First Chapter Friday – Four Letter Words

fourletterwordsbycharlottehoward-500

ISBN: 9781311701978
ASIN: B01F82U040

Laying my head back against the black leather seats of the Jag and gazing ahead, I lifted a finger and touched my lips that were swollen from his kiss. The weariness of the past few weeks was beginning to take over, weighing on my eyelids as they began to droop. I should have been reassured by the man sitting next to me.

I shifted in my seat so I could watch him as he drove on. He was a force that even nature had no hold over. There was an urge to reach out and cling to his broad bicep, a need to feel the security of his physical strength, aching somewhere deep inside of me.

We didn’t speak as he pressed all his weight onto the accelerator, urging the car until it was over the speed limit. I half expected the shine of blue lights to fill the inside of the car, with sirens blaring around us. But they didn’t. Of course they didn’t. Even if a marked car was to pass, I doubted Vance Ellery would slow down, and I had even less that the police would attempt to pull him over. I suspected that the personal phone number of every single high-ranking officer in the country, was tucked away in a neat Rolodex on Vance’s desk or even stored in the memory bank of his mobile phone for easy access.

The silence should have been soothing. I should have been able to let my lashes flutter against my cheeks, and slip into a relaxing slumber. Instead the lack of conversation added to the tension that built behind my eyes. I closed them, hoping that soon I would drift off into a deep sleep, where I would be surrounded by falling flowers, rainbows, and sunlight. Ha! If only I was deserving of such luck. There were no pleasant dreams awaiting me after the sandman visited. Only nightmares wanted to be part of my night. They tormented me, bringing memories that I’d tried to bury and forget. They hounded the darkness, giving me nothing but misery and pain and suffering. It was as though all my sins from a previous life had been rolled over into this one.

If the visions of his face, the sound of his voice had been the only elements of my slumber, then I might have been willing to slip away and let the desperation of rest take me to the shadowed places I dreaded. My soul was destined for torture though. I was to be punished for his crime.

The mere suggestion of sleep forced my blood to pulsate until it was the only thing I could hear, throbbing in my temples. The searing pain of anxiety and panic stabbed at my chest, pins pricking my skin, as I let my eyelids fall. A shudder fell down my spine, waking me from the light doze I’d stumbled into.

Breathe in, breathe out. In with the good, out with the bad. In through the nose, out through the mouth. Breathe in, breathe out. A mantra, taught to me by a yoga instructor years before hell had entered my life, repeated over and over in my mind. I inhaled the cool air through my nasal passages, allowing it to slip down into my painfilled lungs, exhaling all the bad out of my mouth in a gigantic whoosh.

Ahead, the roads were empty, weaving out of the village and headed towards Richart Courts, the hotel that was to be my sanctuary for the next couple of days before I had to face the next challenge. New York City.

How anyone could expect me to go back there was beyond belief. The only logical explanation for their plans for my future was that facing New York was the lesser of the two evils that haunted me, threatening to rip away the seams that had begun to fray around my already tattered edges.

I reached above my head, flipping the visor down and peering at my reflection in

the tiny mirror. My God, I looked a mess. I’d always strived for perfection. I worked and played in a male-dominated world, living with two fully-grown boys, spending my free time being rugby tackled or defending myself against a martial arts master, and until recently, acting as a secretary-cum-personal-assistant-cum-receptionist at a local car body shop. My appearance had been an escape, showing off my femininity and sexuality. I wore my brunette mane long, although it spent most of its time restricted by a piece of elastic. I made sure that my wardrobe was bursting with dresses, fitted jeans, and heels of a ridiculous height. My makeup was always immaculate.

Not now though. I stared at the ghost in the mirror. Ashen skin in desperate need of a deep cleansing facial, lank hair that could have been anywhere between dark blonde and light brown, but the grease on it made it difficult to tell, and puffy, naked eyes, ringed by a distinct lack of rest.

I made a mental note to book myself into the spa once we arrived at the hotel. I was long overdue for some pampering. A Swedish massage wouldn’t go amiss either. The idea of a good-looking man, pressing down into the aching sinew of my shoulders and neck brought a small smile to my lips. Perhaps I would take a long-needed trip to the hairdressers as well, maybe even treat myself to a makeover…

Flipping the visor back into place, I glanced towards the man driving and wondered if he’d oblige on the massage request. It was doubtful. Vance Ellery paid for masseuses, he didn’t act as one. Not unless it was leading somewhere that would pleasure him as well. I clucked my tongue against the roof my mouth and shifted back into my seat, keeping my eyes on him.

A smirk flickered across his lips as though he could read my sordid thoughts.

Chewing on my bottom lip, I stared straight-ahead as Richart Courts came into view. Illustrious and grand were the only words I could think of to describe the hotel, with its rolling grounds that spread over at least a hundred acres, if not more. I knew that behind the building was a state-of-the-art eighteen-hole golf course Vance played on when conducting business with local councillors and MPs.

Inside was as palatial, with gold-leaf filigree, marble flooring, and impressive Colonial columns supporting an expansive ceiling. And that was just the hotel lobby.

The rooms were even more decadent.

The Jag rolled to a stop at the bottom of the steps. Vance stepped out, and I waited as one of the young boys, dressed in a fine combination of cream trouser, wine-red coat with gold buttons, and gleaming white gloves, standing by the front of the hotel skipped down the stairs and opened my door for me. Words were exchanged along with keys, but no tip was given. Why would he hand a few notes over to the lad when he already paid his wages? It still hadn’t sunk in that my lover not only owned Richart Courts, but hotels around the world, including in New York, as well as several other affluent businesses.

We walked past the front desk without saying a word. There was no need to inform reception of our arrival, sign ledgers, or accept key-cards when the entire top floor was ready for him at all times. I followed in his shadow, side-stepping into the lift, and watched as he pressed the button marked ‘Private’. I’d never noticed that before…

I glanced up at him. Dark indigo eyes stared straight ahead. The muscles in his cheeks twitched. I could watch him all day, with those hooded eyes, always looking beyond my skin, and that straight nose leading to lips that urged me to kiss them.

I opened my mouth to say something to break the silence, but nothing came to mind. What would I say? Sorry? He wouldn’t want to hear it. Thank you? Again, a pointless remark that would garner me nothing but an astute glare and perhaps a kiss to shut me up. The thought of a kiss was almost tempting. I could… No. I was powerless beneath him, even when we didn’t touch. He was a formidable man, one that most feared to anger. Yet somehow, it was the one thing I was good at, infuriating him.

Shifting my stance, I felt the cold glass behind me press into my back and shoulders. It was almost as soothing as a hot bath would have been at that moment.

I opened my mouth and let out a sigh of relief. He looked down and smirked. Goddamn his smirkiness. It was a trait I’d noticed ran in his family, finding its way to his son’s lips as readily as it did his. A snarl rumbled in the base of my throat as I thought about him and his son.

That was it. My mind sprang towards Matthew Jackson, the other man in my life. I hated myself for the way I’d left things with him. But it was for the best, or so I kept trying to convince myself. The best for whom? Certainly not me. He’d confessed his undying love to me. Well… Perhaps not undying… But he had said that four letter word most women long to hear. It only hurt that it had come from the wrong person.

Still, looking up at the man beside me, I knew that he loved me. He didn’t have to say it. He showed it on a regular basis. The way he held me, the way he would do anything to protect me… I didn’t need to hear it slip from between his lips.

The bell of the lift dinged, the sound reverberating off the reflective walls, indicating our arrival. We stepped out and headed towards the door that separated the hallway from our privacy. I took a deep breath before stepping over that threshold, preparing myself for the future I was about to bring upon myself.

I had to face up to my past. But I was unsure. Was I ready for the fight that lay before me? Only time would tell. Time, and Vance Ellery.

 

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Smashwords Sale (Facebook sucks…)

Yes, it’s that time of year again! It’s time for a Smashwords Summer Sale.

Facebook found this ad extremely offensive and sexually explicit, so any kind of marketing has failed miserably. But, I know my lovely readers, fans, and followers will be happy to share either this post or the Facebook ad on my page.

Smashwords Sale!

Getting ready to hit the beach? Need something to read in the airport or by the pool? Are you a teacher looking for a book NOT aimed at children? Head over to Smashwords and take advantage of their summer sale. Load up your e-reader with fabulously sexy books, with up to 50% off!

Stranded – FREE
City Nights Titles – 99c
A Different Kind of Therapy – 25% off
Tirgearr Titles – 50% off

 

Take advantage of the sale and fill your ereader with some great books!

What The Reviewers Are Saying:

Stranded: 5-STARS “I would imagine that things could easily get pretty intense when you’re in a spot like theirs. As it turns out, intense and steamy would be a better choice of adjectives!”

One Night in Edinburgh: 5-STARS “This story had me wanting more and definitely had me wanting to visit Edinburgh.”

One Night in Inverness: 5-STARS “It’s a very real and believable story with realistic characters who for once are not perfect. Hot sex scenes, emotionally charge story, splash of humour, lovely setting. A very enjoyable read for anyone who likes a sexy romance.”

One Night in Aberdeen: 5-STARS “Super, sexy read with great characters. Finished reading it in one sitting. Loved it!”

The Final Straight: 5-STARS “Keep [sic] me on the edge of my seat the entire time.”

Seven Dirty Words: 5-STARS “People are linking it with 50 shades of grey…but in my opinion this book is so much better…better story and definately [sic] better written!”

Four Letter Words: 5-STARS “A fantastic fabulous read, couldn’t put it down, an excellent conclusion to the story, for me I prefered these books to 50 shades. I will look out for more Charlotte Howard to read.”

The Black Door: 5-STARS “A really well written getaway. I enjoyed loosing [sic] myself in the story, so much so that I can’t believe I have finished and it’s time to go back to real life.”

A Different Kind of Therapy: 4-STARS “This is a quick, filthy, fun read, suitable for anyone getting into kink. It’s particularly good if you prefer your heroines sparky and smart, and are happy with the idea of switching and table-turning.”

And of course, don’t forget that Later is still available to read for free on Kindle Unlimited! You can also buy both Later and Taking Care of Leah in paperback if you prefer.

 

Later: 5-STARS “It takes a lot for a book to draw me in – but this one I couldn’t put down! I really enjoyed the storyline and was intrigued as to how it would end.”

Taking Care of Leah: 4-STARS “I liked the real-life developing intimate relationship, where Ty is keen to encourage Leah into BDSM, and she’s curious to try it. The need to develop trust, respect and care is nicely woven into the storyline.”

 

 

Cover Reveal—Fluffy by Julia Kent (@jkentauthor)

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Release date:  April 30, 2019

Genre: Romantic Comedy, Contemporary Romance

Description:

An all-new STANDALONE from New York Times bestselling author Julia Kent

It all started with the wrong Help Wanted ad. Of course it did.

I’m a professional fluffer. It’s NOT what you think. I stage homes for a living. Real estate agents love me, and my work stands on its own merits.

Sigh. Get your mind out of the gutter. Go ahead. Laugh. I’ll wait.

See? That’s the problem. My career has used the term “fluffer” for decades. I didn’t even know there was a more… lascivious definition of the term.

Until it was too late.

The ad for a “professional fluffer” on Craigslist seemed like divine intervention. My last unemployment check was in the bank. I was desperate. Rent was due. The ad said cash paid at the end of the day.

The perfect job!

Staging homes means showing your best angle. The same principle applies in making a certain kind of movie. Turns out a “fluffer” doesn’t arrange decorative pillows on a couch.

They arrange other soft, round-ish objects.

The job isn’t hard. Er, I mean, it is — it’s about being hard. Or, well… helping other people to be hard.

Oh, man…

And that’s the other problem. A man. No, not one of the stars on the movie set. Will Lotham – my high school crush. The owner of the house where we’re filming. Illegally. In a vacation rental.

By the time the cops show up, what I thought was just a great house staging gig turned into a nightmare involving pictures of me with an undressed naked star, Will rescuing me from an arrest, and a humiliating lesson in my own naivete.

My job turned out to be so much harder than I expected. But you know what’s easier than I ever imagined?

Having all my dreams come true.

Pre-order:

AmazonUS: smarturl.it/fluffyAMZus

azonUK: smarturl.it/fluffyAMZuk

AmazonCA: smarturl.it/fluffyAMZca

AmazonAU: smarturl.it/fluffyAMZau

Nook/BN: smarturl.it/fluffyBN

Apple Books: https://apple.co/2RmE159

Kobo: smarturl.it/fluffyKobo

Google Play: smarturl.it/fluffyGP

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2TjDjqS

Bookbub: http://bit.ly/2ThoLrZ

Excerpt:

“It is time to DANCE! Find a partner and hold each other’s hands, facing one another.”

Five women start walking toward Will.

“Mal?” Shyness infuses his question, sending chills up and down my arms and legs. They settle at the base of my neck, riding shotgun next to the arousal centers of my nervous system. He’s adorable, one hand out to me, eyebrows slightly up, blue-green eyes asking to dance with me but hinting at more.

Or… am I inventing that part?

“Sure,” I say, instantly regretting my answer. Does it sound grudging? He doesn’t seem to think so as I take his hand and stand before him, tall in my high heels but he’s even taller. Looking at him from this height makes him even more human, more masculine, more real.

My heart skips a beat.

But the music sure doesn’t.

“Now, the ‘man,’” Philippe starts, using finger quotes because there are several female-only couples in the class, “puts one hand on the woman’s waist. The right hand.”

Will complies.

It’s like sticking my finger in a light socket and orgasming at the same time.

His left hand takes my right hand and he holds it, strong and firm, smiling at me with a boyish grin that makes me feel instant remorse for hurting him today.

“I’m sorry I bashed your head in,” I whisper, moving near his ear, our mouths inches apart.

There is a gap between us. My lungs live there, in that space. They breathe. I don’t make a move. My autonomic nervous system works without intention. If it didn’t, I’d die.

Because I would hold my breath forever in Will’s arms.

Philippe is moving from couple to couple, adjusting positions, commenting and correcting.

“Closer,” Philippe says right behind me, the press of his firm palm against my lower back a shock as he pushes me into Will, closing that gap.

My autonomic nervous system gives up entirely.

Look into each other’s eyes,” Philippe commands, his accent making this even sexier. “When you dance, you show your love with your hips, your eyes, your languid grace. You are making love in public with your bodies, fully clothed.”

Is Will holding his breath, too?

“Your hand goes here, Mallory,” the teacher says, taking my left hand and putting it on Will’s shoulder. My breasts brush against his chest, our breathing ragged. I try to look away, but we’re too close. All I can do is look at his eyes or his mouth, and right now, both are so, so dangerous.

No one else in the room exists. The light that bounces off the polished floors is ours. The murmurs and giggles in the background are ours. The way he breathes my air and I inhale him is ours, too. We’re touching, my thigh against his, and every warm part of Will Lotham’s front half that is decent to display in public is rubbing against me.

Except his lips.

“Now, take one step forward,” Philippe says. “Together.”

Will steps on my foot. Hard.

I make a very unfeminine sound and start to pitch backwards. Tightening his grip on my waist, his hand sliding, open and splayed, across the small of my back, he saves me from a complete wipeout.

But that save has its costs.

In an instant, all traces of that teenage girl in me are gone, disintegrating, turned to stardust that sweeps off me like a fine spring breeze. I am all woman now, mature and wanting.

All I want is this. Now. The man before me, his arms warm and assured, grasp confident and bold.

And very much wanting me back.

Author Bio:

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Julia Kent writes romantic comedy with an edge. From billionaires to BBWs to new adult rock stars, Julia finds a sensual, goofy joy in every contemporary romance she writes. Unlike Shannon from Shopping for a Billionaire, she did not meet her husband after dropping her phone in a men’s room toilet (and he isn’t a billionaire). She lives in New England with her husband and three sons in a household where the toilet seat is never, ever, down

Social Media Links:

Website:  http://jkentauthor.com/

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

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/jkentauthor

Newsletter:  http://bit.ly/2PIBi9n

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/jkentauthor/

Bookbub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/julia-kent

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3238619.Julia_Kent

Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Julia-Kent/e/B00A99V268/

Cover reveal organized by Writer Marketing Services.

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The Final Straight #99p #99c #romance

BUY LINK: mybook.to/FinalStraight

To celebrate Valentine’s, The Final Straight has been reduced to 99p / 99c on Kindle

Blurb:

April Miller works for her best-friend, Max Knight on his livery and competition yard. Their friendship has withstood many turbulent times, and while April is deeply in love with Max, she is also aware of his womanising ways and has refused to succumb to his flirtatious charms. When her ex, AJ, suddenly comes back with a business proposal, April finds herself torn between the two men.

Extract:

April stared at the few black blobs on the screen. She knew they should have formed sentences, but her mind was elsewhere and unable to create readable words out of the muddle. The biro’s plastic end crunched between her back teeth.

She’d managed as much as ‘Dear AJ,’ when a knock on the door disturbed her. Max poked his head around and gave her the same soulful puppy-eyed look he always did after he’d managed to upset her.

“What do you want, Max?” she asked, pretending to be engrossed in whatever was on her screen.

“Peace offering,” he said, walking in and putting the mug of tea by the mouse pad.

She looked up at him. The frustration and irritation faded. “I’m sorry for snapping.”

Max sank into the chair opposite. “I’m sorry for…”

April raised her eyebrows, waiting for him to finish the sentence. “Shagging everything in sight?” she suggested. “You need to watch yourself.”

“I know.”

“I don’t think you do. Every time your bedroom antics are flaunted, I get a phone call. Six o’clock this morning and Banks was on the phone screeching at me. You hadn’t even got out of the shower and I was helping him load his horses onto a lorry.”

Confusion spread across his face, giving him the look of an innocent teenager.

“She woke up, and you weren’t there,” April reminded him. “Of course she’s going to ring her dad, who, may I remind you, has a shotgun license. You’re lucky it was only money he was cutting off.”

Max winced. “I am sorry.”

April hummed, not sure whether to believe him. “They are the second client we’ve lost this month because of you. I’m fed up of having to placate pissed off husbands and fathers.” She rubbed at the corners of her eyes as her contact lenses began to itch. “We have a board meeting next week. Please don’t make me ask them for more money.”

“Hey,” he cooed, sweeping around to her. He knelt by her leg, taking her pale knuckles in his hands. “You won’t need to.”

“I will if we run out and I can’t pay the bills. I can’t afford to forfeit my wage to support this place.”

“No,” he said, with a shake of his head. “That won’t happen.”

“I do have something for you to consider.”

“What? Anything if it will cheer you up.”

“The college rang and asked if we’d be willing to take on a work experience girl over the summer holidays.”

He dropped her hands, stood up, and began to pace in front of the desk. “You know how I feel about that.”

“It would be free labour, good publicity, and we’d be helping her out. Good karma, which is something I think you need.”

“I just have…” he hovered around the words. “Standards.”

“I’m asking you to hire her, not sleep with her.”

He scooped her into his arms and carried her up the stairs. “I love you, April Miller, and tonight I_m going to prove it.”He scooped her into his arms and carried her up the stairs

What the readers are saying:

I can remember some of the first horse stories I read as a child and this is NOT one of those, no, this is a story for grownups who want a love story with a complex plot . . . I have to say that I enjoyed this story written in British dialect. As an American it is always intriguing to learn new terminology and phrasing while reading a new story. The flashbacks were numerous but fit in with the story . . . I liked the characters in the book and was rooting for April to make the right decision in the end. ~ Cathy Geha, Goodreads

• • •

The Final Straight is a straightforward; no holds barred sort of romance, and rather fun to get caught up in. Author Charlotte Howard makes excellent use of time jump to convey the back story of her characters. The plot is sensational enough to be fully believable to most equestrians, and the pacing is spot on. There is a comfortably familiar edge to this novel: it fits within its genre precisely as it ought to. Whilst the central characters are far from being perfect people, they are exactly the right people to carry this storyline. A fine balance is kept between poignancy and insufferableness – it is difficult not to want to intervene and tell them all to see sense! And that is undoubtedly a key aspect where this sort of romantic fiction is involved. Although far from a novice read, given the explicit nature of some of the material, this novel remains forward going enough to satisfy from start to finish. With just enough personal tragedy and growth in the mix, it is a thoroughly enjoyable journey to follow. ~ E.V. Greig, Goodreads

• • •

A gripping story . . . A little bit of every emotion and enough twists to make you want to see it through to the end. ~ Natalie, Goodreads

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Book Review: Murder at the Book Club by Betsy Reavley #amreading #murdermystery #bookreview

Murder at the Book Club

Blurb:

Imagine nine women meeting. Tea and cake are on the coffee table. They’ve come together to share their love of books. They are friends. They trust each other. It’s a happy gathering. What could be more harmless?

Then scratch the surface and look closer.

One is lonely. One is desperate and one of them is a killer.

When the body of a woman is discovered on a Cambridge common, DCI Barrett and DI Palmer are called in to investigate. But the motive behind the crime isn’t clear…  And it all leads back to a book club.

As the lies, volatile friendships and tension among the group rise to the surface, DCI Barrett and DI Palmer must work out the motive and track down a cold-blooded killer. But just when they think they are on the right track, a twist in the case throws them off course…

Review:

**3.5 stars**

This was the first book by Betsy Reavley that I’ve read. Murder at the Book Club is a murder-mystery that surrounds a group of women in a book club. After two of them are killed, the police uncover a host of secrets and lies that the women have been living with for years.

I started out really enjoying the book, and could tell from the beginning that it was going to be akin to Midsomer Murders – a cosy murder-mystery, but maybe a little cliched. It was a good idea, and I did like storyline / plot, however, I felt it was let down by the stereotyped characters.

Writing wise, I noticed a few minor errors that were missed in editing, such as the comment in Toni’s POV that they enjoyed a glass of chardonnay at the book club (in the first chapter), which was quickly followed by her disgust that some of the members turned up with wine, and she preferred to drink tea.

The book is written in third-person omniscient. For me, this didn’t quite work and took me out of the story a few times. I don’t enjoy switching POVs as it can be confusing, but this is just me and it may work for other readers.

Saying that, it was a quick read and didn’t require too much thinking. I would consider this a “holiday read”. Would I read it again? Probably not. But, I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys cosy, Hallmark-type murder mysteries.

Want to read it for yourself? Murder at the Book Club is available to buy: HERE.

This review is also available on Goodreads and Amazon UK. 

Guest post: Ellen Whyte #romance

Love curvy confident fun-loving heroines and hunky billionaires? Look no further!

Curvy and Confident 

By Ellen Whyte

A 2-in-1 bundle comprising of two complete novels:

His Competent Woman  &

His Laughing Girl

257 pages / 3 hour read

Price US$3.99

His Competent Woman

In desperate need for money, Emma applies for a job with handsome
billionaire Curtis West. She’s not really qualified for the job and to
make matters worse, she loses her temper during the interview and fudges
her credentials. Can she pull it off or will this end in tears? A sweet romance with no explicit adult scenes.

His Laughing Girl

Curvy chef Sophie Weston has given up on love. But when she is hired to
cater for a very exclusive house party, she falls instantly for handsome
tech tycoon Richard Cummings. However, she quickly discovers that
Richard has a shady past. Should she trust him or should she walk away
before her heart is broken again? A fun uplifting romance with a big
beautiful woman and a yummy billionaire.

100+ positive ratings on Amazon and Goodreads!

 

 

 
Want to read the books on Kindle Unlimited?

Read His Competent Woman on KU

Ellen Whyte writes contemporary romance with sweet curvy girls. Her dark side comes out when she writes MC, Mafia, Cartel and super dark fantasy romance as AJ Adams.
If you want to, please feel free to stalk her on her private Facebook page, open to the public, no
Friend request needed. (Warning: she
loves cats!)