UNVEILED BY LA RHONDA CROSBY-JOHNSON

Truth and love can change everything.

New Orleans attorney, L. Morgan Franklin, finds her well-ordered life turned upside down when her younger half-brother, Winston, dies in their small hometown of L’Ouverture, Louisiana. When it becomes evident that Winston’s death may actually be a murder, Morgan begins a search for answers that uncovers long-held family secrets and new discoveries about the people she loves the most. The mysteries of family, life and love all converge in this story of one woman’s refusal to accept things as they appear.

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EXCERPT

Grief and the sickeningly sweet smell of too many flowers hung heavy in the warm air of the late August afternoon. Morgan felt the weight of tears shed and hearts breaking. She rubbed her hands down her black silk suit when she walked slowly toward the simple wooden coffin that held the body of her beloved baby brother, Winston. “Half-brother.” She could almost imagine her mother, Marie, standing in front of her and uttering the world “half” as if it were some sort of disease. Morgan breathed deeply and pushed Marie’s words from her mind as she exhaled. They had no place here.

Winston’s mask-like, powered face somehow belied the words “heart attack” that still echoed in her head. Morgan stepped away from the coffin and quickly brushed away her tears. She fled the church and barely heard the words of comfort tossed her way. Outside there would be air she could breathe without inhaling the pain of mourners.

Morgan moved quickly once outside. Her legs felt somehow lighter than they had only moments before. She breathed deeply for the first time since she had received the news of Winston’s death a week ago and headed for the sanctuary of her car. The tinkling melody of the car alarm signaled her safe haven. She slid onto the butter-soft, caramel-colored leather seat and found comfort in its warmth. She cranked up the car, pushed the button to lower the windows and turned on the CD player. The soulful sound of Jill Scott’s voice surrounded her as she watched the family file out of the church and head toward limousines with the words Garrett Bros. painted in gold across the rear doors and windows. Of course, it would be Garrett Bros. They were still the only mortuary in town that “knew how to do colored.” Morgan had heard her maternal grandmother, Essie Baptiste, say that many times while she was growing up. Mama Essie, as everyone lovingly called her, had made everyone in the family vow to take her body to Garrett Bros. when her time came. Although it had been three years since Mama Essie passed, Morgan still felt her presence in this place. This thought alone eased the tension in her neck and removed the large knot that had taken up residence in the pit of her stomach.

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ABOUT LA RHONDA CROSBY-JOHNSON

La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson is a proud native of Oakland, CA. She is a contributor to the award-winning Life’s Spices From Seasoned Sistahs anthology series, Go Tell Michelle: African American Women Write To The New First Lady, All The Women In My Family Sing and is the author of an ebook serial novel Jubilee’s Journey. Unveiled, released in July 2019 and described as a “page turner” is her first full-length novel. La Rhonda is currently working on her next book.

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NEW RELEASE: F*CK PERFECT by DANYELL A. WALLACE

 

F*CK PERFECT BY DANYELL A. WALLACE

Ava is the sweetest, f*ckin’, most forbidden fruit that I should’ve never tasted yet the only one who seems to hear my silent cry for help. I warned her that she should turn away and run in the other f*ckin’ direction, but she stayed and decided to love me instead. Flaws and all.

I have secrets. Who doesn’t? But the ones I have are caged for a reason and if released could send me straight to hell, along with the love of my life—because I refuse to let her go.

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EXCERPT

Prologue

Bryce

Manwhore…womanizer…walking STD…These are only a few of the many insulting words that I’ve been labeled —all because of my love for pussy, more pussy, all the pussy. I love the way it smells, tastes, and looks, but most importantly, the way it wraps around my dick, all snuggly and shit, when I’m buried deep inside of it. My therapist believes I’m a sex addict. Shrug. Maybe I am, but if you ask me, I’m just misunderstood. Now, I agree that I have a fucked-up past when it comes to my sex life. Trust me, I’ve learned from it, though. That’s what life is all about, right? Making mistakes and hopefully, just maybe, you’ll learn from them. My past fuck-ups have steered me into a lifestyle of celibacy. Don’t believe me? You should meet my two new best friends, a jar of coconut oil and my right hand.

I shove my hands into the pockets of my slacks and look around the tent at the many guests that showed up for Kennedy’s graduation party. My eyes glide over familiar, and a few unfamiliar, faces, in search of my date. Yes, you heard right. Date. If it weren’t for my lovely twin sister Morgan, I would’ve come solo. Especially since the one she set me up with is Helena, a cute, petite blonde with a nice set of tits that I’ve actually titty-fucked a couple of times in my unsavory past. I guess my sister didn’t get the memo that you don’t hook your brother up with someone who gives blowjobs like it’s a fuckin’ hobby. It’s bad for a supposed sex addict like me. But my sister insisted I get out, have fun, and stop moping after a woman that I’ll probably never have again.

Never say never. 

I look down at my watch, wondering where the hell my appointed date is. She told me that she needed to use the bathroom, but that was almost—thirty minutes ago? Damn, maybe she got lost. She isn’t the brightest bulb in the box. My eyes continue searching. Morgan and her new fiancé Tyler, Kennedy, my mom, Aunt Betty, Ava, Hunter…Ava?!? My eyes rewind back to the sight of Ava standing there in a tight, black, strapless dress with a neckline that draws all of your attention to her tits. Her long, black, naturally curly hair, blended with reddish-brown highlights, is pulled up in a bun with some curly strands feathering around her face and neck. Damn, she’s a fuckin’ goddess.

Me Bryce, you Ava. I become all Tarzan, inwardly beating my chest. Like a mad man on a mission, I make several long strides across the makeshift dance floor. Ava doesn’t see me stalking toward her because her backside is facing me. My eyes journey from the top of her head down to her delectable ass. Fuck! My dick roars to life.

“Hey, Bryce,” a very out-of-breath Hunter greets me as soon as I breeze past him and his date Michael dancing the Lambada. I don’t acknowledge him or anyone else around me and let my mind and body gravitate toward Ava.

I can feel her flinch as soon as my body presses against hers from behind. I wrap my right arm around her waist then place my hand flat against her stomach, bringing her back to mold against my body. I can feel her heart beating through her back and the rapid movement of her stomach against my palm. When I bring my lips to her ear, a shiver courses through her body. Her back curves, drawing my growing erection to nestle against luscious ass. “You’re here. I thought you had to work late,” I softly moan and brush my lips alongside her earlobe.

Ava slowly pivots around to face me, and damn, she’s even more beautiful up close and personal. My eyes drop down to her plump lips painted in a deep shade of red then they glide back up to a set of hooded, hazel eyes surrounded by dark, elongated lashes.

I lick my lips then clear my throat of the dryness building in my mouth. Shit, why do I feel like an inexperienced, hormonal teenage boy all of a sudden?

Ava steps forward, closing the mere inches she created between us when she turned around to face me. “Yes, I’m here.” Her lips creep into a slow, sexy smile. “I would’ve been here earlier,” her hands reach up to fix the collar of my button-down, “but I really needed to stay and make sure I had all the files needed for court tomorrow. I still can’t believe my dad is letting me sit in on this case.” She smiles and it brightens up my whole fuckin’ world. “After I left work, I went home, got dressed, and came here to be your date.” Her hands slide down to rest on my pecs.

I gently palm her face, instantly loving the way her lips part slightly. I lower my head, inhaling the hitch of breath that escapes her mouth. I want to kiss her so fuckin’ bad that I couldn’t care less that there are watchful eyes around us or that my date could return any second now and fuck this entire moment up. My dick throws a tantrum behind the seams of my zipper, and I can’t blame him because all it wants to do is come out to play with Ava’s mouth and sweet, tight pussy. By the grace of God and pure fuckin’ patience, I tap down the feral beast inside of me that wants to devour Ava, inch by inch, and declare her mine forever and ever.

“Oh, Bryce, there you are. I must’ve gotten lost.” I hear Helena giggling behind me then she comes into view on my left, looking high as a kite and weaving side-to-side that she has to brace my arm for support. Fuck! “I hope I didn’t keep you waiting too—“

Several gasps fill the tent at the sight of my date (Thanks,Morgan) who spews chunks of God-knows-what all over the front of Ava’s dress.

“Oops,” she has the fuckin’ nerve to laugh. “I’m so sorry.” Her pale skin turns a shade of green. “Bryce, I don’t feel so good.” Helena weaves my way then projects more vomit. I hop back in time for it not to get me.

I look up to see the only woman who’s ever held the key to my heart, my saving grace, flail her arms out to shake Helena’s vomit from her skin in disgust.

Fuck, can my night get any worse?

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ABOUT DANYELL A. WALLACE

Danyell A. Wallace was born in Alaska and is currently living in Alabama. She’s a mom to three awesome kids, and a wife to an incredibly supportive husband. When shes not using her imagination to write very adult, very sexy books, shes reading, spending time with family and friends, watching football, and catching up on TV shows that she has saved on the DVR.

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Blog Tour: A Reunion of Rivals by Reese Ryan

A REUNION OF RIVALS BY REESE RYAN

Sparks in the boardroom
and the bedroom…

She can’t let anything derail her passion project,
Not even a second chance with the sexiest man alive…

The deal that could bring Quinn Bazemore’s career back from the brink has one catch: she must partner up with her ex-lover Max Abbott. Quinn can’t forget the pleasure-filled summer they shared. But now she’s butting heads over business strategy with the mouthwatering marketing VP, even as their reawakened desire threatens to expose her deepest secrets…

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EXCERPT

As soon as the door closed behind his sister, Quinn turned to him and scowled. “Why would you give everyone the impression something is going on between us?”

He tried not to take her words personally, but damn if it didn’t feel like she’d kicked him in the teeth wearing a pair of steel toe boots.

There was a time when her greatest desire had been for them to go out on a proper date and let the world see them together. Rather than sneaking around and hooking up in his shabby little loft over the barn or in the bed of his truck, parked beneath the stars.

Heat stung his cheeks as he jammed his hands into his pockets. “They probably assume I want to talk about the project or catch up with an old friend.”

He pretended not to notice the way she pressed her lips together and furrowed her brows when he referred to them as friends.

Damn. Is there a draft in here?

The chilly vibe coming from his ex was all too real.

“And I really would love to catch up at some point. But first, I need to tell you just how sorry I am.”

“No.” She shook her head, her tousled beach waves swinging gently.

He curled the fingers still shoved into his pockets into tight fists. Max couldn’t help remembering how he’d sifted the soft strands through his fingers as she had lain in his arms. And the dreamy way she’d gazed up at him after they’d made love.

There was nothing remotely romantic about the frosty look Quinn cast in his direction from beneath her long, thick eyelashes.

“No, you won’t allow me to apologize to you, or no, you’re not willing to accept my sincere apology?” He sat on the edge of the conference table.

“Both.” Quinn folded her arms, her expression neutral. Despite the iciness that slid over his skin in response to her answer, her tone and expression betrayed no anger. “A—I don’t want your apology. B—There’s no need for it.”

Heat spanned his forehead. Max had imagined having this conversation with Quinn dozens of times. He’d envisioned anger, forgiveness and lots of incredibly hot makeup sex. What he hadn’t foreseen was Quinn standing here calm, callous and completely out of fucks to give.

Not that he didn’t deserve it.

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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.

 

Blog Tour: Deep In My Soul by Aja

DEEP IN MY SOUL BY AJA

Zena Lewis believed in fairy tales as a little girl. She carried those fantasies of a knight in shining armor loving her until eternity, until her ugly separation and divorce from her ex. These days, a man would have to be lucky to get her to smile back at him, let alone give up her number.

Until Rafael Dupré.

Rafael was different.

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Aja’s Soulmates series, which features Deep In My Soul, is all about caring about yourself – mind body & soul. It’s because of that, she’s excited about giving away a few goodies to help you care for yourself during these challenging times.

Enter to win one of these three prizes.

  • $25 Bath & Body Works gift card

  • Bath & Body Works scented candle

  • A From Your Soul Journal

Please click below to see contest rules and enter to win.

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ABOUT AJA

Aja is the writer of passionate women’s fiction. Her stories allow readers to experience realistic, inspiring and soulful interactions and intense passion while overcoming life’s challenges. She is inspired by soulful music and sensual art to craft her stories. Her published works include the Love & Passion & Love & Redemption series. Her new Soulmates series features heroines who are enigmatic, intuitive and soulful. She’s Got Soul released the fall of 2019 and Deep In My Soul is available for pre-order now.

Book Tour: Basketball & Ballet by Suzette D. Harrison

BASKETBALL & BALLET BY SUZETTE D. HARRISON

When the dance and the game are done, is there room for love?

Yazmeen Williams is a busy woman. The former professional dancer is a Church Administrative Assistant by day and the mother of three-year old twin boys, always. What she isn’t, is interested in love thanks to a monster of an ex-husband who’s a danger to the well-being of her children. When retired NBA player Tavares Alvarez enters her life looking “utterly orgasmic,” that disinterest is severely challenged as is her hold on celibacy. But he’ll need to gain her trust, or her phone number first. With Yazmeen, neither will come easily.

Tavares has had zero relationships, but more than his share of women. Now that he’s born-again, he’s no longer focused on the opposite sex. His attention is devoted to his five-year old daughter and being a venture capitalist. Meeting Yazmeen proves a delicious disruption. The attraction is instant, but clearly she’s disinterested. Tavares will need to work to secure her affection despite the drama caused by his unhinged “Baby Mama.”

Dive into this faith-filled, but sexy romance that will leave you rooting for Yazmeen and Tavares, laughing at their antics, and gasping at the actions of their questionably sane exes.

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ABOUT SUZETTE D. HARRISON

Suzette D. Harrison, a native Californian and the middle of three daughters, grew up in a home where reading was required, not requested. Her literary “career” began in junior high school with the publishing of her poetry. While Mrs. Harrison pays homage to Alex Haley, Gloria Naylor, Alice Walker, Langston Hughes, and Toni Morrison as literary legends who inspired her creativity, it was Dr. Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings that unleashed her writing. Literally. Not only is Harrison a multi-award-winning author, but she is an avid reader as well. “I’ve strayed away from the practice, but years ago I made a concerted effort to always read a book from the Harlem Renaissance writers every time I read a contemporary piece of fiction. It was my way of reaching back and balancing my literary indulgences.” Indulging her literary sweet tooth with works from her favorite authors Dianne McKinney Whetstone, Bernice McFadden, J.D. Mason, and Guy Johnson to name a few, Harrison is quick to proclaim McFadden’s Sugar as her all-time, absolute favorite novel. In addition to writing, Suzette’s career has afforded her opportunities to share her gifts through public speaking, as well as author-mentoring. A wife and mother who holds a culinary degree in Pastry & Baking, Suzette is currently cooking up her next novel…in between batches of cookies.

Be My Valentine, Volume Two

BE MY VALENTINE, VOLUME TWO
A LOVE AFRICA PRESS COLLECTION

Life is beautiful especially when you’re in love.
Dive into these hand-picked contemporary romance novellas and fall in love this Valentine’s Day.

Featured stories:
The Curse of Valentine by Glory Abah
She will be loved by Zee Monodee
When Love Happens by Rosemary Okafor
Until Morning by Mukami Ngari

THE CURSE OF VALENTINE by Glory Abah

Jane fell in love in January, to a man she glimpses every evening after work on the way home. Not bold enough to talk to him, she’s content with just staring at her daily fix from afar.

Until one stupid February day when he approaches, starts a conversation and she bolts.

Because February is the worst month in the history of months. And she’s cursed. Cursed to be dumped and left broken-hearted on Valentine Day.

Can she break the curse of Valentine and keep the man she loves?

SHE WILL BE LOVED by Zee Monodee

This Valentine’s Day, the music scene’s hottest artist, DJ Den, is set to perform his worldwide smash hit in Mauritius. Jaeden Kang—the man from Shetland behind the stage name—is looking forward to a break and some inspiration before his tour gobbles him up again.

Tanzanian medical doctor Zenobia Hashemi is visiting her brother on the island when her path crosses that of Jaeden and they’re off to a rocky start.

Neither of them ‘does’ love … but life has other plans for them during this trip!

WHEN LOVE HAPPENS by Rosemary Okafor

Morgan is ruthless and plays dirty to protect his billion-dollar conglomerate. However, he holds a dark secret that could destroy him if exposed. His relationships with women are about pleasure alone until one weekend with the beautiful Eno leaves him ready to risk everything for her.

Eno was a young journalist when she witnessed Morgan murder his wife. Six years later, she’s ready to do anything to make him pay for his crime. Until she falls for his charms. Now she’s torn between destroying the proud billionaire and allowing herself to fall in-love with him.

UNTIL MORNING by Mukami Ngari

Following a devastating relationship breakup, Zawadi is out on a girls’ night out with friends when she meets a sexy stranger with a deep soulful voice created for baby-making music, the handsome face and hot body of a potential cult leader and who rides a motorbike like a speed demon. He becomes her first one-night stand.

Soon she discovers the sexy stranger is her new investor, Gerald. Things deteriorate when he pretends he’s never met her and then she discovers his unfathomable secret.

Will love win this Valentine season?

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS

GLORY ABAH

Glory Abah is a die-hard romantic whose head has always been in the clouds. She started reading books from a very young age and finally, decided to pen down the love stories she fantasizes about. She lives in Nigeria and loves to hear from her readers.

You can reach her at (cue social media handles and email address)

Join her mail list to have first access to free stories, book releases, discounts and many more exciting offers, including a FREE book. Click the link ( http://eepurl.com/dnpV-r)

ZEE MONODEE

Of Indian heritage & a 2x breast cancer survivor, Zee lives in paradise (aka Mauritius!) with her long-suffering husband, their smart-mouth teenage son, and their tabby cat who thinks herself a fearsome feline from the nearby African Serengeti plains. When she isn’t in her kitchen rolling out chapattis or baking cakes while singing along to the latest pop hit topping the charts, she can be found reading or catching up on her numerous TV show addictions. In her day job, she is an editor who helps other authors like her hone their works and craft.

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ROSEMARY OKAFOR

Born in Nigeria in 1987, Rosemary Okafor graduated from Rivers State University and has since been employed as a broadcaster, news writer, radio script writer, stage play writer and a shop keeper. She writes short romance and other genres on social media for her followers. This would be her first official published prose. When she is not writing, she is busy as an online marketer, a wife and a mother.

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MUKAMI NGARI

Mukami Ngari is from Nairobi, Kenya.

She is the author of the critically acclaimed novel, Pharaoh’s Bed.

She enjoys telling sweet passionate romance and women fiction stories set in Africa.

When she is not writing or reading, she enjoys practicing yoga and watching supernatural T. V shows.

Follow her on her social media account to connect with her and to find out about new releases.

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SWEET BRIAR SERIES by KATHY DOUGLAS

HOW TO STEAL THE LAWMAN’S HEART

Forgiveness starts with a stolen kiss…

Chief of police Trent Knight had it all until an accident took his wife and he was left alone to raise two beautiful girls. Now the person he always blamed for his loss is back in town, and all bets are off. But soon his anger toward Carmen Shields gives way to a very different emotion — awareness of Carmen as a woman. On one hand, it feels like a betrayal of his late wife’s memory. On the other, it could be his second chance at life — and Carmen’s shot at redemption. Maybe she can go home again — with the help of a certain lawman.

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THE WAITRESS’S SECRET

Today’s Special: The Undercover Heiress!

On the run after a bad breakup, wealthy city girl Arden Wexford ends up stranded in small town  Sweet Briar. When hunky chef Brandon Danielson comes to her rescue, offering shelter and a waitressing job until her car is fixed, she reluctantly accepts. But, wanting Brandon to like her for her, not for her money, she doesn’t mention her rich roots. The closer they get, the harder it is to untell the lie.

Brandon came here to start over. Things were’t as they seemed with his ex-fiancee, and he got burned! But is it out of the frying pan, into the fire for Brandon as things heat up with a very special waitress?

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THE RANCHER AND THE CITY GIRL

From sworn enemies to soul mates? 

Wall Street hotshot Camille Parker is the last person rancher Jericho Jones expects to find on his doorstep. Ever since his late wife’s best friend interfered in his marriage, she’s persona non grata in Jericho’s book. But the situation is literally life-and-death for this damsel in distress, and he opens his home to her. The problem is, he opens his heart, too.

Camille has no choice but to seek help from her worst enemy. And as she lets her guard down in close quarters, unexpected feelings surge for him. But what will happen if Camille’s life goes back to normal and the city girl no longer needs to shelter in the reticent rancher’s arms?

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WINNING CHARLOTTE BACK

When the man who left her at the altar moves in next door…

This could not be happening. Charlotte Shields had left both that heartbreaking day and this heartbreaking man behind. But here he is. Even worse, their mutual attraction is back to betray her. Especially as Dr. Rick Tyler works hard to make amends. He’s got to make this move to Sweet Briar work to give his son a second chance. Will he get a second chance with Charlotte in the bargain?

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THE RANCHER’S RETURN

“That’s all you have to say? You’re back now?”

Ten years ago, the love of Raven Reynolds’s life disappeared without a trace. Now Donovan Cordero is back, standing on her doorstep. Along the way, Raven had the rancher’s child—though he didn’t know she was pregnant! Now her prayers have been answered, but happily-ever-after feels further away than ever. Because how can she rebuild a life with her child’s father if she’s engaged to another man?

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A BABY BETWEEN FRIENDS

They pretended to be lovers.

But there’s nothing make-believe about the baby on the way.

When Joni Danielson recruits her best friend, Sweet Briar mayor Lex Devlin, to be her fake boyfriend for a wedding, it’s a no-brainer. But their staged kisses lead to real passion—and heartbreak when Lex pulls away. Now Joni’s in a bigger bind: she’s pregnant. Can she and Lex once again fake it till they make it—to a real relationship?

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ABOUT KATHY DOUGLASS

Kathy is a born reader who as a child always had her nose in a book. That love of reading grew with her. She often would finish one book and immediately pick up another. She went from reading Bobbsey Twins to long, lush romance novels. One day she stumbled upon the Shining by Stephen King and was hooked. She turned her back on romance and became a serious Stephen King fan, reading every word he wrote. When she caught herself checking under the bed and looking in the closet for monsters or worse, she knew it was time to put down the horror stories and pick up the romance novels.

Her return to romance novels was short lived. She’d started law school and soon her reading was limited to legal opinions. Then one happy day her younger sister handed her a Harlequin romance. They were just what the doctor ordered. The books were short enough to read in a week and still get her required reading done. Best of all she knew there would be a happy ending and she wouldn’t have to search her room before she went to bed each night.

When her first child was born, she stopped practicing law to become a stay at home mom. Her second child followed nineteen months later. With two little ones in the house, reading suddenly became limited to Dr. Seuss and other children’s books. Any free time was spent trying to catch up on sleep or laundry.

All too soon her kids were attending pre-school two hours a day. She spent those few precious renewing her relationship with romance novels. After a while she felt the urge to write a book of her own and she began writing the stories she wanted to read. She spent many years writing some really terrible books and learning her craft. In 2016, Kathy sold to Harlequin. Her first book, How to Steal the Lawman’s Heart, was released in February, 2017. Several others soon followed with more to come.

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Corporate Seduction by A.C. Arthur

CORPORATE SEDUCTION BY A.C. ARTHUR

Reka Boyd’s life has changed in the last four years. With a college degree, a new job title and her best friend’s wedding to help plan, she has far too much on her plate to deal with dead-end relationships or get sucked into office drama the way she used to. But when erotic emails inundate the inboxes of everyone at the firm, and a sexy new IT guy shows up to get to the bottom of the situation, she can’t help but feel the heat.

Khalil Franklin is working undercover to help his friends find out whose spamming their firm email and why. Fresh off a break-up he’s not in the market for another love interest, but as the feisty and attractive paralegal questions his every move at the firm, he finds himself falling for her fast!

Who will be left standing when a chance meeting at a sex club hatches a plan for revenge and the email scandal erupts on the top floor of Page & Associates?

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ABOUT A.C. ARTHUR

AC Arthur was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland where she currently resides with her husband, three children, grandson and an English bulldog named Vader. An active imagination and a love for reading encouraged her to begin writing in high school and she hasn’t stopped since.

Working in the legal field for over twenty-five years, AC has seen lots of horrific things and longs for the safe haven of a romance novel. To date, she has written in several genres: YA paranormal (w/a Artist Arthur), small town romance as Lacey Baker, and sexy contemporary and paranormal romance. With intriguing plots and sexy love scenes, AC brings a new edge to romance!

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A TASTE OF HER OWN MEDICINE BY TASHA L. HARRISON

 

A TASTE OF HER OWN MEDICINE BY TASHA L. HARRISON

“He looks like he could plow my north field without a horse.”

Sonja Watts needs to re-enter the workforce after divorcing her husband of thirteen years. Taking the advice of her sister Birdie and her best friend Estelle, she signs up for a six-week course for entrepreneurs; hoping that she will learn everything she needs to know to build a business to support herself and her kids.

On the first night of class, Sonja is able to ignore the fact that most of the students were younger than her by ten years or more. It was what she expected. But when the instructor walks in, she debates packing up here new twelve hundred dollar laptop and walking out.

Sonja couldn’t remember the last time she looked at a man with little more interest than she give a sturdy dining room table. She was just disinterested.

But wow, did Atlas James grab her interest.

Atlas hasn’t been interested in dating since he moved back home California. Adjusting to new found success in the town where everyone sees him as that big, geeky guy who cut grass for pocket change when they were in high school has been awkward. Aside from a couple of one night stands, he hasn’t really wanted to pursue a relationship with anyone until sweet, shy Sonja signs up for his class.

Compact, curvy, and juicy in all the right places, being in the same room Sonja Watts ignites all of those giddy feelings he felt when he had his first crush. He wants to know her and he’s pretty sure she wants to know him — despite the age difference that she seems to be so fixated on.

With her future riding on the success of her new business, Sonja has no time for distraction. Will she be able to keep her eyes on her own paper or will they remain glued to Atlas’s biceps and thick thighs?

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chapter one  

Sonja

The strip of shops, eateries, and galleries in The Village of West Greenville were dark and quiet when I pulled my Subaru into the parking lot a few blocks away from The CoWorking Spot. In the last few years, this part of town had experienced some growth with the arrival of a few restaurants and specialty shops. But that was just a handful of businesses; most of which closed at or around six o’clock, leaving the streets quiet on a late summer evening. I took advantage of this moment of quiet. Closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths to settle the nervous butterflies in my stomach.

About a month ago, I allowed myself to be convinced to sign up for a six-week entrepreneurship course— something I’ve been regretting since the day the payment cleared.

What makes me think I could run my own business? 

The only thing I’d managed in the last ten years was a household, and occasionally, the front desk at my ex-husband’s real estate offices. Those skills didn’t necessarily translate into the sort of hustle one needed to be an entrepreneur. But at the time, my sisters Birdie and Agostina, as well as my friend Estelle, made it seem like a great idea to start a business with the skincare products I made from the herbs and medicinal flowers in my garden. And I agreed. Or maybe the gallon of wine I drank that night agreed because now that I was sitting in my car with my brand new laptop, in a brand new laptop bag, I wondered if I’d temporarily lost my mind.

The Bluetooth in my car announced that I had an incoming call from Estelle Murphy.

“Hello?”

“Get out of the car, Sonja,” she ordered.

“Why did I let you talk me into this?” I groaned and opened the car door, slightly annoyed that she knew me so well.

“Because you’re more than ready for it. We’ve gone through this. Get out of the car, and I’ll walk down there with you.”

“Okay. I’m coming.”

I’d arrived a good forty minutes early, mostly because I needed to stop by Ink Blue Yoga to get a pep talk from my Estelle.

Ink Blue, Estelle’s yoga studio, was one of my favorite places. The front windows went floor to ceiling, which made the interior look and feel bright and warm. The smooth, shiny hardwood floors were warm in the winter months and cool in the summer. They welcomed bare feet and I almost wanted to drop my bags, strip down and get in a few vinyasas. Estelle was good at this business thing and was brilliant at getting her studio seen. If I checked our town’s hashtag on Instagram on any given day, her yoga studio always showed up in the top nine.

“Hey, Soni,” my friend said and gave me a knowing look as I came in. “Amelia?”

The woman sweeping at the far end of the studio looked up.

“I’m going to walk Soni down to the The Coworking Spot. I’ll be right back.”

“No, problem. I’ll get everything set up for the six-thirty class.”

She grabbed two bottles of water out of the cold case near the cash wrap and handed me one. I opened it and followed her back out to the sidewalk.

“Okay,” she said. “Out with it. What are you feeling right now?”

I gnawed on my bottom lip. “I’m nervous.”

“Be specific.”

“I’m probably going to be the oldest person in the class —”

“And that matters because…?”

“It makes me feel self-conscious. It’s been years since I’ve been in a classroom. I’m not sure if I can learn everything I need to know to make this thing work.”

“Sonja, you’re one of the smartest people I know. You’ll be fine.”

“How can you say I’ll be fine? It took me six days to figure out how to use this fucking computer you made me buy.”

Estelle laughed at me, and I joined her, realizing how pathetic I sounded. Doing something new was always scary. But it had been so long since I’d done anything new that this felt huge. She grabbed my hand as we walked the remaining two blocks to the building that hosted The Entrepreneur Academy.

“There’s no need to be intimidated by anything you’re presented with today. You’re there to learn, and the instructor is there to teach you. Who’s your instructor again?”

I laughed and rolled my eyes. “You sound like you’re escorting your kid to their first day of elementary school.”

“Aren’t I?” she joked.

I pulled up the email they sent me after I registered for the class. “My instructor is someone named Atlas James. You know him?”

Estelle gasped, and her steps faltered a bit. “Yeah… yeah, I know him.”

“What was that reaction about?”

“Uh, nothing. Atlas James is … he’s an amazing teacher. I learned a lot from him.”

“Yeah, but you gasped.”

Estelle cleared her throat and smirked. “You’ll see.”

We arrived at the doors, and I turned to her with a smile. “So, I’ll meet you next door when the class is over so we can have some drinks?”

“Oh, most definitely! Relax, and have fun. It’s not nearly as hard as you think it will be. Especially not with Atlas teaching. I think you’re really going to enjoy yourself.”

I rolled my eyes. “Bye, Estelle.”

Still laughing at my friend, I went inside the coworking space that doubled as the Entrepreneur Academyclassroom on evenings and weekends. From what I read online, the two people who owned the business and ran the programs were dedicated to helping an underserved group of entrepreneurs get a foothold in the economy growing in Greenville. The businesses that students started after attending the Academy were conscientious and interested in blending into existing community. That was precisely the kind of business I wanted to build; one that felt so familiar that my customers could easily imagine the hands that made the products and feel connected to the process.

I’d entered on the street level across from the Village Journal into a small lobby and seating area.

“Hi!” a young girl sitting behind the desk said with a smile. “Welcome to The CoWorking Spot. I’m, Chloe. Can I help you?”

“Uh, yes. Hi, Chloe. I’m here for the Entrepreneur Academy Course?”

“Ah, yes. Could you just sign in for me? They’ll be meeting in the Community Classroom at the big table down there,” she said, jerking her thumb over her shoulder. “But you’re a little early, so feel free to grab a cup of coffee and look around or just hang out up here. Atlas is around here somewhere.”

“Okay, thanks,” I said as I signed in.

When I was done, I adjusted my bag on my shoulder and made my way down the steps to the Community Classroom. The big table was in an open area, with about ten or fifteen chairs around it. The group was far smaller than I anticipated it would be, and for some reason, that made me feel even more nervous. That and the fact that this Atlas person was somewhere in the building and if no one else arrived soon, I would be the first to meet him. All that tittering Estelle had done on the sidewalk made me wonder what the hell I was in for.

After choosing a seat on the far end of the table away from the big screen TV  as the place to drop my laptop bag, I went back up to the lobby to grab a cup of that free coffee the girl at the desk had offered me. I was still considering the dark, strong-smelling brew when a young man bounded up the stairs.

I swear my mouth went so dry that my tongue stuck to the roof of it.

“Hi!” he said cheerily, his lips splitting into a grin that lit up his face. And Jesus Christ was it a gorgeous face. He had smooth dark skin and the sort of distinctive features that were so unusual that it was hard to look at him without really staring. Full lips, a broad nose, and bedroom eyes with thick lashes that squinted when he smiled like he was doing now.

“Hello,” I managed to croak, unable to tear my eyes away even though he was standing next to me now, and I had to look up, up, up to meet his gaze. This man was tall and built like he could plow my north field without a horse, with shoulders that he could probably throw a woman-sized stack of potatoes over. And by woman-sized, I meant me. I would like to be that woman-sized sack of potatoes.

That thought startled me. I couldn’t remember the last time I looked at a man with little more interest than I gave a sturdy dining room table.

“Trying to get that last dose of caffeine in, huh?” he said casually as if his deep baritone wasn’t designed to disintegrate my panties the moment he opened his mouth.

“Uh, yeah. I usually try not to drink coffee this late. It tends to mess with my sleep, but I’m not usually out after this hour, so—”

What the hell was I even saying? Why was I talking about my caffeine intake like some old lady who needed to be at home before nine to make sure she took her remedies?

“I hear that,” the young man said as he tore open two sugar packets with the edge of his bright white teeth. His tongue swiped at a loose granule, and my pussy clenched like I knew how that tongue would feel between my thighs.

Look away, Sonja. Look a-damn-way. 

He gestured at the still empty cup in my hand with the carafe of coffee in his hand, offering to fill it up.

“Yes, please.” I held out the paper cup in my now trembling hand. “Thank you,” I said once it was filled and finally turned toward the coffee station to add some sugar and cream.

“No, problem. I’ll see you down there,” he said, a smirk in the corner of his full lips.

“Oh! You’re here for the Entrepreneur Academy thing?”

He pivoted around the corner to make his way back down the stairs. With his eyes on me, his smirk shifted into a smile. “I’m the instructor,” he said just before he disappeared from view.

“Holy fuck … that’s Atlas James?”

“Yes, ma’am, it is,” the girl behind the desk said with a wistful sigh.

Leaving the cup of untouched coffee on the bar, I ducked into the nearest bathroom to call my so-called friend. Her self-satisfied giggle met my ears when she finally decided to pick up the phone.

“Really, Estelle?”

“What?

“You could have warned me that my instructor was a real-life action hero, so I didn’t embarrass myself by drooling and blubbering like an idiot.”

“You drooled and blubbered like an idiot? That’s surprising. I didn’t think he would get that much of a reaction out of you.”

“And what the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“Sonja,” she began gently. “I’ve known you for almost nine years, and I’ve never heard you so much as sigh at the sight of a pretty man. Even men that are universally handsome never seemed to move the meter for you.”

I scoffed. “Yeah, well, Atlas James sure as hell did.”

“Mmmhmm… six weeks of class with him was not an unpleasant experience.”

“Estelle! You’re happily married!”

“I’m married, not dead, Sonja.”

“I get that, but…”

“Yes, I allowed myself to enjoy his personage, then I went home to my husband. And since you no longer have one of those, none of that should matter to you.”

“I have no intentions on—”

“I gotta go. The six-thirty power hour is about to start. I’ll meet you for drinks, and we can talk about how Atlas made you squirm in your seat for an hour and a half.” Then she hung up before I could respond.

I glared at my phone’s darkening screen for a moment and tried to figure out if there was a way that I could sneak downstairs, grab my new bag and twelve-hundred-dollar laptop, and duck out before the class started. because I couldn’t sit in the same room with that man. Hell, maybe I didn’t need to grab my stuff. Estelle could drive me home. My kids were there, so I didn’t need to worry about how I would get in. I could pick up my bag in the morning or some other time when I was sure he wouldn’t be here. Then I would quit the class because a woman my age should not be subjected to a man that young and that fine for six-long weeks without any sort of satisfaction.

Satisfaction? I mean, seriously. What satisfaction did I want from this man? And more importantly, what satisfaction would he be willing to give? Did I want to know? Goddamn, he had successfully scrambled my brain. This was not right or okay.

I glanced in the mirror and smoothed my hand over my newly cropped hair. Around the same time that I allowed myself to be convinced to sign up for this course, my sister Agostina thought it was a good idea to chop off all of my hair. “A woman who cuts her hair is about to make big changes in her life,” or some foolishness she’d parroted from a mindfulness blog she read. Initially, I thought the cut looked cute. Fun. Now I just looked like a middle-aged woman who’d lobbed off her hair and dyed it to hide the grey.

I sighed and shook my head at myself, then turned on the water to wash my hands. I was making too big a deal out of this. He probably didn’t even notice that I’d drooled over him. I wasn’t unattractive, but I’d long ago realized that I’d become invisible to a specific type of man and definitely a certain age bracket. Atlas James fit that demographic. Yeah… I was worried about the wrong thing.

By the time I made my way out of the bathroom and toward the low murmur of conversation in the Community Classroom, I’d convinced myself that I was overreacting. I’d only assumed that he had noticed me noticing him. That didn’t make it true.

And I believed that until I realized that my bag had been moved to a seat other than where I’d left it. It was now in front of a chair closer to the middle of the table…

Right across from where Atlas was setting up his laptop and unloading his backpack.

I glanced toward the place I’d left my things and saw that two girls were huddled there now. How wrong would it be if I put on my mom-voice and bullied them out of their seats?

“Decided against the coffee?” Atlas asked, pulling me out of my reverie.

“Uh… yeah. I had a couple of sips, but I’m jittery enough. It would have been a mistake.”

“I probably should have done the same, but you know…Y.O.L.O.”

I cringed inwardly. “Yeah…Y.O.L.O.,” I echoed then pulled out the chair.

My son used that horrible slang phrase when he was in middle school. Was this Atlas in the same age bracket? Now I felt a little gross about lusting over someone who was probably only a few years older than my high school-age son.

Yuck.

I laughed at myself again. Unloaded my bag.

Stay on task, Sonja.

“Okay… It looks like everyone is here!” Atlas said. “Let’s get started.” He clapped his hands together and moved toward the front of the room. “Welcome to The CoWorking Spot. I’m Atlas James, and I’m going to be your instructor for this cohort of the Entrepreneur Academy. A little bit about me…Yes, my name is really Atlas, but I don’t think my mother named me that in anticipation of me having shoulders big and strong enough to carry the world on them, but it helps that I grew into it.”

We all laughed at that, and he seemed to relax a little bit. “I’m a business coach for creative people who want to use their talents to make money. I’ve been at that for a little over six years, and before that, my best friend and I built a tiny home in a step-up panel truck and I traveled to every state in the continental US. I have two degrees, business and MBA in marketing, both of which used to build and run this business. Now…” He looked from one end of the table to the next, and then his eyes settled on me. “I’d like to get to know all of you.”

My mouth suddenly went dry, and my nipples drew up into tight little buds against the thin silken fabric of my bra. I folded my arms, leaned forward on the table, and prayed that he didn’t ask me to go first. Nothing but squawking high pitched sounds would come out of me if he did.

Atlas smiled at me then turned his attention to one of the young girls at the far end of the table.

Thank God.

“You there in the pink sweater. State your name, state your business.”

Everyone at the table was at least ten or more years younger than me. They had internet jobs that I’d never heard of before — like social media manager and content strategist — that they’d joined the Entrepreneur Academy to grow. None of them had a business that sounded anything like mine.

“And what about you, Miss…” Atlas pushed up the sleeves of his henley and pointed at me.

My brain short-circuited.

“Sonja…” I stammered. Yes, that’s my name. “Sonja Watts and I want to open an online store to sell natural soaps, essential oils, hand, and body cremes, and maybe teas using recipes created by my Gullah grandmother.”

The room fell silent.

“Excuse me…Sonja?” one of the girls at the end of the table began. She was sitting across from the girl in the pink sweater. I think her name was Ashley.

“Yes?”

“What is a Gullah exactly? You mean, like Gullah, Gullah Island? That show that used to come on Disney?” Ashley asked with a giggle that her friend in the pink sweater echoed.

Atlas turned his attentions to Ashley and regarded her for a long critical moment. “Gullah people are Coastal Carolina African Americans who have maintained most of their West African culture, to include language and traditions,” he explained finally. “They practice a lot of holistic medicine through cherished recipes passed down through generations.” He looked at me again, his eyes soft and…was that appreciation I saw there? “I imagine your business will be no different than someone starting their own beauty brand.”

“I imagine so…” I said, feeling for the first time in an hour that I was right where I was supposed to be.

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ABOUT TASHA L. HARRISON

Often accused of navigating life without a filter, Tasha L. Harrison has managed to brand herself as the author who crafts characters and stories that make you feel all of the feels. She writes African American, interracial and intercultural erotica and erotic romance with heroines just as brazen, emotionally messy, and dramatic as herself and heroes that love them anyway.

She lives in Upstate South Carolina with her handsome hubbie, two not-so-smallish men, and one super needy boxer dog. When she’s not writing filth, she’s riding around with the top down on her Jeep Wrangler, Amber, blasting Southern Rock and pretending she’s in love with the mountains when she really misses the ocean.

She also edits romance and erotica because love stories are her business.

Tasha’s work and information on her editing rates and services can be found at tashalharrison.com.

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Office Policy by A.C. Arthur

 

OFFICE POLICY BY A.C. ARTHUR

Ambitious and tenacious litigator, Cienna Turner has just been assigned the city’s most high-profile sexual harassment case. Despite personal misgivings, her job requires her to provide a stellar defense and she’s ready to do that when she learns her colleague, the sexy and debonair, Keith Page, will be working with her. Now, Cienna not only has to bring in a big win for the firm, but also face the demons from her past that resurface when Keith makes his desire for her known.

Keith Page has his eye set on becoming one of the city’s youngest black judges but stepping into this case involving a possible city contractor and several of the guy’s employees, might not be the way to get there. Working alongside one of the firm’s most successful attorneys is the highlight of this situation, especially when their first kiss promises more passion to come.

When the tables turn and Cienna finds herself at the center of the harassment claims and office drama comes to a fevered pitch, Cienna and Keith will rely on not only their legal acumen to stay on top, but also their love for each other to stay alive.

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ABOUT A.C. ARTHUR

AC Arthur was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland where she currently resides with her husband, three children, grandson and an English bulldog named Vader. An active imagination and a love for reading encouraged her to begin writing in high school and she hasn’t stopped since.

Working in the legal field for over twenty-five years, AC has seen lots of horrific things and longs for the safe haven of a romance novel. To date, she has written in several genres: YA paranormal (w/a Artist Arthur), small town romance as Lacey Baker, and sexy contemporary and paranormal romance. With intriguing plots and sexy love scenes, AC brings a new edge to romance!