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Showing posts sorted by relevance for query sourcebooks. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query sourcebooks. Sort by date Show all posts

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Meet the Blogger | My Sourcebooks Casablanca Blogger Spotlight

I was recently showcased in Sourcebooks Casablanca's Blogger Spotlight!! Check it out...


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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Spreading the Word: CASABLANCA FREE ROMANCE READS from Sourcebooks Casablanca

Did you know that Sourcebooks Casablanca started a fun new project back in April 2015 called CASABLANCA FREE ROMANCE READS?? Well they did! Casablanca Free Romance Reads is a FREE daily newsletter email, where Sourcebooks Casablanca serializes some of their best books so you get a snippet of the story each day in your inbox. Basically from beginning to end you get to read a FREE BOOK! And beginning SOON (December 7th 2015) they will be starting a new book for their daily emails. From contemporary romance to historical and even romantic suspense, Casablanca will be serializing all kinds of romance stories for you to enjoy!

-- CLICK HERE to sign up for Casablanca Free Romance Reads --

So like I said, starting on December 7th they will be serializing a prequel novella to a highly anticipated romantic suspense series that’s coming out in 2016 by debut author Katie Ruggle. The novella, "On His Watch," doesn’t come out until January, but if you sign up for the email you can read it before it’s released! Then after "On His Watch" is finished, they move on to another great title.

Now this is very important : In order to start getting the emails from the very beginning of "On His Watch," you need to sign up before 5:00 pm CT on Friday (12/04/15). That way you will be in their system so you can start digging in when the first email arrives in your inbox bright and early on Monday morning.

Below is more about "On His Watch" and here is the link to sign up for Free Romance Reads: http://eepurl.com/bvOR45




"On His Watch"
[Search & Rescue Series, Book 0.5] by Katie Ruggle

Author's Book Description :
    "On His Watch" is the pulse-pounding prequel to the riveting Search & Rescue series by Katie Ruggle.

    In the remote Rocky Mountains, lives depend on the Search & Rescue brotherhood. But in a place this far off the map, trust is hard to come by and secrets can be murder…


    Ice rescue diver Derek Warner never meant to be a hero. But when two little girls go missing, he’s the first in line to bring them home—even if that means scouring the wilderness with the woman he once loved and lost, Artemis Rey.

    Artemis has never stopped wanting Derek. Now, racing to find the girls before it’s too late, minutes turn to hours. Night falls. Old flames rekindle. And a danger grows in the darkest wilderness that may be more than even the Search and Rescue brotherhood can hope to face…

    Search and Rescue Series :
    "On His Watch" (novella) | "Hold Your Breath" | "Fan the Flames" | "Gone too Deep" | "In Safe Hands"

** Be sure to add it to your TBR pile on Goodreads! **

Monday, November 2, 2015

Blog Tour - This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp | Spreading the Word & ARC/chalk board with chalk Giveaway

Today I'm showing off Marieke Nijkamp's "This Is Where It Ends!!"

ALSO -- Be sure to check out Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post to be able to sign up for this blog stop's GIVEAWAY!! [Blog Tour & Giveaway will run from October 27 - November 4, 2015]





"This Is Where It Ends"
by Marieke Nijkamp

Author's Book Description :
    10:00 a.m.
    The principal of Opportunity, Alabama’s high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

    10:02 a.m.
    The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

    10:03 a.m.
    The auditorium doors won’t open.

    10:05 a.m.
    Someone starts shooting.

    Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.


    "This Is Where It Ends" is a contemporary young adult novel, to be published by Sourcebooks Fire on January 5, 2016. Also available in audio CD and MP3 from Brilliance Audio.

This book is available to order on :

Amazon (e-Book) | Amazon (Hardcover) | Amazon (MP3 CD) | IndieBound (Hardcover) | IndieBound (MP3 CD)

** Be sure to add it to your TBR pile on Goodreads! **





About the Author :

Marieke Nijkamp is a storyteller, dreamer, globe-trotter, geek. She holds degrees in philosophy, history, and medieval studies, and wants to grow up to be a time traveler. Her debut young adult novel "This Is Where It Ends" will be published by Sourcebooks Fire on January 5, 2016.








Giveaways!! :

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Find Marieke Nijkamp :

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Spreading the Word: Bachelors of Battle Creek Series, Book 2

- This is an ARC book - Available Formats through Amazon.com: Paperback - Pages: 418; Kindle Edition - File Size: 1681 KB | Expected Release Date: May 5, 2015 | Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca | Obtained: NetGalley

"Twice a Texas Bride" [Bachelors of Battle Creek Series, Book 2] by Linda Broday

Authors' Book Description : Scars of the past run deep inside former saloon owner Rand Sinclair, leaving jagged pain and two certainties. He’ll never fall in love again. Never marry.

He finally has the ranch and land he’s dreamed of owning and that’s enough. But when he finds a woman and little boy hiding in one of his outbuildings in the bitter cold, he can’t turn his back. He offers her a safe haven and the warmth of his fire.

Callie Quinn is on the run from a killer outlaw who has vowed to see her dead and take the boy. Slowly, Rand uncovers her secrets and realizes the only way to keep her safe is to push all his chips to the center of the table.

He risks everything…his name…and his heart…for the woman who’s awakened a fierce hunger for love.

Locked in a desperate battle to rid themselves of the outlaw’s special brand of terror, Rand reaches deep inside for every weapon in his arsenal.

Whoever wanted to harm her would have to go through him.

…And he’d go through hell for her.

My Book Review : DNF. Okay, while I LOVED "Texas Mail Order Bride" I struggled with this novel. It wasn't because I didn't like the characters or the setting because I tremendously did. It was because once I put the book down to deal with everyday life, I never felt the urge to get back to it and read more. I wasn't hooked and so I gave up around 30% of the way into it.

Nevertheless, because I LOVED "Texas Mail Order Bride" (Book 1 of this series) so much I still do recommend this novel to those who have read book 1, since you get updated all a bunch of previous characters and submerged into new ones ... you may just be hooked more than I was.

Good luck!

Purchase This Book and/or The Other Books From It's Series Here : Shop Your Indie/Local Bookstores (IndieBound - Paperback) USD : Texas Mail Order Bride (Book 1) | Shop Your Indie/Local Bookstores (IndieBound - Paperback) USD : Forever His Texas Bride (Book 3) | Amazon (Kindle) USD : Texas Mail Order Bride (Book 1) | Amazon (Kindle) USD : Forever His Texas Bride (Book 3) | Barnes & Noble (NOOK Book) USD : Texas Mail Order Bride (Book 1) | Barnes & Noble (NOOK Book) USD : Forever His Texas Bride (Book 3)


Shop Your Indie/Local Bookstores (IndieBound - Paperback) USD : Twice a Texas Bride (Book 2)
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Alibris (Paperback) USD / CAD / GBP : Twice a Texas Bride (Book 2)
Twice a Texas Bride
BAM! / BooksAMillion.com (Paperback) USD : Twice a Texas Bride (Book 2)
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Kobo (e-Book) USD : Twice a Texas Bride (Book 2)

Amazon (Kindle) USD : Twice a Texas Bride (Book 2)

Amazon (Paperback) USD : Twice a Texas Bride (Book 2)
Twice a Texas Bride
Barnes & Noble (NOOK Book) USD : Twice a Texas Bride (Book 2)
Twice a Texas Bride
Barnes & Noble (Paperback) USD : Twice a Texas Bride (Book 2)

Amazon (Kindle) USD : Bachelors of Battle Creek Series

Amazon (Paperbacks) USD : Bachelors of Battle Creek Series

Kobo (e-Book) USD : Bachelors of Battle Creek Series

My Previous Interview(s) with this Author : December 2015

My Previous Guest Post(s) by this Author : Texas Cowboy Blog Tour Featuring Carolyn Brown and Linda Broday - January 2015

My Previous Review(s) for this Series : Book 1

My Previous Mention(s) of this Author's Books/Characters : Texas Cowboy Blog Tour Featuring Carolyn Brown & Linda Broday | Guest Post, Spreading the Word & Sourcebooks Casablanca Western Romance Bundle Giveaway | Blog Tour - Forever His Texas Bride by Linda Broday | Single “Quick Draw” Q&A, Spreading the Word & ARC Giveaway | Best Book Couples -- Happy Valentine's Day 2016


Author's Novel Extras : Twice a Texas Bride - Overview & Excerpt | Pinterest: Twice a Texas Bride | SET ‘EM UP, JOE! | Clothes For Your Walls | Animals as Characters


Author's Series Extras : Texas Mail Order Bride - Overview & Excerpt | Forever His Texas Bride - Overview & Excerpt | Pinterest: Texas Mail Order Bride | Pinterest: Texas Mail Order Bride | Home and Family PLUS A GIVEAWAY! | Reticules…er Handbags: A Woman’s Necessity | Happy Thanksgiving! | Introducing The Bachelors of Battle Creek!

Author Book Trailer :

Book Teaser(s) :
He was going to be the only white man with an Indian tepee on his ranch. How had this sorry state of affairs come to pass? But he wouldn't say no. It meant too much to Brett and Toby. ~ within Chapter 6

Book Preview(s) :
For more information on this book, series, and/or any other books by Linda, then please check out her Amazon Acct.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Made the Grade: Burnt Boot, Texas Series, Book 2

- This is an ARC book - Available Formats through Amazon.com: Paperback - Pages: 352; Kindle Edition - File Size: 1015 KB | Expected Release Date: January 6, 2015 | Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca | Obtained: NetGalley

"The Trouble with Texas Cowboys" [Burnt Boot, Texas Series, Book 2] by Carolyn Brown

Authors' Book Description : Can a girl ever have too many cowboys?

No sooner does pint-sized spitfire Jill Cleary set foot on Fiddle Creek Ranch than she finds herself in the middle of a hundred-year-old feud. Quaid Brennan and Tyrell Gallagher are both tall, handsome, and rich...and both are courting Jill to within an inch of her life. She's doing her best to give these feuding ranchers equal time-too bad it's dark-eyed Sawyer O'Donnell who makes her blood boil and her hormones hum...

My Book Review : 3.5 out of 5 stars! Two people are thrown together not knowing that it’ll be the best thing that had ever happened to them...

This novel wasn’t what I expected, since per the book description, I thought there would be more animosity between Sawyer & Jillian (Jill) than there really was. Yet, I really liked how they seem to quickly grow their relationship into something where they can stick up for one another without question and, through it all, it makes them fall in love even when they are trying to avoid a relationships at all costs. These two had an instant connection that was hard not to enjoy, especially as you read about them growing closer while maneuvering around the feuding mess that is on both sides of Jill’s family ranch.

With the way the feud was described and with how the lead up to who the next books in this series will contain it’ll be interesting to see where everything and everyone will end up!

I recommend this novel and series to those who like contemporary cowboy romances!

Purchase This Book and/or The Other Books From It's Series Here : Alibris (Paperback) : Cowboy Boots for Christmas: (Cowboy Not Included) | Alibris (Paperback) : The Trouble with Texas Cowboys


My Previous Guest Post(s) by this Author : Three Cowboys Means One Too Many... - January 2015

My Previous Review(s) for this Author : Just a Cowboy and His Baby | How to Marry a Cowboy

My Previous Mention(s) of this Author's Books/Characters : Teaser Tuesdays: Just a Cowboy and His Baby | Best Book Couples -- Happy Valentine's Day 2013 | Texas Cowboy Blog Tour Featuring Carolyn Brown & Linda Broday | Guest Post, Spreading the Word & Sourcebooks Casablanca Western Romance Bundle Giveaway | Best Book Couples -- Happy Valentine's Day 2015

Book Teaser(s) :
"Holy shit!" Jill said. "What's going on?"
"News travels fast in a small town. They know you have arrived, and they're going to swamp you with dates," he said.
"But why?"
"Fiddle Creek, and you're a damn fine-lookin' woman."
"But why you?"
"They just want to get rid of the treat. If one of those women can snag me, then that's one cowboy out of their way," he said.
"You sure about that?"
A heavy knock landed on the door.
"I bet you dollars to cow patties that's a Gallagher wanting to take you to Sunday dinner," he said.
She grimaced. "Maybe it's for you."
"If it is, tell the woman I've got the plague." ~ within Chapter 1
"Where's my rose? Did you put it in water?"
He pointed to the kitchen table. "Yes, ma'am. I aim to please."
She gasped. "Sawyer O'Donnell!"
"You said to put it in water. I did that, didn't I?"
There is sat, crammed down into a Mason jar, blossom on the bottom, the stem sticking up in the air with the paper still around it. "You got to admit, it looks fine for a rose. If it had been a daisy, it would be right-side up. Now it will be drowned by morning, and you can toss it over the pasture fence without feeling guilty." ~ within Chapter 7
For more information on this book, series, and/or any other books by Carolyn, then please check out her website.

Feasted On: Bachelors of Battle Creek Series, Book 1

- This is an ARC book - Available Formats through Amazon.com: Paperback - Pages: 416; Kindle Edition - File Size: 1473 KB | Expected Release Date: January 6, 2015 | Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca | Obtained: NetGalley

"Texas Mail Order Bride" [Bachelors of Battle Creek Series, Book 1] by Linda Broday

Author's Book Description : “So Beautiful. You make it impossible to think.” He pulled her against him and found her mouth. “You don’t know how long I’ve waited to do this.”

When he let her up for air, she whispered as though she couldn’t trust her voice, “Is this another Texas custom?”

“Absolutely,” he growled. “Welcome to Texas.”


Rancher Cooper Thorne thinks his life is finally on an even keel–until Delta Dandridge steps off the stagecoach, claiming she’s his mail order bride. Brash and quick-witted, the meddling Southern Belle is everything Cooper thought he never wanted…and everything his heart is telling him he needs.

But Cooper swore long ago that he’d never marry, and he aims to keep his word…especially now that the demons from his past have returned to threaten everything–and everyone–he holds dear.


My Book Review : 4 out of 5 stars! Thrown together based on false promises, two lost souls find their lives turned upside-down, but is it all for the better? Sure, that is if they’re both willing to let their past and their secrets go for good.

With Delta & Cooper's bickering, their magnetic attraction to one another, and Cooper's "band of brothers," this novel reminded me of Ms. Connealy's "Swept Away." Not because of the plots, as they are pretty different---and I do recommend reading both novels---but because of their characters, as big-hearted Delta reminded me of Ruthy, leader Cooper reminded me of Luke and Jenny's husband situation reminded me of Glynna. While Ms. Broday's novel is different, noticing the similarities put a smile on my face.

Yet even though I liked seeing Cooper & Delta together, and watching them deal with their attraction, it was Delta herself and how she embraced the town she recently moved to, that made me fall for this novel. I liked seeing how Delta was able to make a new start for herself and how she went about to help the town in big and small ways wherever she could. It was very sweet. Then throw in Cooper's past and this novel turned into one action-packed western romantic thriller that you never knew where it would take you next.

I'm interested to read about Rand & Brett (Cooper's brothers) to see who will stop them from their bachelor ways.

I highly recommend this novel to those looking for a historical western romance that will keep you on your toes.

Purchase This Book and/or The Other Books From It's Series Here : Alibris (Paperback) : Texas Mail Order Bride | Kobo (e-Book) : Texas Mail Order Bride


My Previous Mention(s) of this Author's Books/Characters : Texas Cowboy Blog Tour Featuring Carolyn Brown & Linda Broday | Guest Post, Spreading the Word & Sourcebooks Casablanca Western Romance Bundle Giveaway

Author's Novel Extras : Texas Mail Order Bride - Overview & Excerpt | Pinterest: Texas Mail Order Bride | Home and Family PLUS A GIVEAWAY! | Reticules…er Handbags: A Woman’s Necessity

Author's Series Extras : Twice a Texas Bride - Overview & Excerpt | Pinterest: Twice a Texas Bride | Happy Thanksgiving! | Introducing The Bachelors of Battle Creek!

Author Book Trailer :

Book Teaser(s) :
"My dear Mr. Thorne, you're absolutely determined to think the worst of me. I assure you, I try to never say anything I must retract later."
"Look, Miss Dandridge, why don't we start over? We'll be running into each other on occasion. No reason why our hackles should rise every time we cross paths."
"Hackles! I do declare. Your neck may have hackles, but I guarantee that mine does not."
"No, ma'am. I can certainly see that." He was hard-pressed to keep from grinning. "I simply meant we should try to get along."
"I suppose," she murmured slowly. "Just so we can be civil to each other. I don't want you to get the idea that I harbor any untoward ideas about love and marriage, though."
He crooked an eyebrow. "What does that mean?"
"Just because you don't like women---"
"Hey, wait a cotton-pinkin' minute. I never said I don't like women. I love 'em. For your information, I've kissed more than my share. Just don't intend to be married to one."
Delta put her hands on her hips. "Well, don't get any ideas about kissing me."
"You don't have to fret about that." He glared. "Is this your way of burying the hatchet?"
"No, it's yours. Hackles indeed. I'm not a dog." ~ within Chapter 6
"Now why is it that you can refer to my brother as Rand yet you call me Mr. Thorne?"
"You and I are still trying out this friendship thing."
"And?"
Delta couldn't help smiling. She liked keeping the man who seemed so sure of everything off-kilter. It was probably a place he hadn't been very often.
"Haven't decided. After all, you wanted to run the other way when we first met, if I recall."
"Like I said, I'm a donkey's rear end."
"Your words, Mr. Thorne, not mine."
"Can't you consider calling me Cooper? Mr. Thorne sounds like a doddering old fool with half his teeth missing."
"I'll give it some thought." ~ within Chapter 11
For more information on this book, series, and/or any other books by Linda, then please check out her website.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

What was I thinking?: Shadowlands Series, Book 2

Format: Kindle Edition | File Size: 560 KB | Release Date: May 2012 | Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca | Obtained: Amazon.com

"Kiss of the Goblin Prince" [Shadowlands Series, Book 2] by Shona Husk

What was I thinking? : I liked the cover and because of previous book ratings I've given, Amazon.com kept recommending that I'd like this novel too. However, what made me finally purchase it was when Sourcebooks was doing their 2012/2013 Twelve Days After Christmas Sale; it was a part of their "ten paranormal romances" part.

Author's Book Description : The Man of Her Dreams

He is like a prince in a fairy tale: tall, outrageously handsome, and way too dark for her own good. Amanda has been hurt before, though. And with her daughter's illness, the last thing she needs right now is a man. But the power of Dai King is hard to resist. And when he threads his hands through her hair and pulls her in for a kiss, there is no denying it feels achingly right.

In a Land of Nightmares

After being trapped in the Shadowlands for centuries with the goblin horde a constant threat, Dai revels in his newfound freedom back in the human realm. But even with the centuries of magic he's accumulated, he still doesn't know how to heal Amanda's daughter—and it breaks his heart. Yet for the woman he loves, he'd risk anything...including a return to the Shadowlands.

My Book Review : 1 out of 5 stars. Can a man who has lived over two thousand years in a world that was stealing/corrupting his soul be able to live as a human again, even while the odds are stacked against him?

I had such high hopes for this novel, and I do hope that whoever decides on reading it will enjoy it tons more then I did. However, from the very beginning the novel dragged everything out, so much so that by the time I got to Chapter 8, I could not read a bit more. Not even to skim through the last chapters to see how Amanda and Dai end up together. =0/ *sigh*

Therefore, I don't recommend it unless you have read book 1 in this series and enjoyed it. Good luck to those that do decide on reading this one.

My Previous Review(s) for this Author : Kissing Phoenix

Author's Novel Extras : Excerpt | Writing Romance | Good News Day! | Feature book: Kiss of the Goblin Prince | A Bite Of... Kiss of the Goblin Prince

Author's Series Extras : About this Series | Without an ending there is no beginning | Magic Thursday Giveaway- Shona Husk: Good Things Come in Threes | Winter Solstice | Magic Thursday-The Goblin King | Darklight On...Shona Husk | Feature book: The Goblin King | Safety tips for Winter Solstice | From the Bookshelf...The Shadowlands Trilogy | The Next Big Thing | Magic Thursday: Location, location, location

Book Teaser(s) :
“Do you need a lift?” The words were out so fast her brain didn’t have time to register or approve them. What would spending more time with him achieve?
Maybe he’d answer some more of her questions. The long hair and hard, dark blue eyes were at odds. Then there was the travel. He’d studied languages where they were spoken, not from textbooks. Lived life on the edge in places sensible people steered clear of. She could only imagine the freedom of packing everything into one bag and taking off for somewhere on a whim.
“I’m only going into the city. I can catch the train.”
“The train? Eliza won’t let you drive her car?”
“Can’t drive a manual,” he said with a hint of a curve on his lips.
She bit back the grin that wanted to form and returned a polite smile instead. He could translate obscure languages, yet he couldn’t handle a stick shift. ~ within Chapter 4
For more information on this book, series, and/or any other books by Shona, then please check out her website.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Texas Cowboy Blog Tour Featuring Carolyn Brown & Linda Broday | Guest Post, Spreading the Word & Sourcebooks Casablanca Western Romance Bundle Giveaway

Today I'm turning my blog over to Carolyn Brown & Linda Broday for their Texas Cowboy Blog Tour, who are talking about their latest novels!!

ALSO -- Be sure to check out Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post to be able to sign up for this blog stop's GIVEAWAY!! [Blog Tour & Giveaway will run from January 5 - 9, 2015]



Texas Cowboy Blog Tour Featuring Carolyn Brown and Linda Broday

They are tough, hard working, and have the manners their mama gave them. Is it no wonder that readers are in love with the ultimate hero — cowboys. Today we’ve got Western romance authors Carolyn Brown and Linda Broday to explain exactly what makes a cowboy hero ... by finishing this sentence: “A cowboy’s never fully dressed until he puts on his....”

Linda Broday: ...gun belt and Colt. Danger always rides rancher Cooper Thorne’s trail. The oldest of his blood brothers, is the hero in "Texas Mail Order Bride," Cooper is prepared to defend himself and the people he loves at all times. He’s seen what happens to men who let down their guard and he’s not about to let that happen to him. The West is a dangerous place full of peril at every turn. Men die who don’t respect the lawless land. Though he doesn’t seek violence, he’s accepted that it often comes. So does trouble of other kinds. As a rancher, he’s had to kill rattlesnakes, coyotes and bobcats that threaten his herd and often an animal that breaks its leg. So he has many uses for the gun. It’s a necessary part of a rancher’s life and he’s accepted that.

Carolyn Brown: ...charm. Plain and simple. Sawyer’s mama, in "The Trouble with Texas Cowboys," taught him well when she told him that his handsome looks would take him far in life. That his swagger would draw the women’s eye for a second look. And that his pretty eyes could and probably would get him in trouble more than once before he settled down. But that pure old charm would open doors that nothing else ever could.



"The Trouble with Texas Cowboys"
[Burnt Boot, Texas Series, Book 2] by Carolyn Brown

Author's Book Description :
    Can a girl ever have too many cowboys?

    No sooner does pint-sized spitfire Jill Cleary set foot on Fiddle Creek Ranch than she finds herself in the middle of a hundred-year-old feud. Quaid Brennan and Tyrell Gallagher are both tall, handsome, and rich...and both are courting Jill to within an inch of her life. She's doing her best to give these feuding ranchers equal time-too bad it's dark-eyed Sawyer O'Donnell who makes her blood boil and her hormones hum...

This book is available to order on :

Amazon.com (e-Book) | Amazon.com (Paperback) | Kobo (eBook) | Barnes & Noble | iBooks

** Be sure to add it to your TBR pile on Goodreads! **



"Texas Mail Order Bride"
[The Bachelors of Battle Creek Series, Book 1] by Linda Broday

Author's Book Description :
    Rancher Cooper Thorne thinks his life is finally on an even keel. But when mail-order bride Delta Dandridge steps off the stagecoach and claims he sent for her, he scrambles to set her straight. The tempestuous woman makes him see red and also challenges all his vows to remain a bachelor. It turns out Delta Dandridge is going to set Cooper Thorne straight about a few things...

This book is available to order on :

Amazon.com (e-Book) | Amazon.com (Paperback) | Kobo (eBook) | Barnes & Noble | iBooks

** Be sure to add it to your TBR pile on Goodreads! **

Author's Book Trailer :



About the Authors :

Carolyn Brown is a New York Times bestselling author with more than sixty books published, and credits her eclectic family for her humor and writing ideas. Carolyn was born in Texas but grew up in southern Oklahoma where she and her husband, Charles, a retired English teacher, make their home. They have three grown children and enough grandchildren to keep them young.

My Previous Review(s) for Carolyn Brown : Just a Cowboy and His Baby | How to Marry a Cowboy

My Previous Guest Post(s) by this Author : Three Cowboys Means One Too Many... - January 2015

My Previous Mention(s) of Carolyn Brown's Books/Characters : Teaser Tuesdays: Just a Cowboy and His Baby | Best Book Couples -- Happy Valentine's Day 2013 | Blog Tour - The Trouble with Texas Cowboys by Carolyn Brown | Guest Post, Spreading the Word, & Sourcebooks Casablanca Western Romance Bundle Giveaway

A New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Linda Broday writes western historical romance. She lives in the Texas Panhandle on the Llano Estacado where the American Indian and Comancheros once roamed. She’s always been fascinated with cowboys and the American West way of life because to her these men and women embody strength. Her desire to keep history alive is what drives her to write unforgettable characters.




Giveaways!! :

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Soo .... COMMENT & TWEET on/about this post!! And you could WIN!! =0)

ALSO -- Be sure to follow the tour around the other blog sites!



Find Carolyn Brown :

Find Linda Broday :

Friday, October 6, 2017

Blog Tour - Heart on Fire by Amanda Bouchet / @AuthorABouchet | Spreading the Word, ARC #Giveaway, & a UNIQUE Series #Novella

Today I'm showing off Amanda Bouchet's "Heart on Fire," which is the THIRD novel and final installment in her Kingmaker Chronicles!!


ALSO -- Be sure to check out Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post to be able to sign up for this blog stop's GIVEAWAY(s)!! [Blog Tour & Giveaway will run from October 3 - 10, 2017]




"Heart on Fire"
[The Kingmaker Chronicles, Book 3] by Amanda Bouchet

Author's Book Description :
    GODS. I’M AN IDIOT.
    Without Griffin—and apparently a few meddling Gods—to push me along, I’d still be telling fortunes at the circus, lying about my past, ignoring my future, and living as far away from my tyrant mother as humanly possible.

    True understanding thuds into place. Hope isn’t just an abstract concept; it’s me. Flesh and blood me. Griffin knew it all along. Probably everyone did. I’m an idea in human form.

    I have the power of the Gods at my fingertips.
    The only thing ever stopping me has been me.

Pre-order Heart on Fire now!

Amazon (Kindle) USD | Amazon (Paperback) USD | Barnes & Noble (NOOK Book) USD | Barnes & Noble (Paperback) USD | Shop Your Indie/Local Bookstores (IndieBound - Paperback) USD

** Be sure to add it to your TBR pile on Goodreads & LibraryThing! **




Experience The Kingmaker Chronicles from the start! :



About the Author :

Amanda Bouchet grew up in New England where she spent much of her time tromping around in the woods and making up grand adventures in her head. It was inevitable that one day she would start writing them down. Drawing on her Greek heritage for the setting and on her love of all things daring and romantic for the rest, her debut trilogy, The Kingmaker Chronicles, took form. She writes what she loves to read: epic exploits, steamy romance, and characters that make you laugh and cry.

Her first novel, "A Promise of Fire," won several Romance Writers of America chapter contests, including the Orange Rose Contest and the paranormal category of the prestigious Golden Pen.

A French master's graduate and former English teacher, Amanda lives in Paris, France. She met her husband while studying abroad, and the family now includes two bilingual children who will soon be correcting her French.




Readers of The Kingmaker Chronicles are already well-acquainted with Griffin, but never before have we had the chance to see the world of Thalyria—and Cat—through his eyes. In anticipation of the final installment of the series, "Heart on Fire," Amanda Bouchet has written this companion piece from Griffin’s POV!

So, get comfy and dig in!

** What Happened in Velos Stays in Velos... by Amanda Bouchet **

Griffin watched Cat figure out their location from only architectural clues and the fact that there was a nearby forest. The way she put things together using a knowledge base most people didn’t possess amazed him.
“How do you know so much about Velos?” he asked, curious. “The circus travels a route farther to the west.”
“I’ve met people, heard things,” she answered with a small shrug.
Annoyance ground against his earlier admiration. Cat knew the truth—always—and yet she lied to him constantly. He could see it in her face, knew when she was hiding something. He wanted what was best for Sinta. Griffin was convinced that Cat did, too, but for them to start making changes happen, he had to break through her animosity first. Sometimes, he saw flashes of something else in her when she forgot to guard her expression, something that made his chest clench. Maybe there was still hope.
“Help me, Cat,” he said, trying not to sound like he was begging. Weakness wouldn’t go over well with her. She responded negatively to force—that much was clear—but she respected strength. “Or at least tell me the truth. I know when you’re lying.”
“Oh?” She looked like her last meal was abruptly curdling in her stomach.
“Your eyes get twitchy.”
“My eyes do not get twitchy!” she spat back, clearly horrified.
Did she really not know? She had so many tells, but he almost felt like he was alone in seeing them. No one else seemed to notice every nuance of her breath and skin.
“This one gets narrower.” Griffin lightly touched the tip of his finger to the corner of her right eye. Cat jolted at the contact. He wasn’t sure if that brought him satisfaction or regret. Maybe it was some of both. He couldn’t figure out a lot of things when it came to Cat, but he knew his own heart and body. They didn’t lie to him. He cared about her deeply; he wanted her madly.
“It’s as if you’re expecting the lie to hurt, but it doesn’t because it’s your own,” he explained.
Still looking like there was a sour grape in her mouth, she leaned away from him and started walking again. “Thank you for telling me. I’ll have to work on that,” she said through clenched teeth.
“Cat…” he growled, stalking after her. “Everything would be so much easier if—”
“—you let me go.”
Griffin shook his head. “I can’t. You’re too valuable.”
“Aren’t you the lucky despot? The one who caught the Kingmaker. Forgive me for not being overjoyed about becoming your slave.”
“Not a slave.” Impulsively, he reached out and grabbed her arm, swinging her back to him. “One of us.”
Cat wrenched out of his hold, looking more than incredulous. She looked furious, her mesmerizing green eyes practically on fire.
Gods, he wanted to shake her. Kiss her. Make her believe him. It should have been obvious to her of all people that he was telling the truth.
Once again, the fact that he’d dragged her unwillingly from her home punched Griffin in the stomach, making his gut twist. What in the bloody Underworld had he been thinking? His logic and reason had seemed to melt in the heat between them and then abandon him entirely when they’d really begun interacting. In the end, he’d just known she had to be with him. They had to be together.
He inwardly grimaced. As far as choices went about how to make that happen, though, there were undoubtedly better ones. And now he was paying. Cat was making sure of it—as she should.
“I’ll never be one of you,” she bit out with enough conviction to almost convince him.
Almost.
Griffin dragged a hand through his hair, tugging it back. “You’re too stubborn for your own good.”
She glared at him. She was something fierce.
Emotion tore through his chest. Would she ever forgive him?
The five of them—Beta Team, Cat, and him—eventually reached the market rows, and Griffin pulled four silver coins from his money pouch.
Flynn’s eyes brightened as he rubbed his hands together. “Payday!”
Flynn, Carver, and Kato each took the coin Griffin owed them, leaving one in the palm of his hand.
“Cat.” Griffin extended the coin to her, an uncomfortable hesitancy making his heart pound. “Your pay.”
As he expected, Cat refused the money. He wouldn’t push her. He wasn’t out to prove she was part of their team with one gesture. It was a long-term effort, one that meant a great deal to him.
He put the coin away. “I’ll hold it for you. I know what you want. You complain about it often enough.”
She looked up sharply, and then her eyes narrowed. Did she like it when he teased her?
Cat moved along next to him while he bought her some fruit he thought she would like as well as some bread and cheese. Not goat cheese. He knew better than that. Griffin tried to keep the rope from pulling taut, but it wasn’t always easy. He hated to remind her it was there. Not that she ever forgot. He just didn’t want to make things worse between them.
He located a soap seller next and tried to find something nice-smelling to replace Cat’s shrinking bar. He’d been using hers, and there wasn’t much left.
The turn of his thoughts reminded him of bathing so close to her, only a few feet apart. Gods, he wished he could see her. Just a glimpse. Just the slope of her bare shoulder while her hair was slicked back and water slid down the column of her throat…
Taking a deep breath, Griffin tried to control the jagged, unsatisfied heat prowling through him like a caged beast.
Cat rolled her eyes. “You’re worse than a woman. Just take the yellow one. It’s always the best.”
He reached for a block of bright-yellow soap, picked it up, and sniffed. “Lemon.” He closed his eyes and inhaled again, imagining breathing against Cat’s smooth skin. “Smells like you.”
“And you,” she shot back, her color rising. “My soap should have lasted another month.”
Ignoring the bite in her tone and doing his best to redirect his blood to his brain, Griffin handed over payment to the vendor. “We’ll take two,” he said in a voice like gravel.
“There is no we,” Cat muttered irritably as they continued down the row of market stalls. “Don’t act like I have a say in any of this.”
Now that wasn’t true. Griffin turned, frustrated again. Yes, he’d willingly pay for his highhanded stupidity. He’d pay forever if it kept Cat with him, but short of letting her go just to watch her walk away from him, from Sinta, and from everything they could accomplish together, he’d give her anything she asked for. And she damn well knew it.
“You could have a say,” he growled at her. “And you could bloody well choose your own soap!”
“I did! I told you to take the yellow one.”
“And I did!” Cursing under his breath, Griffin stalked toward the next vendor, somehow forgetting about the magic rope. The bloody thing pulled taut, and he accidentally jerked Cat right into someone who suddenly stumbled in from the side. The man looked innocuous enough, but off-balance and dazed. High from some spell, no doubt.
Griffin was about to intervene when Cat gasped and reached out to the stranger with a visible shudder. Her face lit up as she grabbed the man’s shoulders and pulled him even closer.
Griffin scowled. What in the Underworld was she up to now?

***

“Cat?” Griffin stepped closer to her. “Cat! What are you doing?”
Laughing, she finally released the stunned-looking man. She turned and stumbled straight into Griffin, sucking in a sharp breath when he caught her bare arms to steady her. Her eyes flared, then softened.
“You’re pink!” She giggled, the sound seeming strange and unnatural coming from her.
Griffin frowned, which apparently made her laugh harder. Her eyes unfocused, Cat splayed her hand over his chest. He thought it was for balance. She probably wouldn’t have touched him otherwise. He still reveled in the warm, light weight of her fingers. He’d longed to have her hands on him.
Cat stared at his chest. She seemed fascinated. She slowed her breathing to match his.
Poseidon’s balls! What in the Underworld did you do to me?” The man who’d stumbled into Cat didn’t look dazed anymore; he looked infuriated.
Cat blinked. She blinked again, tilting her head to one side. She stayed right next to Griffin, her hand still on his chest.
The man staggered, fighting tremors and hiccupping down a series of short, disjointed breaths. His overly lean, unhealthy frame spoke of dependence and bad choices. Griffin tensed in case the addict got any stupid ideas about accosting Cat—who had clearly done something to him with her magic.
“That dose was supposed to last all day!” the man snarled. “I paid good silver for it. Give it back!” He lunged at Cat.
Griffin wrapped his arm around Cat’s waist and swept her out of the man’s path. The addict howled, and she laughed, leaning into Griffin in a way that warmed his entire side. Enraged, the addict drew a knife and waved it in Cat’s direction, a crazed light sparking in his already frantic eyes.
No one threatened Cat. Griffin shot out his hand and knocked the knife from the other man’s grip. It wasn’t hard; the addict already shook. He had no intention of stopping there. He leapt forward and wrapped his hand around the man’s throat. He held on to Cat as well. There was no way he was letting her go.
Her gaze bright, almost rapt, Cat stared fixedly at Griffin’s arm until he tossed the man to the ground. Kato, Flynn, and Carver formed a perimeter, keeping everyone else away and the addict in. Cat clapped and smiled, wiggling in apparent delight.
“Dose of what?” Griffin demanded in a hard voice. He needed to know what was wrong with her, and he needed to know now.
Cat shivered, and he couldn’t help gripping her tighter. He was self-aware enough to know he didn’t pull her closer solely for her protection.
Banking on sheer intimidation as the best way to handle the addict, Griffin drew a knife and threw it with precision, sticking it a mere inch from the man’s ear. “The next one lands somewhere that hurts,” he snarled.
The addict paled, his mouth going slack as his eyes darted to the blade next to his face.
“Brutal,” Cat commented. She didn’t sound averse.
Griffin glanced at her. “No one touches you.”
She bit her lower lip, looking adorably confused. “You’re touching me.”
Griffin’s eyes fixed on her mouth. “I’m the exception.”
She seemed to stop breathing, to maybe even like what she heard. Hope jerked in his chest. Smiling, Cat swayed toward him, and his fingers tightened on her hip. It took an almost herculean effort to resist hauling her up against him and kissing her like he’d wanted to since the moment he’d first laid eyes on her, weeks ago.
Griffin briefly closed his eyes. Cat wasn’t herself, and he wouldn’t take advantage of her.
Focusing on the addict again, he ground out, “I’m waiting.”
Cat turned back to the man at their feet as well and pointed her finger. “Answer or die!”
She did menace with absolute believability, and the man’s face went cloud-white. Cat burst out laughing.
“Euphoria,” he finally answered, pushing himself up to sitting. “Paid five silvers for it, and the little leech stole it with one touch.”
The addict spat at Cat, and a low growl rumbled in Griffin’s throat. He wasn’t in the habit of beating on people weaker than himself, but right then, he was sorely tempted.
You bumped into me,” Cat announced, although she didn’t look entirely certain. She peeled Griffin’s arm off her waist and then stumbled away, unsteady on her feet.
The rope snapped tight, and she swayed. Following her, Griffin put his hand on her lower back to steady her, and the slight, momentary hitch in Cat’s stride was the only indication that she’d felt him behind her. She ignored him otherwise.
“What about the addict?” Carver asked, handing Griffin back his knife.
“Leave him.” Griffin stayed close to Cat as he sheathed the blade. “Make sure he’s not following.”
Cat hummed as she walked, almost dancing. Without her usual dark cloud of cynicism and understandable fury in place, there was a brightness to her that riveted him. Griffin wanted to enjoy it, enjoy her, but he was too worried about what she’d done to herself—and how it would end. Highs inevitably came with lows.
She stumbled, dizzy and distracted, and he easily caught her around the waist. Gods, he loved the feel of this woman in his hands. He wanted her under him. Over him. Everywhere.
“You’re high on euphoria.” He slid his hands up her ribcage to better balance her as she swayed. “A strong dose, calibrated to a man twice your size.” Their eyes met, and Griffin felt her soft, dreamy gaze straight down to his groin. “How did that happen?”
Cat beckoned, and he lowered his head. Their faces brushed, and he wished he could turn and capture her lips with his. It was torture to hold back, especially when Cat pressed into him, seeming to enjoy the contact.
“I can steal magic,” she told him in a conspiratorial whisper. “If you had any, I’d steal yours.”
Griffin kept a steady expression, even though her words shocked him. He’d never heard of that. He’d known Cat was valuable, powerful, but good Gods, was there nothing she couldn’t do?
Without his immunity to harmful magic, he could never hold on to a Magoi like Cat—magic rope or not. Although the rope certainly helped.
Helped keep her, he thought grimly. It didn’t help their relationship.
Her sudden smile nearly winded him.
“I can give it away, too.” Cat laid her hands on his chest and then shuddered. She frowned, seeming baffled.
“You don’t want any?” She pushed on his chest again before dropping her hands. “There’s something very strange about you.”
The realization appeared to delight her. Laughter bubbled up straight from her belly. Griffin felt his own mouth twitch.
Her amusement cut off abruptly, and she scooted out of his arms, reaching for Kato. Kato’s eyes glazed over the instant she touched him. He grinned like a fool.
“Everything’s pink!” Kato turned, lost his balance, and knocked over an entire table of leather goods.
“For the Gods’ sakes!” Griffin muttered. Now there were two of them.
The irate vendor started grumbling curses, so Griffin handed over some money. Nothing was broken, and the silver coin would more than pay for the mess.
He turned to someone who still had his wits intact. “Flynn! Take care of him. Take him back to the inn. Make sure he doesn’t do anything stupid or kill anyone by accident.”
“Oh, no!” Cat sang out in a loud voice. “We mustn’t kill by accident. Only on purpose.”
“My sentiment exactly.” Griffin gripped her hand and led her away from the growing crowd of staring people.
Cat giggled. Carver kept pace behind them.
“Where are we going?” Cat asked, starting to dance in circles around him. Griffin turned as well to keep the rope from tangling—not that he’d mind if it drew her right up against him.
Her hands suddenly flew up, and she started almost frantically taking apart her braid.
“We have one more thing to buy,” Griffin answered, wondering if he should help her with whatever she was doing.
“I knew it!” She seemed to forget about her now-disheveled hair and clapped, beaming. “What?”
“A drying cloth.”
Her face fell. Griffin knew a drying cloth wasn’t very exciting, but she needed one, so there was that.
Cat’s head swiveled around, and she walked off to the right, taking Griffin with her.
Her expression brightened once more. “A sword! I want a sword. Can I have a sword?”
The way her eyes glittered when she looked up at him punched a hole of happiness straight through his ribs. Right then, he knew he could deny her nothing—except the freedom she wanted most.
“You can’t even lift a sword.” He followed her toward the table of blades anyway. Maybe the vendor had something small.
“I can. Watch me.” She reached for a huge monstrosity of a weapon. It looked big, even to Griffin’s eyes.
“That’s odd. Someone must have glued it.” She bent over the sword for a closer look and ended up hitting her face on it.
Griffin’s heart spasmed. Was she hurt?
“Ow!” Cat popped up, rubbing her nose and nearly falling over backward. His hand shot out to steady her, but this time, she didn’t need him.
She frowned ferociously at the blood on her fingers, but Griffin breathed a sigh of relief. The cut was a small thing.
Cat eventually shrugged and then wiped the red smudge from her hand, laughing again. The euphoria must still have been strong in her system.
Brushing flyaway hair out of her face, Griffin leaned in for a closer look. The nick had already stopped bleeding.
In a move that startled him, Cat’s hands shot up and gripped his face back. Griffin’s heart stopped dead in his chest. She held on, her grasp tight at first. Then it loosened, and she trailed her fingertips down his cheeks.
Heat rushed through him. He wished he’d shaved for her. He didn’t dare breathe.
“Hmmm.” Her eyelids seemed to grow heavy, her lashing dipping to shade her beautiful eyes. “Scratchy.”
Griffin swallowed hard. Cat was touching him, and circumstances made it so that he couldn’t reciprocate.
He captured her hands in his and slowly lowered them. He couldn’t help the light caress he gave her knuckles. He didn’t do it consciously.
“The cut’s nothing.” Hardly recognizing his own voice, he released her. If he’d held on to her much longer, his skin would have caught fire.
With what felt like an Olympian effort, Griffin turned away from Cat and nodded to a small blade at the end of the table. The merchant handed it over, and he tested it, only partially to distract himself. If it wasn’t a quality blade, it wasn’t for Cat.
The sword turned out to be sturdy, well-crafted, and straight. “We’ll take it,” he announced. “And your smallest sword belt with dagger loops.”
Cat looked thrilled, and Griffin felt his chest expand.
“You’re buying me a sword? And a belt for my knives?” Grinning, she astonished him by leaping on him.
Griffin caught her as her arms and legs clamped around him. His heart thudded hard, his lungs seized, and his whole body ignited. She felt painfully perfect in his arms.
Unable to resist, he angled his head toward her and inhaled deeply. Cat smelled like frosted lemons—fresh and tangy, with a hint of acidity. He loved her bite. He was fairly certain he loved her.
As he breathed her in, his chest pressed against hers. The contact was exhilarating. His long, slow exhale shuddered over her neck, and Cat shivered in his arms.
Breathy laughter fluttered against his ear. “Ack! That tickles!”
A strained chuckle was Griffin’s only response.
He forced himself to unlock his greedy arms from around her and set her back on her feet. He knew Cat—an undrugged Cat—wouldn’t want to be in his embrace.
Staying close to him of her own accord, she smiled up at him in a way she never had before, like she meant it, rather than like she wanted to chew him up, spit him out, and then stomp on him until he was good and bloody.
Was this how things between them could be if she trusted him? If he’d convinced her that night at the circus fair instead of capturing her?
The thought made his chest ache, and Griffin cleared his throat, chasing out regret and need with a gruff sound. He’d figure out a way to win her over. He had to.
“The sword’s really for me?” Cat asked.
He hadn’t fully let her go since she hadn’t stepped back, and his fingers pressed lightly into her sides. “You said you wanted one.”
Cat’s smile grew brilliant. “In that case, I want two! One for each hip.”
He chuckled in spite of everything, imagining it all too well. The problem was, Cat was dangerous enough already.
“Let’s start with one,” he answered, drawing her a fraction closer.
Her breath caught, and it was agony not to lower his head and kiss her.
To avoid temptation, Griffin turned and paid for the sword.
Cat hopped along next to him when he began walking again. “Can I have it? Can I? Can I, please?”
“No.”
“Why not?”
“You can have it when I can trust you.”
She nodded. “Okay.”
Okay?” Griffin’s eyebrows flew up in surprise. “That’s it?”
“What’s it?” She flapped her hands, swatting at something. “Did you see that?”
He frowned. “See what?”
“The bee. The Centaur bee. The pink one.”
Glancing briefly toward Olympus for guidance—and to keep from laughing—Griffin took Cat’s hand and led her through the market. It would have been easier if she hadn’t been dancing—not that he would ever stop her.
When she looked up at him again, the joy in her eyes almost blinded him. “Thank you.”
Her simple words punched the air from his lungs. “You’re welcome,” he answered gruffly.
“Not you,” she declared in an exasperated tone.
Griffin was content to not comment and watch her dance some more. She stumbled over Carver’s feet. Quick, as always, his brother helped her back up before he could reach for her, and Griffin’s hands clenched with the need to steady her himself.
In thanks for Carver’s aid, Cat dipped into a deep and graceful curtsy that looked like it could have been executed in any royal court. He was surprised she managed it so well, given her current state. The ease with which she moved smacked of years of practice and raised questions he knew she wouldn’t answer.
Carver bowed back awkwardly enough to make Cat laugh until she could barely breathe. They weren’t used to such pomp in the south. Court etiquette was something he and his family still had to figure out—preferably fast.
Feeling a rush of worry for his family right now trying to integrate into royal life in Sinta City without him, Griffin guided Cat toward a table covered in drying cloths. Cat jumped, trying to catch the hanging ones while he looked through the selection on the table, suddenly ready to be done with the market in Velos and get back on the road.
“This one,” he said, selecting a yellow one about the same shade as Cat’s usual soap. She’d like that, wouldn’t she? It was almost like having a set.
“Is that for me?” she asked.
Griffin nodded, his stomach sinking at how disgusted she looked by his choice.
“Not that one. It looks like Cerberus threw up on it.” She glanced from side to side. “I want that one!”
She seemed ecstatic about a flashy red cloth big enough to cover four of her, so he put the yellow one back and bought the red.
He couldn’t think of anything else she—or anyone—needed, so Griffin steered Cat back toward the inn. Without warning, she sat down in the street, yanking the rope tight between them and pulling him to a sudden stop. Griffin let out a grunt of surprise.
Cat looked up at him, her nose scrunching. “Serves you right. You could just untie me. Or let me go.”
There was the usual Cat. Her tongue was still sharp, even if her mind was fuzzy. “And miss all this fun?” he teased.
Her laughter shook her all over. Griffin smiled back, wishing things could always be this easy and enjoyable between them. Maybe they would have been if he hadn’t been such a colossal arse the night they met.
He opened his mouth to apologize for capturing her, to solemnly ask her forgiveness, for another chance, for a better them he was desperate to have, when Cat’s head snapped around, and she jumped up, already running.
Bollocks! He’d missed his opportunity. He knew himself; there was a good chance he wouldn’t take it again. Cat’s barbed tongue could make even him hesitate, and she’d be back to her normal self soon. And in the end, he wasn’t sorry they were together. He’d never be sorry for that. Griffin ran after her.
“Where are you going?” he asked. Carver jogged next to them on Cat’s other side.
She didn’t answer but then veered off and ran up the steps of a bathhouse, crashing through the doors and nearly plowing into a couple. She reached for the woman but then pulled back before Griffin had to intervene. She kept going.
Chortling with glee, Cat raced toward what Griffin suspected was the men’s pool from the artwork on the walls. She didn’t seem to notice the increasingly explicit mosaics lining the corridor.
They arrived at a tall door that Cat tried unsuccessfully to open. She repeatedly groped for and missed the very prominent latch.
Griffin reached around her to open the door, not sure he shouldn’t have been barring the way instead. “I get the feeling you’ve never been high before.”
She glanced up at him. “Have you?”
He shook his head. Never—and he didn’t plan on it.
“Looks like fun,” Carver chimed in, rather idiotically in Griffin’s opinion. It looked like a dangerous loss of control to him.
Cat teetered toward Carver. “Want some? It’s fabulous!”
Carver grinned. “No thanks. Offering anything else?” he asked so smoothly that Griffin had to do a double-take before the urge to punch his brother hit him.
Cat laughed, blushing prettily. Then she sighed. “Don’t flirt.”
“Why not?” Carver asked, completely ignoring Griffin’s hard stare.
“Don’t you know? Poseidon sent your incredibly annoying brother to me with an oracular dream. Once-in-a-lifetime thing. Except for most people. Most people never have one. Anyway”—she rolled her eyes—“he probably thinks it means something.” She snorted like that was beyond ridiculous when it was likely the most important thing that had ever happened to him. “I’d rather eat goat balls. Or goat shit.” She frowned, clearly confused. “Or goat cheese!” she abruptly shouted.
“Oracular dream?” Griffin turned the term over in his mind and in his mouth. He hadn’t known what it was called, or that it occasionally happened to others, but he’d known it was life-changing. He’d known it meant he was supposed to be with Cat.
“She’s a wealth of information,” Carver murmured.
“What? Never heard of one?” Cat shrugged. “I’m hot.” She turned, tripped, and went down before Griffin could catch her.
He helped her to her feet again and then followed as she ran straight into the men’s bathing chamber. Three naked men looked over, startled.
Cat yanked her tunic over her head.
Griffin’s eyes widened. “For the Gods’ sakes, Cat!” He wanted to look. He knew he shouldn’t.
Everyone else needed to get out now.
She kept stripping, and something roared inside him.
“Out!” he shouted to the other men. What in the Underworld was he supposed to do? He couldn’t leave her alone in here. Not looking seemed impossible, especially when he needed to keep her safe. And because he desperately wanted to.
The need to protect her, even from himself, battered his chest. At the savage look on his face, the three men scrambled out of the pool and ran. They averted their gazes from Cat, obviously knowing what was good for them.
Cat turned back to him, completely bare. Heat built in his groin and crept through his abdomen. Griffin wanted to reach for her, to cover her. To cover her with himself. He nearly groaned.
His brother moved in his peripheral vision. What in the Gods’ names was Carver still doing here? A growl ground deep in his throat.
Before his narrowed eyes could snap to Carver, Cat reached up and swept her fingers through his hair. Her touch was light but sure. There was no hesitation, and even some gentleness. He wished she would never stop.
She smiled and patted his head. “Good Beta.”
The growl meant for Carver turned into a grunted laugh.
“Woof!” she barked back.
Gods, she was amazing. And fun. And strong. The knowledge made him grin and hit him square in the chest—which made his eyes automatically drop to hers.
Griffin froze, balling his hands into fists to keep from reaching for her.
She flushed. Her nipples hardened as he watched, and the tension inside him exploded into something nearly unbearable—hot and urgent. Griffin felt a muscle tick in his jaw as he clenched his teeth, fighting to tear his eyes away from her. He lost the battle, and his eyes dipped, sweeping over her. He swallowed hard. He wanted this woman more than his next breath. But he wanted her to like him first.
“Untie me or get in.” Cat’s throaty whisper, her invitation, nearly brought him to his knees.
Griffin stepped closer to hide her nakedness from Carver. He didn’t watch Carver leave the room, but he did watch Cat blow his brother a kiss, and Griffin practically saw red. He’d never felt so barbarically possessive in his life.
Finally alone with her, Griffin lifted his eyes to Cat’s. “Give me your binding word you won’t leave without me.”
“All right,” she agreed.
Could it be that easy? “Say it,” he insisted.
She rolled her eyes with extra exuberance and then bowed dramatically. “I won’t leave the bathing chamber without you, O Imperious One.”
It was hard not to laugh. His ire deflated instantly. Cat was his only concern.
Griffin untied the rope, trying to keep his hands to himself. He accidentally brushed Cat’s waist at one point, though, and his fingers almost caught fire. His whole body tightened with the need to claim Cat for his own.
The instant she was free of the rope, Cat turned and dove into the pool. She stayed underwater for so long that Griffin started to get anxious. He realized he shouldn’t have worried when she popped up a moment later, whooping and laughing.
She swam forever, and Griffin couldn’t do anything but watch and make sure she didn’t hurt herself. She played, frolicking in a way that made him long to join her. But she wouldn’t like that. She might like it now—she’d even splashed him and tried to coax him in—but she wouldn’t like it later. He wouldn’t make the inevitable end of her fun worse by joining her and giving her something more to regret from today.
Besides, how would he keep from touching her? From showing her how hot he burned for her? If he got in, the whole damn pool might evaporate just from the fire inside him.
Another long hour of torture later, Griffin pulled up short. He saw the exact moment Cat’s high burned itself out and fatigue and reality came crashing back to take its place.
She gasped, paling to near-translucent. She started to sink.
Griffin stepped forward, but then she seemed to recover enough to float. He hesitated. He wanted to help her, but she probably wouldn’t want him touching her.
Cat’s face went from white to red so fast it was blinding. She bowed her head, looking defeated, and Griffin’s heart clenched hard.
“That’s why addicts stay high,” he said softly. “It’s too awful when it ends.”
She sniffed but didn’t look up.
“Come.” Dropping his gaze to the marble floor, Griffin held out her new drying cloth. It was more than big enough to cover her up and warm her.
He didn’t look directly at Cat, but he could still tell that she crawled up the steps, shaking, shivering, and almost too weak to make it to the cloth he held. Griffin was going to hand it to her, but then she just oozed into the material and waited. He wrapped it around her and began gently patting her dry.
“Why did you take it?” he asked when she closed her eyes, looking mortified, weary, and utterly alone.
Right then, Griffin wished more than ever that he’d earned the right to take her into his arms and comfort her. But he hadn’t, so he wrapped the cloth more firmly around her instead. She trembled.
“The magic wanted to be inside me.” She spoke so softly he barely heard. “I couldn’t control it. I-I didn’t even try.”
Was it just his imagination, or had Cat leaned into him?
He cleared his throat.
“It wasn’t his magic. It was a spell.” Griffin straightened, wanting a better look at her. Pale face. Grey lips. Blank eyes. The sight of her made his chest ache.
“It doesn’t matter.” She slumped, hardly even upright. “It’s the same to me.”
Not knowing what else to do, Griffin made sure the cloth was secure around her before trying to guide her toward her clothes. “Let’s go.”
Instead of walking, Cat dropped to the floor and curled up in a ball.
Watching her, Griffin’s gut sank. He’d put her in a position where she’d felt compelled to steal unknown magic, undoubtedly to help her escape. Now she was sick and miserable, and it was in good part his fault. No wonder she hated him.
Griffin gathered their belongings and then carefully picked Cat up off the floor. She surprised him by not protesting. She even rested her wet head on his shoulder, her breath a sweet warmth against his neck. He cradled her against him. He’d build trust one heartbeat at a time if he had to.
“You never smell bad,” she murmured, barely forming words around her fatigue.
“Should I?” Griffin asked.
“It would make you mortal, like the rest of us.”
“I am mortal. That’s why I need—”
“—your help,” she finished with a sigh.
“This isn’t a game, Cat.”
“Just leave me here,” she said despondently. “You can’t carry me all the way back.”
Griffin grunted. That was absurd—in more ways than one. “And leave behind my most valued treasure?”
She hesitated. Her breath seemed to catch. “I won’t be used.”
Ah, the usual rhetoric. He smiled vaguely. Was she coming back to herself?
“Egeria will win you over,” he said. And he would, too.
She yawned, bringing the tip of her nose into contact with his neck. He wished she’d let herself come even closer, thought maybe a small part of her even wanted to, but suddenly she stiffened in his arms.
“It won’t get that far.” Those five words were sharper than anything she’d said in hours.
Griffin’s mouth flattened. And so it began again. “You’re wrong. You’re wrong about a lot of things.” And somehow, someday, he would prove it.
“I bled on that sword and didn’t dilute it.” The panic in Cat’s voice shot tension through his body. “They’ll track my blood. It’s been hours. They’re already on their way.”
“Who?” he demanded.
Wilting again, she yawned, exhaustion seeming to drown her fear. “It’s your fault. You exposed me.”
Griffin held her tighter, his heart hammering out adrenaline-laced beats. “I’ll protect you.”
She closed her eyes, looking alarmingly weak. Almost unconscious. “You could try,” she whispered just before her head lolled, and her body went limp in his arms.
Grim-faced, Griffin carried her toward the inn. He had to do better than try. The fate of Thalyria and both of their futures depended upon it.



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