Excerpt + giveaway: Stay by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy

When it comes to romance, humor and sizzle, the talented duo of Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy is sure to keep you glued to the pages, especially when it comes to their latest book—Stay.

I’m so thrilled to partner up with my blogger sisters Maryse and Natasha to share a sneak peek at the novel and offer your chance to win a signed print copy of the book, out June 20th!

Pre-order: Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble ✦

About Stay

Can you fall for someone you’ve never even met?

Hailey Taylor Emery has a hunch that her favorite client at Fetch–an anonymous virtual assistant service–is actually hockey star Matt Eriksson.

Although it’s against the rules for her to check his file, she’s 95% sure she spends at least part of each day texting with her lifelong crush and catering to his every need. Still nursing a wounded heart thanks to her recent breakup, Hailey is perfectly content with some harmless online flirting…until she has to meet her client. Face to face. Cue: utter panic.
Matt Eriksson is no stranger to heartbreak. He’s still not over the destruction of his marriage, and it sucks to be the only guy on the team who knows the truth–that hockey and long-term relationships are a toxic mix. He barely sees his kids, and dealing with his ex makes him feel insane. The only person in his life who seems to understand is someone who won’t show her pretty face.
But it’s nothing that a pair of fourth row hockey seats can’t fix. Hailey can’t resist the offer. Matt can’t resist Hailey. Good thing he doesn’t have to. Fire up the kiss cam!
Warning: Contains rabid hockey fans, misunderstood dick pics, hockey players at the opera and exploding ovaries.

Excerpt

“Everyone shut it,” I hiss. “Here comes my date. Pretend you’re normal.”

“Good luck with that.” Wes snickers.

“Mamma mia,” Lemming mutters under his breath. “That can’t be your date, Eriksson. She’s too hot for you.”

I want to tell him to keep his trap shut, but there isn’t time. Hottie spots me and smiles. I watch her navigate the busy sidewalk, and I descend a couple of steps to greet her. “Hey, you made it.” I take her hand, then lean in and give her a kiss on the cheek to show my appreciation. Her perfume invites me to linger, so I take a deep breath before I step back. “Thanks for coming.”

She blinks at me for a long moment, then looks down at our clasped hands. “It’s my pleasure.” Her voice is soft and a little tentative, her blue eyes sparkling. I feel the warm buzz of arousal, and I wish I could just hail one of these cabs and ask the driver to take us back to my apartment.

But I can’t, of course. And that’s not what Hailey signed up for.

Right. Opera it is.

“I’ll apologize in advance for my friends,” I say, stalling.

“Why?” She smiles at me again, and it hits me full force. If this is how Hottie looks at me after she’s gotten a little used to me, I may not survive it. “They didn’t shower after practice?”

“It’s not quite that bad,” I manage, smiling back at her. We’re both standing here grinning like a couple of idiots, but I can’t stop. “They’re just kind of rowdy. Not opera fans. Except for Jess.” I tip my head toward Blake’s girlfriend on the stairs.

Hottie glances at my fellow players and shrugs. “I’m from Toronto, Snipes. I’m not afraid of a few hockey players.”

I chuckle. “Snipes?”

“If I have a nickname, you get one, too. It’s only fair.” She gives me an appraising look. “Nice tux. Some smart person must have helped you pick it out.” She licks her lips and glances up at the theater.

I am in so much trouble.

Taking her arm, I lead her up the steps. “Guys, this is H…” I almost say Hottie. “Hailey Taylor Emery.”

“Awesome!” Blake bellows with his usual deafening enthusiasm. “I love a chick with three names! Like, um…” He pauses. “James Earl Jones!”

“Not a chick.” Jess sighs, shaking Hottie’s hand. “Welcome to the asylum.”

“Sarah Jessica Parker,” Wes offers.

“Julia Louis-Dreyfus,” Lemming adds.

I cut off this recitation of stupidity by introducing each of these chuckleheads, and then the lights flash outside the theater, prompting everyone to go inside.

“C’mon, guys!” Jess says, clapping her hands. “I don’t want to miss the beginning!”

“I wouldn’t mind,” someone else mumbles.

We enter the theater and I give Hottie my arm as we climb a curving staircase. Someone shows us to a private box, where another usher waits to hang our coats in a little closet right outside.

“Fancy!” Jess says approvingly.

But I can’t even hear her, because I’ve slipped Hailey’s coat off her shoulders. And now I almost swallow my tongue. She’s wearing a sparkling, backless dress. That’s not even why I’m speechless. Hottie has an intricate tattoo of ivy vines all across her shapely back.

I let out a little moan of longing, and she turns her head with a questioning look. “Everything okay?”

“Yeah,” I say, my voice a rasp. But no, it ain’t okay. The opera just doubled in length if I have to sit beside her all night trying not to imagine the full picture of those tattoos across her naked body. “Where would you like to sit?” I ask, dragging my reluctant eyes off the swell of her ass.

“Anywhere.”

The box has six armchairs upholstered in velvet. I steer Hailey toward the ones in the front. The others are for Blake, Jess, Wes, and…

“Made it!” Jamie says, appearing in the doorway in a tux.

“Baby!” Wes exclaims with no small amount of surprise.

“My second practice got cancelled. Ran home and changed.”

“Aw. Now I know you love me.” He pulls Jamie in for a kiss.

And then something beautiful happens. Someone on staff offers us glasses of champagne from a cart in the hallway. I hand one to Hailey.

“Classy,” she says.

“We definitely didn’t have drinks last year,” Blake recalls. “It must be the box seats. Sit on my lap, Jessie. It’s almost a party now.”

She perches on his thigh and they clink their glasses together, then kiss.

I’m the last single man on the planet, apparently.

“This is so civilized,” Jess remarks, slipping off Blake’s lap and into her own chair.

“That’s exactly what we don’t like about it,” Wes agrees.

Hailey smiles, and I relax by a degree or two. “Thank you for coming with me tonight,” I tell her. “Maybe the opera wouldn’t be your first pick, but I really enjoy your company.”

She glances down for a second, as if she finds it difficult to accept this bit of praise. “It’s nice to step outside my rut sometimes, Snipes.” She lifts her elegant chin. “Have you seen Rigoletto before?”

“I have no idea,” I say without any shame, and she laughs.

When the house lights fade to black a moment later, I smile into the pregnant stillness inside the theater. A couple of coughs and the rustle of clothing are all we hear for a moment.

“Freebird!” Blake whispers from behind me, and I hear Hailey’s giggle even if I can’t see it.

The orchestra starts up with a swell of brass and timpani. When the curtains part, it’s on a bright stage where a big party is taking place, just as Jess described. I try to settle in and watch, but it’s not easy. I’m too aware of Hottie beside me. I want to watch her instead of the opera…

Giveaway

To enter to win a signed paperback of STAY, click here!

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Exclusive excerpt + giveaway: Buns by Alice Clayton

Alice Clayton’s books have been a long-time favorite of mine. I love how fun they are to read, how they manage to tout the perfect mix of romance and humor. I’m so excited about her next novel, Buns—out May 23rd! As we all anxiously await its arrival, I have an exclusive sneak peek, plus your chance to win a print copy of the book!

Order now: Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble ✦

About Buns

The third in the hilarious yet sizzling hot Hudson Valley series from New York Time and USA TODAY bestselling author Alice Clayton.

Clara Morgan is living the dream, if you can call rebranding hotels that are desperate for a new life and running any kind of marathon a dream. Which she does. But the career she loves and the endurance races that keep her adrenaline pumping have kept her too busy to put down any roots. Growing up in foster care, she’s never been able to establish traditions of her own, which may be why she’s fascinated by the rituals that generations-old family resorts are known for. She’s especially interested in the Bryant Mountain House, and not just for their secret recipe for the yummy, gooey, can’t-get-enough-of Hot Cross Buns….

Archie Bryant, the man with the Buns, is fifth generation and one-day-owner of the charming yet run-down Bryant Mountain House in Bailey Falls, New York. He’s determined to save his family’s legacy from the wrecking ball the old-fashioned way—by gritting his teeth and doing what needs to be done. There’s no way Archie will be influenced by the new hotel branding expert his father brought in to turn one hundred and fifty years of tradition on its head just to attract a faster, younger, slicker crowd. But when some of Clara’s ideas start bringing in new, paying customers, Archie can’t deny that she may have just given him a shot at keeping his resort open.

It’s sticky, it’s messy, it’s sweet, it’s Buns.

Excerpt

I stayed to the right as directed and began to wind my way up up up. The road twisted and turned to the top of the mountain underneath the late-afternoon sky, which was thickening with storm clouds and an ever-increasing gloom. On my left the hillside was covered in trees and thick brambles that’d be bursting with green in a month or so. On the other side the road fell off sharply, the trees giving way every so often to showcase fallen boulders, craggy and rough. I spied a trailhead, clearly marked for guests of Bryant Mountain House, winding into the forest.

The hiking must be incredible up here.

Making a mental note to investigate the off-season trails, I continued up the hill, which at this point was quickly becoming the Mountain in Bryant Mountain House. Turning my wipers up another notch against the now-steady rainfall, I turned around the final bend and there, finally, was the resort.

At least, there was part of it. The enormity of this single structure was too great to be captured in just the windshield of my tiny, impractical, andwholly unsuited for mountain terrain sports car. But what I could see was impressive as hell.

I drove under a stand of weeping willows planted along the road like soldiers, arching across and creating a tunnel effect that in summertime must be stunning. At the ass-end of winter and the equally-as-ugly beginning of spring, the bare limbs feathered together, slick with slush and almost gnarled. Not entirely welcoming.

Shivering slightly, I continued through the archway, getting my next peek at the resort. Rising high into the air, the east wing loomed up suddenly—the real money shot being either the mountain view to the west or the lake view to the east. Six, no, seven stories climbed against the wintry sky. I slowed to a stop to appreciate the architecture—fieldstone mixed with deeply burnished redwood, green shutters, soaring high gray stone chimneys. I whistled as I hit the gas again, once more twisting into the dark woods that surrounded the property. I passed several barns, the stables, the summer garden, and glimpsed just the edge of the championship golf course.

And then the road swung me back around to the front of the resort and the edge of the parking lot. One look at how fast the rain was falling and I immediately opted for valet and gunned it for the covered entryway.

Gunning it in a rain that’s bordering on icy sleet isn’t wise in a boring beige Corolla, and it is for damn sure not recom- mended in a shiny red sports car with rear-wheel drive. I spun out on the last turn, my back end slipping wildly as I clutched the wheel and tried to straighten out. I overcorrected, swung wide, and out of the corner of my eye I caught a man dressed in a green slicker and matching hat gesturing, holding out his hands and yelling.

“Look out!” I cried.
“Stop!” he cried.
I thumped the curb and missed hitting the rain slicker guy

by mere inches, who threw himself to the side at the last second, tumbling into a large shrub.

“Oh my God,” I whispered to myself, everything suddenly quiet. I looked through the wipers and saw galoshes kicking in the air, the shrub branches thrashing wildly as the man I’d nearly hit fought to climb back out. “Oh my God!”

I jumped out of the car, ran over to the shrub just as he was pulling himself loose. “I’m so sorry, oh no, are you okay? I’m so sorry!”

His raincoat, emblazoned with the words Bryant Mountain House, was caught on a limb, his hat was hanging off the back of his head by the string, and one of his galoshes had come loose.

“Oh, for pity’s sake!” he exclaimed, tugging at the branch.

“Can I help you?” I asked, reaching for the tangled limb.

“No no, I think you’ve done enough,” he snapped.
“Well, let me at least see if I can—”

“It’s fine, don’t do that—”
“I think I found where it’s stuck, just—”
“Don’t do that, it’s going to tear, it’s really fine, it’s—watch

out!”
The branch tore free, taking with it half of the raincoat, thwapping him upside the head as it rustled and resettled back into the bush.

“Wow, I can’t believe that just . . . I’m so sorry.”
“It’s. Fine.” He spoke through gritted teeth.
The two of us stared at each other. I felt terrible. He looked frustrated.

I clasped my hands behind my back, looked around, then

tried to smile. “So, where do I check in?”

Series reading order

Each can be read as a standalone

Giveaway

To win a print copy of the book:

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  • Follow Alice Clayton and Vilma Gonzalez (me) on Instagram (or Facebook if you don’t have Instagram)

U.S. entrants only, winner chosen Sunday, April 30th

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New giveaway: Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

From the New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Lost Stars and Bloodline comes a thrilling sci-fi adventure that Kass Morgan, bestselling author of The 100 series, calls “startlingly original and achingly romantic…nothing short of masterful.”

Get the book: Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble ✦

So excited to partner with Little, Brown to share this amazing giveaway with you! One winner gets:

  • Copy of Defy the Stars
  • Constellation sweatshirt
  • “Mostly Human” coffee mug

See a pic of what you can win here! U.S. entrants only. Please click the photo above for details on how to enter via Instagram! Winner chosen Sunday, April 9th.

Meanwhile, check out some fun links to get the scoop on Defy the Stars!

About Defy the Stars

Our worlds belong to us.

She’s a soldier.

Noemi Vidal is seventeen years old and sworn to protect her planet, Genesis. She’s willing to risk anything–including her own life. To their enemies on Earth, she’s a rebel.

He’s a machine.

Abandoned in space for years, utterly alone, Abel has advanced programming that’s begun to evolve. He wants only to protect his creator, and to be free. To the people of Genesis, he’s an abomination.

Noemi and Abel are enemies in an interstellar war, forced by chance to work together as they embark on a daring journey through the stars. Their efforts would end the fighting for good, but they’re not without sacrifice. The stakes are even higher than either of them first realized, and the more time they spend together, the more they’re forced to question everything they’d been taught was true.

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Exclusive cover reveal: Immortal Reign (#6, Falling Kingdoms) by Morgan Rhodes

You guys!!! Check out the amazing cover of Immortal Reignthe sixth and FINAL book in the Falling Kingdoms series by New York Times bestselling author Morgan Rhodes!

*cue flailing*

December 12th is the date to circle on our calendars! And if you’re new to the series and love fantasy adventures (like me) you can get started now with FALLING KINGDOMS.

Pre-Order IMMORTAL REIGN  | Check out the entire series ✦

And best of all, I have an epic giveaway for you all! One of you can win Falling Kingdoms paperbacks 1 through 4, plus a hardcover of the latest release Crystal Storm!

About Immortal Reign

As two lethal elemental gods set out to destroy Mytica, sworn enemies must become allies in the final fight to save the kingdoms. 

Jonas continues to willfully defy his destiny, but the consequences of plotting his own course are drastic. As the fight for Mytica rages on, he must decide just how much more he’s willing to sacrifice.

Lucia knows there’s something special about her daughter and she’ll do anything to protect her, even if that means facing Kyan alone.

Amara is called back home to Kraeshia. Grandma Cortas has her own plans for Mytica’s future. She promises Amara  power, revenge, and dominance if she agrees to be part of her scheme.

Magnus and Cleo‘s love will be put to the ultimate test. Dark magic is causing widespread destruction throughout the kingdom. Enemies across the sea are advancing. And unrest is stirring throughout the land. Is their love strong enough to withstand the outside forces tearing them apart?

Series reading order

Giveaway

Win Falling Kingdoms paperbacks 1 through 4, plus a hardcover of the latest release Crystal Storm…

To enter:

Follow Morgan

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