kim karr

Blog Tour Review & Excerpt: Mended by Kim Karr

Title: Mended (Connections #3)
Author: Kim Karr
Release date: June 3, 2014


Always in control, Xander Wilde considered life on the road to be a perfect fit for him. But when disaster strikes on the Wilde Ones’ latest tour, fate intervenes…and a newly single Ivy Taylor, the only girl he has ever loved, steps back into his life.

After moving past her painful breakup with Xander years ago, Ivy was poised to become the next big name in pop music…when suddenly she withdrew from the limelight—the same day she announced her engagement to her controlling agent, Damon Wolf.

Xander knows he should keep his distance. But once they’re on the road, he can’t resist pursuing her for a second chance. Yet a jealous Damon can’t let her go—and he’s keeping dangerous secrets that could destroy them all.

When the three of them come together, everything falls apart. But if Xander and Ivy can hold tight to the bond that connects them, they just might have a chance at reclaiming the powerful love they thought they had lost forever….


Seeing as how I completely and totally fell for the Connection series and the writing of Kim Karr in book one, it was no surprise that I jumped at the opportunity to read Mended, the third installment. The fact that this book revolves around Xander, and his first love, Ivy, just made me more interested in reading it. 
A wonderful love story ignites between Xander and Ivy in this third story and I enjoyed the heck out of the stimulating romantic chase between these two. Beautifully paced, the mounting passion between this couple makes for some truly HOT reading.
I love Xander. I have always known there is much more to the guy than his usual arrogance and confidence. Personally, I wanted to smack him around a little for letting go of the only love he once knew but he has his reasons and so I wanted stay to soothe his pain. This book has definitely revealed his other side, vulnerable, caring, and loyal. 

“With his first grin in my direction – I melted. When he first played his guitar for me – he scored my mind. When he first kissed me – he stole my heart.”

Let’s not forget about Ivy. Ivy made for one staggeringly seductive, bewitching, and bewildered heroic romantic lead. Always the sweet and beautiful girl, she’s had more than her fair share of complications in life.

“Xander, my body might want you but my heart doesn’t.”

Twelve years later and this two still find themselves insanely attracted to each other. And now that Xander gets a second chance to make the relationship work, he makes sure he does things differently and doesn’t make the same mistakes that caused the first try to fail. 

“…everything I ever felt for her, it’s all still inside me.”

“…we could play the game – pretend we both didn’t feel what we felt the minute we saw each other at the pool, but I’d rather not. I loved you when I was fourteen. I loved you when I was eighteen and had to let you go. I’ve loved you for the last twelve years. And I love you now. Ivy- I love you.”

But its not as easy as he thinks, because things are a little too complicated now. Not only is Ivy already engaged to her controlling freak of an agent, Damon, but also the emotional baggage, the past grudges and resentment keeps carting back, hampering their chances at improving on what they had.
Can Xander and Ivy move past whatever is still bothering them? Are they ready to start fresh, avoid temptations to rehash old fights and MEND old wounds? 

“Xander Wilde the boy may have broken my heart once upon a time… but Xander Wilde the man, is the one who mended it.”

I simply adore this book! I think this is my most favorite book in the series. It was far more lighthearted than River and Dahlia’s story, but it had its share of drama to balance it out. Xander is even more intriguing than I could have conceived and the plot presented a much more realistic story. Mended has a very rigorous underpinning with some heartrending moments that definitely suit the story and will firmly hold your interest up to the very last page.
It is a beautiful story that involves reconnection with a lost love; a love so familiar, beautiful and comforting. And it is such a wonderful feeling to witness how Xander and Ivy were swept back to the powerful emotions of their own past, the regrets, desires, sexual chemistry and lost chances, while at the same time propelling them into a new future.
Kim Karr did a very good job in redeveloping their relationship with no traces of romance for a very long time. The tension is high up until the last few pages – and the final twist threw me for a loop but the true brilliance can be seen at the ending. It is astounding and arresting! Any author who can keep my interest like this and make me feel everything from in love, to anger, and finally relief, has my deepest respect! 
And Kim Karr has definitely earned it.
However, I do recommend reading this series in order. Having a bit of a background on Xander and Ivy from previous books certainly provides some grounding and insight of their past. 
If you enjoy strong characters and the conflict they can end up while working their way to a second chance romance, Mended could be the perfect fit for you. 4.5 stars!

Xander Wilde 
Excerpt from Mended Connections #3 by Kim Karr © 2013 by Kim Karr 
Published by the Penguin Group Release date: June 3, 2014
The magic of rock and roll—it casts a spell on you. I’m no exception. I’m a band manager and I’m living the dream, touring with The Wilde Ones, helping them secure their well-deserved place in the music industry. I love being a part of it all, especially watching the band perform live—the crowds, the cheers, the music. It’s a high and a low all at once and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Every step of the way with this band has been fun, exciting, stressful—every possible emotion. Obviously we’ve had some breaks but mostly we all put in a lot of hard work—myself, Garrett Flynn, Phoenix Harper, River Wilde, and now Zane Perry. 
“Can you hear me now?” he bellows. 
I nod my head as my heart pounds in my chest. My hands feel cold and clammy and a nervousness that makes me weak and shaky takes over. Doubts race through my head and I’m questioning if he’s going to make it through this. A vague awareness that something bad could happen kicks around in my mind and I can’t shake it. The Wilde Ones are doing a sound check on stage and Zane’s not on his game. 
It’s July and the weather has been brutally hot. But today it seems cooler. Maybe it’s the California weather maybe it’s the excitement of being home. The Beautiful Lies Tour bus finally rolled back into our home state of California after six months away. When we pulled into the amphitheater, we could see tanned kids in board shorts and bikini tops already lined up at the will call window. Security guards in polo shirts directed us to the artist parking lot, and we were officially home. Tonight we’ll be headlining our biggest show to date. We’re on tour without my brother, River, and still more than half of the shows are sold out, including tonight’s. River quit the band—touring just wasn’t for him but even so the album is on its way up the charts. Who knows it may even hit gold status. 
The songs on the album were written and sung by River but are performed in concert by Zane. Having him as my brother’s replacement has been the key to our successful transition in a world where replacing leads is normally unsuccessful—simply put, we’re lucky as hell to have him. River promised to make a surprise appearance at our next stop. It’s going to be epic. 
But tonight is all about the arena—Mountain View and the Shoreline. “That’s enough,” I yell to the band and call rehearsal. This place is the biggest outdoor venue we’ve played and I couldn’t be more stoked—or more nervous. A sold out show and a rocking opening band—what a combination. But a lead singer with another cold and a weakened voice that can’t be heard throughout an amphitheater scares the shit out of me. 
I head straight for the bus and spend the next few hours hashing out a song with Nix that he calls a jumbled mess of muscular sense and big-riff sunshine—whatever the hell that means. All I know is that it needs help and that’s why he’s turning to me. I hadn’t played guitar since I was eighteen but for some reason over the course of this tour I’ve picked it back up. At first I used whatever was lying around but last month I had my mother mail my old one to me and it feels like home. It’s a light blue and brown Gibson and I had to have it because it was the guitar that Slash played on. Playing again seems to help pass the time and brings a calm over me that I haven’t felt in awhile. 
Hours pass and before I know it, it’s almost show time. We make our way over to the Amphitheater, do the typical festival schmooze fest, and then settle back to wait. Waiting for them to take the stage is always the most nerve-racking time. I’m sitting in the practically vacant makeshift meet and greet area back stage and sipping a beer in a worthless effort to calm my nerves when a voice travels through the sound system. It’s a powerful and emotive mezzo-soprano range that is nothing short of explosive. She sounds unlike any singer I’ve ever heard before—with only one exception, Ivy Taylor. I push back the memory of her name and the emotions it evokes—the memories are just too painful. I can’t see her on stage but I know that the voice belongs to Jane Mommsen. Her band Breathless is playing right before The Wilde Ones. 
A hand on my shoulder startles me. I twist and glance up as Amy sits down beside me, crossing her legs. “Hi, Xander. I thought I saw you earlier at the hotel.” 
She’s a beautiful woman—long, wavy dark hair, petite figure, very natural looking. She’s wearing jeans, a blue shirt with some kind of foil design, and silver sandals. Grinning at her I say, “Finally we catch up. Can I get you a drink?” 
“I’d love that. How’s life on the road been?”
“You know, it has its ups and downs but actually not bad. You?”
“Jane’s been going full-force for a while now. But the tour ends with the summer. 
I’ll be glad to be back in LA.”
Standing up, I laugh. “I know the feeling. I’ll be right back, let me grab us that 
drink.” Tossing my empty bottle, I make my way to the coolers lined up under the tent and grab two beers. I know she’d rather have a glass of Chardonnay but beer it is. Amy is Jane’s assistant and I’ve taken her out more than a few times. We went to high school together and Amy and I know most of the same people so whenever I need a date, I ask her. Last time I saw her was almost nine months ago when I took her to River and Dahlia’s wedding. 
Heading back to the table I hear Jane yell out to the crowd, “Are you ready for three of the hottest guys in music?” The audience starts screaming and the stage lights dim cuing the guys that it’s the fifteen-minute countdown until they take the stage. The band huddles together in their typical pre-performance stance. I’ll have a quick drink with Amy and then join them. As I hand her the bottle my fingers touch hers and we both grin, knowing that we will end up alone by the end of the night. 
“You sticking around for the whole show?”
“I think I might,” she smiles.
“How about we ride back to the hotel together and grab a real drink at the bar?” “Sounds like a plan.”
“Great. Time for me to get back to work.” 
She rises from the table, I do the same. She stands up on her toes and kisses me quickly on the lips. “See you tonight,” she smiles. 
“Catch you later,” I say and then cross the room to join the band.
“You’re late,” Nix snickers. “What’s with you two anyway?” he asks.
I shrug my shoulders. “Nothing. We casually see each other once in a while.” Garrett raises an eyebrow. “Chicks are never cool with casual.” 
Shaking my head at him, I don’t bother to disagree. Amy and I have been doing this for years. It works for her and for me. We like each other’s company but only see each other sporadically. I’ll call her once in a while and we’ll go out but we are in no way exclusive. I don’t ask her about other men and she doesn’t ask me about other women. I grab the bottle and pour the amber liquid into the shot glasses stacked on the cap. It’s our pre-show routine. A shot and a prayer, so to say. It’s Garrett’s turn tonight to ‘pray’ so this should be good. 
He raises his glass. “Here’s to hoping Xander gets laid so he’ll get off our backs.” 
Tipping my glass back, I quickly down the amber liquid. It burns as it makes its way down my throat. Once we’ve all drank our two shot maximum before a show Garrett follows his toast up with, “Seriously man, you need to get laid.” 
The guys laugh and I actually join in. Jerking off in the small bathroom on the bus is definitely one of the downsides of touring. I’ve slept with a few girls at some of our stops but screwing groupies isn’t really my thing. I’m not one to have time for a girlfriend but I’m also not about to pull my dick out backstage, so it’s been a long six months. 
Zane coughs after he slings back the shot and I look at him with concern. “You’re going to a doctor tomorrow.” 
He shakes his head. “Yes, Mom, if you say so.”
“I’m not kidding. Your voice sounds like shit.”
“It’s a fucking cold. I took some medicine. I’ll be fine.”
“Doctor. Tomorrow. I mean it. I’ll have Ena set it up.”
“I can always sing,” Garrett chimes in and I smack the back of his head.
“Hey. I can.”
The lights start to flicker and I look at Zane with that feeling of uneasiness again. 
Second time this tour he’s coughing and hacking. We’re screwed if he really gets sick. He nods at me as I pat him on the back. Slinging his guitar over his shoulder, he heads out first raising his arm in the air. The crowd goes crazy. The six foot guy is a chick magnet and no one misses my brother tonight. Garrett heads out next yelling, “Great to be here Mountain View!” and Nix follows with his trademark nod. Zane skips his normal charming banter and I know he must be saving his voice. Again, I think about how we’re fucked if he gets sick. 
I stand at the edge of the stage all night until they finally come to their last song. “It Wasn’t Days Ago,” is a simple but crowd affecting ballad and Zane belts it out. Shouts from nearly thirty thousand fans call for an encore. Turning away from the microphone Zane coughs again. Biting his thumbnail he looks over at me and I slice my finger across my neck. 
“One more song for tonight,” he tells the screaming fans and my blood pressure rises. “This one is a cover, an ‘ode to’ I’ll call it. It’s for Xander Wilde, the band’s manager and it’s his favorite song. Everyone ready?” As he starts to sing Linkin Park’s “Iridescent,” I close my eyes and listen. When he hits the chorus his voice gets so low my eyes snap open. Zane turns to grab a bottle of water while the guys continue to play but I can tell something isn’t right. 
Last night definitely didn’t go as planned—a visit to the ER, then sleeping in a chair next to Zane all night on the bus because the steroids he was given freaked him out. It’s noon and Amy and I are just arriving at the Pelican Hill Resort. Breathless was leaving right after the show last night so Amy had already planned to ride with us and meet up with them in Irvine. She invited me to some party being thrown by her band’s label that I would have rather not gone to but Ellie, the tour manager, insisted we all go for the good PR. 
I’m exhausted and really need some sleep before dealing with the press and tomorrow night’s show. The paparazzi have been everywhere—by the bus as we exited to the waiting car in LA, outside the doctor’s office, at the gates of Zane’s father’s house, and now they’re here in Irvine at the hotel. 
To avoid the chaos awaiting us in the lobby, I call Ellie, who is already here, and ask her to check me in and meet me at the pool bar with the key. Draping my arm around Amy, we head that way. I’ve been here a few times so I know my way around. Cutting through the grotto and over to the pool and cabanas, I steer Amy to the right and stop in my tracks as all the air rushes from my lungs. 
My body floods with adrenaline and my gut twists. I don’t even have to do a double take because I’d know her anywhere. There’s no mistaking her. She’s just so beautiful— the elegant planes of her face, those high cheekbones, red lipstick, her platinum blonde hair shorter than it used to be tucked behind her ear, that face of an angel. She looks the same. No, she looks better. Her skin glistens in the sun and my gaze automatically follows the shape of her long legs. They look smooth and tan against her white bathing suit. An ache forms in my chest as I think about running my fingers up them. She’s still that eighteen-year-old girl I once knew but now she has the body of a woman—lean and toned and full of curves. When she moves it’s so familiar it doesn’t seem like a day has passed—and everything I ever felt for her, it’s all still inside me. 
My pulse races at the mere sight of her. She’s lounging in the cushioned chair reading a magazine just outside a cabana. My heart slams harder in my chest when she sticks her earphones in her ears like she always used to do and it transports me back to the last time I saw her do the very same thing. We’d skipped school and were at my grandparents’ house—their pool. She was lying on the lounge chair listening to music and singing along—her voice so full of soul. I’d moved to sit with her under the guise of putting lotion of her back. She sat up and smiled that shy smile she didn’t need to have when she was with me. I squeezed the tube into my hand and after rubbing them together I slowly applied it to her back kneading my way up and down, touching every inch of her that I could. 
It brings me back to the here and now when she suddenly sits up and looks over at me. Her eyes pin me in place. She looks at me as if she remembers me for who I was, what we were, not what I did to her. With my chest pounding, memories of us keep flashing through my mind. Fighting a smile, I wonder if she’s thinking the same thing— remembering what we were, what we shared, how we loved. 
She quickly breaks our connection when she averts her eyes over to the man handing her a drink. I suck in a deep breath trying not to feel sick at the sight. He’s nearing fifty, wearing a terrycloth robe. He’s about my height, dark brown hair, meticulously groomed facial hair, and not exactly ripped but fit. He’s Damon Wolf, a man I’ve never actually met but hate all the same. I’ve seen their picture on TV and in magazines. He’s her agent, her fiancé, and I’m sure he’s the reason she’s not singing anymore. 
She looks up at him with that same forced smile she used to give people she just wanted to appease and mouths “thank you.” I have a sudden urge to go over and deck him when her gaze shifts back to mine and he pulls her chin back to look at him. I can sense a discomfort between them. We could sense each other’s feelings even when we weren’t near each other. 
Amy’s hand slides down my face and I have to blink a few times before I can hear what she’s saying. Glancing one last time at Ivy I see that she’s staring at me again. Then suddenly her mouth forms a scowl and she flicks her attention toward him. Hooking her arm around his neck, she pulls him down for a kiss and I think I might throw up. 
“Are you okay?”
I nod. Not able to say a word.
“Isn’t that Ivy Taylor over there? The girl you used to date in high school?” Amy 
asks. There’s an irritated tone to her voice I’m not used to hearing and it makes me agitated. 
“Yeah, it is,” is all I say. She’s not just a girl I used to date…she’s the only girl I ever really loved. She’s also the girl whose heart I broke. Seeing her now brings back all those feelings I blocked, ignored, tucked aside. So many times over the years I wanted to go after her and tell her the truth—but I never did. Why I don’t know. Then one day it was too late—she had gotten engaged. 
Amy chatters on. “I think that’s Damon Wolf with her. We should go say hi.” 
My body goes cold and my face blank at the thought. I straighten and just as I’m about to say, “No fucking way,” my phone vibrates in my pocket. Squinting at the screen, I see that it’s my brother. I look over to Amy and motion toward the bar. “Hey, this is River. I need to take it. I’ll meet you over there in a minute.” 
“That’s fine. We can catch up with them later. I’ll go order us a drink.” She smiles and starts toward the bar. 
Turning around to avoid staring at Ivy, I answer the phone. “It took you long enough to call me back.” 
“I was in a meeting and stepped out as soon as I could, so don’t start. What did the doctor say about Zane?” 
“He’s out for the rest of the tour and we’re fucked.” 
“You sure? You’re back in LA for almost two weeks after tomorrow night right? Isn’t that enough time for him to heal?” 
“Technically yes. But his old man wants him out. The doctor said that he couldn’t be sure how long the blood that accumulated under his vocal cords had been there but obviously last night, the amount of ruptured vessels was enough to cause his voice to change. He advised at least two weeks of rest before another evaluation to see if surgery is necessary. Zeak wants his son to take a longer period of time off. He’s just afraid that if Zane keeps singing and it keeps happening, scar tissue will build up and cause his voice to change forever.” 
“Do you blame him?” 
“No I don’t,” I tell River and I feel like shit that I have to put him in a position to do what he didn’t want to do in the first place. But I also know that if I don’t, the band won’t survive. If I have to cancel this tour—the Wilde Ones are done. So I ask, “Did you talk to Dahlia?” 
He sighs. “Yeah, I did. She’s cool with it, Xander. I’m just trying to figure it all out.” “You know I’ll do whatever you need me to do, right?”
“Shit why can’t you just be an ass and make it easy for me to say no?”
“Because you have no idea what this means to me.” 
“Actually I do, and that’s why I’m going to make it happen. But Xander, remember I can’t play a twelve string.” 
Laughter and relief take hold of me. I feel a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. “Right now I wouldn’t care if you only played the violin,” I joke. 
He laughs and I add, “You’ll be here tonight?” 
Now he sounds slightly annoyed. “I said I would. We might be a little late so don’t get your panties in a wad.” 
“That’s cool. Thanks for everything. Hey, one more thing.’ “What?”
“Ivy Taylor’s here.”
“No way. Have you talked to her?” 
“Fuck no. You know she won’t talk to me. And besides she’s with that asshole.” “You should talk to her. Tell her the truth.” 
“What’s that going to do now? She’ll just think I’m lying.”
“You want me to talk to her? I can explain everything.”
“No. I don’t need my little brother to fight my battles. I’ll talk to her if I feel the time 
is right. Do you hear me?”
“Whatever you say. Look, I have to run but I want to discuss this later. And 
Xander…you don’t know he’s an asshole. Just because Dad said his name once doesn’t mean shit.” 
“Right. Okay, see you tonight,” I say and end the call. My head is spinning knowing that after all these years I’m actually in the same place she is. I want to talk to her, tell her everything but what would it matter now anyway. Glancing behind me, I catch another glimpse of her with him that turns my stomach. He’s such a slime ball. Since his father was hospitalized and he took over the business, he’s been scooping up labels, tearing them apart, and rebuilding them with bands he thinks are better fits. My guess is he picked up Jane’s label—that’s why he’s here. I heard they were having some financial difficulty and he’s just the kind of bottom feeder that would want to capitalize on not only being her agent but now also her producer. The sight of him touching Ivy makes my skin crawl. 
Damon Wolf—two of the last words my father ever spoke to me before killing himself, and I never knew why. Of all the guys in the world Ivy had to end up with him— why him? I look up and they’re gone. But I’m anything but relieved. Rubbing my chin, I’m antsy, agitated, pissed as hell, but feel more alive than I have in years. 
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** DAZED ** 
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** MENDED ** 
(releases 6/3/2014 – novel)
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Book Spotlight: Connected & Torn Love Fest Promo by Kim Karr

Connected & Torn paperback release celebration LOVEFEST

What if a ‘Once in a Lifetime’ could happen twice? 
Suffering from a past full of tragedy, Dahlia London’s soul has been left completely shattered. Happily ever after is a far cry from reality in her world. But, when she is reconnected with her past, the bonds that form are irrefutable.
When River Wilde, lead singer of The Wilde Ones, comes back into Dahlia’s life, the intensity that fires their relationship combined with underlying feelings that have never died lead her to believe she has met her soulmate. 
Struggling with confusion as old connections fade and new ones begin, Dahlia’s grief begins to lift–but guilt remains. River wants to be the one to mend all that is torn within her. 
But with a past that is never really gone, can their future survive?

Chapter 2 
Time is Running Out 

The set ends so I walk over behind Garrett to lean my guitar against the wall. I pull my shirt up to wipe the sweat off my forehead. It’s hotter than shit in here and I need a drink. Garrett laughs, tipping his head back to swallow the beer he somehow already has. 
“You going to grab a drink? I’ll take another,” he says as he downs the rest of his beer. “And, dude, wear this. Seriously man, your hair looks like shit,” he says throwing his beanie at me. 
I move closer and shove him a little and put the hat on my head. “Shut the fuck up, you should talk.” 
I hop off the stage and my sister rushes over to me. “River, I need you to take me home as soon as the last set is over. I have someone meeting me back at my apartment.” I shake my head, knowing it must be a guy. “Yeah yeah, I will Bell, but really can’t 
you get a boyfriend that has some manners? You know, like actually picks his date up and maybe even takes her out? And at a decent hour?” 
She rolls her eyes. “All guys aren’t like you, big brother. Nice beanie,” she teases before disappearing back into the crowd. 
As I walk through the jam-packed room, some brunette chick I think looks familiar asks me if I want to grab a drink in private. I kindly refuse, telling her I need to refuel before my next set. She’s still talking when I motion toward the bar to signal that I’m moving away. As my eyes flash across the bar, they’re suddenly drawn to a beautiful girl standing against it. And she’s looking directly at me. 
I start walking toward her, leaving behind the brunette who is still talking. As I stare at the beautiful girl, I think, “I want her.” Tall, slim, long blonde hair that’s pulled away from her face. But it’s her eyes that get me—the way she’s looking at me. Shit, I’ve talked to about a dozen chicks tonight, but she is the only one who has me interested. 
As I stare back at her I’m feeling like she’s not just any girl. Not just a girl to have sex with. I’m actually having a fucking conversation with myself. I can’t figure out what’s going on in my own head. 
I try not to smile, but I know she’s checking me out. Fuck, why’d I put this hat on? I quickly pull it off and comb my fingers through my hair. I can’t take my eyes off her and I feel like I want to knock everyone out of my way to get to her. 
When I finally reach the bar, I stand right in front of her. For some weird reason I feel the urge to touch her, but instead I shove my hands in my pockets. She’s smiling at me and I smile right back. This girl is hot. Her eyes still haven’t left mine this whole time, so I decide to break the ice by calling her out. “Were you staring at me?” 
She pouts her lips and rolls her eyes. Shit, that look gets me. 
“No, I was just looking for my friend while I waited on my drinks. You just happened to be in my line of vision.” 
I stifle my laugh and say, “That look was hot.” I want to say, “You’re hot,” but I don’t—not yet anyway. 
I can tell she’s trying not to laugh. If she does, I know I have her. Her phone rings and her smile fades. “Why would you think I was looking at you, anyway?” 
The person beside her walks away and I secure my place next to her. I toss my hat on the counter and lean against the bar, my eyes never leaving hers. I answer in the most honest way I can. “Because I was staring at you, hoping you were staring back.” 
I don’t want to fuck this up so I decide to be the guy Bell always tells me I am—the guy with manners. Then I say what I should have said first. “With all this talk about who was staring at whom I think we forgot the basics, I’m River,” I say as I extend my hand. 
She reaches hers out. Hey, I get to touch her. But she quickly pulls her hand back before I get to grasp it and accidentally knocks a dude’s beer over. The asshole gives her a dirty look and swears. I know I have to step in because this guy is out of line. I gently guide her out of my way and try to control myself as I say, “Sorry man, just an accident, but let me buy you another.” I hand him a ten, “Buy two.” I hope he takes the money and leaves. Lucky for him he does, because otherwise I might deck him. 
I turn around to find the girl smiling at me and sliding one of her beers my way. I start to drink it and she says, “Thank you, that guy sure as shit wasn’t happy with me. In fact he kind of acted like an asshole.” I can’t help but laugh mid-sip, almost spitting the beer out of my mouth. Not cool. 
Not able to resist any longer, I run my finger over her smooth bare shoulder and lock 
my eyes on hers. “You’re more than welcome.”
She just barely shudders and steps back. I’m pretty sure she’s interested in me so I 
step closer, not wanting to break our connection. “Now, where were we? Do we need to start over?” I ask, looking into her eyes. 
“We were introducing ourselves,” she says smiling.
“Okay, so let’s try again. I’m River and you are . . .?”
“I’m not sure you need to know that information right now. I’m kind of thinking you 
might be a stalker,” she teases.
I laugh. I’m all about game playing but I’m not ready to play. I really want to get to 
know this girl, and I’m pretty sure the feeling is mutual, so I avoid dropping the canned line I might have used on another girl and say, “You’re not serious, are you beautiful girl?”
Rock star River Wilde brought Dahlia London back from the brink of hopelessness with his unwavering love and devotion. But their entangled history is about to test the strength of their relationship…
Dahlia was certain she had found true love and met her ‘Once in a Lifetime’ when she reconnected with River. But Dahlia’s world comes crashing down when someone from her past resurfaces, and all of River’s carefully hidden secrets are exposed.
River wants to show Dahlia that life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass—it’s about dancing in the rain. But how many times can one broken heart be mended? Will River and Dahlia be able to stay together or will they be torn apart?
Chapter 1 
A Thousand Years 
A glimmer of light catches my eye through the partially open curtains across the room as I wake. It must be dawn because the sky is turning various shades of pink, red, and orange. Before I know it, the sky blazes with color; it’s as if it’s on fire—just like my body, but I push my pain aside. It’s a glorious new day. And I’m here to share it with him. I look at the gorgeous lines of his body slumped over in the chair next to my hospital bed. He’s asleep, but not very soundly. I study him, taking in his strong jaw, sculpted nose, and toned body. But it’s his soul, his playfulness, and his amazing personality that made me fall in love with him. He’s so much more than I could ever have asked for—he’s my soul mate in every sense of the word. 
Carefully removing my hand from his, I try hard not to wake him. Then I slowly ease myself up from the bed and make my way to the bathroom. When I return, the sun has fully risen and so has he. He’s staring out the window with the curtains now completely open. I sweep him with my eyes so that I can appreciate every little thing—at just over six feet he’s glorious. Strong shoulders, a lean waist, abs that seem to flex with his every movement. Arms crossed, his head cocked just so, his T-shirt tucked into his jeans haphazardly, and his stance so straight and sure. 
The soft bluish-gray sky of the early morning is almost as breathtaking as the sight of him.
Trying to see what he’s looking at, I only notice the fluffy clouds drifting by. They appear so white against the morning sky; they make me start to smile. But I know that’s not what he’s seeing right now, when a bluejay flies by and he turns around I want to erase the pain I see in his 
sorrowful expression and sad green eyes.
I don’t want to dwell on the events of yesterday’s incident, but he seems to be preoccupied 
with it. His mood has been somber ever since it happened. He calls it an attack—I prefer incident. After all, I’m here alive and merely bruised. I’m not going to waste my time thinking about one bad day—I’d rather celebrate the good things in each new day. But he blames himself. I haven’t been able to convince him that if anyone was to blame it’s me. Then again, a random act of violence couldn’t have been prevented and, thankfully, I’m all right. I just want to leave the hospital and go home. 
Grabbing my clothes from the chair, I throw them on the bed. I’m standing in front of him on the cold linoleum floor in nothing but a hospital gown. I make a twirling motion with my finger impatiently. “Do you mind turning around?” 
Sighing, he runs his hands through his already-messy hair. “I’m not turning around. I want to help you. Seeing what he did to you can’t make me feel any worse. Believe me.” 
I swallow the lump in my throat and try to gather the right words to respond, and help put his mind at ease. “River, it was not your fault. Some perverted animal, looking to get his kicks by attacking women, that isn’t your fault.” 
He can’t hide his shudder from my eyes. “Dahlia, it wasn’t a fucking incident. You were attacked. If I had been with you it wouldn’t have happened. I shouldn’t have been sleeping. It’s really just that simple.” 
I stand there shocked by his tone, even though I know he doesn’t mean to be so harsh. “No, it’s not just that simple . . . ,” I start to argue, but he cuts me off. 
His shoulders sag. He promptly diverts his eyes to the ground and shoves his hands in his 
jeans pockets. “I’m sorry, Dahlia. I don’t mean to yell. I just can’t stand that you got hurt. It kills me to see you like this, to know what could have happened to you. It just kills me.” 
We’ve had this conversation twice already. I already know my reassurances will go nowhere. So I repeat myself and contemplate making my way to the duffel bag lying next to the chair to get my socks and shoes and then go into the bathroom to change. But I plead one more time, “River, please turn around.” 
He’s standing in front of me with only the bed between us but for some reason it feels like we’re miles apart. He doesn’t move toward me, but I can see the overwhelming emotion in his face and in his eyes. He’s hurting. I can also hear it in his voice and his sorrow not only makes me sad, it tears at my heart. 
I’ve never been shy around him. I just know that I’m covered in bruises and I want so badly to spare him the heartache of seeing me this way. 
“No, let me help you,” he whispers. His tone is barely audible. 
With a deep sigh I resign myself to his plea and pointing near the chair I ask, “Can you please hand me that?” 
Grabbing my bag, he sets it on the bed. 
As I untie the ugly green gown and slide it down my arms, he watches me. But not in an Oh, I want to see you naked kind of way, more like an Oh God, I might be sick way. 
The gown puddles on the floor and I stand there completely naked in front of him. I watch as he looks at me. He scans my body from head to toe before his eyes drift back up to meet mine and he swallows. 
In an attempt to lighten the mood, I pick up the hospital gown and playfully toss it at him. “Your turn to play dress-up.” 
His lips finally turn up in a semblance of a smile, but his eyes are still filled with sadness. “I think I’ll pass this time, if you don’t mind,” he says, holding the gown up to him. “Green isn’t my color.” 
Both of us smiling, I know he’s looking beyond my bruises. At last. And all his love for me is now reflected in his eyes—it means everything to me. 
He strides around the bed and insists on helping me put on my panties and jeans. I want to comment on how easy it would be for him to get in my pants right now, but I refrain. But when he ever so carefully starts to pull my sweater over my head, I can’t hold back. Grabbing his hand, I press it over my heart and look at him. “See, you can touch me. I won’t break. I’ll even let you get to second base,” I say, sliding his hand down to cup my breast. 
He resists at first, but eventually sighs and brushes his thumb over my nipple. A slow grin crosses his lips. “Second base, that’s it? I think I had a better chance with the pants.” 
We both laugh a little and I continue to hold his hand in place. His eyes burn into mine as he moves his hand to cup my cheek. Leaning into my ear he whispers, “You better stop it. You’re going to get me all worked up and when Nurse Smiley Face comes in here she’s going to kick me out.” 
He pulls back and I roll my eyes as he pulls my sweater down the rest of the way. I silently wince a little in pain. My shoulder is sore, my wrist is sprained, and my body is bruised. The doctor wanted to cut off my bracelet, the only jewelry I was wearing, because of the swelling, but I begged him not to. It’s the one thing of Ben’s I have left and I need it to always remind me to live my life with no regrets. 
Once I’m dressed, he gently places his arms around my waist and pulls me to him. “I’m sorry. Did I hurt you?” he whispers. 
“You could never hurt me,” I respond in a low, comforting voice. 
Leaning back, he crosses his finger over his heart. “I promise I will never let anything happen to you again.” The ache in his voice cuts through me and I have to take a deep breath to prevent tears. I just want to throw my arms around his neck but my aching body won’t let me, so I settle for circling my arms around his waist instead. He, in turn, slips his back around mine and we just hold each other. Then he kisses each of my eyelids and rests his forehead against mine. 
And with each passing second I can feel our love growing stronger, if that’s even possible. We stay like this in silence until the nurse enters the room. 
She clears her throat and he whispers, “Nurse Smiley Face caught us again, I’m in trouble now.” 
I giggle and we pull apart. She’s nice, but she didn’t like it that River stayed the night. And once last night when I asked him to lie next to me, she came in to check my vitals and made him get off the bed. 
She takes my blood pressure one last time and goes over the discharge instructions left by the doctor—basically rest, no strenuous activities, and if I experience headaches of any kind I am to see my doctor immediately. 
Once I’ve signed all the paperwork, the nurse calls for an orderly and when he arrives he wheels me to the door. River gets his car and we are finally allowed to leave the hospital. He decided earlier that we should spend the night in Tahoe and head home in the morning. On the way to the hotel, he looks over at me. “Did I tell you Xander and Caleb are here?” 
I look at him questioningly. “No you didn’t. Why are they here?” 
He laughs a little and says, “What do you mean ‘why’? They’re here to make sure you’re okay.” 
“But we’re going home tomorrow, they could have just checked on me then.” 
Shrugging his shoulders, he answers, “I know but I wanted Xander to drive us back so I can sit with you.” 
“Oh, that’s really sweet of you, but not necessary. I’m fine.” 
“Well even if you’re fine, it’s not a short ride and I want you to be able to stretch out in a backseat. I wanted to be able to be close to you. To take care of you if you need anything.” 
I look at him lovingly; he really does always say the sweetest things. “Thank you. But why did Caleb come? Do Xander and Caleb even really know each other?” I have to ask because it wasn’t so long ago that I thought River didn’t care for Caleb and now his brother is riding up to 
Lake Tahoe with him.
“Yeah, of course they know each other. They’ve met a few times, actually. And since I decided yesterday to hire Caleb to install additional security in our house, I thought it would be a good idea to discuss the upgrade with him before we get home. That way he can start on it as soon as possible.” 
“We don’t need additional security at home because of what happened. River, I think that’s a bit much.” 
“Dahlia, I never had the security system upgraded when I moved in, so I’m just taking a precautionary measure, that’s all. You’ll be coming back to LA alone during the tour so I want to make sure you’re safe.” 
Shaking my head I throw in, “I didn’t even think you liked Caleb.”
“I never said I didn’t like him.”
“No, you didn’t say it, but I felt it every time you talked to him.”
“Hmm . . . well, regardless of how I feel about him I know he’s good at what he does and 
when I called him he said he had time. Oh, and one more thing, Caleb or someone who works for him will be escorting us places.” 
I narrow my eyes at him. “You mean like bodyguards?”
“Well I wouldn’t call them bodyguards, just additional security.”
“That sounds really awkward.”
“Dahlia, I promise you won’t even know they’re around.”
“I doubt that.” I rest my head against the window and close my eyes. I find the whole amp- up-the- security thing a little absurd, but since it makes him feel better, I won’t protest. 
When we get to the hotel, we learn that Caleb had our room changed and he and Xander now occupy the adjoining room next door. I want to tease River—“Yeah, we won’t even know they’re around,” but I don’t.
The doctor gave me some pain pills at the hospital and they’ve made me so tired that I spend 
the rest of the day in bed, snuggled in River’s arms. I must have fallen into a deep sleep because when I wake, I look at the clock and it’s well after midnight. The first thing I do is reach for him only to find that he isn’t next to me. Looking around the room, I’m a little disoriented at first. But I see River huddled in the corner with Caleb and Xander, discussing something in hushed whispers that I can’t hear. When he sees me try to sit up and move to get off the bed, he hastily rushes over. 
“What do you need, baby?” he asks in almost a whisper. His face looks worn, tired, and worried. 
“I need to go to the bathroom and get some water.” I try to smile at him, but my mouth tastes like it has a wad of cotton balls in it and my body feels completely detached from my mind. I’m not sure I can actually walk to the bathroom without falling. I also feel light-headed. 
“Let me help you,” he says as he moves my legs to the floor and carefully helps me stand up. But when I start to wobble a little, I grab his shoulder for support. I think the pain medication has not only made me light-headed, but also unstable. 
He’s already wrapping my arm around him as he picks me up. “Dahlia, let me help you.” 
Xander and Caleb look over at me, appearing worried. They stand and both say good night, disappearing through the adjoining door. 
Once we reach the bathroom, River gently sets me down and removes my pants. I grip the counter and begin to regain my stability. 
“Can you grab me a T-shirt?” I ask him quietly.
“Sure, beautiful girl, whatever you need,” he replies with a smile.
When he leaves the bathroom I push the door slightly closed and frown as I take the first real 
glimpse of myself in the mirror since I got home. I look much worse than I did earlier this morning. The bruises have turned purple, my wrist is still swollen, the scrapes on my cheek from where my attacker held my face to the ground are crusted over, and my shoulder aches from where he shoved his knee to hold me down. 
I carefully pull off my sweater and hastily wrap a towel around me. I consider a shower, but decide against it. It seems like it would require too much energy right now. I do manage to brush my teeth. Once I finish, I look back into the mirror and see that he’s standing behind in the doorway with such sadness in his eyes. He walks over to me as I wipe my mouth with a towel. 
“Let’s put this on you,” he says while pulling his long-sleeved 30 Seconds to Mars T-shirt over my head. “It will be easier to get on and off than one of yours and it will keep you warm.” 
I let him dress me like I’m a small child. Happy memories of my father getting me ready for school pop into my head. My dad would help me get dressed and drop me off at school when my mother had to leave early for work. I loved those days. I loved every day my parents were alive. 
“You alright, Dahlia?” he asks with concern.
“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine.”
Then smiling, I tell him, “You dressing me now just reminded me of happy times when my dad would let me pick out whatever I wanted to wear to school whether it matched or not. Since my mom wasn’t home to make me change I usually wore his concert T-shirts.” 
He smirks, “You mean your mom, the fashion designer, didn’t like it when you wore your dad’s grungy T-shirts to school?” 
“How did you guess?” 
“Intuition,” he tells me. “Personally, I think you make everything you wear look incredible, but I could see where your mom might have a different opinion.” 
I lean into him just to feel his warmth and nuzzle his neck. “I wish you could have met my parents.” 
“I may never be able to meet them, but I know them through you.” 
Pulling away, I smile at him and press my palms against his chest. “That means everything to me,” is all I can say because it does. 
He nods and we stay silent for a few moments. 
“I think you should lie back down.” Carrying me back to the bed, he sets me down on the opposite side I woke up on. But I don’t care which side I sleep on as long as he’s next to me. I take his hand and squeeze it. “Thank you.” 
“You don’t have to thank me,” he says, kissing the top of my head. “I ordered you something to eat while you were in the bathroom.” 
“I’m not really hungry. I’m just really thirsty.” 
Pulling the covers up over my legs, he sits beside me. “You have to eat something when you take these pills.” He opens the medicine bottle on the night table and pours two oblong, white, horse-sized pills into his palm then sets them down next to the open bottle. 
“There’s no way I can swallow those.” 
He laughs quickly and then stands up and walks toward the TV. “I ordered you grilled cheese and French fries to eat and a milkshake to swallow the pills with.” He opens the adjoining room door and says, “Hey Xander, just bring the food over here when it comes.” 
I’m staring at his backside when he turns his head over his shoulder and catches me. He throws me a wink and I smile back. We don’t exchange words but we both start laughing and I have to say, that is my all-time favorite sound. God, I love it when he laughs, it’s soft but husky and oh so sexy. 
I hold my bruised ribs in pain, and he apologizes for making me laugh.
“River, it’s okay. I want to laugh. And, really, I just couldn’t resist the view.”
He stifles more laughter and I ask, “Why did you order food and have it delivered to 
Xander’s room?” I pause a moment before adding, “And why are we sharing a room with Xander and Caleb anyway?” 
His laughter stops and he becomes more serious. “We aren’t sharing a room with them. The door closes between us, silly girl.” As if to prove his point, he opens and closes the door in a swinging motion. Leaving it open, he walks back over to the bed and sits next to me. He cups my unbruised cheek before leaning in to kiss my forehead. “And I ordered food to be delivered to their room in case you fell back asleep. I didn’t want the knocking to disturb you.” 
“Oh, that makes sense. Well now that you mentioned my favorite—grilled cheese dipped in a chocolate milkshake—I might be feeling a little hungry.” 
“Have I told you how gross I think that is, by the way?” he asks, raising his eyebrows. 
“Only a thousand times, and yet every time I order it you manage to steal a bite. And don’t think I haven’t noticed you dip it in your shake first.” 
Chuckling, he pinches his thumb and index finger together and says, “Well, I might like it just a tiny little bit.” 
I smile at him and lay my head down on the pillow just as Xander brings in the tray of food. River points to the empty spot next to me on the bed. “Thanks, man, just put it down right there.” 
“Dahlia, do you want anything else?” Xander asks.
“Just a gallon of water,” I say jokingly. “My mouth feels like a desert in the middle of July.” He grins at me and starts to pour the liter of bottled water into a glass as River takes my giant pills, along with a knife from the tray, and comes over to the table.
“I’ll take the whole bottle, please. No need for a glass.”
Xander hands me the water as River cuts the pills in half.
“Stop looking like you’re going to someone’s funeral, Xander. I’m fine. You and Caleb really didn’t have to drop everything to come up here when we’re just going home tomorrow anyway.” 
“Will it make you feel better if I tell you I came for my brother?” 
I take a huge sip of water and eye him before giving him a full smile. “Since I know you’d never admit you came for me, then yes it will.” 
He kisses me on the forehead. “Good night, Muse. If you weren’t such a pain in my ass I might find you funny. I might even like you.” I don’t mind him calling me Muse since he repeatedly tells me the Wilde Ones’ claim to fame is the song “Once in a Lifetime,” which River wrote after meeting me that first time.
“I’ll keep hoping and wishing for the day you say you love me.”
He looks at me with all trace of humor gone. “I’m really glad you’re okay, Dahlia. Good night. See you in a few hours.”
Glancing over at River, he gives him a nod before closing the door. Our plan is to leave in the middle of the night to get home early enough for Xander to get to work. River comes to sit next to me and once I swallow the disgusting horse pills we share the tray of food and then fall asleep in each other’s arms. 
Moonlight cascades through the windows and the stars shine bright above us as Xander drives us home. Lying on River’s lap, I am listening intently to him. He’s strumming his fingers through my hair and singing along to “Losing My Religion,” but his voice sounds sad, reminiscent of something almost. When the song finishes I reach my hand up to caress his cheek. “I love that song. I saw R.E.M. perform it at the Greek the year it came out.” 
He takes my hand and kisses my knuckles. “I have a love/hate relationship with it myself.” 
Xander snickers from the front seat. “Yeah, more like it had a love/hate relationship with you.” 
Combing my fingers through his hair, I tug on a strand and he grins. “Why?” I ask. 
He slouches a little more so I can rest my head on the tautness of his abs. His fingers tap my arm and he laughs. “When it hit the top five my dad decided I should learn to play the mandolin. He studied hit songs all the time trying to dissect them for what drove them to the top. He took note of anything different used in its production and ‘Losing My Religion’ was only the second hit song ever to feature a mandolin prominently.” 
Xander starts laughing so loud it surprises me. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him laugh like that. River shakes his head. “Shut up, Xander.” 
River’s eyes seem to dance in the moonlight at the memory and it thrills me to see him laugh when he mentions his father. He doesn’t mention him often but on the rare occasion he does it’s never with any sign of emotion. I’m glad he has happy memories of his dad, like I do. I have a sudden urge to kiss him and pull his head down closer to mine so I can press my lips against his. “Tell me,” I whisper, tracing the outline of one of his perfectly defined pectorals. 
“Don’t laugh but you know the saying ‘It’s all in the wrist’?”
I nod.
“It’s absolutely true. Subtle, nimble wrist movements are the key to playing the correct note on the mandolin and no matter how many times I tried, I just couldn’t get it down.”
“Tell her the rest,” Xander interjects.
River rolls his eyes. “Okay, so my dad knew I was getting frustrated and tried teaching me by using the only other hit song featuring a mandolin.”
Xander laughs loudly again. “Man, I can still picture it,” he manages between snorts.
I move to sit up but River reaches out to stop me and continues, ignoring Xander. “My dad was teaching me how to play ‘Maggie May,’ so I watched some of Rod Stewart’s music videos and Xander walked in when I was practicing Rod’s walk from the ‘Hot Legs’ video. I had decided to give up my attempts at the mandolin and decided I’d rather move like Rod.” 
All three of us burst out in a chorus of laughter and the vision in my head is priceless. God, sometimes it feels like my heart will burst with love for River. Everything about him drives me wild but especially his sense of humor. 
His gaze captures mine and although we’re having a conversation with his brother, we’ve somehow moved from playful touches to sensual caresses. His hand rests on my stomach and his fingers are under the hem of my shirt resting on my bare skin. I’m drawing lines back and forth across each muscle of his washboard abs. The lower I get, the heavier he breathes. Leaning down, his soft lips meet mine and I wrap my arms around his neck and press harder. We get lost in each other for a moment and a small moan escapes my throat. 
Xander clears his throat. “The windows are steaming up. Could you stop acting like a couple of teenagers?” Then he turns the radio up. 
It’s shortly before dawn when Xander drops us off at home. With coffees in hand we sit outside and watch the sunrise. I’m content to sit near him quietly and appreciate the company, but in the calm of the bright crisp morning River asks me, “Why are we waiting to get married?” 
He kisses my hair and continues, “It seems like all I was really doing was waiting for you my whole life anyway, and I don’t want to wait anymore.” 
I shift so I’m lying on my side and can look up at him. “I’m not really sure. But, when you put it that way, I don’t want to wait either.” 
“How would you feel if we charter a plane to Las Vegas and get married today? I can have it arranged in a matter of hours. We can fly up there, get married, and be back here by sunset.” 
“You don’t mind if your family’s not there?” 
He hesitates only a moment before pulling me closer. His arms tighten around me as the green depths of his eyes stare into mine. “I won’t be satisfied until I wake up next to my wife every morning. Dahlia, all I want is you and me forever. We can celebrate later once you’re feeling better. We can even have another ceremony here, but what happened in the hospital I never want to happen again. So will you marry me today?” 
He’s romantic, fearless, and full of life and I love every inch of him. I loop my arms around his neck and my lips find his. Smiling at him as the sun rises and with the Hollywood sign as our backdrop, I say, “River Wilde, I would love to marry you today.” 
He groans against my mouth and the sound echoes through my skin, making me smile even more. He kisses me. Then he kisses me again. Then some more. Once we’re both breathless he moves me enough to stand up. His smile, the real one, breaks across his face. “Stay here. I’ll be right back.” 
I have no intention of going anywhere, so he’s safe. When he comes back he has Stella firmly in his clutch. Joy radiates from him and there’s a familiar gleam in his eyes as he sits down at the end of the lounge chair with the guitar. The slight breeze in the air blows his hair. I move toward him and rest my chin on his shoulder, my front to his back. His hot skin awakens all my senses. 
I peer down and watch as his hand dances over the strings and he starts singing “You and Me.” As he plays I can feel every motion of his body as if I’m the one playing. Curling my hand around his hip I feel him shudder as heat travels through my arm. My eyes shift to his face and it’s a picture of what is real, what is right in my life, and what we have . . . true love everlasting. 
He sings the final verse, “The clock never seemed so alive,” into my ear and I shiver as his warm breath grazes the skin of my neck. I could watch him play and listen to him sing a thousand times over and never grow tired of it. Not ever. He cocks his head to mine and picks the last notes on his strings as the sound of his music fills the air and I can’t help but think how lucky I am to get to spend the rest of my life with him. 
A few hours later I’m sitting at the breakfast bar having just finished up a security system lesson with Caleb, when the doorbell rings. I know who it is before River has answered it. Aerie screams, “There you are! How are you?” 
It’s only been sixty minutes since I called to tell her we were home and she’s already here. She runs over and I stand up slowly. My body aches much more today than it has since the incident, probably from sitting in the car on the ride home. “I’m okay—really! I look much worse than I actually feel.” 
“I’m so sorry I didn’t come to see you in the hospital. Work has been crazy,” she says before throwing her arms around me in a tight embrace. I wince a little and she pulls away. “Oh my God, I’m so sorry I didn’t mean to hurt you!” Her face is full of concern—this woman who has helped me in more ways than I could ever count. Of course she’s here now. And she’s a vision of perfection in her red shift dress and black high heels, with a matching headband. 
“I’m fine,” I lie so she doesn’t feel bad. I’ve talked to her on the phone so many times since I was hospitalized I think she knows more about the incident than River does. 
“What’s going on at work?” 
Rolling her eyes she says, “The owner’s son decided he wants to be more involv . . . ,” but before she can finish she’s giving me a speculative glance. “Why are you dressed like that?” 
“Dressed like what?” I coyly ask, trying to keep my smile from exploding. 
“You’re wearing a dress! In fact, you’re dressed like you’re going somewhere when you should be in sweats and lying in bed. You even have heels on. You never wear heels unless I make you.” 
I glance over my shoulder to see River standing in the kitchen with Caleb. He nods his head. I’m so excited I just blurt it out, “We’re leaving this afternoon for Las Vegas to get married!” 
She claps and jumps up and down with excitement then suddenly stops. “Wait a minute! You are not eloping, Dahlia London. You can’t. I want to see you get married.” She hugs me tightly again before pulling away. “Sorry, sorry,” she says, wiping the tears from her cheeks and trying to gain her composure. 
I start to feel a little guilty, but rapidly try to push those feelings aside. “We’ll have a party after the band’s tour and all of us can celebrate then, okay?” 
River comes around the counter and hugs Aerie before whispering something in her ear. Pulling me into his side he says, “We’ll celebrate later, but we want to get married now.” 
“Is it safe for you to travel?” Aerie says with concern.
Nodding my head I try to convince her not to worry. “Really, Aerie, I feel fine. I promise.” River kisses my hair softly. “Coffee?” he asks Aerie.
“No, you know I don’t drink that stuff. It’s pure octane and tastes like it, too.”
Laughing, he walks back into the kitchen, mumbling, “I don’t know how anyone survives without caffeine.”
River’s phone rings and I hear him say, “Xander, I told you I’m not meeting her today or tomorrow. I don’t give a shit what she wants.” I give River a concerned glance and he nods at me, flashing me what I know to be his make-believe smile. Once he ends the call, he turns to me. “Dahlia, I have a few things to take care of. Will you be okay?” 
Aerie shoos him away. “She’ll be fine,” she says and pulls me over to the sofa.
River comes over and kisses me again. “You sure?”
“I’m fine. Go already,” I tell him, kissing him back.
“Okay. Caleb is in the music room if you need anything. He set up his computer in there for 
now. I won’t be long.”
Aerie and I talk for a while. Once she feels she has wrung every ounce of information from 
me, she stands and says, “I’ll be back in an hour. Don’t leave until I get back. I mean it!” “Where are you going?” I glance at the clock.
“It’s a surprise. Wait for me. Please?”
“Okay, you have an hour, that’s it.” 
She waves at me as she rushes out the door. 
With minutes to spare she returns holding a gray suit bag in one hand and a shopping bag in the other. She leads me to my bedroom. 
“Every princess has to have a wedding dress to get married in,” she says as she unzips the bag and pulls out the most beautiful white silk dress. Simple, yet elegant. It’s a sleeveless cocktail-length dress with a deep V-neck and A-line skirt adorned with tiny pearls. There’s also gorgeous, yet subtly patterned silk embroidery on the bodice, making it special enough for the occasion but not overwhelmingly fancy. It’s perfect. 
She sits me on the bed and pulls out a simple pair of silver high heels and slips them on my feet. “Just like Cinderella, Dahlia, you got your Prince Charming,” she says as a tear slides down her check. She pulls one more item out of the bag for me. I look at the beautiful white band of fabric with small blue jewels all around it as I take it out of the box. “The dress is your something new, here is your something blue.” It’s a garter and as she takes it from my hand, she slips it on my leg and up to my thigh; I laugh at her need to make sure I follow the typical bridal wedding traditions. 
Once she has powdered and primped me, covering my bruises as best she can with makeup, she stands up and removes the pearl earrings from her ear. “And these are your something borrowed.” They are her great-grandmother’s pearl earrings, the ones I’ve always loved. I remove my earrings and insert hers, then stand to look in the mirror. Now I really look like a bride. I throw my arms around her despite the pain shooting through me. “I love you, Aerie Daniels, forever and always. Thank you so much!” 
“You don’t have to thank me. I can’t have my best friend getting married in just anything. And to be honest I was afraid you might end up in your Converse sneakers.” I puff out a laugh and grab my camera. I hold it out in front of us and snap a picture. She’s been my best friend for so long, I want to remember this time with her forever. 
Aerie and I say our goodbyes—she has to get back to work—and I find myself alone, thinking about how drastically my life has changed over the past year. When I catch sight of my Grammy’s pearls hanging on the mirror, I walk over to the dresser and pull down my something old. As I slip them around my neck, I have an odd déjà vu feeling. Today I’m going to marry the man who turned my life around; the man who taught me to love again. I thought Ben was my once-in-a-lifetime, but who knew a once-in-a-lifetime love could happen twice? 
I feel so incredibly happy but a sudden sadness washes through me for those I’ve lost and I shift my eyes to the ceiling to say a silent prayer for each of them. I tell my mother and father I wish they could be here with me today. I thank my uncle for looking after me and keeping me on the right path. I think of my aunt and her mother and how they taught me that life is full of magic. Then I whisper to Ben, the man I intended to marry who was taken too soon, that I will always love him and he will forever hold a special place in my heart, as my first true love. I finish looking in the mirror and take a deep breath. I’m ready. 
The battery in my cell phone is almost dead and I hope I have time to charge it. I walk into the empty living room and head over to the kitchen to get my charger. Once I’ve plugged it in, I turn around and see his gorgeous silhouette framing the doorway. He walks toward me, looking irresistible. 
All I can do is stare at him because today I get to marry this man.
River’s mouth slowly curves into a smile. “You look amazing.”
I return his smile and walk toward him. We meet in the middle and he gathers me close, whispering in my ear, “Come on, beautiful, you don’t need that today.”
We break apart, both of us ready to take the next step. His phone rings and he pulls it from his pocket. I glance at the screen and see it’s his brother. He ignores it. I’m looking up at him while I ask, “Hey, what’s going on with Xander? What was that with him on the phone earlier?” 
He looks back at me and shakes his head. “You know Xander, he always wants what he wants now.” 
“And he wants what right now?”
“He wants me to meet with Ellie.”
“Who’s Ellie?”
“She’s his contact for the label. Nothing to worry about now, though.”
He places soft kisses on my forehead. He pulls back and gazes into my eyes with a look of adoration that I love. “Are you ready to become my wife?”
My legs start to quiver as I pull back to look at his handsome face. “Only if you promise to love me forever.” He cups my cheeks and says, “Beautiful, I made that promise to myself the first time I kissed you. I promised to love you always. How could I not?”
My tears spill over at his heartfelt words. I love him so much. He’s hugging me, not too tightly, but enough that I feel his love and I know he will always be mine. He kisses me again and says, “The instant you become Mrs. River Wilde I’m going to show you just how much.” 
He grabs my hand and we head toward the door. “Amazing Grace” starts playing from my phone in the kitchen just as we’re about to leave and I turn back. “River, let me quickly grab that. I don’t want Grace to worry about me any more than she already has.” 
I drop his hand and walk to the kitchen counter to answer my phone. “Hello?”

                                               Review Connected                Review Torn

** CONNECTED ** (available now)
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** TORN ** (available now – follow up to Connected)
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Paperback Giveaway: Connected by Kim Karr

Title: Connected
Author: Kim Karr

In celebration of the paperback release of CONNECTED on February 4th, 
Penguin NAL and Kim Karr  are giving away three (3) paperback copies. 

What if a ‘Once in a Lifetime’ could happen twice?
Suffering from a past full of tragedy, Dahlia London’s soul has been left completely shattered. Happily ever after is a far cry from reality in her world. But, when she is reconnected with her past, the bonds that form are irrefutable.
When River Wilde, lead singer of The Wilde Ones, comes back into Dahlia’s life, the intensity that fires their relationship combined with underlying feelings that have never died lead her to believe she has met her soul mate.
Struggling with confusion as old connections fade and new ones begin, Dahlia’s grief begins to lift — but guilt remains. River wants to be the one to mend all that is torn within her.
With the past never really gone, can the future survive?

I live in Florida with my husband and four kids. I’ve always had a love for reading books and writing. In college I majored in English and wanted to teach at the college level, but that was not to be. I went on to get my MBA and became a project manager until quitting to raise my family. I currently work part-time with my husband and recently decided to embrace one of my biggest passions – writing.
I wear a lot of hats! Writer, book-lover, wife, soccer mom, taxi driver, and just the all around go-to person of the family. However, I always find time to read. One of my favorite family outing when my kids were little was to take them to the bookstore or the library. Today my oldest child is seventeen and no longer comes with me on these now rare and infrequent outings, but honestly I don’t need to go on them anymore because I have the greatest device ever invented, a kindle.
I believe in soulmates, kindred spirits, and Happily-Ever-Afters. I have many favorite things ranging from books – to movies – to words. I love to drink champagne and listen to music. I hope to always stay young at heart.
Connected is my debut novel and will be available at Amazon, B&N, iBooks, & Smashwords on March 22nd, 2013.

** CONNECTED ** (available now)
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** TORN ** (available now – follow up to Connected)
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** DAZED ** (releases 4/1/2014 – novella)
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** MENDED ** (releases 6/3/2014 – novel)
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BLOG TOUR: TORN BY KIM KARR (review and giveaways)

Title: TORN (Connections #2)

Release date: October 1, 2013

Rock star River Wilde brought Dahlia London back from the brink of hopelessness with his unwavering love and devotion. But their entwined history is about to test the strength of that love…

Dahlia was certain she had found true love and met her ‘Once in a Lifetime’ when she reconnected with River. But Dahlia’s world comes crashing down when someone from her past resurfaces, and all of River’s carefully hidden secrets are exposed.

River wants to show Dahlia that life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass—it’s about dancing in the rain! But how many times can one broken heart be mended? Will River and Dahlia be able to face the turmoil together or will they be torn apart?
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And now I’ve got the answers that I’ve been waiting for but there’s more to it. More secrets, more lies, more pains and more revelations. 

“Nothing has changed. She belongs with me.” 

He’s back. Ben came back and this just maybe the biggest mistake he’s ever made! 
But Ben was letting the past rule his present. He’d lost the chance to be with the love of his life when he made that decision a long time ago, and now that he’s returned, he’s no longer willing to risk losing another chance to be with Dahl. 

“You filled a void, when I wasn’t here, but you’re no substitute for the real thing.” 

“ Then I’ve been your substitute for way longer than you’ve been dead.” 

“She’s mine. You don’t deserve her, you never did.” 

Things became rough for all them. There were doubts, betrayals. There were questions. 

“I want to believe your love is only for me, That your lips are mine. That your kisses are meant for me. That your body belongs to me. But when you leave me to see him, it’s hard to know for sure. 

“You left me a fucking note that you were going to see the man you spent your whole life with. The man you left me for the first tiem we met. The man whose ghost I have had to compete with every day of our lives together.” 

But thank God Dahlia and River’s love for each other is so strong that instead of being destroyed, they took their pain, sorted it out together, and emerged on the other side better and stronger than either of them could ever have imagined. 
But will love ever be enough to hold them together? 

“Relationships are made up of so many different emotions, but the one thing that keeps a relationship strong is love. Can doubt weaken such a strong bond? Not if two people don’t let it…” 

Torn is the second book in this increasingly fascinating series. It picks up exactly where the first book left off. I liked the storyline, the depth of feelings, and the heat and need Dahl and River has for each other. There were a lot of things going on in this story and I kept wondering how the author could possibly wrap up all these threads, but she did well and what a remarkable accomplishment! Although there were quite a few scenes I believe that can be omitted, Torn still packs a very hard punch, in the best possible way and delivers a scorching romance. The continuation of the overall story satisfied my need to know what happens to all the characters and the fact they get to play a fairly substantial role in this second book delighted me. 
When I finished the last page, I sat in silence for a rather long time, not analyzing what I read, but simply feeling the wonderful emotions that Kim Karr has evoked through this story and I can’t wait to read more of her works. 
Thanks Kim! I completely enjoyed your expert way of sorting out the series in this fantastic story.

Close your eyes and you can imagine what it was like. Hot, sticky, crowded. Smoke, flashing screens, and lighters flickering. Fans screaming, laughing, clapping, and crying. Bodies pushing, shoving, trying to catch a glimpse. Everyone wanting to see the stage—the lights, the equipment, the musician himself.
He was running back and forth singing, headbanging, and playing his guitar. The lyrics were jumbled. His movements out of sync. The sound of the bass thumped through the crowd so loud my body vibrated with every wrong note played. I just wanted it to end.
Nick Wilde had opened for the Counting Crows at the Hollywood Bowl. It was his second chance— and he blew it. The crowd was exhilarated at the start of his first song and he owned the stage but it didn’t last long. By the third song he was improvising, pulling notes, and forgetting words. He was lost in his own trance, soaked in alcohol, and no one could help him…not Xander, not my mother, and definitely not me. “Mr. Jones” started playing before he even finished his fourth song…and he never played onstage again.
Music was his soul. Music was in all of our souls. When we were younger he taught us everything he could…how to play, to sing, the right way to command a stage. We knew every song by every artist. We traveled to concert after concert. Music was his life and it became ours.
But he wasn’t happy just playing. He had a dream—he wanted to be famous. And somewhere along the way his dream became an obsession. I’ll give it to him, he got further than most do. By the age of nineteen he had been signed by a label and cut his first album. But after a disappointing run they released him. He spent the next fifteen years working the circuit—clubs, churches, weddings, birthday parties, as he waited for another big break. And then, just like that, he blew his golden opportunity.
Everything in our life changed after that. The drinking got worse, Grandpa came around more to check on us, and Mom went back to work. Every day left another kink in his chain as he lived in his own world. I was sixteen when his plan A became my plan B and, just like him, at a young age, I cut my first album. But unlike him I had Xander. He wasn’t going to let me fail. The band’s album had a slow start but after a year of touring, it started to gain popularity.
I remember the first time the Wilde Ones graced a real stage. We were restless. We had been sitting around for hours waiting. When we were finally up we strutted confidently across the stage like we had in rehearsal, but, really, we were nervous as hell. The lights were much brighter and the audience so much bigger than we were used to. When the guys started to play, soft, barely audible words flew out of my mouth so fast I forgot to breathe. The band was drowning me out and I knew it. Looking around, I adjusted the microphone height and took in the crowd. They were cheering me on with such enthusiasm that my voice finally soared over them. It was the same voice I’d grown up with, the one my dad had fostered. It was raw and present and soulful, and, in that moment, my music came alive. The crowd went crazy and just like that my life changed again.
Xander struck while the iron was hot. He arranged to go on tour. That was the beginning of the end for me. We started out small. Smaller venues, shitty hotels, crappy food, and a lot of drinking. We opened for band after band and the relationships I made…they kept me going, that and being up on that stage doing what I loved…it kept me going, wanting to make my dad proud…yeah, that, too.
But touring was a constant infringement on my personal space. I hated the cramped quarters, lack of privacy, constant strict schedule, never being in the same city for more than two nights, people following you everywhere, people always wanting something from you. Even the girls throwing themselves at you got old. It was the longest year of my life, but I did it for him because somewhere along the way his dream morphed into mine. What I came to realize was that his dream wasn’t mine—my dad thought being on tour meant you had made it. His dream was about being famous. Mine is about the music.
As the venues got bigger so did the crowds, the fanfare, and I could see how you could get lost in it, caught up in it—but I was determined not to end up like my father. He was addicted to the fame. I’m addicted to the creative process. I hope that difference between us is enough. The tour ended and we wrote, we played around LA, and as time passed life was good. But I had managed to put off cutting another album long enough. This time I was doing it for the band and for my brother and for me—because I love the music. Cutting the album—that’s the fun part. It’s the promoting I dreaded, at least until the day I saw her through the glass. The girl who inspired our song “Once in a Lifetime,” the girl Xander always referred to as my muse, the girl who stole my heart one night and then crushed it at the very same time.
She was as beautiful as I remembered and with one glance she took my breath away. She walked my way, pulling a suitcase behind her, and my heart skipped a beat. I knew immediately she was the one sent to interview me and suddenly any negativity I had about doing press was gone. I couldn’t help but watch her. I wanted her unlike anyone I had ever wanted before. I had to stifle a laugh when her briefcase fell off the top of her suitcase and she glanced around to see who saw. I wanted to yell, “Only me and don’t worry because everything about you is sexy as fuck.”
I rushed to grab the door for her, but she pushed it forward and fell into me—not that I minded in the least. I’d catch her over and over. There wasn’t a thing about her that I didn’t remember from the first time we met and even the awkwardness of the moment brought me to full attention. When her body pressed against mine, I knew in that instant…this time I wasn’t letting her get away so easily. I’d go on a thousand tours to have her in my life—there was just something about her, a light in her eyes that made everything wrong feel right. And just like my dad, I got a second chance—it was her. But unlike him, I wasn’t going to blow it.
When she extended her hand and said, “Hello, I’m Dahlia London from Sound Music. I’m so sorry I’m late,” I knew she had to be mine.