Evernight by Kristen Callihan

Evernight Blog Tour: Q&A with author Kristen Callihan (+ GIVEAWAY)

Evernight by Kristen Callihan Blog Tour

Title: EVERNIGHT
Author: Kristen Callihan
Series: DARKEST LONDON (#5)

  • Firelight (#1)
  • Moonglow (#2)
  • Winterblaze (#3)
  • Shadowdance (#4)

Publisher: Forever (Grand Central Publishing)
Release Date: AUGUST 26, 2014!
Where to Buy EVERNIGHT:
IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Kobo | iTunes | GooglePlay | Amazon

About EVERNIGHT:

Evernight by Kristen CallihanOnce the night comes . . . 
Will Thorne is living a nightmare, his sanity slowly being drained away by a force he can’t control. His talents have made him the perfect assassin for hire. But as he loses his grip on reality, there is no calming him-until he finds his next target: the mysterious Holly Evernight.
Love must cast aside the shadows
Holly cannot fathom who would put a contract on her life, yet the moment she touches Will, the connection between them is elemental, undeniable-and she’s the only one who can tame his bouts of madness. But other assassins are coming for Holly. Will must transform from killer to protector and find the man who wants Holly dead . . . or his only chance for redemption will be lost.

 My Thoughts:

I have been a HUGE fan of author Kristen Callihan’s DARKEST LONDON series since I first read the series prequel novella, EMBER.  From there, I have eagerly devoured each of her books.  Diana Gabaldon was right when she said: “Callihan has a great talent for sexual tension and Jaw-dropping plots that weave together brilliantly in the end.”  Her talented storytelling draws you in with a perfect combination of compelling characters and creative plotting, with more than a little steam.  Be sure to check out the Giveaway detailed below for your chance to win some of these amazing books!

I was thrilled to have the opportunity to ask Ms. Callihan some questions about her series and its latest installment, EVERNIGHT

Q&A with Kristen Callihan:

What inspired you to create the imaginative and magical world of your Darkest London series? 

Victorian London was my inspiration. All those narrow lanes, flickering gas lamps, and fog shrouded courts were perfect fodder. I was also inspired by those who came before me. Comic like the X-Men, gas lamp tales such as Dracula, Dorian Grey, Jekyll and Hyde, and many more helped forge my imagination.

If you could choose one of the supernatural abilities possessed by one of your characters, which one would you want, and why?

Hmm….probably Jack Talent’s shape-shifting ability. It would get me into a lot of places. ;-)

If you were transported into a novel, would you prefer it to be a historical novel or a paranormal one?

Paranormal, definitely. If I’m going to be forced to live with corsets and poor medical care, I’d like to be a strong immortal, please.

Imagine Will Thorne had a Twitter account, how would he describe the events of ‘Evernight’ in 140 characters or less?

Homicidal yet irresistible charmer meets irritating yet lovely inventor. She captures his heart; he turns her into a wanton, lusty wench.*

*For some reason, my wife takes umbrage with this description, and offers this alternate ending: She teaches him to trust; He teaches her about joy (Fine, this is true as well, but I like my version better.)

About Author Kristen Callihan:

Author Kristen CallihanKristen Callihan is a child of the eighties, which means she’s worn neon skirts, black lace gloves, and combat boots (although never all at once) and can quote John Hughes movies with the best of them. A lifelong daydreamer, she finally realized that the characters in her head needed a proper home and thus hit the keyboard. She believes that falling in love is one of the headiest experiences a person can have, so naturally she writes romance. Her love of superheroes, action movies, and history led her to write historical paranormals. She lives in the Washington, D.C., area and, when not writing, looks after two children, one husband, and a dog-the fish can fend for themselves.

Connect with Kristen’s Social Media:

www.KristenCallihan.com | http://facebook.com/KristenCallihan | Twitter: @Kris10Callihan

GIVEAWAY INFO:

Click on Giveawy Kitty to enter the Giveaway hosted on Rafflecopter for your chance to win:

Giveaway!

  • (5) winners will receive the entire DARKEST LONDON series, including EVERNIGHT!
  • (10) winners will receive a print copt of EVERNIGHT

While you wait to see if you’ve won, enjoy this delicious (potentially NSFW, but oh so yummy) excerpt from EVERNIGHT; it’s so good you might not want to wait!

Excerpt from EVERNIGHT: .

Cool, hard, smooth, hot. The texture of his skin was unlike anything she’d ever felt. The metal made it smooth and cool and hard. Where not altered by metal, his skin was like hot satin, only silkier and tight with strength.

His flesh twitched beneath her palms as she mapped his chest. Every breath he took sounded loud and clear in her ears. And all the while, he watched her.

A quiver rippled along the backs of her thighs, up over her bottom, and crawled along her spine. Damn it, she was better than this. She was not a creature of base desires, but of logic and restraint. Her breath moved in and out, a slow, steady rhythm as she stroked him.

Neither of them spoke. The crackle of the fire in the grate, along with the occasional creak of the house settling, surrounded them. Beneath heavy lids, Thorne tracked her every move. And her touch grew unsteady. A momentary weakness he jumped upon.

“Does it feel good to you?” he drawled, low and easy. “Touching me?”

Instantly, the space between her legs clenched tight. Holly kept her touch impersonal. She could not live with the ignominy of revealing her wants to Thorne, who would treat her weakness as a bloody good joke. “It is a task. Just like any other.” A bald-faced lie if ever she told one.

His nostrils flared, the platinum in his eyes shining bright. “Then why do I smell your cunny growing wet with need?”

Holly stopped, her palm flat against his pectoral muscle, as more slick heat flooded her sex. Oh, this was beyond the pale. What on earth had gotten into the blasted demon? “Being crude is not going to get a rise out of me, Mr. Thorne.”

A small, cruel smile curled his lips. “Not going to deny it, are you, Miss Evernight?”

“Blather.” She took up stroking an area tangled with platinum webbing with more force than necessary. “That is all you’re about. Ridiculous blather. And I will not engage in such nonsense.”

Holly concentrated on pulling the metal from him. Not on his scent, clean and pleasing in the space between them. Or the way his skin grew increasingly warmer.

When he spoke again, it was soft, teasing. “Do you know that when I said “cunny” your sweet scent grew stronger?”

Again she stopped. His dense muscles tightened beneath her nails. “Mr. Thorne—”

“Do you wonder,” he whispered, holding her gaze with his, “if my cock is affected?” A dark brow lifted, his fangs glinting. “If it is more metal than flesh? Hard for you?”

She would not look down at the appendage in question. It was difficult enough to pretend each time that she wasn’t aware of that part of him, or that she hadn’t seen it grow and lengthen beneath the covers. Oh, she knew precisely how long and thick he was, and precisely how aroused. Each and every time.

His gaze upon her burned. “Do you want to see my cock, Miss Evernight? Feel it move inside of you?”

Gods, he made her feel empty, made her want to be filled up. Her hands turned to fists. “Stop it. Now, Mr. Thorne.”

He rose up on his elbows, his white hair sliding over his broad and dusky shoulders, his defined abdomen tightening. “Or. What?”

Holly sat back on the stool by the table, placing her hands upon her lap so that he wouldn’t see them trembling. “Why are you doing this?”

“Why not?”

She could not look away from the black and platinum starburst of his gaze, so very brilliant. So very angry and taunting. Her nails dug into her palms. “Find your amusement elsewhere.”

His lean hips canted just a bit, an utterly crude gesture that held her in thrall. “I’d rather find it with you.”

“I’m helping you, aren’t I?” She hated how the words came out in a near-desperate pitch. But he had to stop. Agitation had her breath coming on hard and fast, pressing her now-heavy breasts against her too-tight bodice.

“Helping me,” he scoffed. “Do not skew this into some act of kindness. You do so that I won’t kill you.”

“Is it kindness that you want?” She laughed without humor. “A funny way you go about getting it.” She leaned forward in her anger. “Why are you saying these things? Truly? Why are you acting like such a… disgusting arse?”

He shot upright, his chest bumping into hers before she backed away a pace as if seared. “Because you never react during these torture sessions,” he ground out. “Because I want that rise out of you. I want you to…” He bared his teeth, those evil-looking fangs growing longer. “I want to know if you feel—”

His teeth ground together, his eyes wild and silver-black.

“Feel?” she prompted as if her heart wasn’t beating madly.

“Anything!” he roared. “Jesus.” He ran a hand through his hair. “You touch me every day. You rub your hands all over me. And nothing! Not a flicker of emotion. As if I didn’t exist.” The expanse of his chest heaved with exertion, the sinewy muscles along his abdomen clenching. “And all the while I’m lying here aching, fucking dying to… You’re driving me to insanity,” he finished with a wild shout. “And it means exactly nothing to you—”

She grabbed hold of the back of his neck and kissed him. Just as she’d wanted to, her lips claiming his parted ones, shutting off the stream of words that flowed from him. His lips were soft and warm, and touching them set off a rush of lust that coursed along her limbs. He froze, going so tense that his neck felt like ice. For all of one second. And then he attacked. His hands plunged into her hair and gripped the sides of her head as he fell back, hauling her with him, devouring her with quick, biting kisses, punctuated by helpless groans.

Breathless and dizzy, she answered every kiss, opening her mouth when his mouth demanded it. They both shivered when their tongues slid together.

“Hell,” he moaned, licking along her bottom lip. “Hell, I knew you’d taste so bloody good.” He angled his head, plunging his tongue in deep as his hands held her captive. The gesture wicked and decadent. Grunting, he spun them, pressing her into the table with the strength of his body. His thigh nudged between hers, and her skirts slid up. Instantly, his hand was there, long fingers trailing along her skin. “I’m not stopping,” he growled into her mouth. “So don’t ask me to.”

Holly tore her lips from his and grabbed a handful of silken hair. She held him fast and hard. “You’ll stop if I say so.”

Thorne paused, his lips brushing hers as he breathed heavily through his mouth. Hot, black eyes bore into her. “Are you asking me to stop?” He was so still and careful that she knew he would, despite his claim.

A fire raged through her veins. And the need to suckle his curved lower lip had her voice turning rough. “No.”

Blog Tour: What a Duke Dares by Anna Campbell (Review and Giveaway!)

What a Duke Dares Blog Tour

Title: WHAT A DUKE DARES
Author: Anna Campbell
Publisher: Forever Romance (Grand Central Publishing)
Release Date: August 26, 2014
Where to Purchase WHAT A DUKE DARES:

Amazon | B&N | BAM! | iBooks |Goodreads

My Rating:

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Summary:

What a Duke Dares by Anna CampbellWhat woman in her right mind would say no to marrying the dashing Duke of Sedgemoor? Miss Penelope Thorne, that’s who. She’s known Camden Rothermere since they were children-and she also knows she’d bring nothing but scandal to his name.

Cam can hardly believe Penelope turned down his proposal. But if she wants to run off to the Continent and set the rumor mill ablaze, he can’t stop her. Then her brother’s dying request sends him to bring home the one woman he thought he’d finally gotten over.

The only way they’ll both get back to London without their reputations in tatters is to pretend they’re married during the journey. That means kissing like they mean it and even sharing a bed-until it becomes hard to tell where the game ends and true desire begins . . .

 

My Thoughts:

Camden Rothermere, Duke of Sedgemoor, fell victim to the old adage “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.” Thank goodness he did, otherwise I would have had to open a magic portal to Fictionland and forcibly remove the stick lodged in his backside.  Marred by his parents’ scandals, Cam grew up eschewing  the idea of love.  Cam thought he wanted a biddable, quiet wife who would conform to society’s ideal of a proper duchess.  As a young man, he proposed to Penelope Thorne, the outgoing and vivacious sister of his good friend.  Despite their differences, Cam and Pen were actually close friends and that relationship prompted his proposal with the  intention of molding her into his model wife.  Pen wanted love and she knew Cam would not be able to return her sentiments.  She refused his proposal and fled to the Continent to heal from her heartache.

Without revealing too much of the well-paced and intriguing plot, let’s just say circumstances eventually forced Cam and Pen to marry.  The author does a wonderful job with the inner turmoil Pen conceals as she faces a future tied to the man she loves, whom she believes will never love her back.  The courage and strength of Penelope, both in action and emotion, was one of the most compelling parts of this novel for me.  After a disastrous wedding night (Kudos to Ms. Campbell for that!), Penelope decides to conform to Cam’s ideal and suppresses her natural lively personality.  Cam quickly realizes a quiet, biddable Penelope is NOT what he wants.

A secondary romance and scandal force Cam and Pen to face the problems in their own marriage and Cam’s emotional break through is touching and realistic.  WHAT A DUKE DARES has some deliciously steamy and evocative moments; the extra layers of emotion add depth and gravity to this captivating read.

WHAT A DUKE DARES Giveaway Info:

Giveaway!

Enter the Giveaway hosted on Rafflecopter for your chance to win one of five copies of WHAT A DUKE DARES.

About Author Anna Campbell:

Credit: Robyn Hills www.robyngraphs.com.au

Credit: Robyn Hills http://www.robyngraphs.com.au

Always a voracious reader, ANNA CAMPBELL decided when she was a child that she wanted to be a writer. Once she discovered the wonderful world of romance novels, she knew exactly what she wanted to write. Anna has won numerous awards for her Avon historical romances including Romantic TimesReviewers Choice, the Booksellers Best, the Golden Quill, the Heart of Excellence, the Aspen Gold and the Australian Romance Readers Association’s most popular historical romance (twice). Her books have twice been nominated for Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA Award and twice for Australia’s Romantic Book of the Year.

 

When she’s not writing passionate, intense stories featuring gorgeous Regency heroes and the women who are their destiny, Anna loves to travel, especially in the United Kingdom, and listen to all kinds of music. She lives near the sea on the east coast of Australia, where she’s losing her battle with an overgrown subtropical garden.

Connect with Anna’s Social Media:

Facebook | Twitter | Website

 

Blog Tour: Mastering the Marquess by Lavinia Kent (+ Giveaway)

 

Mastering the Marqu#1889EA2

 ** I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review **

Title: MASTERING THE MARQUESS
Author:  Lavinia Kent
Publisher: Loveswept
Release Date: July 29, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-553-39416-0
Find MASTERING THE MARQUESS on Goodreads
Where to purchase MASTERING THE MARQUESS:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Google Play | Kobo | Other retailers

My Rating:

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Summary:

Mastering the Marquess[1]One night of fierce passion and unbound pleasure leaves two strangers craving much more in Lavinia Kent’s sumptuous novel of sensual discovery.

The time has come for the widow Louisa, Lady Brookingston, to move on, but she refuses to remarry at the cost of shaming her late husband’s memory. Their six years together were wedded bliss—even if a war injury prevented him from fulfilling his marital duties. Only one woman can help Louisa: Madame Rouge, the discreet proprietress of a club where London’s elite explore their wildest fantasies.

Geoffrey, the Marquess of Swanston, has no intention of agreeing to deflower an anonymous virgin. But when Madame Rouge tempts him with the absolute power he’ll have over a woman who knows nothing of carnal delights, he’s intrigued. Control is the one thing he cannot resist—and control is what he loses during his night with the blindfolded beauty. He longs to take her further, to leave his mark upon her perfect behind, but the mystery woman refuses to see him again. Instead Geoffrey reluctantly agrees to take a wife, the widow of his dear friend, Lord Brookingston—fating them both to a wicked surprise.

Mastering the Marquess is an erotic romance intended for mature audiences.

My Thoughts:

I have to confess, I have a weakness for steamer historical romance novel (aka erotic romance).  When reading a contemporary romance I expect the female protagonist to own her sexuality, even the virgin heroines.  Living in the age of Cosmo magazine, most modern women have no excuse to be ignorant of sexual norms and practices.  Obviously there are exceptions to this idea, but for the most part the average woman today has a knowledge of her own body, not to mention that of a man.  In most historical romances this is not the case.  In the past women were not educated about sexual activities and were shamed should they be deemed overtly sensual.  An erotic historical romance, when done right, turns on the rather taboo idea that women are sexual creatures into a basis for sexual exploration and makes for a compelling read.  And Lavinia Kent does it right in MASTERING THE MARQUESS.

The dichotomy between accepted social mores and the reality of private desires serves as the foundation for the relationship between the male and female leads of MASTERING THE MARQUESS.  Most people think they know Geoffrey, the Marquess of Swanston.  To society and his family he is seen as the epitome of the perfect English gentleman (perhaps even a bit too perfect).  There are few who know that behind closed doors Geoffrey’s controlled personality leads him to desire asserting all manner of control over his willing bedmates (light bondage, some spanking, etc.).  Unfortunately for his new wife, he believes that there are limitations to the methods for making love to a “lady” and he ends up denying his true self and alienating her in the process.

Lousia, the virgin widow, sought one night of sexual congress to avoid any embarrassment over her late husband’s failings.  She was rewarded with a sexual awakening and unexpectedly wicked  education.  Now ready to marry again, Louisa is trapped by society’s notion of how a “proper” wife should act and allows her burgeoning sensuality to be repressed – for a while. ;)  I think a great part of this book is Lousia’s refusal to NOT be satisfied and to assert herself in order to have the type of relationship she and her husband deserved and desired.  Needless to say, they were both pleasantly surprised.

Of course, most of the troubles faced by Geoffrey and Louisa could have could have been resolved by open and honest communication, something rare in the age marriages of convenience.  I wondered before reading the book how the whole ‘mystery lover’ scenario would play out, but it was handled believably.  Interesting secondary characters added flavor and conflict to round out an enjoyable read.

 

MASTERING THE MARQUESS GIVEAWAY INFO:

Giveaway!

Enter for your chance to win the Grand Prize of a $25 e-giftcard to your e-book retailer of choice, along with a Loveswept mug by clicking here!

About author Lavinia Kent:

Lavinia Kent - Author PhotoLavinia Kent is a former two-term president of the Washington Romance Writers and a four-time Romance Writers of America Golden Heart nominee. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her family and an ever-changing menagerie of pets.

Connect with Lavinia’s Social Media:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

 

Connect with Loveswept:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Book Review: WHAT A LADY CRAVES by Ashlyn Macnamara, Blog Tour and Giveaway

 WHAT A LADY CRAVES_Blog Tour Art

** I received an e-ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review**

Title: WHAT A LADY CRAVES
Author: Ashlyn Macnamara
Publisher: Loveswept
Release Date: August 19, 2014
Find WHAT A LADY CRAVES on Goodreads
Where to purchase WHAT A LADY CRAVES:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Google Play | Kobo | Other retailers

My Rating:
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Summary:

What a Lady CravesAshlyn Macnamara weaves a delicious tale of two souls torn apart by circumstance and reunited by fate—perfect for fans of Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Sabrina Jeffries.

Henrietta Upperton is about to marry Alexander Sanford when he rushes off to India to salvage his family’s fortune. Then comes the devastating news that he has wed another. Eight agonizing years later, a storm washes Alexander ashore—injured, widowed, and hunted—and one glimpse of his ruggedly handsome face reawakens the desire Henrietta thought she had buried deep inside. Her body still yearns for his touch, but she’s determined not let him wound her again . . . not this time.

For Alexander, honor always comes first. But only now does he realize that when given the choice between two virtuous deeds, he picked the wrong one. On the run with his life in tatters and a pair of daughters in tow, Alexander burns for Henrietta. He knows he does not deserve forgiveness. And yet he longs to wrap his arms around her warm body once again. What’s more, he is sure the lady craves the same.

My Thoughts: 

There’s a reason I’m not usually a fan of second chance romances: if someone is seeking a second chance, it means they screwed up the relationship the first time. And man oh man, did Alexander Sanford screw up his relationship with Henrietta Upperton.  I know the man was in an unenviable position and his honor commanded his actions, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t ticked off and slow to warm to him.  Luckily in the talented hands of an author of Ashlyn Macnamara’s calibre, I was able to forgive him, understand him, and root for him to win Henrietta.  I enjoyed the evolution of his character as he realized the depth of the consequences of his actions.

Henrietta Upperton is a wonderfully drawn strong female lead.  Heartbroken over her betrothed’s defection, she shrouds herself in her pride and strives to make a life for herself, on her own terms.  Any woman who mentally practices her foul language while attacking her embroidery, is a character I’ll have an instant affinity for.  She makes Alexander work for her regard and refuses to be devalued.  She didn’t want a future built on his need to satisfy his honor or fill the position of mother for his children.  I actually cheered out loud during one confrontation with her former love:

Do not make any sort of promises unless you mean them, unless you want me for myself, and nothing less.

Yes!  I loved the dynamic the author created and the fact Henrietta wasn’t some fluttering Miss pining for her lost love.  Don’t get me wrong, she loved Alexander with her whole heart, she just loved herself as well.  It was wonderful to see them work toward rebuilding their relationship, with communication and honesty (eventually!).

There’s a subplot regarding fiends searching for a mysterious treasure among the ruins of Alexander’s shipwreck, leading to some action sequences that helped drive the plot.  The real strength of this novel is in its characters and their relationships with one another.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t recognize the irascible Lady Epperley, Alexander’s aunt and Henrietta’s employer, a woman who would try the patience of a saint.  Her antics and attitude were wickedly delightful and added to the overall enjoyment of this book.

The powerful connection between the lead characters and the deft writing of Ashlyn Macnamara made me glad these characters got a second chance at love.

WHAT A LADY CRAVES GIVEAWAY INFO:

Giveaway!

Enter for your chance to win the Grand Prize of a $25 e-giftcard to your e-book retailer of choice, along with a Loveswept mug and tote by clicking here!

About author Ashlyn Macnamara
Ashlyn MacnamaraAshlyn Macnamara is the author of A Most Scandalous Proposal. She lives in the wilds of suburbia outside of Montreal with her husband and two teenage daughters. When not writing, she looks for other excuses to neglect the housework, among them knitting, reading, and wasting time on the Internet in the guise of doing research.

Connect with Ashlyn
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Connect with Loveswept
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Launch Day Blitz: UNSTOPPABLE by Shannon Richard with Giveaway

Unstoppable-Launch-Day-Blitz

Author Shannon Richard returns to Mirabelle, Florida for the third installment of her Country Roads series with the sweet and emotional UNSTOPPABLE, available today in print and e-book.

About UNSTOPPABLE

Richard_Unstoppable_MMSome things you don’t dare let go . . .
Melanie O’Bryan knows life is too short to be afraid of taking chances. And former Air Force sergeant Bennett Hart is certainly worth taking a chance on. He’s agreed to help her students with a school project, but she’s hoping the handsome handyman will offer her a whole lot more. Yet despite his heated glances and teasing touches, Mel senses there’s something holding him back . . . Bennett Hart is grateful to be alive and back home in Mirabelle, Florida. Peaceful and uncomplicated-that’s all he’s looking for. Until a spunky, sexy-as-hell teacher turns his life upside down. After one smoldering kiss, Bennett feels like he’s falling without a parachute. But with memories of his past threatening to resurface, he’ll have to decide whether to keep playing it safe, or take the biggest risk of all.

 

About Shannon Richard

Author Shannon RichardShannon Richard grew up in the Florida Panhandle as the baby sister of two overly protective but loving brothers. She was raised by a more than somewhat eccentric mother, a self-proclaimed vocabularist who showed her how to get lost in a book and a father who passed on his love for coffee and really loud music. She graduated from Florida State University with a BA in English Literature and still lives in Tallahassee where she battles everyday life with writing, reading, and a rant every once in a while. Okay, so the rants might happen on a regular basis. She’s still waiting for her Southern, scruffy, Mr. Darcy, and in the meantime writes love stories to indulge her overactive imagination. Oh, and she’s a pretty big fan of the whimsy.

Connect with Shannon’s social media:

Website  ||  Facebook  ||  Twitter: @shan_richard

GIVEAWAY:

Giveaway!

Click here (or on Giveaway Kitty) to enter the Giveaway hosted on Rafflecopter for a chance to win:

  • (1) One Grand Prize winner will win a Summertime Forever tote filled with the Country Roads series and a pair of sunglasses
  • (10) Ten winners will win a print copy of UNSTOPPABLE

Where you can buy UNSTOPPABLE

B&N  ||  BAM  ||  IndieBound  ||  Amazon

Read an excerpt of UNSTOPPABLE (featuring Melanie and Bennett’s first kiss!):

Oh God, who was she kidding? She’d never felt this way about any man before. Bennett was…well, infuriating to start with, but he was brave, smart, kind, funny, intense. There was nothing like having his full attention focused on her. He gave her way more than butterflies. It was like eagles were flapping around in her stomach whenever he was around. There were no flutters. They were freaking tidal waves.

Yeah, getting over Bennett was going to be way easier said than done.

Mel headed toward the supply closet at the back of her classroom where she locked up her purse in a filling cabinet. She grabbed the key and unlocked the top drawer, pulled out her purse, and slammed the drawer shut. When she turned around Bennett was standing in the doorway. Filling it completely. Mel stopped short and stared at him. His eyes were focused on her, the determination in them making all of the thoughts vacate her brain.

“I can’t leave you alone.” He came into the room and shut the door behind him. “And I’m not playing games.” He crossed the small space. “Or at least I’m not trying to.” He shook his head. “I think about you all the time.” He stopped in front of her, took the purse out of her hands, and put it on top of the filing cabinet. Then he reached up and touched her cheek. His fingers fanned out as he pushed his hand to the back of her head and tilted her face up.

Holy hell, what is happening?

She looked into his eyes, and her knees went just a little bit weak. She reached back and planted her hands against the wall, trying to find some balance, something to keep her upright, because she really didn’t want to miss this.

“Because I am interested in you, Mel.” He cupped her face with his other hand and ran his thumb across her lower lip. “Very interested.” He leaned forward and pressed his mouth to hers.

The kiss was soft and gentle at first, just his lips against hers. He took another step into her, pushing her back. When she hit the wall she gasped, and Bennett took advantage of her open mouth. He sucked her bottom lip into his mouth, and she couldn’t stop the moan that escaped her throat.

She plastered herself up against him, against every inch of his hard body. Her arms wound around his shoulders; her hands skittered up the back of his head. She opened her mouth further and his tongue touched hers. Bennett groaned as their tongues began a thorough exploration of each other’s mouths.

His hands were at the back of her head, his fingers deftly pulling out the pins that held up her bun. And then he was unwinding her hair, his hands plunging deep into her unruly curls.

“I’ve wanted to do this for so long,” he said against her mouth. “These curls of yours drive me out of my mind.”

“What stopped you?” She nipped at his lower lip.

“Pure stupidity,” he said, as he claimed her mouth again.

Holy cow, can this man kiss. I feel it everywhere, and do I mean everywhere! He had her toes curling in her shoes, all manner of body parts tingling where they were pushed up against his, and his hands were magic in her hair. One of his hands drifted down to her side. He touched her hip for a second before his hand slid to the small of her back. He held her to him, but really, she wasn’t going anywhere.

“Mel,” a voice called out from her classroom. “Are you here?”

There were only a few things that could bring Mel back to reality with the snap of a finger. The sound of her little brother’s voice was definitely one of them.

“Oh crap, it’s Hamilton,” Mel gasped, pulling back. Bennett’s hand was behind her head, and it prevented her from hitting the wall. “I’ll be right out!” she answered Hamilton, unable to completely cover up the breathy edge to her voice.

Bennett nodded. He let go of her reluctantly, and took a step back. “You’re going to have to give me a minute before I can go out there,” he said, clearing his throat uncomfortably.

“Oh,” she said, nodding. “Um, okay.”

Actually, she was going to need a minute, too. She knew her hair was everywhere, and she had a feeling Bennett’s scruffy jaw had left its fair share of marks on her face. Not to mention her thoroughly swollen lips.

Soooo worth it.