Thursday, January 30, 2014

New Release: Beauty From Love by Georgia Cates

Beauty from Love (Beauty #3)
By: Georgia Cates
Released January 30, 2014
An Adult Contemporary Romance
The epic romance between an all-American beauty and her Aussie continues in this final installment of The Beauty Series. Jack McLachlan is fulfilled by more than he dared to dream possible. He finds everything he never knew he wanted—or needed—in Laurelyn Prescott, his last and final companion. Life is beautiful with his beloved by his side but their post-wedded bliss is cut short when his dark past springs into their present happiness. He wants to shelter Laurelyn but keeping her untainted by his previous life proves impossible when yesterday’s sins insist on returning to haunt him. Will it be possible for them to find happiness in their forever with a past like his? Beauty From Love is an adult contemporary novel and is not intended for younger readers due to mature content.

About the Author 
Georgia resides in rural Mississippi with her wonderful husband, Jeff, and their two beautiful daughters. She spent fourteen years as a labor and delivery nurse before she decided to pursue her dream of becoming an author and hasn’t looked back yet. When she’s not writing, she’s thinking about writing. When she’s being domestic, she’s listening to her iPod and visualizing scenes for her current work in progress. Every story coming from her always has a song to inspire it.

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Monday, January 27, 2014

Blog Tour: Hardpressed (Hacker #2) by Meredith Wild

Title: Hardpressed (Hacker#2)
Author: Meredith Wild
Genre: Erotic Romance 18+
Publication Date: December 9, 2013
Event organized by: Literati Author Services, Inc.


In Hardpressed, the highly anticipated second book of the Hacker Series that began with Hardwired, Blake and Erica face threats that put both their love and their lives on the line. Despite Blake Landon’s controlling ways, the young and wealthy hacker finally won the trust of the woman he loves. Internet entrepreneur Erica Hathaway broke down the walls that kept her from opening her heart and her business to Blake. Ready to start this new chapter in her life, Erica is determined not to let anything come between them, even if that means giving Blake back some of the control he craves in and out of the bedroom. But when demons from her past threaten their future, Erica makes a decision that could change their lives forever.

Add Hardpressed to Goodreads

Purchase Links for Hardpressed: Amazon US | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play

Purchase Links for Hardwired: Amazon US | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play

About the Author

Meredith Wild picked up her first romance novel at the tender age of twelve, and shortly after put pen to word processor and made her first attempt at writing a love story inspired by those she so enjoyed reading well past her bedtime.Her dream of writing took a back seat to college, parenthood and eventually entrepreneurship, which led her into the fast-paced and male-dominated high tech industry. With enough life experience for a few lifetimes, she now devotes her hours to writing contemporary adult romance, with a hint of kink.Her debut novel Hardwired tells the story of billionaire bad boy, Blake Landon, and the object of his obsession, strong-willed tech startup CEO, Erica Hathaway.When she isn’t writing or mothering, Meredith can be found sunbathing with an adult beverage.

Connect with the Author: Blog | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest

My Review:
All I have to say is WOW. Hardpressed is a great sequel to Hardwired. I honestly could not get enough of both books. I was instantly hooked.  I wanted it to continue forever.

Erica is independent, determined and driven. Her mother died when she was 12 leaving her with only her step father. When she goes to boarding school, she loses him as well. Having to take care of herself for years, she is not used to someone telling her how to run her life. Enters Blake Landon. Blake is the typical alpha male and needs to dominate and control everything. When Erica and Blake first meet sparks fly.

In Hardpressed, Erica is just as independent as ever, yet, she begins to accept (little by little of course) Blake’s dominate and possessive. I love the relationship between Erica and Blake. There is A LOT of steam but there love is precious.  They always put each other first no matter what. I have read other novels of the same genre and this series provides you with something different. It is completely addictive. I have been going to bed at 3am every night while reading it because I needed to know what was going to happen.

This book left me speechless at times. At some parts, I had no idea the author was going to go that route but I enjoyed it none the less. We meet some new characters along the way and some of the characters show you their real agenda is this book. I am so EXCITED to read the next book, Hardline. I really want to get my hands on it.

My Rating:
4.5 stars out of 5

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, January 26, 2014

In My Mailbox (29) & Stacking the Shelves (35)

Welcome to this week's In My Mailbox. In My Mailbox (IMM) is hosted by The Story Siren, who was inspired by a fellow book blogger Alea of Pop Culture Junkie. It features books I have bought or received for review.

Stacking the Shelves by Tynga`s Reviews is about adding books to my shelves I received during the past week whether it is physical or virtual.

Bought from Chapters/Indigo( Hard Cover):


Bought from Amazon:

Received for Review:

I got a few books this week. They all look great and I am really excited for when I am able to read them. I am halfway through Unspoken (the first book in the Lynburn Legacy) and I know Untold will be great as well. I have been hearing a lot of buzz about Jennifer Armentrout`s new series about Gargoyles, so I am looking forward to that. The Secret Diamond Sisters sounds different and should be an interesting read. 
In the next few weeks, there are going to be some great books coming out. Should be great!!!!!


Friday, January 24, 2014

Cover Reveal: Burn Me by Shelley Watters

An Adult Contemporary Romance
Releasing April 29, 2014
Published by Swoon Romance

After her twin brother dies in a house fire, firefighter Katrina Hale is determined to prove she’s stronger than the flames. But while her focus on her career leaves little room in her life for romance and her current relationship fizzles, she soon discovers fighting fires is nothing compared to the scorching desire she feels in fellow firefighter Greyson Neal's arms. Firefighter Greyson Neal is the type of guy girls dream about when they want their knight in shining armor to wear bunker gear. But he’s not interested in fulfilling every girl’s fantasies. Now he wants the one woman he can never have, and she seems hell-bent on getting herself killed to prove that she’s worthy of her job. Kat must choose between her career and her heart, and fight to keep them both when an arsonist threatens to take it all away.

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About the Author Shelley Watters writes romance for young adults and adults. She lives in Arizona with her husband, two kids and two dogs. She loves listening to music, reading good books and letting her imagination go wild as she creates new worlds and torments her characters in delicious ways. 

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (35)

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

What a beautiful cover! This looks like it is going to be an AMAZING book. I am so excited to get my hands on it!!!

Expected Publication Date: March 4, 2014

Synopsis: (Taken from Goodreads)
Winning what you want may cost you everything you love 

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. 

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. 

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. 

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

What books are you waiting to be released???


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Cover Reveal: Where We Hide by Dulaney-Glen

Where We Hide
An Adult Contemporary Romance
By Authors Dulaney-Glen
Releasing March 2014
Cover designed by Okay Creations

It was a wrinkled, white envelope pushed to the back of the mailbox. In it, a note carrying one word written at the top … Tallence. It held everything that I had been hiding from for twelve years ... our past, our memories, the pain, and the hope of healing. Everything that I had given up on in just one letter, and all it said was: Everyone is hiding from something … until we’re not, and that’s when the real struggle begins. When there’s nothing and nowhere left to hide. I’m done hiding. -Grant

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 About the Authors K. Dulaney & J. Glen, sisters & authors.
K. Dulaney was born, raised, and still resides in the Mountains of North Carolina. She is the proud mother to an amazing little boy, and happily married to her high school sweetheart. Dulaney attended Southern Universities and obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Masters in Family Studies. Her passion for reading and books began at very early age, and Dulaney dreamed of one day writing stories of her own. Partnering with her sister, J. Glen, they began a journey that has exceeded their expectations and proven that through hard work and determination, that dream can be a reality. J. Glen is a North Carolina native currently residing in a small mountainous town. She attended an East Coast university and obtained a degree in Communication and Journalism. With an interest in writing at a young age, Glen had one idea of the perfect career and now, along with the help of her sister, she's embarking on a journey to achieve just that. 

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

In My Mailbox (28) & Stacking the Shelves (34)

Welcome to this week's In My Mailbox. In My Mailbox (IMM) is hosted by The Story Siren, who was inspired by a fellow book blogger Alea of Pop Culture Junkie. It features books I have bought or received for review.

Stacking the Shelves by Tynga`s Reviews is about adding books to my shelves I received during the past week whether it is physical or virtual.

Bought from Amazon:

Darkness of Light by Stacey Marie Brown

In the Stillness by Andrea Randall

Forever With You (Fixed #3) by Laurelin Paige

What books did you purchase or receive this week???


Friday, January 17, 2014

Cover Reveal: Wickingham Way by S.R. Grey

Wickingham Way
Final novel of A Harbour Falls Mystery Trilogy
Romantic Suspense/Contemporary Romance/Mystery
Releasing February 28, 2014
Cover designed by Damonza

When Maddy Fitch discovers there's a hit out on the love of her life--the handsome, but often secretive Adam Ward--she concludes life with such a powerful man may never be normal. But who wants normal? Not Maddy--mystery writer and sometimes-sleuth. The heart-stopping action begins immediately in Wickingham Way when an attempt is made on Adam's life, prompting the couple to seek refuge at a "safe house." Tucked away in a cabin deep in the heart of Maine, Maddy and Adam fall deeper in love. But their happiness is cut short when someone they care deeply for is kidnapped, by the same organization that wants Adam Ward dead. Adam and Maddy return to Harbour Falls, and a dangerous cat-and-mouse games ensues. Twists and turns abound, keeping Maddy and Adam on their toes. But will the consequences of the decisions they must make prove deadly? Only time will tell. Final novel of A Harbour Falls Mystery Trilogy. Contemporary Romance/Mystery genres. *Mature themes, graphic sex, violence*

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  About the Author S.R. Grey is the author of the bestselling novel Harbour Falls, as well as Willow Point and Wickingham Way (due out January 2014), all novels in A Harbour Falls Mystery series. She is also the author of I Stand Before You, the first novel in the Judge Me Not series (New Adult/Contemporary Romance genres). Ms. Grey resides in western Pennsylvania. She has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree, as well as an MBA. Her background is in business, but her passion lies in writing. She is currently working on Never Doubt Me, the second novel of the Judge Me Not series. Expected publication: Spring 2014. When not writing, Ms. Grey can be found reading, traveling, running, or cheering for her hometown sports teams. 

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

January New Release Giveaway Hop

Hosted by Book Nerd 

I am giving away any book being released in January 2014. This giveaway is international. I am only giving away a book from The Book Depository, if it does not have the book you want I am sorry :( The Book Depository will be shipping the book. I am not responsible for any damaged packages. Open to anyone 13 and over. The winner will be announced on the Rafflecopter widget.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, January 12, 2014

In My Mailbox (27) & Stacking the Shelves (33)

Welcome to this week's In My Mailbox. In My Mailbox (IMM) is hosted by The Story Siren, who was inspired by a fellow book blogger Alea of Pop Culture Junkie. It features books I have bought or received for review.

Stacking the Shelves by Tynga`s Reviews is about adding books to my shelves I received during the past week whether it is physical or virtual. I received these books in the week.

Bought at Chapters/Indigo: (Hard copy)

Unpsoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

Bought from Amazon:

I am currently reading Unspoken and it is extremely entertaining. I have been looking forward to Awaken for the past few weeks because the first 2 books were extremely good but I have not gotten a chance to yet. **Fingers crossed** hopefully soon, depending on when I finish Unspoken. 

What books did you purchase or receive this week???

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (34)

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

I love the cover for this book. It is beautiful. I also love Beauty and the Beast so I book based on it is definitely right up my alley. I am a big fan of stories with Nyx so I am incredibly excited!

Expected Publication Date: January 28, 2014

Synopsis: (Taken from Goodreads)
Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl's journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.

Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

What books are you waiting to be released???


Cover Reveal: Broken Glamour by Maggie Marr

The Glamour Series, Book #2
New Adult Contemporary
Releasing March 2014
Cover designed by Okay Creations

Losing it all…is a new beginning Amanda Legend grew up rich and privileged. Anything was hers for the asking, thanks to her superstar father. That is until Amanda’s honesty about bad behavior from her soon-to-be-new Step Mom, a former school chum, lands Amanda on the outs with her beloved father. No Trust fund. No rarified world. Even if Amanda never wanted the LA lifestyle, she now must survive on her own. A come-back takes heart.... Ryan Sinclair was nearing the pinnacle of his movie career when he drove his Porsche off Malibu Canyon Road. Lucky to be alive, post rehab he's ready to start the long climb back to the top. But to prove to Hollywood that he won't relapse, he's required to get a sober companion. A job she never wanted with the man who helped destroy her life... Amanda Legend may loathe the entertainment world, but she understands the rules. She also knows Ryan Sinclair, understands alcoholics (she grew up around a few) and now, after being banished from her posh lifestyle, needs a paycheck to get to New York. Amanda accepts the job as sober companion to Ryan Sinclair for his first film post rehab. But Amanda must learn to ignore her attraction to Ryan, because falling for a guy like him would pull her back into a world she desperately wants to escape.

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  About the Author   Maggie Marr grew up in the Midwest and made the move to Los Angeles to work in the movie business. She was a motion picture literary agent for ICM before becoming a full time writer. She's written for film and TV and ghostwritten for celebrities. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and children.

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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Review: Pawn (The Blackcoat Rebellion #1) by Aimee Carter

Title: Pawn (The Blackcoat Rebellion #1)
Author: Aimee Carter
Release Date: November 26, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 346
Source: Received egalley for review



For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country.

If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked—surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister's niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter.

There's only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered, the same one that got her killed …and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that's not her own, she must decide which path to choose—and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she's only beginning to understand.

Previously titled Masked.

My Thoughts:

I have not read much Dystopian so Pawn was a rare treat for me. This world Aimee Carter has created is all about a single test that decides the rest of your life. If you don’t do well on the test, your whole life is ruined. You are defined by the test. For Kitty, who is not able to read, she is given a III.  In this world, you have to get a IV or above to have a decent life. She decides to run away instead and it isn’t until she is Masked to look like the Prime Minister’s niece Lila Hart that the story actually starts.

Pawn is an awesome mixture of intrigue, betrayal and manipulation. It shows you that even the most powerful family may appear perfect in public but truly is corrupt to the core. Although I thought some parts were predictable, I thought it was still pretty good; other parts of the story kept me on my toes. I am still shocked by some of the things that happened. I mean, I knew some of the events were going to happen but I am still shocked nonetheless.

You really can’t trust anyone in the world of Pawn. Things always seem or appear one way but end up being totally different. Everyone is out for themselves and Kitty ends up right in the middle of it. She is used like a chess piece, everyone wanting her to do different things. Daxton (Prime Minister) and Augusta (his mother) wants to control Kitty while Celia (Lila’s mother) wants her to help carry out her revenge. There are so many elements to this story.

 I really liked Kitty. She is smart, strong, outspoken and determined. She does what is right while trying to protect the ones she loves. In less than 2 weeks, she has to learn everything about Lila: her mannerisms, her accent, and her voice, basically everything about Lila to convince everyone that she is the beloved niece of the Prime Minister. Everywhere she turns, Kitty is faced with threats and conspiracies.

 I liked that the book focused on action although I would have liked to have seen a little more romance in the story. The author’s writing was seamless. Pawn was an engaging read that all dystopian lovers will enjoy. A book based on betrayal, manipulation and political intrigue, this is not a story I will forget anytime soon. 

Thank you Harlequin Teen for sending me this book for an honest review.

My Rating: 
4 out of 5 stars


Monday, January 6, 2014

Sneak Peek: Sun and Moon by Lee Strauss

Coming January 26th!

If you’re a fan of the movie Inside Llewyn Davis, ABC television’s Nashville or Colleen Hoover’s upcoming novel, "Maybe Someday", the Minstrel Series is for you!

The Minstrel Series is a collection of contemporary romance novels set in the singer/songwriter world. The books are companion novels, with shared settings and characters, but each are complete standalone stories with a HEA (happily ever after) and no cliffhangers!
She has a past. He has a secret.
Katja Stoltz is a risk-taking singer-songwriter hoping to make it in the indie music scene in Dresden, Germany. Micah Sturm's a brooding uptown banker on a quest.

Driven to the streets, Katja is picked up by Micah - but he doesn't want what she thinks he does.

There’s an undeniable attraction between them, a gravitational pull they both struggle to resist. Katja knows she mustn’t fall in love with this handsome enigma. There’s something dark lurking beneath the surface. He could be dangerous.

And even if her life isn’t on the line, her heart most definitely is.

*not erotica - no explicit sex or coarse language

Sneak Peek:
They went back to Micah’s flat to change and get ready. Katja chose the shimmery, little black dress. With silver, strapped heels, and her hair piled in a messy up-do, she could easily pass for one of those uptown girls.

Micah’s reaction when she’ presented herself was especially ignited. His eyes popped and his jaw slacked. Then he whistled. “Simply beautiful.” He grabbed her hand and tugged her, snapping her body to his. He rested his forehead on hers and inhaled.

“You smell amazing.” His lips made a butterfly trail from her temple, over her cheekbone to her lips as his hands explored her curves. She quivered under his touch, every neuron in her body resounding with a loud, yes!

He kissed the base of her neck in a way that made her knees give out. They fell on the bed, and she almost exploded. They kissed with a passion Katja had never experienced before. They had pushed through the force field. They were in his room, on his bed. Her hands trailed down his back, his moved up her thighs. They moved together with a rhythm of passion, crescendoing and dipping, losing their breath, then finding room to breathe. Katja never wanted it to end.

Still, there was a line Micah was still not willing to cross. He ducked his head in the crook of her neck and took several long breaths. Then he pressed up on his elbow, and stared at her. He ran a finger along her brow, pushing hair off her face.

“You are so beautiful.” He kissed her forehead again. “But, we have reservations.”

She laughed. “I think I have to do my hair over.”

He pulled her off the bed and playfully smacked her behind. “Get to it then, we don’t want to be late.”

This series is an exciting collaboration between Lee Strauss as an Indie Author and several very talented Indie Singer-Songwriters. Four original songs produced by Norm Strauss(link) are featured in Sun & Moon and are performed by award-winning Canadian singer-songwriter KimMcMechan(link). MP3 links are included at the end.

Check out the music video!

All the songs from the Minstrel Series can be found at Bandcamp (link)

The Minstrel Series also has its own Facebook page(link). Go Like it to follow all the upcoming Minstrel Series news!

Pre- orders now available at the pre-release price of 2.99! (price goes up after launch)

itunes | kobo | Barnes & Noble

Lee is giving away prizes to celebrate the upcoming launch of Sun & Moon

Enter to win a $50 Amazon gift card, MP3s of all four songs featured on Sun & Moon, and a 12 month calendar from Dresden, Germany featuring many of the settings found in Sun & Moon.

Dresden, Germany

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Sunday, January 5, 2014

In My Mailbox (26) & Stacking the Shelves (32)

Welcome to this week's In My Mailbox. In My Mailbox (IMM) is hosted by The Story Siren, who was inspired by a fellow book blogger Alea of Pop Culture Junkie. It features books I have bought or received for review.

Stacking the Shelves by Tynga`s Reviews is about adding books to my shelves I received during the past week whether it is physical or virtual. This post is about the books I received in the past couple of weeks.

Bought from Amazon:

Back to You by Priscilla Glenn

Received for Review:
Hardwired (Hacker #1) by Meredith Wild

Hardpressed (Hacker #2) by Meredith Wild

Believe by Erin McCarthy

Happy New Year! I predict 2014 to be a great year in books. I have a few personal goals I would like to fulfill. One of them is reading as much as I can. On Goodreads I put 80 but I would like to go way over that. I would also like to build up this blog. I am so excited to start reading these books I received the past couple of weeks. 

Do you have any goals for 2014???

Any reading goals you hope to obtain???

I hope you have a good week!


Saturday, January 4, 2014

Book Highlight: Unfiltered & Unlawful by Payge Galvin & Ronnie Douglas

Title: Unfiltered & Unlawful
Author: Payge Galvin & Ronnie Douglas
Series: Unfiltered #1
Genre: Adult Romance
Expected Publication: January 15, 2013

After a night-shift shooting of a drug dealer in The Coffee Cave, thirteen strangers each walk out with more than $100,000 in dirty money, a pact never to meet again, and the chance to start over …

Until that night, Sasha "Sugar" Kovac spent her days selling coffee to the co-eds at ASU Rio Verde and her nights trying not to run back to her ex…or join the throngs of girls lusting after her friend, Adam.

But why should Sugar give in to the Harley-riding tattoo artist when his longest relationships haven't lasted more than a weekend?

Sugar's life takes a turn for the dangerous when someone comes looking for the people connected to the Cave shooting and the cash they split. To protect herself and those she cares about, Sugar has to get out of town --and fast.  When Adam insists on coming with her, Sugar finds herself holed up in a tiny house with a hot man, a stash of cash, and a lot of secrets.

Can Sugar protect both her life and her heart when temptation is so close? Or is the past she's fled going to catch up with her?
"A full-throttle read that's dangerously sexy and exciting. I can't wait to see what happens next!"  -- Jeaniene Frost, NY Times bestselling author of the Night Huntress Series



Chapter 1

First there was sex, and then came death. I just had no idea that the two were so tangled together until everything fell apart so spectacularly.  I was at work at The Coffee Cave on Saturday night trying to ignore thoughts of the sex I couldn’t have—and consequently craved even more than the drugs that I used to need more than my next gasp of air. 
I’d been off the poison for going on five months and away from my ex, Tommy, for the same time. The difference was that I still slipped up on the sex-with-Tommy front. It was stupid, but I wasn’t ready to let go of the way we were without words or clothes between us.  Neither was Tommy.  If we had let go of the lingering threads of our two-year relationship, I’d be all over the beautiful tattoo artist who was smiling at me as I started a fresh pot of his favorite coffee. 
Adam was the fantasy, the man I pictured when I allowed myself to dream of the happily ever after I’d never get.  I settled for calling him my friend, and being the eager recipient of his smiles and confidences.
“You know I’ll drink whatever you have brewed,” Adam said, his deep blue eyes crinkling at the corners .
“And you know you’re happy that I make the coffee you actually prefer.” I grinned at him.  I wasn’t flirting. I tried my damnedest not to do that with him. I was pretty sure that I was the only woman in Rio Verde who tried not to flirt with him.
Adam Bradbery was six feet of taut muscle and gorgeous ink. With his smoothly-shaved head and five o’clock shadow, he was the kind of guy who had nothing but bad habits, but he was actually a bit of a food purist. He made me want to give up more of my lingering bad habits. I’d already given up cocaine because of the conversations we’d had.
Adam flashed me another perfect smile and said, “Thanks. I do prefer the organic Kona. Shade grown, toxin free. It’s better for you.”
“Uh huh. I’ve heard the speeches a few times already, Adam. Toxins are bad; organic is good.”  I smiled at him though. I didn’t mind his speeches even a little. I didn’t mind anything about Adam. He was my ideal for what I wanted if I ever had a normal relationship: strong, smart, healthy, and sexy.
His was the kind of build that made women sigh and men pause. Adam looked intimidating even in his most gentle moods. He had the sheer size that often meant that he didn’t need to raise a fist to stop a fight.  He had no fat anywhere on him.  Adam was all muscle, and his spa-perfect skin was liberally decorated with tattoos.  Even out in the desert sun, his art still looked crisp. The man knew how to take care of his body, and it showed.  He was a bit intense about his health. No drugs. No cigarettes. He lived on an organic diet.  He was also committed to meditation and a rigorous work-out schedule of boxing, weightlifting, and running.  Somehow, Adam managed to be bad-ass and supremely healthy all at once.  He drank a little, but his only true vice was indulging in naked relationships with far too many of the ink bunnies who loitered in his path.  Sex was Adam’s one big weakness.  It was easy to see why. Looking at him for longer than a minute was enough to make me consider taking a turn in his line of all-too-willing partners.
Unfortunately, Adam was also Tommy’s cousin, so Adam and I were firmly in the friend zone.  There were perks to being his friend, of course. We had conversations, lunches, shared a drink after work most weeks. Being the only girl in his life that was around for more than a night was the biggest perk. I knew that the rest of the girls were fleeting, but I was a part of his life—and it would stay that way as long as we didn’t fall into bed.
I still looked. A lot. Whenever I had an excuse, like right now, I let my gaze roam where my hands and lips couldn’t.  I dreamed of him, and I fantasized about what life would be like if I wasn’t such a mess and he was willing to do commitments.  That was all it could be: dreams and fantasies. 
As I tried to keep my thoughts from my expression, Adam repeated his regular question of late: “When are you coming by Sinners to finish the piece?”
I shrugged as I stacked clean mugs on the counter.  I glanced around the shop at the two drunk girls who seemed to be having a heated conversation in a low voice, the customers studying or staring at their laptops, and my co-worker Cass who was staring at Dillon, the hot musician singing to the motley crowd.  There were no distractions to save me from the conversation.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to get my tattoo done, but I had my reasons for putting it off. “Not sure,” I muttered.
“I’ll be at The Tiger tonight if you want to look at your schedule with me,” he offered.
I nodded, glancing again at one of the drunk girls who looked like she was going to spew at any minute.  Cass was glaring at the girls as if willpower alone would prevent vomit.  The only thing keeping her from getting rude was the way Dillon’s voice kept distracting her. He was like that: the voice of either an angel or a devil. 
“I don’t know,” I told Adam, who was standing with his hands on the counter and his gaze on me.
The truth was that I wasn’t sure I could handle seeing him tonight, especially at the local dive bar. He never picked up his fling of the moment in front of me anymore, but sometimes I thought that only made it harder to remind myself that he was off limits.  My eyes traced over the light gleam of sweat of his tattooed biceps and the way the torn black t-shirt clung to his chest and abs. Every inch of his body was so lickably gorgeous that it was hard not to sigh. Adam was built to be sighed over.  The shaved head, bright blue eyes, and sculpted muscles combined to make him damn near irresistible.  I had resisted though. Even though I was single again, I resisted. He was a friend when I’d been in desperate need of a shoulder, even bringing me soup when I was sick and alone one weekend.  Despite his revolving bedroom door, Adam was definitely one of the good guys.
That didn’t mean he wasn’t dangerous. I’d seen him throw down in more than a couple fights. Being a tattooist sometimes meant dealing with an unsavory crowd. Being Tommy’s cousin often meant dealing with a bad element.  Adam handled the worst of them like an off-duty MMA fighter . . . which made him risky in a whole different way for me. I liked men who could handle themselves in a brawl.  Hell, I liked everything about him.
I quickly looked down at a burn mark on the counter before my staring was too obvious. I wished my hair wasn’t all pulled back in a braid. It was harder to hide my face without my hair to use as a shield.  I wasn’t going to ruin our friendship—or Adam’s relationship with Tommy—by thinking about Adam’s perfect mouth or his obscenely muscular body. Okay, I wasn’t going to ruin it by letting him know I thought about it. I couldn’t really stop thinking about him, not entirely. I’d tried.
“As soon as I can,” I said. “I promise. I want to get my tattoo finished. I just can’t right now.”
I didn’t tell him why. I knew he thought it was about money, and I let him think that.  It wasn’t like I had much money to spare.  I would for this, but that wasn’t the real problem. The tattoo I’d started in January—a series of cherry blossoms and branches that spanned my right side and would eventually stretch under my right breast and ease along my hip—was something I’d wanted for years, but we’d reached the part of the piece that was on my chest, and I couldn’t handle being stretched out topless on Adam’s table while his beautiful hands held me in place.  It was difficult enough when he was working on my side and back.  The one session we’d had where he’d started the outline on my chest had sent me running out the door.
Friends. Friends was good. Friends meant I couldn’t allow myself the tremors I felt when his eyes and hands were all about me.
A banging noise in the back drew my attention. I didn’t even want to ask who was having sex in the bathroom again. I knew we were a bit of a dive, but really? Sex in the coffee shop bathroom? It was vulgar.
“We can work something out, Sasha,” Adam suggested, once more pulling my attention to him. 
“Not right now.” I loved the way he said my real name. No one else used it.  Everyone had started calling me Sugar since I took up with Tommy a couple years ago. He had introduced me as Sugar Sweet when I met people, and they mostly figured it was what I wanted to be called. So, Sugar became my name. It was even what I called myself.  Adam refused to use it. To him, and him alone, I was still Sasha.
He gave me a strange look that I couldn’t read. On someone else, I’d have said it was jealousy, but Adam and I weren’t like that.  We were friends.
“Are you back with Tommy?” he asked.
I shook my head.  My New Year’s Resolution this year was to get my shit together.  Tommy wasn’t willing to do the same, so we split up. Most of the time we even stayed split up.  Not all the time though. Staying clear of drugs was easier than staying away from Tommy.
“I’m not with anyone,” I told Adam. I met his eyes as I added, “I’m not back on the shit either. Five months.”
Adam nodded. “Just asking. I know it’s hard, and you’ve been doing great.” He paused and gave me a proud look. “You’re strong enough to do anything you want, Sash. Tommy’s good people, but you don’t need mixed up in the shit he sells.”
I caught Cass watching us then.  She was always quick to suggest I should work out my issues with Tommy by overdosing on the lusciousness that was Adam.  She didn’t understand that I didn’t want to throw Adam’s friendship away over a few days of sex, and even if I did want to, I couldn’t see Adam doing that to Tommy. Seeing Cass made all of my arguments to her rise up in my mind.  It helped.
“I’ll call you soon. Promise,” I told Adam.
He paid for his coffee—black, no sugar or cream, nothing fancy other than the beans themselves—and then dropped a ten-dollar bill onto the counter.  Before he turned away he added, “You don’t have to avoid me because you’re too stubborn to let me do your art on credit, you know?”
“Sinners Ink doesn’t accept credit,” I reminded him.
“The shop doesn’t, but I would for you, Sasha.” He looked at me with the same smoldering gaze that made all the ink bunnies drop to their knees if he gave them half a chance.
“I don’t need credit.”
“The option’s on the table if you change your mind. If you aren’t coming by for art, we can still grab a drink or whatever.”
“I’m sure you’ve been busy, and I don’t want to get in the way of your social life,” I said.  He was a great friend, and I didn’t want to screw it up by hanging around all the time like I was one of the ink groupies or the girl who chases away all his hook-ups.
“You’re never in the way,” he said. He shook his head, turned, and left.
I watched him go, wishing things were different. He was beautiful, sweet, and covered with the kind of tattoos that made clothing seem like a crime. For as long as I’d known him, he was also with a different girl every week, and he wouldn’t poach Tommy’s territory even if I ever admitted that I wanted poached. There was no way anything could happen with Adam. Not now. Not ever. Neither of us was looking for a relationship.  He screwed ink bunnies, and I still made late night visits to Tommy more often than I should.  I just needed to keep some space while I got my head around the fact that he was off limits.  Our last few tattoo sessions had made that detail absurdly hard to remember. The man was gifted with his hands even when he was just doing his job.  It was embarrassing how close I’d come to whimpering simply by being tattooed by him.


About the Authors

PAYGE GALVIN has always wanted to be a writer.  She also loves spending time with her friends, so after a few cosmos at the pool with her friends, the idea for UNFILTERED was born.  Together the group wrote thirteen books about thirteen strangers who share a dark secret…and who all want to find love (because, really, who doesn't?).

VERONICA DOUGLAS has a weakness for trying new things. Some of those have been rather unwise (going for a Harley ride in the rain while wearing nothing but a bikini and boots) and some have been much wiser (writing a book series with thirteen friends). But it’s all been a lot of fun.

You can follow Payge on Twitter at @PaygeGalvin or Ronnie at @ronnieadouglas, or keep up with all the latest news on the Unfiltered series at



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