Friday, February 27, 2015

Book Review: Reaper's Stand by Joanna Wylde

Reaper's Stand
(Reapers MC Series, Book #4)
by Joanna Wylde
Narrated by Tatiana Sokolov, Sean Crisden


Blurb:
As Reapers Motorcycle Club president, Reese “Picnic” Hayes has given his entire life to the club. After losing his wife, he knew he’d never love another woman. And with two daughters to raise and a club to manage, that was just fine with him. These days, Reese keeps his relationships free and easy—he definitely doesn't want to waste his time on a glorified cleaning lady like London Armstrong.

Too bad he’s completely obsessed with her.

Besides running her own business, London’s got her junkie cousin’s daughter to look after—a more reckless than average eighteen-year-old. Sure she’s attracted to the Reapers’ president, but she’s not stupid. Reese Hayes is a criminal and a thug. But when her young cousin gets caught up with a ruthless drug cartel, Reese might be the only man who can help her. Now London has to make the hardest decision of her life—how far will she go to save her family?


Available for purchase at 

      


Viviana's Review:
First time reading Joanna Wylde and loved it. Great story with great characters. I haven't read the previous books and while I wasn't lost I did feel like I was missing some of the connection so I would recommend reading the previous book. Yes, you can read this as a stand alone, but honestly, I'm guessing the previous books are just as good as this one so why would you want to?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Book Review: Quarterback Draw (Play by Play #9) by Jaci Burton

Quarterback Draw 
(Play by Play #9) 
By Jaci Burton
Narrated by Lucy Malone 

Blurb: 
Playing For Keeps

Grant Cassidy knows how to be a football star—flash that dazzling smile, throw the winning pass, get the girl. But while the hot quarterback loves the game and the lifestyle, no woman has come close to catching his heart. Then he matches wits with a smart, gorgeous model, and Grant finds himself wanting more than a fling.

Supermodel Katrina Koslova might live in a world of glitz and camera flashes, but she works hard to provide for the family that relies on her. She doesn't have time for fun—much less a boyfriend—but Grant seems determined to be the exception to Katrina’s rule.

Their explosive chemistry is undeniable, but Katrina’s afraid to let go and rely on anyone but herself. Grant intends to ease her fears and prove he’s a man of style and substance.


      


Viviana's Review: 
Let me start by saying I've always LOVED the covers of this series and they have always grabbed my attention enough to pick them up and read the blurb. The blurb have also intrigued me, but as the saying goes, too many book never enough time and I've been trying to be oh so good with not over committing myself with reviews. However, when the opportunity came up to review "Quarterback Draw", again, great cover, awesome blurb... OMG - its the 9th book in the series!!! Uhm... can I commit to a new series? How lost am I going to be if I haven't read the previous ones? Do I HAVE to read the previous ones (okay... for many us book-a-holics, if we start a new series mid-way, we WILL go back to the beginning. Its just who we are!!)?  Do I have the capacity to fall in love with a new bookboyfriend? BREATHE!!!! I PMed my fabulous friend and fellow book blogger Kelly from Books-N-Kisses and asked about the series to get her input and yup, she raved about "Quarterback Draw". You can check out her review here if you're curious. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Gift Ideas for the Book Lover #20




Great assortment of items this week! Which one is your favorite? Mine is the last one!

Don't limit yourselves to only holidays or special occasions to get some of these great gift! This weekly series is full of fun and unique gifts for the book lover in your life or for yourself!




Keepsake Alice in Wonderland Pocket Watch Necklace
$32.00 (plus S&H)

This keepsake pocket watch necklace features and very detailed Alice in Wonderland Motif on the front of the case. The Alice motif is securely cast into the front case of the watch. The case itself is copper base with a high quality bronze plating. It measures a large 1-3/4 inches round and overall with the loop measures 2-1/2 inches. Hanging with the watch are two Alice in Wonderland related charms: on Victorian style vintage key and a tea pot both cast in white bronze. The fully functional watch hangs from a silver plated chain that measures 30 inches and closes with a lobster clasp closure.





Harry Potter Coasters, Hogwarts Crests, gifts under 20, tile coasters, Geek Gift Idea, Harry Potter Gift, Book Lovers Gift, Harry Potter
$ 15.00 (plus S&H)

What a perfectly unique and functional gift for anyone you know! 1 in 3 people are Harry Potter fans (that's my own made-up statistic!) It might be 1 in 2. 

These are sure to impress!! My 4 1/4" coasters are ultimately sealed with a clear satin finish. They are water, heat, and scuff RESISTANT. Unlike a lot of coasters out there, my coasters are backed with cork, not felt.

This set of 4 Harry Potter tile coasters will ship in 1-2 weeks. 






I LOVE to READ Ladies 3/4 sleeve raw edge wide neck Raglan Pullover Long Sleeve Shirt
By
 MondayGirlApparel
$28 (plus S&H)

*3/4 sleeve raglan pullover (sleeve cuffs are a bit snug so pushing up as far as the model has is probably as high as you can go up the arm)

*Raw edge wider neck line.

*Super soft and lightweight.

These are a nice true to size fit although if you'd like a little more of the off the shoulder slouchy look, you may want to go up a size.




Just one more chapter 8x8 wood sign- hand painted
By HomeDco
$18.00 (plus S&H)
Our first addition to our new book lovers section inspired by my book loving, reading girls. Jade, Megan and Kaylee. 

The perfect gift for the book lover in your life. A great addition to a personal library or just sitting on a shelf or nightstand. "Just one more chapter" - 

8x8 in white on black background- sanded edges. All wood and hand painted.

Custom orders on sizes and colors excepted.



If items are no longer available, please contact the seller to inquire further information. 



Click here to see more gift ideas!!
Visit us every Wednesdays for more awesome gift/present ideas for you or the 
Book Lover in your life!!! 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tempt Me Tuesday with Mad Hatter Reads 2/24/2015

Tempt Me Tuesday  


Oh... lots of goodies today!!!!


Wow! There are a lot of temptations this week! I guess it’s a good thing that I’ve been saving up. How about you? Is there anything you’ve been waiting for?
 

Armageddon Rules (Grimm Agency, #2) by J.C. Nelson

Armageddon Rules (Grimm Agency, #2)Marissa Locks, newly appointed partner of the Grimm Agency, has a reputation for making a mess of magical matters—although causing Armageddon is a new low, even for her…
Marissa is due for a little happily ever after. After all, she did kill the evil Fairy Godmother, end a war, and snag a sweet promotion within the Fairy Godfather's magical-problem-solving Agency. But between maintaining a relationship with someone whose amorous advances can cause third-degree burns, dealing with a killer-poodle infestation, and helping her best friend, Princess Ari, learn to wield spells more powerful than curing a hangover, she’s not getting as much peace and quiet as she hoped.
When an enemy from her past appears to exact a terrible revenge, Marissa’s life goes from hectic to hell on earth. With Grimm inexplicably gone and Ari trapped by a sleeping spell, Marissa decides to fight fire with hellfire—and accidentally begins a countdown to the apocalypse.
With the end of days extremely nigh, Marissa will have to master royal politics, demonic law, and biblical plagues in a hurry—because even the end of the world can’t keep the Agency from opening for business.
 

Cursed by Fire (Immortal Brothers, #1)  by Jacquelyn Frank

Cursed by Fire (Immortal Brothers, #1)From New York Times bestselling author Jacquelyn Frank comes the scorching hot first book in a thrilling new series featuring four warrior brothers who have the power—and the curse—of immortality.
For centuries, Dethan has been trapped in a fiery inferno for defying the gods and snatching the power of immortality. Condemned to have his battle-hardened body licked by flames only to regenerate and be consumed all over again, Dethan has lost all hope—until the Goddess of Conflict appears. She will release him from torment—if he’ll use his power and strength as a warrior to raise an army and defeat a fierce enemy faction of gods.
Free to live as a man once again, Dethan meets Selinda—heir to the throne of Hexis—and his thoughts quickly turn from the conquest of cities to the conquest of this headstrong beauty. Betrothed to a cruel, calculating powermonger, Selinda needs a champion, and so Dethan enters into another bargain: If she will share her bed—and her body—with him, Dethan will save her city from destructive forces within and without. As the lovers ignite a searing passion, Dethan will risk all—even the wrath of the Goddess of Conflict—for a chance to make Selinda his forever.
 

Fury of Obsession (Dragonfury, #5) by Coreene Callahan

Fury of Obsession (Dragonfury, #5)He can’t escape the sins of his past…
Toxic to all those who touch him, dragon-warrior Venom lives in self-imposed isolation, a prisoner of the poison in his veins. But when a chance meeting with a woman challenges the belief he is destined to be alone, he pulls out all the stops, vowing to put the savagery of his past behind him and take a chance on love.
She doesn’t want to face her future…
Wanted by the Russian mob, creative accountant Evelyn Foxe isn’t looking for love. She searching for the fastest way to escape instead. When Venom offers to get her out of trouble, she accepts his help, but remains skeptical, afraid he’s in league with those sent to harm her. But when someone unleashes a biological weapon in her hometown, and she gets caught in the firestorm, little choice remains—trust Venom to keep her safe or risk her life by going it alone.
 

Grave Matters (Night Owls, #2) by Lauren M. Roy

Grave Matters (Night Owls, #2)Night Owls bookstore always keeps a light on and evil creatures out. But, as Lauren M. Roy's thrilling sequel continues, even its supernatural staff isn’t prepared for the dead to come back to life.
Elly grew up training to kill things that go bump in the night, so she’s still getting used to working alongside them. While she’s learned to trust the eclectic group of vampires, Renfields, and succubi at Night Owls bookstore, her new job guarding Boston’s most powerful vampire has her on edge—especially when she realizes something strange is going on with her employer, something even deadlier than usual.
Cavale isn’t thrilled that his sister works for vampires, but he’s determined to repair their relationship, and that means trusting her choices—until Elly’s job lands all of the Night Owls in deep trouble with a vengeful necromancer. And even their collective paranormal skills might not be enough to keep them from becoming part of the necromancer’s undead army.
 

Her Tiger to Take by Kat Simons

Her Tiger To TakeResisting her is impossible.
After a lifetime of fighting his own kind, Nikolai Chernikov has been in self-imposed isolation for years. The taint of his father’s crimes hangs over him, and of all the infamous Chernikov brothers, Nick is most like their father. The fear that madness is only one bad decision away has kept Nick from seeking a mate for more than ten years. Then she comes into his life—the sexiest, most stunning tiger shifter Nick has ever known. Tatiana is everything he wants. And everything he can’t have.
He’s the only man she’ll accept.
Tatiana Loban-Gupta has tried to find a mate for more than three years. She was starting to lose hope when she caught Nick’s scent and her entire body lit up with need and longing. She’ll defy the rules of their people to answer the combustible chemistry between them, even though getting caught could ruin everything. But Nick’s family history is a wall between them she’s not sure she can breach. A fight with a werewolf pack and facing off against the other tiger males seems easy compared to fighting Nick’s demons. Convincing him to return to the Mate Run will be the hardest thing she’s ever had to do, but for Tatiana, failure is not an option.
 

Honor the Wolf (The Gray Pack, #6) by Lori King

Honor of the Wolf (The Gray Pack 6)Being a Beta wolf in the Gray Pack is one of the highest honors Luke Gray has ever attained, but he wants so much more for himself and his pack. The recent shift in mating habits, has disturbed his idyllic view of their way of life, and worse yet, no one else seems to understand his point of view.
Tavi Reid is a woman full of grit, and determination. She’s come too far, and worked too hard to let an arrogant man with a chip on his shoulder throw her off track. Even if he’s sexy as hell and makes her weak in the knees, she has to stay focused on her daughter and their future.
They are both tested with traumatic new changes to their lives, but will they lean on each other to get them through, or will these two independent individuals end up with disaster on their hands? Honor is not a right, it’s earned.
 

Lion's Share (Wildcats, #1) by Rachel Vincent

Lion's Share (Wildcats, #1)Abby Wade has a dangerous secret.
Two months ago, she disobeyed an order, but instead of kicking her out of the Pride, Jace offered her a job. Since then, she’s been battling a completely inappropriate crush on the young, hot Alpha. But when accepting his job offer seems like the only way to keep her skeletons safely in their closet, Abby doesn’t hesitate.
Jace Hammond has a big problem.
A rogue is slaughtering humans in his territory, and he must eliminate the threat before the entire shifter species is exposed. There could not be a worse time for Abby to accept a job he only offered as a boost to her confidence. Abby is smart, beautiful, and resilient—more than enough to distract any man from the mission. Unfortunately, she may just be the worst enforcer ever to hold the title.
As they hunt the killer, Abby’s secret becomes a threat to Jace’s authority and to her own life. But the real danger is the grip she has on his twice-shy heart.
 

Pack Secrets (Were Chronicles, #12) by Crissy Smith

Pack Secrets (Were Chronicles, #12)Complications never felt so good.
Alex Wilson enjoys his low-key life at his family ranch, spending hours with his horses and being surrounded by his family. He doesn’t know what he’s missing until Angel Salvatore storms into his life.
With the threat to the pack and a new woman in his life, Alex finds himself struggling to take in all the changes. Shocked to his core when Angel declares them mates he has no idea that isn’t even the biggest secret Angel will reveal.
Angel Salvatore is called to come to the aid of the Canyon Pack after rogue agents of her organization attacked. She has no clue that she’ll also find the one person meant to be hers. Not only does Angel have to track down the last three rogue agents but she has a lot of explaining to do to her mate. Alex pushes her to lose control, which has her blurting out the one secret that no one knows.
Revealing the reason why he can’t scent her, and why she has impressive speed and outstanding strength has the potential of destroying everything she’s ever wanted.
Reader Advisory: This book is best read in sequence as part of a series.
 

Revealing the Dragons (Stonefire Dragons, #9) by Jessie Donovan

Revealing the Dragons (Stonefire Dragons, #9)This novella is not a standalone. Please read the boxed set of Sacrificed to the Dragon first.
Melanie Hall-MacLeod finally releases her book about the dragon-shifters. The reception of her book, however, is anything but peaceful.
Tristan wants nothing more than to whisk his mate and two children off to safety, but Mel refuses to hide. As the danger increases and threatens his new family, Tristan battles the need to protect his mate with the need to make her happy.
Can Melanie and Tristan survive the strain between the new danger in their lives and their new twins? Or, will Tristan lose the battle with his inner dragon, surrender to his protective instincts, and take care of the threats at the cost of his mate?
 

Salt & Stone (Fire & Flood, #2) by Victoria Scott

Salt & Stone (Fire & Flood, #2)What would you do to save someone you love?
In Fire & Flood, Tella Holloway faced a dangerous trek through the jungle and across the desert, all to remain a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed for a chance at obtaining the Cure for her brother. She can't quit--she has to win the race, save Cody, and then fight to make sure the race stops before it can claim any more lives. In the next legs of the race, across the ocean and over mountains, Tella will face frostbite, sharks, avalanche, and twisted new rules in the race.
But what if the danger is deeper than that? How do you know who to trust when everyone's keeping secrets? What do you do when the person you'd relied on most suddenly isn't there for support? How do you weigh one life against another?
The race is coming to an end, and Tella is running out of time, resources, and strength. At the start of the race there were one hundred twenty-two Contenders. As Tella and her remaining friends start the final part of the race, just forty-one are left--and only one can win.
 

Shadow Study (Soulfinders, #1) by Maria V. Snyder

Shadow Study (Soulfinders, #1)New York Times bestselling author Maria V. Snyder wowed readers with Poison Study, the unforgettable story of poison taster Yelena. Now she's back with a new tale of intrigue.
Once, only her own life hung in the balance.
Oddly enough, when Yelena was a poison taster, her life was simpler. But she'd survived to become a vital part of the balance of power between rival countries Ixia and Sitia. Now she uses her magic to keep the peace in both lands and protect her relationship with Valek.
Suddenly, though, they are beset on all sides by those vying for power through politics and intrigue. Valek's job - and his life - are in danger. As Yelena tries to uncover the scope of these plots, she faces a new challenge: her magic is blocked. She must keep that a secret - or her enemies will discover just how vulnerable she really is - while searching for who or what is responsible for neutralizing her powers.
Yes, the days of tasting poisons were much simpler. And certainly not as dangerous.
 

Soulbound  (Darkest London, #6) by Kristen Callihan

Soulbound (Darkest London, #6)Once two souls are joined
When Adam's soul mate rejected him, there was more at stake than his heart. After seven hundred years of searching, his true match would have ended the curse that keeps his spirit in chains. But beautiful, stubborn Eliza May fled—and now Adam is doomed to an eternity of anguish, his only hope for salvation gone.
Their hearts will beat together forever
No matter how devilishly irresistible Adam was, Eliza couldn't stand the thought of relinquishing her freedom forever. So she escaped. But she soon discovers she is being hunted—by someone far more dangerous. The only man who can help is the one man she vowed never to see again. Now Adam's kindness is an unexpected refuge, and Eliza finds that some vows are made to be broken.
 

Taming His Mate (Black Hills Wolves, #8) by M. Limoges

Taming his Mate (Black Hills Wolves, #8)It’s a good thing Stephen Dorsett is a patient Wolf—especially since his stubborn mate refuses to accept the bond between them. Though she’s run from him for years, he’s determined to show her she belongs at his side. Nothing will stand between him and his sexy, spitfire she-Wolf.
Kate Matthews lives with a horrible secret. And though she’s loved Stephen for as long as she can remember, she could never be the mate he wants or deserves—especially if he ever learned the truth about her.
When hunters threaten the safety of the Black Hills Wolves pack, Kate overcomes her fears and lays her life on the line. Will Stephen and the rest of the pack accept her once her life-long plight is at last revealed?
 

The Demon Who Loved Me (Big Bad Bite, #3) by Jessie Lane

The Demon Who Loved Me (Big Bad Bite, #3)He’s a gambling man…
One brunette bombshell with a devious mind and a potty mouth has thrust Kent smack dab in the middle of where he never wanted to be—his family. He’s spent most of his life avoiding his familial responsibilities, especially the one that required him to join the Ninth Circle Council—the demon society’s equivalent of judge, jury, and executioner. Then one lost bet with a little Amazon flips his entire life upside down. With worries about retaliation from the remnants of a rogue pack of wolves in Germany, he doesn’t have time to deal with his family, or his obsession with Chloe Demos.
And she’s the biggest risk he’ll ever take…
After her mother’s death, Chloe’s world crashes down around her. A secret Amazonian heritage. Aunts and a long lost brother she never knew about. Supernatural beings. With all of the sudden changes, she’s decided it’s time to step out from behind her fa├žade of an air-headed, materialistic bimbo and show her sisters she truly does love them—she only hates their wardrobes. What better way to show she cares about her family than to help prove someone close to one of them is innocent of the bogus murder charges from some ridiculous council? Chloe has no scruples about calling in the marker the demon Kent owes her in order to do just that. It’s only too bad she’s underestimated Kent’s intelligence, and his playboy charm.
 

The Immortal Who Loved Me (Argeneau, #21) by Lynsay Sands

The Immortal Who Loved Me (Argeneau, #21)A few hours ago, Sherry Carne would have sworn that vampires didn’t exist. That’s before rogue immortals rampage through her store, leaving bloody chaos (literally) in their wake. The kicker comes when Sherry learns that one of the vamps on the bad guys’ trail may be her life mate. Her head says it’s impossible. The rest of her takes one look at Basileios Argeneau and has much more interesting ideas.
Whatever Basil expected in a life mate, funny, outspoken Sherry isn’t it. But mind-blowing chemistry and instinct don’t lie. They tell him something else, too—that Sherry’s connection to the immortal world goes deeper than she knows. And that she’s in the kind of danger only Basil can save her from—if she’ll just trust him, now and forever.
 

The Sin Eater's Daughter (The Sin Eater’s Daughter, #1) by Melinda Salisbury

The Sin Eater’s Daughter (The Sin Eater’s Daughter, #1)Seventeen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she’s engaged to the prince, Twylla isn’t exactly a member of the court.
She’s the executioner.
As the Goddess embodied, Twylla instantly kills anyone she touches. Each month she’s taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love a girl with murder in her veins. Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to Twylla’s fatal touch, avoids her company.
But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose easy smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he’s able to look past Twylla’s executioner robes and see the girl, not the Goddess. Yet Twylla’s been promised to the prince, and knows what happens to people who cross the queen.
However, a treasonous secret is the least of Twylla’s problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies, a plan that requires a stomach-churning, unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favor of a doomed love?
 

Unleashed (Uninvited, #2) by Sophie Jordan

Unleashed (Uninvited, #2)Unleashed, the romantic, high-stakes sequel to New York Times bestselling author Sophie Jordan's Uninvited, is perfect for fans of James Patterson's Confessions of a Murder Suspect.
Davy has spent the last few months trying to come to terms with the fact that she tested positive for the kill gene HTS (also known as Homicidal Tendency Syndrome). She swore she would not let it change her, and that her DNA did not define her ...but then she killed a man.
Now on the run, Davy must decide whether she'll be ruled by the kill gene or if she'll follow her heart and fight for her right to live free. But with her own potential for violence lying right beneath the surface, Davy doesn't even know if she can trust herself.
 

When Irish Eyes Are Haunting (1001 Dark Nights, #14/Krewe of Hunters, #14.5) by Heather Graham

When Irish Eyes Are Haunting (Krewe of Hunters, #14.5)Devin Lyle and Craig Rockwell are back, this time to a haunted castle in Ireland where a banshee may have gone wild—or maybe there's a much more rational explanation—one that involves a disgruntled heir, murder, and mayhem, all with that sexy light touch Heather Graham has turned into her trademark style.
 




Zom-B Bride (Zom-B, #10) by Darren Shan

Zom-B Bride (Zom-B, #10)B Smith has been reunited with the murderous maniac clown, Mr. Dowling. To her shock and consternation, he's desperate to make B his partner in crime. Mr. Dowling disgusts her, but B thinks she can see a way to control him and maybe even save the world. But it will involve a sacrifice far greater and more surreal than any she has contemplated before.
 







Traci

Friday, February 20, 2015

Cover Reveal Blitz: Dance Off by Ariel Tachna & Nessa L. Warin


Dance Off
by Ariel Tachna & Nessa L. Warin

Blurb: 
On the reality show Dance Off, pro rugby player Olivier Gautier and Olympic swimmer JC Webster each have one goal in mind: to stay on the show as long as possible to earn his charity of choice maximum exposure and a larger donation. As the competition heats up, their goals expand to catching each other's interest, but Olivier is firmly in the closet and plans to stay there. JC is willing to be discreet, but not to hide forever.

Starting a romance with another man is challenge enough for any celebrity, but doing it under the microscope of reality TV—and one majorly intolerant costar—is even harder. Add in meddling dance pros, JC’s overbearing family, and the need to play up chemistry with dance partners to win America’s hearts, and JC and Olivier’s time together is looking more and more like a recipe for disaster.

As the pressure to stay in the competition mounts, JC and Olivier must face their inevitable separation at the end of the show as well as decide whether a relationship as complicated as theirs can survive in the real world, outside the bubble of the set and practice studios.





Release Date: 

March 20, 2015


Available for pre-order at 





Excerpt


Olivier Gautier looked around the staging area of the American talk show where the names of this season’s competitors were first announced and sized up his competition. Most of the names and faces were unfamiliar to him, the disadvantage of not being American or living here long enough to be steeped in the culture. Two years spent playing rugby almost constantly had not given him a lot of leisure time. The musician, Freddy, was older and overweight. Olivier had heard tales of people losing twenty or thirty pounds while on the show, but at least at first, Freddy would be at a disadvantage. He dismissed Eugene out of hand. He might be clueless about American culture, but he recognized a bigot when he saw one. Eugene was entitled to his opinions, but Olivier was equally entitled to avoid him. He suspected he’d take enough flak from Eugene for being French. If Eugene knew the rest of his secrets, he’d never hear the end of it. Troy was a competitor but not an athlete. He spent all of his time in his car. His mental toughness couldn’t be discounted, but he didn’t have the body of an athlete. The two other male stars, though, would bear watching. Kevan was a singer, not an athlete, but even looking at him in a conservative shirt and pants, Olivier could see the muscle beneath. The man worked out and kept himself in shape. And then there was JC. An Olympic swimmer with four medals to his name. If anyone in the competition had the physical stamina to compete with Olivier, it would be JC.
JC Webster was about to lean in and say something to Chelsea to break the ice when he saw the rugby player watching him and decided to go say hello. He touched Chelsea lightly on the arm, not wanting to leave her behind, and crossed the stage, taking the long way to get to Olivier so he could avoid walking too close to Eugene. He’d almost missed both Amber and Olivier being introduced, he’d been so busy glaring daggers at Eugene’s back, and he didn’t intend to spend even a second more than he absolutely had to in the man’s presence. Olivier, on the other hand, looked exactly like the kind of person he’d like to know better, and he put on his brightest smile—the one he used at PR events—as he sauntered up, Chelsea right behind him. “Hey. I’m JC.”
“’Ello,” Olivier said. “Olivier Gautier.” He offered his hand. “I watched you swim last year. You are fast.” He winced at the inanity of his comment, but he hated small talk, and living in the US for two years hadn’t made doing it in English any easier.
JC laughed, ducking his head at the compliment even as he took Olivier’s offered hand. He knew he was fast—he wouldn’t have made the US Olympic Team if he wasn’t—but it never stopped embarrassing him to have it so casually mentioned. “Thanks. I’ve never seen you play. Sorry.” He hated that he had to say that, especially since he’d seen all the other contestants in something, but the little time he spent sitting around watching sports was dedicated to American football with his father or cheering the Olympic teammates he’d befriended during the 2012 London Games.
“Rugby is not a well-known sport here,” Olivier said with a shrug. “I knew that when I came to play, but it has been worth it. I don’t know these people, even by name. Only what the host says in the introduction. Who will be competition for us?”
“Deborah, probably. She used to be a gymnast and figure skater, so she’s got some talent in the right area. It looks like she’s stayed in shape too. Other than her….” JC shrugged, mentally sizing up the rest of the stars. “Rini, maybe, or Kevan. They’re not athletes, but they’re in shape, and they’re young enough that the hours won’t be too hard on them.”
“I’d guess either Amber or Makayla too,” Chelsea said, nodding a greeting at Tricia and Olivier. “They’re young and in shape.”
“And a little more interested in how they look than how they dance.” JC knew what his mother and grandmother thought of both women and shared their views.
Chelsea grinned, looking around the stage at the other stars and their partners. “You might be surprised.”
“And Tyler and Joel are fierce competitors,” Tricia, Olivier’s partner, added. “They aren’t afraid to push the boundaries. Not that any of us got here by being lazy or conservative in our dancing, but those two are always the ones to beat, even with partners you wouldn’t expect to do well.”
“And my partner?” Olivier asked with a flirtatious smile. He might prefer to sleep with men, but that didn’t keep him from appreciating a beautiful woman when he saw one. “Is she one to beat as well?”
“With a man like you to lead me around the floor? Hell, yeah.”
JC laughed at the flirting and let his gaze roam over both Olivier and Tricia, hoping Eugene wasn’t watching. He wasn’t ashamed of being bisexual, but he really didn’t want to deal with comments from Eugene tonight. That would be two strikes against him. “I don’t know,” he said, winking at Tricia and slinging his arm around Chelsea’s shoulders. “I think Chelsea got the better end of the deal.” Chelsea laughed and patted his chest. “Of course I did. But I wouldn’t mind trading for Olivier, if you get bored with him, Tricia.”
Olivier would trade with Chelsea too, especially since he knew JC was bisexual. That didn’t mean he was automatically interested in Olivier, but it meant he might be open to persuasion. He’d wait until he knew his partner a little better before saying that where she could hear him, though. They had to work as a team, and if she distanced herself from him because he was gay, they would start the season with a handicap.
“Maybe we’ll get lucky and end up on one of the team dances together,” Tricia said. “If we get that far, of course.”
Olivier looked around the room at the other celebrities again. “We will get that far.”
“Absolutely.” JC flashed a grin, glad he’d found a kindred competitive spirit in Olivier. “Even if we’re all right and everyone we mentioned is competition, that’s still seven, including us. Isn’t that when they start the team dances?”
“Usually. But they like to mix it up sometimes too.” Chelsea glanced over to where Elizabeth, the Dance Off host, was talking to Christine. “Elizabeth might know, but sometimes the producers don’t even tell her until a few weeks ahead of time.”
“It is not worth asking now,” Olivier said. “We have other dances to learn first. Do we have our first assignment?”
“We have a cha-cha,” Tricia said. “What did you get, Chelsea?”
“Fox-trot.” Chelsea rubbed her hand over JC’s chest. “I get to have this one all dressed up in a nice suit.”
JC laughed. “I’m not sure I clean up all that well.” Mostly he felt like a little kid wearing his grandfather’s clothes when he wore a suit, his long limbs always making it hard to find shirts and jackets that fit both in the arms and the torso, and he’d yet to wear one that didn’t feel awkward from the moment he put it on. “I guess we’ll see, though. Do we get to watch the other dancers this year?” He was looking forward to seeing Olivier and Tricia in the revealing outfits that usually accompanied the Latin dances.
“I’m sure you do,” Tricia said, saving Olivier from trying to find a way to say the same thing. “In the meantime, I get to take off Olivier’s shirt.” She ran her fingers down the line of buttons holding Olivier’s dress shirt closed.
“Open, maybe,” Olivier said. “Not off.” He had recovered physically from the car accident that had benched him for a season, but he still bore the scars on his back and left shoulder. He had no plans to go on national TV without them covered.
“Start with open,” JC suggested, his eyes twinkling. “Then if you make it far enough in the season, you can take it off. You don’t want to give the viewers everything the first week.” He’d regret saying that if the first week was Olivier’s only week and he never got the opportunity to see Olivier shirtless, but he’d take open for now.
“You can use it to convince them to vote for you,” Chelsea said with a grin. “Just so long as you don’t take our votes.”
Olivier laughed as he knew they expected him to, but he also knew where his comfort level lay. “We will see, but you will have votes to spare. Everyone knows JC Webster after the Olympics. Me, I’m just an unknown rugby player from France. The judges will have to save me, not the voters.”
“Oh, I think you’ll get plenty of votes on your own, especially if you show your chest.” JC laughed, letting his gaze roam over Olivier again. “Look at the competition.” Troy wasn’t bad-looking—a little scruffy and rugged, perhaps, but not ugly. Kevan and Freddy had a certain appeal in their own way, Kevan with his very boyish looks and Freddy with the kind of face that made people want to like him, but their appeal was limited. Eugene might appeal to the older crowd, though JC thought his personality nullified his classic looks, but none of them could match Olivier for sheer mass appeal. Even JC, with his classic Hispanic looks, couldn’t quite match him, though he wasn’t being arrogant when he thought that he was probably second in line as far as mass appeal went.
Olivier studied the men. “Perhaps, but the men will all vote for Amber or Makayla, and many women may as well because they wish to be like them.”
“That’s probably true,” Tricia agreed, “but there’s nothing like the appeal of a good-looking man, and most of our viewers are female. We’ll look at what our options are and what you’re comfortable with, but don’t discount plain old sex appeal when it comes to winning votes.”
“Just don’t count on it to replace dancing, either,” Chelsea added. “It might get you through a week or two if your dancing isn’t what it should be, but eventually people will vote for the person who can dance over the eye candy.” She glanced up at JC. “That goes for you too.”
JC held up his hands and took a step back. “I’m planning to work hard!” The idea of doing anything less would never occur to him. He was here because it was good publicity now that the Olympics were more than a year in the past and because his mama loved the show and had been thrilled at the idea, but he wasn’t the kind of person who did anything halfway. He’d committed, and he was going to do everything he could to win. Besides, the Trevor Project needed all the funding it could get, and it was something he really did believe in. If he could get that top prize, it would help so many kids.
And probably piss Eugene and his cronies off a lot too.
That was just a bonus, though, not the goal. As his gaze drifted over to Eugene, drawn by the thought, he noticed Carmen, Eugene’s partner, standing off to the side, and he rolled his eyes. “I’ll work with you too,” he added, glaring at Eugene for a moment before turning back to his partner. “I can’t promise I’ll get all the dances, but I’ll do my best to learn.”
That was the attitude that had made JC a champion. Olivier turned to Tricia and asked, “How soon do they let us start?”
“Tomorrow morning at eight o’clock,” Tricia said. “We can hang out and talk all we want tonight when we get to the house you’ll all be staying in, but we can’t start actually training until tomorrow morning. Now, if you decided you wanted to go study videos of previous seasons’ cha-chas, that wouldn’t technically be considered training.”
Olivier laughed. “But perhaps it would still be considered starting too soon. We will start in the morning like everyone else. I am not afraid of long hours of rehearsal. It cannot be harder than long hours of running drills on the rugby pitch.”
“Or long hours in the pool,” JC added with a grin. It would use different muscles, he knew, and he was sure he’d be sore by the end of the day, but the hours wouldn’t be a problem. “If we can’t start until eight, it’ll feel like I get to sleep in.”
Chelsea smirked. “It won’t for long. I promise, you’ll hate mornings within a week.”
JC slung his arm over her shoulders. “Impossible.”
“Tomorrow is the only day with a start time,” Tricia explained. “After tomorrow, you can start as early and work as long as you and your partner can stand each other, but remember that you have fourteen weeks of rehearsal if you make it to the finals. You don’t want to wear yourself out too soon.”
“Part of being an athlete is knowing how to pace yourself so you peak at the right time,” Olivier said. “JC knows this too.”
“Exactly. I know my body, and I’m sure Olivier does too. Just like you do,” he added, squeezing Chelsea’s shoulder.
“Hey, now!” Joel came up on Chelsea’s other side and slipped an arm around her waist. “Are you hitting on my girl?”
“Your girl?” JC raised an eyebrow and took a step back, pulling his arm free of Chelsea’s shoulder.
“Just because she’s your dance partner doesn’t mean she has to give up the rest of her life,” Joel said.
“Joel,” Chelsea scolded. “Quit acting like a jealous boyfriend. We’ve been over this. We hug and kiss and flirt with our partners for the cameras and go home to each other when it’s over.”
“Doesn’t mean I can’t give him a hard time.” Joel stepped free of Chelsea and held his hand out to JC, then Olivier. “It’s nice to meet you both. Just ignore me. I say all sorts of stuff I don’t mean. I have to psych you two out so Makayla can win.” He pulled his partner close, slipping his arm around her waist.
Makayla giggled as she wrapped her arm around Joel, leaning in possessively. Chelsea might get to go home with Joel for now, but it looked like Makayla was going to take advantage of every minute she got to be the one wrapped around him. “That’s right. We’re going to kick your asses. Joel here is the best.”
“It is hard to argue with a record like his,” Olivier agreed before turning to Tricia. “And should I be worried about a jealous lover appearing to steal you away as well?”
“Only a feline one,” Tricia said with a laugh. “She gets pissy if I don’t come home and feed her in the evenings, but she’s the only demand on my time.”
Olivier grinned at her before turning to the other two couples. “And this is why we will win this season. No distractions.”
JC gave Olivier a once-over and curled his lips into a smirk. “Oh, I don’t know. I bet we could come up with one for you.”
Chelsea smacked him lightly on the arm. “Focus! Joel and I are pros at this. Our relationship won’t interfere with us winning.”
“You mean us winning,” Joel corrected.
Olivier left them to their bickering, far more intrigued by JC’s unabashed perusal. Some of the swimmer’s other comments and glances could have been open to interpretation, but there was no missing the frank appraisal in that one. Perhaps this method of filling the off-season would be less tedious than he had imagined.

He smiled slowly, leaving it up to JC to decide how to interpret his reaction. “We will see who the winner is,” he agreed. In more ways than one.



About the Authors


Ariel Tachna lives outside of Houston with her husband, her daughter and son, and their two dogs.  Before moving there, she traveled all over the world, having fallen in love with France, where she met her husband, and India, where she hopes to retire some day.  She’s bilingual with snippets of four other languages to her credit and is as in love with languages as she is with writing.




You can find Ariel at 

         


Nessa L. Warin lives in a fantasy world that’s mostly inside her head, though her physical address is in southwestern Ohio. Her two cats kindly play along with her fantasies and graciously let her pay all the bills, but they do require her to provide pampering on a regular basis. Nessa enjoys exploring the wonders of this world through travel—something her cats strongly disapprove of as it cuts into their pampering time—and can find whimsy in the most mundane places. When the real world becomes too much, Nessa enjoys dressing in costume and going to Renaissance Festivals and fantasy conventions. A short trip to either does wonders for her state of mind, so she makes sure to attend at least one of each a year. These trips help Nessa add to her collection of faerie and dragon art, and she swears she will frame and hang all the prints she’s collected some time soon.

When she’s not living in a fantasy world, Nessa enjoys tasting and learning about wine, particularly since it’s one of the few things she and the rest of her family agree on. She’s a regular at the wine tastings held by her local wine shop, and considers it a sin for her wine rack to have more empty spots than full ones. She’d prefer her wine rack to be filled with Pinot Noir, Malbec, and Syrah, but one of her favorite things about wine is the way it can always surprise her. More than once she’s been taken aback by which wine she likes best at a tasting, and she loves the way her wine rack illustrates the joys of trying new things.


You can find Nessa at 

         







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