Exclusive cover reveal + excerpt: ARK by J.J. Wilder

Anyone in the mood for an epic fantasy?! Jasinda and Jack Wilder are surprising us with just that—a story that thrums with tension and imagination all at once in a world of drama, romance and excitement. I’m thrilled to exclusively share the stunning cover of Ark. The novel is coming this Friday, but I’ve got an amazing sneak peek to tide you over!

Scroll on down below to start reading, and please share using the social media buttons at the bottom of the post!

About Ark

“The Nephilim were on the Earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came into the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the heroes of renown.” Genesis 6:4

I am a Nephilim, and a princess.

I do not follow The One God.

I am destined to be a queen, to rule a city beside whichever aged Nephilim king or prince my father betroths me to.

And then I meet Japheth, son of Noah, son of Lamech, and he changes everything.

He changes me, and his father changes the world.

Excerpt chapter

Favor Found

“But Noah found favor with the Lord.” Genesis 6:8

Noah, son of Lamech, son of Methuselah, was a frightening man. His beard was long and black, shot with streaks of gray, the tip brushing his belly. His curly black hair, so like Japheth’s but long and unkempt, was tossed in the ever-present breeze, brushing across his eyes as he stood before the mountain-sized construction, a mallet in one hand and a thick, gnarled staff in the other. He wore a short knee-length, sleeveless tunic belted with a thick strap of leather. He was burly and tall, towering nearly half a cubit above Japheth, his shoulders as wide and heavy as an ox’s, his arms thick and hairy, his chest as broad and round as a barrel of wine; he could wrestle an aurochs and win. Noah was an imposing man, even to me, a Nephilim. His eyes were as blue as Japheth’s but immeasurably older and sparking with wisdom. They pierced me like hurled spears.

He did not have to speak a word for me to know he hated me.

I could see this even as we approached. I sat next to Japheth in the wagon’s seat, holding myself erect through sheer force of will. Noah’s eyes narrowed as we neared him, until they were slits of blue that flashed with sparks. I refused to cower underneath his gaze, but I wanted to. Even Japheth kept rolling his shoulders back and straightening his spine, as if he too felt the weight of Noah’s disapproval.

“Your father is . . . fearsome,” I whispered, as we approached.

Japheth sighed. “Yes,” he agreed.

Japheth’s mouth was pressed into a thin line. I was quickly realizing the enmity between him and his father went deeper than he had let on. He wasn’t merely tense—he was afraid. I had seen him face my father’s men without blinking, and I had seen him kill men without so much as flinching, and he prophesied my father’s death without fear, but now, at the prospect of seeing his own father, Japheth seemed to be nothing so much as terrified.

Japheth tugged on the reins and the onagers slowed to a stop in front of Noah. Two other men stood behind Noah, one with a stack of planed and sanded boards in his arms, the other with a bucket of pitch. Both of these men shared Noah’s black curls and blue eyes, making them Japheth’s brothers, I assumed. They paused mid-motion as we approached, shock on their faces.

Stepping down from the wagon, Japheth squared his shoulders and faced his father; neither man spoke for long, tense minutes.

“Father,” Japheth began. “It’s been . . . a long time.”

Noah remained silent, twisting the staff in his fist so the tip dug into the grass. “Japheth.”

It was odd, Noah’s greeting. It was not a welcome, not a greeting, and not a question. It seemed like nothing so much as an empty statement, a bare, spare acknowledgement of his son’s presence.

“I . . . I know there’s much we have to discuss, and I don’t expect an eager welcome, but . . .” Japheth trailed off, ducking his head and toying with the ear of the onager munching grass next to him. “I hope . . . I was hoping we can . . . stay here, for at least a few days. Aresia, she’s hurt . . . she needs time to recuperate.”

Noah’s jaw worked slowly, grinding his jaws together, and his eyes fixed on me, his upper lip curling. “You bring a Nephilim here? To my home? Who is she? Why have you returned after so long?” Noah’s words came in a flood, his voice deep and booming and rough.

Japheth looked back at me, and then to his father, as if wondering what to tell him, suddenly seeming at a loss. Japheth, so deadly and graceful and fearless on the battlefield, was afraid of his father.

I gathered my breath and my courage and stepped out of the wagon. I couldn’t stop the gasp and whimper of pain as my ribs protested the movement. My legs wobbled, and I used the strong, broad backs of the onagers to support myself as I shuffled gingerly next to Japheth. He wrapped his arm around my waist and held me upright.

“I am Aresia, daughter of Emmen-Utu, King of Bad-Tibira,” I said with all the strength I possessed, but it still came out breathless and soft.

Noah’s face contorted in rage. “You bring to me the daughter of that—that godless savage? You sully my lands with the spawn of that monster? Have you gone mad, Japheth?” His voice shook, trembled.

“I know, Father. I know the enmity you harbor for Nephilim, but—”

“No, you foolish child. You don’t know. You know nothing.” Noah spat on the ground, a thick gobbet of saliva splatting into the dust. “Leave now. She is not welcome here and neither are you.”

“Father, please—just listen to me. She’s not like him . . . Aresia is not guilty of the sins of her father.”

“She is a worshipper of the false gods.” Noah turned away from his son. “And so are you, probably.”

“No, Father. I . . . worship Elohim—I found Him, and I have returned to you. Please, Father,” Japheth caught his father’s sleeve, a simple act, but coming from a man so proud as Japheth, it was an abject plea. “Give us a chance.”

I took a wobbling step, shaky as a newborn calf. “Please, Noah. We have nowhere else to go. I will tell you my story if you wish, but . . .” Noah stepped back from me, as if my mere proximity made him ill. “I do not worship my people’s gods any longer. I—I have heard the voice of Elohim. He spoke to me—”

Noah lunged at me, spitting rage. “Do not blaspheme the name of The One God!”

He seemed about to strike me but wrenched himself away. His hatred was palpable and powerful, and I wondered what had happened to cause such ire.

“I speak the truth! I heard His voice. He . . . he spoke to me, when I was dying.” I wavered on my feet, unable to stand any longer. Japheth caught me and lowered me to the ground.

Just then, an older woman approached, her hair as black as her husband’s and sons’, but it was straight and fine, and her eyes were deep brown, kind and wide. She was beautiful, in the faded way of a woman who was once a glorious beauty and had aged well. She strode up to Japheth without pause and wrapped her arms around his neck, holding him close in a tight embrace. Japheth stood stiff for a moment, and then slowly relaxed, hands finally lifting to return the embrace. He held her for a moment and then attempted to pull away. The woman shook her head and pulled him back in. I heard her murmur something to him. Japheth shook his head, tried again to pull away, and the woman—his mother, obviously—held tight once more, her shoulders trembling.

I expected Japheth to push her away, but he didn’t. He turned his face to the sky, as if beseeching his One God, and I saw a tear trembling in his eyes. He blinked hard, fighting the tears as his mother kissed him on his cheek, first the right and then the left. Then she took his face in her hands and kissed his forehead. Tears coursed down his cheeks.

“You came back. My son has returned.” She rounded on Noah, eyes blazing. “How dare you turn him away, you stubborn old bull? He is our son, our eldest child. He has returned, and we will welcome him with open arms. Now, Japheth, who have you brought with you?”

I tried to rise to my feet but couldn’t.

Japheth knelt down and lifted me up, holding me in his arms like a child.

“Mother, this is Aresia; Aresia, this is my mother, Zara.”

Zara touched my blackened eyes with a gentle, practiced touch, ran her finger down the line of my broken nose, prodded my ribs. “Oh, child. Who did this to you?” The question was rhetorical, it seemed, for she continued speaking without giving me pause to answer. “Bring her into the house, Japheth. Ham, fetch me water and heat it. Shem, slaughter a sheep so we may feast your brother’s return. Noah . . . you go away, and stay away until you can see fit to welcome your son properly. Speak to your God and learn forgiveness.”

Shem and Ham both scurried to do their mother’s bidding, but the glares they shot Japheth as he carried me toward the house suggested they, too, were not pleased about Japheth’s return. They did not even bother to look at me.

The house was a long, low, squat structure built of stone and logs and mud-bricks, a thick plume of smoke rising from the center.

Within, I saw the organized chaos of a busy home. Zara had bustled ahead of Japheth and I, and was barking orders at three other, younger women, who vanished from the house to carry out Zara’s commands.

The younger of Japheth’s brothers—a hawk-nosed man with slim shoulders and a scar on his face pulling his lip into a perpetual sneer—brought two buckets of water on a yoke over his neck, staggering with the awkward gait of someone carrying a heavy load. He set them down by the fire pit at the center of the room, then set a huge copper pot on a stand above the fire and dumped the water in, and returned outside to fetch more. I heard a sheep bleating, a furious, panicked sound, and then silence. A few minutes later the older brother, Shem, came in with a bloody, skinned carcass and set it on a table. He pulled a long knife from a sheath at his side and set about carving the goat with practiced expertise, his hands red with the animal’s blood.

Japheth had set me down near the fire, propping pillows behind me. He sat down beside me. “Don’t worry, Aresia. Mother will set things right. Father will come around, eventually. I know he’s a bit . . . intimidating . . . but he will calm down.” And then, more to himself than to me, he muttered, “I hope.”

“What does he have against my father?” I asked. “I know Father has a history of antagonizing your people, but your father seems to have something . . . personal.”

Japheth looked puzzled. “I don’t know. I know he hates Nephilim, but this is . . . surprising, even to me.”

Zara came over then, juggling pots of herbs and a swath of bandages. “Hush, children. Now is not the time to discuss old memories. Everything in its own time.” She waved Japheth away. “Shoo, child. Help your brother carve the sheep. Better yet, go find your father and make amends. You hurt him deeply, leaving like you did, and the only way he can show his hurt is with anger—this you know, for you are much the same. He has a sensitive heart beneath all that bluff and bluster.”

Japheth nodded, touched me on the forehead, and left the house.

I marveled at Zara. She spoke to Japheth as if he had been gone a matter of days, perhaps weeks, rather than years. She peeled away my robes, examining the bandages the healer had wrapped around me before we had left Bad-Tibira.

“Well, at least the healer knew what she was doing. Your ribs are well on their way to healing. Your nose, though. Whoever set that . . . well . . . we’ll have to re-break it, I’m afraid. You’re far too beautiful to have a crooked nose.” Zara looked down at me, her brown eyes kind but strong. “Are you ready, child?”

She didn’t wait for an answer. She reached up with calloused, powerful hands and gripped my nose between her palms, giving a hard jerk with one hand. Fire bolted through my face, a pain worse than when Sin-Iddim had broken it to begin with. I screamed, choking when blood sluiced down my throat.

“Almost done,” Zara said. “This part will hurt as well. Ready?” Once again, she didn’t give me a chance to respond.

She pressed her palms against my nose again and pulled out, away from my face, peering down at me critically before adjusting the set of my nose. I screamed past grinding teeth when the bones stretched apart, and then slid into place, guided by Zara’s hands. Blood flooded from my nose, salty and hot and thick in my mouth, coating my chin and chest. She wiped my face clean with a rag, folded it, and then pressed it to my nose tenderly, pushing my hand up to hold it in place.

“There, now . . . it is done. I will look over the rest of you.” Zara raised an eyebrow, not asking for permission.

Quick, gentle hands probed my belly, my thighs, slipped up to my womanhood, gently but thoroughly examining.

Knowing eyes met mine. “You’ve miscarried.”

I nodded. “How can you tell?”

“You flinched at my touch, and your belly still seems to be healing. The flesh between your thighs shows evidence of having been . . . brutalized, and your other injuries all speak of a man’s angry attention. Such a thing often leads to pregnancy. You are weak, weaker than you should be, even with such injuries, which means you must have lost a lot of blood not too long past. The herbs that cause miscarriage often lead to excessive bleeding.”

“All true.”

“Who was it that did this to you?”

I hesitated to answer. I wanted to trust this woman, but was not sure how far I could.

“Speak openly, child,” Zara insisted. “You’re safe here, I promise.”

“Sin-Iddim.”

Zara’s hand jerked back from me. “The king of Larsa? Who are you, girl?

I realized she had been absent when I introduced myself to Noah. “My father is the king of Bad-Tibira.”

Zara rubbed her forehead with a knuckle. “Oh, Japheth. What have you gotten yourself into?” This was muttered quietly, not addressed to me. “I see. Well, it’s no wonder my husband reacted so strongly to your presence. So you ran from your husband, and somehow ended up with my son, who brought you here? I assume they will be looking for you?”

I was not ready to speak of what had happened to me, not yet. “There will be men looking for me, yes. I doubt they will know to come here, though. No one knew I was with Japheth, except my maidservant, and she would die rather than give me up.”

Zara shook her head as she re-wrapped the bandages around my torso. “Well, we can only hope they don’t come here. We’ll have to keep watch, just in case.”

When she was done, Zara sat down next me, taking a moment to rest. She glanced at me, then at one of the other women busy preparing the meal, a calculating expression on her face.

“How much do you really know about my son?” she asked me.

“Not much,” I admitted. “He ran away from here when he was young. I know that much. He didn’t get along with his father, he told me. His father—your husband—is a devout and zealous worshipper of Elohim, and that caused a rift between them.”

Zara nodded. “True enough, if lacking in the details. Yes, they disagreed over many things, Elohim especially. Japheth thought his father was too . . . strict. He thought he should be able to do things his own way, and naturally Noah didn’t agree. My husband is . . . very devoted to Elohim, and sometimes he loses sight of how his devotion affects the rest of us, but he means well.” She paused. “The trouble is, they are too much alike. So hardheaded, those men.”

“That’s what Japheth said.” I felt drowsy suddenly, exhausted. “I hope my presence doesn’t cause trouble for your family. Japheth . . . I care about him, very much.”

Zara nodded. “I can see that, and he cares about you as well. Don’t worry yourself, child. Rest. Things will work out, you shall see.”

Before my eyes slid closed, I saw Zara pat the other woman on the shoulder, the same woman to whom she’d glanced earlier. This woman was young, and pretty enough in a plain sort of way, with long, straight brown hair and wide brown eyes. She seemed sad somehow, resigned. I was falling asleep, but a thought niggled at me, keeping me awake for another few minutes.

There was something that didn’t make sense, but I couldn’t place what it was. I forced my eyes to stay open, looking around the room. Both of Japheth’s brothers were in the living area now, along with Zara and the three women. One of them was working with Shem, the older brother, their motions together practiced and comfortable, the way she glanced at him loving, familiar; Shem’s wife then. The next woman was talking with the younger brother, Ham, and they too seemed close and comfortable, obviously married as well. That left Zara and the third woman. Zara was Noah’s wife . . . so who was the third woman?

Zara was speaking to her with familiarity, in close enough proximity to demonstrate comfort with each other. The girl was clearly not a maidservant, but she didn’t resemble any of the men, or Zara, so I didn’t place her as a sister.

I looked again at the three women, and I saw the resemblance then. The three women were all sisters. A wife for Shem, a wife for Ham . . .

The third woman, then, was . . . Japheth’s wife?

He was married?

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Exclusive Excerpt + Giveaway: Exiled by Jasinda Wilder

Aug-02

Jasinda Wilder’s Madame X series is irresistibly suspenseful and sexy, and now the highly anticipated final book in the series—Exiled—is coming next week and I’m thrilled to be able to share with you a never-before-seen excerpt!  Plus, make sure to scroll to the bottom of this post for an epic series giveaway!

Order Now: Amazon U.S. | Amazon Paperback | Amazon U.K. | iBooks | B&N

Synopsis

New York Times bestselling author Jasinda Wilder presents the conclusion to Madame X’s thrilling saga of discovery.
 
My name is Madame X.
My heart is torn in two.
And now I have to choose…

Caleb is everything to her: lover, caretaker, the man who gave her life meaning when she had none. But as she seeks the truth about herself and her past, she discovers that unravelling Caleb’s web of lies might very well be impossible.

Logan is everything she never knew she wanted: freedom, joy, and a passion she couldn’t anticipate. But is Logan’s love enough to save her from herself, from Caleb, and from the tumultuous truth of her past?

Caught between two equally compelling men, X must make the ultimate choice. But there’s more at stake than just her heart…

Excerpt

I want to run my hands over his body. Taste his skin. Feel his muscles under my palms. Take his hardness into my hands, feel him love me the way only he can. I don’t move, though. I can’t do that to him. I don’t deserve that with him. Not anymore. Not until I’ve come clean, admitted my sins and begged him to forgive me, if he can, for betraying him, cheating on him. That’s what it was, betrayal, infidelity. I love Logan. Only Logan.

But I am addict. Weak, hooked, unable to control myself.

Logan must see or sense my inner turmoil. He grips the towel and moves to kneel beside me. “Hey. What’s up?”

I shrug. “It’s just a lot.”

“What is?”

I laugh, a bitter, humorless sound. “Everything, Logan. My life. Just . . . everything.”

He sweeps a palm across my cheek. “Talk to me, Isabel.”

I shake my head. “Why? The last thing you need right now is to take on my stick-in-the-mud angst. You need to rest. To heal. Not to worry about me. I should be worrying about you.”

He blows out a breath. “Isabel, why don’t you get this? I am going to worry about you. I am going to care about your problems. They’re my problems, because I want them to be. It’s what you do when you’re in a relationship.”

In a relationship. My gut lurches. “I don’t know how to do that. How to be . . . that.”

“Who does? You make it up as you go, babe.”

“You make it sound easy.”

“Not easy, but simple. You trust me, I trust you. We confide in each other. Depend on each other. Give freely so we’re both getting what we need.”

“That sounds . . . lovely.”

He’s close. One knee on the couch, near my hip. Staring down at me. Indigo eyes warm, inviting, fiery with desire. God, those eyes. That look. The expression that says he wants me, all of me, only me. Needs me. Can’t go another minute without me, without tasting me, feeling me.

I take a breath to unburden myself of the guilt, but he steals it with a kiss. Buries his palm in my hair, cupping the back of my head. Lifting me up into the kiss. Grabbing a handful of hair at the roots and tugging my head gently but firmly backward so he can plunder my mouth. Leaning farther over me.

I can’t not touch him, when he kisses me like this. Smooth my hands over his sides. Roam the curves of his shoulders, the broad plain of his back. Somehow, the towel comes loose. I find myself brushing it away, cupping, gripping, clutching, scratching his backside. Pulling him closer. Feeling him harden between us.

He’s propping himself up with one hand, searching for the hem of my dress with the other. Tugging it up, out of the way. Probing with a finger, sliding it under the gusset of my panties. Finding me wet. Hot. Ready. Touching and touching and touching, until I’m gasping against his kiss and stroking his hardness. Lifting my hips, needing him. Ready for him. Eager. Hungry.

He’s ripping at my panties, and I’ve got him gripped in my fist. I can feel by the tension in his belly and the way he’s breathing that he’s ready. Beyond ready.

“Is . . . God, Isabel.” He murmurs in my ear. His voice is low and rough, but it blasts me with remembrance.

“Logan, wait.”

He touches his forehead to my chest for a brief moment, but then he’s leaning back, upright. Cock jutting hard and ready, eyes tortured with need. “What do you need, babe?” He stares down at me. “If you’re worried about me, don’t. I’m perfectly healthy enough for this, I promise.”

“It’s not that, Logan.” I close my eyes tight, summon courage.

“Then what?”

I can’t look at him, or I’ll forget it all. The desire to obliterate everything with the heat of his kiss and the hardness of his body and the glory of feeling him orgasm in and on and all over me is too strong. If I look at him thus, naked, hard, ready, I’ll forget what I need to do.

“Isabel?” Logan’s voice, prompting me.

I suck in a breath. “We can’t do this, yet. I want to, need to, but I can’t.”

He shifts, plops to the cushion beside me. Drapes the towel over his lap. It tents, somewhat comically, over his massive erection. I force my eyes to focus on his face.

He sees now. This . . . isn’t good.

“Shit.” A breath, a palm passed over his face. “Spill.”

“I don’t even . . . I don’t know where to start.”

He eyes me. There’s an anger and a hardness in his gaze. “Well, then let me venture a guess: Caleb mind-fucked you again. Got you all mixed up and feeling sorry for yourself or for him, or something. Worked whatever magic hold he has on you, got you to sleep with him again. Is that it? That’s it, isn’t it? You let Caleb fuck you again.”

“Logan, I—”

“Yes—or—no, Isabel?”

A tear slides down my cheek. Another. A whole host. “Yes.” A broken sound, a shattered word, a shredded syllable.

Reading Order
Giveaway

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Review: YOURS by Jasinda Wilder

My Thoughts

A heart-wrenching second chance at love story
with themes of love and loss, adventure and fate.

4halfstars

Synopsis

yours cover wilderWhen my husband Oliver died, my life ended. My purpose, my passion, my everything bled out with him on the side of the Pacific Coast Highway.

Ollie was an organ donor. His eyes, his brain, his lungs, his heart…parts of my Ollie went out and saved lives.

Then His heart, beating in another man’s chest, found its way back to me, and I found myself faced with an impossible choice: hold on to the pain and beauty of the past and the memory of the man I loved, or reach for a bold new
future, knowing each heartbeat will be a reminder of all I’ve lost.

•••

I wasn’t supposed to live past thirty.

My grandfather died at forty-five. Heart failure.

My father died at thirty-five. Heart failure.

The doctors told me my whole life that I wouldn’t see my thirty-first birthday. My heart was going to give out. It was just a matter of time: a rare blood type and an unusually large heart meant essentially zero chance of a transplant.

I proved them all wrong…by dying on my thirty-first birthday.

And then I woke up, alive, with another man’s heart inside my chest, and his widow on my conscience.

I spent my whole life preparing for death, and now I have to learn how to live. Only,  as I soon discovered, living is the easy part.

Loving, and allowing myself to be loved…well, that’s a whole lot harder.

My Review

Jasinda Wilder delivers a heart-wrenching second chance romance that burrows deep into your heart and lingers long after you’re done. Yours is a story about loss and love, about grieving and healing, about freedom and adventure. The lives of the characters entwine in ways unforeseen, proving it’s never too late to alter the course of one’s life.

In typical Jasinda Wilder fashion, she builds the story to where we quickly fall in love for its protagonists, feel what they feel, hurt when they hurt. And for Niall and Lachlan, although they’d lived very disparate lives, they had both felt the pang of heartache and loneliness, the breathless stun of surprise after their lives fell off course.

Niall and her husband Oliver fell in love while part of the Doctors Without Borders program, saving lives in war-torn areas as bullets flew by them. Their love and their passion for helping others made it worthwhile, but fate interrupted their happy ever after when Oliver was killed in a tragic accident.

Her plans for the future, her passion for her work, her happiness, her sense of self, all died along with him. She fell into a bottomless abyss of grief, paralyzed by the loss of him.

“The pain is nothing compared to the ocean of grief, the sea of shock boiling just beneath the surface of my psyche, waiting to yank me under like a riptide.”

We also meet Lachlan, who spent his years on open sea, traveling the globe without a care in the world, with many a woman to warm his bed. He wasn’t supposed to live past thirty, so he lived his life on the edge, daring destiny to take him. Any minute could be his last and so he lived it to the fullest.

“It’s only a rush if it’s dangerous. I only feel alive if I’m encroaching on death, if I’m toeing the bleeding edge of insanity.”

When time came for Lachlan, he relished living to thirty one, he’d beat the odds, but his heart had finally given out.

He never expected to wake up in the hospital, after his death, with a new heart—a new lease on life.

“I spent my whole life expecting to die. Waiting to die. Knowing I’d die. And now I’m alive, and… Now what?”

Lost without purpose, Lachlan embarks on a journey to find the family of the man whose heart gave him life, in hopes he’d find himself along the way.

Lachlan and Niall meet, in a moment of happenstance. And when he realizes just who she is, his truth is muted by fear.

Before too long, they’re healing each other. Finding new purpose together. Falling in love when both thought it impossible. Secrets and insecurities, however, threaten everything and Lachlan gambles on losing the very person who has shown him how to live.

“I spent my whole life doing nothing, Niall. Avoiding anything and everything, because I felt like nothing mattered. Nothing I did mattered, because I was going to die soon… You took me by surprise. I never expected to—to feel… so much.”

Lachlan and Niall’s romance is a storm of emotions. It’s messy and twisted and rife with heartache and fear. But I loved the threads which wove through their story: adventure, fate, love, courage and second chances. Fast-paced and heart-wrenching, Yours will hold your heart captive from its poignant beginning to its hopeful, happy end.

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☆ Exclusive Cover Reveal + Excerpt + EPIC Giveaway: YOURS by Jasinda Wilder ☆

yours cover wilder

SURPRISE!!!!

I am unbelievably excited and honored to exclusively reveal the announcement, cover and first sneak peek from Jasinda Wilder’s upcoming book, YOURS. I can’t wait for you all to read this amazing second chance at love story… SO MANY FEELS. YOURS is a story about loss and love, about grieving and healing, about freedom and adventure. The book is coming on June 20th, but you can get a taste of this poignant narrative below. Make sure you pre-order too!

And guys, thanks to the ever-generous Jasinda Wilder, I have the most epic of giveaways below… probably the best I’ve ever run on the blog! . . .

Up for grabs are 25 printed special-edition ARCs of YOURS! 25 of you will win!

So make sure to read the excerpt, pre-order and enter the giveaway below!

Pre-order exclusively through iBooks now ✦

Synopsis

When my husband Oliver died, my life ended. My purpose, my passion, my everything bled out with him on the side of the Pacific Coast Highway.

Ollie was an organ donor. His eyes, his brain, his lungs, his heart…parts of my Ollie went out and saved lives.

Then His heart, beating in another man’s chest, found its way back to me, and I found myself faced with an impossible choice: hold on to the pain and beauty of the past and the memory of the man I loved, or reach for a bold new
future, knowing each heartbeat will be a reminder of all I’ve lost.

•••

I wasn’t supposed to live past thirty.

My grandfather died at forty-five. Heart failure.

My father died at thirty-five. Heart failure.

The doctors told me my whole life that I wouldn’t see my thirty-first birthday. My heart was going to give out. It was just a matter of time: a rare blood type and an unusually large heart meant essentially zero chance of a transplant.

I proved them all wrong…by dying on my thirty-first birthday.

And then I woke up, alive, with another man’s heart inside my chest, and his widow on my conscience.

I spent my whole life preparing for death, and now I have to learn how to live. Only,  as I soon discovered, living is the easy part.

Loving, and allowing myself to be loved…well, that’s a whole lot harder.

YOURS full wrap

Excerpt

I stumble to my feet and into the kitchen, start some coffee—at least I have coffee, and thank god for that. While the coffee maker burbles and glugs, I drink several cups of water from the sink, to slake the demonic thirst of my cheap-wine-hangover.

My kitchen sink has a window over it, which faces the road, and my driveway. I can see anyone coming for a good mile. And if they pass the Jensens’ driveway, they’re coming here because I’m at the end of the road, with nothing beyond me but grass.

Dust is being kicked around, way up the road. It’s been dry as hell lately, so the road has been churned into powdery dust, which means I can’t make out the approaching vehicle until it’s past the Jensens’.

It’s my truck.

What the hell?

Like the sleepy, hungover idiot I am, I stand at my kitchen sink, cup of water in hand, watching my truck approach. I watch as it parks in my driveway, right in front of the slab of concrete that passes for my front porch. And I watch the blond god who rescued me from the intersection unfold his tall frame. That beast of a dog is in the passenger seat of my truck.

Once again…what the hell?

I watch him approach my front door.

God, he’s handsome.

I mean, he’s scruffy, unkempt, and wild looking. But he’s clean. He’s ripped. And his eyes are arresting, blue-green like the deepest sea.

He knocks on my door, and it takes me a few seconds to realize that yes, I do have to answer the door.

I move to the front door and pull it open. There’s a screen door, which I don’t open, yet.

“What are you doing here?” I demand.

His eyes widen, and his gaze slowly, deliberately rakes down my body. I’ve never been looked at that way in my entire life, as if I’m something delicious to eat and he’s starving. He doesn’t just look at me, doesn’t just check me out.

He scours every inch of my body with his gaze, from toes to hair, up and down. Twice.

He drinks me in, as if he’s never seen anything like me in his life. His chest rises and falls, and his fingers tighten into fists at his sides. His eyes narrow. His nostrils flare. I swear the zipper of his faded blue jeans tightens.

And yeah, I’m checking him out too.

But the way he’s looking at me, it’s…intoxicating. Bizarre, but wild and heated and ravenous.

And that is when I realize what I’m wearing.

Or…not wearing.

I’m in a T-shirt, and that’s it. And by T-shirt, I don’t mean Ollie’s big old UCLA shirt. It’s one of mine, and it’s old, so it doesn’t quite fit me. I never wear it except to bed.

It doesn’t quite cover my ass, and it’s super tight around my chest.

No bra.

No panties.

Just the T-shirt.

I don’t remember undressing, don’t remember putting on this T-shirt. I remember watching TV and maybe possibly uncorking a second bottle of wine to go with Vanderpump Rules. But clearly, at some point last night, I took off all my clothes and put on this ridiculous shirt.

It’s not ridiculous, though. It’s my second favorite sleep shirt, after Ollie’s UCLA tee. It’s comfy. And it’s also not ridiculous for me to be basically naked in my own home, not when I have no neighbors, and especially since no one ever has and—I thought—would ever visit me, so there’s no reason to ever worry about modesty.

Which means I’m standing here, basically naked, oblivious, staring at the most attractive man I’ve ever seen in my life. My hoo-ha is playing peekaboo, for sure. My tits might as well be bare, because this shirt is so old and has been washed so many times it’s basically see-through, and now that I’m aware he’s scrutinizing me and that I’m naked, my nipples are pebbling, thickening, going hard and tingling. I see his eyes go to them.

And yeah, his zipper is totally bulging.

I feel a blush creep into my cheeks, fiery.

“Fuck.” I murmur this under my breath.

“Yes, please,” he growls.

And I swear to god, he puts his hand on the lever of the screen door.

What? No. Don’t do that.

I’m frozen, unable to move as he swings open my door. Steps over the threshold, and stands in front of me. Towers over me. I’m not a tall girl—I stand five-five and a quarter when barefoot. So this man, at six-feet and several inches, does indeed tower over me. He stares down at me, those sea-churn eyes flitting over my face, back down my body as if he can’t stop looking at me.

And for my part, I can’t stop looking either. The bulge in his jeans is huge.

I unfreeze then, and back up. Tug the hem of the shirt down in front, which covers my hoo-ha but tightens it around my breasts. Can’t win, I don’t think.

“You need to leave,” I grate out.

“You shouldn’t answer the door like that.”

“I’m tired. I just woke up.” I don’t know what’s come over me. I should be kicking him out, not talking to him. “And I’m hungover.”

“It’s past noon, and you just woke up?” He smirks. “That’s a hell of a hangover.”

“Past—did you say past noon?

“Yeah.” He checks the watch on his wrist, an expensive, waterproof-looking thing. “Twelve thirty-four.”

“Shit!” I forget him, forget my shirt, forget that I’m naked. “I’m late for work!”

I was supposed to work at eleven again today. I turn and scramble to my bedroom, pull my emergency prepaid cell phone from the bottom of my purse.

Dead.

Where the hell is the charger? My room is kind of a disaster, because I’m not the neatest girl in the world. There are clothes everywhere; half a dozen pairs of scrubs on the floor, more folded in a basket, bras on door handles and on the floor, along with panties and towels.

I can’t find my charger anywhere.

“SHIT!”

“Something wrong?” His canyon-deep voice comes from somewhere behind me.

I’m on the floor near the bedside table, rooting through the clothes and old junk mail for the charger. “Yes, there’s something wrong. I was supposed to be at work an hour and a half ago.” I finally find it, buried. Plug it in, but the phone is old and it takes a while to get enough of a charge to turn on once it’s died. “And my phone is dead.”

“At least you have your truck, now.”

I look at him. He’s in the doorway to my bedroom, filling it completely. He’s wearing a thin black V-neck T-shirt that hugs his torso and biceps, and the way he’s standing, one arm over his head against the door frame, has his shirt hiked up so I can see grooved abdominal definition, and a thick trail of blond body hair leading under his waistband.

“My truck?” I remember how he got here in the first place. “How did you get my truck here?”

“I had it towed, had it fixed, and then drove it here.”

“Wait.” I stand up, and remember that I’m naked, and sit back down, cover my lap with old clothes. “What are you doing in my house? What are you doing in my bedroom? You know what?—Don’t answer; you need to leave.”

“You want to call your work with my phone?” He digs into his hip pocket, withdraws a sleek smart phone and extends it to me.

Equanimous. How can he be so damn equanimous all the time?

“Stop being so nice.” I stretch up from the floor, holding clothes against me to shield me from his gaze, and to hide the evidence that I’m sincerely and severely affected by him. “It’s creepy.”

“Since when is nice creepy?”

“Since no one is ever nice for no reason,” I say, dialing the office.

“I have a reason.” More leaning, more smirking, more bulging biceps.

“Oh, yeah?” The line is ringing, ringing, ringing. “What reason?”

“The reason is nice doesn’t need a reason.”

“That’s stupid. Try again.”

“Okay.” He strokes his beard with long, strong fingers. “Umm…okay, how about this: you’re seriously hot, and being nice to you stands to benefit me in some way, at some point, even if it’s just more free glances at those big, juicy tits of yours.”

I’m struck dumb by this response for a moment, until I recover my wits. “Jesus, you’re a pig.”

A laconic shrug. “You asked.”

“They’re not that big.” I cross my arms over my chest, not exactly self-conscious, but—okay, plenty self-conscious.

“Big enough, from what I saw, and I’m pretty sure I saw plenty.”

I glare at him, sigh in frustration because no one at the office is answering the phone. “Can we stop talking about my breasts?” I say this as someone finally picks up, which means they catch that statement.

“Um, hello?” Lindsey answers, confused.

“Oh, god, Lindsey, hi, it’s Niall.”

“Niall! Are you okay? We were all worried about you.”

“Yeah, I’m—I’m fine. My truck broke down last night, and I slept through my alarm this morning. I’m so sorry, Lindsey. I’ll be there as soon as I can. Half an hour, maybe?”

Lindsey confers with someone, the words muffled. “Well, actually Dr. Beardsley is here and he says it’s fine, just take the day off.”

“Oh, no, I couldn’t.”

There’s the sound of the handset being transferred, then I hear Dr. Beardsley’s thick Texas twang. “Niall, darlin’, ya’ll just stay home today, a’ight? We-all are fine here. Ya’ll took care’a things yestiddy, and ’sides, you ain’t taken a day off in—well, ever.”

“You’re sure, Dr. Beardsley? I can be there in less than half an hour.”

“I may be old, but I ain’t dead yet. I can take care of my own practice for one day.”

“If you’re sure.”

“I’m sure. Now git. I’ll see ya’ll t’morrah.”

“Okay, thanks. And—I’m sorry. I’ve never done this before in my life.”

“Happens to the best of us, I’m afraid. Why, I ’member once I was two hours late to my own surgery.”

I laugh, because this is quintessential Amos Beardsley. “Let me guess—you were out hunting?”

“Why Niall, it’s like you know me. You are surely right, though. Got a nice eight-point buck that day, and then had my knee replaced.” He gives a chesty, rumbling cough, which he’s had for as long as I’ve known him. “Listen to me, rambling on like a fool. I got patients, so I’ll let ya’ll go. See you t’mrorrah, Niall.”

“Bye, Dr. Beardsley.”

“G’bye now, sweetheart.”

I end the call, toss the phone back into my purse, and then remember it’s not mine. Retrieve it, and hand it back to Tall, Blond, and Muscular.

“So you’ve got the day free?”

I nod. “Looks like it.”

“What are you gonna do with it?”

I shrug. “Hell if I know. I haven’t had a Wednesday off in…a really long time.”

“Might I suggest letting me take you to breakfast? Well, lunch. Brunch. Whatever.”

“You may suggest, and I may decline.” I don’t quite look at him, because if nothing else, real food sounds great. All I’ve got is stale bread and no toaster.

“I did bring you your truck.” Another of those insufferable smirks. “That should earn me brunch, at least.”

“Yeah, about that. How’d you do it? I know for a fact I have my keys in my purse.”

“Spare key in the magnetic box under the front right wheel well. One of those spare key hideout things.” He digs in his hip pocket, withdraws a single key, and extends it to me.

I take it, stare at it. “I didn’t even know it was there.” I glance up at him. “What was wrong with it?”

“Out of gas.” His lips twitch in his beard, as if he’s struggling to hold back laughter.

“Out of gas?” I frown, puzzled. “But I just filled it up a few days ago. Shouldn’t be empty yet.”

“Leaky fuel line. Didn’t take them long to fix it.”

“How much did it cost, for the tow and the repair?”

“Brunch.”

“What?”

“The price of a meal, that’s how much the repair cost.”

I breathe in and out slowly a few times, trying to gather my thoughts. I should not have lunch with this guy.

But why not?

He rescued me last night.

He brought me my truck this morning—this afternoon, rather. He’s not asking for repayment.

I don’t even know his name, nor he mine, and he’s in my bedroom. I’m all but naked, and he’s made it clear he likes what he’s seen. And, dear lord, he’s seen plenty, as he stated himself.

Does that last point go in the pros or cons? I don’t know.

He’s got me off-kilter.

The dream still lingers in my mind, that image of Ollie’s dead eyes swiveling to stare at me. The helplessness. It’s suddenly hard to swallow. If I stay here all day, alone, I’ll relive that dream over and over and over again, until I’m crazy.

So, maybe I’m already crazy, but I find myself looking up at him. “All right. Fine. Brunch. But you need to leave so I can get dressed.”

“Don’t let me stop you.”

“You’re not watching! Jesus.” I shake my head, amazed at his blatant lechery. “You don’t even know my name.”

“Niall James.”

I blink, stunned. “How—how did you know?”

Something dark flickers across his gaze. It’s so quick, I almost miss it, and doubt that it was ever there once it’s gone. “It was on your registration. I looked in the glove box for the spare key.”

“I don’t know your name.”

“Lock.”

I frown up at him. “Lock?”

“It’s short for Lachlan, but nobody calls me that except my mother, and that over my repeated protests.”

“Lachlan. You have a last name?”

“Nope. I’m an escaped clone from a secret government super-soldier experiment.” He manages to say this deadpan.

“Don’t be a dick.”

He laughs, and god, that sound is sexy as hell. I hate him for it. Or I want to, but I can’t quite manage full-on hatred. Annoyance, at best.

“Montgomery,” he says. “My name is Lachlan Montgomery.”

I stand up, hold a handful of dirty laundry against my belly to hide my crotch, and extend my other hand to him to shake. “Nice to meet you, Lachlan.”

He shakes my hand—god his hand is big and rough, the palm callused to the point of feeling like sandpaper. “Please call me Lock.” Another of those brief flickers of something crosses his features. “It’s nice to meet you too, Niall.”

“Great, we’re introduced. Now. For real. Get the hell out of my house so I can get dressed in privacy.”

“Fine, fine.” He backs away, as if he can’t quite bear the thought of tearing his gaze off of me. Which is weird.

And not unwelcome.

Yes—yes it is unwelcome, dammit. What am I thinking?

Did I just agree to have brunch with this guy? Why? Why? Stupid, Niall, so stupid. You’re in no position to be going on dates.

But it’s not really a date, is it?

I ponder this question as I wait until I hear the front doors close, both the storm door and the entry door. And the answer I come up with, confusingly, is that yes, it is a date.

I agreed to a date with a man whose name I didn’t even know at the moment of agreement. A man who barged uninvited into my house, after ogling my mostly naked body.

Well, hell, if it’s a date I’ve agreed to, I can’t just throw my hair in a ponytail and wear comfy pants, can I? So I take a shower, depilate all the appropriate areas, and take the time to dry my hair and curl the ends.

Which is a bad idea, because Ollie always loved it when I curled my hair like this. I don’t do it often, mainly for special occasions, or the few times in our relationship when we had time alone, together, not working. A day off, a date between assignments with MSF. Our wedding.

And I’m crying, thinking of Ollie while curling my hair for a date with another man.

God, I’m a mess.

He’d wind the curls around his fingers and tug on them. He’d pull me up against him and twirl my curls and kiss me sweetly, tugging a little. Gently, sweetly, not aggressively, just…sweetly and possessively.

I have to stop and put the curling iron down and breathe. Blink tears away.

Why am I doing this?

Just offer the man some money and get rid of him.

Lock wouldn’t take money, though, something tells me. And I already agreed, so I can’t back out now, can I?

Of course I could. But it would be rude, especially after he went so far out of his way to help me.

He wants something from me, though. I mean, duh, obviously he wants something from me.

He wants that from me, and there’s no way in goddamned hell thats happening.

So why did I trim my down-under and shave my legs and underarms?

Why am I curling my hair and putting on eyeliner and mascara and lip stain for the first time in over a year?

Why am I stuffing my ass into my smallest pair of shorts, and my tits into a short-sleeve button-down flannel? And why, oh why, oh why am I leaving the top three buttons undone? I button the third button, after re-examining the amount of cleavage being revealed. Two buttons is plenty.

Hes already seen more than that, a nefarious little voice whispers, deep down.

I’m fucking lonely, that’s why I’m doing all this.

It doesn’t mean a damn thing. It’s just nice to feel appreciated for more than my ability to take temperatures and suture cuts. It’s nice to feel like a woman. It’s nice to be wanted. Doesn’t mean I’m going to do anything with it, or about it.

I’m a widow, not a nun. I don’t have to be lonely.

Plus, it doesn’t hurt that he’s sexy as hell. God, those eyes. I never thought I’d like a beard, but that blond mass is hot. It’s wild, and makes him look like he’s crossed forests and oceans and deserts.

Finally ready, I shoulder my purse, unplug my phone from the charger, make sure I have my keys, and lock the front door.

I find Lock sitting on the tailgate of my truck, using what appears to be half a tree branch to play tug-of-war with that pony-sized dog of his. He gets the stick away, holds it above his head to keep it from the dog. Joke’s on him, though, because the dog is so big it can just lift up on its hind legs and snatch it without much effort. Lock laughs, lunges off the tailgate and full-body tackles the dog, wrestles away the stick, and then runs backward a few steps, trying to hold the stick out of reach. But yet again, a single hop covers a good half a dozen feet, and another tiny leap lets the dog latch massive, powerful jaws around the stick and wrench it way.

It’s funny, and I can’t help laughing. “That is a hell of a big dog.”

“She’s not small,” he agrees, heaving the branch as far away as he can.

“What’s her name?”

“Utah.” The dog drags the branch to Lock, and then sits on her haunches, expectant. “Utah…go say hi!”

Utah tilts her head, follows Lock’s outstretched arm pointing at me, and then she bounds toward me. Which is scary as fuck. Despite the dog’s clearly affable nature, having an animal of that size run at you with arm-crushing jaws wide is just plain terrifying. But when she gets to me, Utah skids to a halt, lifts up, and puts her paws on my front shoulders. Standing like this she has to lean down to lick my face. I bat at her, try to shove her off, but she’s bigger than me in every way, and is clearly determined to lick me to death.

“Utah! Get off me!” I laugh.

And immediately, she pulls her paws off me and sits at my feet, which puts her head at belly height.

I wipe at my face. “So. What’s the plan?”

Lock hefts the tree branch and hurls it into the brush across the road from my yard, and Utah jumps in after it, which in turn scares a rabbit out, Utah in hot pursuit. From initial impressions, I don’t think much of the rabbit’s chances.

Lock now seems to take note of me for the first time since I emerged from my house. “Damn, girl.” He straightens, squares his shoulders. His eyes narrow, and he saunters toward me.

I back up, the intensity and hunger in his gaze rife and powerful and overwhelming. “Stop looking at me like that.”

“How am I supposed to not look at you like this when you look like that?” He’s about a foot away, now, staring down at me, growling.

Well, not growling, really. Purring, more. There’s no threat in his voice or his words, only…promise.

I shiver.

Or is it a shudder?

I shove past him. Pretend I can breathe just fine. Pretend my thoughts and emotions aren’t in complete juxtapositional turmoil. I jerk open the door of my truck, jam the key in the ignition and start the engine.

And damn me if it doesn’t start on the first try.

I hear claws scrabbling on metal, and I twist in place to see Utah in the bed of the truck, prowling in circles three times, and then lying down, chin on paws. And then Lock is in the cab beside me. It’s a small cab. Just a single bench seat, no console, just the old ripped cloth and two faded, scuffed plastic and metal seatbelt buckles. He fills the cab. Overfills it, really. Broad, broad shoulders, thick thighs in tight denim, well-worn hiking boots. His hair is brushed this time, but still wild, nearly down to his shoulders, thick and wavy, sticking to his beard in places. And that beard, Jesus. He’s brushed it too, and I think I’m catching whiffs of pine and spruce coming from it. Not unpleasant. The opposite, actually.

My truck’s engine sounds different. Smoother. Idles more silkily. And then there’s the fact that it caught on the first try.

I yank the gearshift down into reverse, back up into the road, jerk it into drive, and then twist to glance at Lock. “What else did you have fixed?”

He’s rolling the window down, hanging his arm out, not quite looking at me. Shrugs. “I just told ’em to fix her up. I don’t know what all they did.”

“Bullshit.”

He looks at me, now. “You sound pissed.”

“I don’t like owing people.”

“You don’t owe me shit. You’ll never owe me a godddamn thing.” He says this vehemently, a little too much so. Off-puttingly so. Curiously so. He seems to realize this and lets out a slow breath, starts again more evenly. “Starter. Serpentine belt. The fuel line, obviously. Brakes…what else? I think that’s it. Oh, no—the spark plugs.”

My throat chokes. That’s everything the mechanic said it needed to be basically as good as new, engine-wise. I just didn’t have the money to fix it then, and haven’t had the time lately. I know how much that cost him, because I had it quoted for me.

“Lock…that’s a lot of money in repairs.” I swallow hard. “How’d you get it all done so fast?”

“I had it towed last night. Soon as you walked away, I called a tow truck and had the mechanic start right away. Just told him to fix everything that needed fixing. They must have worked late and started early.”

“I’m paying you back. That’s too much.”

His eyes cut to mine. “The hell you are.”

“I’m not a fucking charity case, Lock. I don’t need your help or your money, and I’m not fucking you just because you’ve been nice.”

“Not because I’m nice, no. But you will.” This in that same low purring growl.

I slam my foot on the brake. “You know what? Get out of my truck.” We skid to a stop, dust skirling in through the open windows. “Thanks for fixing it, that was very kind and very unnecessary. Goodbye, Lachlan Montgomery.”

“Hey, I was just—”

“You were not kidding, so don’t try and pull that on me. That may work on bar sluts, that smirk and the purr, but it’s not going to work on me. So get the fuck out.”

“Smirk and purr?” He quirks an eyebrow at me. “You think I purr?”

I groan, burying my face in my hands. “Jesus. You don’t take a hint, do you? LEAVE.”

He stares at me levelly for a long moment, and god it’s hard to resist the siren song in those blue-green eyes. But I do, somehow.

And he gets out. Snaps his fingers. “Utah, c’mon girl. Let’s walk.”

Happily, the dog bounds out of the bed and walks beside Lock, tail wagging, happy just to be.

God, to be a dog.

I watch them walk.

He totally deserved it.

Bonus reason I kicked him out is because it was working and that pisses me off, confuses me, and sends little thrills into my belly all at once.

The road is straight as an arrow for a good couple of miles, so I watch man and dog slowly shrink almost out of view.

But damn it.

Damn it.

I can’t let him walk all that way. It’s hot as hell out there.

“Goddamn it, Niall. What are you doing?” I ask myself as I throw the truck back into drive and go after them.

What am I doing?

I don’t have the slightest clue.

Excerpt from YOURS by Jasinda Wilder
Excerpt text copyright © 2016 by Jasinda Wilder. All rights reserved.

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