Tuesday, November 13, 2018

MEANT FOR YOU by Layla Hagen


About MEANT FOR YOU

Will Connor lives his life by simple rules: take care of those he loves, give one hundred percent to his job, and never ignore his instincts. So when he meets Paige, he doesn't plan to ignore their crazy chemistry, or the way her pretty smile strips him of all defenses…
As the development director of a nonprofit, Paige Lamonica has met her fair share of people. But Will is something else entirely. The sexy detective is a little too confident. With sculpted muscles and a chiseled jawline, he's also far too easy on the eye. She loves that he goes toe-to-toe with her at every turn.
When Will asks her to attend his sister's wedding with him, Paige thinks he just wants to throw some relatives who want to play matchmakers off his scent.
She couldn't be more wrong. Will wants her.
When she teases him, he teases her right back. When she pushes his buttons, he repays her with dangerously hot flirting...and even hotter kisses.
As they spend more time together, Paige discovers there's more to Will than she thought. With every layer she peels away, she craves more…
But as the daughter of an Army man, Paige has never wanted to get involved with someone on the force.
Can Will persuade her to explore their growing connection with him?

Get your hands on MEANT FOR YOU now:

Add MEANT FOR YOU to Goodreads!

Want to win?

Layla Hagen has a great giveaway for running on her facebook page and her instagram - head on over to check it out!

About Layla Hagen

Layla Hagen is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance.
She fell in love with books when she was nine years old, and her love affair with stories continues even now, many years later.
She writes steamy and romantic stories and can’t wait to share them with the world.
She is represented by fabulous Louise Fury (The Bent Agency)

Saturday, November 10, 2018

A Splash of Vanilla (Three Sisters Catering #3) by Bethany Lopez



Today we are celebrating the release of A SPLASH OF VANILLA by Bethany Lopez. 

A Splash of Vanilla is the third book in the contemporary romance series, Three Sisters Catering. Check out the buy links for the book below, along with an excerpt from the book.



 

A Splash of Vanilla by Bethany Lopez

(Three Sisters Catering, #3)

Purchase it Now

Add the book to Goodreads

Synopsis:

For the past year, Dru has put everything she has into building a catering business with her sisters. She’s so used to working until all hours of the night with them by her side, that when they both find love and move out, Dru decides to focus on something that has always weighed on her… finding the father who’d abandoned them.
For the past year, Mick has been living the good life. A content bachelor with his own business as a private investigator, he enjoys making his own decisions and answering to no one. When a couple of clients-turned-friends bring him in contact with Dru, his first thought is that he wouldn’t mind getting her alone for a night, but when she hires him, that spark is extinguished. Mick doesn’t mix business with pleasure.
When their lives become constantly entwined, Dru becomes more and more determined to get Mick to break his rules. Will they discover that even a seemingly perfect dish, can be made better with the right amount of spice, or are they too set in their ways?


Review:


Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I am sad to see the series ending. I love Bethany Lopez's books and this one was not an exception. I have high hopes that another set of siblings we were introduced to in this book will get a series and in this way, we will be able to see more of the three sisters. They are all men, so I think it will be fun to see them fall in love. 

If I am not wrong, the timeline of A splash of vanilla, in the beginning, overlaps the timeline from the previous book, so some events might seem familiar to the people who have read A Touch of Cinnamon. If you have not read the previous books there is no need to worry since this book is completely a stand-alone. Keep in mind though, that since there is an overlap in the timelines this book has spoilers for the 2 other books, so if you plan on reading the series, start from the beginning. 

There is some slow burning between Mick and Dru because Mick has a rule that he is not going to date his clients and hence, she is off limits to him. The attraction is there though and thankfully we didn't spend more than half the book wondering when they were going to decide to be a couple. After that point, everything was great and I loved how Mick consulted Dru before making a decision that could have an impact on her without thinking that he could just cover it up. 

I didn't like the way Millie and Tasha reacted when Dru revealed everything to them. It was a human reaction, but Tasha was too angry for my liking. I wished the author had decided to spend a little more time on the sisters and how they came to terms with the revelation that they knew where their father was. 

Overall, the book was a delight. I will be sad to see the sister go, but at least all of them got their happily ever after. I will keep an eye for the author's next release since I love her books. A splash of vanilla was another winner for me! 



EXCERPT:

I shot a couple longing looks at Mick, who managed to make that suit look incredible, even though I’d just seen him in it at Tasha’s wedding. How come men could do that? Buy one suit to wear to every event, and get no flack, while if women got caught wearing the same dress repeatedly, it was like there was something wrong with her?
Why couldn’t I find the perfect dress … one that made me feel sexy, comfortable, and confident, and wear it to everything?
Stupid double standards.
I walked straight to the bar and ordered a Lemon Drop with the sole intention of getting drunk, and made a list of rules for myself.
You will not fawn over Mick.
You will not get so drunk that you throw up.
You will be the funny, fun, party sister, not the green with envy, bitter, crying in the corner sister.
And, again, you will not fawn over Mick. He made his policy clear, and I had too much pride to go after a man who didn’t want me.

Purchase it Now

Add the book to Goodreads

Purchase the other titles in the series...

Purchase A PINCH OF SALT Now:

Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | Nook | Smashwords

Check out the A Pinch of Salt Pinterest Board!

Purchase A TOUCH OF CINNAMON Now:

Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | Nook | Smashwords



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AUTHOR INFORMATION:


Award-Winning Author Bethany Lopez began self-publishing in June 2011. She's a lover of all things romance: books, movies, music, and life, and she incorporates that into the books she writes. When she isn't reading or writing, she loves spending time with her husband and children, traveling whenever possible. Some of her favorite things are: Kristen Ashley Books, coffee in the morning, and In N Out burgers.
AUTHOR LINKS:

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Review: Misadventures with a Professor (Misadventures #15) by Sierra Simone




Book: Misadventures with a Professor
Author: Sierra Simone
Part of the Misadventures Series by Waterhouse Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
***MISADVENTURES ARE STANDALONE ROMANCES THAT CAN BE READ IN ANY ORDER***




Add to your TBR - Goodreads


Synopsis
Zandy Lynch never planned on going to grad school a virgin. So when her professor father finds her a job abroad as a research assistant the summer before she starts her master’s program, she sees her chance. She’s got one night in London to lose her V-card to a Mr. Darcy lookalike before she has to join some ancient professor in the country...
****
Misadventures is a romantic series of spicy standalone novels, each written or co-written by some of the best names in romance. The stories are scandalous, refreshing, and, of course, incredibly sexy. They’re the perfect bedside read, a ‘quick blush’ for the reader who loves a page-turning romance.



Buy the Book

Kindle                           Print
iBooks                        Google Play
Kobo


Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This is my first Sierra Simone novel! Or novella if you want to be technical. I was very happy with the book overall and I will try a few more books by her. This one was well written, but dare I say, tame. The characters are into some light BDSM stuff and I would have liked to see them get into the dark side a little bit further. I might have expected a steamier book since I have heard a lot of great things about SS. 

Oliver and Zandy were two people that had chemistry, a lot of feelings and a connection that works for them (and me as a reader I might say). He has some demons from this past that made me wanna slap someone and Zandy is very inexperienced with everything when it comes to men. I realized that the more I read the more I was liking her. She is someone who I didn't know I was rooting for and yet I did. She was not a doormat and that got her lots of extra points in my book. Oliver had some bad moments, but none that were unforgivable which is also a good thing about the book. 

Misadventures with a Professor felt different from the rest of the series for some reason. It was kinky, but at the same time, it felt a little bit too tame for the series and more like a story that didn't have a theme. Maybe that's the reason I am willing to go with 4 stars instead of 5. 



Meet the Author
Sierra is a voracious reader of all things including the smuttiest smut, young adult, piles of non-fiction for research, and everything Bill Bryson (especially on audio).
She loves writing the dirtiest things that she can think of, King Arthur, sparkling water, Tarot, coffee, leggings, and learning new words daily.
Her previous jobs have included firing ceramics, teaching living history lessons in one-room school house in full, 1908-approved school marm attire, and working as a librarian for several years—not in that order
She lives in the Kansas City area with her hot cop husband, two children, and two giant dogs. (And two cats, but they're so naughty we don't talk about them.)
The social media she cares about the most are Spotify and (her very very NSFW) Tumblr. Following her in those places is a true love language, indeed.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Review: Beautiful Sinner (Devil's Rock #5) by Sophie Jordan



Locked in with the town bad boy . . .
Most women would be scared, but Gabriella’s only worried about resisting Cruz Walsh, who’s even hotter than he was back in high school. Cruz was wrongly accused of the high-profile crime for which he was imprisoned; Gabriella’s desperate for the scoop that will get her career off the ground and get her out of Sweet Hill, where everyone still remembers her as “Flabby Gabby.” Being stuck in a supply closet with Cruz is the perfect opportunity to land an interview. What Bri doesn’t count on is Cruz taking “up-close and personal” to a whole new level.
If there’s a silver lining to the hell Cruz went through, it’s that losing his freedom put everything in perspective. Maybe starting over someplace new would be easier, but after years locked up, Cruz values his family—and his true friends—more than ever. So he’s back home, facing the gossip, dodging reporters . . . and face-to-face with Gabriella Rossi. They’ve both changed: Bri wants a story and Cruz just wants her. Another thing he’s learned? Don’t let a good thing slip away.



About the Book

Beautiful Sinner
by Sophie Jordan
Series
Devil’s Rock Series
Genre
Adult
Contemporary Romance
Publisher
Avon Books
Publication Date
October 30, 2018
Purchase Your Copy Today
Amazon  |  Avon Romance  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Google Play  |  iBooks

Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Beautiful sinner was more readable than the previous book. It had some weak moments, but the pages flew too easily and I didn't even realize how much time had passed by the time I reached the final page. The book had one big weakness and it can be summed up in two words High school. No, the characters are not high schoolers, but sometimes I felt like they were back in high school. Gabriella had Natalie who was still bulling her after 10 years, a sister who had the wrong priorities and her sister's ex who was a creepy douche from page one 'till the end. Cruz was an innocent man who chose to go to prison to save his sister, but as it turned out none of them were the killer and yet the whole town has frowned upon him for some reason instead of admiring the fact that he sacrificed his freedom for his sister and niece. That's not the way you treat people and I didn't like it. We have a lot of bullies in this book and it ruined some of the positive vibes. I loved the way Cruz chose to groove and I would have taken him back in a heartbeat. These two had a good relationship and I never thought that either of them would do something to harm the other like someone in this book did and managed to get on my nerves for that. The book had a strong us vs them vibe and if you don't mind small minded people, you will enjoy reading this book.

Tour Wide Giveaway

To celebrate the release of BEAUTIFUL SINNER by Sophie Jordan, we’re giving away one paperback set of the complete Devil’s Rock series by Sophie Jordan!

GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS:  Open to US shipping addresses only. One winner will receive a paperback set of the complete Devil’s Rock series by Sophie Jordan.  This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance. Giveaway ends 11/12/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Avon Romance will send the winning copies out to the winner directly. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address.  Duplicates will be deleted.  CLICK HERE TO ENTER!


About Sophie Jordan



SOPHIE JORDAN grew up in the Texas hill country where she wove fantasies of dragons, warriors, and princesses. A former high school English teacher, she’s the New York Times, USA Today and international bestselling author of more than twenty novels. She now lives in Houston with her family. When she’s not writing, she spends her time overloading on caffeine (lattes preferred), talking plotlines with anyone who will listen (including her kids), and cramming her DVR with anything that has a happily ever after.
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Instagram  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon


Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Blog tour: Wicked Whiskey Love (The Whiskeys #4) by Melissa Foster





Wicked Whiskey Love
The Whiskeys series
Melissa Foster
Releasing November 7th, 2018
World Literary Press

Blurb:


Fall in love with Bones Whiskey in WICKED WHISKEY LOVE, an emotionally riveting, sexy new standalone romance by New York Times bestselling author Melissa Foster. A magnificent love story for those who enjoy fiercely loyal and insanely sexy alpha heroes, smart, sassy heroines, families, bikers, babies, and more!

In WICKED WHISKEY LOVE…
After escaping abusive parents and, later, an abusive relationship, Sarah Beckley has spent a lifetime watching snakes shed their skin. With two small children to care for and another on the way, she’s finally found a home in Peaceful Harbor with the brother she hasn’t seen in more than a decade. She’s still searching for her sister, but life is good. If only she could stop thinking about the sinfully sexy doctor/biker who has taken to her children like a loving uncle—and to her like a hungry man.

Trust doesn’t come easily for Sarah, but Bones Whiskey is patient and protective, amazing with her children, and he looks at her like she is the only woman he could ever want–and more. With two little ones underfoot, Sarah expects him to move on quickly, yet with every tender kiss and each trying moment with the children, Bones surprises her. But will the fiercely loyal biker stick around when Sarah’s worst secret is revealed, or will he shed his skin, too?

For more hot Whiskey love, check out Melissa’s other Whiskey novels.
TRU BLUE
TRULY MADLY WHISKEY
DRIVING WHISKEY WILD
And don’t miss RIVER OF LOVE, the first story in which the Whiskeys were introduced!

Goodreads link:

Goodreads series link:


Buy Links:
➜KINDLE: http://smarturl.it/WWL_K
➜APPLE: https://apple.co/2CNjjcc
➜KOBO: http://smarturl.it/WWL_Kobo
➜NOOK: http://smarturl.it/WWL_Nook
➜GPLAY: http://bit.ly/2CW9zZQ
➜PAPERBACK: http://smarturl.it/WWL_Pb


Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Ladies (and gentlemen)  prepare to melt while reading this book. Bone is going to melt your hearts and panties. I want a Bone for myself because he was an amazing person who did nothing but love Sarah and her three children. He wasn't bothered that she was pregnant with another man's baby, he was always trying to help her handle everything and was there for her in a way that no one had been ever before. He was acting like a dad to Lila and Bradley and he never made me feel like they were an afterthought to him.  He was just the right person for Sarah. Sarah's character for some parts of the book was more on the background and I don't mean that in a bad way. We don't get her full story until very late, but halfway through the book, we find out more about her and how she ended up alone and in the hospital in the previous book. Honestly, from the way she talked I thought that she was an escort and each child had a different father (yes I have a very wild imagination sometimes)!

The book is a collection of tiny gems. Some scenes were emotional, others were a picture of what a happy family is supposed to look like and others were the characters main and secondary. They made the book great. To be honest the book overall, for some reason isn't wow for me. But I also know that these gems made me love every minute I spend reading it and feel like it deserves 5 stars. I am very satisfied with the book. We didn't have an instant connection, but I slowly began to love the book and mostly Bones. I will love every extra minute we will get when the next book arrives.

The book can be read as stand-alone, but you should be aware that we have a lot of secondary characters in this story and you might feel a little lost. The series so far was an average of 4.5 stars so I can safely recommend to begin the series from book one. And speaking of books will Gemma and Scot get one? Why do we have to wait for their turn(s?). I wonder if they are going to end up together or each will find another person to love.

Minor spoiler about triggers below:
I feel like I am obligated to mention that there is a rape scene in this book and more than a couple of mentions of other instances. I know that's a trigger for some people and I think you might want to stay clear. It's not detailed, it certainly put an awful image in my mind. There is also domestic abuse mentioned.





Excerpt:

“Hey, beautiful,” Bones said softly.
Her eyes clashed with his. He sat with one arm across the back of Bradley’s chair, watching her in her moment of turmoil. She may not believe in happily ever afters and she definitely had trouble trusting, but she longed to be closer to him, to experience this loyal, thoughtful man on a more personal level. Emotionally and physically. Swallowing hard, feeling happy and sad, nervous and calm, petrified and curious. It was so overwhelming, she was sure everyone could sense it. But it was Bones who pushed his hand farther across the back of Bradley’s chair until his fingertips brushed her arm, concern written in those dark eyes.
“You okay, darlin’? Want to go for a walk?”
A walk? No, she definitely wouldn’t survive this night with Dr. Whiskey looking at her like he could heal all her wounds. She needed space to clear her head.
“No, thank you,” she finally managed. “I’m just going up to the house to change Lila.”
He pushed to his feet. “I’ll walk you up.”
“No,” she said quickly. “I’m fine, really. I just need…” Grasping for an excuse, she decided to go with honesty, because at the moment she was just that pathetic. “To breathe, and you sort of make that impossible.”
A slow grin spread across his lips.
“Ohmygosh,” came out before she could stop it. “Could you please look the other way?”
“Not a chance, darlin’.”
His arrogance came out smooth as velvet. Ugh. She pushed to her feet, needing to escape before he worked his magic on her. “Come on, Bradley. Let’s go potty before dinner.”
“I don’t have to go,” Bradley whined.
“I’ll watch him,” Bones offered, that panty-melting grin still in place.
Great. Another ovary-exploding dose of goodness. Just what I need.


Series Buy Links:
TRU BLUE
➜KINDLE: http://smarturl.it/TB_Kindle
➜iBOOKS: http://apple.co/2lG7dEL
➜NOOK: http://bit.ly/2f3loBH
➜KOBO: http://smarturl.it/TB_Kobo
➜GPLAY: http://bit.ly/2knJYhu
➜PAPERBACK: http://smarturl.it/TB_Paperback
🎧 Available in audio
➜Amazon Audio: http://smarturl.it/TB_Audio_Amazon
➜iBooks Audio: http://apple.co/2kK1HTT
➜Audible: http://adbl.co/2kBUDpU

TRULY, MADLY, WHISKEY
➜KINDLE: http://smarturl.it/TMW1_Amazon
➜iBOOKS: http://apple.co/2hJbntC
➜KOBO: http://smarturl.it/WWN_Kobo
➜NOOK: http://bit.ly/2gVN6QS
➜GPLAY: http://bit.ly/2hqM7cb
➜PAPERBACK: http://smarturl.it/WWN_Paperback
🎧 Available in audio
➜Amazon: http://smarturl.it/TMW_Audio_Amazon
➜iBooks: http://apple.co/2oD2Ew7
➜Audible: http://adbl.co/2owVMjN



DRIVING WHISKEY WILD
➜KINDLE: http://smarturl.it/DWW_Kindle
➜iBOOKS: http://apple.co/2yUXpAG
➜NOOK: http://bit.ly/2yVGGgS
➜KOBO: http://smarturl.it/DWW_Kobo
➜GPLAY: http://bit.ly/2y7SugC
➜PAPERBACK: http://smarturl.it/DWW_Pb
🎧 Available in audio
➜Amazon: http://smarturl.it/DWW_Audio
➜iBooks: https://apple.co/2GeqRSQ
➜Audible: http://adbl.co/2FuX5gp



Author Info
Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes sexy and heartwarming contemporary romance and new adult romance with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Melissa’s emotional journeys are lovingly erotic and always family oriented–perfect beach reads for contemporary romance lovers who enjoy reading about wealthy heroes and smart, sassy heroines.

Author Links:
Website:  http://www.melissafoster.com/
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/MelissaFosterAuthor
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Melissa_Foster
GoodReads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3023973.Melissa_Foster
Newsletter: http://melissafoster.com/newsletter/
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/melissa-foster
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/melissafoster_author/




a Rafflecopter giveaway


Share link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/521ac4c81384/?



Promo: Blog Tour: I bet you by Ilsa Madden-Mills

IBY-SBPRBANNER-BT.jpg













She’s the one bet I can’t resist...Wall Street Journal bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills returns with an all-new swoon-fest of a novel about what happens when you look beyond labels and take a chance on love.
I Bet You, an all-new sexy college romance standalone is available NOW!

I-BET-You-REALFINAL-3.jpg


Sexy Athlete: I bet you…
Penelope Graham: Burn in hell, quarterback.
The late night text is random but Penelope knows exactly who “Sexy Athlete” is. And why she shouldn't take his wager.
Ryker Voss.
Football star.
Walks on water and God's gift to women.
Just ask him.
His bet? He promises Penelope he’ll win her the heart of the nerdy guy she’s been crushing on. His plan—good old-fashioned jealousy. Once her crush sees her kissing Ryker, he'll realize what he's missing. Sounds legit, right? The only question is…why is Ryker being so nice to her?
Penelope Graham.
Virgin.
Lover of sparkly vampires and calculus.
His mortal enemy.
Penelope knows she shouldn’t trust a jock, but what’s a girl to do when she needs a date to Homecoming? And Ryker’s keeping a secret, another bet, one that could destroy Penelope’s heart forever.
Will the quarterback score the good girl or will his secret mean everyone loses at this game of love?


IBY-AN


Download your copy today or read FREE in Kindle Unlimited!
Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/IBetYouIMM
Add to GoodReads: http://bit.ly/2vLgSkX


Excerpt:
Penelope

I stand in front of the mirror in the restroom and gasp. Holy moly, I’m a total disaster. Red is on my shirt, my neck, my cheek, and there’s even a dab in my hair. I let out a heavy sigh as I wipe at it with a wet paper towel. At least my hair is auburn and the red will just blend right in. I scrub at the stain on my shirt, but all I end up doing is making a giant wet spot.
“Forget it,” I mutter to myself a few minutes later as I straighten my lopsided messy bun and adjust my glasses. My makeup is faded, and I reach into my apron for a tube of cherry red lipstick then quickly swipe it over my mouth. Like that’s going to improve the situation. I need a makeover and new clothes stat.
I walk out of the restroom and take in Sugar’s Bar and Grill, a restaurant in Magnolia, Mississippi. The dinner rush is over, but a few stragglers will come in, mostly college students. Only a block from campus, Sugar’s has a modern farmhouse feel with galvanized steel light fixtures, pale pine floors, and straight-back metal chairs, but the food…well, that’s what keeps the place hopping. It’s the only restaurant near campus to get anything you want served up with a side of fresh fried green tomatoes. Their menu also features Southern classics, such as chicken and dumplings or macaroni and cheese with bacon sprinkled on top. Just thinking about it makes my stomach rumble. I was so wrapped up in writing during my break that I forgot to eat.
I sigh and head to the football table, where they promptly hand over the money. “Nice doing business with you, boys,” I say before flouncing off, feeling Ryker’s eyes on me the entire time.
What’s his deal with me?
I mean, you’d think he’d want to avoid me because of the article, but it’s as if his mission is to be around me as much as he can. In fact, I’m not even sure he knew who I was before I wrote it since we don’t run in the same circles. I suspect he’s torturing me.
I push him out of my head and walk over to a table that needs bussing, picking up half-empty soda glasses and putting them on my tray. The door chimes, signaling that someone has come in, and I raise my head to see—
Whoa.
I freeze.
Bring out the angels and cue the hallelujah chorus.
Now that’s the kind of man I should be writing sexy scenes about.
Standing at the door is Connor Dimpleshitz—yes, his surname is unfortunate, but his IQ makes up for it. I’ve been crushing on him since our sociology class last semester.
Framed by a golden halo of sunlight as it glints through the windows, I decide he’s what would happen if Albert Einstein and Henry Cavill had a baby. “A hot genius. The perfect unicorn,” I murmur to myself.
I chew on my lip, debating on whether to mosey up to him and say hi or hide.
Hide wins. I know, I’m a little ridiculous, especially since we have calculus together this semester and he’ll obviously see me at some point in class.
But then I’ll have good hair and ketchup-free clothes.
I quickly survey the possibilities for my escape as the hostess seats him in another server’s section. My eyes land on the right side of the restaurant, where I could make a mad dash for the kitchen, but he’s bound to see me darting since I’d have to walk past him. Plus, I want to hang around and watch him without him knowing.
I come to a decision. Wrangling the tray of half-empty sodas I cleared, I quickstep it over to the back left corner, the farthest away from the double doors of the entrance. I maneuver my body into an awkward hunkering position behind a huge potted plant with wide fan-shaped leaves. At least five feet tall with a gnarly brown trunk, the green monster is perfect camouflage.
I peek around a big leaf that’s in dire need of a good dusting,judging by the motes floating around. Feeling paranoid that someone is a witness to my absurdity, I throw a quick glance over my shoulder to make sure no one’s around.
Ryker. Shit.
He’s staring at me from the football table, and there’s a glint in his gaze, as if he’s wondering what I’m doing.
I scowl and stick my tongue out at him. He makes me feel so rebellious and flustered and…excited.
I can’t even stop myself. Ugh.
His expression deepens in amusement, and I grimace, realizing my butt is sticking out. His annoying eyebrow jacks up and says, What the hell are you doing?
With eye telepathy I tell him to mind his own freaking business.
I pointedly turn my back on him and focus on The Unicorn.
A few seconds later, a familiar deep voice resonates from behind me, making me start. “You look a little flustered, Penelope. Spying on someone for your next story, perhaps?”
I freeze. Blink. His voice is husky and lower than before when he was calling me garçon, the tone reminding me of languid summer nights under a starry Southern sky while he gives me deep, passionate kisses—
Good Lord.Stop your daydreaming.Must. Stop. Reading. Romances.
I heave out a sigh and turn around to face Ryker.
What the hell does he want now?

***

“I don’t submit to the Wildcat Weekly anymore,” I say.
I worked for them most of last year, covering the home games and a few random articles. With a dad who was in the NFL, I know a lot about football, but when Sugar’s offered me more hours, I took it.
“No more football stories, huh?”
I shrug, my gaze taking in his chiseled cheekbones, the curve of his full lips, the hint of scruff on his jaw. Dammit, why is he so gorgeous? “What can I say? I covered the most fascinating story last semester—you. Guess I went out on a high note.”
He nods, taking that dig. “I always noticed you at the games.”
I scoff. “I didn’t think girls like me were on your radar.”
“You sat near the third row at the fifty-yard line taking notes at every home game.” His eyes drift over me. “And I didn’t say you were on my radar.”
“Really? Sounds like you did.”
“Trust me, I have more discriminating tastes.” He shrugs.
“Why, how sweet of you.” My Southern accent has thickened, the way it does when I’m sassy. It’s one thing to know he doesn’t like me, but for him to say I’m not up to his standards…well. “Did you pop over here just to be nice?”
He exhales and rakes a hand through his hair, calling attention to the lighter strands that have been bleached by the sun. “Honestly, I’m not sure why I came over here.” A conflicted expression crosses his face as he tugs at his collar. My eyes stare at the myriad of curly blond chest hairs that are poking out from the V-neck of the light blue Oxford he’s wearing with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. “I just wanted to make
sure you were okay from the ketchup getting all over you, but everything I’m saying is coming out wrong.”
Oh. This is different. And not what I expected.
“I’m fine, Baby Llama. No need to worry. You can go. Your girlfriends are waiting for you.” I tilt my head back toward the football table.
He doesn’t budge. “Baby Llama?” An amused grin flashes over his face.
I shrug. It’s been my private nickname for him since sophomore year when I stumbled upon him coming out of an upstairs bathroom at the Tau house after a shower with only a white towel wrapped around his trim waist. Some jersey chaser was with him. His hairy chest had both shocked my virgin sensibilities and excited me at the same time. The unruly curls just made him seem more naked, as if I’d seen his cock. Much to my dismay, I’d later dream about rolling around on that bed of golden curls. Seriously, who takes a shower with a chick in the middle of a kegger? Ryker Voss, that’s who. Because he can. And girls do whatever he wants.
But not this one.
I respect the game—even love it—but I don’t fall for football players, especially high and mighty quarterbacks who think they walk on water. My dad was the star player at Waylon twenty years ago, and trust me, I know how they operate. They get what they want and then they walk out, leaving broken hearts everywhere.
“Have you ever seen a real llama?” he asks, continuing our conversation. It’s as if he’s actually trying to be nice. “I saw one at a safari park once. Little bugger tried to eat my
hand off when I fed him, but he was cute. Maybe you need a poster of one in your room so when you see it, you’ll think about me. I’ll even sign it for you.”
And there’s the cocky again.
“Buy me one. I’ll throw darts at it.”
“Damn, you never stop.” He huffs out a laugh, his eyes lingering on my neck. “Oh, there’s a bit of ketchup here too,” he says, reaching out to glide his finger across the top of my collar, his knuckles barely brushing against my neck.
The feather-light touch is brief and not sexual, yet my body hums, tendrils of sparks racing over my skin. I suck in a breath and catch his scent, warm and spicy with hints of leather and sandalwood.
He blinks and clears his throat. “Um, I actually have this cleaner stuff that I spray on my practice clothes. It’s a miracle worker. You’re welcome to borrow it. Of course, you’d have to come by the football dorm to pick it up. We could even do laundry together if you wanted?”
He says the words softly, as if they’re nothing,and I’m staring at him full on.
Do our laundry together?
I suspect Ryker Voss is flirting with me, though not well. The pimply-faced checkout boy at Big Star has better lines than this.
Yet…
Something warm grows inside my stomach and then flutters around, the sputtering of newborn butterflies. He is the hottest guy on campus. Still, I remind myself he’s a player, gather my resolve, and shoot those butterflies down.
“You’re being weird, Ryker.”
“Because I’m being nice? Yeah. New year, new start. I want to forget all the bad stuff from last semester.” He pauses. “And the article you wrote.”
“Is that right? Even the part where I said you dishonored the sport and were a disgrace to college players everywhere?”
He stares down at his hands. “I had my reasons for what happened.”
So I heard. He got involved in the fighting to help his friend and fellow teammate Maverick save his disabled sister.
“Ah, well, I did write a follow-up article, but it wasn’t nearly as popular as the first one.”
He shrugs, and somehow, he’s closer now. I stare into his thickly lashed cerulean eyes and blink at the force of them. His irises…God, someone should name a crayon after them.
“So…do you want to do laundry together sometime?”
This again? My mouth parts. “What? Like a date?”
“Yeah.”
I blink rapidly, my brain trying to wrap about this new Ryker. “No. I’m sure you already have jersey chasers lined up outside your dorm vying to do your laundry. I’ve heard they actually beg to rub your shoulders and do your homework. I imagine they even fight to be the one to suck your sweet little toes.” I come to an abrupt halt. Suck his toes? SUCK HIS TOES? OMG. Where did that random comment come from? I don’t have a foot fetish. I blame it on his presence and carry on. “And don’t worry about me—I don’t need your laundry advice. A little ketchup never hurt anyone.”
Determination crosses his face and with a flurry of movement, he drops a small piece of paper onto the tray I’m holding.
I stare down at it. Sexy as Hell Athlete is written in masculine handwriting with a phone number after it. I look back up at him, my eyes tracing the enigmatic half-smile on his face.
“I wrote it down for you earlier and wanted to give it to you after the ketchup thing, but I chickened out.”
Several seconds go by.
“Will you give me yours?” he asks after a few moments of us just standing here.
“My what?”
“Number.” He grins.
I indicate the tray and my obvious impediment. “I don’t have any paper on me.”
“Just tell me. I’ll remember.”
I’m flustered, and that’s the only reason I rattle off my phone number. He grins and repeats it back to me.
He lowers his voice in a conspiratorial way. “So…you’re watching someone, I take it. Anyone I know?”
Feeling bemused by his attention, I shake my head, quickly losing control of this situation.
“For a writer, you seem to be at a loss for words. Do I make you speechless, Penelope?”
I scoff. “No.”
“I’m curious as to what has your attention back here.” He slides in next to me behind the plant, his shoulder brushing against mine. He’s a giant next to my slender frame, and all at once, I feel protected and safe, which is entirely wrong. It’s probably his male pheromones, lulling me into softness before the kill—and damn if it isn’t working. He murmurs something about us hiding together and spying on people, but I’m distracted because my face is up close and personal with the chest hair that pokes out of his shirt. I want to trail my fingers through it and see if it’s as soft as it looks. He smells like alpha male and sex. Hard, passionate sex that makes you orgasm fast and furious.
Not that I have any firsthand knowledge of that, of course, but I have my fantasies.
Gird your loins, Penelope.
Resist the quarterback.
But I’m getting sucked in.
I blame it on the dimple that appears when he smiles. My stomach does that fluttering thing again, and this time, I can’t shoo the butterflies away. I’m weak. I move my eyes up the strong column of his tanned throat to meet his gaze. At least ten seconds go by as we take each other in.
What. Is. Happening?
“You’re pretty,” he murmurs. “Have I ever told you that?”
“We don’t usually talk except for when I take your order.”
His hand reaches up and briefly touches a piece of my hair that’s fallen out of my topknot. He rubs it between his fingers. “Your hair…it’s—”
“Auburn,” I manage, clearing my throat.
“It reminds me of a new penny, the way the amber color catches the light…” His voice trails off, and he bites his bottom lip. “God, that has to be the stupidest thing I’ve ever said.”
“You have worse lines. Tell me, is doing laundry code for sex?” I say, staring up at him. I’m itching to straighten my glasses, a nervous reflex, but my hands are holding the tray.
“I only use lines on jersey chasers. You’re the kind of girl I have to work for.”
“What about your discriminating tastes?”
“Pure bluff. I think we have a real connection, Penelope.” His face is closer now, and I swallow, wondering how we must look to everyone else in the restaurant. I realize that in the process of talking, we’ve backed up to the wall behind the plant, and I figure the only table we’re visible to is the football one, but I don’t tear my eyes away from Ryker to check.
“You smell like rainbows,” he says.
My chest rises. I’m enjoying his full-court press. It’s…intoxicating. “What does a rainbow smell like?”
“Sweet and delicious.”
“It’s the suckers.” His eyes land on my lips, and it almost feels as if he’s touched them. Heat rushes over my skin. “The red ones are my favorite. I think they’re cherry or strawberry or raspberry…definitely not cranberry…that’s disgusting,” I say, rambling, feeling disoriented.
“It’s crazy, but I really want to kiss you right now,” he murmurs.
My eyes drift over his shoulder to where Connor’s table is. I can’t see his face, but I know he’s there, and even though I’m drugged by Ryker’s proximity, I remind myself he’s the one I should kiss.
Not Ryker.
Ryker is a player—just like my dad was.
He watches the direction of my gaze and follows it. “You’ve been watching Dimples hitz, haven’t you?” he says, a frown line appearing on his forehead. “Are you into him?”
My stomach dips. “Why would you say that?”
“Because you hightailed it over here when he walked in and you’ve been hiding ever since. So, I figure he either did you wrong or you’re infatuated, and since I haven’t heard any gossip about you and him, I’m guessing you must have a thing for him.”
Abort! Abort!He knows too much!
Sanity slowly returns to my brain in small increments, and I take a deep breath, orienting myself as questions race through my head. What if he uses my crush against me? Maybe he wants revenge for the article. I don’t know!
Flustered and unsure, my eyes dart around the restaurant, looking for an exit so I don’t have to answer his question.
My gaze lands on the football table he came from, and I notice Archer watching us with focused interest, a calculating look on his face as he whips his eyes from me to Ryker. He leans over and whispers to Blaze, who turns to peer in our direction. I pause, my brain analyzing and decoding. Why is Archer suddenly interested in what Ryker is doing
over here with me—especially when there’s a pretty co-ed sitting right next to him, tracing little circles on his bicep?
Yet Archer’s eagle eyes are onus. Watchful.
I notice all three players at the table have suddenly given us their attention, anticipation evident on their faces.
Alarms go off in my head and things start to click into place.
How nice he was to me. How we ‘have a connection’. Yeah, right.
Mortification washes over me.
How could I not have seen it sooner?
God, I am an idiot.I was so distracted…
I’m a bet. A stupid freaking bet.
I feel like someone just punched me in the gut.
My survival instinct tells me to get away from Ryker, and obviously,I could just walk away and hold my head high, but I want to make a point and show those football players they can’t toy with me. I release the tray I’ve been balancing for what seems like days in his direction. The contents of the glasses spill out and crash to the floor, watered-down soda and ice drenching us before dripping down to the floor. The plastic glasses make a horrible clattering noise on the wooden floors, and I imagine most everyone in the restaurant heard it. I don’t look to see their faces. I only glare at Ryker.
He jumps back and stares down at the mess on his khaki pants then looks back at me. “Remind me to never bring up Dimpleshitz again.”
“Stop your games, Ryker.”
His face stills. “What games?”
My teeth snap together. Enough.

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About the Author Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and USA Today best-selling author Ilsa Madden-Mills writes about strong heroines and sexy alpha males that sometimes you just want to slap. She's best known for her angsty, heartfelt new adult college romances. A former high school English teacher, she adores all things Pride and Prejudice; Mr. Darcy is her ultimate hero. She's also addicted to frothy coffee beverages, Vampire Diaries, and any kind of book featuring unicorns and sword-wielding females.
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