Excerpt

#BlogTour #Excerpt #Giveaway
13 by Rhonda James
@AuthorRljames @InkSlingerPR

 

 

Synopsis: 

“Fake it till you make it.”

A notion I once considered utterly ridiculous. Until one crazy night with a mysterious man resulted in a social media frenzy that had the entire entertainment industry talking.

Seems a fake marriage was just what my career needed to make Hollywood come knocking.

Convincing him to continue the charade was almost too easy. The chemistry between us made it impossible to keep my hands to myself. But it was all just pretend, right? Love was never in the script.

That is, until he re-wrote it.

13 Reasons You Should Stay:

  1. I’m crazy about you
  2. I make you laugh
  3. You totally dig me

————–

 

 

————–

Excerpt:

 

It was early morning by the time I let myself into the house. I carried my suitcase up the stairs and headed straight for the shower to wash off the travel grime. After slipping on a tank and sleep shorts, I quietly entered his room and leaned against the door, watching as he slept. I wasn’t sure how long I’d been watching when he draped an arm over the side of the bed and beckoned me with a crook of his finger.

“What are you doing all the way over there?” he asked, his voice thick with sleep.

“Admiring you.”

“You look cold. Get your butt over here, and I’ll warm you up.”

I scrambled across the room and tucked myself against the warmth of his body. Oh, how I had missed this. He kissed me a few times and smiled a sleepy smile.

“I’ve missed this.”

“I’ve missed you,” he admitted. I loved how open he was with his feelings. He wasn’t afraid of putting himself out there. If he felt it, he blurted it out.

I slipped my fingers between his and sighed. “My agent thinks there’s a strong chance I’ll be offered the role.”

“I thought that was the whole point of all this,” he reminded me.

“It was. I mean, it still is. Being in L.A. helped me realize how much I’m going to miss you when I’m gone. Whether L.A. or New York, we’ll still be apart.”

God, I couldn’t believe I’d just admitted that. I might as well have handed him my beating heart and then given him the boots to stomp on it.

He gave my hand a squeeze. “I get that, and I feel the same way, but that just proves we need to take advantage of the time we have left—however short it may be. Are you still okay with going away this weekend?”

“I’m more than okay with it. Thank you again for inviting me.”

He kissed me tenderly, tangling his legs with mine as we pulled each other close. His tongue teased the seam of my lips until I welcomed him inside. Bodies pressed together, lips seeking, tongues tasting. I allowed myself to get lost in his unspoken promise. One that told me he’d never hurt me. His kiss reminded me to stop trying to figure out our future and focus on the moment. Moments like these.

 

Enter Rhonda’s Giveaway:

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

About the Author:

 

Rhonda is an Amazon bestselling romance author who strives to create a book boyfriend for all her readers. She’s married and lives in Michigan with her family. In her spare time you can find her talking to readers, getting lost in a new book, or just spending time with her family.

 

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This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                              

 

 

 

#BlogTour #Excerpt
East of India by Erica Brown
@baywriterallat1 @canelo_co

  

 

Synopsis:

India, 1940. When Nadine learns that the Indian woman she thought her nanny is, in fact, her mother, she rebels against her English father and he arranges for Nadine to be wed to an Australian merchant many years older. She whisked off to his plantation in Malaya but as the Second World War rages throughout the East, Nadine is taken captive by the Japanese. She is held at a camp in Sumatra with other women and forced to provide sexual favours for the soldiers. In the most unlikely circumstances, Nadine finds an ally and protector in a Japanese-American general, caught up in the war. The two bond over the conflicted identities and gradually fall in love. But can Nadine survive long enough to find happiness?

Don’t miss this emotional and powerful saga about a women’s determination to beat the odds, perfect for fans of Renita D’Silva, Dinah Jefferies and Julia Gregson.

 

Excerpt:

Schooldays were coming to a close and Nadine was glad that they were. She’d never fitted in, viewed as slightly odd by fresh-faced girls who knew the far-off Mother Country far better than they did the one they lived in. Her dark hair and skin had set her apart. Only the odd contrast of her grey eyes had halted their insinuations of mixed blood, until Cecilia Renfrew had thrown comments around that she’d overheard from gossiping memsahibs. Some of the girls now went out of their way to avoid her, though not all.

Girls in brown uniforms had filed in and out of the Benares Academy for Young Ladies for over forty years. Most were destined to be wives either in this country or back home. Only a very few intended furthering their education and contemplating a career in ‘something useful’, such as becoming a secretary or doing a little nursing, though nothing too strenuous.

Someone asked Nadine whether she was going to England to continue studying. ‘Seeing as Cecilia may have scotched your chances on the marriage market.’

Nadine had bristled. ‘No. I’m going to study India – and the rest of the world if I get the chance.’

‘Oh! How odd,’ said the person who had asked. ‘Still, as long as you can afford it. Anyway, not everyone needs a man, do they?’

‘Will you get a job?’ someone else asked.

‘As what?’

Jennifer, a softly spoken girl who was as near to being her best friend as anyone, shrugged her narrow shoulders.

‘Nurse, secretary, teacher…’

Nadine shuddered. ‘Certainly not. What will you do?’

‘Marry an eligible man as quickly as possible. That’s what my parents hope for too. Have you considered marrying? I mean, I know some of the others think you’ve got no chance because of your pedigree, but let’s face it, you’re jolly pretty. Actually, the prettiest girl in the school.’

Nadine glanced at the slight sixteen-year-old. She had hips like a boy and the curve of her breasts barely disturbed the front of her blouse.

‘No. I won’t marry.’

‘I see. Of course, now there’s a war on you could do something in the military, I suppose – once you’re old enough, that is.’

‘I don’t think so.’

‘So what will you do?’ persisted the girl, peering from beneath a floppy brown fringe as she awaited an answer.

Nadine eyed the sandstone yellow of the school building, the locked gates that kept the girls in and the world – an India viewed as decadent but tempting – firmly shut out.

Remember it was here that made you respectable young ladies, truly representative of all the British Empire stands for.

The school’s mantra, dogged and basically unthinking: Nadine grinned as a deliciously naughty thought crossed her mind.

‘I think I shall be a dancer.’

Jennifer gasped and clapped a hand across her mouth. ‘You wouldn’t!’

‘Why not?’ Nadine spoke deliberately loudly. ‘I’m going to be a dancer in the Hindu fashion. I’m going to twirl and twitch my hands and arms around all those exquisite temples – you know the ones I mean – those decorated with intertwining, naked bodies.’

Jennifer’s shocked expression fuelled Nadine’s urge to shock and unsettle. She raised her voice, determined everyone would hear.

‘You know what they’re doing of course, don’t you? They’re having sex in every position possible. Some of the female carvings are sucking on the men’s…’

Nadine’s descriptions of the lewd statuary spread from girl to giggling girl.

‘MISS BURTON.’

Judging by her flame-coloured expression, Miss Clark looked about to explode.

Nadine didn’t care. Satchel tucked beneath her arm, she sauntered off, her hat swinging on a ribbon around her neck.

She half-turned, smiled and waved back to those gathered at the school gates. ‘Goodbye, Miss Clark. I’m off to dance seductively in a Hindu temple.’

 

About the Author:

Erica Brown is the pseudonym of a very successful author of women’s fiction and crime. She lives in Bath and has one daughter and twin grandchildren one of whom is dead set on becoming a writer.

 

Thank you to Erica Brown and Canelo for providing me with an excerpt for my blog today!

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                  

 

For more information on Erica Brown follow her on Twitter at: @baywriterallat1

 

 

#BlogTour #Excerpt #Giveaway
Can Dreams Come True? by Krysten Lindsay Hager
@KrystenLindsay @NeverlandBT

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Cecily has always had a huge crush on singer Andrew Holiday and she wants to be an actress, so she tags along when her friend auditions for his new video. However, the director isn’t looking for an actress, but rather the girl next door—and so is Andrew. Cecily gets a part in the video and all of Andrew’s attention on the set. Her friend begins to see red and Cecily’s boyfriend is seeing green—as in major jealousy. A misunderstanding leaves Cecily and her boyfriend on the outs and Andrew hopes to pick up the pieces as he’s looking for someone more stable in his life than the models he’s dated. Soon Cecily begins to realize Andrew understands her more than her small-town boyfriend—but can her perfect love match really be her favorite rock star?

 

Excerpt:

Andrew sat back and nodded. “Well, Dimitri got the song, you know? He understood what I was looking for—a relationship where two people understand each other on a spiritual level. You know, where their souls connect. Make sense?” 

“Yeah, is that what you have with your girlfriend?” I asked hoping it didn’t look like I as phishing for info on who he was dating. 

He shook his head. “Nah, I’ve never had anything like that before. But it’s the ultimate idea though, you know? How about you?”

“No, never,” I said and then I felt guilt wash over me. “I mean, I’ve had deep connections with people—just not what you’re talking about or what Dimitri said—the whole deep mystical thing.” 

Andrew stared at me and I felt like he was looking into my soul. “Sometimes it feels like it’s impossible to get that connection with anybody. Or you think you’re halfway there and they say they get you, but then something happens and you know they weren’t as deep into it as you were—or at least as deep as you were hoping. That’s the inspiration for next song I’m working on. It’s about when you want to believe so badly that you have a soul connection, then something happens and you realize it was just another superficial relationship. That’s the title: Just Another Superficial Relationship.” 

“Wow, I can’t wait to hear it.” 

“I can sing you the chorus if you want,” he said. 

Holding my breath, I tried to be cool and not squeal with delight that my favorite singer was about to not only sing for me, but let me hear an unreleased song. This was like a dream come true and it made me question if I hadn’t indeed fallen into the water and hit my head on some rocks, and was now either dreaming this in a coma somewhere or this was my own personal version of heaven. I felt guilty for inwardly gushing over Andrew when I had a boyfriend. But this wasn’t about me being interested in going out with Andrew. It would never happen anyway. This was just me meeting my crush who happened to be a singer, who I felt understood my feelings more than anyone else. 

Andrew sang the chorus and a warmth washed over me. The song was perfect—the yearning, the longing—I had experienced all of it myself. It was like he had taken all my innermost thoughts and somehow put them into words. 

“Amazing,” I said. My whole body was warm as my mind raced. Was I actually sitting here with him and having him trust me enough to share a new song? This was beyond anything I had dreamt of happening today.

 

About Krysten Lindsay Hager:

Krysten Lindsay Hager writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. She is the author of True Colors, Best Friends…Forever?, Next Door to a Star, Landry in Like, Competing with the Star (The Star Series: Book 2) and Dating the It Guy. True Colors, won the Readers Favorite award for best preteen book and the Dayton Book Expo Bestseller Award for children/teens. Competing with the Star is a Readers’ Favorite Book Award Finalist.

Krysten’s work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek Current, the Bellbrook Times, Springfield News-Sun, Grand Blanc View, Dayton Daily News and on the talk show Living Dayton.

WEBSITE / TWITTER / INSTAGRAM AMAZON BIO / FACEBOOK / PINTEREST

 

 

International Giveaway:

 

£5 (or equivalent in dollars) Amazon gift card

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Thank you to Krysten Lindsay Hager for allowing me to be part of the blog tour today! It was truly an honour!

 

Pick up a copy of this novel from your favourite retailer or from the following link!

#BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway
Undone by You by Kate Meader
@KittyMeader @Pocket_Books

Synopsis:

Dante Moretti has just landed his dream job: GM of the Chicago Rebels. And screw the haters who think there should be an asterisk next to his name because he’s the first out managing executive in pro hockey. He’s earned the right to be here and nothing will topple him off that perch—especially not an incredibly inconvenient attraction to his star defenseman, Cade “Alamo” Burnett. Cade has always been careful to keep his own desires on the down low, but his hot Italian boss proves to be a temptation he can’t resist. Sure, they both have so much to lose, but no one will ever know…

As Dante and Cade’s taboo affair heats up off the ice and their relationship gets more and more intense, they’ll have to decide: is love worth risking their careers? Or is this romance destined to be forever benched?


Book Rating: 10/10

Heartfelt, seductive and downright fervent!

Undone by You is an engrossing, passionate, sports romance that features the closeted, fun-loving Cade, and the handsome, mature Dante as they engage in a love affair strife with issues of age disparity, impropriety, hidden sexuality, and the stigma and stereotypical mentality surrounding professional sports.

The prose is titillating and sincere. The characters are well-drawn, appealing, and genuine. And the plot is a provocative tale full of explosive attraction, unquenchable lust, sizzling chemistry, family drama, friendship, support, acceptance, hockey, and love.

I didn’t think it was possible for this series to get any better but I stand corrected. Undone by You is emotional, tender, tantalizing, and absolutely dynamite and it has without a doubt left me counting down the days until the next novel in the series, Hooked on You, Violet’s story is available!

If you haven’t had a chance to read my review of the first two novels in the Chicago Rebels series be sure to check them out here:

 

 

 

About the Author:

 

Originally from Ireland, Kate Meader cut her romance reader teeth on Maeve Binchy and Jilly Cooper novels, with some Harlequins thrown in for variety. Give her tales about brooding mill owners, oversexed equestrians, and men who can rock an apron, a fire hose, or a hockey stick, and she’s there. Now based in Chicago, she writes sexy contemporary romance with alpha heroes and strong heroines (and heroes) who can match their men quip for quip. Visit her at KateMeader.com.

 

 

Giveaway:

 

Kate Meader will be giving away a $50 Amazon gift card in honour of release week.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Thank you to Simon & Schuster, especially Pocket Books, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                  

 

For more information on Kate Meader, visit her website at: katemeader.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @KittyMeader

#BookReview #Excerpt #Giveaway
So Over You by Kate Meader
@KittyMeader @Pocket_Books

Synopsis:

Three estranged sisters struggle to sustain their late father’s failing hockey franchise in Kate Meader’s SO OVER YOU, Book 2 in the new sizzling Chicago Rebels series. Middle sister Isobel is at a crossroads in her personal and professional lives. But both are about to get a significant boost with the addition of a domineering Russian powerhouse to the Rebels…

Isobel Chase knows hockey. She played NCAA, won silver at the Games, and made it thirty-seven minutes into the new National Women’s Hockey League before an injury sidelined her dreams. Those who can’t, coach, and a position as a skating consultant to her late father’s hockey franchise, the Chicago Rebels, seems like a perfect fit. Until she’s assigned her first job: the man who skated into her heart as a teen and relieved her of her pesky virginity. These days, left-winger Vadim Petrov is known as the Czar of Pleasure, a magnet for puck bunnies and the tabloids alike. But back then…let’s just say his inability to sink the puck left Isobel frustratingly scoreless.

Vadim has a first name that means “ruler,” and it doesn’t stop at his birth certificate. He dominates on the ice, the practice rink, and in the backseat of a limo. But a knee injury has produced a bad year, and bad years in the NHL don’t go unrewarded. His penance? To be traded to a troubled team where his personal coach is Isobel Chase, the woman who drove him wild years ago when they were hormonal teens. But apparently the feeling was not entirely mutual.

That Vadim might have failed to give Isobel the pleasure that was her right is intolerable, and he plans to make it up to her—one bone-melting orgasm at a time. After all, no player can perfect his game without a helluva lot of practice…


Book Rating: 8.5/10

Sexy, steamy, and sweet!

So Over You is a sizzling second-chance romance that introduces us to the broody, stubborn, handsome Vadim and the feisty, driven, scarred Isobel as they each navigate the loss of a loved one, familial drama, career-altering injuries, undeniable chemistry and insatiable desire.

The writing is lighthearted and fun. The supporting characters are encouraging, loyal, and kind. And the plot, from start to finish, is filled to the brim with longing, lust, emotion, angst, witty banter, and tantalizing romance.

So Over You is the second novel in the Chicago Rebels series and another highly entertaining, thoroughly enjoyable sports romance by Meader who seems to have the formula for writing irresistible rom-coms down to a fine art.

If you haven’t had a chance to read my review of the first novel in the series, Irresistible You, be sure to check it out here:

 

Excerpt:

He leaned in again, smelling of fame, privilege, and raw sex appeal. Discomfort at his proximity edged out the hormonal sparks dancing through her body.

“Does Moretti know that we have history? That you are the last person I wish to work with?”

Before she could respond, someone squealed, “Vadim!” A blond, skinny, buxom someone, who now wrapped herself around Vadim in a very possessive manner. “You said you’d be back with a dwinkie!”

A dwinkie?

Drawing back, Vadim circled the squealer’s waist and pulled her into his hard body. “Kotyonok, I did not mean to be so long.” He dropped a kiss on her lips, needing to bend considerably because she was just so darn petite! Not like big-boned Isobel, who could have eaten this chick and her five supermodel Playmates for a midmorning snack. A group of them stood off to the side, clearly waiting for the signal to start the orgy. And Vadim clearly wanted to give it, except he had to deal with the annoying six-foot fly in the sex ointment.

Why did the lumberjack hotties always go for twigs instead of branches? Did it make them feel more virile to screw a pocket-sized Barbie?

Yep, feeling like a schlub.

But he didn’t need to know that. All he needed to know was that she had the power to return him to competitive ice. This was her best shot at making a difference and getting the Rebels to a coveted play-off spot. Vadim Petrov and his butt-hurt feelings would not stand in her way.

“Do you need to talk about it, Russian?”

She infused as much derision into the question as possible, so that the idea of “talking about it” made him sound a touch less than manly. Big, bad, brick-house Russians didn’t need to talk about the women who done them wrong.

“There is nothing to talk about,” he uttered in that voice that used to send Siberian shivers down her back. Now? Nothing more than a Muscovian flurry.

“Excellent!” Superscary cheerful face. “Regular practice is tomorrow at ten, so I’ll see you on the ice at 9 a.m. Don’t be late.”

Pretty happy with her exit line, she walked away.

Far too easy.

A brute hand curled around hers and pulled her to the other side of the bar, out of the sight line of most of the VIP room. She found her back against a wall—literally and figuratively—as 230 pounds of Slavic muscle loomed over her.

He still held her hand.

If she weren’t so annoyed, she’d think it was kind of nice.

She yanked it away. “Who the hell do you think you are?”

“Who am I?” he boomed, and she prayed it was rhetorical. Unfortunately, no. “I am Vadim Petrov. Leading goal scorer for my first two years in the NHL. Winner of both the Kontinental and the Gagarin Cups. A man not to be trifled with. And you are, who, exactly? The daughter of a hockey great who was not so great when it came to running a team. The woman who can no longer play yet thinks she can offer ‘tips’ to me. To me! You may have pedigree, Isobel, but there is nothing I can learn from you.”

This arrogant, douchewaffle piece of shit!

 

About the Author:

 

Kate Meader was raised on romance. An Irish girl, she started with Catherine Cookson and Jilly Cooper novels, and spiced it up with some Mills & Boon. Now based in Chicago, she writes romances of her own, where sexy contemporary alpha heroes and strong heroines match each other quip for quip. When not immersed in tales of brooding mill owners, oversexed equestrians, and men who can rock an apron or a fire hose.

 

 

Giveaway:

Kate Meader will be giving away a $25 Amazon gift card during release week. To enter, please go here!

 

Thank you to NetGalley, especially Pocket Books, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

 

For more information on Kate Meader, visit her website at: katemeader.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @KittyMeader

#GuestPost & #Excerpt
Zenka by Alison Brodie
@alisonbrodie2

 

Synopsis:

Ruthless, stubborn and loyal.

Zenka is a Hungarian pole-dancer with a dark past.

When cranky London mob boss, Jack Murray, saves her life she vows to become his guardian angel – whether he likes it or not. Happily, she now has easy access to pistols, knuckle-dusters and shotguns.

Jack learns he has a son, Nicholas, a community nurse with a heart of gold. Problem is, Nicholas is a wimp.

Zenka takes charge. Using her feminine wiles and gangland contacts, she aims to turn Nicholas into a son any self-respecting crime boss would be proud of. And she succeeds!

Nicholas transforms from pussycat to mad dog, falls in love with Zenka, and finds out where the bodies are buried – because he buries them. He’s learning fast that sometimes you have to kill, or be killed.

As his life becomes more terrifying, questions have to be asked:

How do you tell a crime boss you don’t want to be his son?

And is Zenka really who she says she is?

 

Excerpt:

 

Prologue One 

7 July, 2011

My dearest Alina,

Olga Savchukis is a lying bitch. She say I vill be taken care of. I vill get good job in London. Good job?! She sells me to Romanians. I kick man in balls. I bite. But I cannot get out. Even vindows locked. I know if I am injected I can never escape, NEVER.

Suddenly doors crash open and there is much shooting of guns. After is silence. A man with a face like crumpled McDonald bag takes us outside. The other girls are like sleepvalkers. We have to step over dead Romanians.

The man who saves us is Jack Murray – I am not allowed to tell who he is, but I can tell YOU because you are in Hungary and cannot sneak. He is top gang boss in London.

He hates Romanians. He says it’s very bad thing they do to girls. The girls who escaped that night get jobs in bakery and supermarket. Me? I vill not leave Jack.

Remember the puppy, Yuki? I am like that. I follow Jack all around. He says I am nuisance. I offer myself to him. I am virgin but he deserves me. But he doesn’t vant me! He says he is too old. I say he is not too old. He tries to ignore me. But nobody can ignore Zenka Valentina Varga if she does not vant to be ignored. Ha!

You saved my life, I tell him, now I am your guardian angel. He rolls his eyes to heaven as if seeking patience from God, and says: How can you be guardian angel ven you are only five foot two? I say I am small but a grenade is also small.

I get job in Jack’s club, The Men’s Room. I tell manager I do pole dancing. (That is ven girl climbs up and down pole – I don’t make it sound sexy – but it is ven it is done right). Me? I try to turn upside down, and fall into a heap. Now I am STAR performer!

I ver vigs, blonde, black, orange, pink, depending on my mood. Job pays good vage and the customers throw money on the stage – not like other places ver the man puts money in girl’s panties with fingers – urgh! If man touches me, I slap his face. He is shocked but his friends laugh.

Jack tells me not to attack customers – it is not good for business, he say. Yesterday I scratch customer because he hurts new girl. Jack is angry with me, but then he goes outside and punches the customer. So JACK can punch but I cannot scratch? Ver is the justice in THAT?

Jack has bodyguards. Lockjaw looks like Frankenstein. Vince is tall but he never talk. Billy is short and square and he talk too much. He teaches me Cockney:

“Bollocks” is a man’s balls. But if you say “Don’t drop a bollock” it means don’t make a mistake. “I’m the dog’s bollocks” is ven man thinks he is the best. Jack says this all the time.

I have to tell you. Ven Jack is angry, it makes me laugh. He can be tough with men, but he cannot be tough with vomen. He is like the father I never had. He tells me to find good husband and I say, yes, yes, Jack, to shut his mouth.

My dearest friend. Do you know ver Olga Savchukis can be found? If you know this, tell me. Then I can kill her.

Your loving friend,

Zenka. x

How is the family? 

Fifty miles away, at exactly the same time…

 

Early Praise for Zenka:

“A riveting read. Powerful. Spicy” -Midwest Book Review

5* “To say I loved this story would be a massive understatement” –Bloggers from Down Under

5* “Will warm your heart and chill your bones” –Tome Tender Blogspot

5* “Top of my list for best fiction this year” – Lauren Sapala, WriteCity

5* “You won’t be able to put this book down” –Laura Reading

5*   “Brodie nails it again. Intelligent wit and outstanding writing” –Charlie Elliott, author of Life Unbothered.

 

About the Author:

Alison Brodie is a Scot, with French Huguenot ancestors on her mother’s side. She is a writer and animal rights activist. Her books have been published in hardback and paperback by Hodder & Stoughton (UK), Heyne (Germany) and Unieboek (Holland). Alison is now a self-publisher. Here are some editorial reviews for her recent books:

BRAKE FAILURE: “Masterpiece of humor” –Midwest Book Review

THE DOUBLE: “Proof of her genius in writing fiction” -San Francisco Book Review.

 

Thank you to Alison Brodie for providing me with an excerpt for my blog today! It was truly an honour!

Preorder a copy of this novel from your favourite retailer or from the following link!

For more information on Alison Brodie visit her website at: alisonbrodiebooks.com

or follow her on Twitter at@alisonbrodie2 or Facebook at: AlisonBrodieAuthor

#Excerpt
Becoming Bonnie by Jenni L. Walsh
@jennilwalsh @torbooks

Synopsis:

From debut historical novelist Jenni L. Walsh, Becoming Bonnie is the untold story of how wholesome Bonnelyn Parker became half of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde duo!

The summer of 1927 might be the height of the Roaring Twenties, but Bonnelyn Parker is more likely to belt out a church hymn than sling drinks at an illicit juice joint. She’s a sharp girl with plans to overcome her family’s poverty, provide for herself, and maybe someday marry her boyfriend, Roy Thornton. But when Roy springs a proposal on her and financial woes jeopardize her ambitions, Bonnelyn finds salvation in an unlikely place: Dallas’s newest speakeasy, Doc’s.

Living the life of a moll at night, Bonnie remains a wholesome girl by day, engaged to Roy, attending school and working toward a steady future. When Roy discovers her secret life, and embraces it—perhaps too much, especially when it comes to booze and gambling—Bonnie tries to make the pieces fit. Maybe she can have it all: the American Dream, the husband, and the intoxicating allure of jazz music. What she doesn’t know is that her life—like her country—is headed for a crash.

She’s about to meet Clyde Barrow.

Few details are known about Bonnie’s life prior to meeting her infamous partner. In Becoming Bonnie, Jenni L. Walsh shows a young woman promised the American dream and given the Great Depression, and offers a compelling account of why she fell so hard for a convicted felon—and turned to crime herself.

Excerpt:

Chapter 1    

But I, being poor, have only my dreams.

Hands in my hair, I look over the words I wrote on the Mason jar atop my bureau. I snigger, almost as if I’m antagonizing the sentiment. One day I won’t be poor with dreams. I’ll have money and dreams.

I drop my hair and swallow a growl, never able to get my stubborn curls quite right.

My little sister carefully sets her pillow down, tugs at the corner to give it shape, the final touch to making her bed. “Stop messing with it.”

“Easy for you to say. The humidity ain’t playing games with your hair.”

And Little Billie’s hair is down. Smooth and straight. Mine is pinned back into a low bun. Modest and practical.

Little Billie chuckles. “Well, I’m going before Mama hollers at me. Church starts in twenty minutes and you know she’s got to watch everyone come in.”

I shake my head; that woman always has her nose to the ground. Little Billie scoots out of our bedroom and I get back to taming my flyaways and scan my bureau for my favorite stud earrings, one of our few family heirlooms. Footsteps in the hall quicken my fingers. I slide in another hairpin, jabbing my skull. “I’m coming, Ma!”

A deep cough.

I turn to find my boyfriend taking up much of the doorway. He’s got his broad shoulders and tall frame to thank for that.

I smile, saying, “Oh, it’s only you.”

Roy’s own smile doesn’t quite form. “Yes, it’s only me.”

I wave him off, a strand falling out of place. Roy being ’round ain’t nothin’ new, but on a Sunday morning … That gets my heart bumping with intrigue. “What ya doing here so early? The birds are barely chirpin’.”

“It ain’t so early. Got us less than twenty minutes ’til—”

“I know.”

“Thought I could walk you to church,” Roy says.

“Is that so?” My curiosity builds, ’specially with how this boy is shifting his weight from side to side. He’s up to something. And I ain’t one to be kept in the dark. Fingers busy with my hair, I motion with my elbow and arch a brow. “That for me?”

Roy glances down at an envelope in his hand, as if he forgot he was even holding it. He moves it behind his back. “It can wait. There’s actually something else—”

I’m across the room in a heartbeat, tugging on his arm. “Oh no it can’t.”

On the envelope, “Final Notice” stares back at me in bold letters. The sender is our electric company. Any excitement is gone.

“I’m sorry, Bonnelyn,” Roy says. “Caught my eye on it in the bushes out front.”

My arms fall to my sides and I stare unblinking at the envelope, not sure how something so small, so light, could mean something so big, so heavy, for our family. “I didn’t know my ma hadn’t been paying this.”

Roy pushes the envelope, facedown, onto my bureau. “I can help pay—”

“Thanks, but we’ll figure it out.” I sigh at my hair, at our unpaid bill, at the fact I’m watching my sister after church instead of putting in hours at the diner. Fortunately, my brother’s pulling a double at the cement plant. Ma will be at the factory all afternoon. But will it be enough?

I move in front of the wall mirror to distract myself. Seeing my hand-me-down blouse ain’t helping. I peek at Roy, hoping I don’t find pity on his face. There he goes again, throwing his weight from foot to foot. And, sure, that boy is sweet as pie, but I know he ain’t antsy thinkin’ my lights are suddenly going to go off.

“Everything okay, Roy?”

“Yeah.”

That yeah ain’t so convincing.

“You almost done here?” he asks. Roy shifts the old Mason jar to the side, holds up the earring I’d been looking for.

I nod—to the earring, not to being done—and he brings it to me. Despite how this morning is turning out, I smile, liking that Roy knew what I was looking for without me having to tell him.

“Ready now?” he says.

I slide another pin into my hair. “Why’s everyone rushing me?”

Roy swallows, and if I had five clams to bet, I’d bet he’s nervous ’bout something. He edges closer to my bureau. He shakes the Mason jar, the pieces of paper rustling inside. “When did you write this on the outside?”

But I, being poor, have only my dreams.

I avert my eyes, being those words weren’t meant for Roy’s. “Not too long ago.”

“Ya know, Bonnelyn, you won’t always be poor. I’ll make sure of that.”

“I know I won’t.” I add a final pin to my hair. I’ll make sure of that.

“So why’d you write it?”

“I didn’t. William Butler Yeats did.”

Roy shoves his hands in his pockets. “You know what I mean.”

I shrug and stare at my reflection. “It inspires me, wanting to be more than that line. And I will. I’ll put a white picket fence in front of my house to prove it.”

Your house?”

I turn away from the mirror to face him. His voice sounded off. Too high. But Roy ain’t looking at me. He’s staring at the wall above my head. “Our house,” I correct, a pang of guilt stabbing me in the belly ’cause I didn’t say our to begin with. “That jar is full of our dreams, after all.”

Really, it’s full of doodles, scribbled on whatever paper Roy had on hand. Napkins. Ripped corners of his textbook pages. The top flap of a cereal box. He shoved the first scrap of paper in my hand when we were only knee-high to a grasshopper: quick little drawings of me and him in front of the Eiffel Tower, riding horses with dogs running ’round our feet, holding hands by the Gulf’s crashing waves.

Our dreams. Plenty of ’em. Big and small. Whimsical and sweet.

But this here is the twenties. Women can vote; women are equals, wanting to make a name for themselves. I’m no exception. Sure, I’ll bring those doodles to life with Roy, but I would’ve added my own sketches to the jar if I could draw. Standing at the front of my very own classroom. At a bank counter, depositing my payroll checks. Shaking hands with a salesman, purchasing my first car.

Call it selfish, call it whatever ya like, but after struggling for money all my life, my dreams have always come before ours.

Still, I link our hands. “I’m ready to go.”

* * *

“Hallelujah!”

The congregation mimics my pastor’s booming voice. The women flick their fans faster with excitement. Pastor Frank shuffles to the right, then to the left, sixty-some eyes following his every movement. From the choir pews off to the side, I watch his mesmerized flock hang on his every word, myself included. My ma is amidst the familiar faces. She prefers to use Daddy’s brown hat to cool herself, holding on to him even after he’s been gone all these years. I can’t say I blame her.

“Amen!” we chime.

Pastor Frank nods at me, and I move from the choir box to the piano. I bring my hands down and the first chords of “Onward, Christian Soldiers” roar to life. Every Sunday, I sit on this here bench, press my fingers into the keys, and let the Lord’s words roll off my tongue. Ma says Daddy would be proud too. I sure hope that’s true.

It’s another reason why I’ll make something of myself. In our small town or in a big city, it doesn’t matter much, but Bonnelyn Parker is going to be somebody. Wherever life takes me, whatever final notice stands in my way, my daddy will look down on me and smile, knowing I ain’t struggling, I’m thriving. I’m more than poor.

I push my voice louder, raise my chin, and sing the hymn’s last note, letting it vibrate with the piano’s final chord.

The congregation shouts praises to the Lord as Pastor Frank clasps his hands together and tells us all to, “Go and spread His word.”

Voices break out, everyone beating their gums at once. I slip off the bench, weave through the crowd. A few people are always louder than the rest. Mrs. Davis is having a potluck lunch. Mr. Miller’s best horse is sick. He spent his early morning hours in his barn, from the looks of his dirty overalls.

Ma’s got more pride than a lion and makes certain we’re dressed to the nines, even if our nine is really only a five. Still, my older brother’s vest and slacks are his Sunday best. And even though we’ve got secondhand clothes, my sister’s and my white blouses are neatly tucked into our skirts. We may be pretending to look the part, but our family always gets by. We find a way, just like we’ll make sure that electric bill gets paid. Though I don’t like how Ma let this bill get so late.

I rush through the church’s double doors, sucking in fresh air, and shield my eyes from the sun. A laugh slips out. There’s my brother, playing keep-away from my little sister with one of her once white shoes. Buster tosses the shoe to Roy. Roy fumbles it. No surprise there, but part of me wonders if his nerves from earlier are sticking ’round. On the way to church, he wouldn’t let me get a word in, going on nonstop ’bout the weather. I reckon the summer of 1927 is hot, real hot, but not worth all his fuss.

“Little Billie, those boys picking on you?” I call, skipping down the church steps, keeping my eyes on Roy.

He takes immediate notice of me, missing my brother’s next throw. “Say, Bonnelyn.” Roy wipes his hairline. “I was hoping to do this before church, but you were having trouble with your…” He gestures toward his own hair, then stops, wisely thinkin’ better of it. “I’ve a surprise for you.”

“A surprise? Why didn’t you tell me so? I could’ve hurried.”

He also wisely doesn’t comment on my earlier irritation at being hurried.

“Follow me?” Roy asks, his brown eyes hopeful.

“Not today, lover boy,” Buster cuts in. “Bonn’s watching Billie.”

Billie hops toward me on one foot, her voice bouncing as she proclaims how she’s eleven and doesn’t need to be babysat no more. I bend to pick up her lost shoe, letting out a long sigh. Roy sighs too. But Roy also looks like a puppy that’s been kicked.

“Will the surprise take long?” I ask him. “Buster doesn’t need to be at work for another two hours.”

“Actually an hour,” my brother says. “But Roy here probably only needs a few minutes, tops.” He winks, and Roy playfully charges him.

My cheeks flush, and not ’cause Roy and I have done that. Roy hasn’t even looked at me in a way that would lead to that.

“Let’s go.” I bounce on my toes and push Roy down the dirt-packed street, then realize I don’t know where I’m going and let Roy lead. Buster’s laugher trails us.

We go over one block, passing my house, nestled between the cemetery and the library. An old picket fence that Ma’s been harping on my brother to paint for ages stretches ’cross the front.

Cement City is barely more than an intersection, and there ain’t much farther to go; just the cement plant, a few farms, and the river. Then there are the railroad tracks, separating us from Dallas.

I glance up at Roy, confused, when we stop at a home just past the library.

He motions toward the house, his sweaty hand taking mine with his. He swallows, his Adam’s apple bobbing.

“What is it?” I ask him. “Why’re we here?”

“My father said they are going to tear down this old shack.”

With its crooked shutters, chipped paint, caved-in roof, I can understand why. No one’s lived here for years, and Ma doesn’t go a day without complaining ’bout its drab looks and how it’s bad for our little town.

I nod in agreement.

“But,” he says, “I’ve been squirreling away my pennies, and I’ve enough to save her.”

A cool heat rushes me, but I’m not sure how that’s possible. I wipe a strand of hair from my face. “You’re buying this here house?”

“I am,” he says, his Adam’s apple bouncing again. “For you and me. Our house.” Roy keeps talking before I can get a word—or thought—in. “Bonnelyn…” He trails off, digs into his pocket. “Here’s another one for your jar.”

My eyes light up, recognizing one of Roy’s infamous black-and-white doodles.

It’s our church.

It’s Roy.

It’s me, in a puffy dress.

I look up from the doodle. It’s Roy no longer standing in front of me but down on one knee.

“Bonnelyn Elizabeth Parker,” he says, “I’m fixin’ to take you down the middle aisle.”

I knit my brows. “Are you proposing?”

“Well I ain’t down here to tie my shoe.”

I’d laugh, but I’m stunned. Marriage? With Roy? I swallow, and stare at the drawing, his lovely, heartfelt drawing.

Sure, marrying Roy has always been in the cards. But … I’m not sure I’m ready yet. Some people wait ’til their twenties to get married, in today’s day and age, giving ’em plenty of time to make their own mark.

Roy taps the underside of my chin, forcing my gaze away from his doodle and down to him.

“I … um … I’m flattered Roy. I am. But we’re only seventeen—”

“Not now.” He stands slowly and palms my cheek that’s probably as flushed as his own. “We’ve got some growing up to do first. I know you got dreams for yourself.”

I sigh, in a good way. Hearing him acknowledge my goals relaxes me. Those jitterbugs change a smidge to butterflies. “You really want to marry me?”

“I do, Bonn.” Roy leans down, quite the feat to my five-foot-nothin’ height, and presses his lips lightly to mine. “When we’re good and ready. You tell me when, and that’ll be it. We’ll create a life together. How does that sound?”

I smile, even while my chest rises from a shaky breath. I curse my nerves for dulling my excitement. My boyfriend declaring he’s ready to build a life with me shouldn’t give me the heebie-jeebies. It doesn’t, I decide.

“We’ll finish school,” Roy says.

I force my smile wider.

“I’ll get a good-paying job as a reporter,” he goes on. “You can become a teacher, like you’ve always wanted. You can lead the drama club, be onstage, do pageants with our little girls.”

Now my grin is genuine. “We’re going to have little girls?”

“Of course. A little fella, too. ’Til then, I’ll fix this house up. She’ll be spiffy when I’m done with her, white picket fence and everything.”

“You think?”

“I know it.” He dips to my eye level. “You’re happy, right?”

Am I happy? I roll those five letters ’round my head. Yes, I’ve been stuck on Roy for ages. He made me happy when we were seven and he picked me dandelions, when we were ten and he stopped Buster from making me kiss a frog, when we were thirteen and he patched up my knee after I fell off my bike. The memories keep on coming, and I don’t want that happiness to stop. His proposal caught me off guard, that’s all. But, yes, we’ll make something of ourselves, and we’ll do it together.

I lean onto my tiptoes and peck his lips with a kiss. “Roy Thornton, I’d be honored to be your wife one day.”

He hoots, swooping his arms under me. Before I know it, I’m cradled against his chest and we’re swinging in a circle.

I scream, but it’s playful. “You better not drop me, you clumsy fool.”

He answers me with a kiss on the side of my head, and then another and another, as he carries me toward my ma’s house.

Freeze, I think. I don’t want the secure way he holds me, the way the air catches my skirt, the hope for what’s to come, to stop, ever.

Copyright © 2017 by Jenni L. Walsh

About the Author:

Jenni L. Walsh spent her early years chasing around cats, dogs, and chickens in Philadelphia’s countryside, before dividing time between a soccer field and a classroom at Villanova University. She put her marketing degree to good use as an advertising copywriter, zip-code hopping with her husband to DC, NYC, NJ, and not surprisingly, back to Philly. There, Jenni’s passion for words continued, adding author to her resume. She now balances her laptop with a kid on each hip, and a four-legged child at her feet.

 

Thank you to Jenni L. Walsh and Forge Books for providing me with an extract for my blog today! It was truly an honour to participate!

This novel is available now!

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links:

                                          

For more information on Jenni L. Walsh visit her website at: jennilwalsh.com 

or follow her on Twitter at: @jennilwalsh

#BlogTour & #Excerpt
The Summer House Party by Caro Fraser
@carofraser @HoZ_Books

Synopsis:

In the gloriously hot summer of 1936, a group of people meet at a country house party. Within three years, the country will be engulfed in war, but for now time stands still as they sip champagne on the lawn, engaging in casual flirtations and carefree conversation. Then a shocking death puts an end to their revelry, changing everything in an instant.

For all of them, that summer house party will be a turning point. The mistakes made during that fateful weekend will change their lives forever.

Excerpt:

1     

     It was an afternoon in late August, and Daniel Ranscombe was travelling on the 4.49 train from Waterloo to Surrey. The train drew to a creaking halt just outside the sleepy village of Staplow, and settled with a hiss of steam into the summer silence. Dan gazed out of the window at a field of mournful-eyed cows twitching their tails at flies. Half-remembered lines of poetry from school slipped into his mind, something about a train stopped at a country station… No one left and no one came on the bare platform – tee tum tee something Adlestrop … and willows, willow-herb and grass, and meadowsweet, and hay- cocks high… He tried to string the verses together – he had known them by heart once – but his lazy mind wasn’t up to it. He stretched his legs out, closed his eyes, and contemplated in his mind the coming house party, which was being hosted by his godmother, Sonia, and her husband Henry Haddon, the renowned artist. The prospect of spending ten days at the fag end of summer enjoying the comforts of a fine country house was more than agreeable, especially as there would be other young people there, in the shape of Sonia’s niece, Meg, and Paul and Diana Latimer, to keep things lively. Meg he had yet to meet, though he had heard a few things about her from both Paul and Diana. The Latimers were the son and daughter of old friends of the Haddons, and Dan knew them well. Diana was a regular on the London social scene, and she and Dan flirted with one another whenever their paths crossed, though more as a matter of course than with any genuine conviction. Diana’s older brother, Paul, had been Dan’s senior by three years at Eton, and then at Cambridge, and Dan had certain misgivings – misgivings which he freely admitted were born out of envy and resentment – about meeting him again.

     It seemed he was constantly being made aware of Paul’s achievements, which markedly eclipsed Dan’s so far unspectacular headway in the world. Paul had been a veritable hero to Dan at school – athletic, brainy, captain of the First XV and head of house, friendly and decent, full of charm and self-confidence. When Dan had encountered him again at Cambridge the school- boy charm had begun to wear a trifle thin – the self-confidence was turning into self-importance, and the bluff affability had taken on a somewhat patronising quality – but there was no doubt that Paul’s star continued to burn with undimmed lustre. He had a reputation as a fine oar, an excellent bat, and a debater of such formidable skill that a career in Parliament was confidently predicted. Not that Paul had much need of a career. His parents had died while he and Diana were still in their teens, and to come into that much money at so young an age – well, it just seemed damnably unfair to add wealth to such a store of talent. Dan was acutely resentful of Paul’s ability to spend half the year climbing mountains and crossing deserts, and generally leading the life of the English gentleman adventurer, and the other half idling in his club and studying the stock market. Lucky blighter. He would probably arrive at Woodbourne House by car, with a ton of luggage and a manservant. Dan’s own luggage consisted of one suitcase containing his dress suit, the few decent shirts and ties he possessed, flannels and a blazer, underwear, pyjamas, shaving kit and toothbrush. It was all he could afford, and it would have to do.

     Dan himself had come down from Cambridge two years ago with a degree in modern languages and, unwilling to follow his father into the diplomatic service, had taken a job as a reporter on the London Graphic. Despite his innate laziness he had been surprised to discover that he was, even with the minimum of effort, quite a good journalist. Now, a year later, he had graduated to being the Graphic’s arts correspondent. It wasn’t a job that brought him a great deal of money.

     Dan contemplated the cows as they ripped up soft mouthfuls of cud, and wondered how much he would have to tip the Woodbourne House servants. That kind of thing could bleed a man dry. Not a consideration which would worry Paul Latimer – but then, nothing much worried Paul, favourite of the gods.

     The train gave a creak and chugged slowly into life. Dan rummaged in his pocket for his cigarettes. As he pulled them out, the stout matron sitting opposite raised her eyes from her knitting and gave him a reproving glance. He returned them to his pocket and glanced at his wristwatch. Only ten more minutes till they reached Malton where, his godmother had informed him, her niece Margaret would meet him.

     As the train slid into a tunnel, Dan contemplated his reflection in the carriage window. Aware of his own good looks since the age of twelve, he had yet to become bored by them. The face that looked back at him was handsome, the features nicely chiselled, the mouth sensitive and not too full, eyes blue and soulful. If the old bird hadn’t been present, he might have practiced his charming, crooked grin, but he made do instead with passing his fingers through the waves of his thick blond hair and giving his reflection a final admiring glance before the train slid back into sunlight. He hoped there would be a few decent girls at the house party.

     Dan was the only passenger to alight at Melton. He saw a little two-seater Austin parked next to the fence by the road, a girl in a short-sleeved blouse and linen trousers leaning against its bonnet. She waved when she saw Dan, and he carried his case over to the car. So this was Meg. Neither Paul nor Diana had mentioned quite how attractive she was. She had long, curling chestnut hair and dark eyes flecked with green, delicately arched brows and lightly tanned skin, and a very pretty figure. His hopes had been fulfilled. At least one looker on the premises.

     ‘You must be Daniel. I’m Meg Slater,’ she said.

     Dan smiled and shook her hand. ‘Please, call me Dan. Good to meet you at last. I’ve heard a lot about you from Paul and Diana.’

     ‘Nice things, I hope. Here, chuck your bag in the back.’ She got into the car and settled herself behind the wheel. Dan guessed from the intentness of her gaze and the set of her body that she hadn’t been driving for long.

About the Author:

 

Caro Fraser is the author of the bestselling Caper Court novels, based on her own experiences as a lawyer. She is the daughter of bestselling Flashman author George MacDonald Fraser.


Thank you to Caro Fraser and Head of Zeus for providing me with an extract for my blog today! It was truly an honour to participate!

This novel is available now!

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links:

                                          

For more information on Caro Fraser visit her website at: caro-fraser.co.uk 

or follow her on Twitter at: @carofraser

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