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~ Fighting Shadows (On the Ropes #2) by Aly Martinez Blog Tour + Review + Giveaway ~

figthing shadows book tourfighting shadows coverRELEASE DATE: July 7th

SynopsisI come from a family of fighters. I always thought I’d follow in their shadows, becoming unstoppable in the ring. That changed the day I saved the life of a woman I loved, but could never have.

My brother hailed me as a hero, and my reward was a wheelchair.

Paralyzed, my life became an inescapable nightmare.

Until I met her.

Ash Mabie had a heart-stopping smile and a laugh that numbed the rage and resentment brewing inside of me. She showed me that even the darkest night still had stars, and it didn’t matter one bit that you had to lie in the weeds to see them.

I was a jaded asshole who fell for a girl with a knack for running away. I couldn’t even walk but I would have spent a lifetime chasing her.

Now, I’m on the ropes during the toughest battles of my life.

Fighting the shadows of our past.

Fighting to reclaim my future.

Fighting for her.

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**Each book in the series can be read as a standalone**

Excerpt

Chapter One

Flint

I remembered it all.

I heard the gun.

I felt the bullet.

I saw her fall.

In less than a second, my life as I knew it was over.

But, unquestionably, I would do it all over again.

For her.

“Flint!” Eliza cried from underneath me.

It wasn’t the way I had dreamed of at least a million times over the years. Her voice hadn’t broken in ecstasy. She hadn’t called my name as I’d been claiming her as my own, nor was it followed by confessions of love and declarations of forever. Instead, there was a sharp ringing in my ears and a tsunami of tears welling in her deep-blue eyes.

My heart was already pounding, but the earth-shattering pain on her face spiked my pulse even higher. I knew I had been hit, but that wasn’t what scared me.

“Are you hurt?” I rushed out.

“I’m fine,” she choked around a sob. As much as I hated to see her cry, the weight of my world disappeared with only two words.

“Are you sure?” I studied her, but she was focused on something else completely.

Peering over my shoulder, she lifted her hand off my back. Blood dripped from her fingertips to the floor.

“Oh God!” she exploded, scrambling from under me.

“I’m okay,” I tried to reassure her, but as I attempted to push up off the floor, I knew my words were in vain. I was nowhere near fine. “I’m…” I started, but the thought was stolen from my tongue. Pain overtook me, causing me to collapse face first to the ground where Eliza had just been lying.

I desperately tried to keep myself from passing out, but it was a battle I was quickly losing.

“Flint. Stay with me. Just hang on, please,” she said calmly, kneeling beside me. But as soon as she sat up, her true emotions were revealed. “Help him!” she cried. “Please, God, someone help him!”

My mind was drifting, rendering me unable to focus, but even amongst the chaos of Eliza pleading for help and security rushing into the room, I somehow homed in on the announcer’s voice on the television blaring in the background.

“I really expected more from Till Page in the ring tonight,” he said.

It was then that I was reminded of a pain far worse than any bullet could inflict.

Till.

Her husband.

The father of her unborn child.

My brother.

He deserved her, but damn it, so did I.

My eyes never left hers as her screams drifted into silence.

***

I awoke to a searing pain in my back, and panic immediately flooded my thoughts.

“Eliza!” I screamed as loudly as I could, but it came out as nothing more than a gurgle.

“I’m right here.” She appeared at my side. “Oh God, Flint. Don’t do that again. You have to stay awake.” She began smoothing my hair down.

“Eliza,” I repeated when further coherent thoughts failed me. I was terrified—I knew that much. But my mind fought to catch up and answer the why. “Are…are you hurt?”

“No. I’m fine,” she assured me, leaning down and kissing my temple—a gesture I would have killed to be able to return.

Instead, I blindly reached out to the side, searching for her hand. “Stay with me.”

Firmly grasping my palm, she vowed, “I won’t leave you, Flint. I swear.”

If only she’d meant those words in the way I would have liked. However, right then, as I lay facedown, bleeding on the carpet of an upscale Vegas hotel floor with a bullet in my back, I would take it.

It wasn’t enough.

But it would have to be.

She isn’t mine.

She never was.

As she whispered soothing words into my ear, I went willingly into the darkness.

***

I slowly roused back to consciousness. I couldn’t quite figure out where I was or why my throat felt like I had swallowed a truckload full of burning embers. Even through my grogginess, I could feel an ache in my back. It wasn’t until I spoke that I realized how fucked I truly was.

“Ewliz.” What the hell? “Elyz.”

“Oh thank God!” Eliza cried, suddenly appearing at my side.

Breathing a sigh of relief, I tried to pry my eyes open, needing nothing more than a glimpse of her dark blues. They held no superpowers, but I still believed they could heal me with a single glance. Hell, just knowing she was there with me worked miracles.

I tried to fight, but I couldn’t seem to convince my eyelids that light wasn’t the source of all evil.

“Shh. It’s okay. Just relax,” she whispered, reading my struggle. “Are you hurting? Do you need more pain medicine?”

“Nup. Juz you,” I said drunkenly.

“What’s wrong with him? Why can’t he talk?” Quarry whimpered from somewhere nearby.

I’d never forget how he sounded in that moment. His voice shook like that of the frightened child he never got to be. He might have only been thirteen, but he hadn’t been a boy in a long time. Just like Till and me, he’d been forced to grow up too soon. Hearing the inflection of fear in his voice cleared my groggy mind.

“Em good, Q,” I slurred on a laugh, even though nothing was remotely humorous about the situation.

I was lying facedown on a hospital bed, drugged out of my fucking mind, and pining over my brother’s pregnant wife. The same woman who was the closest thing to a real mother I’d ever known. The levels of fucked-up could not even be described.

On second thought, maybe laughing really was the right response.

My brother, Till, was quite possibly the best man I had ever met. He was only six years older than I was, but as far as I was concerned, he had always been a father to me. Lord knows that the man’s DNA I carried was not. My mother was a work of art, but my father was in a category all of his own. Clay Page was the reason I was lying in that bed and recovering from a bullet in the back, the reason Till had almost lost his wife and unborn daughter, and the reason Quarry had almost been kidnapped.

All I had left in life were my brothers, and in turn, I had Eliza.

If I could have been half the man Till was, I would’ve been better than ninety-nine percent of the male population walking the planet. God, I wanted to be as selfless as he was. But I wasn’t even close. Instead, over the years, I’d become increasingly jealous of his life and the way Eliza loved him. Sure, they had their fair share of problems, but they always weathered the storm together, never wavering in their devotion to each other. Only a year earlier, my older brother had suddenly lost his hearing—something that would have easily sent a lesser woman running for the hills. But not Eliza. She gave him unconditional love, and it stung so fucking much to watch her give it to him.

The older I became, the more I found myself consumed by guilt and anger. Guilt because no two people had ever deserved each other more. And anger because, despite knowing that, I wanted to shove my brother out of the picture completely. I wanted to own Eliza Reynolds Page in every possible way, but especially in the way where she never left me and loved me forever.

I wanted the comfort and security only she could offer me.

“Eliza?” I called as I went back to battle against my eyelids and was finally victorious. I was greeted by the sight of Till holding her tight, his arms folded around her swollen stomach.

“Hey, bud,” he cooed, visible relief washing over his face.

But I didn’t have eyes for him. Eliza stood in his arms with tears flowing in a steady stream down her cheeks.

My lips twitched in the most unlikely of smiles.

She always cries.

“You ’kay?” I mumbled.

“I am. Thanks to you.” She took a step forward, joining our hands.

I laughed, using our linked knuckles to rub her belly. “How’s ma baby?”

“What’d he say?” Till asked.

Eliza removed her hands from mine long enough to translate for him through sign language.

I attempted to roll over so I could have the use of my hands to communicate with him, but I was stilled by the sudden shouts.

“No!” they yelled as I tried to push up on the bed.

“You can’t move… I, um, I mean you shouldn’t move.” Eliza squatted down in front of me.

I lifted a hand to wipe her tears away. Her eyes were red and puffy, but as she brushed my short hair off my forehead, she’d never looked more beautiful. Her fingertips trailed over my skin, soothing my aches from the outside in.

“Let’s get you some more pain medicine.” She grabbed a red button off the corner of my bed and pressed it repeatedly.

I wasn’t in any real pain, but within seconds, my entire body relaxed even further.

She remained squatting in front of me, and her tears began to dry while she whispered soothing words I couldn’t quite make out among the myriad of beeping monitors. It didn’t matter what she was saying though.

She was there.

With me.

For me.

My vision was blurry, but time stood still as I stared into her eyes and slurred the words I had absolutely no business saying.

I had been harboring them for years. But no matter how I tried, no amount of time made them right.

“I love you, Eliza. Soooooo. Fuuucking. Mush.”

Even drugged out of my mind, I knew that my admission was going to do more harm than good, but that didn’t slow the words—or the pain.

Maybe, if I just told her how I felt, I could let it go. Move on to a day when I wasn’t teased by the unattainable.  It was a grand idea, but fruition was a different story.

She replied, “I love you too,” but I knew she didn’t understand.

In that second though, I needed her to understand. It wasn’t a choice.

For her.

Or me.

“No. I loooove you.” I exaggerated the word but not the truth.

“Shh,” she whispered, resting her hand on my cheek. “I love you too, Flint. We all do. Just go to sleep.”

We all do.

They wouldn’t after I was done. I was sober enough to realize that.

“No. Lizen to me. I…love you. Like Till loves you. Like…I-want-to-have-sex-with-you love you. Really. Gud. Sex.” I laughed.

“Oh fuck,” Quarry groaned.

“And marry you, and…” I stopped to lick my dry lips before spewing the ultimate slap to my brother’s deaf ears. “That should be my baby, not his.”

“Oh fuck,” Quarry repeated.

“Uhh…um…” Eliza stuttered, looking up at Till, who was standing only a few feet away.

“What? What’d he say?” Till asked, stepping forward.

“I said I’m in love with your wife!” I yelled for some unexplainable reason.

Well, maybe only unexplainable to them; I understood my frustrations completely.

Till needed the chance to hate me. He had given me everything in life and provided for me even when he’d had to sacrifice himself. I owed him the truth about the way I felt about his wife. Regardless that it proved what a dirt bag I truly was.

I lifted my one free hand in the air and began to sign out the letters, but Quarry stepped between Eliza and me and forced my hand against the bed.

“Yep. That’s enough. Go to sleep, asshole.”

“He needs ta know. Tell him fur me.”

Quarry lifted his hands and signed to Till without words. He said he loves us all, and then he got all weepy and called Eliza mommy. I’m just trying to keep him from embarrassing himself. That’s all.

“Dat’s bullshit,” I replied when he finished.

“We love you too, Flint. Get some rest,” Till said, folding his arms across his chest, not buying into Quarry’s explanation.

“No! I said, ‘I love her.’ Eliza.” I began to point in her direction, but Quarry once again slapped my hand down.

Turning his back on Till, he leaned into my face. “Shut your goddamn mouth. I’m trying to help you here.”

“I love her,” I repeated for the umpteenth time.

Eliza wedged her way back to my side. “No, you don’t. You’re just drugged up right now, Flint.”

“Bullshit,” I declared adamantly.

Drugs didn’t cause the way I felt any more than they could fix it. I’d have been a junkie long ago if there were something that could’ve quelled the burning in my chest every time I saw her with Till.

“This isn’t somethin’ new, Eliza. I think about you when—” I’d started to spill all of my embarrassing secrets when Quarry’s hand slammed over my mouth.

“I said, ‘Shut the fuck up,’” he seethed.

“Stop cussing,” I mumbled from behind his hand.

He looked to Eliza. “Can you press that button again? Maybe see if he’ll pass out.”

“What the hell is going on?” Till snapped from behind us, losing his cool with being in the dark.

Nothing. He’s acting like a bitch. Just doing my job as his little brother to protect his manhood… or something like that, Quarry signed then flashed Till a tight grin.

“No, I—” I started, and his hand once again landed over my mouth.

Quarry gave Eliza an impatient glare.

“He has a few more minutes before the pain pump will give him any more meds,” she answered, frazzled by my confession.

And just that small reaction to my admission hurt more than whatever the hell was happening on my back.

“Well, I’ll just keep my hand right here until it’s time,” Quarry hissed at Eliza.

“Um, I’m gonna step out and get some water,” she announced uncomfortably.

“Eliza, wait,” I tried to shout, but Quarry wasn’t lying about not removing his hand. “Get off me.” I weakly swatted it away.

Glancing back at Till, he lifted a finger in the air to signal one second. Then he turned back to me. “Shut up. Shut up. Shut. Up. You’re in love with her, fine. Now, shut up.”

“Not until he knows,” I replied.

“Go to sleep, Flint. If you still want to make this mistake when you wake up, I’ll sign it out to him myself.” He urged me with a hard stare.

I was tired. Sleep didn’t exactly sound like torture. I’d been sitting on my feelings for Eliza since I was twelve. What was one more night?

“I would take her from him,” I declared as my lids began to droop.

Quarry busted out laughing.  “Then, when you wake up, I’ll sign out your warning. Oh, look! Time’s up.” He grabbed the red button and gave it a push.

I moaned as the glorious burn of the medication hit my vein.

“Thank God,” he breathed as I drifted off to sleep.

When I awoke some hours later, my determination to tell Till had fortunately disappeared.

Unfortunately, so had my desire for Eliza to know.

But the truth was out.

As the embarrassment set in, I tried to convince myself that maybe it was for the best that she knew how I felt.

It wasn’t.

It was a hell of a lot worse.

christie review 5 star aFighting Shadows is one of those special books that will remain in my mind and my heart forever! My heart broke, but Aly Martinez put it back together. I thought Till’s story was emotional, but Flint’s was even more emotional for me. This is Flint’s journey to happiness, but it won’t be an easy one. I won’t go into much detail, because I don’t want to spoil anything for readers who haven’t read the first book in the series. Just know that Flint has been dealt a devastating blow that will take all the courage and strength he has to overcome it. As he becomes more bitter about life and about his feelings for Eliza, he decides he needs to leave Till and Eliza and make it on his own. He throws himself into school and not much else until he crosses paths with Ash Mabie. Believe me when I say that she really throws him for a loop. His life will never be the same again. However, both of them have huge trust issues, and it’s going to take a lot of work from both of them to overcome that. Will each of them have the strength and perseverance to let their pasts go and take a gamble on each other?

This book had my emotions all over the place. There were times I laughed and times I cried, but this one really hit me in the heart and made me feel all warm inside. A lot of that had to do with the characters. Of course, Flint is moody and bitter about his life, and honestly, who wouldn’t be. Fighting Shadows was Flint’s story, but I have to say, it’s just as much Ash’s story. I love this girl. She’s a totally different character. Who knew a pickpocket had such a giving heart? Who knew that Flint, who is paralyzed, could be judgmental, and Ash calls him on it. What I love so much about her is she sees past his looks and his condition. She falls in love with his heart, and that’s what made my heart pitter patter in this book. She’s just awesome!!!! I want to be friends with Ash. She’s just a breath of fresh air and so different. You will see exactly what I mean when you read this book which you REALLY need to do. They are two damaged souls who have been through some dark places, but together, they are in happier, brighter places. I just love these two…they are in my top ten of favorite book couples.

Fighting Shadows was absolutely brilliant. I’m a huge fan of Aly’s, but this one is my favorite by her so far. She knows exactly how to pull her readers in to her story. Her books are categorized as romance, and yes, she knows how to write some sexy love scenes. Most importantly, her books are about real people. Some characters are more flawed than others, and there have been characters I hate in one book, but amazingly, I love them in the next book. They are human, and sometimes life has dealt them a horrible blow. But, there’s always hope not to just survive that trauma but to actually learn to love life again. What’s better than that? Of course, I can’t wait to read her next book which will be about Quarry Page…winter 2015 can’t come fast enough for me!!!!!

Abou the authoraly martinezBorn and raised in Savannah, Georgia, Aly Martinez is a stay-at-home mom to four crazy kids under the age of five, including a set of twins. Currently living in South Carolina, she passes what little free time she has reading anything and everything she can get her hands on, preferably with a glass of wine at her side.

After some encouragement from her friends, Aly decided to add “Author” to her ever-growing list of job titles. Five books later, she shows no signs of slowing. So grab a glass of Chardonnay, or a bottle if you’re hanging out with Aly, and join her aboard the crazy train she calls life.

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Book Tours · Giveaways

~ Bang Switch (Code-11 KPD SWAT #3) by Lani Lynn Vale Blog Tour + Giveaway ~

Title: Bang Switch

Series: Code-11 KPD SWAT #3

Author: Lani Lynn Vale

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Release Date: July 2, 2015

Synopsis

 Lachlan Downy was a lover, not a fighter. 

 

Okay, he wouldn’t lie, he was a fighter, too. But nobody had to know that. Especially not Memphis Tennessee Conner and her stuffy attitude when it came to cops and ‘men like him.’ 

 

Memphis knew cops. Her daddy was a cop. He was also the president of a motorcycle club. Needless to say, he’s about as alpha as they come, and she’s tired of overbearing men who think they know how to run her life better than she does. 

 

So when Downy comes into her life running his smooth talking mouth, she realizes that she’ll have to stand strong against his pretty words and promises to give her what she needs. 

 

Downy is determined, though. 

 

He’s the hostage negotiator for KPD SWAT, and he’s never met a person, man or woman, he couldn’t talk around into his way of thinking. 

 

Although, Memphis is about to show him just how much he miscalculated.

 

Seems Downy may not be as smooth as he thought, and Memphis is just the girl to show him the error of his ways.

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Excerpt

 

Just thinking about today and how I’d had to reschedule with the contractor was only one such instance when having predictable hours would’ve been more convenient.

Our shoulders bumped as we both stepped over a crack in the uneven walkway, causing her to look at me, and me to look at her.

“Sorry,” I muttered, trying as inconspicuously as I could to move my dick into a better position.

It was getting hard to walk with a semi-stiffy. Especially since I’d been fighting a losing battle with it all day long. I needed a good lay, and by the vibes pouring off of Memphis, I wouldn’t be getting it from her.

Not yet, anyway.

“Shouldn’t your dog be on a leash or something?” She asked suddenly.

I turned around to look for Mocha and laughed when she was nearly fifty yards back from where we were.

“Yes, probably. But she doesn’t like leashes,” I explained.

I could tell she rolled her eyes even though I couldn’t see her face.

“And your dog gets what she wants?” Memphis asked in surprise.

I nodded. “What my girl wants, my girl gets.”

I could practically see her mind whirling as something sat at the tip of her tongue, only waiting to be released.

She wanted to say something, but I could tell she didn’t want to say it. She lost the battle, though. Curiosity winning out over propriety.

“So what about your woman…does she gets what she wants?” Memphis asked suddenly.

I turned to look down at her, studying her facial features before saying, “My woman would get what she needs.”

She looked horrified, and I had to physically stop myself from smiling. She probably wouldn’t find her discomfort as funny as I did.

She looked discombobulated as she said, “I cannot believe you just said that!”

I snorted. “Why is that so hard to believe?”

“What about what she wants?” Memphis exclaimed.

I did lose my battle with laughter at her offended tone.

She crossed her arms, refusing to say anything more.

We turned around and walked the half-mile back to the apartment complex in silence. I could practically feel her anger simmering

Peter was now walking between us, I’m sure put there by an angered Memphis.

Mocha was now in front of us, her eyes scanning our surroundings as she moved.

I held the door open to the apartment complex once we arrived, and she walked inside, not offering me a thank you.

I smiled as she disappeared up the barely lit stairs. I followed closely behind her, making sure she felt me at her back, causing her to move all the faster.

When she came to a stop in the hallway, I reached into my pocket and withdrew the money from earlier.

Leaning in close, I slid my hand around her hip, moving it until my fingers were at the top of her ass so I could put the tip into her back pocket.

Making sure she felt the movement, I pressed my hard body into hers, pressing her against the wall beside her door.

“Here’s your tip,” I said, wiggling the money in her jeans before taking a step away from her.

It was hard. Both the actual act of moving and the state of my dick.

Her eyes were hooded, and I knew I had her. Not all the way…not yet. But I would. Soon.

“Goodnight, Memphis,” I said against the side of her head. My breath rustling her hair.

Then, turning my back to her, I walked slowly away.

When I had the door unlocked once again, I turned back to see her walking woodenly into her apartment.

Right when she got to where she was closing the door, I called her name, “Memphis!”

She stopped and opened the door slightly, poking her head out of the opening to look at me.

“When you’re ready to get what you need, and not what you think you want, come see me,” I said before closing the door to my own apartment.

“Wow, that was deep,” Miller said from the couch.

I flipped him off and walked away, not bothering to conceal the steep rod tenting up the front of my tactical pants.

Apparently, they needed to make a new weapon holder to keep my dick in check.

I had a feeling I’d be needing it for the next couple of weeks before I could convince her to give me a try.

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Abou the author

 

 

I’m a married mother of three. My kids are all under 5, so I can assure you that they are a handful. I’ve been with my paramedic husband now for ten years, and we’ve produced three offspring that are nothing like us. I live in the greatest state in the world, Texas.

 

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