Friday, July 28, 2017

Tasty Virtual Tour Suddenly Engaged: Lake Haven #3 by Julia London


CanKyra and Dax let go so easily—or has love become a preexisting condition?



SUDDENLY ENGAGED
Lake Haven #3
Julia London
Releasing July 25, 2017
Montlake



Single mother Kyra Kokinos spends her days waiting tables, her nights working on her real estate license, and every spare moment with her precocious six-year-old daughter, Ruby—especially when Ruby won’t stop pestering their grumpy next-door neighbor. At first glance, Dax Bishop seems like the kind of gruff, solitary guy who’d be unlikely to offer a cup of sugar, let alone a marriage proposal.
But that’s exactly what happens when Ruby needs life-saving surgery.

Dax showed up in East Beach a year ago, fresh from a painful divorce and looking for a place where he could make furniture and avoid people. Suddenly his life is invaded by an inquisitive munchkin in sparkly cowboy boots—and her frazzled, too-tempting mother. So he presents a practical plan: his insurance will help Ruby, and then they can divorce—zero strings attached.

But soon Kyra and Dax find their engagement of convenience is simple in name only. As their attraction deepens, a figure from the past reappears, offering a way out. Can Kyra and Dax let go so easily—or has love become a preexisting condition?

Chapter One
Seven years later
July
Leave it to a female to think the rules did not apply to her.
The little heathen from next door was crawling under the split-rail fence that separated the cottages again. Dax, who already had been feeling pretty damn grumpy going on a year now, wondered why she didn’t just go over the fence. She was big enough. It was almost as if she wanted the mud on her dress and her knees, to drag the ends of her dark red ponytails through the muck.
She crawled under, stood up, and knocked the caked mud off her knees. She stomped her pink, sparkly cowboy boots—never had he seen a more impractical shoe—to make them light up, as she liked to do, hopping around her porch several times a day.
Then she started for cottage Number Two, arms swinging, stride long.
Dax watched her from inside his kitchen, annoyed. It had started a week ago, when she’d climbed on the bottom railing of the fence, leaned over it, and shouted, “I like your dog!”
He’d ignored her.
Two days ago he’d asked her, fairly politely, not to give any more cheese to his dog, Otto. That little stunt of hers had resulted in a very long and malodorous night between man and beast.
Yesterday he’d commanded her to stay on her side of the fence.
But here the little monster came, apparently neither impressed with him nor intimidated by his warnings.
Well, Dax had had enough with that family, or whatever the situation was next door. And the enormous pickup truck that showed up at seven a.m. and idled in the drive just outside his bedroom window. Those people were exactly what was wrong with America—people doing whatever they wanted without regard for anyone else, letting their kids run wild, coming and going at all hours of the day.
He walked to the back screen door and opened it. He’d installed a dog door, but Otto refused to use it. No, Otto was a precious buttercup of a dog that liked to have his doors opened for him, and he assumed that anytime his master neared the door, Dax was opening it for him. He assumed so now, stepping in front of Dax—pausing to stretch after his snoring nap—before sauntering out and down the back porch steps to sniff something at the bottom.
Dax walked out onto the porch and stood with his hands on his hips as the girl brazenly advanced.
“Hi!” she said.
She was about to learn that she couldn’t make a little girl’s social call whenever she wanted. There were rules in this world, and Dax had no compunction about teaching them to her. Clearly someone needed to. He responded to her greeting with a glower.
“Hi!” she said again, shouting this time, as if he hadn’t heard her from the tremendous distance of about six feet.
“What’d I tell you yesterday?” he asked.
“To stay on the other side of the fence.”
“Then why are you over here?”
“I forgot.” She rocked back on her heels and balanced on them, toes up. “Do you live there?”
“No, I just stand on the porch and guard the fence. Yes, I live here. And I work here. And I don’t want visitors. Now go home.”
“My name is Ruby Kokinos. What’s yours?”
What was wrong with this kid? “Where is your mother?”
“At work.”
“Then is your dad home?”
“My daddy is in Africa. He teaches cats to do tricks,” she said, pausing to twirl around on one heel. “Big cats, not little cats. They have really big cats in Africa.”
“Whatever,” he said impatiently. “Who is home with you right now?”
“Mrs. Miller. She’s watching TV. She said I could go outside.”
Great. A babysitter. “Go home,” he said, pointing to Number Three as Otto wandered over to examine Ruby Coconuts, or whatever her name was. “Go home and tell Mrs. Miller that you’re not allowed to come over or under that fence. Do you understand me?”
“What’s your dog’s name?” she asked, petting that lazy, useless mutt.
“Did you hear me?” Dax asked.
“Yes.” She giggled as Otto began to lick her hand, and went down on her knees to hug him. “I always always wanted a dog, but Mommy says I can’t have one now. Maybe when I’m big.” She stroked Otto’s nose, and the dog sat, settling in for some attention.
“Don’t pet the dog,” Dax said. “I just told you to go home. What else did I tell you to do?”
“To, um, to tell Mrs. Miller to stay over there,” she said, as she continued to pet the dog. “What’s her name?”
“It’s a he, and his name is Otto. And I told you to tell Mrs. Miller that you are supposed to stay over there. Now go on.”
She stopped petting the dog, and Otto, not ready for the gravy train of attention to end, began to lick her face. Ruby giggled with delight. Otto licked harder, like she’d been handling red meat. Frankly, it wouldn’t surprise Dax if she had—the kid seemed like the type to be into everything. She was laughing uncontrollably now and fell onto her back. Otto straddled her, his tail wagging as hard as her feet were kicking, trying to lick her while she tried to hold him off.
Nope, this was not going to happen. Those two useless beings were not making friends. Dax marched down off the porch and grabbed Otto’s collar, shoving him out of the way. “Go,” he said to the dog, pointing to his cottage. Otto obediently lumbered away.
Dax turned his attention to the girl with the fantastically dark red hair in two uneven pigtails and, now that he was close to her, he could see her clear blue eyes through the round lenses of her blue plastic eyeglasses, which were strapped to her face with a headband. She looked like a very young little old lady. “Listen to me, kid. I don’t want you over here. I work here. Serious work. I can’t be entertaining little girls.”
She hopped to her feet. “What’s your name?”
Dax sighed. “If I tell you my name, will you go home?”
She nodded, her, long pigtails bouncing around her.
“Dax.”
She stared at him.
“That’s my name,” he said with a shrug.
Ruby giggled and began to sway side to side. “That’s not a real name!”
“It’s as real as Ruby Coconuts.”
“Not Coconuts!” She squealed with delight. “It’s Ruby Kokinos.”
“Yeah, okay, but I’m pretty sure you said Coconuts. Now go home.”
“How old are you?”
“I’m a lot older than you,” he said and put his hands on her shoulders, turning her around.
“I’m going to be seven on my birthday. I want a Barbie for my birthday. I already have four. I want the one that has the car. The pink car with flowers on it. There’s a blue car, but I don’t want that one, I want the pink one, because it has flowers on it. Oh, and guess what, I don’t want a Jasmine anymore. That’s my favorite princess, but I don’t want her anymore, I want a Barbie like Taleesha has.”
“Great. Good luck with that,” he said as he moved her toward the fence.
“My shoes light up,” she informed him, stomping her feet as they moved. “My mom says they’re fancy. They’re my favorites. I have some sneakers, too, but they don’t light up.”
They had reached the fence, thank God, before the girl could give him a rundown of her entire shoe collection. Ruby dipped down, apparently thinking she’d go under again, but Dax caught her under her arms and swung her over the fence, depositing her on the other side.
Ruby laughed with delight. “Do that again!”
“No. This is where our acquaintance comes to an end, kid. I don’t have time to babysit you, get it?”
“Yes,” she said.
She didn’t get it. She wasn’t even listening. She had already climbed onto the bottom rail, as if she meant to come back over.
“I mean it,” he said, pointing at her. “If I find you on my side of the fence, I’m going to call the police.” He figured that ought to put the fear of God into her.
“The policemans are our friends,” she said sunnily. “A policeman and a police woman came to my kindergarten. But they never shot any peoples.”
Dax had a brief but potent urge to correct her understanding of how plurals worked, but he didn’t. He turned around and marched back to his cottage.
He didn’t even want to look out the kitchen window when he went inside, because if she’d come back over the fence, he would lose it.
He’d known that family was going to be trouble the moment they’d arrived a few days ago. They’d cost him a table leg he’d been working on, because they’d slammed a door so loudly and unexpectedly that Dax had started, and the permanent marker he was using to outline a very intricate pattern on said table leg had gone dashing off in a thick, black, indelible line down the leg. He’d had to sand the leg down and start again.
Naturally, he’d gone to investigate the source of the banging, and he’d seen a woman with a backpack strapped to her leaning into the open hatch area of a banged-up Subaru. She’d pulled out a box, hoisted it into her arms with the help of her knee, then had lugged it up the path and porch steps to Number Three. She’d been wearing short shorts, a T-shirt, and a ball cap. Dax hadn’t seen her face, but he’d seen her legs, which were nice and long and shapely, and a mess of dark hair about the same color as wrought iron, tangled up in the back of the cap. She’d managed to open the door, and then had gone in, letting the door bang behind her.
Neighbors. Dax was not a fan.
The door of Number Three had continued to bang away most of the afternoon, and Dax had been unable to work. He’d stood at the kitchen sink, eating from a can of peanuts, watching the woman jog down the front porch steps, then lug something else inside. He’d noticed other things about her. Like how her ass was bouncy and her figure had curves in all the right places, and how her T-shirt hugged her. He’d noticed that she looked really pretty from a distance, with wide eyes and dark brows and full lips.
Of course he’d also noticed the little monster, who’d spent most of the afternoon doing a clomp clomp clomp around the wooden porch in those damn pink cowboy boots.
Kids. If anything could make Dax grumpier, it was a cute kid.
He’d turned away from the window in a bit of a snit. Of course he was used to people renting any one of six East Beach Lake Cottages around him for a week or two, and usually they had kids. He much preferred the olds who took up weekly residence from time to time, couples with puffs of white hair, sensible shoes, and early bedtimes. Families on vacation were loud, their arguments drifting in through the windows Dax liked to keep open.
The cottages were at the wrong end of Lake Haven, which made them affordable. But they were at the right end of beauty—each of them faced the lake, and a private, sandy beach was only a hundred feet or so from their front porches. He’d been lucky to find this place, with its unused shed out back, which he’d negotiated to use. He had to remind himself that his setup was perfect when new people showed up and banged their doors open and shut all damn day.
Dax had realized that afternoon, as the banging had undone him, that the woman and kid were moving in—no one hauled that much crap into a cottage for a vacation. He’d peered out the kitchen window, trying to assess exactly how much stuff was going into that cottage. But by the time he did, the Subaru was closed up, and he didn’t see any signs of the woman and the kid.
He’d wandered outside for a surreptitious inspection of what the hell was happening next door when the door suddenly banged open and the mom came hurrying outside. She’d paused on the bottom step of the porch when she saw him. Her dark hair had spilled around her shoulders and her legs had taunted him, all smooth and shapely and long in those short shorts. Don’t look, those legs shouted at him. Don’t look, you pervert, don’t look! Dax hadn’t looked. He’d studied the keys in her hand.
“Hi,” she’d said uncertainly.
“Hi.”
She kept smiling. Dax kept standing there like an imbecile. She leaned a little and looked around him, to Number Two. “Are you my neighbor?”
“What? Oh, ah . . . yeah. I’m Dax.”
“Hi, Dax. I’m Kyra,” she’d said. That smile of hers, all sparkly and bright, had made him feel funny inside. Like he’d eaten one of those powdered candies that crackled when it hit your mouth.
“I wondered about my neighbors. It’s pretty quiet around here. I saw a car in front of one the cottages down there,” she said, pointing.
“Five,” he said.
“What?”
He’d suddenly felt weirdly conspicuous, seeing as how he was standing around with nothing to do. “That’s Five,” he said, to clarify.
“Ah.”
“You’re in Three. I’m in Two.”
He’d been instantly alarmed by what he was doing, explaining the numbering system on a series of six cottages. She’d looked as if she’d expected him to say more. When he hadn’t said anything, but sort of nodded like a mute, she’d said, “Okay, well . . . nice to meet you,” and had hurried on to her car much like a woman would hurry down a dark street with some stranger walking briskly behind her. She opened the door, leaned in . . . nice view . . . then emerged holding a book. She locked the door, then ran past him with a weird wave before disappearing inside.
Dax had told himself to get a grip. There was nothing to panic over.
He hadn’t panicked until much later that afternoon, when he’d happened to glance outside and had seen a respectable pile of empty moving boxes on the front porch and the little monster trying to build a house out of them.
That was definitely a long-term stay. And he didn’t like that, not one bit.
He’d managed to keep busy and avoid his new neighbors for a few days, but then, yesterday, the truck had shown up, treating him to the sound of a large HEMI engine idling near his bedroom window.
He’d let it pass, would have figured it was someone visiting.
But it happened again. Just now.
Dax was in the middle of a good dream when that damn truck pulled in and groggily opened his eyes, noticed the time. It was a good hour before he liked to get up. Was this going to be a regular thing, then? He groaned and looked to his right; Otto was sitting next to the bed, staring at Dax, his tail thumping. “Use the damn dog door, Otto,” he tried, but that had only excited the dog. He jumped up and put his big mutt paws on Dax.
With a grunt, Dax had pushed the dog aside, then staggered into the kitchen. He heaped some dog food into a metal bowl and put it on the ground. In the time it took him to fire up the coffeepot, Otto had eaten his food and was standing at the back door, patiently waiting.
Dax opened the door. He glanced over to Three. The Subaru was gone, and he couldn’t help wonder who was driving that massive red truck. A husband? A dad? Jesus, he hoped the guy wasn’t the chatty type. Hey neighbor, whatcha working on over there?
Yeah, no, Dax was in no mood for more neighbors or barbecue invitations or neighborly favors. But it was becoming clear to him that little Miss Ruby Coconuts was going to make his policy of isolationism really difficult.
Dax got dressed and went out to the shed to work. A few hours later he walked into the kitchen to grab some rags he’d washed in the sink and happened to look out his kitchen window.
The redheaded devil was hanging upside down off the porch railing of her house, her arms reaching for the ground. She was about three inches short, however, and for a minute Dax was certain she would crash headlong into that flowerbed and hurt herself. But she didn’t. She managed to haul herself up and hopped off the railing. And then she looked across the neat little lawn to Dax’s cottage.
“Don’t even think about it,” he muttered.
Ruby hesitated. She slid her foot off the porch and onto the next step down. Then the other foot. She leapt to the ground from there, looking down, admiring the lights in her shoes. Then she looked up at his cottage again.
“Don’t do it, you little monster. Don’t you dare do it.
Ruby was off like a shot, headed for the fence.









Julia London is the New York TimesUSA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of more than forty romance novels. Her historical titles include the popular Desperate Debutantes series, the Cabot Sisters series, and the Highland Grooms series. Her contemporary works include the Lake Haven series, the Pine River series, and the Cedar Springs series. She has won the RT Book Club Award for Best Historical Romance and has been a six-time finalist for the prestigious RITA Award for excellence in romantic fiction. She lives in Austin, Texas.








Thursday, July 27, 2017

Tasty Review Tour With Raffle For Hate to Want You: Forbidden Hearts #1 by Alisha Rai


One night. No one will know.



HATE TO WANT YOU
Forbidden Hearts #1
Alisha Rai
Releasing July 25, 2017
Avon Books


Alisha Rai, one of contemporary romance’s brightest stars, makes her Avon Books debut with the first novel in the sexy Forbidden Hearts series!

One night.
No one will know.

That was the deal. Every year, Livvy Kane and Nicholas Chandler would share one perfect night of illicit pleasure. The forbidden hours let them forget the tragedy that haunted their pasts—and the last names that made them enemies.

Until the night she didn’t show up.

Now Nicholas has an empire to run. He doesn’t have time for distractions and Livvy’s sudden reappearance in town is a major distraction. She’s the one woman he shouldn’t want . . . so why can’t he forget how right she feels in his bed?

Livvy didn’t come home for Nicholas, but fate seems determined to remind her of his presence—and their past. Although the passion between them might have once run hot and deep, not even love can overcome the scandal that divided their families.

Being together might be against all the rules . . . but being apart is impossible.


Despite her ridiculous schoolgirl outfit, she wasn’t the girl she’d been when she left town. Her hair, her clothes, even her attitude was subtly different. He’d watched every change happen over the past decade in a time-lapse video. There was nothing he didn’t like about the differences in her now.
Dangerous.
Right. Right. This was about sex. Nothing else.
She headed down the walkway, the flickering streetlamp in the parking lot burnishing her hair with red and black. She didn’t wobble a bit on her pencil-thin heels, reassuring him that though she’d been in a bar, she wasn’t anywhere near intoxicated.
He got out of the car, taking care to pull his collar up and lower his head, feeling ridiculous as he did so. He was a grown man. Who cared if he had sex with another consenting adult?
Lots of people, starting with his father, but he wasn’t going to think about them right now.
His strides were longer than hers. Her heels and skirt made it difficult for her to do more than mince. He made it to the door a second after she got it open, and followed her in, kicking the door shut behind him. She stripped off her light fall jacket and tossed it on the floor. “Liv—” was all he had a chance to say before she was in his arms, shoving him back.
It was dark, the only light coming in from the crack between the dingy curtains. Her lips pressed against his, and he inhaled the scent of her, each drugging kiss making his head spin. She crawled up him like he was a pole, her arms and legs clutching for balance.
It took him only a second. One second of having those red lips devouring his hungrily, one second of that hot sinner’s body pressing against his own, and all semblance of rational thought flew out of his brain.
Who cared about tomorrow? He was too enflamed to wonder about anything but the here and now. Too excited to even consider this a bad idea. He kissed her back as if he would die if he didn’t get her mouth, licking and sucking and memorizing the very taste of her. He slid his hands over her ass, gripped her luscious cheeks tight, and spun her around, pushing her up against the door.
He ripped his lips away, holding her from him when she might have forced her way back. “How do you want it?” he growled. He had an inkling, from the signals she was broadcasting, but it had been a while since he’d had to read those signals.
“Hard . . .” She scraped her nails over the back of his neck. “Use me. Make me feel it tomorrow.”
The wild look in her eyes was sharper than he’d ever seen it, and it ramped up his own lust. He dragged his hand over her ass, rubbing the fabric against her bottom. “This outfit is indecent.”
Her lids dropped to half-mast, and she arched her back. “You don’t like my clothes? I’m heartbroken.”
“You look like a schoolgirl.”
She tightened her legs around his waist, rubbing up on him. Her heat and wetness was obvious, even through the twin barriers of her underwear and his pants. “A naughty one? Who needs to be punished?”
He should feel ridiculous, but instead his body hardened more, blood engorging his dick. “So naughty.” His hand slipped up her leg to her hip and the strip of fabric there. He used his other hand to arch her back farther, feathering his fingers up her spine. “I could see your ass while you were walking outside.” He traced his hand around the waistband at her back and clenched the fabric in his wrist, pulling the bikini and her tights taut, digging into the folds of her pussy. Her eyes widened.
He tightened his grip. “Were you purposefully strutting around in this skirt, your ass hanging out of it?”
“N-no.”
“You’re lying. Do you know what I do to liars?”
Her nails dug into his skin. “Tell me you spank them.”
A red haze swam in front of his eyes, and he pushed her legs down so she was standing. Then he grabbed her by the waist and spun her around to face the door.
He grasped her by the hips and pulled her to stand with her back in an arch, then flipped up that ridiculous plaid skirt. It took him a second to lower her tights to her thighs. Her red panties barely covered the curves of her ass, making him growl. He didn’t know what bar she’d been in, but he imagined her seated in some dingy smoke-filled dive, anonymous bastards salivating over her tight body. Fuck, all it would have taken was one shimmy, and everyone could have gotten a free show, these tempting round globes exposed but for the silly scraps of fabric she’d put over them.
You have no right to be jealous.
He palmed her cheeks, rubbing his thumbs over the plump flesh. “Do you know how badly I wanted to pull you onto my lap and flip this skirt up the second I saw you?”
“To fuck me or to spank me?”
“Both.”
She arched her back more, her ass wriggling. He didn’t think, merely lifted his hand and smacked one full cheek, his rational, caring side standing far apart and watching in horror. He’d never spanked a woman before. As scrappy as Livvy was, he hadn’t thought she’d like this.
Her moan suggested otherwise.
He got it. He got the appeal of this, with Livvy bent over in front of him, legs spread, skirt lifted, red panties exposed, and the hot flesh of her ass filling his hand. He slapped her other cheek, and she moaned again, louder. Hell. He could see the appeal of literally doing anything with Livvy, to be honest.
“Was that okay?” he had the semblance of mind to ask her.
Her hands had braced against the door, and her fingers curled in. She nodded, her red-streaked hair rippling over her back.
His next tap was harder. “You’ve been so bad, Livvy. Tempting all those men tonight. Tempting me.” He smacked her again. “You’ve never stopped tempting me.”
She whimpered. “I’ll stop.”
“We both know that’s impossible.” He squeezed her left cheek, dropping to his knees behind her. With his teeth, he carefully lowered the panties over her ass to meet the rolled-up waistband of her tights. He stayed there, luxuriating in her body as he pressed soft kisses over each cheek, punctuating each tender touch with a slap of his hand.
When she was rocking back against his mouth, he pulled away. He came to his feet. Unable to take his gaze off her tight body, he walked backward until his knees hit the cheap bed. Nicholas slid down to sit on the floor, his back supported by the bed. The sliver of streetlight illuminating the room highlighted her sweet, reddened buttocks. He tore at his jeans, growling when his hand met his throbbing cock. He needed to jerk off or get in her pussy. Something. Anything. Literally whatever would relieve this ache as soon as possible.
She peeked under her arm and straightened, skirt dropping down to cover her bottom.
A crime, covering that butt.
Livvy stripped off her tights and panties and then turned to face him. “Nicholas?”
He ran his hand down his cock once, then twice when he noted the hunger in her gaze as she watched him fondle himself. He grazed the tip, and his body jerked. “Take off your clothes. Shirt first.”
“Do I have to?” Her breathless question was pseudo-innocent.
“Unless you want to be punished.” How he’d punish her, he wasn’t sure. More spanking? Licking her until she wept with the need to orgasm? Fucking her until she screamed?
These didn’t sound like terrible punishments for either of them.
Her fingers fumbled with the buttons of her shirt, and she undid them one by one, so slowly he knew it was a tease. He tightened his hand on his cock, because he knew if he didn’t, he’d demand she come over here so he could rip the offending material right off her.
She stripped it off her shoulders, leaving her in her bra, her toned belly inviting his lips.
“Now the bra.”
She unsnapped the front snap and drew both cups of red lace away from her breasts. They were perky and lifted on their own, the small handfuls the perfect fit for his palm. Her brown nipples were tight and pointed, giving away her excitement. Her breasts rose and fell, her gaze locked on his hand. He made his pulls slower and more explicit, both to give her a show and to make sure he didn’t blow too quickly.
Her hand dropped to the waistband of her skirt, shoving it down, leaving her completely naked. She licked her lips, making the remnants of her lipstick shiny and vibrant. He imagined those lips wrapped tight around his cock, him whispering, Suck me, while guiding her head over his lap.
He shook his head, trying to shake the filthy image from his brain, and released his cock. “Come here.”

She walked over. Her hand unselfconsciously slid over her belly and pussy. She was wet and hot and plump, nearly hairless, save for a small landing strip. The pot of gold tattooed at her hip was a dark shadow. “Closer.”





Alisha Rai pens award-winning, sexy, contemporary romances and is the first author to have an indie-published book appear on The Washington Post’s annual Best Books list. She spends most of her time dreaming up sexy heroes and heroines, traveling, and tweeting. To find out more about her books or to sign up for her newsletter, visit her Website.




July 27, 2017 New Releases

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Tasty Virtual Book Tour The Dress in the Window by Sofia Grant


A perfect debut novel is like a perfect dress—it’s a “must have” 
and when you “try it on” it fits perfectly. 



THE DRESS IN THE WINDOW
Sofia Grant
Releasing July 25, 2017
William Morrow



A perfect debut novel is like a perfect dress—it’s a “must have” and when you “try it on” it fits perfectly. In this richly patterned story of sisterhood, ambition, and reinvention Sofia Grant has created a story just right for fans of Vintage and The Dress Shop of Dreams.

World War II has ended and American women are shedding their old clothes for the gorgeous new styles. Voluminous layers of taffeta and tulle, wasp waists, and beautiful color—all so welcome after years of sensible styles and strict rationing. 

Jeanne Brink and her sister Peggy both had to weather every tragedy the war had to offer—Peggy now a widowed mother, Jeanne without the fiancé she’d counted on, both living with Peggy’s mother-in-law in a grim mill town.  But despite their grey pasts they long for a bright future—Jeanne by creating stunning dresses for her clients with the help of her sister Peggy’s brilliant sketches.

Together, they combine forces to create amazing fashions and a more prosperous life than they’d ever dreamed of before the war. But sisterly love can sometimes turn into sibling jealousy. Always playing second fiddle to her sister, Peggy yearns to make her own mark. But as they soon discover, the future is never without its surprises, ones that have the potential to make—or break—their dreams.


It was well past time to turn out the light and get some sleep, but Peggy didn’t set the square black Conté crayon down. She took a dainty sip of the bitter, cold coffee left over from the morning—yesterday morning, to be accurate, since it was nearly one-thirty—and made a bold, broad stroke down a fresh piece of newsprint. The piece of wood she’d rigged as an easel—taken from a cabinet face from a building being torn down around the corner—shifted on the bolster on which Peggy had propped it. Too bad they didn’t know any carpenters who might make her a real easel, Peggy thought grimly. Too bad they didn’t know any useful men at all.
            On her little mattress not three feet away, Tommie shifted and rolled, her rosette lips pursed. She was a restless sleeper, as she had been a restless baby—she’d
come into the world uneasy, as though she knew already that she’d be denied a father, denied the perfect charmed life that Peggy had promised her many months earlier, when she’d first made her presence known on a prodigious wave of nausea, harbinger of the difficult pregnancy to come.
            No, nothing about Tommie was easy, and sharing a room with her—and yes, Peggy knew she was lucky to have a room at all, with her sister making up a bed each night in the freezing attic—was a daily torment.
            Another curving black stroke of the crayon, to meet the first. In those two lines were the suggestion of the back, the shoulders, the curve of the hip. Peggy glanced at the latest issue of Vogue, open to a spread titled “The New Blouse-and-Skirt Formula,” featuring full-circle skirts nipped in tight over balloon-sleeved blouses. The first wave of outrage over Dior’s new look seemed to have abated, silenced, perhaps, by the unstoppable tide of women hungry for a bit of glamour. Peggy could sympathize. The wartime fashions, made severe and scant by textile regulations dictated by the War Production Board—had looked all right on angular, thin women like her sister. But on curvy Peggy, they looked downright ridiculous.

            She sketched soft, feathery strokes to suggest a full skirt like the one in the Vogue layout. Underneath the skirt, there would be structured layers of tulle to give it shape, but her drawing would only show the fanciful outline, like a bell, with satin pumps peeping from the bottom. Peggy could wear such a skirt—if she had anywhere to go. She had retained her small waist even after Tommie’s birth, and her bosom remained high and generous. She was still making do with her corset from two years ago, but if she could afford one of the new French-waisted ones, with the tabs that could be cinched tightly . .





Sofia Grant has the heart of a homemaker, the curiosity of a cat, and the keen eye of a scout. She works from an urban aerie in Oakland, California.


Tasty Excerpt Reveal Ready to Run: I Do, I Don't #1 by Lauren Layne


A reality TV producer falling for her would-be star: 
a Montana heartthrob who wants nothing to do with the show.


READY TO RUN
I Do, I Don't #1
Lauren Layne
Releasing Aug 22, 2017
Loveswept



The Bachelor meets The Runaway Bride in this addictive romance novel about a reality TV producer falling for her would-be star: a Montana heartthrob who wants nothing to do with the show.

Jordan Carpenter thinks she’s finally found the perfect candidate for Jilted, a new dating show about runaway grooms: Luke Elliott, a playboy firefighter who’s left not one but three brides at the altar. The only problem? Luke refuses to answer Jordan’s emails or return her calls. Which is how she ends up on a flight to Montana to recruit him in person. It’s not Manhattan but at least the locals in Lucky Hollow seem friendly . . . except for Luke, who’s more intense—and way hotter—than the slick womanizer Jordan expected.

Eager to put the past behind him, Luke has zero intention of following this gorgeous, fast-talking city girl back to New York. But before he can send her packing, Jordan’s everywhere: at his favorite bar, the county fair, even his exes’ book club. Annoyingly, everyone in Lucky Hollow seems to like her—and deep down, she’s starting to grow on him too. But the more he fights her constant pestering, the more Luke finds himself wishing that Jordan would kick off her high heels and make herself comfortable in his arms.





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Damn. Charlie hadn’t been lying about the hot blonde.
The woman walking straight toward him was all tight jeans, high heels, and confi-dence. And hot. Very, very hot.
Charlie muttered something admiring under his breath, and Luke’s gaze flicked to the man beside the woman. Tried to place him. Couldn’t.
Not too many guys around here who wore light-purple shirts and white pants with the same easy comfort that Lucky Hollow residents wore jeans and flannel.
No doubt about it—neither was from around here. Not by a long shot.
The man was a half step behind the woman, and Luke assessed that the woman was calling the shots.
His eyes narrowed as he realized that she hadn’t once wavered in her approach.
She knew what she was after:
Him.
She got closer and Luke saw that the face matched the body. Wide blue eyes, full lips, sassy shoulder-length blond hair that was just tousled enough to make a man wonder how it had gotten that way—to want to be the one to muss it.
Her gaze flicked over him, and Charlie whistled and muttered under his breath. “She just checked you out, man.”
She had indeed, but Luke was far from flattered. It hadn’t been the assessment of a woman checking out a man so much as a predator evaluating its prey.
As though she was evaluating him for . . . something.
Blondie stopped in front of him, and the second her blue eyes locked on his, Luke felt a little jolt of awareness and was irrationally annoyed. It had been a long time since he’d been quite so aware of a woman.
Once, he’d enjoyed the feeling—sexual chemistry was almost the perfect combination of pain and pleasure. A subtle punch in the gut that you wanted to experience again and again.
These days, though, he was having a hard time getting past the pain part. The shitty parts had outweighed the good parts just one time too many. Now he mostly settled for casual hookups with a divorcée a few towns over who was even less interested in com-mitment than Luke was.
He had zero use for attraction to a pretty, bold woman in high heels.
Luke noticed that for a sheer moment she had a slightly off-balance look, as though she too had felt the annoying zip of arousal when their eyes met, but she recovered quick-ly.
Pasting a sunny, generic smile on her face, she stuck out her right hand. “Luke Elliott. I’m Jordan Carpenter. This is my colleague, Simon Nash.”
Good manners had him setting down his equipment and extending his own right hand toward hers even as his brain caught on her name. Familiar, and . . .
Shit. Shit!
He managed to stop from jerking his hand back, but just barely. Instead, he gritted his teeth, gave her hand a perfunctory shake, and then fixed her with a glare. “You’re wasting your time, Ms. Carpenter. And mine.”
Blue eyes narrowed. “Aha. So you did get my emails.”
Those. The voicemails. The letters.
“Sure,” he said with a nod, shoving his hands in his pockets. “Just like I suspect you got the message that I didn’t want to be a part of your show.”
Charlie looked from the woman to Luke and back again. “Show?”
Ryan ambled over, his shit-eating grin telling Luke that this damn woman had already spilled the beans on why she was here. “Luke’s gonna be a national heartthrob.”
“International,” said the blond guy in the purple shirt.
Jordan Carpenter didn’t look at her companion, but all three firefighters did.
The other man gave the sort of easy smile that probably had him making friends easily. Luke didn’t want a new friend.

Especially not one who wanted to use his shitty romantic past for the sake of TV ratings.





Lauren Layne is the New York Times bestselling author of romantic comedies. She lives in New York City with her husband.

A former e-commerce and web marketing manager from Seattle, Lauren relocated to New York City in 2011 to pursue a full-time writing career. She signed with her agent in 2012, and her first book was published in summer of 2013. Since then, she's written over two dozen books, hitting the USA TODAYNew York Times, iBooks, and Amazon bestseller lists.