Review: Blood Truth by J.R.Ward


When J.R. Ward writes a book, you stop everything to read it. I devoured this in less than 24 hours and I regret nothing. My family can survive on cereal, am I right?

Let me start off by saying I love Boone and Butch! After the death of his father, Boone was taken of rotation and partnered up with Butch to solve the gruesome murders of women patrons of a local club. They worked so well together. We usually see the vampire side of Butch, so it was nice to see his human side for a bit. His years in law enforcement came in handy and I liked the way Boone learned from it.

I feel like Boone was struggling, even if he didn’t realize it. He has nothing but the trainee program. Until he meets Helania. Her sister was one of the victims so she’s trying to catch the murderer as well. When these two cross paths it’s an instant connection. Because, as you know, with these vampires, it only takes an instant to find the one for you. While he should be maintaining a professional distance, his heart is screaming for him not to. While a murder investigation isn’t fun, watching them tow the line between professional and personal was.

Helania tugged at my heart. She was all alone after her sister’s death. She didn’t have an easy time growing up and making friends so her shyness/awkwardness was sweet in a sad way. Watching her grow stronger throughout this book was magnificent. I love to see women grow. And I really love watching the men help them do that.

Blood Truth seemed to have more Brothers and Bastards than trainees, which I am happy about. I just love those brothers! I know we’re getting at least one more Legacy book but I swear Ms. Ward has said that she wants to merge them into the Brothers’ books so we don’t have to keep up with too many different series. I don’t even mind. I want this world to never stop.

We also get a glimpse into one of the Bastards, which was fun. I know his book is coming next so this was a nice set up. It makes me super excited to read his story. I have a feeling it’s gonna be WILD.

~Melpomene

Click the pic to buy

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Do you need a Savior?


Waiting for this has been MURHDER…

I am so ready for The Savior! Are you? I am currently on my 7th reread of the Black Dagger Brotherhood in preparation for The Savior. In fact, I reread these every year since I discovered them. There’s something very addicting about these books. So Tuesday can’t come soon enough! Preorder so you can start it right away. https://amzn.to/2THtUc2

While I wait for my book to arrive, I’ll be enjoying the latest edition of The Caldwell Courier Journal that will show up in my email. Have you subscribed yet? If not, click HERE to be added. Meanwhile, enjoy this preview while you wait.

Who better to ask for honest, snarky relationship advice than Vishous?
Ask At Your Own Risk
.

Dear Vishous, Agony Aunt Column
(with help from Mary)

Dear Vishous,

First of all, thank you for doing this. I need another perspective. I am a 27 year old woman, about fifteen months out of a five year relationship. I started dating a guy about two months ago. I’ll call him “Evan.” We met on Match.com. We both workout. We like a good time out at the clubs and the bars. We’re both Sox fans. He’s funny and he’s been good about keeping in touch when he travels frequently for work.

My problem is this. He told me he was twenty-eight. A week or so ago, when we were playing pool at our local, he told me to snag his wallet and pay for the next round at the bar. While I was getting money out, I saw his driver’s license. It said he’s thirty-six and the address listed was in a different area of the city than he told me he lives in. I got the drinks and put his wallet back in his pocket, and tried not to think about it.

But I can’t shake the idea he lied, and it’s causing me to obsess about things that are probably no big deal. Like, he only comes to stay at my place. I’ve never been to his apartment, and when I asked about this, he said he has two roommates who get on his nerves and he prefers the break he gets when he sleeps at my apartment. And I’ve introduced him to my friends, but he’s never offered to do the same. At first, I was psyched because my ex never wanted to hang with my people. But now? I guess I’m uneasy and looking for shadows everywhere.

I don’t care how old he is, and I know that some times folks on Match fudge their age to make them more attractive. And maybe it’s just an old license. I don’t want to ruin a good thing by looking like I’m second guessing him about stuff that only appears iffy and for which there is a reasonable explanation.

Please advise,

On The Fence In Beantown

#################

Vishous: Here’s what you need to do. Go to your local Stahp ‘n Shahp and get some Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ. Then get a good knife. After you slice his b*lls off, marinate them and then pan fry ‘em. Serve them to him hot and spicy and-

Mary: Okaaaaaaay. Let’s just all take a deep breath here.

V: I know, because the BBQ sauce smells great, right?

Mary: Ah, no. It’s because we should not settle this type of conflict through bodily harm.

V: Whatever, that lying sack of sh*t with the fake Match profile doesn’t deserve a set of nuts. S’all I’m sayin’.

Mary: I think we’ve heard your point of view loud and clear. And now, I’d like to offer a more nuanced opinion. On The Fence, it’s clear that there are some reasons to be concerned about this guy. One of the things that I tell people in my practice is to always trust your instincts. As much as you want to believe the best-

V: Fine. No BBQ sauce, then. Just slice, dice and toss ‘em in the pan. He doesn’t deserve Sweet Baby Ray’s.

Mary: …………….

V: What. Oh, come on, don’t look at me like that.

Mary: I’ve never actually said this before to someone, but why don’t you light up a cigarette and take a few deep drags.

V: I thought you’d never ask.

Mary: Anyway, On The Fence, my suggestion is that you have a frank, face-to-face conversation with “Evan.” Share your concerns calmly and succinctly. See what his answers are. Based on how he responds, you should be able to tell a lot. Is he listening to you and taking you seriously? Is he offering to have you stay over at his place? Or is he defensive and turning everything back on you-

V: And his Red Sox card is revoked. He has to root for the Yankees now.

Mary: -in a way that makes you uncomfortable? At the end of the day, you deserve to be in a relationship with someone who’s as honest as you are and treats you the way you’re treating them.

V: I have to agree with Mary on this one. Even though you’re a human, being with a lying sack of sh*t is whack.

Mary: Remember, your physical safety comes first, and fast on its heels is your emotional health. Please do not sacrifice your happiness just because you are hoping that “Evan” is the one-

V: I think you’re going to find out he’s got a wife and kids and he’s playing you. Which brings us back to my solution to the problem-

Mary: -and let us know how it goes, please. Best of luck!

V: F**k him! Go get a real man- and that skillet.

~Melpomene

Review: Prisoner of Night by J.R.Ward


Whenever we get a book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood world, I am very excited. Even if these characters aren’t known to us, there’s more happening in the BDB world than with just the Brothers. Prisoner of Night will give us a tiny smidgen of the BDB world as we wait for The Savior to come out in April.

Druan has been imprisoned for years and biding his time to escape. But he has no idea his plans are about to take a crazy turn. When Ahmare walks into his prison something flairs up inside him and gives him the shock of his lifetime. There’s something about this female that has him questioning everything.

Ahmare’s brother has been captured and in order to free him she must use the “weapon” she’s provided with to retrieve something of value to his captor. What she wasn’t planning on was this weapon being a huge scary male with decades of pent up anger and hurt.

“I don’t want it to be like I never existed.”

These two characters go on a journey to places they never imagined, into a world they wish never existed. No matter what happened to Duran, these past decades, he was still a male who’s been raised to protect females, so he will do what it takes to get the job done and to find his revenge. What he doesn’t plan on is falling for this female almost instantly. But in the BDB world, that’s the way things happen. When they know, they KNOW.

I liked Ahmare. She kept a cool head all the while making choices that would affect her forever, all for the sake of her brother. I loved watching her discover that no matter what happened in the past, she is finally able to move forward, if she has the right male beside her.

“Funny, how a male could tell you, you’re beautiful without a word”

Prisoner of Night is a shorter story filled with the darkness and excitement we’ve come to know from the BDB books. This is a good way to wet your feet a little in this world without having to diving head first into this epic series. But really, why wouldn’t you wanna do that? The Black Dagger Brotherhood are one of my most favorite series. I wish everyone would dive into these books. I hope this series never ends.

~Melpomene

Buy Prisoner of Night https://amzn.to/2LQtaz6

Excerpt:

Twenty-One Years, Three Months, Six Days Ago . .

“Where is it! Goddamn you, where’s it at!”

Duran spit blood out of his mouth and spoke over the ringing in his ears. “I’ll never tell you—”

Chalen the Conqueror swung his open palm again, nailing Duran’s lacerated face like a bat hitting a fastball. But it didn’t hurt as much as the other shit they’d been doing to him in this castle’s great room. They’d already pulled out his fingernails, broken all of his toes, and whipped his back until strips of his own flesh flapped against his ribs. At the moment, he didn’t have the strength to keep himself on his feet, but no worries there—two guards, with grips locked under his pits, were holding him up off the floor.

As his head flopped back into its lolling hang, he shook it to get the sweat and blood out of his eyes. In the hissing, kicking light of the hearth, the male in front of him was stocky of build and ugly of feature, an oak stump with a bulldog’s muzzle and a hungry bear’s bad fucking attitude.

“You are going to tell me the location.” Chalen took Duran by the throat with one of his meat hands. “And you’re going to do it now.”

“Sorry, not . . . a big talker—”

The conqueror grabbed onto the lower half of Duran’s face, squeezing so hard his jaw split and the inside of his mouth was forced between the hard-and-sharp of his molars. More blood welled, spilled, fell on his bare chest.

“Why are you protecting the male who put you here?” Chalen’s opaque eyes searched Duran’s expression as if he were trying to extrapolate a map of Maryland in the features. “All you need to do is tell me where that facility is.”

Duran waited for that grip to release. When it did, he spit more blood out. “I’m not . . . protecting him.”

“Then what are you doing?”

“Making sure you don’t cheat me of what’s mine.” Duran smiled, aware he must look deranged. “You kill him . . . I don’t get to.”

Chalen crossed his strong-man arms over his barrel chest. He was dressed in weapons, whatever clothes he had on underneath the holsters of guns and knives largely hidden by metal. No daggers, though. He’d never been Black Dagger Brotherhood material and not just because he was a mutt according to his lineage: Even among black market thieves, there was a code of conduct.

Not for Chalen. He had no code. Not in the Old Country, and not during his last century here in the New World.

There was only one male who was worse.

“I will break you,” Chalen said in a low voice. “And I will enjoy it.”

Duran laughed in a wheeze. “You have no idea what I’ve already been through—”

Chalen swung that palm wide again, the crack so heavy Duran lost his vision, everything going checkerboard. And then there was a drop in blood pressure, his brain emptying of oxygen, floaty disassociation riding in, a foggy savior buffering the suffering.

The sound of chains moving and gears shifting brought him back to reality. A section of the sweaty stone wall rose by inches, the great weight ascending like a gate, revealing a corridor . . .

Revealing a male who was naked but for a black hood that covered his head.

“I will make you pray for death,” Chalen said. “And when you give me what I need, you will think back to this moment. When you could have saved yourself from so much.”

Duran exhaled in a gurgle. His body was on fire, the pain burning through his veins, turning him into a semi-living, kind-of-breathing, sort-of-conscious incubator for agony.

But fuck Chalen.

“Do what you will,” he mumbled. “I’m not going to give you a goddamn thing.”

“I will make you wish you were never born.”

As the hooded male came forward, Duran was dragged over and slammed face-first down onto a table, his torso bent parallel to the floor. Turning his face to the side, he smelled the spoiled meat and rancid fat embedded in the fibers of the planks.

“Already there, asshole.”

Preview: Wedding from Hell part 3 by J.R.Ward


Here’s the final part of the FREE 3-part prequel to Consumed. It’s actually an excerpt from Consumed. I don’t know about you, but I’m even more excited to dive into it now that we got a glimpse into this world. As a firewife, I’m all about firefighter books, so I’m a very happy girl.

Here’s the synopsis:
About the Book:
From the creator of the #1 New York Times bestselling Black Dagger Brotherhood series, get ready for a new band of brothers. And a firestorm.

Anne Ashburn is a woman consumed…

By her bitter family legacy, by her scorched career as a firefighter, by her obsession with department bad-boy Danny McGuire, and by a new case that pits her against a fiery killer.

Strong-willed Anne was fearless and loved the thrill of fighting fires, pushing herself to be the best. But when one risky decision at a warehouse blaze changes her life forever, Anne must reinvent not only her job, but her whole self.

Shattered and demoralized, Anne finds her new career as an arson investigator a pale substitute for the adrenaline-fueled life she left behind. She doesn’t believe she will ever feel that same all-consuming passion for her job again—until she encounters a string of suspicious fires setting her beloved city ablaze.

Danny McGuire is a premiere fireman, best in the commonwealth, but in the midst of a personal meltdown. Danny is taking risks like never before and seems to have a death wish until he teams up with Anne to find the fire starter. But Danny may be more than a distraction, and as Anne narrows in on her target, the arsonist begins to target her.

And here’s your final excerpt:
Excerpt:

Harbor Street and Eighteenth Avenue
Old Downtown, New Brunswick, Massachusetts

Box alarm. One-niner-four-seven. Two engines and a ladder from the 499, responding.

Or, put another way, Anne Ashburn’s Friday night date had showed up on time and was taking her to a show. Granted, “on time” was the precise moment she had sat down for a meal at the stationhouse with her crew, and the “show” was a warehouse fire they were going to have to chorus-line for. But if you judged the health of a relationship on its constancy and whether it brought purpose and meaning to your life?

Then this firefighting gig was the best damn partner a woman could ask for.

As Engine Co. 17 turned the corner onto Harbor with siren and lights going, Anne glanced around the shallow seating area of the apparatus. There were four jump seats behind the cab, two forward- facing, two rear-, the pairs separated by an aisle of gear. Emilio “Amy” Chavez and Patrick “Duff” Duffy were on one side. She and Daniel “Dannyboy” Maguire were on the other. Up in front, Deshaun “Doc” Lewis, the engineer, was behind the wheel, and Captain Christopher “Chip” Baker, the incident commander, was shotgun.

Her nickname was “Sister.” Which was what happened when you were the sibling of the great Fire Chief Thomas Ashburn Jr., and the daughter of the revered—falsely as it turned out— Thomas Ashburn, Sr.

Not everybody called her that, though.

She focused on Danny. He was staring out the open window, the cold November wind blowing his black hair back, his exhausted blue eyes focused on nothing. In their bulky turnouts, their knees brushed every time the engine bumped over sewer access panels, potholes, manholes, intersections.

Okay, okay, she wanted to say to fate. I know he’s there. You don’t have to keep reminding me.

The hardheaded bastard was a lot of things, most of which carried terms you couldn’t use around your grandmother, but he knew she hated the “Sister” thing, so to him, she was Ashburn.

He’d also called her Anne—once. Late at night about three weeks ago.

Yes, they had been naked at the time. Oh, God . . . had they finally done that?

“I’m gonna beat you at pong,” he said without looking at her. “Soon as we get back.”

“No chance.” She hated that he knew she’d been staring at him. “All talk, Dannyboy.”

“Fine.” He turned to face her. “I’ll let you win, how about that?”

His smile was slow, knowing, evil. And her temper answered the phone on the first ring.

“The hell you will.” Anne leaned forward. “I won’t play with you if you cheat.”

“Even if it benefits you?”

“That’s not winning.”

“Huh. Well, you’ll have to explain to me the ins and outs of it when we’re back at the house. While I’m beating you.”

Anne shook her head and glared out the open window.

The first tap on her leg she ascribed to a bump in the road. The second, third, and fourth were obviously—

She looked back at Danny. “Stop it.”

“What?”

“Are you twelve?” As he started to smile, she knew exactly where his mind had gone. “Not inches. Age.”

“I’m pretty sure I peak more like at sixteen.” He lowered his voice. “What do you think?”

Between the sirens and the open windows, no one else could hear them—and Danny never pulled the double entendre if there was a risk of that. But yes, Anne now knew intimately all of his heavily muscled and tattooed anatomy. Granted, it had been only that once.

Then again, unforgettable only had to happen one time.

“I think you’re out of your mind,” she muttered.

And then they were at the scene. The old 1900s-era warehouse was a shell of its former useful self, sixty-five thousand square feet of broken glass panes, rotting beams, and blown-off roof panels. The outer walls were brick, but based on the age, the floors and any room dividers inside were going to be wood. The blaze was in the northeast corner on the second floor, billowing smoke wafting up into the forty-degree night air before being carried away by a southerly wind.

As Anne’s boots hit the ground, she pulled the top half of her turnouts closed. Her ponytail was up high on the back of her head, and she stripped out the band, reorganized the shoulder length, and cranked things tight at her nape. The brown was still streaked with blond from the summer, but she needed to get it trimmed—so all that lightness was on the chopping block.

Of course, if she were a woman “who took care of herself,” she’d get it highlighted through the winter months. Or so her mother liked to tell her. But who the hell had time for that?

“Sister, you sweep the place with Amy for addicts,” Captain Baker commanded. “Stay away from that corner. Danny and Duff, run those lines!”

As Captain Baker continued to bark orders out, she turned away. She had her assignment. Until she completed it, or there was an insurmountable obstacle or change of order, she was required to execute that directive and no other.

“Be safe in there, Ashburn.”

The words were soft and low, meant for her ears alone. And as she glanced over her shoulder, Danny’s Irish eyes were not smiling.

A ripple of premonition made her rub the back of her neck. “Yeah, you, too, Maguire.”

“Piece’a cake. We’ll be back at pong before ten.” They walked away from each other at the same time, Danny going around to the stacks of hoses in the back, her linking up with Chavez…

Be sure and grab this final part before you dive into Consumed.
Wedding from Hell
Part 1 https://amzn.to/2BDpL58
Part 2 https://amzn.to/2LeCF9t
Part 3 https://amzn.to/2PoZ3A6

Preorder Consumed so you can have it ready to read on release day, Oct 2
https://amzn.to/2nXznxW

Preview: Wedding From Hell part 2 by J.R. Ward

Today we get the second part in J.R. Ward’s free prequel, Wedding From Hell. These are so much fun. I love getting surprises like these from my authors. Here’s an excerpt to get you even more excited.

Excerpt:

Saturday, October 31
T minus 2 hours ’til blastoff
St. Mary’s Cathedral, New Brunswick, Massachusetts

Anne Ashburn had never had veil envy, as they called it. As a young girl, she had never pictured herself walking down an aisle in a white dress, ready to be rescued by a knight-in-shining-armor groom who was going to take charge and take care of her for the rest of her life.

Nope. Anne had wanted to fight fires like her father and then her brother. Even though she no longer respected the former, and had a strained relationship with the latter, she’d wanted to pull on turnouts and strap an air tank to her back and breathe canned air as she ran into open flames dragging hundreds of pounds of charged line with her. She’d wanted to rescue grandmothers, and children, and people who had succumbed to smoke inhalation. She’d been ready to cut open crumpled cars and drag broken bodies out of wreckage at the sides of highways. She’d been determined that the extremes of cold winter nights, hot summer days, physical exhaustion, and mental fatigue would never keep her from doing her job.

So, yup, the old fashioned Mrs. degree had never held any fascination for her. There was no way in hell she was going to be like her mother, living a derivative, nineteen-fifties version of life, nothing but a pretty blow-up doll that was expected to cook, clean, and cut the yapping.

On that note, as she pulled into St. Mary’s parking lot and looked up at the great cathedral’s stained glass windows and lofty spires, she decided it made sense that not only was she not the bride, she wasn’t even a bridesmaid.

Like the rest of the crew down at the 499 firehouse, she was a groomsmen in the impending nuptials of Robert “Moose” Miller and Deandra—what the hell was her last name anyway? Cox. That was it.

Anne was thinking groomsmen was a role she might as well get used to. Not that Duff, Emilio, Deshaun, or any of the other men she worked with were settling down anytime soon.

Especially not Dannyboy Maguire.

Right on cue, a Ford truck entered the parking lot, the late afternoon sun flashing across its windshield.

As Anne’s heart kicked in her chest, she was tempted to hustle in the side door of the church—but she had never been one to run from a challenge.

Danny was more than just a challenge, though.

And okay, fine. So maybe she had already run out of his way at least once: Last night, at the rehearsal dinner, she’d positively bolted after he’d made that speech of his.

I never believed in love . . . I thought it was just a word, a title folks gave to daydreams and misconceptions about destiny, a lie folks told to themselves to make them feel solid in this imperfect, unreliable, and mean-ass world.

Now I know it can happen between two people. And it doesn’t have to make sense because it’s not about logic. And it doesn’t have to have good timing because forever is like infinity, without beginning or end. And it doesn’t have to be defined because truth is like faith—it just is.

So, let’s toast to love.

He’d looked at her while he’d spoken. He had been talking . . . to her . . . in that slow, deep voice.

Everybody else had toasted Moose and Deandra. But Anne had known it hadn’t been about them. Danny, ever the ladies man, king of the one-night stand, he who shalt never be tied down . . . seemed to be suggesting not just that he’d had a change of heart.

But that he might have given his own to Anne.

Unless she was misreading everything? Then again, they had kissed the night before that. In her living room. While riding an adrenaline high after they’d saved a life in an alleyway.

And lips-to-lips had been better than good, the rare circumstance when reality had improved on a fantasy. After two years of attraction and sizzle and unacknowledged heat, that which had been pushed under the rug was exposed now.

And there was no going back.

Especially as she felt the same way.

So hell yeah she had bolted out of that restaurant. The second she had been able to get up from her chair, she had
hit the exit and left Danny without a ride home.

He’d called two hours later. He’d been in a bar, probably Timeout where the crew always went, the noise in the background loud and raucous.

She had not answered. He had left a short message, but not called again.

Anne just wasn’t sure what to do. Well, that wasn’t entirely true. There were plenty of things she wanted to do to him, with him, on him—all of which were naked and erotic and not necessarily only horizontal.

Refocusing, she watched Danny’s truck pass by. From behind the wheel, he looked over at her.

She waited for him to find a space and get out, and as he walked across to her, she tried—tried—not to go sixteen-year-old girl at the sight of him in a tuxedo.

#epicfail

He was very tall, over six feet five, and he was built hard and muscular, his shoulders so wide, his chest so broad, his waist the point of the inverted triangle of his torso. His jet-black hair was still damp, and what sunlight there was in the mostly cloudy sky flashed blue in its depths. He was freshly shaven—his cologne reaching her nose even before he stopped in front of her—and his eyes were that brilliant blue that had always arrested her.

Irish eyes.

But they were not smiling.

For a man who was rarely serious, he looked positively grim, and she frowned.

“You okay?” Stupid question. “I mean—”

“Yeah, no. I’m fine.”

Standard answer for firefighters when they were in pain. And she wondered if it had to do with that speech of his, and what she could have sworn he had been telling her.

His eyes shifted off to the side and then his mouth got thinner.

“And here’s the blushing bride.”

A stretch limo entered the parking area and made a fat turn toward the back door of the cathedral. When it stopped, its driver got out and went to the rear door.

Seven all-in-pink, spray-tanned, body-glittered, and blond-streaked women got out one by one, a clown car of bridesmaids who were such carbon copies of each other, it was like they had been ordered out of a catalogue.

And then the white dress emerged.

Deandra, Moose’s intended, had her blond-streaked hair—natch—piled up on her head in an organized, sculpted waterfall of curls. Her veil was a gossamer fall over her tiny waist and her big skirt, and the shimmer of crystals across the bodice and down the front and sides of the gown made her look like a princess.

Provided you didn’t catch her expression.

She was sour as an old woman with gout and shingles. In spite of the fact that she was supposedly marrying her true love, she looked downright nasty as she snapped at the driver, glared at her maid of honor, and yanked her skirting up to march into the back of the church.

“Wow,” Anne muttered. “That’s a happy bride.”

“Whatever. They’re on their own with this dumbass idea.”

“Did you happen to talk to Moose last night?” she blurted.

“As in out of this? Or would that be considered tacky given it was less than twenty-four hours before the priest hit the altar with them.”

Danny rolled his eyes. “He’s bound and determined to ball-and-chain himself. Personally, I’d be running in the opposite direction.”

And then there was silence between them. Tension coiled up quick, and as Anne’s temples started to pound, she decided it was going to be a long night, just not for the reasons she’d assumed at the beginning of the weekend.

If you haven’t started book 1, go here and grab it: https://amzn.to/2KFSxkW
Book 2: https://amzn.to/2Mum3vY
Preorder book 3(Aug 28): https://amzn.to/2ARbaTs

Preview: Wedding From Hell by J.R. Ward

GUYS!!! Did you see that J.R. Ward has surprised us with a FREE three part prequel to her new book Consumed, which comes out in October? Super excited to dive into these as we wait for Consumed to release. Part one is available now. Parts two and three will be coming in August. Scroll down for links and an excerpt.

About the Book:
It’s a classic recipe for disaster: Take one bridesmaid who thinks pink is the root of all evil, mix with a best man who’s hotter than a four-alarm fire, add in their explosive sexual attraction, a nightmare bridezilla, two cat fights, and an emergency call, and you have the wedding from hell.

Experience the sizzling start of Anne and Danny’s intense relationship. Is this the start of something good…or just an erotic one-night stand that rocks their world, but must never be repeated?

Grab Part 1 https://amzn.to/2LE5e4e
Preorder Part 2 https://amzn.to/2A8B8By
Preorder Part 3 https://amzn.to/2A8Ctby

Excerpt:

Thursday, October 29
T minus 48 hours ’til blastoff
College Row, New Brunswick, Massachusetts

“Because women are not frickin’ groomsmen! That’s why she can’t be in the goddamn wedding!”

As Anne Ashburn walked in the back door of the shotgun apartment, that happy little explosion was not only what she’d expected all along, it also offered her the out she’d been praying for. And it was probably the one and only time she was ever going to agree with the bride.

Not about the role of females in bridal parties, but that Anne wasn’t going to be in the “goddamn wedding.”

Everyone standing in the kitchen turned and looked at her: Deandra Cox, the impending wearer of the white dress; Robert “Moose” Miller, her exhausted fiancé and Anne’s fellow crew member down at the 499 fi rehouse; and . . . Dannyboy Maguire.

Who was the only one she really noticed and, for that reason, the person she refused to look at.

Too bad Danny always made an impression. Like most firefighters, he was in great physical shape, his big body thickly muscled and ready to snap into motion in an instant. With his heavy arms linked over that chest and his long legs crossed at the boots, he was leaning back against the chipped countertop, his too-blue stare missing nothing. He was fresh from a shower, his glossy black hair wet, and Anne tried not to picture him naked under the spray, his tattooed torso arching as he rinsed the shampoo out of his—

She put her hands up to stop herself as much as the argument. “Look, I don’t want to cause any problems. I’m happy to step aside—”

“And now I have one too many bridesmaids.” The bride-to-be refocused on her intended. “My count is wrong. You wait until two days before the wedding to tell me this when you know I’m not going to like it, and now my count is off!”

As the groom focused on the linoleum floor, it was impossible not to picture a wax version of the couple on a multi-tiered cake: Deandra in skinny jeans and that tight cashmere sweater, her dark hair streaked blond, her body cocked forward like she was going to throat-punch the man she was going to marry; Moose in his New Brunswick Fire Department T-shirt, all broad-shouldered and bearded around the face, easing back like someone with the flu was about to sneeze in his face.

Ah, true love.

“I didn’t think it was a big deal,” Moose muttered. “Anne’s a member of the four-nine-nine crew, and everyone else is with me.”

“She’s a girl.” Deandra pointed at Anne. “It throws off everything.”

“I really don’t want to cause any problems.” Anne put her hands up again. “So I’ll just be in the congregation. It’s perfectly fine—”

Deandra’s glare swung Anne’s way. “The count is still wrong. And my friends have already paid for their dresses. They were a hundred and twenty dollars apiece.”

And that’s my cue to go, Anne thought. Moose may have volunteered for this, but no one else had or needed to—

“I think women can be whatever they want.”

As Danny spoke up, everyone looked at him—including Anne, who suddenly felt shades of what Deandra was throwing out.

Don’t you dare, she mouthed at him behind the bride’s back.

Danny just shrugged like he’d thrown on a pantsuit and was channeling Oprah, Michelle Obama, and Hillary Clinton all at once. “I mean, Deandra, you’re above all that sexism, aren’t you? No one’s going to tell you what’s right and wrong for your own wedding. You’re more secure than that.”

I am going to kill you, Anne vowed. “I think Deandra wants things done properly for her only wedding.”

Danny frowned in pseudo-confusion. “So you’re saying it’s okay to have a double standard for men and women? That’s a shocker given how you are at the station. I thought you believed in equality.”

“I do,” Anne snapped. “But this isn’t about equality.”

“You sure? I don’t know how you can support traditional gender roles when it comes to a wedding ceremony at the same time you defend the right for women to be firefighters, cops, and on the front lines in the military.”

“Spare me someone who’s never been in a dress having an opinion about women’s issues, okay?”

“I’m just pointing out that you don’t want women out of dresses.”

“It’s her wedding.” Anne jabbed a finger at Deandra. “She’s the bride. She gets to say what’s right and wrong for her, and she does not need some man telling her what to do.”

“Even if I’m defending the rights of women?”

“Until you grow a set of ovaries, you can shut the hell up about our rights!”

As Anne’s voice ricocheted around the kitchen, she realized that she’d marched right up to Danny—and that Deandra and Moose were watching the two of them in total stillness.

She cleared her throat and took a step back. “Anyway, Deandra’s made up her mind. And I support her decision.”

Deandra’s eyes narrowed on Danny, and something about the way the woman looked at him didn’t seem right.

“Actually,” the bride said, “maybe she should be in the wedding party.”

Anne prayed her expression stayed neutral. “Don’t compromise your vision on my account.”

“I won’t.” The woman stared at Danny. “Fine. Let’s put her in a tuxedo like the rest of the men. She can walk my sister down the aisle, just like a man should. Her shoulders are too big for a gown, anyway, and that way my count stays the way it should.”

Anne rolled her eyes. Let’s hear it for girl power.

“So it’s settled,” Deandra said with a tight smile. “You need a tux. Unless you already own one.”

For a moment, Anne waited for somebody to argue with the woman. Like Moose. But he was clearly done falling on swords over the wedding details, and Danny had just gotten what he wanted so he wasn’t going to say a damn thing.

And the truth was, after how many years of fighting fires with these men, they were her brothers in all but blood. Even though she thought Moose had lost his ever-loving mind marrying this beautiful but sour woman after knowing her for a matter of months, Anne was still going to stand up for the guy if he wanted her to—and he did. He’d asked her down at the stationhouse specifically.

“Where did you guys rent your suits?” Anne said to him.

“Tuxedoes,” Deandra corrected.

The groom blinked like he’d forgotten how to speak English. Then again, he’d been doing that a lot at the firehouse lately. “You’re actually going to wear one?”

“What the hell do I care?”

“Yes, she is wearing one,” Deandra cut in.

Danny spoke up. “I’ll go with you. I know where the place is.”

About the Author:
J.R. Ward is the author of more than thirty novels, including those in her #1 New York Times bestselling Black Dagger Brotherhood series. There are more than fifteen million copies of her novels in print worldwide, and they have been published in twenty-six different countries around the world. She lives in the South with her family.

Review (Revisited): The Simplicity of Cider by Amy E. Reichert

So glad I gave Richert another try after the disaster of her last book (sorry, but I hated it!). After falling in her love with her first book, I really wanted her to redeem herself with this one…and boy did she ever! If I had any complaints I just wish it was a bit longer and had some more details with a few minor characters. I am really hoping one comes back and has her own book soon.

Sometimes reading a book is just what you need to reset your spirit and get your head in the right place. This is that book. Having attempted and abandoned 2 books previous to this one…and having read several in a row that were just so-so…well this is exactly what I needed to clear out all the clutter in my head.

As in her first book, I couldn’t wait to finish this one and had problems putting it down once I started…Another book I finished in less than 24 hours…that hardly EVER happens in my life anymore and now I have found an author that has inspired me to do it TWICE!

Can’t wait to read what she comes up with next…

Until next time…
Urania xx

ARC provided by Netgalley for an honest review

The Simplicity of Cider by Amy E. Reichert