Friday 28 February 2014

Swoon Thursday #1 - Leo Maddox

This is a weekly meme created by YA Bound and I'm super excited to join in on the fun! If you want to join, heres how:

You can use a book you're currently reading or one that you finished, tell us what made you swoon! Share it on Twitter with the hashtag #YABound, post your link in the comments, and grab the steamy button above to put it on your blog!

My swoon this week is from a book I had the pleasure of getting an ARC of. It's called He Belongs With Me by Sarah Darlington. I did a cover reveal for it a while back, but I just finished the book yesterday and I think I'm in love. Below is the synopsis of the book, and my review will be up soon for the blog tour as well.

He Belongs With Me by Sarah Darlington
Two girls. One Leo.

Identical twins, Maggie and Clara Ryder, both grew up with Leo Maddox, billionaire playboy, apparent alcoholic, and heir to his grandfather's world-famous Maddox hotel empire. Their roles were cemented long ago: Maggie, as his best friend and Clara as his childhood nemesis.

But when a simple twist of fate changes everything and both girls start to fall for the lean, mean, ridiculously sexy and seemingly spoiled Leo... which girl will win his heart?

Throw in a little mischief, drama, and one smoking-hot bartender and lines are sure to blur. But one thing's for certain, neither good-girl Maggie nor rebellious Clara will be satisfied until they each figure out where they belong. 

*NEW ADULT ROMANCE. Recommended for 17+ due to sexual situations and adult language.

Many people don't know this, but I'm a twin myself. That made me love this book even more. As for the twins themselves, they were very different but very alike at the same time. Anyway, I just adored and loved Leo Maddox, especially with twin Clara Ryder (which is the one so much like me, it's kind of scary).

My Swoon:

"Yeah, well neither could I. You marched over in you swimsuit and laid you fine ass down beside me. I'm not sure what you were reading, but you were biting you lip and blushing. I swear, I couldn't move or think or breathe. That's the real reason i never got up to change or swim. I had to picture my Great-Grandma Bunny the whole time just to keep from embarrassing myself. I couldn't even manage a normal conversation with you." He swept a finger over my shoulder and down the length of me, stopping to trace small circles on my thigh.

Do you have a swoon for me? Comment below and tell me where yours is and I'll check it out!

And if you don't know this book, go find in on goodreads and add it! And when it comes out on March 4th 2014, buy it! I loved it and if you love romance, you'll fall head over heels!

Cassie Mae Double Cover Reveal

How to Seduce a Band Geek (How To #2)
Release Date: 05/06/ 14
Swoon Romance

Summary from Goodreads:

Sierra Livingston’s got it bad for her sister’s best friend, Levi Mason—the boy who carries his drumsticks in his pocket, marches with the school’s band, and taps his feet to whatever beat runs through his head. Sierra racks her brain for ways to impress the sexy drummer, but the short skirts and bursting cleavage don’t seem to cut it.

When Sierra gets paired with Levi’s sister, Brea, for a mentorship program, they strike a deal. In exchange for Sierra keeping her mouth shut about Brea ditching the program, Brea lets Sierra dig for more info on Levi to help get the guy of her dreams.

But when Sierra discovers Levi no longer plays the drums, his family has moved into a trailer, and he’s traded in his Range Rover for a baby blue moped, Sierra’s not sure if she can go through with violating his privacy. She’ll have to find the courage to ask him straight out—if he’s willing to let her in—and explore other ways to seduce the school’s band geek.

How to Hook a Bookworm (How To #3)
Release Date: TBD
Swoon Romance

Summary from Goodreads:

It’s Brea Mason’s sixteenth birthday, and she has three wishes. 1. Be magically eighteen like the rest of her friends. 2. Grow a money tree for her family whose financial problems are well known about town.  3. Overcome her test anxiety before she flunks out of every class.

But one day later, she's still sixteen, her family's money worries abound, and she's no closer to passing than she was the day before!</ div>

Then a very sexy transfer student—with gobs of cash—shows up. Brea figures she has a better chance of burping up glitter than attracting the new guy, but he seems extremely interested in her.

Just when Brea thinks things are looking up, her report card arrives marked with four giant F’s. Enter resident bookworm and Brea's loyal friend, Adam Silver. If he can't help Brea pass, no one can.

Even with Adam's help, Brea can't handle the mounting pressure, and finds an escape with the new student who knows little about her problems. 

But spending oodles of time with her boyfriend strains the friendship with Adam she relies so heavily on. Faced with losing the only real comfort and support she has ever had, Brea starts to wonder if she can hook a bookworm before it's too late. 

Link to book one:
How to Date a Nerd

About the Author

Amazon multi-category and international bestselling author of HOW TO DATE A NERD, HOW TO SEDUCE A BAND GEEK and HOW TO HOOK A BOOKWORM

Cassie Mae is a nerd to the core from Utah, who likes to write about other nerds who find love. Her angel children and perfect husband fan her and feed her grapes while she clacks away on the keyboard. Then she wakes up from that dream world and manages to get a few words on the computer while the house explodes around her. When she’s not writing, she’s spending time with the youth in her community as a volleyball and basketball coach, or searching the house desperately for chocolate.

Cassie Mae is an bestselling author of the teen contemporary romance novel REASONS I FELL FOR THE FUNNY FAT FRIEND, which she self-published. In addition to publishing with Swoon Romance, she is published by Random House Flirt.

Cover Reveal Organized by:

Cover Reveal: The Year We Fell Down by Sarina Bowen

Displaying The Year We Fell Down.jpg

Expected Release Date: March 17th 2014
She expected to start Harkness College as a varsity ice hockey player. But a serious accident means that Corey Callahan will start school in a wheelchair instead.

Across the hall, in the other handicapped-accessible dorm room, lives the too-delicious-to-be real Adam Hartley, another would-be hockey star with his leg broken in two places. He’s way out of Corey’s league.

Also, he’s taken.

Nevertheless, an unlikely alliance blooms between Corey and Hartley in the “gimp ghetto” of McHerrin Hall. Over tequila, perilously balanced dining hall trays, and video games, the two cope with disappointments that nobody else can quite understand.

They’re just friends, of course, until one night when things fall apart. Or fall together. All Corey knows is that she’s falling. Hard.
But will Hartley set aside his trophy girl to love someone as broken as Corey? If he won’t, she will need to find the courage to make a life for herself at Harkness — one which does not revolve around the sport she can no longer play, or the brown-eyed boy who’s afraid to love her back.

Warm, funny, and often heartbreaking, The Year We Fell Down is New Adult contemporary romance. Contains: hot hockey players, too many pairs of crutches, gallows humor, Princess Bride references, and a slightly outrageous vibrator scene. (Sexual situations make the book suitable for ages 18+.)

Sabrina Bowen
Sarina Bowen writes contemporary romance and new adult fiction from the Green Mountains of Vermont. She lives with her husband, two children, eight chickens and an unwieldy pile of ski and hockey equipment.

Displaying The Ivy Years.jpg

Comment below and tell me what you think of the cover!

Wednesday 26 February 2014

Review: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

27451Title: The Great Gatsby
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Publisher: Scribner
Pages: 180
Release Date: June 1st 2003 (1925)
Series: -
Where I Got It: Library

Synopsis: "Now we have an American masterpiece in its final form: the original crystal has shaped itself into the true diamond. This is the novel as Fitzgerald wished it to be, and so it is what we have dreamed of, sleeping and waking." --JAMES DICKEY

This is the definitive, textually accurate edition of a classic of twentieth-century literature, The Great Gatsby. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan has been acclaimed by generations of readers. But the first edition contained a number of errors resulting from Fitzgerald's extensive revisions and a rushed production schedule. Subsequent printings introduced further departures from the author's words. This edition, based on the Cambridge critical text, restores all the language of Fitzgerald's masterpiece. Drawing on the manuscript and surviving proofs of the novel, along with Fitzgerald's later revisions and corrections, this is the authorized text--The Great Gatsby as Fitzgerald intended it.

F. Scott Fitzgerald
F. Scott FitzgeraldFrancis Scott Key Fitzgerald was an American writer of novels and short stories, whose works have been seen as evocative of the Jazz Age, a term he himself allegedly coined. He is regarded as one of the greatest twentieth century writers. Fitzgerald was of the self-styled "Lost Generation," Americans born in the 1890s who came of age during World War I. He finished four novels, left a fifth unfinished, and wrote dozens of short stories that treat themes of youth, despair, and age. He was married to Zelda Fitzgerald.


I read this book on February 25th 2014.

I watched the movie before I read the book. I actually had to read this book for book club and was great-full for the change of pace. The last book was over 500 pages and still took me a day to read either way, but I actually like The Great Gatsby's movie which was spot on the book. I was glad this was the book chosen for Book Club.

I felt that Gatsby was a good character, but felt confused by him. He seemed to contradict himself in some situations but I felt he was a character developed well. He was by far one of my favourites in this book. my other favourite was probably Nick, the narrator. We knew the most about him, as it was from his point of view. I felt Nick was a good narrator as he would explain things that some audiences may not understand. I felt some of the characters were lacking a lot of feelings as well.

Daisy's character seemed to be left to open in the end of the book. She was one of my least favourite characters because of the lack of love she shows for Gatsby in the end of the book and that made me lose all the respect I had for her. After seeing the ending in the movie, I had kind of hoped the book would be different but, like I said earlier the movie was spot-on.

I was warned ahead of time I might have a hard time reading this because it was written "way back when" but honestly I had no problem reading it. I actually liked it more than I thought I would because it was one of the classics. I generally don't like classics for I feel it has a lack of romance, which I can't read a book without, but this one was actually really good.

Age: 14+
Grade: 9 and up

Tuesday 25 February 2014

SPOTLIGHT - Uncovering You by Scarlett Edwards & GIVEAWAY


Scarlett Edwards

I live near beautiful Seattle, Washington. I grew up reading all types of fantasy books before discovering the wonderful world of romances in high school. Now, I spend most of my time writing about sexy men and the women who love them.



October 2013. Date unknown.

(Present day)

A faint hiss, like the sound of an angry cat, jars me from my sleep.

I open my eyes to pure blackness. I blink, trying to get my bearings. A vague memory 

forms in the back of my mind, too far away to reach.

Why can’t I see anything?

My breath hitches. Panic rips through my body as the horrifying answer comes to me:

I’m blind!

I scramble onto hands and knees and desperately claw at the dark, searching for 

something, anything, for my senses to latch onto.

A dim overhead light comes on.

Relief swells inside.

I plop back on my butt and close my eyes, taking deep breaths to dispel the rush of 

adrenaline released by my body. When my heart’s not beating quite so fast, I open my eyes 

The light’s gotten brighter. I look up at the source. It’s far above me, like a dull, 

miniature sun. It spreads a little sphere around me, maybe ten feet in diameter. Past that, 

everything is swallowed by darkness.

An irksome memory keeps gnawing at me. But my head is too heavy to remember. I 

feel… strange. Kind of like I’m hung over, but without the telltale pounding between my ears.

Cautiously, I try to stand. My limbs are slow to react. They feel heavy, too, like they’ve

been dipped in wet clay. I steady myself. Only when I’m satisfied that my knees won’t give out,

do I strain my ears for that hissing sound again.

It’s coming from somewhere behind me. I turn back—and nearly smash my head on a 

gleaming white pillar.

What the hell?

The sound is forgotten as I reach out and brush tentative fingers against the pillar’s 

surface. It’s cool to the touch. Smooth, too. I put my other hand on it. If I had to guess, I’d say it 

was made of marble. But what is a lone, white marble pillar doing in the middle of this room?

The memory is like a gong going off inside my head. But trying to reach it is like 

grasping at a smooth, slippery stone at the bottom of an aquarium. Just when I think I have it, it 

slips through my fingers and falls even farther out of reach.

I walk a slow, measured circle around the pillar. If I tried wrapping my arms around it, I 

doubt if I could even span half the circumference. Something far in the back of my mind tells me 

I should be alarmed. I look behind me and frown. By what? A dark room?

No, you idiot. By the reason you’re here!

My eyes widen. The reason I’m here? I don’t… I don’t remember.

I wince and bring one hand to my temple. Why am I having so much trouble 


I gasp as a second gruesome thought hits me. Did I lose my memory? Do I have… 


I sink down with my back to the pillar. Desperation starts to take over. I hold my head 

between my knees and close my eyes to focus.

My name is Lilly Ryder. I was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on May 17th

My eyes pop open. Joyous tears form in the corners. I do remember! I take a deep breath 

and try to keep going.

I was raised by my mom. I do not know my dad…

Suddenly, all my childhood memories come streaming back. Moving around as a kid. 

Never staying in one place longer than six months. All the cities I’ve lived in. All the apartments 

my mom and I called home. Even the revolving door of her boyfriends. There was Dave, and 

Matthew. Tom, and Steve. There was…

I shake my head to stop myself. I don’t doubt my memory anymore. But that still does 

not explain why I have absolutely no recollection of this place, or how I got here.

I push myself back up. The spotlight above me has gotten progressively brighter. The 

little enclosure of light doesn’t feel quite so tight anymore. I trail my eyes up the length of the 

pillar. I can’t see where it ends because of the light. But I can tell it’s tall, at least twenty, maybe 

twenty-five feet…

There’s also something about its surface that calls out to me. My hands itch to run over 

the smooth stone. A giggle bubbles up as I picture myself stroking it. The column is quite 


I waver at the unfamiliar thought and have to catch my balance against the beam.

Focus, Lilly! I chide myself.

I have no idea where that thought came from. I have never been overtly sexual.

Nothing feels right. The fog that’s heavy on my mind is starting to lift, but not yet enough

for me to understand—or remember—where the hell I am. This place is unfamiliar. I know 

that much. But right now, I feel almost like a surgery patient whose anesthetic kinked out: fully 

awake mentally, but completely impaired physically.

I go back to my memories. I can remember high school. I remember college. That’s 

where I spent the last three years of my life, isn’t it? Yes. Yes, it is.

“Hello?” I call out. My voice echoes into the surrounding gloom. “Is anybody there?”

I wait for an answer. All I get is the hollow repetition of my own voice.

…anybody there, there, there…

I spent the last three years in college… but that’s not where I think I am right now. No. I 

shake my head. I knowthat’s not where I am. My memories are fuzzier the closer I bring them to 

today. Time feels… skewed. Freshman year’s easy to remember. So is sophomore, and most of 

junior… but things get weird toward the end.

I… finished junior year, didn’t I? Yes. Yes, I did. And then…

And then I took an internship in distant California for the summer, I remember with 

another gasp.

Suddenly, my mind is crystal clear. That pressing memory hurtles into view. It’s from 

yesterday. The last thing I recall, I was alone in a booth at an upscale restaurant. The waiter 

brought me a glass of wine. I took a few sips, contemplating my future….

Oh, God! Fear wraps a stranglehold around my neck.

The restaurant. The wine.

I’ve been drugged!

I can’t breathe. A suppressing tightness constricts my throat. I feel dizzy, and terrified, 

and most of all… ashamed.

, 1990.

Holy shit, Lilly, way to look out for yourself! My semi-mad inner dialogue pans with a 

generous dollop of sarcasm.

I’ve always known about the dangers of sick men preying on unsuspecting girls. I just 

never thought I’d fall victim to it.

I’ve been on my own since I turned eighteen, after the final falling out with my mother. 

I’ve always been proud of how well I managed. Even the shabby holes I’ve lived in while saving 

up college tuition were an improvement over living with her and all her low-life boyfriends. At 

least there, I had autonomy.

I’ve dealt with landlords selling crack on the side and the junkies they attract. Always, 

I’ve been known as independent, and strong—maybe offputtingly so. But, those were the 

character traits I had to develop to have any chance of getting ahead.

And all that lead to what? To this? To letting my guard down for one night and ending 

up… here?

Wherever “here” is, I think to myself.

The shock of the revelation has subsided a bit. I push off from the pillar. I can figure this 

out. I take a deep breath and look at my hands and feet. I am not bound. I pick at my clothes. 

They are the same ones I wore last night.

Do you know what might be lurking in the darkness?

I shove the meddlesome voice down. I don’t need more worries. Not now.

Carefully, I place one foot in front of the other and edge to the outer reaches of the light. 

The strange hissing noise has gone away. I don’t know when that happened. Maybe it was in my 

head the entire time.

I strain my eyes, trying to pierce the surrounding darkness. It’s impossible. I reach out 

with one hand and find nothing but air. This far from the pillar, I can barely see my outstretched 

“Hello?” I try again. “Who’s there?”

There’s no answer.

What kind of madman would do something like this? I wonder. What is hidden in the 


Without warning, my imagination starts to run wild. Torture devices? Bondage 

equipment? Something… worse?

Snap out of it! I tell myself firmly.

I refuse to give in to despair, even if my entire self-preservation mechanism is on high 

alert. Despair is what whoever brought me here wants me to feel.

I will not succumb to that.

I look down at the floor. It is made of some expensive stone. I kneel down and brush my 

hand over the large, square tiles. They feel solid. Sturdy. They don’t belong in a dingy basement 

or a dirty warehouse.

Somehow, that thought strengthens me. Things aren’t quite as bad as they could be.

I stand up and peer into the black. I glance back at the safety of my pillar. If I venture 

past the light, I can always find my way back.

Go slow, I warn myself. Who knows what might be waiting for me out there?

I’ve seen the horror movies. Just because I don’t get the dungeon vibes here does not 

mean I’m not in one.

Haltingly, my foot reaches past the edge.

A thousand bright lights flood the room. I gasp and shy back, shielding my eyes on 


After a few seconds, I lower my arm, blinking through the sharp pain that shoots through 

my head. I can almost groan. Light sensitivity, too?

Then I see the room.

Holy shit.

It’s huge. Massive. It must be at least five thousand square feet of pristine, flat space. I’m 

smack dab in the middle of it all.

The lights come from embedded ceiling lamps high overhead. Three of the walls, far 

away from me, are decorated with black and white abstract paintings created in bold brush 

strokes. The fourth wall is shielded by a heavy red curtain. The entire floor is made of rich, 

creamy white tiles reminiscent of steamed milk.

The ceiling is so high above me I almost feel like I’m in a cathedral. It’s made of 

exquisite dark oak beams.

But this is no church.

I do a slow turn. Something about this is all wrong.

So wrong.

Why am I here? What is behind the curtain? Other than the massive pillar and the 

paintings, there is nothing in the room.

If I’m being kept prisoner, why am I unbound? Why waste so much space on me?

I cup my hands around my mouth and yell.

“HEY! Anybody? Where am I?”

As before, I’m greeted with silence.

I take one more careful look around. If I got in, there must be a way out.

My eyes dart to the curtain.

Behind there.

I start toward it, my bare feet making determined slaps against the cold floor. I’ve not 

even gone ten paces toward it when I feel a small tug on my ankle.

I stop and look down. I discover a thread, so thin it’s almost translucent, tied loosely 

around my foot. The other end is attached to the base of the pillar.

I bend down and finger it.

What on earth is this?

The thread looks like it should snap with the smallest amount of force. I wrap my hands 

around it and tug.

It doesn’t give.

I frown, and apply a little more effort.

This time, it breaks in a clean cut.

I shake my head as I straighten.


I half-expected something to happen when I did that. Alarms to blare, the lights to go off, 



That’s when I notice a small white envelope leaning against the pillar. It’s right where the 

thread connects. In fact, it blends so well with the marble that I’m sure I would have missed it 

were it not for the string.

Exploration forgotten for now, I pick up the envelope. Maybe it will give some clue 

about what the fuck is going on.

It’s made of heavy paper. A wax stamp seals it, imprinted with a two-faced drama mask 

that I would find unnerving no matter where I saw it.

The only time I saw a wax-sealed envelope was when my ex got tapped by the Spade and 

Grave at Yale. I can understand the need for antiquity in New Haven. It makes no sense here.

My finger slips under the flap. I carefully ease it open. A foreboding sense of doom 

swirls around me as I pull the folded letter out.

I stare at it for a long minute. This is all so surreal. It feels like being caught in a bad 

dream. Once, I play myself right into my captor’s hands.

My natural inclination to resist, to fight back, tells me to tear the paper up without 

another glance. But that would be madness. The only clue I have to my whereabouts might be 

contained inside.

My thirst for information gets the better of me. I sit on the floor, cross my legs, and 

slowly unfold the paper.

It’s handwritten in swift, flowing blue ink. The rows of words make perfect strides across 

the page. Precision is the first word that comes to mind to describe the owner of the handwriting.

I set the sheet on the floor in front of me, lean forward and begin to read:

Two items require your immediate attention.

 1. You may spuriously assume you are being held here against your 

will. Nothing could be farther from the truth. You are a guest. As a guest, you 

retain full ability to leave my home at any time. The door behind the drapes 

shall remain open for the duration of your stay. There are no physical barriers 

to speak of—though I would advise you to read to the end of this letter before 

making decisions based on a flawed understanding of your situation.

 2. You may have already noted the new adornment around your neck. If 

so, well done! I applaud—

Adornment? I stop reading. What adornment?

I bring my hands to my neck. I feel the unfamiliar shape against my skin. Why hadn’t I 

noticed it before?

I scamper closer to the marble pillar to try to make out my reflection. I can’t see much, 

but I can make out the “adornment”. There’s a black collar around my throat. I touch it with one 

It’s smooth and flat. It’s made of some kind of matted plastic, like the edges of a 

computer screen. It’s not tight or uncomfortable.

It frightens me. If it warranted a place in the letter, there must be something to it. I need 

to get it off.

My fingers dart around the edges, seeking the clasp that opens it.

I don’t find one.

The collar is smooth inside and out. It feels like a single piece of plastic. I trail one finger 

around the rim on the inside, and, finding no discrepancies, do the same on the outside. Again, I 

feel nothing.

There’s no crack, no edge, nothing to indicate how it was put around my neck.

I jam all my fingers between my skin and the plastic and pull with all my might. The 

collar flexes ever-so-slightly but doesn’t give.

Dammit! I cry out and try again.

I pull with all the strength God gave me. It’s not enough. I try again, and again, and 


I realize I’m panting at this point. The exertion has me almost hyperventilating.

I drop my hands. It’s just a stupid, harmless little piece of plastic. Why do I want it off so 

Because the idea of having anything foreign touch your skin is repulsive.

The voice is right, as always. But what can I do? The collar is bound to be part of the 

mind game in which I’m an unwitting participant. Reacting the way I just did is probably exactly 

what my captor wants. He—and I am certain it’s a “he” now, from the wording of the letter—

wants me to feel terrified.

I will not give him the pleasure. I return to the letter and continue to read:

…applaud your perspicacity! You should know, however, that it is not an ordinary collar. 

Contained inside is a small positioning chip and two electrodes. They become activated the 

moment you stray outside your designated safe zone.

The string around your foot offers a conservative estimation of the distance you may 

roam past the marble column. Stay close, and you will remain untroubled. I am told that the 

electric shock the collar provides, while not lethal, can be quite unpleasant.

Holy fuck!

My spine goes absolutely straight and I forget to breathe. Now the collar has meaning. It 

feels like a live serpent wrapped around my neck.

My eyes are wide as I look down to my foot. The piece of string is still there, but it’s not 

connected to the one linked to the pillar.

I’d ripped it like a moron.

How far do I dare go? I’ll have to retie the string—unless I find a way to get the collar off 

my neck, first.

Another thought occurs to me:

Maybe this is a bluff? Does the collar really have an electrode in it? It’s so thin. Where 

would it draw power from?

I stand up. Assuming the collar is rigged, and the pillar is the center point… but that’s 

just what he wants me to believe, isn’t it? The letter claims there’s a door behind the drapes. 

It could be my path to freedom. I would have to be an idiot to stay here without testing the 

boundary myself.

I can’t trust anything the letter says. But, I can’t give in to despair, either. My only choice 

is to contest everything that’s thrown at me. If this is supposed to be a battle of the wills, the guy 

chose the wrong girl to mess with.

I pick up the remainder of the string and hold it in my fist. I square my shoulders to the 

long, drawn curtain. I hold my head high. My free hand itches to tug at the collar, but I keep it 

still. If my captor is watching me—which I’m sure he is, because I’m positive there are cameras 

hidden all around me—I will not give him the satisfaction of seeing me hesitate.

I take a deep breath and start toward the curtained wall. My strides are strong and 

purposeful. I will not waver. I will not turn back. Fear of a little shock will not keep me from 

testing the true limits of this prison.

The string goes taut, and I stop.

So far, so good.

It’s the next few steps that will determine everything.

I glance at the floor to mark my position. So, he expects to keep me in an invisible cage, 

does he? A cage of my own imagination?

Yeah, tough luck.

I drop the string and take one solid step forward.

Nothing happens.

I risk one more.

Nothing happens.

The corner of my lip twitches up in a hint of a smile. I called his bluff. But, I’m not home 

free yet. The veiled wall is another thirty-odd paces away from me.

I take two more steps forward, and, when nothing happens, start to walk more briskly.

My stroll is cut short by a sharp little zap beneath my left ear.

I tense and wait for more.

Well, color me surprised.

It looks like the collar does have bite, after all. When a second jolt doesn’t come, I can’t 

stop my smile from becoming a satisfied smirk. I knew the collar couldn’t possible have enough 

juice to hurt me. Where would the battery go?

Extremely pleased with myself, I venture onward, toward the curtain and its promise of 


The violent torrent of electricity blindsides me. One second I’m on my feet, the next I’m 

writhing on the floor.

The current pours into me. I thrash about like a grounded fish. Fierce convulsions rock 

my body. And all I know is pain, pain, pain.

I can feel the source of it, snug around my neck. I’m helpless to fight the onslaught. My 

head flails about on the ground, throwing hair into my face. A high-pitched squeal sounds in my 

ears and I desperately hope that pathetic sound is not me.

My eyes roll up and all goes black.



Oh God. It’s him. There’s no mistaking that rich, masculine treble.

What’s he doing down here?

“M-Mr. Stonehart,” I stutter, turning. I curse my inability to hide my 

surprise. He totally caught me off-guard. I have to look up to meet his eyes. Then 

up some more.

The face that I find is so striking it should belong to a Greek god.

He’s younger than I expected. Late thirties, maybe early forties.

That means he started his company when he was younger than me!

Dark scruff lines his angular cheeks. His jet-black hair is styled in long, 

natural waves. My fingers itch to run through it.

Totally inappropriate.

He has a prominent nose that might be too big on a less imposing man, but 

on him, it’s perfect.

In short, he’s a package of the purest masculinity I’ve ever seen.

And then there are his eyes. Oh my God. His eyes. They pierce into me 

like honing missiles. They are the deepest black I have ever seen. They would be 

frightening if they weren’t so beautiful. When the light reflects a certain way, you 

catch a glimpse of the purple underneath.

They are like midnight sapphires. His eyes reveal a cunning intellect. Those 

eyes do not miss a thing.

Add all that to his towering height, his wide shoulders, his confident-yet-at-
ease posture… and Stonehart cuts an intimidating figure.

My gaze darts to his left hand before I can stop it. No ring. He’s unmarried.

He looks down at me, expectantly. His eyes narrow ever so slightly, and I 

feel like I’m being dissected, measured up, and tucked away in some small corner 

of his brain. I imagine this is what a gemstone feels like under the magnifying class 

of the most critical appraiser.

Stonehart clears his throat. I come to with a start, realizing I haven’t said 

anything in ages. I open my mouth, but the capacity for speech seems like a foreign 

concept to my brain. “I—”

Somebody bumps into me from behind. I stagger forward. I’m not used to 

these shoes, so my heel steps the wrong way. My ankle twists under me, and I start 

to fall.

I don’t fall far. The hand still on my elbow tightens, and Stonehart pulls me 

into him.

I plaster myself onto the solid steel wall the man has for a body. I catch a 

scent of his cologne. It’s a deep, musky smell with a hint of charred spruce that is 

all male. It scrambles my thoughts even more.

“Sorry!” a rushed voice calls out. From the corner of my eye, I see the 

postman giving a hurried, apologetic wave.

Although the sequence lasts less than a second, it feels like an eternity. 

Pressed up against him like that, I don’t want to move. I know that I couldn’t have 

made a worse first impression.

Stonehart eases me off him with a firm yet gentle grip. Our eyes meet. I 

flush the most vibrant red. His fingers graze my forehead as he brushes a lock of 

hair out of my face.

Any tenderness I may have imagined vanishes when Stonehart takes out 

his cell. He long dials a key and growls an order. “Steven. See the delivery boy 

leaving right now? Have his building pass revoked.”

I gape. Stonehart keeps speaking. “Wait. I thought of one better. Bar 

his company from accessing the building.” There’s a pause. “For how long? 

Indefinitely. FedEx can talk to me when they have an improved employee selection 

program in place.”

The phone call gives me just enough time to compose myself. My heart’s 

still beating out of my chest. But nobody has to know that.

I speak without thinking. “You’re going to restrict the entire company from 

serving this building because of that?”

Stonehart humors me with an answer. “A company’s employees are its 

most important asset. Their behavior reflects the organization as a whole. If FedEx 

decided that clown is good enough for them, it tells me they’re sloppy. I do not do 

business with sloppy organizations.”

“What about the other tenants in the building?” I ask. “Won’t that piss them 

When I hear myself and realize how improper my question is, my cheeks 

flame red again.

Stonehart’s eyes darken, as if he cannot believe I asked that question. I open 

my mouth to apologize for my imprudence, hating the way my professional skills 

have evaporated into thin air. I’m cut off by a short, barked laugh.

“Miss Ryder.” He sounds amused. “I believe that is the most direct and 

honest question anybody has dared ask me in weeks.” He takes my elbow again 

and leads me to the elevators. I have to take two quick steps to match one of his 

long strides.

“Yes,” he continues. “They will be ‘pissed off.’ But the perk of owning a 

building—” he hits the elevator call button, “—is that you get to make executive 

decisions.” He gives me an unreadable glance as the doors open. “That is, at the 

risk of being questioned by inexperienced interns.”

If that isn’t a loaded remark, I don’t know what is. I flush scarlet red for the 

third time since I’ve met him. I’ve never had a man throw me so off balance.

The elevator is packed, for which I’m infinitely thankful. The trip up will 

give me some time to properly compose myself.

Gratitude turns to panic when the crowd files out, meek as mice, when 

Stonehart steps in. None of the people waiting in the lobby follow us.

The doors close. I’m alone in here with him. My heart’s beating as fast as a 

hummingbird’s wings.

He catches me staring. “Impressed?” he asks.

“They know you,” I manage.

His dark eyes flash with amusement. “Astute.”


This tour is hosted by Bewitching Book Tours