By Sin I Rise by Cora Reilly ~ Release Blitz w/ 5 Star Review & Excerpt!

“Cora Reilly is a master at forbidden and dangerous love… Maddox and Marcella are a fierce force together and part two can’t come fast enough”!
– Sophie Lark, bestselling author

By Sin I Rise: Part 1, an all-new action packed dark romance from USA Today bestselling author Cora Reilly is available now!

Maddox – Mad Dog – White hates everything the name Vitiello stands for, after he witnessed his father and his men getting butchered by the Capo of the Italian mob in their territory. Raised by his uncle, the president of the Tartarus MC, Maddox is destined to follow in his footsteps. Now their chapter is on the rise again, but for their ultimate triumph they need to destroy the Vitiello empire. And what better way to do it than to steal the spoilt Vitiello princess and break her piece by piece until her father begs for mercy.

Known as the spoilt princess of New York, Marcella Vitiello grew up in a golden cage. If your father is the most feared man in New York, people gift you with reverence.

Destined to marry the boyfriend approved by her father, Marcella is sick of being treated like an untouchable porcelain doll. 

She resents the life forced upon her by her family until everything she took for granted is ripped from her. Where she’s now, her name doesn’t bring awe, only pain and humiliation.

If you’ve grown up in a high castle, the fall is all the deeper.

Sins of the fathers have a way of catching up…who’s going to bleed for them?

Download your copy today! 

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3jCZtCW

Apple Books: https://apple.co/3A1GLeI

Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/bysinirise

Nook: https://bit.ly/3xqZwqm

Add to Goodreads→  https://bit.ly/3gXc6aC

Review

Steam 5
Storyline 5
Feels 4
Overall Rating 5
Kindle eArc provided by Author
Reviewed by Joanna

What an amazing read…I can’t wait for book two now. This story follows Marcella Vitiello, the daughter of the Capo of the Italian mob. She has been raised to be the “princess” and her life has been planned for her. She is engaged to be married to a man she doesn’t really love.

Then we have Maddox White AKA Mad Dog. The nephew of the President of the MC Tartarus. His father, who was the President, was killed when Maddox was 5 years old by the Capo. He seeks revenge of the Vitiello empire. When the revenge begins, Marcella is in the middle of it all.

I won’t say much more about what happens because I don’t want to spoil anything. Just let me tell you…you see a change in both Marcella and Maddox and boy, is it HOT! It tugs on the heart strings at the same time. The author has done an amazing job of making you feel for each of the characters and I can’t wait to see what happens next. All I can say to end this is…WOW!

Excerpt

Prologue 

Maddox

From the very first moment I spotted Snow White, she’d burned herself into my brain. Every fucking night, the image of her naked body tortured me in maddening detail. 

Sometimes I woke with the remnants of her taste in my mouth, half convinced I’d actually buried my tongue in her undoubtedly pretty pussy. Fuck, I hadn’t seen an inch of that legendary body yet, much less touched her. Oh, but I would, even if it took a poisoned apple.

 A guy like me would never be allowed near Snow White. I wasn’t a fuckin’loser, far from it. I was going to become the president of the Tartarus MC, following in my uncle’s footsteps, the current prez. Of course, that made me the lowest scum on earth if you asked Snow White and her fuckin’father, Luca Vitiello, the Capo of the Italian mob on the East Coast. I was a little boy, barely five years old, when the life I knew was ripped from me. As the son of the president of the New Jersey chapter of the Tartarus motorcycle club, I had watched many disturbing things at my young age. Club brothers getting it on with whores in the middle of the clubhouse in broad daylight, brutal fights, shootings…but nothing had left quite a mark like the night the Capo of the Famiglia brutally killed my father and his men. 

The murderous bastard had slaughtered an entire chapter of our club—alone. 

Strike that. 

Not alone—with a fuckin’ax and a skinning knife. The screams of my dying club family still haunted my nights, an echo of a memory I couldn’t shake unless I drank enough booze to kill an elephant. Those images were the fuel for my hunger for revenge. 

And revenge I would finally get, with the help of the spoiled princess of New York: Marcella Vitiello.

Pre-order By Sin I Rise: Part 2

Releasing December 15th 

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3tC51SQ

Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/sinirise2

Add to Goodreads→  https://bit.ly/3AkRBNq

Be notified FIRST when By Sin I Rise: Part 2 is live→ http://bit.ly/39HESsi

About Cora

Cora Reilly is the author of the Born in Blood Mafia Series, The Camorra Chronicles and many other books, most of them featuring dangerously sexy bad boys. Before she found her passion in romance books, she was a  traditionally published author of young adult literature.

Cora lives in Germany with a cute but crazy Bearded Collie, as well as the cute but crazy man at her side. When she doesn’t spend her days dreaming up sexy books, she plans her next travel adventure or cooks too spicy dishes from all over the world.

Despite her law degree, Cora prefers to talk books to laws any day.

Connect with Cora

Facebook: http://bit.ly/3qw1eUh

Instagram: https://bit.ly/2Y4juYZ

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3syxRCB

Join her Facebook reader group Cora’s Flamingo Squad: http://bit.ly/3sAmt9s

Stay up to date with Cora by joining her mailing list: http://bit.ly/39HESsi Website: https://corareilly.com

The Taste of an Enemy by Holly Renee ~ Blog Tour w/ Excerpt!

Rich. Vicious. Vengeful. Forbidden.
The Boys of Clermont Bay had always been untouchable. 

The Taste of an Enemy, the first angst-filled new adult romance in The Taste of an Enemy Duet from Holly Renee is available now! 

Rich. Vicious. Vengeful. Forbidden. The Boys of Clermont Bay had always been untouchable. 

And Carson Hale was the worst of them all. 

He was pretentious and a player, and he had hated me for so long I forgot that we were ever anything more than enemies. 

Brutally beautiful and savagely heartless, his only plan was to ruin everything I loved. 

But dares were made, and even though I had no business saying yes, I found myself in trouble and forced to work with my rival to get us out of it. 

He had always been cruel, but something changed. 

The lure of him was too much. The way I craved his touch was unbearable. 

Just as I fell for him, he proved himself to be exactly who he had been all along. 

Grab your copy today!

FREE in Kindle Unlimited

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3xnd6Le

Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/tasteenemy

Add to Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3rP228A

Review

Feels 3
Steam 2
Storyline 3.5
Overall Rating 3.5
Kindle eArc provided by Author
Reviewed by Stephanie

We’re back in Clermont Bay with tons of drama, angst and an enemies to lovers second chance romance. I was dying to see where the author would take Carson and Allie’s story after we met them earlier in the series. You could tell right away there was something going on with these two, but I wasn’t sure what it was. Apparently once upon a time….a long time ago they were best friends, they were each other’s everything until one day they weren’t. That was then and this is now and the now comes with a ton of shit to unpack from their past.

“Because we were friends once upon a time, whether he wants to remember it that way or not, and he was the one who decided that what we were was over.”

As much as Allie would love to avoid Carson it’s nearly impossible. They have all the same friends and go the same school. Now she must constantly brace herself for the snide comments and hateful things that her former bestie says to her. It’s like he never misses the opportunity to bully her, and it always hits where it hurts the most. I really like Allie. For as much as Carson pushed and tried to make her feel like shit, she wasn’t afraid to push back. You could just feel right away that she still cared for him. She would try to catch glimpses of the Carson she knew and loved even when he was being the biggest asshole. But when someone else shows interest in her and she starts to move on things quickly change.

“He was like the warmest of memories mixed with the harshest of reality.”

Carson loved to hate Allie and relished the chance to never make her forget that. He was the bully, asshole and former best friend. But he was also the boy who felt broken and tried desperately to hide it behind his popular playboy persona. He may have come off like he hated her, but his eyes tracked her everywhere she went. You knew that his heart belonged to the girl who was part of so many of his good memories. A bet was made, a dare of sorts, and Carson will do whatever it takes to win…but at what cost?

“I had no choice but to make Allie fall for me even though I had been convincing her to hate me for years.”

This book had a ton of angst and a constant push and pull between Allie and Carson. I love a good second chance romance with the whole enemies to lovers twist, and I did really enjoy this book. It just wasn’t my favorite of the series. The pace for me was a little off and went from I hate you to let’s turn these tables quickly. Those parts were a little all over the place for me. I loved that Allie had no problem sticking up for herself. She was a great mix of a good heart with a side of sass and kick ass. I really loved Carson once we got to know him a little more. I get that he was hurt by Allie but hating her all those years was a lot. I was pulling for them to make it but then that ending?! That cliffhanger killed me and I need to know what happens next!

“I’m just not capable of giving you the things that I know you would want, and you’re not capable of only having the things I’m willing to give.”

Excerpt

I walked into Wings and Things and spotted Eli as soon as I made it through the door. He smiled before standing and coming to meet me. I couldn’t tell if anyone else was already at the table, and I tried to remind myself that I shouldn’t care. Tonight was about having fun and getting to know Eli. 

Carson didn’t matter for either of those things. I would just drown him out and pretend he wasn’t there. That was what I was used to doing. That was what the two of us had been doing for years. 

Even though I was already a little but irritated that Eli hadn’t offered to pick me up. My dad was irritated by that fact too. 

“You look beautiful.” Eli grinned before pulling me into a hug. 

“Thank you.” I breathed in the scent of his warm cologne, the smell familiar and calming. “You look nice as well.” 

I looked up at him as he let me go. He was much taller than me, although shorter than Carson, and he had a smile that made me feel comfortable. 

He grabbed my hand in his and led the way back to the table. I fixed my hair while I was still blocked from view, and I planted the best smile I could manage on my face as he pulled out the chair for me that was directly across from Carson.

“Thank you.” I settled into my seat and tried to avoid making eye contact with Carson.

“Allie, this is Kimberly. Kimberly, Allie. I think you all might know each other.” 

I looked across the table at Kimberly, and of course I knew her. We had gone to school together since grade school, and I had hated her almost as long. She was popular, conceited, and a perfect fit for Carson. 

“Of course.” I nodded and pulled out my menu. “How are you, Kim?”

“I’m perfect.” She giggled and looked over at Carson. His hand disappeared under the table, and even though I couldn’t see it, I knew that his hand probably rested on her thigh. 

I wanted to rip it off. 

“Awesome,” I mumbled and tried to focus on the menu. 

Carson laughed under his breath, but I ignored him. 

“What are you getting?” I looked to my right where Eli sat. “Do you want to share some wings?”

“Oh.” He looked up from his menu. “I was thinking about getting the burger.” 

“A burger at a wing place.” Carson scoffed and tossed his menu down on the table. “I’ll share an order with you, Allie. Kim’s getting a salad.” 

He didn’t give me time to answer. As soon as the waitress came to our table, Carson opened his mouth. “My girl Allie and I are going to share a large order of wings, extra ranch for both of us. No carrots. She hates those.” 

I looked at him like he had lost his mind because I was pretty sure that he had. 

“What can I get you to drink?” The waitress was now looking at me. 

“Um, just a Coke, please.” 

Everyone else ordered their food, and I fidgeted with my hands under the table. 

“So, Allie, how is school going for you?” I looked up at Eli. I had almost forgotten he was there. 

“It’s all right. I’m so ready for fall break, though.” 

“Me too.” He nodded. “Are you going anywhere? My family is taking a trip to Europe.” 

“No.” I almost choked on the word. Sometimes I forgot just how far apart my family was from those who went to Prep. They were made of money, old money to be exact, and guys like Eli had never had to think about working or how he’d pay for college. “We typically stay home and do a Thanksgiving meal at our house. It’s real low-key.” 

And my dad would still be working every day except for Thanksgiving, and my small house would be busting with people. My grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. We were always together on holidays, and I loved it. 

It may not have been Europe, but it was ours. 

“That’s cool.” He nodded and turned his chair to where he faced me better. “We’ve been going to Europe for years now. My parents love it, and they take us about every other year. Have you ever been?” 

“To Europe?” I shook my head, and suddenly I felt ridiculous. “No. The farthest I’ve been is Disney World.” I didn’t mention that had been almost ten years ago. 

I could hear Carson and Kimberly talking across from us, and I hoped he was too enthralled with her and her perfect face to even consider listening to our conversation. 

Eli laughed like I had just told a joke, but I hadn’t. “That’s too bad. I bet you would really like Europe.” 

“What makes you think that, Eli?” Carson was leaned back in his chair with his arm resting on the back of Kimberly’s. 

Eli laughed nervously and looked between me and Carson. “It’s Europe.” He shrugged his shoulders. 

“But you don’t know anything about Allie specifically that would make her love Europe, correct?” 

Eli opened his mouth, but Carson continued. 

“Like you have no clue that she’s been dreaming of going to Paris forever, and she has this little Eiffel Tower key chain that she’s had on her set of keys since she’s had them. Or that she thinks she’s part Irish because she has a little bit of green in her eyes.” 

“I didn’t realize you knew so much about her.” Eli was no longer aloof. He was sizing Carson up, and I wasn’t here for a pissing contest. 

“Well, now you do.” Carson stared back at him with the same unrelenting gaze, and I felt like I was going insane. 

Carson hadn’t given a shit about me since that night he needed me and I wasn’t there. If he wasn’t ignoring me altogether, he was making me wish he was, and now all of the sudden, he wanted to share wings and spew facts about me like he was my best friend. 

“Stop,” I hissed. “You’re being an ass. Aren’t you supposed to be on your own date?” I looked over at Kimberly, and she looked uncomfortable. I couldn’t blame her. I felt uncomfortable too. 

The waitress arrived back at our table with food in hand, and we were spared from whatever Carson was going to say next. He looked down at the food, and his bright eyes looked so hollow. He scrunched his brow, something he always did when he was upset, and his jaw stiffened. I didn’t know if he was angry with me or with himself. 

But I didn’t want to find out. I quickly grabbed a wing from our plate and took a huge bite. Sauce dripped down my chin, but I didn’t stop. The food was a distraction. If we were eating, then we weren’t talking, and I couldn’t stand to hear anything more from Carson right now. 

Not after everything he just said. Not with the way he had brought up memories of me like it wouldn’t mess with my head. 

“This is good.” I wiped at my mouth with the back of my hand. “Do you want a bite?” I looked over to Eli, and he shook his head as he looked at my half-bitten wing. 

“Nah. I’m good.” 

“Suit yourself.” I shrugged as I looked down at his measly-looking burger. 

“I’ll take one.” Carson reached forward, his fingers wrapping around my wrist, and he stood in his seat enough to bring my hand to his lips. I stared at him, shocked by what he was doing, but there wasn’t an ounce of shame in his gaze. 

He didn’t look away from me for a second as he bit down into the wing I was still holding, and I couldn’t stop myself from holding my breath as his lips met my fingers. Carson Hale wasn’t just taking a bite of my chicken. He was causing a scene, and part of me wondered how he had gotten so damn good at it. 

He ran his tongue over the edge of my thumb, licking up the sauce that had dripped there, and I felt like he had just used his tongue on parts of my body that no one else ever had. I pressed my thighs together as I watched his mouth, and I couldn’t bring myself to care that Eli was watching me as Carson finally let go of my hand and settled back into his seat. 

“You’re right, Allie. That’s absolutely delicious.” He licked his lip before picking up a wing of his own, then began eating like that display hadn’t just happened. 

I picked up my napkin, quickly dropping my gaze to my lap as I wiped my hands, but I couldn’t get the feel of him off. And I didn’t know if I wanted to. 

Pre-order the stunning conclusion, Deceit of a Devil!

Releasing September 23rd

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3gEbTKk

Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/deceitdevil

About Holly

I’m Holly Renee, a small-town east Tennessee girl who is obsessed with all things romance. I love bringing flawed, sassy, and real characters to life in a way that makes you feel like you’ve been best friends with them for years. No two Holly Renee books are the same, but if you love real, relatable, fun female characters and swoon-worthy heroes, I’m your girl.

When I’m not writing or reading, you can find me momming so hard, being disgustingly in love with my husband, or chilling in the middle of a lake with my sunglasses and a float. #lakelife

I have a 2-year-old adorable little man who is as wild and sweet as they come and a baby girl on the way. 

Connect with Holly

Facebook: https://bit.ly/3Cfk6xt

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2VxNPkE

Instagram: https://bit.ly/2Vn6kIh

Join Holly’s Facebook reader group Hollywood: https://bit.ly/37kgiNb

To stay up to date with Holly join her mailing list: https://bit.ly/3jm5a83

Website: https://www.authorhollyrenee.com

Dirty Little Secret by Ivy Arnold ~ Release Blitz w/ Excerpt!

Title: Dirty Little Secret
Author: Ivy Arnold
Genre: Age Gap Forbidden Romance
Release Date: September 6, 2021

BLURB

You break in through my window in the middle of the night.

You tie me up, blindfold me, then do all sorts of dirty and twisted things to me, all while whispering in my ear what a good girl I am.

Want to help me make this fantasy a reality?

I’m not sure what’s worse;

that I was drunk enough to text this fantasy to my ex-boyfriend,

or discovering that it wasn’t actually him I sent it to.

My best friend thought it would be hilarious to switch my ex’s name in my phone—

with his father’s.

The craziest part?

He just replied…

PURCHASE LINKS – only 99c!

US: https://amzn.to/3jpRhqV
UK: https://amzn.to/2XVLQYj
CA: https://amzn.to/3gHAgqn
AU: https://amzn.to/2Wy1bO0

Free in Kindle Unlimited

GOODREADS LINK: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57769142-dirty-little-secret

REVIEW

Feels 0
Steam 2
Storyline 3.5
Overall Rating 3.5
Kindle eArc provided by Author
Reviewed by Ladyballs

I had high hopes for this book but could not get into it. The novella wasn’t for me. The storyline revolves around a young girl whose best friend sends a dirty text to her ex-boyfriend. Only it didn’t go to him, it went to his father. At first, he doesn’t realize who it’s from but continues the exchange even when he does.

They agree to meet up and he makes her rape fantasy come true. To be honest, for me it felt a little creepy versus hot. This is a younger girl AND his son’s ex-girlfriend. Not to mention the son finds out and is upset. But then thinks about it and gives his blessing. In what world does this happen? Some people might love this type of fantasy but it definitely didn’t hit the mark for me. Hope it does for you.

EXCERPT

“Dare,” I declare, looking around the group.

Eli slowly grins and looks at Sara, who’s eyes gleam with anticipation.

“I dare you to send that sex fantasy to Nick,” she says, giggling. “Make him realize what he’s missing.”

My eyes widen as my heart beats wildly in my chest.

Send that fantasy to Nick?

No fucking way.

But deep down, there’s a part of me that really wants to do it. I want to prove to Nick that I’m not the sweet, innocent girl he thinks I am. I want him to see what he’s missing out on, then beg me to take him back.

Whether I would take him back is another question…

Wetting my lips, I pull out my phone and begin to type while my friends smother their giggles. God, why didn’t I just pick truth?

Damn the alcohol for making me feel so ballsy.

Me: You break in through my window in the middle of the night. You tie me up, blindfold me, then do all sorts of dirty and twisted things to me, all while whispering in my ear what a good little girl I am. Want to help me make this fantasy a reality?

I hit send and regret it immediately, the little Sent confirmation below the message taunting me. When it changes to Read, I feel even worse. I stare at the message, panic rising inside me. I wait for a reply, but nothing comes through. The only thing worse than drunk texting your ex a twisted sex fantasy is when he doesn’t reply.

Fuck, this is bad.

My fingers clench around my phone and I swallow harshly, glad that the game seems to be going on without my friends wanting any follow up about the text. God, what was I thinking? You don’t just send shit like that, let alone to your ex-boyfriend.

Sara silently shakes beside me. I narrow my eyes at her, which only makes her laugh harder. She’s got that devious look in her eyes that nearly always means bad news for me.

“What?” I ask suspiciously. “What’s going on?”

“Um… okay, don’t be mad,” Sara says, holding up her hand. My eyes narrow. I’m mad already and she hasn’t even told me what the hell she’s done. “But while you were in the bathroom, I might have switched Nick’s number in your phone.”

My eyes widen. “You did what?” I demand, my voice a high-pitched squeak. “Switched it with who?”

“Uh, some dude named Andrew?” Her voice rises so high that it comes out like a question.

You switched Nick’s name withhis dad?” I gasp.

My heart literally stops beating. I just sent my dirty, twisted little fantasy to my ex-boyfriend’s father. Leaning forward, I gasp for air. I feel sick. All I can do is picture him reading my message and… I shudder, bile rising in my chest as I swallow it back.

How am I ever going to face him again?

“I-I’m sorry. I didn’t know it was his dad,” Sara sputters through her hysterics. “We were worried you might get drunk and call Nick—”

“So, you thought letting me sext his dad was a better option?” I growl through my tears.

What makes this whole thing even worse is that fact that his dad is hot. Like, I may or may not have imagined him as the star of said fantasy on more than one occasion kind of hot.

“I’m sorry, Holls. I wasn’t thinking…”

But I’m not listening. All I can think about is how screwed I am, and in the worst possible way. What the hell is he going to think of me after reading that text? How do I explain myself to him?

What if he tells Nick?

Oh God.

What the fuck am I going to do?

My phone beeps. Hands shaking, I click on the text.

Andrew: How can I refuse an offer like that?

Holy fuck.

Sucking in a breath, I read the text again. I can’t believe he replied, let alone with a response like that. I glance up, feeling Eli’s gaze on me. Before I can process the devilish look in her eyes, my phone is in her hands.

“You have to reply.” Eli gasps, her eyes widening as she reads Andrew’s response.

“No,” I cry out. I launch myself at her, but she ducks out of my grip and dives for the bathroom. “Don’t you dare!” I howl at her through the closed door, while Lucy and Sara dissolve into hysterics on the floor. “Eli, come on. Please don’t reply,” I plead, pounding my fists on the door. The door cracks open and Eli smirks at me as she hands my phone back to me.

“Too late.”

ABOUT IVY ARNOLD

Ivy writes quick, sexy, forbidden age gap romances that can be devoured in a night.

CONNECT WITH IVY ARNOLD

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorivyarnold

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorivyarnold

Newsletter: https://forms.gle/XjEqiSaVSHEzniYs9

Dirty Diana by January James ~ Blog Tour w/ 5 Star Review & Excerpt!

Dirty Diana, an all-new billionaire bully romance from January James, is available now!

My name is Diana.

I’m a small-town English girl in Manhattan, being eaten alive by an all-consuming job in a city that never sleeps.

Everything I once loved now suffocates me, but long-kept secrets mean I can’t go home.

The day I was invited to join the exclusive Decadence Club was the day my life was saved. Finally, I could be anonymous; I could be anyone I wanted for one night only; I could live out my fantasies without anyone knowing.

There were only three rules:

Don’t reveal your real name

Don’t give out personal information

Never meet the same member twice

I broke all three. Then he turned up at my office.

The best lay of my life is otherwise known as Jude Peyton-Harris, notorious ball-breaking business ‘fixer’, and my new CEO. He knows my secret and he wants my job gone.

But I can’t go home.

I can only stay and fight.

Download your copy today!

FREE in Kindle Unlimited

Amazon: https://amzn.to/35UKONb

Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/dirtydiana

Add to Goodreads: https://bit.ly/DDiana

Review

Steam 5
Storyline 5
Feels 5
Overall Rating 5
Kindle eArc provided by Author
Reviewed by Joanna

January James, where have you been all my life? Such an awesome author and this is the first book I have read by her. Dirty Diana is about Diana. She has become “non motivated” in her life. She goes to the same bar each night, nothing exciting until the bartender gives her some advice and Diana takes it to heart. A woman invites her to someplace called “Decadence”. She gives her a card with a code on it and tells her she should “check it out”. Calls it her “Get out of jail” card.

Diana wasn’t going to look into it, until she remembered what the bartender said, “If you don’t change the way you live your life…who you are isn’t the things you do every day…how do you expect your life to get any better?” So she checks out the location. Diana discovers it’s an “exclusive adult club”, and there is a HOT club boardmember Jude.

The two of them have an “encounter”, but the problem is that in the club you can only have one “encounter” with a member. You are supposed to move on to a different member each time. I don’t want to give anything away, but definitely read this story if you like “hot and steamy” relationships. There is a lot of mystery regarding other things that are happening in Diana life. This story was such an interesting read and sucked me in. I couldn’t leave it until the very end.

Excerpt

My appetite had vanished and, without sleep, I felt light-headed as I walked along the corridor to Jude’s office. I’d been in that office hundreds of times to meet with Alex, the former CEO. We’d all been told he resigned, but now I suspected he’d been pushed—that hiring Jude had been a calculated and premeditated move on the part of the board and shareholders.

I still couldn’t believe Jude—the man whose body I knew intimately—was sitting behind that door. My heart thumped as I approached it. I knew how my body would react as soon as I saw him. I would melt into a pool of lust, right there on the floor, while my brain battled to realign itself to the new reality—a reality in which he and I would be enemies. Because we wanted two very different things. He wanted me out, and I wanted nothing of the kind.

I hesitated at the door, hoping I might summon some inner strength from somewhere, but my heart still thumped, loudly and erratically. He’d said six pm prompt, and it was six pm. I had to go in. I knocked twice and waited. After a long pause I heard, “Come in”.

I pushed the door and held my breath as he came into view. It helped, holding my breath. I considered, in that moment, making it the basis of my coping strategy. I could just stop breathing. Then I realized that nothing was going to help, not even self-imposed suffocation.

My heart racketed around my chest the moment I set eyes on his dirty blonde hair softly curled around his ears; his dark blue eyes staring back at me, warily; his large form standing rigid behind his desk. It reminded me of when I’d emerged from the room during my first night at the club. He was tense all over, as though he was trying to repel something.

“Take a seat,” he said, his voice hollow and sounding nothing like it had when he’d stroked the contours of my thigh less than twenty-four hours earlier.

I did as he instructed, swallowing my nerves. He slowly sat down himself, in the seat opposite me; the same seat I’d seen my previous CEO sit in many times before. The air in the room was different to how I remembered it. It was cold—the air con had been cranked right up—and it smelled of fresh body odor and worn leather, as though there had been a lot of pacing around.

I understand you have some concerns about my appointment,” he said, sitting back in his chair, the full width of his cotton-covered chest exposed as his jacket fell open. My breath hitched.

“That’s an understatement,” I replied, getting straight to the point. If he thought I was going to go along with this, without even acknowledging our relationship, he was sorely mistaken. “Did you know I worked here?” I knew the answer would be no; he would never have made any of those plans to see me if he had. But I wanted answers—any answers.

“No, of course not.”

“Do they know about your role at the club?”

“Yes. I’m on the board of several organizations and I disclosed all of them.”

“You’re still on the board of Decadence, then?”

“Resigning from a board takes time, Miss Delaney.”

I baulked at his use of my surname. He’d already been through our employee records, I guessed.

“And that’s still your plan?”

He took a measured breath. “I can’t discuss that with you.”

His robotic dryness was beginning to get on my nerves.

“Can I ask you one thing?”

He didn’t reply, but the tick of his jaw suggested he knew what was coming.

“Did it mean anything to you? What we had?”

Had. I was already speaking about our relationship in past tense and it made a little piece of my heart ache. He stared at me, almost incredulous. His voice was quiet, and more akin to the Jude I thought I knew.

“Of course it did,” he replied. “Don’t you think I’m in as much shock as you are? You were the last person I expected to see in that room.”

“You acted as though I was nobody.”

“I had to,” he said. “You have to be no different to anyone else here. I have to treat all of you the same, no favors.”

“I’m not a child,” I grimaced. “I know how these things work and I don’t expect any favors. Why did you keep me waiting until six to meet?”

He dropped his head.

“I wasn’t sure what to say to you,” he said, quietly. “I still don’t know. It wasn’t even yesterday when I had everything planned out—how you and I might be able to start seeing each other.” He stretched his arms up and behind his head and faced out of the window, then he gave a small, hollow laugh. “Fuck. I was even planning where to take you at the weekend.”

My stomach plummeted another inch as it hit me again what was being ripped away. It was like someone was pulling a table cloth, leaving everything intact on the foundation beneath. Only, in my case, even that was turning to rubble.

As he stared out the window, something to my left caught my attention. The usually pristine white, unscathed wall of Alex’s old office had a massive dent in it, right across from where Jude was sitting. I looked back to the hands resting at the back of his head, the head I had held when we kissed for what I hadn’t realized would be the last time. The knuckle of his right hand was purple.

I stood and walked around the desk, his eyes following me nervously.

“When did this happen?” I asked, taking hold of his battered hand. In one glance I knew he couldn’t lie about it. We were in bed together only hours earlier and this bruise had not been there then. And while I’d been immersed too deeply in shock in the boardroom to have looked at his hands, I somehow knew the injury had happened since, and that dent in the wall had something to do with it.

“Nine twenty-three,” he replied, in a whisper.

I mentally rewound. He’d walked out of the boardroom at exactly nine twenty and it would have taken him three minutes to walk back up the stairs and along the corridor to here, his office. I raised his hand to my lips and gently kissed his bruised knuckle. Tears pricked my eyes.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered.

“You haven’t done anything wrong,” he said, his voice cracking.

“I know. But that’s how I feel,” I closed my eyes to focus on the broken skin of his hand against my lips. “I just feel sorry; about all of this.”

He turned his chair towards me and pushed himself to his feet. His hand turned over in mine, then it cupped my face.

“Diana…” he started. I looked up into his eyes and saw liquid. He tilted my chin up towards his and brought his lips down to mine. The metallic taste of dried blood gave way to the sweet tang of his mouth and I allowed myself to drown in him. I knew it could never happen again. He moved deliberately and meaningfully around my mouth, stroking my tongue with his, teasing it across my lips. It was no ordinary kiss; he was leaving his mark on me, because he knew he could never return.

I reached my hands up and pushed my fingers through his soft curls, tugging him further into me. In turn, he wrapped his arms around me, pulling me into his body. I felt him thick and firm between us and almost cried knowing I would never feel him inside me again. A sob passed from my throat to his and it seemed to remind him where he was.

“Fuck, fuck!” He groaned, dropping his hands and pulling away. He turned his back to me and rubbed his bruised hand across his face, wincing slightly.

“Diana… you have to forget that happened. It can’t happen again.”

“I know,” I whispered behind him. “Don’t worry. I won’t expect it again, but I can’t promise I’ll forget.”

He hit his forehead with the heel of his palm. Then again, and again. I reached forward and held his arm. “Stop it, please…”

He turned to face me and his eyes were ringed red.

“I wish I hadn’t been their only option,” he whispered, almost to himself.

“What do you mean?”

“The board. Your board.”

“Why were you?” I didn’t follow; surely there were plenty of people available who did the kind of job Jude had been hired for.

“This,” he waved his arm, referring, I presumed, to Empirical Records, “is a much-loved brand. The acts are international darlings. The choices I’m going to have to make will be deeply unpopular. I’m expecting the usual—hate mail, death threats, broken windows, the lot. Not many people are willing to walk into a situation like that.”

“So, why you?” I frowned.

“Because…” he laughed again, bitterly, “I don’t care. I have no fucking feelings.”

He scrubbed his face again. “Supposedly.”

“I don’t get it,” I said, shaking my head. Because I didn’t. The Jude I knew had feelings. Feelings of lust, desire, need.

“All my life I’ve been numb,” he said, bitterness on the edge of his tongue. “I’ve had no problem walking into a business like this and shredding it to pieces. I can make any company a lot of money, by doing the work they’re too soft to do themselves. I’ve never known any of the employees I’ve had to fire, let alone slept with them several times or agreed to start up a relationship with them.”

He walked to the other side of the room, shaking his head.

“This is justice, it has to be. I deserve this. I’ve been ruthless until now, and this is payback. No one gets away with being such an asshole for so long.”

“That’s rubbish,” I said, understanding he wasn’t actually talking to me; he was having this conversation with himself and I was simply witness to it.

“I deserve it,” he said, quietly, facing out of the window.

I stood there, at a loss for what I could say to make him understand it wasn’t his fault—none of this was. Then, as though a switch had been flicked inside him, he seemed to transform into the Jude I saw in the boardroom—blank, callous and abrupt. He turned sharply from the window and strode purposefully towards me.

“I can’t continue this conversation,” he said, suddenly business-like. “It stops now. And I have a job to do.”

I stepped back in surprise at the sudden change in his tone.

“You’re going to try and force me out, aren’t you?”

The least he could do was tell me the truth; what I could expect.

“Yes. Your division is a drain on the business.”

I almost choked. The way he said it, so blunt, so matter-of-fact; it threw me off balance.

“It makes no financial sense to keep it,” he continued, twisting the knife. “And your acts are peanuts compared to big hitters elsewhere in the group. If anything, Phoenix Music is a distraction, an indulgence. It’s the music industry equivalent of those little hobby shops set up by rich housewives as something to do with their time.”

I gasped. His sentiment was venomous but his tone was even, and deadpan, like his face.

“I’m not going to roll over for you,” I spat at him. “You can’t get me out that easily.”

He smiled, thinly, almost regretfully. “That’s what they all say.”

I straightened, now hating this man with every fiber of my being. “I will fight you tooth and nail, all the way, Jude Peyton-Harris.”

He reached out once more and curled his bruised fingers around the curve of my chin. He closed his eyes and shook his head, lightly.

“You have no idea who you are fighting, Diana Delaney. They all lose. And so will you.”

Meet January

January James lives in the smallest cottage in East Sussex with her husband, daughter and imaginary cockapoo (she will get one, one day!)

​Until recently, she inhabited the fast-paced, adrenalin-fuelled workplaces she writes about as a communications professional. Now she spends her days dreaming up new characters and stories and trying her best to avoid indoor soft play.

Connect with January

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2WakyN8

Facebook: https://bit.ly/2V2WJ9l

Instagram: https://bit.ly/3xYBsMH

Stay up to date with January by joining her mailing list: https://bit.ly/2V5xpj0

Website: https://www.januaryjamesauthor.com

Cross by Shantel Tessier ~ Blog Tour w/ 4.5 Star Review & Excerpt!

“Shantel takes us back to the gritty, addictive world of the Dark Kings and it’s as steamy, twisted, and captivating as the first two books in this amazing series.”–Siobhan Davis. USA Today & Wall Street Journal bestselling author

Cross, an all-new dark standalone romance from USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Shantel Tessier, is available now!

CROSS

Have you ever stood next to a fire and felt the heat of it on your skin? Stared into the flames and thought how amazing it would be to be that free? It changes directions with the wind, destroying everything in its wake.

That’s what she felt like.

Alexa was a wildfire that torched everything she touched, and I couldn’t wait to be consumed by her.

She was off-limits. Even though I promised to stay away, I couldn’t resist. She was the spark I had been missing in my life. The fire I craved.

I knew from an early age I was destined to burn in hell, but she was born to walk through fire.

ALEXA

I was single-minded, focused, and independent. Just how my mother raised me. I didn’t have time for anything other than myself and work.

Funny how everything can change in an instant when you least expect it.

A King entered my life. What was supposed to be one night ended up being too many to count.

He was afraid that I’d see his darkness, but I couldn’t get enough of him.

After all, a fire burns the brightest in the dark of night. And it only takes one match to cause total devastation.

Cross is the third standalone in The Dark Kings Series. You are introduced to the Kings in Code of Silence: A Dark Mafia Romance.

Start reading today!

FREE in Kindle Unlimited

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3kbkB3k

Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/crossst

Add CROSS  to Goodreads→  https://bit.ly/3tWsJI4

Review

Feels 3
Storyline 4.5
Steam 4
Overall Rating 4.5
Kindle eArc provided by Author
Reviewed by Lindsey

Whewwwwweeeee! This book was so good. I love me some Kings. These guys are all brilliant. Cross is so mysterious and always down to have a good time. I enjoyed his evolvement and was so happy for him when he finally found his happy. Alexa is a ride or die! Loved that girl. She’s not one to run away from a problem and is so loyal. It’s nice to have a couple that know what they want from each other. Definitely a great read. This series is awesome and I can’t wait for the next one!

Excerpt

She slides in, and I make my way to the driver’s side. Starting it up, I look over at her. “Where to?” I meant it more as a “where do you live?” but what I wanted to say and the words that actually came out were two very different things.

She looks over at me. “Wherever you want to go.”

That’s an open invitation if I’ve ever heard one. Obviously, she doesn’t want me at her house, or she would have suggested that. “Kingdom?”I question, unable to keep my eyes from dropping to her legs as she runs her hands over her jeans. Her nails are kept short and painted black. She wears a silver banded ring on her right hand. It’s plain yet dainty at the same time.

“I don’t gamble,” she states.

My eyes meet hers. “Neither do I.”

What I have planned for her is much more intimate. I mean, if she’s into a crowd watching, then that’s fine too. I’m not shy.

She laughs, leaning her head back against the headrest, and smiles softly at me. Her green eyes drop to my jeans, and I refrain from groaning at the thoughts that run through my mind. My hand in her hair while she’s bent over the center console with her lips wrapped around my cock …“Kingdom it is.” Not wanting to waste another second, I take off, getting the hell out of here.

We don’t say much during the twenty-minute drive back to the Strip. I keep checking on her to make sure she hasn’t passed out, and every time, she’s looking out the window.

I pull up around the back of tower one, where the Kings and I have a private entrance. Parking the car, I help her out and up the fifteen stairs that lead to a set of black doors.

Her drunk eyes take in the white marble floor and black circle with the gold K in the middle when we enter the building. Lifting her head, she notices the mirrored ceiling and chandelier hanging in the entrance.

Nigel stands behind his black marble desk in the corner. Nigel is our right-hand man. He’s more of a father to us than our actual fathers ever were. Guess it didn’t take him and Titan very long to bury Kenneth. He looks up and smiles at us. “Good evening, Cross. Alexa. It’s good to see you again.” I’m not sure how he knows her other than maybe he met her at Titan’s wedding.

“You too, Nigel,” she tells him as I scan my key card for our private elevator. Only a King has access to it. Other than him, of course. It opens immediately, and we step inside. I have to refrain from ripping her clothes off right here and now. Just a few more minutes and she’s all mine.

It comes to a stop on the Royal level to the suite that the Kings share. But no one will be here tonight. Titan hasn’t stayed one night here since he married Emilee. Grave stays at his house with April, and Bones rarely sleeps. I’m sure he’s at Glass—one of the many businesses he owns that we all pretend we don’t know about.

Stepping into our suite, I turn to face her. “Would you like a drink?”

She places her hands on my chest, gripping my shirt. “I think I’ve had enough.”

My hands go to her hips, and I yank her to me. The thought crosses my mind that this is a mistake. That she’s off-limits to me. I try to think of my best friend and how it would affect him. “I made a promise not to touch you,” I rush out, hoping she pushes me away.

She surprises me by smiling, and it’s anything but innocent. Her pretty green eyes drop to my lips before returning to mine. “I can keep a secret.” Then her lips are on mine.

Meet Shantel Tessier

Shantel is a Texas born girl who now lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma with her high school sweetheart, who is a wonderful, supportive husband and their two daughters. She loves to spend time cuddled up on the couch with a good book.

She considers herself extremely lucky to get to be a stay at home wife and mother. Going to concerts and the movies are just a few of her favorite things to do. She hates coffee, but loves wine. She and her husband are both huge football fans, college and NFL. And she has to feed her high heel addiction by shopping for shoes weekly.

Although she has a passion to write, her family is most important to her. She loves spending evenings at home with her husband and daughters, along with their cats and dogs.

Connect with Shantel

Join Shantel’s Sinful Side Reader Group: https://bit.ly/3d02WHc

Facebook: https://bit.ly/2w8PyQQ

Instagram: https://bit.ly/39ETUNa

BookBub: https://bit.ly/2UWXRHT

Stay up to date with Shantel by joining her mailing list: https://bit.ly/2JClgZO