Exclusive Excerpts + Signed Giveaway: Better When He’s Bold by Jay Crownover & Dirty Deeds by Karina Halle

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Today, I shared a dual interview with bestselling authors Jay Crownover and Karina Halle on my Love In Suspense column on USA Today (see it here), where they talk about their latest projects: Better When He’s Bold and Dirty Deeds. Now, I’m thrilled to exclusively share these never-before-seen excerpts from both of these amazing books! Plus I have a giveaway for a signed copy of each, which you can enter at the bottom of the post!

Better When He’s Bold

better when he's bold coverSome men are just better when they’re bold.

Welcome to the Point…

In a dark and broken kingdom, a ruler has to be fearless to control the streets and the ruthless people who run them.

Race Hartman is just bold enough, just smart enough, and just lost enough to wear the crown. Places like the Point will always have bad things and bad people, but the man in control of all that badness can minimize the devastation. Race has a plan, but can he prevent total annihilation without destroying himself?

Brysen Carter has always seen her best friend’s brother for what he is–too pretty, too smooth, and way too dangerous to touch. Basking in Race’s golden glow is very tempting, but Brysen knows she’d eventually get burned.

When she starts receiving threatening texts and someone tries to take her out in parking lot, the only person interested in keeping her safe is the one man she can’t allow herself to have.

Sometimes being bold is the only way to stay alive. But can she let Race save her life . . . if it means losing herself to him?

Excerpt

I hurt everywhere. Every single spot on my body that had suffered a blow from heavy hands, every part of my body that had been used to defend myself, just ached all the way down to my bones. I felt battered and bruised everywhere, from the inside out.

The only place that didn’t hurt or ache was the spot on my chest where Brysen’s head was resting. In sleep, her ear was pressed to the thump of my heart and her hand was curled around my waist. She was like the cool side of the pillow. Like frost on a windowpane, soothing all the bumps and bruises. Where I should be burning up with all of her sexy and honeyed nakedness pressed up against me, instead I felt like she was a refreshing breeze cutting through the smog and pollution that typically flooded my lungs. Her white-blond hair felt like raw silk where it rubbed against my skin, and with zero effort she had my eager body stirring under the covers.

Since she stayed the night, let me have at her without question while I tried to work out all the dark shit in my head, I thought the least I could do was pull the bed out and let her sleep in semicomfort. Not that I let her get that much shut-eye. There was something unique about her. Something about the way she was when she was with me that made me want to get into her, take her apart, see everything she was working with and put my hands on all of it. She was like the best puzzle, the hardest problem I had ever tried to figure out, and it made me like her more than I already did.

I was just thinking about the best way to wake her up, wondering if she would freak out if I skipped all the preamble and just put my mouth between her legs. So far she had surprised me. She seemed down with whatever I wanted to do to her, do with her, but considering we had just scratched the surface of all the ways I wanted to mess her up, I still didn’t know how far she was willing to let me go or where her hard boundaries were. I don’t think I had any particular boundaries where she was concerned, and that made my blood thick and my dick hard.

I was running my hand down her side, thinking she felt like all the luxury and finer things I had long since left behind, when my chance to seduce her awake was blown by my phone screaming at me from the floor where it was tangled in my pants. I was used to the damn thing going off at all hours of the day and night. People wanted to give me money or take my money all the time and they never paid attention to a clock. What I wasn’t used to was my mother calling me—ever. That was a ring tone I hadn’t heard in months and months, including the time I had the life nearly beaten out of me by Novak’s thugs and I ended up in the hospital. She had firmly joined the Race-is-a-worthless-piece-of-shit bandwagon as soon as my father had declared me persona non grata at the Hartman castle. She had no clue what kind of man my father really was and saw no issue with believing him and whatever lies he told to justify disowning me and taking away every penny I had to my name.

Brysen muttered something and her eyes fluttered open to look at me. I saw her take a second to take stock, realize where she was, then she stacked her hands under her chin and looked out at me from under a tangle of pale hair.

“Are you going to answer it?”

I hadn’t, and now it was ringing again.

“I don’t really want to.” She was naked and draped across me, my face hurt, and my dick was hard. There were a hundred and one other things I could think of that I would rather do than answer that phone.

“Work?”

I sighed and shifted so I could snatch the phone up off the floor. She rolled to the side and took the single blanket I had thrown over us at some point in the night with her. She looked so sweet all rumpled and thoroughly sexed up but so out of place in the hollow and empty loft. She pushed her hair off of her face and watched me with careful eyes.

“I wish it was work.” I swiped a finger across the screen of the phone and moved to the edge of the bed. Only my past could instantly deflate the erection Brysen and her sexy, chilly blondness had inspired.

“Been a while, Mom.”

There was no masking the bitterness and anger in my tone and I saw Brysen look at me with concern. I sighed again as she climbed off the other side of the bed, taking the blanket with her as she went toward the bathroom.

“Race …” My mother was crying, hysterical even, and I thought I should try to care.

“What do you want?” I sounded like an asshole but I couldn’t help it. I reached for my discarded jeans.

“I need you to meet me down at the police station.”

I paused. “Why?”

She made a hiccuping noise and then a sound like that of a dying animal. “You father has been arrested.”

Reading Order and Links

better when he's bad better when he's bold cover

Each can be read as a standalone. Click on image to purchase from Amazon U.S.

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Dirty Deeds

dirty deeds coverFrom The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today best-selling author of The Pact and Sins & Needles, comes the next standalone novel in the darkly romantic suspense Dirty Angels Trilogy – DIRTY DEEDS.

As a flight attendant, Alana Bernal has had her share of suitors. She’s also had more than her fair share of tragedy within her messed-up family. But what she hasn’t had is love. Real, rip-your-heart-out, tear-your-clothes-off, all-consuming love.

At least that was the case until she met an American tourist, Derek Conway, a ripped ex-soldier with steely eyes and a commanding presence.

What started as a chance encounter between the two in Puerto Vallarta, a weekend full of hot sex and mindless passion, has led to something more.

Something deadly.

Because Derek isn’t the type of man to fall in love. He’s not a man who sticks around.

And he’s definitely not in Mexico on vacation.

Derek is a mercenary, a killer-for-hire, a man who does the ugly jobs for the highest bidder.

Unfortunately for Alana and Derek, the highest bidder has the power to destroy whatever worlds they have created for themselves.

The highest bidder can destroy everything.

Excerpt

Once we were in the back of the cab, she was sitting with her thigh flush against mine. I was somewhat dressed up – dark jeans, white and blue pinstriped dress shirt – and yet I could feel her heat through my clothing. That and her smell and the way her hair fell across her face, highlighting the coy glimpses of her eyes and smile, was driving me borderline insane. Though we made small chat throughout the ride, my mind was elsewhere, concentrating on keeping that well-earned control I had. I had to focus on the task at hand, which of course was her. But not in that way. I needed in deep, for her own safety and my own sanity.

It took a long time to finally get to the restaurant, located in the old town of Puerto Vallarta, despite the driver cutting everyone off along the way. You either drove aggressively around here or you didn’t drive at all.

“Thank you,” she said to me as I took her arm and helped her out of the cab. When she straightened up she looked at the place and made an impressed face. “Wow. You know, I’ve never been here before and I’ve lived in PV for a long time.”

“First time for everything then.”

I picked the place because it looked a bit different from the tourist traps in the downtown area. There wasn’t much to the outside except for a tall stone fence topped with strangling vines and flowers that bloomed like white and magenta cotton balls. But on the other side of the cast-iron gate was a different story.

I helped her over there, even though she was walking so much better now on her cast, and a waiter opened it up, giving us a hearty welcome to Coconut Joes. I gave him the reservation name and he led us through tables with ivory-lace tablecloths, past a clear blue pool with koi fish and a waterfall, under dramatic palm fronds, and all the way to a table in the back corner with a lit candle on it. The place wasn’t anything too outrageous or stuffy but it was just classy enough.

“Again, wow,” Alana said as I helped her into seat. I was starting to like being her nurse. She looked around, her cheeks glowing beautifully in the candlelight. “This is something.”

“Something good?” I asked as the server poured us bottled water.

“More than good,” she said. “The guys I dated never brought me places like this.”

Something pinched in my chest. “Oh? They take you to McDonalds?”

She gave me a look. “Most of the men I dated were pilots. They would take me somewhere really snobby and expensive to try and seem better than they were.” She took a polite sip of her water and straightened her napkin on her lap. Every day, her pain seemed to be easing, her movements becoming more fluid. “Then the next night they would take some other stupid flight attendant to the same place.”

As much as I felt an unjustified hit of jealousy, she was giving me some information, something I could work with.

“So I guess there’s a lot of drama in the workplace, huh?” I said casually, eying the waiter who was approaching us with menus in hand. In the background “Morena de Mi Corazon” started to play from the speakers. “Spurned lovers and revenge in the air,” I added.

She laughed. “No, not really. It was my fault. Rookie mistake to date a pilot…even though I did more than a few times.” She looked away, embarrassed. “Most guys I date are a mistake but no one seems to get hurt.”

So that probably ruled out the whole spurned lover angle. Not that I thought an ex-lover could or would attempt to have her taken out and for that amount of money. Love made people do crazy fucking things but that would have been a first in my books. Besides, if she did have an obsessed ex-boyfriend then I was sure I’d find out about him sooner or later.

The waiter came by and told us the specials. I ordered for the both of us – seared Ahi – because I’d never done that before, not even with Carmen, and made sure he kept the bottles of wine coming.

She was about three glasses of wine in, giggly and eating her fish with gusto when I started pressing her.

“So do you have any siblings?”

The smile seemed to vanish right off her face. There. I had something there. No matter what her answer was, I hit a nail.

“I have a twin sister and a brother,” she answered simply.

“Oh? And where do they live? What do they do?”

She relaxed her jaw a bit and took a bite of her rice. “My sister, Marguerite, she lives in New York. Goes to film school.”

Hmmm. That placed her out of range and a student at that.

“And your brother?”

“He lives around here.”

“In Puerto Vallarta?”

She shot me a wary look. “Around here. But he’s an asshole and I’d rather not talk about him.”

I raised my brow. “An asshole? What makes you say that?”

“I just do,” she said stubbornly. Then she sighed. “He just is. Every family has a…what do you say, black sheep. Right? Well, that’s him.”

“What’s his name?”

She bit her lip and said, “Juan.”

I didn’t know her well enough to tell if she was lying or not. I’m not sure why she would lie about her own brother.

I pressed it further. “What does he do?”

“He’s in importing and exporting. Trade with America. That sort of thing.”

Well, we all knew what that meant down here. Running drugs, like everyone else. Still, that gave me something to go on. Of course the name Juan didn’t help me much.

“What’s his last name, his surnames?” I asked, knowing that sometimes the men in Mexico took on their mother’s maiden names as well as their father’s.

“Bardem,” she said without hesitation. “Why all the questions?”

I shrugged and leaned back in my seat. “Just want to know more about you.”

Her brows knitted together as she eyed me suspiciously. “Maybe so, but you’re asking with this look on your face, like you’re all David Caruso.”

“David Caruso?”

“CSI Miami. It’s still my favorite, I don’t care for the other ones.”

“Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you but I don’t have the hair to be David Caruso, nor do I have the sunglasses and quippy one-liners.”

She took a sip of her wine but couldn’t hide her smile. Good, she was back to trusting me again. I wanted to ask her about her parents but I thought that would be pushing my luck. Whoever they were to her though, they were either dead or out of the picture. They had never come to see her in the hospital and the truth about her brother and sister explained why they hadn’t either.

What the hell have you done, Alana? I asked in my head as I stared at her across the table, the light illuminating her in an angelic way. Why would anyone pay me two hundred thousand dollars to have you killed?

And how the hell would I ever know the answers to those questions without incriminating myself?

Reading Order and Links

dirty angels cover dirty deeds cover

Each can be read as a standalone. Click on image to purchase from Amazon U.S.

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Connect with Jay Crownover: Website | Facebook | Twitter
 Connect with Karina Halle: Website | Facebook | Twitter

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