ROME by Jay Crownover ~ Review & Giveaway

ROME (Marked Men #3)
By: Jay Crownover
Approx. 384 pages
Releases on January 7th
Pre-Order Links:

Sometimes the wrong choice can be just right . . .

Fun and fearless, Cora Lewis knows how to keep her tattooed "bad boy" friends at the Marked in line. But beneath all that flash and sass is a broken heart. Cora won't let herself get burned again. She's waiting to fall in love with the perfect man—a baggage-free, drama-free guy ready for commitment. Then she meets Rome Archer.

Rome Archer is as far from perfect as a man can be. He's stubborn, rigid, and bossy. And he's returned from his final tour of duty more than a little broken. Rome's used to filling many roles: big brother, doting son, supersoldier—but none of those fit anymore. Now he's just a man trying to figure out what to do with the rest of his life while keeping the dark demons of war and loss at bay. He would have been glad to suffer through it alone, until Cora comes sweeping into his life and becomes a blinding flash of color in a sea of gray.Perfect may not be in the cards, but perfectly imperfect could just last forever . . .

“I need a guy living his life like tomorrow matters, not like it’s a curse. I am sorry, Rome. My perfect guy has got to come already together and be good enough, no assembly required by me. I learned that lesson the hard way."
As so it begins… Literally the minute ROME hit my kindle I cleared my schedule KNOWING Jay Crownover was about to wrap my heart around yet another totally yummy and rough around the edges marked man.

Cora Lewis is the spit-fire pixie sized true friend that loves fiercely, protects wholeheartedly and can put a person in their place in one second flat. Bottom line she is a force of nature that anyone would love to call their friend. She was a Navy brat raised by a single father therefore she bounced around endlessly. At a very young age she fell in love with Mr. All Wrong whereby leaving her jaded and hell bent on finding Mr. Perfect. 
“Ah honey, you gotta get over that burn. It was a long time ago. It should all be scar tissue by now and there are plenty of good, if not great men out there, and not a single one of them is going to come wrapped up in a bow of perfection.”
Rome Archer is the eldest Archer.  He is a recently retired Army Staff Sergeant struggling to fit back into civilian life after almost a decade of service. Rome has dark demons from the loss of his younger brother and the horrors of warfare. 

Rome’s general attitude was dark and brooding… hence his nickname “Captain No-Fun”. True to form, Cora is all too willing to put him in his place. Their physical attraction is undeniable but Cora isn’t looking for a hook-up and strongly feels Rome isn’t her Mr. Perfect. 
“I don’t know, Half-Pint, something tells me reining you in is probably a pretty good time.”
Rome literally comes to life as Cora brings color back into his dark world. He recognizes that he is far from perfect and is packing a shit load of baggage. As hard as they try it is impossible to deny the obvious attraction and connection they are each feeling.
“So here’s the deal. I don’t need you to figure my shit out, I can do it all on my own. I look at you like I want to lick you all over because I do. I don’t really know how to go about starting up something with a guy like you, but as long as you promise not to lie to me, I want to.”
Jay Crownover is a talented author who creates totally amazing stories. I freaking LOVE her books, writing style and the witty characters she continues to create. Grab every book in the MARKED MEN series, you will take a ride filled with heartache and love!
Rome is an amazing 5 star read!!!



Jay Crownover is the bestselling author of Rule. Like the characters in her Marked Men series, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she'll settle for writing stories with interesting characters and that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her three dogs.
Social Media Links

Steph's Review of Rule is HERE
Steph's Review of Jet is HERE

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UNDONE by R.E. HUNTER ~ Review & Giveaway

Undone (Disclosure Series Book #1)
Author: R.E. Hunter
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Expected Release Date: January 6, 2014 
*See Signed Paperback Giveaway at bottom of post*

Five years ago, Embry Jacobs ran...

She ran from a past that still hasn’t let her go, but her dream of becoming a lawyer is stronger than her fear of confronting that past. Embry’s sole focus is to get through law school—with the help of her best friend, Morgan—and make something of the broken girl she became. Not thinking about falling in love, being in a relationship or even entertaining the idea of romance, Embry is moving forward one day at a time.

Luke Brody is charming and sexy, and has a past of his own. He wants nothing more than to put his demons to rest and move on with his life. But, when Embry enters the picture, is he destined to repeat those same mistakes?

Blindsided by their instant attraction, neither Luke nor Embry are prepared for the feelings they’re developing. But will it all be for nothing?

Will they let their pasts destroy them, or will they risk everything to fight for their relationship when it all comes undone?



This can’t be happening. That thought ran on a constant loop through her head as she sat in the cold, uninviting classroom, the smell of antiseptic invading her nostrils. A shiver crept up her spine, and she couldn’t tell if it was from the temperature or her nerves. Maybe both. She sat on a hard plastic chair, hands gripped in her lap, her foot tapping furiously against the linoleum. The anticipation was killing her. She studied the three people at the front of the room, their heads bent together as they whispered amongst themselves.

Her heart thumped in her chest, the dull thud echoing in her ears as she sat silently, waiting. Her head swam, and she struggled to keep herself afloat instead of drowning in the anxiety that threatened to pull her under. She strained forward, hoping to catch even a small piece of their hushed conversation, but all she could hear was the shallow murmur of their voices. She wanted to get it over with. Like a Band-Aid, it would hurt either way. Might as well make it quick. She’d had to pick up the pieces of her broken life and move on once before. But she couldn’t do it again, not after all of her hard work. She wouldn’t accept it, she couldn’t.

How did this happen? They’d been careful. Hadn’t they been careful? She swallowed the lump in her throat and tried in vain to think of something, anything else.

The older gentleman on the end cleared his throat, pulling her from her thoughts. “Miss Jacobs?”

She looked up at the members of the university’s disciplinary committee, taking them in one at a time. She straightened her back and lifted her chin, hoping the outward display of confidence would give her some semblance of the same feeling on the inside. That was shot to hell as soon as she opened her mouth. “Y-yes, sir?” she answered, her voice trembling.

“Do you know why you’re here?” the other man asked, his eyes kind.

“No, sir.” She shook her head, but she was pretty sure she had an idea.

“Let me tell you,” the older man interjected, opening the folder in front of him. He explained the purpose of the hearing and the university’s policies regarding disciplinary sanctions.

She sat back, rubbing her palms on her pants and trying to calm down. As she listened to his words, she was hit with a rush of emotion so strong it almost bowled her over. Good. Bad. Happy. Sad. Betrayal. Rage. Shock. Relief. Relief? She fought to keep focused on the seriousness of the situation before her as a litany of memories assaulted her consciousness.


She’d had to pick up the pieces of her broken life and move on once before.  But she couldn’t do it again, not after all of her hard work.  She wouldn’t accept it, she couldn’t.

Undone the debut novel for Author R.E. Hunter.  WOW what a debut it is!!  It is full of emotional twists and turns all of which have you wondering what could possibly happen next.
This is an amazing 4.5 star read!  

Embry Jacobs is a strong determined young woman embracing the beginning of law school.  She is dealing with dark demons as she returns home to begin her new journey.  Just five short years ago Embry was living a lie.  She was dating her HOT high school sweetheart that her parents loved as if he was already their son-in-law.  This relationship was full of dark rage and Embry’s only means of survival was to escape and flee to a college several hundred miles away.

Luke Brody is the tall, dark and handsome HOTTIE that comes out of nowhere.  He recently relocated to the area and is looking for a fresh start.  Little did he know that one look at Embry and his whole world would realign.  Luke is the total swoon worthy package with his piercing blue eyes, sensitive and caring demeanor all with a side of mystery that surrounds him.

She wanted to feel something good. Reaching out, she grabbed his face and brought his mouth to hers. Every nerve ending in her body flared to life as their lips connected. She knew he was holding back, letting her run the show.

Just when Embry finally feels she can let her guard down an embrace this relationship things take a sudden turn.  Did Embry turn a blind eye to red flags circling Luke’s secrets?  Can they pick up the pieces and move on?   

The secondary characters are really like main players in this story.  I fell in love with Jeremy!  He is Embry’s classmate and study partner.  I can't wait to see what Jeremy's involvement will be as this series unfolds.  And we have Morgan.  She is the spirited bff that we would all love to have at our side.  She loves Embry fiercely and is willing to protect Embry at all costs.

This is an amazing story of struggle and adversity.  You will find yourself so connected with these characters that they don’t leave your heart and thoughts for days after finishing this book.  AND THE ENDING… Yes one and all it is a Cliffy!!!  I had such a serious book hangover from this book!! I honestly couldn’t say if I was more torn up over the twists or the cliffy!!!  I will be stalking R.E. Hunter as she feverishly works on the sequel, which she hopes to release this summer.




R.E. Hunter is a native New Yorker and lives on Long Island with her husband and their monster kitty. She works as an attorney by day and writes whenever she can. As an avid reader and writer, she's excited to be on this crazy journey publishing her debut novel, Undone, this January. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her somewhere near a beach. She loves traveling, road trips, concerts, photography and good wine.

USED by LYNETTA HALAT ~ Cover Reveal & Giveaway

Used (Unlovable, #1)
Author: Lynetta Halat
Release date: 1/26/14
Genre: New Adult / Contemporary Romance
Series: Book 1 of 3 (No cliffhanger, but their story does continue.)
Cover Designer: Sommer Stein at Perfect Pear Creative Design
Photographer: Toski Covey Photography

I am a slut. No worries. I've come to terms with it, and you will too. I’m not one of those girls who thinks she’s too plain, too fat, too skinny, too shy … no, I don’t have that kind of luck. I’m the girl who knows she’s just right for everyone. — Denver

A reputation as a manwhore–with–a–heart–of–gold tends to precede me. But, I don’t do girls with issues, that is until this girl. It's this girl I want to fix. This girl I want to protect. And maybe … more. — Ransom

Being in love with the same girl your entire life isn't all it's cracked up to be. She uses me in every way imaginable. How does she see me? I am her perpetual one-night stand. No strings, no attachments. Just mind-numbing sex ... for her anyway. — Greer

Feeling like the life is being choked out of her in the small town of Anaconda, Montana, Denver Dempsey craves the escape that college offers …even if that means leaving her “best friend with benefits” and looking for a new way to forget. Thinking she's found the perfect hookup in Ransom, Denver's outlook on college is bright. That is, until Greer shows up looking for a second chance, and Ransom's interest turns to hatred.

Love. Hate. Triangle.

Who's using who?

Meet Denver

“She’s, at best, a fuck buddy. However, I prefer the term ‘whore.’ Fuck buddy is far too nice a term for her,” a catty voice cracks from behind me.

I take a deep breath and look up at the ceiling, saying a little prayer that maybe the venomous voice isn’t referring to me. I thought I’d left all that behind in Anaconda. We’d been here for all of three days, so it’s highly probable they’re not talking about me, right? Looking back down, I continue pouring Jack in my Solo cup, surpassing the line that is recommended for liquor.

“Yeah, so apparently, she’s got some serious issues and doesn’t ‘do’ relationships. So, she puts out for her guy friends whose girls are too good to give it up. That’s her idea of a relationship.”

“Really? That’s kinda gross,” I hear the other girl mutter.

Sonofabitch! I groan. Yep, they’re talking about me. I splash a little Coke in my cup and stick my finger in it to stir it around a little. I feel tears spring to my eyes and berate myself for still having feelings and giving a shit what people think about me. Years of dealing with this crap should have made me immune, but I’d really hoped college would be different. And how the hell do they even know about that shit? Strengthening my spine, I turn and give them a beguiling smile, which causes them both to blanch. Yeah, bitches, you’ve no idea who you’re dealing with.

“Ladies,” I say with a quirked eyebrow. Removing my finger from the drink, I place it in my mouth and suck off the excess. With a pop, I release it. “I see my reputation precedes me. Well, let me just reassure you that I’m very good at what I do. When you won’t give it up for your guy, he’ll be looking me up, and I’ll be more than happy to take care of him. No questions. No strings. Just lots of meaningless … hot … sex.” I peer around them with a searching look. “Are they here? Your boyfriends?” I look back at them innocently. I almost snort at their mutual expressions of surprise and disdain. “Or,” I continue, “are the sticks up your asses enough so that you don’t need a man?” Both of their mouths drop on that line. Yep, gets ‘em every time. “Oh, no judgment here,” I vow. “I totally get not wanting to be tied down to any one Dick … or Tom … or Harry.”

Since the dawn of time, Lynetta Halat has lived to read and has written innumerable stories and plays. A lover of good books, bad boys, and kickass tunes, she'd always dreamt of penning books that people could connect with and remember. She also has a secret penchant for wringing the emotions out of unsuspecting readers, and she collects reader's tears in much the same way that wine connoisseurs collect their favorite vintage.

Her first novel, Every Rose, was the perfect catalyst to launch her into the world of publishing, effectively burrowing her way into the hearts and minds of readers throughout the world. Everything I've Never Had was her follow-up adult romance novel. Now, she has penned Used, a New Adult Romance that she hopes sinks its teeth into you and doesn't let go.

Her love of the English language prompted her to pursue a Master's degree in English from Old Dominion University in Virginia, where she also minored in snark and interpretive dance. She lives somewhere along the Mississippi Gulf Coast with her adorable husband, two amazing sons, and two loveable dogs. When she's not writing riveting stories, she likes to focus on her macramé art and her scouring of eBay, where she buys locks of hair from her favorite rock stars, most especially Bret Michaels and Dave Grohl.

Other Books by Lynetta

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DEAR EMILY by Trudy Stiles ~ Blog Tour Promo

Dear Emily ~ Series: Forever Family #1
Author: Trudy Stiles
Genre: New Adult/Romance

Two women. Carly & Tabitha. Both have suffered life-altering events that have left them both traumatically damaged.

Carly Sloan’s life was perfect until the night her security and innocence was torn from her. The vast repercussions from that horrific night threaten to destroy her stability and her chances for a happily ever after. Kyle Finnegan comes into Carly’s life at the height of her turmoil. Can he help her find what she desires most?

Tabitha Fletcher, on the other hand, has suffered from a very young age. She has been hiding from her past, which was full of abuse, loss and turmoil. She has been so brutally damaged that she has very little hope of redemption. The revolving door of men only leads her deeper into misery.

What circumstance brings these two women together unexpectedly and can they help each other heal? And will they each find what they need?


**This book is not suitable for young readers. It is intended for mature adults only (18+). It contains strong language, adult/sexual situations, non-consensual sex and some violence.


About the Author:

Trudy Stiles is a New Adult author, avid reader, mom to two beautiful children and married to the love of her life. She just wrote her debut novel, "Dear Emily, and cannot wait to share it with everyone.
You'll know that she's writing when you see her plugged into her laptop with her earbuds and she always has a playlist ready for her writing sprints.
When she's not writing, she's carting her children to their various activities while avoiding any kind of laundry or housework. She also loves to run along the boardwalk of the beautiful New Jersey shore.
She's always been an avid reader and frequently escapes into the fictional worlds of the many characters that she has come to love. Well now there are some fictional characters in her head dying to get out!
This first story is called "Dear Emily" and will begin the "Forever Family" series.
Twitter: @trudystiles
Author page on Goodreads:

*** GIVEAWAY ***

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It has been amazing watching our little book blog grow. Along the way we have met so many talented authors and had the honor to read/review so many great books. A real highlight throughout this wild ride is chatting with our followers about our current book boyfriends or the scenes that take our breath away. This giveaway is for all our FABULOUS FOLLOWERS new and old! We thank you for checking in daily, chatting and loving books just as much as we do!


~Signed Kindle Paperwhite Case (Signed by Cora Carmack, Colleen Hoover, Jillian Dodd, Tina Reber, Rebecca Donovan, Abbi Glines, K.A. Linde, Molly McAdams, Michele Scott and Tammara Webber)

Crossing Paths by Melanie Stinnett
Running on Empty by LB Simmons
Recovery by LB Simmons
Running In Place by LB Simmons
Very Bad Things by Ilsa Madden-Mills
Four Letter by Lisa M. Harley
Translation of Love by Alice Montalvo-Tribue
Everything I've Ever Had by Lynetta Halat
Don't Let Go by Michelle Lynn
Let Me In by Michelle Lynn
So Much It Hurts by Melanie Dawn
Dear Emily by Trudy Stiles
In A Heartbeat by Hilary Storm
Winner's Choice! from Harper Sloan 
Long After by Cheryl McIntyre

This is what Melanie had to say about her day at the Austin Author Event!

I grew up in Texas so any chance I get to go home is a winner for me, especially when it has to do with books! The Austin Author Event was the first book signing I had ever attended. I had no clue what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised. Sponsored by Vilma’s Book Blog and run by Lalone Marketing, it was a great event that flowed smoothly.

One author that inspired me to begin my own writing journey is Colleen Hoover. She was at the first table with Griffin Petersen and they were both so great! I’m not sure what Griffin thought about girls who read books when the day started but I can tell you that he definitely didn’t have the same perspective on “book nerds” at the day’s end.

As I went from table to table that day, it struck me that my nervousness was actually quite silly. All the authors were so welcoming and friendly. Cora Carmack definitely won the award for most enthusiasm in my book but there was not a single author that didn’t act full of excitement as each group of people walked up to their table. They were more than happy to take pictures with me and Flat Steph. Tina Reber even took time to kiss Flat Steph.

My only regret is that I didn’t take a Kindle case of my own to get signed. Whoever wins this case better treasure it like it’s the last piece of gold on earth. Ha!! Good luck, everyone!



 Forever & Always  and After Forever
(The Ever Trilogy)
Jasinda Wilder
Expected Release: Dec. 20th, 2013
Hosted by: The Book Avenue
Join the Release Party Here


These letters are often all that get me through week to week. Even if it’s just random stuff, nothing important, they’re important to me. Gramps is great, and I love working on the ranch. But…I’m lonely. I feel disconnected, like I’m no one, like I don’t belong anywhere. Like I’m just here until something else happens. I don’t even know what I want with my future. But your letters, they make me feel connected to something, to someone. I had a crush on you, when we first met. I thought you were beautiful. So beautiful. It was hard to think of anything else. Then camp ended and we never got together, and now all I have of you is these letters. S**t. I just told you I have a crush on you. HAD. Had a crush. Not sure what is anymore. A letter-crush? A literary love? That’s stupid. Sorry. I just have this rule with myself that I never throw away what I write and I always send it, so hopefully this doesn’t weird you out too much. I had a dream about you too. Same kind of thing. Us, in the darkness, together. Just us. And it was like you said, a memory turned into a dream, but a memory of something that’s never happened, but in the dream it felt so real, and it was more, I don’t even know, more RIGHT than anything I’ve ever felt, in life or in dreams. I wonder what it means that we both had the same dream about each other. Maybe nothing, maybe everything. You tell me.

~ ~ ~ ~

We’re pen pals. Maybe that’s all we’ll ever be. I don’t know. If we met IRL (in real life, in case you’re not familiar with the term) what would happen? And just FYI, the term you used, a literary love? It was beautiful. So beautiful. That term means something, between us now. We are literary loves. Lovers? I do love you, in some strange way. Knowing about you, in these letters, knowing your hurt and your joys, it means something so important to me, that I just can’t describe. I need your art, and your letters, and your literary love. If we never have anything else between us, I need this. I do. Maybe this letter will only complicate things, but like you I have a rule that I never erase or throw away what I’ve written and I always send it, no matter what I write in the letter. 

Your literary love,




~ EVER ~

My twin sister Eden rode in the seat next to me, listening to music, the volume turned up so loud I could make out the lyrics, tinny and distant but totally audible. In the front seat, Dad was chattering into his cell phone as he drove, discussing whatever a Chrysler senior executive discussed at ten o’clock on a Saturday morning. Something more important than his daughters, clearly. 

Not that I would have wanted to talk to him, even if he’d been off the phone. Well, that wasn’t completely true; I would have wanted to, but I wouldn’t have known what to say to him if he’d been willing to hang up the phone for ten seconds. He’d always been a workaholic, always on the phone or on his laptop, in his office at home or at the Chrysler headquarters. But up until last year, he’d spent time on the weekends with us. He’d taken us to dinner or to the mall. Movie night once a month, Sunday evening, on the big home theater screen in the basement. 

And now? 

It was understandable, I reasoned. He’d lost her too. None of us had been prepared—no way to prepare for a freak car accident. But after we’d buried Mom, Dad had thrown himself into work more obsessively than ever. 

Which left Eden and me to fend for ourselves. Of course, he’d done the parentally responsible thing and gotten the three of us individual therapy sessions twice a month, but I had quit going after a few weeks. There hadn’t been a point. Mom was gone, and no amount of talking about the stages of grief would bring her back. 

I had found my own way of dealing with the loss: I’d found art. Photography, drawing, painting, anything hands-on that let me shut down my mind and my heart and just do. Currently, I was into oils on canvas, thick glops of vivid colors on the matte white surface, spread around with a bristly brush or bare hands. It was cathartic. The reds would smear like blood, the yellows would blot like sunshine through a window; greens were delicate and crusted like sap-sticky pine needles, blues like cloudless skies and deepest ocean and oranges like sunsets and tangerines. Color—and the creation of something beautiful from emptiness. 

In my more philosophical moments, I thought maybe painting appealed to me because it represented hope. I was a blank canvas, no thoughts, no emotions, no needs or desires, just a square of white floating through a loud, chaotic world, and life would paint me with color and substance, smear and spread and colorize me. 

I found myself needing more tactile sensations, though. Just before I’d packed for this three-week summer camp up at Interlochen, I’d spread newspapers on the floor of my art room over the garage, laid a huge twenty-by-twenty canvas over them, and tossed mammoth blobs of paint down. I’d used my hands to spread it around it arcs and whorls and streaking lines, then added another color and another, mixing and daubing, smashing gouts together with my palms and tracing delicate lines with my fingertips and aggressive sunburst rays with my palms. 

I didn’t know or care if I was any good on an objective level. It wasn’t about art or expression or any of that. It was avoidance at best, if Dr. Allerton’s therapy speak could be believed. Apparently the staff at Interlochen thought I was something special, because they’d been enthusiastic about having me in the program for the summer.

As long as I had plenty of time to paint, I didn’t really care what they wanted from me, or for me.

Lost in my thoughts, I tuned out Dad’s incessant chatter and Eden’s sullen, plea-for-attention silence, wondering if I’d get a chance to try ceramics or sculpture at Interlochen. My junior high’s art program had been pathetic at best. I may have been only fourteen—fifteen as of yesterday—but I knew what I liked, and handfuls of cracked old watercolor paints and hopelessly mixed-up oil paints weren’t it. They didn’t even have access to clay, much less a kiln. I couldn’t even get lessons on stretching my own canvases. 

Being more mature than your age kind of sucked, I reflected. People either overestimated you and didn’t give you any room to be a kid, or they ignored what you were really capable of and treated you like a child. I’d begged to go to a private arts academy for high school, but so far Daddy was putting his foot down, insisting Eden and I go to the same school, and Eden was set on going to the local high school because their strings program was one of the best in the state, and apparently Eden was some kind of cello virtuoso. Whatever.

I’d demand private lessons, then. Or an art tutor. For now, Interlochen would have to do.

After an interminable drive, Daddy pulled the Mercedes SUV to a gentle stop in front of rows of rustic cabins, finally ending his phone call with a touch to his earpiece. 

Eden cast a glance out the window and snickered. “That’s where you’re going to stay for three weeks?”

I followed my twin’s gaze to the cabins. They were tiny…nothing but little wooden huts in the forest. Did they even have indoor plumbing? Electricity? I shuddered, and then stuffed it down, putting on a game face. “Apparently so. It could be worse,” I said. “I could be stuck at home all summer, doing nothing.”

“I’m not doing nothing, Ever,” Eden snapped. “I’m taking private lessons with Mr. Wu and fitness training with Michael.”

“Like I said, stuck at home.” I tried to hold on to the hauteur, even though I didn’t entirely feel it. I was going to miss my sister, and I knew I’d be homesick within days. But I couldn’t say any of that. Talking about one’s emotions wasn’t the Eliot way, not before Mom’s death, and certainly not after. 

“At least I’ll have plumbing, and cell service.” 

“And no life—”

“Ever. Enough.” Dad’s voice, raised in irritation, silenced us both. He hit the button to pop open the hatch. 

Eden’s gaze reflected her own conflict. She wanted to hold on to the argument, because it was easier to snipe and bicker than to admit how scared she was. I could see that in her and feel it in myself. Our identical green eyes met, and understanding was achieved. Nothing was said out loud, but after a moment, I hugged Eden and we both sniffled. We’d never been apart before, not more than an hour or two a day in our entire lives. 

“You better not let Michael make you skinnier than me,” I said.

“Like that’ll ever happen.” She groaned. “He’s gonna try to kill me, not that it’ll make a difference.”

Eden was slightly heavier than I was, not by much pounds-wise, but enough so that it resulted in a much curvier shape, and she was sensitive about it. Being mercilessly teased all of eighth grade hadn’t helped much, so she was determined to get fit over the summer and show everyone in ninth grade how different she was. I had argued that the other girls were just jealous because Eden had tits and ass and they didn’t, but it had fallen on deaf ears. She’d convinced our father to hire her a personal trainer for the summer. Never mind that she was only fourteen and far too young to worry about bullshit like slimming down, but neither Dad nor I had been able to change Eden’s mind.

It was part of Eden’s grief, I knew. I painted and drew and took pictures, Eden played the cello. But it was deeper than that for Eden. We were nearly identical images of our mother, dark hair, green eyes, fair skin, fine features, beautiful. I was closer to looking like Mom, slim and willowy, while Eden had gotten more of Daddy’s genetics—he was short and stocky, naturally muscular. Eden wanted to remember Mom, to be more like her. She’d even taken to bleaching her hair, the way Mom had. 

“We’ll miss you, Ev,” Dad said, twisting in the seat to meet my eyes. “It’ll be too quiet around the house without you.”

Like you’d notice, I wanted to say, but didn’t. “I’ll miss you too, Dad.”

“Don’t be a hooligan,” Eden said, an inside joke of ours, referring to our maternal grandfather’s favorite phrase.

“You either. And seriously, don’t go too crazy with this Michael dude. You’re not—”

Eden stuck her fingers in her ears. “LA-LA-LA-LA…I’m not listening!” she sing-songed. Removing her fingers, she said, “And seriously yourself, don’t start.”

I sighed. “Fine. Love you, ass-head.”

“You too, butt-face.”

Dad frowned at us. “Really? Are you two teenage girls or teenage boys?”

We both rolled our eyes, and then embraced one more time. I leaned forward and hugged Dad from between the seats, smelling the coffee on his breath. Then I was out of the car and opening the trunk hatch and trying to juggle my purse and suitcase while closing the hatch. With a final backward wave, Dad and Eden were gone and I was alone, completely alone for the first time in my life.

A few feet away, a boy my own age was standing in the swirling, left-behind dust. He had a huge black duffel slung over one shoulder, and he was standing with his spine as straight as the pine tree trunks rising all around. One hand was shoved into his hip pocket, and he was toying with the strap of his bag with the other hand. One boot-clad toe was digging in the dirt, twisting and scuffing as he peered at the rows of cabins. 

I couldn’t help sneaking a second look at him. He wasn’t like any boy I’d ever seen before. He looked to be about my own age, fourteen or fifteen, but he was tall, already almost six feet, and he was muscled more like an adult than a teenager. He had shaggy black hair that needed cutting, and the fuzzy scruff of a teenage boy hoping to grow a beard. 

Until that moment, I’d never really had a crush before. Eden talked about boys all the time, and our friends were always going on about this boy or that boy, gushing about first kisses and first dates, but I had never really gotten too into all of that. I noticed cute boys at school, of course, because I wasn’t dead or blind. But painting took up most of my time. Or, more accurately, waking up each day and not missing Mom took up most of my time, and painting helped that. I didn’t have much brain space left for thinking about boys. 

But this boy, the one standing six feet away from me, looking as nervous and out of place as I felt. There was something different about him. 

Before I knew what was happening, my traitorous legs had carried me over to stand in front of him, and my traitorous voice was saying, “Hi…I’m Ever Eliot.”

He turned his eyes to mine, and I almost gasped out loud. His eyes were pure amber, rich and complex and piercing. “Um. Hi. Caden Monroe.” His voice was deep, although it broke on the last syllable. “Ever? That’s your name?”

“Yeah.” I’d never been self-conscious about my name before, but I wanted Caden to like my name as much as I liked his. 

“It’s a cool name. I’ve never known anyone with a name like that before.”

“Yeah, it’s unique, I guess. Caden is cool too.”

“It’s Irish. My dad’s name is Aidan, and my Gramps’s name is Connor, and Great-Gramps’s name was Paddy. Patrick. Irish names all the way back to my more-greats-than-I-can-remember Gramps, Daniel.”

“Was he, like, an immigrant?” I flinched at the way I had unconsciously used “like” as a filler. So much for sounding smart.

“Well, all of our families were immigrants at some point, right? Unless you’re Indian, that is. Native American, I mean.” He rubbed the back of his neck, and his cheeks flushed red. Which was sinfully adorable. “But yeah, Daniel Monroe was the first Monroe to come to America. He came over in 1841.”

I racked my brain for the significance of that date. I’d learned about it in my World History class last year. “Wasn’t there this big thing in the 1840s? With Irish people coming to America?”

Caden set his duffel on the ground. “I think it was something about potatoes. A famine, or something.” 


A long, awkward silence stretched out between us.

Caden broke it first. “So. Ever. What do you…do?”


He shrugged, then waved at the cabins and the campus in general. “Art-wise, I mean. Are you a musician, or…?”

“Oh. No, I’m an artist. I guess they’d call it a visual artist. Painting, mostly. For now, at least. I like all sorts of stuff. I want to get into sculpture. What about you?”

“Same, although I draw more than anything.”

“What do you draw? Comic books?” I regretted that last part as soon as it came out of my mouth. It sounded judgmental, and he didn’t seem like the comic book type. “I mean, or—animals?” That was even worse. I felt myself blushing and wishing I could start over.

Caden just looked confused. “What? No, I don’t draw any one thing. I mean, I do, just…it’s whatever I’m working on. Right now I’m trying to figure out hands. I can’t seem to draw hands right. Before that it was eyes, but I got those down.”

“Sorry, I didn’t mean—I’m an idiot sometimes, I just—” I was only making it worse now. I grabbed my suitcase by the handle and lugged it around, facing away from him. “I should go. Find my cabin.”

A sun-browned hand took the suitcase from me and lifted it easily, which was ridiculous, since it weighed at least fifty pounds and I could barely move it. He had his duffel bag on his shoulder and my suitcase in one hand. “What number are you?”

I reached into my purse and unfolded my registration printout, even though I knew the cabin number by heart already; I didn’t want to seem too eager. “Number ten.”

Caden glanced at the numbers on the nearest cabins. “This way, then,” he said. “I’m in twenty, and these are four, five, and six.”

I cut my eyes to the side, watching the way his bicep tensed as he walked with the heavy suitcase. “Isn’t my suitcase heavy?”

He shrugged, which made his duffel bag slip, and he hiked it higher. “A little. Not too bad.” 

After a too-short walk, we came to cabin number ten. I couldn’t figure out how to delay him without sounding clingy or desperate, so I let him set my suitcase just inside the squeaky screen door, then waved as he shouldered his bag and strode off, rubbing the back of his neck in a way that made his bicep stand out.

I watched him go, and then realized several girls were clustered around the screen door as well, ogling him. “He’s hot!” one of them said. They asked me who he was.

I wondered if the strangely possessive feeling in my gut was jealousy, and what I was supposed to do about it. “His name is Caden.”

For the first time in a long time, my mind was occupied with something other than painting. 

That afternoon there was a get-to-know-you thing, which was stupid, and then dinner and some free time, all of which passed in a blur. I didn’t see Caden again that day, and as I slid into the thin, uncomfortable bunk bed, I wondered if he was thinking about me like I was him. 

Somewhere out there, maybe a boy was thinking about me. I wasn’t sure what it was supposed to mean, but it felt nice to imagine. 

Follow the Promo Tour tomorrow to read Chapter Two

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jasinda Wilder is a Michigan native with a penchant for titillating tales about sexy men and strong women. When she’s not writing, she’s probably shopping, baking, or reading. 

Some of her favorite authors include Nora Roberts, JR Ward, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Liliana Hart and Bella Andre. 

She loves to travel and some of her favorite vacations spots are Las Vegas, New York City and Toledo, Ohio. 

You can often find Jasinda drinking sweet red wine with frozen berries and eating a cupcake. 

Jasinda is represented by Kristin Nelson of the Nelson Literary Agency.