Review + Excerpt – Respect by Jay Crownover

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Respect by Jay Crownover

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Light is easy to love. Show me your darkness.~ R. Queen

I love books bathed in darkness with a sliver of light, as they dig deeply into the depths of hell but somehow find a bit of heaven. Jay Crownover is a mix master of black, shadowy stories that still shine like gold. This master storyteller makes you love the ‘baddest’ of bad boys in her powerful series called The Point and The Breaking Point where the men who sway from criminals to heroes, the boyfriends that mothers would hide from if you brought them home, the boys you should probably run from too. But you can’t help but adore these saints and sinners that snag your heart.

Respect is the story of a broken-hearted but brave princess who has to flee the corrupt kingdom because she thinks the big, broken and bold prince doesn’t see her beyond a young friend. Oh how wrong this heroine is; the powerful prince sees her but does not want to corrupt her. Neither realize the power of fate. Fate has other plans and is the real ruler of this kingdom.

Time was supposed to heal all wounds, but mine felt like it was still wide open and bleeding all over the place.

Scorching, spine-tingling, and oh-so strong, Respect is the perfect fusion of light and dark, heaven and hell, and sin and salvation. Gritty with bits of glam. Dark with bits of light. Dangerous and daring. Respect is a HEADY HIGH! I was ADDICTED to Karsen and Bookers’ journey that is as emotional as it is explosive. I LOVED being back at the Point! I can’t help but become fully vested in these characters—the baddest and bravest boys with the biggest hearts and the bold heroines who stand beside them. From Bax to Booker and Dovie to Karsen, I’ve fallen for every one of the heroes and anti-heroes of the Point.

”Don’t regret this later, Karsen. If you do, it might kill me.”

Fire-hot, formidable, and full of feels, Respect is a fresh spin on romance. Jay Crownover always brings a uniqueness to her words that I’ve called ‘Crownover Crack’ since meeting Rule years ago. From Better When He’s Bad to Respect, The Point and The Breaking Point series are perfectly imperfect stories that slay with strength and soul. Respect is the perfect farewell. A HIGH-OCTANE, HEART-POUNDING ROMANCE that delivers all the way.

”The only person whose touch I ever needed was yours.”

What a powerful finish to a powerful and poignant series! I so don’t want this series to be over. Jay Crownover rocked all of these brilliant bad boy books out of the park! The addicting anti-heroes—villains fused with victors—of the Point will mark your soul, grab your heart, and stay with you forever. Bad has never been so good!!!

It was a place that was so bad, so dark, so lost in crime and violence it didn’t have a name…we simply called it the Point. It was the ending point, the breaking point, the point of no return…it was simply a place where only the strong survived and anyone else was bound to die trying.

A MUST-MEET ROMANCE & SERIES!

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 heart-racing ‘all the respect’ stars

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Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess who called a corrupt kingdom home sweet home.  

Protected and sheltered from the worst the world had to offer, she fell in love with the crumbling city that burned and blazed around her. Every dirty corner, every scary shadow, found a place within her heart. So did a man who was violent and dangerous, just like the streets she claimed as her own.  

He was all business and brutality, except when it came to her. With her, he was calm, caring, and heartbreakingly patient.

He warned her over and over that he wasn’t the man for her, but she refused to listen. She never expected either the streets or their enforcer to hurt her, since she’d given her heart so completely to both.

She should have known the streets in the Point were always going to be savage, and so was the man committed to keeping control of them in the hands of criminals and bloody kingpins.  

Blindsided by a betrayal which cut so deeply she was sure the wounds would never heal, the princess fled the home she loved and the man who broke her heart. Throwing away her rusted, twisted crown was supposed to help her forget. All it did was make her long for everything she left behind.  She told herself she would never go back, but in this tormented kingdom, family is everything. Eventually, she has no choice but to return.  

While she was gone, the people who loved her worked hard to make the city safe, and the man who destroyed her sank deeper into the darkness. Going back shouldn’t feel like surrender… but it does. As this pretty princess hovers on the edge of the unknown, the past attacks with a vengeance. It’s a good reminder that puppy love eventually grows up and turns into something with sharp teeth and one hell of a bite.    

She never asked for the keys to the kingdom. She’d much rather go out and build her own.

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~Karsen~

I had no plans to leave the Point. It was ugly, mean, hard, and unforgiving, but these streets were home and I couldn’t imagine being happy anywhere else. This place had long since made my hands and the edges of my soul dirty. It was something I would be hard-pressed to hide should I go anywhere else. I’d have to spend my days trying to camouflage the filth I was so familiar with. Here, no one looked twice at the pretty teenager with shadows in her eyes and blood on her hands. I was one of many.

I wasn’t interested in leaving behind my sister or her fiancé, Race. We were an odd, dysfunctional family, but we made it work.

I didn’t want to be too far away from my mother, who was living in a group home as she slowly, painfully tried to recover from her alcoholism and PTSD from an accident she caused that ended up taking the life of a young mother and her child.

But more than anything, I absolutely didn’t want to leave him.

I couldn’t imagine a day going by without catching a glimpse of Noah Booker. I mean, he was impossible to miss. Six-and-a-half-feet tall, body built like a professional athlete, dark and brooding with the prettiest gunmetal-gray eyes, he was the entirety of every one of my teenage fantasies. I barely noticed the jagged scar dividing one side of his face. White and raised, it cut one of his black eyebrows in half, slashed over a high cheekbone, and ended somewhere under the chiseled edge of his hard jaw. He never talked about it, but Race, Booker’s boss, let it slip that Booker got the scar when he was locked up. Or maybe it wasn’t as much of a slip-up as a thinly veiled warning. Race never kept it much of a secret that my infatuation with his massive, dangerous, ex-con enforcer made him extremely uncomfortable. He’d warned me over and over again that Booker wasn’t for me. And he’d made it clear to the man who broke knees and smashed heads for a living that he was to stay as far away from me as possible.

They called it puppy love. It wasn’t.

To me, it was a vicious kind of love, filled with teeth and claws that I could feel digging at my insides every single time someone patted me on the head and told me how young I was, how much life I had yet to live. This love was rabid, and I was tired of having it on a leash. I wanted to let it free, wanted to let it sink its razor-sharp fangs into the man who had awoken the primal need inside of me. It was only fair he felt the same kind of crushing bite and painful pressure around his heart that I did every single day.

I was solely focused on getting to Booker. It barely registered I was done with high school and had new doors opening all around me. I couldn’t care less about getting my hands on my diploma. A piece of paper with Karsen Carter written on it in pretty calligraphy meant exactly nothing to me. The only thing I was focused on was the fact I was finally old enough to make my own choices. And I’d always picked Booker. Over and over again he was my number one priority.

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Grab your copy today!

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2KvqGEe 

Paperback: http://bit.ly/RespectPB 

Audible: http://bit.ly/RespectAudible 

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/BNRespect 

iBooks: http://bit.ly/RespectiBook 

Kobo: http://bit.ly/RespectKobo 

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Jay Crownover is the international and multiple New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men Series, The Saints of Denver Series, the Point Series, the Breaking Point Series, and the Getaway Series. Her
books can be found translated in many different languages all around the world. She is a tattooed, crazy haired Colorado native who lives at the base of the Rockies with her awesome dogs. This is where she can frequently be found enjoying a cold beer and Taco Tuesdays. Jay is a self-declared music snob and outspoken book lover who is always looking for her next adventure, between the pages and on the road.

Website: http://www.jaycrownover.com/
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Moody monochrome view of Staple street skybridge by night, in Tribeca, New York City

Review – As Dust Dances by Samantha Young

As Dust Dances Cover

As Dust Dances by Samantha Young

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Music is the outburst of the soul.

There is nothing more moving than a tale threaded with music. Music that complements and completes the story. Music that makes the story. Music is the key to the heart and soul, and Samantha Young unlocks and unleashes a musical concert of feels in As Dust Dances. From beginning to end, Samantha Young paints a stunning story in vivid detail that hits the heart and sings to the soul. So broken. So brave. So breathtaking. So beautiful.

I was CONSUMED with this romance that’s so raw, so real, and so riveting. Samantha Young brings the reader in—not just with the compelling characters—but with pointed questions, adding another layer of realism to this tale. This heartfelt tale held me captive. An addiction I couldn’t put down. A story I couldn’t let go . . . wouldn’t let go. I ignored real life as I was sucked into a heartbreakingly beautiful world of broken characters, moving music, and a love story of strength and survival with all the feels.

I can’t find all the pieces that used to be me.

Set in Scotland, As Dust Dances is the slow-burning love story of a former pop-rock star who fled America to escape—merely exists as shattered pieces of herself—and the music producer who helps make her whole. Killian and Skylar are perfectly imperfect but perfection together. I felt their story as if it were my own.

I’d never met a man who actually smoldered until Killian O’Dea.

With broken and beautiful characters with off-the-charts chemistry, a moving and musically-threaded storyline, fire-hot and fiery angst, and words so full of feels, As Dust Dances is a journey of the heart and soul. A slow burn of heat and heart. A story of two broken characters stuck in a dark, black and white world, who finally see color. A story of strength and survival. A story of heartbreak, hope, and healing. A story of rising after falling. A story that’s EVERYTHING.

”You’re mine, Skylar Finch. I think somehow I’ve always felt like you were mine.”

This story spoke to me like a song where I felt every word—so broken yet so beautiful—as it sang to my soul. My heart was hit so hard that it both shattered and soared. As Dust Dances is an EXPLOSION of FEELS that I felt everywhere. I felt every word. I FELT EVERYTHING! This broken and beautiful musically-threaded tale MOVED ME SO MUCH!

”I know I don’t yet, but I’ll do everything in my power to try to deserve you.”

As Dust Dances is so powerful and poignant. PURE MAGIC. This heart-stopping romance brings all the feels. I felt every word!!! I cried tears of sorrow, tears of hope, and tears of joy in a tale that touched every part of my heart. My heart was so full that it exploded! I LOVED this story so much! As Dust Dances is still dancing in my heart and singing to my soul.

A MUST-READ romance!!!

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 soul-singing stars

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Once upon a time Skylar Finch was the lead singer of a hugely successful American pop-rock band. But fame made her miserable. When years of living a lie suddenly ended in tragedy, Skylar fell off the map.

Eighteen months later she’s sleeping in a tent in a cemetery in Glasgow, making just enough money to eat by busking on the streets. She manages to avoid recognition, but not the attention of one of Glasgow’s ambitious A&R executives.

Killian O’Dea works at Skyscraper Records, Scotland’s most successful record label. Raised by his uncle and owner of the label, Killian’s upbringing would have been devoid of affection entirely if it wasn’t for his loving sister. Killian is unflinchingly determined to bring the label more success than ever, and the young homeless woman who busks on Buchanan Street is going to help him do that. Her music speaks to him in a way he refuses to over-analyze. All he knows is that if it can touch his dark soul, it’ll set everyone else’s alight.

Skylar makes it clear that she doesn’t want to sign with him. But when she experiences the dangerous reality of a woman sleeping rough, Skylar has no one else but Killian to turn to. An undeniable connection forms between them. But Skylar doesn’t want the career Killian is trying to forge for her, and when her past comes back to haunt her Killian will be faced with a decision that could ruin him. He must either free Skylar from his selfish machinations and destroy everything he’s ever worked for, or lose a woman who has come to mean more to him than he ever thought possible…

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Review – Filthy Lies by Raine Miller

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Filthy Lies by Raine Miller

My rating: 6 of 5 stars

AHHHH! I can’t stop smiling. I can’t stop sighing. I can’t stop swooning. I can’t stop feeling and loving Filthy Lies! Ever since I met Naked over four years ago, the first book in The Blackstone Affair series by Raine Miller, I’ve been bewitched! I’ve loved this series from the very first page—from Ethan and Brynne to James and Winter—and will never get enough! Heart meets heat in Filthy Lies, a deliciously dirty, decadent and heart-stopping sensation that will render you breathless, addicted, and aching for more.


Winter Blackstone was my kryptonite.

I was so CONSUMED with this romance! I nearly 5 starred Filthy Lies from its enticing and intoxicating Prologue alone that had me screaming for more! This story sparks with sexual tension. The build-up is fire that blazes through the body. So off-the-charts hot. So delicious and divine. A slow burn of scorching desire and soul. I scorched and I swooned. Filthy Lies lit my body, heart, and soul on fire! I BURNED while devouring this book! So heady. So hot. So heartfelt. So everything. I MELTED FOR MORE.

I was so lost in him. I always had been.

This story is SEXY with strong characters that captivate from beginning to end. Raine Miller has written one of the hottest and heart-pounding heroes along with one of the kindest, biggest-hearted heroines ever.I wanted to be Winter Blackstone, a woman I had to admire and one I wished I could be. James is as caring as he is dominant and delicious. I adored Winter and James’ melt-my-heart romance so much—the steam, the struggle, the swoon, and the forever love of soulmates that shines bright—that I didn’t want it to end. I was WHOLEHEARTEDLY ENAMORED with this heartfelt hero and heroine with history who ENGRAVED MY HEART.

”You’re a saint and I’m a sinner.”

The off-the-charts chemistry, the pent-up passion, the promise of more, the love that was buried but brought to life, the sexy and swoon, and heart and soul make Filthy Lies the PERFECT ROMANCE. I LOVED being wrapped up in Raine Miller’s words again. Raine Miller’s writing is always superior—stories like Filthy Lies I’ll always blindly one-click because this author is a master storyteller that slays romance! Just YES!!! Spellbinding, sinfully sexy, and soul-stirring, Filthy Lies is a can’t-put-down story that swept me away where I’m basking in the most blissful of book comas. ROMANCE BLISS!!!

”Tell me right now what you want, Winter.”

“I want you.”

Hands down, Filthy Lies is a TOP 2018 and MUST-READ ROMANCE!

💋💋💋💋💋💋 fierce, forever, and fated kisses

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On the day I turned fifteen years old I knew I loved James Blakney. There was a look in his eye that told me he’d finally noticed I existed in a realm beyond best-friend’s-much-younger-off-limits-don’t-even-think-about-it-little-sister. Call it womanly intuition, despite the fact I was barely qualified for being an actual woman at just fifteen—and only in the biological sense—but still, I knew I loved him.

What I never expected from him was a proposal of marriage nearly eight years later. I know it’s not supposed to be a real marriage, but James is certainly making it feel that way.

He’s also hiding something from me.

But I’ve hidden the truth from him as well.

Lies.

So many filthy lies.

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Review – A Girl Like Lilac by Victoria L. James

A Girl Like Lilac by Victoria L. James

My rating: 6 of 5 stars


Less worrying, more living.

Have you ever read a book that has moved you so much and means more than you can pen into words? I’m just a girl, crying into her kindle, mourning the end of a story I wanted to feel forever. Victoria L. James wrote such a stunning story of forever love that there are not enough words to express my love for A Girl Like Lilac. I was MESMERIZED—so UNEQUIVOCALLY MOVED—by A Girl Like Lilac., a story I LOVED so much! This tale took my breath. Took my soul. Took my heart. Took all of me. A Girl Like Lilac. is so broken and beautiful—I was BESOTTED with this book!

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Once I started this stunning story, I didn’t want to stop. I knew right away that this story was SPECIAL; A Girl Like Lilac is the kind of story that sticks, the soul-stirring type that stays long after the last page is turned. I knew this tale would hold my heart in its hands forever, and I would let it take my heart as its own because A Girl Like Lilac OWNED ME and MY HEART FROM THE START.

I was a Hunter by name, sure. But for Lilac Clarke, without even realising it, I’d become a protector at heart.

What an aspiring novel with an engaging voice, a powerful and poignant plot, and some sensational and soulful writing! A Girl Like Lilac paints a pretty picture where each emotion is a color, so bold, so beautiful, and so bright. This tale is flawlessly executed with characters that are caring, charismatic, and compelling. I adored this hero and heroine so much! Lilac is as beautiful and bold inside as she is outside. Toby is a knight in shingling armor, the definition of hero, as cute as he is kind. Lilac and Toby are both so beautiful and brave with hearts of gold. They melt together and are true soulmates. I felt their connection course through the pages, penetrating me everywhere. It felt like this hero and heroine lived a thousand lives together.

”I’m not worth that kind of trouble.”

“You’re worth a war, Lilac.”

As this story told its truths, bits of wisdom dispersed through the pages, I felt wiser. I found myself clapping for justice against injustice. I found myself high-fiving the strong hero and heroine in my head . . . so many times. I found myself crying for words that spun my soul around, nearly knocking my heart out of my chest, a heart that beat for every word of this beautifully broken book. I found every feel in a story that is EVERYTHING!

”It will always be you, Lilac.”

A HEARTBREAKINGLY BEAUTIFUL coming-of-age journey, A Girl Like Lilac sparks with magic, hugging the heart while singing to the soul. A Girl Like Lilac is one of the most EXQUISITE and EXTRAORDINARY love stories I’ve ever met! This story made me melt . . . made me break . . . made me think . . . made me feel. I cried tears of joy and tears of sorrow. A Girl Like Lilac made my HEART BLEED and my SOUL SOAR, and I can’t stop feeling this romance. This beauty in words will hug me for life.

”You look like a man who’s been to war.”

“You were worth every second of it.”

Somehow . . . some way . . . Bryan Adams’ Robin Hood lyrics played in my head while reading, so perfect, so perfect for this journey.

Oh you can’t tell me it’s not worth tryin’ for
I can’t help it there’s nothin’ I want more
Yeah, I would fight for you
I’d lie for you
Walk the wire for you, yeah, I’d die for you
You know it’s true
Everything I do

Oh, I do it for you

This is a top 2018 and lifetime read! A Girl Like Lilac is YA AT ITS BEST! All the amazing stars already! All the first and last kisses! All the things!

There’s a pleasure to being alive few of us notice, no matter how long we live.

💋💋💋💋💋💋 first and forever kisses

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The first time Toby Hunter got arrested for defending Lilac Clarke’s honour, he was only fifteen years old, but he’d loved her from behind his black-rimmed glasses for as long as he could remember.

With a desperate need to protect her from a distance, one arrest turned to two, two soon turning into three, and before Toby knew what was happening, the sleepy village of Southwold was turning against him for daring to stand up for a girl like Lilac.

Beautiful Lilac with her flowers in her hair, her camera in her hands, and her sweet, pink, sugary-lipped kisses.

They could hate him for loving her all they wanted. Toby was a boy who did what was right, not what was easy, and he was always going to grow to be the man willing to give her what she deserved.

Even if that meant losing Lilac forever.

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Victoria L. James is a teenage girl stuck inside a thirty-something-year-old’s body. A Corona and nacho appreciator with a ridiculous obsession for all things Rocky Balboa, she currently lives in Yorkshire, England, with her husband and two baby boys. Having had a strong passion for words and stories going as far back as she can remember, she credits her love of literature to her Grandma Bess who taught her that you don’t need a lot of money to travel to different worlds, experience new places, and live a thousand lives.

She currently writes on her own as Victoria L. James, with her friend L.J. Stock on the Babylon MC Series, and is due to publish her Vicki James collection in 2018. To keep up to date on her latest news you can join Victoria’s FB reader group for exclusive material.

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Audio Tour – Someone To Call My Own by Aimee Nicole Walker

5 out of 5 stars

Aimee strikes again with another 5 star read that captures your heart and soul. We’ve met these characters in the Curl Up And Dye series, and, as with all Aimee’s book, you fall in love with the secondary characters and are ecstatic for them to get their own story.

Two broken souls on a winding road on the path to each other. The only problem is they both have to be on board for a relationship to work. We get to go on the rollercoaster of emotions as we watch this romance evolve. It’s worth every single second!

I have both read and listened to the audio book. I have to say, that the book is excellent to read, but the narration really brings the story to life. The he narrator can make or break an audio book, and it’s safe to say Joel Leslie nailed it as always!

SOMEONE TO CALL MY OWN

Road to Blissville Series, Book 2

AIMEE NICOLE WALKER

M/M ROMANCE

AUDIO RELEASE: 06.19.18

PHOTOGRAPHER: Wander Aguiar

COVER ARTIST: Jay Aheer/Simply Defined Art

NARRATOR: Joel Leslie

Listening Length: 8 hours and 49 minutes

BLURB

Psychic Emory Jackson and former black ops specialist Jonathon Silver are men from two completely different worlds with one thing in common: heartbreak. Emory still mourns the loss of his husband five years prior, and Jon is reeling with grief from the recent death of his twin brother.

Sparks fly when mutual friends introduce them, but it’s so much more than basic attraction. There’s an undeniable awareness and a sense of belonging that neither man can deny. Despite Emory’s premonition of a future with Jon, he has vowed never to love again. Jon is convinced that his tainted soul is the reason he will never have someone to call his own. What if they’re both wrong?

Maybe these broken men with their jagged edges could somehow align perfectly to form something whole and beautiful. But will that realization come too late for them?

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AMAZON UK: http://amzn.to/2xIi2g6

“What are you doing here, Emory?”

“I think you know.”

“I have a pretty good idea, but what has changed since I left Blissville forty minutes ago?”

“Nothing,” I answered honestly. “I don’t love you, Jon.”

“Yet,” he corrected. “You don’t love me yet.” He reached for my hand and slid his fingers in between mine. “If you walk across that threshold with me, I’m going to push you up against the nearest surface and fuck you. Probably more than once. Can you live with that?”

His words sent an electrical current racing through my body. My dick hardened fast and almost painfully beneath my tight briefs. No one had ever talked dirty to me or tried to dominate me, but it ignited something inside me like he was holding a lit match near gasoline fumes. In Jon’s eyes, I saw the raw need that burned through him just as strong as it did me.

“Take me inside.”

Jon didn’t ask me if I was sure; he gripped my hand tightly and pulled me up the broad, stone steps to the front porch. I expected him to drop my hand to unlock the front door, but he hit a few numbers on a keypad with his left hand before twisting the knob to let us inside.

I had caught a brief glimpse of the living room beyond the foyer before Jon turned to me. He didn’t even bother shutting the door before he backed me up against the foyer table. Jon’s hands immediately went to my neck to loosen my tie while he swooped down and captured my lips in a hard, demanding kiss. He released a torrent of emotions he’d repressed since we met, and I tasted each one on his tongue.

I am a wife and mother to three kids, three dogs, and a cat. When I’m not dreaming up stories, I like to lose myself in a good book, cook or bake. I’m a girly tomboy

who paints her fingernails while watching sports and yelling at the referees.

I will always choose the book over the movie. I believe in happily-ever-after. Love inspires everything that I do. Music keeps me sane.

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Joel Leslie/Narrator

Joel Leslie is a UK transplant, growing up with American parents in a British commonwealth. A classically trained actor with an MFA in theatre from USC, he is often cast for his unique ability to deliver native, authentic combinations of American and British sounds. His great range and ability to bring characters to life with honesty, wit and versatility delights producers and listeners alike.

He is proud to have a strong following with m/m listeners and an ongoing relationship with some of the finest writers in the genre. He loves that every day he gets to share these beautiful, inspirational and empowering GLBT characters with the world.

His authors have praised him as “a narrator among narrators, a man whose ability to create different characters rests on the power of his voice and his impeccable delivery,” and a “true delight…” “his professionalism, good humor, and charm make him a dream to work with,” “Anyone else would only be second best”.

Joel has consistent access to his home studio for all production needs. When not in the booth he spends his time chasing after two loquacious wiener dogs.

http://www.joelleslienarration.com/

Review – Rock Legend by Tara Leigh

5 out of 5 stars

Tara Leigh struck again with another home run read. I love second chance romance. Pair that with a rock star, and you’re in for one heck of a ride! Tara’s words suck you into another world as you feel like you’re riding this roller coaster ride of emotions! I would definitely recommend setting aside enough time to read the whole book because once you start, there’s no putting it down!

Landon had a rough past. With all that he went through as a child, it’s not surprising all the baggage he carries around. He’s that bad boy that you can’t help but love.

From book 1, I didn’t like Piper at all. She totally redeemed herself in this book though. The ups and downs she experiences with Landon really makes her deserving of a life of happiness.

This book is full of angst, heartbreak, tears, and scorching hot scenes. It’s a perfect read that you must read! You can read it without book 1 but I sincerely recommend reading book 1 at some point. Tara has once again proven why she is a must read author for me.

Fans of Kristen Callihan, L.J. Shen, and Kylie Scott will scream for this sizzling bad boy rock star romance!

I’m no Prince Charming.

Most people know me as the drummer for Nothing but Trouble. Depending who you ask, I’m also a playboy, a loner, the life of the party, a screw-up, or according to my fans, “The Sexiest Rock Star on the Planet.” Apparently, I’m a legend.

Am I surprised? Hell, no. It’s a reputation I’ve earned behind my drum kit and behind closed doors. No one thought foster kid Landon Cox would become famous. Infamous, maybe. Notorious, probably. But successful? Never. No one except Piper Hastings. But I had to make a choice: my woman or my career. I picked fame and fortune… and spent every damn day since pretending I don’t regret it.

Now fate’s dropped Piper back into my life. I want to believe it’s a second chance for me – for us. But while I can give her a few great nights, I can’t give Piper a future.

Because there’s a difference between a legend and a fairy tale…
Only one of them ends happily ever after.

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Tara Leigh writes steamy contemporary romance featuring tortured heroes worth lusting after and the women they didn’t know they needed. She attended Washington University in St. Louis and Columbia Business School in New York, and worked on Wall Street and Main Street before “retiring” to become a wife and mother. When the people in her head became just as real as the people in her life, she decided to put their stories on paper. Tara currently lives in Fairfield County, Connecticut with her husband, children and fur-baby, Pixie.

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Review – Broken Love Story by Natasha Madison

6 out of 5 stars
6 stars
I’ve come to expect nothing but greatness from Natasha Madison, but every time she still blows my mind. This book will take you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions, heartache, lies, betrayal, and all consuming love. One of the most beautifully emotional stories of the year. Natasha can do no wrong!
Watching these 2 battle through loss, heartache, and the ultimate betrayal was gutwrenching and so worth every second. The way they navigate life and do it together all the while slowly building that slow burn will take your breath away. When we get to their HEA, it’s like fireworks on the 4th of July, a true celebration of freedom from the hurts of the past.
I really can’t say enough to express how much I love this book and these characters, but also Natasha! She has once again proven why she is one of my top must read authors!!

Samantha:

I had the perfect life; a husband who loved me, and two kids who were my world.

Until someone else answered his phone and my perfect life shattered.

When he died, I was left with answers he couldn’t give me and a box full of lies.

He left me broken.

Blake:

I fell in love when I was fifteen, knowing she was the one.

For five years, she was my everything—my every breath, every heartbeat, every thought.

She made me promise to move on, promise to find love again, but I broke those promises because I can’t move on.

Two broken souls brought together by tragedy and heartbreak.

Can a broken love story be fixed?

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In the Series:

Perfect Love Story – Available Now – Kindle Unlimited

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Samantha

Standing in front of the full-length mirror in my room, I smooth down my black skirt. My blond hair is tied up in a ponytail, my cheeks are sunken in more than normal, and the blackness around my eyes indicates I haven’t slept well since this whole thing happened. Since I found out that not only did my husband die, but that he also married someone else.

I sit on the made bed and look down at my wedding band. My thumb of my right hand touches it, and the lone tear that falls out of my eye lands straight on it. “Mommy.” I look back at Lizzie, who is standing in the doorway wearing a black one-piece dress similar to mine with ballerina flats.

My mother-in-law went shopping yesterday and bought us all new outfits for today. “We need to put our best foot forward,” she said as I watched her walk in with the six bags. “We can’t let people talk.”

I turned around and walked out of the room, going upstairs. Shutting myself in my bathroom with my back against the door, I cried quietly, trying to hide my sobs. “We can’t let people talk,” I whispered to myself. The hatred I had begun feeling when I remembered my husband.

Lizzie walks to the side of my bed and sits next to me. “I hate this dress,” she says when I put my hand around her shoulder and bring her to me, kissing her head.

“I know, baby,” I whisper, “but after today, it’s going to be all over.”

“That’s what Grandpa A said.” She mentions the name she calls my father-in-law. Grandpa A because you can’t get better than an A.

“Is everyone ready?” I hear Ethan yell from downstairs. “The limo is picking us up in twenty.”

“Let’s go, baby,” I tell her, getting up and holding her hand while we walk downstairs. My in-laws are both sitting in the kitchen. My mother-in-law in a black skirt and top while my father-in-law has on a black suit. “Where is Daisy?” I ask them.

“Elliot is upstairs changing her. She spilled milk on her dress,” Judy tells me, looking at Lizzie. “You look like such a big girl.” She blinks her tears away.

Elliot comes down the stairs with Daisy on his hip, smiling at me when he walks in. “Okay, you girls go sit in the living room while us grown-ups talk,” my father-in-law says, and the girls both know to leave the room. When he knows they are both out of earshot, he starts. “Today is going to be tough, tough for us all, but we have to stand together. We have to be the family that we are.” I lean against the counter while he talks. “The situation with the other one has been taken care of, and she has been served papers.” I look at him and then at Elliot and Ethan, both of them looking down when our eyes meet. It’s almost as if they feel guilty for meeting this woman. My father-in-law continues, “After all this is done today, we are meeting with the lawyers in person, so we can go over the will, start the paperwork for the insurance, and make sure she doesn’t touch a thing that belongs to him.” I stop listening at this point, turning to look out the window at the backyard.

The swing set that he built in one day to make sure the kids could use it when he left the next day. The patio set he had delivered to us, so I could have somewhere to sit while I watched the girls while he was living with another woman. I shake my head, walking out of the room. I sit on the couch, and the girls come to sit next to me, one on each side. “Today is going to be really hard,” I whisper to them, “but we have to be strong for Daddy.” They both look at me, their eyes exactly like their father’s. “But, if at any time, you need to leave or you need me… I don’t care who is talking to me or who is around; you come and get me.”

“Grandpa A said we had to sit and wait,” Daisy whispers just as Elliot comes into the room and kneels in front of us.

“What is this meeting about?” he asks, smiling at us. The circles around his eyes are just as black as ours. He hasn’t left our house since this happened.

“Mommy said if we need her that we can go to her,” Daisy says, looking at him and then me, “even if Grandpa A said no.”

He leans in, whispering, “You can come to me too, and I’ll make sure that you get Mommy.”

“Okay,” Lizzie and Daisy both whisper at the same time, and then the doorbell rings.

We get up, put our jackets on, and one by one file into the black limo that has come to take us to the funeral home. We arrive before everyone else. “We get an hour with him, and then they will open the door,” Adrian says as Judy grabs her tissue and dabs her eyes.

I look around the funeral home. I’m not sure what I’m looking for, not sure where he is. I haven’t seen him since he kissed me goodbye four days earlier. His last words to me were, “Call you when I can.” That phone call never came.

I follow my in-laws to the big brown door that is closed. “I want to go in before the girls.” Everyone turns to look at me.

“We can keep them in the lobby,” says the lady who greeted us at the door. She told me her name, but I just didn’t listen.

I nod at her as she turns to ask the girls if they want hot chocolate. Daisy’s eyes get big as Lizzie turns to look at me. I nod my head, giving her permission, so she can go with the woman.

The doors open, and I don’t even know what to expect. I’ve never been to a funeral. Never known anyone well enough to pay my last respects. Judy and Adrian walk in first, followed by Ethan, and Elliot waits with me. I step foot into the room, and it’s so cold that I shiver. The smell of flowers hits me right away, making me turn my head. The number of flowers and wreaths shocks me; the whole room is almost full. Some wreaths blocking others. Rows and rows of brown chairs line the room, all facing toward the front of the room. My eyes land on the brown wooden casket at the front of the room. The open half showing you the white satin inside. I walk down the aisle toward him, and then my eyes land on him. Eric. I can’t take another step forward because my knees give out, and I fall. Elliot isn’t fast enough to hold me up, and my knee lands with a thud. But the pain doesn’t matter because nothing could take the place of the pain in my heart. The sound of wailing fills the room as I look up at my dead husband.

I feel arms around me; I feel myself lifted; I feel myself almost floating. He isn’t the Eric who kissed me goodbye; he isn’t the Eric who I made promises to; he isn’t the Eric who made all my dreams come true. This isn’t him.

The man with makeup caked on his face isn’t my Eric. My sobs overtake my body as I look at him, expecting him to open his eyes. Expecting something, anything but this. “I want the casket closed,” I say, my voice soft. “I want it closed.”

“Samantha,” my father-in-law starts, “it’s—”

I shake my head. “I don’t want the kids to see him like that,” I say softly. I know that for me they wouldn’t even consider it, but for the girls, they would move heaven and earth. “They need to remember him alive and smiling, not like that,” I say, pointing at the casket.

“Dad,” Ethan says after me, “I agree.”

“Me too,” Elliot says from beside me. “Close it.”

He just nods at us, then walks to the man standing in the corner. The man looks at him as they have a hushed conversation and then just nods his head. “Do you need some water?” Ethan says to me, and I nod. I don’t bother listening to what else he says; instead, I get up and go to the casket. Standing before the brown box, I look at him, really look at him. You see some bruising under the makeup, and his nose is a little swollen. His hands are folded over his stomach, resting on his black suit. The suit he wore when we got married. Why? I ask him in my own head. Why did you do it? I ask him, hoping I can hear him whisper something to me, whisper anything back. To answer my questions, to give me something; anything to make me understand why he did what he did. Why he left me with so many fucking questions and not one answer.

The man comes over to close the casket. Eric’s face disappears slowly, the shadow filling his face till the casket finally shuts. “I’m sorry for your loss,” the man says, nodding at me. “If at any time you want it open, we can open it back up.” I turn around now, looking at the chairs that will fill up as soon as the people start coming in. Ethan consoles my mother-in-law, and Elliot stands where we were just sitting, his hands in his pockets.

“I’m getting the girls,” I tell them and then walk out with my head held high but my shoulders slumped. Defeated is a word that you use so many times not really understanding what can actually defeat you. I know now, my husband dying, him cheating on me, my kids without a father, my dreams of growing old with him gone. Beaten straight down to my core, straight down to my bones.

I walk over to them as they look up. “Let’s go, girls,” I tell them as they both get up and walk to me. Lizzie takes one hand, Daisy takes the other, and we walk back into the room that holds a piece of our hearts. The room where their father lies, with no answers and no tomorrow.

We stand in that room for four hours while people come up to me and give me their condolences. I nod my head and play the part of the grieving wife. I am the grieving wife, but I’m also the wife whose husband didn’t love her enough to just be with her. The wife who knew her husband was slipping away but couldn’t catch it in time. The wife he said he would love and protect. The wife who stands here between his girls wishing that for one second he suffered horribly. The wife who has to pick up the fucking pieces and lie to her girls about what a great guy he was. The wife who, at the end of the day, just wasn’t good enough.

We listen as people tell us how amazing he was, how much he loved his family, and how much he loved his girls. The whole time, I’m yelling on the inside, ready to stand in the middle of the room, throw my head back, and yell at the top of my lungs. But I don’t do what I want. I don’t tell them what a fraud my husband was. I don’t tell them that it was almost all lies. I don’t tell them that the day he died, they called his other wife and not me. I don’t tell them that I wasn’t the one with him when he died.

I stand here thinking about this other person—his other wife—and wonder how she would handle this. How she would be with my in-laws. Would she just let them control her and do everything for her? Would she want it to be open and weep for him beside the casket instead of standing next to it?

I look around the room at all the people who came to pay their respects, and my eyes find someone I’ve never met before. Someone I’ve never seen before, and our eyes connect. His green eyes stare into mine as I watch him nod to me and turn to walk out. As he walks out of the crowded room, I strain my neck to watch his back. I don’t have long to think because Elliot comes up and whispers, “It’s time.”

When her nose isn’t buried in a book, or her fingers flying across a keyboard writing, she’s in the kitchen creating gourmet meals. You can find her, in four inch heels no less, in the car chauffeuring kids, or possibly with her husband scheduling his business trips. It’s a good thing her characters do what she says, because even her Labrador doesn’t listen to her…

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Review – All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover

All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



”If you only shine light on your flaws, all your perfects will dim.”

Sometimes you read a story that knocks you off your axis, so unbelievably amazing that you’ll never be prepared for the force of feels that strikes from this journey you’ll forever feel. All Your Perfects is a book I never expected to knock me off my axis, but one that hit my heart so hard as it struck my soul. Colleen Hoover takes a deep dive into marriage territory with All Your Perfects, a book so broken, so brutally honest, and so beautiful that it nearly brought me to my knees. All Your Perfects broke me in the best way and BLEW ME AWAY!

Emotionally rich and relatable, All Your Perfects connected to me from the start, one that tore at my heart with words that stole my soul, stomping on it with each breath. I was ENRAPTURED with this story! I WAS RENDERED POWERLESS to All Your Perfects’ power—this force of feels that awakened everything inside of me. My heart both raced and ached, beating so hard yet breaking so hard too. I wanted to hug someone. I wanted to punch someone. I wanted to sob for everyone. I cried for everyone. I felt it all.

It’s strange how I can miss a person who is still here.

No marriage is perfect. Through All Your Perfects, Colleen Hoover shines a light on the imperfections, struggles that many couples face, and brings an emotional depth that it is so real that it’s sometimes hard to read. Told through a struggling wife of a heroine, All Your Perfects shows the imperfections of marriage—the ups and downs, and the storms under the umbrella of love—and makes you feel every emotion this couple endures. All Your Perfects is so achingly honest and personal that it feels like an invasion upon reading. Deep. Dynamic. Devastatingly beautiful.I could not help but feel every emotion that this hero and heroine did. Their marriage became mine too.

”I hate you right now.”

Ironically, my husband of almost 24 years, my teenage love, and I had a fight shortly before I picked up All Your Perfects to read. The fight wasn’t major but it still was meaningful. Reading this story, though the particulars are different, emphasized both a struggle and a triumph I already knew: Marriage is your home that’s sometimes hit with hurricanes. You have to do your best to weather those storms, putting everything you have into saving your home. That’s what All Your Perfects is about: weathering those storms while holding onto and fighting for your home—all while remembering the foundation of your home and the glue that holds you together. Without the rain, there wouldn’t be rainbows. The imperfects make the perfects more meaningful … more real … more everything.

I’m not sure anyone had ever made me feel as beautiful as he makes he feel when he looks at me.

No one writes complex relationships in the most raw and real of ways—messy love at its best—like Colleen Hoover. No one. A deep dive into marriage territory that tackles tough issues, All Your Perfects is about as real as you can get. It’s so believable, so broken, and so breathtaking that I couldn’t put it down. It may just be my favorite book of this author’s to date. Colleen Hoover has truly outdone herself in All Your Perfects, a tear-jerking journey of marriage that shines an honest light on the perfects and the imperfects, and stamps a forever mark on the heart and soul. All Your Perfects is EXTRAORDINARY, an EMOTIONAL JOURNEY that has left a lifelong mark on my heart and soul.

”I love you. I always have. No matter how much you wish I didn’t.”

This soul stunner of a story turned me into a bawling baby where I sobbed so hard that I shook like an earthquake. I seriously cried straight up UGLY TEARS, tears that touched my kindle. All Your Perfects is ALL THE THINGS! It wowed the woman in me. It wrecked the wife in me. It’s gripping. It’s gut-wrenching. It’s messy. It’s moving. It’s meaningful. It’s broken. It’s beautiful. It’s so raw that it feels real. All Your Perfects is a Category 5 hurricane that hit my heart so hard that I felt every word of this emotional journey, one that wrecked me in the most wonderful of ways. I felt everything in a story that’s everything. All Your Perfects is EVERYTHING!!!

”I promise I will love you more during the storms than I love you doing the perfect days.”

A TOP 2018 & LIFETIME READ!

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 perfectly imperfect stars

View all my reviews

Quinn and Graham’s perfect love is threatened by their imperfect marriage. The memories, mistakes, and secrets that they have built up over the years are now tearing them apart. The one thing that could save them might also be the very thing that pushes their marriage beyond the point of repair.

All Your Perfects is a profound novel about a damaged couple whose potential future hinges on promises made in the past. This is a heartbreaking page-turner that asks: Can a resounding love with a perfect beginning survive a lifetime between two imperfect people?

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Review – Billionaire Wake Up Call Girl by Annika Martin

5 out of 5 stars

Annika Martin has done it again. Her versatility of switching between dark and romcom is amazing. She’s one of my favorite authors and she proved why with this book.

You will laugh, cry, get angry, and so hot that you need a cold shower. I love the way Theo and Lizzy banter back and forth and slowly builds into full blown explosions!

He is determined to find the mysterious wake up caller, but she can’t let him know who she really is. Lucky for us Theo is the ever domineering alpha who ALWAYS gets what’s wants. And what he wants is that “operator. ”

This is another absolute must read from Annika Martin! You’ll be glued to your kindle until the end.

When my manager assigns me the task of finding a new wake up call service for our CEO, I think, how hard can this be?

Answer: practically impossible. It turns out that no wake-up call company in the world will take him on as a client. They’ve all had enough of his surly personality.

So in an effort not to lose my job, I secretly start making the calls myself, every day at 4:30 am sharp. OMG yes you read that right—four freaking thirty in the morning.

Confession: I’m not the nicest wake-up-call girl at that hour. Hello! Who wakes up before the roosters are even crowing? Luckily he doesn’t seem to mind my get-your-ass-out-of-bed attitude.

Day by day we’re becoming closer, and the calls start turning hot, like pay-by-the-minute hot and oh-so-wild. Snuggled under the covers with the moonlight streaming in the windows, we divulge our secrets to each other, but the one thing that he can never find out is that the sexy vixen who wakes him up every morning is just the lowly assistant who wears frumpy dresses. I can only imagine his disappointment.

Now he wants to take me out on a date and he’s scouring Manhattan to find me. He’s an overachieving billionaire bent on a mission. How much longer can I keep up this charade?

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Lizzie hasn’t even met Mr. Drummond yet, but she can already tell you all about him:

I’ve never met the notorious Mr. Drummond, but evidence of his assholery is all around.

The employees here are fearful, as though they’re expecting to be fired at any moment, or maybe beheaded. The environment is sleek gray marble and steel, like an elegant and slightly futuristic prison. No outside decorations are allowed, not even in the deepest recesses of your cubicle.

Even the outside of the building is unforgiving—a mod gray concrete bunker with rectangular windows arranged in straight rows. A study in harsh geometry.

Mr. Drummond doesn’t like decorations, my manager Sasha told me once. Vossameer is about lifesaving solutions, not party streamers.

I’d brought a giant tub of home-baked frosted cookies to share my second day, and people nearly fell out of their chairs. It turns out we can’t bring treats to share. Ever.

This is a workplace, not a potluck, Sasha said.

I’ve gotten good at sensing the jerky DNA of Mr. Drummond’s statements, and I’m pretty sure that was one of them. Same with the party streamers comment. It’s something about the sheer jerkiness of it, and also, how Sasha changes her voice to sound breathless and intense.

Everyone here is obsessed with Mr. Drummond. They seem to regard him the way the ancients regarded the gods that controlled the weather and plagues. Angry and vengeful, yet glorious. Never to be spoken ill of.

Also, nobody talks about Mr. Drummond without using the word “amazing” at least once. Maybe that’s in the employee manual somewhere.

Sasha’s obsession goes way further—more into awestruck love territory.

She speaks his name like she’s whispering hallowed secrets to the Greek oracles atop Mount Olympus—Mr. Drummond this, Mr. Drummond that. Amazing Mr. Drummond.

“Mr. Drummond is not the most sociable person in the world,” Sasha breathlessly informed me the day I started. “He has extremely high standards—for himself and for his employees—but his amazing breakthroughs save lives every day. The work we do to support him makes that possible.” And then she’d looked me deeply in the eyes and said, This is the most important job you’ll ever have.

I’d just nodded while making a mental note to stay away from any brightly colored liquid.

Meet the Author:

Annika Martin loves fun, dirty stories, hot heroes, and wild, dramatic everything. She enjoys hanging out in Minneapolis coffee shops with her writer husband, and also likes birdwatching at her bird feeder alongside her two stunningly photogenic cats, especially when she should be writing. She’s heavy into running, music, saving the planet, taking long baths, and consuming chocolate suckers. She’s worked a surprisingly large number of waitressing jobs, and has also worked in a plastics factory and the advertising trenches; her garden is total bee-friendly madness and her most unfavorite word is nosh or possibly fob. A NYT bestselling author, she has also written as RITA award-winning author Carolyn Crane.

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Review – Broken Love Story by Natasha Madison

6 out of 5 stars
6 stars
I’ve come to expect nothing but greatness from Natasha Madison, but every time she still blows my mind. This book will take you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions, heartache, lies, betrayal, and all consuming love. One of the most beautifully emotional stories of the year. Natasha can do no wrong!
Watching these 2 battle through loss, heartache, and the ultimate betrayal was gutwrenching and so worth every second. The way they navigate life and do it together all the while slowly building that slow burn will take your breath away. When we get to their HEA, it’s like fireworks on the 4th of July, a true celebration of freedom from the hurts of the past.
I really can’t say enough to express how much I love this book and these characters, but also Natasha! She has once again proven why she is one of my top must read authors!!

Samantha:

I had the perfect life; a husband who loved me, and two kids who were my world.

Until someone else answered his phone and my perfect life shattered.

When he died, I was left with answers he couldn’t give me and a box full of lies.

He left me broken.

Blake:

I fell in love when I was fifteen, knowing she was the one.

For five years, she was my everything—my every breath, every heartbeat, every thought.

She made me promise to move on, promise to find love again, but I broke those promises because I can’t move on.

Two broken souls brought together by tragedy and heartbreak.

Can a broken love story be fixed?

Broken Love Story – Pre-Order releasing July 10th
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Standing in front of the full-length mirror in my room, I smooth down my black skirt. My blond hair is tied up in a ponytail, my cheeks are sunken in more than normal, and the blackness around my eyes indicates I haven’t slept well since this whole thing happened. Since I found out that not only did my husband die, but that he also married someone else.

I sit on the made bed and look down at my wedding band. My thumb of my right hand touches it, and the lone tear that falls out of my eye lands straight on it. “Mommy.” I look back at Lizzie, who is standing in the doorway wearing a black one-piece dress similar to mine with ballerina flats.

My mother-in-law went shopping yesterday and bought us all new outfits for today. “We need to put our best foot forward,” she said as I watched her walk in with the six bags. “We can’t let people talk.”

I turned around and walked out of the room, going upstairs. Shutting myself in my bathroom with my back against the door, I cried quietly, trying to hide my sobs. “We can’t let people talk,” I whispered to myself. The hatred I had begun feeling when I remembered my husband.

Lizzie walks to the side of my bed and sits next to me. “I hate this dress,” she says when I put my hand around her shoulder and bring her to me, kissing her head.

“I know, baby,” I whisper, “but after today, it’s going to be all over.”

“That’s what Grandpa A said.” She mentions the name she calls my father-in-law. Grandpa A because you can’t get better than an A.

“Is everyone ready?” I hear Ethan yell from downstairs. “The limo is picking us up in twenty.”

“Let’s go, baby,” I tell her, getting up and holding her hand while we walk downstairs. My in-laws are both sitting in the kitchen. My mother-in-law in a black skirt and top while my father-in-law has on a black suit. “Where is Daisy?” I ask them.

“Elliot is upstairs changing her. She spilled milk on her dress,” Judy tells me, looking at Lizzie. “You look like such a big girl.” She blinks her tears away.

Elliot comes down the stairs with Daisy on his hip, smiling at me when he walks in. “Okay, you girls go sit in the living room while us grown-ups talk,” my father-in-law says, and the girls both know to leave the room. When he knows they are both out of earshot, he starts. “Today is going to be tough, tough for us all, but we have to stand together. We have to be the family that we are.” I lean against the counter while he talks. “The situation with the other one has been taken care of, and she has been served papers.” I look at him and then at Elliot and Ethan, both of them looking down when our eyes meet. It’s almost as if they feel guilty for meeting this woman. My father-in-law continues, “After all this is done today, we are meeting with the lawyers in person, so we can go over the will, start the paperwork for the insurance, and make sure she doesn’t touch a thing that belongs to him.” I stop listening at this point, turning to look out the window at the backyard.

The swing set that he built in one day to make sure the kids could use it when he left the next day. The patio set he had delivered to us, so I could have somewhere to sit while I watched the girls while he was living with another woman. I shake my head, walking out of the room. I sit on the couch, and the girls come to sit next to me, one on each side. “Today is going to be really hard,” I whisper to them, “but we have to be strong for Daddy.” They both look at me, their eyes exactly like their father’s. “But, if at any time, you need to leave or you need me… I don’t care who is talking to me or who is around; you come and get me.”

“Grandpa A said we had to sit and wait,” Daisy whispers just as Elliot comes into the room and kneels in front of us.

“What is this meeting about?” he asks, smiling at us. The circles around his eyes are just as black as ours. He hasn’t left our house since this happened.

“Mommy said if we need her that we can go to her,” Daisy says, looking at him and then me, “even if Grandpa A said no.”

He leans in, whispering, “You can come to me too, and I’ll make sure that you get Mommy.”

“Okay,” Lizzie and Daisy both whisper at the same time, and then the doorbell rings.

We get up, put our jackets on, and one by one file into the black limo that has come to take us to the funeral home. We arrive before everyone else. “We get an hour with him, and then they will open the door,” Adrian says as Judy grabs her tissue and dabs her eyes.

I look around the funeral home. I’m not sure what I’m looking for, not sure where he is. I haven’t seen him since he kissed me goodbye four days earlier. His last words to me were, “Call you when I can.” That phone call never came.

I follow my in-laws to the big brown door that is closed. “I want to go in before the girls.” Everyone turns to look at me.

“We can keep them in the lobby,” says the lady who greeted us at the door. She told me her name, but I just didn’t listen.

I nod at her as she turns to ask the girls if they want hot chocolate. Daisy’s eyes get big as Lizzie turns to look at me. I nod my head, giving her permission, so she can go with the woman.

The doors open, and I don’t even know what to expect. I’ve never been to a funeral. Never known anyone well enough to pay my last respects. Judy and Adrian walk in first, followed by Ethan, and Elliot waits with me. I step foot into the room, and it’s so cold that I shiver. The smell of flowers hits me right away, making me turn my head. The number of flowers and wreaths shocks me; the whole room is almost full. Some wreaths blocking others. Rows and rows of brown chairs line the room, all facing toward the front of the room. My eyes land on the brown wooden casket at the front of the room. The open half showing you the white satin inside. I walk down the aisle toward him, and then my eyes land on him. Eric. I can’t take another step forward because my knees give out, and I fall. Elliot isn’t fast enough to hold me up, and my knee lands with a thud. But the pain doesn’t matter because nothing could take the place of the pain in my heart. The sound of wailing fills the room as I look up at my dead husband.

I feel arms around me; I feel myself lifted; I feel myself almost floating. He isn’t the Eric who kissed me goodbye; he isn’t the Eric who I made promises to; he isn’t the Eric who made all my dreams come true. This isn’t him.

The man with makeup caked on his face isn’t my Eric. My sobs overtake my body as I look at him, expecting him to open his eyes. Expecting something, anything but this. “I want the casket closed,” I say, my voice soft. “I want it closed.”

“Samantha,” my father-in-law starts, “it’s—”

I shake my head. “I don’t want the kids to see him like that,” I say softly. I know that for me they wouldn’t even consider it, but for the girls, they would move heaven and earth. “They need to remember him alive and smiling, not like that,” I say, pointing at the casket.

“Dad,” Ethan says after me, “I agree.”

“Me too,” Elliot says from beside me. “Close it.”

He just nods at us, then walks to the man standing in the corner. The man looks at him as they have a hushed conversation and then just nods his head. “Do you need some water?” Ethan says to me, and I nod. I don’t bother listening to what else he says; instead, I get up and go to the casket. Standing before the brown box, I look at him, really look at him. You see some bruising under the makeup, and his nose is a little swollen. His hands are folded over his stomach, resting on his black suit. The suit he wore when we got married. Why? I ask him in my own head. Why did you do it? I ask him, hoping I can hear him whisper something to me, whisper anything back. To answer my questions, to give me something; anything to make me understand why he did what he did. Why he left me with so many fucking questions and not one answer.

The man comes over to close the casket. Eric’s face disappears slowly, the shadow filling his face till the casket finally shuts. “I’m sorry for your loss,” the man says, nodding at me. “If at any time you want it open, we can open it back up.” I turn around now, looking at the chairs that will fill up as soon as the people start coming in. Ethan consoles my mother-in-law, and Elliot stands where we were just sitting, his hands in his pockets.

“I’m getting the girls,” I tell them and then walk out with my head held high but my shoulders slumped. Defeated is a word that you use so many times not really understanding what can actually defeat you. I know now, my husband dying, him cheating on me, my kids without a father, my dreams of growing old with him gone. Beaten straight down to my core, straight down to my bones.

I walk over to them as they look up. “Let’s go, girls,” I tell them as they both get up and walk to me. Lizzie takes one hand, Daisy takes the other, and we walk back into the room that holds a piece of our hearts. The room where their father lies, with no answers and no tomorrow.

We stand in that room for four hours while people come up to me and give me their condolences. I nod my head and play the part of the grieving wife. I am the grieving wife, but I’m also the wife whose husband didn’t love her enough to just be with her. The wife who knew her husband was slipping away but couldn’t catch it in time. The wife he said he would love and protect. The wife who stands here between his girls wishing that for one second he suffered horribly. The wife who has to pick up the fucking pieces and lie to her girls about what a great guy he was. The wife who, at the end of the day, just wasn’t good enough.

We listen as people tell us how amazing he was, how much he loved his family, and how much he loved his girls. The whole time, I’m yelling on the inside, ready to stand in the middle of the room, throw my head back, and yell at the top of my lungs. But I don’t do what I want. I don’t tell them what a fraud my husband was. I don’t tell them that it was almost all lies. I don’t tell them that the day he died, they called his other wife and not me. I don’t tell them that I wasn’t the one with him when he died.

I stand here thinking about this other person—his other wife—and wonder how she would handle this. How she would be with my in-laws. Would she just let them control her and do everything for her? Would she want it to be open and weep for him beside the casket instead of standing next to it?

I look around the room at all the people who came to pay their respects, and my eyes find someone I’ve never met before. Someone I’ve never seen before, and our eyes connect. His green eyes stare into mine as I watch him nod to me and turn to walk out. As he walks out of the crowded room, I strain my neck to watch his back. I don’t have long to think because Elliot comes up and whispers, “It’s time.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

When her nose isn’t buried in a book, or her fingers flying across a keyboard writing, she’s in the kitchen creating gourmet meals. You can find her, in four inch heels no less, in the car chauffeuring kids, or possibly with her husband scheduling his business trips. It’s a good thing her characters do what she says, because even her Labrador doesn’t listen to her…

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