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2017 Top Reads

It’s that time again! the end of the year is my favorite because it gives me a chance to look back on all of the reading I’ve done and the crazy adventures I’ve gotten to go on. Whether it was new authors, new series, or new avenues, this year held some of the most jaw-dropping and heart-wrenching books I’ve ever read! I’ve got some of my favorites and their reviews to share with you but here’s a quick look from my Year in Review on Goodreads.

p.s. GoodReads lovers, you can add me here!

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WIN.jpg What I Need – J. Daniels

There’s something to be said about a southern gentleman who’s not afraid to talk dirty. Daniel’s CJ Tully is the perfect mix of sweet talkin’ man who will do whatever it takes to win his woman. But don’t let the cop uniform fool you….he’s downright dirty. And sweet Riley has to rumble her way around his confident feet.

Check out my full review of Tully’s tequila filled kisses here!

 

tullys tequila kisses


 

The Deep End & The Farthest Edge – Kristen Ashley

You bet your sweet butt that KA is going to be on my list. Her latest dip into the dark erotic world of BDSM went live this year as she released two in the Honey Series. No stranger to strong men who aren’t afraid of what they like, our new heroes have a different tale to tell. With a switch up about alpha-subs and a delectable world of decadence and rules when it comes to sex, KA’s Honey Series either left you shocked or hanging on for more.

Read the full review for Olly and Amelie here and Branch & Evangeline here.

honey club


Salvaged-cover-1.jpg Salvaged – Jay Crownover

Talk about your heroes that need saving. I had been dying for Poppy and Wheeler’s romance as it was a chance for two battered broken hearts to find love. This tear-jerker romance was one hell of a way for Crownover to end her Saints of Denver series with a BANG!

Read my full thoughts here.

wheelers wheels


 

Checkmate: This is Dangerous & This is Beautiful – Kennedy Fox

Magical duo Brooke Cumberland & Lyra Parish revealed themselves as the elusive Kennedy Fox after releasing their final duet in the Checkmate series. And where the two previous duets were enemies and friends to lovers, the final pair was a heartbreaking tale of loss and what may never be. With a cliff ending for book 1 that left readers in shock, the duo closed the series with a one-two punch sure to make your top reads list.

Check out my reaction to Logan & Kayla’s tale here and their finale here.

dogs donuts logan knight


ALJackson-ShowMetheWayBookCover525x8_MEDIUM Show Me the Way – A.L. Jackson

My first A.L. Jackson novel and I AM HOOKED. In her new Fight For Me series, the first novel deals with single dad Rex fighting his attraction to his new neighbor Rynna. When dangers from their pasts their past threaten their lives and the life of his daughter…hold on.

Read my review of this heart-warming, coming home romance here.

rynnas pie


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The Final Fight – J.B. Salsbury

If you’re looking for a tale that will break you apart emotionally then build you back up, then the dramatic final to Salsbury’s Fighting Series is the book for you. It’s somehow two tales in one; our hero Braden falls in love our heroine AJ but after going to war comes home a broken man who has to learn to love again.

Read the full review (with tears) here.

braes tags


IMG_2541 Hooking Up – Helena Hunting

Generally the queen of romcoms filled with slapstick humor, Hunting’s Hooking Up had readers wanting strangle our new heroine’s traitorous husband within minutes. Bit with Anarchy Amie taking charge, our sassy heroine takes charge of her life….with a new beau.

Read my (hero) spoiler-free review here.

anarchyamie


 

Ruthless King, Defiant, Queen & Sinful Empire – Meghan March

New to Meghan March these series completely blew me away with the dirtiest and darkest side of NOLA romance. Mount, the dark king of NOLA, claims our heroine Keira, body and soul, as a debt paid and the whole sordid tale spirals into madness from there. With cliff hangers and twist endings in each story, this trilogy was a journey straight to my favorite reads.

Read my initial reaction to Lachlan Mount here, to Keira standing her ground defiantly here, and the big finale of this sinful duo here.

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Honorable mentions: While I don’t review every book I read in the year, there are a few that still hit my top reads list.

 


Looking ahead…

With the close of 2017 comes the highly anticipated reads for 2018! Here’s some of my big wishes for the next 12 months:

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Dynamic duo Kennedy Fox blew us all away with their Checkmate series and as they come together for another series (technically two with the #BedtimeReads series!) we’ll get 4 novels based on the southern, country brothers of Courtney Bishop. Find out more about book one, Taming Him now.

BFY comingsoon (1)

J. Daniels returns to her Dirty Deeds series and is bring us the heartbreaking tale of Stitch and Shayla. I cannot express how excited I am for this story! I’m all for a heartbroken man who needs some cute little lady to love him and fight for him! (In my mind it’s me, because I am claiming him!). You can check out an exclusive excerpt from Bad For You here.

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For fans of the fantasy romance Fever Series, Moning dives in again with a focus on Dani O’Malley in High Voltage. With her world seemingly in shambles after an all-encompassing battle against the Fae, a new view point and a new hero is sure to have fans begging for more!

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One of my all time favorites, Julie Ann Walker, closes out her beloved Black Knights Inc. series with Built to Last. Mysterious mercenary Angel may finally reveal his secrets as we say goodbye to this MC romance classic!

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Rom-com queen Helena Hunting teased a new book and new cover with Good Luck Charm. Her charming characters make for heartwarming, feel-good romance with no shortage of sexy times and hilarious moments. Find out more about this new standalone here.

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Beloved school teacher Josie may finally find her prince charming in Jaci Burton’s next Hope novel, One Perfect Kiss. Burton’s sweet romances have never failed to leave readers sighing and swooning over her hunky heroes. I for one can’t wait for some more wholesome romance!

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SALVAGED – A Jay Crownover New Release, Excerpt, & Giveaway

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jay Crownover continues her delightfully sexy Saints of Denver series with the next thrilling standalone, SALVAGED! Don’t miss this amazing new novel and grab your copy today!

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Check out my review HERE!

 

Hudson Wheeler is a nice guy. Everyone knows it, including his fiancée who left him with a canceled wedding and a baby on the way. He’s tired of finishing last and is ready to start living in the moment with nights soaked in whiskey, fast cars, and even faster girls. He’s set to start living on the edge, but when he meets Poppy Cruz, her sad eyes in the most gorgeous face he’s ever seen hook him in right away. Wheeler can see Poppy’s pain and all he wants to do is take care of her and make her smile, whatever it takes.

Poppy can’t remember a time when she didn’t see strangers as the enemy. After a lifetime of being hurt from the men who swore to protect her, Poppy’s determined to keep herself safe by keeping everyone else at arm’s length. Wheeler’s sexy grin and rough hands from hours restoring classic cars shouldn’t captivate her, but every time she’s with him, she can’t help being pulled closer to him. Though she’s terrified to trust again, Poppy soon realizes it might hurt even more to shut Wheeler out—and the intense feelings pulsing through her are making it near impossible to resist him.

The only thing Poppy is sure of is that her heart is in need of some serious repair, and the more time she spends with Wheeler, the more she’s convinced he’s the only man with the tools to fix it.

 

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play

iBooks | Amazon UK | Amazon Canada

 

ADD SALVAGED TO YOUR GOODREADS


 

EXCERPT:

I didn’t want her to be scared of anything ever again.

Things at home had been rocky, rougher than class-five rapids in winter, but I was paddling for my life and prepared to ride it out. I couldn’t let go. I wouldn’t let go. I saw Poppy the day she walked through my shop and I started to feel how sore my hands and my heart were from holding on.

Her head was down, focused on the tips of her shoes. Her shoulders were hunched over and her long hair hid her face. She was skinny, so skinny, nothing but skin and bones. She was nothing that I should have noticed, not because she was clearly doing everything in her power to be invisible, but because I was supposed to have my eyes locked on my future and doing whatever I could do to salvage it. But I did notice her and I couldn’t look away once I did.

She was obviously terrified, clearly out of her element and uncomfortable, but it wasn’t her unease that called to me…it was her loneliness. I could feel it filling up the space that separated us. Stretching, growing, expanding until it was all I was breathing in and exhaling back out. It was bitter on my tongue and heavy across my skin because I knew the feeling well. I lived with it pressing me down and pushing me forward every minute of every day. The reason I was so set on the way things had to be, the reason I was singlemindedly set on settling down and building a life with the girl that was slipping through my fingers was because I never again wanted to be as alone as this girl was. I didn’t want to be left and forgotten. I’d barely survived it the first time.

I did my best to sell her a car that was as beautiful as she was…a classic with clean lines and a flawless finish. She picked something practical and boring but that was ultimately safe and reliable. I understood her choice but it grated and annoyed me long after she left the shop. When she wasn’t standing in front of me, she should have been easy to forget; after all, everything in front of me, everything I had been working for and toward, was falling down in front of my eyes. My world was collapsing in on itself and everything I thought I was so goddamn sure about turned out to be nothing more than lies and illusions. In the middle of all of it, I couldn’t forget her sad eyes and shivering, shaking form. Her loneliness clung to me, unshakable and unforgettable. I didn’t think I would see her again and against my better judgment I often found myself wondering how she was doing and if she had gotten a handle on all the things that seemed to be crushing her under their inescapable weight.

I was wrong about seeing her again, just like I was wrong about thinking that doing everything in my life differently from how my mother had lived hers would ensure my happiness and a future built on an unshakeable foundation. I was wrong about hard work and sacrifice being enough. I was wrong about holding on when what I was holding on to desperately wanted me to let go. All I was left with was bleeding palms, rope burns around my heart and scars on my soul.

The next time I saw Poppy Cruz it was my loneliness that was filling up the space, suffocating me, choking me, making me forget to handle her with care. I was nothing more than a vast, open wound. One that was raw, aching, throbbing, and leaking my heart and shattered emotions out everywhere. I felt like I’d lost everything, like my entire life had been nothing but a waste of time, nothing more than building blocks knocked over with the swipe of a careless hand. The girl I loved didn’t love me back, my future was ultimately nothing more than a fuzzy, fractured blur. I couldn’t see anything clearly other than waste and ruin.

But I saw her. And I saw that I scared her.

It was the last thing I wanted to do but my loneliness was just as big and just as consuming as hers was. It spread out, hungry and angry, looking to consume anyone that might try and challenge its reign.

I tried to pull myself together, apologized because I knew our paths would cross again now that she lived next door to my best friend. I didn’t want to be another man that she was terrified of. I locked the loneliness down, wrestled it into submission, and tried to quiet down the wild inside of me that was howling, screaming at the loss of its mate. I wanted to be nothing more than gnashing teeth and tearing claws but I swallowed those instincts and allowed myself to be like a kicked puppy that just wanted to whimper and cry.

Poppy had been through more than I could imagine. She was the one I couldn’t look away from, but even then, she managed to slip past me and disappear. She looked like honey but she moved like a ghost. I memorized everything about her even though she hardly let me see her face.

I wasn’t supposed to be looking at anything other than how to salvage the mess my life was in, but she was all I could see.



Enter for your chance to win one of TWO Signed set of BUILT, CHARGED and RIVETED


About Jay Crownover:

Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men, The Point, and the Saints of Denver series. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she’ll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her dogs.

 

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

SALVAGED – A Jay Crownover Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway

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Ok writing this review is going to be difficult as Salvaged has left me SPEECHLESS! Jay Crownover just gets better and better with every new release, no matter the series.

Poppy is the sweet young sister of Salem form the Marked Men Series, so we’ve long known of her abusive (now dead) ex-husband and the path her father led her down towards that terrible union. What we have seen of Poppy is the quiet, timid, and often skittish side of her and her resilience to slowly come out of the shell her trauma has put her in.

Now Wheeler…I can’t explain it. But something about him, the moment his red-heard popped up on the pages of Built had me swooning. I somehow knew that this hero would be one for the ages. And I couldn’t have been more right.

Most stories with a heroine who “needs saving” have a hero who becomes her strength, her foundation. But not our Wheeler, oh no. He decides to hitch his wagon alongside  Poppy as if to say “I’m not being strong for you, I’m being strong with you.” That’s our boy right there. And that is what makes Poppy and Wheeler’s story so much more than a saving grace.

Honestly the tragedy of Poppy meeting the wreck that is Wheeler could’ve been this mess of trying to figure out one another while trying to come to terms with their own paths. But no…it’s beautifully written. The character s are flawed, but gracefully so. They’ve been through tribulations, but they keep getting back up. For a conclusion the Saints of Denver, this was definitely one the best reads I’ve ever had. I can’t express how heartwarming, seat-clenching, and tear-bringing Poppy and Wheeler’s story is!

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New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jay Crownover continues her delightfully sexy Saints of Denver series with the next thrilling standalone, SALVAGED! Order your copy today!

Hudson Wheeler is a nice guy. Everyone knows it, including his fiancée who left him with a canceled wedding and a baby on the way. He’s tired of finishing last and is ready to start living in the moment with nights soaked in whiskey, fast cars, and even faster girls. He’s set to start living on the edge, but when he meets Poppy Cruz, her sad eyes in the most gorgeous face he’s ever seen hook him in right away. Wheeler can see Poppy’s pain and all he wants to do is take care of her and make her smile, whatever it takes.

Poppy can’t remember a time when she didn’t see strangers as the enemy. After a lifetime of being hurt from the men who swore to protect her, Poppy’s determined to keep herself safe by keeping everyone else at arm’s length. Wheeler’s sexy grin and rough hands from hours restoring classic cars shouldn’t captivate her, but every time she’s with him, she can’t help being pulled closer to him. Though she’s terrified to trust again, Poppy soon realizes it might hurt even more to shut Wheeler out—and the intense feelings pulsing through her are making it near impossible to resist him.

The only thing Poppy is sure of is that her heart is in need of some serious repair, and the more time she spends with Wheeler, the more she’s convinced he’s the only man with the tools to fix it.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google | iBooks | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN

 

ADD SALVAGED TO YOUR GOODREADS

 

EXCERPT

I rounded the corner at the end of my block and came to a halt. The puppy took that as a sign that we were done playing outside and started jumping all over my lower legs and pawing at my shins. He whined at me until I picked him up, and as soon as he could reach my face, his little tongue started darting all over my chin and cheeks. I wondered if he could feel the tension that made my limbs stiff and the anxiety that tightened all my muscles. I felt my breath catch in the back of my throat and there was no stopping my eyes from rapidly blinking to make sure what I was seeing was real and not a figment of my imagination.

He looked like one of those black-and-white art prints that hung in every diner and restaurant I’d ever eaten in. The one that was a throwback to another era when cool was something you had to cultivate and couldn’t buy on Amazon. He was leaning against a black-and-silver car that looked like it should be on the cover of a hot-rod magazine and not parked on a busy and crowded Capitol Hill street. He had on dark jeans and a dark canvas jacket that had the logo of his garage embroidered on the front. His ankles were crossed on the curb in front of him and one booted foot bounced up and down, giving the impression that he’d been waiting for me for a while. His arms were crossed over his chest and his eyes were locked on mine as I stood still, unsure what to do. He had an effortless kind of charisma that radiated off of him. It was equal parts intimidating and irresistible. I was unsure if my feet wanted to rush me toward him or run me as far from him as possible.

The puppy made the decision for me. Seeing another human, and thus another opportunity for pats and rubs, he threw his wiggling little body out of my arms before I could react. He hit the ground with a little yelp and then bolted right for Wheeler. I let out a gasp and took off after him thinking I could catch the end of the leash that was trailing behind him. I didn’t want him to run into the road or veer off into a yard where he didn’t belong. I was light-years away from being able to handle a confrontation with a hostile stranger that didn’t want the puppy in their space.

I didn’t need to worry because Wheeler pushed his long, lean frame off the polished side of the car and reached the scrambling animal within just a few strides. He crouched down as the puppy hurled himself into his arms and scooped the excited bundle up in one fluid motion. Then he was rising back up to his full height, which meant he was towering over me when I made my way over to where he was standing. I was embarrassed at how out of breath I was. I was supposed to be stronger than I was before, but I could hardly handle a little jog up the block or the way my heart raced at the sight of him.

I shook my head and put my hands on my hips as I looked up and into those arctic eyes. He was scratching the puppy under the chin and looking at me from under lashes that had the barest hint of red to them. “Why don’t you have a coat on?”

It wasn’t what I was expecting but his question reminded me that I was cold and that the lightweight hoodie that had the Saints of Denver logo on it wasn’t doing much to keep the bitter chill in the air off my skin. The shirt came from the tattoo shop where both Rowdy and Salem worked and was probably the most exciting garment I had in my closet. It was the only thing I owned that was bright and colorful. I rubbed my arms up and down and fired my own question right back at him. “What are you doing here?”

The puppy barked like he was telling me not to be rude but I was unsettled by Wheeler’s unexpected appearance, and not the typical unsettled that I struggled with because he was a man that I didn’t know. It was the kind of unsettled that made parts of my body I forget could react to an attractive man feel warm and tingly. The kind of unsettled that had me involuntarily leaning closer to him as he started to shift so that he could pull his heavy jacket off one arm without letting go of the dog.

“I wanted to talk to you about the dog. Did you find someone to take him yet?” He shifted the puppy to his now bare arm as I watched the endless amounts of ink that covered his skin move and flex as he shook his other arm free of the coat.

“Uh…not really.” The truth was I hadn’t really put that much effort into finding someone because I didn’t want to let the puppy go. In just a few days I’d grown surprisingly attached even though I knew I wasn’t allowed to keep him in my apartment. I’d already asked since Dixie was allowed to keep Dolly, but the landlord informed they were grandfathered in before the laws surrounding pit bulls in Denver changed. My little guy wasn’t that lucky.

My response made Wheeler chuckle. He stared at me silently as he held out the coat he’d taken off in his free hand.

“Put this on.” I stared at him like he’d suddenly started speaking Russian until he shook the coat again and frowned at me. His voice was serious and left no room for argument when he repeated the command. “Put this on, Poppy.”


 

Jay Crownover continues her Saints of Denver series with SALVAGED, available June 20, 2017

Preorder and fill out the form here: https://a.pgtb.me/MdHvvG

Enter your name, email address, and the order number from your pre-order receipt on the form to receive an advance excerpt of DIGNITY and a Saints of Denver Doodle download to print at home.

Entries must be received by midnight PST on June 19th to be eligible.

The print-at-home Doodle and Dignity excerpt will be emailed the week of June 20th.


Enter for your chance to win one of TWO Signed set of BUILT, CHARGED and RIVETED


Jay Crownover’s SALVAGED – Review & Excerpt Tour Schedule:

June 12th

Aurora B’s Book Blog – Excerpt

Book Angel Booktopia – Review & Excerpt

Ceres Books World – Review

Grownupfangirl – Review & Excerpt

Krista’s Dust Jacket – Review & Excerpt

Panda & Boodle – Excerpt

June 13th

Booknerd1107 – Review

Foxy Blogs – Excerpt

Happily Ever After Book Reviews – Review & Excerpt

Mustreadbooksordie – Review

NallaReads – Review & Excerpt

The Book Disciple – Review & Excerpt

June 14th

Books to Breathe – Review & Excerpt

Prisoners of Print – Review & Excerpt

Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Review & Excerpt

The Book Maven – Review

Two Girls with Books – Review

June 15th

Cocktails and Books – Review & Excerpt

Ficwishes – Review

Night Owl Reader – Review & Excerpt

Read more sleep less – Review

Reading Between the Wines Book Club – Excerpt

Vagabonda Reads – Review & Excerpt

June 16th

A Literary Perusal – Review & Excerpt

Book Sojourner – Review & Excerpt

Literary Gossip – Excerpt

Novel Addiction – Review & Excerpt

Reviews from the Heart – Review & Excerpt

Three chicks and their books – Review & Excerpt

June 17th

Adventures in Writing – Excerpt

BJ’s Book Blog – Review & Excerpt

NotasLiterárias – Review & Excerpt

RentasticReads – Review

Reflections Of A Book Geek – Review & Excerpt

June 18th

I Heart Books – Review & Excerpt

Naughty and nice book blog – Review & Excerpt

Nose Stuck in a Book – Review & Excerpt

Red Hot + Blue Reads – Review & Excerpt

The Escapist Book Blog – Review

Zili in the Sky – Review & Excerpt

June 19th

From the TBR Pile – Review

Books, Coffee & Passion – Excerpt

BookWorm221 – Review & Excerpt

Fictional Rendezvous Book Blog – Excerpt

Smut Book Junkie Reviews – Review & Excerpt

The Readdicts – Review & Excerpt

June 20th

Bookalicious Babes Blog – Review & Excerpt

Crazii Bitches Book Blog – Review & Excerpt

Red Cheeks Reads – Review & Excerpt

Reviews by Tammy and Kim (Rachel and Jay) – Review & Excerpt

TjLovesToRead – Excerpt

Wickedcoolflight – Review & Excerpt

June 21st

Jack of All Trades, Master of None – Review & Excerpt

Movies, Shows, & Books – Excerpt

My Girlfriend’s Couch – Review & Excerpt

Rachel Reads Ravenously – Review & Excerpt

She Hearts Books – Review & Excerpt

Two Book Pushers – Review & Excerpt

June 22nd

A Leisure Moment – Review

Brittany’s Book Blog – Excerpt

Caroline Jane Reads – Excerpt

KeeperShelf – Review

Live Read and Breathe – Review & Excerpt

Musings of the Modern Belle – Review & Excerpt

Queenzany – Review & Excerpt

June 23rd

BFD Book Blog – Review & Excerpt

Dog-Eared Daydreams – Review & Excerpt

Krissy’s Book Nook – Review & Excerpt

Obsessive Book Nerd – Review

The Readdicts – Review & Excerpt

Vera is Reading – Excerpt

June 24th

Blushing babes are up all night – Review

G & T’s Indie Café – Excerpt

Love Drug Book Blog – Review & Excerpt

Renee Entress’s Blog – Review & Excerpt

We stole your book boyfriend – Review & Excerpt

Words of Wisdom from The Scarf Princess – Review & Excerpt


About Jay Crownover:

Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men, The Point, and the Saints of Denver series. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she’ll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her dogs.

 

 

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

SALVAGED – A Jay Crownover Excerpt

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jay Crownover continues her delightfully sexy Saints of Denver series with the next thrilling standalone, SALVAGED! Don’t miss the amazing excerpt below and pre-order your copy today!

 

Hudson Wheeler is a nice guy. Everyone knows it, including his fiancée who left him with a canceled wedding and a baby on the way. He’s tired of finishing last and is ready to start living in the moment with nights soaked in whiskey, fast cars, and even faster girls. He’s set to start living on the edge, but when he meets Poppy Cruz, her sad eyes in the most gorgeous face he’s ever seen hook him in right away. Wheeler can see Poppy’s pain and all he wants to do is take care of her and make her smile, whatever it takes.

Poppy can’t remember a time when she didn’t see strangers as the enemy. After a lifetime of being hurt from the men who swore to protect her, Poppy’s determined to keep herself safe by keeping everyone else at arm’s length. Wheeler’s sexy grin and rough hands from hours restoring classic cars shouldn’t captivate her, but every time she’s with him, she can’t help being pulled closer to him. Though she’s terrified to trust again, Poppy soon realizes it might hurt even more to shut Wheeler out—and the intense feelings pulsing through her are making it near impossible to resist him.

The only thing Poppy is sure of is that her heart is in need of some serious repair, and the more time she spends with Wheeler, the more she’s convinced he’s the only man with the tools to fix it.

 

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google

iBooks | Amazon UK | Amazon Canada

ADD SALVAGED TO YOUR GOODREADS


 

 

EXCERPT:

Poppy

I rounded the corner at the end of my block and came to a halt. The puppy took that as a sign that we were done playing outside and started jumping all over my lower legs and pawing at my shins. He whined at me until I picked him up, and as soon as he could reach my face, his little tongue started darting all over my chin and cheeks. I wondered if he could feel the tension that made my limbs stiff and the anxiety that tightened all my muscles. I felt my breath catch in the back of my throat and there was no stopping my eyes from rapidly blinking to make sure what I was seeing was real and not a figment of my imagination.

He looked like one of those black-and-white art prints that hung in every diner and restaurant I’d ever eaten in. The one that was a throwback to another era when cool was something you had to cultivate and couldn’t buy on Amazon. He was leaning against a black-and-silver car that looked like it should be on the cover of a hot-rod magazine and not parked on a busy and crowded Capitol Hill street. He had on dark jeans and a dark canvas jacket that had the logo of his garage embroidered on the front. His ankles were crossed on the curb in front of him and one booted foot bounced up and down, giving the impression that he’d been waiting for me for a while. His arms were crossed over his chest and his eyes were locked on mine as I stood still, unsure what to do. He had an effortless kind of charisma that radiated off of him. It was equal parts intimidating and irresistible. I was unsure if my feet wanted to rush me toward him or run me as far from him as possible.

The puppy made the decision for me. Seeing another human, and thus another opportunity for pats and rubs, he threw his wiggling little body out of my arms before I could react. He hit the ground with a little yelp and then bolted right for Wheeler. I let out a gasp and took off after him thinking I could catch the end of the leash that was trailing behind him. I didn’t want him to run into the road or veer off into a yard where he didn’t belong. I was light-years away from being able to handle a confrontation with a hostile stranger that didn’t want the puppy in their space.

I didn’t need to worry because Wheeler pushed his long, lean frame off the polished side of the car and reached the scrambling animal within just a few strides. He crouched down as the puppy hurled himself into his arms and scooped the excited bundle up in one fluid motion. Then he was rising back up to his full height, which meant he was towering over me when I made my way over to where he was standing. I was embarrassed at how out of breath I was. I was supposed to be stronger than I was before, but I could hardly handle a little jog up the block or the way my heart raced at the sight of him.

I shook my head and put my hands on my hips as I looked up and into those arctic eyes. He was scratching the puppy under the chin and looking at me from under lashes that had the barest hint of red to them. “Why don’t you have a coat on?”

It wasn’t what I was expecting but his question reminded me that I was cold and that the lightweight hoodie that had the Saints of Denver logo on it wasn’t doing much to keep the bitter chill in the air off my skin. The shirt came from the tattoo shop where both Rowdy and Salem worked and was probably the most exciting garment I had in my closet. It was the only thing I owned that was bright and colorful. I rubbed my arms up and down and fired my own question right back at him. “What are you doing here?”

The puppy barked like he was telling me not to be rude but I was unsettled by Wheeler’s unexpected appearance, and not the typical unsettled that I struggled with because he was a man that I didn’t know. It was the kind of unsettled that made parts of my body I forget could react to an attractive man feel warm and tingly. The kind of unsettled that had me involuntarily leaning closer to him as he started to shift so that he could pull his heavy jacket off one arm without letting go of the dog.

“I wanted to talk to you about the dog. Did you find someone to take him yet?” He shifted the puppy to his now bare arm as I watched the endless amounts of ink that covered his skin move and flex as he shook his other arm free of the coat.

“Uh…not really.” The truth was I hadn’t really put that much effort into finding someone because I didn’t want to let the puppy go. In just a few days I’d grown surprisingly attached even though I knew I wasn’t allowed to keep him in my apartment. I’d already asked since Dixie was allowed to keep Dolly, but the landlord informed they were grandfathered in before the laws surrounding pit bulls in Denver changed. My little guy wasn’t that lucky.

My response made Wheeler chuckle. He stared at me silently as he held out the coat he’d taken off in his free hand.

“Put this on.” I stared at him like he’d suddenly started speaking Russian until he shook the coat again and frowned at me. His voice was serious and left no room for argument when he repeated the command. “Put this on, Poppy.”

 

 

Jay Crownover continues her Saints of Denver series with SALVAGED, available June 20, 2017

Preorder and fill out the form here:
https://a.pgtb.me/MdHvvG

Enter your name, email address, and the order number from your pre-order receipt on the form to receive an advance excerpt of DIGNITY and a Saints of Denver Doodle download to print at home.

Entries must be received by midnight PST on June 19th to be eligible.

The print-at-home Doodle and Dignity excerpt will be emailed the week of June 20th


About Jay Crownover:

Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men, The Point, and the Saints of Denver series. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she’ll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her dogs.

 

 

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

AVENGED – A Jay Crownover Review

 

One novel and four novellas promise to take readers back into New York Times bestselling author Liliana Hart’s MacKenzie Family with hot and steamy stories readers are sure to lose themselves in. Delve into the world you all know and love, and grab your copies today!

 

 

A Letter from Liliana Hart:

Dear Readers,

I’m thrilled to announce the MacKenzie Family World is returning! I asked four of my favorite authors to create their own characters and put them into the world you all know and love. These amazing authors revisited Surrender, Montana, and through their imagination you’ll get to meet new characters, while reuniting with some of your favorites.

These stories are hot, hot, hot and packed with action and adventure—exactly what you’d expect from a MacKenzie story. It was pure pleasure for me to read each and every one of them and see my world through someone else’s eyes. They definitely did the series justice, and I hope you discover four new authors to put on your auto-buy list.

Make sure you check out Spies and Stilettos, a brand new, full-length MacKenzie novel written by me. This will be the final installment of the MacKenzie series, featuring Brady Scott and Elena Nayal. After eighteen books of my own and nine books written by other bestselling authors in the MacKenzie World, it’s going to be difficult to say goodbye to a family I know as well as my own. Thank you for falling in love with the MacKenzies.

So grab a glass of wine, pour a bubble bath, and prepare to Surrender.

Love Always,

Liliana Hart

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**ARC received from the author for an honest review**

Oooh when The Point meets the Saints of Denver things GET GOOD! Ben and Echo have walked on the wrong side of the tracks in their towns for longer than they can remember. But when Echo’s mission to find the man her sister left behind leads her straight into the arms of dangerous Ben… Talk about a bad boy.

I loved Ben’s character and would’ve loved to see even more about him. Crownover is exceptional at writing believable bad characters that you want to fight for. Ben has an odd sense of right and wrong that still works out for him to live a lifestyle that would frighten most. Echo shows up in the most dramatic way! Being alone in the woods with a man who can’t be 100% honest with his past can get dicey. But don’t let the bad boy persona fool you. Ben’s 100% sexy and his reaction to Echo leaves nothing to be desired…or everything technically.

Echo..I wanted SO much more about her. If you haven’t read books 1 from the SoD and Point series you wouldn’t know where she (and Ben) come from but you wouldn’t be lost. There’s still a history told and a story that could be its own book. And that’s something that was lacking really in this novella…I wish it had been a full fledged story on its own. Echo and Ben have an undeniable bond, yes, but they seems to move so quickly in a way that just leaves something out.

Definitely interesting to see two series come together in another world!


Experience the MacKenzie Family Series Here…

 

SPIES & STILETTOS - Liliana Hart

Liliana Hart’s SPIES & STILETTOS (A MacKenzie Family Novel)

New York Times bestselling author Liliana Hart returns to her bestselling MacKenzie family with her trademark of “Passionate Romantic Suspense & Spine-Tingling Mystery” in SPIES & STILETTOS…

Elena Nayal has worked for MacKenzie Security for years. Quiet and unassuming, she stays in the shadows of the world’s most elite clandestine agency. But she’s trained relentlessly after hours, and her only thought is to be strong enough to track down and kill every last one of the men who brutally attacked her.

Lieutenant Brady Scott is no stranger to special ops. He commands the greatest SEAL team in the history of America. But fighting for the woman he loves turns out to be the most difficult mission he’s ever been on. He must decide whether to let her walk into a suicide mission on her own, or ignore every rule he’s sworn to follow.

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NEVER SURRENDER - Kaylea CrossKaylea Cross’s NEVER SURRENDER (A MacKenzie Family Novella)

New York Times bestselling author Kaylea Cross dives into Liliana Hart’s MacKenzie family with NEVER SURRENDER…

As the Bagram crew assembles at a guest ranch in Montana to celebrate the wedding of two of its own, everyone expects a fun week-long vacation enjoying some much-needed downtime together. But in the picturesque foothills bordering the ranch, a hidden danger lurks.

When the guys stumble upon evidence of a domestic terrorist cell during the bachelor party, it puts everyone directly in the crosshairs of a lethal enemy determined to remain unseen, unleashing a wave of danger every bit as deadly as what they faced back overseas. Then a shocking revelation from the past comes to light, and it may be the key to winning the fight. Now they must come together as a team to eliminate the threat, before they wind up gathered for a funeral instead of a wedding.

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AVENGED - Jay CrownoverJay Crownover’s AVENGED (A MacKenzie Family Novella)

New York Times bestselling author Jay Crownover brings heat and heart to Liliana Hart’s MacKenzie family with AVENGED…

Girl meets boy…

On the worst night of her life when she’s decided to take a drastic step that there is no going back from.

Girl is used to sitting by, letting fate deal cruel hand after cruel hand to good people with soft hearts and she’s had enough.

Girl thinks it’s time to fight back against fate and against men who aren’t careful with all the precious things a woman in love has to give him.

Fate shows girl who’s boss and turns her world and plans upside down without breaking a sweat.

Boy meets girl…

On the best night of his life when he’s decided that he’s going to make moves to be the man he was always meant to be instead of the man he was trained and conditioned to be.

Boy is used to a solitary life, quiet in the woods and knowing the only thing that might be looking for him is trouble and trouble is no longer his stock in trade.

Boy thinks it’s time to show trouble who’s boss, even if this trouble has big blue eyes and a body made to make men stupid. Trouble only gets the upper hand if the boy falls prey to its temptation.

Trouble turns the boy’s quiet, serene life sideways without any effort.

Trouble is fun and fate has a wicked sense of humor when it comes to this boy meeting this girl.

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HOT WITNESS - Lynn Raye HarrisLynn Raye Harris’s HOT WITNESS (A MacKenzie Family Novella)

New York Times bestselling author Lynn Raye Harris adds her unique twist to Liliana Hart’s MacKenzie family with HOT WITNESS…

The MacKenzies partner with the Hostile Operations Team to protect a woman who witnessed a crime from a notorious mobster.

 

 

 

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WICKED HOT - Gennita LowGennita Low’s WICKED HOT (A MacKenzie Family Novella)

New York Times bestselling author Gennita Low adds international intrigue and suspense to Liliana Hart’s MacKenzie family with WICKED HOT…

A US operative/businessman had been kidnapped in Indonesia. He has a vital piece of information that would get the US government in trouble. But Indonesia is a country with with over 17000 islands, with plenty of jungles in which to hide.

Off-the book NSA fixer, Kirk Ryan, approaches his cousin, Archer, who works at the MacKenzie Securities for help with tracing a phone call. He also needs a translator familiar with Indonesian. Not a problem. MacKenzie Securities’ troubleshooter, Jade, has plenty of connections. In fact, there is a translator she knows who is in Indonesia right now.

Surya, GEM contract agent, really doesn’t want to do anything but lie on the heated beaches of Indonesia and just enjoy her first holiday in years. But she owes Jade Jax a favor and her friend’s calling it in. And the favor comes in a six-foot-two package of irresistible and wicked male. It’s just a translation job. She would help and maybe get to know the man for a day or two. What could go wrong?

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About the MacKenzie Family Series Authors:

 

Liliana Hart - author photoLiliana Hart:

Liliana Hart is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author in both the mystery and romance genres. After starting her first novel her freshman year of college, she immediately became addicted to writing and knew she’d found what she was meant to do with her life. She has no idea why she majored in music.

Liliana is an avid reader and a believer in all things romance. Her books are filled with witty dialogue, steamy sex, and the all-important happily-ever-afters her romantic soul craves. Since self-publishing in June of 2011, she’s sold more than 1.2 million ebooks all over the world.

Visit Liliana Hart’s website.

 

Kaylea Cross - author photoKaylea Cross:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Kaylea Cross writes edge-of-your-seat military romantic suspense. Her work has won many awards and has been nominated for both the Daphne du Maurier and the National Readers’ Choice Awards. A Registered Massage Therapist by trade, Kaylea is also an avid gardener, artist, Civil War buff, Special Ops aficionado, belly dance enthusiast and former nationally-carded softball pitcher. She lives in Vancouver, BC with her husband and family.

Visit Kaylea Cross’ website.

 

Jay Crownover - author photoJay Crownover:

Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men and Welcome to the Point series. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she’ll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her three dogs.

Visit Jay Crownover’s website.

 

Lynn Harris - Author photoLynn Raye Harris:

Lynn Raye Harris is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the HOSTILE OPERATIONS TEAM SERIES of military romances as well as 20 books for Harlequin Presents. A former finalist for the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award and the National Readers Choice Award, Lynn lives in Alabama with her handsome former-military husband, two crazy cats, and one spoiled American Saddlebred horse. Lynn’s books have been called “exceptional and emotional,” “intense,” and “sizzling.” Lynn’s books have sold over 3 million copies worldwide.

Visit Lynn Raye Harris’ website.

 

Gennita Low - author photoGennita Low:

New York Times bestselling author Gennita Low writes sexy military and techno spy-fi romance. She also co-owns a roof construction business and knows 600 ways to kill with roofing tools as well as yell at her workers in five languages. A three-time Golden Heart finalist, her first book, Into Danger, about a SEAL out-of-water, won the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for Best Romantic Intrigue. Besides her love for SEALs, she works with an Airborne Ranger who taught her all about mental toughness and physical endurance. Gennita lives in Florida with her mutant poms and one chubby squirrel.

Visit Gennita Low’s website.

 

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RIVETED – A Jay Crownover Review

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**ARC received from the author for an honest review**

There are stories that make you cry and there are stories that make you ugly cry. Then there are stories that get deep in your gut, stir up the butterflies and the demons, and have them come out in hiccuping sobs of happiness. THAT is the level of emotion I got down to when I finally got my hands on Riveted and dove in to the story of Church and Dixie. This is not only a literal adventure tale; but a journey in learning, soul-deep, in to what makes Church the man he is.

Dixie is your down home girl with a heart of gold and smile to knock the sun off its axis. I love that Crownover got right down to her truth. She’s seen some nasty in her life but nothing can bring this girl down to doubts and pessimism. She believes in a HEA down to her bones. And seeing Church, knowing what kind of man he is, she knows he’s the right kind of man.

Church…gods where do I begin with Church! This is a man who’s seen and FELT war. I cannot put into words the way my heart breaks for him. He isn’t a good man gone bad, no. He’s a good man who thinks he deserves the bad; and couldn’t be more wrong. I pulled so hard for Dixie to drag him out to the sunshine and let him see how he belongs in the light with her.

I love that Crownover when a bit of anew route this time with the suspense of danger that happens with Church and Dixie on their journey home to the South. I loved trying to figure out who was after them and was completely surprised by who it was! I’m also so proud of her for taken on a touchy subject of race and Church’s life having to deal with the differences he had to go through compared to someone like Dixie. It was nice to see it in a realistic light; that it is a subject that people have to live with.

This was one crazy ride with a girl with knew her worth and a man who found himself worthy of it. Every new tale from Crownover surpasses the last and pushes the bar higher for the next. I’m DYING for my man Wheeler’s story. The glimpse of them in this was NOT ENOUGH. No matter what anyone says I will always love that man. I can’t explain the way he jumps off the page to me! Can’t wait for Salvaged but for now order your copy of Riveted AND HOLD ON TIGHT FOR THE RIDE!

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Riveted - cover
Everyone else in Dixie Carmichael’s life has made falling in love look easy, and now she is ready for her own chance at some of that happily ever after. Which means she’s done pining for the moody, silent former soldier who works with her at the bar that’s become her home away from home. Nope. No more chasing the hot as heck thundercloud of a man and no more waiting for Mr. Right to find her; she’s going hunting for him…even if she knows her heart is stuck on its stupid infatuation with Dash Churchill.

Denver has always been just a pit stop for Church on his way back to rural Mississippi. It was supposed to be simple, uneventful, but nothing could have prepared him for the bubbly, bouncy redhead with doe eyes and endless curves. Now he knows it’s time to get out of Denver, fast. For a man used to living in the shadows, the idea of spending his days in the sun is nothing short of terrifying.

When Dixie and Church find themselves caught up in a homecoming overshadowed with lies and danger, Dixie realizes that while falling in love is easy, loving takes a whole lot more work…especially when Mr. Right thinks he’s all wrong for you.

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ADD RIVETED TO YOUR GOODREADS


 CONNECT WITH JAY

Jay Crownover - headshot

Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men, The Point, and the Saints of Denver series. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she’ll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her three dogs.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

RIVETED – Jay Crownover Exclusive Excerpt

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Marked Men books comes the next installment in the Saints of Denver series.

Riveted - cover

Everyone else in Dixie Carmichael’s life has made falling in love look easy, and now she is ready for her own chance at some of that happily ever after. Which means she’s done pining for the moody, silent former soldier who works with her at the bar that’s become her home away from home. Nope. No more chasing the hot as heck thundercloud of a man and no more waiting for Mr. Right to find her; she’s going hunting for him…even if she knows her heart is stuck on its stupid infatuation with Dash Churchill.

Denver has always been just a pit stop for Church on his way back to rural Mississippi. It was supposed to be simple, uneventful, but nothing could have prepared him for the bubbly, bouncy redhead with doe eyes and endless curves. Now he knows it’s time to get out of Denver, fast. For a man used to living in the shadows, the idea of spending his days in the sun is nothing short of terrifying.

When Dixie and Church find themselves caught up in a homecoming overshadowed with lies and danger, Dixie realizes that while falling in love is easy, loving takes a whole lot more work…especially when Mr. Right thinks he’s all wrong for you.

Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play

ADD RIVETED TO YOUR GOODREADS


Want to read all of Chapter One from RIVETED?

Chapter 1

Dixie

“Um . . . I had a lovely evening.” No, I hadn’t. It was awful. It would go down as the worst first date in the history of first dates, which was something considering my recent run as the awful-first-date queen. But it wasn’t in my nature to say so. All I wanted to do was say good-night and go hide in my bedroom with a glass of wine and my dog for the rest of the evening. 

“Aren’t you going to invite us in for a drink?”

I fought to hold back a cringe and looked over the shoulder of the very cute but painfully shy young man I had accepted the date with after several weeks of online chatting. I’d met him through one of the dating apps I had signed up for when I decided I was done waiting for my perfect to realize that I was perfect for him.

My terrible luck in love had held true and this date, with this cute boy . . . and his mother, the person who had asked about coming in for a drink since my actual date seemed incapable of speech. Yep, it solidified the fact that I was bound to end up alone. That beautiful blinding thing that everyone important in my life that I loved seemed to find with such ease was clearly not in the cards for me. I wanted a fantasy but every day was faced with the fact that all I was getting was cold, hard and very lonely reality.

I sighed and reached up to push some of my wayward, strawberry-colored curls out of my face. I was annoyed that not only had I clearly been cat-fished—there was no way the son was the one running his dating profile, not if he couldn’t string two words together, and not if he couldn’t look at me without blushing and trembling nervously—but by the fact that I had wasted a perfectly cute outfit, killer hair, and a face full of flawless makeup on this sham of a date. I was typically a very low-maintenance kind of girl, so pulling myself together like this took time and effort that I would never have expended if I had known it was all for a woman with crazy eyes and a psychotic interest in finding her grown child a suitable mate. Honestly, I was surprised the woman hadn’t asked for blood and urine samples before the appetizers arrived. She’d grilled me like I was a POW for the entire date and when my answers didn’t meet her expectations I could feel her disappointment wafting from across the table.

Anyone else would have gotten up the instant their date showed up with parental supervision. They would have chalked it up as a loss and deleted the guy off the app. I, unfortunately, wasn’t wired that way. Nope, I was predisposed to believe every situation, no matter how bad, had a silver lining. I thought maybe my date would loosen up and tried to reason that it was actually kind of sweet he was so close to his mom. I figured after dinner and the interrogation I would be vetted enough that maybe he would want to do something without our eagle-eyed chaperone. I thought his shy demeanor made him seem vulnerable and that he was even more adorable in person than he was in his profile picture.

It didn’t get better.

It got worse, and I quickly realized the lining was never going to be silver because it was made out of lead, and I was sinking with it to the bottom of the bad-date ocean. I tried to think of a polite way to get out of the rest of the evening but the woman wouldn’t give me a minute to breathe. She even went as far as to follow me to the bathroom so I couldn’t send out an SOS call to one of my friends for a convenient escape. It was brutal, but I powered through, thinking once they followed me home and saw me to the door in an old-fashioned but still over-the-top gesture that it would be over. I had a boatload of nosy neighbors and a big dog in my apartment, so I didn’t fret too much about him knowing where I lived (the mom was a different story).

I was wrong.


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And read Chapter Two of RIVETED here!

RIVETED - Preorder graphic

Jay Crownover continues her Saints of Denver series with Riveted, available February 14th, 2017

Give yourself a Valentine’s Day gift in advance…Preorder and fill out the form here.

Pre-order Riveted today and on February 14th, you’ll also receive a glossy Saints of Denver poster and an exclusive first-look at Chapters 1 and 2 of Avenged, her forthcoming Mackenzie Family novella.

Avenged combines the grit of Saints of Denver series with the all-out heat of The Point series with a mind-blowing, mystery, yet-to-be-revealed, couple combining both of these worlds. Be one of the first to find out who it is, pre-order Riveted today.

Posters will be mailed the week of February 14th and Avenged chapters will arrive via email.

 


Jay Crownover - headshotAbout Jay Crownover:

Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men, The Point, and the Saints of Denver series. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she’ll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her three dogs.

 

 

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

 

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RIVETED – A Jay Crownover Exclusive Excerpt

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Marked Men books comes the next installment in the Saints of Denver series.

Riveted - cover

Everyone else in Dixie Carmichael’s life has made falling in love look easy, and now she is ready for her own chance at some of that happily ever after. Which means she’s done pining for the moody, silent former soldier who works with her at the bar that’s become her home away from home. Nope. No more chasing the hot as heck thundercloud of a man and no more waiting for Mr. Right to find her; she’s going hunting for him…even if she knows her heart is stuck on its stupid infatuation with Dash Churchill.

Denver has always been just a pit stop for Church on his way back to rural Mississippi. It was supposed to be simple, uneventful, but nothing could have prepared him for the bubbly, bouncy redhead with doe eyes and endless curves. Now he knows it’s time to get out of Denver, fast. For a man used to living in the shadows, the idea of spending his days in the sun is nothing short of terrifying.

When Dixie and Church find themselves caught up in a homecoming overshadowed with lies and danger, Dixie realizes that while falling in love is easy, loving takes a whole lot more work…especially when Mr. Right thinks he’s all wrong for you.

Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google

ADD RIVETED TO YOUR GOODREADS


EXCERPT:

Church

“You’ve been awfully quiet tonight.”

The southern drawl was lighter than mine, more lyrical and smooth. The Blue Hills of Kentucky rolled thick and unmistakable in Asa Cross’s twang as he looked at me steadily from behind the massive oak bar he was currently in the middle of wiping down.

“I talk when I have something to say.” No one would ever accuse me of being the chatty type. When I did choose to speak the Mississippi Delta was deep and locked thickly around all my words. My drawl was much slower than the blond bartender’s and far less practiced. Asa used his inflection and his southern charm to work whoever was sitting on the other side of the bar like they were one of his marks in a long con. He turned up the south in his voice to make hearts flutter and to fool drunks into thinking he was far less sharp than he was. His Kentucky-flavored tone was nothing more than a tool he used to his advantage whenever he needed it, while my unhurried inflection reminded me of a home I hadn’t seen in far too long. That was one of the reasons I never had much to say. Every time I opened my mouth the sound of my voice, like molasses over gravel and deep as the Mississippi River, took me back to a place I had been actively avoiding for over a decade.

I’d spent a little over ten years serving my country in various capacities while enlisted in the army. I’d been around different types of men from a million different walks of life. In all that time I’d never met anyone as hard to unravel as the man standing across from me. He had eyes the exact same color as the aged whiskey on the shelf behind him, and they were picking me apart with a perceptiveness that made me uneasy. I wasn’t used to being so transparent. Whatever shield I had up, whatever ironclad curtains I had pulled around me, Asa Cross saw right through them.

“You are usually quiet, but tonight you didn’t say a single word. You look like you have something on your mind.” His eyebrows lifted and that smirk on his face turned into a grin that I wanted to put my fist in. He wouldn’t be half as pretty as he was with missing teeth and a bloody nose. “Dixie had a date tonight. I figure you were worried about her since she’s been spending time with those internet guys over the last few months, and the bar is never the same on her nights off.”

My back teeth clicked together in aggravation and a low growl escaped my throat. My hands curled into fists at my sides without me being aware they were doing it and I could feel a furious heat climb up the back of my neck.

The idea of Dixie, sweet, sunny Dixie, out there with God only knew what kind of troll she was going to find on the internet made me want to destroy everything. I wanted to break the bar top in half. I wanted to throw chairs through windows. I wanted to smash all the meticulously placed bottles displayed behind Asa into smithereens. I wanted to dropkick the remaining few stragglers nursing their last-call drinks out the door and I wanted to get my hands on whoever had taken Dixie out tonight and throttle him within an inch of his life.

Logically, I knew there were decent, normal individuals using the internet to find love and sex . . . the sex being more likely. There were millions of people online dating and while I thought that was okay for them I refused to think it was an option Dixie should be utilizing. I hated the idea of her dating at all, but there was something about her meeting strangers, meeting men that hadn’t had the opportunity to see her in person before taking her out, that really rubbed me the wrong way.

Dixie Carmichael was the nicest girl I had ever met. She didn’t have a mean bone in her perfectly curvy and petite body. She was always smiling, always laughing, and there wasn’t a moment spent in her company where it didn’t feel like the sun was shining directly on you. She embodied warmth and care. Someone behind a computer monitor would never understand that. They would never feel the way her innate ability to make everything seem like it would be okay made the world seem like it was worth saving. There was a lot of bad shoved at us all on a day-to-day basis but somehow Dixie was a filter for it, and when you were around her it seemed like the only thing you could focus on was the good she let through.

She needed someone that could appreciate that. She needed a man that shined as bright as she did and that would hold her above the shit that was always trying to drag everyone else down. I doubted that guy was on Tinder or Bumble. In fact, I doubted that guy existed at all.

“I don’t keep track of her comings and goings.” I rubbed a hand over my mouth and watched as Asa’s eyebrows shot up and his lips twitched. I was a damn good liar. I lied to myself for years and years about the kind of man I was in order to convince myself that the choices I made were the right ones. But I was currently trying to lie to a man that was a professional liar, so it was no surprise that he saw right through the bullshit I was laying down.

“Ahh . . . I see. You have no interest in the fact she might be out there with a serial killer that wants to turn her pretty hair into a coat for his pet hamster?”

I glowered at him and crossed my arms over my chest. I was a big guy. Years of doing PT and boredom in the desert had led to a strenuous fitness routine I still maintained, partly out of habit and partly because when my muscles burned and I made myself sweat I could shut off all the other stuff that was crowding my head. Some of it nagging, niggling regret from the past, a whole lot of it new nightmares and realizations from my present. I had a couple inches in height on the Kentucky charmer and a whole lot more brute strength. Yet none of that or the glower that I was sure was stamped across my face kept Asa from keeping his stupid, sound advice to himself.

“Dixie is a good girl, she deserves someone who can give her that kind of good back.” I could see the surprise on Asa’s face as I finally gave him something that was wholeheartedly true.

He pushed off the bar and hollered that it was time for the last few customers to finish up. There were some grumbles but everyone left was a regular and as soon as the clock hit one thirty they would move towards the door without any hassle. I liked nights like this, where there were no fights to break up, no crying girls to console, no puke to clean off the floor, no amorous couples to shoo out of the bathrooms. Typically on a night like this I would watch Dixie scamper around shutting the bar down while pretending I wasn’t looking at her. I couldn’t help myself. My eyes were pulled to her and when she laughed or smiled I felt it in my gut like a punch. She did things to me that no woman had ever done to me before.

She made me want to smile and that alone was enough to have my feet itching to hit the road before I did something stupid, like fall in love or take her up on her blatant invitation into her bed. I wanted to fuck her, but I knew if I did it would fuck us both. She was nothing but good and when I got good in my life it always went bad, so I didn’t allow myself, or her, to go there. She shone as bright as the sun every single day but I was a man that knew all too well that too much time in the sun could lead to some serious burns.

I’d spent the last few months biting my tongue until it bled while she dated men that weren’t me and I went to bed alone each night wondering why I didn’t just pick up one of the barflies that hung around making it known they were ripe for the picking.

I’d never been the kind of guy that burned through women. My mother, and subsequently the women that stepped in to raise me after my mom was gone, Elma Mae and Caroline, taught me to understand that women’s hearts were fragile and you had to be careful with them. They tried to teach me how to take care of the good when you had it, how to respect it and earn it. I kept the lessons close because they were some of the only things I had left of the women that shared them with me. I never played with a woman’s body if I didn’t know for sure her heart was kept in a separate box somewhere. I liked my hands on soft tits and full hips, and silky legs wrapped around my back as much as any other guy. What I didn’t like was wiping away tears, explaining myself, and dramatic good-byes when I didn’t stick around after a good time. I was picky about who I went to bed with and I made sure they understood all my hard and fast rules about not committing or sticking around before I ever put my hands on them.

“Denver was just a pit stop.” I rubbed my hand over the top of my buzzed head and looked down at the wooden floor under my boots. “With everything that happened with Brite and Avett a few weeks ago I think it’s about time I put some space between me and the Mile High.” A friend and his daughter had recently run afoul of some really nasty people. My old commanding officer and current boss and I had moved in to help in any way we could, which ended with bullets and blood and some seriously pissed-off drug dealers. Holding a weapon in my hand and kicking in doors was second nature to me. I missed the fire of combat in my blood and the adrenaline coursing through my veins. I was made to fight, not to rest on my laurels. “Well past time I made my way home and tried to mend some fences.”

This was why Asa was such a good bartender. He pulled your story out of you whether you were planning on telling it or not, and he listened like he cared even if my story was told in fewer words than he was used to.

He nodded at me and pushed a rocks glass filled with amber liquor towards me. He typically drank Scotch at the end of the night, but I was a bourbon guy through and through. “I know all about mending fences, brother. Not a day goes by that I don’t have to dig a hole for a new post and string up some new wire.” He took a swig of his own drink and plastered that arrogant smirk back on his face. “Plus you might as well run before that girl you’ve been watching when she isn’t watching you fall in love with someone who ain’t you.”

I was going to hit him. My intent must have been clear because he put his glass down on the bar and lifted his hands up in a gesture of surrender. “My girlfriend is armed and she likes my pretty face the way it is. Keep that in mind, soldier.”

I slammed back the rest of the bourbon and let it burn its way down my throat. “Fuck you, Opie.”

He chuckled at me and turned to cash out the register behind him. “That’s why they say the truth hurts, Church.”

Before I had been Church I’d been Dash. And before I had been Dash I’d been Dashel. It was already hard enough being a kid with less than white skin and with parents in an interracial relationship, but having a name that was as uncommon as mine down in the Deep South was fuel on an already burning fire. I’d hated it growing up and even with shortening it to Dash I’d still struggled with it. But now I’d been Church for a long time, and he was a man that didn’t give any kind of shit what anyone else thought of his name. I’d earned that nickname through service and blood. It wasn’t a name that was given to me. It was one I had taken and made my own. Elma Mae was going to hate it and she was still going to call me Dashel even when I begged her not to but there was a part of me that couldn’t wait to hear the stubborn old woman tell me, I’ll call you by the name your mother picked out for you, son. That’s the name she wanted for you and you should respect it. I should, but there were a lot of things I should have done to make my mom proud that I didn’t do.

The truth Asa was laying down did hurt, because there was no hiding from him that part of the reason I was ready to bolt was because I really couldn’t stomach the idea of watching someone else take Dixie’s heart.

“Didn’t ask you for the truth.” I stuck my head out the front door and watched as the last two bar patrons climbed into their Uber. I locked the front door and shut off most of the lights and made my way back to the bar.

I liked the operation Rome had set up here. I liked the people, both the ones who worked for him and the ones he served, and I liked that the atmosphere was usually festive but pretty mellow. On the nights that heads needed to be cracked and tempers needed to be tamed I enjoyed the exertion and physicality of that as well, but I wasn’t meant to be a bouncer. I had too much training, too much experience, and frankly too many demons that needed an outlet, to babysit drunks and party girls for the long haul. It was time for me to stop drifting.

Asa finished up with the money and shot a glance at his phone. I could tell by the genuine smile that crossed his face and the way his gaze sparked that his gorgeous redheaded girlfriend was the one behind the message. Royal Hastings, the pretty Denver policewoman had recently moved in with the annoying southerner and it wouldn’t surprise me if she ended up with a ring on her finger before the year was out. The cop and the con had something special going on even if I firmly believed it was doomed to fail.

“Most folks don’t ask for the truth but that doesn’t stop me from giving it to them.” He gave me a look that told me if I was any kind of man I would take that truth he was so fond of and do something smart with it. I didn’t bother to tell him good and

 

 

I didn’t really see eye to eye. We made our way to the back door after a quick stop at the office to lock the money up in the safe. Asa scribbled a note to Rome and then quickly checked the security cameras. He typed out a message on his phone and by the time we hit the parking lot at the back of the bar a brand-new Toyota 4Runner was pulling in with a smiling redhead behind the wheel.

Asa clapped a hand on my shoulder and gave me a look that burned with understanding and seriousness. I felt like he was speaking directly into my soul when he told me quietly, “The real truth is, I let something good go, so I know how that feels. Got it back and would move heaven and earth to keep it by my side, so I know exactly what you’re walking away from, soldier. Be smarter than I was and don’t let all that goodness slip through your fingers.” He turned around and walked backwards for a second while flashing me that shit-eating grin of his. “It’s always better to be warm than it is to suffer the cold, Church.”

He moved towards the SUV and I had to look away when he leaned into the driver’s side window to kiss his girl. There was so much intimacy there, so much passion that it made everything I swore I knew about love and togetherness pull against the reins that held it tight.

I gave a halfhearted wave as Royal honked the horn at me and pulled out of the parking lot, then made my way over to my Harley. It was still nice enough weather to ride, another reason I needed to get my ass in gear and head south. In a few weeks it was going to be too cold to have the bike on the road and I wasn’t interested in putting the beauty on a trailer and driving her like some expensive piece of luggage back to Mississippi.

I was swinging my leg over the chrome-and-leather beast when my phone vibrated in my back pocket. It was after two in the morning so I knew anything buzzing through at this time of night couldn’t be good. Considering I’d recently shot Denver’s top drug supplier’s right-hand man and put down another one of his henchmen for good, I was dreading seeing what was waiting for me on the display.

It was almost as bad as I expected it to be. The number was one I’d been ignoring since I landed in Denver months ago. It was a number that belonged to a man that I owed more than some simple conversation or a handful of words. It was a call I would have continued to ignore if it hadn’t come in the middle of the night and on the heels of three other calls throughout the day that I had turned a blind eye to.

It was time to stop running from my past. It was time to man up.

It was time to be a better man, the man the person calling had tried his best to raise me to be.

“Hey, Julian.” I rested the Harley back on the kickstand and ran a hand over my face. I could practically feel the shock wafting across the phone line. He hadn’t expected me to answer and that made me a special kind of asshole.

“Dash.” His voice was even deeper and coarser than mine. People often told me I sounded like Johnny Cash but Julian Churchill really had the Man in Black’s rough growl embedded throughout his tone. “I didn’t think you were going to answer.” I sighed and felt like the wild five-year-old he had tried to wrangle all over again. “Been busy. Took a while to settle in and get used to sleeping without bombs going off overhead.”

He didn’t say anything for a long minute and when he spoke I could tell he was trying really hard to keep the hurt and censure out of his deep voice. “You have a perfectly good bed here and last I heard there weren’t any bombs in Lowry.” Lowry was the small town where I had been born and raised, just outside of Tupelo, Mississippi. There weren’t bombs there but there was a bucket load of memories that blasted me with emotional shrapnel that hurt worse than the kind I’d had surgically removed from my skin.

“I needed time, Jules.”

“Had more than enough time, son. You need to come home.” I bristled just like I always did when he tried to tell me what to do. I thought I’d squashed that urge after we stood side by side and lowered my mom into the ground but there was something about him talking to me like I should know better that always made me feel like an unruly kid.

“Planning on it. Have to tie up a few loose ends around here, and I have to make sure I don’t leave my friend that helped me out in a lurch.” Rome would send me on my way with a pat on the back and a foot in my ass if he knew the real reason I was hiding in Colorado instead of hightailing it home. He was understanding, but the man was all about family first and he wouldn’t abide the way I’d been avoiding mine for the last decade or so. I was a coward and I didn’t want a man I’d been in the trenches with, a man I would die for and knew would die for me, to know just how deeply that weakness ran.

“Dash.” There was a sigh and then Julian cleared his throat, so I knew he was struggling to keep his emotions in check. “Elma Mae had an accident.”

I almost dropped the phone as I bolted up from my lounging position on the bike. “What do you mean she had an accident?” My fingers tightened around the phone to the point that my knuckles hurt and the blood rushing furiously between my ears made hearing his response difficult.

“She was carrying her laundry in off the line and tripped going up the stairs. She fell backwards and busted her hip. A neighbor heard the commotion and ran to help. They had to airlift her to the hospital in Tupelo. She’s also got a dislocated shoulder and a sprained wrist. She’s back in the Lowry hospital now recovering and she should be going home at the end of the week.”

“Jesus.” Elma Mae was chasing down eighty if she was a day. None of us knew her exact age and she refused to tell. She would just smile at us and tell us we kept her young. Those kinds of injuries were serious for someone in their prime. In a woman Elma’s age they were life threatening. “She gonna be all right?”

“Elma is a tough old bird. It’ll take more than a tumble to keep her down. She’s been asking about you.”

Well, if that wasn’t just a fucking red-hot poker right through the guts. It was also a slap across the face with the reality of everything I’d purposely been avoiding and denying for way too long.

“I bought a Harley. Gonna have to ride it home, so I’ll be there in a couple days.” My homecoming was happening sooner than I’d planned, but there was no way I couldn’t be there for the woman that had always been my true north. When nothing else in my life made sense there was Elma Mae. She was the only safe place I had ever known and if she needed me I was going to be there to return the favor. I owed the woman everything and the fact I’d waited so long to see her after years of deployment was a startlingly clear reminder of why I was correct and considerate in staying the hell away from Dixie.

She lived in the light and I was far more comfortable hiding in the dark.

“I’ll let her know. That will make her day.” He paused for a second, which made me brace for whatever was coming next. “She mentioned a girl. Elma told me the reason you weren’t in any hurry to come home from Denver was because of a girl. That true?”

Son of a bitch. The truth might hurt but the lies I told, and they were more gray than white, were going to outright kill me. “There’s a girl.” And there was, but she wasn’t entirely the reason I wasn’t ready to face Julian or anyone else back in Lowry. She had been one of my reasons for sticking around Denver longer than I’d planned. She was an excuse that would buy me time and one that wasn’t entirely untrue.

“Do me a favor and see if you can bring her with you. Elma would love nothing more than to see you happy, to know you’re finally settling down and moving past the things that happened with your mom and with Caroline. You bring your girl home with you and give all of us some peace of mind. Make an old woman happy, Dash. You owe Elma a few years where she doesn’t have to worry about you catching bullets or ending up alone.”

Shit. I rubbed my temples and kicked at the loose gravel under the soles of my boots. “I’ll see what I can do.” That was bullshit. Dixie would drop everything and come with me if I explained the situation. She was too nice and too sweet to tell me no. Elma Mae was going to goddamn love her after she gave her a ration of hell in order to make sure she was the right girl for her boy.

“If the girl cares about you then she’ll figure out a way to be here. If she can’t figure it out, she isn’t worth your time. Come home, son, we miss you.”

I missed home, too, but I could do without the memories and reminders that had kept me away since the day I signed my life away to my country.

It was my turn to sigh. “I’ll see you soon, Jules.” He hung up and I wanted to kick myself because after all these years and all the time and effort he put into raising me I still couldn’t call the man Dad. He deserved the title, after all it was his last name I carried around with me, not that of the man who had knocked my mom up and run. He had earned it much like I had earned my name, but whenever I tried to say it the word got stuck and I fell back on something that seemed less important. It felt like I was fooling God and everyone under the sun about just how important Julian was to me if I refused to call him the only thing he had ever been to me. I was trying to trick fate so Jules didn’t end up the way so many others I loved had.

I was also going home, and I was going to put some sunshine in my pocket and take it with me.


RIVETED - Preorder graphic

Jay Crownover continues her Saints of Denver series with Riveted, available February 14th, 2017

Give yourself a Valentine’s Day gift in advance…Preorder and fill out the form here: https://a.pgtb.me/t0JkQX

Pre-order Riveted today and on February 14th, you’ll also receive a glossy Saints of Denver poster and an exclusive first-look at Chapters 1 and 2 of Avenged, her forthcoming Mackenzie Family novella.

Avenged combines the grit of Saints of Denver series with the all-out heat of The Point series with a mind-blowing, mystery, yet-to-be-revealed, couple combining both of these worlds. Be one of the first to find out who it is, pre-order Riveted today.

Posters will be mailed the week of February 14th and Avenged chapters will arrive via email.


Jay Crownover - headshotAbout Jay Crownover:

Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men, The Point, and the Saints of Denver series. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she’ll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her three dogs.

 

 

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About SALVAGED

Hudson Wheeler is a nice guy. Everyone knows it, including his fiancée who left him with a canceled wedding and a baby on the way. He’s tired of finishing last and is ready to start living in the moment with nights soaked in whiskey, fast cars, and even faster girls. He’s set to start living on the edge, but when he meets Poppy Cruz, her sad eyes in the most gorgeous face he’s ever seen hook him in right away. Wheeler can see Poppy’s pain and all he wants to do is take care of her and make her smile, whatever it takes.

Poppy can’t remember a time when she didn’t see strangers as the enemy. After a lifetime of being hurt from the men who swore to protect her, Poppy’s determined to keep herself safe by keeping everyone else at arm’s length. Wheeler’s sexy grin and rough hands from hours restoring classic cars shouldn’t captivate her, but every time she’s with him, she can’t help being pulled closer to him. Though she’s terrified to trust again, Poppy soon realizes it might hurt even more to shut Wheeler out—and the intense feelings pulsing through her are making it near impossible to resist him.

The only thing Poppy is sure of is that her heart is in need of some serious repair, and the more time she spends with Wheeler, the more she’s convinced he’s the only man with the tools to fix it.

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About Jay Crownover

headshot-3 Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men, Welcome to the Point, and Saints of Denver series. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she’ll settle for writing stories with interesting characters and make the reader feel something.

Website: http://www.jaycrownover.com/
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