Tag Archive | Contemporary romance

Hungry For Love by Maya Sacher

Hungry for Love Release

 
Title: Hungry For Love
Author: Maya Sacher
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Book Club Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Family Drama
Publication Date: March 1, 2018

 

book coverElizabeth, a dentist in her late thirties, doesn’t have it all. She is coping with her husband’s coma, her unresolved grief over her mother’s death, her mixed feelings toward her stepmother, dissatisfaction with her job.

Unexpectedly, she falls in love with a musical zoo curator from Australia. He is divorced, he has a dog and a tween daughter who doesn’t want Elizabeth around.

When her husband wakes up, Elizabeth’s life is thrown into chaos. The choice before her is unbearable because she doesn’t want to hurt anyone, yet she wants to do the right thing, whatever that is. The expectations of her family and her men don’t make it any easier. What should she do? Can she have her cookie and eat it too?

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Excerpt:

As they stepped onto the sidewalk, Aidan gripped her hand as if not to let it slip out. “I love you, Ellie. You know that, don’t you?”

How many times had she wished she could give up a second, a day, a year, half her life just to once more see Mother’s beautiful smile, feel her comforting embrace? But not now. Now she wouldn’t give up a single moment, even if that would bring back Mother. How could she give this up? This joy Aidan pulled to the surface so effortlessly. This energy which enveloped her as if it could lift her off the ground. Had she ever lived to the fullest? Was this how it felt? And all because of him? Those cutest of words?

She stopped to look at him. “I know.”

Aidan cupped her cheek and kissed her, all the while holding her hand. She couldn’t stop smiling, her teeth colliding with his, grazing his lips. She wished she could capture them in a photograph, one she could go back to when her memory failed her. But her mind would have to do. Her crazy happy mind.

 

Author Bio:

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Maya Sacher is a writer, a law school graduate, an activist, and the author of a short story collection, God’s Sins, and a novel, Horny Girl, both published in Croatia.

She travels on occasion, she watches a lot of movies, and she loves a good book, especially books that make her laugh and teach her new things.

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HeartBREAKER by Lila Felix

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Title: HeartBREAKER
Series: AnguiSH, #2
Author: Lila Felix
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: December 18th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

 
HeartBREAKERBreaker James is no longer the boy locked in a prison of his own making. He’s not afraid to leave his house, and he doesn’t need Ash twenty-four hours a day, just to function—just to breathe.

Hell, lately it feels like he might not need her much at all anymore.

He’s a heart breaker, pure and simple. Turns out love is easy when you’re secluded from the outside world. Maybe Ash is the one who is afraid now…afraid she’s done her job a little too well. Can she learn how to let Breaker love her, now that he doesn’t need her to be his crutch?

HeartBREAKER is the endearing companion story to Lila Felix’s best-selling AnguiSH novel. Fall in love with Breaker James all over again!

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Author Bio:

LilaLila Felix is full of antics and stories. She refused to go to Kindergarten after the teacher made her take a nap on the first day of school. She staged her first protest in middle school. She almost flunked out of her first semester at Pepperdine University because she was enthralled with their library and frequently was locked in. Now her husband and three children have to put up with her rebel nature in Louisiana where her days are filled with cypress trees, crawfish, and of course her books and writing. She writes about the ordinary people who fall extraordinarily in wild, true love.

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Heartbeat by Belinda Williams

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Title: Heartbeat
Series: Hollywood Hearts Book 3
Author: Belinda Williams @bwilliamsbooks
Genre: Contemporary Romance/ Romantic Suspense
Release Date: December 4, 2017
Cover Designer: BWrite

GOOD GIRLS DON’T KISS AND TELL. UNLESS THEY’RE CAUGHT IN THE ACT…

HeartbeatTwenty-one-year-old Chloe Kemp knows it’s not easy growing up in the celebrity spotlight. Unlike other child actors, Chloe’s determined to hold onto her squeaky clean reputation. So far that’s been easy because she really is as sweet and innocent as the media portrays.

Until a video of her in bed with the lead singer of a famous rock band is released online. Only nothing happened. Not that anyone will believe her…

Nor will anyone believe she was in bed with the wrong rock star. Chloe’s fallen for drummer, Gabriel da Silva, and she’s heartbroken she’s ruined her chances with him. Or is it possible he’s fallen for Chloe’s sweetness?

When Chloe is sent incriminating images, it becomes apparent someone is following her with the intention of ruining her reputation as well as her relationship with Gabe. If Chloe wants her career to survive, and a shot with Gabe, is it time she grows up and trusts her heart?
 

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Excerpt:

We lay back and I listened to the water lapping at the hull as we floated along. The yacht tipped as we were pulled down gently into the swell and the motion caused me to slide toward Gabe. As we bobbed up again I realized we were so close that all I had to do was reach out my pinky to stroke the back of his hand. I lay there paralyzed, my heart in my throat, while I willed myself to have the courage to reach out that fraction of an inch to touch him.

Then, in a movement so smooth it felt like it was the most natural thing in the world, Gabe twined his fingers through mine.


“Do you like it out here?” he asked.


I nodded, trying to ignore the way my fingers tingled and my hand throbbed from our contact. “I love the sense of freedom,” I managed.


“Tell me about it. All those hours I clocked up? Coming out here was like therapy when the band made it big.”


The yacht rolled over another large swell and shifted us so we were pressed together. “You don’t like the fame?” I asked casually, even though my arm against his made it feel like my whole body was on fire.


Gabe put his other hand behind his head and I did my best to avert my eyes when his T-shirt rode up and revealed a tanned, taut strip of his abdomen.


“Do you?”


His question caught me off guard. “Huh?”


His mouth quirked like he knew what I’d been thinking. “Do you like the fame?”


“I wouldn’t say I like it, but I’m used to it. You’re not, are you?”


“A bit more now. At first, being out here on this yacht was the only place I still felt like myself.”


“Gypsy Hour’s popularity happened quickly, didn’t it?”


“Not according to Levi and Johnnie. They were doing gigs and cutting singles for almost seven years before I met them.”


“Hang on. Weren’t you always in the band?”


“Nope. And I thought you were a fan.” He nudged me gently with his shoulder.

“Levi approached me one night when I was playing at a gig. Back then I was in a few different bands and played around LA regularly. He told me their drummer had just left. Something about a difference of opinions with Johnnie if you can imagine that.” His wry grin told me he could imagine exactly that. “Anyway, a few months later one of our singles made it big and I was officially in a famous rock band.”

“Wow. I had no idea it was like that for you.”


“Right place, right time.”


“It’s always like that with fame,” I told him. “Too often success comes down to that one lucky moment.”


Gabe propped himself up on his elbow but didn’t let go of my hand. Those beautiful gray eyes regarded me seriously. “You really believe that?”


“Absolutely.”


“But you’ve been working at acting since you were a kid.”


“Yes, I have, and I’ll keep working hard, but the thing I learned early on was luck plays a huge part. Mama’s connections got me started easier than most. It allowed me to pick up a few commercials when I was kid. What people didn’t see were the hundreds of auditions I went to for television pilots that I didn’t get. And the one I did get? I got the part on School Daze because the director had been on the crew for one of the commercials I’d done. Simple as that. I wasn’t necessarily more talented, cuter, or more professional. I was just lucky.”

“That doesn’t bother you?”

“No, why would it?”


“Because don’t you want it to be your hard work that got you there?”


I looked down at our hands and my pale skin against his tanned complexion. We were so different, in more than just our looks. Fame had always been part of my life but it was new to Gabe and I sensed in him an unease that I was only just beginning to understand.


“When Gypsy Hour made it big you didn’t feel like you deserved to be there, did you?” I asked him.


Gabe shrugged and cast his eyes to the horizon. “Maybe.”


“But you had been working hard—in other bands. If you hadn’t, Levi wouldn’t have seen you and approached you.”


He let out a deep sigh. “Yeah, that’s true, I guess.”


I took in his profile. He had a regal quality that I liked. Unlike Johnnie, who was all bravado, Gabe’s confidence was quiet, but maybe a little less self-assured than I had first thought.


“How old are you?” I asked.


My question seemed to break Gabe out of his reverie and he met my eyes. “Twenty-eight. Why?”


“And how long have you been drumming?”


“Since I was eleven.”


“So you’ve been playing drums for . . . ” I did the math in my head. “Seventeen years. I’d say that makes you very experienced.”


“More experienced than you.”


Oh boy. Those few words changed the tone of our easy conversation into something a whole lot less easy, and I swallowed.

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Other books in the Hollywood Hearts series:

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Heartbreaker

Book 2

 

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Meet The Author:

Belinda Williams authorBelinda Williams is a marketing communications specialist and copywriter who allowed an addiction to romance to get the better of her. Her other addictions include music and fast cars. Her writing hasn’t paid for a Lamborghini just yet, so she’ll have to settle for her son’s Hot Wheels collection and writing hot male leads with sports cars. Belinda lives in Sydney, Australia.

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Between You and Me by Jennifer Gracen

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Title: Between You and Me
Series: The Harrisons
Author: Jennifer Gracen
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: November 28, 2017
Publisher: Kensington Publishing/Penguin Random House
Format: Print & Digital

Jennifer Gracen is back with a brand new contemporary romance! In Between You and Me, a woman and her friend make an arrangement: he’ll be her sperm donor, if she pretends to be his girlfriend. But maybe they’re not just pretending…

Between You and MeAs the only daughter of the wealthy Harrison clan, Tess Harrison has everything—except the baby she longs for. With no husband in sight, she escapes to her family’s retreat in Aspen, Colorado, visions of sperm donors dancing in her head. Instead, she finds Logan Carter. When the ruggedly handsome manager of the Harrison ski house offers to be her baby daddy in exchange for her playing his girlfriend, Tess is breathless to begin the charade. After all, the brokenhearted heiress knows better than to fall in love . . .

She would be Logan’s dream girl, if his dark past had left him with any dreams. Now the brooding bachelor’s only hope is to satisfy his mother’s dying wish to see him happily paired off—and give lovely Tess the baby she longs for. But when he and Tess opt to make a baby the old- fashioned way, he’s fighting hard against the longing to hold on to the elusive Harrison beauty forever . . .

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Excerpt:

By the time Logan pulled up in front of Tess’s house, she was warm, full, tired, and happy. “I had a great time today.”

“I did too,” he said with a smile. “Thanks again for inviting me.”

“Any chance you’d like to do it again sometime soon?”she asked. “You’re a worthy ski partner, and I had fun with you.”

“Yeah, I’d like that,” he said. “But next time, I pay for my lift ticket.”

“Deal. Sometime next week?”

“Sure. Give me a call, we’ll work out a time.”

“Well, you have a job with a real schedule. Right now, I don’t. I’m free as a bird. So you give me a call.”

His eyes held hers as he said, “Okay. I’ll do that. You’re on. Got yourself a ski buddy.”

God, she wanted to kiss him. Sitting so close in the warmth of his truck, he smelled good and his eyes were intense and his mouth was inviting and she wanted to kiss him so bad. But this new friendship—all the things they’d revealed to each other that day—she didn’t want to cross any lines or mess it up. For now, she’d hold back.

But still couldn’t resist flirting a little bit. “So,” she said boldly. “Are you coming in to soak in my tub or what? The offer stands.”

His gaze turned hot, a full-out smolder that made her belly do a wobbly flip. “The offer is more tempting than you know.” His voice had dropped low and dead sexy, making her shiver. “But I think I’d better head home for tonight.”

They stared at each other for a moment, pure electricity crackling between them. She could feel her blood in her veins, racing now, hot and needing, as his eyes lowered to her mouth for a few seconds before lifting to meet her gaze again. “You sure?” she asked. Her heart thumped in heavy beats.

“Only so much temptation a man can take,” he murmured. “And you’re testing my limits as it is, Tess. You have to know that.”

“I didn’t know that.”

“Well . . .”

She leaned in, her face so close to his that she could feel his hot breath feather against her lips.

“Tess.” He whispered it as a protest, but his eyes gave him away. He wanted her too, she could see it all over his face.

She closed the distance between them, pressing her mouth to his. It was a brush of her lips against his, just the slightest touch. But his hand lifted to cup the back of her neck and hold her there. He took control of the kiss, gently but surely, slanting his mouth over hers to take more of what he wanted. Her mouth opened with a little sigh as their tongues met and swirled slowly. As they leaned into each other, his fingers threaded through her hair and his other hand came up, cradling her head in his hands as his mouth consumed hers.

Her senses reeled. His full beard tickled her face, surprisingly soft against her skin. The feel of his mouth on hers, his hands in her hair, his big, warm body so close . . .her head swam with it all. He deepened the kiss and groaned softly into her mouth, and she was lost. She surrendered willingly, kissing him back with the same slow, sensual pace he’d set, her fingers clutched in his ski jacket. She could have kissed him for days.

He broke away slowly, leaning his forehead against hers, eyes still closed. “Jesus,” he whispered. When his eyes opened to focus on her, they were heavy lidded with lust. “You . . . you better go inside now.”

Still catching her breath, she touched his cheek. “You sure you don’t want to come in?”

“I do want to,” he said, his voice thick. “Too much. So I’m not going to.”

She pulled back, trying to hide her disappointment. “Okay.”

“Tess . . .” He stared at her, his mouth opening and closing as he fought with what he wanted to say. “You’re an amazing woman. I like that we’re . . . kind of friends now. Let’s try to stick with that for now, okay?”

The disappointment sharpened in her gut, but she pasted on a smile. “Fine.”

“Ah crap. No, no, don’t say fine,” Logan demanded gently. “When a woman says fine, it’s never fine. Even a loner lumberjack like me knows that.”

She couldn’t help but giggle.

“Tess, you’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen,” he said earnestly. “Don’t think for a second that I wouldn’t love to go inside with you right now, because I would. But you have an agenda, you’re gearing up to go through some medical . . . stuff . . . and I don’t want to get in the way of that.”

She gaped at him in shock. “I . . . I don’t know what one thing has to do with the other.”

“You have big plans,” he murmured, trailing the backs of his fingers along her cheek, eyes locked with hers. “I’d be a distraction. You said it yourself, you don’t want any distractions right now.” His gaze turned wicked and hot as he added, “I promise you, it’d be a fantastic distraction. A sexy, fun, passionate distraction . . . but this friendship we’ve started? Means more.”

“We’re attracted to each other,” she said flatly.

“Can’t deny that.” He touched his mouth to hers again, a light brush of his lips, and her whole body shuddered. “But I shouldn’t go inside with you. Not tonight.”

Her nerves jangled, every nerve ending alight and aware of him. Her heart beat hard and fast as she nuzzled into his palm, stared right into his eyes, and whispered, “If you insist.”

“I do,” he said, not breaking their gaze. “C’mon, you know I’m right. Last thing you need right now is us starting something up like this. Didn’t you tell me your first doctor
appointment is tomorrow?”

She didn’t like it, and wasn’t sure she fully agreed with it, but had to admit she’d thought along those lines herself before his kisses had turned her brain to mush and her insides to jelly. With a heavy sigh, she nodded and pulled back from him. “Pretty early, in fact. I should go inside and get into bed.”

Logan growled, his head falling back against the leather seat. “Had to put an image like that in my head right before you leave. You, climbing into bed . . . not nice, Tess. Not nice.”

She laughed lightly, and he grinned back at her. Their eyes held for a long beat and she took a slow, deep breath, exhaling it before she said, “Good night, Logan. Thanks again for a great day.”

“Back at you,” he said. “Good night, Tess. Sleep well. Good luck tomorrow.”

With a sweet smile, she climbed out of his truck and into the cold night.

Copyright © Jennifer Gracen 2017

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About Jennifer Gracen:

Jennifer Gracen

Jennifer Gracen hails from Long Island, New York, where she lives with her two sons. After spending her youth writing in private and singing in public, she now only sings in her car and is immersed in her passion for writing. She loves to write contemporary romance for readers who look for authentic characters and satisfying endings. When she isn’t with her kids, doing freelance proofreading, or chatting on Twitter and Facebook, Jennifer writes. She’s already hard at work on her next book.

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The Sweetheart Mystery by Cheryl Ann Smith

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Title:
The Sweetheart Mystery
Series: Brash & Brazen #4
Author: Cheryl Ann Smith
Genre: Contemporary Romance

 

THE SWEETHEART MYSTERY by Cheryl Ann Smith_400x600Harper Jane Evans is so over pro cheerleading but she’s not quite ready for prison. Good thing she’s got a badass ex-boyfriend ready to go to bat for her . . .

Sure, Harper made a few unsavory threats against her team’s manager—she’d had a few drinks and she despised the skimpy uniform he expected her to wear. That didn’t mean she wanted him dead. But when the sleazy dude is found murdered in his tighty whiteys, Harper is the number one suspect—and former FBI agent Noah Slade is the one man who can help. Too bad she once told Noah she never wanted to see him again . . .

Noah may have done a number on Harper’s heart all those years ago, but he’s determined to do right by her now. Yet the fiery beauty isn’t the only demon from his past, which makes hunting down a murderer by her side . . . complicated—never mind the powerful attraction still pulsing between them. Good thing he’s willing to do just about anything to keep from losing Harper again. And an old love just might bring her a new career—assuming she can stay out of jail . . .

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Excerpt:

      Harper dug through her closet and pulled out a little red dress that she’d been saving for a special occasion. A charity event with Noah was the perfect place to dust it off. Small crystals edged the hem and bodice, giving the dress sparkle and she needed sparkle. After his comment in the car, she wanted to knock Noah’s feet out from under him.
      Since his confession, she’d been feeling warm and fuzzy. Despite locking down her heart with a chain Noah couldn’t break, she just couldn’t completely shake him off.
      Yes, she agreed to sex, no frills, all fun, sex. But she couldn’t quite fully give him her trust.
      What if they dated, got married, and had kids? Then something crappy happened. Would Noah run for refuge with another woman? He had before. Could she take that risk?
      Equal parts of her were worried, and ready, to take the next step. She so wanted to test his lovemaking skills.
      With the tide turning away from her as his best suspect, Mignon was unlikely to interrupt her and Noah again. By the end of the evening, she hoped to be knee deep in the sheets with a warm and naked Noah.
      After showering and flat ironing her hair for a different look, she put on makeup and a barely-there red bra and matching tiny panties. Next, she slipped into the dress and loved the feel of the satin against her bare skin.
      Shoes with sparkles on the straps completed the picture. She’d just found her dress clutch when Noah arrived. She’d left the door unlocked. “You ready?” he called out.
      Taking a deep breath with her hand on her chest, she walked into the living room on high heels.
      Noah went still. “Wow.”
      Dressed in a tux with a white shirt and bowtie, he was heart-stoppingly handsome. Not only had he shaved, but he’d had his hair trimmed. “Yeah, wow back.”
      She joined him. He took her hand and kissed the inside of her wrist, sending tingles up her arm. Up close, he smelled spicy and male. If not for the chance to speak to Betty Anne, and having spent too much time on her hair, she would’ve chucked their plans and taken him right to the bedroom.
      Noah offered her his arm. “Is it appropriate to be very aroused right now?”
      Laughing, she linked her arm through his. “I hear you.” She steered him to the door before she lost her resolve to behave. Going with an attempted baseball analogy, she said, “You’re pitching pheromones that I’m catching.”

 

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About the Author:

CherylNational bestselling author Cheryl Ann Smith became hooked on romance at age fourteen when she stayed up all night to read The Flame and The Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss. Her own writing journey happened much later, when one afternoon she ran out of books and decided to write her own. Previously, she has published five sexy Regency novels and one novella with Berkley in her School for Brides series.

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Dream On by Stacey Keith

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Title: Dream On
Author: Stacey Keith
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Deep in the heart of Texas is a small town where secret wishes have a funny way of coming true . . .

DREAM ON Cover_400x600With a nine-year-old daughter, an overdue light bill, and a job slinging burgers while zooming around on roller skates, Cassidy Roby is not living the glamorous life. But Cuervo, Texas, has its charms: quiet streets, loving family, and the down-home familiarity of knowing which of your neighbors are mean as snakes. With Cassidy’s reputation, she knows what will happen if she steps a foot out of line. But how can she help it now that Mason Hannigan’s back in town?

As Cuervo’s high school quarterback ten years ago, Mason was all rock-hard abs and yes-ma’am manners. Now that he’s living the glitz and glory of the NFL, he’s all that plus a couple million bucks. The desire blazing between them is too hot to hide. Cassidy has some experience getting her heart broken by the hometown hero—and having the whole world watch her try to pick up the pieces. Will adding fame, fortune, and paparazzi be a playbook for disaster—or lead to the biggest adventure of her life?

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Excerpt:

With the flush that came from remembered embarrassment, Cassidy re-lived the numb despair she felt walking the halls of her high school, the times she had to jump up from her desk and run to the restroom because of morning sickness. By her eighth month, she couldn’t fit behind a school desk at all. Her teachers had to make space for her wherever they could. How she survived that year still mystified her. It felt as though every mistake she made, every humiliating misstep, was up for discussion at a town hall meeting she never got invited to.

But there were moments of grace. Friends like Beth and Darlene and Jessica Coleman who made her laugh; neighbors who brought onesies and burp clothes and Diaper Genies to her baby shower. And there was Lexie herself, in no hurry to be born, arriving at 4:14 in the morning. The second Cassidy held her, a tender, painful love came rushing up. She knew that her carefree days were over, perhaps for good. They’d been replaced by this single-minded devotion that made her want to be a better woman for her daughter, to finish school no matter what the cost. 

 

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About the Author:
StaceyStacey Keith is the award-winning author of the Dreams Come True series (Kensington Books), DREAM ON, SWEET DREAMS and DREAM LOVER, in addition to A WEDDING ON BLUEBIRD WAY with New York Times Bestseller authors Janet Dailey, Lori Wilde and the talented Allyson Charles.

Twice a Golden Heart finalist, Stacey has won a Maggie, two Silver Quills, a Jasmine, a Heart of the Rockies, and over fifteen other first-place finishes in Romance Writers of America contests.

An avid writer of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and short stories, Stacey doesn’t own a television, but reads compulsively—and would, in fact, go stark raving bonkers without books, which are crammed into all corners of the house. She now lives in Civita Castellana, a  medieval village in Italy that sits atop a cliff, and spends her days writing in a nearby abandoned 12th century church.

The two things she is most proud of are her ability to cook pasta alla genovese without burning down the kitchen and swearing volubly in Italian with all the appropriate hand gestures.

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Guest Post by Stacey Keith:

Why I Moved to Italy (And Never Looked Back)

When people find out I sold my car, quit my job, packed all my earthly possessions into two suitcases and moved to Italy, they tend to have questions. So I thought it might be nice to give a brief overview of the pros and cons of living here.

FAIR WARNING: I’m crazy about this country, so expect absurd amounts of gushing.
Let’s start with the cons:

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1. Things don’t always work in Italy the way they should. The ATM at the bank, for instance. It’s down a lot, especially when I’m really strapped for cash and in need of an emergency cappuccino. They say the wifi connection is slow, but I have my suspicions. In Italy, the afternoon pausa pranzo, or break, is observed with near-religious reverence, and if that means a bank employee can’t be bothered to reset a modem because he has to walk back to the house for a coffee, a cigarette, a home-cooked meal and a nap, you’re out of luck.

2. Every other day here is a national holiday, which means all the stores are closed. Stores are also closed daily for that pesky pausa pranzo, 1pm to 4pm, and on Thursdays for no reason other than they want to. You never know for sure when a store might be open, but for Italians, it’s fun to keep the foreigners guessing.

3. Italian pop music is ghastly. And Italian pop is all that’s played on Radio Subasio—and Radio Subasio is all that’s played in every coffee bar in or around Rome. Italians LOVE a power ballad, which is always wildly over-emoted, features the same three chord progressions, and is usually sung by some shockingly old pop singer from the early part of the last century.

4. Noise. Italians celebrate it. Marching bands, squalling babies, blasting car horns, blaring televisions (especially soccer matches)—but in Italian, even normal conversations sound like yelling. This serves to remind me of what a sadly repressed person I am, which is why I’ve learned to yell along with the rest of them and to swear volubly in Italian. It’s pretty impressive, to tell you the truth. I can teach you.

5. Italians don’t do good junk food. Most potato chips taste as though some clueless but well-intentioned individual took wood pulp, salted it, and then stuffed it in a bag covered in bad English. Crik Crok, for instance. Famous Italian potato chip company. Their national slogan? “Snack is fun”. It’s on everything, including their display cases. No one could be bothered to see if the English was right or not. Because #Italy.

Pros:

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1. It’s so beautiful here, you are tempted to remove your eyeballs, polish them on your T-shirt, and then pop them back inside your skull just to make sure you’re seeing things correctly. Twenty or thirty lesser countries were sacrificed in order to make just one Italy. Whether it’s the ancient artifacts, the old churches, the priceless paintings, the ramshackle farms, the clear-water beaches or the quaint seaside villages, you are never the same after you set foot on Italian soil.

2. The Italians are so patient with my attempts to speak the language. I can understand Italian, but I’m not a fluent speaker yet. Unlike the French ***COUGH*** your average Italian is kind and helpful even when you’re blithely mangling the tongue of Dante. Writing in English all day definitely hampers my efforts. But to be fair, Italian is a bitch to learn. Think: Times Square meets the Spanish Inquisition. It’s both a beautiful and expressive language, one that requires many florid-sounding syllables strung together in a way that promotes the use of hand gestures, which are needed to speed things along.

3. The food. In Italy, oranges taste like oranges. Grapes taste like grapes. The difference between what food tastes like here versus what it tastes like in the States is shocking. When I go back to Texas, I always smuggle a little fruit in my purse—and LIE ABOUT IT ON MY CUSTOMS FORM because hell, yeah, I’m that kind of badass—and give the fruit to people who’ve forgotten what fruit is supposed to taste like. Their reaction is always the same: “Holy crap, is that fruit? It’s DELICIOUS!”

4. Italy holds constant reminders that you are going to die one day, and that’s because you are rubbing shoulders with history every second that you’re here. When you gaze upon an ancient aqueduct that has existed for over a thousand years and has been seen by millions of people who are all dead now, you tend to value what time you have left. This death thing is why Italians are not only fatalistic, but seek constant religious and sexual confirmation with people who are not necessarily their spouses, just to remind themselves that they, at least for now, are alive.

5. There are hardly any chain stores in Italy, which really struck me (coming from strip-mall Texas). What you will find are a gazillion tiny coffee bars run by families. And the coffee in most of them, as you can imagine, is divine. The Italian middle class is still kicking here, thanks in large part to the compulsive thrift and mattress-stuffing money management of Grandma and Grandpa. Houses are multi-generational and it is customary for children to live in them until … well, forever, actually. A forty-year-old man who lives with his mamma is not considered too hopelessly dorky to date. Mamma still cooks for him and does his laundry. Family is both the strength and the curse of Italy. If you find yourself in a bit of an Italian pickle, family is there to bail you out. If you find yourself in trouble with the Mob … well, that’s another kind of family.

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I love this life. I love the church bells. As I sit here writing this in my little she-shed on top of the terrace, those bells are ringing now. I love the stuff that makes no sense to a non-Italian. I love the idiosyncrasies and even the dysfunctions. Italy is one of the most important love affairs of my life, and I am so happy to be able to share it with you.

Viva Italia!

 

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Wicked Dance by Olivia Boothe

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Title: Wicked Dance
Author: Olivia Boothe
Series: Chronicles of a Dancing Heart Book 1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Publication Date: October 27, 2017

She never imagined her heart could ever dance again

perf5.000x8.000.inddFormer dance student Sara Hart had aspired to grace the stage on Broadway, but a reckless decision forced her to renounce that dream. Years later, while struggling with an ungratifying job and an even more unsatisfying love life, she literally stumbles upon a dangerously sexy stranger who sends her heart—and her body—into hyperdrive. His touch makes her feel alive again and sparks a desire to rebuild her dance career. But Sara is still haunted by the demons of her past. One dark lie could cost her everything.

He’d stopped believing in love …

Real estate mogul Tom Wright caters to the rich and famous. He lives the life of the perfect bachelor—partying hard and dating the most beautiful women in Manhattan. But he has one golden rule–no commitments. Ever. Then he meets sexy Sara Hart, and something about her makes him want to throw the damn rule book out the window. Every time she’s near, the blood in his veins pulses with a raging fire he can’t contain. But Tom’s shadowed history is resurfacing, unearthing ghosts he’d rather remain buried.

Will this wicked dance be their last?

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Excerpt:

      Seemed all I knew was how to screw things up.

       I looked down at my crossed arms for a brief second then gazed up at him, trying to find the courage I needed, the strength he’d always been able to give me. All I saw reflected in his eyes was anger bathed in sadness and soaked in disappointment. My heart fractured. His anger I could bear—I deserved every ounce of it—but to see him slowly blink away the moisture in his eyes made my universe crumble. I’d broken our trust, the one thing he’d lost in women and only recently been able to restore. I felt his pain and was no longer able to hold back the tears beginning to trickle down my face. “Baby, I can explain—”

       “Explain what?” He dropped his arms and placed his hands on his hips, his face taut with frustration. “There’s nothing that can justify why you’ve been lying to me or why I found you here. Alone. With Alexei.”

       My spine tightened. This wasn’t how I’d wanted to tell him about my past, and certainly not how I rehearsed it. I needed to salvage the situation, but his harsh attitude and the disapproval in his eyes unraveled me. “Tom, I was going to tell you when you got back.”

       He paced. “That’s not the point, Sara. You should have never lied in the first place. Baby, there was never a need for you to lie to me about this. It doesn’t make sense.” He paused, confusion dimming the glow that always sparkled in his eyes. He looked away as if trying to conceal his thoughts. “Unless…”

       “Unless what?” I demanded, not sure where he was going with the statement, but tasting the sourness of his words.

       He was silent for a long moment before he replied, weariness enveloping his voice. “Unless you didn’t want me to know about Alexei,” he uttered as he looked back at me, his poignant stare cutting through my core.

       I shook my head in disbelief. This is where he was taking this? He couldn’t have been farther from the truth, and the insinuation I could stoop so low made the ice in my blood evaporate before it turned to liquid. “How dare you accuse me of such a thing? Maybe if you’d called me to tell me you were coming home we might have been able to have this conversation earlier and none of this would have happened.”

       “I did call!” he yelled, his tone nearing fury. “Perhaps if you bothered to answer the phone, you might have known I was actually worried about you. But, you were too busy prancing around twirled up in Alexei’s arms.”

       My eyes bulged as steam blew out of my ears. “You’re gonna pull the jealous boyfriend on me?”

       He stopped pacing and stared at me hard. “Jealous boyfriend? You keep trying to make this about me instead of calling it for what it really is.”

       I walked up to him and stood inches from his chest, my gaze sharp as razor blades. “Oh yeah, and what exactly is that?”

       He sucked in a deep breath as his nostrils flared, pressing his lips into a tight line. “I’m ending this conversation before either one of us says anything else we’ll regret.” He turned to leave, but I grabbed his arm.

       “You don’t get to say when this conversation is over. You can’t leave,” I ordered.

       “Watch me.” He yanked his arm back.

       “Not until you tell me why you came here.”

       He stalked back toward me and pinned me with an unflinching stare. “I came to make sure you were okay. You’re alive and kicking. I can go.”

       “Why wouldn’t I be okay?”

       “Listen to your messages.”

       “Tom, please. You have to let me explain.”

       He looked back, his eyes liquid fire. “Where’s the girl I had in my arms a few days ago? Because it sure as hell isn’t the person standing in front of me now. I…I can’t believe I was so wrong.” He shook his head in disbelief as he continued to walk toward the back door.

       “What are you talking about, Tom?”

       He stopped for a second, his back still to me. “Sara, it’s obvious you didn’t want me to know about this.” He opened his arms wide, showing me he meant the studio. “After everything we’ve talked about and shared, I don’t know why you would lie to me about it. Finding you so intimately close with Alexei…I mean, all the stuff you’ve said about him. I don’t get it. And to tell you the truth, I no longer care.” He kept walking.

       “Where are you going?” I ran toward him, fear crawling up my skin. As I caught up to him, he stopped to look at me one last time.

       “Sara, I don’t want to do this. I don’t have time for nonsense in my life. I know I told you I’d wait until you were ready, but finding out like this…”

       “You weren’t supposed to find out like this. Just give me a chance to explain. Please.”

       “Sara, stop,” his voice quavered as he held back the pain he was clearly trying to cover up with anger. “I’m done. It’s over. It’s not even that you lied, it’s all this other stuff. Plus, accusing me of being the jealous boyfriend when I was simply worried about you? It’s what you think of me I can’t handle.”

       Something inside me cracked. It was like watching your most precious porcelain treasure slip from your hands and fall to the ground, shattering into a million pieces. There’s this moment of awe, disbelief. Then this feeling of helplessness settles in when you know there’s no way of putting it back together, and even if there was a way, the porcelain would be full of nicks and craters. Never perfect. Never whole.

       What have I done?

       “Tom…”

       “Save it. Don’t bother calling.” He walked out.

       I could have followed after him, but I had no right. My body was numb. A meteor had collided with my world, obliterating me from existence.

       I’d been exposed for what I was.

       A hypocrite.

       A shameful liar.

       I was a foolish girl standing alone in the place where I had sought redemption, but where all that now remained was humiliation and self-reproach.

       And too many regrets.

 

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1) $25 Amazon Gift Card
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October 20 – November 25, 2017

 
Author Bio:

olivia-bootheAuthor of deep and sexy contemporary romance, Olivia Boothe enjoys crafting novels about complex characters and compelling storylines. Her romances encompass a blend of heartfelt emotion and steamy passion.

Coffee addict and red wine lover, when she’s not busy conjuring up a new story, Olivia likes to binge read across genres. You’ll typically find her with one book on her e-reader, a second on her phone, and a print book in her oversized handbag.

Olivia resides in Northern New Jersey with her husband, their three boys, and a miniature dachshund.

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