New Release ~ Seductive Nights ~ Lauren Blakely

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We are thrilled to bring you the release day launch for Lauren Blakely’s SEDUCTIVE NIGHTS: The Standalone Novels. This box set features both standalone novels from the New York Times Seductive Nights Series, NIGHTS WITH HIM and FORBIDDEN NIGHTS in one place!

A Message from Lauren:

Surprise! I’ve packaged the two standalone novels in the Seductive Nights series in a box set for the first time! This limited time, three-day sale is a savings of 80% off the cost of the two books if purchased individually and the first time to get these books on sale! So if you’ve been wanting to read one or both of these titles, now is your chance! The price of this box set goes up in just a few days! Don’t miss your chance to grab both of these sexy, passionate books for just $.99 each while you can!

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The Seductive Nights: The Standalone Novels Box Set will be at its lowest price ever as an introductory rate at just $1.99 for a limited time only, but this price will go up following its release!

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ABOUT SEDUCTIVE NIGHTS: The Standalone Novels Box Set:

Seductive Nights: The Standalone Novels is a box set of the two New York Times Bestselling standalone novels in the wildly popular SEDUCTIVE NIGHTS series by bestselling romance author Lauren Blakely.

NIGHTS WITH HIM

Jack Sullivan is a Sex Toy Mogul. An extremely eligible bachelor in New York, he’s the full package, right down to his full package. Hell, this man could be the model for one of the toys his company, Joy Delivered, peddles. Instead, he’s the powerful and successful CEO and he’s got commitment issues a mile-long after the tragic way his relationship with his fiancée ended. He’s looking for a way to erase the pain and that arrives in the form of Michelle Milo. From her pencil skirts to her high heels, she’s his perfect fantasy, especially since she has no idea who he is the night they meet at a hotel bar. He doesn’t have a clue either that she’s the brilliant psychologist his sister has arranged for him to see to help him get over his past. His touch helps her forget that other man. When he shows up at her office door the next day, there’s no way in hell she’s going to treat him after they’ve slept together. Jack isn’t willing to let go of the first woman he’s felt anything for in years so he proposes a deal – share her nights with him for thirty days. At the end of one month of exquisite pleasure, they walk away, having helped each other move on from their haunted pasts. But soon, all those nights threaten to turn into days as the lines between lust and matters of the heart start to blur. Can two people so terribly afraid of love truly fall head over heels?

FORBIDDEN NIGHTS

She has been the star of his dirty dreams for years. Sexy hotel CEO Nate Harper has lusted after his good friend Casey Sullivan for a long time, and she’s cried out his name in pleasure countless times in his fabulously filthy fantasies. But even though he’s quite skilled at pleasing a woman, he won’t act on his intense desire because he knows he’s no good for her. After the kind of hurt his ex inflicted on him, he’s a committed playboy for life, and Casey only wants true love. All that changes one hot night when she comes to him with a proposition he can’t resist — she wants him to teach her to be submissive in the bedroom. Casey soon learns how very much she likes letting go of control to him. She’s never been more turned on in her life than she is in Nate’s arms. And he’s never been more taken by a woman. The only trouble is as she experiences what it means to let go, he starts to experience what it means to feel again…And the lessons in seduction threaten to turn into so much more than either one bargained for… What happens when years of desire and lust ignite a passion that can’t be denied?

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✦ Amazon Paperback➙ http://amzn.to/1hmv5v5

✦ iBooks US ➙

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✦ B&N ➙

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✦ GooglePlay ➙

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Finished the Seductive Nights Series and need more of Lauren Blakely’s smoldering men? Check out her Sinful Nights Series for more steamy nights! The second book, SINFUL DESIRE, is headed your way on September 22nd and you won’t believe what Lauren has cooked up for you! Check out this amazing SINFUL DESIRE contest!

Feeling the Desire to have a Sinful night of your own? Then you’ll want to take the Sinful Nights quiz and answer fun trivia questions about the Sinful Nights series! To celebrate the release of SINFUL DESIRE on September 22nd, Lauren is giving away a $500 gift card for a stay at the Ritz Carlton nearest you!*

Everything you need to turn your fantasy into reality and enter the Sinful Nights contest during release week can be found in the back of the SINFUL DESIRE eBook, including the short quiz on the book that you have to complete to enter the contest. The SINFUL DESIRE eBook is the ONLY location with the link to the quiz. The release week contest runs through Saturday, September 26, ONLY, so you’ll have to make this read a quickie to enter to win this awesome prize! In addition to the grand prize, there are several other great prizes in the giveaway!

So preorder your copy of SINFUL DESIRE today and mark your calendars for September 22nd! Get ready to ignite your passion and dive into SINFUL DESIRE on release day!

*Please note: If you are the winner and there is no Ritz Carlton near you, you may opt to receive a $500 gift card to any Marriott property, or Marriott-owned hotel.

** If you purchase the paperback and would like to participate in the contest, please contact me at lauren@laurenblakely.com for instructions.

lauren-blakely-authorAbout Lauren Blakely:

Lauren Blakely writes sexy contemporary romance novels with heat, heart, and humor, and she has had eight books on the New York Times Bestseller list and fourteen on the USA Today Bestseller list. Like the heroine in her novel, FAR TOO TEMPTING, she thinks life should be filled with family, laughter, and the kind of love that love songs promise. Lauren lives in California with her husband, children, and dogs. She loves hearing from readers! Her bestselling series include Sinful Nights, Seductive Nights, No Regrets, Caught Up in Love, and Fighting Fire. She recently released SWEET SINFUL NIGHTS, the first novel in her new sexy romance series Sinful Nights that became an instant New York Times Bestseller. Her new adult forbidden romance, 21 Stolen Kisses, hit e-readers in May and landed on the USA Today Bestseller list. In September, she’ll release SINFUL DESIRE, her next title in the bestselling SINFUL NIGHTS series. She also writes for young adults under the name Daisy Whitney. To receive an email when Lauren releases a new book, text BLAKELY + your email address to 678-249-3375 (please use the actual + sign).

Website ** Facebook ** Twitter ** Lauren Blakely Goodreads

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New Release ~ Deadly ~ Ker Dukey

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Title: Deadly (an Empathy novella)

Release Date: August 24,2015

Genre: Dark Thriller

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Normal is not something Ryan and Cereus have ever been, where’s the fun in normal?

When Cereus’s dreams follow her into the waking hours, she has to come to terms with the fact, Ryan is not the only monster in her madness.
That she herself… can be just as deadly.

*Must be read after Vacant to fully enjoy this novel

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IF YOU ARE NOT REVIEWING PLEASE REMOVE THESE WORDS & THE REVIEW GRAPHIC!
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I have always had a passion for storytelling, whether it be through lyrics or bed time stories with my sisters. I wanted to be an actress growing up so I could live many roles but I learned early on that my mind was too active… I would want to change the script.I would watch films and think of ways they could have improved the story if they took another direction so i thought it best that i tell my own.

My mum would always have a book in her hand when I was young and passed on her love for reading, inspiring me to venture into writing my own. I tend to have a darker edge to my writing. Not all love stories are made from light, some are created in darkness but are just as powerful and worth telling.

When I’m not lost in the world of characters I love spending time with my family. I’m a mum and that comes first in my life but when I do get down time I love attending music concerts or reading events with my younger sister.

You can find me on Facebook where I love interacting with my readers.

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Website / Facebook / Newsletter / Twitter / Goodreads / Amazon /Tsu

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Cover Reveal ~ Tequila And Lace ~ Kimberly Knight

Available September 28, 2015

Pre-Order on Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1E8bvfS

Pre-Order on Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1JoEL2w

Pre-Order on B&N: http://bit.ly/1LnmqoR

Pre-Order on iBooks: http://apple.co/1PCoibS

Pre-Order on Kobo: http://bit.ly/1NIh6K9

Army Strong and dripping with sin …

Paul Jackson had his dreams mapped out. He’d graduate from high school, attend college, go pro for football, marry his high school sweetheart and live happily ever after. Until his high school sweetheart threw away everything he never knew he wanted. Throwing caution to the wind, he put his country’s dreams before his own.

The Army was a perfect distraction from her. It helped him become a man. To serve, to protect, to fight, to become strong. But when Paul returns home after three tours, he knows there’s nothing better than sexy woman, a shot of tequila and a pocket full of cash.

But he still thinks about her

Joselyn Marquez’s life changed the night of her seventeenth birthday. A forty-eight hour roller coaster trip sent her running for her life. She was homeless, and her family had disappeared. All odds were against her.

But sometimes the odds work out.

Years later, she’s an FBI agent serving as an undercover escort to investigate sex trafficking in Las Vegas. When the investigation connects her past, will she be able to do the right thing or will she still keep running from the night of her seventeenth birthday?

Tensions will rise.

Sparks will fly.

Passions will soar.

And the past will come knocking …

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About Kimberly Knight

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Kimberly Knight lives in the mountains near a lake with her loving husband and spoiled cat, Precious. In her spare time, she enjoys watching her favorite reality TV shows, watching the San Francisco Giants win World Series and the San Jose Sharks kick butt. She’s also a two time Desmoid tumor/cancer fighter that’s made her stronger and an inspiration to her fans. Now that she lives near a lake, she plans on working on her tan and doing more outdoor stuff like watching hot guys waterski. However, the bulk of her time is dedicated to writing and reading romance and erotic fiction.


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Cover Reveal ~ One: @ collection of short stories

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Blind Date by Emma Hart ~ Blind Dates are the work of the devil… especially when your date could be the devil. My name is Bee Donnelly,
and I’m a serial one-nighter. Carter Hughes is tonight’s Kryptonite.
One Night with Harrison by Heidi McLaughlin ~ Alicia Tucker has had her eyes set on Harrison James from the beginning and all she wants is one
night to prove she’s the one for him.
A Vegas Love by Jillian Dodd ~ Boy (so freaking hot) meets girl. On that drunken night, they hook-up (twice), then decide to party in
Vegas, and end up getting married. Consummate said marriage (quite a few times) then girl sneaks out in the morning.
Lucky by JM Darhower ~ One night. That’s all Maddalena Bazzoli has left before family duty kicks in. Tomorrow, she’ll be a committed woman, so
tonight? Tonight she’s getting lucky and throwing caution to the wind.
One Taste by LP Dover ~ All Luke wanted was one night with the girl he wanted, but didn’t deserve. When he finally gets her, one taste might
not be enough. Unfortunately, it’s all he’s going to get.
Before the Wreckage by Melissa Collins ~ It’s been eighteen years since David Andrews has seen Grace McCann. One night she’s in his dream
and the next she’s in his reality.
Hold It Against Me by Alivia Anders ~ Alyssa Grace is determined to settle an age-old score, one that Mason Weston will never forget.
They say the easier way to get something out of your system is to indulge in the fantasy.
Prelude by Anna Cruise ~ After a fight with his on-again, off-again girlfriend, the last thing Nash needs is a mysterious stranger
knocking on his door in the middle of the night. Because as beautiful as she is, their encounter will only be a prelude to much uglier things headed his
way.
Thou Shall Not Fall in Love by AO Peart ~ What happens when a frustrated-with-her-love-life professional matchmaker meets a
committed-to-celibacy divorce attorney? An explosive and delicious mixture of wild sex and brazen humor neatly wrapped in a friends-with-benefits agreement.
Quintessence by Cameo Renae ~ One night. One stolen moment. One complete stranger. One bite. That’s all it took to change Kate’s life forever.
A Frigid Encounter by Jennifer Foor ~ A winter storm brings a woman and man together during dire circumstances.
One Night Wife by Kelly Walker ~ Cole wants one night with a
pretty face before he deploys with his unit in two days, but the last thing he
expects is for his childhood crush to open the door. With only one night to
spend together, can they make up for a lifetime of missed opportunities?
Only Once by Julia Crane ~ With only months to live, Meghan Clarke throws caution to the wind when she meets an arrogant stranger who makes
her feel more alive than she has in years.
A Night Worth Dying For by Lizzy Ford ~ In a city at the mercy of a serial killer, Alicia Donovan takes a chance on a handsome stranger – and
will never be the same again. Erotic thriller.
Finding Skye by Morgan Black ~ Skye Kellan just wants a body to snuggle up against during the lonely nights that remind her of a dark past. One
night with a potential client, is exactly the release she needs. No nightmares
when you don’t sleep, right?
Shattering all the Rules by Savannah Rylan ~ A rare night off. A girls night out. When Simon meets Carolina, neither can deny themselves any
longer, and both decided it’s time to shatter all the rules.
Press Your Luck by SE Anderson ~ Marko Veltriv is used to getting what he wants, but there’s always been one thing he knows even he can’t
have. Coogan MacNeal is a stranger with a dangerous temptation–one night, indulging in his risky fantasy. How can Marko possibly resist?
Surprised by You by Steph Nuss ~ Tessa Wilder is in for a night of surprises when Justin Jameson offers her a ride home.
 

New Release ~ Capture ~ Rachel Van Dyken

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Losing your ability to speak at the age of seventeen; it’s not normal or fair.
But trauma, has a way of throwing normality out the window.
Dani lives anything but a normal life.
Her sister is married to one of the biggest names in Hollywood.
Her best friends are rockstar duo AD2.
And she has more love around her than most people experience in a lifetime.
But that doesn’t change the fact their parents are dead.
Or that it’s her fault.

It seems her new normal is being a mute, living on the inside, unable to actually communicate on
the outside.
That is until Hollywood’s newest heartthrob Lincoln Greene hires her as his assistant for the summer. 
He’s gorgeous, completely unavailable, and unobtainable.
But that doesn’t stop her from wondering…if things were different…would he want her?
If she was whole, would he be the other half? 

 

 

 




 

EXCERPT
 
“Finally!” Jaymeson pointed at both of us. “Lincoln, show her to her mark. Dani, for this scene you’re simply staring at him like you want to eat him. Think you can do that?”
I nodded.
Any woman could do that.
Most men too.
“Cue music!” Jaymeson called out. “Action.”
A techno mix of AD2’s latest song filled the air as the extras started dancing around us. I stayed glued to the wall while Lincoln delivered his lines to Pris, and then he lifted his head, meeting my gaze.
It’s just a movie. It’s just a movie.
The breath left my chest on one slow exhale as he moved toward me, his body making fluid purposeful movements through the crowd.
My lips parted; my entire body felt heavy as he approached.
He stopped in front of me, his forehead grazing mine as he leaned in a few inches. Our breath mingled as the music and scene faded around me.
“Cut!” Jaymeson yelled.
Holy crap on a cracker. I almost experienced my first stroke — at seventeen.
“You okay?” Lincoln’s eyebrows knit together in concern.
I licked the lipstick from my lips and nodded quickly.
Jaymeson approached. “Time for the kiss, remember kissing, not hockey. Clearly, you were confused earlier.”
Lincoln gritted his teeth and let out a little groan.
I patted his arm and grinned, my way of encouraging him. He seemed to pale more.
My stomach sank.
Maybe it was me.
I was the problem.
Not the kiss, but me. If he’d had trouble kissing my gorgeous sister, how was he going to be able to kiss me?
“Hey…” Lincoln cupped my cheek. “… focus on me, nothing else, alright? It’s only us.”
I nodded.
“You ever been to a party?”
I rolled my eyes.
“Ever made out with a guy at a party that wasn’t your boyfriend?”
I thought about it then slowly shook my head.
“So that’s what this scene is about. It’s about a guy seeing a girl from across the room and wanting her so badly that he’s willing to cheat on his own girlfriend for just one taste. Granted, he’s supposedly drunk and high, but that just takes the romance out of it, doesn’t it?”
He released my cheek and stepped back. “Imagine you’re trying to attract me, make your body as inviting as possible. Hell, just stand there and look at me, and you’ll sell it.”
Sell it. I repeated the words in my mind.
I could do that.
Because I wanted him to kiss me.
It made my heart beat faster.
My blood pump harder.
And for the first time since my parents’ death, I was actually excited about something. Nervous, but excited.
“Okay,” I mouthed.
I must have surprised him again because his eyes darkened, and then he grinned. “One day, Dani. One day I’m going to hear my name coming from that gorgeous mouth of yours, and I’m not going to be held responsible for my actions… damn the consequences.”
My breath hitched.
“Quiet on set! And action!”
There was no warning. Suddenly, Lincoln’s mouth was fused against mine, no teeth, just his soft lips pushing, prodding, moving slowly back and forth until his tongue slid through and made contact with mine.
Heart racing, I opened my mouth enough to deepen the kiss as heat washed over me.
He groaned and dug his fingers into my shoulders then slid his hands down my back and gripped my butt. I let out a squeak of surprise as I flicked his tongue with mine.
“Cut!” Jaymeson yelled.
I kept kissing.
So did Lincoln.
His chest brushed roughly against mine; my breasts ached at the sharp contact. I let out a little hiss at the exact time Linc let out a groan and nudged his knee between my legs.
“Cut!” Jaymeson yelled again.
Slowly, Lincoln pried himself away from me, chest heaving.
“Good enough,” said Jaymeson.
“No,” Lincoln argued without taking his wild grey eyes off me, “I went off script. We need to do it again.”
“The hell you do,” someone mumbled. I wasn’t surprised to see Demetri glaring daggers at Lincoln’s back. Alec was next to Jaymeson, giving him an earful. I noted the strong tick in his jaw.
“Fine.” Jaymeson waved them both off. “We’ll do it again.”
“Take two, and action!”
This time the kiss was slow, languid in its movements. Hot waves of pleasure coursed through my body as his tongue slid seductively pass my lips. His taste, the feel of his mouth was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. Greedily, I moaned, desperate for more of him as I reached for his shirt then fisting it with my hands and tugging him tighter against my body, wanting more contact with him. I felt every plane of muscle as he slowly turned us so his back was semi facing the camera. His knee nudged my legs apart as pressure increased down the middle of my body. I hadn’t really looked long at the script, but I was pretty sure that this wasn’t part of it.
Not that I was complaining.
He rocked into me, my back connected with the wall. With a possessive growl, he nipped my lower lip then started kissing down my neck. Kissing in public had never been my thing — but maybe that was because I’d never kissed Lincoln.
I would kiss him anywhere.
All he needed to do was ask.
Body humming with pleasure, I let out a little gasp as his warm lips met the pulse on my neck. Then his tongue licked where his lips had just been.
His knee rose higher and higher as my body sank onto his; the first contact of his leg had my body screaming with pleasure — just a little higher, just a little more.
“Cut!” someone shouted, though it didn’t sound like Jaymeson.
Suddenly, Demetri was pulling Lincoln away from me and glaring daggers at both of us. “I think you guys got the scene.”
Embarrassed, I looked down, tucking my silky hair behind my ear. Did I really almost just dry hump Lincoln Greene’s leg? In front of about twenty people, including my sister?
“You sure?” Lincoln asked, voice hoarse. I glanced up at him, his chest was heaving with exertion, his lips swollen. “Because I could have sworn I messed up my lines.”
“There are no lines, you bastard,” Demetri muttered under his breath.
“Damn it!” Jaymeson shouted. “Hey, guys, I’m going to need you to shoot it one more time. Remember, Lincoln, you’re supposed to proposition her.”
Lincoln grinned smugly at Demetri.
Demetri didn’t move.
 

 

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!

Want to be kept up to date on new releases? Text MAFIA to 66866!

You can connect with her on Facebook www.facebook.com/rachelvandyken
or join her fan group Rachel’s New Rockin Readers. Her website is www.rachelvandykenauthor.com 


Cover Reveal ~ Wet ~ Ruth Clampet

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Hi Everyone, my name is Paul and I’m a recovering sex addict. I’ve been managing my addiction for two years.

Paul McNeill loves sex.  Good sex. Bad sex. Oral sex.  Any kind of sex.  You name it; he loves it.  But Paul’s biggest passion is his greatest flaw.  As a recovering sex addict, he’s been abstaining and managing his addiction for over two years.  Now, all the wants is to fall in love and find that certain someone he can settle down with.

But when he finds himself on his knees on Elle Jacoby’s damp lawn, he knows there’s going to be trouble.  Elle quickly becomes Paul’s biggest challenge yet.  She’s instantly set him ablaze while he begs to be hosed down. As he gets to know her more, the flames burn even hotter.

How can he resist a hot divorcee who’s amped up to have all the fun she’s missed?

Warning: for mature audiences only. If you don’t like graphic sex, sex talk and curse words in books this story isn’t for you.

GOODREADS
Release Date : September 8th

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ruth Clampett, daughter of legendary animation director Bob Clampett, grew up surrounded by artists and animators. A graduate of Art Center College of Design, she has been VP of Design for Warner Brothers Studio Stores and taught photography at UCLA. Today she runs her own studio and as the Fine Art publisher for Warner Brothers Studios has come to know and work with some of the world’s greatest artists in the fields of animation and comics.

From this colorful background comes Ruth’s first novel, Animate Me, a fun and sexy, unique and engaging contemporary romance.

Ruth lives and works in Los Angeles, strictly supervised by her teenage daughter, who helps plan their summer around their yearly pilgrimage to the San Diego Comic Con.

Twitter  Facebook  Web  Amazon author page  Goodreads

Cover Reveal ~Built ~ Jay Crownover

We are absolutely thrilled to bring you the Cover Reveal and Prologue for BUILT by Jay Crownover! BUILT is the first novel in her upcoming Saints of Denver Series, a spinoff of her Marked Men Series, published by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins. BUILT is releasing on January 5, 2016! This is a definite one click, friends!

Check out the cover of BUILT!

Studio portrait of young bearded man --- Image by © pinkypills/Corbis

Preorder BUILT Today!

Amazon US ** iBooks ** Barnes & Noble ** Kobo

About BUILT:

From the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men books comes an electrifying new spin-off series,Saints of Denver, featuring all the characters fans have been dying to read about.

Sayer Cole and Zeb Fuller couldn’t be more different. She’s country club and fine-dining, he’s cell-block and sawdust. Sayer spends her days in litigation, while Zeb spends his working with his hands. She’s French silk, he’s all denim and flannel.

Zeb’s wanted the stunning blonde since the moment he laid eyes on her. It doesn’t matter how many smooth moves he makes, the reserved lawyer seems determinedly oblivious to his interest—either that or she doesn’t return it. Sayer is certain the rough, hard, hot-as-hell Zeb could never want someone as closed off and restrained as she is, which is a shame because something tells her he might be the guy to finally melt her icy exterior.

But just as things start to heat up, Zeb is blindsided by a life altering moment from his past. He needs Sayer’s professional help to right a wrong and to save more than himself. He can’t risk what’s at stake just because his attraction to Sayer feels all consuming. But as these opposites dig in for the fight of their lives, battling together to save a family, the steam created when fire and ice collide can no longer be ignored.

And don’t miss this sneak peek of BUILT! Check out the prologue here!

Prologue

I met her at a bar.

She had a beer bottle in her hand even though she looked like she should be sipping champagne out of an expensive flute, and that inexplicably turned me on. She was pretty and looked completely out of place in the no-name bar sitting across from one of my longtime friends who also happened to be her long-lost brother. He was the reason she was here. In that split second that I laid my eyes on her I wanted to be the reason she stayed.

I knew it was rude and that the two of them needed some time together, some time to figure out what they were to each other now that she had blasted into his life unannounced. If I was a better friend I would have left them alone. As it was, I made my way over to the tiny table and sat down. I was covered in sawdust and had drywall mud caked in the hair on my head and on my face, but she didn’t flinch or bat an eyelash when I purposely broke up their party of two and placed myself as close to her as I could without actually touching her.

My buddy Rowdy St. James lifted his eyebrows at me as I stared at her while he introduced us. Sayer Cole. Even her name was elegant and sophisticated sounding. She was an enigma, this pretty woman that seemed like she should be in any place but this bar with the two of us. She’d showed up out of the blue a couple of months ago claiming to be Rowdy’s half sister, claiming that they shared a father, claiming that all she wanted was to be in his life and have some kind of family of her own. She looked too delicate to be that brave. Came across as way too proper to have said “fuck it all” and picked up her life to move it someplace unknown without being sure of her welcome. She looked like silk, but if my guess was right about her, it was silk wrapped around steel.

Luckily Rowdy was a good guy. After the shock of discovering he wasn’t alone in the world, and once he realized he had someone tied to him by blood forever and ever, he had warmed up to the idea of having a sister and appreciated that the sister was Sayer.

I liked Rowdy a lot. He was a stand-up guy and a good friend, but I had a feeling I was going to like his newly found big sister even more. In my usual tactless way I asked him without looking directly at the knockout blonde, “So you have a sister? A hot, classy sister?” A sister that was also a lawyer, so beautiful and smart.

I expected a giggle from her or an eye roll at the outlandish compliment, but what I got was a wide-eyed stare of disbelief as eyes bluer than anything I had ever seen on earth danced between me and her brother like she wasn’t sure what to do with herself or with my overt interest in her.

I thought that I had gone too far, pushed the beautiful stranger too far out of her comfort zone. I was a big guy and knew I looked far wilder and rougher than I actually was. I figured it might be too much for a woman already obviously out of her element and depth to take.

Instead, Sayer surprised me and I could see by the way he stiffened that she surprised Rowdy, too. While she wasn’t exactly overflowing with welcome and warmth, she did ask me about the current project I was working on after Rowdy explained I was a general contractor and had rebuilt the new tattoo shop he worked in. She seemed genuinely interested, and when I told her that my specialty was rehabbing old houses and giving them new life, her eyes practically glowed at me. I wanted to touch her to see if she felt as smooth and polished as she looked. I wanted to leave streaks of dirt on her perfect face to mark the fact that I had touched her, that she had let me touch her. It was a primal and visceral reaction that I couldn’t explain and I liked the way it felt. Liked the weight and heft of it in my blood even if I knew the feeling wasn’t likely to be returned.

She told me all about a fantastic but crumbling Victorian she had purchased that was falling down around her. She asked me for a business card and I saw Rowdy stiffen across the table. I sighed and rubbed a hand over my already messy hair. I watched her eyes follow the light cloud of dust that escaped the strands. I was great at my job, loved what I did, but I couldn’t do anything with her or for her without laying everything on the line. Especially not with Rowdy giving me the death glare from just a few feet away.

I dug the card out of my wallet, and when I handed it over our fingers touched. I saw her eyes widen and her lips part, just barely. She looked a little dazed when I grinned at her.

“You take that card, but understand that the man giving it to you has a past.”

She blinked at me and cleared her throat. “What kind of past?”

It wasn’t something I liked to tell a beautiful woman when I first met her. It was something I liked to work up to, liked to prove it was behind me, but with this one it seemed like I wouldn’t get that chance.

“I tell everyone that I do any kind of work for or that considers hiring me on for a project that I have a criminal history. I spent time locked up for a few years, and while I’m not proud of it I can’t deny it happened. I was a hotheaded kid and it got me in trouble, but I’m the best at what I do, so I hope that doesn’t discourage you from giving me a call.” Hopefully for more than some construction.

Usually I got a concerned frown followed by a hundred questions about what had led me to serving time. I got none of that from the stunning blonde. She tilted her head to the side and considered me silently for a long moment before reaching down and slipping my card in her purse. If anything, I could have sworn she was wearing a look of sympathy when she told me softly, “I see it every day from the inside. Sometimes the system simply gets it wrong.” A slight grin turned her mouth up at the corners, and I wanted to lean over and kiss it. “People make mistakes. Hopefully they learn from them.”

I don’t know that “wrong” was accurate in my case so much as misguided, but the complete lack of judgment or censure coming from her made me want to pull her into my arms and hold on to her even more. I had made a mistake, a huge one, one that I was forever going to have to carry around with me, but I had learned from it, was still learning from it. That kind of understanding from a total stranger was so rare, especially coming from someone in the legal field. I wasn’t accustomed to someone looking at me and seeing me, just me, not an ex-con loser after I explained where I had been. It was wildly refreshing and attractive. I couldn’t quite get a handle on what made the woman tick, but I would welcome any opportunity she gave me to figure it out. I found her outwardly flawless and pristine demeanor tempting to taint with my dirty hands and ways, and there was something about the way she watched me, the way she turned toward me like she was drawn to me, that made me think maybe I wasn’t alone in the inexplicable pull department.

Rowdy left and she stayed.

We had a couple more beers and talked some more about her house and what she wanted done with it. She already hired one contractor but felt like the guy was ripping her off. It happened a lot in the industry, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the guy was taking her for a ride. Spending time with her was easy. She was fun to talk to and really fun to look at. I really wanted to get my hands on her house and of course on her, and I felt like she was maybe, kind of, slightly leaning in the same direction when I made the mistake of asking her about her past.

I asked about where she had been before she found out about Rowdy and decided to move to Denver so that she could get to know him. I was curious what kind of life she had where she could leave everything behind and not be missed. Really I wanted to know if she had a boyfriend or husband stashed somewhere, but the simple inquiry must have touched a nerve. The next thing I knew she had paid out the tab for both of us and disappeared into the night. She went from glowing and bright to frigid and untouchable in the span of a heartbeat.

I figured I blew my shot by being too blunt, as always. I assumed she probably did have someone else in the picture and had been friendly and polite only because I was good friends with her brother. I thought I would never hear from her again and was baffled why the thought of that made my chest ache and my heart feel like it weighed two tons.

Imagine my surprise when she called me and hired me to renovate her house a week later without a bid, without a contract, without even knowing if I was half as good as I claimed to be.

Of course I accepted, but I knew once I was inside I would need to knock down and rearrange more than just the walls of the house, in order to get at something beautiful and lasting.

Jay CrownoverAbout Jay Crownover:

Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men and The Point series. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she’ll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her three dogs.

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