WITHOUT BORDERS by Amanda Heger Blog Tour!

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I’m so excited to be hosting an official excerpt and my review of my dear friend Amanda Heger’s gorgeous debut, WITHOUT BORDERS – out TODAY from Diversion Books! Come for the fuzzy uterus and dick jokes, stay for the hot Nicaraguan doctor!

 

Blurb
For Annie London, a month in a Central American rainforest means handing out mosquito nets, giving medical aid, and teaching children about the birds and the bees. With any luck, it will also land her application in the “accepted” pile at a top tier medical school. But as soon as she steps off the plane, Annie realizes her bug spray, feeble Spanish, and medical supplies won’t help her deal with her new feelings for Felipe—her best friend’s older brother, who’s much hotter than she remembers, and who also happens to be the doctor in charge of the trip.

Gawking “volun-tourists” may keep his family’s medical clinic afloat, but Dr. Felipe Gutierrez doesn’t have to like them. Or the way they make snap judgments about his practice and the people he cares for. But when his old crush, Annie, shows up to volunteer, her killer curves and kind smile fan the embers of a flame Felipe didn’t realize he’d been carrying. A flame that makes him question all his preconceived notions.

As ideas and cultures clash, Annie and Felipe must decide how far outside their comfort zones they are willing to go—both for their work and for one another.

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Official Excerpt:

The girl strained and cried out, and it took everything Annie had to keep her upright. Felipe and the midwife swapped positions with every contraction, taking turns at easing the infant into the world. But with every push, Felipe’s face darkened and the midwife’s voice grew shriller as she half cried, half encouraged her daughter.

               Annie had no idea how long it had been since they’d arrived in this dim hut, but every second that passed with those arms and legs dangling outside the womb made her heart ache.

               In a rare moment between contractions, Felipe and the midwife began arguing. They pointed and stomped and shook their hands as the words flew between them.

               Angela sagged in Annie’s arms, pale and sweaty.

               “What’s going on?” Annie asked.

               For a moment, the arguing stopped and they both stared silently at Annie.

               The girl’s mother pointed and nodded at her, shrieking in Spanish, but Annie didn’t understand a word of it.

               Felipe held up a hand. “We are having some trouble delivering the baby’s head.”

               The midwife yelled and pointed again, and before Annie could ask what she was saying, the woman stood and nudged her out of the way with her rotund mid-section. She looped her arms through Angela’s and took the girl’s weight.

               Annie stumbled, her muscles too tired to change position. She squeaked to something that resembled standing, but her back refused to straighten. Felipe looked at her, eyes flashing with fear.

               “We need you to deliver the baby,” he said.

 

Pick up a copy here!

Amazon | B & N | Google Play | iTunes | Kobo

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Amanda Heger is a writer, attorney, and bookworm. She lives in the Midwest with three unruly rescue dogs and a husband who encourages her delusions of grandeur.

Her debut romance, Without Borders, is forthcoming from Diversion Books. The story was inspired by the summer Amanda spent in rural Nicaragua, eating gallo pinto, speaking mangled Spanish, and showing high school students how to slide condoms onto over-sized plantains.

Her stories are represented by Jessica Watterson of the Dijkstra Literary Agency.

Find Amanda here: Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads 
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My Review!

What do you get when you mix a lush rainforest setting, a hot Nicaraguan doctor, plenty of awkward situations, and throw in a few dick jokes? This amazing debut romance by Amanda Heger.

Annie London’s plans for spending a month traveling through Nicaragua in a medical brigade included seeing her best friend Marisol, improving her medical knowledge, and getting a stellar recommendation letter for med school; however, she never planned on falling for Marisol’s brother, the head doctor responsible for everyone.

Dr. Felipe Gutierrez only tolerates obnoxious American tourists in order to secure donations for his family’s medical practice. When he learns his sister’s best friend will be one of them, he’s conflicted; while he assumes Annie will be just as annoying as the other American tourists, he hasn’t been able to shake the crush he’s had on her since he was a teenager.

Along with prankster dentist Juan and reality TV star Phillip, the group sets off into the rainforest, traveling from town to town to bring medical care to local villages. Annie finds herself in over her head with the task of teaching sex ed (armed with a fuzzy stuffed uterus, some condoms, and a banana) while she deals with her growing crush on Felipe. But Felipe and Annie realize their new found relationship has a time line – when the month is up, Annie is set to return to America, and Felipe must continue his work in Nicaragua.

This was such a fun and heartfelt story. I really identified with Annie, and I loved watching her learn about Nicaragua with an open mind while still struggling to adapt to the drastically different culture. I enjoyed her personal triumphs throughout the story as well, when she is pushed out of her comfort zone – for example, during one scene when she is forced to deliver an emergency baby. And the fact that the whole story takes place camping in Nicaragua was awesome – it’s not a setting I’d read before, and I felt like I was there!

There were a lot of hilarious moments and one-liners – and times when I felt so embarrassed for Annie I didn’t know whether to burst out laughing or hide my face. Like when a boy gets up in the middle of her sex ed lecture and starts pretending to hump her with the banana!

Felipe was adorable, and I loved how sweet he was. For a chunk I was so upset wondering how this could possibly end happily, because I was so invested in the characters.

I actually really liked Phillip, and hope he ends up with Marisol in the next book (I’m also happy Marisol gets her own story, she was awesome!). I’ll definitely be reading the next two books in the series!

Enter to win a signed paperback of WITHOUT BORDERS here! 

Don’t miss WITHOUT BORDERS, available now!!

Blog Tour – INCONCEIVABLE by Tegan Wren!

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Today I’m so excited to host a stop on my friend Tegan Wren’s blog tour for her debut novel, INCONCEIVABLE!, which comes out today! I was lucky enough to read an ARC of this book, and I can personally guarantee, this is one you don’t want to miss! Read on for an official blurb, my review, and a raffle to win a signed paperback of Tegan’s book!

So what’s INCONCEIVABLE! about?

INCONCEIVABLE Cover

A popular, young royal couple can’t produce an heir? INCONCEIVABLE!

When Ozarks native Hatty goes “whole hog” during karaoke, she catches the eye of Prince John. He isn’t what she expects the heir to a small European nation to be: he’s affable, witty, and isn’t put off by her tell-it-like-it-is demeanor. Their flirtation should be short lived, but a force stronger than fate—Hatty’s newspaper editor—assigns her to cover the royals. After spending time together, she and John soon begin dating, and Hatty finds herself making headlines instead of writing them.

But challenges loom that are even more complicated than figuring out how to mesh Hatty’s journalism career with life at Belvoir Palace. Hatty and John soon find themselves embroiled in an unusual sex scandal: they can’t produce an heir. Tabloids dub Hatty a “Barren-ess,” and the royals become irate. Hatty politely tells them to shove it. But beneath her confident exterior, she struggles to cope with a heartbreak that invades her most intimate moments with John. Pressured to choose between invasive medical procedures and abandoning John’s claim to the throne, the couple feels trapped until a trip to Ethiopia shows them happy endings sometimes arrive long after saying “I do.”

Find it on Amazon!

About the Author

tegan wren

 

The best compliment Tegan Wren ever received came from her sixth grade teacher: “You always have a book in your hand!”

Guided by her love of the creative process, Tegan grew up acting in theatre productions and writing poetry, short stories, and plays. She turned her eye to writing about real life when she worked as a journalist, producing reports for various radio and television stations in medium and large markets in the Midwest and also filing some stories for a major national news network. Wren has both a Bachelor’s of Journalism and a Master of Arts in Communications. After completing her graduate degree, Tegan had the opportunity to teach journalism courses at a major state university. She absolutely loved training the next generation of journalists.

Tegan’s thankful that she’s had the opportunity to travel overseas, and uses those adventures to inform her writing. She also draws inspiration from her own struggles, joys, and other life experiences. Tegan and her husband, Patrick, experienced infertility for five years before becoming parents through adoption. Because she understands the financial stress of the infertility journey, Tegan is donating half the royalties from her book to Baby Quest Foundation. This charity awards grants to people all over the U.S. for fertility treatments. Tegan is thrilled to use her story to help other people find their happily ever after.

Find Tegan online!

 Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads

Excerpt-Banner
Here’s an exclusive excerpt of INCONCEIVABLE!

 

He leaned closer and sang softly. I recognized the opening lyrics to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.” His singing voice was soulful and sexy, and something deep inside me responded, making my heart beat a little faster.

He stopped and looked me in the eyes. “That song’s about someone who’s alone. But that’s not you. You’re too lovely to be lonely.”

A nervous laugh escaped my lips. “Are you kidding? Aren’t we sitting in a sanctuary for the lonely?”

“I don’t feel lonely right now.”

“Me either.” I blew into my mug, then took a sip. “Have you had one of these?”

“I don’t think so. What is it?”

“It’s called a chocolate kiss. It’s peppermint schnapps and hot cocoa.”

He reached over and picked up the steaming mug. His movement conveyed authority while his neat fingernails screamed uppity. They looked better than mine, damn it. After taking a long pull from the cup, he handed it back. Our fingers brushed together, sending a flash of heat through my body.

“Thanks for sharing a kiss with me,” he said, reaching over and lifting my chin.

Our eyes met, and I couldn’t tear myself away from his gaze. Yowza. Was he going to kiss me? Did I want him to?

“You guys know each other?”

I flinched at Plato’s words―I hadn’t seen him coming toward us―and pulled back. I sloshed a healthy dollop of my drink onto Farmer Joe’s pants. We both reached for the stack of napkins, but I got there first.

“Sorry. Here, let me,” I sputtered, dabbing at the wet patch.

I blotted along his pants, and my hand moved a little too close to the inside of his leg. A burning sensation rose up behind my ears. “Umm. I’ll just let you do it.”

I dropped the wad of damp napkins onto his open palm. Glancing at his face, I saw a half smile. I closed my eyes and touched my forehead, gently rubbing the area above my eyebrows as I always did when embarrassment overwhelmed me.

Review-Banner

Here’s my review of INCONCEIVABLE!

I am a total sucker for “royals” stories, and this one did not disappoint. INCONCEIVABLE tells the story of Hatty, a college student from Missouri doing an internship abroad in a small European country. One night at a bar, she accidentally meets Prince John Meinrad, the heir to the throne. It isn’t long before the two fall in love and get married. However, they find themselves in a predicament; the prince’s wife’s only role is to produce an heir, yet Hatty and John can’t conceive. This causes John’s prince father and queen grandmother to threaten a forced annulment of their marriage.

The first half of this story centers on Hatty and John’s romance, courtship, and marriage. Their banter and chemistry was awesome. I loved watching their relationship unfold. I loved Hatty’s character, and how she always said whatever was on her mind (even if that means dropping f-bombs in front of the queen…). I also loved the voice of this book.

The second half of the book shows Hatty and John’s struggle with infertility. It was gritty and realistic, and I love that the author didn’t shy away from this topic. Wren shows Hatty going through emotional reactions like disconnecting from her religion, blaming herself, and feeling jealous of her sister-in-law’s pregnancy – and then feeling guilty of feeling jealous. I love that these feelings weren’t glossed over – they were real.

While I’ve never personally struggled with infertility, I’ve had close friends who had. Not only was this a very well written and entertaining story (I flew through it), but I feel it’s also a very important story. Miscarriages and infertility are so common, yet so rarely discussed in our culture. Also, I appreciate that this book has a happy ending – I feel like so many books about infertility end tragically, which is sad. While Hatty and John’s relationship isn’t perfect, and they definitely have their ups and downs throughout the book, they really love each other. INCONCEIVABLE shows that being able to physically birth a child isn’t the only path to motherhood and happiness – a very important and very true message.

I would recommend this book to anyone – especially anyone who might be going through this difficult situation. I will definitely be checking out future books from this author!

Don’t miss INCONCEIVABLE!, available now in paperback and e-book, wherever books are sold! And a big thank you to Tasty Book Tours and Author Tegan Wren for inviting me to host a stop on the blog tour! To enter the raffle, click here!

Cover Reveal – INCONCEIVABLE by Tegan Wren!

Today I’m so excited to share the beautiful cover for my friend Tegan Wren’s debut novel, INCONCEIVABLE! I had the privilege to read an advanced copy of this book, and I can honestly say that you don’t want to miss this one.

Before I share the cover, check out a little bit about the book!

A popular, young royal couple can’t produce an heir? INCONCEIVABLE!

When Ozarks native Hatty goes “whole hog” during karaoke, she catches the eye of Prince John. He isn’t what she expects the heir to a small European nation to be: he’s affable, witty, and isn’t put off by her tell-it-like-it-is demeanor. Their flirtation should be short lived, but a force stronger than fate—Hatty’s newspaper editor—assigns her to cover the royals. After spending time together, she and John soon begin dating, and Hatty finds herself making headlines instead of writing them.

But challenges loom that are even more complicated than figuring out how to mesh Hatty’s journalism career with life at Belvoir Palace. Hatty and John soon find themselves embroiled in an unusual sex scandal: they can’t produce an heir. Tabloids dub Hatty a “Barren-ess,” and the royals become irate. Hatty politely tells them to shove it. But beneath her confident exterior, she struggles to cope with a heartbreak that invades her most intimate moments with John. Pressured to choose between invasive medical procedures and abandoning John’s claim to the throne, the couple feels trapped until a trip to Ethiopia shows them happy endings sometimes arrive long after saying “I do.”

Advance praise for INCONCEIVABLE! (and yours truly is quoted…)

  • “As someone who has experienced infertility, I empathize with Hatty’s struggles. Wren beautifully illuminates the joy, grief, and adventure of creating a family against all odds in this heart warming and impactful story.”  America Olivo Campbell, actress: DeGrassi: The Next Generation, Chicago PD, Mission Impossible 5. Spokesperson for Baby Quest Foundation
  • “I found the insights into infertility invaluable and sensitive.” –Marnie Neve, Board Member, Baby Quest Foundation
  • “Not only was this a very well written and entertaining story (I flew through it), but I feel it’s also a very important story.” –Meredith Tate, author of Missing Pieces
  • “Tegan Wren’s debut novel is by turn funny, heartbreaking and ultimately inspiring.” JDC, author and journalist
  • “I loved reading a romantic story about royals that didn’t end at the wedding, showing us that there’s more to love than falling in it. There’s also staying in it, even when troubles come. For better and for worse.” –Samantha Bryant, author of Going Through the Change

And here’s a little about the author, Tegan Wren!

tegan wren

The best compliment Tegan Wren ever received came from her sixth grade teacher: “You always have a book in your hand!”

Guided by her love of the creative process, Tegan grew up acting in theatre productions and writing poetry, short stories, and plays. She turned her eye to writing about real life when she worked as a journalist, producing reports for various radio and television stations in medium and large markets in the Midwest and also filing some stories for a major national news network. Wren has both a Bachelor’s of Journalism and a Master of Arts in Communications. After completing her graduate degree, Tegan had the opportunity to teach journalism courses at a major state university. She absolutely loved training the next generation of journalists.

Tegan’s thankful that she’s had the opportunity to travel overseas, and uses those adventures to inform her writing. She also draws inspiration from her own struggles, joys, and life experiences. Tegan and her husband, Patrick, experienced infertility for five years before becoming parents through adoption.

Connect with Tegan online!

Tegan’s blog: http://www.teganwren.com
Tegan on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/teganwrenwrites
Tegan on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/teganwrenwrites
Tegan on Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/teganwren

Already intrigued? You can preorder INCONCEIVABLE! on Amazon, or add it or Goodreads!

Amazon US
: http://www.amazon.com/Inconceivable-Tegan-Wren-ebook/dp/B014U6D2SQ

 

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Inconceivable-Tegan-Wren-ebook/dp/B014U6D2SQ/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1441326472&sr=8-10&keywords=inconceivable

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24910975-inconceivable

Now, without further ado, here’s the gorgeous cover for INCONCEIVABLE!

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INCONCEIVABLE Cover

Don’t miss INCONCEIVABLE! coming this November to a bookstore or online retailer near you!

 

DELAYED PENALTY by Sophia Henry Blog Tour!!!

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Today I’m so excited to be hosting a stop on my friend Sophia Henry’s blog tour for her debut novel DELAYED PENALTY, which releases from Random House Flirt on September 1!! That’s right, you can read this awesome contemporary romance – starring a hot Russian hockey player – in just 3 DAYS!

Here’s a little about the book:
Delayed Penalty_Henry2

She closed her heart long ago. He just wants to open her mind. For fans of Toni Aleo and Sawyer Bennett, the debut of Sophia Henry’s red-hot Detroit Pilots series introduces a hockey team full of complicated men who fight for love.

Auden Berezin is used to losing people: her father, her mother, her first love. Now, just when she believes those childhood wounds are finally healing, she loses something else: the soccer scholarship that was her ticket to college. Scrambling to earn tuition money, she’s relieved to find a gig translating for a Russian minor-league hockey player—until she realizes that he’s the same dangerously sexy jerk who propositioned her at the bar the night before.

Equal parts muscle and scar tissue, Aleksandr Varenkov knows about trauma. Maybe that’s what draws him to Auden. He also lost his family too young, and he channeled the pain into his passions: first hockey, then vodka and women. But all that seems to just melt away the instant he kisses Auden and feels a jolt of desire as sudden and surprising as a hard check on the ice.

After everything she’s been through, Auden can’t bring herself to trust any man, let alone a hot-headed puck jockey with a bad reputation. Aleksandr just hopes she’ll give him a chance—long enough to prove he’s finally met the one who makes him want to change.

Want to find this book online? Of course you do!

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24683240-delayed-penalty?ac=1 Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/154977-pilots-hockey

Buy Links:  Amazon | B & N | iTunes | Kobo


About the Author:
Sophia Henry Author Pic

Sophia Henry, a proud Detroit native, fell in love with reading, writing, and hockey all before she became a teenager. She did not, however, fall in love with snow. So after graduating with an English degree from Central Michigan University, she moved to North Carolina, where she spends her time writing books featuring hockey-playing heroes, chasing her two high-energy sons, watching her beloved Detroit Red Wings, and rocking out at concerts with her husband.

 

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads

Enter Sophia’s Raffle here!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/MjM1YmFiZTdlYjI3MzI3YWI0NTU3Mjk0OWM3MTIyOjI1MQ==/?

Not enough to convince you that you NEED this book? Here’s an exclusive excerpt of DELAYED PENALTY!

When you’re twenty years old, there’s nothing music and a drink can’t cure.

At least that was my best friend’s response when I told her I’d been cut from Central State’s women’s soccer team that morning.

The overzealous stylings of two drunk chicks bellowing “It’s Raining Men” wafted through the air, and I’d just received my vodka club from the bartender, so why did it still feel like someone scratched my heart out with a serrated shovel?

Maybe “It’s Raining Men” wasn’t the right song?

Or maybe my friend’s remedy lacked one vital piece. Like, five minutes locked in a bathroom stall with the crazy-haired hottie approaching me. His head was buzzed short on the sides, leaving a thick patch of dark locks, gelled into a neat pompadour in front. Sort of like 1920s gangster, except less slicked, more height.

Every muscle in Crazy Hair’s body rippled under his clothing as he walked. He had to be over six feet tall, with a broad chest and massive arms stretching the seams of his long-sleeved black Henley. His skin was smooth and pale, a contrast to the thick dark eyebrows resting above his jump-in-and-drown-in-me blue eyes. From the scar on his left cheek to the smug smirk of his lips, he was exactly my type: dangerous, confident, and totally lickable.

I flipped my long blond hair behind my shoulder and glanced to my left, pretending Crazy Hair’s advance had no effect on me. In reality, I’d checked to make sure that he wouldn’t pass me up on the way to some beautiful bombshell I hadn’t noticed standing in the vicinity.

Like when you see someone wave, so you wave back. Then you realize they weren’t waving at you but the person behind you. So you try to play off your lame wave like you were batting away mosquitoes, which aren’t there because it’s December in Canada. Just trying to avoid an awkward situation like that.

Crazy Hair continued to close in, before stopping just inches away.

I’d opened my mouth to ream him out for stepping too far into my personal space, but the sweet scent of clove cigarettes flooded warmth through me like a sip of hot chocolate on a January morning in the Upper Peninsula.

“You work at post office?” he asked in a thick Slavic accent.

“Um, no.” I took a swig of my drink. Though I was unsure where he was going with that line, he was hot enough for me to stick around.

The left corner of his mouth curved into that sexy little smirk. “Because I see you check out my package.”

Carbonation stung my nose as I snorted and choked trying to hold in my laugh. Without time to turn my head, I sprayed vodka club and saliva across the front of Crazy Hair’s shirt.

Awesome.

“Weak!” I heard from somewhere behind me.

I turned to see who had yelled, still coughing as I noticed a group of guys and girls at the high-top table behind me. Shaggy blond hair bounced against one guy’s forehead as he snickered. The dude next to him held his fist in front of his mouth in a horrible attempt to hide his laughter. A brunette in a tight red sweater didn’t look amused. At all.

Crazy Hair threw the guys not one but both of his middle fingers.

“That girl’s a fucking smoke show. Why’d he use a shitty line like that?” the blond one said.

Smoke show? I bit down hard on my lip to fight back a smile. The last time I’d heard that phrase was in high school from my hockey-playing best friend, who’d informed me that “smoke show” was player lingo for “hot girl.”

Unsure of how to recover any semblance of cool after spitting my drink across Crazy Hair’s muscular chest, I spun around and shuffled back to the table my friends occupied in front of the karaoke stage.

It felt weird to drink in public, though we’d been to Canada on multiple occasions. As lifelong residents of Detroit, Michigan, we thought of Windsor—the Canadian city connected to Detroit by a bridge and a tunnel—as the next town over, rather than a foreign country. Nineteen was the legal drinking age in Windsor, so it made sense for underage Americans like us to cross the border for some legit cocktails.

My butt had barely brushed my seat when I heard my name, and my name alone, called over the speakers. I lifted my eyes to the outdated popcorn ceiling, as if the voice resonated from the heavens beyond, rather than the karaoke host.

“Why is he calling my name?” I asked Kristen.

“I picked you a song,” she responded, taking a swig of her beer.

“You picked us a song, you mean?” Emphasis on the us, because I’d never sung alone in my life—not counting the shower and car, of course.

“Nope. Just you.” Kristen placed both hands on my back and pushed me toward the stage. “You need to sing it out. Keeping shit bottled up never works.”

I had no problem singing it out if I was singing with other people, but not when it was just me. Hadn’t I been embarrassed enough today?

My short-lived “smoke show” happiness vanished, and the embarrassment of making a fool of myself in front of Crazy Hair returned. I tried to reverse, but Kristen’s trampoline-like hands propelled me back toward the stage.

Climbing onto the stage, I snatched the microphone out of the host’s hand. I almost felt bad about taking my anger out on him until I saw the lyrics to “Proud Mary” light up in white against the teleprompter’s blue screen. Fuck.

What the hell? I exhaled and lifted my eyes to Kristen.

“Girl power!” She saluted me with her glass.

Was “Proud Mary” a girl-power song? I thought it was about a boat.

“Do you have ‘Good Feeling’?” I asked the karaoke host. He was around my age, with big brown eyes matching his neat, trimmed beard and his shoulder-length hair.

“Flo Rida?” he asked, as disapproving wrinkles formed on his smooth forehead.

“Oh, no,” I said. “The Violent Femmes.”

A smile spread across his lips, and he nodded. “Give me a second.”

And finally, I had the privilege of receiving an advanced copy of this book! Here is my review! (Spoiler: 5 stars!)

Auden Berezin is a college student home on winter break, where she lives with her grandparents. Her Russian grandfather gets her a job as a translator for the hot Russian hockey player Aleksandr Varenkov. What starts out as a professional relationship gets a little more personal when Auden and Aleksandr start despising – then flirting with – each other. However, Auden doesn’t want to jeopardize her job, and Aleksandr has been looking into joining a different hockey team in Charlotte (they are currently in Detroit).

I loved the voice in this book – Auden felt so genuine and real to me. I also loved how Russian culture plays such a big part in this book, from the names and language, to the traditions. Auden and Aleksandr’s relationship was really sweet, and I loved the scene where he played a prank on her by saying inappropriate things in Russian she is supposed to translate for the press, hehe
I also really enjoyed the dynamic between Auden and her grandparents, and how their relationship develops over the course of the book.

Overall, this was a really fun read. I’m looking forward to more of Sophia Henry’s Pilots Hockey series! 

Be sure to check out DELAYED PENALTY, coming to an e-book retailer near you September 1st!

Release Day Blitz – CAN’T GO BACK by Marie Meyer!

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Today, I’m so excited to help celebrate launch day for my friend Marie Meyer’s second novel, CAN’T GO BACK! While her debut novel ACROSS THE DISTANCE is all about Jillian, now we get to see the story from Griffin’s point of view.

About CAN’T GO BACK

Meyer_Can't Go Back_E-Book

When Jillian moved next door, she refused to get out of the car. I climbed into the backseat beside her and promised to never leave her.Now, I’m driving her a thousand miles away, so she can leave me.

She has to go. What else would she do? Follow me and my band from one cheap bar to another, get hit on by sleazy promoters? Because Jillian would definitely get hit on. She’s the most gorgeous, talented girl I’ve ever known, and she doesn’t even see it.

This scholarship gives Jillian the chance to study at the best design school in the country. It’s what she’s always wanted. I won’t stand in the way of her dreams, no matter how much it hurts to watch her go. I just wish she wasn’t leaving without knowing the truth.


Find it here!

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1JTXxLc
B&N: http://bit.ly/1MvW4jw
iBooks: http://apple.co/1Dcbt6C
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1h7UKr1
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1U9uRFz

Exclusive Excerpt!

The headlights flashed across the Pennsylvania Welcomes You sign just as my playlist ended. Reaching for my phone, I scanned through others. I needed music to fill the growing hollowness inside me. Moving my best friend, Jillian, to design school was one of the hardest damn things I’d ever had to do.

With the cruise set at eighty, I watched the odometer tack on mile after mile. Jillian snored away in the passenger seat, her head against the window, legs stretched out, bare feet resting on the dashboard. Every now and then, I’d sneak a quick peek at her and smile, years of friendship played on a highlight reel in my head.

Twelve years ago, after Jillian’s parents died during the 9/11 attacks, she came to live with her grandparents—my neighbors. The day she arrived, she refused to get out of the car. I climbed into the backseat with her, offered her my hand, and promised to always make her smile. I’d never leave her. Now, I was driving her a thousand miles away, so she could leave me.

When she’d been offered a scholarship to an elite design school in Rhode Island, I was thrilled for her. Jillian always dreamed of being a designer. After everything she’d been through, losing her parents at such a young age, and struggling to overcome her self-harm tendencies as she got older, it was time something positive came her way. But, it wasn’t until now that I realized just how many miles stood between Rhode Island and Illinois…between Jillian and me.

“Uhhh,” I groaned, pressing my feet into the floorboard, stretching the best I could. I needed some tunes to liven up the drive. The lonely, dark road was fucking with my state of mind. With the pad of my thumb, I swiped through countless artists on my iPhone, finally deciding on the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I needed something heavy, loud, and bass-driven to pull me out of my current funk. Letting my head fall against the headrest, I fingered Flea’s bass riffs along the steering wheel.

Jillian sighed and moved her head from the window, placing it back onto the seat. Wisps of blonde and orange hair covered her face and her neck slumped at an odd angle. No way was she comfortable. Hell, I wasn’t comfortable. It was almost eleven. I was tired, hungry, and I really needed a restroom.

Holding the wheel steady with my left hand, I used my right to rock her gently. “Jillian. Jillian, wake up.”

She blinked a few times and sat up, still half asleep. Her hair was a tangled mess on top her head, like a pile of vanilla ice cream swirled with orange sherbet. I ran my palm over her head, smoothing some of the pieces back where they belonged.

Jillian looked out her window, then back to me. “I’m sorry,” she croaked, her voice thick with sleep. “I didn’t mean to fall asleep on you. What time is it?” She lowered her pale legs from the dash and raised her arms high, stretching.

She wore a faded t-shirt featuring my band, Mine Shaft, and like any red-blooded male, it didn’t escape my attention when the t-shirt rode up, exposing the small patch of skin above the waist of her yoga pants. She wasn’t the scrawny little girl who used to play in the dirt with me.

I removed my hand from her head with a sigh and adjusted the volume knob, reducing Anthony Kiedis to background noise. “It’s just after eleven.”

“Ugh, I hope there’s a good yoga class on campus.” She yawned, arching her back. “Where are we?”

I took the next exit, getting off the turnpike, following the blue signs to the nearest hotel. “We’re in Pennsylvania. Do you want to keep driving or call it a night?” The choice was up to her; if she wanted me to keep going, I would. But, I hoped she didn’t. I was beat.

“Shit, I’m sorry. I should have taken over the wheel a hundred miles ago.”

“It’s alright.” I flashed her a smile. “You looked too peaceful to wake up.” More than peaceful, she looked gorgeous. Many times throughout the night, I’d fought the urge to run my fingers through her hair, or touch her porcelain cheeks.

But then I reminded myself, friends didn’t get to touch.

Three months ago, I’d had my chance. Back in May, the easygoing friendship Jillian and I had as children was obliterated the second she kissed me. In that moment, I wanted to do a whole hell of a lot more than kiss her.

A light wind whistled through the doorway, causing Jillian’s long hair to float on the breeze. Without a second thought, her hand came up and she swiftly tucked the flying strands behind her ears. I would have liked to do that for her…but it was too late. I kept my hands in my lap.

Stretching out my legs, I leaned my back against the wall of the little old cabin. Jillian did the same, resting her head against the dusty log walls. This cabin had been our place in high school. Off the beaten path, in a forested section of the state college campus, the miniature cabin became the home to many late night talks, song writing sessions, and countless other memories. Where most childhood friends have treehouses, Jillian and I had a tiny cabin in the woods.

After having dinner with my parents and sister, Jillian insisted on coming out here. Since she was leaving for college in three months, it seemed fitting that we needed to say good-bye to “our cabin”.

She’d been quiet since we’d gotten here. “What’s on your mind, Jillibean?” I nudged her with my shoulder.

“Hmm,” she hummed. “Nothing. Just enjoying the night. It’s always so peaceful out here.”

“Yeah, it is.” I closed my eyes and listened to the crickets chirp. In the distance an owl hooted.

“Griffin?”

“Yeah?” I answered, but kept my eyes closed. I liked the way her voice mingled with the sound of the wind.

“Griff,”

With a tap on my shoulder, I rolled my head in her direction, and opened my eyes. Our faces were less than an inch apart. My pulse went from zero to erratic in the matter of second and the cabin grew stuffy. Jillian’s midnight eyes searched my face.

My eyes fell to her mouth. Like so many times before, I wanted to kiss her. What would her lips feel like on mine? What did she taste like?

I moved my head closer…the tips of our noses touched and Jillian sucked in a tiny breath.

What noises could I elicit from her? How loud could I make her scream my name?

And while my mind conjured a dozen and a half erotic scenarios, Jillian closed her mouth on mine.

I shivered at the memory and readjusted in the seat, trying to accommodate the bulge in my pants.

It had taken every ounce of energy I possessed not to push my hands through her long, rainbow-dyed hair, press her against the cabin wall, and show her exactly why she couldn’t leave me at the end of the summer.

Her lips were hot and full, and I wanted to devour her. My hands itched to explore the curves of her tiny frame. With just one kiss, she’d released a flood of emotions I’d never felt for another woman.

And it scared the shit out of me.

Jillian was my friend…my best friend. If we ventured down that path, I feared she’d give up on her dream to stay with me. I didn’t want her to blow off design school and stay in Illinois and end up at the junior college. She was too talented for community college. I wanted more for her. I’d spent so many years trying to protect her from every pain and sadness life threw her way, I worried she’d grown too reliant on me. She needed this opportunity to spread her wings and find herself.

With one infinitesimal nudge—all I could muster—I pushed her way. When our lips parted, I could still taste her, and like a starving man, I wanted more. Energy crackled between us. Jillian stared at me, desire and confusion pooling in her dark chocolate eyes. Her expression begged me for an explanation. Then I told her the biggest lie of all: I only wanted to be friends.

And now she was leaving…without knowing the truth.

My Review

I was lucky to receive an advance copy of CAN’T GO BACK in exchange for an honest review.  I should state up front that Marie Meyer is my friend; I’ll also clarify that being my friend does not guarantee a positive review. If I read a friend’s book that I do not like, I simply opt out of leaving a review. So I’m thrilled to say that I loved CAN’T GO BACK! Here are my thoughts:

If you’ve read Marie Meyer’s debut, ACROSS THE DISTANCE, you already know Jillian’s side of the story. CAN’T GO BACK shows how Jillian and Griffin got together – from Griff’s point of view.

I’m usually hesitant to read sequels that are retellings of the original story from a different POV, because I find them repetitive – rehashing the exact same events, but from a different voice. However, CAN’T GO BACK shows us a completely different story from ACROSS THE DISTANCE. I think the key here is that Jillian and Griffin are dealing with a long distance *friendship* (ahem), so they aren’t together for most of it – we don’t just see the same scenes from a different POV. CAN’T GO BACK is a great companion to ACROSS THE DISTANCE!

In CAN’T GO BACK, Griffin has a lot on his plate. His band is taking off, he’s in a half-hearted relationship with his gf Erin, and his relationship with his parents has been rocky ever since he had to quit school to focus on music. Not to mention he’s missing his best friend Jillian, and dealing with regret over not telling her how he felt when she kissed him last year.

I loved Griff’s voice, and the fact that he read totally different from Jillian in ATD shows Meyer’s skills as a writer. I loved Griff’s relationship with his bandmates, and enjoyed watching their interactions (Can Thor and Harper get a book please?). I also loved Nee, the badass lady drummer who keeps the boys in line. During ATD, it pissed me off that Griff was with Erin, and when he wasn’t calling Jillian – so I liked seeing these events from his POV, and what he was thinking.

This dualogy is a sweet romance that I highly recommend. While I read ATD before CGB, I do think they can be read in either order, or as stand alones. I’m looking forward to more books by Marie Meyer!

 

 

About MARIE MEYER

mariemeyer

Marie Meyer was a Language Arts teacher for fourteen years. She spends her days in the classroom and her nights writing heartfelt new adult romances that will leave readers clamoring for more. She is a member of RWA and the St. Louis Writers Guild. Marie’s short fiction won honorable mentions from the St. Louis Writers Guild in 2010 and 2011. She is a proud mommy and enjoys helping her oldest daughter train for the Special Olympics, making up silly stories with her youngest daughter, and bingeing on weeks of DVR’d television shows with her husband.Connect with Marie online!

https://www.facebook.com/mariemeyerbooks 

Be sure to pick up copies of ACROSS THE DISTANCE and CAN’T GO BACK, both available now!

Blog Tour – THE REARRANGED LIFE by Annika Sharma!

TRL

Today I'm SO excited to be part of a blog tour for one of my close writer buddies! My friend Annika Sharma's debut new adult romance, THE REARRANGED LIFE, is OUT!!! That's right, you can buy it NOW! I LOVED this book - trust me, you won't be able to put it down! And make sure you enter Annika's raffle at the bottom to win a Starbucks giftcard!

Here's a little about the book!

annikacover

Nithya, a vivacious, intelligent and driven college senior has always known what she has wanted: a successful career in medicine and the love of her family. She’s even come to terms with the idea of an arranged marriage, a tradition her conservative Indian family has held up for thousands of years.

When a night of partying puts her on a collision course with danger, Nithya’s entire life changes.

Enter James St. Clair, the smart, challenging and heartbreakingly handsome American. As Nithya and James fall in love, she questions the future she and her parents have always planned.

Now, Nithya has a choice to make: become a doctor and a good Indian bride, or step away from her family and centuries of culture to forge her own path. The decision she comes to takes her on a journey that transforms how she sees her future, her relationships with loved ones, and how she learns to put herself back together when even her best-laid plans fall apart.

Order it now! Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

About the Author

Annikapic

Annika Sharma was born in India and moved to the United States (Pennsylvania!) when she was a baby. Annika was a daydreamer from day one, always coming up with stories and games of pretend that seemed real. She was a serious journal-writer from fifth grade to college and wrote dramatic scenes for stories often, inspired by soap operas she watched in summers off from school.

Eventually, when the time for college came around, Annika’s parents encouraged her to pursue journalism. Convinced she couldn’t make a living from writing, Annika disagreed. After five years, two degrees, two minors, working with children, being a dancer teacher, and creating a two-and-a-half page resume in college that had interests so all-over-the-place that even she couldn’t make sense of it, Annika finally decided her parents were right. Writing was where her heart was, all along.

In the month before graduate school, the idea Annika had in mind for years finally poured out in the form of the novel, The Rearranged Life. Annika began editing in earnest after she finished her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education, landing Stacey Donaghy of Donaghy Literary Group as an agent. Three months later, she had a book deal with Curiosity Quills.

In her spare time, Annika loves spending time with her family and friends, often indulging in the three S’s: Starbucks, shopping and superhero movies. As a chocolate lover and general all-around vegetarian foodie, Annika also adores cooking.

Find Annika online! Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

*Exclusive Excerpt*

A smirk crosses my face as I reread this morning’s texts. After countless drafts, I’d fired off the first volley to James, and his response had made me so glad I’d taken initiative. For someone who tries to take every opportunity, I sure did freak out over nothing.         

Thanks again for last night. I had an amazing time, I’d sent.    
     
-
So did I. Next time, we need to find a place that’s open all night 🙂

Who says there’s going to be a next time? 
      

-Please. There will be.
         

Getting cocky, I see. 
      

-Not cocky. Just confident, he corrects me, and using deductive reasoning.
    
     
Always the lawyer, counselor. You’re right on the money. 
      

-I do my best, doc. I’m glad you want to see me again. 
   
   
I was hoping to, tonight. Do you have plans? 
   
   
-I do, now, with you.

        

“You look pretty,” he says as he walks up to me.
My jeans and tunic top suddenly feel like a ball gown. He kisses my forehead, and I can still feel the soft pressure there as we pay for our drinks.    
     
Time freezes as the sky turns from periwinkle to deep blue to black. We walk toward the stadium with no destination in particular, talking about everything from why fall is my favorite season to the fact that he is a Penn State football fan, and used to go to all the games with the colors painted on his chest.         

“My mom told me she wouldn’t pay for my funeral when I died of pneumonia,” he tells me with a chuckle. Sports are a difference in our interests. He thinks I’m funny for not being a fan of the big football program here, and I tell him he’s beginning to sound like Sophia, who moped for three days when she was unable to purchase student season tickets because they sold out in minutes.

“Our senior year is going to suck!” Sophia had cried, clicking the refresh button on her browser like it would change the outcome.         

“Soph, I’m pretty sure the success of our senior year isn’t dependent on whether we’re cheering on a football team,” I told her patiently, but she whined about it anyway. Before James and I know it, we’ve come full circle.         

He proposes going to the arboretum so we cross the street toward the law school and soccer fields. Walking along Park Avenue is like balancing two worlds–cement dorms and all the classroom buildings on the left, and farms and greenery on the right. The arboretum glows in the distance, its neat pathways and plants lit up by the soccer field lights a block away.         

James catches me watching him and gives me a shy, faint smile. His eyes travel down my arms, and his right hand slowly makes a move toward my left. I hold my breath, and the clouds of moisture I’ve been exhaling into the atmosphere dissipate as I wait for him. Every millimeter closing the gap between us is in slow motion, and the tingle in my nerves intensifies, reaching a peak where I want to scream just to break the anticipation. His fingers skim the inside of my forearm and leave a trail of sensation behind them. As his hand travels slowly down my wrist, mine responds. My fingers find his and twine with them. It takes all of two seconds, but feels like much longer.         

The stars, twinkling in all their glory, brighten and align themselves in perfect concentric circles as if the universe is creating the perfect setting for an epic romance. Everything around us, from the breeze to the shifting grass, has a softly whispered undertone: This is the moment you’ve been waiting for. Let it happen. The charge between our hands ignites and feels like it’s bursting out from within me. Or maybe that’s just my heartbeat. I have never felt such contentment or wonder. This is where I am meant to be.

*Author Playlist*

Annika says: Okay, to be fair, I have a super eclectic taste in music. Some of the songs I associate with this book are because of lyrics, others because of the overall melody. Surprising fact: the story takes place in 2008-2009. All the songs on the list are from around that time. Hopefully, as you go through The Rearranged Life, you’ll love these songs with the scenes as much as I do!

  1. The Adventure—Angels and Airwaves: the entire crazy first day Nithya meets James. The lyrics, “And here we go, life’s waiting to begin,” are a great way to start the story.
  2. Don’t Stop the Music—Rihanna: The party where Nithya and James run into a not-so-great situation.
  3. Pehli Nazar Mein—from the Bollywood movie, Race: when Nithya goes to the wedding and meets Nishanth.
  4. Desi Girl—from the Bollywood movie, Dostana: the wedding reception where Nithya and Nishanth hit it off and she feels the pull of her Indian culture. The lyrics talk about how there’s nothing like a desi (South Asian) girl…and considering how Indian and wonderful Nithya feels that night, it applies.
  5. Dark Blue—Jack’s Mannequin: Dates with James—particularly laser tagging! Such an upbeat and fun song.
  6. Love Story—Taylor Swift: Nithya’s first kiss. The song talks about Romeo and Juliet and parental restrictions…Nithya and James’ entire story!
  7. Broken—Lifehouse: James finds out. The lyrics to this song are beautiful!
  8. Bleeding Love—Leona Lewis: When Nithya has to make a choice between Nishanth and James.
  9. All We Are—OneRepublic: “I’m all in.” This is actually James and Nithya’s official song!
  10. Straightjacket Feeling—The All-American Rejects: Medical school decisions.
  11. Hear You Me—Jimmy Eat World: the conflict between Nithya and her parents.
  12. Down—Jay Sean: the club scene. Another mix of East and West, since Jay Sean is an British-Indian artist who has a history of beautiful Indian songs and hip-hop…a mix of both the cultures.
  13. American Living—Rascal Flatts: Visiting James’ family.
  14. Marching On—OneRepublic: Nithya’s conversation with her dad.
  15. I’m Yours—Jason Mraz: Closing of the book

*My Review*

First of all, a disclaimer: Annika Sharma is my friend. Anyone who follows either Annika or me on twitter probably sees us being silly and chatting a lot.
However, another disclaimer: an author being my friend does not mean I automatically provide a glowing review. I always strive to review books honestly, in all fairness to 1. the author, 2. the readers checking my reviews, and 3. my credibility. If I really dislike a book, and feel an honest review would hurt the author, I just don't write anything.

But when I LOVE a book, it makes writing an honest review SO easy! And let me just say, I loved Annika Sharma's debut, THE REARRANGED LIFE.

This was such a wonderful and thought-provoking book! I couldn't put it down. I'll admit, I didn't know much about Indian culture and modern day arranged marriage before reading THE REARRANGED LIFE. I'm so used to reading and seeing arranged marriage books where the woman is forced into marriage with a stranger against her will, and she meets him at the altar for the first time.

This is nothing like that.

Nithya has a loving, caring family who are a huge part of her life. For the most part, Nithya's parents are tremendously supportive. They don't want to choose her spouse for her (although they would be delighted if Nithya chose Nishanth, son of a close family friend, and aren't opposed to nudging her in that direction); however, they are very specific and set in their wishes that Nithya marries an Indian boy. Nithya is on board with this (after all, she wants to marry someone who will understand her culture, her family's traditions and inside jokes) until she meets her classmate James. James is handsome, smart...and American. Dating an American is seen as taboo in her culture. She struggles with her feelings for James, because it forces her to question her priorities, her loyalty to her family, and her commitment to her culture. She feels strong connections to both her family / Indian culture and roots, and to American culture.

Yes, this book has a romance, but to me it was ultimately a book about self-discovery and trying to find your place between two cultures. Nithya struggles with her choice to enter the medical field (a choice that was highly influenced by the expectations of her family and culture) and worries about stepping out of her comfort zone when those plans she's had her whole life don't work out. There is a really great scene where Nishanth's family comes to Nithya's house, and everyone is so obviously pushing the two of them together that Nithya just feels so uncomfortable. I really felt her discomfort with the whole situation! Anyone who has struggled with growing up and coming into your own identity will be able to relate to Nithya's struggles.

I learned a lot about Indian culture and traditions from this book, and to be honest I saw both Nithya and her parents' points of view on the issue. I loved the scene of Nithya's cousin's Indian wedding.

I loved that this book was not black and white. There was no "right" answer and "wrong" answer. Nithya has a positive relationship with both Nishanth and James, and struggles with the fact that either man would be a good match for her in different ways. I loved James, and I also loved Nishanth, and both boys had moments that made me swoon (and made Nithya's choice that much harder). Nithya's choice ends up becoming a choice between what is more comfortable and compatible on paper, and what her heart really wants.

James' parents also worry about his relationship with Nithya, as they don't want their son left broken hearted if Nithya were to choose her culture over him. It all felt very realistic and heart wrenching. It's a modern story about choices and sacrifices, and family and culture and loyalty. It's also beautifully written.

I loved this book, and would recommend it to anyone. Five stars!

Be sure to check out THE REARRANGED LIFE!!! You won't want to miss it!

GAME OF LOVE Blog Tour!!

GOL Banner
I'm so excited to be a host on Ara Grigorian's blog tour for his AMAZING debut, GAME OF LOVE!!! It's officially OUT, and trust me, you don't want to miss it! If you want to know how much I loved this book, check out my review. Read on for an *exclusive* excerpt, as well as an awesome raffle!!

About GAME OF LOVE

GOL Cover

Game of Love is set in the high-stakes world of professional tennis where fortune and fame can be decided by a single point.

Gemma Lennon has spent nearly all of her 21 years focused on one thing: Winning a Grand Slam. After a disastrous and very public scandal and subsequent loss at the Australian Open, Gemma is now laser-focused on winning the French Open. Nothing and no one will derail her shot at winning - until a heated chance encounter with brilliant and sexy Andre Reyes threatens to throw her off her game.

Breaking her own rules, Gemma begins a whirlwind romance with Andrew who shows her that love and a life off the court might be the real prize. With him, she learns to trust and love... at precisely the worst time in her career. The pressure from her home country, fans, and even the Prime Minister to be the first British woman to win in nearly four decades weighs heavily.

As Wimbledon begins, fabricated and sensationalized news about hem spreads, fueling the paparazzi, and hurting her performance. Now, she must reconsider everything, because in the high-stakes game of love, anyone can be the enemy within... even lovers and even friends.

In the Game of Love, winner takes all.

About the Author

Ara Grigorian

 

Armenian by heritage, born in Iran, lived in Barcelona, and escaped New York until he found his home in Los Angeles, Ara’s first eleven years were both busy and confusing. The fruit salad of languages would slow down his genetically encoded need to tell stories. Until then, an alter ego would be required…

He received an engineering degree from California State University Northridge and earned his MBA from the University of Southern California. Today, he is a technology executive in the entertainment industry. True to the Hollywood life, Ara wrote for a children’s television pilot that could have made him rich (but didn’t) and nearly sold a video game to a major publisher (who closed shop days later).

But something was amiss until his wife read him the riot act. “Will you stop talking about wanting to be a writer and just do it?” So with her support (and mandate), and their two boys serving as his muse, he wrote stories.

Fascinated by the human species, Ara writes about choices, relationships, and second chances. Always a sucker for a hopeful ending, he writes contemporary romance stories. He is an alumnus of both the Santa Barbara Writers Conference and Southern California Writers’ Conference (where he also serves as a workshop leader). Ara is an active member of the Romance Writers of America and its Los Angeles chapter.

Ara is represented by Stacey Donaghy.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Blog | Goodreads

**EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT!**

CHAPTER ONE (Excerpt)

“We are made strong by the difficulties we face, not by those we evade.”

~Author Unknown

 

Andre scanned the restaurant for the waitress. No luck. He could smell the coffee. Now he needed to taste it, to quench the headache that, like a burgeoning monster, continued to transform from a nuisance to a debilitating migraine.

The hostess escorted a tall man in Andre’s direction. He must have been near seven feet, long arms and even longer legs. The man’s leathery skin made it hard for Andre to guess his age. He walked with an off- center gate. An injury? Or because of the oversized bag he carried slung over his shoulder? The man was seated at a nearby table.

Stop staring. This habit would one day land him in trouble. Unfortunately, it was his nature to observe, study, and wonder. It was this curiosity about everything that had piqued the attention of his kindergarten teacher and had started a chain reaction of tests and evaluations, eventually tethering him to a career path before he’d even hit puberty.

He rubbed his temple. Where was that coffee?

Andre glanced up, hoping to find the waitress. Instead, he heard a woman shout across the restaurant, “Bedric, move the bag!”

The tall man perked up. Bedric, I assume, Andre thought. When Bedric glanced down, so did Andre. The oversized bag lay blocking the path between tables, and a waitress was heading their way fast, tray held high, obstructing her view.

Bedric reached for the bag, but before Andre could utter a sound, or even move, the waitress tripped, and the stainless carafes of coffee flew off the tray like stray bullets―nailing Andre dead-on.

One container exploded against his chest, the other slammed into his shoulder. A third skidded off the table then sloshed the piping hot contents onto his lap.

After the instantaneous paralysis, boiling pain howled along his skin. Andre leapt from his seat. He wanted to scream, curse, yank off the steaming suit. His heartbeat danced erratically while his jaw pulsed, and twitching neck muscles hardened to stone.

The next few moments were surreal, full of muffled screams...

Mon Dieu!

... Commotion...

What happened? Is he okay?

... And apologies.

“I am so sorry, Monsieur.” He turned. The waitress. Tears clung to her lashes, her cheeks flushed. Worry darkened her eyes.

He blinked. “Not... your fault,” he managed.

“What have you done?” the maître d’ yelled. His puffy red cheeks bobbed as he marched toward them. Spittle gathered at the corners of his mouth. “Stupid girl, leave, now! Sortez d’ici!

“It’s not her fault,” Andre said as he regained his breath. “She tripped―”

“Monsieur Reyes,” the man said, “this is unacceptable. This is an embarrassment―”

“Stop.” Andre took a deep breath and straightened, towering over the Frenchman by a good foot. “If you cause problems for her, I’ll cause problems for this hotel. It was not her fault. Do we understand each other?”

Andre’s gaze shifted slightly behind the maître d’. Next to Bedric, a tall, striking young woman stood motionless with her mouth agape. Was this the Voice who had yelled for Bedric earlier?

The maître d’s brows furrowed, then loosened. “I understand,” he said, then leaned in for privacy. “Doctor Reyes, the hotel medic will be sent to your room at once. And of course, we will take care of your suit. Please accept our sincerest apologies.”

Andre put out his hand. “Apology accepted.” The maître d’ shook it. An old-world contract.

**Raffle!**

This raffle actually comes with an interesting backstory by Ara Grigorian!! So before you enter, read about the prizes!

InkSlinger Blogger Final

Review Tour – THE REARRANGED LIFE by Annika Sharma!

Review tourAS

Today I'm SO excited to be part of Curiosity Quills' review tour for one of my close writer buddies! My friend Annika Sharma's debut new adult romance, THE REARRANGED LIFE, officially comes out in FIVE days!!! That's right, you can buy it on May 15! I LOVED this book - trust me, you won't be able to put it down! Read through the bottom for a chance to win a $25 Starbucks giftcard too!

Here's a little about the book!

annikacover

Nithya, a vivacious, intelligent and driven college senior has always known what she has wanted: a successful career in medicine and the love of her family. She’s even come to terms with the idea of an arranged marriage, a tradition her conservative Indian family has held up for thousands of years.

When a night of partying puts her on a collision course with danger, Nithya’s entire life changes.

Enter James St. Clair, the smart, challenging and heartbreakingly handsome American. As Nithya and James fall in love, she questions the future she and her parents have always planned.

Now, Nithya has a choice to make: become a doctor and a good Indian bride, or step away from her family and centuries of culture to forge her own path. The decision she comes to takes her on a journey that transforms how she sees her future, her relationships with loved ones, and how she learns to put herself back together when even her best-laid plans fall apart.

Order it now! Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

About the Author

Annikapic

 

Annika Sharma was born in India and moved to the United States (Pennsylvania!) when she was a baby. Annika was a daydreamer from day one, always coming up with stories and games of pretend that seemed real. She was a serious journal-writer from fifth grade to college and wrote dramatic scenes for stories often, inspired by soap operas she watched in summers off from school.

Eventually, when the time for college came around, Annika’s parents encouraged her to pursue journalism. Convinced she couldn’t make a living from writing, Annika disagreed. After five years, two degrees, two minors, working with children, being a dancer teacher, and creating a two-and-a-half page resume in college that had interests so all-over-the-place that even she couldn’t make sense of it, Annika finally decided her parents were right. Writing was where her heart was, all along.

In the month before graduate school, the idea Annika had in mind for years finally poured out in the form of the novel, The Rearranged Life. Annika began editing in earnest after she finished her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education, landing Stacey Donaghy of Donaghy Literary Group as an agent. Three months later, she had a book deal with Curiosity Quills.

In her spare time, Annika loves spending time with her family and friends, often indulging in the three S’s: Starbucks, shopping and superhero movies. As a chocolate lover and general all-around vegetarian foodie, Annika also adores cooking.

Find Annika online! Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


*My Review*

First of all, a disclaimer: Annika Sharma is my friend. Anyone who follows either Annika or me on twitter probably sees us being silly and chatting a lot.
However, another disclaimer: an author being my friend does not mean I automatically provide a glowing review. I always strive to review books honestly, in all fairness to 1. the author, 2. the readers checking my reviews, and 3. my credibility. If I really dislike a book, and feel an honest review would hurt the author, I just don't write anything.

But when I LOVE a book, it makes writing an honest review SO easy! And let me just say, I loved Annika Sharma's debut, THE REARRANGED LIFE.

This was such a wonderful and thought-provoking book! I couldn't put it down. I'll admit, I didn't know much about Indian culture and modern day arranged marriage before reading THE REARRANGED LIFE. I'm so used to reading and seeing arranged marriage books where the woman is forced into marriage with a stranger against her will, and she meets him at the altar for the first time.

This is nothing like that.

Nithya has a loving, caring family who are a huge part of her life. For the most part, Nithya's parents are tremendously supportive. They don't want to choose her spouse for her (although they would be delighted if Nithya chose Nishanth, son of a close family friend, and aren't opposed to nudging her in that direction); however, they are very specific and set in their wishes that Nithya marries an Indian boy. Nithya is on board with this (after all, she wants to marry someone who will understand her culture, her family's traditions and inside jokes) until she meets her classmate James. James is handsome, smart...and American. Dating an American is seen as taboo in her culture. She struggles with her feelings for James, because it forces her to question her priorities, her loyalty to her family, and her commitment to her culture. She feels strong connections to both her family / Indian culture and roots, and to American culture.

Yes, this book has a romance, but to me it was ultimately a book about self-discovery and trying to find your place between two cultures. Nithya struggles with her choice to enter the medical field (a choice that was highly influenced by the expectations of her family and culture) and worries about stepping out of her comfort zone when those plans she's had her whole life don't work out. There is a really great scene where Nishanth's family comes to Nithya's house, and everyone is so obviously pushing the two of them together that Nithya just feels so uncomfortable. I really felt her discomfort with the whole situation! Anyone who has struggled with growing up and coming into your own identity will be able to relate to Nithya's struggles.

I learned a lot about Indian culture and traditions from this book, and to be honest I saw both Nithya and her parents' points of view on the issue. I loved the scene of Nithya's cousin's Indian wedding.

I loved that this book was not black and white. There was no "right" answer and "wrong" answer. Nithya has a positive relationship with both Nishanth and James, and struggles with the fact that either man would be a good match for her in different ways. I loved James, and I also loved Nishanth, and both boys had moments that made me swoon (and made Nithya's choice that much harder). Nithya's choice ends up becoming a choice between what is more comfortable and compatible on paper, and what her heart really wants.

James' parents also worry about his relationship with Nithya, as they don't want their son left broken hearted if Nithya were to choose her culture over him. It all felt very realistic and heart wrenching. It's a modern story about choices and sacrifices, and family and culture and loyalty. It's also beautifully written.

I loved this book, and would recommend it to anyone. Five stars!

Be sure to check out THE REARRANGED LIFE on May 15!!! You won't want to miss it!

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The ReArranged Life giveaway

Release Week Excerpt! ACROSS THE DISTANCE by Marie Meyer!

Across-the-Distance-Release-Week-Blitz

I'm SO excited to be a part of the release week promo blitz for my friend Marie Meyer, whose amazing NA romance ACROSS THE DISTANCE comes out MAY 5!!! I was lucky enough to read this book early on, and I can't recommend it enough! It's such a sweet and heartfelt story. You won't want to miss this!

About ACROSS THE DISTANCE

acrossthedistance

There's a drawer I never open. It holds a picture I never look at. It reminds me of a day I hate to remember, but I'll never forget.

I'd give anything to be like the other girls on campus. Going to parties, flirting with boys, planning for a future. But that's not me. And hasn't been since the day my parents died. The only thing that got me through was Griffin. Even though I didn't have my family, I always had him. Only, now I'm not so sure I do.

It's not just the eleven hundred miles separating us now that I'm at college. Or his band finally taking off, and all the gigs and girls suddenly demanding his time. It's as if everything is different-the way we talk, the way we text . . . the way he looks at me and the way those looks make me feel. 

Griffin has been the only good thing in my life since that horrific day. But I can feel our friendship slipping away-and I'm terrified of what will be left in its place . . .

Order it now!

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Exclusive Excerpt!

Griffin took the last box from my hand and shoved it into the backseat of my car. “I’ll get my bike on the trailer, and then we’ll be ready to hit the road.” He wiped his upper arm across his sweaty forehead.

I looked into his dark eyes and smiled. “Thanks,” I sighed.

“For what?” With a toss of his head, he pushed a few errant curls out of his eyes.

“For putting up with me.” He could have easily gotten a plane ticket home, but he knew how much I hated airplanes. The thought of him getting on a plane made me physically ill.

He swung his arm around my neck, squeezing me with his strong arm. “Put up with you? I’d like to see you try and get rid of me.”

With my head trapped in his viselike grip and my face pressed to his chest, I couldn’t escape his intoxicating scent. Even though it was too hot for his beloved leather riding jacket, the faint smell still clung to him. That, coupled with the heady musk clinging to his sweat-dampened t-shirt, made my head swim with thoughts that were well beyond the realm of friendship.

I needed to refocus my thoughts, and I couldn’t do that pressed up against him. I shivered and pulled away. Taking a step back, I cleared my throat. “I’m going to tell Jennifer we’re leaving.” I thumbed toward the house.

He scrutinized my face for a minute, then smirked. “Enjoy that. You’ve earned it.”

I turned on my heel and let out a deep breath, trying desperately to rein in my inappropriate fantasies.

Months ago, our easygoing friendship had morphed into an awkward dance of fleeting glances, lingering touches, and an unspeakable amount of tension. I thought he’d felt it, too. The night of my high school graduation party, I went out on a limb and kissed him. When our lips met, every nerve ending in my body fired at once. Embers of lust burned deep inside me. I’d never felt anything like that before. The thought of being intimate with someone made me want to run to the nearest convent. But not with Griffin. When our bodies connected, I felt whole and alive in a way I’d never felt before.

Then he’d done what I’d least expected…he’d pushed me away. I’d searched his face for an explanation. He, more than anyone, knew what it had taken for me to put myself out there, and he’d pushed me away. Touting some bullshit about our timing being all wrong, that a long distance relationship wouldn’t work, he insisted that I was nothing more than his friend. His rejection hurt worse than any of the cuts I’d inflicted upon myself in past years. But, he was my best friend; I needed him far too much to have our relationship end badly and lose him forever. Regardless of his excuses, in retrospect, I was glad I wouldn’t fall victim to his usual love-’em-and-leave-’em pattern. Griffin was never with one girl for more than a couple of months; then he was on to the next. That would have killed me. So I picked up what was left of my pride, buried my feelings, and vowed not to blur the lines of our friendship again.  

About Marie Meyer

mariemeyer

Marie Meyer was a Language Arts teacher for fourteen years. She spends her days in the classroom and her nights writing heartfelt new adult romances that will leave readers clamoring for more. She is a member of RWA and the St. Louis Writers Guild. Marie's short fiction won honorable mentions from the St. Louis Writers Guild in 2010 and 2011. She is a proud mommy and enjoys helping her oldest daughter train for the Special Olympics, making up silly stories with her youngest daughter, and bingeing on weeks of DVR'd television shows with her husband.

Find Marie Meyer online!

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Be sure to check out ACROSS THE DISTANCE on May 5!

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GAME OF LOVE Blog Tour! My Review

Game of Love Review Tour

I’m so excited to be a blog host for my friend Ara Grigorian’s debut novel, GAME OF LOVE! I was lucky enough to read an advance copy of this book, and can honestly say that you don’t want to miss this awesome NA contemporary sports romance!
GAME OF LOVE officially comes out on May 4 through Curiosity Quills Press.

GOL Cover

Summary

Gemma Lennon has spent nearly all of her 21 years focused on one thing: Winning a Grand Slam.

After a disastrous and very public scandal and subsequent loss at the Australian Open, Gemma is now laser-focused on winning the French Open. Nothing and no one will derail her shot at winning – until a heated chance encounter with brilliant and sexy Andre Reyes threatens to throw her off her game.

Breaking her own rules, Gemma begins a whirlwind romance with Andre who shows her that love and a life off the court might be the real prize. With him, she learns to trust and love…at precisely the worst time in her career. The pressure from her home country, fans, and even the Prime Minister to be the first British woman to win in nearly four decades weighs heavily.

As Wimbledon begins, fabricated and sensationalized news about them spreads, fueling the paparazzi, and hurting her performance. Now, she must reconsider everything, because in the high-stakes game of love, anyone can be the enemy within…even lovers and even friends. In the Game of Love, winner takes all.

Order GAME OF LOVE on Amazon!

My Review

This book. I loved this book. I went into it having no idea what to expect. I have generally held the opinion that I am not a fan of sports books, or books told in third person; Ara Grigorian has proven me wrong.

Gemma Lennon has spent her whole life playing tennis, with the hopes of someday winning the Grand Slam. Andre Reyes is a genius who graduated college at 14 and now works in a prestigious firm, essentially as a high-powered consultant. They are both career-driven individuals, who were essentially thrust into these roles as children as never given the opportunity to develop meaningful relationships.

When the two meet completely by chance, they can’t deny the striking chemistry between them. Despite the obvious obstacles in their way – living on separate continents, Gemma’s paparazzi stalkers desperate to latch onto any minute detail of her personal life, Andre’s upcoming career commitment that will take him away for months, and Gemma’s distrust of others due to past relationships – they can’t seem to forget each other.

One thing that immediately drew me to this book was that the woman was the star athlete, and Gemma kicks some major butt on the tennis court. This book had moments that made me laugh out loud, and moments that wrenched my heart. I loved the two main characters – who were both so interesting and well-developed – and found myself eagerly turning pages to see what would happen. There are several twists in this book as well, that will keep the reader guessing. Don’t let the sports-romance genre fool you; while this book has a sweet love story at its core, and an awesome tennis star main character, neither aspect felt overwhelming to me. It’s a beautifully written page turner, and I would highly recommend it to anyone, including people who shy away from sports romance.

Ara is a masterful storyteller, and I can’t wait for his future books!

FIVE STARS!

About the Author

Ara Grigorian

Armenian by heritage, born in Iran, lived in Barcelona, and escaped New York until he found his home in Los Angeles, Ara’s first eleven years were both busy and confusing. The fruit salad of languages would slow down his genetically encoded need to tell stories. Until then, an alter ego would be required…

He received an engineering degree from California State University Northridge and earned his MBA from the University of Southern California. Today, he is a technology executive in the entertainment industry. True to the Hollywood life, Ara wrote for a children’s television pilot that could have made him rich (but didn’t) and nearly sold a video game to a major publisher (who closed shop days later).

But something was amiss until his wife read him the riot act. “Will you stop talking about wanting to be a writer and just do it?” So with her support (and mandate), and their two boys serving as his muse, he wrote stories.

Fascinated by the human species, Ara writes about choices, relationships, and second chances. Always a sucker for a hopeful ending, he writes contemporary romance stories. He is an alumnus of both the Santa Barbara Writers Conference and Southern California Writers’ Conference (where he also serves as a workshop leader). Ara is an active member of the Romance Writers of America and its Los Angeles chapter.

Ara is represented by Stacey Donaghy.

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