Excerpt + Giveaway: The Ones Who Got Away by Roni Loren

I’m so excited to be able to share an excerpt of Roni Loren’s upcoming book, THE ONES WHO GOT AWAY! Plus, I’ve got a special giveaway for a print ARC of the book!

The Ones Who Got Away by Roni Loren
Series: The Ones Who Got Away #1 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: January 2nd 2018
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Liv’s words cut off as Finn got closer. The man approaching was nothing like the boy she’d known. The bulky football muscles had streamlined into a harder, leaner package and the look in his deep green eyes held no trace of boyish innocence.

It’s been twelve years since tragedy struck the senior class of Long Acre High School. Only a few students survived that fateful night—a group the media dubbed The Ones Who Got Away.

Liv Arias thought she’d never return to Long Acre—until a documentary brings her and the other survivors back home. Suddenly her old flame, Finn Dorsey, is closer than ever, and their attraction is still white-hot. When a searing kiss reignites their passion, Liv realizes this rough-around-the-edges cop might be exactly what she needs…

Buy Links:
Amazon Ebook • Amazon Paperback
Barnes & NobleiTunes • IndieBound • BAMGoogle Play

Now here’s an excerpt from The Ones Who Got Away! ❤

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She bit her lip. Of course with his authoritative tone, her mind put him in a uniform and some aviators. She’d never had a particular fetish for men in uniform, especially after her own run-in with the police. But the thought of Finn wearing one and manhandling her a bit had her reconsidering. She would definitely get out of the vehicle. Maybe even let him cuff her. And as inappropriate as the thought was, considering the circumstances, it was a welcome respite from her nightmare. She cleared her throat. “I think you pull it off just fine.”

His dimple appeared beneath the stubble. “You’re blushing, Arias.”

“I am not.” She tipped up her chin. “I’m just…still flushed from all the adrenaline.”

“Uh-huh. Or you’ve got a secret cop fetish.”

“Stop flirting.” She pointed a finger at him.

“Am I flirting?” he asked innocently.

“Yes. And that’s not allowed. You yourself said that kiss was a mistake. So don’t come prancing around here half-dressed with your Batman abs and talking about where to put my hands. No one likes a tease, Dorsey.”

His grin turned roguish. “I said that kiss was a mistake, not a regret.”

“Finn.”

“And Batman abs?” He grabbed the lapels of the robe like he was going to open it and check. “These old things?”

She stretched out her leg and kicked his thigh. “Stop it. You’re terrible.”

He lifted his palms in surrender and laughed. “At least you’re smiling now.”

“Yeah, well, there’s that.”

It seemed even after all the years had passed, Finn still had the ability to get her mind off things. When her mom was going through chemo and everything was doom and gloom at home, Finn could somehow figure out ways not just to make her laugh, but to do so in a way that didn’t make her feel guilty for feeling a moment of happiness.

She leaned forward, bracing herself on one hand, and planted a kiss on his cheek. “Thank you.”

“For what?”

She looked up, meeting his gaze, and realized how close she still was. Close enough to see the flecks of gray in his green eyes, close enough to kiss him. She wet her lips. “Being you. I’ve missed that guy.”

His Adam’s apple bobbed, his gaze flicking to her mouth before sliding upward again. Her heart picked up speed, and his hand closed around her upper arm. “Liv…”

“I…” Whatever she was going to say died on her lips because the way he was looking at her made her forget her words. There was want there in those green depths—lust—but there was something else. Something that made her breath stall. Need mixed with something more dangerous. A wildness.

A curl of heat went up her spine, twining with unease. So much of her wanted to give into it, to see what exactly was simmering there between them. Just grab him and say to hell with it all and make the sheets even sweatier than they already were. But as much as he was drawing her in with that look, he was also warning her off. She didn’t know how she got that sense, but it was there, loud and clear. Push me away. Run. He wanted her to stop this.

He’d told her outside what he had to offer—nothing but a one night stand. And though right now that sounded all kinds of enticing, she wasn’t going to go there. He didn’t want this. Plus, even sober, it would be too close to how she’d handled her anxiety in college. She didn’t need to chase away her nightmare with a hook-up she’d regret in the morning. She wasn’t that girl anymore.

“Finn.” The word was strained.

“Yes?”

She swallowed past the dryness in her throat. “We should get my stuff moved. It’s late.”

He stared at her for a moment and then his grip on her arm softened, his breath tickled her hair. “Right. Of course.”

He released her and she climbed off the bed with shaky limbs. She wouldn’t let herself look at him. She needed a task—something, anything, to get her mind off the man sitting on her bed. She packed up in record time, and Finn retrieved his gun from the drawer, tucking it in the pocket of the robe. No words were exchanged. When she was done gathering her things, he helped her roll her bag down the hallway to his room.

He let her inside and quickly rounded up his own stuff. He moved with quiet efficiency, awkwardness creeping into the silence between them and spreading into every corner of the room.

She leaned against the dresser, watching him, hating the growing divide. “Hey, Finn.”

He looked up, his hands full of computer wires.

“I know the kiss was a mistake and things have gotten a little weird and a lot personal tonight. But this—you and I having some time to talk—it was good. I think that’s what I missed the most when everything happened. Losing you as a friend.”

His stance relaxed. “Yeah?”

She crossed her arms and shrugged. “Yeah. We were good at the kissing, but we were better at the talking. I never had to fake stuff with you.”

His eyebrow arched.

She laughed. “That’s not what I mean, Mr. Mind-In-the-Gutter. I mean that things were easy between us. That’s hard to find with people. I’m realizing that now. I don’t…have that.”

He tucked the computer cords in his bag and straightened, his watchful gaze making her fidgety.

“And that’s not your problem, obviously.” She was rambling now but couldn’t bring herself to stop. “But I opened that stupid time capsule tonight and got to see a big long list of things I wanted to accomplish in life and haven’t. I was supposed to this. I was supposed to that.” She rolled her eyes. “I’m going to name my freaking autobiography Supposed To by Olivia Arias.”

He frowned. “Liv.”

She shook her head. “It’s fine. It is what it is. But all I’m saying is that I don’t want another regret added to the list. So I just thought you should know that you meant—mean—something to me. And maybe you could give a flying flip about me. I have no clue what your life looks like now, but I would rather not leave Long Acre later today and go back to being strangers. Because people you don’t have to fake it for are hard to find. So…yeah, that’s all I wanted to say. I’d like us to stay in touch.”

The corners of his mouth twitched. “That’s all you had to say?”

“Hey, I’m a photographer not an editor.”

“I thought you were a web designer.”

Her lips parted, closed.

He smiled. “Maybe you’re already making more changes than you think.”

She let out a breath. “Maybe I’m just tired.”

Finn stepped around the bed and held out his hand. “Give me your phone.”

She was confused for a second, her brain running on too much adrenaline and too little sleep, but eventually his request registered. She reached into her bag to pull out her cell.

He took it from her and typed a few things and then handed it back to her. “You can always call me, Liv. For anything.”

She took her phone back, her hope sinking a bit. “Right. Thanks.”

He kissed the top of her head and then grabbed his stuff. “I’m going to get out of your way so you can shower and rest. If you need anything before breakfast, give me holler.”

“Thanks.”

He stepped out into the hallway without a backward glance and headed to the room they’d left, obviously more than a little eager to get the hell away from her. She didn’t blame him. She’d apparently become the queen of awkward conversation tonight.

With a sigh, she locked her door and made her way over to the bed and collapsed onto it. Spent. Exhausted. And a little frustrated.

Finn had taken her words like she wanted someone to call when she needed help, but she wasn’t in the market for a therapist or a savior. She was in the market for a friend.

But maybe she was grasping for something that didn’t exist with Finn anymore. Maybe she was just being nostalgic. They weren’t in high school. They didn’t live in the same place. They couldn’t just hang out. The time for that had past. She needed to be okay with that.

If he wasn’t interested in keeping in touch, she wasn’t going to chase him.

She checked the time on her phone to see how many hours she needed to kill before breakfast. But instead of seeing the time, she saw the address book entry Finn had made.

His phone number.

Filed under Batman.

And a note beneath: You will never be a stranger to me.

Reading Order: The Ones Who Got Away series

 

#1 ~ The Ones Who Got Away: EbookPaperbackGoodreads (Jan. 2, 2018)
#2 ~ The One You Can’t Forget: EbookPaperbackGoodreads (June 5, 2018)

about the author button

Roni wrote her first romance novel at age fifteen when she discovered writing about boys was way easier than actually talking to them. Since then, her flirting skills haven’t improved, but she likes to think her storytelling ability has. She holds a master’s degree in social work and spent years as a mental health counselor, but now she writes full time from her cozy office in Dallas, Texas where she puts her characters on the therapy couch instead. She is a two-time RITA Award winner and a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.

Website • Twitter • Facebook • Goodreads

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One print ARC of The Ones Who Got Away by Roni Loren
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Release Day Blitz + Excerpt & Giveaway: Lovers Like Us by Krista & Becca Ritchie

HAPPY RELEASE DAY TO MY FAVS KRISTA & BECCA RITCHIE!!!
LOVERS LIKE US is live!!!

Damaged Like Us by Krista & Becca Ritchie
Series: Like Us #2 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: October 31st 2017
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From New York Times Bestselling Authors Krista & Becca Ritchie, comes the next book in their sexy new contemporary romance series.

Twenty-seven-year-old Farrow Keene lives by his actions, and his actions say he’s the best at whatever he does. As a 24/7 bodyguard and the new boyfriend to Maximoff Hale, protecting the headstrong, alpha billionaire has never been more complicated. And one rule can’t be bent:

Keep your relationship secret from the public.

Farrow is confident he’s the best man for the job. But a twist in Maximoff’s fast-paced life sticks them with the rest of Security Force Omega and their clients.

On the road.
In a sleeper tour bus.
For four rocky months.

Sexual frustrations, check. Road trip drama, check. Awkward bonding, check.

But Farrow couldn’t have accounted for a high-risk threat (identity: unknown) that targets Maximoff before the ignition even turns. And it hits Farrow — someone has it out for the guy he loves.

Every day, Maximoff & Farrow’s feelings grow stronger, and together, they’ll either sink or swim.

The Like Us series is a true series, one continuous timeline, that follows a family of wealthy celebrities and the people that protect them. You must read Damaged Like Us, Book 1, before reading Lovers Like Us.

Buy Links:
Amazon • iTunes

Now here’s an excerpt from Lovers Like Us! ❤

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Proactively waiting isn’t my thing. I can admit that. So when Farrow unwraps a piece of gum and tugs open the fridge, I ask him, “Need help?”

He chews his gum slowly and glances at me in a way that reminds me he’s twenty-seven. I’m twenty-two, and he’s more than capable to do shit himself.

Farrow starts to smile. “It’s cute that you think I need help getting eggs.” He grabs a carton and kicks the fridge closed.

“You could’ve dropped the fucking eggs.” I’m fighting a stupid battle. And I grimace-smile which makes me want to poke my own eyes out.

Farrow pops his gum. “You mean you would’ve dropped the eggs.”

“Did I? Pretty sure I meant you could’ve.”

Farrow sets the carton by the sink. “I have steadier hands than you.” He leans close and whispers huskily, “You’re not beating me at this.”

I shake my head on instinct. When it comes to Farrow, boyfriend or not, I don’t want to concede that fast. “It’s not proven yet.”

He rolls his eyes into a smile. “Hold out your hand.”

I extend my hand, palm-down. Wondering how he can discern any shake just by sight.

Farrow rotates my wrist. “Like this.” And then he smashes an egg right in my palm.

Don’t smile at him. Don’t smile at him. “Thanks for that,” I say sarcastically, hand dripping in broken eggshell and yolk.

“Anytime.” He laughs, and I act quickly and wipe the runny egg onto his black V-neck, feeling the ridges of his six-pack beneath.

Farrow props his elbows on the sink and actually lets me use his shirt as a towel, even while he’s wearing the thing. Christ.

He’s a Grade A sexy asshole.

Reading Order: Like Us series

 

#1 ~ Damaged Like Us: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#2 ~ Lovers Like Us: Ebook • Goodreads
#3 ~ Alphas Like Us: Goodreads (2017)

The Like Us series is the spinoff series of the Addicted & Calloway Sisters series! However, you don’t need to read the original series to understand Damaged Like Us.

Reading Order: Addicted/Calloway Sisters series

Addicted to You by Krista & Becca Ritchie Ricochet by Krista & Becca Ritchie Addicted for Now by Krista & Becca Ritchie
Kiss the Sky by Krista & Becca Ritchie Hothouse Flower by Krista & Becca Ritchie Thrive by Krista & Becca Ritchie
Addicted After All by Krista & Becca Ritchie Fuel the Fire by Krista & Becca Ritchie Long Way Down by Krista & Becca Ritchie Some Kind of Perfect by Krista & Becca Ritchie

#1 ~ Addicted to You: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
#1.5 ~ Ricochet: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
#2 ~ Addicted for Now: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
#2.1 (Calloway Sisters #1) ~ Kiss the Sky: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
#2.2 (Calloway Sisters #2) ~ Hothouse Flower: Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
#2.5 ~ Thrive: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
#3 ~ Addicted After All: EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads
#3.1 (Calloway Sisters #3) ~ Fuel the Fire: My Review • EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads
#3.2 (Calloway Sisters #4) ~ Long Way Down: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#3.5 (Calloway Sisters #4.5) ~ Some Kind of Perfect: My Review • EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads

about the author button

Krista & Becca Ritchie are New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors and identical twins—one a science nerd, the other a comic book geek—but with their shared passion for writing, they combined their mental powers as kids and have never stopped telling stories. Now in their early twenties, they write about other twenty-somethings navigating through life, college, and romance. They love superheroes, flawed characters, and soul mate love.

They are the New Adult authors of the Addicted series and Calloway Sisters spin-off series, and you can find them on almost every social media, frolicking around like wannabe unicorns.

Website • Facebook • Twitter • Goodreads • Newsletter

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$50 Amazon Gift Card
Signed Paperback of Damaged Like Us

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Release Day Blitz + Excerpt & Giveaway: Lethal Lies by Rebecca Zanetti

Lethal Lies by Rebecca Zanetti
Series: Blood Brothers #2 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: October 31st 2017
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A deadly secret can’t stay buried forever . . .

Revenge. It’s the only thing that will help Anya Best sleep at night. The serial killer who murdered her sister is on the loose, and Anya will stop at nothing to put him behind bars-even use herself as bait to lure him out of hiding. But she can’t do this alone.

Private investigator Heath Jones’s job is to bring bastards to justice. This time it’s personal. He knew the Copper Killer’s latest victim so when her sister asks for his help, he’s all in. But when Anya uses the media to taunt the killer, she exposes Heath’s identity, putting them both in jeopardy. Now, secrets buried long ago are coming to light and the forces determined to destroy him are watching Heath’s every move, waiting to exact their own revenge. And they’ll use anything and anyone to get to Heath.

With twists and turns that will take your breath away, LETHAL LIES is sexy, action-packed suspense at its very best from New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Zanetti.

Buy Links:
Amazon • Barnes & NobleiTunes • KoboBAMGoogle Play • IndieBound

Now here’s an excerpt from Lethal Lies! ❤

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She swallowed and met his gaze. “All right. Let me get this straight. We’re going undercover to flush out a killer who’s obsessed with me, and you’re offering to play at being my man for real with no strings or future?” She hoisted the bag onto her shoulder. “That’s some ego. Are you that good in bed?”

“Yes.” And that was definite interest in her eyes.

She clicked her tongue. “I’ll keep your offer in mind.”

“You do that.” He maintained a low and calm voice. “While you’re considering, let’s look at the situation. You have publicly made me your fiancé in order to draw out a killer, which means I have to act as such. Any halfway intelligent law enforcement officer or private investigator would keep his redheaded fiancée very close after the stunt you just pulled. If you’re not with me, the killer is going to be very suspicious.”

She stilled, expressions crossing her face rapidly. “That’s a good point,” she said slowly.

Yeah. Sometimes reality helped him out a little. Plus, the killer had a hard-on for her, and he must already have plans to take her at some point. She’d just upped the timeline. “In addition, you need protection around the clock now, and I’m willing to provide that. So while you’re keeping my offer in mind, we’ll be staying in the same hotel room or same apartment.” He made sure he had her full attention. “While we plan the wedding, of course.”

Her challenging smile thrilled something inside him. “That’s fair.”

He stepped back to give her some space. “Good. Are you ready?”

“Yes.” She looked around the room. “I do have to ask. What if I didn’t agree with you about your keeping secrets from me? Considering people shoot at you, and I’m going to be at your side, it seems fair that you tell me who these people are.” She cocked her head to the side and focused back on him.

“I have more immediate concerns than being fair,” he said smoothly. “You brought me into this mess.”

A frown drew down her eyebrows. “Listen. I want an answer about you.”

“I just gave you one.” At her mulish expression, he searched for better words that wouldn’t end in an argument.

Suddenly, the door blew wide open and bounced loudly off the table. “Anya!” he yelled, jumping for her.

Reading Order: Blood Brothers series

  

#1 ~ Deadly Silence: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Lethal Lies: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ Twisted Truths: EbookPaperbackGoodreads (Nov. 14, 2017)

about the author button

Rebecca Zanetti is the author of over twenty-five romantic suspense, dark paranormal, and contemporary romances, and her books have appeared multiple times on the New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon bestseller lists. She has received a Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review for Wicked Edge, Romantic Times Reviewer Choice Nominations for Forgotten Sins and Sweet Revenge, and RT Top Picks for several of her novels.  She lives in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest with her own alpha hero, two kids, a couple of dogs, a crazy cat…and a huge extended family.  She believes strongly in luck, karma, and working her butt off…and she thinks one of the best things about being an author, unlike the lawyer she used to be, is that she can let the crazy out.

Website • Twitter • Facebook • RebeccaZanetti

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Release Week Blitz + Excerpt & Giveaway: Most of All You by Mia Sheridan

Most of All You by Mia Sheridan
Series: Stanadalone
Publication Date: October 17th 2017
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From the New York Times bestselling author of Archer’s Voice, Mia Sheridan delivers a heartwrenching new stand-alone contemporary romance.

A broken woman . . .

Crystal learned long ago that love brings only pain. Feeling nothing at all is far better than being hurt again. She guards her wounded heart behind a hard exterior and carries within her a deep mistrust of men, who, in her experience, have only ever used and taken.

A man in need of help . . .

Then Gabriel Dalton walks into her life. Despite the terrible darkness of his past, there’s an undeniable goodness in him. And even though she knows the cost, Crystal finds herself drawn to Gabriel. His quiet strength is wearing down her defenses and his gentle patience is causing her to question everything she thought she knew.

Only love can mend a shattered heart . . .

Crystal and Gabriel never imagined that the world, which had stolen everything from them, would bring them a deep love like this. Except fate will only take them so far, and now the choice is theirs: Harden their hearts once again or find the courage to shed their painful pasts.

Buy Links:
Amazon Ebook • Amazon Paperback • Audible
Barnes & NobleiTunes • KoboGoogle PlayBAMIndieBound

Now here’s an excerpt from Most of All You! ❤

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I swallowed heavily, my mouth going dry as I took in the masculine beauty of his practically naked body. He was…divine. That was the word that immediately came to mind. Divine. Angelic. Godly.

My gaze soaked in his strong, broad shoulders, the tight, lean muscles of his chest, the taut ripples of his stomach. As if my eyes were drawn to him like a magnet, they moved down his chest to his muscled thighs, his well-formed calves and then back up to his boxers, where the outline of his male anatomy was just barely visible against the thin material.

My core clenched, wetness pooling between my thighs. I blinked, completely unaccustomed to this kind of reaction when it came to a man’s body. I wanted to simultaneously run away and step toward him, to reach out and trail a finger down his chest the way I’d just run a finger over the tiny stone bird.

“My father made that.”

“W-what?” God, my voice sounded too breathy, too stunned.

“The sparrow.”

He crossed his arms over his chest, obviously self-conscious about his state of undress. He gave a quick nod downward. “Sorry, I didn’t know you’d be up.”

Again, my eyes moved to his bare chest. There was a sparse trail of hair under his belly button leading into the waistband of his boxers. My eyes leapt back up to his, and I practically gulped, sure he had heard it when his eyebrows twitched slightly.

I turned my head, my heart beating so loudly in my own ears I was sure he could hear that, too, even from where he stood. “It’s only fair, I suppose,” I murmured.

“What’s that?”

“Now we’ve both seen each other half-naked.”

Gabriel tilted his head, assessing me in some mysterious way. He suddenly turned and walked back toward his room. I stood rooted to the spot, confused, when he returned just as quickly as he’d left, pulling a T-shirt over his head. He walked toward me, coming to stand directly in front of where I stood. His expression was slightly shy, slightly teasing. “I hope…that if we see each other naked again, it won’t be a job, or an accident. It will be because we both want it, and because it means something.”

What?

Visions swirled through my mind, unbidden: tangled limbs and twisted sheets. Heat filled my veins, blood pumping between my legs. It was too much. It was…out of my control and it scared me. I didn’t want to think of Gabriel that way, couldn’t think of Gabriel that way. In truth, had never thought of any man that way. “Mean something?” My voice was a mere whisper.

He nodded, his expression going serious, his eyes filled with sudden gravity. His hand slowly moved up to my hair, and he brushed a piece back from my face. His hand lingered, his knuckle brushing gently down my cheekbone. My breath hitched at the subtle touch. His full lips parted slightly, those angel eyes moving over my features as if he was memorizing me, memorizing the moment. I was spellbound, caught once again in his gaze. No one had ever looked at me the way Gabriel was right then, not in all my life.

“Yes.” It was all he said, leaving me to try to comprehend his meaning. But of course getting naked always meant something. A bribe, a paycheck, a coercion, a means to an end…only I knew very well Gabriel didn’t mean any of those things, and it was impossible to convince myself he could. I already knew better. And I didn’t want to think about what getting naked would mean to Gabriel because the very idea filled me with terror and an aching, needy want. But mostly terror.

about the author button

Mia Sheridan is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestselling author. Her passion is weaving true love stories about people destined to be together. Mia lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband. They have four children here on earth and one in heaven.

Website • Twitter • Facebook • GoodreadsBookbub • Amazon Page

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Win 1 of 10 copies of Most of All You by Mia Sheridan (in paperback).

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Release Week Blitz + Excerpt & Giveaway: In Pieces by Danielle Pearl

In Pieces by Danielle Pearl
Series: Something More #2 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: October 10th 2017
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Three years ago she was left in pieces . . .

Most college freshmen love the newfound freedom of living on campus, but none of them craves it like Beth Caplan. One ill-fated night when she was fifteen left her locked in a posh prison of private tutors. It’s for the best, everyone said, and maybe it was. But after years of hard work and healing, the one person who never thought of her as broken could be the one to break her all over again. And Beth can’t seem to stay away now any more than she could all those years ago.

As soon as David March learned his best friend’s little sister was enrolling at his school, he promised to look after her, and promised himself he’d keep a safe distance. But the sweet little girl he’d grown up with has transformed into a gorgeous young woman, and she’s attracting attention from people she shouldn’t-like the ex who nearly destroyed her and a strange new student with a disturbing habit of showing up wherever Beth goes. But for David, the most troubling discovery is realizing that he doesn’t just want Beth to be safe. He wants her to be his.

Buy Links:
Amazon • Barnes & NobleiTunes • Kobo • Google PlayBAMIndieBound

Now here’s an excerpt from In Pieces! ❤

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Beth startles when she notices me, and she stops walking, so I make up the distance still between us. She looks adorable as all hell in those tight jeans and loose racerback tank top. Her bra shows at her sides and I’m equally turned on and annoyed by it. She never did have any kind of self-awareness. At least not when it comes to how goddamned attractive she is. And it bugs me that every guy that’s passed her today has caught a glimpse of that black lace.

I shove my hand through my hair. “Beth,” I sigh.

I wait for her to go off on me again, but she doesn’t. She just kind of looks up at me, her resentment a palpable thing. I can’t stand to see her look at me like that. But what makes my lungs burn is knowing that I deserve her resentment. She has no idea how much. Fuck, I hope to God she never will. Especially not now that she’s come so far—that she’s doing so well. Well enough to tell me off in public, at my own party, anyway.

But not tonight, it seems, and when she still doesn’t say anything at all, I make my attempt. “Look, I’m sorry, okay? I thought I was protecting you.”

“I don’t need protection,” she counters.

I nod. “I know. I just thought…Falco being around would give you an excuse to hide away in your dorm, and I wanted you to experience…”

“Experience what, David?”

I shrug. “I don’t know. Fucking life, I guess.”

Beth looks down at her shoes. I hate that she won’t even look at me. “Okay, whatever,” she murmurs.

Whatever?” I repeat incredulously. Here I am, apologizing—something I’m not exactly fucking known for—and all she has to say is whatever?

“Yeah. Whatever. I get it. It just sucks, you know?”

I take a much-needed deep breath. “I know, Bea.”

At last her eyes meet mine, hostility finally gone. I take the opportunity to retrieve my new peace offering from my back pocket. Well, not new. My worn and weathered copy of Hamlet, riddled with years’ worth of my own highlights and notes, its pages filled with more of my own words than those of the author himself. I hope it will help in her Shakespeare class. If nothing else, it will give her an invasive insight into who I am and how I think, just like all the other books I’ve given her over the years, and I wonder if she realizes just how personal it is.

She takes it, her thin brows pinched together in confused awe. “This is your copy,” she breathes.

Suddenly I feel too vulnerable, uncomfortably exposed. “Thought it could help in your class,” I half-lie. Because it’s more than that, and I suspect she knows it.

Her pretty pink lips twist into a small smile, her cheeks going even rounder than usual, and it hits me right in the chest. Not for the first time I tell myself the affection I feel for her is strictly familial. More lies.

“Thanks.”

I smile. “You eat dinner yet?”

She shrugs. “I was gonna heat a cup of noodles and study.”

Cup of fucking noodles? “Fuck that. Come to the Stu-U. Let’s get some real food.”

Beth rolls her eyes. “Fine. But just some quick food, okay? I really need to study.”

There are more things in heaven and earth, Bea,” I smirk at her, and she sets free a short giggle. There it is. I take her girly-ass backpack and slip it over my shoulder, giving her no choice but to follow me. But as soon as I turn around, my eyes catch on that same guy, just as he’s averting his gaze. Only this time he wasn’t looking at me. He was looking at Beth; I’m sure of it. Rage rushes through my veins, and I grit my teeth. I don’t know who the fuck this guy is, but there’s something off about him, and there’s absolutely nothing good about Beth drawing his attention.

My jaw clenches. I slip my arm protectively around her shoulders, despite just having been scolded for being overprotective. “Beth, in two seconds, I want you to subtly glance to your left, between buildings B and C, okay?”

Her brows pinch together again. She looks so damned cute when she does that. She doesn’t wait the two seconds, and her “subtle glance” is more of a full-on stare. “Glance,” I whisper-growl. I wait until she’s facing forward again, and then start leading her from the quad.

“Did you see that guy?” I ask her.

She nods hesitantly.

“Do you know him?”

“Yeah. I mean, no. He’s in my Abnormal Psych class. And I saw him last night.”

“Saw him doing what?”

“The same thing. Standing around smoking cigarettes like a fucking creep.”

“I think he was looking at you,” I admit.

“And that.”

So this isn’t the first time that guy’s been staring at Beth. Unease swirls in my gut. “Stay away from him,” I warn her.

“Do you know him?” she asks uncertainly.

“No. But I don’t like the way he was looking at you.”

Of course, I’ve never liked the way any guys have looked at her.

Reading Order: Something More series

 

#1 ~ In Ruins: EbookPaperbackGoodreads
#2 ~ In Pieces: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads

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Danielle Pearl is the bestselling author of the Something More series. She lives in New Jersey with her three delicious children and ever-supportive husband, who– -luckily- — doesn’t mind sharing her with an array of fictional men. She did a brief stint at Boston University and worked in marketing before publishing her debut novel, Normal. She writes mature Young Adult and New Adult contemporary romance. Danielle enjoys coffee, wine, and cupcakes, and not in
moderation.

Website • Facebook • Twitter • Goodreads • BookBub • Amazon

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