Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Hot Shot by Kristen Callihan | Excerpt

Thursday, April 20, 2017 with
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Hi everyone,
Some of my most anticipated romance books this year are suddenly coming out one right after the other and I love it!

Having read and LOVED the first three books in Kristen Callihan's Game On series, of course The Hot Shot is one I was most excited for this year. It's been two years since The Game Plan came out so I have had to be extra patient. But, it's finally out! And I one-clicked this bad boy as soon as it went live on Kindle.

Anyway, if you have not had a chance to pick up the Game On series yet, you can definitely pick up The Hot Shot no problem. It does well as a stand-alone (although after you read it, you're gonna wanna read The Hook Up and the rest of the previous books in the series.

First we were friends. Then we were roommates. Now I want more…

What can I say about Chess Copper? The woman is capable of bringing me to my knees. I know this about five minutes after getting naked for her.

No one is more surprised than me. The prickly photographer my team hired to shoot our annual charity calendar isn’t my usual type. She’s defense to my offense, a challenge at every turn. But when I’m with her, all the regrets and darkness goes away. She makes life fun.

I want to know Chess, be close to her. Which is a bad idea.

Chess is looking for a relationship. I’ve never given a woman more than one night. But when fate leaves Chess without a home, I step up and offer her mine. We’re roommates now. Friends without benefits. But it’s getting harder to keep our hands off each other. And the longer we live together the more I realize she’s becoming my everything.

Trick is… Now that I’ve made her believe I’m a bad bet, how do I convince her to give this player a true shot at forever?

CHESS

Grumbling, I toss on some black lounge pants and my oversized Tulane t-shirt and head to the drugstore.

My head throbs by the time I get there, and my insides are writhing. I rest my hand against my lower stomach and grab a basket before calling James to complain.

“I swear,” I tell him as I grab a bottle of painkillers. “It’s like this entire day has been cursed.”

He snickers. “Curse. Get it? Curse?”

I roll my eyes, even though he can’t see me. “Laugh it up. Meanwhile, it feels as if someone is playing Battleship in my uterus.”

“Poor Chessie bear. At least we know why you were in such a foul mood.”
A flush washes over my cheeks. “Yeah.” Lie. Lie. Lie. A tub of salted caramel gelato makes its way into the basket.

“Tell me you’re getting some gelato,” James says.

I smile. “Just grabbed it.”

“Salted caramel?”

“You know it.”

I find the feminine products aisle and search for my brand. “I’m going to go home, take a long bath with my gelato, and forget this fucking day.” Forget Finn. “And then I’m going to go on Amazon and buying a freaking year’s supply of tampons so I don’t have to make these kinds of emergency runs anymore.”

A low, deep chuckle rumbles from behind me, and all the tiny hairs lift on my arms.

“But you’ll still need your gelato,” a familiar—fuck me, seriously?—voice points out.

My insides swoop even as my cheeks burn.

“Who is that?” James asks in my ear.

I slowly turn on one heel. “The plague,” I say, glaring up at Finn Mannus’s smiling face.

“From asshat to plague.” Finn scrunches up his brow. “I’m not sure if that’s a step down or a tie.”

“Who is that?” James nearly yells now.

I don’t take my eyes off Finn. “I’ll call you back.”

James’s squawks of protest cut off as I hit the end button.

“Are you stalking me, Mannus?”

Finn a rests his hands low on his lean hips. “Having a healthy amount of conceit myself, I have to admire yours, but no, buttercup. My buddy Woodson lives a few blocks away. It’s poker night. I’m stocking up on beer.”

It’s only then I notice a twelve pack tucked under his other arm.

“And tampons?” I ask, with a pointed look around the aisle we’re standing in.

“Not tonight,” he says easily. “Though we used to keep a pack of them back in college. Light flows were perfect for stopping up bloody noses.”

A snort escapes me. “Now there’s a visual.” Somehow, I’ve taken a step closer to him. He’s freshly showered, the golden brown strands of his hair still damp at his temples. And I wonder if he’s just come from the gym or practice. “So back in college you went and bought these tampons?”

“Nah,” he says with a cheeky smile. “I’d ask one of the girls hanging around to get me some.”

“Of course you did.” My nose wrinkles with annoyance.

“Give me a little credit, Chess. I’d buy them now if I had to.”

“Hmm…” I eye him, trying not to return his smile. If only because it’s more fun when he teases. “So why are you in this aisle now, if not for potential nosebleed needs?”

“That’s easy.” He steps closer, a warm wall of muscle and clean scent. “I heard your voice.”

For a second I just blink. “You recognized my voice?”

His gaze darts over my face as if he’s trying to get a read on why I’m gaping at him. “Not to be…ah…rude, but you’re loud when you talk on the phone.”

“Yeah, but… You recognized it.” We’d only just met. It occurs to me that I’d recognized his both times he’d snuck up on me. Then again, his voice is distinctive, flowing like hot honey when he’s relaxed or hammering down like iron to rock when he’s taking command of a situation.

A soft flush of pink tints the tips of his ears. If I wasn’t staring at him, I might have missed it. He shifts his weight. “Was I not supposed to?”

“No. Yes.” I shake my head and laugh. “I don’t know.”

He grins then. “You’re cute when you’re flustered.”

“I’m not flustered.” I am.
Paperback ➜ http://amzn.to/2oRyppK


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kristen Callihan is an author because there is nothing else she’d rather be. She is a three-time RITA nominee and winner of two RT Reviewer’s Choice awards. Her novels have garnered starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and the Library Journal, as well as being awarded top picks by many reviewers. Her debut book Firelight received RT Magazine’s Seal of Excellence, was named a best book of the year by Library Journal , best book of Spring 2012 by Publisher’s Weekly, and was named the best romance book of 2012 by ALA RUSA. When she is not writing, she is reading.


Happy reading,
Michelle

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


Hi everyone,
I don't usually do teasers, but I'm super excited for All About the D by Lex Martin and Leslie McAdam. I have never read either of these authors before, but I really like the sound of this book.

If you've never come across All About the D until now, here's a little teaser.

Chills erupt down my arms when I hear his deep, sexy voice on the phone.

But he won’t tell me his last name.

Too risky, he insists.

He says he’ll show me why.

His email warns me with four little letters—NSFW.

But I click anyway.

Sounds potentially humorously filthy, right?

All About the D's the official cover and synopsis won't be out until April 28, and it comes out May 2nd.

You can add it on Goodreads here.

Happy reading,
Michelle

Monday, April 17, 2017


Hello everyone,
One of my most anticipated books of 2017 is being released this coming Tuesday! I'm talking about The Thing About Love by Julie James of course, in case you somehow missed the banner above. Read on for my thoughts, an awesome excerpt, and info about Julie's upcoming events.

Publisher: Berkley Romance
Release Date: April 18, 2017 (tomorrow!)
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: standalone
Synopsis
FBI agents Jessica Harlow and John Shepherd have a past. The former lawyer and cocky Army ranger clashed during their training at Quantico, gladly going their separate ways after graduating from the Academy. Six years later, the last thing either of them expects is to run into each other again–assigned to work as partners in a high-profile undercover sting.

For both of them, being paired with a former rival couldn’t come at a worse time. Recently divorced from a Hollywood producer and looking for a fresh start, Jessica is eager to prove herself at her new field office. And John is just one case away from his dream assignment to the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team. In order to nail a corrupt Florida politician, they’ll have to find a way to work as a team–a task that becomes even trickier when they’re forced to hole up at a romantic, beachfront resort as part of the investigation. Suddenly, the heat behind their nonstop sparring threatens to make the job a whole lot more complicated...



My favorite romance genre is contemporary and I have a LOT of favorite authors in this genre, but if I am forced to pick just one I would pick Julie James. She's my OG in contemporary romance--she made me fall in love with the genre after reading Practice Makes Perfect back in '09. 

Her books are the only ones I reread from beginning to end these days when I do not have the luxury of time to be rereading books, yet I still somehow find the time to reread Practice Makes Perfect and Something About You (my two ultimate faves) at least once every year.

Okay, now that we've established how much I love Julie James's books I am happy to say that of course I loved The Thing About Love. I've been patiently waiting for this book for two years (Julie usually releases one book a year, but she needed extra time to work on this book which impacted its original 2016 release date--anyway, Julie talks about all that on her blog post here), and it's definitely worth the wait.

In The Thing About Love, Julie pairs two FBI special agents John Shepard (an ex-Ranger currently working in the organized crime squad) and Jessica Harlow (a former attorney currently working in the public corruption squad) who first met as trainees in Quantico. They clashed and got in each other's nerves and gladly went their separate ways only to meet again six years later when they are assigned as partners to do undercover work in a high-profile case about a shady mayor.

On the romance front, these two were both burned by their previous relationships. The Thing About Love began with John returning home from a lengthy undercover sting and discovering his girlfriend in bed with one of his friends. So, even though he was partnered with Jessica, he welcomed the distraction a new case gave him. Jessica, recently divorced from her husband of three years, left LA and moved back home to Chicago hoping for a fresh start. Her first case had her partnered up with a man she's never seen eye-to-eye with. However, both pride themselves in being professionals and as they work together they grow to respect each other. As they get to know each other more, the attraction between them also intensifies. 

I absolutely love the chemistry and sexual tension between John and Jessica, which was evident even in the flashbacks when they first met and we learn why they hate each other. But, what's really awesome about these two (as with Julie's other romantic pairs in her previous books) is that they are true equals and balance each other out--John recognizes that Jessica's ingenuity and brainpower is just as significant his physical prowess and vice versa. The sexytimes in this book aren't very explicit but still sexy and the swoon factor is definitely turned up. I just love this couple--I find I missed the unique dynamic Julie James brings to each couple she writes about in her books and I was just so happy to be reading a new book by her.

I devoured The Thing About Love! Nobody can do witty dialogue like Julie James. No one. And we get a lot of her signature smart, witty banter in this novel. John and Jessica often verbally clashed which made for great dialogue that I ate right up. I love Jessica's sass! I also love their competitive antics--these two really know how to push each other's buttons, which made for an entertaining enemies-to-lovers story that I stayed up way too late reading. 

I do have to mention that I learned a lot more about the inner workings of the FBI in this book than I did in Julie's previous FBI/US Attorney books, which was cool with me. I found everything very interesting and I wish I am bad-ass enough to apply and survive training. Also, characters from Julie's previous FBI/US Attorney series books make an appearance in this one and was wonderful revisiting them and getting some hints of what they've been up to. 

I loved The Thing About Love! The only reason I didn't give it the full 5 stars is because it didn't make it in the top two of my personal ranking of Julie's books which goes like this: Practice Makes Perfect, Something About You, and Love Irresistibly, It Happened One Wedding, About That Night, A Lot Like Love, and now The Thing About Love are all tied at number three. If you're wondering about Suddenly One Summer, that one is number four in my ranking. But, yeah, Practice Makes Perfect and Something About You are the ultimate. And, basically, all this just goes to show that if you're not reading Julie James, you are completely missing out. She's the queen of sexy, witty, and smart contemporary romance novels. The QUEEN. Pick her books up--you won't regret it. Plus, all of her books can be read as standalones so you can start with The Thing About Love if you so choose, but all of her books are excellent and I can't recommend them enough.


Steeling himself, John turned around and smiled as Jessica approached. “Yes, Agent Harlow. How can I be of service?”

In response to his dry tone, she threw him a glare so cold it could’ve frozen all nine circles of Dante’s Hell. Fittingly, just nine of the many places he would rather be than stuck working with her on this investigation.

“Look, I’m not thrilled about this, either.” Keeping her voice low, she came to a stop next to him at the elevator bank. “I thought you were supposed to be on the Hostage Rescue Team already.”

“And I thought you were supposed to be in L.A.”

There was a quick flash in her eyes before she shrugged off his question. “Change of plans.”

The elevator arrived at their floor, and they both stepped inside. She hit the button for the seventh floor, where the public corruption squad was located. Standing on the opposite side, he pressed the button for floor five.

They faced off as the doors shut. She folded her arms across her chest and studied him with those crystalline blue eyes that could so cleverly mask her emotions.

As he knew well.

“We’re going to have to figure this out,” she said. “We’re supposed to be business partners in this.”

Thank you, yes, being a professional, he was aware of that. He took a step closer. “It’s called “undercover” work, Harlow. If I can pretend to be a gun-buying, murder-for-hire thug, I think I can handle playing some rich investor-type who wants to skirt a few measly zoning laws.” Even a rich investor-type who was apparently masochistic enough to get in bed with the likes of her.

Professionally-speaking.

“Measly zoning laws?” she repeated.

Ooh, now he’d gone and pissed her off. How nice it was, really, that they could pick up like this, right where they’d left off.

She drew in closer, tilting her head back to meet his gaze. He was over a foot taller than her, although he noticed that she was heightening a bit with those expensive-looking three-inch heels she wore.

“Our target in this investigation is the mayor of the thirteenth largest city in the United States. That’s a pretty big deal in my book.” She gestured to his facial scruff and hair. “And while I appreciate that this . . . Sons of Anarchy motif you’ve got going might ingratiate yourself with the gun-buying, murder-for-hire, organized-crime thugs of the world, that’s not quite going to fly with this sting operation.”

“’Thirteenth largest city in the United States?’” he scoffed. “Just how many hours did you spend reviewing the case files last night?”

She smiled sweetly as the elevator arrived at her floor. “Enough to get the jump on you.”

Then the doors sprang open, and she gave him a friendly wave, once again stepping into the role of Ms. Congeniality. “So glad we got to catch up like this, Agent Shepherd. We’ll talk again soon.”

He watched her stride confidently down the hallway as the elevator doors closed between them.

Enough to get the jump on you.

Not for long, sweetheart.

Time for him to get cracking on that case file.

Happy reading,
Michelle

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Publisher: Amulet Books
Release Date: April 4, 2017 (out now!)
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: standalone
Synopsis
Last summer, Lucy’s and Ben’s lives changed in an instant. One moment, they were shyly flirting on a lake raft, finally about to admit their feelings to each other after years of yearning. In the next, Trixie—Lucy’s best friend and Ben’s sister—was gone, her heart giving out during a routine swim. And just like that, the idyllic world they knew turned upside down, and the would-be couple drifted apart, swallowed up by their grief. Now it’s a year later in their small lake town, and as the anniversary of Trixie’s death looms, Lucy and Ben’s undeniable connection pulls them back together. They can’t change what happened the day they lost Trixie, but the summer might finally bring them closer to healing—and to each other.


This whole book is printed in PURPLE.


If you're making a list of summery, emotional-romantic contemporary YA books, add The Last Thing You Said to your list. 

The Last Thing You Said is told in first-person dual perspective through Lucy and Ben and their first summer after Trixie--Lucy's best friend and Ben's sister--passed away from an unknown heart defect. The thing was, the day Trixie died, Ben and Lucy were about to admit their feelings for one another, but in one instant everything changed. Immediately after Trixie's funeral Ben said some very hurtful things, and almost a year later they have been avoiding each other (as much as they can living in a small fishing town in Minnesota) as well as dealing with their grief.

This novel is pretty slow paced, which I didn't mind so much, because it went with the small-town and summers by lake feel. It's also dealing with a lot emotional stuff, not just with grieving for a loved one's death, but also Ben and Lucy's unresolved feelings for each other, as well as some family stuff they each have to deal with. I appreciated that we get both Lucy and Ben's POV because if everything was in Lucy's perspective I would have been hating on Ben the whole time rather than just being frustrated with him because there was a lot of back and forth with him--Lucy too, but mostly Ben. The added insight about Ben through his chapters helped me like his character more than I would have. 

My favorite character was definitely Lucy. I felt a sort of kinship with her because she's on the quieter side, who thinks things through a million times before taking action, who always kind of needed her much bold friend to pull her out of her shell. And, speaking of friends, my favorite thing about The Last Thing You Said is definitely the female friendships between Lucy and Trixie (told through flashbacks and through "Trixies" which is what Trixie's little cousin Emily calls stories about Trixie and Lucy growing up) as well as Lucy and her new friend Hannah's friendship. There were none of the cattiness and trying to one up each other or bring each other down to feel better about themselves that is typical in these types of friendships in YA where one is more outgoing and wild than the other. NONE. And I so, so, so appreciate it! These girls just supported each other and pushed each other when needed, and it was just so wonderful and refreshing to see!

I do have to mention though that there is sort of a love triangle in this book. There's a new boy Simon, who's family is renting the house next to Lucy's. I liked Simon well enough--he's actually a nice guy and he was very open about his feelings for Lucy--he was basically Ben's opposite in that sense. I didn't mind his character for the most part (although I didn't like how he lied to Ben about his relationship with Lucy before they were "official"), but we all know Lucy and Ben were endgame so his presence is just another hurdle for Lucy and Ben to jump over. So, yeah, while he's okay I was just meh about him.

Other things I liked about The Last Thing You Said include the strong family presence (Ben and Lucy's parents were very much present in the story), the small Minnesotan resort town and descriptions of the lake and summer activities and just the overall small-town community (I love books set in small towns!), and the depth of the story and characters overall. This book is no fluffy YA contemporary romance, but instead a heartfelt, emotional, romantic story to savor.

Again, if you're looking for a romantic summer read that is not all fluff The Last Thing You Said should be on your list. 
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