Month: May 2013

BLOG TOUR: Taken by Storm by Kelli Maine (Book Trailer, Review and Giveaway)

The emotional rollercoaster of the USA TODAY bestselling Give & Take series by Kelli Maine continues with MJ and Maddie’s story! 


Maddie Simcoe knows the devastation that comes from keeping secrets. Now, she’s desperate to move on from the heartbreak that almost destroyed her — trading wild passion that once made her knees weak for a life of comfortable stability. But before Maddie can start over, she must return home to put the past behind her once and for all…


When Maddie blows back into MJ Rocha’s life, nothing will stop him from proving to her that walking away from him was the biggest mistake of her life — not even the engagement ring she wears. Her every look, every touch tells MJ that the fire that once raged between them still burns hot, and MJ won’t give up until Maddie gives in to the inferno. 


Trapped by a hurricane roaring through Turtle Tear Island, MJ and Maddie find shelter in each others’ arms. While the lightning flashes, MJ and Maddie are helpless to fight bonds of desire that tie them together. But just as they’re about to surrender to the torturous longing that consumes them both, the storm unleashes violent secrets from MJ’s past…secrets that could wash away all MJ and Maddie’s hopes of forever…


Barnes & Noble

When leaving is the only option you have been given, how could you make him understand? 

It wasn’t an easy choice for Maddie. She never wanted to hurt MJ but leaving is the only sane choice left to protect him from getting hurt and from him knowing the truth. 

She knows she could never turn back the pages of time. She couldn’t change the past. She knows she couldn’t be with him without her telling him the secrets that were not meant to be discovered. But those same secrets have start weighing heavily upon her. 

It was never a secret how much I love this series. I have always been a fan of Kelli Maine’s writing from Taken, No Take Backs until this third installment, Taken by Storm. I have waited so long for this book and I would have to say that Kelli did not disappoint. It was all worth the wait. Kelli Maine’s ability to get me into the head of her characters is phenomenal. It is an incredible story that kept me on the edge of my seat at every moment. This book kept me reading until I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I had to get to the end. I love this kind of mystic story and fell right into it, and enjoyed it very much. I found myself being drawn into the story and anxiously awaiting to see what next revelation was going to unfold for MJ and Maddie. This story had its scary moments, but so much more was involved, there was the unique blend of romance and love, and what one does for love. When I thought I had the mystery figured out, Kelli managed to throw me off with another unexpected turn of events! If you are looking for a story that is full of intrigue, then you will want to get this now!


USA Today Bestselling author, Kelli Maine, spends humid summers and frigid winters in Ohio glued to her laptop keyboard. Taken, a USA Today Bestseller, Nook Bestseller and Indie Reader Top Ten Bestseller, is the first in the Give and Take series and Kelli’s debut erotic romance. No Take Backs: A Taken Novella is Taken’s follow up. Taken By Storm is next in the series, followed by Take Me Back and Given. Additional books and novellas are planned for the series.


THROWBACK THURSDAY: Meet and Greet Aidan Fitzgerald, The Proposition by Katie Ashley (plus giveaways)

It’s throwback Thursday at the Avenue! What better way to do it than to reminisce one of my favorite scenes in one of my all time favorite books, THE PROPOSITION by KATIE ASHLEY. 

Let’s meet and greet the man who captured the hearts of millions, Aidan Fitzgerald.

Aidan Fitzgerald rubbed his blurring blue eyes. He peeked through his fingers at the clock on the computer screen. Damn, it was already after seven. Even if he wanted to finish the project, his brain was too fried. He could barely make out the words in front of him. He turned off his computer, secure in the thought that his newly elevated promotion of Vice President of marketing meant he could wait until the morning and not have someone bitch at him for slacking off.

With a groan, Aidan rose out of his chair and stretched his arms over his head. He grabbed up his bag and headed to the door. As he flipped off his office lights, his stomach rumbled. There was probably nothing at the house to eat, so he’d need to pick up something on the way. For a brief instant, he wished there was a woman waiting on him with a home-cooked meal. He quickly shrugged the thought away. A couple of meals weren’t worth the hassle of long-term relationships. In the end, he was much happier with begging dinners off one of his married sisters. At least until they launched into one of their tirades about how he couldn’t be a bachelor for the rest of his life, and at thirty-two, it was time for him to settle down and have a family.

“Bullshit,” he muttered under his breath at the thought. The attractive cleaning lady down the hall raised her head.

She then gave him an alluring smile. “Goodnight Mr. Fitzgerald.”

“Goodnight Paula,” he replied. He smacked the button for the elevator, fighting the urge to close the gap between them and strike up a conversation. He raked a hand through his sandy blond hair and shook his head. Talking to Paula would most likely lead to some tryst in the storeroom closet, and as much as he would enjoy that, he was getting a little old for those kinds of hook-ups.

The elevator jolted him down to the first floor. Heated voices met Aidan the moment he stepped off, causing him to grunt in frustration. Damn, the last thing he needed after working late and being cock-teased by the cleaning lady was to come up on some domestic dispute. And from the tone of both a man and woman’s voice, that’s exactly what it was.

“Connor, I can’t believe you cornered me here at work!” a woman hissed.

“What was I supposed to do? You won’t answer my calls or emails. I had to see if you were all right.”

“I told you to leave me alone, and I meant it!”

“But I love you, Em. I don’t want to lose you.”

At the sound of scuffling, the woman’s voice raised an octave. “Stop! Don’t you dare touch me!”

The protective side of Aidan stirred at the woman’s tone, sending him barreling around the corner. “Hey! Get your damn hands off her!” he bellowed.

The couple startled at the sight of him. The woman’s tear stained face flushed crimson, and she ducked her head to avoid Aidan’s intense gaze. Immediately, he recognized her—Emma Harrison, 4th floor advertising, and the woman he’d tried unsuccessfully to take home from the company’s Christmas Party. From the way she refused to meet his eye, he knew she recognized him as well.

Aidan turned his attention to the guy, Connor, whose eyes were wide with fear. He hastily dropped his hands from Emma’s shoulders and took several steps back. Connor looked like he was ready to bolt out the nearest exit. Aidan then realized how intimidating he must appear with his fists clenched at his side, his jaw hard set. He tried relaxing his stance, but his blood still pumped so hard in his ears he couldn’t.

Connor held up his hands in surrender. “I’m not sure what you think was going on, but we were just talking.”

Aidan narrowed his eyes. “I think from the way she was crying and begging you to stop touching her, it was a lot more than talking.” He started to ask Emma if she was all right, but she blew past him and escaped into the restroom. He glared at Connor.

“Look man, you’ve got it all wrong. I—”

“What’s not to get? You obviously can’t let your ex-girlfriend or ex-wife or whatever she is go, even though she can’t even stand for you to touch her!”

Nervous laughter erupted from Connor. He silenced it the minute Aidan cocked his eyebrows at him and took a step forward. “Trust me, you’re so very, very wrong. Emma’s not my ex.”

“Then what’s the deal?”

Connor cleared his throat. “Fine, you want the truth? Here it is. I’m gay, and Emma’s been my best friend since middle school.”

Aidan’s mouth dropped open. “Seriously?”


“Huh…then I stand corrected. Sorry about that.”

Connor shrugged. “It’s okay. I probably would’ve done the same thing if I thought some asshole was hassling a woman. Well, I probably wouldn’t if he was twice my size like you.” He glanced past Aidan to the bathroom and grimaced. “Dammit, I hate when she’s mad at me. I don’t think she’s ever been so angry and so hurt. I just don’t know what to do to make it right, ya know?”

Aidan shifted on his feet, sensing the conversation was headed into emotional territory, which was somewhere he tried avoiding at all costs. He held one hand up. “Hey man, it’s really none of my business.” But the moment the words left his lips, he was sure they had fallen on deaf ears. The anguished expression on Connor’s face told him he wouldn’t be getting away without hearing the full, dramatic story, unless he literally tried to out run him.

With a sigh, Connor ran his hand through his dark hair. In a low voice, he said, “She’s crazy about kids, and her biological clock is all in a snit to have baby for like the last two years. Loving her the way I do, I’d promised her I’d be the father and donate to the cause.”

Okay, so maybe that wasn’t the story Aidan had expected. “Don’t tell me. You chickened out when it came down to doing the deed?”

Connor scowled at him. “Ha, ha, asshole, real funny. For your information, it was going to be done in a clinic.”

“Where’s the fun in that?” Aidan mused, with a sly smile.

“Dude, gay, remember?”

“Sorry.” For reasons he couldn’t possibly fathom, Aidan was so intrigued by the story he felt the need to prompt Connor to continue. “So what happened?”

“My partner isn’t ready to have children. I promised him that Emma didn’t necessarily want me involved, but he won’t budge. It’s been hell choosing between the man I love and my best friend.”

“Why can’t she just go to a sperm bank or something?”

Connor chuckled. “Emma has it in her mind there will be this horrible mix-up where her choice of a prime donor’s sample was swapped with some serial killer’s.”

Aidan grinned. “I guess I can see her point.”

A buzz went off in Connor’s pocket. He dug it out and then groaned at the ID. “Shit, it’s Jeff. He’ll have my ass for coming here and trying to talk to Emma. I really, really have to go.” His gaze once again went to the bathroom. “I hate to leave her though…”

“You go on. I’ll see she gets to her car okay.”

“Really? That would be awesome.” He thrust out his hand. “It was nice meeting you…”

“Aidan. Aidan Fitzgerald.”

“Connor Montgomery.” After they shook hands, Connor smiled. “Thanks for all your help and for totally misreading the entire situation.”

Aidan laughed. “It was a pleasure almost kicking your ass.”

“Hey now,” Connor replied. When his phone rang, he winced and gave a short wave before bringing it to his ear. “Babe, yeah, sorry I missed your texts. I’m on my way home now.” He pushed through the glass doors and disappeared into the night.

With a shake of his head, Aidan started across the lobby to the bathroom. He rapped on the door. In a shrill voice, Emma shouted, “Go away, Connor! I have nothing else to say to you! Not to mention, you just embarrassed the hell out of me in front of one of the biggest assholes in the company!”

“Biggest asshole, huh?” he murmured under his breath. Not exactly a title he was proud of, especially coming from a woman. He was used to hearing much more flattering descriptions of himself from them. Well, at least in the beginning before he walked away. After that, things usually took a nasty turn.

“I’m not leaving this bathroom until I know you’re gone!”

Aidan sighed. She was a determined one that was for sure not to mention stubborn as hell. His mind flashed back to how beautiful and sexy she’d looked at the Christmas party—how the slinky green dress she’d worn flowed over her curves making her irresistible. When he’d seen her across the room with some girlfriends, he had been determined to spend the night with her. Her shy smiles and glances up at him through her eyelashes had spurned him on to close the small space between them. Of course, by the time he’d arrived at her side, her interfering friends had already informed her of his dubious reputation as a heartbreaker and serial womanizer.

“Women,” he muttered under his breath as he pushed through the bathroom door. Emma sprawled out on the tapestry settee with a wet paper towel over her eyes. On one side, her skirt was jacked halfway up her hip, giving him a fabulous view of legs and thighs. At the sound of footsteps, she gave a frustrated grunt. She stabbed the air in front of her with her index finger. “I swear if you don’t leave me alone, I’m going to kick you so hard in the balls there will no longer be any question about whether you can father my children!”

Aidan chuckled. Her deep auburn hair so foretold her fiery personality—one she’d showed him at the Christmas party. All her bashfulness had evaporated in an instant when she told him in no uncertain terms that she had no desires to be one of his conquests or one night stands.

“Actually, it isn’t Connor.”

Check Katie Ashley’s Page to get more excerpts!

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: Marie Force featuring her novels Treading Water, Maid for Love and Fatal Affair

Marie Force is the New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling, award-winning author of more than 25 contemporary romances, including The McCarthys of Gansett Island Series, the Fatal Series, the Treading Water Series and numerous stand-alone books. Her new series, Green Mountain Series, is coming in in 2014. While her husband was in the Navy, Marie lived in Spain, Maryland and Florida, and she is now settled in her home state of Rhode Island. She is the mother of two teenagers and two feisty dogs, Brandy and Louie. Subscribe to updates from Marie about new books and other news at Follow her on Twitter @marieforce. And on Facebook at Join one of her many reader groups! View the list at Contact Marie at

1. Can you describe your write style in one sentence?

Straightforward, sexy contemporary romance with hot men, strong women and fun settings.

2. What are your top 5 books

Since I read a MILLION books, it’s hard to narrow it down to five, so I’ll tell you a few authors I’ve enjoyed lately: Sarah Mayberry, Sylvia Day, Jamie McGuire and my all-time favorite, go-to comfort read author is Lisa Kleypas.

3. If you were not writing what would you be doing?

Reading! LOL!

4. If you had to give up all but one of the following what would you keep. Facebook, Twitter, your phone or your laptop?

Laptop so I can still write.

5. Lastly, if you had to recommend one author other than yourself who would it be and why?

Lisa Kleypas. I love just about everything she has ever written, with the exception of the newer books that have a paranormal element, which I don’t read.

Book 1 in the Treading Water Series 
Love is the last thing on Jack Harrington’s mind when he sets out to meet Andi Walsh’s flight. Recently back to work after spending more than a year tending to his comatose wife, Jack is focused on getting through each day and caring for his three daughters. However, the moment he sets eyes on Andrea Walsh, the interior designer who has come to decorate the hotel his company is building in Newport, Rhode Island, Jack begins to wonder if Andi might be his second chance. After a disastrous marriage, Andi, single mom to a hearing-impaired son, isn’t exactly looking for love, either, but that’s what she finds with Jack. The two embark on a long-distance relationship fraught with challenges as they balance the needs of their children and dueling careers while Jack continues to care for his wife, Clare. Just when Jack thinks his life is once again settled, he is confronted with a new challenge that tests him in ways he never could’ve imagined, leaving him to wonder if “happily ever after” is in the cards for him.
Read an excerpt: 
Book 1 in the McCarthys of Gansett Island Series

Maddie Chester is determined to leave her hometown of Gansett Island, a place that has brought her only bad memories and ugly rumors. Then she’s knocked off her bike on the way to her housekeeping job at McCarthy’s Resort Hotel by Gansett’s “favorite son,” Mac McCarthy. He’s back in town to help his father with preparations to sell the family resort and has no intention of staying long. When Mac accidentally sends Maddie flying over the handlebars, badly injuring her, he moves in to nurse her back to health and help care for her young son. He soon realizes his plans for a hit-and-run visit to the island are in serious jeopardy, and he just may be “maid” for love.
Read an excerpt: 
Book 1 in the Fatal Series

Washington, D.C., Metro Police Detective Sergeant Sam Holland 

needs a big win to salvage her career—and her confidence—after a disastrous investigation. The perfect opportunity arises when Senator John O’Connor is found brutally murdered in his bed, and Sam is assigned to the case. Matters get complicated when Sam has to team up with Nick Cappuano, O’Connor’s friend and chief of staff…and the man Sam had a memorable one-night stand with years earlier. Their sexual chemistry still sizzles, and Sam has to fight to stay focused on the case. Sleeping with a material witness is another mistake she can’t afford——especially when the bodies keep piling up.

Read an excerpt: 


Get Fatal Affair Book 1, The Fatal Series FREE
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Get Treading Water, Book 1, Treading Water Series FREE
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Get Maid for Love, Book 1, McCarthys of Gansett Island Series FREE
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Fatal Mistake, Book 6, The Fatal Series
Available June 17 – Pre-order Now!
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BLOG TOUR: Distractions by J.L. Brook (Excerpt and Giveaways)

“We are all pawns in someone else’s game.” 

No one knows this better than Violet Phillips. When her beloved mentor goes missing, she suspects murder, which sends her spiraling out of control and away from the stable life she has built for herself. Soon, her past will begin seeping out with a vengeance. 

“I will teach you how this game is played.”

Self-destruction threatens to consume Violet when a handsome neighbor that has been watching her from afar intervenes on her behalf. Shepard Leone may be six years younger, but it does not stop him from seducing her ears as well as her heart. 

“Fascinating how much life can change in twenty-four hours.”

When Violet is forced to go down a dark road into a past where she must confront the demons that nearly destroyed her, will she be unable to deviate? Struggling with the loss of her missing friend, Shepard will find a way in and reawaken desires that she thought were forever lost. But Violet never forgets that if you are not careful, distractions will be your undoing.

To buy on Amazon:  

Barnes & Noble:
The distinct taste of bourbon and oranges burned my throat as they went down.

I gave myself fifteen minutes before they hit, which was good. My song was four minutes long and afterwards, I might be useless. Before I could walk away, Frankie had returned, placing a bottle of 151 and a lighter down in front of me.

“I haven’t done this in forever, Frankie! You really want me blowing flames without practice? I am going to burn my fucking eyebrows off!”

He leaned across the bar and motioned for me to come closer to him. “You also haven’t stepped foot in my club in over ten years and look how easy it all comes back. It’s still in you.”

I didn’t know if I should feel confident or afraid of that statement…

JL Brooks lives with her active family along the Ohio River at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. A former columnist turned novelist, she spends most of her time engaged in women’s health issues and education. Believing everyone has a story to tell, chances are she will encourage you to tell yours.


AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: Liliana Hart Featuring her latest novel Kill Shot (released May 14th, 2013)

Liliana Hart is a bestselling and award-winning author in both the mystery and romance genres. After starting her first novel her freshman year of college, she immediately became addicted to writing and knew she’d found what she was meant to do with her life. She has no idea why she majored in music.

Liliana is an avid reader and a believer in all things romance. Her books are filled with witty dialogue, steamy sex, and the all-important happily-ever-afters her romantic soul craves. Since self-publishing in June of 2011, she’s sold more than half a million ebooks all over the world. She lives in Texas with her husband and four children, and they occasionally let her meet her deadlines.


1. Can you describe your writing style in one sentence?

Fast-paced with lots of chemistry.

2. What are your top 5 books?

1.) OUTLANDER-Diana Gabaldon

2.) LIGHTNING-Dean Koontz

3.) ICE STORM-Anne Stuart

4.) PEARL ISLAND-Elizabeth Lowell

5.) RHAPSODY-Elizabeth Haydon

3. If you were not writing what would you be doing?

I can’t imagine not writing, so I really have no idea what I’d be doing instead. Probably teaching music like I was before I started writing and reading every book I could get my hands on.

4. If you had to give up all but one of the following what would you keep. Facebook, Twitter, your phone or your laptop?

My laptop. Definitely. As long as I can write I’m in good shape. Though living without the phone would be pretty hard.

5. Lastly, if you had to recommend one author other than yourself whowould it be and why?

Diana Gabaldon for sure. I can’t think of anyone else who can tell a story like she does. I recommend her to everyone and sometimes give out copies of her books just because they’re so great. 

Grace Meredith is the CIA’s most deadly assassin. Too bad she’s gone off the grid and become a mercenary for hire. After the death of her daughter by a sniper’s bullet, Grace can no longer stomach the demands of agency life or keep herself from blaming the only man she’s ever loved. Her mind and body are fragile, and she knows she’s just a step away from breaking down completely.

Gabe Brennan holds the weight of the world on his shoulders. As one of the most brilliant black ops agents the CIA has ever employed, he knows it’s no one’s fault but his own that his child was gunned down in cold blood. He might not have been able to save his daughter, but he’s determined to save his wife. He only has to find her first.

Sexual tension crackles between Gabe and Grace from the moment they’re reunited, but between the man who is hunting them, a secret that’s been buried for eighty years, and a turbulent past—the odds are stacked against them.

Picturing Perfect Amazon giftcard givaway

Melissa Brown’s Picturing Perfect will be out June 12th!  What better way to celebrate then with a giveaway! 
Enter here:
Be sure to check out Picturing Perfect on June 12th!
Life may not turn out like we planned, but sometimes that’s what makes it perfect…

Hadley Foster has always been a planner. But, since the age of nineteen, things haven’t exactly gone according to plan… not at all. And the changes continue to mount when a trip to Europe with her best friend starts a domino effect in all aspects of her life. Suddenly, the future she had envisioned for herself seems unlikely to happen. It’s time to make a new plan… or accept the dominoes as they fall.

Jason Kelly has a great life. He’s a successful self-published writer who’s living his dreams. But, something is missing. Hadley Foster. Letting her slip through his fingers is one of his biggest regrets. Over time, he had to accept the idea of being without his first love as he watched her fall in love with someone else.

When circumstances bring Jason and Hadley back into one another’s lives, they’re forced to deal with their past, their present and the possibility of a future together.


BLOG TOUR: Going Under by S. Walden (Excerpt, Additional Scene, All About Ryan and Giveaways)

Brooke Wright has only two goals her senior year at Charity Run High School: stay out of trouble and learn to forgive herself for the past. Forgiveness proves elusive, and trouble finds her anyway when she discovers a secret club at school connected to the death of her best friend. She learns that swim team members participate in a “Fantasy Slut League,” scoring points for their sexual acts with unsuspecting girls.

Brooke, wracked with guilt over her friend’s death, decides to infiltrate the league by becoming one of the “unsuspecting girls,” and exact revenge on the boys who stole away her best friend. An unexpected romance complicates her plans, and her dogged pursuit of justice turns her reckless as she underestimates just how far the boys will go to keep their sex club a secret.

(This is a New Adult fiction book with mature themes. It contains graphic sex and language and an explicit description of sexual violence. Please take the content warning seriously.)

S. Walden used to teach English before making the best decision of her life by becoming a full-time writer. She lives in Georgia with her very supportive husband who prefers physics textbooks over fiction and has a difficult time understanding why her characters must have personality flaws. She is wary of small children, so she has a Westie instead. Her dreams include raising chickens and owning and operating a beachside inn on the Gulf Coast (chickens included). When she’s not writing, she’s thinking about it.

She loves her fans and loves to hear from them. Email her at and follow her blog at where you can get up-to-date information on her current projects.

Twitter: @swaldenauthor

I had no business getting all dolled up for Ryan. I was supposed to be focused on Cal, but somehow he became just some guy in the background, out of focus and unimportant in my life. I thought I heard Beth screaming from a far off place, asking me what the hell I was doing, but I ignored her. She couldn’t control my life. I’d get to Cal when I got to him. She had to understand that.

I studied myself in the full-length mirror. I’d never looked prettier for work. I thought I looked like a Barbie doll, my hair pulled up high on my head in a ponytail, locks curled and tumbling in flirty waves from the elastic band. I pumped up the eye factor with heavy mascara. I wanted to go for an Edie Sedgwick look—all ‘60s glam. I even ironed my uniform, a typical diner waitress outfit. Blue shirtdress that hit just above my knees. I slipped on my Keds and grabbed my apron.

I planned to knock his socks off.

. . . I approached him after counting to twenty. I didn’t want to seem too eager.

“Hi,” I said. I felt bright and bubbly and on top of the world.


I placed my hand on my hip and popped it out. “Come here often?” I couldn’t resist.

“Once. The waitress was cute, but she’s got nothing on you,” Ryan said.

Damn right she doesn’t. I went Edie Sedgwick for you, buddy.

“God, you look gorgeous,” he said.

Oh, those heart flutters. I wanted to feel those heart flutters forever.

“I’m in an ugly uniform,” I said, looking down at my outfit. I smoothed my apron on my stomach.

“Not ugly at all. Sexy more like.”

I blushed, and this time he saw. I couldn’t conceal it under the glare of the restaurant lights.

“Hungry?” I asked, and pulled out my order pad.

“What would you recommend?”

“Honestly? I’ve only eaten the turkey sandwich. It was all right,” I confessed.

“Don’t you get to eat for free?” Ryan asked.

“Are you kidding? A little bit of a discount, sure, but nothing for free,” I said. “And anyway, I’m so tired after work, I don’t want to stick around and eat. I want to go home.”

“I can understand that,” he said. He looked over the menu. “Well, I guess I’ll try this steak sandwich.”

“A man who eats manly meat,” I said. “I like it.”

“Manly meat, huh?” he asked, chuckling.

“Sure. Didn’t you know steak was the manliest of meats?”

“Making a note of it,” Ryan said.

I nodded. “And to drink?”

“A Cherry Coke,” he said.

“Now that’s a little girly, but I’ll let it slide.”

“Well, I really ordered it for you,” Ryan said. “See, I thought you could bring it over here along with two straws. You could sit across from me, and we could drink it together.”


Ryan Confesses
Ryan closed Brooke’s front door softly and walked towards the street. He turned in the direction of his house, then changed his mind, walking the opposite way towards a community park. It was dusk, and he knew the park would be empty. He wanted, needed, the solitude to lash out.
He picked up speed, deciding it was wiser to run. He felt the tears welling and wanted to be safely hidden before they poured forth. He was out of breath when he made it to the playground, and crawled under a bridge that made up part of a play castle. And then he lost it, burying his face in his hands, crying shamelessly and angrily.
“Fuck!” he screamed into the purple air. The sun was nearly hidden, casting about the striking shades of a picture he had just painted with Brooke. He didn’t want to see the colors. They looked like her. They felt like her. They smelled like her. They screamed at him. Told him he was a charlatan, that he didn’t deserve her and never would.
He threw his head back, staring at the underside of the bridge and shouted, “What the fuck am I supposed to do?!”
No answer.
“What am I supposed to tell her?!”
No answer.
“God, please,” he pleaded, pounding the ground on either side of him.
No answer.
He pulled his knees up to his chest and hung his head, crying as hard as he did the night he was fourteen years old and went home instead of to the police station. He cried for Lucy and Brooke and all the other girls who were victims because he was a coward. He didn’t know how to make it right. He didn’t know how to face Brooke tomorrow.
He held it together tonight while she detailed her attack. He wanted to be strong for her. It was nearly impossible when all he wanted was to break down just like her, cry and scream his anger just as she’d done. But he knew he couldn’t. It wouldn’t be right. Wouldn’t be fair. She needed someone strong, someone to cry on, and so he would be strong for her.
He closed his eyes, seeing Brooke’s face change to Lucy’s. Seeing Lucy’s face change to some girl he didn’t know. And her face change to another girl he didn’t know. They lined themselves up in his brain, standing there staring at him, waiting patiently for him to make the decision. To do the right thing. It would take him a week, but he would go. He would find the strength to go.
“Hi?” Lucy said, confused.
“I’m Ryan.”
“I know who you are,” she said, her mouth turning up in a sad smile. “You’re dating Brooke.”
He nodded. “May I come in?”
“Uh, sure,” Lucy replied. She moved aside to allow him in, watching him suspiciously as he walked into the living room. “How’s Brooke?”
“Scared. Angry.” Ryan stood in the middle of the room unsure of what to do.
Lucy nodded and made her way to the couch, inviting him to join her. They sat in an awkward silence for a few moments while Ryan tried to formulate his thoughts, his reason for visiting.
“I just . . . I just want you to beat the shit out of me, okay?”
Lucy looked up. “Huh?”
“For what I’m about to tell you. Just hit me as hard as you want.”
“What are you talking about?” she asked.
Ryan was quiet, rubbing his face. Lucy grew frightened immediately.
“Did something else happen to Brooke?”
Ryan looked at her confused. “Huh? What? No no. She’s okay. I mean, she’s still shaken, but she’s okay. I mean she’s safe. She’s not okay. She’s safe.”
“Then what was that comment all about?” Lucy asked. She felt the inevitable tears, the ones she’d been crying all week for Brooke.
“Lucy . . .” Ryan’s voice trailed off.
“Tell me why are want me to beat the shit out of you!” Lucy demanded.
“I was there that night. I saw you. On that bed. I tried to stop it. I didn’t know what the hell was going on. I thought I was going to a drinking party. That’s what they told me. I tried to stop them, Lucy, but I couldn’t.” And then the tears poured forth anew, running unabashedly down his cheeks. He didn’t wipe them away. He wanted her to see them, to believe them, because they were true.
Lucy sat stunned, staring at him.
“I didn’t know about that sex league, Lucy. I wasn’t part of it. I don’t know if they brought me to that motel room to initiate me or something, but I freaked out. I fought them, but they beat the shit out of me.” He looked up at her, a wild expression on his face. “Hit me, Lucy.”
“Do it!”
“I don’t—”
“I want you to! Please, just beat the shit out of me!”
Lucy thought he’d gone crazy. She hopped up from the couch and backed away.
“That’s it. I’m a monster. But don’t back away from me. Hit me instead. Don’t be afraid,” he said, standing up.
Lucy took another step back.
“Stop backing away from me!” he shouted. “Fucking stand up for yourself!”
Something snapped in her brain at the sound of those words: “Stand up for yourself.” And then she came at him, her fists flailing. She pounded his chest, slapped his face repeatedly, punched his stomach until he doubled over.
“Why?!” she screamed, smacking the side of his head as he stood, bent over, not resisting or trying to protect himself. “Why did you let them do that to me?!”
She pounded his body. She wouldn’t let up. Her tears seemed to fuel her rage, and she struck him with all the strength her 100-pound body could muster.
“They were too strong,” Ryan gasped, feeling her tiny fists all over him.
And then her fists were gone. Just like that. He turned his face to look at her, unsure if it was safe or possible to stand up again.
“Did you try?”
“I tried,” he replied. “I got a few swings in before I blacked out.”
“Blacked out?”
“They beat me unconscious,” he replied, standing up.
Lucy’s mouth dropped open.
“It’s no excuse, Lucy. But when I came to, they told me they’d kill me if I talked. I was scared. Young and scared. But it’s no excuse.”
They stared at one another for a while. Ryan was determined to hold her gaze, knowing this was part of the punishment he deserved—staring at the victim he couldn’t help. He felt the same weakness now as he did that night in the motel room.
“I’m sorry they did that to you,” Lucy said, and then she walked towards him and wrapped her arms around his sore waist.
He stood frozen, unable to comprehend the turn of events. She should be crying and screaming at him, not hugging him. He didn’t know where to put his arms. He wanted to engulf her in them, allow himself the allusion of protecting her, but he was afraid.
“It’s okay,” she whispered into his chest, and then he wrapped his arms around her, holding her hard to him—perhaps too hard—but she didn’t resist. She just cried. And he cried.
Hours later Lucy had learned everything. Everything Ryan could remember. They sat on the couch while he detailed his depression, the strained relationship that developed between himself and his parents, and his loneliness at school.
“Well, if I would have known you were so lonely, I would have talked to you. We could have been lonely together,” Lucy offered. She grinned and chuckled. Ryan stared at his lap. “Ryan?”
“It was supposed to be funny.”
She sighed.
“I heard the rumors Cal started about you,” Ryan said.
“Yeah? I heard the shit he said about you, too.”
“I should have talked to you.”
“Me too. Nobody should ever feel alone in high school.”
Ryan snorted.
“We can be friends now,” Lucy suggested, and he smiled.
“I want to go to the police. I want to tell them what I saw.”
“But Ryan, you really didn’t see anything,” Lucy said.
“It doesn’t matter. I know what happened to you. I know what they were planning to do to you. And I want to tell the police.”
Lucy sat silent for a moment. Ryan fidgeted with his fingers.
“They’ll want me to give a statement,” she said.
Ryan nodded.
“I’m afraid.”
“Lucy, you just beat the hell out of me. Are you really afraid anymore?” Ryan asked. He looked at her and smiled. She grinned.
“Well, perhaps not. But you didn’t see much that night. I don’t remember anything, really. What are the chances those boys will be found guilty for anything?”
“It doesn’t matter. It happened to you. And that’s what we say. Because it’s the truth.”
Lucy nodded. She thought better than to bring it up, but she couldn’t keep the secret any longer. “Ryan?”
“Did Brooke ever tell you why she was hanging out with Cal?”
Ryan tensed. “No.”
Lucy shifted in her seat. “Cal raped Beth. Her best friend. Did she ever tell you about Beth?”
Ryan looked shocked. “I went to Beth’s funeral, and yes, I knew she was Brooke’s best friend, but I never knew why she committed suicide.”
Lucy took a deep breath. “I have no business telling you this, but I think you should know. And I’m not telling you this to make you feel worse than you already do, but Brooke’s your girlfriend and she should have been honest with you. Honest with someoneabout her fucked-up plan.”
“What are you talking about?” Ryan felt the warning flutters in his heart. For a split second he thought he didn’t want to learn what Lucy insisted on telling him.
“Brooke cheated with Beth’s boyfriend. She carried around a lot of guilt over it, especially after Beth took her life. She thought the only way to find forgiveness was to set herself up as a rape victim in order to get Cal behind bars. It was crazy and stupid, and she eventually abandoned the plan. I think you had a lot to do with that.”
Ryan stared off into the corner of the room. He couldn’t process the things Lucy was saying.
“It’s like she finally came to her senses. But then—” Lucy took a deep breath. She didn’t want to cry anymore, but she couldn’t stop herself. “—Why did she take that drink?!”
“I don’t know.”
“How can someone be savvy and stupid at the same time?!”
“I don’t know.”
“I’m so angry at her, and it’s not her fault. But I’m angry, Ryan!”
“I know.”
“I hate those boys!” Lucy cried. “I want to kill them. I’ve never felt it before—the urge to kill someone. But I want to. If they were here, I’d kill them with these hands!” She turned her palms up and showed Ryan. He took her hands in his.
“I’d rather you not go to prison, too,” he said, trying for lightness. It worked, and she smiled. “But we can make them pay. We can go to the police. Tell them the truth.”
Lucy nodded.
“Will you?”
“I want you to go. I do,” Lucy said. “But will you just give me some time?”
“Yes.” Ryan squeezed her hands and let go.
“Should I not have said anything about Brooke’s secrets? It really wasn’t mine to tell.”
“I think you were trying to do the right thing.”
“Are you angry that she didn’t talk with you about Beth?”
“No. I can’t be angry with her for keeping secrets when I did the same.”
Ryan didn’t voice it aloud, but for the first time he felt like he didn’t know Brooke at all. And he knew that once he admitted his secret to her, he’d never get the chance.

“Ryan, why are you so gorgeous and strange?”

My sister told me she laughed her butt off at that part in the book—the part where Brooke gets drunk. I wanted it to be silly and lighthearted to take away from some of the heaviness in the novel. I mean, good grief. If the entire novel were like Chapter 20, who on earth would read it??

But back to gorgeous and strange Ryan. It’s official. The ladies love him, and many of you were a little mad you didn’t get more of him in the book. In my defense, I will say that Going Under was not meant to be primarily a romance. In fact, I purposely wrote the romance as a side item. This did not make for completely happy fans. You were semi-happy, but not all-the-way happy. ☺ So here’s me making it up to you. I’m giving you a little inside information on our leading man that hopefully will allow you to forgive me in some way for not featuring him on every page. xo

Full name: Ryan James Foster

Born: September 27 in Raleigh, North Carolina at WakeMed
Astrological Sign: Libra
Stats: 6’2”; 180 lbs; brown hair; blue eyes
Favorite food: Steak fajitas
Favorite music: The Smashing Pumpkins, specifically their Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness album. (His older cousin turned him on to ‘90s alternative rock.)
Favorite TV show: Game of Thrones
Activities: surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding (he’s really hot when he snowboards), swimming, making out with Brooke
Favorite book: The Call of the Wild by Jack London
Favorite movie: Snatch (Hey, what do you want me to say?)
College degree: B.S. Business Finance
Current job: Finance manager for a chain of local skateboard and skateboard supplies stores in Chapel Hill, NC

Idiotic move in college: Hosted a “hurricane party” at a friend’s place half a mile from the beach. These are popular parties during hurricane season in Wilmington, NC, and they really piss off the local authorities. No one was hurt, but a lot of college students got wasted and then naked. Ryan only got partially naked.

Biggest regret about Brooke: Not getting out of the car. He drove to NC State to see Brooke her freshmen year. He sat in the car in front of her dorm. He waited for hours and finally saw her walking towards the dorm entrance. And he wanted to go to her, but he was afraid. So he watched her swipe her key card, open the door, and disappear from view. He wouldn’t see her again for two years.

Sweetest Moment: Marrying Brooke. Simple. No fuss. A courthouse. The important people. A beautiful woman in a little white dress. Saying “I do.” And the next installment in their great big adventure.

Random Stuff:
~Broke his arm three times when he was in elementary school and middle school.
~Had braces twice: once in fourth grade and then again in seventh because he never wore his retainer.
~Played center forward in soccer until he messed up his knee.
~Pledged a fraternity in college and then quit.
~Turned down a make-out session with a girl in his freshmen composition class. Told her he was already committed to someone else.
~Became inseparable friends with Alyssa from philosophy. She was the only one who could stomach his incessant talk about Brooke.
~Wears one contact in his right eye to give him monovision (one eye sees distance and one eye reads up close).
~Does pushups every day.
~Tried vegetarianism for a week at the insistence of his friend, Charlie. Missed his steak fajitas too much to commit for life.
~Wants to give Brooke babies as soon as possible.

Okay fans. If that didn’t placate you, I will be collecting questions about Ryan during the tour that I will answer at the end. You have to email me at to ask a question (please limit them to two), and I will post all the questions and answers by June 9. Sound good?

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: Christine Brae featuring her debut novel The Light in the Wound

1.Can you describe your write style in one sentence?
Brief, casual and to the point.

2. What are your top 5 books
The Opportunist, One Day, Gabriel’s Inferno, Gabriel’s Rapture, How to Kill a Rockstar, Binding Arbitration

3. If you were not writing what would you be doing?
Getting my butt off my chair and working out more

4. If you had to give up all but one of the following what would you keep. Facebook, Twitter, your phone or your laptop? My phone

5. Lastly, if you had to recommend one author other than yourself who would it be and why? Tarryn Fisher, she’s incredibly smart, intensely dark and refreshingly genuine.

Affected by her parents’ highly publicized broken marriage, Isabel grows up isolated and alone with a resolve never to fall in love and repeat their mistakes. When Jesse Cain enters her life, she falls hopelessly in love with him and every sadness she’s ever felt is washed away by his intensity and passion. But people change as they grow up and things can never stay the same forever. Can Jesse and Isabel fight for what they have enough to stay together? Who says you can’t hold on to your first love? Will a second love ever be enough to make you forget?

(special thanks to Lindsay Sparkes for the banners & teaser designs)

Twitter: @christinebrae

Andrea Randall Weekend Special May 17th – 19th

 This weekend only Andrea Randall has the November Blue Series on special
May 17th till 19th
This is the first book in the November Blue series.

Scars from her first love and the reckless lifestyle of her parents force Ember Harris to chart a new course. She favors practicality over spontaneity and rules over a broken heart.

An encounter with a musician at a local pub forces Ember into making a decision to let go or hold on for dear life as passions are unlocked and deceptions revealed.

This is the second book in the November Blue series.

November Harris is lost. After a failed romance with musician Bo Cavanaugh, Ember is left struggling to regain her true self. The problem is, Bo won’t go away and Ember’s stance is firm—she doesn’t want him back.

Adrian Turner, Ember’s ex-boyfriend-turned confidant, is patient with her heartbreak, but he can’t hold back his own feelings forever.

As she sorts through her past, in an effort to plan a solid future, Ember will find that sometimes even the best laid plans bow to the soul’s desire for reckless abandon.


Exclusive: Ryker’s POV from Andrea Randall’s In the Stillness

Andrea Randall has written a special treat for all you In the Stillness fans!  We are getting the farmers market encounter from Ryker’s point of view!  What was going through Ryker’s mind when he first laid eyes on Natalie after ten years apart? Read and you will find out!  Enjoy…
Ryker’s POV
It’s hotter than usual for this time of year, and the sweat is pouring off me, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. The farm finally secured a contract with Atkins Market, and I’m unloading our first delivery with my buddy, Steve.
“This is the last box, Steve. I’ll be right in.” I hand him the last crate of squash and take a breath in the shade of the truck before jumping out into the blazing sun. Leaning forward to pick up the stack of dirtied papers, I’m stopped by a familiar voice.
“Natalie! What are you doing?”
On instinct, I whip around. For ten years, wherever I’ve been and whatever I’ve been doing, any time I hear Natalie, I turn around. It’s never her.
Until right now.
Shit. That’s Natalie. My Natalie. No. No, it can’t be her. If it were, she wouldn’t be walking toward me. She’d be running. Or yelling. Her eyes are wide, unblinking, and moving slowly across my face and up and down my body. I can see that her full lips are slightly parted, set in neither a smile nor a frown. Remembering, against my better judgement, how her lips once felt against my skin, accelerates my heart. Natalie’s arms are hanging loosely at her side, though they’re not moving as she carefully places one foot in front of the other. The closer she gets, the more it looks and feels like we’re in a dream—that she’s in a trance and I’m frozen in place.
Wiping sweat from my forehead, I’m certain that I’m watching the same girl walk toward me that walked toward me twelve years ago on the common. The gorgeous girl that I couldn’t help but kiss a minute later. I’m staring at the girl, now a woman, who put on a brave face and kissed me goodbye before I left for war. I take off my gloves and rub my eyes, trying to ignore and disguise tears that have filled them. Blinking twice and reminding myself to breathe, I’m forced to recognize this is real. It’s Natalie.
Say something, fool, before she comes to her senses and runs away. Like she should.
My breath catches in my throat as she stops ten feet in front of me, staring for an eternity and a half before slowly shaking her head.
Her voice. It’s her voice. God, her voice. Suddenly I’m back in Afghanistan, anxiously waiting for her to pick up the phone. Shaking my head, too, I grin in spite of myself.
Her lips part further, but neither one of us moves. Out of my peripheral vision, I see Steve approaching.
“We’re all set, Ryker, just bring them the inventory sheets and they say we’re good to go.”
I can’t look at him. If I do, she might disappear. To be safe, I just blindly slap his shoulder, grateful that her eyes aren’t searching for an escape. “All right, Steve-o. Thanks.”
As I pry my feet from the asphalt and walk toward her, I notice Tosha approaching Natalie, looking flustered. “Seriously, Natalie,” she says, “what are you do—” she drops her bags as her eyes land on me. “Ryker?”
Stopping just in front of Natalie, and ignoring Tosha for the moment, my lips form a full smile as I take her in. Her hair is still long, and hanging free down her back like I always liked it. She barely looks a day older than the last time I saw her, except there’s a slight tiredness that’s settled in her eyes. She’s still breathtaking, as always.
“Hi,” I manage.
“Hi,” Natalie says as she exhales. She looks scared. I am, too.
Tosha takes Natalie’s hand as she looks me from head-to-toe. Her eyes bore through me as, I’m sure, she’s looking for signs of the last Ryker she saw. One I barely remember. One who’s not here anymore. Smiling through my nerves, I run a hand through my hair, staring at the pair of speechless women.
Tosha takes a breath. “Hi Ryker.”
“Hey Tosha!”
Okay, that was a little more excited than I’d intended, but, neither of them are ignoring me. She lets go of Natalie’s and hand stands on her tip toes, giving me a hug. I look to Natalie as Tosha pulls away. God, I want to hug her. I want to pick her up and swing her around, setting her down twelve years ago, where maybe we could start all over.
As if she hears my thoughts, Natalie lunges forward and wraps her arms tightly around my neck. I lock my hands around her lower back, dropping my papers as I breathe her in. Sweet Jesus, she still smells like lilacs.
The last time I laid eyes on her, at her graduation from Mount Holyoke, she was laughing with Tosha and some dark-haired guy who I saw her kiss a minute or so before she spotted me. The way her face sank as she found me across the grass broke my heart, and I got the hell out of there as fast as I could.  I plucked a lilac from it’s bush on the walk to the car, vowing to stay far away from her for the rest of my life. I owed her that.
Her soft cheek brushes against my chin, and we sway for a moment. For just a second it’s us. She lets go first and takes a step back.
She chuckles uncomfortably. “I can’t believe you’re here.
She’s right. Here. We’ve lived in the same town for several years and have managed to avoid each other this whole time. I’ve never tried to avoid her, to be honest. But, knowing how things ended between us, that’s exactly what she’s been doing.
Tucking my hands in my pockets, I try for a nonchalant shrug. “I just got a contract with them last week, this is our first delivery.”
Watching those bottomless dark eyes flick back and forth between the truck and my face, I realize I’ve skipped a step.
Smiling again, I say, “It’s my farm, Nat. I started it two years ago and this is the first year we’re selling off of the property.”
Idiot, don’t call her Nat! That name doesn’t belong to you anymore. I find myself wondering who, exactly, it does belong to.
She and Tosha look at each other, wide-eyed. Natalie smiles, looking back at me, settling my heart’s uneven race. “That’s amazing, Ryker, good for you.”
“Thanks.” My eyes fall to the ground for a second. They take their time coming back up—following the curve of her hips before meeting her eyes again. “You look great, Natalie.”
She does.
“You do too.” I feel the tension around us snap as I watch her face relax.
I’m about to open my mouth and try to say thirty things at once, when an impatient truck driver honks his horn.
Dude, seriously?! This is Natalie, give me a second!
“Shit, listen,” I shake my head to help me focus. Her eyes haven’t stopped moving across my face since she spotted me. I’d kill to know what she’s thinking. “I gotta get these papers inside and get back to the farm. You should stop by sometime and see the operation.” Tosha’s been picking up the bags she dropped when she saw me. I pick up the last one and hand it to Natalie. “It was great seeing you, Natalie.”
You should stop by sometime? What?
I can’t believe it’s her. Still. Reaching out, needing to touch her one more—one last—time, I softly squeeze her shoulder before picking my papers up off the ground and jogging inside before she can tell me to go to hell.
Once back in the truck, alongside Steve, after we settle up inside, he pulls me out of my head.
“Who was that you were talking to? She’s hot. So was her friend.” Steve nods approvingly as he speaks.
I open my mouth three different times. How do I tell him? Sure, Steve and I are friends, but only in the last couple of years. He knows I have a messy past, but the details haven’t ever been necessary. She’s the only thing that went right for me back then, and I fucked it up. Big time.
With my stomach twisted in knots, and a lump forming in my throat, I shrug, deciding the less he knows, the less I have to fill in. “She’s just this girl I used to know.”
I feel guilty as soon as the words are out. Natalie’s not just anything. She never has been. She was my soul mate. Is. And I ruined her. But, she looked healthy and happy. Turning left to head back to the farm, I fight the urge to track her down. To grab her face and kiss her, to kiss away the pain I caused in her.
No. I take a deep breath and ignore the lilac buds on the trees as we head down the road. I can’t ever see her again.

Natalie is a wife.
Natalie is a mother.
Natalie is a cutter.

Clawing at walls built by resentment, regret, and guilt, Natalie cuts as an escape from a life she never planned.

Staying present is only possible when you let go of the past. But, what if the past won’t let go?