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Excerpt Reveal: Tattered by Devney Perry

TATTERED (Lark Cove Book 1) By Devney Perry
Release Day – June 19
Standalone

Thea Landry has always known her place in modern-day society. It’s somewhere just above the trash can her mother dumped her in as a newborn but below the class where much comes easy. With her tattered shoes and bargain-bin clothes, her life has never been full of glamour.

So when a rich and charismatic man takes interest, she doesn’t fool herself into thinking their encounter is anything more than a one-night stand. Months later, she’s kicking herself for not getting his phone number. Or his last name. She’s given up hope of seeing him ever again.

Until one day, years later, Logan Kendrick waltzes into her life once more and turns everything she’s built upside down. This time around, she won’t make the same mistake. She’s going to fight to keep him in her life—not for herself.

But for their daughter.

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Excerpt:

“Yes!” My arms shot in the air. I punched the air a couple of times before clapping and shouting, “Way to go, Charlie! Nice save!”

I was so damn proud. I hoped she could hear me yelling. Her success felt better than any I’d ever had personally, and I’d known her for just a couple days.

Parental pride was incredible.

And I wasn’t alone in my feelings. When I stopped cheering for my daughter, I looked to my side to see that Thea had gotten off the blanket and was cheering too. Her smile was beaming, brighter than any I’d seen before.

“Couldn’t stay seated?” I nudged her elbow with mine.

“Quiet, gorgeous.”

Gorgeous.

I’d been given nicknames in the past by women. My girlfriend in high school had called me Lo-Lo. Emmeline used to call me darling. Alice had annoyed the fuck out of me by whispering stud in my ear. I hadn’t really liked any of them, not even Emmeline’s.

But Thea’s gorgeous was hot as hell.

Mostly because she said it with that smile.

She could call me an asshole or a douchebag with that smile and I wouldn’t care.

08

About The Author:

Devney is the USA Today bestselling author of the Jamison Valley series. She lives in Montana with her husband and two children. After working in the technology industry for nearly a decade, she abandoned conference calls and project schedules to enjoy a slower pace at home with her kids. She loves reading and, after consuming hundreds of books, decided to share her own stories. Devney loves hearing from readers! Connect with her on social media.

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The Start Of Something Good by Jennifer Probst Blog Tour: Excerpt

Today we are celebrating the release of THE START OF SOMETHING GOOD by Jennifer Probst. This book kicks off a brand new series, Stay, and it is a contemporary romance title. Check out the purchase links below to grab your copy now.

———-

PURCHASE THE START OF SOMETHING GOOD

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

Purchase it in PRINT | AUDIO

THE START OF SOMETHING GOOD (Stay, #1) by Jennifer Probst

Available Now!

Synopsis:

An enriching story of family ties, broken hearts, and second chances from New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Probst.

When Ethan Bishop returns to the Hudson Valley, his body and spirit are a little worse for wear. As a former Special Forces paratrooper, he saw his fair share of conflict, and he came home with wounds, inside and out. At his sisters’ B & B and farm, he can keep all his pain at a safe distance. But quiet time isn’t easy when a fiery woman explodes into his life…

It’s business—not pleasure—that brings Manhattan PR agent Mia Thrush reluctantly to the farm. Tightly wound and quick tempered, Mia clashes immediately with the brooding Ethan. Everything about him is irritating—from his lean muscles and piercing blue eyes to his scent of sweat and musk.

But as the summer unfolds and temperatures rise, Ethan and Mia discover how much they have in common: their guarded histories, an uncontrollable desire, and a passion for the future that could heal two broken hearts. But will their pasts threaten their fragile chance at a brand-new future?

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Excerpt:

“What are you doing here?”
She steeled her shoulders, emphasizing the thrust of her pert breasts, and her tiny waist. Then had the gall to give him the stink eye. “I’m here for an apology.”
A bark of laughter escaped his lips. Damn, she had spunk. “Let me get this straight. You come into my barn without permission, let a horse out of its stall, watch her disappear, and you want an apology from me?”
“Yes.”
“Princess, I have plenty of things to say to you but none of them includes an apology.”
“I brought you lunch as a peace offering. I was trying to meet you halfway since we’re neighbors. I was trying to be nice!”
“I never got to eat my lunch because it took me hours to find Clarabelle. I had to scour those damn woods and waste my entire afternoon because you dropped a carrot. Thank God she wasn’t hurt and I was able to get her back safely.”
This was the second time she began nibbling her lip—a definite tell when she felt guilty about something. “I tried to explain and apologize but you got all boorish and started yelling to get out of your barn.”
“I never yell. I told you very quietly to leave the barn.”
“In a threatening tone.”
He shook his head. “I bet you’re an excellent PR person.”
She looked surprised at the change of subject. “Thank you, I feel like I am. I do work hard.”
“You’re very good at twisting everything around like a pretzel. Bending the truth to suit your needs. No wonder Lake hired you.”
Those Bambi eyes simmered with temper. “You think you’re hot shit with your beard and your sexy body and your fake cowboy drawl but you’re just mean! You pretend to be this broody loner type because you had an accident and your leg got hurt. Big frikkin’ deal. That doesn’t give you a right to be cranky to everyone you meet.”
His mouth practically dropped open.  “What do you know about my leg?” he asked in a warning voice.
She wasn’t intimidated at all. In fact, she had the nerve to toss her mane of honey hair and come closer. “Car accident, right? I spoke to someone in town. Seems the consensus is you got hurt, left your previous job, and came home. You proceeded to lock yourself in some sad little bungalow and refuse to come out. How am I doing so far?”
His head spun. Red mist shrouded his vision. Oh, she needed to learn some manners, and he was just the type to teach her. “You know nothing about what happened to me,” he said softly. “Your entire career revolves around manipulating the truth. Let me ask you this, princess. Have you ever gotten real before? Do you even know what it is?”
She bared her teeth and gave a throaty growl. The sound was almost sexual, and registered below his waist. Thank fuck he was too pissed off to care. “I can get real, any time, any place, horse man. I’m not afraid to answer any question with the truth, and your cheap shots about my career are just that. Cheap. You know nothing about the people I try to protect or what I stand for.”
“Any question?”
They were close now. The scent of her perfume surrounded him—some type of exotic orange spice. Her lashes were thick and dark. Her lips were pursed with a furious focus, painted the color of pale apple cider. She had a dab of white sunscreen on her nose she’d forgotten to rub in and some type of shimmery gold shadow under her arched brows. She was infuriating and silly and for one horrifying, brief moment, Ethan wanted to kiss her.
“Yes, any question,” she snarled back.
Too bad the woman would break under one good, passionate kiss, or he’d be tempted to play a mean game of chicken to see who would retreat first.
Too bad she was already sleeping with Lake.
Instead, he leaned in and gave a slow, mocking smile. “You really think I’m sexy, huh?”
She jerked back, eyes wide with horror. “You are pure evil,” she whispered.
Ethan chuckled. “Your secret is safe with me, princess. Anytime you wanna get real, give me a ring.”
A shriek emitted from her lips. She stomped around him in those towering heels. “I will never, ever bring you lunch again!”

PURCHASE THE START OF SOMETHING GOOD

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

Purchase it in PRINT | AUDIO

—————

 

AUTHOR INFORMATION:

Jennifer ProbstJennifer Probst – Bio:
Jennifer Probst wrote her first book at twelve years old. She bound it in a folder, read it to her classmates, and hasn’t stopped writing since. She took a short hiatus to get married, get pregnant, buy a house, get pregnant again, pursue a master’s in English Literature, and rescue two shelter dogs. Now she is writing again.

She makes her home in Upstate New York with the whole crew. Her sons keep her active, stressed, joyous, and sad her house will never be truly clean.
She is the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of sexy and erotic contemporary romance. She was thrilled her book, The Marriage Bargain, was ranked #6 on Amazon’s Best Books for 2012. She loves hearing from readers. Visit her website for updates on new releases and her street team at http://www.jenniferprobst.com.

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ROAR by Cora Carmack Release Day Launch

From New York Times bestselling author Cora Carmack comes her debut young adult fantasy, ROAR! Now available in paperback, ROAR takes readers on an adventure filled with charismatic characters in an enthralling world sure to keep them turning the pages. Grab your copy today!

 

About ROAR (Stormheart #1):

New York Times bestselling author Cora Carmack’s young adult debut: Roar.

In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.

Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage.
She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough.

Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.

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EXCERPT:

“This life is not glamorous,” Duke told her. “We travel constantly. We sleep on the ground most nights. When we’re not in danger from storms, we’re in danger in cities where we are considered criminals. This life is not for the faint of heart.”

“There are things I do not know, things I will have to learn. But I am capable. I am familiar with sacrifice. I know what it is to make hard choices.”

“Tell me you’re not considering this,” Locke said to Duke.

The old man was silent for a long moment, both Locke and Roar looking to him for support. Duke rubbed at his mustache, a habit of his when he was thinking deeply. “Let’s think about this, Locke. She’s smart. And determined.”

“She’s a child.”

Roar’s shoulders hunched in Locke’s peripheral vision, and he swallowed back the guilt. He could apologize later. For now, it was imperative that he won this argument.

You were a child when I brought you into the fold,” Duke said. “She’s a young woman with a good head on her shoulders. And if this is what she wants, I’m inclined to at least hear her out.”

Just like that, Roar’s shoulders straightened, and Locke turned to watch a devastating smile bloom across her mouth. His weakness when it came to her only made him more cross.

“What skills do you have?” he snapped at Roar.

“Skills?”

“Yes, skills. What can you do? Or do you just plan to tag along for the ride?”

A flush spread over her cheeks, and her voice was tentative when she answered, “I’m good on a horse. Very good.”

Where in the world would she have learned to ride? He quickly hardened his expression. “Horses are fine for travel, but they don’t do well in storms. They, unlike you, have good survival instincts.”

As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Locke could have sworn he felt an updraft—the first sign that bad weather could occur—and he knew that this time he had pushed too far.

Roar marched toward him, spearing a finger into his chest and said, “I can read and write. I can speak Taraanese, Finlaghi, and Odilarian. I can read maps. I know enough about grassland vegetation and wildlife to survive without a market to buy food and drink. I’m good with knives and a bow. I learn quickly, and I’m not afraid of hard work. And I’ve spent my entire life reading as much about storms as I could get my hands on.” For a moment, her voice cracked under the weight of her anger, but she took a huffing breath and continued: “I’m good with numbers. It’s been a while, but I think I can probably still draw the constellations from memory, which should make me decent at navigation. I can—“

“Enough.” Locke’s voice came out in a deep rasp. He captured her long, delicate finger in his fist before she could continue poking him. He felt short of breath at the sight of her—livid and lovely. “Enough.”

The old Locke might have kept arguing, and Roar would have met him toe-to-toe. But if becoming a storm hunter had taught him anything, it was that fighting head-on wasn’t always the way to win. Sometimes strategy was required. He met Duke’s eyes over her shoulder, and if he had thought Roar looked smug before, she had nothing on his mentor. The man raised his eyebrows in a challenge and asked, “You?”

He hated the idea of bringing someone into this dangerous life, but if it was going to happen regardless, he sure as hell wouldn’t hand her safety over to anyone else, not even Ransom. And at the very least, it would give him the opportunity to change her mind. He gritted his teeth and nodded his acceptance.

 

TRAILER:


And the Link:https://youtu.be/3fIxbHRHnGc

 

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About Cora Carmack:

Cora Carmack is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. Since she was a teenager, her favorite genre to read has been fantasy, and now she’s thrilled to bring her usual compelling characters and swoon-worthy romance into worlds of magic and intrigue with her debut YA fantasy, Roar. Her previous adult romance titles include the Losing It, Rusk University, and Muse series. Her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages around the world. Cora splits her time between Austin, TX and New York City, and on any given day you might find her typing away at her computer, flying to various cities around the world, or just watching Netflix with her kitty Katniss. But she can always be found on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and her website www.coracarmack.com.

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Excerpt Reveal: Cold Blooded by Toni Anderson

COLD BLOODED by Toni Anderson releases June 12th – but if you can’t wait, be sure to check out an excerpt below and then pre-order your copy today!

Romantic suspense lovers – this is the series for you!

About COLD BLOODED

Available June 12th

Searching for the truth…

Disgraced investigative journalist Pip West is devastated when she discovers her best friend’s body face-down in a tranquil lake. When cops and federal agents determine that her friend overdosed then drowned, Pip knows they’re mistaken and intends to prove it.

Special Agent Hunt Kincaid doesn’t trust journalists and has no patience for Pip’s delusions, especially since her meddling could reveal why the FBI is interested in her friend’s last days. The dead scientist worked at the cutting edge of vaccine research and might have a connection to a new, weaponized, vaccine-resistant anthrax strain that just hit the black market.

…just turned deadly.

Pip is thrown off her game by grief and her unexpected attraction to the handsome federal agent. Hunt battles the same unwelcome pull, determined to resist the heat that threatens to consume them both. But the more Pip digs, the closer she gets to both the sexy FBI agent, and to a bioweapons terrorist who’s more than capable of cold-bloodedly sacrificing anyone who gets in his way.

Add COLD BLOODED to Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2IIJoYs

COLD BLOODED releases June 12th – preorder your copy of COLD BLOODED now!

✦Amazon https://amzn.to/2GSDoLZ
✦iBooks https://apple.co/2GNV6jL
✦Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/2GTP2qg
✦Kobo http://bit.ly/2GPgN2Y
✦Google Play http://bit.ly/2IK5j1n

Read an excerpt of COLD BLOODED:

Hunt opened his wallet and pulled out enough bills to cover both meals.

She dug into her pocket for her wallet.

“I’ve got this,” he said.

She opened her mouth to argue.

“I’ve got this, Pip. Put your money away.”

She let him because it wasn’t worth fighting over. “I don’t like charity.”

“You can pay next time.”

It was a throwaway comment, a reflex on his part.

“Will there be a next time?” Hope, heat and vulnerability were naked in her voice, though she tried to disguise them. But she needed to know what this was between them.

He looked at her and something changed in his eyes, heated and softened. “What do you think?”

He took her hand and tugged her gently out of her seat and toward the door. Once on the sidewalk he turned to face her and brushed her hair to one side. Then he lowered his lips to hers and kissed her again. A jolt of heat shot along her nerves. Tangy and sizzling. Alive. She held onto his forearms as he tilted her chin and deepened the kiss.

His tongue touched hers and she moaned and felt him smile against her lips. She tangled her tongue with his. He tasted like beer and salt and hot alpha male. Her fingers traced the hard planes of his chest, the warm cotton of his t-shirt. The scent of his leather jacket mixed with the musky scent of his skin made her knees go a little weak.

He pulled back, still cupping her face. Before she could think or speak he kissed her again and a tremor of longing ran through her. She curled her fingers into his t-shirt and pulled him tighter against her.

When they broke away they were both breathing hard.

“Come on.” He took her hand and strode along the sidewalk, around the corner to their vehicles. He opened her door, boosting her into the seat, his hands lingering on her hips in a way that suggested he didn’t want to let go.

“Come home with me,” he said gruffly.

A wave of desire curled inside, tumbling her thoughts into a mass of confusion. She wanted him, but she’d always been lousy at casual sex. But goddamn it, she’d almost died today and this was something she’d been thinking about since he’d come to her room that morning. And that was before he’d thrown himself over her to save her from flying bullets.

They were only alive thanks to a fickle dose of good luck.

Live a little.

Cindy’s voice in her head dared her.

The dead woman was haunting her now.

His eyes were dark with night shadows. “I want to show you something.”

She snorted.

He grinned and took her hand, his fingers kneading the tension out of her joints. “That too, but if you’re not interested or you change your mind at any point, I will make sure you get home safely. There is something else I’d like to show you. Something important.”

She wasn’t one to trust easily, but what did she have to lose? This would be a way to forget the sadness from the last few days. Unlike drugs or alcohol, sex with Hunt Kincaid wouldn’t destroy her mind or body, though it might damage her heart.

But if she knew it was temporary going in, she could protect her heart. He’d be a distraction. Not an addiction.

She wanted this, she realized. She wanted him.

“Okay.”

 

See the COLD BLOODED trailer now:

About Toni Anderson

New York Times and USA Today international bestselling author, Toni Anderson, writes dark, gritty Romantic Suspense novels that have hit #1 in Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, the Top 10 in Amazon and Kobo stores, and the Top 50 in iBooks. Her novels have won many awards. A former Marine Biologist from Britain, she inexplicably ended up in the geographical center of North America, about as far from the ocean as it is possible to get. She now lives in the Canadian prairies with her Irish husband and two children and spends most of her time complaining about the weather.

Toni has no explanation for her oft-times dark imagination, and only hopes the romance makes up for it. She’s addicted to reading, dogs, tea, and chocolate.

If you want to know when Toni’s next book will be out, visit her website (http://www.toniandersonauthor.com) and sign up for her newsletter. If you want to read other fascinating stories about life in a city that, during winter, is sometimes colder than Mars, friend her on Facebook: (https://www.facebook.com/toniannanderson).

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter | Instagram | Pinterest

 

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COLD BLOODED by Toni Anderson Teaser Blitz

COLD BLOODED by Toni Anderson releases June 12th – we cannot wait! See a teaser and check out the awesome trailer below, then be sure to preorder your copy now.

Romantic suspense lovers – this is the series for you!

 

About COLD BLOODED

Available June 12th

Searching for the truth…

Disgraced investigative journalist Pip West is devastated when she discovers her best friend’s body face-down in a tranquil lake. When cops and federal agents determine that her friend overdosed then drowned, Pip knows they’re mistaken and intends to prove it.

Special Agent Hunt Kincaid doesn’t trust journalists and has no patience for Pip’s delusions, especially since her meddling could reveal why the FBI is interested in her friend’s last days. The dead scientist worked at the cutting edge of vaccine research and might have a connection to a new, weaponized, vaccine-resistant anthrax strain that just hit the black market.

…just turned deadly.

Pip is thrown off her game by grief and her unexpected attraction to the handsome federal agent. Hunt battles the same unwelcome pull, determined to resist the heat that threatens to consume them both. But the more Pip digs, the closer she gets to both the sexy FBI agent, and to a bioweapons terrorist who’s more than capable of cold-bloodedly sacrificing anyone who gets in his way.

Add COLD BLOODED to Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2IIJoYs

COLD BLOODED releases June 12th – preorder your copy of COLD BLOODED now!

✦Amazon https://amzn.to/2GSDoLZ
✦iBooks https://apple.co/2GNV6jL
✦Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/2GTP2qg
✦Kobo http://bit.ly/2GPgN2Y
✦Google Play http://bit.ly/2IK5j1n

 

 

See the COLD BLOODED trailer now:

 

About Toni Anderson

New York Times and USA Today international bestselling author, Toni Anderson, writes dark, gritty Romantic Suspense novels that have hit #1 in Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, the Top 10 in Amazon and Kobo stores, and the Top 50 in iBooks. Her novels have won many awards. A former Marine Biologist from Britain, she inexplicably ended up in the geographical center of North America, about as far from the ocean as it is possible to get. She now lives in the Canadian prairies with her Irish husband and two children and spends most of her time complaining about the weather.

Toni has no explanation for her oft-times dark imagination, and only hopes the romance makes up for it. She’s addicted to reading, dogs, tea, and chocolate.

If you want to know when Toni’s next book will be out, visit her website (http://www.toniandersonauthor.com) and sign up for her newsletter. If you want to read other fascinating stories about life in a city that, during winter, is sometimes colder than Mars, friend her on Facebook: (https://www.facebook.com/toniannanderson).

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter | Instagram | Pinterest

 

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Blog Tour: 13 by Rhonda James

Today we have the blog tour of 13 by Rhonda James! We are so excited to share this sexy new romance with you! Check it out and grab your copy today!

Title: 13

Author: Rhonda James

Genre: Contemporary Romance

About 13:

“Fake it till you make it.”

A notion I once considered utterly ridiculous. Until one crazy night with a mysterious man resulted in a social media frenzy that had the entire entertainment industry talking.

Seems a fake marriage was just what my career needed to make Hollywood come knocking.

Convincing him to continue the charade was almost too easy. The chemistry between us made it impossible to keep my hands to myself. But it was all just pretend, right? Love was never in the script.

That is, until he re-wrote it.

13 Reasons You Should Stay:

  1. I’m crazy about you
  2. I make you laugh
  3. You totally dig me

 

Get Your Copy:

Amazon U.S. | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Kobo | iBooks | B&N

 

My Review:

 

What would you do if you started to fall for the person you’re in a fake relationship with? From the minute Sophie and Hawk meet, there is an instant attraction and spark. Hawk is so smitten that he gives Sophie the bright idea to pretend to be married to get back at her ex. The last thing they expected was to run into each other and not only that but to continue to charade. The more time they spend together the more they fall for each other which then bring the fear of what will happen when its time to call it quits.

I absolutely loved Hawk. He was such a sweet heart and so swoon worthy. He was such a gentleman and always stood his ground on what he believed and never let Sophie persuade him. I loved that he didn’t let his fears stop him from pursuing Sophie.

Sophie was constantly struggling with her feelings and fears. I felt like she had a lot of growing up to do. I loved them together but Sophie on her own I wasn’t a huge fan of.

Overall it is definitely a must read. Some of my favorite “scenes” were when Hawk was performing so trust me for that part alone, you have to check it out.

 

About Rhonda:

Rhonda is an Amazon bestselling romance author who strives to create a book boyfriend for all her readers. She’s married and lives in Michigan with her family. In her spare time you can find her talking to readers, getting lost in a new book, or just spending time with her family.

Connect with Rhonda:

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The Roots Of Us By Candace Knoebel Blog Tour: Excerpt Reveal

We are so excited to be bringing out the release of THE ROOTS OF US by Candace Knoebel. Fans of contemporary romance won’t want to miss this new emotional story. Be sure to grab your copy today!

 

About THE ROOTS OF US

The first time I saw Hudson Jameson, he was saving someone’s life.
The second time, he was ruining mine.

It was only supposed to be a vacation. A chance to let the Florida sun burn away the residue left behind from my failed relationships. I wasn’t searching for love. I was on a hiatus from men, especially ones with secrets.

Except Hudson had the gaze of a man drowning in his own miseries, and I was a sucker for the damaged souls. How could I deny him? How could I resist when his lips claimed mine?

I knew I couldn’t stay.
He told me he couldn’t bear to leave.

But some roots intertwine and refuse to let go, no matter how far you run.

Add THE ROOTS OF US to your Goodreads TBR here!

Grab your copy of THE ROOTS OF US today!

Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon CA / Amazon AU

 

Read an excerpt from THE ROOTS OF US

Heightened voices rose from somewhere in the kitchen. I lifted my head when I heard a low, guttural growl. Assuming it was Hudson, I closed my laptop, curiosity picking at me once again. If there was a chance I could discover why Hudson had such a cloud hanging over his head, I had to take it.

I stood. Tip-toed forward, trying to peer through the serving window without being noticed.

“She won’t bite,” I heard the elderly woman say. “She’s just a woman, and it would do you some good to have no choice but to talk to someone. Especially someone of the opposite sex.”

She was giving him a run for his money. I already liked her.

“Martha—” Hudson said, his voice dipped in octaves that suggested she was nearing his limit for the day.

“Don’t Martha me,” she bit back at him. A lioness swatting at her cub. I inched forward, stopping just in front of the door as I tried to peek past the window to get a good look at the woman who reminded me so much of my Nona. “It’s been nearly a year since you rid yourself of that awful woman. It’s time for you to dip your feet back into the pool. You’re too young and good looking to be single. Now, get out there before she leaves.”

This was the part where my curiosity bit me in the ass. Or rather, shoved me on my ass.

With one, hard push, Hudson came barreling through the double doors, only, I was in the way. Trying to rush back to my table, I turned when the door caught the back of me.

Down I went.

I landed on my side, catching myself with my elbow as Hudson cursed behind me. When I turned, he was rubbing his forehead. I noted the bright red horizontal line across his forehead and the glaring look he threw over his shoulder, and put together that his forehead had collided with the frame due to his height. He grimaced when he noticed Martha shooing him forward with a brisk wave of her hands.

I was about to get to my feet when he turned back around and saw me on the ground. For a moment, he stood stone-still, eyebrows pressed together in a menacing furrow.

“I have a talent for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.” I laughed, but the sound was offbeat and kind of delirious as embarrassment painted my skin in bright shades of red.

“How did you—are you all right?” he asked as he offered a hand to help me up while holding a basket of bread. Gone was his rough demeanor, replaced by concern. Rocky and rough, yet serene and calm… Hudson. I liked the softness his features took when his guard was down. The round shape of worry circling the golden rings around his pupils.

I took his hand. Rough and marred with calluses. But that wasn’t what I noticed first. What I noticed first was how my skin seemed to ignite, like a tripwire set off, the sparks traveling through my veins until they filled my heart, bursting like fireworks.

I retracted. Insta-love wasn’t my thing.

“Yeah,” I managed as I brushed my hands against my shorts. I knew I shouldn’t have listened to that heady beating of my heart, but I had a weakness for men with rough edges and soft eyes and he was charging past the barricade I’d placed. I marked the acute details of his face. The faint lines in the corners of his eyes, probably from squinting in the sun too much.

And then there were those baby blues. Something familiar and slightly terrifying swimming inside them, sort of like staring at a white water rapid, wanting to dive in but knowing you’d be swept under in a heartbeat.

Nona had always said a man would come into my life one day and replace everything I thought I knew about love. He’d erase the hurt left behind from my dad. Teach me that not all men are monsters, and take every romantic cliché and multiply them by a thousand. The palms sweating, knees weak, skin tingling kind of clichés you read about.

I never believed her. Not until that moment.

 

About CANDACE KNOEBEL

Candace Knoebel is a hopeless romantic with an affinity for whiskey and good music. Her love of words began when she met the boy who lived in the cupboard under the stairs. She’s a self-proclaimed Lost Girl. Words are her mirror.

With two completed series, her work ranges from paranormal to contemporary, all centered heavily around romance. Currently she lives in Florida with her husband and two children, and has just completed her thirteenth novel, The Taste of Her Words.

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