May 152021
 

Waylaid (True North #8) by Sarina Bowen

It’s a tale as old as time: the bad boy meets the good girl. He makes a daring proposition. Then the boy gets a mysterious head injury and loses a year of his life…

The first time I meet Rickie, I don’t know what to make of him. The second time we meet, he doesn’t remember the six hours we spent together. Or standing me up afterward.

I’m not the same, either. I’ve got secrets. I’ve told lies. Bad boys aren’t my type, anyway. Even the ones with troubled gray eyes.

But now we’re roommates. Cue the awkward moments in the hallway when he’s wearing only a towel and a smile. He’s determined to win me over, and his talented hands weaken my resolve.

It’s all fun and games until my past rears its ugly head and his secrets come to light, shaking our fragile connection, maybe even breaking it…

Note: this is Daphne Shipley’s story. Contents include Vermonty ice cream flavors, nerdy awkwardness, tattoos, and a playboy grandpa.

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Feb 272021
 

Bombshells by Sarina Bowen

The women’s league is in the house! And Brooklyn will never be the same again for Anton Bayer and the team…

This is my last chance to ditch my playboy reputation and finally fulfill my potential. So I’ve made three rules for our biggest season yet: no boozing, no women, and no scandals.

Especially that last thing.

So who do I befriend on the very first day back at the rink? An amazing female hockey player. I want Sylvie in a way that’s more than just friendly. I crave her. But I have a championship to win, and so does she.

Then she gets her heart broken by my teammate, and I make the foolish mistake of comforting her in the best way I know how. Our night together sets off a string of sins.

Nobody can know about our affair, especially my overprotective teammate. I can’t let anyone see into my greedy little heart. Not even her.

The things I want from her, and the things we’ve already done? If anyone knew, there’d be bombshells.

Contains: a defenseman with dreamy blue eyes, a female goalie with bad ideas, a major battle of the sexes and a swimming pool scene…

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Dec 172020
 
The WORLD OF TRUE NORTH by Sarina Bowen

The WORLD OF TRUE NORTH by Sarina Bowen

Below is the current list of books that have been listed as part of the world created by the series True North by Sarina Bowen.

So far, here are the cover reveals or future planned books. Click on each photo for the book you are interested in, or click them all!!!

Speakeasy

Touchstone by Karen Stivali (July 1, 2021.)

Sam doesn’t think love is in the cards. The cards disagree.

When Phoebe Stevens’ life implodes in a spectacularly public fashion, she’s desperate to escape Manhattan. So the offer of a job setting up a new Vermont gastropub couldn’t come at a better time. Driving a U-Haul on winding mountain roads is Phoebe’s personal version of hell. But when the caretaker of her guesthouse answers the door tousled, shirtless, and baking cinnamon rolls, her first impression of Vermont dramatically improves.

Sam Trembley believes everyone gets one true love, but he’s already blown his chance. He’s spent five years avoiding relationships. Now he’s back in Colebury where sunrise tarot draws and forest hikes soothe his soul. But why do the tarot cards keep showing him this nonsense about soulmates? Could it have anything to do with the jaded city girl on his doorstep?

Playing tour guide is fun, but taste-testing her culinary creations as she shimmies her luscious hips around his kitchen is downright irresistible. Soon their chemistry burns hotter than the pub’s wood-fired oven.

Has fate brought them together for a summer of love…or a lifetime of happiness?

Touchstone contains craving-inducing menu planning, a sassy white witch grandma, seismic sexy times, and tarot cards on a mission to prove soulmates are real.

Heartwood by J.H. Croix (July 1, 2021.)

She needs a fresh start. He wants a second chance…

My new job as a chef in a small town was supposed to be my ticket to peace and  quiet. I didn’t expect to run into the former hockey star who gave me the hottest nights of my life. And, oops, he’s sort-of my new boss. So much for keeping my past where it belongs.

Ty still thinks I’m the fun party girl. He has no idea how much things have changed. One thing that hasn’t changed: the spark between us. It’s hotter than the blowtorch I use on my crème brûlée.

I’m already keeping secrets, so what’s one more? Our tryst is forbidden, it’s fun, and it gets complicated as fast as you can say “check, please.” I didn’t expect to have a future with Ty. And I definitely didn’t expect to have a baby with him. Some falls are harder than others. But it depends on who’s there to catch you…

Homecoming by Rebecca Norinne (Jul 1, 2021.)

Who knew falling in love with my fake girlfriend could feel so real?

I don’t have time for distractions, which is a huge problem since my new next door neighbor Rosalie Wentworth is very distracting. She’s kind, beautiful, and makes me laugh like no woman ever has before.

Unfortunately, the two of us add up to one really sad country song—I’m nursing a bruised ego following a broken engagement and she’s suffering through a messy divorce—so I vow to set my attraction aside and focus on being her friend instead.

That’s easier said than done, however, since her mom is convinced Rosalie and I are perfect for each other. When one of her matchmaking schemes goes a step too far, Rosalie and I hatch a plan of our own: pretend to date for a couple of months to get her mom off our backs.

It’s foolproof, really.

Only, what started as a fake relationship is starting to feel very real, and now I don’t know if I can go back to the way things were before. Because it turns out if home is where the heart is, then Rosalie is mine.

Sideways by Lisa Hughey (Jul 1, 2021.)

She’s a political princess and media darling… 

There’s no such thing as bad publicity. Yeah, right. Tell that to the PR firm that handles Tracy’s very prominent political family. Pushed by scandal from Boston to the boondocks, now she’s on the other side of the serving tray, dishing up beer and burgers, hoping no one recognizes her. But there’s something very familiar–and maddeningly tempting–about the new caterer at Speakeasy.

He’s a cranky recluse…

Colton was the star of the celebrity chef circuit until he wasn’t anymore. Now he lives in a remote country cabin and spends his time alone, far from the spotlight and liking it that way. Until the gorgeous new waitress at Speakeasy starts poking at his resolve and suddenly all he wants is to see her let down her hair. And spread it all over his pillow. She’s got secrets he knows he won’t like, but he can’t stay away from her.

She lives in the spotlight, and he hates attention. When her public life collides with his private one, can their love write a fairy-tale ending after all?

Wildflower by Mae Wood (Aug 2, 2021.)

When the prize is love, sometimes you get stung. But if you’re lucky, you just might hit the sweet spot…

Juliana Burton needs a medal at Speakeasy’s beer festival to push her brand-new brewery into the spotlight. She thinks she knows how to do it, too–with a beer made exclusively from Vermont hops, barley and the best honey in the state. Too bad the only thing standing in her way is a six feet tall, smokin’ sexy, and her secret high school crush.

After a very public disaster in Boston, Riggs Lyon is home with his teenage son in tow.  Riggs is taking over the family beekeeping business with an eye to offload it and start life over somewhere where “Lyin’ Lyon” isn’t a joke. Selling honey to Juliana doesn’t make business sense. She can’t afford the high prices Lyon honey fetches in specialty shops and farmer’s markets. But somehow, he’s having trouble saying no to anything she asks for, whether it’s in the hive or in the bedroom.

Firefly by Krystyna Allyn (Aug 2, 2021.)

It’s my last night in New York. And the woman of my dreams is three feet away, expertly twirling a bottle of vodka behind the bar and making the perfect pour. I’ve never seen anyone as beautiful as Melody, with her enigmatic eyes and a gorgeous smile. All I have to do is introduce myself. And then…

I choke. And my chance for something–anything–with her is gone.

Months later, I think I’m dreaming when I see her doing bartender tricks here in Vermont. Now all I can think about is having those long, beautiful, fingers performing their magic on my body.

But I’m pretty sure she’s hiding something. It’s painfully obvious she’s keeping me at arm’s length just when I need to hold her close. She brings out my protective instincts, but I’ve got problems of my own. If I’m not careful, I’ll destroy everything I’m trying to build.

Losing her again might break me this time, because now I can’t imagine life without the light of my Firefly.

Starlight by Christine DePetrillo (Sept2, 2021.)

He doesn’t trust women. She only trusts dogs. Why can’t they keep their paws off each other?  

Darren Reade builds stone walls in Vermont–and around his heart. Women don’t stick around, so it’s better to put up No Trespassing signs and focus on raising his adopted son. Darren is willing to do whatever it takes to help the boy cope with his mother’s death. But doing it alone is a challenge.

Grace Hollings indulges her love of old-school jazz by singing nights at the Speakeasy Taproom,  and spends her days training service dogs, connecting small humans with smart pooches. Of course she’d planned to be married already, but a failed engagement has taught her that dogs make better company than men.

One evening, Grace and Darren don’t exchange names, but they do engage in a single night neither of them will forget. Is once all there is? Or can they train their hearts to trust what they’ve built under the starlight?

Stargazer by Wendy S. Marcus (Sept2, 2021.)

Randall Dickson is coping. Sort of. An upcoming medical eval, one that could end his military career, has him stressed and making bad choices. So when a concerned friend issues a strongly-worded “invitation” to Vermont, R.D. is all in for a change of scenery, a temporary job as a bartender, and the opportunity to shake himself out of his self-destructive routine.

Then he sets eyes on his seriously sexy new co-worker…

Lily Reynolds, an artist by day, Speakeasy’s favorite bartender at night, works hard to stay positive, unlike her surly new coworker. He may be a treat to look at, but that grumpy attitude and terse manner are not her type. So when Lily finds herself in desperate need of someone to share expenses, she convinces R.D. to rent her vacant room. There’s no way she’ll find herself falling for him.

She’d like to find the secret admirer who’s leaving her secret love notes around the bar, though. But he won’t reveal himself…

This standalone contains: opposites who definitely attract, a workplace romance and an opinionated French bulldog.

Safeguard by Wendy S. Marcus (Sept 2, 2021.)

Jilted. Living in a glorified closet. The world’s worst bar waitress. I just need to keep a roof over my head and make tuition payments until I can finish graduate school. Then my real life will start. But right now, long nights at the Speakeasy have me burning the candle at both ends and the wax melting all over my fingers.

When a bar manager offers me a job taking care of his adorable five-year-old daughter, it seems like the perfect solution. I get a quiet place to study. Matteo gets a reliable sitter.

There should be no complications. Except that I like my new boss a little too much. His gorgeous dark eyes humble me, and the long talks we share fill me up inside. I can’t possibly fall for him.

But the undeniable pull between us leads to a scorching kiss I can’t ignore or forget, and suddenly I’ve fallen for them both, father and daughter.

And now three hearts are at stake.

MOO U HOCKEY SERIES

Welcome to Sarina Bowen’s World of True North! 
The Moo U series features Vermont-style hockey hotness: Join the boys at Burlington U, where the team is gearing up for greatness. You’re getting ten sexy books following the Moo U hockey team. Each one is a stand-alone romance, but they are loosely grouped into seasons of play:
Season One:
Blindsided by Victoria Denault
Slapshot by Rebecca Jenshak
Season Two: 
Holdout by Jaqueline Snowe
Gametime by Jami Davenport
Overtime by Kat Mizera
Season Three:
Halftime by Kim Findley
Darkroom by Kate Willoughby
Playmaker by Sierra Hill
Season Four:
Snowballed by Melanie Ting
Goalkeeper by Andi Burns

Blindsided by Victoria Denault (Feb 15th, 2021)

What if Romeo wore hockey skates, and Juliet was raised on a farm next door?

As a life-long Vermonter, there are three beliefs I’ve always held true:
1. Our family farm is everything
2. Hockey is a close second
3. The Todds next door are our sworn enemies

But this season will test everything I stand for.

I have an illicit side job that could cost me my hockey scholarship. And now Maggie Todd knows my secret. She’s waiting for the right moment to use it against me. But every time I face off against her, I learn things I shouldn’t want to know. Like how deeply her competitive streak runs, and how sexy that is. And how easy it is to make her blush… everywhere.

An Adler and a Todd cannot be lovers. Breaking that rule is like pulling a pin on a grenade–everything in my life could blow up. Can we surrender to these feelings… or will our families’ feud make us its next casualty?

Slapshot by Rebecca Jenshak (Feb 15th, 2021)

I’m banished to Vermont for a scandal that wasn’t my fault, and broke because my famous father cut me off. And did I mention my roommate stole my boyfriend? Yeah, I’m loving my Moo U experience.

Now I need a job, because this gel manicure won’t upkeep itself. The only available option is the last one I’d ever want–a job as the hockey team’s equipment manager. My plan is to do the bare minimum, get paid, and find my way back into my father’s good graces.

I will not get involved with a hockey player, no matter how hot. They’re cocky. And obnoxious. I know their type, and I’m not willing to risk getting hurt again. Until Lex Vonne glides into my life looking like sin on a stick.

He thinks I’m a spoiled brat.
I think he’s using me to get ahead.
But the fire I feel when we’re together is like a slapshot to my heart…

Holdout by Jaqueline Snowe (Feb 15th, 2021)

Jonah Daniels has enough work preparing for his hockey season without spending time interviewing a roommate to help share expenses. So when some dude answers J.D.’s ad and agrees to his terms, he puts a key under the mat and leaves for practice.

What he doesn’t expect is that his new roommate is not a dude at all, but an overtalkative, energetic hottie. What’s worse? She’s the younger sister of his friend on the team, and she’s sworn him to secrecy.

Ryann Reiner needs a place to live, stat. After an incident at the dorms that almost tanked her scholarship, Ryann wants a boring roommate who’ll leave her alone. J.D. almost fits the bill. He lives and breathes hockey, just like her brother, and he wouldn’t know a joke unless it hip checked him against the boards.

He’s also gorgeous. And broody. And he looks fine on laundry day, in too little clothing. Soon, late-night study sessions turn into dangerous flirting. And then a kiss turns into more. But they’re determined to keep things in the feelings-free zone.

Until lines blur and tensions rise when Ryann’s brother learns the truth. And both their hearts are skating on thin ice…

Gametime by Jami Davenport

One drunken night and one case of mistaken identity turns a friendship inside out…

You’ve seen the hockey twins around campus–they look identical, but you can tell them apart by their actions. Patrick is the one who’s busy charming women. Paxton is the one in the library.

Until one night when Paxton parties a little harder than usual. Next thing he knows, he’s waking up naked next to Naomi, the girl of his dreams. He bares his heart before an awful realization sets in. He’s not the twin she thought he was…

Naomi is the only child of a hockey legend. Partying hard is the best way she knows how to rebel against her controlling father. After a particularly crazy night, she realizes her big mistake. Her hookup isn’t the guy she’s been crushing on. It’s Paxton, her friend, the guy who gets her, who she can always count on. The guy she’d never want to hurt. And yet, the sex was good. Better than good.

Now she’s wondering if the wrong twin might be the right one after all . . .

Overtime by Kat Mizera (April 26, 2021)

He needs tutoring in statistics… She needs tutoring in the bedroom…

Hotshot hockey star Patrick Graham has been groomed for the pros since before he could walk. Fast forward to his junior year of college, and he’s having the time of his life. What could be better than pucks, partying, and having his pick of campus women? But if Patrick doesn’t buckle down and get his grades up, he could find himself benched for the championships. Could a beautiful brainiac be the solution to his problems?

Nineteen-year-old Master’s student Ellie McGinn could do so many things with her biology degree, but her mother is pushing her toward a future she doesn’t want. Tutoring a hockey hottie seems like the perfect opportunity to start making her own choices and living life on her own terms.

When learning turns to yearning, will they be ready to face the heat and heartache that love can bring?

HALFTIME - KIM FINDLAY (April 26, 2021)

There’s no halftime in hockey, but maybe there’s one in love…

Drunk dialing your girlfriend to tell her that you didn’t really cheat is a bad idea–a lesson Seb Hunter learned the hard way. It was no surprise when she cut him completely out of her life. Now he’s finally moved on, and he’s looking forward to sophomore year at Moo U. Until his ex arrives on campus.

For goalie Faith Devereaux, cheating is a hard pass. She grew up knowing all too well how destructive infidelity can be. She’s gotten over Seb and picked the college of her dreams. The fact that he’s a student there will not be a problem. Hockey is her priority. Not guys, not dating, definitely not exes.

But when an exhibition game forces them into close proximity, it isn’t long before their old attraction flares. Regaining trust is hard, though, when the heart plays a good defensive game.

But when the goal is love, one more shot might be all they need.

Darkroom - Kate Willoughby (April 26, 2021)

Indi

I’m not gonna lie, being a twenty-one-year-old virgin is ridiculously embarrassing, bordering on pitiful. And if there’s anything I hate, it’s being pitied. So I’m getting my V-card punched this semester. It’s time to stop dreaming about being swept off my feet. Instead, I’m planning a down-and-dirty one-nighter with a certain hot hockey player I’ve been eyeing.

Hudson

As a top draft pick from a family of hockey royalty, I’m under so much pressure that I’m losing my edge on the ice. I need something to snap my brain out of this self-destructive stress-loop. Like a hot night of fun. That’s where Indi Briscoe from my photography class comes in. She’s flirtatious and funny one moment, sweetly shy the next. But then she wants me to pop her cherry.

Jesus.  Did I mention the pressure thing? Am I crazy for starting something with her? Or would I be a fool for saying no?

Warning: this standalone novel contains heat, heart, familial expectations, extreme milkshakes, and a hamster with deep thoughts.

Playmaker - Sierra Hill (June 7, 2021)

There’s no faking it in love or hockey…

Transferring to a new school under false pretenses is harder than I expected, especially when my cocky new housemate, Callan Thomas, annoys me at every pass. He’s treated like a god and revered by everyone on campus. Too bad he made me feel like a rejected fool the first night we met.

But that doesn’t stop me from accepting his offer to become his fake girlfriend, because he has skills that I need. Only Callan can help me improve my game and make the USA women’s hockey team.

I try to keep despising him, but he keeps proving my first impression was wrong. And the more time I spend with him, the more complex my feelings become. I need to tell him the truth about who I really am before anyone finds out and things go too far.

Problem is, I think they already have…

Snowballed - Melanie Ting (June 7, 2021)

She needs Prince Farming . . . but she got me instead.

Sure, life’s been easy for me. Growing up in an oceanside house in SoCal, playing top-level college hockey, driving a luxury car with a generous allowance—sounds like the dream, right? Turns out what I didn’t have was freedom. And when I decided to transfer to Moo U for my last year of hockey, my controlling father cut me off.

No money, no car, no friends. I’m just another student struggling to make ends meet. The only place I can afford to live is the Meyers’ farm, where I’ll work in exchange for room and board. Farm work is so exhausting that I don’t even have time to wallow in the crappy turn my life has taken. Zoe Meyers is a hot blonde Amazon with all the energy of a chipmunk on crack. And her positivity is making me realize how lucky I really am, even though I’m broke. Too bad she’s not impressed by a guy who can’t figure out which end of a goat to milk.

Because suddenly I want to impress her. I want to do a lot more with her too . . . if I can get her out of the barn and into my arms.

Goalkeeper - Andi Burns (June 7, 2021)

Winning games has always been his focus, but will winning her heart become the ultimate goal?

Everyone at Moo U knows the party doesn’t start until Paige Underwood arrives. Not only is she beautiful, she’s fun and charming too. Guys want to date her, and girls want to be her best friend. All Paige wants is to have a good time and make videos for her beauty channel–and maybe get that girl down the hall to do her eyeliner correctly. Is that too much to ask?

According to her parents, yes. They’ve said the party’s over and that it’s time to get focused.

Spencer Briggs knows all about focus. He’s had one goal since he set foot on the ice as a kid: make it to the NHL. After years of hard work and endless practice, he’s the starting goalie for Moo U and mere steps away from his dream. He can’t afford distractions, and isn’t interested in relationships. And he definitely can’t afford to flirt back with the gorgeous girl in his lit class.

He needs to stay serious. She needs to get serious. But now serious sparks are flying…

Boyfriend - Sarina Bowen (Oct 19, 2021)

The dreamiest player on the Moo U hockey team hangs a flyer on the bulletin board, and I am spellbound:

Rent a boyfriend for the holiday. For $25, I will be your Thanksgiving date. I will talk hockey with your dad. I will bring your mother flowers. I will be polite, and wear a nicely ironed shirt…

Now everyone knows it’s a bad idea to introduce your long-time crush to your messed-up family. But I really do need a date for Thanksgiving, even if I’m not willing to say why. So I tear his phone number off of that flyer… and accidentally entangle our star defenseman in a ruse that neither of us can easily unwind.

Because Weston’s family is even nuttier than mine. He needs a date, too, for the most uncomfortable holiday engagement party ever thrown.

There will be hors d’oeuvre. There will be faked PDA. And there will be pro-level awkwardness…

Boyfriend is a full-length book for Weston and Abbi! 

BUSY BEAN SERIES

Sweetheart (BUSY BEAN #1) by Sarah Mayberry (March 1st 2021)

I just wanted to get my hands on his beans

Four years ago, I had a ridiculous crush on my sister’s boyfriend. But when they moved away together, I put Beck out of my mind and my heart. But now he’s back, and roasting the best coffee in Vermont. I need to convince him to supply the Busy Bean. And I need more of those kisses we accidentally shared outside the coffee shop. He still makes my heart race faster than a triple shot of espresso.

She should be off limits, but instead she’s pushing mine

Her sister burned my life to the ground, so Haley Elliot is the last woman I should bring into my bed. Although our business relationship is giving way to something more than a fine grind. Neither of us can help ourselves. And what’s worse, I think I’m falling for her.

But it’s a small town, and ours is a big secret. And when her sister blows back into town, suddenly the coffee isn’t the only thing brewing…

Cowboy (BUSY BEAN #2) by L.B. Dunbar (March 1, 2021)

Pregnant at forty-two? Back the cow up…

Harland Bull Eaton has lost many things—his first wife, his beloved mother, those three women he proposed to . . . Oh, and there was that time he almost lost the family dairy farm due to a scandal. He’s losing faith in just about everything, especially love.

But one night, his friends give him a dare. No commitments. No heartbreak. Just buy that gorgeous redhead a drink. The big-city bombshell he’s set his eyes on swirls him into a tailspin that lands them in bed for a one-night stand he’s pretty sure he’ll never forget. But this time, he swears, he won’t let his heart ride herd on his common sense.

Recently separated and newly unemployed, Scarlett Russell is at a crossroads. With no other plan than visiting a friend in Vermont, the last thing she expects is a hunky, silver fox offering to buy her a drink. Even less expected is when she raises that offer to “take me to bed, cowboy.” She just wants one night to forget everything gone wrong.

Turns out once won’t be nearly enough. Won’t ever be enough, feeling the way she does. But secrets and an unexpected surprise are a lot to handle . . . unless these two can break a trail to an unexpected happily ever after.

Cakewalk (BUSY BEAN #3) by Claire Hastings (TBD)

Love isn’t always a cakewalk . . .

GiGi Hawthorne is starting from scratch. She just didn’t realize until her crappy car broke down that she was going to be doing it in a small town in Vermont. With an eye for design and some serious decorating skills, she’s managed to land a job making delectable treats for the patrons of the Busy Bean. Now she’s up to her elbows in sugar and flour, but her thoughts are never far from her gorgeous, brooding landlord.

Holden St. James swears he isn’t a recluse. He goes to the local coffee shop three times a week, doesn’t he? Yeah, maybe he never actually talks to anyone, but with a backstory of loss, pain, and regret like his, he’s pretty sure he wouldn’t be very good company anyway. Yet something about his new tenant makes him wonder if maybe it’s time to let someone open the oven door and release a little heat into his closed-off world.

But both are hiding secrets as dark as an espresso mocha cupcake and they’re not sure if they can trust each other. Will the truth break their delicate relationship into sad, sweet crumbs–or will it turn out to be the key ingredient in the recipe for a new life?

Friendzoned (BUSY BEAN #4) by Rachel Blaufeld (May 24, 2021)

When Murphy Landon, the New York socialite, runs off to Vermont with her bruised reputation and stylish wardrobe in the trunk of a used car, it’s the first time in her life she’s dared to turn her back on her high-society parents.

Used to grabbing a gourmet coffee whenever the urge strikes, Murphy finds herself on the other side of the counter, fumbling strangers’ orders…until a sinfully handsome thirty-three year old version of Ben Rooney from high school walks in.

The pair met years ago at a prestigious boarding school and became friends, but only behind closed doors. She’d been a spoiled brat, and he was a football player on scholarship. Ben tried to hide his crush on her, and Murphy set firm boundaries. After a prom night gone wrong, they’d gone their separate ways.

Now their circumstances are reversed. Ben is a successful surgeon. He’s come a long way from his parents’ humble maple syrup business. And Murphy is pouring his coffee? Is this a joke?

His first thought is that she should drive her gorgeous self right back to New York, where she can’t possibly break his heart. His second one is deep concern. His third thought is he wants a do-over of prom night. A very adult one…

With plenty of secrets between them, copious pure maple syrup, Ben and Murphy are in for a wild and sticky ride.

STUDFINDER (BUSY BEAN #5) by L.B. DUNBAR (August 2021)

Who does that sexy silver fox think he is, sitting in her spot in the Busy Bean Cafe?

Over forty, with zero filter, Rita Kaplan loves her coffee, her hiking boots, and her law practice. Life hasn’t always been carefree, though, and Rita’s past holds the scars of poor decisions after deep loss. She survived, though, and no smirky silver fox is going to get in the way of her happiness. Even if he knows how to use his drill, screwdriver, and every other tool in his box to tempt her . . .

Former arson investigator Jake Drummond could add ex-con to his resume if he had one. Instead, he’s serving the final year of his sentence on probation. This involves mandatory AA meetings, hosted by a feisty local attorney, and working on a renovation project, supervised by the same annoyingly attractive whirlwind, who also believes she owns the exclusive rights to a comfy couch in his new favorite coffee shop. Soon she’s everywhere, including the few places she shouldn’t be–like in his bed and in his heart.

Can opposites lower their walls and construct something everlasting . . . or will their connected past lead to demolition for two hearts in need of a rebuild?

DOUBLETALK (BUSY BEAN #6) by TERALYN MITCHELL (TBD)

Basketball has always been his one love, until now . . .

Zeke Armstrong never imagined he’d be back in Vermont, but here he is, living in Colebury and trying to rehab an injury that could mean an early retirement from pro basketball. Running into his former classmate, Mallory Barrett, shouldn’t be a distraction. It shouldn’t mean anything, so why is he accidentally on purpose showing up at the coffee shop where the beautiful barista spends her time?

Mallory Barrett has met a guy. Well, she hasn’t met him yet, except for on the dating app she almost refused to download. “Coby” sparks her interest and gets her jokes–and gives the romance-novel heroes she loves so much a full-court run for their money. When their first date doesn’t work out, she decides to give him another shot . . . just as a man she despises reenters her life. While her interest in the mystery man on the app grows, she clashes constantly with Zeke in real life. She can’t forgive him for humiliating her in high school, yet she can’t deny she’s drawn to him now.

She’s somehow gone from confirmed bachelorette to the tie-breaker between two men.  Meanwhile Zeke has a secret–one that will cost him the game if Mallory finds out . . .

Sidetracked (BUSY BEAN #7) by R.L. Kenderson (Sept 13, 2021)

Ms. Sunshine meets Mr. Grumpy! From USA Today bestselling author R.L. Kenderson.

“Sometimes, not knowing where you’re going will lead you to where you need to be.”

CHARLI

My workplace eliminated my position the same month my relationship ended. With nothing keeping me in Richmond, Virginia, I get in my car and head northeast, unsure of where I’ll end up.

Until I walk into The Busy Bean Café.

With the Help Wanted sign and the quote on the wall meant for me, I know I’ve found my new home.

GABE

I gave up my executive job in Boston to come home to help run my family’s hardware store and to open my own handcrafted furniture business. I have specific plans for my life.

Those plans don’t include the coffee shop’s new flighty barista even if she is cute as hell.

But when I become Charli’s landlord, I find it harder than ever to stay away from her. And soon, I don’t want to.

Fireproof (BUSY BEAN #8) by Delancey Stewart (Sept 13, 2021)

The newest barista at the Busy Bean is about to steam the place up… 

Former Marine Mason Rye can make a cappuccino with military precision, but he finds it much harder to serve up a smile. It’s not that he doesn’t like people. But he knows from experience that once you let someone in, it hurts like hell when you lose them. And Mason’s lost too many people already.
So it’s pretty damn inconvenient when his old Marine buddy shows up on Mason’s goat farm with his younger sister in tow. Heather’s work in Washington D.C. has turned dangerous, and she needs a safe place out of town.
Mason doesn’t need a new roommate, especially not a pretty, single one who insists on rearranging his spice rack and giving his chickens cute names. Although there’s no denying the haunted look in her blue eyes. Every time her fear shows its face, he wants to reach for her.

The problem is that she wants him, too. And when Mason breaks all his rules, they practically burn down his bed together. But her life is in D.C. And the threat against her is over.

Unfortunately, neither of their hearts is fireproof…

Warning: this stand-alone novel contains cute goats, bossy Marines and small town charm.

Footnote (BUSY BEAN #9) by Alexa Gregory (Sept 13, 2021)

A moving second-chance romance where hope can turn history into a footnote.

Sasha Covey needs a rewrite. Or a really big eraser. Her past doesn’t belong in the life she’s trying to rebuild. Her future—and her recovery—depend on a fresh start. Moving to Colebury seems like the perfect test until Penley Brooks waltzes into the Busy Bean. The handsome veterinarian is just as charming as when she fell for him a decade ago. Memories come flooding back, and their connection is as potent as ever.

Trouble is, Sasha has good reason to keep her distance. Her recovery is still new, and the single dad has wounds of his own. After years of being an afterthought, Penley’s goals are finally within reach. As much as she aches to reconnect, Sasha won’t stand in the way of his dreams.

Somehow, that all melts away whenever she’s with Penley. Together, dreaming is a little easier.

But dreams don’t always survive in the real world. Not when the past comes knocking.

Footnote is a standalone small-town romance set in the True North world.

Afterglow (BUSY BEAN #10) by Aria Wyatt (Sept 13, 2021)

I’m a numbers girl.

Or at least I thought I was, until my formula fell apart. Back home in Vermont, with my dream on hiatus, I’m working at the Busy Bean and taking online classes. As long as I keep my focus, I’ll be back in New York City next semester. Hopefully.

When Declan O’Shaughnessy storms into the café, all muscles and tattoos, wielding his sexy Irish brogue like a weapon, the only equation I can solve is one that lands me in his bed. Even more dangerous, is my growing affection for his cherub-faced little boy.

But Declan has complications of his own. He’s cagey, but I’ll win him over.

Yeah, about that focus… mine is all on him. Can we have a harmless fling without getting hurt?

VINO AND VERITAS SERIES

Featherbed by Annabeth Albert (March 15, 2021)

When a bookworm on borrowed time meets a younger, free-spirited chicken farmer, sparks and feathers fly…
Harrison Phillip Fletcher, III isn’t supposed to be here. Not in Burlington, Vermont, not running Vino & Veritas, a quaint inclusive bookstore and wine bar, and definitely not still alive, at forty-two. Also not supposed to be here? An unexpected delivery of chickens.

Finn Barnes knows chickens. The burly organic farmer knows all about rare breed poultry, but dealing with a hot, older bookseller is an entirely different matter. City slicker types like Harrison never end up staying in Vermont for the long-term.

They should steer clear of each other. But the flare of attraction is mutual. And somehow amid book discussions and farm tours, they discover plenty in common. Now they’re stealing kisses in Finn’s barn, sneaking out like teens, and burning up the sheets.

What starts as a fling brings very real feelings for two lonely souls, but a future together seems as unlikely as chickens in a bookstore. Feathers may be flying, but learning to trust takes time neither may have. Can they take a leap of faith together before it’s too late?

Featherbed is a stand-alone novel in Sarina Bowen’s World of True North. This opposites-attract, age-gap romance features a low-angst, fluffy—and feathery—romp as a fish out of water discovers the home he never thought he’d find.

Heartscape by Garrett Leigh (March 22, 2021)

From award-winning author Garrett Leigh comes a gorgeous new romance in the True North world! Think: great food, burly men and good times. Beards are optional but encouraged.

I’m not the obvious choice to run Burlington’s coolest wine bar—quiet, brooding, clueless about tannin content, and always one wrong turn away from another downward spiral.

But no one seems to mind that I’m a wreck. Besides me. I just focus on getting through each shift until the night a beautiful stranger appears, looking as lost and damaged as I feel.

When a mutual friend calls in a favor, the sexy newcomer winds up crashing on my couch. I don’t know if it’s his melodic Cornish accent, or his ocean blue eyes, or the rock-hard body with the mysterious scars, but I get the feeling whatever happened to him runs far deeper than those wounds.

Having Jax in my home makes my chest warm. Makes me shiver. Makes me want more. But I’ve got a pile of baggage and I don’t want to be a burden on anyone let alone a man who seems to have enough demons of his own.

Our chemistry is off the charts. His arms feel like home. The last thing I want is to screw this up. Is it wrong to hope we can heal each other? Or will one of us die trying?

HEARTSCAPE is a heartfelt MM friends-to-lovers romance in the True North world, with a brooding bartender, a rugged outdoorsman, sweet angst and lots of Shipley cider. Triggers: contains mentions of depression, suicidal ideation and PTSD recovery.

Headstrong by Eden Finley (March 22, 2021)

A straight guy gives gay hookup tips to a virgin. What could go wrong? 

When I first met Whit, I couldn’t get away from him fast enough. He’s a hockey player, and I hate everything to do with the sport that broke my heart.

But I can’t help feeling sorry for the guy. He’s newly out and desperate to meet someone, but his eagerness seems to scare potential hook-ups away.

Agreeing to be his wingman should’ve been simple. Watching him flirt with other guys made things complicated.

Whit challenges me in every aspect of my life, from my hatred of hockey to the new questions I’m asking myself. Like why a straight man suddenly can’t stop thinking about kissing another guy.

I think the answer lies somewhere on Whit’s lips…

Aftermath by L.A. Witt (March 29, 2021)

Brent Weyland was the life of the party until an injury ended his hockey career. Now he’s retreated alone to a lakefront house, trying to make sense of a life and body that don’t feel like his anymore.

Jon Norquist was happily married right up until he wasn’t. Now a single father in his forties, he’s trying to figure out what comes next. In the meantime, he pours his heartache and regret into the lyrics he sings for the wine bar crowd a couple of nights a week.

When a friend coaxes Brent out for a night of wine and music, he puts Brent and Jon on a collision course. Their chemistry is instantaneous. Jon gives Brent’s battered body a much-needed remedial lesson in pleasure. And Brent gives Jon a reason to smile again.

Multiple reasons, actually. Neither man wants anything serious, but love has a habit of showing up whether it’s welcome or not. No matter how hard they try, the two can’t help having feelings for each other, even as life continues to throw them curveballs.

But they’ve both got baggage to unpack and hurt to move past, and if they can’t leave their pasts in the past, they might just miss out on an amazing future.

Undercover by Eliot Grayson (March 29, 2021)

Gabe wants Alec between the sheets…too bad Alec’s undercover already…

Rich kid. Party boy. Gabe is tired of the labels. He’s a smart guy, but ever since he got kicked out of grad school, people are only interested in his no-limit credit card and his pierced ears…and other places.

Tall, dark, and scowling Alec hates Vermont, with its artisanal-freaking-everything and its irritating people. To be fair, most people irritate Alec, including the FBI director who sent him here to investigate a smuggling scheme involving yoga mats.

When one of the cutest twinks Alec’s ever seen takes an interest, Alec knows there’s an ulterior motive. No one with multi-colored hair, piercings, and an ass like that would want boring, serious Alec. The kid must be up to no good. Either way, Alec can’t blow his cover. If only he could keep his hands off of Gabe long enough to find out what he’s up to…

Can they ignore their explosive chemistry long enough to foil a smuggling ring? Or will their budding relationship sink faster than a yacht full of contraband?

Booklover by J.E. Birk (March 29, 2021)

Jamie Morin’s college GPA drops every time a cow breaks through a fence, but he’s determined to get his degree and keep his parents’ Vermont dairy farm afloat. He’d rather be reading than milking, but he can’t let his family down…not the way his brother did. So the last thing he needs is distraction in the form of an irresistible bookseller with a mysterious backstory.

Briar Nord has a lifetime of experience proving that happily-ever-afters only happen in his favorite books. But his luck might be changing. He’s got a great job at a bookstore, and he lives in a city that puts maple syrup on everything. But Briar knows not to trust anything–or anyone–too closely, and that includes a gorgeous farm boy with soulful eyes and too many obligations.

When Jamie joins Briar’s romance novel book club, they both feel an instant connection and soon they’re turning pages long into the night. But Briar’s past was bound to catch up with him. Sometimes, though, it takes two heroes to write a new ending . . .

Flipcup by Kim Hartfield (April 5, 2021)

After being rejected one too many times, Chelsea makes a bold vow: No more men. Her friends doubt a boy-crazy party girl can handle not dating for a year, but that only makes Chelsea more determined.

Tara has made a vow, too. After growing up in foster care and suppressing herself to please others, she’s going to live her truth. When she sees a beautiful woman, she’ll make her attraction known.

Chelsea appreciates Tara’s flirtatious compliments, not to mention her androgynous beauty. There’s a loophole in Chelsea’s vow, and it’s more tempting every day. Could swearing off men lead Chelsea to the perfect woman?

Hideaway by Rachel Lacey (April 5, 2021)

One woman’s hiding place is another woman’s home.

After becoming an inadvertent viral sensation—and losing her job and her girlfriend as a result— Phoebe Shaw retreats to Vermont. Renovating her late grandmother’s cabin into a vacation rental seems like the perfect way to lie low for a while. But the last person she expects to encounter on the property is the woman whose kiss was her teenage sexual awakening . . . and whom she’s never quite forgotten.

Taylor Donovan has been hiking on the trails behind the Shaw family’s cabin her whole life. As children, Taylor and Phoebe were best friends before sharing a secret summer romance when they were sixteen, which left Taylor brokenhearted when Phoebe fled at the end of the summer. Now the property has become Taylor’s home away from home, and she wants nothing more than to convince the Shaws to sell it to her. But Phoebe’s return puts a crimp in those plans–and brings back old feelings she thought she’d overcome.

Of all the things Phoebe regrets, leaving Taylor is at the top of the list, but Taylor is determined to protect her heart. Yet the pull between them is stronger than ever. This time around, will love stay hidden . . . or finally see the light of day?

Turnabout by Laurel Greer (May 10, 2021)

I don’t have time for an unplanned visit home to help out in my father’s struggling letterpress shop. My stint in Vermont will have to be short, for a couple of reasons:

One, I’m a busy executive trying to climb the corporate ladder.

Two, my ex is still my dad’s right-hand man in the shop. And I am not over him.

Nothing has changed at the Burlington shop. Auden still has his infuriatingly sexy Scottish accent. He’s still hot, and still stubborn. Between operating the antique press with his shirtsleeves rolled up, and moonlighting at Burlington’s hottest inclusive wine bar, he pushes every one of my attraction buttons.

My falling-in-love-again buttons, too. Except I’m his polar opposite. I love change, and taking chances. Everything he avoids in life.

So why am I trying to convince him to reach for more than we’ve ever dreamed of—the possibility of forever?

Turnabout is a second-chance romance with interfering family, groveling, and a large helping of artisan stationery geekery.

Unguarded by Jay Hogan (May 10, 2021)

Another rollicking Vermont romance is coming your way!
I fled Boston, and my cheating jerk of an ex, with three hundred dollars and a lip gloss in my pocket. Waking up the next day in Burlington, Vermont, with a crick in my back and a frozen ass hadn’t exactly been my plan. If there was one. Which there wasn’t. Story of my life.

Three hours later, I’ve somehow got myself hired as temporary help in the local veterinary and grooming clinic. I might know zip about animals—but I do know I’m crushing on the sexy, absent-minded vet I work for.

My life is a hot mess, and the last thing I need is another relationship. Emmett pushes all my buttons, but he isn’t out. He’s overwhelmed with a business to run and a son to look after and the kind of domestic life I never thought I wanted.

I should walk away. But Emmett believes in me, and I’m beginning to believe in myself. As different as we are, is it possible we’re exactly what the other needs?

Insatiable by Rhys Everly (May 10, 2021)

It was just a bet . . . until feelings got involved.

This job sucks but someone’s got to do it. My readers expect me to chronicle my very real, very steamy encounters in my novels. I’d never want to disappoint my fans, but the creative well has run a bit dry. Burlington, Vermont, seems like a good place to fill it up. This town offers a tempting array of artists, craftsmen, farmers, lumbersexuals . . . and so many beards.

But no one prepared me for Brody. He’s young. He’s hot. He’s definitely a grump. And he’s getting under my skin. Where I want him is under my bedsheets.

When my friend bets I’ll never be able to get Brody there, I make winning my mission. Turns out being with Brody is more than a plot device. He’s so very wrong for my life . . . but is he right for my heart?

Insatiable is a standalone book in the Vino & Veritas series by Heart Eyes Press and contains a big/small, grumpy/sunshine pairing, a bed-hopping author, a jilted sugarmaker and a reluctant fake relationship.

Daybreak by Kate Hawthorne (May 10, 2021)

When a sunny young musician gets stranded with a grumpy mechanic during a snowstorm, a lack of heat is the least of their problems…

Liam Luckett is on an adventure. He’s dropped out of his Master’s program without telling his overbearing parents and set off on a road trip across the country. Armed with little more than his guitar, he’s looking for his best life. He never expected his car to break down in the middle of nowhere Vermont with a huge storm pending, leaving him stranded and at the mercy of a hunky local mechanic.

Jasper Cunningham is in a holding pattern. Three years after the death of his husband, he still hasn’t moved on. A hot, younger, stranded tourist is exactly the sort of complication this mechanic has been avoiding. But he can’t leave the guy in the snow. He brings Liam home to crash on the couch. The air is heavy with more than snow, and when the power goes out, the two men become closer than either of them expects.

Every silken note Liam sings on that guitar thaws Jasper’s heart a little.  Suddenly, Liam’s itchy feet aren’t so eager to move on. When their feelings get too big to ignore, the bond they’ve formed is tested. Will daybreak leave them going their separate ways?

This opposites attract, hurt/comfort romance features a grumpy widower who is only soft for one specific blue-eyed musician, a remote farmhouse, a friendly dog, and enough snow to knock the power out until love catches fire.

Heartsong by A.E. Wasp (May 10, 2021)

When a sunny young musician gets stranded with a grumpy mechanic during a snowstorm, a lack of heat is the least of their problems…

Liam Luckett is on an adventure. He’s dropped out of his Master’s program without telling his overbearing parents and set off on a road trip across the country. Armed with little more than his guitar, he’s looking for his best life. He never expected his car to break down in the middle of nowhere Vermont with a huge storm pending, leaving him stranded and at the mercy of a hunky local mechanic.

Jasper Cunningham is in a holding pattern. Three years after the death of his husband, he still hasn’t moved on. A hot, younger, stranded tourist is exactly the sort of complication this mechanic has been avoiding. But he can’t leave the guy in the snow. He brings Liam home to crash on the couch. The air is heavy with more than snow, and when the power goes out, the two men become closer than either of them expects.

Every silken note Liam sings on that guitar thaws Jasper’s heart a little.  Suddenly, Liam’s itchy feet aren’t so eager to move on. When their feelings get too big to ignore, the bond they’ve formed is tested. Will daybreak leave them going their separate ways?

This opposites attract, hurt/comfort romance features a grumpy widower who is only soft for one specific blue-eyed musician, a remote farmhouse, a friendly dog, and enough snow to knock the power out until love catches fire.

Stronghold by Ana Ashley (Aug 12, 2021)

Stronghold by Ana Ashley

The last place Judson wants to be is back home in Burlington, living with his mother. Not so long ago he was a world-class chef with the lifestyle to prove it. Now he’s serving drinks and flying under the radar until he can get the hell out again. But when his childhood best friend reenters his life, looking finer than any entree at a Michelin five-star restaurant, he wonders if it’s time to update his menu of life choices.

Working through past wounds with Skyler won’t be easy, though–especially with a reality-show television camera following (not quite) their every move. When their loyalty is tested, will their newly built stronghold be sturdy enough to withstand the storm?

Stronghold is a sweet and sexy romance for childhood friends to lovers, with some creative use of maple syrup and a TV crew determined to keep appearing out of nowhere.

Limelight by E. Davies (Aug 12, 2021)

Limelight by E. Davies

Save the bees, ride a rock star.

Formerly famous . . . and planning to keep it that way.

After my band kicked me out, I ran away to Vermont, changed my name, and kept my head down. So far, it’s working and nobody knows who I am. Or who I was. Until I see geeky poet Caleb stumbling through his first open mic night and I can’t help rescuing him. He’s as sweet as the honey my bees make and sexy enough to make me rethink so many things. But I can’t tell him my secret, or I’ll lose the anonymous life I worked so hard to build.

Everyone warns me he’s too good to be true.

I can’t believe a gorgeous, successful winemaker like Tag is into shy, geeky little accountant me. But he helps me blossom and believe in my talent, and works his way into my heart and my bed… not necessarily in that order. I’m falling for a man for the first time, and now I know what the missing number in my equation has always been.

When lies are revealed, though, someone’s going to get stung . . .

Unforgettable by Marley Valentine (Aug 12, 2021)

Unforgettable by Marley Valentine

One night with Reeve Hale wasn’t enough. I knew it when I kissed him, I knew it when I slept with him, and I was certain of it when I walked out of his motel room the very next day.

So when the shy, gorgeous man is introduced as our newest employee at Vino and Veritas, I can’t help but conjure up all the ridiculous ways to convince him to repeat that unforgettable night. Like asking him to be my fake boyfriend at my sister’s upcoming wedding.

Only, I didn’t expect him to say yes.

Playing pretend shouldn’t feel this real. Especially when Reeve is planning on leaving Vermont after the summer.

We agreed to one night. We negotiated a fake relationship. But I’m the one who broke our terms. I wasn’t supposed to fall in love and he was never supposed to be so unforgettable.

Showstopper by Regina Kyle (Aug 12, 2021)

Showstopper by Regina Kyle

I swore I wouldn’t do this again. Mix sports, school, and sex. But right now the only thing standing between me and the NHL is six feet of frenemy packed into a pair of form-fitting jeans that have me thinking all kinds of things I shouldn’t. Mostly how to get him out of them.

I don’t just want Kolby. I need him. Because I’ve got to pass this theater class–yeah, I said theater–if I’m going to keep my spot on the team. When tutoring sessions turn into dates-not-dates over Shipley Cider at Vino and Veritas, I realize it’s going to be harder than I thought to keep my hands on my stick and off of Kolby. Worse, I think I might be falling for him. But I’m not ready for that. I want to keep this thing between us on the down-low for now.

But Kolby hates secrets. Especially his own . . .

Undone by Leslie McAdam (Aug 12, 2021)

Undone by Leslie McAdam

My new roommate has the worst taste in men.

I mean, Murph’s special. He’s funny and flamboyant and full of life.

While I’m straight, even I can tell these guys aren’t good enough for him.

I had to yell at one date, toss another one out the door, and throw a beer in another’s face.

Kind of embarrassing, really. I don’t know what’s gotten into me.

I ask my sister what’s wrong with me and she says I’m jealous.

Jealous? Please. Me?

Come on.

Only thing is, I hate the thought of Murph kissing any guy. Ever.

Except, maybe … me?

Undone is a contemporary m/m romance about a dreamy insurance agent that might not be as straight as he thinks, an adorable bartender who adds sparkle wherever he goes, and maybe one or two jokes about swords.

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 17 December 2020  Posted by  Tagged with:  No Responses »
Nov 012020
 

Roommate (True North #8) by Sarina Bowen

Wanted: One roommate to share a 3-bedroom house, split the rent, and ideally not be the guy I can’t stop thinking about.
I’m a man with too many secrets, so the last thing I need is a new roommate with a sexy smile and blue eyes that see right through me. Eight years ago, Roderick left town after high school. We’re not friends. I owe him nothing. But back then, I let one of my secrets slip, and he’s the only one who noticed.
Part of me knows I should run far, far away. But the other part wants him to come upstairs and spend the night. But if I let him in, I could lose everything.

Seeking: a room to rent in town. I’m tidy, have no pets, and I will feed you homemade bread.
I should probably add: Gay AF, and has no filter. It’s no wonder my new landlord is so wary of me.
A smarter man would ignore those hot glances from Kieran Shipley. The broody lumberjack wants more from me than another homemade pretzel, but if I push my luck, I’ll end up back on the street.
Too bad I’ve never been smart with my heart…
Publication Date : January 12, 2021

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 1 November 2020  Posted by  Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  No Responses »
Oct 072020
 

Loverboy (The Company #2) by Sarina Bowen

Secrets, desires, and exquisite pie. It’s all in a day’s work at The Company.
Growing up, I was the rough guy from the wrong neighborhood who couldn’t catch a break. Posy was the pampered girl I tried to impress. But I managed to steal only a single kiss before I had to skip town.
Now I’m back, and the tables are turned. Posy runs a struggling pie shop. I’m the VP of a secretive billion dollar security company.
Not that I can tell her.
There’s a murderer on the loose in New York, and he seems to spend a lot of time at Posy’s shop. I can’t let on that I’m here to bring him down before he can harm a hair on her pretty head.
Going undercover as Posy’s new barista wasn’t my idea. I don’t even drink coffee. But now I have to call her “boss,” and do everything the curvy perfectionist asks of me. I’d forgotten how much we infuriate each other, and that she somehow fills me with both irritation and desire in the same breath.
There’s nobody more skilled at stealth ops than me. I can bring this killer down. Right after I take a cold shower. And just as soon as I figure out how to make a skinny peppermint latte with milk poured in the shape of a kitten…
Publication Date : December 1, 2020

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Apr 152020
 

Lies and Lullabies (Hush Note Book 1) by Sarina Bowen

Summer nights and star-crossed lovers! From USA Today bestselling author Sarina Bowen.

Once upon a time, he gave me a summer of friendship, followed by one perfect night. We shared a lot during our short time together. But he skipped a few crucial details.

I didn’t know he was a rock star.

I didn’t know his real name.

Neither of us knew I’d get pregnant.

And I sure never expected to see him again.

Five years later, his tour bus pulls up in Nest Lake, Maine. My little world is about to be shattered by loud music and the pounding of my own foolish heart.

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Apr 132020
 

Bittersweet (True North #1) by Sarina Bowen

The new series is set in Vermont. True North is populated by the tough, outdoorsy mountain men that populate the Green Mountain State. They raise cows and they grow apples. They chop a lot of wood, especially when they need to blow off steam. (Beards are optional but encouraged.)

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the orchard.

The last person Griffin Shipley expects to find stuck in a ditch on his Vermont country road is his ex-hookup. Five years ago they’d shared a couple of steamy nights together. But that was a lifetime ago.

At twenty-seven, Griff is now the accidental patriarch of his family farm. Even his enormous shoulders feel the strain of supporting his mother, three siblings and a dotty grandfather. He doesn’t have time for the sorority girl who’s shown up expecting to buy his harvest at half price.

Vermont was never in Audrey Kidder’s travel plans. Neither was Griff Shipley. But she needs a second chance with the restaurant conglomerate employing her. Okay—a fifth chance. And no self-righteous lumbersexual farmer will stand in her way.

They’re adversaries. They want entirely different things from life. Too bad their sexual chemistry is as hot as Audrey’s top secret enchilada sauce, and then some.

Title: Bittersweet (True North #1)
Author: Sarina Bowen
Publication Date: June 14th, 2016
Shelves: Contemporary; Romance;
Format: Kindle (349 pages)
Rating: 10/10

This is a series worth reading, and I only finished book 1. I hope all is as I imagine with the rest of the characters we have come to know.

Griffin is a farmer who needs to sort out his problems and support his family after his father passed away. Before, he was just a college boy who wanted a girl, but now he has other. And one of them is said girl, that he finds right in a ditch outside his farm house.

Audrey is a chef and she’s good at it. It might be the only thing she’s actually good at but being broke and employed to a company that doesn’t give two cents on her, will unfortunately keep her out of the kitchen.

This is how she found herself, again, face to face with Griff.

What started when they were college students will become more as soon as they give in to their attraction.

I am excited to hear the rest of the family and their significant other. Oh, and Jude is mine!!! I can’t wait to read his story.

 

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Apr 022020
 

Sure Shot (Brooklyn #4) by Sarina Bowen

A new stand-alone hockey romance from USA Today bestseller Sarina Bowen.

On the eve of her thirtieth birthday, sports agent Bess Beringer is ready to make some changes. Armed with a five-year plan—indexed and color coded—she’ll tackle her personal life with the same zeal that she brings to her successful agency.

A big, tall, ripped hunk of hockey player who’s just been traded to the Brooklyn Bruisers is not a part of that plan. Mark “Tank” Tankiewicz has a lot of baggage. He’s a ride-or-die loner with a bad reputation. He’s on the rebound. He’s also the sexiest thing on two legs, and for some crazy reason it’s Bess that he wants.

She knows better. But then she falls stupid in love with him anyway. And for a while it seems like maybe he’ll do the same.

Until she asks him for the one thing he can never give her…

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 2 April 2020  Posted by  Tagged with: , ,  No Responses »
Feb 142020
 

Epic (Him Book 3) by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy

They’re back! Epic is a novella about your favorite hockey duo!

Jamie and Wes are having a blast living and working in Toronto. Until a scout for another team swoops in to make one of them an offer that might complicate the life they’ve built together.

Q and A about Epic:
Q: Is this a full-length book?
A: Not even close! It’s a 7 chapter novella.

Q: Besides Wes and Jamie, who else will I see?
A: Blake and Jess. Wes’s team. And some unlucky grasshoppers…

Q: Will there be more books about Wesmie?
A: No more books are planned. But you can try on our other co-written works: Good Boy, Stay & Top Secret. Thanks for reading!

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 14 February 2020  Posted by  Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »
Dec 182019
 

Heartland (True North #7) by Sarina Bowen

An emotional friends to lovers romance full of risky secrets and late-night lessons in seduction.

Dylan is my best friend, and the only person in my life who understands me. He doesn’t mind my social awkwardness or my weird history. The only glitch? He doesn’t know that I’ve been hopelessly, desperately in love with him since the first day we picked apples together in his family’s orchard.
But I know better than to confess.
Now that we’re both in college together, I’m seeing a new side of him. College Dylan drinks and has a lot of sex. None of it with me.
Until the night I foolishly ask him to tutor me in more than algebra…and he actually says yes.
But the cool morning light shows me how badly I’ve endangered our friendship. And I don’t know if anything will be the same again.

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 18 December 2019  Posted by  Tagged with: , ,  No Responses »
Nov 292019
 

Falling From the Sky (Gravity #2) by Sarina Bowen

She’s the woman he doesn’t remember. He’s the man she can’t forget.

Bad boy Hank “Hazardous” Lazarus used to have everything: a gorgeous girlfriend, a career as a freestyle snowboarder and a spot on the US Olympic team. Nine months ago, after a bad crash in the half pipe, he woke up in the hospital, unable to move his legs. Now he’s landed there again, but gravity is not the culprit. With his family pressuring him to try a groundbreaking treatment, Hank self-medicates with too much tequila instead.

Doctor Callie Anders has the courage to restart a patient’s heart with a thousand volts of electricity, yet she’s afraid to risk her own. So she doesn’t confess to her newest patient they they met just before the accident, an encounter that he doesn’t remember. Even as their friendship develops, she won’t admit that she regrets turning down his dinner invitation, or that her heart stutters every time those inked shoulders roll through the door of the therapy department.

With another Vermont winter coming again, Hank needs a hand out from under the avalanche of his disappointments. If only Callie were brave enough to take the job.

This book is a standalone novel, no cliffhangers, no prior experience necessary.

Excerpt Falling From the Sky (Gravity #2) by Sarina Bowen

CHAPTER ONE

Standing on the snowy hillside under the December sun, Callie Anders found herself pulsing along with an unfamiliar bass line. The heavy groove scraping through the oversize speakers was the sound of bands she didn’t recognize, played in clubs she’d never visited.

And it wasn’t just the music. Nothing about the slopeside party resembled her ordinary life. The vibe felt more like an after-hours club than a sporting event. Beers in hand, spectators watched as a final competitor tipped his snowboard over the edge of the super pipe to drop into its steep curve. Gravity did its thing for the athlete, ramping up his speed as the board dropped into the valley of the pipe and then up the opposite side. At the top again, the guy snapped his hips upward, grabbed the board with one hand, and then whipped his body around in the air, reversing course to land neatly on the snow again. And then he was off, hurtling down the pipe with only seconds to prepare for his next trick.

Callie had seen snowboarding on TV, but in person it was even more impressive. After the kid launched his second trick—some kind of dizzying spin, she lost count of his rotations—he seemed to meld his board onto the surface, his shoulders relaxing into a carefree stance as he dropped downhill again. As he sped by, Callie even saw his lips moving, forming the lyrics of the song thumping overhead.

After two more whirling tricks, he finished to a cheer from the crowd. The wool-clad heads in the crowd swiveled toward the giant screen, waiting for his scores.

“Not bad for a bunch of knuckle draggers,” her friend Dane muttered beside her.

“I love it,” Callie heard herself say. She was glad that Dane and Willow had towed her along to the snowboarding competition. “It’s…half athleticism, half circus performance.”

In response, Dane only snorted. And that made her best friend Willow grin. “He can’t help it, Callie. A skier can’t say anything nice about snowboarding. It’s not in his DNA.”

Dane gave Callie a wink. “In two months you’ll see what a real mountain event looks like.”

“I can’t wait,” she agreed. So far, she had only seen Dane race on television. But she’d already bought her plane ticket to Europe for the Olympics, where Dane would be contending for as many as four medals.

As if on cue, the music changed to the telltale trumpets of the Olympic anthem. Callie’s eyes drifted to the big screen at the top of the pipe, which announced in giant type that the elite exhibition would happen next. After the last trumpet tone, the music devolved again into a heavy beat, and Callie saw the crowd begin to move with the music. As the knit hats and down jackets around her began to bob, it was as if Callie had been transported to a sunny, snowy land of hipsters. One that she wished she’d visited long ago.

Actually, she wished a lot of things.

When you spend nine years of your life becoming a doctor, there’s a lot that you miss. For most of that time, the sacrifice hadn’t really bothered her. But the past several months had been hard, and Callie had been spectacularly lonely.

It was almost exactly a year ago that she’d caught Nathan, her doctor boyfriend, cheating on her in an exam room with a leggy young nursing student. Callie had thrown the bastard out, of course. Yet twelve months later, Nathan and the nurse were still going strong, and she was still alone.

To make matters worse, Willow and Dane left Vermont for Utah in the spring, leaving Callie doubly bereft.

This weekend would make for a happy exception. Her friends were in town to take care of some business. And they’d brought Callie’s new favorite person—their three-month-old daughter. Baby Finley was riding out the snowboarding event asleep inside Dane’s ski jacket. If Callie put a hand on Dane’s shoulder and raised herself up on tiptoe, she could just glimpse the baby’s satin eyelids.

Callie hadn’t seen her friends for ten weeks—not since she’d flown out to Salt Lake after the baby was born in September. In the meantime, Willow and Dane had been busy settling into their new house, caring for the baby and surviving a whirlwind of preparations for the Olympic Games. In two months she’d see them again overseas. Callie and Willow would hole up in the hotel together, caring for Finley and cheering on Dane during the games.

It was all very exciting, but Callie still felt hollow inside. As she stood there beside her happy friends, she found herself fighting off unfamiliar feelings of envy. Willow had taken what seemed like an outrageous risk on a man with a difficult past. And now Willow was one third of what Sports Illustrated had recently described as “the cutest family in winter sports.”

And what was Callie part of, exactly?

“So, you never told me,” Willow said, stomping the snow off her boots. “Did you have drinks with the cute radiologist?”

“I think he’s seeing someone,” Callie answered without meeting Willow’s eyes.

“Well, did you ask him?” Willow pressed.

“I’m pretty sure.”

Willow shook her head, and let out an exaggerated sigh. “You know what I don’t get about you?”

“Nope. But you’re going to tell me whether I want to know or not, right?”

“I don’t understand,” Willow continued undeterred, “how you have the guts to literally restart someone’s heart with a thousand volts of electricity. But you can’t risk yours even to ask a guy out for drinks.”

“Actually, we don’t need a thousand volts anymore. The new defibrillators come in around three hundred.”

“You’re hopeless.”

That was probably true.

“Hey, I see Hazardous!” Willow said, raising a hand to wave at someone.

Callie followed her friend’s gaze over to the roped-off area at the base of the half-pipe. A very attractive man stood there, suited up for the snow, his helmet under one arm. The pose reminded Callie of old Apollo astronaut photos. When the guy spotted Willow, a lazy smile broke across his broad mouth, and he raised a hand in greeting.

“Let’s go say hello,” Willow prompted, angling through the crowd in his direction.

“After you,” Dane said to Callie. And so she followed her friend toward the low fence.

“You’ve got to meet Hank Lazarus,” Willow said over her shoulder. “He parties a lot harder than we can keep up with these days, but the guy is seriously fun.”

The closer they got, the more Callie stared. Willow’s friend might be seriously fun, but he was also seriously hot. His shaved head was a military style that usually did nothing for Callie. But it was offset by big brown eyes and full, sensual lips. He was broad in a way that said “linebacker” more than “snowboarder,” and his cut jaw and cleft chin were speckled with two or three days’ worth of dark whiskers.

As they drew up to him, his chocolaty gaze took them all in. He lifted an eyebrow, and Callie saw that a barbell-shaped piercing bisected it. “Hey there,” he said in a voice that was low and smoky. “What are you kids doing in Vermont?”

Sweet baby Jesus. Even his voice was hot.

Willow gave him a quick hug. “We’re here to put my old farmhouse on the market. And Hank, this is my best friend, Callie. She’s local.”

Hank stuck out a hand, and Callie took it. As his hand engulfed hers, she felt her cheeks heat. His face was like the sun—too bright to look at directly. Hank gave her a quick head-to-toe, not even bothering to be subtle about it. And when he seemed to dismiss her out of hand, she wasn’t even surprised. He was the sort of guy who existed in an alternate universe, far from beeping medical equipment and green hospital scrubs.

She was almost relieved when he let go of her hand and looked back up at Dane. “Where are we drinking later?”

But Dane hesitated, glancing toward Willow. “I’m not sure what our plans are.”

First, the snowboarder’s grin grew tight. “Holy fuck, Danger,” he growled. “Seriously? You are so whipped that you can’t agree to a beer tonight? Let me ask again. Where are we drinking later?”

Dane chuckled, and shook his head. “Chill, asshole. We need to make sure that the house we haven’t seen in six months is still standing. Barring total destruction, I think a stop at Rupert’s could work out.”

As if she wanted a vote on the matter, baby Finley let out a squawk then. Dane bent his knees to bounce her gently, running one of his big hands soothingly under the bulge in his jacket.

Hank Lazarus watched his friend do this with a bemused expression on his face. “All right. Unless you get downvoted by the little family, Rupert’s it is.”

“Sounds good,” Willow said. “Baby’s first trip to the bar.”

The snowboarder glanced uphill, toward the top of the pipe. “I’d better get a move on. Dane. Ladies.” He gave them a sexy lift of his chin. “I’ll see you later.”

The very idea gave Callie a thrill. But of course she probably wouldn’t be there. She was on call today, and that usually didn’t end well. Even if she wasn’t summoned to the hospital, she couldn’t even have a drink like a grown-up.

Her life was pure glamour.

Not.

At least her pager hadn’t gone off yet. The headliner event—the elite exhibition—was about to start. The music kicked up a decibel or two, and the champion snowboarders began to line up at the top of the pipe. Pictures of the elite athletes began to slide across the big screen overhead, shifting every few seconds in time with the music. The shots showed each man in street clothes, complete with stats and nicknames. Compared to the clean-cut skiers that Callie had met through Dane, these were the bad boys of winter sports. There were more goatees, ponytails, tattoos and piercings than a biker bar would boast. Not that Callie had spent much time around bikers, except when they landed in the hospital.

When Hank “Hazardous” Lazarus’s picture popped up, Callie could only stare. In the photo, he was shirtless, and entirely drool worthy. He was all muscle, covered with ink. “Olympic Silver Medalist,” the screen read.

“They say he’s going to bring home the gold this time,” Willow mused beside her.

But Callie wasn’t interested in his stats. She was still admiring the man. He was sex on a snowboard, and so far out of her league it wasn’t even funny. Even if she did show up for drinks tonight, if he tried to talk to her she’d probably swallow her tongue.

The screen flipped back to show the first man in the lineup, and then the crowd roared. Callie watched one of Hank’s teammates take the pipe. And…wow. The aerial feats were on a completely different level than the competitors she’d seen before. The rotations were faster, and the tricks more complicated. And as soon as he finished, another boarder dropped into the pipe. Since there was no need to pause the action for judging, the exhibition was continuous. Callie’s gaze became trancelike as the colorful bodies soared and twisted before her eyes.

And then Hank Lazarus’s photo reappeared, and Hank came into view on the lip of the pipe, wearing his silver helmet and goggles. Callie stood up a little straighter as he dropped into position, his body in a loose, confident stance. At the opposite peak, he popped higher off the lip than seemed possible. With that big body tucked tight, he flipped backward with such casual finesse that Callie gasped. He landed the trick neatly, his shoulders bobbing with a cocky shrug.

“So that’s what it’s supposed to look like,” Dane muttered. And it was true. The comparison between Hazardous and the others was stark.

He shot through the pipe again, and his next trick went so high, and with such whirling ease, that time seemed to stop as he hovered in the air. The rules of physics appeared not to apply to him. The crowd whooped when he landed, gliding at top speed through the gully.

Callie held her breath, wondering what miracle he’d pull off next. He launched again, grabbing the board in one hand and rotating through the air—once, twice and then a third time. The scenery seemed to change then, and it took Callie a split second to realize that the sun had gone behind a cloud. And just as she registered the phenomenon, something else happened. The snowboard smacked the lip of the pipe, instead of the snow on the slope below it. Since he’d achieved so much lift, the force of impact flexed the board, ricocheting the rider back into the air. Callie watched, helpless, as momentum yanked the man’s body through space, propelling him headfirst and at high speed toward the curving ice below.

And then his helmet hit the surface first. Hard.

Callie heard herself gasp. After a sickening bounce, his body slid down the ice into the center of the gully.

“Jesus Christ,” Dane whispered.

People rushed onto the snow, a dozen of them quickly surrounding him.

Dane took a step forward, as if he wanted to run through the crowd to help. But Willow put a hand on his arm. “There are a lot of people down there,” she said gently.

He just shook his head. “Get up, man.”

But Hazardous lay crumpled and still.

Callie couldn’t look away. In her head she heard the drumbeat of emergency procedure. Checking the vital signs, supporting his neck and back. But this time, it wasn’t her job. At least three of the people down at the scene wore medical jackets. And even now she could hear the approach of ambulance sirens. On busy winter weekends, there was always a bus parked at the bottom of the ski-mountain access road.

“When you broke your leg,” Willow said to Dane, “I’m sure it looked really bad from the stands.”

But Dane just shook his head. “Christ. The Olympics.”

From inside his jacket, the baby made a sound of protest. Dane tore his gaze away from the medical swarm and leaned inside to kiss her. Watching him, Callie’s heart squeezed with some unnamed feeling of yearning.

“She’s probably hungry,” Willow said. “I’ll take her inside and feed her.”

Dane watched an ambulance thread toward the huddle on the ice, a look of unease still washing across his face. “I guess I’ll come, too,” he said.

Following them, Callie fingered her pager in her pocket. The odds of it going off today had just escalated. She pulled out her phone to check in.

“Busy?” she asked the triage nurse who answered the doctors’ line. “If I were you, I’d pull up the call sheet for ortho and neuro. There was an injury during the snowboarding event at the ski mountain. You should be seeing them in fifteen minutes.”

“Will you get called in?” Willow asked after Callie hung up. The ambulance was already threading its way out to the state road, its lights whirling.

“I’m not their first call,” Callie said. “But give it an hour or two.” Callie was a hospitalist—a doctor who kept track of admitted patients’ medical needs.

“Okay,” Willow said, her eyes on the retreating ambulance. “I guess Dane and I will go to the farmhouse now, and check things out. Then we’ll swing by the hospital to try to learn what we can. We don’t know him all that well, but…” She swallowed. “That looked bad, didn’t it?”

“Yeah,” Callie admitted. The force with which he’d hit the pipe was scary. “But bodies can be tougher than they look.”

Willow shivered. “Can I call you in a couple of hours? No matter what, I want to see you tonight. Or tomorrow before we go.”

“Absolutely. I need to hold that baby some more.” She wanted that now more than ever, given the scary accident she’d just witnessed.

God, life was short. Maybe hers wasn’t working out so badly, after all.

As it happened, Callie was not handed Hank Lazarus’s chart until the following day. And even though she’d had twenty-four hours to process what she’d seen, the first sight of him in a hospital bed gutted her.

Pale and swollen from the IV fluids, he lay perfectly still. Since she’d last set eyes on him, he’d undergone an eight-hour spinal surgery. In place of the goggles and technical fabrics was a new sort of gear—tubes and monitors snaking from his body in every direction.

Even though he was sedated, Callie found herself holding her breath as she checked the tag on his IV bag. As his powerful chest rose and fell, Callie realized how limited her view of her patients usually was. Never before had she gotten such a shocking demonstration of “before” and “after.” She met patients hours or days after things went sideways. But the ashen, broken man in room nineteen was such a frightening contrast to the one she’d seen drop into the half-pipe, it hurt her to look at him.

She forced herself to linger a moment longer. Though it shamed her to say it, there were times when she found herself judging the people in these beds. She might wonder why the patient had thought it was a good idea to ride that zip line so near to the trees, or drive so fast in the rain. Callie had always lived cautiously, and when she saw the results of a preventable accident, it seemed like such a waste.

But the memory of Hank Lazarus flipping effortlessly against the blue sky was burned in her brain. And in spite of the danger of it all, so cruelly proven by the sleeping figure in the bed, she didn’t have to ask why he’d choose to take such a risk. She’d seen the power and the beauty of it with her own two eyes.

Beneath the sheet, he breathed. In and out. At that moment, there was nothing he needed from her. And nothing more she could do.

Dane and Willow tried to see Hank before they left again for Utah, but the first time they stopped by, he was in surgery. The second time, he was asleep. With the Olympics just weeks away, they had to go back to Dane’s training. “Will you give him our love?” Willow asked, looking shaken in the waiting room.

“Of course,” Callie answered, fully intending to do it.

As it happened, she never did.

In the first place, when Callie finally saw Hank conscious, he didn’t seem to remember her face. And this was not at all surprising. They’d only met for a second, and the mind often forgot the events just before a trauma.

And Hank had a distracting swirl of other visitors as the days went by. His parents, Callie learned, were a sort of Vermont royalty. They were part owners of the ski mountain. And Hank’s father had built half of the condos in the county. There was a daughter, too, another athlete.

Callie gleaned many of these facts from the local paper, which ran a front-page story about Hank and his accident. At age eighteen, he’d left Vermont for the Rocky Mountains, where he’d taken a job as a dishwasher to pay for his lift tickets. He was as famous for partying as he was for winning competitions.

Reading about him made Callie feel like a stalker. But there it was in black and white, on the table in the break room.

From her chair beside Hank’s bed, his mother was a silver-haired force of nature, barking orders at every nurse who dared to enter her son’s room. And whenever Callie saw Mr. Lazarus in the hospital corridors, he was always on his phone

“They’re flying in specialists. Three of them,” nurse Trina told her. The nurse’s station was another excellent source of news.

“That’s a lot of firepower,” Callie said.

“The Lazarus family can afford it. They gave a truckload of money to the hospital,” she said, cracking her gum. “The pediatric wing built ten years ago? That was all them.”

“Wow, really? You’d think their name would be over the door.”

Trina shrugged. “They don’t do bling. Mama Lazarus has those fancy shoes that no sane person wears in Vermont, right? And pearls? But no bling.”

Callie had noticed that, too, actually. Even during this time of crisis, Hank’s mother paced his room in camel-colored cashmere and suede. It was expensive, but not flashy.

“Their daughter survived some kind of childhood cancer,” Trina continued. “They gave the money afterward as a thank-you.”

“That’s generous.”

“Sure. But they’re also exacting. That woman was on my ass tighter than a bumper sticker while I did his blood draw. Like I haven’t been doing this for thirty years.”

“It’s because you look so young, Trina. She probably thought it was your first day.”

The woman rolled her eyes, and Callie moved on to her next patient.

On Hank’s third day at the hospital, a new visitor showed up. Outside Hank’s room, seated on a plastic chair, wept a very pretty girl. Callie assumed this was Hank’s sister. But again the nurses had the dirt. The statuesque blond was the girlfriend, and a slalom skier. And a model. She even had a glamorous name: Alexis. Her only obvious flaw was temporary—she’d cried raccoon eyes onto herself each time Callie glimpsed her.

As Hank’s medical coordinator, Callie was in and out, checking to be sure that the prescriptions his various specialists had ordered were appropriately dosed and would not conflict. She kept tabs on his vitals and watched for signs of infection. She was just one in a sea of faces caring for him.

It wasn’t until the fifth day after his accident that they had a real conversation.

Outside the door to his room, his parents were engaged in a heated conversation with a spinal specialist they’d whisked in from Cleveland. Callie slid past them to find Hank staring out the window. When he turned his head to meet her eyes, she could see that the post-surgical drug haze had lifted. In his gaze, she saw a man awake to the world, but in terrible pain. It was her job to try to figure out if that pain was something physical that she could relieve, or rather the distress of waking up to find he could not move his legs.

“Hi,” Callie said softly. “I’m Doctor Anders. Or Callie, if you wish.”

“Callie,” he cleared his throat. “You look really familiar.”

That wasn’t what she had expected him to say. It would have been as good a time as any to mention that they’d met about ten minutes before his accident, but she couldn’t bring herself to do it. Who would want to be reminded of that afternoon? “I’ve been here all week,” she said instead. “But we don’t expect you to keep track of the dozens of people who prod you all day.”

“And all night,” he added.

She sat down on a stool next to his bed. “That’s my fault. I need to know that they’re looking at your vitals every three hours. It helps me sleep.” She winked, and was rewarded with half a smile. “Now, quick—before the room is invaded again by nurses’ assistants—how’s your pain? Is there anything you need?”

Hank lifted one hand to his face, and Callie was glad to see it. If his injury had happened farther up his spine, he wouldn’t have been able to do that. With his palm, Hank rubbed several days’ worth of whiskers, which only served to make him look more rugged, while he considered her question. “Let’s see…I need a full rack of Curtis’ ribs, with spicy sauce and a baked potato. And I need to get the hell out of this hospital.”

She nodded obligingly, even though she couldn’t fulfill any of those requests. But if he was talking about food and getting out of here, those were both good signs. “You’ll be transferring to a rehab facility soon.”

“Yeah,” he sighed. His gaze wandered again, his eyes aiming at the window.

“The rehab place will let you sleep through the night,” she said, keeping her voice light. “And you’ll have your own clothes. I hear the food is better, too.”

“Couldn’t really be worse,” he said, turning to face Callie again. His dark eyes locked onto hers, and Callie felt the moment stretch and take hold. He didn’t say anything more, but he didn’t have to. Silently, an understanding passed between them. It didn’t matter if the food got better. Hank Lazarus was in for a shitty time, truly the shittiest time of his life. The distance he’d come these past five days was a descent from the highest high to the lowest low. And there wasn’t a damned thing either of them could do about it.

“Hang in there,” Callie whispered. “This right here is the very worst part.”

He didn’t break their staring contest. “You promise?” he rumbled, his voice pure whiskey and smoke.

But Callie didn’t get a chance to answer, because his parents burst into the room then, both talking at the same time. “Forty percent chance that he’ll walk from this guy, fifteen percent from the other?” Hank’s mother bleated. “These people call themselves scientists?”

“Flew him all the way out here, and it’s just more of the same,” his father muttered.

Callie watched Hank’s face close down as his parents approached.

“It’s ridiculous,” his father sputtered, pulling in a deep breath in order to fuel the next phase of his rant. Meanwhile, Hank’s jaw began to tick.

Callie stood up. “I know why you’re frustrated,” she announced, folding her arms. Hank’s parents eyed her, and Callie knew what they saw—a young doctor at a good but rural hospital. And she wasn’t even a specialist. But she had something important to say, and she wasn’t going to let them stop her. “You need answers, and you need them now. I don’t blame you at all.”

Hank’s mother opened her mouth to speak, but Callie cut her off. “Unfortunately, that’s not how the spinal cord works. It doesn’t care that you’re desperate to know whether he’ll walk again. There’s swelling and bruising, and his body is still in shock. It’s not the specialists’ fault that they can’t tell you what you need to know. The sooner you push for answers, the less accurate those answers will be, okay? Hank needs time, and we all need your patience. You won’t have the answers for maybe a year. And no specialist, and no amount of money can change that.”

Callie ceased her tirade to take a deep breath. God, she really shouldn’t have added that last part. Never mention money to rich people. She expected Hank’s parents to start yelling at her. But they didn’t. His mother only began to blink rapidly with saddened eyes. And Hank’s father wrapped his arms around her protectively.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered into the silence. “If you’ll excuse me.” Callie took a couple of steps toward the door. On her way out, she turned to look once more at Hank. To her surprise, he winked at her.

Callie walked out, and spent the next few hours wondering if she’d receive a reprimand for raising her voice to the Lazarus family. But the call never came.

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Nov 282019
 

Blonde Date (The Ivy Years #2.5) by Sarina Bowen

A blind date. A nervous sorority girl. A mean-spirited fraternity prank. What could go wrong?

As a sorority pledge, there are commandments that Katie Vickery must live by. One: thou shalt not show up for the party without a date. Two: the guy shall be an athlete, preferably an upperclassman.

Unfortunately, Katie just broke up with her jerkface football player boyfriend. Even worse, her last encounter with him resulted in utter humiliation. She’d rather hide under the bed than attend a party where he’ll be.

Yet staying home would mean letting him win.

Enjoying herself tonight was out of the question. She could only hope to get through the evening without her blind date noticing that he was spending the evening with a crazy person.

Andrew Baschnagel is living proof that nice guys don’t finish first. He’s had his eye on Katie since the moment her long legs waltzed into his art history class. So when her roommate sets Andy up to be Katie’s date, he’d be crazy to say no. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a lot of practice with either girls or parties. Yet.

Excerpt Blonde Date (The Ivy Years #2.5) by Sarina Bowen

CHAPTER ONE
ANDY
With a growing sense of panic, I pawed through the clothes in my narrow little dorm room closet. For five long minutes I’d stood there inspecting my shirts, tossing them one by one on the bed. That was four more minutes than I’d ever spent before trying to decide what to wear. But I still didn’t have a freaking clue.

It was time to call in the big guns.

Luckily, my older sister answered on the first ring. “I need a consult,” I said. Delia was in med school, and you got further with her if you spoke in medical terms.

“Where does it hurt?” she asked.

“I have a date, and I don’t know what to wear.”

Her laughter was so loud that I had to hold the phone away from my ear. “How old are you?”

“Old enough to ask for help when I need it.”

“Fair enough. What’s the occasion?”

“That’s the tricky part. First there’s a charity bit, where I’m helping a bunch of sorority girls with their community project. Setting up a Christmas tree, or something.”

Delia laughed again. “What do you know from setting up a Christmas tree, Jew boy?”

“How hard could it be? But there’s also a tree lighting, and, like, cocktails.”

“Hmm,” my sister mused. “And where does this event take place?”

“In their preppy white sorority house with the big columns on the front.”

“Well… This really could go either way. Casual or dressy.”

“That’s what I was afraid of. How should I play it?”

“Who’s the girl? Anyone special?”

Why yes. But I wasn’t going to tell my sister that just hearing this girl’s name gave me a thrill. Katie Vickery. When she’d called to invite me to this thing, she’d opened with “you don’t know me…”

But she’d been wrong. Very wrong. I knew exactly who she was.

In the first place, if you were a lonely junior at Harkness, noticing the frosh girls was like your job. And she made my job easy. I’d picked out those long legs the very first time they’d walked into my art history lecture. And — lucky me — summer’s warmth had held on an extra week or two this year, treating me to a steady parade of Katie’s short skirts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning.

The most attractive thing about her, though, was her laugh. It was deeper and huskier than you’d expect from someone so slight and fair. I loved the sound of it. Whenever I heard her laugh, my brain took a short trip around the block.

God, she was hot. But she also had unattainable practically stamped on her forehead. Because Katie was the sort of girl that everyone noticed. And I wasn’t even a little bit surprised when she started sitting with the football crew during lectures.

I didn’t dwell on this. Girls like Katie Vickery were out of my league, and I didn’t bother to sit around wondering why. Some things just were.

As the fall semester wore on, Bridger, my next-door neighbor, started spending a lot of time with Katie’s roommate, Scarlet. So I sometimes overheard updates about Katie. Scarlet mentioned that they sometimes went jogging together. After that, Katie’s long legs began loping through my dreams in spandex shorts.

But that wasn’t a premonition, or anything. It was just the work of a shy guy’s subconscious. In a million years, I’d never thought I’d be standing here, dressing for a date with her. And if she hadn’t invited me out of sheer desperation, I wouldn’t be.

“Um, earth to Andy!” my sister prompted. “I asked you a question. Is the girl anyone special?”

“We don’t really know each other,” I admitted. “She dumped her football player boyfriend a few weeks ago and needed a date for this thing. Enter me.”

“So this is a date of necessity. But how did you get the nod? She must not know your track record with women. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” My sister snickered.

“Come on, now, D. If I wanted to be mocked, I would have called my other sister.” Our younger sis was kind of a bitch. “You remember Bridger?”

“Who could forget him?” Delia asked. My neighbor was kind of a stud with the ladies.

“Well, this whole thing was his girlfriend’s idea.”

“I knew I liked that guy,” Delia said. But of course she did. All the women did. “And his girlfriend has good taste, too.”

“In me? Or in Bridger?” I teased.

“Both. And this sorority girl is going to love you. You’re pretty cute for a skinny guy.”

I didn’t have time to argue with her. But even if it was true, pretty cute for a skinny guy probably wasn’t going to be enough to win me Katie’s undying affection. I’d been invited on this junket because the newly single Katie was apparently done with football players. “And jerks of all stripes,” Scarlet had explained. “I told her, ‘Andy is absolutely not a jerk.’”

For a second I’d felt awesome about that. But then I’d realized that being absolutely not a jerk also wasn’t enough of an endorsement to fill the utter void that was my love life.

Oh, well.

“Are you going to help me or what?” I prodded.

“Of course. So you want to impress her, but you don’t want to look like you’re trying too hard,” my sister said.

“Exactly. So tell me what to wear. While I’m young, if possible.”

“Well, when the Jew boy goes to the Christmas tree lighting at the WASPy sorority house, he should always wear nice pants. You have some wool trousers, right?”

I looked at the three pairs I’d draped over my desk chair. “Won’t that be too dressy?”

“Not if they’re khaki-colored. How about the ones you wore when we saw that show in Boston?”

How did she even remember that shit? If Delia asked me to name three items of clothing that she’d ever owned in her lifetime, I couldn’t do it.

I lifted the pants off their hanger. “All right. What else?”

“The shirt should be a dark color. Dark blue, maybe? With the collar open. Whatever you do, don’t button that sucker all the way up. Wear a t-shirt underneath, and it’s okay if the t-shirt is visible at the collar. That takes you one notch back toward casual. And no tie.”

See? This was why a guy called his sister. I hopped into the pants using one hand. “And the shirt is tucked in, right?”

“Tuck it in! Absolutely. Unless you really don’t want to get laid.”

I laughed and had to grab the phone to keep it from hitting the floor. “That’s not happening.”

“Are you saying that because you’re talking to your sister? Or because you really believe it?”

“Uh, why? Are you doing a psych rotation at school, or something?” I pulled a clean t-shirt over my head.

“I was only teasing about your record with girls. You know that right? You’re a catch, Andy. As long as you tuck your shirt in.”

“That must be what I’ve been doing wrong.”

My sister laughed. “Your only real problem is confidence.”

I stuffed my feet into a pair of shoes. “Am I wearing a jacket, too? Or just my coat?”

“Your plain black sport jacket. It still fits, right? God, I hope your arms aren’t getting any longer. Because you’re already kind of like an orangutan.”

“And you wonder why I don’t have any confidence,” I mumbled.

“Kidding! But seriously, if the jacket sleeves are too short, then skip it. And you need to shine your shoes.”

“I don’t have time.”

“What? When is this date?”

“Ten minutes.”

“Andrew Isaac Baschnagel! Did you shower and shave?”

“Yes, Mom.”

“Hang up and go meet your girl. Crap. I wanted you to send a picture before you left. In case you need tweaking.”

“No time for tweaking. Bye, Delia! Thanks.”

“Bye, orangutan.” Then she clicked off. Delia loved getting the last word.

But never mind. I put on exactly what she’d told me to. I hung up the pants that hadn’t made the cut. Then, shoving my keys and my wallet into a pocket, I ran out the door and down the entryway stairs. Checking my phone, I saw that I had plenty of time. It was a two-minute walk to Katie’s dorm, and I had twice that.

My phone buzzed with a text from Delia. Good luck with the WASPs, string bean.

Holding up my phone and grinning like a dork, I took a selfie and sent it to her.

The clothes look great. But UR hopeless, she replied.

That was probably true. And I’d never admit it to my sister, but she wasn’t totally off base with her remark about my confidence. Some guys just had a kind of swagger that worked for them. My neighbor Bridger? All he had to do was walk into a room, and the girls hurled themselves at him, like moths at a window screen on a summer night.

But what was swagger, really? It came from the belief that hot girls wanted to take you to bed. So, to acquire it, you’d need at least a little evidence that this was true.

Yeah. I didn’t have that. All I had was evidence that a hot girl needed a date for a party. But that was better than nothing, right? And I’d have a couple of hours in the company of the lovely Katie Vickery.

Life could really be worse.

Apparently Delia wasn’t done with me, though. When my phone buzzed again, she’d written: Ask her out on your way home 2nite. Don’t chicken out.

I hadn’t thought that far ahead. But my sister was a smart girl. Okay. If things go well, I’ll do it, I replied.

If U do, I’ll buy you a sundae at Lou’s. If U chicken out, I win a sundae.

That seemed like a perfectly good incentive to do something that I already wanted to do. Deal, I replied.

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 28 November 2019  Posted by  Tagged with: , , , ,  No Responses »
Nov 282019
 

The Shameless Hour (The Ivy Years #4) by Sarina Bowen

The girl who’s had everyone meets the boy who has no one.

For Bella, the sweet-talking, free-loving, hip-checking student manager of the Harkness men’s hockey team, sex is a second language. She’s used to being fluent where others stutter, and the things people say behind her back don’t (often) bother her. So she can’t understand why her smoking hot downstairs neighbor has so much trouble staying friends after their spontaneous night together. She knows better than to worry about it, but there’s something in those espresso eyes that makes her second guess herself.

Rafe is appalled with himself for losing his virginity in a drunken hookup. His strict Catholic upbringing always emphasized loving thy neighbor—but not with a bottle of wine and a box of condoms. The result is an Ivy League bout of awkwardness. But when Bella is leveled by a little bad luck and a downright sinister fraternity stunt, it’s Rafe who is there to pick up the pieces.

Bella doesn’t want Rafe’s help, and she’s through with men. Too bad the undeniable spark that crackles between the two of them just can’t be extinguished.

Excerpt The Shameless Hour (The Ivy Years #4) by Sarina Bowen

I held her a little closer as we danced. The band had no vocalist, but I could hear Louis Armstrong’s voice in my head. Give me… a kiss to build a dream on. “I’ve always loved this song,” I confessed.

“Wait, really?” Bella stood up taller so she could look me in the eye. “Have you listened to the lyrics? The guy gets a single kiss, and he basically says that it’s enough — he’s just going to fantasize about it for the rest of his life. I mean… what a rip.”

I bit back a smile. “It’s romantic.”

“It’s unsatisfying,” she countered. “Here, I’ll show you.” Before I knew what was happening, Bella came closer. Her silky thumb stroked once across my cheekbone. Then she stood up on her toes and kissed me.

The first press of her sweet lips against mine stopped my breathing. Though you couldn’t have paid me to resist her. Sheer instinct made me lean into that kiss with my entire being.

Bella’s mouth melted onto mine, and a needy little sound issued from the back of her throat. Heaven. I deepened the kiss, and our tongues touched once. She tasted of red wine and desire. An electric pulse traveled the length of my body. Unbidden, my hands pulled her closer, my fingers in her hair…

The sound of applause brought me back to earth with a thunk. The song had ended, and the band segued into some kind of swing tune. Bella and I broke apart on a gasp. For a second we just stared at each other. “See?” she said eventually.

But I didn’t have the faintest recollection of the point she’d been trying to make. “What?”

Amusement tickled her features. “Never mind. I hear my wine glass calling me.” She tugged on my hand.

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 28 November 2019  Posted by  Tagged with: ,  No Responses »
Nov 272019
 

Steadfast (True North #2) by Sarina Bowen

She’s the only one who ever loved him—and the only one he can never have.

Jude lost everything one spring day when he crashed his car into an apple tree on the side of the road. A man is dead, and there’s no way he can ever right that wrong. He’d steer clear of Colebury, Vermont forever if he could. But an ex-con in recovery for his drug addiction can’t find a job just anywhere.

Sophie Haines is stunned by his reappearance. After a three year absence, the man who killed her brother and broke her heart is suddenly everywhere she turns. It’s hard not to stare at how much he’s changed. The bad boy who used to love her didn’t have big biceps and sun-kissed hair. And he’d never volunteer in the church kitchen.

No one wants to see Sophie and Jude back together, least of all Sophie’s police chief father. But it’s a small town. And forbidden love is a law unto itself.

Excerpt Steadfast (True North #2) by Sarina Bowen

NOVEMBER, COLEBURY VT
JUDE
The last time I drove through Colebury, Vermont, I sat behind the wheel of a 1972 Porsche 911 restored to mint condition, with a sweet new paint job in Aubergine.

Compare and contrast: three years later, I rattled down Main Street in a tattered 1996 Dodge Avenger I’d just bought for nine hundred bucks. The front fender was held together with duct tape.

None of that would have bothered me if the Avenger and I didn’t have so fucking much in common. We’d both ended up in the gutter, broken in body and spirit. The car’s muffler was shot. Exposed wires hanging out from under the dashboard were a perfect proxy for my jangled nerves. I was five months out of rehab and I still couldn’t sleep more than three hours in a row.

My arrogant teenage self would never have driven this heap, but that punk’s opinion didn’t matter anymore. I hated that guy. And while we’re marking all the contradictions, I should also add that the last time I drove through Colebury, Vermont, I was high as a kite on opiates.

Today I was stone cold sober. So at least I had that going for me.

In the minus column, I was now a convicted felon. I served thirty-six months for possession and vehicular manslaughter. I had very little money, and even fewer friends. The one lucky thing in my life — a live-saving job at an orchard in the next county — had just ended. It was November, and there were no more apples to pick or sell. So heading home was my only option.

There was, as usual, no traffic in Colebury. The little town where I grew up didn’t have a rush hour. It was more like a rush minute, and that hadn’t started yet…

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 27 November 2019  Posted by  Tagged with: ,  No Responses »
Nov 272019
 

Coming In From The Cold (Gravity #1) by Sarina Bowen

He can’t have her. And he can’t tell anyone why.

Ski racer Dane “Danger” Hollister does not do relationships, though he keeps his reason a secret. The real-life curse he’s inherited from his mother will eventually cost him everything: his place on the Olympic ski team, his endorsement income, and his ability to fly downhill at top speed.

Reluctant country girl Willow Reade meets Dane by accident. Literally. Her skidding truck forces him off the road during a blizzard. Stranded together in his Jeep as night falls, the two loneliest people in Vermont find themselves sharing more than they’d planned. And not just conversation.

Yet neither can guess how their unlikely tryst will threaten Dane’s frightening secret and Willow’s tentative peace with her own choices. Only mutual trust and understanding can end their pain and give them a hard won shot at love.

Excerpt Coming In From The Cold (Gravity #1) by Sarina Bowen

One

WILLOW NEEDED TO keep the old truck on the road and out of the snowy ditch for just one more mile.

At six o’clock on a December evening, the sky over Vermont had been dark for two hours already. She had the heater cranking on the highest setting, but still the windshield was icing over, the heavy snow plastering itself to the top of her field of vision. Willow hunched in her seat for a better view of the road. Creeping along at fifteen miles per hour, she’d be home in five minutes.

She hadn’t meant to drive in blizzard conditions. She’d done her storm preparation—filling the old claw-foot bathtub with water, preparing herself for the inevitable loss of electricity. She put blocks of ice in her freezer and set the candles out on the kitchen table, with a box of matches at the ready.

She’d almost gotten everything right.

And then, heading into the barn to tuck the chickens in for the night, she’d opened their feed bin to find it empty. If she were snowed in for two days, as the Weather Channel predicted, she would have nothing to feed them.

“Damn it!” Willow had said, startling several of her Buff Orpington hens into a nervous flutter. Only the most stalwart remained at her feet, still hoping she would produce a pocketful of raisins.

Instead, she had turned on her heel, latching the barn door behind her. Just because Willow had never intended to become a chicken farmer didn’t mean she wanted to kill off her stock. She and The Girls had a deal—clean feed for organic eggs. She meant to keep her end of the bargain.

The old truck had started right up, and she drove down her lengthy driveway and turned left, away from civilization, toward the country feed store. But snow had accumulated frighteningly fast since her outbound trip just a half hour before. Gripping the wheel, Willow saw another vehicle spotlit ahead—a green Jeep moving even more slowly than she was. Willow stepped on her brakes. But instead of stopping, she felt the sickening sensation of several tons of metal skidding to the right.

Time slowed to a crawl as the truck slid in an awkward direction toward both the Jeep and the ditch. The Jeep’s taillights grew brighter as they approached, and Willow held her breath. At the last second, the Jeep seemed to leap to the left, causing Willow a moment of confusion over which of them—the Jeep or the truck—had moved so quickly. Was she still on the road?

The cab tilted abruptly to the right, and Willow felt a scream catch in her throat. But then the truck stopped suddenly, heaving her torso against the seatbelt. The force pressed a gasp from her lungs, and she bounced backward against the seat.

And then all was still.

With her heart banging away in her chest, Willow took stock. The cab listed to the right. Her wheels must have landed in the drainage culvert beside her road. At the sudden stop, Willow’s feet had slipped off the pedals, and now the truck shuddered and died in place.

Immediately, the windshield began to fill with a white blanket of snow.

She took a deep breath. You’re okay. You’re fine. Thank goodness she’d been going so slowly when she lost control.

A tap on her door made Willow jump. Someone was standing outside. She grasped the window crank—the sort that dated her truck to the premodern era—and rolled down her window. A man’s face—rugged, with a chiseled chin—looked back at her. He gave her an anxious frown. “Are you okay?”

“Yes?” she replied, still stunned.

“Well, now we’re both stuck,” he said. “I veered across the road to get out of your way, and I’m over a stump.” Even in the dark she could see his handsome jaw flex with irritation.

“It’s my fault that you hit a stump on the other side of the road?” Willow knew she ought to focus on the problem at hand. But the handsome stranger in front of her was every bit as distracting as their fender bender. She couldn’t help but admire his sleek white jacket, of the sort of technical fabric sold at the fancy ski shops in town. He had a silver wool hat pulled down over his head, but brown curls escaped from the bottom of it, framing his eyes. He reminded her of a snow god. A slightly ornery one.

He threw up his hands. “I don’t know,” he huffed. “Never mind.” He walked away from her. The snow was falling so fast that the blizzard swallowed him up before he’d taken five steps. He was a big man, she noticed—tall, with long legs and a tight backside.

Nice work, Willow. She had just run the most attractive guy in the county off the road.

Snow blew into her car, so Willow cranked the window closed again. Then she pressed down on the clutch and brake, turning the truck’s key.

Nothing.

Damn.

Willow pumped the gas pedal a couple of times and tried the key again. And again. But the engine wouldn’t even turn over.

“Oh no,” Willow said aloud. “Oh no, oh no, oh no.” She needed to call roadside assistance. Digging a hand into her purse for her phone, she turned it on. Willow already knew what it would say, but she looked anyway.

Searching.

She stared. “Come on.”

No signal.

It was just so typical of her recent troubles. Calling for help was like so many other things in her life—an escape hatch that worked for people who weren’t Willow. Other girls might have family to fall back on or catch a break financially, but she had to go and fall hard for a man so inappropriate, so uninterested in her continued happiness that he’d sealed off the exits. Her money was sunk into their old farmhouse; her credit was maxed out by his plans. And he had gone to California with another woman. There Willow sat, in a fifteen-year-old truck that wouldn’t start, chicken feed in the back.

She couldn’t even call 9-1-1. He’d taken that away, too. It had been his dream to move out to the middle of nowhere together.

And then he’d split, leaving her holding the feed bucket.

Damned Vermont. Damned snow. Damned truck. Damned cheating ex-boyfriend who’d fled to California. Damn. Damn. Damn.

* * *

Back in his Jeep, Dane Hollister smacked the steering wheel. Then he pulled the stick into reverse and tried again. But the wheels spun without catching. Whatever was holding him off the ground must be something quite large, because the Jeep had good clearance, four-wheel drive and sturdy snow tires. Only very bad luck could put him in a snowbank.

But Dane was used to being unlucky.

Calm down, he ordered himself.

He had snapped at that girl. It was true that he’d still be driving toward the town of Hamilton if she hadn’t come along. But the blizzard wasn’t her fault.

Dane rested his hands in his lap and analyzed the last few minutes. He’d seen the truck coming too fast. He’d turned the wheel a little too hard, and the new snow had slicked against the salted road, causing the Jeep to spin.

He probed the incident like the ski team doctor fingering tendons for an injury. But in this case, it could have happened to anyone. He had not experienced any unusual muscle reflexes. The incident was just a fluke.

It had not been caused by a symptom.

Dane blew out a breath, and then focused his thoughts on the real problem at hand. He was stuck about eight miles from the crappy little room he rented on Main Street. There was more than a foot of snow on the ground, and the forecast was for much more.

And he needed to apologize to the pretty girl in the ugly black truck.

He put his gloves on. Leaving the engine running, he got out. Christ. The snow was coming down fast and furious. His own headlights did little to illuminate the road, but he knew where she was—kitty-corner to him. He pointed himself in a diagonal line away from his headlights and found her. Again he knocked on her window. The cab was dark and he couldn’t see inside.

“Hello?” he called.

There was no answer.

“Are you okay?” he asked again. There was only silence. Had she vanished? It was even a little creepy. But there was really only one thing in the world that Dane Hollister was afraid of, and it wasn’t standing there on the road.

He grasped the handle and opened the truck’s door, and there she was again. Only now there were tears drying on her face.

Nice, Dane. Good work, asshole.

The girl wiped her face quickly with her hand, embarrassed.

“Hey!” he said, in a voice that was much warmer than before. “Christ, I’m sorry. Didn’t mean to flip out on you. Can I help?”

She tried to pull herself together, clearing her throat. “The truck won’t start.”

“Do you want me to give it a try?”

She looked up at him then, one eyebrow raised cynically. “Because I might have forgotten how to do it myself?”

He laughed. “Right. I get it. But I don’t know what else to offer.”

She slid across the seat, swinging her legs over the gearbox. “Go ahead. And if she starts, I won’t even hold it against you.”

He swung into the cab and closed the door. Then he tried to start the engine. Since the seat was set for her petite frame, his knees were jammed up against the steering column. Not that it mattered. When he turned the key, there was only silence. “She won’t even turn over? Not once?”

“Not once.”

He leaned back, or tried to. “Sorry. Our options for getting out of here aren’t very good.”

“I’ll just walk it,” she said. “My house is about a mile away.”

“Hmm,” he said quietly. He didn’t want to insult her again, but unless she had a snowmobile with floodlights on it, she’d be lost before you could say nor’easter. “I’m not sure that’s such a good idea.” He groped for the high beams. “Look, the road is gone.” The lights illuminated all of about four feet in front of the truck, a deep flurry of falling snow, punctuated by only blackness beyond.

“Wow,” she whispered.

“Do you know any of your neighbors? I didn’t see any lights….”

She shook her head, silky hair sliding over her shoulders. “There aren’t many houses out here. This land is held in conservation.”

“Okayyy…” he said. “I’m out of ideas. I guess we’re going to have to call 9-1-1.”

She tipped her head back and let out a musical laugh.

“What’s so funny?”

“You’re not from around here, are you?”

“Not for years,” Dane admitted. He’d grown up two towns away, but that felt like a lifetime ago.

Reluctantly he turned off her headlights, saving her battery, yet plunging the cab into darkness. He’d been enjoying the sight of a pretty girl laughing, cheeks flushed, perfect pink lips smiling up at the ceiling. Just because Dane planned never to get involved with a woman didn’t mean he didn’t like looking at them. (Especially the occasional naked woman between his legs.) And this one was really quite extraordinary. Late twenties, slender, and with a long graceful neck. Even with the bulk of her down jacket he’d noticed a full bust that heaved as she laughed.

“There’s no reception anywhere on this road,” she said, “until you’re almost into Hamilton.”

“Right,” he said. “I’d forgotten. The mobile phone companies have no love for the forty-ninth most populous state.”

Dane had spent the past ten years traveling on the World Cup skiing circuit. This was his first time back in Vermont in years. Elite skiers didn’t train in Vermont—the mountains weren’t tall enough, and the snowfall was unreliable. Instead, they trained at the big western mountains, in Colorado or Utah.

But this year, Dane and his coach were making an exception. They’d camped here for the season—between races—to be close to Dane’s latest family tragedy. In Vermont, he was able see his sick brother every week, yet keep his troubles far away from the prying eyes of the ski association.

“So…” the girl took a deep breath. “That leaves us waiting for the plow to come by. The driver can radio in for help.”

Dane shifted on her uncomfortable bench seat. With the cab listing to the right, he had to hang on with the heels of his boots to avoid sliding into her. “Okay,” he said. “Look, my name’s Dane, and I just wanted to say that I’m sorry I barked at you before.”

Her head turned in the dark. “It’s okay. Skidding is scary, and it made me a little cuckoo too—I actually felt drunk for a minute there.”

“Are you going to tell me your name?”

“Sorry, it’s Willow Reade.”

Willow. He cleared his throat. “Willow, your truck is ferociously uncomfortable. Do you mind if we wait for the plow in my Jeep? I left it running.”

“Oh!” she said. “Um, sure. If that’s okay. I’m kind of up against the door here.”

He forced open the driver’s side door. “I don’t know how long we’ll be waiting. Do you happen to have any emergency supplies in your glove box…whiskey? Chocolate?”

She laughed. “Sorry. I am a completely useless human.”

The way she said it was bitter. As if she believed it.

Anyhow, Willow followed him toward his Jeep, which was lit by his running lights. But in every other direction it was utterly dark. “Ladies first,” he said. “Do you mind climbing across? You could go around to the passenger door, but I don’t know what you’d be walking into over there.”

He held the door while she slid inside, climbing carefully over the automatic gearshift.

Dane closed the door behind her and walked around to the back, opening the tailgate. He saw her spin around to watch him. Quickly, so as not to let too much heat out of the car, he dragged a half dozen pairs of skis out of the back and then slammed the door. He set the skis against the back of the Jeep, in a lean-to formation.

When he opened the driver’s side door again, her worried face looked up at him. He closed the door, plunging them into darkness. “I cleaned all the snow away from the tailpipe, and tented skis over it,” he explained. “We should be able to run the engine for a while before the exhaust gets clogged.”

“Oh!” He could hear her shiver beside him. “Thank-you, Boy Scout. It crossed my mind that you were making room for my mutilated body. But I forgot to worry about accidental asphyxiation.”

“Christ,” he laughed in what he hoped was a non-threatening way. “The only thing I’d like to mutilate is a cheeseburger, medium rare. And a side of onion rings.”

“Good,” she said. “Because it’s been a pretty crappy day already.”

“Has it?” He leaned back against the headrest. “Let’s name all the shitty things about this day. You start.”

“Well, okay,” her voice was tentative. He wished he could see her face. Her tone suggested a frown across that pink, kissable mouth he’d spied earlier. “My truck may have breathed its last. And I can’t afford a new one.”

“I’m sorry,” he said.

“Your turn,” Willow pressed.

“Sure. I was supposed to drive to Keene tonight. And I have a flight out of Boston tomorrow. But the roads are trashed, and the Jeep is stuck. Your turn.”

“That is inconvenient. I shouldn’t have been on the road at all. I drove out because I needed chicken feed, which seemed important. But now I realize that I didn’t check their water, and the chickens are far more likely to die of thirst than hunger. Go.”

“We might die of thirst first. Go.”

He felt her turn toward him in the dark. “I have to throw a flag on that one, mister,” she said. “We’re not trapped in a barn like them, we’re surrounded by water. How about this: I left a pot of chili cooking in my kitchen, and it might burn. Go.”

“New rule,” he announced. “Let’s not talk about food. I’ve been working out since five-thirty this morning, and lunch was five hours ago. Your turn.”

“All right…” Willow sounded as if she was running out of complaints, at least the ones she was willing to tell a stranger. “There is going to be some world-class shoveling to do tomorrow.”

“Well, I have to flag that one,” Dane said. “Because shoveling means snow, and I live for snow. So here’s the real bummer. We’re getting two feet of freshy, and I can’t ski on it tomorrow. I have to travel.”

“The snow will still be here when you get back,” Willow pointed out.

“You aren’t a skier, are you? There’s nothing like first tracks. Flying down a slope in un-tracked powder is the best thing there is. It’s better than sex.”

Willow burst out laughing. “You did not just say that.”

“What?”

“I feel sorry for your girlfriend,” she giggled.

“I don’t have one.”

But that only made her laugh harder. “Sorry, I’m no expert on skiing, so it’s possible that you know something I don’t. On the other hand, it’s also possible that you’re meeting the wrong girls.”

He grinned in the dark. “Fair enough. I think it’s your turn.”

“Ah.” She took a deep breath. “Okay, my ex called today and asked me to sell his motorcycle and wire him the money. As if that would take no effort on my part. Even though he left me in debt.” Her voice quavered a bit at the end. Their little game had turned into a peculiar little confessional. “Your turn.”

“My brother is dying,” Dane bit out. “And I’m supposed to be driving to see him right now.”

Christ. He had no idea what made him tell her that. To say that he wasn’t a sharer was putting it mildly. But the dark and the warm sound of her voice had loosened up his tongue.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered.

He shook his head in the darkness. “It’s been a long illness. I’ve known it was coming.”

“What’s his name?” she asked.

Her choice of questions made him like her even more. It wasn’t a nosy what’s wrong with him? Instead, she’d asked something much more relevant, something which honored his brother the way Dane thought of him—a happy, laughing man. The father that Dane never had.

“He’s Finn,” he answered. “We’re Finn and Dane. My mother had a thing for Scandinavia.”

Poor Finn.

For almost fifteen years, Dane had known Finn would die. When Dane was a teenager, his brother sat him down and explained it. “It killed mom, and it will eventually kill me, too. But maybe not you, Danger man, you just keep skiing fast, and maybe you’ll outrun it.”

He and Finn were ten years apart. His brother had been twenty-five at the time he received his diagnosis. Poor Finn had started showing symptoms a good decade earlier than most people with the disease. Now Finn was not quite forty, and Dane was about to turn thirty.

And eventually, the symptoms would come for him, too.

No matter what his brother said, Dane was sure of it. He had spent the last fifteen years trying to accept it. And this was Dane’s true secret. The fact that his brother was sick could slip out, sitting next to a silky-haired girl in a dark car…that didn’t matter—not really. But nothing could shake that other truth from his lips. If anyone ever found out about the genetic time bomb that awaited him, Dane would lose his place on the ski team, his endorsements. Everything.

“It can’t be easy,” Willow said, her voice low. “Watching somebody die.”

He lifted his arms behind his head, grabbing the headrest with both hands. “We all go someday, right?” How many times had Dane said that aloud—a million? And always with the unfortunate knowledge that while there are many ways to die, he’d seen one of the ugliest. First his mother, and now Finn.

“I guess so,” she said softly.

“Including your chickens?”

She laughed. “Don’t say that. They’ll probably be fine. I’m just mad at myself for driving out through the storm. I’ve tried to become a country girl, but it just never quite stuck.”

“So you’re not from around here either, like you accused me of a little while ago….”

She laughed again, and it was a musical sound. He decided he wanted to hear that laugh a few more times before the plow truck showed up. “No, before we moved here, I lived in Manhattan for seven years. I went to NYU, and then did most of a doctorate.”

“So…then you decided to move to the sticks and raise chickens?”

“Ugh. Do I have to tell this part?”

“No,” he said quickly. “Not if it’s painful.”

“It’s just painfully stupid,” she sighed. “I followed a guy here two years ago. He was very interested in the back-to-the-land movement. Unfortunately he was also very interested in a twenty-one-year-old folk singer. So now I own a hundred-year-old farmhouse on fifteen acres, which I cannot sell. I can’t get a decent job, and I can’t finish my graduate degree. I’m kind of stuck, and there’s nobody to blame.”

“Except for the asshole.”

“Except for him. But if I’d been smarter, it wouldn’t have happened. Now he’s in California. He’s gotten smarter, too, I think. She has a trust fund.”

“Christ,” he said. “I’m sorry.”

“Me too.”

A silence fell between them. “Excuse me for a minute, I’m going to check the tailpipe,” he said. He opened the door, which brought the dome light on again, and he got another look at Willow’s face. This time she smiled at him, and her big hazel eyes shone. God, she was pretty. In a perfect world he could run his fingers through that hair, taste those perfect lips. Hell, if he was going to dream big, in a perfect world he could go home to something like that every night.

But not this world. Never in this one. He shut the door.

The wind whipped his face as Dane walked to the back of the car. For a moment, he couldn’t see at all. The gust pushed on his chest so fiercely that he put a hand out, his fingers finding the Jeep’s frame. He followed it around to the back, where his taillights revealed that snow was drifting everywhere, accumulating in spite of the wind block he’d tried to make with the skis. He kicked as much snow away from the rear of the Jeep as he could. But it was falling incredibly fast. So much for the comfort of the heater.

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 27 November 2019  Posted by  Tagged with: ,  No Responses »
Nov 272019
 

Speakeasy (True North #5) by Sarina Bowen

Sometimes you fall for Mr. Right. And sometimes for Mr. Right Now…

MayDid you hear the one about the girl who walks into a bar and catches her live-in lover kissing someone else? No? You’re the only one in town who missed it.Luckily Alec is there to wrap me up in strong arms and carry me out the door before things get too ugly. And that’s not all Alec is good at. Our unexpected chemistry makes him the perfect rebound guy.

AlecI should know better than to hook up with my rival’s little sister, but the fiery look in May’s eyes really turns my crank. She needs cheering up, and I’m just the guy for the job.It’s not like I’ll fall in love. Not even after a string of scorching hot trysts, and the realization that we’re good at the same things: wild nights and familial disappointment. I don’t do love, never have, never will. So this is the perfect arrangement, for both of us. Nobody would approve, but nobody has to know…

For fans of: Melanie Harlow, Corinne Michaels, Penelope Ward, Vi Keeland, K. Bromberg, Sawyer Bennett, Penny Reid, Lex Martin, Kylie Scott, Helena Hunting, Lauren Blakely, Amy Daws, Lili Valentine, Sara Ney, Elle Kennedy.

Keywords: Vermont romance, friends to lovers, forbidden romance, craft beer, entrepreneurs, bartender, best friend’s little sister, big brother’s best friend, small town romance.

Excerpt Speakeasy (True North #5) by Sarina Bowen

Someone appears in my peripheral vision. I get half a glance at a lithe body and long hair as a woman appears and then just as quickly retreats.

Wait. Was that…?

I ease my way down the aisle, past the snowboard bags and ski duffels, and then I peer around the corner just in time to spot May Shipley exiting the store.

Several lengthy strides carry me right out the door after her. May has exquisite long legs, so she’s making good time escaping from me across the parking lot. I put two fingers in my mouth and make a cat-call whistle.

May halts midstride. Busted. She turns around and regards me with a sheepish smile.

God, just one smile from her and I feel better already. I raise a finger and beckon. Then I lean against the brick exterior of the shop and wait.

She lifts her chin and walks toward me.

“May Shipley,” I complain as she approaches. “Am I crazy or did you just leave the building to avoid me back there?”

She puts one hand over her pretty eyes and laughs. “Okay, you caught me. Don’t make me feel worse.”

“Do we have a problem, here?” I reach out and tag her hand, then pull her closer to me. We’re toe to toe, though several layers of winter clothing separate us. Still, my whole body hums at the memory of her riding me in my truck. Gawd. So hot. “I get that our lawyer party date got a little crazy.”

“You think?” she squeaks. “I’m so embarrassed.”

“Why? So we had a little spur-of-the-moment sex. You really enjoyed my spur for a moment.”

“Omigod, stop.” May throws her head back and laughs. Her eyes dance, and I’m wearing a giant smile and feeling much more like myself.

“Don’t be embarrassed. I had a lot of fun.” That’s an understatement. I can’t stop thinking about it. Spontaneous truck sex with a long-legged beauty moaning on my dick? That night has made my personal hall of fame.

“Okay. I’ll try.” But the color in her cheeks is unmistakable. It’s cute as fuck.

“Come here.” I pull her into a hug, and she feels terrific against my body. “Let’s not be weird.”

May lifts her face in surprise. “I said that same thing to a good friend once.”

“Did it work?” I whisper because we’re so close together.

“Nope. Still weird.” She grins.

I laugh. And then I kiss her. I don’t even know how it happens. One second I’m just appreciating her smile, and the next second I’m owning it with my mouth.

May lets out a surprised whimper before her mouth softens under mine. I take my time kissing her until her hands spread the two halves of my jacket, finding my chest, gripping my flannel shirt. I need to taste her, so I part her lips with my tongue.

Suddenly my shoulder blades hit the bricks as May presses me up against the wall.

No, ma’am. I’ve just spent five nights imagining a scenario where our next encounter plays out in reverse—with me in charge. So I spin her around and back her up against the wall instead. And for good measure I pin her questing hands in mine, just because I can.

She makes a hungry noise, and I feel it in my balls. And then I dive back into her kisses, one of my thighs between her long legs.

May fights me, if by fighting me you mean she presses her hips against mine and gives me a nice, dirty grind.

I never liked the Shipleys, but now I realize I was hanging out with the wrong ones.

We lose our minds for several amazing minutes until the door of the ski shop opens suddenly. I take a quick step backward to preserve what’s left of our dignity.

Not that it works. We’re both flushed and panting, and I look like I’m trying to conceal a ski pole in the crotch of my jeans.

The young woman exiting the shop gives us a quizzical look as she bleeps the locks on her car.

“Jesus,” May breathes as we blink at each other.

“I know.” Every part of me is horny now. It’s cold outside, but I’m hot everywhere. My clothes feel constricting. I want to drag May back into my truck and have my way with her again.

“What are we doing?”

“Well, babydoll, we’re dry-humping each other in a parking lot.”

“Alec!” She reaches up, clapping a hand over my mouth. “That was a rhetorical question.”

I nod to show her I understand. But then I stick out my tongue and lick her palm where it’s pressed to my lips.

“Omigod, stop.” She removes her hand and wipes it on my flannel.

“You don’t really want me to. Admit it.”

“No, really I do.” Her embarrassed smile comes back. It’s so fucking cute. “I don’t need to be arrested for indecent exposure.”

“Fair enough. But that’s why you’re going to come over tonight. Late. Like eleven.” I’m supposed to be tending bar until ten and then closing up early, because it’s Sunday night.

“Why?”

“Why do you think? So I can strip you down and lick you all over until you’re screaming my—”

May puts that hand over my mouth again. “Anyone could hear you.”

“Nah,” I say from under her hand. She removes it. “I have brick walls at home. It helps with sound control. So even when my headboard starts to bang while I’m fucking you—”

She tries to cover my mouth again, but this time I catch her hand in midair, because I’m a sex ninja. And I hold it in mine. “Just come over. I’ve been thinking about you all week. Once wasn’t enough.” I lift her palm to my mouth and kiss it tenderly.

“Apparently not.” Her cheeks pink up. “But I really can’t get involved with anyone right now.”

“Duh.” I actually roll my eyes. “I’m your rebound lay. Relationships aren’t my style, and I’m allergic to commitment. So we’ll have exactly the same expectations—some very athletic sex.”

Her lips part on an dreamy expression, but then she snaps them closed again.

“Don’t overthink it, counselor. The judge orders you to his chambers at ten.”

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 27 November 2019  Posted by  Tagged with: ,  No Responses »
Nov 262019
 

Bountiful (True North #4) by Sarina Bowen

No last names. No life stories. Those were the rules. Now a USA Today bestseller!

Once upon a time a cocky, copper-haired tourist sauntered into Zara’s bar. And even though she knew better, Zara indulged in a cure for the small-town blues. It was supposed to be an uncomplicated fling—a few sizzling weeks before he went back to his life, and she moved on.

Until an accidental pregnancy changed her life.

Two years later, she’s made peace with the notion that Dave From Brooklyn will never be found. Until one summer day when he walks into her coffee shop, leveling her with the same hot smile that always renders her defenseless.

Hockey star Dave Beringer has never forgotten the intense month he spent with prickly Zara. Their nights together were the first true intimacy he’d ever experienced. But the discovery of his child is the shock of a lifetime, and his ugly past puts relationships and family out of reach.

Or does it? Vermont’s countryside has a way of nurturing even tortured souls. The fields and the orchards—and hard won love—are Bountiful.

Excerpt Bountiful (True North #4) by Sarina Bowen

“Last call,” she said to me as she wiped down the bar. “Can I get you anything else?”

“Not unless you’ll let me buy you a drink. Seems like you might need to unwind after that last bit of bullshit.”

She gave me a wry smile. “You’re sweet to ask. But I can’t accept. Company policy.”

“Uh-huh.” I took out my wallet and put a fifty on the bar. “First of all, I’m not sweet.”

Her eyes widened a little when I said that. Now I had her attention.

“And secondly, company policy my ass. It’s you who calls the shots in this place. Nobody else but you. I can see why you need a handy excuse, though. If you couldn’t pull the ‘company policy’ out of your pocket sometimes, the men would be buying the sexy bartender drinks left and right all night long, I bet. You’d never get a moment’s peace.”

A smile stole across her features. “Yeah, sure. I have to keep a stick back here behind the bar just to beat back all the men.”

“You don’t need that stick, gorgeous, because you give ’em the evil eye and they run off, knowing they’re not man enough for you. But every guy who drinks in this bar has the secret, fervent wish that fortune would smile down on him just long enough for him to earn an hour of your undivided attention.”

Zara rolled her dark eyes, but a telltale blush splashed her cheekbones. “You know how to lay it on thick.”

“No need.” I shook my head. “Just telling you how it is. Now I think you should do a shot with me, and we’ll toast your unapproachability.”

She laughed, and her eyes lit up for the first time tonight. “You are smooth, mister. I’m almost tempted.”

“Almost? Damn.”

She smiled. “There aren’t any taxis out here in the woods, and I’ve been pouring your beers all night. If you do a shot with me, it won’t be safe to drive away from here. And it’s quitting time.”

“Well. Now that you mention it…” I reached across the bar and laid a hand very gently over her smooth one. Our gazes collided as I stroked my thumb across the back of her hand. “Driving after doing shots with you wouldn’t be such a great plan. I’d have to stick around for a couple hours until it wears off.”

Zara waited a beat before retrieving her hand from beneath mine. “I see.”

“Do you?” I put both elbows on the bar and leaned forward. She was trying to play it cool, but my not-so-subtle message was getting through. I saw the blush beginning to creep across those fine cheekbones. She and I had chemistry, damn it. We’d been eye-fucking each other all night. “Look. I think you had a stressful evening. And I’m really good at stress relief. Like, pro level.”

She braced both hands on the bar and smiled at me. “Are you always this forward?”

“Nope.” I shook my head. “Some women can’t handle the truth. But I’ve watched you run this place. You’re in charge of everything that happens inside these walls, and I’ll bet that gets old. I’m thinking you might like to hand over the reins once in a while. Let someone else take charge. Tonight that someone is gonna be me…”

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 26 November 2019  Posted by  Tagged with: ,  No Responses »
Nov 242019
 

Rookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers #1) by Sarina Bowen

The first novel in a sexy new series featuring the hockey players of the Brooklyn Bruisers and the women who win their hearts—from the USA Today bestselling author of the Ivy Years series.

In high school they were the perfect couple—until the day Georgia left Leo in the cold…

Hockey player Leo Trevi has spent the last six years trying to do two things: get over the girl who broke his heart, and succeed in the NHL. But on the first day he’s called up to the newly franchised Brooklyn Bruisers, Leo gets checked on both sides, first by the team’s coach—who has a long simmering grudge, and then by the Bruisers’ sexy, icy publicist—his former girlfriend Georgia Worthington.

Saying goodbye to Leo was one of the hardest things Georgia ever had to do—and saying hello again isn’t much easier. Georgia is determined to keep their relationship strictly professional, but when a press conference microphone catches Leo declaring his feelings for her, things get really personal, really fast….

Excerpt Rookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers #1) by Sarina Bowen

“Come right this way,” Georgia heard her coworker and roommate Becca say, the clomp of her Dr. Martens echoing through the grand old passageway. “Nate is excited to meet you.” Becca was the owner’s assistant, and Georgia lingered half a second to wave her down and offer her a donut, too.
But Becca didn’t happen to look in Georgia’s direction as she led a tall man down the corridor. Something about his gait snagged Georgia’s subconscious. So she took a second look.
And that’s when her heart took off like a manic bunny rabbit. Because she knew that man. She knew the chiseled shape of his masculine jaw, and the length of his coal-black eyelashes.
Oh my God.
Omigod, omigod, omigod.
“How was your flight?” Becca asked him, oblivious to the fact that Georgia was spying.
“Not too bad. I got in late last night.”
The sound of his voice fluttered right inside Georgia’s chest. It was the same smoky sweet timbre that used to whisper into her ear while they made love. She hadn’t let herself remember that sound in a long time.
Now it was giving her goosebumps. The good kind.
“Welcome to Brooklyn,” Becca said while Georgia trembled. “Are you familiar with the area?”
“Grew up about thirty miles from here,” he answered while chills broke out across her back.
Holding her breath, Georgia eased her office door further closed, until only a couple of inches remained. She could not be caught like this—freaked-out and speechless, hiding behind a door.
The movement caught Becca’s eye, though. Georgia saw her turn her head in her direction and then pick her out in the crack where the door was still open. Becca raised one eyebrow—the one with the barbell piercing in it.
All Georgia could do was close her eyes and pray that Becca wouldn’t call out a greeting.
There was a pause before Georgia heard Becca say, “Right this way, please.”
Quietly, Georgia stepped into her office and shut the door. After flipping on the light, she let her briefcase and pocketbook slide right to the floor. Only the folder that Nate had given her was still in her shaking hands. She flipped it open, her eyes searching for the new player’s name on the page.
But she didn’t even need the paperwork to confirm what her racing heart had already figured out. The newest player for the Brooklyn Bruisers was none other than Leonardo “Leo” Trevi, a six-foot-two, left-handed forward. Also known as her high school boyfriend, the boy she’d loved with all her heart until the day that she’d dumped him. And now he was here?
“Thanks, universe,” she whispered into the stillness of her office.

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 24 November 2019  Posted by  Tagged with: ,  No Responses »
Nov 232019
 

The Accidentals by Sarina Bowen

A YA novel from USA Today bestselling author Sarina Bowen.

Never ask a question unless you’re sure you want the truth.

I’ve been listening to my father sing for my whole life. I carry him in my pocket on my mp3 player. It’s just that we’ve never met face to face.

My mother would never tell me how I came to be, or why my rock star father and I have never met. I thought it was her only secret. I was wrong.

When she dies, he finally appears. Suddenly I have a first class ticket into my father’s exclusive world. A world I don’t want any part of – not at this cost.

Only three things keep me going: my a cappella singing group, a swoony blue-eyed boy named Jake, and the burning questions in my soul.

There’s a secret shame that comes from being an unwanted child. It drags me down, and puts distance between me and the boy I love.

My father is the only one alive who knows my history. I need the truth, even if it scares me.

Excerpt The Accidentals by Sarina Bowen

After the last course—chocolate mousse—the three of us go tripping back across the cold lawn in the dark, Aurora in the lead. I’m the tiniest bit tipsy and wearing heels. So naturally, I stumble on a frozen clod of snow and nearly fall. But Jake catches my hand to steady me. “Thanks,” I breathe.

Curiously, his warm fingers remain curled around mine until we reached the door of Habernacker.

I try not to feel ridiculously excited about it.

He lets go when we all reach the third floor. When Aurora opens the door, he follows us inside until we all collapse on the S.L.O., with me in the center.

“Oh! I forgot to steal my plate,” I realize.

“Me too.” Aurora sighs.

Jake reaches into his jacket and pulls out a plate.

“Well done, Mr. Jake!” Aurora laughs. “The party in the annex starts in fifteen minutes.” She heaves herself off the squishy couch. “I have time to redo my makeup.”

I watch her walk over to the stereo, where my phone is already ensconced, and turn on our Christmas playlist. Then she grabs her makeup bag off her desk and leaves the room.

When the door clicks shut, neither Jake nor I speak for a moment. The low chords of a Straight No Chaser song play through our little speakers.

Suddenly, it’s awkward. We’ve been circling each other for a while now—since the night he was trying to be nice and I wrecked it.

“You’re probably sick of a cappella by now,” I say, just to find something to talk about.

But Jake turns slowly toward me and says something unexpected. “Rachel, I need to ask you a question.”

My stomach does a little flip flop, and I turn to face those blue eyes I love so much. “What?” I whisper.

“Well…” He clears his throat. There is a very long pause, during which I hold my breath. “Will you come skiing some time?”

I exhale. “I guess so?” Another beat of silence passes. “That was your big question?” I ask, feeling like I’ve missed something.

His color deepens. “Well, no. I just…” His brow furrows, as if he’s trying to explain some point of astronomy. I love his look of concentration. I’ve missed it.

Jake’s blue eyes lock on mine, and I see how our own orbits might finally collide. This time, I will not send the moment winging back into space. Instead, I lean an almost imperceptible degree in his direction.

And that’s all it takes.

Reaching up, Jake cups his hand to the side of my face. I’m still processing the sweet touch of his fingers when he leans in farther, his lips brushing the sensitive corner of my mouth. His eyes are tentative, seeking permission. My heart thuds with expectation.
And then—finally—Jake kisses me for real. We come together the way a well-timed drummer kicks into the chorus of a song—swiftly, and without hesitation.

We broke apart a moment later, eyeing each other while I try not to smile. “Can I do that again?” he asks, his voice rough. “That was my real question.”

“Well, since you asked so nicely…”

Jake makes a low noise of approval, then draws me closer. I reach up for the back of his neck, my fingers grazing that golden patch of skin I’ve always wanted to touch. He kisses me again, his arm finding the velvet waist of my dress and encircling me.

My heart flutters, but not from fear. Warm lips tease mine gently apart. And when his tongue tangles with mine, I lose myself.

He tastes like champagne. Everything is wild and sweet, until the moment Aurora’s voice rings out. “Ay, caramba!”

I feel an unwelcome rush of cool air between us as Jake retreats.

“I did say I was going into the bathroom, right? And not on a trip to Fiji?”

Neither of us says a word; we only look sheepishly at Aurora.

“Just to be clear, now I’m ducking into the bedroom for my coat, which only takes a second.” She steps into the bedroom, and I hear the rustling of fabric. Then she peers dramatically around the door frame. “Good listening! Now I’m going to the party. Will I see you both there? Don’t answer that. We’ll speak later.”

Jake laughs. “Sorry, Aurora.”

“I’ve seen worse.” She departs, the door closing behind her.

And now I’m self-conscious. Rising, I decide to fiddle with the music playlist. “Do you want to go to the party?”

“I’ll go. But I’m not great at parties. It’s all shouting over the music, drinking warm beer out of a plastic cup.”

“Then let’s not.” My fingers shake as I adjust the volume. I go back over to the sofa and sit down.

“So.” He clears his throat. “Where are you going for break?” As he asks, he takes one of my hands in his, massaging my palm with his thumb.

His light touch is so distracting that I almost forget to answer. “Kansas City,” I manage. “To meet my grandfather for the very first time.”

“Um, what?” He squeezes my hand.

So I tell Jake the embarrassing highlights of my weird story—that I hadn’t met Frederick until this past summer.

“Wow. I’m sorry,” he says.

“Don’t be.”

“I guess I’m not that offended now that you wouldn’t introduce me. If the normal waiting period is seventeen years.”

My laugh begins with an unladylike snort. Ah, well. “With me it’s just all soap opera, all the time. Believe it or not, a year ago I was really a boring person.”

“I don’t see how.” He regards me with darting eyes. “You look beautiful tonight.”

“It’s Aurora’s dress,” I whisper.

But Jake doesn’t seem to care. He slips his arms around my waist. Scooting closer, he slides his lips from my forehead, down my nose and onto my mouth. And we begin again.

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 23 November 2019  Posted by  Tagged with: ,  No Responses »
Nov 222019
 

Pipe Dreams (Brooklyn Bruisers #3) by Sarina Bowen

A goalie has to trust his instincts, even when taking a shot to the heart…

Mike Beacon is a champion at defending the net, but off the ice, he’s not so lucky. A widower and a single father, he’s never forgotten Lauren Williams, the ex who gave him the best year of his life. When Lauren reappears in the Bruisers office during the playoffs, Beacon sees his chance to make things right.

Lauren hates that she’s forced to travel with the team she used to work for and the man who broke her heart. There’s still undeniable sexual tension running between her and Mike, but she won’t go down that road again. She’s focused on her plans for the future—she doesn’t need a man to make her dreams of motherhood come true.

Lauren plays her best defensive game, but she’s no match for the dark-eyed goalie. When the field of play moves to Florida, things heat up on the beach.

One of Mike’s biggest fans doesn’t approve—his teenage daughter. But a true competitor knows not to waste the perfect shot at love.

Excerpt Pipe Dreams (Brooklyn Bruisers #3) by Sarina Bowen

The conversation around him seemed to fade away while he watched her silk-clad body maneuver between two men in tuxes. His eyes weren’t fooling him, either. She was wearing the dress he’d bought her on the weekend he’d spent all day trying not to remember. But there it was—a column of silk the color of flower blossoms, clinging gently to the feminine shape of her body. It draped teasingly across the line of her bosom.

She’d worn it. Here, of all places. His throat constricted, and his chest got tight.

“Beak, your tongue is hanging out. Hey.” Patrick O’Doul snapped his fingers in front of Mike’s face. “You okay?”

“Not really.”

“What’s the matter?”

He shook his head like a waterlogged dog. “Seeing Lauren every day. It’s killing me. I feel like I’m watching a highlight reel of my own life.”

O’Doul put a big hand on his shoulder. “Dude, I’m sorry you miss her.”

He spent a moment being surprised that the captain wasn’t giving him shit for that kind of sentimental talk. But Doulie was a lucky man these days—in love with Ariana, and still in the honeymoon stage of the relationship where nothing is ever wrong. Lucky bastard.

Once you’d tasted the sweetness of it, you were never the same.

“You never hook up,” O’Doul pointed out. “Maybe there’s someone else here who will catch your eye?” He looked pointedly toward Connie who was now chatting up Silas. Maybe she really did have a thing for goalies.

Slowly, he shook his head. This roped-off section of the beach was crammed full of attractive, moneyed people who could pay five hundred bucks to chat with athletes and their billionaire team owners. The women were all tanned and dressed to kill.

“You’re right. I don’t hook up,” he told O’Doul. “I have a thirteen-year-old daughter who’s gotten very good at noticing everything I do. God forbid I spend the night with some chick who snaps a photo of me, or brags about it on Twitter. Try explaining that to my nosy teenager. If I take somebody to bed it has to be somebody I trust. It has to be worth it.” Unbidden, his eyes cycled back through the scene to find Lauren again.

“Well.” O’Doul chuckled. “I hear you. And I never really had much interest in the hookup scene, either. But then you need another hobby to burn off some of your energy. Shuffleboard, maybe. Or wakeboarding.”

“Let me ask you something.” He tore his gaze off his ex. “Let’s say you bought Ari a beautiful dress. The first time she wore it, the two of you had frantic sex in a hammock on a Florida beach.”

“There are hammocks on the beach?”

Mike cuffed Doulie’s shoulder. “There are. But focus, okay? So, three years later, Ari wears the dress again, at a party on a Florida beach. What do you think that means?”

O’Doul stroked his chin. “I think it means—let’s have sex again in a hammock on the beach.”

“Who’s having sex in a hammock?” Leo Trevi asked, stepping between them. “You and Beak? Does Ari know? And how big is this hammock?”

“You are such a comedian,” O’Doul grumbled while Leo laughed at his own joke.

“Are there really hammocks nearby?”

Mike sighed. “Yes, and you’re welcome.” He scanned the crowd again for Lauren. “It’s not over between us,” he said suddenly. If it was over, he wouldn’t still feel like this—as if just standing in the same zip code with Lauren had his body humming with newfound possibility.

“What’s not over?” Leo Trevi asked, sipping a fresh beer.

“Beak wants his girl back,” O’Doul explained. “But he’s facing some pretty steep odds.”

“I waited six years to get mine back,” Leo said.

Shit. “I don’t have six years. I don’t even have six weeks. Once the play-offs are over, she’ll be gone. You assholes better put some goals on the scoreboard in Tampa. I need to take this thing all the way to the Cup.”

“That’s the weirdest motivation I’ve heard for wanting to reach the finals,” Leo said. “But whatever works for you, man.” Laughing, O’Doul high-fived him. “Some people play for glory. Some want the money.” “But Beak plays for the puss . . . Hi, sweetheart!” Leo changed his tone in a hurry as Georgia sidled up to him.

“What inglorious conversation have I stumbled into?” Georgia asked, relieving Leo of his beer and taking a gulp. “With twice as many athletes present as usual, I’m sure the smack talk is flying. It better not be about me.”

“Never,” he said, kissing her jaw. “Dance with me?”

“Only if you share your drink. The line at the bar got long all of a sudden.” She took another sip.

“Of course.” Leo cupped her elbow in his hand, guiding her toward the dance floor. “Want to take a walk on the beach, later? I heard there were hammocks …”

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 22 November 2019  Posted by  Tagged with: , , , , , ,  No Responses »
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