Book Blitz & Excerpt: Hawk + Giveaway

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Hawk, by Amber Malloy

Book 3 in the Perfect Stats series

Word Count: 59,896
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 255

Genres:

CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
MULTICULTURAL

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Book Description

Hawk thought he had everything he wanted until Lexington Waters showed up. That’s when he discovered he needed so much more.

Tech Guru Lexi Waters needs to snatch her company out of the grasp of her greedy ex-husband. The only problem is the restraining order that keeps her away from the business she built from the ground up. With no money left to her name, Lexi is forced to go back to Chicago and face the first man to ever let her down—blues legend Sugarfoot Moe Waters, her father. While she’s stuck fixing up his crappy bar, the last thing she needs to deal with is a pushy, arrogant professional hockey player—Hawthorne Maze, aka Hawk. Hopefully the gorgeous distraction won’t derail everything she has worked so hard for.

From the outside looking in, Hawk’s life seems perfect. Professionally, he’s at the top of his field, and personally, he has his pick of any groupie. Orphaned by teenage parents, he only knows is that his mom is white and his dad black. Other than that, there are only two people he considers family—his childhood friend Gavin Knox and geriatric bar owner Moe. He thinks he knows everything about the famous blues artist, but the sudden appearance of his hot-ass daughter is not only unexpected but also unwanted. Contemplating retirement, Hawk needs to figure out what to do next, but fate keeps throwing the sexy egghead Lexi in his path.

Reader advisory: This book contains incidents of revenge porn, racial slurs by minor characters, and scenes of blackmail and emotional abuse.

Excerpt

As Lexi Waters’ advanced coding class put the finishing touches on their latest assignment, she flew her fingers across the screen of her phone a million miles per hour. Drowning out the click clack sound from more than a dozen girls pounding away on their keyboards, she polished off her last text.

“Okay, girls!” she hollered over the noise while pushing away from her desk. “We’ve got fifteen minutes left, but I wanted to say…uh—” Flashing lights drew her attention toward the window. A police cruiser turned into the community center’s parking lot. Shit! Standing up, she slid her phone into the back pocket of her jeans before she stepped in front of her students.

“Girls, code has been one of the biggest joys in my life, and you guys will never know how much you truly mean to me…” Lexi took in each one of the girls’ faces, wanting to commit every detail to memory. “I’ll be taking a little time away, which means I won’t be able to teach the class.” Groans filled the room at her announcement. Lexi had been with some of these girls since their tween years.

Do not cry. Do not cry. Swallowing the emerging lump in her throat, she encouraged herself to keep it together for a smidge longer.

“Miss Tracy will be taking over for the foreseeable future.” Lexi steadily ignored her phone buzzing in her back pocket. “She will help you tie up the loose ends on your video game concepts, starting with the plot all the way down to character development.”

“But we wanted to do it with you,” the best coder in the group whined.

“Uh, don’t worry,” Lexi’s assistant Tracy groused. “I’m not standing here or anything.”

Limited on time, Lexi refused to acknowledge the little feud that had been brewing between them for weeks.

“Trust me. You guys are in good hands. You’re all set for the Fire Code submissions, and… Well”—she took a deep breath because goodbyes were always hard—“every single one of you is intelligent, awesome and there’s nothing you can’t and won’t do. Now make me proud!” She pounded her fist in the air with more enthusiasm than she actually felt.

Chairs scraped against the tile floor, the sounds bouncing off the concrete walls as the girls unexpectedly rushed her. Lexi stumbled back from the weight of their enormous group hug. For a moment, she allowed herself to open up, and lowering her head on top of her students, she soaked up all the good feels.

“Ms. Lexi.” The smallest in the class reached up and pulled something out of the messy bun piled on top of her head. “You have glass in your hair.”

“Oh?” She took the chunk out of the girl’s hand. “Mirror broke.” With assistance from her soon-to-be-ex-husband’s golf club—she had smashed it into a million pieces. She was snatched out of the warm comfort of her hugs when the community center secretary waved from the small window in the door. “Okay, time to go. Take care, girls.”

Determined to not get emotional, Lexi slipped away from the girls’ surprisingly strong grips. Grabbing the doorknob to open the door, she turned back to wave goodbye, leaving her home away from home.

“Ms. Stewart—”

“Waters,” Lexi corrected the nervous woman. She needed to distance herself from her ex-husband’s name ASAP.

“The community center’s director doesn’t understand…”

Flinging the piece of mirror into the janitor’s cart on her way past, Lexi tuned the woman out. Josh had always loved her hair long, but the weight of her curls had grown into a burden. Lexi couldn’t wait to change it. She had narrowed down the haircut she wanted to either a symmetrical chic or a perfect Toni Braxton à la Betty Boop pixie cut.

“Ms. Stewart!” a couple of boys on the basketball court yelled.

She waved at the teens, fighting off the mist in her eyes. The kids were about the only thing she wished she could take with her.

“I’m sorry. What did you say?”

“The officers wouldn’t tell me what they wanted to talk to you about,” she nervously babbled, “but I put them near the back door like you suggested.”

“Did you get the numbers that I sent you?”

As they walked through the corridors of the enormous Inglewood Center, the secretary fumbled with her phone. It took every ounce of Lexi’s patience not to snatch it from her hands. “Moe’s Blues and Jazz, Sugarfoot Moe Waters and or Simone, the manager of the club, correct?”

“Yes, perfect,” Lexi told her.

“And forgive me for being obtuse, but why did you send me these numbers?”

“Bail money.” She walked into the administrator’s front office. Thankfully, there was an exit away from the classroom, where none of the kids could witness their mentor’s arrest. #superembarrassing. “If you would be so kind as to call them and let them know that I will need to be bailed out, that would be awesome.”

“Excuse me?”

“The asshole I will soon be divorced from froze all my assets.” She shrugged. “So, yeah, there’s that.”

“Lexington Stewart?” Two officers waited for her.

“Waters,” she corrected the cop. All she’d done was smash every breakable item in Josh’s secret hideaway. Considering it was her hard work that had paid for that crap, it technically shouldn’t have been a jail-able offense.

“Lexington Waters, you have the right to remain silent.” The stocky officer who demonstrated a severe case of Napoleon complex grabbed her arm a little too harshly and handcuffed her.

For a minute, it crossed her mind to feign innocence, but she was super guilty, because…

Fuck Josh. That’s why!

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About the Author

Amber Malloy

Amber Malloy dreamed of being a double agent but couldn’t pass the psyche evaluation. Crushed by despair that she couldn’t legally shoot things, Amber pursued her second career choice as pastry chef. When she’s not writing or whipping up a mean Snickers Cheesecake, she occasionally spies on her sommelier. Amber is convinced he’s faking his French accent.

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Notice: This competition ends on 7th September 2021 at 12AM EST. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

Book Blitz & Excerpt: Red Rock Romance + Giveaway

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Red Rock Romance, by Jane Colt

Word Count: 78,512
Book Length: SUPER NOVEL
Pages: 292

GENRES:

ACTION AND ADVENTURE
CRIME
CRIME AND MYSTERY
EROTIC ROMANCE
MULTICULTURAL
MYSTERY
PARANORMAL

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Book Description

A brilliant Native American archaeology student and her Brit ‘bad boy’ professor find the key to love, hot sex and…what? A lost civilization?

Cocheta ‘Cat’ White Eagle is a Native American archaeology grad student on a mission to prove the existence of her ancestral Lost Tribe. A vision tells her it’s somewhere high in the treacherous mountains of Sedona. The only problem is she’s afraid of heights! Trying to conquer her fear through pole dancing—of course—she attracts the attention of a bad boy Brit. He’s exciting, brilliant and sexy but totally off-limits. He’s her new professor, a hound, and if he recognizes her as the girl behind the mask of ‘The Contessa’, her career will be over before it begins.

Colin Tucker is a drop-dead-gorgeous Londoner who is rocketing to the top of his field. Alas, the sandy-haired, blue-eyed wunderkind has a weakness for sexy women—including the French Ambassador’s daughter, no less. Banished to the Colonies, he finds himself torn between the exotic stripper and his brilliant student. After being put to a sexy test, he gives his heart to Cat, his student. He pledges to help her in her search, they join forces and live hap—

But wait! Smugglers, deception and danger… Oh my! Colin breaks up with Cat to keep her safe, gets arrested for stealing artifacts and helps the thieves trying to thwart her quest.

Is that really how to win the girl?

Reader advisory: This book contains explosions, death threats, outdoor sex and minor instances of racism from a secondary character.

Nick and Rebecca are madly in love, kinky as hell and ready to push the boundaries a little. As her Dom and her Daddy, fulfilling all her desires is both Nick’s responsibility and his privilege, but while Rebecca loves the idea of Nick sharing her with another Dom, she’s not sure if she’s ready to turn her fantasy into reality.

Nick is eager to facilitate the threesome of her dreams, but it’s no hardship to wait until she’s ready…and, in the meantime, maybe give her a hint of just what two Doms can do for her.

With a small taste of the very sexy possibilities, it doesn’t take long for Rebecca to get on board, especially since she’s developed a small, harmless crush on Nick’s preferred co-Top, his good friend and fellow Dom, Cade.

Nick and Cade have teamed up before, so he knows they can deliver on the promises Nick has made. Together, they’ll be sure to give Rebecca a scene—and a night—none of them will ever forget…

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of erotic humiliation and multiple partner sex.

Excerpt

The tremor in her arm was the first sign Cat was reaching her limit. Her labored breathing was the second. She’d pushed so hard during this climb that every bit of clothing she wore—her long-sleeved gray jersey, her sports bra underneath, her long black climbing tights—was soaked. Sweat ran down from her sopping bandana into her eyes. The salt stung. She clenched her jaw.

I can do this.

The fear she’d fought so hard to ignore disagreed. ‘No, you can’t,’ cackled the demon within.

She fought back.

Hang in there. Stay here for a minute and rest. We’ll be okay. Relax. Just don’t look down.

She took a deep breath and gripped the red-hued rock tighter. Her gloves weren’t thick enough to protect her from its knife-like edge. It bit back. “Ow!” The burn spread through her arms. She kept shifting her right foot to find a more secure foothold.

Better. Worse. Better. Worse. Damn!

The struggle only added to the strain on her upper body. Now both her arms were shaking. Stop! she commanded. They ignored her. She took a series of deep, hard breaths, hoping to get oxygen to her muscles. Her throat burned from the effort.

Put the weight on your left foot to get a better grip.

The black rubber sole slipped off the rock and shot into mid-air. She grunted and instinctively tightened her grip even more, which only increased the pain.

Defying the agony, she pulled herself up a few more inches. Her heart thundered against her chest. Straining, she gasped for air. Safety was within sight. If she could just grab the next handhold, she could regain her balance and give herself a chance. She gritted her teeth and stretched—but it was just out of reach.

She put all her weight on one leg and explored the rough surface with her free foot. Miraculously, she found a foothold that would let her lift herself.

I can do this!

She shifted her weight onto that side.

Stretch! Push! Pull! Fight! Just two more inches.

But the pressure on her leg was too much. The pain in her calf was instant and searing.

Fuck! A cramp!

The muscle tightened with a mind of its own, oblivious to the fact that it was bringing about its own destruction. With her legs now useless, she shifted back to her arms. Drained, they shook. Even her hands had nothing left.

No! No!

She gulped as dread washed over her. But she still struggled.

It will be okay, she lied.

Her heart pounded as her fate became undeniable. Her throat tightened and her face flushed. She didn’t know which felt worse—the pain in her hands from gripping so hard? The searing burn in her muscles? The terror at being so high? Shame at having overreached and being the author of her demise? Swallowing hard, she knew that, given what was about to happen, the question was academic.

Her trembling arms told her that she had only seconds before her body betrayed her. She closed her eyes tight, clenched her jaw, kept fighting and prayed for a miracle. But her final bit of energy evaporated.

Even as the cold, merciless hand of Death pried her fingers from the rock and pulled her to her tragic destiny, she refused to surrender.

No! No!

But gravity pulled her backward like a rag doll.

No! No! Please, God! No!” she screamed into the void.

She plummeted.

Three feet.

The sturdy black safety harness snapped sharply around her. She grunted in reply, and her friend slowly lowered her to the gym floor.

Lauren greeted her with a big smile and a warm hug. “Twenty feet. That’s a new personal best, Cat. Congratulations. Of course”—she laughed—“it doesn’t change that you just died again. What is that…five times today? But it’s still an accomplishment. High five!”

Cat’s arms were so spent that she couldn’t raise either one in response. As her friend helped her out of the harness, she hung her head and wiped her face. “I know you’re trying to be encouraging, but being so weak and terrified only twenty feet off the ground is humiliating. I’m such a failure!” She began to cry.

Her friend covered her in an oversized pink towel to sop up the perspiration. “They’ve got the AC blasting, sweetie. You’re drenched from going all out. You don’t want to catch cold.” She put her arm around her as they walked to the locker room.

As she and her friend dressed in the pristine locker room after showering, Lauren pointed to the sopping mountain of heavy, colorless, sweat-soaked fabric in front of Cat’s locker. “That’s at least one problem you could solve in one stroke. You’d be cooler and more comfortable climbing in shorts and a sports bra. All that wet cloth makes you overheat and drains your energy.”

Cat winced. She was a failure as a climber. Now she couldn’t even dress right.

“I’m sorry, Cat.” Lauren hugged her. “You know I’m your biggest fan. I’m just trying to help. Let me treat you to coffee. I’ll even spring for a chocolate croissant. The good news is that since you’re now nearly a ghost, calories don’t count.”

Cat mustered a weak laugh.

“Seriously, it takes real guts to face your fears like this. You should be proud. You’re a fighter!”

“Sure, a fighter without a punch,” she replied dejectedly.

Lauren wrapped Cat in another big hug, and Cat laid her head on the comforting shoulder, took a deep breath and relaxed into her warmth.

“You’re the best, Lauren. I’d have given up weeks ago if it weren’t for you.”

As they left the gym, Cat squinted at the bright sunshine and winced at the heat then she tossed her bag into the trunk of her old canary-yellow Toyota. It was a glorious day in Sedona. The spectacular blue sky perfectly framed the red rocks glistening in the distance. Normally, Cat took comfort in the natural beauty around her—especially the rugged red mountains that reminded her of her heritage and her mission. Today, defeated by the climbing wall yet again, she barely acknowledged her surroundings. Her friend pointed to the mountains. “You have my word,” she said resolutely. “You’re going to own those rocks.” Cat shrugged. She was too tired to argue.

They walked the few blocks to the café arm in arm. Lauren wore cute pink shorts and a tight white sleeveless top. Cat had on long, loose-fitting black track pants and an oversized, long-sleeved, gray, Red Rock University T-shirt. Pressed down by the weight of her exhaustion, the best she could manage was a slow trudge.

As she reached for her coffee on the white stone counter, her arm still shook. She had to use both hands to pick up the red paper cup. She carefully placed it on the sturdy wood table so it wouldn’t spill. As she started to sit down, however, her leg began to cramp again. She lost her balance and jostled the table. The cup rocked, but Lauren grabbed the drink before it could tip over and stain the red-and-white checkerboard tablecloth. Despondent, Cat plopped into a chair and stretched out her leg to stop the cramp. Once the pain had passed, she picked up a sugar packet—but tore it so badly that it exploded over a pair of cute guys walking by. As she brushed the white powder off her gray T-shirt, she noticed that they looked her way then chuckled. She flushed hotly, put her head on the table, covered it with her arms and sighed.

“They thought it was cute,” Lauren said quietly. “Sit up. They’re hanging around. They want to come over and chat.”

Cat sat back up, shook her head and mumbled something incomprehensible.

Lauren caught the guys’ eyes and shrugged apologetically. They picked up their drinks and headed out. “Okay, the coast is clear.”

Cat shook her head in disgust. “See? I can’t even manage a cup of coffee and cute guys. I’m pitiful—a pathetic sack of fears destined for failure. I’m an aspiring archaeologist who’s afraid of heights. Even after presenting at a bunch of conferences, I’m still terrified of public speaking. I hate it when anyone even looks at me. Those guys were gawking at adorable you. They noticed me only because what I did was stupid. I have ‘career fiasco’ and ‘relationship nightmare’ written all over me. I’m hopeless.” She slumped again.

Lauren took her hand and gave her a warm smile. “Are you kidding? Bumping into the table and not being able to open the sugar are signs that you went all out on your climbs. You don’t do things halfway. I admire that about you.” She put her finger under Cat’s chin, raised it and looked directly in her eyes. “Now, tell yourself you’re a fighter…and mean it! That’s an order!”

She sighed. “Fine. I’m a fighter,” she murmured sullenly.

“Cat!” Lauren replied.

“Okay, okay. Despite my unbroken string of miserable failures and despite the obvious futility of continuing to try, I stupidly haven’t given up,” she said.

Lauren laughed. “If that’s the best you can do, I’ll take it. And also tell yourself that you’re a beautiful, sexy woman. I’ve seen you naked at the gym. Those guys were checking you out because you’re hot—even when you insist on dressing like a nun.”

Cat managed a weak smile then the tears started again.

Lauren reached into her white backpack and handed her a tissue. She stroked Cat’s arm gently. “I know it doesn’t feel like it, sweetie, but you actually had a good day. Once you get past the fear of heights, you won’t waste so much of your energy gripping so tightly. And weight work will give you the strength you need.”

Cat wiped her eyes and made a face, recalling how embarrassing her recent sessions at the gym had been. “I struggle so much, even with small dumbbells, that I get that pitiful look from everyone around me. They ask me if I’m okay, like I’m coming back from major surgery or something. I’ve even tried to go when no one else is there, but then the trainers come over. I can see it in their eyes. They’re worried I’m going to hurt myself then sue them. I’m so self-conscious that it’s humiliating.”

Her friend paused, a frown furrowing her forehead, and looked down at the table. She sat quietly for a few seconds, pursed her lips and moved the saltshaker from a red square to a white one as deliberately as if she were playing chess. She glanced back up at Cat. “Maybe…you…” She took a sip of coffee. “It’s just…”

“What?”

“Nothing.” Lauren looked down and took the pepper shaker this time. Staring in its direction but not really looking at it, she rhythmically tapped it on the table as she pursed her lips.

Cat sighed. “Come on. I can take it. You’re going to tell me I’m stupid to think I can do this. I need to face facts and give up.” She closed her eyes and covered her face with her hands as though someone was going to punch her.

Lauren gently took Cat’s hands and put them back on the table. “Look at me, Cat. I am not going to criticize you. You do that too much already. How do you forget so quickly that you graduated summa, won a great graduate fellowship and are on a fast track to your Ph.D.? Didn’t the school just send you to that conference in Greece where everyone raved over your presentation? You’re awesome! You’re the only one who doesn’t know that. I wasn’t going to criticize you. Actually”—she looked out of the window—“I might…have an idea,” she said hesitantly.

Is there hope?

Looking back at Cat, Lauren sat quietly. She leaned in, lowered her voice and spoke. “I have a thought…about a Plan B…to solve your problems. It’s unusual, but…” She left the sentence incomplete.

Cat leaned forward excitedly. “A Plan B? Really? Tell me.”

Lauren looked into her coffee and stirred. She took a deep breath and sipped. Then her face tightened and turned red. Quickly looking down at the crusty croissant in front of her, she said abruptly, “Boy, this coffee is hot.” Flustered, she tore off a piece of her pastry. “And this looks great.”

Cat was startled. She didn’t believe that hot coffee could make her friend’s face turn scarlet. What is she not saying?

Lauren looked away and pulled her long blonde hair behind her. “Um. Not weights.” She looked down and tapped her fingers on the table. Her face tensed, and—to Cat’s surprise—she bit her lip and held her breath for a few seconds. When she exhaled, she almost imperceptibly shook her head.

After a few seconds, she looked up and glanced out of the window. “I mean, let’s figure out why you’re so afraid first. If we can reduce your panic, you’ll be more relaxed and will climb better,” she said, looking back at Cat. “Then we’ll worry about body strength. So, where does the fear come from? And if you’re so terrified, why are you so committed to learning to climb?”

Everything—Lauren’s cadence, expression, posture—screamed that she’d deliberately changed the topic.

Cat frowned. If there were another way to tackle her fears, she didn’t understand why her friend wouldn’t tell her. But it was obvious that pressing for an explanation was the wrong thing to do. She’d respect Lauren’s wishes. At the same time, she wasn’t ready to confide everything to Lauren yet about her embarrassing fears and weird obsessions—at least not in a public coffee shop where she could be overheard. “I promise I’ll explain—but let’s save it for a day when I haven’t fallen to my death so many times.”

“Fair enough.” Lauren smiled. “But enough with the sad stuff.” She leaned in with a naughty smirk and lowered her voice. “Tell me all about the conference. Any cute guys?”

“I told you I’m not interested in anything that could distract me from my work—and certainly not a relationship until after I have my degree.”

“That’s not what I meant, and you know it. Did you follow my suggestion”—she nudged Cat conspiratorially—“and engage in some wanton revelry? God knows you deserve it after how hard you’ve been working.”

“Wanton revelry?” Cat looked puzzled.

“Sorry. Too much Shakespeare. When you got to the conference and unpacked, you must have found my strapless red dress I snuck into your bag. Did it work? Did you get laid? Surely there were any number of hot young studs happy to service you.”

Cat laughed. “Hot young studs? Have you ever seen what archaeologists look like?”

“Sure. Indiana Jones. The hat. The whip. The bedroom eyes. Bedroom hands. Bedroom you-know-what.” She playfully raised her eyebrows a couple of times.

“Sorry,” she chuckled. “That’s the movies. Real life archaeologists are nerd city.”

“Wait a minute. Didn’t you text me that there was some drop-dead gorgeous guy all the women were drooling over? The one who’d made some sort of amazing discovery?”

“Oh, him. The Brit who found an ancient Grecian vase that’s going to rewrite the history of the period. Because my flight got delayed, I got to the conference after his lecture, and he was nowhere to be seen. I don’t believe he was as good looking as everyone said. Nobody’s that handsome! Even so, I wouldn’t be interested. He’s not my type.”

“Not your type? Handsome and brilliant? He’s every woman’s type!”

“No, I mean he’s a hound.” She waved her hand in the air dismissively and grimaced. “He pursues women with the same vengeance he uses to look for artifacts. We’re just prizes for him. The rumor mill said he was bed-hopping the entire conference. Colin Tucker is the last man I’d ever be interested in!”

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About the Author

Jane Colt

Jane Colt began writing romances to deal with the stress of a ‘day job’ that’s mainly about examining the various ways people treat one another badly. An incurable romantic, her stories give her hope that we really can live happily ever after—even if only in our imaginations. She writes erotic romances because, having been raised in a morally rigid home, she wants to encourage in her readers a healthier, ‘sex positive’ outlook. She especially wants her heroines to be as sexy and passionate as they desire. You can count on the fact that her couples end up in love and having great sex! … OK, maybe they have the sex first!

Her stories aim to be light-hearted, fun, upbeat—and sexy! No dark, brooding, broken, tortured guys who need fixing. Just great, handsome, smart, sexy, ‘real men’ whose only weakness is being unable to resist the women she pairs them with. Think Lifetime or Hallmark movies plus hot sex!

She’s lived on both coasts of the U.S., recently leaving the beaches of Los Angeles to return home to the glorious autumn foliage of western Massachusetts. Married, she and her spouse are happy to be the devoted servants of two adorable cats. She loves traveling. Favorite cities: San Francisco, Boston, Venice, London, London, London!

By the way, anyone who knows her would be shocked to learn she writes erotic romances. “Jane Colt” is a pen name. So, shhhhhh.

Find out more about Jane at her website.

Giveaway

Enter to win a fabulous gift package and get a FREE eBook from the author!

Jane Colt’s Red Rock Romance Giveaway

JANE COLT IS GIVING AWAY THIS FABULOUS PRIZE TO ONE LUCKY WINNER. ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A LOVELY GIFT PACKAGE AND GET GET A FREE EBOOK FROM THE AUTHOR! Notice: This competition ends on 10th August 2021 at 5pm GMT. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

Book Blitz & Excerpt: Sun, Sea and Summer Vibes + Giveaway

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Sun, Sea and Summer Vibes, by Zoe Allison

Word Count: 49,961
Book Length: SHORT NOVEL
Pages: 196

Genres:

CELEBRITIES
CHICK LIT
CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
MULTICULTURAL
SECOND CHANCE

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Book Description

Sometimes first impressions are far from the truth…

Nina Darwish is a scientist who likes to proceed with caution and careful deliberation. When she arrives at the party destination of Ibiza to play PA for her best friend international pop sensation Isla Starr, she has trouble adapting to the carefree and easy-going vibe on the island. The situation isn’t aided by Isla’s seemingly surly yet irritatingly attractive music producer, the world-renowned dance DJ Logan Wild, known by his real name—Cameron—to his friends. Plus, Nina’s run-ins with, and repeated rebuttal of, an extremely entitled and very annoying male singer named Zac don’t help aid her mood.

Unbeknownst to Nina, Cameron remembers her from the past, when he was a geeky student who admired her from afar. Unfortunately, it’s clear that Nina considers him ill-natured, no doubt due to his natural awkwardness, which he masks using a stage persona. However, even if that weren’t the situation, he’s involved in a dead-end relationship with his celebrity girlfriend Ash. Plus, Nina’s eye appears to have been drawn onto Ash’s no good ex-boyfriend, Zac, therefore there’s no point in believing anything could ever happen between them.

But despite all that being the case, for some reason, he just cannot stop thinking about her.

Excerpt

Nina rolled her eyes as the racket from the rowdy young men at the rear of the plane grew louder. The stewardess marched down to tell them off for the second time. Nina didn’t envy the job of the plane crew at the best of times, never mind with that rabble.

She lifted the laminated flight menu and fought the urge to gag at the images of the greasy cuisine. I suppose that’s par for the course on a cheap airline. The stewardess came back to the front and recommenced loading the trolley in the galley.

One of the young men from the group staggered down the aisle toward the toilet. He tried the door, despite the very clear ‘engaged’ sign, then let out an exasperated noise when it didn’t open. He eyed the stewardess. “Can’t we just have one more drink?” he slurred.

She looked at him. “No. You’ve had enough. There’ll be plenty more alcohol for you once we get to Ibiza.”

He slouched against the wall. “For fuck’s sake, who put the rod up your arse?”

The young mum next to Nina put her hands over her small child’s ears. Nina gritted her teeth, unbuckled and stood. “Don’t speak to her like that.”

The guy did a double-take, clearly not expecting anyone to challenge him. “Mind your own business.”

“I am minding my business,” Nina said. “This is my flight as much as yours.” She pointed to the young mum and her daughter. “And theirs.” Nina gestured to the elderly couple in the row behind. “And also theirs. We didn’t pay good money to sit and listen to your crap. And the staff are trying to get on with their jobs. They don’t have to put up with your abuse.”

He opened his mouth.

“Shut it,” Nina said. “Shut your mouth, use the toilet, then go back to your seat and keep it shut. That stewardess has the power to instruct the pilot to turn back to Glasgow, land this plane and throw you all off. Then you’ll get the forty-thousand-pound bill to pay for the disruption to the flight.”

The guy glanced at the stewardess, who smiled and nodded.

Nina folded her arms and stared at him. He broke eye contact to glance at the floor. The toilet freed up and he nearly tripped in his hurry to get in there.

Nina took her seat again to the sound of applause from the people who’d heard the exchange.

The mum next to her touched her arm. “Well done.”

Nina smiled and waved her hand in an ‘it’s nothing’ gesture.

The stewardess came over and checked that the mum and her little girl were okay. She smiled at Nina. “Hi, I’m Laura. Can I get you anything? It’s on the house.”

Nina smiled back. “I’m fine, thanks. I’ll wait until we land.”

Laura perched on the staff seat across from her. “These summer Balearic flights are always the same—too many unruly groups who can’t wait until they arrive to get leathered and live it up. Sorry they caused a disruption.”

Nina shook her head. “It’s not you who should apologise.” She paused. “I did tell a white lie, though. I got this flight for free.”

Laura raised her eyebrows. “Oh?”

“My friend is out in Ibiza for a few weeks,” Nina continued. “She’s a singer and her new label is paying for me to go out as her PA.”

“That’s really cool,” Laura said. “Would I have heard of her?”

Nina nodded. “Maybe. Her name’s Isla Campbell, but her stage name is Isla Starr.”

Laura’s eyes widened. “Wow, I love her. She’s totally famous.”

Nina smiled, pride rising in her chest. “She’s really talented. I always knew she’d make it big.”

“What’s she doing in Ibiza?” Laura asked.

“There’s some hot-shot dance producer who’s asked her to do the vocal on his track. Her new label is massive with loads of contacts, so I think this is the start of her becoming known internationally.”

Laura sighed. “That sounds so glamorous. What do you do? Are you in the music industry too?”

Nina laughed. “Nope. I know nothing about music. I was a project manager for a drug company, but I just got made redundant…hence being available for this trip.”

“Sorry to hear that,” Laura said. “But I’m sure you’ll have a ball on Ibiza.” She sighed. “Anyway, I’d better get on with the trolley service. Shout if you need anything.”

Laura went back to work, and Nina stared out of the tiny window. She was pretty exhausted from the last few days, and only being given a couple of weeks’ notice about the trip had made the preparations very rushed. She smiled. Typical Isla.

Once they’d landed, Nina was among the first to leave the plane, getting a wave from Laura and her colleagues as she went. On the way through the airport processes, she tried to ignore the grumble of her stomach. She’d stop and get something once she got out into the arrivals hall.

Nina pulled her suitcase along and through the automatic doors toward the exit. Isla was always late, so when Nina locked eyes on a sandwich shop, she started toward it. A man holding a sign caught her eye. The placard said ‘Nina Darwish’.

Nina paused. Could it mean a different Nina Darwish? She went over to him. “I’m Nina, but I’m not sure if you’re here for me? My friend was supposed to meet me.”

The man nodded, saying something in Spanish then taking her suitcase and making toward the exit. Nina ran a few paces to keep up. This had better be for me, because goodness knows where I’ll end up otherwise. She wished she’d paid more attention in her Spanish class, but all she could remember was how to say ‘two beers, please’.

Out in the pick-up area, Nina expected a small taxi to await her but her jaw dropped when she clocked the guy putting her case into the back of a limo. There has definitely been a mistake. The driver held the door for her and she tried to ask him again if she was the right Nina Darwish, but he just ushered her into the vehicle.

Once inside, she scrabbled around in her bag for her phone and turned it on. She waited while it roamed to connect to the local service then brought up Isla’s number.

Isla’s face appeared on screen. She was among a crowd of people and there was a heavy bass line playing in the background. “Nina!” Isla shouted above the din. She flashed her megawatt smile. “You on your way here?”

“I’m on my way somewhere but God knows if it’s to you,” Nina said.

Isla’s frowned and flipped her red hair over her shoulder. “What do you mean? Didn’t you get the limo we sent?”

A wave of relief washed over Nina. “Yeah, I did, but I was confused. I didn’t think it was for me.”

Isla blinked, and her green eyes appeared a little glazed.

Is she drinking already? It’s only three p.m.

Isla shook her head. “The guy was meant to have a sign with your name on it.”

“He did,” Nina said. “But, you know, I still wasn’t sure.”

Isla rolled her eyes. “For goodness’ sake, you need to loosen up and stop second-guessing everything. I thought it’d be a nice surprise.”

Nina’s relief morphed into guilt. “It is a nice surprise. Sorry… I didn’t mean it that way. Thank you.”

Isla raised her arm in the air as she moved in time to the music. “Open the mini fridge.”

Nina leaned forward to do so and found a half-bottle of champagne. There was a glass in a holder next to it.

“That’s for you!” Isla called out over the music. “Drink up. You’ll be here soon.”

“Where’s here?“ Nina said, but the call cut off. She sighed. She was starving. Oh well. I’ll get something once I arrive. She lifted the champagne and popped the cork, pouring a glass. it was typical that Isla was fully embroiled in the Ibiza party atmosphere when she’d only been on the island a little over twenty-four hours.

It was hardly ten minutes later that the limo arrived outside a beach bar on Playa D’en Bossa, and Nina climbed out. She made to pay the driver, but he waved his hand, indicating that the fare had been pre-paid. He said something in Spanish and pointed along the road, but Nina was at a loss. Then he pulled away, leaving her outside the bar holding her bottle of champagne, minus her luggage. I have no clue what’s going on.

She turned to the bar and decided to go find Isla. Maybe she could solve the mystery of the kidnapped luggage. Nina walked inside, scanning for her friend. Crowds of very beautiful, scantily clad people milled around. The women were wearing bikinis and the men tiny beach shorts and Nina found herself averting her eyes. She glanced at her vest top and linen trousers, feeling overdressed.

Nina stopped in the middle of the bar, her hunger perpetuating her frustration. She took a glug of champagne from the bottle, leaning against a pillar and feeling like some sort of reprobate. She caught movement out of the corner of her eye. There was another room leading off the bar, manned by a burly bouncer holding a clipboard. Nina took another sip then steeled herself for embarrassment, because there was no doubt she’d be turned away.

She approached the bouncer. “I don’t suppose my name’s on there? It’s Nina Darwish.”

The bouncer looked her up and down with a raised eyebrow then scanned his list. He nodded and shifted to the side. For a moment Nina was frozen with surprise. Then she remembered herself and walked past him, impulsively offering him a sip from her bottle as she went. He shook his head, a bemused expression on his face. She shrugged. “Suit yourself.” I think this champagne is going to my head. She paused, trying to spot Isla. Finally, she laid eyes on her, in the middle of a dancing crowd. Nina made her way over, excusing herself through the throng. “Isla!” she shouted over the music.

Isla turned. “Nina!” She threw her arms around Nina, causing her to nearly drop the bottle.

Isla released her. “I can’t believe you’re here. It’s been months.”

Nina smiled. “I know. I’ve missed you.”

Isla grinned. “Me too. I’m so glad you made it.”

“Yeah, but my luggage didn’t,” Nina said.

“What?” Isla frowned. “The airline lost it?”

Nina shook her head. “The limo guy took off with it.”

Isla laughed. “He’s taking it to our hotel, you idiot.”

Realisation dawned on Nina. She really did need to loosen up and not think the worst.

Isla grabbed the bottle from her and drained the last of it. “Come on. Let’s go to the bar.” She took Nina’s hand and pulled her through the crowd.

Isla leaned against the bar and gestured to the barman for another full bottle of champagne.

Nina nudged her. “I wish you’d told me I was coming straight here. I would’ve dressed up.”

Isla laughed. “Dressed up? Everyone’s in beach wear.”

“Yeah,” Nina said, eyeing a beautiful woman passing by in a tiny white bikini embellished with jewels. “But they’re still more glamorous than me.”

“Bollocks,” Isla said, drinking straight out of the bottle the barman had handed her, then passing it to Nina. “You look effortlessly awesome, as per normal. Come on. Let’s have a dance. Then I’ll introduce you to some people.”

Nina took a swig and huffed out her breath. I’d rather go to the hotel and stuff my face, then have a lie-down.

She followed Isla onto the dance floor. They took turns to drink from the bottle, and before long, Nina’s head was swimming from both the alcohol and Isla spinning her around. She paused to get her bearings and took Isla’s arm. “I need to go to the loo. Back in a sec.”

Isla nodded. “Take this back to the bar on the way.” She handed over the empty bottle.

Nina stumbled through the crowd. Did we finish it already?

After using the ladies’ room, she returned to the bar in order to get a soft drink, plus some snacks to soak up the alcohol. She was just stuffing herself with the remnants when someone nudged her arm. She glanced over and a guy was standing next to her, grinning. “Wish I was that packet of chips,” he said.

Nina frowned. I haven’t got any chips. She studied him for a second and was nearly blinded by the whiteness of his teeth. Her alcohol-addled brain took a couple of moments to process. He’s American. They call crisps ‘chips’. “Okay,” she said, for want of a better response.

He sidled in closer. “You’re English? That’s sexy. Can I get you a drink?”

Nina’s sixth sense told her that he was the sort of guy who’d feel entitled to whatever he wanted in return for buying a female a drink.

“No thank you,” she said.

He frowned, clearly not used to hearing the word ‘no’. “Don’t you know who I am?”

Nina rolled her eyes. Does that line ever get him anywhere? Even if she did know who he was, she still wouldn’t be interested. “I know you’re a dickhead,” she said, aware that the drink had loosened her tongue but figuring he deserved it after that arrogant statement.

He laughed. “Your loss.” He took his drink from the barman and turned to leave.

“Thank God for that,” Nina muttered. She glanced up and locked eyes with another man across the bar. He seemed vaguely familiar, but she couldn’t think when she’d have met a guy as handsome as him before. He had hazel eyes and sandy, sun-tinted hair. Before she had a chance to smile, he looked away and moved from the bar.

Dammit. Why couldn’t he have been the one to offer me a drink? Someone nudged her arm and she sighed. “For God’s sake, I said no, okay?”

“What?” Isla said, leaning in next to her. “What’re you talking about?”

“Oh. Nothing.” Nina said, glancing behind to check that white-teeth-guy had gone.

“Were you talking to Zac before?” Isla said.

Nina frowned. “Who?”

“Zac,” Isla said. “Like, the hottest male pop star on the planet.”

Nina raised her eyebrows. “Hottest, as in most attractive—or as in most popular?”

Isla smiled. “Both.”

“I’m not sure,” Nina said. “Has he got wavy bleached-blond hair with short sides that comes over his forehead, nearly obscuring his ice-blue eyes and bright-white-teeth that nearly blot out the sun?”

Isla sighed. “Yes.”

Nina frowned. “Then I think I might have spoken to him. I told him I didn’t want a drink and he wasn’t impressed.”

“You turned him down?” Isla said. “Are you mental?”

Nina shook her head. “I didn’t find him attractive. He was an arrogant prick.”

Isla craned her neck, clearly hoping he might return and buy her a drink instead. “Then you must be the only woman on earth who thinks so.”

“Doubt it,” Nina said.

Isla turned back. “Anyway, you need to come meet Cameron.”

“Who’s Cameron?” Nina said. She rubbed her stomach. Maybe eating those crisps so quickly on a bellyful of champagne hadn’t been a good idea.

“Cameron Wild,” Isla said. “My producer? His stage name is Logan Wild. Don’t tell me you’ve not heard of him either.”

“Yeah, I’ve heard of him,” Nina said. It wasn’t a lie. She vaguely knew of Logan Wild, DJ and dance-music producer, but had no idea what he looked like or any details regarding his background.

“Come on,” Isla said, grabbing Nina’s hand and leading her through the throng.

The sudden movement caused Nina’s stomach to lurch and her niggling nausea intensified. She took a deep breath in an attempt to quell it.

Isla weaved them through the crowd toward the back of the room where a small group was conversing. There was one guy with his back to them who Nina assumed was Cameron, mainly because the rest of the group was female. As they approached, she realised it was the handsome man she’d locked eyes with across the bar. That did nothing to aid her nausea.

Isla tapped him on the shoulder, and he turned. His eyes struck Nina. Up close they were even more intense.

“This is my friend Nina,” Isla told him. “The one I was telling you about. “Nina, this is Cam.”

He surveyed her with a cool expression then held out his hand for a shake. But before Nina could grasp it, she gagged and slapped her hand over her mouth. She turned and fled for the ladies’ room and only just made it to the toilet before vomiting profusely.

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About the Author

Zoe Allison

Growing up, Zoe Allison loved stories about falling in love. But rather than being rescued by a knight in shining armour, she imagined herself fighting dragons alongside him, battling supervillains as heroic allies, or teaming up to dive into perilous waters in order to save a loved one from drowning. Once Zoe did grow up, she became a doctor. But as time went on, she craved a creative outlet to counter the soul sapping burnout that her career inflicted upon her, and also to achieve those happy endings that were so often lacking in the real world. She wanted heroes who truly love and value women, who find their true love inspiring, are fascinated by her, want to connect with her as a soulmate and fully open themselves to her on an emotional level. And so, Zoe began to write her romances.

A Zoe Allison novel promises a heroine who is not only her hero’s equal in ability and intellect, but whose hero equals her in emotional intelligence. Her characters overcome conflict infused with spine tingling sexual tension to forge a deep connection as soul mates as well as lovers, and ultimately, they both rescue each other emotionally. Even if they might begin their journey as enemies…

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