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January 31, 2014

Love It: One Week by Elisabeth Staab

Series: HaleStorm 1
Format: Mobi
Release Date: January 15, 2014
Publisher: Self
Source: Author
Genre: Contemporary Roamance
HE HAS A LEGACY TO SAVE…

Michael Hale's company is in jeopardy. In the wake of his father's death and transitioning to CEO, projects are circling the drain and that may cost him everything. Come to find out, the consultant hired to fix things is the "one who got away" many years ago. This time he's playing for keeps, and he intends to win.

SHE SHOULD NEVER SAY NEVER…

Elise Jackson swore she wouldn't come near Michael Hale again. He sucker punched her professionally, and he broke her heart. Still, a job’s a job, and they can both be adults. But high emotion and late nights working lead to passion neither of them can deny.

They have one week. Can the two of them pull Michael's company out of the fire and heal their old wounds?

Sweet & hopeful, two words I would use to describe Elisabeth Staab's first contemporary romance, ONE WEEK. It's a story about second chances, about two people who almost had it one time but because of circumstances, the first time wasn't as fruitful. A few years down the road, things has changed a lot for both Michael Hale and Elise Jackson but the attraction between them is far from diminished. If anything, the passing of time seems to have stoked it even more and now neither of them are willing to pass up another chance at being together.

If you've read Elisabeth Staab then you'll adore ONE WEEK, better yet, if you're a feel-good romance junkie, you'll love ONE WEEK. It's not as snarky as EStaab's Chronicles of Yavn but the dialogue is just as engaging as her vampires. And as EStaab mentioned in the afterword, this novel is a salute to how she and her DH met and fell in love and from what little I know of Ms. Staab, Elise does remind me of her. Elise is not a weak, impressionable heroine nor is she the "virginal"/innocent type we're used to reading in contemporary romances. Elise is smart, spunky, wise and has some interesting qualities about her that endeared her to me (pierced in places & dipped herself in the lady pond at one time). Michael is enigmatic and undoubtedly Alpha but what I loved about him is he didn't barrel his way to Elise's life. Inasmuch as he is burning for Elise, he didn't go caveman possessive on her, he treated Elise like his equal, more of a partner than just his woman. You gotta love a man who respects his lady's mind and moxie with the same fervor as how he worships her body.

The plot of ONE WEEK is intense. On top of a shared history, Michael's path crossed Elise in the middle of a big transition in his life. Michael's father just died and passed the company to him, problem is it's in crisis and Michael is up to his neck putting out fires. As if this isn't enough, he's also in divorce proceedings and his soon-to-be ex-wife isn't being very cooperative. So Elise's re-entry in his life may not be the best of time but they were able to gracefully meander their way through things. Elise especially is admirable, she managed to hold back a little as opposed to just falling naively for Michael considering his rather complicated marital situation. Some girls would've thrown a fit or even go over the top dramatic, Elise took it all in stride and sort of allowed Michael to prove his worth and fixed his situation. 

ONE WEEK is a feel-good and sexy HEA contemporary romance. It's a quick read and has all the wonderful elements one wants and would find from a satisfying contemporary romance. The hero is strong but not overbearing and the heroine is feminine but not wimpy. It's intense and emotional but there are no mascara-running drama, no awkward confrontations and more importantly, no scathing angry back and forth between Michael and Elise. More importantly, all the romance is complemented by hot smex which makes ONE WEEK another winning read by Elisabeth Staab.
Every woman at HaleStorm with a pulse and proper vision had your name written on their vibrators. - Elise

I loved you five years ago and I was too stupid to realize. If I had to wait for you as long as I have, I can wait a little longer until this feels right for you. - Michael



One Week By Elisabeth Staab
Blog Tour
Excerpt

“I should have looked for you.” He wrapped his arms around her and groaned aloud at the warmth and softness of her skin against his. The rough texture of her nipples against his chest, the dampness of her hair on his shoulder. “Just touching you makes me crazy. My God, Elise. I should have known. Fuck, I did know, and I ignored it. I’m so goddamned stupid.”

“You’re not stupid.”

“I am stupid.” Michael gripped her hips—fucking luscious, curvy hips—and ran his hands up that amazing hourglass arc in her waist and over her shoulders, reveling in the magic of Elise’s hands giving him the same treatment. “I’m stupid because I thought I could push you away all those years ago and I’d forget and find someone else who turned me on as much as your hand bumping my knee under a cubicle desk. Christ, I tried to tell myself it was all innocent, but I lived for every second.”

“Oh my God.” Elise’s eyes flew wide, her cheeks flushed in the low light of her bedroom. “I had no idea.”

“You must have, if you gathered up the nerve to kiss me.” He bent her back, one hand braced between her shoulders, the other gripping her ass, trailing kisses along her jaw. Their only-for-tonight agreement be damned, already he didn’t want to let her go.

“I hoped.” She gripped his shoulders, smiling. “If I’m being honest, all that accidentally bumping your knee wasn’t so much an accident.”


Purchase One Week



Congrats on the release of ONE WEEK! Can you tell us what HaleStorm is about?

Well One Week the book is a corporate romance that’s a reunion story, part friends to lovers and part enemies to lovers, since it’s about two people with a lot of unresolved baggage. Elise Jackson used to work for Michael Hale, they kissed, and everything fell apart. Five years later she’s back to help him save a project that could tank his company, and long work hours plus stress push tension to the maximum.

HaleStorm is the name of Michael’s company as well as the series. I love the television show Suits and the way everything in that fictional world revolves around the law firm in which everyone works, almost like it’s an additional character on the show. That was, in part, where I came up with the idea for the series name.


What inspired you to write a contemporary romance series?

It was sort of a perfect storm: partly it was the simple fact that I’d been reading a lot of contemporary. I had very intense edits for my upcoming vampire novel, Hunter by night, and I’d been ping-ponging between YA and shorter, category length adult romance novels when I needed to take a sanity break from work. Authors like Katee Robert, and Kimberly Kincaid were steamy, fun, and quick to read in a single sitting and then get back to what I needed to do. So when I started ruminating one day about old loves, about a crush I’d had trouble letting go of, and then later about my husband, who I’d met at work and who actually had been my boss for a brief period of time before we started dating, I sat down and came up with One Week.



How is your writing voice the same or different compared to Chronicles of Yavn? 

Well I’m still me, and I didn’t consciously do anything to change my voice, because I think author voice is what I’m looking for as a reader when I pick up someone’s work. My sense of humor is still in there, and my writing style is more or less the same. So if you liked the way I wrote King of Darkness and Prince of Power, you’ll probably enjoy One Week. That’s been the feedback from my readers so far.

The differences mostly has to do with the characters and the story themes themselves. The characters in Chronicles of Yavn are very old vampires trying to fit into a modern world so they speak with a heavy dose of modern slang mixed with the occasional old school slip. Everyone swears a lot, and they have very… colorful personalities. You’ve got characters like Alexia who uses a lot of made up words. You can’t really do things like that as much in an office environment and be understood, and you can’t drop the F-bomb in every other paragraph (although Michael Hale certainly tries). Their discussions center around corporate bad guys, not cutting someone’s heart out, lol. So One Week is a different story, but it’s still, in my extremely biased opinion, a lot of fun. 


Is HaleStorm a free flowing series or have you set the number of books you'll be writing for it?

I have some ideas, but at this point it’s very free-flowing. I know who the next book will be about, and I envision a companion short story down the road also, that focuses a little more on Elise and Michael.


In one word, how do you describe Michael and Elise's love story?

Intense.


What are these characters like?

Well I already used intense… They’re both passionate, driven, and very smart. The thing that we at the beginning of One Week is that their motivation starts out having a lot to do with their parents. Michael wants to save the company his father worked hard to create, Elise is working to be better than her mother was and than her mother thinks she can be. As they get toward the end of the story their focus is more on each other, and I want to see that continue to grow as the series moves forward.


One Week sounds like it's rich in history and more of a second chance at love kind of thing. What is the romance "hook" of One Week?


Thank you! This story takes the CEO/boardroom romance trope and twists it in a few different ways. It’s not your standard mysterious rich guy meets innocent young ingenue, I brought Elise in as someone strong, educated, and he needed her to save him. Or really, in the end, they needed each other. He shored up a lot of her insecurities, and she taught him there were people in his life he could trust.


Is the entire series dedicated to Michael and Elise or will each novel feature a different couple?

There’s a different couple focused on in each book, but since everyone exists in the HaleStorm world and Michael is the “leader” of that world, Michael and Elise will most likely be in each book, in some form or fashion. Their lives will grow and evolve as the company does, and I’ve already got a plan for at least one companion novella/short story to check back in with Elise and Michael later in the series.


In Twitter fashion, "sell" One Week to the readers


He has one week to save his legacy and win back the woman who got away. 




Where can fans catch you?

The New Jersey Liberty States Con on March 15 - Keynote Speaker, Sherrilyn Kenyon!
The RT Convention in New Orleans, May 13th - 18th
The Frederick Book Festival, June 27-28 in Frederick, Maryland
The Philly Author Fest, November 8th in King of Prussia, PA (group signing)




Elisabeth Staab still lives with her nose in a book and at least one foot in an imaginary world. She believes that all kinds of safe and sane love should be celebrated but she adores the fantasy-filled realm of paranormal romance the best. She lives in the Washington DC area with her family and one big scaredy cat, where she loves to spend time with good friends, go dancing, collect wacky coffee mugs from which to drink her favorite beverage, and sing off-key in her kitchen (when she isn't making characters fall in love, that is).

Stalk her!









January 30, 2014

Like It: Savor by Kate Evangelista


Series: Vicious Feast 1
Format: Mobi
Release Date: December 2, 2013
Publisher: Crescent Moon Press
Source: Paranormal Cravings
Genre: NA - Paranormal Romance
Mature and explicit content. Not recommended for readers below 18-years-old. Yup, you've got to be that old to read my story. Consider yourself warned.

I’m Dakota Collins, a tough talking, eye patch wearing, workaholic photography student. Why am I important? Well, maybe because I get to spend an entire month with Vicious, only the sickest indie rock band out there.

You see, I needed a subject for my Spring Showcase introspective in order to graduate. During a chance encounter at a club I’d been sent to cover for the Daily Gossip, our ironically named college paper, the features writer I usually teamed up with introduced me to the band—by accident, I might add. It involved a run in with a scary, bald bodyguard. Anyway, long story short, I signed a contract to take pictures of Vicious.

I should have known their handsome yet way too serious for his own good bassist, Luka Visraya, wouldn't be able to keep his hands to himself. He’s gorgeous and all, but the way he smiles spelled trouble with a capital L. I’m in for a long month with him around.

Crazy shit happens and then some. So, if you want the skinny on Vicious and the events revolving around my stay at Lunar Manor, read my story.

Again, refer to the warning above.

SAVOR is my first Kate Evangelista read and I'm excited not only because I get to try a new author but also because she's a Filipina! So even if my friends think I'm a sell-out (totally not true!), I'm proud of what Kate has accomplished, this girl can Write and her imagination is boundless! I mean Lunar Manor alone, it's very imperial and though set someplace else, the feel of Vicious' HQ reminds me of those old mansions back home. Regal, stately and feudal in some ways.

Although it markets itself as NA-Paranormal, SAVOR to me read more like MYA-Contemporary except for that kicker at the very end where a couple of characters were chanting some witchy juju stuff. For the most part, SAVOR was pretty much normal aside from its very gothic rock 'n roll characters. I mean the heroine, Dakota Collins, wears an eye patch! How unique and utterly intriguing is that?! And I promise you, Dakota lives up to her infamous eye patch. She's not as abrasive as the rest of the personalities but she's a character nonetheless. I like Dakota, she has a lot story to tell starting with her eye patch but aside from the obvious, she held her ground considering she's around a bunch of ego-centric people. This girl is so artistic too, my favorite parts of the novel are her photo shoots with the band, each concept is so unique and utterly goth-romance I wish the photographs are real!

Now Vicious, they live up to their reputation as the sickest indie band out there! The members have a flair about them that may seem typical in some sense but truly they're an artistic bunch once you've managed to push against the rockstar veneer. I understand that the group started in Taste, KEvangelista's YA novel so if you've read it and liked it then it's a MUST that you read SAVOR. Now if you're like me and are new to this world, I think it would be wise to read Taste first to improve your appreciation for the band, Vicious, and understand their intricate relationships and chemistry because there's a LOT of history worth knowing here. 

Luka. He puzzled and annoyed me for the most part. I don't mind broodiness and even mild possessiveness but I draw the line on mercurial and flat out cray. To me Luka is your typical genius musician, he's brilliant, magnetic, entitled and a ticking bomb. You don't know what will set him off and because he holds quite a bit of "power", he can level you on a whim. Intriguing but not something I would find endearing. This I know much though, this attitude and behavior won't fly with Dakota but that part of the story has yet to be developed.

SAVOR is more of an introduction. The plot is not as tight as I'd expect it to be and the conflict was a little flimsy and remained unresolved which I guess will be addressed in Relish, book two of Vicious Feast. Luka's backstory has been explored a bit but Dakota's is yet to be revealed. What threw me off was SAVOR read more like a dark contemporary romance than paranormal then at the very end KEvangelista threw this magical shiznit. I'm excited to see where the series is going after this but I guess I want more eveness in my reads? In any case, I'm looking forward to know more about the band and the mystery behind Dakota's nightmares and eye patch. That alone is enough to make me read book 2.





Savor Exclusive Excerpt

“Dakota Collins!”
I lowered my camera. The use of my full name never came with good consequences. I blinked my vision back at her even if I wanted to spend the rest of the night taking his picture. Sweat rose over my upper lip. I may just have found my subject for the Spring Showcase.
The only problem?
I had to find a way to convince him to be in my project. Something told me this wouldn’t be easy. By the way my heart beat in my ears, drowning out the music and Silvia having a fit in front of me, I wanted it too much. I wanted him too much. 
“This the guy you were saying?” I showed Silvia the picture I’d taken. This seemed to pacify her because she sidled closer, mesmerized like a moth to a flame.
“Luka Visraya,” she said with a moan like she’d just tasted the most luscious chocolate before taking a long gulp of her cocktail. The name didn’t register. Silvia must have noticed my blank expression because she continued. “He’s the bassist for Vicious.”
Still no pings of recognition in my head. 
She slapped her thigh. “Where have you been? It’s weird that you haven’t heard of them. Their songs are on the radio like every second.”
Of course I hadn’t heard of them. I liked listening to country and I hardly kept up with current events.
“Name one?” Okay, I had a name. Luka. Exotic. A bassist. Part of a band I should know about. So he’s famous. I slowly felt my chances of asking him to be my subject slip from my grasp. If he was someone famous, fat chance he’d say yes to a graduating photography student like me. I just about deflated when Silvia mentioned one of their songs. “Oh, I know that one!” By accident. It played in the radio of the cab I rode in to Sacrifice. I stared at the picture of him then lifted my gaze to where he sat. “He’s gone.”
“What?” Silvia whipped around in time to come face to face with a wall of man. “Whoa!” She pushed at him. “Watch it, buddy!”
“Give me the camera,” he said in a threatening tone. 
Big. Beefy. Bald. The three Bs that made up the quintessential bodyguard. 
I clutched my DSLR closer to my chest and looked up at him with my good eye. “And why would I do that?” The patch didn’t seem to intimidate him because he just reached out. So much for my Bond villain aspirations. I moved away from his grubby hand. No one touched my camera but me.
Despite her size, Silvia came between me and the mountain. “We’re here to cover Sacrifice for our college paper. You don’t have the right to take away my colleague’s camera.”
Yeah! You give it to him, Silvy. 
Not that I couldn’t take care of myself. But if Silvia wanted to play hero, I wouldn’t stand in her way. 
“What seems to be the problem here?” a soft, authoritative voice chimed in. 
The bodyguard moved aside to reveal the Gothic Lolita. She stood at just about the same height as Silvia, but she possessed an older aura even if she seemed to be our age. 
“She’s been taking pictures,” Baldy said.
Lolita’s kohl eyes landed on me then shifted to my camera. 
“As I was saying to the big guy,” Silvia explained. “My colleague and I are covering the opening of Sacrifice.”
“For what paper?” Lolita asked without taking her eyes off me. I clutched my camera like an extra appendage. In some ways it was. After losing half my sight, I relied on my camera like an extra eye, seeing the world through its lens. I would rather die than lose it. 
“The Daily Gossip,” I said before Silvia could answer just to relieve some of the awkward tension building in me under her gaze. “We study at Wexler U.”
She tilted her head, crossing her arms. 
“Okay,” I quickly stammered out. “I get that the name of our paper sounds like a tabloid, but the Daily Gossip is a cool campus paper.” The last part maybe only I believed since Silvia raised her eyebrow at me, but Lolita and the mountain didn’t have to know that. 
No one spoke after that. Even in a noisy club, the silence in our group rang in my ears. Not waiting for the situation to get any more awkward, I plowed forward with my own selfish intensions. 
“You know Luka.” I said it more as a statement, but it came out like a question. 
Lolita nodded.    
“I’m Dakota Collins and I’m graduating this spring. I was wondering if Luka would be interested in—”
“What would I be interested in?” a smooth voice joined our group. 
The walls of my throat closed, chocking the rest of what I had to say. All eyes turned to Luka. Silvia dropped her empty glass. It bounced off the bodyguard’s shoe and landed in a clatter but didn’t break. Even with my height, I still had to look up at him. 
“What are you doing here?” Lolita admonished. “You should be backstage.”
One side of his lips came up. God. Without the scowl, his face lit up. I had to stop the urge to lift my camera and start snapping away. And his eyes were piercing blue. The kind that stretched over my mother’s farm in the summer. Damn.
Seeing him up close, I knew I’d give any one of my kidneys for a chance to take his picture in a formal shoot. 
“We have five minutes. Chill, Yana.” He tugged at one of her pigtails. 
“Luka,” Silvia managed. “I’m a big fan. Will you sign my chest?”
Bypassing my petite colleague, Luka’s intensely blue gaze studied me. He reached out and I flinched back. His fingers almost grazed my patch. What the hell was the matter with him? Trying to touch my eye patch was tantamount to poking a bandage over a wound and asking the person if it hurts. 
Gothic Lolita—Yana—yanked Luka’s arm down. “I’m so sorry!” Her whole aura changed. She went from all business to panicky. “My brother sometimes forgets his manners. He didn’t mean anything about touching your…” She bit her lower lip, maybe trying to keep herself from saying the wrong thing. 
That little faux pas cleared my head of the Luka haze and spurred me into action. “Luka, will you let me take your picture for my final project?” I didn’t know where my courage came from, but I knew if I didn’t take this chance, I’d regret it. I had to have him as my subject. 
Still not removing his gaze from my face, like my patch transfixed him, he tilted his head to one side very much like his sister did earlier.
“Luka, don’t!” Yana said, but from the consideration on Luka’s face, she was too late. 
“You’re a photographer?”
“Yes.” I nodded, in case the word wasn’t enough. 
“And you’d like me to be the subject of your project?”
God yes! This time, I could only nod. I didn’t want him to see how eager I was. And I couldn’t live with myself if I embarrassed myself further. 
I waited with baited breath.
It seemed everyone in our group waited with baited breath for what the golden god had to say about my brazen request. I soon realized when Luka spoke, everyone listened. The way he pronounced every word precisely yet still spoke so smoothly, like butter on warm toast, captured everyone’s attention. To say he captivated us was an understatement. Something in me certainly wanted to hear him keep speaking. He could read from an accounting textbook in that voice and no one would get bored.
“I need to know that you’re good,” he finally said.
Something about his words seemed to hold a different meaning. I must have missed the alcohol in the soda Silvia had given me. Maybe I was drunk and this was all a blackout dream. 
“What are you saying?” Yana faced Luka all the way now, her petite form all rigid. 
He unleashed a full on megawatt smile my way. I almost had to cover my eye from it. At my side, Silvia gasped. Her long nails dug into my arm. Like staring at the sun, I couldn’t take my gaze away from him no matter how bad it was for me. 
“We’re about to perform. I want you to take several pictures then send them to Yana. If she approves, we’ll see about your request.”
Then, like smoke, he disappeared into the crowd. 



Purchase Savor




When Kate Evangelista was told she had a knack for writing stories, she did the next best thing: entered medical school. After realizing she wasn't going to be the next Doogie Howser, M.D., Kate wandered into the Literature department of her university and never looked back. Today, she is in possession of a piece of paper that says to the world she owns a Literature degree. To make matters worse, she took Master's courses in creative writing. In the end, she realized to be a writer, none of what she had mattered. What really mattered? Writing. Plain and simple, honest to God, sitting in front of her computer, writing. Today she lives in the Philippines and writes full time.

Stalk Kate!









January 26, 2014

Bought Borrowed & Bagged #85

BB&B (Bought, Borrowed and Bagged) is a weekly meme, inspired my The Story Siren and Pop Culture Junkie, where we share with you the books that we have bought, borrowed or bagged (won or gifted) plus a recap of the previous week's reviews, upcoming reviews, on going events and book movie or television news. 

BB&B is an homage Barron's Books & Baubles from Karen Marie Moning's smash hit series, Fever. 



Sorry for being super late in posting this. Been busy this weekend... in any case, here's what I got last week. I hope yours was good if not better. Enjoy the Grammy's!!!

Bagged
from Authors, Publishers & Tour Companies


STILL OPEN!
Leslea Tash is still looking for Goodreads/Blog reviewers to read BIRD AFTER BIRD. This is a full length contemporary romance novel with the release date still pending. If you are interested, leave a comment below with your email so I can contact you or you may visit Leslea's FACEBOOK PAGE if you want to get in touch with her directly.

Leslea, aka Red Tash, is the author of TROLL OR DERBY. She's has a wicked mind and even more wicked with a pen... errr keyboard... so you're in good hands.




Last Week's Reviews

Upcoming Reviews

Current Giveaways


win 1 of 2 print copies of Just One Night
ends Jan 30

win a signed print copy of Heights of Desire or 1 $20 Amazon GC
ends Jan 31

Danielle Doolittle
win books & swag
ends Jan. 28

Sandy Williams
win the complete series + swag
ends Feb. 15




Check out these other fabulous blogs that participate in 
Bought, Borrowed & Bagged:


NOTE: There's a new linky created for this year and please note that you have to use your LABEL links (i.e. book haul) on the form below NOT the post link.



January 24, 2014

Suped Up: Disarm by June Gray

Series: Disarm The Complete Novel
Format: eGalley
Release Date: December 31, 2012
Publisher: Berkley
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Romantica
26-year-old Elsie Sherman has had a crush on her brother's best friend, Henry Logan, since she was twelve years old. Unfortunately, ever since her brother was killed in action, Henry has only treated her as a little sister that needed to be protected. That is, until one night, when one dance ignites a sensual fire between the two, leaving Elsie confused and ridiculously turned-on. Is she allowed to lust after her surrogate big brother who also happens to be her roommate? But Henry has been keeping two secrets--one will bring them together and the other will ruin everything--and it is up to Elsie to decide if their relationship is worth fighting for.


You have to read this, Supies!! I seldom push a book but this one I will pimp like a bordello Madam! DISARM by June Gray is so so good I don't know what words to use to describe this amazing story. It's sexy, it's emotional, heartfelt, brimming with love, pain, hurt and other delicious stuff it's a definite 4-5+ cauldron read for the hopeless romantics like me (and a 3.5 for the nitpicky, can't ignore those!). 

DISARM is a military contemporary romance with a friends-to-lovers trope. I know some of you is shifty about books like this but I promise June Gray did it thoughtfully and skillfully. Henry Logan and Elsie Sherman have known each other since they were teens. Henry is Jason's, Elsie's big brother, bestfriend and both have served in the Air Force straight after graduation. Unfortunately Jason got killed in Afghanistan and since then, Henry and Elsie has been each other's support system. Eventually they hooked up which wasn't a surprise because they've been in love with each other for the longest time. But Henry is bent out of shape in so many places which pushed and pulled their relationship and tested their love in extreme ways. Expect a lot of love and necessary "evils" as Henry and Elsie navigate the ups and downs in their relationship, every reader is sure to empathize and sympathize with these two.

DISARM is one of the realist novel I've read in a long time. It was tough to read emotionally because of the rich history between Henry and Elsie which played a major part in their relationship. Going in to the novel I was expecting a lot of angst and surprisingly, there's almost none of that. The heart of DISARM is Henry and his inner demons that needs exorcising and holes that needs to be filled to make himself whole before he can be part of something. There's no doubt that Henry loves Elsie to the moon and back but he is in desperate need of fixing and unfortunately Elsie can't be part of that process. The question Henry indirectly posed to Elsie is: do you love me enough to let me go so I can be happy?
We all get confused about ourselves but we don't go hurting those we love just so we can get some clarity - Elsie
And that is one flucked up question right? So many warring emotions attached to that question, do you take the selfish lover route or do you become the gracious best friend? JGray did a fantastic job in presenting both sides, so good that I felt I was in the middle of the fray myself. On one side I understand and appreciate Henry's ordeal and applaud him for acknowledging his problems and not dumping it on Elsie. On the other side my heart went to Elsie because she just found love and now she's being asked to give it up and gracefully at that. 
You were the goodness & light when my life was full of darkness - Henry
DISARM will take you on a journey. Henry reminisced about the past and retraced his steps on how he met and fell in love with Elsie. Unlike other contemporary novels time didn't stand still for these two, the entire novel spans over a decade of love and friendship. JGray showcased the highs and lows of Henry and Elsie's platonic and romantic relationships beautifully. And contrary to other erotica/romantica tales, they didn't fluck their problems out nor sought solutions in the bedroom, they actually did SOMETHING to fix things. Henry didn't go to Elsie for redemption, he worked for it and Elsie let him earn his worth. I guess what I'm trying to say is the resolution was normal, organic and REAL. It wasn't a bloated version of what non-fictional people would do, it IS what I would do if I were caught in the same situation.

Anyway, I can go wax poetic until I've used up all the English words I know and still it won't do justice to DISARM. All I can say at this point is read the darn thing! If you're unsure get the first serial. It is a beautiful love story and I can't wait for book 2, Arrest. It looks like our lovers will once again be tested and I can't wait to be part of that again.



DISARM was previously released as a 6 part serial which is still available. But I strongly encourage you to get the print edition because of the bonus, Henry and Elsie's honeymoon, which you'll only read in the first edition (accdg. to the book).

Purchase Disarm







January 23, 2014

Tour Stop + Giveaway: Two Roads by L.M. Augustine

Two Roads
L.M. Augustine
August 26, 2013
Contemporary New Adult
The only person poetry-loving Cali Monroe hates more than herself is Logan Waters, the geeky kid who lives in the dorm building next to hers.

Ever since Cali's parents told her she would amount to nothing, she has felt entirely inadequate. Friendless and alone, she takes on the mean girl role in hopes it will make her feel better--and Logan serves as the perfect target. He infuriates her with his obnoxiously long lashes, his all too perfect dimpled smile, and his complete lack of personality outside of his intelligence. It doesn't hurt that he's part of the reason her brother is dead, either. So Cali hates him, and he returns the favor. Thus, their prank-filled, insult-driven rivalry is born, and torturing Logan quickly becomes the highlight of her life.

But when Cali's parents set them up on a blind date, she begins to realize Logan might not be as boring as she always thought. He shares her love of poetry, takes a sadistic pleasure in making fun of crepes, and he makes her blush when he calls her smile pretty.

And hey, maybe those long lashes of his aren't that obnoxious after all…

Two Roads is New Adult Romance about finding love, standing out, and learning to embrace who you are. It contains some language and mild sexual content.


I LURRVE Logan Waters and I'm beyond happy that L.M. Augustine has a penchant for geeky heroes, we need more of them IMO. So without further ado, here's a brief introduction to hunky Logan Waters.


10 Things You Need to Know about Logan Waters
Meet Logan Waters. 


Without a doubt, he has been one of my favorite characters to write. He's cocky, he's witty, and he's a complete and utter nerd. Not only that, but he also has his dark side: he's still broken from a tragedy in both his and Cali's past, but he tries desperately to hide it. 

So without further ado, here are ten things you need to know about Logan Waters (and also, ten reasons why I love him). 

  1. He's a geek. And he's not even a little geeky, either--he goes all out with his nerdness. He loves math; he loves books; he loves keeping to himself. 
  2. He likes poetry. Just wait until you read the poem he wrote Cali! 
  3. He has t-shirts with math pickup lines on them. "I don't mean to be obtuse, but you're acute girl," for instance.
  4. Cali sees him as a "nerdhole." Nerdhole is a word she invented, meaning a nerd + an asshole.
  5. He knows how to pull a pretty great prank. 
  6. For a geek, he says himself that he knows lots of moves in bed. 
  7. His eyelashes truly are obnoxiously long.
  8. He's still reeling from the death of his best friend, Ben, who also happens to be Cali's older brother.
  9. He hates crepes. Like, HATES them. It quickly becomes a running joke between the two. 
  10. In the end, it's hard not to love him, geek glasses and all. Okay, so this is mostly my opinion… but yeah. 

I really hope you like him (and the story!) if you decide to give Two Roads a try. :-)



The truth is, when Logan and I are going at it like this, we’re in our own little world. A world full of fire and passion and hate and dying puppies, sure, but our own world all the same. It’s just us, just me and him, just our insults and our pranks and our twisted, refreshing, perfect and so screwed-up hate for each other. In a really really really strange way, it’s kind of nice. Actually, “nice” does not even begin to describe it. My hatred for Logan is terrible and refreshing, wonderful and horrible all at once. “Asshole,” I say, letting the hatred seep into my voice, taking a sip out of his hot chocolate. 
“Bitch,” he replies, and he gulps down more of my precious coffee. Heat pulses between us, and the laughter and gossip and all the other sounds in The Dungeon disappear. The world seems to go silent, and when I glare at Logan, he is all I see. He--in all of his innocence and wit and completely frustrating geekiness. He--with his deep blue eyes and glasses and perfect dimples. He--the guy who ruined my life.

TWO ROADS is definitely a winner! It gave me lots of LOL moments stemming from the back and forth pranks these two are throwing at each other. I was beyond entertained over their verbal foreplay, felt warm and fuzzy over their love for poetry and more tender moments. Mr. Augustine did a great job in writing a heartfelt story about loss and love from a girl's POV. He wielded his wit carefully and tastefully without sacrificing the message that death is one of the most permanent kind of pain there is and the polarities of grief that go with it. 

Find the full review here

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L.M. Augustine is a YA romance author who is obsessed with writing about dorky teenagers, love, and happy endings. He currently lives in New England, where he spends far too much time reading books and screaming at his computer, and he believes that the solution to the world’s problems can be found in chocolate cake. Click To Subscribe is his first novel, but it won’t be his last.

L.M. prefers to remain anonymous so let's stalk him!



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Tour Stop: Heights of Desire by Mara White

Heights of Desire
Heightsbound 1
Mara White
December 24, 2013
Contemporary Romance
A woman who has everything meets a man who can offer her nothing but trouble. They bring each other to a height of desire neither thought possible, but is it enough to overcome the differences that tear them apart?

Kate Champion, a forty-two-year-old, married mother of two, leads an enviable upper class life of luxury. Her comfortable path takes an unexpected detour after a chance encounter at a neighborhood playground.

Jaylee Inoa is a twenty-two-year-old, second generation New York Dominican with close ties to the Heights and the gangs that run them.

Her life of privilege is no match for the code of the streets he navigates with ease. When a crime of the heart leads to a crime in the flesh, how far will she go to redeem him? Can she risk all in her life that is golden for the love of her golden-eyed man?

Every time I read a provocative book with main characters I dislike, I often wonder if it's intentional on the author's part or not. Kate Champion robbed me of words in more ways than one and since reading HEIGHTS OF DESIRE I know I have to pick Mara White's brain and ask her what is up with Kate! 


When I was a teenager I lived in the Caribbean and hung out with a group of girls who were slightly older than I was, definitely more cosmopolitan and very well educated. We all however, dated the same group of boys who were, for lack of a better term, corner boys. Poor, mostly extremely under-educated and caught up in street culture. It made for some interesting relationships and I always found the juxtaposition to be very compelling.

As a young adult, I lived in Mexico City, which is a city with a staggering class divide. On a daily basis you see the extremely rich and the exceptionally poor interact in a strange dance around unspoken class boundaries that very few dare cross. However, when they are crossed some of the most extraordinary and beautiful relationships are formed.

Credit goes to Michele Catalano Creative
Now I live in Manhattan’s Northern tip in a neighborhood called Washington Heights that is currently in the middle of a radical wave of gentrification. There is a very established Dominican population that has been here for years and now, an incoming invasion of young, urban, professionals – who are not only different culturally but who, for the most part, belong to an entirely different socio-economic bracket. So all of these scenarios are what planted the seeds for Heights of Desire and the character, Kate Champion in me as a writer.

When I started the story, I never intended for Kate to be a hateful person. In fact, for me she isn’t, I have great compassion for her despite her many flaws. For me personally, the hardest part to write was not Kate’s many indiscretions and poor choices but rather her wardrobe. I wrote in Kate’s wardrobe as an easy way to illustrate her complete obliviousness to her own privilege and wealth. I have my own issues with luxury items and I’m not morally comfortable with a handbag that costs as much as it does to feed a family of four for a year. So when Kate brought a Birken bag to Riker’s, it was really the lowest point for me in my relationship with my own character.

I think that most of us strive for and dream about having what Kate Champion already has and that’s why we don’t necessarily value what she’s searching for in her relationship with Jaylee. But who are we to judge anyone else’s happiness and maybe for Kate, happiness resides in following her inner voice and discovering her true self. 

As a mother I completely understand a reader’s difficulty with Kate allowing her children to become involved in her affair. I disagree however with the criticism where people have said she is abandoning or throwing away her children. I don’t believe Kate is hurting Ada and Pearl any more or less than any parent hurts their child when they become a casualty of an unsuccessful partnership. There is a unique element to Kate and Jaylee’s relationship in regards to the children and for me it was key in crafting the story. When Jaylee first sees Kate, he accepts her and her children together as a whole, as an indivisible entity, and he never strays from this inclusion – he never falters. This is what makes Kate trust him and is the initial gateway into their love.
Credit goes to Michele Catalano Creative

I think, in our society when it comes to sexuality, motherhood is mistakenly seen as a burden or a ‘deal-breaker’ or any number of negative things. Even when mothers are mentioned in a sexual context – it’s often belittled as ‘cougar’ or ‘MILF.’ But for Jaylee, Kate’s motherhood is appealing and beautiful and a natural extension of who she is. And I have to agree with Jaylee there because some of the sexiest people I know are mothers!

Much of Kate’s difficulty as a character lies in the fact that she is passive. She is passive about almost every aspect of her life except for Jaylee. When it comes to Jaylee, Kate is fearless and driven and devoted, almost to a fault.

I did realize early on that my readers would be polarized. I had a side of beta readers that said things like “I really relate to Kate, I feel like she’s a good friend, I miss her when you’re late sending a chapter” and then another side of betas who said “I hate her, I want to physically hurt her, I hope something bad happens to her.” So I was aware from the beginning that people would be split and that one way or another – they would feel strongly about Kate Champion.                  


I hope Mara didn't take my opinion about Kate personally. Despite my strong opinions about Kate, I do find her story fascinating. I'm itching to find out how she's going to resolve this mess she's in. 

HEIGHTS OF DESIRE by Mara White is one of those books that will take you waaaay out of your comfort zone. It's gritty, raw and passionate it's impossible not to get into the story. 

Find the full review here

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I’m a reader, a writer, and a lover of all things romantic. I’m also a coffee, hot sauce, ink, telenovela and Bikram Yoga enthusiast. I live in New York City with my husband and two children, and I spend a lot of time on the playground.

Stalk Mara










Prologue
                                                                                   Inmate #4582417569
Riker’s Island
George Motchan Detention Center
15-15 Hazen Street
East Elmhurst, NY 11370 

J,
Here is what we’ve been reduced to, my words on this piece of paper.  I’m awful without you.  The softness of my body is gone.  I’m just sharp angles, elbows and knees, joints coming together reluctantly, forcing me to move from place to place.  Behind my eyes are aching canyons where there used to be tears.  I keep scraping around for emotions and I come up empty time and time again. 
The only thing that feels real anymore are my lucid memories of you.  I can feel your touch as you first ran a hesitant fingertip down the cradle of my arm.  A tracing that left a line of phosphorescent light on me that still pulsates dimly when I retrace the same movement with my own fingertip.  I can ground myself in the memory of your full body weight on top of me, every ounce of you desirable, every gram calculable in pleasure.  I hear your breath in my ear measured and careful and it helps me to put one foot in front of the other.
It’s the vast expanse of unrealized potential that kills me the most.   Never knowing what the stolen possibilities are or what they could have been - the moments we never got to have. 
My only salvation is that I’m able to carry you inside of me.  It’s something that cannot be taken away.  You soothe me in moments of uncertainty.  It’s a memory of you but also a distilled essence, a hidden drop that I carry in the palm of my hand and in the center of my heart; a secret that only you and I understand.
I evoke both the warmth and the gentle pressure of your hand against my hip.  I can conjure the feeling of my temple resting lightly against your arm.  The pulse-beat of your heart is there; it’s now the metronome of my time passing.   Time that passes heavily out here and without a doubt passes burdensome and unbearable for you on the inside.  Your love never leaves me, Jaylee.  I’m never without it.  I’m never without you.
K    



Chapter 1

My five year-old daughter is trailing behind making us late.  She’s staring through the fence into the playground where all the rough kids hang out.  The one I call the thug-ground.  I scoop her up with one arm and throw her over my hip.
“Mom!” she screams.
“We’re late!” I say through clenched teeth trying not to attract any attention.
My shirt rides up over my stomach and side but I quickly dismiss the thought of modesty in favor of practicality.
“Nice tat.”
I swear I can feel the comment before I hear it.   I’m sick of these men that ruthlessly objectify every single woman that walks by.  Soon enough it will be my daughters who are subjected to unsolicited catcalls.  It’s enough to make me turn around without giving any consideration whatsoever to what I might say.  There is a group of young men gathered at the entrance to the basketball court.  I now have all of their attention and I search their faces, the blood rising in my mine, to see who said it.  I will know who it is when I see him and I’ll think of a brilliant comeback.
            Then I see him, and just like I thought, I know it’s him immediately.  Our eyes meet and hold.  His are that intriguing yellow-brown and his skin is dark, making his eyes seem even lighter.  He is remarkably beautiful, his body, his eyes, even his energy.  The anger falls away completely and I just stare.  He holds my gaze, unfaltering.
“Mom!” grunts my older daughter, tugging at my sleeve.  “Let’s go.”
“Sure, Sweetie.  Let’s go.”
I take two steps backwards before I turn around and catch my breath.
I manage to get the girls into their leotards and tights making sure that little Ada pees first.  Ballet class means an hour to myself, which I usually spend catching up on emails on my phone.  Today I welcome the chair in the parent’s lounge because I feel shaken and unbalanced.  I send a few emails pretending that everything is perfectly normal and I ignore my rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath.
Oh for fucks sake!  What is wrong with me?  I look at some kid on the playground and I get, what, turned on?  Am I turned on?  Is that what’s going on?  I don’t even remember what that feels like.  Why am I so shaken?  He just caught me off guard, I guess.  Usually takes more than eye contact, for crying out loud.  Some asshole – he’s probably an asshole – kid makes eye contact with me and I’m an incapacitated mess.  I’ve got to call my shrink.  I quit seeing my shrink almost seven years ago.  This confirms it, I need serious help.
Ada and Pearl demand juice and crackers after class and it helps me to recover from the five-second encounter.  I take off their tights and pull the elastics out of their hair.
“Do you guys want to have mac and cheese or should we try putting something on the grill in the yard?”
“Grill!” they yell and Ada starts jumping around.
“Mommy, I want to grill corn,” Ada says
“Okay, baby we’ll get some corn and Carmen can help us get everything ready.”  Carmen is my cook, housekeeper and general everyday superhero.   Without her, I’d never be able to pull off the façade of the stess-free, well-adjusted stay-at-home mom.
I freeze when we get to the door.  Everything stops.  On the other side of the glass, leaning against the signpost on the sidewalk stands the boy with the golden eyes, hands shoved in his pockets, one leg casually crossed over the other.  He appears to be waiting for us.
“Fuck,” I whisper.
My instinct is to run, to find another exit, but I know that this is the only way out of the building and the rational part of me understands that I’m overreacting.  Maybe he has a sister who takes class here.
Then he looks up and a smile breaks across his face when he sees me.  He briskly struts over and pulls open the door.
“Hey,” he says.
“Hi,” I manage, guiding my girls in front of me by the shoulders.
He shoves his hands in his pockets and walks a few steps with us without saying anything.  His eyes are cast down but when he looks up our eyes lock again.  He smiles.  The smile undoes me.  I feel almost sick.  His eyes are intoxicating.  Everything about him spells trouble.  He’s too casual, too confident, too handsome, too charming and way. too. young.   I glance over to the basketball courts and scan for the group of boys he was with but they seem to have since broken apart and moved on.  I’ve got a sinking feeling that someone is playing a trick on me, that I’m about to get jumped or taken advantage of in some way.
“Sorry I was an ass,” he says.
“No.  I didn’t. . . I’ve gotten a lot worse.” 
That was a stupid thing to say.  Now feel like an ass.
“Mommy, can we swing at the park before we grill?” asks Ada.
“Yes, baby.  Let’s go swing.” I say
My kids save me.  They do it all the time without knowing.  Usually I hate this park and I’d say no, but not today.  Today I’ll take any excuse to just get away from this boy.
He walks beside us all the way to the swings.  He doesn’t say anything so I’m desperately searching for something – anything to say.  I’m blank and I keep holding my breath.  I pick up Ada and set her into the swing.  Golden Eyes grabs Pearl under the armpits and plops her on the big kid swing in a way that looks completely natural and once again, makes me go numb.  Pearl is nine, she can get into the swing perfectly well by herself.  She throws me a concerned look.  The mother in me feels like she should be angry but some other part of me, something locked further inside, loves that he took charge and did that – loves that he thinks he can.
“You deserve better.  I’m just saying,” he says out of nowhere, shrugs and trails off, then he begins to walk away.
His walk is affected and cocky, a highly stylized saunter; it’s almost a limp.
“Who was that, Mom?” Pearl asks.
“I don’t know, Pearl.  Some guy,” I say.
“I like him!” Ada yells and it makes me smile.  Ada likes everybody.
When I look up he’s all the way across the playground.  He yells out a nickname and waves at one of the guys on the basketball court then he turns back and looks right at me.  I flush, because I’m embarrassed to be caught watching him but also because his gaze causes an extreme reaction in me.  I’m exhilarated and I don’t want it to stop.  It feels dangerous and exciting.  I register his energy right in my gut.  He holds my gaze for a few more seconds and his face breaks into another smile.  He waves with two fingers – almost a salute – and walks away down the block. 
                                                                  
            We grill that night and Carmen helps the girls to shuck the sweet corn.  It’s the first of the season and it turns out buttery sweet and plump.  After dinner, Ada and Pearl slurp on homemade grape popsicles on their swing set and Carmen brushes down the grill.
            I deserve better?  This is as good as it gets, isn’t it?  I’m. perfectly. happy. thank you.  In fact, tonight with the balmy air and blooming trees, sitting here watching my girls, it really doesn’t get any better than this.  The only glitch is that I can’t stop replaying his every movement, every word, and, most of all, his gaze. 
            “You seem different tonight, Kate.”  Carmen’s comment jerks me out of my reverie and I blush like I’ve done something wrong.
            “What do you mean, Carmen?”  I quickly ask to mask how awkward I feel. 
            “I’m not sure, but definitely different.  Like you’re lit up inside.  Estás prendida.”  Carmen and I regularly switch in and out of Spanish.
            “Maybe it’s the weather.  It’s finally starting to get warm.  You know how I feel about winter,” I answer.
            Carmen shrugs and looks unconvinced, but she’s soon distracted by Ada’s demands for an underdog push.
            Carmen’s comments only confirm to me that I’m lying to myself.  I’m not really angry with that boy.  What I really feel is grateful.  I’m not sure of how he did it or what it means, but I can feel that my life has somehow changed since I looked into his eyes.

            Carmen agrees to put Ada and Pearl to bed, a task which I rarely ask of her.  After kissing them goodnight I grab a grape popsicle from the freezer and head back out into our yard in my bare feet.  I sit on the swing and watch Pearl’s window until the light goes out. 
My husband Robert and I had wanted a yard so badly when we’d fallen in love with the shell of this brownstone almost ten years ago.  We moved much farther north in Manhattan than any of our friends were willing to go.  It was the only way we could afford to buy it with our own money.  That was before Robert made partner at the firm and while we were both still swamped with student loans.  A yard, an upstairs and a downstairs had been so much more important to us than a zip code – we both wanted to raise our children in a house rather than a city apartment.  My parents thought we were nuts and offered to all but buy us a condo on the Upper East Side.  They’ve yet to come visit us still to this day.  It’s only been ten years but it feels like a lifetime ago now. 
Soon after Pearl was born, Robert made partner.  He’d promised that the long hours and late nights would stop, but they didn’t.  They probably never will.  On days when I allow myself to wallow in self-pity I feel like a financially-kept single mother.  It’s a stretch, and pretty unfair because I have Carmen, but it’s lonely.  I’m lonely.  I consider waiting up for Robert but I’m tired.  I wonder where the golden-eyed stranger is and what he’s doing right now.  I break the popsicle stick with my molars and rub my teeth with the splintered edge.
           
            The kid shows up in my dream.  His eyes are an even brighter gold, his lips full, his smile so carefree and confident.  He’s near enough that I can smell him and feel the warmth radiating off of his body.  He doesn’t touch me but I can feel the electricity between us, a kinetic hum in the air.
            Robert slips into bed silently hours later.  I’m half asleep, dreaming and awake, fanaticizing, and yearning.  I want Robert to touch me but I know he won’t so I grab his flaccid penis and give it a light squeeze.  He turns to me and I am on him like wildfire.  I can’t stop myself and my desire feels insatiable.
           
In the morning Robert lays in bed with his hands folded behind his head watching me move around the bedroom.
            “You’re up early,” he says.
            “What?”  I respond, annoyed.  A smile creeps across his face.
            “Who are you and what have you done with my wife?”  He says and his smile widens playfully.  I hop back onto the bed and kiss him long and urgently.
            “Seriously, Kate.  You seem so happy.  Something good happen?”
            “I think I just had one of those first day of the rest of your life things yesterday.  I feel different.  I don’t know, it sounds dumb, but I feel more alive.”  


Wednesday afternoons in the summer, Carmen takes the girls to their art class on the Upper West Side.  Ada decides she wants to wear green tights and empties all of her drawers looking for them while I’m distracted dressing Pearl.  I realize I should make her help me refold and put everything back but I’m dying to call Sarah and tell her about the golden-eyed young man from the playground.  Sarah and I have been best friends since elementary school.  We both went to Spence and later did our undergraduate degrees at Columbia.  She now lives in Santa Barbara with her four boys and her husband Teddy, who’s a professional surfer, of all things.  They also run a local surf shop.  Sarah has never been one to mince words, especially with me.  She’s brutally honest and insightful.  She‘s always the first person I turn to, for any advice or for sharing news.  As soon as Carmen shuts the front door I run to the kitchen, pour myself a huge mug of coffee and reach for the phone.  Sarah answers on the first ring.
“Kate the Great!  What’s going on?  How’s the princess and her princesses?”
Kate thinks I lead a charmed life.  She also thinks I spoil my girls and that my husband spoils me.  I can’t help but smile.
“Hell, Sarah, probably not as good as the sea slut.”  This is my name for her ever since she confessed to me that all of her boys were conceived on public beaches.
“Listen, Kate, it’s almost lunch and I’ve ordered pizzas for the gorillas so I’m gonna have to jet when they come if I want to get a slice, otherwise I might starve.  I promise I won’t hang up on you, but talk fast, you’ve got 30 minutes.”
“I don’t know if I can do it in 30, Sar, this is big.”
“Okay.  I’ll eat the slice on the phone and lock myself in the bathroom.  I have to be a ninja about food or I risk never eating.  First though, really quick, can I tell you that I gained 5 more pounds in less than a month?  Not cute.  Remember the army green bathing suit I wore to swim-camp for both seventh and eighth grade?”
“Umm, yes!”
“Okay. Remember the pictures of us that Aunt Fannie took where I look all fat and pasty and have like a thousand red welts from mosquito bites all over my thighs?”
“Yup.”
“Move those up to my arms.  That’s what my arms look like now.”
“Covered with welts?”
“No, dumbass, white and fat and pasty,” Sarah says.  “Not pretty.  I should have a fucking salad.  That’s why I’m locking myself in the bathroom after one slice.”
“Oh, I thought that was to stay away from the gorillas.”
“That too.  Start talking, Kate.”
I remind myself that I can tell Sarah anything.  That I have shared my worst thoughts with her and she’s never faltered.
“I had a bizarre encounter with a man yesterday that I just can’t get out of my head, Sarah.  I mean it wasn’t even really an encounter and he isn’t really even a man . . . yet.”
“This sounds like I should lock myself in the bathroom now.  Fuck it.  I’m making an Ovaltine for lunch.  Go on.”
I hear her yelling to Josh, her eldest to get the money for the pizza out of her wallet.  At least she had Josh early so he’s old enough to help her out with the younger boys.
“Shoot” she says.
“I was taking the girls to dance class and he was standing on the thug-ground with a group of guys and he made a comment about the tattoo on my hip.  Pretty innocuous, but you know how the guys in this neighborhood are.  I turned around because I thought I was going to tell him off or at least shoot him a look, but when I looked into his eyes I felt . . . it felt like the world stopped and I completely, I mean completely lost myself in his gaze.”
“Shit. What did you do?”
“Nothing, Sarah.  I took the girls to class and spent the whole hour trying to gather myself, trying to recover from the way he looked at me.  It’s hard to explain, but it was kind of like he wanted to do me and kill me at the same time.  His eyes were that golden brown color and I don’t know – it took my breath away.  Then when we went out after class, he was waiting for us.”
“No shit?”
“And the crazy thing is, he didn’t even really say anything.  He walked us to the swings and then he just grabbed Pearl and put her on the swing.”
“That’s weird.”
“I agree.  But the thing is, it seemed totally natural, like we’d done it before or at least like he maybe has kids of his own.  More than that too, like we’d all done it before.  Then he told me that ‘I deserved better’ and he sauntered off.  So incredibly sexy.  And he looked at me again.  Twice.”
“Is that it?”
“Yes and no.  I mean, I fucked Robert like a teenager last night and I couldn’t stop thinking about him, the kid, not even for a second.  I feel sort of crazy because I’m turned on by the whole thing, but I’m also really pissed that he would judge me like that, just by looking at me.  I mean he has absolutely no idea who I am.  He has no idea what my life is like.  See I’m getting pissed now just thinking about it.”
“Oh, Kate, you’re so stupid.”
“Thanks, Sar.”
“No, I mean you completely misunderstood what he meant.”
“What do you mean?  How do you know what he meant?”
“Because it’s totally fucking obvious.  Kate, when you share a look like that, an exchange like that, it’s almost always mutual.  The air doesn’t start crackling between one person and what they wish the other person was feeling.  Know what I mean?”
“No,” I say.
“Simple.  He felt it too.  That’s why he followed you and waited for you to come out.   It’s also why he thought he could hold your daughter, because you’d already exchanged a mutual intimacy, even if it only lasted a second.”
“Then how did I misunderstand the exchange?”
“Simple.  He . . . What’s his name?”
“I have no idea.”
“Okay, golden-eyed man-child from the thug-ground wasn’t referring to you, Princess.”
“I’m still lost, Sarah.”
“Take Joshua.  He’s fifteen now and he drives me fucking nuts because already he can’t escape the realm of himself.  Teenagers, and even young adults only know how to talk about themselves.  Everything they say is me, me, my facebook, my twitter, four thousand photos of myself.  You really don’t start realizing other people exist and have feelings until you’re at least twenty-five these days.  Golden-eyes was talking about himself.”
“I think you’re going to have to spell it out for me,” I say.
“To that cocky, young boy there already existed something between the two of you.  It was a warning, Kate.  ‘You deserve better.’  He meant, ‘You deserve better than me.’”
My blood runs cold and I have to lean over into my lap to keep from passing out.  My breathing is shallow and coming faster than I can manage.  I love my brilliant best friend.  I am reeling from the idea that this affliction could be mutual.  That he might be somewhere right now thinking about me.  I feel an urgent and ridiculous need to find him, to see him again.
“I think I need to go,” I say.
“Oh, no fucking way, Kate.  Don’t you dare!  I know you and you need to squelch this shit, toute suite.  Don’t you even think about fucking with what you have.  Should I remind you?  Beautiful, rich, sweet, lawyer husband who loves you.  Two gorgeous, perfect princess girls who adore you AND their father.  A stunning fucking house – a charmed life.   Don’t even consider pursuing it.  All he is, Kate, is maybe, and just a maybe here, an amazing fuck but, believe me, a lifelong headache.  Probably heartache too.  Walk away from it now.  Walk away while you still can.“