Love Next Door by Helena Hunting

4 STARS

Release Date: July 27, 2021

SYNOPSIS: When Dillion Stitch left her hometown, she had no intention of going back. But when her brother gets into trouble, Dillion reluctantly agrees to return home to take her place at the family business. Being back in Pearl Lake after all these years feels familiar, but also brings a few surprises. She’s quick to notice that someone new has shown up at the cottage next door.  Dillion gets more than an eyeful when she goes to check out the newcomer and meets Donovan “Van” Firestone—her beloved neighbor’s grandson—in all his unclothed glory. Having gotten off to a rocky start, it’s not long before they begin bickering with each other all over town. All that back and forth inevitably sparks an undeniable attraction. But Dillion’s family has issues, Van’s family resents him, and neither Dillion nor Van feels truly at ease in the small town. For these Pearl Lake exiles, home isn’t just where the heart is—it’s where things get complicated.


Love Next Door, an all-new sweet and endearing romance from New York Times bestselling author Helena Hunting is now live!


REVIEW: This is a new small town romance from Helena Hunting. Dillon is back in Pearl Lake, not necessarily by choice and Donovan has his own reason for being there. What I love about small town romances is very real in this one. The towns people themselves are like a character, one that’s always in your business and usually adding to your issues, but also giving that sense of community. Dillon and Donovan were okay, but I appreciate their open communication and support of one another once they got past their rough start. Overall, this book is for the reader looking for a small town romance with a lot going on.

Thank you to Helena Hunting and Social Butterfly PR for the eARC in exchange for an honest review!

FREE in Kindle Unlimited
Grab your copy today!
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Helena Hunting

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy. 


Connect with Helena
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Pause by Kylie Scott

3 STARS

Release Date: July 13, 2021

SYNOPSIS: When Anna wakes up from a coma after a car crash, she discovers life has gone on without her. Her husband has been unfaithful—with her best friend—and she’s been long since replaced at work. While her old life is a distant memory, her new life feels like an empty shell. Then she meets the stranger who saved her life during the crash, and he changes everything
Leif Larsen—tattooist, joker, and player—has his own scars thanks to the crash that put Anna in a coma. Helping her move on from her failed marriage, and create a new life, sounds like a perfect distraction. So when he needs a new roommate, he invites Anna to begin her new life with him.
Although their lives may have been put on pause, together they just might find a way to heal.


Pause, an all new emotional friends-to-lovers standalone romance from New York Times bestselling author Kylie Scott is available now!


REVIEW: I LOVED Repeat, the first Larsen Bros Book, so when I saw Leif was getting a book I knew I had to pick it up. Getting to know Leif and she what he experienced during his brother’s story made me so excited for him t get his HEA. And I really, really wanted to like this book. Unfortunately, there were just elements in it that I do not like in a romance. If I had known this going in, I would have just skipped it! The setup for this book was really interesting though. Anna and Leif are in a car accident, where Anna ends up in a coma. Leif reads to her in the hospital, but gets sent away by the cheating husband at some point. They end up starting a friendship, which is kind of comical, because they are so different from one another. And then things go a little haywire for me. They become roommates, he rejects her advances, they date other people… Yep. Not my cup of tea at all. I like loyalty between character even when they aren’t official. Obviously, this is a personal issue and many readers will not have this problem with this story line. What I do know is that both of these characters deserved the happiness they eventually find with each other! I hope you enjoy this book and don’t have my hangups. Thank you to Social Butterfly PR and Kylie Scott for the eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Grab yours today!
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Add it to your TBR on Goodreads here!


Kylie Scott

Kylie is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She was voted Australian Romance Writer of the year, 2013, 2014 & 2018, by the Australian Romance Writer’s Association and her books have been translated into eleven different languages. She is a long time fan of romance, rock music, and B-grade horror films. Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet.


Connect with Kylie 
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A Kiss for a Kiss by Helena Hunting

4 STARS

Release Date: May 27, 2021

SYNOPSIS: I’m Jake Masterson, single dad, and the General Manager of Seattle’s NHL team. I walked away from a career as a player so I could raise my daughter. For the last twenty-plus years, Queenie has been my main priority, but now she’s getting married. And there’s a small complication. A beautiful, sexy complication named Hanna. 

She’s my son-in-law’s older sister. Or at least that’s how they were raised. The truth is a little more scandalous than that. I’ve been drawn to her from the moment I laid eyes on her. And I spent months trying to keep a lid on that attraction.  Until we finally give in. It starts with one searing kiss, but quickly ends with us between the sheets—and in the shower, and the hot tub, you get the picture—and turns into months of sneaking around. Here’s the problem: we live on opposite ends of the country. It can’t be anything but casual. And as I’ve already said…it’s complicated.  But when Hanna finds out she’s pregnant…suddenly things get real serious.


This is Book 4 in the All In Series!


REVIEW: I’ve have really loved this series! The fact that these standalones are interconnected adds to each story in the best way. Getting to meet characters before we get their stories always makes me more invested in them. After the last book, A Secret for a Secret, it was really neat to see King and Queenie play such a big part in this story. This one was definitely an emotional roller coaster. Hannah and Jake are just so interesting and the situation is just not what I was expecting. Hannah has had a really rough road. It was really interesting getting her full backstory after meeting her and finding out the shocking news about her in the previous book. These two together are so great in the beginning, but get some stuff thrown their way and it’s a damn experience for them. Overall, this was not quite what I was expecting, but it was definitely a good journey for the characters. This one, and Little Lies, are both heavy on the angst and I feel like that makes sense with her writing them during the pandemic. Something Helena hunting does a great job at is writing a group of people that become one big family, whether they’re related or not. I think the ending of this book made me so happy, because of all of the characters from the series show just what it means to be a family!

Thank you to Helena Hunting and Social Butterfly PR for the eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Fall in love today!
FREE in Kindle Unlimited

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Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/AKFAK

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Check out the other books in the series!

Helena Hunting

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy. 


Connect with Helena
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Reckless Refuge by Catherine Cowles

5 Stars!

Release Date: May 11, 2021

Synopsis: There were shadows I was running from. Ones that haunted and taunted. Ones that made it so I had no choice but to disappear. I’d spent years hiding from the world. My little island haven, the only assurance of safety. It all changed the moment he showed up at my door. The hint of pain in his eyes told me that something haunted him, too. And I couldn’t help but be drawn closer. But finding the person I needed most came with risks I never expected. And when our ghosts find us again, neither of us may make it out this time.


Review: This book was exactly what I wanted it to be! Catherine Cowles is really killing it with this series, and I’m loving all the romantic suspense. The characters, their connections, and friendships have kept me completely invested from book one. I love revisiting this world with every book that comes out. When readers meet Shay in the previous book, Wrecked Palace, she’s such an enigma. I knew she was running from something and I really wanted to know more about her. I think finally getting the horrific story was really interesting, because it wasn’t something I’ve come across in a book before. And then I appreciated the fact that when Brody comes into the story, he also has his own dark past that he’s running from. They both share this connection that most people don’t understand. Catherine Cowles is a queen of romantic suspense! She just pulls me all the way in with the depth of her characters, the twists, the turns, and the connections. Sometimes I can tell what’s going to happen, but sometimes I’m completely surprised. Even when I think I do know what’s going to happen, it’s still done in a way that’s so entertaining and I’ve loved every moment of it. This is why she’s on my auto-buy list now! There were also some new characters introduced in this one that I really hope we get to learn all about in the next books of the series.

Honestly, if you want emotion, suspense, and that happily ever after that the characters definitely deserve, I think this whole series is worth reading. I seriously loved every moment of it. Plus, the covers are absolutely beautiful!


Download your copy today! 

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3o7tY4x
Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/RecklessRefugeCC
Kobo: https://bit.ly/3mlsPFX
Nook: https://bit.ly/2JnPKlM
Apple Books: https://apple.co/37kIPlj

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Thank you to Catherine Cowles and Social Butterfly PR for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.


Check out Book 1 and 2 in the Wrecked Series!


About Catherine


Writer of words. Drinker of Diet Cokes. Lover of all things cute and furry, especially her dog. Catherine has had her nose in a book since the time she could read and finally decided to write down some of her own stories. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring her home state of Oregon, listening to true crime podcasts, or searching for her next book boyfriend.

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Website: https://www.catherinecowles.com/
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Second Chance at Us by Stacy Travis

3 STARS

Release Date: March 3, 2021

SYNOPSIS: In high school, I was the bubbly cheerleader and he was the quiet debate guy I didn’t even know existed. But Blake Fulton made me believe in love after just one day. Two weeks after my dad died, I was spiraling out of control and my friends had gone AWOL. Blake had never spoken to me before, but suddenly he was there. We ditched school, he bought me a burger, he made me laugh. And he kissed me better than any of those football guys ever did. Then he ghosted me and broke my heart. Fifteen years later, he’s back in my life. He wants to apologize and explain. He wants to prove he’s a better man now. All I want is to resist. But there’s something about him… the way his gorgeous gray eyes see me like I’m the only woman in the room, the way he ignites a fire that burns only for him, the way he knows what I need even before I do. I could fall for him all over again. I’ve never believed in second chances. Will he be the one to change my mind?


Second Chance At Us, an all-new enemies-to-lovers romance from Stacy Travis is available now! 


REVIEW: I am a big fan of second chance romances, but there always has to be a good reason for why the first time didn’t work out–which this one had, especially considering they were teenagers. I think what I liked about the story was getting to know Becca and Blake. From their losses in high school, to seeing how they’ve lived ever since, both of these characters have a lot of depth. I would say about 3/4 of the way through the story I definitely wanted them to have a happy ever after! In the beginning, there’s a lot of inner monologue, which kind of lost my interest after a while. The situation that Becca thinks Blake is in when they meet again, plus the inner monologue, just made me a little impatient to move it all along. It just felt really negative in the beginning. Luckily, it didn’t stay that way! The last third of the book was enjoyable and I appreciated the HEA.

Thank you to Social Butterfly PR and Stacy Travis for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Download your copy today, or read FREE in Kindle Unlimited! 

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3tJ4JJG
Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/secondchanceatus

Add SECOND CHANCE AT US to Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3a5ljeK 


Stacy Travis

It’s a rough world out there, and we all sometimes need a good, romantic beach read, even if we can’t make it to the beach. I’ve spent many lazy days walking the streets of Paris and other gorgeous European cities, and if I’m doing it right, I’m bringing you a dash of romance and a vacay fantasy.  I can’t sit still, so when I’m not hiking, biking or running, I’m playing a very average game of tennis. Background music for writing undoubtedly features some U2, Lizzo, Billy Joel, Pink, Taylor Swift, and Led Zeppelin. Not necessarily in that order. And if I could only eat one food group, it would be cheese. Or wine. Or bread. Are those food groups? Whatever.

Connect with Stacy Travis

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Not My Match by Ilsa Madden-Mills


Not my Match is Book 2 in the Game Changers Series
and available in Kindle Unlimited!


5 STARS!

Release Date: January 19, 2021

SYNOPSIS: Homeless and heartbreakingly innocent, Giselle Riley walks into my penthouse and chaos follows. I shouldn’t have invited the girl genius to live with me, but it’s clear she needs my help—not only for a place to lay her pretty blonde head but in finding real love, which she’s not going to get with the crazy men she picks up online. Too bad she’s a twenty-four-year-old virgin and I’m a bad boy wide receiver. She’s off limits for a hardcore player like me—and we’re just friends. Instead, I’m her matchmaking service, no matter how jealous it makes me when I tag along on her dates. I can keep my self-control. Right? No way will I give in to everything inside me that dreams of a girl like her in my world. I may be the best wide receiver in the country, but how could I hold on to a girl like her?


REVIEW: I have been curious about Giselle since first meeting her during the unfortunate circumstances in book one, Not my Romeo. She’s not exactly the antagonist, but she does make a big mistake that hurts her sister Elena (the main character of book 1). It was really interesting to read Giselle’s story and learn more about her. I ended up really loving her as a character. It fascinated me how lost she was, but also how strong and smart she was. She was a bit of a contradiction, that’s for sure. Her and Devon’s interactions were entertaining, and I appreciated seeing her deal with how Devon was so on the fence about everything. Devon is a little damaged from not only his childhood, but his last relationship–which means he’s definitely my type of hero! He also handled the difficult situations fairly well, even though I wanted him to figure things out a lot faster. I really did want these two characters to find their happiness together. I’ve also really enjoyed Aiden in both books, he’s a great side character! He seems like he might have a lot more depth than how he’s comes off so far. I’m hoping we get his book! Overall, this is another Ilsa Madden-Mills book I loved and just reiterated why she is an auto-buy author for me!

Thank you to Ilsa Madden-Mills and Social Butterfly PR for the eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Download your copy or read FREE in Kindle Unlimited!
Amazon: https://amzn.to/3kZF7mm
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Amazon Audio: https://amzn.to/3mXjbu9 


Add it to your TBR on Goodreads here!


Ilsa Madden-mills

Wall Street Journal, New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Ilsa Madden-Mills is best known for her angsty new adult romances and romantic comedies. Eight of her eleven novels have placed in the Amazon Top 10 Best-seller List: Dirty English #1; Fake Fiancée and I Dare You #2; I Bet You, Filthy English, and Very Bad Things #6; Boyfriend Bargain #8; The Last Guy, her collaboration with Tia Louise, #4.  A former high school English teacher, she adores all things Pride and Prejudice, and of course, Mr. Darcy is her ultimate hero.  She’s addicted to frothy coffee beverages, cheesy magnets, and any book featuring unicorns and sword-wielding females. Feel free to stalk her online.

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Wrecked Palace by Catherine Cowles

5 Stars!

Release Date: January 19, 2021

Synopsis: My past taught me to play it safe. To stay far away from handsome men who promised it all. My life was good without them. Stable, secure, predictable. But one kiss showed me that I’d been playing it safe for far too long. One night, and all I wanted was more of his wildfire. One challenge and my carefully constructed walls tumbled down. Amidst the rubble, I realized there was more to this man than I ever dreamed. When everything fell apart, he showed me what it meant to stay. How to truly live. But some demons don’t stay buried. The past can come knocking when you least expect. And the life he’s showing me might be shorter than either of us expected…


Review:

✓ Romantic Suspense
✓ Damaged and Brooding Hero with a Heart of Gold
✓ Sweet, Caring, and Strong heroine
✓ Inherited Children
✓ A Kitten with the Perfect Name

I found my first favorite book of the year! The way Caelyn and Griffin’s story was set up in the previous books made me really excited. It is always great finally finding out why the broody/grumpy/quiet man is the way he is. I’m also a total sucker for inherited kids! We get to see a little bit of Caelyn taking care of her siblings in the previous books. She’s always come across as such a good person. Learning her full story–what happened to her to bring her home from college and find herself the guardian of her siblings–had me falling head over heels in love with her as a character. I think Catherine Cowles is doing such a wonderful job with this romantic suspense series. It’s beyond emotional and I love all of the characters. It’s always a treat to see the characters from previous books, while also getting the story of the two new characters. Every time we’re introduced to someone in this series, I’m just so curious about them. In this one we meet Shay. The way she interacts with Caelyn and the mystery surrounding her, always has me dying to read her book –> Reckless Refuge!

Honestly, if you want emotion, suspense, and that happily ever after that the characters definitely deserve, I think this whole series is worth reading. I seriously loved every moment of it. And plus, the covers are absolutely beautiful!

Thank you to Catherine Cowles and Social Butterfly PR for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Download your copy today! 

Pre-order your copy today!
Amazon: https://amzn.to/30ZUZy3
Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/WreckedPalace
Apple Books: https://apple.co/3445J0j
Kobo: https://bit.ly/3kS6kbq
Nook: https://bit.ly/2PXeLEf

Add Wrecked Palace to your Goodreads:
https://bit.ly/3appCAa

Check out Book 1 and 2 in the Wrecked Series!


Read the Prologue here!


About Catherine


Writer of words. Drinker of Diet Cokes. Lover of all things cute and furry, especially her dog. Catherine has had her nose in a book since the time she could read and finally decided to write down some of her own stories. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring her home state of Oregon, listening to true crime podcasts, or searching for her next book boyfriend.

Connect with Catherine
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2IEQXSw
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Twitter: https://twitter.com/catherinecowles
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Website: https://www.catherinecowles.com/
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Sneak Peek: Wrecked Palace by Catherine Cowles

Wrecked Palace, an all-new contemporary romance standalone in the Wrecked Series by author Catherine Cowles is coming January 21st,
and we have the first sneak peek!

I’ve already read the whole book and I’m pretty sure
it will end up being in my top 10 for 2021!


Synopsis
One night was all it took for everything to change. From college student to guardian in a single breath. My siblings became my world.

No time for date nights or romantic dreams. I traded quiet weekends for sleepless nights. Giving my all to make sure they were cared for.

But Griffin had a brokenness that called to me—one that mirrored my own.
Gruff and just a little bit reckless.
He was the last thing I needed. But everything I wanted.

Only someone isn’t happy about this new life I’m building. Deciding to set fire to everything I hold close. And when the smoke clears, there might be only ashes left behind…


Pre-order your copy today!
Amazon: https://amzn.to/30ZUZy3
Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/WreckedPalace
Apple Books: https://apple.co/3445J0j
Kobo: https://bit.ly/3kS6kbq
Nook: https://bit.ly/2PXeLEf

Add Wrecked Palace to your Goodreads:
https://bit.ly/3appCAa

Check out Book 1 and 2 in the Wrecked Series!


Read the Prologue below!


Caelyn

PAST

The sound of a phone ringing pulled me out of a deep sleep. I groaned and blinked against the darkness. The only light in the room came from the glow-in-the-dark stars peppered all over my dorm room ceiling. I fumbled around on my nightstand, trying to find the ringing device.

“Turn off your freaking phone before I toss it out the window,” Bell called from across the room. Our other roommate, Kenna, let out a mumbled moan.

“I’m trying.” My fingers found the charger cord, and I tugged the phone onto my bed. Glancing at the screen, my chest squeezed. 1:13 a.m., and Will was calling. I hurried to hit accept. “Will? What’s wrong?”

I’d given my little brother a phone before I left for college. I kept the low-budget mobile topped up with minutes because I needed a way to get in touch with my siblings, and for them to be able to reach me. Our house phone hadn’t worked in years, and my parents weren’t exactly keen on us kids using their cells.

“I don’t know what to do—”

Will’s voice was cut off by a cry. Sobs that could only be coming from my one-year-old sister, Mia, sounded over the line, followed by someone pounding on a door. “You owe me a fucking score, asshole. I paid. Give me my shit!”

I sucked in a sharp breath. “What’s going on? Where are you guys?”

“I’m in the girls’ room. I put a dresser in front of the door, but there’s a guy in the house. He won’t leave.”

The light flicked on, and Bell and Kenna were by my side in a flash, hearing the distress in my voice. I motioned for Bell to grab her phone. “Where are Mom and Dad?”

“They’re not here. They haven’t been in days.”

More pounding cut in. “Give me my fucking score or I’ll gut you when I get in there.”

My heart hammered against my ribs in a painful rhythm. “Bell, call the sheriff. Someone’s in the house. Will has himself barricaded with the girls in their room.”

Bell blanched but immediately began dialing. As soon as someone picked up, she started recounting the situation. Kenna eased down next to me on the bed and rubbed my back.

I turned my attention back to Will. “Stay calm, buddy. The police are on their way.” But how long would it take for them to get there? Our small island off the coast of Washington state didn’t have its own dedicated police force. We shared access to a sheriff’s department with the rest of the chain of islands. That meant in an emergency like this one, deputies had to take a boat before they got onto the island.

“I’m scared.”

The tremble in Will’s voice broke something deep inside me. “It’s going to be okay. I’m with you.” More pounding rang out in the background, and Mia started crying harder. “Is Ava holding Mia?”

“Yeah, I put them in the closet.”

My hand fisted in my sheets. My ten-year-old little brother was savvy enough to know he needed to hide his little sisters away. What the hell had my parents been doing since I left for my junior year four months ago? “You’re so smart, Will. And so freaking brave. What’s in front of the door again?”

“I pushed the dresser and then a bed.”

“That’s great. That will keep him out.”

“I hope so.”

God, I did, too. If something happened to my tiny terrors…I tried to force out the horrendous images taking over my mind.

Bell waved a hand at me. “There are two deputies already on Anchor. They’re heading to your place now.”

I gave her a tight nod. I wanted to feel relief, but I couldn’t. Not until I knew, with one hundred percent certainty, that the kids were okay. “Did you hear that? There are deputies coming now. They’re already on Anchor.”

Will sniffed. “Okay.” There was more yelling and pounding, then a cracking sound. “I think the door’s breaking.”

I squeezed my eyes closed, sending up a thousand silent prayers. “Get in the closet with Ava and Mia.”

“I can’t. I have to fight him if he gets in. I have my bat.”

My sweet, brave boy. Tears leaked from my eyes. “He’s not going to get in. Just hold on.”

Shouts sounded across the line. I heard someone yelling that they were from the sheriff’s department and to get down on the floor. There was more screaming and then a shot. The crack of the bullet was so loud, Kenna jerked beside me. All of my muscles locked. “Will, are you okay? What’s happening now?”

“I’m okay. I don’t know.”

“Will, it’s Deputy Raines. Are you okay in there?”

My shoulders sagged in relief. Will answered the deputy in a shaky voice. “We’re okay.”

I heard a door opening, and Mia’s cries got louder, but it was Ava who spoke. “I want Cae Cae.” The sound of her pleading shattered the last piece of my heart still holding itself together.

“I’m gonna be there soon, Ava.”

“Did you hear that, Avs? Caelyn’s coming soon.”

The deputy began speaking again. “We need to take the bad guy out to the patrol car. Then we’ll come back for you.”

“Okay.” Will’s voice sounded stronger now. “I have to move the furniture, Caelyn.”

“Don’t hang up!” I was desperate. This was my one lifeline to my siblings, and I couldn’t let it go. “Put the phone on speaker and lay it on the bed.”

“All right.” Something rustled, and then Will spoke again. “Can you hear me?”

“I can hear you.”

The sounds of furniture being pushed across the carpet, and Will grunting, came over the line. I held my breath until I heard a knock.

“It’s Deputy Raines. Can I come in?”

A door creaked in the background.

“Are you guys okay?” Deputy Raines asked.

“Yeah, we’re okay,” Will answered.

The slight tremor in his voice had me fisting the sheets even tighter. I never should’ve left Anchor. I should’ve simply found the cheapest apartment possible and worked at a bar or a restaurant on the island. But instead, I’d been selfish, desperate to use the scholarship I’d worked so hard for.

Ava’s voice cut into my thoughts. “Can you take us to Cae Cae?”

“Who’s Cae Cae?” Raines asked.

“My sister. She’s on the phone,” Will said.

“Is it all right if I talk to her?”

“Sure.”

The phone beeped as he took me off speakerphone. “Ms. O’Connor, we’ve got them. They look scared but are perfectly safe.”

I burst into tears. Through my sobs, I managed to get out, “Thank you. Thank you so much.”

“Of course. We’re going to take them to the sheriff’s station on Shelter.”

“Okay. I’m in Seattle. I go to college here. But I’m going to get over there as fast as I can. Will you take this phone so that you can update me if anything changes?”

“I’ll keep the phone with me. Take a deep breath. They’re going to be fine.”

But that wasn’t completely true. Sure, physically, they were okay. But emotionally? The kids were traumatized. And I didn’t know the first thing about how to heal those wounds. But like with everything else, I’d simply have to find a way. I just had to get to my siblings first.

***

“Cae Cae!”

Ava hurled herself at me as soon as I crossed the threshold of the staff lounge at the sheriff’s station. I caught her, lifting her into my arms and rocking her back and forth. “I’m here now. You’re okay.”

She pressed her little face into my neck. “I was so scared.”

I held her tighter against me as I squeezed my eyes closed. “I’m so sorry, Avs.” As her small body trembled against me, I vowed that she would never feel scared like that again.

I scanned the room, my gaze catching on Harriet, Kenna’s adoptive guardian. She’d been the one to arrange a boat for us from Seattle to Shelter Island and had immediately headed to the sheriff’s station herself. She rose, little Mia fast asleep in her arms.

I blinked back tears. “Thank you so much, Harriet. I don’t know what I would’ve done…”

“Oh, hush now. You know I’d do anything for you girls.”

Kenna crossed to the older woman, pressing a kiss to her cheek. “Thank you.”

“I’m happy to help however I can.”

“Where’s Will?” I asked.

Harriet inclined her head to the hallway. “Deputy Raines was getting him a soda and a snack. I think the adrenaline was wearing off. He was getting a little shaky.”

My eyes fell closed again as if I could will away the nightmare of the past few hours. I had so many questions, but I didn’t want to ask any of them in front of little ears. I pressed a kiss to Ava’s head. “Can you go to Bell? I want to find Will.”

Ava nodded and went easily into Bell’s arms. Bell snuggled her close. “I missed you like crazy.”

The small smile that Ava gave Bell had my shoulders easing a fraction. “I’ll be back in a minute.”

I headed back into the hallway, looking for any sign of the vending machines. After a couple of wrong turns, I spotted a head of floppy brown hair. “Will.”

His head snapped up at my voice, and he shoved the soda at a deputy who looked vaguely familiar. Will charged, hitting me with a force that had me stumbling back a step. When had he gotten so big? I wrapped my arms around him as more tears filled my eyes. “I love you.”

“Love you, too,” he whispered, a catch in his voice.

The deputy made his way over to us. “Hi, Ms. O’Connor. I’m Deputy Raines.”

“Please, call me Caelyn. Thank you for all you’ve done.”

“I’m happy to help.” A pained smile curved his lips. “The sheriff wants to chat with you whenever you’re ready.”

I wanted to chat with the sheriff, too. But first, I had a few questions for Will. I brushed the hair back from his eyes; he was in desperate need of a haircut. “When’s the last time you saw Mom and Dad?”

Will released me and winced. “On Friday.”

Blood roared in my ears. It was early Monday morning. “Why didn’t you call me?” I’d given Will the phone for a reason. Our parents had never been overly attentive. Why my mother hadn’t just gone on birth control, I’d never know, because she certainly wasn’t interested in raising her children. She did the bare minimum, which often consisted of a single bag of fast food for dinner and using the television as a babysitter. But they’d never left us alone for days on end before.

Will nibbled on his bottom lip. “I didn’t want you to come back from college.”

“Why not?” I couldn’t hide the hurt in my voice.

He squared his small shoulders. “You need to finish school and get a good job so you can get us out of there.”

“Oh, Will.” I pulled him into my arms, the tears I’d been trying so hard to hold back since I arrived at the station, sliding down my cheeks. I should’ve been embarrassed that this was all coming out in front of some deputy I barely knew, but I couldn’t find it in me to care. All I cared about was wrapping my tiny terrors up in hugs and taking them somewhere safe.

“What’s gonna happen to us?” Will whispered.

God, I wished I had an answer for that, but I knew I’d never let these kids go into foster care. “We’re going to figure it out together. But I’m not leaving you. You’re not alone.”

Will sagged against me. “I’m sorry I didn’t call. I should’ve when they started getting worse.”

I stiffened. “What do you mean getting worse?”

Will released me, looking from me to Raines and back again. “They’re doing drugs.”

My jaw tightened. My parents had always been heavy drinkers, and I knew my dad smoked pot, but I’d never seen any hints of anything harder. The fact that my ten-year-old little brother could see the signs of drug use and knew what it meant… It shattered what little naïve hope I had left that my parents would get their acts together. “You don’t have to go back there. Not ever again.” I turned to Deputy Raines. “Right?”

“Correct,” he agreed. “Child Protective Services has already been here. The children have been placed in Miss Harriet’s care until a more permanent decision can be made.”

The roaring in my ears quieted a fraction. Harriet was a godsend, a true angel. Not only had she taken in Kenna when she needed a place to live; now, she was giving us safe harbor, as well. “Thank you.”

I gave Will’s shoulder a squeeze. “Why don’t you go hang with the rest of the crew while I talk to the sheriff? I know Kenna and Bell want to see you.”

Will nodded stoically. “You’re not gonna leave, right?”

My heart clenched. “Not without you.”

“’Kay.” He headed down the hall towards the lounge.

I couldn’t bring myself to look away from his small form until he disappeared from sight. I inhaled deeply, steeling myself for what was to come. I turned back to Raines. “How bad was it?”

Raines grimaced. “House was a wreck. Everywhere but in the girls’ room. It looked like Will had been sleeping in there, too. He’d moved his mattress between Ava’s bed and the crib.” I was going to kill my parents. For what they’d put these kids through, the fires of hell would be too kind. “There wasn’t a lot of food left in the house either.”

I swallowed against the bile rising in my throat. “Please tell me that means they don’t have a chance in hell of getting these kids back.”

“It’s not gonna happen. The sheriff wants to fill you in on why exactly that’s the case.”

There was an ominous tone to Raines’ words that had my stomach twisting. “Lead the way.”

The deputy guided me down a maze of hallways before stopping in front of a door and knocking.

“Come in,” a gruff voice called.

Raines pushed the door open. “Sheriff, this is Caelyn O’Connor. Caelyn, this is Sheriff Spaulding.”

I stepped forward. “Nice to meet you, sir. Thank you for taking care of my brother and sisters.”

The man, who looked to be in his late fifties, inclined his head to a chair opposite his desk. “Have a seat.”

I did as instructed, and Deputy Raines took his leave. I couldn’t help twisting a loose thread on my jeans as Sheriff Spaulding took my measure, seeming to assess every weakness and flaw in a matter of seconds. “You’re in school at Seattle University.”

“Yes, sir.”

“You working? Taking out loans?”

He must’ve known my parents weren’t helping me in any way. They’d just been happy to have one less mouth to feed. “I have a full academic scholarship. I work part-time to cover my room and board.”

Spaulding nodded, seeming pleased with my answer. “Your parents…”

“Are total and complete wastes of space?” I offered.

“I’m afraid it’s worse than that.”

I gripped the loose thread on my jeans tighter. “Will said he thought they were using drugs.”

“Your father has gotten mixed up with a bad crew. We had suspicions before, but tonight confirmed it. He’s dealing, and I’m not talking pot.”

The string popped off my jeans. “Dealing? He was bringing those people into the house? With the kids there?”

Sheriff Spaulding’s gaze hardened. “I’m afraid so. In and out of the house.”

“I’m going to kill him.”

“You’d have to find him first. And we can’t seem to do that.”

I stiffened. “What do you mean?”

Spaulding leaned back in his chair. “We found your mom holed up in a motel room, high as a kite, needle by the bed. But no sign of your dad.”

Needles. We weren’t even talking prescription pills. “I was home this summer. They were neglectful, yes, but Mom was still caring for Mia. They drank too much, but I saw no sign of drugs.”

“A lot can change in four months, Caelyn.”

Apparently, a whole life could fall apart. “What about the guy who broke in?”

Sheriff Spaulding laced his fingers together and rested his hands on his desk. “Dave Herbert. Arrested on a slew of charges. He won’t be breathing free for a few years, at least.”

It wasn’t enough. He’d scared my siblings to death, probably would’ve hurt them or worse. My stomach roiled at the thought.

“That’s not all,” Spaulding continued. “Your brother gave us a cell phone. I think he thought it might help us find your folks because it belonged to your dad. What was on that phone…it’s going to lead to a lot more arrests.”

“That’s good, right?” I wanted all of these assholes off the streets and far away from my family.

“It is good. But while all this is shaking out, I want you to be cautious.”

All of my muscles seemed to seize at once. “You think they’ll come after the kids?”

Spaulding’s jaw went hard. “I’d like to think not. But desperate people do stupid things. They could think going after the kids might shake your dad loose. Or that the kids know where your dad is. Miss Harriet has assured me that she has a state-of-the-art security system. I think you’ll be safe on her estate, but I want you to be careful when you’re out around town. Maybe give the kids’ schools a heads-up.”

My mind swam with all of the possible risks. I hated that we might bring trouble to Harriet’s door. But what other option did we have? “Thank you. We’ll be careful. Will you keep me up-to-date on the arrests?”

“I’ll keep you in the loop as much as possible.”

“I don’t need to know the ins and outs of the cases. I’d just like to know when I can take a deep breath again.”

Spaulding’s expression gentled. “I understand. We’re going to put Harriet’s estate and the kids’ schools on the drive-by loop so there will be a police presence. That should discourage anyone from doing something stupid.”

“Thank you.” It should’ve made me feel more at ease, but the fact that the sheriff thought it was necessary just ramped my anxiety up another level.

Unease slid over the sheriff’s features. “We’ll need Will to testify about the phone and the people he saw coming and going from the house. Possibly Ava, as well.”

“What? No. That can’t be safe.”

Spaulding met my gaze dead-on. “If we want this Herbert clown and your mother to get the maximum sentences, we need that testimony.”

I closed my eyes, letting my head fall forward. For Will, Ava, and Mia to be truly safe, to heal, anyone involved needed to go away for as long as possible. “They’ll testify.”

“Good—”

I held up a hand, cutting the sheriff off. “But I need you to do something for me in return.”

His eyes grew shrewd. “And what would that be?”

“Help me get custody of my siblings.”

WANT MORE WRECKED PALACE?

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About Catherine


Writer of words. Drinker of Diet Cokes. Lover of all things cute and furry, especially her dog. Catherine has had her nose in a book since the time she could read and finally decided to write down some of her own stories. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring her home state of Oregon, listening to true crime podcasts, or searching for her next book boyfriend.

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The Revenge Pact by Ilsa Madden-Mills

ALL THE DAMN STARS!

Release Date: December 3, 2020

SYNOPSIS: River Tate is a god on campus. The king of football. A tattooed bad boy with gunmetal eyes that see right through you. The only chink in his armor is her, the girl he pretends doesn’t exist, the forbidden one with the shy smile and lavender hair. 

Anastasia Bailey is a nobody. The queen of nothing. An outsider with the face of an angel and a body made for sin. The only chink in her armor is him, her boyfriend’s frat brother, the football player who hates her.  But when Anastasia’s life crashes down, River’s the one who sweeps in and picks up the pieces. Torn between loyalty, lies, and secrets, he battles the temptation to take everything from her when they make their revenge pact. He can’t tell her no. Because revenge (or love) is sweet, and once you get a taste, the craving never ends.

The Revenge Pact kicks off an all-new series, The Kings of Football, with an enemies to lovers standalone romance from Wall Street Journal bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills, coming December 3rd!

REVIEW: I honestly cannot put into words what I felt about this book, it was that amazing. I’m an avid Ilsa Madden-Mills fan, but this one absolutely blew me away. I stayed up into the morning hours on a work night to finish it (I love sleep so damn much, so this is kind of a big of a deal. haha). I was so enraptured by these characters. I needed to know how they figured it all out. I needed to see them get the HEA I knew they deserved. Seriously, I was obsessed with them. Anastasia is just her own person and I love it. I wish I could be friends with her. And then there is River. River is at the top of my ever growing book boyfriend list, that’s for sure. The depth and layers there, damn. AND let’s not forget about the chemistry *fans self* it is burning hot. I want to say so much more, but I also don’t want to spoil it for anyone. So I’m here if you want to talk all the details (seriously hit me up on Bookstagram @ireadergosum)! I sincerely hope you read this one and fall madly in love with the characters like I did!!

Thank you to Ilsa Madden- Mills and Social Butterfly PR for an eARC in exchange for an honest review!


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CHECK OUT THE OTHER STANDALONES IN THE SERIES

Best-selling authors Ilsa Madden-Mills, Meghan Quinn and Adriana Locke, deliver three stand-alone romances about college football players finding true love while on the verge of losing everything.  

The Romantic Pact by Meghan Quinn

The Relationship Pact by Adriana Locke


About Ilsa Madden-Mills 

Wall Street Journal, New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Ilsa Madden-Mills is best known for her angsty new adult romances and romantic comedies. Eight of her eleven novels have placed in the Amazon Top 10 Best-seller List: Dirty English #1; Fake Fiancée and I Dare You #2; I Bet You, Filthy English, and Very Bad Things #6; Boyfriend Bargain #8; The Last Guy, her collaboration with Tia Louise, #4.  A former high school English teacher, she adores all things Pride and Prejudice, and of course, Mr. Darcy is her ultimate hero.  She’s addicted to frothy coffee beverages, cheesy magnets, and any book featuring unicorns and sword-wielding females. Feel free to stalk her online.

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Little Lies by H. Hunting (aka Helena Hunting)

5 STARS!

Release Date: November 16, 2020

SYNOPSIS:
I don’t want you.
You mean nothing to me.
I never loved you.

I turned my words into swords.
And I cut her down. Shoved the blade in and watched her fall.
I said I’d never hurt her, and I did.
Years later, I’m faced with all the little lies, the untruths, the false realities, the damage I inflicted, when all I wanted was to indulge my obsession.
Lavender Waters is the princess in the tower. Even her name is the thing fairy tales are made of. I used to be the one who saved her.
Over and over again. But I don’t want to save her anymore. I just want to pretend the lies are still the truth.

Heroine: Lavender Waters (Alex and Violet Waters’ youngest daughter, PUCKED and FOREVER PUCKED couple origin, Pucked Series, you get a glimpse of her as a child in A Secret for a Secret )

Hero: Kodiak (Kody) Bowman (Rook and Lainey Bowman’s son, A LIE FOR A LIE couple origin, All In Series )


REVIEW: This was some major angst I didn’t know I needed! When I read about Lavender in A Secret for a Secret, and saw how Queenie interacts with her through art therapy, I knew I wanted to know more about her. It was really amazing to get her story that showed how her anxiety and mental health played out throughout her young life, but also once she became an adult (when this book takes place). One of the things I really liked about this book is that both Lavender and Kodiak struggle with mental health, but they have such a strong support system around them. Their parents, siblings, and cousins have their backs and accept them for who they are. I also enjoyed the fact that they talk about toxic relationships, and that there is a difference between support from another person and using another person as a solution. Needless to say, both of these characters were amazing, although not right from the start–Kodiak had some growth to do and I really disliked him in the beginning. Luckily, the second half of the book gave me so much more than I was expecting. I was completely invested in them as a couple, their growth, and their happiness.

What might have been the cherry on top, is that we get guest appearances from Alex and Violet, as well as the other Pucked series and All In series characters as parents! Seeing all of their children is just so much fun after reading the books about the parents. I think it’s really neat to hear about how their children ended up and what paths they are pursuing. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Helena Hunting decides to explore some of the other children’s stories, because I think there is some great material there.

Thank you to Social Butterfly PR and Helena Hunting for an eARC in exchange for an honest review!


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About Helena Hunting 
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy. 

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