Category Archives: Contemporary New Adult

Love Surfaced by Michelle Lynn

 
 
 

 

 

 

The equations are simple.

Piper Ashby + Brad Ashby = Twin Siblings
Brad Ashby + Tanner McCain = Best Friends
Piper Ashby + Tanner McCain = Off limits
 
Tanner and I abided by the rules. We stayed on our designated sides of the relationship circle.
 
Ignoring swarming butterflies.
Brushing off skipped heartbeats.
Settling on lingering stares.
 
Here’s the secret … a hand extended over that invisible line once, exponentially changing the equation. I was convinced we could make our relationship work until Tanner broke the trust he embedded in me from the age of seven.
 
One deceit of mega proportions and the relationship we built for that short month vanished. I swore never to speak to him again and it’s worked. Until now—two years later, when my brother’s wedding places me face-to-face with the best man—Tanner McCain.
 

Leaving one equation to be solved. Can love surface twice?




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“Piper.” He hesitates before joining me on the cement stoop.
I question why he even searched me out even though it’s been his MO lately, popping up wherever I am.
He places his arm across my shoulders and pulls me into him, which only brings a
ripple of warmth to the pit of my stomach. “Come here.”
My head burrows into his strong chest, and his hand soothingly roams up and down my back. I sink into him. With the comfort of his arm, the tension in my
shoulders from placing fifth in my swim meet slowly releases.
Refusing to let him make my mind race with his confusing affection, I sit up. Swiping the tears from my eyes, I honestly confess, “Tanner, it was my last shot.”
He begins to shake his head, but I stop him, “No, I have to realize it. My dream
of swimming in the Olympics is over.” I rise to my feet, and the heaviness in
my chest sinks back into place now that I’m out of his embrace.
He follows me over to the oak tree. Coming up behind me, his hot breath tickles my neck. My pulse races into overdrive, reminding me of how badly I want him.
Why does he keep leading me on?
He continues to toe the line between friendship and more, but he never actually steps over it. Each time his hand brushes mine or his eyes search me out, my heart stops beating for a moment as I hope this is it—until he crushes the fluttering butterflies and steps away.
I close my eyes from the view of Michigan University’s football stadium because I
need to calm my insides. “Why are you here?”
He should be with my twin brother, preparing for their own meet.
“You should be in warm-ups.”
His hands land on my shoulders, and he leans down. At our connection, a tingle spreads through my body.
“I saw you leaving the pool house.” His voice cracks.
I hear his deep intake of breath.
“That’s not what I’m asking, Tanner.”
When I turn around, I almost collapse when I come face-to-face with this gorgeous guy. He’s absolutely one hundred percent the perfect male.
My perfect male.
His brown hair is tucked away in his MU hat that’s flipped backward. His lips and
cheeks are rosy from the early spring chill in the air. With only a sweatshirt and track pants on, he’s the epitome of a college student. His good looks remind me of the unbearable yearning that pulls me toward him.
His eyes are so transparent that I can see the torment of his inner turmoil from
our situation, meaning nothing has changed for him. He’s as conflicted as ever
because I’m his best friend’s sister.
“I don’t know.” His voice is soft, caressed with the sweetness he’s shown me the
last few months.
My stomach drops at his words. I want to grab his face with my hands and beg him to admit that the small seed of attraction has grown over the years and we can
no longer dodge around it.
Instead, I stand there, with my hands at my sides, silently pining for the day he
acknowledges our desire for one another.
“Then, that’s a problem.” My heart thumps as I sidestep him and weave through the sporadic clumps of snow that have yet to melt from the harsh winter. 






 





 
Michelle moved around the Midwest most of her life, transferring from school to school before settling down in the outskirts of Chicago ten years ago, where she now resides with her husband and two kids.  She developed a love of reading at a young age, which helped lay the foundation for her passion to write.   With the encouragement of her family, she finally sat down and wrote one of the many stories that have been floating
around in her head. When she isn’t reading or writing, she can be found playing with her kids, talking to her mom on the phone, or hanging out with her family and friends.  But after chasing around twin preschoolers all day, she always cherishes her relaxation time after putting the kids to bed.




 
 
 
 
 
 


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Deep Blue Eternity by Natasha Boyd

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Deep Blue Eternity

(Deep Blue Eternity #1)  By Natasha Boyd Publication date: March 26th 2015 Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

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Synopsis

Livvy is on the run. And she’s escaped to the one place nobody will ever find her.

But the isolated cottage isn’t empty. Her refuge is home to a troubled stranger, Tom, there for reasons of his own.

In the intimacy of the abandoned cottage, and the remote wilderness of the island, the electrifying connection between them is impossible to ignore. Both running from their histories and shielding dark secrets, their pasts catch up with them and collide in an unimaginable way.

Deep emotions and powerful chemistry face a painful battle with the tangle of lies, and scars of the past. When the truth emerges, hearts will be shattered.

“A captivating, heart-wrenching, beautifully written story about those who scar us and those who help us heal. I could not put it down and am still thinking about it!” – Mia Sheridan, New York Times Bestselling author of Archer’s Voice

“Boyd skillfully navigates the scorching physical desire and personal insecurities of her protagonists, crafting a relationship that is tense, torrid and sure to keep the pages turning.” ~ RT Book Reviews

“Fans of the Sea of Tranquility or Mia Sheridan will absolutely love this story.” ~ MissIngrid’s reviews.

“I can’t recall ever reading a novel that made me laugh, smile, cry… just, feel as much as this one did.” ~ Books over Bros Reviews

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Excerpt

He didn’t respond for hours. I was making a salad for dinner and opening a can of tuna that Fuckhead was going nuts over when he finally walked in, windswept and disheveled, in jeans and a white T-shirt. I stopped what I was doing to stare, and the cat leapt over my feet and between my legs, meowing repeatedly.
“Well, can I?” I asked.
“I don’t know. I have to do something for someone, but if I don’t, you can.” His eyes flicked to me briefly.
“Cryptic much?”
“Sorry, I just, uh, I just have some stuff going on right now.”
“With Bethany.”
“No. Yes. No, not to do with her.” He raked his hands through his hair, taming it, then headed to the fridge.
“Who are you?” I asked.
“What? What do you mean?”
“I mean, I thought we had a… a friendship or something, and I don’t understand what I’ve done wrong.” Addressing it made a weird emotional bubble grow in my chest, and my eyes started to sting.
He stopped and turned around.
I blinked rapidly, trying to dissipate any water that was collecting. The cat let out a mournful moan.
“You haven’t done anything wrong, Liv.”
“Then why do I feel like I have? Are…” I swallowed. “Are you disgusted with me now?”
“What?” he whispered. His face creased, like he was in pain and his eyes did a slow blink. Then he took a step toward me and just kept coming. And suddenly I was wrapped up in his arms, my face pressed into his hard chest, breathing him in. Breathing in his unique scent of laundry and male exertion and the fresh outdoors. Salt and weathered wood.
I froze, stiff with surprise from the sudden contact, then endured the brazen heat that immediately followed and whipped through my belly.
His head dropped on top of mine, and he breathed into my hair. “I know you don’t mean that.”
“Mean what?”
“How could I ever be disgusted with you? I—”
He lapsed into silence, just holding me. His chest was warm, his heart beating hard under my cheek.
Lifting my arms tentatively, I slid them around his waist. I thought I felt him shudder. His muscles were bunched tight, or he was tense. I didn’t know. He was hugging me. I could hug him back, right?
The cat embarked on a continuous series of desperate meows and threaded his body between our legs in a figure eight. I willed him to shut the hell up and stop ruining this moment, but it was no use.
Tom chuckled and pulled away.
“Fuckhead,” I growled vehemently at the cat, who proceeded to give me a nice view of his butt.
I looked up, and Tom was watching me, amused. He reached his hand up and slid it behind my head, and I stopped breathing. His gaze flicked to my mouth for a millisecond. My lips burned. My eyes fluttered closed as he drew me in and placed a soft kiss on my forehead. His beard, he’d taken to wearing clipped closer to his skin these days, torturing me with glimpses of his beauty, grazed my brow.
I swallowed the painful lump in my throat, my heart hammering.
He drew away slowly.
I kept my eyes closed. I couldn’t bear for him to see what mine must look like. Desperate. Yearning. Drowning in agony.
And the knowledge that I could never tell him how I felt, that I had to keep it locked in my heart where it couldn’t ruin this, was almost a comfort. I would be safe and able to stay here with him as long as I didn’t mess this up. God, and I’d come so close to messing it all up when I came on to him.
I hated the memory of myself, of who I’d been then. How could a person change so much in so short a time? It was both the beauty and the agony of my lot. Falling in love with him had forever altered me, but to let it out of my heart might lose him forever.

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Author Bio

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Natasha Boyd is an internationally bestselling and award-winning author with a background in marketing and public relations. Her debut novel Eversea was a finalist in the 2013 Winter Rose Contest for Contemporary Romance and won the 2014 Digital Book Award for Adult Fiction. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Georgia Romance Writers and Island Writer’s Network in coastal South Carolina where she has been a featured speaker on book marketing. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and lives with her husband, two sons and the cast of characters in her head.

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COVER REVEAL – A Taylor Made Love by Kary Rader

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BOOK & AUTHOR INFO: A Taylor-Made Love by Kary Rader  (Taylor-Made #2)  Publication date: May 2015 Genres: Contemporary, New Adult

 SYNOPSIS

When fate spares your life, your destiny is always love

Twenty-year-old widow and cancer survivor Taylor Smith-Taylor is running her late husband’s billion-dollar gaming business because she’s made a vow to keep TME—and Gavin’s memory—alive. But she’s falling hard for her sexy attorney Brad Richards, and it’s not just their professional connection that has her tied in knots.

When Taylor’s new idea takes off, she relies on Brad to help. Using company funds to back the innovative project, they begin a tumultuous affair and a multi-million dollar negotiation that could dominate the market or put the company in jeopardy.

As the corporate dealings escalate, their volatile relationship leaves their priorities more tangled than their bed sheets, and a fatal accounting error divides them. Brad pushes Taylor to embrace her idea, and him, by selling TME—a decision that, for her, goes deeper than money. When she refuses, it seems easier for both to walk away, and only a perspective from the grave can help her realize her future comes down to one choice: the love she’ll lose or the love she’ll make.

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Kary

Kary Rader is a stay-at-home mother of three, avid reader and slave to the characters and worlds inside her head.
Always creative, she’s drawn to stories with fantastical worlds and creatures. With a little bit of magic and divine guidance, there isn’t anything that can’t be accomplished with words. It’s the power of words that creates and destroys.
Vanquishing evil and injustice while finding eternal love in the process is all in a day’s work. And with the help of her critique partners and master cartographer imaginary places come to life.
Let the fantasy begin…

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Exotic Racing Crusader

Title: Exotic Racing Crusader (Exotic Racers #1)
Author: JORDANA mia LEZAMY 
Genre: Erotica, Contemporary Romance, New Adult

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EXOTIC CARS MEET A LOVE STORY 

“NOTHING IN LIFE IS A COINCIDENCE” 
It was the day of a special occasion in my life, when my entire future was rewritten and set on a new course

Or was this always part of destiny that I believed you cannot run from?

My Destiny. Now Ours. Together. Exclusively.

As I watched him at the show I never planned on attending – I was certain of one thing about his velocity:

ONLY GOD is capable of catching him. 

The moment we met, there was no looking back on a past life down a darkened and lonely road any longer.

Before him I had never dated anyone. Before him I lead a normal good-girl life.

With him my plus size curves and unique facial features are loved and adored beyond a passionate and lustful extent 

Beside him I became queen to the messiah of an exotic cars racing universe I defied heaven for

As fate would have it, regrets collected like old friends ready to relive both our darkest moments

It’s always darkest before the dawn, but to see the sunrise at the end of the finish line, there are SEVEN words of a pledge barricading the way:

Oath 
Griffin 
Blood 
Hypersonic 
Racers 
Breakneck 
League 

Cauterized words onto his soul that will decide if he is either a villain or a savior

The ultimate sacrifice must be made by him alone
Which will he choose? Which will he let go of? Which means more?

This is our journey
This is where our racing legacy with fast cars begin.


Contemporary, Erotica, New Adult, Romance : Due to strong language and sexual content, this book is not intended for readers under the age of 18.

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AUTHOR BIO

“You can’t run from Destiny…All Roads Lead to the same destination.” – I live by this self-made motto.
I’m addicted to Italian Ice-Cream & Exotic Fast Cars *this will be made VERY clear in my book*
My home is in the city of Lost Angels aka Los Angeles in the U.S.A
I am plus size full figured girl and so is my leading lady in my debut novel.
Single, 28 years of age, i am the middle sibling to an older brother and a younger sister.
I am loud, funny and i have no shame in life.
I only read dark themed novels or extreme alpha male storylines and i am addicted to music more than the average human should be. I cannot live without it especially 90’s music. I first started writing at the age of 13 years old where i had won awards in school for my writing skills and original storylines. Such as the one in my debut series Exotic Racers : Exotic Racing Crusader + Exotic Racing Commander + Exotic Racing Conqueror all to be released in 2015.
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Love Me Steady

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Love Me Steady
by Elle Vanzandt
Publication Date: December 31, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

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Synopsis

Penelope ‘Nellie’ Brennan has finally had it! Tired of her health problems holding her back, Nellie is determined to do just whatever she wants to do and no one is going to stop her. First item on the list for the determined 17-year old: secure a date to her first school formal dance. Second: find the perfect dress.

Brian Moss has agreed to a favor for his Mama: take her friend’s daughter to the girl’s first formal dance. All it took was a glance at Nellie for Brian’s interest to be piqued. He needed to know more.

What started out as a half-blind date, soon became so much more when Brian learns of Nellie’s big secret. Even after discovering the truth, Brian doesn’t run from her. Nellie is as surprised as those near and dear to her. But can Nellie trust him to stay? Will Brian be able to handle things when they get even harder? Can their quickly-deepening relationship survive the truth?

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About Elle Vanzandt

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Elle Vanzandt grew up a Navy brat who has had the privilege of living in many places but she will always call Illinois her home. A wife to a caring husband, a stay-at-home mom to two amazing children, a blogger, and a writer, she wears many hats. With determination and strength taught to her by her mother, she has made it through many obstacles, always sticking with the family motto ‘pull up your bootstraps and get it done’. Writing is an adventure she could have never predicted but is enjoying the ride all the same.

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Backstage by A.M. Madden

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Title: Backstage

Series: Back-Up #4

Author: A.M. Madden

Release Date: October 27, 2014

Genre: New Adult/Contemporary Romance

Synopsis

Trey Taylor was loving life. Bass player to the world famous rock band Devil’s Lair, chicks falling to their knees at every turn, no one to be held accountable to for his actions…life rocked.

He had all he needed, food to sustain his body, sex to sustain his libido, rock to sustain his soul. For years he walked to the beat of his own drum, and made no excuses to anyone. Running and hiding can temporarily distract your fate, but it won’t derail it. Fate was coming for him, whether he liked it or not.

His past was gaining ground and threatening all the secrets he desperately tried to hide. His present was slowing him down, making him feel emotions he buried years ago. The two are about to collide. Will Trey survive the impact?

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About the Author

AM Madden

Amazon Best Selling Author ~ A.M. Madden’s debut series is The Back-Up Series Back-Up, Front & Center, Encore, and Backstage are all available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

A.M. Madden is a wife, a mother, an avid reader of romance novels and now an author. In The Back-Up Series she aspired to create a fun, sexy, realistic romantic story. She wanted to create characters that the reader could relate to and feel as if they knew personally. A self-proclaimed hopeless romantic, she loves getting lost in a good book. She also uses every free moment of her time writing, while raising teenage boys.

Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Website ~ Goodreads ~ Amazon Author Page

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$50 Amazon Gift Card, (2) Signed Paperback by A.M. Madden – Winner’s Choice, (2) Swag Pack from A.M. Madden, and (5) ebook from A.M. Madden – Winner’s Choice

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Book Blitz – Rewriting History

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Rewriting History
by Carly Grey, Missy Johnson
Publication Date: November 7, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

Blitz: Rewriting History by Missy Johnson and Carly Grey

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Synopsis

What do you do when being with the man you love is forbidden?

You hide it.

Our relationship is secret, because he is my teacher.

For the next six months I have to pretend he is nothing more.

We sneak around like we are ashamed of how we feel.

We steal kisses or the touch of a hand when nobody is watching.

The problem is, somebody is always watching

And when things go wrong, they have the potential to ruin everything.

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About Carly Grey

Carly Grey lives on the Gold Coast with her hubby & 2 cats and has a passion for romance novels.

About Missy Johnson

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Missy lives in a small town in Central Victoria with her husband, and her confused pets (a dog who think she’s a cat, a cat who thinks he’s a dog…you get the picture).

When she’s not writing, she can usually be found looking for something to read.

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Nobody Knows by Kyra Lennon

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Title:
Nobody Knows (Razes Hell Book 1)

Author: Kyra Lennon

Genre: NA Contemporary Romance

Cover Design: Najila Qamber Design

Photographer: Lindee Robinson Photography

Synopsis:

It’s not easy being friends with rising rock stars – especially when you’re the glue that holds them together.

Razes Hell has taken off in the charts, and Ellie can’t believe her childhood friends, Drew and Jason Brooks, are on TV and drawing crowds after years spent playing in dodgy bars. From obscurity to overnight success, Ellie soon realizes life in the public eye isn’t all it’s cracked up to be as dark secrets become headline news and old conflicts are re-ignited. When a fake feud meant to boost the band’s popularity threatens to rip the boys apart for real, Ellie finds herself torn – a position which only gets more uncomfortable when her loyalty to Jason collides with her blossoming relationship with Drew.

Nobody knows how deep their issues run; nobody but Ellie. With friendship, a music career and a new love on the line, can Ellie keep their tangled pasts from ruining their futures?

Pre-order links: AMAZON | AMAZON UK

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kyra-lennonAuthor Bio:

Kyra is a self-confessed book-a-holic, and has been since she first learned to read. When she’s not reading, you’ll usually find her hanging out in coffee shops with her trusty laptop and/or her friends, or girling it up at the nearest shopping mall.

Kyra grew up on the South Coast of England and refuses to move away from the seaside which provides massive inspiration for her novels. Her debut novel, Game On (New Adult Contemporary Romance), was released in July 2012, and she scored her first Amazon Top 20 listing with her New Adult novella, If I Let You Go.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Goodreads

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Zane Inked Brotherhood #3 by Jo Raven

Title: Zane, book 3

Series: Inked Brotherhood (Book 3)

Author: Jo Raven

Genre: Contemporary New Adult Romance (steamy) / lickable angsty romance

Blurb:

They call me Zen-man, the cool-headed one, the protector. I keep an eye out for everyone, taking them in, finding them homes. They think I’m the calm and collected one, the self-assured one, the one who knows the way. They think they see me. They think they know me.

But they’re all wrong, because inside I’m broken. I have a jagged hole in my soul I can’t fix, a festering blackness. I’ve been to the pits of hell and nobody comes back unscathed. Life in foster care fucked me up, and now a thread is all that’s holding me together. 

So I sleep around and never date, keeping chicks away. One day I’ll snap, and when I do, there’s no telling who I might take down with me. 

All the same, there’s this one girl who won’t be scared away. Dakota. She’s hot and I won’t deny I want her. But she keeps coming back, needling me, trying to get me to talk, to open up to her. 

She has no idea she’s playing with fire. When the demons come, she’d better be far away from me, just like everyone else.

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Zane Excerpt

Zane’s here.

He’s standing with his back to the wall, arms folded over his broad chest, his slanted eyes on me, hot and intense. His Mohawk is tall as ever, and the silver studs in his ears and the hoops in his brow glint. I scan him from his exotic face to the faded black T-shirt stretched over his pecs, down to his ripped jeans, and I struggle for breath.

Gah. He’s too handsome to be real. Too handsome to be interested in me. And yet here he is, and I can’t miss the bulge on the front of his jeans. He’s obviously hard, and the realization makes me feel hot. The tips of my breasts tighten painfully.

What is it about this boy that makes me lose my train of thought? Deciding I want to break through his defenses is one thing—but what he does to my body even with one look should be illegal.

“You came,” I blurt, and instantly wish I had swallowed my tongue instead.

He cocks his head to the side, eyes heavy-lidded. “Almost,” he whispers, and oh God, the boy is sexy as hell. “You have an awesome voice. Never heard anything like it.”

My face flames. “Thanks.”

I step off the stage, and he grabs my hand, steadying me. His fingers are callused and warm, his grip like steel.

“Hey, Koko, you okay?” Luke calls out.

“Fine. Just need a moment backstage. Yeah?”

“Koko?” Zane arches a dark brow at me.

“Yeah, the guys call me that.”

“I prefer Dakota.”

God, me, too, especially when Zane is speaking it in his low, warm voice.

Besides… ‘Koko’ brings back too many bad memories. I’m not that girl anymore, the girl who trusted Collin with her life and almost died for it.

I head toward the small backstage room, and he doesn’t release my hand. He follows me inside and closes the door, then turns the lock.

Before I ask what he’s doing, he slams me back against the wall, his muscled body pinning me, so that I feel every defined ridge and plane of his chest. He’s breathing hard.

Speaking of hard… The rod of his erection is trapped sideways inside his jeans, and its heat seeps through the fabric, branding my flesh.

“What are you doing to me?” he breathes, his strong hand trailing down my neck and slipping the strap of my blouse off my shoulder. “What the hell are you doing to me?”

I should stop him, but his fingertips send electric shocks down my spine. He lowers his face toward me, and my lips part in anticipation. He’s going to kiss me, I think, as his breath brushes the corner of my mouth—but he doesn’t. He trails his mouth over my cheek, along my jaw, under my ear. The touch of his lips—hot and soft—tortures me, arousing me more and more, as he bares my shoulder, and draws patterns on my skin.

I struggle to swallow a moan, my nipples pressed against his chest, tiny pinpricks of pain and pleasure. His hand tangles in my hair, tipping my head back for better access, and his mouth brands my neck, sending electric discharges right into my core. Fire coils low inside of me.

Oh God, I think I’m about to come just from his lips on my neck and his fingertips on my shoulder. I have to do something to stop him. Stop myself.

I place my hands on his chest. “Ink me, Zane,” I whisper.

His mouth leaves my neck, and when he looks down at me, his eyes are so dark with need they seem black. His breathing is ragged. “Don’t.”

“I want it.” It’s more than a game now, more than familiar teasing. I need his touch so much it’s scary as hell. I’m throbbing everywhere, and I feel wet between my legs. This has never happened to me before. It’s as if the ground has been yanked from under my feet. It’s like freefall, and I hate falling.

“Tell me what you want.” He braces an arm on the wall by my head and licks his lips. He doesn’t kiss me. Why won’t he kiss me?

“You know what I want,” I say.

 

He leans closer again, his male musk scent surrounding me, and how can I think straight when my hands are on his rippling abs, his mouth is inches from mine, and his hardness keeps pressing into my belly?

 

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Author Bio



Jo Raven writes New Adult erotic romance. She loves sexy bad boys and strong willed heroines, and divides her time between writing and reading. When not cooking up plots, she putters in her cluttered kitchen and dreams of traveling to India and Japan.



Links to stalk Jo Raven:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJoRaven

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorJoRaven

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8161577.Jo_Raven

Website: http://joraven.com/blog/

 

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/jo-raven/e/b00kbz63fa

Other books in the series:

Asher:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1osI54A

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1yXgJHg

Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/1tKhwtP

Tyler:

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The Art of Love by Michele Shriver

The Art of Love by Michele Shriver
Published on October 21, 2014

 

Chelsea Matthews has a simple dream—travel the country on the art fair circuit selling
her hand-crafted jewelry. When her disapproving father refuses to release her
trust fund money to support her ambitions, she takes a part-time job in a campus
gallery. While counting the days until she can be free of its stuffy confines,
an unexpected temptation comes in the form of a sensitive painter.
For Hayden Shaw, having his paintings displayed in the finest galleries is the true
measure of an artist’s success. When the pursuit of his goal puts him in
contact with the free-spirited Chelsea, his world is turned upside down.
Can two seemingly opposite artists find middle ground and discover the art of love,
or will a gallery curator with an agenda of her own undermine both their
dreams?
Hayden Shaw stopped and took a deep breath. Whittier Gallery. The name was etched on the door, and underneath that, in smaller letters, Marissa Kincaid, Curator. Was she the woman who would change his life?
A chime sounded as Hayden pulled the door open and walked inside, a portfolio of his work tucked under his arm. He had a pitch prepared as to why this particular gallery should feature his art. That same pitch hadn’t gone over well at the last gallery he visited, but he was
undeterred.
A woman sat behind the desk talking on the phone and she gestured in his direction that she was almost finished. Not wanting to eavesdrop, Hayden nodded and wandered in the direction of one of the displays. It featured oil painted scenes of the Boston Harbor, and he couldn’t deny the skill of the artist. Did Hayden’s own work belong here? Was he good enough?
No negative thoughts, Shaw, he chastised himself. Hayden remembered the pep talk his roommate had given him before he left. He had to be bold and confident.
“Sorry to keep you waiting. Can I help you?”
Hayden turned around to face the woman as she stepped out from behind the desk. “I hope so. Are you Ms. Kincaid?” As he studied her face, though, Hayden doubted it. The woman facing him didn’t appear much older than his own twenty years. He doubted she was old enough to be in charge of a prestigious art gallery.
She shook her head and tucked a wayward strand of light brown hair behind her ear. “No. I’m Chelsea Matthews. I just work here.”
“Hayden Shaw.” He extended his hand. “It’s nice to meet you.”
“What can I do for you?”
“I’m a student here at MassArt,” Hayden said. “I understand you display student work, and I have a portfolio with some pictures of my paintings—”
“Pictures?” Chelsea interrupted, “or paintings?”
Hadn’t he made that clear? Hayden tried again. “I’m painter and I’m interested in having my paintings displayed here. I do photo-realism, so they’re paintings based on photographs. I didn’t want to lug the originals all the way across campus, so I brought pictures of them.”
“So, pictures of paintings of pictures is what you’re saying.” Chelsea’s face carried an amused expression, and Hayden wasn’t sure how to take it. Was she making fun of him, or rather his style? Not everyone understood or appreciated photo-realism. Maybe this gallery wasn’t the right place after all. Or was she simply trying to joke around? He didn’t always get people with quirky senses of humor.
“I guess you could say that.” He set the portfolio on the desk. “Would you like to see them?”
“I could look at them, but it’s not up to me whether the gallery will showcase your work,” Chelsea said. “Can you leave this so I can show Marissa?”
“Sure. I can do that.”
“Good. She should be back in a little later,” she said. “Can I ask you something, though?”
Hayden nodded. “Fire away.”
“Why here?”
He had the speech prepared as to why he felt this gallery was a good fit, but truthfully it wasn’t much different than the one he gave at the previous gallery. Besides, he didn’t think that was what she wanted to hear. “I’m not sure what you mean?”
“I mean what’s the appeal here? What’s so special about galleries?”
Was she serious? She worked in a gallery, and she wanted him to tell her what was special about them? “I want people to see my work.”
“Then why not display it around campus? In the classroom buildings, stairwells, wherever. People do.”
He knew that. It was impossible to walk anywhere on the MassArt campus without seeing student artwork on display. While it made for an interesting environment, seeing paintings in stairwells, sculptures on the grass and metal works hanging from a tree, Hayden didn’t quite understand why it was such a popular thing to do. “I want people to be able to appreciate my work.”
“Who’s to say that the folks walking down Huntington Avenue can’t appreciate it?”
She had a point, and Hayden was left unsure how to respond. “It’s not the same.”
“You mean you want someone to appreciate it by buying it.” Her lips curled up in a smile. “Am I right, Hayden Shaw?”
She was, and Hayden hated how materialistic she made him sound. He stuck his hands in the back pockets of his jeans and averted his gaze to the floor.
“Oh please, don’t be embarrassed.” Chelsea laughed. “Making money is a noble goal. I certainly want to make money from my art.”
“You’re an artist too?” Hayden regarded her with curiosity. “What kind? Are you a student here?”
“Yes. Jewelry and metalsmithing major.” She reached up and touched the necklace she wore, holding it out for him to see. “I made this.”
For the first time, Hayden examined it. It looked to be made out of Scrabble tiles, spelling out the letters F-R-E-E. Art was definitely in the eye of the beholder, but he found the necklace oddly appealing, much like the woman who wore it. “It’s very unique,” he said. “Are
you? Free, that is?”
Mischief danced in her hazel eyes. Pretty eyes, he decided. Not unlike the rest of her. “It depends on the context in which you’re asking.”
“A woman of mystery. I like that,” Hayden said, then wished he could take the words back. The conversation had veered dangerously close to flirting, which probably wasn’t wise given that he hoped to have a business relationship with this gallery. “Is your work on display
here?” His eyes scanned the gallery showroom for any cases that might house jewelry.
She shook her head. “No. Galleries aren’t my thing, and my work’s not Marissa’s thing.” She shrugged. “I’m hoping to go on the art fair circuit this summer, after graduation.”
“Art fairs?” Hayden frowned.
“Yeah. You know, like Ann Arbor. Des Moines. Kansas City.”
Why would anyone pass on a prestigious gallery in Boston in favor of the capital of Iowa or a city most famous for barbecue? 
“Are you from the Midwest?” Hayden asked.
“No. New Hampshire.”
“Then I don’t see a connection,” Hayden said.
“The cities I just mentioned host some of the best art fairs in the country,” Chelsea said. “Surely you’ve heard of them.” She said it as if she expected everyone had.
Hayden shook his head. “Sorry to disappoint you, but no. Art fairs aren’t really my thing.” He didn’t get the appeal of traveling to cities in the middle of nowhere, peddling art on the street. “No offense, but have you considered aiming a little higher?” Okay, so the Scrabble
necklace was kind of strange. Some people liked strange.
The amusement that once reflected in her eyes faded, and Hayden knew at once that his words had offended her. “No offense, but have you?” She retorted before turning away from him. “I’ll show Marissa your pictures when she gets back.”
 
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Michele
Shriver writes women’s fiction and contemporary romance. Her books feature
flawed-but-likable characters in real-life settings. She’s not afraid to break
the rules, but never stops believing in happily ever after. In her free time,
Michele enjoys football, hockey and reading a good book written by someone
else.
 
Website: www.micheleshriver.com
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