Review: Chasing Abby (#4, Shattered Hearts) by Cassia Leo

My Thoughts

Beautiful and heartfelt.
A must-read for fans of the Shattered Hearts series.

5stars

Synopsis

chasing-abby-by-cassia-leoFive years, six months, eight days….

It’s been eighteen years since Abigail was born with a hole in her heart. Five years since she collapsed on the soccer field. Five years, six months, eight days since she found out she was adopted.

Abby has spent five years wondering about the family she never knew and waiting for her eighteenth birthday. When Abby shows up on the doorstep of Chris and Claire Knight, her birth parents are overjoyed to see the little girl they lost eighteen years ago.

One summer is all they have to make up for the years they lost. But when opposing ideals collide, a summer of love soon turns into a summer of heartache.

My Review

I’ll be honest. I wasn’t sure if I needed to read this book. I loved the Shattered Hearts series deeply. I shed tears with those characters. Loved those characters. Felt their pain, their heartache, their love and their loss. I just wasn’t convinced I need another book. I know some of you feel the same. But I’m here to convince you to read it. Because if you’ve loved Chris and Claire’s story, this book—Abby’s story—is a must read. It fills a hole I didn’t realize I still had. Completes a story that was left unfinished. Now that I’ve read it, and shed more tears, and realized just how much I needed it, how much I loved it, I can’t imagine their story… their happily ever after without this final, wonderful, heart-wrenching piece. It may even be my favorite of the entire series. It’s that good. Abby’s story doesn’t only belong to her. It belongs to the Knights. To the Jensens. To Caleb (whom you’ll meet and fall in love with). And to so many others who shared in Claire and Chris’ heartache when their baby was given up for adoption. When amidst tears, and as their hearts broke all over again, they said goodbye to their first baby girl. Eighteen years later, Abby shows up at the Knights and everything changes once more.

“For eighteen years, I was the sickly, fragile daughter of Brian and Lynette Jensen. Now… I don’t know who I am.”

Abby grew up with a broken heart. Minutes old, she was rushed to surgery. Surgery after surgery and medication after medication, Abby lived her life muted in fear of damaging her heart permanently and dying. Her boyfriend Caleb was always at her side. He knew her like no other and together, they grew up and fell in love, deeper each day. We see the tense dynamic between Abby and her parents. It’s clear they love her, but their fear of losing their only daughter has consumed their every thought and action, curbing Abby’s freedom to the point of resentment. When Abby learns of her adoptive family, she decides to wait on reaching out. What would the experience of meeting her biological parents be like? Why would they give her up? How could they?

But one night her father’s words pierce deeper than intended, and she finds herself at the Knights door.

“Hope: The biggest four-letter word in the English language. It’s bigger than despair. Bigger than resentment. Bigger than skepticism. Four letters that, when combined, can hold a broken heart together for eighteen years.”

This story is expertly imparted through multiple point of views, buttressing the statement I made above… Abby’s story belongs to so many. Her life means so much to many people and we see their hearts react, their thoughts process, their actions speak as the story continues to unfold. I can tell you that from this point forward, my tears fell unabashedly as all the feelings from the other books flooded my senses. The story morphed into unadulterated, raw feeling. It was all emotion and I felt my heart balancing on a razor’s edge as the story continued to take turns I didn’t expect.

Abby’s inner turmoil struggles with who she is, who she wants to be, who her parents want her to be. Her sense of self is adrift, but somehow, with the Knights, she feels wanted and treasured and a certain freedom she needed so badly.

“When I’m with my biological parents, I don’t feel like the frail girl I was eight weeks ago. I’m different. I’m the girl who got away. The girl who was strong enough to capture my parents’ hearts in a single twenty-minute meeting and hold them captive for eighteen years.

That’s the girl I want to be. I don’t want to be fragile anymore.”

At one point, I can say I felt shocked and breathless and utterly heartbroken. This girl goes through so much, but the beautiful thing is that despite living a life full of questions and doubts and sickness and an incessant need to belong at a soul-deep kind of level, one fact remained clear. Abby was so loved. So wanted.

Her story is one of love and loss, forgiveness and acceptance, belonging and family, heartache and heart-fullness. It’s about second chances and surviving the impossible. It’s about feeling broken, but learning to fly. And it was beautiful. Beautifully penned, beautifully evocative, and beautifully concluded. Cassia Leo does an amazing job with this finale to Claire and Chris’ story as all the pieces of their happily ever after fit together finally and forever. It was simply wonderful and I loved every moment.

“You can be anything you want to be now. Chase your dreams, Abby.”

Reading Order and Links

Chasing Abby must be read after Relentless, Pieces of You and Bring Me Home.

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My Reviews: Relentless | Pieces of You | Bring Me Home

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About Cassia

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New York Times bestselling author Cassia Leo loves her coffee, chocolate, and margaritas with salt. When she’s not writing, she spends way too much time watching old reruns of Friends and Sex and the City. When she’s not watching reruns, she’s usually enjoying the California sunshine or reading.

She believes in true love and happy endings, and that the most palpable regrets come from watching those two things slip away. Her favorite books and movies are the ones that challenge her mentally and leave her emotionally scarred. Her family has declared her a “method writer” because she gets “in character” while writing. She believes becoming the character is the only way to truly understand him or her. Her dream is to one day score a record deal based on her awesome shower singing skills.

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Spotlight: The Firsts by R.K. Lilley

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When one of my favorite authors puts out a set of the first books in four awesome series, I get excited. Really excited! Because that means that people who are new to her books have the chance to get as addicted as I’ve become to her stories, to her characters, to her brand of sexy romance. For one week only, the first books in four of her series are available for $2.99! This includes: In Flight (erotic romance), Bad Things (erotic, emotional romance), Breathing Fire (paranormal romance) and The Wild Side (erotic romantic supsense). $2.99… that’s the price of the R.K. Lilley addiction and you won’t be sorry once you start to devour these books!

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Order The Firsts now ✦

Below, you can read the synopsis of each book included in this , as well as read through my available reviews.  Make sure you enter the giveaway at the bottom of the post, too!

IN FLIGHT COVER

Synopsis

When reserved flight attendant Bianca gets one look at billionaire hotel owner James Cavendish, she loses all of her hard-won composure. For a girl who can easily juggle a tray of champagne flutes at 35,000 feet in three inch heels, she finds herself shockingly weak-kneed from their first encounter. The normally unruffled Bianca can’t seem to look away from his electrifying turquoise gaze. They hold a challenge, and a promise, that she finds impossible to resist, and she is a girl who is used to saying no and meaning it.

Bianca is accustomed to dealing with supermodels and movie stars in her job as a first class flight attendant, but James Cavendish puts them all to shame in the looks department. If only it were just his looks that she found so irresistible about the intimidating man, Bianca could have ignored his attentions. But what tempts her like never before is the dominant pull he seems to have over her from the moment they meet, and the promise of pleasure, and pain, that she reads in his eyes.

Reading Order

IN FLIGHT COVER IN FLIGHT COVER IN FLIGHT COVER IN FLIGHT COVER

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Synopsis

Danika hasn’t had an easy life. Being insanely attracted to bad boys has never helped make it easier.

One look at Tristan, and every brain cell she possessed went up in smoke. This man was trouble with a capital T. It was a given.
She knew better. Bad boys were bad. Especially for her. Considering her history, it was crazy to think otherwise. So why did crazy have to feel so damn fine?

For as long as she could remember, Danika had been focused on the future with single-minded purpose. Tristan came along and taught her everything there was to know about letting go, and living in the present. She fell, hard and deep. Of course, that only made her impact with the ground that much more devastating.

Bad Things is about Tristan and Danika, and their train wreck of a love story. This series can be read as a standalone, or with the Up in the Air series.

Reading Order

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My Reviews: Bad Things | Rock Bottom | Lovely Trigger

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Synopsis

Sometimes a head start has a price…
Jillian and her sister have been on the run for longer than either will ever admit to (a lady never tells her age) but sometimes even the most dedicated fugitives have to stop running, and start fighting.
I was already having the day from hell when two angry druids stormed into my shop. Druids in my shop was bad. Very bad. Their presence in my place of business was a disaster no matter how you looked at it, but the fact that I knew these two druids in particular was an outright catastrophe. The fact that they happened to hate my guts certainly wasn’t going to help matters, though it was hardly surprising. Even druids who didn’t know me cursed at the sound of my name…

Reading Order

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Synopsis

ARE YOU READY TO TAKE A WALK?

Alasdair Masters is in a rut.  He just hit forty, has been nearly celibate for the past year, and his life has turned into a daily sequence of lonely patterns that revolve around avoiding human contact.

His tidy life is turned on its head when a hot young blonde at the gym that’s been pseudo-stalking him decides to rock his world.  A very young blonde.  Way, way too young for him.  The problem is, he can’t seem to tell her no, and she just keeps coming back for more.

It doesn’t help that he’s ninety percent sure she’s a criminal, and still, he can’t seem to turn her down.  What is a dull introvert to do when a chaotic cyclone that oozes sexuality comes twisting into his life?

At first, he thinks she’ll give him a heart attack, but after his twenty-year marriage ended a year ago, he’s been a little lost, and when she comes crashing into his life, he realizes that he’s never felt more alive.

Is a walk on the wild side just what he needs to get his on track or a disaster in the making?  Is it possible for someone that much younger to be just what he needs, or is she a fortune hunter, as everyone keeps telling him?  Is it his hormones telling him that the mysterious younger woman is the one, or could it be more?

Reading Order

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My Reviews: The Wild Side | Iris | Dair

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About R.K.

R.K. Lilley lives in Colorado with her husband and their two beautiful sons. She’s had a lot of interesting jobs, from being a first class flight attendant, to being a stablehand, but swears she never knew what hard work was until she had children. She’s been addicted to both reading and writing fiction since she can remember. She loves to travel, read, hike, paint, game, watch anime, and make the most of every single day. She is the author of the erotic romance novels In Flight, Mile High, Grounded, and the novella, Lana.

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VBB Weekly – 09.29.2014

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Highlights

Jennifer L. Armentrout Takeover Q&A Event – I’m so excited to host one of my favorite authors on the blog this week! On Thursday, Jennifer will be answering your questions on her newest release, Stay With me, as well as any of her upcoming releases. Make sure to join her by visiting the Vilma’s Book Blog facebook page at 6:00 p.m. CST / 7:00 p.m. CST.

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Spotlight Recommendations – Each week, I’ll showcase a particular recommendations list, and this week, it’s Emotional Powerhouses, one my very favorite categories. These are the books that break out hearts… that move us to tears… and then slowly put us back together again with a happily ever after that is entirely unforgettable. Check out my recommended list of Emotional Powerhouses here.

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New Recommendations List – As we move into October, it’s so much fun to highlight paranormal, supernatural and horror books. This list gathers some titles that are sure to evoke goosebumps. They get your pulse racing, your heart pounding and your anticipation climbing as you  experience reading these fantastically creepy novels! Check out my recommended list of Creeptastic Reads here.

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Tied Exclusive Excerpt – If you’re a fan of Drew and Kate and their laugh-out-loud life, you’ll want to pick up Tied, the next installment from Emma Chase that chronicles their walk down the aisle! I’m thrilled to be able to share this never-before-seen excerpt with you!

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Chasing Abby Exclusive Excerpt – I just finished Chasing Abby and wow… I loved it! It packs so much emotion and if you’re a fan of the Shattered Hearts series, this latest novel from Cassia Leo is a must! Read the exclusive excerpt and enter to win a signed paperback!

Chasing-Abby

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New Releases

(Click cover to order)

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Releasing This Week

closer to the edgeLocke (#5, Corps Security) by Harper Sloan (Available Now)

Darkness is the only thing I see. Ever since the day my life changed. The day that everything and everyone I held close to me ceased to exist. The day I lost it all and the demons of my past consumed my every waking moment.

I tried to keep others at arm’s length. Tried not to let my darkness taint them. Ruin them. Harm them. And whether I want to admit it or not, as much as I wish I could keep them locked out, they refuse to leave. Refuse to let me suffer alone.

If I hadn’t been so focused on keeping those demons from flying free, I wouldn’t have missed how one perfect angel was able to sneak her way under my skin—refusing to let go. Making me want things I don’t deserve.

She consumes me. Her beauty knows no end. The love she promises tempts me every time she’s near. But that pure heart that makes her MY Emmy is the one thing I’m convinced I’ll destroy if I ever let her close.

I’m a broken man. A broken man with too much darkness in his soul to ever let her light shine upon me. But even that doesn’t stop me from craving her with every single breath in my body.

Reading Order: Axel | Cage | Beck | Uncaged (novella) | Cooper | Locke

the rental coverStepbrother Dearest by Penelope Ward (Available Now)

You’re not supposed to want the one who torments you.

When my stepbrother, Elec, came to live with us my senior year, I wasn’t prepared for how much of a jerk he’d be.

I hated that he took it out on me because he didn’t want to be here.
I hated that he brought girls from our high school back to his room.
But what I hated the most was the unwanted way my body reacted to him.

At first, I thought all he had going for him were his rock-hard tattooed abs and chiseled face. But things started changing between us, and it all came to a head one night.

Then, just as quickly as he’d come into my life, he was gone back to California.

It had been years since I’d seen Elec.

When tragedy struck our family, I’d have to face him again.

And holy hell, the teenager who made me crazy was now a man that drove me insane.

I had a feeling my heart was about to get broken again.

Stepbrother Dearest is a standalone novel.

the rental coverThe Wanted Short Stories by Kelly Elliott (Available Now)

The story that was never told…

Three short stories based off the best selling novels, Wanted, Saved, and Faithful by Kelly Elliott.

Step into the future to get a glimpse of some of your favorite characters from the Wanted Series. Take a journey with Gunner and Ellie, Jeff and Ari, and Josh and Heather as they learn to love continues to make them feel wanted, saved, and forever faithful.

the rental coverFilthy Beautiful Love by Kendall Ryan (Available Now)

This is book 2 in the Filthy Beautiful Lies series.

I never expected to watch Sophie walk away. She was mine. I would own her. She just didn’t know it yet. New goal: Seal the deal and rock her world so thoroughly she never wanted to leave again.

Highly sexual and emotionally charged, Filthy Beautiful Love is the provocative conclusion to Filthy Beautiful Lies.

Reading Order: Filthy Beautiful Lies | Filthy Beautiful Love

the rental coverTorture To Her Soul (#2, Monster in His Eyes) by JM Darhower (Available Now)

Don’t say it unless you mean it…

It’s a simple concept, one I’ve said time and again, but something people don’t seem to comprehend. You should choose every syllable carefully, because you never know when somebody will hold you to your word.

Somebody like me.

I’m not a good man. I’m not. I know. I have enough darkness inside of me to rid the world of every stitch of light. But there’s one I could never harm, one light I couldn’t bring myself to snuff out.

Karissa.

She thinks I’m a monster, and maybe I am. I taunt her with my touch, get a thrill out of torturing her soul. But I’m not the only one. The world is full of monsters, and I’m not the most dangerous one out there.

Not even close…

God help me, I love her.

I do.

And God help anyone who tries to take her from me.

Reading OrderMonster in his Eyes (Review) | Torture to her Soul

chasing-abby-by-cassia-leoChasing Abby by Cassia Leo (AVAILABLE NOW)
✩ VBB Favorite ✩

The heart-stopping conclusion to the New York Times and USA Today best selling series.

Five years, six months, eight days….

It’s been eighteen years since Abigail was born with a hole in her heart. Five years since she collapsed on the soccer field. Five years, six months, eight days since she found out she was adopted.

Abby has spent five years wondering about the family she never knew and waiting for her eighteenth birthday. When Abby shows up on the doorstep of Chris and Claire Knight, her birth parents are overjoyed to see the little girl they lost eighteen years ago.

One summer is all they have to make up for the years they lost. But a summer of love soon turns into a summer of heartache.

This book is a continuation of the Shattered Hearts series, which should be read in order, specifically Relentless, Pieces of You and Bring Me Home.

Reading Order: Forever Ours (prequel) | Relentless | Pieces of You | Bring Me Home | AbandonChasing Abby | Ripped

dylan coverDylan (#3, From the Inside Out) by S.L. Scott (AVAILABLE NOW)
✩ VBB Favorite ✩ 

Four years ago, I was tempted with money, prestige, and power by a woman who offered to give me the world. That lifestyle came with a price. I had to leave the love of my life—the one person who had already given me everything I would ever need.

Today I watch Jules Weston in another man’s arms. Wanting… needing her back in my life again. But there are obstacles that keep us apart. Her boyfriend. Her best friend. Her anger that has raged inside her over the years.

Despite those, I’ve returned to take back what’s mine. The one thing I regret leaving behind—her heart.

 austin coverAustin (#4, From the Inside Out) by S.L. Scott (AVAILABLE NOW) 

Ever since that fateful day, I became an expert at avoidance.

Avoiding attachments. Avoiding relationships. Avoiding love.

My company became my constant, the only companion I needed… until a chance encounter with Jules Weston. I met her at a most vulnerable moment. Despite the tears that streaked her face, I fell in love the first time I ever laid eyes on her. I needed her in my life.

She was broken, but I knew I could heal her. I would wait until she let me into her heart, allowing me to love her. And maybe, just maybe, one day she could heal me too.

Scorned and Jealousy of the From the Inside Out series should be read before Austin or Dylan. Austin and Dylan: One woman. Two endings. You decide who you want to read or read both.

Reading Order: Scorned (Review) (FREE) | Jealousy (Review) ($0.99) | Dylan (Review) ($0.99) | Austin (Review($0.99)

chasing-abby-by-cassia-leoLove Nouveau by BL Berry (AVAILABLE NOW) 

The only thing inevitable in love is despair.

I knew from the start that he would wreck me.
Nothing could have prepared me for the day he walked into my life …
or the day he walked out of it.

I self-destructed.

All that remained was a shell of the girl I once was.
SHATTERED.

And I don’t know if I’ll ever recover.

This is a standalone book.

chasing-abby-by-cassia-leoFacade (#1, Deception) by DH Sidebottom (AVAILABLE NOW) 

You meet someone. You date. You fall in love. You marry.
The four simple rules of love….
Wrong! I’m getting married but I’d never met him before now, never dated him, never fell in love. I have no access to the memories of the most magical time of anyone’s life.
My mind won’t allow me to evoke the past, I can’t remember those simple stages to lead me to the fourth .

I can’t comprehend why I would have ever wanted to marry someone like Dante. I should never have passed the first stage, although, I may have seen him through the eyes of the woman I once was, this me that lives, breathes here now, can’t understand how we made it to the next stage.
I’m not sure, without memories, how I know that this voice inside me, telling me I would never have chosen him, speaks some truth, I just know. He’s controlling, arrogant, callous and violent, and utterly hell bent on humiliating and degrading me – Like watching me falter, watching me struggle to comply and be the woman he asked to marry, powers him- as though he wants to break me piece by piece. Fiber by fiber. Until all that’s here is the shell he created from a soul that I once owned.

Now my memories are slowly returning. And they show me a completely different side to meeting him. Our dates, falling in love. The Dante haunting me in the shadows of my mind is loving, gentle and utterly enamored with me, nothing like the man with me now.
And this is what taunts me. My tender lover turned into a debauched, cruel sadist who is determined to consume my life, destroy my mind and murder my spirit.

I am, Star, and just like with some stars in the sky, the light you see is an echo, a façade, I am already gone
I am a no one.
Especially to him. To him I am the dark in his desires, the corrupt in his depravity.
The sin in his immorality.

Note from author: WARNING! This book is dark erotica and contains situations that some may find offensive. If you are sensitive to graphic violence read with caution. This book also leads into a second book. You will get answers but the story will continue into a final installment. 

chasing-abby-by-cassia-leoThe Sinners Bargain (#2, Contracts and Deceptions) by Claire Contreras (AVAILABLE NOW) 

While trying to rid herself of one debt, Amara is forced into a new one with a man she thought she left behind. When she finds herself unable to shake him off at every turn, she begins to question if the person who once brought her safety is the one she should now be running from.

This is the second and final book in the series.

Reading Order: The Devil’s ContractThe Sinners Bargain

chasing-abby-by-cassia-leoBeneath this Mask by Meghan March (AVAILABLE NOW) 

My name is Charlotte Agoston, and I’m a runner. Not the ‘let’s go for a jog and slap a 26.2 sticker on your bumper’ kind of runner; I’m the kind of runner who takes off when her father is staring down the barrel of a guilty verdict that carries a 175-year sentence for perpetrating the largest fraud in the history of the world. That’s right. Bernie Madoff was an amateur compared to Alistair Agoston.

Faced with living under a cloud of suspicion and constant questioning by the FBI, I ran. I’m making a new life in New Orleans as Charlie Stone. I traded my future in New York high finance for tattoos, booze, a few friends who don’t ask questions, and one giant mutt named Huckleberry Finn. Everything is simple and uncomplicated until Simon Duchesne—former hotshot Navy fighter pilot, NOLA’s favorite son, city councilman, and rumored congressional hopeful—walks into my life.

The flashing cameras he attracts threaten to expose everything I’m hiding, but I can’t seem to stay away. Why are the most dangerous ideas always the most seductive?

In trying to get lost, I found myself. And then I found Simon. He loves me, and he doesn’t even know my real name. I’m going to break his heart, but mine will shatter right along with it. This is our story.

Will we be strong enough to face the consequences of revealing what’s beneath this mask?

stay with me coverAs Long As You Love Me (#2, 2B Trilogy) by Ann Aguirre (Sep 30)

Most people dream about getting out of Sharon, Nebraska, but after three years away, Lauren Barrett is coming home. There are the justifications she gives to everyone else—missing her family, losing her college scholarship. And then there’s the reason Lauren can’t admit to anyone: Rob Conrad, her best friend’s older brother.

Football prowess and jaw-dropping good looks made Rob a star in high school. Out in the real world, his job and his relationships are going nowhere. He can’t pinpoint exactly what’s missing until Lauren comes back to town, bringing old feelings and new dreams with her. But he’s the guy that women love and leave—not the one who makes them think of forever.

Though she’s terrified of opening up, Lauren’s ready to take that chance. Because the only thing more important than figuring out where you truly belong is finding the person you were meant to be with.

This book is part of the trilogy, but can be read as a standalone novel.

Reading Order: I Want It That Way (Review) | As Long As You Love Me | The Shape Of My Heart

the firstsThe Firsts by R.K. Lilley (Sep 30)

This is a limited time boxed set of the first books in all of R.K. Lilley’s series. This set will only be available for one week, and is a savings of almost $12 from the current books’ totaled prices.

In Flight (Up in the Air #1)
When reserved flight attendant Bianca gets one look at billionaire hotel owner James Cavendish, she loses all of her hard-won composure. For a girl who can easily juggle a tray of champagne flutes at 35,000 feet in three inch heels, she finds herself shockingly weak-kneed from their first encounter. The normally unruffled Bianca can’t seem to look away from his electrifying turquoise gaze. They hold a challenge, and a promise, that she finds impossible to resist, and she is a girl who is used to saying no and meaning it.
Bianca is accustomed to dealing with supermodels and movie stars in her job as a first class flight attendant, but James Cavendish puts them all to shame in the looks department. If only it were just his looks that she found so irresistible about the intimidating man, Bianca could have ignored his attentions. But what tempts her like never before is the dominant pull he seems to have over her from the moment they meet, and the promise of pleasure, and pain, that she reads in his eyes.
This book is intended for ages 18 and up.

Bad Things (Tristan & Danika #1)
Danika hasn’t had an easy life. Being insanely attracted to bad boys has never helped make it easier.
One look at Tristan, and every brain cell she possessed went up in smoke. This man was trouble with a capital T. It was a given.
She knew better. Bad boys were bad. Especially for her. Considering her history, it was crazy to think otherwise. So why did crazy have to feel so damn fine?
For as long as she could remember, Danika had been focused on the future with single-minded purpose. Tristan came along and taught her everything there was to know about letting go, and living in the present. She fell, hard and deep. Of course, that only made her impact with the ground that much more devastating.
Bad Things is about Tristan and Danika, and their train wreck of a love story. This series can be read as a standalone, or with the Up in the Air series.

The Wild Side (The Wild Side #1)
Are you ready to take a walk? Alasdair Masters is in a rut. He just hit forty, has been nearly celibate for the past year, and his life has turned into a daily sequence of lonely patterns that revolve around avoiding human contact.
His tidy life is turned on its head when a hot young blonde at the gym that’s been pseudo-stalking him decides to rock his world. A very young blonde. Way, way too young for him. The problem is, he can’t seem to tell her no, and she just keeps coming back for more.
It doesn’t help that he’s ninety percent sure she’s a criminal, and still, he can’t seem to turn her down. What is a dull introvert to do when a chaotic cyclone that oozes sexuality comes twisting into his life?
At first, he thinks she’ll give him a heart attack, but after his twenty-year marriage ended a year ago, he’s been a little lost, and when she comes crashing into his life, he realizes that he’s never felt more alive.

Breathing Fire (Heretic Daughters #1)
Every head start has a price…
Seven years ago, Jillian burned just about every bridge she ever had. Being a lifelong fugitive, she’d seen it as her only chance to get away clean, but it had taken its toll.
In a world where those with supernatural powers must stay hidden from normal society, being a creature that even most of the supernatural community considered a myth did not make for an easy life. And when the ex she ran away from finds her again, it’s about to get much harder. It doesn’t help that she’s still hopelessly in love with him…

stay with me coverAll Things Pretty (#3, Pretty) by M. Leighton (Sep 30)

Pretending to be something they’re not, afraid to trust anyone completely, destined to tear each other apart– this is the story of unlikely love and unbearable consequences.

Sig Locke is a cop. He was raised by a cop and all his brothers are cops. He bleeds blue, believes in right and wrong, and sees in black and white, never in shades of gray.

But that was before he met Tommi.

Tommi, with her long legs and bright green eyes, she captured Sig’s interest from the moment he saw her. Even after he discovered who she was–the girlfriend of a drug dealer, the beauty behind a criminal–he still found her utterly irresistible. What Sig doesn’t know, however, is that she has a secret even a cop can’t uncover.

Tommi Lawrence hasn’t had an easy life, and it only got more complicated the day she met Sig. She learned long ago that she can’t trust anyone. Her gut tells her that Sig is no exception, her heart tells her that he is. But that was before she found out his real identity.

Can love be forged in a fire of lies? Or will the truth destroy them both?

Reading Order: All The Pretty Lies ($0.99) (Review) | All The Pretty Poses ($1.99)| All Things Pretty

stay with me coverThe Resolution of Callie and Kayden (#6, The Coincidence) by Jessica Sorensen (Sep 30)

Things are going good for Callie and Kayden. They’re still dealing with their past and the pain connected to it, but for the most part they’ve moved on. The biggest decision they have at the moment is what they want to do with their lives in the future.

Eventually, though, the past catches up with them and it leaves them with a choice no one wants to make. But Callie and Kayden learn that as long as they have each other, they can make it through just about anything. And in the end, they discover what they really want out of life. Can love be forged in a fire of lies? Or will the truth destroy them both?

Reading Order: The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden | The Redemption of Callie and Kayden | The Destiny of Violet and Luke | The Probability of Violet and Luke  ($0.99) | The Certainty of Violet and LukeThe Resolution of Callie and Kayden | Unbeautiful | Seth and Grayson

stay with me coverRock Courtship (#2, Rock Kiss) by Nalini Singh (Sep 30)

Things are going good for Callie and Kayden. They’re still dealing with their past and the pain connected to it, but for the most part they’ve moved on. The biggest decision they have at the moment is what they want to do with their lives in the future.

Eventually, though, the past catches up with them and it leaves them with a choice no one wants to make. But Callie and Kayden learn that as long as they have each other, they can make it through just about anything. And in the end, they discover what they really want out of life. Can love be forged in a fire of lies? Or will the truth destroy them both?

Reading Order: Rock Addiction | Rock Courtship

stay with me coverHe’s So Fine (#11, Lucky Harbor) by Jill Shalvis (Sep 30)

For Olivia Bentley, Lucky Harbor is more than the town where she runs her new vintage shop. It’s the place where folks are friendly to strangers-and nobody knows her real name. Olivia does a good job of keeping her past buried, not getting too cozy with anyone . . . until she sees a man drowning. Suddenly she’s rushing into the surf, getting up close and personal with the hottest guy she’s ever laid hands on.

Charter boat captain Cole Donovan has no problem with a gorgeous woman throwing her arms around his neck in an effort to “save” him. In fact, he’d like to spend a lot more time skin-to-skin with Olivia. He’s just not expecting that real trouble is about to come her way. Will it bring her deeper into Cole’s heart, or will it be the end of Olivia’s days in little Lucky Harbor?

Each book can be read as a standalone. Click here for reading order.

stay with me coverThe Perfect Witness by Iris Johansen (Sep 30)

She had the perfect life.
She had the perfect cover.
She was the perfect witness.
Until they found her.

When Teresa Casali was young she discovered she had a strange gift:  the ability to read people’s memories.  But the gift seemed more like a curse as her mob boss father used her to gain the upper hand in his world of corruption and violence.  Exposed by her own family to the darkest impulses of mankind, Teresa is alone and unprotected.  She realizes that if she is to survive, she has to run.

Out of nowhere, or so she believes, a man by the name of Andre Mandak appears. He kills her pursuers—but that’s not nearly enough for Teresa to trust him. It is his promise to get her into Witness Protection, along with his mind-blowing ability to help her control her gift before it consumes her, that convinces Teresa Casali to become Allie Girard. Living a normal life with a new family, she shuts the door to the past …although Mandak is clear: when the time is right, he too will benefit from her powers.

For years Allie flourishes …until the day her cover is blown and the truth comes tumbling out.  Once again she is on the run, with her own life and those of her loved ones at stake.  But this time she will not be a pawn.  This time she will use her finely honed gift to end the threat that began with her family’s betrayal. From perfect target to perfect witness, Allie Girard is ready to take on the past even if it kills her.

This is a standalone novel.

stay with me coverThe Last Breath by Kimberly Belle (Sep 30)

From a remarkable new voice in suspenseful women’s fiction comes an emotionally searing drama about a woman who risks her life to discover the devastating truth about her family…

Humanitarian aid worker Gia Andrews chases disasters around the globe for a living. It’s the perfect lifestyle to keep her far away from her own personal ground zero. Sixteen years ago, Gia’s father was imprisoned for brutally killing her stepmother. Now he’s come home to die of cancer, and she’s responsible for his care—and coming to terms with his guilt.

Gia reluctantly resumes the role of daughter to the town’s most infamous murderer, a part complete with protesters on the lawn and death threats that are turning tragedy into front-page news. Returning to life in small-town Tennessee involves rebuilding relationships that distance and turmoil have strained, though finding an emotional anchor in the attractive hometown bartender is certainly helping Gia cope.

As the past unravels before her, Gia will find herself torn between the stories that her family, their friends and neighbors, and even her long-departed stepmother have believed to be real all these years. But in the end, the truth—and all the lies that came before—may have deadlier consequences than she could have ever anticipated…

This is a standalone novel.

tattoos and tatas coverTattoos and Tatas (#2.5, Chocoholics) by Tara Sivec (Oct 1)
✩ VBB Favorite ✩

During the month of October, 100% of the proceeds from Tattoos and Tatas will be donated to breast cancer awareness.

Claire and Liz have always had a friendship that defied the test of time, but when one of them is diagnosed with a disease that every woman fears, their bond is put through the wringer. How do you cope knowing your soul mate could be taken from you?

Filled with memories of their life long friendship, inappropriate behavior, bad tattoos and shaving cats, the two friends will realize that laughter really is the best medicine.

Tattoos and TaTas is not your typical love story; it’s a story of friendship and learning how to let go when something is beyond your control.

Reading OrderLove and Lists (Review) | Passion and PoniesTattoos and Tatas

what if coverDeception by K.A. Robinson (Oct 03)

This isn’t your typical love story. Things are messy. Characters aren’t always what they appear to be. Wrong decisions are made. If you’re not a fan of the darker side of love, this might not be the book for you. Read at your own risk.

I’m strong—or at least, I want to be. I try to be. Oh, how I’ve tried.
But life screwed me over. When I was at my weakest and lowest, desperate and alone, he found me.
Robert changed everything. He gave me everything.
He was every woman’s dream—rich, powerful, and charming. He made me forget the fact that he’s twenty-four years my senior.
He made me feel alive, and for the first time in my life, I was content.
Until I met Cooper—his son.
And Robert? He began to change.
I’m despicable. I know I am. I’m ashamed of what I want.

Things are never what they seem.

Greed.
Lust.
Lies.
Murder.

Deception.

This is book 1 in the Deception series.

Every Time I Think of You coverBecoming Calder (#1, Sign of Love) by Mia Sheridan (Oct 05)
✩ VBB Favorite ✩

There is a place in modern day America with no electricity, no plumbing, and no modern conveniences. In this place, there is no room for dreams, no space for self-expression, and no tolerance for ambition.

In this place, there is a boy with the body of a God and the heart of a warrior. He is strong and faithful and serves his family honorably. But he dares to dream of more.

Every Time I Think of You coverIn this place, there is a girl with the face of an angel and a heart full of courage. To her family, she is the vision of obedient perfection. But she dares to want that which she has been told can never be hers.

Becoming Calder is the story of good versus evil, fear versus bravery, and the truth that the light of love has always found its way into even the darkest of places… From the beginning of time, to the end of the world.

This is a two part new adult romance series, Sign of Love, inspired by Aquarius. Both parts release on the same day. 

Pre-Orders

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Oct-21

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Must Reads of the Week

Becoming Calder and Finding Eden by Mia Sheridan

Every Time I Think of You cover Every Time I Think of You cover

Ohthesebooks!!! I loved them so much. The more the story unfurled, the more invested I became with the characters, the more epic their romance seemed to be. This is a story about two people who grow up in a unique community, isolated from modern-day society, conventions and amenities. A place where one man’s dictate rules above all else, and destiny is outlined for you, prohibiting dreams beyond the role you were given. This is a story about a love so forbidden, but a love that would not be stopped. It’s gut wrenching and heartbreaking and beautiful and hopeful and suspenseful and so many other things. I never expected to feel so much and take so much from this story, which left me with a major book hangover! Stay tuned for my 6-star review this week, but in the meanwhile, I highly recommend you pre-order Becoming Calder. Finding Eden is not yet available for pre-order, but will be out on the same day.

My reading group, the VBB Vixens, are hosting a chat with Mia Sheridan the week of October 13th. Stay tuned for more details.

★ Fore more VBB Book Recommendations, click here ★

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Related Reads:

Exclusive Cover Reveal + Excerpt + Giveaway: Zane and Braydon (Alluring Indulgence) by Nicole Edwards

zane cover

Holy. Freaking. Hotness… this cover is all kinds of hot, as are the pages inside of this second book of the Alluring Indulgence erotic romance series by Nicole Edwards. These much loved books are getting a facelift. Pocket Star will now be publishing the series and on October 6th the first four titles (Kaleb, Zane, Travis and Ethan) are being re-released! I’m thrilled to be able to exclusively share the first look at the superhot cover of Zane!

Please note that this series is for readers age 18 and older.

Synopsis – Zane

Vanessa Carmichael will never forget that horrible day for as long as she lives. With Zane fully on the mend from the brutal attack he suffered right in her very own yard, she knows she should be grateful, which she is. She also knows that walking away from Zane might be the only way to keep him safe. Despite her denial, V knows she can’t trust her own heart, especially when it comes to the youngest Walker brother, but he’s not the kind of man who will walk away when there is something he wants. He wants her even if it isn’t safe for him, and she’s not sure she is strong enough to walk away.

Zane Walker might have been brutally attacked and after months in the hospital, walked away with his life spared, but now that he’s out of the hospital, he has only one goal in mind. Getting the girl. From the first time he kissed her, Zane knew V was the one for him. He also knew that getting her wasn’t going to be as easy as he hoped. She’s stubborn and the walls she has erected around her heart are nearly impenetrable. However, there’s one thing about Zane – he never gives up. And he’s not about to start now.

Can V learn to open her heart to the one man who is desperate to get past those walls she has erected, or will she walk away to protect him? How long will Zane allow her to deny what he knows is growing between them? Or is the only option to obscure the underlying emotions with spine tingling lust?

When V and Zane come together, smoke detectors go on the fritz, but when they bring Zane’s best friend Beau into the mix, extra fire extinguishers are needed.

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AND!!!!…. to whet your appetite for the next super sexy installment in the series, Braydon, I have a never-before-seen excerpt below! Braydon will be out November 24th! Pre-order here.

Synopsis – Braydon

Braydon Walker has always shared everything with his identical twin brother Brendon—hopes, dreams, career choices, and yes, even women. Known for tag-teaming their love interests in every way imaginable, Braydon is surprised and unnerved when he finds himself wanting to keep their newest lover all to himself. Will the twins’ relationship evolve to fit this new mold, or will Braydon’s desire for independence tear them apart?

Excerpt

“How’s your headache?” she asked as she looked up into his face.

“Miraculously, it’s gone.”

Jessie smiled despite herself. It was hard not to smile when he was around.

“Oh well,” she replied, pretending to look disappointed.

“What’s that look for?”

“I guess I don’t need to try out my other cure for a headache if you’re all better.”

“Hold up,” Braydon said, followed by an exaggerated moan. “I feel it coming back. What’d you have in mind?”

Jessie loved Braydon’s playful side. “It consists of a soak in a hot bath.”

“With or without company?” he asked, a smirk on his mouth.

“I think in this case, I should be there to keep an eye on you,” she answered smoothly. “But if you don’t think it’s necessary, we could watch a movie or something.”

“Oh, it’s necessary,” he replied, leaning in and pressing his lips to hers while his hands travelled up the backs of her thighs beneath her skirt. “Definitely necessary.”

Reading Order and Links

Kaleb | Zane | Travis | Holidays with the Walkers | Ethan | Braydon | Sawyer | Brendon

Swoonworthy Book Blog also revealed the new re-design of Travis, see below!

travis

About Nicole Edwards

Nicole lives in Central Texas with her husband, kids and her two dogs. Although she has been writing since a very young age, she has recently ventured into the full time world of writing and is loving every second of it.

She is the author of the Club Destiny and Alluring Indulgence series and working on more projects at this time.

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Exclusive Excerpt + Signed Giveaway: Chasing Abby by Cassia Leo

Chasing-Abby

I have loved the Shattered Hearts series dearly. There’s an emotional gravity to it, a realness that seeped into my heart early on and entrenched itself deeply as I continued reading more of the story. Now, we finally get to know Abby’s story… Chris and Claire’s daughter… the baby they gave up so long ago. I just finished the book this morning and it was so beautiful… so heartfelt… an emotional story of acceptance, forgiveness, love and loss. It’s a must-read for fans of the Shattered Hearts series. I’m honored to share an excerpt from Chasing Abby, which is now available.

Get Chasing Abby: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes ✦

Synopsis

chasing-abby-by-cassia-leoThe heart-stopping conclusion to the New York Times and USA Today best selling series.

Five years, six months, eight days….

It’s been eighteen years since Abigail was born with a hole in her heart. Five years since she collapsed on the soccer field. Five years, six months, eight days since she found out she was adopted.

Abby has spent five years wondering about the family she never knew and waiting for her eighteenth birthday. When Abby shows up on the doorstep of Chris and Claire Knight, her birth parents are overjoyed to see the little girl they lost eighteen years ago.

One summer is all they have to make up for the years they lost. But a summer of love soon turns into a summer of heartache.

Chapter Nine

abby

Two months after

I KNOW THAT, technically, I’m doing nothing wrong. I’m an adult. I have the right to decide where I want to spend the night. But lying to my parents always makes me anxious. Still, I don’t think it’s the lie that’s got me so worked up. I’m afraid to spend the night with Caleb.

I shouldn’t be afraid of spending the night with him. We’re not going to have sex. At least, I don’t think we are.

“So Amy is going to keep her ringer on all night in case they call, right?” Caleb asks as we drive toward the apartment he shares with his roommate, Greg Lawson.

I’ve hung out with Greg plenty of times and he’s agreed to spend the night at his girlfriend’s house to give us some privacy. But I can’t help but feel weird about this whole thing. Even knowing that this will be our apartment soon.

Greg graduated from UNC Chapel Hill two years ago. He was the only person Caleb found who was willing to take a chance on a seventeen-year-old roommate after Caleb’s dad died last year. Caleb absolutely did not want to get placed in foster care at his age. He asked for more hours at the tire shop where he works to bring in some more cash, and he’s been living with Greg ever since. Until Greg gets married and moves out in July. Then, Caleb and I have agreed we’ll take over the lease.

Caleb and I are going to live together.

It feels surreal as he turns left off Stanhope, into College Crest. College Crest is a neighborhood just east of NC State and Meredith College, mostly inhabited by college-age residents. Greg took over the lease on this apartment when his friend from NC State moved to Seattle after graduation. Two years on, and now Caleb and I will be assuming the lease. It’s hard to find a vacant apartment in College Crest.

“Yes, Amy is going to keep her phone on and she’s going to answer,” I reply, sliding my right hand between the seat and the passenger door to hide it as I wiggle my fingers. I run the fingers of my left hand through my hair to disguise the same action. I don’t want Caleb to know how terrified I am right now.

He reaches across and grabs my hand out of my hair as he turns into the parking lot on Stanhope. “Are you panicking?”

He rubs his thumb over the top of my hand and I close my eyes as I draw in a large breath.

“A little.”

He pulls his car into an empty space near the back of the lot, but he doesn’t turn off the engine. “We don’t have to do this. I’ll take you home right now and you can decide what you want to do later… Or now. You can tell me right now if you don’t want to live here. I’ll find another roommate… Or I’ll give you this apartment and find another place.”

“Caleb, stop. We’ve discussed this. I’m not taking this apartment without you, and I’m not going to try to find another roommate. No one else will understand me the way you do.” I look down at his hand in mine and smile. “I’m going to live with you. Nothing else makes sense.” I look up and he’s not smiling. “But that doesn’t mean I’m not really nervous about tonight.”

“Abby, you don’t have to be nervous. I’ll sleep in Greg’s room and you can sleep in mine. It will be like sleeping in your own bed, only it’ll smell much better.”

I shake my head as I reach for the door handle. “You always know what to say to make me feel so much better.”

We enter the apartment and, after he drops my backpack on top of the kitchen table, Caleb heads straight for the refrigerator. “I stocked up on Cheerwine for you,” he calls to me as I take a seat on the navy-blue sofa where Caleb and I have made out a thousand times.

He comes out of the kitchen with a can of Cheerwine, my favorite cherry soda, and a bottle of drinkable yogurt for himself. Caleb is addicted to drinkable yogurt, and not the fruity kind. He drinks the plain stuff, which I find disgusting. But he claims it gives him super powers.

He sits next to me, handing me the soda and offering me a sip of his yogurt. He smiles when I shake my head. “You’re missing out.” He grabs the TV remote off the coffee table and turns on the DVR. “I even recorded your favorite show,” he says, scrolling through a long list of episodes of Congressional Chronicle on C-Span.

I open my Cheerwine and take my shoes off so I can curl my feet up on the sofa. “You really are the perfect roommate.”

He puts on a romantic comedy movie he obviously recorded for me, then he sets the remote down on the table. “Tonight is your night, angel-face.”

“Angel-face?”

He guzzles the last drops of yogurt and places the empty bottle on the table. “Do you prefer sunshine?”

I take a large gulp of soda and place the can on the table, then I lie back with my head in Caleb’s lap. “Let’s mix it up. How about… turtledove?”

“Turtledove it is.”

He runs his fingers through my hair as we watch the movie and I don’t notice I’ve fallen asleep until I wake up in Caleb’s arms as he carries me to his bedroom.

“I can walk,” I mutter groggily.

“It’s fine. This totally makes up for the fact that I didn’t get to work out today.”

He lays me down on the bed and I’m fully awake now. “I have to get ready for bed,” I say, sitting up immediately.

Caleb holds up his hand to stop me. “I’ll get your stuff.”

He returns a moment later with my backpack. “I know you take a shower before you go to bed. I’ll just go… out there until you’re done.”

“Wait.”

He looks at me with that hopeful look in his eyes and my entire body is buzzing with anxiety. “Can you turn on the water in the shower for me?”

He smiles and nods for me to follow him. We enter the small bathroom and the first thing I think is that it desperately needs some new decor. The plastic shower curtain is covered in squiggly blue lines that are meant to resemble waves. But in between each line, there’s nothing. It’s just clear plastic. And the shower curtain liner behind it is also clear. Not very private.

I put down the toilet seat and the lid and Caleb smiles. “I knew I forgot something. Damn toilet seat gets me every time.”

The nice thing about being an only child is that I’ve never had to share my bathroom. Our small three-bedroom, two-bath house in Raleigh is just big enough for our family. My dad never goes in my bathroom, so I’ve never had the pleasure of accidentally sitting down on a toilet while the seat is still up. But every time I’ve visited Caleb’s apartment over the past ten months, I always find the toilet seat up. It’s not a big deal, but it’s one of those classic reminders of the things that happen when a male and female share a living space.

“Just don’t let it happen again, buttercup,” I reply, setting my backpack on the closed lid of the toilet as Caleb squeezes in next to me and pushes the shower curtain open.

“Turn it to the left to turn it on,” he says, turning on the water in the shower. “Wait a little while until it gets hot, then turn it back to the right if you want it cooler or to the left if you want it hotter. But be careful, it gets really hot. Greg rigged the water heater to go full throttle.”

“Full throttle?” I say, pulling my shampoo, conditioner, and body wash out of my backpack. “I’m going to make sure to tell my parents we went full throttle in the shower.”

He spins around and his eyes are wide with surprise. “Turtledove, I’m shocked.”

I laugh as I pull my pajamas out of my backpack and set them down on the bathroom counter. “Get out.”

After a long shower, my muscles are warm and relaxed. I enter Caleb’s bedroom and find the lamp on, but he’s not here. I set my backpack on the floor and head for the living room. He’s laid out on the sofa watching a political satire show on the comedy channel. He watches me as I approach, then I lie down on top of him, nuzzling my head into the crook of his neck.

“You smell like sunshine,” he whispers, planting a soft kiss on the top of my head.

“We can do this, right?”

He knows I’m referring to living together, so he doesn’t skip a beat with his reply. “We can do anything you want.”

I lie still for a moment, listening to the beat of his heart beneath me. “I want to go to sleep… with you… roomie.”

After Caleb showers and we settle into his freshly laundered sheets, I sneak back into his nook and he holds me until I fall asleep. When I wake seven hours later, I’m surprised to find neither of us has changed positions. My face is still mashed against his neck and his hand is still wrapped loosely around my shoulders. It’s almost as if God is trying to tell us something. “See, Abby. You’re still you and Caleb is still Caleb. Everything is going to be just fine.”

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WE PICK UP AMY at nine a.m., as planned, then we have breakfast at McDonald’s before we head back to my house. Caleb and I have breakfast on Saturdays quite often, and he drives me everywhere, so my mom won’t suspect anything when we show up in his car. They won’t know that Caleb and I just did a trial run on our soon-to-be new living situation and everything went great. They won’t know that I’m about to say good-bye.

My dad is in the backyard, the sound of the hedge trimmer buzzing. My mom is in the kitchen doing the breakfast dishes. Caleb, Amy, and I enter and I grab a towel to dry the dishes that are already in the rack. I dry the first plate then hand it to Caleb for him to put away.

“What are you doing today, Mom?”

She casts me that suspicious sideways glance that tells me she knows I’m up to something. “I’m going to lunch with your Aunt Maddie. What are you three doing?”

Amy opens the refrigerator and grabs the pitcher of cold water. I hand her a glass tumbler I just dried and she heads to the dining table with the glass and the entire pitcher of water.

“We’re thinking of going to Jockey’s Ridge,” I reply, taking the clean skillet from my mom.

“Jockey’s Ridge again? You graduated eight days ago and you’re already repeating your summer outings. Why don’t you all go to the movies or something?”

“That’s a great idea!” I say as I hang the skillet up on the pot rack above the tiny kitchen island. “But… I have something I need to talk to you about first. Well, Caleb and I have something we need to talk to you about.”

My mom finishes drying off her hands on a clean towel then turns around. “What do you have to talk to me about?”

“We kind of wanted to talk to you and Dad.”

She looks at me like I’m crazy. “Abigail, is this something serious? What is going on here?”

“I’m not pregnant or anything, if that’s what you’re thinking.”

She lets out a huge sigh and shakes her head. “Jesus, Abby. You scared the heck out of me. Your dad will be done soon.”

We all retire to the living room to watch some TV while we wait for my dad. My mom puts on the Animal Planet and I know Caleb is dying to make a smart comment. Every time we sit down to watch TV with my mom, she always puts on the Animal Planet. It’s almost as if she thinks this is the only safe channel to watch with us. Caleb thought he was so clever when he bought my mom an Animal Planet Explorer lifetime membership for her last birthday.

My dad walks in through the front door about twenty minutes later. My leg bounces impatiently as I wait for him to wash his hands and find us in the living room. When he comes out of the kitchen, he chuckles when he sees us all sitting down together and staring straight at him.

“Is this some kind of meeting of the minds? How’d it go last night, sweetheart?”

“It was great!” I reply quickly, shooting a glance at Amy.

“It was awesome, Mr. Jensen,” Amy begins. “We went for some fro-yo, then we watched pay-per-view porn all night.”

“Amy!” my mom shrieks while Caleb and I laugh.

“Oh, sorry. Was I not supposed to tell them about that?” Amy asks with a smile.

I can always count on her to completely erase any doubt that we were together. Though, according to Amy, my parents never called her all night. My mom did call me around ten o’clock to make sure I was okay and that I’d taken my nightly meds. But other than that, my sleepover with Caleb went off without a hitch. It’s almost frightening how easy it is to lie to my parents. Maybe I can lie to them about living off-campus with Caleb.

No, I could never pull that off. The stress alone would kill me.

And speaking of stress, here goes nothing.

“Mom, Dad. Caleb and I are going to share an apartment off-campus this fall.”

“What?” my mom and dad bellow.

“That is not even funny, Abby,” my mom says, her mouth hanging open as she waits for me to tell her this is a joke.

“Your mom’s right,” my dad agrees. “The porn joke was funny, but this is not.”

“It’s not a joke!” I shout as I push up from the sofa. “I’m eighteen years old. I’m allowed to live with whomever I choose and I want to live with Caleb. He knows me better than anyone. He knows when I’m stressed. He knows when I need to take my meds. He knows how to take care of me better than any random roommate ever will.” I look at Caleb and he has his head down, but I can see a shadow of a smile on his lips. “And we love each other.”

“Was this your idea?” my dad roars.

Caleb raises his head and I’m pleased to find he looks more surprised than scared. “No, sir. This was not my idea, but Abby’s right. I can take care of her better than anyone. I’d rather have her with me where I know she’s safe.”

My dad narrows his eyes and nods his head. “Where she’s safe? Sure, that’s exactly why you want to live with her. Do you two really think I’m that stupid?”

Caleb and my mom stand from the sofa at the same time, but I speak first. “We don’t think you’re stupid, Dad. We thought you’d be more understanding.”

“You thought I’d understand that my eighteen-year-old daughter and her eighteen-year-old boyfriend want to live together?” His glare is seething with a rage I’ve never seen on my father. “You thought I’d understand that you seem determined to repeat your parents’ mistakes?”

The room is so quiet after my father speaks these words, I can almost hear the tears welling up in my eyes. Everyone in this room knows what “parents” my father is referring to. And this is the first clue about their story that I’ve ever been given. And it only saddens me more that he used this piece of information to hurt me.

“How could you say that to me?” I whisper.

“Abby, you don’t know what you’re proposing. This is bigger than just picking a roommate,” my mom says, reaching for my arm, but I push her away. “Your father’s right. Accidents happen and you’re not physically or emotionally prepared to deal with something like that. You two need to finish college first before you start a life together.”

“I’m not emotionally prepared? I’m too fragile?” I shake my head. “You two don’t know me at all. Maybe I am more like my other parents.”

“Your father didn’t mean that.”

I grab Caleb’s hand and pull him toward the front door as Amy follows behind us. “That’s okay, because I think it’s time for me to find out for myself.”

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About Cassia

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New York Times bestselling author Cassia Leo loves her coffee, chocolate, and margaritas with salt. When she’s not writing, she spends way too much time watching old reruns of Friends and Sex and the City. When she’s not watching reruns, she’s usually enjoying the California sunshine or reading.

She believes in true love and happy endings, and that the most palpable regrets come from watching those two things slip away. Her favorite books and movies are the ones that challenge her mentally and leave her emotionally scarred. Her family has declared her a “method writer” because she gets “in character” while writing. She believes becoming the character is the only way to truly understand him or her. Her dream is to one day score a record deal based on her awesome shower singing skills.

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