Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Blog Tour: The Passions of Honor by Lorraine Britt

Army Special Forces Senior Sergeant Eli Stevens is married to his childhood sweetheart, Katherine. She is his princess, his world. He is her first and only love, her best friend, her everything. They finally have what they've always dreamed of…a baby on the way. 

But this happy news comes on the eve of Eli and his best friend Sergeant William Bradshaw’s deployment for a special mission... A mission that Eli knows in his heart will be his last.

Before Eli’s premonition comes true he tells William to watch over his family, to be a father to his child, to love Katherine. William reluctantly agrees, moving into the Stevens home to take care of Katherine. The longer he is there the more she depends on him. But she holds William emotionally at a distance, scared of the feelings he stirs inside her. And despite fighting against it he falls in love with Katherine and the child, even though feels he is betraying his friend.

Can they find their way through the nightmares to give in to what is between them? Or will the past come back to haunt William in more ways than one?
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I made the fifteen minute drive in ten minutes flat, pulling up as close as I could as the sun began to lower slowly in the sky. I took a deep breath, wiping my eyes, before I climbed out of the car. I wrapped my arms around my body against the cooling air, shivering a bit as I clasped Eli’s dog tags tightly in my hand.

Quickly I weaved my way through the aging tombstones until I found the one marked with his family name, my family name. I fell to my knees in front of it, leaning forward until my head hit the cold marble of the stone. My shoulders shook with the sobs that wracked my tiny body.

My hands reached for the stone as my fingers splayed over the letters carved in it. I couldn’t help the feeling that while his father and grandfather were indeed buried there, there as none of Eli to be found here. His plot was filled with nothing but some dirt and ashes brought back from some land far across the sea. It wasn’t my Eli. But it was all I had left. It was the only place I had left to go.

Everyone thought I was crazy, thinking and believing he could still be alive. No matter what I said they looked at me like I had lost my mind, just some grieving widow clinging to some sad hope. But I knew, in my gut I knew. Something wasn’t right. Something told me not to give up. And I clung to that. Perhaps it was foolish of me, but I clung to it.
Lorraine Britt is a fourth generation Native Texan who is also immensely proud of her Louisiana heritage and solid Southern roots. As an enthusiastic lover of the written word, inspiration struck Lorraine and she began to bubble over with her own ideas. Grasping hold of her lifelong dreams, it wasn’t long before she was putting pen to paper and letting her fingers fly over a keyboard to bring her own characters to life. When she isn’t busy scribbling notes for her next idea you might find her whipping up delicious creations in the kitchen or putting miles on her car on road trip adventures. Lorraine is equally passionate about music, movies and sports. You’ll no doubt find these familiar themes woven throughout her books. Lorraine and her family currently make their home in northeast Texas.

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Spotlight Tour: Kismet by A.E. Woodward with Guest Review

Katie’s world came crashing down in an instant.

Her husband, daughter, and unborn baby. . . all gone in a flash. The life that she’d come to know, gone before she ever really got to live it.

With a broken heart, she deals the only way she knows how, by shutting it all off. No communicating, no feelings, just pure nothingness.

Alone with nothing but her own thoughts and a well meaning family, she moves back to her childhood home, a horse farm. It’s there that she finds herself healing along with the horses her family rehabilitates. But when Parker McKenzie comes back into her life she’s reminded of all that went wrong, and all that she lost.

Will Katie ever begin to heal? Or will her secrets and loss be too much for her to overcome?

Perhaps, this is her kismet.

Guest Review
4 Stars

While this book may have started off a little slow, it had a way of sucking you in. The anguish that Katie, and her family left to pick up the pieces of her, feels is palpable. Parker thought he was doing the right thing all those years ago when he sent her on his way, but now that she's back, and she needs him, he knows that this time he's not going to give up or give her up. That is until things change. The author did an AMAZING job of bringing us through Katie's recovery while showing us what lead to her issues in the first place. All of her characters were extremely well written and believable. However, I did feel that it started a little slow, and there were some times I felt the drama was a little much, and I seriously hated the ending of the book even though it was incredibly well written so I'm only giving it 4 stars.

Reviewed by Sirenda from Swoon Worthy Books

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Excerpt 1: 
I stare at the TV again, not really watching what’s on, while the people around me busily prepare for my departure. A nurse fusses over my stitches and bandages, while my father and brother chat mundanely across the room from me. I hear my mother talking in hushed voices with Stevenson. I can’t make out the whole of their conversation, and I don’t really care to, but since the men in my family are speaking at an annoyingly loud decibel, I couldn’t if I tried. That being said, I hear a mix of their words.

“…Considering the trauma…low self-worth…Selective Mutism, which should be familiar…happens only in adults with previous mutism…as far as treatment…anxiety reduction…exposure exercises…”
These are all words my family and I are all too familiar with. My family know all the ins and outs of my diagnosis. They know the therapies—what has worked in the past, and what didn’t. We’ve been down this road before, and to think of traveling it again makes me sick to my stomach, but I can’t see how things will get better. My reasons for living are gone. 
I shake my head, thinking about doctors. It hadn’t taken long for them to label me again, deciding what is best for me and my emotional well-being. I want to be pissed, to have some sort of reaction to something, but I just can’t muster a single feeling. I truly don’t care. They think they know me, but they don’t. All the degrees and training in the world can’t touch my emotional damage. I have nothing left to live for.
Excerpt 2: 
“I know that we’ve had our moments,” Parker says, and his voice is quiet as he gently puts his hand on mine, “but I’m just trying to help you, kiddo.” 
My eyes find his icy blue ones, hidden under the most beautiful lashes, and my heart skips. I want to pull my hand away, but I can’t. There is something about his touch, something soothing and familiar. Without thinking, I run my hand up the length of his arm, taking a step towards him and allowing myself to get closer. Everything stills and I know my brain is no longer in control of my action, this is all my heart.

Our stomachs touch and I’m so close that I’m able to breathe in the familiar scent of him. I search his face, looking for some sort of insight. What is he thinking?

With another step, I place my left hand on his chest. He looks at me, unsure of himself. Not something I see on Parker often.

Before he can argue I throw myself at him, my arms wrap around his waist and I place my head on his shoulder. 
Every muscle in his body goes lax as I hug him. “Jesus, Katie, I’ve missed you,” he whispers running his hand through my dark blonde hair. “I just want to hear your voice.” 
I want to believe him but I can’t. Parker McKenzie has always been full of it. Back when I knew him—really knew him—he’d say and do anything to get what he wanted. Everything was always a conquest for him, just like I had been…and probably still am.

Hands rest on either side of my face, and Parker gently lifts my gaze to his. I want to hate him. I want to push him away from me. But I can’t. I’m frozen, under the control of emotions that have been buried away for years. With the realization that he still has a hold on my heart, the guilt washes over me. My stomach churns and I start to pull away from him. 
As if sensing my change in mood, he tightens his grip on my wrists and pulls me back in. He thumbs my bracelet, reminding me of the depth of our relationship. There are so many layers to Katie and Parker. Layers that no one will truly ever uncover.

“I know I treated you like shit, and I know that I don’t deserve for you to give me a chance, but you’ve gotta know that the minute you left town seven years ago, I knew I’d made a mistake. I know you know it too. You and I were the only thing that ever made sense to me, Katie.” 
Emotions begin to stir inside of me. His eyes burn down on mine. I struggle to organize my thoughts, wondering what my next move will be. We’ve never talked about that day, and I want to know why.

I consider my options. Do I start my healing by figuring out my past? I just want to know why things ended up the way they did. I want to make sense of this crazy thing called my life. 
“What the hell’s going on here?” Tommy’s voice bellows through the stable.
Just like two gawky teenagers getting caught for the first time, we break our embrace. I look up to see Tommy stalking angrily down the narrow walkway of the barn. 
“She’s my family too, Tommy,” Parker calls out. “I have a right to hug her if I want.” 
Before I know it, Tommy’s chest is bumping with Parker’s. They’re standing face to face, their noses practically touching. The tension in the stable has just increased tenfold. 
“She’s been through enough without you fucking with her head again, Parker!”

“I’m not fucking with her.” Parker pushes Tommy away with his hands. Tommy clenches his fists and I can tell he’s doing his best to control his anger. A nervous ball of energy rests in my stomach and I watch helplessly as Parker exits the stall and walks out of the barn. “I’m helping her,” he calls over his shoulder. “You would understand that if you knew anything about your sister.” And with those parting words he leaves Tommy and I alone with nothing but our silent thoughts.

A.E. lives in Vacationland with her husband and two children. Between her real job and writing she finds little time to enjoy life's finer things. However in the free time she does manage to steal, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, and reading. A.E. is the author of Kismet and A Series of Imperfections: Imperfectly Perfect, Imperfectly Real, and Imperfectly Bad. She is currently writing her fifth book, Working Girl.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Spotlight: Black Dog Nights by Ren Monterrey

My student loans are due and I still haven’t found a job that pays more than minimum wage. So I decide to make an arrangement through The Club. I’ll get what I need…money to pay my loans. And he’ll get what he wants…access to my body…whenever and however he wants it.

ROSE COLLINS is a recent art school graduate with overwhelming student loan debt and no way to pay it.

JAE ROTHKO is a wealthy and renowned artist who doesn’t have the time or patience for a relationship.

Jae joins The Club so he can have one woman when he wants and how he wants with no attachments and no expectations.

He selects Rose to be that woman.
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Part One
Part Two
Part Three
By the time we get to The Rock Stop it’s already crowded with twenty-somethings, who all look eager to hook up with anyone who’s willing.
I pass by two guys, who are already half-drunk and gawking at my breasts, before I hit the relative safety of the bar area. 
“What do you want to drink?” Cali yells over the loud Top Forty music.
“Would I look too conspicuous just holding a glass of water?”
Cali purses her lips at me. I tell her she looks like a duck when she does that but it doesn’t stop her.
“I’ll get you a beer. You don’t have to drink it but I don’t want you to embarrass me or yourself.”
“Yes, Daffy,” I tease.
“I do not have duck lips,” she insists.
“You do when you pucker them like that.”
“I think you’re on crack.”
“Just get the beer.”
She waves in order to get the bartender’s attention but no such luck. He’s busy with a group of girls at the other end of the bar.
“Hey, Babe.” An arm reaches over Cali’s shoulder. “I wasn’t sure I’d see you tonight.”
David nods in my direction. “What’s up?”
He never addresses me by my name even though he’s been hooking up with Cali for over a year and I’ve seen him dozens of times.
David is the kind of guy I always hated in high school. His family has money and he’s never had to work a day in his life for anything. Cars, clothes, expensive vacations, you name it, and his parents have handed it to him on a silver platter. As a result he has a sense of entitlement that knows no bounds.
No doubt that’s why he feels like he can treat Cali any way he pleases and she just keeps coming back for more.
He runs his fingers through his short brown hair. I’m not sure whether it’s a nervous habit or if he thinks that his fingers are like some kind of comb but he does it all the time.
David is a good-looking guy in a frat-boy kind of way. Cali says he played baseball in high school and he looks like he probably still plays sports. He’s not huge but he’s definitely in good shape. 
Cali met David at a frat party. Even though she’s never set foot in a college class she’s spent a lot of time at college parties. David likes to brag about the fact that he’s a business major. I don’t see what the big deal is though. I feel like business is a degree for people who don’t really know what they want to do with their lives.
Not that I have any room to talk. Apparently I earned a degree for people who don’t really want a job.
Before I know it, Cali and David have disappeared somewhere and I’m alone at the bar.
I didn’t even want to come here in the first place.
I have a choice. I can leave or I can order a drink. After the day I’ve had a drink is actually starting to sound appealing.
As soon as the DJ starts mixing, nearly everyone moves to the dance floor. The bar area is now pretty empty except for a young woman seated at the far end. She glances up at me when I approach and gives me the faintest of smiles.
She’s an attractive blonde with stunning ocean blue eyes. She’s the definition of a blonde bombshell. She’s got curves that would give Marilyn Monroe a run for her money.
I order a Crantini and the bartender wastes no time filling my order.
“Tough day?” the blonde asks.
I nod.
“Have a seat.” She waves to the stool next to her.
I climb onto the stool and take a sip of my drink. It’s strong and I cough a little as it goes down.
“Russ likes to make them strong.” She laughs. “Maybe he thinks he’ll get lucky at the end of the night.”
The bartender looks like he’s in his mid-thirties and kind of rough. He’s completely bald and built like a brick house. Definitely someone I would want to have on my side if a fight broke out.
“Are you waiting for someone?” I ask. She looks a little too dressed up for the place we’re in. It’s mostly a denim crowd and she’s in a little black dress and pumps.
“You could say that.”
I nod. A cryptic response but I get the impression that she’s not going to say much more about who she’s waiting for.
“So what’s your story?” she asks.
I laugh. “Do I look like I have a story?”
“You definitely look like you have a story.”
“You’ve probably heard it millions times before.”
She glances at her watch. I can’t help but notice it’s a gorgeous Rolex. The blonde doesn’t look that much older than me. I doubt she’s even twenty-five. It makes me wonder how she can afford such an expensive watch. When I look at her more closely, I notice she’s also wearing a diamond tennis bracelet and huge diamond stud earrings. Also very expensive.
Maybe she’s like David and has a generous daddy with lots of money.
“I’ve got a few minutes before my friend gets here. Tell me this story I’ve heard a million times before.”
I take another sip of my drink. She’s right. Russ does like to make them strong.
“I recently graduated from art school. I have a fine arts degree but no professional job and no prospects. My student loans are set to go into repayment and I have no way to pay them. I’m barely making ends meet on my salary busting my ass at the local coffee shop. Pathetic, right?”
She shakes her head. “It’s not pathetic but you’re right. It’s a story I’ve heard a lot. Maybe not a million times. Half a million tops.”
We both laugh. It feels good to laugh about it. At least for one night.
She reaches into her purse, a pricey Coach bag, and pulls out a business card. I expect her to hand it to me but she places it on the bar between us instead.
“I don’t do this very often but I feel bad for you so I’m making an exception.” She points to the card. “You can pick it up if you want to, after I tell you what it’s about. Or you can leave it on the bar. It’s completely up to you.”
My curiosity is definitely piqued. When I glance down at the card I notice it only has two words: The Club followed by a phone number.
“What’s The Club?”
“It’s a kind of dating service.”
I frown. “Do I look like need a date?”
“No, but you said you need money. This is a special kind of dating service for extremely wealthy men.”
I assume that’s how she got her Rolex and other jewelry but I don’t want to be rude. “Are you saying it’s kind of like having a sugar daddy?”
She laughs. “That’s kind of an antiquated term but sort of. Most of the men in The Club are older and they have very specific tastes. Most of them want younger women but more importantly, they want women who will be there whenever and however they want.”
I gulp. Then I whisper. “Are you talking about prostitution?”
She gives me a little smile. “Prostitution implies that you’re with multiple men and they’re paying you for sex. It’s not like that. It’s more like you’re being paid to be one man’s mistress.”
“Are they married?”
She laughs. “Some are. Some aren’t. Does it matter?”
“I think it would to me.”
It’s a good question. I’m not married. He’d be the one doing the cheating.
“Do you mind if I ask how much money you’re talking about?”
“That’s negotiable between you and the man who selects you. It’s called an arrangement. You can negotiate any sort of arrangement you want.”
“Could you give me a ballpark figure?”
“Usually between three and five thousand a month.”
My eyes grow wide at the thought of that kind of money. My ten dollars an hour at the coffee shop, even with overtime and tips, doesn’t even come close to that.
“And that doesn’t include all of the perks. A lot of the men like to provide their girlfriends with generous gifts in addition to their arrangement.”
“You said a lot of the guys are older. How old?”
An image of a geriatric using a walker crosses my mind. I’m not sure I’d be able to have sex with someone that old, if he could still even have sex.
“The guy I have an arrangement with is fifty-four.”
That’s ten years older than my dad. I can feel my stomach start to knot. Am I really considering getting involved with some kind of club and being paid to have sex with a guy who could be older than my father?
The blonde leans in close. “Don’t let his age fool you. He can still perform in bed. And I only have to see him two days a week for a few hours. And my arrangement is non-exclusive. He doesn’t mind if I date other guys.”
“I don’t really date that much,” I confess.
“That’s even better. There are a lot of guys who want exclusive arrangements. Not as many girls go in for that.”
I stare at the business card for a few seconds. Is this something I’m actually considering? I’m just not sure. There’s no doubt that I need the money but I’m not sure about having sex with someone I don’t even know…for money.
“It’s really not that bad,” she insists. “I wasn’t sure at first either but you get used to it. And Alex can be a really sweet guy.”
She makes a point of pushing the business card a little closer to me. “At least meet with Claudia. You can always back out if a guy selects you and you don’t like him.”
I pass my hand over the card and hesitate for a moment. I feel like this is a pivotal moment. Like my whole life could change just by picking up the card.
I take in a deep breath then grab the card from the bar. Now that it’s actually in my hand I feel like calling the phone number is inevitable.


Ren Monterrey lives in a small town outside Phoenix, Arizona with her husband and their bloodhounds. She writes New Adult and Contemporary romance under a number of different pen names.

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