Thursday, July 31, 2014

Book Blitz: Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Bet by Marilyn Brant, an Excerpt and a Giveaway!


Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Bet


Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Bet by Marilyn Brant 
(Perfect #2) 
Publication date: July 20th 2014
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Contemporary, Romance

**Note: PRIDE, PREJUDICE AND THE PERFECT BET is part of the "Perfect" series, but it can be enjoyed as a stand-alone novel**

The course of true love doesn't always run smooth…

Everyone thought Beth Ann Bennet and Dr. Will Darcy had an unexpected romance in Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Match (Perfect #1).

Now, Beth’s best friend, Jane Henderson, and Will’s first cousin, Bingley McNamara, begin their own unlikely love story in Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Bet (Perfect #2), which starts at the Bennet/Darcy wedding when the two of them find themselves in the roles of maid of honor and best man for the newlyweds.

Jane is an interning school psychologist and a woman who wears an angelic mask in public, but she’s not as sweet tempered as she’d like everyone to believe. Turns out, she may have just crossed paths with the one person who’ll unnerve her enough to get her to reveal her true self.

As for Bingley, he’s a wealthy, flirtatious, compulsively social guru of finance, who likes to wager on stocks and, let’s face it, on just about anything that strikes his fancy. But this dedicated ladies’ man may have finally met the woman who’ll challenge his bachelor ways!

Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Bet…where life’s biggest gamble is the game of love.



Excerpt

Jane pointed an accusatory finger at the red smudge on Bingley's shirt. “Slipped your mind already, eh? The lipstick? Clearly, you’ve already found another victim, and you didn’t even wait until after the bouquet toss.”

Bingley didn’t miss a step as they continued to dance, but he fingered his collar thoughtfully, almost as if he were lost in a memory. To Jane, it was like seeing a mask drop from his face, if only for an instant.

Then his expression changed.

His lips twisted into an absolutely devilish grin, which he paired with an eye-widening/eyebrow-raising movement that succeeded in giving him the most unsettling, most oxymoronic air of…rakish innocence.

What a conniving little rascal.

“You’re awfully curious about my whereabouts given that you want nothing to do with me yourself,” he said with the measured, pleasing tones of a late-night radio host. “What do you care about a—oh, how did you put it? Ah, yes, a ‘manipulative and insincere’ man like me? Why does it matter to you what I’m doing, hmm, chickie?”

“Do not call me chickie.”

His grin broadened as he did a little swivel step, spinning her around once. “Sorry, sweet pea. Is that better? Would you prefer plum cake? Honey bunch? Sugar bear? Darling Jane?”

“Just Jane.”

“As you wish,” he said with a laugh. “So, Just Jane, you still haven’t answered my question.”

“I’m not curious. And I don’t care what you do. Forget I said anything.”

“No worries, Just Jane. I’ve already forgotten everything you’ve ever said to me, including, but not limited to—” He lowered his voice. “Those little moans you made when I kissed your neck and sucked slowly on your lower lip.” There was a hardness in his tone, but he laughed for their audience on the sidelines, just like he’d done at the church. Looking every bit the delighted and amiable best man. Nodding at both his parents and hers as they passed near that side of the room. Twirling her again, just for show, a little faster this time. Fast enough that it was dizzying, and she felt the full effect of her lightheaded state.

Despite the cloudiness in her brain, though, something critically important became clear to her, and she needed to address it. She stopped dancing.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“I don’t like you.”

He sighed. “Yeah. Noted.”

“But—” She paused. “Look, can we talk over there?”

He nodded and let her lead him to an open area by the dessert table. The scent of cut slices of wedding cake infiltrated her senses. So much vanilla frosting and sliced strawberries. She got a sugar rush just from inhaling.

“Bingley,” she said, “whatever our personal feelings are, they don’t matter. We’re both really close to Beth and Will. Our paths are going to cross—probably a lot more often than either of us would like. I mean, seriously, if the Reverend Elton, our parents and all of these witnesses weren’t here, I’d love to strangle you for trying to play me this summer. But, for the sake of those we care about, we’re going to have to just be friends…or die trying to act the part.”

He smiled at her, though she couldn’t tell if it was more affectionate or patronizing, the way one might regard a na├»ve child. “Don’t you ever watch movies? Men and women can’t be friends. Not really. Not if both people are straight.” He shrugged. “We’re human. The sexual attraction will always get in the way. Every time.”

He drew closer to her and whispered, “Face it. This is not destined to be the start of a beautiful friendship. I, for one, can’t say I’ve ever spent ten seconds thinking about the undergarments of my friends. But the thought of what you’re wearing underneath that red dress has been plaguing me for hours. Zebra stripes? Leopard spots? Purple polka dots?” He eyed her bridesmaid gown with scrutiny, as if he might be able to see through the flimsy fabric.

"Well, stop thinking about it.” She snatched a plate with a piece of cake on it from the dessert table and thrust it at him. “Here, eat this. Just…just focus on something else.”

Bingley stood very still—the cake plate in his hand.

Abruptly, he broke off a corner section of the white cake and lifted it until it hovered between them like a spongy ghost. He licked his lips but, instead of eating the cake himself, he offered it to her. This was so unexpected that her jaw dropped open and, before she realized it, he’d slipped the bit of wedding cake into her mouth.

As she chewed, their gazes met again and something she definitely did not want to acknowledge passed between them.

He shook his head. “I thought you looked hungry,” he said, raising one dark eyebrow and handing the plate back to her. “When you’re ready to be honest with yourself, Just Jane, you let me know. Until then, I’ll playact ‘friendship’ with you in front of Will and Beth, but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s real. It’s ‘manipulative and insincere’…and, let’s not forget, it’s your idea.”

And, with that, Bingley McNamara strode away from her and out of the hotel ballroom.

About the author


Marilyn Brant is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of contemporary women’s fiction, romantic comedy & mystery. She was named the Author of the Year (2013) by the Illinois Association of Teachers of English. She loves all things Jane Austen, has a passion for Sherlock Holmes, is a travel addict and a music junkie, and lives on chocolate and gelato. 

Connect with Marilyn



Blitz-wide giveaway
Ends August 12th - open INTL
  • One signed paperback copy of the companion book from the series, PRIDE, PREJUDICE AND THE PERFECT MATCH (Will & Beth's story).
  • One signed paperback copy of Marilyn's bestselling coming-of-age romantic mystery, THE ROAD TO YOU. 
  • One Marilyn Brant t-shirt with musical notes. 
  • One ACCORDING TO JANE canvas tote bag. 
  • One A SUMMER IN EUROPE luggage tag. 
  • And one Godiva ice cream cone magnet.



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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Release Day: The Summer I Fell by Sonya Loveday and a Giveaway!

WP1

NA / Coming of Age
The book contains adult content and is appropriate for ages 17+. This means, the characters like to swear - or as we say in the south, cuss. While there is no strong sexual content, the story does imply the act itself. You have been warned ;)

Sonya EB copy

TSIFsynopsis

WP2

WP3
WP4

WP5

Find Sonya Loveday on Facebook, Goodreads and Wordpress
Other works by Sonya Loveday
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The Casted Series


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Monday, July 28, 2014

Devil's Lake by Aaron Paul Lazar and an Excerpt


Devil's Lake

Devil's Lake by Aaron Paul Lazar
e-book (262 pages)
Print and audio books are coming soon

After two years of brutal captivity, Portia Lamont has escaped and returned to her family’s Vermont horse farm—only to find her parents gone to New York to try an experimental treatment for her mother’s cancer, and her childhood friend Boone Hawke running the farm.

Like the rest of her family, Boone has never given up hope that Portia would return. But when she turns up battered, skinny as a twelve-year-old boy, afraid of everything and unable to talk about what happened, he does the only thing he can—try to help her heal. He summons the town doctor and Portia’s parents, and sets out to put this beautiful, broken woman back together again.

Through her family's love and Boone's gentle affection, Portia gradually comes back to herself, and starts to fall for her old friend in a whole new way. But one thing threatens her fragile hope for recovery: The man who took her promised that if she ever escaped, he'd kill her. Slowly. And someone is definitely watching her...waiting to make his next deadly move.


My thoughts about Devil's Lake ~~

First of all, some cover love. Isn't this cover just gorgeous? The images and colors are just amazing! 

Devil's Lake captured my attention from the very beginning. Portia is escaping, after being held by a horrible, sick man for 2 years. Her journey home in the stolen truck had my heart racing right along with hers. Would she be able to get home to safety before he came after her? Hurry, Portia, hurry! 
'Portia couldn't remember how she felt before it all happened. Before he took her, before he tied her to the bed, day after day, night after night. Before he took her soul.'
And then, after she gets home, is she really safe? And did she put her family in danger by coming home? 

There were parts of this book that made me GASP out loud. Even as awful as that can be for the characters in the story, I love when that happens to me, the reader. That is a sign that the author took the story in a direction that I wasn't expecting. It is awesome when that happens!  

I have to admit that even though I have a lot of Aaron's e-books, in particular, most of the Gus LeGarde Mysteries series, Devil's Lake is the first book of his that I have read -- at this point. My TBR list of Aaron's book is extremely long but I will be getting to it more quickly now, after reading this book. I really like his writing style and I am looking forward to diving into that mystery series that is patiently waiting for me. 

Excerpt

Chapter 1

Portia hauled on the wheel and dragged the old truck around a sharp corner, wincing when the engine popped and belched black smoke. The beat-up Chevy had been running rough since she left the highway an hour ago.

Come on, keep going. Just a few more miles.

Dust clouds marked her progress along the dirt road. She glanced in the rear view mirror for the millionth time, expecting to see the police chasing her.

Or him.

Tears streaked her cheeks, and she hiccupped a few sobs. She’d been weeping all the way from Wisconsin and felt dry now, as if she had no more tears to shed. Of course, that was insane. She’d probably cry all day, every day for the rest of her life.

Around yet another corner, and Cupcake slid toward her, scrabbling toenails on the vinyl seat. She steadied the little mutt, who snuggled close to her, blinking round black eyes.

“Sorry, baby.” Her voice cracked, roughened from all the crying.

Cupcake leaned into Portia, nuzzling under her arm.

She stroked the dog’s soft white ears. “Good girl. You’re my good little dog.”

She’d stolen the mongrel and the truck when she escaped—was it really only two days ago? Hurriedly thrusting her little friend into the front seat, she’d roared away from the cabin.

When she’d emerged from the woods in the old Chevy, bleary-eyed and shaken, completely disoriented, she’d followed the dusty road toward a village, where a row of eclectic stores lined both sides of a narrow street. In search of directions, she stumbled into the first gas station she could find.

There she was. Hungry. Weary. Traumatized. Skinny as a twelve-year-old boy. And the store clerk hadn't even given her a second glance. He’d pointed down the road in the direction of the highway, and had gone right back to texting without meeting her eyes.

Glancing into the rear view mirror, filled with irrational fear, again she half-expected to see him chasing her.

She forced herself to relax.

Just calm the hell down.

Sighing, she patted Cupcake with her free hand. “We just need to get home. That’s all.”

Home.

Internally, the need to scream clawed at her. Somehow, she stifled it and told herself she’d be there soon.

As if welcoming her, the Green Mountains surged into the clouds in the background, guarding the rolling hills of the valley where her family’s farm nestled in the hollow.

Oh, how she’d dreamed of this day.

Two long years. Two years of wishing. Of wanting. Of daring to hope.

She hiccupped another sob.

Bittersweet Hollow. She’d desperately yearned for it, picturing her mother’s kind face, the smell of her bread baking in the oven. She’d imagined her father quietly helping to deliver a new foal and the scent of fresh pine shavings on his wool shirt. She remembered leaning into his broad chest, feeling so safe. So protected.

Every night, she repeated the farm name as a mantra before sleep, after the man tied her to the bedposts.

The memories of her parents had comforted her then, and the thought of coming home filled her with a twisty sense of near-maniacal joy.

Her heart slammed against her ribs, quickening with every milestone she recognized.

Almost there.

Portia peered through the dusty windshield, savoring the view of the mountains that rose from the undulating wheat fields and indigo blue foothills in the distance. The scent of fresh-mown alfalfa entered the cab, prompting sweet memories of her childhood. The road dipped into the valley—affectionately called The Hollow by locals—into the protected basin cradled by hills on one side and mountains on the other.

Cupcake raised her head, sniffing the air.

“We’re almost home, baby.”

The dog licked Portia’s outstretched hand.

“When we get there, you can run free.”

Her voice shook, and she realized her words came fast—too fast, really. She’d been holding herself together like a cracked vase hastily glued to hide the broken shards and missing pieces. She knew she’d break apart soon, but if she could just make it a few more miles…

The scruffy dog sat up on her haunches, balancing like a circus dog, sticking her nose out the partially opened window.

They rolled around the last bend. There it was!

A surge of shuddering joy passed through Portia. They drove under an archway made from twining grapevines that reached out to twist together from both sides of the road. Beneath the natural arch, a rustic sign hung, swaying in the faint breeze, proclaiming a welcome to Bittersweet Hollow, a Morgan Horse Farm.

Beneath the name in dark blue script: Dirk and Daisy Lamont, Proprietors. Orange berries adorned the edges of the sign, celebrating the farm’s namesake, the beautiful but dangerous berries that filled the woods and burst into vibrant color in the fall.

In the distance, several barns emerged, flanked by emerald pastures encircled with expansive rectangles of white post and board fences. Dozens of horses populated the acreage, with coats ranging from blazing red chestnut to bright bay to dark seal brown. In his own separate paddock, her family’s black stallion, Mirage, raised his head and trotted to the fence near the driveway. He stood proud and strong, his long curly mane rippling in the breeze.

In spite of the lingering pall of darkness, Portia’s heart swelled with uncontrolled exhilaration. After all this time of wanting, wishing, and yearning for The Hollow.

Finally, she was home.

***

Boone Hawke watched the old Chevy truck rumbling toward him along the driveway, spewing a trail of smoke. He straightened, wiped his brow with a blue bandana, and stepped closer to the open hayloft door. Another customer, horse hunting? He couldn't assume they had no money because they drove an old wreck. It wasn't unusual for good old Vermont stock to keep their vehicles until they rattled to the junkyard and died. In spite of their frugal ways, they still valued horses and would spend good money on a well-bred mount. He figured if he could sell one of the young mares today, he’d put cash in Dirk and Daisy Lamont’s bank account for when they came home.

If they came home.

It hadn't been easy taking care of his neighbors’ horses while they were gone, especially in the winter. One month turned to two. Two months became four. Now it had been six months since they left.

The checks they sent to keep the farm running had been just about enough for expenses, but he’d had to pitch in from his own farm’s funds on occasion when the Lamonts’ tractor broke, or when the barn roof needed patching. He didn't want to add to their troubles, so he kept a ledger of his expenses and figured he’d pay himself back the next time a horse sold. The poor people had already been through enough, what with losing their eldest daughter to God-knows-what and now with Daisy’s illness.

With a grunt, he lifted and tossed the last hay bale onto a pile that almost reached the roof peak. He straightened, dusted off his hands, and started down the wooden ladder. Swiping at his unruly blond hair, he summoned a smile and ambled out into the sunlight.

About the author


Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. An award-winning, bestselling Kindle author of three addictive mystery series, writing books, and a new love story, Aaron enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys. 

Visit his website at http://www.lazarbooks.com and watch for his upcoming SANCTUARY and MURDER ON THE SACANDAGA.

Connect with Aaron



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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Last Day of RAGBRAI - Enter the Giveaway, 7 Winners!


It's the last day of RAGBRAI. 

 We are almost done. See my original post here to see what RAGBRAI is all about.

You have one more day to offer encouragment and to enter the giveaway to win one of 7 books. Any book you want up to $10. Good luck!

This year, there will be one giveaway with 7 winners, but you will have chances to leave comments, tweet, and share every day for more chances to win. Like I said, they really loved and appreciated all the comments. 


Click here if you want to find out more about RAGBRAI

And now the giveaway!

You get extra entries if you come back each day to tweet and/or leave comments for my riders. When I get back, I will select 7 names, one for each day of the ride. The winners will be able to select a book (up to $10) from either Amazon.com or The Book Depository.

So be sure to come back each day 
to give these gals some support!

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Release Day: Daisies by Joshua Senter, a Guest Post, and a Giveaway!



Daisies

Daisies by Joshua Senter
Paperback
Published July 22nd 2014 by Diversion Books

Love is a lesson learned over lifetimes.

Spanning three generations, Daisies is a stirring debut novel from a singular talent. In 1954, awkward Gwen Hisel falls in love with the affable Willie Bennett on the dusty Oklahoma prairie. What follows is a harsh life for the two youngsters as they struggle to make the best of their difficult circumstances.

Twenty years later, Sheila Hisel, daughter of Gwen and Willie, marries Darrel McAllister. But while her parents’ love for one another had seen them through tribulation and adversity, Sheila’s own marriage crumbles under the strain of hard times.

Now, if Sheila’s son, Lonnie, ever wants to succeed in love, he must unravel the mysteries of two very different relationships to discover the secret to true happiness.



About the author


Joshua Senter was raised in the Ozark Mountains where he was homeschooled along with his four sisters on a five hundred acre farm. He moved to Los Angeles in August 1997 to pursue a degree in filmmaking from Art Center College of Design. In 2002 he started writing for the hit Showtime series The L Word. A year later, he joined the international phenomenon, Desperate Housewives, where he was nominated for a Writer’s Guild of America award for his episode, Don’t Look at Me. In 2013 Joshua began writing and co-producing a new show for ABC Family, Chasing Life, which will begin airing in 2014.

Daisies, is Joshua’s debut novel.

What No One Else Can Hear
By Joshua Senter

You're walking along, minding your own business. Maybe you're at the zoo or the park or on the subway. Maybe you're lying in bed after a night out or sleeping in on a Sunday morning, and suddenly there is a voice that is your own but which you feel disassociated from, too. From inside your head it talks to you only. It informs you that some thought, some idea, some little moment you just experienced is more than just a moment, it is a concept worthy of fleshing out. You listen to this voice because it stills all others in your head. It has this incredible power to focus you. You grow quiet. You listen. It begins to sprout tendrils like an ivy inside your mind branching off to other places and other moments it has also brought to your attention before, weaving different concepts together in a delicate tapestry, light as a cloud and just as fragile. Then, sometimes in the midst of listening to this voice you are distracted and for a while you move on to other matters. And sometimes the cloud that was forming dissipates. But sometimes it mushrooms until it is so distracting that you must take what the voice in your head has drawn your attention to and write it down so that it is released into the world for others to hear.

In the case of my novel, DAISIES, the voice gnawed at me to tell the story of how people learn to love from those that came before them. And this concept grew determinedly, connecting with other ideas until like a massive chorus it became so loudly trumpeted in my head that nothing short of a novel would do it justice. So, I sat down to write my first book. And it's incredible that despite how loudly the inspiration clamors, when you sit down to a blank computer screen, it suddenly vanishes as though playing coy, or maybe it just seems to vanish because you become overwhelmed by the massive organism one idea has branched out into. But instead of beating a hasty retreat, the trick is to pick one small tendril of thought from the massive symphony and listen to its whisper. For DAISIES, I first heard the wind over the Oklahoma prairie. And then, Gwen (one of the protagonists) arrived under the warm summer sun wearing a limp, thread bare dress. She was old enough to be a woman but young enough she was still a little awkward. She was in love with a boy named Willie. It was true love. And their romance would work out in the long run because for them it was simple love, untainted and without bruise. Gwen spoke so softly it was almost hard to hear her. But, Willie spoke even more gently. It was such a charm to write them both. Then, came Gwen and Willie's daughter, Sheila, who was incredibly feisty and opinionated, the polar opposite of her parents. And with Sheila arrived Darrel and her son Lonnie and a host of others all separated out then blended, once again, into my story.

Scientists say that the brain reacts to what is imagined the same way it reacts to what is real. This is why reading and writing feel so magic. And that's why, when people wonder how I can be alone all day with just the click, click, click of my typewriter keys, I tell them I'm not alone at all. In one writing session, I can be joined by a variety of characters, and they surprise even me with their antics. Sometimes, they literally depress me. Sometimes, they make me laugh. Sometimes they make me cry or nervous enough I bite off all my fingernails in the process of telling their story. And just like that initial voice that is my own but is also completely unattached to me, all of the characters in the stories I write come from me but are not me. I know this because when I finally finish a project, I always take a step back to get my mind off of it. Then weeks later I return and read what I've written, and I can never remember how the story I'm reading came to exist. I remember being there as a siphon of sorts -- I must've been for the words now stare back at me from where once they didn't exist! But in truth, it’s as though I had gone out of body to do my work and now returned to find it complete. It's magic. It's also a little insane, I suppose. And after all is finished, after all those voices inside you have been unleashed, everyone blames the result whether good or bad on you the writer no matter who your accomplices.

And then the journey begins all over. You're walking along, minding your own business. Maybe you’re at the grocery store or sipping a cup of coffee and there is a voice that speaks to you and only you. And you wonder if it will be persistent, or if it will dwindle away. If it stays. If it grows. If it becomes a choir of other voices, then you know what you must do. And that’s when you begin to write, once more.

Connect with Joshua





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Monday, July 21, 2014

Rise Up Volume Two: Indie Authors Against Cancer, A Benefit Collection and the Trailer


Rise Up 
Volume Two


“We all know how fragile life is, especially when faced with a life threatening illness.” ~ Nic, Flirty and Dirty Book Blog. 

Fiction introduced us. Reality binds us together. 

Stephanie Thomas - co-founder of The Indie Bookshelf  - has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer called glioblastoma. Stephanie isn’t only a blogger; she’s a loving wife, and mother to three young boys. 

In the independent author community, we have an extraordinary network of fellow authors, and readers. A special group of people who bridge this gap—helping authors connect with readers—is book bloggers. These men and women dedicate hours upon hours to reading and reviewing our works, and spreading the word to help us reach new readers. 

Now, one of these women needs our help. 

100% of the proceeds of the Rise Up anthology (volumes one and two) will go directly to Stephanie and her family to help them on this unexpected leg of their journey together. 

Inside the pages of this collection, you’ll find amazing works of fiction. But please remember the reality, and help support Stephanie and her family. 



Included in Volume Two of this collection
 are the following novels: 

Always There - Carol Ann Albright-Eastman
Republic - Charles Sheehan-Miles
Seeds of Hate - Melissa Perea
In The Fields - Willow Aster
Bar Crawl - Andrea Randall
Totaled - Stacey Grice
Running from Forever - Ashley Wilcox
Crossing Paths - Melanie Stinnet
Going Home - Rhonda Dennis
Never Goodbye - Kerri Williams
Without Boundaries - CJ Azevedo
Binds - Rebecca Espinoza
The Forgotten Ones - Laura Howard


Rise Up Volume Two purchase links


Connect with these wonderful authors! 


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