Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Tattered Gloves by J.L. Berg - Excerpt Reveal








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Book Description:

Head down.
Don’t look up.
Never make eye contact.


Those were the words I lived by growing up, the words that protected me in an unsafe home. But words are only letters and eventually even they couldn’t keep his hands off me.

Hoping to leave behind the shattered life of my past, I find myself in a boring, small town, with an aunt I’ve never met and at a school I loathe.

But soon I learn, not everything in this world is as black and white as I’ve determined. Sometimes those we are so quick to judge often need a second, third or even fourth time to make a first impression.

And often, there are friendships and even love waiting just around the corner, if we are brave enough to take the first step.

Am I brave? Or will I hide behind these tattered gloves of mine forever?




Excerpt:

Prologue

Head down.

Don’t look up.

Never make eye contact.

These were the rules I’d learned to live by while growing up in a house where men frequented but did not stay. When I was very little, I’d always assumed my mother had a lot of friends. Big, strong, manly friends who protected us since I didn’t have a daddy.

How naive I had been.

The men who had visited only wanted one thing, and my mother was happy to give it — for a price.

She’d never made any desperate attempts to shadow this particular part of her life or protect me from it.

The most I’d gotten was a flippant warning when I started showing signs of puberty.

“Willow, you might want to keep out of sight more now,” she’d said.

Thanks, Mom.

And then, when I’d garnered more than a glance or two, she’d say, “Stay in your room at night. Don’t come out.”

But, even with all the rules and warnings, I couldn’t keep them all away.

I couldn’t keep him away.

He’d managed to snuff out every bit of me in a matter of minutes.

Whatever remnants of innocence I’d had from my childhood was gone like a puff of smoke.

But, in our darkest hours, sometimes, even the weak could find the light.

I did, and this… this was my story.



Watch the Trailer:





About J.L. Berg




J.L. Berg is the USA Today bestselling author of the Ready Series, The Walls Duet, and the Lost & Found Duet. She is a California native living in the beautiful state of historic Virginia. Married to her high school sweetheart, they have two beautiful girls that drive them batty on a daily basis. When she's not writing, you will find her with her nose stuck in a romance novel, in a yoga studio or devouring anything chocolate. J.L. Berg is represented by Jill Marsal of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, LLC.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Kill Without Shame by Alexandra Ivy - Review




Author: Alexandra Ivy
Publication Date:  27 December, 2016
Publisher: Zebra
Series:  Ares Security, book 2
Genre:  Contemporary Romance, Military based
Age Recommendation: 18 and up
Rating: 4 Stars

~ I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review ~ 


Book Description:

Five brave military heroes have survived the hell of a Taliban prison to return home—and take on civilian missions no one else can. They’re the men of ARES Security. Highly skilled, intimidating, invincible, and one by one, tested again and again…

Lucas St. Clair’s prestigious family had a political future neatly planned out for him—one that didn’t include his high school sweetheart, Mia Ramon. Under their pressure, Lucas gave her up. But since surviving captivity, he’s a changed man—and a crucial member of ARES Security. When he discovers a dead man clutching a picture of Mia that bears a threatening message, his fiercest protective instincts kick in, and he knows he must go to her.

Mia has never forgiven Lucas for breaking her heart, and she’s convinced her feelings for him are in the past. But it’s soon clear that isn’t true for either of them. Now, determined to solve the crime and keep Mia safe, with his ARES buddies backing him up, Lucas will have to reconstruct the murder victim’s last days—and follow a lethal trail that leads right back to the fate of the woman he still loves…



My Review:

Another great addition to this new series. After meeting the 5 members that make up the Ares Security team in Kill Without Mercy I was more than ready to see where Lucas St. Clair's story was going to lead us.

Lucas St. Clair is the estranged son of a wealthy southern political family. He's carried the weight of his families expectations and his separate desires on his shoulders his entire life, he's given up the only thing he's loved because of his family but now she's in danger and he can't stay away.

Mia has no idea what danger lurks around the corners in her home town. She's spent the last 15 years quietly building her life and trying to rebuild her heart after having it crushed by Lucas St. Clair. Now he's back telling her she's in danger and demanding to be the one to protect her but her heart will be what needs protecting the most in the end. Can they both let go of the past and create a new future or is there too much history and hurt between them and will it get her killed?

Kill Without Shame is a second chance love story that will have you wanting to smack a couple of people upside the heads and rooting for them all at the same time. I am a sucker for second chance romances and this is one of the better ones out there lately. Lucas walked away for valid although frustrating reasons but he never truly left Mia's side. Mia, while she may have been broken she never gave up. I love that through her hurt she found herself and refuses now to be any thing other than who she was always meant to be. I also loved that the person she is now is the one that Lucas always wanted. I know that may sound a little confusing but trust me it will make perfect sense when you read it and it will be an integral part to the story. Mia was always meant to be a strong independent woman and when she was given the chance she took it and ran with it.

I appreciated greatly that Lucas while having alpha male tendencies recognizes Mia's need, willingness, and ability to help. He may not like it but he learns to accept that she won't be pushed aside and hovered over either because he feels the need to protect her or because he wants to coddle her.

One of the things I most enjoy about this series is the ties that bind the 5 men of Ares. I ache for what they went through to bring them together but I love what became of it. I love that through trial they have become a family and will stand with each other through anything . I love that these guys all have that Veteran Male Alpha-ness about them but not once have any of them come across as too strong to accept or desire help and love either through a friendship with their other 'brothers' on the team or through the romantic relationship for each individual. These are strong male characters but they aren't afraid to feel.

I am also a huge fan of the fact that each book while having a thread that ties it to the past one and future ones is it's own story. The story of the relationship is the main focus and if you decided to pick up book two with out having read the first book you won't be completely and utterly lost. We do get a good look at more of what will be coming for Hauk. I am so curious about how his story is going to play out since we have seen little pieces building in these first two books. It isn't enough to make you feel like you have to read them in order but it is enough to get your curiosity moving on high and anxious for more. There are 5 guys in all at Ares so unless something changes over the next few books I think we have at least 3 more books to go and I can't wait to get my hands on each of them.

If you are a fan of Military based Contemporary Romances with a bit of suspense these are great reads and I highly suggest giving them a try!


~ HAPPY READING ~


I'm not exactly sure when I fell in love with books. Probably on my mother's knee listening to her read Dr. Seuss to me. I do remember that I was barely old enough to cross the street by myself when I discovered the delights of the local library. Could anything be more wonderful than spending summer days surrounded by stacks of Nancy Drew mysteries? Over the years I fell in love with Victoria Holt, Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, and J.R.R. Tolkien just to name a few. I read poetry, essays, biographies, and plays. In fact, I read anything I could get my hands on.

Years later (no, I'm not admitting how many) I'm still an avid reader, and my tastes are still as varied as they were in my youth, which I suppose helps to explain why I enjoy writing regency historicals under the name of Deborah Raleigh, as well as my contemporary paranormals as Alexandra Ivy. For now that is enough to keep me busy, but who knows what the future might hold!

I do have a few other loves in my life besides reading and writing, the most important being my unbelievably patient husband, David, and my two sons, Chance and Alexander. Without their constant support and belief in me, I never could have been able to follow my dreams. They are truly my heroes.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Real Good Love by Meghan March - Release Day Launch

Real Duet complete duet

From USA Today bestselling author Meghan March comes a sexy new duet. We've all had the bad boys, now it's time for a Real Good Man.

    real-good-love-amazon

GoodReadsiBooks ~ AmazonUS ~ AmazonUK ~ AmazonAU ~ 

AmazonCA ~ Barnes&Noble ~ Kobo

Book Description:

 I’ve had my fair share of bad boys, but nothing prepared me for what it was like to be with a real good man. Logan Brantley changed everything. Somewhere along the way, what started as a fling became the best part of my life. He makes me want all the things I’ve never had, like forever and happily ever after, but nothing worth having comes easily. Everyone is betting on us to fail, but I’m ready to fight for this real good love.   Real Good Love is the conclusion of the Real Duet and should be read following Real Good Man.  


        real-good-man-amazon
 iBooks ~ AmazonUS ~ AmazonUK ~ AmazonAU ~ AmazonCA ~ 

Real Good Man is book one of the Real Duet. Logan and Banner's story will conclude in Real Good Love, releasing January 17, 2017.  

Book Description:

Fall for a woman over text messages? No way in hell. Reality can never be as good at the fantasy, right? Wrong. It’s better. Banner Regent is smart, funny, and she’s so far out of my league, she might as well be royalty. I’m a mechanic from Kentucky. She’s a New York City party girl. We were never supposed to meet, but one text started something neither of us saw coming. How do you seduce the woman who already has everything? Show her what it’s like to be with a real good man.
   

  Real Duet masterpiece blue



meghanmarchpic
Meghan March has been known to wear camo face paint and tromp around in woods wearing mud-covered boots, all while sporting a perfect manicure. She's also impulsive, easily entertained, and absolutely unapologetic about the fact that she loves to read and write smut. Her past lives include slinging auto parts, selling lingerie, making custom jewelry, and practicing corporate law. Writing books about dirty talking alpha males and the strong, sassy women who bring them to their knees is by far the most fabulous job she's ever had. She loves hearing from her readers at meghanmarchbooks@gmail.com.



Monday, January 16, 2017

When You're Feeling Sick by Coy Bowles - A Mom Monday Review



A MOM MONDAY REVIEW



Author: Coy Bowles
Publication Date:  10 January, 2017
Publisher: Double Day Books for Young Readers, Random House
Series:  StandAlone
Genre: Children's Picture Book 
Age Recommendation: 3-7 years old
Rating: 3 Stars


~ I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review ~ 

Book Description:


This laugh-out-loud picture book from Coy Bowles, guitarist for the Grammy Award winning Zac Brown Band, will have sick kids feeling better in no time!

Sneezing? Coughing? Taking a sick day? Don t worry, you'll be feeling better soon thanks to this hilarious picture book from Coy Bowles, guitarist of the Grammy Award winning Zac Brown Band. Full of encouraging and super-silly rhyming advice on how to face sick days with courage and a positive attitude, When You re Feeling Sick is just what the doctor ordered! Comes with a sheet of stickers to bring a smile to every sick kid s face.


My Review:

I, like I think every parent out there would be, was super excited when this book came across my desk.  What parent doesn't want to find the perfect book that makes their child (and themselves) laugh out loud when they are feeling sick and down?  I read "Super silly rhyming advice.." and the fact that it came from the pen of Coy Bowles and I was in.  Sadly, When You're Feeling Sick just doesn't quite get there and I can't push it over the line to a fantastic read no matter how I try.

Let's start off with the good.  
The illustrations are fantastic.  Fun, bright, appealing, and engaging.  The authors message comes across loud and clear:  You're going to be okay, take that frown and turn it upside down, this too shall pass, etc.  I loved the note from the author talking about how the book came about (sadly that is not going to resinate with little ones) and what it means to him.  

When You're Feeling Sick is just right there, on the edge of being fantastic but where it falls short is the prose. 
I had such high hopes for the prose in this story considering the author (and maybe that is the problem, I went in with my expectations too high), but the rhymes turn out clunky more than once.  You'll be happily reading along and hit a word and have to go back wondering what you missed that made the rhyme fall off.  I found myself going back through the verse trying to find the word that I surely missed that would have made the rhyme complete only to find it wasn't there at all.  That clunkiness makes it terribly difficult to read and while you're smallest readers may not mind and will be so engrossed in the pictures they may not even notice if you have an independent reader they are going to struggle and might find themselves getting frustrated.  I want so badly to send this book back to the entire Zac Brown Band and say, help.....make it work, because there is so much potential for greatness.  

What you must do however is go check out the Sickness Song that goes along with the book!  If the book leaves you feeling a little blue the song will turn it all around, trust me.  You and your kiddos will be dancing all around the house even if they are hopped up on acetaminophen!

Click the Link to go to Sound Cloud and Listen



https://soundcloud.com/coybowles/the-sickness-song-revised


 I wish I could tell you that it's amazing and everyone needs this in their library but in the end this is a just fun book and if you buy it for not other reason than the illustrations you will have a nice book sitting on your child's book shelf.  I hope that Coy Bowles will bring us more I think he's a fairly new author with an amazing mind that just needs a little time and polish to get his ideas to come through more smoothly.  It's hard with a children's book because you either rhyme or you don't, but you can't be half of one and half of the other. I also hope that he will team up again with Illustrator Andy Elkerton, he really brought this book to life. 



~ HAPPY READING ~ 



COY BOWLES  plays guitar and organ and writes songs for the multiplatinum Zac Brown Band. They have won three Grammys and since 2009, have earned 55 award nominations from the Grammys, Academy of Country Music, American Music Awards, Country Music Association, and Country Music Television. Born in Thomaston, Georgia, Coy was raised on love, support, and the idea that he could do anything he put his heart and soul into. After earning a degree from Georgia State University’s Jazz Studies program, Coy formed the band Coy Bowles and the Fellowship. In 2006, they opened for the Zac Brown Band, and soon after Zac asked Coy to join his band full time. Coy’s first book, the self-published Amy Giggles: Laugh Out Loud, teaches kids to accept themselves as they are. 
Visit Coy at 




Illustrator ANDY ELKERTON began his career as a graphic designer for video games, when the industry was still in its infancy, and after fourteen years decided to try his hand at being a children’s book illustrator. Since 2002 he has produced work for picture books, advertising, and toy design. He lives in a small town on the west coast of Scotland with his wife and three children.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Play Mate by Kendall Ryan - Cover Reveal

THE PLAY MATE is the upcoming friends to lovers standalone from New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author Kendall Ryan releasing on March 14, 2017 and we have the spectacular cover to reveal for you!

    the-play-mate-kendall-ryan      

Goodreads ~ (pre-order) Amazon ~  iBooks


Book Description:

Smith Hamilton has it all—he's smart, good-looking and loaded. But he remembers a time when he had nothing and no one, so he's not about to mess up, especially with his best friend’s little sister. That means keeping Evie at arm's length … even though the once pesky little girl is now a buxom bombshell. A sexy blonde who pushes his self-control to the limit the night she crawls into bed with him. Evie Reed knows she's blessed—with an exclusive education, a family who loves her, and a new job managing social media for her family's lingerie company. But she wants more, like a reason to wear the sexy lingerie herself. She has just the man in mind to help with that. She's crushed on Smith forever. Surely tricking her way into his bed will force him to see her in a new, adult way. Except that when Evie's plan leads to disaster, she and Smith must decide—ignore the attraction sizzling between them, or become play mates and risk it all. 


    play-mate_banner  

 

kendall-ryan-headshot-1-picA New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of more than two dozen titles, Kendall Ryan has sold over 1.5 million books and her books have been translated into several languages in countries around the world. She's a traditionally published author with Simon & Schuster and Harper Collins UK, as well as an independently published author. Since she first began self-publishing in 2012, she's appeared at #1 on Barnes & Noble and iBooks charts around the world. Her books have also appeared on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists more than three dozen times. Ryan has been featured in such publications as USA Today, Newsweek, and InTouch Magazine.

Visit her at: www.kendallryanbooks.com for the latest book news, and fun extras

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Retreat by Jay Crownover - Review





Author: Jay Crownover
Publication Date:  27 December, 2016
Publisher: Self-Published
Series:  The Getaway series, book 1
Genre:  Contemporary Romance, Suspense
Age Recommendation: 18 and up
Rating: 4 Stars


Book Description:

Retreat is a standalone novel, the first in the Getaway series which centers on the hardheaded and brokenhearted Warner brothers and the women that dare to love them.

These boys are very good at putting the wild in wilderness.

Every once in a while, you need to get away from it all.

I was a woman on the edge, shaken and shattered after a breakup that felt like it tore my entire world apart.

My best friend, sick of watching me drown in misery and melancholy, harassed me until I agreed to go with her on a week-long wilderness retreat.

She promised days spent bonding and getting in touch with our inner bad-asses.
It was supposed to be all about the two of us roughing it and making do with the bare minimum. She assured me we were going to be pushed to our limits in ways that were unimaginable. Neither one of us could have ever guessed just how right she was.

Nowhere in the glossy brochure did it say anything about the fact I was going to have to battle the insufferable but deliciously rugged and sexy trail guide instead of the elements. The brochure also forgot to mention the part that warned when you left civilization behind, there was no place to pack your inhibitions and fears.

I was told that I would be facing a week where the only thing I should expect was the unexpected. However, no one mentioned that I was going to have to fight for my life…and my heart as soon as I ventured into the unknown.

I was a pro at hiding from my feelings but when it came time to face a real threat, one that could change everything, I learned I was more of a no surrender, no retreat kind of girl.


My Review:
 *** This is one of my 'Fast and Furious, Just Finished Reading' reviews that I put up on Goodreads right when I...well, finish the book I am reading.  I usually don't put them here because they are my thoughts gone rogue but I want to get this book out there to more people because I totally think it's worth the read even if as you will see below it leaves me in a bit of a strange place with my feelings, haha. *** 


I'm in a strange place with this one, it's not a bad place, just a strange one. It's a limbo between love and meh. It's a cross between a book hangover and a book funk. It's an 'OMG get this book in your hands now' and a 'add this to your TBR pile'.

There is truly SO much to love.
I love that it is a departure from what we've come to know as a 'Jay Crownover' book. 
I love that she took the chance to write a story that called to her, that she gave us a gift that might be outside of our 'Crownover comfort zone' but is exactly the story she needed to tell. 
I love the concept.
I love the characters.
I love the steamy moments. 
I love the friendship.

I'm not keen on the insta-love, although by the end I loved the love so it no longer mattered, but that only came in at the last 10% of the book. 
I wasn't keen on the pure insanity of the plot at times or the seemingly random addition of a family. I mean it's okay that they were there, but the story would have gone on just as easily without them. 

I love the number of characters we're introduced to, but not keen on the fact that I don't think all the characters I've fallen in love with will get their own books...unless I am a very lucky girl! 


I loved the strength of the characters, even when they are breaking. 
I love their growth and their courage. 

I wasn't keen that certain people didn't get their comeuppance in a more 'learn from this moment' kind of way, but I'm a bit vindictive like that, haha. 

I loved the vividness of the scenery Jay paints. I want to go out on my own, much less angsty and dangerous, wilderness retreat and I want to live on a ranch in the middle of Wyoming and force my husband to wear a black Stetson now, seriously the black Stetson is a MUST.  If this had come out before Christmas he would have gotten one for his Christmas present, luckily his birthday is not too far away. ;-)

 Most importantly, I definitely want more!

Retreat is a departure from what you expect from Jay Crownover but it's a breath of fresh air when you need it most.  I was tying to come up with a good comparison of if you like this author then you will like this book and honestly I can't really pin point down one author.  Jay has really taken hold and given us something new here, it's a contemporary romance, with a thriller/suspense twist, verging one the edge of dark.  I think the only person I can safely say if you than you...is Kristen Ashley, but that comes down to the 'world' building and the angsty-ness of the Hero, other than that Jay has really forged her own path here and she's barreling down it, luckily for us!  Contemporary Romance fans get your hands on this one and definitely let me know what you think when you are done.  I need to talk about this and get my feelings straight, haha.

~ HAPPY READING ~ 



Jay Crownover is the International and multiple New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men Series, The Saints of Denver Series, and The Point and Breaking Point Series. Her books can be found translated in many different languages all around the world. She is a tattooed, crazy haired Colorado native who lives at the base of the Rockies with her awesome dogs. This is where she can frequently be found enjoying a cold beer and Taco Tuesdays. Jay is a self-declared music snob and outspoken book lover who is always looking for her next adventure, between the pages and on the road.
GUYS!!! I finally have a newsletter, so if you want to sign up for exclusive content and monthly giveaways you can do that right here:
http://www.jaycrownover.com/#!subscribe
You can email me at: JayCrownover@gmail.com

Monday, January 9, 2017

Ego Maniac by Vi Keeland - Extended Excerpt Reveal

egomanaic-banner 



   Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00072]


       




Book Description:

The night I met Drew Jagger, he’d just broken into my new Park Avenue office. I dialed 9-1-1 before proceeding to attack him with my fancy new Krav Maga skills. He quickly restrained me, then chuckled, finding my attempted assault amusing.

Of course, my intruder had to be arrogant. Only, turned out, he wasn’t an intruder at all.

Drew was the rightful occupant of my new office. He’d been on vacation while his posh space was renovated. Which was how a scammer got away with leasing me office space that wasn’t really available for rent. I was swindled out of ten grand.

The next day, after hours at the police station, Drew took pity on me and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. In exchange for answering his phones while his secretary was out, he’d let me stay until I found a new place. I probably should have acted grateful and kept my mouth shut when I overheard the advice he was spewing to his clients. But I couldn’t help giving him a piece of my mind. I never expected my body to react every time we argued. Especially when that was all we seemed to be able to do.

The two of us were complete opposites. Drew was a bitter, angry, gorgeous-as-all-hell, destroyer of relationships. And my job was to help people save their marriages. The only thing the two of us had in common was the space we were sharing. And an attraction that was getting harder to deny by the day.


Sometimes what you’re looking for comes when you’re not looking at all.

                                                                       -Unknown

  chp1

DREW

I hate New Year’s Eve. Two hours in traffic to make it not even the nine miles home from LaGuardia. It was after ten o’clock at night. Why weren’t all these people at a party by now? Whatever tension two weeks in Hawaii had relieved was already back to coiling tighter and tighter inside me as the town car inched its way uptown. I tried not to think about all the work I was coming back to—the endless string of other people’s problems to compound my own: She cheated. He cheated. Get me full custody of the kids. She can’t have the house in Vail. All she wants is my money. She hasn’t given me a blowjob in three years. Listen, asshole, you’re fifty, bald, pompous, and shaped like an egg. She’s twenty-three, hot, and has tits so young they almost reach up to her chin. You want to fix this marriage? Come home with ten Gs in fresh, crisp bills, and tell her to get on her knees. You’ll get your blowjob. She’ll get her spending money. Let’s not pretend it was ever more than it really was. That doesn’t work for you? Unlike your soon-to-be ex-wife, I’ll take a check. Make that out to Drew M. Jagger, Attorney at Law. I rubbed the back of my neck, feeling slightly claustrophobic in the back of the Uber, and looked out the window. An old lady with a walker passed us. “I’ll get out here,” I barked at the driver. “But you have luggage?” I was already exiting the back of the car. “Pop the trunk. It’s not like we’re moving anyway.” Traffic was at a dead stop, and it was only two blocks to my building. Tossing a hundred-dollar tip at the driver, I grabbed my suitcase from the trunk and took in a deep breath of Manhattan. I loved this city as much as I hated it. 575 Park Avenue was a restored pre-war on the southeast corner of Sixty-Third Street—it was an address that gave people preconceived notions about you. Someone with my last name had occupied the building since before the place was converted into overpriced co-ops. Which is why my office was allowed to remain on the ground floor when other commercial tenants were tossed out years ago. I also lived on the top floor. “Welcome back, Mr. Jagger.” The uniformed doorman greeted me as he swung open the lobby door. “Thanks, Ed. I miss anything while I was gone?” “Nah. Same old, same old. Peeked in on your construction the other day, though. Looking good.” “They use the service entrance down Sixty-Third like they were supposed to?” Ed nodded. “Sure did. Barely heard them the last few days.” I dropped my luggage inside my apartment, then headed back downstairs in the elevator to check things out. For the last two weeks, while I was screwing off in Honolulu, my office space had been getting a total renovation. Cracks in the high, plastered ceilings were to be patched and painted, and new floors installed to replace the old, worn parquet. Thick plastic remained taped over all of the interior doorways when I walked in. The little furniture I hadn’t put in storage was also still covered with tarps. Shit. They aren’t done yet. The contractor had assured me there would only be finish work left by the time I returned. I was right to be skeptical. Flicking on the lights, I was happy to find the lobby completely done, though. Finally, a New Year’s Eve with no horrible surprises for a change. I took a quick look around, pleased with what I found, and was just about to leave when I noticed a light streaming from under the door of a small file room at the end of the hallway. Thinking nothing of it, I headed to turn it off. Now, I’m six foot two and a half, two hundred and five pounds, and maybe it was just my frame of mind, my not expecting to see anyone, but when I opened the door to the file room, finding her there scared the living crap out of me. She screamed. I took a step back through the door. She got up, stood on the chair, and began yelling at me, waving her cell phone in the air. “I’ll call the police!” Her fingers shook as she dialed nine, then one, and hovered over the last one. “Get out now, and I won’t call!” I could have lunged for her, and the phone would have been out of her hand before she realized she hadn’t dialed the final digit. But she looked terrified, so I retreated another step and put my hands up in surrender. “I’m not going to hurt you.” I used my best soothing, calm voice. “You don’t need to call the police. This is my office.” “Do I look stupid to you? You just broke into my office.” “Your office? I think you took a wrong turn at the corner of Crazy and Nutjob.” She wobbled atop the chair, holding both arms out to regain her balance, and then…her skirt fell to her feet. “Get out!” She crouched down and grabbed her skirt, tugging it up to her waist as she turned her back to me. “Do you take medication, ma’am?” “Medication? Ma’am? Are you joking?” “You know what?” I motioned to the phone she was still holding. “Why don’t you push that last one and get the police over here. They can drive you back to whatever loony bin you escaped from.” Her eyes widened. For a crazy person—now that I was really looking—she was pretty damn cute. Fiery red hair piled on top of her head seemed to match her firecracker personality. Although from the looks of her blazing blue eyes, I was glad I’d held off on telling her that. She pushed one and proceeded to report the crime of entering one’s own office. “I’d like to report a robbery.” “Robbery?” I arched an eyebrow and looked around. A lone folding chair and crappy metal folding table were the only furniture in the entire space. “What exactly am I stealing? Your winning personality?” She amended her complaint to the police. “A breaking and entering. I’d like to report a breaking and entering at 575 Park Avenue.” She paused and listened. “No, I don’t think he’s armed. But he’s big. Really big. At least six feet. Maybe bigger.” I smirked. “And strong. Don’t forget to tell them I’m strong, too. Want me to flex for you? And maybe you should tell them I have green eyes. Wouldn’t want the police to confuse me with all the other really big thieves hanging out in my office.” After she hung up, she stayed standing on the chair, still glaring at me. “Was there also a mouse?” I asked. “A mouse?” “Considering you jumped up on that chair.” I chuckled. “You find this funny?” “Oddly, I do. And I have no fucking idea why. It should annoy the crap out of me that I come home from a two-week vacation and find a squatter in my office.” “Squatter? I’m no squatter. This is my office. I moved in a week ago.” She bobbled again while standing on her chair. “Why don’t you get down? You’re going to fall off that thing and get hurt.” “How do I know you’re not going to hurt me when I get down?” I shook my head and contained my laugh. “Sweetheart, look at the size of me. Look at the size of you. Standing on that chair isn’t doing jack shit to keep you safe. If I wanted to hurt you, you’d be out cold on the floor already.” “I take Krav Maga classes twice a week.” “Twice a week? Really? Thanks for the warning.” “You don’t have to ridicule me. Maybe I could hurt you. For an intruder, you’re really kind of rude, you know.” “Get down.” After a full minute stare-off, she climbed off the chair. “See? You’re as safe on the ground as you were up there.” “What do you want from here?” “You didn’t call the police, did you? You almost had me there for a second.” “I didn’t. But I can.” “Now why would you go and do that? So they can arrest you for breaking and entering?” She pointed down at her makeshift desk. For the first time, I noticed papers all over the place. “I told you. This is my office. I’m working late tonight because the construction crew was so loud today that I couldn’t get done what I needed to. Why would anyone break and enter to work at ten-thirty at night on New Year’s Eve?” Construction crew? My construction crew? Something was going on here. “You were here with the construction crew today?” “Yes.” I scratched my chin, half believing her. “What’s the foreman’s name?” “Tommy.” Shit. She was telling the truth. Well, at least some of it had to be the truth. “You said you moved in a week ago?” “That’s right.” “And you rented the space from whom, exactly?” “John Cougar.” Both my brows shot up this time. “John Cougar? Did he drop the Mellencamp, by chance?” “How should I know?” This wasn’t sounding good. “And you paid this John Cougar?” “Of course. That’s how renting an office suite works. Two months’ security, first and last month’s rent.” I shut my eyes and shook my head. “Shit.” “What?” “You got conned. How much did all of that cost you? Two months’ security, first and last month? Four months in total?” “Ten thousand dollars.” “Please tell me you didn’t pay cash.” Something finally clicked, and the color drained from her pretty face. “He said his bank was closed in the evening, and he couldn’t give me the keys until my check cleared. If I gave him cash, I could move in right away.” “You paid John Cougar forty thousand dollars in cash?” “No!” “Thank God.” “I paid him ten thousand in cash.” “I thought you said you paid four months.” “I did. It was twenty-five hundred a month.” That did it. Of all the crazy shit I’d heard so far, thinking she could get space on Park Avenue for twenty-five hundred a month took the cake. I broke out in a fit of laughter. “What’s so funny?” “You’re not from New York, are you?” “No. I just moved here from Oklahoma. What does that have to do with anything?” I took a step closer. “I hate to break the news to you, Oklahoma, but you got ripped off. This is my office. I’ve been here for three years. My father the thirty before that. I was on vacation the last two weeks and had the office remodeled while I was gone. Someone named after a singer scammed you into giving him cash to rent an office he had no right to rent. Doorman’s name is Ed. Walk through the main building entrance, and he’ll verify everything I just said.” “That can’t be.” “What do you do that you need office space?” “I’m a psychologist.” I held out my hand. “I’m an attorney. Let me see your contract.” Her face fell. “He hasn’t brought it by yet. He said the landlord was in Brazil on vacation, and I could move in, and he would come back on the first to collect the rent and bring me the contract to sign.” “You’ve been scammed.” “But I paid him ten thousand dollars!” “Which is another thing that should have tipped you off. You couldn’t rent a closet on Park Avenue for twenty-five hundred a month. Didn’t you find it strange that you were getting a place like this for next to nothing?” “I thought I was getting a deal.” I shook my head. “You got a deal alright. A raw deal.” She covered her mouth. “I think I’m going to be sick.”     


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author-photoVi Keeland is a native New Yorker with three children that occupy most of her free time, which she complains about often, but wouldn't change for the world. She is an attorney and a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, & USA Today Best Selling author. Over the last three years, eleven of her titles have appeared on the USA Today Bestseller lists and four on the New York Times Bestseller lists. In 2013, she released her first romance novel and never looked back. To date, she has thirteen novels released, with PLAYBOY PILOT also releasing in 2016.  Her novels have appeared on #1 on Amazon and are currently being translated into German, Polish, Portuguese, Korean, Hebrew, French and Italian. Website ~ Facebook Fan Group ~