Early Review: Tools of Engagement by Tessa Bailey

Tools of Engagement by Tessa Bailey
Series: Hot & Hammered #3 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: September 22nd 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

In Tessa Bailey’s latest rom-com, two enemies team up to flip a house… and the sparks between them might burn the place down or ignite a passion that neither can ignore!

Hair, makeup, clothing, decor… everything in Bethany Castle’s world is organized, planned, and styled to perfection. Which is why the homes she designs for her family’s real estate business are the most coveted in town. The only thing not perfect? Her track record with men. She’s on a dating hiatus and after helping her friends achieve their dreams, Bethany finally has time to focus on her own: flip a house, from framework to furnishings, all by herself. Except her older brother runs the company and refuses to take her seriously.

When a television producer gets wind of the Castle sibling rivalry, they’re invited on Flip Off, a competition to see who can do the best renovation. Bethany wants bragging rights, but she needs a crew and the only member of her brother’s construction team willing to jump ship is Wes Daniels, the new guy in town. His Texas drawl and handsome face got under Bethany’s skin on day one, but the last thing she needs is some cocky young cowboy in her way.

As the race to renovate heats up, Wes and Bethany are forced into close quarters, trading barbs and biting banter as they remodel the ugliest house on the block. It’s a labor of love, hate, and everything in between, and soon sparks are flying. But Bethany’s perfectly structured life is one kiss away from going up in smoke and she knows falling for a guy like Wes would be a flipping disaster.

I’d been so excited for Bethany’s story since the first Hot and Hammered book, and I became even more excited when Wes was introduced in Love Her or Lose Her. As soon as I read about them together and their clashing vibes, I knew I needed to read it. If you love enemies to lovers meets HGTV, with an older heroine/younger hero, you need to read this latest rom-com from Tessa Bailey!

Bethany is the last of the golden trio to get her romance. She’s always come across as self-assured and on top of her life, but the reality couldn’t be farther from the truth. She’s a perfectionist with anxiety, which makes for a terrible combination that constantly has her second guessing herself and her decisions. Which is why it’s taken so long for her to finally leave her family’s construction company to go out on her own. And all of a sudden, she’s swept up in a reality show facing off with her brother to see who can do the best home renovation. To her surprise, alongside her is her nemesis Wes, a man that’s far too young for her who riles her up like no one else.

When I read Tessa Bailey, I always know I’m in for a fun and hot time. She writes the best dirty talking heroes, and though Wes is a bit younger than her typical hero, he can still dish it out like the best of them. I loved seeing Wes with his niece, who he currently has guardianship over. They were too adorable together! And I really enjoyed the way Bethany and Wes had so much fun banter together but also had plenty of meaningful, emotional moments. Their romance was entertaining from the get-go and I’m glad we finally get their story! This is a great finale to the Hot and Hammered series and I’m so sad to be saying goodbye to these characters.


lacey


Reading Order: Hot & Hammered series

#1 ~ Fix Her Up: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#2 ~ Love Her or Lose Her: My ReviewEbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ Tools of Engagement: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads


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Review: Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey

Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey
Series: Hot & Hammered #2 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: January 14th 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

New York Times bestselling author Tessa Bailey returns with a unique, sexy romantic comedy about a young married couple whose rocky relationship needs a serious renovation…

Rosie and Dominic Vega are the perfect couple: high school sweethearts, best friends, madly in love. Well, they used to be anyway. Now Rosie’s lucky to get a caveman grunt from the ex-soldier every time she walks in the door. Dom is faithful and a great provider, but the man she fell in love with ten years ago is nowhere to be found. When her girlfriends encourage Rosie to demand more out of life and pursue her dream of opening a restaurant, she decides to demand more out of love, too. Three words: marriage boot camp.

Never in a million years did Rosie believe her stoic, too-manly-to-emote husband would actually agree to relationship rehab with a weed-smoking hippie. Dom talking about feelings? Sitting on pillows? Communing with nature? Learning love languages? Nope. But to her surprise, he’s all in, and it forces her to admit her own role in their cracked foundation. As they complete one ridiculous—yet surprisingly helpful—assignment after another, their remodeled relationship gets stronger than ever. Except just as they’re getting back on track, Rosie discovers Dom has a secret… and it could demolish everything.

YAASSSSSS!!!! The hype for Rosie and Dominic was REAL ever since I read Fix Her Up. I was expecting all the good angst and groveling in Love Her or Lose Her and Tessa Bailey gave all that to me and then some. I did have my frustrations with Dominic but I loved him (and Rosie) anyway. This was SO MUCH FUN to read and I have to say I loved it even more than FHU. The heartache, the humor, the sexy times… all of it together made a fantastic read. And if you’re expecting your classic TB alpha, dirty-talking hero, look no further than Dominic.

My favorite kinds of romance tropes are ones where the main characters have some sort of history together: second chance romance, friends to lovers, the brother’s best friend romance, etc. And of course, the already married couple trope! (Honestly, I’m not sure if that’s what the trope is called but we’ll go with that.) I’ve read some amazing romances where the hero and heroine are already married (and not in a marriage of convenience) at the beginning of the novel and I’m so glad to say Love Her or Lose Her is another hit to add to my list. Rosie and Dominic are high school sweethearts, but their marriage has fallen on the rocks ever since Dominic came back from his time in the army. He doesn’t communicate with Rosie anymore and she’s about had enough. She wants a divorce, Dominic doesn’t, they’re still completely in love with one another… so what do they have left? Marriage couples counseling.

“You really thought I wouldn’t take any chance—any chance—to get you back, didn’t you?” His voice roughened. “Fuck, Rosie. You can’t be serious.”

I just adored Rosie and Dominic and their path to an HEA (again). They both have their own journeys, Rosie with her career and passion for cooking, Dominic with learning how to communicate, but together is where they truly shine. You can clearly tell how much these two are meant to be together and I loved getting to be a part of that experience.

“I’ll do anything you ask me to do,” he said in a gravelly voice. “Except walk away.”

Tessa Bailey is one of my all-time favorite authors and rarely does she let me down. She always gives me exactly what I expect (a kickass heroine, obsessed alpha hero, all the steam) and she absolutely delivers with this newest release! Right now, I’m dying for Bethany’s story, and if you’ve read this book, then you know who her enemies-to-lovers romance will be with!


lacey


Reading Order: Hot & Hammered series

#1 ~ Fix Her Up: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#2 ~ Love Her or Lose Her: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ Tools of Engagement: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads


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Review: Getaway Girl by Tessa Bailey

Getaway Girl by Tessa Bailey
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: March 26th 2018
Links: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

This unlikely getaway driver never expected to help the mayor escape…

After a six-year absence, Addison Potts is back in Charleston to stir things up. And what better place to make her villainous return than her estranged cousin’s wedding? Only, the nuptials hit a snag when the bride doesn’t show, leaving Addison to play getaway driver for the jilted groom. A groom whose heartbreaking smile and deep, southern drawl she should not be noticing…

Elijah Montgomery Du Pont is the future mayor of Charleston. From his military career to city hall, every detail of his life has been meticulously planned. Until now. His only respite from life’s sudden upheaval is Addison, his new, improbable best friend. She makes him happy. Grounds him. And public disapproval be damned, he’s not willing to give her up. But with an election on the line and public pressure rising, Addison—and the cruel hand of fate—might not give him a choice.

I’ve found a new book to add to my favorites of 2018 list, and Getaway Girl is IT! I absolutely LOVED this friends to lovers romance!! We have a mayor hero who’s self-conscious about his bubble butt and a fierce, dirty-talking heroine who saves him after his bride ditches him at the altar. It’s sweet, incredibly sexy (it’s Tessa Bailey, after all) and all-around the perfect friends to lovers romance – I highly recommend this for those who love trope!

I have a friend. A completely platonic, non-romantic one.
But occasionally I rub one out to her.

When Addison Potts moves back to Charleston and attends her estranged cousin’s wedding, the last thing she expects is be the getaway car for the jilted groom, one Captain Elijah Montgomery Du Pont, candidate for mayor. There’s just something about Elijah that pulls Addison, and she couldn’t resist helping him out. The two strike up the most unlikeliest of friendships – as a candidate for mayor, Elijah is expected to keep up appearances as the perfect Southern gentleman, which he is. Addison, on the other hand, is the black sheep of the family and town. But these two characters GET each other and are able to connect in a way they’ve never been able to connect with anyone else. Somehow, they end up being roommates, then friends… but is there possibly more?

“You own this city now, Mr. Mayor. Right now, that includes what’s under my dress.”

The tension throughout the book was divine. Elijah and Addison connect on the friendship level, yes, but there’s always an underlying sexual chemistry that’s hard to ignore. They struggle not to cross the line into something more, but when their dynamic is fun, witty, and flirty, it’s hard to know where the line even is. Tessa Bailey had me DYING for Addison and the Captain to just do the deed – this is one author who knows how to write sexual tension right. And when the line is crossed… let me tell you, the dirty talking queen doesn’t disappoint. I loved that the heroine was main dirty talker in this case, though Elijah could definitely dish some out too. The passion and intensity between these two was perfection!

“You have my heart. You have my soul. And you’re the first and land person to ever have either one. I love you first. And last. I’ve only got this feeling for you. No one else. Never. Do you hear me?”

If you love the friends to lovers trope, I can’t recommend Getaway Girl enough. I adored the characters, the story had me hooked, and the chemistry was off the charts. I also loved that this was in dual first-person POV. Tessa definitely has a knack for it, and I really hope she gives us more of it! Also… can we please have a story for Addison’s cousin, the runaway bride!?


lacey

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


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ARC Review + Excerpt: Follow by Tessa Bailey

Follow by Tessa Bailey
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: October 30th 2017
Links: Ebook • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

He wants her soul. Too bad she already sold it.

Family is everything to gambling den darling, Teresa Valentini. Blood comes first, especially before men. So when her brother lands himself in hot water, she’s willing to do whatever it takes to save him. And showing up topless in her unwitting savior’s motel room is turning out to be the furthest thing from a hardship…

Will Caruso is the bad boy of New York’s financial scene…and he just found out the very thing that drives his success is a damn lie. Now, he’s exchanged his high-stress life for the open road, no one but his Great Dane…and half a million Instagram followers to keep him company. When a mysterious beauty arrives, her secrecy prods his suspicions, even while she tempts his lust to the breaking point.

Teresa met Will under false pretenses, but the bond consuming them is real. They’re strong enough to overcome a little betrayal…aren’t they?

**FOLLOW is a mega hot, contemporary, first person standalone**

You know those Instagrams of gorgeous men who document their road trips with their dogs? Well, imagine a romance story for one of those men, and you have the wonder that is Follow. Of course, only Tessa Bailey could write about a hero who Instagrams his road trip with his dying dog and make it as fun and sexy and intense as this book is. If you know me, then you know I adore anything and everything Tessa writes – she has yet to disappoint, because I enjoyed Follow SO much. It gave off a vibe that reminded me a bit of her earlier works, like the Line of Duty series (which I LOVE). If you love dirty-talking alpha heroes and the heroines who knock them off their feet, then I highly recommend Follow (and every other Tessa Bailey book)!

“I might take you to fancy hotels, baby. Might walk you through those elegant lobbies and demand you be treated like a queen.” He drops forward, bending down to lick a path between my breasts, up and down. Again and again, before lifting his head. “But I will always be the man who fucks you nasty on the floor once we’re upstairs, with your thong twisted around your dripping cunt. We clear?”

Very much the Wall Street man, Will Caruso’s life was turned upside down when he discovered the truth about his father… and how he was lied to his whole life. Now, as a last wish for his beloved, dying Great Dane, he sets out on a road trip with Southpaw across the U.S., commemorating their journey on Instagram (and getting a TON of followers). What he doesn’t expect to see at one of his stops is a gorgeous woman who makes his heart stop and riles up his newly possessive instincts. Teresa Valentini is an enigma of a woman, but she’s a woman he has to have.

Teresa is mine. My bones know it. My head. Even the heart I thought was too damaged and scabbed over to be touched knows she belongs with me.
The hard part is being patient while she figures it out.

Teresa’s baby brother has landed himself into trouble with the one and only mob boss of New York, so she does what any good older sister would do and try to bargain for his safety. She’s tasked with getting the mob boss’s son back to New York in any way possible, including false pretenses. But the mob boss’s son, Will, is a man who loves his dog, can dirty talk like a mofo, and knows what he wants out of life – i.e., her – and is willing to do anything to have it. She can’t stop herself from falling head over heels for him, but can they have a real relationship when everything between them is based off a lie?

Follow is a fantastically sexy romance I devoured in a few short hours. Tessa Bailey is the kind of author I drop everything to read, because she never lets me down! This newest release is chock-full of the dirty talk she is known for – Will’s dirty talk is scorching. But besides the fiery chemistry, I really did enjoy the characters and story – it’s intense, exciting, and had me on the edge of my seat. If you’ve ever wanted a romance about a gorgeous guy who Instagrams about his cross-country adventures with his dog, you need Follow in your life!


lacey

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


Now here’s an excerpt from Follow! ❤

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“Here we are.”

My face heats over being caught even imagining such things. We’re at my door and I have no recollection of entering the motel. Come on, Teresa. Stop letting this guy get to you so bad. “Right.” I fish for the key card in my pocket, but cease all movement when Will brushes his fingertips down my arm, then trails them back up. Slow. And all the while, he invades my space, eliminating inches at such a leisurely pace that I’m panting by the time our mouths are a breath apart.

“What are you going to do when I close this door behind you, Teresa?” He grazes my bottom lip with his teeth, making me gasp. “You going to get undressed in front of the air conditioner, thinking it might cool you down after teasing my cock for over an hour in the bar? It won’t. I give you five minutes before you’re face down in bed, riding your own fingers.”

My knees threaten to buckle. “That’s my business.”

“Make it mine.”

Mayday. Mayday. “Will—”

He stops my admonishment with a drugging kiss, his tongue stroking in and out of my mouth. His hands grip my elbows, lifting me up on my toes in desperate degrees, meshing our bodies, our lips, until I’m moaning, letting him have rough intercourse with my mouth. Just when I’m on the verge of giving in and begging him to take me up against the door, he steps back, eyes glittering, wiping away the moisture on his mouth with a wrist swipe. “I’ll be out on the balcony. If you’re going to finger yourself in my honor, I want to listen.”


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Release Week Blitz + Top 5 List, Excerpt & Giveaway: Too Beautiful to Break by Tessa Bailey

Happy release day to Tessa Bailey – Too Beautiful to Break is now live!! Check out Tessa’s top 5 Belmont moments, an excerpt, and a giveaway below!

Top 5 Belmont Moments

Hello! Thank you for having me! This is such a tough question. I’m going to pick my top five Belmont moments from throughout the series, because I can’t confine them to one book. Here we go!

  1. In TOO HOT TO HANDLE: When Sage shows up in New Mexico. She has recently cut her bangs and Belmont tells her he doesn’t like them, because if they grow longer they’ll hide her eyes from him.
  2. In TOO WILD TO TAME: When Aaron shows up after breaking up with Grace, demanding Belmont punch him in the face. But Belmont pulls him into a bear hug, instead.
  3. In TOO HARD TO FORGET: When Belmont runs into Elliott for the first time, knowing Elliott has broken his sister’s heart. He gets in Elliott’s face and says, “You didn’t really see her. You still don’t. You’ll get no sympathy from me.” It was such a heroic moment and I loved that he stepped up and played champion to Peggy. She needed it. And it proved how much Belmont pays attention—he knew Peggy was special and had a lot going on under her surface.
  4. In TOO BEAUTIFUL TO BREAK: When he arrives at Sage’s parents’ house and they ask who he is. He says, “I’m your daughter’s…I’m your daughter’s.”
  5. In TOO BEAUTIFUL TO BREAK: You’re going to have to trust me on this one…but I think my favorite scene is when he goes shopping for condoms! It was so unusual for Belmont to perform that kind of every day task and I loved writing it.

Too Beautiful to Break by Tessa Bailey
Series: Romancing the Clarksons #4 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: September 26th 2017
Add to Goodreads

A love of a lifetime . . .

Leaving Belmont Clarkson is the hardest thing Sage Alexander has ever done. From the moment they met, she knew Belmont was the one, and getting up close and personal with him on his family’s epic road trip has taken her desire to a new, even hotter level. But there’s no way she can go there—not without revealing secrets that could devastate them both.

Losing Sage is not an option. Belmont’s heart is hers, has always been hers. He knows she’s hiding something from him, but nothing will stand in his way of telling her just how much she means to him. Finding her is easy—saving her from her past could cost him everything.

Buy Links:
Amazon • Barnes & Noble • Books-A-Million • Google Play • iBooks • Indiebound • Kobo

Now here’s an excerpt from Too Beautiful to Break! ❤

excerpt button

“You don’t have to leave right away,” Sage said when Belmont turned, watching her from beneath his eyebrows. “Can you wait here while I take a quick shower?”

Maybe that hadn’t been the right thing to say. His big back heaved and the touch of his tongue in her mouth came crashing in like a behemoth wave. They had crossed an unspoken boundary on the train platform. There was no going back to before, to when they stopped at rough, crushing embraces. As if that hadn’t been…more than sexual somehow.

“Yes, I’ll wait,” he said, his voice sounding like serrated metal. “I can light the fire for you.”

I’ll say. God, why did everything sound like an innuendo now? If her body weren’t flush and sweating beneath the jumpsuit, she would have laughed about it. But there was nothing funny about having Belmont looming mere yards away, looking like one word of encouragement would snap his chain and send him barreling toward her. “That would be perfect. I’ll just be…a few minutes.”

Sage all but dove into the itty-bitty bathroom, pressing her back up against the door and willing her racing heart to calm down. Why had she asked him to stay? Her resolve would weaken with every passing second. Biting down on her lower lip, she began the excruciating task of lowering the zipper of her jumpsuit, which kicked up a protest in her triceps and shoulder muscles. When she finally got it down, she gripped the hem of her T-shirt and attempted to lift it over her head.

Her arms wouldn’t cooperate. They flat out wouldn’t rise any higher than her ribs, leaving the T-shirt suspended in midair. Her muscles burned like someone had doused them in lighter fluid and held them above a flame. Sage’s agony must have escaped in the form of a whimper, because Belmont’s boots scraped just outside the door. And her stomach hollowed with awareness, lightning racing all over her skin.

“Sage.” His voice was deep, urgent. “Do you need help?”

No. Say no. She’d only gotten finished reminding him she didn’t need him. But in this case, it would be a lie and she’d done so much of that lately. With Belmont. The most truthful person she knew. “I can’t get my shirt off.” Her nose started to ache, the tip probably turning red. “My arms hurt.”

His growl was short and broken. A beat passed before the door opened and she felt Belmont filling the doorway behind her. She flicked a glance up to the ancient mirror and confirmed what she’d seen in her mind’s eyes. Belmont towering over her like an avenging angel, outlined by candlelight. He’d taken off his coat, leaving him in a black long-sleeved shirt, which he’d rolled up to the elbows. Every inch of visible skin was shot through with strained cords of muscle, as if his frustration were written on him like a road map.

Sage still had the shirt halfway lifted, so her lower back was visible. Not a big deal to most people. But Belmont had never seen anything below her neck. Or above her knees. With the jumpsuit peeled halfway down, the band of her underwear might even be peeking out.

Breathing grew difficult as Belmont took one step closer and took hold of the T-shirt, his knuckles grazing the small of her back. “You’re wearing”—his breath ghosted down her neck—“my shirt.”

Sage only realized she’d closed her eyes when they popped open. Oh God. In the shock of Belmont arriving, she’d forgotten. “I am?” Her mouth was parched. “L-look at that.”

“I am looking.” She jumped when Belmont reached over her shoulder with his left hand and turned on the shower, the sound of spray filling the room. Then the roughness of his knuckles returned, sliding up her spine along with the shirt. “I like knowing there was a layer of me standing between you and the earth.”

Her legs took on the consistency of Jell-O. His touch was a drug, making her languid, although it was different than the way he usually touched her. There was sex this time. So much of it. And it was that major difference that allowed Sage to accept the skimming of his fingers. Accept the part of herself that lusted. They were in a dark room and time had surely suspended anywhere outside this little plot of square footage. Words ached to leave her mouth, words that wouldn’t be suitable in the sunlight. This man, so warm and brave and large at her back, knew things about her no one else did. What was one more secret? “I stole it out of your suitcase. I broke a commandment and everything.”

“Why?” He breathed into her hair, sinking heat like an anchor in her belly. The shirt came off, her arms dropped to her sides, and she was left in nothing but a bra from the waist up. Inches from Belmont. “Why, sweetest girl?”

A light steam had begun curling in the air like beckoning fingers. Maybe this is a dream. It felt like one of the fevered fantasies she woke from on occasion, sweat slicking her breasts and neck. “Because I like the way you smell and it hadn’t been washed.”

His exhale was gravelly. “Sage.

“Yes.”

She thought he might not respond, but finally he asked a question that made her nipples turn to hard points. “Can you manage”—a long, windy inhale—“the bra?”

Sage tried. She really, truly did. Her arms felt as though they might break off and hit the floor, but she reached back until her muscles locked up, refusing to move farther. But Belmont was already there, pushing them back down, holding them at her hips.

Jesus. Please, stop. I can’t watch it.” His touch disappeared only for a second and then the cotton material of the bra tightened over her breasts. She could feel him working the back clasp with fingers she knew so well. They’d tunneled through her hair so many times, twisted in her clothing, but had never, ever, touched her with any kind of…intent. Intent to seduce. And that’s what he was doing, intentional or not. The inhibitions she’d held close forever, circled the drain, along with the shower water. “Your back is so beautiful.” A ghost of a fingertip traced down her spine. “But I need to leave before I—”

“What?”

“Before I turn you around.” They weren’t touching, but she could sense the shudder that ran through him. “Or look in that mirror.”

Right or wrong, the mine, their codependency aside, Sage knew if she let him leave just then, she would regret it for all time. Her body had been woken up. By one man. He’d kept her on the razor’s edge for thousands of miles, surrounding her with his power and taking it away. Over and over. And this fever wrapping around them in the tiny bathroom was completely different from easing his anxiety. Finally, she felt like a woman standing in front of him, instead of a calming device. This was mutual and alive and she couldn’t stand it to end. Tomorrow might be a different story, but this moment was the culmination of a thousand dreams and she could no more deny herself than she could forget his face.

“Belmont, do you think of the kiss?”

I never stop,” he groaned into her hair. “Never.”

She took a deep breath for courage. “Will you shower with me?”

Reading Order: Romancing the Clarksons series

 
  

#1 ~ Too Hot to Handle: My Review • EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads
#2 ~ Too Wild to Tame: My Review • EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads
#3 ~ Too Hard to Forget: My Review • EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads
#3.5 ~ Too Close to Call: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#4 ~ Too Beautiful to Break: EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads

about the author button

Tessa BaileyTessa Bailey is originally from Carlsbad, California. The day after high school graduation, she packed her yearbook, ripped jeans, and laptop, and drove cross-country to New York City in under four days. Her most valuable life experiences were learned thereafter while waitressing at K-Dees, a Manhattan pub owned by her uncle. Inside those four walls, she met her husband, best friend, and discovered the magic of classic rock, managing to put herself through Kingsborough Community College and the English program at Pace University at the same time. Several stunted attempts to enter the work force as a journalist followed, but romance writing continued to demand her attention.

She now lives in Long Island, New York with her husband and daughter. Although she is severely sleep-deprived, she is incredibly happy to be living her dream of writing about people falling in love.

Website • Facebook • Twitter • Instagram • Goodreads

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