Review and Blog Tour: After Midnight, by Serena Bell

1467266_498923863556906_140574012_n

I really enjoyed all three of these novellas. They were the perfect combination of saucy and sweet. I always seem to read a ton of Christmas books during November and December. This novella was a nice change of pace, since it was set around New Year’s instead.

The clock is ticking down to midnight on New Year’s Eve, and all Nora Hart and Miles Shephard can think about is kissing each other—even though they met just minutes before. Then, as fast as Miles enters Nora’s life, he’s gone… and she never even gets the name of the man she thinks might just be “the one.” One year later, Nora and Miles are reunited. The chemistry between them is just as strong as they remember. But Miles broke her heart once before—and this time around, Nora’s not sure whether she can give love a second chance.

AFTER MIDNIGHT – Excerpt from Chapter 1

December 31.
11:41.
11:42.
11:43.
At this rate, it would never be midnight, and Miles Shepard would never say a permanent good night to this sadistic son-of-a-bitch year.
He stuck his phone back in his pocket and let his eyes wander over the party. They were in someone’s twenty-second-floor condo, all brushed nickel and rice paper lamps and screens and edgy, modern furniture. Well-dressed Bostonians—they’d left their Uggs and Pats jerseys and twenty-year-old Sox caps homes tonight—monitored TVs tuned to network coverage of New Year’s events in various U.S. and world cities. The collective effect of an apartment bedecked with garlands of black and white streamers and metallic silver balloons, full of women in cocktail dresses and sparkly tops and ass-hugging jeans, was—well, if it hadn’t quite carved through the numbness that had been Miles’s constant companion for the last few weeks, it had at least chipped into it.
His childhood friend Owen was talking to a tall blonde in high-heeled boots, skin-tight silver pants, and a black velvet tunic. She towered over him, but it didn’t appear to intimidate Owen in the slightest. Owen grinned and told the blonde something with his usual complement of hand gestures, and she smiled back and dipped her head.
Owen was one of those guys with mysterious appeal—he was thin to the point of near scrawniness, with a head of hair that was as unruly as a yellow dandelion, but women found him easy to talk to. Miles guessed that a month ago, you could have said the same about him. These days, Miles wasn’t talking much, so if anyone was saying anything about him tonight, it was, “What’s up with the block of stone in the corner?”
The thing was, Miles knew Owen had his back. If anyone trash talked Miles, Owen would be ready with a slapdown. When Miles had called him last week to say he needed to get the hell out of Cleveland and had no place to go, Owen had picked him up at Logan airport, opened his condo to Miles, taken Miles to his sister’s house in Newton for Christmas, and otherwise tried to convince Miles his world hadn’t ended. Like maybe it was in some kind of weird suspended animation and at some point they’d unfreeze Miles and let him have another chance at it.
So for Owen, Miles would endure this party, even if it stayed 11:44 forever, like some punishment straight from the hyper-imaginative Greek gods.
A shriek cut through the hectic bounce of “Come on Eileen” and he looked up to see a woman dancing her heart out. He definitely wasn’t completely numb because his gaze fastened on the jiggle of her breasts under her shiny black tank top. Blood didn’t exactly rush south—it moved thickly through his bloodstream—but at least it was moving. Those were some awesome breasts, and he didn’t only mean awesome-cool—he meant awesome in its original awe-inspiring sense. They were the size and firmness that typically had to be purchased, but he knew real when it danced, and those were one hundred percent real.
His eyes traveled upwards and—whoops!—met hers. She’d been watching him stare at her breasts like an eleven-year-old unschooled horny boy. He made a wry apologetic face, and she laughed. Man, she was pretty, and not in a cover-of-a-magazine standard-issue way. She had strawberry blond hair cropped pixie short, an adorable, mobile face, elfin ears and a long, skinny nose. He didn’t usually go for short hair, but it worked on her, probably because the rest of her was so indubitably female.
And now she was dancing and holding his gaze and his face got hot as his blood picked up pace and got serious about things. His gut clenched, his dick was heavy now, and she was moving for him. Still holding his gaze. The way she danced, it wasn’t sexual, not really. It was just uninhibited. Kind of—joyful. She had this grin on her face that was nine-tenths of what made her so pretty. Most people never looked that happy about what they were doing.
He wanted to cross the floor and—
And what? And proposition some woman he’d never met before in a city that wasn’t his when his life was in knots?
Yeah. Brilliant idea.
He broke the connection, turned away. He headed for the food table, which must have been catered because this was no half-assed assortment of stuff people had scavenged from their pantries. There was a ham whose smoky flavor was addictive—Miles had eaten way more than his fair share an hour ago—and a cheese assortment that had probably cost several hundred dollars by itself. The dip-and-veggies setup was a work of art, not a grocery-store plastic-tray affair. Between the platters, bouquets of mylar balloons urged him to have a Happy New Year’s. He frowned at them.

You will love all three of these stories. I honestly fell in love with the cover, even before I knew who was writing in it. I mean, seriously, look at this cover.

1471978_498923830223576_1410257607_n

So head over to Amazon and snag Heating Up the Holidays 3-Story Bundle (Play with Me, Snowfall, and After Midnight): A Loveswept Contemporary Romance right now. At the time of posting, it’s only 99 cents!!

Be sure to enter the a Rafflecopter giveaway

~Melpomene

Advertisements

Review: Yours to Keep by Serena Bell

20131121-084640.jpg

Well, I thought this was going to be an ordinary light romance, but it was EXTRAORDINARY! Ana is an undocumented immigrant from the Dominican Republic, but only because her visa ran out when she was a child and her mother passed away. Ethan is a well-loved local doctor (and widower) who needs a Spanish tutor for his teenage son. You can connect the dots that form the romance.

But Serena Bell gives the reader even more of a story… the story of Ana’s family, their efforts, their fears, their love for one another. I cried my eyes out at Ana’s plight: trying to achieve and succeed while flying under the radar in a country that didn’t know she existed. Ana’s brother and sister were her whole world, and they sometimes had to give up personal wants and values for the good of the whole family.

The other moms in the community were surprising but necessary characters. They tried to befriend Ana, help her, and make her feel better. But no rich white woman had been in her shoes. They didn’t feel the fear of getting caught that Ana lived with daily. They were awkward and ignorant, even if they meant well.

I absolutely enjoyed the love story in Yours to Keep. Ana and Ethan overcame personal challenges and came to a meeting of the hearts and minds. What really pulled at my heart strings though was Ana’s illegal immigrant status and her determination to succeed despite it. The adorable-but-typical teenager was a heart-tugger, too. And watching his talented dad (He cooks! He cleans! He saves lives!) fall in love was very romantic.

–Calliope

Buy it now Yours to Keep