#CoverReveal “The Best Man” by Winter Renshaw

I didn’t know her name, but I heard her laugh, tasted her lips, felt her warm skin as I held her in my arms. Together we watched our young children playing in the sand, the warm ocean lapping the shore behind them as the setting sun painted the sky. She was my soulmate and this was our life, our beautiful forever … 
Then I woke up—alone in a hospital room, connected to wires and machines. 
There was no wife. No kids. Not a single soul waiting for me. That life I dreamt of … never existed.
I’d been in a devastating wreck, a nurse told me when she rushed in. Comatose for weeks. I’d have a long road to recovery, but I was going to make it. 
From that moment on, the dream haunted me. I saw that woman’s face every time I closed my eyes, searched for her in every crowd, ached to be with a stranger I felt I’d known my entire life … and I swore that if I ever found her, I’d do anything to make her mine. 
Anything.
Then I found her.
And it was both the best and worst day of my life because the woman of my dreams … was about to marry my best friend.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: No cheating, no love triangles. That’s all I’m going to say … 😉

Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author Winter Renshaw is a bona fide daydream believer. She lives somewhere in the middle of the USA and can rarely be seen without her trusty Mead notebook and ultra portable laptop. When she’s not writing, she’s living the American dream with her husband, three kids, and the laziest puggle this side of the Mississippi. 
And if you’d like to be the first to know when a new book is coming out, please sign up for her private mailing list here —> http://eepurl.com/bfQU2j


#ExcerptReveal “The Cruelest Stranger” by Winter Renshaw

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The first time I saw him was at a bar called Ophelia’s on a misty Thursday night. I was there to drown my sorrows after a trying day, he was there to escape the storm. After a brief yet incredibly cruel exchange, the handsome stranger bolted before I had a chance to tell him off. Incensed and three cocktails deep, I followed him out the door, determined to give the audacious Adonis a piece of my mind.
Tearing after him in heels and barely able to keep up in the freezing rain, I ended my chase when I realized where he was going.
They say never to judge someone unless you know their story.
I never could have anticipated his…
And I never could have anticipated the way our paths would cross again—or that I would one day find myself falling for a man with a hollow cavity where his heart should be, a man as callous as he was beautiful, as complicated as he was mesmeric.
They say never to judge someone unless you know their story.
This one’s ours.

Through the shadowy haze of Ophelia’s, my unfocused gaze struggles to home in at first. And then I see him perfectly.

Chiseled cheekbones.

Impeccably-groomed obsidian hair.

Broad shoulders hardly contained in a navy cashmere sweater.

Jawline for days.

Could this be …?

Is that Mrs. Angelino’s nephew?

I take a generous mouthful of gin and tonic, contemplating how best to introduce myself. My palms tingle, and I rub them against the tops of my thighs, sucking in a shallow breath.

There’s a chance this man isn’t Garrett, and the more I think about it, he likely isn’t. I’ve yet to catch him scanning the room in search of someone.

But still—if it is him, I’d hate for him to think he’s being stood up. I would never do that to anyone, for any reason. My life’s mantra can be boiled down to the whole “do unto others …” saying.

Clearing my throat, I lean in his direction. “Excuse me?”

He doesn’t hear me.

Waving my hand to capture his attention, I say it again, “Hi. Excuse me.”

Still, nothing.

It’s like he’s in his own world—ten feet away.

The friendly, kindergarten-teacher smile teetering on my poppy-stained lips fades with the realization that I’m being ignored.

“Hi, excuse me …” Third time’s the charm. I wave once more, wiggling my fingers the way you’d politely flag down a restaurant server.

The man turns to his left, dark brows knit together and gaze tightened in my direction—and then he does the craziest thing: lifting his finger to his lips, he shushes me.

He. Shushes. Me.

Like a child.

Facing ahead, I take another drink, the glass trembling in my hand as a cocktail of thoughts swarm my head. The mirror behind the bar catches my reflection, and it isn’t pretty, but this time it has nothing to do with the damp, wiry, dishwater-blonde bun or the bar bathroom makeover.

Basic human decency is the one thing I value most in this world, and this man has none of it.

The full weight of his piercing stare anchors me to my seat, and every atom in my body is shouting for me to stay, to not march ten feet down the bar to give him a piece of my mind.

But today marks the anniversary of one of the worst days of my life, I was caught in a rainstorm and stood up, and I’m about two cocktails deep.

My self-control is non-existent.

Drink in hand, I slide off my seat and saunter toward the infuriatingly handsome asshole in the five-hundred-dollar sweater, but before I have a chance to utter a single word, he speaks first, “You seem incredibly insecure about something. Are you okay?”

“Excuse me?” I’m glaring, and I never glare. This isn’t good. This man’s about to bring out a side of me I never knew existed. And what the hell is he talking about? Insecure? “What kind of—”

“—what kind of asshole bothers a stranger for no reason?” he commandeers my question like he owns it. “Let me ask you this, when you saw me come in, saw me take a seat at the end of the bar away from everyone, what part of that gave you the impression that I wanted to be bothered?”

The man has a point—especially if he isn’t Garrett.

But it still doesn’t make him any less of a prick.

“I wasn’t trying to bother you, I was—”

“Really?” His full lips tug into a taut smirk, his tone as sharp as it is incredulous. “Because I’m pretty sure when you were waving at me and smiling and saying ‘Hi, excuse me’ in that cutesy little voice fifty thousand times … you were trying to bother me.”

“Are you always this cruel?”

“Are you always this desperate?” He doesn’t miss a beat.

My grip tightens on my glass. I’d love nothing more than to dump the remainder of this drink down his pretentious designer sweater.

Lucky for him that isn’t my style.

Besides, it’d be a shame to waste all that top-shelf liquor on a bottom-shelf bastard.

“For your information, I was supposed to meet someone here tonight. Someone fitting your description,” I say.

His jaw sets.

He takes a sip of his drink staring ahead, flashing a smirk that advertises a perfect dimple in the middle of his cheek. “Sure you were.”

“What, you think this is something I do to meet men?” My voice is pitched higher than I intended.

“You said it.” His brows rise as he centers his drink on a coaster.

“Don’t flatter yourself. You’re not my type.”

He sniffs. “I’m everyone’s type.”

I’m … speechless.

Is this jerk for real?!

Not only is this vexatious stranger cruel, heartless, and lacking in basic human decency, he’s also the epitome of arrogant.

“You can leave now.” He waves me off, but I’m stunned into silence as I try to gather my thoughts so I can leave him with one last zinger of a comeback.

“Everything okay over here?” Eduardo is hunched over the other side of the bar, his watchful stare passing between us. I swear he came out of nowhere—that or I was too distracted by this man’s willful audacity to notice him approaching us.

The cocky Adonis shoots me a glance before turning his attention to the bartender.

“We’re good, Eduardo,” he says. “I was just giving our friend here a lesson in etiquette, appropriacy, and basic decorum.”

Once again, I have no words.

Rising from his bar stool, he finishes the remainder of his drink with a smooth swallow before shouldering into his wool trench, heading for the door, and disappearing into the cold, dark evening.

Rain drops pelt the windows, obscuring anything and everything on the other side of the glass.

Peeling my fruitless gaze from that direction, it settles on an umbrella leaning against the wall next to the door.

His umbrella.

The blackest black.

The color of his soul—or the empty space in his chest where his heart should be.

Fitting.

Without giving it another thought, I slap a twenty on the counter and slip into my coat.

A moment later, I’m grabbing the stupid thing and diving out into the rain, praying I catch him in time.

As incensed as I am, as infuriating as he is, sometimes the best thing to do is fight cruelty with kindness. It’s something I learned early on in my life and something I instill in my students from the second they enter my classroom.

I spot him at the end of the block, waiting for the crosswalk to change.

Picking up my pace, I canter over cracked and pitted concrete, squeeze past umbrella-wielding locals—and make it to the end of the street just in time for the light to flick from neon white to warning-sign orange, forcing me to stop.

I wait where I am, my gaze trained on him in case he turns onto a side street.

The traffic signals begin to change, and within seconds, the crosswalk blinks to white.

I sprint across, ignoring the stinging cold rain drops pelting my skin, the frigid air biting through my clothes, and the painful clench in my jaw that keeps my teeth from rattling.

I’m a mere half of a block from him when he turns and disappears inside a local business.

But it isn’t just any business …

… it’s the Paulley-Hallbrook Funeral Home—a place I know well.

A moment later, I’m standing outside the very doors he walked into mere moments ago, frozen in every sense of the word.

The rain slows, gentle.

And then it stops.

Earthy petrichor fills my lungs as I witness the dark-haired, cruel-hearted mystery man as he’s greeted by a lady in a charcoal pant suit.

She places a hand on his shoulder and gives him an apologetic wince before escorting him away.

I wanted to give him the umbrella to teach him a lesson in compassion.

The irony of that isn’t lost on me.

 

Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author Winter Renshaw is a bona fide daydream believer. She lives somewhere in the middle of the USA and can rarely be seen without her trusty Mead notebook and ultra portable laptop. When she’s not writing, she’s living the American dream with her husband, three kids, and the laziest puggle this side of the Mississippi.
And if you’d like to be the first to know when a new book is coming out, please sign up for her private mailing list here —> http://eepurl.com/bfQU2j

 

 

#BlogTour “The Cruelest Stranger” by Winter Renshaw




The first time I saw him was at a bar called Ophelia’s on a misty Thursday night. I was there to drown my sorrows after a trying day, he was there to escape the storm. After a brief yet incredibly cruel exchange, the handsome stranger bolted before I had a chance to tell him off. Incensed and three cocktails deep, I followed him out the door, determined to give the audacious Adonis a piece of my mind. 
Tearing after him in heels and barely able to keep up in the freezing rain, I ended my chase when I realized where he was going.
They say never to judge someone unless you know their story. 
I never could have anticipated his…
And I never could have anticipated the way our paths would cross again—or that I would one day find myself falling for a man with a hollow cavity where his heart should be, a man as callous as he was beautiful, as complicated as he was mesmeric. 
They say never to judge someone unless you know their story.
This one’s ours.


Astaire

The sound of children laughing and shuffling down the hallway Friday morning is my cue to silence my phone.

I tuck it into my top drawer for the day and reach for my coffee, stealing a few more sips before the craziness of the day ensues.

I found the Schoenbach obituary—if you can call it that—earlier this morning. The funeral home posted it sometime last night.

Her name was Larissa Cleary-Schoenbach, and she was twenty-seven when she passed. It mentioned no family, no cause of death, no photograph. Nothing more than a birthdate and a single line about a private sunrise memorial service tomorrow morning and the words INVITATION ONLY in bold red letters. All caps.

I spent a few minutes Googling “Larissa Cleary-Schoenbach” earlier this morning. But I couldn’t find a thing.

No social media.

No LinkedIn.

No archived newspaper articles of any kind.

No graduation archives; high school, college or otherwise.

It’s as if this woman never existed.

“Good morning, good morning!” I take my place at the front of the room, grinning and waving and trying to psych them up for the day. Fridays are hard. The kids are exhausted, attention spans are waning. My students hang their jackets and bags on their hooks and then make their way to their assigned square on the rug. “Happy Friday!”

I maintain the smile on my face, sing our morning song, and begin the day’s lesson, but today I can’t help but feel like I’m merely going through the motions. My mind is fixated on that man from the bar last night—and the mystery woman he’s burying.

With the hyphenated name and similar age, it’s fair to assume she was his wife.

At first I thought it seemed odd that she’d have a private sunrise memorial service, but maybe sunrises were her thing? And maybe her passing was so tragic and unspeakable that all he wants is to protect her privacy?

By the time the kids head out for first recess ninety minutes later, I’ve concocted a beautiful love story for the two of them. I’ve imagined a passionate, love-at-first-sight romance.

Trips to Paris.

A sunset proposal.

Slow dances in empty bars.

Lazy Sunday afternoons sipping tea and trading poetry.

Saturday strolls in Lincoln Park.

New Year’s Eve kisses on snowy hotel balconies, her lashes covered in snowflakes as he wraps her tight to keep her warm.

In my heart of hearts, I want to believe he was beautifully, wonderfully kind to her.

That he loved her more than anything in the entire world.

That her death shattered his heart into a million, irreparable pieces.

I want to believe that that was the cause of his cruelty last night.

That he’s simply angry at the world for taking the love of his life away from him.

Death and loss can do a number on you. It can change your entire personality if you let it. Some of my darkest days came in the months following Trevor’s passing.

I want to believe Bennett has friends and family getting him through this, but last night, Eduardo mentioned that when Bennett stops in, he never talks to anyone—which leads me to assume he only comes solo.

Maybe he’s painfully private?

Maybe she was his entire world? All he had?

Maybe they’d had a falling out and weren’t speaking when she died?

The kids return from recess, peeling out of their scarves and gloves, cheeks flushed and eyes wet from the cold. Making my way to the front of the classroom to start the next lesson, I decide to do what Trevor would do if here were still here: I give the cruel stranger from last night the benefit of the doubt.

And then I carry on with my day.


Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author Winter Renshaw is a bona fide daydream believer. She lives somewhere in the middle of the USA and can rarely be seen without her trusty Mead notebook and ultra portable laptop. When she’s not writing, she’s living the American dream with her husband, three kids, and the laziest puggle this side of the Mississippi. 
And if you’d like to be the first to know when a new book is coming out, please sign up for her private mailing list here —> http://eepurl.com/bfQU2j


#ReleaseBlitz “The Cruelest Stranger” by Winter Renshaw




The first time I saw him was at a bar called Ophelia’s on a misty Thursday night. I was there to drown my sorrows after a trying day, he was there to escape the storm. After a brief yet incredibly cruel exchange, the handsome stranger bolted before I had a chance to tell him off. Incensed and three cocktails deep, I followed him out the door, determined to give the audacious Adonis a piece of my mind. 
Tearing after him in heels and barely able to keep up in the freezing rain, I ended my chase when I realized where he was going.
They say never to judge someone unless you know their story. 
I never could have anticipated his…
And I never could have anticipated the way our paths would cross again—or that I would one day find myself falling for a man with a hollow cavity where his heart should be, a man as callous as he was beautiful, as complicated as he was mesmeric. 
They say never to judge someone unless you know their story.
This one’s ours.

Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author Winter Renshaw is a bona fide daydream believer. She lives somewhere in the middle of the USA and can rarely be seen without her trusty Mead notebook and ultra portable laptop. When she’s not writing, she’s living the American dream with her husband, three kids, and the laziest puggle this side of the Mississippi. 
And if you’d like to be the first to know when a new book is coming out, please sign up for her private mailing list here —> http://eepurl.com/bfQU2j


#CoverReveal “The Cruelest Stranger” by Winter Renshaw


The first time I saw him was at a bar called Ophelia’s on a misty Thursday night. I was there to drown my sorrows after a trying day, he was there to escape the storm. After a brief yet incredibly cruel exchange, the handsome stranger bolted before I had a chance to tell him off. Incensed and three cocktails deep, I followed him out the door, determined to give the audacious Adonis a piece of my mind. 
Tearing after him in heels and barely able to keep up in the freezing rain, I ended my chase when I realized where he was going.
They say never to judge someone unless you know their story. 
I never could have anticipated his…
And I never could have anticipated the way our paths would cross again—or that I would one day find myself falling for a man with a hollow cavity where his heart should be, a man as callous as he was beautiful, as complicated as he was mesmeric. 
They say never to judge someone unless you know their story.
This one’s ours.

Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author Winter Renshaw is a bona fide daydream believer. She lives somewhere in the middle of the USA and can rarely be seen without her trusty Mead notebook and ultra portable laptop. When she’s not writing, she’s living the American dream with her husband, three kids, and the laziest puggle this side of the Mississippi. 
And if you’d like to be the first to know when a new book is coming out, please sign up for her private mailing list here —> http://eepurl.com/bfQU2j


#ChapterReveal “Beyond Measure: A Dark Bratva Romance” by Jane Henry




USA Today bestselling author Jane Henry delivers a gritty, impassioned romance of arranged marriage, fearless love, and ultimate triumph over evil.

I’m the girl no one wants.
Scarred beyond repair and locked away, I’m tainted and tarnished.
Unworthy of friendship, love, or hope.
But I was born into Bratva life, and my life is not my own.
I’m ripped from my home and forced to marry a man I’ve never met, sight unseen.
He’s ruthless, possessive, fierce…
My husband.

Tomas

I scowl at the computer screen in front of me. As pakhan, the weight of everything falls onto my shoulders, and today is one day when I wish I could shrug it off.

A knock comes at my office door.

“Who is it?” I snap. I don’t want to see or hear anything right now. I’m pissed off, and I haven’t had time to compose myself. As the leader of the Boston Bratva, it’s imperative that I maintain composure.

“Nicolai.”

“Come in.”

Nicolai can withstand my anger and rage. Over the past few months, he’s become my most trusted advisor. My friend.

The door swings open and Nicolai enters, bowing his head politely to greet me.

“Brother.”

I nod. “Welcome. Have a seat.”

When I first met Nicolai, he wore the face of a much older man. Troubled and anguished, he was in the throes of fighting for his woman. The woman who now bears his name and his baby. But I’ve watched the worry lines around his eyes diminish, his smile become more ready. While every bit as fierce and determined to dutifully fill his role as ever, he’s grown softer because of Marissa, more devoted to her.

“You look thrilled,” he says, quirking a brow at me. Unlike my other men, who often quake in my presence, having been taught by my father before me that men in authority are to be feared and obeyed, Nicolai is more relaxed. He’s earned the title of brother more readily than even my most trusted allies.

“Fucking pissed,” I tell him, pushing up from my desk and heading to the sideboard. I pour myself a shot of vodka. It’s eleven o’clock in the fucking morning, but it doesn’t matter. I’ve been up all night. “Drink?”

He nods silently and takes the proffered shot glass. We raise our drinks and toss them back together. I take in a deep breath and place the glass back on the sideboard before I go back to my desk.

“Want to tell Uncle Nicolai your troubles?” he asks, his eyes twinkling.

I roll my eyes at him.

I made an unconventional decision when I inducted Nicolai into our brotherhood. The son of another pakhan, Nicolai came here under an alias, but I knew he had the integrity of a brother I wanted in my order. I offered him dual enrollment in both groups, under both the authority of his father and me, and he readily agreed. We’ve come to be good friends, and I would trust the man with my life.

“Uncle Nicolai,” I snort, shaking my head. None of my other brothers take liberties like Nicolai does, but none are as trustworthy and loyal as him, so he gets away with giving me shit unlike anyone else. “It’s fucking Aren Koslov.”

Nicolai grimaces. “Fucking Aren Koslov,” he mutters in commiseration. “What’d the bastard do now?” He shakes his head. “Give me one good reason to beat his ass and I’ll take the next red-eye to San Diego.”

He would, too. Nicolai inspires fear in our enemies and respect in our contemporaries. Aren falls into both categories.

“Owed me a fucking mint a month ago, and hasn’t paid up,” I tell him. I spin my monitor around to show him the number in red. “And you don’t need me to tell you we need that money.” As my most trusted advisor, Nicolai knows we’re right on the cusp of securing the next alliance with the Spanish drug cartel. Our location in Boston, near the wharf and airport, puts us in the perfect position to manage imports, but the buy-in is fucking huge. We have the upfront money, but the payout from San Diego would put us in a moderately better financial position.

Nicolai leans back in his chair, rubbing his hand across his jawline.

“And you have meeting after meeting coming up with politicians, leaders, and the like.”

I eye him warily. Where’s he going with this?

“It’s easy to say you need money. But that isn’t what you need, brother.”

I roll my eyes. “I suppose you’re going to tell me what I need.”

“Of course.”

“Go on.”

“You know what you need more than the money?” he asks. I’m growing impatient. He needs to come out with it already.

I give him a look that says spill.

“You need a wife,” he says.

A wife?

I roll my eyes and shake my head. “Sometimes I think your father dropped you on your head as a child,” I tell him. What bullshit. I look back at the computer screen, but Nicolai presses on.

“Tomas, listen to me,” he says, insistent. “Money comes and goes, and you know that. Tomorrow you could seal a deal with the arms trade you’ve been working, and you know our investments have been paying off in spades. But a good wife is beyond measure, and Aren has a sister.”

“You’ve been married, for what, two fucking days and you’re giving me this shit?” I reply, but my mind is already spinning with what he’s saying. I never dismiss Nicolai’s suggestions without really weighing my options. Aren is one of the youngest brigadiers in America and has a reputation that precedes him everywhere he goes. He commands men under him, and I’m grateful he hasn’t risen higher in power.

He grunts at me and narrows his eyes. “I’ve loved Marissa for a lot longer than we’ve had rings on our fingers.”

“I know it, brother,” I tell him. “Just giving you shit. Go on.”

“Aren’s sister is single, lives with him on their compound. Young. I don’t know much about her, and haven’t seen a recent picture, but I met her years ago when I first came to America. And she was a beauty then. I imagine she’s only grown more beautiful.”

Seconds ago, this idea seemed preposterous, but now that I’m beginning to think about it, I’m warming to the idea.

“You think he’d let her go to pay off his debt?”

“With enough persuasion? Hell yeah. And a good leader needs a wife. You’ve seen it yourself. There’s something to be said for having a woman to come home to. The most powerful men in the brotherhood are all married.”

He’s right. Just last week, I met with Demyan from Moscow and his wife Larissa. He brings her everywhere with him. The two are inseparable. And he’s risen to be one of the most powerful men the Bratva has ever known.

“And face it, Tomas. You’re not exactly in the position to meet a pretty girl at church.”

I huff out a laugh. The men of the Bratva rarely obtain women by traditional means.

I lift my phone and dial Lev.

“Boss?”

“Get me a picture of Aren Kosolov’s sister,” I tell him. Our resident hacker and computer genius, Lev works quickly and efficiently.

“Give me five minutes,” he says.

“Done.”

I hang up the phone and turn to Nicolai. “I want to see her first,” I tell him.

“Of course.”

“How’s Marissa?”

He fills me in about home, his voice growing softer as he talks about Marissa, but I’m only half-listening to him. I’m thinking about the way a woman changes a man, and how he’s changed because of her.

Do I need a wife?

The better question is, do I want Aren Kosolov’s sister to be the one?

My phone buzzes, and Nicolai gestures for me to answer it. A text from Lev with a grainy picture pops up on the screen, followed by a text.

There are no recent pictures. This was from a few years ago, but it should give you a good idea.

Still, it’s a full profile picture. I murmur appreciatively. Wavy, unruly chestnut hair pulled back at the nape of her neck, with fetching tendrils curling around her forehead. Haunting hazel colored eyes below dark brows. High cheekbones, her skin flushed pink, and full, pink lips. She’s thin and graceful, though if I’m honest, a little too thin for me. The women I bed tend to be sturdier and curvy, able to withstand the way I like to fuck.

I don’t want to have this conversation via text. I call him and he answers right away.

“Background?” I ask.

“Never went to college. Under her brother’s watchful eye since her father died.”

“Lovely,” I mutter. He might not give her up easily.

“Temperament?” I ask, aware that I sound like I’m asking about adopting a puppy, but it fucking matters.

“Not sure, but she has no record on file at school or legally. Perfect record. Graduated top of her class in high school.” He snorts. “Volunteers in a soup kitchen in San Diego and attends the Orthodox Church on the weekend.”

Ah. A good girl. Points in her favor. Sometimes the good girls fall hard, and sometimes they’re tougher to break, but they intrigue me.

“Boyfriend?”

“None.”

“Name?”

“Caroline.”

“Caroline?” I repeat. “That isn’t a Russian name.”

“Her mother was American.”

I nod thoughtfully. Caroline Koslov.

She would take my name.

Caroline Dobrynin.

I drum my fingers on my desk, contemplating. I nod to Nicolai when I instruct Lev. “Get Aren on the phone.”

USA Today bestselling author Jane Henry pens stern but loving alpha heroes, feisty heroines, and emotion-driven happily-ever-afters. She writes what she loves to read: kink with a tender touch. Jane is a hopeless romantic who lives on the East Coast with a houseful of children and her very own Prince Charming.
Connect with Jane at http://janehenryromance.com


#BlogTour “Beyond Measure: A Dark Bratva Romance” by Jane Henry



USA Today bestselling author Jane Henry delivers a gritty, impassioned romance of arranged marriage, fearless love, and ultimate triumph over evil.

I’m the girl no one wants.

Scarred beyond repair and locked away, I’m tainted and tarnished.

Unworthy of friendship, love, or hope.

But I was born into Bratva life, and my life is not my own.

I’m ripped from my home and forced to marry a man I’ve never met, sight unseen.

He’s ruthless, possessive, fierce…

My husband.

The veil tumbles to the side, its falling a symbol of sorts. I can no longer hide. It slides to the ground and gets crushed beneath his heavy footsteps as he drags me to the furthest end of the property, to a small apartment with lights blazing. He yanks open the door with his left hand, still holding me in his right, then to my shock, bends and lifts me up and right over the threshold, placing me clumsily to my feet so quickly he nearly tosses me through the door. I stumble, but he grabs my elbow to right me, then slams the door behind him.

By now, his fit of temper because he was given marred goods has me in a fury of my own. I can’t help who I am. I can’t help how I look. And if I’m to be married to this monster, he can have some damn decency.

“Hardly carrying me over the threshold!” I spit out at him, quickly scurrying around the kitchen table to put distance between us. I look around for something to defend myself if he’s going to hurt me. Now that I’m his property, I’m fully prepared for him to rape me. There are rules governing consummation. I begin to tremble.

This isn’t my fault. I didn’t agree to this. I didn’t scar my face, and I didn’t promise him anything, so he has no right to direct his anger at me. His eyes darken as he prowls closer to me, and I fear the worst. I know that look. He’s going to hurt me, I know it, but there’s something my new husband will learn about me. I won’t stand and take it.

Glancing wildly about the room, I see a set of kitchen knives on the counter. I sprint, and grab the largest one by the handle, spinning around to face him. “Do not fucking touch me again.”

He freezes and puts his hands up in the universal gesture of surrender.

“Caroline,” he says in his deep, angry voice. Unlike the other men of the Bratva, his accent is less noticeable, though still there. He barks out a command that makes me jump and nearly drop the knife. “Put that down.”

I blink and stare at him, my hand trembling. What will he do if I put it down? What will he do if I don’t? Oh, God, this was so stupid.

“No,” I tell him, shaking so hard the knife vibrates in my hand. “I don’t trust you. I don’t want you to hurt me. I did nothing to deserve your anger, and you will not touch me!”

At that, he looks at me in surprise and anchors his large hands on his hips. “Is that what you think?”

I blink. “What?”

“That I’m angry with you?”

“You’re glaring at me. What am I supposed to think, that you’re enamored with my radiant beauty? Look at me. I’m no fool.”

He fixes me with a look that would make the most powerful men of the brotherhood quake. “All you’ve done to earn my anger is wield a knife at me. Before then, my anger was not directed at you.”

I grip the blade, unsure of how I would even use this thing if I had to. I suppose I’d slash at him and try to hit an artery or something. Hell, I don’t even really know where those are. Stupid. Unfortunately, the sight of blood also makes me want to vomit, so this was a very poorly executed decision.

“Oh, really?” I ask incredulously. “Then why have you been glaring at me?”

His lips purse but he doesn’t respond. “Put the knife down,” he repeats.

“Not until you answer me,” I counter.

He takes a step toward me and I hold the knife higher.

“We might as well make this clear from the beginning,” he says, almost thoughtfully. “You will not raise your hand to me, ever. You will respect me as your husband, and you will do what I say. I do not respond to ultimatums.” His voice sharpens to steel. “Now put that knife down before you hurt yourself.”

Clearly, he’s the domineering sort. Shocking.

I still hold the knife, but now I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do. I don’t want to hurt him, but I don’t want to do what he says either. If I obey, what will he do in retaliation? I look to the door, then the window. There’s no escape. If I run, and he has any authority here at all, he could have a legion of men at his beck and call, ready to catch me and return me to him. I don’t know what awaits me if I obey him now, but whatever it is will only worsen if I run.

This was a stupid, reckless decision, and I have a feeling I will regret pulling a knife on my new husband. Damn. I already do.

Foolishly, I continue to talk. “And what will you do to me if I put this down?”

A muscle ticks in his jaw. “I will lessen the punishment you’ve already earned for pulling a knife on me.”

I swallow hard. Damn. But not a surprise.

“And if I don’t?”

His eyes darken and his brows draw together. “I will take that knife from you before I whip you soundly, cuff you, and put you to bed.”

My pulse spikes. He isn’t lying.

This is the man I’m married to?


USA Today bestselling author Jane Henry pens stern but loving alpha heroes, feisty heroines, and emotion-driven happily-ever-afters. She writes what she loves to read: kink with a tender touch. Jane is a hopeless romantic who lives on the East Coast with a houseful of children and her very own Prince Charming.

Connect with Jane at http://janehenryromance.com

#ReleaseBlitz “Beyond Measure: A Dark Bratva Romance” by Jane Henry


USA Today bestselling author Jane Henry delivers a gritty, impassioned romance of arranged marriage, fearless love, and ultimate triumph over evil.

I’m the girl no one wants.

Scarred beyond repair and locked away, I’m tainted and tarnished.

Unworthy of friendship, love, or hope.

But I was born into Bratva life, and my life is not my own.

I’m ripped from my home and forced to marry a man I’ve never met, sight unseen.

He’s ruthless, possessive, fierce…

My husband.

Her eyes follow the solid black in my hand, from the feather tip to the little square strip of leather at the bottom.

“How original,” she quips. “A riding crop?”

“You know what this is?” I ask her, dragging it from her shoulder down her side, the leather traveling over her skin leaving goosebumps in its wake.

“A crop,” she says. “Thought we established that.”

“A crop designed for impact and sensation play,” I tell her. I quickly unfasten the cuffs, lift her up, and place her chest-down on the bed. Positioning her hands on the headboard, I cuff her to the rings I have there. The bed bounces a little with the force, and I step back to admire how gorgeous she is. Her beautiful breasts swing free, her ass barely covered by thin panties and pushed prominently in the air, the quick movement making her full hair bounce in fragrant raves. Over her shoulder she shoots me a look that dares me to let the crop fly.

Swish. The leather strikes her, making a small splotch of faint pink bloom against her pale skin and eliciting the most beautiful little cry. I lash her again and again, each flick a little harder than the last. At first, she actually growls at me, cursing under her breath but unable to get away. She whimpers, squirming, when the crop lands with more intensity. When I’ve painted her a fetching shade of pink, I flip the wand around and tickle her abused flesh with the feather.

“Ohh!” she gasps in protest, squirming, likely surprised by the different sensation. I take the delicate feather-tipped crop and trace it up her back and to her neck, tickling her just there, before I flip the crop again and give her another sharp spank.

“Beg.”

“No.”

I continue the same torturous teasing, alternating flicks of the crop and tickling feathers until she’s moaning, her hips rising, and I know that if I touch her secret folds she’ll be sopping.

Another swishing swing of the crop, “Beg me.”

“No.”

I’m growing impatient.

“It’s unfortunate you’ve chosen to be so stubborn,” I say. “You’ll need something more serious, then?”

Clenching her jaw, she refuses to give in.

I shake my head and cluck my tongue, walk to the bedside table and open it again. She watches every move. I take out a leather flogger and tap it against my palm. Tame, but would work if we had more time. I place it back in the drawer and take out a stout cane. Too harsh. Then I eye a lightweight but sturdy wooden paddle. I nod to myself. That will do well.

“You’re crazy,” she says with a scowl, staring at the solid wood. “Insane!”

“And you’re stubborn as fuck,” I say with admiration. “I like it.”

Without another word, I place my hand on her lower back and slam the wood against her full ass cheeks.

“Ow!” she screams and bucks, but I’ve got her tightly secured. I do want to subdue her, but I also want to take her to a place where pain and pleasure blend. I don’t strike her again yet but rather run my hand along her heated skin, massaging. She freezes, unsure of what I’m doing next. I drag my fingers along her inner thighs, so silky and warm to the touch.

“Beg.”

This time there’s a slight pause, and her refusal is tamer when she whispers, “No.”


USA Today bestselling author Jane Henry pens stern but loving alpha heroes, feisty heroines, and emotion-driven happily-ever-afters. She writes what she loves to read: kink with a tender touch. Jane is a hopeless romantic who lives on the East Coast with a houseful of children and her very own Prince Charming.

Connect with Jane at http://janehenryromance.com

#BlogTour “You Have to Believe Me” by Sunday Tomassetti


She has every reason to hate her ex …

Every day on her way home from work, Dove Damiani drives past her ex-house, where her ex-husband lives with her ex-dog and her ex-yoga instructor, next to her ex-neighbors and the ex-life she once affectionately described as “frighteningly perfect.”

To outsiders, Dove is bitter and resentful. The divorce left her alone, with nothing but a set of car keys and 50% of a paltry savings account.

…but it doesn’t mean she wants him dead.

When the lifeless body of her former husband is discovered in the birch grove outside Dove’s apartment on what would have been their fifth wedding anniversary, investigators waste no time making Dove a person of interest. She swears she didn’t do it. She’s never so much as killed a spider in her thirty years.

But as evidence mounts against her, Dove finds herself questioning her memory, her sanity, and even—her innocence.

An eerie silence fills the house after Ian’s visitation.

Lucy rustles from her spot by my feet at the end of the sofa before hopping down and stretching her long legs. She gives me her pleading brown eyes and the smallest of tail wags, and I get up, making my way to the back door to let her out.

Normally I wait inside, but I could use the fresh air, so I decide to join her. Hugging my sides, I stand on the back porch and pull in lungful after lungful of crisp autumn air, inhaling the inimitable scent of dying leaves and hibernating flora. Death and decay are beautiful in the right context and that irony is not lost on me, especially tonight of all nights.

Ian once mentioned fall was his favorite time of year. He said he lived for the changing leaves and pumpkin-spiced everything, and he always preferred his gingham-checked button downs and cashmere sweaters in rich, deep shades over his summertime t-shirt and shorts wardrobe. Plus, as a teacher, fall meant back-to-school festivities. Football. Homecoming. Catching up with his favorite students. Student council elections. Coaching the debate team.

There was so much life in that man and now he’s just … gone.

There’s a murky haze in the air today. Someone nearby must be burning leaves. I wonder if I’ll forever associate the distinct, ashy scent of burnt nature with Ian’s passing.

I peer across the deck railing, my eyes adjusting in the dark as I search for Lucy. I find her a few seconds later, doing one of her infamous perimeter checks where she runs along the fence line and sniffs at anything and everything before dashing inside.

Only she seems to be fixated on something.

“Lucy, in.” A biting breeze wraps around me as I call for her, patting my thigh. But she doesn’t budge. She’s still as a statue, her nose glued to the ground and her tail pointing straight.

“Lucy!” I yell louder, stepping toward the end of the deck. “Inside.”

She ignores me for another moment before rising on her hind legs and scratching at the wooden fence, going from statuesque to animated in the blink of an eye.

There must be someone on the other side.

I call for her a third time before marching out to get her myself.

She’s going crazy, scratching and whimpering, jumping and whining. In fact, she’s so caught up in whatever she’s freaking out about that she doesn’t notice me, startling and jumping back when I reach down and loop my fingers into her collar.

I get her to quiet down for a second, long enough to hear the unmistakable rustle of footsteps through fallen leaves on the other side of the fence. Through the quarter-inch slits that separate each wooden panel, I can make out the dark outline of a figure on the other side.

“I’m sorry,” I say to the next-door neighbor. Ian introduced us once. I think his name is Will? He’s a bachelor and a bit of a loner. Due to his work schedule at the tire factory, we don’t tend to cross paths, but every once in a while I see him coming and going in his big black Ford with the chrome-tipped dual exhaust and depending on his mood, sometimes we exchange a wave or two. “She gets excited sometimes.”

I loop my fingers around Lucy’s collar until I have control, lingering for a second and waiting for a response that never comes.

Oh, well.

Will is the least of my concerns today.

I lead Lucy inside and lock the sliding door behind us, and then I make my way back to the living room to check my phone in case I missed any calls in the last few minutes. Only in the midst of reaching for it, I happen to glance out the picture window behind the couch—just in time to see Will pulling into his driveway and climbing out of his truck a second later.

I yank the curtains shut, violent chills running through my stiffened limbs.

That wasn’t him.

Sunday Tomassetti is the pseudonym of a Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Amazon Charts, and #1 Amazon bestselling author who wanted an outlet for her passion projects. A thirty-something married mother of three, Sunday resides in the midwest where you can always find her hard at work on her next novel.

Sunday is represented by Jill Marsal of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.