Blog Tour + ARC Review, Guest Post (Meet the Hero) & Giveaway: Havoc by Jamie Shaw

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Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for Havoc by Jamie Shaw! Meet the drummer of The Last Ones to Know, Mike Madden, and check my review for this fabulous book!

MEET THE HERO—MIKE MADDEN

Readers fell in love with drummer Mike Madden from the very first book in this series, MAYHEM, when it became clear that he wasn’t like the rest of the guys in the band: Mike never took advantage of the fact that groupies were throwing themselves at his feet; instead, he was always waiting for “the one.” Mike had his heart broken back in high school, when his band was just starting to pave their way in the music industry, but that never damaged his belief in true love. He was never looking for a one-night stand—he was looking for his future wife, the woman he would spend the rest of his life with. He waited for her through RIOT, he waited for her through CHAOS, and he finally meets her in HAVOC, when he finds Hailey Harper waiting with her cousin outside of his tour bus.

The fact that her cousin is his ex-girlfriend—the same one who broke his heart in high school and now wants him back—complicates things… a lot. But no one ever said Happily Ever Afters came easy…

Havoc by Jamie Shaw
Series: Mayhem #4 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: February 21st 2017
Publisher: Avon Impulse
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When Hailey Harper left her family farm to enroll in veterinary school, she had a plan: keep her head down, ace her classes, and most importantly… don’t upset the uncle paying her tuition. Translation? Don’t piss off his dramatic, self-absorbed daughter, Danica, even if she’s a nightmare to live with.

Falling in love with her cousin’s rock star ex-boyfriend was definitely not part of the plan.

As the drummer of a now-famous rock band, Mike Madden could have any girl he wants. He’s sweet, funny, romantic, talented–and the only guy that’s ever made Hailey’s heart do cartwheels in her chest. The more she gets to know him, the harder she falls, but Hailey knows they can never be more than friends… because Danica wants him back, and she’ll fight dirty to win.

Mike is falling for Hailey too, but Danica’s threats and his rock star life-music video shoots, international tours, obsessed fans-could tear them apart before they’ve even begun. Hailey isn’t sure she’s the one for him, but Mike’s waited years for a girl like her… and he’ll do anything to prove it.

Buy Links:
Amazon • B&N • iTunes • Kobo • Google Play

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Y’all, the wait for Mike book is FINALLY over!!! If you’re a fan of this series (it’s new adult rock star romances, how can you not be a fan), then you know Havoc has been a long time coming. Well, Mike’s book is finally here and trust me, you don’t want to miss it. It’s honestly the sweetest book of the series, because it’s got the sweetest hero of the series. Mike will melt your heart – I promise that if you read this book, you will fall head over heels for him like I did!

“I could be on the other side of the universe, Hailey, and it wouldn’t keep me from you.”

Going into this, I was a bit wary because I’m not a fan of books with heroes who are still hung up on their exes. I can’t stand when a hero has feelings for someone other than the heroine… but Havoc is definitely an exception to this pet peeve of mine. Mike is still not over the ex who broke his heart years ago, but when Danica shows up again with her cousin Hailey, he gets the chance to decide whether he wants closure or another chance. Except there’s one complication, in the form of kind-hearted, adorable, geeky Hailey Harper.

“… I don’t want anyone else. I only want you. I’m thankful every day that I fell for the wrong girl, because it led me to the right one. it was always meant to be you.”

Hailey has always been overshadowed by her gorgeous, manipulative cousin, but for once in her life, she has something that even Danica can’t touch or ruin – her friendship with Mike. Hailey and Mike become fast, close friends, bonding over late night texts, jokes, and games. I adored the way their friendship developed so sweetly and genuinely. They are adorable together!! But soon enough, Hailey ends up falling for her cousin’s ex, who still wants to get back with him. She feels guilty, but Mike is one of the few things that is precious to her. There’s a lot of back and forth between Hailey feeling guilty and pushing Mike away to her wanting nothing more than to be with him forever. It gets a little dragged out, but once she decides to fight for her man, all bets are off.

“I would’ve waited my whole life for you, Hailey. It’s always been you.”

If you’re worried about how Mike feels about Danica, like I was, don’t worry. From early on in the book, Mike decides there’s only one girl for him, and that’s Hailey Harper. Hailey is just a little oblivious about ;). But once Mike sets his sights on her, there’s nothing that can keep him from winning her over and making her believe that there’s no one for him but her. Can you see why Mike is the sweetest hero out of all the boys in The Last Ones to Know!?

I adored this book. After the rough start in the beginning, it wasn’t hard to fall in love Mike and Hailey’s story. Danica is a total beyotch, but thankfully she didn’t ruin the book with her manipulative ways. Mike’s sweet and dirty talking ways totally made up for her. I love this new adult rock star series, and if you love either new adult or rock star books, I highly recommend picking this one up. It’s fun, flirty, and sweet – but I’m so sad the series is over! Still, I’m looking forward to what Jamie Shaw has in store for us next!

4 hearts
lacey

Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.

Reading Order: Mayhem series

Mayhem by Jamie Shaw Riot by Jamie Shaw Chaos by Jamie Shaw 

#1 ~ Mayhem: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Riot: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ Chaos: Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
#4 ~ Havoc: EbookPaperback • Goodreads

about the author button

Jamie ShawA resident of South Central Pennsylvania, JAMIE SHAW‘s two biggest dreams in life were to be a published author and to be a mom. Now, she’s living both of those dreams and loving every minute of it. When she’s not spending time with her husband and their young son, she’s writing novels with relatable heroines and swoon-worthy leading men. With her MS in Professional Writing and a passion for all things romance, her goal is always to make readers laugh, cry, squirm, curse, and swoon their pants off, all within the span of a single story. She loves interacting with readers, and she always aims to add new names to their book boyfriend lists.

Website • Facebook • Twitter • Goodreads

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Win a Digital Set of Books 1 – 3 in the Mayhem Series (MAYHEM, RIOT and CHAOS)

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Audiobook Review: Sommersgate House by Kristen Ashley

Sommersgate House by Kristen Ashley
Series: Ghosts and Reincarnation #2 (full reading order below)
Audiobook Publication Date: January 24th 2017
Length: 14 hours and 32 minutes
Narrated by: Abby Craden
Links: Audible • EbookPaperback • Goodreads
Source: I received an audiobook in exchange for an honest review

Douglas Ashton is the cold and unfeeling owner of the gothic Victorian Mansion, Sommersgate House. Julia Fairfax is his stubborn American sister-in-law. After tragedy strikes, Douglas and Julia are forced to live together at Sommersgate and raise their newly orphaned nieces and nephew.

Douglas has no desire to raise his dead sister’s children nor does he want the distraction of the tempting Julia living under his roof. Julia is struggling with grief and trying to make a go in a new country without much help from impossibly handsome but even more impossibly remote Douglas. Not to mention, she has to deal with the active hostility of Douglas’s frosty, Attila-the-Hun-in-a-skirt mother, Monique.

Douglas decides the best way to give the children what they need, get his mother to behave and give himself what he wants is to marry Julia. When he tells her (yes, tells her) she will be his wife, Julia thinks Douglas is (probably) insane. And anyway, she’s decided if she ever has another husband (since the last one wasn’t so great), he was going to be short, balding, have a paunch and worship the ground she walks on (none of these characteristics define Douglas in the slightest).

One more thing, Sommersgate House is haunted by the ghosts of the man who built the house and the woman who was the love of his life. They both died mysteriously at Sommersgate months after it was finished. When they did, a curse settled on the house making it seem strangely alive. And the only way for the beautiful but frightening house to rid itself of this curse is for its owner to find true love.

It’s so easy for me to dive in to a KA audiobook marathon, because I love long audiobooks and KA always gives me a story worth listening to. The Ghosts and Reincarnation series might not be my favorite of hers, but I’m starting to warm up to it more and more, especially since I’m getting used to the narrator. Sommersgate House is the second standalone in the series, and it’s another long romance mixed in with a subtle ghost story. If you enjoyed the first book, Penmort Castle, you’ll most likely enjoy this one too! It’s got a similar vibe, but there’s a bonus – adorable children are involved!

When Julia Fairfax’s brother and Douglas Ashton’s sister die in a terrible accident, their children are left to Julia and Douglas’ care. Douglas, who is cold and unfeeling, doesn’t want to deal with the emotional upheaval that taking in his niece and nephew will bring. Julia welcomes them with open arms, wanting to fulfill her brother and his wife’s dying wish, so she makes the trip across the pond to stay at Sommersgate House. Douglas and Julie couldn’t be more opposite, but Douglas comes up with the perfect idea to handle the house, the children, and even his mother – he’s going to marry Julia.

Even though she’s wildly attracted to Douglas, she rejects that ridiculous idea. She was burned once in her previous marriage and has no plans for that to happen again. But when Julia and Douglas grow closer together as they pick up the broken pieces of their family, creating a new family of their own, emotions begin to grow on both sides. Can Julie learn to believe in love and marriage again, and can Douglas let her and the children into his heart?

I have to say that the children were my favorite part about this audiobook. They are so adorable, and Abby Craden gave them such unique voices. They added so much warmth and heart to the story – I loved them! Douglas and Julia took me a while to warm up to, but in the end I enjoyed the way their romance played out. It’s another classic KA love story with an alpha male and tough but endearing heroine. I’d highly recommend this if you loved the first Ghosts and Reincarnation story!

SOMMERSGATE HOUSE is now available on Audible: http://amzn.to/2kVjZm7

3.5 hearts
lacey


Reading Order: Ghosts and Reincarnation series

 
  

#1 ~ Penmort Castle: My Review • EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads
#2 ~ Sommersgate House: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#3 ~ Lacybourne Manor: Ebook • PaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#4 ~ Fairytale Come Alive: Ebook • PaperbackGoodreads
#5 ~ Lucky Stars: Ebook • PaperbackGoodreads


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Spotlight + Excerpt & Giveaway: Stealing Mr. Right by Tamara Morgan

Stealing Mr. Right is coming out in a little over two weeks, and we’ve got an excerpt and fantastic giveaway to get you ready for it!

Stealing Mr. Right by Tamara Morgan
Series: Penelope Blue #1 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: March 7th 2017
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I’m a wanted jewel thief.
He’s FBI.
What’s that saying? Keep your friends close…and your husband closer. 

Being married to a federal agent certainly has its perks.

1. I just love the way that man looks in a suit.
2. This way I always know what the enemy is up to.

Spending my days lifting jewels and my nights tracking the Bureau should have been a genius plan. But the closer I get to Grant Emerson, the more dangerous this feels. With two million dollars’ worth of diamonds on the line, I can’t afford to fall for my own husband.

It turns out that the only thing worse than having a mortal enemy is being married to one. Because in our game of theft and seduction, only one of us will come out on top.

Good thing a cat burglar always lands on her feet.

Buy Links:
Amazon • Barnes & Noble • iBooks

Now here’s an excerpt from Stealing Mr. Right! ❤

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His voice was softer than I expected: low but controlled, the sound of an authority figure who knows he doesn’t have to shout to be heard. I’ve since realized that’s the most dangerous kind of man to go up against in a fight. He didn’t bluster and yell the way Riker did, and he didn’t speak in terse rebukes, the way I remember my dad doing when I made an error in the middle of a job. Grant was all control and manners.

I hadn’t expected manners.

“I’ve never seen a man so intrigued by concrete before,” I said, less polite but still within the bounds of friendliness. “I’ve run past you a total of four times now, and you never once glanced up to check me out.”

The surprise faded to amusement. “Is that a fact?”

“Yes. And I thought for sure three times would do it.”

Since it appeared he wasn’t about to book me for fifty counts of conspiracy, I took a moment to appreciate him up close. From a distance, packed into a dark suit, always on the scent of something we didn’t want him to be, he really was more like a ferocious guard dog than anything else. But up close? Unf. There was nothing canine about him, and fear wasn’t my primary reaction. He was a behemoth, taller than me by at least a foot, his build not powerful so much as overpowering. He wasn’t handsome—at least, not in a clean-cut, underwear ad sort of way—but he was incredibly attractive. It’s possible for a man to be a perfectly assembled collection of model parts and invoke nothing more than a mild appreciation, like looking at a sculpture or a really nice diamond tiara. It’s equally possible for a man to boast coarse features, oversized limbs, and a rugged smile—and make a girl want to take off her clothes on the spot.

Happily, I refrained.

“How do you know I didn’t watch your ass as you ran past?” he asked, picking up my flirtation with ease. I should have been disappointed that he was sharp enough to follow along—a  slow, stupid nemesis is always preferable to a fast-witted one—but all I felt was a warm feeling of pleasure. “Maybe I was being discreet.”

“You didn’t,” I said smugly and switched to stretching the other leg. “If you had, you would’ve stopped me ten minutes ago and asked for my number.”

“Maybe I’m in a relationship.”

“You’re not. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be watching my ass now.”

He laughed but didn’t relax. I only noted this because men have a universal way of dropping their shoulders and opening their stance once they realize they’re being hit on. Women probably do it, too—you can almost see the walls coming down around their hearts—but Grant’s wide shoulders remained firmly in place.

I stuck out my hand, hoping physical contact would do the trick.

“I’m Penelope,” I said, not bothering with an alias. That was one lie I’d never had any use for. I was born a thief, raised a thief, and would probably die one. A fake name wouldn’t benefit me any more than changing spots would a leopard. “Penelope Blue.”

That look of surprise moved across Grant’s face again, but he managed to quell it long enough to take my hand and shake.

It would have been pushing things to say there was a tingle of electricity, or that my life flashed before my eyes as the rough texture of his palm grazed mine, but there was no mistaking how strong his grip was. With just the flick of his wrist, he could have broken the bones in my hand, conquered me right then and there. Instead of being alarmed by his physical mastery, I felt no sense of danger. Only wonder.

This man could crush me, I thought. But he won’t.

Reading Order: Penelope Blue series

 

#1 ~ Stealing Mr. Right: EbookPaperbackGoodreads
#2 ~ Saving Mr. Perfect: EbookPaperbackGoodreads (Aug. 1, 2017)
#3 ~ Seeking Mr. Wrong: Goodreads (release date TBA)

about the author button

Tamara Morgan is a contemporary comedy romance author. Ninety-nine percent of her information comes from television, movies, books, and all other pop culture activities that limit the amount of time she has to spend in polite company.

Her long-lived affinity for romance novels survived a B.A. degree in English Literature, after which time she discovered it was much more fun to create stories than analyze the life out of them. She lives with her husband and daughter in the Inland Northwest, where the summers are hot, the winters are cold, and coffee is available on every street corner.

Tamara loves to participate in reader conversations, blog tours, and the occasional venture into public, so feel free to drop her an email at tamaramorganwrites (at) gmail (dot) com.

Tamara is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan of Handspun Literary and is a member of the Romance Writers of America.

Website • Twitter • Facebook • Instagram • Goodreads

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Spotlight + Excerpt: Black Hearts by Karina Halle

Happy release day to Karina Halle – Black Hearts, the first in the Sins Duet, is live!

Black Hearts by Karina Halle
Series: Sins Duet #1 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: February 19th 2017
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From New York Times bestselling author Karina Halle comes a BRAND NEW standalone duet that will get your pulse racing.

For Vicente Bernal, truth is all he’s known. The son of an infamous drug lord, Vicente was born to help run the family business, which means he’s been raised on a throne of sordid pasts and dirty laundry, violence and pride. But when Vicente stumbles across someone he’s not supposed to know about – a woman from his father’s checkered past – he sets out to California to find her behind his father’s back.

What Vicente doesn’t expect to find in San Francisco is Violet McQueen, the woman’s twenty-year old daughter. Beautiful and edgy with a vulnerability he can’t resist, Violet tempts Vicente from afar and though he promised himself he’d stay away from her, curiosity and lust are powerful forces. Besides, Vicente has always gotten everything he wants – why shouldn’t he have Violet too?

Soon his wants turn into an obsession, one that sweeps Violet into his games as they fall madly, deeply in love with each other, the type of first love that can drive a person mad.

But it’s a love with tragic consequences.

Both the truth – and the lies – not only threaten to tear them apart, but threaten their very lives.

Someone has to pay for the sins of the fathers.

And they’ll be paying the price with their souls.

Buy Links:
Amazon

Now here’s an excerpt from Black Hearts! ❤

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The fog is continuing to roll in, bringing a briny mist that you can taste. Only the tops of the bridge remain visible, the orange red seeming to glow against grey skies, while shadows of the structure come and go as the fog moves in.

Violet stares in quiet fascination, her dark eyes taking it in. I can see the fog reflected in them, giving her an eerie quality. She appears to be listening but whether it’s the fog horns, the chatter of the fishermen, the lapping waves, or the dull roar of the bridge traffic, I don’t know. Could be something else entirely.

I don’t want to break her concentration or bring her back from whatever world she’s in. I just stand beside her and let her be. If anything, it says a lot about her comfort level with me if she lets herself drift away.

After a few minutes, she slowly turns to me and blinks. “How long did you say you were going to be in San Francisco for?”

“I don’t know,” I say carefully. “It depends if I find what I’m looking for.”

“And what are you looking for?”

“A reason to stay.” I hold her gaze with mine. The sea breeze picks up a few strands of her hair, moving them across her face like a black veil. Without thinking, I reach over and brush them away, tucking them behind her ear.

I could kiss her. I should kiss her. The feel of her skin against my fingers ignites a million torches inside.

Then she looks away, uncomfortable, the silence between us changing.

I steer the subject onto her. “You said your mother is a famous photographer. Does she have a studio?”

She lets out a soft sigh, her eyes back on the bridge. “Yeah. In the mission district.”

“And you don’t want the same for yourself?”

She rubs her lips together in thought before looking down at her hands that hang over the side of the railing. “As I said, I don’t know what I want. I’m not sure I feel comfortable with the idea of having a studio. My mom does portraits of people. That’s not what I like to shoot.”

“Not a people person?”

A wry smile cracks her lips. “No. Not really. It’s too…intimate. My mom is great at it because people feel comfortable with her. She can…I don’t know, manipulate their feelings.”

Interesting. Very interesting.

People like my father.

“So they end up exposing pieces of themselves that they don’t see. I guess I have the same intuition as her but the one on one is too much for me. I prefer to work with nature. With this.” She gestures to the fog. “No one else really understands how beautiful this is to me.”

I look back at the fog, moving faster now. I wouldn’t call it beautiful. Moody. Dark, maybe. If anything, her beauty stands out more because of the bleakness around her.

“My goal is to take photos that show how I see the world. All the beauty in it. The world is such an ugly and beautiful place, horrible and hopeful. I want to show the light in all the dark places.” She pauses and gives me a sheepish look. “Sorry. I know that must have sounded hella pretentious.”

I slowly shake my head because she sounds anything but that. She sounds real. She sounds like something I want to shake loose from her, to let free and run wild.

“You’re not pretentious,” I tell her, my voice low. “Not even close.”

“That’s not what I hear.”

“What do you hear?” I move in closer to her, the distance between us just a few inches. She doesn’t back up. “What does the world tell you you are?”

I watch her swallow, take a moment. “Oh, you know. I’m too self-absorbed. Narcissistic. Pretentious. I live too much in my head, I’m too anti-social, too distant. I feel too much, care too much. My mother has always chided me for being too sensitive and then I was diagnosed with having hyper-sensitivity, so it turns out she was right. I am too sensitive. About everything. And there’s not a single thing I can do about it except know that when I experience reality, it’s not what everyone else experiences. For better or for worse.” She sighs. “Mainly for worse.”

I feel like this is something she doesn’t unload on many people. My instincts about her were right. She’s fragile but not weak, too much a part of the world and too much removed from it. A contradiction.

“I’m sorry,” she says, shooting me a glance. “I didn’t mean to blab away like that. I know you probably think I’m crazy now. Hell, I think I’m crazy half the time. I really wish I could just be like everyone else. To just…shut it all off.”

“You’re not crazy,” I tell her. “I’m just understanding you better.”

Her mouth quirks up into a dry smile. “I’m surprised you understand me at all. We’ve only just met.”

“True,” I tell her as I reach out and run my fingers along her jaw, tipping her chin up. “But I’m sure you of all people would know that sometimes you can connect with someone in ways you didn’t think you could. Or should.”

She barely nods, her eyes focused on mine, anticipation on her brow. I’m met with the overwhelming desire to protect and shield her which is extremely inconvenient, if not unwelcome, given the circumstances. One minute I need to fuck her, the next I need to protect her, and in the end, what I really need is to do the job I set out to do.

Reading Order: Sins Duet series

#1 ~ Black Hearts: EbookGoodreads
#2 ~ Dirty Souls: Goodreads (March 17, 2017)

The Sins Duet is a standalone spinoff series of The Artists Trilogy and the Dirty Angels series. Here are the reading orders for both series (which you don’t need to read Black Hearts).

Reading Order: The Artists Trilogy

   

#0.5 ~ On Every Street: EbookAudible • Goodreads
#1 ~ Sins & Needles: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Shooting Scars: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ Bold Tricks: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads

Reading Order: Dirty Angels series

Dirty Angels by Karina Halle Dirty Deeds by Karina Halle Dirty Promises by Karina Halle

#1 ~ Dirty Angels: EbookPaperbackGoodreads
#2 ~ Dirty Deeds: EbookPaperbackGoodreads
#3 ~ Dirty Promises: EbookPaperback • Goodreads

about the author button

Karina HalleKarina Halle is a former travel writer and music journalist and The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling author of The Pact, Racing the Sun, Sins & Needles and over 25 other wild and romantic reads. She lives on an island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband and her rescue pup, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails and devours a lot of books.

Halle is represented by the Waxman Leavell Agency and is both self-published and published by Simon & Schuster and Hachette in North America and in the UK.

Hit her up on Instagram at @authorHalle, on Twitter at @MetalBlonde and on Facebook. You can also visit http://www.authorkarinahalle.com and sign up for the newsletter for news, excerpts, previews, private book signing sales and more.

Facebook • Twitter • Goodreads • Amazon Page


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Excerpt Reveal: Mister Wrong by Nicole Williams

Mister Wrong by Nicole Williams
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: February 27th 2017
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Cora Matthews grew up with the Adams boys, twin brothers and best friends who wouldn’t let anything come between them except for one thing—her. One of them became her best friend, the other, her fiancé.

She always knew she’d wind up marrying one of them, and Jacob Adams is the very epitome of Mister Right. At least he is up until he fails to show up for their wedding day. Not that Cora realizes it. At first.

As Jacob’s best man, and identical twin, Matt makes a split second decision, but one that will affect the three of their lives forever—he steps in to take his brother’s place. In front of the altar, exchanging vows with the woman he’s secretly been in love with for years.

Cora eventually finds out about the groom swap. The morning after the wedding. As if realizing she just slept with her fiance’s brother wasn’t disturbing enough, she’s forced to confront her feelings for Matt Adams she thought she’d buried years ago.

Matt’s wrong for her. In every way. But through the course of her real honeymoon with her fake husband, she starts to uncover truths both Adams brothers were hoping to keep hidden, for opposite reasons. One to protect himself, the other to protect her.

She married the wrong brother, but what if he’s been the right one all along?

Buy Links:
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Now here’s an excerpt from Mister Wrong! ❤

excerpt button

CHAPTER ONE
Matt

He was wrong for her.

That was the only thought running through my head as I rechecked every inch of the church. So completely wrong for her. This latest disappearing act, the most recent proof. He’d skipped out on her before, but today was different.

Today, they were supposed to get married. Today, Cora Matthews would become Cora Adams. She’d have my last name. But not in the way I’d hoped for—not that I hadn’t accepted that years ago.

She’d chosen him. My brother. My twin brother. She’d chosen him forever ago, and that was that. She’d been as good as Mrs. Jacob Adams since the day Cora Matthews first showed up in our lives eighteen years ago.

At least until today, when Cora was going to be marching toward an empty altar in fifteen minutes if I didn’t find the supposed Mister Right. Jacob wasn’t the right one—for a dozen reasons I could list—but he was who she wanted and he’d done his best to convince her she was all he wanted too. But I knew better.

My brother had always been indulged; being the “firstborn” son—by a whole three minutes—to a wealthy family has a way of doing that. The problem arose when the boy grew into a man who wanted to be equally indulged in all sorts of ways that a wife would likely frown upon. Jacob wasn’t the right one for her. I knew that. Hell, I think even he knew that when he surfaced from his self-adoring stupor every so often.

Not that I was the right one for Cora either. I was just as wrong for her as Jacob was, but in a different way. See, where he’d always loved her too little, I’d loved her too much. So I’d kept my secret for years and watched the girl I loved fall in love with the brother I’d shared a womb with for thirty-eight weeks. The brother I loved and looked after, despite his faults.

God knew I had a shit ton of my own.

That was why I was about to start tearing this church apart in order to find him. I was looking after his interests as well as Cora’s, because even though he had a piss-poor way of showing it, he loved her. In his own way. If you could call what Jacob felt for anyone love. In a way, it was love, but in another way, it was the opposite.

“Where the hell’s Jacob?” The senior Adams, also known as Dad, asked when I circled into the lobby again, hoping my missing brother had magically appeared. He was holding my brother’s tux zipped up in an expensive bag and looking at me like I was failing the task of keeping track of my brother as I’d failed all the rest presented to me in life.

Where the hell’s Jacob? How many times had I asked myself that question? How many times had I probably known or had a good idea where he was?

“He’s back in one of the church offices waiting. Just got here.” I had to slow myself down when I heard the words wobble. It had been years since I’d stuttered over a word, and now was not the time to resurrect that old habit. “I’ll take it down to him.”

I grabbed the tux from Dad and backed down the hall, trying to ignore the stuffed sanctuary and the orchestra playing some song that sounded more fitting for a funeral than a wedding.

That was what this was about to become if I didn’t do something. Whether it would be my dad murdering me for flunking my best man responsibilities of keeping track of the groom, or me murdering Jacob when I finally found his pathetic ass after doing this to Cora on today of all days, someone was going to die.

“That tux isn’t going to put itself on a groom, Matt. Get after it.” Dad motioned me down the hall before he marched toward the sanctuary like he was ready to get this over with.

He wasn’t thrilled about the wedding. Didn’t exactly approve of the match. It wasn’t that he didn’t love Cora, because he did, like a daughter. He just didn’t find her fitting as a daughter-in-law, especially to his prized firstborn who was incapable of doing wrong. He probably wouldn’t have cared so much if she was marrying me, which was disconcerting to say the least. The only person who’d approve of Cora and me ending up together was my dad.

As I jogged down the hall, carrying a found tux to a missing groom, Dad’s last words replayed through my mind. That tux isn’t going to put itself on a groom.

A groom.

A groom.

My plan was already forming as I ducked into a dark church office, my fingers working my tie loose. Jacob wasn’t just my twin brother—he was my identical twin brother.

I was maybe a little bit taller and he was maybe a little bit fuller, but not enough that anyone would notice. Not enough, I hoped, that Cora would notice. She used to confuse us all the time when we were growing up together and still, on occasion, she’d mistake me for Jacob and Jacob for me. Like the last time I’d been at her and Jacob’s condo when she’d thrown a surprise party for him. I’d been talking with a group of old friends, she slid by me, found my hand, and gave it the briefest of squeezes. She’d thought I was Jacob. I knew that because she never touched me anymore. At least not on purpose. We used to be comfortable enough with each other that she’d hug me without thinking, but that changed when she and Jacob became a thing. An official thing.

She didn’t touch me anymore, not even to nudge me for saying something stupid, which I said all too often in her presence. But that night, she’d touched me. And a year later, I could still remember the way her small hand felt falling into mine.

Cora would be distracted today—nervous. I knew because she’d told me how panicked she was about standing in front of five hundred people. She’d be so distracted by trying to keep herself from passing out or hyperventilating, so would she really notice if the man standing across from her in front of that altar was me?

I was banking on the chance that she wouldn’t, as I changed from my suit into Jacob’s tux as fast as humanly possible. The clock on the wall was fast, hopefully, or else I had two and a half minutes to get my ass up front so that when Cora started down the aisle, she’d have someone waiting for her.

Someone who loved her.

As I tied the shiny dress shoes, I tried to put aside all of the inner voices telling me how wrong this was. How utterly and unforgivably wrong this was. I knew it was wrong. I knew that. But it was just as wrong to do nothing. It was wrong to let Jacob ruin another moment for her. By doing something that I knew was wrong, I hoped I was ultimately doing the right thing.

Maybe he wasn’t where I thought he was, hungover and waking up in some girl’s bed. Maybe he’d gotten into an accident or been kidnapped or . . . damn, then I’d feel like a real piece of shit for thinking the worst about my own brother. Maybe something legitimate had come up and he’d have some great explanation and I’d pull him aside to let him know I’d stepped in and no one besides us would know what had gone down.

And maybe Jacob had decided to turn over a new leaf and not be such a selfish prick, I thought with a sigh.

Pausing in front of the picture hanging beside the door, I adjusted the bowtie as best I could before tearing the door open and jogging down the hall. Jacob’s tux was a little big for me, and his shoes a little small, but those were minor discomforts compared to what my psyche was putting me through.

The ring.

Fuck.

After sprinting back to the office, I wrestled the ring box out of the pocket of my jacket, along with my wallet and phone—just in case I didn’t make it back here anytime soon—then I kicked my suit behind a bookcase in the event that someone stumbled into the room to find an abandoned suit and started asking questions.

My dad’s face was red by the time I made it inside the sanctuary, but when he saw me, his face relaxed and he smiled. It took me a moment to realize he wasn’t smiling at me—he was smiling at Jacob.

Dad never really smiled at me too much. Smirks were more the way of it.

“Where the hell’s Matt?” one of the groomsmen, Hunter, whispered when I passed.

God, this church was stuffed to capacity. And hot. And lacking in oxygen.

“Barfing up his guts,” I answered quietly, reminding myself that I was Jacob and needed to talk and sound like him.

The groomsmen rocked with silent laughter. They were all Jacob’s friends; none were mine.

“Go figure. We’re the ones drinking places dry, and it’s your brother, the DD, yacking his insides out today.”

My shoulder lifted in the dismissive way Jacob’s did. “Some guys have all the luck.”

“And some guys named Matt Adams have none,” Aaron, another groomsman, whispered up the line.

Didn’t I know it?

They didn’t make any more jokes or jeers at my expense because they knew better. Jacob and I might have seen things differently and been as unalike as two people could be, but we were twins. He stood up for me and vice versa. He had my back, I had his.

As my current predicament proved.

The orchestra broke into a new song—the “Wedding March”. The collar of Jacob’s dress shirt felt like it was strangling me at the same time it felt like someone had just dialed up the temperature in the room by twenty degrees.

What am I doing? Why am I doing it? Is it right? Or wrong?

The answers to those questions didn’t have a chance to form because that was when I saw her. Like the thousands of times before, the world faded away when Cora Matthews walked into the room. When she started down the aisle, I swayed a little and had to step out of line to keep myself from toppling into the minister.

“Easy there, big guy,” Hunter said under his breath, elbowing me. “Too late for cold feet. Bride is en route.”

I wanted to tell him it wasn’t cold feet I had, but something else. It was the feeling of being so sure of something that the rest of the world seemed off-kilter. So sure of something that the rest of the world just didn’t make sense. I’d never been as certain of anything as I was about the woman walking toward me, about to marry me.

Under false pretenses.

I had to remind myself of that when Cora’s eyes found mine and her plastered-on smile crumbled behind a real one. She was smiling at me the way she smiled at him—like I was her world.

Matthew Adams had never been her whole world, but unknown to her, she’d been mine. That was why I was standing here now, posing as my twin brother, as his fiancée took the final steps toward me. I was doing this for her because I knew she loved him, and I didn’t want to see her hurt again at my brother’s hand.

Marry the woman you love, Matt, then let her spend the rest of her life with the man she loves.

The orchestra was just playing its final chords when Cora stopped beside me, her eyes matching the real smile still on her face. God, she was beautiful.

Too beautiful, I thought again, as I noticed the line of groomsmen appraising her with more than just casual regard. Cora had always been more than another one of the pretty girls; she was the standout. Every guy knew the type. The girl who shouldn’t be real, but there she was, passing you in the hallway every morning. The girl who’s noticed by every person she passes, male or female. She was so beautiful on the outside, few people took the time to get to know the beauty hiding underneath, but I had. I knew she was beautiful everywhere.

Jacob. Channel Jacob, I reminded myself as everyone took a collective seat behind us.

“Hey,” I whispered to her, winking.

Hey? What a moron. Who says hey to the woman he’s about to marry when she stopped beside him looking so damn perfect. I couldn’t feel my lungs.

“Hey,” she whispered back, like she didn’t think anything of it.

Because, yeah, Jacob totally would have said hey to his bride like a moron.

Cora had been versed in moron for practically two decades.

As the minister started droning on about something I probably should have been paying attention to, I tuned out. This wasn’t my wedding. This was hers. This was his. So instead I watched Cora, memorizing every detail of her face as she stared at the man across from her, who loved her like she was both a poison and an antidote.

When the pastor asked if I promised to love and cherish her, in sickness and in health, until death do us part, that was the easiest question I’d ever had to answer. It was the simplest part of this mess of a day.

“I will.”

about the author button

Nicole Williams is the New York Times and USATODAY bestselling author of contemporary and young adult romance, including the Crash and Lost & Found series. Her books have been published by HarperTeen and Simon & Schuster in both domestic and foreign markets, while she continues to self-publish additional titles. She is working on a new YA series with Crown Books (a division of Random House) as well. She loves romance, from the sweet to the steamy, and writes stories about characters in search of their happily even after. She grew up surrounded by books and plans on writing until the day she dies, even if it’s just for her own personal enjoyment. She still buys paperbacks because she’s all nostalgic like that, but her kindle never goes neglected for too long. When not writing, she spends her time with her husband and daughter, and whatever time’s left over she’s forced to fit too many hobbies into too little time.

Nicole is represented by Jane Dystel, of Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency.

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