Saturday, October 27, 2018

Giveaway, Excerpt & Review: Wolf Rising (SWAT: Special Wolf Alpha Team Series #8) by Paige Tyler


Just when he’s found The One…he might lose her.

SWAT Officer Jayden Brooks doesn’t believe there’s a soul mate out there for him—The One. But when he saves high school teacher Selena Rosa from a hostage situation, he knows he’s in big trouble. Her scent is irresistible.

Selena finds the big cop irresistible, too. In fact, the buttoned-up teacher gets a little carried away—during a steamy make-out session, she bites him. Turns out, the traumatizing events at the school triggered her werewolf gene. Fangs and claws are appearing and her aggression is out of control. The change is happening, and Selena doesn’t understand.

It’s going to take everything Brooks has to pull her back from the edge…and ultimately win her heart.


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Excerpt



“You live in a Warehouse?” Selena asked in disbelief as Jayden steered his classic Chevy pickup truck into a small parking lot behind a metal-and-brick building with no windows and a distinctly industrial look.

“It’s not a warehouse,” Jayden said with a laugh that seemed to indicate lots of people asked the exact same question. “It was an electronics repair shop about ten or twelve years ago.”

He shut off the engine, then got out and walked around to open her door, lending a hand to help her slide out of the high truck. His gaze immediately went to the length of thigh she exposed slipping off the seat. Okay, maybe she’d done that on purpose.
“Of course, nobody gets electronics repaired anymore,” Jayden continued, dragging his eyes back up to her face as they walked toward the building. “They just replace them. Throw in the fact that this whole area got rezoned into a residential area about the same time, and the owner was sort of screwed. The place couldn’t be used as a business anymore, and no one was interested in buying it for residential purposes, because the lot is too small. It went into tax foreclosure, and I ended up getting it for next to nothing. I got it into livable condition for barely over twenty thousand.”
Selena tried to take that all in as Jayden led her to the back door. The tiny lot surrounding the building was well maintained, with more grass and hedges than one would expect from an industrial building. But still, it was obvious the place wasn’t a normal house. Then again, Jayden wasn’t a normal guy, so she wasn’t surprised.
He unlocked the big metal door, then reached inside to flip on the light switch. Stepping back, he held the door open for her.
Selena stepped inside, steeling herself. She had visions of cinder block coffee tables, yard sale couches, and rust- covered walls. She was so ready to be underwhelmed that when she walked through the short entryway hall and into the big open space of the central room, she gasped. This was so not what she’d been expecting. She handed Jayden her coat and purse, barely paying attention as he hung them on a coat rack by the door, then tossed his keys on the shelf above it.
The main room had to be over a thousand square feet. There was still a very industrial feel to the place, with lots of concrete, brick, metal rafters, exposed lights, electrical conduits, and air vents. But the space was put together in such a way, it seemed like it was meant to look industrial instead of left that way by accident.
The concrete floor had been stained different colors as part of the effort to subdivide the big space into different functional areas. It was a creamy terra-cotta off to one side where the kitchen was and a relaxing caramel along the back wall where she saw a king-size bed, dressers, and wall units. The entire middle section, encompassing the living room and a sweet home gym, was a deep, glossy slate blue. There was a huge TV mounted on the wall near the matching sectional sofas, with the rest of the wall space taken up with football memorabilia and pictures of cop-related activities. She had no doubt that most of those photos would be of his SWAT teammates or, as he called them, his pack. There were big potted trees positioned here and there around the space, and at first, she was sure they were fake. But then she saw the skylights in the roof and thought maybe they were real.
Besides the one they’d just come in, there were only two other doors in the entire place, one that looked like a second exit and the other leading into a walled-off corner area, the bathroom most likely.
“This place is amazing,” she said, turning to face him. “If you tell me you decorated the entire thing on your own, I’m going to cry, because that would mean there isn’t a single thing in the world you aren’t perfect at.”
Jayden chuckled. “No need to cry. My mom helped with a lot of it, but also some of the guys on the team. Zane is really good at decorating, though he’ll deny it if you ever suggest it. How about we head for the kitchen and those PB&J sandwiches before I give you the fifty-cent tour?”
Selena nodded eagerly and followed him through the living room and gym to the kitchen, getting a good part of the promised tour on the way. This place was awesome. She couldn’t wait to spend the night here. She immediately blushed a little at the audacity of that thought but then pushed the silly concern aside. Something told her she was going to be staying here a lot.
It wasn’t until they walked behind the granite counter in the kitchen space that Selena saw the first thing that seemed completely out of place—two doggy bowls on the floor. She looked around, thinking she’d smelled a familiar odor when she first walked in, though she hadn’t placed it as a dog’s scent until now. It was very faint.
“You have a dog?” she asked, gesturing to the bowls as Jayden took the bread and peanut butter out of the cabinet. “Technically, Tuffie belongs to the entire team.” Jayden reached into the fridge for a jar of grape jelly. “She was shot by one of the men who broke out of prison today. Our team medics kept her alive until they could get her to a vet, and after that, there was no way we could let her go. So we adopted her. Now she takes turns staying with different members of the team each night.” “That’s so perfect!” she squealed, pretty sure   these SWAT guys might actually be angels in disguise and not just amazing cops.
As Jayden made the sandwiches, he talked about how they figured out who Tuffie got to stay with each night. Selena laughed when Jayden suggested some of the guys on the team tried to tweak the Tuffie duty roster so they’d get extra time with the unit mascot.
“They all try to act like they’re big and tough, but when it comes to Tuffie, they’re a bunch of pushovers.”
“Might you be one of those pushovers?” she teased. Jayden chuckled as he poured two glasses of milk.
“Maybe. Not that you’ll ever get me to admit it.” Normally, Selena never ate anything this late at night, but for some reason, she was nearly starving right then. And the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were calling her name.
“Sorry about how the date turned out tonight,” he said as they stood at the counter eating a little while later. “CPR and overdoses weren’t exactly on my mind when I imagined how the evening would end.”
Selena polished off the last of her sandwich faster than she would have thought possible. The scary part was that she couldn’t stop eyeing the big jar of peanut butter, wondering if she should have another.
“While I agree the last part of the evening was something I never want to experience again, I wouldn’t say the whole night was a waste,” she said. “In fact, parts of the night were pretty nice. Actually, better than nice. And as for how the evening ends, I think that’s still to be determined.”
Jayden lifted a brow as he popped what was left of his sandwich in his mouth. “Are you implying our date isn’t over yet?”
The heat in his gaze as he asked the question immediately reignited the fire that had been burning in her tummy earlier when they’d been dancing…and kissing. She gave him a smile while fighting the urge to reach out and pull him close, to press herself tightly to his muscular body and rub herself all over him like a cat.
“You really think the only reason I came here was for the PB&J?” she asked in a husky voice, taking a half step closer to him.
Selena was kind of shocked she was being so bold. It wasn’t like her. She tried to tell herself Jayden was to blame for the change, but at the same time, part of her knew that wasn’t the truth. This was all her…the new her. Jayden laughed as he took a step toward her, closing the distance between them. She swore she could feel the heat of his body bathing her skin. “So, if it wasn’t my amazing sandwiches that brought you here, what was it?” Selena placed her hands on his abs, moving her fingers upward, feeling the ripples and indentations under his shirt of what could only be the most amazing set of six-pack abs on the planet. “Maybe it was because I wanted another chance to get close to you and feel you against me again. Like when we were dancing.”
This time, she wasn’t shocked at how bold she was being. It seemed this was the way things were going to be between the two of them.
Open.
Real.
She couldn’t describe the sense of freedom that came with knowing that.
 
What I thought about Wolf Rising

I've been a fan of this series since the start.  It offers a nice blend of romance and action that I really like, so I'm always happy to see a new offereing in the series.

In Wolf Rising, Jayden Brooks meets "The One" during a situation at a school. He's immediately intrigued by Selena, and vice versa, especially after she is saved by Jayden and his super werewolf capabilities.

Selena has some things to deal with herself -- mostly caused by the fact she's in the process of turning into a werewolf herself, a situation incited by the incident at the school.  Only problem is that Selena is a special type of werewolf that can cause a good deal of havoc for Jayden and his pack, not to mention the drug dealers in the area.

I did like that some of the characters from the first books in the series make an appearance here, especially Gage. But sadly, this book just didn't resonate with me the way the previous books in the series have.  It felt a little flat and while I liked Jayden and Selena, something felt missing that I just can't put my finger on.  Your mileage may vary as they say.

An ARC was provided for review. 



Paige Tyler is the USA Today bestselling author of sexy, romantic fiction. She and her very own military hero (also known as her husband) live on the beautiful Florida coast with their adorable fur baby (also known as their dog). Paige graduated with a degree in education, but decided to pursue her passion and write books about hunky alpha males and the kickbutt heroines who fall in love with them.

Find Paige Online:
Twitter: @PaigeTyler

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Excerpt, Giveaway & Review:One Step Back by Edie Danford

Title: One Step Back
Author: Edie Danford
Publisher: Edie Danford
Release Date: October 23, 2018
Heat Level: 4 - Lots of Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 85,000 words
Genre: Romance, Enemies-to-lovers, coworkers, workplace, stepbrothers

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Synopsis


When you fall for a guy who’s about to become your stepbrother—do you listen to your heart and risk everything? Or listen to your head…and take one step back?
In high school I had a hundred reasons to steer clear of my soon-to-be-
stepbrother, Joe Beneventi. He was a hothead, and I was reserved. His life was football,mine was academics. He wanted to be out and proud, and I desperately needed to keep my orientation secret.

But when we fell in love, my heart took the wheel, and I took every risk to be with Joe. Then one horrible night our secrets shattered. Joe disappeared—wrecking our families and breaking my heart.

Eleven years later, I landed a challenging job at a premier PR firm. And the hotshot publicist who’s been assigned to my first big account? Yep. It’s Joe.
 
Fate truly hates me because now Joe and I have three days to hole up in a
Chicago hotel room and nail down a deal that could make or break our careers. He keeps distracting me, but I’m too jaded to fall for sexy smiles, bedroom eyes, and his impossible-to-ignore body. Except…

I like being close to him again. A little too much. Working together 24/7 is showing me sides of Joe I’ve never seen before.

And when we touch, being together seems like the only step worth taking.


Excerpt


I take a deep breath. Gotta prepare myself for being up-close and personal with the force of nature that is Joseph Vincent Beneventi.

“Hey, Joe,” I say, my voice cracking. Not how I’d wanted to sound.

His sexy mouth curves, and I get hit with the full impact of his attention-sucking energy. It zaps across the entryway. Through the guesthouse and the five-acre yard. All of Chicagoland. The state of Illinois, the entire Midwest…

Yeah, you get the picture. Joe has <em>it</em>. Chemical hoodoo-voodoo oozes from his pores and makes you forget whatever it is you’re doing, whatever happened to be on your mind. And all you can do is stand there and stare at him. And listen to the ridiculous shit that comes out of his gorgeous mouth.

I’ve had to cope with this Joe-phenomenon for three years now, as long as his mom and my dad have been dating. Weekends and vacations together at first, and then mostly full time as of last year, after Kim and Bernie got engaged and bought this monstrosity of a property together.

Wedding-planning and “a home where we can be a family” was supposed to bring us stability. Wishful thinking, because things between my dad and Joe’s mom—between all of us, really—seem rockier than ever.

“Hey, you.” Joe leans against the door jamb, killer smile flashing.

He’s a big, glossy beast, and he lights up the night that I’ve tried to darken. I look away from his shining eyes, but his jacked chest and abs, his maybe-too-tight board shorts, his legs, his feet, aren’t any easier to ignore.

“Why didn’t you tell me you’d be home tonight?” he asks. His deep voice has a slight throb, like he’s actually hurt. “You didn’t answer my message. Any of my messages. I get why you didn’t want to show for my amazingly fucking boring graduation, but… I was hoping to hear about your plans. For the summer.”

He reaches up to brush damp hair from his face, the movement popping every muscle from shoulder to wrist. Matty actually sighs from behind me. I try not to notice how the longer hair and the scruff on his chin make Joe look hotter than his usual smoking hellfire.

He spent his senior year at a therapeutic high school here in the Chicago area and the place didn’t demand buzz-cuts the way the military school did. The longer black waves do amazing things for his cheekbones, his squared-off chin, his sin-dark eyes.

I’m supposed to be saying something. So I open my mouth and a lame excuse comes out. “I wasn’t sure about flight times. Until the last minute. Storms in New York.”

He nods, head tilting as he scrutinizes my features. He wants to believe me even though it’s obvious I’m lying. The sky had been clear when I’d jetted away from LaGuardia, my freshman year of college complete.

I’d been avoiding all contact with Joe since Christmas break. I’d figured he’d understand why I didn’t respond to any of his messages today. Or at least take the hint. Hey, Joey, after I don’t answer your two-hundredth-and-seventieth voicemail, maybe that means I don’t want to communicate with you. But Joe is thick in more ways than one.

His dark eyes get warmer as they take me in, the dimple in his right cheek popping. His thumb traces the sand-dollar tattoo under his left nipple, a move I’m sure he’s making unconsciously. I do the same thing sometimes. I have a matching tattoo; we’d gotten them in Mexico during Christmas vacation two years ago. The ’rents had been very confused when both of us suddenly wore rash guards 24/7 for the rest of the break. Joe had come up with a BS-but-brilliant excuse about stingray sightings and the angle of the sun and the chemicals in sunscreen lotion killing off coral reefs.

And, okay. I’m not being fair. Joe isn’t thick. He’s probably smarter than me. He just doesn’t know how to rein in a lot of the bad shit that constantly roams his head. I’ve actually tried to help him figure out some stuff, given him some pointers about how to focus and prioritize—

There’s a crashing noise from the pool area. More shit breaking.

“Fuck,” he mutters, looking over his shoulder.

“You better get back there. Broken glass. Blood. Nastiness. It’s all gonna happen.”

He sighs—a shudder wracking his six-five frame. “Should’ve never invited anyone over.” His smile is crooked. “Your fault. I wouldn’t have had to get up to shenanigans with Bran and Troy if I’d known you’d be here tonight.”

And, there it is.

The reason why he always, <em>always </em>manages to piss me off. I’m not responsible for him. Not responsible for his feelings, for his actions. I refuse to be.

“Not my fault,” I say, my voice cracking again, damn it. I take a step backward, my hand pulling the door closed.

“Asher, come on. You know I didn’t mean it like that—”

I shut the door in his face. Then I pull the blinds closed, blocking out his beauty, blocking out his hurt expression. Maturity can go fuck itself, because literally closing off Joe from my senses will be the only way I can survive the summer.

“Wow,” Matty says.

“Yeah,” I agree.

#

It’s probably a few hours later when something jolts me awake. It’s Joe looming over me. I must’ve passed out after Matty left. I’m sprawled on the big chaise in the guesthouse’s living room, Joe standing so close his knees are touching the cushion’s edge.

There’s only one light on, a yellow glow coming from the glass-fronted cabinet that displays Joe’s shell collection. It creates weird, streaky shadows across his super-defined chest and abs.

His shorts are dry now, not as tight on his thighs or his package, but I can see he’s erect, a righteous bulge that’s impossible to miss. And, when I look up into his face, my gaze snags on his parted lips, his heavy-lidded eyes .

The house is quiet. No more party outside. When Joe inhales suddenly, I can feel the sharpness of his breath in my own lungs.

I sit, swinging my legs to the side of the chaise, planting my feet on either side of his. He takes my face in his hands. His fingers are warm, familiar, his touch so tender it makes me want to cry.

And, God, when our gazes connect, and I immediately fall into that dark brown and gold I dream about, tears clog my throat, for real.

“Ash,” he whispers, his voice so hoarse I can barely hear it. The pad of his thumb passes over my lower lip. I lick away the taste of him and he sighs. “Damn, I missed you.”

I nod. I can’t speak. It hurts.

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 What I thought about One Step Back

I typically like second chance romances so I was so excited to see this new release from Edie Danford. I really love her voice, especially the angst and longing part of the story. I wasn't disappointed.

Joe and Asher meet as teens when their parents are dating, giving this story the "stepbrother" trope, but I really didn't see them as seeing each other as brothers. They do however develop real feelings for each other that are soon squashed by Ash's conservative and slightly uptight father. Not able to handle the situation, their relationship is short-lived until years later when they find out they are both working for the same employer.
 

Again,they are thrust into a "forbidden" situation being coworkers and having eyes on them. But their connection can't be denied and they have to decide whether it's worth trying a second time. I was so happy that they did.
 

I liked this couple together. When they come together as adults they have to deal with not only how they feel now, but how they felt back then and I liked that level of emotion. Joe and Ash are super sexy and quite romantic together and I liked that about the story.
 

Overall the pace was good and although I'm not a huge fan of first-person present tense writing, Edie Danford does a good job with the POV so that I was able to fall into the story and not worry about the POV. which is a very good thing for the reader! Definitely a story that held my interest.

An ARC was provided for review.

Meet the Author

Edie lives in Vermont with her husband, two sons, and random creatures that might or might not be pets. She loves libraries (where she's found play, work, and love since she was a kid), long walks (unless ice is involved), lewd language (in the right context), luscious romance (of any variety), and alliteration.

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