Friday, December 6, 2019

Defending Everly by Susan Stoker

The stakes are personal, hot, and dangerous in New York Times bestselling author Susan Stoker’s riveting Mountain Mercenaries novel.

As tough as Everly Adams may be, the Colorado Springs SWAT officer is near a breaking point. Her fifteen-year-old half sister, Elise, has disappeared from Los Angeles without a trace, and the window to find her is closing fast. Committed to the search is Mountain Mercenary Kannon “Ball” Black. He and Everly already have a history—of rubbing each other the wrong way.

Still, Everly has to admit the man is heart-stopping. His brash alpha swagger takes her breath away. And most importantly, as a former Coast Guard first responder, Ball has what it takes to bring Elise home.

Nobody’s buying the LAPD’s “runaway” theory. And the fear that Elise is the victim of a human trafficking ring is a gut-punch that Everly and Ball can’t ignore. If only the trail were that clear cut. Because the one they’re following is more insidious and intimately dark than they could have imagined.

Now as the bond between Everly and Ball grows stronger, so does the heat. And as the stakes rise, so does the danger.

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Book 5
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Avid Reader☆☆☆☆☆
M/F Thriller Romance
Triggers: Click HERE to see Avid Reader’s review on Goodreads for trigger warnings.

This is Kannon's book and I've loved each and every one of the Mountain Mercenaries' books. You should get them all! However, this could be read as a standalone book. You might miss some of the relationship nuances, but overall, this could be read as a standalone.

Everly is a strong, independent SWAT officer who knows that her younger sister didn't just run away. Everly knows that something is wrong, and she asks the Mountain Mercenaries to help. But her first impression of Kannon is less than stellar.

Kannon "Ball" has been burned a few times by women he cared about, so when he hears that a civilian, and a female civilian at that, will be accompanying the mission, he voices his objections loudly... with her standing right behind him.

As Ball and Everly try and figure out where Elise could be and who might have taken her, they also discover things about each other that help them see past that horrible first impression. Ball realizes that he did treat the women in his life differently – his own bias shown through without him thinking it had. Everly realized that Ball was protecting himself and that she didn't have to feel guilty about finding herself before reaching out to help her younger sister.

This is action packed and full of slow burn chemistry. I love that Everly can surprise Ball and vice versa. These two have an attraction that goes beyond the physical. It's their minds and abilities that draw them to each other. I loved this story and loved that this was another independent, strong woman who finds her happily ever after.

This is the fifth book in the series, and I would highly recommend that you read them in order, as we get to see each member of the Mountain Mercenaries team find love. In this installment, we get to see how the unfortunate first meeting between Ball and Everly can still lead to a happily ever after... Yes, Susan Stoker is that good!

Kannon aka Ball has a very poor view of women, thanks to two truly awful experiences... but really, can he let the rest of his life be blighted by them? It is fascinating watching how he finally reconciles his past with the potential of a much improved future. Everly most definitely has a significant impact on his thinking, and it would be true to say that the couples that he now spends time with have also made him think more closely about his prejudices. I thought that this worked really well through the book, even if there are times when he can't help but engage alpha mode.

Everly is convinced her sister, Elise, has been kidnapped, and Rex offers to send Ball to help her find Elise. And cue another pretty tense scenario were the men do their thing, and this time Everly gets to show that she too can use her policing skills to find Elise. Ball has no choice but to let her, as her sister is deaf and he doesn't have the skills to communicate with Elise. This gives Ball the chance to show that he is a good guy.

If you like your romance heavily laced with suspense and drama, then this will keep you on the edge of your seat without too much angst. And be warned that the epilogue definitely leaves you wanting more.

Also Available in the Mountain Mercenaries Series

Book 1
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For reviews & more info, check out our Defending Allye post.

Book 2
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For reviews & more info, check out our Defending Chloe post.

Book 3
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For reviews & more info, check out our Defending Morgan post.

Book 4
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For reviews & more info, check out our Defending Harlow post.

Susan Stoker is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author whose series include Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes, SEAL of Protection, and Delta Force Heroes. Married to a retired army noncommissioned officer, Stoker has lived all over the country—from Missouri to California to Colorado—and currently lives under the big skies of Texas. A true believer in the happily ever after, Stoker enjoys writing novels in which romance turns to love. To learn more about the author and her work, visit her website or find her on Facebook.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Defending Everly (Mountain Mercenaries #5) by Susan Stoker to read and review.

A Boyfriend for Christmas by Jay Northcote Blog Tour

Archie's posh parents want him to meet a nice girl—how can he tell them he's fallen for a bad boy instead?

Closeted, innocent and lonely, Archie Arandale longs for someone special in his life. A Christmas party organised by his wealth management company is the last place he expects to meet the man of his dreams.

With his leather jacket, tattoos, and piercings, Cal Turner turns heads the moment he walks through the door. He definitely isn't looking for a boyfriend, but Archie's hesitant charm captures his attention, and sneaking off during the party to have a little fun can only make a dull evening more interesting.

After their reckless and thrilling encounter, Archie is keen for more experience and Cal is happy to oblige. The need for secrecy means this can only be a casual fling, yet as they spend time together in the run up to Christmas, their feelings become more intense than either of them had bargained for. How can Archie find the courage to tell his family about Cal, when Cal's the exact opposite of the 'nice girl' they've been hoping for?

Contains: A closeted virgin, a tattooed biker, class differences, a dramatic coming out, a very inappropriate Christmas gift, and a happy ending (of course).

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

I really, really enjoyed this book. It is certainly one of my favourite Christmas books this year.

Archie is a young man who we see repressed by his wealthy, socialite parents, currently at a business event. So when tattooed, leather jacket wearing Cal comes in as a client guest, the evening takes a distinct turn for the better. Best of all, it is clearly mutual.

I loved both of them, how they think, how they are together, how they wish things could be, and the lengths they will go to for each other – all of this is written beautifully. But as well as them, there are some really special people who make all the difference to the richness of the story. I won't say more than Lottie is the heroine for me as she does a three-hour round trip for her brother. But there are others who are also very important to the plot.

My advice is that you get hold of a copy and treat yourself to an early Christmas gift. You will not regret it. Thank you, Jay Northcote, for a little treasure of a book, which is now on my to be reread list.

Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England. He comes from a family of writers, but always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed him by. He spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content.

One day, Jay decided to try and write a short story—just to see if he could—and found it rather addictive. He hasn’t stopped writing since.

Jay writes contemporary romance about men who fall in love with other men. He self-publishes under the imprint Jaybird Press.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of A Boyfriend for Christmas by Jay Northcote to read and review for this tour.

The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen

Ellery Hathaway knows a thing or two about serial killers, but not through her police training. She's an officer in sleepy Woodbury, MA, where a bicycle theft still makes the newspapers. No one there knows she was once victim number seventeen in the grisly story of serial killer Francis Michael Coben. The only victim who lived.

When three people disappear from her town in three years, all around her birthday—the day she was kidnapped so long ago—Ellery fears someone knows her secret. Someone very dangerous. Her superiors dismiss her concerns, but Ellery knows the vanishing season is coming and anyone could be next. She contacts the one man she knows will believe her: the FBI agent who saved her from a killer’s closet all those years ago.

Agent Reed Markham made his name and fame on the back of the Coben case, but his fortunes have since turned. His marriage is in shambles, his bosses think he's washed up, and worst of all, he blew a major investigation. When Ellery calls him, he can’t help but wonder: sure, he rescued her, but was she ever truly saved? His greatest triumph is Ellery’s waking nightmare, and now both of them are about to be sucked into the past, back to the case that made them...with a killer who can't let go.

Winner of the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition, Joanna Schaffhausen’s accomplished debut The Vanishing Season will grip readers from the opening page to the stunning conclusion.

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Book 1
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Avid Reader☆☆☆☆
M/F Thriller
Triggers: Click HERE to see Avid Reader’s review on Goodreads for trigger warnings.

Ellie is a police officer in a small town. She is known to be a strong, independent woman who isn't afraid of anything. But Ellie's past is something that haunts her daily. It's also not something that she discusses. When she notices that people have gone missing and nobody is doing anything about it, Ellie does everything in her power to get her fellow officers to listen. She even goes as far as to use her sexuality at times.

With nobody listening to her, she reaches out to the one person who might. Agent Reed is on a downward slide. He is on thin ice with the FBI and his family. When Ellie contact him, he can't help but be intrigued with her request.

Ellie and Reed are on the hunt for a killer that nobody else sees. But when the facts start to line up and more people go missing, Ellie's department can't help but see what she's seen all along. This is a fast-paced thriller that is very entertaining.

It was fairly predictable and I figured out the killer quite early on in the story, but I didn't feel that hindered my ability to enjoy the story until the end.

Just a few chapters into this book, I knew that Ellery Hathaway was going to be my new favourite heroine. She’s fabulous. Damaged but resilient. Defiant, abrasive, and a complete loner. I warmed to Ellery as immediately as I did to Jessica Jones, Mercy Thompson, or Temperance Brennan.

But while I completely fell in love with Ellery, I didn’t completely love this first book. The plot moves slowly. At one point I realised I was 75% through the book and Ellery and Reed didn’t have any real suspects. The end is exciting but I’m not sure there are enough clues for readers to guess the whodunnit alongside Ellery and Reed. I enjoyed the story but I’d like to see the plotting and pacing improve in the next books.

While Ellery is definitely the hero in this story, I really enjoyed the working relationship between her and Reed, the FBI agent she works with. Tied together by a horror story many years ago, Reed and Ellery are very different people who manage to make each other stronger. Reed is a bit of a cliché. He’s a washed-up agent on the brink of both divorce and a formal suspension from his job. Burned out cops are a bit overdone so it’s his complicated relationship to Ellery that makes him interesting. I’m not sure he’d be interesting on his own but I love him as Ellery’s overqualified and slightly reluctant sidekick.

Having already read the second book in this series, I will say that I felt like the writing gets tighter and the suspense more exciting in the second story. Anyone new to the series will need to read this one first because it is impossible to understand Ellery without it. And this book is worth a read – even if just to get to know a fabulous new heroine.

Joanna Schaffhausen wields a mean scalpel, skills developed in her years studying neuroscience. She has a doctorate in psychology, which reflects her long-standing interest in the brain—how it develops and the many ways it can go wrong. Previously, she worked for ABC News, writing for programs such as World News Tonight, Good Morning America, and 20/20. She lives in the Boston area with her husband and daughter. The Vanishing Season is her first novel.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of The Vanishing Season (Ellery Hathaway #1) by Joanna Schaffhausen to read and review.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Sexy as Sin by Julie Kriss Blog Tour

Second chances burn hotter

The assignment should be a fashion stylist’s dream. Dane Scotland—brilliant programmer, millionaire, partner in my brother’s company—is going to a big-money meeting, and he needs to look the part.

The problem? Dane doesn’t want a makeover. He’s grumpy and reclusive, and his wardrobe consists of two pairs of old jeans. He doesn’t want me anywhere near him.

Did I mention that he’s my brother’s best friend? And that no one knows exactly what Dane and I got up to ten years ago?

The nerd I knew is gone—Dane ditched his glasses and bulked up. Now he’s six-foot-plus of hot genius, but I can be professional. I can definitely keep my hands off him. Again.

But when he looks at me like he used to, like no one else ever has, the only thing I want is to lose control.

Dane and I gave each other our first taste of heartbreak. Are we destined for another round?

Four sexy CEO's get tamed one by one in this hot, emotional series.

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Book 2
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The tailor squawked as Dane pushed him aside, striding toward me in his underwear. He put his hands on the arms of my chair and leaned over me, his eyes on mine. I could see every inch of his naked skin. He glared at me.

“I get it,” he growled. “You’re pushing me. It’s what you do. Are you trying to see how far you can go?”

My voice came out breathy. God, I could smell him. “I’m not doing anything,” I said, and we both knew it was a lie.

“What do you want?” Dane said, thick with frustration. “Do you want me to say I’m sorry?”

My hands went cold and my breath stopped. “Sorry for what?”

“You know what. Sorry for what I did the last time I saw you.”

He thought he had to apologize for that? As if he had done something wrong? Had he thought that all this time? I couldn’t bear the idea. “No,” I told him. “Don’t say you’re sorry for that.”

He still watched me, his voice softening a little. “I’ll say it if you want me to.”

“Don’t,” I choked out. “Don’t.”

A muscle in his jaw twitched, and then he shook his head, backing off. “Can I at least put my clothes on now?”

I didn’t answer, and he didn’t wait for it. He grabbed his clothes and shoes and put them under his arm. “I’m going to dress in the men’s room,” he growled. “I’d like some privacy for a second.”

I still couldn’t speak. Dane walked away, and I downed the rest of the champagne in my glass, gulping it. He thought I wanted him to apologize. That fucking man.

That brilliant, stupid, utterly infuriating man.

I put my heels back on and stood up, looking at the suits and fabrics in the room. Now that the measurements were—mostly—done, I talked to the tailor about cuts, fabrics, and colors. Then my phone rang. Only after I hung up did I realize that Dane hadn’t come out of the bathroom, which was around the corner and down the hall.

“Would you like me to go find him?” the tailor asked politely.

“No need,” I said as suspicion bloomed in my gut. I walked around the corner myself, pushing open the door to the men’s room. “Dane!”

The room was empty.

“Fuck,” I said as the tailor came in after me. I turned to him. “Is there a back door?”

He looked stunned. Most likely, none of his rich clients had ever made an escape while getting measured for a bespoke suit. “At the end of the hall,” he said.

“Fuck,” I said again. I half-ran down the hall, moving as fast as I could in my three-inch heels. I slammed the back door open and saw nothing but parking lot.

Dane was gone.

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Avid Reader☆☆☆☆
M/F Romance
Triggers: Click HERE to see Avid Reader’s review on Goodreads for trigger warnings.

I did not read book one but never thought that I was missing anything.

Dane is a geek to his core. He loves his life but is at his happiest when he's writing code at his computer. Dane knows how lucky he is for the life that he's living, but when his partners need him to woo a potential investment, he's not very enthusiastic to change his look or go out for a fancy dinner with the client.

This is where Ava comes in. While she loves what she does, it doesn't pay the bills that well. And because she's not a stick figure and has been in the business a while, she knows that she's losing her ability to really make it in the world of fashion. But when her brother drags her into his scheme to give Dane a makeover, she can't say no. She needs the business.

Dane and Ava have a history that is both sweet and complicated. They have oodles of chemistry, but they also have issues that stem further than their attraction. Watching Ava get Dane to do what is necessary is funny and flirty. I really thought that they complemented each other well. The story was well developed, and I thought that the resolution was perfect for them.

I can't wait for Noah and Emma's story. If it's anything like this one, where the couple was sweet, funny, stubborn, and loving.

Oh this is a really fun read, which ticks many boxes – filthy rich man, second-chance romance, secret first time round as brother's best friend, fashion, tech, nerd turned into Adonis! I picked it up and didn't stop reading until I had finished. It is engaging, cute, sexy, and written in a style which just keeps you reading – be warned!

Ava is sent by her brother from Fashionista heaven New York to the city of their childhood, Chicago, where Dane still lives. Her work as a stylist is drying up, and her blog is now a little dated... she may only have just left her mid-twenties behind, but there are women just out of college chasing her jobs now. So much as she would like to refuse, she needs the commission, as much as owing her brother a favour.

You will love reading about how Ava and Dane first got together, so I will say no more, but I did love that they still thought of each other and when they do now see each other again, the honesty of their first times come back to them. The fact that Dane nerd has become a very handsome, fit guy does not go unnoticed, but his lack of interest in looking fancy for the Japanese businessman is wonderfully frustrating for Ava.

Julie loves reading and writing hot, sexy romances with awesome alpha heroes. Her favorite things are books, coffee, her perfect cat, and her husband, not necessarily in that order. She's a writing addict who is always hard at work on her next steamy romance.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Sexy as Sin (Filthy Rich #2) by Julie Kriss to read and review for this tour.

Beard Necessities by Penny Reid Blog Tour

Billy Winston’s family is going to see him happy and in love if it’s the last thing they do.

No one deserves a happily-ever-after quite as much as the second oldest Winston brother and his lady love, Claire McClure (aka Scarlet St. Claire). Cruelty and circumstance tore them apart almost twenty years ago. Secrecy and bitterness kept them separated.

But you know who's tired of their separation and stubbornness? Everyone. Especially Billy Winston’s family. And now they're going to do something about it.

Well-meaning interference means the star-crossed lovers can’t stop tripping over each other in the hills of Tuscany, the catacombs of Rome, and the waterways of Venice. Billy and Claire find themselves thrown together and at the mercy of the Winston siblings’ shenanigans.

But will their forced proximity bring them together? Or push them even further apart?

This second-chance romance brings back the entire Winston gang, playing cupid in one last story of love, hi-jinks, and family collusion.

Beard Necessities is a full-length contemporary romantic comedy, and can be read as a stand-alone, but it’s probably best read after books 0.5, 2, 3, 5, and 6 of the Winston Brothers series.

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Book 7
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Strolling to the desk, I set down the milk and cookies, crossed my arms and turned to face my brother. “You’re pointing out that Scarlet and I will see each other during various family functions.”


“And, therefore,” I continued reasonably, “I need to be nice to her.” I knew that already, and tonight—after watching her face crumple and feeling a part of my soul shrivel at the sight—I’d finally accepted it. I would be nice. I would be so damn nice. I’d be a saint.

But then Cletus said, “No, Billy. Not nice. Nice is for tea parties and doctor’s visits. You need to woo her.”

I blinked once. “Woo her.”

“That’s right. You need to woo the pants off her, hopefully literally, and then make that woman yours. Permanently. Once and for all. Put a ring on it. Woo is where it’s at. Jenn still has the centerpieces from our wedding if you’d like to borrow them.” During this enlightening monologue, he’d moseyed over and picked up the glass of milk and a cookie, dunked the cookie into the milk, and then took a bite just as he’d finished his listings of delusions.

“That’s never going to happen.”

“Why not? Those centerpieces are lovely. You don’t know your color scheme yet. Ask Scarlet before you decide.”

I ground my teeth. “Scarlet and I are never going to happen, Cletus.”

He shook his head firmly. “I’m disappointed in your lack of ambition, Billy. I thought we’d be on the same page. But I see now, I’m going to have to take a tough love approach.”


“I’m going to give you one chance,” he said, then pushed the rest of the cookie in his mouth and spoke around it as he continued, “One more chance is all you get. I’ve waited long enough for this and you know my feelings on delayed gratification.”


“It’s overrated.” He took a gulp of milk and picked up another cookie.

“No, Cletus. One chance on what?”

“I’m giving you one chance. One.” He pointed the cookie at me. “Tomorrow, you’re going to go find her, apologize to her for whatever that kerflufflefuck was I walked in on. Tell her you were suffering from temporary insanity, hopped up on illicit drugs, abducted by asshole probing aliens, whatever. I’m giving you one chance to make this right, and if you don’t take it, you are not going to like what happens next.”

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Billy and Claire’s love story started when they were just teenagers, but circumstances kept them apart. Billy and Claire’s past is an important part of the story and I like that the author is able to tell us about it without lots of long flashback scenes.

I have to say Billy Winston broke my heart. What he gave up for Claire and how much he loves her just killed me. Not far into the book, I found myself reading on my morning train commute desperately trying not to ugly cry. While I was loving Billy, I struggled to connect with Claire early on. I think it was because I was annoyed with her knowing the pain Billy had gone through for her. The further into the book I went, the more I warmed up to Claire, but Billy is definitely the hero of this romance for me.

Beard Necessities is the final instalment in the Winston Brothers series and we see plenty of the rest of the Winston clan we already know and love. Their meddling to push Billy and Claire to get their romantic act together is hilarious.

Beard Necessities was wonderful. I laughed and cried, and the epilogue wrapped up the series up beautifully.

Penny Reid is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Best Selling Author of the Winston Brothers, Knitting in the City, Rugby, and Hypothesis series. She used to spend her days writing federal grant proposals as a biomedical researcher, but now she just writes books. She’s also a full time mom to three diminutive adults, wife, daughter, knitter, crocheter, sewer, general crafter, and thought ninja.

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Awakening by JJ Harper Release Blitz

A prophecy, a True Alpha, and fated mates. Can Ascha accept that his life has changed forever?

At twenty-one, Ascha Stanton has it all: a wonderful family, great friends, a long-term girlfriend, and a promising career as an NFL star.

The appearance of three unknown men in his small town changes everything. Not only his life and future but also what he always thought himself to be: straight. Why then is he attracted to the handsome auburn-haired Thaddeus? How can Ascha hear his thoughts? And even more intriguing, what does the mark on both their chests mean?

Thaddeus explains a new path has been paved for him, one with the Wild Oak pack, who has been waiting for seventy years for the True Alpha to show himself and fulfill the prophecy.

Will Ascha accept that Thaddeus is the man he’s destined to be with, and will the rival pack accept him as their new leader?

Awakening is an MM wolf shifter book with elements of fantasy and mention of Mpreg. It includes some sexual content and is suitable for adult readers.

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Book 1
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~  Also Available with KindleUnlimited  ~

I stomp through the house, dodging my friends, and out to my truck. I slow down as I get closer. The dark-haired guy with the cold eyes I saw earlier is here, leaning against the side of the flatbed.

“Nice truck,” he says and rights himself. He’s taller than my six foot, but not by too much.

“Thanks. Do you mind moving away? I like to get going.” The guy gives me the creeps, and I remember Jared’s words. In my head, I try to reach out to Thaddeus, although I don’t why. Why would I trust him? I don’t even know if I can. “He’s here,” I tell him. I feel dumb, but it’s done. I reach for the handle of the cab.

“Hey, Ascha, you forgot your coat,” a voice behind me calls out. I look over my shoulder. Thaddeus is running toward me, holding a leather jacket I’ve never seen before. The dark-haired guy lets out a hiss and curses under his breath.

“Thanks, man.” As I take it from him, my fingers graze over his, and fireworks shoot up my arm. “Get out of here. I’ll get rid of him.

“Sure, no problem. See you around,” Thaddeus says.

I drive straight home and park in my usual spot next to Dad’s BMW. Mom’s Prius is parked closer to the house. I climb out, but instead of hurrying inside, I stand still for a minute. I’m not alone. Someone is watching me. I can’t see anything in the pitch black surrounding me, but I know it, sense it. Tiny pinpricks are piercing my skin. The clammy feeling is all over me again. I’m burning up. I stagger inside and stumble through the kitchen. I need to get to my bedroom and my bed. If I lie down, I’ll feel better.

“Ascha? Are you okay?” It’s my dad, but I can’t see him properly. My vision is cloudy.

“No, it hurts. Every-fucking-thing hurts. I’m so hot.” I pant.

My mom lays her hand on me. I pull my arm away. Her touch is soft but still painful on my burning skin. “It’s happening, Tom. Dear lord, it’s happening to Ascha. I thought it was too late, that it had passed him by. What should we do?” Her voice is laced with worry, and tears fill her eyes. I wobble past them and make it to my bedroom, where I tear my clothes off. My T-shirt weighs too much on my skin, and I rip it from my chest. My jeans are next. They are too thick, too coarse, hurting me. Then another wave of pain overwhelms me. The pressure on my chest is like a branding iron, stamping marks on my skin, so hot, so deep, but it’s coming from inside me.

What’s happening? What the fuck is happening? I cry out, but it sounds more like a howl. My throat tightens. Too much pain, too much… my legs buckle, and I collapse, landing on my hands and knees. I cry out again. “Thaddeus.”

You will normally find her in the living room—typing away—with her dogs, Maud and Siddiqi. As a hopeless romantic, JJ dives into her stories, always falling in love with her men, making sure they get the happy ever after they deserve, even if they do have to work hard for it.

As a bona fide bookaholic, coffee-addicted, wine-drinking and swear-like-a-sailor type of girl, she has yet to work out how to act her age!! LOL. And she has no intentions of growing up or growing old gracefully.

JJ lives in a small, very quiet, village in Lincolnshire, UK, with her husband and dogs, and spends all day dreaming up stories full of really hot men.

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