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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.

 

 

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