Monday, June 25, 2018

Tour + Review and Giveaway: Chosen by Paulina Ulrich


Chosen
Paulina Ulrich
(Fighting Fate #1)
Publication date: October 31st 2013
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Nothing can stand in the way of outspoken, rule-breaker-extraordinaire; Kaddy Richston…except destiny. She set her sights on being in a rock band and leaving her small Wyoming town along with the painful memories of her past.
But destiny had other plans for her.
The observant Cole Huntington enters her life and becomes the bump in the road Kaddy is trying to pave for her future. Striking blue eyes, features to make any girl swoon, he’s everything but the new-to-town bad boy. Calm, cool, and always collected, he plans on unraveling every one of Kaddy’s dark secrets.
Kaddy is determined to undermine whatever intentions he has until she learns of a destiny she never asked for. The only person she can turn to for answers is the last person she’d want help from: Cole Huntington, who seemed to dislike her rule-breaking as much as she dislikes his rule-following.

Author Bio:
After receiving her BA in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing, she now writes full time with, of course, her cats to keep her company. She is the author of the Flightless Bird series, the award nominated Fighting Fate series and many more stories to come. She also writes nonfiction and has been published in various literary magazines. When she’s not writing, reading, or doing author-y stuff, she’s out buying way too many cute shoes… 


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Monday, June 18, 2018

Blitz + Excerpt and Giveaway: Not Her Gargoyle by Annie Nicholas


Not Her Gargoyle
Annie Nicholas
Publication date: June 18th 2018
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Ruby is done with jerks, dead-end jobs, and eviction notices. Everyone else she knows is finding ways out of this crappy neighborhood, so why can’t she? Since opportunities refuse to fall from the sky, Ruby makes her own. To hell with the little voice in her heart whispering about love. She never met a man she wanted to keep…then she met a gargoyle. Men were boring after all.
Nick was a con, a thief, and a rogue. He couldn’t keep a dime in his pocket even if it was glued. Then he met a ruby. Not one from the earth but one of flesh and blood. And ass. Let’s not forget the ass. Stealing her heart was now all he wanted.
He has a plan that could make both their dreams come true. It only involves an itsy-bitsy risk. All they must do is rob a witch.
Oh, and avoid the dragons.


Grab your copy for only 99¢ during release week only!

EXCERPT:
A distant dragon roar made Nick miss a wing beat. He swirled out of control for a second and caught his balance. One of them was close and he bet it was Eoin. Masquerading as a human would help Nick avoid recapture. He increased his speed, heading back to the apartment.
Landing on Ruby’s fire escape, he found the window cracked open for him. He smiled at the small gesture of kindness. She was one of the sweetest women. He recalled how fiercely she’d protected her sister from the vampire and himself when they had invaded the apartment. That felt like forever ago. She had been ready to fight them both. Brave and beautiful and kind.
Once more he wondered why she didn’t have a mate.
Nick climbed inside and found her on the couch, feet propped on the coffee table as she watched the evening news. Three empty bottles of beer sat next to the couch.
“Honey, I’m home,” he sang out. He’d always wanted to say that.
She gave him a huge grin and waved him over. “Come sit with me.”
The couch seemed too small for the two of them so he sat on the floor in front of her instead, leaning his back against it.
“Look.” She pointed to the television. “More gargoyles.”
His brothers were on the evening news, flying over the city’s port. “Yeah, I know them.” The dragon would hear about this if he wasn’t already watching. Nick hoped his brothers would lie quiet for a few days so Eoin wouldn’t blast them from the skies.
Ruby draped herself over his shoulders and handed him a beer, rubbing her face on his skin. “You’re very warm.” She snuggled closer between his wings, her arms lazily circling his neck from behind. “Can you shoot flames like the dragons?”
He snorted and took a sip of beer. “No. Are you drunk?” He eyed the bottles. There were only three. Then again, she was much smaller than a gargoyle. Maybe three was all it took.
“Nah, but I’m feeling good.” She sighed and seemed to melt against him. “I had an awful day.”
He reached behind and scratched her scalp with the tips of his claws like he would any family member in distress. He knew from experience that it felt good. He’d had a bad day too. Touching her made him feel better.
She moaned in his ear and it sent shivers down his spine. She bent over his shoulder more, giving him better access to her head. “That feels great.”
He undid the pins holding her hair and allowed it to cascade over his chest before continuing to massage her scalp. “What happened?” She felt so soft and tiny. Delicate like an angel. A brief whiff of her sweet smell and he struggled with the urge to bury his nose into her hair.
“What do you mean?” Her voice was muffled against his skin. Sleepy.
“Why was today so awful?”
“My boss sold the diner. I might be unemployed soon and my landlord is pressuring for rent.”
Nick finished his beer, absentmindedly scratching Ruby’s head. Stalking her boss until he changed his mind on selling the diner would probably end up with the police being called. Killing him was not Nick’s style. “Who’s the new owner?” He moved his hands to her shoulders and gently massaged the knots. Maybe they could be convinced to keep Ruby as an employee.
“The right side is worse than the left. Oh God, right there. Don’t stop.”
Those breathless pleas made him shudder. His wings reflexively expanded. She was setting off instinctual triggers. He breathed through the strong urge to carry her away somewhere dark and secluded. Teach her a thing or two about gargoyle anatomy. The desire to show her exactly how good he was at making women scream grew. The good kind of scream. Not the bad kind. Well, he could make them do that, too.
“I don’t know about the diner. I imagine I’ll meet them soon. My boss says that my job is secure—”
“That’s good news.” He ran long strands of red hair under his nose. Closing his eyes, he inhaled deeply. So, he didn’t have to beat anyone.
“It is, but it’s also a lie. I’ve been through this before. The shifters are trying to clean up this area. They are building shifter oriented neighborhoods close to here and investors are gobbling up every available building.”
“They are planning to make this neighborhood nicer?” That meant safer. Shifters were territorial and the majority responsible citizens. Any criminals in the area would be smart to move. He scratched his chin. Most shifters didn’t care for his kind.
“Nicer means more expensive. It means my landlord can increase the rent, which means I’m going to have to move just like everyone else.”
This wasn’t the Ruby he remembered. She seemed deflated draped over his body in defeat. “But you could find a better job at one of these new businesses.”
“That’s if I can find a job. The last place I worked was a biker bar. The new owners renovated the place, it became an after-work lounge for hipsters. Then I was fired because I didn’t fit their expectations as a bartender.”


Author Bio:
Annie Nicholas writes paranormal romance with a twist. She has courted vampires, hunted with shifters, and slain a dragon's ego all with the might of her pen. Riding the wind of her imagination, she travels beyond the restraints of reality and shares them with anyone wanting to read her stories. Mother, daughter, and wife are some of the other hats she wears while hiking through the hills and dales of her adopted state of Vermont.
Annie writes for Samhain Publishing, Carina Press, and Lyrical Press. 


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Friday, June 15, 2018

Blitz + Excerpt and Giveaway: When Time Stands Still by Sara Furlong Burr


When Time Stands Still
Sara Furlong Burr
Publication date: June 15th 2018
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
It’s been nearly a decade since Elle Sloan last saw Luke Hutchins. Close to ten years since she broke up with him over a single phone call, providing him with little explanation. Since the end of their relationship, Elle has done everything she could do to move on, marrying, proceeding forward with her life, almost allowing herself to completely forget about Luke.
Almost.
Out of nowhere, Elle receives a phone call from Luke’s mother. Luke has been in a horrific car accident and, a month later, has just awoken from a coma. However, instead of celebrating, his family is stunned to learn that Luke is suffering from amnesia and only remembers his life as it was before his breakup with Elle. Not wanting to tell Luke that he and Elle aren’t together anymore for fear it may compromise his recovery, Elle is asked by Luke’s family to come to the hospital to see him. Their hope is that she will slowly be able to jog his memory and cushion the blow.
Guilt-ridden over how their relationship ended, Elle readily agrees, finding herself transported back in time with Luke to the life they once shared and the future they could have had together.

EXCERPT:
I heard voices even before I stepped inside of the room. They were soft, but one by one, I was able to discern who was speaking. The first voice struck me like a freight train, catapulting me further back in time with each word he spoke. The second one made my heart skip a beat.
As I walked farther into the room, I saw another vision of my past sitting next to the hospital bed. His attention, at first, was entirely focused on the occupant in the bed, until movement from me diverted his attention to me. He locked eyes with me, surprise on his face quickly turning to an odd combination of contradiction. Anger, excitement, and suspicion all appeared to be waging war and were enough to give me whiplash just looking at him. Peter Monroe—or just Monroe, as he preferred to be called—had been Luke’s best friend since pretty much the dawn of each other’s existence. He’d aged. His boyish good looks had hardened into a man who would have been difficult to recognize to me, save for the same square chin, overly large nose, and mischievous eyes I had remembered so fondly.
Another step inside the room revealed a sight I had fought valiantly to keep from infiltrating my dreams for the last several years. Like Monroe, he didn’t notice my arrival at first, and I was grateful for that because the shock I was feeling at that moment would have undoubtedly transferred onto him. His head was turned, his eyes, from what I could see of them, were closed. Most of his features were facing Monroe, but from what little I could make out of them, he looked exactly how I remembered him. The rest of his body, however, was a different story.
His hair had begun to grow back after having obviously been recently shaved to prep him for surgery. On the side of his head that was visible to me, a bandage was secured to his scalp just above his ear and was wrapped around his head. Both of his legs had been broken and were secured with immobilizers, resembling large boots. He’d been through hell and back physically, and I feared he’d soon go through the same emotionally, all because of me.
Tears fell down my face before I even had the chance to realize they had formed. Not wanting Luke to see me upset, I dabbed my eyes with my sleeve and did my best to maintain my composure before he realized I was there. With a lump in my throat, I took a step closer to the bed, approaching it on the opposite side of Monroe. There another chair sat, which I was grateful for in the event my legs felt like they were going to give out on me. Monroe sat watching me expectantly, silently screaming at me to announce my presence and put an end to the torment Luke must have been going through since regaining consciousness.
Closing my eyes, I took a breath and spoke. “Luke.”


Author Bio:
Sara “Furlong” Burr was born and raised in Michigan and currently still lives there with her husband, two daughters, a high-strung Lab, and three judgmental cats. When she’s not writing, Sara enjoys reading, camping, spending time with her family, and attempting to paint while consuming more amaretto sours than she cares to admit. 


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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Cover Reveal + Giveaway: Monster's Best 2019 by Various Authors

Today is the cover reveal for Monster’s Best 2019. The cover is designed by Monster House Books. This cover reveal is organized by Lola's Blog Tours.

Monster's Best 2019Monster’s Best 2019
By multiple authors
Genre: Non-fiction and fiction short story collaboration
Publisher: Monster House Books
Release Date: August 6, 2019
Blurb:
Monster House Books publishes a compilation of short stories featuring fierce females. Our 2019 edition includes new stories by best selling authors Christina Bauer, Genevieve Iseult Eldredge, and Majanka Verstraete! Plus, we're searching through hundreds of new author submissions in order to select a handful of the most creative and compelling short stories to add in to the mix. To have your work considered for the 2019 edition of MONSTER'S BEST, please send your short story (50 pages or less) to info@monsterhousebooks.com.







You can find Monster’s Best 2019 on Goodreads

Or check out Monster’s Best 2019 on the site of Monster House Books

You can pre-order Monster’s Best 2019 for free here on Amazon

Submissions are still open!
Want your story to be part of Monster’s Best 2019? To have your work considered for the 2019 edition of MONSTER'S BEST, please send your short story (50 pages or less) to info@monsterhousebooks.com.

About the Authors:

Monster's Best 2019 author
Authors of Monster's Best 2019 include best-selling authors Christina Bauer, Genevieve Iseult Eldredge, and Majanka Verstraete, as well as potentially you! Submit your short stories (50 pages or less) to info@monsterhousebooks.com!









Giveaway
Monster House Books is running a giveaway to celebrate their most recent cover reveals and releases with multiple prizes! There will be 6 different winners. These are the prizes you can win:
- a cupcake topper
- a shirt
- a journal
- a ring
- a mug
- an e-copy of Study in Shifters

See the rafflecopter widget for images of the prizes!


Sunday, June 10, 2018

Cover Reveal: Heart of the Colossus by Nicole Grotepas


Heart of the Colossus: A Steampunk Space Opera Adventure
Nicole Grotepas
(A Holly Drake Job Book, #3)
Publication date: July 12th 2018
Genres: Adult, Science Fiction, Steampunk
Holly Drake and her crew have seen just a fraction of the Shadow Coalition. Can they penetrate deeper into the organization and successfully defeat the Heart and the remaining Hands?



















Previous books in the series:

Author Bio:
I'm passionate about human rights, animal rights, and living life with no regrets. I love how becoming a parent has deepened my devotion to making the world a better place. I do that best by crafting stories that attempt to answer hard questions--the ones I think about most--while also being entertaining and fun. I live in a landscape that reminds me of my place in the universe, under an endless sky and towering mountains that are older than human memory, and I love it here. 


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Thursday, June 07, 2018

Blitz + Excerpt and Giveaway: Gathering by Bernadette Giacomazzo


The Gathering
Bernadette Giacomazzo
(The Uprising, #1)
Publication date: March 31st 2018
Genres: Adult, Dystopian
The Uprising Series tells the story of three freedom fighters and their friends in high — and low — places that come together to overthrow a vainglorious Emperor and his militaristic Cabal to restore the city, and the way of life, they once knew and loved.
In The Gathering, Jamie Ryan has defected from the Cabal and has joined his former brothers-in-arms — Basile Perrinault and Kanoa Shinomura — to form a collective known as The Uprising. When an explosion leads to him crossing paths with Evanora Cunningham — a product of Jamie’s past — he discovers that The Uprising is bigger, and more important, than he thought.



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EXCERPT:
Jamie
I saw Emperor – looking like a hot air balloon, sounding as ridiculous as ever – blathering on about his personal Reichstag fire, and laying the blame of the explosion squarely at the feet of myself and my brothers-in-arms.
“…and it’s these traitors of the state – the threat to the security of my Empire of the United States of America – the defectors of the Cabal who go by Jamie Ryanand Basile Perrinault and, my greatest betrayal, Supreme Allied Commander Kanoa Shinomura…” he hollered into the microphone, which seemed to reverberate throughout the city.
At the sound of Kanoa’s name, the Cabal members below the balcony slammed the butts of their guns on the floor in rhythm. I knew that rhythm all too well – it was meant to be a war cry for those of us in the rank-and-file of the Cabal – but, to the untrained ear, it sounded like a machine gun going off…which was exactly the point.
But I couldn’t help but sneer at the accusation that the blast that nearly killed Evanora and Tommy was somehow our fault. He’d spent decades trying to catch us and failing miserably, yet in the same breath, believed we were inept enough to set off a blast that took no lives and could be cleaned up during a balmy New York evening. And he managed to sell this ridiculous belief to the crowd, no less.
“Let’s make something clear, asshole,” I muttered, “if it had been me and the boys that lit your shit up, you wouldn’t be standing here today.”
Despite the absurdity of the accusation – and despite the obvious absurdity of the accusation – the victims of psi just grunted along, agreeing with everything and anything that came out of Emperor’s mouth, in part because they didn’t know any better (they were psi victims, after all), and in part because any disagreement with what Emperor had to say was met with a fierce, painful punishment.
“His Word, Before All and Above All,” I muttered. “With liberty and justice for no one, so kiss my peasant Old New York ass and take a breath mint afterward, unless you like that funky aftertaste…”
My voice trailed off as my eyes focused on a strange woman on the balcony.
At first, I couldn’t discern who she was – she looked like someone I’d seen before, yet someone I’d never seen before.
Her hair was a garish white-blonde, stringy and lifeless, and pinned tightly behind her head with a set of black ceramic chopsticks. Her makeup was almost cartoonish – cat-like black eyeliner and matte black lipstick sat atop a ghostly white foundation. Even her outfit was a hideously hilarious cultural appropriation – a black silk kimono paired with a set of black stiletto heels. I’d seen Old New York 42nd Street prostitutes, with terrible heroin problems, sell the “Asian coquette” look better than what I’d seen before me now.
“Who the actual…” I began, hesitantly, unable to process who I was seeing before me.
And then it hit me, all at once, who she was.
For the first time in a long time, I was literally speechless.
When I could finally find my voice again, it barely came out in a whisper. “Rosie,” I squeaked.
I walked into the Ludlow Street apartment I shared with Angelique and was instantly greeted with the smell of a meat dish that, I would later learn, was calledcarne asada.
“Angelique!” I called out over the loud sizzling of steak as I kicked off my black Frye boots and set my matching acoustic guitar down. “Where are you, my love?”
“In here!” she called, out of sight, from the kitchen, where more clanging and banging sounds echoed over her voice.
I began walking through the apartment, shedding layers as I went along until I reached the kitchen wearing nothing but my black leather pants and a mischievous smile. I was hoping to have a little appetizer of crème d’Angelique before dinner, but when I reached the kitchen, I realized – much to my chagrin – that we weren’t alone.
Angelique, her hair tied back into a messy ponytail, was wearing a tight, white, see-through shorts jumper and a matching white apron. She was standing next to an unfamiliar-looking woman with a matching messy ponytail, but whose thick chocolate brown hair stood in sharp contrast to Angelique’s thin flaxen locks. The rest of her, too, was in stark contrast to Angelique, but not in a bad way – she was olive-skinned, in contrast to Angelique’s pale white skin; she was curvy, in contrast to Angelique’s ectomorphic figure; she was fiery, in contrast to Angelique’s ethereal nature.
They were standing side by side, working on something that smelled simply delicious. Angelique was mixing flour, sugar, and garlic powder, and her friend was adding melted butter and salted water to the resultant powder, then kneading it until it formed a dough.
“Am I interrupting something?” I asked as I walked behind Angelique, wrapped my arms around her waist, and kissed her neck, breathing in her scent of lilacs as I did so.
She smiled, then took her index finger and bopped the tip of my nose with the flour mixture. “Hey handsome,” she said, beatifically. “We’re making something special for you for dinner. We’ve got carne asada in the pan over there – we’ve got some arroz con gandules in the rice cooker – and we’re making…wait, girl, what’s this called?”
Arepas,” her friend said, smiling as she continued to knead the dough between her hands, her silver thumb ring glistening in the light of the dusk as she did so.
“Right, arepas,” Angelique repeated. “Ramira here is teaching me all her magic ways – she says this is the exact dinner I need to make if I want my man to marry me.” She giggled, then elbowed Ramira, who giggled along with Angelique.
I couldn’t help but giggle, as well, as I unentwined myself from Angelique and walked over to Ramira to properly introduce myself. “I’m going to be stuffed fordays with all this delicious food, so it’s only right that we become friends,” I began, extending my hand. “Hi there. I’m James Randall Ryan IV, I somehow lucked out enough to convince this lovely lady Angelique to be my girlfriend, and it’s a pleasure to meet you. You can call me Jamie.”
Ramira smiled, then shook my hand with two of her fingers, taking care not to smear the wet dough across my palm. “Well, my name is Ramira Diaz, Angelique is my best friend, and it’s a pleasure to meet you too. You can call me Rosie, though. Everyone else does.”
I sat under a wilting star magnolia tree and stared, intently, through the open window of a room that had to be Rosie’s dressing room. She peeled her black silk kimono off and turned her back to the frameless window, exposing her prominent ribs and shoulder blades as she did so. The sight of her suddenly-bare, emaciated frame shocked me, especially given how pronounced her curves were in our younger years, and tears welled up in my eyes yet again.
In the decades since Angelique and my son had died, I could count the number of times I’d cried on one hand. In the past 72 hours, though – as I realized that my best friend’s kid, and my best friend’s girlfriend, were alive and well, and that the Uprising was bigger than I’d ever imagined – the tears came quickly and flowed easily, and I couldn’t decide if this was a sign of strength or weakness on my part.
Rosie slipped a shimmering white camisole over her emaciated frame, which she then tucked into a pair of white linen slacks. I couldn’t get over how thin she’d gotten, then wondered if this was by her own design, or if she was under orders from that evil husband of hers. No way would Jordan be cool with this, I thought to myself. On his fucking grave would this go on. On his fucking grave. And wouldn’t you know it – here we are, on his fucking grave.
I saw Rosie leave the room and begin to head down a flight of stairs, and I took that as an opportunity to get her alone, away from the rabid Cabal and out of sight of the vainglorious Emperor. She’d taken a few steps away from her building, and into Emperor’s Park, before passing by the wilting star magnolia tree that I was hiding behind. It was only when I saw the back of her slicked back, perfect ponytail – what a difference from the one she was wearing when we first met, I thought – that I saw the opportunity to get her alone and began walking behind her.
“You’ve come a long way from making arepas on Ludlow Street,” I said, tapping her on the shoulder when I finally caught up with her.
She spun around, her face scrunched up in fear, and for a split second, I thought she was going to hit me. But just as quickly, she relaxed as her eyes registered who owned the disembodied voice. “Jamie,” she whispered tearfully. “You’re here. You’re alive. I didn’t realize…”
“How the hell did you not?” I asked, furrowing my eyebrows and side-eyeing her. “Your damned husband has been hunting me for decades.”
“I knew that,” she said, taking ragged breaths. “But just the fact that he was never able to take you alive led me to believe that you were…you know…” Her voice trailed off.
I wasn’t convinced, and I continued to stare at her intently as I scratched my left cheek, which was now beginning to show the first signs of salt-and-pepper beard stubble. “First of all, why the hell are you talking like you’re Queen Elizabeth? Second, let me just state it for the record: you give your asshole husbandway too much credit if you think he can take me down.”
Rosie bit her lower lip, then shifted her eyes down. I put my hand under her chin and tipped her face up, forcing her eyes to meet mine as I tried, desperately, to search for a sign of the Rosie I once knew. “Rosie,” I whispered intently. “It’s me. You don’t have to hide from me.”
Her face was a blank slate. “My name is Rose. Rose Cunningham,” she said with flat affect.
“Oh, bullshit,” I whispered, even more intently. “Whatever happened to ‘call me Rosie, everyone else does’? What happened to that woman who was makingarepas in the kitchen with my Angelique?”
That got her attention, and her deep brown eyes flashed with fire as she balled up her fists and began swinging at me. “You shit! You bastard! You did it! You almost killed my baby!”
I ducked, bobbed and weaved, avoiding each blow as I carefully tried to talk her down from the ledge. “Rosie! What the hell are you talking about? I didn’t do that shit! I swear!”
She continued to swing at me. “Yes! Yes, you did!” she squealed tearfully, repeating the same “yes, yes” with each swing, her voice getting louder each time.
“Do you want to knock it off before the fuckin’ Cabal finds us, Rosie? The fuck is wrong with you? Jesus Christ!” I was shouting despite myself and began scanning the landscape frantically for Cabal soldiers that would have undoubtedly heard us, all while bobbing and weaving like a prizefighter to avoid getting punched in the face.
She swung even harder and squealed even louder. “You tried to kill my baby! Just like you killed yours!”
That line finally got me to react, and I had to steady my breathing to stop from clocking her in the mouth. Even in the throes of the worst of my Faustian behavior, I never hit a woman, and neither did any of my bandmates – the thought of violence against a woman, let alone a woman we’d loved, didn’t even cross our drug-addled minds.
Instead, I grabbed her wrists and forced them down to her sides, holding them in place at hip level as she struggled, trying to hit me, until she finally began whimpering in defeat.
“Now you listen to me, Ramira Diaz, and you listen well,” I began, angrily. “You may have forgotten everything you were and are, but I sure as fuck haven’t forgotten a goddamn thing, and let me rest assure you, I never fuckin’ will.”
Her lower lip was trembling, her eyes were watering, and it became evident that she was on the verge of tears. Still, I continued. “So, let me get a few things out of the way now, so we’re not confused. Number one: that blast? It wasn’t me. It wasn’t anyone tied to me. It wasn’t anyone whose name I can even spell. Because let me assure you, again, that if it were me, or anyone tied to me, we’d have burned down the entire fuckin’ city, even if it meant killing ourselves in the process, and wouldn’t have left a survivor anywhere on this God-forsaken island.
“Number two: you know goddamn well I didn’t kill Angelique or our baby. Now I wear their death on my heart every. Fucking. Day. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in twenty fucking years, from the day they were killed, because I can’t get their murders out of my mind. There are times I wish I was dead, just so that I don’t have to live with the guilt of their murders, but no, here I am, and ain’t that a fuckin’ bitch from Hell. I’d give all the money in the world to have my Angelique back. I’d trade my life for Jordan’s any day of the week. And my son – my only legacy – never had a chance at life, and you think that’s all fair?
“Number three – and this is the most important part, Rosie, goddamnit, you’d better fuckin’ listen to this if you listen to nothing else: remember that promise I made to you in the hospital room? All those years ago? Because I fuckin’ do. And that’s why when Evanora and Tommy came down the Bowery after the blast, and I realized who she was, I made sure she was safe and clean and warm…”
Rosie looked shocked. “Wait. She came to you?”
I searched her face, trying to see if I could register where her loyalties lie before I continued to answer the question. For some reason, however, I couldn’t make it out. I even tried to read Rosie’s mind using a gentle form of psi, but I still couldn’t read her mind at all. It was like trying to probe a brick wall. So, to protect Evanora – and the rest of us – I chose to cover my tracks. “Yeah,” I said airily, “she mentioned something about listening to Uprising Radio.”
The name of Uprising Radio registered some type of recognition with Rosie, and her eyes lit up slightly. “My baby has heard Uprising Radio?”
“I don’t know for sure,” I continued, still adopting an airy affect, “but I’m pretty sure that’s what she said.” Using my Cabal training, I put a mental wall between my thoughts and Rosie, mostly because I didn’t know how much training she’d had in the psi arts, and I wasn’t sure if she, too, could read my mind. And if, God forbid, her loyalties lied with that pathetic excuse of her husband, I could at least protect, if not myself, then the whole Uprising movement.
I made sure the wall was firmly in place before I continued. “I think I’ve heard Uprising Radio a few times, but I don’t know much about it, who does it, or anything of the sort.”
“Yeah,” Rosie said, hesitantly, behind a mental brick wall of her own, “I have no idea, either.”
We were calmer, now – our breath was steady, our thoughts were collected, and Rosie’s fists were limp. I finally felt confident that she wasn’t going to try to hit me again, so I loosened my grip on her wrists.
But I suddenly found myself unable to let her go, so I slid my hands from her wrists to her hands and grabbed her fingers lightly. I was overcome with emotion.
“What is it, Jamie?” Her voice was cracking.
I exhaled loudly, then drew in a ragged breath. “Do you think about him, Rosie? Do you think about Jordan at all?”
She closed her eyes and allowed the tears to fall as she exhaled shakily. “Every day of my life,” she said softly. “There’s not a day that goes by that Jordan doesn’t cross my mind. Every time I look at Evanora – every time I hear her laugh – he comes to my mind. Sometimes, she gives me this look – you remember, Jamie? You remember when Jordan would hear something that was just too stupid for words, and he would get this look on his face, like, ‘were you dropped on your head as a child?’” – and to this, I gave a half-smile and a nod – “and now, she gets that look. And that one eyebrow” – she took her finger and drew on her left eyebrow – “it would just go up like…like…”
She dropped her hand as her voice trailed off, her eyes filling with tears.
I nodded my head, closed my eyes, and sighed. “Fuckin’ guy,” I said, opening my eyes and looking at Rosie. “So. You didn’t see me, right?”
Rosie smiled and winked at me. “Ivan Sapphire? Please. Get over yourself, rock star.” She squeezed my hands one last time for good measure. “I’m going to leave now. I’m not going to look back because I don’t want to see where you’re going. This way, if someone with bad intentions against you asks me if I know where you are, I can answer honestly when I say I don’t know. But just because I don’t look back, doesn’t mean I want to see you go. I need you to understand that, Jamie Ryan. I don’t need you to over-analyze things that don’t need over-analyzing. I need you to let me go, Jamie Ryan, and I need you to know that I love you, and I thank you, from the bottom of my heart.”
She finally let go of my hands, gave me a slight nod, then turned and walked back to her home. I watched her, silently, keeping the promise I made so long ago to Jordan Barker and didn’t leave what was once known as Central Park until I saw, for sure, that she was safe inside.

Author Bio:
With an impressive list of credentials earned over the course of two decades, Bernadette R. Giacomazzo is a multi-hyphenate in the truest sense of the word: an editor, writer, photographer, publicist, and digital marketing specialist who has demonstrated an uncanny ability to thrive in each industry with equal aplomb. Her work has been featured in Teen Vogue, People, Us Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, and many, many more. She served as the news editor of Go! NYC Magazine for nearly a decade, the executive editor of LatinTRENDS Magazine for five years, the eye candy editor of XXL Magazine for two years, and the editor-at-large at iOne/Zona de Sabor for two years. As a publicist, she has worked with the likes of Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and his G-Unit record label, rapper Kool G. Rap, and various photographers, artists, and models. As a digital marketing specialist, Bernadette is Google Adwords certified, has an advanced knowledge of SEO, PPC, link-building, and other digital marketing techniques, and has worked for a variety of clients in the legal, medical, and real estate industries.
Based in New York City, Bernadette is the co-author of Swimming with Sharks: A Real World, How-To Guide to Success (and Failure) in the Business of Music (for the 21st Century), and the author of the forthcoming dystopian fiction series, The Uprising. She also contributed a story to the upcoming Beyonce Knowles tribute anthology, The King Bey Bible, which will be available in bookstores nationwide in the summer of 2018. 


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Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Blitz + Excerpt and Giveaway: Clutch by Lisa Becker


Clutch
Lisa Becker
Publication date: Original 2015; Re-release 2018
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
** Now with five new bonus chapters **
Clutch is the laugh-out-loud, chick lit romance chronicling the dating misadventures of Caroline Johnson, a single purse designer who compares her unsuccessful romantic relationships to styles of handbags – the “Hobo” starving artist, the “Diaper Bag” single dad, the “Briefcase” intense businessman, etc. With her best friend, bar owner Mike by her side, the overly-accommodating Caroline drinks a lot of Chardonnay, puts her heart on the line, endures her share of unworthy suitors and finds the courage to discover the “Clutch” or someone she wants to hold onto.





Audiobook listeners can get a free copy of Clutch on Audible if you sign up for a 30 day trial!

EXCERPT:
Mimi Johnson was casually dressed in a brightly-colored blouse with enormous turquoise jewelry and equally-oversized glasses. Despite that largesse, the only thing truly bigger than her personality (and her bosom) was her handbag. Always perfectly matched to her clothing, shoes, and jewelry, she was like a walking Chico’s advertisement, if you added forty years, forty pounds, and a Virginia Slims cigarette. From her Mary Poppins-like bag, she pulled out a box, impeccably-wrapped in glossy pink paper with a white grosgrain ribbon bow. A cigarette teetered between her two fingers while she produced a lung-hacking cough.
“Open it… …sweetie. Open it,” she said to her seven-year-old great-niece, Caroline, a beautiful and vibrant girl with long blonde hair and oversized blue eyes.
Alive with anticipation, sweet young Caroline eagerly took the box and smiled up at Mimi. She gingerly removed the ribbon, planning to save it for later. The glossy paper was of less interest and she ripped through it quickly. She opened the box and gently lifted out a hot pink purse, adorned with pale pink flowers and rhinestones. An enormous smile overcame her. Caroline nearly set her own hair on fire from Mimi’s cigarette as she bounded into her aunt’s arms.
“Oh, thank you, Aunt Mimi. It’s lovely.”
And that was when Caroline’s love of handbags began. From big and loud ones that would make Mimi proud to unimposing wristlets, from bowler bags to satchels; it didn’t matter if they were made of canvas or calf-skin leather, were distressed or embellished with metal studs. Hell, she didn’t care if you called them pocketbooks or purses. She just loved them all – almost as much as she loved Mimi.
By the time she was a junior in high school and well on her way to being class valedictorian, it was the hundreds of bags Caroline owned that helped her conceptualize her ticket out of her suffocating small Georgian town. She would design handbags. And it was Mimi who was her steadfast cheerleader.
“Caroline, sweetie… …you find something you love and you just hold onto it.” It had never mattered if Caroline was asking Mimi’s advice about a friend, lover, or career. The advice was always the same: “Find something you love and hold onto it.”
Mimi’s words ever-present in her mind, Caroline headed to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and spent four years in Los Angeles learning everything there was to know to pursue her passion. Then, right out of college, she spent three years working in the design and marketing departments of two of the world’s leading, high-end handbag designers.
She was schooled in beauty and how to accessorize the perfectly-coiffed women on the way to their Botox appointments. But Caroline was pulled by the nagging feeling that the very person who had inspired her career, Mimi, could never afford the bags she designed, even if Caroline used her generous employee discount on Mimi’s behalf. And God forbid Mimi would ever accept one as a gift, always preferring to give rather than receive. But Caroline believed there was no reason for anyone to be denied the ultimate in accessories. She saw an untapped market of designing beautiful and affordable bags, but she just wasn’t sure she was start-up potential. Again, it was Mimi who nudged her to learn the business side of things and apply to MBA programs. When Caroline was accepted to Harvard Business School, Mimi, of course, encouraged her.
“You’ve got this, sweetie. ,” she said. “It’s in the bag.”
•••
Caroline was sitting in Financial Reporting and Control on her first day of Harvard classes (and yes, the class turned out to be as boring as it sounded). That’s when she first eyed Mike, who was wearing a faded pair of Levi jeans, a washed-out vintage Rolling Stones T-shirt, and Converse sneakers. He oozed charisma. Turning her head away from him and back toward the front of the lecture hall, Caroline thought that if he were a handbag, he would be a grey leather tote – confident and dependable, but not trying too hard.
Mike surveyed the large lecture hall as he walked in, a Starbucks coffee cup in each hand. After descending the steps slowly, he took a seat next to Caroline and planted one of the white and green cups on her desk.
Flashing a wide, dimpled smile, which she mused he reserved for getting girls to drop their panties, he said, “Here. You look like you’re going to need this.”
“Thanks,” she replied in a suspicious tone, turning her head sideways to look at him and raising an eyebrow.
“I’m Mike,” he said, again flashing a smile and reaching out for a handshake.
“I’m Caroline. Thanks for the…”
“Latte.”
“Latte,” she confirmed. “Thanks. But just so you know, I’m not gonna sleep with you,” she said in an apparent attempt to establish up front she wasn’t taken in by his obvious charm.
“I know,” he replied matter-of-factly.
Before she could respond, Professor Beauregard, a stout man with excessive eyebrows, spoke up. “Please take note of where you are seated. I will send around a seating chart for you to mark your spot. This will be your seat for the remainder of the semester.”
“Looks like we’ll be seatmates,” Mike said, grinning at her.
“Looks like it.”
•••
About three months into the first semester, Caroline learned that her fun-loving, easy-going, new best buddy Mike wasn’t exactly who he appeared to be.
A blanket of white snow dusted the Harvard grounds and it was a particularly slow day in another mutual class, LEAD – Leadership and Organizational Behavior. Professor Moss, a frail man who weighed less than his years, was droning on and on about establishing productive relationships with subordinates or something to that effect. He initiated a discussion about what works better – the carrot or stick approach.
“Mr. Barnsworth,” he called, referring to his seating chart and scanning the room until he found Mike in the fifth row. “What are your thoughts?”
“Well, it seems to me that good management is all about empathy and being able to enthuse and inspire your staff. You know, appreciating them and respecting them. Showing you care,” he said, placing his hand over his heart in a gesture of true compassion and concern. “And if they can’t get that through their thick skulls, you fire ‘em,” he continued, drawing his finger across his throat.
Several students sitting around them started to chuckle while Caroline stifled a laugh. Mike looked around the room and nodded his head, soaking in the appreciation of his sense of humor.
“Mr. Barnsworth,” said Professor Moss in a menacing tone, “I would have expected a better answer from you, considering your family history.”
Confused by the conversation unfolding before her, Caroline leaned over and whispered to Mike, “What is he talkin’ about?” Mike put up a hand to quiet her.
“Later,” he hissed.
Twenty minutes later, the two shared a bench outside Baker Library, the chill of winter causing Caroline to pull her scarf closer around her neck.
“What was that all about?” she asked, scrunching up her nose in confusion.
Reluctantly, Mike began to speak. “My full name is Michael Frederick Barnsworth the Third. My family owns a large brokerage firm in New York,” he confessed, unsure of how Caroline would react.
Caroline listened as she took in just how old money his family really was. Mike’s great, great, great, great – actually it was hard to keep track of how many “greats” it went back – grandfather ran the first Bank of the United States, which Congress chartered in the early 1800s. His family had advised presidents, dined with royalty, and amassed a fortune that continued today through the Barnsworth Brokerage Firm.
“I’m the seventh person in my family to attend Harvard including my father, uncle, three cousins, and grandfather, who was a classmate of Professor Moss,” he continued.
Surprised by this unexpected news, she joked, “So you’re just slummin’ with a simple Southern girl like me – and makin’ me pay for drinks, mind you – until you go join the family business and marry someone named Muffy…”
“That’s my family’s plan,” Mike laughed. “There’s even an office in the Woolworth Building owned by my family, sitting empty, until I finish business school,” he said reluctantly.
“But…” she pressed, touching his hand gently, sensing the family plan may not actually be Mike’s plan – though they had never discussed his plans before.
“I want to open a bar,” he said, matter of fact and looking her square in the eye.
Caroline’s head leaned back as she let out a raucous laugh. “You want to own a bar?” she questioned, her shoulders shaking from laughter. “Now I get your goal to drink at every one of the six hundred bars in Boston before you graduate.”
“Yup, it’s research,” he said emphatically.
“Research?”
“Yeah. Every time my parents call, which isn’t very often – they are usually off with their snobby society friends or at Met Balls – I tell them I’m working hard and doing research.”
“Gotta give you credit. That’s pretty clever,” she replied, nodding her head.
“And true. If I’m going to open the best bar ever, I need to know what works and what doesn’t.”
“Okay. I get why you don’t want to be a wizard of Wall Street. But why a bar?” she asked, not understanding his desire for the life of a bar back.
“My parents weren’t around a lot growing up. My father spent more time in the office than my mother spent jetting between boutiques in Paris and ski chalets in Switzerland. And believe me, that was a lot,” he confessed. Caroline looked down in her lap, her heart sinking at the thought of the small boy with the winning smile being ignored by his family.
“I was pretty much raised by a series of au pairs. My favorite was Linnea who was nineteen when she came from Sweden to live with our family. She was obsessed with Tom Cruise movies and we would watch them all the time,” he explained, a wistful look on his face as he recalled fond memories.
“Cocktail!” Caroline exclaimed.
“Yup, I want to be the sole proprietor of a place where you can shake margaritas bare-chested,” Mike laughed. “It’s going to be called The Last Drop,” he stated, not looking for her approval.
“Great name,” she admitted, nodding her head. “Especially when your folks drop kick you out of the family.”
“I know. I’m preparing to be disowned, which is why I’m getting you used to buying the drinks,” he said, flashing her a smile.
“Well with any luck my business will allow me to continue payin’ for drinks.”
“The purse thing?”
“Yes. The purse thing,” she said, mocking him. “I aim to start a line called Clutch, because it’s one of my favorite handbag styles, and in honor of my aunt Mimi. She always says ‘Find somethin’ you love and just hold onto it.’”
“Sounds like a smart lady.”

Author Bio:
Lisa Becker is a romance writer whose previous novels include Click: An Online Love Story, Double Click and Right Click. The books, about a young woman's search for love online in Los Angeles, have been called, “a fast read that will keep you entertained,” “a fun, quick read for fans of Sex and the City,” and “hard to put down.” The first in the series was optioned for a major motion picture.
Her latest novel, Links, is a second chance romance that explores what happens when two high school classmates have a chance encounter after 15 years. #1 New York Times bestselling author Rachel Van Dyken called Links, "Witty, heartfelt and emotionally satisfying. Everything I want in a second chance romance! Once I picked it up I couldn't put it down!"
Lisa’s writings about online dating have been featured in Cupid’s Pulse, GalTime.com, Single Edition, The Perfect Soulmate, Chick Lit Central and numerous other book blogs and websites.
As Lisa's grandmother used to say, "For every chair, there's a rush." Lisa is now happily married to a man she met online and lives in Manhattan Beach with him and their two daughters. So, if it happened for her, there’s hope for anyone! 


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