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#TrailerReveal #Giveaway Hot Stuff by Kim Karr

Published September 8, 2017 by Ashley Montgomery

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Hot Stuff by Kim Karr
Publication date: September 27th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance

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Get ready to fall in love with this new standalone sports romance from New York Times bestselling author Kim Karr.

He’s the newly drafted quarterback.
Hot. Arrogant. Too sexy for words.
Ready to score.

I’m an athletic intern, and the coach’s daughter.
Driven. Determined. Prepared to conquer the world.
Completely off-limits.

The NFL is full of rules. Rules I’ve never broken. Never challenged. Never even scratched—until the day Lucas Carrington crashes into my life with his hard body and I-don’t-give-a-f*ck attitude.

After I almost injure my father’s star player, I volunteer to make sure he’s in top shape. At first, it’s hell. I don’t like his attitude, his cockiness, his easy smile. Don’t like the way he oozes sex. Or how his penetrating eyes follow me everywhere.

That doesn’t stop me from wanting him.

He’s meant to be a distraction—something to occupy my mind for these precious few remaining hot summer nights before I’m forced to leave football behind forever.

I know what we’re doing will lead nowhere good. I know we’re crossing the line. And I know my father will never understand.

None of that matters.

But maybe it should.

Rules aren’t meant to be broken.

Or are they?

Hot Stuff by Kim Karr from Bibliophile Productions on Vimeo.

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Kim Karr is a New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestselling author.

She grew up in Rochester, NY and now lives in Florida with her husband and four kids. She’s always had a love for reading books and writing. Being an English major in college, she wanted to teach at the college level but that was not to be. She went on to receive an MBA and became a project manager until quitting to raise her family. Kim currently works part-time with her husband and recently decided to embrace one of her biggest passions–writing.

Kim wears a lot of hats! Writer, book-lover, wife, soccer-mom, taxi driver, and the all around go-to person of her family. However, she always finds time to read. One of her favorite family outings was taking her kids when they were little to the bookstore or the library. Today, Kim’s oldest child is seventeen and no longer goes with her on these, now rare and infrequent, outings. She finds that she doesn’t need to go on them anymore because she has the greatest device ever invented–a Kindle.

Kim likes to believe in soul mates, kindred spirits, true friends, and Happily-Ever-Afters. She loves to drink champagne, listen to music, and hopes to always stay young at heart.

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#CoverReveal #TrailerReveal #Giveaway Unplugged by LK Collins

Published November 18, 2016 by Ashley Montgomery

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Unplugged by LK Collins
Publication date: November 30th 2016
Genres: Erotic Romance

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From the moment I laid eyes on her, I was doomed.
Quinn Whitmore was unlike any other woman in the world.
She was it for me. That spark, that instant connection became my sole purpose for breathing.
Her laugh would take over a room.
Her smile brought me to my knees.
And her body was…pure perfection.
When I met Quinn, she was fresh off a nasty breakup and had ruled out all men. She wanted to spend the week in the Rocky Mountains unplugged from the world, unwinding and focusing on herself.

So I decided to let it go.
But my mind wouldn’t.
Every thought suddenly became consumed with Quinn, and I knew I had to have her. So when she finally agreed to a week of just sex, no strings attached, I took the deal and ran. It would give me time to fuck my Quinn obsession out of my head.
But, man, was I wrong, a week wasn’t enough. A lifetime wouldn’t be enough.

The problem…Quinn was hiding a secret—a secret that would ruin my life. And ruin it she did.

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From International Bestselling Author, LK Collins, comes UNPLUGGED a sexy new standalone novel about a week of sex with no strings attached. LK writes an array of emotionally and sexy gripping Erotic Romance novels. Her stories are compelling and will draw you in from page one, and with twists and turns along the way, she always keeps her readers enthralled ’til the end. When LK’s not lost in the minds of her characters, you can find her on the beach with her family, where her husband and writing partner, “The Prezident,” are sure to be plotting out her next tale.

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#TrailerReveal Ink Exposed (Montgomery Ink #6) by Carrie Ann Ryan

Published November 7, 2016 by Ashley Montgomery

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Ink Exposed (Montgomery Ink #6) by Carrie Ann Ryan
Publication date: November 29th 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance

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The Montgomery Ink series continues with the brother that deserves a second chance, and the woman who has always loved him.

Alex Montgomery lost his first love and then proceeded to leave himself in the bottle. Only he and his ex-wife truly know why he fell so hard and so fast down a path he never thought he’d take. Now he’s clean, out of rehab, and learning how to be a Montgomery once again—a task that isn’t quite as easy as some of his family assumes.

Tabby Collins is an honorary Montgomery and the organizational mastermind behind Montgomery Inc., the family’s construction company. She loves her planners, friends, and a certain dark-haired man who’s never given her a second glance.

Alex is slowly re-immersing himself back into the world, but the demons he faced before aren’t out of the picture, and he’ll have to learn to rely on others to make it out whole. When Alex discovers that Tabby’s life is in danger, he not only finds a way to help her but also learns the true woman behind the soft smiles he’s always seen. Their romance won’t be an easy one, but nothing this passionate and heart-pounding ever is.

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Carrie Ann Ryan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary and paranormal romance. Her works include the Montgomery Ink, Redwood Pack, Talon Pack, and Gallagher Brothers series, which have sold over 2.0 million books worldwide. She started writing while in graduate school for her advanced degree in chemistry and hasn’t stopped since. Carrie Ann has written over fifty novels and novellas with more in the works. When she’s not writing about bearded tattooed men or alpha wolves that need to find their mates, she’s reading as much as she can and exploring the world of baking and gourmet cooking.

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#Promo #Excerpt #Trailer Tru Blue by Melissa Foster

Published November 1, 2016 by Ashley Montgomery

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Tru Blue by Melissa Foster
Publication date: November 9th 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance

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Imagine falling in love with a man, then finding out he was a killer…TRU BLUE is a sexy, dark stand-alone novel written in the same loving, raw, and emotional voice romance readers have come to love, and the deeply emotional literary prose women’s fiction readers have come to expect, from New York Times & USA Today bestselling, award-winning author Melissa Foster.
He wore the skin of a killer, and bore the heart of a lover…

There’s nothing Truman Gritt won’t do to protect his family–Including spending years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. When he’s finally released, the life he knew is turned upside down by his mother’s overdose, and Truman steps in to raise the children she’s left behind. Truman’s hard, he’s secretive, and he’s trying to save a brother who’s even more broken than he is. He’s never needed help in his life, and when beautiful Gemma Wright tries to step in, he’s less than accepting. But Gemma has a way of slithering into people’s lives and eventually she pierces through his ironclad heart. When Truman’s dark past collides with his future, his loyalties will be tested, and he’ll be faced with his toughest decision yet.

“Several emotional topics — such as drug addiction, abandonment, infertility and unexpectedly becoming a parent — are easily woven together without making the story feel crowded or overdone. Foster writes exceptional characters that keep readers thinking long after the book is finished… The dynamic members of the Whiskey family are the foundation that holds the group together and they are exactly the reason we’re taught not to judge. Let’s hope we hear more from all of them!” RT Book Reviews

“Sexy and Heartbreaking….I simply adored this beautifully written romance.” Tasty Book PR

“Ms. Foster, went for the gut with Truman and Gemma. Tru Blue is more than a romance, it is a story of love, a story of hope and a story of courage. 10 + stars.” Night Owl Reviews
“With her wonderful characters and resonating emotions, Melissa Foster is a must-read author!” New York Times Bestseller Julie Kenner

“Melissa Foster is synonymous with sexy, swoony, heartfelt romance!” New York Times Bestseller Lauren Blakely

“You can always rely on Melissa Foster to deliver a story that’s fresh, emotional and entertaining. Make sure you have all night, because once you start you won’t want to stop reading. Every book’s a winner!” NYT Bestselling Author Brenda Novak

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TRUMAN GRITT LOCKED the door to Whiskey Automotive and stepped into the stormy September night. Sheets of rain blurred his vision, instantly drenching his jeans and T-shirt. A slow smile crept across his face as he tipped his chin up, soaking in the shower of freedom. He made his way around the dark building and climbed the wooden stairs to the deck outside his apartment. He could have used the interior door, but after being behind bars for six long years, Truman took advantage of the small pleasures he’d missed out on, like determining his own schedule, deciding when to eat and drink, and standing in the f**king rain if he wanted to. He leaned on the rough wooden railing, ignoring the splinters of wood piercing his tattooed forearms, squinted against the wetness, and scanned the cars in the junkyard they used for parts—and he used to rid himself of frustrations. He rested his leather boot on the metal box where he kept his painting supplies. Truman didn’t have much—his old extended-cab truck, which his friend Bear Whiskey had held on to for him while he was in prison, this apartment, and a solid job, both of which were compliments of the Whiskey family. The only family he had anymore.

Emotions he didn’t want to deal with burned in his gut, causing his chest to constrict. He turned to go inside, hoping to outrun thoughts of his own f**ked-up family, whom he’d tried—and failed—to save. His cell phone rang with his brother’s ringtone, “A Beautiful Lie” by 30 Seconds to Mars.

“F**k,” he muttered, debating letting the call go to voicemail, but six months of silence from his brother was a long time. Rain pelleted his back as he pressed his palm to the door to steady himself. The ringing stopped, and he blew out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d trapped inside. The phone rang again, and he froze.

He’d just freed himself from the dredges of hell that he’d been thrown into in an effort to save his brother. He didn’t need to get wrapped up in whatever mess the drug-addicted fool had gotten himself into. The call went to voicemail, and Truman eyed the metal box containing his painting supplies. Breathing like he’d been in a fight, he wished he could paint the frustration out of his head. When the phone rang for the third time in as many minutes, the third time since he was released from prison six months ago, he reluctantly answered.

“Quincy.” He hated the way his brother’s name came out sounding like the enemy. Quincy had been just a kid when Truman went to prison. Heavy breathing filled the airwaves. The hairs on Truman’s forearms and neck stood on end. He knew fear when he heard it. He could practically taste it as he ground his teeth together.

“I need you,” his brother’s tortured voice implored.

Need me? Truman had hunted down his brother after he was released from prison, and when he’d finally found him, Quincy was so high on crack he was nearly incoherent—but it didn’t take much for f**k off to come through loud and clear. What Quincy needed was rehab, but Truman knew from his tone that wasn’t the point of the call.

Before he could respond, his brother croaked out, “It’s Mom. She’s really bad.

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Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes sexy and heartwarming contemporary romance and new adult romance, contemporary women’s fiction, suspense, and historical fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Her books have been recommended by USA Today’s book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the World Literary Café and Fostering Success. When she’s not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on Fostering Success. Melissa has been published in Calgary’s Child Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Women Business Owners magazine.

Melissa hosts an Aspiring Authors contest for children and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa lives in Maryland with her family.

Visit Melissa on social media. Melissa enjoys discussing her books with book clubs and reader groups, and welcomes an invitation to your event.

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#Excerpt #TrailerReveal #Giveaway Wait (Bleeding Starts #4) by A.L. Jackson

Published August 12, 2016 by Ashley Montgomery

Wait COMING AUGUST 23

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Wait (Bleeding Starts #4) by A.L. Jackson
Publication date: August 23rd 2016
Genres: New Adult Romance

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She is his strength and he is her weakness. And this time he won’t let her go.

Edie Evans is gorgeous.
Sexy.
Kind.
She’s also the definition of off-limits.
But that didn’t stop me from sneaking into her room to comfort her at night.
But guys like me? We destroy everything, so it should have been no surprise when I destroyed us, too.
The night I sent her running, I thought I’d never see her again.
Until I saw her standing like a vision in the crowd.

Austin Stone is dangerous.
Alluring.
Tempting.
He broke my heart and I refused to give him the chance to do it again.
It’s been years since I’ve seen him, and now I can’t do anything but stare at the gorgeous, tattooed man playing onstage. I should run. I know I should. But like a fool, I run straight back to him.
Our desire is overpowering.
Our need unrelenting.

She is my hope.
He is my weakness.
We should have known a passion this intense would burn us right into the ground.

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“Edie…please…just…wait.”
I gripped the railing as if it might propel me forward. Instead, my footsteps faltered and slowed. I stood facing away, my back heaving as his consuming presence swarmed over me from behind.
“Please.” This time it was a whisper. A plea.
Sincere.
Slowly I turned.
Drawn.
He’d always been my weakness.
Austin stood at the end of the walkway, just outside the reach of the lights, his body obscured in shadows.
Even larger than I’d imagined when I’d first seen him up on stage.
So foreign.
So familiar.
My heart ached. Because I was looking at the boy who’d been my best friend. The one person who I’d thought would completely understand. One who wouldn’t judge or make it hurt more than it already did.
He’d been my safety.
My haven.
Until he’d dragged me right back into hell.
“Why are you here?” My words cracked. “H-h-how…how did you find me?”
I saw the shake of his head, and he took a single step forward, out of the shadows and into the glow of the single lamp attached high on the exterior wall that lit the way.
It hit him like a spotlight.
The boy was so beautiful.
It was a threatening kind of beauty, a whorl of mystery and pain, sharp lines and corded muscle.
It almost dropped me to my knees.
He fisted his hands at his sides. The question was strained, hard as it pressed from his mouth. “You believe in fate, Edie?”
Old grief I’d bottled for so long burst. It came out as some kind of maniacal cry. Incredulous. Oozing disbelief. “After everything that happened…that’s what you’re going to ask me?”
“Edie…I—”
“Do you have any idea how badly you hurt me?” I cut him off, my own hands fisting as I took a single step forward. “The damage you caused? Careless words, Austin. So fucking careless, thrown out there without a single thought to the repercussions, without any consideration of how they would affect me. How they would change my life. You promised.” My brow twisted with the accusation. “And now you have the nerve to stand there and ask me if I believe in fate?”
I swallowed hard, shook my head. “You can go to straight to hell, Austin Stone.”
He laughed, but there was zero humor behind it. “Come on, Edie. You can do better than that, can’t you? Considering you know hell is where I’ve been all along, and you and I both know I deserve so much worse. And yeah…those words were reckless, but you know they weren’t heedless. You couldn’t expect me to just stand there. Not with him. Not with what he was saying. Implying. I couldn’t.” The last cracked on the emphasis.
I felt as if every cell in my body was being crushed. Squeezed so tight there was no chance but for everything to implode.
“And because you lost it, I lost it all. You. My home. My future.”
His big hands fisted. “I know. I…I fucked it up, Edie. Warned you, I always fuck it up.”
But what he failed to say was he’d promised he wouldn’t fuck it up with me.
I couldn’t tell if I was relieved or terrified when Jed suddenly rounded the corner. His sister, Blaire, was hot on his heels.
“Edie,” Jed gushed out in relief when he saw me. He came to a stop a few steps behind Austin.
As if he’d just stepped into the bristling intensity and it tripped up his feet.
The stand-off.
The war.
Austin standing there? I knew that’s exactly what this was going to be.
“What the hell is going on here?” Jed demanded. His voice twisted into a threat. He glared at the back of Austin’s head, worried eyes flicking to me, hardening when they snapped back to Austin.
Blaire tugged at his arm. “Jed…I told you to give her a minute. Sometimes you need to let people sort out their own issues.”
Jed just grunted and shrugged off her arm.
Refusing to budge.
Austin swung his head to look behind him. When he did, his face shifted to the side, all those hard, beautiful lines exposed in profile, his expression winding into a bitter sneer. “Nah, man. All’s good here. Just telling an old friend hi. Isn’t that right, Edie?”
Aggression curled between them.
Alive and raging.
Jed was a burly, beefy, hulk of a man, a full beard covering most of his face, his brown hair cut short at the sides and longer on top.
Had I ever imagined him and Austin going toe to toe, I would have put all my money on Jed.
Now I wasn’t so sure.
Jed lifted his chin, as if for the moment he was standing down, turning to me as his tone softened. “You okay, Edie?”
I nodded. “Yeah, I’m okay.”
Lie. Lie. Lie.
I was shaken to my core.
“I just want to go home.” It left me on a desperate breath.
Jed pushed around Austin and stalked my way. “All right, let’s get you out of here.”
As she passed by Austin, Blaire cast a searching glance in his direction, before her attention flickered over to me, a ton of worried questions moving across her expression.
Questions I didn’t know if I had the strength to answer.
With an arm wound around my shoulder, Jed spun me, breaking the spell Austin had me under, and tucked me into his side.
Protecting and shielding.
He began to lead me away, down the planks and toward his car waiting in the parking lot out front.
With each step we took, I could feel the heat of Austin’s stare. That burning intensity I wasn’t sure I could ever escape.
The hurt and hatred.
It was a hatred I couldn’t tell who it was directed at.
If it was aimed at him or me or the rest of the world that had threatened to choke the life out of us.
The world we were supposed to take on together.
Just as we started to round the corner, I paused because I just couldn’t stop myself, turned to look back at the man who stood there staring back at me.
Emotion gripped his expression just as tight as the clench of his fists.
Hard and tortured.
As if I was the one inflicting the pain.
I choked down the sorrow that rose like a cyclone, spinning and spinning, whipping up the old affection that longed for that soft, understanding boy to take me in his arms and sing in my ear.
Dangerous.
I searched inside myself for the shelter that secured my heart. The flimsy cover I wore that just barely kept me together. I forced myself to speak the words I knew would drive him away, as much of a lie as they were. “And for the record…no, Austin, I definitely don’t believe in fate.”

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A.L. Jackson is the New York Times & USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance. She writes emotional, sexy, heart-filled stories about boys who usually like to be a little bit bad.
Her bestselling series include THE REGRET SERIES, CLOSER TO YOU, as well as the newest BLEEDING STARS novels. Watch for the next installments, WAIT and STAY, coming in 2016.
If she’s not writing, you can find her hanging out by the pool with her family, sipping cocktails with her friends, or of course with her nose buried in a book.
Be sure not to miss new releases and sales from A.L. Jackson – Sign up to receive her newsletter http://bit.ly/NewsFromALJackson or text “jackson” to 96000 to receive short but sweet updates on all the important news.

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#Excerpt #Trailer Where Lightning Strikes (Bleeding Stars #3) by A.L. Jackson

Published March 22, 2016 by Ashley Montgomery

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Where Lightning Strikes (Bleeding Stars #3) by A.L. Jackson
Publication date: March 22nd 2016
Genres: New Adult Romance

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Do you know what it feels like right before lightning strikes? How you can feel the current running through your veins? The trembles of warning that ripple through the air? It was a thrill Tamar King chased all her life until it became the very thing she had to escape.
For the last four years, Tamar King has hidden herself in an isolated world she created. She was safe. No one could touch her. Until Lyrik West walked through her door.
He’s the lead guitarist for Sunder and everything she can never have. The dark and beautiful rock star becomes everything she craves.
Lyrik’s life has been devoted to his band and that success has cost him. Bitter, hard, and filled with regret, he refuses to lose himself again, but from the moment he sees her, he wants one night with Tamar King.
The gorgeous bartender is more than he bargained for. Their attraction is consuming. Their desire overpowering. With one touch, they ignite.
But is it worth the cost of getting burned?
She’s a gorgeous nightmare and he’s a wicked dream…
WHERE LIGHTNING STRIKES, a Bleeding Stars Stand-Alone Novel

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For one night, I wanted it. I wanted her secrets. I wanted to sink my fingers in and take for myself. She was the exact kind of contradiction I craved.
The push and pull.
But this time the pull was too great to ignore.
I traced my thumbs along the delicate slope of her neck. Dragged them across the soft, soft skin. Her pulse was racing with a violent beat. I forced her to look at me while my entire body ran hot.
“Tell me what you want, Red.” It slipped out in a rough murmur.
In the distance, thunder rolled. Those blue eyes flashed. Flashed with courage and fear.
Something about it made me shake.
Almost defiantly, she lifted her chin, and she reached up with her small hands and grasped me around the wrists.
“I want you to kiss me.”
Motherf*cker.
Leave it to Red to ask for the thing I didn’t want to give. Memories cut a path of panic through my consciousness. Reminding me of what I’d done. Of why I could never get too close.
Of where my loyalty truly lay.
Clenching my jaw, I gripped her tighter. My heart was giving its all to reject this. Screaming at me to wise up and to do it fast. To turn my back and walk away. No doubt, my feet had officially crossed into the forbidden zone. Out of bounds.
Red was trying to take me places I didn’t want to go.
On the inside, I struggled like a goddamned madman. Torn between lashing out like I’d done the last time she’d been tempting me with the need to sink inside her, to discover the countless secrets she had lying underneath, and gathering her up and letting her in on all of mine.
I was at an all-out war with my instincts. The f*cked-up thing was I didn’t even know what those were anymore.
Not when it came to her.
Wavering, I rocked forward in indecision then rocked back. Getting closer to those full red lips with each pass.
Her attention flitted over my face. They jumped from my eyes to my mouth and back again. She fisted my suit jacket.
“What do you want?” she demanded, turning the question on me. Her voice was a brazen, needy mix of the siren who had no issue with putting me in my place and the soft vulnerability that kept seeping through.
My tongue darted out and swept across my bottom lip.
Dying for a taste.
“F*ck it.”
Figured she was going to kill me, anyway.

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A.L. Jackson is the New York Times bestselling author of contemporary and new adult romance.
She first found a love for writing during her days as a young mother and college student. She filled the journals she carried with short stories and poems used as an emotional outlet for the difficulties and joys she found in day-to-day life.
Years later, she shared a short story she’d been working on with her two closest friends and, with their encouragement, this story became her first full length novel. A.L. now spends her days writing in Southern Arizona where she lives with her husband and three children.

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#Release Blast #Excerpt Fighting Dirty (Ultimate #4) by Lori Foster

Published March 13, 2016 by Ashley Montgomery

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Fighting Dirty (Ultimate #4) by Lori Foster
Publication date: February 23rd 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance

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He’s the hottest MMA fighter in the game, but one woman is ready to try out a few steamy moves of her own in an unforgettable new novel from New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster

With the life he’s led and the muscles he’s gained, Armie Jacobson isn’t afraid of anything. Except maybe Merissa Colter’s effect on him. It’s not just that she’s his best friend’s little sister. Fact is, she deserves better. Women pursue him for one night of pleasure, and that’s all he wants to offer. Until rescuing Merissa from a robbery leads to the most erotic encounter of his life.

Good girl meets bad boy. It’s a story that rarely ends well. But Merissa is taking matters into her own hands. No matter how he views himself, the Armie she knows is brave, honorable and completely loyal. And as past demons and present-day danger collide, they’re both about to learn what’s truly worth fighting for…

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“Jesus, Quick. You’re a freak of nature. You know that, right?”
Armie Jacobson, known as Quick to his fighter friends, ignored the complaint and threw a few more jabs, then a solid body shot, making Justice, a six-foot-five heavyweight, double over. Stepping back, Armie flexed his hands, bounced on the balls of his feet, and waited.
Unfortunately, Justice only put his hands on his knees and sucked air.
Frowning, Armie removed his mouthpiece. “Seriously? Come on, dude. Let’s go.”
“Screw you.” Schlepping back to his corner, Justice grabbed up a water bottle. He doused his head and chest, and then started chugging.
Aware of others watching, Armie said nothing. Everyone worked out, trained and sparred in the rec center, but lately, whenever he did, a dozen or more people stopped to watch. He didn’t mind an audience. Hell, he couldn’t be a competitor if he did. For the most part he paid no attention. Once he got in the cage, he went into a zone and the world receded.
But this insane ogling shit, like he was a damned sideshow, bugged him big-time.
A trickle of sweat tracked down his temple from his headgear, and he swiped a forearm over his face. His muscles burned and more sweat soaked his chest, abs and rolled down his spine. He was figuring out what to say to Justice to get him back in action when he picked up her scent. The faint perfume cut through the rec center air, thick with the smells of sweaty men working hard.
Trying to look casual, Armie stared at Justice but in his peripheral vision he saw her striding across the room. No mistaking that long-legged gait, or that longer dark hair. He swallowed, frozen.
“What?” Justice asked, sounding both suspicious and ridiculously alarmed with the way Armie had locked onto him.
Armie shook his head – and thankfully Merissa disappeared into the hallway leading to the offices.
Releasing a breath, he looked toward the clock and frowned. Yeah, they’d been at it for a while, maybe longer than he’d intended. His cardio was better than most, definitely better than Justice’s, the big lug.
Armie walked over to him. “You need to get more gas in the tank.”
“Go fuck yourself.”
When Armie grinned, Justice eyed him warily. “Stop it.”
That switched his grin to a frown. “Bitchy much?”
Justice slouched against the wall and glared back. “You shouldn’t be able to grin, you prick. You should be as tired as me.”
A natural trainer, Armie took pity on him. “You’re a lot bigger.” As a six-foot tall middleweight, Armie stood five inches shorter and weighed a lot less than Justice.
“Lotta good it does me.”
Squatting down in front of him, Armie said low, “People are watching, so stop whining.”
Justice’s gaze slipped past him and he groaned.
“Yeah, the big dogs are here again.” Damned nosy bastards. Ever since he’d signed with the SBC, the powers-that-be had been scoping him out like their newest lab rat. “Stand up, go another two minutes with me, then we’ll call it quits.”
Huffing out a breath, Justice lumbered to his feet. “Freak of nature,” he muttered again, but he followed Armie out to the center of the ring, and he did his best.
His best was nowhere near good enough against Armie.
But then, they fought for very different reasons.
Twenty minutes later, fresh from the showers, Armie was ready to head out. The mid February weather left frost on every surface, so he tugged on a stocking hat over his still wet hair and pulled a thick hooded sweatshirt on over his clothes. Carrying his gym bag, he entered the main area cautiously. This late in the day, the mats were now cleared. Miles and Brand took their turn mopping with sanitizer. Many of the lights were turned down and only the core group of friends remained, clustered together in conversation.
The SBC heads were gone, and better still, he didn’t see Merissa anywhere. She’d probably just been dropping off paperwork for her brother, Cannon, who owned the rec center.
Relieved, Armie started for the door. With any luck, he’d manage it before someone stopped him –
“Hey, Armie.”
Damn. After a slight hesitation, he turned to where Denver, Stack and Cannon all stood together. “What’s this? The three Married Musketeers?”
Stack, who’d only married a month ago, reeked of satisfaction. “Aw, he’s jealous.”
Yup. But since he’d die before admitting it, Armie said, “Nope.”
Denver, still a newlywed himself, grinned. “Probably lonely too, poor guy.”
Very. Groupies, orgies, and random one-night stands could only take a guy so far. He had a rep for sexual excess, and that’s what the ladies wanted from him. That, and nothing more.
Checking the time, Armie said, “I could be lonely with three very nice ladies if you yahoos would let me leave.”
Unlike the others, Cannon didn’t laugh. “Seriously? Again?”
Why the hell did his best friend have to sound so disapproving? And if he knew why Armie had made those plans, he’d probably be pissed as well as disapproving, because it was thoughts of Cannon’s little sis that he worked so hard to obliterate. Not that a foursome would accomplish much beyond taking the edge off. His obsession with Merissa seemed to amplify by the day.
Copping an attitude, Armie shrugged. “Yeah, really. Unless you have something –” Or someone “- better for me to do?”
“As a matter of fact, that’s why I wanted to talk to you.”
Well hell. He hadn’t figured on that. Armie ran a hand over his hair. “Then let’s hear it.”
“Yvette wanted everyone to come over tonight to hang out and visit.”
Armie adored Yvette. She was perfect for Cannon and a real sweetheart. But damn… “Who all will be there?”
With a very knowing smile, Cannon said, “Everyone important to us. So don’t miss it.”
Double damn. Merissa definitely counted as important.
Armie didn’t want to, but with all the guys eyeballing him, how could he refuse? “What time?”
“Now.”
Armie scowled. “What do you mean, now?”
“Now, as in you don’t have time to do anything else, so forget it.”
Justice came dragging out, his faux-hawk hair still wet, his goatee in need of a trim, and his cauliflower ears worse than ever. He shoulder-bumped Armie as he passed. “If you hadn’t been determined to cripple me, maybe you’d have had more time for playing.”
“Wuss,” Armie accused with a grin.
“He has a point,” Brand said as he pushed a mop bucket toward them.
Miles, giving one last swipe of the mat, followed him. “Keep pushing that hard and you’re liable to hurt something before the competition.”
“I still have two months.” Two months of freedom and he’d spend it however he wanted. Sure, Armie knew there were established training methods, but they weren’t for him. Never had been, never would be – no matter who he fought for.
“This isn’t local fighting anymore,” Denver reminded him.
As if he’d forget.
“Carter Fletcher isn’t a slouch,” Miles added. “You might not walk through him like you do the local guys.”
“They call him Chaos for a reason.” Brand frowned. “I’ve seen him fight and he’s unpredictable.”
Yeah, so his first opponent was supposed to be a stud. Big deal. Armie shrugged to show he didn’t really care. Not that long ago the SBC, the most widely known MMA organization, had run him to ground and all but coerced him into signing on with them. Cannon had helped with that, pushing him to take the next step since he’d already demolished all the records in local venues.
It was a big step, too, something all the other guys had worked for. The SBC paid a lot more and offered incredible name recognition. Their fighters traveled the world to compete.
But Armie liked being low key; it was a hell of a lot safer for multiple reasons. If it wasn’t for Cannon –
“He’ll do fine against Carter,” Cannon said. “And don’t worry about his training. Armie motivates differently, that’s all.”
Always, no matter what, Cannon had his back. As the only other person to know why he’d avoided fame and fortune, Cannon understood. They weren’t related, but they were brothers all the same.
Which was the second biggest reason he couldn’t, shouldn’t, crave Merissa the way he did. Cannon protected those he loved.
And he loved his sister a lot.
“It’s getting late,” Cannon added. “Don’t want to keep Yvette waiting.”
Glad for the switch in topic, Armie pulled out his phone. “Guess I better make some calls and let the ladies know I won’t make it after all.”
Stack looked at Denver. “If it was anyone but Armie, I’d think he was making it up.”
“Lonely,” Denver confirmed.
Armie walked away knowing they were right.

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Since first publishing in January 1996, Lori Foster has become a USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly and New York Times bestselling author. Lori has published through a variety of houses, including Kensington, St. Martin’s, Harlequin, Silhouette, Samhain, and Berkley/Jove. She is currently published with HQN.

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