Release Blitz + Giveaway – Determined To Master – by BJ Wane @bj_wane #bdsm #erotic #RomanticSuspense

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DETERMINED TO MASTER
BJ Wane
Determined to Master
Genre: Erotic Romance, Suspense, BDSM
Publisher: Blushing Books
Publication Date: June 29, 2018
They were happy to be Richmond’s most sought after bachelors until fate paired them each with a woman they couldn’t resist.
Six wealthy bachelors, content playing the field and indulging in their BDSM kinks.
Five women who enter their lives unexpectedly, each bringing issues most men would steer clear of.
They aren’t most men. They’re dominant. Possessive. And ruthless when someone they care about is threatened.
Contains all five books in the Virginia Bluebloods series, hot, alpha males, strong but vulnerable women, and HEA’s.
Determined to Master Teaser 1
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Book Excerpt
from Bind Me to You

Dec didn’t know what he would do, how he’d react if she said no. Thank God he didn’t have to find out because, with a look of relief, she followed him to the elevator without a word. He couldn’t recall a time when he’d wanted a woman more, not even in his horny college days when women were all he’d thought about. It’s just pent up frustration from pent up lust he told himself as they exited the elevator and he led her into the first room on the right. From the way his cock pressed with painful insistence against his zipper, he felt as if he could explode any second. He knew he would’ve had no qualms about hauling her outside and taking her against the brick side of the warehouse if he had found all the second floor, private rooms taken when he’d stopped on this floor on his way downstairs earlier.
“Strip,” he ordered without preamble, tightening his jaw against the surge of possessive pleasure he experienced eyeing the cuffs he had left on her wrists and ankles. They were wide, thick and bulky. He wanted her to know she had them on, know who put them there and accept what they meant as long as she wore them. Her hands shook as she finished unbuttoning her top, her expressive eyes shifting away from his when she shrugged it and her bra off her shoulders. Holding out his hand, he took them, saying, “Now the skirt.”
Camille kept quiet, afraid if she said anything it would be the wrong thing and he’d send her away. With her palms sliding flat against her waist, she lowered the skirt, taking her panties the rest of the way down with it, conscious of the heavy feel of the cuffs. They were bulky and cumbersome around her wrists and ankles, but strangely comforting in a weird, somewhat sexual way. She assumed he would remove them when he finished with her, and she’d been both relieved and pleased he wasn’t ready to end the night just yet. She had difficulty swallowing around the lump of vulnerability stuck in her throat when she stood naked before him, but as his gaze took a slow slide down her body, hot enough to inflame her smoldering arousal, her body responded with its usual fever.
Determined to Master Teaser 3
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About BJ Wane

I live in the Midwest with my husband and our two dogs. I love dogs, enjoy spending time with my daughter, babysitting dogs and kids, reading and working puzzles. We have traveled extensively throughout the states, Canada and just once overseas, but I now much prefer being homebody. I worked for a while writing articles for a local magazine but soon found my interest in writing for myself peaking. My first book was strictly spanking erotica, but I slowly evolved to writing erotic spanking romance with a touch of suspense. My favorite genre to read is suspense.
BJ Wane’s Email: bjwane@cox.net
Official website: http://bjwane.blogspot.com/
Social Media Links: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Determined to Master Teaser 5

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Book Tour + #Giveaway – Gideon and the Crimson Samurai – by R.L. Baxter @WriterRLBaxter #Fantasy

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GIDEON AND THE CRIMSON SAMURAI
R.L. Baxter
Gideon and the Crimson Samurai
Series: Gideon and the Crimson Samurai Book 1
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Ricky Lee Baxter
Publication Date: December 1, 2014
A timeless tale about friendship, family and betrayal
Gideon Joust is your average twelve-year-old boy, with all the growing insecurities one would expect, following the mysterious disappearance of his father. On one fateful day, the boy’s world is turned upside down – leading to a chance encounter with a brash child warrior: Kibishi the Crimson Samurai.

Purchase Links

Book Tour Schedule

Follow the book tour from June 13 – 26, 2018.
Join us and visit each tour stop daily and discover more features, excerpts, reviews, interviews, fun facts and more! To check the latest tour schedule, visit the Gideon and the Crimson Samurai Book Page at Book Unleashed.

Excerpt

Kibishi: (I cannot protect anyone, not even myself. That encounter with my brother today showed me that I am completely helpless. If Albion hadn’t of saved us, Gideon would be dead, and there would be nothing I could do about it. Oh Mr. Evan, where are you? If you’d only make your presence known, things would be much easier. If only I were stronger, then I would be able to protect the ones dear to me. Mr. Evan, Gideon, Jill and Juni. I want to protect them all, but I don’t know where to start. Why is this all the difficult?

The samurai weeps – trying his best to suppress the sad emotions that fill him. At that moment, Albion surprisingly steps into the open with his trusty bow along his back.
Albion: Well, you didn’t go very far I see. What are you doing on the ground, eating dirt? We have apples back at our base.
Kibishi: Shut up Albion. Now is not the time for your jokes. Besides, what are you doing here?
Albion: I came to talk to with you.

After short moments, the archer and samurai sit by the stream, looking out over the dull sunset. They remain quiet – Kibishi looking troubled, while Albion smiles evermore.
Kibishi: I still stand by what I said. We will part ways once we reach Valero. I cannot allow Gideon to follow me any further, he’ll only end up dead.
Albion: I understand. However, do you still stand by the other thing you said? The thing about: “Whoever said you and I were friends?” You didn’t honestly mean that – did you?
Kibishi: No… I didn’t mean that. I just don’t want Gideon to trust in me – that’s all.
Albion: And why would you not want somebody to trust you? Friendship is based on trust after all?

Taking a moment to think about his reply, Kibishi bites his lips together while Albion awaits his answer.
Kibishi: When you trust someone… you expect much from that person. You rely on them and look to them for help. I am not capable of doing any of those things, hence why I am not suitable to be Gideon’s friend. If something ever happened to him, I would never forgive myself.
Albion: Hahaha, you and Gideon are so similar. You both are burdened with this cloud of doubt and self-pity. However, if there is one thing that I would criticise about your friendship, it’s that you both assume Gideon to be weak when he is in fact more capable than anyone here.

With a suspicious expression, Kibishi glares upon Albion for many moments.
Kibishi: What are you trying to say?
Albion: Come now, Crimson samurai. You mean to tell me that the thought did not cross your mind, at least once? Gideon is the son of the famous “Miracle Gunman”. Why are you treating him as a weak comrade? That is not a good sign of a friend. Real friends trust one another, regardless of what perils lie ahead.
Kibishi: Just because Gideon is the son of Mr. Evan, doesn’t mean he possesses any of his capabilities. I haven’t seen any indication of it.
Albion: Maybe it’s because you’re not using your eyes properly. I see it and his power is so great, none have a choice but to bend to his will.

Unable to contain his amusement, Kibishi bursts into laughter.
Kibishi: Hahaha, “bend to his will?” Are you trying to tell me that Gideon is some sort of God now?

Other Books by R.L. Baxter

Check out the other books in the Gideon and the Crimson Samurai series by R.L. Baxter.
Savior
Savior (Book Two)
Thanks to Kibishi’s help, Gideon was able to know the truth of his father. However, before they have time to accept his fate, Kenoke appears – bringing to light a sinister ambition.
Buy Link: Amazon

About R.L. Baxter

R.L. Baxter

Ricky Baxter is the author of Gideon and the Crimson Samurai and a slew of short novellas. He is an avid blogger, giving advice and thoughts to fellow creators from all walks of life. Currently he lives in Tokyo Japan, where he writes and blogs. Starting out as a composer since graduating with a Ba(Hons) in music and multimedia, Ricky worked for many independent short film directors, gaining notable IMDB credits . Since then, he has embraced his earlier passion of writing fictional stories.

Giveaway

WIN $10 GIFT CARD AND MORE
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Prizes up for grabs:
1. $10 Amazon Gift Card
2. eBook Copy of Mother Gaia by Ricky Baxter
Contest runs from June 13 – 26, 2018.

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Book Tour + #Giveaway – It’s All About the Duke [The Rakes of St. James #3] by Amelia Grey #historical #romance

It's All About the Duke
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE DUKE
New York Times Bestselling Author
Amelia Grey
Series: The Rakes of St. James Book 3
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: May 29, 2018
He could be a rake if he means only to steal a kiss but steals your heart as well.
Nearing thirty, the Duke of Rathburne is finally ready to make amends for the wager that caused him and his best friends such scandal, but taking on a ward who needs a husband is a feat he’s not sure he can manage. The last he saw of Miss Marlena Fast, she was a spirited little ruffian, not the sort of bride most bachelors on the marriage mart sought. But one glance at the lovely lady she has become is enough to convince him otherwise…
Orphaned young and shuffled from family to family, Marlena counts on her fierce independence and quick wits to keep herself content. Being the responsibility of a notoriously wicked duke who upended so many lives is an unexpected challenge when she realizes he arouses her decidedly feminine desire. Marlena must be careful. She has her own scandalous secret to protect. If he finds out, will it shatter her chances of a happily-ever-after with the notorious rake?

Purchase Links

Schedule

Join the tour from June 1 – 21, 2018
Join us and visit each stop daily! Discover features, excerpts, reviews, interviews, fun facts and other extras about the book! To check the latest tour schedule, visit the It’s All About the Duke Book Page at Book Unleashed.
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About Amelia Grey

Amelia Grey

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Amelia Grey read her first romance book when she was thirteen. She’s been a devoted reader of love stories ever since.
Amelia has been happily married to her high school sweetheart for over thirty-five years and she lives on the beautiful gulf coast of Northwest Florida.
With more than thirty books published, she is a two-time winner of the prestigious Booksellers Best Award. She’s also won the Aspen Gold, and the Golden Quill Awards. Writing as Gloria Dale Skinner, she won the coveted Romantic Times Award for Love and Laughter and the Maggie Award. Amelia’s books have been published in Europe, Indonesia, Turkey, Russia, and Japan.
Several of her books have been featured in Doubleday and Rhapsody Book Clubs.
Amelia’s Email: ameliagreyauthor@gmail.com
Official website: http://www.AmeliaGrey.com

Giveaway

WIN ONE OF TWO $25 GIFT CARDS
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Prizes up for grabs:
2 x $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble Gift Cards

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Release Blitz – Untamed Hearts – by Colleen O’Connell #historical #romance

Untamed Hearts
UNTAMED HEARTS
Colleen O’Connell
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Publication Date: June 4, 2018
Two destinations lead to one destiny
Fleeing her wavering feelings for her fiancé, Taryn Ashford boards a westbound train to visit relatives. Her journey awakens unbridled passion with the dangerously handsome, Jared King. When Jared is accused of murder, she is faced with providing him an alibi at the risk of her own reputation. Did he use her to save himself or can she trust her heart – and him – to discover the truth? A truth they must work together to reveal.
Gunman, shooter, the brand is Jared King’s life. His skill with a gun creates an existence forever searching – searching every face for the bounty hunter in constant pursuit, for the settled life he is certain he will never find and for one woman’s love. Taryn Ashford jeopardizes his need to remain emotionally detached. She represents the happiness denied him, but if he pursues her, will he risk both their lives?

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Excerpt

“Jared please…don’t.” The contact consumed her, chipping away her control.
He kissed her cheek, then pulled back. He encircled her waist with both arms, drawing her body slowly to his. “Why do you deny your feelings?”
She tilted her chin upward. “I’m not feeling anything.” She wanted her words to sound indifferent, a pathetic attempt when her breathing was so pronounced.
His brow shot up in question. “No?” His mouth swooped down over hers to prove her wrong, to entice her.
She pushed him, trying to disengage his hold before she allowed the feeling to take complete control. He would have none of it. Passionate and demanding, he continued to kiss her. When she would turn her head away, his hand reached up, his fingers holding her jaw. Her heart pounded wildly, her senses reeling as she felt herself weaken. She must resist. She should think of Brad. He was her fiancé. In one final attempt, she shoved him hard staggering back herself as the support of his arms fell away. Righting herself, taking deep breaths, she returned his gaze, shaking her head. “I don’t want you to kiss me.”
“You want more than kisses from me, Taryn.” His eyes blazed with passion. “If there were a decent bed to be found, I’d show you how much you want.”
“How dare you! I don’t want anything from you, including your kisses.”
A muscle in his jaw tensing, his eyes narrowed. He caught her chin holding it firmly in his hand. A slow smile formed on his face. “As I said once before, you lie extremely well.”
He turned, walked back down the aisle, leaving her to consider his words. She never experienced such an arrogant and insolent lack of manners. Stomping on each rung of the ladder back into her berth, she mumbled her irritation with him. Her fury prevented sleep. Punching her pillow, she tossed and turned. How she despised him. The words raged repeatedly in her mind, but her heart felt the truth.

Tour Schedule

Join the upcoming tour from June 12 – 25, 2018.
Join us and visit each stop daily as we share more features, excerpts, reviews, interviews, fun facts and and other extras about the book! To check the latest tour schedule, visit the Untamed Hearts Book Page at Book Unleashed.
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About Colleen O’Connell

Colleen O'Connell

Colleen has been an avid reader her entire life and has a particular love of the historical romance genre. Having enjoyed reading romances early on, she began writing them herself when she wanted the stories to take a different turn and determined the only way to achieve it was to craft her own. She currently lives in Northern Kentucky and has a background in Human Resource Management.

Giveaway

WIN $25 GIFT CARD AND MORE
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Prizes up for grabs:
1) $25 Amazon Gift Card
2) Bookmark of Untamed Hearts

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Release Blitz + #Giveaway – It’s All About the Duke [The Rakes of St. James, 3] by Amelia Grey #historical #romance

It's All About the Duke
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE DUKE
New York Times Bestselling Author
Amelia Grey
Series: The Rakes of St. James Book 3
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: May 29, 2018
He could be a rake if he means only to steal a kiss but steals your heart as well.
Nearing thirty, the Duke of Rathburne is finally ready to make amends for the wager that caused him and his best friends such scandal, but taking on a ward who needs a husband is a feat he’s not sure he can manage. The last he saw of Miss Marlena Fast, she was a spirited little ruffian, not the sort of bride most bachelors on the marriage mart sought. But one glance at the lovely lady she has become is enough to convince him otherwise…
Orphaned young and shuffled from family to family, Marlena counts on her fierce independence and quick wits to keep herself content. Being the responsibility of a notoriously wicked duke who upended so many lives is an unexpected challenge when she realizes he arouses her decidedly feminine desire. Marlena must be careful. She has her own scandalous secret to protect. If he finds out, will it shatter her chances of a happily-ever-after with the notorious rake?

Purchase Links

Book Excerpt

Marlena felt the duke’s fingers touching her bare skin. She couldn’t have been more surprised, more intrigued, more fully engaged if his lips had actually been on hers instead of his warm touch under her chin. He wasn’t looking at her face but on his task at her throat.
She should have been frightened but it wasn’t fear she felt. It was something else.
Something far more worrisome.
It was attraction.
Inexplicable sensations stirred restlessly inside her. She didn’t know exactly what was happening. He wasn’t choking her, but she couldn’t breathe. He wasn’t hurting her, but she trembled. She wasn’t in pain, yet she had the most intense yearning and urgency inside herself for something she couldn’t describe.
“What are you doing?” she whispered, unable to look up at him.
“Kissing you deeply, madly, and thoroughly,” he mumbled and continued with his undertaking.
“What?” Her gaze flew up to his face.
He smiled down so innocently at her that for a spark of a second she thought he might be serious.
“That’s ridiculous,” she said, reclaiming her good sense. “How can you say something like that? It’s so outrageously untrue. You’re doing no such thing and you know it. You aren’t kissing me. You’re untying the knot in my ribbon which is highly inappropriate.”
He centered his attention on his job at hand again. “If you knew what I was doing then why did you ask?”
She didn’t know. How could she think properly when the duke was this close to her? The tips of his fingers touching her. She had to say something.

Schedule

Join our upcoming tour from June 1 – 21, 2018.
Save the date! Join us and visit each tour stop daily and discover features, excerpts, reviews, interviews, fun facts and more! To check the latest schedule, visit the It’s All About the Duke Book Page at Book Unleashed.
It's All About the Duke Tour Graphic

About Amelia Grey

Amelia Grey

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Amelia Grey read her first romance book when she was thirteen. She’s been a devoted reader of love stories ever since.
Amelia has been happily married to her high school sweetheart for over thirty-five years and she lives on the beautiful gulf coast of Northwest Florida.
With more than thirty books published, she is a two-time winner of the prestigious Booksellers Best Award. She’s also won the Aspen Gold, and the Golden Quill Awards. Writing as Gloria Dale Skinner, she won the coveted Romantic Times Award for Love and Laughter and the Maggie Award. Amelia’s books have been published in Europe, Indonesia, Turkey, Russia, and Japan.
Several of her books have been featured in Doubleday and Rhapsody Book Clubs.
Amelia’s Email: ameliagreyauthor@gmail.com
Official website: http://www.AmeliaGrey.com

Giveaway

WIN ONE OF TWO $25 GIFT CARDS
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Prizes up for grabs:
2 x $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble Gift Cards

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It's All About the Duke

 

Release Blitz + #Giveaway – Radio Rose – by Stephanie Berget @StephanieBerget #Western #Romance

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RADIO ROSE
Stephanie Berget
Radio Rose
Genre: Contemporary, Western Romance         Series: Change of Heart Cowboys, 1
Publisher: Malheur Butte Publishing
Publication Date: March 29, 2018
Radio Rose knows martians aren’t real, but she’s not sure about the cowboy.
Radio Rose knows Martians aren’t real.
But as a DJ on a late night talk show about Aliens, she’d never admit to being a non-believer. Talking to crazies all night isn’t the perfect job for most people, but she’s happy with her solitary life. Until a middle of the night car crash and a blow to the head has her mistaking a reclusive rodeo cowboy for a real life extra-terrestrial.
Adam Cameron escaped from his narcissistic grandfather and Tullyville, Colorado the day he turned 18. Now, ten years later, he’s forced to return — dragged into a battle over his grandfather’s fortune and fighting for the future of a town he wanted to forget.
Rose and Adam are both lousy at relationships, but when his problems are too big to handle on his own, she feels compelled to help. Now in a town filled with new found friends, Rose has to decide if she’s willing to trust the loner.
“The opening chapter of this book had me laughing out loud. From there, things just got better! This was one of those books with loveable characters and a connection that makes you feel like you are right there living life with them”
– Karen @ TingsMom
“Characters Make the Story!!! Well written, good character development, and wonderful ending.”
– S Rose, Amazon Reviewer

Purchase Links

Excerpt

“I’m Adam Cameron. I was there when you wrecked your car last night, and I brought you into the hospital. I wanted to come by and see how you were doing.”
Her eyes didn’t blink, and she didn’t move.
“Do you remember anything?”
“Not much.” She peeked at him from under her lashes then her eyes widened, and she gasped. “But I remember you. You’re one of them.” She pulled the sheet up to her eyes and peered out at him. “No, that can’t be right, because there aren’t any of them are there?”
The nurse had told him the diagnosis was a concussion, but this sounded more like full on, raging paranoia.
For the first time Adam really looked at her. There were dark smudges under her coffee brown eyes. Even her olive skin was pale. A large purple lump stood out on her forehead, partly hidden behind her glossy, black bangs.
“Wait, why were you there?” Rose’s voice was a hoarse whisper. She lowered the sheet an inch.
“My rental car broke down, and I was stranded on the side of the road. I couldn’t get any cell reception to call a tow truck. I tried to flag you down to see if I could get a ride.”
Incomprehension faded from her eyes as understanding moved in. “It was just you.” Rose released a sigh as understanding dawned on her face. “I remember now, and it was just you.”
“Yes, I . . .”
A blush warmed her face as she cut him off with a slight wave of her hand. “You stepped out into the road and waved your arms. You were dressed in black.”
“Yeah, that was me,” he said, his attention drawn to her pretty pink cheeks.
“And?”
His eyes snapped up to meet hers. “I thought you’d see me sooner. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for you to get hurt.”
“You scared the bejeezus out of me. I don’t know when I’ve ever been so petrified. What an idiot.”
“Hey, I said I was sorry,” Adam took a step back and reminded himself she was hurt. People in pain sometimes said things they didn’t mean. Before he could apologize again, she spoke.
“I’m not calling you an idiot. Although one of the first things we learned in kindergarten was to wear light colors after dark.” She paused for a minute, closed her eyes and massaged her temples with her fingertips.
“I’m calling myself an idiot for believing the crazies I talk to all night. I must have hit my head pretty hard, because when I came to, I thought you were an alien. Wow, every awful thing I’ve heard on my show came rushing back to me.” She raised her eyes to meet his as she dropped her hands to her lap. “Like I said, what an idiot.”
“What show?” he asked.
“I’m Radio Rose. I host a late night talk show. Most of my programs are on alien abductions.”

About Stephanie Berget

Stephanie Berget

Stephanie Berget was born loving horses, a ranch kid trapped in a city girl’s body. It took her twelve years to convince her parents she needed a horse of her own. She developed a lifelong love of rodeo when she married her own, hot cowboy. She and the Bronc Rider traveled throughout the Northwest while she ran barrels and her cowboy rode bucking horses. She started writing to put a realistic view of rodeo and ranching into western romance. Stephanie and her husband live on a farm located along the Oregon/Idaho border. They raise hay, horses and cattle, with the help of Dizzy Dottie, the Border Collie and Cisco, barrel and team roping horse extraordinaire.
Stephanie is delighted to hear from readers. Reach her at http://www.stephanieberget.com
Social Media Links: Facebook | Twitter | Amazon Author Page

Giveaway

WIN $15 AMAZON GIFT CARD AND MORE
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Prizes up for grabs:
1. $15 Amazon Gift Card
2. Three (3) eBook Copies of Radio Rose

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Book Tour + #Giveaway – Don’t Look At Me – by JPGrider @JPGrider1 #NewAdult #RomanticSuspense #Folklore

A reverse Beauty and the Beast tale;
because why SHOULDN’T the boy fall in love with the ugly girl?
Don't Look at Me Tour Graphic
DON’T LOOK AT ME
J.P. Grider
Don't Look at Me
Genre: New Adult Romance, Suspense, Folklore
Publisher: Fated Hearts Publishing
Publication Date: March 29, 2018
Haven:
A diligent hand carved this hole in my face.
It stole my confidence, my identity, and ended my short-lived career as a broadcast journalist.
I am now unemployed. Alone. Ugly.
And expected to get over it and move on.
Go on living life as usual—as if the world doesn’t judge the grotesquely unattractive.
Quest:
It’s been three years since I was kicked out of the Army for nearly killing the opposition’s militia commander with my bare hands.
I am now unemployed. Alone. Angry.
And expected to forget the nightmares that hold me hostage and move on.
Go on living life as usual—as if the world doesn’t judge a dishonorably discharged ex-soldier.
Don’t Look at Me is a modern-day Beauty and the Beast tale—reversed and twisted. Because even the ugly need a good story, and even the beautiful are ugly deep down.

Selected Reviews

“This is one of the best contemporary retellings of a fairy tale that I have read, ever…”
– Carrie Griffin
“…A real emotional read with a touch of drama and suspense. Who is behind the vicious attacks on local women? So not just your run of the mill- boy meets girl love story.”
– Pauline Anne
“…It is so good, I could not put it down…This book drained me emotionally and left me stunned for a few hours after reading it…”
– Trisha

Purchase Links

Excerpt

“There has to be someone who can fix her face. Look at her. She’s hideous.”

“Ma’am. She needs time to heal. She’ll look much better after a few months. After that, if she chooses, we can perform plastic surgery to perfect her face. We won’t know what she’ll need, though,  for several months. Even a year or two may—”

“Years!? She’ll be too old to start her career then. No. Unacceptable. We need to find a surgeon who will work on her now. Immediately.”

“I’m sorry, ma’am, but that will be impossible. Her wounds are severe. To repair the deepest lesion, she needed two-hundred and thirteen stitches…five layers deep in one section. She needs a tremendous amount of time to heal from the surgeries. It will take many—”

“Then I want to take her somewhere else.”

“You’re in New York City, Mrs. Quinn. You won’t find a more capable team.”

“Oh. I will.”

Oh, shut-up, Mother. She’s been carrying on about how repulsive I look since they unraveled my bandages for the first time yesterday. I haven’t looked in a mirror yet, but according to my mother, I’d probably break it if I did. I wish she would just leave the hospital already—my mother and her false sympathy. “Oh, dear, I feel so bad for you.” “Oh, my baby, how could anyone hurt you like this?” “Oh, my love, it pains me to see my daughter hurting so.” Yeah, right. More like it pains her to see me so hideously ugly.

The minute she thinks I’m out of earshot, or sleeping, it’s more like, “There is no way my daughter is leaving this hospital looking like that.” “There has to be someone who can do a better job at fixing that hole in her face; she looks like the goddamned Grand Canyon.” “She’ll never have a broadcasting career now. Who’ll want to look at that on their television screen?” Mother of the Year. That’s my mom.

“Don’t you worry, Haven,” my mother says after vociferating the woes of having a beastly daughter to my doctor. The very tip of her finger, the tippy-top of her nail, grazes beneath the knife-slash on my face. Though she scarcely touches me, I’m acutely aware of the pain it causes. If the look of revulsion on my mother’s face is any indication, I imagine it’s equally painful for her, only for different reasons—she now has Erik, The Phantom as a daughter. Holding her stomach with her free hand, she says, “We’ll have you looking like new in no time. I don’t care what they say, I will find a surgeon who will fix this, this,” she points to my cheek, just barely touching near my ear, “this monstrosity,” she emphasizes.

“No.” I barely make a sound, but it’s the first word I say since the night I walked by myself to my car after work and got slashed by the very man I’d been warning my viewers about.  My mother has been doing enough talking for the both of us.

“No? What do you mean, no?” The day my mother found out I accepted a position as news anchor, for a news program that aired at two o’clock in the morning for a television station she’d never heard of in a Pennsylvania town she’d never heard of, she nearly fell forward, her jaw leading the way. That’s the exact response I’m getting right now.

“I don’t want any more surgeries. It hurts too much.” My voice is strained and sounds weak, even to my ears. My face is on fire, and talking only exacerbates it. Since the moment I was flown from Pocono Medical Center to New York Presbyterian Hospital, the slow drip of morphine that feeds my veins has tried relentlessly to lessen the burning agony, but even it has failed. Trying to concentrate on the sterile smell of bleach, or the pleasant chatter of the nurses, even the merciless blathering my mother so needlessly feels she must spew, has done nothing to get my mind off the biting wounds on my face. If I could rip it right off, I would in an instant.

“You cannot go out looking like that, Haven. There was a golf-ball sized hole in your cheek and it looks like they just stuffed it with cotton it’s so swollen, and I don’t even want to mention the long gash across your face.”

She doesn’t want to mention? I should be so lucky.

***

Two weeks later, I’m back at my home in Bushkill, Pennsylvania. Out of danger of any more infection—that’s what the doctors say. Morphine in the form of pills instead of a drip sit on my side table next to my couch. And I am out of sight of gaping onlookers.

Mother Dearest wants to stay with me after she brings me home, but I can’t stand to hear her unsolicited advice any longer. Yes, I’ll most likely need more surgery. Yes, I look hideous. Yes, I’m embarrassed to go out looking like some kid carved out his science project on my face. But I can’t go through the pain of another surgery. Not right now.

“Please go home, Mom. If you’re here, it’s just going to keep me from sleeping. All I want to do is sleep. Okay?”

She eyes the length of my body backwards—from my thick sweat socks and ratty pajamas to my forever ruined face. A disgrace in the eyes of Mrs. Leighton Quinn. “Fine. Call me if you need me to help with your laundry.” Reading between the words of Hannah Quinn, “I’m sure if you had something clean to wear, you wouldn’t be wearing that atrocity.”

The door closes, my mother at long last on the other side, and reality sets in. My new life. The beast in my very own horror tale. Not even a floor-to-ceiling library to dispel the loneliness. A state I’d better get used to, since I’ll not be venturing out into the public anytime soon.

I sag into the couch and cry. I wish the man who did this to me just killed me then and there. Maybe I wanted to survive that night, wanting desperately to break free and get away. Put it behind me, a cautionary tale to tell my grandchildren, but those feelings flew out the castle window when the doctor explained that in about three years, after several focused surgeries, my scars will barely be visible from a few feet away. Years…and three feet away. How ugly must someone be to require years of plastic surgery and still come out looking like a female Chucky doll? Besides, Hannah Quinn would certainly agree that a one-way trip to Heaven is more desirable than existing permanently flawed.

The first few days in my house are spent sleeping and barely eating, so the fact that I have nothing but sour milk, stale bread, and a quarter jar of peanut butter in the house isn’t a problem.

Until today.

What feels like acid is eating its way through the walls of my stomach. There is no way I’m going to the grocery store though; I haven’t even looked in a mirror yet—I had my mom cover them with sheets before I came home. “Sitting shiva over the loss of my beauty,” as she so kindly put it. Because asking my mother to bring me food is the equivalent to inviting in the devil, I take out my laptop to find a store that delivers.

Forgetting that a powered-down black laptop screen would reflect my image back to me, I catch a glimpse of my face when I open it. Thank goodness the white square bandage covers the worst part, but the red, swollen, horizontal gash across my face is enough to make me vomit the stale peanut butter sandwich I ate when I woke up.

Getting over myself after several minutes, I search supermarkets that deliver and find there’s a ShopRite in Brodheadsville that will deliver to my address. I order the basics, but add a few—like, twenty—pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. When I’ve placed my order, for delivery two days from now, I dial up the local pizza place and order a chicken parmigiana pie and a two-liter bottle of soda before I go on Amazon and download about a dozen Kindle books. I have a feeling I’m going to be reading a lot in the coming months. At least until my leave of absence is over—at which point, I have no idea what I’ll be doing to earn a living, since I’m pretty sure my mother’s correct in her assumption that my appearance is no longer suitable for television…even if it is just a small local station.

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About J.P. Grider

J.P. Grider

J.P. Grider is a New Adult and Young Adult author who is a sucker for a good love story – whether it’s reading one or writing one. And when she’s not reading or writing a fairy tale, she’s living one.
Official website: https://www.jpgrider.com/
Social Media Links: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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