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Friday, December 15, 2017

2018 Romance Roundabout Challenge

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This challenge is been hosted by Under the Covers Book Blog

Goal: Romance Guru (read 5 books minimum per subgenre)

I have been waiting for this challenge to be posted. This year 2017 I was not able to participate but I need to clean up my TBR and bookshelves so I'm giving it a go this year. If someone sees a book that doesn't belong to a category let me know so I can change it. I am not familiar with sub-genre categories, I just like to read romance. I will be trying for Romance Guru and below are my choices for each category (LGBTQ has only one pick because is an anthology of more than 5 books).

My Picks:

Paranormal Romance

  • The Curse of Tenth Grave by Darynda Jones
  • The Thief by J. R. Ward
  • Blood Fury by J. R. Ward
  • How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days by Kerrelyn Sparks
  • Feel the Burn by G. A. Aiken

Urban Fantasy

  • Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs
  • Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning
  • Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison
  • Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill
  • On the Edge by Ilona Andrews

Young Adult (fantasy or contemporary both qualify)

  • Hidden by P. C. Cast + Kristen Cast
  • Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston
  • Gates of Paradise by Melissa de la Cruz
  • Intensity by Sherrilyn Kenyon
  • Reckoning by Lili St. Crow

New Adult

  • Double-Sided Magic McKenzie Hunter
  • Without Merit by Colleen Hoover
  • Miss Fix-It by Emma Hart
  • Sweet Little Thing by Abbi Glines
  • Easy by Tammara Webber

Erotic Romance 

  • Playing to Win by Jaci Burton
  • Simon Says: Mine by Cherise Sinclair
  • Nauti Intentions by Lora Leigh
  • The Alien's Mail-Order Bride by Ruby Dixon
  • Nobody's Lost by Kalypso Masters

Sci-Fi (can be romance or straight sci-fi)

  • Insurrection by Sherrilyn Kenyon
  • Renegades by Marissa Meyer
  • Cheerleaders From Planet X by Lysa Chiavari
  • The Door to January by Gillian French
  • Lauren's Barbarian by Ruby Dixon

Historical Romance

  • Someone's Been Sleeping In My Bed by Linda Jones
  • Big Bad Wolf by Linda Jones
  • The Lost Duke of Wyndham by Julia Quinn
  • When We Meet Again by Victoria Alexander
  • Seduction of a Proper Gentleman by Victoria Alexander


  • Soulless by Gail Carriger
  • Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster
  • A Lady Can Never Be Too Curious by Mary Wine
  • Firelight by Kristen Callihan
  • The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow

Contemporary Romance

  • Officer Next Door by Renae Rose
  • Hard as It Gets by Laura Kaye
  • A Love to Call Her Own by Marilyn Pappano
  • Without a Doubt by Ann Lister
  • Trained for Seduction by Mia Downing

Romantic Suspense

  • Built to Last by Julie Ann Walker
  • Forgotten Sins by Rebecca Zanetti
  • Edge of Sight by Roxanne St. Claire
  • Sweet Talk by Julie Garwood
  • The Broken by Shelley Coriell

LGBT Romance

  • O Come All Ye Kinky Anthology

Fantasy (not to be confused with paranormal romance!)

  • Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
  • Darkest Mercy by Melissa Marr
  • Heartless by Marissa Meyer
  • Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
  • The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Mystery (not romance focused, can be cozy mystery or thrillers)

  • Gone With The Ghost by Erin McCarthy
  • Death Overdue by Allison Brook
  • Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
  • And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
  • Storm Front by Jim Butcher

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Maid for Love by Marie Force

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Maid for Love

by Marie Force
Series: The McCarthys of Gansett Island (#1)
Published by: HTJB, Inc.
April 28th, 2011
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format: eBook

Rating: 4 Stars

     This was s sweet story of small-town gossip and second chances at love. Although is a cliche about a poor woman (Madeline "Maddie" Chester) and the town's golden boy (Malcom John "Mac" McCarthy Junior) it was still a great read for me. I laughed and I cried and I fell in love with Mac's will to help Maddie even when she was hell-bent against it.

     I loved that Mac was patient towards Maddie and her insecurities and that he didn't push her to be comfortable with her body, he just gave her time for her to come to terms with it and let Mac in at her own time. I really think it was very generous of him to offer to pay for the surgery, but only if she wanted it. With that, I think that she doesn't need it. He just showed her there that he isn't with her for her big breasts, that he likes her for her.

     Another thing I liked was that the author paved the way for the next book really well without taking away from Mac and Maddie's story, and I'm glad that this book is free because it leads me to this awesome series which I'll go ahead and buy book two. I can't wait for Joe and Janey's story, with that excerpt at the end I just have to read more!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

ARC Review: Too Hard To Handle by Julie Ann Walker

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23981356Too Hard To Handle
by Julie Ann Walker
Series: Black Knights Inc (#8)
Published by: Casablanca
September 1st 2015
Genre: Romantic Suspense, Contemporary Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)

Rating: 5 Stars

     Like every book I've read from this author, I loved every second of it. Even when I was pretty sure of what was going to happen with Penni from the previous book, I was still engaged in the story and wanted to know what was going to happened.

     True to Julie Ann Walker fashion, this book kept me on edge and wanting to strangle every single character! I also got frustrated every time they got interrupted. When they got to the BKI warehouse? Hallelujah!! And OMG was that steamy.

     I was teary eyed (and not ashamed to say it) when Penni learned the truth and I don't really blame her for her assumption. I really though that something was going to go wrong for a minute there at the end.

    And last of all Mrs. Walker? I applaud you with that ending. Letting you know that I'll be obviously reading the next book and not just cause I want to find out...

***Didn't understand any of this review? Read this series, I dare you. I recommend each and every one of this books.***

Friday, August 21, 2015

Review: Dragonbane by Sherrilyn Kenyon

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by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Series: Dark-Hunter (#26)
Published by: St. Martin's Press
August 4th 2015
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Format: eBook

Rating: 5 Stars

     I couldn't be happier with this story. I've been waiting for Max's story for a long time and I think the author gave him a HEA worthy of each and every single page it was written on.

     The chemistry between Max ans Sera was sizzling and the fact that they had to fight every step of the way to finally have a modicum of peace and that Seraphina's sudden return didn't magically fixed everything and they went back to been together was a big plus too.

     I am freakishly curious about Apollimy and Savitar and am wondering if there will be a HEA or at least a HFN in there.

     There was that OMG scene with Illarion (which I'm glad will be solved in the next book) and the waterworks went into overdrive a bit there at the end which now has me curious about Falcyn.

     I just can't wait for more of this series and the characters we love.

     HEY, who was a time machine? Where is a Were-Hunter when you need one *pouts*

Friday, August 14, 2015

Review: Homecoming Weekend by Curtis Bunn

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Homecoming Weekend: A NovelHomecoming Weekend
by Curtis Bunn
Published by: Strebor Books
September 4th 2012
Genre: Chick-Lit, Contemporary
Format: eBook

Rating: 3 Stars

     This was an interesting book, something different for me.

     I was kind of lost at first (I'm more a 2 POV kind of girl) but as I got more into the story all started to explain itself. This was a fun and crazy read with some real life situations.

     There are 4 different stories and they are from different age ranges. I really loved Earl and Catherine's story. It teaches us that real love can find us even if we are old and that not all men are the same like we saw from Earl at the golf game.

     I was really sorry for Don. As he was at the apex of personal problems and he was using homecoming as a temporary getaway from which he was looking to find some happiness.

     As for the others, they made me mad and they made me laugh. I really don't know how I feel about them so I'm not going to bother mentioning them ^_^

Friday, August 7, 2015

Paige Tyler's Wolf Trouble Spotlight

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     He’s in trouble with a capital T

     There’s never been a female on the Dallas SWAT team and Senior Corporal Xander Riggs prefers it that way. The elite pack of alpha male wolfshifters is no place for a woman. But Khaki Blake is no ordinary woman.

     When Khaki walks through the door attractive as hell and smelling like heaven, Xander doesn’t know what the heck to do. Worse, she’s put under his command and Xander’s protective instincts go on high alert. When things start heating up both on and off the clock, it’s almost impossible to keep their heads in the game and their hands off each other…

     Paige Tyler’s sexy, action-packed SWAT series is back this August with the release of Wolf Trouble! To celebrate this latest release, Corporal Xander Riggs has agreed to sit down for a Q&A with us:

     Do you have any role models? If so, who?

     My Pack Alpha and boss, Gage Dixon. He could have gone off and been a lone wolf when he turned, but instead he found us and taught us how to be a pack.


     Xander had to pick his jaw up off the floor of the training room when Gage introduced the newest member of the SWAT team. He didn’t know what to expect, but it sure as hell wasn’t Officer Khaki Blake. Tall with an athletic build and just enough curves to fill out the SWAT T-shirt, she had the biggest brown eyes and softest looking lips he’d ever seen. She had her dark hair back in a bun, so he couldn’t tell how long it was, but he’d bet money it fell past her shoulders. She smelled way too good to be believed, too—like a slice of frosted spice cake in a uniform.

     Shit. He was practically panting. If he didn’t get a grip soon, he was going to start drooling.

     He gave the other guys a covert glance to see how they were dealing with her scent and was stunned to see that none of them reacted at all. Why not? His nose wasn’t that much better than theirs. He knew for a fact that several of the other guys—Cooper Landry and Jayden Brooks specifically—could smell a hell of a lot better than he could.

     Maybe everyone was so mesmerized by finally getting to see a female version of their kind that the rest of their senses had stopped working.

     Gage had left it up to Xander to fill the guys in on what had gone down at the meeting with Deputy Chief Mason while he’d headed home to get ready for his trip to Washington State. While the guys had been pissed that the top brass was playing politics with the team, they’d been intrigued at the idea of adding a female werewolf to the Pack.

     They’d bombarded him with dozens of questions, none of which he could answer. Was she as fast and strong as they were? Did her abilities manifest themselves in completely different ways? Would she be as aggressive as they were and able to handle herself in a fight? Were there more like her out there, or was she the only one?

     Not all the questions were so general. Brooks wondered what she would look like, Max Lowry wanted to know if she would smell like them, and Eric Becker… Well, Becker just wanted to know if she liked to wear yoga pants. God, that kid had an obsession with those things.

     Xander had told them what he knew—that no one except Gage knew a damn thing about female werewolves. And Xander wasn’t so sure how much their commander knew, either.

     While Xander was lost in thought, Gage turned the floor over to Khaki, who was currently explaining how much she appreciated the opportunity to be in SWAT.

     “I know I won’t be handed anything, but I look forward to proving to every one of you that I belong in the Pack and on the team.” She spoke in a light, lilting voice that surprisingly filled the large classroom. Xander could definitely pick up the Midwest accent, so she probably wasn’t originally from the Pacific Northwest. “I’m not asking for anything from you but a chance to do prove myself.”

Author Biography

     Paige Tyler is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of sexy, romantic fiction. She and her very own military hero (also known as her husband) live on the beautiful Florida coast with their adorable fur baby (also known as their dog). Paige graduated with a degree in education, but decided to pursue her passion and write books about hunky alpha males and the kickbutt heroines who fall in love with them. Visit

ARC Review: Wolf Trouble by Paige Tyler

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SWAT 2Wolf Trouble
by Paige Tayler
Series: SWAT: Special Wolf Alpha Team (#2)
Published by: Casablanca
August 4th 2015
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)

Rating: 5 Stars

     Oh my, oh mi, what are this hotties doing to me!

     Another great hit on Paige Tyler's SWAT series. What I love about this author's stories is that they grab hold of your insides, your mind, your heart, any part of you it can and makes you want to do something stupid. Like calling sick to work just so you can finish it all in one sitting.

     Just like Gage and Mac's book, Khaki and Xander's story was full of action, team work and lots of sweaty, bare chested, alpha males we love to dream about. Although the story was about how a female wolf was introduced as a member of the team and how that was going to to work for the males in the pack, it was also about how two member of the same team can work together. How they needed to understand what been a cop is really about; putting your live in danger even when that doesn't go well with your mate.

     But it also showed us a little of what each one of the SWAT members have to go though to be as good as they are and what it is for a new wolf to learn of his/her powers.

     With each word read I fell more and more in love with this characters and this author and I can't NOT wait for In The Company of Wolves to see what is next in store for this characters, and of course not to mention the abs, biceps, triceps, shoulders, thighs, as.... you get my meaning. 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Review: Two to Love by Sophie Oak

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Two to Love (Nights in Bliss, Colorado, #2)Two to Love
by Sophie Oak
Series: Nights in Bliss, Colorado (#2)
Published by: Siren Publishing
January 24th 2011
Genre: Erotic Romance, Menage, Contemporary
Format: eBook

Rating: 4 Stars

     I liked the story in this book. There is something appealing in threesomes. Specifically those that focus on the girls pleasure. Who wouldn't kill to have such attentions bestowed upon them.

     I know that we all have different opinions but I would have liked that Zane could have being one of her firsts. If Nate got the first I think Zane should have had the second. But that's just me.

     The chemistry between the three was really good although there were times I wanted to smack Zane and/or Nate. I mean stupid much. Assuming stuff like that without knowing what was running by the others mind. But I guess that's human nature for you.

     Now I'm on to the next and hope Stef isn't so idiotic. (Not holding much faith, he made an ass of himself already and it isn't even his story ^_^)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Review: Third Grave Dead Ahead by Darynda Jones

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Third GraveThird Grave Dead Ahead
by Darynda Jones
Series: Charley Davidson (#3)
Published by: St. Martin's Press
January 31st 2012
Genre: Paranormal, Humor, Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed (Public Library)

Rating: 4 Stars

     I think I am scared for life. Even in this witty, funny and strange world that is the life of Charley Davidson, Mrs. Jones finds a way to keep you glued to every page and give you a good plot to keep things going.

     Poor Charley was sleep depraved and at her wits end but still kept doing her job. Kept going forward dealing with her PI business, helping her uncle, and on top of it all Reyes throws in his bit of problems when he tells Charley that Earl Walker, the man he is in prison for supposedly killing, might still be alive and in New Mexico.

     I really don't know how Charley can deal with so much and still be sane. Maybe is good that she has ADHD and can't give any one thing her attention for long.

     I do think that Charley just needs to have more faith in herself and that she can do anything and she will be able to master her powers. As long as she doubts it she'll have problems.

     As for my Swopes? *cries* I can't believe it!! Thankfully he will be okay.

     And last I was not expecting her guardian would be Artemis. I was looking (like I imagine all of us were) that is was someone of the two leg variety.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Julie Ann Walker Deep Six Series Spotlight + Giveaway

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     Only two things could make former Navy SEAL Leo Anderson return to the world of weapons and warfare. First, a capsule of chemical weapons lost on the ocean floor, and second, a plea for assistance from the one woman he can't seem to forget-CIA Agent Olivia Mortier.

      Now, working together to race against the clock and a deadly terrorist faction, Leo and Olivia must find the missing capsule, all the while battling the intense desire burning between them. If they can survive, can their growing attraction become more than just a momentary flare?

     Hi everyone!  My name is Julie Ann Walker and I'm tickled pink to be here today talking about my BRAND SPANKING NEW romantic suspense series, Deep Six!  It revolves around six newly retired Navy SEALs who just can't seem to shake their past and the Navy SEAL motto that "the only easy day was yesterday."  Set in the Florida Keys, the series is filled with sun, sand, danger, intrigue, adventure, and plenty of half-dressed alpha hotties.  LOL!  Sound like a good time?  I guarantee it is!  And I guarantee you're going to fall in love with these six men.

     Take Leo "The Lion" Anderson.  With his sun-streaked, sandy blond hair and perpetual tan -- not to mention those hazel eyes and beard stubble -- he's sure to win your heart.  And that's before you get to his no-bullshit, take-command-of-any-situation attitude and the fact that he's trying to fulfill his father's dying wish. 

     Then there's Brando "Bran" Pallidino.  A native New Jerseyan, Bran grew up on the mean streets of Newark.  He's rough.  He's tough.  And his Italian-American heritage means he comes complete with soulful brown eyes, a face that belongs on billboards, and a love for good food and good wine.  (That last part means his beer-loving teammates give him a lot of grief. *wink*)

     You won't be able to resist Mason "Monet" McCarthy.  As a boy from Beantown, Mason learned to use the F-bomb in really colorful ways.  He's big.  He's burly.  He's not the kind of guy you'd like to meet in a dark alley.  Yet his thick black hair and crystal blue eyes soften what would otherwise be an entirely intimidating appearance.

     Who doesn't love a country boy?  Dalton "Doc" Simmons was born and raised in Montana.  He's a lean, mean, fighting machine, with a face that's all angles as if it's been carved down to its barest essentials by a hot, stinging prairie wind.  Doc has a tragic past.  And he's fighting to come to terms with it.

     Next up is Ray "Wolf" Roanhorse.  Wolf's Cherokee heritage makes him strikingly handsome, with a blade of a nose, high cheekbones, flashing black eyes, and a lush, beautifully-shaped mouth.  Born into poverty on a reservation in Oklahoma, Wolf has more than himself to worry about.  He has his whole family depending on him.  But if anyone can shoulder that burden, it's Wolf.

     And last but certainly not least, we have Spiro "Romeo" Delgado.  Romeo likes to play up that whole Latin-lover thing.  And with his swarthy skin, precisely trimmed goatee, and honed physique, he does a pretty good job of it.  But that's just what's on the surface.  Underneath it all, Romeo is desperately trying to make up for the mistakes of his past.

     See?  What did I tell you?  You love them already, don't you?  Read on for a bonus scene from HELL OR HIGH WATER where you get to meet all of the Deep Six heroes!


     Family isn’t only determined by blood, but by those who stand by you, fightin’ for you. By those you stand beside and fight for…

     That was the thought that drifted through Leo “The Lion” Anderson’s head when he looked around the warped wooden table at his men. Correction—the minute those five wild-ass SEALs snapped their final salute to the Navy and followed him to the Florida Keys to join him on his quest for high seas adventure and the hunt for untold riches, they stopped being his men. But they would never stop being his family. If they all lived for a hundred years, the bonds of the blood, sweat, and tears they’d shed together would never come unbound. They were too strong, forged in the fiery crucible of too many wars and missions to count.

     “Yo, man!” Brando “Bran” Pallidino leaned close to be heard above the twanging voice and guitar licks of the singer on the stage. The six of them had spent the day in Key West, gathering supplies and finishing up some repairs on Wayfarer I—the leaking, rusty salvage boat Leo had inherited from his father. And now they were enjoying beers and dinner at Schooner Wharf bar, the open-air establishment that saw more than its fair share of revelers, crusty sea captains, and miscreants who’d come to the end of the road in a bid to fall off the map completely. “That brunette in the yellow bikini top and flowery skirt over by the taps keeps giving you come-and-get-me-big-boy looks.”

     Leo glanced at the woman and sure enough. Slam! Her gaze collided with his and there was a definite suggestion glowing in her big, dark eyes. “I think she wants you to poke her hontas,” Bran concluded.

     Leo scowled at his best friend as a subtle breeze drifted in from the water, mixing the smells of fish and marine fuel with the sweeter aromas of boat drinks and barley hops that continuously flowed from behind the bar. “How long have you been keeping that little gem in your pocket?” he asked Bran.

     “Came up with it just this minute.” Bran grinned, wiggling his eyebrows. “My mind,” he continued, “is as nimble and as fertile as a…”

     Leo held up a hand. “Don’t finish that analogy. I can already guess what your mind is as nimble and as fertile as.”

     “Personally,” Doc said from Leo’s opposite side, twirling the ever-present toothpick in his mouth in a wide circle, “I would have gone with, ‘I think she wants you to engage her in a little gland-to-gland combat.’” Dalton “Doc” Simmons had one of those tough Midwestern faces. But right now it was split in a gleeful grin that made him look almost boyish. It was damn good to see Doc smiling. For too many years he hadn’t.

     “She wants you to rock her casbah!” Spiro “Romeo” Delgado piped up from across the table, never one to miss an opportunity to toss in his two bits.

     “Churn her butter,” Ray “Wolf” Roanhorse added after plunking his Budweiser bottle down on the table. He turned and slow-winked at the bird in the yellow bikini. Leo watched the brunette’s eyes widen, her head cocking like a cat considering a canary. With his Cherokee heritage, Wolf was the embodiment of the original American warrior. His visage equally fierce and—according to the lady at the hardware store this morning—beautiful. She’d breathed the word while staring all googly-eyed at Wolf.

     “And you?” Leo turned to the last remaining man at the table. “What ridiculous euphemism have you come up with tonight?”

     Mason “Monet” McCarthy was as big as a mountain, and just as silent. Usually. But even he couldn’t resist joining in. “She wants you to rumble in her jungle,” he said. His south Boston accent making it sound more like rahmble inna jahngle.

     And that’s the thing about family, Leo thought with a shake of his head as he slid on his aviator sunglasses despite the fact that the sun had slipped beneath the western horizon. One minute they’re standin’ with you against the world. The next minute they’re bustin’ your balls.

     And he wouldn’t have it any other way. Especially since the good-natured ribbing, immature as it might be, was proof positive they were all slowly crawling out from under the thick blanket of mourning that had descended over them, heavy as a death shroud when—

     “Yo, man,” Bran interrupted his thoughts. “You better stake your claim. If you don’t, Wolf’s gonna stake his.”

     “He’s welcome to it,” Leo said, leaning back in his chair and picking at the label on his Budweiser with the edge of his thumbnail. “’Cause I’m takin’ a pass on this one.”
Bran groaned and took a long slug of his beer.

     “What?” Leo demanded, frowning. “What’s that uuuugh for?”

     “Just that I coulda guessed as much.” Bran shrugged a shoulder, his holey tank-top accentuating the strength and sinew of his bare arms. According to Bran, if the sun’s out, the guns are out. Bran’s unending supply of tank tops had become a running joke between all of them. Leo’s balls weren’t the only ones that received a regular busting. Every man’s in the group were fair game.

     “And why would you have guessed as much?” he raised a brow.

     Bran leveled him with a look that called into question the validity of his IQ tests. “You’re kidding me, right?”

     “No,” Leo shook his head, feeling his temper flicker to life. What the hell was Bran getting at? Luckily—or unluckily?—he didn’t have to wait long to find out.

     “It’s just that this seems to be your new modus operandus,” Bran said.

     “What does?”

     “Eschewing the soft ministration and willing company of bar bunnies,” Doc interjected.

     Leo scowled over at him, then swung his gaze around to each man at the table. They all wore the same expression of agreement.

     Okay, and this is one of those times I wish these assholes weren’t my family. Because he could certainly do without them being all up in his goddamn business.

     “First off,” he said in his own defense, “after all that runnin’ around today, I’m too tired to sweat, much less do anything else. Secondly, when you start talkin’ bar bunnies, I only have one thought.”

     “What’s that?” Wolf asked, only giving him half his attention. The other half was securely focused on Miss Yellow Bikini Top who, having quickly picked up the disinterest Leo was laying down, was now giving Wolf all her come-and-get-me-big-boy looks.

     “Hippety hoppety herpes is on its way,” Leo said, his lips twitching when Wolf blanched and swung around to attempt to fry his eyebrows off with a look.

     “You really know how to spoil it for those of us not currently hung up on…” Wolf trailed to a stop.

     The hair on Leo’s head tried to crawl off his scalp. Wolf didn’t need to finish. Leo knew where he was heading. “I’m not hung up on anyone,” he insisted, disgusted to realize he was trying to convince himself more than the guys. An image of Special Agent Olivia Mortier flashed before his eyes. Black hair. Blue eyes. A slightly crooked front tooth that never failed to make his dick twitch. There was just something about that tooth. That tiny imperfection amidst so much beauty only seemed to enhance her appeal. Maybe because it made her real. A real, live, hot-blooded woman with a mind like a steel trap, a wit that was as sharp as a tack and—

     Fuck. Maybe he was hung up on her. The wall he’d built up in his mind, the one that was supposed to keep memories of her at bay, was proving frustratingly weak.

     “If that’s what you have to tell yourself, cabron,” Romeo said.

     Leo sat there, a muscle twitching in his jaw. He refused to respond for nearly thirty seconds. He knew it was thirty seconds because he calculated that for every two seconds that passed he came up with a new way to assassinate the men at the table. He’d totaled out at fifteen.

     “You should see your face,” Doc said, the salty sea breeze causing the ends of his shaggy hair to riot. “You look like someone shoved a cactus up your ass.”

     “And yo, man,” Bran slung an arm around his shoulders, “there’s no reason to get all hot under the collar.”

     “The only reason my collar is hot is ’cause your sweaty arm is around it,” Leo grumbled, shrugging off Bran’s brotherly embrace and taking a hasty swig of beer. Thoughts of Olivia always made him feel punchy. Talking about her, even obliquely, made him feel…something. It was like if horny and confused got together with uncomfortable and had a threesome his current emotional state would be the unholy offspring of the encounter.

     “I was born on a farm where we used lots of fertilizer,” Doc said, seemingly apropos of nothing.

     Leo turned to him. “And that’s relevant to this because…?” He made a rolling motion with his hand.

     “Because it means I know bullshit when I smell it.”

     Bran grabbed his belly, crowing like the idiot he was. “You shoulda known better than to ask, bro.”

     Leo was considering the most painful way to wipe the grin from Bran’s face when Mason said, “You fuckers need to back the fuck off and leave him the fuck alone.” The man rarely spoke, but when he did his sentences were littered with F-bombs. Mason once told them that was the Southie way. The word fuck could be used as every part of speech: nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs…

     “Of course you’re the one to jump to his defense when it comes to rebuffing the babes,” Bran scoffed.

     “Now what the fuck’s that supposed to mean?” Mason demanded, the vein running up the center of his forehead beginning to pulse.

     “How long has it been since—”

     Leo figured he better cut Bran off before he went any further. Number one, because Leo could see the bull’s eye was about to slide off his chest and attach itself to Mason’s. And since Mason had come to his rescue…well, then turn about was fair play. And number two, because Leo knew just how much talk of Mason’s past—and the effect Mason’s past was still having on his present—bothered him. “Gentleman,” he said, “I think it’s best of we table this topic of conversation.”

     To his great delight, right at that moment their waitress appeared with a tray laden with chicken wings and conch fritters, two of Key West’s official delicacies. “And speakin’ of tables, wait ’til you see what’s about to be laid on ours.”

     With a flourish the waitress unloaded the tray. She’d barely stepped back before the feeding frenzy began. As the flavor of buffalo sauce mixed with hops and barley on Leo’s tongue, he once again looked around at the five men who’d been with him through thick and thin. The five men who’d bugged out of the Navy with him after they all made that soul-shaking promise to a dying brother to start living life.

     Ones that weren’t filled with death and destruction. These meatheads might be a constant pain in Leo’s ass, but they also happened to be a constant comfort and an unending source of entertainment.

     Like family, his mind circled back to its original topic. And it gave him a sense of peace. A sense of contentment. A sense of…urgency.Because they were all depending on him to come through with the big score. He felt the weight of that responsibility as surely as an anchor chain around his shoulders. They’d all made that promise, and now it was up to him to help them make good on it.

     Letting his gaze skim out over the marina, he watched as the boats bobbed gently with the tide. Their metal fittings caught the rays of the full moon and glinted as sweetly as the treasure Leo and the guys were ready to start hunting. The Santa Cristina, that legendary ghost galleon, the holy grail of sunken Spanish shipwrecks…she was out there. Somewhere.

     And come hell or high water, we’re goin’ to find her…

Author Biography

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     Julie Ann Walker is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of award-winning romantic suspense. She has won the Book Buyers Best Award, been nominated for the National Readers Choice Award, the Australian Romance Reader Awards, and the Romance Writers of America's prestigious RITA award. Her latest release was named a Top Ten Romance of 2014 by Booklist. Her books have been described as "alpha, edgy, and downright hot." Most days you can find her on her bicycle along the lake shore in Chicago or blasting away at her keyboard, trying to wrangle her capricious imagination into submission.