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Playing with Fire, Renee Graziano Excerpt

To celebrate the release of Renee Graziano‘s sexy thriller Playing with Fire, we’ve got a sneaky excerpt for you… If you can’t help but want more (we couldn’t!), the ebook is out on Thursday! Enjoy!

It wasn’t like the dress was really over the top.

Might just be the body in it.

Nick Fattelli took a sip from his snifter and negligently set it aside, watching, but he wasn’t the only one. He was pretty sure every man in the room had turned to look.

The woman who had just come into the room was not even classically beautiful. Long dark hair, yes, he approved of that, and the sultry unusual eyes to set it off. Her skin was flawless, but her features were not perfect. That was fine—he wasn’t looking for perfect. A tilt to the eyes, just a hint, and a shade of a Roman nose, but still she was very striking. The dress didn’t hurt either, cut low enough to showcase her firm breasts and tight enough to accentuate what he thought was a world-class ass.

He approved 100 percent.

“Reign.”

He turned and glanced at the man who had apparently caught him staring. “What?”

“That’s her first name. Reign.” Joey Carre took a small round cracker topped with pink shrimp and herb-flecked cheese from a tray and somehow managed to pop it into his mouth and still make the movement look sophisticated. He chewed and swallowed before he commented, “Saw you looking. Long stare, about two seconds over the ordinary. Don’t worry, you aren’t the first.”

Of that, he had no doubt now that he’d seen her. “Okay, guilty as charged.… The story?”

Carre knew everyone. Maybe it was his connection with the fashion icons in a city where how a person was dressed told you more about them than a background check. Carre was slightly overweight, but the cut of his jacket fooled the eye, and his fair hair was thinning just enough to accent a high forehead and austere features. His eyes were a very pale blue and, rumor had it, missed nothing.

“She’s connected.”

Nick believed that. Their circles were fairly tight, this party an example. He glanced around the penthouse, saw the sleek furnishings and the tall shining windows that gave way to a terrace overlooking New York City. The skyline was brilliant through the wall of windows, and the floor was polished marble. Ten million bucks, easy, for this place.… The invitations were not passed out on street corners. “To?”

“Practically everyone, but not what you are thinking right now.” Joey shook his head and took a sip of champagne. “She’s a pretty face, but it doesn’t stop there.”

So … intelligent, gorgeous in her own way, and willing to walk into a party like this one wearing a flamboyant green dress with all that ebony hair spilling down her back.… Good presentation. Every other woman had on the classic little black number. She stood out.

He admired her style. “Fashion?” He acted like it was a guess. He knew where her studio was and had even done a background check on her assistant.

“And good taste. They don’t always go hand in hand.” Carre looked affable, but Nick actually rarely thought that was his true persona. Carre added succinctly, “She’s good. Just starting really to break in.”

“Married?” He asked it politely enough, though he already knew the answer. Several offers in her past, but the one “yes” hadn’t worked out.

He knew pretty much everything about her; they just hadn’t met yet.

“Married? Absolutely not.” Carre looked noncommittal. “Not in the market either.”

Good both ways. So was Nick.

He shot his cuffs. “Introduce me.”

“You don’t want to play with this one.”

Nick’s smile was ironic. “I think I get to make that decision on my own, don’t you agree? Since you know her, let me rephrase. Please introduce me.”

Carre shrugged and shook his head, those pale blue eyes appraising. “Fine. But I’m telling you, she’s not looking. Robert Philliponi has been trying for months. She barely gives him the time of day.”

“I admire her taste already.”

He didn’t care for the man. Philliponi’s name had been linked to several hits, and he was under surveillance. Nick kept his distance as much as possible out of a finely honed sense of self-preservation. No harm in being at the same party like this one, because there were a lot of influential people, from socialites to politicians, but he would never want to hang one-on-one. Bad idea. He didn’t need the association.

Nick followed Carre through the crowd, stopping now and then to greet someone, the room humming with music and dozens of conversations, before they finally reached the corner where his quarry stood talking to an elderly man and another woman. The woman was far too young to be the older man’s wife but had her hand possessively on his well-tailored sleeve. Nick didn’t recognize either one of them.

“Rupert Hanover,” Carre murmured. “You might want to meet him. Owns several trucking companies, which isn’t the most glamorous way to make over fifty million dollars a year, but obviously the blonde is willing to overlook it.”

“Wife?”

“Not yet but give her time. Did you know she used to be married to a state senator?”

“I didn’t know she existed,” Nick said truthfully. And he still didn’t, really, his gaze fastened on the dark-haired woman in the green dress. She turned when she caught sight of them approaching, and she smiled, presumably for Carre, since she didn’t know Nick.

Yet.

Gorgeous green eyes framed by long lashes flashed a glance at him, and then took a long second look.

He looked right back.

“Hurry up and introduce me,” he said under his breath, the evening taking on an intriguing promise.

*   *   *

Even though she’d worn the fuck-me dress, Reign really wasn’t in the mood for a party.

Yes, the glitter of the skyline was gorgeous, the food was no doubt delicious—though she wasn’t all that hungry after her frustrating day—the expensive clothing of the crowd both flamboyant and outrageous, or else extremely tailored, depending on the individual, and usually she liked the sophisticated hum of a gathering like this.… But not tonight.

Therefore, she had very little patience for the over-effusive—yet unmistakably hostile, she was getting the vibe loud and clear—woman stuck to Mr. Hanover. Reign wanted to just say out loud, Don’t worry about it, sweetheart, he’s all yours, but that would be a little blunt even for her, and she’d learned a long time ago that speaking her mind wasn’t always the best idea.

So when she saw Joey Carre approaching, she was infinitely grateful. It wasn’t like they actually worked together, but they crossed paths often in their business and he was pretty much someone she might consider a friend. “Pretty much” meant that she trusted not that many people, and she didn’t trust him exactly, either, but whether it was naive or not—she didn’t distrust him.

Crazy, but then life was pretty crazy most of the time.

The tall man with him was not familiar, and she would have remembered him if she’d seen him before.

For sure.

Nice face. Angular but still handsome enough. Good body, if a girl liked them long and lean and athletic looking. Dark hair, and to her surprise, blue eyes—hardly a pale Scandinavian blue, but a dramatic Mediterranean blue that set off his Italian coloring.

She did her best to not stare.

Great suit. It was her job, after all, so she always had an eye for style. Hand-tailored to his broad shoulders and perfectly fitted. She wouldn’t have picked that tie, but she learned something new every single day; it worked, actually. A midnight hue to match the unusual color of his eyes, the pattern almost so low-key she didn’t notice, but when he approached, she saw it was a shadowy block down the length of the expensive silk. The play of dark color against his white shirt was stylish and made a statement quite different from the vibrancy of her dress.

An opinion of him immediately started to form. She normally liked to be noticed; he didn’t want to be noticed at all.

That was interesting.

It could be that he was pretty noticeable in the first place. Not just his height and those nice wide shoulders, but he had some pretty delicious hair going on—dark and wavy, cut expertly someplace expensive—his jaw slightly square but not too much, his arched brows over those cobalt eyes, and his slightly diffident air didn’t reflect what she thought was a dangerous edge underneath.

She knew dangerous men. Her whole life they’d been there. Godfathers, uncles, cousins … her sixth sense was geared toward feeling the difference between people who made the rules and those that broke them. It didn’t mean they were bad guys.… It wasn’t that cut and dried. It was more how it was all handled. There were rules, and there were rules. Not everyone viewed them the same way, and for that matter, not everyone had the same rules in the first place.

This man was, hands down, a rule-breaker.

The worst sort of man for her.

But fuck, she liked his smile. It was a really boyish mesmerizing curve of his lips, though cute would never apply to his sophisticated image. Maybe it would be better described as deliberate, and as a rule she was absolutely not susceptible to that. She could seduce, but she couldn’t be seduced.

At least before this moment.

“I’m Nick,” he said in a low, smooth whiskey voice. Just a hint of some place other than New York in there. Italy maybe. It was hard to place.

“Reign. Think royalty and not weather.” She took his fingers and judged the tensile strength there. No attempt to convince her he was a man by crushing hers—thank God—but enough pressure to let her know he was interested. She’d already gathered that, yet it was good to know he could play on the nice side of the team.

Unless he needed to play it rough. She hated herself a little for the flicker of interest. All her life, it had been this delicate balance between the good guys and the bad ones, but that wasn’t so easy, she was discovering.

Some men were mostly bad. She’d met them, shunned them, and ran the other way as fast as she could whenever possible. Some thought they were good—she almost hated those self-righteous bastards even more—but she was in her thirties now, and one truth just kept popping up.

No one was all good, and no one was all bad. That was unfortunate. It would make it so much easier to make wise choices.

Around them the room worked, the people moving, the conversations humming, the music playing—something low, Puccini’s “O Mio Babbino Caro,” she thought—and a waiter passed with a plate of stuffed mushrooms, but they both shook their heads.

“Interesting first name,” he said.

“My parents were a little eccentric as a couple.”

He let go of her hand with a deliberate reluctance. “Can you tell me that story over a drink?”

Joey had already left, maneuvering away from them, taking the future Mrs. Hanover and her prey with him. No one could work a room like Joe. It wasn’t like Reign and the new arrival were alone, but apparently he’d read the signs and decided to give them some space.

She read the signs too.

Mr. Fattelli had asked for an introduction. Reign weighed her response, and the pause was long enough for him to acknowledge it. Good. She wanted him to know she didn’t talk to every guy that hit on her. The gleam of amusement in his eyes settled the deal. She said, “Johnnie Walker Black. Rocks, please.”

“I like the lady’s choice. Be right back.”

She watched him go to the bar, saw him flash that killer smile at the female bartender who definitely returned it, and then he was shouldering his way back through the crowd, drinks in hand. He drank bourbon neat, she noted, two fingers in his glass.

“Thank you.” Their fingers brushed as she accepted the drink, and she caught his gaze for a moment.

“Terrace?” he suggested. “It’s a little difficult to carry on a conversation in here.”

She took a sip and nodded. People were watching them already, but she didn’t care too much as he moved back politely to let her walk in front of him through the open glass doors.

A gentleman. That scored him a point.

They were hardly alone there either, but then again, it was a warm clear night. Still, it was a lot more intimate than the jammed apartment. Mostly there were couples, standing around talking.

“Reign?” he prompted, his eyes inquiring. “Your name? You promised me the story.”

She lifted her shoulders. Why not tell him? “My mother’s idea. I think the basic concept was that every single day I should be reminded that I am in charge of my own life. Not to let anyone tell me what to do and when to do it. Reign Supreme. Supreme. Can you believe that is my given middle name?”

“I admit that’s a new one to me. Do you live up to it?” His hand moved his glass casually to his mouth, and he took a small drink, watching her.

Hell yes, I do.

“I think Joey will confirm I do. Tell me, Mr. Fattelli, what do you do?”

“I’m an investment banker.”

“Just that?”

“Mostly.”

A little oblique. Well, maybe he was into finance, but she knew that wasn’t all he was from the dangerous glitter in his eyes.

If he was too evasive, she’d be smart to walk away. Her career was going well, and though not having an active romance wasn’t perfect in her estimation, it wasn’t bad either. She loved her job and people left her alone. She moved in the inner circles but did not actually have to be part of them.

All of it under control. Well, most of the time. The lure of the Life existed. It was practically all she knew. It stood in front of her at the moment in the guise of a handsome man with those striking eyes.… He represented danger, and she had the golden ticket for that ride.

She knew at that moment she was going to go home with him and give him the fuck of the century.

Bad boys were a weakness of hers, and she had the feeling he was a very bad boy indeed. Before he could answer the question, she said abruptly, “No. Don’t tell me. I don’t want to know after all. Is there any chance you want to give me a ride home?”

Playing with Fire is out on April 27th! Get it here!

 

Win All the Little Liars by Charlaine Harris

To celebrate the publication of All the Little Liars by New York Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris, we’re giving away 5 copies of the paperback!

A little bit more about Charlaine Harris’s fabulously fun new mystery . . .

Librarian Aurora Teagarden is basking in the news of her pregnancy when disaster strikes her small town: four children, including her fifteen-year-old brother, Philip, have vanished from the school football field. What’s even more worrisome is the dead body found at their last known location.

While the local police comb the county for the missing children, Aurora and her new husband, true crime writer Robin Crusoe, begin their own investigation. Could the two incidents have something to do with a group of school bullies? Are Aurora’s father’s gambling debts related to the disappearance of her brother? Or could it be that Philip himself, new to town and relatively unknown, is the one responsible?

With Christmas approaching, Aurora is determined to find her brother . . . if he’s still alive.

To enter the giveaway, simply fill in your details below and press enter. The giveaway closes at midnight on 30th April and is open to UK residents only. Don’t forget to read the full T&Cs here as well.


 

Five forbidden love stories

Inspired by the heartrending forbidden love story at the heart of J.R. Ward’s The Chosen, we’ve chosen (ho ho) five of our film favourites . . .


Shakespeare in Love
: Will Shakespeare is suffering from a bad case of writer’s block, and it seems like inspiration will never come – that is, until he meets Viola. Arresting, brilliant and one of his greatest admirers, their love quickly blossoms but is challenged by mistaken identity, backstage drama and the dastardly Lord Wessex . . . A funny, fresh and contemporary take on Shakespeare and his writing, we’ve seen this film countless times and still love it.


Moonlight:
arguably the best film of 2016, Moonlight sheds new light on the forbidden love trope as we follow a young boy, Chiron, coming to terms with his sexuality and racial identity against a backdrop of poverty and violence in contemporary Miami. When he forges a friendship with the charismatic Kevin, Chiron begins to realise just who he is – even if circumstances conspire against their burgeoning relationship. Quietly profound and gorgeously realised, this is a film for the ages.


The English Patient:
When amnesiac WW2 pilot Lazlo de Almásy is pulled from a plane wreckage in North Africa, he finds himself under the care of the beautiful but troubled nurse Hana, who helps him to remember his love affair with the married Katharine Clifton before the war. One of the most sumptuous romantic epics of recent times, and as heartbreaking today as it was on initial release.


All That Heaven Allows: a 50s melodrama that has inspired many other tales of forbidden love (including Fear Eats the Soul and Far From Heaven), the film focuses on the plight of a middle-class widow Cary Scott who falls in love with her much younger gardener (played by Rock Hudson), to the consternation of her snobbish friends and family. Tissues at the ready . . .

 

Harold and Maude: forbidden love is all about breaking down taboos, and this offbeat cult comedy does so with aplomb. When death-obsessed 20-something Harold meets the free-spirited septuagenarian Maude, an unexpected romance blossoms – and though society seems unwilling to accept them, this eccentric couple couldn’t care less.

Free excerpt from Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dragonmark . . .

Tomorrow Sherrilyn Kenyon‘s amazing Dragonmark comes out in paperback! Read an excerpt below… 

—————

Samothraki, Greece 9501 BCE
“The bastards cut his throat. Severed his vocal cords entirely.” Materializing from the frigid depths of his lair, Falcyn cursed as he saw his brother, Maxis, dragging Illarion into his dark den behind
him. For years they’d been searching for their youngest dragon-brother, who’d been captured by humans for who knew what nightmarish horrors. But no trace had ever been found of the young dragonet.

Until now.

So large that he barely fit through the cave opening, Maxis released his hold on their baby brother and allowed Illarion to sprawl across the floor. Blood seeped over his yellowish-orange
scales. Both of his wings lay broken and useless against the cold earthen floor. His breathing shallow as he struggled desperately to stay conscious, Illarion blinked his serpentine yellow eyes slowly. Painfully.
So much needless misery—it radiated from the child to the core of Falcyn’s being. And it made his own eyes turn vibrant red as bloodlust rose
within him. Knowing he couldn’t tend his brother in his native dragon body, Falcyn shifted into the hated form of a human. The moment he did so, Illarion let out a gurgling hiss and rolled into an attack position even though it had to be agony for him to move.

“Easy, little brother.”

Falcyn spoke in their native drakyn—the true language all dragons spoke. One that sounded feral and unintelligible to humans. He held his hand out toward Illarion as a peace offering. While he might temporarily wear the skin of a man, Falcyn was and would always be a dragon in his heart and soul. “You know me. I need this form to heal you. Now calm yourself before you do more harm.”

A single crystalline tear fell from the corner of Illarion’s serpentine eye.

In that moment, Falcyn hated humanity more than he ever had—something he wouldn’t have thought possible. He reached to stroke Illarion’s gray-scaled snout. “Shh . . .”
Illarion backed up, then collapsed. Maxis gasped as he gently nuzzled the much smaller dragon and tucked his own wings against his body. Ignoring the fact that Max was a giant beast of a dragon who
could swallow him whole in his current incarnation, Falcyn shoved Max’s head away. “He’s passed out from the pain, Yaya. Now move your hulking arse so I can help him.”

Max shuffled back to make more room. “Will he live?”
“I don’t know. Where did you find him?”
“I didn’t. He found me.” Guilt and agony haunted Max’s eyes. “He can no longer Bane-Cry. The bastards took his ability to call us when they slit his throat.”
Falcyn ground his teeth as even more unmitigated rage tore through him. “Then we will teach him a new way to call for us. One they won’t be able to stop.”

Max nodded and looked away. “This is my fault.”
“Don’t!”
“It is and you know it. My mother gave him to the humans to get back at me for what I said to her. Had I cooperated . . . given her what she—”
“She would have screwed over the world, and he still would have paid for her cruelty. The lilitu are without the ability to care for their young. You know this. My own mother watched as they sacrificed me on my birth. All it did was teach me that we’re in this life alone, cradle to grave, and make me bitter and disgusted.”

Max swallowed before he spoke again. “Is that why you can take human form when no other dragon can?”

Falcyn didn’t answer his question. It was the one thing he would never speak of. To anyone. No one needed to know anything about him. Not even those he considered his brothers. Nor was he the only dragon who could shift . . . But there were many things his brothers and sisters didn’t need to know about this world.

“His physical injuries are not so bad,” he said, changing the subject. “We should be able to heal him.”
“But?”
“He’s only a child. I fear for the mental damage they’ve wrought.”
“As do I. They were using him to fight in their wars. Riding him like he was a thoughtless beast.”
Falcyn winced. Too bad Illarion hadn’t been a full-grown drakomas. That was the fury the humans deserved. Not the small child who lay helpless at his feet. One who’d been unable to fully fight them and give them the fyrebreath and dragon’s fury they deserved. In that moment, he felt the demon within him rising. It wanted to set fire to the world and watch it burn to cinders. If mankind had any idea how often they tempted him toward destruction they’d never sleep again. Times like this, it took everything he had not to give in to that darkness that burned inside him, calling for the hearts and souls of all sentient beings. Even the gods.

That was what made it so hard to relate to Maxis. Part Arel, he was the direct opposite. He saw only good inside even the most corrupt. It was sickening, really. The way his brother wanted to help others. That innate need Max had to protect and to serve. It was ever revolting. Now Illarion had been given his first taste of humanity. And like Falcyn’s, it had been a most bitter meal. If the dragonet did survive this, he wouldn’t have Max’s blood in him that would want to protect the human vermin who’d tortured him. Illarion’s father was the Greek god Ares. A war god. The humans had no idea what they’d been toying with. With the blood Illarion carried, he would become one of the strongest of their kind once he reached his majority. A dragon of fierce, unmatched powers.

Falcyn’s hand lingered at the brand on his brother’s back where the humans had marked Illarion like cattle. It festered and bled. Sadly, it would leave as bad a scar on his body as this entire ordeal had left on his brother’s psyche. May the gods have mercy on them all. . . .

For Illarion would not.

—————

Need to read more? We feel your pain! Order the PB below, and keep watching Piatkus Fiction for upcoming Kenyon competitions….

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The War Bride, Pamela Hart Excerpt

To celebrate Pamela Hart‘s gorgeously romantic novel The War Bride being shortlisted in the Epic Romantic Novel category for the 2017 RoNAs, we’ve got an excerpt from it for you! Enjoy!

Prologue
13 January 1920

There didn’t seem to be a band playing. And only a few people on the wharf at Dawes Point. A handful of Army types, a man in a suit waiting with a taxi, and the normal number of stevedores lounging around, grabbing a smoko while they waited for their cargo to arrive.

Frank was surprised. The last time a war-bride ship had docked – when his mate Smitty’s girl came out – there had been crowds, an Army brass band, streamers and shouting and crying – even a man with a placard saying, ‘Welcome to your new home, Mavis’. He’d thought about making one of those for Margaret, but now he was glad he hadn’t. He felt silly enough, clutching a bunch of roses in a sweaty hand.

He hoped he’d still recognise her. Two years and four months was a long time, and women did things with their hairstyles. Clothes were different. But surely Margaret’s tall, slender form would stand out the way it had at Reading train station, when they’d said goodbye. Surely he couldn’t mistake that lovely, soft smile of hers for anyone else?

It was hot already, and humid, as Sydney summers always were, but he was ruefully aware that the sweat running down his back wasn’t only from the heat.

Wound tighter than a watch spring, he was. Two years and four months and no giving in to temptation, no matter what. A married man, and he’d stuck to it, and God hadn’t it been hard! But today . . . the house he’d found for them was all ready, the bed made with brand-new sheets. A thorn pricked his thumb and he loosened his grip; not long now.

The SS Waimana loomed closer; still painted in its camouflage colours, even now, fourteen months after the war had ended. Frank blinked, confused. There weren’t any passengers lining the rails – no, wait, there were a couple on the top deck, holding up some kiddies to see. Where were the women? This was supposed to be a war-bride ship. It should have been packed to the gunnels.

The ship was tied up and the gangplank put across the gap. A trickle of passengers came down, but the only young woman who emerged was a redhead. She winked at him as she went past, her hand tucked into a corporal’s arm. That was all – the others were a family group and a couple of men in suits.

Where was Margaret? He checked the letter from the Repatriation Committee again, for the tenth time; yes, the Waimana, arriving January 1920, check shipping news for arrival date. Which he had. Surely she hadn’t got off at Fremantle or Melbourne? Maybe most of the women had been going to Melbourne, and that was why the ship was nearly empty. That would be it. But where was Margaret?

Who could he ask? An Army sergeant was checking off the corporal and his redhead from a list. With the enlisted man’s instinctive avoidance of authority, Frank went instead to a sailor who was securing the mooring ropes at the bow of the ship.

‘My wife was supposed to be on this ship,’ he began.

The sailor hawked and spat into the greasy Harbour water. ‘Soddin’ women.’

Frank ignored his comment.

‘Margaret Dalton?’ he asked.

The sailor looked at the sky and sucked his teeth, thinking. ‘Brown hair? Good looker? About so high?’ He measured against himself. Frank nodded.

‘Yerse, I remember her. There were only a couple without their blokes. She came on board, but she took herself off again. Women – always changing their bluidy minds.’

He’d felt cold like this when he’d been shot, at Passchendaele, in the streaming mud, trying to crawl under barbed wire. The shock had gone through him the same way, exactly.

‘Took herself off . . .’ he managed.

The sailor shrugged and made fast, then circled him to get back on board.

‘Life’s a shit, eh?’ he said as he climbed the gangplank.

Frank threw the roses into the gutter as he walked away. Walked and walked, hot in his good suit (his only suit) and his shiny shoes.

Part of him wasn’t surprised. He’d always known that Margaret was too good for him. Too beautiful, too kind, too loving. He wasn’t worth that kind of girl; a nameless orphan with nothing more than what his two hands could make. But she hadn’t seemed to realise that. Had seemed to think they were on a par, that she was making a good bargain. Had seemed to look forward to a life in Australia.

When she’d walked with him to the station to see him off to the front, she’d cried silently, surreptitiously rubbing the tears away from her face, not wanting to make him feel any worse. They’d only been married a month, then, and parting had been so hard. When they’d kissed goodbye, her soft mouth had been salty with tears.

She’d loved him then, he was certain.

Two years and four months was a long time. Long enough, it seemed, for her to change her mind, even if it was at the last moment.

He’d had letters; but not for a while, now he thought about it. A few months. Maybe that should have made him realise. Made him prepare himself, instead of being side-swiped like this.

She should have warned him. Told him she’d had doubts. He could have reassured her. Hell, he would have gone to England to fetch her if he’d had to.

Unless someone else had changed her mind for her.

The thought of Margaret with another man hit him low and hard, and left him gasping.

He needed a drink. There was a pub on the corner. Not one he’d been in before, but it was open. He went in and hesitated, then ordered a whisky. Beer wouldn’t chase away this shaking feeling inside him; wouldn’t put him solidly on his feet again.

One whisky didn’t, either. He had another, and another. A vague sense that he was spending too much money sent him out the door, jingling the coins in his pocket, along with the key to the house he’d prepared so carefully for Margaret.

It made him sick to think of living there alone. Made him walk faster, as if to outdistance the thought.

He stopped for breath and realised that he’d walked a long way; had taken a familiar path, to Stanmore, and Gladys.

Well, why not? Hell, he’d been faithful the whole time, and what did he have to show for it? Anger rose up in him, finally chasing away the cold, sick dread. If Margaret didn’t want him, there was one who did. Who always had. And there was no reason now that his daughter couldn’t have a proper father.

That thought was the first good one he’d had. It would be wonderful to see more of Violet.

He turned into Cavendish Street and walked up to number 64, Mrs Leydin’s boarding house, where Glad had a room for her and Violet. For a moment, before he knocked, he was afraid that she wouldn’t want him, either. That she’d throw him off because he hadn’t chosen her over Margaret, despite the fact that Margaret was his lawful wedded wife. He was frozen with that fear, for a moment; that he’d be back to being alone in the world, as he always had been until that miraculous day that Margaret had said she would marry him. Alone and forsaken. But he wasn’t alone. Violet would always be his.

His knock would have woken the dead.

It was still early; Glad was on second shift at the biscuit factory, and she hadn’t left for work yet. She answered the door and put her hand to her heart as she saw him; did he look that bad?

‘She didn’t come,’ he said.

Her pale little face flushed and she took his hand almost shyly. ‘I’m sorry,’ she said. That was Gladys. She was sorry, always, at anything that caused him pain. She really loved him. Tears came to his eyes but he didn’t want her to see, so he pulled her into his arms and hugged her. Violet came running out of their room and crowed with delight to see him.

‘Papa!’ she yelled. She barrelled into his legs and he swept her up with one arm, still holding Gladys tightly with the other. He kissed Vi’s cheek and she threw her little arms around his neck. There was nothing like that feeling.

Gladys leaned her head against his shoulder; her love and acceptance soothed the raw wound of Margaret’s rejection.

‘You and Vi should move in with me,’ he said. ‘We’ll be a proper family.’

‘Yes,’ Glad said. She smoothed his hair back and smiled at him. There was a hint of sadness at the back of her eyes, but he concentrated on the smile, mirroring it until the sadness disappeared. ‘A proper family.’

The War Bride is available to buy now! Get it here:

Ebook

Amazon

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WHSmith

And Pamela’s newest book, A Letter From Italy is published in ebook tomorrow!! Pre-order here!

Every Little Thing, Samantha Young Excerpt

To celebrate yesterday’s publication of Samantha Young‘s incredible Every Little Thing we have a special excerpt from the novel! Read on for Chapter 1: 

The early morning was dull, the waves a little rougher, a little more hurried than usual as they rushed the shore, and gulls flew above in a sky that matched the water perfectly in its melancholic gray.

Behind the floor‑to‑ceiling glass of his penthouse suite Vaughn stared out from his boardwalk hotel at the scene and thought how it wasn’t whole without his other senses in play. The boardwalk below, the beach, the ocean, it all seemed but a moving picture. The reality of it was in the caws of the gulls he couldn’t hear behind his expensive triple glazing. The reality of it was in the smells beyond the window— the salt air, the hot dogs, burgers, and the warm sweetness of cotton candy.

That’s what made his boardwalk feel like home.

Home.

Hmm.

He’d come to Hartwell to escape the ugliness he’d left behind in Manhattan. Hartwell was peaceful. Although it had thousands of tourists pouring in every summer, and there was always some kind of festival or celebration going on, there was a tranquility here that crowds of people couldn’t diminish.

Vaughn had needed that serenity. The plan was to soak up all that peace until the time came for him to go back to the center of his business operations in New York.

Somewhere along the way, Hartwell changed from a refuge to home.

Home is where the heart is.

His gaze wandered back outside to the stillness of the boardwalk, and to his utter frustration his heart jumped in his chest at a glimpse of bright auburn hair. He leaned forward to get a better look.

Sure enough.

It was her.

Bailey.

She strode down the boardwalk from the direction of her own establishment, Hart’s Inn, her long hair blowing in the wind. Vaughn pressed closer to the glass, trying to get a better look, but it was impossible from this height.

All he could make out were the jeans she wore tucked into brown ankle boots and the green sweater that was far too thin to be worn this early in the morning.

He frowned. The woman needed to buy a goddamn jacket.

She smiled and he caught sight of her neighbor Iris approaching her. For a moment he envied Iris that smile. It was hard to resist Bailey Hartwell’s smile. It had an effect on people.

On him.

Unfortunately.

Especially since he couldn’t recall a time when that smile had ever been directed at him.

Bailey followed Iris out of his line of sight.

He tried to follow them and smacked his head off the glass. “Fuck.” Vaughn rubbed at his forehead and turned away from the window.

His eyes were drawn to the huge bed across the room where a slender redhead whose name he couldn’t remember was lying sleeping.

One immediate problem was that he saw Bailey everywhere.

He even saw her in other women despite his best efforts to channel his attention elsewhere.

Ignoring the growing ache of longing in his chest, a half-dressed Vaughn took the white shirt that had been pressed and hung up for him off the hanger and shrugged it on. Then he chose a blue silk tie from his collection. His waistcoat and jacket followed suit. Dressed for the day, he strolled over to the bed and leaned down to nudge the redhead awake. She groaned and opened her eyes and instead of clear green eyes that made his blood burn, brown ones stared up at him.

“Time to leave.” He walked away without looking back.

Every Little Thing is out now! Get it here:

Amazon

Waterstones

WHSmith

Win Born of Night and Born of Fire by Sherrilyn Kenyon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To celebrate the release of Born of Vengeance in hardback and Born of Legend in paperback!
To celebrate, we will are giving away the first and second in the League series to ONE lucky reader. To enter fill in your details below and press enter. The giveaway is open to UK residents only and closes at 11:59pm on 19th February. Read the full terms and conditions here.

 

 




NOW CLOSED: Win A Promise of Fire!

A Promise of Fire

To celebrate the publication of the fantasy romance book everyone’s talking about, we’re offering you the chance to win 1 of 5 copies of A Promise of Fire in paperback!

To enter simply fill in your details below and hit enter.

This giveaway is open to UK residents only and closes at 11:59pm on 31st January 2017. Read full terms and conditions here.

A little more about the book . . .

Kingmaker. Soothsayer. Warrior. Mage. Kingdoms would rise and fall for her . . . if she is ever found

In the icy North, where magic is might, an all-powerful elite ruthlessly guided by a glacial Queen have grown to dominate the world. Now rebellion is stirring in the rough, magic-poor South, where for the first time in memory a warlord has succeeded in uniting the tribal nations.

Stuck in the middle is Cat – circus performer and soothsayer – safely hidden behind heavy make-up, bright colours and the harmless illusion of the circus. Until someone suspects she’s more than she seems . . .

Captured by the Southern warlord Griffin, Cat’s careful camouflage is wearing thin. For how long can – or should – she conceal the true extent of her power? Faced with dragons, homicidal mages, rival Gods and the traitorous longings of her own heart, she must decide: is it time to claim her destiny and fight?

 




NOW CLOSED: Win The Trouble With Dukes

The Trouble with Dukes

To celebrate the publication of The Trouble with Dukes, we’re offering you the chance to win one of five copies!

To enter, you simply have to fill out your details below. The giveaway is open to UK residents only and closes at 11:59pm on 24th December 2016. Read the full t&cs here.

Good luck and Merry Christmas!