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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Idolizing In: Always Series, Book 3 | #BookReview @CherieMHudson @lexxie_couper

- This was an ARC book - Available Formats through Amazon: Paperback - Pages: 280 | Release Date: June 30, 2016 | Publisher: Momentum Books : Moonlight | Obtained: NetGalley

"Undeniable" [Always Series, Book 3] by Cherie M. Hudson (aka Lexxie Couper)

Author's Book Description : Listen to your heart.

Sit still for a moment. Close your eyes. Listen. Just listen. What do you hear? When I do that, I hear … fuzz. Okay, not really fuzz, but it’s hard to explain what I hear. Put your hands over your ears. Hear that? That’s kind of like what I hear, but not really …
I feel sound. Does that make sense? Being deaf in one ear and partially deaf in the other sucks. People think I’m dumb. I’m not dumb. I just can’t hear you. I’ve worked out however, people thinking you’re dumb actually works to your advantage. When people think you’re dumb, they don’t expect anything from you. And when they don’t expect anything from you, you don’t have to engage with them. I’m okay with that.
So why the hell is my sister’s boyfriend’s cousin, an annoying Australian named Caden, so adamant he wants to talk to me? I can’t work out if he’s laughing at me, or if he can see what I can see … the world is worth laughing at. What kind of name is Caden any way?
I also can’t work out why, for the first time ever, I wish I could truly hear the way normal people do. Surely it has nothing to do with the fact I wonder what his heart would sound like beating in his chest if I lay my head on it. I can’t work it out and I don’t like it.
Damn it.

My Book Review : 5 out of 5 stars! Yes, Caden loves his cousin like a brother and would do anything he can for his cousin’s family (and has on more than one occasion) but that isn’t the real/only reason he travels whenever he could to San Diego, California during his time off from his university in Australia. The real reason is because of his cousin’s sarcastic, snarky, big hearted sister-in-law Chase (Chastity). He has been in love with her from just about the beginning of their “relationship” and now he just has to prove it to her any way he can. But while Chase tries to keep him at bay, others conspire against them. Will Caden’s actions be enough to win her heart for good or will he fumble up any chance they have of being together?

I really liked this contemporary new adult romance that is written in a diary style kind of way. It was easy to follow along (as this is the first novel from its Always Series that I’ve read) and I enjoyed how it gave the reader a way of viewing/learning about Caden and Chase’s thoughts on WHY they did the things they did throughout the novel. All in all, it was easy to realize that though Chase and Caden were perfect for one another they both had some growing to do in comprehending what they wanted out of life and each other. In their novel, you get to see their growth, their love for one another, and see how much Chase needed to come to an understanding about her past and what she wanted out of her future. This novel is VERY well written.

Caden and Chase have very similar personalities, though when they had bad things happen to them when they were younger they took very different approaches to life and how they handled the circumstances that are thrown their way. Because of that, it makes for a whole lot of drama in their novel, but the tension that grows finally has them fessing up to their true feelings for each other so it all works out for the best. And how they fessed up …. in truth I was charmed. Together they make a great couple that I rooted for from the start. Their story is one that is unique but meaningful enough that it’ll definitely stick with me.

I HIGHLY recommend this novel to those looking for an incomparable contemporary new adult romance!

Purchase This Book and/or The Other Books From It's Series Here : Amazon (Paperback) USD : Unconditional (Book 1) | Amazon (Paperback) USD : Unforgettable (Book 2)

Amazon (Paperback) : Undeniable (Book 3)

My Previous Review(s) for this Author : Misplaced Princess

My Previous Mention(s) of this Author's Books/Characters : The Books I'm Thankful For (so far) in 2017

Author's Novel Extras : ​Chapter One of UNDENIABLE

Author's Series Extras :

Book Teaser(s) :
I plan to one day own a rescue mutt of indecipherable parentage and call him Puss-Cat, just to mess with people's heads. ~ within Chapter 1 - titled 'Caden'
If anyone tells you love makes you invincible, tell them they're full of shit. Love makes you paranoid and insecure and nervous you're going to fuck it all up and lose the best thing that's ever happened to you. ~ within Chapter 5 - titled 'Caden'

For more information on this book, series, and/or any other books by Cherie, then please check out her Amazon Acct.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

The Books I'm Thankful For (so far) in 2017

In tradition (well mine at least) of today being Thanksgiving Day (the USA version of it at least), here is a list of ALL the books I've read thus far this year that I've given my highest ratings to (5 out of 5 stars), which means I'm VERY Thankful for finding/reading them! Be forewarned though ... I moved a few months back and that has killed my reviewing schedule SO ONLY FOUR (4) of these books below have complete write-ups and reviews for them. The other novels I will HOPEFULLY have their COMPLETE book reviews posted soon (my goal is to get them in before the New Year .. *hahaa* wish me luck)! But anyways, here you go they are all listed in the order of when I read them this year:
  1. "Bedded Bliss" [Found in Oblivion Series, Book 1] by Cari Quinn & Taryn Elliott: 5 out of 5 stars!! Two acquaintances meet up unexpectedly in Vegas. After a night of partying and heavy flirtation they wake up to find they’re married yet have no memory of doing so. Both are from different upbringings and completely different worlds, but because of how he was raised Michael doesn’t want to get divorced and plans on assisting Chloe any way he can so their marriage will work. Will all of Michael’s plans fall into place, making it so Chloe, her son, and Michael can actually be a good family together? Or will others try to keep them apart for good?

    This is the first really sweet rockstar romance novel that I’ve read in a while, and I am SOOO HAPPY that I found it! [Read more of Jess' Review and THREE TEASERS for this novel HERE]

  2. "The Governess Was Wanton" [The Governess Series, Book 2] by Julia Kelly: 5 out of 5 stars!!! When Mary starts her latest job as the governess to the Earl of Asten's only daughter, she finds her world tilted of its axis by the Earl (Eric) himself. He's handsome, smart, and kind with a roguish streak the only seems to come out around her. They try to maintain distance between them but the night of the masquerade ball the distance becomes obsolete but only Mary knows the truth. Will Mary & Eric be able to have more than stolen moments together or will their ranks keep them separated forever?

    This novel enamored me from the very beginning!! The illicit situation that brews between Mary & Eric is sweet and all consuming; it had me wanting their story to be never-ending. [Read more of Jess' Review and THREE TEASERS for this novel HERE]

  3. "Shadow of a Girl" by Shannon Greenland: 5 out of 5 stars!!!! Eve (Nesiah) has spent her life as a shadow of her true self in hopes of staving off the emotional and physical abuse she dealt with daily from her "father." Therefore, after confessing to her longtime friend about the abuse she received they device a plan to get Eve to escape. Once Eve ran away, she hides behind a false identity as a roadie and ends up meeting West (a famous lead singer). Over time, West breaks through Eve's defenses and their friendship turns into something more ... but soon Eve's past and the lies she's kept hidden come to light and might breakup the best things she's ever known. Will it all be too late to save her?

    This intense YA rockstar romance had me riveted from the very beginning. I loved the innocent passion Eve shares with West and how empowered Eve becomes throughout this whole novel. [Read more of Jess' Review and TWO TEASERS for this novel HERE]

  4. "Royally Roma" [The Royals Series, Book 1] by Teri Wilson: 5 out of 5 stars!! After feeling beaten down by his own royal responsibilities, Niccolo (Nico/Mano) the heir to the Lazaretto throne decides on escaping his gilded cage by pretending to be someone else when he meets Julia. Julia is an American tour guide living in Rome, who is running from her own notorious past and is in the midst of pulling her life together when she meets Niccolo. Their attraction is instantaneous and is blooming into something more by the minute. Yet when Niccolo’s “quick getaway” turns into something a whole lot more and into a bigger fiasco then he originally planned, will he still be able to go back to his “real” life after all is said and done; or will he be able to change his life for the better with the help of Julia by his side?

    Okay truth time … this novel is said to be a modern retelling of the classic Audrey Hepburn film ‘Roman Holiday,’ and though I have heard of it I have never watched it so I really didn’t know what it was about. Yet I can definitely say I was not disappointed in the least as I was hooked by Chapter 2. [Read more of Jess' Review and TWO TEASERS for this novel HERE]

  5. "Undeniable" [The Always Series, Book 3] by Cherie M. Hudson: 5 out of 5 stars! Yes, Caden loves his cousin like a brother and would do anything he can for his cousin’s family (and has on more than one occasion) but that isn’t the real/only reason he travels whenever he could to San Diego, California during his time off from his university in Australia. The real reason is because of his cousin’s sarcastic, snarky, big hearted sister-in-law Chase (Chastity). He has been in love with her from just about the beginning of their “relationship” now he just has to prove it to her any way he can. But while Chase tries to keep him at bay others conspire against them, will Caden’s actions be enough to win her heart for good or will he fumble up any chance they have of being together?

    I really liked this contemporary new adult romance that is written in a diary style kind of way. It was easy to follow along (as this is the first novel from its Always Series that I’ve read) and I enjoyed how it gave the reader a way of viewing/learning about Caden and Chase’s thoughts on WHY they did the things they did throughout the novel. All in all... [Read more of Jess' Review and TWO TEASERS for this novel HERE]

  6. "Sweet Southern Trouble" [Harmony Homecomings Series, Book 4] by Michele Summers: 5 out of 5 stars!! Under the pretense of getting Nick (Nicholas), the head coach of the North Carolina Cherokees, to allow her access to his team for her school's planned bachelor auction Marabelle (Tinker Bell/Mary-bell/Thumbelina) agrees to his ruse of being Nick's fiancee. However, every time Nick and Marabelle are together, sparks fly and they quickly find there relationship progressing rapidly and into something VERY real. That is if Marabelle can get over her own securities, Nick can get over his past, and if some one from Nick's recent "past" doesn't get in the way....

    Wow!! Out of the three novels I've read in Ms. Summers' Harmony Homecomings Series (Book 2, 3, & 4) THIS one is beyond far my favorite!!! Especially since... [Jess' COMPLETE Book Review will be COMING SOON please STAY TUNED!]

  7. "Beyond the Stars" by Stacy Wise: 5 out of 5 stars!! Jess’ (Jessica) dream has always been to live in France and speak fluent French. However, that all changes after she has to give up her year abroad because of getting mono. So, if she wants to stay in LA she is stuck helping out her Aunt by becoming a personal assistant for Jack, a popular leading actor. They don’t have a good beginning at all but overtime they let each other into their worlds and overtime they seem to fall for one another. But could it all be too good to be true or are they actually “soul mates”….

    This passionate sweet romance wins over its readers with endearing characters that make you want to either be them OR want them to be your friend! I fell in love with Jack right alongside Jess. Finding out... [Jess' COMPLETE Book Review will be COMING SOON please STAY TUNED!]

  8. "Marked for Them" [Witches of Rose Lake Series, Book 1] by Lia Davis: 5 out of 5 stars! All of Reese’s life she has been living in seclusion and on the run. She is half-demon after all. Than with her father trying to kill her staying hidden is necessary. But when a ghost finds her and brings her to men who might be able to help protect her, she finds the courage to take it upon herself to make a new future for them all. Now they just have to be sure to defeat their common enemy (her father) before he rips their lives apart even more…

    Can I just say now what I’ve been thinking since I finished this novel … which is, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!” Why Ms. Davis, did you do this to me?! I am on Ms. Davis’ newsletter list and when she was pimping this novel (Marked For Them) it left me REALLY intrigued. Therefore... [Jess' COMPLETE Book Review will be COMING SOON please STAY TUNED!]

  9. "Lover Eternal" [Black Dagger Brotherhood Series, Book 2] by J. R. Ward: 5 out of 5 stars! Continuing right where “Dark Lover” ended, we now follow Rhage. Watch as Rhage deals with fighting the lessers, protecting the civilians and those he cares for from the Society and himself, all while finding his mate. Yet will he be able to handle the repercussions that come with finding the woman who was meant for him?

    Like before … I LOVE this novel. Yet, in truth, it’s in a whole new way. I say that because... [Jess' COMPLETE Book Review will be COMING SOON please STAY TUNED!]

  10. "Blocked" [Blocked Series, Book 1] by Jennifer Lane: 5 out of 5 stars!! Dane & Lucia (Luz) are in a unique situation. Dane’s mother and Lucia’s father are BOTH Presidential Candidates to become the next President of the United States. And because of a scandal at Lucia’s original college they are now attending the same college on volleyball scholarships. This forced proximity has Pros and Cons, which they end up dealing with along the way, but once Lucia’s true feelings come out for Dane both of their worlds change. But will it be a better change for everyone? That still remains to be seen …

    OMG!!! This novel held me RIVETED from the very beginning. I could not get enough of Lucia and Dane’s passion throughout this novel. They were... [Jess' COMPLETE Book Review will be COMING SOON please STAY TUNED!]

  11. "A New Leash on Love" [Rescue Me Series, Book 1] by Debbie Burns: 5 out of 5 stars!! A man (Craig) who is still coming to terms with the devastating loss that happened in his life years ago takes his daughter’s puppy to a local animal shelter at the wishes of said daughter and his ex-wife. From that moment on his life becomes unexpectedly intertwined with Megan, the Director of the animal shelter. Yet, especially with them both being so different, are they ready to try making something of their budding relationship or will fate take the choice out of their hands?

    Enchanting from the start with Craig and Megan’s sparking chemistry and intense banter. Though I think what might have really hooked me was Sledge within the first chapter, I love him! All together... [Jess' COMPLETE Book Review will be COMING SOON please STAY TUNED!]

  12. "P.S. I Like You" by Kasie West: 5 out of 5 stars!! Oh my goodness, you guys!! This novel!!! I don’t know where to begin with this review. *happy sigh* So here we go ...

    Lily is a shy girl who covers that with false confidence. Yet because of how she portrays herself to everyone else, it means she only has one friend. Her best friend Isabel. But even though she has a “hipster” eclectic sole and style, her goal in life is to be a song writer. And she is still on the brink of being great, IF she can get a “muse” to work for her. So, one day she was “working” on her lyrics during Chemistry class and using the desk as her paper. The following day she finds a response on her desk that someone else wrote. And so begins her exchanges with her secret pen pal. Who could it be? As time goes by she decides to find out who her pen pal actually is but will she be happy once she finally knows ...

    I had originally heard about this book from Julie @ Pages and Pens and I am so glad I did! I agree when Julie said... [Jess' COMPLETE Book Review will be COMING SOON please STAY TUNED!]

  13. "A Hummingbird Christmas" [Glacier Creek Series, Book 1] by Karen Foley: 5 out of 5 stars!! Joy's Christmas wish is to give her five-year-old daughter the best holiday ever. So, in hopes of a winter wonderland Christmas they head to her in-laws house in Montana where they find that everyone seems to be needing a bit of holiday magic....

    In truth, I was on the fence about this novel at its beginning, but I am sooo happy that I stuck with it! It is a heartwarming tale about overcoming the loss of a loved one and finally moving on. It was especially nice that... [Jess' COMPLETE Book Review will be COMING SOON please STAY TUNED!]

I hope you'll find a novel or more that you'd like to read as much as I did!! As usual it's an eclectic mix of Erotic, Paranormal, Historical, Contemporary, and Young Adult ROMANCES! =0)

Anyway ....

As always I wish you a FUN, DELICIOUS, and ENJOYABLE Thanksgiving! Have a wonderful day and some exciting days ahead! Again please STAY TUNED for my upcoming reviews (including the ones above I've listed that the reviews aren't posted yet I have about FIFTY-ish book reviews coming)!! Thank you for visiting and if you follow any of my social accounts THANK YOU for doing that too! If you have time please share this book list around. =0)

Best regards, Jess


Check out my previous Thankful Book Lists :
Top 5 Books I'm Thankful For (so far) in 2011The Books I'm Thankful For (so far) in 2012The Books I'm Thankful For (so far) in 2013
The Books I'm Thankful For (so far) in 2014The Books I'm Thankful For (so far) in 2015The Books I'm Thankful For (so far) in 2016

Friday, October 20, 2017

Idolizing In: The Royals Series, Book 1 | #BookReview @TeriWilsonauthr

- This is an ARC book - Available Formats through Amazon: Kindle Edition - File Size: 2022 KB | Expected Release Date: March 27, 2017 | Publisher: Simon & Schuster : Gallery Books : Pocket Star | Obtained: NetGalley

"Royally Roma" [The Royals Series, Book 1] by Teri Wilson

Author's Book Description : In this charming, modern retelling of the classic Audrey Hepburn film Roman Holiday, a royal prince tries to escape his hectic and rigid life and ends up leading a young graduate student on a chase through the Eternal City.

Julia Costa is too busy trying to complete her PhD while also holding down a full-time job as a private tour guide in Rome to keep up with celebrity gossip. So when she crosses paths with a real, actual prince, she mistakes him for a client and takes him on a daylong tour of the city.

Intrigued by the idea of spending time with someone who obviously has no idea who he is, and delighted at the prospect of a day free of royal obligations, Niccolo La Torre, Crown Prince of Lazaretto, acts on impulse and assumes the role of Julia’s client. He swears to himself that he’ll return to his royal duties after only half a day…but he’s having the time of his life.

Until Julia presents him with the bill. Since he snuck out of the hotel without so much as a dime, he tries to escape, only to discover that she won’t let him out of her sight until he can pay her back. She’s determined to get her money…and perhaps more from the handsome stranger she’s fallen for.

My Book Review : 5 out of 5 stars!! After feeling beaten down by his own royal responsibilities, Niccolo (Nico/Mano) the heir to the Lazaretto throne decides on escaping his gilded cage by pretending to be someone else when he meets Julia. Julia is an American tour guide living in Rome, who is running from her own notorious past and is in the midst of pulling her life together when she meets Niccolo. Their attraction is instantaneous and is blooming into something more by the minute. Yet when Niccolo’s “quick getaway” turns into something a whole lot more and into a bigger fiasco then he originally planned, will he still be able to go back to his “real” life after all is said and done; or will he be able to change his life for the better with the help of Julia by his side?

Okay truth time … this novel is said to be a modern retelling of the classic Audrey Hepburn film ‘Roman Holiday,’ and though I have heard of it I have never watched it so I really didn’t know what it was about. Yet I can definitely say I was not disappointed in the least as I was hooked by Chapter 2. It was the banter between Niccolo and Julia that reeled me in, especially how it seemed that Julia could get to the heart of any situation which made her be able to handle and understand Niccolo better than most people. Together they seemed to light up each page as you learned about their unusual meetup and budding romance. Though both were resistant to the possibility of something more between them because of the reality of their lives it seemed like fate wanted them together no matter what. It was very charming to see them both succumb to fate.

I recommend this novel 100% to anyone looking for a quirky contemporary new adult romance! My only regrets, though they didn’t tarnish my love for this novel, was that given today’s technology I kept thinking that Niccolo’s security would find him because of his cell phone AND I wish the ending wasn’t so abrupt. And yet I still HIGHLY recommend it! 😊

Purchase This Book and/or The Other Books From It's Series Here : Amazon (Kindle) USD : Royally Romanov (Book 2) | Amazon (Kindle) USD : Royally Wed (Book 3)

Kobo (e-Book) USD : Royally Roma (Book 1)
Royally Roma (e-Book) USD : Royally Roma (Book 1)

Amazon (Kindle) : Royally Roma (Book 1)
Royally Roma
Barnes & Noble (NOOK Book) USD : Royally Roma (Book 1)
Kobo (e-Book) USD : The Royals Series

My Previous Review(s) for this Author : Unmasking Juliet

My Previous Mention(s) of this Author's Books/Characters : The Books I'm Thankful For (so far) in 2014 | Best Book Couples -- Happy Valentine's Day 2015 | Happy Birthday to Me ... Book Deals/Specials for YOU! #BookSales

Author's Novel Extras : ​Royally Roma [Book 1] - Overview

Author's Series Extras : Royally Romanov [Book 2] - Overview | ​Royally Wed [Book 3] - Overview

Book Teaser(s) :
Note to self: when endeavoring to disappear, do not run straight to the most populated spot in all of Rome. ~ within Chapter 6

Book Preview(s) :

For more information on this book, series, and/or any other books by Teri, then please check out her Amazon Acct.

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 :
    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.
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?”
“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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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Feasted On: Marriage Mart Mayhem Series, Book 7 | #BookReview @CallieHutton

- This is an ARC book - Available Formats through Amazon: Paperback - Pages: 240; Kindle Edition - File Size: 1343 KB | Expected Release Date: August 22, 2016 | Publisher: Entangled Publishing : Scandalous | Obtained: NetGalley

"The Earl's Return" [Marriage Mart Mayhem Series, Book 7] by Callie Hutton

Author's Book Description : London, 1819. Four years ago, Darius, the Earl of Redgrave fled London two weeks before his wedding to Lady Mary’s sister and married another woman. Now a widower, he has returned to seek a new wife.

One woman catches his eye...

At first, Lady Mary doesn’t recognize the handsome lord as the cad who ran out on her sister. After giving him the cut direct in a London ballroom, she finds herself running into him everywhere she goes, and fighting a forbidden attraction. Not only has Mary sworn off men, Redgrave is so very wrong for her. But she cannot stop thinking of his kisses. Redgrave means to stay away from Mary but it is impossible. Passion between two people who can never be together is a dangerous game.

My Book Review : 4.5 out of 5 stars! Four years ago, Redgrave (Darius) ran out on his fiancée to elope with a woman he was coerced into marrying. Now after his wife has passed away Redgrave is back in London so he can find a new wife, someone who he'll be able to have a meaningful relationship with, which he wasn't able to get in his first marriage. What Redgrave didn't plan for was falling for the younger sister of his ex-fiancée. Yet, could things finally be working out for Redgrave or will others from his past find a way to set him up for failure again...

An enticing novel from beginning to end, this historical romance keeps you on your toes as you fall in love with Redgrave and his budding relationship to Mary. They are one of those couples who seem to work from the get go, then add in their intense attraction to each other and you have a compelling read I didn't want to put down.

I recommend this novel to those looking for a unique historical romance.

Purchase This Book and/or The Other Books From It's Series Here : Amazon (Kindle) USD : The Elusive Wife (Book 1) | Amazon (Kindle) USD : The Duke's Quandary (Book 2) | Amazon (Kindle) USD : The Lady's Disgrace (Book 3) | Amazon (Kindle) USD : The Baron's Betrayal (Book 4) | Amazon (Kindle) USD : The Highlander's Choice (Book 5) | Amazon (Kindle) USD : The Highlander's Accidental Marriage (Book 6)

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Amazon (Paperbacks) : Marriage Mart Mayhem Series

Kobo (e-Book) USD : Marriage Mart Mayhem Series

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

My Previous Review(s) for this Series : Book 4

My Previous Mention(s) of this Author's Books/Characters : The Baron’s Betrayal by Callie Hutton | Interview & Spreading the Word | Best Book Couples -- Happy Valentine's Day 2015

Author's Series Extras : ​Marriage Mart Mayhem Series - Overview

Book Teaser(s) :
"I understand you have every right to dislike me. I acknowledge the pain and suffering I caused your family, and particularly Lady Abigail. Even though I offer my apology, I do not expect you to accept it. However, whatever my intentions, we will be working together for the betterment of the orphans, and I suggest we declare a truce."
She pulled his jacket closer around her, until she realized what she was doing when his scent grew stronger, so she released her hold on the coat. "Very well. We have a truce." She waved her hand. "You may leave me now."
To her irritation he burst out laughing. "So says the queen."
Even she had to grin. She did, indeed, sound like royalty giving her commands to underlings. ~ within Chapter 3

Book Preview(s) :

For more information on this book, series, and/or any other books by Callie, then please check out her Amazon Acct.
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