Crushed (Redemption #2) – Lauren Layne ARC Review

Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive! – Sir Walter Scott, Marmion, Canto vi. Stanza 17.


Crushed: A Redemption Novel

Lauren Layne

SYNOPSIS – Growing up in New York, Michael St. Claire never expected to spend his twenties wearing cowboy boots. But that was before he learned about his real father, a total stranger with a family in Cedar Grove, Texas. Once in the Lone Star State, Michael meets Kristin Bellamy, who is exquisitely refined and everything Michael always thought he wanted in a woman. The only problem is that Kristin is dating Michael’s new half brother, Devon.

Kristin’s mouthy, curvy sister Chloe has always been in love with Devon Patterson. So when Michael offers to help Chloe break up Devon and Kristin, Chloe agrees to a deal that seems too good to be true. Before long, Chloe finally gets her man, only to make a startling discovery: She no longer wants the guy she had to fight for—she wants the one who stood by her side.


Isn’t She Lovely was the first Lauren Layne that I read, suffice it to say that I loved it. While the author loosely touched on some of the themes common to New Adult writing I loved the fact that her protagonist was not a stereotypical tattooed bad boy with a heart of gold living on the wrong side of the tracks instead Ethan Price was decidedly a “good guy” with a more than healthy bank account. Though apparently the rich and beautiful are not without their problems too, Ethan had the very great misfortune of walking in on his best friend and girlfriend in flagrante delicto. This obviously brought both relationships to a very abrupt end. The second novel Broken told Olivia’s story, Ethan’s ex-girlfriend and in Crushed Layne has definitely saved the best for last.

Michael St. Claire’s life as he knew it has been destroyed, worse because largely it was by his own hand. He lost the two most important people in his life, his best friend and the girl he loved, his best friend’s girlfriend. If the guilt of this was not enough he discovers that the life he has been living is not his own. He is not in fact a St. Claire at all but the result of an extramarital affair his mother had. Michael abandons his life in Manhattan to search out the father that he has never met and in the process discovers that everything he ever thought he wanted wasn’t what he needed.

While I praised the originality of Layne’s good guy character Ethan in the first of the series, Crushed is definitely a darker story as Michael’s intentions are far from pure throughout most of the book. However the exploration of the third character in the dysfunctional triangle introduced in Isn’t She Lovely was by far the most satisfying. In Crushed, the reader is treated to something that one would think every romance would have but sadly doesn’t, a true “love story”. The boy and girl do not lay eyes on one another and know immediately that they are meant to be together *gag* instead they don’t even particularly like each other when they meet.

In Chloe, Michael recognizes a kindred spirit and immediately strives to take advantage of her infatuation with her older sister’s boyfriend. Instead these two characters slowly over the course of the book get to know each other and against their best intentions become friends. I cannot recommend Layne’s stories highly enough if you are in the market for a emotional yet often humorous romance in particular Crushed and in general everything else that she has written. If you have not read the Redemption series I would highly recommend reading them all starting with Isn’t She Lovely. I know I will be re-reading them in short order myself.

Author Info

Lauren LayneLauren Layne graduated from Santa Clara University with a B.S. in political science that she has yet to put to good use. After dabbling in an e-commerce career in Seattle and Southern California, Layne moved to New York City, where she now writes full-time. She lives with her husband and their plus-size Pomeranian in a tiny Manhattan studio.

Connect with Lauren: Facebook | Twitter | Website

Author links


Bitten Is Back…Should We Care? GUEST POST

GUEST POST – teachergirl73


After reviewing the first season of Bitten last year, the television show based on the novel and characters created by Kelley Armstrong, I tried to keep an open mind to the inevitable changes that would come with the show’s re-interpretation of the story. The show’s writers killed off Antonio Sorrentino, who was Jeremy the Pack Alpha’s best friend and father to Nick, while choosing to keep Logan, one of the younger Pack members, alive. Both of these events are completely opposite to what happened in the book. Antonio is still alive in the series (to the best of my knowledge) and Logan, whose death in the novel was not only tragic and shocking to the Pack but more importantly it was a key catalyst for the war between the Mutts and the Pack.

Bitten-poster-Space-season-2-2015At the end of Season 1, the audience was left with a clear idea of how Season 2 would begin as Elena Michaels found the severed head of her former boyfriend, Philip, in her bed. Since Elena, had just come to terms with her wolf side and her tumultuous relationship with Clay, her mate, the grisly discovery of Philip’s remains pushed her over the edge. As Philip became one of the last casualties of the war between the Mutts and the Pack, this new twist in the story is bound to impact the reunion of Clay and Elena. We are also left wondering what will happen to Logan’s pregnant human girlfriend has she gets kidnapped by Jeremy Danver’s sadistic father Malcolm, the mastermind behind the Mutt attack on the Pack. As alpha, Jeremy is left cleaning up the mess left over from the Mutt attack at his family home Stonehaven, along with taking care of what is left of his Pack in the aftermath. For the most part, I thought the show improved over the course of the first season, and I found myself enjoying the story for what it was.

bitten-posterSo what do I think now that I’ve watched the first two episodes of Season 2? Honestly, I don’t know. There seems to be something missing in the chemistry between the Pack members, especially between Clay and Elena. The season begins with her seeking vengeance for Philip’s murder. Elena already felt guilty for turning Philip’s life upside down, but the responsibility that she now feels for his death is clearly taking its toll on her. In the novel, Elena chooses Clay when he is taken by the Mutts near the end of the first book. It becomes very clear that he is what she wants and that although they will never have a “fairytale” romance, Elena couldn’t deny that Clay was her mate any longer. In the novel, Elena felt badly because Philip got caught in the crossfire but he went on to live without her. In the show, she chooses Clay because she realizes that he bit her to save her being killed by Jeremy (a MAJOR deviation in story line from the novel) and that he took all the years of abuse from her because he was being loyal to his alpha.

The complication of Philip’s murder is not helping Clay and Elena’s relationship. Now, Greyston Holt, who plays Clay Danvers, might be the best part of the show for me, as he is beautiful to look at and one of the better performers on the show. Steve Lund, who plays Nick Sorrentino, is also quite gorgeous and suprisingly, I’ve found his performances to be much better than I expected. In the novel, Nick is fun and immature whereas in the show, they have matured Nick since the death of his father, and that has been interesting to watch.

The problem that I’m having is that I don’t think the show is being true to the relationships in the book. Character development was what I found to be the weakness in Season 1, so I guess it’s not that surprising this problem has carried over into the second season. The relationship between Clay and Elena is complicated, but ultimately, it is clear that they are meant to be together in the books. Yet, as I watch these characters who are supposed to be mates for life, it still feels like there’s something missing. As for the Pack, there’s no sense of “family” connecting its members. Jeremy still seems to feel the need to rule with a heavy hand to get everyone to do what he wants but that’s just not how the Pack operates in the novel. The Pack are a family, living together throughout the good times and bad, and that is something that the show’s writers need to work on if they want to project the same image.

A new problem for the Pack this season comes in the form of some new supernatural characters who also originate from Armstrong’s “Women of the Otherworld” series. These characters show the wolves that they aren’t the only creatures hiding in plain sight of the humans. My biggest concern with the introduction of these new characters is that the show’s writers already have enough “balls in the air” so to speak and I have little confidence that they can handle the addition of any more characters.

I will keep watching Season 2, if only to appease my curiosity, but if the show doesn’t improve the interaction between its characters making them more real and believable, I’m not sure there will be a Season 3 to watch.

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The Reality O – Candy Sloane REVIEW

Fifteen Contestants Twelve Episodes & One Chance to Rock Her World

About a year ago a book titled Sneaking Candy was released. It was about a creative writing graduate student (Candice Salinas) and her erotic romance author alter-ego (Candy Sloane). Readers fell in love with Candy and so did author Lisa Burstein.

Lisa fell so much in love SHE WROTE A BOOK as Candy Sloane.

The Reality O is Candy Sloane’s first standalone debut erotic romance novel, but it may not be her last


Title: The Reality O

Author: Candy Sloane/Lisa Burstein
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Comedy/Erotic Romance



Fifteen Contestants, Twelve Episodes & One Chance to Rock Her World

When my best friend Allie posted about my need for an inaugural O on a prominent dating website it was meant to be a joke.

A joke she was supposed to delete.

But her post started an internet and media frenzy and, when I was offered fifty thousand dollars to star in my own reality competition show, I had no choice but to say yes.

The show was supposed to help me meet a carnal companion who could finally bring me to climax.

Unfortunately, the one person I want to win the undying allegiance of my, well, you know, can’t be in the running at all.

Now in an L.A. mansion with fifteen very persuasive contestants vying for my attention and one undeniably sexy Production Assistant secretly getting it all the word ACTION has a whole new meaning…

Author’s Note: This book is about sex. There are men kissing women, women kissing women, and men kissing lady parts. It is not meant for readers under eighteen, or my mother.


I loved Sneaking Candy, read the review here and The Reality O is just as adorable as Lisa Burstein’s delightful debut. I have never watched Jersey Shore or Big Brother nor will I without significant persuasion. However my guilty pleasure for the past eighteen seasons has been The Bachelor. When Christine drunkenly confesses to her inability to orgasm with a partner to her bestie. Her friend, in a with friends like these who needs enemies move, places a personal ad in the Casual Encounters to search for someone to rise to the challenge, pun intended. Before she has a chance to change her phone number the ad has gone viral and the television producers are knocking at her door.

Before she knows it Christine is starring in her own MTV reality series, the only catch is the extremely attractive production assistant who stirs her in ways that Tongue, Cuffs, Cowboy et al. could only hope to. The object being the last man or woman standing being the one who could bring Christine the ultimate pleasure. Soon Christine is dodging the attentions of the contestants with hilarious results and seeking those of a certain staffer who happens to return her regard.

Like Sneaking Candy, The Reality O is a light-hearted fun story with the underlying theme of finding oneself through acceptance. Though not all of the sex scenes were all that they could be I would definitely read more by her in the future. In the meantime I will just have to make due with The Bachelor.


 About the Author

Lisa Burstein aka Candy Sloane is the author of the Young Adult Novels: Pretty Amy and Dear Cassie, and the New Adult Novels & Novellas: Sneaking Candy, The Next Forever, The Possibility of Us, and Again. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her very patient husband, a neurotic dog and two cats.

Senior Year Bites (The Clanless #1) by J.A. Campbell INTERVIEW & EXCERPT

Senior Year Bites (The Clanless #1)

Release Date: 07/07/14

Untold Press

Summary from Goodreads:

Senior year is supposed to be fun: boys, dances and graduation. It’s significantly harder to enjoy it when you’re dead.

Thanks to an innocent game of Truth or Dare, I wound up sleeping in a graveyard. Probably not the brightest thing I’ve ever done, but thanks to a couple of well-placed fangs, I’m here to tell the tale.

Vampires might stalk pop culture, but they’re just myths, right? Yeah. Not so much…

Everything seems a lot more difficult when you’re a nocturnal creature of the night, especially school. I was managing, but couldn’t keep it hidden from my friends. Steph decided that we should be cool, like superheroes, and fight crime.

I’m a vampire, not a hero. Living in a sleepy New England town, crime is a little harder to come by. At least it is until a serial killer moves into the area. He’s got the authorities stumped, but then again, the cops don’t have a teenage, blood-sucking, non-hero on their team. It doesn’t take long for me to discover the world is full of monsters. I may be one of them…but will I turn out to be the hero, or the killer everyone is looking for.

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1: Where did you get the idea for SYB?

Way back in the day I had a dream about a girl who got turned into a vampire her senior year of high school. While chatting with a good writing buddy on IM I shared my fun dream. We had also been discussing the concept that two writers can take the same idea and write it, but what they come up with will usually be completely different. Both of us thought my dream was cool, and wanted to test the concept, so we both wrote a thousand words or so based on my dream. They did turn out quite differently, and I ended up continuing to write until the novel was finished.

2: Do you plan to continue this series and if so, how many will be included?

Yes. The sequel, Summer Break Blues, is available from a different publisher in ebook format. The third, and final book, still exists only in my head but I have it on good authority that I’ll be writing it this winter.

3: Was there a particular reason or meaning behind SYB?

Hmm, not persay. I did want to explore the idea of friendships, and I borrowed heavily on a friendship I had in high school.

4: I noticed that Meg, the main character struggled with being a “hero”. Was there something personal to her need to save people?

She wanted to be a hero like her father. He was a firefighter. She felt she’d lost any sort of ability to follow her dreams once she became a vampire. Turns out she just had to look at things differently.

5: The end was left open-ended, and while I loved the story, can you tell us hopeful romantics if Meg and Tad end up dating?

LOL, well, they do go on some dates. You’ll have to read the second book to see how that turns out.

6: Meg kicks serious butt! I loved her determination and vow to keeping her friends and family safe. I enjoyed the way you wove other mythical creatures into the your story. If the series continues, is it possible to see more Fey or Vampires or Elves?

More Fey, who are Elves in this world essentially, Vampires, a Werewolf, the Selkie.

7: Anything you’d like to add, or share with your readers about you or your characters? 

Well, let’s see, I really like to write about strong friendships and not giving up on each other easily. I feel like the people you surround yourself with is very important and I tried to write some good friends for Meg. Friends I would have liked to have. Steph is totally secure with her life, well, as much as someone her age can be. She’s driven and very idealistic. Meg, she’s loyal, but really confused. Understandably. Ann is a good kid but she’s not nearly as secure in herself and doesn’t like to feel completely overshadowed. Alexander is actually fairly terrified of Meg, which is why he’s such an ass to her for a while.


I had plans for my last year of college. I was going to find a boyfriend, go to a few dances, and though I hadn’t told my mom yet, take some beginning paramedic courses in the spring. I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do with my life–wasn’t that what college was for?–but I liked the idea of being a hero, like my dad, saving lives every day. That had been the plan anyway, but a sleepover and a late-night dare had changed everything.

A lot.

“Megan, time for school,” Mom called up the stairs.

I peeked out the window, squinting at the sunlight glinting off the windshield of my Jeep. It was too damn sunny for me to get from my house to the Jeep without third degree burns–or worse.


My newly sensitive ears could hear the soft brush of her socks on the carpet as she walked up the stairs. I crawled back into bed and did my best to look tired and sick. It wasn’t hard with my pale skin, and I hadn’t been eating well. If I didn’t let her get a good look at me, she might buy that I had a cold or something. Another thought tickled at the back of my mind. I could make her think I was sick. I shoved the thought away in disgust. I wasn’t going to use mind control on someone I loved.

The door creaked open, and Mom walked in. My heart would have been racing–if it still could.

“Megan?” Mom’s voice sounded full of concern.

I groaned and pulled the covers down off my head. “Mmmm?”

“It’s time for school. You didn’t come down for breakfast.” Her flat tone covered her worry with annoyance.

“I don’t feel well.”


“I don’t.” I tried to make myself sound hoarse.

“You’ve been eating so poorly. Try to eat, and then go to school. I’ll write a note for you.”

I faked a cough.

Mom sighed. “You’ve been sick so much recently. Maybe you should go to the doctor.”

“No, it’s just a cold.” I hadn’t been “sick” that much. We rarely saw the sun this time of year. As long as I wore sunglasses, a hat, and long sleeves, I didn’t burn. It was simply really uncomfortable. I felt horrible for the deception, but what could I do?

“It’s beautiful outside for a change. Go outside and get some fresh air.”

I panicked at the thought. “No, I just want to sleep.” And I did. So very much.

It was hard enough to be awake at all on cloudy days; sunny ones were pure torture.


My stomach sank at the worry in Mom’s voice, but I couldn’t tell her what was wrong. Not only wouldn’t she understand, but I didn’t want to end up in the freaking loony bin when I claimed I was something that didn’t really exist.

“All right, honey. Sleep well. I’ll call in sick for you.”

“Thanks.” I mentally shrank away from her concern and fought tears of frustration. I didn’t want my life to be full of lies, which put distance between us. We had to take care of each other, but I could only hide from her.

She shut my door and left, quiet footsteps strangely loud in my ears. I sighed and pulled the blanket over my head again.

My life changed several weeks earlier at my best friend’s ill-fated birthday party. Well, ill-fated for me, anyway. Steph had a great time.

Truth or dare, a stupid game everyone I knew played at least once in their lives. Afraid of the truth, I had chosen the dare–spend the rest of the night in the graveyard near Steph’s house. Easy enough, right? Well, it had been up until the point where I was attacked and killed. It wasn’t something you normally walked away from, but for better or for worse, I had.

Vampires were in books, movies, and on TV, but I’d never believed they were real. Still, it hadn’t been hard to figure out what had happened to me. Dealing with it was another story. It had taken several almost disastrous mishaps–going for a walk in the bright sunshine had been particularly painful–to convince me. Now, the cloudy New England days that had been the bane of my existence provided my only semblance of a normal life.

About the Author

Julie has been many things over the last few years, from college student, to bookstore clerk and an over the road trucker. She’s worked as a 911 dispatcher and in computer tech support, but through it all she’s been a writer and when she’s not out riding horses, she can usually be found

sitting in front of her computer. She lives in Colorado with her three cats, her vampire-hunting dog Kira, her new horse and Traveler-in training, Triska, and her Irish Sailor. She is the author of many Vampire and Ghost-Hunting Dog stories and the young adult Tales of the Travelers fantasy series. She’s the editor for Steampunk Trails and a member of the Horror Writers Association and the Dog Writers Association.


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Redemption Lane – Rachel Blaufeld NOW AVAILABLE!


Redemption Lane

Release Date: February 19th, 2015

DESCRIPTIONSometimes the past bleeds into the future.

Bess, a wild party girl running from herself, literally falls victim to her demons when she collapses in the most unexpected of places.

Lane, a tightly wound, up-and-coming CEO who can’t seem to stop enabling his brother, doesn’t know what hit him when Bess falls at his feet and into his life.

It was a night she doesn’t remember, and one he can’t forget.

But rather than stay and help the needy college coed, Lane decides to teach his brother a long overdue lesson––a decision that later comes back to haunt him and only adds fury to the transgressions of his past he is already fleeing from.

Years later, Bess and Lane meet again. She doesn’t know him, and he doesn’t share that he knows what happened on that ill-fated night when she almost died. After all, he has a web of complicated lies from his own youth to protect.

Both are seeking salvation in the arms of others and ignoring the truth— that the only road to redemption lies in confronting your past.

When the past and present collide, is there any chance at redemption?



“Excuse me? Do you want a table,” I asked.

He flipped the paper down, peering over the top of it, and his crystal-blue eyes sharpened. A series of expressions flitted over his face, first hurt or sadness, then morphing into what looked suspiciously like lust. In the end the man continued to stand there, saying nothing and looking bewildered.


Unnerved, I stared back at him for much too long but his gaze mesmerized me, capturing my body, mind, and soul in a way I wasn’t familiar with. It left me wanting to stare forever.

What the eff, Bess? Stare forever? Just seat the damn guy.

“Are you ready to sit for breakfast,” I asked, using my professional tone as a shield. I wasn’t on the menu, and definitely wasn’t one of the specials.

He cleared his throat and said, “Yes. Table for one.” Then he added, “Please.”

“Right this way.”


Rachel Blaufeld demonstrates her versatility with Redemption Lane, her first foray outside of her original and very entertaining Electric Tunnel series. Though Redemption Lane features a main character who happens to be a recovering addict the themes she explores within this story are applicable to pretty much anyone.

Bess and Lane each struggle with their demons, hers being addiction and his with deception. A chance meeting sparks a connection that is as undeniable between them as it is unexpected. With Redemption Lane, Ms Blaufeld has crafted a story that shows us that she is just as talented at crafting a tensely emotional stories as she was at depicting the moody Las Vegas night life, leaving her fans clamouring for more.



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About Author

Rachel BlaufeldRachel Blaufeld is a social worker/entrepreneur/blogger turned author. Fearless about sharing her opinion, Rachel captured the ear of stay-at-home and working moms on her blog, BacknGrooveMom, chronicling her adventures in parenting tweens and inventing a product, often at the same time. She has also blogged for The Huffington Post, Modern Mom, and StartupNation.

Turning her focus on her sometimes wild-and-crazy creative side, it only took Rachel two decades to do exactly what she wanted to do — write a fiction novel. Now she spends way too many hours in local coffee shops plotting her ideas. Her tales may all come with a side of angst and naughtiness, but end lusciously.

Rachel lives around the corner from her childhood home in Pennsylvania with her family and two dogs. Her obsessions include running, coffee, icing-filled doughnuts, anti-heroes, and mighty fine epilogues.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads



Love Bites by Rachel K. Burke

love bites banner

Love BitesLove Bites
Release Date: 12/29/14
Harper Impulse New Adult
225 pages
Summary from Goodreads:
What do you do when you fall in love
with your best friend’s boyfriend?
That is the question that twenty-six year-old Justine Sterling has been asking herself ever since the day she met David Whitman, her best friend Renee’s boyfriend. Justine is determined to ignore her growing feelings for the irresistibly charming David, until one night, when she finds herself in the bed of the one person she should stay away from.When Justine and David’s affair ends in heartbreak, Justine is forced to repair the damaged friendship with her best friend. In doing so, she learns that right and wrong decisions aren’t always black and white, and sometimes you have to follow your heart to see where it leads.

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I crept back into David’s bed, trying my hardest not to wake him. Half of me wanted to slip my clothes on, sneak out the front door, and pretend this never happened, but I knew we had to talk.

David stirred beside me, and his eyes fluttered open. I waited for his reaction to mirror mine, but all he did was smile and wrap his arms around me in a half-hug.

“Good morning beautiful,” he mumbled, cradling his head in my neck.

When I didn’t respond, he looked up at me with sleepy eyes. Although he looked adorable in his half-conscious state, all my feelings for him had temporarily subsided. I just stared at him, unable to speak.

“Oh no,” he said. “Don’t look at me like that.”

I lay back on the bed and rested my head on the pillow, turning to face him. “David, I… we…” I sighed. “We should never have…”

“Listen,” he interjected, propping his head on his elbow. “I know what you’re thinking, and I know how you’re probably feeling right now. But I need you to know that I meant everything I said last night.”

And there it was, my biggest fear, staring me right in the face. Instead of David agreeing that it was all a mistake and suggesting we never mention it again, it was even worse.

David was in love with me, too.

I didn’t know what to say. No matter which direction I took, I couldn’t win. I couldn’t tell him I loved him, yet I couldn’t pretend I didn’t.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to respond.

I heard her before I saw her. It happened so fast I didn’t have time to react. The sound of footsteps in the hall. Doors closing and opening. Watching my best friend’s expression change from excitement to confusion to shock. All in a matter of seconds.

And for as long as I live, I’ll never be able to erase that image from my mind.

About the Author

rachel k burkeRachel discovered she wanted to be a writer at the age of ten, when her love of R.L. Stine murder mystery novels inspired her to start writing her own.

In 2008, Rachel combined her love of writing and music and began freelancing for a music column in Worcester Magazine. She also worked as a music journalist for Starpulse News Entertainment and Jamsbio Magazine, as well as a fitness journalist for Prevention Magazine. Rachel graduated from Bridgewater University in 2011 with a B.A. in Communications and Media Studies.

She currently resides in Santa Monica, CA.

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CLEAR: A Death Trippers Novel by Jessica Park AVAILABLE TODAY!

We’re celebrating the release of CLEAR: A Death Trippers Novel by Jessica Park! Check out the excerpt below!
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Title: CLEAR: A Death Trippers Novel

Age: NA

Genre: Parnormal Romance

Author: Jessica Park

Cover Designer: The Cover Lure

Release date: February 17, 2015


Stella Ford’s grasp on reality is already loose, and it’s about to come undone.

When the college junior flees Chicago and leaves her toxic family behind, she heads for coastal Maine to find the one person who brought her peace years ago: Sam Bishop. But the Sam she once knew now has painful secrets.

Stella is determined to heal them both. Healing, however, is a challenge when the walls of her everyday existence collapse. And when Sam’s best friend is his worst enemy.

When the line between life and death blurs.

When an end is just a beginning.

When lust and rage rule.

Yet during extraordinary chaos, there can be extraordinary love, even if that love comes with a twist.

 Welcome to death tripping.

A thriller, a paranormal, and a passionate romance, CLEAR crosses genres and breaks boundaries.



Sam walks me step-by-step through the process of cracking open lobster shells and pulling out the meat, leaning over the bowl to my left but staying close. The way he talks and moves is soothing, comforting. I notice how crystal clear everything is tonight—the colors, the sounds, the smells.

There’s sharpness to my world.

“Everyone is always crazy about the tail meat,” he says, “but if you ask me, the best flavor is in these knuckles and the claws.” He twists a red arm from the body and breaks it open. “Not only is the meat better, but there’s all the liquid that you can’t miss.” Sam is inches from me when he brings a claw shell to my lips. “Drink.”

I tip my head back a bit and let him pour hot liquid into my mouth. It’s the richest, purest taste I’ve ever experienced. When he takes the shell away, I rub my lips together and smile. “More,” I whisper.
So, he feeds me juice from the other claw. A rumble of thunder echoes just as I finish. I didn’t even notice that a storm might be brewing, but I can feel the change in the air, the tingle on my skin. Sam’s a bit distracting though. He steps in even closer, his waist moving between my legs. My eyes travel down the length of his muscular arm, to his hand that moves to rest on my thigh.

“More?” he asks softly.

 “Yes,” I breathe.

“You sure, more?” His voice is soft and teasing.

Now, I take in his broad shoulders, the way his shirt fits snugly and shows the shape of his chest, and mostly, the way our closeness, our sudden intimacy, radiates around us. Our draw to each other is palpable, yet this is much more than just sexual. I’m momentarily shaken by the inexplicable perfection of us being together. We hardly know each other, so my certainty about this should feel off. But it doesn’t.

His hand gently cups my waist, and he moves his head in a bit. It only takes lifting my mouth a few inches before his lips come to mine. There is no hesitation and no tentative light kiss to feel our way around. Immediately, we have rhythm and instinct as though we’ve done this forever. He moves his mouth and tongue with an exquisite balance of confidence and tenderness, and I respond easily and naturally.

I touch my hands to his chest and admire his strength and solidity. His arm wraps behind me and pulls me in, so I slip my hands up to the back of his neck and let him bring us closer together. Each time his tongue slides against mine, a rush of adrenaline courses through me. I realize that I have been waiting for this since the exact minute when our last kiss ended all those years ago.

Right now, while burning heat and a certain level of aggressiveness come from both of us, it is also clear to me that this is not the precursor to sex. He’s not going to clear off the counter and fuck me without care as if I mean nothing. And there is safety and security in his reserve. This is a kiss with meaning and feeling and not just an obligatory step before getting laid. I know what that feels like, and this isn’t it.

Even with my eyes closed, I sense the burst of lightning that flashes just before the thunder hits again.
Sam slows our kiss until his lips are barely brushing against me. “Food’s getting cold.” He rubs his nose against mine, and I feel him smile.


 “We can’t let your first real lobster dinner go to waste.”

“No,” I agree.

But this is already the best meal I’ve ever had.



About the Author:


Jessica is the author of LEFT DROWNING, the New York Times bestselling FLAT-OUT LOVE (and the companion piece FLAT-OUT MATT), and RELATIVELY FAMOUS. She lives in New Hampshire where she spends an obscene amount time thinking about rocker boys and their guitars, complex caffeinated beverages, and tropical vacations. On the rare occasions that she is able to focus on other things, she writes.

Please visit her at and on Facebook at and Twitter @JessicaPark24

Book Reviews and Literary Musings


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