Under the Rose by Kathryn Nolan

My take:

Under The Rose returns us to the thrilling world of Codex, an elite private detective agency that excels at finding stolen literary property, whether it be books or letters. The story follows Freya, whom we met in Behind the Veil, as she reunites with her old college nemesis and current FBI agent Sam. They are forced to work together to uncover stolen love letters … and possibly crumble a secret society while they are at it.


I love this book! Enemies to lovers is my absolute JAM and it’s done expertly here. There is so much steam and so much pent up emotion and passion … with a hefty side of mystery, intrigue, humor, suspense, and romance. Seriously what more could you want? Freya is a badass, unafraid to take a man down all while battling very relatable struggles. Sam is strong, devoted, responsible, and willing to put it all on the line for love. 5 stars!


Blurb:

She’s about to go undercover with her arch-nemesis…

From the outside, the gorgeous Freya Evandale seems like a quirky bookworm with a taco addiction. Most people would never guess she’s a proud drop-out of the FBI’s training academy and a highly-skilled computer nerd. These days, she’s happy as a private detective at Codex, specializing in stolen rare books.

That is until an old nemesis with an arrogant smirk and superhero shoulders ends up in her office.

Special Agent Sam Byrne is a tightly-wound workaholic with a secret…or ten. When a betrayal leaves him questioning his career with the Bureau, consulting for Codex seems like the perfect place to hide. But he certainly never expected to see Freya again. At the academy, their rivalry was legendary. And their sparring sessions resembled an actual battle, or worse… foreplay.

Now these enemies are forced to play nice as they go undercover to infiltrate a secret society. It’s a dangerous world of power, wealth, and shifting alliances. The higher the stakes, the harder it is to resist the true reason behind their rivalry. But surrendering to years of pent-up lust is a direct threat to their mission…and their safety.

Author’s Note: If smoldering enemies-to-lovers, volcanic repressed lust, secret tunnels, gun-toting bad guys, and delicious slow burns are your jam, Under the Rose is for you! 


Get it here!

Under the Rose links:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Under-Rose-Kathryn-Nolan-ebook/dp/B086HVT6F1

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B086HVT6F1

Goodreads TBR link: http://bit.ly/2IWn8MR


Kathryn Nolan links:

Amazon Author Page: https://amzn.to/2UNSJFW

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/kathryn-nolan

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

Reader Group: https://bit.ly/341uaty

Instagram: @KathrynNolanRomance 

Beef Cake by Jiffy Kate- Blog Tour

My Take:

Swoon.

Gunnar Erickson has moved to Green Valley to train at his older brother Cage’s MMA gym. After a freak accident he finds himself at the hospital, where he meets ER nurse Frankie. Frankie hates violence and complications, and doesn’t want to fall for Gunnar’s charms. Can he prove to her he’s not an uneducated brute, despite his violent career?

Oh man oh man Gunnar Erickson is perfection. Patient, understanding, sensitive, strong, sweet, thoughtful, I could go on and on. Maybe a little more patient and thoughtful than a 22 year old dude normally is, but hey- it’s a romance novel, things can be unrealistic and still enjoyable.

There is such a good balance of really difficult topics and humor. Some heavy, emotional things happen and it’s written with a delicate hand. It doesn’t rely on overly kooky plot lines, its a simple story of two people falling in love while dealing with past trauma.

If you’re familiar with the Green Valley universe you’ll recognize some of the secondary characters and locations, but I truly don’t think you would need to read the rest to understand this book (you should read them anyway though). This was such a great way to kick off the spring SmartyPants Romance launch! 

Blurb:

If opposites do actually attract, then Gunnar Erickson and Frankie Reeves take the cake.

Frankie Reeves is complicated, even though she won’t admit it. She fills her days working as an ER nurse, taking care of her mom, and searching for the father she never knew. Anything else has no place in her perfectly compartmentalized, purposefully simple life. Attachments? No thank you. She has no time for that.

Gunnar Erickson recently moved to Green Valley to train at Viking MMA with his brother Cage. Being the youngest of the Erickson clan, he’s always felt like he has something to prove, and now that he’s finished with college, it’s his time to shine. But before he can step into the ring, a freak accident sends him to the ER and into the care of one Frankie Reeves.

While he’s immediately smitten, she pretends to be unfazed by this six-foot-three, two hundred and thirty-pound beef cake. Gunnar sets out to prove to Frankie that, not only does she like him more than she wants to admit, but he’s not the uneducated, brute she assumes he is. To Frankie, he’s the worst kind of complication, but that doesn’t make it easy to stay away.

‘Beef Cake’ is a full-length contemporary romance, can be read as a standalone, and is book #4 in the Donner Bakery series, Green Valley World, Penny Reid Book Universe.

Download your copy TODAY!

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/38ipiAU

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/364MzVJ

Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/30tZjUD

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AppleBooks: https://apple.co/2v1XUZN

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Kobo: http://bit.ly/2R6dITC

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2NRZDYj

Amazon Print: https://amzn.to/2SLqHev

Add to Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2NClJxQ

Excerpt

“I wanted to see you,” I admit. There’s no sense in beating around the bush. If she doesn’t know I’m into her, then I really need to reevaluate my strategy, or up my game.

Opening the door, she turns her back to me and I see the way her shoulders lift then fall, and when she speaks, she sounds distracted. “Can you just—I can’t deal with this. I don’t have time to deal with you, okay? I’m not interested. Leave me alone.”

I feel my entire body deflate. She wants me to leave her alone, I’ll leave her alone. But since we’re here, talking, and this might be my last chance, a part of me I can’t ignore wants to make sure her disinterest isn’t because I’m a fighter.

“Okay. Fine. But do you mind if I ask why?” I get the feeling she has her guard up all the time. I get it, I do. She’s a beautiful woman, but it’s got to be exhausting. Somehow, I’d still like to prove that it’s not necessary with me.

She slowly turns back around. “Why what?” It’s obvious she’s trying to avoid answering, so I spell it out for her.

“Why aren’t you interested?” I ask, keeping it casual and relaxed as I take a step back until my back is flush with the side of the truck. I don’t want her to feel threatened or pressured, but I do want her to talk. So, I’m hoping if I give her a little space, she’ll open up.

“You can be honest, it’s cool.” I shrug. “I’m just looking for some constructive feedback here. So, do you not find me attractive?” I ask, unable to keep from smiling. “Or are you just not into blondes? Or muscles?” I continue, trying a more playful approach, and it works. The side of her mouth pulls as she fights back a smile, her cheeks heating.

“I—you know I find you attractive,” she mumbles reluctantly, the stain on her cheeks warming to red.

I nearly sigh in relief but stop myself, because this means her disinterest has its root in my fear. “Frankie,” I continue softly, “is it because I’m a fighter?”

Her gaze cuts to mine and she presses her lips together, and that’s all the answer I need. My stomach drops.

We stand there like that, watching each other, and she sways toward me, her eyes conflicted.

“Listen,” I tell her, sighing, putting my hands in my pockets. “Go on one date with me, pretend I’m a lawyer, a doctor—”

She snorts, rolling her eyes. “I wouldn’t go on a date with a doctor either.”

“Fine, pretend I’m a window washer.”

Now her lips twist to the side to hide a new smile.

“I promise I won’t talk about MMA or cage fighting. Just one date. If you’re still not interested, I’ll leave you alone. And I’ll leave you alone now if that’s really what you want. All I’m asking for is a chance . . .  and a date.”

She eyes me and I can tell she’s giving it some thought, which is hopeful.

Patiently, I wait for the final verdict, hoping it’s not a no.

“You’re incredibly persistent.” Still struggling with her smile, she sighs in mock exasperation.

Am I proud of the fact I’ve convinced her to give me a shot in such a short time? Yes. And no. Yes, because I set out to do something and nothing makes me happier than accomplishing a goal. No, because I hate that I had to do it in the first place. I’ve never had to convince someone to talk to me or go out with me. But her misconceptions about me based on what I do don’t sit right.

Thumbing my bottom lip, I give her a smirk. “I’ve been told my persistence is an attractive quality.”

She finally—fucking finally—fully smiles, and it’s everything. The sun, the moon, the stars. I swear it just lit up this dark-as-fuck parking lot. “Is that so?” Her tone is different. She’s losing the chill and I’m thinking there might be a warm, soft center under that thick layer of ice.

And, fuck if I don’t want to find out.

“Tomorrow morning,” she announces, interrupting the fantasy of her curves under my hands.

Wait. What?

“Morning?” I ask, not sure I heard her correctly. With the blood leaving my brain and flowing to my dick, it’s possible I wasn’t paying attention.

Crossing her arms, she copies my stance, leaning against her car. “Yes, tomorrow morning. Daisy’s Nut House. If we’re doing this, we’re doing it on my terms, and I’m busy. That’s my only offer. Take it or leave it.”

I get the feeling she thinks her offer is going to scare me off or change my mind, but she’s badly mistaken. “Tomorrow morning,” I confirm. “What time?” She could tell me two o’clock on the moon and I’d make that shit happen.

“Seven.”

Again, the quirk of her head tells me it’s a challenge. One I gladly accept.

“I’ll be there at six thirty,” I counter.

There’s an air of skepticism whirling around, but I’ll be happy to see her look of surprise when I’m sitting in the parking lot of Daisy’s Nut House tomorrow morning when she arrives. Shit, I might drive over there now and sleep in the truck, just to make sure I’m early.

Her laugh, although disbelieving, is music to my ears. It might also be my new favorite sound.

Shaking her head, she gets into her car without another word and I stay put, watching her buckle up and drive off. I’m pretty sure she stops and looks back at me before turning out on the street. Could be my wishful thinking, but I’m going to roll with it.

About Jiffy Kate

Jiffy Kate is the joint pen name for Jiff Simpson and Jenny Kate Altman. They’re co-writing besties who share a brain. They also share a love of cute boys, stiff drinks, and fun times.

Together, they’ve written over twenty stories. Their first published book, Finding Focus, was released in November 2015. Since then, they’ve continued to write what they know–southern settings full of swoony heroes and strong heroines.

Find Jiffy Kate online

Facebook: http://bit.ly/2kkDmqx

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Liar Liar Hearts On Fire by Pippa Grant- Boost!

BLURB 

Never borrow pants from your brother. Especially if he’s a size smaller than you are, because all that pressure in the junk will short-circuit your brain.

And you’ll lie to a woman in a club about your real name.

Leave her unsatisfied after making out in a bathroom.

Then find out that she’s the one thing standing in the way of your dreams. And she very much doesn’t like being lied to.

Now I have to convince Lila Valentine—the woman I can’t stop thinking about, my biggest regret, and my new boss—that I’m what’s best for the baseball team she’s inherited.

If we can’t work together to save the Fireballs, the commissioner’s forcing a sale and moving them across the country.

I’ll do anything to save my home team.

But the one thing I can’t do?

Keep my hands to myself. 

Which would be fine, if she hadn’t been telling me lies this whole time too.

Liar, Liar, Hearts on Fire is a rocking fun romance between a single dad obsessed with baseball, an heiress with secrets, baseball pants, a rundown team, and rabid ducks. It stands alone and comes with a guaranteed happily-ever-after.

GOODREADS LINK: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48659250-liar-liar-hearts-on-fire 

PURCHASE LINKS 

US: https://amzn.to/2Qlsqph
UK: https://amzn.to/2QqhMxg
CA: https://amzn.to/3b90Ovg
AU: https://amzn.to/2Qqvqk1 

Free in Kindle Unlimited

Also available in paperback: https://amzn.to/2whwVKD 

EXCERPT

The squawking erupts again nearby and saves me. There are no visible chickens on the field, and it gets louder as we approach the dugout on the first base side.

Louder and more intense.

Very intense.

Like, are there chicken police? Because we might need the chicken police.

I drift directly behind Tripp while we approach the noise, shameless in using him as a human shield if this is a chicken uprising. What’s that movie? The one with the apes that rebel and take over the world? That’s what this sounds like, except with feathers and clucks instead of chest-pounding and grunts.

“Should we call security?” My self-defense classes didn’t cover protecting yourself from rabid chickens.

“That’d be a foul,” he murmurs. And then chuckles to himself, and oh my god.

“Foul—fowl? Like a bird-fowl? Did you just make a dad joke at a time like this?”

“A time like this? You mean a random Tuesday night at a deserted ball field?”

“At a time when the chickens are gathering for a ritualistic sacrifice of one of their own.”

His shoulders shake, and he seems to be struggling to cough.

“Oh, god, did you inhale a feather? Is that how this starts? They shed their feathers to choke us to death?”

“Please don’t talk about chickens and choking in the same sentence.”

“That was not a dad joke.”

“No, it was—oh. Duck.”

I squat low, spinning to see what I’m ducking from.

Tripp flips his flashlight on me. I squint and cover my head. “Stop! I can’t see! What’s coming?”

“Lila. Ducks. Ducks. Not chickens. It’s mating ducks.”

He swings the flashlight to the dugout, and—oh.

Oh.

“Is it…supposed to be that violent?”

There are two ducks under the bench in the dugout, one flapping its wings and chasing the other, who’s squawking so loudly she could wake the dead.

And— “Ohmygod, I did not need to see that!”

Duck penis.

Duck penis.

Oh my god. Duck penis. Duck penis should not look like that.

Tripp’s bent double laughing.

“Where’s security?” I demand. “Hello? Security? Security? I’ll give whoever removes this duck a ten-thousand-dollar bonus. Right now.”

No one comes running for ten grand, because no one can hear me.

The squawking. It’s a cry for help.

“It’s nature,” Tripp says. He’s wiping his eyes now, he’s laughing so hard. “Give ’em a few. They’ll finish up.”

The girl duck is racing back and forth under the bench.

The boy duck is chasing her with that thing.

And I am not having it. “Shoo. Shoo!

“Lila!” Tripp calls, but I’m already gone.

Flapping my arms. Yelling. Charging the dugout and the ducks.

Why are they even here? There’s no pond here. Winter’s coming. They should be flying to the Caribbean for Mai Tais and sunshine.

And instead, they’re ruining the sanctity of my ballpark.

“Shoo!” I yell again.

I hit the stairs down to the long covered bench, and the boy duck suddenly seems to realize I’m coming at him.

He turns, pointing that thing at me, flaps his wings, and gets this evil glint in his eyes that means I really should’ve thought about what I was doing before I came in here.

“Woo her nicely,” I snap.

He squawks—no, quacks at me.

Crap.

I need to go back to kindergarten to learn my animal sounds again. I’m a city girl. We don’t do farm animals.

“And put that thing away!

“Lila.” Tripp’s laughing so hard he’s wheezing. He grabs my elbow and tugs. “Let the ducks be.”

“I’d let it be if he wasn’t attacking her.”

“Maybe that’s how ducks have sex.”

Then maybe ducks shouldn’t exist.”

QQQUUUUAAAACCCCCKKKKK!” the boy duck yells.

It’s like a Braveheart yell, and I realize I’m asking the wrong question.

I shouldn’t be asking why is the duck assaulting the other duck in a dugout?

I should be asking what have humans previously done to this duck because he’s going to kill me?

It charges, wings flapping.

I scream and take off running. Tripp mutters a well-timed, oh, fuck and runs with me. “The other dugout,” he shouts, pointing to the dugout on the third base side.

Another light flashes up in the stands.

“Security!” I yell. “Arrest the duck! Arrest the duck!

It’s gaining on us. Quacking louder. And it can fly. It can fly.

It’s going to swoop over us, poop on our heads, and whack us with that—that—that mutant penis and then scoop us up in its talons, and—”Aaah! It got me. It got me!

It bit me on the butt.

“Don’t fuck with nature,” Tripp grunts.

ALSO AVAILABLE IN THE BRO CODE SERIES

#1 Flirting with the Frenemy

US: https://amzn.to/2H2PkO8
UK: https://amzn.to/2BSzeTT
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AU: https://amzn.to/2SqmrNV
 
Free in Kindle Unlimited

Also available in audio & paperback

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#2 America’s Geekheart

US: https://amzn.to/2uFoTGY
UK: https://amzn.to/2YHFIz2
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AU: https://amzn.to/2FIOc08
 
Free in Kindle Unlimited

Also available in audio & paperback

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Amazon: https://amzn.to/2WpYdcy 

Apple Books: https://apple.co/39WodA5 

Paperback: https://amzn.to/33qUVqK 

AUTHOR BIO 

Pippa Grant is a USA Today Bestselling author who writes romantic comedies that will make tears run down your leg. When she’s not reading, writing or sleeping, she’s being crowned employee of the month as a stay-at-home mom and housewife trying to prepare her adorable demon spawn to be productive members of society, all the while fantasizing about long walks on the beach with hot chocolate chip cookies.

AUTHOR LINKS

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

Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ThePipsquad 

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ReadPippa 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/pippagrant 

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/pippa-grant 

Website: http://www.pippagrant.com Instagram: https://instagram.com/pippa.grant

Been There Done That by Hope Ellis- Now Live!

Been There Done That, an all-new second-chance romantic standalone by debut author Hope Ellis, is LIVE! 

ZORA LEFFERSBEE’S once perfect life is no longer perfect. Her tenure at the University is in question, funding for her employees uncertain, and her faux-fiancé, Jackson James’s unpredictability is wearing on her last nerve. Just when Zora is convinced things can’t get more complicated, life proves her wrong. 

What the heck is he doing here?

NICK ROSSI’s complicated life is still extremely complicated. He’s used to fighting for everything he has, but he’s also used to winning. Now a man of power and influence, his return to Green Valley after so many years hasn’t gone according to plan, especially with the woman he’s always wanted. 

She can’t know why I left, or why I’m back.

A powerful woman intent on righting the wrongs of the world, Zora doesn’t have time or energy to deal with the man who broke her young heart.

A powerful man intent on righting the wrongs of the past, Nick can’t help wanting to protect Zora, even if his devotion is unrequited. 

‘Been There Done That’ is a full-length contemporary romance, can be read as a standalone, and is book #1 in the Leffersbee series, Green Valley World, Penny Reid Book Universe.

Download your copy TODAY!

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2sEcF4a

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2uafgmG

Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/37eZEge

Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/30DJvi9

AppleBooks: https://apple.co/2R1X5Zn

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Kobo: http://bit.ly/2tBkLuM

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2G351Dj

Add to Goodreads: http://bit.ly/37cbd7X

About Hope Ellis

Hope Ellis is a health outcomes researcher by day and writes romances featuring sexy nerds by night.  She hopes to one day conquer her habit of compulsively binge-watching The Office.

Find Hope Ellis online

Facebook: http://bit.ly/2PszyQ6

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Mum’s The Word by Staci Hart- Now Live!

Mum’s The Word, the third in the Bennet Brothers series from Staci Hart, is LIVE! Grab your copy of this new release today from your favorite online book retailer!

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | AppleBooks | Google

Falling in love with a Bennet is not an option.

My mother has summoned me home to take my place at Bower Bouquets, and as the heiress, I’m expected to do as I’m told. I’m expected to sit by her side as she does her best to decimate the Bennet family and their flower shop, Longbourne. I’m expected to play by her rules, or she’ll ruin me too.

But the day I crash into Marcus Bennet changes everything. And the kiss seals the deal. If my mother finds out, I’ll lose everything—my family, my life, my security. Worse, she’ll make sure the Bennets pay for my mistakes.

Falling in love with a Bennet is not an option.

But I might not have a choice.

Need to catch up on the series? The first two standalone books in the Bennet Brothers series are both LIVE and available from your favorite online book retailer!

Everyone hates parts of their job.

Maybe it’s the paperwork. Maybe it’s the day-to-day grind. Maybe it’s that client who never knows what they want, or the guy who always cooks fish in the microwave.

But not me. I love every corner of the Longbourne Flower Shop, every flower, every petal, every stem. I love the greenhouse, and I love Mrs. Bennet, my boss. I love creating, and I love being a florist. I don’t hate anything at all.

Except for Luke Bennet.

The Bennet brothers have come home to help their mom save the flower shop, and Luke is at the helm. His smile tells a tale of lust, loose and easy. He moves with the grace of a predator, feral and wild. A thing unbridled, without rules or constraint. When he comes home to save Longbourne, I almost can’t be mad at him. Almost.

He doesn’t remember that night I’ll never forget. That kiss, touched with whiskey and fire. It branded me like a red-hot iron. But it meant nothing to him.

Everyone hates part of their job, and I hate Luke Bennet.

Because if I don’t, I’ll fall in love with him.

Amazon | AppleBooks | Kobo | B&N | Google

They say there’s no such thing as perfect.

But I’ve built my life to perfection—the perfect boyfriend, the perfect apartment, the perfect career planning celebrity weddings. My job—my only job—is to make sure every event is absolutely and completely perfect.

What’s not perfect? Kash Bennet.

And I wish I didn’t find that so appealing.

I could have told you every perfectly imperfect thing about the gardener at Longbourne. Like his hair, lush and black and far too long. Or his nose, the flat bridge of a Greek god, bent a little like it’s been broken. Or his size. Beastly. Roped and corded with muscles, gleaming with sweat and peppered with dirt. There’s no escaping him, not if I’m going to use his family’s flower shop for my events.

But nothing is what it seems. And in the span of a heartbeat, my perfect life is turned inside out. They say the best way to get over somebody is to get under somebody new. When Kash offers his services to the cause, it sounds like the perfect plan.

What’s not part of the plan? Falling in love with the gardener.

But they were right—there’s no such thing as perfect.

And I’m the fool who finds out the hard way.

Amazon | AppleBooks | Kobo | B&N | Google

Staci has been a lot of things up to this point in her life — a graphic designer, an entrepreneur, a seamstress, a clothing and handbag designer, a waitress. Can’t forget that. She’s also been a mom, with three little girls who are sure to grow up to break a number of hearts. She’s been a wife, though she’s certainly not the cleanest, or the best cook. She’s also super, duper fun at a party, especially if she’s been drinking whiskey. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, sleeping, gaming, or designing graphics.

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Liar Liar Hearts on Fire- Now Live!

My Take: This was so fun, hilarious, romantic, and full of heart- every thing I’ve come to expect in a Pippa Grant book. There was minimal angst but enough drama to keep it interesting. There were plenty of cameos from people we’ve met throughout Pippa’s worlds but it’s still totally a stand-alone. Just what we need when the world feels like it’s falling apart!


BLURB 

Never borrow pants from your brother. Especially if he’s a size smaller than you are, because all that pressure in the junk will short-circuit your brain.

And you’ll lie to a woman in a club about your real name.

Leave her unsatisfied after making out in a bathroom.

Then find out that she’s the one thing standing in the way of your dreams. And she very much doesn’t like being lied to.

Now I have to convince Lila Valentine—the woman I can’t stop thinking about, my biggest regret, and my new boss—that I’m what’s best for the baseball team she’s inherited.

If we can’t work together to save the Fireballs, the commissioner’s forcing a sale and moving them across the country.

I’ll do anything to save my home team.

But the one thing I can’t do?

Keep my hands to myself. 

Which would be fine, if she hadn’t been telling me lies this whole time too.

Liar, Liar, Hearts on Fire is a rocking fun romance between a single dad obsessed with baseball, an heiress with secrets, baseball pants, a rundown team, and rabid ducks. It stands alone and comes with a guaranteed happily-ever-after.

GOODREADS LINK: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48659250-liar-liar-hearts-on-fire 

PURCHASE LINKS 

US: https://amzn.to/2Qlsqph
UK: https://amzn.to/2QqhMxg
CA: https://amzn.to/3b90Ovg
AU: https://amzn.to/2Qqvqk1 

Free in Kindle Unlimited

Also available in paperback: https://amzn.to/2whwVKD 

EXCERPT

The squawking erupts again nearby and saves me. There are no visible chickens on the field, and it gets louder as we approach the dugout on the first base side.

Louder and more intense.

Very intense.

Like, are there chicken police? Because we might need the chicken police.

I drift directly behind Tripp while we approach the noise, shameless in using him as a human shield if this is a chicken uprising. What’s that movie? The one with the apes that rebel and take over the world? That’s what this sounds like, except with feathers and clucks instead of chest-pounding and grunts.

“Should we call security?” My self-defense classes didn’t cover protecting yourself from rabid chickens.

“That’d be a foul,” he murmurs. And then chuckles to himself, and oh my god.

“Foul—fowl? Like a bird-fowl? Did you just make a dad joke at a time like this?”

“A time like this? You mean a random Tuesday night at a deserted ball field?”

“At a time when the chickens are gathering for a ritualistic sacrifice of one of their own.”

His shoulders shake, and he seems to be struggling to cough.

“Oh, god, did you inhale a feather? Is that how this starts? They shed their feathers to choke us to death?”

“Please don’t talk about chickens and choking in the same sentence.”

“That was not a dad joke.”

“No, it was—oh. Duck.”

I squat low, spinning to see what I’m ducking from.

Tripp flips his flashlight on me. I squint and cover my head. “Stop! I can’t see! What’s coming?”

“Lila. Ducks. Ducks. Not chickens. It’s mating ducks.”

He swings the flashlight to the dugout, and—oh.

Oh.

“Is it…supposed to be that violent?”

There are two ducks under the bench in the dugout, one flapping its wings and chasing the other, who’s squawking so loudly she could wake the dead.

And— “Ohmygod, I did not need to see that!”

Duck penis.

Duck penis.

Oh my god. Duck penis. Duck penis should not look like that.

Tripp’s bent double laughing.

“Where’s security?” I demand. “Hello? Security? Security? I’ll give whoever removes this duck a ten-thousand-dollar bonus. Right now.”

No one comes running for ten grand, because no one can hear me.

The squawking. It’s a cry for help.

“It’s nature,” Tripp says. He’s wiping his eyes now, he’s laughing so hard. “Give ’em a few. They’ll finish up.”

The girl duck is racing back and forth under the bench.

The boy duck is chasing her with that thing.

And I am not having it. “Shoo. Shoo!

“Lila!” Tripp calls, but I’m already gone.

Flapping my arms. Yelling. Charging the dugout and the ducks.

Why are they even here? There’s no pond here. Winter’s coming. They should be flying to the Caribbean for Mai Tais and sunshine.

And instead, they’re ruining the sanctity of my ballpark.

“Shoo!” I yell again.

I hit the stairs down to the long covered bench, and the boy duck suddenly seems to realize I’m coming at him.

He turns, pointing that thing at me, flaps his wings, and gets this evil glint in his eyes that means I really should’ve thought about what I was doing before I came in here.

“Woo her nicely,” I snap.

He squawks—no, quacks at me.

Crap.

I need to go back to kindergarten to learn my animal sounds again. I’m a city girl. We don’t do farm animals.

“And put that thing away!

“Lila.” Tripp’s laughing so hard he’s wheezing. He grabs my elbow and tugs. “Let the ducks be.”

“I’d let it be if he wasn’t attacking her.”

“Maybe that’s how ducks have sex.”

Then maybe ducks shouldn’t exist.”

QQQUUUUAAAACCCCCKKKKK!” the boy duck yells.

It’s like a Braveheart yell, and I realize I’m asking the wrong question.

I shouldn’t be asking why is the duck assaulting the other duck in a dugout?

I should be asking what have humans previously done to this duck because he’s going to kill me?

It charges, wings flapping.

I scream and take off running. Tripp mutters a well-timed, oh, fuck and runs with me. “The other dugout,” he shouts, pointing to the dugout on the third base side.

Another light flashes up in the stands.

“Security!” I yell. “Arrest the duck! Arrest the duck!

It’s gaining on us. Quacking louder. And it can fly. It can fly.

It’s going to swoop over us, poop on our heads, and whack us with that—that—that mutant penis and then scoop us up in its talons, and—”Aaah! It got me. It got me!

It bit me on the butt.

“Don’t fuck with nature,” Tripp grunts.

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AUTHOR BIO 

Pippa Grant is a USA Today Bestselling author who writes romantic comedies that will make tears run down your leg. When she’s not reading, writing or sleeping, she’s being crowned employee of the month as a stay-at-home mom and housewife trying to prepare her adorable demon spawn to be productive members of society, all the while fantasizing about long walks on the beach with hot chocolate chip cookies.

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A painting, a panic room, a thief, and her lover … whose job is to catch her.

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Darius designs security systems for Cipher Security, and the strange and remarkable woman he met the night the painting was stolen is as intriguing a mystery as his hunt for the thief is.

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April White has been a film producer, private investigator, bouncer, teacher and screenwriter. She has climbed in the Himalayas, survived a shipwreck, and lived on a gold mine in the Yukon. She and her husband share their home in Southern California with two extraordinary boys and a lifetime collection of books.

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