Book Blitz & Excerpt: Sarah’s Secret + Giveaway

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Sarah’s Secret, by Katherine E. Hunt

Book 3 in the Mended Hearts series

Word Count: 12,166
Book Length: SHORT STORY
Pages: 55

Genres:

BONDAGE AND BDSM
COMEDY AND HUMOUR
CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
MÉNAGE AND MULTIPLE PARTNERS

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Book Description

Sarah has a secret. She’s on the run from some very nasty men. Can she find love—and herself—before her past catches up with her?

Sarah has recently bought a home in Winchester Drive. As is customary for the widows on the street, she has been invited to join The Winchester Widows Sex Club. Beautiful and seductive, she is a popular new addition.

But Sarah has a secret. Her name’s actually Beth, she’s in hiding—with some not-very-nice people on her tail—and she’s not even a widow.

Her estranged husband Marco is an undercover FBI agent, and when he turns up on her doorstep, that can only mean one thing…danger.

Beth is tired of running. She longs to make friends and find love again, which she does when she makes Paul’s acquaintance and finds herself smitten with him. Bonding over romantic TV shows and jigsaw puzzles, they fall deeply for each other.

But the hitman is still out there, and Paul, a law student of a nervous disposition, is not exactly ready for a life on the run.

Beth has to work out what she really wants from the men in her life, move on from her past and allow herself to finally be true to who she is.

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence. It is best read in order as part of the Mended Hearts series.

Excerpt

At the scent of his skin, I released the hilt of the knife that was under my pillow.

He’d snuck into my bedroom first thing in the morning, stripped off and gotten under the sheets with me. The man had a death wish.

Marco was a passionate man. Our marriage—short though it had been—had been a never-ending festival of love. When he hadn’t been in bed with me, he’d been by my side, never far away. In retrospect, he’d feared the worst. My background and his were such that eventually, something was going to have to give.

Thus I knew his scent, intimately. It triggered a sensation of tranquility, something I didn’t experience very often while alone in my bed. Just for a second, we were home again, before it had all happened—the calm before the storm.

“Beth.”

“Marco.”

His breath hitched as he snuggled in closer to me. “I don’t have much time.”

Can’t we pretend, just for five minutes, that we are simply husband and wife? A little hot and heavy lovemaking before popping to the shops then spending the afternoon in front of the TV or gardening—or anything that doesn’t involve murderous gangs and guns? That everything was as it had been before I’d come here. “It’s seven a.m. No bad guys are going to drag us screaming from my home during the peak morning rush hour, with school buses and people leaving for work.”

“I have twenty minutes tops.”

Pushing my butt up against his rock-hard dick, I shimmied a little. “Twenty minutes should be enough.” The tiny moan that emanated from his lips was all I needed to know that he agreed.

Despite his brutish appearance, Marco was a sensual lover—Italian. There was nothing like that fiery Latin blood to get me hot, even at this time in the morning.

“Your body haunts my dreams. The thought of holding you once again is the only thing that keeps me going in this stupid life.” He explored every inch of my skin with his warm hands, entering and caressing me with his fingers. It took little action on his part to get me wet for him. Just his presence in my bed was enough to make me need him inside me.

He brushed the back of my neck with his lips, his rough, unshaven skin sending a frisson down my spine.

Parting my legs, he entered me, filling me entirely and reminding me of why I’d married this man. I arched against his body with my head tilted back onto his shoulder. He moved his hand to my chest, holding me tenderly as he fucked me from behind—every stroke, every movement more exciting than the last.

“Il mio amore.” The accent was more Long Island than Lake Garda, but he knew what those words did to me.

“More,” I whispered.

He circled my hardened clit with his fingers, clasping my body to his as the rhythm of his thrusts increased. “Mia cara, ti desidero,” he growled.

I gasped as the orgasm rocked me, and Marco still held me to him. Can he feel every beat of my heart, every flicker of my body?

His thrusts were ferocious, animalistic, and he pounded into me as he came, obviously releasing a need that he’d had for so long.

While I had moved on from our marriage, Marco had never let go of the idea that one day we would be together again. He respected the vows that I had long since chosen to ignore. There was only one woman in his life, and he intended to keep it that way.

But I had had enough.

“I’m not going with you.”

“What?” He pulled out of me then rolled onto his back.

“I have a life here, just like everywhere else. You take me somewhere, leave me to pick up the pieces, make new friends, then just when I get comfortable, you swoop back in and make me leave again.”

“They will kill you.”

“They were your problem, not mine.”

He rolled me around to face him. “Beth, we both know that they will find you. I can’t let that happen.”

Marco. Sweet Marco. A teddy bear wrapped in the body of a heavyweight boxer—big, tough and strong, filled with cotton candy.

“I can handle myself. You know that. In fact, I was doing pretty well before you came along. Why are you here? What have you heard?”

“Enough to know that you’re in danger.” He scratched his ear. The man had a tell. He could convince the entire criminal underworld that he was part of their gang, but I knew when he was lying at twenty paces.

“You’re working for them again.” He fidgeted, looking away. “Fucking hell, Marco, why? After everything that happened.”

“They sent someone here to kill you, Beth. I don’t know who. Someone here is not who they seem.”

I’d met an awful lot of people recently. None of them had struck me as the contract-killer type. Then again, when I’d met Marco, he’d turned out to not be everything he’d purported to be, either. I would have noticed a cold-hearted killer, though. Won’t I?

“This is just another ploy.” I got up from the bed and turned away from him. I didn’t need to look to know that he was checking out my body, probably memorizing every dimple and curve. “We made a choice, Marco. You said you would honor my decision to stop running. You were the one who wanted to give us up. You were the one who left.”

“Beth, I can’t live without you. I thought I could move on, but it’s impossible.”

“Then stay.”

“You know that I can’t do that. It kills me, but I have to bring these guys down.”

“You can’t live without me, but you can’t stay. If it’s so difficult for you to make up your mind, Marco, then you know where the door is.” I left the room. My heart broke a little bit more every time he did this. I’d conceded too many times, agreed to let go of another life and another name—sometimes even a chance at love.

This time it was different. This time I was finally settling in somewhere, making friends. I wasn’t giving up any of this because of another of Marco’s stupid whims.

Fight for me, Marco. Show me I mean more to you than the life you lead, the job you have to do. I went into the bathroom, shut the door and clicked the lock—then I waited for him. Kick the door down. Show me how much you love me. Tell me you’re staying.

I held my hand up to the door, lowered my forehead onto the cold white wood and waited for signs of life. It juddered as he slumped against the other side. Sinking to the floor, I sat in silence…waiting.

I unclicked the lock. There, now it’s even easier for you to come charging in on your white horse. Nothing.

He wasn’t even going to say goodbye. We’d said it a million times before, but this time was definitive. After a while, I could no longer hear him on the other side.

His heart would always beat for me, but for now, it would beat elsewhere.

I lifted my hand instinctively to my mouth as I started to cry, as if to silence myself. I traced my lips. Not even a kiss. My husband had come to me for the very last time, and he hadn’t even kissed me goodbye.

I lifted a loose tile and removed a large box. Marco might be gone, but I had another fight to contend with. The battle was over, but the war was not won, not by a long shot.

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About the Author

Katherine E Hunt

Katherine E Hunt ran off with a Frenchman twenty years ago. She now lives on a French mountain with three children and two dogs. When she isn’t writing contemporary romance she can be found huddled up in front of a roaring fire, with a glass of Chardonnay in one hand and a book in the other.

You can find out more about Katherine on her website.

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Book Blitz & Excerpt: The Art of Getting Off + Giveaway

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The Art of Getting Off, by Alexandra Alan

Word Count: 15,425
Book Length: NOVELLA
Pages: 62

GENRES:

COMEDY AND HUMOUR
CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE

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Book Description

 

A blizzard, a crush and a gallon of innuendo heat up a cabin…

Sign up for skiing lessons, they said. It’ll be fun, they said. Ha!

It’s taken one month for Kalie Bowen to realize she hates bruising both her ass and her ego on top of a frigid mountain. It’s taken her less than a month to develop a colossal crush on her skiing instructor, Dex McCann.

He’s not only handsome, but also patient and supportive, whether she’s face-planting into the snow in front of him or having to be talked off a ski lift. He’s even rearranged his schedule so he can accommodate her request for a lesson on Christmas. Katie can’t help but wonder what he looks like without his goggles…and his clothes.

When a blizzard rolls across the mountains and forces Kalie and Dex to seek shelter in his cabin, the sparks between them fly faster than the ones in his wood stove. Kalie finds that Dex is very happy to teach her the art of getting off—even when there’s no ski lift involved.

Excerpt

“You can do this.”

“N-no.”

“Come on, Kalie.”

“I can’t.”

“You have to.”

“There’s no way. No way.”

“Just relax. Take a deep breath. Let go.”

“But—”

“I’m right here. I’ll catch you.”

Kalie Bowen tightened her grip on the brightly painted pole on the side of the padded chair. Even through her thick mittens, she could feel the coldness of the metal.

This was how she was going to die. And it would be horrible and embarrassing, because even though she’d never heard about anyone dying after getting stuck on a ski lift when they were dangling in the air barely higher than the outstretched fingertips of their super-attractive ski instructor, this was how it was going to happen anyway.

There was a good view, at least. Snow-capped peaks jutted into a crystal-blue sky, bushy pine trees sagged under the weight of fresh powder, and skiers carved perfect ‘S’ curves into the slope.

Oh, and on top of everything else, today was Christmas.

She was going to die on Christmas Day, falling eight feet from the ski lift meant to take children up the bunny slope.

When she’d signed up for private ski lessons a month ago, she’d filled out the questionnaire with her address and insurance information and signed on the line that said she wouldn’t sue the crap out of the resort if she broke anything. She’d skipped over the section for listing any pertinent information her instructor should know. In hindsight, it would have been a good idea to write ‘not super okay with heights,’ but of course, when she’d been filling out the paperwork, it hadn’t seemed important.

The first few times she’d gotten off the lift had been shaky, but acceptable.

“There’s an art to it,” her instructor, Dex, had said. It was all about relaxing. Easy for him to say.

A gust of wind, which on the ground would have been refreshing, rocked the chair. Kalie’s stomach settled into her ski boots, and her mittened grip tightened on the chair’s pole.

“You can do this,” Dex said again.

Kalie whimpered.

It would be much better if Dex weren’t super attractive. Sure. That could make a difference. His body was achingly tall and breathtakingly wide. Golden-blond hair tumbled effortlessly out from underneath his helmet and brushed against his lips, and he looked as if he’d been transplanted from a surfboard onto a snow-covered mountain. His mirrored goggles perched on a strong, wide nose that always seemed a few sunny hours away from getting burned. Then there was his voice.

Dear God, his voice.

Whatever he said in that deep, rumbling baritone made her tingle all over, whether it was ‘Try it again, but slower this time,’ or ‘Stick out your butt a little more,’ or ‘Snow.’

Yeah, so she had an enormous crush on her ski instructor.

It was stupid, honestly, because she’d only known him a month and only been to six lessons, and—the stupidest part of it all—she still hadn’t even seen his eyes. How was it possible to have a crush on someone without knowing that pivotal detail? She managed to, in any case.

And because she had said enormous crush on said super-attractive ski instructor, her mind drifted right as she was supposed to stand up and get off the ski lift, so instead of thinking about getting off the ski lift, she was thinking about getting off with him.

A small crowd formed around the lift tower, murmuring and pointing at her. She’d already been on the receiving end of enough double-takes for being the only adult on the kids’ slope. A bit of irritation joined the panic.

And she wasn’t even high enough to warrant a ladder.

As soon as he noticed she hadn’t disembarked, Dex had shouted something to the attendant and the lift had jerked to a sudden, gut-wrenching halt. He’d talked Kalie through undoing the bindings on her skis, and once those had fallen to the snow, he’d speared them onto the slope a safe distance away, then gone about trying to convince her to fall.

Large, gloved fingers closed around the toe of her boot.

“Just let go,” Dex said now.

The ground lurched below her, and Kalie let out another whimper.

“What’s stopping you?”

So much.

If she fell, she might break a leg. She might land on the compacted snow with enough force to snap her femur or crack a tibia or rip her ACL in half, then she would be stuck on a couch with crutches and powerful medication. Trapped inside, only able to stare regretfully out of the window.

“It’s far,” was what she finally managed to say.

Dex twisted his mouth in a suppressed smile. A dimple creased one cheek. Kalie focused on the dimple, because it seemed to lurch less than the ground.

It wasn’t just the fall that scared her. Falling in front of this man scared her, because she couldn’t bear to look like an idiot in front of him.

Of all excuses, it wasn’t the most logical. He undoubtedly already thought she was an idiot ever since the second lesson when she’d been unbalanced and nearly out-of-control and he’d shouted, “Pizza! Pizza!” and Kalie had shouted back, “Maybe later!” unaware he’d actually been telling her to angle her skis into a wedge so she could slow herself down.

Dex wiggled her boot gently. “You work on engines, right? That must be a lot harder than this.”

Fuck, and he even remembered what she’d told him about her job, although he’d left out a key detail—Kalie designed engines from behind the organized safety of a computer. There were too many moving parts inside an engine, and too many opportunities for pinched fingers, ripped-off arms, and grease stains that soaked into her skin like tattoos. Maybe she could blame her childhood for this, because when someone’s bitch of a grandmother told them that their dirty hands were the real reason behind their lack of friends, those words tended to set up residence in their brain and never want to leave.

Yet Dex remembered her job, and it gave her pause.

After her third lesson, he hadn’t had anyone scheduled after her, so they’d sat together on a sun-blasted picnic table right outside the lodge and sipped watery hot chocolate. It had been light conversation—jobs, pets, favorite vacations. She’d found out that, at twenty-eight, he was two years her junior. When he didn’t teach ski lessons, he was a trail-running guide, or a mountain-biking instructor, or he volunteered for the local trail-building crews. Kalie had asked him if he ever left the mountains, and he’d answered, “Only when dragged away. Or when I need groceries.”

He just needed a wild beard—which, judging from the stubble she’d seen a few weeks ago, would be a reddish gold—and he’d fit every mountain man stereotype. Kalie would bet he owned an ax. And looked great in plaid.

The ski chair swayed on the cable when a stronger breeze gave it a nudge, and Kalie let out a squeak as her arms cinched tighter around the pole.

“Okay,” Dex said beneath her. “Tell you what. If you jump down, I’ll buy you a drink after the lesson.” When Kalie frowned at him, he continued, “An alcoholic drink. Not that crappy hot cocoa. Come on.” Arms outstretched, he gestured toward himself with his gloved fingers.

“Are you trying to bribe me?”

“Yes.”

She hated to admit it, but it was working. She’d been wanting to ask him out for a drink since that third lesson, but nerves had always gotten the better of her. It had been a while since her last relationship, and the very concept of boldness made her shake nearly as much as being stuck in a swaying lift chair.

He’d just given her an opening.

She inched forward on the vinyl seat and moved her hands to the thinner metal that formed the armrest.

Do it. Just fucking DO IT.

Kalie took a deep breath to prepare herself for dropping, but when she did, her body shifted just enough that the smooth fabric of her snow pants slipped off the snowmelt-slicked vinyl. She fell with a shrill yelp. Something twinged in her shoulder and she barely managed to keep a tight hold on the armrest. Strong arms wrapped around her thighs to support her, stilling her thrashing legs.

“Let go, Kalie.” He sounded muffled, and when she looked down, she realized why—his goggle-clad face was buried in her crotch.

Surprise short-circuited her thoughts and for a split second, she forgot she was high off the ground and released the chair. Dex took that moment to stumble backward out of reach of the swinging metal seat and loosened his grip so the front of her body slid down the front of his body. With her long underwear, her fleece, and both of their bulky ski jackets, it was a lot less erotic than it should have been. Her boots thudded on the packed snow.

A few people cheered. Someone whistled. Another person clapped, the sound muted by a pair of fuzzy gloves.

Before she could get too used to the feel of his—unfortunately—professional embrace, Dex gripped her shoulders and held her steady at arm’s length.

Her own reflection shone back at her from the iridescent lenses of his goggles—chapped lips, long nose and a few black curls escaping from her hat. The day wasn’t quite breezy enough to blame the wind for her flushed cheeks.

“You okay?” he said.

Kalie nodded, trying not to get distracted by the woodsy smell of him or how right it had felt to have his face in her—

“Put your skis back on.”

“What?”

She was sure he was giving her an unamused look underneath those shining goggles.

“If you fall off a horse, you get back on,” Dex said. “If you get stuck on a chair lift, you ski down the slope then get back on the lift so you can practice getting off of it.”

“Um,” Kalie said, “I’m not sure that’s the best—”

He interrupted her with a wry twist of his lips. One of his eyebrows was probably raised. “Yeah? How long have you been teaching people how to ski?”

As they made their way down the children’s slope, Kalie decided the only bad thing about wearing mittens was that when she flipped someone off, no one could tell.

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About the Author

Alexandra Alan

Alexandra lives in Colorado with her partner and two very strange cats. Her nerdiest experience was when she had a heated discussion about Star Wars during a game of Dungeons & Dragons. Though she’s always on the lookout for more hobbies, some of her favorites are drawing, knitting, archery, rock climbing, brewing mead, and scrimshaw. The most badass she has ever felt was when she took jousting lessons for a year. She has never met a bad pun she hasn’t adored, and loves to read books that make her heart race.

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Book Blitz & Excerpt: Sun, Sea and Surprises + Giveaway

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Sun, Sea and Surprises by Larissa Vine

Word Count:  31,135
Book Length: SHORT NOVEL
Pages: 139

GENRES:

COMEDY AND HUMOUR
CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE

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Book Description

Summer of surprises…or summer of love?

Tessa feels like pinching herself. She’s going to be a bridesmaid at the wedding of the summer on an exotic island in Thailand. Finally, this is her chance at the A-lister life and the glitz and success that are sure to follow. All she has to do is shape up enough to look stunning in her bridesmaid’s dress. Easy, right? Especially with the super-hot and super-famous fitness star Josh Jordan to train her.

Josh Jordan can’t wait to coach Tessa. Not only will he get to spend time with her, but he’ll be doing what he loves, training people—the grass roots of his fitness empire. His summer’s starting out nicely, apart from one thing. He’s inherited a greedy, slobbery dog that seems hell-bent on shedding hair and chewing up every goddamn stick of furniture in his penthouse apartment.

As Josh and Tessa begin their workouts, their lust for each other blossoms. But with the wedding looming, Tessa still has a lot to achieve, and Josh continues to be at loggerheads with the dog.

Their summer turns out to be one surprise after another…but can they turn it into a summer of love?

Excerpt

Tessa drew a breath and flicked her dark hair back from her shoulders before running up the steps to the bar. Sounds from the party—slightly drunken voices, rising laughter—came from inside. And it wasn’t just any party. It was Bridgette’s engagement party, the social event of the year. Or so Bridgette had described it to Tessa, who still couldn’t believe that she’d been invited.

At the doors, Tessa stopped. Her stomach growled. She’d come straight from work and hadn’t had a chance to eat. But that was okay. It was a party—there was bound to be food. After hesitating for a second, she strode into the wall of sound.

The place was packed with about two hundred people, the women all Bridgette-wannabes, impossibly tall and skinny. Clearly, Bridgette found it comforting to surround herself with clones. The men resembled Bridgette’s fiancé, Brad, and were cookie-cutter handsome.

Tessa scanned the crowd for Bridgette. She needed to congratulate her. Huge displays of flowers looked down from pedestals and at the front of the room, Bridgette had created an Instagrammable photo opportunity by installing a rainbow arc of metallic balloons. Tessa half expected to see ice sculptures or for a fire breather to wander past.

She weaved through the guests on the hunt for Bridgette. In her head, she practiced what she was going to say to her. Congratulations? No, too lame. It had to be snappier to compete with the A-listers. Bridgette, wow, I’m so happy for you. But that remark could come off as insincere seeing that she hadn’t seen Bridgette since they’d left high school.

Bridgette, I— Tessa reached the food table. There was so much good stuff that she didn’t know where to look first. Tiny goat’s cheese quiches laden with caramelized onions lay next to open sandwiches with thick layers of pink salmon. A cheeseboard jostled with mini ramekins of tapenades and oh-so-plump grapes.

There was no one else at the table. Tessa reached to get a plate. It was so small that it would only fit a couple of things. Clearly, A-listers weren’t meant to eat. She loaded it up with as much as she could and was just about to walk away to find a quiet alcove to eat when her gaze fell onto the slices of cornbread. She loved cornbread. These were bursting with chives and sundried tomato. It would be suicide to drink on an empty stomach.

After glancing over her shoulders, she opened her purse. Then she picked up a couple of slices of cornbread, wrapped them in a napkin and dropped them into her bag.

“What are you doing?” a voice close by said.

Tessa nearly jumped out of her body.

She whipped her head around. To her horror, Bridgette was towering over her in skyscraper heels, scowling with all the wrath of her Viking heritage.

“I said what are you doing?” Bridgette’s voice rang out into the party. “OMG, Tessa! Were you stealing food like a poor person?”

Tessa blushed so hard that her earlobes burnt. “Don’t be silly, I…” she began. Bridgette stared at her, clearly waiting. Tessa felt the brunt of her blue-eyed gaze. The noise level in the room had dropped. People had abandoned their conversations and were openly eavesdropping.

“Well?” Bridgette said loudly.

Tessa wracked her brains.

Well?” Bridgette repeated.

“It’s just, the thing is…” Tessa wished there were a trapdoor beneath her feet that could open up. Then, at last, inspiration came. “I wanted to feed the seagulls,” she blurted.

“The seagulls?” Bridgette cocked an eyebrow.

“That’s right, the gulls.”

Bridgette made a sound that was not unlike a seagull squawk. “Oh, Tessa. You’re so quirky. I remember now. That’s one of the things that I love about you.”

Tessa was laughing too but with relief. “That’s right,” she replied. “You always said I was weird.”

Bridgette stooped and linked her arm through Tessa’s. “Well, my little zookeeper. Let’s go outside and find you some birdies to feed. There’s something that I want to ask you.”

Tessa’s stomach dropped. Something else? A sixth sense told her that it would be worse than the stolen bread.

Arm-in-arm, they walked through the crowds and onto the patio. Tessa caught her breath. Vancouver had never looked finer. They had a panorama view of the Pacific Ocean, which was bathed in the evening light that reflected off the windows of the skyscrapers, causing them to twinkle and sparkle like jewels. The mountains across the harbor were caught up in the same glorious golden glow.

To her left, multi-million-dollar cruise ships bobbed at the dock, waiting to whisk to Alaska people who’d flown in from around the world.

“What a view,” Tessa breathed. “It’s perfect. Bridgette, you’re so lucky.”

Bridgette smiled. “You have to make your own luck. Like with my fiancé, I could have chosen anyone. Not wanting to boast but I had my pick. I settled on Brad because he’s kind and caring and runs his own private medical practice. And when I saw him, I thought, why wait? I mean when you know, you just know, don’t you? That’s why we’re getting married next month.”

“You make a stunning couple.”

Bridgette nodded. “You’re not the first person to say that. When we announced our engagement on Instagram, nearly all my ten thousand followers liked my post. Followers from all areas of my life. And it got me thinking, who better than my oldest, dearest high school friends to be my bridesmaids? Vix has already said yes and I hope—”

She shot Tessa an expectant look.

“I said,” she repeated, her tone slightly sharper, “who better to be my bridesmaids than my dearest high school friends?”

“Oh, you mean Isobel and Christine,” Tessa said.

They were the girls who used to follow Queen Bee Bridgette around at school. Isobel was now an actress and Christine had gone on to be a model.

“No, not them,” Bridgette said. “Guess again.” She looked directly at Tessa.

Tessa shrugged. “I don’t know. I give up.” Bridgette had a whole line of A-listers to pick from.

Bridgette raised a perfectly plucked eyebrow and kept looking directly at Tessa.

Tessa swallowed. “You can’t mean…me?”

She expected Bridgette to burst out laughing because she must have misunderstood or maybe this was a prank. But Bridgette didn’t laugh. Her expression was serious. She tucked a strand of her Norwegian blonde hair behind her ear and fixed Tessa with her china-blue eyes.

“You did understand,” she said, her voice solemn. “I promise you, Tessa—and I’m not kidding here—you are going to be my bridesmaid at the event of the summer.”

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About the Author

Larissa Vine

British-born Larissa Vine spent way too long traveling before settling in Vancouver, Canada. Now she lives close to the ocean and the mountains with her ever-patient family and her army of cats. Larissa tries to write what she loves to read – books which are tender, cheeky, even dirty sometimes. Books which are, above all…fun!

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Larissa Vine’s Sun, Sea and Surprises Giveaway

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