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Calamity in Camberwell (The London Murder Mysteries #3) by Alice Castle Blog Tour with Review & Giveaway (Giveaway – Win a signed copy of Calamity in Camberwell (Open Internationally)

19 Aug

Calamity in Camberwell

Calamity in Camberwell (The London Murder Mysteries #3)

by Alice Castle

 

Synopsis

Beth Haldane, SE21’s answer to Miss Marple, worries she is losing a kindred spirit when her friend Jen, the only other single mum in the playground, suddenly gets married and moves to Camberwell. 

Soon Beth has to face much more pressing fears. Has something gone horribly wrong with Jen’s marriage? What is her husband really up to? Why is her daughter leading Beth’s son astray? And where on earth IS Jen anyway? 

As Beth’s friends push her to start dating again, Beth turns to Met Police DI Harry York for help. But will they solve the mystery in time, or will it turn out that in south east London, not everyone gets to live happily ever after?

 



 

Christie’s Review

4.5 STARS

I was glad to be back in Dulwich catching up with Beth and her family and friends. Beth has a lot going on…she has just hired a tutor for her son, Ben, for his upcoming Wyatt entrance exam. She is worrying if it’s too much pressure on him when he begins acting strangely. Her friends are pushing her to date again, and she misses her friend, Jen, who has just remarried. So, she isn’t looking to become involved in solving another crime. Yet, that is just where she finds herself when Jen goes missing.

There is no shortage of suspects. Jen’s new husband, Jeff. Was their new marriage as blissful as it seemed. What about Jen’s ex, Tim, or his wife, Babs? Or, has Jen just taken off? Soon, Beth finds herself in a lot of danger. The mystery kept me guessing. I really thought I knew what was going on, but I found I didn’t have a clue.

As with the other books in the series, Castle interjects her great sense of humor, especially at Beth’s attempt to date again. Dating has changed since she met her late husband. Now, there are reality shows about it and online dating, Tinder and Match.com. It’s also hard as she is one of the only single people in Dulwich. When she joins forces with Police DI York again, the sparks are there. If only she knew exactly what she felt more, chemistry or frustration. The man does make her crazy!

I really love this great little series. It has just the right balance of romance and mystery with a bit of humor thrown in. You can’t get much better than that!!!!



 

Calamity in Camberwell

Purchase Link – MyBook.to/Cic

 

Author Bio 

alice

Before turning to crime, Alice Castle was a UK newspaper journalist for The Daily Express, The Times and The Daily Telegraph. Her first book, Hot Chocolate, set in Brussels and London, was a European hit and sold out in two weeks.

Death in Dulwich was published in September 2017 and has been a number one best-seller in the UK, US, Canada, France, Spain and Germany. A sequel, The Girl in the Gallery was published in December 2017 to critical acclaim. Calamity in Camberwell, the third book in the London Murder Mystery series, will be published this summer, with Homicide in Herne Hill due to follow in early 2019.  Alice is currently working on the fifth London Murder Mystery adventure. Once again, it will feature Beth Haldane and DI Harry York.

Alice is also a mummy blogger and book reviewer via her website: https://www.alicecastleauthor.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alicecastleauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DDsDiary?lang=en

Links to buy books: MyBook.to/GirlintheGallery

myBook.to/1DeathinDulwich

myBook.to/HotChocolate

She lives in south London and is married with two children, two step-children and two cats.

Giveaway –

Win a signed copy of Calamity in Camberwell (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494117/?

Calamity in Camberwell Full Tour Banner

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Condemned & Admired: The Earl’s Cunning Wife (Love’s Second Chance Book 9) by Bree Wolf Book Tour with Excerpt, 5-Star Review, & Q & A with Author

19 Aug

Book tour banner

Condemned & Admired: The Earl’s Cunning Wife (Love’s Second Chance Book 9)

by Bree Wolf

 

Book Blurb

A French privateer’s daughter. A marquess’s son.

And a chance encounter on the high seas.


Twelve years ago, Lady Silcox fled England with her six-year-old daughter Violet to spare her the life she herself had been forced into: an arranged marriage to an older man.
Today, VIOLET WINTERS is a grown woman sailing the seas on her French stepfather’s privateer, dreaming of commandeering a ship of her own. However, when she stumbles upon a betrothal announcement of the man she was set to marry, Violet cannot help but feel honour-bound to protect the woman who had been forced to take her place.
Fortune smiles on Violet and delivers an English lord into her hands – and with him the chance to return to England unrecognised.

OLIVER CORNELL, EARL OF CULLINGWOOD, is trapped in a life he abhors. Not seen as a son, but merely an heir, he dreams of sailing the seas, the epitome of freedom.
By sheer happenstance, Oliver ends up on a merchant vessel, which is promptly boarded by a French privateer. On board the Chevalier Noir, Oliver meets the captain’s daughter, a woman unlike any other he has ever met. Utterly fascinated by the adventurous gleam in her eyes, he does not hesitate to offer his assistance when Violet finds herself in need of a guide to London’s upper society.
Revelling in his first taste of adventure, Oliver poses as her husband…only to realise before long that posing as her husband will not be good enough.
Can a privateer’s daughter and a marquess’s son ever have a happily-ever-after? Or is their love doomed to fail?

 

EXCERPT

Giveaway question: Have you ever lived on borrowed time?

Once the last course had been cleared off the table, the circle of friends moved into the ballroom where–to Violette’s surprise–they found a young man seating himself at the pianoforte.

“Shall we begin with a waltz?” Oliver asked, winking at Violette as he reached for her hand.

Chuckles rose from the others as they all turned toward their spouses, eyes filled with deep emotions as they looked at one another.

The man at the pianoforte began to play, and Violette took note of the impeccable way the other two couples began to move across the empty dance floor. A lump settled in her stomach, and a hint of panic raced through her veins.

“Look at me,” Oliver said, his voice strong, as he pulled her into his arms. “Don’t look at them,” he whispered when their eyes met. “You can do this. We can do this.”

Doing her best to remember the steps, Violette allowed Oliver to guide her to the soft notes of the music, her gaze dropping down to her feet again and again.

“Look at me,” Oliver repeated, pulling her against his chest so that she was no longer able to see her feet.

Violette glared at him. “I should think this is rather inappropriate,” she commented, trying her best to keep her voice from losing its seriousness. “What will the lords and ladies of the ton think?”

Oliver grinned. “That I’m very fond of my wife.”

Violette suppressed a laugh. “Be serious.”

“I am.” His gaze held hers, and suddenly there was no mockery in the way he looked at her.

Inhaling a deep breath, Violette could feel his fingers tracing intricate patterns across her back where his hand rested gently, and yet, insistently while his other closed more tightly around her own. There was something in his eyes. Something that spoke of deep longing, and yet, he seemed peaceful, satisfied with the place he had found in life.

At least for the moment.

Violette felt her heart skip a beat as she tried to interpret the emotions that were dancing over Oliver’s face, and a touch of panic crept up her spine. Although she was far from disinclined–in fact, rather curious–from exploring a physical relationship with her fake husband, Violette knew that anything more would only lead to complications.

After all, his place was here in London as the future marquess while her own was out at sea. No amount of wishful thinking could change that.

No matter what they felt, what might come of the time they spent together pretending to be husband and wife, in the end, they would have to go their separate ways.

Averting her gaze, Violette looked over Oliver’s shoulder, refusing to meet his gaze as he tried to re-establish the connection they had had. The connection that had made her realise that the greatest danger on this endeavour was not to have her secret revealed, but to lose her heart to a man who could never share her life.

When the music stopped, there was a moment when Violette looked up and saw not only confusion but also a touch of fear in Oliver’s eyes. Had he felt it, too? She wondered. Had he just now realised the same thing? That they lived on borrowed time?



 

Christie’s Review

5 STARS

What a fantastic historical fiction/romance! I am new to the series, so I was relieved to know this could be read as a standalone! Getting to know Violette and Oliver was a perfect way to spend the day!

Violette is swept away from the life that was dictated to her by her cold, unfeeling father, Viscount Silcox, one dark night by her strong, protective mother and a French privateer. Years later, her mother and stepfather, that French privateer who whisked them away, have given her a life of freedom to make her own choices. England is a lifetime away until one day all that changes when a prisoner and a notice of a upcoming wedding change everything, and she finds herself back in the possible crosshairs of her unfeeling father.

Oliver dreams of a life outside the stuffy, regimented society of England that comes with being an Earl. He can never live up to his father’s standards, but he doesn’t believe he has the courage to take control over his own destiny that is until he becomes the prisoner of Violette and her family on a French sea vessel.

This is a couple destined to be together even though all odds are against them. When Oliver agrees to help Violette by posing as her husband, all bets are off. I liked both of them as individuals so I adored them as a couple. She helps him embrace his passionate, adventurous side all the while helping him find the freedom he craves. He shows her another side of life beside the open sea…a life full of love and support. He truly sees her as an equal, and he treats her as such.

This wasn’t just your ordinary historical romance. Violette wasn’t a damsel in distress, and she didn’t need a hero to save her because she was the hero. I just LOVED that concept. Yes, Oliver was a support, but they were equals which is a couple ahead of their time during that era.

Underlying all the romance, intrigue, and adventure was the theme of family and what constitutes a family…is it blood or relationships? Wolf does an amazing job of showing her readers that blood doesn’t make a family as you will clearly see in this novel, but it’s the love and relationships you form with others that make up a family.

I highly recommend reading if you love historical fiction/romance, and I recommend reading even if this genre isn’t your cup of tea. You might just become a fan after reading a Bree Wolf novel!



 

Purchase Links:

Webage: www.breewolf.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7333700.Bree_Wolf

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/breewolf.novels/

Facebook EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/408576936315941/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Condemned-Admired-Cunning-Second-Chance-ebook/dp/B07D3TBHL7/

Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/condemned-admired-the-earls-cunning-wife-bree-wolf/1128641189?ean=2940162096047

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/condemned-admired

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/condemned-admired-earls-cunning-wife-9-loves-second/id1382213939?mt=11

Author’s Bio

profile_picture_01

USA Today bestselling author Bree Wolf has always been a language enthusiast (though not a grammarian!) and is rarely found without a book in her hand or her fingers glued to a keyboard. Trying to find her way, she has taught English as a second language, traveled abroad and worked at a translation agency as well as a law firm in Ireland. She also spent loooong years obtaining a BA in English and Education and a MA in Specialized Translation while wishing she could simply be a writer. Although there is nothing simple about being a writer, her dreams have finally come true.

“A big thanks to my fairy godmother!”

Currently, Bree has found her new home in the historical romance genre, writing Regency novels and novellas. Enjoying the mix of fact and fiction, she occasionally feels like a puppet master (or mistress? Although that sounds weird!), forcing her characters into ever-new situations that will put their strength, their beliefs, their love to the test, hoping that in the end they will triumph and get the happily-ever-after we are all looking for.

If you’re an avid reader, sign up for Bree’s newsletter at http://www.breewolf.com as she has the tendency to simply give books away. Find out about freebies, giveaways as well as occasional advance reader copies and read before the book is even on the shelves!

Q & A with Bree Wolf

As a writer of historical fiction, is there a lot of research involved when developing a story?

I suppose that depends on your definition of “a lot”. Before I even started writing my first novel in the (pre-)regency period, I naturally did extensive research on peerage, titles, inheritance, marriage, divorce (not really an option those days!), formal etiquette, etc., etc. Now, with each new book added to the series, I get to research a little something new, like the how-to of fencing, all things Scottish, dueling and now privateering (a legal form of piracy). That’s always exciting!

Is there a certain time period in history that is your favorite? If so, what would that be?

The regency era is among my favorites as it provides a very specific setting. There are fixed rules for ladies and gentlemen (more so for ladies, of course!), which do not allow for much wriggle room. Or do they? In truth, I believe that boundaries create opportunities, and I love writing about extraordinary people who find a way around the rules in order to claim their happily-ever-after.

Do you have any other genre you like to read?

While historical romance is undoubtedly my favorite, I also love variations of it. Adding a bit of a mythical theme to history as in adaptations of the tales of King Arthur, for example. In book four in my novel series, Abandoned & Protected, Henrietta travels to Scotland and comes into contact with people who possess certain abilities. As I generally don’t include supernatural concepts, it is only hinted at, and every reader can draw their own conclusion.

I know you have traveled abroad, is there any one place that is your favorite? If so, where, and why was it your favorite?

Well, I’m partial to the Celtic countries as they’re steep in the kind of history that usually gets my creative juices flowing. I cannot set foot in Ireland (my favorite!) without feeling my thoughts whisked away on yet a new adventure. Also the landscape is simply breathtaking and provides a wonderful and more relaxed (compared to London!) backdrop to these love stories. It feels like anything is possible, something I like to bring across in my novels.

This new book begins with a privateer? Were any of the characters based on anyone in history? 

Not particularly. Naturally, I researched privateering in Europe in the early 19th century, but also broadened my research when it became clear that by then privateering was already on a descending branch. Still, I was more taken with what privateering could represent in that era. Again, opportunity to decide one’s own fate. To bend the rules…or break them. Freedom. These are major themes in my newest novel, which is why I chose a setting on the high seas. It seemed fitting.

Book Tour Dates (1)

Outrageous by Marie Force Blog Tour with Excerpt

19 Aug

Today we are celebrating the release for OUTRAGEOUS, an erotic romance title that is part of the Quantum series by Marie Force. Check out the buy links and some teasers for the book below.

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Purchase Outrageous now!

Kindle US | iBooks | Nook | Kobo | Google | Kindle CA | Kindle UK | Kindle AU

Order a signed copy from Marie’s store, Amazon US and Amazon UK.

OUTRAGEOUS by Marie Force

The 7th erotic romance title in the Quantum Series.

AVAILABLE NOW!


Book Blurb:

She drives him crazy… In more ways than one.

Every time Leah Holt encounters Quantum Production’s chief counsel, Emmett Burke, the only thing she can think of is how much she wants to lick him. Everywhere. She’s never had that kind of reaction to a man, and the fact that he’s a much-older colleague makes her out-of-control attraction to him far more complicated than it should be. Every day, she brings a new legal question to Emmett, hoping to catch his attention and make him see her as a grown woman who wants him desperately. She walks a fine line in trying to remain professional as the assistant to superstar Marlowe Sloane while lusting after Marlowe’s sexy attorney.

To Emmett, Leah is a fly buzzing around his head who can’t be swatted away. She’s always there, looking at him, asking him legal questions that have nothing to do with his specialty in entertainment law and generally driving him mad with her overt sexiness and sassy mouth. He wants to toss her over his desk and run the sass right out of her, which is hardly the way a professional who loves his job should behave in the office—especially with a young, fresh, sexy colleague. As the author of the company’s policy on inter-office dating, he’s painfully aware of all the reasons he should stay far, far away from her and the tantalizing temptation she represents.

Then Leah gets her chance to step up for Emmett, to help him through an unfortunate “accident” and to show him she’s much more than just a smart mouth and a sexy body. When she realizes she has genuine feelings for him—and that those feelings are returned—she wonders if he will take a chance on her or continue to hold her at arm’s length. Slowly but surely, she chips away at his resistance, and he begins to crave more of her. But Emmett knows if he’s going to let her in, he has to let her all the way in. What will she think when he introduces her to his BDSM lifestyle? Will she still want him the way she does now or will she run away in horror? And what will he do if she runs away?

When Leah confronts a dangerous threat from her past, Emmett is forced to acknowledge that his “annoying little fly” has worked her way firmly into his heart—and his bed.

Also, join the entire Quantum team at the company’s vineyard in Napa for Hayden and Addie’s wedding!

Contains the full TAME edition in the back for those who want all the romance with a less scorching heat level!

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EXCERPT

 

Leah

I want to lick him. I want to strip him naked and lick every hill and valley of his muscular body. I want to know if all his muscles are as big as the ones on his arms. I want to ride him like a cowgirl. And then I want to ride him like a reverse cowgirl.

My obsession with Emmett Burke began on my first day at Quantum Productions, where I work as assistant to megastar Marlowe Sloane, a Quantum partner and overall amazing, badass woman. On day one, Emmett was charged with reviewing the companys nondisclosure agreement with me. Even with Flynn Godfreys assistant, Addie, sitting with us, I didnt hear a word Emmett said about the NDA because I was so fixated on his obscenely sexy mouth. Right there in the Quantum office, I had visions of all the places Id like to feel that mouth.

Then he mentioned how I could be sued for discussing Quantum business or the partners outside of work, and that got my attention off his mouth, for a second or two, long enough to sign the NDA. I would never blow the amazing opportunity my friend Natalie secured for me after she fell in love with Flynn the superstar and ran away to Hollywood to marry him. But I sure would love the opportunity to blow Flynns attorney.

At her wedding, Natalie hooked me up with Marlowe, who hired me on the spot and bought out my contract with the charter school Id worked for in New Yorkunhappily, I might add. Teaching wasnt for me. Being the assistant to one of the top movie stars in the world? Hell to the yes, thats for me. Marlowe paid for my move to LA, and now that Im here, doing a job I truly love, Im the envy of everyone I know.

Telling tales out of schoolno pun intendedis not going to happen. Id never do anything to screw up this sweet deal and the amazing opportunity Ive been given to have a career I couldnt have dreamed up for myself.

But me and Emmett Burke? That is so going to happen. If I can just figure out a way to break through his uptight, always-professional demeanor to find the hot-blooded man under the three-thousand-dollar suits that have to be handmade for him because no off-the-rack suit would fit those biceps.

In the meantime, I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about licking him and trying to come up with reasons to talk to him. I wish I had the balls to come right out and tell him I want to suck his dick until he explodes down my throat, but something tells me that wouldnt be the best career move I could make.

While Emmett isnt one of the Quantum principalsand let me tell you, the word principal in this business is a whole lot different than it was in the school businesshe is best friends and chief legal counsel to Flynn, Hayden, Marlowe, Jasper and Kristian, otherwise known as the bosses. That means I need to tread lightly and keep my drooling and licking to a minimum.

But God help that man if I ever get him alone in a bedroomor any room that isnt an office in the building where we both work. I have to laugh at how ridiculous this obsession has become, because its truly out of character for me. Before now, before Emmett, my interest in men has been more along the lines of wham-bam-thank-you-sir. Ive never actually given a shit about any of them. But this oneThis one is different, and I knew it right away. Every time Ive been with him since that first day, and Im with himjust about every day, between work and playthese people love to partyI only want him more than I did the day before. Its insanity. I willingly admit that, but I have no desire to make it stop. No, my desire is entirely focused on making it start.

Sometimes, when Im home alone at night with my trusty rabbit, I allow my wildest fantasies to take flight. I picture myself with Emmett in every conceivable position, as well as a few that havent been invented yet. Ive begun to anticipate rabbit time a little too eagerly, which is worrisome. Ive never been the kind of girl to run from a challenge, but I suspect Emmett thinks Im too young and immature for him.

Theres really no one I can talk to about my dilemma,since my closest friends here also work for Quantum or are married or engaged to the partners. Of course, theyre the ones whose opinions I most want because they know him better than I ever will at this frustrating rate.

Im going to have three whole days with him when we head up to Napa at the end of this coming week for Hayden and Addies wedding. Ive been counting the days with plans to implement Operation Nail Emmett Burke while were there. I figure I only need to get Marlowe and Sebastian out of the way, because other than Emmett and me, theyre the only ones who arent in relationships. With lovebirds circling all around us, I expect the four of us to end up on our own quite a bit and will fully exploit any opportunities that present themselves without humiliating myself in front of Marlowe.

Fine line thatll be

Ive made up my mind that the weekend in Napa is go time. Enough fantasizing about what Id do if I had a night with him. Its time to make those fantasies a reality.

Purchase Outrageous now!

Kindle US | iBooks | Nook | Kobo | Google | Kindle CA | Kindle UK | Kindle AU

Order a signed copy from Marie’s store, Amazon US and Amazon UK.

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CHECK OUT THE REST OF THE QUANTUM SERIES

The Quantum Series, written as M.S. Force, marks Marie’s first foray into erotic romance. In this series, she writes about celebrities working and playing in New York, Los Angeles and other locations around the world while pursing their passion for dominant sexual relationships. Join the principals of the Quantum production company as each of them meets their match in life and love!

Book 1: Virtous (Flynn & Natalie)

Book 2: Valorous (Flynn & Natalie)

Book 3: Victorious (Flynn & Natalie)

Book 4: Rapturous (Hayden & Addie)

Book 5: Ravenous (Jasper & Ellie)

Book 6: Delirious (Kristian & Aileen)

Book 7: Outrageous (Emmett & Leah)

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AUTHOR INFORMATION:

About the Author

Marie Force is the New York Times bestselling author of contemporary romance, including the indie-published Gansett Island Series and the Fatal Series from Harlequin Books. In addition, she is the author of the Butler, Vermont Series, the Green Mountain Series and the erotic romance Quantum Series. In 2019, her new historical Gilded series from Kensington Books will debut with Duchess By Deception.

All together, her books have sold 6.5 million copies worldwide, have been translated into more than a dozen languages and have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list many times. She is also a USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestseller, a Speigel bestseller in Germany, a frequent speaker and publishing workshop presenter as well as a publisher through her Jack’s House Publishing romance imprint. She is a two-time nominee for the Romance Writers of America’s RITA® award for romance fiction.

Her goals in life are simple—to finish raising two happy, healthy, productive young adults, to keep writing books for as long as she possibly can and to never be on a flight that makes the news.

Join Marie’s mailing list for news about new books and upcoming appearances in your area. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter @marieforce and on Instagram. Join one of Marie’s many reader groups. Contact Marie at marie@marieforce.com.

 

AUTHOR LINKS:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Newsletter | Goodreads

Join Marie’s Reader Groups

InkSlinger Blogger Final

 

Nudes by Sarah Robinson Sale Blitz with Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway ($25 Amazon Giftcard)

19 Aug

Sarah Robinson’s sexy NUDES is on sale! Be sure to grab your copy by August 26th!

About NUDES:

Praised by #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Lauren Blakely, as “Passionate, emotional and uplifting!”, contemporary romance author Sarah Robinson brings readers a new standalone novel set in the glamorous hills of Hollywood and tackling challenging themes like the intersection of sexuality and female empowerment.

Ben Lawson is making a comeback…
After a few tabloid headlines, they think they know me. They don’t know a damn thing. As CEO of a movie production company, I’ll show them who I really am when we hit it big at the box office. My ex thought her smear tactics would ruin me, but I’m unbreakable. Rising from the debris, I swore I’d never let a woman distract me like that again. But then, my leading actress walked on the set and changed everything.

Seductive, sexy, and unapologetic, Aria Rose could break me. I wanted to help her, protect her…love her. Instead, I destroyed her.

Aria Rose is baring it all….
I knew better. I knew not to trust another Hollywood heartthrob with a reputation like his. He was my boss and became my ruin. I should have stayed far away from him. Ben Lawson promised me the world. He even promised me his heart.

But he destroyed everything–my heart, my career, us.

Get Your Copy Today:

Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBooks | Google Play

Exclusive Excerpt:

PROLOGUE

Aria woke with a jolt, looking around the dark bedroom. As her senses slowly began to adjust, she looked for the source of whatever had disturbed her. Her cell phone vibrated against the surface of her nightstand, the screen lit so brightly it cast a square light onto the ceiling above.

Yawning, Aria grabbed for it. She glanced over at the man in bed next to her, her heart filling with warmth at the sight of his sleeping form.

Finally focusing on her phone, she realized she had dozens of missed texts, calls, and emails.

“What the hell?” she whispered to herself, sitting up.

Aria, are you awake? WAKE UP NOW.

Don’t look at the news. We need to talk. 911.

Is that you on E! News? Did you allow that?

OMG, ARIA! WHAT THE HELL?

What did you do?!?! This is career suicide!

Her heart began to race, panic swarming her every cell as she quickly clicked out on a website link her best friend sent her. A photo popped up, and then another, and another, and another, and Aria knew exactly what she was looking at.

Herself.

Nude.

Aria could barely breathe, trembling as she searched social media and entertainment news sites. The photos were everywhere. She was everywhere. Her breasts, her body, her love life on full display for the world to see.

It would have been bad enough if they’d just been images of her posing, but these were pornographic. These were her in her most intimate moments with a man she’d…

A sob stuck in her throat. Did he do this?

She looked at the man still sleeping beside her, fear gripping her heart.

This couldn’t be happening.

CHAPTER ONE

Two Months Earlier

“Wait until you meet our lead.” The heavyset producer’s eyes glinted with excitement as he spoke. He brought a sandwich up to his lips, taking a bite and continuing around a mouthful of food. “She’s only had small roles up until this film, but she’s up-and-coming. No doubt about it. Aria Rose is poised to take the world by storm come Oscar season.”

Ben didn’t reply, too distracted watching the producer trying to wipe a blob of mayonnaise off his tie. Arthur Atwood was a large man with a messy comb-over and an ill-fitting suit, which must have been a deliberate choice since Ben knew Arthur made a handsome salary.

Is he licking his tie?

His new right-hand man was actually licking mayonnaise off his tie. Not a good sign. Ben made a mental note never to ask Arthur to have a meeting over lunch at his desk again.

“Bugger, it’s in there good,” Arthur muttered in his thick English accent, dropping his tie and slapping his hands on his knees. “All right. Enough of that. Ready for a tour of the studio?”

“Very,” Ben replied, balling up the parchment paper his own sandwich had been wrapped in and tossing it into the wastebasket beneath his desk. He stood, rolling his shoulders and stretching his neck from side to side.

They’d spent the morning touring the corporate offices on the lot of Shepherd Film Studios where Ben would be officially starting in two weeks as the company’s new chief executive officer. He had agreed to come in on Friday to tour everything and meet the crew on their final day of filming—but the pressure was already on.

One of the oldest movie production companies in Hollywood, Shepherd Film Studios was well respected, but struggled to adapt to new changes in the industry—the rise of streaming services, quicker distribution on the internet, and other changes that appealed to younger generations.

Maguire Industries had recently purchased the studio and placed Ben in charge to fix that. He had one year to prove to the board at Maguire that he could turn Shepherd Films back into a thriving production company or they’d dismantle the company and sell it off for profit.

He was Shepherd Films last resort, and thank goodness, too. No one else in Hollywood was desperate enough to throw him a lifeline. Being an embarrassing public spectacle for the last two years had been by far one of the biggest setbacks in his professional life to date—and his personal life was to blame.

Fucking divorce.

“Have you seen any of her movies?” Arthur held the door to the office open for him, and together they headed down the hallways of the main offices. “She’s a bombshell—literally one of the most gorgeous women I’ve ever seen.”

“Aria Rose?” Ben replied, racking his brain for a mental image of the actress. “I’ve seen a few. Very pretty. She’s very talented but never been a lead.”

Scarlet’s Letters is her first starring role, and she’s perfect for it. We can watch the dailies from today’s filming, and you’ll see what I mean. We were really lucky to score her for this film.”

Ben had wondered about that, too. Aria wasn’t necessarily A-list, but she was an up-and-coming fan favorite among millennial and younger generations. Her social media attention was nonstop, and there was an almost cult following to her that had made Hollywood execs begin to take notice. Yet, he’d seen the budget this morning. She was being vastly underpaid for this film, and he wasn’t sure why.

They passed the guards at the front desk of the main offices and stepped out into the sun. “How did your team manage to sign her?” Ben asked.

“Sheer luck, I’d gather. She was following the script around—or so I heard. Determined to be part of it, though I can’t say why exactly. The script is great—historical World War II romance with a Hester Prynne theme—and we’re already getting some Oscar buzz from it. Still, it’s a long shot, and it’s nothing like her previous films.”

Ben pulled a pair of sunglasses from his suit pocket and placed them over his eyes. The bright Los Angeles sun was beating down on them as they climbed onto a golf cart to traverse the large lot to the studios. “Sounds like we’re the lucky ones, then.”

“You’ve got that right,” Arthur agreed, taking the driver’s seat since Ben was still mostly unfamiliar with the area.

A few minutes later, their golf cart pulled up outside a large warehouse-type building that read STUDIO E in large black letters across the top. Ben climbed out and followed Arthur to a small door off to the side, a red light lit above the door.

Arthur pointed to the light. “That means they’re filming, so not a peep.” He placed a finger to his mouth, indicating they needed to be quiet.

Ben nodded, and they entered the building only to be immediately shrouded in darkness. It might be his first day at Shepherd Films, but Ben was no stranger to movie sets and felt immediately at ease as they carefully made their way over to where the camera crew was.

Ben’s father, Roger Lawson, was a highly sought after cameraman who’d taken a career most people overlooked and became the best. He’d taught Ben to do the same—excel in everything by putting his whole heart into every project, no matter how small or large. As a young boy, he’d spent many a summer day with his father at work, learning the business of not only filming, but creating movies, in general.

Newly thirty years old, Ben had spent the last decade putting his father’s words into practice, rising through the ranks to become one of the hottest names in film production. He only wished his father was still alive to see his ascent, or at least, he had wished that until his ex-wife smeared his name through the tabloids during their divorce.

Never fall in love with an actress. The one rule his father had told him before he died that Ben had ignored. Lesson learned.

“Am I to be punished for helping a fellow human being?” A strong female voice broke through the silence around them.

Ben stepped around a crowd of onlookers to see the set. Behind him was an entire crew, and not a single dry eye. The emotion on everyone’s face surprised him. Following their attention to the main set, he saw the set was a bedroom. Sitting on the edge of the bed was a tall, broad-shouldered man with his head in his hands, wearing a soldier’s uniform from the 1940’s.

In front of the downtrodden soldier was a statuesque blonde, her hair flowing down her back in one long, chunky braid. Pieces of her golden mane escaped the braid, framing her face and highlighting her soft, pink cheeks. Pale blue-gray eyes brimmed with tears as she folded her hands over her heart.

“I won’t lie, James,” she continued, her voice softer now. “I can’t.”

The soldier suddenly stood, gripping the woman by her upper arms. “You have to lie, Anna. Your life is at stake—my life, our life. You’ll be imprisoned, and everything we’ve dreamt of will be over.”

She steeled herself, her jaw tightening. “If this is real…if our love is real…then we’ll survive this. Without the lies, the tricks, the falsehoods. We can survive this, James.”

Ben felt a swelling in his chest, a lump in his throat. He wasn’t even sure what the storyline was about, and yet, he was captivated by the woman in front of the cameras. Her presence was powerful…she was powerful.

“No, Anna.” He dropped her arms and stepped back, a look of disgust on his face. “We can’t survive this. Not if you choose their lives over mine…over ours.”

The blonde shook her head slowly, her hand now on her stomach as if she might be sick. “You can’t mean that, James. You can’t make me pick between loving you and my purpose in life.”

“It’s them…or it’s me. Now or never, Anna.”

Ben focused on the actress’s face, expecting to see her acquiesce to the steely-delivered ultimatum. Instead, her chin pushed up and she inhaled deeply. Everything about her posture and stance screamed strength, and yet, in the exact same moment, those blue-gray eyes ached with pain. Ben nearly forgot he was watching actors because her portrayal was so genuine…she was so genuine.

“Goodbye, James.” Her voice was gentle, but resolute.

The soldier’s nostrils flared angrily, before he slowly shook his head. “Goodbye, Anna.” With that, he walked out of the door and left her standing alone in the bedroom.

She waited a moment, staring after him. Her hand slowly lifted to her lips, covering her mouth as a loud sob ripped from her throat. In an excruciating display, her body dipped forward slightly before completely crumpling in on itself. She fell against the edge of the bed, sobbing into its sheets, as the lights on set dimmed.

“Cut!” the director yelled. “Holy fuck. That was amazing, Aria!”

The blond actress pushed up off the bed, smiling and wiping the tears from her cheeks. Everyone in the studio erupted into applause, and Ben joined in. She deserved every second of it after that performance.

A surge of excitement ran through Ben’s body—he could do this. With acting like this, there was no way their movie wouldn’t be a success. There was no way he wouldn’t be able to bring this studio success within the year with a film like this.

“Hey, Russell,” Arthur called out to the director and ushered Ben over to him. “Meet our new studio head, Ben Lawson.”

Ben extended a hand to the grungy looking man with long, curly black hair to his shoulders. “Good to meet you, Russell.”

“Please, call me Russ. I’m Russ Rains, director. I’m sure you’ve heard of me.” He donned a cocky smile. Metal and bracelets around his wrists made a clanking sound as they shook hands—a not too unusual fashion choice in this city.

“I have,” Ben admitted, though he didn’t really like this man’s ego already. It was certainly nothing unusual in Hollywood, and Ben had met the type many a time before. Russell Rains was a legitimately well-known director with several big box office hits under his belt, though it had been many years since his last. “Your work is amazing, Russ.”

“Thank you, Benji,” Russ said with an obnoxious chuckle. “Come on. Let me introduce you to our leads.”

“I’ll meet you back at the office,” Arthur told Ben. “Have fun on set!”

Ben followed Russell onto the bedroom set where the actress he’d been so captivated by was hugging the soldier who’d just broken her heart.

“You were amazing, Travis,” she said to him, pulling back from their embrace to smile at him.

Something inside Ben stirred—irritation, anger? He wasn’t sure, but he didn’t like seeing the man’s arms around the beautiful blonde.

“Sweet pea, come meet our new studio head,” Russ called out to Aria, who visibly bristled at his demand. Ben made a mental note to ask about the director’s dynamic with the actors later. “This here is Benji.”

Ben Lawson,” Ben corrected the director, extending his hand to the woman.

“Aria Rose,” she replied, taking his hand with a gentle squeeze. Her fingers were small and warm around his, and there was something sad about letting go. “Pleased to meet you, Mr. Lawson. This is my co-star, Travis Peters.”

The soldier shook his hand next. “Good to meet you, sir.”

“Please, call me Ben,” he instructed them both. “Travis, you were fantastic. And, Aria, I have to admit that your performance just now was incredible. I was unbelievably moved.”

Her pale pink cheeks darkened as she looked down at her hands. “Thank you.”

“I have no doubt this movie will be phenomenal.”

Russ slapped a hand on Ben’s back. “Hell, yeah. That was our last scene, so we’re officially wrapped.” The director stepped away from them and yelled to the entire crew. “It’s a wrap, fuckers!”

Ben didn’t even cringe at the man’s abrasiveness this time.

The crew clapped and cheered, and everyone was hugging and high-fiving each other. A swarm of people came onto the bedroom set to congratulate Aria, pushing Ben backward as he watched her gracefully accept their praise.

In fact, he couldn’t take his eyes off her, and it only had a little to do with how unbelievably attracted he was to her. As he stepped to the side, he watched how she smiled, laughing and embracing her co-workers. It was captivating. Aria commanded a room, not just when she was acting, but as herself. Her eyes danced and shone as she spoke to the crew and other actors, her smile wide and transformative.

He felt drawn to who she was, not just what he saw, and it was intoxicating. Though, what he saw was certainly breathtaking. Gorgeous wasn’t enough to describe this woman, or the way her long neck dipped into thin shoulders and a deep collarbone. Her breasts pushed against the dark red dress she was wearing that highlighted her hourglass silhouette, and her golden braid hung down over her shoulder with a weight and visible softness he’d never seen before.

Someone bumped Ben’s shoulder as they rushed in her direction, bringing Ben back to reality. What the fuck am I doing? He was barely six months out of a long divorce and had sworn off women entirely for now. And an actress? That was not happening. No way would he repeat his previous mistake twice. Not to mention that he was her boss, essentially, and that it would be a major conflict of interest. That was even assuming she was single and interested in him, which…

Why am I even thinking about this? Ben shook the thought from his head, unsure when the last time was that he’d ever felt this foggy-headed over a woman.

Aria’s laughter peeled through the air just then, melodic and joyous. Ben swallowed hard, shoving his hands in his pockets and heading for the door. He had to get out of there. Now.

He wouldn’t let himself fall for another actress, not even one as beautiful as Aria Rose.

About the Author:

Aside from being a Top 10 Barnes & Noble and Amazon Bestseller, Sarah Robinson is a native of the Washington, DC area and has both her Bachelors and Masters Degrees in forensic and clinical psychology. She is newly married to a wonderful man who is just as much of an animal rescue enthusiasts as she is. Together, they own a zoo of rescues including everything from mammals to reptiles to marsupials, as well as volunteering and fostering for multiple animal shelters.

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