Review: Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Such a Fun AgeSuch a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s not often that I get to read a novel set in my hometown of Philadelphia, so I was pretty excited to read Kiley Reid’s Such a Fun Age.

So what’s the premise? Emira is a young African-American woman who, at the age of 25, doesn’t really know what she wants to do with her life. She’s graduated from Temple University with a so-so GPA, and she’s babysitting for the Chamberlains, who’ve recently moved to downtown Philadelphia from New York. All of her friends are getting “real” jobs or have them already and Emira is feeling like a failure compared to them. Alix Chamberlain, her boss, is a successful blogger/influencer with a publishing deal, a husband who’s a news anchor on a local TV channel, and two picture-perfect daughters–even if Briar, the oldest, tries her nerves. Two unexpected events lead to both women examining their identities, race, friendship, love, and trust.

As much as I enjoyed reading the story, I felt like the alternating points of view were a bit unbalanced. I wanted more of Emira’s side of the story. Too often, it felt like Alix’s actions and worries were more in focus. Emira sometimes felt like an enigma whereas Alix was an open book.

Still, I really enjoyed reading Such a Fun Age and I am looking forward to reading Kiley Reid’s next novel.

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Book Blitz: Love and Hiplife by Nana Prah

LOVE AND HIPLIFE BY NANA PRAH

Lamisi Imoro will do anything to complete her PhD before the extension is up. It doesn’t matter who dies, leaves her high and dry, or hates her guts, she’s on fire. But, her supervisor wants to prove just how much he’d love to see her fail by throwing obstacles to thwart her from reaching her goal. Desperate for help and nowhere else to turn, she’s forced to ask for the assistance of the hiplife artist who once saved her from a nasty fall. She finds that their scorching attraction is a problem and is determined to tamp her rising emotions because nothing will stop her from getting what she set out to accomplish.

Blaise Ayoma is on the verge of taking African Francophone countries by storm with his new style of music. Learning how to sing in French without butchering the beautiful language is harder than he thought. Multi-linguist, Lamisi is the key to his success. When his presence in her life puts her in danger, will he end the budding relationship in order to keep her safe?

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ABOUT NANA PRAH

Nana Prah first discovered romance in a book from her eighth-grade summer reading list and has been obsessed with it ever since. Her fascination with love inspired her to write in her favorite genre where happily-ever-after is the rule. She is a published author of contemporary, multicultural romances. Her books are sweet with a touch of spice. When she’s not writing she’s reading, over-indulging in chocolate, and enjoying life with friends and family.

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A TASTE OF HER OWN MEDICINE BY TASHA L. HARRISON

A TASTE OF HER OWN MEDICINE

BY TASHA L. HARRISON

“He looks like he could plow my north field without a horse.”

Sonja Watts needs to re-enter the workforce after divorcing her husband of thirteen years. Taking the advice of her sister Birdie and her best friend Estelle, she signs up for a six-week course for entrepreneurs; hoping that she will learn everything she needs to know to build a business to support herself and her kids.

On the first night of class, Sonja is able to ignore the fact that most of the students were younger than her by ten years or more. It was what she expected. But when the instructor walks in, she debates packing up here new twelve hundred dollar laptop and walking out.

Sonja couldn’t remember the last time she looked at a man with little more interest than she give a sturdy dining room table. She was just disinterested.

But wow, did Atlas James grab her interest.

Atlas hasn’t been interested in dating since he moved back home California. Adjusting to new found success in the town where everyone sees him as that big, geeky guy who cut grass for pocket change when they were in high school has been awkward. Aside from a couple of one night stands, he hasn’t really wanted to pursue a relationship with anyone until sweet, shy Sonja signs up for his class.

Compact, curvy, and juicy in all the right places, being in the same room Sonja Watts ignites all of those giddy feelings he felt when he had his first crush. He wants to know her and he’s pretty sure she wants to know him — despite the age difference that she seems to be so fixated on.

With her future riding on the success of her new business, Sonja has no time for distraction. Will she be able to keep her eyes on her own paper or will they remain glued to Atlas’s biceps and thick thighs?

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chapter one  

Sonja

The strip of shops, eateries, and galleries in The Village of West Greenville were dark and quiet when I pulled my Subaru into the parking lot a few blocks away from The CoWorking Spot. In the last few years, this part of town had experienced some growth with the arrival of a few restaurants and specialty shops. But that was just a handful of businesses; most of which closed at or around six o’clock, leaving the streets quiet on a late summer evening. I took advantage of this moment of quiet. Closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths to settle the nervous butterflies in my stomach.

About a month ago, I allowed myself to be convinced to sign up for a six-week entrepreneurship course— something I’ve been regretting since the day the payment cleared. 

What makes me think I could run my own business? 

The only thing I’d managed in the last ten years was a household, and occasionally, the front desk at my ex-husband’s real estate offices. Those skills didn’t necessarily translate into the sort of hustle one needed to be an entrepreneur. But at the time, my sisters Birdie and Agostina, as well as my friend Estelle, made it seem like a great idea to start a business with the skincare products I made from the herbs and medicinal flowers in my garden. And I agreed. Or maybe the gallon of wine I drank that night agreed because now that I was sitting in my car with my brand new laptop, in a brand new laptop bag, I wondered if I’d temporarily lost my mind.

The Bluetooth in my car announced that I had an incoming call from Estelle Murphy.

“Hello?”

“Get out of the car, Sonja,” she ordered. 

“Why did I let you talk me into this?” I groaned and opened the car door, slightly annoyed that she knew me so well. 

“Because you’re more than ready for it. We’ve gone through this. Get out of the car, and I’ll walk down there with you.” 

“Okay. I’m coming.”

I’d arrived a good forty minutes early, mostly because I needed to stop by Ink Blue Yoga to get a pep talk from my Estelle. 

Ink Blue, Estelle’s yoga studio,was one of my favorite places. The front windows went floor to ceiling, which made the interior look and feel bright and warm. The smooth, shiny hardwood floors were warm in the winter months and cool in the summer. They welcomed bare feet and I almost wanted to drop my bags, strip down and get in a few vinyasas. Estelle was good at this business thing and was brilliant at getting her studio seen. If I checked our town’s hashtag on Instagram on any given day, her yoga studio always showed up in the top nine. 

“Hey, Soni,” my friend said and gave me a knowing look as I came in. “Amelia?” 

The woman sweeping at the far end of the studio looked up.

“I’m going to walk Soni down to the The Coworking Spot. I’ll be right back.”

“No, problem. I’ll get everything set up for the six-thirty class.” 

She grabbed two bottles of water out of the cold case near the cash wrap and handed me one. I opened it and followed her back out to the sidewalk. 

“Okay,” she said. “Out with it. What are you feeling right now?”

I gnawed on my bottom lip. “I’m nervous.”

“Be specific.”

“I’m probably going to be the oldest person in the class —”

“And that matters because…?”

“It makes me feel self-conscious. It’s been years since I’ve been in a classroom. I’m not sure if I can learn everything I need to know to make this thing work.”

“Sonja, you’re one of the smartest people I know. You’ll be fine.”

“How can you say I’ll be fine? It took me six days to figure out how to use this fucking computer you made me buy.”

Estelle laughed at me, and I joined her, realizing how pathetic I sounded. Doing something new was always scary. But it had been so long since I’d done anything new that this felt huge. She grabbed my hand as we walked the remaining two blocks to the building that hosted The Entrepreneur Academy.

“There’s no need to be intimidated by anything you’re presented with today. You’re there to learn, and the instructor is there to teach you. Who’s your instructor again?”

I laughed and rolled my eyes. “You sound like you’re escorting your kid to their first day of elementary school.”

“Aren’t I?” she joked.

I pulled up the email they sent me after I registered for the class. “My instructor is someone named Atlas James. You know him?”

Estelle gasped, and her steps faltered a bit. “Yeah… yeah, I know him.”

“What was that reaction about?” 

“Uh, nothing. Atlas James is … he’s an amazing teacher. I learned a lot from him.”

“Yeah, but you gasped.”

Estelle cleared her throat and smirked. “You’ll see.”

We arrived at the doors, and I turned to her with a smile. “So, I’ll meet you next door when the class is over so we can have some drinks?”

“Oh, most definitely! Relax, and have fun. It’s not nearly as hard as you think it will be. Especially not with Atlas teaching. I think you’re really going to enjoy yourself.”

I rolled my eyes. “Bye, Estelle.” 

Still laughing at my friend, I went inside the coworking space that doubled as the Entrepreneur Academyclassroom on evenings and weekends. From what I read online, the two people who owned the business and ran the programs were dedicated to helping an underserved group of entrepreneurs get a foothold in the economy growing in Greenville. The businesses that students started after attending the Academy were conscientious and interested in blending into existing community. That was precisely the kind of business I wanted to build; one that felt so familiar that my customers could easily imagine the hands that made the products and feel connected to the process. 

I’d entered on the street level across from the Village Journal into a small lobby and seating area. 

“Hi!” a young girl sitting behind the desk said with a smile. “Welcome to The CoWorking Spot. I’m, Chloe. Can I help you?”

“Uh, yes. Hi, Chloe. I’m here for the Entrepreneur Academy Course?”

“Ah, yes. Could you just sign in for me? They’ll be meeting in the Community Classroom at the big table down there,” she said, jerking her thumb over her shoulder. “But you’re a little early, so feel free to grab a cup of coffee and look around or just hang out up here. Atlas is around here somewhere.”

“Okay, thanks,” I said as I signed in.

When I was done, I adjusted my bag on my shoulder and made my way down the steps to the Community Classroom. The big table was in an open area, with about ten or fifteen chairs around it. The group was far smaller than I anticipated it would be, and for some reason, that made me feel even more nervous. That and the fact that this Atlas person was somewhere in the building and if no one else arrived soon, I would be the first to meet him. All that tittering Estelle had done on the sidewalk made me wonder what the hell I was in for.

After choosing a seat on the far end of the table away from the big screen TV  as the place to drop my laptop bag, I went back up to the lobby to grab a cup of that free coffee the girl at the desk had offered me. I was still considering the dark, strong-smelling brew when a young man bounded up the stairs. 

I swear my mouth went so dry that my tongue stuck to the roof of it. 

“Hi!” he said cheerily, his lips splitting into a grin that lit up his face. And Jesus Christ was it a gorgeous face. He had smooth dark skin and the sort of distinctive features that were so unusual that it was hard to look at him without really staring. Full lips, a broad nose, and bedroom eyes with thick lashes that squinted when he smiled like he was doing now.

“Hello,” I managed to croak, unable to tear my eyes away even though he was standing next to me now, and I had to look up, up, up to meet his gaze. This man was tall and built like he could plow my north field without a horse, with shoulders that he could probably throw a woman-sized stack of potatoes over. And by woman-sized, I meant me. I would like to be that woman-sized sack of potatoes.

That thought startled me. I couldn’t remember the last time I looked at a man with little more interest than I gave a sturdy dining room table.

“Trying to get that last dose of caffeine in, huh?” he said casually as if his deep baritone wasn’t designed to disintegrate my panties the moment he opened his mouth.

“Uh, yeah. I usually try not to drink coffee this late. It tends to mess with my sleep, but I’m not usually out after this hour, so—” 

What the hell was I even saying? Why was I talking about my caffeine intake like some old lady who needed to be at home before nine to make sure she took her remedies?

“I hear that,” the young man said as he tore open two sugar packets with the edge of his bright white teeth. His tongue swiped at a loose granule, and my pussy clenched like I knew how that tongue would feel between my thighs.

Look away, Sonja. Look a-damn-way. 

He gestured at the still empty cup in my hand with the carafe of coffee in his hand, offering to fill it up.

“Yes, please.” I held out the paper cup in my now trembling hand. “Thank you,” I said once it was filled and finally turned toward the coffee station to add some sugar and cream. 

“No, problem. I’ll see you down there,” he said, a smirk in the corner of his full lips. 

“Oh! You’re here for the Entrepreneur Academy thing?”

He pivoted around the corner to make his way back down the stairs. With his eyes on me, his smirk shifted into a smile. “I’m the instructor,” he said just before he disappeared from view.

“Holy fuck … that’s Atlas James?” 

“Yes, ma’am, it is,” the girl behind the desk said with a wistful sigh.

Leaving the cup of untouched coffee on the bar, I ducked into the nearest bathroom to call my so-called friend. Her self-satisfied giggle met my ears when she finally decided to pick up the phone. 

“Really, Estelle?”

“What? 

“You could have warned me that my instructor was a real-life action hero, so I didn’t embarrass myself by drooling and blubbering like an idiot.”

“You drooled and blubbered like an idiot? That’s surprising. I didn’t think he would get that much of a reaction out of you.”

“And what the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“Sonja,” she began gently. “I’ve known you for almost nine years, and I’ve never heard you so much as sigh at the sight of a pretty man. Even men that are universally handsome never seemed to move the meter for you.”

I scoffed. “Yeah, well, Atlas James sure as hell did.”

“Mmmhmm… six weeks of class with him was not an unpleasant experience.” 

“Estelle! You’re happily married!”

“I’m married, not dead, Sonja.” 

“I get that, but…”

“Yes, I allowed myself to enjoy his personage, then I went home to my husband. And since you no longer have one of those, none of that should matter to you.”

“I have no intentions on—”

“I gotta go. The six-thirty power hour is about to start. I’ll meet you for drinks, and we can talk about how Atlas made you squirm in your seat for an hour and a half.” Then she hung up before I could respond. 

I glared at my phone’s darkening screen for a moment and tried to figure out if there was a way that I could sneak downstairs, grab my new bag and twelve-hundred-dollar laptop, and duck out before the class started. because I couldn’t sit in the same room with that man. Hell, maybe I didn’t need to grab my stuff. Estelle could drive me home. My kids were there, so I didn’t need to worry about how I would get in. I could pick up my bag in the morning or some other time when I was sure he wouldn’t be here. Then I would quit the class because a woman my age should not be subjected to a man that young and that fine for six-long weeks without any sort of satisfaction. 

Satisfaction? I mean, seriously. What satisfaction did I want from this man? And more importantly, what satisfaction would he be willing to give? Did I want to know? Goddamn, he had successfully scrambled my brain. This was not right or okay.

I glanced in the mirror and smoothed my hand over my newly cropped hair. Around the same time that I allowed myself to be convinced to sign up for this course, my sister Agostina thought it was a good idea to chop off all of my hair. “A woman who cuts her hair is about to make big changes in her life,” or some foolishness she’d parroted from a mindfulness blog she read. Initially, I thought the cut looked cute. Fun. Now I just looked like a middle-aged woman who’d lobbed off her hair and dyed it to hide the grey.

I sighed and shook my head at myself, then turned on the water to wash my hands. I was making too big a deal out of this. He probably didn’t even notice that I’d drooled over him. I wasn’t unattractive, but I’d long ago realized that I’d become invisible to a specific type of man and definitely a certain age bracket. Atlas James fit that demographic. Yeah… I was worried about the wrong thing. 

By the time I made my way out of the bathroom and toward the low murmur of conversation in the Community Classroom, I’d convinced myself that I was overreacting. I’d only assumed that he had noticed me noticing him. That didn’t make it true. 

And I believed that until I realized that my bag had been moved to a seat other than where I’d left it. It was now in front of a chair closer to the middle of the table…

Right across from where Atlas was setting up his laptop and unloading his backpack. 

I glanced toward the place I’d left my things and saw that two girls were huddled there now. How wrong would it be if I put on my mom-voice and bullied them out of their seats? 

“Decided against the coffee?” Atlas asked, pulling me out of my reverie.

“Uh… yeah. I had a couple of sips, but I’m jittery enough. It would have been a mistake.”

“I probably should have done the same, but you know…Y.O.L.O.”

I cringed inwardly. “Yeah…Y.O.L.O.,” I echoed then pulled out the chair. 

My son used that horrible slang phrase when he was in middle school. Was this Atlas in the same age bracket? Now I felt a little gross about lusting over someone who was probably only a few years older than my high school-age son. 

Yuck

I laughed at myself again. Unloaded my bag. 

Stay on task, Sonja.

“Okay… It looks like everyone is here!” Atlas said. “Let’s get started.” He clapped his hands together and moved toward the front of the room. “Welcome to The CoWorking Spot. I’m Atlas James, and I’m going to be your instructor for this cohort of the Entrepreneur Academy. A little bit about me…Yes, my name is really Atlas, but I don’t think my mother named me that in anticipation of me having shoulders big and strong enough to carry the world on them, but it helps that I grew into it.”

We all laughed at that, and he seemed to relax a little bit. “I’m a business coach for creative people who want to use their talents to make money. I’ve been at that for a little over six years, and before that, my best friend and I built a tiny home in a step-up panel truck and I traveled to every state in the continental US. I have two degrees, business and MBA in marketing, both of which used to build and run this business. Now…” He looked from one end of the table to the next, and then his eyes settled on me. “I’d like to get to know all of you.”

My mouth suddenly went dry, and my nipples drew up into tight little buds against the thin silken fabric of my bra. I folded my arms, leaned forward on the table, and prayed that he didn’t ask me to go first. Nothing but squawking high pitched sounds would come out of me if he did. 

Atlas smiled at me then turned his attention to one of the young girls at the far end of the table. 

Thank God

“You there in the pink sweater. State your name, state your business.”

Everyone at the table was at least ten or more years younger than me. They had internet jobs that I’d never heard of before — like social media manager and content strategist — that they’d joined the Entrepreneur Academy to grow. None of them had a business that sounded anything like mine. 

“And what about you, Miss…” Atlas pushed up the sleeves of his henley and pointed at me.

My brain short-circuited. 

“Sonja…” I stammered. Yes, that’s my name. “Sonja Watts and I want to open an online store to sell natural soaps, essential oils, hand, and body cremes, and maybe teas using recipes created by my Gullah grandmother.”

The room fell silent. 

“Excuse me…Sonja?” one of the girls at the end of the table began. She was sitting across from the girl in the pink sweater. I think her name was Ashley.

“Yes?”

“What is a Gullah exactly? You mean, like Gullah, Gullah Island? That show that used to come on Disney?” Ashley asked with a giggle that her friend in the pink sweater echoed. 

Atlas turned his attentions to Ashley and regarded her for a long critical moment. “Gullah people are Coastal Carolina African Americans who have maintained most of their West African culture, to include language and traditions,” he explained finally. “They practice a lot of holistic medicine through cherished recipes passed down through generations.” He looked at me again, his eyes soft and…was that appreciation I saw there? “I imagine your business will be no different than someone starting their own beauty brand.”

“I imagine so…” I said, feeling for the first time in an hour that I was right where I was supposed to be.

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ABOUT TASHA L. HARRISON

Often accused of navigating life without a filter, Tasha L. Harrison has managed to brand herself as the author who crafts characters and stories that make you feel all of the feels. She writes African American, interracial and intercultural erotica and erotic romance with heroines just as brazen, emotionally messy, and dramatic as herself and heroes that love them anyway.

She lives in Upstate South Carolina with her handsome hubbie, two not-so-smallish men, and one super needy boxer dog. When she’s not writing filth, she’s riding around with the top down on her Jeep Wrangler, Amber, blasting Southern Rock and pretending she’s in love with the mountains when she really misses the ocean.

She also edits romance and erotica because love stories are her business.

Tasha’s work and information on her editing rates and services can be found at tashalharrison.com.

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Lily Java dishes about the Blackbirds: Blank Pages series

I love it when one of my favorite people (who also happens to be an amazing author) stops by and shares with us a little insight into the inspiration for her writing. Today, Lily Java shares with us the secrets behind her latest releases: Ethan’s Choice and Serena’s Vow – books 1 and 2 in the Blackbirds: Blank Pages series.

What inspired you to write the Blackbirds: Blank Pages series?

These two novels were inspired by one little scene I wrote in another book called ‘Blackbirds’ where the hero Elliott Vance meets his father for the first time, and it doesn’t go well at all. It was a pivotal scene in that book, but it was also compelling because of all the questions it left unanswered about Elliott’s parents, Ethan and Serena Vance. Telling Ethan and Serena’s story from the beginning, then including the middle, and wrapping up the end with what happens after the fateful meeting between father and son became a fascinating journey for me. I couldn’t resist it the more I thought about it and it occurred to me that maybe it would be irresistible for the reader as well.  

Part of my fascination with the story came from themes that as a writer I’d been wanting to explore. To see young love, turn into mature love for example was the first theme that attracted me to the project.  Then checking in on that love over four decades was also a temptation, albeit a daunting one. Starting off with a rendering of the 70’s and 80’s in New York City in particular was intriguing, because it was such a memorable time and place especially in Black and Brown communities. Writing a love story that crystallized in that environment was fun to think about as well as write. 

Tell us a little about Ethan and Serena?

Serena Clay is the kind of young woman that every girl wants to be beautiful, sensible, and unpretentious. The only child of two adoring, aging parents Serena had a solidly middle-class education and upbringing. There was a grounded, loving, and sheltered quality to Serena’s childhood that gives her an underlying security and confidence in her daily life until she meets Ethan Vance. Ethan represents a worldly sophistication that Serena has yet to achieve but that she’s attracted to in the extreme. 

It is true, Ethan’s life has had many advantages but because of his family there are many aspects of it that are also dark, gritty and violent. Much of Ethan’s family legacy is so abhorrent to him he makes every effort in both word and deed to leave it behind. When he meets Serena, the last thing he expects to do is to immediately fall for the type of girl that epitomizes innocence and virtue, but he also recognizes that being with her could be his ultimate salvation and the culmination of everything he truly wants his life to be. 

There are some heady stakes involved when these two fall in love. It’s powerful, passionate and often all consuming. How life changes the trajectory of their romance, changes them both as people, and how what they feel for each other endures despite the obstacles and setbacks, is the epic love story told in this duet of novels. 

Ethan’s Choice and Serena’s Vow are available now.

Get to know other titles by Lily Java

Sticky Moon

Blackbirds

Prelude for Tomorrow

Because My Heart Said So: a Friends to Lovers Collection

BLACKBIRDS NOVEL DUET

BLACKBIRDS NOVEL DUET

When Elliott Vance sees his parents, Serena and Ethan, together for the first time, holding hands; it causes a tectonic shift in his perception of reality. Answering all the questions that bubble to the surface, will not always be easy or pleasant. But, there’s always a beginning, a middle, and an end to most stories, including Serena and Ethan’s.

The reconnection between Serena and Ethan Vance will lead to explosive revelations and a thousand and one questions about their past. But will it also give them and their only son Elliott, the closure they all so desperately need?

‘Ethan’s Choice: Blank Pages I’ and ‘Serena’s Vow: Blank Pages II’ by Lily Java brings full circle the story of Elliott Vance’s parents, Serena and Ethan, first introduced in the novel ‘Blackbirds’.

ETHAN’S CHOICE: BLANK PAGES I BY LILY JAVA

He thought he planned for everything. But, what he didn’t plan for, was her.

Whether we are we born into the world a blank page has been argued since the time of Aristotle. Is it nature or nurture that makes us who we are? Do we choose our own fate, or are we chosen for the roles we play?

Serena Clay is a golden girl living in a soulful, turbulent time. Beautiful, intelligent, pragmatic, and so well cared for, one would think she’d be better prepared. But there’s no way, she could’ve known how overwhelming and passionate it would be to fall in love, until she met Ethan Vance—a fierce, charming, and enigmatic young man.

Ethan Vance lives a life filled with secrets and lies. He longs to be free of them as well as of the violent family legacy they stem from. With careful planning and avoidance, he hopes to keep the woman he dares to love and the person most precious to him, in his life forever. When things go bad as they often do, Ethan has a choice to make but now his heart won’t be the only one on the line.

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SERENA’S VOW: BLANK PAGES II BY LILY JAVA

Keeping her promises has often meant sacrifice. But is it ever too late to try and live your best dreams?

Sometimes, re-imagining your life is your only road to salvation.

Long ago left by the man she loved and trusted, with a young son to raise alone, Serena Vance is now a grown woman. The vows she and Ethan made to each other, she has had to forget. Now there is nothing more important than helping her son become the best man he can be. But will reaching that goal come at the expense of her own happiness?

Ethan Vance is a lost, broken man—angry, alone, and teetering on the brink of disaster. The people and things that meant the most to him are disappearing from his life one by one. Every day has become a nightmare, and to survive he must turn his life around.

But is it ever too late to have a second chance at living your best dreams?

In the winding journey these two former lovers take further away from each other, they both lose a significant part of themselves. To thrive again, they must re-invent their lives apart … and maybe, in doing so they will find their way back together.

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EXCERPT

Serena was lying in his bed, reading. They’d made love late that afternoon. He’d elevated the hurt wrist and told her not to move it, no matter what he did. She was obedient, though he did not make it at all easy for her. As she writhed against his treacherous mouth, tongue, and hands, he kept her in endless pursuit of an orgasm until she could barely move from the effort. The sun set over their warm, conjoined bodies. 

He never seemed to have enough time with her to his liking. And now here she was— lying in hisbed, in hisshirt—and he still felt that way. He’d been studiously watching her while pretending to work on something else. It wasn’t just that she was beautiful. It was her earthiness—how full of grace she was. It made him feel like having her in his life was the only thing he needed to be sure he’d stay safe, grounded, and in touch with everything around him. That as long as she was there, as long as he could look at her every day, he wouldn’t lose himself to the dour or murky thoughts he sometimes had about his life—about the world in general. 

She reached the end of a page and adjusted herself while turning it when she noticed he was staring. 

Everything he’d been thinking, everything he’d been planning, Ethan blurted it all out at once. 

“There’s something I want to tell you. I’ve made a decision. I’m going to leave school after this semester.”

Her brow creased ever so slightly. He got the impression she was holding her breath a little. Stabilizing herself against the conversation, she took a deep breath, and then another, before she spoke. 

“Where will you go?”

“I’m thinking about going to the country for a little while.”

“The country? What do you mean?”

“I mean I’m thinking about renting that house we stayed in but for a longer time than just a weekend.” 

Serena sat up in the bed, pushing the book aside.  

“In Claverack?”

“Yeah.”

“Why there?”

“Good memories.”

He knew her downcast eyes and the subtle smile meant she was remembering too.

ABOUT LILY JAVA

Lily is a freelance writer, blogger, and novelist who writes fiction in numerous genres. When she isn’t writing, Lily raises money for arts and cultural organizations or plans special events in iconic landmarks throughout her beloved hometown: New York City. A resident of Brooklyn, Lily is a true ambivert, who enjoys solitude just as much as she likes meeting and talking with other passionate readers and writers.

“I think every story is a love story of some kind. The whys and wherefores are usually as interesting as who or what you love, but you only know that if you delve deep. So in life, in love, and most definitely on the page, that’s how I like to do it.” –Lily

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AWAKENED: THE ORACLE CHRONICLES BOOK ONE BY MONI BOYCE

AWAKENED: THE ORACLE CHRONICLES BOOK ONE BY MONI BOYCE

Secret lineage, a ruthless vampire, and forbidden love.

Willow Stevens dreams of stardom are eclipsed by the real nightmares of a sinister man haunting her dreams. Unbeknownst to her, Eli Walker, her hot but snobbish co-worker, may know the reason nightmares plague her, but their history shows he is more prone to reject her, than help her. 

Then Willow passes out at work only to wake in Eli’s apartment. There she has her chance to learn more about her heritage. But, knowing why the vampire king stalks her doesn’t make the nightmares disappear. If anything, they become more real as she now faces off against a slew of creatures she’d always believed were myth. 

That Eli is one of those creatures is just her luck. Secret witch guild or not, his natural ways are casting spells her heart can’t escape. As a Protector his only focus should be her safety. Anything else is forbidden. He plans to stay in task, but some women break a man, or tempt him to break the rules. 

Can Eli keep Willow alive and safe from the vampires long enough for her to grow her own powers or will both cast aside rules for a reckless passion that will only lead to danger?

AWAKENED is the first installment in The Oracle Chronicles series. This interracial, paranormal romance is a great mix of magic, adventure.

**This book is part of a series and ends in a cliffhanger**

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EXCERPT

Sleep was pulling and tugging at every part of her physically and mentally. The long yawn that left her mouth made her shake her head. The minute she hit the mattress she was asleep in seconds.

Where am I?

When the thought entered her mind she knew she was dreaming, but wherever she was, she’d never been there before. She looked down at her body and saw she was still wearing the bathrobe. A chill crept up her spine because this felt eerily real. In any other dream she wore a random outfit. The hallway was massive, like she was in a palace. Her bare feet made no sound as she tiptoed down the corridor, frightened she would encounter someone. This place had an ominous feeling. She shouldn’t be here.

“Wake up. Wake up. Wake up.” The whispered words did nothing, because she remained in the dream or whatever it was.

A large doorway loomed at the end of the hall. The door was slightly ajar. Against her better judgment she crept towards it. 

What am I doing? Why am I going to investigate? I should head in the other direction.

Despite the screaming thoughts in her brain she proceeded to the door, frantically looking around for anyone or anything that might lurk in the shadows. The sliver of an opening was enough for her to press her eye to and attempt to look around without being caught. It was a bedroom. There were floor to ceiling windows on the far side of the room. There must have been a balcony or terrace situated outside because the flimsy, gauzy curtains billowed out from the windows, caught by a breeze. In the dimness she could barely make out a sleeping form in the cavernous bed. The room seemed devoid of anything else, save a large armoire.

Something made her crack the door open and walk inside.

What are you doing you crazy person? Go back. Get out of here.

Still she moved closer, her curiosity carrying her closer and closer. Seconds later, she stood on the stairs that led up to the bed. Her hand and arm shook as she reached out to touch the shoulder of the sleeping form that had their back to her. 

“Who’s there?” 

His sinister voice froze her in place. The hairs all over her body stood on end. This was Killian’s bedroom. He rolled over and sat up. The covers slipped down revealing his naked chest. His green eyes scanned the darkened chamber. She was sure his vampire sight allowed him to see just fine despite the lack of light. The crazy thing was, he seemed to look right through her like she wasn’t even there. She waved her hand in front of his face.

“You can’t see me?”

His eyes continued to search the room. While she was definitely dumbstruck that she was invisible to him, her mind chose that moment to have a stupid thought. 

If he’s a vampire why isn’t he sleeping in a coffin or underground?

She wanted to kick herself.

Really? Right now is not the time for this.

“I can smell the witch on you, Willow.” His nostrils flared. 

Her body went rigid with terror. 

He knows I’m here.

The derision in his statement made her wonder if he knew she was staying at the Walker Coven. After the attack he already knew she traveled with witches.

“I will find you.” He sounded so sure she swallowed to keep from choking and clutched her throat feeling like he was strangling her.

Wake up!

Her eyes flew open, and she took in a deep, much needed breath before she sat up and looked around the beige and white, eighteenth century bedroom she occupied at the coven and sighed.

ALSO AVAILABLE

ENLIGHTENED (BOOK TWO)

COMING SOON – SEPTEMBER 24

EMPOWERED (BOOK THREE)

ABOUT MONI BOYCE

Moni Boyce is a writer, filmmaker, poet and author of contemporary and paranormal romance novels. She spent the last fifteen years working in the film industry and now creates characters of her own and brings them to life on the page. Moni has ghostwritten romance novellas and novels for over a year now and decided to put some of her own creations out in the world. She considers herself a bookworm, film buff, foodie, music lover and an avid world traveler having visited 32 countries and counting. She lives a bit of a nomadic life, but considers Los Angeles home. Which is the subject of her first travel book: Greater Than A Tourist – Los Angeles, California: 50 Travel Tips From A Local.

CONNECT WITH MONI BOYCE

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REDESIGNING HAPPINESS BY NITA BROOKS

REDESIGNING HAPPINESS BY NITA BROOKS

Real life is a work in progress… #DesignYourLife

It wasn’t easy for Yvonne Cable to get over a heartbreaking relationship and revamp her life. But now the once-broke single mom is Atlanta’s most sought-after interior designer—and one-half of the media’s hottest power couple. She and her celebrity fiancé, Nathan, are a perfect, practical match, on—and off—camera. And with their new home improvement reality show the object of a fierce network bidding war, there’s no limit to how far they can go . . . 

But Yvonne is stunned when mogul Richard Barrington III unexpectedly makes an offer for their program. He’s the man she thought left her for a more successful woman. And he’s the father of her son—though he didn’t know it until now. Richard wants to get to know their boy, and Yvonne agrees, though she’s wary. Yet little by little, she’s finding it hard to resist the responsible, caring man Richard has become. But when a scandalous leak puts everything Yvonne’s worked for at risk, she’ll have to look beyond surfaces to come to terms with who she is—and discover what she truly wants.

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ABOUT NITA BROOKS

A reading addict, self-professed connoisseur of home improvement shows, and a collector of teapots, Nita Brooks resides in South Carolina with her family. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter at @AuthorNitaB.

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Cover Reveal: AWAKENED: THE ORACLE CHRONICLES BOOK ONE

Secret lineage, a ruthless vampire, and forbidden love.

Willow Stevens dreams of stardom are eclipsed by the real nightmares of a sinister man haunting her dreams. Unbeknownst to her, Eli Walker, her hot but snobbish co-worker, may know the reason nightmares plague her, but their history shows he is more prone to reject her, than help her. 

Then Willow passes out at work only to wake in Eli’s apartment. There she has her chance to learn more about her heritage. But, knowing why the vampire king stalks her doesn’t make the nightmares disappear. If anything, they become more real as she now faces off against a slew of creatures she’d always believed were myth. 

That Eli is one of those creatures is just her luck. Secret witch guild or not, his natural ways are casting spells her heart can’t escape. As a Protector his only focus should be her safety. Anything else is forbidden. He plans to stay in task, but some women break a man, or tempt him to break the rules. 

Can Eli keep Willow alive and safe from the vampires long enough for her to grow her own powers or will both cast aside rules for a reckless passion that will only lead to danger?

Fans of A Discovery of Witches will love the mix of magic, adventure and paranormal romance in the first book of the series THE ORACLE CHRONICLES from Moni Boyce.

EXCERPT

            A couple minutes later, she followed him. Whatever he’d prepared smelled delicious. He moved around the kitchen unsure. She raised her eyebrows while she watched him. He caught the gesture and looked embarrassed. “Most of the time, I cheat and use magic so I can do something else. I haven’t manually cooked in a while.”

            She looked at him wide-eyed, with her mouth gaped open. Even though he’d told her earlier, they were witches she still was having a hard time believing it. “You cook with magic, like they do in Harry Potter? That’s so cool. I know you told everyone not to use it, but just show me a little something. I won’t tell.” Awe and child-like wonder permeated her voice. “Cross my heart.” She made the sign of the cross over her heart.

            “You heard everything didn’t you?” His eyebrow quirked upwards, daring her to lie.

She gave him a sheepish smile and looked away before she continued talking about magic, in the hopes he’d forget her listening to their conversation. “I would be the ultimate multi-tasker if I was a witch. Say ‘Abracadabra’ and make the food magically appear on the plate or something.” Willow was giddy with excitement.

            Eli chuckled. “I’m not a wizard. I don’t say ‘Abracadabra.’” He shook his head.

            His explanation confused her. “What does that mean? I thought wizard was a name for a male witch.”

            He sighed and put down the pot he was holding. That comment appeared to get his undivided attention. “You watch too much television. First, regardless of gender, we’re known as witches, those of us that practice white magic. Warlocks are witches that practice black magic. Wizards are charlatans, posers. They don’t know magic, but are exceptional at trickery so they can give someone who doesn’t know any better the illusion they do.”

            She digested the information he’d just given her.

            “That’s why everyone went silent earlier when Matty referenced black magic, because none of you practice it?”

            He nodded and picked up the pot of noodles. “Yes. Now may I finish making dinner?”

            “So you’re not going to cook with magic?” She was expecting him to do tricks and wow her. Disappointment marred her brow, when he didn’t whip out a magic wand or say a spell. 

            “You just said so yourself, that you overheard me tell everyone magic is off limits.”

            Her shoulders slumped in discontent and she pouted. “You can’t do even a tiny little spell?”

            “Nope.”

            She rolled her eyes. “Great. A witch who can’t do any spells or magic.”

            Eli looked offended. “I didn’t say I can’t do magic. I’m just unable to do any at this time.”

            “Uh, huh.” 

            He bristled at her disinterest and she had to hold back a sly grin. “Wizard.” She mumbled under her breath, knowing it would get a rise out of him.

            “I’m not a wizard! I can do magic!” 

            If she lit a match and threw it at him, he would have gone up in flames he was fuming so hard. 

“Whatever.” Maybe she’d just…

ABOUT MONI BOYCE

Moni Boyce is a writer, filmmaker, poet and author of contemporary and paranormal romance novels. She spent the last fifteen years working in the film industry and now creates characters of her own and brings them to life on the page. Moni has ghostwritten romance novellas and novels for over a year now and decided to put some of her own creations out in the world. She considers herself a bookworm, film buff, foodie, music lover and an avid world traveler having visited 32 countries and counting. She lives a bit of a nomadic life, but considers Los Angeles home. Which is the subject of her first travel book: Greater Than A Tourist – Los Angeles, California: 50 Travel Tips From A Local.

CONNECT WITH MONI BOYCE

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New Release: Avoiding Matthew by Caroline Bell Foster

AVOIDING MATTHEW BY CAROLINE BELL FOSTER

A kiss. A promise. A mistake. 

Lacy Dawson would rather spend her days experimenting with brownie recipes and trying on wedding dresses, than go on yet another secret mission to save her country. She needed a way out and found it.

Deaf, Special Operative Matthew Edwards, stumbled across Lacy where she wasn’t supposed to be, while on an enforced vacation.

They’d never been able to stifle their sexual attraction and indulged every time their paths crossed. However, Matthew knew Lacy was working a dangerous mission outside of the bureau. But what? She was too soft and needed protecting from herself. 

Lacy’s secrets take her from America to Russia, to England, all the while with Matthew hot on her heels. 

How could she avoid Matthew? Did she want to?

AVAILABLE ON:

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EXCERPT

Lacy pressed the gas and the car surged forward. A powerful engine under the guise of a rusty exterior. With one hand she managed to button up three buttons on her shirt, before seeing Matthew in the middle of the road, pointing a gun at her.

 No doubt it would be her gun, she thought, pursing her lips.

 Frowning deeply and knowing he would move, she kept going. Flooring the gas pedal.

 She did up another button.

 His hair was shorter than the last time she had seen him, she thought, noticing the burnished red being picked up by her headlights. She went full beam.

 He didn’t squint as she thought he would.

 She watched as he spread his legs wider, aiming the gun at her head and she narrowed her eyes driving faster. He would move. 

 Please move.

 Move!

 Move damn it!

 He didn’t.

 Lacy gasped, skidded out of control for a split second before pulling up the handbrake, gripping the steering wheel and spinning the car in the opposite direction.

 Matthew was lying motionless on his side in the middle of the road.

 “You idiot!” Lacy yelled frantically, coming to a stop and storming out of the car.

 Matthew had hit the hood hard, bumped up the windscreen to slide off the side. He’d frightened the life out of her. She watched as he lifted his head, shook it once then twice, before rolling over and hauling himself up.

 She catalogued his slow movements. He’d be sore in the morning, but otherwise, he was okay she thought charitably. Stupid man.

 “Matthew?!” Lacy yelled from a safe distance. If Matthew caught her now he would want answers. She wasn’t giving him, or anyone else answers, and that included their mutual employer.

 “You hit me!” Matthew charged.

 “You shouldn’t have been in the middle of the road!” Lacy shot back.

 “You’re fucking crazy,” he wiped his nose with his arm, “do you know that? You could have killed me!”

 “Running you over is not the way I plan to kill you.” She answered, noticing his small but gaining steps. She edged to the door.

 “Oh yeah,” he smirked, he couldn’t see much of her, what with the headlights trained his way, but he could see enough. She’d buttoned her shirt up wrong and hadn’t got to the top buttons yet. He could see the golden slope of her breasts. Breasts he had held in his hands not half an hour ago. “And how do you plan to kill me?” he asked conversationally.She didn’t answer but was looking down at her phone in her hand before throwing it into the car. 

 “I’ll tell you another time,” she advised on a laugh. “Duty calls.” She told him, getting into her small car.

 Matthew jogged towards her vehicle, but she was already driving off. Matthew watched her go with a smirk and the biggest hard-on he’d had in half an hour.

 When she was at a reasonable distance, she stopped.

 Matthew waited with his arms crossed over his chest.

 “Have a hot shower babe!” she yelled at him on a laugh, before driving off.

 Matthew laughed and laughed even harder as he picked her gun from the asphalt. She’d be back for it, he knew.

 Until next time sweetheart, he thought with a smirk.

CAROLINE BELL FOSTER IS GIVING AWAY A $25 AMAZON GIFT CARD

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ABOUT CAROLINE BELL FOSTER

Caroline Bell Foster is an internationally bestselling, multi-award-winning British author of diverse romantic fiction. She is named as one of the most influential people in culture & entertainment in the East Midlands and also listed in the Top 100 Most Influential Creatives.

Caroline spent her formative years in the Caribbean, where her thirst for exploring other cultures began. Ever the adventurer, she bought her first pair of high heels in Toronto and traded her pink sunglasses for a bus ride in the Rift Valley, Kenya at 18.

With themes of substance, Caroline’s latest novels’ defy convention and celebrate modern day Britain with several titles set primarily in the East Midlands, where she shares her love for the three main cities and the surrounding ‘shires’ with her readers. 

Caroline has come full circle and lives in Nottingham, England just twelve miles from where she was born. Married to her college sweetheart husband, David, they have two children and they are all ruled over by 17 year-old, rescue cat Naomi ‘Nay Nay Boo’.

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New Release: Temptation by Chiquita Dennie


TEMPTATION BY CHIQUITA DENNIE

Age ain’t nothing but a number.

Gabriel McCollough is the star basketball coach, Top draft pick that played in one season and retired from the game of basketball from a injury and the twenty-five-year-old alpha male every young woman in town can’t help but like.

Desiree Spence is a good teacher, a good person, a quiet, reserved soul, but a chance meeting with a handsome coach, ten years her junior, tests her limits and stirs up a controversy she could’ve ever anticipated.

He wants her. She wants him. Everyone in their lives is against their relationship.

Will they give into societal pressures or follow their hearts’ desires?

Note: Chiquita writes stories with explicit language and adult content.

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EXCERPT

Prologue: Desiree

“Do you, Desiree Spence, take Gabriel McCullough to be your lawfully-wedded husband?” the pastor asked. He looked between Gabriel and me as we stared into each other’s eyes. Gabriel’s touch was reassuring; his eyes alone seemed to undress me, as though it were just the two of us standing there. 

That was the moment we’d been waiting for. After multiple obstacles and breakups, I realized I needed to put myself first and not let other factors define my happiness. Gabriel showed no signs of hesitation in marrying me, and I appreciated his strength and motivation. 

Over the past year, I’d taken a new job at East High School after leaving my old job as a substitute teacher. I’d dealt with David’s betrayal and getting fired. My family stood by me—even though my father wanted to kick his ass. Hearing the gossip around town helped my decision to start over in a new townand make new memories. What I didn’t expect was to encounter an overwhelmingforce that turned my life upside down—thissmooth, charismatic charmer with rich,milk-chocolate skin and dimples, with a small scar next to his mouth. Some people might have been put off by it, but in a weird way, it made him even sexier to me. Standing tall, at around 6’3”, he had broad shoulders and thick, muscular arms that brought me comfort every night in bed—not to mention Gabriel’s soft, oval, dark-browneyes that hadme melting in the palms of his hands. I loved climbing onto him every chance I got. Feeling his hands running up anddown my back brought chills to my spine. 

We waited before having sex again until the wedding night. It was Gabriel’s idea, and after the shock wore off, I remembered he always put my needs above his own. 

David could never compare to Gabriel; many times, David came off as selfish, making plans that revolved around his own needs. He liked to show off to our mutual friends and make himself seem bigger and more important than anyone else. I could count on my one hand how many times he got involved in the community.

After several nights of tossing and turning and yearning to have Gabriel by my side, I couldn’t wait to get him alone and try something new. The church we picked out was beautiful, with its fine crystal-and-gold window trimming. Flowers adorned each row, and thanks to the high ceiling, the church choir sounded exquisite as they performed one of my favorite songs, Tamia’s “Spend My Life with You”.

“Baby, you, all right?” Gabriel asked and squeezed my hands tighter to pull me out of my trance. 

A part of me felt nervous; my stomach was doing somersaults and my hands were sweaty; I was about to become someone’s wife. I looked around the room at my family, and my best friend, Sidney, as she rocked her newborn baby and my goddaughter, Coco, to sleep. If I hadn’t listened to Sidney that day and interviewed for the job, I wouldn’t have met my future love, my backbone, best friend, and my weakness. 

“Excuse me, Pastor,what did you say?” I asked as our guests laughed at me for zoning out during my wedding. 

“I asked, do you take Gabriel to be your wedded husband, to have and to hold, through sickness and in health, till death do you part?”

“I do,” I answered, giving Gabriel a coy smile.

“I do,” Gabriel answered huskily.

“I now pronounce you husband and wife, and you may kiss the bride.”

I heard everyone shout and cheer before we even kissed.I caught a glimpse of Gabriel’s mother and sister, whispering back and forth; apparently, his mother was not the least bit interested in what was going on at her son’s wedding. I was amused by her long, sleeveless black dress and black sunglasses. Of course, she dressed like it was a funeral, instead of our wedding day. I was not surprised she showed up—just surprised she didn’t stop the wedding. 

I had a great relationship with his father, grandparents, and friends. His mom thought I was the devil, and she had tried her best to keep us apart—even conspiring with his ex-girlfriend to break us up, and then trying to convince him to play basketball again and quit teaching.

Gabriel lifted my veil and stared into my eyes as the tears slowly slipped down my cheeks. Standing on my tiptoes, I met him halfway, and our mouths sealed our vows. It was a sensual, pulsating kiss that had my juices flowing. I was ready to take him into the bathroom for a quickie.

“I love you, Mrs. McCullough,” he said.

“I love you too, Mr. McCullough.”

He gently wiped the tears traveling down my face.  “How does it feel to marry a man 10 years younger than you, babe?”

“Like I have a lifetime to share new memories—”

The church doors opened, and a familiar voice cut me off. “Desiree!”

“Da—David?” I stuttered, shocked at his interruption. 

ABOUT CHIQUITA DENNIE

Chiquita is an Author and Entrepreneur. Born in Memphis, TN, and currently a Los Angeles CA native. Her background in film/tv has taught and shaped her passion for writing with her debut romance novel Antonio and Sabrina Struck In Love. Favorite genre to write Contemporary Romantic Suspense. Since its debut, fans have embraced the unconventional love story of Sabrina Washington and Antonio De Luca. Amazon Best Seller in Italian, African American Drama,and Multicultral Romance. Check out her other work in Erotic, Paranormal and Women’s Fiction under amazon.com/kekerenee.

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