Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Virtual Tour - MEANT TO BE (Southern Heat, #2) by Jenna Harte

Meant to Be
Southern Heat, #2
By: Jenna Harte
Releasing September 27th 2016 
Penner Publishing

From The Book Junkie Reads . . . Meant to Be (Southern Heat, #2) . . .
Is there a way to be simple and complicated at the same time? Yes. I found that generally going into this read that things would straight forward and simple but there was so much more to be discovered the further in that you got. The characters were rich, endearing, and complicated to various degrees. I found backing for both characters and what each had to go through to move past the past. Sometimes things are just truly meant to be but just not at that time.

Remember as you read that simple can be complicated.  The complications were not totally on the characters themselves. There were outside influences wreaking havoc as often as possible. There are emotional moments, heated moments, and suspenseful moments. The reunion between Mitch and Sydney was filled with misunderstanding and resentment. There was so much of it that when things looked as if they may get back to a hit normalcy it all crashed again.

The ups and down along with the ins and outs made the a fabulous read. I would pick it up again and again. I loved it. Mitch was not that insta-hero that you fell in love with upon first meeting him. Sydney had the steel rod for a spine and she had all the strength to back it up. She had her female moments when damn it we have the right to be a little scared and confused.

Jenna Harte created herself a meaningful addition to her series. It will be much loved.


Southern Heat series:
Drawn to Her – Southern Heat, #1
Meant to Be – Southern Heat, #2
Wed to You – Southern Heat, #3

Blurb
Charming and sexy, detective Mitch McKenna lets women into his bed—not into his heart. When his first love left him in a lurch, crushing his soul, Mitch swore off relationships and love. After all, any woman who chooses what her parents want over what she wants is not worth fighting for.
Or is she?

Successful New York doctor, Sydney Preston left the only man she ever loved to follow the path that her parents paved for her. When a tragic incident at the hospital threatens her life, Sydney moves to Virginia to rekindle the spark with her ex-fiancé.

But Mitch isn’t interested in reigniting the flame that fizzled out long ago. Will they both allow resentments and misunderstanding spoil their chance of discovering what was meant to be?
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The warning grew more intense until Mitch couldn’t help but turn around and stare right into the beautiful hazel eyes of Sydney Preston.
His heart stuttered in his chest as a wave of conflicting emotions; anger, love, bitterness, joy crashed through him. His first instinct was to leave, which only pissed him off. He’d stared down insurgents in the Middle East. He could survive seeing Sydney Preston. Another, equally strong, part of him wanted to touch her, to hold her close and see if she felt as soft, smelled just as sweet as he remembered. But he wouldn’t succumb to her charm again. Like a steel gate, everything inside Mitch closed.
“Doctor Preston is our new OB/GYN from New York. She’s helping out at the free clinic, too. Doctor Preston, this is my husband, Kevin, and our friend Mitch McKenna. They’re Charlotte Tavern’s finest police detectives. But watch out for Mitch, he’s a real ladies’ man.”
The hazel eyes that had once captivated him flashed with surprise and maybe panic. But then it was gone, replaced by a blank smile.
“Hi.” He choked out the word, not wanting to appear rude. At the same time, he wasn’t going to go out of his way for a chummy reunion. She didn’t deserve his recognition, so he wasn’t going to give it.
Her head tilted to the side, and a slight smirk crossed her lips. “Actually, we’ve met.”
“Really?” Jenny’s voice suggested intrigue and delight at the prospect. “Where?”
“We went to college together.” Sydney held his gaze. If she wouldn’t flinch, neither would he.
“Oh, wow. Hey, maybe you know his old girlfriend. Poor Mitch lost his heart to her, and she crushed it like a bug.”
“Honey.” Kevin patted Jenny on the back, while casting Mitch an apologetic smile.
Mitch didn’t know if Kevin was intervening because he knew no man liked to have his emotional history laid out in public or if he recognized there was something more between Sydney and him. Probably both. Kevin was observant and insightful, which is what made him a skilled detective, one that Mitch was grateful to have as a partner.
“What?” Jenny blinked up at her husband.
“Yes, I knew her.” Sydney’s tone was matter-of-fact. Mitch’s eyes narrowed with scrutiny as he waited to see if she was going to admit to being the one who squashed his heart.
Jenny turned her attention back to Sydney. “Was she a real bitch? I heard she came from a rich family that didn’t like Mitch. But what’s not to like, right? I mean, he’s as yummy as cherry pie.”
“I thought that was me.” Kevin pouted.
“You’re peach pie, my favorite.” She smiled coyly at Kevin, who gave her wink. Mitch imagined there was a story there but blocked his brain from filling in the details of what it might be.
“Speaking of peach pie, why don’t we go to the cafeteria and get some,” Jenny suggested. “We can let Mitch and Doctor Preston get to know each other.”
“I don’t need to get to know Doctor Preston. I’m sure I’m not her type.” He knew the minute it was out of his mouth that Jenny would reprimand him.
“Why, Mitchell McKenna, your mother would light you up if she knew you were being so rude. I’m so sorry Doctor Preston—”
“It’s okay.” Sydney waved the comment away, much like she’d waved him away ten years earlier. “I have to check on Mrs. Warner anyway. You go enjoy your pie.”
She said it with such smoothness, it highlighted Mitch’s bad manners. But he didn’t care. Let Jenny and Kevin think he was a heel. He knew the truth and Doctor Preston knew the truth. She didn’t deserve his time or attention. Not anymore.
***
Sydney walked, back straight and chin up, until she turned the corner. Then she sagged against the wall, hoping her legs would still hold her upright. Her hand shook as lifted it to cover her thundering heart. Over the last ten years, she’d imagined what seeing him again would be like. But what actually happened had never been in any of the scenarios she’d considered. Not that she’d thought he’d take her in his arms, confess his undying love, and kiss her senseless as he used to do, although, admittedly, she’d always hoped that would be his response.
          He was still ridiculously handsome with his bronze wavy hair and emerald eyes. But gone were the affable smile and charm, replaced by eyes that were as hard and cold as his welcome.
She hadn’t considered that he’d pretend to not know her. It showed just how deeply she’d hurt him. Even so, she wasn’t going to let him get away with it. She was in Charlotte Tavern for one reason only: to fix things with Mitch McKenna. Sure, they still might not have the future they’d once planned, but at least she would address the regret and hopefully make amends. Life, she’d recently learned, was too short to not live it to the fullest without guilt and unresolved issues.
“Are you okay, Doctor Preston?”
Sydney looked at the nurse approaching her.
“Yes, Meg. Just a little tired.”
“I have Mrs. Warner’s meds. I was just taking them to her.”
“Actually, I’m on my way to see her.” Sydney pushed off from against the wall, grateful for the distraction.
“She has such a cute baby.” Meg walked alongside Sydney. “Not all babies are cute.”
Sydney agreed, although she was surprised to hear Meg say it out loud. “No. But they’re all a gift.” A gift Sydney knew she’d never have.
Buy Links:
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Author Info

Jenna Harte is a die-hard romantic writing about characters who are passionate about and committed to each other, and frequently getting into trouble. She is the author of the Valentine Mysteries, the first of which, “Deadly Valentine,” reached the quarter-finals in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award in 2013. She is also the author of the contemporary romance series, Southern Heat, with includes Drawn to Her, and upcoming September 2016 release of Meant to Be. She has a bundle of stories filled with romance, mystery and even time travel rattling around in her head and is eager for the day when a device is invented allowing her to download what’s in her brain onto her computer. When she’s not telling stories, she works by day as a freelance writer, author, blogger and online entrepreneur. She lives in central Virginia with her husband, two college-bound children and a two fat cats.
Author Links:  Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads
Q&A with Jenna
What is the hardest part of your writing process?
My biggest challenge is that my first drafts are pretty weak and I worry I won’t be able to fix them. Especially in romances, the snap and crackle required between characters is usually nonexistent in my first draft. I’m also weak on descriptions (setting and facial). So during revision, I spend a lot of time going through my thesauruses to find the right words to express what I see in my head.
How do you develop your characters? Are any of them like you or people you know?
Like my weak scenes and descriptions in early drafts, my characters are often flat when I first start writing. They deepen during the writing process. That means, they’re not really based on anyone in particular. However, Tess Valentine in the Valentine mysteries likes old R&B music and chocolate, as do I. And she’s not very tall. Neither are two of the characters in the Southern Heat series. I’m not very tall either. Technically, I’m short.

You are both traditionally and self-published. How did you decide what route to take for your books?
For the most part, the decision to self-publish the Valentine Mysteries came from an inability to get an agent to take a chance on the concept. Several liked the first book, but pushed me to sell it as a stand-alone romance. I always knew I wanted to do a mystery series featuring a romantic couple. I knew I couldn’t be alone in that, but agents and publishers are sensitive to book stores, and no one felt it fit well into the mystery-lane, and romances don’t usually continue with the same couple. I’ve started to see some change in this, but at this point, with five books and a novella, and a sixth book in the conception stage, it will remain self-published.
For Southern Heat, a series of interesting events happened. The first was that I had this old romance sitting on my hard drive (it was so old it mentions dial-up Internet). I thought would be a fit for a Harlequin line, but at the time they only took snail-mailed manuscripts, so it sat. But then a few years ago, I noticed an online pitch contest with Harlequin Blaze and thought, what the heck, and entered. I won one of the five spots, which lead to a request for the first three chapters. The problem was, the book was far from done, so I spent the next few weeks getting it finished and revised. Harlequin then asked for the full manuscript, and then it sat for nearly two years. I finally got an agent, who was able to get a response (no), but she helped me beef up the story and sold it a few months later, as a series.
Both traditional and self-publishing have their positives and negatives. What many new authors don’t get is that it doesn’t matter what route you use, marketing is the key success in writing.

The Southern Heat series is a departure from your mysteries. What made you decide to write them?
The first book, Drawn to Her, I wrote so long ago, I’m not sure where the idea came from. When the Harlequin pitch contest came about, I decided to try and sell it. To be honest, I’m not much a contemporary romance reader. I usually prefer romantic mystery or suspense. So this series is quite an anomaly for me. When it became a three book deal, I already had ideas for the other two stories, one of which has a bit of suspense. Moving forward, my ideas are for the Valentines, a traditional cozy, and possibly a paranormal.

What authors or books do you enjoy reading?
I’m a huge J.D. Robb fan (married couple solving mysteries). I also like Sandra Brown and Linda Howard...mostly their older stuff, but I haven’t had a lot of time for pleasure reading, which is why I’m not caught up on new books. I like to listen to audio books when I run, and Linda Howard is good for that. Bella Andre’s Billionaire stories have been good in audiobook too.


What is next for your writing?
I just sent final copy edits back on Meant to Be, book two in the Southern Heat series and I hope to have book three, Wed to You, finished in the next couple of weeks (it’s due July 1). I’ve promised Valentine fans a new book this fall, so I’ll be working on the sixth full-length Valentine mystery. After that, I have a traditional cozy mystery I’ve already started that I plan to complete, and hope my agent will like enough to sell.
Author Links:  Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads
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Book Blitz - Hunter (Broken Bad Boys, #1) by Skylar Heart

Hunter
Broken Bad Boys, #1
by Skylar Heart
Publication date: September 22nd 2016
Genres: New Adult, Romance

BLURB 
LIZZY
I should have known he was trouble when I watched him drive his motorbike onto campus, leaving a trail of people whispering as he made his way into the Art Building.

Word around here is, he doesn’t date. So why do his eyes keep roving over me? Why does he want to talk to me?

Rumor has it, Hunter’s good at two things: making art, and getting into fights. I love art, but I can’t stand violence. I’ve been on the receiving end of it too many times.

My life is simple, it needs to be if I want to graduate and keep my eating disorder at bay… I sleep, I eat, I go to class and I definitely Do. Not. Date.
So why do I want him to hold me in his strong arms and cradle me to his broad chest?

HUNTER
She’s like a spooked little mouse. Not my type at all. Until she looked up at me and I was caught in her azure eyes.

But I won’t let her get close. In the last four years, I’ve lost everyone I’ve ever loved. I will never trust anyone ever again. The second I do, I’ll find myself alone again. So, what’s the use?

So I create big metal installations, I go to class when I feel like it, I drink and get into fights at the bar.

I have to stay away from Lizzy, because my darkness will only make hers worse. I know I have to, but that isn’t what my heart wants. When I see the pain in her eyes, I can’t resist her. I want to help her, touch her…
Own her.
Buy Link: Amazon

Just a couple of feet away there is a man on a horse, like a prince out of a fairytale, only the horse is a dull brown and the man doesn’t look very prince-like. He looks like he might be in pain as he moves slowly. His broad back bulges under a tight T-shirt and his legs look like steel in the leather pants.
He hasn’t realized I’m here yet, and I don’t really feel like talking to people today, so I retreat back into the clearing.
A stick snaps under my heel and both horse and rider turn to me abruptly. It takes me not even a second before I recognize the rider. Hunter. He may not be Prince Charming, but he definitely is a Prince of Darkness. There are bruises on his face and I now also see them on his arms. He looks… broken. I freeze in my spot, not daring to move, too scared to set him off. If he looks like that, I don’t want to end up on the other side of his fists.
Hunter slowly gets off his horse, letting out a hiss as he lowers himself to the ground. Only when he is standing right in front of me does he say something. “Lizzy.” His voice is rough, quiet, then he reaches up, almost touching me.
That finally breaks me out of my trance and I step back, shaking my head.
A smile tugs at his lips, but then he looks me over and I see the clouds gather in his stormy eyes. Fuck. “What are you doing here?” he asks.
What? Out of everything, that is what he wants to know? “It’s the weekend, there is a lovely sun out. What else am I supposed to be doing?”
The question seems to surprise him. He shrugs and lets out a sigh. “No clue.”
We both fall quiet. I can’t help but stare at the bruises. They look so dark, and so painful.
Hunter reaches out, takes my hand, and puts it on his jaw. I want to pull back, but he holds it there. “I’m not scary, or dangerous.” His low voice is pitched even lower and something stirs inside me.
He is though—he is scary, and apparently quite dangerous to someone, if the bruises are anything to go by. But I know that isn’t what he means. He means that he is no danger to me. And I don’t know how I feel about that… “And yet you are.” I quickly close my mouth and look away. He finally lets go of my hand as he lets out a laugh.
“I just make stupid choices sometimes, usually when I’ve had a bit to drink.” He steps back and reaches out to the horse, who pushes against him slightly.
Buy Link: Amazon
Author Info
Skylar Heart loves sexy romances and has a particular soft spot for broken boys and their damaged girls. When she’s not reading or writing steamy stories, she loves to nap with her two cats, preferably under a fluffy blanket, and play videogames. She has studied literature and creative writing but often finds that the couple of classes she took on coding is much more of a help in this new adventure as an author.

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http://bit.ly/SkylarHNewsletter
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Cover Reveal - The Fireproof Girl by Loretta Lost

The Fireproof Girl
by Loretta Lost
Publication date: September 29th 2016
Genres: Mystery, New Adult, Romance


BLURB
Abandoned at birth, Sophie Shields grew up in abusive foster homes, escaping into books and computers for solace. When the constant danger became too much to bear, she ran away, thinking she could survive on her hacking skills alone.

That was until she met Cole Hunter. He became the only person she could trust: her family, her friend, her partner-in-crime. Her everything. After struggling through college and starting their lives together, she believed that nothing could ever tear them apart.

Until it did.

And she’ll do everything in her power to fix what is broken. If it isn’t too late…
———
When Cole was nine years old, he watched his whole family burn to death in a house fire. Fueled by years of obsession, he started one of the world’s leading architectural firms, with a mission to design homes resistant to fire, earthquakes, floods, and every threat known to man.

Sophie was his secret weapon. She was his purpose. Since they were teenagers, he was determined to build a better life for her, so she could finally be safe, and they could be together.

But disaster has always followed Cole around, ripping away everything he loves. This time, if he isn’t careful…

His enemies might just take him down.
Author Info
Loretta Lost is a USA Today bestselling author who writes stories where very bad things happen to good people. Mystery, tragedy, and danger complicate her unique romances between characters who will do anything to protect each other.

In the two days of summer that she gets in Canada, she grows a garden of the hottest peppers in the world. She loves using these peppers to torture her guests and challenge their manhood. This could be why she isn't married.

Subscribe to Loretta's mailing list for updates: www.eepurl.com/O0WTL
You will also receive a FREE book as a gift for signing up!
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Cover Reveal - Raphael’s Fling (A Darcy Brothers Romance) Alix Nichols

Raphael’s Fling
by Alix Nichols
Publication date: November 17th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance


BLURB
My name is Mia Stoll and I dream about publishing a monograph on medieval Paris. Problem is, I’m better qualified for writing a handbook on how to go from a budding scholar to a pregnant runaway in three easy steps. 
– – –
My sister Eva carries a torch for the wrong man. Here’s the gist of my sermons to her: “Drooling over your hunky astronaut boss is a loser’s trek to Calamity with three stops along the way: Heartbreak, Job Loss, and Spinsterhood.”

The thing is, I’m in a terrible—you could even say impossible—position to lecture Eva.

I’m attracted to my own boss.

Raphael d’Arcy is funny, smart, and uber-rich. He’s also smoking hot. That alone should have scared me away, were I not such a dolt, my academic achievements notwithstanding.

But there’s more.

Raphael is France’s most notorious playboy who doesn’t do relationships. He does one-night stands. If sufficiently intrigued, he might do a fling. Which is the most I could ever hope to have with him—a short-lived fling.
So what, right? It’s not the end of the world.

But consider this: Getting my heart broken by Raphael d’Arcy is the least of my worries. Some very serious merde has been piling up in my life lately.

And it’s about to hit the fan.
Raphael’s Fling is a standalone sexy romance in the Darcy Brothers series. No cliffhangers. Guaranteed: a swoony bad-boy hero, laugh-out-loud moments and a happily-ever-after
Author Info
Alix Nichols is a caffeine addict and a longtime fan of Mr. Darcy, especially in his Colin Firth incarnation. She is a bestselling author of romantic comedies set in Paris.

At the age of six, she released her first rom com. It featured highly creative spelling on a dozen pages stitched together and bound in velvet paper.
Decades later, she still loves the romance genre. Her spelling has improved (somewhat), and her books have made Amazon Top 100 lists, climbing as high as #1. She lives in France with her family and their almost-human dog.
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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

SPOTLIGHT - Saying Goodbye (Passports and Promises series) by Abigail Drake

Abigail Drake
Saying Goodbye
Passports and Promises
Publisher: Pennrose Press

INTERVIEW WITH ABIGAIL DRAKE
How would you describe you style of writing to someone that has never read your work?
Very personal, a little snarky, sometimes funny, always quite real.
I write in first person because, when I write, I don’t feel like I’m observing characters from the outside. To me it seems like I’m getting inside their skin, understanding them on a deeper level, living their lives. On the surface, my characters might appear to be different from how they actually are, and writing in first person allows me to explore that more deeply, to figure them out more completely.

What mindset or routine do you feel the need to set when preparing to write (in general whether you are working on a project or just free writing)?
Once the story starts spinning around in my head, I just want to get it on paper. Each book is a different experience, however. For some books, I’m a total pantser (writing by the seat of my pants). For others, I’m more of a plotter. Most of the time, I’m somewhere in between. I try very hard not to listen to how others say it should be done, as far as routines and mindset go. Every writer is unique, and each person has to find their own way.

Do you take your character prep to heart? Do you nurture the growth of each character all the way through to the page? Do you people watch to help with development? Or do you build upon your character during story creation?
Sometimes I start with a plot line, but normally what happens is that I heard a character’s “voice” inside my head, and they demand to be put on paper. In my new books, Saying Goodbye, Part One and Part Two, it took me time to get my main character’s voice just right, but every book is different. And people watching is always a valuable tool for any writer. I’ve warned everyone around me to be careful, what they say or do could easily end up in one of my books.

Have you found yourself bonding with any particular character? If so which one(s)?
I honestly bond with each of my characters. I have three sons, and write almost all female protagonists. They are my escape from the reality of my male-dominated household! I feel a particular affinity with the main character in Saying Goodbye, Parts One and Two. Her name is Samantha, and she’s a college student who makes lots of mistakes along the way, but she’s honestly trying to do the right thing. I respect that aspect of her character. Also, she’s a Japanese major, and I also studied Japanese in college, so we have a lot in common.

Do you have a character that you have been working on that you can't wait to put to paper?
I just started writing the next book in the Passports and Promises series. It’s called Delaying Departure, and it takes place in Turkey. I lived in Turkey for three years, and my husband is Turkish, so this whole book is very special to me. The character I’m most excited about is the one who will be in the love interest in the story. He’s half Turkish, half Australian, and although I haven’t named him quite yet, everything else about him is very solid in my mind. Now to come up with the perfect name…hmmm. That can be the tricky part.

Have you ever felt that there was something inside of you that you couldn't control? If so what? If no what spurs you to reach for the unexperienced?
When you’re a writer, you find that on days when the writing is going well, you are happier than you ever believed possible. On days when it’s not going quite as smoothly, you end up being crabby and miserable. I’m normally very even-tempered, but if I’m not writing, or if I don’t have the right atmosphere to write (aka silence and calm), I can be very irritated.
I also get that way if I don’t have enough coffee. That’s another thing I can’t control. My coffee addiction.

Saying Goodbye: Part One
Passports and Promises, #1
Abigail Drake
Date of Publication: September 10th 2016
Publisher: Pennrose Press
Cover Artist: Najla Qamber
Genre: New Adult Romance

BLURB Part One:
Samantha Barnes always dreamed of seeing the world, and only has a few months left before she starts a semester abroad in Japan. Enough time to say goodbye to her friends, polish up her language skills, and maybe even squeeze in a quick fling with handsome fraternity boy Dylan Hunter.

All she wants from Dylan is something casual, and perhaps some mind-blowing sex, but things don’t work out as planned. Dylan wants a lot more from her than a hook-up. Before Sam realizes what’s happening, their relationship has become serious, something she never intended. And then she discovers Dylan is hiding a dark secret that makes breaking up with him nearly impossible.

Sam is running out of time. She has to leave soon. She has no choice. But leaving Dylan could mean more than just the end of their relationship. It could also mean destroying him completely.
Buy Link: Amazon
Excerpt Part One:
I walked out of the classroom and straight into Dylan Hunter. He’d been standing right outside the door to my classroom.
“What are you doing here?”
I’d wanted to see him in the sunshine, and I’d gotten my wish. He was even better looking than I remembered, with his black hair, dark eyes, and sexy crooked smile.
“This was the only Japanese III class being offered this semester. I took a chance.”
I hesitated, not sure if this was nice or a little creepy. “Oh.”
He lifted a bag he held in his hand. “I brought lunch.”
His face, so full earnestness, dispelled any worry I had about his creepiness factor. We sat outside and ate the lunch he’d prepared for us; peanut butter sandwiches, apples, and brownies.
“I bought the brownies, but I made the sandwiches myself.”
He handed me a soda. The September sun peeked through the leaves on the trees, warming us as we sat on a stone bench and ate. He turned and straddled the bench to face me. My cheeks got a little hot. I’d barely had time to pull my hair into a bun this morning. I wore yoga pants and a hoodie, and not a touch of makeup. The longer Dylan stared, the more uncomfortable I became.
“What?”
“Are you still with Max?”
I shook my head. “We broke up weeks ago.”
“But do you still love him?”
I decided the direct and honest approach would work best. “I never loved him and he never loved me. It ended well. We’re better as friends.”
He grinned and the effect shocked me. An odd tingling sensation rushed through my whole body. If his smile could do that to me, I had to wonder what his other parts could do. His lips. His hands. Everything else.
He leaned forward and, for just a second, I thought he might kiss me. Instead, he got really close and stared into my eyes. “That’s good news, Sam.”
“Why?”
“Because I want you to be mine.”
My half-eaten brownie remained clutched in my hand as I tried to formulate a coherent thought. I took a sip of soda and stared at him.
“That’s awfully direct, isn’t it?”
He shrugged. “Why pretend? It’s what I want. Why shouldn’t I be honest about it?”
“You hardly know me.”
“I know enough.”
He reached for my hand, lacing my fingers with his. It reminded me of our walk home from the frat.
He let go of my hand and looked at his watch. “I’ve got to go. Can I see you later?”
“When?”
He gathered up our trash and tossed it into a bin. “How about dinner? Would seven work for you?”
I hesitated only a second before answering. “Yes.”
“I’ll pick you up at the Theta house. Wear a dress.”
I stood next to him, holding my books against my chest. “I’m not sure if this is a good idea...”
He touched my face, his thumb stroking my cheek. “What’s there to be unsure about?”
“You’re a nice guy, but I’m leaving in January. I’ll be in Japan for the whole semester. It would be crazy to get involved with someone right now.”
“It’s dinner, Sam. No worries. No strings. Just food.”
“Just food?”
“Just food. I’ll see you at seven.”

Saying Goodbye: Part Two
Passports and Promises, #1
by Abigail Drake
Date of Publication: September 10th 2016
Publisher: Pennrose Press
Cover Artist: Najla Qamber
Genre: New Adult Romance

BLURB Part Two:

What if you meet the right person…at absolutely the wrong time?

When Samantha Barnes starts her semester abroad in Japan, she brings along a heavy load of emotional baggage. With her ex-boyfriend in the midst of a mental health crisis back home, she’d been forced to make some difficult choices, choices that now fill her with guilt and remorse. She also made promises to him she isn’t sure she can keep, especially when she meets Thomas MacGregor, an irresistibly charming Scottish rugby player. Thomas is studying at the same university as Samantha, and, although she tries to fight it, she begins to fall for him. Hard.

Life in Kyoto is everything Samantha could imagine, but, when tragedy strikes, it sends her on a downward spiral into darkness. Will she be able to come to terms with what happened, and have a future with Thomas, or will she forever be plagued by regret?

Forgiveness is a tricky thing, especially when the person you need to forgive most is yourself.
Buy Link: Amazon
Excerpt Part Two:
As we walked through the lobby, I felt a little underdressed. Most of the women had on skirts, and the men wore suits. The only other foreigners, a group of men sitting in the bar, laughed and talked loudly, causing people to shoot them curious glances. The bar opened into the lobby, and they watched what looked like a very noisy and exciting rugby match on a large television. I suspected they might also be students, here for the Tokyo orientation, but we automatically steered away from them. They seemed rowdy, and had begun drawing annoyed looks from the hotel staff.
“Some people leave home for the first time and don’t know how to act,” said Hana under her breath.
One of the guys in the group stood up and yelled, raising his hands in the air. His booming voice echoed throughout the lobby.
“Bloody hell. They did it.”
I caught a glimpse of possibly the tallest, broadest guy I’d ever seen. He had a headful of unruly curls streaked with gold that made him look a bit like a lion. He wore jeans and a wrinkled dress shirt half tucked and half untucked into his jeans. He turned around and his eyes met mine for just a moment. A shockingly deep shade of blue, they lit up when he saw me.
“Oi,” he said, waving at us. We ignored him and ducked into the hotel gift shop.
“Do you think they’re in the Ritsumeikan group?”
Hana glanced over her shoulder. “Dr. Eshima told me there would be a bunch of ruggers from Scotland, England, and Australia in our group. This is the first year they’ve had a team, and they recruited the best collegiate ruggers in the world for training and marketing purposes. I would bet that is them.”
Dr. Eshima had taken a position teaching at Ritsumeikan this semester. I was excited, not only because I loved having him as a teacher. It would be nice to have another familiar face around.
“Ruggers?”
“Rugby players,” she said. “Uh-oh. Here comes one now.”
The giant lion man stood at the doorway of the gift shop, swaying slightly on his feet. His eyes scanned the shop until he found me.
“Oi,” he said again.
I feigned tremendous interest in the postcard collection, but he refused to take the hint. He came over, standing a little too close. Hana deserted me, sneaking to the far side of the gift shop to get two cans of grape juice from the fridge. Lion Man stared down at me, forcing me to acknowledge his presence.
“Yes?”
“I came to say hello.” It sounded more like “Ay kem ta sey halloo.” His eyes, only half open, appeared glassy. Definitely trashed, but he didn’t seem dangerous. Just very large, and loud, and Scottish.
“Hello.” I nodded at him and returned to my postcard perusal. My heart hammered in my chest. I forced myself to take slow, even breaths, feeling a now familiar tightening in my ribs.
I’d had the first anxiety attack of my life not long before I left for Japan, and the lack of control had been as frightening as the attack itself. I’d had a few close calls since then, but never another full-blown attack.
I took a deep breath and tried to calm down as I analyzed the situation. For all his size, the rugby player wasn’t an actual threat. He was just a large, good-looking drunk who wanted to flirt. As soon as I realized that, my heart rate slowly returned to normal.
He tilted his gigantic head to one side, looking a bit like a golden retriever. Maybe that was his spirit animal. Not a lion but a big puppy with giant, overgrown paws.
“Do we have problem, sorority girl?” he asked, his eyes on the Greek letters appliqued onto my hoody.
I gave him a tight smile, wanting to hide the fact my hands still shook from the adrenaline rush I’d just experienced. I shoved them into the pocket of my hoodie. “I don’t have a problem. Excuse me.”
I tried to slip past him, but he blocked my way. “Aren’t you high and mighty?”
“Aren’t you drunk and sloppy?”
His friends laughed. They stood at the entry of the shop waiting to see what might happen.
“Come on, Thomas,” one of them said. “Leave the poor girl alone.”
He straightened his spine, making him seem even more ridiculously tall, and made a half-hearted attempt to tuck in his shirt, bringing my attention to both his six-pack and his bulging biceps. In spite of his rudeness and slovenly appearance, I found him attractive. Scary thought. A wall of muscle, charm, and Scottish hotness, he probably picked up women as easily as picking up a pair of socks. The last thing I needed right now.
“Let me try this again, the proper way. Hello. My name is Thomas Alexander MacGregor. How do you do?”
He gave me a very formal bow and held out a beefy hand. Against my better judgment, I took it. “Samantha Barnes.”
He swayed again on his feet, but kept my hand firmly gripped in his. I wondered what would happen if he passed out in this tiny gift shop full of delicate glass trinkets in elegantly lit display cases. Thomas MacGregor, built like a redwood tree, would take out half the shop if he fell. The little Japanese woman behind the counter seemed to think the same thing. She watched our interaction with wary eyes, her fingers hovering above a button on her desk. Thomas didn’t even notice her. He only had eyes for me. Bleary, bloodshot eyes, even if they were a beautiful shade of blue.
“Samantha Barnes. You are lovely. Really lovely. Not the friendliest girl I’ve ever met, and a bit stuck on yourself, I’d say, but lovely. As lovely as an angel, in fact. Why don’t you and your friend join us for a drink?”
I wiggled out of his grasp and ducked around him. “No, thanks.”
He spun around, almost losing his balance. “Why not?”
Hana and I slipped out of the shop, but I paused in the doorway. “Didn’t a MacGregor try to kill Peter Rabbit?”
He frowned, his eyebrows coming together as he thought about it. “That was Farmer MacGregor. And Peter Rabbit got away, if I remember the story correctly.”
I couldn’t help but smile. “So I guess history will repeat itself.”
He left the shop and watched as I walked toward the lobby with Hana. “You won’t even have one wee drink with me, little rabbit? Why?”
“Because you are a drunken, rude, overbearing Scottish ox. And you’ve already had one ‘wee drink’ too many.”
His friends cheered; laughing so hard they nearly fell over. One of them shouted, “She’s right, Tommy. You are a bloody ox.”
He got very red in the face and lumbered back to his friends. “No chance with that one. Pretty to look at for sure, but as prickly as a damned thistle. You were right. I owe you a pint, Malcolm.”
My ears burned as we walked away. Hana gave me a sympathetic look. “Well, hopefully you’ll never have to see him again,” she said.
I sighed. “I’m not that lucky.”

Author Info
Abigail Drake has spent her life traveling the world, and collecting stories wherever she visited. She majored in Japanese and International Economics in college and worked in import/export and as an ESL teacher before she committed herself full time to writing. She writes in several romance genres, and her books are quirky, light, fun, and sexy. Abigail is a trekkie, a book hoarder, the master of the Nespresso machine, a red wine addict, and the mother of three boys (probably the main reason for her red wine addiction). A puppy named Capone is the most recent addition to her family, and she blogs about him as a way of maintaining what little sanity she has left.
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