Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Blog Tour: Moore Than a Feeling by Julie A. Richman

Just when you thought there wasn’t any MOORE…

From USA Today bestselling author Julie A. Richman, comes a companion title to her Needing Moore series, MOORE THAN A FEELING. Order your copy of MOORE THAN A FEELING today!


"Holly and Aiden broke up? Seriously? No way. Not those two."

No, not only dumped.
Blindsided and dumped.

I thought that Aiden McManus was my forever, my soulmate,
That was until he told me he was still in love with his ex.

I didn't want to believe him.
So, I convinced myself that our break-up was because of his upcoming deployment,
and not because he didn't love me.
Believing that, helped me get through those first months.

But after a while, I realized I just might be lying to myself.
And it was time to move on...

So, I moved on. Or tried to move on, anyway.
But that didn’t work out so well for me, either.
And it practically got me disowned from my family.

After that, I finally started to get my life back together,
I had everything back under control…
…Or so I thought.

Until I found out Aiden was back

And now he’s everywhere I turn,
Still pushing me away,
telling me he doesn’t want me.

But every time he calls me Angel or reaches out to touch my cheek,
I know what he's not admitting to himself –
He still loves me.

And I'm going to prove it to him.

4.5 stars
Review by Lisa Kane

I adored Julie Richman's Needing Moore series and when I heard she was going to be giving us Holly and Aiden's story-well I needed Moore!

We learn fairly quickly in the story that right before he was deployed, Aiden McManus broke up with Holly Moore.

"Don't bother waiting for me, Holly. This is the perfect natural ending point for us. We're just too different. So, please don't kid yourself and wait."

But that wasn't enough of a blow. No, he had to nail that coffin shut.

"And I'm happier with a woman who's more like me. I've been thinking a lot about my old girlfriend, Janine and I'd like to see if we can work things out."

Really Aiden?

Holly slowly picks up the pieces of her life with the help of her father, Schooner and her stepmom Mia. She is surrounded by love from her brother Zach and her younger siblings Portia and Nathaniel. But her heart aches. She turns to a much older man, Tom who is a blast from the past for a few of the characters in this story...this isn't going to end well.

When Holly learns Aiden is back and he was injured she doesn't know what to do. He hasn't answered her calls or texts. No one seems to know much about what he has been up to. So when she runs into him she's shocked, but it would seem he isn't alone.

"Okay, Malibu Barbie, get your nasty claws off my man."

Say it again, really Aiden? You're back, haven't gotten in touch with Holly or answered her, and you're with Janine again? I might have to give up on this guy.

This time in the service has messed with Aiden but good. Not just physically, although those wounds are pretty severe. But this man is an emotional time bomb. He won't let anyone help him, least of all Holly or her family.

"There's never been a day, since the day you said goodbye, that I haven't thought of you, wondered where you are, if you're okay, what you are thinking, or if anything reminds you of me. Of us. Ever."

Having the old gang back is such a treat. Even Schooner's ex-CJ, is a welcome sight for these old eyes. But there is a ton of angst in this story. Over and over again, poor Holly's is broken. At times she drove me nuts with her drama queen antics, but then she would be so heartbroken and cracked that I just ached for this poor soul. Aiden...get your head out of your ass!

"Do you love her?" Her voice was barely more than a whisper.

Now along the way, Holly has made friends with her roommate's brother. He's name is Pierce, he rocks a man bun, and is a musician. I NEED more of this guy!!

"But she's hung up on another guy and I've already missed the transition guy spot."

Holly is her father's daughter. She's no wilting flower. She can handle what life throws at her-the only thing is-will she still be there when Aiden finally figures out that he can have what he wants?

"Forever and a day."

Just a sidenote-after you read the story you'll know what I'm talking about. I would never, ever come to one of their Thanksgivings and if they know what's good for them, they need to trade in that home cooked turkey and book a Disney cruise instead!

Order your copy of MOORE THAN A FEELING today!

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Julie A. Richman’s MOORE THAN A FEELING – Review & Excerpt Tour Schedule:
July 23rd
Devilishly dirty book blog – Review & Excerpt
MSquaredBookBlog – Review & Excerpt
Sassy Moms Say Read Romance – Review & Excerpt
July 24th
Book Boyfriend Blog – Review & Excerpt
FMR Book Grind – Review
I Love Romance – Review & Excerpt
Nanasbookreviews – Excerpt
July 25th
Book Addict – Review & Excerpt
Reads All the Books – Review & Excerpt
July 26th
Blog of Books – Review
Read more sleep less – Review & Excerpt
July 27th
6 Feet Under Books – Excerpt
Book Loving Pixies – Excerpt
Shameless Book Club – Review & Excerpt
The Wayfaring Bibliomaniac – Review & Excerpt
July 28th
Eye Candy Bookstore – Excerpt
Read Love Blog – Review & Excerpt
Smut Book Junkie Reviews – Review & Excerpt
July 29th
Booked All Night – Review & Excerpt
Sultry Sirens Book Blog – Review & Excerpt
July 30th
Becky on Books – Excerpt
Life Books & Loves – Review & Excerpt
Wicked Reads – Review & Excerpt
July 31st
Bookgasms Book Blog – Review & Excerpt
Michelle Parkerton – Review
Three chicks and their books – Review & Excerpt
August 1st
Bobo's Book Bank – Excerpt
Jax's Book Magic – Excerpt
Stressed Rach – Review & Excerpt
August 2nd
Becca the Bibliophile – Review & Excerpt
Books are love – Review & Excerpt
My Girlfriends Nook Korner – Review & Excerpt
Simply Crystal – Review & Excerpt
August 3rd
As You Wish Reviews – Review & Excerpt
Romance Schmomance – Review & Excerpt
August 4th
KDRBCK – Review & Excerpt
One-Click Chocolate Chick – Review & Excerpt
Romance Book Explosion – Review & Excerpt

About Julie A. Richman:

USA TODAY Bestselling author Julie A. Richman is a native New Yorker living deep in the heart of Texas, home to great music, BBQ, and awesome Tex-Mex. An award-winning nature photographer plagued with insatiable wanderlust, Julie spent many years scratching the travel itch while helping non-profit organizations and corporations with their marketing and advertising programs.

Currently, Julie has published Searching for Moore, Moore to Lose, Moore than Forever, Bad Son Rising, Needing Moore:The Complete Series, Henry's End, Slave to Love, The Do-Over and Love on the Edge of Time. She has works included in Pink Shades of Words 2014 & 2015, Tempting Fate Boxed Set, Intense Boxed Set, Intense 2 Boxed Set and the Cocktales Anthology.

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Release Blitz: Someone Else's Ocean by Kate Stewart

We're celebrating the release of  SOMEONE ELSE'S OCEAN by Kate Stewart! One-Click today!!!

Contemporary Romance
Stand Alone
July 31, 2018
Cover Designed by: Amy Queau- Q Design Cover and Premades

The first time I met Ian Kemp in the sparkling blue waters of St. Thomas, I was six years old and we shared a summer beneath the stars.

The second time I met Ian Kemp, he was a shell of the boy I once knew. Turbulent and infuriating, he refused my friendship at every turn. Like me, he was a casualty of life’s cruelty, but we were planets apart. 

We’d both sought refuge on the island, hoping to find our anchor. Instead, we found each other and managed to reclaim our stars...until we both got swept away.

5 Stars
Review by Jen Skewes

Kate Stewart has done it again!!  From the moment I read the prologue I was hooked.  And once I started I could not put it down.  I devoured this book in one day.   I loved it!!

Koti left New York about a year ago, leaving behind her plush lifestyle, her expensive shoes, penthouse apartment and her parents all in favor of starting over in St. Thomas.  It was the the traumatic experience mixed with some other issues that caused her to leave.  She needed to escape, and get away from the life she has managed to live, but barely surviving. Now she feels like she can breathe again but still faces some of the same issues.  

When Ian Kemp, the boy she met when she was 7 years old shows up next door, she’s in for a challenge.  He is not the same boy that she remembers.  Now he is angry and hurt and in a lot of pain. He too has gone to the island to escape but she has no idea why.  She knows that she made a promise to his mother to look after him and she intends on keeping that promise.  What happens next is nothing she planned or expected.  

Ian has just had some really devastating news and needs to get away.  He gets away by going to his parents house in St. Thomas where he sees the girl that he met when he was a teenager. She’s grown up to be a beautiful woman but he is too angry, too hurt and in too much pain to see it or maybe even admit it. She’s always there, trying to help him with her snarky attitude.  But it’s that sass that brings him life again. It's the way she opens up to him.  Maybe Koti is just what he needed. But he’s only here for the summer and can’t give her much after that, no matter how much they both want it.  Will he allow himself to get close to her, knowing that he may hurt her!  Will they both take the risk or remain just friends??

I can't begin to tell you how much I loved this book. First of all there is Koti.  This young beautiful girl who has some issues, who I can relate to on many levels.  She has a mother who wants to control her world and she knows that she has let her down, a father who adores her and a best friend that keeps her on her toes.  But she’s missing the one thing she won’t allow herself to have. And that’s love.  She’s an amazing woman and so lovable that all I wanted was for her to find that special someone and get her happily ever after.  

Ian Kemp is gorgeous and sexy but when Koti first sees him he’s a bit of a jerk. But given what he is going through I completely understood why.  He’s a really good guy who has so much love and passion to give.  And you see that when he is with his daughter.   Their relationship was everything and completely melted my heart. 

I love Ian and Koti together.  I love the banter back and forth but what i loved the most was how they both grew together.  How they both opened up their souls to each other.  They understood each other in ways that other people may not have, especially where Koti is concerned. They were so perfect for each other.  They both needed to find their self in a way and they did that with each’s others help.  The words they spoke to each other, the love and passion, the fun times as well as the really difficult ones is what made this book what is was - a beautifully written story about love, hurt and finding one’s self.  A love story that will make you laugh, swoon, melt your heart and cry.  And yes there were some teary eye moments, Especially towards the end when I felt my heart in my throat not sure how it would all work out.  

Kate Stewart once again blew me away.  Her writing just gets better and better with every book.  Loved it and Cannot wait for Jasmines story.  

About the Author:

A Texas native, Kate Stewart lives in North Carolina with her husband, Nick, and her naughty beagle, Sadie. She pens messy, sexy, angst-filled contemporary romance as well as romantic comedy and erotic suspense because it's what she loves as a reader. Kate is a lover of all things '80s and '90s, especially John Hughes films and rap. She dabbles a little in photography, can knit a simple stitch scarf for necessity, and on occasion, does very well at whiskey.

Contact Kate- Email-authorkatestewart@gmail.com

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Monday, July 30, 2018

Blog Tour: Sweet Sixteen by Brenda Rothert

Purchase Now or read for FREE in KindleUnlimited:

Sweet Sixteen by Brenda Rothert

Book Blurb:

They say roses are the most beautiful...

Gin Fielding is counting the days until she escapes the small-town life of Roper, Missouri for college at NYU. She prefers to blend in, though she's far from invisible. But when she protects a younger student from a bully, the spotlight turns on her in ways she never imagined.

I say that every rose has its thorn...

The Friday night lights shine bright on Chase Matthews. Roper's golden boy, Chase can do no wrong, enjoying the small-town celebrity being the star quarterback brings. When Gin defends his little sister against a bully, he decides to lend her his star power and change her senior year in ways she never imagined.

But maybe the thorns are part of their beauty.

When Gin declines Chase's invitation to be part of the elite Sweet Sixteen, the repercussions turn both their lives upside down. But amidst the chaos, Gin and Chase find solace in one another. Together, they confront the ugly truth-- that sometimes glory has a dark side.

***Warning--Sweet Sixteen is an upper YA book with mature themes and is intended for readers 18+.

5 Stars
Review by Jen Skewes

Wow!!  That was how I felt at the end of this book and probably while reading it as well.  Sweet Sixteen is nothing I expected to be and it is also unlike anything that Brenda Rothert has written.  In the beginning there was a part of me that was so shocked by what was going on that I wasn’t sure how I would continue.  But this being Ms. Rothert I knew that I would.  It was that moment that made me realize just how different this book really was and how much this book would affect me.  In a way it set me up for the emotions that I would feel. 

Gin is a senior in a small town where football is the most important thing.  She just wants to continue to lay low, finish her senior year and move on to NYU.  Gin is not the most popular girl, people may talk about her behind her back but she doesn't really let it affect her.  She knows how to defend herself and does so when necessary.  But she also looks out for others as well, and she proves that when she defends a girl from being bullied and beaten up.  The girl’s brother is Chase Matthews, the captain of the football team.  Chase was there to take care of her and thanked her for what she did for his little sister.  But he wanted to do more, and my God did he.  His gesture was, in his mind, supposed to be a good thing, but instead was the complete opposite.  It ruined the quiet senior year she had hoped to have.  It completely turned things upside down in not only her world but also his. 

I don’t want to go into any more detail.  You need to go into this one blind, just like I did.  This book deals with some very heavy topics and truth be told some things that went on just made me sick.  But it also truly opened my eyes.  Does this really go on in small towns, or any town for that matter? Some moments truly were difficult to deal with and caused my heart to beat out of my chest.  But while they were intense and maybe a bit raw, Ms. Rothert still managed to handle them in the perfect way.  A way that makes you not only feel the emotions but also doesn't completely turn you off to the story itself, if that makes sense.  It makes you want to read on and see what will happen next, in hopes that these characters will come out ok. 

Gin is an amazing heroine who I loved.  I admired her strength and the ability to be herself no matter what anyone said about her.  She always managed to stay true to herself.  She had a crush on a boy that she should have despised.  But she saw some good in him and still managed to stand up for herself and call him out on his behavior.  She may have tried to be invisible throughout her high school career but she is one of those girls who has a major impact on not only the people around her but this story. 

Chase, oh how this boy toyed with my emotions.  I wanted to hate him!!!  As the captain of the football team he had responsibilities and ones that were just so wrong.  He made excuses for it and I hated it.  But I knew that there was so much more to him.  Maybe he was just a teenage boy caught up in this world and no idea how to get out.  Maybe the pressure from so many people is what led him to be the boy that we first meet.  Truth is I am not sure what his reasons were, but in the end that wasn’t what mattered.  It was the way he grew as an individual.  The way he stood up to people and took a stand.  And yes maybe he didn’t do it the right way at first but he completely turned around and in the end I loved him. I loved him and Gin together and how they truly helped each other through a very tough year. 

I loved this book and everything it stood for.  I applaud Ms. Rothert for writing it, for dealing with the topics that she writes about.  The writing is flawless, the words written on each page are done so in a way that brings out every emotion.   I felt it all with these characters.  I felt like I was a part of their little world, one at times I wanted to escape from just as Gin did.  I loved watching the two of them grow, both as individuals but also together.  To see the way they worked through things, and opened up to each other is what also made this book so special.  This is by far one of my top reads for this year.  It was brilliant  and one of those books that will stay with me. 

Purchase Now or read for FREE in KindleUnlimited:



Brenda Rothert is an Illinois native who was a print journalist for nine years. She made the jump from fact to fiction in 2013 and never looked back. From new adult to steamy contemporary romance, Brenda creates fresh characters in every story she tells. She’s a lover of Diet Coke, chocolate, lazy weekends and happily ever afters.


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InkSlinger Blogger Final

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Blog Tour: Envy by Rachel Van Dyken

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Rachel Van Dyken comes a new story in her Eagle Elite series…

Every family has rules, the mafia just has more….
Do not speak to the bosses unless spoken to.
Do not make eye contact unless you want to die.
And above all else, do not fall in love.
Renee Cassani’s future is set.
Her betrothal is set.
Her life, after nannying for the five families for the summer, is set
Somebody should have told Vic Colezan that.
He’s a man who doesn’t take no for an answer.
And he only wants one thing.
Somebody should have told Renee that her bodyguard needed as much discipline as the kids she was nannying.
Good thing Vic has a firm hand.

4.5 stars
Review by Lisa Kane

I love Rachel Van Dyken's Eagle Elite series. She can write the biggest, most diabolical mobsters and yet have me swoon over them just the same!

Renee is the nanny for Nixon's daughter and Phoenix's son. While she is no stranger to the life that these men lead, she longs for the day that she will be going away for school. She's 21 and wants a life separate from this one. No more guns and blood and fighting.

Vic Abandonato watches over the family. He will protect them with his life. He is an assassin. He takes out who he needs to and doesn't hesitate to do it. Time and time again.

Vic Corazon Abandonato.
In all his gory glory.
Tight black pants.
Tight black shirt.
Enough guns strapped to him to win an all-out war.
And no smile. 

Renee isn't exactly immune to Vic's charms. Now Vic...he's to protect Renee, but he wants her. With every fiber of his being. But she is never to be his.

"I have enough deaths to pay for-I wold not survive having yours on my head too."
"Because you would get killed?" I croaked.
That smirk, that beautiful smirk, crept across his face again. 
"No, Renee, because I wouldn't want to live-not knowing that I was allowed to and you were in the cold, hard ground."

Just like every book in this series, nothing and no one is as they appear. Renee's life is clouded with mystery and she seems to be the only one in the dark. Vic has taken vows to protect and vows that have changed his life forever. Renee is not his for the taking.

My loyalty had never been tested in such a violent or ridiculous way. 

In the midst of all this suspense, Ms. Van Dyken's sense of snarky humor manages to lighten the dark side of this read.

I could see her toned thighs fucking taunting me with every step she took in my direction. I wanted to lick between them to see how many licks it would take to get to her center. 

I don't think I will ever look at a Tootsie Pop the same way again.

Things are going to get ugly. Things are going to get gory. Prepare to be horrified at some parts.

The mafia didn't do things by accident. It was no accident she had been asked to watch the children. 

Nixon has always been my favorite, but he barely resembles the same man he was in the first book. Even then, he knew he would ascend to great power, but along the way he has hardened to such a ruthlessness that sometimes I wonder who the hell he is-the choices he makes, the actions he takes-jeez this guy makes Don Corleone look like a lamb.

I watched in horror as Nixon dug the knife into the top of Vic's hand and started etching out the different names that he'd sworn to protect. 

How can two people with such different values and morals ever be together in a world that is filled with revenge and blood lust?

I pulled back and laughed. I laughed hard because I was happy. Because she made me happy. 
Because for the first time in a long time-I knew joy. 

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Rachel Van Dyken’s ENVY – Review & Excerpt Tour Schedule:
July 25th
All about reading – Review
Booknerdingout – Review & Excerpt
Ceej's Life Reads – Review & Excerpt
Fun Under the Covers – Review & Excerpt
Lost to Books – Review
Marta Likes do Read – Review & Excerpt
The Bookish Sisters – Review & Excerpt
July 26th
AMPed Up Books –Review & Excerpt
Bobo's Book Bank – Review & Excerpt
Bookworm Misfit – Review & Excerpt
iScream Books Blog – Review & Excerpt
Read-Love-Blog – Excerpt
S3OC – Review & Excerpt
July 27th
A Fortress of Books – Excerpt
BJ's Book Blog – Review & Excerpt
Book Freak – Review
East Coast Book Chicks – Review & Excerpt
Reads All the Books – Review & Excerpt
Smut Book Junkie Reviews – Review & Excerpt
The Book Disciple – Review & Excerpt
Wicked Cool Flight – Review & Excerpt
July 28th
Bookaholic Confessions – Review & Excerpt
Ginreads – Review
Melena's Reviews –Review & Excerpt
Two Book Pushers – Excerpt
July 29th
All Things Dark & Dirty – Review & Excerpt
Life with Lesley – Review & Excerpt
My Book Filled Life – Review & Excerpt
Musings of the Modern Belle – Review & Excerpt
Novel Grounds – Review
Three chicks and their books – Review & Excerpt
July 30th
Jenn Avery Romance Lover – Review & Excerpt
Joandisalovebooks – Review & Excerpt
Kick Back & Review – Review & Excerpt
Lover of Big Books Cannot Lie – Review & Excerpt
My Girlfriend's Couch – Review & Excerpt
Thestarslisten – Excerpt
July 31st
Cup of Tea Book Blog – Review & Excerpt
Ebook Indulgence – Review
Lisa Book Blog – Review & Excerpt
The Heathers Blog – Review & Excerpt
August 1st
3 degrees of fiction – Review & Excerpt
Between The Lines – Review & Excerpt
Book Lovers Hangout – Review & Excerpt
Naughty and nice book blog – Review & Excerpt
The Book Boyfriend Addict – Review & Excerpt
August 2nd
Babbling Chatter Reads – Review & Excerpt
Jax's Book Magic – Excerpt
Kiss and Tell Book Blog – Review & Excerpt
One-Click Chocolate Chick – Review & Excerpt
Reese's Reviews – Review & Excerpt
Romance Schmomance – Review & Excerpt
Sentranced Jem – Review & Excerpt
August 3rd
Naughty Mom Story Time – Review & Excerpt
Nightbird Novels – Review
SA Clayton – Excerpt
The Divas Book Lounge – Review & Excerpt

About Rachel Van Dyken:

Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she’s not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.

She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband, adorable son, and two snoring boxers! She loves to hear from readers!

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Friday, July 27, 2018

Cover Reveal: Ruffles and Beaus by Carina Adams

Title: Ruffles & Beaus
Author: Carina Adams
Genre: NA Romance/Love Triangle
Release Date: August 23, 2018

Every girl who dances on a pole has a story to tell, one that led her to the stage.

My last year of college was set to be the best yet. Only a few months stood between me and the life of my dreams. Until my manager was arrested for embezzlement, our department was wiped out, and everything fell apart.

I needed a job. I was willing to do anything to pay for school, hoping to simply survive. Desperate, I joined Soirée, the private party company that offered something no other did.

I wasn’t prepared for Roman, the boss who thought I was helpless and hated me as much as I detested him. Or, his best friend Reid, who assumed I was tougher than I was and pursued me in a way no one else ever had.

I never used a pole, yet I took my clothes off as men cheered. My past didn’t lead me there, though.

My story began with the secrets I told as I fell in love with two very different men.

And continued with the lies I weaved to keep us all from breaking.



In most books and movies, the back half of a strip club is a dingy, dark, and dirty place with pint sized dressing rooms off creepy halls littered with debris. Entertainers are paid to shake their ass, smile pretty, and keep their mouth shut. They’re told to feel lucky to have a safe space to change out of their costume, let alone have clean water to wipe the stage paint from their face and the grime from their bodies.

Those fictional places were nothing compared to this.

Glancing around the cheerful area one more time, I felt like a famous A-list celebrity waiting in her private trailer between takes. Not only did I have my own dressing room–with four solid walls and a locking door–my street clothes hung in a real closet and big bright lights-the kinds old Hollywood starlets used-surrounded my mirrors.

Expensive designer makeup lined the table in front of me, my phone had been synced with a speaker, playing calming melodies to help me relax, and the rest of my costumes filled the rolling rack behind me, waiting for their turn. To someone who didn’t know me well, it looked like I had everything I needed. A quick glance around this room and you’d think I was all set to go put on one hell of a show, dance my ass off, and have tons of fun.

It couldn't have been further from the truth. A major piece of me, one that I’d had at every performance so far, my security blanket, was missing. My fingertips tightened over the arms of the chair, manicured nails sinking into the faded padding, as I tried to keep the panic at bay. I didn't know how to do this.

Canceling wasn't an option either.

If I walked out front right now, I’d find accent lights giving the elevated stage a mysterious glow, buff bartenders in sleeveless button-down shirts pouring drinks quickly from behind the bar that ran along the entire length of the room, and waitresses dressed in black booty shorts and tightly-tied corsets taking orders and flirting their way to great tips as they flittered around the hundreds of anxious men–and few dozen excited women– who sat scattered throughout the open space. It would appear to be business as usual, just another day in the most visited burlesque club in Boston.

Tonight was anything but a normal evening in this joint, though. Ruffles McGee, Madam Sparkles, Peaches Anne Cream, Violet Tendencies, and Glitters Galore were making their large venue debut. For one night, and one night only, the most sought after private party entertainers in New England were going big–and bigger was better. At least that’s what the advertisements and billboard claimed. The dancers, who used burlesque roots with a modern twist, usually only appeared at exclusive, invitation only events that booked months in advance, so it came as no surprise when tickets for their show at Sway had sold out in mere minutes.

What the people in the other room didn’t know was that tonight was my last dance. I’d agreed to perform before my life fell apart, ready to go out with a bang, and would never back out at the eleventh hour, no matter how nervous or scared I felt. People depended on me.

That didn’t mean I wanted to be there though. Or that the nasty troll of self-doubt hadn't reared her ugly head, taunting me, telling me that I'd flail without him.

The knock on the door wasn’t a surprise. Hell, I’d been waiting for them to come get me; the applause from the other acts told me it was almost my turn. Yet, I didn’t budge.

Waves of nausea washed over me. I didn't know what I was doing. I’d never performed in front of more than a few dozen people. And he’d always been hiding in the shadows, watching my six.

“Don’t do this, Cady.”

His voice echoed in my mind, as clear as if was standing right next to me. My breath caught and my stomach knotted so tight my back ached, a cold sweat covered my skin, and I wondered if it really was him on the other side of the door, if he’d come for me after all.

For a fleeting moment, a calmness I hadn’t experienced in weeks settled over me.

Then, memories came rushing forward. Angry shouts, accusations, weak denials filled with half-truths. My heart ached again, just like it had that night, the pain as tangible as if someone had reached into my chest and clutched the organ in an iron fist.

I heard my name, followed by another, much louder and more aggressive knock, yet I couldn’t move. It wasn’t what I wanted to be called coming from the voice I longed to hear.

It shouldn't be like this.

When the door opened, I glanced over, sure I’d turned the damn lock to keep the world out.

My eyebrows rose at Francesca, my partner in crime. Frankie always looked stunning, but now she'd stop patrons in their tracks. The makeup flawless, her adorable freckles completely hidden, and her lips painted a sexy-as-sin shade of scarlet. The sleek midnight stacked bob wig she wore highlighted her sharp cheekbones and made her seem dangerous, a force to be reckoned with.

Six-inch red pleather stiletto thigh-highs that covered shiny fishnets, clung to her legs, shaping them in a way that would make every single person in the main room want to reach out and touch her. Metallic midnight shorts peeked out from under a half buttoned white long-sleeved dress shirt that contoured to her slim body perfectly. Over it all she wore a jet black thigh-length leather trench coat that told the world she was badass, and almost dared people to mess with her.

This woman wasn’t my best friend, the one who would live in baggy athletic shorts and logoed t-shirts. This was Madam Sparkles. An alter-ego who brought even the most powerful men to their knees.

The fierce amethyst dragon-eyed contacts she wore, not to correct her vision, but to help conceal her identity, almost disappeared as she narrowed her eyes, scanning me. Emotion fleetingly warred on her face, as she tired to decide if she should scold or coddle.

She did neither.


I waived in dismissal. I looked as close to my real-self as she did, but I didn't need her to point it out. Randy had gone overboard with my makeup, applying it with a too heavy hand. I was fine with the transformation. None of the patrons out front would recognize me. That’s the way I wanted it.

I only truly cared about one man.

“Did you see him?” I heard the desperation in my own voice, unable to hide it from her. “Is he out there?”

Apprehension crossed her face as she bit the inside of her cheek. “Cady,” she started slowly, her tone sad.

She didn’t need to say more. I’d known it was a gamble when we’d been given the date, yet part of me had clung to the idea that he would find a way to be there for me, the way I had always found it in me to do the right thing for him. My heart sank, the pain in my chest palpable once more. He really hadn’t come.

He’d made his choice. It wasn’t me. To him, I would never be anything more than a girl who took off her clothes for money. It didn’t matter how hypocritical that belief was, coming from him. I shook my head in an attempt to drive the horrible thought away. I’d expected more from him.

“How in the hell am I supposed to go out there? How can I possibly do this without him?”

Frankie’s brow furrowed as she crossed her arms over her chest and considered my questions. “The same way you do everything else. You get up, put one foot in front of the other, and kick ass.”

Inhaling sharply, I closed my eyes and spun my chair. When I opened them, I didn't recognize the woman staring back at me from the mirror. My typical frizzy mousy-light reddish brown mop had been styled in a sleek, soft wave, lengthened with the help of dozens of dark colored extensions. The smoky eye and contouring powder, added to the layers of foundation and creams, had transformed my face.

I might have looked like someone else on the outside, but I was still me. The awkward and introverted geek who hated to be the center of attention, yet needed to do whatever it took to finish school and get her degree. It didn’t matter what the men in the other room thought or what they said to, or about, me. This was all an illusion, the reflection had never really existed.

Unfortunately, I loved a man who struggled with that fact. It had been obvious for months that he was confused about his feelings, even though I’d clung to the hope that he cared about me as much as I did him. His absence tonight made it clear that I had been wrong.

“Fuck it.” I launched myself to my feet, smoothing my hands over the tight dark silver corset that hugged my curves, cinched my waist, and matched flawlessly with the pale gray sheer-strapped bra that both pushed my breasts together and gave them a lift. I fluffed the soft fabric of the layered navy blue and brown skirt that circled my hips, and straightened out the cascading ruffles of my hooded cape that fell to the floor behind me before I adjusted the leather cuffs around my wrists. With a deep breath, I turned to face Frankie, pure determination pumping through my veins. “Let’s go kick some ass.”

She reached for me as I approached, looping her arm through mine, and our steps synced as we made our way down the hall, stopping on the large bright neon green X that marked the spot in the wing. One of my friends worked the audience to a lighthearted beat, garnering loud hoots and obnoxious applause as she finished her routine.

Lost in memories of him, I barely noticed as Frankie nodded to someone at the edge of the curtain, and I didn’t hear one word the announcer uttered. When the lights faded and a staccato guitar and drum riff began to repeat, the entire room quieted. Led Zeppelin’s ‘Immigrant Song’ wasn’t part of my usual routine and the moment Frank recognized the tune her face paled slightly. She stiffened and gaped, her eyes burning my skin as they raked over me. I could almost read her disgusted thoughts as her gaze lingered on my meticulously planned outfit and the familiar fabric that Randy had worked tirelessly to make perfect.

My lips twisted into a sarcastic smirk as she shook her head, horrified. I lifted a shoulder, pretending not to care. He wasn’t there to see, so screw him.

I ignored the way her eyes suddenly narrowed and the sneer she gave my Nordic warrior goddess-like costume, complete with knee-high fur boots, I took an apprehensive step forward and tugged the hood over my head. He might not want me, but every single man in that room would before the night ended. He’d taught me just how easily it was to convince someone you were their entire world.

As the distinctive wail came from the speakers, I strutted out onto the stage with a swing of my hips, threw my arms into the air, and forced my thoughts away from him and the nuptials being celebrated on the other side of town, and refused to picture the man who probably looked dashing in his tux as he spun his breathtaking new bride around the ballroom, moving in only the way he did.

He might not be there to see my performance, but I carried him with me everywhere. I always would. I closed my eyes, conjuring the vision of the smile he gave only to me, and let my body move to the sound of his favorite song.

The beat transported me away and I got lost in the energy of the audience. As my hands caressed my sides and hips, and each piece of costume slowly dropped to the floor behind me, memories of how I’d gotten to that stage assaulted me. Even with the heartbreak, the happiest highs and the darkest lows, if I had the chance to do it all over, I wouldn’t change a thing.

I put my back to the audience, pulled open the last clip on my corset and glanced over my shoulder flirtatiously, before I spun the piece of fabric on a fingertip and tossed it to no one in particular. Whistles pierced the air, cheers of people who appreciated burlesque made me smile. I shimmied my shoulders and bumped my hips before covering my breasts playfully with my hands and turning, a wicked grin tugging at my lips. Slowly my gaze drifted around the room, looking for a man who needed a little extra attention.

Instead, a familiar face jumped out at me. The pair of dark eyes widened when I met them, then narrowed, filled with unbridled anger and resentment. I almost missed my step.

I ignored the pure bitterness that was aimed my way and turned back to my adoring fans, heart beating wildly. Ruffles McGee might not change a thing that had happened in the last few months because she loved her life. Cady Knowlton, on the other hand, wasn’t so sure.

An avid reader who loves epic and unconventional romance, Carina has an unhealthy obsession with Jason Statham, loves the sounds of Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson, is the crazy friend your mom warned you about, and believes one day she will go through the stones to meet Jamie Fraser. 

Carina has been writing and creating characters for as long as she can remember, allowing her to fall in love with the next man of her dreams with every new story.

None of which are anything like boring Prince Charming.

Thankfully, fate stepped in and granted her the ultimate wish - a life full of men. Carina lives in a picturesque New England town with her husband, the man who ruined the thought of all others, and two amazing sons who always keep her on her toes.


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