Unmissable: Hold Fast by Olivia Rigal and Shannon Macallan

Five fully deserved stars for this high-octane ride both in terms of action and emotion. Hold Fast by USA bestselling authors Olivia Rigal and Shannon Macallan is a dark story with a strong romance streak that you shouldn’t pass by. Read on for the book’s details and my 5-star review.

Hold Fast

by Olivia Rigal and Shannon Macallan
Publication Date: July 30, 2016
Genres: Dark romance, thriller
Purchase Link: Amazon

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Blurb

One needs to be rescued.
The other needs to be saved.

Sean: When I was a SEAL, I lived my life by one motto: HOLD FAST.
Those two words kept me alive through years of war, but they couldn’t save all my brothers in arms, and they couldn’t save my career.
Now I’m home, back in the world, with more nightmares and scars than ten men should have, and the only woman who can make me whole again is missing.

I don’t care where she is or who has her. There is nothing I won’t do to find her and bring her home.

To me.

Courtney: I’m trapped, and there’s no way out. I need to escape this cult and leave this hell behind, but I can’t do it alone.
I knew the Church of the New Revelation was a bad idea when my mother brought me here, but I didn’t know how bad. I’m a prisoner, and this noose draws tighter around my neck every day.

There’s only one bright spot in my life, only one man who could save me. He’s the only man I’ve ever loved, but he left me behind when he enlisted all those years ago.

Sean, where are you?

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My Review

Hold Fast is not a beach read. It delivers powerful messages in a very evocative way. Courtney is a prisoner, captive in the worst possible way. Because when you’re forcefully told that your perception of your predicament is totally wrong, and that you’re actually in heaven when you’re in the worst possible hell, then how can you go on? But Courtney is a believer. Not of the nightmarish nonsense her captives hammer into her; she believes in fighting for freedom. And nothing will stand in her way.

That kind of harrowing story should be told in a great voice, and the authors deliver. The writing here is stellar. Vivid and immersive, it took me right in the thick of things. I don’t remember the last time I rooted for a heroine as much as I did for Courtney.

Poignant, evocative and extremely relevant, this story shows that extremism has no color, no religion and wears no particular garb. A must read that deserves serious praise.

About Olivia Rigal

91ktnxd38ml-_uy200_Born in Manhattan, Olivia Rigal spent her youth going back and forth between the United States and France.
 She lived and studied in both countries.
 While studying she kept herself busy with a variety of jobs.
 She worked in the Clignancourt Flea Market as well as in a Parisian recording studio.
 In Manhattan, she was a dog groomer and then an administrative assistant in a famous English auction house.

Olivia settled in France to raise her family. She travelled throughout South East Asia and has a special fondness for Laos and Thailand.

When her practice does not keep her busy in Paris, she runs away to write novels in her Florida home next to MacArthur Beach State Park.

In December 2012 she started publishing short novels in English as an independent. Early 2014, she began translating them into French.

The story she tells stand alone. However her characters often meet so you can run into them again in several stories.

She’s one of the original members of the RED HOT team of authors who publish for a few weeks fabulous bundles at incredibly low prices to give an opportunity to readers to discover new universes.

She loves to chat with readers so please feel free to drop her a note if you want.

Site: http://oliviarigal.com/

About Shannon Macallan

41isp6ufool-_ux250_Shannon is a native of Maine, descendant of a family that has lived in New England since the first time there was a queen named Elizabeth. At various life stages Shannon has worked for the government, been in sales, and has done some technical work as well. These days Shannon’s sick of working for someone else, and has decided to take hold of fate and the future by writing. Shannon is happily married with an assortment of two- and four-legged children which all seem to be surviving nicely, and a variety of plants which are not.

Connect with Shannon: https://www.facebook.com/ShannonMacallan/

 

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Finding Perfect by Kendra C. Highley (Book Blitz)

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I usually do review & excerpts posts here, but I just had to include this super sweet, lavender-purple cover that I adored upon laying eyes on it. Finding Perfect  is a new YA romance by Entangled Crush. Read on for all book details, info on how to win a $25 Amazon gift card, and other goodies by Kendra C. Highley as well as to find out what the author’s favorite teen movies are plus an excerpt. And then, resist buying.

Finding Perfect by Kendra C. Highley

Published by: Entangled Crush
Publication date: September 14th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Purchase Link: Amazon |    B&N

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Official Synopsis

For “Perfect Paige” Westfeld, today is “D” Day. As in, she just got one on her calculus test. With  her dreams of Stanford, her reputation, and her parents’ expectations at stake, Paige needs to  find a way to save face before everything she’s worked for goes up in flames.

Ben Franklin (yes, he’s related) is from the wrong side of town, with the wrong clothes and the  wrong kind of life. He also knows an opportunity when he sees one, and he’ll be happy to tutor  Paige—if she makes him into the kind of guy her best friend, the hottest girl in school, will date.

It’s the perfect arrangement. And Paige is determined not even the inconvenient—and utterly imperfect—attraction simmering between her and Ben will ruin it…

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Enter here for a chance to win $25 Amazon gift card and signed FIND PERFECT and SIDELINED bookmarks as well as a signed copy of SIDELINED (US only)

Kendra C. Highley’s favorite teen movies

Being a newbie to writing a contemporary YA romance, but a long-time fan of teen movies with a romantic bent, I thought I’d share my five favorite teen movies:

5) Pride and Prejudice (The A&E version)

Does this really count? I think so, since Lizzie was only twenty when her epic romance with Mr. Darcy began. Plus, Lydia? Scandalous, silly Lydia? Only fifteen and proof that even two hundred years ago, some teen girls are seriously boy crazy. The angst and the tension and the miscues between Lizzie and Mr. Darcy are superb. It even made my 12 year old daughter sigh.  Oh, and the pond. Collin Firth, I tip my hat, sir. Jennifer Ehle was delightful as Lizzie—lovely, sharp tongued, and independent.

4) Juno

Based on this list, Michael Cera might be emerging as my unlikely favorite leading man. Truth is—he picks great movies. Juno is a unique and quirky love story about a girl who got pregnant by her friend the very first time they had sex. The love story comes into play with them becoming closer while they cope with this big change.  Juno (a remarkable Ellen Page) also makes the decision to give her baby up for adoption and that’s a love story, too. The line, “She never really belonged to us,” makes me cry every single time.

3) Some Kind of Wonderful

Okay, if you’ve only indulged in Say Anything as your 80s teen movie, you missed a few. One of my favorites isn’t one you usually see on lists, though. Some Kind of Wonderful is a crazy-amazing look at the divide between popular/rich and unpopular/working class. John Hughes wrote it, and his touch shines through. If you took Pretty in Pink, gender flipped it, and gave it the ending we really wanted—there you have it. It’s gloriously acted by Eric Stoltz, Mary Stuart Masterson, and Lea Thompson.  Key line:  “You look good wearing my future.” Swoon!

2) Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist

This might be all about the casting, but the adventure of running around NYC, looking for a band leaving clues about where they’ll perform, is also an achingly sweet love story. The scene in the recording studio? Wow. Michael Cera and Kat Dennings are adorable together and the whole movie makes you feel like your greatest moment is right there, waiting.

1) The Breakfast Club

This movie stands up. It’s amazing how well it stands up. I saw it first when I was 13. I remember it so clearly (I was home with strep and thoroughly miserable)— it made me feel like someone got me. Someone understood what school, what teens, were like. And, come on, Bender and Claire (Judd Nelson and Molly Ringwald)? That chemistry oozed off the screen. It was the perfect opposites attract, rich girl/bad boy romance. I watched it recently and swooned all over again. Oh, sure, the kids don’t have iPhones and who does Saturday detention anymore, but the essence of it is still…perfect.

How about you? What are some of your favorites?

Excerpt

Ben rocked from foot to foot, then said, “Want to come in? I mean, it’s not much, but—”

“I’d love to!” she answered in a rush, before he could change his mind. He raised an eyebrow and Paige almost laughed—he and Zoey could play Eyebrow Battle Royale when they went out. A wave of cold washed over her. She had to stop thinking about how this would all end, otherwise she’d make herself sick. “Well, are we going in or not?”

Looking nervous, he let her in a side door near the carport. The first thing she noticed was the house smelled like… “Brownies? You have brownies? For real? Where are they? Can I have some?”

He hung his keys on a hook by the door and turned to her, smiling. “My mom usually cooks stuff before she goes to work. We can go look.”

They went through a tiny utility room—more like a hallway—into a small, clean kitchen. The rest of the room, because it was all one room, had a little dining table and a living area with a sofa and a TV. Paige took all that in with one quick glance, then zeroed in on the baking pan on the range. Speechless, she merely pointed and gave Ben a single, pleading look.

By now he was laughing. “If I’d known you had a brownie fetish, I wouldn’t have worried so much about bringing you home.”

He pulled the foil off the pan and cut her a big square. The first bite was heaven. “Ohhhh my God. Mmmm.”

“Okay, so fetish was the right word. You sound a little like a porn soundtrack.” He cut a brownie for himself. “What, you don’t eat brownies at your house?”

“No.” She had to eat another bite before explaining further. Heavenly bliss on a napkin. “My mother, in addition to being randomly rude—I’m so sorry for the way she acted, by the way, because she was a total bitch. No idea what her problem was. Anyway, she’s a health fiend, and an all-organic champion. No junk food is allowed in the house. When Mom bakes, it’s low-fat, gluten-free, and non-GMO. She wouldn’t even let me buy something good at my own bake sale today. I have to buy candy bars on the way to school and hoard them in my locker if I want a fix.”

“Wow…that sucks,” he said emphatically before popping the rest of his brownie in his mouth.

She nodded, too drunk on chocolate to bother answering.

His expression softened, and he reached out to brush her cheek. Goose bumps covered her arms and she gulped down her brownie. “What is it?”

He leaned forward, looking down into her eyes, before smiling. “Crumb on your cheek.”

She flushed head to toe, not sure if she was embarrassed or something else. Good God, she needed some air. Their faces were inches apart. All she’d have to do was lean forward and tilt her mouth up and they’d kiss. Would that bother him? Scare him off? He swayed closer to her and his hand drifted from her face to her shoulder.

No, to hell with worrying about it. She wanted him to kiss her. She turned her face up to his, and their lips were a breath away from touching. He stared down at her, mouth slightly open, and any second now, any second and he would kiss her. Any second…

About the Author

KendraKendra C. Highley lives in north Texas with her husband and two children. She also serves as staff to four self-important cats. This, according to the cats, is her most crucial job. She believes chocolate is a basic human right, running a 10k is harder than it sounds, and that everyone should learn to drive a stick-shift. She loves monsters, vacations, baking and listening to bad electronica.

Author links

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Impossible Choice by Sybil Bartel (Blitz & Giveaway)

I’m thrilled to announce the release of Impossible Choice, the second book in Sybil Bartel’s heart-poundingly good NA series, Unchecked. I absolutely loved Impossible Promise (Unchecked Book 1), which I’ve raved about here. It goes without saying that I’ve already read Book #2 as well, and it’s just as good, if not better. (Review coming up.) Read on for all book details, to find out how to win a $50 Amazon gift card AND a free copy of Impossible Promise plus a titillating excerpt. This tour was brought to you by Xpresso Book Tours.

Impossible Choice
by Sybil Bartel

(Unchecked #2)
Published by: Carina Press
Publication date: August 31st 2015
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Purchase LinksAmazon |    Barnes & Noble

Official Synopsis

Book two of Unchecked

After her parents were murdered, Layna Blair spent three years on the run—until Marine Sergeant Blaze Johnson stepped in and saved her. With him, Layna knew safety for the first time…but two weeks after shipping out for another tour in Afghanistan, Blaze comes home early.

When Layna sees the jagged wounds covering his body, every truth she thought she knew is destroyed. Blaze is distant and angry and though her heart is shattered, Layna desperately tries to keep their relationship together in the face of another tragedy. When the tenuous bonds holding them together are ripped apart by a revenge-hungry maniac, Layna must trust her survival instinct and bury her past for good.

But the enemy is two steps ahead, and before she can take action, Layna’s hand is forced by his deadly demands—save herself or save the man who risked his life for her freedom. Blaze saved her once. This time it’s her turn to protect him.

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Enter here to win a $50 Amazon gift card plus an e-copy of Impossible Promise

(Ends September 10)

Excerpt

Trembling, I found a dress towards the back of the closet and yanked it out. Long, white, slinky, it had spaghetti straps and a large red flower silk screened on the bottom right. I couldn’t even remember what I’d bought it for. Didn’t matter. I slipped it over my head and ignored the way it hung too loosely around my hips. I stepped into high heeled sandals and searched through my mother’s jewelry for a pair of pearl and diamond earrings. I pinned my hair up in a loose twist and looked in the mirror.

A panicked young woman I didn’t recognize stared back. Eyes too big for her face, honeyed skin too pale, her mouth wouldn’t smile. An ugly scar marred her thin left upper arm and the bones below her neck showed just enough to not be sexy.

Make-up. I needed make-up. Scrambling for what little supplies I had, I lined my eyes in black, swiped on mascara and dusted color over my cheeks. Some nude lip gloss and it was as good as it was going to get. I’d never accumulated the amount of make-up my mother had. She never left the house without being a hundred percent flawless, her hair, her make-up, her clothes. A pang of grief gripped my chest and I fought back tears.

I would not cry. My mother rarely taught me things, she lived by example, but one of the things she did teach me was to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Keep moving, keep smiling. It was her arsenal. Never let them see you sweat, she used to say.

I went back to closet, found a small purse to match my shoes and when I took my wallet from my other bag, it slipped from my hand and landed face open.

I reached down and fate mocked me.

Layna Blair smiled at me from the clear plastic slot where you kept a driver’s license but Jennifer Dellis had slipped out from her hiding place behind it.

Hands shaking, I pulled out the two driver’s licenses. Layna Blair. Jennifer Dellis.

“You look stunning.”

I jumped and Blaze kissed my neck. “You ready?” His strong arms wrapped around me from behind.

I bit down on my trebling lip and looked over my shoulder at the man who’d saved Layna Blair.

He went perfectly still.

“I don’t know who I am.” I whispered.

About the Author

SybilI grew up in Northern California with my head in a book and my feet in the sand. I dreamt of becoming a painter but the heady scent of libraries with their shelves full of books drew me into the world of storytelling. I love the New Adult genre, but any story about a love so desperately wrong and impossibly beautiful makes me swoon.
I now live in Southern Florida and while I don’t get to read as much as I like, I still bury my toes in the sand. If I’m not writing or fighting to contain the banana plantation in my backyard, you can find me spending time with my handsomely tattooed husband, my brilliantly practical son and a mischievous miniature boxer…

But Seriously?

Here are ten things you probably really want to know about me.

I grew up a faculty brat. I can swear like a sailor. I love men in uniform. I hate being told what to do. I can do your taxes (but don’t ask). The Bird Market in Hong Kong freaks me out. My favorite word is desperate…or dirty, or both—I can’t decide. I have a thing for muscle cars. But never reply on me for driving directions, ever. And I have a new book boyfriend every week—don’t tell my husband.

Connect with the Author

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Two beautiful souls: Healed by Love by Melissa Foster (Review)

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Prolific romance writer, Melissa Foster, has released her 13th book in the award-winning The Bradens series, but this one is Book #1 in the Peaceful Harbor spin-off, featuring more delicious Bradens. Read on for my 5-star review, and find out how you can win a Love in Bloom/Bradens Series Ebook of your choosing!

Healed By Love
The Bradens at Peaceful Harbor # 1 (The Bradens #13)

by Melissa Foster
Publication Date: June 11th, 2015
World Literary Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Heat Level: 3

Purcase Links: Amazon | B & N | iTunes | Kobo | Publisher

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My Review

After eight years in the military, Nate Braden returns to Peaceful Harbor with his heart full of love for his best friend’s little sister, and his conscience laden with his best friend’s death. Everyone prods him to finally open up to Jewel, but he can’t claim her until she hears facts he’s kept from her for two years.

Jewel has stopped living for herself ever since losing both her father and her older brother. Her life resembles more that of a soccer mom than a twenty-two year old girl. And men are just not relevant. Apart from Nate Braden. His kisses make her feel that there is beauty in this world. But if mixed signals are frustrating, Nate’s can drive her up the wall. Why can’t he make up his mind? Will she always be his best friend’s off-limits little sister or the love of his life?

To me, Melissa Foster’s writing has a unique feature. It’s no-frills simple yet very effective when it comes to portraying characters. Nate and Jewel truly stand out even though their story is not highly original or extraordinarily complex. Connecting with both protagonists is effortless as their deep need is spelled out, and they even express it to each other, sparing us the unnecessary angst. There’s beauty is such simplicity.

What’s more, you can’t not fall in love with Nate. He’s so solid, ready to be there for Jewel, any way she’ll take him. Sexy, reliable and oh so frustrating. Jewel’s shattered life is heart-rending, and the pattern she follows, trying to raise her siblings in the way she sees fit is what earned this book the extra fifth star. It was very interesting and made Jewel a heroine that could stand her ground in a women’s fiction book.

And then there are the kisses. While the sex scenes are loaded, I didn’t so much care for them as I did for the kissing. Nate and Jewel kiss a lot, and it’s so sweet and hot at the same time, I kept reading on for the next kiss scene. Bone-melting kissing.

Healed by Love is a beautiful and honest story that I think will find many fans.

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Rafflecopter Giveaway (Two Winners will receive a Love in Bloom/Bradens Series Ebook of their Choosing) 

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Official synopsis

The Bradens at Peaceful Harbor are the newest addition to the award-winning Braden series and the Love in Bloom family, joining the Snow Sisters, the Bradens, the Remingtons, & Seaside Summers, (Voted BEST BOOK SERIES by Supportive Business Moms, UK).

Fall in love with Nate Braden & Jewel Fisher in Healed by Love.

Nate Braden has loved his best friend’s younger sister Jewel for as long as he can remember, but between their age difference and his respect for Rick, he’s always kept his feelings at bay. Now he’s back in Peaceful Harbor, and Jewel is no longer sixteen years old—but there’s an even bigger obstacle standing in his way. Nate and Rick joined the military together eight years earlier. Nate came home a hero, but Rick didn’t make it out alive.

About the Author

mel author photo headshot400Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes contemporary romance, new adult, contemporary women’s fiction, suspense, and historical fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Her books have been recommended by USA Today’s book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the  World Literary Café and Fostering Success. When she’s not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on  Fostering Success. Melissa has been published in Calgary’s Child Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Women Business Owners magazine.

Melissa hosts an Aspiring Authors contest for children and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa lives in Maryland with her family.

Visit Melissa on social media. Melissa enjoys discussing her books with book clubs and reader groups, and welcomes an invitation to your event.

Connect with the Author

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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