Book Blitz: Unlike Any Other by Claudia Burgoa and Giveaway

Unlike any other book blitz

Book Blitz

UAO KINDLEBook Title: Unlike Any Other (The Unexpected Series, Book One)
Author: Claudia Burgoa
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: March 5, 2015
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

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Book Blurb

AJ

The name AJ Colthurst may not have any meaning to the public eye, but it should, as I’m the daughter of two famous celebrities. Like any superstar, they crave privacy; so much of it, they built a house in the middle of nowhere for us children. As we grew older, we discovered the lies they built as a fort to protect us from the media, ended up causing emotional damage along the way.

I carry a portion of the guilt on my shoulders; the other part I discovered is the separation of my parents. Their unorthodox ways may have driven me bonkers, but knowing they are no longer together is unacceptable.

That’s why I decided to rattle their cage by reminding at least one of my parents of the past and the reason they belong together. They need to remember why their love is so perfect and why they have to fight to keep it alive. Even if it means I have to dredge up some of my own painful memories along the way.

Gabe

Back in the early eighties, I set myself to succeed in the financial world. The first step had been moving to New York City to become a stockbroker, but things didn’t work out the way I had hoped. Instead, I ended up making movies and by the end of the decade, Gabe Colt had become a famous name. The downside to my career of choice: the paparazzi. In order to protect my family and our privacy, I maintained my family away from the circus. It had been for their own good; a decision we had made before we started our family.

However, those past decisions ended up chasing my entire family away and now I’m trying to put the pieces back together along with my little girl.

excerpt

After a long first day of shooting Journey’s End, I walked towards my car when I spotted Abby standing next to the parking lot gate and checking her watch.

“Are you waiting for someone?” I scanned her from head to toe.

The tight tank top she wore left nothing to the imagination. Her snug jeans made my cock push against the crotch of my own slacks. I wouldn’t mind taking her home for the night, or having a quick encounter with her in the back of the car.

“Yes,” she responded. “I let my sister borrow my car and she is late—as usual.” She blew out some air and checked her watch again.

“I can give you a ride if you want.” This time I wasn’t going to take no for an answer.

“Yes, I’ll take you up on your offer.” I jerked my head back and suppressed the smile that her answer brought to my face.

We climbed in my car and instead of asking where to, I changed my tune, “I’m heading for dinner, join me.”

“I’d like that,” she looked out the window.

I drove my new red convertible BMW toward one of the hamburger joints Chris and I used to frequent. She ordered only a shake while I ordered the usual; a double patty with tomato, pickles, and onion with a side of fries.

“This is different,” she commented as the waitress left, her delicate eyebrows arched above her beautiful green eyes. “I like it.”

“Peaceful, since they don’t expect anyone famous,” my gaze rested on her, enjoying her soft features.

Without hesitation, I grabbed her hand and caressed the knuckles of her fingers with my thumb. Her face turned a beautiful pink and a faint giggle escaped her throat.

Maybe I could see myself with her, I thought.

I could give her a try or at least ride her along for the next eight weeks of filming.

“What are you thinking?” her lips extended into a bright smile. “You’re too serious Gabe, I hope you’re not regretting the invitation.”

“No, I’m pleased with my decision.”

I scarfed the hamburger down and within ten minutes, we left the place. One thing I lost while hanging out with Chris had been the finesse to court women.

Abby gave me directions to her place and when we arrived, I walked her to the door. Instead of giving her a tender kiss and thanking her for the lovely ten minutes, I rammed her against the door and took over her lips. My tongue didn’t wait; it pushed over her lips demanding entrance and within seconds, she succumbed to the forceful domination.

“I want inside you,” I broke the kiss and murmured in her ear.

Yes, I lost all my diplomacy on that dreadful tour.

A gasp was her only response. She opened the door and as I shut it, I began to undress her.

Meet the Author

claudia b.Born on the mystical day of October 30th in the not so mystical lands of Mexico City, Claudia grew up with a childhood that resembled a caffeine-injected soap opera. Seventeen years ago she ventured to the lands of her techie husband—a.k.a. the U.S.—with their offspring to start a new adventure.

She now lives in Colorado working as a CFO for a small IT company, managing her household filled with three confused dogs, said nerd husband, two daughters wrought with fandoms and a son who thinks he’s the boss of the house. To survive she works continually to find purpose for the voices flitting through her head, plus she consumes high quantities of chocolate to keep the last threads of sanity intact.

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I love this quote, Diana
“I’m wondering what to read next.” — Matilda, Roald Dahl

Two for Thursday Blitz and Giveaway #T4T

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Hello and welcome to this week’s Two for Thursday Book Blitz #T4T
presented by Month9books/Tantrum Books!

Today, we will be showcasing two titles that may tickle your fancy,
and we’ll share what readers have to say about these titles!

You just might find your next read!

This week, #T4T presents to you:

Fledgling (The Dragonrider Chronicles, #1) by Nicole Conway
and
Avian (The Dragonrider Chronicles, #2) by Nicole Conway

Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!

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Can one boy stand between two kingdoms at war?

Jaevid Broadfeather has grown up as a wartime refugee, hiding from the world because of his mixed racial heritage. He feels his future is hopeless, until a chance encounter with a wild dragon lands him in Blybrig Academy—a place usually forbidden to anyone but the rich and royal. But Jaevid’s case is special; no dragon has voluntarily chosen a rider in decades, so the proud riders of Blybrig must begrudgingly let him join their brotherhood despite his bloodline. Lieutenant Sile Derrick, a sternly tempered man with a mysterious past, becomes his instructor and immediately takes a peculiar interest in Jaevid’s future.

While struggling through the rigorous physical demands of training, things begin to go awry. Jaevid witnesses the king’s private guards kidnapping Sile in the dead of night. When none of the elder riders are willing to help him, Jaevid begins a dangerous adventure to save his instructor.

Everything Jaevid learned at the academy will now be put to the ultimate test.

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What Readers are Saying:

 

“The author has taken the dragon concept putting her own unique spin and creating a captivating new series that spark the imagination.”Mandy, The Reading Diaries


Nicole Conway does a fantastic job creating her world and describing it in a way that the images fill my head while reading.”
Cassandra – Lost in Books


“It was a nice, fast read and I’m really hoping that we learn more about the Grey Elves, the war and the Dragons in future books because this series has the potential to be really great.”
Natalie – Book Lovers Life

 

Avian-Cover

What kind of power is lurking inside him? After a year of training to become a dragonrider, Jaevid Broadfeather has been sent home to rest during a three-month interlude. But when he returns to find the king drake has chosen Beckah Derrick as his new rider, Jaevid realizes something big is about to happen. Every fiber of his being is pushed to the breaking point as Jaevid battles through his avian year, preparing for the final graduation test of the battle scenario. But there is more standing in his way than a few pushups and fancy sword moves. Jaevid must face a new fear as he is tormented by a gruesome nightmare of a mysterious gray elf warrior murdering the royal family of Maldobar. It seems obvious to him that this is some kind of message about how the war started long ago—until Felix assures him the king is very much alive. With his strange powers growing stronger by the day, and that violent dream replaying in his mind every night, Jaevid no longer wonders if he will pass his avian year or not—he wonders if he will even survive it. The truth will soon be set loose.

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What Readers are Saying:

 

“I highly recommend this series to fans of Eragon and Lord of the Rings because those movies jump to mind a lot when I’m reading this series.”Cassandra – Lost in Books


“This was a very exciting book two that kept me turning the pages as fast as I could to see what would happen next.”
Jasmyn – Bitten by Romance


“This is a sequel of pure perfection!” – Nay – Nay’s Pink Bookshelf

about-the-author

NicoleConwayPhoto

Nicole is the author of the children’s fantasy series, THE DRAGONRIDER CHRONICLES, about a young boy’s journey into manhood as he trains to become a dragonrider. She has completed the first two books in the series, and is now working on the third and final book.

Originally from a small town in North Alabama, Nicole moves frequently due to her husband’s career as a pilot for the United States Air Force. She received a B.A. in English with a concentration in Classics from Auburn University, and will soon attend graduate school.

She has previously worked as a freelance and graphic artist for promotional companies, but has now embraced writing as a full-time occupation.

Nicole enjoys hiking, camping, shopping, cooking, and spending time with her family and friends. She also loves watching children’s movies and collecting books. She lives at home with her husband, two cats, and dog.

 

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Giveaway

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I love this quote, Diana
“I’m wondering what to read next.” — Matilda, Roald Dahl

Book Blast and Free Ebook

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Synopsis

Candice and Jason Woodruff had everything going for them: a strong marriage, the family they’d dreamed of, and successful businesses. When they made their wedding vows, they promised to love each other through infinity and beyond…but Candice doesn’t remember making that vow. Candice doesn’t remember the last eighteen years. After a medical emergency, Candice awakens to find herself a married mother of four. She’s surrounded by a loving family of strangers, but Candice struggles to claim an identity while learning to be a wife and mother. Candice is no longer the same woman Jason fell in love with all those years ago. Can they learn to love each other in this new reality? Through Infinity is one woman’s journey as she rediscovers the love of her husband and children. But will that new found love be strong enough to carry them through infinity and beyond…

On sale through March 31st

Through Infinity
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Synopsis

Jason knew Candice’s biggest Christmas wish was to remember the past eighteen years. As Thanksgiving approached, Candice retreated further within herself. Jason enlisted the help of their family and friends to grant Candice’s wish. Each shared their cherished memories and placed them in a tin. Surprised to find the collection of tins, she couldn’t help but wonder what was inside.

With each memory, Candice felt a little more connected to the life and people she’d forgotten in the wake of her accident. Each one brought a sense of fulfillment and longing. When Christmas day arrived, would Candice be able to say thanks for the memories?

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I love this quote, Diana
“I’m wondering what to read next.” — Matilda, Roald Dahl

Blog Tour: The Calm After the Storm by Mya O’Malley and Giveaway

Calm after the storm

The Calm After the Storm by Mya O’Malley

Can true love shine through the darkest storm?

The storm of the century raged through the northeast, causing destruction and despair, millions were left without power and hope. Weeks later, countless people were still devastated by the destruction of Hurricane Sandy, Emma Riley among them.

Determined she didn’t need the help of a man, Emma was convinced that she could brave the aftermath of the storm on her own. That is, until Jake came into her life.

After having suffered heartbreak and embarrassment, Jake Mack, a utility foreman, volunteered to travel north from small town, Georgia to assist with the aftermath of the storm. Jake was decidedly done with women. But he didn’t count on meeting Emma or falling in love so quickly. Can he trust this woman or will his past get in the way and ruin the relationship with the one woman he truly loves?

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Excerpt from The Calm After the Storm:

Jake and his crew had now been in the suburbs of New York for a few days. His first thought upon entering this area was his surprise at the devastation. Sure, he had heard about the destruction on the news and had seen footage of the aftermath of Sandy, but it still hadn’t prepared him for the actual sight of Sandy’s rage. Telephone poles were down, trees were snapped in two, and houses were completed destroyed by the storm. Seeing all the destruction only strengthened Jake’s resolve that it had been the right thing to come. He felt proud to be able to help out and be a part of the solution to the horrible aftermath of this disaster.

As the day was wrapping up. Jake and Chris met up with some of their crew in the next town to finish one more area before calling it quits. The chill in the air was something that Jake had prepared for, but was not accustomed to. Clutching the new flannel he had purchased right before his trip, he put it on over his thermal shirt. Thankful for his thermos filled with hot coffee, Jake grabbed it but quickly tossed it aside.

“Come on, Chris! I asked you to stop drinking my coffee. Now there’s none left,” he said as he shook his head, irritated at his friend.

Chris looked up at his boss sheepishly. “Sorry, man. I didn’t sleep well last night. I needed some caffeine.”

“Well, that makes two of us.”

They rode until they approached the utility pole that needed attention. Jake and Chris were among the first to arrive and got busy setting up for the job. Within minutes, the rest of the assigned crew trickled in. The workers were now familiar with the details and routine of this job, so for the most part they worked in silence, focused on getting this last job done so that they could grab some dinner and hit the sheets. It was cold and dark, the night chill settling in upon them. Jake supervised and helped his crew perform their individual duties as quickly as possible. As they were just about wrapping things up, Jake headed over to Steve, one of the older guys directing traffic. He looked frail and tired.

“Hey, Steve. I got this. Why don’t you call it a night, huh? We’ll meet you at the hotel for some dinner.”

“Nah, Jake, we’re almost done here. I’m good,” Steve said as he looked up at Jake with glaring dark circles under his eyes.

“Steve, go. I’m serious. Get in a hot shower and we’ll meet up for dinner. Boss’ orders. Now go and take Andy with you,” Jake gestured toward another man on the crew who looked like he was ready for bed.

Shrugging his shoulders, Steve made his way to one of the smaller utility trucks, calling for his co-worker to join him. Jake took over the responsibility of directing traffic, slowing people down and stopping cars when necessary. Yawning, he waved a small SUV along, noticing that the approaching driver was slowing down, much more than necessary. Jake squinted his eyes to get a better look. The car came to a stop when Jake stepped up to it and its window rolled down. Looking back at Jake was a woman who appeared pretty, even in the diminished light. Wait, scratch that—she was stunning, with long, wavy hair and piercing eyes. His heart faltered just a bit.

“Hi. I wanted to thank you guys for all of the hard work that you’ve been doing. We really appreciate you guys coming up here. I think I speak for everyone,” she said as she smiled widely. Her smile hitched his breath ever so slightly. Jake smiled back. This was certainly a change. Since he had been in this area, some people waved, some people smiled, others remained with their eyes straight ahead, but nobody had yet offered any thanks verbally. So different from the Southern hospitality way of life where he grew up, Jake mused.

Here it was different, the pace of life was much faster. People always seemed to be in a rush, and they minded their own business for the most part. Sure, being so close to the big city must be nice and the landscape was quite beautiful at times, but he didn’t think this lifestyle was something he could ever get used to. It seemed too stressful, too impersonal. He would be glad to be back home when his job was finished.

The woman leaned over and offered Jake a box of donuts, disposable coffee cups, and a box of hot coffee. Jake was impressed.

“Thank you, that was very thoughtful!” Jake gushed, thrilled at the idea of hot coffee. He thought he felt warmth spread across his cheeks despite the chill in the air.

The woman stared back and smiled at Jake for a minute and then set her eyes on the road ahead. She waved as she pulled away.

“Wait!” Jake called out. “Wait, what was your name?” But the words were lost. The mysterious woman with the coffee and donuts was long gone.

“Guys!” he called out as his crew worked on cleaning up for the night. “Guys! Our guardian angel just appeared, and she brought coffee!”

The coffee and donuts were gladly received, but the idea that someone would go out of their way to show a random act of kindness truly touched Jake. He felt the warm liquid slide down his throat and knew that he would always remember the woman’s thoughtfulness. Who was he kidding? That woman’s beautiful face was what he would most remember. He just wished that he had gotten her name.

 

 

Mya OmalleyAuthor Mya O’Malley
Mya O’Malley was born and raised in the suburbs of New York City, where she currently lives with her husband, daughter and three step-daughters. The family also consists of two boxers, named Destiny and Dolce, and a ragdoll cat named Colby. Mya earned an undergraduate degree in special education and a graduate degree in reading and literacy. She works as a special education teacher and enjoys making a difference in the lives of her students.

Mya’s passion is writing; she has been creating stories and poetry since she was a child. She spends her free time reading just about anything she can get her hands on. She is a romantic at heart and loves to create stories with unforgettable characters. Mya likes to travel and has visited several Caribbean Islands, Mexico, and Costa Rica. She is currently working on her sixth novel.

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$50 Blast Giveaway

Enter to win an Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 4/16/15

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by readinglight.com. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
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I love this quote, Diana
“I’m wondering what to read next.” — Matilda, Roald Dahl

Book Blitz: Unexpected Eden by Rhenna Morgan and Giveaway

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Book Blitz

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Book Title: Unexpected Eden
Author: Rhenna Morgan
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy Romance
Release Date: December 2014
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

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Book Blurb

Paradise, love, power…and a prophecy with a price.

Most people believe Eden no longer exists. Lexi Merrill’s about to learn they’re wrong. A hard-working bartender with a self-sufficient backbone and a wary nature, she knows pickup lines like a second language. So, when Eryx Shantos barges into her world with too-smooth words and a body to back it up, she locks up her libido and vows to keep her distance.

Eryx has other ideas. As king of the Myren race, Eryx is duty-bound to enforce the laws preventing exposure of their existence to humans. Yet The Fates have led him through his dreams to Lexi, a temptation he doesn’t want to resist. The question—is she Myren, or human which makes her forbidden fruit?

When Eryx’s nemesis tags Lexi as his next target, Eryx insists on taking her home where he can keep her safe. Lexi had no idea “home” would mean the one-and-only land of creation…or that she’d trigger a prophecy that could doom her newfound race.

excerpt

Author’s Note: I thought since Unexpected Eden is a fantasy romance based in current times, I’d pick an excerpt from the book that highlights one of Lexi’s favorite benefits of being Myren—flying.

In this scene, Lexi’s fresh out of her awakening and about to learn the mechanics behind getting airborne—a pretty big deal since she’s dreamt of doing just that for years.

“So are you ready to give flying a go?” Eryx asked.

Lexi glanced at the landscape behind her. “In front of everyone?”

Eryx edged closer, but didn’t crowd. He stroked her cheekbone. “They’re to keep you safe. Until we find Maxis, we need them.”

She wrinkled her nose and scowled. “Am I going to flop on my face?”

“Tell her about your first try.” Ludan smirked and crossed his arms.

“Can it.” Eryx said, but kept his focus on Lexi. “Picture it in your mind and let the energy do the rest.”

She nodded and sucked in a breath.

He stepped back.

Her eyelids fluttered shut and her hands fisted at her sides. The soft drone of nature hummed and wind swirled between them.

He held his breath, anxiety wrenching the muscles along his forearms.

“Yeah, not working.” Her shoulders slumped and she ducked her chin.

“At least you’re not jumping off of rocks or tall ledges,” Ludan said.

Eryx glared at Ludan and stepped between them. “You’re not helping.”

Lexi sidestepped and asked Ludan, “Who did that?”

Ludan didn’t respond, but the way Lexi’s lips spread into a sly smile told him Ludan had pointed at him.

Interfering family and friends. He couldn’t wait until Ludan found someone he gave a shit about impressing. Payback would be a bitch. He turned Lexi away from his somo. “You need to relax. If you tense up it gets harder.”

“Easy for you to say. You’re not the one learning with a bunch of strangers watching.”

“Forget about them.” He cupped her shoulders and lowered his voice. “Close your eyes and think about your dreams. Remember how it felt to fly.”

The wind around them stirred, nothing too strong, but more than what Mother Nature generated on her own and crackling with untrained energy.

He eased back. “Just like that. Remember the feelings. How you took off. How you turned. What the wind felt like on your skin.”

Lexi relaxed her head, faced aimed at the sky with her eyes still closed. Peaceful looking with the barest smile on her lips.

He lifted off the ground and hovered a few stories above her. Pale silver shimmers danced in a fine halo around her head and shoulders, power ready for release. “Now open your eyes and come with me.”

Her chest lifted on a slow, deep breath and she opened her eyes. For a split second, her gaze clouded, then sharpened. She took two steps forward and shot into the sky. Overshooting his position, she squeaked and began to fall.

“Whoa!” Eryx snatched and steadied her against him. “You have to keep thinking. Autopilot doesn’t kick in right away. It’s like driving a car. When you’ve been doing it for years, you don’t even think about it. But when you first start, it’s all you can think about.”

She laughed, not the least bit concerned she’d nearly tumbled to the Earth. “I did it.” She braced her hands on his chest, the smile on her face enough to grip his heart and lock on tight. “I really did it.”

Her warm breath fanned against his face. His thoughts scrambled and a raw, achy need pushed to the surface.

Her mouth softened and she rubbed her hand, slow against his heart. “You okay?”

Reason batted at the back of his head, shrieking to get back in the game. Now wasn’t the time or place for selfish impulse. “I’m fine.”

She lifted an eyebrow.

“I like seeing you smile.” It was only a sliver of the truth, a speck of the impact she had on his heart.

Her face glowed, the tips of her cheeks a pale pink. She glanced at Ludan, still on the ground, but poised for action. “Can we do it again?”

“That’s what we’re here for.” What he really wanted was to cart her home and practice at something much more carnal. He faced her forward. “Ludan will cover from below. I’ll stay close.”

She shot from his arms without a beat of hesitation. With every minute her movements smoothed. Her confidence radiated against his senses hot and heavy, slipping into its Myren nature as easy as a river found its course.

If she knew the type of relationship he craved from her, would she adjust to the idea of him as easily? He shoved the idea away before it could take root and tightened his distance to Lexi. He should be focused on her training, not postulating relationship suicide.

Every task he gave her she tackled, her enthusiasm and tenacity unhindered by the realm she’d left behind. And it was rubbing off. Not just on him, but Ludan and Ramsay too if the awe-filled commentary via link was any indication. Most people balked when it came to learning to land, but Lexi? She laughed and plowed toward it like she did everything else.

Her latest approach was faster than previous landings, arms high and opened for balance.

Eryx balanced on the balls of his feet, ready to catch her if she faltered.

Her energy sputtered.

He darted forward and swept her into his arms just as her knees buckled. “I let you go too long.” His voice was gruff, the angry beat of his heart and the fact that his stomach was lodged in his throat making a lighthearted tone impossible.

Lexi draped her arms around his neck. “Hardly.” A contented sigh hummed past her lips and her head relaxed against his shoulder. “But I am tired.”

Eryx lowered her to the ground, but kept an arm around her waist. “That’s burnout. Just like you had too much before, now you’re running low. You need food and rest. Once you’ve acclimated, the extremes won’t be so great.”

Stomach rumbling in agreement, she pressed a hand against her belly. “I love it.” Huffing, she leaned over and rested her hands on her knees, and looked up at him. Her eyes twinkled and she smiled wide enough to show perfect white teeth. “For the first time in my life, I feel right. I think I could handle just about anything you throw at me today.”

Could you handle the idea of being my mate? The thought leapt up along with a growl he barely kept in check.

I know, I know! A crummy time to cut things short on you, but I promise what happens next is…well…delicious. 🙂

I hope you’ll come join Eryx and Lexi on their adventures and explore more of their wonderful world.

See you in paradise!

Rhenna

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Meet the Author

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Rhenna Morgan writes for the same reason she reads—to escape reality.

Yes, her life rocks—two beautiful little girls, a great husband, a steady job, and the kind of friends that would take you out back if you hurt her. But, like most women, she’s got obligations stacked tight from dusk to dawn. So, when the world gets her down, she slips into something…less realistic.

Romance is a must. So is a steamy romp (or four). Nothing thrills her more than the fantasy of new, exciting worlds, strong, intuitive men, and the sigh of, “Oh if only that could happen to me.”

So, if you’re picking up one of her books, expect portals into alternate realms and men who’ll fight to keep the women they want. Romantic escape for the women who need it.

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I love this quote, Diana
“I’m wondering what to read next.” — Matilda, Roald Dahl

Blog Tour: Pride by Rosie Somers and Giveaway

Pride2Pride by Rosie Somers

Seventeen-year-old Gabriella Pierce is used to taking care of herself, but she’s about to become responsible for a whole lot more. When she gets a visit from three men claiming to be defenders of fantastical rings imbued with the powers of THE CARDINAL SINS, her life is changed irrevocably.

Gabby is the steward of PRIDE

To make matters worse, she’s falling hard for fellow steward, Grant Barnett, and he hates her guts. Now Gabby has to learn to protect Pride without letting her feelings for Grant get in the way.

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Praise for the Book:

Iola’s Christian Reads: “Pride is aimed at the YA market, and is the first in a planned series (presumably one for each of the seven deadly sins). It incorporates elements of other well-known YA series such as Harry Potter and Divergent, (an orphan who is the ‘chosen one’ fighting the forces of evil). It has that fast pace and addictive quality which makes it hard to put down.”

“…it was thrilling enough to grab my attention and I can’t wait to continue Gabby’s story in the next installment. Rosie Somers has made it to my Author’s to watch for list!”

 

Excerpt
Copyright © Rosie Somers

Gabby

 

The man didn’t make a sound. He stood stock still for the span of one sharp, inhaled breath, then he crumpled to the floor. After assuring herself there was no one behind him, Gabby flipped her flashlight on and knelt to give the unconscious heap at her feet her full attention. Oh God, she’d killed him. She just knew it.

Save for green streaks coursing through his thick, black hair, and a spot of blood near his temple, there wasn’t any color on him. His clothes were black, his skin winter-pale. Everything about his appearance was smooth, lean, handsome—no feature out of place. Full lips, chiseled jaw, and strikingly thick eyelashes. He was pretty, for a boy. It all fit, even the green hair. And he was still breathing. She wasn’t a murderer.

Suddenly, a strong hand gripped her forearm, and the heavy flashlight was ripped from her grasp. Wrenching free from the iron grip, she tried to turn around as she stood. Instead, she fell backward over Pretty Boy, landing hard on her butt with her legs draped over his torso.

Gabby scrambled to her feet. The moment she was steady, she broke into a run, but only made it as far as the back door before arms like steel bands wrapped around her from behind, pinning her to a rock-solid chest. She couldn’t breathe.

“We’re not here to hurt you, Gabriella,” a deep voice murmured into her ear. As if to prove the honesty of his words, the man relaxed his hold just enough for her to breathe normally.

“Yeah, right.” And her foster dad had only wanted to give her a kiss goodnight—with his tongue. Gabby knew what men were like, and she was not about to be fooled by this one. “How do you know my name?”

“It’s a long story, but we’ve been lookin’ for ya for some time now.” He had an Irish accent.

“Who are you?”

He turned their bodies back toward the unconscious man across the room. Now another guy stood over Pretty Boy. He wasseveral years older, thirty maybe. His pale blond hair was short and, even from across the room, it was clear he was much taller than her.

As Vice Guy half-carried her to the other men, a muffled moan floated up to meet them, and the guy on the floor took great care disentangling lanky limbs to pull himself to a kneeling position. He rubbed the side of his head with one hand while he used the other to brace himself against the wall. The look Pretty Boy raked over Gabby as he got up made her cringe.

The guy still holding her spoke. “If I let ya go, will ya promise not to run? We’re not goin’ to hurt ya. We’re here because we need your help.”

She believed him. Maybe because, even though she’d just clobbered his friend, he hadn’t hurt her. She nodded and was immediately released.

She turned, but the guy behind her wasn’t the giant with superhuman strength she’d imagined. Her captor was probably only a couple of years older than her, with dark auburn hair and a hint of a dimple on his right cheek. Despite the seriousness of the situation, his bright blue eyes sparkled with interest, and the corners of his lips were turned up in an amused smile.

He didn’t take his gaze off her, even when he took several steps away. Instead, he stood arms crossed, feet planted apart. Poised to give chase if she fled. Running had crossed her mind, but something compelled her to stay at least long enough to hear what they had to say.

“Well …?” She prompted with a wave of her hand that clearly said, get on with it.

The blond man cleared his throat. “Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Andrew. This is Lucas.” He motioned toward the man who’d grabbed her, then to the one she’d knocked out. “And Grant.”

Grant’s eyes were narrowed. She shifted under his scrutiny and diverted her gaze.

Andrew whispered something in his ear, and Grant looked down at his feet. Andrew continued, “We need to go.”

They were there to abduct her. At the realization, panic rose in Gabby’s chest, choking her breath into shallow threads. She threw her hands up defensively and backed away with slow, shaky steps. “I’m not going anywhere with you.”

Andrew sighed. “You may not want to now, but you will when you find out why.”

“Then tell me.”

He checked his watch, then squared his shoulders in determination. “Have you ever heard of the seven deadly sins?”

Gabby snorted. “Who hasn’t?”

“I assume you don’t realize how serious they are. We’ve spent our lives protecting humanity from the temptations and you laugh at the mention of them?” Grant’s voice was deep and forceful.

He looked as though he would have continued scolding her, but Lucas uttered a soft “Dude” and shook his head. Grant snapped his mouth shut and raised a hand to rub the back of his neck.

Lucas picked up where Andrew left off. “Do ya know much abou’ the history of the sins?”

She’d only ever heard an Irish brogue on TV. His lilting tone was soothing.

He raised an eyebrow.

Oh, he’d asked a question. What was it? Ah yes, history of the sins. Gabby shook her head.

“In the latter half of the fourth century, a monk fled Constantinople to a small monastery in Egypt. There, he penned a list of eight sins which he referred to as the Temptations of Man: Pride, Avarice, Acedia, Gluttony, Impurity, Anger, Sadness, and Vainglory.”

He took a few steps back and leaned against the wall, then continued, “For two centuries, almost all of those not involved with that particular monastery thought the list of Temptations was nothing more than the opinion of one monk, a suggestion of how to lead a good Christian life. Then, sometime around five-ninety A.D., Pope Gregory the First came across a collection of rings tha’ had been housed by this monastic order in utter secrecy. They considered them so powerful only the handler was permitted near them, just one specific monk who devoted his life to ensurin’ no one else came into contact with the Temptations.”

“Listen guys, much as I appreciate the history lesson, I’ve got work in …”she made a show of checking her non-existent watch, “a few hours, so I really hope you’re getting to a point.” This earned her a leveling glare from Grant.

“Pope Gregory had the rings studied and discovered they were in fact imbued with special properties. It seemed they had the power to influence people toward certain … well … temptations,” Andrew replied.

What asylum had these guys broken out of? Did they actually believe this nonsense they were spouting? “Seriously, jewelry that makes people sin? Right.” Gabby moved to her bag and gathered her clothing, making sure to keep the men in her line of sight.

Lucas reached into his shirt and pulled out a chain. He slipped it free of his neck and dangled it from the tips of two fingers. Swinging like a pendulum at the bottom of that chain was a brilliant, red ring.

“What is that?” She already knew the answer.

Lucas took several slow steps in her direction and extended his arm toward her. She clenched her fists and bit down on her tongue to keep from yelling at the men. How dare they sneak into her makeshift home, intruding into her life, practically scaring her to death. Now, they were feeding her this absurd story about sin-possessed rings and crazy monks.

The closer he got, her anger went from muted seething to barely-contained rage. The more she thought about it, the more she wished she was still in possession of her Maglite so she could hit him with it, and maybe again after that. When Lucas was little more than five feet from her, he winked and reversed direction. With each step he took away from her, the violent feelings receded.

“Anger,” Gabby answered her own question.

“Anger,” Andrew affirmed. “Lucas is the steward. I’m the steward of Pride, Grant of Envy.”

Grant’s eyes narrowed at her, while Andrew pulled a matching chain from beneath his own T-shirt and let the attached orange ring fall to rest against his chest. Something about Andrew’s ring was different though. Sure, power emanated from it, too, but she wasn’t experiencing pride. This power was different. It tingled—almost like static electricity.

After slipping the chain back over his head and tucking it under his neckline, Lucas picked up his story from where he’d left off. “Each of the rings has the ability to influence people toward a particular sin. Pope Gregory discovered which ones led to which temptation and labeled them accordingly. As a result, the original list of temptations was amended. It came to be known as the seven deadly sins.”

That was why the list Lucas spouted earlier didn’t sound right.

“The rings didn’t create the sins, of course. They just have the power to promote that particular feeling or action. Each sin has two rings and two custodians.” Lucas was matter-of-fact.

“What, like a janitor?”

He shook his head, but didn’t otherwise acknowledge her interruption. “The stewards are bound to their particular ring, can sense it, can control its influence over others.”

“How come I’ve never heard of these … stewards?”

“We exist in secret. If the world knew about us and the sins, all hell would break loose. We are not equipped to deal with that,” Grant answered in a tone that clearly said she should already know the answer.

“I still don’t understand what any of this has to do with me.” Were they ever going to get to the point?

Lucas took a tentative step toward her. “You’re the other steward of Pride, Gabriella.”

 

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Author Rosie Somers

Rosie Somers is a YA author who lives in Florida, soaking up the year round sunshine. She can often be found in her favourite spot on her favourite beach, nose-deep in a good book.

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