A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair – Excerpt + Giveaway

atod - banner

Hello lovelies! Today is my day on the A Touch of Darkness tour. Take a peek at an excerpt of the upcoming novel below!

atod - cover

Title: A Touch of Darkness
Author
: Scarlett St. Clair
Series: Hades & Persephone #1
Genre: Adult, Mythology, Retelling, Romance
Release Date: Spring 2019

Goodreads

Persephone is the Goddess of Spring by title only. The truth is, since she was a little girl, flowers have shriveled at her touch. After moving to New Athens, she hopes to lead an unassuming life disguised as a mortal journalist.

Hades, God of the Dead, has built a gambling empire in the mortal world and his favorite bets are rumored to be impossible.

After a chance encounter with Hades, Persephone finds herself in a contract with the God of the Dead and the terms are impossible: Persephone must create life in the Underworld or lose her freedom forever.

The bet does more than expose Persephone’s failure as a Goddess, however. As she struggles to sow the seeds of her freedom, love for the God of the Dead grows—and it’s forbidden.

Excerpt:

Persephone sat in the sunlight.

She’d chosen her favorite spot at The Coffee House, an outdoor table just out of view of the shop’s window. Shade trees and box gardens teeming with purple aster and pink and white sweet alyssum lined the crowded pedestrian street. A light breeze carried the scent of spring and the honeyed air was mild.

This was her season. She should have felt more relaxed.

But her eyes drifted to a bunch of narcissus flowers that sat in a slender vase on her table. It was a sparse bouquet, and one flower’s petals were crisp and brown, curling like the fingers of a corpse.

The narcissus were the flower and symbol of Hades, the God of the Dead. They did not often decorate tables, but coffins instead. Their presence at The Coffee House probably meant that the owners were in mourning. Few mortals worshipped Hades, and even his cult—a group of mortals who maintained his temple—was small, and used only when death loomed.

Persephone wondered how Hades felt about that—to only be worshipped when the fear of death was imminent. Perhaps that was why he was so merciless.

“Don’t waste your time rationalizing his behavior, daughter,” Demeter, her mother and the Goddess of Harvest, had said. “Hades is a manipulator.”

And from what Persephone had heard since she moved to New Athens, her mother seemed to be right. Hades might be the God of the Dead, but he was also known as the Rich One. He controlled most of the world’s wealth, and had invested that money into a several clubs throughout New Greece—and not just any clubs. These were gambling dens. It was said Hades liked a good bet, and rarely accepted a wager other than the human soul.

Persephone tore her gaze from the flowers, and focused instead on her laptop and notes. It was Thursday, and she had left school an hour ago. She ordered her usual vanilla latte, and needed to start working on her research paper. She wanted to finish today so she could concentrate on her new internship at New Athens News, the leading news source in New Athens. If she did well, she’d have a job after she graduated in six months.

And she was eager to prove herself.

Her internship was located in the Acropolis. It was the tallest building in the city at one-hundred-and-one floors. One of the first things Persephone did when she moved to New Athens was take an elevator to the top so she could see the city in its entirety. Now, four years later, it was hard to believe she would be going there on an almost daily basis for work.

Persephone’s phone buzzed on the table.

She looked down and found a message from her best friend, Lexa Sideris. Lexa was Persephone’s first friend when she’d moved to New Athens four years ago. Through Lexa, Persephone had learned to be mortal, and though Lexa did not know it, she would always have Persephone’s protection and favor. What little she could offer, anyway.

Where are you?
Persephone responded, The Coffee House.
Why? We need to celebrate!
Persephone smiled. Ever since she’d told Lexa about her new job two weeks ago, she’d been hounding her to go out for drinks. Persephone had managed to postpone the outing, but she was quickly running out of excuses and Lexa knew it.

I am celebrating. Persephone text. With a vanilla latte.
Not with coffee. Alcohol. Shots. You + Me. Tonight.
Before Persephone could respond, a waitress approached holding a tray and her steaming latte. Persephone came here often enough to know the girl was as new as the narcissus. Her hair was in two braids, and her eyes were dark and laced with heavy lashes.

The girl smiled and asked, “Vanilla latte?”
“Yes,” Persephone said.
The waitress sat Persephone’s mug down, and then tucked her tray under her arm.
“Need anything else?”
Persephone met the girl’s gaze. “Do you think Lord Hades

has a sense of humor?”
Her eyes widened, and she responded, “I don’t know what

you mean.”
The girl was clearly uncomfortable, probably at hearing

Hades’ name. Most tried to avoid saying it, or they called him Aidoneus, to avoid drawing his attention, but Persephone wasn’t afraid. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that she was a goddess.

“I think he must have a sense of humor,” she said. “The narcissi are a symbol of spring and rebirth,” her fingers hovered over the petals. If anything, the flower should be her symbol. “Why else would he claim it as his?”

Persephone stared back at the girl, and her cheeks flushed. She stammered, “L-let me know if you need anything.”

She bowed her head and went back to work.

Enter the giveaway here!

  • Prize: $25 Amazon gift card
  • International
  • Ends May 16, 2019

About Scarlett St. Clair:

atod - author photo

Scarlett St. Clair lives in Oklahoma with her husband. She has a Master’s degree in Library Science and Information Studies and spends a lot of time researching reincarnation, unsolved murders and Greek mythology-all of which made it into her debut novel, When Stars Come Out.

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

XBTBanner1

Advertisements

That Second Chance by Meghan Quinn – Release Day Blitz + Excerpt

tsc - banner

tsc - cover.jpg

Title: That Second Chance
Author
: Meghan Quinn
Series: Getting Lucky #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: May 7, 2019

Goodreads
Amazon US | Amazon UK
Amazon CA | Amazon AU

USA Today bestselling author Meghan Quinn delivers a smart and cheeky romance about love’s power to lift hearts . . . and curses.

It was supposed to be an innocent night, celebrating my brother’s birthday. Nothing was supposed to go wrong. We’d vowed to be on our best behavior after all . . . 

But it only took one rowdy night with my brothers to flip my world upside down. One unlucky encounter saddled us with a family curse and the promise of doomed relationships. I laughed it off immediately. “Yeah, right,” I thought. “A love curse. Ha!”

Boy, was I wrong. 

Word spreads quickly in a town like mine; rumors about that night soon made us the most eligible yet untouchable bachelors in Port Snow, Maine. As a subject of endless gossip and speculation, I could kiss my dating life goodbye. 

It would have stayed that way if Ren Winters, the new girl in town, hadn’t crashed into my life. Brave, beautiful, and smart—her vivacious thirst for a fresh start has given me hope that maybe, just maybe, I can have one too. 

Everyone wishes for that second chance . . . but could this really be mine?

tsc - teaser

Excerpt:

I’m counting out our register drawer, trying to stay focused on the numbers whipping through my head, but it’s difficult with Reid’s constant small talk. I jot down another tally mark on the paper in front of me and set aside a stack of bills.

“Hello, are you listening?” Reid asks, sounding annoyed.

“No. I’m counting.”

“Well, I’m talking about you, so you might want to lend me your ear for a second.”

Huffing, I set the cash on the counter, knowing my very persistent brother won’t be quiet until I give him my full attention. “What’s up, Reid?”

Satisfied, he smiles. “You should ask her out.”

“Ask who out?”

“Ren.”

Yeah, that’s not going to happen. “No.”  

I go back to counting, but Reid starts snapping his fingers at me. “Hey, I wasn’t finished.” I look back up at him, not even slightly interested in this conversation. “I saw the way she was looking at you today. I think she likes you.”

“You’re confused. She was probably just being nice, since I’m the guy who pulled her out of the window of her car after her accident. And even if she does like me, which I highly doubt, there’s no interest on my end. So that’s the end of that.”

“Bull,” Reid and Jen both say at the same time.

Christ. My two most nagging siblings are ganging up on me. Just what I need when I’m trying to get home and relax.

“Can we not make this into a dissection of my personal life, please? I’m not in the mood, and I want to get this done so I can go home.”

“Griff, she’s pretty, she’s sweet, and she’s smart. She’s new to town and, I’m sure, could use a friend,” Jen says just as the door opens, its bell chiming through the space. Brig pops in, grease all over his shirt and a smirk on his face.

Uh-oh. There’s only one reason why he’d be smirking at me that way.

“What are we talking about?” He rubs his hands together and takes a seat on a barstool near the window. “If it’s about the hot new teacher in town, I want in on this conversation.”

“We’re trying to convince Griff to ask her out.”

Brig slow claps his appreciation. “Novel idea. I think they’re a perfect match.”

“I’m not asking her out,” I huff, giving up on the register and leaning against the wall behind me, arms crossed. There’s no way I’ll be able to concentrate on counting while these three are yapping in my ear.

“Why the hell not? She’s perfect for you,” Brig says, a little insulted at my rejection. “Before you even say no, you should at least get to know her a little. I told her today she could borrow your truck while her car is in the shop.”

I count to five before answering, tamping down my temper. “Why the hell would you do that?” Okay, maybe I didn’t tamp it down enough.

“Uh, because she lives three houses down from you?” Brig rolls his eyes as if I’m the stupid one in this conversation. “She needs some help, so be a knight in shining armor, dude. Help out the damsel in distress and then make out with her on the beach. Maybe cop a feel; get some for once.”  

“I’m not doing that,” I answer, going back to the money, letting them know this conversation is over.

“And why not?” Jen asks.

“Because I’m not interested in starting or being in a relationship. I’m happy with how my life is right now, and I don’t need anything complicating it.”

“But she has heart eyes for you,” Brig says like a jackass.

“Don’t worry; there are plenty of Knightly brothers to choose from,” I reply.

“Come on, Griff, how fun can going home to an empty, lonely house really be?” Jen chimes in, concern evident in her voice.

I shift on my feet, my voice terse. “I like my house. It’s fine. I’m fine.”

Silence falls between us, an awkward air moving in like a fast-moving cold front.

“Is this because of New Orleans?” Reid finally asks, taking a seat next to Brig. Both of my brothers fix their gazes on me, waiting for an answer.

Why is this a thing whenever we talk about my love life? Can’t they just let it go? What happened was … hell, I don’t even know how to describe it. All I know is I don’t foresee love in my future.

Claire was the love of my life, and I lost her; in a blink of an eye she was gone. I’m not going through that again. Not ever.

Shaking my head, I turn away from my family. This conversation is over.

And with that, I take the cash to the back office, where I can get some peace and quiet.

Ask Ren Winters out on a date? Not going to happen.

And she’s not going to drive my truck either. I think that’s evident in the fact that she drove her car in between two trees.

Can’t blame a guy there.

About Meghan Quinn:

tsc - author photo

USA Today Bestselling Author, wife, adoptive mother, and peanut butter lover. Author of romantic comedies and contemporary romance, Meghan Quinn brings readers the perfect combination of heart, humor, and heat in every book.

Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter | Website | Bookbub | Amazon

Remind Me by Samantha Chase – Excerpt Reveal

rm - banner.png

rm - cover

Title: Remind Me
Author: Samantha Chase
Series: Magnolia Sound #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: March 12, 2019

Goodreads
Amazon | Apple | Barnes & Noble
Kobo | Google Play

It’s been years since Mallory Westbrook set foot in Magnolia Sound, but the death of her great-grandfather forces her back. Two weeks to get his affairs in order then she would return to her life in New York. The perfect plan, if not for Jake Summerford—her first love who broke her heart. 

Jake always regretted the way things ended with Mallory and now that she’s back in town, he’s hoping they can put the past behind them. As they reconnect, old feelings resurface and Jake realizes that friendship is only the beginning of what he wants from Mallory. 

With one foot out of the door, Mallory is looking for any excuse to leave Magnolia Sound behind. Forever. Will Jake’s plan to replace the old, painful memories help him finally show her their love deserves another chance?

rm - teaser.png

Excerpt:

“But we were already hanging out,” Mallory reminded him and the look Sam gave her bordered on hysterical. “What? What’s so funny?”

“We all know I’m the third wheel here and the two of you would like nothing more than to be alone, so…I’m leaving,” he said, walking back into the kitchen to put the beer back in the refrigerator. “I’m gonna go home and tell Mom what the plan is–I’m going out to be a good cousin, while you’re here doing…I don’t know…Jake.” He winked. “You two have fun!”

Jake knew he didn’t let out a breath until the back door closed and he saw Sam walk down the deck stairs from the living room window. “Well…that was…awkward.”

“Just a little,” Mallory agreed. “Ugh…why is my brother such a dork?”

Laughing, Jake shifted them until her head was on his shoulder. “I wouldn’t call him a dork, he’s just a little…”

“He’s a dork. Trust me. We’re twins and I’m allowed to say it.” She shook her head. “He’s going to be snarky about this until he leaves.”

“About what?”

“You and me. Us. The fact that he knows what we’re doing.” She groaned. “Now, every time I mention seeing you or doing something, he’s going to make some sort of doofus comment about how I’m doing you. I’m telling you, he’s the worst.”

But Jake couldn’t help but laugh. He didn’t have any siblings so he didn’t understand the dynamics, but from where he was sitting, it was all pretty comical. The fact that they each other and had such obvious affection for each other was a pretty amazing thing. Maybe it was because they were twins or something. All he knew was that he hadn’t met many siblings with the kind of relationship Sam and Mallory had.

Plus, he liked knowing Sam looked out for her when he couldn’t.

And that one single thought had him going still.

This wasn’t going anywhere–this was about passing the time and getting her out of his system. He wasn’t supposed to be thinking about his feelings or hers. This was temporary. They both saw the end before they started up again, so why was he suddenly feeling concerned about how Mallory was going to be when he wasn’t around?

“Jake?” she asked softly, looking up at him. “You okay?”

He nodded. Right now, he didn’t want to talk. Hell, he didn’t want to think either. All he wanted was to feel–feel Mallory’s body against his. Feel her skin under his hands. Feel her breath mingling with his.

Standing, he gently tugged her to her feet before plunging his hands into her hair and giving her a searing kiss. If she was surprised by the sudden change of events, she didn’t show it. If anything, she kissed him back with equal abandon.

So good, he thought. Kissing Mallory was always so damn good…

When he had invited her to come home with him earlier–before Sam showed up–Jake envisioned them coming in and talking and maybe sharing some lazy kisses before he seduced her into staying the night. But as Mallory pressed up against him and purred, he was pretty sure nothing was going to be slow and lazy, and that he was the one being seduced.

And he loved every minute of it.

Without breaking the kiss, they maneuvered across the room and down the hall, stopping once so he could back her against the wall and grind against her. She tore her lips from his and sighed his name like a plea. Reaching down, Jake lifted her until her legs wrapped around his waist and it took every bit of self-control he possessed not to take her right then and there. Her dress was bunched up at her waist and the barely-there panties would be gone with only the slightest of tugs…

“Bed,” he growled against her throat even as he continued to rub against her. “I want you in my bed.”

“Then take me there,” she said breathlessly.

Easier said than done, he thought, forcing himself to walk the last ten feet to his room. At the side of the bed, he simply let himself fall and kept Mallory in his arms. They laughed and rolled until they were comfortable and then he sank back into the kiss.

Mallory tugged at his shirt and once she had it pulled free of his trousers, her nails scraped up his back and it gave him chills. Sitting up quickly, he ripped the shirt off–buttons flying in every direction.

“Wow,” she panted. “That was incredibly sexy.”

“Oh, yeah?” he asked, his own breath coming out roughly. “How do you feel about this?” His hand snaked under her dress and he tugged her tiny panties off–the sound of the fabric ripping seemed insanely loud in the room.

“Oh!” she cried as her hips bucked off the bed. Jake knew what she wanted and he was more than happy to give it to her. In a flash her dress was off. He peeled her bra off with his teeth as she writhed beneath him. “Jake…”

Once he had her completely naked, his self-control completely vanished. His mouth and hands were everywhere. While he licked and suckled at her breasts, his hand was ruthlessly teasing her between her legs. Watching Mallory lose control was one of his favorite pastimes and as he urged her on, he knew it would always be this way. She cried out his name again and again and again and each time it ratcheted his own arousal up more and more.

He hated to move away from her even for a second, but he still had half of his own clothes to discard. Mallory reached for him as he moved away and he smoothed a hand across her stomach. “Soon,” he whispered. “I’m not going anywhere.”

rm - teaser 2.png

About Samantha Chase:

omm - author photo

Samantha Chase is a New York Times and USA Today bestseller of contemporary romance. She released her debut novel in 2011 and currently has more than forty titles under her belt! When she’s not working on a new story, she spends her time reading romances, playing way too many games of Scrabble or Solitaire on Facebook, wearing a tiara while playing with her sassy pug Maylene…oh, and spending time with her husband of 25 years and their two sons in North Carolina.

 

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Newsletter | BookBub

 

 

The Last Letter by Rebecca Yarros – Release Day Blitz + Excerpt

tll - banner.jpg

tll - cover.jpg

Title: The Last Letter
Author
: Rebecca Yarros
Genre: Military Romance, Contemporary Romance
Release Date: February 26, 2019

Goodreads
Indigo | Amazon | Apple
Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Beckett,

If you’re reading this, well, you know the “last-letter” drill. You made it. I didn’t. Get off the guilt train, because I know if there were any chance you could have saved me, you would have.

I need one thing from you: Get out of the army and get to Telluride.

My little sister Ella’s raising the twins alone. She’s too independent and won’t accept help easily, but she has lost our grandmother, our parents, and now me. It’s too much for anyone to endure. It’s not fair.

And here’s the kicker: there’s something else you don’t know that’s tearing her family apart. She’s going to need help.

So if I’m gone, that means I can’t be there for Ella. I can’t help them through this. But you can. So I’m begging you, as my best friend, go take care of my sister, my family.

Please don’t make her go through it alone.

Ryan

“I cannot imagine a world without this story.” –Hypable

“A stunning, emotional romance.” – Jill Shalvis, NYT Bestselling Author

“This story gripped me from start to finish. The Last Letter is poignant, heartfelt and utterly consuming. I loved it!” – Mia Sheridan, NYT Bestselling Author

“Hands down, the best book I’ve read all year.” – Fic Wishes

tll - teaser.jpg

Excerpt:

“Ella.” It was a plea to speak, to not speak. Hell, I didn’t know anymore.

“You don’t see me like that. I totally get it.” She reached for the TV remote.

“How exactly do I see you? Please, enlighten me.” I leaned forward, stealing the remote. She’d opened this box and had better well dish it.

She huffed in annoyance. “You see me as a mom. As Colt and Maisie’s mom. And of course you do, because that’s what I am. A mom with two kids.”

“Well, yeah,” I said. Her motherhood—that selfless devotion she had to her kids—was one of her most attractive attributes.

She rolled her eyes with a little sigh, and the metaphorical light bulb went off in my head.

“You don’t think I want you.”

She shot me a look that confirmed my guess and blushed the same crimson of her couch. “You know, you’re right. It’s late.” She faked a yawn. “Suuuuuuper late.”

“I want you.” Damn, it felt so good to say the words.

“Yeah, okay.” She gave me a goofy look and a thumbs-up. “Please don’t make me feel any more idiotic than I do right now.”

Yeah, enough of this bullshit.

I pounced in one smooth motion, taking her back to the couch, sliding over her as I gathered her wrists in one hand above her head and settled between her open thighs.

Home.

“Holy shit, you move fast.” There was no fear or rejection in her eyes, just surprise.

“Not in every arena,” I promised.

Her lips parted.

“Ella. I want you.”

“Beckett…you don’t have to.”

Yeah, that soft little sigh she did was going to be my undoing.

I let go of her wrists, letting my fingers trail down her arm until I had one hand weaving my fingers into the hair at the base of her scalp and the other at the curve in her waist.

“Feel this?” Then I slid forward, letting my dick stroke along the seam in her pajama pants hard enough for her to gasp at the contact. I couldn’t remember ever wanting to shred a piece of fabric so much in my life. “I’ve never wanted a woman as much as I want you.”

I moved again, and her eyes slid shut as she let loose the sweetest moan.

My dick throbbed, knowing everything I’d fantasized about for the better part of the last eight months was one decision away.

“Beckett.” Her hands found my biceps, her nails digging in.

“Don’t ever think that I don’t want you, because if things were different, I would have already been inside you. I would know exactly how you feel, and what you sound like, look like, when you come. I’ve thought about it at least a hundred different ways, and believe me, I’ve got a great imagination.”

She rocked her hips against me, and I locked my jaw to keep from giving her exactly what her body was asking for. “Ella, you have to stop.”

“Why?” she asked, her lips dangerously close to mine. “What do you mean if things were different?” Her eyes flew wide. “Is this because I have kids?”

“What? No. Of course not. It’s because you’re Ryan’s little sister.” Before I could do any more damage, I got the hell off her and sat back on my side of the couch.

“Because…I’m Ryan’s little sister,” she repeated, scooting so she sat upright, facing me. “And you think he’d, what? Haunt you?”

Three things: The letter. The cancer. The lie.

I repeated those in my head until I was certain I could look at her and not drag her back under me.

“Beckett?”

“When I was growing up, if I wanted something, I took it. Immediately. I had sex at fourteen with a girl in my foster home of the moment. I opened Christmas presents early if I was lucky enough to get one, and it was usually from my social worker or some charity.”

“I don’t understand.” She wrapped her arms around her knees again.

“I took it immediately because I knew if I didn’t, chances were I wouldn’t get it. It was a now-or-never kind of thing—there weren’t second chances.”

“Okay.”

“I can’t touch you, can’t talk about it, because I’m afraid I’ll act on it.”

“And why does that matter if I want you to?”

“Because I won’t get a second chance. And I’m crap with people, with relationships. I’ve never had one that lasted more than a month. Never loved a woman I’ve slept with. And chances are I’d do something to screw this up, because it’s not just my dick that wants you, Ella.”

That O popped right back onto her face, and I closed my eyes to keep from lunging across the distance and kissing her. Knowing she’d let me—that she wanted it—sent my need from a bullet to a nuclear missile.

“And when I’d screw it up, because it would happen, trust me, it would hurt Colt and Maisie, too. You’d be on your own again, because there’s no chance you’d let me hang around and help you out like Ryan asked.”

“And there it is.”

“There it is. You’re Ryan’s little sister.”

“There were only five years between us. Not so little, you know.” She reached for the remote.

“I’m well aware.”

“So if Ryan were still alive…” She shot one last look at me.

I let everything slip for a millisecond, letting her see it all in my eyes, how badly I wanted her, and not just for her body. “Everything would be different.”

“Everything?”

“Everything but the way I feel about you, which he probably would have killed me for. Where does that leave us?”

“You mean besides me being a dried-up spinster and you being honor-bound to a ghost?”

“Something like that.”

She rolled her head along the back of the couch, muttering something that sounded like a curse word under her breath. Then she sat up straight and powered on the TV with a click of her thumb. “That leaves us choosing a movie on demand. Because I’m not letting you walk out that door right now.”

“You’re not?”

“Nope. You walk out now, you might get all weird about this and not come back. Honor is a fabulous thing, but sometimes pride can be a lot stronger, especially when you convince yourself it’s for the good of the other person.”

Damn, the woman knew me.

“So movie it is,” I agreed. “Just…stay on your side of the couch.”

“I wasn’t the one who crossed the center line,” she teased with a smile that got me hard all over again.

Movie chosen, we sat and watched, both of us stealing sideways glances. There was that saying…the horse out of the barn. Yeah, the horse was out of the barn, and it wasn’t going back in. Not no way. Not no how.

That horse was running amok and screwing with my carefully constructed control.

But I didn’t complain when she moved over. Or when she pressed against my side. Nope. I lifted my arm and savored the feel of her curves, her trust. Still didn’t complain when she lay down in my arms. Hell no, I held on and memorized every second.

About Rebecca Yarros:

tll - author photo.jpg

Rebecca Yarros is a hopeless romantic and a lover of all things coffee, chocolate, and Paleo. She is the author of the Flight & Glory series, including Full Measures, the award-winning Eyes Turned Skyward, Beyond What is Given, and Hallowed Ground. She loves military heroes, and has been blissfully married to hers for sixteen years.

When she’s not writing, she’s tying hockey skates for her four sons, sneaking in some guitar time, or watching brat-pack movies with her two daughters. She lives in Colorado with the hottest Apache pilot ever, their rambunctious gaggle of kids, an English bulldog who is more stubborn than sweet, and a bunny named General Fluffy Pants who torments the aforementioned bulldog. Having adopted their youngest daughter from the foster system, and Rebecca is passionate about helping others do the same.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter | Goodreads

InkSlinger Blogger Final

The Stand-In Boyfriend by Emma Doherty – Excerpt Reveal + Giveaway

tsib - banner

tsib - cover.jpg

Title: The Stand-In Boyfriend

Author: Emma Doherty

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: March 12, 2019

Goodreads

Livy Chapman is in love with Jessie Stephenson. It’s that simple. She has been for years but he only see’s her as his best friend. His best friend who copies her homework, relies on her to bail him out of trouble and who he hooks up with other girls in front of.

Enough is enough and when Chase Mitchell, star of the soccer team, and all round Mr. Popular steps in and convinces her that they can do each other a favour by pretending to date, Livy is just crazy enough over Jessie to agree to it.

I mean, Chase is just her stand-in boyfriend. Nothing could go wrong. Right?

tsib - teaser.jpg

Excerpt:

“What’s wrong? Everything going okay with you and Jessie?”

“I don’t know where he is.” My eyes flash around the room, but he’s not in here either. Where the hell did he go? He wouldn’t just leave would he?

“I’m sure he’s around. He must have gotten stuck talking to someone.”

I shake my head. For some reason, I have a bad feeling about this, but I don’t know why. I mean, yeah, I was gone for half an hour so of course he’s not just going to stand there on his own and wait for me, but there were a lot of people in the kitchen—he could have just joined them, and he said he’d wait for me. We had a connection, didn’t we? He wouldn’t just walk away. “Have you seen him?”

Sophie shakes her head. Her eyes narrow in concern and she takes a step closer to me. Anyone else would laugh and tell me I’m being stupid, but Sophie knows me too well for that. She knows I’m getting anxious and panicky. “Should I come look for him with you?”

I shake my head, glancing behind her at Mark and Jackson, who have been joined by more of their crowd. “No, no. You’re right, he’s probably back in the kitchen by now and I just missed him.” I force a smile then back out of the room. I turn back in the direction I came from, intent on returning to the kitchen and even trying subtly to do some of those breathing exercises the child psychologist I saw in middle school told me to do when I start to get anxious. I walk past the huge spiral staircase in Aaron’s hall.

I pause, my heartbeat hammering my chest, and I don’t know what makes me do it but I step up onto the first step, and then the next, and the next, until I’m heading upstairs with my eyes locked ahead of me. I know what goes on in the upstairs bedrooms at these parties. Every Monday morning, the Grove Valley High rumor mill is in full swing talking about who hooked up with who. 

But Jessie was waiting for me!

Jessie was looking at me like I was special, like he was finally seeing me differently and something was definitely happening, but that doesn’t stop the sickening feeling in my gut. Despite the fact that my heart is pounding and I can feel my hands shaking, I know I need to rule this out.

I get to the top and look down the hall just as a girl in my trig class emerges from the first bedroom on the right with a boy I don’t recognize. She smiles sheepishly as she passes me, the cocky grin on the guy’s face making it clear what they’ve been up to. I force myself to smile, ignoring the dead weight in my stomach as I take a couple of steps farther along the hallway.

I suddenly feel stupid. What the hell am I going to do now that I’m up here? I’m certainly not going to go knocking on any doors just to check if Jessie is behind one of them. The thought alone makes me blush bright red. He’s probably downstairs in a corner talking about his latest video game obsession and I’m stalking the halls of Aaron’s mansion. I almost laugh out loud at the sheer ridiculousness of the situation. I decide to try to find a bathroom now that I’m up here, hoping it’s obvious from the outside that it’s a bathroom and not a bedroom, and continue walking, assuming the bathroom will be at the end of a hallway. I take a right at the end (seriously, that’s how big Aaron’s house is—the hallway leads onto another), and that’s when I stop dead.

That’s when I feel my heart crack in two.

That’s when I find Jessie.

With Courtney. Making out against the wall.

Somehow I manage to not say a word as I watch them kissing…as I watch his hand under her top, groping at her body…as she makes these ridiculous noises like she’s in some sort of adult film, dropping her hands to his belt buckle and starting to undo it.
I feel like I’m going to throw up.

I start to back away, tears already in my eyes, and I swear, I swear Courtney looks my way for a split second and a smirk covers her face when she sees me standing here. Then Jessie reaches for the handle of the door she’s leaning up against and they both tumble into the room, slamming the door behind them.

I am so stupid. I am so, so fucking stupid. My body starts shaking and fresh tears roll down my face. How could I think tonight was going to be it? How could I be dumb enough to think Jessie might actually like me back? I swipe away at the tears, heartbroken that he’s just dismissed me after what felt like a new beginning, but at the same time angry at myself. I should have known. I should have known better than to think I might actually get what I want, and I can’t cover up the sob that escapes from my throat.

“Uh…” I jump out of my skin at the voice behind me. “Are you okay?”

I whirl around to see Chase Mitchell standing there, looking the most awkward I’ve ever seen anyone look. I turn my back to him and swipe at my face, trying to get rid of the tears, which won’t stop falling.

“Yeah,” I reply. “I’m fine.” It’d be more believable if my voice wasn’t cracking as I speak. I wait to hear his footsteps back away, sure the sight of a crying girl is enough to make him run for the hills, but instead he steps around me while I stare at my feet.

“Livy.” I shake my head frantically. I can’t look up. I can’t face anyone right now, not when it feels like I’ve just had my heart ripped in two. “Livy,” he says again softly, and something about his voice, the way there’s no mocking lilt and the concern in his tone make me look up at him. He’s standing by the door opposite the one Courtney and Jessie are in, and he pushes it open. “Come in here. It’s Aaron’s room—no one will see you in here. It’s been locked so there’s no one inside.”

I nod, because honestly what else can I do at this point? My body won’t stop shaking and I’m having no luck stopping the tears. I just need to sit down for a couple of minutes and pull myself together before I have to face the party again.

Once inside the room, I sink down onto Aaron’s bed and look down at my hands, twisting my fingers together in a desperate attempt to stop them from shaking. I can’t believe how stupid I am. I can’t believe I let Sophie convince me this time might actually be different. I’m in here feeling like my world has ended while Jessie is across the hall having sex with his ex.

“Are you okay?” Chase asks again.
I startle slightly at his voice. I wasn’t expecting him to stick around. I wish he’d disappear; I don’t want anyone seeing me like this.

I force a smile and look up, but it wobbles as fresh tears tumble down my cheeks at the memory of Courtney looking at me. She must have been at the party all along and seen me with Jessie in the kitchen. She clearly took my absence as her opportunity, and Jessie certainly didn’t look like he had any objections.

“Honestly, I’m fine. Something happened earlier at home and I was just thinking about it,” I lie.

Chase doesn’t look away from me. “I saw Stephenson go into that bedroom with Courtney,” he tells me.

And there it is. My humiliation is complete. Chase Mitchell is witnessing my meltdown after watching my best friend hook up with his ex.

I look away, swiping my hand across my face. God knows what I look like right now. My makeup is probably running everywhere. I let out a sigh and feel my shoulders sag even farther.

“He doesn’t see you, Livy.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I whisper. “I told you, I was just thinking about something that happened earlier.”

“Liv—”

“Chase, please,” I plead, another errant tear streaking down my face. “Just leave me alone, okay? I can’t deal with anyone seeing me like this.”

He doesn’t reply as I squeeze my hands and try to focus on pulling myself together, but after what feels like an eternity, I hear the door open then click shut behind him. I burst into tears all over again because not only is Jessie back with Courtney, now everyone in school will know what a pathetic loser I am.

Enter Emma’s giveaway here!

Prizes: two $20 Amazon giftcards and an ARC of The Stand-In Boyfriend

tsib - teaser 2.jpg

About Emma Doherty:

Emma Doherty was born in Yorkshire, England. She attended university in Newcastle before moving to London. She loves to travel, write, spend time with friends and family and hear from her readers.

Instagram | Facebook