When Opposites Collide by HJ Bellus & Kathy Coopmans

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USA Today Best Selling Authors HJ Bellus and Kathy Coopmans team up to bring you the darker side of romance that occurs When Opposites Collide.
Releasing April 4th in a complete box set!


Includes The Hitchhiker, Blank Canvas, and Brick!

GOODREADS: http://bit.ly/WOCtbr

“You can run, but can you hide?”
Life was perfect.
I was on top of the world winning one case after the other leaving no survivors in the wake of my devastation. They may see a pair of long legs in Louboutin heels, but remember my name when I’m finished with them.
Caitlin Winslow, the best, cut-throat defense lawyer in California.
I never play to lose.
It’s not in my DNA.
The actions of ethics don’t exist in my domain.
Satan, my father, who shaped my life turns up dead. Kill shot to the back of the head in his sleep. The people who murdered him aren’t stopping with his death. They’re after me.
I ran in the dark of night. Karma that evil bitch meets me step by step and forced me to stick out my thumb on the side of the lonely highway. I’m now the HITCHHIKER begging for redemption.
Oh, how life has a funny way of smacking you in the face.
Katch Sterling storms into my life, and now I’m in his car.
My complete opposite.
Who would’ve thought my world would come full circle on that lonely highway with a hired killer…
I loved to draw and paint, throwing those spectacular colors across a blank canvas and turning it into something unique. Young, carefree, with the world in the palm of my hands. The options limitless.
My world ended the night the door creaked open. It was their first of many visits. Life as I knew it went blank. It became a survival game and counting my only solace to get through the pain.
It all became too much. I ran into the darkness of the night. That blank canvas long forgotten and incomplete. The ways of the streets became my new home. Drugs and sex my new survival. Until one night, it all went too far.
I was happy to know the pain would finally end; welcomed being murdered in a lonely alley. All of the weight on my shoulders and vicious memories would be long forgotten once I took my final breath.
Life hates me, and I didn’t die. A second chance was handed to me, but what happens when I don’t want it?
This time, I have the chance to make my own art.
One person’s Blank Canvas is another’s Graffiti.
My Sin. Her Redemption.
I’m the man your momma warns you about. The one you never want to meet in a dark alley.
I fight and protect me, mine, and my own. Take a bullet for anyone I love. No damn job is too gruesome for me. And I’m the most loyal motherf*cker you’ll ever encounter.
I live on the wrong side of the law, and I’m damn proud of it. It’s rooted deep in my soul, stems from the scars of my past.
A pool of blood, a lifeless woman, and a missing child lead me into chaos, smack dab in the middle of it.
To protect what’s mine. Life has never had perfect timing. My sins and her redemptions are about to collide, leaving me changed forever.
BoxedSet_AmazonWhen opposites collide boxset







Break Down by Rebecca Norinne

Title: Break Down
Series: Dublin Rugby #4
Author: Rebecca Norrine
Genre: M/M Sports Romance
Release Date: February 21, 2018

He knows his place on the pitch, but in life, it’s a whole other game.All his life, Liam Donnelly looked and wondered. Could he? Would he? And then, finally, he did. But when he sampled a taste of that forbidden fruit, his whole world came crashing down, his position with Dublin Rugby right along with it. When the chance to ply his trade in Edinburgh comes along, Liam jumps at the offer, knowing it could be his best opportunity to start fresh and get back to the man he once was. But one look at Chef Lachlan MacLeod — his knowing, whisky-colored eyes, the abrasive scruff dotting his jaw, and the colorful ink lining his forearms —and Liam’s wondering all over again. Can he? Will he? His heart says no, but his body says yes.

He’s conquered his own demons; can he help another man do the same?

Out and proud Chef Lachlan MacLeod has no problem with who he is, except he has a history of hooking up with bi-curious straight men. He’s vowed never to go down that path again, but when Liam Donnelly shows up in his restaurant, his eyes filled with heat and secret longing, Lachlan can’t help himself. He knows the closeted rugby player is a terrible idea, but the man calls to him in a way no one ever has before. What started as a safe way for Liam to explore his sexuality quickly morphs into something much deeper, and now Lachlan wants more. But can his heart reconcile what his head already knows-that loving the gorgeous, broken athlete might actually mean letting him go?


I absolutely adored Liam and Lachlan’s journey. It was sweet, smexy, frustrating and real and I savored each step forward and back that these men took in order to find their HEA. – Books-n-Wine

What do you get when you take a hot rugby star who is sexually confused and add in a sexy, chef who knows what he wants? An excellent read! – Que Sara Sera Book Blog

From start to finished i devoured this read and couldn’t put it down till i had. I was drawn in and captivated with Liam and Lachlan’s story. – Millsy Loves Books

Break Down was everything and more; all of Rebecca Norinne’s words are so beautifully and tastefully written you will not be disappointed with this book. – Scandalous Book Blog

Wow this book! I am having a hard time putting into words how I feel. I absolutely loved this book. This is one of the best M/M romances I have read in a while. – Laid Back Book Bitches

Holy amazing story Batman! This is the first story by this author that I have read. I’m a automatic one clicker for her now. WOW. – The Heathers Blog

This M/M read is beautifully written. The characters being both sexy & rough, yet emotional & vulnerable. – Dani’s Book Review Blog



Sign up for Rebecca’s newsletter for a chance to win the FULL SERIES >


No amount of logic or reason could prevent me from stepping between Liam’s thighs and fisting his blond hair between my fingers. No amount of caution or doubt would keep me from tugging his head back. And when he gasped—his mouth parting in surprise—no amount of uncertainty would keep me from crushing my lips to his, from my teeth nipping at the sensual curve of his full, bottom lip. Nothing, and no one, would keep me from devouring the mouth I’d dreamed about for weeks, from licking my way inside, from tangling my tongue with his until he weaved his fingers through my hair and moaned, the sound moving from his chest, through his mouth, and into mine.


USA TODAY bestselling Rebecca Norinne writes steamy contemporary romance featuring smart and sexy heroines and the men who adore them. When not writing, Rebecca is watching rugby, drinking craft beer, or traveling the globe in search of inspiration for her next story. Find out more at http://www.rebeccanorinne.com



The Happy Endings Collection Box Set by L. Wilder

Collection Title: The Happy Endings Collection
Titles: My Temptation ~ Bring The Heat ~ His Promise
Author: L. Wilder
Genre: RomCom
Release Date: February 20, 2018


After one too many disappointments in and out of the bedroom, I’d all but given up on men. While I was doubtful that therapy would change anything, I had to try something.

As soon as I walked into Dr. Seth Michaels’ office, temptation set in. With his piercing green eyes and devilish smile, the handsome doctor was every woman’s fantasy, including mine.

He tempted me in ways that I never dreamed possible, but some lines just can’t be crossed. With a newfound libido, I left his office thinking I would never see him again, but fate and a meddling mother had other plans.


Tucker Michaels could bring the heat, striking out anyone who stepped up to the plate, and he was burning up the big leagues.

At least, that’s what I was told.

I had no idea who Tucker Michaels was, and I honestly didn’t care. From the moment I met him, I thought he was an arrogant, smart-mouthed jerk.

I’ll admit he was hot—if you’re into those gorgeous, athletic types, but there was no mistaking the way he looked at me, like I was about to be his next grand slam. 

Unfortunately for him, he was about to be the one to strike out. I had no interest in playing games, especially when he was helping my little brother’s baseball team. 

… But after a week from hell and one too many drinks, I was starting to see another side of the sexy, charismatic player.


After the devastating loss of my wife and daughter, I did everything in my power to guard my heart, making everyone, including myself, believe I no longer had one. I focused on my work and kept everyone at a distance. It was the only way I could face the day. 

I had no time for distractions, but the day Langley, my legal assistant, asked for help with her custody battle there was no way I could refuse. When I was at my worst, she was there to pick up the pieces, making sure I didn’t lose the only thing I had left—my career.

Now, it was my turn to ensure she didn’t lose the one thing she cared about most—her children. 

I promised to help, but I had no way of knowing that one promise would turn my entire world upside down. With the help of her two kids, she chiseled away at the walls I’d worked so hard to build, and I found myself wanting the one thing I thought was out of my reach—another chance at love.
Leslie Wilder grew up in a small town in West Tennessee. A country girl at heart, she’s always thought that life is too short, but she had no idea how short it really was until her brother passed away in 2014. She’s always been an avid reader, loving the escape only a great book can give, and wondered if she had what it took to write one of the wild romances she’d come to adore. With the support of her family and friends, she published Inferno: A Devil Chaser’s MC, one year after her brother’s death. With him in mind, she fulfilled her lifetime dream of writing. Since then, she’s completed the Devil Chaser’s Series and continued on with the Satan’s Fury MC Series. She has so many stories in her head, and can’t wait to share each and every one.
Leslie has been blown away by the support of her readers, appreciating every message, review, and encouraging word she’s received over the past year. She looks forward to continuing this journey with them for years to come.



ROAMER by Janine Infante Bosco ****SALE ALERT****

✮ ✮ ✮ SALE ALERT! ✮ ✮ ✮

The third book #Roamer in the Nomad Series is on sale just 99¢ for a limited time only!

Grab your copy today!

#RideorDieLove #BonnieandClyde #Roamer

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= Blurb =


I’ve lived two lives.
One full of innocence and one full of sin.
I mourned the perfect life I was born into and made it my duty to chase the phantom who stole it from me.
Revenge, mayhem and loss are all I know.
I am the lone man—I am the wanderer.
The former nomad—now, Satan’s deadliest soldier.
The two worlds were never supposed to collide. Innocence and sin aren’t made to coexist yet somehow my past bleeds into the present and I find myself facing my biggest regret…I find myself face to face with her—the girl who got away.
The girl I let go.
The woman I’ll ruin if I stay.


Our young love was marred by violence.
Our guilt destroyed us, fate tempted us but, it was he who broke us.
They say time heals all, but all time did was dull the ache of his abandonment.
Now, dressed in leather, covered in ink the boy I mourned is now a man—a man tormented by his demons.
In another life we were everything to one another.
In this life we’re strangers.

***NOTE: Contains explicit sexual situations, violence, sensitive subjects, offensive language, and mature topics. Recommended for age 18 years and up. ***

= Excerpt =

Red lipstick at Target – Copyright 2017 Janine Infante Bosco
POV – Deuce

There are two fucking things I despise in this world. The first is admitting when I’m wrong and the second is shopping. I really fucking hate shopping. So tell me, why the fuck am I pushing a red wagon into Target? Better yet, tell me why this was my idea? Actually, I’ll give you a gold star if you can explain why I’m not bothered by it so much either?
“I thought you said we were getting food,” Ally says as we step inside a shopaholic’s mothership.
Yeah, so did I.
That was the fucking plan.
I should probably stop planning anything considering none of them seem to go accordingly. Making a note of it, I try to place where I went wrong. Sitting in my room and staring at the wall that separated Ally and I was probably it. I thought putting her in Cobra’s room was a no-brainer. She had her own space, and I had mine. There was a connecting door in case she needed anything, but other than that we could go about our business.
Yeah, not so much.
The truth was, before the fucking world flipped on its axis I was rarely ever at the motel. Other than sleeping and showering, I didn’t do much there. When I wasn’t riding or fucking my way through life, I was playing the Satan’s Knights prodigal cowboy, shooting shit and digging graves. Not one to be confined, I was climbing the four fucking walls of that room.
After Ally’s moment outside the hospital, I listened as she relived another traumatic experience. It’s one thing to assume what she’s been through but hearing her say it—shit, that left me reeling. I spent half the night wondering if she was okay or if she was reliving more agony. I could have checked in on her during the night but I was too chicken shit. Sure, I was experienced in post-traumatic stress but not Ally’s kind. I knew Stryker had suffered after the war and there were certain triggers that left it impossible to obtain peace. I feared handing that helmet to Ally had opened the door to a night full of terror and that bothered me. I didn’t want to be the one who enticed her demons to come out and play.  I wanted to be the guy who gave her a reprieve from all that shit, the guy who could maybe show her there was a great big world out there waiting for her.
Like it or not, she was my responsibility now. Her well-being and her peace of mind was my newfound commitment.
That’s why I opened that door today.
That’s the fucking reason I sat on her bed and counted her freckles.
After realizing she was okay, that she was just bored, I should have left her alone and gone back to my room, but then we started to talk. Talking to Ally was an experience. Hell, you couldn’t go a moment without wondering what she was going to say next. One minute she was an ordinary woman making it easy to forget her story. The next minute she was the wounded warrior, holding onto a book of matches, fighting for the strength to overcome her past. I was getting whiplash trying to keep up.
What broke me though was when she willingly gave me more of her story. Trust isn’t something I imagine comes easy for her and knowing she trusted me enough to confide in me did something to me. It fucked with me in more ways than one. It made me want to rewrite her past. Knowing that was impossible, I did the stupidest thing I could have ever done.
I kissed her.
I fucking kissed her.
And Jesus Christ, her lips were plump and pliable—fucking perfect.
And her taste—fuck me.
Someone needs to create a word for how fucked I am.
Motherfucked isn’t cutting it anymore.
The torture didn’t stop there though.
Nope, it continued when Ally pulled out her ace.
She smiled and I folded.
Game over.
No fucking sane man could compete with that smile let alone one who had lost all his fucking logic. It was breathtaking and intoxicating all the same. Fucking captivating was what it was.
And like a fool, I wanted to see more of it.
“You need stuff, don’t you?” I ask, pushing the cart like a total jackass. Grinding my teeth, I make a turn and nearly take down the display of Goldfish crackers. Give me two wheels and I’ll make that baby purr, give me a horse and I’ll make her gallop, give me a red wagon with a bull’s-eye and I’m an imbecile.
Frustrated, I park the cart in the center of the aisle and turn to Ally.
“Take this fucking thing, please,” I grind out, taking both her hands and placing them on the handlebar. There, that’s better. Stepping away from the offensive death trap, I pull my shit together and focus.
“Coconuts,” I say finally.
“You want to buy me coconuts?” she asks, looking at me like I’ve got a third eye.
“Your hair smelled like coconuts the other night,” I clarify. “I don’t have any of that fancy shit back at the motel and I’m pretty sure your brother doesn’t either.”
“Oh,” she replies thoughtfully. “That was Reina’s.”
“Well, time to get you some of your own,” I tell her, scratching the scruff lining my jaw. Looking away, I take in the products on the shelf and pick up a toothbrush. Chucking it into the wagon, I glance back at her. “You see something you need you throw it in the wagon.”
“I’ve been shopping before, Deuce,” she says, taking the toothbrush out of the wagon. I’m about to argue with her when she grabs a green one instead. “I like this one better,” she adds, reaching for the toothpaste. She grabs two different types and studies them with deep concentration.
“What’s the difference?” she asks.
“Get both,” I reply automatically. She turns to me and I shrug my shoulders. Waiting for her to argue with me, she fools me and dumps them both in the cart. Her eyes travel the length of the aisle and she adds mouthwash, floss and some sort of whitening kit to the growing list of dental products. Once she finishes scoping out the aisle, she grabs the cart and pushes it down the next.
Following her down the aisles, I watch as she lifts things off the shelves and decides what she likes. A half hour goes by and we’re barely out of the toiletry section, not to mention the wagon is half-full.
Turning down the next aisle, she turns to me. A crease works the center of her forehead as she glances at the shelves.
“I never understood the difference,” she says, waving her hand at the condom selection. “Do you have a favorite?”
Unlike the toothpaste, I can’t tell her to grab every variety and give them a whirl, so I say nothing as she grabs a pack.
“Ribbed,” she mutters.
“Fuck,” I hiss.
“You don’t like ribbed?” she questions, lifting her gaze back to me.
“Ally,” I warn. Quickly, she glances around the store, over her shoulder and back to me.
“What? Are people looking at me? I sort of feel like they are. You know, like I’m a fish out of water?”
“They’re not looking at you,” I grind out.
“So I blend in?”
Doesn’t every girl comparing condoms fit in with the crowd at Target? Fuck my life. Man, you can’t make this shit up.
“Totally,” I say, taking the condoms out of her hand. Chucking them into the wagon, her eyes widen and she pokes a finger against my chest.
“You do like ribbed!”
Gripping the wagon with one hand, I grab her arm and lead her out of the aisle.
“I thought you said you’ve been shopping before,” I mutter.
“I have, but this is the first time ever I get to pick anything out,” she says, pushing me aside to take control of the wagon. “Rush would pick everything out, getting me stuff he liked best. I had no idea there were this many choices.”
“This store has everything, huh?” she adds as we head down the make-up aisle. I don’t say anything as she mulls over eighty-seven tubes of lipstick. Fuck, I’d buy every single one if she decided she liked them all. Then I’d kiss her like I really want to and smear those colors all over her pretty lips.
“What do you think about make-up?”
“I think it looks awful on me.”
Again, she smiles and I lean against the wagon taking it all in.
“I bet,” she replies as she dumps a few things into the wagon. “I never learned how to put it on properly. I always felt like I put so much on that at times I resembled a clown or one of those guys from that band Kiss.”
Unable to stop myself, I let out a laugh.
“What else do you need?” I ask, watching as she throws a tube of red lipstick in the wagon. My eyes dart to her lips and I imagine what they might look like painted that shade. She might not know her favorite color yet but I know now mine is undoubtedly red.

= Stay Connected with the Author =
Amazon Author Profile: http://amzn.to/2b98hQM
Book Bub Author Profile: http://bit.ly/2kXDpo1

= Cover Design Credit =
Cover Designer: JB’s Cover Obsession Design


Model: Jonny James http://bit.ly/2EGkxag


Photographer: Wander Pedro Aguiar http://bit.ly/2kC7aKa

Other books in the series:

Drifter book One:
US:  http://amzn.to/2diAbdl

Wanderer Book Two
US: http://amzn.to/2pWdIql

Preorder Loner book four:


Candy Coated Chaos by Charity B.

Candy Coated Chaos By Charity B.


Genre: Dark Romance

Dual POV




Being with Tavin is like eating those candies that start out sweet and then turn so sour, your eyes water. When she’s happy, her radiance is stunning, but her glow is dimmed by her dark secrets. I knew from the moment I laid eyes on her, sucking on that lollipop, that there was something unique about her. I was right in more ways than one, and while I don’t know the extent of suffering that her life entails, I’ll do whatever I need to, to convince her she can trust me. I just need to hang on to her long enough to do that.


When he wraps his arms around me, and his warmth makes me feel safe, it’s easy to pretend that this is real. I knew going out with him was a bad idea, I just never imagined it would go this far. It was only supposed to be one night. One night to feel like a normal girl. I didn’t plan for this and now, every day that passes puts us deeper in danger. All I can do is make the most of every moment with him, so when the time comes for this to end, then at least we’ll be left with beautiful memories.

***Trigger Warning: This novel contains drug use, explicit sexual content, violence, and sensitive subject matter which may be triggering to some readers. ***





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A percentage of all book sales are going to the To Write Love On Her Arms Charity.


Author Bio:

Charity B. lives in Salem Oregon with her husband and ornery little boy. Candy Coated Chaos is her debut novel and has more titles preparing for release in 2018. She has always loved to read and write but began her love affair with dark romance when she read C.J. Robert’s The Dark Duet. She has a passion for the disturbing and sexy and wants nothing more than to give her readers the ultimate book hangover. In her spare time when she’s not chasing her son, she enjoys reading, the occasional TV show binge, and is deeply inspired by music.

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Website: www.charitybauthor.com

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The Boss’s Daughter by Jennifer Bates

Title: The Boss’s Daughter
Series: The Black Rose Series #1
Author: Jennifer Bates
Genre: NA Suspense/Romance/Thriller
Release Date: November 28, 2018
Publisher: Limitless Publishing 


I am marked by the Black Rose, the symbol of my father’s cruelty and arrogance. It’s a stain that will never wash out, the same mark all those girls carry—the ones who keep turning up dead.
My father, underboss for a powerful crime family, killed my fiancé, then told me he’d see me dead too. The only reason he didn’t kill me right then and there was because he wanted me to suffer first.
But he will never break me.
I ran away. I survived. Those other girls…they weren’t so lucky.
To stop the murders, I’ll have to go back and give my father what he wants. Me. My blood.
And then there’s Hunter…the only man I want, and the only one I can never have. If he finds out who I am, everything I’ve fought for will fall apart.
There will never be a knight in shining armor to rescue the girls of the Black Rose. I’ll have to do that myself.
The blood of the Family runs in my veins, and I will not go down without a fight.



PrologueAn hour away from walking down the aisle, Renee was dressed in her gown—hair done and makeup applied—listening to her bridal party get ready because they apparently believed you could improve on perfection. Renee smiled as she looked out the window overlooking the Isle of Lilies where Christopher and she had shared their first kiss.

“This bridal suite is enormous,” Alice said. “I could totally be happier living here than at the hotel.”

Michelle was holding a pair of stockings in each hand, trying to decide which to wear for the day. “Don’t let him hear you say that. Any hint he thinks we don’t appreciate him is just trouble.”
“He’ll find a way to make your life worse than hell.” As the words were coming out of Saffron’s mouth, her friends turned to Renee, waiting for a disappointed reaction, but there was none. Renee couldn’t blame her friends for thinking the way they did. Matthew Parnell was one of the most powerful and wealthy men in New England who bathed in the admiration and respect he had earned over the years, while at the same time would not hesitate to have a bullet dispatched if he felt disrespected or threatened. Renee didn’t consider Alice’s statement as disrespectful, but the others were right. It was best if he didn’t hear it.Renee gave a reassuring smile. “He won’t ever know it was said.”

Renee watched as Saffron started digging through her bag containing her wedding day essentials and smiled as she spotted the familiar packaging she knew contained at least a pound of marijuana. Drugs were one of her father’s main sources of income, and just because she was getting married didn’t mean organized crime in New England came to a halt.

Saffron scanned the bride for any imperfections and found a flaw. “Where are your mother’s earrings?”

Renee grabbed her ears to verify the missing jewels. “They’re in my bag. And before any of you say anything, the shoes wait until the last minute. I’ll be standing for at least an hour during the ceremony and I would like to be comfortable before I have to put them on.”

Her four friends turned back to their own primping as Renee dug through her bag to fish out her mother’s emerald tear drop earrings to complete her wedding day ensemble. Then she glanced down to the side of the vanity to make sure her shoes were, in fact, still there. As she was pulling the bobbles from her bag, there was the sound like a cannon being shot into something metal coming from outside. Renee, Michelle, and Saffron froze in place as Charlotte and Alice ran to the window to see if they could find out what was going on.

“There are people running down the driveway. I don’t—”

Before Alice could finish her sentence, Renee hiked up the hem of her dress and ran out of the bridal suite as fast as she could until she reached the end of the driveway, ignoring everyone and everything around her. She couldn’t see through the crowd of guests encircling some kind of dilemma. All she could see was smoke, all she could smell was copper, and all she could hear were muffled voices. Renee ran toward the swarm of people and briefly noticed her father, his captain, Mr. Crescent, and three of his associates standing away from the crowd like they didn’t care to get involved.

“Renee!” Charlotte yelled out as she was trying to catch up.

Hearing Charlotte’s call, a few of the wedding guests and reporters turned, half-heartedly trying to reach out and stop her. Renee pushed them aside and broke through the crowd, coming to a halt as disbelief washed over her. Christopher’s metallic blue truck was crushed by another truck on the passenger side. The only thing of note about the second truck that Renee could distinguish was the bloodied body folded over the steering wheel and the skull halfway through the windshield. There were men at both vehicles working desperately at what appeared to be a rescue. Renee watched as they succeeded in removing Tucker Wilson, Christopher’s best man, from the truck and laying him on the ground as Dr. Seaver and Dr. Michaelson ran from the crowd to examine him.

Renee could feel her father’s eyes on her, but she couldn’t look in his direction. Matthew Parnell may have been one of the most loved by everyone he rubbed elbows with, but he was also the person she fiercely loved more than anyone else in the world, and looking at him would only cause her to break down. He promised her the perfect wedding. He promised her that this would be the day she had always dreamed of. He promised.

Cameras flashed from all directions and chaos encircled her as Renee watched Christopher being pulled from the truck and set down for Dr. Michaelson to examine. Christopher’s hair was damp and red with blood, explaining the smell of copper in her nose. His bright green emerald eyes were closed as blood ran down his face. She saw the beginnings of bruises, swelling, and the rise and fall of his chest—she knew she did—and that was all the hope she needed.

Renee ran to Christopher’s side and sat next to him, staring at Dr. Michaelson, who could only look at Renee with heartbreak. “I can’t promise you anything. I’m going to do what I can until the ambulance gets here.”

Choking on tears that refused to fall, Renee nodded in understanding. She would not cry, because crying meant two things: weakness and finality. Renee watched Christopher’s chest rise and fall like he was begging for air as she cradled his head in her lap, trying to stay out of Dr. Michaelson’s way, but with a firm look, letting the doctor know she wasn’t going anywhere.

“I’m here, baby. Please stay with me.”

Christopher opened his eyes and looked at her with no confusion on his face; he knew it was her. All Christopher could do was gaze into her eyes and try to breathe as Renee faked a smile as best she could. “Dr. Michaelson is here and he’s going to make you better.”

Renee leaned down and gently kissed him. When he weakly returned her kiss, he looked in her eyes, deep and true, and the hope began to drain from her. Christopher let out a breath and a trickle of blood started from the corner of his mouth. Renee focused all of her attention on his face, willing herself to wake up from this nightmare.

Christopher reached for her hand and cupped it in his. In painful breaths he said, “Since the first time I saw you, I loved you. I always will.”

Christopher’s chest ceased to rise and fall. The understanding was immediately there and Renee began to shake as shock took her over. She didn’t know how long she had been holding onto Christopher before she was being involuntarily lifted to her feet to look into the eyes of her father. He gave her a sorrowful look as Renee fell into the safety of his arms. She made no sound, had no emotion, and just wanted to wake up from this nightmare. After a few minutes, her father kissed her gently on the forehead and spoke softly. Seeing Charlotte and Michelle approaching, Renee turned her head back in the direction of the accident to validate what she couldn’t believe to be true. Charlotte wrapped an arm around Renee, pulling her in the opposite direction, but Renee couldn’t move.

“She needs to leave,” Matthew said sternly.

Michelle and Charlotte helped Renee through the crowd of people, Alice and Saffron silently following behind. Heartbroken, Renee just wanted her father to hold her and tell her everything was just a bad dream. When she turned her head, everything suddenly changed when she saw it—and there was nothing subtle about it. Renee stopped walking to make sure she wasn’t seeing things as she watched the expression on her father’s face change. Matthew was no longer the man who had held her just minutes before; he was the man his business friends and enemies had gotten to know. He had turned away from the crowd to try to hide his expression from the cameras, the beginnings of a smile on his face. She could see the satisfaction appear on his face as he spoke, and then he did something that made Renee’s heart stop once more. He laughed and turned to light a cigar.

Renee’s thoughts immediately went from sorrow to complete disbelief. Matthew Parnell only smoked cigars for two reasons: to rub elbows with people in high places or when he was celebrating a job well done. Renee looked to her friends and knew they saw it too. She also knew they were smart enough to avert their eyes so they wouldn’t have to speak. Renee picked up the hem of her dress and walked back to the mansion to pack her bags and go home.

This book started out slow for me. It took me a while to make myself read it. I kept “finding” other things to do and read until I finally stopped procrastinating and read it. Once I got through the first half, I was okay. I enjoyed it and was consistently surprised by the new twists popping up from page to page. Crime bosses, sanctioned murders, secret boxes, lost loves, potentially new-found love, and a lot of loss at the hands of someone who is supposed to love you unconditionally. Well, I guess you could say there were conditions, and they all started with the birth of Renee Parnell. ~Amanda G

Jennifer Bates was born in Spokane, Washington and grew up in Burien, Washington.

Jennifer started writing at a young age, always filling spiral notebooks with ideas and stories. When she was in 4th grade, she wrote a short story for a young writers conference and placed second. She always had a story of some kind in her head, and it wasn’t until 2015 that her son finally talked her into putting her favorite story to paper and a new adventure was born.

Jennifer enjoys fiction novels of many genres, but her favorite book series (she reads it every year) is the Wilderness series by Sara Donati. Fascinated by anything organized crime related, she finds inspiration for her writing.

When she’s not writing, she is a legal secretary in Louisiana where she resides with her husband, kids, and grandchildren.