Je suis Charlie

Je suis Charlie

Dienstag, 30. Juli 2019

BLOG TOUR: The Escape Room by Megan Goldin #TheEscapeRoom


BLOG TOUR





Blurb:

Vincent, Jules, Sylvie, and Sam are ruthlessly ambitious high-flyers working in the lucrative world of Wall Street finance where deception and intimidation thrive. Getting rich is all that matters, and they'll do anything to reach the top.

When they are ordered to participate in a corporate team-building exercise that requires them to escape from a locked elevator, dark secrets of their team begin to be laid bare.

The biggest mystery to solve in this lethal game: What happened to Sara Hall? Once a young shining star—”now gone but not forgotten”.

This is no longer a game.
They’re fighting for their lives.



Woooow, what a ride! Honestly? This was not a book that pulled me in right from the start. Actually, it took me three tries to get past the first chapters - and then I couldn't put it down anymore.
There were times when I thought that some things didn't sound very plausible or a bit overstated but on the whole the story drew me in.

The different perspectives of those in the escalator, trying desperately to survive and Sara's story teling us about the events that led to the death of several people and might, well, let's just say that the further we get, the more we learn about Vincent and the others in the escalator, the more we realize that there is a definite chance that not all of them...or none...might be able to escape. And the more we learn about them...let's just say that I was getting more and more upset and seeing that in the present situation most of them showed character traits that didn't necessarily endear them to me either...well, I didn't feel very sorry for them. Still - I was intrigued and even when I felt that I knew what was happening or rather who made things happen, I needed to know more about it.


When all of their dark secrets are revealed, the events come thick and fast and nothing will ever be the same - not even for those who survive. If someone survives...
A well-written, intriguing and compelling story that kept me on my toes, I really enjoyed reading this book!


★★


EXCERPT

 ***
                                                                      PROLOGUE   

It was Miguel who called 911 at 4:07 a.m. on an icy Sunday morning. The young security guard
spoke in an unsteady voice, fear disguised by cocky nonchalance.
Miguel had been an aspiring bodybuilder until he injured his back lifting boxes in a warehouse
job and had to take night- shift work guarding a luxury office tower in the final stages of
construction. He had a muscular physique, dark hair, and a cleft in his chin.
He was conducting a cursory inspection when a scream rang out. At first, he didn’t hear a thing.
Hip- hop music blasted through the oversize headphones he wore as he swept his flashlight
across the dark recesses of the lobby.
The beam flicked across the classical faces of reproduction Greek busts cast in metal and inset
into niches in the walls. They evoked an eerie otherworldliness, which gave the place the aura of
a mausoleum.
Miguel paused his music to search for a fresh play list of songs. It was then that he heard the tail
end of a muffled scream.
The sound was so unexpected that he instinctively froze. It wasn’t the first time he’d heard
strange noises at night, whether it was the screech of tomcats brawling or the whine of
construction cranes buffeted by wind. Silence followed. Miguel chided himself for his childish
reaction.
He pressed PLAY to listen to a new song and was immediately assaulted by the explosive beat of
a tune doing the rounds at the dance clubs where he hung out with friends.
Still, something in the screech he’d heard a moment before rattled him enough for him to be
extra diligent.
He bent down to check the lock of the revolving lobby door. It was bolted shut. He swept the
flashlight across a pair of still escalators and then, above his head, across the glass- walled
mezzanine floor that overlooked the lobby.
He checked behind the long reception desk of blond oak slats and noticed that a black chair was
at an odd angle, as if someone had left in a hurry.
A stepladder was propped against a wall where the lobby café was being set up alongside a water
fountain that was not yet functional. Plastic- wrapped café tables and chairs were piled up
alongside it.
In the far corner, he shone his flashlight in the direction of an elaborate model of the building
complex shown to prospective tenants by Realtors rushing to achieve occupancy targets in time
for the building’s opening the following month.

The model detailed an ambitious master plan to turn an abandoned ware house district that had
been a magnet for homeless people and addicts into a high- end financial and shopping precinct.
The first tower was almost finished. A second was halfway through construction.
When Miguel turned around to face the elevator lobby, he was struck by something so
incongruent that he pushed his headphones off his head and onto his shoulders.
The backlit green fluorescent light of an elevator switch flickered in the dark. It suggested that an
elevator was in use. That was impossible, because he was the only person there.
In the sobriety of the silent echo that followed, he convinced himself once again that his vague
sense of unease was the hallucination of a fatigued mind. There was nobody in the elevator for
the simple reason that the only people on- site on weekends were the security
guards. Two per shift. Except to night, Miguel was the only one on duty.
When Stu had been a no- show for his shift, Miguel figured he’d manage alone. The construction
site was fenced off with towering barbed- wire fences and a heavy- duty electric gate. Nobody
came in or out until the shift ended.
In the four months he’d worked there, the only intruders he’d encountered were feral cats and
rats scampering across construction equipment in the middle of the night. Nothing ever happened
during the night shift.
That was what he liked about the job. He was able to study and sleep and still get paid.
Sometimes he’d sleep for a couple of hours on the soft leather lobby sofa, which he found
preferable to the lumpy stretcher in the portable office where the guards took turns resting
between patrols. The CCTV cameras hadn’t been hooked up yet, so he could still get away with
it.
From the main access road, the complex looked completed. It had a driveway entry lined with
young maples in planter boxes. The lobby had been fitted out and furnished to impress
prospective tenants who came to view office space.
The second tower, facing the East River, looked unmistakably like a construction site. It was
wrapped with scaffolding. Shipping containers storing building materials were arranged like
colorful Lego blocks in a muddy field alongside idle bulldozers and a crane.
Miguel removed keys from his belt to open the side entrance to let himself out, when he heard a
loud crack. It whipped through the lobby with an intensity that made his ears ring.
Two more cracks followed. They were unmistakably the sound of gunshots. He hit the ground
and called 911. He was terrified the shooter was making his way to the lobby but cocky enough
to cover his fear with bravado when he spoke.
“Something bad’s going down here.” He gave the 911 dispatcher the address. “You should get
cops over here.”

Miguel figured from the skepticism in the dispatcher’s cool voice that his call was being given
priority right below the doughnut run.
His heart thumped like a drum as he waited for the cops to arrive. You chicken shit, he berated
himself as he took cover behind a sofa. He exhaled into his shirt to muffle the sound of his rapid
breathing. He was afraid he would give away his position to the shooter.
A wave of relief washed over him when the lobby finally lit up with a hazy blue strobe as a
police car pulled in at the taxi stand. Miguel went outside to meet the cops.
“What’s going on?” An older cop with a thick gut hanging over his belted pants emerged from
the front passenger seat.
“Beats me,” said Miguel. “I heard a scream. Inside the building. Then I heard what I’m pretty
sure were gunshots.”
“How many shots?” A younger cop came around the car to meet him, snapping a wad of gum in
his mouth.
“Two, maybe three shots. Then nothing.”
“Is anyone else around?” The older cop’s expression was hidden under a thick gray mustache.
“They clear out the site on Friday night. No construction workers. No nobody. Except me. I’m
the night guard.”
“Then what makes you think there’s a shooter?”
“I heard a loud crack. Sure sounded like a gunshot. Then two more. Came from somewhere up in
the tower.”
“Maybe construction equipment fell? That possible?”
A faint thread of red suffused Miguel’s face as he contemplated the possibility that he’d
panicked over nothing. They moved into the lobby to check things out, but he was feeling less
confident than when he’d called 911. “I’m pretty sure they—” He stopped speaking as they
all heard the unmistakable sound of a descending elevator.
“I thought you said there was nobody here,” said the older cop.
“There isn’t.”
“Could have fooled me,” said the second cop. They moved through to the elevator lobby. A light
above the elevator doors was flashing to indicate an elevator’s imminent arrival. “Someone’s
here.”
“The building opens for business in a few weeks,” said Miguel. “Nobody’s supposed to be here.”
The cops drew their guns from their holsters and stood in front of the elevator doors in a shooting
stance— slightly crouched, legs apart. One of the cops gestured furiously for Miguel to move out
of the way. Miguel stepped back. He hovered near an abstract metal sculpture

set into the wall at the dead end of the elevator lobby.
A bell chimed. The elevator heaved as it arrived.
The doors parted with a slow hiss. Miguel swallowed hard as the gap widened. He strained to see
what was going on. The cops were blocking his line of sight and he was at too sharp an angle to
see much.
“Police,” shouted both cops in unison. “Put your weapon down.”
Miguel instinctively pressed himself against the wall. He flinched as the first round of bullets
was fired. There were too many shots to count. His ears rang so badly, it took him a moment to
realize the police had stopped firing. They’d lowered their weapons and were shouting
something. He didn’t know what. He couldn’t hear a thing over the ringing in his ears.
Miguel saw the younger cop talk into his radio. The cop’s mouth opened and closed. Miguel
couldn’t make out the words. Gradually, his hearing returned and he heard the tail end of a
stream of NYPD jargon.
He couldn’t understand most of what was said. Something about “nonresponsive” and needing “a
bus,” which he assumed meant an ambulance. Miguel watched a trickle of blood run along the
marble floor until it formed a puddle. He edged closer. He glimpsed blood splatter on the wall of
the elevator. He took one more step. Finally, he could see inside the elevator. He immediately

regretted it. He’d never seen so much blood in all his life.

ONE
THE ELEVATOR

Thirty-four Hours Earlier
Vincent was the last to arrive. His dark overcoat flared behind him as he strode through the
lobby. The other three were standing in an informal huddle by a leather sofa. They didn’t notice
Vincent come in. They were on their phones, with their backs to the entrance, preoccupied with
emails and silent contemplation as to why they had been called to a last-minute meeting on a
Friday night at an out-of-the-way office building in the South Bronx.
Vincent observed them from a distance as he walked across the lobby toward them. Over the
years, the four of them had spent more time together than apart. Vincent knew them almost better
than he knew himself. He knew their secrets, and their lies. There were times when he could
honestly say that he’d never despised anyone more than these three people. He suspected they all
shared the sentiment. Yet they needed one another. Their fates had been joined together long
before.

Sylvie’s face bore its usual expression, a few degrees short of a resting-bitch face. With her
cover-girl looks and dark blond hair pinned in a topknot that drew attention to her green eyes,
Sylvie looked like the catwalk model that she’d been when she was a teenager. She was irritated
by being called to an unscheduled meeting when she had to pack for Paris, but she didn’t let it
show on her face. She studiously kept a faint upward tilt to her lips. It was a practice drummed
into her over many years working in a male-dominated profession. Men could snarl or look
angry with impunity; women had to smile serenely regardless of the provocation.
To her right stood Sam, wearing a charcoal suit with a white shirt and a black tie. His stubble
matched the dark blond of his closely cropped hair. His jaw twitched from the knot of anxiety in
his guts. He’d felt stabbing pains ever since his wife, Kim, telephoned during the drive over. She
was furious that he wouldn’t make the flight to Antigua because he was attending an
unscheduled meeting. She hated the fact that his work always took precedence over her and the
girls.
Jules stood slightly away from the other two, sucking on a peppermint candy to disguise the
alcohol on his breath. He wore a suave burgundy-and-navy silk tie that made his Gypsy eyes
burn with intensity. His dark hair was brushed back in the style of a fifties movie star. He usually
drank vodka because it was odorless and didn’t make his face flush, but now his cheeks were
ruddy in a tell-tale sign he’d been drinking. The minibar in his chauffeured car was out of vodka,
so he’d had to make do with whiskey on the ride over. The empty bottles were still rattling
around in his briefcase.
As they waited for their meeting, they all had the same paranoid notion that they’d been brought
to a satellite office to be retrenched. Their careers would be assassinated silently, away from the
watercooler gossips at the head office.
It was how they would have done it if the positions were reversed. A Friday-evening meeting at
an out-of-the-way office, concluding with a retrenchment package and a nondisclosure
agreement signed and sealed.
The firm was considering unprecedented layoffs, and they were acutely aware they had red
targets on their backs. They said none of this to one another. They kept their eyes downcast as
they worked on their phones, unaware they were the only ones in the lobby. Just as they hadn’t
paid much mind to the cranes and construction fencing on their way in.
Sam checked his bank account while he waited. The negative balance made him queasy. He’d
wiped out all the cash in his account that morning paying Kim’s credit-card bill. If he lost his
job, then the floodgates would open. He could survive two to three months without work; after
that, he’d have to sell assets. That alone would destroy him financially. He was leveraged to the
hilt. Some of his assets were worth less now than when he’d bought them.
The last time Sam had received a credit-card bill that huge, he’d immediately lowered Kim’s
credit limit. Kim found out when her payment for an eleven-thousand-dollar Hermès handbag
was rejected at the Madison Avenue store in front of her friends. She was mortified. They had a
huge blowup that night, and he reluctantly restored her credit limit. Now he paid all her bills

without a word of complaint. Even if it meant taking out bridging loans. Even if it meant
constantly feeling on the verge of a heart attack.
Sam knew that Kim spent money as much for attention as out of boredom. She complained that
Sam was never around to help with the twins. He’d had to point out that they’d hired a maid to
give her all the help she needed. Three maids, to be truthful. Three within the space of two years.
The third had walked out in tears a week ago due to Kim’s erratic temper.
Kim was never satisfied with anything. If Sam gave Kim a platinum necklace, she wanted it in
gold. If he took her to London, she wanted Paris. If he bought her a BMW, she wanted a Porsche.
Satisfying her unceasing demands was doable when his job prospects were good, but the firm
had lost a major account, and since Christmas word had spread of an impending restructure.
Everyone knew that was a euphemism for layoffs.
Sam never doubted that Kim would leave him if he couldn’t support her lifestyle anymore. She’d
demand full custody of the girls and she’d raise them to hate him. Kim forgave most of his
transgressions, she could even live with his infidelities, but she never forgave failure.
It was Sam who first heard the footsteps sounding through the vast lobby. The long, hurried
strides of a man running late to a meeting. Sam swung around as their boss arrived. Vincent’s
square jaw was tight and his broad shoulders were tense as he joined them without saying a
word.
“You almost didn’t make it,” observed Sylvie.
“The traffic was terrible.” Vincent ran his hand over his overcoat pocket in the habit of a man
who had recently stopped smoking. Instead of cigarettes, he took out a pair of glasses, which he
put on to examine the message on his phone. “Are you all aware of the purpose of this meeting?”
“The email invite from HR wasn’t exactly brimming with information,” said Sam. “You said in
your text message it was compulsory for us to attend. That it took precedence over everything
else. Well, we’re all here. So maybe now you can enlighten us, Vincent. What’s so important
that I had to delay my trip to Antigua?”
“Who here has done an escape-room challenge before?” Vincent asked.
“Are you fucking kidding me?” Sam said. “I abandoned my wife on her dream vacation to
participate in a team-building activity! This is bullshit, Vincent. It’s goddamn bullshit and you
know it.”
“It will take an hour,” said Vincent calmly. “Next Friday is bonus day. I’m sure that we all agree
that it’s smart to be on our best behavior before bonus day, especially in the current climate.”
“Let’s do it,” said Sylvie, sighing. Her flight to Paris was at midnight. She still had plenty of time
to get home and pack. Vincent led them to a brightly lit elevator with its doors wide open. Inside
were mirrored walls and an alabaster marble floor.
They stepped inside. The steel doors shut behind them before they could turn around.

TWO
SARA HALL

It’s remarkable what a Windsor knot divulges about a man. Richie’s Italian silk tie was a brash
shade of red, with thin gold stripes running on a diagonal. It was the tie of a man whose
arrogance was dwarfed only by his ego.
In truth, I didn’t need to look at his tie to know that Richie was a douche. The dead giveaway
was that when I entered the interview room, a nervous smile on my pink matte painted lips, he
didn’t bother to greet me. Or even to stand up from the leather chair where he sat and surveyed
me as I entered the room.
While I categorized Richie as a first-class creep the moment I set eyes on him, I was acutely
aware that I needed to impress him if I was to have any chance of getting the job. I introduced
myself and reached out confidently to shake his hand. He shook my hand with a grip that was
tighter than necessary—a reminder, perhaps, that he could crush my career aspirations as easily
as he could break the bones in my delicate hand.
He introduced himself as Richard Worthington. The third, if you don’t mind. He had a two-
hundred-dollar haircut, a custom shave, and hands that were softer than butter. He was in his late
twenties, around five years older than I was.
When we were done shaking hands, Richie leaned back in his chair and surveyed me with a
touch of amusement as I settled into my seat across the table.
“You can take off your jacket and relax,” he said. “We try to keep interviews informal here.”
I took off my jacket and left it folded over the back of the chair next to me as I wondered what he
saw when he looked at me. Did he see a struggling business-school graduate with a newly
minted MBA that didn’t appear to be worth the paper it was written on? Or was he perceptive
enough to see an intelligent, accomplished young woman? Glossy brown hair cut to a
professional shoulder length, serious gray eyes, wearing a brand-new designer suit she couldn’t
afford and borrowed Louboutin shoes that were a half size too small and pinched her toes.
I took a deep breath and tried to project the poise and confidence necessary to show him that I
was the best candidate. Finally I had a chance at getting my dream job on Wall Street. I would do
everything that I could humanly do not to screw it up.
Richie wore a dark gray suit with a fitted white shirt. His cuff links were Hermès, arranged so
that the H insignia was clearly visible. On his wrist was an Audemars Piguet watch, a thirty-
grand piece that told everyone who cared that he was the very model of a Wall Street player.

Richie left me on the edge of my seat, waiting awkwardly, as he read over my résumé. Paper
rustled as he scanned the neatly formatted sheets that summed up my life in two pages. I had the
impression that he was looking at it for the first time. When he was done, he examined me over
the top of the pages with the lascivious expression of a john sizing up girls at a Nevada
whorehouse.

THREE
THE ELEVATOR

All the lights in the elevator turned off at once. It happened the moment the doors shut. One
moment they were in a brightly lit elevator; the next they were in pitch- darkness. They were as
good as blind, save for the weak fluorescent glow from a small display above the steel doors
showing the floor number.
Jules stumbled toward the elevator control panel. He pressed the button to open the doors. The
darkness was suffocating him. He had to get out. The elevator shot up before anything happened.
The jolt was unexpected. Jules lost his footing and fell against the wall with a thud.
As the elevator accelerated upward, they assumed the lights would be restored at any moment. In
every other respect, the elevator was working fine. It was ascending smoothly. The green display
above the door was showing the changing floor numbers. There was no reason why it should be
dark.
Without realizing it, they shifted toward one another, drawn together by a primordial fear of the
dark and the unknown dangers that lurked within it. Jules fumbled for his phone and turned on
the flashlight setting so that he could see what he was doing. He frantically pressed the buttons
for upcoming floors. They didn’t appear to respond to the insistent pressure of his thumb.
“It’s probably an express,” explained Sylvie. “I saw a sign in the lobby that said something about
the elevator running express until the seventieth floor.”
Jules pressed the button for the seventieth floor. And the seventy-first. And, for good measure,
the seventy- second, as well. The buttons immediately lit up one after the other, each button
backlit in green. Jules silently counted the remaining floors. All he could think about
was getting out.
He loosened his tie to alleviate the tightness in his chest. He’d never considered himself
claustrophobic, but he’d had an issue with confined spaces ever since he was a child. He once
left summer camp early, in hysterics after being accidentally locked in a toilet stall for a few
minutes. His mother told the camp leader that his overreaction was due to a childhood trauma
that left him somewhat claustrophobic and nervous in the dark.

“I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ll be taking the stairs on the way down,” Sam joked
with fake nonchalance. “I’m not getting back into this hunk of junk again.”
“Maybe the firm is locking us up in here until we resign voluntarily,” Jules said drily. “It’ll save
Stanhope a shitload of money.” He swallowed hard. The elevator was approaching the fortieth
floor. They were halfway there. He had to hold it together for another thirty floors.
“It would be a mistake if the firm retrenched any of us,” said Vincent. “I told the executive team
as much when we met earlier this week.” What Vincent didn’t mention was that several of the
leadership team had avoided looking at him during that meeting. That was when he knew the
writing was on the wall.
“Why get rid of us? We’ve always made the firm plenty of money,” Sylvie said.
“Until lately,” Vincent said pointedly.
They’d failed to secure two major deals in a row. Those deals had both gone to a key competitor,
who had inexplicably undercut them each time. It made them wonder whether their competitor
had inside knowledge of their bids. The team’s revenue was lower than it had
been in years. For the first time ever, their jobs were vulnerable.
“Are we getting fired, Vincent?” Jules asked as the elevator continued rising. “Is that why we
were summoned here? They must have told you something.”
“I got the same generic meeting invite that you all received,” Vincent responded. “It was only as
I arrived that I received a text with instructions to bring you all up to the eightieth floor for an
escape room challenge. The results of which, it said, would be used for ‘internal consultations
about future staff planning.’ Make of that what you will.”
“Sounds like they want to see how we perform tonight before deciding what to do with us,” said
Sylvie. “I’ve never done an escape room. What exactly are we supposed to do?”
“It’s straightforward,” said Sam. “You’re locked in a room and have to solve a series of clues to
get out.”
“And on that basis they’re going to decide which of us to fire?” Jules asked Vincent in the dark.
“I doubt it,” Vincent said. “The firm doesn’t work that way.”
“Vincent’s right,” said Jules cynically. “Let’s take a more optimistic tack. Maybe they’re using
our escape room performance to determine who to promote to Eric Miles’s job.” Eric had
resigned before Christmas under something of a cloud. They’d heard rumors the firm was going
to promote someone to the job internally. Such promotions were highly sought after. At a time
when their jobs were in jeopardy, it offered one of them a potential career lifeline.
The green display above the door flashed the number 67. They had three more floors to go until
the elevator finished the express part of the ride. The elevator slowed down and came to a stop
on the seventieth floor. Jules exhaled in relief. He stepped forward in anticipation of the doors
opening. They remained shut.

He pressed the open button on the control panel. Nothing happened. He pressed it again, holding
it down for several seconds. The doors still didn’t budge. He pressed the button three times in
quick succession. Nothing. Finally, in desperation, he pressed the red emergency button. There
was no response.
“It’s not working,” he said.
They looked up at the panel above the door that displayed the floor numbers. It had an E on its
screen. Error.
A small television monitor above the control panel turned on. At first, they didn’t think much of
it. They expected to see cable news or a stock market update, the type of thing usually broadcast
on elevator monitors.
It took a moment for their eyes to adjust to the brightness of the white television screen. After
another moment, a message appeared in large black letters.

WELCOME TO THE ESCAPE
ROOM. YOUR GOAL IS SIMPLE.
GET OUT ALIVE.

From The Escape Room. Copyright © 2019 by Megan Goldin and reprinted with
permission from St. Martin’s Press.

Samstag, 27. Juli 2019

Defying Gravity: A Second Chance Sports Romance Standalone (Gravity #2) by K.K. Allen #DefyingGravity

                                                               




Their greatest risk was the one they never took …

Defying Gravity, an all-new emotional sports romance from USA Today bestselling author K.K. Allen is available now!


It was an accidental spring fling three years ago—one week spent in the mountains of Big Sur and no one was the wiser. Ignore the fact that Tobias James was my neighbor and my best friend’s older brother. Or that upon our return his hoop dreams were waiting for him, robbing us of any potential future we could have shared.

Now, I’m fulfilling my own dreams in L.A. and my biggest dream of all is about to come true. The last thing I expected was for my past and my present to collide.

Not now. Not here. Not him.

But he struts back into my life like he never even left. Unfortunately, I’ll never forget what happened after he did.

The ball is in my court, but Tobias isn’t below stealing—my power, my resolve, my heart… When he wants a second chance to reignite our connection, my answer is simple. We can’t.

Not unless we defy the rules our dreams were built on and risk everything.



I really loved the Center of Gravity and was so much looking forward to Defying Gravity but
At times, rather often actually, it felt as if the hero and the heroine were sabotaging themselves on purpose instead of the two of them trying to find a way to be together. Every time there was a chance for them to be together, to get somewhere...boof...and done. Game over.
honestly, I'm still not sure how I feel about this book. A part of the problem is the fact that the love story (which was not really a second chance but rather a third, fourth, fifth... chance love story) was a bit frustrating.

It felt like a lot of drama and not enough substance actually. Even the hero's problems with his parents felt a lot like drama despite the severity and the complexity of the subject, as he just seemed to hold on to his grudge and felt that they betrayed him and hurt him without him ever trying to understand them and to see that maybe they did what they did because they loved him and just didn't know better.
His sister's problems with his relationship with Amelia though, that's another kettle of fish. On the whole, she was definitely overbearing and overstepping boundaries when it came to her brother. I must admit that even though the hero and the heroine both loved and liked her, I didn't share their feelings at all.
I really liked Tobias and Amelia though and I wanted them to find a way to be together but it was a rough road to get there. For them and for me.

On the other hand, I loved the values that this book and its story represented. The necessity to speak up and to stand up for yourself, for the pursuit of your dreams  - and also the knowledge that sometimes it is more important to stay true to yourself than to cling to a dream that hurts you.
Integrity, loyalty to yourself and others, the wish to make things better when you see that change is necessary and also the knowledge that sometimes it may be necessary to adjust your dreams and to find other ways to live them and to achieve your goals because life gets in the way.
Even though I think that it is necessary and healthy to reevaluate your dreams every now and then and honestly, at that point they didn't have much of an option left, I was a bit upset with Amelia at the end for sacrificing something good. Yes, I know that she found the next best thing but still, at this point, it felt a little bit like a betrayal. Love conquers all and so on but...

It took me some time to get into this book and I started several times to read it but gave up after a while. When I finally read it, I enjoyed reading it but I probably won't read it again and it couldn't completely captivate me.


.


Excerpt

Where can we find the best view in Los Angeles?”
I had to think about that one. Every trail I’d hiked in the area ended with a gorgeous view, but I didn’t think a hike was what he’d had in mind. That gave me an idea. “Griffith Observatory has some nice views. Not sure how parking is this time of night.” I was still thinking. “Or there’s always Canyon Lake Drive.”
The look he gave me next wrapped a string around my heart and tugged gently. “Somewhere you haven’t been with a dude.”
Forcing back my smile, I grabbed his phone. “Drive. I’ll program the directions so I can enjoy the ride.”
I tried to ignore the pleased look on his face when I blushed at his request, but it was almost impossible to ignore him when I handed back his phone and my fingers accidentally brushed his. Our eyes connected on a beat, the electricity so charged between us that I felt the vibration throughout my body.
We rode the rest of the way in silence, like we both knew the conversation to come was a big one. Besides that, neither of us was a fan of small talk. Maybe that was why we’d always gotten along so well. We preferred hours of comfortable silence to awkward conversation. It made each moment we were together meaningful.
Almost there,” he said once we were on Western Canyon Drive. “Where should I park?”
You’ll keep going up the hill. Park on West Observatory Road. You’ll see the line of cars. I usually find a spot up close, but—” I made a face as I looked around his truck. “My car is three times smaller than this.” I grinned at him. “You might want to park about a half mile away.”
He chuckled. I didn’t understand why until he continued driving past where I recommended and almost reached the top of the hill, when he slowed. Just then, like fucking magic, a large truck was pulling out of a parallel parking spot, leaving it vacant.
You are kidding me.”
He laughed again and parked with ease. Growing up in Malibu didn’t give us many opportunities for parallel parking, but I was certain he’d had his fair share of chances to get it right in Chicago.
I hopped out of the truck just as he made it to my side. “So impatient to hang out with me.”
I rolled my eyes. “Keep dreaming, James.”
He rolled his head back, grinning. “You realize there are women out there dreaming about a night just like this, right?”
I hoped he could feel the heat of my glare. “You don’t say.”
His lips pressed together like he was biting back a smile, then he took my hand in his and tugged me forward. “Let’s move. We have to make it before sunset.”
This time, silence didn’t fill our gaps. It dissipated with the first view we encountered before ever reaching the observatory.
Wow.” I tugged away from him and walked to the balcony of the outlook.
As I stared out over trees and rock mountains, I had an epiphany. Taking Tobias here conveyed an unspoken promise that I’d never shared the same space with another man. I hadn’t even questioned the intimacy of what that meant, because it felt natural, just like everything with Tobias, even when the world was trying to pull us apart.
My choice had always been Tobias, even when he wasn’t around for me to choose. My heart still belonged to him.
A breeze whooshed by, tossing my hair. I breathed into the wind as it continued to beat against me, like the week hadn’t been enough for me to endure. And then strong arms wrapped around me from behind as my insides softened to putty. It had been only a week of knowing Tobias was back in town to stay, and I already knew I was in trouble.
Neither of us dared a word as he held me there, the hills of LA a beautiful sight before us, but it was his touch, his breath, his nearness that stole my focus. We’d never even made it to the observatory, but I knew what his mission was in wanting to take me somewhere with a view.
It was reminiscent of the one we’d shared in Big Sur, and I couldn’t ignore the rush of those memories that surfaced in the moment.
We stood in silence for a long time while Tobias held all of me—physically, emotionally, and metaphorically. His presence grounded me in a way that only my soul could feel. He owned me. All it took was the admission, and for the first time in a very long time, I felt at peace.
Once upon a time, Tobias had called me his moon. His rock. His strength. The one he reached for when the waters got rough. As risky as it was to admit it, I still wanted that to be true.
Should we keep going?”
I knew Tobias was referring to the observatory, but my response was to a different interpretation of the question.
Yes.”




 

Donnerstag, 25. Juli 2019

Cover Reveal: The Kiss Me Series by Emma Hart






The Kiss Me Series, an all-new hilarious series of standalones 

from New York Times bestselling author Emma Hart is coming 

August 27th and we have the fresh and fun covers!




 Releasing August 27th

Let me make this clear right here, right now: I, Halley Dawson, do not care that Preston Wright is kissing other women.
Not a lick. Not at all. Nuh-uh-freakin’-uh.
I do care that he’s doing it six feet away from me behind a gaudy velvet curtain—making him my competition in this year’s kissing contest.
Why do I care, you ask? Because I’ve had an unfortunate crush on the insufferable idiot since I was sixteen years old, but I also know it’s never going to happen.
He’s the Creek Falls bachelor to die for, and I’m the Creek Falls racoon lady who puts peanut butter sandwiches out for them every night.
I’m not going to let him break my four-year-long reign—no matter how many times he breaks the rules and slides the curtain across to do the one thing he’s not allowed to:

Kiss me.






Releasing September 24th

What do a wrong number text, a burning building, and a quirky florist have in common?
A hunky firefighter with an extra-large…hosepipe.
In hindsight, I never should have opened that text message. The last thing I needed first thing on a Monday was a picture of some stranger’s, um, eggplant, in my inbox.
I also should have replaced the batteries in my fire alarm, because my Friday night did not need to end with my apartment building going up in flames.
But it’s fine. It’s fine. Everything is fine.
I’m only lying in a hospital bed with more split ends than I’ve ever had, almost all my Earthly possessions have turned to ash, and apparently, they don’t serve wine to patients in this place.
But like I said, it’s fine.
Until he walks in.
The guy who saved my life. My hero. Noah Jacobs.
And the universe is amusing itself at my expense, because the dirty photo I woke up to on Monday?
It’s his.




Releasing October 22nd

WANTED: ROOMMATE. Must be tidy, polite, and absolutely not my brother’s hot as sin best friend.
I have no idea why I said yes.
Maybe I’d had one too many wines. Maybe I’d done it accidentally. Maybe I’d been sleep-texting.
One thing I know for sure is this: I absolutely do not want Ethan Hawkins in my apartment, up in my business, taking over my space.
Yet he’s here. Moving his stuff into my spare bedroom. Sending a wave of panty-melting, musky man-scent my way every time he walks past me.
Here’s the thing.
We don’t get along—at all. We never have, and I don’t think we’re going to start now that we’re under one roof.
There’s also that little issue where I’m kinda, sorta, totally in love with him…
Uh-oh.





 
Emma Hart is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over thirty novels and has been translated into several different languages.
She is a mother, wife, lover of wine, Pink Goddess, and valiant rescuer of wild baby hedgehogs.
Emma prides herself on her realistic, snarky smut, with comebacks that would make a PMS-ing teenage girl proud.
Yes, really. She's that sarcastic.






Donnerstag, 18. Juli 2019

Release Blitz! Thirty-Five and Single by Terri E. Laine #ThirtyFiveAndSingle #ReleaseBlitz




USA Today Bestselling Author, Terri E. Laine, brings a new standalone, funny but sexy novel, Thirty-five and Single.

What can go wrong when you’re getting divorced from your high school sweetheart, it's your thirty-fifth birthday and you have too much to drink?

Throw in the gorgeous neighbor who comes to the rescue when you can't seem to open your apartment door after all the alcohol and end up taking a drunken slip and slid across the floor.

Then you look up into his gorgeous face and forget all the reasons why it’s a bad idea to hook-up with said twenty-something neighbor. In fact, it’s a fan-freaking-tastic idea.

Now let the games begin because this is Olivia's life: - interfering sisters, the ex, co-workers… and Joel, her way too sexy, too young, but oh so hot neighbor.

Wanting to explore single life, Olivia fights her growing connection with Joel. Only he’s is determined to prove to her that age is just a number and she’s is his number one.


I think that the only thing that I didn't like about this book, was the fact that it was simply too short. Apart from that it had it all - the drama, the tears, the laughter and the love and to top it off - it also had amazing and interesting characters whose chemistry was great and who made you feel that they belonged together. 
Oh, well, the reader knows it loooong before Olivia realizes what really counts and that sometimes, age is really just a number. A character like Joel is mature beyond his age and his love for Olivia is strong enough to help him overcome all her barriers and doubts. 

I loved his honesty and the way he took care of those around him and, well, even though I could understand Olivia, I was also a bit upset that she didn't understand what really counts. When she had to face the ultimate betrayal, I got so mad....ugh. I was just happy that Joel was there for her no matter what happened. 

The story was fast paced and some parts could have been more intense, more developed but the many twists and turns kept me on my toes and kept me glued to my reader, not allowing me to put it down till the very end. Not everything was unicorns and rainbows and despite the funny and spirited story, there were also serious undertones that kept it from getting too fluffy and sparkling. I really enjoyed reading this book and will definitely read it again.


★★.★

 

Dienstag, 16. Juli 2019

Cover Reveal - Moon Cursed by NIkki Jefford #MoonCursed #WolfHollow



Do you remember the wolf shifters of Wolf Hollow

I already loved the first book - and they just kept getting better and better ... 

We left our wolves with Wolfrik and Kallie happily mated but there was the one who wasn't just a 

 wolf and whose fate looked rather dire... 

This is Elsie's story and I can't wait to get my hands on it, I really loved these books! 

And now look at this gorgeous cover:



And that's the story:

Time is running out for Elsie.
Elsie’s coven always believed that she was moon cursed. Promised to the bear shifters before she was ever born, the witch wolf shifter has until her twentieth birthday to outsmart Brutus, her would-be mate who only wants her as payback.
To save his coven, her father made a terrible, magically binding agreement decades ago, never dreaming he’d have children, especially not powerful wolf shifters. Luckily, he never specified what type of shifter Elsie must claim.
Zackary doesn’t believe he deserves love or forgiveness.
Ever since he betrayed a packmate, Zackary has been making up for his sins. No matter what, he knows the truth. Once a mongrel, always a mongrel—just like his father always told him. Now the mad wolf has returned to torment Zackary and the pack.
Not one to be scared off, Elsie, the sweetest and loveliest of all females, refuses to believe he’s no good for anyone—especially her.
Fated mates or doomed lovers?
Zackary and Elsie never knew how strong their love would grow … until they’re in too deep.
Zackary betrayed Elsie’s brother once before. If the wizard shifter knew what he was doing with Elsie in private, Tabor would kill, maim, or use that dick shrinkage spell he once threatened him with.
With a meddlesome ex from her coven, who won’t let go, and a brute of a bear shifter intent on trapping her inside his cave forever, it will take more than magic to save Elsie from her curse.
Do these star-crossed lovers stand a chance?
Moon Cursed is a steamy, second chance romance about a bully longing for redemption, and a brazen she-wolf-witch who goes after what she wants—even after the entire pack warns her against following her heart.
  

Mittwoch, 10. Juli 2019

RELEASE BLITZ - Wrong Side of the Tracks (Hope Valley #4) by Jessica Prince #WrongSideOfTheTracks #HopeValley #JessicaPrince

Blurb:
Gypsy Bradbury was never destined for great things. Or at least that’s what she’d convinced herself of. Growing up on the wrong side of the tracks, she had learned that hoping for more was a waste of time. Then Marco forced his way into her life and gave her a glimpse of a future brighter than any she could have imagined. But if her past taught her anything, it was that if something seemed too good to be true… it probably was.
The promise of a quiet, simple life was what drew Marco Castillo to Hope Valley. After experiencing war and death first hand, he was looking for something easy. Then he met a woman with guarded eyes and the most beautiful smile he’d ever seen. The only problem was she came with more baggage than a 747.
There is nothing easy about Gypsy, but Marco knows without a doubt that the promise of her is well worth the effort. She’s the strongest, bravest woman he’s ever met, and when the life she’s fought to build for her and her family is threatened, Marco is determined to win that battle for her. Whether Gypsy wants his help or not.

Wrong Side of The Tracks is the fourth book in the Hope Valley Series by Jessica Prince. The books are interconnected even tough each of them can be read as a standalone. I already read and loved the other books in this series but I think that maybe I love Gypsy and Marco's story best.
I mean, Gypsy who is fighting so hard to provide for her siblings, who works two jobs and would do anything for these kids to not only survive but to thrive and Marco, who slowly but steadily bullies his way into her life - they are just too cute. It's not easy for Gypsy to accept help but Marco isn't someone who gives up easily and when the strip club where she is working at night is sold to a known drug dealer and criminal, not only Marco steps up to protect her. All their friends get together to protect one of their own.
Gypsy has been on her own ever since her parents decided that parenthood wasn't for them but, well, nothing changed when they left because it had always been Gypsy who had cared and provided for her siblings. It's not easy for her to let somebody into her life but Marco doesn't give up no matter how rocky their path is.
Considering the fact that I fell in love with Gypsy right from the start, I wanted her to have his support and I loved to see him step up and just be there for her. Her siblings and her neighbor Odette are also amazing characters and you can feel how much they all care for each other and how tight they are.
The whole book was once again well written with a captivating and sweet story. There's just the right amount of action and romance and I really enjoyed reading this book. I can't wait to hear more about these people from Hope Valley and I was happy to see that at least two more books are planned.

★★




Get dressed, babe,” he ordered, tossing my bra and panties to me before slipping back into his boxer briefs.
I sat up, holding the sheet to me as I looked at him in confusion. “What? Why? I figured we’d take a little nap, then kick off round two. Neither of those things requires getting dressed.”
His cocky smirk set off the butterflies in my belly as he pulled on his jeans. “As much as I’d love a round two right now, it’ll have to wait. I’m taking you to the diner for lunch.”
I froze in the middle of re-hooking my bra and looked up at him in panic. Reading my expression loud and clear, Marco moved back to the bed. The mattress dipped under his weight as he bent toward me and gave me a chaste kiss. “If it helps, don’t think of it as a date. Think of it as a meal shared by two people who really enjoy having sex with each other.”
I tipped my head to the side incredulously. “You’re saying we’re friends with benefits?”
He seemed to give that some thought as he tugged his T-shirt over his head. “No, not friends with benefits. I’d say we’re way more than friends, wouldn’t you?”
Well, yeah. But what does that make us?”
Don’t worry about labeling it,” he responded, lifting the weight that had been resting on my shoulders. “For now, let’s just enjoy each other and do what feels natural, yeah?”
Yeah.” My lips slowly spread into a smile. “Okay. I can do that.”
Good, girasol.” With that, he stood tall, grabbing my wrist and hauling me from the bed. “And what feels natural right now is getting some food in my gut before it eats clear through to my backbone. You want a round two, I need to refuel, so move that sexy ass of yours.”
Shooting him a playful glare as I went about getting dressed, I warned, “You want a round two ever, you should probably stop being so damn bossy.”
He stepped close just as I finished zipping up my jeans. His voice was low and full of sex as he said, “Baby, you hurry up so I can eat, and I’ll bring you back here and show you the type of bossy you won’t be able to get enough of.”
Well, all right, then.



Visit Hope Valley
#Free on #KindleUnlimited
Out Of My League: Amazon Universal: mybook.to/OutOfMyLeague
Come Back Home Again: Amazon Worldwide: mybook.to/ComeBackHomeAgain
The Best of Me: mybook.to/TheBestofMe


#WrongSideOfTheTracks #HopeValley #JessicaPrince #Romance #NewRelease #SmallTownRomance




Montag, 8. Juli 2019

How to Forgive a Highlander (The MacGregor Lairds #4) by Michelle McLean





The story:
William MacGregor will lie, spy, and happily die to protect his clan from their greatest enemy. But when he kidnaps the wrong woman, he triggers the very events he’d been working so hard to prevent. And puts everyone in danger.

Rose Thatcher will do anything to protect her lady and return them both safely to English soil. But the damn Highlander who snatched her off the docks has done nothing but get in her way. She’d love to ditch the bastard, but if they want to save their respective loved ones, they are going to have to stay together.

Somewhere along the grueling journey to Scotland, their constant bickering turns into something more. Something worth fighting for. But how can an English lady’s maid, who longs for the safe, comfortable life she had in London, find love with a Highlander who can’t wait to wipe England’s dust off his feet? If they can’t defeat the enemy they accidentally led home, they might not live long enough to find out.


 
This was a sweet and charming book with lots of action, an adorable and charming couple whose bickering and nagging made me smile and laugh a lot. The characters felt authentic and genuine and even though I was upset that William was really hard on himself while I thought that he was simply human, I really loved those two.
Rose is something else, strong, loving, funny and loyal to the core. I loved to see her slowly (and thoroughly) fall for William and vice versa.

 Towards the end, when those two to have to figure out how they can overcome the problems that keep them from acknowledging their feelings or at least from daring to hope for a future because - how could they dream of a future together if one of them is supposed to live in Scotland and the other one in England?
But having overcome everything they did - how could they give up these dreams?

I didn't know the other books in this series but I had no problem to get into this one and to stay captivated till the end. Now I'm really looking forward to reading the other books in this series even though Rose and William were rather special and I'm not sure that the others will be as sweet as those two but I really hope so.

★★

Freitag, 5. Juli 2019

Defiant (Tales of Cinder #1) by M.J. Haag #Defiant



 Do you remember Depravity, the retelling of The Beauty and the Beast set in the world of the Beastly Tales by Melissa Haag?

Defiant is the retelling of Cinderella and we will learn how far our heroine is willing to go for those that she loves and cares for - and how far will she go to find those who killed them?






Blurb:

A dark, twisted Cinderella retelling that fans of Sarah J. Maas and/or Melanie Dickerson are sure to enjoy.

Magic can have deadly consequences.

When the sudden and suspicious death of Eloise’s mother points to forbidden magic, Eloise is determined to bring her mother’s murderer to justice. She will stop at nothing to find the killer…even if the clues lead right to the palace gates and the prince’s manservant, Kaven. He is irrational, volatile, and prone to knocking women off horses. Given his personality, it should be easy to find the proof she needs to place him in irons.

However, when dark magic is used, nothing is as simple as it seems, and Eloise is about to learn that nightmares often hide behind fairy tale lives.

Fans of the Beastly Tales will not want to miss this new addition to the same world. Filled with magic, unexpected foes, and brooding, impossible men, this Tale of Cinder is sure to leave you burning for more!



What a captivating -and sinister-  take on the tale of Cinderella! This dark retelling of the story kept me turning the pages, reading, waiting for the next thing to happen, the next mystery to occur, while furiously trying to find out each and everyone's role, their potential fate, trying to find out if I should (or rather could) start to care for someone or....well, there's no use starting to care for someone who might be the next victim, right?

So many theories, so many things that I want to know - I really can't wait for the next book to come out to find out more and to see where the story takes us.

I loved how this is Cinder's story, though Eloise, our Cinder, is not the only heroine, there's also Kellen, her twin who is also called Snow which leads us to another possible story set in the world of the Beastly Tales. First, though, I'll have to learn more about Cinder and her potential love interest, the prince's manservant Kaven, if that's who he is... And, of course, I'll have to learn more about the Lady Grimmoire who....well. The Lady Grimmoire, right.
Well written, captivating and intense, I really enjoyed reading this book and can't wait for the next book, Disdain, to come out. SOON!

★★