Archives for posts with tag: #romance

The book:  Amazon

Note: It’s free to read for Kindle Unlimited members.

 

Cover_BeneathTheFallenCity

I’ll get right to the point. Here’s my review:

This is the kind of book that swoops in and restores my faith in the arts. In a dull, dull world where everyone is just putting their own spin on things that already exist and trying to make a buck, Waters comes in and gives us a whole new world to get lost into.

Beneath the Fallen City has complex characters who will prompt all kinds of emotions; some you’ll love, others you’ll love to hate. Others, you might even go back and forth on as more details emerge or they show their true colors.

I had resorted to re-reading old favorites like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games when I really need an escape, another world to get lost in. With this series, I won’t be needing to revisit past reads for a while.  The reader gets a world that, while foreign, has plenty we can still relate to and dive right into. Nothing needs further explanation; it’s all made to make perfect sense and be comprehensible, without any long-winded or far-fetched explanations.

There’s action and fighting and various types of drama from romantic to vengeful to plain old greed and there’s adventure; all of it has a bit of a paranormal aspect, but nothing inconceivable. There’s some good versus bad or right versus wrong, but not in the same old, done-to-death way we always see. The reader is also treated to a love triangle of sorts, but not the usual, been-done-to-death type. I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll just say it’s well done, really fun and I definitely have my steady favorite to root for.

Every time I stepped away from this book, all I wanted to do was get back to it. Not much holds my attention these days, let along sucks me in this extremely anymore. It’s so refreshing.

Also, if you want a good, strong female lead or role model, Kayla is a total badass. Read it, buy it for your daughters, nieces, etc. as that front is also covered. Carl is a good male role model, while we’re on the topic: a guy with good intentions and a pure heart. I feel like there is something for everyone to relate to in this complex, action-packed, adventure-filled read.

5 stars. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Get it here:  Amazon

BeneathTheFallenCity

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Blurb:
Zane has his sights set on the odd little woman with her funny rules. When their first kiss doesn’t end well, he can’t understand why she won’t give him a second chance. Now he’s seriously determined to make her see they can be explosive together.
Lettie has always believed a kiss will determine how the relationship will go. Her disastrous lip-lock with Zane is a strong indication she’s not moving forward with him. He won’t take no for an answer, though, and does the sweetest things to change her mind, including opening his home to over fifty animals while she cleans up the smoke damage at the local shelter.
Sparks fly as Lettie does her level best to extinguish their attraction to one another.  At the same time, Zane is doing all he can to fan those sparks into flames.
 
Spin the Bottle, Playing with Fire #3, is HERE!!!  Grab your copy now at the following links…
 

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Excerpt:
Lettie had a theory about men. So far, the theory had served her well. All she had to do was kiss Zane, and however he kissed was what sort of boyfriend he would be. She had ignored Thomas’s lackluster kiss. The carelessness of it should have been a warning for her because that’s exactly what sort of boyfriend he’d been.
 
The theory had developed in high school. It was a good theory, but she’d had to test it out and actually date the guys she’d kissed to carry the experiment through. Thomas had been a careless kisser, as well as a careless lover, and had certainly been careless with her financial well-being. She wasn’t even going to think about her emotional stuff during their relationship.
 
Before Thomas had been Cedric. He’d been a sloppy kisser. And a sloppy man. She’d never had sex with him but could only assume he was an equally sloppy lover.
 
Before Cedric was Ian. Ian’s kisses had been prim and proper, his hands never straying far. 
As they’d done in all things.
 
The list didn’t go on forever because it was exhausting, and she was Lettie and hadn’t tested it as extensively as a more outgoing woman would have. Since Thomas, she’d vowed to let the kiss do the telling, so how Zane kissed would be how he would be. And she wouldn’t do the dating thing to figure it out this time. She would save herself the trouble.
 
If she ended up with his damn chewing gum in her mouth, she was done. There was no way.
 
After Zane’s shoot was finished, he went to a meeting in some back room and was gone for most of the day. By the time they were finished, Lettie was packing up the dogs and cats to go put them back for the day.
 
“Sorry. You got the paperwork for Otis?” He jogged back to where she was, making it look effortless. It made her a little sick. If she’d jogged through this building, her face would be red, her hair would be flying out of her bun, and she’d have sweat stains in her pits. As it was, Zane just looked gorgeous.
 
“Yeah.” Lettie dug around in her backpack and came out with a clipboard and an attached pen before looking away. “Fill out the top three pages, and then the bottom two are yours to keep. I’ve got his shot record in my truck. We can get that after I get these guys taken care of.” Which was now. She gathered the remaining dogs’ leashes, having already put the cats and half the puppies in the truck.
 
It was awkward, walking five dogs at once, but she’d almost made it when Zane met her outside. He took three leashes from her, relieving her burden.
 
“Can I ask you out again? I really want to take you to dinner.” The heat from earlier was gone from his face, replaced with an earnestness. It was hard to say no.
 
She sighed. “One thing first.” It was now or never. Raising herself on her tiptoes, she leaned forward, resting one hand with the leashes wrapped around her wrist on his shoulder. His eyes lit up and he lowered his head but stayed still, clearly wanting her to broach the distance.
 
Strike one. He was making her do the work. It was pretty obvious she was coming in for a kiss, so the least he could do was meet her halfway.
 
She gently caressed his lips with hers, his cinnamon gum overwhelming her with spicy sweetness. That sort of undid his strike of making her make this move. Hygiene was super important, and Zane seemed to take care of himself. He certainly tasted good.
 
Lettie went to back up to end the kiss, but Zane’s hand went to the back of her head, holding her in place.
 
Strike one. Again. Since the first strike was erased with the nice breath, this was the first strike. Right?
 
Now she didn’t have control over the kiss anymore. So yeah. Strike one. Definitely.
 
His soft lips molded perfectly to hers as he moved his mouth across hers. That was nice. It might undo the first strike again. He angled her head so he could slant his mouth over hers, and his tongue pressed against her lips.
 
Pushy. Strike two.
 
But her body didn’t seem to agree. Her breasts were doing that tingly thing again, and Lettie realized she was pressing against him. Or were the leashes wrapping around them, pressing them together?
 
He licked the seam of her lips, and Lettie gasped. Taking advantage, Zane swept his tongue in effortlessly. That would be another strike, except Lettie couldn’t think anymore. His cinnamon flavor was spicy and sweet and completely overwhelming. She’d lost count of which strikes had been overridden and which ones stuck, and what were the strikes for anyway?
 
His tongue was doing unspeakable things to her mouth, and Lettie realized she was clutching his hair as if it were a lifeline. They were tangled in leashes as the dogs danced around them, but neither of them seemed to care. His mouth closed around her bottom lip and suckled, nipping it softly with his sharp teeth.
 
This was a nice kiss. Better than nice. Her insides were completely exploding, and she was tempted to wrap her legs around him and grind until she got off. She was surprised. Nobody had ever made her lose it like this.
 
She pressed against him, a gurgle of approval sounding in the back of her throat at the impressive length against her hip. Lettie couldn’t help herself. She squirmed, his answering groan making her skin erupt in gooseflesh.
 
And then, as if they were reenacting the scene from 101 Dalmatians, the dogs tightened the leashes at the same time someone yelled, “This isn’t the goddamn Love Boat, Romeo!”
 
Zane’s head snapped back, and they both lost their balance, crashing to the ground in a tangle of arms, legs, dogs, and leashes. Their heads banged together, and Zane crushed Lettie underneath his massive body.
 
“Jesus! Sorry!”
 
That was three strikes in one move.
~*~*~*
Like that?  Follow me everywhere (or wherever you’d like) for more! And if you haven’t gotten the rest of the series, links are here:
 

Truth or Dare

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Hide and Seek

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Spin the Bottle

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Website/newsletter/blog: www.anneconley.com
Follow on Instagram: anne.conley   https://www.instagram.com/anne.conley/
Anne has written her entire life and has the boxes of angst-filled journals and poetry to prove it. She’s been writing for public consumption for the past several years. She lives in rural East Texas with her husband and children in her own private oasis, where she prides herself in her complete lack of social skills, choosing instead to live with the people inside her head.
Currently, she has five romance series.  Playing with Fire explores the trials and tribulations of a small team of fire fighters in the fictional mountain town of Pamona Gulch. In Pierce Securities, she

gives us Ryan, Evan, Miriam, Zack, Quinten, Jordan, Hollerman, and Simon. Her favorite series, Book B!tches, is all about a group of women in Mystic, Texas who get into all sorts of shenanigans. In Stories of Serendipity, she explores real people living real lives in small town Texas in a contemporary romance setting. In The Four Winds, she chronicles God’s four closest archangels, Uriel, Gabriel, Raphael, and Michael, falling in love and becoming human.

Hide and Seek, from the author of the Pierce Securities, has readers going ga-ga!

“This story makes you believe in love all over again.”~~Goodreads reviewer: Sue

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Joey was optimistic about his relationship with Simone, but she leaves him floundering in a sea of confusion when she suddenly dumps him. His mom is marrying a man younger than him, his station has him fundraising in a Santa suit, and there’s an arsonist loose in town. Then he sees her, the petite goddess who won’t give him the time of day.Vivian has all the reasons in the world to not get involved with Joey, the biggest of which is her four-year-old daughter, Carly. Joey’s made her a lot of promises, but after the issues she had with her ex, she just knows Joey is too good to be true.

These two can’t see what’s right in front of them, but when the fuse is ignited, sometimes you just have to cling to someone and hope you survive. Hiding is not an option. 

Excerpt

Joey was pretty sure he wasn’t the first hungover Santa ever, but even with a slight hangover, playing Santa Claus wasn’t sucking nearly as much as Joey had thought it would. He’d been pissing and moaning for nothing because, as it turned out, he was having fun.

 
None of the kids had peed on him, nobody had punched him in the gut to see if it was real, and they smelled way better than he’d thought they would. Especially the babies. Who knew babies smelled so good?
 
They cried a lot, but they didn’t stink. And who could blame them? He was a weird, jolly, bearded guy; the babies didn’t know he was supposed to bring them toys yet. As far as they knew, their mothers were just plopping them in his lap, standing back to take pictures, and laughing at how cute they were while they were freaking out. He would be mad too.
 
It was sort of sick, actually, but funny too.
 
He was wrestling with one particularly strong infant, making helpless shushing noises, when he got a whiff of the top of its head. Damn. Somebody should bottle that smell. It was certainly lowering his blood pressure. As he breathed in the scent of the baby as he held it against his chest, it quieted down, snuffling and rooting around in his giant, furry coat. The baby found its fingers, stuffing them into its mouth, and looked up at him. Joey thought for a second he had conquered it until its eyes squinted, it opened its mouth, and an ear-splitting wail pierced his ears.
 
He looked at the mom, who was gleefully taking pictures of her wailing baby, and finally said, “What does it want for Christmas?”
 
She wants one of those tummy time pallets.” The mom smiled at him and spoke loud enough for the benefit of the other children in line. “Thanks so much, Santa.” Bless her. She retrieved her daughter from his lap, making room for the next child.
 
“Ho, ho, ho, Meeeeerrry Christmas!” He had a thing going and was playing it up. “What’s your name?”
 
The little girl in question was climbing onto his lap as if she were scaling a very serious mountain. When she was settled, she looked up at him with earnest brown eyes. He couldn’t resist tugging on one of her ponytails, crazy with curls.
 
“Carly,” she said simply. No smiles, no giggling. This was a serious kid, so he pulled a serious face in response.
 
“Have you been good this year?”
 
She nodded solemnly. “I have a question, Santa. Do you make presents for grownups?” Her voice had lowered to a conspiratorial whisper, and Joey leaned his own head closer to her.
 
It was fun, and this wasn’t the first kid to tell him secrets. One little boy had fessed up that he’d been bad but his baby brother had been worse than him this year, so Joey was ready for more secrets like that. He sort of enjoyed the idea of being in on something with the kids. The “us against them” games were more fun than he’d realized.
 
“Sometimes. Has the grownup been naughty or nice?”
 
“Oh, she’s been really nice. But Mommy works so hard and is always so sad and stressed. Can you bring her something to make her better?”
 
“I might have something I can bring her,” he said, feigning thoughtfulness. “Who’s your mommy?”
“Vivian Clarke.”
 
The little girl could have punched Joey in the gut and he wouldn’t have felt it for the air rushing out of him. Could it be the same Vivian he’d wanted to kiss the hell out of yesterday?
 
“Is she here?” He couldn’t resist. He wanted to see her again, and if she were here, that would be perfect. Maybe she wouldn’t recognize him dressed as Santa. Maybe he could do a little kissing under the mistletoe. Okay, his imagination got away with him on that one, but as he followed the tiny finger pointing to a woman standing not too far away, watching intently with an eyebrow raised, he saw she was in fact the very same Vivian, dressed casually in jeans and a sweater.
 
And now so much made sense with her. She didn’t date because she had a kid. Wait, was she married? He hadn’t seen a ring yesterday, which was why he’d done the full-court press thing with her. But if she were married, that was a no-go. Well, with the wealth of information right here, he should take advantage.

Hide and Seek-Out Today!

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Spin the Bottle-Releasing October 9

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Giveaway sponsored by LoveBooks running until September 13th for a $10 Amazon gift card.

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About the author:
Anne has written her entire life and has the boxes of angst-filled journals and poetry to prove it. She’s been writing for public consumption for the past several years. She lives in rural East Texas with her husband and children in her own private oasis, where she prides herself in her complete lack of social skills, choosing instead to live with the people inside her head.
Currently, she has five romance series.  Playing with Fire explores the trials and tribulations of a small team of fire fighters in the fictional mountain town of Pamona Gulch. In Pierce Securities, she gives us Ryan, Evan, Miriam, Zack, Quinten, Jordan, Hollerman, and Simon. Her favorite series, Book B!tches, is all about a group of women in Mystic, Texas who get into all sorts of shenanigans. In Stories of Serendipity, she explores real people living real lives in small town Texas in a contemporary romance setting. In The Four Winds, she chronicles God’s four closest archangels, Uriel, Gabriel, Raphael, and Michael, falling in love and becoming human.
Follow her on the platform of your choosing!
Follow on Instagram: anne.conley

 

 



Welcome to the September FREE For All & Giveaway Event

September 10-14!

Click to download these romance reads.

Thank you for being loyal readers! To show their appreciation, your favorite authors have come together to offer a book for FREE. Download one or all. Maybe you’ll find your next favorite author.

PLUS Enter to win our giveaway!

 

Please note: all sales are limited time offers.

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**Please note: these books may not be free on other Amazon sites and many of these books are free for a limited time only.**

 

Truth or Dare, the first in a new series, Playing with Fire, by Anne Conley!
Cover Art: James Price with AEP Designs
Cover Model: Stanley Fields
Photographer: Jeffrey Todd Photography
Publish Date: August 21st, 2018

When a child’s game goes delightfully wrong, Jude finds himself rethinking his current status quo and begins looking to Annette to make sense of his own life.

Annette is trying not to get distracted by the sexy firefighter, but when her artistic retreat begins in disaster, Jude’s playing the hero she can’t ignore. Suddenly, her artwork is completely changed with Jude’s exquisite lines transforming her landscapes.

Up until now, their life was like a notebook full of doodles, but it’s turning into a full-fledged art showing, and neither of them know how to deal with the embers of desire when they ignite into flames.

 

Excerpt:

Jude let out a hiss of air, probably because the paint was cold, but it made his nipples stand out, a stark relief against the flat disks on his chest. She traced the ridges of his abdomen with strokes of color that stood out against his tanned skin.
 
The bristles of the brush loved Jude’s skin, flattening and molding to it, leaving color in their wake. It was glorious, the way her hand was working the brush.
 
His jeans hung low, and Annette held her breath as she outlined the line that went down the outside of the abdominal ridges, leading into the miraculous “V” that ended with the jutting 
bulge in his jeans. Jude was holding his breath too.
 
Moving back up his body, she painted his collarbone, his neck, his Adam’s apple, then stood back and looked at him, trying to imprint the picture in her mind. Grabbing her sketchbook to ground herself, Annette quickly drew the lines, transposing them from Jude to paper so she could look at them later.
 
And remember.
 
His eyes were dark and intense, like a caged beast was inside him desperate to be let loose. Not finished with her work for the day, she tried to ignore that thought.
 
Vague impressions of Drake and his intentions for her show made her focus enough on her work to make sure she utilized the light while she could.
 
She made a quick sketch of Jude’s torso lines and looked at him again. He hadn’t moved and was still looking at her intently. A shudder of need slammed into her, but she still required something more.
 
Annette looked at him, trying to be dispassionate as she thought about what it was she needed.
 
She needed him to move a little bit so she could get the lines in motion.
 
“Can you hold onto that beam above you?” His golden eyes looked up to the beam in question, a good two feet above his head.
 
“Sure.”
 
Her breath hitched as he jumped straight up in the air and grasped the beam, his muscles popping with the exertion.
 
Those were lines a girl could dream about.
 
“Perfect,” she breathed as she reached for a chair to stand on and continue painting him.
 
The muscle around his armpit was bulging out roundly, so she started there. God, his arms were phenomenal. She loaded up her brush and went to work, tracing the routes of the veins on his forearms as his hands gripped the beam. His biceps were bigger here, more defined from this position, so she re-marked them in a darker shade of the flame color she’d mixed up.
 
His jeans sunk lower on his hips, so she was able to trace this “V” a little further down, gulping at the top of the nest of curls peeking from his jeans. The curve of his ass showed as she went around to the back of him.
 
“How long can you hang there?” She really wanted to get his back. It was amazing, the muscles a brilliant topography of the human body.
 
“As long as you need me to, sweetheart.” He wasn’t breathless at all, so she took his word for it.
 
After a quick sketch of the lines on his front, she went around to the back and started painting it.
 
Annette hadn’t done many portraits and hadn’t had much of an interest in sketching the human body. It was mostly because she went to college in east Texas, and the nude model they’d had for the one lesson had been a woman.
 
She may have to rethink the human anatomy.
TruthorDare_all9
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Finally we get Simon’s story – I am SO excited for this one!

 

Echo is HERE!  Simon’s long-awaited story is available for you to get on your e-reader, now!  Find out why Advanced Readers are saying it’s “Bittersweet,” a “New Favorite,” and “What a book to conclude the series with.”

Blurb:One attack in her home is enough to make Lacie Hill freak out, but a second is enough to make her check out. Lacie was happy with her solitary life—kindergarten teacher, weekly girls’ nights out, and a father she’s close to. When she’s targeted for sick games with unknown players, she forces herself to act normally and hope everything will go away. You know, ostrich impersonation. The police are doing everything they can to help. Nothing left for her to do, right? 

Wrong. 

When Lacie’s father hires Pierce Securities to help her, the only person not working a job would be the boss man, Simon— a control freak who loves his rules. He’s trying to find his sister’s stalker while keeping his micromanaging eyes on all the guys in the office. He has policies in place for reasons. For safety. For professionalism. 

For his heart. 

But will Lacie’s case be an echo of his past? Or will he be able to protect her and love her at the same time, breaking all his hard and fast rules?

After school, Simon called Quinten and grabbed the bottle of Glenlivet he’d rescued from his bottom drawer before taking this job. It was some skewed sense of needing something to resist in his possession. The last two days, it had been in plain sight, untouched, next to Tanya’s picture. Tonight would be a different story. Since he couldn’t resist the woman across the street, he didn’t see why he needed to resist this too.

He was so fucked.

When Quinten arrived, Simon was well on the way to being drunk.

“Hey, what’s got you twisted?”

Waving his glass at the window, Simon muttered, “Her.”

 “Trip down memory lane? Man, you have to know you did what you had to. Anybody could have been put in that situation. She was good.” The table with Tanya’s picture was in front of the window, and Quinten clearly misunderstood, thinking Simon was talking about the photo.

Simon did a double-take when he figured out who Quinten was referring to. “No, not her.” Lacie chose that moment to walk to her mailbox, gauzy skirt flowing in the wind. “Her,” he waved at the picture, “and her, too, prolly.” He finished off his two fingers of scotch and poured two more.

For a grand total of ten fingers in an hour and a half. Too much.

Quinten studied the woman through the glass but remained silent. Finally, he looked at Simon. “What’s the problem?”

“She’s making it all too hard. She won’t talk to me or even look at me. She knows I’m here to protect her, and she’s making my job so hard.” Simon sounded like a petulant child, but the scotch was doing that. He felt raw, and the only person he could be that way around was patiently sitting in front of him, his finger rubbing his jaw.

“Why?”

Simon laid it all out there. “I kissed her. I lost control and kissed her.”

Quinten remained silent while Simon drank. “Are you afraid she’s like Tanya?”

The scotch didn’t burn anymore. It was smooth going down his throat into his belly, sloshing around with other scotch and lunch’s protein shake. He should eat a loaf of bread to soak up the alcohol, but he didn’t want that. He needed to feel all the alcohol and take a one-way train to oblivion.

“No.” Simon leaned his head against the chair back. “Yes.” He sighed, a rough sound in the silent room. “I mean, she’s not like Tanya. I don’t think she’s going to kill me, but when I’m with her, I feel so …”

“Happy?” Quinten grinned as if Simon was talking about Santa Claus.

“No. Edgy, uncomfortable, I don’t know how to describe it, but I don’t like it. And I can’t control it. It’s like I’m out of sync with myself around her, and I don’t know how to fix that.” 
He looked his brother square in the eyes. “I imagine myself having a family with her. What the fuck do I do with that?”

“Is she in danger?”

Simon remembered the man at the bar last night. “Fuck yes. A lot of danger, and I don’t know where it’s coming from. It’s like she has an army out to get her, in a dozen tiny battles. It’s killing me that I don’t know what to protect her from.”

“Is the scotch helping?”

Simon put his head in his hands. “No.”

“Then get your ass in a shower, sober up, and continue your job. She either lets you in or she doesn’t, but these feelings you’ve got for her …”

“What about them?”

“You have two choices. You can follow your own advice and keep it strictly professional, which is safe but won’t really help you man up about your issues with Tanya, or you can explore them and see how they relate.”

“I can’t explore them. I’ll get distracted and Lacie’ll get hurt. You don’t know the danger. Someone’s setting her up with all these guys who have her whereabouts and trying to get her away from me.” Simon knew how he sounded. He heard the words, the disconnect in personalizing the case like this, but he was powerless to stop it. It only reinforced things for him, but he was too drunk to figure out what.

“I think you need to. You asked me over here for something, and that’s what I’m leaving you with.” Quinten stood. “I love you, brother. If you need me, call.”

Haven’t started the series yet?  The first one, Craze is FREE, and the second is only .99.  Grab Echo while it’s still at the release price of 2.99!

Craze
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Wire
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Click
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Grab
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Murmur
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Bond 
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Seek 
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Hitch
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Echo:
 Stalk Anne EVERYWHERE!

Website/newsletter/blog: www.anneconley.com
Instagram: anne.conley   https://www.instagram.com/anne.conley/ 

Anne’s Bio:

Anne has written her entire life and has the boxes of angst-filled journals and poetry to prove it. She’s been writing for public consumption for the past several years. She lives in rural East Texas with her husband and children in her own private oasis, where she prides herself in her complete lack of social skills, choosing instead to live with the people inside her head.
Currently, she has five romance series.  Playing with Fire explores the trials and tribulations of a small team of fire fighters in the fictional mountain town of Pamona Gulch. In Pierce Securities, she gives us Ryan, Evan, Miriam, Zack, Quinten, Jordan, Hollerman, and Simon. Her favorite series, Book B!tches, is all about a group of women in Mystic, Texas who get into all sorts of shenanigans. In Stories of Serendipity, she explores real people living real lives in small town Texas in a contemporary romance setting. In The Four Winds, she chronicles God’s four closest archangels, Uriel, Gabriel, Raphael, and Michael, falling in love and becoming human.

 

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Synopsis

I was captured…That’s just the beginning of my tale. I’ve survived Purgatory, abuse, and near death. In that abandoned farmhouse I nearly lost everything, but Jacob saved me. We were trapped in this hell together, giving each other the strength to hold on. I fell into darkness with my captor’s son.Until I left him behind.She was perfect, my Alana. Brilliant and full of pain. She understood my darkness and fueled the fire. When she left, I waited patiently to find her, and in her honor, I killed men who took away from innocents. Then I found her…She’s deadly now, a killer too, and perfectly mine. It was beautiful to behold, but she belongs in a cage. My cage. She’ll love me again, or I’ll expose her dirty secrets for the world to see while going down in flames with her. In darkness, it’s most definitely till death do us part.


Warning: This book is full of triggers. It’s wicked dark, with created evil falling in love. People die. They are hurt horribly. The bad guys get away, and there is no apology for it. Hardcore trigger within these pages.

 

Add to Goodreads: https://goo.gl/QYRzWm

 

Chapter 1

Taken
Alana

What’s past, is prologue.
-William Shakespeare

I raided the cupboards for something quick and easy to make and grabbed a package of blueberry Pop-Tarts to throw in the toaster. As I waited for them to finish, I figured I’d broach the topic of the father-daughter dance with Dad. Every year, Northside Prep held its annual dance to raise money for the after-school programs. The dance was the talk of the town as the girls ran out to buy their dresses and make appointments for hair and makeup. Me? I got to wait for the dad who never came. This year, I wanted to be the same as the rest of the girls; I wanted him to choose me.
“Hey, Dad, the dance is this weekend. Can you get away from work for a few hours and go with me?”
He looked up from his laptop, eyebrows drawn and a faraway glaze to his eyes. Aaron and I had dubbed this Dad’s “deep thought” expression. Usually, it ended up with one of us in trouble or disappointed, unfortunately.
“What day is it, Lani Girl?” Dad was the only one to call me Lani Girl. I loathed nicknames, especially the horrendous “Al” Aaron kept insisting on calling me. For Dad, I was always his Lani Girl, no matter how much he loved my name Alana Rose.
“Saturday night. The dance starts at eight o’clock,” I replied, hopeful. Always hopeful.
“I’m sure I can get away, sweetheart. Let’s go.”
“Oh, Daddy. Thank you, thank you, thank you.” Running around the counter, I gave my dad the biggest hug I could.
“How about I take you to dinner before the dance too. Just the two of us?”
I squeezed him harder. “I’d love that. I’ve missed you so much.”
“I’ve missed you too. I’m sorry I’ve missed so much lately. Saturday night is all yours. Dinner, the dance, anything you want.”
As he planted a kiss on the top of my head, I thanked him once more before grabbing my Pop-Tarts and heading upstairs to get ready.
I turned my iPod on and danced to Fergie’s “London Bridge” as I made my way to my closet to pick out an outfit. I chewed on the last bite of my Pop-Tart as I sorted through my pants until I landed on a pair of dark-blue American Eagle jeans. I completed the outfit with my tan Ralph Lauren boots I’d received a few weeks earlier for my birthday and a burgundy tank top. Styling my hair in a messy bun, I grabbed my book bag and took one last look around my room to make sure I didn’t forget anything. I had a habit of leaving behind my homework almost every time I left my room.
With one more stop in the kitchen, I threw my arms around my dad and kissed his scruffy cheek as I thanked him again for agreeing to go to the dance. Moving on to my mother, I gave her a kiss on the apple of her cheek. Saying goodbye, I popped my earbuds in my ears and let James Blunt serenade me with “You’re Beautiful” as I headed into the direction of Northside Prep. I had to pick up the pace so I wouldn’t miss the first bell. Lost in my own world, I jumped when a heavy hand came down on my shoulder. I turned around to see who it was, thinking it could be Ryan. Instead, a tall man stood in front of me. My five-foot figure was small next to his; he had to be over six feet tall. With wire-framed glasses and dress pants, the man looked harmless enough despite his basketball-player height. He reminded me a lot of our eccentric neighbor, Mr. Edwards. His dark hair blotted out the sun, and his nose, crooked as if had been broken before, caught my attention between steel eyes. He could be hot, but something about him was wrong. Buzzing nerves crept down my arms. Get away from him, Alana. Run.
“Do you have the time?” His gruff voice shocked me to the core. The roughness to it was almost biting.
I offered him the time and backed away. Adrenaline raced through my blood and kicked my heart into a gallop as a cold chill raced down my spine. Continuing my walk to school, I refused to turn and look back, even though I knew his eyes were boring into me. Within a few steps, his hand landed heavily once more on my shoulder, but before I could scream, his other hand came around and covered my face. As the world blurred, I noticed the rag in his hand. The slightly sweet smell filled my nostrils and I swayed, only to be caught before I fell. I was weightless, floating in the air, and then I crashed to the ground and darkness claimed me.

***

“Wakey, wakey, little girl.”
Hot breath hit my face with the whispered words. Disoriented and sick to my stomach, I couldn’t wake up fast enough or bring the world into focus. The loss of my bearings made my stomach pitch.
Where am I?
“Wake up. Wake the fuck up. Open your goddamn eyes!”
I shook my head, attempting to clear the fog, as a smack blazed across my face. A cold trickle of fear rushed up my spine. I recognized the voice. The man in glasses who’d stopped me on my way to school. Afraid to open my eyes, I turned my head away from his voice, but surprise filtered through me with a sharp pain spreading over my cheek as his meaty fist connected again. One tear escaped as I bit my lip and opened my eyes before another hit could come my way. He held my arms viciously, digging his fingers into my biceps, and my breasts were smashed into his chest. I could barely touch the floor on my tip-toes.
“Ah, there she is. Hello, sweet girl.”
His voice was beyond creepy. Refusing to respond or look him in the eye, tears choked me, and my cheek burned from his strike.
“Aren’t you a stubborn little one? But oh, so precious. Look at you, sweet cheeks. You’re sure going to be fun to break in. Those stunning looks of yours must’ve driven the boys crazy, but don’t worry, you’ll never have to worry about them again. You’re mine. All mine.”
Terror shook me to my core, and I whimpered. My heart throbbed, pounding so loudly I knew he must have heard it. Mouth dry, and tongue thick in my mouth, I stared at him. This man was a monster, and Lord knew what he planned to do with me. Against my best judgment, I couldn’t stop the words from pouring out of my mouth.
“I want to go home. Please, please, please let me go home. I won’t tell. I promise I won’t tell. Let me go. Please.” My voice cracked over the last word. I wanted my mom back. My dad. Even my brother. Anyone. I didn’t want to be here.
“Isn’t it the cutest thing? You think you have power here. Well, you don’t. You’re nothing but a slave.”
There was recently an abduction case on the news. The newscaster shared tips from law enforcement on how to deal with being taken. Didn’t the police say to make yourself real to your captor? To get them to feel something? Humanize yourself.
“My name is Alana Masters. I’m only seventeen. I’ve done nothing wrong. I’m a normal teenage girl. Please don’t hurt me. Please. Please.”
A change came over him; those must have been the wrong words. Where he looked like a normal man before, his eyes darkened with evil and his face filled with rage.
“Of course you’ve done something wrong, little girl. You’re like the rest of those bitches. Flaunting your ass in front of me. Teasing me but never giving me the time of day. You’re a manipulative little whore. You begged for this. You begged me to take you and make you mine, you fucking bitch. Don’t worry, whore, you’ll learn your place before I’m done with you. I’m going to fuck you up and make you scream. Make you regret turning up your little prim and proper nose at me, cunt.”
His eyes glazed over, lost in his own world. He no longer looked at me. His gaze went through me, and I wondered who he was thinking of. Who did he remember? Frightened more than ever, I wanted to go home. But somehow, I knew the nightmare had only begun. Grabbing my face, the monster brought my face to his. Looking me right in the eyes, he spoke, and every word cut me to the bone.
“You are mine. Your body. Your pussy. All mine. I am going to train you, mold you, and break you. And if you ever, ever dream of escaping me, remember this: You are Alana Masters. Your parents are Alan and Barbara Masters. You live at 3412 West Monroe Street, and you have a younger brother. If you step one foot out of line, little girl, I will kill them all. Their blood will be on your hands.”
When he pushed me away, I landed on the harsh, cold cement. I was in a large cage, maybe about six-by-six, with a mattress full of stains— the smell of urine wafting from it—lying on the floor in one corner and a bucket in another. A loud clang made me spin. He locked me in here. Sweat trickled down my back, and my clammy hands wouldn’t allow me to be fooled into believing this wasn’t real. I had been taken. I’m going to die here. How’d this happen to me? What had I done wrong? I wanted out now. Back with my family, my dad, my mom. But the grit on the ground and the soiled mattress were all I could see through the watery film in my eyes.
“From now on, you will call me Master.” He turned and headed up the darkened staircase, leaving me behind as the tears flowed freely down my face.
“Don’t worry, you’ll eventually have cried so much you won’t be able to cry anymore,” a voice said from the darkness.
“Who’s there?”
“My name is Celia. And I’m you, months from now. Welcome to Purgatory.”

 

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About the Author

Writing professionally since 2008, LeTeisha Newton’s love of romance novels began long before it should have. After spending years sneaking reads from her grandmother’s stash, she finally decided to pen her own tales. As many will do during their youth, she bounced from fantasy, urban literature, mainstream, interracial, paranormal, heterosexual, and LGBT works until she finally rested in contemporary romance.
LeTeisha is all about deep angst and angry heroes who take a bit more loving to smooth their rough edges. Love comes in many sizes, shapes, and colors, as well as with—or without—absolute beauty and fairy tale sweetness. She writes the darker tales because life is hard … but love is harder.

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