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NO HOLDS BARRED with Stephanie Nicole Norris

Write Now Literary is pleased to be coordinating a blog tour Stephanie Nicole Norris. This tour will run April 23, 2018. Book your own tour here.

Title: No Holds Barred
Genre: African American Contemporary Romance
ASIN: B07C8J6DH9
Read for free with Amazon Kindle Unlimited

Meet Stephanie

Stephanie Nicole Norris is an author from Chattanooga Tennessee with a humble beginning. Always being a lover of reading, during Stephanie’s teenage years her joy was running to the bookmobile to read stories by R. L. Stine.

After becoming a young adult, her love for romance sparked leaving her captivated by heroes and heroines alike. With a big imagination and a creative heart, Stephanie penned her first novel Trouble In Paradise and self-published it in 2012. Her debut novel turned into a four book series full of romance, drama, and suspense. As a prolific writer, Stephanie’s catalog continues to grow. Her books can be found on Amazon dot com. Stephanie is inspired by the likes of Donna Hill, Eric Jerome Dickey, Jackie Collins, and more. She currently resides in Tennessee with her husband and two-year-old son.

About the Book

Love was no longer on the menu for Camilla Augustina. After her fiancé calls off the wedding not once but twice, Camilla’s had enough. In a brazen move, she takes a new position in the windy city of Chicago; leaving her parents, friends, and ex in a bittersweet goodbye. Adapting to her new surroundings isn’t easy but as Camilla settles in a chance encounter with an infamous playboy throws her off balance and rattles her world. She hadn’t expected to be drawn so meticulously to another but denying the magnetism that lures her is a futile fight.

As President of VFC Energy, a fortune 500 company, Hunter Valentine is at the top of his game. The renowned bachelor holds no secrets about his risqué rendezvous, and his allegiance is saved for family only. However, when Hunter spots Camilla Augustina, dining alone at the breakfast hut in his building, he can’t explain the adulation that runs through his core and shakes his entire world. Lust never weakened him like this, and the inclination of love at first site was silly. But when Hunter decides to prove the sudden rapture is unreal, he may find himself enamored by love.d

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Inspirational to Suspense -- Meet Donneil, Siera, Sierra Kay, and Tonya

Write Now Literary is pleased to be coordinating a blog tour for  authors Siera London, Tonya Barbee, Donneil Jackson and Sierra Kay. This book blast tour will run April 20, 2018. Book your own tour here.

                                      Meet Donneil D. Jackson

Donneil D. Jackson is a writer by nature and a Jersey girl by heart. Growing up a sheltered child, she used writing as an escape from her everyday life. She discovered that with writing she could be someone else, do things Donneil would never do and entertain others. Donneil has been writing for as long as she can remember, ever since her mother placed a pencil in her hand. The girl has a niche for painting an elaborate scene while telling a descriptive tale. One day she began writing Chante’s Song marking the beginning of her professional writing career.

Learn more at: http://www.donneildjackson.com

                                                
    About the Book

As one of the hottest radio personalities, Kayla, the Gossip Queen, has the fast-paced, glamorous life that many dream of. But one thing eludes her. Love. Growing up in a family where her father was nothing more than a ghost, Kayla sets her sights on finding true love and creating the perfect family of husband, wife, home, and children–even if she has to slip up and make a ton of mistakes along the way.

When she meets Shawn Dewitt at a club, their attraction is immediate. Despite the less than perfect beginnings, such as dealing with Shawn’s deranged ex-girlfriend, Kayla finds herself falling hard and fast. All Kayla sees is Shawn’s charm, great looks and mind-blowing sex. She braces herself for the highs of love and the lows of perpetual infidelity and lies.
After being with a man who constantly makes her question her role in his life and her vision of the perfect family, Kayla has to ask herself, “Am I right to fight for this love, or am I being foolish?”

Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction
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                                                                  Meet Siera London

Siera London, a former naval officer, is a #1 Amazon Bestselling Author of contemporary romance and romantic suspense. A native Floridian, her love of coastal towns and bustling cities shines through in her sassy and sexy storytelling. Currently, she resides in southern California with her husband and a color patch tabby named Frie.

Learn more at: http://www.sieralondon.com

                                                   About the Book

Recently divorced, Sarah Jones no longer looks forward to the cupid and candy holiday. With her shattered heart and designer swimsuit in tow, she plans a little vacation to Adventure Cove Resort and Spa. It’s just the respite she needs from inquiring minds.

Quiet and brooding, Deputy Lance Stevens wants to be left alone with the pain of his past mistakes, but his family has other ideas. This contrived vacation is another family intervention he plans to squash, that is until Sarah zips into his life.
What’s meant to be Sarah’s escape turns into a steamy attraction to a man who’s too young, and too determined to get what he wants-her. Lance is forbidden in more ways than one and Sarah is harboring a secret that could destroy more than their budding romance. What happens when Ms. Jones realizes there’s more than a Valentine’s Day fling going on?

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Amazon

                              Meet Sierra Kay

Sierra Kay has an M.A. in Writing from DePaul University, won a Nuyorican Poets Cafe Short Story Slam, participated in comedy fests as a member of the writing teams for Spankx and N20 Comedy. She also writes poetry and suspense novels. Obviously, she’ll try anything at least once. Her two novels are available online.

Learn more at: sierrakay.com.

         About the Book

The Grim Reaper has visited Echo Charles so often he might as well have his mail forwarded to her address.
Echo never quite recovered from the loss of her parents to a tragic accident on her twenty-first birthday. Now fourteen years later, she mourns their death of her career, her social life, and if the reaper has his way, the death of her best friend’s lover. The only ray of light in all this darkness is Dr. Brandon Hall, who has had run-ins with the reaper himself—especially when his ex-wife put a choke hold on his bank account along with his belief in love.

Dr. Daniel Ellington’s touch provided the electricity that pumped Telia Arthur’s heart, and a life without his smile was unthinkable. However, an unfortunate accident spared the lives of their children and left his hanging in the balance. Now Telia must deal with a challenge only a few people know about, in addition to Dan’s mother who has descended on Telia intent on securing control of Daniel’s wealth as well as his heirs, all while her son is fighting for his life. Telia and Echo began a friendship in elementary school that has blossomed into sisterhood. But their emotions are being dragged over concrete. Will love conquer all or become another victim of the reaper?

Genre: Suspense
Amazon

                                                                   Meet Tonya

Tonya Barbee, Founder of I am Still a Rose, LLC (IASAR), has a passion to help those who want to be helped. It took her awhile to realize that she had to make a change in her life in order to get the change she was looking for. After betrayal, emotional abuse, and other turmoil, she had to self-reflect, learn to forgive, and move beyond her pain. Her commitment is to help inspire and empower those that are ready to start a new chapter and to stop those vicious cycles.

IASAR will offer events, conferences, plays, and inspirational products that empower women to get past their circumstances to get to their triumphs. Tonya is an inspirational speaker who uses her experiences to uplift women who have had similar circumstances and are ready for resolution. She’s spiritual, energized, funny, and eager to help encourage others to never, ever give up.

Tonya never dreamed of writing books but she’s always enjoyed telling stories and sharing profound testimonies. Her listeners inspired her to write and the rest is history. The Little Girl Inside is her first project, followed by a short story, a collaborative project with ten amazing authors who bared their souls through heart wrenching testimonies. Tonya’s short story is titled, Prayer Works, in Sharing Our Prayers, which is followed by her latest (soon to be released), I Am Still A Rose, a sequel to the Little Girl Inside. She’s working on several other exciting projects so stay tuned.

Tonya resides in Maryland and enjoys spending time with her incredible four children and seven grandchildren that have stolen her heart.

Learn more at: http://www.tonyabarbee.com

                                                     About the Book

It’s love (or the misconception of such). It’s betrayal. It’s triumph! It is all three wrapped into one self reflecting book written by an author whose relationship struggles helped shape and define her as the self sufficient woman she is today.

If you have endured the difficult dynamics of a relationship and often wondered why the cycle kept repeating then this book is the perfect guide to help you evaluate yourself internally before giving your heart externally. You will find the much desired answers to your “who’s,” “what’s,” “when’s” why’s,” and “how’s” of your past relationship issues.

Aren’t you exhausted from the same ole same ole? It is time to STOP, reflect and make changes that will help you get it right!
As you read this book, you will experience the author’s journey as she continuously seeks the fairy tale relationship only to discover the fairy tale relationship never comes. Her pain will become yours as you begin to relate with the various bad relationships documented. However, her victory will become yours as you will learn how to effectively build upon and maintain a healthy and fulfilling relationship. You will quickly become empowered and inspired to start afresh and live your life to the very fullest.

Genre: Nonfiction, Inspirational
Amazon

SIT, STAY, LOVE Tour & giveaway with Debbie Burns

Title: Sit, Stay, Love
Author: Debbie Burns
Series: Rescue Me, #2
Pub Date: April 3, 2018
Genre: Contemporary

These dogs aren’t the only ones in need of rescue

For devoted no-kill shelter worker Kelsey Sutton, rehabbing a group of rescue dogs is a welcome challenge. Working with a sexy ex-military dog handler who needs some TLC himself? That’s a different story.

Kurt Crawford keeps his heart locked away from everyone. Well, everyone except the dogs who need his help…and always have his back. But as Kurt gets to know the compassionate, beautiful woman he’s been assigned to work with, he can’t help but feel a little puppy love…

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     Kurt’s skin was crawling, and the tightness in his jaw had migrated to his temples. His shoulders and spine tensed as he scanned the parameters of the long, open warehouse like he was on patrol. The rear of the building was blocked off by accordion-style dividers. It bothered him that he couldn’t see past them.
It was the smell setting him on edge, he finally realized. Not the obvious smell—the smell of hot, unbathed dog multiplied by 150. That smacked you in the face when you stepped through the doors. Unnerving him was the underlying scent of fear radiating from the expansive rows of crates that were dwarfed by the thirty-foot ceiling and five-thousand-square-foot floor.
Dogs didn’t have sweat glands, so it wasn’t as if the smell was coming out of their pores. But he’d been in the service long enough to know fear when he smelled it—his own, another human’s, a dog’s. Metallic and salty—like blood, only subtler.
The gushy blond accompanying him on the tour wasn’t setting him at ease either as she squatted down and talked to every crated dog. The bumper sticker on the back of her Corolla—the bright-yellow car he’d parked by had to be hers; he’d seen her keys—was a telltale enough sign she wasn’t right for this job. I BRAKE FOR TURTLES. He didn’t know what Rob was thinking, sending a bunch of trained fighters off to be in this girl’s care.
The bumper sticker wasn’t the only thing he noticed. She was tall and strikingly pretty in an understated, natural way, and she had an hourglass figure.
Not that her looks mattered.
What mattered was that dogs treated the way most of these had likely been treated—stuck in crates or tied to chains and freed only to fight—needed much more than soft words and treats passed through the bars of their crates.
“She seems sweet enough,” she said of the mastiff mix displaying submission along with a good deal of stress while being stared down through the door. Her voice was easy and calm like the slow pour of honey.
Kurt gritted his teeth as she pulled free a yellow sticky and pressed it on top of the crate. Yellow. Seriously? Her and her stickies. He’d stifled a laugh earlier when he figured out her system. Pink for definitely, yellow for maybe, blue for pass. She’d only used one blue sticky so far, and the way that Rott had attacked the cage door, Kurt wouldn’t have been surprised if he was rabid.
The next dog they came to was a giant. Rather than being crammed into one of the crates, he was in an oversized kennel. He stood when they approached, making it easier to inspect him. The long hair around his neck and along his upper back pricked straight up, declaring the animal’s unease. And unlike most of the gigantic dogs Kurt had come across at one time or another, this one seemed anything but easygoing.
With his tail stuck straight out, the massive animal looked at each one in the group alternately, fixing them with a striking stare that in Kurt’s mind was akin to a dare.
Kurt forced back a protest as the blond pressed a pink sticky on the front of the giant dog’s kennel. So, she’d be throwing a man-sized dog with a heavily alpha demeanor into the mix, wherever she was taking them.
Kurt nodded to the partitions blocking off the back of the warehouse. “What’s behind door number three?”
Rob’s lips pursed almost imperceptibly. “Long shots and TLCs. Nothing she needs to see. For the long shots, it’ll be a bit before we have a sense of whether or not they can be rehabbed into traditional homes. The others will stay until they need less intensive care.”
Maybe the dogs in those cages would shake some sense into the girl. “She should know what she’s getting into. Know how bad it can be.” The blond’s eyebrows furrowed as she listened. She closed one arm over her stomach, wrapping her hand around her other elbow, drawing his attention to her chest, though he knew not intentionally. She reminded him of one of those ancient hand-carved fertility statues. No makeup that he could see, light-brown eyes with flecks of gold, and hips in perfect proportion to her chest. And he had the distinct feeling she had no idea of the heads she turned every day.
She was dressed for a day on the job in faded jeans and a V-neck tee that was the color of orange sherbet. It read “ADOPT,” except that there was an impression of a dog paw in the middle instead of an “O”.
“I wouldn’t mind seeing everything,” she said, watching two young guys Rob had introduced at the start of the tour roll a crate behind the blocked-from-view partition after bringing it in through a side door. “You’re getting more dogs this morning?”
One side of Rob’s mouth pulled up into a half smile, half grimace. “No new animals are coming in until this evening. The pit my guys are rolling back was in surgery yesterday. A couple local vets have volunteered their services. And right now, it’s triage.” He tapped his fingers against his temple and gave a light shake of his head. “Come on, if you want. I’ll let you see.”

Debbie Burns lives in St. Louis with her family, two phenomenal rescue dogs, and a somewhat tetchy Maine coon cat who everyone loves anyway. Her hobbies include hiking, gardening, and daydreaming, which, of course, always leads to new story ideas.

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RUNNING THE RISK & giveaway w/ Lea Griffith

     When her man slept, he slept like the dead. She smiled ruefully. Not that they’d ever done much sleeping. A sharp pang hit her heart. He wasn’t hers anymore, was he? She drew in a deep breath, hoping to find the calm center that had served her so well the last year. Now wasn’t the time to deal with what she’d left behind. She had to keep him safe in the here and now so she could hopefully explain everything to him when the time was right.
She’d taken down the remaining four attackers and then the Piper had helped her relocate Jude to another safe house on the outskirts of Sarajevo. This one belonged to longtime Endgame associate, Adam Babic.
Ella had to make sure Jude was okay before she took off. Adam would handle Jude’s safety until he woke. The Piper was doing his best to find out who had sent the two teams of killers after her. Ella thought it could be any number of people though she ruled out Segorski pretty quick. He wanted her alive and it was clear by the shock and awe method of attack that they’d been there to eliminate their target, not capture.
An insidious thought crept in. Maybe they hadn’t come for her at all. Maybe the two teams of assassins had followed the Piper. Ella acknowledged the chill bumps breaking out on her skin. Fear was a fine emotion. It kept you sharp. But Ella hadn’t been born to this life like Jude had. She’d been molded and the fear was her friend and foe. She had to work to overcome it.
If they’d followed the Piper that meant someone was on to him. He had suspected for a while that someone higher up even than he in the Presidential administration had been gunning for him. They’d started by trying to take out Endgame. It wasn’t common knowledge that Noah Caine, aka, the Piper, had created a private spec ops entity, but it wasn’t exactly buried six feet deep either. On paper, they provided logistical support and security for private contractors rebuilding countries like Afghanistan and Iraq. It was unspoken but understood that they delved into the gray whenever they needed to. Whose feet had the Piper stepped on? Or was it just Dresden?
Ella needed to have a little sit-down with the Piper. It really was time he came clean on some things.
There was also the fact that if they hadn’t been after the Piper, they’d been after her. If that was the case, she needed to find out who it was and fast.
She rested her head on the bed beside Jude’s arm. She was so damn tired.
“He’s got to stop.” One of the men who’d cost her damn near everything had entered the room. Ella sighed soundlessly.
“He’ll never stop. I told you this and you said you could handle him, keep him busy on missions that wouldn’t get him killed and keep him far away from Dresden,” she reminded the Piper. She stopped for a moment and really looked at him. Maybe she’d get to ask him one day why they called him Piper. “You look really tired, old man.”
He snorted before rubbing his eyes. “I am old. Too old for this shit.”
Ella shrugged. “You set the board and now moves are being made. This was what it was all about,” she bit out.
Piper nodded. “I did my best but the bastard just keeps coming, doesn’t he?” There was a rueful note in his voice as he disregarded her comment.
“Yeah,” she returned. “He does.”
She raised her head and stared at Jude. His eyes remained closed but she felt his attention. He was awake. Ella stood then and moved away from the bed. Jude’s eyes opened immediately, the black of his gaze snaring her, refusing to let her leave completely.
Always it was Jude. In every dream, in every breath, it was always Jude.
She watched him, noticing the exact instant he realized he was strapped to the bed. He tugged on each arm once and relaxed. Or at least he appeared to relax. With Jude that was never a true reality. He was at all times ready for anything.
“Take them off,” he demanded in a deep voice. His gaze never left hers.
She opened her mouth—to say what she didn’t know—but the Piper beat her to it. “No.”
Jude continued to stare at Ella. “Take them off or when I get free I’ll make you both pay.”
There was so much in his gaze. Questions, pain, rage—it was a tangle of emotion that traveled the air between them. And Ella was in no position to give him the answers or assurances he needed from her. Had needed for over a year now.
“Jude—” she began.
“I don’t deal with traitors,” he bit out.
Oh, that hurt. Cut bone deep and left her bleeding inside.
“No one has asked you to, son,” the Piper said, his voice now low and carrying a hint of frustration. “Then again, no one here is a traitor.”
The skin over Jude’s cheekbones went ruddy. Ella had really only seen them do that when he buried inside her so it was unique that she was seeing it now, and for an entirely different emotion. He was furious. Unfortunately, there was nothing she could do about that.
Jude’s gaze finally shifted to the creator of Endgame Ops. “Take off the restraints.”
The Piper shook his head and stopped beside the bed. “No. There is work to be done and while I would love nothing more than to release you, we appear to have different objectives. Ella Banning has a mission to complete, and you, Keeper, have to return to your team. If I let you out of the restraints, you’ll take her and I know what you’re apparently blind to—she’ll go with you, willingly, if it means you stay safe. And it will destroy any chance we have of finding out who is pulling Horace Dresden’s strings.”
Jude sat abruptly, reclining one second, upright the next. The chains attached to the leather cuffs on his arms and legs jangled against the metal framework of the bed he was on. The sound was strident and Ella winced. The Piper shifted to his right. Her back snapped straight and she reached for the weapon in her side holster, snapping the strap holding it in place.
Jude’s head rotated and once again she was pinned under his night-sky gaze. “You gonna shoot me, Ella-Bella?”
Her breath left her in a rush. He doubted her and it—hurt. She would never shoot Jude. But she’d earned his doubt and would have to carry it with her when she left. The Piper’s head swiveled in her direction and his pupils dilated. He lowered the hand that had been reaching for his weapon and took a small step back from Jude.
“I wouldn’t shoot him,” the Piper said wearily.
“I wouldn’t let you,” she responded, making sure her voice didn’t waver but conveyed her intent.

 

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Maggie Wells' PLAY FOR KEEPS excerpt & Giveaway

A rush of power pulsed through her veins. She tipped her chin and upped the ante with a full-on sassy-pants grin. “Well, good luck. I hope everything works out for you.”
He stopped, standing way too near for either of them to be completely unaffected. “I’m going to see you later, aren’t I?”
The husky, intimate timbre of his voice short-circuited her brain. “What?”
She darted a meaningful glance at Mike seated behind his desk with his hands resting on the blotter. He studied them with narrowed eyes, like they were a couple of amoebas trapped under a microscope slide. Or worse, as if they were hooligans, and he was trying to figure out which one had thrown a baseball through his window.
Clearing her throat, she arched her brows as she tried to deflect with some good old-fashioned professional detachment. “What’s scheduled for later?”
Ty tapped the travel documents in her hand with one long finger. “You, me, flying to the Big Apple.” He flattened his hand and mimed an airplane taking off. “You wanted a front-row seat for my beheading, remember?”
She blinked, then scrambled to recover as she threw up mental barriers in front of every naughty thought the prospect of jetting off to New York with this man spawned. “I’d never wish for any such thing,” she said, pressing her hand to her heart and aiming for an accent reminiscent of a scandalized Southern belle. “The dry-cleaning bill would be horrendous.”
Mike barked a laugh as he pushed his chair back. “Our Millie, the soul of sympathy.” He came around the desk and extended his hand to Ty. “Be good. Do everything the boss lady tells you to do,” he added with a nod in her direction.
“Yes, sir,” Ty answered, his smirk growing into a smile so wide, it upgraded his face from merely handsome to breathtaking. “I always do whatever Ms. Jensen thinks is best.”
“Good luck.” Mike gave Ty a slap on the back, then ushered them both toward the outer office. “We’ll be watching.”
Before she could get another word in edgewise, the door closed behind them, and she and Ty were left facing each other. At last, Ty glanced over at the solid mahogany door. “If I didn’t know he’d played football, I’d swear the guy was a point guard.”
Millie nodded. “I guess there’s a good reason they call them directors.”
The athletic director’s assistant didn’t look up or even break rhythm in her typing. “I emailed copies of your itineraries to your university and personal emails as well.”
Millie recovered first. Pulling the mantle of brisk efficiency around her like a cloak, she plastered a big smile onto her face and started toward the open doorway to the hall. “You’re the best, SaraAnn,” she called over her shoulder.
“I know!”
Millie laughed, and her stride hitched. Then, six feet eight inches of freight-train-solid man almost plowed right over her.
“Oh! Oof!”
His hands closed around her upper arms. Millie wasn’t quite sure if he was trying to catch himself or keep her from falling, but she figured intention hardly mattered as long as they didn’t end up on the floor of the main hall in a tangled heap.
“Sorry,” he breathed as he shifted his center of balance to correct their momentum.
Ty repeated the apology under his breath while he straightened to his full height once again, but she waved the annoying little word away. “I didn’t use my brake lights.” Too chicken to look directly at him, she cracked open the cover and peeked at the neatly typed schedule inside as she pivoted away from him. “So I guess I’ll see you at the airport this evening.”
“About that.” He fell into step beside her, waylaying her attempt to escape. “I was wondering what you’d think about giving me a ride.”
She wasn’t sure if it was his phrasing or the hopeful note in his voice, but something set off the warning bells in her head. She paid about as much attention to the clamor as a native New Yorker does a car alarm. “A ride?”
“Not that kind of ride,” he said with a chuckle. “Wait. No.” He drew to a sudden halt, and automatically, she stopped too. His forehead puckered as he gave the innuendo due consideration. “Yes to both kinds, if you’re willing.”
“Stop.” She raised a hand to underscore the command.
A wicked smile curved his sculpted lips, but he ducked his head deferentially. “A ride in your car to the airport,” he clarified.
She thrust her hip out, standing her ground. “You locker room jocks think everything is an opening, don’t you?”
“I am a playmaker,” he countered.

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Enter to win one of five copies of Love Game by Maggie Wells!

Title: Play for Keeps
Author: Maggie Wells
Series: Love Games, #2
Pub Date: April 3, 2018
Genre: Contemporary

Mixing business and pleasure is a dangerous game…

Tyrell Ransom, the new men’s basketball coach, is ready to whip his team into shape and start winning some games. But when compromising photos of his soon-to-be-ex-wife with one of his players go viral, everything comes crashing down. With reporters thick on the ground, Ty and his team need some serious damage control—now.

When public relations guru Millie Jenkins arrives in her leopard-print cape to save the day, things really heat up… Soon they’re going to have to work double time to keep their white-hot chemistry out of the headlines.

By day, Maggie Wells is buried in spreadsheets. At night she pens tales of people tangling up the sheets. The product of a charming rogue and a shameless flirt, you only have to scratch the surface of this mild-mannered married lady to find a naughty streak a mile wide. She has a passion for college football, processed cheese foods, and happy endings. Not necessarily in that order. She lives in Arkansas.

Find Maggie Online:
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Christie Caldwell's HELLION w/ giveaway

Message From Heroine Cleopatra Killoran

A knife-fight in the Dials. Plucking a nob’s purse with a constable underfoot. Scaling a London rooftop.  

Want me to go on, do you? Because I can go on and on with the list goes of things I’d rather do than live with the fancy nobs in Mayfair. Yet, that is precisely where I, Cleopatra Killoran find myself.  

Nor is this just any fancy family I’m living with—this is the Black family, hated enemies. Our feud goes back to the streets of St. Giles when we were all poorer, powerless, and scraping to survive. Oh, don’t go thinking the Killorans want for anything—not now. Not any longer. We’ve built The Devil’s Den the most prosperous gaming hell that’s lined our pockets and kept us safe. But for my brother, Broderick—it’s not enough. It’s never enough. It’s why he’s determined to marry one of his sisters: me, Ophelia, or Gertrude, off to some toff.  

And though I’d sooner split my side open than concede a point to Broderick or anyone—I not only see my brother’s fear, but I understand it. After living amongst the rats with an empty belly and a hard floor a person’s only mattress, that fear is with you. It’s always with you and keeps you on edge…if you’re clever. Terror that everything one’s built will be taken away and one will find oneself back in those hated streets, cloying to survive once more. Yes, Broderick was sending one of us and I’ll be damned if he sacrifices Gertrude or Ophelia. I’m the protector. The one who’ll keep them safe. And so I went.  

I was prepared for everything I’d face.  

Or I thought I was.  

What I didn’t anticipate was Adair Thorne. Black’s brother of the streets. I see the way he watches me. Carefully. With suspicion. Anger. He no more wants me here than I wanted to come. It was clear from the moment I entered the house, and he made the mistake of trying to take my dagger from me. And yet, there’s something else, there, too in his eyes, every time he touches his gaze on me–desire. And god help me, I feel it, too.

***

Excerpt from The Hellion

At last they reached the far recesses of the townhouse: one of the last doors in the long hallway. Thorne shot a hand out, and Cleopatra stiffened. He merely pressed the handle. She hesitated. It would be unwise for Thorne to inflict harm upon her. That act would result in an all-out war of the streets. Nonetheless, she bore the scar upon her hand from having entered a room with far less caution than she should. Cleopatra ducked her head inside.

Sunlight streamed through the windows, bathing the spacious, pale-pink chambers in a soft light. Pink. She curled her hands into tight, reflexive balls as a memory whispered forward. Cleopatra as she’d been prowling the streets of London, in search of unsuspecting lords, and seeing a fancy toff alongside a small girl in pink ruffles. The two had laughed and spoken with such a tenderness that, from that point forward, Cleopatra had come to abhor that soft shade of innocence because it reminded her of what she’d truly gone without—a loving parent.

“Not to your liking, Cleopatra?”

She started, grateful to Adair for pulling her back from the humiliating melancholy that struck. It was the first time he’d laid claim to her given name. Hearing him wrap it in his low baritone roused … something peculiar inside. A damned, unwanted fluttering that didn’t have anything to do with hatred or danger, and all the more unnerving for it. She forced herself to look back at him. “That’ll be all,” Cleopatra said, dismissing him like a servant. 

Splotches of color suffused his cheeks.

It was entirely too easy getting under this one’s skin. And for the first time in the whole of that miserable day, she felt the stirrings of amusement.

“Turn around,” he said gruffly.

“Wha—” Cleopatra gasped as he laid his hands to her waist. Her valise tumbled from her fingers, and God help her, the weight of his powerful hand upon her person brought her eyes briefly closed. She fought to draw in a steady breath, but it emerged ragged.

“Wh-what are you doing?” She managed to complete her earlier question, reaching belatedly for her weapon.

Adair gripped her two hands in a firm hold that also had a shocking gentleness to it. He lowered his lips close to her ear; the hint of coffee and cheroots stirred the sensitive skin of her nape. “Surely you don’t think we’ll not search you,” he muttered, wholly unaffected, as he patted her through her gown.

She tried to squeeze out an inventive curse—and came up empty.

Through the fabric of her satin skirts, the heat of his bold touch continued to burn her, holding her immobile. It had been almost ten years since a man had dared to touch her … in any way. That man had lost two fingers for that affront by Cleopatra’s hand herself. Adair’s touch, however, was nothing like that grasping, clumsy one of a toff trying to take a girl against an alleyway. His hand lingered on her belly, and her mouth went dry. In a bid for both nonchalance and control, she peeled her lip back in a sneer. “What good would a weapon tucked inside my gown do me?”

Ignoring her, he dropped to a knee and tugged her skirts up. The slap of cool air on her exposed legs effectively doused whatever maddening pull his touch had inflicted on her senses. “Bastard,” she hissed, shooting her boot out.

With his unencumbered hand, he caught her ankle. “No armed Killoran will sleep under our roof.” In quick order, he divested her of the sapphire-studded dagger and tossed it at the opposite side of the wall.

She silently screamed at the loss of that weapon and struggled against his hold. “Give me my damned knife,” she railed, yanking her foot left and right. Propelling her body sideways, she made a futile grab for the blade. Adair tightened his hold and glanced over to the weapon they battled for. His gaze lingered on that piece she’d retained of Diggory’s. “Don’t even think of it ya lousy bugger,” she seethed. It was the only material item of any value to her.

When he’d joined Diggory’s gang, Broderick had convinced that hated leader of uniform blades to mark their connection. However, with the Celtic symbol of inner strength formed with the gems upon it, the blade was a reminder of her strength and ability to survive in the face of ugliness and evil. She’d be damned if Adair Thorne or any other claimed it for their own. She opened her mouth to bring his ears down but registered his stillness.

A flash of hatred flared in Adair’s green eyes. Did he recognize the blade for what it was? Then, how many who’d crossed unfortunate paths with Mac Diggory or his men had had a similar weapon touched to their throat at one time or another? Or in Cleopatra’s case, countless ones.

Taking advantage of Adair’s distraction, she shot her boot out and caught him between the legs.

The air left him on a swift exhale, and he immediately freed her to clutch at himself. Cleopatra dealt him another kick to his lower belly. She gasped as her toes collided with a hard wall of muscle better suited to a stone statue than a man. Nonetheless, her efforts had the intended effect, and another sharp breath left him. Cleopatra sprang into action and lunged for her dagger. She cried out as that firm, unyielding grip collected her ankle once more, upending her.

Cleopatra pitched forward. She put her palms out to catch herself. Adair swiftly brought her atop him, breaking her fall.

“Hellion,” he whispered, rolling her under him.

Their chests moved in like rhythm as her panting gasps for air blended with his noisy inhalations. The heat and power of him doused her logic and drove back her fear. Unbidden, her gaze went to his lips. Only one man had managed to place his lips this close to her own. She’d been a girl and he’d been a blighter who’d liked to bugger children. At Broderick’s hand, that bastard had paid the price with his life. Yet, the hint of cheroots and coffee lingering on Adair Thorne’s breath was so very different. Intoxicating. His gaze lingered on her mouth. Did she imagine the way his throat worked? “Do not ever put your hands on me, hellion,” he whispered, and that slight movement nearly brought their lips into contact.

Her heart thudded as he slid a hand about her, cupping her at the nape. He’s going to kiss me. He’s going to kiss me, and I want it… 

*** About the Book

Title: The Hellion

Author: Christi Caldwell

Release Date: April 3, 2018

Genre: Historical Romance

Series: Wicked Wallflowers, Book #1

Summary

Adair Thorne has just watched his gaming-hell dream disappear into a blaze of fire and ash, and he’s certain that his competitors, the Killorans, are behind it. His fury and passion burn even hotter when he meets Cleopatra Killoran, a tart-mouthed vixen who mocks him at every turn. If she were anyone else but the enemy, she’d ignite a desire in him that would be impossible to control.

No one can make Cleopatra do anything. That said, she’ll do whatever it takes to protect her siblings―even if that means being sponsored by their rivals for a season in order to land a noble husband. But she will not allow her head to be turned by the infuriating and darkly handsome Adair Thorne.

There’s only one thing that threatens the rules of the game: Cleopatra’s secret. It could unravel the families’ tenuous truce and shatter the unpredictably sinful romance mounting between the hellion…and a scoundrel who could pass for the devil himself.

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Author Biography

USA Today bestselling author Christi Caldwell blames Julie Garwood and Judith McNaught for luring her into the world of historical romance. While sitting in her graduate school apartment at the University of Connecticut, Christi decided to set aside her class notes and try her hand at tales of love. She believes even the most perfect heroes and heroines have imperfections, and she rather enjoys torturing them before giving them a well-deserved happily ever after.
Christi makes her home in southern Connecticut, where she spends her time writing, chasing after her feisty young son, and caring for her twin princesses-in-training. For the latest information about Christi’s releases, future books, and free bonus material, visit www.christicaldwell.com and sign up for her newsletter.

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