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Sweet Christmas Kisses 4

SCK4 boxed set 2

Sweet Christmas Kisses 4 Blog Tour

Usher in the holiday season with 14 heartwarming all-new, stand-alone stories from New York Times, USA Today, national bestselling, and award-winning authors. Sweet Christmas Kisses 4 takes you from the Pocono Mountains to sunny Florida, and as far away as Portugal.

Curl up with your favorite hot beverage and enjoy this sweet romance boxed set that’s sure to put you in the mood for Christmas.

InTimeforChristmasMonaRiskMona Risk, In Time for Christmas

Dr. Sylvia Reynolds promised to be at her parents’, in time for Christmas dinner, but her priorities change after she meets a motherless baby and her gorgeous uncle.

Unique Christmas_Beate BoekerBeate Boeker, Unique Christmas

Chiara hopes to spend a solitary Christmas all by herself. But when a man jumps through her office window to save her from an accident, things spin away—beyond her wildest dreams.

ChristmasWithTheCatLady-ChristineBushChristine Bush, Christmas with the Cat Lady

Carly is happy living alone in her mountain house with her cats. Can the handsome author who rents a room over the Christmas holidays change her mind?

Loving Winter -Lyn CoteLyn Cote, Loving Winter

At her cousin’s wedding, Winter Woodard, owner of her family’s garden center, isn’t expecting to meet her match in local football coach, Clay Dixon, (she isn’t IN to sports!) but he stands by her through a holiday season fraught with unexpected setbacks.

OnceUponAChristmas-DeniseDevineDenise Devine, Once Upon a Christmas

Small town girl returns home to find love and success, but can she outlast the mistakes of her past?

ChristmasinWalnutCreek-RaineEnglishRaine English, Christmas in Walnut Creek

Will a Christmas blizzard reunite a couple and give them a second chance at love?

Jean-Gordon-MacachekChristmasJean C. Gordon, A Team Macachek Christmas

Sparks fly from a Christmastime reunion of motocross racer Jesse Brewster and his ex-girlfriend Lauren Cooper. But is it the wrong time for their love?

Saving Mistletoe - Shanna HatfieldShanna Hatfield, Saving Mistletoe

A stubborn cop, a hotshot attorney, and a little girl determined to spend Christmas with her father need a miracle to make this holiday season jolly and bright.

The-Gift-of-Yesterday-Milou KoeningsMilou Koenings, The Gift of Yesterday

When Bailey returns to Green Pines to open a pastry shop, Joe Hudson sees all his Christmas wishes coming true—if only he can convince her to risk her heart again.

A Portuguese Christmas- Josie RivieraJosie Riviera, A Portuguese Christmas

The holidays—like love—can sneak up on you. And sweep you away like a riptide.

A Christmas in Montana_RoxanneRustandRoxanne Rustand, A Christmas in Montana

Kristen Weatherby goes to Montana to get her late grandmother’s house ready to sell, but finds much more than she bargained for: a house she can’t let go, a charming mountain town, and a handsome veterinarian who just might steal her heart.

ACowboyforChristmas-MagdalenaScottMagdalena Scott, A Cowboy for Christmas

Hannah Kincaid is in love with Jacob Hollingsworth, and will overcome her fear of horses and his bossy brother Michael to get a Christmas happily-ever-after with the cowboy of her dreams.

loving you at christmas- Kristin WallaceKristin Wallace, Loving You at Christmas

Annaliese Matheson is convinced she’ll never love again. This Christmas will become the opening act for her holiday happily ever after.

Puppy Love - Merrillee WhrenMerrillee Whren, Puppy Love and Mistletoe

Can a little girl and a fluffy black dog bring a reluctant couple together in a Christmas miracle?

Pre-order your copy today for just 99 cents!

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Nook: http://bit.ly/2g8xyO8

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~*~

And don’t forget to connect with the Authors at Sweet Romance Reads:

Website/Blog: http://SweetRomanceReads.com

Facebook: http://facebook.com/SweetRomanceReads

Twitter: http://twitter.com/SweetRomanceRds

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/donnafaz/sweet-romance-reads/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/123223-sweet-romance-reads

~*~

Author Bios:

Mona Risk

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author, Mona Risk, received an Outstanding Achiever Award from Affaire de Coeur Magazine. She’s a two time winner of Best Contemporary Romance of the Year from Readers Favorite; a winner of Best Romance Novel of the Year from Preditors & Editors Readers Poll; and an EPIC Award finalist. Her books have garnered: Top Pick, Outstanding Read, Sweetheart of the Week, and Best Book of the Week from various reviewers, and received two mentions in Publisher’s Weekly.

Mona lives in South Florida and has traveled to more than eighty countries on business or vacation. She writes contemporary romances, medical romance, romantic suspense, and paranormal fantasy. Sprinkled with a good dose of humor, her stories are set in the fascinating places she visited or more simply at home.

Beate Boeker

Beate Boeker is a USA Today bestselling author with a passion for books that brim over with mischief & humor. She writes sweet sophisticated romantic fiction and cozy mysteries, many of them set in beautiful Italy.

While ‘Boeker’ means ‘books’ in a German dialect, her first name Beate can be translated as ‘Happy’ . . . and with a name that reads ‘Happy Books’, what else could she do but write novels with happy endings?

Christine Bush

Christine Bush has been a storyteller all of her life. Always a lover of romance, mystery, and happy endings, it is no surprise that her novels have a lively mix of all three ingredients! Christine is a women’s advocate, and believes with all her heart that women can face the problems in their lives with courage, creativity (and often humor) and make a difference in the world.

Lyn Cote

USA Today bestselling author, Lyn Cote has written over 45 books. A Romance Writers of America RITA finalist and an American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award winner, Lyn writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense and historical novels. No matter which kind of story, her brand “Strong Women, Brave Stories” comes through. Her most recent achievement is being added to Romance Writers of America’s Honor Roll for bestselling authors.

Denise Devine

Denise Devine is a USA TODAY bestselling author who has had a passion for books since the second grade when she discovered Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. She wrote her first book, a mystery, at age thirteen and has been writing ever since.

Raine English

USA Today bestselling author Raine English always wanted to be a writer. She began her career as a journalist, but writing romance novels was her passion. Her books have won many awards, including finalling in the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart and winning the Daphne du Maurier Award. When not behind her computer, you can usually find her reading. She lives in New England with her family and two French bulldogs, Bailey and Dolly.

Jean C. Gordon

For sweet romance author Jean C. Gordon, writing is a natural extension of her love of reading. From that day in first grade when she realized t-h-e was the word “the,” she’s been reading everything she can put her hands on. A professional financial planner and financial writer, Jean is as at home writing retirement- and investment-planning advice as she is writing romance novels, but finds novels a lot more fun.

Shanna Hatfield

After spending her formative years on a farm in Eastern Oregon, hopeless romantic Shanna Hatfield turns her rural experiences into sweet historical and contemporary romances filled with sarcasm, humor, and hunky heroes.

When this USA Today bestselling author isn’t writing or covertly hiding decadent chocolate from the other occupants of her home, Shanna hangs out with her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller.

Milou Koenings

Milou Koenings is an award-winning USA Today bestselling author who writes romance because, like chocolate, stories with happy endings bring joy to the world and so make it a better place. The Gift of Yesterday is the fifth book in the Green Pines Romance series.

Josie Riviera

Josie Riviera is a USA TODAY Bestselling Author of contemporary, inspirational, and historical sweet romances that read like Hallmark movies. She lives in the Charlotte, NC, area with her wonderfully supportive husband. They share their home with an adorable Shih Tzu who constantly needs grooming and an old house forever needing renovations.

Roxanne Rustand

USA Today best-selling author Roxanne Rustand has written over thirty-five novels. She writes inspirational romantic suspense and inspirational romance For Love Inspired, and also writes sweet romance for the indie market. She lives in the country with her family, plus a menagerie of pets that sometimes find their way into her books.

Magdalena Scott

USA Today bestselling author Magdalena Scott writes sweet romance and women’s fiction with small town settings.

Kristin Wallace

Kristin is a USA Today Bestselling author of inspirational and sweet contemporary romance filled with “love, laughter and a leap of faith”. Growing up she devoured books like bags of Dove Dark Chocolate. Her first Golden Book led to Laura Ingalls Wilder, Nancy Drew, C.S. Lewis and the Sweet Valley High series. Later, she discovered romance novels and fell in love all over again. It’s no surprise that Kristin would one day try her hand at writing them. She is the author of two bestselling series, Covington Falls Chronicles (inspirational romance) and Shellwater Key Tales (contemporary romance).

Merrillee Whren

Merrillee Whren is an award-winning, USA Today bestselling author who writes inspirational romance. She is the winner of the 2003 Golden Heart Award for best inspirational romance manuscript presented by Romance Writers of America. She has also been the recipient of the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award and the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award. She is married to her own personal hero, her husband of forty- plus years, and has two grown daughters. She has lived in Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Chicago and Florida but now makes her home in the Arizona desert. She spends her free time playing tennis or walking while she does the plotting for her novels.

 

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Hunks to the Rescue

Title: Hunks to the Rescue
Authors: Margo Bond Collins, Krista Ames, Raine English, Tamara Ferguson, Aileen Harkwood, Lynda Haviland, Jody A. Kessler, Katie O’Sullivan, Constance Phillips, Stephanie Queen, Nancy Segovia, Emily Wilder, Jan Romes, Debbie White, Michelle Jo Quinn, Victoria Pinder, Deb Christie, Eli Grace, Janice Ross
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense
Release Date: June 13, 2017
Hosted by: Buoni Amici Press, LLC.

Get ready for a sexy, thrilling ride!

Who hasn’t fantasized about being rescued by a red-hot hunk? Indulge those fantasies with this box set of alpha rescuers who have a delicious talent for romance. 18 stand-alone novellas from New York Times and USA Today bestselling, and award-winning authors will steam up your nights and leave you begging for more.

Whether the hunk you lust for is military, a firefighter, first responder, FBI agent, cowboy, bad boy mafioso, or that sexy, everyday guy who plucks you from danger only to kiss you senseless, this bundle has your hero.

18 hunks. 18 heart-pounding rescues—17 brand-new, standalone stories. Get ready for a passionate and thrilling ride!

Pre-order your copy now from these retailers. Plus, we have a Buy One Box Set, Get One Box Set offer going on here through June 12. Pre-Order Hunks to the Rescue, and get Beyond Hunks for FREE now!

Hunks to the Rescue Website

Margo Bond Collins
https://margobondcollins.net/
https://www.facebook.com/MargoBondCollins

Krista Ames
http://www.kristaames.com/
https://www.facebook.com/kristaamesauthor

Raine English
http://www.raineenglish.com/
https://www.facebook.com/RaineEnglish

Tamara Ferguson
http://www.kissedbyfate.com/
https://www.facebook.com/KissedByFate?ref=hl

Aileen Harkwood
http://aileenharkwood.blogspot.com/p/newsletter-sign-up.html
https://www.facebook.com/AileenHarkwoodAuthor/

Lynda Haviland
http://www.lyndahaviland.com/
https://www.facebook.com/lyndahaviland

Jody A Kessler
http://jodyakessler.com/
http://bit.ly/2qOfY28

Katie O’Sullivan
http://www.katie-osullivan.com/
https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKatieOSullivan

Constance Phillips
http://www.constancephillips.com/
https://www.facebook.com/ConstancePhillipsRomanceAuthor/

Stephanie Queen
http://stephaniequeen.com/
https://www.facebook.com/StephanieQueenAuthor/

Nancy Segovia
https://nancysegovia.com/
https://www.facebook.com/segovia.nancy/

Debbie White
https://www.authordebbiewhite.com/
https://www.facebook.com/DebbieWhiteBooks/

Author Quinn
https://quinnauthor.wixsite.com/quinnromancebooks
https://www.facebook.com/RomanceAuthorQuinn/

Emily Wilder
https://www.facebook.com/authoremilywilder
https://twitter.com/thewilderauthor

Victoria Pinder
http://www.victoriapinder.com
https://www.instafreebie.com/free/q21sO

Janice Ross
https://jgrwriter.com
https://m.facebook.com/jgrwriter

Eli Gace
https://www.facebook.com/AuthorEliGrace/

Deb Christie
https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDebChristie/

 

Pre-order your copy of Hunks to the Rescue (releasing June 13), and get a second box set FREE right now. Beyond Hunks includes 12 novels and novellas by the Hunks to the Rescue authors not normally published as a set, with a combined value of $26 individually. Don’t wait too long, however. This BOGO offer expires June 12, when Beyond Hunks will no longer be available. Details here: https://hunkstotherescue.com/box-set/

Orlando Universal Giveaway: We’re giving away a boatload of fantastic prizes during our pre-order giveaway, including a $700 Universal Orlando Theme Park Family 4-Pack, which includes 1 day passes to 2 parks and a special welcome at the park from Hunks to the Rescue author Lynda Haviland. To find out the details, click here https://hunkstotherescue.com/orlando-universal-giveaway/

Abi’s Neighbour by Jenny Kane

Out Now—Abi’s Neighbour by Jenny Kane (@jennykaneauthor) #romance #cornwall

Set in the picturesque Sennen Cove, Cornwall, Abi’s Neighbour is the sequel to the bestselling Cornish romance, Abi’s House.

 

It’s time to catch up with Abi, Max, Beth, Jacob, Stan, and Sadie the Labrador- and meet some unexpected new faces…

 

Blurb

Abi Carter has finally found happiness. Living in her perfect tin miner’s cottage, she has good friends and a gorgeous boyfriend, Max. Life is good. But all that’s about to change when a new neighbour moves in next door.

Cassandra Henley-Pinkerton represents everything Abi thought she’d escaped when she left London. Obnoxious and stuck-up, Cassandra hates living in Cornwall. Worst of all, it looks like she has her sights set on Max.

But Cassandra has problems of her own. Not only is her wealthy married lawyer putting off joining her in their Cornish love nest, but now someone seems intent on sabotaging her business.

Will Cassandra mellow enough to turn to Abi for help – or are they destined never to get along?

Complete with sun, sea and a gorgeous Cornwall setting, Abi’s Neighbour is the PERFECT summer escape.

Abi’s Neighbour can be read as a standalone novel, or as a follow up to Abi’s House.

Available in eBook and print from Amazon (universal link): http://mybook.to/abisneighbour

 

Extract

 

The untidy, clipboard-wielding woman started talking as soon as she climbed out of her Mini. ‘Hello, my name’s Maggie, and I’m from –’

Cassandra cut impatiently across the formalities. ‘Sennen Agents, obviously. It’s written across your car.’

‘Oh, yes. So it is.’ Maggie paused, ‘Anyway, I’m sorry I’m late, I got stuck behind a tractor down the lane.’ She jingled a key ring in front of her. ‘I have your keys, Miss Pinkerton.’

‘No, you don’t.’ ‘I don’t?’ The estate agent frowned, looking away from the woman that stood before her in expensive couture with crossed arms and a far from happy expression. Flicking through the papers on her clipboard, Maggie said, ‘I was instructed by a Mr Justin Smythe that you would be accepting the keys on his behalf?’

‘I meant, no, my name is not Miss Pinkerton. It is Ms Henley-Pinkerton.’

‘Oh. I see.’ Maggie refrained from further comment as she clutched the keys a little tighter.

Determined to make sure the situation was clearly understood, Cassandra pulled her jacket on, turning herself back into the sharp-suited businesswoman she was. ‘In addition to your error regarding my name, there appears to have been a further mistake.’

‘There has?’

‘Mr Smythe has not purchased this property. He has merely rented it, with an additional agreement to sublet it as a holiday home. I am here for two months to make the place suitable.’ Cassandra ran a disdainful eye over the beautiful exterior stonework. ‘It would seem that my work is going to be well and truly cut out.’

‘This is a much sought-after street, Ms HenleyPinkerton. And this particular property is in excellent period condition.’ Feeling defensive on behalf of the old miner’s cottage, Maggie bit her tongue and flicked through her paperwork faster. Extracting a copy of the bill of sale, she passed it to the slim, angular blonde. ‘I think the misunderstanding must be yours. Mr Smythe has purchased number two Miners Row outright. It was a cash sale.’

Snatching the papers from Maggie’s fingers, Cassandra’s shoulders tensed into painful knots. Why hadn’t Justin told her he’d done this? She was convinced she was right. And anyway, he’d never deliberately make her appear foolish in front of a country bumpkin estate agent…  Yet as Cassandra scanned the document before her, she could see there’d been no mistake. Closing her eyes, she counted to ten, before opening them again to regard the badly dressed woman before her, who was once again holding out the offending set of keys.  Failing to take them, Cassandra gestured towards the little house.

‘Perhaps you would show me around, after I’ve made a call to Mr Smythe?’ Maggie, already feeling sorry for this unpleasant woman’s future neighbours, took unprofessional pleasure in saying, ‘Good luck with that call. The phone signal here is unpredictable to say the least.’

It had taken a ten-minute walk towards Sennen village to get a decent reception on her mobile phone, and then, when she’d been able to connect the call, Justin’s line was engaged. When she’d finally got through, she was more than ready to explode. ‘Justin! How could you have done this to me without a word? You’ve made me look a total idiot.’

Clearly thrilled that he’d managed to buy the terrace for a knock-down price – which, he’d claimed, was a far more economic use of their funds, an investment that would make them a fortune to enjoy in their retirement – he’d sounded so excited about what it meant for their future together that Cassandra had found it hard to remain cross. Assuring her that the situation remained the same, and that she was still only expected to stay in Cornwall while he secured his new position and got the wheels of the divorce in motion, Justin told Cassandra he loved her and would be with her very soon.

Returning to the terrace reassured, if lacking some of her earlier dignity, Cassandra swallowed back all the words she’d have liked to say as she opened the door and the gloom of the dark and narrow hallway enveloped her. She was sure that awful Maggie woman had been laughing at her. The agent had taken clear pleasure in telling her that if she hadn’t stormed off so quickly she’d have found out that the phone reception was excellent if you sat on the bench in the back garden.

Vowing to never drink champagne in any form ever again, as it clearly caused her to agree to things far too readily, Cassandra saw the next two months stretching out before her like a lifetime.  Letting out some of the tension which had been simmering inside her since she’d first seen the for sale sign, she picked up a stone and threw it at the back fence, hard. Maggie had gone, leaving her reluctant client sitting on an old weathered bench in the narrow rectangular plot at the back of the house.

Playing her phone through her fingers, Cassandra saw that there was enough reception to make calls if she sat in this spot – but only in this spot. One step in either direction killed the signal dead, which was probably why the previous owners had placed a bench here. And probably why they left this Godforsaken place!  The Internet simply didn’t exist here. When she’d swallowed her pride and asked Maggie about the strength of the local broadband coverage, the agent had actually had the audacity to laugh, before informing Cassandra with obvious satisfaction that people came to Sennen for their holidays to leave the world of emails and work behind them.

Breathing slowly, she pulled her shoulders back, pushed her long, perfectly straight blonde hair behind her ears, and took a pen and paper out of her bag. It looked as if she was going to have to tackle this, old school.

First she would make a list of what she considered necessary to make the house habitable for holidaymakers, then she would locate the nearest library or internet café so she could source decorators and builders to get the work underway. The sooner she got everything done, and herself back to hustle and bustle of London, the better.

Deciding there was no way she could sleep in this house, which Maggie had proudly described as ‘comfortable’, ‘sought-after’, and ‘ready to be made absolutely perfect’, Cassandra hooked her handbag onto her shoulder and headed back into the whitewashed stone house. Shivering in the chill of the hallway, despite the heat of the June day, she jumped in the silence when the doorbell rang just as she bent to pick up her overnight bag. For a second she froze. It had been years since she’d heard a doorbell ring. In her block of flats back home she buzzed people in via an intercom, and anyway, people never just dropped by. She hoped it wasn’t that dreadful Maggie back with some other piece of unwanted advice.

It wasn’t Maggie. It was a petite woman in paint spattered clothes, with a large shaggy dog at her side. Cassandra’s unwanted visitor wore a wide smile and held a bunch of flowers in one hand and some bedding in the other.  ‘Hello. My name’s Abi, I live next door. Welcome to Miners Row. I hope you’ll be very happy here.’

 

Bio

Jenny Kane is the author of the full length romance novels Another Glass of Champagne (Accent Press, 2015), Abi’s House (Accent Press, 2015), the contemporary romance/medieval crime time slip novel Romancing Robin Hood (Accent Press, 2014), the best selling contemporary romance novel Another Cup of Coffee (Accent Press, 2013), and its novella length sequels Another Cup of Christmas (Accent Press, 2013), Christmas in the Cotswolds (Accent, 2014), and Christmas at the Castle (Accent, 2015).

Jenny’s sixth full length romance novel, Abi’s Neighbour, will be published in May 2017.

Keep your eye on Jenny’s blog at www.jennykane.co.uk for more details.

Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JennyKaneAuthor

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/JennyKaneRomance

Jenny also writes erotica as Kay Jaybee and historical crime as Jennifer Ash.

 

Release blitz organised by Writer Marketing Services.

Trigger ~ LP Dover

Title – Trigger: A Circle of Justice Novel
Author – LP Dover
Genre – Romantic Suspense Standalone
Release Date – February 6, 2017
Cover Designed By – Mae I Design and Photography


A killer . . . that’s what I am.

It’s what I do.

It’s what I live for.

I’m no longer the Preston Hale everyone knew. I left that life and the people in it a long time ago the second I made my first kill. I wasn’t going to give in, but when I heard the screams there was no going back.

It triggered the pain, the need.

I knew what I had to do, and I did it well. But I never expected for Emma Turner – the only link to my past – to come back into my life.

She triggers a different emotion inside me, something I hadn’t ever felt.

It’s not a want to kill . . . but a need to CLAIM.

“From the first page to the last, this book had me holding my breath. Fast-paced, sexy, and addicting, Trigger is bound to be one of my top reads all year.” ~ New York Times Bestselling Author, Emily Goodwin


“Exhilarating and pulse-pounding. Trigger is a non-stop roller coaster ride from beginning to end.” ~ Author of the Light in the Dark Series, Micalea Smeltzer

https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author L. P. Dover is a southern belle living in North Carolina with her husband and two beautiful girls. Before she began her literary journey she worked in periodontics, enjoying the wonderment of dental surgeries.


She loves to write, but she also loves to play tennis, go on mountain hikes and white water rafting, and has a passion for singing. Her two youngest fans expect a concert each and every night before bedtime, usually Christmas carols.

Dover has written countless novels, including her Forever Fae series, the Second Chances series, the Gloves Off series, the Armed & Dangerous series, the Royal Shifters series, and her standalone novel Love, Lies, and Deception. Her favorite genre to read and write is romantic suspense, but if she got to choose a setting in which to live, it would be with her faeries in the Land of the Fae.


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Review: How to Date a Douchebag: The Failing Hours by Sara Ney

Title: How To Date A Douchebag: The Failing Hours
Author: Sara Ney
Genre: New Adult, Sports Romance, College Romance

Release Date: January 31, 2017


Zeke Daniels isn’t just a douchebag; he’s an asshole. 

A total and complete jerk, Zeke keeps people at a distance. He has no interest in relationships—most assholes don’t. 

Dating? Being part of a couple? Nope. Not for him.
He’s never given any thought to what he wants in a girlfriend, because he’s never had any intention of having one. 

Shit, he barely has a relationship with his family, and they’re related; his own friends don’t even like him. 
So why does he keep thinking about Violet DeLuca? 
Sweet, quiet Violet—his opposite in every sense of the word.

The light to his dark, even her damn name sounds like rays of sunshine and happiness and shit.

And that pisses him off, too.

Best Read of 2017! A one click must for any lover of hot, sexy romance done RIGHT ! [This] story is the quintessential slow burn effect…Zeke will come to own your body and soul–I am OBSESSED with this series and The Failing Hours has just shot to my ‘Best of All Time’ list. Be prepared to fall in love with a douche bag and the woman who sets him straight. ” – Books and Boys Book Blog
“That was EVERYTHING I expected, wanted, dreamed of. . . this is a MUST FREAKING READ. UNFORGETTABLE goodness. NA romance at it’s best.”  – Angie’s Dreamy Reads
“Sara Ney has delivered a sexy, jerkwad douchebag with soul-deep feelings and the sweet, kind, unassuming girl to reach his hidden heart in one of the best NA romantic comedies I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. Ney’s impeccable writing, fresh characters, and feel-good story will stick with you forever.” – Bestselling Author Staci Hart
“I took so much pleasure in Zeke’s looming destruction (insert evil laugh)….” – The Reading Belles

The clock on the wall counts the seconds, steady as the rhythm of my beating heart, which thumps wildly within my chest until the glass door to the library opens, propelled by a gust of wind.


Some new fallen leaves flutter in, the heavy doors slamming from the draft.


Along with them? Zeke Daniels.


He shuffles in, dark gray sweatpants hanging low on his hips, black Iowa Wrestling hoodie pulled up over his head, the university’s bright yellow mascot screen-printed across the chest. Backpack slung over one shoulder, black athletic flip-flops, and a pair of black sunglasses perched on the bridge of his strong nose complete the overall ensemble.

He is utterly…ridiculous. 


Unapproachable. 


Daunting.


His arrogance knows no bounds; I can see it in his loose gait, the exaggerated swagger, and the too-casual way he’s dragging his flip-flops across the cold, marble tile floor. It’s noisy, irritating, and completely uncalled for. 


In the moment, my mind drifts to his personal life, and I theorize that he listens to heavy metal music to sooth his foul temperament, drinks his coffee black—as black as his soul—and his liquor straight up. I imagine once he’s had sex with someone, they’re never invited back. I go one step further and theorize that they’re never invited to spend the night at his place, either.


Zeke Daniels makes his way to a table at the far end of the room, near the periodicals, one out of the way with plenty of privacy.


Sets his bag down in one of the four wooden chairs. Flicks on the small study lamp. Plugs his laptop cord into the base and stands. 


Turns.


Our eyes would have met then were it not for those ludicrous sunglasses. I choose the exact moment he lifts his gaze to look down at the ground. Busy myself with shuffling papers on the counter. Count to ten instead of chanting, Please don’t come over, please don’t come over, please don’t come over…


But luck isn’t on my side because he most decidedly does. 


Makes his way over like a predator at a pace so deliberate, I’m convinced he’s doing it on purpose. As if he suspects I’m watching from under my long lashes, dreading his imminent arrival.


He basks in my discomfort.


The distance between us closes, his strides purposeful.


Twenty feet.


Fifteen.


Ten.


Eight.


Three.


His large hand reaches up, pushing down the hood of his sweatshirt, his fingertips pinching the earpiece of his sunglasses and pulling them off his face. My eyes follow the movements as he folds them closed, hanging them on the neckline of his hoodie. 


His gaze lingers—those clear gray eyes famous around campus—and finds the shiny silver bellhop bell perched on the counter with the sign next to it that reads, Ring for help.


Ding. 


The tip of his forefinger presses down on the small bell.


Ding.


He hits it again, despite me standing not three feet in front of him.


What an ass.

Review:

I looooved this book! I cracked up from the first page, especially since the quotes heading each chapter were real. Zeke, the hero, if you call an always angry douchebag a hero, was fantastic. Too handsome, too shallow, and he hated people-all people. Zeke loved to bet but always lost. Absolutely nothing redeemable about him. The girls on campus loved to hate him. Hit it and quit it could be Zeke’s motto. His coach had enough. He forced Zeke to be a big brother. Coach wanted that chip on his shoulder gone. He figured on showing Zeke he didn’t have it so bad.

Violet was shy, quiet and stuttered when she talked.  She had to tutor Zeke. She lied to get out of tutoring him but he returned. Zeke scared the shit out of her! But if she wanted to keep her job, she had to do it. Violet just knew Zeke would embarrass her. Violet was right, he did. So how did he manage to captivate her?

Violet had no boobs and she looked ready to blow away. She always a damned do gooder. She loved kids, kept her nose clean, Zeke could go on and on. So why did she fascinate him?

Seeing Zeke with his little, seeing the gambling for what it was, seeing the pain in his eyes, Violet took a chance on opening her heart. But really, once an asshole, ALWAYS an asshole!

Hilarious and tender, watching Zeke attempt to grow had me howling with laughter. I even managed to get a little teary eyed. (I couldn’t help it, he was such an ass to Violet!) Definitely worth the time to read.

Then I find out it is the second in a series. Sniff. Now I HAVE to get the first one. So don’t miss this!

Purveyor of all things witty & romantic, I love: iced latte’s, traveling, and bright, bold colors. On any given day, you can find me in my office, lovingly gazing at my bookshelf or shuffling my Bic felt-tip pen collection. I love hand writing letters, and sarcasm. 


I live in the midwest, but “Will Write for Travel,” and believe everyone should follow their dreams, no matter how big or small. My favorite authors include Cindy Miles, S Walden, Suzanne Enoch, Tessa Dare (to name a few). I am a glutton for Historical, RomCom, Sports and MC romance.


One husband. Two daughters. Plenty of chaos.

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It Started with a Kiss

  Title: It Started with a Kiss
By: Melanie Moreland
Publication Date: January 23, 2017
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Cover Designer: Monark Designs
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It started with a kiss.
Then it became so much more.
Love at first sight.
Avery Connor doesn’t believe in it.
But what about love at first kiss?
A favor for a friend. Kiss a stranger and walk away.
But what if that favor, and that stranger, prove to be the turning point of her life?
What if that kiss leads to something more?
Dr. Daniel Stewart is certain it will.
He is determined to make her see him. To feel what he feels.
To have the effects of that kiss last forever.

A story about taking a chance, opening your heart to the moment, and falling in love.

AMAZON UK – https://goo.gl/bDybLH
AMAZON CA – https://goo.gl/kn9e62

New York Times/USA Today bestselling author Melanie Moreland, lives a happy and content life in a quiet area of Ontario with her beloved husband of twenty-seven-plus years and their rescue cat Amber. Nothing means more to her than her friends and family, and she cherishes every moment spent with them.

While seriously addicted to coffee, and highly challenged with all things computer-related and technical, she relishes baking, cooking, and trying new recipes for people to sample. She loves to throw dinner parties, and also enjoys travelling, here and abroad, but finds coming home is always the best part of any trip.

Melanie delights in a good romance story with some bumps along the way, but is a true believer in happily ever after. When her head isn’t buried in a book, it is bent over a keyboard, furiously typing away as her characters dictate their creative storylines to her, often with a large glass of wine keeping her company.

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Wake Up Call

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Book Title: Wake-Up Call
Author: Amy Avanzino
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

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book blurb

Sarah Winslow wakes up with a terrible hangover…and a kid in her boyfriend’s bed. She makes the horrifying discovery that, due to a head injury, it’s not a hangover. She’s got memory loss. Overnight, five years have disappeared, and she’s no longer the hard-living, fast-track, ad executive party girl she thinks she is. Now, she’s the unemployed, pudgy, married, stay-at-home-mom of three kids under five, including twins.

As she slowly pieces together the mystery of how her dreams and aspirations could have disintegrated so completely in five short years, she finds herself utterly failing to manage this life she can’t imagine choosing. When Sarah meets the man of her dreams, she realizes she’s got to make a choice: Does she follow her bliss and “do-over” her life? Or does the Sarah she’s forgotten hold the answers to how she got here…and how she can stay?

excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

The moment I wake up I know I’m in trouble. I try and caution a peek at my surroundings but I can’t get my eyes to focus. I feel nauseous. I finally manage to make out an image of a massive lump beneath the covers beside me. It rises and falls with alternate motion in rhythm to a rumbling snore, which only intensifies the loud thumping in my head. I soon realize, with a sinking heart, that the man in bed with me is too large and unruly to be my boyfriend.

What have I done?

I become lightheaded with the thought of myself as a cheater. My stomach turns and I think I’m going to be sick. I take in a few short breaths and try and collect my thoughts. What happened to me? How did I get here? Why would I do this when I have a man with defined abs and the sex drive of a man at sea?

I must have had too much to drink last night because my memory is so fuzzy. I can’t seem to remember anything.

It doesn’t matter. Kofi will never forgive me and I couldn’t ask him to. My eyes well up and my chest feels clinched while thinking about all the things I’m going to miss about him. The way he looks at me when I enter a room. His ambition and how he inspires me to work harder and be a better person. He has this sarcastic sense of humor, I often don’t understand, but he accompanies it with a laugh that’s quiet and contagious, like a yawn. I miss him already.

I need to get out of here. I want to get up but my head is too heavy to lift and moving makes my head pound harder. I have a charley horse in my neck and a shooting pain in my eye. This is the worst hangover ever.

I mine for deeper reserves of strength and roll myself off the bed and hit the floor with a thud. Through scrunched up eyelids I look around for my belongings but I can’t seem to find any of my things. Where’s my bag, my shoes, my clothes?

A twinge of guilt trickles down my spine as I borrow a shapeless shirt and sweat pants from the floor. I pause for the poor girl who owns these garments. Not only did I sleep with her big fat man last night, but worse, her personal taste is appalling. She has enigmatic style and is awfully un-savvy. Because her clothes identify her as a husky woman, I best move fast before she returns. I’m quite certain she can kick my skinny ass. Although my Tae Bo keeps me perfectly toned, I fear the heavily practiced jabs, punches and sidekicks have little street use.

I look for the emergency exit and can’t help but take in this distasteful environment. I’m surrounded by a terribly decorated room with cheap imitation Anne Geddes baby photos and mismatched furniture. I’ve seen garage sales with better interior design elements.

I creep to the door and twist my ankle on an oversized Lego. I tumble to my knees and mime a silent scream. Now eye level to the carpet, I’m better able to survey the final course of my escape route. I stay low and slither across the floor, appreciating the breathable fabric and freedom of movement of the clothes on loan.

Once I make it past the threshold of the bedroom, I’m faced with a mine field of toys planted in the hallway, obstructing my passage to the outside world. I trip over a stuffed dinosaur and he screams and then there’s silence…the snoring has ceased. As this could further complicate my departure, I begin my high-speed pursuit towards the front door forgoing all thought of injuries and hangover.

“Sarah?” says a recognizable voice.

I cock my ear at the door. “Kofi?”

“Where you going babe?”

I weave my way back through the house to my boyfriend.

“Where are we?” I breathe a heavy sigh when my eyes meet his.

Kofi has intense smoldering charcoal eyes and behind them there is a light that sparkles whenever he is excited. He’s got impeccable lustrous ebony skin, exotic full kissable lips, and high cheekbones – a fascinating combination resulting from his African American-Cherokee heritage. When standing he is nearly six-feet-tall, with a v-shaped torso and he oozes with unadulterated, uncontrived maleness. But in spite of his appearance, he has this cool confidence that’s devoid of arrogance. In fact he is so smooth that the Isaac Hayes’ theme song for Shaft plays in my mind whenever I watch him from across a room.

My heart is dancing inside my chest, thrilled I haven’t ruined the opportunity to see where this relationship will go. I want to leap into bed with him, pin him down, and smother him with kisses, but I’m still feeling off balance. Instead I rest my shoulder against the door frame for support.

Kofi, moving sluggishly, sits up. I watch him closely and notice I can’t hear the music playing in my head, instead I hear my brain beating against my skull. My eyes still zooming in and out of focus. “Where are your braids?”

Kofi jerks his head up. “What do you mean?” and talks in a loud whisper.

Kofi once described his hair as an expression of originality but it is now something approaching respectability and uniformity. “You look like a Marine and yesterday you looked like K-Fed.”

After a pause, he says, “huh?” sounding perplexed.

“You know K-Fed, a.k.a Kevin Federline, a.k.a Mr. Britney Spears,” and if he didn’t get those references I add, “a.k.a the next Eminem.”

Kofi looks at me with an expression curiously akin to confusion.

“Why did you shave off the cornrows? A buzz makes you look so…” I trail off, unable to think of a single word other than fat. Then old comes to mind. I finally arrive at “different. You look so different,” I say, wincing on his behalf.

Before Kofi can answer, the covers start rustling and out pops a child rubbing his eyes.

“What is that?” I scream and point at the boy. “Why? Why?” is all I am able to say.

“He had a nightmare.” Kofi exaggerates a long drawn out yawn and stretches out his lengthy arms.

“Huh? What?”

“Mama, what’s wrong?” says the boy in the bed in a tiny, weary voice.

“Kid I’m not your mom,” I say, followed by an uncomfortable chuckle. I share a look with Kofi and gesture towards the door. “I’m going home.”

“Very funny Sarah, but I don’t have time for this.” Kofi digs into the corner of his eyes with his fingers. “I have to be at work, I’m in trouble enough as it is.”

The boy turns to Kofi and asks, “Daddy, why’s mama acting weird?”

“Daddy? Daddy! You have a kid? Shit Kofi, you never told me you have a kid.” I study the child closely, there’s no denying the resemblance. He’s but a miniature clone of Kofi, with lighter skin and one third his stature and both are sitting cross-legged, with heads tilted slightly to the left, the same single eye brow raised, and both now pouting petulantly.

I retreat into the hallway and try and slow down my thoughts that are running circles through my mind. Where am I? How did I get here? Why does this kid think I’m his mom? And why is Kofi looking at me as if I’m crazy?

“What’s shit?” the child asks.

“Oh sorry kid, I mean…” I search for a more child-friendly vocabulary and come up with nothing. I just look at the boy blankly as he looks back with wide saucer eyes. The silence stretches too long and my nerves burst with a bang. “Shit,” I repeat -I can’t help myself.

Kofi’s expression goes instantly very angry. “Sarah, what the heck is wrong with you?” he grumbles.

“Me? What the heck is wrong with you? I didn’t know you had a kid. You somehow breezed over that topic in the six months we’ve been together.” The last thing I want to be is some poor, confused kid’s step-mom. “I didn’t sign on for this! Where’s my stuff?” I stalk back and forth like a caged animal searching for an escape route. “I want to get out of here.”

“Okay. Ha-ha, you’re funny. I never told you I have a kid.” Kofi and the child exchange puzzled looks.

“Whatever. Let’s talk about this later. I can’t deal with it now. God, my head is killing me,” I tell him. “I have the worst hangover and I think I’m going to throw up.”

“Hangover?” Kofi draws back sharply. “Babe,” he squints his eyes slightly as he surveys me, “maybe you should get back into bed?”

“With the young boy…that’s illegal,” I say, avoiding eye contact with the child. “Can you just take me home?”

“Sarah,” Kofi says in a slow, clear, soothing way; a tone I imagine a pre-school teacher would use or maybe a psychotherapist. “Are you okay?”

“What do you think? I just found out my boyfriend has a kid. I’m in some dreadful house and God only knows where the Excedrin is. I’m probably wearing your baby’s mama’s clothes.” I breathe in deeply, the smell is repugnant and triggers my gag reflex.

Kofi gets out of the bed and approaches me slowly. He’s wearing boxers and T-shirt advertising Jones BBQ. I scrutinize his appearance for a moment and perceive a change, but my eyes feel like they’re burning behind my head. I squeeze them shut.

“Actually, don’t even bother getting up Kofi. I’ll bus back to my apartment.”

Kofi walks toward me looking troubled. “Oh babe,” he nervously shifts his eyes and says, “Babe, can you…can you…” then he stops, looks at his…son, raises his voice an octave. “Sweetness, why don’t you go use the potty and give us a minute.”

The boy jumps several times across the bed, as though on a trampoline and then darts out of the room.

Kofi turns back to me and his stutter returns. He finally manages to spit out, “Can you tell me what you did yesterday?”

The only thing I know for sure is how brutal this headache is and it seems to be crippling my thoughts.

I attempt to reconstruct the events of last night’s drunken debauchery. I try to concentrate as hard as I can. Desperately searching for the memory, much like trying to remember a dream the morning after. “I…um…oh yeah, I interviewed for that promotion I’ve been talking about for weeks, which went really well by the way. I’m pretty sure I got it.” I stop, think harder. “And then I met up with the girls for happy hour, like every other Friday for the past three years.”

Kofi’s mouth falls open.

I think back on the night, but nothing jumps out as odd: the drinks went down in the usual way. My girlfriends and I covered the typical topics: men, fashion, office gossip and celebrity current events. When the spirits took over us, we took over the dance floor. I remember Jo-Jo dancing to a seven count rather than the conventional eight and Piper’s good judgment was lost somewhere between the funky chicken and the robot. Celia was jiving and using her hand as a microphone, lip-syncing with the house band. It appears in my recall, however, that I was an expert dancer.

I shrug my shoulders. “I must’ve blacked out after that because I don’t remember coming here.”

Kofi stares at me hard. “Babe, are you serious?”

“Yelling isn’t helping Kofi.”

“I’m not yelling,” Kofi says and looks me firmly in the eyes. “I think…we have a problem. Nico told me you fell when riding his skateboard yesterday and you hit your head, maybe you…” his voice trails off.

Instinctually, I put my hand up to my head and I cringe at the touch. “Ow!” I call out. There’s a bump the size of a golf ball. It feels sore and tender and its throbbing like it has its own heart beat.

“Nico? You mean grandpa? He just got a hip replacement…he can’t even Bocce Ball anymore.”

“You haven’t been to a happy hour in, well, forever.” Kofi speaks slowly and maybe even a little sadly. “Last night we watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on DVD and we were in bed by 9:00.”

“Wait a minute…this is a prank.” This must be another one of Kofi’s jokes, although I’m not really sure how it’s funny. “You totally had me going for a second. Bravo.” I applaud his originality, creating his own Harry Potter title, Deathly Hallows, that’s detailed. “Where’d you get the kid? He’s a good little actor…did you rent him? Did you drug me to get me here? That’s a little bit excessive, but man, you really got me. I almost believed you.”

I wait for him to break into laughter and then deliver some punch-line, but instead he holds a poker face for an unbearably long time.

Kofi rubs his forehead as though trying to gather his thoughts. “I’m going to call the doctor Sarah,” he says and before I can respond, the kid has returned from the bathroom. Kofi bends down to meet him. “Stay with her. I’ll be right back.”

Kofi grabs a navy fuzzy robe from the back of the bathroom door, leaving its matching baby blue one behind. He slips into a pair of house shoes from the foot of the bed then hustles out of the room, leaving the child and me behind.

I flash the youngster a nervous semi-smile. He’s an attractive kid. He has large, soft, dark chocolate eyes, shapely nose, perfect lips, charming grin and a skin tone I’d risk skin cancer for. He has wild, brownish hair that’s styled in a three-inch, loose-curl afro. He’s smallish, as a child should be I suppose, but he has the build of a bulldog; broad shouldered and solid frame. He looks like my sister’s kid, but I guess all kids look alike.

I open dialogue hesitantly with, “Hi”. He begins to speak a dialect unfamiliar to me. And wow, does he speak: he goes on and on and I haven’t a clue what he’s talking about. He’s using up all the oxygen in the room, and I feel like I’m suffocating. I begin side stepping my way to the door. I’m hoping he won’t notice if I duck out, but he watches me like a hawk. I try zigzagging and weaving, but he won’t get off my tail. It’s like being chased by a mugger in a dark alley.

Kofi, still on the phone, is pacing back and forth, in and out of the kitchen. He yells into the receiver, “Yes, I understand we don’t have an appointment…No, we don’t want to see another doctor…I don’t care that he’s not on-call, this is an emergency….If you can’t make this happen, put someone on the phone who can.”

When I look down at the kid, he’s still talking. I try to politely excuse myself. “Kid,” I say, “I don’t know what a wocketchip is, and I need to go tinkle…okay?”

“Okay. A wocketchip is…” and he continues talking, unbothered by my lack of interest. Thank God my ears are ringing to drown out some of his noise. He follows me right into the bathroom, stubbornly determined to invade my personal boundaries.

Then Kofi storms into the bathroom- even though, and I can’t stress this enough, I told him I was busy inside. “Blue’s Clues is on,” Kofi says and without another word, the young boy whirls out of the room, not unlike a miniature tornado.

Kofi approaches me slowly. He kisses me gently on the cheek, despite the fact he hasn’t brushed and his scent is musty.

“The doctor wants us to come in right away. He’s worried you may have a concussion or something.”

“Don’t be silly. I don’t need a doctor. What I need is a Bloody Mary. Will you make me one?”

“Um,” Kofi utters, fumbling for the words. He slowly lifts his eyes to meet mine. He looks weird. I squint at him and study him. I notice the deep set lines. His hair is cropped short, peppered gray amongst the jet blackness of the rest of it. His stomach is…round.

I wonder if I’m dreaming. Am I still drunk?

“Maybe you should sit down.”

“What’s going on Kofi?”

“Well, I’m not sure how to start actually.” He takes a deep breath and composes himself. “You know that interview you were talking about?”

I nod firmly.

“That was at least five years ago.” He pauses to let it sink in.

I look up briefly and rub my eyes. What did he just say? There is no way he just said that was five yearsago.

He adds in a no-nonsense tone. “Nico’s our son.”

“What?! You’re trying to tell me that I’m a…a…” I can’t even say it. I notice my knees shaking ever so slightly. Kofi tries to slide his arm through mine but I pull away.

“Yes, you’re a mom and we’re married and this is our home.”

I feel hot on the inside, and itchy, and a little bit queasy. I try and speak but the lump in my throat won’t budge. I need a few moments to take all this in. I take a few steps back and lean against the wall and start looking around the room at the graffiti walls, the laminate flooring, the dirty counter tops and then begin to panic.

“You don’t work in advertising anymore,” Kofi continues, “you work full time at home, you’re a stay-at-home-mom.”

I freeze. Time seems to slow down to a crawl. Is this what the deer-in-headlights, who we hear so much about, experience right before the 18 wheeler smacks it head-on?

“You’re not kidding?” I ask nervously.

Kofi fixes his eyes to mine and shakes his head very slowly. He puts my hand inside of his and says, “It’s going to be okay.”

I can’t believe this is happening. I was finally moving up the ladder. When I began my career in advertising my 5×5 cubicle was blocking the elevator and in four short years I’d moved to three cubes away from the office that had a window. I was so close. I could finally see success. All that shit work I put into advancing my career. The late nights, working weekends, the years of school, was for nothing. This is just my luck.

“So I’m not twenty-eight anymore?”

“You’re thirty-three.”

I react to the news physically, with a flinch. Thirty-three is practically mid-thirties, that’s almost forty, which means…I’m old. Oh God, no!

“Oh, and your grandpa’s dead too; sorry,” Kofi adds, cautiously awaiting my next move. He’s following me closely with his eyes as I shift my weight, so that I can peer into the mirror behind him.

I look at the stranger in the reflection and I don’t know who I see, but she looks as surprised to see me as I am too see her. I spin around a little, slowly, and she does the same. I approach the mirror and with every step the reflection gets bigger and bigger and fatter. My voice is shaking now. “What’s going on? What…what…. happened to me?”

Kofi explains again more slowly and enunciating his words judiciously. “I don’t know exactly, I was at work, but according to Nico you were attempting an ollie off his skateboard and you fell back and hit your head on the curb. You weren’t wearing a helmet, but I thought you were okay…there was no blood and last night you seemed fine….maybe a little shaken up…maybe a little tired, but you’re pretty much always tired, so…” The color from his face begins to fade as the memory cascades over him. “Oh God, now that I think about it, you were acting strange. You put Nico’s Transformer back-pack on and said you were going to school. I thought you were just fooling around…it was really funny.” He puts both hands up to his head. “Jesus, I laughed.” His expression looks about to crumple. “I’m so sorry Sarah, I feel terrible…” his voice trails off.

Truthfully I’m not really listening. I’m still staring at myself in the mirror, while my fingers trace the fine lines that crowd my mouth. “No. No. Why do I look like this?” My eyes have sunken; my roots now freckled with gray and at least an inch thick above the rest of my wild ash-blond mane. How could so much damage happen in five years? I’ve aged at least a decade. “You’re right I should probably sit down. I’m so pale. I look faint.”

“Actually, you look…normal.”

I feel tears build behind my eyes. I start blinking hard, refusing to cry, refusing to believe that this is actually happening.

“I have the arms of a linebacker, my thighs are fuller and my boobs,” I say, grabbing my breasts and lifting them up and down, like I’m doing arm curls with them. “They’d definitely fail the Pencil Test.”

“Pencil Test?”

“The Pencil Test. If you can tuck a pencil under your breasts, they’re saggy. If you can tuck the entire back-to-school supply box under them, you have mine!”

He scratches his head. “I love your shape,” he says, thankfully convincingly.

“Then you must like circles!” My cheeks feel swollen, my legs feel like jelly and I’m feeling myself wobbling on the edge of hysteria. “What’s happened to me? This makes no sense. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe!”

“Relax,” he advises. “We’ll get this all straightened out at the doctor. It will be okay. Everything is going to be okay,” he says almost to himself.

I inhale deeply through my nose, then open my lips and make an om sound as I exhale, trying to find my center.

“Right now you just need to get dressed so we aren’t late for our appointment.”

“Are you out of your mind?” I say, unnerved. “There’s no way I’m leaving this house looking like this. I haven’t even showered.”

Kofi blinks, taken aback. “That’s crazy talk. This is really serious.”

“Well so is hygiene,” I point out.

“Please,” Kofi struggles to keep his voice calm, “let’s just go and you can take a bath when we get home.”

“Ew, I am not leaving this house without a shower.” I put my unpedicured foot down.

“Fine, I need to make a few phone calls anyway.” Kofi throws up his arms. “But hurry.”

When Kofi leaves, I take off my clothes and against my better judgment I take a look. It’s worse than I’d expected. My stomach looks like a walnut shell. I have a muffin top without pants on and even my hair looks fat. I’m dumbfounded. I always valued beauty and grooming. I love working out and being unemployed, I imagine that I have time in spades to do so. What else do I have to do, for Christ sakes?

I stand in the shower and let the water pour down my face, as I try to piece together the mystery of how my dreams and aspirations could have disintegrated so completely. But my eyelids are feeling heavy again. My head’s spinning and banging, like having shoes in the dryer. I can’t think.

“You okay babe?” Kofi watches me through the clear shower door, which is just another design flaw of this house.

“I’m fine.” This is a lie. I’m freaking out.

“You need to speed things up. Our appointment’s at 8:00 and it’s almost 7:00.”

I sputter through the water, annoyed, “I only have an hour to get ready?”

“No, we have to be there in an hour. So you have about fifteen minutes,” he yells over the shower stream.

“Sorry, no can do. I’m in need of a deep conditioning. And I mean deep.” I’m hoping against all hope that that’s all it takes to get me back to some semblance of normalcy. “We’ll just taxi.”

“Actually, we have to drive. We live in the foothills, about twenty miles east of Seattle.” I mentally zoom in on the word “foothills”. What he really means is, we live in a damned suburb.

I lean my head into the water stream that won’t get hotter than warm and look down for my hair products and only see one bottle, Pert Plus 2 in 1, shampoo and conditioner. So this is what it’s come to. I lather and spread the soap. My skin moves with the wash cloth. I have an eight inch scar beneath my belly and below that I’ve gone savage.

By the time Kofi returns, again he enters without knocking or announcing himself. I’m perched on top of the bathroom counter doing extensive damage control: the makeup bag that I managed to dig out from underneath the sink has vomited its contents all over the place. I apply a generous amount of make-up and pull my hair back in a perfectly parted, elegant twist, at the nape of my neck. Although it makes me look like a pudgy ballerina, it’s better than a disheveled housewife.

Kofi grabs a shirt and pants from the top of one of the clothes piles, sniffs them, and then puts them on. He pats his pockets and discovers his phone and wallet. His eyes grow bigger when he notices me. “You’re not even dressed yet?” He begins to pace about the way he does when he’s nervous. “Your friend’s coming over and she’ll be here any minute. You should be ready by now.”

“Who’s coming Piper or Jo-Jo? I know you wouldn’t call Celia. I couldn’t handle her honesty right now anyway.”

“I called Elaine. She’s very concerned about you and is on her way over.”

“Who?”

“Our neighbor.” He slips his feet in his shoes without unlacing them. “You don’t really talk to those other girls much anymore.”

“It’s because we don’t get reception in the burbs, isn’t it?” Something squeezes hard in my chest. “Oh God, you moved me to a place that’s out of network.”

“Babe, I know this is a lot to take in, but maybe we can get more answers from the doctor.”

The doorbell rings.

“Let’s go,” Kofi says, “I know Elaine really wants to see you. She’s really worried about you.”

“Send her away,” I say, trying to summon some composure. “I’m not ready to meet anyone right now.”

“You’re not meeting, you’re great friends.” He rubs his face hopelessly then says, “That’s right, you don’t know that because you don’t remember. Well,” he speaks quickly, “she offered to babysit while we’re at the doctor, so she’s staying. I’ll just ask her to stay with Nico in the kitchen while we sneak out.” Kofi moves across the room at a pace four times that of mine. “Can you please hurry up and get dressed?”

I roll my eyes to mean, whatever, and he leaves with a loud sigh.

The sounds of Kofi and a chirpy, disembodied voice head down the hall toward the kitchen.

Now according to my lingerie drawer, I’ve given up on sexy. All undergarments are functional and supportive, meant to stay concealed and not revealed. My panties are white and made of cotton and –oh God!- they’re tall. Why, why? My brassieres are built with technological and scientific sophistication. They cover my entire chest, with three inch straps and needing a five clasp panel system in the rear. I then origami my breasts to get them in my bra.

Everything in “my” closet is casual, conservative and machine washable. I’m completely underwhelmed by my options and trying to put something acceptable together with what I have is like my own Project Runway challenge. I pick out a shirt that has a pattern that gives me vertigo and hope since it’s been at least five years that poly-cotton blends are just a bad trend like the visible g-string or holey jeans. I reluctantly pull on a pair of high waist jeans. I lace up my shoes and then admire the finished product. I do my signature runway walk to a half length mirror and hit my pose, but instead of looking fierce, I look healthy, plump, and jolly.

Kofi puts his head in around the door. Can’t he knock?

“Ready?” he asks, looking at the woman in the mirror, who vaguely resembles the woman he dated five years ago. “Babe, you know we’re just going to the hospital right?”

“What do you mean?”

“You look…” he stops, then starts again, “glamorous…like you’re getting ready for the theater and not a doctor’s appointment.”

I give a few twirls and wonder what Kofi’s complimenting. I have always appreciated his trustworthiness and candor, but my suspicions are now raised to his sincerity.

Kofi grabs my arm. “Come on. We have to get out of here before Nico catches wind that we’re leaving.” I hear urgency in his voice. “Let’s go quietly. And don’t step there,” he points to a spot on the floor. “That board’s loose.” Kofi moves like a ninja but I walk with a heavy foot on a rubber sole. “Shhh, tiptoe,” but it’s too late.

I hear the frantic pitter patter of running feet before an advancing blur attacks me from down below. The next thing I know the little boy, “Nico” I presume. He has his legs wrapped, then locked, around my midsection. He’s squeezing the breath out of me and I’m unable to withstand the weight of his forty plus pound frame. I begin to crumble, hitting the floor. My foundation is smudged almost instantly and my hair comes undone.

“Help me,” I say with my last breath, “I think he’s trying to kill me.”

Nearly blacking out but revived by his high pitched piercing scream, “Don’t go!” The kid is covered in tears and getting slobber on my hair and neck. Then he plants his face into my shirt and wipes it across the front, leaving a snot streak. I’m appalled that I was just used as a tissue. “Mama, don’t leave!”

I don’t know who this mama person is, but I run for the exit. I reach for the door handle, that much closer to freedom, when I hear something, like an echo. It’s coming from the back of the house, and the sound is suspiciously familiar.

“What’s that noise?” I gasp. “Oh no. Do I also have a baby?”

“No,” Kofi replies, frantically pushing me towards the door.

“Oh, thank God. I just couldn’t handle that right now.” I’ve got one foot out the door. I can almost taste the escape.

“We have two.”

praise

“Funny yet tender…witty and charming…a reminder of the things that really matter in life.” – Jackie Bouchard, USA Today Bestselling Author of What the Dog Ate

“A sparkling debut novel brimming with heart and hilarity.” – Karin Gillespie, National Bestselling Author of Girl Meet Class

“With a marvelously snarky, sarcastic wit and a formidably flawed heroine, Wake-Up Call is frequently laugh-out-loud—and hard to put down.” – Phoebe Fox, Author of The Breakup Doctor Series and Huffington Post Contributor

“I laughed through every page…I never wanted to put it down…hilarious.” – Holly Rust, Co-Founder of Mother’s Guide to Sanity and Contributing Author of It’s Really 10 Months: Special Delivery

One of the best I have read this year… a great read especially if you are feeling the strain of raising small children and you are dreaming about the greener grass in someone else’s yard.” – A Novel Mama

“A sarcastic, snarky, funny look at life and all the things we never knew we really wanted.” – The Books Lover’s Best Friend

“Hilariously funny…endearing and heartfelt.” – Library Thing

“Thought-provoking…relatable…loved.” – Tara Wilson, Co-Author of Martinis & Motherhood: Tales of Wonder, Woe & WTF?!

“A lighthearted read, with lots of love, hilarity, some sexiness and definitely a good time.” – Comfy Reading

“Fresh, funny, and compulsively readable. I loved it!”– Kati Merritt Radziwon, Founder of OneMomADay.com

“I love everything about Avanzino’s writing; it’s witty, true and extremely smart. She is awesome at creating hilarious dialogue and her characterization is also spot on. I love how she has taken a run-of-the-mill suburban street and plucked so many fascinating stories from amongst its residents” –Bookaholic Confessions

“Amy Avanzino has quickly developed a reputation for writing realistic characters and situations that truly touch the heart and inspire.” –BestChickLit.com

meet the author

Amy Avanzino received a Bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley and a Master’s from the University of Washington. She is a former special education teacher who has spent the last several years writing and doing extensive hands-on research for her Wake-Up Series, the first of which is Wake-Up Call. She’s a contributing writer of Hap Scotch, a play performed at the 2008 Frigid Festival in New York, which won two Audience Choice Awards. Amy currently lives in the stands above the football fields, basketball courts, and baseball diamonds around Folsom, California with her husband and four children.

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