Review: Out of Time by Monica McCarty

Out of Time by Monica McCarty
Series: The Lost Platoon #3 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: December 31st 2018
Links: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

A team of Navy SEALs go on a mission and disappear without a trace—they are The Lost Platoon.

With his men scattered to all corners of the globe after a disastrous secret op in Russia, Lieutenant Commander Scott Taylor is trying to find out who was responsible for leaking the information that killed half his platoon. Were it not for Natalie Andersson, the woman he’d been secretly dating in the Pentagon who’d warned him of the danger, he knows they’d all be dead. Scott is devastated when he hears that the woman he loved and hoped to marry has been killed for helping him—until he learns that Natalie was the spy who betrayed them. But when his search to clear his name brings him face-to-face with a very much alive Natalie, Scott realizes that justice and vengeance might not be as clear-cut as he thought.

Natalie Andersson, or as she was born Natalya Petrova, has put the memories of her early childhood in Russia behind her. She never dreamed that she would be at the center of an elaborate “sleeper” espionage program. Even when she learns the truth, she refuses to spy for the country of her birth, until the Russians threaten the lives of the only family she’s ever known. But Natalie is the worst spy in the history of spying, falling for her target. When her attempt at misdirection leads to irreversible consequences, she’s forced to run for her life, with her lover hot on her tail.

This book is without doubt my favorite of the Lost Platoon series. This sexy, action-packed series has been a roller coaster of a ride and wrapped up wonderfully in Out of Time. I’ve been sucked in to the suspenseful plot and hot romances, so it’s bittersweet knowing that this is the end of Navy SEAL Team Nine. But even though I hated to see it end, it was so worth the read.

It’s Lieutenant Commander Scott Taylor’s turn to get his romance, but this time it involves secret identities and betrayal. Scott had secretly been dating Natalie Andersson and been preparing to propose to her when half his team is killed and the rest had to scatter across the globe and go into hiding, including himself. If that wasn’t enough, he finds out Natalie has died in a car accident… except she hasn’t. She’s alive and well, but all his love for her died along with her fake death when he discovers that she’s double-crossing the U.S. and working for Russia and the people who killed his team. Of course, not all things are black and white, and there is much more to Natalie’s story than just betrayal.

Not only do we get Scott and Natalie’s edge-of-your-seat romance, we finally get Colt and Kate’s long-awaited HEA. They are a big reason why I loved this book so much. Monica McCarty has teased us bit by bit with this heart-wrenching divorced couple’s relationship over the past few books, and their story finally comes together in Out of Time. Colt realizes he’s messed up the best thing to ever happen to him. Kate isn’t sure she can go through a relationship with him again. The angst, the tears, the heartbreak were REAL, and I just couldn’t put their second chance romance down.

She’d made him think that he could make her happy.
But he’d never believed it—not really.
Maybe that had been the problem. But he swore if she gave him another chance he would make it his life’s mission to prove her right. He’d do whatever it took to make her happy. Colt didn’t have any right to ask for that second chance, but he was going to do it anyway.

Out of Time is jam-packed with action and suspense. Scott needs to protect Natalie from those trying to kill her, and will go to the ends of the earth to do so. Natalie has a lot of explaining and making up to do, but once we get her side of the story, we realize how tough and resilient this woman is. The heart-pounding action is the perfect compliment to the passion and intensity of their love story.

“You’re so incredible. I don’t know how I got so lucky.”

I just love this group of characters so much. Even though this is the end of the Lost Platoon, I can only hope we get more romantic suspenses from Monica McCarty in the future. She mixes suspense and romance so well, it’s hard to put down. I can’t recommend this series enough for those who love this genre!


lacey


Reading Order: The Lost Platoon series

  

#1 ~ Going Dark: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Off the Grid: My Review • Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#3 ~ Out of Time: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads


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Prologue Reveal: Out of Time by Beth Flynn

I’m excited to share the prologue of Out of Time by Beth Flynn!

Out of Time by Beth Flynn

Out of Time by Beth Flynn
Series: Nine Minutes #2 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: July 23rd 2015
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RECOMMENDED FOR READERS 18 AND OLDER DUE TO STRONG LANGUAGE, SEXUAL SITUATIONS AND VIOLENCE

Out of Time is book two in a series. It is not a standalone novel. I highly recommend that you read my first novel, Nine Minutes, to be able to understand the background stories of the main characters. There are many twists and turns in both stories that can best be connected if read consecutively.

Although I do answer all of the outstanding questions from Nine Minutes, there is more to this story, and some readers may consider it a cliffhanger. If you do not like cliffhangers, you may want to wait until the third novel is released in 2016.

They thought with his execution it would all be over.

They were wrong.

The leader of one of South Florida’s most notorious and brutal motorcycle gangs has been put to death by lethal injection. Days later, his family and friends should have been picking up the pieces, moving on. Instead, they’ve been catapulted into a world so twisted and dangerous even the most ruthless among them would be stunned to discover the tangled web of deception, not only on the dangerous streets of South Florida but all the way to the top.

In this gripping follow-up novel to Nine Minutes, Out of Time takes readers from the sun-drenched flatlands of 1950s Central Florida to the vivid tropical heat of Fort Lauderdale to the halls of Florida’s Death Row as we finally learn the gritty backstory of Jason “Grizz” Talbot and the secret he spent his life trying to conceal.

Not even Grizz’s inner circle knows his full story—the tragedy that enveloped his early life, the surprise discovery that made him the government’s most wanted and most feared, and the depths of his love for Ginny, the tenderhearted innocent he’d once abducted and later made his wife.

Once Grizz’s obsession and now the mother of his child, Ginny has spent years grieving the man she’d first resisted and then came to love. Now remarried to Tommy, a former member of the gang, the pair have spent more than a decade trying desperately to live a normal existence far from the violent, crime-ridden world they’d once carved out on the edge of the Florida Everglades. For Tommy, especially, the stakes are high. Desperately in love with Ginny for years, he’s finally living his dream: married to the woman he never thought he could have. But even with the façade of normalcy—thriving careers, two beautiful children, and a genuinely happy and loving marriage—they can’t seem to put the past behind them. Every time they turn around, another secret is revealed, unraveling the very bonds that hold them together.

And with Grizz finally put to death, now Ginny has learned secrets so dark, so evil she’s not even sure she can go on.

Will these secrets tear their love to pieces? And how far will Grizz go to protect what he still considers his, even from beyond the grave?

Now here’s the prologue of Out of Time! ❤

excerpt button

Prologue
1950s, Central Florida

The slap was hard and almost knocked him to his knees. They wobbled for a split second, but he managed to regain his stance and glared hard at his father.

“Your mother said you missed the bus and had to hitchhike home.”

He tasted blood in his mouth where the slap had caused him to bite the inside of his cheek. He knew his next comment would bring another blow. He braced himself.

“Ida is not my mother.”

Another hard one, this time to the side of his head, which caused a ringing in his ear. This was nothing. He’d endured worse. He didn’t know why it bothered his father so much when he said this. Ida herself was the first to remind him that she wasn’t his mother.

“Don’t fuck with me, boy. Where were you?”

“It’s the last day of school. Some of us had to stay after to help the teachers clean out their classrooms.” This was a lie. He’d gotten in a fight that day. He’d snapped when a snooty rich kid made fun of him.

The kid was new and had only been enrolled for the last two weeks before school let out for the summer. He was too new to have been warned. The new kid had asked him in the boy’s room if he picked his clothes out of the garbage can that morning. He’d left the idiot dazed and bloody on the bathroom floor, then calmly washed his hands and went back to his classroom. He’d looked at the big clock over the blackboard. Less than fifteen minutes until summer started. Hopefully, his dad wouldn’t work him to death and he’d be able to keep an eye out for her. For Ruthie.

He’d been on the loaded school bus, ready to pull away, when the driver reached over and opened the door. The substitute principal stood at the front of the bus and quietly perused the group of kids. When he saw who he was looking for, he pointed and indicated with his finger. Follow.

Damn. He’d almost made it out of there.

They never discussed the alleged crime as they made their way back into the school and to the principal’s office. He simply bent over the desk and endured the paddling. It wasn’t so bad and didn’t even compare to the beatings he’d received from his father. Beatings that had left permanent scars on his back and other parts of his body. He may have been young, but he knew this fucker, a temporary replacement for the school’s regular principal who was out recovering from surgery, was enjoying this way too much. Would probably lock his office door and jerk off after sending him to find his own way home. Fucking pervert. The world was foul.

So, he’d hitchhiked and ended up walking the last seven miles to get home and now stood there, facing the wrath of his father. His stepmother stood off to the side leaning back against the kitchen counter, her arms crossed and a smug look on her face. A hot, stale breeze floated in from the window above the kitchen sink.

His stepmother. Ida. He’d hated her for as long as he could remember. He had no memory of his real mother. He was told she’d died in this house giving birth to him. It wasn’t really a house so much as a shack in the middle of nowhere. A two-bedroom hovel situated on several acres surrounded by orange groves as far as the eye could see. His father was a skilled carpenter by trade, but for reasons that made no sense to his son, he preferred this destitute existence. He could have made a decent living, could’ve lived in a home not so far from the modern world—as modern as you could get in the fifties. He chose instead to live in a dilapidated old house that had been passed down for generations. He never once used his carpentry skills to make it into a real home. He’d slap some tar on the roof if it leaked or replace a busted pipe, but other than some hodgepodge repairs, he never lifted a finger. It was crumbling around them.

Maybe it was because his father considered himself the king of his castle and he could hold reign over his unworthy subjects. Maybe the brutality he unleashed here made him feel an iota of power that he didn’t feel in the real world. Maybe knowing that he could provide a nice and safe environment, but purposely chose not to, was part of the psychotic seed that had been implanted in his personality. He wasn’t just a bad man. He was worse than that. He prided himself too much on withholding any good he could do for his family.

That made him pure evil in his son’s eyes.

Before she’d married, Ida had worked as a maid for a wealthy family in West Palm Beach. His father had met up with a couple of other laborers to make the long drive down to a mansion situated on the beach to spend a few days doing carpentry work and repairs. He returned with his three comrades and a glowing Ida, who had finally, finally snagged herself a man. She had become tired of being someone’s maid, and when a hardworking, widowed family man came along and showed a hint of interest, she jumped. Unfortunately for her, she jumped too quickly and without hesitation. She hadn’t realized then that she was jumping from the frying pan right into a fire that was even worse. Overnight, she went from being a lonely, overworked maid to a lonely, overworked, and abused housewife.

No, he had no good memories of Ida. Maybe she’d started out trying to do her best. To make their shack a home, to be a mother to her new husband’s young son. But if she had started out that way, he had no recollection of it. Maybe she wasn’t always the horrible person he knew. Maybe his father made her that way. It didn’t matter. He hated her no matter what. He hated her because he knew what she was doing to her own daughter. His half-sister, Ruthie.

Ruthie was a sweet and trusting child who’d captured his heart since the day she was born. She was a happy little girl who was always smiling in spite of the mistreatment her mother inflicted. He spent every second that he wasn’t at school or working caring for his little sister. He adored her and did everything he could to protect her from his parents, especially Ida. He made sure she ate when she was sent to bed without supper. He made sure she was bathed. He couldn’t do it every day, but he did it as often as he could manage. He erased evidence of her bathroom accidents, making sure to wash out her clothes in the creek and let them dry before returning them to her dresser. He wiped away her tears and kissed her boo-boos.

Unfortunately, there were too many even for him to kiss away.

Every night she’d say, “Brother, tell me a story. Tell me a happy story where things don’t hurt and everybody is nice.”

He would pull her close in the bed they’d shared ever since she was a baby and, ignoring the stench of their unwashed bodies, he would make up happy stories to tell her. Anything to make her forget, just for a little while. They would watch the stars from their bedroom window and sometimes he‘d even use them in his stories.

“See the brightest star, Ruthie?” he’d tell her as they gazed out their window. “That’s you. You’re the brightest, most beautiful star in the sky.”

“Where are you, Brother? Are you there, too?” she asked him once.

“I’ll always be the one that’s closest to you.”

He didn’t know if the stories he made up were happy ones. He didn’t know what happiness was himself, so how could he tell a four-year old? But he tried.

Once in a while, after he was certain his father and Ida were asleep, he’d go to the back screen door and let Razor in to sleep with them, too. Razor was a big black Rottweiler that had wandered up to their house one day and never left. His father refused to let the dog stay and insisted he didn’t need another mouth to feed, that he’d shoot the dog if it didn’t leave on its own. The dog was smart. Sensing the father’s animosity, it would come around only at night and wait for the handout left for him on the far side of the barn. His father finally relented; he decided maybe the dog wasn’t so bad after all when his barking woke them up one night to warn them that a wild animal was trying to get into the chicken coop. The hen’s squawking never reached their sleeping ears, but the stray dog’s barking and pawing at their back door did. His father let Razor stay, but he had to be kept outside.

Now, the beating done for the day, his father stared at him for a few seconds. Finally, he said, “Get your fucking chores started. Don’t come back in until they’re all finished. You don’t get done before supper and you don’t eat.”

The boy didn’t need to glance at his stepmother to know she would purposely serve a very early supper that day. He headed out the back screen door and let it slam behind him.

“C’mon, Razor,” he said as he headed for the ramshackle barn.

It was dark outside when he finally finished his chores. He found some food he’d stashed in the barn and silently ate, sharing half with his dog. After washing up in the rain barrel, he headed into the house and crawled into bed with Ruthie, pulling her close. She moaned.

“Brother is here, Ruthie. Do you want a story?” He was exhausted, but couldn’t fall asleep thinking he would let her down without a story.

“My stomach hurts,” she whispered.

“Do you need me to take you to the bathroom?” he whispered back.

“No. It’s not that kind of hurt.”

“What kind of hurt is it? Are you hungry?

“Mommy stepped on it.”

He stiffened, then squeezed his eyes shut. He was glad she didn’t want a happy story tonight because the only one he could think of was one where he strangled Ida with his bare hands.

***

The next day, he was walking back from the groves carrying the three squirrels he’d killed with his slingshot. Ida could make a decent stew out of these. He’d watched Ruthie that morning at the table as she slowly ate her breakfast. She seemed okay, and he’d left to hunt before she finished. He shouldered the squirrels and imagined the look on Ruthie’s face when she saw what he’d caught.

That’s when he heard it. A shotgun blast coming from the direction of the house.

He’d heard the shotgun before, when his father caught rare sight of a deer or other animal that was either a predator or something that would end up on their dinner table. But his gut told him this was different.

He broke into a full run, then came upon a scene that brought him up short. He tensed as his mind started to grasp what had happened.

There, right beside the clothesline. His father holding the shotgun. Ida cradling a bleeding arm. Razor on his side and lying in a puddle of blood.

And Ruthie, on the ground and flat on her back, her arms at her sides. Ruthie.

He broke into another run.

“Your fucking dog was attacking your sister, and when Ida tried to stop him, he went after her, too,” his father said coldly, a finger still resting on the trigger. “I had to kill him.”

Razor attacked Ruthie and then Ida for trying to stop him? Impossible. Razor would never hurt Ruthie.

Ida held her arm up for him to see. She didn’t have to. He had already seen it and there was no doubt it was a bite from Razor. More like a mauling. Like he’d grabbed on and was wrestling with her.

He dropped his dead squirrels and knelt at Ruthie’s side. And then he knew for certain the concocted story wasn’t true. His sister was lying on her back, her eyes closed. Soft blonde curls framed her face. She looked more peaceful and beautiful than he had ever seen her. A tiny smile curved her sweet, innocent mouth.

Of course she was smiling. She had just escaped from hell.

He knew she was dead. He also saw nothing on her body that indicated Razor had attacked her.

They were lying. But he’d already known that.

He couldn’t stop himself. The words were out of his mouth before he could think.

“Doesn’t look like Razor attacked Ruthie. No bites or anything. Just Ida’s bruises.”

The blow was hard, but not unexpected.

“Get the shovel,” his father ordered. “Pick a place way out past the house and bury your sister. Don’t care what you do with your dog. You can drag its lousy ass out to the groves if you want and give the vultures some supper.” Scooping up the three squirrels that had been dropped, he grabbed his wife by the uninjured arm. “You ain’t hurt so bad you can’t make supper.”

As he headed back to the house with Ida and the dead squirrels, he yelled over his shoulder, “And when you’re done you get your sorry ass back here and put out the rat poison like you were supposed to do yesterday.”

He stared after them as they made their way back to the house and tried to imagine a world without Ruthie.

A world without light.

***

Two weeks later, he was sitting in the passenger seat of a strange man’s car. The man had introduced himself when he picked up the young hitchhiker, and he didn’t seem bothered by the fact that the boy just stared at him and refused to say anything. The boy now turned to gaze out the car window as he reflected on what he’d done.

He’d buried his sister like his father had told him to, taken his shirt off and covered her body with it before retrieving a shovel and heading way out on their property where he dug one large grave.

Leaving the shovel at the gravesite, he’d headed back to the house. He went into the barn and retrieved the rat poison, shoved it down into his pants.

He’d gone into the house, noticed that Ida had cleaned up and was working on their squirrel stew. He could tell by her movements she was in a lot of pain. Razor had done a decent job of tearing up her arm. She probably needed to go to the hospital, but his father would never take her, nor would he allow her the use of their one vehicle. It wasn’t at the house anyway. He must’ve gone somewhere.

It was obvious what had happened. Ida had been giving Ruthie another beating and Razor had stopped her. Unfortunately, Razor hadn’t stopped her in time.

The boy had no way of knowing that Ruthie had been slowly dying of internal injuries sustained from her mother’s brutal beatings, culminating in the final stomp to her tiny stomach the day before. He was certain Ida had always inflicted her brutality on Ruthie inside the house, where Razor wasn’t allowed. That day must’ve been different. She was probably dragging a crying Ruthie out to the yard to help her with some chore and started whaling on her when the little girl wouldn’t, or most likely couldn’t, do as she was told. There was no doubt Razor had been trying to defend Ruthie by grabbing Ida by the right arm. Ida was right-handed.

Leaning back from her spot at the stove, Ida looked out the back window and spied the little girl’s body in the yard. She gave her stepson a level look. “You’re not finished. What are you doing in here?”

Her voice was steady and without emotion. She could’ve been asking him if he’d fed the chickens or painted the fence. It revolted him to think that this was how she thought of her daughter’s burial: a chore. She was more of a monster than his own father. She had given birth to Ruthie. She had shared the same body with her only child for nine months. He didn’t know anything about mothering, but even he could see how there could be, should be, a special bond between a mother and her child.

Without looking at her he answered. “Hole’s dug. Came back in for something to wrap her in. Was gonna take my bed sheet.”

They’d always shared a bed and it had only ever known one sheet. He would use it to wrap Ruthie’s tiny body.

He didn’t know what caused Ida to say the next thing. She countered with an offer that surprised him but also provided him with an opportunity.

“I have something you can use. Got it as a going away gift from where I used to work.”

She took the big spoon she had been stirring with, tapped the side of the pot and laid it down. Cradling her sore arm against her chest, she headed back toward the bedroom she shared with her husband. He knew her arm was hurting, knew it would take a few minutes to dig out whatever it was that she was going to get. He could hear her clumsily rustling around for something.

He seized the chance to retrieve the poison from his pants and dump the entire contents of the container in the stew. He hastily stirred it, grateful that it seemed to quickly dissolve, and returned the spoon back to its place. He was standing by the back door when she returned with a blue piece of fabric draped over her good arm. He realized that it was a bathrobe of some type. It was thin and he didn’t need to be educated to know that it was high-quality and expensive. Going away gift my ass, he frowned. She stole this. She held it out to him while avoiding his penetrating green eyes. They’d always unnerved her, at least that’s what he’d heard her tell his father, and for a split second she seemed to hesitate, to waver.

She must have regained her bravado and, without waiting for him to take the robe, snapped, “Wrap her in this.” She tossed it at him and headed back over to the stove to stir her stew.

At the freshly dug grave, he gently cloaked Ruthie’s little body in his own shirt. “Brother is always with you, Ruthie,” he said quietly. He then wrapped Razor in Ida’s expensive bathrobe and snorted to himself as it occurred to him that even his dog was too good for Ida’s supposed going away gift. He gently laid his little sister in the very deep hole and placed Razor next to her.

“You were a good boy, Razor. You did the right thing trying to protect her. Now you can always protect her.”

He knew he wasn’t going to mark her grave for anyone to know where she was. Only him. He knew nobody would be looking anyway. It wasn’t like she was going to be missed. Like him, she hadn’t been born in a hospital. He doubted she even had a birth certificate. He wasn’t sure if he had one himself, though he guessed there was one somewhere, since he’d been enrolled in school. Do you need a birth certificate to go to school, he wondered? He didn’t know.

He stood over his sister’s grave and stared at the freshly compacted earth. It was missing something. He wandered off and soon came back with an oversized rock. The stone was heavy, massive really, and he had exerted an enormous amount of energy to carry it to her gravesite. He dropped it with a thud. He had chosen it because of its size and unique shape. He would remember it.

Falling to his knees, he began to weep. He never remembered crying even once in his life. Not even as a child, enduring horrific abuse that was tantamount to torture. He couldn’t comment on why his father hated him. He couldn’t figure why his stepmother hated Ruthie. He didn’t want to think about them, anyway. After he was finished, he’d never think of them again.

A low wail that didn’t sound human began to build, a cry that came straight from the pit of his empty stomach and found its way up his chest, through his throat and out his mouth, taking his soul and any semblance of light with it. The light that had been Ruthie.

He wasn’t sure how long he’d knelt sobbing at Ruthie and Razor’s grave. His eyes stung and he had a combination of dry and wet snot all over his bare arms as he tried to swipe away the grief. His sore back eventually brought him out of his mourning, the pulse of the sun reminding him of the lashes his father had inflicted a few nights earlier. He was physically and mentally exhausted, but his job wasn’t finished yet.

He was worn out, but somehow he gathered the strength he needed and headed out further to an even more remote location.

He had one more grave to dig.

He would bury them together, not for the same reason that he buried Ruthie and Razor together: to offer protection and comfort to one another. No, he dug one mass grave because they deserved to be dumped like garbage.

And that was exactly what he was going to do.

***

“Kid? Kid, you need anything or have to use the bathroom?”

He’d fallen asleep and jumped when he was touched. It took him a split second to remember where he was. A car, now parked. The man who’d picked him up was looking at him, waiting.

The man nodded out the window. “I’m getting gas. You need to use the john or something?”

“Where are we?”

“Fort Lauderdale. Getting some gas and heading to Miami.”

He nodded his head, starting to sit up. He was sore. The last few days had taken a toll on him physically and he was feeling it.

“Yeah, I gotta go.”

He went around the side of the little gas station and let himself into the restroom. It smelled like crap but was surprisingly clean. His mind wandered as he relieved himself, memories rolling over him.

He’d returned to the house that night to find his father and Ida sitting at the dinner table eating stew. He reached up on the shelf and took down an old jelly jar, using the kitchen tap to fill it up. Leaning back against the counter, he drank his water as he watched them eat their dinner. Nobody bothered to offer him any. That was okay. He would’ve refused it anyway.

“Tastes like shit! How the fuck can you mess up squirrel stew?” When Ida didn’t answer, his father backhanded her across the face.

Taking his glass of water, he’d gone to his bedroom and shut the door behind him. He laid down on the bed that he’d shared with Ruthie, hugged the only pillow close to his chest, and fell immediately into a dead sleep.

He was awakened that night to the sound of violent vomiting and retching. The next couple of days were a blur as he tried to pretend to help his extremely sick parents. Keeping buckets by their bedside, bringing them liquids to drink. Liquids he had continued lacing with more poison from the barn.

He remembered the instant his father realized what was happening. He was trying to get out of his bed, insisting that his young son take him and his wife to the hospital. The boy wasn’t old enough to have a license, but he knew how to drive. He’d let his son drive their beat-up old station wagon to haul things around the property.

“You’re gonna drive us to the hospital, boy,” he said, voice laced with pain.

“No, I’m not.” He just looked at them, a small smile on his lips. “I’m going to watch you both die a slow and painful death. I’m kind of glad you never bought us a TV. This will definitely be much more entertaining.”

Bloodshot and pain-filled brown eyes met hard green ones as realization dawned. His father glanced around his bedroom and noticed his shotgun was not in the corner. It was gone. Even if it had been there, he wouldn’t have had the strength to get up and get it.

His father fell back onto the bed and turned to look at his wife. She was curled up with her arms wrapped around her knees, which were pulled up to her chest. She had heard the conversation and opened her eyes long enough to say to her husband, “We both deserve this.”

His father rolled onto his back and looked at his son, who stood at the foot of the bed, arms crossed, green eyes cold and staring.

“Shoulda known you were the devil’s seed.” Without waiting for the boy to comment, he added, “I loved your momma and thought I did the right thing by marrying her when she was pregnant by another man. Shoulda known you were evil when you killed your own mother, you no good piece of shit.”

Finally, an answer. Although it didn’t matter now. The man who’d raised him wasn’t his father. The man who’d raised him resented him for taking his mother’s life in childbirth. Another man’s bastard had killed the woman he loved and he was going to make that child pay. Had been making that child pay ever since.

In a way, he could kind of understand that. He almost allowed a stab of conscience in, telling him he should take them to the hospital. Maybe it wasn’t too late.

But then he remembered Ruthie. There was no excuse for what had happened to Ruthie. No excuse at all.

He stared coldly at the man he’d thought was his father. “I’m just sorry I didn’t do this before you let her kill Ruthie.”

Then he went to the kitchen and made himself something to eat.

After they were dead, he loaded them both in the back of the family car and drove them out to the second grave. He dumped their bodies with as much care as he’d show a pile of old chicken bones and flung the dirt back in. He hurled the shovel in the back of the station wagon and drove back to the house.

He wanted to draw as little attention to the shack as possible. He would not burn it down, but he would give careful thought as to what it should look like if a family just up and left, taking only things they could load in their one car. He went to work, packing up what few pictures they had, their personal papers and clothes. He sneered when he saw a picture of his father as a boy. He looked like a miserable piece of shit even back then. He tossed it in with the other things. He never came across a single picture of himself or his mother.

He carelessly threw everything he could into the old car, barely leaving room for himself to fit into the driver’s seat. He went into his bedroom and retrieved the brown bag that held the few things he’d set aside to take with him. It contained some clothes, along with thirty dollars and twenty-six cents that he’d scavenged from his father’s wallet and Ida’s money cup, which he’d found hidden behind some dishes in the kitchen. He reached into his pocket, retrieving something he hadn’t known existed until he’d started cleaning out their personal items. It was a picture of Ruthie and Razor. It had obviously been taken at their house, but he didn’t know when or by whom. He never found existence of a camera when he was going through their belongings. He had no way of knowing where the picture came from and he didn’t have time to ponder it.

He looked at it again. Ruthie was sitting down in the grass and looking up and smiling. She was leaning against Razor, who had himself wrapped around her like a cocoon. Her knees were pulled up to her chest and she had her arms wrapped tightly around them. Her blonde curls were shorter then. The two of them looked happy. Like they had been romping in the tall grass and had taken a break to pose. He knew neither Ida nor his father had taken the picture. If that had been the case, he was certain his baby sister wouldn’t have been smiling. He carefully returned it to his back pocket and continued his cleanup.

Hours later he stood in the middle of the little house, surveying it. He wasn’t certain, but he was pretty confident he’d loaded up the important stuff. It was the fourth of the month. The electric and water bills wouldn’t need to get paid again until the thirtieth. School was out, so he wouldn’t be missed until September. And even then, he was doubtful anybody would care. His father wasn’t regularly employed, so he wouldn’t be missed, either. They had no phone to worry about.

Yes, it looked like the family that lived here decided to move with their most personal possessions. The small amount of mail they got could stack up for months in their little slot at the post office. Nobody would notice. And by the time they did, it wouldn’t matter. He’d be long gone.

He headed out to the chicken coop to set them free when he noticed laundry on the clothesline. He would grab those clothes and toss them in the car before leaving. After retrieving his brown bag and canteen, he carefully drove the family’s car to the nearest, deepest canal he knew. It was off the beaten path and he didn’t have to pass any houses or civilization to get there. It would be a long, hot walk to hitch a ride somewhere, but he only had a brown bag to carry and his canteen, which he’d filled with water.

Now, in the gas station restroom, he splashed cold water on his face and dried off. He reached into his back pocket before leaving the restroom and took out the picture of Ruthie and Razor. He would never hold her again. He would never hear her voice asking for a story. He would never wrap his arms around Razor’s neck and nuzzle his short fur. He swiped away the tears that had started forming in his eyes and returned the picture to his back pocket.

He’d taken a vow that day at Ruthie’s grave. No more crying. Ever.

He was starting to get hungry and decided to go back to the car to get some money. He would see what the gas station had in the way of food. Hopefully, they had some candy bars and soda pop. He’d tasted soda only once and was looking forward to the sugary drink.

He made his way around the side of the gas station and stopped dead in his tracks. The car he had been riding in was gone. He blinked to see if his eyes were playing tricks on him. They weren’t. That son-of-a-bitch drove off with his brown bag that contained his few items of clothing and all of his money. He had left his canteen on the front seat. Even that was gone.

The world was rotten and so was everybody in it.

Reading Order: Nine Minutes series

Nine Minutes by Beth Flynn Out of Time by Beth Flynn

#1 ~ Nine Minutes: EbookPaperback • Goodreads
#2 ~ Out of Time: Goodreads (July 23, 2015)

about the author button

Beth Flynn is a fiction writer who lives and works in Sapphire, North Carolina, deep within the southern Blue Ridge Mountains. Raised in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Beth and her husband, Jim, have spent the last 17 years in Sapphire, where they own a construction company. They have been married 31 years and have two daughters and two dogs. In her spare time, Beth enjoys writing, reading, gardening, church and motorcycles, especially taking rides on the back of her husband’s Harley. She is a five-year breast cancer survivor.

Website • Facebook • Twitter • Goodreads


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Blog Tour + Review & Giveaway: Out of Time by Jen McLaughlin

Out Of Time Tour Banner

Out of Time by Jen McLaughlin

Out of Time by Jen McLaughlin
Series: Out of Line #2 (full reading order below)
Release Date: December 1st 2013
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Desperate to keep him…

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

Trying to make every moment count…

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

Time only gets us so far…

Buy Links:
Amazon • B&N

review

Out of Line ended with a bit of a cliffhanger, with Finn receiving an ominous text, but Finn and Carrie are finally together for good. Out of Line was only an okay read for me, but I ended up really liking and enjoying Out of Time. Carrie was a much more likable heroine, and Finn really steps up his sweetness. They are finally not afraid to show their feelings and love for each other, and they make such a strong, adorable couple.

Still, Finn and Carrie have to keep their relationship a secret from Carrie’s father because he’s completely overbearing and protective of his daughter. He has a high position in politics, and because of an incident that occurred when Carrie was young, she’s smothered by her parents and by bodyguards. Her father needs to have protection for her 24/7, and since Finn is part of her security, they can’t let her father know about their relationship otherwise Finn will end up fired. In Out of Time, Carrie’s parents play a much bigger role in their lives, and they cause complications that Carrie and Finn have to deal with.

Carrie and Finn have grown throughout these two novels, and in Out of Time, we get to see a much more intimate side of their relationship. We feel how much they need each other, and how much they love each other. Carrie and Finn will do anything for each other, and I loved how their relationship changes and matures. They are good for one another, and bring out the best in each other. With Finn, Carrie is finally free to be herself, without her parents hovering and being overprotective. With Carrie, Finn finds the best things in life because of her. He’s protective of her, and time and again shows how much he’ll do for her. But Finn is still a bit insecure about himself. He feels he doesn’t deserve Carrie, that she deserves someone better than some tattooed surfer. They argue sometimes, but Carrie always lets him know that she loves him for who he is. I loved that about their relationship. They want and love each other for who they are, and nothing else–bad or otherwise–matters as long as they have each other.

Told from both Carrie’s and Finn’s POV, Out of Time is a great, moving sequel. The romance is wonderful, and the story will keep you hooked from start to finish. So many emotions play out for Finn and Carrie, but their journey is one you shouldn’t miss. I’d definitely recommend this series if you’re a fan of new adult contemporary romances.

3-hearts

lacey

Out of Time Sale

You can see the rest of the tour stops on the blog tour here.

Reading Order: Out of Line series

Out of Line by Jen McLaughlin Out of Time by Jen McLaughlin Out of Mind by Jen McLaughlin

#1 ~ Out of Line: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#2 ~ Out of Time: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#3 ~ Out of Mind: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads

about the author

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

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

Website • Facebook • Twitter • Goodreads

giveaway

Jen is giving away 4 $10 Amazon Gift Cards and an amazing grand prize! The grand prize winner will get to help name a character in book 3 of the series, and will get their name in the acknowledgement section of the book! Contest is international.

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Release Day Blitz + Excerpt & Giveaway: Out of Time by Jen McLaughlin

Out of Time Blitz Banner

Out of Time by Jen McLaughlin

Desperate to keep him…

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

Trying to make every moment count…

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

Time only gets us so far…

Out of Time Sale

Buy Links
AmazonB&N

Excerpt

When he closed his mouth over mine, I shut off my mind and stopped thinking. He’d already told me all he could tell me about the call, so focusing on it wasn’t the healthiest choice. We had to wait until this weekend to hear anything more. Until then we were just sitting ducks.

And if I was going to be forced to wait, then I’d do it my way.

He picked me up and carried me to his bed. He was so hard and solid and it drove me insane every time he moved his tongue over mine like that. His teeth scraped my lower lip, and I whimpered into his mouth. His fingers moved over my butt, slipping between my legs and rubbing against the spot where I needed him most.

As he lowered me to the mattress, he started to climb on top of me, but I broke the kiss and shoved at his shoulders. “No,” I said, locking gazes with him. “It’s my turn. Just stand there.”

He stilled, instantly giving me what I wanted. “Your turn for what?”

“Control,” I said, my cheeks heating. “I want to undress you. And then I want to wrap my lips around your…your…”

When I drifted off, uncertain what to call his penis, he chuckled. “Cock. It’s a cock, Carrie. Say it.”

My cheeks heated. I knew what it was called. It just sounded so dirty and wrong. “Around your cock,” I said in a rush, my cheeks getting even hotter.

“Okay.” He fisted his hands at his hips, watching me from beneath his lowered lids. When he looked at me like that—like I was his dessert or something—it made everything inside me quiver and beg for his touch so much it hurt. I licked my lips and crawled to the edge of the bed on all fours. He twitched and took a step toward me; as if he couldn’t hold himself back anymore, but then he stopped.

He stood there because I’d asked him to.

I ran my hands over his chest, then up over his shoulders. Just touching him made me feel like the luckiest girl in the world, and I wanted to do everything to him. Everything in the romance books I read at night, and then more. Even though my mother had never figured it out, I used to sneak them out of her library after she was finished with them. I’d started it in sixth grade. Now I bought them with my own money.

And I had a lot of ideas stored away in my mind that I wanted to try out on Finn.

Out Of Time Teaser

Reading Order: Out of Lines series

Out of Line by Jen McLaughlin Out of Time by Jen McLaughlin

#1 ~ Out of Line: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#2 ~ Out of Time: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#3 ~ Out of Mind: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads

about the author

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

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

Website • Facebook • Twitter • Goodreads

giveaway

Jen is giving away 4 $10 Amazon Gift Cards and an amazing grand prize! The grand prize winner will get to help name a character in book 3 of the series, and will get their name in the acknowledgement section of the book! Contest is international.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

InkSlinger PR Blogger Button

Book News, Weekly Recap & Upcoming Releases! {13}

Cover Reveals!!

TONS of new covers were revealed this week! I’ll just be showing the covers and linking the Goodreads pages below this time instead of showing book blurbs 🙂

Off the Record by K.A. Linde Blood Games by Chloe Neill Falling by E.K. Blair Song of the Fireflies by J.A. Redmerski Sublime by Christina Lauren Come To Me Softly by A.L. Jackson Black Box by Cassia Leo Avoiding Decisions by K.A. Linde The Secret of Ella and Micah by Jessica Sorensen Fall from India Place by Samantha Young Holy Frigging Matrimony by Emma Chase The Sweetest Game by J. Sterling Out of Time by Jen McLaughlin Mended by Kim Karr Lick by Kylie Scott

Snippets!!

★ A snippet from Cassandra Clare’s tumblr for What to Buy the Shadowhunter Who Has Everything:

“How have you been keeping? You know, since the last time you summoned me,” said Elyaas, the demon.

“What?” Magnus asked.

“You don’t remember me?” said the tentacle demon.

“I summon a lot of demons,” Magnus said weakly.

There was a long pause. Magnus stared into the bottom of his coffee cup and desperately willed more coffee to appear. This was something a lot of mundanes did too, but Magnus had one up on those suckers. His mug did slowly fill again, until it was brimming with rich dark liquid. He sipped and looked at Elyaas, who was shifting uncomfortably from tentacle to tentacle.

“Well,” said Elyaas. “This is awkward.”

“It’s nothing personal,” said Magnus.

“Maybe if I jogged your memory,” Elyaas suggested helpfully. “You summoned me when you were searching for a demon who cursed a Shadowhunter? Bill Herondale?”

“Will Herondale,” said Magnus.

Elyaas snapped his tentacles as if they were fingers. “I knew it was something like that.”

“You know,” Magnus said, enlightened, “I think I do remember. I’m sorry about that. I realized right away that you weren’t the demon I was looking for. You looked kind of blue in one of the drawings, but obviously you are not blue, and I was wasting your time. You were pretty understanding about it.”

“Think nothing of it.” Elyaas waved a tentacle. “These things happen. And I can look blue. You know, in the right light.”

“Lighting’s important, it’s true,” said Magnus.

“So whatever happened with Bill Herondale and that curse a blue demon put on him?” The cecaelia demon’s interest seemed genuine.

“Will Herondale,” Magnus said again. “It’s actually rather a long story.”

“You know, sometimes we demons pretend we’re cursing people and we don’t really do it,” said Elyaas chattily. “Like, just for kicks? It’s kind of a thing with us. Did you know that?”

“You could have mentioned it a century or two ago,” Magnus observed frostily.

Elyaas shook his head, smiling a slime-bedecked smile. “The old pretend-to-curse. It’s a classic. Very funny.” He appeared to notice Magnus’s unimpressed expression for the first time. “Not from your perspective, of course.”

“It wasn’t funny for Bill Herondale!” said Magnus. “Oh, damn it. Now you’ve got me doing it.”

★ Jennifer L. Armentrout has a snippet from her blog for Bitter Sweet Love!

My eyes narrowed on her. “I’m not telling him yes.”

“Whatever.” She rolled her eyes. “You’re mad. I totally get that, and you have every reason to be, but you haven’t looked at one guy since he left and you’ve definitely been looking at Dez.”

“Who wouldn’t look at Dez?”

She giggled and then her eyes darted to my door at the sound of a throat clearing. Oh, no. I scrunched up my nose, and Danika winced.

Dez, I mouthed.

She slid off the bed, and that was answer enough. As she hurried across the room, I turned. Dez stood in the doorway, arms crossed over his chest, looking entirely too pleased with himself.

Danika gave him a quick wave as she all but bounced out of my room. He nodded and then stepped inside, closing the door behind him. He was in my bedroom. Again. He’d been in here many times in the past, but that was before, and everything was different now.

★ Katy Evans gave her newsletter subscribers a sneak peek at the first 15 pages of Remy! You can read it here.

★ Penelope Douglas put up on her Facebook a snippet of Until You!

“I love you, Jared,” she said breathlessly in my ear, and I closed my eyes.

My heart filled up so much that it hurt.

“We can wait,” I choked out, never in a million years thinking that we could actually stop what was happening.

She shook her head slowly, a little smile played her lips. Lifting the hem of my black t-shirt over my head, she ran her hands down my chest and up my back. I tensed as she fingered the scars on my back.

But then I just let out the breath.

Her hands were going to be on every part of my body sooner or later. May as well get used to it now.

★ Two snippets from Ilona Andrews’ upcoming Avon book, which you can read here and here.

★ Teaser for Fury (The Seven Deadly #3) by Fisher Amelie:

“You messed up,” I said, stealing his words.

Blood curdled from his mouth and I removed my blades as he slid to the ground. I bent and wiped my knives off on his jacket. His mouth opened and shut like a fish out of water but I couldn’t conjure up any compassion for him. Instead, I stood over him and placed my boot over his heaving chest, pressing as much of my weight into him as possible.

“You will burn in fire so scorching you’ll beg for this moment over and over again.”

★ Snippet from Heidi McLaughlin’s Beaumont series #3!

“Are you a fan?”

“Of yours, I am.”

Putty in my hands is what she is. I take another drag and exhale away from her. I’m a dickhead, but at least I have manners. I pull her closer and run my nose along the underside of her jaw inhaling her perfume. It smells sweet and sugary, not feminine at all. It’s a warning sign for me. It’s always the young ones that smell like candy. I can’t be too careful and definitely can’t afford any bad press.

“How old are you?” I ask, pulling back.

“Tonight’s my twenty-first birthday. We had plans until we saw your tweet. We drove an hour to get here.” Maybe I like Twitter after all.

I pick up a few strands of her blonde ponytail and twist them around my finger. She steps closer and puts her hand on my chest. She’s shy. Her hand shakes. She’s expectant even though I can tell she’s never done something like this before.

“Do you want a birthday kiss?” I ask, fully aware of what her answer will be. She nods, biting her lower lip. Her eyes go from mine to my lips and back again. I lean in, taking my time. I want to put her on the edge with just a little kiss, because that’s the game I like to play with the fangirls.

★ Samantha Towle has a teaser for Trouble!

Trouble teaser

★ Another snippet for The Ever After of Ella and Micha by Jessica Sorensen!

Ever After of Ella and Micha teaser

★ Jen McLaughlin has a teaser for Out of Time! You can also read the first chapter here.

Out Of Time Teaser

Other News!!

★ Jamie McGuire (author of Beautiful Disaster) has a novella coming out soon! It’s called A Beautiful Wedding, and it’s book 2.5 of the Beautiful series!

A Beautiful Wedding by Jamie McGuire

You know that Abby Abernathy unexpectedly became Mrs. Maddox. But what do you really know?

Why did Abby pop the question?
What secrets were shared before the ceremony?
Where did they spend their wedding night?
Who else knew about it . . . and didn’t tell?

Everything about Abby and Travis’s elopement was top-secret . . . until now. Fans of Beautiful Disaster and Walking Disaster will get all of their questions answered in this whirlwind tale of the wedding day (and night!)—and as with all good stories, this one will definitely have been worth the wait.

★ Jasinda Wilder has an update on her new series, The Ever Trilogy!

PLEASE don’t hate me, but I’ve come to a difficult decision. I’m nearing the end of the first Ever Trilogy book and I’ve decided I can’t release it. It ends in a way that is very raw and emotional. I’m worried that if book 2 isn’t readily available too many readers would be really upset. SO, I have decided to release both book 1 and book 2 together instead. They will release the week of Christmas. I promise you it will be worth the wait. Thank you ❤

Series reading order:
(#1) Forever & Always
(#2) After Forever
(#3) Saving Forever

Forever & Always by Jasinda Wilder After Forever by Jasinda Wilder Saving Forever by Jasinda Wilder

Update for Kresley Cole fans!

IAD News, new title, schedule. Finally got my schedule firmed up– for now through the fall of 2014 and wanted to pass it along asap:

December 16, we have Part 1 of my steamy new erotica series, The Professional [cough-sexiest thing I’ve ever written-cough] Parts 2 & 3 will follow in January. After that, we’ve got the next IAD installment, Lanthe and Thronos’s story, coming August 5. And the title is . . . DARK SKYE! It’s already available for pre-order! (cover to be revealed early 2014). October brings the third book of the Arcana Chronicles, title to be announced.

I’m really excited about these books and can’t wait for you to read them! More soon!

To pre-order Dark Skye, click here:
Kindle: http://amzn.to/17mV0Hi
iTunes: http://bit.ly/17t4JRA

To pre-order The Professional, click here:
Kindle: http://amzn.to/19dWiFQ
B&N Nook: http://bit.ly/1dp2DBg
iTunes: http://bit.ly/169NdRZ
Thanks so much!

★ Read the bonus chapter from The Edge of Never by J.A. Redmerski here! There are SPOILERS for those who have not yet read the book.

★ ALICE CLAYTON NEWS!! She’ll be writing more books!

Gallery Keeps Clayton At Simon & Schuster’s Gallery Books imprint, Micki Nuding signed a new four-title deal to keep bestseller Alice Clayton at the house. The world-rights MAJOR deal, which Karen Solem at Spencerhill Associates negotiated, is for three full-length books and a novella. The first book, Rusty Nailed, will launch a new series called Cocktail, featuring characters from Clayton’s popular Wallbanger (Gallery, Feb. 2013); it is scheduled for June 2014. Rounding out the series next year will be Screwdrivered and Mai Tai’d Up, set for September and December, respectively.

Read more on her blog here.

★ Play (Stage Dive #2) by Kylie Scott has a blurb!

Mal Ericson, drummer for the world famous rock band Stage Dive, needs to clean up his image fast – at least for a little while. Having a good girl on his arm should do the job just fine. But he didn’t count on exactly how much fun he could have being with the one right girl.

Anne Rollins has money problems. Big ones. But being paid to play the pretend girlfriend to a demented drummer was never going to be a good idea. No matter how hot he is. She’s had her sights set on her male bestie, Reece, for years. And now that she’s supposedly taken, he’s finally paying attention. If only the chemistry between her and her rock star would stop hitting new heights.

Weekly Recap

Reviewed on the blog this week:

Check out my stops on the blog tours for Mine, A Risk Worth Taking, Drift, and Tough Luck!

Mine blog tour button

A Risk Worth Taking banner

DRIFT blog tour

Tough Luck Tour Banner

Don’t forget to check out the giveaways listed on the blog on the right!

Upcoming New Releases

Catch Me by Claire Contreras Cinder by Jessica Sorensen Beautiful Beginning by Christina Lauren World After by Susan Ee The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead Holiday Games by Jaci Burton Torn by Monica Murphy Better by S. Walden Avoiding Decisions by K.A. Linde The Thrill of It by Lauren Blakely Trouble by Samantha Towle Remember When 3 by T. Torrest