Book Review: Knowing Nichelle

 Hey Everyone!

Today I am happy to be part of the blog tour promoting “Knowing Nichelle” by Tinsley Sellers. Here are some details about the story and you will also find my thoughts on the story below.

Title: Knowing Nichelle (Beckley’s Daughters #3)46025510._SY475_

Author: Tinsley Sellers

Published: August 16th 2019 by Tinsley Sellers (first published August 16th 2018)

Received From: Xpresso Book Tours

Blurb:

She’s just met the man of her dreams…but he’s not who he said he was. Neither is she. Until they get a second chance to make a first impression.

Is he a sophisticated big-city lawyer, or an easygoing small-town woodworker? And if she’s not a career-driven high-powered attorney, then who is she? Can Buck and Nichelle find trust enough to discard their masks and discover just how alike—and in love—they really are?

He’s only got one rule: no lawyers. She’s a lawyer.

Burned by experience, Buck’s got a rule for a reason. After walking away from a lucrative legal position, he found his peace in Beckley. Life on the farm is simple, and his woodworking business is thriving. He’s not interested in trading his work boots for wingtips and rejoining the rat race. He’s ready to settle down, and she’s the most compelling woman he’s ever met. Even if she is a lawyer.

She’s only got one requirement: no a✿✿holes. He’s an a✿✿hole.

After a disastrous encounter in a trendy bar, Nichelle is convinced that he’s a bulky mass of beard and bad attitude. She’s got a sleek car, luxurious condo, and elegant designer clothes. Family comes first, and her legal career is on the fastest track. She’s never met a problem she needed help solving, but he sees the painful truth beneath her polished façade. Even if he is an a✿✿hole.

They’re perfect together. They just don’t know it yet.

Welcome back to Beckley, Michigan! Autumn is in the air and as the days get shorter, the air gets cooler and the calm lakes reflect the blue skies and red-gold trees for a double-dose of fall color. The people are just as warm, friendly, smart, funny, and real as you remember. When you need a place to call home, Beckley welcomes you—and sometimes the family you choose is as strong as the bonds you’re born with.

If you like small-town romance, you’ll like Beckley. If you like smart heroines who balance demanding professional careers with a commitment to family, friends, and finding love, then you’ll definitely like it here. If you like strong, sexy, hard-working heroes who have not-so-secret soft spots for kids, dogs, and classic cars, you may find that you never want to leave!

Knowing Nichelle is the third in the Beckley’s Daughters Romance series. It can be read as a stand-alone story, but continuing readers will recognize many of the characters and locations. This series is recommended for adult readers and contains explicit language and intimate situations.

My Review

This book is more like a universe, than a simple story. Every character has a message to deliver, or a purpose in our main characters’ lives. There are many things I likes and few I wanted to be different, but still, it was a great read.

Buck and Nichelle are nothing alike and they want nothing to do with each other. They both have certain expectations that they know for sure the other cannot reach. But there is still something there, something that pulls them together. Many obstacles, some important, some not. But the most significant one is their personality – different, yet so compatible.

The romance is great and I like that is not just a romance. There is much more happening there. We have a warm atmosphere created by the family and friends and we have important topics, like racism. Another interesting aspect is how this story overlaps with the other books in the series. Taking into account this is the first I read for the series, it was not difficult to understand what was going on, but I admit I would have felt more comfortable, had I read the previous ones.

As I was mentioning, I do have some small things I would have wanted to be different. I would have liked to see the racism more developed, or more insisted upon. While I would like to believe there is no longer racism in our time, things keep happening. This I would have liked to be better developed. Also, at times I felt the reasons behind our characters being away simple and easy to fix. So the story was becoming more complicated without such a strong base.

None of these reasons diminished my overall enjoyment of the book, but I feel compelled to give 4 stars only. As a reader, I loved it, but as a reviewer, I have to keep one star for myself. Now, please excuse me while I increase my TBR with the other books in this series. Happy Reading !

 

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Weekley Quote #2

Hey Guys,

Admitting that last week was not the best when it comes to reading or sewing/crocheting would be a major understatement/ Still, the weekend came and thing started falling back into place. Not all, but …it’s going in the right direction. Honestly, I was missing a weekend focused on myself and my closed ones, with as little work (for my job) as possible. As a consequence, I am starting a new week with a little more enthusiasm.

I managed to finish “Withering Rose” by Kaitlyn Davis on Saturday. I absolutely devoured the last 80 pages! My quote for this Monday is precisely from this book:

Joy. Just pure, unadulterated bliss. The sort I know he won’t be able to contain because he’s a beast, and that’s my favorite thing about him. He’s wild and untamed and free. He’s powerful and fierce, filled with raw, untapped energy. When he feels, he does it with everything he has. He doesn’t know when to hold back.

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What I liked about it is how the author the essence of our main character. “Withering Rose” is a Beauty and the Beast retelling and it’s part of a series of retellings by the same author, being book #2 of the “Once Upon a Curse” series. One of the many great things this series has is how the stories are linked. Book 1 was a Snow White retelling and somehow Snow White’s prince is related to our princess from Beauty and the Beast. The said princess is somehow related to Ella, from Cinderella (which is book 3) and so on. I don’t want to tell you much as I will have dedicated articles about each book.

Well, this is my quote for today. I wish you all a great week. Remember to smile, read something great and forget your troubles for at list a short while. Until next time, Happy Reading!

Fairytaleathon Wrap Up

Another round of the Fairytaleathon has gone by. Again, I had a lot of fun, even if my participation was not to the level I would have wanted. Things at the office kept me (far) away from achieving my reading target of 7 books. In my defense, I started 4, out of which I managed to finish during the readathon, one (as in 1, a single book, not more, just one… yup…).

From all the books listed on my initial TBR (find out more about it here),  I finished only “Gathering Frost” by Kaitlyn Davis, but I also started:

  • Withering Rose by Kaitlyn Davis – finished it this weekend
  • The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston – 48 pages in, according to my reading app
  • The Rose & The Dagger by Renée Ahdieh – 84 pages in, according my physical copy

I have managed to complete two challenges:

  • If the shoe fits: read a fairytale retelling from your TBR
  • Try the grey stuff (it’s delicious): read with a yummy treat (in my case, a big bowl of watermelon)

As it happened last time, I don’t know what it is about this readathon that gives me this enthusiasm to remember the things I enjoy. I assume it’s because of the magic in the books J Even if my reading was less than expected, I still feel good. I discovered great stories that I plan to save for the next round. If you guys want to participate, follow @aFairytaleathon on Twitter. All the fun happen over there. Round 4 is scheduled for 2020 and I cannot wait!

Until then I’m looking to join a new readathon in September. If you happen to know any – Romance or YA related – shoot me a comment. Happy Reading!

Weekley Quote #1

Hey Guys,

Happy Monday! I hope your week started amazingly well and that it will go on even better! Today I am starting a new series of articles on my blog, nothing original, but special and close to the heart. With my weekley quote, I want to share with you my favorite lines, from the books I’ve read a week before. I hope you’ll enjoy them and that they will be incentives to start reading that particular story.

For this Monday, I am sharing with you one of my favorite lines from “Gathering Frost” by Kaitlyn Davis:

I’m stoic, controlled and hard.I’m not the girl who creates music. I’m the one who silences it.

I love so much how the author is able to describe our main character’s personality. She is though, she is strong and in command. There are so many amazing lines to show from this book!

Go ahead and read it, because you will love it! Let me know your thoughts on my quote and definitely tell me if you have read the story and if you have a favorite line.

Until next time, Happy Reading!

Fairytaleathon Round 3 – TBR

This is by far one of the best readathons out there. It has amazing hosts that offer amazing recommendations, the idea of reading a fairytale or a fairytale retelling is amazing and the challenges they offer are great. It is my second time participating and I cannot wait for it to start!

I have two goals with this event: starting a series that had been on my TBR ever since I discovered the author and also reading two of the books that have been sitting on my shelves for quite a while. Without further prolonging the moment, here are the challenges and my selection of books:

Fairy challenges

1. Thumbelina: Read a retelling under 250 pages
Here I have selected “Withering Rose” by Kaitlyn Davis. This is book 2 of the Once Upon A Curse  series and according Goodreads it has 210 pages. I am reading this one out of Scribd.

2. Gentle Giant: Read a retelling over 500 pages
“Children of Blood and Bone” by Tomi Adeyemi is my choice. I bought this one a while ago, but never found the courage to read it. The cover scares me a little. I like big books, so the page length is not an issue. But… I don’t know. Looks scary.

3. If the shoe fits: Read any fairytale retelling from your TBR
“Gathering Frost” by Kaitlyn Davis is my choice. It is book 1 of the Once Upon a Curse series and I cannot wait to read it. This author has delivered some amazing stories and I have been trying to catch up on her books ever since I got my first taste (almost two years ago)

4. Creatures of the deep: Read a book that has sirens, mermaids or sea monsters (does not need to be a retelling)
I got the title from the recs that one of the organizers put on her blog – check her out here. I liked the cover and I cannot wait to discover the story. And the book is “To Kill a Kingdom” by Alexandra Christo.

5. Try the grey stuff (it’s delicious): Read with a yummy treat 
I am more than honored and excited to be among the ones that have received an ARC of Chasing Midnight by Kaitlyn Davis, book 3 in the Once Upon a Curse series. I am so so happy and i cannot wait to read it! It’s summer in my county, so my yummy treat will be watermelon, no doubt about it!

6. A whole new world: Read a fairytale or retelling that has a diverse main character:
“The Rose & The Dagger” by Renée Ahdieh. I have discovered this series in the previous round of the Fairytaleathon and when the ladies organizing the event offered as prize a book of my choice, I decided on book 2. Seems only fitting I read it now.

7. Rags to Riches: Read the book group “The Princess and the Fangirl” by Ahsley Poston. 
In the previous round of the Fairytaleathon I read Geekerella by the same author and loved it with all my heart. So how can I say no??

Now, I have here 7 books to read in 7 days. It is a challenge my friends :D. I have one day off from work and one weekend and a half to devour these stories. I am so happy to be able to share my experience with you guys and I hope you will join us from August 11 to August 18th. More details of the event can be found on Twitter @Fairytaleathon

Happy Reading!

Release Blitz: Dead Sexy by Lulu M. Sylvian

Hey Guys,

Today I am proposing a book releasing August 13th: Dead Sexy by Lulu M. Sylvian. 

I am one of the lucky bloggers that have received an advanced copy and I have already started reading it. I’m half way through and I’ll let you know in a couple of days what my thoughts are 🙂 In the meantime, let’s admire this gorgeous cover!

About The Book47509017._SY475_

Medical illustrator Gillian Denver has a unique talent, and it’s not her ability to depict the systems of the body accurately and artistically. She can talk to spirits, only she doesn’t realize it.

Peter Keith, a one-time TV sitcom star whose career dissolved from A-lister hunk, to out of shape, straight-to-cable-movie D-lister has a problem. Peter regrets decisions he made in his life, and would like a do-over. He convinces Gillian to help him. One little problem, Peter is dead.

Thinking it’s her over active imagination causing her reoccurring dreams about Peter to spill into daylight hours, Gillian finds herself talking to him while she works. Together they begin to recreate Peter’s life by writing a book the way he wishes things had worked out. Gillian is not fully convinced that Peter is anything more than something she made up, a glorified imaginary friend, a new muse.

Gillian’s feelings for Peter complicate her relationships with the living. She is afraid the love she has for Peter will never be enough because she cannot give him what he really needs, a resolution to the life he wasn’t ready to leave.

Check It On

Amazon  || Goodreads

About the Author17281490

Bio-engineered to be the only redhead in a generation of blonds, Lulu feels that “aliens” may actually be the best answer for a lifetime of being asked, “Where did you get that red hair from?”

She did not come into writing from years of scribbling words on paper. Her background is rooted in visual arts and making pictures. Encouraged to make those pictures out of words Lulu began writing just to see what would happen. What happened was two full-length manuscripts in three months.

Lulu cannot ride a horse, a motorcycle, spin a hula hoop, or play roller derby. Yes, she has attempted all of those, even if it has been decades since she’s been on a horse or a motorcycle. She embraces the crazy that comes with that one little genetic mutation and attempts to live up to the reputation that proceeds her. Lulu would like to apologize for her contribution to the hole in the ozone layer from her use of hairspray in the 1980’s.

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Ok, so that’s about it for now. Until my review  is up, check my other fellow bloggers, who are taking part in this blog tour :

Blog Tour Schedule

Book Blitz: Anything Between Us by Sarah Fine

Anything Between Us
Sarah Fine
(Starving Artists, #3; Standalone Story)
Publication date: July 31st 2019
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

Bestselling author Sarah Fine presents a powerful standalone romance sure to thrill new adult readers everywhere.

What if falling in love is the biggest risk of all?

Sasha decided a long time ago that she would only allow herself a single night each year to go out and be wild. The rest of her time is spent at her pottery wheel or taking care of her father, who has early-onset Alzheimer’s. She has plenty of reasons to avoid anything more than this: one guy, one night, and no names exchanged. But this year, the long and lean stranger she chooses turns out to be more than she bargained for. He makes her feel alive—when it doesn’t seem safe to feel that way at all.

Discharged from the army after a traumatic deployment, Nate returns to his hometown riddled with guilt and unable to envision a future. Everything starts to change during a night out with friends, when a beautiful stranger offers him a no-strings-attached encounter against the wall in the back room of the bar. He knows the deal, but when they run into each other again at the local artists’ co-op where his older brother works, he can’t help but crave more. She makes him feel alive—but he’s still trying to decide if he wants to live at all.

She’s not willing. He’s not ready. But with an unrelenting attraction that weakens their resolve with every passing minute, Sasha and Nate embark on a friendship. One that makes them both stronger. One that makes them wonder if the future might be brighter than either of them ever imagined—until a devastating turn forces them to decide: Is risking everything for love is worth the pain of losing it long before they’re ready?

**WARNING: This is a new adult novel and contains material which is sexual in nature. Content may not be suitable for readers under the age of 18.**

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

CHAPTER ONE

Nate

I know alcohol is inadvisable after getting new ink, but tonight I’m not in a rule-following mood. As I walk into the bar and look around for my buddies, I feel Sam’s initials on my arm; the sharp, hot reminder they’re meant to be. SLP. Never forget.

He should be here. And I probably shouldn’t.

I’m fifteen minutes late, but Brent and Aidan aren’t here yet. It kind of pisses me off—I drove all the way out here to Grand Rapids to meet up with them, nearly an hour from the lakeshore town where we all grew up. They both moved here while I was gone.

It’s approaching midnight and the place is already starting to empty out, so I snag a seat at the bar—facing the door—and raise a finger to get the bartender’s attention. He smirks as he saunters over. “Got some ID on you?”

He doesn’t look that much older than I am, maybe late twenties, but his cheeks are pocked with acne scars and he’s already balding on top. I slide my ID from my wallet and hand it over. His expression smooths out like I knew it would. “Thank you for your service,” he says as he hands it back to me. “First one’s on me.”

I thank him and order a beer, wondering if coming out tonight was a mistake. I don’t exactly feel public-facing. But I haven’t seen Brent or Aidan since before this last deployment, the last one I’ll ever have, as it turns out, and I figured reconnecting with them would be another way to slide into civilian life. That’s what the adjustment counselor at the VA said, anyway. He issued the advice like a prescription, right after he asked me if I had access to firearms. He seemed relieved when I said no, which was the truth.

I didn’t mention that I got my ten-day handgun purchase permit eight days ago.

The bartender hands over a pint, and I down half of it in one long swallow. “Looks like you needed that pretty badly,” he comments.

“You have no idea,” I mutter, glancing at the door and wishing my friends would arrive. My body jitters with a restless energy that I need to drown before it ignites. I’d check my phone, but Jen’s message from earlier is right there, waiting like a buried IED. And I can’t answer her yet. I just can’t.

I down the rest of the pint and raise my head. That’s when I see her. Black hair, dark eyes, and a green dress over some very dangerous curves. She’s at the other end of the bar, nursing brown liquor in a rocks glass, rolling that thing between her palms as if the heat from her skin could change its shape.

When she sees me watching her, she arches one eyebrow and raises her glass.

My heart picks up a hungry, urgent rhythm as I silently toast with my empty glass. She looks like she’s alone there, just her and that drink, but she’s made up like she wasn’t planning to be. And there’s something deep and sad in those eyes, despite the playful smile she’s aiming at me. Did her date bail on her? Maybe she’d like some company?

I’m considering offering her mine when a heavy hand claps me so hard on the back that I nearly face-plant on the bar. My muscles go rigid with the unexpected blow, but the familiar voice booming in my ear keeps me from reflexively throwing a punch. “Back on the home front,” says Brent, grinning as I turn to him. “Great to see you, man.”

Aidan stands next to him, and they make a funny pair. Brent is built like a bear and is a few inches taller than me—he has to be about six-five—with shaggy hair and a beard to match. Aidan is lean like me, only about five inches shorter than I am.

“How long have you been back?” Aidan asks.

I glance over at the woman in the green dress, but she’s lost interest in me and is deep in conversation with the bartender. “Back from deployment for about six weeks, but I’ve only been home since last Wednesday.”

“And already sporting a new tat?” Brent gestures at my arm as he settles on the stool next to mine.

I move my hand to my lap, tilting my arm so that the bandage is concealed. “Just a small one.”

“Want to show it off?” Aidan asks as he takes the seat on my other side. “I remember when you got that one.” He tilts his head toward the tribal pattern that encircles my right biceps, a souvenir from one wild night with my older brother right before I deployed for the first time. “You kept flexing like a total idiot, trying to show it off.”

I suck a breath through my teeth. “This one’s still raw.” In so many ways. “I’ll show you once it heals.” Which it never will. “I need another drink,” I add, glaring at the bartender’s back.

“Hey! Buddy!” Brent’s voice fills up the whole place, despite the loud music. The sound turns a few heads, including the bartender’s. “Can we have a round here?” Brent’s meaty hand swirls around us, drawing invisible boundaries.

The bartender holds up a finger, signaling for us to wait as he finishes his conversation with the woman in green. Brent rolls his eyes. “He’s too busy trying to get laid, apparently,” he says, eyeing her. “Not that I blame him. I kinda wish I’d spotted her first.”

For some stupid reason, I don’t want Brent looking at her. “How’s Anna?” I ask.

The smile drops from his face. “She told me she’s thinking of buying another wedding dress.”

Aidan snorts. “And she has two already.”

With a groan, Brent says, “She’s turned into one of those bridezillas. I never thought she’d be like that. She always seemed so normal.”

I laugh. “Serves you right for settling down.”

Aidan clears his throat. “I guess I’m in for it, too, then.”

I whip around. “Seriously?”

“He popped the question a few weeks ago, and Lizzy actually said yes,” Brent tells me, sounding incredulous. “No accounting for taste.”

“You guys are killing me. I’m gone for a few years, and suddenly you’re old men?”

“She graduated from Calvin in May and was deciding whether to take a job here or in Lansing.” Aidan shrugs. “I figured this would seal the deal. Seemed as good a time as any.”

“You’re twenty-three,” I say in a flat voice.

“Twenty-four,” he replies. “I’m six months older than you are.”

“You’re both insane,” I say. I’ve known them since elementary school, but now they seem like strangers to me. From another planet. Except maybe I’m the alien.

Brent bumps me with his shoulder. “If we’re crazy, it looks like your brother might need to be committed soon, too. Have you met his girlfriend yet?”

I shake my head. “Daniel’s a player. He never lets anyone hang on for too long.” Even as I say it, I’m thinking this time might be different. My parents are both nuts over this girl, and Daniel … I’ve only hung out with him once since I got back, but he could barely wipe the woozy, shit-eating grin off his face when he talked about her. “Maybe he’ll come to his senses.”

“Still bitter about Carrie, huh?” Aidan says this cautiously, like he knows he’s on dangerous ground.

“Please.” It’s been nearly two years since she got bored of having a boyfriend in the military—the letters slowed, and Facetiming was hit or miss. Fourteen months since Aidan broke the news—he’d seen her and Cameron Bakker making out in the balcony of the movie theater on Main, like they didn’t give a shit who saw them. And almost exactly a year since I confronted her about it and broke up with her—while I was home on leave and about to deploy, for fuck’s sake. “She did me a favor.”

I believe that, but I haven’t been with anyone since we split. My eyes slide over to the woman in green again, and my stomach tightens. She’s staring at me again.

The bartender comes over and asks what Brent and Aidan want. Brent laughs when Aidan gets carded. I order another pint, and the bartender smiles. “This one’s on the lady,” he says as he serves it up.

I go still, blocking the impulse to look at her again. “Which lady would that be?” I sound like I’ve been punched in the gut, all breathless and stupid.

The bartender gives me a look. One that says I’m fooling no one. “Maybe you should go thank her.” His gaze cuts in the direction of the woman in green, but he’s blocking my view of her. He leans forward, getting in my space a little. “But if you do, I expect you to mind your manners, okay?” There’s a warning in his gaze, like she’s no stranger to him.

Brent slaps my back again. “Nate was raised right. Not an impolite bone in his body. Or maybe just the one, but only if she asks really nicely. Right?”

I jam my elbow into his flank, which is softer than it used to be. His grunt provides a brief moment of satisfaction.

Aidan pokes me from the other side. “Are you going to talk to her?” His lips are barely moving, but his wiry frame is tense with excitement. “She keeps looking over here!”

“Dude,” I snap. “Try not to wet yourself.” I take a few gulps of my beer. I need to feel that loose warmth unfurling in my bloodstream before I do anything. I don’t trust myself right now.

Jen’s last message is burning a hole right through my phone screen. I can almost feel the searing heat of guilt against my thigh. You owe this to him. Five words that gutted me.

“Fuck,” I whisper, and then I tilt my head back for another few swallows. I need something. I need this. Anything to push away the thoughts clamoring against the walls of my skull.

“That stuff’s a little weak for liquid courage,” Brent comments, signaling the bartender again. “And you look like you could use some.”

A shot appears in front of me, and I throw it back without asking what it is. Tequila, it turns out. When a second one appears, courtesy of Aidan this time, I down it just as quickly. Now the heat is in my veins, tingling and buzzing. I wipe my mouth with the back of my hand and get to my feet while Brent and Aidan snicker. I ignore their jokes at my expense because I’m too busy plotting my course over to the woman in green, who is still rolling her palms over that glass, slow and deliberate.

I make it to her side, wedging myself in behind a tangle of sorority girls probably just back in town for the fall semester. I push down thoughts of how stupid I feel by reminding myself—she bought me the beer. Women don’t do that unless they’re interested, right?

“Hi,” I say. “Thanks for the drink.”

She looks up at me, so I get to see her face up close for the first time. Her eyes are so dark that they’re almost black, like her hair, and so big I almost get lost. “You look even younger up close,” she says, amusement lacing a voice that pings a chord somewhere south of my navel.

“Past the age of consent, at least,” I say, wishing I were wittier, but I guess Daniel got all of that particular genetic gift and pretty much left me with nothing.

“Are you on leave?” she asks.

“What? How—did he tell you that?” I jerk my head toward the bartender, who is now laughing with Aidan and Brent, hopefully not about how badly I’m flailing.

Without breaking eye contact, she reaches up and slides her palm along the back of my head, sending a hard shiver right down my spine and into my groin. “High and tight. Got it buzzed right before you left post, by the feel of it.”

I don’t breathe again until she lowers her hand, and I barely manage to resist the urge to ask her to touch me again. “Are you from a military family or something?”

“Or something.”

Her voice is doing things to me. It’s like honey, sweet and substantial. “What’s your name?” I ask.

“That’s not an interesting question.”

“Okay.” I draw it out, because what the fuck? “You’re here alone?”

“That one’s both obvious and uninteresting.”

“Did you want me to come over here and talk to you?” I ask, unable to keep the irritation out of my voice.

She doesn’t look put off by it. In fact, her eyes are glittering with a hot kind of mischief. “Now that … That is a more interesting question. And a complicated one.” She looks me over, catching her lush bottom lip between white teeth. All my blood rushes south. “Or maybe not,” she murmurs, so quietly that I almost miss it.

At a loss, I glance at her almost-empty glass. “Can I buy you a—”

“Not necessary,” she says, sliding off her stool and nodding at the bartender. He nods back. I try to translate whatever’s passing between them, but I’ve slammed four drinks in the space of about twenty minutes. Though I’m not a lightweight, I haven’t eaten since lunch, and my head is buzzing. I’d try to straighten myself out, but this disconnect between my brain and body is actually a relief. And when she takes my hand, I don’t even ask where we’re going or why. I let her guide me down a back hallway and into a room marked “Employees Only.” It turns out to be a storage room, cases of beer stacked five feet high.

She swings the door shut, leaving us with the glow of one bare lightbulb hanging overhead. I’m about to make a joke about her bringing me in here to murder me when her hands slide up my abs to my chest, scattering my thoughts like autumn leaves on a windy day. She pushes on me, backing me up. My shoulder blades meet the wall. Her eyes are on mine, and in them I see so many things, none of which I understand. But I feel her hands on me. Her fingertips slide under the neck of my shirt, and suddenly I’m all sensation, addicted and needing more. I grab her hips and pull her body to mine. There’s no finesse in what I’m doing. No technique or gentleness.

She seems to like that just fine. She pulls my face to hers and then her mouth is on mine and I’m completely gone. My hand slides down to her ass as my tongue thrusts, and her moan nearly makes me crazy. Her breasts are mashed against my chest. She’s got her hand up under my shirt, stroking up my back, feeding my frenzy.

How far does she want this to go? She doesn’t even know my name. She doesn’t know anything about me. Except that I want her, which is undeniable after her hand slips over the front of my jeans. I groan and catch her fingers, pressing them where I want, not nearly close enough. This feels insane, like it’s not really happening, but now she’s unbuttoning my jeans and dipping her hand inside. I gasp against her mouth, and I can feel her smile as she squeezes me.

“I-do you-I—” I’m stammering even as my fingers curl under the hem of her short, tight dress, inching it up. I should stop now. I should stop. But her thighs are so fucking smooth and—I pull back from our kiss and look down at her as the realization hits. “You’re not—”

“Wearing panties?” She smiles at me sweetly. In the dim light, she looks triumphant, but her eyes are shining. I want to ask her why she looks like that, but she’s stroking me up and down like she owns me.

Right now, that’s pretty much true.

“You can walk away,” she says, reaching into the low neckline of her dress. As I stare, she pulls out a little square, foil package. She taps it against my chest. “Up to you.”

My gaze flits from it to her face to her breasts, barely contained in that dress. I’ve never done this before, not like this. We’re in a dirty storeroom and I don’t even know her name. It’s not how I was raised to act. Not how I was raised to treat women.

But this woman … She seems to want it. And she came here, to this bar, on this night, to get it. So many questions spill into my thoughts, tumbling over each other, but the only one that actually escapes my mouth is:

“Why me?”

“Does it matter to you?” She stands on her tiptoes and kisses me, slow and deep, kindling the fire inside me. She pulls her hand from my pants and puts it over mine, guiding it between her legs. She whimpers when my fingers meet slick, hot flesh.

I curse and spin us around, so she’s the one with her back to the wall and I’m looming over her, caging her body with my arms. Maybe trying to scare her a little, though I’m not sure why. But she’s right there, unafraid, giving me a knowing smile, those black eyes deep and fathomless.

Does it?” she asks again. She’s still holding that condom against my chest. An invitation. A question. A challenge.

I push her against the wall and give her my answer.


Author Bio:

SARAH FINE is the author of several books for teens, including Of Metal and Wishes (McElderry/Simon & Schuster) and its sequel, Of Dreams and Rust, the bestselling Guards of the Shadowlands YA urban fantasy series (Skyscape/Amazon Children’s Publishing), and The Impostor Queen (McElderry, January 2016).

She is also the co-author (with Walter Jury) of two YA sci-fi thrillers published by Putnam/Penguin: Scan and its sequel Burn. Her bestselling adult urban fantasy romance series, Servants of Fate, includes Marked, Claimed, and Fated, and was published by 47North in 2015, and her second adult UF series —Reliquary (and its sequels Splinter and Mosaic) was published 2016. When she’s not writing, she’s psychologizing. Sometimes she does both at the same time. The results are unpredictable.

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