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Heart owning: our author explains

He Owns My Heart Genres: Book Cover He Owns My Heart Genres:
(Owned Heart, Body, & Soul #1)
Evie Drae
Adult, Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Romance
Clandesdyne
Publication date: August 11th 2020

Only true love can free a captive heart. Landon Jenks, retired four-time Golden Glove-winning shortstop for the Chicago Cubs, is lonely, heartbroken, and in desperate need of simple human contact. Trapped in the sticky fine print of an ironclad contract that forbids him from revealing his very-much-single status until the season finale of his reality show airs, he calls an elite male escort service that caters to the rich and wretched. Accustomed to servicing his often less than savory clients at more upscale locales, twenty-six-year-old Toby Carmichael is surprised when his handler sends him to a run-down motel off I-55. But “surprise” doesn’t come close to describing the shock that rocks his system when a delightful stuttering mess covered in tattoos and nearly ten years his senior stumbles into the room—and right into his heart. For the first time since Toby was forced into the life of prostitution, a kiss sparks a desire that has nothing to do with money and everything to do with genuine chemistry and the faintest beginnings of something so much more. But Toby’s dark past and troubled present make it impossible to see a future with Landon. And when the truth comes to light, a horrified and helpless Landon is determined to save Toby at all costs. Content Warnings: Discussion of childhood verbal abuse by an adult survivor, homophobia from a close family member, discussion of previous self-harm/cutting behaviors by an adult survivor, prostitution with dubious consent (all interactions between the main characters have full consent and there are no on-page depictions of dub-con situations), consensual and experimental Domination/submission play between mostly-novice characters, mild violence between a main character and antagonist, and human trafficking associated with illegal drugs (nothing explicit on-page, only discussions related to and psychological/mental ramifications of addressed in moderate detail).  

Once upon a time, I used to consider myself a pantser. The idea of outlining gave me the writerly heebie jeebies. However, it was this story in particular that turned the tides on my aversion to plotting and planning. When I first set out to write Toby and Landon’s story, it was following a “dare” of sorts from a writing friend of mine who was trying to help me get out of a slump. She had recently discovered the joys of authoring short stories and challenged me to write one of my own. I agreed and decided to use a couple of characters who had been banging around my head for a while at that point. I thought their story could be told in a simple linear fashion without too much diversion into deep emotion or side plots. At the time, neither of them had spoken to me beyond the idea of a hot hotel tryst between a celebrity trying to maintain anonymity and the escort he hired for an evening of company.

The problem came once I really got to know the characters and realized, quite quickly, that their story couldn’t be told in the breadth of a short story. In fact, the deeper I got into their world, the more they had to say. By the time I’d wrapped up the very poorly paced short, I realized—for the first time ever—that I had to start back at the beginning… and actually do an outline. A few months of stress and overthinking later, and my short story had turned into a highly detailed and planned out trilogy, complete with an overarching story arc that I positively cannot wait to share with the world.

Toby and Landon were originally going to have a pretty easy go of it. I was going to follow the prostitute-finds-love-and-quits-his-job trope with minimal tension or conflict. You know, the necessary level of angst associated with novella-length stories. However, their journey has taken a much different path now that it’s been stretched into three books with distinct and involved storylines all their own. Above all else, I’m most excited about depicting Toby and Landon’s voyage into the world of BDSM. As a member of the lifestyle myself, I’m thrilled to portray a relationship where domination and submission plays a role in not only building their bond, but also in providing a place for healing, communication, and personal as well as relationship-based growth.

About the Author

Evie Drae is a registered nurse by day and an award-winning male/male romance writer by night. She has won first place in seven Romance Writers of America® (RWA®) competitions, including the prestigious title “Best of the Best” in the 2018 Golden Opportunity Contest. She is a double finalist in the 2019 Golden Heart®, in both the Contemporary Romance and Romantic Suspense categories, and finished as a second-place runner-up in four additional RWA contests.

One of Evie’s favorite things to do is encourage her fellow writers. To that end, she started the #writeLGBTQ and #promoLGBTQ hashtags on Twitter to support and promote LGBTQ+ authors and allies while providing a safe space to connect and grow as a community. She is married to the love of her life, is the mother of three wonderful fur babies, and runs almost entirely on coffee and good vibes.

Evie loves to link up with fellow writers and readers. You can reach her directly at EvieDrae@gmail.com or find her on her social media accounts listed below. Twitter is where she’s most active but be sure to check out her blog too. She focuses on reviews for LGBTQ+ authors and allies with the occasional quirky advice/recommendation post just to toss things up.

https://www.facebook.com/eviedraeauthor

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Rich and?

Marrying My Billionaire Hookup
Nadia Lee
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Contemporary, Romance
Four Isles Press
Publication date: September 12th 2020

If any of my over-protective brothers ask, I’m pregnant via immaculate conception. Otherwise, the baby I’m carrying could be the death of one hot billionaire…

Jo

After a succession of relationships bad enough to set a Guinness World Record, running into a ruggedly handsome billionaire feels like a sign. Edgar is from out of town, mesmerizing, and his voice reminds me of Louisiana heat. Just listening to him makes my toes curl. So I throw aside all caution and spend the hottest night of my life in his bed, knowing we’ll never see each other again.

Until a positive pregnancy test brings him back into my life. And now he only wants to marry me to do right by the baby, but here’s the thing…

I’ll never settle. I want what my parents have: true love. Nothing — not even the electric chemistry that crackles every time Edgar and I are together — will deter me from that goal.

Edgar

Love is like alcohol. It destroys clarity and impairs judgment. I’ve seen my parents making one bad decision after another in the name of love, destroying our family.

But Jo wants love before she’ll marry me. So I’ll approximate it. Unlike my father, I’ll make sure my child knows she’s cherished (contrary to what Jo thinks, I know it’s a girl). I’m too sensible to fall in love and disrupt my already well-ordered life, even though every second I spend with her feels like skydiving without a parachute…

Excerpt

At the main door, I run into Yuna Hae, the party’s hostess. Her auburn hair is down, and she is in the cutest Chanel dress and shoes. I’ve never seen her look or dress badly—not that I’ve known her for long—and nothing hides her bubbly personality.

She hugs me. “Hey, you made it!”

“I wouldn’t miss this for the world!” I say, hugging her back. “Is Kim here yet?”

“Nope. She’s being fashionably late, no doubt. But that doesn’t mean we don’t get to hang out and have fun! Come on, let me introduce you to some people.” She gestures, pulling me toward the center of the foyer. “You have no idea how thrilled I am because all of my favorite people are here, even Edgar.”

“Edgar?”

“Edgar Blackwood. Tony’s older brother. He spends almost all his time running the family business in Louisiana, you know. But I bet he wanted the special treat I prepared!” She waggles her eyebrows.

“A special treat? Like…a cake or something?”

“Oh, you’ll be amazed. It’s awesome.” She taps the back of a tall, dark-haired man. He’s talking with someone, but he turns around, green eyes sharp with interest.

I recognize him instantly. Anthony Blackwood. He’s pretty famous—and infamous—and not only due to his family scandal. He owns some of the best and most popular clubs in the world, including Z here in L.A.

He doesn’t seem as cold as his reputation would suggest, although he’s just as well dressed as the pictures I’ve seen. He’s very handsome, his features finely carved. If it weren’t for the firm lines of his lips and jaw, he’d be pretty.

“Tony, say hello to my friend, Jo Martinez. Jo, Anthony Blackwood.”

He shakes my hand firmly. “Anthony. Pleasure to meet you.”

“The pleasure’s mine,” I say.

“Ivy’s talked about you. She always appreciates your help.”

My smile grows more genuine. “She’s so lovely.” It’s true. She’s one of the nicest people to work for.

“Have you met my brother?” He gestures at the man he was talking with, who comes half a step closer.

Anthony is certainly handsome enough, but his brother is…

Wow.

Normally I think clothes make the man, wielding the presence he needs if they have the right combination of color, material and cut. But in this case, clothes seem to be an afterthought. He’s tall, with magnificently broad shoulders that signal power and dominance. He stands with perfect posture, his back straight, his head angled just so to show the bold lines of his facial bones. His features aren’t as elegantly carved as Anthony’s, but there’s rawness to them that’s utterly masculine and hot. And his eyes… They’re green like Anthony’s, but different. Darker, deeper and completely controlled without being cold.

I wonder what they’d look like when they aren’t so controlled…

Suddenly, the place feels too hot.

My “no” to Anthony’s question comes out a near-breathless whisper. I clear my throat and add, “I don’t believe so,” then extend my hand. “Jo Martinez.”

“Edgar,” he says, with a hint of a Southern drawl. “Edgar Blackwood.” Dios mío, that voice that should be illegal. It brushes over me, as decadent as velvet, and I suppress a shiver as sensation seems to pool between my legs. How in the world is he making his name sound like my dirtiest fantasy? My grandmother would say he’s sold his soul to the devil.

He takes my hand in a soft fingers-only grip and gently pumps it twice. The contact sends a tingle up my arm, making my neck heat.

“Charmed,” he says.

“Ooh, how nice. Is that what Louisiana gentlemen say when they meet a lady?”

The green eyes crinkle slightly. “Depends on the lady.”

Oh my God. I bet tons of women sigh over him and make fools of themselves. I don’t want to be a cliché he won’t even remember two seconds from now.

But then I feel it… The soft, slow drag of his fingertips as though he loathes to let me go. And although he’s looking at me calmly enough, I can see a glimmer of heat in his eyes.

So this is a two-way street. And I can see that he knows it. We share a moment that Anthony and Yuna are not privy to, even though they’re standing right beside us.

Solemn and somber is not my type. Usually I date men who are easygoing and don’t take themselves or anyone else too seriously.

But maybe he just takes his responsibilities seriously. If I remember correctly, he’s the eldest Blackwood brother. Rafael acts like the weight of the world rests on his shoulders, so that makes sense. I wonder what Edgar’s like in bed. Is he still serious, even when he’s naked and hard? Does he direct all that serious attention to licking and stroking and fucking?

I try to tamp down a vivid mental movie of Edgar doing exactly that, but desire sparks anyway. I don’t get it. I’m not the type to mind-strip a man I just met and fantasize about him. I’ve had plenty of hot male clients, and none of them made my hormones spin out of control.

“Would you like to get a drink?” he says, holding my eyes.

If you ask me in that voice, the answer will always be…

“Yes.”

Author Bio

NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY bestselling author Nadia Lee writes sexy, emotional contemporary romance. Born with a love for excellent food, travel and adventure, she has lived in four different countries, kissed stingrays, been bitten by a shark, ridden an elephant and petted tigers.

Currently, she shares a condo overlooking a small river and sakura trees in Japan with her husband and son. When she’s not writing, she can be found reading books by her favorite authors or planning another trip.

Stay in touch with her via her website http://www.nadialee.net/ or her blog http://www.nadialee.net/blog

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3247259.Nadia_Lee

https://www.facebook.com/NadiaLeeWrites

https://www.instagram.com/nadialeewrites/

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Department store makeup?

Someday at Christmas Book Cover Someday at Christmas
Lizzie Byron
Fiction
Hachette UK
September 3, 2020
400

Enter the magical world of Duke & Sons department store, with this enchanting and laugh-out-loud funny romcom from Lizzie Byron, perfect for fans of Mhairi McFarlane, Jenny Colgan and Beth O'Leary! Shell Smith is the most popular make-up artist on the ART counter at Duke & Sons, a beautiful but old-fashioned department store in her hometown. But whilst Shell's love life is looking up, now that her long-time crush Nick is back in town and business is booming in the beauty department, the rest of the store is noticeably quiet . . . The owner's grandson Callum has come up with some creative ways to keep Duke & Sons afloat this Christmas, including allowing a production company to film a romcom after hours. When Shell discovers the secret, Callum recruits her to help out and, in the process, Shell finds there is more to Mr Duke Jr. than sharp suits and a business-like demeanour. Change is coming and romance is in the air for Shell during this most wonderful time of the year. Except real life is nothing like a Christmas romcom . . . right?

Here we have a small town with an old-fashioned department store.

As we are all too aware these days, department stores are struggling and they need everything they can offer to help them make it into the next few years of consumer choice- adding to the experience of shopping seems to be the way forward.

I only use a department store myself for 2 things: 1. A personal shopper – for which they don’t charge; and 2. An occasional  quick facial – for which I usually pay £15 and then I purchase – often – some new item. But I never get the money I paid back in purchases! But then nearly every shop assistant in these beauty brands gets a bonus on sales so…

This store is very old fashioned in that people are salaried without bonuses on sales – except that the more funky make-up brands begin to offer their sales assistants interesting prizes if they do well. Take a look at the Gucci pink Marmont bag!

I do like to look at the funky brands myself – a cabinet full of items just for eyebrows for instance.  And lots of new products. Always coming out. The beauty department is where I gravitate! To it makes sense that this store should use it to help bring itself into a new age.

A sweet romance in the trope .

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Hard? Or Easy? You Choose.

Hard Knox
(Perfect Stats, #2)
Amber Malloy
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publication date: June 16th 2020

Superstar Gavin Knox wins at everything. However, once he scores the girl of his dreams, he’s suddenly in danger of losing the one thing he has always needed. Before she can slip through his fingers, he offers her a deal she can’t refuse—marry him for Canadian citizenship, which will protect her, and after five years, they can divorce. Knox is positive that she will fall head over heels in love with him, but it doesn’t happen. After six years of marriage, two playoff titles and a third on the way, Knox is forced to contend with a successful wife almost more famous than he is. 

Determined to get exactly what he wants, which includes having Remy and a family, he devises a stupid scheme that puts everything he’s worked so hard for in jeopardy..

Everything comes easy to quarterback Gavin Knox—women, football, even money. However, the only thing he truly wants but can’t win is the beauty of his dreams, Remy Bell.

A simple favor to save the girl turns into the quarterback losing his heart.

As beautiful as she is fun, Remy Bell has only one problem—a psychotic killer with political power wants her dead. Always a ‘two steps ahead’ type of gal, she plans to outrun the maniac. Marriage and a sweet life in the football star’s hometown in Canada would give her the cover she needs, but Remy doesn’t stick around long enough to find out. She travels all over the world, photographing the most beautiful and devastating events, but her now-husband’s tabloid activities lead her to the one place she should avoid…back home.

Review:

I began to find Remy’s double life and her secrets just too annoying in the end to give this book he final star it should have had.

The general trope of the football star and the not-groupie wife worked for me, for a while, but he came across as ‘thick’ despite the degree – in that he knew her problem and yet hadn’t set up the stashes of cash and IDs for her, that any good spy/terrorist etc has. ok, maybe bank accounts would not work, but why was she taking money out of her accounts and not his? He should have set up boltholes all over Canada, apart from his family farmhouse, and other French speaking countries friendly to Canada! and where were the disguises? The wigs?

So for me, this story failed on the plot but not on the writing style. I liked the style but …

Purchase:

iBooks: https://books.apple.com/ca/book/hard-knox/id1511789170?mt=11&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/hard-knox-4

AUTHOR BIO:

Amber Malloy dreamed of being a double agent but couldn’t pass the psyche evaluation. Crushed by despair that she couldn’t legally shoot things, Amber pursued her second career choice as pastry chef. When she’s not writing or whipping up a mean Snickers Cheesecake, she occasionally spies on her sommelier. Amber is convinced he’s faking his French accent.


Author links:

https://www.facebook.com/Author-Amber-Malloy-629130400516625/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8203830.Amber_Malloy

 iBooks Kobo

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Not so much a holiday…

A Goan Holiday: Contemporary Fiction With A Romantic Bent. Book Cover A Goan Holiday: Contemporary Fiction With A Romantic Bent.
Anitha Perinchery
Fiction, Contemporary Romance
Anitha Perinchery
November 25, 2019
558

Have you ever looked through faded, old photographs and wondered what if? Has your heart ever brought to you the memory of a lost love, the bittersweet remembrances of a college romance? Have you even once yearned to return to a time less complicated? A Goan Holiday is that story of second chances. Meet Rishi, Joe, and Anjali. There are other friends in their group--a total of seven. The gang met as medical students in Delhi. The whole universe was ahead of them until one terrible week in November 2008 changed everything. One of them disappeared, leaving the others confused and devastated. Eleven years later, they meet again by chance in Goa. Will Joe finally tell them what happened to make him walk away? Will Rishi discover who's blackmailing him over a mistake from so long ago? Will Anjali find the strength to be the person she wants and not what's expected of her? Read A Goan Holiday to find out. _________________________________________ Mysterious Exes, Nosy Neighbours, the Cops at Her Door, and a Job She Never Asked For... Anjali"s Life Is One Hot Mess. From the INTERPOL database: Target 1: Anjali Joshi. Doctor; manages a rundown charity clinic in a Goan town which may or may not be a front for criminal operations. Target 2: Rishabh Rastogi, the sizzling ex-husband whose name somehow keeps popping up in connection with the investigation into the clinic. Target 3: Joe D'Acosta, the brooding former boyfriend who resurfaces after vanishing without a trace eleven years ago following a visit to the clinic. Complication: Ha! As in just one complication? Let's start with the fact both the exes want Anjali back. Then, there's the nosy neighbour who thinks Anjali is keeping a male harem and is trying to drive her out of town. Operation: (going down the drain... kidding... maybe...) A Goan Holiday.

This is a love story with a difference – and what a difference. Yes we have the usual rich girl meets poor boy – there are problems – they get separated – she gets married to someone else – and then he comes back no longer poor, but there it stops. And there is no holiday involved – so title is weird.

In between we have all the issues that India faces culturally, socially and economically. Not to mention marriage between people of different races and religions and sexuality.

This book covers all the above, plus! And the plus is what makes this story stand out – the plus being organ smuggling – although we don’t know that at the start – corruption of politicians, police and medical staff at all levels.

We move across cultures as we go from Goa – just before and after the Portuguese leave their colony and the inter-racial and inter-religions marriages that led to, including skin colour – remembering that pale is ‘better’, and Goa’s reincarnation as a hippie destination for free love and drugs; to Mumbai which is not quite as liberal but is rich and urbane; to Delhi, which is neither rich nor urbane but very conservative in its values and mores. Delhi being the place where we recently heard of the terrible case where a girl on a bus was gang raped – girls on their own we/a/re seen as fair game – and we have that reflected here in the story with other women believing that a woman living alone, and having male visitors, is clearly running a brothel! Little things like this enhance the truth of the culture clashes between older India and modern India.

India has many well educated women – and many Indian women here in the UK keep on taking degrees as, was confided to me once, their bridal value increases with a degree – and also it puts off the wedding! Which is still often arranged.

I remember the bombing in Mumbai well. The Taj hotel that was bombed was one I had stayed at the previous year and a colleague of mine was caught up in the incident – he got shot but the bullet passed vital organs as it was deflected by his wife’s glasses case he had gone back to get!

This is a true saga of India and its wide ranging problems that only got richer as the story progressed. So many issues covered in one book – almost too many but so well woven into the storyline that until you pondered the story you almost didn’t realise they had been addressed. However, a little editing of some sections would have helped as the book is long – (and for some readers too long), and it would have been sharper in its textual surfacing and elucidation.

If you’ve been to India you will recognise the things you have encountered, if you haven’t, you will be educated.

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