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Author: Diane Alberts

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Cover Reveal: Out of Time by Jen McLaughlin

Posted by Irish in Contest, Cover Reveal1 Comment

OOT_Teaser1

Greetings and Salutations Internet!

Today I am part of the Inkslinger PR blitz to reveal the cover for OUT OF TIME by Jen McLaughlin. This is sequel book to her book OUT OF LINE (my review) which was released back in September. Here’s a little more about this title:

BOOK SUMMARY

Desperate to keep him…

I’ve finally gotten everything I ever wanted: love, freedom, happiness, and, most importantly, Finn. Our love is everything I expected it to be and more. We’ve finally found each other, but the world seems determined to tear us apart. We thought my father was the only obstacle between us, but now it’s the military. With Finn’s departure looming, we’re squeezing in every moment together before we run out of time.

Trying to make every moment count…

Being Carrie’s bodyguard was one thing. Being her boyfriend is another. Every day she’s mine is a day the sun shines in my life. Yet our time together is running out. Her father will never think a tattooed Marine will be good enough so I’ll do with whatever it takes to be worthy of her love. But the road will take me away from the girl who makes me feel alive–the girl I can’t live without.

Time only gets us so far…

And now…ze cover:

OutofTime Amazon GR SW

What do you think internet? Leave a comment and let me know.

Haven’t read the first book yet? Well now is your chance because between now and 03 December OUT OF LINE will be on sale for just $0.99! So plenty of time to get all caught up before OUT OF TIME is released.

OOT_Sale2

SPECIAL CONTEST

Jen McLaughlin (aka Diane Alberts) is also offering up a special contest. For every 200 adds she gets on goodreads for OUT OF TIME before the release (December 3rd), she will reveal 5 pages of the book early!

 If the book hits 2500 adds before the release, she will release a bonus scene from Finn’s POV!

 CLICK HERE TO ADD TO GOODREADS

GIVEAWAY

Jen is also giving away a signed paperback copy of OUT OF TIME (US only) and 5 ebook copies of OUT OF LINE (international).

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

irishdarkblue
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Monday, November 11, 2013

Review: Play Me by Diane Alberts

Posted by Irish in 2 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review: Play Me by Diane AlbertsPlay Me by Diane Alberts, Jen McLaughlin
Series: Take a Chance,
Published by Entangled Ever After on 29 Jul 2013
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 120
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Goodreads
two-stars
Also by this author: Out of Line

Place(s) traveled to: Las Vegas, Nevada

First Line: Garrett Kelly might have been a laid-back middle school math teacher by day, buy at night he was a basketball coach who yelled and cussed and fought for his team.

PLAY ME  by Diane Alberts is a book that I thought I would like based on the synopsis and the excerpt I read and and posted here on Ticket to Anywhere earlier this year. Its a friends to lovers story which are often fun and quirky and that was the sort of book I was hoping for. Instead, I got a heroine I couldn’t connect with paired with a hero that I have no idea why he was interested in the heroine. Kiersten spent much of the book with a huge chip on her shoulder and was often bitchy for the sake of being bitchy. Yes, she’d been left at the alter but seriously after “meeting” this character I don’t really blame the guy.

Garrett on the other hand was always sweet and wonderful and wanted to do the right thing when they spend a night together and Kiersten ends up pregnant. (Oy the trope!) But Kiersten makes it impossible for him to do anything. She doesn’t want anyone to know they are together and yet if he introduced her as a roommate she’d fly off the handle and be all upset. No matter what Garrett did, even when it was what Kiersten said she wanted, it was the wrong thing in her eyes. She spent the entire book yelling and being mad at him that I almost didn’t finish it. Fortunately, this was a short book and while it felt longer than it was due to all the drama it was a quick read.

In PLAY ME, the only really worthwhile characters with Garrett and his BFF Mike, who also happened to be Kiersten’s brother. In all honesty I thought that Garrett and Mike had more chemistry than he and Kiersten. The writing style of this one was also just so-so with some bad dialogue and scene transitions. I was not a fan of this story and really can’t recommend it to anyone. And just based on this one book I am unsure on if I want to read anything else by Diane Alberts either although I am interested in learning more of Mike so I may check out his story at some point. But its not something I’m going to be rushing out for.

People who liked this book better than I did:

Blogcritics: “Play Me was a very good read. Alberts is excellent at the whole friends-to-lovers thing as well as being a very skilled writer. I liked the characters, found them interesting and believable, and loved the complications and secondary characters.”

Fictional Candy: “I really fell for this story the whole way through. The writing was terrific and grabbed me right from the start. The storyline was smooth and quick moving. Everything was perfect.”

Take a Chance Series Order

Book 1: Try Me
Book 2: Love Me
Book 3: Play Me
Book 4: Take Me

irishdarkblue

two-stars
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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Review + Contest: Out of Line by Jen McLaughlin

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Blog Tour, Contest, New Adult, Review2 Comments

Review + Contest: Out of Line by Jen McLaughlinOut of Line by Diane Alberts, Jen McLaughlin
Series: Out of Line,
on 06 September 2013
Pages: 250
Format: eARC
Source: Inkslinger PR
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: Play Me

Place(s) Traveled to: San Diego, California

First Line: I leaned against the wall and surveyed the crowded room. All around me, people were in the pursuit of the three majors of college: getting drunk, getting laid, and then getting even drunker.

*le sigh*

That was my response when I read the opening lines to Out of Line by Jen McLaughlin. Yes, there are some that believe in that philosophy of college but that is by far not the majority and it just put this dread in my soul as to where this book was going to go. So this just set my teeth on edge as did the heroine of the story, Carrie, who was a spoiled little brat. Her father is this very overprotective (read: creepily so) father and has sheltered her for her entire life. She thinks that he finally let her attend college (all the way across the country) without any bodyguards and she’s estatic at her freedom as maybe now she’ll finally make some friends. But she never seems to make friends although granted a lot of this book happens in short span of time so maybe that is to come.

Enter in Finn, a marine and surfer with a big secret in that he’s working undercover for her father. This isn’t a spoiler as its revealed in the very first POV switch to Finn. He tries to keep her at a distance and be all professional. And yet he’s drawn to Carrie in the physical sense. We know this as many of his thoughts are focused on what looking and touching of her body does to his. He’s very one note this Finn. He also had made moments about douche-baggery and if I could have smacked him I would. Finn wasn’t all bad and he is in his mid-20s so perhaps I was just hoping for more maturity from him than I got.

The story itself was just so-so. Carrie finds out Finn’s secret and goes all meltdown and then stomps her foot and blackmails (extorts?) Finn into following her commands. Carrie was a character that I wanted to like but I found it difficult to do so. There were also some awkward WTF type scenes like when they are in the surf shop looking to buy a wetsuit and the shop girl in trying to put Carrie down asks if she’s an A cup. To which Finn, a proclaimed expert in female frontal anatomy, corrects her to say Carrie is a C cup. There is a big difference between C and A and also…expert in frontal anatomy, really? That phrase came out of his mouth. Like I said douche.

Some of the dialogue was awkward and almost cringe worthy but beneath all this awkward there wasn’t a bad story. There were some moments that made my heart ache for Carrie and Finn. The two characters were just a bit too immature at times but they are young and that is the time when you make stupid emotional mistakes. Life is still filled with so much change and emotion so while I didn’t always like Finn or Carrie I did understand where they were coming from.

Even with all that I disliked about Out of Line I still may have given it a 4 star as there were no love triangles or crazy out of no where mysteries or other randomness tossed in just because. At least, that is, until the end. When there is this mysterious phone call, a thought that it will change everything, and then a sentence saying that the story with continue in 2014. Head meet desk. This is where all my real angst of Out of Line comes from. The forced, random, no point to it cliff hanger ending. I don’t know if there is a full book coming but there will be a novella at the end of December and if that is all then I just have to ask, why not just include all of the story into one book. Why have a novella? It just makes my head hurt and think not so good thoughts about how people just want to divest me of my hard earned money for little return. These crazy half-stories are increasingly popular and they just annoy me. A lot. If there is a reason for a second book then by all means have a second book. But there doesn’t seem to be one here.

I wanted to like this book. I wanted to say all the good things but it is hard as my brain just keeps flashing to that ending. Carrie and Finn have issues and if given time they could work through them. They are flawed characters who could benefit from a course in communication. But then most humans find it hard to say what they are really thinking. I do admire Carrie for trying to become her own person but she was just too much sometimes. Too good and it was hard to connect with her. Finn, I liked better, he was flawed and real and he’s what kept me reading this story until the end.

Overall, Out of Line left me a bit iffy and I am unsure on if I’ll read the novella or not. The story didn’t wow me but I have read worse. Do with that as you will, dear reader.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Desperate to break free…

I’ve spent my entire life under my father’s thumb, but now I’m finally free to make my own choices. When my roommate dragged me to my first college party, I met Finn Coram and my life turned inside out. He knows how to break the rules and is everything I never knew I wanted. A Marine by day and surfer by night, he pushes me away even as our attraction brings us closer. Now I am finally free to do whatever I want. I know what I want. I choose Finn.

Trying to play by the rules…

I always follow orders. My job, my life, depends on it. I thought this job would be easy, all the rules were made crystal clear, but when I met Carrie Wallington, everything got muddy. She’s a rule I know I shouldn’t break, but damn if I don’t inch closer to the breaking point each time I see her. I’m ready to step out of line. And even worse? I’m living a lie. They say the truth will set you free, but in my case…

The truth will cost me everything

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jen McLaughlin is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. She writes steamy New Adult books for the young and young at heart. Her first release, Out of Line, came out September 2013. She also writes bestselling Contemporary Romance under the pen name Diane Alberts.Since receiving her first contract offer under the pen name Diane Alberts, she has yet to stop writing. She is represented by Louise Fury at The Bent Agency.

Though she lives in the mountains, she really wishes she was surrounded by a hot, sunny beach with crystal clear water. She lives in Northeast Pennsylvania with her four kids, a husband, a schnauzer mutt, a cat, and a Senegal parrot. In the rare moments when she’s not writing, she can usually be found hunched over one knitting project or another. Her goal is to write so many well-crafted romance books that even a non-romance reader will know her name.

GIVEAWAY:

Jen is offering a one-of-a-kind prize for a lucky reader! Anyone who helps spread the word about OUT OF LINE (through tweets, facebook messages, leaving a review, etc.) gets entered to win 30 pages of the manuscript, which include editing marks and special never-before-seen notes from Jen! You will have all the deets on what Jen changed, deleted scenes, and special extras.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

OTHER STOPS ON THE TOUR:

Wednesday, September 11th

random jendsmit – Review Stop
As the page turns – Excerpt
The Book Goddess – Character Interview & Review
Into the Hall of Books – Review Stop
The Quiet Girl Talks – Review Stop
Living in a Bookworld – Review Stop

Thursday, Sept. 12th

Read This~Hear That – Playlist
The Suburban Eclectic – Excerpt
Alii’s Book Jungle – Review Stop
Novel Reflections – Excerpt

Friday, Sept. 13th

Crazy Bellas’ Book Blog – Review Stop
My Daily Romance – Review Stop
Live Read and Breathe – Review Stop
Reads and Thoughts – Character Interview
Resch Reads and Reviews – Review Stop

Saturday, Sept. 14th

My Neurotic Book Affair  – Review Stop
Swooning Over Books – Review Stop

Monday, Sept. 16th

Blissfulbookblog – Review Stop
Whirlwindbooks – Excerpt & Review
Abigail Books Addiction – Top 10 List
deal sharing aunt – Top 10 List

Tuesday, Sept. 17th

Waves of Fiction – Review Stop
Keep Calm and Read Romance – Guest Post
Romancing Rakes For The Love of Romance – Excerpt & Playlist
Princess Bookie – Review Stop

Wednesday, Sept. 18th

Brianna Lee Book Reviews – Top 10 List
A Novel Affair [book blog] – Excerpt
The Phantom Paragrapher – Review Stop
The Sarcastic Palmtree – Review Stop

Thursday, Sept. 19th

Nose Stuck in a Book – Except
A Good Addiction – Author Interview & Review
Little Pieces of Imagination – Review Stop
Little Bookworm Reviews – Review Stop

Friday, Sept. 20th

Nick’s Book Blog – Top 10 List & Review
The Book Hookup – Character Interview & Review
Feeling Fictional – Excerpt & Review
SBookLover Reviews – Excerpt
Talk Nerdy to Me – Playlist

Saturday, Sept 21st

Reviews by Tammy and Kim – Review Stop

Monday, Sept. 23rd

Reader Girls – Top 10 List
Fictional Candy – Guest Post
Read-Love-Blog – Excerpt & Review
Brittany and Bianca Blab Books – Playlist
Seeking Book Boyfriends – Review Stop

Tuesday, Sept. 24th

Bookworm In Barrie – Review Stop
What I’m Reading – Top 10 List
Ticket to Anywhere – Review Stop
Book Soulmates – Guest Post & Review

Wednesday, Sept. 25th

Into the Night Reviews – Top 10 List & Review
Much Loved Books – Review Stop
Fic-Talk – Excerpt
Books Over Boys – Guest Post
The BookWhisperer  – Excerpt

Thursday, Sept. 26th

Avid Reader Musings – Review Stop
Christine’s Blog – Review Stop
The Jeep Diva – Character Interview
Simply Infatuated – Playlist
Avid Reader Musings – Top 10 List

Friday, Sept. 27th

Caffeinated Book Reviewer – Review Stop
sofia loves books – Excerpt
Reading Between the Wines – Guest Post
Book Fixation – Review Stop
The Rookie Romance Blog – Top 10 List

Saturday, Sept. 28th

Ramblings From This Chick – Top 10 List
Dirty Girl Book Club – Review Stop
Made For You Book Reviews – Review Stop

Sunday, Sept. 29th

Book Nerds Anonymous – Review Stop
Mary Elizabeth’s Crazy Book Obsession – Review Stop

Monday, Sept. 30th

Naughty and Nice Book Blog – Review Stop
Tar Heel Bibliobabe – Review Stop
Morning After a Good Book – Review Stop
A Life Bound By Books – Top 10 List
BestSellers & BestStellars  – Review Stop

Tuesday, Oct. 1st

Reading by the Book – Excerpt
Love Those Books – Review Stop
Please Another Book – Except & Review
MustReadBooksOrDie – Top 10 List

Wednesday, Oct. 2nd

Always YA at Heart – Author Interview & Review
Reading on the Rocks – Excerpt
We All Make Mistakes In Books – Review Stop
Roxy Kade – Excerpt
Thoughts and Reviews – Playlist

Thursday, Oct. 3rd

The Book Cellar – Guest Post
Tiffany Talks Books – Dream Cast
Love, Laughter, Friendship – Top 10 List
Rose’s Book Blog – Review Stop

Friday, Oct. 4th

The Life of Fiction – Review Stop
Literary Meanderings – Guest Post
Stuck In YA Books – Except
As the Pages Turn – Top 10 List
Cocktails and Books – Excerpt

three-stars
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Monday, July 29, 2013

Excerpt + Contest: Play Me by Diane Alberts

Posted by Irish in Contest, Excerpt, Misc4 Comments

Greetings and Salutations Internet!

Today I am working with the fabulous folks at Inkslinger PR this time to bring you a sneak peak at Play Me by Diane Alberts. Play Me is the third book in Alberts’s Take a Chance trilogy and is out today from Entangled Publishing.

Before I get to the teaser here is a little more about the book and author. And after the excerpt be sure to stick around and enter in the fabulous contest. =)

BOOK SUMMARY
Even the best-laid plans can go awry. Single-mom Kiersten Worth knows a bottle of champagne and night of hot, no-strings-attached sex is the perfect solution to her jilted bride blues…and Garrett Kelly, long-time friend and her teenaged son’s sexy basketball coach, is just the stud for the job.

Garrett wants more from the elusive temptress than a casual affair, but he never expects it to come in the form of an unexpected pregnancy. When he proposes an unorthodox solution—move in and raise their baby together—Kiersten has to decide whether to let down her guard and open her heart to the man who secretly loved her for years, or risk losing his tender embrace for good.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Diane Alberts has always been a dreamer with a vivid imagination, but it wasn’t until 2011
that she put her pen where her brain was, and became a published author. Since receiving her first contract offer, she has yet to stop writing. Though she lives in the mountains, she really wishes she was surrounded by a hot, sunny beach with crystal clear water. She lives in Northeast Pennsylvania with her four kids, a husband, a schnauzer mutt, a cat, and a Senegal parrot. In the rare moments when she’s not writing, she can usually be found hunched over one knitting project or another.

She is a multi-published, bestselling author with Entangled Publishing, Swoon Romance, and Decadent Publishing. ON ONE CONDITION hit #18 on the Barnes and Noble Bestseller List, and TRY ME hit #76 on Amazon. CAPTIVATED BY YOU hit #31 on the Barnes and Noble bestseller list. Her goal is to write so many fantastic books that even a non-romance book fan will know her name. She also writes New Adult books under the name Jen McLaughlin. Diane is represented by Louise Fury from the L. Perkins Agency.

Website | Facebook Fan Page | Twitter | Goodreads

EXCERPT

Kiersten glanced in the mirror and smoothed her hair back out of her eyes with a trembling hand. Tonight, she was going to do something completely out of character. Terrifyingly so. When she had been sitting in the bleachers earlier, reflecting on the fact that today was supposed to have been her wedding day, she’d compared her life now to what she’d expected it to be. And quite honestly…it sucked. Her ex-fiance Pete was probably married to his skanky secretary by now. Blissfully and happily getting ready to raise cheating little babies to match their cheating, lying parents.

While she hadn’t even gotten laid since the break-up.

Today was supposed to have been her special day—the day she said I do. As the time had ticked down on Chris’s game, it also had ticked down on her contentment to just…be alone. Then it came to her—she didn’t have to be alone tonight. She could give a final eff-you-Pete and sleep with the one man Pete had always been threatened by.

Garrett.

Pete would never know, but she would.

And it would feel good.

Now all she needed to do was tell Garrett.

She hoped she hadn’t misread the interest in his eyes. And hope he wouldn’t turn her down. She was choosing him as her target because of three reasons. One? Proximity. He was coming to her place tonight anyway. Two? He used to have a crush on her back in high school and probably still wondered what it would be like between them, so less likely to reject her. And three? That whole secret eff-you factor he would give her.

Maybe it was childish but so what? Pete had decided he loved to bang his secretary more than he loved Kiersten, so why shouldn’t she celebrate tonight with a good bout of forbidden sex and a little too much wine?

And hopefully some sore legs tomorrow.

Yeah. That’s what so what she’d envisioned of this day when they had sent to save the date cards out.

Kiersten sent a quick goodnight text to Chris, who was sleeping over his cousin’s house, and hurriedly brushed her hair. At most, she only had thirty minutes before Garrett arrived—and the furriness of her legs appalled her more than words could say. After a fast shower and an even quicker make-up session, she stood in front of her closet gripped with indecision on what to wear.

Could she really go through with this impetuous plan? Seduce one of her only friends?

When Pete had destroyed the tiny bit of faith she’d had in humanity, she had fallen to pieces. All of her life, she had avoided relationships so Chris wouldn’t have a father figure enter his life and just as quickly leave. But then the one freaking time she trusted a man and let him in, he’d cheated on her with his secretary and they’d called the whole thing off.

She had been broken hearted but Chris had been even worse off.

She would never do it again. Wouldn’t bring an unstable man into his life like she had before. She’d been right to avoid love. All the love she needed she got from her family.

But she wouldn’t think about that asshat Pete. She would drink with Garrett. Get a little stupid. Let loose. And have some casual, no strings attached sex. If she could do that with anyone in her life, it would be Garrett. He’d always been by her side, rooting her on.

Looking at her with those hot, blazing blue eyes that seemed to undress her without a simple touch. Her stomach tightened just thinking about him and that look. And given his years-long single status, he didn’t seem to want a relationship any more than she did.

But what if he wanted more than she could give him? A series of pictures ran through her head of how he would fall in love with her and ask for her to marry him. Have kids with him.

She shuddered at the mere thought.

Nah. He wouldn’t want that. He’d never even acted on his crush in high school, so how serious could it have been? Not once in all of their time together had he even given her a slight hint he wanted those things. Hot glances? Yes. Happily Ever After? No.

He was like her. Independent. Unattached, and content to stay that way.

Marriage obviously wasn’t for the Worth children. The only one of them that hadn’t been messed up from their parents screwed up marriage was her older sister, Brianna. She was married with three kids. Her previous husband had died, but Brianna had met another man she’d fallen head over heels in love with. Thomas Jones. Now they were married and happily living their normal lives in their normal house in their normal world.

Then there was her and her brother Mike.

Mike didn’t spend more than a night with the same woman—if not an hour—and Kiersten refused to even try relationships ever again. She was broken. Unfixable. She didn’t want to get married, or even fall in love a second time. Didn’t want any kids besides Chris. She was fine alone.

But she needed to get laid. Needed to prove to herself that she wasn’t a complete failure that couldn’t attract a man—nonetheless keep him. And Garrett seemed like a sure bet, given the way he looked at her when he thought she wasn’t watching. Like she was a woman, and he was a man. And he wanted her.

Or at least…she thought he did.

After pairing a scoop neck sweater with a black skirt and applying a quick spritz of perfume, she made it downstairs just in time to feel her phone vibrate in her hand. He was here. When she opened the door, he stood there smiling at her, a bottle of Asti in his hand. The porch light illuminated his perfection; as if God was reminding her just how exquisitely he had made this particular male specimen.

“Hello,” she said, motioning him inside.

“Hey,” he murmured. His blue eyes swept over her body, leaving heat everywhere they touched. She normally wore sweats and a T-shirt when he came over to hang out, so he was probably wondering at the short skirt she wore. “Wow. You look pretty tonight.”

Her cheeks heated up. “Thanks.”

He came inside and she busied herself closing the door and locking it. The chill of the metal cooled her hunger for him—to some degree. “Is Chris gone?” he asked.

“Of c-course,” she stammered. “He’s at Brianna’s for the night.”

Garrett strode into the living room and set the bottle down before unzipping his coat. His black shirt clung to his finely tuned body, and her fingers twitched. Everything from his black hair, to his six-pack, down to his damn boots screamed out for her attention. And those blue eyes were mesmerizing. She could get lost in them for hours.

“That’s good.” Running a hand over his shirt to smooth it out, he cocked his head. “So we’ve got the whole place to ourselves, huh? No whispering required.”

She headed for the glasses. Images of her screaming out his name flashed over her, making her hot. She looked at him over her shoulder, hoping the smile she gave him would pass as seductive. “We can be as loud as we want. No one will hear me scream.”

He faltered in his steps, his eyes wide. Yep. She’d gotten her point across.

She pulled the corkscrew from the drawer but he slid up behind her and snatched it out of her hands. He always liked doing the muscle work for her, as if she couldn’t possibly do it alone. It used to bug her. Now, it didn’t. Weird.

She watched his muscles flex as he twisted the corkscrew, and swallowed hard. What was wrong with her? She needed to stop ogling him like she was thinking about stripping him naked here in the kitchen. Because she totally wasn’t. At all.

She totally planned on bringing him upstairs before stripping him.

“Are you doing okay?” He glanced at her out of the corner of his eye, his brow furrowed. He was probably wondering what the hell was wrong with her. “I know tonight’s gotta be rough for you.”

She swallowed. “I’m okay.”

“I know you are.” He squeezed her hand, then dropped it. She clenched her fist. “But I’m here if you want to vent or cry or whatever. Whatever you need.”

And she knew that, too. He was always there for her. But he said that without knowing what she needed tonight. “I know,” she said softly, her voice barely audible. “You’re a great friend.”

“I’d hope so. Sometimes I wonder, with how much you try to hide our friendship.” When he reached around her to set the opened bottle down on the granite counter, his breath fanned her cheek. He smelled like cologne and woodsy shampoo. “I don’t get the secrecy. I had to lie to Mike again so he wouldn’t ask questions about us.”

“It’s just better this way.”

“If you say so,” he drawled.

He leaned back against the counter and crossed his arms. He was looking at her again. Really looking. And even worse, something inside of her responded in a way she didn’t fully understand or welcome. It was as if something gave way, or shifted for him. She stared back at him, refusing to shrink away. Refusing to back down. He held her gaze, both of them silently challenging the other to be the first to look away.

If Mike knew what she was planning to do with Garrett tonight, he’d slap her upside the head for messing with his best friend. Brianna, on the other hand, would cheer her on. She always believed that love and happiness conquered all, despite the fact that she’d lost her first husband to cancer at way too young of an age.

And despite the fact that God had also taken their sister in a car accident only months after she’d had her son.

Ah. To be so blissfully optimistic.

After what felt like a year, she finally gave up and lost the staring contest. The longer she looked into those baby blues, the more nervous she got. Sucking in a shaky breath, she busied herself with filling the glasses up. “Thirsty?”

“Sure.” He eyed her but didn’t comment on her odd behavior. “Did you finish editing that book you were working on Monday night?”

“Yep. It’s been all prettied up and sent back to the author.” She worked from home as an editor and loved her job.

“Good.” Picking up the glasses, he handed her one and held his out for a toast. “Let’s toast to celebrate the win today. Chris did an excellent job and I have a feeling he’s only going to get better. You have quite the amazing nephew.”

“I’m not going to argue that,” she answered. She watched him over the rim of her glass, tension humming through her veins. His eyes latched onto hers, heating up under her stare. She looked away and tucked her side swept bangs behind her ear. “He wants to get a scholarship to Harvard, so let’s hope he keeps improving.”

“He can do it.”

Kiersten smiled at his utter conviction. Once again, something inside of her moved a little bit. She didn’t like it. “I know, but thank you.”

He lifted his glass again. “And we’re also toasting to your freedom from an asshole who didn’t know what he had when he had it,” he said, his eyes hard. “If he hadn’t shown his true colors, you would be marrying that jerk right now. You deserve so much better.”

She bit down hard on her tongue. He was right, but it didn’t stop the pain and humiliation Pete had put her through. “I don’t want to talk about him. I want to…to forget. To not think about what would have been, or why I was stupid enough to believe in him in the first place.”

Because if she started thinking about what Pete had done to Chris and her…she would break.

“Fair enough.” He stepped closer, his toes touching hers. He smoothed her hair that she’d sloppily tucked behind her ear, watching her as he did so. “Did I tell you how beautiful you look tonight?”

“Yes, you did.” She shivered, swaying closer despite the warning bells going off in her head. And he didn’t move away from her. If anything, he moved closer. Thank God. “But you shouldn’t say that.”

He cupped her cheek and ran his thumb over her chin, perilously close to her mouth. “Why not?”

Yeah, why not?

And that brought them to her agenda for the evening—sex. Time to start her arguments. State her case. They were both consenting adults. Easy. Straightforward. Commitment free.

“I like it when you do.” She chugged the rest of her drink. “But right now, we’re just friends. Friends don’t call each other pretty.”

He quirked a brow at her and took the glass away from her. She waited for him to question the right now part of her sentence, but instead he said, “You can call me pretty if you want. I don’t mind.”

She rolled her eyes. “Okay, pretty boy. Get me another drink, or I’ll have to slap you around a bit.”

He chuckled. “I might like that.”

She licked her lips. “I bet you would.”

He hissed in a breath through his teeth. “You’re feisty tonight, aren’t you?”

“You have no idea.”

He shot her a heated look, finished his own cup, and refilled them both with trembling hands. He seemed to steady himself by the time he turned back around to face her. The fire was gone from his eyes and he looked completely harmless. But she knew better.

“Here you go. You might want to slow down, though. You’ll be drunk if you don’t.” His lips tilted up into a small smile. “But if that’s what you want, then keep drinking. I won’t complain. I’ll even tuck you in when you pass out on the couch.”

“Hm.” She tipped back the glass. “Or you could join me?”

He stilled, the glass pressed to his lips. “What?”

“I’m kidding, of course.”

Was it just her, or did disappointment cross his features? “Of course you are. I knew that.”

“But then again…” She rolled a small sip around her tongue, watching him the whole time. After she swallowed, she slowly licked her lips. He watched her every movement, his muscles tight. “Maybe I feel like being a little bit stupid tonight. Want to join me?”

“Depends.” His hand tightened on the wine glass. “What do you want to do?”

“I want…” She clung to her glass, trying to get the nerve to say what she wanted out loud. What if she’d read him wrong? What if he wasn’t interested in her at all? God, she was pathetic. She didn’t used to be so uncertain of herself. She could thank her asshat of an ex for that, too. She took another gulp of wine, wishing it would take effect quicker. “Never mind that. Are you seeing anyone right now?”

He shook his head. “No. Why?”

“No reason.” She toyed with a piece of her hair and took another sip. “Can I ask you something?”

He looked less than sure. “What?”

“Did you ever have a crush on me?” She moved closer to him, and his lids dropped to cover his eyes, but not before she saw the desire in them. Desire for her. The knowledge gave her the confidence she needed to continue on. “Ever want to see what it would be like between us?”

He inhaled deeply. “You’re drunk already, aren’t you?”

“No.” She set her glass down and grabbed a hold of his shirt, tugging him closer. Her heartbeat pounded in her ears, drowning out anything else he said. “I’m not. I just want to let loose tonight. Have fun. With you.”

“Kiersten…” Her name seemed to be ripped out of somewhere deep within him. His Adam’s apple bobbed, and his hands fell to her hips. “What are you up to?”

“You’ll see.” She smoothed the shirt over his shoulders, then ran her hands down his hard biceps. “Now answer me.”

He stiffened. “What are you doing?”

“Touching you.” She looked up at him through her lashes. “Why? You want me to stop?”

“Yes. No.” His eyes darkened, and his knuckles whitened on the glass stem. “Shit. You better think twice about what you’re doing. Once you start this, I’m not backing down.”

She bit down on her lower lip. “Who says I want you to stop? Now answer me.”

“Kiersten…” He stepped back from her, his entire body hard and unyielding. “Are you sure you’re not drunk?”

Please. She wished she was, it would make this easier. She should have waited longer. Gotten some more drinks in them both. But it was too late to back down now that she’d gotten the ball rolling. She took his glass out of his hand, setting it beside hers. “No. I just want you.”

His hands fell to her hips. She couldn’t tell if he wanted to push her away or pull her closer. Maybe a little of both? If he rejected her, she would never be able to show her face in front of him again. “Are you sure?”

“Very.” She wrapped her arms around his neck, tugging him closer still. “Did you ever have a crush on me, or wonder what it might be like to spend a night together? To kiss me? Touch me?”

He groaned, and his fingers tightened their grip on her. “Yes. God, yes.”

“Good. Because I did, too. I still want to know what it would be like. Tonight.” She lifted her chin and looked into his eyes. “Kiss me.”

His gaze fell to her mouth. She was so close to victory she could taste it. “Why now?”

She played with the curls at the nape of his neck. “Why not?”

His jaw flexed. “I need a better answer than that.”

“I need to have fun tonight. Forget why I’m upset. Forget it all.”

“And what about Chris?”

“He’ll never know, will he? He’s not here.” She fought the desperation clawing its way up her throat. If he rejected her, she would die. Just. Die. “Please, I need you tonight, Garrett. So bad.”

“I never could say no to you.” He let out a tortured groan and lowered his head. He stopped just short of her lips. “But this will change everything I’ll need—”

“Just stop talking and do it already.”

She rose on tiptoe, closing the distance between them. When their lips touched, electric sparks had to have shot off of them. Once their lips met, she forget every other supposedly amazing kiss she’d ever had with any other man in her life. All that existed was Garrett. Like there hadn’t been anyone else in her life but him. Always him.

It terrified her.

She started to pull back, to change her mind, but then his tongue slipped into her mouth and he tipped her backwards over his arm. She clung to him, completely wrapped up in the way he held her. The way his lips moved over hers, tasting of Asti and pure Garrett. Digging her fingernails into his shoulders, she ripped her mouth away from his with considerable effort.

“Upstairs. Now.” She wasn’t risking him changing his mind.

He swept her into his arms and flung her over his shoulder. He smacked her ass hard enough to sting, but not so hard it actually hurt. “Right away, ma’am.”

He took the stairs two at a time and reached her bedroom door within seconds.

Thank God.

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Internet, I hope you enjoyed the excerpt…I know that I am looking forward to reading the whole story!

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