Reel by Kennedy Ryan

Reel is alive and pulsing like a beating heart.

This romance is a triumph of art and emotion.” 

–Talia Hibbert, New York Times bestselling author 

 

Reel, an all new epic CONTEMPORARY STANDALONE love story from Wall Street Journal bestselling author Kennedy Ryan, is available now!

 

One moment in the spotlight.

 

For months I stood by, an understudy waiting in the wings, preparing for my time to shine. 

I never imagined he would watch in the audience that night. 

Canon Holt.

Famous film director.

Fascinating. Talented. Fine.

Before I could catch my breath, everything changed. 

I went from backstage Broadway to center stage Hollywood.

From being unknown, to my name, Neevah Saint, on everyone’s lips.

Canon casts me in a star-studded Harlem Renaissance biopic, catapulting me into another stratosphere. 

 

But stars shine brightest in the dead of night.

Forbidden attraction, scandal and circumstances  beyond my control jeopardize my dream.

Could this one shot—the role of a lifetime, the love of a lifetime—cost me everything?

 

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EXCERPT

When the show reaches its climax, at the very end, the song pries the final note from my diaphragm, pulls it from my throat and suspends it—leaves it throbbing in the air. The theater goes quiet for the space of a breath held by 800 people and then explodes.

Applause.

The relief is knee-weakening. I literally have to grab John, the lead actor’s, arm for support.

He doesn’t miss a beat, pulling me into his side and squeezing.

“Bravo,” he whispers, a broad, genuine smile spread across his face. The last song made me cry, and my face, still wet from those tears, splits into a wide, disbelieving grin.

I did it. I survived my first Broadway performance.

The lights drop and we rush backstage, a cacophony of laughter and chatter filling the hidden passageways. When the curtain call begins, the cast return to the stage in small waves, the applause building as the principals take their bows.

And then it’s my turn. On legs still shaky, I leave the safety of the wings, the long skirt of my costume belling out around me. I take center stage. The applause crescendos, approval vibrating through my bones and jolting my soul. Someone thrusts flowers into my arms and the sweet smell wafts around me. Every sense, every molecule of my being strains, opens, stretches to absorb this small slice of triumph. I can’t breathe deeply enough. The air comes in shallow sips, and I’m dizzy. The world spins like a top, a kaleidoscope of colors and light and sound that threatens to overwhelm me. The whirl of it makes me giddy, and I laugh.

Eyes welling with tears, I laugh.

These are the moments a lifetime in the making. We toil in the shadows of our dreams. In the alleys of preparation and hard work where it’s dark and nothing’s promised. For years, we cling by a thread of hope and imagination, dedicating our lives to a pursuit with no guarantees.

But tonight, if only for tonight, it’s all worth it.

I’m still floating when Takira bursts into the dressing room.

“Neevah!” she screams, throwing her arms around me and rocking me back and forth. “You did it. You chewed that performance up and spat it out. You hear me?”

I laugh and return her squeeze, new tears trailing down my cheeks.

“Thank you.” I pull back to peer into my friend’s face. “I can’t believe it.”

“Well, believe it. You served notice.” She snaps her fingers and grins. “Neevah Saint is here.”

“Now to do it seven more times.” I laugh and start taking pins from the wig, which is as hot as a herd of sheep on my head.

“Oh, you got it, unless Elise hears how amazing you were and cuts her vacation short.”

“Not happening. She was ready for a break, but she’d never missed a show.”

I strip off the costume and stand in only panties, unselfconscious. Modesty is one of the first things to go in this business. I’ve undressed hurriedly in a roomful of actors and dancers in smaller shows where there was a dressing room, so we get real communal real fast.

I tug on skinny jeans with a tight-fitting orange sweater, and layer it with a brown leather jacket, scarf, boots. I wipe away the heavy stage makeup. It feels like my skin can breathe for the first time in hours. I assume there will be some fans at the stage door, even if it’s just a few. They’ll have to get the real Neevah because I don’t want anything more than a slick of lip gloss and a bit of mascara. A brown, orange and green plaid newsboy cap covering the neat cornrows I wore under my wig is all I’m doing for hair. Slim oversized gold hoops in my ears finish the look.

“Ready?” I ask Takira, hefting a slouchy bag on my shoulder.

“Let’s do this. Hopefully your adoring fans won’t take all night, ’cause your girl is starving.”

We’re still laughing, and I’m so preoccupied with my empty stomach, I’m completely unprepared for the crowd at the stage door. Are they here for John? For some principal player because surely they’re not all here for the understudy.

“Neevah!” a young girl, maybe ten or eleven, calls. “Can you sign this?”

She thrusts a pen and a Splendor playbill toward me. She glows, her smooth brown cheeks rounded with a wide grin. Her eyes shine with . . . pride?

“Oh, sure,” I mumble dazedly, taking the pen and signing my name.

She’s the first in a long line of girls, all shapes and colors and ages, saying what it meant to see me onstage tonight. Mothers whispering how impactful it was for their Black and brown daughters to be in the audience tonight. The impact is on me; what could feel like a weight or burden or responsibility feels like a warm embrace. Feels like strong arms encircling me.

Supporting me. The first time I saw someone who looked like me onstage, it planted a seed inside of me. It whispered a dream.

That could be you.

It makes me emotional to think I might have done that for any of these girls tonight, and I spend the next twenty minutes scribbling my name on playbills through a film of tears.

“Neevah!” a deep male voice calls from the back of the now-thinning crowd.

I squint at the tall man, frowning until I place him.

“Wright!” I take a few steps and he meets me halfway, giving me a tight hug. “Oh, my God.

You were here tonight?”

“Was I here?” When he pulls back, a warm smile creases his handsome face. “You blew it out of the water. I knew you were good, but damn.”

Laughter spills out of me and I don’t think this night could get more perfect. I randomly met

Wright Bellamy a few weeks back at a gig when he subbed for the pianist, giving the audience more than they bargained for with such a famous musician tickling the ivories that night.

“Thank you.” I step away and shove my hands into the pockets of my jeans, huddling in the leather jacket against the chill of an October night. “I was nervous as hell.”

“Didn’t show. Your voice is spectacular. I knew that from the gig we did, but I had no idea you were that good. Wow. Glad I saw your post on Instagram or I would’ve missed it.”

I’m stone-still, shocked that he came tonight specifically to see me perform. “I’m so glad you made it. You’re still in LA, right?”

“Yeah, but I’m here for some stuff. Heading back home in a few days.”

Takira walks up, linking her arm through mine. “Girl, if we don’t get some food,” she whispers.

“Oh, yeah. Sorry.” I turn back to Wright. “Takira, this is Wright Bellamy. Wright, my friend Takira.”

“Nice to meet you,” Takira says. “You got any food on you? I’m about to eat your hat.”

As usual, Takira never meets a stranger and has us laughing right away.

“We’re actually headed to Glass House Tavern,” I tell Wright. “Come if you want. It’s a group of us from the show. Just some of the cast celebrating, but you’re welcome. We can catch up.”

A small frown dents between his thick brows and he glances over his shoulder.

“I mean, no pressure obviously,” I rush to assure him. This is one of the biggest names in music, and here I go, inviting him to dinner with a group of strangers.

“No, it sounds cool,” he says, looking back to us. “Lemme check with my boy. Can he come?”

I glance over his shoulder and spot a tall man turned away from us, his broad shoulders and back straining a wool blazer, a hoodie pulled up to cover his head and face in the cold. His hands burrow into the pockets of his blazer and he’s nodding like he’s talking to himself.

“He’s on the phone,” Wright explains. “But lemme see if he wants to roll.”

He steps away toward the man and Takira immediately squeezes my hand and squeals.

“Shit, Neeve.” Her eyes are wide and bright. Mouth dropped open. “That’s Wright Bellamy.”

“I know. He’s cool as a fan.”

“You know him? How—”

“We’re in,” Wright says, stepping back up beside us. “He’s finishing a call, but we’re ready. Lead the way.”

It’s just a few blocks, and the three of us chat about the show and what Wright’s been doing in New York. All the while his friend’s deep voice rumbles a few paces behind. I don’t want to be rude or nosy and look back, but the rich timbre, his towering height, his face obscured by the hoodie—I’m intrigued. He hangs back on the sidewalk, still on his call, when we enter the restaurant.

Our friends already have a table and a shout goes up, congratulating me on popping my White Way cherry. My three understudy buddies came. John’s here, too, and one other principal. A few from the stage crew. Our little troupe has become a family and, as if eight shows a week isn’t enough time together, we gather and eat every chance we get.

“You’re not paying tonight,” John says, holding out the seat beside him. “And drinks are on me.”

“Awwww.” I plop into the chair and drop my bag to the floor. “You’re so sweet. You don’t have to do that.”

“You were fantastic,” John says, baby blue eyes sincere and smiling. “Let’s do it again tomorrow.”

Takira is already sitting beside me, so Wright takes the seat next to her.

“Hey,” he says to Janie across the table. “Could you hold that seat beside you for my friend? He’s wrapping up a call, but’ll be in soon.”

“Sure.” Janie blushes. “I love your work, by the way. The score of Silent Midnight . . . gah.”

“Thank you. That was a special project. Lots of fun,” Wright replies with a smile. “Now tell me about the show.”

Wright’s a genius, but he’s so unassuming and modest. A man as famous as he is could easily make this conversation about him, let everyone at this table give his ego a real nice hand job, but he doesn’t. He talks about our show, compliments the performance, asks

John about his process. I liked him when we did that last-minute gig, and we’ve interacted some on social media since. My impression of him holds up. He’s a good guy.

Not to state the obvious, but also fine. Like fine fine.

He has this Boris Kodjoe vibe. Real smooth. Kind of golden–brown. Clean-cut, close-cut. I can objectively recognize his appeal, even though he’s not my type.

Not that I have a type lately. I’m so deep in this dick drought I’m past the point of thirst.

At first I thought it was merely the grind. Auditioning constantly, taking craft classes, doing commercials and voiceover work to not just keep bills paid, but to save. This business is feast or famine. I’m eating now, but I’ve been hungry before. Not again. I’m thirty. Too old to

still be living gig to gig and buying into that starving artist thing. I need health insurance and regularly scheduled meals, thank you very much. So yeah, the grind could account for my semi-disinterested libido, but I suspect it’s more.

Maybe I’m disinterested.

I’ve always been guarded with men. I need a man who doesn’t think that because he has a dick and I don’t that I should defer to him—shrink my dreams down to a more manageable size.

I’m cautious not only about who I share my heart and body with, but I’m also protective of my dreams; of my ambition.

“What are you getting?” Takira asks, leaning over to read my menu instead of hers.

“Anything here meet your high standards?”

I roll my eyes. My standards aren’t that high. I’ve just cut out red meat and stopped drinking as much alcohol. My health demands it.

“I’m thinking about the salmon, but I—”

A chair scraping across the floor catches my attention. Wright’s friend has finally come inside to join us. The table shrinks immediately when he settles his imposing frame into the seat beside Janie. He peels the hood away from his head and I bite off a gasp.

It’s Canon Holt.

Like the Canon Holt.

The director I, and probably every actress at this table and in this dining room, would sacrifice a pinky toe to work with. Canon Holt is at my table sitting across from me.

Takira’s expression doesn’t register this massive earthquake of a revelation, but she kicks me under the table and hisses from the corner of her mouth. “Did you know?”

I pretend I need to reach for something on the floor so I can whisper back, “Do you think I would have kept my shit together this long if I knew?”

“True. True.” Takira casually glances up from her menu and smiles in Canon’s general direction, but he’s not looking at her. He’s studying his screen. He’s apparently in an exclusive relationship with his phone, and no one at this table tempts him to stray.

Which means I can look at him.

Good. God.

He’s not that handsome, but that’s irrelevant. Some might even call his features, examined on their own, unremarkable.

They’d be wrong.

It’s a Maker’s sleight of hand. Now God knew this man did not need lashes that long and thick, a paradox against the hard, high slant of his cheekbones. Canon hasn’t looked twice at anyone here as far as I can tell, but I’ve stolen enough glances to know there’s a fathomlessness to his dark eyes that is arresting. His unsmiling mouth is wide, the lips full in the blunt elegance of his face. A five o’clock shadow licks the ridge of his jawline. There is a geometry to him—angles, lines, edges—that disregards the individual parts and illuminates the compelling sum.

 

 

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Narrated by Eboni Flowers and Jakobi Diem

Featuring Nicole Small

Vocal Performance by April Christina

 

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About Kennedy Ryan

USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, Kennedy Ryan and her writings have been featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, Glamour, Cosmo, TIME, O Mag and many others. A RITA® Award winner, Kennedy writes empowered women from all walks of life and centers those who have found themselves perennially on the margins of traditional storytelling. 

 

Her Hoops Series (Long Shot, Block Shot and Hook Shot) and All the King’s Men Series (The Kingmaker, The Rebel King and Queen Move) have been optioned for television.

 

An autism mom, Kennedy co-founded LIFT 4 Autism, an annual charitable initiative, and has appeared on Headline News, Montel Williams, NPR and other media outlets as an advocate for autism families. She is a wife to her lifetime lover and mother to an extraordinary son.

 

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REDEMPTION ON RIVERS RANCH BY KATHY DOUGLASS

REDEMPTION ON RIVERS RANCH BY KATHY DOUGLASS

The return of his childhood friend leads to
the fresh start he never expected.


Horse rancher Carson Rivers has his own emotional demons. There’s no place in his life for a divorced single mom pulling at his heartstrings. But when Gabriella Tucker and her adorable children move next door—the place of her favorite childhood memories—Carson’s tempted to help the heart-guarded beauty make more adult memories. Maybe Gabriella and her kids are the healing balm he’s been yearning for…

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ABOUT KATHY DOUGLASS

Kathy is a born reader who as a child always had her nose in a book. She went from reading Bobbsey Twins to romance novels. One day she stumbled upon The Shining by Stephen King and was hooked on horror. When she caught herself checking under the bed and looking in the closet for monsters, she knew it was time to put down the horror and return to romance novels.

Her return was short-lived. She started law school and soon her reading was limited to legal opinions. Then she discovered Harlequin romances. They were short enough to read in a week and she wouldn’t have to search her room before she went to sleep.

When her first child was born, she became a stay at home mom. Her second child soon followed, and reading was limited to children’s books.

All too soon her kids were attending pre-school. Kathy spent those hours renewing her relationship with romance novels. Soon she felt the urge to write the stories she wanted to read. In 2016, Kathy sold to Harlequin. Her first book, How to Steal the Lawman’s Heart, was released in February, 2017. Since then, she has released several more books with Harlequin.

 
 
 

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When the Smoke Clears by C. Chilove

 

WHEN THE SMOKE CLEARS BY C. CHILOVE

Lieutenant Colonel Brenden Jasper lives a life of secrets, danger, and clandestine missions. As commander of the most elite Black Ops unit in the world, nothing is more important to him than protecting the country he loves. But there’s a reason only the toughest, battle-tested, alpha men can call themselves members of the Black 2131 brotherhood. None but those in the highest realms of government even know of its existence, and it’s Brenden’s job to avoid emotional entanglements so he can keep it that way. Dr. Paige Nichols has spent her life ruled by logic and reason, teaching and analyzing art history, so nothing could have prepared her for the completely overwhelming attraction-at-first-sight when she sets eyes on Brenden. Their chance encounter at a party opens her up to a tantalizing dark side she never knew she had—and leaves her wanting so much more. But a man with a dark side often comes with way too many secrets…ones that could put her life in danger. Though their chemistry burns hotter than ever, when danger comes knocking on Paige’s door, Brenden will have to walk a fine line between duty, honor, and love.

 

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EXCERPT

“Are you done hiding from me?” The smooth tenor jumpstarted her heart. 

Paige whipped around to see Brenden leaning in the door frame. A smile curved his lips as she struggled through heavy breaths. “Hi… Hiding from you?” She gulped down a mixture of fear and excitement as butterflies began dancing in her stomach. She wasn’t sure if she wanted them to stop because at least the fluttery feeling confirmed she wasn’t dreaming.

He slid his hands into his pockets while his eyes intently scanned her face as if he were committing every inch to memory. “You didn’t give me a chance to tell you Happy New Year.”

A flush crept along her neck before stinging her cheeks. She peeked up, afraid of how the energy in her body was responding to Brenden. “Ditto,” she muttered. “Happy New Year! I guess chivalry does exist.”

He shrugged and began moving towards her. Face to face, he looked upon her, again studying her like a work of art. “Not sure if the thoughts I’m having of you would be deemed chivalrous, Paige.”

She felt her mouth form a little “o” while her heartbeat triple timed. The sincerity etched across Brenden’s face and the want laced within his husky voice began casting a spell, unraveling inhibitions she’d clung to for fear of failure or rejection. 

“Why are you here by yourself?” He shifted his gaze beyond her to the ocean before taking a few steps to claim the space at the balcony rail.

“I could ask you the same,” she replied before returning to her place along the rail that was now a few feet from the sexiest man alive. 

“True, but I suppose neither of us wants to share what we’d rather forget.”

Paige nodded. How did he know? She’d been trying to forget for the last twenty years. And now, seeing the sliver of tension twitch at Brenden’s jaw, it made her curious to learn what he wanted to forget.

“Forget?” she asked out loud, and not on purpose.

He faced her. Sweet Jesus, the man’s eyes could read a girl’s soul and betray her most private thoughts. “Don’t you want to?” 

Something in him whispered to her deepest, darkest desires. Her body slowly began overriding her mind. “How?” she asked, desperate for her next breath. She then swallowed an inhale and reached up, pushing strands of his tousled hair from his face. 

Brenden stepped in, closing the distance between them. He looked down into her eyes, lowered his head, and brushed his lips across hers. His fingers threaded the strands of her hair before he tilted her neck and pressed his lips to her bouncing pulse. 

Her breaths became more unpredictable, fueling the sharpening ache between her legs that halted rational contemplation. Mind versus body. Never before had she been uncertain of which would win.

Another stuttering breath escaped her lips, and her eyes closed as Brenden’s teeth sank into her skin. “Mmmm…feels good.” 

“Tastes good.” His body pressed harder against hers. “And now you know my most indecent thoughts.”

 

 

 
 

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ABOUT C. CHILOVE

C. Chilove is the current Secretary for Romance Writers of America (RWA) and past President of CIMRWA. She is a southern girl writing sexy, thought-provoking romance that explores the human condition while proving love transcends societal clichés. Her characters are strong, witty, and prove that diversity is beautiful. When she’s not writing, she’s living out her personal happily-ever-after by rockin’ the stands for her Volleyball star, cheering on her future MLB slugger, or celebrating date night with her hubby.

 

 

 
 

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Consequences of Passion by Yahrah St. John

CONSEQUENCES OF PASSION BY YAHRAH ST. JOHN

She promised herself just one night of passion with her best friend’s brother, but what happens next? Find out in this explosive launch to the Locketts of Tuxedo Park series from Yahrah St. John!

When a winning bachelor bid leads to unexpected consequences…

Psychologist Shantel Wilson surprises herself by attending a bachelor auction as a favor to her friend—and bidding on his older brother! The outcome of her steamy night with Roman Lockett, heir apparent to an Atlanta football dynasty? She’s expecting. Now Roman wants to claim her—and his child—yet Shantel needs more than a marriage of convenience from this man who put passion in her playbook…

From Harlequin Desire: Luxury, scandal, desire—welcome to the lives of the American elite.

Love triumphs in this uplifting romance, part of the new Locketts of Tuxedo Park series.

 

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EXCERPT

Roman Lockett was bored already.

Why had he let his sister, Giana, convince him to attend this bachelor auction benefitting a cure for multiple sclerosis on a Saturday night? Because as the baby girl of the family, anytime she looked at him with those big brown eyes of hers, he was helpless to resist.

Roman’s mind, however, was still on the tense meeting he’d had yesterday. As chief operating officer and director of player personnel of the Atlanta Cougars football franchise, it was Roman’s job to handle all major player contract concerns. And securing DeMarius Johnson, the team’s star quarterback, was high on not only his list but his father, Josiah Lockett’s, the Atlanta Cougars owner and general manager.

Because of his impending fee agency, negotiations with DeMarius had dragged on for months. His father thought Roman incapable of finishing the deal, but Roman had come to the table prepared for battle. They’d had to void the final two years of DeMarius’s contract, allowing the Cougars to resign him while maintaining the league’s salary cap. It had been risky because it was already late January. However, Roman had known allowing him to become a free agent would be problematic and so he’d adapted the contract based on market factors.

Roman hoped his father would be proud of the win under his belt. He had been on a success streak in recent years with the talent he’d brought to the Cougars team. As a result, they were ranked fifth in the league and Roman had played a big role in that. Yet despite all his successes, his father never gave him his due. Because Roman was the oldest, Josiah Lockett was harder on him than on his younger siblings, Julian, Giana and Xavier.

He stood on the outer fringes of the vast oval-shaped ballroom with crystal chandeliers and white drapery and surveyed the elegantly dressed men and women. He caught a glimpse of Giana making the rounds to get everyone psyched up for the evening. She wore a one-shouldered canary yellow gown with a stunning diamond necklace. Her jet-black hair had been artfully cut shoulder-length with bangs. It was a different look for her, but she wore it well. Meanwhile, most of the men were shamelessly flirting in the hopes women would bid outrageously on them. Roman, however, didn’t need to work the room.

He was Roman Lockett and every woman in Atlanta knew he was heir apparent to the Atlanta Cougars franchise. And if they seemed not to, they were faking it. His parents had been a major presence in the community for three decades. He’d already been approached by several beautiful women who’d made blatant attempts at seduction, and when that didn’t work, they’d resorted to pouting or affected hurt, all in an effort to gain his attention. But tonight, none of them held any appeal.

Roman had no idea how he was going to make it through the rest of the night. Let alone a date with one of these insipid women. Until he saw her.

A caramel-skinned beauty in a blush-colored gown with spaghetti straps. It wasn’t as elaborate as some of the confections he’d seen other women in tonight, showing off their God-given assets. Instead, it might be considered modest. Then she spun away and Roman saw the dress plunged to a curvy bottom, leaving her back bare save for a skinny piece of fabric holding the straps together.

For the first time tonight, Roman was intrigued. She looked oddly familiar, but he couldn’t place her. Who is she? He had to know. He began wandering across the ballroom toward her, but was stopped by another bevy of beauties. When he finally managed to extricate himself from their clutches, Roman couldn’t find her.

His nose flared. She might be the woman he wouldn’t mind spending time with at the end of the evening. He prayed she would come back because only she could transform this night from being an abysmal failure.

Shantel Wilson was impressed with the image she presented. With her job as a psychiatrist she didn’t often get a chance to dress up for a fancy night out on the town. Her best friend, Julian Lockett, had begged her to come and bid on him at the bachelor auction so he didn’t take home some unsuspecting female.

“C’mon,” Julian had cajoled. “I need your help. After that unflattering article about my dating life, my mother is furious with me. She warned me she wouldn’t tolerate any more shenanigans and I agreed to keep a low pro- file. If you attend, she’ll know I’m keeping my promise.”

“I don’t have anything to wear to something that fancy.” Shantel had used any excuse she could to get out of the event. Her wardrobe was comprised of slacks, silk blouses and the occasional skirt.

“Don’t worry about that. I know some fancy boutiques in Buckhead.”

Shantel had rolled her eyes. “I’m not one of your girls, Julian. I can buy my own clothes.”

“I know that, but trust me, it will help make you feel more comfortable hob knobbing with the upper crust if you’re in a killer dress.”

Famous last words, Shantel thought.

And so she’d gone to the high-end boutique Julian suggested and hadn’t been disappointed. The sales women had been eager to help, especially when she mentioned she was attending the Lockett charity gala. They’d shown her dresses in all shapes and price tags in the hopes she’d choose the most exorbitant one. Instead, she’d opted for a simple blush dress in silk chiffon, which she could afford with her salary from the practice.

Shantel liked the way it hugged her slender curves, and with the built-in bra, she’d been able to forgo a bra thanks to her barely B-cup-size breasts. The sales clerk insisted she needed lingerie, four-inch stilettos to boost her five-four height and a clutch to finish her look. In the end, Shantel purchased the entire ensemble. Tonight she felt like Cinderella, except she wouldn’t be losing her slipper. The shoes alone cost eight hundred dollars.

She was perusing the room when her eyes caught sight of Roman Lockett. The eldest brother of the Lockett clan was tall with a commanding presence. He wore what was no doubt a custom-fit tuxedo like a suit of armor. A veneer of power clung to his athletic frame. To Shantel he was like no other man she’d ever encountered, but Roman never paid any attention to her on the few occasions she’d been in his presence.

Tonight he was clearly bored with his surroundings if the jaded expression on his face was anything to go by. Had he been coerced into attending tonight’s event? And where was Julian, anyway? He’d begged her to come tonight and bid on him, but he was nowhere to be found.

Her idea of a fun Saturday night was a hot bath, a glass of wine and streaming a Netflix movie, but when Julian had pleaded with her, she’d been powerless to resist. Ever since they met at a college party ten years ago, their friendship had been grounded in love and affection. Julian had been attending Morehouse while she’d been at Spelman. Their friendship endured her mother’s suicide and Julian’s many love affairs, but that didn’t mean he didn’t vex her.

Shantel stepped out of the ballroom, pulled her phone from her clutch and texted Julian.

Where are you?

She waited and saw three dots on her iPhone indicating he was typing a message, but then the text bubble went away. She was certain Julian had read her message, so why wasn’t he responding? There was no way she would have come tonight if it wasn’t for him. Large social gatherings weren’t really her thing. She thrived in one-on-one interactions. She supposed it was why she was so good at her job.

Having been raised on the farm and being a nerd, she’d always been socially awkward. College had been eye-opening for a simple country girl like Shantel. She’d been raised in a town where everyone knew each other, but in college she hadn’t understood the rules or the games people played. Sometimes Shantel wondered if she’d made the right choice and whether she’d ever find a man who truly got her.

She was so deep in thought, Shantel didn’t realize she had company until she looked upward and found Roman’s ebony eyes trained on her.

 
 
 

ABOUT YAHRAH ST. JOHN

Yahrah St. John became a writer at the age of twelve when she wrote her first novella after secretly reading a Harlequin romance. Throughout her teens, she penned a total of twenty novellas. Her love of the craft continued into adulthood. She’s the proud author of thirty-nine books with Arabesque, Kimani Romance and Harlequin Desire as well as her own indie works.  

When she’s not at home crafting one of her spicy romances with compelling heroes and feisty heroines with a dash of family drama, she is gourmet cooking or traveling the globe seeking out her next adventure. For more info: www.yahrahstjohn.com or find her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Bookbub or Goodreads.

 
 
 

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Renovation of Love by Meka James

RENOVATION OF LOVE BY MEKA JAMES

Renovating the physical is easy, but fixing love requires a different set of tools…

Her return could be a second chance to repair a first love.

Forty-three and jobless, Cynthia Marshall finds herself in the last place she’d expected, back home on Madison Island, GA. Her small hometown holds the ghosts of choices past. From the large Victorian she inherited from her beloved aunt, to unresolved family issues, and the boy turned man she left behind over two decades ago.

Starting a new career is hard enough but having to do so side by side with a person whose heart she broke is something she never accounted for.

Marcel Lewis is the owner of the only construction company on the island and is the key to making Cynthia’s new dream a reality. He never quite got over the abrupt departure of the first woman he ever loved. Her return means he can finally get answers to the whys and what-ifs that have plagued him.

Years have passed, feelings have remained, but some wounds have yet to heal. The more time they spend together, the walls of the old house aren’t the only ones tumbling down. But they can’t construct a future without answering for decisions of the past.

 

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ABOUT MEKA JAMES

Meka James is a writer of adult contemporary and erotic romance. A born and raised Georgia Peach, she still resides in the southern state with her hubby of 16 years and counting. Mom to four kids of the two legged variety, she also has four fur-babies of the canine variety. Leo the turtle and Spade the snake rounds out her wacky household. When not writing or reading, Meka can be found playing The Sims 3, sometimes Sims 4, and making up fun stories to go with the pixelated people whose world she controls.

 
 
 

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Almost Out of Time by L.M. Richardson

From the author of the Ruby Quinn Series, and A Double Play Summer comes Almost Out of Time.

When the very thing Oakley has run from all her life threatens it, she is confronted with facing HIV/AIDS head-on or continue to deny reality. Choosing life is far more complicated than she expects.

Realizing the quote-unquote normal life she has been chasing does not exist, Oakley comes to terms with the circumstances surrounding her existence. A story of triumph, overcoming, and awakening, Almost Out of Time will leave you cheering and rooting for Oakley to live, prosper, and finally find love and peace.

 

AVAILABLE ON

AMAZON | PRINT

 

ENTER TO WIN

L.M. Richardson is giving away three copies of Almost Out of Time on her Instagram page!

To Enter the Almost Out of Time Giveaway
1. Like l.m. richardson’s Instagram page (@larichmediagroup)
2. Like the Almost Out of Time giveaway post
3. Comment on the Almost Out of Time giveaway post

For an additional entry tag a friend who enjoys reading.

 

ABOUT L. M. RICHARDSON

As far back as she can remember, L.M. Richardson has wanted to be a writer. Her start came with a sixth-grade writing contest. Children’s books have always been her favorite genre, and recently found her place in Young Adult and New Adult Fiction. Richardson’s aim is to create books where young black women can see themselves and be proud of who they are.

Richardson is a wife, mother, and grandmother who enjoys spending time with her large family, relaxing on her patio, and cooking. She’s a college instructor at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, her alma mater, and has a MA in Journalism.

 

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Waking Up Married by Reese Ryan

WAKING UP MARRIED BY REESE RYAN

 

Will these friends’ temporary Vegas marriage lead to forever? Find out in this Bourbon Brothers novel from Reese Ryan!

What’s wrong with a little fake marriage between friends?

Their night on the town is a blank, but when Zora Abbott and Dallas Hamilton awaken in a Vegas hotel room, they’re man and wife. With news of the nuptials spreading virally, the high-profile best friends decide to stay married, temporarily. Maybe under the cover of marriage, Dallas can even make his best friend’s baby dream come true. But can their friendship survive their newly unleashed passions?

 

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ABOUT REESE RYAN

Reese Ryan writes sexy, emotional romance with captivating family drama, surprising secrets, and a posse of complex, flawed characters. A Midwesterner with deep Southern roots, Reese currently resides in semi-small-town North Carolina where she’s an avid reader, a music junkie, and a self-declared connoisseur of cheesy grits.

 
 

A Double Play Summer by L.M. Richardson

A DOUBLE PLAY SUMMER BY L.M. RICHARDSON

What starts as the best summer ever, quickly turns into a foul play. D.J. has to give up her bedroom, and the most important softball tournament of her short career, for Gran. Without D.J. the team isn’t confident they’ll be able to make it past the Summer Softball Showdown for a shot at Nationals. Being at Gran’s turns out to be more rewarding than D.J. could have imagined. Unexpectedly, Gran becomes her biggest advocate and cheerleader.

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EXCERPT

CHAPTER 1  

            Eight is her number 

            McKinley is her name 

            Yes, she is the reason  

            We’re gonna win this game.  

            The dugout is cheering and going crazy. The bases are loaded and Big Mac is up to bat. Although she’s skinny, she got the nickname because she’s a finisher. Known for being a clutch player, sending balls deep into center field. McKinley’s hit the scoreboard at least five times this season and has knocked the ball over the fence at least six times. Someone from the stands once hollered Big Mac, and the name stuck.  

            It’s a full count with two strikes, three balls at the bottom of the seventh inning, and we’re down by two. If Big Mac lives up to her reputation, she’ll bring us all home, and we’ll win the game.  

             “Stay calm and focus,” Coach Todd yelled from the coach’s box. 

            The pitcher throws the ball, and crack! Big Mac sends the ball deep into center field right over the fence. Our dugout goes wild and they all run to home plate to welcome us in chanting: 

            Come home  

            Come home 

            We miss you  

            We miss you 

            Come home  

            Come home  

            “That’s the ball game!” The umpire yells.  

            It’s shaping up to be the best summer ever! I’m playing my dream position and our team chemistry is the best it’s ever been. Most of us have played together since twelve and under softball and we’re genuine friends. Coach says you can’t buy the kind of chemistry we’ve developed over the years.  

            I’ll dream about this game for months to come. I had four runs, made four outs, and almost a double play. Jade, my best friend and our first baseman, dropped the ball. But we’re working on making that play work. By the big tournament, we should have mastered it. We’re practicing, but game situations always come out different. 

            On the drive home, I gave a recap of the highlights to my family. They could barely get a word in. Mama finally said, “When we get home, we need to talk.”  

*** 

                “Are you kidding me?” I said, dropping into a chair at the kitchen table. “But it’s a big tournament for our team. Ma, it’s a big tournament for me!” 

            “There will be more tournaments this summer and the next. There is more to life than playing softball. Gran’s house is too much for her to take care of by herself, and her health has not been the best lately. She needs our help and we are going to give it to her. Our family is important and it comes first above everything else.” 

            “What about Uncle Jaxon or Auntie Liv and their families? Can’t they do it, or at least help? Why do we have to do it?”  

            “I can’t count on either of them right now. Your dad and I have discussed it and our decision is final.” 

            “And you never considered how your decision would impact me, or even how I’d feel about it? I’ve worked hard, really hard over, the last year to get better. And now that I’ve finally secured my position as shortstop, you’re snatching the rug from under me. I’m not saying I don’t want to help Gran, but can we do it after my tournament?” 

            “Don’t be so dramatic, Daisy. We’re all making sacrifices. And, I need you to move your things into your brother’s room before we leave. When we return, I want the room to be ready for your Gran.” 

            “D.J., Ma. Will you please call me D.J. all the time?” 

            From where I sit, it looks like I’m the only one making sacrifices around here. Gran is coming to live with all of us, but I’m having to give up my room and miss a crucial tournament. Other than my parents’ bedroom, mine is the next largest, with an ensuite bathroom. Daddy says he wants Gran to have her privacy.  

            I have to move in with J.P., my nine-year-old brother. His room smells like old cheese, he farts in his sleep, and still has an imaginary friend. I’d be better off sleeping in a closet. Since I’m a girl, my older brother, J.R. and J.P. should share a room. My parents wouldn’t even entertain the thought. So, I’m stuck.  

            Like I said before, I’m missing a crucial softball tournament. Mama thinks it’s just another tournament in a summer of tournaments. It’s so much more. I’ve worked my butt off to move from outfield to shortstop. I’ve practiced all year long, including during the off-season. I’ve always wanted to play shortstop since I first started playing when I was nine years old. Daddy took me to see a college softball game. Kattie Pierre was the shortstop. She was ridiculously good, catching balls and tagging runners between first and second base. Kattie stopped a ground ball, tagged second base, slung it to first, making a double play. From that day, I set my sights on playing shortstop just like her.  

            My coaches have always put me in the outfield because of my speed. Finally, Coach Todd gave me a chance to play in-field. So far this season, I’ve led our team in runs and outs. I haven’t made a double-play yet, but I’m looking forward to that day. I don’t want to let our team down.  

            This upcoming tournament is a game-changer for all of us. It’s the Super Summer Classic Showdown in Chicago. The top two teams are guaranteed a bid to the Midwest Nationals in Chicago. Coach Todd says we have a good shot. Playing on that level is the kind of opportunity softball players only get in their dreams. And it can open doors that high school leagues can’t. There will be college coaches from all over the U.S. looking for their next standout player. Although Kattie Pierre hasn’t played for years, she still attends.   

            When we return to practice tomorrow, I will have to tell my teammates and coach, that I won’t be going with them to the big tournament, and their shot at Nationals is basically in the hands of Mya.

ENTER TO WIN

a signed copy of A Double Play Summer!

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ABOUT L.M. RICHARDSON

As far back as she can remember, L.M. Richardson has wanted to be a writer. Her start came with a sixth-grade writing contest.Children’s books have always been her favorite of all other genres. Writing for children has always been her passion. Her aim is to create books where black young women can see themselves and be proud of who they are.Richardson is a wife, mother, and grandmother who enjoys spending time with her large family, relaxing on her patio, and cooking. She’s a college instructor at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, her Alma Mater, and has a MA in Journalism.

CONNECT WITH L.M. RICHARDSON

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COVER REVEAL: UNTIL NOW by DELANEY DIAMOND

When I saw this cover, one song immediately came to mind:

Who dat is? Thas just my baby daddy..

SYNOPSIS

Shanice Lawrence has met the perfect man. He’s sexy, considerate, and best of all, he loves to read. She’s certain she’s found the man of her dreams—until she learns the truth about the real reason for his appearance in her life.

Cruz Cordoba’s mission was simple: get close to Shanice, retrieve the data, and kill anyone who gets in his way—including her. He didn’t anticipate, however, falling for the voluptuous bookstore clerk. Now, he has to decide what’s more important—the mission or the woman.

PREORDER LINKS

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08K87RMV2

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08K87RMV2

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B08K87RMV2

Apple: Coming soon

BN: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/until-now-delaney-diamond/1137767860?ean=2940162962991

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/until-now-14

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Delaney_Diamond_Until_Now?id=ppb_DwAAQBAJ

ONLINE LINKS

Website: https://www.delaneydiamond.com/

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

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authordelaneydiamond

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DelaneyDiamond

Scandalous Secrets by Synithia Williams

SCANDALOUS SECRETS BY SYNITHIA WILLIAMS

Can they do what’s right…without betraying their hearts?

Senatorial candidate Byron Robidoux always does the right thing. And, after years of focus and dedication, his life and campaign are going exactly to plan—until a blackmailer jeopardizes everything. No one is supposed to know that thirteen years ago, Byron told a lie to protect a college friend. And now that lie could destroy his career…and threaten the woman he never stopped loving.

Zoe Hammond hardly recognizes the refined and handsome politician Byron has become. The last time she saw him, he was the friend who saved her life by claiming to be the father of her unborn baby. For that, she’d do anything for him. Except Byron’s world of wealth, reputation and deceit isn’t a place where Zoe or her daughter belong. But when a menace from the past comes calling again, staying with Byron is best for them all. And, as the searing attraction between them builds, they soon realize some things are worth fighting for…especially love.

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signed copy of Scandalous Secrets

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ABOUT SYNITHIA WILLIAMS

Synithia Williams has loved romance novels since reading her first one at the age of 13. It was only natural that she would one day write her own romance. When she isn’t writing, Synithia works on water quality issues in the Midlands of South Carolina while taking care of her supportive husband and two sons. You can learn more about Synithia by visiting her website, www.synithiawilliams.com.