Thursday, May 25, 2017

New Release-Review, Excerpt & Giveaway: BOYS DON'T CRY by J.K. Hogan


Boys Don't Cry
Author: J.K. Hogan
Publisher:  J.K. Hogan
Release Date: May 25th 2017
Heat Level: 4 - Lots of Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 70,000 words
Genre: Romance

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Synopsis

Mackenzie Pratt is having the worst luck of his life. His apartment building is being torn down, and since he’s jobless and just weeks away from graduating college, he can’t find anywhere else he can afford to live that isn’t a critter-infested dump. As he’s lamenting the very real possibility of job hunting while couch-surfing, he gets an offer from the coworker of his best friend.

An in-demand mobile app developer and heir to his parents’ fortune, Laurent Beaudry is literally an eccentric billionaire. Even though Mackenzie realizes he’s basically living the plot of a cheesy romance novel, he takes the proffered room in Laurent’s Baltimore mansion. He finds his new housemate to be grumpy, brooding, and, at times, incredibly kind and endearing.

Raised by his brother after their father’s death, Mackenzie spent his formative years plowing headlong through school, focusing on little else beyond earning his teaching certification. He’s never taken the time to explore love and relationships, much less sexuality, so when he finds himself being courted by another man, he has no idea what to do. And when he realizes he might actually return those feelings, his life takes a whole new direction.

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J.K. Hogan | Amazon


Excerpt

The house was dark so I couldn’t see much, but what I could see was immaculate, contrary to what Taylor had said. The hardwood floors gleamed in the moonlight, the furniture looked expensive and perfect, and there wasn’t a dirty dish or dust bunny in sight. “I thought you said it was a sty,” I whispered.

“Oh, this? Not this. He only uses a fraction of the house, the suite with his bedroom, living room, library, and office. All of this is just for show,” he said with a sweeping gesture toward the big empty parlor we were facing. “And why are you whispering? He knows I’m coming.”

“I don’t know. It seems so quiet and…undisturbed.”

Taylor’s chuckle had an evil ring to it. “You want disturbed? Follow me.” He cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled. “Mr. Beaudry! It’s me, Taylor. Morrison. From Mindstream. The place you work.”

He made his way down a dark corridor with me dogging his heels. “He doesn’t remember who you are? Where he works?”

“Oh, he knows. But when he’s been staring at code for hours on end and not sleeping, sometimes basic stuff slips his mind. Details like that can be hard for geniuses like him.”

Genius? I didn’t think I’d ever heard that term used to sincerely describe someone. “What does he do again?”

“He’s a mobile app developer. Highly sought after, but right now he works exclusively for us. That was a huge coup for the company.” He stopped in front of a heavy, ornately carved door made of some kind of dark hardwood. He rapped his knuckles on it three times before barging on in, while I hovered in the doorway.

So this was the suite. Taylor had been right. What a mess. We stood in what I assumed was the living room, but it was hard to tell because every available surface was covered in wrinkled clothing, pizza boxes, and empty dishes. A huge fireplace was installed in the far wall, surrounded by shelves and shelves of books. More books than I’d ever seen in one place outside a library. The fire blazed in the hearth, and I was honestly surprised there wasn’t any garbage close enough to it to catch fire. As beautiful as the house was, the mess made my skin crawl. I usually lived in sh*tty apartments, so I was a bit of a neat freak to balance the universe.

“Beaudry? You in here?” Taylor called. There was no answer. “He must be in the bedroom suite.” He headed to a door on the left, like it was no big deal.

Wait! You’re just going to barge into the guy’s bedroom?”

Pausing in his tracks, Taylor looked over his shoulder. “This is no ordinary bedroom. Just because there’s a bed in the corner doesn’t mean it’s some intimate setting. It’s just a giant workspace.” With that parting shot, he burst through the door, once again calling the man’s name.

Trembling from too much alcohol and not enough nerve, I stepped inside the room. I was stunned speechless by the scene before me. Taylor had one thing right—it was no ordinary bedroom. It was the size of three average rooms lined up in a row and probably had double the square footage of the apartment I was getting booted out of. There was indeed a bed, a California king canopy bed off in one corner of the room. A fire was blazing in this suite as well, only I realized that it was the same fire in the same fireplace, which apparently connected the two rooms.

Taylor stood next to what had to be the man’s workspace. There was a giant U-shaped desk adorned with four widescreen computer monitors and various other gadgets typical of an office. However, on one leg of the U, there was a collection of what looked to be every tablet, PDA, smartphone, and any other mobile device known to man. I supposed he had to test his software on each gizmo that was likely to employ it.

Behind the office area was a ginormous TV screen—at least seventy inches—that looked like it would be more at home in a movie theater. Several fluffy couches were set up in a semicircle facing it. It would be amazing to have a movie marathon in this place. And of course, there was every gaming console imaginable to go along with the screen yardage. But…despite all the cool stuff, there was some very weird stuff about the place as well. Besides the office setup and the movie area, all the furniture in the suite looked like it had been bought from a garage sale at Versailles. It was expensive-looking, obviously, but very gilded and frilly. There were also several racks flanking the giant TV that displayed the man’s sword collection.

And then, the murals. The murals were creepy. On at least a couple of the walls above the wainscoting, there were huge, garish wall paintings of nudes in various scenes. Men and women, sometimes in sexual situations, sometimes just hanging out or whatever. But they weren’t like Renaissance or fine art nudes or anything; they seemed to be done by just some random modern artist. I had no idea how the guy could manage to look at them all day every day. Though if it weren’t for those, I’d never leave a place like this either. Speaking of the guy, though, there was no sign of him.

“Where is he?” I was whispering again. It just seemed like the thing to do when you snuck into someone’s bedroom at night. Not that we were really sneaking, but still.

As if in answer to my question, we heard a toilet flush, and a door to my right that I hadn’t even noticed swung open, startling me. The person who came through was pretty much just as unbelievable as the house he lived in. He was tall—very tall—and lanky, but with wide shoulders and well-defined musculature. His hair was just a little too long, like maybe he’d forgotten his last couple of haircuts, and very dark, shot through with a tiny bit of gray. It had to be premature because I doubted he was much more than ten years older than me. His facial features—though thrown in deep shadow because of the low light in the room—were chiseled and angular, too handsome to be fair to the rest of the world. Wire-rimmed glasses perched on the tip of his straight nose, slightly askew. Despite the handsomeness, he had dark circles under his eyes and frown lines around his mouth, as if he hadn’t slept in weeks. And he was wearing Angry Birds pajamas.

When he saw me, his deep-set blue eyes widened and he flinched like I’d snuck up on him. “Who the hell are you?”

I let out a squeaky gasp and backed away toward Taylor because the guy looked f*cking scary when he turned on the full force of that scowl.

“Jesus Christ, Beaudry, relax,” Taylor said. He picked up his briefcase and pulled out a legal-size envelope. “This is my friend Mackenzie. I was driving him home, and I just popped in to drop off these contracts from Harrelson.”

Beaudry grunted and crossed the room to sit at his desk. He waved a hand in the vague direction of a stack of shelves. “Just put them in the inbox. I’ll deal with them later.”

“If you look them over now, I can take back any questions or return them…”

He glared at Taylor over his shoulder, and Taylor wisely shut his mouth. Then the man’s gaze settled on me. It wasn’t the scowl he’d given me earlier, but it wasn’t exactly a…nice expression either. It was more of an assessing glare than anything. “Welcome to Chatham House, Mackenzie. What do you think?” he asked.

I had no idea what he meant. What did I think of the house? The room? Him? “It’s…impressive. The artwork is…unusual.”

He let out a belting laugh that I hadn’t been expecting, so I jumped, but then the rich baritone of it made my toes curl. It was an odd reaction, as I wasn’t usually affected by such things.

“Unusual is a kind way of putting it. The artwork came with the house, along with much of the furniture. I just haven’t gotten around to redecorating.”

“Oh, that’s…” . “How long have you lived here, then?”

Beaudry turned back to his computer and began typing furiously. “About five years,” he answered without turning back around.

I choked on air, and Taylor snorted. “I think by ‘haven’t gotten around to it,’ you mean ‘just don’t give a sh*t,’” he muttered.

“Touché, Mr. Morrison. Is there anything else you need?”

Taylor sighed, probably realizing that the man was not going to look at whatever was in the envelope while we were still there to relay any messages back to Mindstream. He clamped a hand around my wrist and started dragging me toward the door. “All right, we’re going. Remember, drinks at the King’s Shield next Friday.”

“I don’t think I’m going to be—”

Taylor spoke right over Beaudry’s muttering. “You already said you would. No backsies. I can pick you up.”

“I think I’d enjoy driving my shiny Lotus instead, but thank you very much for the offer,” Beaudry growled. “Nice meeting you, Mack,” I heard him call through the open door.

“Nickname basis already?” I laughed to Taylor.

“That has nothing to do with nicknames and everything to do with your name being too long for him to remember.”

“I heard that, Morrison!”

Carra's Review

A bit unconventional and quirky is how I would describe Laurent Beaudry.  Somewhat reclusive, he’s pretty closed off from the world but when necessary can join in with others without seeming like that crazy guy when he does.  Mackenzie is determined to succeed, and has worked hard to reach his dream job as a teacher.  I love that he is sensitive and emotional, those qualities really endeared his character to me.  He’s a bit down on his luck at the start of the story before Laurent steps in to lend a hand…even if he’s a tad inappropriate at times as he and Mackenzie are getting to know one another.

Laurent (“Laurie” as he tells Mackenzie to call him) seems to be attracted to Mackenzie from the start, and quickly falls for him.  Mackenzie on the other hand has never really been with anyone-man or woman-and doesn’t expect the budding attraction he feels for Laurie and doesn’t quite understand it either.  At first the two of them are awkward together while Mackenzie is working through the fact that he’s doing things with a guy (!), but as the story goes on they both become more comfortable with each other and slowly shift toward a real relationship.

There’s a bit of tension caused by Laurie’s uncle, but it only seems to come up once then we really don’t hear anything else about it—making it a bit of an unresolved thread in the story.  Some more drama comes in the form of Mackenzie’s brother, River, as well as his best friend, Taylor.  In addition, there seems to be some tension between River and Taylor too, enough to make me curious if there’s something more there to be explored.

This story was pretty entertaining, and it definitely piqued my interest for more from this author.  Boys Don’t Cry was a solid 4-star read for me and a great way to spend an afternoon reading.  There is adult language and M/M sexual content, so that puts this book in the 18+ category.  A bit sweet, a bit funny, a tad angsty, and overall an enjoyable read.


Meet the Author

J.K. Hogan has been telling stories for as long as she can remember, beginning with writing cast lists and storylines for her toys growing up. When she finally decided to put pen to paper, magic happened. She is greatly inspired by all kinds of music and often creates a “soundtrack” for her stories as she writes them. J.K. is hoping to one day have a little something for everyone, so she’s branched out from m/f paranormal romance and added m/m contemporary romance. Who knows what’s next?

J.K. resides in North Carolina, where she was born and raised. A true southern girl at heart, she lives in the country with her husband and two sons, a cat, and two champion agility dogs. If she isn’t on the agility field, J.K. can often be found chasing waterfalls in the mountains with her husband, or down in front at a blues concert. In addition to writing, she enjoys training and competing in dog sports, spending time with her large southern family, camping, boating and, of course, reading! For more information, please visit www.jkhogan.com.

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Spotlight-Excerpt & Giveaway: LYRICS HEART & SOUL by Anne Marie Citro

Ryder thought he was going to lose his mind.
Instead Francesca helped him find his heart & soul
Lyrics Heart & Soul Book Cover
LYRICS HEART & SOUL
Anne Marie Citro
Series: Sistas Book 2
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult Romance
Publication Date: December 4, 2016
One of America's most reclusive rockers, Ryder Vaughn, gets an unusual sentence handed down to him. The judge, hoping to teach him the value of human life, sentences him to ten months of community service at Reach Within Centre for individuals with special needs. Ryder is convinced that, if he isn't crazy already, he will be by the time his sentence ends. However, his only other option forfeits his band's livelihood.
Five minutes after stepping into the centre, his entire life changes when he meets a gorgeous, little spitfire who will challenge everything he has ever believed about himself and the world around him.
Francesca's devotion has always been to her family, friends, and the job she is passionate about. Her life hasn't been easy. She sacrifices a lot for the ones she loves and for her dream to visit Italy.
Then Francesca finds herself in a desperate situation, and the tattooed beast who is serving his debt to society must save the headstrong woman from a secret that could destroy her. In turn, Francesca teaches Ryder, if you love something enough, it's worth fighting for.
Ryder knows he isn't worthy of love, but this incredible beauty makes him want it.
Ryder can save Francesca from her secrets, but can she save him from his? Is Ryder strong enough to endure the kids she loves and her crazy Italian family?
Ten months can fly by or it can last an eternity.
"This beautifully written novel weaves a story of courage, independence and redemption while pulling on your emotional heart strings through music."
- Annette Cosentino, Amazon Reviewer
"What I love about Citro is she puts so many beautiful life lessons in her books. This one focused a lot on special needs children and how everyone, especially those who are the hardest, need and deserve love"
- Kristin Campbell, Goodreads Reviewer

Purchase Links

Excerpt

In the classroom, Mason walked over to his desk and flipped it, causing Ryder to take a defensive pose, ready to take on the little punk. 

Julianna motioned for Ryder to leave, but he shook his head, negating that idea. When she did it again, he again shook his head. 

Was she crazy? He wasn’t leaving two women in there with an out of control kid. 

When Mason walked to the next desk and flipped it, Francesca started talking to the kid.

“Mason, come on. I get it. You’re pissed. But talk to me. Let me help.” 

“F*ck off, Frankie! I don’t want to hurt you. Get out!” 

Francesca got her cue from Julianna to leave the room when Mason went back to destroying the classroom, and Ryder followed. 

Mason was in a blind rage by the time they had cleared the room. Everything in his path was thrown as they watched from the windows by the door. 

“What set him off this time?” Mrs. Ramara asked as she joined their little pow-wow. 

“Came off the bus bent,” Francesca answered. “You could see it in his eyes. He was gearing for a fight. It’s a full moon.”

Mariana huffed. “I forgot. I guess I’m going to have a busy day. We got lucky last month since it fell over the long weekend before school started.”

They stood there, watching for twenty minutes. Ryder was blown away. The kid was destroying everything in his path, and they were blaming the moon cycle? The kid needed a good beating to put him in his place. 

Eventually, Mason started to slow down, tired now that he had done a lot of damage. 

“I’m going in,” Francesca declared.

Ryder grabbed her arm. “Like hell you are.” 

Mariana scowled at his hand on Frankie’s arm. “She’s doing her job, Mr. Vaughn. If you can’t handle it, then go to the library with the other students and staff.” 

“I’m not leaving her after everything that kid just did.”

Francesca could see the feral look in his eyes. He was terrified for her. He just didn’t understand how these kids could lose it on a dime, and then once it was done, it was done and they moved on. Francesca knew one month had not exposed him to enough, but if he made it through this first major blow out, he would learn. She also didn’t want to jeopardize his sentence with Judge Belmore. 

“Ryder, I’m okay, I promise. Mason is okay now. I have to reach him in the downwards spiral to see if I can prevent it from happening again. If he starts to lose it, I’ll get out. Promise.” When she saw she wasn’t reaching him, she said, “Look, you can’t blame him. It’s the result of the brain damage done to him as a baby. This isn’t his fault. It’s not that he is a bad kid; he’s just the product of a bad life. Trust me to do what’s right for him and me.”



Lyrics Heart & Soul Teaser Graphic

Other Books by Anne Marie Citro

Don't miss the other books in the Sistas series:
Under Her Wings Book Cover
UNDER HER WINGS
Series: Sistas Book 1
Have you ever wondered why you were so lucky? Then you wake up to find every you cherished is gone. You don't fit into your life without the people who defined it. So, you run. You run as fast and as far as you can. Then you smash into them!
"This book is for the hopeless romantic, who believes everyone should get their happy ending. Even when happiness seems unattainable."
- Amazon Customer, Amazon reviewer
Thicker Than Blood Book Cover
THICKER THAN BLOOD
Series: Sistas Book 3
Can Caden put aside all of the hurt he suffered because of Dakota while trying to save her life? Dakota could die but she needs answers before she goes. Can she trust the man she thought would always be hers? Fate has a way of making you see the truth.
New Release! Available now on: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | iBooks

Giveaway

WIN ONE OF TWO
$20 AMAZON GIFT CARD
Lyrics Heart & Soul Giveaway Graphic
Contest runs from May 9 - June 7, 2017.


About Anne Marie Citro

Anne Marie Citro grew born and raised in the greater Toronto area of Ontario, Canada. She grew up in a large, loving family. Anne Marie is married to a very patient man. He is the love of her life. They have four very cool sons, and the girls they brought into their family that have become daughters of her heart. She has been blessed enough to finally have a beautiful granddaughter after four sons. She has her own personal gaggle of girlfriends, who enrich her life on a daily basis and make her laugh. Caesar Friday is her favorite day of the week. Caesars with the girls and date night with her hubby. She works with special-needs teenagers, that have taught her how to appreciate life and see it through gentler eyes.
Anne Marie was encouraged by her husband to follow her lifelong dream to write. She loves the characters that take over imagination and haunts her dreams. She loves the arts and she has tried her hand at painting, wood sculpting, chainsaw carving, wood burning, metal and wire sculptures. Yes, her husband is a very patient man! Anne Marie is an avid reader and enjoys about three books per week. But nothing makes her happier then riding on the back of her husband's Harley and throwing her arms out and feeling the wind race by. Anne Marie and her husband take a few weeks every year to travel to spectacular destination around the world. Anne Marie is excited and can't wait to see what the next chapter holds for her life.


Book Tour Schedule

Follow the book tour from May 25 - June 7, 2017.
Discover more features, excerpts, reviews, interviews, fun facts and other extras on the tour.
To check the latest tour schedule, visit the Lyrics Heart & Soul Book Page at Book Unleashed.
Lyrics Heart & Soul Tour Graphic

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Excerpt Reveal & Giveaway: I KNEW YOU WERE TROUBLE by Lauren Layne (Oxford #4)


I Knew You Were Trouble
Oxford #4
By: Lauren Layne
Releasing June 13, 2017
Loveswept


New York City’s hottest bachelors are stirring up trouble in this fun, flirty Oxford Novel, as a love triangle forces a feisty beauty to choose between winning back Mr. Right or giving in to Mr. Wrong.
Taylor Carr has it all—a sleek job in advertising, a stunning Manhattan apartment, and the perfect man to share it with: Bradley Calloway. Even after Bradley dumps her for a co-worker on move-in day, Taylor isn’t worried. She’ll get her man eventually. In the meantime, she needs a new roommate. Enter Nick Ballantine, career bartender, freelance writer—and longtime pain in Taylor’s ass. Sexy in a permanent five-o’clock-shadow kind of way, Nick knows how to push Taylor’s buttons, as if he could see right through to the real her.
Nick’s always trying to fix people, and nobody could use a good fixing more than Taylor. Sure, she’s gorgeous, with mesmerizing silver eyes, but it’s her vulnerability that kills him. Now that they’re shacking up together, the chemistry is out of control. Soon they’re putting every part of their two-bedroom apartment to good use. Then Taylor’s ex comes crawling back to her, and Nick figures she’ll jump at the chance to go back to her old life—unless he fights for the best thing that ever happened to him.



Buy Links
AMAZON | BARNES AND NOBLE | GOOGLE | iTUNES | KOBO     



Bradley froze when he saw her, and she was pretty sure she saw the urge to turn and run flicker across his face.
Again she felt a stab of disappointment. In him. And in herself for apparently having misread him. She’d thought he was better than this.
Bradley’s eyes moved between her and Nick, and though he didn’t look all that surprised at seeing them bickering, his gaze grew hard as he saw Nick’s hand on Taylor’s face.
Nick, naturally, took his sweet time removing it, and she resisted the urge to kick his shin.
“Morning, Bradley,” Taylor said, pleased that her voice sounded calm and friendly. As well it should. She’d had plenty of practice over the better part of a year pretending that she and Bradley were nothing more than colleagues.
Other than a few close friends who knew they were dating, they’d done a mostly decent job of hiding their romantic relationship from coworkers. Better than she and Nick had done hiding their antagonistic one.
“Hey, Taylor. Nick,” Bradley said.
He entered the room and reached for a coffee mug, turning his attention toward the other man. “Didn’t realize you’d taken on another assignment. What for?”
“Not sure,” Nick said, checking his watch. “Have a meeting with Cassidy in a few to find out.”
“Here’s hoping it’s an offsite gig that takes you far, far away. Maybe he needs someone to cover Siberian winters,” Taylor said to Nick, even as she watched Bradley out of the corner of her eye.
“Don’t need to travel to find severe winter. It doesn’t get any chillier than right here,” Nick retorted, waving his hand over her head in a storm cloud gesture.
She shoved his hand aside, her attention still on Bradley, who was determinedly avoiding her gaze.
Coward.
It was going to be darn hard to get him to see reason when he wouldn’t even make eye contact.
Nick, ever too perceptive for his own good, noticed the tension and gave a quick look between her and Bradley, his gaze turning speculative.
She shot him a warning look that clearly said, Don’t.
He shot an answering smile that clearly said, Watch me.
“Bradley, don’t suppose you’re in the market for a roommate?” Nick asked, his voice deceptively casual.
Bradley’s head snapped up, and finally, finally his blue gaze collided with Taylor’s. Dammit. Why did he have to be so beautiful? He was like a mischievous angel, all twinkling blue eyes, dimples, a sexy cleft in his chin, dark blond wavy hair . . .
“What?” he asked Nick distractedly, still looking at Taylor.
“Taylor here wants to share her original crown molding with someone.”
Bradley winced, and Taylor felt a little surge of gratitude toward Nick. He couldn’t have known it, but it was the perfect jab. She and Bradley were both into prewar architecture—had eaten up the broker’s description of all the building’s original elements.
Taylor should be sharing that crown molding with Bradley. And he damn well knew it.
His eyes met hers in silent misery—an apology that she wasn’t quite ready to accept. Heck, she wasn’t even ready to acknowledge it, because she had no intention of being dumped. Not by him, not by any man.
Taylor ignored the guilt written all over Bradley’s face as she held his gaze. “Yes, it seems I unexpectedly have a free bedroom and more rent than I can afford. If either of you knows anyone looking for a roommate . . .”
Bradley’s handsome face twisted regretfully, and he set his coffee aside, taking a step toward her, apparently forgetting—or not caring—that Nick was still in the room.
“Taylor. Damn it. I told you—”
“Actually, I do,” Nick said, interrupting.
Taylor forced her gaze away from Bradley’s pleading face toward Nick’s smug one. “You know someone who needs a roommate?”
“Yup.” He crossed his arms and watched her.
She made an impatient gesture with her hand. “Who? It can’t be one of your ex-girlfriends—I don’t want to inadvertently hear any gross details about you. And not one of your frat-boy guy friends—my living room isn’t cut out for Call of Duty.”
“Yeah, because that’s all I do all day.”
She rolled her eyes. “Okay, for real, who is it?”
His grin was slow, sly, and the very definition of trouble. “Me.”

Author Info

Lauren Layne is the New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen romantic comedies.

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 lives in midtown Manhattan with her high-school sweetheart, where she writes smart romantic comedies with just enough sexy-times to make your mother blush. In LL's ideal world, every stiletto-wearing, Kate Spade wielding woman would carry a Kindle stocked with Lauren Layne books. 



Preorder Giveaway:  Enter to Win 1 of 4 $25.00 Amazon Gift Cards *No Purchase Necessary


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Review, Excerpt & Giveaway: BY THE NUMBERS by RJ Scott (Sanctuary #10)



Buy Links: 



Paperback: 



Length: 37,400 words

Cover Design: Meredith Russell


Sanctuary Series

Guarding Morgan (Book #1) Amazon US | Amazon UK

The Only Easy Day (Book #2) Amazon US | Amazon UK

Face Value (Book #3) Amazon US | Amazon UK

Still Waters (Book #4) Amazon US | Amazon UK

Full Circle (Book #5) Amazon US | Amazon UK

The Journal of Sanctuary One (Book #6) Amazon US | Amazon UK

Worlds Collide (Book #7) Amazon US | Amazon UK

Accidental Hero (Book #8) Amazon US | Amazon UK

Ghost (Book #9) Amazon US | Amazon UK



Blurb

Secrets and lies threaten Brandon and Daniel's new love.

Brandon Hoselton is running scared, finding security in his obsession with patterns and numbers. With his family threatened, he feels he has nowhere left to go, and even considers ending his life to keep them safe. Until Sanctuary, in the shape of the enigmatic Daniel Karnes, gives him a reason to stay alive and offers the possibility of a future free from fear.

Former SEAL Daniel is new to Sanctuary, tasked with watching Brandon, a brilliant geek with way too many secrets. Falling in love with quirky Brandon is easy; now he just has to make sure secrets don't end up with them both dying.

The only way of destroying Varga is to cut the crime boss's money, and the two men become part of an intricate take-down involving millions of dollars. But Brandon has a secret he can never share with Daniel, and their new love is at stake.

When the villain has murder in mind, sometimes the only way to stay alive is to lie.


Excerpt

Brandon took down the drapes in his room as soon as he was able to. He could have asked his sisters, but they didn’t know just how badly looking at the geometric pattern in the fabric upset his equilibrium. They knew he was weird; most sisters thought their big brothers were weird. But he also had twitches and nervous tics about certain things, and they’d seen it all, even though his list of crazy was something he could manage now.

They didn’t need to know he’d spent three hours last night counting the squares on the drapes and being irritated to the point of stimming that they weren’t even and the stitching was wrong. And Jesus, stimming—having to move his fingers, loosen his muscles, anything to ground himself—he hadn’t done that in years.

And hell if he was going to ask Daniel into his room to help him, because Daniel was someone Brandon did not want in his space. Not taking down drapes, or talking to him, or even breathing near him. There was only so much of Daniel that Brandon could take, because when he was anywhere near him, he lost his ability to form coherent sentences. He didn’t have time to have these powerful feelings of lust that kept hitting him.

Like the time he and Daniel had met on the landing and Daniel had been in just a towel. They’d only been together a few days, but Daniel was funny, and sexy, and dangerous, and exactly everything Brandon should be avoiding in his life.

He had way too much to worry about, and a date written in his memory that he wouldn’t forget any time soon. The deal he had—to stay alive, to hide himself away, and then to present himself to Varga—was just about the only thing that filled his thoughts.

Varga thought that, on a given date, Brandon would join him in his huge mansion, pull together all the funds Varga had hidden in various places, and then join him in whatever country the US didn’t have an extradition treaty with.

Like hell he would. He was meeting with Varga, getting all his money, dispersing it to the right causes, and sending any intel he could get out to the authorities.

And then Varga would kill him for doing that.

Inevitable, really, and something he’d come to terms with. He’d blown his chance to do this when he’d worked for Varga, so he had to make up for it. He was doing the right thing.

He’d been biding his time in Hope, but had been unfortunate to be scooped up by Sanctuary. He just needed to work out a way to get away from them, and in particular Daniel, but he had about ten days to go yet until that magic date when Varga had decided he would be leaving the country.

For now, Sanctuary was safe for him and his sisters.

So yeah, choosing to avoid having Daniel in his room, with his probing questions and his distracting body, was an easy decision to make in among all that crap.

The only downside was that it meant he had to take the drapes down himself.

Trying to shoot himself hadn't gone so well; instead of being dead and gone, he had a through shot and muscle damage which hurt like knives in his skin. He waited until day four, when the pain in his shoulder had lessened to the point where he could at least manage to get out of bed and to the window but he couldn’t handle looking at those drapes any longer.

Today he actually felt capable of dealing with drapes he didn’t need anyway. There were blinds at the windows, and behind the blinds each window was coated so you could see out but no one could see in. He pushed the offending fabric under the bed and clambered back to a standing position, wincing in pain as he banged his shoulder, and sat on the edge of his bed.

The drapes were still there—he could picture them under the bed—and exasperated, he lay back on the mattress and attempted to think of something else. Blue skies, blue mugs, blue eyes. Anything blue, because it was a color that calmed him.

He lasted about a minute.

Huffing, he rolled up carefully and reached under the bed, pulling out the drapes and screwing them into a ball. Opening his door, he threw them out onto the landing, not even checking if anyone was standing there.

Daniel. Of course it would be Daniel, who reacted like a ninja and had the drapes under submission in seconds.

Once they were dead, or at least overpowered with some sort of karate move, Brandon felt like he should apologize.

“My bad,” he said, and shut the door in Daniel’s face.

He expected the knock, but hadn’t quite decided what he was going to say to Daniel when he came in. Maybe if he ignored the request to enter and said nothing, then Daniel might go away.

Daniel knocked again, and this time instead of waiting for Brandon to say he could come in, he pushed his way in, looking irritable. He was shirtless, his hair wet—evidence of a recent shower—his sweats hanging low on his hips and every muscle deliciously tight and toned.

“What the hell, Brandon?” he asked, his dark eyes angry, his lips in a set line. He wasn’t holding the drapes, so Brandon counted that as a win.

“I didn’t want them up at my window,” Brandon explained, and eased himself down into the chair by his bed. He was most comfortable there; he could see out the window and it was easier to keep the pressure off his injury.

“So you decided to throw them in my face?” Daniel sounded less pissed and more confused about getting fabric in his face.


Brandon indicated the door. “To be fair, I didn’t know you were there.” Then he couldn’t resist, “And you heroically subdued them so fast, I knew you could handle the danger.”


Carra's Review

The thing I love about this series is the great balance between action, suspense, and romance.  The other thing that keeps me coming back for more?  The characters.  This time around, Brandon was the one who captured my focus.  He has his quirks, is incredibly intelligent, and is fiercely protective of his sisters—he’ll do anything to keep them safe, even to his own detriment.  He keeps himself centered through repetitive mannerisms such as reciting prime numbers or moving his fingers in particular patterns, known as “stimming”, which keeps him calm and focused.  I found myself drawn to him from the very first chapter, and found myself feeling protective of him just like Daniel.

Daniel knows his job, does it well, and is one of those perfect alpha military males that will have you sighing and swooning.  I thought he was a great match for Brandon, and that the two of them slotted together perfectly.  And while lines may become blurred while they’re holed up in the safe houses, Daniel easily snaps back into Sanctuary protector mode when he has to in order to do his job.

The action is mostly confined to the last part of the story when all of the drama with Varga comes to a head (and let me just interject with an “ewww…” when it comes to that nasty old man…).  Brandon is willing to sacrifice himself to save everyone else, and it’s the excitement of Daniel trying to avoid that fate that had me glued to the pages during those climactic scenes.  

While By the Numbers is part of a ten book series and should not be read as a standalone, you can actually enjoy the story by picking up at book 8, Accidental Hero as that is where this particular story arc begins.  I would personally recommend starting at the beginning of the series so you can meet all of the Sanctuary men and understand their relationships though, as I do believe it will enhance your enjoyment of the overall series (and all of the stories are all pretty great!).


By the Numbers gets 4.5 stars from me, the only part that had me rolling my eyes a little bit was near the end on the plane where I thought the last bit of “excitement” was a tad too much on top of the rest of the story…but otherwise, this book and the entire series I’ve marked as highly recommended, especially to fans of M/M romantic suspense.  This story is for readers 18+ for adult language and a bit of M/M sexual content.  


Author Bio

RJ Scott is the bestselling romance author of over 100 romance books. She writes emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men and women who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn't with family either reading or writing.

The last time she had a week's break from writing she didn't like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn't defeat.




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