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Wrong Side of the Tracks by Jessica Prince ~ Release Blitz

Title: Wrong Side of the Tracks
Author: Jessica Prince
Series: Hope Valley
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Gypsy Bradbury was never destined for great things. Or at least that’s what she’d convinced herself of. Growing up on the wrong side of the tracks, she had learned that hoping for more was a waste of time. Then Marco forced his way into her life and gave her a glimpse of a future brighter than any she could have imagined. But if her past taught her anything, it was that if something seemed too good to be true… it probably was.

The promise of a quiet, simple life was what drew Marco Castillo to Hope Valley. After experiencing war and death first hand, he was looking for something easy. Then he met a woman with guarded eyes and the most beautiful smile he’d ever seen. The only problem was she came with more baggage than a 747.

There is nothing easy about Gypsy, but Marco knows without a doubt that the promise of her is well worth the effort. She’s the strongest, bravest woman he’s ever met, and when the life she’s fought to build for her and her family is threatened, Marco is determined to win that battle for her. Whether Gypsy wants his help or not.

 

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“Get dressed, babe,” he ordered, tossing my bra and panties to me before slipping back into his boxer briefs.

I sat up, holding the sheet to me as I looked at him in confusion. “What? Why? I figured we’d take a little nap, then kick off round two. Neither of those things requires getting dressed.”

His cocky smirk set off the butterflies in my belly as he pulled on his jeans. “As much as I’d love a round two right now, it’ll have to wait. I’m taking you to the diner for lunch.”

I froze in the middle of re-hooking my bra and looked up at him in panic. Reading my expression loud and clear, Marco moved back to the bed. The mattress dipped under his weight as he bent toward me and gave me a chaste kiss. “If it helps, don’t think of it as a date. Think of it as a meal shared by two people who really enjoy having sex with each other.”

I tipped my head to the side incredulously. “You’re saying we’re friends with benefits?”

He seemed to give that some thought as he tugged his T-shirt over his head. “No, not friends with benefits. I’d say we’re way more than friends, wouldn’t you?”

“Well, yeah. But what does that make us?”

“Don’t worry about labeling it,” he responded, lifting the weight that had been resting on my shoulders. “For now, let’s just enjoy each other and do what feels natural, yeah?”

“Yeah.” My lips slowly spread into a smile. “Okay. I can do that.”

“Good, girasol.” With that, he stood tall, grabbing my wrist and hauling me from the bed. “And what feels natural right now is getting some food in my gut before it eats clear through to my backbone. You want a round two, I need to refuel, so move that sexy ass of yours.”

Shooting him a playful glare as I went about getting dressed, I warned, “You want a round two ever, you should probably stop being so damn bossy.”

He stepped close just as I finished zipping up my jeans. His voice was low and full of sex as he said, “Baby, you hurry up so I can eat, and I’ll bring you back here and show you the type of bossy you won’t be able to get enough of.”

Well, all right, then.

This may be the Wrong Side of the Tracks but it was all RIGHT for me! I am ready to move on over to Hope Valley! That town may have a lot of drama going on lately, but oh boy are the men F.I.N.E. And the women there — are all strong women to be admired. And the way they stand by their friends… that’s just a place I’d like to be a part of!

Gypsy has had such a hard life. But she never quits, she just digs in and fights a little longer. She is raising her five siblings and their needs come before everything else. Gypsy’s walls are sky high from all she has dealt with. The one thing she has never been comfortable with is asking for help. Letting someone else shoulder some of her burdens. Well, Marco is here now to shatter those walls.

We have been waiting for Marco to get his story since way back in Jessica Prince’s Civil Corruption series. Let me tell you, the wait did NOT disappoint. Marco melted my panties! This man is everything you could dream of. He is sexy, strong, true, will fight for you and for the whipped cream on his delicious sundae — he is amazing with kids!

Wrong Side of the Tracks is a sexy, moving, small town romance that you do not want to miss!

Visit Hope Valley
a series of interconnected, standalone romances

Read for FREE on Kindle Unlimited

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Read for FREE on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US | Amazon Universal

 

Read for FREE on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US | Amazon Universal

 

 

Born and raised around Houston Texas, Jessica spent most of her life complaining about the heat, humidity, and all around pain in the ass weather. It was only as an adult that she quickly realized the cost of living in Houston made up for not being able to breathe when she stepped outside. That’s why God created central air, after all.

Jessica is the mother of a perfect little boy–she refuses to accept that he inherited her attitude and sarcastic nature no matter what her husband says.

In addition to being a wife and mom, she’s also a wino, a coffee addict, and an avid lover of all types of books–romances still being her all time favs. Her husband likes to claim that reading is her obsession but she just says it’s a passion…there’s a difference. Not that she’d expect a boy to understand.

Jessica has been writing since she was a little girl, but thankfully grew out of drawing her own pictures for her stories before ever publishing her first book. Because an artist she is not.

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Handle With Care by Helena Hunting ~ Chapter Reveal

Handle With Care, an all-new romantic comedy from New York Times bestselling author Helena Hunting is coming August 27th, and I have a sneak peek!

 

HE WANTS TO LOSE CONTROL.

Between his parents’ messed up marriage and his narcissistic younger brother, Lincoln Moorehead has spent the majority of his life avoiding his family. After the death of his father, Lincoln finds himself in the middle of the drama. To top it all off, he’s been named CEO of Moorehead Media, much to his brother’s chagrin. But Lincoln’s bad attitude softens when he meets the no-nonsense, gorgeous woman who has been given the task of transforming him from the gruff, wilderness guy to a suave businessman

SHE’S TRYING TO HOLD IT TOGETHER.

Wren Sterling has been working double time to keep the indiscretions at Moorehead Media at bay, so when she’s presented with a new contract, with new responsibilities and additional incentives, she agrees. Working with the reclusive oldest son of a ridiculously entitled family is worth the hassle if it means she’s that much closer to pursuing her own dreams. What Wren doesn’t expect is to find herself attracted to him, or for it to be mutual. And she certainly doesn’t expect to fall for Lincoln. But when a shocking new Moorehead scandal comes to light, she’s forced to choose between her own family and the broody, cynical CEO.

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CHAPTER 1

WHAT HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO?

 

WREN

I slip onto the empty bar stool beside the lumberjack mountain man who looks like he tried to squeeze himself into a suit two sizes too small. He’s intimidatingly broad and thick, with long dark hair that’s been pulled up into a haphazard man bun thing. His beard is a hipster’s wet dream. His scowl, however, makes him about as approachable as a rabid porcupine. And yet, here I am, sidling up next to him.

He glances at me, eyes bleary and not really tracking. He quickly focuses on his half-empty glass again. Based on the slump of his shoulders and the uncoordinated way he picks up his glass and tips it toward his mouth, I’m guessing he’s pretty hammered. I order a sparkling water with a dash of cranberry juice and a lime.

What I could really use is a cup of lavender-mint tea and my bed, but instead, I’m sitting next to a drunk man in his thirties. My life is extra glamorous, obviously. And no, I’m not an escort, but at the moment I feel like my morals are on the same kind of slippery slope.

“Rough day?” I ask, nodding to the bottle that’s missing more than half its contents. It was full when he sat down at the bar an hour ago. Yes, I’ve been watching him the entire time, waiting for an opportunity to make my move. While he’s been sitting here, he’s turned down two women, one in a dress that could’ve doubled as a disco ball and the other in a top so low-cut, I could almost see her navel.

“You could say that,” he slurs. He props his cheek on his fist, eyes almost slits. I can still make out the vibrant blue hue despite them almost being closed. They move over me, assessing. I’m wearing a conservative black dress with a high neckline and a hem that falls below my knees. Definitely not nearly as provocative as Disco Ball or Navel Lady.

“That solving your problems?” I give him a wry grin and tip my chin in the direction of his bottle of Johnnie.

His gaze swings slowly to the bottle. It gives me a chance to really look at him. Or what I can see of his face under his beard, anyway.


“Nah, but it helps quiet down all the noise up here.” He taps his temple and blurts, “My dad died.”


I put a hand on his forearm. It feels awkward, and creepy on my part since its half-genuine, half-contrived comfort. “I’m so sorry.”


He glances at my hand, which I quickly remove, and refocuses on his drink. “I should be sorry too, but I think he was mostly an asshole, so the world might be better off without him.” He attempts to fill his glass again, but his aim is off, and he pours it on the bar instead. I rush to lift my purse and grab a handful of napkins to mop up the mess.

“I’m drunk,” he mumbles.


“Well, I’m thinking that might’ve been the plan, considering the way you’re sucking that bottle back. I’m actually surprised you didn’t ask for a straw in the first place. Might be a good idea to throw a spacer in there if you want tomorrow morning to suck less.” I push my drink toward him, hoping he doesn’t send me packing like he did the other women who approached him earlier.

He narrows his eyes at my glass, suspicious, maybe. “What is that?”

“Cranberry and soda.” 


“No booze?”


“No booze. Go ahead. You’ll thank me in the morning.”


He picks up the glass and pauses when it’s an inch from his mouth. His eyes crinkle, telling me he’s smiling under that beard. “Does that mean Imma wake up with you beside me?”

I cock a brow. “Are you propositioning me?”

“Shit, sorry.” He chugs the contents of my glass. “I was joking. Besides, I’m so wasted, I can barely remember my name. Pretty sure I’d be useless in bed tonight. I should stop talkin’.” He scrubs a hand over his face and then motions to me. “I wouldn’t proposition you.”

I’m not sure how to respond. I go with semi-affronted, since it seems like somewhat of an insult. “Good to know.”

“Dammit. I mean, I think you might be hot. You look hot. I mean attractive. I think you’re pretty.” He tips his head to the side and blinks a few times. “You have nice eyes, all four of them are lovely.”

This time I laugh—for real—and point to the bottle. “I think you might want to tell your date you’re done for the night.”

He blows out a breath and nods. “You might be right.”

He makes an attempt to stand, but as soon as his feet hit the floor, he stumbles into me and grabs my shoulders to steady himself. “Whoa. Sorry. Yup, I’m definitely drunk.” His face is inches from mine, breath smelling strongly of alcohol. Beyond that, I get a whiff of fresh soap and a hint of aftershave. He lets go of my shoulders and takes an unsteady step back. “I don’t usually do this.” He motions sloppily to the bottle. “Mostly I’m a three drink max guy.”

“I think losing your father makes this condonable.” I slide off my stool. Despite being tall for a woman, and wearing heels, he still manages to be close to a head taller than me.

“Yeah, maybe, but I still think I might regret it tomorrow.” He’s incredibly unsteady, swaying while standing in place. I take the opportunity for what it is and thread my arm through his, leading him away from the bar. “Come on, let’s get you to the elevator before you pass out right here.”

He nods, then wobbles a bit, like moving his head has set him off balance. “That’s probably a good idea.”

He leans into me as we weave through the bar and stumbles on the two stairs leading to the foyer. There’s no way I’ll be able to stop him if he goes down, but I drape one of his huge arms over my shoulder anyway, and slip my own around his waist, guiding him in a mostly straight line to the elevators.

“Which floor are you on?” I ask.

“Penthouse.” He drops his arm from my shoulder and flings it out, pointing to the black doors at the end of the hall. “Jesus, I feel like I’m on a boat.”

“It’s probably all the alcohol sloshing around in your brain.” I take his elbow again, helping him stagger the last twenty feet to the dedicated penthouse elevator.

He stares at the keypad for a few seconds, brow pulling into a furrow. “I can’t remember the code. It’s thumbprint activated though too.” He stumbles forward and presses his forehead against the wall, then tries to line up his thumb with the sensor, but his aim is horrendous and he keeps missing.

I settle a hand on his very firm forearm. This man is built like a tank. Or a superhero. For a moment, I reconsider what I’m about to do, but he seems pretty harmless and ridiculously hammered, so he shouldn’t pose a threat. I’m also trained in self-defense, which would fall under the by any means necessary umbrella. “Can I help?”

He rolls his head, eyes slits as they bounce around my face. “Please.”

I take his hand between mine. The first thing I notice is how clammy it is. But beyond that, his knuckles are rough, littered with tiny scars and a few scabs, and his nails are jagged.

“Your hands are small,” he observes as I line his thumb up with the sensor pad and press down.

“Maybe yours are abnormally big,” I reply. They are rather large. Like basketball player hands.

“You know what they say about big hands.”

I fight not to roll my eyes, but for a brief moment, I wonder if what’s in his pants actually matches the rest of him. And if he’s unkempt everywhere, not just on his face. I cut that visual quickly because it makes me want to gag. “And what do they say?”

His eyes crinkle again, and he slaps his own chest. “Something about big hands, big heart.”

I bite back my own smile. “Pretty sure you’re mixing that up with cold hands, warm heart.”

His brow furrows. “There’s a good chance.”

The elevator doors slide open. He pushes off the wall with some effort and practically tumbles inside. He catches himself on the rail and sags against the wall as I follow him in. I honestly can’t believe I’m doing this right now.

He doesn’t have to press a button since the elevator only goes to the penthouse floor. As soon as we start moving, he groans and his shoulders curl in. “I don’t feel so good.”

Please don’t let him be sick in here. If there’s one thing I can’t deal with, it’s vomit. “You should sit.”

He slides down the wall, massive shoulders rolling forward as he rests his forehead on his knees. “Tomorrow is going to suck.”

I stay on the other side of the elevator, in case he tosses his cookies. “Probably.”

It’s the longest elevator ride in the history of the world. Or at least it feels that way, mostly because I’m terrified he’s going to yak. Thankfully, we make it to the penthouse floor incident-free. On the down side, now that he’s in a sitting position, getting him to stand again is a challenge. I have to press the open door button three times before I can finally coax him to his feet.

In the time between leaving the bar and making it to the penthouse floor, the effects of the alcohol seems to have compounded. He’s beyond sloppy, using the wall and me for support as we make our way to his door. There are two penthouse apartments up here. One on either side of the foyer.

He leans against the doorjamb, once again fighting to find the coordination to get his thumb to the sensor pad. I don’t ask if he needs my assistance this time since it’s quite clear he does. Once again I take his clammy hand in mine.

“Your hands are really soft,” he mumbles.


“Thanks.”


The pad ashes green, and I turn the handle. “Okay, here we go. Home sweet home.”


“This isn’t my home,” he slurs. “My cousin’s family owns this building. I’m crashing here until I can get the fuck out of New York.”

I scan the penthouse. It an eclectic combination of odd art and modern furniture, like two different tastes crashed together and this is the result. Aside from that, it’s clean to the point of looking almost like a show home.

The only sign that someone is staying here is the lone coffee cup on the table in the living room and the blanket lolling like a tongue over the edge of the couch. I’m still standing in the doorway while he sways unsteadily.

He tries to shove his hand in his pants pocket, but all he succeeds in doing is setting himself off-balance. He nearly stumbles into the wall.

“Thanks for your help,” he says.

He’s back in his penthouse, which means my job is technically done. However, I’m worried he’s going to hurt himself, or worse, asphyxiate on his own vomit in the middle of the night, and I’ll be the one catching heat if that happens. I’ll also feel bad if something happens to him. I blow out a breath, annoyed that this is how my night is ending.

I heave his arm over my shoulder and slip mine around his waist again, leading him through the living room toward what seems to be the kitchen. There’s a sheet of paper on the island, but otherwise it’s spotless.

“What’re you doing?” he asks.

We pause when we reach the threshold. “Which way is your bedroom?”

He looks slowly from right to left. “Not that way.” He points to the kitchen. It’s very state of the art.

I guide him in the opposite direction down the hall, until he stumbles through a doorway, into a large but simply furnished bedroom. Once we reach the edge of the bed, he drops his arm, spins around—it’s drunkenly graceful—and falls back on the bed, arms spread wide as if he’s planning on making snow angels. “The room is spinning.”

“Would you like me to get you a glass of water and possibly a painkiller for the headache you’ll likely have in the morning?” I’m already heading for the bathroom.

“Might be a good idea,” he mumbles.

I find a glass on the edge of bathroom vanity—which is clean, apart from a brand new toothbrush and tube of toothpaste. I run the tap, wishing I had a plastic tumbler, because I’m not sure he’s in any state to deal with breakable objects. I check the medicine cabinet, find the pills I need, shake out two tablets, and return to the bedroom.

He’s right where I left him; sprawled out faceup on a massive king-size bed, legs hanging off the end, one shoe on the floor beside him. I cross over and set the water and the pills on the nightstand.

I make a quick trip back to the bathroom and grab the empty wastebasket from beside the toilet in case his night is a lot rougher than he expects.

I tap his knee, crossing my fingers he’ll be easy to rouse. “Hey, I have painkillers for you.”

He makes a noise, but doesn’t move otherwise.

I tap his knee again. “Lincoln, you need to wake up long enough to take these.” I cringe. I called him by name, and he didn’t offer it to me while we were down at the bar. Here’s hoping he’s too drunk to notice or remember. His name is Lincoln Moorehead, heir to the Moorehead Media fortune and all the crap that comes with it. And there’s a lot of it.

One eye becomes a slit. “Every time I open my eyes, the room starts spinning again.”

“If you drink this and take these, it might help.” I hold up the glass of water and the pills.

“’Kay.” It takes three tries for him to sit up. He tries to pick the pills up out of my palm, but keeps missing my hand.

“Just open your mouth.”

He lifts his head. “How do I know you’re not trying to roofie me?”

I hold up the tablet in front of his face. “They don’t say roofie, so you’re safe.”

He tries to focus on the pill and then my face. I have my doubts he’s successful at either.

His tongue peeks out to drag across his bottom lip. “The cameras in the hall will catch you if you steal my wallet.”

I laugh at that. “I’m not going to steal your wallet, I’m going to put you to bed.”

“Hmm.” He nods slowly and opens his mouth.

I drop the pills on his tongue and hand him the glass, which he drains in three long swallows. “Would you like me to refill that?”

“That’d be nice.” He holds out the glass, but when I try to pull away, he covers my hands with his. His shockingly blue eyes meet mine, and for a moment they’re clear and compelling. Despite how out of it he is, and how much he resembles a mountain man, or maybe because of it, I have a hard time looking away. “I really wish I wasn’t this messed up. You smell nice. I bet your hair is pretty when it’s not pulled up like that.” He flops a hand toward my bun. “Not that it’s not pretty like that, but I bet if you took it down, it would be wavy and soft. The kind of hair you want to bury your face in and run your fingers through.” He exhales a long breath. “I haven’t had sex in a really long time, but I feel like I would have zero finesse if I tried right now.”

I smile and turn away. In the time it takes for me to refill his glass, he’s managed to get one arm out of his suit jacket. He’s made it most of the way onto the bed, feet still hanging off the end, but he’s on his back, which is not ideal.

I set the glass on his nightstand, along with a second set of painkillers, which I’m assuming he’ll need in the morning, and give him another nudge. “Hey.”

This time I get nothing in the way of a response. I poke him twice more, but still nothing. He can’t sleep on his back with how drunk he is. He needs to be on his side or his stomach with a wastebasket close by.

I can’t in good conscience leave him like this. My options are limited. I shake my head as I kick off my shoes and climb up onto the bed with him. This is not at all what I expected to be doing when I brought him back up here.

I stare down at his sleeping form. His lips are parted, they’re nice lips, full and plump, even though they’re mostly obscured by his overgrown beard. His hair has started to unravel from its man bun, wisps hanging in his face. He has long lashes, really long actually, and they’re thick and dark, the kind women pay a lot of money for. His nose is straight and his cheekbones— what I can see of them—are high. With a haircut, a beard trim or complete shave, and a new suit that actually fits, I can imagine how refined he’ll look. More like a Moorehead than a mountain man lumberjack. I shake my head. “I need you to roll onto your side, please,” I say loudly.

Nothing. Not even a grunt.

I pull on his shoulder, but he’s dead weight. Leaning over him, I make a fist and give him a light jab approximately where his kidney is. “Lincoln, roll over.”

And roll he does, knocking me down and turning over so he’s right on top of me. We’re face-to-face. Good God, he’s heavy. His bones must be made of lead. He shifts, one leg coming over both of mine. I push at his knee, but his arm swings out and he wraps himself around me on a low groan, pinning my arm to my side. He’s like a giant human blanket.

“How did this become my life?” I say to the ceiling, because the man lying on top of me is apparently out cold.

I try to wriggle free, I even yell his name a bunch of time before I give up and wait for him to roll off me. And while I wait for that to happen, I replay the conversation with his mother, Gwendolyn Moorehead, that took place forty-eight hours ago and put me in this awkward position underneath her drunk son.

I’d been standing in Fredrick’s office, still digesting the fact that he was dead. It was shocking that a massive heart attack had taken him, since he was always so healthy and full of life.

Gwendolyn, his wife—now a widow—stood stoic behind his desk, papers stacked neatly in the center.

“I’m so very for your loss, Gwendolyn. If there’s anything I can do. Whatever you need.” The words poured out, typical condolences, but sincerely meant because I couldn’t imagine how my mother and I would feel if we lost my father.

Gwendolyn’s fingers danced at her throat as she cleared it. “Thank you,” she whispered brokenly and dabbed at her eyes. “I appreciate your kindness, Wren.”

“Let me know what you want me to handle, and I’ll take care of it.”

She took a deep breath, composing herself before she lifted her gaze to mine. “I need your help.”

“Of course, what can I do?”

“My oldest son, Lincoln, will be returning to New York for the funeral, and he’ll be staying to help run the company.”

A hot feeling crept up my spine. I’d heard very little about Lincoln. Everything from Armstrong’s mouth was scathing, Fredrick’s passing references had been with fondness, and my interactions with Gwendolyn had been minimal as it was Fredrick himself who hired me, so this was first I’ve heard of Lincoln through her. “I see. And how can I help with that?” I could only imagine how difficult Armstrong would be if he had to share the attention with someone else, particularly his brother.

“Transitioning Lincoln.” Gwendolyn rounded her desk. “You’ve managed to turn around Armstrong’s reputation in the media during the time you’ve been here. I know it hasn’t been easy, and Armstrong can be difficult to manage.”

Difficult to manage is the understatement of the entire century where Armstrong is concerned. He’s a cocksucker of epic proportions. He’s also a misogynistic, narcissistic bastard that I’ve had to deal with for the past eight months on a nearly daily basis—sometimes even on weekends.

My job as his “handler” has been to reshape his horrendous reputation after his involvement in several scandalous events became very public. It wasn’t a job I necessarily wanted, and I was prepared to politely reject the offer, but my mother asked me to take the position as a favor to her since she’s a friend of Gwendolyn.

Beyond that, my relationship with my mother has been strained for the past decade. When I was a teenager, I discovered information that changed our relationship forever. Taking the job at Moorehead was in part, my way of trying to help repair our fractured bond. The financial compensation, which was ridiculously high, also didn’t hurt. Besides, Gwendolyn is on nearly every single charitable foundation committee in the city, and since that’s where my interests lie, it seemed like a smart career move.

“Since you’re already working with Armstrong and things seem to be settled there for the most part, I felt it would make sense to keep you on here at Moorehead to work with Lincoln. He’s been away from civilized society for several years. He’s nothing like his brother, very altruistic and focused on his job, rather than recreational pursuits, so he should be easier to manage.”

I fought a scoff at the last bit, since “recreational pursuits” was a reference to the fact that Armstrong couldn’t seem to keep his pants zipped when it came to women.

Gwendolyn pushed a set of papers toward me. “It would only be for another six months. And of course, your salary would reflect the double work load, since you’ll still have to maintain Armstrong in some capacity while you assist Lincoln in transitioning into his role here.”

“I’m sorry, what—”

Gwendolyn pulled me into an awkward hug, holding onto my shoulders when she stepped back. Her eyes were glassy and red-rimmed. “You have no idea how much I appreciate your willingness to take this on. As soon as your contract is fulfilled, you have my word that I’ll give you a glowing recommendation to whichever organization you’d like. Your mother told me you’re interested in starting your own foundation. I’ll certainly help you in any way I’m able if you’ll stay on a little longer for me.” She dabbed at her corner of her eyes and sniffed, then tapped the papers on the desk. “I already have an agreement ready and an NDA, of course. Everything is tabbed for signing.”

I’m pulled back into the present when Lincoln shifts and one of his huge hands slides up my side and lands on my breast. At the same time, he pushes his nose against my neck, beard tickling my collarbone. He mutters something unintelligible against my skin.

I’m momentarily frozen in shock. Under any other circumstances, I would knee him in the balls. However, he’s not conscious or even semi-aware that he’s fondling me. Thankfully, now that he’s moved, I have some wiggle room.

I elbow him in the ribs, which probably hurts me more than it does him. At least it gets him to move away enough that I can slip out from under him. I roll off the bed and pop back up, smoothing out my now-wrinkled dress. My stupid nipples are perky, thanks to the attention the right one just got. Probably because it’s the most action I’ve seen since I started working for the Mooreheads eight months ago.

I hit the lights on the way out of the bedroom, pause in the kitchen to grab a glass of water and check out the sheet of paper on the counter. It’s a list of important details regarding the penthouse, including the entry code. I nab my purse, snap a pic, and head for the elevators.

I have a feeling this is going to be a long six months.

 

From Handle With Care. Copyright © 2019 by Helena Hunting and reprinted with permission from St. Martin’s Paperbacks.

 

 

Helena Hunting

 

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She’s writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy.

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The Best of Me by Jessica Prince

Title: The Best of Me
Author: Jessica Prince
Series: Hope Valley
Genre: Contemporary Romance

It wasn’t hard for Nona Fanning to fall for Trick. He was strong, kind-hearted, loyal, and unbelievably handsome. He was the man of her dreams, and all it took was one night to give her a taste of the beauty he had to offer. But while she’d been opening her heart to him, he’d kept his under lock and key.

After Patrick “Trick” Wanderly’s wife left him, ripping away their picture-perfect life, he convinced himself that she’d taken the best pieces of him with her. He wasn’t ready to move on and give his heart to someone else. Then his whole world flipped upside down after spending one night with Nona.

It took awhile for him to see what he had standing right in front of him, but now Trick’s eyes are open, and he’s determined to fix what he broke. But when danger threatens to tear Nona’s world apart, it’s up to Trick to help hold those pieces together while fighting to protect the woman and the new life he’s come to cherish.

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Something came over me at that very moment, an intense feeling I’d only experienced one time before in my life, when Nona and I were on the dance floor at Hayes and Temperance’s wedding. Her smile, all that insanely gorgeous hair, those curves. All of that was enough to bring the strongest of men to their knees. But when she smiled, it was like feeling the sun on your skin. When she spoke in that melodic voice, speaking her brand of wisdom, it was all too much; the pull was impossible to fight. Moving on pure instinct, I closed the last few inches and pulled her against me, slamming my mouth down on hers.

Her lips parted on a surprised gasp and I took full advantage, driving my tongue inside Nona’s sweet mouth. She tasted like wine and chocolate, sweet and rich. It was heaven, and that initial taste sucked me in and refused to let me go. I was drowning, completely consumed in Nona, and I couldn’t get enough.

Her nails scored my chest, fisting the material of my shirt as a tiny whimper bubbled up her throat, and that was enough to push me over the edge.

The memories of our night together were still as fresh in my mind as if they’d happened an hour ago, and I wanted all of that. Again, and again, and again. I wanted her over and over until I eased at least some of the ache that came from desiring everything there was about Nona. But deep down to my bones, I knew it was useless. This kind of craving was never-ending. I craved her body and mind. I wanted every piece of her I could get my hands on.

 

 

Ahhhhh I have been dying to know more about Nona since this series started and Jessica did not let us down. I now want to be her friend even more! Plus Nona does some kickass baking whenever she is stressed – seriously, the best kinda friend to have!
Trick and Nona are both divorced parents (divorced from other people, not each other!) I loved watching their relationships with their children. How they made sure their needs were put first. Their lives were an integral part of this story. And when they bond with each other’s kids – it will melt your heart!
The Best of Me has everything in it… laughs, feels, suspense, steam and above all else love. The different elements in this book combined with top notch storytelling makes this a don’t miss book!

 

Visit Hope Valley
a series of interconnected, standalone romances

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Born and raised around Houston Texas, Jessica spent most of her life complaining about the heat, humidity, and all around pain in the ass weather. It was only as an adult that she quickly realized the cost of living in Houston made up for not being able to breathe when she stepped outside. That’s why God created central air, after all.

Jessica is the mother of a perfect little boy–she refuses to accept that he inherited her attitude and sarcastic nature no matter what her husband says.

In addition to being a wife and mom, she’s also a wino, a coffee addict, and an avid lover of all types of books–romances still being her all time favs. Her husband likes to claim that reading is her obsession but she just says it’s a passion…there’s a difference. Not that she’d expect a boy to understand.

Jessica has been writing since she was a little girl, but thankfully grew out of drawing her own pictures for her stories before ever publishing her first book. Because an artist she is not.

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Out of My League by Jessica Prince ~ Release Blitz & Review

Title: Out of My League
Author: Jessica Prince
Series: Hope Valley
Genre: Contemporary Romance

After years of war, Lincoln Sheppard thought he’d left the violence and ugliness behind. He was content with the life he built for himself. Then the woman down the street came in and shook everything up.

All Eden Brenner ever wanted was to have a place to call home. She finally found that in Hope Valley. Then she went and fell in love with the man a few houses down the first time she laid eyes on him. There was just one problem. Women like her didn’t catch the attention of men like him. He was totally and completely out of her league. And to make matters worse, when her past comes knocking, the beautiful world she’s built for herself is at risk of crumbling to the ground.

When danger forces Eden into his arms, Lincoln begins to see her in a whole new light, and he suddenly finds himself wanting things he never expected. And he wants them all with the shy, clumsy woman from down the street. But when the truth comes out, that proves nearly impossible. Now he’s fighting the hardest battle of his life, and the stakes are higher than ever. Protect the woman he’s falling for while trying to win her heart at the same time.

 

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“What the hell was that?” I finally managed to ask on a heavy exhale.

“Two weeks, buttercup,” he said on a growl. “Two fuckin’ weeks I’ve had to watch you at a distance, and the first words you speak to me in that time are to jump down my goddamn throat.”

I tried to step back, but his arms tightened. “Well, what did you think I’d do when I found out?”

“Exactly this,” he said smugly.

“Wait. You wanted me to come in here and blow up at you?”

“If that’s what it took to get you to stop pretendin’ like I don’t exist, then yeah. I’ve been going outta my goddamn mind for two weeks, Edie.”

“That makes two of us!” I cried. “Only mine’s all your fault.”

“It was a means to an end. One way or another, I was gonna keep you safe. I wanted to do it my damn self, but you wouldn’t allow that, so I did the next best thing, with a little added incentive to my boys to do everything in their power to annoy you to the point that you’d let me back in so I could look after you.”

Putting my hands to his chest, I shoved as hard as I possibly could. It was like trying to move a mountain. “For god’s sake,” I gasped. “Do you have any idea how insane that sounds?”

“Haven’t been feelin’ all that fuckin’ sane the past couple weeks, buttercup,” he clipped in return.

I gave him another shove, and another, and another until he finally relented and let me go. “Don’t say that,” I snapped back just as hard, causing him to tilt his head in confusion.

“Don’t say what?”

“Don’t call me buttercup like that. Not when you’re pissed. You gave me that name when we first met, and I’ve freaking loved it ever since. Don’t you use it sarcastically. That’s not fair.”

Everything suddenly shifted. Lincoln’s anger and irritation faded away, and his face took on that soft warmth that made my heart flip. “I’m sorry, baby,” he said so gently that I thought I might break down and cry right then and there. “I promise not to do it again.”

God, I was a wreck. I was so off-kilter I didn’t know up from down. “Jesus, Linc. What are we doing here? This isn’t normal behavior. It’s totally unhealthy.”

He crossed his arms over his chest, and for the first time since storming in, I actually noticed what he was wearing. Running shoes, a pair of loose black basketball shorts that hung tantalizingly off his narrow hips, and another Under Armour shirt, only this one was white and sleeveless. And damn, did he look good.

He watched me closely as he leaned back casually against the door, cutting off any hopes I might have had of escaping. “You’re right, Edie. Nothing about this is normal, but I’m fine with that.”

“How can you say that?” I asked in frustration, the tsunami of emotions inside of me making it impossible to think straight. “How could you ever be okay with this?”

“Because I’ve never cared about someone the way I care about you. I was just fine with the way my life was before you came along, Eden. I never considered marriage or kids or settling down. As far as I was concerned, none of that shit was for me. Then I met you.”

“Lincoln—”

But he wasn’t finished. “You told me that what we had was real for you from the very beginning. What I didn’t realize was that it was the same for me too.” All the air expelled from my lungs on a painful exhale. “When I held you on the dance floor that first night, everything changed. You’re genuine and beautiful. I don’t just want you, Eden, I want to know you. You’re different than any woman I’ve ever been with.”

“I make you laugh,” I whispered, the words spilling out of their own accord.

He nodded and lowered his voice. “You make me laugh.” Pushing off the wall, he closed the distance between us and placed a palm on either side of my neck, using his thumbs to tip my face up. “And you make it so easy. I didn’t think that was possible, baby.”

“Nona told me you don’t laugh a lot,” I said quietly. “I didn’t believe her because I’d seen it myself every time we were together.”

“That was because of you, Edie. Only you.”

I couldn’t take it anymore. Lifting onto my toes, I slammed my lips against his and kissed him with everything I was.

Out of My League is a sweet, sexy, small-town, alpha, slow-burn romance. From the moment that I “met” Eden I just wanted to read more and more and more. I wanted to be friends with her. There was just something about her that was so real. I absolutely adore reading “real” characters ones that have depth and flaws and just aren’t too perfect to be able to relate to. Jessica has a real knack for delivering these types of characters. Lincoln and Eden were so great together. I can not wait to return to Hope Valley to read more about this new town and all the intriguing characters we met there!

Born and raised around Houston Texas, Jessica spent most of her life complaining about the heat, humidity, and all around pain in the ass weather. It was only as an adult that she quickly realized the cost of living in Houston made up for not being able to breathe when she stepped outside. That’s why God created central air, after all.

Jessica is the mother of a perfect little boy–she refuses to accept that he inherited her attitude and sarcastic nature no matter what her husband says.

In addition to being a wife and mom, she’s also a wino, a coffee addict, and an avid lover of all types of books–romances still being her all time favs. Her husband likes to claim that reading is her obsession but she just says it’s a passion…there’s a difference. Not that she’d expect a boy to understand.

Jessica has been writing since she was a little girl, but thankfully grew out of drawing her own pictures for her stories before ever publishing her first book. Because an artist she is not.

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Your Honor by Kristi Pelton ~ Release Blitz

Title: Your Honor
Author: Kristi Pelton
Genre: New Adult Romance

He’s about to overrule her world.

There are no accidents. People cross paths for a reason.
I’m not sure why ours crossed but within a second, I realized, she could destroy everything.
There’s a code of ethics in some professions where certain relationships are frowned upon.
She’s the prosecutor. I’m the judge. Sleeping with her is all sorts of hell no!
Ethic review boards could remove me from the bench—as in “You’re fired.”
Even worse, my father would kill me if his name were tainted. But it would kill me more not to have her.
They say rules are meant to be broken. But is she worth the risk?
The only thing I was sure of—I wanted to completely overrule her perfect little world.

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“All rise.”

The moment the words were spoken, my heart began to beat out of my chest, this was it. My first official court moment. Everything i’d studied and prepared for. I was so nervous. It wasn’t until Jenner strolled through the chamber door in a pressed black robe that I felt faint. Literally faint; my head swam.

No. No. No. No. This wasn’t happening. Jenner Weber? Judge Jenner Weber? The Honorable Jenner Weber? Dear God. Indiana Jones—virginity nabber.

“Thank you. You may be seated,” he announced and I sat or collapsed.

He hadn’t seen me yet. I watched waiting for his eyes to land on me.  My heart beat like the rattle of a snake. The folder he reviewed had to be the case we were here for.

“The court calls the case 17JC2091. May I have the appearances please?”

There it was. His eyes lifted to meet mine. A brief moment of hesitation. The last time his eyes were on me, his dick was inside of me. Ok…not quite, but close.

I stood, my knees trembling. “May it please the court, Lucy Edwards appearing for the State.”  I had no idea how those words came out.

His serious eyes shifted from me to the guardian ad litem with almost no appearance of recognition. It required effort to listen to her words. Then it was my turn again.

Jenner roughly cleared his throat. “Ms. Edwards, State’s position?”

Wobbly knees and all, I got to my feet again. “Yes, Your Honor. Um. Based off the state’s petition, we are requesting the newborn respondent be placed in the custody of the Department of Children and Families. Yesterday, the newborn tested positive for opiates and heroin, after delivery. The baby remains in the neonatal unit suffering from withdrawals. The mother, Heather Cook, admitted to using prior to going to the hospital to give birth. Clearly, Your Honor, the health, safety and welfare of this child are at risk. The State is requesting the child remain at the hospital in the temporary custody of the agency. Thank you.”

“Ms. Scheels?”

“Thank you, Judge. I concur with the state and would ask for a no-contact order with parents unless DCF can secure supervised visits at the hospital.”

Damn it. I should have thought of that. Jenner wrote something down and then his eyes moved to the parent’s attorney.

“Mr. Gibson?”

“Your Honor. Parents are not objecting to custody. However, they are opposed to supervised visits. They have not shown any indication of fleeing with the baby or any indication of putting the child at risk.”

I shot up out of my chair. “We object, Your Honor. They haven’t put the baby at risk? The mother used heroin prior to birth, drugging herself and her baby with a highly addictive drug. The baby is in the neonatal intensive care unit, Judge. The State would be opposed. If the parents can provide a negative urinalysis prior to the visit, then we would not be opposed.”

Jenner’s eyes bore into me, then quickly flitted back to the bench at the papers before him. As much as I should have been thinking about that baby, the only thing on my mind was the shock in my heart and the heat between my legs. So many things flashed through my mind. He knew my name. I knew his.

“Based on probable cause, the court is ruling in favor of the State. The child will immediately go into police-protective custody until DCF can get workers assigned. I’m ordering UA’s on the parents to begin prior to any supervised visit. This matter will be set for pre-trial on the next docket September 17. All parties are ordered to reappear. Is there anything further to come before the court at this time?”

“No, Your Honor,” I said softly, and all other parties stayed silent.

“Hearing nothing further, this matter is in recess,” Jenner gruffly spat out and stormed from the courtroom, file in hand.

“Wow, he seems even testier than normal,” Deb whispered.

Offering a nervous smile, I stacked my papers, not caring anymore about their organization. I’d organize and take notes of what happened when I returned to my office. When my brain could work again. I silently prayed my legs would get me there.

“Hey, Lucy. It wasn’t you. You did nothing wrong,” Deb said, sliding her file in her briefcase.

Oh my God. If she only knew. If she only knew?  If anyone knew! My breakfast from earlier churned in my stomach, threatening to come right back up.

“Lucy? You ok?”

“Yep. Just taking it all in. My first official court appearance.”

Free from the courtroom and finally in the hall, the air cooled my face as I walked.  My erratic breaths were starting to settle, but my brain synapses couldn’t keep up with the mile-a-minute activity snapping off. The second I got to my desk, I found my cell phone to see if there was something…anything… from Jenner. There wasn’t. Weber? So, he was related to Supreme Court Justice Weber… like United States Supreme Court Judge… Fuck me.

That night at home, I kept my phone by my side. Hoping. Waiting. Dreading. I started to text him fifteen times. I typed out long texts, shorts texts and finally, I settled for simple.

Jenner?

 

 

HI!! I am Kristi Pelton…wannabe author of fun, sexy romance books! I am married to a man who tolerates me carrying my computer everywhere with me (26 years) and i have two of the best sons in the world. They are 20 and 17 and watching them and their friends provides interesting writing material… 🙂 I love Mexican food…chips and queso are a staple in my life as well as Dr. P! You will find out when you read my books that i am a BIG Kansas Jayhawk fan, Oregon Duck fan and Chicago Cubs fan! I usually write about things i love! Please feel free to follow me on my author Facebook page, Instagram or Twitter! Now…sit back, have a glass of wine and pick up a good book! Cheers!

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