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Saturday, July 11, 2020

Audiobookworm Presents: Withstanding The Enemy by T.L. Mahrt; #Audiobook #BlogTour, #NowAvailable, #OutNow, #TBR, #Live, #Review



Author: T.L. Mahrt
Narrator: Nyamukandawiri
Length: 8 hours 20 minutes
Series: With Emma, Book 1
Publisher: Traci Hansen
Released: Feb. 19, 2020
Genre: Romance, Suspense Romance
Trigger Warnings: Mid violence, domestic assault and heavy sexual content. Profanity language used. 
Rating: 4 Stars
Told in the first person. Alternating persons.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by T. L. Mahrt. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.



IndieSage PR Presents: Essence Of Fear by Bethany-Kris; #BlogTour, #NowAvailable, #OutNow, #TBR, #Live, #Giveaway


ESSENCE OF FEAR
by Bethany-Kris
A Boykov Bratva Novel
Publication Date: June 22, 2020
Genres: Adult, Romantic Suspense, Organized Crime, 
Erotic Romance, Standalone
#KU #EssenceofFear #BoykovBratva #OrganizedCrime #MafiaRomance #BethanyKris #RussianMafia




The allure of fear is learning to love it.
Viktoria Boykov has heard it all—cold they call her. The spoiled bratva princess. She knows very well what people say when her back is turned. She doesn’t mind; let them talk. It’s better for people to assume what they want about her than for them to know the truth … until him.
Pavel Kotov knows what people say—death they call him. The Boykov dog. He’s heard all the whispers locked away in the cells of the Compound. As the reaper for the bratva, his life owned by someone else, he knows what they say doesn’t matter. His life has never mattered … until her.
He’s terrifying.
She’s terrified.
Viktoria only wants to keep running from her past. Pavel doesn’t have a life to run from. Freedom is the one thing they both crave—for entirely different reasons. But this life is vicious, and scars like the ones they wear will never fade.
Together, they could have everything.
Or are they just pawns to a bigger game?

*

Note: Essence of Fear is a Boykov Bratva standalone.





EXCERPT:

He looks like he has no idea what he’s doing
It kind of shocked her that her initial reaction was not to keep walking; to pretend like she hadn’t seen Pavel at all, and go about her day. It wasn’t like on any other day she would stop to admire some strange man alone in a grocery aisle. 
Oh, the nerves were present. The anxiety thrummed deep and the fear teased at her senses. Still, she watched him. 
He put one card back, and then picked another out from the top row. Flipping it over, he read something on the back, and his brow dipped in the cutest way. The week before, when she had done his tattoos, he’d been wearing black jeans that molded to his ass and thighs, a plain black tee, and a leather jacket. He had the same wardrobe today, except the tee was white. 
She wondered why in the hell he was here—she knew about the elusive Zhatka. Reaper, they called him. Sure, she hadn’t known his face, and that he was the one they talked about when the name Zhatka passed their lips. But she’d heard about him. She’d heard the whispers; the ones that said he was owned by the Boykovs and hadn’t left the Compound’s property in years. 
She knew he was dangerous. 
She heard those whispers, too. 
Was it all true? 
If it was, the last thing she should want to do was head down the aisle and ask him if he needed help because he looked like he had never seen a greeting card before in his life. Another war started in her head—leave or go, basically. She had just decided to keep going when all at once, Pav lifted his head and looked her way. His gaze landed on her, and she swore there wasn’t even a hint of surprise when he looked at her. 
Like he knew. 
She’d been there the whole time. 
Well, there goes leaving
She could leave, actually. She could go without saying hello. She never cared before if someone thought she was a bitch because she looked them right in the face one second, and then walked away from them without any kind of acknowledgment in the next. 
Still, her legs worked on their own accord. Before she knew what was happening, she had turned her cart and headed down the aisle toward Pav. Something akin to a smile curved the edges of his lips, but she couldn’t be sure if that’s truly what it was. It looked slightly darker, and far sexier than just a smile. She didn’t know if he meant for it to come across like that, but it did. 
That was even more problematic for her. 
This man terrified her. 
She didn’t need him turning her on, too. 
Yep, she was a mess
“Viktoria,” he greeted quietly. 
Now that she thought about it, his voice was kind of like his smile, too. Dark and husky. Yet, quiet and low at the same time. In all their conversations so far, she hadn’t once heard him raise his tone and he spoke just below a normal level when he did talk. 
Strange … 
And she liked it. 
“Pavel,” she returned, “you look a little lost.” 
He frowned and turned back to the card in his hand. “This is not suitable for a … generic congratulations, is it?” 
Pav held out the card for her to look at, and she did all she could do not to grin or God forbid, laugh at him. He seemed dead serious, and that just proved to her in a way that some of the whispers about him were probably true. 
He hadn’t been out of the Compound very much. 
How sad was that? 
“Unless you’re congratulating them for the death of a pet, then no,” she replied. 
Pav blinked, and quickly put the card back to the row. “Oh. I just picked ones that looked nice. I didn’t read the insides.” 
“Did you read the words on the outside?” 
He shrugged. “They’re platitudes. They don’t actually say anything, do they? Generic. Boring. Meaningless. They’ll be tossed in the garbage before the night is out, I assume. That’s what I would do with them if someone ever thought to buy me a card to congratulate me on something that was obvious.” 
She had no idea what to say to that. 
He wasn’t wrong, though. 
“What is the card for?” she asked. 
Pav hummed under his breath and eyed her from the side. “A party to celebrate something beautiful.” 
“So, you really do need a generic card?” 
“I suppose.” 
It took her all of three seconds to find a generic card with the usual congratulations stamped on the front, and the usual platitudes on the inside. She grabbed the matching envelop, and handed it over to Pav, too. He took them with the same smile as before. 
“There you are.” 
She turned to walk away, but it was his hand quickly curving around her wrist that stopped her. She froze all over, and a small tremor worked its way through her sinew. Air sucked fast and sharp into her lungs. 
At the same time, she enjoyed the warmth of his palm against his skin. She liked the way his fingers tightened against her skin, and the pressure of his fingertips pressing into her racing pulse point. There was no way to hide the way his touch both terrified her and confused her. 
Excited her
Viktoria looked back at Pav but said nothing. 
He quirked a brow. “I was going to say thank you.” 
She nodded. “You don’t have to.” 
Now, let me go
The words came out in her mind, but not out of her mouth. She wanted to say them, and she didn’t want to say them at the same time. 
How strange … 
Da. I was going to say it, but now I want to say something else.” 
Viktoria wet her bottom lip, muttering, “So, say whatever it is, then.” 
“You’re still scared of me?” 
She blinked. 
Her mouth worked, though. 
“Yes,” she whispered. 
“Why?” 
“The same reason that everyone else scares me, Pav.” 
He tipped his head to the side. “But do you approach them like you do me?” 
“No.” 
He nodded, and then let her go. 
Viktoria swallowed hard, pushing back her fear. “You know, you should get out of the Compound more often.” 
Pav’s gaze darted back to hers. “Why?” 
“You look good out in the light like everyone else.” 
Pretending to be normal. Acting like you fit in. Just like me
He did smile that time. 
Wide and beautiful. 
Sinful, even. 
She wondered if he could read her mind. 
Was that possible? 
“Except I’m not like everyone else, Viktoria.” 
She shrugged. “Yeah, me either.” 



ABOUT BETHANY-KRIS:



Bethany-Kris is a Canadian author, lover of much, and mother to four young sons, one cat, and two dogs. A small town in Eastern Canada where she was born and raised is where she has always called home. With her boys under her feet, snuggling cat, barking dogs, and a hubby calling over his shoulder, she is nearly always writing something … when she can find the time.
To keep up-to-date with new releases from Bethany-Kris, sign up to her New Release Newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/bf9lzD






Friday, July 10, 2020

Give Me Books Presents: Black Skies Riviera by Catherine Wiltcher; #ChapterReveal, #ComingSoon, #TBR, #PreOrder





Title: Black Skies Riviera
Author: Catherine Wiltcher
Genre: Mafia Romance
Release Date: July 28, 2020


Blurb:

They call this place the Billionaires’ Playground.
I, Aiden Knight, staked my claim the minute I arrived.
I crossed every line.
I painted their Rococo ceilings with blood. 
Now my casino is the hottest church in town,
And vice is the only confession required.
My house.
My rules.
Until the past comes calling with an offer I can’t refuse:  One week to seduce and break her.
All this for the name of the man who killed my father.

Issa Dubov is the queen of cloudy diamonds:
She’s a hard truth concealed beneath a pall of lies.
I’m an Armani black suit of spades:
Determined to bury both her and my demons.
I never asked to see the shape of her heart.
I never asked for her to fill the blank spaces of mine.  

But the mafia wants her secrets. 
I wasn’t the first she betrayed.
And Issa?
Sweet, not-so-innocent Issa?
She’s gone and left me with a debt no sinner can pay.


Pre-order Links:
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU




Chapter:

Have you ever noticed how the mesh bits in lace look like the intersecting bars of a prison cell?
I did. Five minutes ago. As I was sat on the edge of a strange bed in a strange room, in a strange wedding dress, with a strange perfume smothering my senses like a designer rag.
My fingers won’t stop playing with the delicate trim on the bodice. It’s as if I’m trying to find a weakness in the yarn so I can plan my escape.
It’s beautiful.
Beautifully oppressive.
It’s a Dorian Gray mirror gone askew. The material is stupidly fussy and over-detailed, and it makes me look about twenty years older than I am. Still, at least it covers the bruises…
“Come, Ielena. The car is waiting for you.”
Marie enters the room clapping briskly, as if the force and sound will unchain my heavy heart from the bed and propel me to my feet. Her face is a painted mask of encouragement, but it reminds me of a colombina I bought in Venice once. The initial dazzle concealed the flaws. The cracks in the porcelain grew wider and more obvious as the truth clawed its way to the surface.
That was the day I learned that nothing is what it seems.
Marie’s claps grow louder in my ears. “Up! Up, lazy girl!
What are you waiting for?”
A knight on a white horse?
A miracle?
Reluctantly, I stand for her inspection. I’m not sure when or how Marie first entered my father’s life, but her presence is more front-and-center than my mother's these days.
I loathe her.
She's brittle and calculating, and our relationship is a Ping-Pong match of mutual hostility. Unfortunately, since Karina disappeared, Marie’s winning most of the shots. She’s subtle about it, though. Her words are well-fed piranhas. They’ll take tiny bites here and there, leaving me stung and permanently unsettled.
She stops in front of me, a smoky swirl of coral-pink chiffon, and I brace myself for more teeth.
“Oh dear.” She casts a critical eye over my wedding dress.
“Oh dear, oh dear… Still, it’s the best I could do at such short notice. You have no idea the strings I had to pull to get you something suitable in time.”
If she expects me to thank her for it, I’d rather choke on the lace.
Her assessment moves up to my face and she tuts out even
more disapproval. “Good grief. Your make-up is abysmal. Antoinette!” Her maid appears in the doorway like a dutiful pet. “She needs less rouge on her cheeks.
And that red lipstick is wrong. She looks like a whore, not a virgin bride.”
There goes my one shot at individuality.
Is this really happening? Has it really only been twenty-four hours since Papa announced I was to marry a man I’d never even met?
A one-minute, formally worded deposition slotted in between his business meetings. He takes longer to peruse menus in restaurants.
Come to think of it, it’s the longest conversation we’ve ever had.
“Dressing table,”
barks Marie, giving me a not so gentle shove in that direction.
Gritting my teeth, I allow myself to be ‘de-whored,’ by Antoinette. On the plus side, marriage means leaving Marie behind. Even she wouldn’t dare disrespect the wife of Luca
Zaccaria…
I should have known she wouldn’t go out without a fanfare, though.
“I don’t see why we’re bothering with this charade,” she mutters, driving an extra pin into the base of my chignon and scraping my scalp on purpose.
“What do you mean?”
I catch her eye in the mirror, instantly wary of the cruel green glint that I find there. “This is what my father expects of me.”
I’m rewarded with a cold smile for my curiosity. “I mean why go to so much trouble to look the part when the ceremony room will be empty.”
“But Signor Zaccaria’s family will be in attendance.”
I’ve read all about mafia families and the eight billion aunts, uncles and associated offspring who get wheeled out for occasions such as these. Kind of like a Bratva wedding when
a sibling’s disgrace hasn’t double-booked the venue.
Her eyes widen for a beat, and then the chill in her smile drops a couple of hundred degrees.
“What makes you think you’re marrying into La Famiglia, child? What makes you think you’re good enough for one of Zaccaria’s precious sons? Your sister has polluted you, like she’s polluted your father’s reputation, and today you will pay the price for her disgrace and his resurrection.”
My stomach lurches.
She’s right. My father never actually confirmed who my groom was.
I assumed.
I just assumed.
“Who am I supposed to be marrying?” I whisper.
She shrugs, as if the detail is insignificant. “You’ll find out soon enough.”
“I don’t believe you! He wouldn’t do this! Where’s Papa?” I rise to my feet, but her bony fingers clamp around my upper arm to stop me.
“Sit down, stupid girl.” I wince as her grip tightens; her coral pink nails digging crescents into my skin. “Your father has no desire to see you. He left for Paris an hour ago.”
My mouth snaps shut when I realize I’m gaping at her. “But he’s walking me down the aisle! I’m playing the role of the good Bratva daughter for him... The least he can do is guide me through the scene.”
“Be quiet!” Her mask cracks, just like my colombina did, but this time spite comes pouring out.
“The only things accompanying you to that altar, child, are shame and solitude.
You are all alone in this world now, Ielena. Your sister has deserted you, and your stupid mother is soaking your memory in gin.”
I have Maxim.
Please tell me I still have Maxim.
“Let go of me, Marie!” 
All alone,” she mouths back.
Shrugging her off, I sit back down at the dressing table. My hands are shaking as Antoinette pats away the last of the red Chanel before smoothing on a dash of Vaseline, and then painting my lips a pale mauve.
Even that seems wrong. I need a shot of color confidence to bring my fair skin and frozen expression back from the brink, not something that’ll fade me out even more.
I’m only a half-measure, remember?
An image from yesterday slams into my mind, one with raging battlements of contempt in his eyes.
Aiden Knight.
The man I couldn’t stop thinking about all of last night. The beautiful cruel memory who tempted my fingers between my thighs at the break of dawn.
What was it he said about me again?
“Stupid rich, bored, empty, unemployable, unsalvageable…”
I am not my mother.
I am not my mother.
Karina’s voice is in my head suddenly, telling me to hold on to my rainbow, no matter what. We made promises to each other the night she left. The kind you cross your hearts with, schoolgirl style, and keep until you die die die.
“Are you finished?”
I catch Marie’s eye in the mirror and hold it. Screw her. Screw my father. They could marry me off to a beggar on the street and I’d still find a way to paint us gold.
She scoffs and nods.
“Good,” I say, firing back a Ping-Pong shot of my own.
I was right to feel that sense of satisfaction earlier. I’m not some little girl she can push around anymore. My new groom may not be Luca Zaccaria, but my father’s choice for me would have been tactical. He’ll be a man of standing in the criminal world.
“Good?” she mocks.
“You won’t be saying that in an hour’s time.”
“Aren’t you going to wish me luck?”
Without waiting for an answer, I rise to my feet and sashay from the room as elegantly as my badly fitted shoes—thanks again, Marie—will allow.
Heart pounding, I make my way down the elegant marble staircase, feeling like Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind, but with the whole world, not Rhett Butler, declaring that they don’t give a damn about me anymore.
I reach the lobby to find the tall, stoic figure of my father’s Brigadier waiting for me. There’s another man standing there, too. He has his back turned, his black-suited shoulders blocking out most of the light from a nearby window. I’m so relieved to see Maxim I barely glance at him.
 “You’re here!” I take the last couple of steps too fast and nearly lose my footing.
I knew he wouldn't abandon me as well.
He turns at my voice—eyes hooded, expression bleak. “Issa.” He catches me as I stumble into his arms. “Careful, zvezda moya.” He sets me right before sweeping his gaze downward. “Why, you look beautiful.”
“You’re the sweetest liar.” I step back to break his embrace, embarrassed by my lack of poise. What’s worse, there’s a masculine scent in the air that’s aiding and abetting that emotion, whipping up memories I’d rather forget. “Marie chose the dress so you can draw your own conclusions from that.”
“Tsch, Issa,” he chides. “She chose well.”
“Liar, twice over,”
I say with a shy smile.
“She’s right, it’s hideous,” drawls a deep voice in perfect Russian. “But it’s nothing a bottle of Saint-Émilion couldn’t fix.”
Colors.
All the damn colors.
The same man from the bar and my late night fantasies is smirking down at me, his cerulean-blue oceans churning with the same derision. My lungs stutter and lose function as I finally place the scent in the air.
“You,” I gasp out.
“Me,” he says flatly. 
“W-what are you doing here?”
“My presence was requested so it’s a good job I had another suit to wear.”
I can’t seem to process his words. It’s not just the size of him that’s throwing me off kilter.
Those oceans are shark-infested, and I’m the bloody bait. 
My head swings to Maxim for answers, but the scars on his face offer me nothing so I find it swinging back to him. It’s magnetic. I couldn't stop it if I tried.
“Monsieur Knight,” I say, pulling myself together. “How lovely it is to see you again.”
He barks out a rough laugh. “You could strip paint with the acid in your voice, princess. Your insincerity is corrosive.”
“Who knew a gentleman could be so vulgar,” I counter quietly.
“Who knew you had the brains to come to that conclusion all
by yourself.”
“Have you two met before?” Maxim looks confused, trapped
here in our blazing crossfire.
Aiden Knight cocks his handsome head and grins at me, but
his eyes are like chips of ice. “Let's just say we had a difference of opinion over some home truths and a bottle of red yesterday.”
Instantly, my heart is a drum and bass beat inside my chest. I hate how British men have the whole archetypal bastard thing down to a fine art. His accent is a poisoned arrow with a fin-shaped fletching of contempt. He’s dressed in black Armani again today, though he’s swapped the black dress shirt for white.
Colors. Colors. He wears them like a warning.
 
His necktie is a brilliant crimson, the same red as the lipstick I chose for myself until Marie instructed Antoinette to scrub it off.
He’s stolen it. How dare he! I find myself hating him more for that than I do for his insults.
“Is it true Papa left for Paris an hour ago?”
I mean to direct it at Maxim, but I can’t seem to tear my gaze away from my nemesis. He’s coolness personified, with the kind of hard arrogance that hazardous men exude. I don’t like the way he’s looking at me either, as if I’m a cornered fox and he’s the Master of the Hunt.
“Why? Are you worried he took his credit card with him?”
"That's enough, Knight!" growls Maxim.
I blush right to my roots as my father’s confidante proceeds to curse in both French and Russian at my English invasion.
It’s a bi-language of reproach, but Knight just shrugs it off. Clearly, his ninety-nine problems don't include Bratva Brigadiers who'd be more than happy to use his head as target practice.
Is this man completely impenetrable or just plain indifferent?
“Jesus, you talk a lot of shit, Maxim,” he says in a bored voice, cutting him off mid-flow. “If you’re quite finished, her chariot awaits.”
Her?
I watch him stalk through the open front door, down the stone steps and into one of the waiting Escalades without so much as a backward glance at me.
Who is this vile, rude, arrogant man?
I meet Maxim’s heavy stare with unspoken questions in my eyes. “Marie told me I’m not betrothed to Luca Zaccaria anymore.”
“No, zvezda moya.”
“Then, who?”
“Issa—”
“Please, Maxim,” I beg. “If our friendship means anything, I need you to be straight with me. Who the hell am I marrying today?"
My only ally in this world curses and swipes a hand across his jaw. It’s as if he's disinfecting his next words for an unclean revelation.
I then watch in mounting, escalating, soul-crushing horror as his gaze shifts to the vehicles outside. Or rather, to one in particular...
Please.
God.
No.

© Catherine Wiltcher 2020



Author Bio;


Catherine Wiltcher is a bestselling author of ten dark
romance novels, a former TV producer, and a self-confessed alpha addict. Her writing is best described as sinfully sexy, and her characters always fall hard and deep for one another.

She lives in the UK with her husband and two young daughters. If she ever found herself stranded on a desert island, she'd like a large pink gin to keep her company. Cillian Murphy wouldn't be a bad shout either…

For book and blog updates, please visit www.catherinewiltcher.com

Author Links:




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