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

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

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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:

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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

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

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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?

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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:

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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

Review: Lead the Way by Brittany Carter – Blog Tour

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Title: Lead the Way
Author: Brittany Carter
Series: Dirty South #1
Publisher: Swoon Romance
Publication Date: April 20, 2019
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: Received an copy from the author/Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review on this blog tour

Goodreads
Amazon

Rating: 4 stars

Fresh off the high of college graduation, Melody James is back in her Podunk town. She needs a job, but first, she’ll spend a lazy summer with no agenda at all.

But life’s got other plans for Melody, ones she’d sooner ignore. When the next-door neighbor passes away, his son returns home to take care of his affairs. Thane Cohen hasn’t been home in ten years. The last time he was, someone accused him of murdering Melody’s parents. Now, after major efforts to recover his self-worth and start a construction company, Thane wonders if enough time has passed for him to clear his once good name.

At the time of the murders, Melody was the only person who didn’t believe Thane was responsible. But how could she even suggest otherwise when just about everyone in town was convinced of Thane’s guilt? Her brothers would never allow it. With nothing to lose before, Thane packed up and left, leaving the town and Melody behind. Now that he’s back, rekindling an old flame in Melody and proving his innocence are critical.

When several car windshields get broken and fires start unexpectedly, the world inside their little town is tossed upside down. With Melody’s brother against her, and Thane fighting every attempt she makes at breaking down his walls, Melody’s push for answers leads her to a frightening conclusion. Thane may actually know more about her parents’ death than she was lead to believe. Can she trust him, or has everyone else been right about him all along? Only time will tell if she can let love lead the way.

Review:

This book had a lot going on, between the romance between Melody and Thane, and the suspense of the secret knowledge of Melody’s parents’ death that Thane knew. But it wasn’t too much. I was a little nervous going into this because of the romance and the suspenseful mystery aspect, but it ended up being pretty good and blended together nicely.

I won’t hint a single thing about the secret, but I will say, you won’t be disappointed when things come out. It’s big. A lot of novels do that thing where the romantic interest is hiding some kind of secret and when it all comes out, the secret is boring and didn’t even need to be some hidden thing to begin with. My lord this was not the case. The wait was worth the reveal.

Another aspect of the book that I enjoyed was the southern authenticity of Brittany Carter’s writing. There were so many adorable southern expressions said by the characters and I like how that made the setting of the country/south feel that much more real.

Melody and Thane were both very raw and real characters with an intense romance. Melody had such a kind heart and Thane had somehow managed not to let the cruelty of the world around him turn him into an awful person. Even all of the side characters managed to bring out various emotions from me. If a couple of the guys from the book somehow stepped on some broken glass, I wouldn’t be mad about it.

One small thing, but it’s more a word of advice to a future reader than an actual complaint about the book itself. Go into reading this without reading the synopsis. I feel like some parts of it are a little misleading or some things that do happen, occur way later on in the novel so you’re just kind of waiting for things to happen. I still enjoyed the novel a lot and would very much recommend it. Just avoid the synopsis, if possible. This is one of those books where it would be nice to go into it without knowing anything.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. When I first started it, I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about it, but it ended up being a 4 star read, which is pretty great for me. I hope you guys get the chance to pick this one up and that you enjoy it as well.

About Brittany Carter:

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Brittany Booker Carter previously writing as Alla Kar. I’m a Christian, lover or romance, a wife and mother to a wild-child!

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Lead the Way by Brittany Carter – Release Day Blitz + Giveaway

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Title: Lead The Way
Author
: Brittany Carter
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Release Date: April 22, 2019

Goodreads
Amazon

Fresh off the high of college graduation, Melody James is back in her Podunk town. She needs a job, but first, she’ll spend a lazy summer with no agenda at all.

But life’s got other plans for Melody, ones she’d sooner ignore. When the next-door neighbor passes away, his son returns home to take care of his affairs. Thane Cohen hasn’t been home in ten years. The last time he was, someone accused him of murdering Melody’s parents. Now, after major efforts to recover his self-worth and start a construction company, Thane wonders if enough time has passed for him to clear his once good name.

At the time of the murders, Melody was the only person who didn’t believe Thane was responsible. But how could she even suggest otherwise when just about everyone in town was convinced of Thane’s guilt? Her brothers would never allow it. With nothing to lose before, Thane packed up and left, leaving the town and Melody behind. Now that he’s back, rekindling an old flame in Melody and proving his innocence are critical.

When several car windshields get broken and fires start unexpectedly, the world inside their little town is tossed upside down. With Melody’s brother against her, and Thane fighting every attempt she makes at breaking down his walls, Melody’s push for answers leads her to a frightening conclusion. Thane may actually know more about her parents’ death than she was lead to believe. Can she trust him, or has everyone else been right about him all along? Only time will tell if she can let love lead the way.

Enter the giveaway here!

  • Prize: $10 Starbucks gift card
  • International
  • Ends April 25, 2019

About Brittany Carter:

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Brittany Booker Carter previously writing as Alla Kar. I’m a Christian, lover or romance, a wife and mother to a wild-child!

Website | Twitter | Facebook

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Review: In the Neighborhood of True by Susan Kaplan Carlton – Blog Tour + Giveaway

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Title: In the Neighborhood of True
Author: Susan Kaplan Carlton
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Publication Date: April 9, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Ficton
Source: Received an copy from NetGalley/the pubsliher/Fantastic Flying Book Club in exchange for an honest review on this blog tour

Goodreads
Indigo | Amazon | TBD
Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Rating: 5 stars

A powerful story of love, identity, and the price of fitting in or speaking out.

After her father’s death, Ruth Robb and her family transplant themselves in the summer of 1958 from New York City to Atlanta—the land of debutantes, sweet tea, and the Ku Klux Klan. In her new hometown, Ruth quickly figures out she can be Jewish or she can be popular, but she can’t be both. Eager to fit in with the blond girls in the “pastel posse,” Ruth decides to hide her religion. Before she knows it, she is falling for the handsome and charming Davis and sipping Cokes with him and his friends at the all-white, all-Christian Club.

Does it matter that Ruth’s mother makes her attend services at the local synagogue every week? Not as long as nobody outside her family knows the truth. At temple Ruth meets Max, who is serious and intense about the fight for social justice, and now she is caught between two worlds, two religions, and two boys. But when a violent hate crime brings the different parts of Ruth’s life into sharp conflict, she will have to choose between all she’s come to love about her new life and standing up for what she believes.

Review:

From the moment I began this story, I was instantly hooked. It started with Ruth in a courtroom about to testify about the hate crime that occured during the novel. What was the hate crime? What was she specifically there to testify for? What was she going to say? So many questions popped into my mind in the first few pages, and I knew I needed to have all of them answered.

Ruth, her mother, and her sister have moved from New York to Atlanta to live with her grandparents after her father’s sudden and unfortunate death. Fontaine and Mr. Hank (the grandparents) are Christian, but Ruth and her family are Jewish. In Atlanta in 1958, being Jewish was not something that was very accepted. Ruth hides this part about her as she goes to a Christian school and is influenced by Fontaine to get involved in debutante life.

The glitz and the glamour capture Ruth, along with Davis, the boy with the lovely smile and cute dimple. In her infatuation, Ruth continues to hide the real her. Until a violent hate crime occurs, and Ruth must ultimately decide the person she wants to be.

This book was incredible. Incredible. I was sucked in from the very beginning and just couldn’t put it down. The writing really brought the setting of the 1950s to life. I could picture the fashion, the speech, and the manerisms so clearly in my mind. It was almost like watching a movie.

But what was most important about this book was how Susan Kaplan Carlton chose to tackle such a prevalent issue. Sure, this was book set in 1958 and schools and busses and movie theatres are no longer segregated and you won’t be turned away from a debutante ball if you’re Jewish, but you can’t sit there and tell me that people do not experience awful prejudices in 2019. It may not be as clean cut as 1958, but it sure as hell exists.

And just as it was important in 1958 for Ruth to decide whether or not to do the right thing, it is also important for us to absolutely decide to do the right thing in 2019.

Susan Kaplan Carlton has graced us with a lovely novel and I think you should all pick it up when you have a chance. Every single thing about it was great. When someone can present such a vital topic with a beautiful story and elegant writing, it’s not something you want to miss out on.

Check out the tour schedule here!

Enter the giveaway here!

  • Prize: Win (1) of (2) copies of IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD OF TRUE by Susan Kaplan Carlton (US Only)
  • Ends April 16, 2019

About Susan Kaplan Carlton:

Susan Kaplan Carlton, a longtime magazine writer, currently teaches writing at Boston University. She lived for a time with her family in Atlanta, where her daughters learned the fine points of etiquette from a little pink book and learned the power of social justice from their synagogue. Carlton’s writing has appeared in Self, Elle, Mademoiselle, Seventeen, Parents, and elsewhere. She is the author of the young adult novels Love & Haight, which was named a Best Book for Young Adults by YALSA and a Best Book by the Children’s Book Committee at Bank Street Books, and Lobsterland.

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