all!

THREE WISHES is being re-released in eBook form with beautiful, new formatting! So make a wish, grab your copy, and prepare to fall in love all over again!

    Three-Wishes-cover
When Lily Jacobs was born, she inherited Fazire – a genie. Her family had three wishes and they’d only ever used one so Fazire was stuck in the human world. This worked since he’d become a member of the family anyway.
Even with a genie, Lily's young life wasn’t perfect. To escape the kids making her miserable at school, Lily buried herself in romance novels. One day, when the teasing was just too much, she used one of her wishes. She told Fazire she wanted to find a man like in her books and she made the most complicated wish Fazire had ever heard. Her wished-for man had to be impossibly handsome, virile, fierce, rugged and ruthless (amongst a dozen other things).
He also had to think she was beautiful and he had to love her more than anything in the world.
Nathaniel McAllister wasn’t born to a life where there were such things as genies granting wishes. His life was filled with drugs, crime and neglect. He was running errands for a gangster before he was in his teens and, even though life and hard work led him to wealth and respectability, he always knew, deep down, he was dirty. When Nate met Lily he knew he was no good for her but as virile, fierce, rugged and ruthless as he was, Nate was no match for the pull of sweet, innocent Lily.
Unfortunately, Lily’s wish included that she and her hero go through trials and tribulations to test their love. And Fazire wasn’t only a good genie, he loved Lily – so he gave her exactly what she wanted.

Order THREE WISHES here!

Amazon * Barnes & Noble * GooglePlay *iBooks* Kobo

    Three-Wishes-RDL teaser  

Add it to your Goodreads Now!

Amazon Paperback: http://amzn.to/2nN4uyc 

  EXCERPT: Nate didn’t know what he wanted but whatever it was, it certainly was not Georgia. He was saved from answering Victor when he spied a youth wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt, the hood worn up even though it was a warm day. The boy was slouching down the pavement, head bowed, hands in the front pocket of the sweatshirt, his head swinging this way and that, looking for his mark. Nate’s guard, already on alert—always on alert—went into overdrive. Nate’s eyes narrowed as he watched the youth, and Victor started to get into the Rolls. Then, as expected, the boy darted toward his target and Nate heard a woman’s outraged cry. “Hey!” she yelled. He watched the boy snatch the woman’s purse, his body tensing for action. And then his eyes moved to the woman and uncharacteristically, he froze. “Hey! He stole my purse! Stop him! He stole my purse!” she shouted. Nate vaguely registered she was an American tourist. Nate also absently noticed that no one moved to assist. In that brief moment in time, Nate was too busy drinking in the vision that was her, he himself didn’t move a muscle. She was tall, incredibly tall. And curvy, delectably curvy. She had the most unusual colored hair. Hair that he knew from vast experience living in a house with Laura and Danielle for years came through a supremely talented and expensive stylist’s hands. And she had an exquisite face, flawless skin and a bearing that was extraordinary. She had been given a wide berth around her even on the crowded pavement. Not because she was screaming her head off but instead because she was majestic, radiant, elegant… Untouchable. In a stupor from simply looking at her, the boy with her purse charged right by Nate. Not in a stupor, she realized no one was going to help her, gave up screaming and charged right after the boy. At the noise, Victor turned away from the car and Nate shifted to watch in astonishment as she deftly and agilely dodged the crowd, her long legs a match for the short boy. Then Nate watched in stunned surprise as she jumped onto the thief’s back with a graceful leap. Everyone stared in shock but no one lifted a finger except a few started to take photographs. “Give me back my purse, you thug!” she shouted. Wrapping her long legs around her prey, one arm around his neck, she slapped him around the head with the other hand. The thief staggered back then he staggered with intent and slammed her against the side of the building. Her head snapped back and cracked against the stone so loudly Nate could hear it from where he stood twenty paces away. At the sound Nate jerked out of his stupor and forged forward.     Kristin Ashley - headshotAbout Kristen Ashley: Kristen Ashley was born in Gary, Indiana, USA and nearly killed her mother and herself making it into the world, seeing as she had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck (already attempting to accessorise and she hadn't taken her first breath!). Her mother said they took Kristen away, put her Mom back in her room, her mother looked out the window, and Gary was on fire (Dr. King had been assassinated four days before). Kristen's Mom remembered thinking it was the end of the world. Quite the dramatic beginning. Nothing's changed. Kristen grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana and has lived in Denver, Colorado and the West Country of England. Thus, she's blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her family was (is) loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write. They all lived together on a very small farm in a small farm town in the heartland. She grew up with Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon and Whitesnake (and the wardrobes that matched). Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music, clothes and love was a good way to grow up. And as she keeps growing, it keeps getting better.  

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Monday, March 20, 2017

Release Blast - The Trouble With Bachelors By Caitlyn Blue


The trouble with bachelors is you never know.


THE TROUBLE WITH BACHELORS
Windy City Bachelors #1
Caitlyn Blue
Releasing March 21st, 2017
Sassy Muse, LLC


Falling for her sister's first love, how could that possibly go wrong...

Zach Thorne is supposed to be off limits. He’s her sister’s high school boyfriend and his love life is a revolving door of women. He’s also handsome, sexy and the one guy Emma Callahan has never been able to forget.

Now they’ve been thrown together as best man and maid of honor for her sister’s wedding and some serious sparks are flying. Zach is perfect wedding fling material until he starts to take their romance seriously. Now, Emma is left wondering: is he for real or is she about to get her heart broken?

The trouble with bachelors is you never know.


REVIEW
After reading Caitlyn Blue  first  book I knew I just had to  get  my hands on her next book , so  when I heard  about The Trouble With Bachelors I was thrilled and I dived into this book as soon as I possibly  could and It was fantastic!.

In this book we follow  Zach  and Emma . Zach is Emma's sister's ex so you can  already  tell that this situation could becoming very complicated really fast .However now  Emma's  sister is  getting married ,and In the  wedding they both have  really  important roles. However  as they get  closer and closer  things between them  begin to change  . This story is not  very long   but the  amount of things  that Caitlyn blue was able to put  into this  novel  just  speaks to  how  much  of  a talented  writer she is . I loved the romance it was sexy  ,  it   fun and kept  me on my toes . I was invested in  Zach and Emma 's love story  , seriously whenever things  were not going the way I wanted them to , I would literally stomp my feet lol and that is what I  love in my books  when you care about the  characters that much  that it causes you to react like that .Caityln Blue  writes an excellent love story in this book , that was perfect for  Zach and Emma .Besides what  was going on with the romance  there where  so many other things going in the book  and  they  kept  me just as engaged in the story as the romance . I could go on  and on  about how much  I enjoyed this book . 

The Trouble With Bachelor was a sexy , fun  contemporary romance . Caitlyn Blue wrote another  amazing book and I cannot wait to get  my hands on her next one. If you love all these things in your books you should definitely get  a copy 

RATING
5/5 STARS









“This was fun,” I murmur as his fingers coast over my cheek.
He tucks a lock of hair behind my ears and traces my jaw. It’s been a year since a man has touched me. And no one has ever caressed me like this. It’s like he’s trying to memorize my features. I’m enthralled. It’s hard to know what to do next, so I clutch my hands in my lap and stare at him. His eyes lock on my lips and I realize I’ve seized the lower one between my teeth.
His breath hisses out on a soft sigh. “Do you have any idea how sexy you are?”
“No.” It’s not the default word anyone uses when describing me.
“You are.”
How many women has he used this line on? Hundreds surely. He’s a player. A guy you sleep with not someone you date.
At the moment I’m standing at the line that separates the woman I am and the woman guys like Zach sleep with a few times and never call again. I can listen to my body and have several amazing orgasms to relive over and over, or I can listen to my heart, stay true to who I am and keep looking for a guy who can make me happy long term.
His fingers curve around the back of my neck. As he draws me forward, I ask, “Are you going to kiss me again?”
“I’d very much like to.”
This time his kiss is more direct. Firm and determined, he claims my lips and as his tongue darts forward, I open for him. He tastes like the striped peppermint candy we snagged on our way out of the restaurant.
The kiss quickly goes nova. Heat explodes in my midsection and lances downward as Zach’s hand curves over my knee. I clutch his shoulder, trembling with longing. Phrases spill through my mind. Naughty things I’d want to say to him. Images of taking him into my mouth again and making him cry out my name as he comes. I’ve forgotten that I’m not the type who has sex in cars. Right now, all I’m thinking is: yes, please, let’s do this.
Our tongues are dueling, my legs are parting and Zach’s hand is riding up my inner thigh when the phone in my lap buzzes with an incoming text. It’s close enough to my happy place that the vibration only adds to my arousal. I moan. Zach drags his lips from mine.
“That’s it, baby. Let me hear it.”
As his other hand dips inside my coat, fingers gliding over my breast, it’s easy to moan again. Damn, he’s good at this. Trembling with need, I bite my lip as the urge to whimper builds. I shift my hips as my clit perks up and starts crying for attention. If he doesn’t touch me there I’ll go out of my mind.
A second text follows the first or maybe it’s just that reminder that I haven’t looked at the first one. Either way, it feels great. So does Zach’s mouth on my neck. And is that his teeth? I open my thighs, silently begging him to go higher. He’s so close. I’m so close.
Buzz.
I’m panting. He’s sucking on my earlobe. Shit. That’s amazing. His thumb grazes my nipple.
Buzz.
Buzz.
The hand beneath my skirt reaches the elastic on my panties and I shift my hips, pushing into his fingers. Can he feel how wet I am? A little higher, please.
Buzz.
Buzz.
The vibration is so constant it’s like a sex toy and I’m so close to getting off. Just a little bit more. His finger brushes over the soaked crotch my panties. The lightest of touch and my body is electrified.
“Fuck,” he mutters, tracing over my hot, aching core a second time. “These are soaked.”
A garbled noise emerges from my throat.
Buzz.
Buzz.
Buzz.
Buzz.
And then Zach’s fingers are retreating and I groan in protest. “Um, do you need to get that?”
Get what?
Buzz.
Buzz.
“Oh for fuck’s sake,” I exclaim as Zach removes his lovely, clever hands from beneath my clothes.
He flops back against his seat with a hearty curse. Eyes closed, breathing hard, he shields his face as his shoulders move. Damn the man. He’s laughing.
Snarling, I pick up the phone and see at least a dozen texts from my cousins. Looking over at the house, I spy all three of them lined up at the living room windows. Well, what did I expect? I’m making out with Zach in front of our house. I might as well have set up a neon sign on the front lawn that says orgasms happening here. Almost happening…so close. A growl vibrates my chest.
“Your cousins?”
“Yes.”


Caitlyn Blue is a voracious reader with an overactive imagination and a chocolate addict. She loves fancy cocktails and tasty edibles, is a sucker for adventure movies and any music with a beat. When not writing, Caitlyn loves to connect with her readers for whom she's extremely grateful. Join her VIP list to stay up to date on giveaways and exclusive offers.  

Make Me Beg By Rebecca Brooks Is out !!!!!

Make Me Beg

by Rebecca Brooks Men of Gold Mountain #2 Publication Date: March 20, 2017 Genres: Adult, Entangled: Brazen, Contemporary, Romance

BUY:

SYNOPSIS:

Bartender Mackenzie Ellinsworth has always gone it alone. So when she has a chance to open her own bar and restaurant, she’s got a plan for how it should go. Not in that plan: a ripped and rugged playboy stepping in to take over. Mack doesn’t do players, and she doesn’t do one-night stands. If Connor wants to work with Mack, he’s going to have to keep his strong, sexy hands to himself. Connor Branding is determined to prove he’s not the directionless playboy Mack thinks. But opening a place together causes more problems than it solves. The two of them can’t agree on anything—except how scorching hot their chemistry is. Connor may be ready to indulge every desire Mack’s been denying herself…but turning business into pleasure is likely to get him burned. goodreads-badge-add-38px


EXCERPT 
They listened to rain whip against the building, and the wind, and the strange stillness underneath it as darkness prickled their skin. Mack walked back toward the bar where it was warmer. She felt around in the darkness for the drawer where they kept candles for emergencies. Thankfully not everything had been cleared out for the renovation yet. 
Because this definitely counted as an emergency. An emergency requiring not only light, but extra vodka. 
Connor followed her to the bar, still texting. 
“Better tell her you won’t be over any time soon,” Mack said as she dripped wax onto the bar to hold the candles upright. 
“Good thing there’s always tomorrow.”
“You think she’ll actually wait around after the way you ditched her tonight?”
“I didn’t mean tomorrow has to be her.”
Mack gagged as she poured them both shots. 
“Don’t be jealous,” Connor said, putting his phone away. “Just because you’re not getting any doesn’t mean the rest of us have to be celibate.”
“That’s not jealousy—it’s pity.” She stuck out her lower lip in a pretend pouty face. “I feel bad for you, sweetheart.”
He laughed, a big roaring sound that bounced off the empty walls and made the candles flicker. 
“I’m serious,” she said. “Every time I turn around you’re going home with someone else. From the cheap seats, it looks like after one night with you, nobody wants to come back for more. Kinda starts to make a girl wonder.”
“Wow, Mack. That really stings. Guess I’m going to go reevaluate my life now.”
“If you need any pointers, I’m here to help.”
She was joking. Completely. She didn’t even mean it like that—she was just getting back at him for his obnoxious comments about her dating profile. 
But Connor tipped his shot back, never taking his eyes off her. He’d been on the other side of the bar, but when he put his glass down he slowly stepped around so he was in the narrow workspace with her, invading what had always felt like her domain. 
“What are you doing?”
“You think I’m a lousy lay?” His eyes flashed in the candlelight as though she could say whatever she wanted about his cooking, his crappy business plan, his inability to commit to anyone or anything that mattered—but how dare she insult his precious dick. 
She raised an eyebrow with a calm she definitely didn’t feel. “I don’t know, Connor. Are you?”

ABOUT REBECCA BROOKS

Rebecca Brooks lives in New York City in an apartment filled with books. She received a PhD in English but decided it was more fun to write books than write about them. She has backpacked alone through India and Brazil, traveled by cargo boat down the Amazon River, climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, explored ice caves in Peru, trekked to the source of the Ganges, and sunbathed in Burma, but she always likes coming home to a cold beer and her hot husband in the Bronx. Her books are about independent women who leave their old lives behind to try something new—and find the passion, excitement and purpose they didn’t know they’d been missing. Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Newsletter | Amazon Author Profile

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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Book Review - Someone To Love By Donna Alward



                                                                 SYNOPSIS
"The latest offering in the Darling, Vermont series is an emotionally poignant, can't-put-it-down, opposites-attract tearjerker. A true treasure from page one to the beautiful, touching ending. Alward's witty dialogue drives this powerful tale, but it's her little boy costars and her paradoxical, damaged hero and heroine that make hearts sing and rule every page of this sweet and steamy love story." - RT Bookreviews Top Pick! on Someone to Love

SOME WISHES DO COME TRUE

Ethan Gallagher is a firefighter in Darling, Vermont, who followed tradition and pledged his love on the Kissing Bridge to ensure lifelong happiness. A few years later, he's a widower with two rambunctious boys who no longer believes in magic. But even he has to admit that free-spirited Willow Dunaway fills him with wonder...and an attraction he cannot deny.

Willow's come back to Darling a different girl than the one who left after high school. Overcoming her past and owning her own business has made her into a strong, independent woman. Single dad Ethan appeals to her in a way she didn't expect, even though settling down is the last thing on her mind. But after fire destroys the local food bank, the town rallies, and a fling between Ethan and Willow leads to unintended consequences. Can they find a way out of their heartbreak to make a home in each other's hearts?
 

REVIEW
After reading the  first book in this  series I was  eager to  my hands on the next one. When I got the  chance to read  this  book I  started it as soon as I could and it was amazing ! Donna Alward  created another fantastic  story  with Someone to  love

In this  book  we follow  Ethan  and  Willow ,  at first  you look at these two  people and you immediately see  two  opposites  , but these  two could not  be more perfect for each other . Ethan has twin boys and  is still  trying to  come to  terms with his  wife's  death. And Willow has come  back to  town    to start her life over and at the  same time  try  to overcome her past( when I heard more about willow's backstory I found my  self tearing up a bit )  , so seeing these two  find  love with  each other was wonderful . The romance in this book was  sexy  , fun and heartwarming  and  those  are three things I love in my romance .I was so  invested in these characters I needed to see them get there happy ever after no matter what  happened and  trust  alot happened .This book never had a dull moment and I just loved that  !  It  constantly  kept me on my toes . I was turning each page so very eager to find out  what was in store for  these two next .This book was just was just fantastic

Someone  To Love was a sexy  , emotional , heartwarming  small town romance . I cannot wait to  dig into the  next book in this  series . If you love  all these things in your books you should  definitely  pick up  a copy as soon as you can.

RATING
5/5 STARS

Book Review - The Trouble With Bachelors By Caitlyn Blue






Synopsis
Falling for her sister's first love, how could that possibly go wrong... 

Zach Thorne is supposed to be off limits. He’s her sister’s high school boyfriend and his love life is a revolving door of women. He’s also handsome, sexy and the one guy Emma Callahan has never been able to forget. 

Now they’ve been thrown together as best man and maid of honor for her sister’s wedding and some serious sparks are flying. Zach is perfect wedding fling material until he starts to take their romance seriously. Now, Emma is left wondering: is he for real or is she about to get her heart broken? 

The trouble with bachelors is you never know.








REVIEW
After reading Caitlyn Blue  first  book I knew I just had to  get  my hands on her next book , so  when I heard  about The Trouble With Bachelors I was thrilled and I dived into this book as soon as I possibly  could and It was fantastic!.

In this book we follow  Zach  and Emma . Zach is Emma's sister's ex so you can  already  tell that this situation could becoming very complicated really fast .However now  Emma's  sister is  getting married ,and In the  wedding they both have  really  important roles. However  as they get  closer and closer  things between them  begin to change  . This story is not  very long   but the  amount of things  that Caitlyn blue was able to put  into this  novel  just  speaks to  how  much  of  a talented  writer she is . I loved the romance it was sexy  ,  it   fun and kept  me on my toes . I was invested in  Zach and Emma 's love story  , seriously whenever things  were not going the way I wanted them to , I would literally stomp my feet lol and that is what I  love in my books  when you care about the  characters that much  that it causes you to react like that .Caityln Blue  writes an excellent love story in this book , that was perfect for  Zach and Emma .Besides what  was going on with the romance  there where  so many other things going in the book  and  they  kept  me just as engaged in the story as the romance . I could go on  and on  about how much  I enjoyed this book . 

The Trouble With Bachelor was a sexy , fun  contemporary romance . Caitlyn Blue wrote another  amazing book and I cannot wait to get  my hands on her next one. If you love all these things in your books you should definitely get  a copy when it comes out March 21, 2017.


RATING
5/5 STARS

BUYING LINKS
Amazon US: ➜ http://amzn.to/2n2kQia
Amazon World: ➜ http://bit.ly/2iu9lxU
Goodreads: ➜ http://bit.ly/2jzft8I




Friday, March 17, 2017

Cover Reveal - The Hot Shot By Kristen Callihan

the hot shot release date   TheHotShot Amazon-2      

First we were friends. Then we were roommates. Now I want more…

What can I say about Chess Copper? The woman is capable of bringing me to my knees. I know this about five minutes after getting naked for her.

No one is more surprised than me. The prickly photographer my team hired to shoot our annual charity calendar isn’t my usual type. She’s defense to my offense, a challenge at every turn. But when I’m with her, all the regrets and darkness goes away. She makes life fun.

I want to know Chess, be close to her. Which is a bad idea.

Chess is looking for a relationship. I’ve never given a woman more than one night. But when fate leaves Chess without a home, I step up and offer her mine. We’re roommates now. Friends without benefits. But it’s getting harder to keep our hands off each other. And the longer we live together the more I realize she’s becoming my everything.

Trick is… Now that I’ve made her believe I’m a bad bet, how do I convince her to give this player a true shot at forever?

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Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00005] 



      KCauthor
Kristen Callihan is an author because there is nothing else she’d rather be. She is a three-time RITA nominee and winner of two RT Reviewer’s Choice awards. Her novels have garnered starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and the Library Journal, as well as being awarded top picks by many reviewers. Her debut book FIRELIGHT received RT Magazine’s Seal of Excellence, was named a best book of the year by Library Journal , best book of Spring 2012 by Publisher’s Weekly, and was named the best romance book of 2012 by ALA RUSA. When she is not writing, she is reading.

WEBSITE / FACEBOOK / TWITTER / AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Release Blitz - Beauty of the Beast By Rachel L Demeter


Beauty of the Beast

by Rachel L. Demeter Fairy Tale Retellings, #1 Publication Date: March 15, 2017 Genres: Historical Romance, Fairy Tale Retelling, Gothic Romance, Adult

🌹 Special $2.99 sale price through March 19th 🌹

🌹 Buy 🌹

🌹 Book Blurb 🌹

Experience the world’s most enchanting and timeless love story—retold with a dark and realistic twist. A BEAST LIVING IN THE SHADOW OF HIS PAST Reclusive and severely scarred Prince Adam Delacroix has remained hidden inside a secluded, decrepit castle ever since he witnessed his family’s brutal massacre. Cloaked in shadow, with only the lamentations of past ghosts for company, he has abandoned all hope, allowing the world to believe he died on that tragic eve twenty-five years ago. A BEAUTY IN PURSUIT OF A BETTER FUTURE Caught in a fierce snowstorm, beautiful and strong-willed Isabelle Rose seeks shelter at a castle—unaware that its beastly and disfigured master is much more than he appears to be. When he imprisons her gravely ill and blind father, she bravely offers herself in his place. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST Stripped of his emotional defenses, Adam’s humanity reawakens as he encounters a kindred soul in Isabelle. Together they will wade through darkness and discover beauty and passion in the most unlikely of places. But when a monster from Isabelle’s former life threatens their new love, Demrov’s forgotten prince must emerge from his shadows and face the world once more… Perfect for fans of Beauty and the Beast and The Phantom of the Opera, Beauty of the Beast brings a familiar and well-loved fairy tale to life with a rich setting in the kingdom of Demrov and a captivating, Gothic voice. Beauty of the Beast is the first standalone installment in a series of classic fairy tales reimagined with a dark and realistic twist. Disclaimer: This is an edgy retelling of the classic fairy tale. Due to strong sexual content, profanity, and dark subject matter, including an instance of sexual assault committed by the villain, Beauty of the Beast is not intended for readers under the age of 18.

🎬 Book Trailer 🎬

🌹 Excerpt 🌹

~ Isabelle bravely takes her papa’s place ~

Quite a while later, as Isabelle relaxed and soaked in the hearth’s warmth, she found herself nodding off to sleep. Her mind detached from the stress of the past few days and receded to another time and place. She recalled her journeys with Papa when she’d been little more than a girl. All the villages they’d passed through; all the faces they’d seen. She thought of reading fairy tales beneath a bejeweled sky, of leaning against a mountain of crates as Papa pointed out the constellations and their eternal stories— Rattling seized her attention and ruptured her thoughts. She peered at Papa, who was carefully examining his teacup. Not with his sightless eyes, of course—but with wandering fingertips. The same impressive coat of arms engraved the fine proclaim; Papa ran his weathered fingers over its surface, clearly in awe of the raised gold decorations and studded gems. The thing must have cost a small fortune. Indeed, she’d never beheld such finery. Even the wares Papa had once sold paled in comparison. The faded brim of his top hat hung low and covered his glassy eyes. Then her mouth went dry as he slipped the teacup inside his coat. Has he gone mad—or simply grown that desperate? It was completely unlike Papa to steal. How could he—and after being shown hospitality? Her outcry startled him. He half leapt from the chair—and Isabelle watched in horror as the teacup tumbled out from the coat. It rattled and rolled onto the stone ground, shattering into a million pieces. A gloved hand broke through the darkness, quicker than a lightning strike. The hooded figure emerged from the shadows and seized Papa by his cravat. His other hand clasped a branch of flickering candles. The illumination flashed across the dark folds of his cloak, soaking him in a pool of light. “Stealing from me, are you? Breaking my family’s keepsakes?” A sharp jerk forced Papa to his feet. The rough movement sent the top hat tumbling from his head and onto the stone floor. Papa’s waxen features melted into an expression of horror and confusion. Her heart pounding, Isabelle lunged forward and frantically cried out, “Let him alone! It was an accident. Don’t you see that you’re frightening him?” “Good.” The simple declaration threw Isabelle into stunned silence. Papa called out for her as the man strode from the sitting room, his solid legs eating up the ground in swift, decisive strides. Mon Dieu, he was physically dragging Papa through the castle. This isn’t happening. It cannot be… “Stop it! Stop it now—you monster!” Isabelle picked up her skirts and frantically chased after them. Parts of the castle were dark and unkempt, causing her to trip several times over wayward pieces of furniture. Her heart violently pounded in her ears. The man moved impressively fast; between his agile stride and sweeping cloak, he almost appeared to float through the corridors. Plopping onto the stone floor, his dog gave up trying to keep pace. Dust motes rose and fell in midair like ashes, obscuring her vision. She followed the branch’s illumination, watching as the candlelight threw prisms along the walls and floor. “Please, monsieur. Have mercy, I beg you! He didn’t know any better. He's not in his right mind. He would never—” “No one steals from me.” His low voice echoed in the darkness, steady as a war drum. Isabelle felt herself descending. She ducked as she crossed a low archway, where she was met with a steep flight of stairs. A mouth into Hell. The ceiling lurked unusually low and was strung with cobwebs. Isabelle hiked up her skirts, which were now a filthy mess, and raced down the decayed steps. The hooded figure kept a swift pace while she desperately pursued Papa’s frightened cries. Plagued by the darkness, Isabelle tripped and crashed down the stone steps. Pain cascaded through her body, knocking the breath from her lungs. Her skinned knees and elbows throbbed, her heart pounded, her head burned. She spared a moment to catch her breath as she struggled to her feet and resumed her vain quest. Papa’s muffled pleas and the sound of slamming bars ripped at her very soul. The dank dungeon was nearly black. She slowed her pace, moving toward a beam of light at the far end. Rats the size of kittens scurried across the stone floor and filled the darkness with their terrible squeaking. Her heart thudding, Isabelle rushed through the maze of cells, following Papa’s voice and that flickering light. Chains and crude-looking objects littered the ground—torture devices from a past age, she realized with a shudder. She found them. Papa was grasping the rusted bars; disoriented and frightened, he was murmuring incoherent pleas. Tears fell from his sightless eyes, though Isabelle knew he fought to restrain them. The branch of candles sat in front of the cell, its wavering light illuminating his terrified expression. “Forgive me. I have wronged you when you showed my daughter and me hospitality and mercy. Please, monsieur!” The man towered before him, silent and still. His long arms remaining crossed, he stood with his lean torso straighter than a broadsword. His hood was drawn back, though Isabelle couldn’t see his face from her angle. “Papa, I’m here,” she said beneath the weight of a strained breath. “I-Isabelle?” Not sparing a moment, she dashed over to the cell—and the man slowly rotated into sight. Except he resembled more of a beast than any man she’d ever seen. Isabelle clamped both hands over her mouth and forced her eyes away. The sight burned—and the inferno in his gaze only kindled that fire. Half of his face looked monstrously twisted; charred mounds of puckered flesh distorted the features beyond any recognition, draining him of all traces of humanity. Those heaps of burned, leather-like skin gleamed and glistened in the candlelight. His hairline receded on the left side of his face and slanted high above a shriveled ear. Under the severe scarring, his age was more or less indistinguishable—though Isabelle guessed he wasn’t a day under thirty-five. But his eyes were breathtaking. Two brilliant sapphires. There was also a great sadness and anger in those eyes, as if he’d suffered more than his share of original sin. Alas, as she gazed into his eyes, all she saw was blue ice—an endless, arctic landscape of cold desolation. The man turned away, appearing greatly affected by her stare, and hastily rearranged the hood. His scarred hands trembled as he smoothed down the cloak’s thick folds. “Release him,” she demanded. “He didn’t mean any harm. I—” “No one meddles with my family’s possessions. He can rot down here as my prisoner. He ought to count himself fortunate that I haven’t taken his hand.” “Your prisoner? This... this is a mistake! You must believe me. He’d never—” A deep, husky chuckle cut through her plea. “Even so.” “Please. Just let him out.” “It’s too late for that.” Those words seemed to speak volumes. He exhaled a long breath, and Isabelle watched as it unfurled against the darkness in a cloud. Silence. “Why... why are you so angry? Why must you be so hateful? So cruel?” “If I let him go,” he said at length, “what can you offer in return?” Isabelle couldn’t find her tongue. She wandered directly in front of the cell, almost in a lucid trance, and clasped the cold bars. Papa was huddled in the corner now, coughing and shivering. Guilt, unlike anything she’d known before, pulsated through her. I’m to blame for this. And if Papa stays here, he’ll die well within a fortnight, likely much sooner… “Get out of my sight.” The man’s voice jarred Isabelle from her inward stupor. She turned to him and stepped forward, raising her chin at a defiant angle. I am not so easily broken or frightened. I am a survivor. She scanned her empty, dank surroundings: the cold stone walls, sweeping cobwebs, and blazing branch of candles. Despair encased her. Stark emptiness. She dared to step closer while a faint trace of pity bloomed inside her heart. They stood centimeters apart. Heat radiated from the man’s body, surrounding her, immersing her. Isabelle vainly searched for softness him, but only a dark, embittered spirit reached her. She stared up at his towering frame and gestured for him to bow forward. He hesitated, then did as she commanded. Her hands shook, damn her, as she peeled back his hood and met that piercing gaze again. Half of his face was handsome—devastatingly so. In her twenty-two years of life, she’d never beheld such haunting beauty. Jet‑black waves, rich and flowing, framed the chiseled lines of his startling features. Stubble peppered the strong curve of his jawline and shadowed a smooth, sculpted cheekbone. The right side of his face was striking, beautiful—a stark contrast to its wrecked counterpart. And within those patrician angles and intense eyes, she encountered his humanity. His was a face of inconsistencies. Complex. Damaged. Predatory. And more than a bit intriguing. “I will stay with you,” she heard herself whisper. “In my father’s place.” “Isabelle—no! I forbid it!” The man folded long, strong arms across his broad chest. His gaze crawled down her face and settled on the rise of her breasts—planting directly on her silver cross. “I demand he’s seen by the finest of physicians.” “Isabelle! Listen to me! I’m an old man. I’m dying. I—” The man’s dark, strangely erotic voice cut through the cellar, and his eyes whipped back to her own with a startling force. “As my mistress.” “What?” “You must stay here as my mistress. For as long as I demand. Perhaps forever.” Forever. The word rang with a note of finality. “Please, Isabelle! I beg you. Don’t do this!” How could I endure it? “Do as I say and your father shall safely return home.” He waved his cloaked arms with a magician’s delicate grace. “Your father—whatever family you may have—shall want for nothing. A house, clothing, anything they require. You only need to say the word. Your father will be under my protection—under the care of nurses and physicians—until his last breath.” Isabelle briefly recalled what—and who—was waiting for her back in Ruillé. This fate wouldn’t be much worse. This desolate castle could serve as the perfect hideout. Papa would live in France, free from Raphael’s clutches and in the hands of the world’s greatest physicians… “How... how can I trust you?” And does he even have the wealth to uphold such a promise? “You cannot.” She had faith Papa would send help once his health recovered. Or she’d find a way out, means of escape. In the interim, she would survive this grim castle and whatever horrors it concealed. Papa would not. The castle would crush him beneath its dark heel in a matter of days. Isabelle glanced at Papa again, then stared into the man’s brilliant eyes. There, lurking within those expressive depths, she found the softness she’d pursued minutes before. She sucked in her breath and nodded her agreement. “It is done.” The man swept backward. “He’s to remain down here till first light. Then our agreement shall be carried out. In the meantime, I will bring blankets and food—” “But it’s so cold! He—” “Stole from me while he was a guest in my castle.” He would not compromise. That much was certain. “I demand to stay with him.” “As you please.” He unlocked the cell. “Beyond the dungeon lies a labyrinth. Try to escape, and you’ll be lost forever.” He tapped the wall with his booted heel. It swiveled, spun, and rotated, sweeping her captor to the other side...

🌹 Excerpt 🌹

~ Adam gives Isabelle his library ~

“Close your eyes, ma belle.” Strong hands cupped either side of her face. She felt as Adam’s thumbs tentatively brushed back and forth, stroking her cheeks in reverent caresses. Isabelle shut her eyes and slipped beneath his spell... leaned closer in the darkness until they stood heartbeat to heartbeat. The warmth of his breaths teased her hairline, bringing with them a minty scent. His thumbs descended to just below her chin. She lowered her face... felt a featherlight kiss land on her brow. It happened so subtly and gently—Isabelle wasn’t sure whether she’d imagined it. She was allowing herself to feel too much. A stab of guilt penetrated her chest as her thoughts crept inward. Yet instincts told her to trust in her gut—to allow her heart to speak over her tumultuous thoughts. So she shoved away her guilt and allowed herself to simply feel. Pounding footfalls echoed in the room, attesting to its sheer size. Isabelle waited in anticipation under the veil of darkness, her small hands knotted in Stranger’s wiry coat. The steady beat of Adam’s boots floated away from her. A loud whipping noise and a burst of light illuminated the room as he tugged a heavy damask curtain aside. “Open your eyes, Isabelle.” She did as he commanded. Shafts of sunlight tore inside, dancing across the marble floor in blaring prisms—though the darkness still obstructed the room’s contents. Isabelle’s imagination soared as she fantasized about what lay in those clotted shadows. Pale light fringed Adam’s formidable shape, contrasting his silhouette against the dim atmosphere. He paused in front of the opened window and folded both arms behind his ramrod-straight back. Isabelle gazed at the line of his body, unable to tear her eyes away. Indeed, light from the window set him aglow, shrouding him in a cloak of gold. He wore black trousers and a white silk shirt, which fluttered lightly when he moved. Over the past several days, he’d made a habit of abandoning the cloak and hood. Isabelle had become accustomed to the mismatched sides of his face; where she once felt horror and revulsion, she now tingled with curiosity and budding admiration. Alas, the only true revulsion that remained was the memory of that night… Adam was an undeniably prideful man, and she knew he’d only scorn her pity. Even his stance exuded a sense of importance and authority. Strange, how he was so often shy and almost childlike; then, as if by a flip of a coin, he’d turn regal, confident. It was as though he was battling two separate halves... as if an intricate part of himself kept fighting to emerge. Not unlike the two contrasting sides of his face, Isabelle mused. For a suspended moment, he stood in front of the conservatory window, his scarred hands planted on his lean hips as he surveyed the distant gardens. Then he crossed the room, his footfalls amplified by the medallion flooring, and thrust open another curtain. Whoosh. Light flooded the space and chased away the shadows, and the room’s contents were ushered into view. Isabelle nearly lost her breath at the sight. It was a beautiful library—the most stunning sight she’d ever beheld. Ornate, intricately carved shelves towered against the painted walls and reached for a gilded ceiling. A baroque chandelier hung in the heart of the room; its crystals sparkled like diamonds as they drank in morning’s light. Isabelle fought to temper her racing heart as she gaped at the sweeping shelves. An intimate reading nook lined a curved window; lush pillows decorated the chaise, and a brass candelabra towered beside it. In all her life, she’d never seen so many books. There were far too many to count. Too many books to read in one lifetime. Isabelle couldn’t help but think of the little storekeeper from Ruillé’s bookshop; she imagined his astonishment, how his bushy white brows would rise at the sight of Adam’s vast library. He’d run his wrinkled fingertips over the bindings and spines, reverently caressing each one. Her heart twisted with nostalgia at the thought of her former home. Once Raphael had entered her life, however, Ruillé had transformed into a prison. This castle should have been just that. A jail cell. Yet she’d never felt more free than in that moment. The library was larger than her whole cottage; several book-filled rooms connected to it, each one built with floor-to-ceiling shelves. Three sliding ladders were nestled against the circular walls, soaring to the very top of the domed ceiling. She spun on her heels, twirling in place—watching as the immense collection flurried by in a fantastic mosaic of colorful spines and intricate woodwork. Her eyes planted on Adam, who stood in front of the large row of glowing, arched windows. His arms were still folded behind his body, his sleek back straighter than an arrow. She couldn’t find her voice, couldn’t move forward, although she ached to reach out and embrace his solid body. How would it feel to be enveloped inside that commanding strength? A devastating smile spread across his misshapen features and cut her thought short. He ran a shaky hand through his hair, which was highlighted by the sun’s rays, and then hesitantly strode toward her. His boots rapped against the floor, and the sound swelled through the library. Stranger barked as he approached, the loud noise echoing in the room and jarring Isabelle from her trance. “Do... do you like it?” Finally he stood before her, silent and still. Isabelle inhaled a long breath, then laid her palm on the left side of his face. Her fingertips danced over the raised ridges and welts, the reddish scars and shriveled ear. His eyes shuttered closed, and she felt a shudder rake through his tense body. “Yes. I love it.” And I'm starting to fall in love with you, too...  

🌹 Meet the Author 🌹

 
  Rachel L. Demeter lives in the beautiful hills of Anaheim, California with Teddy, her goofy lowland sheepdog, and her high school sweetheart of fourteen years. She enjoys writing poignant romances that challenge the reader’s emotions and explore the redeeming power of love. Imagining dynamic worlds and characters has been Rachel’s passion for longer than she can remember. Before learning how to read or write, she would dictate stories while her mother would record them for her. She holds a special affinity for the tortured hero and unconventional romances. Whether crafting the protagonist or antagonist, she ensures every character is given a soul. Rachel endeavors to defy conventions by blending elements of romance, suspense, and horror. Some themes her stories never stray too far from: forbidden romance, soul mates, the power of love to redeem, mend all wounds, and triumph over darkness. Her dream is to move readers and leave an emotional impact through her words. Don’t be a stranger! Rachel loves to connect and interact with her readers:

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