Author Archives: Jennifer Reed/ bookjunkiez

About Jennifer Reed/ bookjunkiez

My Niece and Nephew joke that I could open a used book store with all the books that I own. I love to read, that is my addiction. I can't go a week without going to a book store. I love watching CASTLE. I love to write stories and poetry. I also love my family, even though they make me crazy at times. I am a huge Donald Duck Fan.

Raise the Curtain – Blitz

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YA Romance
Date Published:  June 2017
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Seventeen-year-old Alexa Cross is desperate to get to Broadway, but when she receives a failing math grade, hopes of a scholarship disappear. Now she’ll need her father’s help to achieve her dream. The only problem is he doesn’t consider her choice of careers to be sensible and after the pain her family has suffered, Alexa can’t go against his wishes. Trapped between a family she loves and her love of the stage, Alexa will have to find another way to achieve her dream or settle for what her father wants.
West Howell does his best to keep his head down and go unnoticed. It’s easier to be cut off than to try to explain to people why he’s so screwed up. After all, he can’t afford to get into any more trouble. When he’s recruited to tutor the hot, prissy girl from math, he never expects to fall in love with her. Or that she might be the one person who can relate to him.
Together, they may find a way to heal each other and get what they both desperately need, as long as Alexa’s father doesn’t decide that the one thing worse than his daughter’s love of the stage is her love for West.
Excerpt

 

Mr. Guin gave her a moment to adjust to the news and then continued. “Now, I know you’re capable of doing the work. You’re a smart girl, but you’re going to have to buckle down and put in some serious hours or you won’t have enough time to pull your overall grade up before the end of the semester.” He stood and crossed his arms over his chest. “I’m afraid you need more help than I have time to give, and that’s why I’ve spoken with the person in the class with the highest average. He’s going to be tutoring you at my request.”
He. Please don’t let it be West Howell. Please don’t let it be West Howell. Of course, it wouldn’t be. He wasn’t smart. Or was he? The truth was she had no idea. She didn’t know anything about him.
A shadow filled the doorway, and she didn’t have to look up to know her worst nightmare had come true. She could sense his presence like a deer in the woods can sense a predator.
“Ah, here he is now. Miss Cross, I believe you know Mr. Howell?”
She swallowed the lump in her throat and sat up straighter. “Yes, sir.”
“West, I’ll leave it up to the two of you to work out your own schedule.”
West nodded, but remained quiet. Alexa was working hard not to stand up and pull her hair out like some sort of animated character in a cartoon while laughing hysterically. This could not be happening.
Mr. Guin continued on, unaware she was one step away from hysterics. “I’ll expect the two of you to work together four days a week.”
Alexa’s mouth dropped open, but no sound came out.
“I’ll evaluate your progress by the extra assignments you’ll be required to turn in at the end of each week. Also, if Mr. Howell feels you aren’t doing your absolute best to succeed or if he feels you aren’t taking this second chance seriously, he’s been told to report to me immediately. You will not fail this class because you weren’t given every opportunity to succeed. The only way to fail is to give up.” Mr. Guin leaned down toward her. “And we both know you’re not a quitter.”
While she appreciated the chance and his opinion of her work ethic, she was having a hard time concentrating on anything other than having to spend time outside of class with West four days a week. And now, he also knew she was an idiot. Perfect.
About the Author

Christina Kirby is the author of the Warm Springs Trilogy, A Face In the Crowd, and writes YA under the name Kirby Hall. She holds a degree in Public Relations from Auburn University and is currently a stay at home mom to two sons. An avid reader of romance and obsessed with good TV, Christina likes nothing more than to talk pop culture with other fans. She also believes a copy of Entertainment Weekly and a chocolate chip cookie can cure anything. Christina writes young adult romance novels under the pen name Kirby Hall.
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LAVENDER FIELDS – Release Blitz

NEW BOOK RELEASE
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LAVENDER FIELDS
Natalina Reis
Genre: MM Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Hot Tree Publishing
Publication Date: July 15, 2017
One Angel To Bind You. One Angel To Save You.
Sky Heavensent, an angel of death, is charged with the collection of souls of the recently departed. Known to his peers and immediate supervisor, the archangel Gabriel, as the liability, Sky puts his heart and soul into everything he does.
When he meets Caleb Pierce, Sky is immediately smitten. The problem is Caleb is the soul he came to earth to harvest, and saving him means breaking one of the most sacred angelic directives.
Already in too deep, Sky pushes aside the consequences and follows his heart. Danger and mayhem follow, but he will do everything in his power to protect his lavender-eyed man.

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Available now. Grab your copy today.
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An Excerpt from the Book

Take an inside look at Lavender Fields. Read this sizzling excerpt from the book.
When I read Caleb’s name on my mission note, my heart had taken control over my brain. I flew the fastest I ever had to the site where he was to meet his demise, not quite sure of what I was about to do. In the end I didn’t hesitate. I saw his bike as it careened around the curve, heading straight for a semi truck driving the wrong way. Before I even realized what I was doing, I plunged down in front of the truck and swept Caleb off his bike just as it fell and slid sideways under the giant tires.
“What did you do that for?” Caleb asked, surprised. I pointed to where his bike was nothing but a pile of mangled metal. “Fuck! You…. I…. Was I the soul you came to harvest? Am I dead?”
I laughed. A nervous chuckle as reality began to sink in. I had just saved the soul I came to take away. “You’re not dead. I saved you.”
Afraid of being spotted, I flew us into the first sheltered spot I could find and put him down gently.
“Are you supposed to do that?” His eyes were mesmerizing, and I found I couldn’t take mine off them. I nodded, incapable of uttering a sound. “I thought you were supposed to take my soul to—well, hopefully Heaven. Why did you save me?”
I should’ve just flown away and hoped for the best. Instead, I grabbed his T-shirt, pulled him closer to me, and kissed him. This had to be some kind of seraphic madness for which I was in no hurry to find the cure. Caleb didn’t fight me, raising his hands and threading his fingers through my curls while his tongue explored my mouth. Ambrosia. Pure, intoxicating ambrosia.
“This is madness.” His breath caressed my lips, and I had to refrain from crushing him between my craving body and the wall behind him. “Am I dreaming, Sky? Hallucinating, maybe? You’re an angel. A real, honest-to-God angel.”
In the back of my mind there was a foggy idea of his earlier statement about having met another angel before, but the slow burning in my gut quickly convinced my brain to ignore it and focus on the task at hand. My hands had become a force to be reckoned with, moving of their own accord beneath his T-shirt, eager to explore every detail of his body.
It was indeed madness. I had just saved my charge. There would be hell to pay.
With that last thought I came to an abrupt realization. I stopped my hands and detached my lips from his, breathless and suddenly anxious. I was in so much trouble. “As much as it pains me to say and do this, I have to go.” I wanted to stay so badly. “I have to tell Gabriel what just happened. He’s not going to be happy.”
My eyes locked with his and I was flying over those sweet scented fields again. My lips stretched into an uncontrollable smile.
“I don’t know why you did it, but thank you for saving me,” he said, sunshine taking over his face. I may be the angel, but he shone as if enveloped in a halo. “When will I see you again?”
Could I stay and ignore the call of responsibility? I wanted to. God, did I want it. But I knew I couldn’t. Being an angel meant I wasn’t free to do as I pleased. My life was not my own, and if I stayed the Corps would find me one way or another. Easier to just go and face the music. At least Gabriel wouldn’t be able to accuse me of being a coward.
“Soon.” I hope. I touched my lips briefly to his and then, unfurling my wings, I took off, heading upwards toward the clouds and the wrath of the angels.

Giveaway

WIN $10 GC AND MORE!
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Prizes up for grabs:
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Contest runs from July 20 – 26, 2017.

About Natalina Reis

Natalina Reis

Natalina wrote her first romance at the age of 13 in collaboration with her best friend. Since then she has ventured into other genres, but romance is first and foremost in almost everything she writes. She’s the author of We Will Always Have the Closet, Desert Jewel, Loved You Always, and Lavender Fields.
After earning a degree in tourism and foreign languages, she worked as a tourist guide in her native Portugal for a short time before moving to the United States. She lived in three continents and a few islands, and her knack for languages and linguistics led her to a master’s degree in education. She lives in Virginia where she’s taught English as a Second Language to elementary school children for more years than she cares to admit.
Natalina doesn’t believe you can have too many books or too much coffee. Art and dance make her happy and she is pretty sure she could survive on lobster and bananas alone. When she is not writing or stressing over lesson plans, she shares her life with her husband and two adult sons.
Connect with Natalina Reis on social media:
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For more information, visit the Lavender Fields Book Page at Book Unleashed.

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THE TASTE OF HER WORDS – BLOG TOUR

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Today we have the blog tour for The Taste of Her Words by Candace Knoebel! Check it out and grab your copy today!

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Title: The Taste of Her Words

Author: Candace Knoebel

Genre: Contemporary Romance

About The Taste of Her Words:

Andrea was my first taste of love.

 

She was there throughout my childhood and into adulthood. Her words were a secret I wasn’t supposed to know. Truths and pain bled onto papers that shredded my innocence and carved a hole in my heart only she could fill.

 

Her words were my first kiss. They were the uneven breaths I took when I saw her, and my hands between her thighs inside the dreams she haunted. She was my best friend’s older sister and, even though she didn’t know it yet, she was the pen that would ink our destiny into the stars.

 

 

Dean tempted me to cross a line I never thought I would.

 

It had been so long since someone looked at me the way he did. Five years since his starry gaze caressed my words and I ran from a kiss I couldn’t shake. He was everything I should stay away from, but how could I resist the beautifully broken man whose touch stoked a fire within my soul?

 

Dean was the missing words to my fairy tale. The parchment I could safely put my most intimate thoughts to. But when secrets from the past catch up with us, how could our perfectly plotted ending survive?

Get Your Copy Today!

 

 

About Candace Knoebel:

Candace Knoebel is a hopeless romantic with an affinity for whiskey and good music. Her love of words began when she met the boy who lived in the cupboard under the stairs, and has found an outlet in over twelve novels.

With two completed series, her work ranges from paranormal to contemporary, all centered heavily around romance. Currently she lives in Florida with her husband and two children, and has just completed her thirteenth novel, The Taste of Her Words.

Author Links:

Website: www.candaceknoebel.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/candaceknoebel

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6458922.Candace_Knoebel

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Candace-Knoebel/e/B009CW4K30/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/candaceknoebel

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/candace-knoebel

Review Team: https://www.facebook.com/groups/233401687123003/

 

 

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Melisande – Blitz

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Châteaux and Shadows, Book 5
Historical Romance
Date Published: July 19, 2017
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Lucas de Granville—pious, respectable, impoverished, lonely—will do nearly anything for the godfather who raised him, even though his godfather doesn’t seem to want to do anything for him.
Melisande—mundane, illegitimate, dirt poor, lonely—will do nearly anything to make sure her mother and brother have shelter and food, even though they are critical of her lack of magical talent.
When Melisande’s father, a pious comte, sends his godson Lucas to bring her to Versailles and help him train her to be a fine, staunchly religious lady, their attraction is immediate, but so is their distrust.
Her eagerness to get as much money as she can as quickly as possible gradually changes into a wish for something higher, better, and holier. Something that Lucas can help her achieve: love.
Other Books by Philippa Lodge:
The Indispensable Wife
Châteaux and Shadows, Book One
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Published: October 2015
Aurore was delighted when a marriage was arranged with the boy she loved, her older brother’s friend Dominique, Comte de Bures. But in a few years the first rush of joy has worn off, and their promising life seems ruined by loss, betrayal, and misunderstanding. One terrifying morning mercenaries overrun their château and usurpers take Aurore hostage. Miles away at Versailles, where he is required to dance attendance on Louis XIV, Dominique is nearly killed by a crossbow bolt. Escaping, Aurore travels with a troupe of itinerant musicians, hiding in the open while discovering hidden resources within herself. Dom sets out to find his wife. He needs his old life back. He needs revenge. But his lands, his title, and his honor mean nothing unless he can win back the love of his indispensable wife.
The Honorable Officer
Châteaux and Shadows, Book Two
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Published: April 2016
France, 1668
Hélène de Bonnefoi’s spirit has been squashed by the ever-critical aunt and uncle who raised her. Serving as nanny and stand-in mother to her cousin’s child has saved her from the convent, especially after her cousin’s death. When suspicious accidents threaten the toddler, Hélène overcomes her near-blindness to seek the help of the child’s father, a colonel in Louis XIV’s army.
Jean-Louis, Colonel de Cantière, has spent his life proving his worth, integrity, and honor, first to his family and now in the army. When his daughter’s caretaker appears in his camp during a siege, claiming someone is trying to kill the girl, his loyalties are sorely tested.
Hélène must convince Jean-Louis the threat is real. But the true danger is to the heart of a shy young woman who has always loved her cousin’s husband from afar and to the colonel’s desire to resist complicated emotions.
The Chevalier
Châteaux and Shadows, Book Three
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Published: September 2016
Emmanuel, Chevalier de Cantière, youngest son of a baron, is happiest raising horses far from his complicated family. When news comes his mother is deathly ill, he races to her side only to find she has apparently recovered and moved on, leaving behind her companion, Catherine.
Catherine de Fouet blends into the background, saving up so she’ll never have to wait on waspish, scheming old ladies like the baronesse again. She has no interest in a resentful gentleman, estranged from his mother, no matter how broad his shoulders or intriguing the wounded soul behind his handsome face. She just needs someone to escort her back to Versailles.
But Catherine is suspected of poisoning the baronesse. She rebuffs a pushy courtier who tries to use blackmail to make her his mistress, and her reputation hangs by a thread.
The chevalier wants more than anything to protect this woman whose prickly exterior hides sweetness and passion. They need his family to help him through court intrigues—almost as much as they need each other.
Henri et Marcel
Châteaux and Shadows, Book 4
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Published: January 2017
Henri de Cantière has been surly since he returned from visiting his family at Versailles, but he doesn’t want to burden Marcel Fourbier, his longtime lover, with his problems. He can’t sleep and hurts all over at exactly the time when everything else seems to be falling apart.
Marcel can barely keep up with his usual duties of running their household and creating beautiful furniture in the de Cantière factory when more burdens fall on his shoulders. His estranged Huguenot family condemns him to hell but wants his help, a stranger attacks him in a dark street, an arsonist tries to destroy the factory, and Henri’s beloved sister-in-law, who has been like a sister to Marcel, is weakening after being in labor for several days.
Most of all, Marcel wants to find a cure for Henri, the man who holds his heart.
Excerpt
Chapter One
Once upon a time, a long, long time ago in France, there was a witch with no magic.
“Mélisande!”
The stranger’s shout echoed inside the damp walls of the tiny house she shared with her mother and her younger brother. If it were the house’s owner, who didn’t know they were squatting there, he wouldn’t have known her name. It didn’t mean the voice wasn’t trouble.
Her gut whispered unease. Well, who wouldn’t have a whisper of unease about a strange man shouting one’s name? In one’s home? After being the target of more than one lecherous oaf in the streets? And the target of religious people?
She leaned her scrubby straw broom in the corner and peeked up the hall, glad to be shrouded in darkness, grateful for the first time that there was no window except for the tiny, grimy one looking onto the narrow, dark street.
The front door stood open, letting in cold wind, the reek of filth, and weak evening light which left the man as nothing but a silhouette. Even so, Mélisande had another frisson of what her mother would have called premonition but was probably just fear. She was trapped in her house by a large, faceless man with a booming voice. What was not to frisson about?
She drew back into the room, hoping he hadn’t seen her. The front door scraped and thumped shut, leaving her in complete darkness. She waited, pressed against the wall much like the plaster: crumbling away from the inside. She held her breath and listened.
Maybe he’d left.
A footstep. Of course he hadn’t left; that would be too simple. This was more than her everyday fear: fear the other witches would discover she wasn’t one of them, fear they would starve, fear they would be arrested, fear a man would pull her into a dark room and rape her. Everything could go wrong in a heartbeat.
Footsteps in the front room, where her mother read palms and sold the potions her uncle —her half-brother’s uncle—made. She hoped the yelling man hadn’t tracked anything foul in, as she had just scrubbed those rotting floorboards. A pause as the man listened. At least there was only one man and Mélisande had a sharp pair of scissors, which rattled against the tabletop as she picked them up.
“Mélisande?”
The voice was softer now. Kinder. Lilting. Tempting. The man was going to try to lure her from her hiding place. She hoped he meant her no harm.
A scuff and heavier step as the man tripped on the uneven floor. He halted at the head of the hall, only a few feet from her.
“Ecoutez.” He cleared his throat, waiting for her to say she was listening.
Oh, she was listening, but she was hoping he would leave.
He cleared his throat again. She should offer him a tisane of ginger and honey. She shook her head at her rambling thoughts, swishing her hair against the wall.
“Right. I was told you were here. Your mother said you would welcome my news. I’m sorry, but… Well, my shouting is unforgiveable. Your brother and mother angered me on purpose, I believe. They said I wouldn’t find you unless you wanted to be found. I suppose it’s true, what with witchcraft…”
He paused, listening. Probably expecting her to blast him with a curse. Too bad the worst curse she had ever doled out was when she was ten and made her brother’s nose bleed. Of course, she’d hurled a cup at him at the same time.
“Your father wishes to claim you. I’m to take you to Versailles.”
****
Once upon a time, there was a French nobleman who didn’t belong anywhere: a younger son with no portion, fostered with his godfather.
Someone gasped softly in the dark room to Lucas de Granville’s left. She really was there. Or someone was, anyway. Some woman.
If it was the right woman, the bastard witch daughter of the Comte d’Yquelon, and she came with him, the count had promised Luc a reward. He needed new breeches and a new hat for Easter and was counting on the supplement to his tiny allowance to buy the fabric.
Of course, the girl would get a larger reward, eventually. If she could be trained and refined and her soul purged of evil, d’Yquelon would give her a large dowry. Luc smiled sourly, sure the woman would be a hag and thoroughly wrapped in satanic rituals. Her mother had been positively deranged and her brother snide and crude.
Three feet from him, a girl slipped out of dark gloom into the slightly lighter gloom, her footsteps silent and her pale bodice picking up just enough light so she appeared to float like a ghost, her face a skull in the shadow. Only by the way she raised her arm did he notice she was holding something – a knife? He staggered back, flinging out his hands to hold her off.
He really hadn’t meant to die in a dirty, smelly back alley of Paris while running an errand for his godfather. He stumbled over the uneven floor again, catching himself on the wall beside the door. She stepped into the feeble light from the oilcloth-covered window and he caught his breath.
She was pretty. Beautiful. Regal. From death’s head to beauty? Magic. He crossed himself.
He had seen her in a dream the night before as he tossed and turned and dozed intermittently in the rundown inn on the edge of this slum. Dark hair, pale skin, and irises so light they appeared almost white. In his dream, he had been fascinated and frightened. He shook his head to clear his mind.
She sighed and lowered her hand slightly to reveal a pair of pointed scissors.
Then her chin came up, and she was beautiful in spite of pallor and gauntness. It didn’t stop him being wary of her, though the fear was dissipating.
“I am Mélisande.” Her voice was low and soothing. Another witch’s trick, probably, to lull him. “I don’t approve of intruders in my home.” She raised her eyebrows imperiously, and he couldn’t stop himself from smiling at this bit of bravado. “And yet, if my mother invited you here, I suppose you are meant to be a guest.”
He was afraid his curled lip betrayed his disgust at the pitiful room and stench of semi-frozen rot and sewage seeping in from the street. At least he hoped the rot and sewage weren’t inside the hovel. He shuddered.
She scowled. “What, exactly, did my mother say to you?”
Luc shuddered again. He had cornered her mother in a different dark room off an alley, off a small street that led to a dirty little market. “She laughed at me and told me about a premonition she had about the Comte d’Yquelon. She said I should pick my friends more carefully.”
He hadn’t picked the comte so much as been abandoned in the comte’s household at the age of three. His parents’ money had run out and all the boys except the heir had been dropped off with their various godparents.
Mélisande’s lips pursed as if she were trying not to laugh at him. “What brought about this desire to seek me out?”
“His son died.” Even after six months, Lucas felt the weight of Charles’ death.
“Oh.” Her face fell. “I am sorry to hear it. I wish I had known him.”
Was she mourning her half-brother?
When Charles died suddenly from a fever, the count raged about witchcraft and curses. Six months later, the comte recalled Luc from Normandy and told him where to find this bastard daughter, child of the witch who had cursed his son. None of those words had made any sense at all to Lucas, who had known the comte only as a fierce, strictly pious gentleman.
I’ve never seen her. Her mother was a beauty. I told the comtesse she used a spell or potion on me, but, of course, it was just normal lust.
Just normal lust certainly described the feeling growing inside Luc. This girl might be using a spell on him, but he was fairly sure she was tempting enough without it.
“He had no other children?” She sounded wistful. Not at all lusty.
“Just me.” He grimaced. “I’m not related by blood.”
Her eyebrows went up.
“He’s my godfather. He raised me. I’m the seventh son of a duke’s seventh son, and there were far too many mouths to feed.”
Her face lit up with her smile. “Seventh son of a seventh son? And you’re not a warlock?”
Luc jerked back and crossed himself to ward off the evil eye.
“Sorry.” She dropped her head. “It’s a rather coveted place in a family of witches, you know. Though I guess if you’re strictly religious…”
Luc cleared his throat. He had to bring Mélisande back. He needed the reward the comte promised, if just to have something to tide him over as he looked for employment.
“You wish to take me to my father?”
She looked around the room, presenting her profile, and he caught his breath at the sight of the huge knot of dark hair, braided, pinned, and tied at her nape. There was probably enough there to hang past her waist when she let it down. If it were styled properly, she could wear it on top of her head in a rich swirl. Her nose was a touch too large. In fact, it was much like the beak the late Charles had inherited from his father. Luc had still to see her in better light to know if her eyes were her father’s pale, icy blue, but he was sure he had the right woman.
“It’s the task I was assigned, yes.”
“You do not wish to accomplish the task? I suppose he’s paying you well.” She sounded like she was laughing.
Luc stiffened. “I wish to please my godfather, the man who was a father to me, whose son was like my brother.”
“Yet you don’t particularly wish to take me.” It was a statement, not a question. Her lips quirked up wryly.
No, he thought it was a fool’s mission for his godfather to try to civilize her. Luc let his eyes travel around the room, taking in the single, rickety table with two stools; the chimney with a few chunks of charred wood; the damp, crumbling plaster; the uneven, rotting floorboards. He wanted to take Mélisande away from here. He would want to take anyone away from here.
He shrugged. “I will be rewarded, but not as much as you. I won’t kidnap you. I won’t drag you bodily to Versailles. You will need to say goodbye to your family. When the comte gives you gold and fine clothing, you will have to decide if you wish to share with your mother or keep it to yourself.”
She sighed, her narrowed eyes never leaving his, her face wary. “I wish I knew what to do.”
The door flew open beside him, and Luc spun to face the threat. As the man moved away from the backlit doorway, Luc saw it was Mélisande’s brother, who had needled and taunted him in the marketplace before leading him to their mother.
“Of course she’ll share with us,” the young man announced, strolling in, bringing the odor of muck from the street with him.
Lucas coughed, trying to force the stench from his nose and mouth. He wished he had adopted the affectation of carrying a perfumed handkerchief as so many nobles did.
“We’ve supported her all these years, and she’s not good for much more than carrying messages and cleaning. Since she refuses to marry or take a rich lover, we’ll look to her father to make our fortune.”
Luc clenched his jaw at the mention of a lover, relieved she was not a prostitute. Or her brother said she wasn’t a prostitute, which could be a lie. At least she had one fewer sin than he expected. He immediately wondered why she wasn’t good for more than carrying messages.
As if answering his thoughts, Mélisande’s mother swept into the hovel, leaving the door wide open.
“Well, Mélisande! Your father has finally sought you out. He certainly sent a handsome enough little lord to do it. Are you sure you don’t want me to read your palm, little lord?”
Luc pulled himself up straight and stuck his chin out. “My godfather frowns on any of the witch’s arts. Palm reading reeks of the devil.”
The old witch cackled, just as he thought witches should. Her hair was as thick as her daughter’s, though light brown threaded with gray instead of dark. Their faces were the same shape, with full lips. She would have been seductive twenty years before. “Oh, you pious prigs are so easy to tease.”
“Maman, would you please…” Mélisande looked embarrassed.
“That wasn’t always the Comte d’Yquelon’s attitude, you know. How do you think he got me with child? He was quite adventurous when he was younger. I heard he turned prudish and preachy.” The older witch strode across the room and dropped a cloth bag on a box in the corner. “Well, at least you have nothing to worry about from Mélisande. We’ve kept it secret around here, but she has no special powers. Weak premonitions, sometimes, but those don’t count for much. Healing skill, but not healing power.”
Mélisande looked down at her hands, her cheeks pink.
“And like Thomas said, she doesn’t want to be a whore. She does deliveries, cleaning, and cooking. She’d make some merchant a good wife, if we knew any merchants who wanted a bastard witch. Bunch of prudes they are, too, probably worse than you nobles.”
Her brother shoved Mélisande’s shoulder. “Go get your things. The sooner you get your inheritance, the sooner we can live someplace nice.”
“If you go, daughter”—the witch spread her arms—“don’t bother to come back without enough for all of us to live on. Better yet, just send us some gold.”
Mélisande’s mouth fell open in shock. “Maman…”
“You won’t wish to come back, and you’re no use to us here.” Her mother turned away.
No, Mélisande wouldn’t want to come back once she had a taste of a better life, but Lucas felt a pang of sympathy anyway. He didn’t remember his parents leaving him behind when he was three, but he had grown up separated from his family and without much contact with children his age. “The comte will make sure you have all you need. He will find you a husband. You’re his only surviving child.”
The witch looked him over. “The heir died? I foresaw it years ago. D’Yquelon thought I was cursing him, which would have been different magic, of a type I don’t approve of. What was your name, again, little lord?”
“Lucas de Gran—”
“Lucas, I foresaw the heir would die. I told your count he should recognize the child he would leave me with and raise her alongside his doomed son.”
Mélisande slipped from the room into the stygian hallway.
“He laughed at me. He didn’t believe I was pregnant. I knew, of course. When I had my Mélisande, I sent him word, but he replied I should leave him alone. He’s going to tell you I cursed him and his family. It was only later, when we realized Méli was hopeless in magic that I thought I should have cursed him when I had a chance. I still thought Méli would be worth something. And now maybe she will be.”
Luc pursed his lips. He wondered if the woman’s mercenary attitude toward the worth of her daughter was any worse than nobles paying a dowry to buy an influential husband.
The brother grunted. “Well, she’s a good sister, I have to say. It’s been hard to cover up her mundaneness, but she’s a good draw at fairs and such, as long as no one expects her to do any magic. Her sweet smile gets the gentlemen’s attention and the ladies trust her. They rush in to consult with me and Maman because she looks so wholesome.”
The sound of Mélisande stumbling made Luc turn. She had a kerchief in her hand, something rattling inside it. Probably those wicked scissors. For some reason, the thought reassured him. She was going to need protection in the coming weeks.
“Are you ready, Mademoiselle?”
She kissed her mother and brother goodbye. They responded perfunctorily and waved her off.
Luc led her off to her future.
****
Mélisande stumbled through the muddy streets, gripping the handsome young nobleman’s arm as he strode far too quickly up and down the streets. The neighbors stared. She spied her uncle bent double with mirth. She ignored them all as best she could.
“Finally found a protector, chérie?” an elderly man cackled as she passed by.
She stood up straighter. “I’m going to meet my father.”
The warlock pursed his lips, suddenly sober. “I guess we won’t be seeing you again.”
His hunchbacked wife made a sign of blessing with her claw-like, arthritic hands, bringing Mélisande to tears again. “Go with the goddess.”
Monsieur—What was his name? de Grandeur?—pulled on her arm as Mélisande made the same sign back.
They wove through the dirty streets and doubled back several times until they were a short walk from her house. In her shock at her mother and brother’s hard hearts, she hadn’t thought to point out that they were parading up and down seemingly at random.
“Monsieur de Gran…?”
His frowned ferociously. “De Granville.”
“I hate to question you, but where, precisely, are we going?”
He looked around. “I met your mother just over there.” He nodded toward the alley where her mother met with clients.
Mélisande nodded silently.
“From here, I believe I can backtrack my way out of here.”
“Or you could tell me where we’re going, since I know the quartier.”
De Granville went still. Mélisande ducked her head, afraid she had injured his pride. Her uncle or brother would have slapped her.
His chest expanded against her arm as he sighed. “I’m not really sure which way I came along this street.”
She risked a glance at him as he wrinkled his nose and stared down the street. He smiled just slightly. He was pleasant to look at when he smiled. His jaw became less sharp and his dark eyes squinted with amusement.
He told her at which inn he had left his carriage. Not a rich one, and Mélisande knew she wasn’t welcome inside, but she knew where it was.
When she resisted at the door, de Granville said, “I just need to ask them to summon the carriage.”
She shuffled in, head down, trying to look as if she belonged.
The innkeeper’s memory was long. “Witch!”
“I’ll wait outside.”
She darted toward the door, but de Granville caught her hand.
“She’s with me.” He faced the innkeeper, looking cool and confident.
“I will not rent you a room for a few hours. This isn’t that sort of inn.”
De Granville scowled, his eyes dangerous slits. Mélisande looked down at her feet, her heart pounding, Run, run, run.
“I paid you for last night. I only wish to reclaim my carriage and be off. I am taking the girl to her father. But it is not any of your affair.”
“Is her father a witch, too? And you? You looked respectable, but maybe you aren’t. Maybe you’ve stolen the fine carriage. Maybe I should call the guard.”
“The carriage belongs to the lady’s father.”
“The lady? What lady? All I see is a whoring witch.”
She stood up straighter. I am not a whore. I’m not even a witch.
De Granville banged his fist on the rickety table serving as a counter. His actions were fire, but his voice was ice. “Bring the carriage. I will pay the rate agreed on for stabling it and feeding the coachman. I am more respectable than you could comprehend.”
Mélisande sidestepped away from him as the innkeeper went out back, grumbling. Her brother would have taken out his anger on her. She stood in silence, waiting for the blow to come, but de Granville did nothing but cross his arms and breathe.
Several minutes later, when a boy came in and called his name, de Granville, jaw still clenched, held out his arm gallantly and led her out front to a small, dark carriage, an elderly man on the driver’s seat.
“That’s her, then, Monsieur Lucas?” The driver glared, taking in her stained, patched dress, not approving.
De Granville helped her up. “It will be night in only a few hours, Grosporc. Let’s get out of Paris and try to get to the usual inn before dark. It will be clean there. Unlike here.”
The innkeeper shouted his outrage from the doorway of his inn.
Mélisande wondered if this Lucas de Granville was really who he said he was and if she weren’t instead being kidnapped to be used, sold, and discarded. Her mother had not been worried, but there was very little that bothered her mother. Of course, her mother usually claimed she knew what was going to happen before it did.
De Granville held out his hand and helped her up.
About the Author

Philippa Lodge has a hundred stories in her head and a social media addiction.
She writes historical romance set in Louis XIV’s France; New Adult romantic women’s fiction set in small-town, small-college America; and contemporary romance with nerdy beta heroes and cranky heroines whose pasts can be healed with the love of a good man.
She lives with one husband, two cats, and three kids in the inland valley of California.
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THE CARETAKER by Dahlia Donovan – Release Blitz

NEW BOOK RELEASE
The Caretaker COVER
THE CARETAKER
Dahlia Donovan
Series: The Sin Bin Book 2
Genre: MM
Publisher: Hot Tree Publishing
Publication Date: July 8, 2017
Will age matter when love and lust become all consuming?
Nurse Freddie Whittle devotes every fibre of his being to his work with cancer patients. Their pain weighs heavily on his shoulders. Between losing clients, the expectations of his fathers, and bigot neighbours, he’s slowly reaching his breaking point.
Taine Afoa retires from a storied career as an international rugby star. He’s moved away from London for a change of pace, never expecting to meet a man who’s far too young for him. No matter how hard he tries, it’s impossible to get Freddie out of his mind.
Will Taine’s resistance dissolve in time for him to give love the chance to flourish?
A wonderful story on acceptance, love and finding the one you are meant to be with and fighting for them. Of showing patience and kindness. A great second story in this series that has you laugh, smile and cry but most of all feel the love and acceptance from the characters towards one another.
– books are love, Goodreads Reviewer
Dahlia Donovan has written a beautiful story full of conflict, lust and love. If you like M/M or this is your first time, I would recommend this book, I found it a nice ice breaker into a whole new world of books for me.
– sarahe32, Goodreads Reviewer
Dahlia Donovan is quickly changing the way the genre is perceived and it’s a good thing because now more people will want to read this genre and find that it is as beautiful as any romance story out there.
– Emma, Goodreads Reviewer

Purchase Links

Available now for $2.99 only. Grab your copy today.
The Caretaker Teaser

An Excerpt from the Book

Take an inside look at The Caretaker. Read this sizzling excerpt from the book.
“Are you going to continue to stare at my lips whenever you look my direction?” Taine’s voice dropped down to a husky whisper. “If you are, why don’t you bring yours a little closer to mine? You’ll see them far better with your mouth than your eyes.”
Cursing his exuberant and generally impulsive nature, Freddie leaned forward until their lips hovered a breath away from each other. One strong exhale could bring them close enough to qualify as a kiss. Taine didn’t move backwards or forwards; they both waited for the deadlock to be broken.
“Oh, why not,” Freddie muttered impatiently. He surged forward, closing the distance. His lips smacked awkwardly to the left of Taine’s, which caused the man to chuckle. “Oh, coc y gath, sorry.”
“Calm down.” Taine caught Freddie’s chin in his hand and guided him closer. His mouth controlled the connection. They had to tilt to avoid their noses mashing uncomfortably. The former rugby player’s tongue darted across Freddie’s lips and pressed the advantage. He delved expertly into their true first touch. “Now that is a kiss.”
“You should be ashamed.”
Freddie jerked away from Taine and snapped around to find a woman in her sixties glaring at them—or at Taine specifically. “Pardon?”
“You should be ashamed.” She pointed a bony finger at Taine. “Corrupting a young teenager. Is that legal? I’ve half a mind to report you. Are you okay, young man? Did he force you away from your parents?”
“A teenager?” Freddie swallowed down an irrational burble of laughter. “I’m twenty-six years old.”
“Oh. Oh, dear. I’m so sorry.” She covered her mouth in obvious embarrassment. “You look so young. I just assumed. Carry on then, loves. Never you mind me. It’s always good to see someone enjoying the pleasures of life.”
The two men stayed silent after accepting her apology. Freddie only dared to peek at Taine out of the corner of his eye once the woman had gone back to her seat. A clear mistake. It started with a snort, muffled quickly by his hand, but quickly dissolved into laughter anyway; it continued until their sides ached and they were gasping for air.
Freddie regained his composure just as the train pulled into Paddington station, forcing him to shelve any comments about the kiss. “Ready for the next stage of the journey?”

Other Books by Dahlia Donovan

Don’t miss the other books in the The Sin Bin series:
The Wanderer
THE WANDERER
Series: The Sin Bin Book 1
Graham Hodson lives for adventure. His entire life revolves around his wanderlust. The last thing he expects is a diagnosis to ground his travel—permanently. Boyce “BC” Brooks screws up his dream of being a rugby team captain. He’s lost everything. Can they find stability when their world spins?
Buy Links: Amazon
This book will have you laughing so hard at the easy banter between these two then clutching your chest as the emotions threaten to boil over.
– ~lil maso~, Goodreads Reviewer

Giveaway

WIN $10 GC AND MORE!
The Caretaker Giveaway Graphic
Prizes up for grabs:
$10 Amazon Gift Card
Two eBook Copies of The Wanderer (Sin Bin Book 1)
Contest runs from July 19 – 25, 2017.

About Dahlia Donovan

Dahlia Donovan

Dahlia Donovan wrote her first romance series after a crazy dream about shifters and damsels in distress. She prefers irreverent humour and unconventional characters. An autistic and occasional hermit, her life wouldn’t be complete without her husband and her massive collection of books and video games.
Official website: http://dahliadonovan.com/
Connect with Dahlia Donovan on social media:
The Caretaker Tour Graphic
For more information, visit the The Caretaker Book Page at Book Unleashed.

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