Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Release Day Spotlight & Review: Black Tie Optional by Ann Marie Walker

by Ann Marie Walker
SMP Swerve
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
eBook ISBN: 9781250120021; Price: $3.99
Paperback ISBN: 9781250163738; Price: $15.99

The Proposal meets Two Weeks Notice in Ann Marie Walker's new standalone romantic comedy, Black Tie Optional, which New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Probst calls, "a fun, sexy romp that will keep every reader entertained!"

Everything about billionaire Coleman Grant III oozes power and sex. And not the perfunctory kind either, but the sheet clawing, heart stopping, gasping for air after you’ve screamed so loud you can’t breathe kind. From his dark wavy hair that stands in an artfully rumpled mess, to the blue eyes that sear your skin, to his full, sensual lips - on the surface he’s pure perfection.

Too bad he's an asshole. An arrogant, uptight corporate raider hell bent on destroying the environment one species at a time. 

Everything about Olivia Ramsey screams hippie humanitarian. From her blond hair tied in a sloppy bun, to her faded jeans with the Bonnaroo patch sewn on the thigh, to her combat boots still splattered with mud from the previous day’s site visit.

So it makes perfect sense that they would get married. In Vegas. Stone-cold sober.

Cole needs a wife. Olivia needs to save an endangered species. But what starts as a marriage of convenience soon turns into a battle of wills and sexual tension. Love is a game, and Olivia and Cole are ready to win.

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 Olivia’s eyes darted up to meet his. Surely, she’d known this was coming? It was how every damn wedding ended. And what was the big deal anyway? It was just a kiss, something they’d done countless times the night before. Then why were his palms sweating? And why did it suddenly feel like Tiny Angus was duck walking across his gut? Cole knew the answer, even though he tried his best to push the thought from his mind. This wasn’t just any kiss. It was the kiss to seal their union.
He leaned forward ever so slightly and touched his lips to hers. He only meant for it to be a quick peck, just enough to satisfy the witness’s watchful eyes. But her mouth was so soft, softer than he remembered from the night before, and she tasted so sweet, like vanilla and cherries, and before he even realized it, he was cupping her jaw and deepening their kiss. Her lips parted, inviting him in, and he took full advantage, his tongue sweeping over hers in firm, lush strokes. With a soft moan, her body went lax against his and for a few brief moments, Cole forgot not only where they were, but why.
Elvis cleared his throat in a not-so-subtle reminder. Cole pulled back, and the King nodded his approval. With a curl of his lip, he tossed a white scarf in Olivia’s direction and mumbled a familiar “Thank you, thank you very much.” A track of “Viva Las Vegas” began to play from the speakers and with his cape held aloft to properly display the red, white, and blue eagle bedazzled on the back, their minister made a dramatic exit.
“I guess Elvis has left the building?” Olivia joked.
“Thank fuck.”
After a few awkward moments, she asked. “So what now?”
Cole checked his watch. “We better get back to the hotel.” The combined bachelor and bachelorette party for Matthew and Emily was later that night. And even though a loud party was the last thing Cole was in the mood for at the moment, it was, after all, the reason they were in Vegas.
“Oh right, we have that thing tonight.”
“Yeah, the thing.” Jesus, they sounded like a couple of middle school kids having an awkward conversation behind the school cafeteria. Maybe they could spend their honeymoon locked in a closet for a round of Seven Minutes in Heaven.
“Supposed to be the hottest club in town,” Olivia added as they made their way through the chapel doors and into the parking lot.
Cole squinted at the setting sun. “That’s what I heard.”
“So I guess I’ll probably see you there.”
He kicked a piece of gravel with his shoe. “Probably.” Yup, it was exactly like middle school. Only there wouldn’t be Seven Minutes in Heaven or anywhere else for that matter. His new bride had made it very clear that, despite the mind-shattering orgasms he’d given her the night before, she had no desire to consummate their marriage. Then again, she did seem rather invested in that kiss and as much as it pained him to admit it, so was he. Despite her smart mouth and stubborn attitude, the fact remained that he wanted her. In his bed, on her knees, bent over his sofa. Fucking hell right now he’d even settle for the backseat of his rental car. Perhaps she was feeling the same way. And it was their wedding night after all . . .
Cole looked up, hoping to gauge her interest, but it
was too late. She was already gone.

Black Tie Optional is the first novel in the Wild Wedding series by Ann Marie Walker.

Over the past few months, Coleman Grant III stop for his morning coffee means running into the irritating hippy known as Olivia Ramsey. It's a tedious way to start the day but pales in comparison to the huge issue he has with regards to the company he runs...the one he may lose. When Ms Ramsay just happens to be attending the same event in Las Vegas as he is, Cole decides on a business proposition that will not only resolve his business predicament but rid him of the hippy chick too. Only, his plans don't unfold as he expects.

Olivia Ramsey's passion for saving endangered species has led her into the daily path of Coleman Grant III. He's a typical, stubborn corporate CEO who lacks compassion for the environment, even if he is drop-dead gorgeous. When their paths cross at an event in Las Vegas and Cole suggests a solution to her latest wildlife cause, she accepts. However, three months living as Mrs Grant doesn't turn out to be quite as she expected.

The chemistry between the protagonists is palpable between the sworn enemies as they reach their temporary ceasefire...marriage! On the surface, both appear to be as unalike as chalk and cheese, but as they get to know each other, both are trying to come to terms with events from the past. Issues that have to be overcome if they want to move forward in the lives either alone or together.

I loved the author's writing style and how she moved the relationship between Cole and Olivia along as the sexual tension between them became increasingly combustible. Entertained, I remained engaged within the book as the storyline unfolded. As the main antagonist within the plot, my only criticism is the way the Grandmother's role faded away without any explanation. Despite this, Black Tie Optional is a highly entertaining read. It's the first novel I've read by Ms Walker and I'll definitely be following future releases in this series.

Overall, the first novel in the Wild Wedding series is a fun, flirty and sexy, enemies to lovers romance… a perfect read for a hot Summer's day by the pool.

***arc generously received courtesy of St. Martin's Press via NetGalley***

Ann Marie Walker writes steamy books about sexy boys. She’s a fan of fancy cocktails, anything chocolate, and 80s rom-coms. Her super power is connecting any situation to an episode of Friends and she thinks all coffee cups should be the size of a bowl. If it’s December she can be found watching Love Actually but the rest of the year you can find her on Twitter, where she would be happy to talk to you about alpha males, lemon drop martinis or supermodel David Gandy. Ann Marie attended the University of Notre Dame and currently lives in Chicago.

Release Day Spotlight: Through Your Eyes by Shannyn Schroeder

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Through Your Eyes
For Your Love #3
By: Shannyn Schroeder
Releasing May 30, 2017
Zebra Shout
Through Your Eyes

For Your Love Series

Deirdre Murphy has had her life planned for her since she was born: Work in her parents’ noisy pub in rural Ireland. Live with her family until she marries. Marry her childhood sweetheart ASAP, since he’s decided sexy fun time should wait for marriage. None of it excites her. But before her fate closes in, Deirdre’s got one last visit to her Chicago cousins—where she can spend her mornings in a peaceful bakery, keep to herself, and savor the space she needs…. Until she meets Tommy O’Malley.
Tommy is as tough as his city and twice as ready to welcome her in. He’s covered in tattoos, stays up half the night inking them on other people, and has a reputation for being good with his hands. And he’s heart-pounding, forgot-her-words, can’t-stop-staring exciting.
Tommy knows he’s the opposite of everything Deirdre has prepared for. But to watch her set herself free, he’s willing to risk almost anything…

 “Is your aunt home?”
Not sure.” She peered over his shoulder to look for Aunt Eileen’s car. “Why?”
She scares me a little.”
Deirdre laughed. “My mother has the same effect on boys. It’s like they attended a mothering school that required a course in instilling fear in young men.”
How did your boyfriend move past it?”
Deirdre unlocked the door and pushed it open. As she took off her jacket, she said, “He didn’t have to. His parents and mine are close friends. He grew up at the pub same as me.”
Damn. That doesn’t help me at all.”
With her jacket on the hook near the closet, she locked the door behind them. “What do you need help with?”
Making your aunt like me. Don’t get me wrong, I can charm some parents, but Mrs. O’Leary seems to be able to withstand the O’Malley charm.”
Deirdre crossed her arms. “And when exactly did you try to charm Aunt Eileen?”
Not me. Jimmy. He says that until he proposed, Mrs. O’Leary gave him the cold shoulder. And, according to Moira, she liked Jimmy more than the rest of us.”
Deirdre laughed. “She did warn me to stay away from the O’Malley boys, no matter how charming they are.”
Looks like I have my work cut out for me.”
Thank you for lunch. I had a lovely time.”
What about the cupcakes?”
What about them?”
You’re supposed to teach me to decorate.”
She rolled her eyes. “You don’t want to decorate.”
I do.”
You’re persistent, I’ll give you that.” She turned toward the kitchen, not a bit sad to spend more time with him. “Let’s get started then.”
Once more, Deirdre went through the kitchen and gathered ingredients, this time setting them by the stand mixer that she doubted Aunt Eileen ever used. Tommy said nothing, just continued to watch her intently. She tried to ignore the staring and the niggling worry about whether he’d ask her out again.
She didn’t know how to tell him that, over the course of the afternoon, she’d changed her mind about a date. It made her seem quite fickle, which went against how she saw herself.
With the butter and shortening in the mixer, she flipped the switch to blend them as she grabbed a couple of lemons out of the fridge.
Tommy pointed to the bowl. “What is that?”
That will be the buttercream frosting.”
Looks gross.”
But it’ll taste delicious.”
I thought buttercream was all butter.”
I use the shortening to make crusting buttercream. It’s a firmer frosting for decorating.”
In our house, unless it’s from the bakery, frosting comes from a can and half gets eaten by spoon before making it onto a cake and the other half gets slapped on. There’s no real decorating to it.”
That’s the way of most people. Making it from scratch isn’t difficult, but if you have no desire to decorate, there’s no point.” She stopped the mixer and added some sugar and lemon juice. While that mixed, she readied a piping bag. “I only have one bag, so you’ll have to watch.”
He gave her that wicked smile again. “I like to watch.”
She didn’t even know what he meant by that, but the way he spoke caused a warm rush through her body.
Is there something specific you’d like to learn about decorating?”
What’s your favorite thing to do?”
She didn’t even have to think. “Roses.”
They’re the first thing I learned to do well. Probably because my middle name is Rose, so I wanted to learn it as kind of a signature thing. In addition, creating the roses is soothing. My mind can go to its own place while my hands work.”
You’re beautiful.”
What are you on about?”
When you talk like that. About something that’s important to you, Deirdre Rose. It’s not the matter-of-fact way you usually talk. You change.”
If I didn’t know better, I’d think you had a drink at lunch.”
Fine. Don’t believe me. Let’s get to the lesson.”
Oh, I believe Aunt Eileen was right after all. You O’Malley boys are quite the charmers.”
If you’re good, you’re good.”
She filled the pastry bag and grabbed a cupcake. Then she started to pipe the rose. When it was done, she handed it to Tommy.
It’s almost too pretty to eat.”
Nonsense. It’s meant to be enjoyed, not looked at.” She leaned forward and licked the top of the frosting off.

Shannyn Schroeder is the author of the O’Leary series, contemporary romances centered around a large Irish-American family in Chicago and the Hot & Nerdy series about 3 nerdy friends finding love. Her new series (For Your Love) currently has 2 titles out - Under Your Skin and In Your Arms. When she’s not wrangling her three kids or writing, she watches a ton of TV and loves to bake cookies. Find out more at her Website.

Rafflecopter Giveaway (1 $10- Amazon or B&N GC, One signed paperback copy of Under Your Skin (For Your Love #1), one Signed paperback copy of In Your Arms(For Your Love #2) or one digital copy of Between Love and Loyalty (standalone title). Paperback copies limited to US Only winners)

Release Day Blast: Lightstruck by Liz Crowe

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Brewing Passions #2
By: Liz Crowe
Releasing May 30, 2017
Totally Bound

Brewing Passions Series

Brewer Ross has given up on love…until he meets a woman who turns his life—and brewery—upside down.
Ross Hoffman held the potential for a perfect life in his hands—a life with Evelyn, the only woman he’d ever allowed himself to love, their baby and…her husband, Austin Fitzgerald, who also happened to be his best friend. But the challenge of trying to make a threesome into something acceptable—let alone the thought of actually sharing Evelyn with anyone—forces him to bolt. Determined to put all thoughts of their relationship behind him, Ross jumps headfirst into a new brewery job in Colorado, and back into the sort of sexual decadence that he hopes will distract him from his misery.
When he agrees to assist Austin through a spate of brewery mishaps, he lays eyes on his true fate—in the form of the petite, mysterious and exotic Elisa Nagel. Hired as assistant brewer, Elisa is absolutely everything he believes he doesn’t want in a woman. But he’s drawn to her in ways he can’t explain, and he can’t help but fall hard, fast and deep, which places him square in the middle of her horrific, until now secret backstory.
Ross is determined that his love will conquer and overcome the horrors of Elisa’s past, allowing her to trust him with the only thing he desires—her heart.
Reader Advisory: This book contains a scene with attempted rape and violence, as well as a brief scene alluding to person being drugged and raped.

 (Rated R)
She’d parked in front of the building where Ross, apparently, had a set of rooms at the top of a single flight of wooden steps. She stared up them, contemplating how drastically she wanted her life to change, and the fact that if she walked up those steps, it most definitely would.
She went up fast, not giving herself a chance to turn and run away. But when she raised her fist to knock, she hesitated. The voice was screaming at her now, blocking out the sound of the rain. She put the bags down and slammed her hands over her ears, crouching for a few seconds, willing it silent. Finally, her mind cleared, and she stood. Taking a deep breath, she raised her fist and banged hard on the door. “Hoffman! Open up!”
By the time he finally did open the door, she was soaked all the way to the skin but she felt energized—reborn. Slick and wet and eager in ways that confused her. Even the line of stubborn between Ross’ eyes didn’t deter her. She smiled, held out her arms and yelled, “Can I come in? It’s a tad damp out here.”
He stood inside the door, arms crossed over his bare chest. She stared at his pecs, at the thick black hop vine tattoo that matched hers, at his visible ab muscles. “Eyes up here, please, ma’am,” he said. “I’m not a piece of meat, you know.”
She held up the bags of food. “Do you have a microwave?”
He nodded, but didn’t move, continuing to block her way in. She dropped her arms, letting the rain pelt her, sensing his gaze taking her in from her dripping hair to her wet shoes. “You are a crazy bitch,” he said, conversationally, as if she weren’t standing right there, getting pelted in the rain while he remained dry less than a foot from her. “I’m not positive I want any part of you.”
She blinked, then forced herself forward and into his arms, dropping the bags as she wrapped herself around him. “That’s okay. I want us enough to make up for your lack of enthusiasm.”
He yelped. “Shit, you’re—”
Yes, wet to the skin. I know. We seem to be like this a lot, don’t we? Now, shut up and kiss me before I—oh”
He did just that, transporting her to what she’d come to think of as her only happy place—in his arms, with his mouth on hers, his tongue breeching her lips, forcing her to give in to him. She wrapped her arms around his neck and let him drag her inside. He picked her up, soaking clothes and all, continuing to kiss her all the way to the bedroom at the back of the mini-apartment.
He was gentle and tender as he undressed her, kissing every inch of skin he revealed, teasing her at the back of her neck and along her bare shoulders with his lips and teeth. He turned her this way and that, taking her all in, running his long fingers down her torso, cupping her breasts, licking each of her nipples, giving extra care to the still deformed one all the while muttering to himself in German.
He seemed especially fascinated with her piercings. He kissed her nose, her eyebrow, sucked the tiny ball in her lip into his mouth for a few seconds, rolled his tongue against the metal she’d placed there.
The line of balls in her ear cartilage got special attention. Each one of them touched with his fingertip, and his tongue.
Elle stood, eyes closed, letting him do what he wanted and loving it, loving him, if she were honest with herself. He ran his hands down her hips, around to her ass, across the evil puckered skin where she’d been burned. He was on knees now, his lips pressed to her stomach, then lower as his hands slid down the outside of both legs. His touch tickled, taunted, made her breathe fast as she tried to relax.
With shaking hands, she untied the leather string holding his hair back and slid her fingers into its silky depths, grazing his scalp with her short fingernails. He looked up at her. His eyes were bright with emotion. “You all right?” he whispered. “This is okay?”
It’s very much okay. Please…more?”

Amazon best-selling author, mom of three, Realtor, beer blogger, brewery marketing expert, and soccer fan, Liz Crowe is a Kentucky native and graduate of the University of Louisville currently living in Ann Arbor. She has decades of experience in sales and fund raising, plus an eight-year stint as a three-continent, ex-pat trailing spouse.
Her early forays into the publishing world led to a groundbreaking fiction subgenre, “Romance for Real Life,” which has gained thousands of fans and followers interested less in the “HEA” and more in the “WHA” (“What Happens After?”). More recently she is garnering even more fans across genres with her latest novels, which are more character-driven fiction, while remaining very much “real life.”

With stories set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch, in successful real estate offices and at times in exotic locales like Istanbul, Turkey, her books are unique and told with a fresh voice. The Liz Crowe backlist has something for any reader seeking complex storylines with humor and complete casts of characters that will delight, frustrate and linger in the imagination long after the book is finished.

Don’t ever ask her for anything “like a Budweiser” or risk bodily injury.

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