Exclusive cover reveal + excerpt: Master Bits & Mercenary Bites with stories by Lexi Blake and recipes from Suzanne M. Johnson

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Feast your eyes on the cover of Master Bits & Mercenary Bites! When I first heard about this project, I couldn’t wait to talk about it! Out on November 1st, the novel features short stories of couples from the bestselling Masters and Mercenaries series by Lexi Blake paired with delicious recipes from Suzanne M. Johnson. It’s irresistibly enticing with a delightful mix of romance and food that fans of the series are sure to love.

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Synopsis

Top restaurant has become the hot spot in Dallas for elevated comfort food—and a side of spicy romance. Run by executive chef Sean Taggart, Top is the premiere fictional destination for gourmet food. Join creator, New York Times bestselling author Lexi Blake, and Southern food expert Suzanne Johnson as they guide you through the world of Masters and Mercenaries via the secret recipes behind the food served in Top.

But what would a gourmet meal be without some company? Spend an evening with your favorite characters from McKay-Taggart as they celebrate the special moments that make up their happily ever afters. Learn how to make Sean’s specialty dishes and Macon’s desserts while exploring the private lives of the characters who make up the world. From Charlie and Ian’s next demon spawn to a change in path for Simon and Chelsea, these are the times that bind us together, the moments that make us a family.

Good meals, good times, good friends.

Bon appétit!

Excerpt

Ian went to grab the dog’s leash. Bud started up his pee-pee dance, his massive body twisting and turning as he ran after Ian. His big paws thudded against the brand new hardwood he would never have spent that god-awful amount of money on had he realized a dog would pee on it.

He looked back Charlie’s way. “You know there’s a whole forest out back for him to go in. He should be a free-range dog. Aren’t we taking away his dogness by putting him on a leash?”

Charlie frowned his way as she refilled Kenzie’s cup. “Yes, he’s the mighty wolf dog, Ian. I watched him run away from a bunny the other day.”

He grabbed the leash. “See, if he had to go out and hunt, he wouldn’t be such a shitty guard dog. Don’t even say it, you two. Say good words. Not Daddy words.”

Charlie put a hand to her belly. “I swear this one will come out giving the world the finger and cursing.”

Bud whined, running back and forth in front of the door. Ian sighed and attached the leash. He stepped outside and Bud took off, barking and jumping against the leash until he managed to drag Ian out onto the lawn where he immediately squatted in the middle of Charlie’s azaleas and started to take a crap.

Yep. This was his life. Watching the dog crap. He was so building a fence. “You know you were supposed to be a guard dog. You were supposed to be a raging, feral beast who would take out anything in your way.”

Sort of like Ian had been at one time.

He’d been the bane of intelligence agencies. He’d been Dr. Death, raining down justice and protecting America.

Now he was a dumbass with a mortgage, a dog who seemed to be a bit constipated, two tiny chaotic things, and another on the way. No one even let him kill people anymore.

It was a never-ending cycle of waking up in the morning and seeing their faces, taking care of them, going to work, coming home, and going to bed with his wife.

It was kind of fucking awesome.

Sure, his younger self would likely tell him he’d sold out and he was a pathetic version of himself, but his younger self had been stupid as shit. His younger self thought a great time was following a known terrorist around for three weeks so he could find the cell. His younger self had needed a freaking shower, some decent food, and a comfy bed.

And a dog who didn’t take his time with the poop.

“Come on, Bud. Pinch off, man. We’ve got shit to do today.” Well, he did anyway. He was sure Bud would have a full day of licking his private parts and waiting for the girls to drop food. Bud seemed forever optimistic that one of these days the girls or Charlie was going to drop a ham in front of him.

A butterfly landed on the bush next to Bud and that was when he went into protective mode. He barked, the deep sound threatening to anyone who didn’t know what a wuss he was, and he pulled hard at his leash.

Hard enough to make Ian stumble and damn near break his toe on the garden gnome Alex had left as a joke. Hard enough to send Ian crashing down to his knee, pain flaring and making him curse.

Bud twisted again and Ian tripped over the riding ladybug thing Kala liked to push around the yard. He landed flat on his back, looking up at the sky.

Taken down by a freaking ladybug. And his back was spasming. The pain flared through him and he could feel his lower back seizing like a motherfucker.

Bud suddenly blocked out the sky, his big doggie face staring down.

“Don’t you dare.”

It was too late. Bud licked his face and Ian realized he shouldn’t have gotten up that morning. Nope. He should have stayed in bed and then he would be warm and happy and not having his face licked by a gargantuan mass of body odor and a tongue that licked its own ass from time to time.

God, if he didn’t die from breaking his spine he was going to catch some dog disease and waste away. Right here. Because he wasn’t sure he could move. “Bud, I need you to go get Charlie. Go on. Run and get her.” He let the leash drop. Bud simply sat down beside him. “Go get Charlie, boy. I think she’s got a ham for you. Go on.”

Bud laid his big head down on Ian’s chest.

Now he had a sleeping mutt and a garden gnome that was practically up his ass. He could feel the pointy cap thing attempting to violate him.

“Ian? Ian, I need you.”

Thank god. His wife would laugh her ass off, but at least she would be able to maybe help him up.

“Ian, I think the baby’s coming.”

Yep. It was that kind of day.

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About Lexi

NY Times and USA Today bestselling author Lexi Blake lives in North Texas with her husband, three kids, and the laziest rescue dog in the world. She began writing at a young age, concentrating on plays and journalism. It wasn’t until she started writing romance and urban fantasy that she found the stories of her heart. She likes to find humor in the strangest places and believes in happy endings no matter how odd the couple, threesome, or foursome may seem.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

About Suzanne

Suzanne Johnson is family-trained, a south Georgia native who’s been cooking all of her life, creating not only some really unique food, but precious memories that re-occur every time she smells something simmering in the oven.  In all of her books, Suzanne shows that making a delicious meal doesn’t have to be complicated — it just has to be made with love.  So go ahead, don’t be bashful, dive right in.  Who knows?  You might just make a few memories of your own.

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Exclusive Excerpt: Big Easy Temptation (The Perfect Gentlemen) by Shayla Black and Lexi Blake

BIG EASY BANNER

If you love seduction, scandal and suspense, The Perfect Gentlemen series is the perfect series to devour! On May 3rd, bestselling authors Shayla Black and Lexi Blake are releasing the third sizzling installment—Big Easy Temptation.

After a passionate affair took a turn for the worse, Dax and Holland split ways, until fate once again pushes them together. Dax works to untangle clues in a conspiracy while Holland protects dangerous secrets. Worse yet, once they’re reunited, passion recklessly reignites.

I’m so excited to share with you a sneak peek of Big Easy Temptation, out next week!

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Synopsis

May-03The New York Times bestselling authors of the Masters of Ménage series present the third scintillating novel featuring the privileged, wealthy, wild men of Creighton Academy—the Perfect Gentlemen.

Years ago, Naval officer Dax Spencer and NCIS agent Holland Kirk indulged in a steamy affair—until she betrayed him in the wake of his father’s death. Dax tried to put her behind him with a payback of his own. But he never forgot Holland…

Now, as Dax and his fellow Perfect Gentlemen unravel a web of lies, he discovers his family’s tragedy is part of a much larger conspiracy. Soon, all clues point him back to New Orleans…where Holland waits, protecting her deadly secret and holding a torch for the only man she’s ever loved.

Once reunited, they can’t fight the passion flaring hot and wild. But something sinister lurks around every corner, from the elegance of the Garden district to the beauty of the bayou. Dax and Holland may find their way back to each other—if they survive…

Excerpt

“I haven’t eaten that much in forever,” she admitted. “After work, I usually heat up something in the microwave.”

“Why would you do that when you’re such an amazing cook?”

She blushed sweetly. “I like to cook, but I rarely do it. Cooking for one isn’t much fun. I don’t like to waste all that food. My uncle’s recipes usually feed a dozen men. Though you ate almost everything I made the other night.”

He would have eaten more if it kept her talking to him. “So what was the special occasion that night? You made gumbo and pie. Did I interrupt something?”

“No, not at all. I was experimenting.” She huffed a little and set her wineglass down. “That’s a lie. I made it for you. I remembered how much you love chess pie and the fact that you can’t get it outside of the south. I wanted to impress you.”

He wanted to reach out and pull her into his lap, to cuddle her and thank her properly. He settled for a smile. “Consider me impressed, sweetheart. It was amazing. I haven’t had anyone give a damn about me in so long I think I’ve forgotten what it felt like.”

“I can hardly imagine that’s true. You’re Captain Awesome.”

He rolled his eyes. “Apparently the men call me that. I’m sure it’s because I turn a blind eye to some of the stupid stuff they do. It can be hard to be stuck on a ship for months at a time. If they want to start a broom hockey league when they’re off duty, who am I to stop them? No, I was talking about women, Holland. It’s been a long time since a woman cooked for me. I think it was my college girlfriend. And she majored in ramen noodles, so I’m not sure that counts.” There was something deeply intimate about a woman cooking a meal. There was something special because it hadn’t been any woman. It had been Holland.

“How can that be true?” She shook her head as she stared at him, as though trying to figure him out. “You have women chasing after you constantly.”

She assumed so many things about him. He could clear up a few misconceptions. “They chase after me a lot, but most women aren’t actually interested in me. They like being seen with me. If they’re into politics and power, they’re hoping to get close to Zack or Roman. If they want money and glitz, then Gabe or Mad. They want me to take them out and show them off so they’ll get their pictures in the tabloids. They don’t know the real me and they don’t want to. They certainly couldn’t care less that I love gumbo and chess pie.”

“I hadn’t thought about it that way,” she mused. “That sounds like a lonely way to live.”

“It’s starting to feel that way.” When he was younger, he hadn’t been looking for anything serious. Good-time girls had seemed like the perfect solution. He’d just wanted to have fun and hang with his friends. Then Zack had gotten married and the things he’d once sought seemed pointless. “Hell, most of the men under me are married with children. At some point the playboy thing becomes less a way of life and more like a joke.”

“You could get married tomorrow if you wanted to.”
“I don’t want to just get married. I want to be in love. Everyone looks at marriage like it’s the prize to be had. It should be the inevitable outcome of the real prize.”

“Being in love?”

“Loving a woman so much that I know I won’t ever want another one the way I want her. Knowing she completes me in some inexplicable way and I do the same for her. Marriage, children, the house in the suburbs, they don’t mean a damn thing without that foundation.”

Series Reading Order

Books should be read in order.

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Exclusive Excerpt: Seduction in Session (The Perfect Gentlemen) by Shayla Black & Lexi Blake

Seduction in Sessions The Perfect Gentleman

Seductive, suspenseful, each page laced with danger—The Perfect Gentlemen series is back with its second installment, Seduction in Session! Bestselling authors Shayla Black and Lexi Blake deliver a story that sizzles as the mystery of a scandal unravels all the while propelling our two protagonists (Connor and Lara) together. I’m thrilled to have a sneak peek for you of this novel, which is out January 5th!

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Synopsis

Privileged, wealthy, and wild: they are the Perfect Gentlemen of Creighton Academy. But the threat of a scandal has one of them employing his most deceptive—and seductive—talents…

Recruited into the CIA at a young age, Connor Sparks knows how dirty the world can be. Only when he’s with his friends can he find some peace. So when an anonymous journalist threatens one of the Perfect Gentlemen, Connor vows to take down the person behind the computer, by whatever means necessary—even if it means posing as his target’s bodyguard.

Publishing a tabloid revealing Washington’s most subversive scandals has earned Lara Armstrong the ire of the political scene—and a slew of death threats.  To keep herself from ending up a headline, Lara hires a bodyguard, a man as handsome as he is lethal.

When the bullets start to fly, Lara is surprised to find herself in Connor’s arms. But as they begin to unravel a mystery that just might bring down the White House, Lara is devastated when she discovers Connor’s true identity—and finds herself at the mercy of forces who will stop at nothing to advance their deadly agenda.

Excerpt

“Down!” He shoved her off the bench.

One minute she was talking about the Metro and how to avoid traffic, and the next Connor was shouting at her. “What do you mean ‘down’?”

She turned her head and saw instantly. A man had stopped in the middle of traffic, his arm raised. She glimpsed the faintest glint of metal before Connor tackled her with his big body. Lara went down hard on the concrete to her right. Pain flashed through her shoulder. Her head knocked against the ground and the world went a little fuzzy.

Something was wrong with her hearing. A persistent ringing resounded in her ears. Her vision was tunneling, getting dark at the edges.

“We need to move, Lara.” Connor was all around her. His arms enveloped her, his weight pinning her down. He was warm, so warm. Had she thought of him as a shark? Sharks were cold and she would bet they didn’t smell delicious, like sandalwood and soap.

She shook her head because her legs didn’t want to work. “No. I need rest.”

“Shit.” He cursed but kept on covering her.

Screeches and shouts sounded everywhere. The high-pitched engine revved again. Rubber squealed against the cement. Flashes of what seemed like hundreds of shoes rushed by impatiently. One of them even stepped right on Connor’s hand and he cursed again. He knew a lot of cuss words. He was very creative with them.

Another pain flashed through her as something crushed her foot. The pain jolted her into clarity. A gun. She’d seen one just before Connor pushed her down. She’d hit her head and now he was literally covering her body with his own, protecting her from the mass panic the shooter had incited.

He was in danger. She had to get it together.

“We need to move before they come back.” Connor’s voice was deep and calm, as though nothing was really wrong.

She nodded but winced. Every single muscle in her body seemed to ache and her head pounded, throbbing to the beat of the feet fleeing the scene.

“Let’s make for the bar and we’ll hole up there until the cops come.” He eased off her. “I want to make sure the shooter’s really gone. Don’t move.”

It seemed as if the worst of the rampage was done, and the street had become eerily quiet. In the distance, she heard the sound of sirens, but the afternoon traffic clogged the roads, so it could be crucial minutes before they made it here.

Connor stood over her, stretching his hand down to offer his help. “The little fucker got away. I hope like hell some of these CCTV cameras caught his plate.”

She started to reach for him, but her vision wavered once more.

“Damn it.” Connor leaned down and wrapped an arm around her shoulders before tucking the other under her knees. He lifted her as if she weighed nothing at all. “You have to go to the hospital. There’s a knot on your head.”

When he cradled her to his chest, the pain didn’t seem so bad anymore.

“What happened? Why did someone shoot at the bus stop?” she asked, trying to piece it all together.

He strode to the bar but someone inside had locked the door. “Bastards,” he muttered under his breath and stomped back toward the bench, scanning their surroundings as if he expected more danger. “He wasn’t shooting at the bus stop, sweetheart. He was shooting at you.”

Series Reading Order
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Spotlight Feature: Rising Storm Series

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Imagine your favorite soap opera—a sweeping story line as big as Dynasty and Dallas, as scandalous and addictive, as sexy and surprising, but in a serial format that you’ll not want to put down… THAT is the Rising Storm series, created by authors Julie Kenner and Dee Davis, and presented by Liz Berry and M.J. Rose (who brought to you 1001 Dark Nights).

This ongoing series delivers a new episode each week, in a fast-paced style easily devoured. See what creator Julie Kenner has to say about it…

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Welcome to Storm, Texas, where passion runs hot, desire runs deep, and secrets have the power to destroy…  

Nestled among rolling hills and painted with vibrant wildflowers, the bucolic town of Storm, Texas, seems like nothing short of perfection.

But there are secrets beneath the facade. Dark secrets.  Powerful secrets. The kind that can destroy lives and tear families apart.  The kind that can cut through a town like a tempest, leaving jealousy and destruction in its wake, along with shattered hopes and broken dreams. All it takes is one little thing to shatter that polish.

Rising Storm is a series conceived by Julie Kenner and Dee Davis to read like an on-going drama in the tradition of classic day and night-time soap operas like Peyton Place and All My Childern. Set in a small Texas town, Rising Storm is full of scandal, deceit, romance, passion, and secrets.

Lots of secrets.

But it’s not just the storyline that fulfills the promise of a drama-filled soap opera. With Evil Eye Concepts as the “producer,” Kenner and Davis use a television model, acting as “show runners” for an incredible group of New York Times bestselling authors who have brought their vision of Storm to life. Authors in the “writers room” for season one include Lexi Blake, Elisabeth Naughton, Jennifer Probst, Larissa Ione, Rebecca Zanetti, and Lisa Mondello, as well as Kenner and Davis. In season 2, Christopher Rice will join the line-up.

So get ready.  The storm is coming.

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Check out this quick video from author Christopher Rice, on his thoughts about this buzzed-about new series.

This first season gives us 8 installments, but more will come next year. This week, the third episode, Crosswinds is out, but you can start reading the first couple chapters of episode 1—Tempest Rising—below.

(Scroll on the right side of frame to keep reading)

Reading Order and Purchase Links

 

For  more information on the series, visit http://risingstormbooks.com.

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