Wednesday, February 22, 2017

NetGalley REVIEW - Virtual Tour - To Covet a Lady’s Heart (Landon Sisters, #2) by Ingrid Hahn

To Covet a Lady’s Heart

Landon Sisters, #2
by Ingrid Hahn
Releasing February 20th 2017
Entangled Scandalous
One good blackmail deserves another.

From The Book Junkie Reads . . . To Covet a Lady’s Heart (Landon Sisters, #2) . . .

Max needs a wife to get what he wants. Lady Phoebe wants something also. They both go about getting what they want and giving more than they intended by blackmailing the other. I was a bit apprehensive to start. Blackmailing each other was not knew it was just he reasons for doing so. Max was suppose to show that he has matured and become responsible. Blackmail was not the way to go but he did get the Lady and the child. I enjoyed the banter and the tit-for-tat. An enjoyable historical read that give a bit more than the everyday. This Landon sister knew her worth and didn’t settle for less.

Landon Sisters series:
To Win a Lady’s Heart – Landon Sisters, #1
To Covet a Lady’s Heart – Landon Sisters, #2

Blurb
After a lifetime of rakish behavior, Lord Maxfeld must pretend he’s reformed and find a fake wife. And, with the perfect blend of family scandal and tenuous acceptance in Society, there is nobody more suitable than Lady Phoebe. Trouble is, Phoebe will not agree to a false engagement, forcing Max to blackmail her into his scheme.

Phoebe will go to great lengths to avoid anything remotely dishonorable. Unwilling to bear the scandal of a broken engagement, she blackmails Max right back—directly to the altar.

Once married, though, Phoebe wants much more than Max’s ring. She wants his heart. But he will never give it. For better or worse may just be words but Phoebe cannot stay with Max if he thinks love is the worst thing that can happen.
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Phoebe was still becoming accustomed to this mad whirl of parties and finery that was her life. Her sister’s wealthy husband afforded them a number of previously unthinkable luxuries beyond beautiful gowns. Like use of his London house for the Season…and all the trappings deemed necessary therein.
Privately, Phoebe suspected her new brother to be willing to pay any price to pry them out of his estate, Corbeau Park. Anything to buy time alone with his new bride. Who could blame him?
Lady Bennington gripped her arm, making no effort to speak over the noise. “Don’t look to your left, my dear.”
“Why ever not?” Phoebe strained to see anything she could in her peripheral vision, but there was nothing but scads upon scads of people.
“You don’t want to work to catch any man’s attention. Even his.” She paused. “Especially his.”
At that moment, regret hooked itself into Phoebe’s heart. She wasn’t up to making herself pleasant to men, not when she was so undecided what she wanted her ultimate fate to be.
She should have feigned illness tonight. She could be home by the fire in her chamber, feet curled under her. Her nose would be stuck so far into some lurid and entirely inappropriate novel, she’d not be able to set it free again until dawn. And she knew just from where she’d pilfer such a book, too. Her mother’s bedside table.
Then again, it would have been a shame not to come tonight, for she did like her gown. But there would be other nights, other balls, other chances.
“Who’s ‘him’?” Phoebe wasn’t desperate for anyone to join them, but she couldn’t say so where there was a chance at being easily overheard.
“Oh!” Clutching a fist against her breast, her mother’s eyes went big. “He’s coming this way.”
“Mama, you tell me not to look, and yet you make a spectacle of yourself.”
“No.” Her mother’s voice flattened. “No, he’s not coming here. He’s turned away. He’s—oh! He’s coming back this way, after all.”
“It’s impossible to tell whether you want him to come or to stay away.”
“Truth be told…” Her mother frowned, seeming to think the better of whatever the truth might have been. “Never mind, he’s still the son of my dear friend, and we shall treat him accordingly.”
Phoebe turned just in time to catch the eye of the man in question and prickled in that horrid way she did when she was aware he was close.
“Oh no. Not him.” Lord Maxfeld? Here? Tonight? Of all the ballrooms in all of London, why did he have to be in this one?
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Q&A with Ingrid Hahn
Q: Name one thing you won’t leave home without.
Definitely my head. Thankfully, I’m not a screw top, so I can always remember it. Everything else is fair game.

Q: If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?
I can’t decide between two choices. Either Cleopatra right after she met Mark Antony, but I won’t tell you why. Or some chick inside a perfume commercial. You get to be gorgeous, perfectly made up, and there is usually a not-too-hard-on-the-eyes guy around. (That goes for perfume lady—Cleopatra wasn’t the gorgeous siren she’s depicted as being in popular myth.) The perfume lady has the bonus of either getting to wear a big fancy dress or lazing around a private beach.

Q: What types of scenes are your most favorite to write?
The naughty ones.

Q: Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
I put a tiny, tiny bit of myself into each heroine in a superfluous way. My first heroine, Grace, loved chocolate and has less-than-perfect hair (far less, I’m afraid). My second, Phoebe, is a big reader and loves tea. My third, Eliza—her book is coming in June—hates cherries. However, unlike Eliza, I came by my dislike honestly. I just plain don’t like them. I won’t spoil it for you, but Eliza came by her dislike by way of an abhorrent association. 

Q: Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Let go of your ego, never stop learning, work hard to nail good conflict, learn to encapsulate your entire story in one pithy statement that makes strangers’ eyes bulge and beg you to write the book immediately (I’m still working on this one!). Don’t self-publish too early. Give yourself permission to turn into a seething green jealousy monster even for writer friends you love dearly when they achieve something you covet, but cap your time in The Great and Terrible Land of Envy to about ten or twenty minutes, then go back to being happy for them and focusing your energy on your own work.


Author Info
Ingrid Hahn is a failed administrative assistant with a B.A. in Art History. Her love of reading has turned her mortgage payment into a book storage fee, which makes her the friend who you never want to ask you for help moving. Though originally from Seattle, she now lives in the metropolitan DC area with her ship-nerd husband, small son, and four opinionated cats. When she’s not reading or writing, she loves knitting, theater, nature walks, travel, history, and is a hopelessly devoted fan of Jane Austen. She loves to connect with her readers
Author Links: 
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Monday, February 20, 2017

NetGalley REVIEW - Virtual Tour - To the Studs (Bound by Design, #1) by Roxanne Smith

To the Studs
Bound by Design, #1
by Roxanne Smith
Releasing February 21st 2017 
Lyrical Shine

From The Book Junkie Reads . . . To the Studs (Bound by Design, #1) . . .

For me the fun, mystery, excitement all began at the cabin. Cool, interesting, and intriguing characters. Neve was the “I got this.” Kind of woman. She was working in a world that she was for the most part looked down on. She had to work harder and smarter to get ahead and work just that much hard to stay ahead. She was strong and bitch. She had a bite that was not pleasant but understandable. She had very little give. She stood her ground.
 
Duke was the hot guy next door. I cannot pinpoint just a few specifics about him. He was headstrong to be sure but he knew who he was and his purpose. He did however have issues with figuring out Neve. This was the intrigue for him.

I found supporting characters that I would just love to know more about and will be following this series. To see where it all goes from here.

BlurbNo one says no to fiery but talented home designer Neve Harper—which is how she convinces her elusive neighbor, Duke Kennicot, to help out with her latest renovation job. Not only is Duke a design aficionado, he’s got the inside scoop on the cabin’s owner. And since Neve’s ulterior motive is a romance with the boss, Duke is her ideal wingman. Except from the moment they’re alone in the remote Ozark mountain location, Neve discovers Duke is just as headstrong—and a whole lot sexier—than she ever realized. Duke has always made it clear she’s not his type. Yet the simmering tension between them says otherwise….

Duke had been warned to steer clear of hot-tempered Neve, but his resolve is lessening with every heated exchange—and every smoldering touch. By the time Neve unearths a dangerous, age-old mystery buried on the property, Duke is ready to do just about anything to keep the brazen beauty safe…. 
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Duke waited until Angel Face shuffled into the elevator before rapping his knuckles across Neve’s door. He avoided men around Neve at all costs. Being gay was harder than he’d thought it would be. Was Angel Face superhot? Should he make a smutty comment or smile coyly at his butt as he walked past?
I need gay lessons. Hell of a thing to come to terms with, especially after two years of pulling it off.
Pajama-clad and curled into a ball on her ultrachic sofa, a beige monstrosity set square in the center of the high-ceilinged room atop a thick white rug, Neve didn’t pause in shoving yogurt-covered pretzels down her gullet to bother with a greeting. The scenery didn’t differ—sofa, pajamas, snacks, bad television—but she seemed more subdued than usual.
He sat next to her and snatched the remote from the coffee table. “Just because you renovate and design for a living doesn’t mean there aren’t channels besides HGTV. Why can’t I live next door to a chef? Or a chiropractor. Someone useful.”
“I’m assuming it’s because you were a real asshole in a previous life.”
“Can we watch Survivor, maybe try a movie once in a while?” He swept a lock of his hair over his shoulder and grinned as Neve rolled her eyes.
She’d never hidden her envious love of his hair. “Do you do that on purpose? Play with your hair and wear tight black jeans and T-shirts to torture straight females?” She turned her attention to the flipping channels on the television. “Because I would.”
“Really? If you were a hot lesbian, you’d deliberately entice straight men? That’s brutal.”
“That’s me. Brutal.” Normally, she made proclamations like that with a little more pride.
Duke chewed his lip and looked her over. She had her glossy, coffeecolored hair pulled into a rakish bun on the top of her head, wore her favorite plush robe over plaid pajamas, and one hand steadily ferried pretzels from the bag to her face.
Pretzel crumbs and all, he’d still get hard if he stared too long. Neve joked about converting him, but if she ever made an honest effort, he wouldn’t hesitate to wrap her killer legs around his waist like a bow, wind a lock of her silken hair through his fist, and make good on every vulgar fantasy he’d concocted over the last two years.
Duke shifted to find a more comfortable position in his awkwardly tight jeans, jeans growing tighter with each vivid image popping into his cranium—Neve on her back with her hair fanned out like a dark halo, Neve’s haughty mouth humbled by a moan of ecstasy, his palms on the inside of her thighs, spreading— Jesus Christ, man. I need to get laid.
Buy Links:
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Author Info
A Florida native, Roxanne Smith has called everywhere from Houston to Cheyenne home. Currently residing in Roswell, New Mexico, she’s an avid reader of every genre, a cat lover, pit bull advocate, and semi-geek. She loves video games, Doctor Who, and her dashing husband. Her two kids are the light of her life and provide ample material for her writing.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

NetGalley REVIEW - Release Blast - Love Story (Love Unexpectedly, #3) by Lauren Layne

Love StoryLove Unexpectedly, #3
by Lauren Layne
Releasing February 14th 2017
Loveswept
Over the course of one wild road trip, feuding childhood sweethearts get a second chance at love in this charming rom-com—a standalone novel from the USA Today bestselling author of Blurred Lines and Good Girl.

From The Book Junkie Reads . . . Love Story (Love Unexpectedly, #3) . . .

What would you do with a second chance at the love you dreamed of for a lifetime? Would you jump back in full steam ahead knowing that he cheated? Would you jump back in knowing it could destroy you even more the second time around? Lucy and Reese had to answer these questions and make some tough decisions on their two-week road trip, they now had to share to get to where they are going.


Lucy was finally leaving behind all that had held her back. She was heading off to start a new life with a new career. All she had to do was get there. The problem was cars have a mind of their own and do what they want. So thus comes an alternative offer of transportation. Lucy never would have guessed in a million years that her alternative would require her to be confined with the one man that turned her world upside down.

Reese has now gotten his life back on track. He was leaving the town, the bad memories, the stifled existence. He was getting out. One catch. He way out comes with extra baggage.

This journey to Californian came with fun times, witty banter, and some extra compensation during those long nights. This road trip was long and time consuming allowing for Lucy and Reese to work through some issues and find that together they had the chemistry.

Communication for this couple was the key to opening doors and breaking down walls. This was something they both had to learn Lucy more so.

Love Unexpectedly series:
Blurred Lines – Love Unexpectedly, #1
Good Girl – Love Unexpectedly, #2
Love Story – Love Unexpectedly, #3
Walk of Shame – Love Unexpectedly, #4   coming 2017

Blurb
When Lucy Hawkins receives a job offer in San Francisco, she can’t wait to spread her wings and leave her small Virginia hometown behind. Her close-knit family supports her as best they can, by handing over the keys to a station wagon that’s seen better days. The catch? The cross-country trip comes with a traveling companion: her older brother’s best friend, aka the guy who took Lucy’s virginity hours before breaking her heart.

After spending the past four years and every last dime caring for his sick father, Reece Sullivan will do just about anything to break free of the painful memories—even if it means a two-week road trip with the one girl who’s ever made it past his carefully guarded exterior. But after long days of bickering in the car turn into steamy nights in secluded motel rooms, Reece learns that, when it comes to Lucy, their story is far from over. And this time, they just might have a shot at a happy ending.

Although listed as a title in the Love Unexpectedly Series, all books in the series stand alone. 
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Exclusive 
“Spock, we’re giving you Horny!” my mom blurts out, apparently fed up with my denseness.
Her utterance is too much for my siblings to handle and they both burst out laughing, retreating into the kitchen to rejoin the party where there’s wine.
Oh what I wouldn’t give for wine right now.
“I, um . . . you’re giving me the car?” I ask.
“Because yours broke down,” my dad explains, walking forward to thump Horny’s dented hood.
“And this one’s . . . not broken down?” I ask skeptically.
Look, it’s not that I’m not grateful. My parents are trying to give me a car, I appreciate the sweetness of the gesture, it’s just . . .
Here’s the thing about Horny: he barely got us three kids through high school. I mean, Horny is the car that sputtered and shook making it the 3.2 miles to Jefferson High, no matter who was behind the wheel.
I’m even going to come all the way clean here and say that early on in my freshmen year, I was embarrassed showing up in Horny. Then I realized I was lucky to have a car at all, and well . . . I dunno, I guess Horny became a part of us Hawkins kids’ charm, because the station wagon was practically an institution from Craig’s high school reign all the way through Brandi’s.
But poor Horny quit working years ago. Much to Brandi’s chagrin, he gave up the ghost a mere two months before her high school graduation, and I spent the last bit of her senior year being picked up by my parents.
“He’s going to take you to California,” Dad says, giving the car another thump.
“Really?” I step forward and run a tentative finger along the familiar panel. He’s had a bath, so at least that’s something. “Because last I knew, he wouldn’t even make it out of the garage.”
“Yeah, well, we neglected him for a while, but he’s right as rain now,” Dad says, puffing out his chest as though Horny’s a fourth child.
“Like, as in he actually starts?”
“Purrs like a kitten,” my mom says with an emphatic nod, even though I know she doesn’t even like cats. “We didn’t believe it, but we took him to church on Sunday and there were no issues.”
literally bite my tongue to keep from pointing out that this is hardly a feat. Sacred Presbyterian is 0.8 miles away from the house.
“You took Horny into a shop?” I ask, starting to warm to the idea of having a car again. I’m a little touched, actually. Money is tight for my parents. Dad’s a PE teacher, and Mom gives a mean winery tour, but the gig’s never paid much.
“Not exactly, it was more of a bartering situation,” Mom says.
“Yeah?” I say, going around to the driver’s seat, already giddy with the prospect of telling Oscar I’ll be able to come see him in Miami after all, even if I won’t exactly be riding in style.
“Reece agreed to fix him up.”
I’m lowering myself into the car as my dad says this, but I reverse so quickly I hit my head. My skull doesn’t even register the pain, because I’m too busy registering the hurt in my heart at the familiar name. “I’m sorry, what?”
“Reece,” my mom says, giving me a bemused look. “He’s always been handy with cars.”
“He fixed up the car in exchange for what?”
And then I feel—I actually feel—the air change around me as the side door to the garage opens, and a new presence sucks all the air out of the space.
I don’t turn around. I don’t move. But I feel his eyes on me. Over me.
“Reece is headed out to California too,” my oblivious mother chatters on. “It worked out perfectly actually. Now you two can ride together, and your dad and I don’t have to worry about you alone in the middle of nowhere with a twenty-something-year-old car.
They think the car is going to be the problem here? It’s not the car that’s toxic to me. It’s him.
Reece Sullivan. My brother’s best friend. My parents’ “other son.”
Slowly I force myself to turn, and even though I’m prepped, the force of that ice-blue gaze still does something dangerous to me.
He winks, quick and cocky, and I suck in a breath, and I have to wonder . . .
I wonder if my parents would feel differently about their little plan if they knew that their makeshift mechanic is the same guy that popped my cherry six years earlier under their very roof.
And then broke my heart twenty-four hours later.

Buy Links:

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Author Info
Lauren Layne is the USA Today bestselling author of more than a dozen romantic comedies. She lives in New York City with her husband (who was her high school sweetheart--cute, right?!) and plus-sized Pomeranian.
In 2011, she ditched her corporate career in Seattle to pursue a full-time writing career in Manhattan, and never looked back.

In her ideal world, every stiletto-wearing, Kate Spade wielding woman would carry a Kindle stocked with Lauren Layne books.

For a list of all her works, please be sure to check out her official website!
Author Links:
WEBSITE   |   FACEBOOK  |   TWITTER     GOODREADS
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Monday, February 13, 2017

NetGalley REVIEW - SALES PROMO - In a Ranger’s Arms (The Men of At Ease Ranch, #1) by Donna Michaels

In a Ranger’s Arms
The Men of At Ease Ranch, #1
by Donna Michaels
Lovestruck

No amount of training could’ve prepared him for her.

From The Book Junkie Reads . . . In a Ranger’s Arms (The Men of Ease Ranch, #1) . . .

Bask in the sexy, snarky, flirty banter between two very unlikely people. Stone has his focus aimed in a direction that does not include the opposite sex. He has a job to do and having his libido engaged was not on the to do list for the day or the week. That was until Jovy.

I got to say that this was so much fun. The banter was fun. The antics were just that icing to send things over the top. There was more to Jovy than Stone could have every expected. There were other fun and very entertaining characters. Come to find out more about how Stone and Jovy make it work and stay to see the others that makes Ease Ranch the place to be.

Hot damn. Sizzle. Sizzle.

The Men of Ease Ranch series:
In a Ranger’s Arms – The Men of Ease Ranch, #1
Her Secret Ranger – The Men of Ease Ranch, #2  coming March 2017

BLURB  
Former Army Ranger Stone Mitchum doesn’t have time for relationships, let alone a one-night stand. He’s too busy running a ranch that helps transition veterans back into society. But when his curvy new tenant falls into his arms, his libido snaps to attention.

Jovy Larson has four weeks to prove she’s worthy of taking over the family business. She’s up for whatever ridiculous task they throw at her, but selling vegan food to a bunch of cowboys in cattle country, Texas? Not half as tough as fighting her attraction to her sexy, surly landlord.

Good thing she’s stubborn. Then again, so is he…
When Jovy Larson’s grandfather had sent her to the middle of cattle country USA to open a gluten-free, vegan cafĂ© in a contest to test her business skills against her cousin, she knew she would have to deal with some tough, and often unexpected, situations. Becoming a hit-and-moo victim of a rampaging cow had never made the list. Bovines weren’t exactly a common fixture in the City of Brotherly Love, despite the fact that Pennsylvania was one of the top five U.S. dairy farm states with over eight thousand farms. She’d never seen one up close. The clanging of the bell grew louder.
That was about to change. And fast. Mad-cow-charging fast.
With a startled gasp, she tried to scramble down the ladder, but it teetered under her feet and her hands ended up windmilling instead. Jovy’s last thought as she flew backward toward the large plate-glass storefront window was if she didn’t die, her cranky landlord was going to kill her.
Fully expecting to smash through the glass, she was shocked to hear a deep, sexy, panty-melting baritone claim, “I’ve got you,” a second before a tall cowboy appeared out of thin air to catch her with his rock-hard body. Two strong, muscular arms clamped around her before the momentum knocked them both to the ground.
Her mind was processing the fact that she was uncut and still alive, sprawled over the sexiest man she’d ever seen, when the stranger rolled them over to shield her from the falling ladder. The impact vibrated through his stiff frame.
Holy cow. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah.” Warm breath rushed over her neck and shoulders as he drew back to stare down at her. During the tussle, his hat fell off to reveal short black hair that didn’t quite reach his collar. “What about you? Are you all right?” Gray eyes, the color of a child’s prized marble, blinked at her in a worried frown.
Increasingly aware that she was now underneath the tall, sexy stranger, whose big, warm, firm hand was cupping her ass—and she liked it—Jovy cleared her throat. “Define ‘all right.’”
“Are you hurt?” He removed his palm from inside her shorts, the warm, tingling feeling dissipated along with his touch, until he shoved the ladder aside, sat up, and began to run both hands efficiently over the rest of her body. 
Her sorely neglected body. A body doing an all hail Mr. Gray Eyes tremor. Lord have mercy, her good parts hadn’t been in contact with a male like this in over a year. Not since…
“Hey, miss? Answer me. Are you hurt?”
Hurt? She stifled a hysterical giggle. “No.”
Aroused? Oh, yeah. Big-time. And completely embarrassed by her reaction to the total stranger. She could explain away the tremors racking her body as shock, but not the beaded nipples plainly visible through her bra and tank top. 
If he noticed them, he didn’t let on as his hands skimmed over her chest, neck, and shoulders.
She gritted her teeth, enjoying the scrape of his callus-roughened hands on her skin, doing her damnedest not to embarrass herself further by moaning.
Dumb body.
“You feel okay to me.”
Sitting up, she snickered. “Thanks, but…shouldn’t you buy me dinner first?” The stupid words were out of her mouth before she had the chance to swallow them down.
He stilled and met her gaze for a beat, then his head tipped back and a bark of laughter echoed down the covered walkway. The deep, sexy sound did nothing to lessen her arousal, but the sight of the cow, pushing her way past the fallen ladder to moo in his startled face, sparked her amusement.
Jovy giggled. “Looks like you have yourself an admirer there, cowboy.”
“Nah.” He shrugged, lifting a hand to stroke the cow’s neck. “Lula Belle is just a little overzealous.”
And bold, or maybe not. Jovy didn’t possess a wealth of bovine knowledge. But she did know it was plumb dangerous for livestock to be roaming free in town. “You should probably keep your cow at home.”
A smile tugged his mouth. “She’s not my cow.”
At this, Lula Belle bent down to lick his face.
Jovy quirked a brow. “Does the cow know that?”
Author Info
Donna Michaels is an award winning, New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of Romaginative fiction. Her hot, humorous, and heartwarming stories include cowboys, men in uniform, and some sexy, primal alphas. With a husband in the military fulltime, and a household of nine, she never runs out of material to write, and has rightfully earned the nickname Lucy…and sometimes Ethel. From short to epic, her books entertain readers across a variety of sub-genres, and one has even being hand drawn into a Japanese translation. Now, if only she could read it.
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Friday, February 10, 2017

NetGalley REVIEW - Virtual Tour - Not in My Wildest Dreams (McKenna Series, #2) by Jamie Hollins

Not in My Wildest Dreams
McKenna Series, #2
by Jamie Hollins
Releasing February 7th 2017
Self-Published

From The Book Junkie Reads . . . Not in My Wildest Dreams (McKenna Series, #2) . . .

I got me so funny moment of embarrassed shame from one Darcy Owens. She was shameless, fun, serious, and real. She knew her heart and knew what she wanted but she didn’t dare to dream it would ever be possible. Sean McKenna was a dream that was beyond a dream. It could never, ever, ever happen. That was until it did. But by them she had already steered her interest in a different direction.  To say this was a surprise that Sean did not like this.

Sean and Darcy were friends for years. Darcy has seen women come and go in Sean’s life. She was just a fixture that was there. Sean was just a typical guy that saw only what he wanted to see until the day he saw more than he thought he could handle.

This was a slow rise to the friends-to-lovers relationship that I usually find. There was no looking that just said jump now. Right now. They worked together and spent more time together and things just felt right.

I did not read the first book of the series and I did not feel like I missed anything. I did however feel like I would like to know more about the McKenna’s as a whole. That would push me to go back and read book one of this series. It was something about Ewan that had me wanting to know what it was like for him and Quinn.

McKenna Series:
The Best Part of Me – McKenna Series, #1
Not in My Wildest Dreams – McKenna Series, #2

BlurbIt really sucks to be in love with someone who sees you as nothing more than a friend.  Darcy Owens knows this from personal experience. From the moment she met Sean McKenna as a wary ten-year-old, he’s owned her heart. So when he asks for her help with an important construction project, she can’t say no.

Building a boutique hotel on Boston’s waterfront is a career-making opportunity, and Sean needs Darcy’s interior design expertise. She’s incredibly talented, and there is no one he trusts more. He knows he can always count on his childhood friend, but doesn’t know why he’s thinking about her tight skirts and blue eyes instead of tight deadlines and blueprints.

When Sean and Darcy’s excitement about their work turns into an entirely different kind of excitement, it’s a sexy surprise. But they soon realize that building a new relationship is more challenging than building a new hotel, especially when life-long habits and old insecurities create cracks in the foundation.
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          Mallory dug her hand into the mug and pulled out the next question. Her eyes scanned the paper and she laughed.
          “What is your preferred shape when shaving your pubic hair?”
          Quinn spit her beer back into her glass, almost choking on it. “Darcy!”
          “You first, Quinn,” Darcy smiled.
          Quinn’s eyes were as big as saucers, the whites totally surrounding her light gray irises.
          “Pass!”
          “Figures,” Darcy teased. “Okay, I’ll go first again. I try to keep it mostly in a little triangle shape. But I trim it pretty short so it doesn’t get too out of control down there.”
          Quinn was turning three shades of purple. Mallory and Jessi both laughed hysterically, covering their faces with their hands.
          “You are shameless!” Quinn yelled, looking like she didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
          “Who’s shameless?”
          All heads turned to see Ewan and Sean McKenna walk through the front door. Darcy’s smile froze on her face as she stared at the two cousins who looked absolutely nothing alike. One was dark and one was fair. Both were tall, fit, and drop-dead gorgeous. Ewan was a usual suspect on the weekends. Sean, however, was not.
Damn, I’m not drunk enough to handle this.
          “Darcy’s shameless,” Quinn said, now with a little grin on her face.
          “Of course she is,” Sean said, smiling his million-dollar smile. “She’s Darcy,”
          Nope. Definitely not drunk enough to deal with Sean McKenna.
          That smile was one of Sean’s many highly effective and deadly weapons in his arsenal against the opposite sex. It had been eighteen years, and Darcy’s breath still caught every time she laid eyes on him. Strong, sculpted shoulders and a chest that narrowed into a lean and muscled abdomen.
No matter what he had on, his body looked amazing. Long, toned legs, shapely ass. His list of sexy and virile attributes could go on and on.
Combine that list with his sunny blond hair and his nonstop sense of humor, and he was a one-man woman-eater. And she didn’t mean that as an innuendo, although she could guess it was fairly accurate if the rumors served him right.
He had the confidence and charisma to charm Mother Teresa’s panties off. He was just that good.
          Not that Darcy knew what it was like for Sean to charm her panties off, even though she’d been dreaming about it ever since she’d met him on her first day of school in Ballagh, a sleepy village south of Boston. She’d seen all his tricks and moves. But only because she’d helplessly watched him work them on other girls.
          Sean had been the reason several lucky girls had given up their hymens. Ironically, he was and remained to be the reason she still had hers.
Call it sad. Call it impossible. Call it an abomination. Darcy was a twenty-eight-year-old virgin. It was hard to have a physical relationship when all she did was compare other men to Sean. She didn’t mean to do it. She just did.
          And if that didn’t fucking split her heart in two, the fact that he considered her one of his best friends did the trick. No guy ever fucked his best gal pal. It was in the guy code of conduct or something.
          Ewan pushed by his cousin, bent down, and gave Quinn a hard kiss on the lips before whispering something in her ear that made her giggle. His smile for his girlfriend was warm and made promises that told Darcy she’d likely need to sleep with the TV on. Not that they were ever loud when the darkly handsome and brooding Ewan was getting it on with her roommate. But Darcy didn’t want to risk hearing anything.
          Quinn smiled up at him. “We’re almost done.”
          “Done with what?” Sean asked, pulling up a chair to the table.
          “We’re playing Dirty Dozen.” Mallory’s words were slightly slurred.
          Sean looked over at her and raised his brows. “Dirty Dozen? Sounds scandalous. Do tell.”
          Darcy noticed the way Sean’s eyes lit up. He would be the only guy she knew who would use a word like scandalous.
          “We have to answer twelve questions,” Jessi answered him. “The naughtier the better.”
          “Jesus,” Ewan muttered, shaking his head as he started toward the living room to watch TV.
          “Naughty questions, huh?” Sean replied. “And why haven’t I been invited to join in on the fun before?”
          “Because you don’t have a vagina,” Darcy deadpanned.
          Sean twisted his lips at her and raised a brow.
          “I have intimate knowledge of vaginas. That should count for something.”
          Darcy rolled her eyes. Before she could tell Sean that no dicks were allowed at their Girls’ Night In, Jessi chimed in. “Of course you can play with us. It‘ll be fun to get a guy’s perspective.”
          With the exception of Quinn, Darcy’s friends didn’t know about her feelings for Sean. Jessi and Mallory, no doubt, thought he was the hottest thing since Tabasco.
Pretty much everyone did.
Her friends had met him a few times over the years through parties someone or other had thrown. Sean very rarely ever came down to Providence, where Darcy had just finished her graduate degree and Quinn was still trudging through hers. He lived in Boston, where he had earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees, and was now partner in a general contracting firm.
“Okay, hit me,” Sean invited. “What’s this shameless question of Darcy’s?”
“What shape do you shave your pubic hair?” Darcy challenged. She should have known that he wouldn’t even bat an eye.
“Great question,” he immediately answered. “Personally, I just trim my pubes. However, if you want to know my preference for how a woman should shave hers—”
“We don’t,” Darcy quickly said.
“Yes, we do!” both Mallory and Jessi yelled at the same time.
Sean smiled at them both before continuing. “It’s gotta be tidy down there. Shaved is okay, but waxed is better. And it needs to have some shape. I think it’s unnatural for a woman to be completely bare. I personally prefer something I like to call the Martini Glass, right above the—” He stopped suddenly and frowned. “I should illustrate. Can I get a pen and paper?”
“No!” Darcy cut in.
Sean shrugged, clearly loving how uncomfortable she was.
“My turn to ask a question.” He reached in to pull out a piece of paper. Sean smiled as he read it to himself before turning that blinding grin on the rest of the table.
“God, this is a great game,” he laughed. “Okay, the question is: When, where, how, and to whom did you lose your virginity?”
All the blood seemed to drain from Darcy’s head.
She’d been surprised that this question hadn’t come up the first few times they’d played the Dirty Dozen. It wasn’t that she was trying to keep her virginity a secret. She just never talked about it. Why the hell did it have to come up now, when Sean was here, for Christ’s sake?
Fuck, she was nowhere near drunk enough for this.
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Author Info
Jamie Hollins was born and raised in rural Northeast Ohio.  After graduate school, she embarked on a perilous career in Human Resources where she met plenty of real life characters.  When she’s not writing or chasing after her toddler, she enjoys reading and golfing.  Jamie lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, son, and their dog, Winston.
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