Sneak Peak

Sneak Peek: Scrooging Christmas by Sarah Ready

What would you do with a Scrooge?
Scrooging Christmas, a charming and romantic opposites attract holiday romance from author Sarah Ready is coming October 18th, and we have your first look!

Professional holiday decorator Natalie Fiorre loves tinsel, gingerbread, and the magic of Christmas. She believes there isn’t anything in the world that a dash of Christmas Spirit can’t fix—until she meets Gabe.

Perpetual Scrooge Gabe Cavanaugh loathes candy canes, jingle bells, and all things merry and bright. He believes Christmas is the worst time of year.

So when Miss Christmas and Mr. Scrooge meet, sparks fly.

When Gabe threatens to evict Natalie and her neighbors on Christmas she does what any right-minded Christmas-lover would do…

Natalie has two days to stop the evictions and help Gabe discover the magic of Christmas, but a lot can go wrong in two days, and in Romeo, the soul mate capital, there’s another kind of magic in the air.

A delightfully cheeky rom-com romp through the holidays, Scrooging Christmas is Book Seven in the Soul Mates in Romeo Romance Series by Sarah Ready.

Reserve your copy today for 99 pennies!
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Keep reading for your first look at Scrooging Christmas!

December 21, 11:12 p.m.

The Christmas carols are horridly, ear-numbingly loud. The sleigh bells, the trilling trumpet, and the joyful voices boomerang inside my skull and jolt me out of unconsciousness.

I lie still, my cheek scratching against cheap, prickly carpet, the scent of pine and gasoline sharp in my nose as I struggle to brush aside the veil of confusion.

Darkness coats my vision, thick, and absolute. There’s the taste of fresh falling snow in the air, mixed with the copper tang of blood on my dry lips.

So, there’s snowfall.

Pine trees.

The icy darkness of the cramped trunk.

My knees are tucked against my chest. Hot needles prick at my calves just above my tied ankles. My wrists are bound behind my back.

I wriggle my numb fingers, rotate my hands. It’s not rope, handcuffs, or zip ties that hold me, it’s…Christmas lights?

I’m tied up with the green cordage of a hundred Christmas bulbs?

The plastic cord digs into my wrists and ankles, cutting off circulation as I struggle. The trunk is coffin-like, too tight to maneuver.

You’d think, if you were bent on stuffing a six-foot-two man inside a trunk, you’d find a car bigger than a roller skate. But I’m trussed up like a Christmas goose, stuck in an oven. Except this oven is a trunk and achingly cold. The sharp icicle teeth of December bite at my nose and cheeks.

The crunch of ice-filled potholes and snow grinding under the car tires is muted beneath the chirpy high-pitched chorus of Christmas cheer. The carols assault my ears, but I listen for the sounds beyond the singing.

The night is curiously quiet, there’s only the music, the grumble of the engine, the tires crunching over ice-coated snow, and the claustrophobic noise of my own breathing.

I’m not in Manhattan then. Not anywhere near my apartment.

The car jostles around a curve and I roll and slide into the trunk wall, crushing my face against the unyielding metal surface.

A package bumps into my back, brushing against my hands. Wrapping paper, a frilly bow, I run my fingers over the slick paper surface.

I’m in the trunk with a present.

My stomach rolls as we round another curve, bumping over a small hill. I’m on a country road, far, far from home, that much is clear.

I jerk about and try to dislodge my cell from my suit pocket. Thirty seconds in I realize my phone isn’t in my pocket. I can’t feel the thick bulge of my wallet either.

I draw in a deep breath of stagnant air and tell myself to think…think…think.

They have to be after money. A million? Two? More?

I grit my teeth, the bitter smell of Christmas pine and snow lingering in my nose.

I don’t remember anything after hailing the taxi. Is that it then? Did the taxi driver render me unconscious and shove me into their trunk?

I try to recall their appearance, to picture who is currently at the wheel, driving us farther and farther away from New York. But I can’t. When I rifle through my memories, looking for their face, I only see a blank empty space.

I kick at the area where the tail light is. Maybe if I knock it out I can signal another car. But the only thing that comes of my efforts is an aching ankle.

I hate Christmas.

I really, really hate Christmas.

And wouldn’t it be just the figgy pudding to top it all if I died out in the snowy, pine tree wilds, in the car of some Christmas carol loving maniac?

A curious calm settles over me, the pine needle smell tickling my nose, my heartbeat slowing to the lull of “Silent Night.”

The car slows, crawling along at five miles an hour, winding down, I assume, a long country drive, deep in some craggy, forgotten woods.

This is it then.

Want more? Finish reading here >>> https://bit.ly/3r3bd5P

About Sarah Ready

Author Sarah Ready writes contemporary romance and romantic comedy. Her books have been described as “euphoric”, “heartwarming” and “laugh out loud”. Her debut novel The Fall in Love Checklist was hailed as “the unicorn read of 2020”. She loves to write fast-paced, emotionally compelling romances about quirky, smart women and the men who love them.

Before writing romance full-time Sarah had lots of fun teaching at an Ivy League. Then she realized she could have even more fun writing romance. Her favorite things after writing are adventuring and travel. You’ll frequently find her using her degree at a dino dig site, crawling into a cave, snorkeling, or on horseback riding through the jungle – all fodder for her next book. She’s lived in Scotland, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland and NYC. She currently lives in the Caribbean with her water-obsessed pup and her awesome family.

You can visit her online at http://www.sarahready.com

Connect with Sarah

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2PVEe4j

Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3wt7D6B

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Website: http://sarahready.com/

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Sneak Peak

Sneak Peek: Shattered Sea by Catherine Cowles

Friendship catches fire.

Shattered Sea, a sexy, opposites attract, small-town romance from USA Today bestselling author Catherine Cowles is coming September 13th, and we have your first look!

Laiken

I moved from the back room into the gallery, leaving Gizmo on his bed, happily chewing on a bully stick. My steps faltered as I took in the man in front of my photograph, his back to me. He wore dark jeans that hugged his hips, a flannel shirt, and a baseball cap. It was too cold for only a flannel shirt, yet I couldn’t find it in me to be sad that it was what he wore.

The shirt ghosted over defined muscles and showed just how broad his shoulders were. What was it about good shoulders? I was woman enough to admit they were my weakness.

But it was the energy that flowed off him that had me stepping forward. He paid rapt attention to the photograph in front of him. I couldn’t help the question that tumbled out of my mouth. “What do you think?”

The man didn’t turn around. “It’s one of the most visceral pieces of art I’ve ever seen.”

Visceral. This man didn’t know he’d just paid me one of the highest compliments possible. “Most people think it’s depressing.” I’d seen more than one patron scrunch up their nose at it and turn away in favor of a pretty watercolor landscape.

“It’s real. A piece of the human experience. Isn’t that what art should be?”

My heart hammered in my chest. “I think so. That and to make us feel seen. Less alone in one way or another.” That was what it had done for me time and time again. It was why I had been brave enough to shoot this self-portrait. Because I hoped to give that gift to someone else.

“Less alone,” he muttered as he stared at the image. After a few beats, he turned around.

I sucked in a sharp breath as I took in his angled features that I’d seen gracing the covers of magazines at the grocery store checkout so many times. But those photos didn’t come anywhere close to doing his eyes justice. The swirling green and gold could hold a person in a trance. “Oh, crap.”

Read more here! >>>>> https://bit.ly/3KsDFXQ

I’ve known every kind of pain. Of the heart. Of the body. Of the soul. All I want now is the freedom that comes from making my art.

The last thing I expected was Hollywood royalty to waltz into my gallery in a small town in the middle of nowhere and see me.

A man like Boden Cavanaugh shouldn’t understand me. Shouldn’t be able to soothe my most ragged edges. Even worse, he makes me want the one thing I can’t have. Him.

All it takes is one spark, and friendship catches flame. But as our attraction burns bright, there are forces desperate to send us back into the darkness. And they’ve already killed before…

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About Catherine Cowles

Writer of words. Drinker of Diet Cokes. Lover of all things cute and furry, especially her dog. Catherine has had her nose in a book since the time she could read and finally decided to write down some of her own stories. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring her home state of Oregon, listening to true crime podcasts, or searching for her next book boyfriend.

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Sneak Peak

Sneak Peek: True North by JB Salsbury

He said he’d never fall in love.
Never say never.

True North, an all-new mistaken-identity contemporary romance from New York Times bestselling author JB Salsbury is coming August 8th, and we have your first look!

The North name is a heavy burden. Two things I learned young—the best way to keep my head on is to keep my head down, and… never fall in love.
But I’m a sucker for a damsel in distress.

Lillian came into my life swinging. Mistaking me for my abusive twin brother, she greets me with a swift kick to the balls and a busted lip. Then she really shakes up my world.

She needs her job, but she needs a break just as much. And nothing silences my demons as efficiently as playing the hero.

To protect her from my jerk twin—her boss—I take her on a business trip and quickly learn that she’s different. Blunt. Honest. Intriguingly strange. I’m transfixed, so when she unknowingly sinks a multimillion-dollar deal, I don’t speak up. Something my family won’t forgive.

Now, I have a choice to make. I can go against my own blood and burn the North legacy to the ground, or play it safe, commit to my self-imposed rules and predestined future. Choosing her would ruin my life as I know it, but I’m starting to wonder if a life without her is worth living.

Pre-order your copy today!
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Start the Wild North Series of standalones now!
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Keep reading for your first look inside True North!

Lillian

An hour and a half later, we’re in the backseat of a minivan, trying to figure out how we’re going to smuggle a bag of double cheeseburgers and fries into the hotel without anyone seeing.
“Here, you take the fries and fill your pockets.” I hand him the containers of fries and pop a couple in my mouth in the process. “Oh, these are so good.”
“Stop eating them all.” He carefully slips the sleeve of fries into the inner pocket of his coat and then eyes me. “What about the burgers?”
Turns out, our meal at the restaurant was delicious. The meat was tender and juicy and full of flavor, but even after we ate blue corn cakes with elderberry syrup for dessert, we were still hungry. We also had two more drinks and a glass of dessert wine from the local winery, which may have directly contributed to our current situation.
Because the entire staff saw us eat in the restaurant, and we don’t want to insult anyone, we’re sneaking food back to our rooms.
I grab a burger and shove it into my clutch. Then I stuff another into my cleavage.
“You can’t do that. It’s too obvious,” Hudson says without looking at me. “Give it to me. I’ll tuck it under my arm.”
“Eww, I don’t want your armpit touching my burger.”
He shoves his hand out again. “Then it’ll be mine. Give it.”
“No, this works.” I pat the burger between my boobs. “Women do this all the time. Look. You can’t even tell.”
His gaze drops to my chest and then darts away. “Uh, yeah. You can.”
“It’s fine. I got this.”
“What do you mean women do this all time?”
I do a doubletake. Is he joking? “You didn’t know that women use their cleavage as a pocket?”

Want more? Continue reading here >>> https://bit.ly/3RPd4ar

About JB Salsbury
JB Salsbury, New York Times Best Selling author of The Fighting Series, lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with her husband and two kids. She spends the majority of her day lost in a world of battling alphas, budding romance, and impossible obstacles as stories claw away at her subconscious, begging to be released to the page.

Her love of good storytelling led her to earn a degree in Media Communications. With her journalistic background, writing has always been at the forefront, and her love of romance prompted her to write her first novel.

Since 2013 she has published six bestselling novels in The Fighting Series and won a RONE Award.

Connect with JB
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Website: http://jbsalsbury.com/

Sneak Peak

Sneak Peek: Boyfriend Material by Ilsa Madden-Mills

Can this hockey player prove he’s boyfriend material, or will our past get in the way?

Boyfriend Material, an all-new enemies-to-lovers romance from Wall Street Journal bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills is coming July 25th, and we have your first look!

#1 Amazon Bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills delivers an all-new, enemies-to-lovers sports romance, a breathtaking tale of passion, heartbreak, and love…

Skyscraper cheekbones, lush lips, and magnetic topaz eyes.

I’m talking about Eric Hansen.

Rich prick.

Glorified hockey star.

Thinks he’s amazing.

The Golden Boy and I are well acquainted. In prep school he trampled on my heart then kept right on going.

Now, he’s living the high life with frat parties and puck bunnies at Hawthorne University. On the other hand, people barely notice me—unless I’m on stage taking my clothes off. I’m the nobody, surviving in the seedy part of town as I fight to keep my head above treacherous waters.

I’ve snubbed him for three years.

The avoidance game we’ve been playing was working—until he rescues me from a bad guy and claims he wants to help me more.

Hello. I don’t need a knight in shining armor. This girl saves herself.

Yet, I’m not sure how long I can ignore the undeniable spark between us. (It’s not even a spark; it’s a full-fledged, blazing fire.)

Can this hockey player prove he’s boyfriend material, or will our past get in the way?

This steamy romance is perfect for fans of enemies-to-lovers or second-chances. Boyfriend Material is a new adult college romance.

Reserve your copy today!
Amazon: https://amzn.to/3mD2FjK
Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/boyfriendmaterialIMM

Keep reading for a sneak peek inside Boyfriend Material!

Prologue
Before

Julia

Meet me at my locker. Can’t wait to c u.
OK, I reply back to the text with a grin.
Five minutes later the bell rings, and I hand in my essay and dash out of class. A sea of maroon and green uniforms greet me in the hallway, girls in crisp pleated skirts and knee socks, guys in khakis and blazers. Welcome to Bellemeade Prep, a private school for the rich.
I avoid a cluster of students, stumbling and nearly losing my backpack as I hurry. Giddiness races over me, and for a second, I feel goofy for the excitement, then shove it away.
He’s a piece of nirvana in a world I don’t belong in.
It’s okay to feel as if I’m floating.
I’m in love with him.
And today is the day.
We’re going to do it.
It’s been weeks of hot glances, erotic kisses, and his fingers in my panties in every private place we could find. The gym. The drama room. The yearbook room. Once in the cafeteria while I sat in his lap with a coat over my skirt.
The crowd parts and I see him leaning against his locker.
My breath catches.
Dark red hair frames a face that angels carved. Angular jawline, lush lips, piercing topaz eyes.
His lashes are long and dark and dramatically thick.
He’s not a pale redhead. His skin is golden. Like a lion.
He could have any girl here.
I’m not the pretty cheerleader.
Or the social butterfly.
Or rich.
“Hey, gorgeous. Finally.” He smiles as he curls his arms around my waist and gazes soulfully into my eyes.
“Hey,” I breathe.
“School’s over. Wanna go take a ride in the Aston Martin? We can put the top down and go wherever you want.” His eyes lower. “Do anything you want.”
I don’t even have to think about it. “Okay.”
His fingers playfully untie the black ribbon around the neck of my shirt. He tugs it off, then unbuttons the top two buttons. His hand snakes in and presses against my sternum as we move closer and breathe each other in. We need to touch each other. It’s been this way since he sat next to me in poetry class after Christmas.
He dips his head to my neck, then bites my ear. “I want to fuck you in that car.”
I gasp as tingles erupt over my skin.
I’m new to this school, but I’ve heard the rumors about him. That he’s the king of breakups. That he has sex with girls, then moves on.
But they don’t know him like I do.
He’s perfect boyfriend material . . .

Add to Goodreads: https://bit.ly/38ddqFU

About Ilsa Madden-Mills
Wall Street Journal, New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Ilsa Madden-Mills is best known for her angsty new adult romances and romantic comedies.

Eight of her eleven novels have placed in the Amazon Top 10 Best-seller List: Dirty English #1; Fake Fiancée and I Dare You #2; I Bet You, Filthy English, and Very Bad Things #6; Boyfriend Bargain #8; The Last Guy, her collaboration with Tia Louise, #4.

A former high school English teacher, she adores all things Pride and Prejudice, and of course, Mr. Darcy is her ultimate hero.

She’s addicted to frothy coffee beverages, cheesy magnets, and any book featuring unicorns and sword-wielding females. Feel free to stalk her online.

Connect with Ilsa
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Sneak Peak

Sneak Peek: My Better Life by Sarah Ready

She may be the girl of his dreams but he can’t remember.

My Better Life, a fun and flirty fish-out-of-water romantic comedy from author Sarah Ready is coming July 19th, and we have your first look!

When East Coast elite and wealthy bachelor Gavin Williams wakes up in a rural West Virginia hospital, he doesn’t remember who he is or where he’s from.
He doesn’t remember his heiress fiancée, his luxury homes, his exotic travels, or his private plane.
And he especially doesn’t remember insulting local country-girl and fiery redhead Jamie Sutton, smashing her dreams, and leaving her in a pinch.
So when a redhead in overalls stands over his hospital bed and convincingly tells him he loves banjos, hound dogs, and rustling chickens, what’s he supposed to do?
Suddenly Gavin is scrambling to fit into a country life that doesn’t feel familiar and that can’t possibly be his. A wife? Kids? A chicken coop?
His life is full of holes and secrets, desires and dreams, and as Gavin learns more he begins to wonder—will he ever remember? And what happens when he does?

Pre-order your copy today!
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Keep reading for a sneak peek of My Better Life!

“Who the devil are you?”
When Gavin was sad and pleading, like Elijah when he begs to go out and play baseball instead of doing his homework, I sorta felt sorry for him. But now, he’s looking at me like I’m a diseased rat that somehow, incomprehensibly ended up in his pristine world, and all my feeling sorry evaporates.
I stiffen, because honestly, I do have some pride.
“You have two seconds to answer me, or I’m calling the police.”
Not for nothing, but “the police” is Daryl Jones, my second cousin. That’s not going to help Gavin. All it’ll do is embarrass me. Daryl will get a good laugh out of this.
Gavin pulls a phone out of his pocket and holds it up threateningly.
“Tell me your name and what you’re doing lurking in my home.”
Slowly, I stand. I don’t want to startle him after all. When I do, he gets a good look at my dirty overalls, my roughed up boots, and my frizzy hair. His eyes widen and his nostrils flare. I get the impression he just got his first whiff of ol’ Billy.
I really should’ve taken a shower.
I would’ve if I’d known this was going to happen.
“My word, she’s a squatter. I’ve got a squatter in my home.” His jaw hardens and he thrusts his hand toward the open door. “Out. Get out.” He motions at me like I’m some mangy stray.
“Hey!” I put my hand on my hips. “I’m not a squatter. I’m Jamie Sutton.”
He stares at me, his expression uncomprehending. “What did you say?”
I blow out a long breath, the hot air stirring the hair sticking out from my braid.
“I said,” I annunciate and talk real slow for him, “I’m not a squatter. I’m Jamie Sutton.”
He shakes his head like he still doesn’t understand and then he takes slow, careful steps toward me, like he expects some loony behavior on my part. When he’s only a few feet away, he wrinkles his nose and looks at me with utter distaste.
“I don’t know what jammy sudden is, but I want you to remove your person from my home.”
Oh lordy. He can’t understand plain English.
“Jamie Sutton,” I say slowly pointing at myself.
He stares at me, uncomprehending. No wonder the fairy princess left him. He’s gorgeous, but his head is full of rocks. And he has a temper. I know it, because he steps forward and grabs my arm, his fingers hot and calloused.
“That’s it. If you won’t get out, I’ll take you out.” Want more? Continue reading here > https://bit.ly/3QYfNhr

Add to Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3alPKji

About Sarah Ready
Author Sarah Ready writes contemporary romance and romantic comedy. Her books have been described as “euphoric”, “heartwarming” and “laugh out loud”. Her debut novel The Fall in Love Checklist was hailed as “the unicorn read of 2020”. She loves to write fast-paced, emotionally compelling romances about quirky, smart women and the men who love them.

Before writing romance full-time Sarah had lots of fun teaching at an Ivy League. Then she realized she could have even more fun writing romance. Her favorite things after writing are adventuring and travel. You’ll frequently find her using her degree at a dino dig site, crawling into a cave, snorkeling, or on horseback riding through the jungle – all fodder for her next book. She’s lived in Scotland, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland and NYC. She currently lives in the Caribbean with her water-obsessed pup and her awesome family.
You can visit her online at www.sarahready.com

Connect with Sarah
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2PVEe4j
Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3wt7D6B
BookBub: https://bit.ly/3wtATKA
Website: http://sarahready.com/
Stay up to date with all the things and subscribe to Sarah’s mailing list: https://bit.ly/3sWxUbe

Sneak Peak

Sneak Peek: Hidden Waters by Catherine Cowles

The peace they both crave they’ll find in each other.

Hidden Waters, an all-new emotional, roommates and friends to lovers, small-town romance from bestselling author Catherine Cowles is coming June 21st, and we have your first look!

Prologue

Addie

PAST

“Cecily!” My father’s voice bellowed through our ranch house. I swore the force of his words shook the beam above our heads.

Mom pulled her hands from the dough she was kneading and wiped them on her apron. “Scamper, Little Mouse.”

The familiar code made my stomach cramp and palms dampen. How many times had she drilled it into my head? “Scamper, Little Mouse. Find a nook to hide, just like a tiny mouse would.”

I bit my lip, shaking my head. “I want to stay with you.”

“Cecily! Where are you?”

“I’m in the kitchen, Allen. Just making your favorite biscuits for dinner.” She pushed me towards the back door, her hands warm and soothing but forceful. “Go, Little Mouse.”

I opened my mouth to try another argument, but her sharp look had me snapping it shut. The door closed quietly behind me. Mom knew better than to advertise that someone had made an escape.

I stepped to the side of the door and pressed my back to the siding of the house. I held my breath as I waited. Dad’s footsteps pounded against the floor. I watched the back step tremble with the force of them as though we were having our own little earthquake. One that only reached our house.

“John said you left today. Without me.”

I knew the words came through gritted teeth. I could picture my dad—the set of his jaw, the clench of his fists. The red that crept up the back of his neck.

“We were out of baking soda, and I knew you wanted biscuits with dinner. You were out all day. So, I took Addie into town with me.” Mom’s voice was soft, but it didn’t waver.

“Adaline should be home like her mother. She needs to learn how to tend this house so she’ll make a good wife one day. But I can’t imagine that’s possible with you teaching her.”

I pressed my hands harder into the wood of the house, splintered pieces embedding in my palms. I fought the urge to run inside. To tell him to shut up. It would only make things worse.

“I wanted to make sure you had what you wanted for dinner.” Mom’s voice sounded defeated, almost as if she’d given up.

“Then you should’ve planned ahead. Checked our pantry before I took you to the store on Sunday.”

“I’m sorry, Allen.”

There was silence for a moment, and I could picture Dad staring at her. Sometimes, he prowled around her like a jungle cat, looking for any signs of weakness.

“Tell me the truth. Were you going to meet a man?”

Mom let out a small gasp. “No. I would never. You know that.”

“Lies. I see the way you flirt with the ranch hands.”

I went up on my tiptoes, craning my head to get a glimpse inside. My stomach knotted as I took them in. Dad had grabbed Mom by the collar of her dress, pushing her against the refrigerator.

“I don’t. I would never disrespect you that way.”

“Bullshit.” He hauled back, slapping her so hard she crumpled to the floor.

A small sound escaped my lips, a panicked, keening noise. Dad’s head snapped around as he looked for the source of the sound. I took off running. My legs pumped hard as I cut across the back field towards the woods.

Our ranch butted up to national forest land. Those trees were my refuge and solace, the only safe place I’d ever known. I pushed my muscles harder, even once I’d reached the shelter of the woods.

My lungs burned as I dodged tall pines and fallen logs. Tears streamed down my face as the guilt grabbed hold. How could I have left her? I’d learned the hard way that it would be worse for us both if I stepped in. Still, I should’ve stayed close.

My run slowed to a walk as I wrapped my arms around my waist. I followed an invisible path I knew by heart and sent up a silent prayer for my mom’s protection. But I wasn’t sure that God heard me. If He did, He’d remained silent in response so far. I prayed harder, pleading and begging—for safety and for freedom.

My muscles burned as the path moved into the foothills of the mountains. The sound of rushing water teased my ears—it only made my tears come harder. This was the place that my mom had shown me, the one we’d bring a picnic to in summer or hike out to in our snow boots in winter.

I stepped out of the trees and took in the waterfall. The crashing of the water onto the rocks below reminded me that there were forces more powerful than me in the world. More mighty even than my father and his fists. I only wished I could channel them to take him on.

“Addie?”

My head jerked in the direction of the voice, my heart hammering against my ribs. I let out a shaky breath as I took in my cousin. “Evie.”

She strode towards me quickly, her horse, Storm, grazing by the edge of the pool of water. She framed my face with her hands and then pulled me into a hug. “What happened?”

“I-I’m okay. Dad hurt Mom.” My voice cracked on my words, and the tears continued to fall.

Everly hugged me tighter. “I’d like to kick his sorry ass.”

“Evie.”

She was so much braver than I was. So much fiercer. Never afraid to stand up to anyone, even her jerk of a brother or her dad when he was in one of his moods.

“Maybe we could poison him. There’s some rat poison at my house. We can grind it up and put it in his sweet tea.”

My hands fisted in her sweatshirt. “You can’t.”

Everly pulled back. “Why not? He shouldn’t be able to do what he’s doing to you and Aunt Cecily.” She bit her bottom lip. “Mom says we can’t interfere.”

No one wanted to interfere. I knew the neighbors saw Mom’s bruises, but they never said a word.

Everly’s fingers dug into my shoulders. “We could run away. We can gather our things, and I’ll bring Storm to pick you up. We could live off the land. We know how.”

Sure, our mothers had taught us what plants were safe to eat, how to build traps and shelter, but how long would we really last? I swallowed against the burn in my throat. “I’m going to talk to Mom. I’ll ask her to run away. We could steal one of the cars. Maybe we could take you and your mom, too.”

A look of longing passed over Everly’s face. “She’ll never leave. Dad doesn’t hit her or us. He’s just…”

Her words trailed off, but I knew what she meant. At times, it seemed as if Uncle Howard’s brain didn’t work right—he was always sure that the whole world was out to get him.

Everly’s fingers tightened on my shoulders. “But if you get a chance to be free, take it.” She gave me a wobbly smile. “You and I could go to college together.”

“Yeah.” College was a million years away. What I wanted more than anything in the meantime was to go to school. To have a real teacher and a classroom.

A crack of thunder sounded, and I looked at the sky. Dark storm clouds had rolled in, and a drop of rain splashed on my forehead. “You should go. You don’t want to get caught out in this on horseback.”

Everly looked back at Storm, who pawed at the dirt. “What about you? Want to come with me to my house? Storm can carry us both.”

I shook my head. “It’ll just make him madder. I’ll wait here for a little bit and then go back.”

Her jaw clenched. “You sure?”

“I’ll be fine.” I just hoped the same would be true for my mom.

“Okay. Let’s meet here for lunch tomorrow. Twelve-thirty?”

“I’ll be here.”

She pulled me into a tight hug. “Love you, Addie.”

“Love you, too.”

Everly released me and mounted Storm, giving me a wave as the skies opened. She kicked Storm into a canter as she rode away, headed down a path that would take her around and up the mountains to her house.

Rain peppered my skin. I hadn’t planned on this little adventure, and I was only wearing a t-shirt and jeans. I hurried for cover, but the trees could only give me so much.

The wind howled, sending the rain sideways and a chill rocketing through me. I’d just stay for a little while longer, enough time for Dad’s temper to cool. Only I didn’t think forever was long enough for that.

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My family tried to break me. But, somehow, I made it out alive, even though the wounds from that survival are forever carved into my bones. Now, my only wish is for…normal. To know what it’s like to have friends, a job, a home.

The last thing I want is for my new roommate to see the scars I’m so desperate to keep hidden, especially not the ruggedly handsome man who steals my breath and sends my heart into overdrive.

But something tells me that Beckett has demons, too. I see it in the shadows haunting his gorgeous eyes and the way he looks at me with gentle understanding.

As our unlikely friendship becomes so much more, forces from my life slink out of the shadows. And we could both lose everything we’ve fought so hard for—down to our very last breaths…

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About Catherine Cowles
Writer of words. Drinker of Diet Cokes. Lover of all things cute and furry, especially her dog. Catherine has had her nose in a book since the time she could read and finally decided to write down some of her own stories. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring her home state of Oregon, listening to true crime podcasts, or searching for her next book boyfriend.

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Sneak Peak

Sneak Peek: Make Me by C.D. Reiss

Make Me, the anticipated second book in the sexy, addictive, and thrilling Manhattan Mafia series from New York Times bestselling author C.D. Reiss is releasing May 31st, and we have your first look inside!

I stole her and kept her under my command, forced her to obey me, and bent her will over my knee.

She’s been my weapon, my captive, and my toy.

The first time I broke her, I did it for revenge.

The second time . . . for pleasure.

This time, she’s breaking because I’m a liar.

I showed her that her life is a lie, but she’s showing me that I haven’t been living in a truth either.

Now we’re being hunted like animals, and she’s the only one who understands the forces aligned against us.

I thought she was a foolish, weak little sheep, but she’s as shrewd as a fox.
She’s not a pawn to be pushed around the board, but a wartime queen.

I will do whatever it takes to protect her, even if she starts a war to get away from me.

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Keep reading for a sneak peek!


“You’re really talking about a truce?”
“Call it what you want.”
“Fucking hell.” He laughs to himself. “You aren’t the same guy since you took my sister.”
I’m not. The Dario Lucari who lived the hour before he took Sarah had sold his soul to destroy the Colonia. This is my last chance to buy it back for her.
“I’m offering an end to all of this.”
“You started this war, and now you’re offering to stop it? Like it’s a bargain? And my sister? Remember her? She’s part of the deal.”
I expected him to try this trade, but it still pisses me off. “We’ll disappear. We’ll leave New York. That’s all you get out of me.”
“Why would we do that?” He looks into the tunnel. The light is dim yellow and the air curls unpredictably, catching wrappers and plastic bags in looping whirlwinds—only to casually drop them on the tracks. “For what? We don’t want peace. That’s not some prize. We want you strung up like a side of beef, and we want Sarah back.”
“She’s better off with me and you know it.” I wasn’t sure if he knew that until I see his reaction. He knows. He just doesn’t care. “You want to fight for her, you’re going to have a fight. But then what? Drag her home? To do what with her? Turn her out like a whore? Or slice her up and sell her?”
His flinch is slight and as fast as a blink, but it tells me there are things the Colonia do that he doesn’t like thinking about. He was born human and raised to be an animal. Now he’s trying hard to die an animal. But the real him—the human—keeps slipping out. He’s a soft touch, a reformer, and too much of a coward to change anything before his father is out of the picture.
“We can’t let you live.” His voice is partially drowned out by a warm wind from behind him. A nearly empty train arrives on the opposite platform. “Your deal is bullshit, and it sucks.”
We say nothing for a moment, while the doors open. He hides his anxiety. I hide my regrets.
Say you want peace, Massimo. All you have to do is want it.
Mr. Post doesn’t get on the train.
Revenge is exhausting. It takes up too much mental real estate. Too much time. Too much love. I need all of it for something else.
The conductor’s voice gurgles, and with a double beep, the doors slap closed.
We’re just two men talking.
Wind gusts from behind me. Train on our side.
“I’m not coming to you with another deal.” I shrug, offering to clean up a mess I made.
Massimo’s sneer tells me the discount on salvation won’t result in a sale. “Without Sarah, there’s no deal.”
“You can’t have her. Ever. She’s mine.”

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About CD Reiss
CD Reiss is a New York Times bestseller. She still has to chop wood and carry water, which was buried in the fine print. Her lawyer is working it out with God but in the meantime, if you call and she doesn’t pick up she’s at the well hauling buckets.
Born in New York City, she moved to Hollywood, California to get her master’s degree in screenwriting from USC. In case you want to know, that went nowhere but it did give her a big enough ego to write novels.
She’s frequently referred to as the Shakespeare of Smut which is flattering but hasn’t ever gotten her out of chopping that cord of wood.
If you meet her in person, you should call her Christine.

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Sneak Peak

Sneak Peek: Influenced by Kelsey Clayton

Welcome to the Swype House,
where the secrets are bigger than the…

Influenced, an all-new enemies-to-lovers rom-com standalone from USA Today bestselling author Kelsey Clayton is coming June 10th, and we have the FIRST look!

From USA Today bestselling author Kelsey Clayton comes an addictive, laugh out loud romcom that will have you falling in love with more than just the main characters.

Welcome to the Swype House,
where the secrets are bigger than the…

The rules are simple:
Fake it for the cameras.
Do it for the views.
Don’t kill each other.

It felt like an easy yes when I was invited to change my bio from, “Kaia Blakely, college student,” to “Kaia Blakely, newest influencer at the Swype House.”

Then I met Declan Royce. His profile highlights his looks and his humor, but it ought to read, “Owner of an ego so large, it was given its own zip code.”

Suddenly, not killing each other feels like an impossible task.

So yes, it was death threats we were whispering in the background of that viral video, not sweet nothings. So no, there’s zero reason to keep the #Kailan hashtag trending.

Except that it’s our job. So it looks like we’re adding another rule to the list:

Don’t let anyone find out the truth.

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Meet Kelsey
Kelsey Clayton is a USA Today bestselling author of Contemporary Romance novels. She lives in a small town in Delaware with her husband, two kids, and dog.
She is an avid reader of fall hard romance. She believes that books are the best escape you can find, and that if you feel a range of emotions while reading her stories – she succeeded. She loves writing and is only getting started on this life long journey.
Kelsey likes to keep things in her life simple. Her ideal night is one with sweatpants, a fluffy blanket, cheese fries, and wine. She holds her friends and family close to her heart and would do just about anything to make them happy.

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Sneak Peak

He’s a Keeper by Stacy Travis

Drunk-texting a grumpy soccer star?
Best worst decision of my life.

He’s a Keeper, a grumpy sunshine sports romance from Stacy Travis is coming May 24th, and we have your first look inside!

Especially when the player is the sinfully handsome, foul-mouthed Holden Sanders… my new library assistant.

The benched bad boy needed an image makeover, I needed to save my job, and his star status was just what the library ordered to raise awareness for our fundraising campaign. The press can’t get enough of Mr. Growly reading to kids.

It’s win-win and completely platonic.

Until I need a shoulder to cry on after drowning my heartbreak in too many margaritas. I only typed that invitation to his brawny biceps and perfect pectorals for fun–I never meant to hit send. Holden isn’t the kind of guy to care about tears and feelings, least of all mine. He’s made it clear good girls aren’t his type.

But he shows up–with his strapping shoulder, a box of tissues and a supersized bag of Doritos.

That’s when I realize there’s more to him than meets the eye.

One soulful, smoldering mistake of a kiss has me craving more, and the heat between us quickly builds to a blaze neither of us can control.

But I’m not the only one guarding secrets, and Holden’s might push us to the breaking point.

Even if I’m surrounded by books, I know better than to believe in storybook endings.

And yet, I want to believe… Because I know he’s a keeper.

He’s a Keeper is a standalone sports romance in the San Francisco Strikers series with a HEA.

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Keep reading for a sneak peek inside He’s a Keeper!

Molly

When I reach the glass doors, I expect to see the irritable man outside scrolling on his phone or, if he really doesn’t understand the rules, walking to his car.
But he’s nowhere. Glancing back, I see Seth dutifully walking toward the story area, his shoulders hunched like I’ve sent him to the gallows. Still, he’s going. That gives me a couple minutes to track this man down. I should’ve asked his daughter for his name so I could yell it.
The library is a one-story building on a corner. A small square of grass sits on each side of the front walkway, which leads to the sidewalk where the city hasn’t trimmed the overgrown trees in years. The result is patchy brown areas where the grass doesn’t get enough sun and trees that block out the sky in places.
I head around the side of the building to where the tiny parking lot only has room for a handful of cars. My fugitive stands with a pair of preteen boys each holding a skateboard under one arm. All three stare up at one of the trees.
From my vantage point, I can’t see much except a whisp of what looks like orange fur on a high branch. The boys are doing their best to mask their nerves with a façade of bravado.
“Dude, you do it. I have a basketball tourney this weekend and my dad’ll kill me if I get injured,” one of the boys says, dropping his skateboard and stepping on one end so it flips back into his hand.
The other boy, who has a shock of blond hair, tosses his board onto the grass and cranes his neck toward the ball of fur in the tree. “Nah, he’s really high up. Dude, if he falls and dies, it’s totally your fault for letting him out.”
“I didn’t let him out. He ran out before I saw him.”
“Whatever. You were the one who opened the door.”
“You’re the one with a cat who’s too dumb to stay in the house.”
“Not. Helping,” the man scolds, turning his baseball cap around so the brim hangs over the back of his hair. Now I can see his eyes, though with the way he’s squinting at the tree, I can’t tell their color, just that they sit under aggravated brows.
It’s also crystal clear that my initial take on him was spot on—he’s so good-looking that he uses it as a hall pass to be a jerk. Even his stance, with his arms folded so his biceps pop and his shoulders pull at the fabric of his shirt, shows anyone within viewing distance that he knows what to do with hundred-pound barbells. And he does it.
“I don’t want him to die.” The blond boy wipes his sweaty palms on his jeans and takes a few steps closer to the tree, surveying the climb.
“He’s not going to die. Cats are ninety-five percent tiger. They have eighteen toes. They’re built for climbing,” the man says. “Plus, they have double the neurons in their cerebral cortex as dogs. They’re smart. Your cat’s only climbing as high as it’s safe.”
It’s like dinner theater seeing this brawny dude with the bad attitude rhapsodize about cats. I can’t tear myself away.
Suddenly, he jumps up and grabs the lowest tree branch and executes the most manly pullup, biceps rippling, as he hurls himself vertically, ending up in a squat on top of the fat horizontal branch. The legs of his jeans stretch taut over his thighs, and he balances like some kind of ninja. From there, he reaches for another branch overhead and does the same.
It’s like Tarzan with a zoology degree.
I inch a little closer to get a better view. The boys are fixated on him and don’t notice me until I whisper a question. “Do you know that man?”
“Nah, he’s just some dude who walked out here,” says the blond boy. “I hope he’s got extra toes too.”
“You know an awful lot about cats,” I call up to him.
From the way he flinches, he had no idea I was there. Holding on to a tree branch, he stuffs his other hand into his pocket and looks back at the cat, who’s taken the momentary distraction to scramble higher up the branch. “I almost fucking had it.”
“Hey. Children are present.” I put my hands over my ears to demonstrate, stuck in my library lady persona because, as I said, I’m bad with kids.
“Are you one of them, Mary?” He smirks. It’s not a bad look on him because it slightly looks like a smile. Except that the upturned corner of his mouth makes me want to punch it. And why’s he calling me Mary when I introduced myself to the group right before he left?
“Hardly.” I square my shoulders as though I need to prove to him that I’m not a child, which seems childish and makes me want to punch him again. “Anyhow, you can’t be out here.”
“I have no idea what that means,” he growls, stepping further along the branch, which looks flimsy under his weight.
He’s nearly twenty feet in the air and pretty close to the orange and white cat, which is no bigger than a grapefruit. It sits perched on a high branch meowing like it’s singing opera. Cute little thing.
I don’t have pets. It kind of goes along with my fear-of-kids thing. I worry the responsibility of caring for a pet might be more than I can handle. What if I forget to feed it for a week? What if I let it escape and it ends up in a tree?
But this cat has fate on its side because Tarzan scoops the small thing into his hand and tucks it into his chest. From the way his head is bent toward the cat, I can tell he’s talking to it.
Using his free hand, he deftly slips down to a lower branch and balances on it while he surveys the best path down. Lowering into a squat, he calls out to the boys. “You said you play basketball, yeah?”
“Sure,” one of the boys says.
“You’re going to catch this kitten like it’s a buzzer beater from downtown. You miss, you lose. Ready?”
The boys ready themselves, hands open, squatting like the ballers they want to be. “Ready. I’m open!” the blond boy yells, instantly in game mode.
The man drops the furry, striped body to where the boy grasps it surely in his hands. He scruffs it under the collar and tucks it under one arm while he and his buddy grab their skateboards.
“Thanks, man. You saved my bacon,” the blond one says.
As he swings from the lowest branch and lands in front of the boys, the man is already brushing off their appreciation. “You never have to worry about cats. They’re climbers. He’d have come down on his own, so if he does it again, wait him out. Don’t break a bone. Speaking of that, cats have more bones than people. They’re just small.” He spouts all this information sounding irritable and inconvenienced, as if anyone asked for an encyclopedia entry on cats.
“Cool, good to know.” The boys mount their skateboards and thank him again as he brushes some stray pieces of bark from the sleeves of his shirt.
Then his gaze locks on mine, and I notice the hardness in his steely gray eyes which have dark rims that look like they were drawn with charcoal pencil. They’re pretty but unyielding.
He stares at me like I’m the one who isn’t where I’m supposed to be.
“I need you to come back inside,” I say again. His eyes roam over me from head to toe and back again. He makes no attempt to hide his slow perusal of my form, and I feel a flutter in my belly that irritates me because I don’t want to react to him. I fold my arms over my C-cup chest.
“I’m sorry?” He cocks his head to the side like a dog who only hears words but doesn’t know what they mean.
“You need to stay in the library.”
“I don’t think there’s a law about leaving the library. Aren’t you the one who’s supposed to be inside? Who’s reading to the kids, Mare?”
The kids—as though he isn’t the biggest child among them.
“My name’s not Mary.”
He shrugs.
What he doesn’t know is that I wrangle headstrong, hormonal teenage girls for a living, and if I can get them to work quietly, I can handle one unpleasant man-child. He doesn’t intimidate me. He does, however, beg me to spend a little more time staring at his strong jaw, even though he glares like he’s weighing the odds of murdering me and getting away with it.
I exhale a long breath, prepared to explain the rules, but my mind drifts to a subject that’s more intriguing. It’s not a problem when I’m alone, but when I’m having a conversation with someone, it can lead people to think I have focus issues.
Maybe I have focus issues.
Drifting back, I point at the man accusingly. “How do you know so much about cats? Are you a vet?”
He huffs a disbelieving breath, stuffing his hands deep into his pockets. “I have a cat.” His icy stare makes it seem like he’s unhappy about it.
“You have a cat?”
“I just said I did.”
I shake my head as if to knock the errant words from my ears because I can’t have heard him correctly. In no world does this tightly-wound grump take care of animals, unless he’s skinning them for their pelts. Which makes me worry for the safety of his cat. “You have a cat. As a pet?”
He squints his eyes, which causes the corners of them to crinkle, which seems strange until I realize they’re laugh lines that accompany another smirk. He observes me with his hands on his hips. “As opposed to…?”
“I don’t know, like maybe you’re planning to feed it to some larger animal. Do you also raise coyotes and watch them devour cats for sport?”
He mirrors my stance, and I can’t help but notice the bulge of his biceps when he crosses his arms. He looks sightly menacing, and I worry for a second that I’m poking a beast that’s best left alone. He shakes his head.
“I don’t know what kind of weird shit you’re snacking on behind the reference desk, but no, I’m not into torturing animals. Any other questions about my cat?”
“What’s its name?”
“Greta.”
“Huh.” Is it wrong that I expected him to have a male cat? I picture him with a surly tomcat who hunts for mice with him in the dark. “Greta,” I confirm.
“Garbo. She’s a European Shorthair. Swedish. I like old movies.”
A Tetris block drops into place. “The DVDs. You were renting oldies?” It happens that our branch has a big collection of classic films on DVD, and some people come from across the city for them.
His brow furrows. “What?”
“A couple weeks ago. I ran into you?” What’s the use of pointing out that it wasn’t memorable? “Never mind. But if you’re a Garbo fan, I feel compelled to admit I always liked Romance better than Camille. I know that’s controversial.” I glance to the side, thinking about the two movies. When my attention drifts back, he’s studying me like I’m an oddity.
I’m used to that look. Yes, I’m the library lady who likes books—and even movies—more than people.
It’s why I get a perverse thrill at hiding details about my life and letting people assume what they want. If I admitted to a one-night stand here or there, there’d be questions. Assumptions. Maybe even invitations to hang out after work with some of the male faculty at school. Easier to let people assume I’m a sunshiny little hermit on my way to becoming a spinster.
What people think is irrelevant, which is why it surprises me when this guy picks up my conversational tangent like it’s normal. “Camille might be a tad overrated. I agree there. But Romance isn’t my favorite.”
“Which is your favorite?” I’m here for the talk about old movies. I kind of love it.
“The Kiss.” His gray eyes boring into mine until I can’t take the weight of his stare any longer and look away. I feel the heat rise in my cheeks and prickles of warmth crawl up the back of my neck. Must be hot out here.
When I recover my composure and look at him, he’s smirking like he knows the effect he has on me. “Anyhow, I gotta go.” He starts walking toward the parking lot, forcing me to move quickly to keep pace with his long stride.
“Oh. No. No, no, no. We have to go back. You need to stay inside the library.”
“Why?”
“Because it’s a rule. Parents stay.”
We reach the parking lot and he stops by the door of a sleek-looking Porsche. I half expect him to speed away without finishing the conversation, but he doesn’t pop the locks. “I’m not a parent. I’m here with my niece. We’re bonding.” His grimace and the irritated tone of his voice makes bonding sound as much fun as being stapled naked to a tree.
“It doesn’t matter. You’re her guardian. Parents, guardians, nannies, babysitters, uncles—all of those people need to stay if they bring a kid to the library. It’s not daycare.”
“Not my rule.”
Pressing his lips together, he glares at me like I’m a gnat he’d like to flick away. I offer him my most meaningful stare, which is challenging as my traitorous body cranks up the heat again when he looks at me – to say nothing about my pounding heart.
Stop it. He’s just a man. A normal human man.
Okay, he’s not normal. He’s spectacular, gorgeous, stunning—all the adjectives. But still, just a man. The wind chooses this moment to kick up behind me, pushing a bunch of flyaway strands out of my ponytail and into my face like runaway tumbleweeds, so for a moment, I can’t see if he’s decided to make a break for the fancy, fast car.
“Be a better guy than that.”
Something in his eyes shifts, softens, if only slightly. “Fine,” he says, turning back toward the library. “Not like I have any place to be.” I catch the sarcasm in his tone and the view of his broad shoulders as he swaggers back toward the door.
“It’s one hour. I’m sure you’ll manage. It’ll give you more bonding time, and if you really can’t stand it, the place is full of books. Maybe you’ll find a new favorite author.” I can’t help the brightness of my tone. I love books.
“I said it was fine,” he says over his shoulder, but his fierce, sweeping stride makes it clear he dislikes my terms. He walks ahead of me, so I’m forced to keep pace if I want to see his face, which is marked by a resigned lack of enthusiasm.
“What’s your name?” I ask.
“Holden.”
I extend my hand, which he grips firmly before dropping it. I swallow hard when I feel an electric zing of pleasure erupt over my skin at his touch. Infuriating, traitorous skin.
“Nice to meet you. I’m Molly.” It’s not particularly nice, but I’m not about to alienate one of the few people at the library. I need about twenty more of him.
“Molly, huh? Given your whole spoonful of sugar vibe, I could’ve sworn it was Mary.”
“Nope, Molly.” I ignore the Mary Poppins reference. He thinks he’s so original.
He stares me down. “Okay, Mare. I mean, Molly.” He says my name slowly like it sticks in his throat. Charmer.

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About Stacy Travis
It’s a rough world out there, and we all sometimes need a good, romantic beach read, even if we can’t make it to the beach. I’ve spent many lazy days walking the streets of Paris and other gorgeous European cities, and if I’m doing it right, I’m bringing you a dash of romance and a vacay fantasy.
I can’t sit still, so when I’m not hiking, biking or running, I’m playing a very average game of tennis. Background music for writing undoubtedly features some U2, Lizzo, Billy Joel, Pink, Taylor Swift, and Led Zeppelin. Not necessarily in that order. And if I could only eat one food group, it would be cheese. Or wine. Or bread. Are those food groups? Whatever.

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