Reader’s Edyn

I always felt like I could do something more than just read. Finally, I have found both a creative outlet and a chance to do something meaningful with my reading. This blog was created in appreciation of and tribute to all of the authors who have brought me joy through their books. These reviews are my way of giving back to authors and providing recognition for the hard work that each one completes every day!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Interview: Sercets and Sins series by Naima Simone

**Secrets and Sins Series by Naima Simone**

ZOMG! I have missed you all so much! I cannot even begin to describe how much I have missed all of this … the blog, reading, reviewing … EVERYTHING!!! I though the best way to mark my come back would be to make good on several posts that I missed when everything seemed to go downhill. I had every intention of getting these posts up, but life interfered big time and I feel like I should honor my word, even if it is rather late in the delivery. Sometimes posting information from several months back can be a bit tricky because sometimes the information changes. Covers may change, and book may have been re-released, a new publisher may come into play … basically a lot can happen in a matter of months. I believe that I have correct information in all of these posts, but if I missed anything, feel free to shoot me a note and I will be more than happy to update. With that said, these books and authors have waited far too long for their spotlights on the blog, so let’s get started. Without further delay, please allow me to introduce to the blog:


I I was born the daughter of a sharecropper…okay, maybe not. But, I am the daughter of a pastor from whom I inherited my love of romance. The man can preach a mean Song of Solomon! (There’s that plug, Daddy! You can pay me later!)

Although my first book starred a cucumber named Fred, my first romance came several years later in the seventh grade when I wrote myself as a heroine opposite Ralph Tresvant from New Edition. Through the power of my pen and imagination, Ralph took one look across a crowded stadium, met my dark, mysterious gaze, fell passionately in love and serenaded me in front of millions of fans. Out of all the girls in the world, he chose me! And, of course we lived happily ever after—once we had the inevitable fight, aka black moment, and made up with a passionate declaration of love and fidelity. This same story reincarnated itself many times over the years: with Donnie Wahlberg from New Kids on the Block, Brad Pitt, Denzel Washington, and as recently as last night, Vin Diesel. 

Though the characters have changed, my love of love has endured. Shaping the lives of the unique men and women who experience the first, hungry bites of lust, the dizzying heights of passion and the tender, healing heat of love— nothing compares to it. Except maybe discovering new material for love scenes with my husband, the head of Research & Development!

To find out more about Ms. Simone, please visit:

By reading any further, you are stating that you are at least 18 years of age.
If you are under the age of 18, please exit this site.

You are all in for a heck of a treat because I have blurbs and excerpts for all 4 – yes, all FOUR of the books in the Elemental Magic Series. So grab a cup of coffee, sit back, relax, and enjoy yourselves. But first, an interview … at the time of this interview, Malachim was just released. There has since been another two books released, Rapheal and Chayot. I included all books in the spotlight following the interview. So be sure to check them out!

Thank you for joining us today, Ms. Simone. Let me start by asking, how has your life changed since becoming published?
Let me tell you! I think the biggest change is the hoards of readers chanting my name and just lining up at the bookstores when I make appearances. It’s kind of overwhelming, you know? Uh, no. LOL!! Nalini Singh doesn’t have to worry about me out-shining her in the mega-star department any time soon. :-D
The biggest change being published has had on me is shoving me out of my comfortable, isolated box. With promoting the books and connecting with readers, I’ve had to learn how to become more active on social medias and well…talk. LOL! Oh yes! And last year I started writing full time, which is huge for me and my family. I’ve had to learn discipline (still working on that) with money and time. And how to keep the house clean (still working on that, too).
Social media and an active presence are something I really enjoy seeing from authors. Seems like it could be hard to keep up with it all, but I know it is worth it in the end. That kind of thing keeps readers like me coming back for more. J What is your typical day like?
Get up in the morning. Coffee. Head to Books-a-Million. Coffee. Do some promo. Write for five or six hours. Coffee. Come home in time for kids. Watch Dr. Phil. Clean (just in case the hubby decides to pop by the blog, I need to add that in). Go over homework. Yell that I refuse to clean up after one more body. Clean up after one more body. Cook. Coffee. Reply to emails, FB. Tell my family I’m on strike. Maybe read a little. Bed. Dream of coffee…and Vin Diesel.
So, do you ever drink coffee for like, a pick me up during the day? *snort* Tell us a little about your current release Secrets and Sins: Malachim.
Absolutely! Boston attorney Malachim Jerrod is facing the loss of his law firm and license, the fall-out of a twenty year-old secret coming to light. In walks Danielle Warren, seeking a position as a paralegal. The mysterious, beautiful woman has bare-bones experience, yet he hires her, and finds himself drawn to her. Danielle is wrapped in secrets and lies, but he’s falling for her. And when her dark past comes calling he must convince her to trust him with her truth. Because some secrets can kill… *cue creepy Thriller laugh here*
*clears throat* Muwahahahaha! Like that? So sounds like they both have something to hide. Could be tricky situation. I am intrigued. Any upcoming projects you would like to tell us about?
Yes! I’m currently working on the third book in the Secrets and Sins series, Raphael. Every one of the four men in this series hold a very special place in my heart, but Raphael is this sarcastic, tattooed, pierced guy with a hard exterior. And it takes a very special woman to burrow past that shield to his heart. I love him. What can I say? Snark is uber sexy!
I agree. Snark is a great addition to characters. Raphael sound like the type I am usually drawn to. Good to know. How do you keep in contact with your readers?
I love to keep in contact with readers in any way possible. Shooot! Sky write me if you want to! LOL! But generally—smoke signals aside—I talk with my readers through email and Facebook. And what a blast that is! They’re so funny and sweet, and as Vicki Gunvalson from the Real Housewives of Orange County would say, they fill my love tank! Okay, does that sound weird? I mean platonically. Like my writing love tank…Umm. I’m carrying on now. Next question…
Maybe a little weird. Yeah. *wink* What is your favorite thing about this book?
It has to be the hero, Raphael. He’s so sexy. Dark hair. Tats. Piercings. Sarcastic. He is such a fantastic hero. I just love writing him.
Yum! What’s next for the Secrets and Sins series?
I’m finishing up the third book, Raphael, and then it’s on to the fourth and last book, Chayot. After that? Well, I’m going to have an Ichabod-Crane-esque nap then I’m thinking of a novella with a secondary character from the series.
Sounds fun! How do you celebrate when you finish a novel?
Every time I finish a book my husband cooks stuffed mushrooms just for me. Like a big pan of ‘em that I don’t have to share with kids or him! Mine, mine, mine! My preecciioouussss… Yes, it’s that deep.
Score! DH can cook! What are you reading now? Any favorites you tend to go back to?
I have so many awesome books in my TBR pile that I’m dying to read! As of the moment I’m Bad Mouth by Angela McCallister. It’s actually a release from Entangled’s Covet line. And there’s only one thing wrong with the book so far. I didn’t write it. LOL! Seriously, it’s WONDERFUL! As for an old faithful? There is one book that I read every single year. Son of the Morning by Linda Howard. Oh. It is one of my absolute favorite books EVAH!
 Nice! I think we all have an issue with the TBR pile. It grows and never seems to lessen! Strange how that happens. Was there something in particular that gave you the idea for this book (series)?
Two of my favorite television shows are Sex in the City and Girlfriends. I really wanted to write a series where the books were connected through friends—a deep abiding friendship. But instead of women, I changed it to men. And even though they had different personalities—like the women on those shows—they loved one another and deserved very special women to love them in return.
They all bring something to the table, yes? What about the hero and the heroine made you want to put them together?
The whole opposites attract thing. He’s hard, rough, and without a filter. My heroine, Greer, is reserved, conservative, wealthy, and with perfect manners. The cool part about them is finding what they share in common—and this transcends class, wealthy or appearances.
Love it! Tell us one thing that readers wouldn’t know about you.
I have a Dance Moms fetish. Yes, I yell and scream at the television about get the hell out of Abby’s company if you don’t like her, and yet I still tune back in every week. I love the dancing! Those girls take me back to when I wanted to be Rizzo and Sandy when I grew up!
Oh my! Say it isn’t so. *grins* What is one thing you know now that you wish you had known when you first started writing?
I wish I had known about the importance and weight of promotion. Silly me assumed that I would be starring in those YouTube videos that Nora Roberts has, I would be all over the web, on blogs, ads in magazines and other sites—courtesy of the publisher. Real world meet WTF!! LOL! I was shocked to discover most—as in 90%--of the promotion would be on me. Including the costs. It can be time consuming and for an introvert like me (stop laughing!), painful at first. But thank God I had so many authors on my Ellora’s Cave and Entangled loop that were open about how they went about promoting, were eager to share their knowledge, and always, ALWAYS ready to support with guest blogging, tweeting, FB-ing. Whatever they could do. That’s what I love about this field. And I think that’s what aspiring authors should know, too. They are part of an amazing, supportive community that won’t let you drown out there in unknown waters!
So authors have each other’s backs? That is both surprising and not. Seems like some would see you as competition and maybe not be quite so forthcoming with advice. But on the flip side, I have met some pretty amazing people and I couldn’t see then not helping an aspiring author in need. This really is a wonderful community. Salty or Sweet?
Sweet! You’re talking to a chick that puts sugar on her hot dogs!
0.0   I am sorry … WHAT? You definitely hit new and uncharted territory with that one! What is your favorite drink?
Cherry Coke rules!
Word! What is your favorite holiday?
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Ding. Dong. Ding. Dong. Christmas!
M&M’s or Skittles?
Peanut M&M’s. The bane of my dentist’s existence but proof that God exists to me!
How about Peanut Butter? Those are good. And what about those cray cray flavors they keep coming out with? Birthday cake M&M’s. What? Yuck! Not a fan! Long hair or short hair on a guy?
Two words: Vin. Diesel. Need I say more?
No. No you do not. Who is your favorite fictional character ever?
Black Niall, the Guardian in Linda Howard’s Son of the Morning. One of the best heroes ever written!
Caffeine or Decaf?
I pity the fool that brings me decaf!
I can relate! Wait. You don’t have a mohawk and a lot of golds chains, do you? Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
Introvert. Again with the laughing…
Yeah. I totally would have guessed the opposite. Do you have any phobias or fears?
Spiders!! Oh Jay-zus!!
Yeah. Can’t deal with anything like that. Not. At. All. Tell us one random piece of information that you could have lived your whole life without ever knowing?
That my parents had sex. Seriously, I was cool believing the stork thing…
Truer words have never been spoke. Like, ever! Anything you would like to ask the audience?
Just because I’m nosey and  I’ve shared my random fact no one knows. Now your turn. What’s a random fact no one knows about you? C’mon! Dish!
That was totes fun! How about getting to know more about this awesome series? I thought so. Here you go my lovelies!

**Secrets and Sins 1**


Twenty years ago, Leah Bannon’s beloved Uncle Richard vanished without a trace. Leah, now a private investigator, begins to suspect it was murder. When she reopens the cold case, Gabriel Devlin—-the man she loves but can never have—-inexplicably stands in her way.

Only four people know the truth about Richard’s mysterious disappearance—-Gabriel and three childhood friends...who have all sworn to take that secret to the grave. But a hidden enemy wants those shocking secrets brought to light...even if he has to kill to make it happen.

After experiencing an unimaginable loss two years ago, Gabriel refuses to put himself through the pain of loving someone who could be gone in an instant. But as he thwarts Leah’s investigation at every turn—-both to keep his friends’ pact, and to keep her safe from danger—-the sexy PI makes it impossible for him to protect his secrets. Or his heart...

Buy Links
iTunes         Amazon
B&N            Entangled


© 2013 Naima Simone
“On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, five golden rings…”
With a smile, Gabriel hit the radio button on his dashboard. Mickey Mouse and the gang cut off mid-“Twelve Days of Christmas,” and The Temptations’ “Little Drummer Boy” spilled into the car.
Much better. He shook his head. He adored Ian, loved being his father, but listening to Disney’s Christmas CD without his son in the backseat went over and beyond his parental duties. He chuckled and wondered what cartoon-inspired holiday music Maura listened to in the green car ahead of him. A meeting with his literary agent in New York, a late return fl ight back to Boston, and last-minute Christmas shopping that needed to be completed after leaving her parents’ Christmas party had prevented him from sharing her fate.
He hated shopping. But with Santa making his visit in two days, Maura had charged him with picking up the eleventh-hour gifts Ian had requested. Given the choice between driving by himself or riding in the car with his family and spending those few extra moments, Gabriel would have chosen his wife with the everincreasing “Honey, do…” list and the boy with the high-pitched, off-key voice every time. But neither he nor his wife was strong enough to resist their son’s pleas of, “I just gotta have—” How the boy remained so sweet-natured when both his mother and father spoiled him rotten remained a complete mystery.
Gabriel’s fi ngertips tapped the steering wheel in time to the song’s beat as he slowed at an intersection behind the family compact. Anticipation and delight streamed through him, lighting him up like the bright bulbs on the seven-foot tree in their living room. One week of nothing but family, friends, and relaxation. After he completed the enormous list of chores Maura had planned for him, maybe he’d go down to the pub and have a pint, soak up the atmosphere, and get another story idea brewing. The forecast called for several inches of snow in the coming days. Maybe he and Ian could get outside and build a snowman. Then he could convince Maura to take an afternoon nap. He grinned and eased his foot off the brake. God, he loved Christmas.
He slowed for the yellow light, then came to a stop as it blinked to red.
Maura didn’t.
He yelled out a warning she couldn’t hear as her car didn’t brake but coasted through the light and into the intersection.
The world slowed until it moved through a transparent wall of glue.
A pickup truck slammed into Maura’s car. The compact bowed around the truck’s front fender like a steel embrace. The piercing screech of metal scraping metal. The shrill squeal of rubber on road. The scream. The horrible scream…
In one painful instant, time warped from slow to Mach 3.
“No!” Gabriel’s bellow fi lled his car, bounced off the windows, and crashed in his head. With fumbling hands, he slammed the gear into park and reached for the door handle. Animal grunts scraped his throat as he jerked the handle over and over. The lock, a tiny, sane voice whispered. The door is locked. The part of his mind that hadn’t given over to panic heeded the instruction and punched the automatic-release button on his armrest. He tumbled from the car and hit the pavement.
The impact scraped his hands and knees. The burn of grit and asphalt biting into his palms and legs rode a distant second to the horror that swamped him.
Lunging to his feet, he tore into the street.
Barely registering the pickup driver’s hunched, unmoving body, he darted to his wife’s car.
His feet skidded to a stop at the driver’s side, and his fi ngers clawed at the door.
“Maura,” he whispered. Her head was slumped against the window, her auburn curls pressed to the glass in a dark halo. “Sweetheart, no.” A hard yank and the door shuddered open. His wife fl opped into his arms, the seat belt a harness around her limp body.
In seconds, he had the belt unsnapped and her lying on the ground. Blood streaked her forehead and cheeks. A hoarse wheeze rattled from her chest.
Oh God. Oh God. Oh God.
He mumbled the litany over and over as he jackknifed to his feet and lurched for the back door. Christmas presents toppled from the car, spilling onto the street like gaily sprinkled confetti.
With a harsh curse, he yanked the last of the boxes out and crawled into the backseat.
Ian—oh, Jesus, Ian…

**Secrets and Sins 2**


Looking like sin and smelling like trouble…

Boston attorney Malachim Jerrod doesn’t trust anyone. His father and his ex-fiancé taught him that hard lesson. So when a beautiful stranger arrives on his doorstep his first reaction is to back away—far away. Danielle Warren wants a job, but his law business is falling apart, and her credentials are bare-bones at best. Still, there’s something about her that, try as he might, he’s unable to resist. The vulnerability in her soft voice? The way she flinches when he gets too close? The yearning he sees mirrored in her eyes when she looks at him?

She’s the last thing he needs…

Two years ago, Danielle barely escaped alive from her powerful and abusive ex-husband. Now her ex is out of prison, and he’s coming for her. She knows she must leave her new job and run. Disappear—to keep herself and those she loves safe. Including her sexy boss, who has sparked feelings in her heart she never thought she’d feel again. Yet, she can’t help but wonder...should she let down her guard and trust Malachim with the truth?
But the only one he desires.
Working together brings them closer than ever—but reveals secrets and sins best left buried in the past. Their lives and their passionate love at stake, Danielle and Malachim must fight to survive to grasp the future of their dreams.

Buy Links
iTunes    Amazon
B&N       Entangled


Most people arrived for work at eight-thirty in the morning, not evening.
But then again, most people didn’t have a formerly thriving law practice swirling the toilet like the Ty-D-Bol Man.
Malachim Jerrod strolled toward the brownstone that housed his law office, located in Boston’s historic Beacon Hill neighborhood. Authentic gas-burning lamps provided ample light as he passed elegant buildings with their black shutters and dark windows. Boughs of bright red poinsettias and white lights decorated the sills and arched doorways in deference to the holiday season. Usually, he enjoyed the walk—the elegant, ageless beauty of the neighborhood never failed to charm him. Time seemed to have screeched to a halt on the quiet block off busy Charles Street. If he closed his eyes, he could almost detect the murmurs of revolution and freedom, the clack of hooves and rumble of carriage wheels.
But tonight, as he headed back into his office after having left it two hours earlier, his thoughts were as dark as the shadows that stretched across the cobbled sidewalks. An image unfurled in his mind—a single sheet of paper with official letterhead scrolled across the top, the body of the message containing the words LICENSE, SUSPENSION, PENDING, DISBARMENT. A sliver of fear slid between his ribs like a shiv. With every breath he took, the cold, steel edge of it wedged deeper.
Damn, it would be so easy to just turn around, put in a call to his best friends, Gabriel Devlin, Raphael Marcel, and Chayot Gray, and ask them to meet him at the bar around the corner. There, he could drown his worries in two-dollar beers and testosterone-heavy conversation. And he didn’t doubt the three men would drop everything to answer his distress signal. He, Gabe, Rafe, and Chay had been friends since birth—before, really. Their mothers had met during their prenatal workshops and appointments at Boston Children’s Hospital. High-risk pregnancies had brought the women together, but admiration and love had connected them. Though from different social and economic backgrounds, Pam, Ana, Sharon, and Evelyn had remained close and passed down their friendship to the sons they’d all named after angels—angels God had blessed them with.
There hadn’t been a moment in his thirty-five years Malachim hadn’t been able to lean on Gabriel, Rafe, or Chay. But this evening, as he contemplated his law office’s precarious future, he knew he couldn’t burden them with his fears. Especially since Chay would carry most of the blame on his already weary shoulders.
He quickened his step as he approached the building that was a second home. Malachim had loved this place since he’d been a small boy visiting his grandfather. Samuel Resner hadn’t been a demonstrative man, but his mother’s father had gifted Malachim with the thing begrudged him at home: acceptance.
And when his grandfather had passed, the brownstone he’d bequeathed to Malachim had been the one thing in his entire life that had belonged solely to him. The one thing his father, Christopher Jerrod, had been unable to snatch, steal, or bribe away.
Malachim shook his head. Not going down that slippery slope of—
A hard gust expelled from his lungs. He lifted his hands and gripped the shoulders of the petite woman who’d barreled into his chest. “Son of a…”
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
Sultry nights. Twisted limbs. Breathless moans. Malachim allowed her low, rasping tone to tease over his skin like a luxuriant pelt of fur—sensuous, beautiful. Only phone sex operators had voices like hers. Practiced and perfected to elicit thoughts of sex, sweat, and pleasure.
His fingers flexed but clutched air. The woman had shifted away, escaping his grasp and stepping into the pool of pale light cast by one of the street lamps.
Holy shit. Only a face as lovely and cool as the Madonna’s could eclipse that voice of sin and rich dark chocolate.
His breath stuttered in his throat. An image of a still, watchful animal slid into his mind. As if she waited, undecided if he was foe or friend. Part of him wanted to soothe her, murmur words of reassurance.
And the other wanted to lunge forward, scare her off so she went back to wherever she’d emerged from. Something about those large, liquid doe eyes and aloof, beautiful face stirred a distant response like dust motes in a neglected attic. The sorrow, the loneliness it evoked resonated in his chest like a clock in the distance chiming the hour. He wanted the uncomfortable feeling—and her—gone.
“Excuse me,” he said abruptly.
If she was taken aback by his harsh tone, her serene expression didn’t reveal it. The slight stiffening of her small frame did.
Shit. Next thing, he would start kicking dogs and tripping old ladies.
“I’m sorry,” he continued, softer this time. “Long day. And I wasn’t watching where I was going.” He slid his hands in the deep pockets of his coat. “Are you looking for someone?”
She briefly hesitated. “Yes. Well, no,” she said in that voice capable of coercing gold from King Midas. “I was looking for the office of Jerrod & Associates.” Pause. “Malachim Jerrod?”
His eyebrows arched high as surprise winged through him. “Yes. Do I know you?”
“No.” She stepped forward, reclaiming some of the space she’d placed between them. “My name is Danielle Warren.”
“Okay, Ms. Warren.” Danielle. He silently rolled her name over his tongue as he cast a cursory scan down her body. She shivered beneath a black jacket that was inadequate against the winter night, faded blue jeans, and scuffed sneakers. Curiosity pricked him. Hard. “What brings you by at eight-thirty in the evening?”
“Actually, I didn’t expect to run into anyone this late.” She dug into the dark messenger bag at her hip. A mass of midnight curls tumbled forward, and he stared, fascinated. It had to be the lighting that made the loose spirals appear like woven strands of silk. Her bowed head lifted as she withdrew a letter-sized manila envelope. “I intended to just drop my résumé through the mail slot.”
Résumé? Malachim frowned, inspecting the envelope she held toward him. She slowly lowered her arm when he made no move to accept the offered document. Again he noted the worn, simple clothes, the wind-tousled array of curls. Bethany, his administrative assistant, had placed an online ad for a paralegal three weeks ago. Unfortunately, he had yet to get a single decent application from that ad.
Anger and panic knotted his gut until it resembled a nautical rope. He needed an additional legal assistant to replace the one who’d quit a couple of weeks after the story of Richard Pierce’s murder hit.
Six weeks earlier, an anonymous sender had mailed a letter to Leah Bannon, a family friend and private detective, that had resulted in her reopening an investigation into Richard’s disappearance twenty years earlier. Leah had approached Gabe for help and advice. What she hadn’t known was that Gabe, Rafe, Chay, and Malachim were very much aware of the details surrounding Richard’s disappearance. And death.
While Richard had been a loving uncle to Leah, to Chay—and to countless more boys—he’d been a monster…a predator who’d violated their trust and stolen their innocence. Chay had killed Richard when he’d come after him one night. And after a phone call from their terrified and traumatized friend, Malachim, Gabe, and Rafe had helped Chay bury the body in the backyard of the Jerrod family’s second home in Cape Cod. For twenty years, the four of them had protected their secret. But with the arrival of one letter, their skeleton had come busting out of the closet.

**Secrets and Sins 3**


When Greer Addison finds her future husband in bed with another woman, she runs…right into the arms of dark and dangerous Raphael Marcel. Angry and hurt, she throws caution to the wind and spends a hot night with the sexy security specialist. But when her fiancé is found dead, Greer becomes the main suspect of a crime she can’t remember.

Raphael is stunned and suspicious when Greer shows up on his doorstep claiming she’s carrying his baby. Worse, she’s the target of a stalker bent on making her pay for a murder she doesn’t recall. As Raphael begins to trust Greer, they must race against the clock to uncover a killer. Because Greer’s memory is returning…

Buy Links
iTunes     Amazon
B&N       Entangled


When a little girl fantasizes about who she’ll be when she grows up, she envisions a mother, wife, doctor, teacher, lawyer. Even a princess.
She doesn’t see herself bellied up to the bar of a neighborhood pub a week before her wedding day because she caught her now ex-fiancé in bed with another woman.
But then again, Greer Addison reasoned, smiling at the bartender who set down a napkin and glass in front of her, dreams had the tendency to shift into nightmares. One minute life was expected, stable, a black-and-white montage of predictability. Then the next it was chaotic, confusing, a Technicolor whirlwind of lies, betrayal, and humiliation.
“Isn’t that number three or four?” her brother, Ethan, asked, arching his brow as she lifted the glass to her lips for a sip. “You don’t think you should slow down? Besides, you’re going to get sick on that. At least switch up to a vodka tonic.”
Greer hummed in pleasure as the sweet chocolate flavor and the tart vodka flowed over her tongue. Wow, she swirled the alcohol in the glass. That’s awesome. “It’s number three, my pace is just fine, and I like this.” She smacked her lips. “Tasty.”
“Sweetie.” Ethan covered the hand on her lap with his. “Greer.” Concern and a terrible sympathy softened his handsome features. The compassion in eyes as green as her own sliced into her heart like the most skilled surgeon’s scalpel. “He didn’t mean it.”
She downed another gulp, heedless of the velvety burn the large swallow of alcohol blazed down her esophagus. If only she could smooth away the jagged edges of her memories so easily.
Her father’s vicious tirade assaulted her brain like shards of broken glass—sharp, cutting…drawing heart’s blood.
 What good are you? The one thing you’ve done right—the one time you were useful to me, had finally done something to make me proud—and you screw it up. Your brother’s a fag, and you’re a failure. A useless failure.
“Oh, he meant it,” she murmured, setting the glass down on the aged, scarred bar top. She stared down into the cream-colored drink with the chocolate swirl she’d almost obliterated with two healthy sips. “We both know how sincere he was.”
Ethan’s mouth momentarily tightened, as did the fingers gripping his bottle of Corona. He wasn’t a stranger to Ethan Addison II’s—no “Jr.” for him—“tender mercies.” After years of painful denial and struggling to conform to the inflexible, rigid Addison mold, Ethan had finally come out to his family. She’d been aware of his sexual identity…always had been. But Ethan had always been her protector, her rock, her confidant. Whom he loved and slept with had never mattered to her.
Their father had not been so open-minded. Or forgiving.
Three years later, and the last words he’d uttered to his son were, “I raised a son, not a daughter. When you come to your senses and remember that, you will be welcome back in this house and family. Until then, get out.”
That Ethan had actually stepped inside their parents’ home to lend her his support when she broke the news about calling off her engagement to Gavin M. Wells revealed how much her brother loved her. Or maybe he’d known she would need someone after their father finished slicing her into pieces and put her out like day-old trash.
Probably both.
“It doesn’t—” The cell phone in her jacket pocket vibrated. Maybe it was Mom calling to tell her Dad had calmed… She dug it out and glanced at the screen. Her stomach clenched, twisted. Gavin.
Quickly, she stashed the cell back in her pocket, lifting the glass from the bar with her other hand. The alcohol hit her stomach like a leaden weight.
“Let me guess,” Ethan said with a nod toward her pocket. “Gavin.”
She shook her head, emitting a short, brittle chuckle. “I only have one thing to say to him, and since it’s anatomically impossible, there’s no point in my answering and wasting my breath.”
“Actually, I saw this video—”
She flicked her palm up. “Stop right there. T-M-freaking-I.”
Ethan snickered, and a reluctant smile curved her lips. So her humor button hadn’t been permanently smashed to smithereens. Good to know.
“Sweetie.”  He sobered, his gaze solemn and filled with compassion. “You have to talk to him sooner or later.”
“Not now.” She shook her head. Hurt and the greasy glide of humiliation pitched and rolled in her belly. She turned her head, stared out the latticed windows. The red and orange electric flame effects from the fake fireplace danced in the dark windows, adding to the multicolored flicker of Christmas lights from the office building across the street. She loved this time of year. People were kinder, the world was prettier, more joyful. Her love for the holiday season was the reason she’d chosen December 23rd as her wedding date. It’d seemed perfect.
What bullshit.
“We were friends,” she murmured. “Before the dating, the engagement, and wedding plans, we were friends. If he didn’t want me, he could’ve come to me, been up-front. Instead…”
The images of “instead” rose in her head, wavering, solidifying, then evaporating so another picture took its place. Aubrey straddling Gavin, her auburn hair streaming down her bare back as she undulated on top of Greer’s fiancé. Gavin rising, face twisted in sensual pleasure, passionately kissing the woman Greer worked with at her father’s bank. His blank eyes and gaping mouth as his gaze connected with Greer’s in the doorway of his bedroom.
“Instead he was a cowardly sack of shit who couldn’t keep his dick in his pants,” Ethan snapped, disgust dripping from his ice-cold tone. Again, championing her.
She sighed and rubbed a fingertip over the old, tiny sickle-shaped scar on her chin. A childhood habit she’d acquired and never rid herself of.
“Pretty much,” she murmured. “But you know what hurt me most?” she asked, meeting the concern and anger simmering in her brother’s eyes. “Yes, the lies and the cheating. But if I’m brutally honest with myself, I’d admit his quick capitulation with the six-month no-sex agreement should’ve been my first clue something was wrong.”
Noah Granger, her best friend, had scoffed when she’d told him about her idea of a period of abstinence and rededication so she and Gavin could experience a true wedding night. He’d warned her no sane man would go for it, and when he’d learned of Gavin’s acquiescence, he’d bluntly informed her he smelled a rat—and the rat wore Gavin’s toothy Colgate grin.
“Greer, it’s not your fault.”

                                     **Secrets and Sins 4**  


Six months after concert pianist Aslyn Jericho survives an attack at the hands of an obsessed fan, she is still trying to resume a normal life, despite the paralyzing fears that have stolen her ability to play and perform. Enter her gorgeous and mysterious neighbor with news that threatens to send her spiraling back into her nightmares. Her stalker has returned. And he wants Aslyn.

Months after security specialist Chayot Gray’s darkest secret was exposed to the world, he’s struggling to cope with the fallout. Shame and guilt threaten to consume him, and he longs for the anonymous, numb existence he’s known for two decades. Then he discovers a masked figure lurking outside his neighbor’s home. The pain-filled shadows darkening Aslyn’s eyes call to him, and her loveliness stirs a desire he didn’t know existed. Now Chay must conquer his inner-demons in order to save her from a madman determined to finish the job he started...

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Aslyn Jericho swept into her third bow, and energy from the audience danced over her skin like electrical fingers.
She straightened once more, and sweat dampened her hair, face, and body as adrenaline raced through her veins, more exhilarating and powerful than any drug. Her heart pounded a primal beat, echoing the applause and cheers of the people who’d come out to the San Antonio arena to attend her concert. The pulse reverberated in her chest, belly, between her thighs…
Hell, she was a walking, breathing orgasm.
She pressed her fingers to her lips and blew out one last kiss before waving and striding off the stage.
“Awesome performance, Aslyn!”
“Amazing show tonight!”
Maneuvering around the various coils and equipment crates littering the floor of the backstage area, she grinned at her crew’s congratulations. The heavy curtains separating the stadium and backstage areas couldn’t stifle the continued noise of the concertgoers. She had to force herself to keep walking down the hallway toward her dressing room. Either keep walking or spin around and return to that stage, run up to her piano, and play for another hour. She chuckled. While she would love nothing more, the other musicians in the small orchestra that joined her on tour might revolt.
God, nothing in this world could compete with performing in front of thousands of people with her orchestra and playing her music—her music. She grinned wider.
And hot damn. She got to do it all over again tomorrow night.
“Wonderful concert, Aslyn,” her manager and oldest friend Liam Ahearn said, passing her a towel.
“Thanks, Liam.” She patted her face and throat with the cloth. “I swear I didn’t want to come off stage tonight.”
“Two encores. I think I figured that out for myself,” he said wryly.
She laughed, accepting a bottle of water. “Hey, did you see Jeremy Sutter in the front row?” Wriggling her hips, she did a fist pump. “The man has been playing hardball, but I think he’s going to accept our offer.”
Liam grunted. “He has a decent reputation, but…”
“Decent reputation?” she scoffed. “The man is a god among agents. And think. With him on board, you’ll have even more time to manage every minute of my life down to a nanosecond.”
“As if you’re cooperative now,” he drawled. “Now, we have to make an appearance at the after party. How soon do you think you can be ready?”
She touched the damp bun at the back of her head and glanced down at her flowing, cuffed white shirt, tight black leather pants, and knee-high stiletto boots.
“Um,” she hummed, lifting the water bottle to her mouth for a deep sip. “It depends. Do I have to dress up for this thing?”
Liam’s eyebrows hiked high. “Well, it requires more than ripped jeans and one of those hideous graphic tees you hoard.”
“So yes on dressing up.” She shrugged. “Forty minutes?”
He sighed as they drew to a halt in front of her dressing room door and the massive tank of a man, Joseph, who guarded it and her.
“I’d prefer thirty, but if an extra ten means makeup, I guess I can’t argue. I’ll wait for you out here.” Liam pressed a quick kiss to her forehead, then pulled his cell phone free to probably begin making one of his seemingly endless calls.
Shaking her head, she grinned at her bodyguard. “Hey, Joe. Has my door been behaving itself?”
The corner of his mouth quirked the tiniest bit, but the aloof expression didn’t alter as he shifted to the side, unblocking the entrance to the dressing room. “I only had to put it in time-out once, Ms. Jericho.”
Turning the knob, she snickered. “You’re such a hard-ass, Joe.” She slipped inside and closed the door. Silence greeted her, enveloped her. The quiet seemed almost jarring after the past hour. She inhaled, held the deep breath, then released it on a long sigh. Rolling her shoulders, she crossed the room and lowered to the chair in front of the brightly lit vanity table. She scrunched her face at the reflection in the mirror. Heavily lashed and shadowed eyes. Scarlet lipstick that made her mouth look double its normal size. Was there any wonder she preferred no makeup when not on stage? Hell, right now she resembled a goth burlesque dancer.
Smirking, she plucked the pins securing her bun free. Long, dark red hair tumbled to her shoulders and back. She groaned, rubbing her scalp. Closing her eyes, she massaged harder.
“Beautiful.” Her eyes popped open, the reverence in the word as startling and terrifying as the voice in a room she believed empty. A cry clawed up her throat as a pale, smiling face appeared next to hers. “You’re so beautiful.”
She screamed, but a hand slapped over her lips, stinging her skin and pressing the tender tissue inside her mouth against her teeth. The makeshift gag muffled the shout to a strangled whimper.
“Shh.” Metal glinted in the vanity’s bright bulbs. Terror crawled through her veins, freezing her blood. He lowered his hand, and she watched, paralyzed, as it stroked her lips in a depraved parody of a kiss before settling at the base of her neck. “We wouldn’t want anyone to interrupt us. Now that we’re finally able to meet face-to-face.”
He leaned farther down, and his free hand cupped her chin in an implacable grip. Cold, dry lips pressed to her temple, slid down the side of her face to her jaw. His tongue flicked over her skin like a snake’s forked tongue, tasting her. Nausea churned in her belly.
“I told you my love would find you,” he murmured, a frightening warmth in his soft gaze.
My love would find you…
Oh Christ. Quinton Lakes.

Wow! So what do you think? I know that was a lot to read, but I also like that I have the opportunity to tell you about an entire series. I recognized names in each excerpt so I would assume that reading the series in order would be best. The books are definitely interesting and sound like something I would read. But I really want to know what you guys thought. Is this series something you would read? What did you like best about the featured books? Have you read Ms. Simone before? I welcome all comments. Your feedback is always welcome.  And what about that interview? How fun was that? So, what IS one random fact no one knows about you?

As always, buy links are included in the post. If you are so inclined, purchase the books for yourself. There is no better way to support an author. I would like to thank each and every one of you for joining us today. And another special thanks to the wonderful Florence @ Buy The Book Tours, the company that originally scheduled this post for me. I hope you all had a blast getting to know a bit about Ms. Simone and her Secrets and Sins series. Wishing you all a fabulous day. Until next time …


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