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Monday, June 18, 2018

RYDER by Jessie Cooke


Title: Ryder
Series: Southside Skulls Motorcycle Club
Author: Jessie Cooke
Genre: MC Romance
Publication Date: June 18, 2018


Ryder:

A robbery, an obvious suspect, missing people, and a club president who doesn’t believe him… Ryder knows everything is against him, but his intuition has never let him down and he’s counting on it now, more than ever.
Storm was just trying to get by, dealing with the problems that kept getting thrown at her… and now this! She was already on the back foot, and life just took another step in the wrong direction - or was she destined to be right here, right now.

Time would tell, but time was running out faster than she could keep up.
This is the 12th book in the Southside Skulls MC Series. It is a Standalone Romance Novel but characters from the previous novels, DAX, CODY, GUNNER, ZACK, LEVI, KAT, HUNTER, GARRETT, WHEELIE, JIGSAW, RUSTY & CHOPPER are included in this story too. 
HEA and No cliffhanger.
Intended for Mature Readers.

* * *

The Southside Skulls MC Series is about members of the MC club, and their friends and associates. 
Each story, while focused around one or more main characters, is not necessarily about a Southside Skulls club member, but the story is related to Skulls members and the club.
















**********
“1939?” Tigger asked, for the third time at least. Ryder rolled his eyes. The kid was probably getting a headache trying to do the math.
“38-39. She’s 80 years old.”
“Damn, that’s older than my grandma.” Tigger chuckled and then said, “Grandma was a wild one, married five times...three of them were Hell’s Angels. There’s probably a lot of jokes in there...”
Ryder chuckled and said, “Don’t worry, I’m not going there.”
“So, no offense, but what’s so special about this bike?”
He was trying to be patient with the prospect, but the kid was jumping up and down on Ryder’s last nerve. He talked too much. Ryder wasn’t a talker, never had been. It was one of the reasons that he and Garrett were such good friends. They’d met in the army and found out they were both from Vegas and they both had more than a passing interest in motorcycles, but they both knew when to talk and when to keep their mouths shut. When a man had a handful of original, eighty-year-old parts...there was something reverential about that, at least in Ryder’s eyes. It was like being in church, and he wished the choir would shut the fuck up so he could pray in silence. He tried to gather what was left of his patience by reminding himself that he was a prospect once too, and he had learned because someone had been patient with him.
“Right after I got out of the army I met up with Garrett in Henderson, Nevada. We went into this dealership to get some shit for his bike and I saw her there. She was on a chrome platform and there were gold ropes around her. She was the prettiest thing I ever saw. It’s like the sky opened up and the heavens were shining down on her. I fell in love,” he snapped his fingers, “just like that.”
Tigger squished his pimply face up and said, “Sorry, I don’t see it.”
Ryder had been bent over. He rose up to his full six-foot-three and looked down at the skinny boy. Tigger actually looked nervous. Ryder had a mean face. People got nervous around him all the time, even when he was trying to be pleasant. Sometimes he thought about shaving the beard, but then he remembered that only made him look like a mean twelve-year-old. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” Ryder told him. “Besides, look at it this way…say a guy introduced you to his old lady right when she first woke up in the morning after a night of doing tequila shots and dancing on tables. Her mascara’s smeared all over her face and her skin’s all splotchy and that hair...” He held his hands up around his head, “You know, that wild, angry-looking hair with maybe a bit of dried vomit in the hairline?” Tigger made a face. “Right? Then imagine you run into some of the guys that were at the party the night before and they’re talking about a whole different woman. This one was dressed to kill, her make-up was on point, and her hair was long and smooth and sexy...same girl, different situations. You see, Edith...”
“Edith?”
“You wanna hear the rest of the story, or you wanna piss me off by talking shit about my old girl’s name?”
“Nah, man, sorry.”
“Like I was saying, Edith has had a long, hard life. That day in the dealership there was this plaque that told all about her. She was, in her day, a unique, experimental Harley Davidson. Edith was one of the actual Bill Harley, experimental, second generation, 52-cubic-inch overhead valve prototypes. She is only one of five produced. She came with aluminum heads and barrels, and a 1938 lower end, overhead valves, and a 1937 oil pump.”
Ryder could hear the excitement in his own voice, but he couldn’t help it. One thing he did do a lot of talking about was Edith. There was just so much to say about her. “Edith’s motor...this motor right here...was made just for her. She’s got narrow cams and an oversized cam cover, lifter blocks drilled to the channel, and they vacuum the oil from the OHV heads. And look at those wheels. One-off narrow stepped hubs with spoke wheels. Damn, I almost get a hard-on just looking at her. She ain’t what she used to be, but she will be again someday. It took me a while to save up enough cash to get her shipped out here from Vegas, and now it’s gonna take a while for me to save enough to finish buying the original parts and paint that I need to restore her, but when I’m finished with her, Edith will shine again just like it’s 1939.”
“She get burnt?”
“Not burnt so much as smoke damaged. See, that night, after I saw her, there was a fire at that dealership. It was the whole block, really...some drunk hit a pole that sent up a big spark and ignited all kinds of shit. But something saved her...maybe it was divine intervention, what do you think?” Tigger shrugged, and Ryder said, “Anyway, you know what her price tag said that first time I saw her?” Tigger shook his head. “Two hundred and twenty thousand dollars.” The kid whistled through his teeth and Ryder said, “I know, right? Dude, no ordinary man could have bought her. She would have ended up in some rich casino boss’s collection...but since she was smoke damaged, and the owner of the dealership was gonna collect the insurance anyway, he auctioned her off about a week after the fire.”
“So how much did you pay?” Tigger asked.
“Just wait a second, you have to hear the whole story so you can understand how I knew Edith and I were meant to be. See, about a week after the fire Garrett and I had the day off and we were hitting the bars on the strip pretty hard. We met these girls in a bar on Fremont Street. Hot girls, and they were pretty drunk too. So Garrett and his girl took off first and me and mine were doing some gambling because she seemed a little hesitant. Dude, I hit a twenty-five thousand dollar jackpot on one of the progressive machines.”
“No fucking way!”
“Fucking way, man. That girl was already horny but when she saw all that cash, it was on. We got a room and a bottle and damn, that was some fine pussy. Almost the best I ever had.”
“And her name was Edith?”
“No. Will you just let me tell the story?” Tigger nodded, and Ryder said:
“So, we got it on all night and the next day about noon we got woke up by a pounding on the door. I opened it and there was this MILF...I mean, she was hot. She was all dressed up fancy, huge tits spilling out of the top of her dress, big hair...nice, let me tell you. But the weird part was that she had a wedding dress in one hand and she was pulling Garrett’s chick by the ear with the other.”
“Oh, shit!”
“Yeah, seems my little girl was late for her own wedding. She was getting married to some rich Wall Street guy. She whined but Mama Edith whipped her butt into shape really quickly. She sent her off to get ready...and while the girl was doing that, Edith and I got to know each other better.”
Tigger was laughing. “Fuck! That’s an awesome story.” Ryder knew it was and he loved telling it, especially since it was all true.
“Yep. So, after Edith left to see that her little girl became Mrs. Rich Wall Street Guy, I’m cruising downtown on my way back to the house and I pass this auction yard. I happen to see this ‘fire sale’ sign and since I’m still flush with the cash I’d won the night before, I stop, and I’ll be damned if this beauty isn’t on the block just as I walk through the gates. It was fate. Edith and I were meant to be.”
“Like soulmates,” Tigger said.
“Now you’re just making it weird.” Tigger’s face turned red and Ryder laughed. “I’m just messing with you, kid. Go get me a beer, will you?”
“Sure.” Tigger headed off toward the back of the shop where the refrigerator was and Ryder squatted back down next to the bike. He’d just picked up the cloth and polisher he was using when he heard:
“Ryder, you in here?” It was Garrett.
“Yep, over here.” He stood up again and saw his giant friend coming toward him. Ryder hadn’t wanted to return to California when he got out of the army. He was okay with visiting his family from time to time, but he didn’t have to live down the street. Instead, he’d gone to Vegas and Garrett had gotten him into the club he rode with as a prospect. They were both nomads, and that suited their lone wolf lifestyles, but as the club president began putting more pressure on Garrett to do things that were tormenting his soul, Garrett met a woman and decided to make a lot of changes in his life. The biggest one...besides his girl Paige, of course…was leaving Vegas and joining up with the Skulls in Boston. About six months later in one of their monthly phone talks, Garrett told him that Dax Marshall was recruiting men skilled in hydroponics. Ryder fit that bill and had grown restless in Nevada...so here he was on the east coast and wearing the Southside Skulls colors on his vest.
“Hey, I hate to interrupt your time with Edith,” Garrett chuckled. “I need a favor.”
“Sure, what’s up?” Tigger was back with the beer. He handed one to Ryder and Garrett took the other out of his hand. Ryder smiled. He figured the second beer had probably been for Tigger himself, but he wasn’t about to tell the giant biker that. The prospect scurried off to get another and Garrett said:
“Dax asked me to go into town to the bar tonight and pick up the receipts. I was gearing up, but Paige started having pains...”
“She’s in labor?” Garrett’s old lady was pregnant and about to pop, from the looks of her. Garrett already had a little girl that he shared custody of with his ex. He thought the sun rose and set on that little girl, and Ryder thought it was really something to see his friend, a former army sharpshooter and assassin, on the DL kissing boo-boos and teaching his little girl how to ride a bike. He was a good dad, and when he found out Paige was having a boy, he was walking on air.
“I’m not sure. They’re still kind of far apart but since we’re a ways out from the hospital, her doctor told her to go in and get checked. So, I need someone to go get the deposit and receipts from Carolyn.”
Carolyn ran the bar that the Skulls owned in the city. Surprisingly, it was kind of a yuppie bar where Boston’s young, hip businessmen and women spent their time after work and on the weekends. Dax had bought the bar in the name of one of his dummy corporations and not many people even knew that the Skulls owned it. It was called 92 Proof and a lady named Carolyn Myers had been managing it for the five years that the Skulls owned it. Carolyn was a great lady, if not a little rough around the edges, and she was meticulous with the books. Once a week Dax sent Gunner or Garrett to collect the “deposit” and the receipts. Carolyn didn’t like the idea of turning over all that cash to anyone but the bank, but Dax had his own way of doing things and most of the Skulls’ “deposits” didn’t happen in the traditional sense. Despite expecting someone to show up to collect them every Monday night, however, she still went a little batshit crazy if anyone she didn’t know showed up and asked for them. A few of the guys had to wait for hours until she could get a hold of Dax before she’d release them, and one poor prospect got held at gunpoint when he tried to say fuck it and leave anyway. Luckily, she knew Ryder because he’d gone in with Garrett several times. She also knew Paige was expecting, so she shouldn’t have a problem with Ryder going in alone tonight, he hoped.
“Well, of course I’ll go get them for you. Let me know what’s going on when you get to the hospital.”
“I will, thanks, brother.” Garrett handed Ryder a set of keys and then Ryder gave him a bro-hug and told him to give Paige his love before he left. Then Ryder tucked Edith in for the night, got on his 2004 HD Softail, and headed into town. An hour later he was pulling up in front of 92 Proof. It looked pretty busy for a Monday night; there was no parking out front and it looked like people were spilling out the front door. Ryder parked his bike in the back and went in through the kitchen door. He’d just stridden past the big stainless-steel dishwasher when he was suddenly looking at the business end of a baseball bat.
“Take one more step and you’re a dead man.”
Ryder’s eyes followed the Louisville slugger down to the woman holding it. The well-worn wooden bat was a sharp contrast to the innocent face of the woman clutching it like she was waiting for the perfect pitch. Her brow was creased tightly and her pretty pink lips were curved downward in a frown. She had long blonde hair and it was pulled back into a thick ponytail. The neckline of her shirt was just low enough to show off a bit of cleavage and the edges of a colorful tattoo. Ryder thought it might be some kind of flower, but he was afraid if he stared at her chest for too long, she might take a swing at his head. “Whoa there, little lady...”
“Don’t little lady me, I’ll take your head clean off!”
He tried not to smile, because she looked like she just might try. Ryder was looking directly at her face now and he decided quickly that although the rest of her was pretty, it was her eyes that made her beautiful. They were hazel, more green than brown, and surrounded by long, dark eyelashes...but it was the passion in them that made them so unique. They were like looking into two big, round orbs of fire. Of course he knew the passion in them at the moment was borne of the fear that some bum had just walked in through the alley with sketchy intentions...but it was still hot. It gave the impression that she was the kind of woman that life might bend but never break, and although he could probably easily take the bat out of her hands, she wouldn’t give it up without a fight. Again, hot.
“I’m here to see Carolyn,” he said. The little blonde narrowed her eyes even further on his face.
“And do you always come in the back door when you come to visit Carolyn?”
“Not always, no. Tonight, I happened to have the key.” He held up the keys Garrett had given him up. She let her eyes flit to them and then back to his face.
“Are you a friend of Carolyn’s?”
“Business associate,” Ryder said. “You can just tell her I’m here for the bank deposit.”
“What’s your name?”
“Ryder Moore.”
“Ride Her More?”
Ryder laughed. “Well, I’ll be damned. Most people don’t get that so quickly. You’re good.” He was impressed. That was exactly why the guys called him Ryder...and he wasn’t kidding that most people weren’t clever enough to figure it out.
She rolled her eyes. “Figures, you look like a player.”
“Storm! Where are those glasses?” Ryder didn’t take his eyes off “Storm’s” face even as he saw Carolyn push through the swinging doors a few feet behind her. The middle-aged brunette stopped in her tracks, put her hands on her slim hips, and said, “What the hell is going on?”
“Hey there, Carolyn.”
“Ryder, what the hell are you doing in the kitchen and Storm, why are you holding a bat on him?”
“I came to pick up the receipts. Paige might be in labor; Garrett took her to the hospital. He gave me the key to the back door. It was crowded out front, so I thought I’d just slip in this way.” He smiled at Storm then and said, “Now you go.”
Storm slowly lowered the bat to her side, but she continued to glare at Ryder. “I’m sorry,” she said, not sounding sorry at all. “I thought he was breaking in. I’ve never seen anyone come in that door...”
Ryder was just about to accept her feeble apology when the sound of a scream and shattering glass cut him off and sent a chill down his spine. He reached back for the gun resting in his waistband just as he heard the unmistakable metallic sound of a shotgun being cocked. “Fuck me,” he said in a whisper as he made his way toward the swinging door that separated the kitchen and the bar. “Garrett better at least give that kid mine for a middle name.”




5 STARS

Ryder did a favor and ran right into a robbery and a hot little firebrand with a big stick. While they were fighting over his right to come in the back door to pick up the bank deposit--someone else was out front robbing them. Robbing an MC is not a good idea.

Storm was brand new. She was also the main suspect. Ryder saw more in her and didn't believe her guilty. Of course, the fact he wanted her might have something to do with his feelings. At least that's what Dax, the prez thought.

So begins the new life for Storm and Ryder. In order to prove her innocence, he has to find out who really did the deed. Just when he thinks he trusts her a new player enters, plants evidence and leaves. Yep, life isn't on her side right now. Good thing Ryder is. Can he prove her innocence? Is she? Do they have a chance?

I like this MC. They are tough, loyal, mostly legal, and don't treat any of their women badly. Of course, the guys are hot and women lovers.

Reviewed for Words Turn Me On




4 STARS

This book was interesting. It kept you guessing to what will happen, and who is guilty. It had a lot of hot scenes.

I liked Ryder, he has a sense of humour, his protective and loyal. He won't let anything go, until he knows truth.

I liked Storm, she is sweet, sassy and independent. She works hard, and cares for her family.

I enjoyed this book, and recommend this series.













Jessie Cooke writes hot romance novels about tough guys, bad boys, bikers, fighters and lovers and the women of strong character who tame them.




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COVER REVEAL - Beyond the Bases by Kaylee Ryan




Title: Beyond the Bases
Author: Kaylee Ryan
Genre: New Adult
Cover Design: Sommer Stein
Release Date: July 31, 2018



Blurb

What happens when you want more in life than just running the bases? 
You hang out at home plate and stop playing the field.


He's sexy and irresistible. I've done my best to ignore the magnetism that flows between us. I don't need complications in my life. I can't get wrapped up in his world, the last thing I need is to get attached to a professional athlete. I don’t have time for heartbreak.


Something about her pulls me in. I want to get to know her. I want a chance to show her I'm more than just my career, my paycheck. I'm the man for her. I know I am. No matter how much she resists this connection between us. It doesn't change the fact that she’s my grand slam.







Pre-order Links

B&N / KOBO / iBOOKS
GOOGLE PLAY






Author Bio


Kaylee Ryan is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author.  When she’s not spinning tales of happily ever after, she’s reading or spending time with family.  Born and raised an Ohio girl, Kaylee resides in Cincinnati with her husband and their son.


Author Links

Friday, June 15, 2018

Book Blast A Loving Mix: Loving Day Anthology




A Loving Mix: Loving Day Anthology
Genre: Contemporary Interracial Romance



Blurb
In our world, outside forces find reasons to keep us apart. Wealth, religion, and

race are dividing factors. All manmade barriers that have nothing to do with the

heart of the people involved. Although wealth and religion can be hidden, race

cannot.

On June 12th, 1967, the Supreme Court struck down the laws that enforced

racial segregation in marriage and Loving Day was created. To celebrate this

step to remove this unjust barrier to love, eight Interracial Romance authors

have come together to celebrate with stories that challenge the social norms on

both sides of the coin. With contemporary, paranormal and historical settings

discover how finding the other half of your soul is worth fighting for.


Beyond Everything by Angela Kay Austin

When you’re trying not to be found, what happens when you can’t hide from

tradition, family or love?


The Dance by Jamallah Bergman

Living in a small town was hard enough but when old traditions are about to

mess with their Senior dance, Sophie decides that enough is enough. As she

embarks on her quest for a dance where ‘everyone is welcome’ she learns a lot

along the way about her small town’s racial history.

Grave Intentions -A Witch for Hire Novella by Shyla Colt

Hedge-witch, Cedar Hollings is used to working odd cases, but tracking a

necromancer with the witch-hating vampire Arlington Bonnor is taking her 
down a path she never imagined for herself.


An Imperfect Family by Tricia Drammeh

Zach and Claudia have always believed their love for each other could overcome

any obstacle, but when Zach’s teenage children come for a summer visit, an

unforeseen challenge threatens to destroy their love and everything they have

planned for their future.


Two if by Sea by Ines Johnson
Set sail on this fish out of water adventure as the Arthurian Lady of the Lake

crash lands into the Greek God of the Sea in “Two if by Sea”!


Secret Devotion by Reana Malori


Loving someone shouldn’t have to be so tough. Tanner and Chantell have loved

each for a lifetime, but sometimes love isn’t enough. Long-held bigotry and

prejudice has stood in the way of their love for too long. After years of hiding

behind the veil of friendship, Chantell has had enough and she’s willing to leave

Tanner if things don’t change. What she doesn’t realize is, Tanner will never let

her go.


Unintended by Cerece Rennie Murphy

Not all good news is cause for celebration. When eighteen-year-old Katherine

comes home from her first semester of college engaged to Clayton Davis, what

was expected to be a peaceful Thanksgiving dinner erupts into a multi-family

crisis as secrets are revealed, cultures clash, and confrontations re-open old

wounds. You’re Invited!


All That Matters In Her World by Michel Prince


John Brand IV knows he lives the easy life, but all that matters is being part of

Audi Cartwright’s world even if it costs him everything he’s been given.



Buy Links

Amazon Us - https://amzn.to/2ygC9GE

B&N - http://bit.ly/2t8fwi4

iTunes - https://apple.co/2LOh3kR

Kobo - http://bit.ly/2JQBf8u



Author Bios

Angela Kay Austin - Angela Kay Austin writes Women’s Fiction and Romance;
stories of women who have been broken, but not beaten from her home in
Tennessee were she writes and dreams.


Jamallah Bergman - Jamallah Bergman writes both Contemporary and Erotica
Interracial Romance and also enjoys other hobbies in Atlanta GA where she
lives with her daughter.


Shyla Colt - USA Today Bestselling Author, Shyla Colt lives off coffee in the
Buckeye state, genre-hops her way through romance stories, and writes urban
fantasy into the wee hours of the morning.


Tricia Drammeh - Tricia Drammeh is an editor, blogger, and author of
multicultural fantasy, young adult paranormal, and contemporary fiction.


Ines Johnson - Lover of fairytales, folklore, and mythology, Ines Johnson spends her days reimagining the stories of old in a modern world so that she can write books where damsels cause the distress, princesses wield swords, and moms save the world.


Reana Malori - Reana Malori is a Best Selling Author of contemporary,
paranormal and military romance books featuring women of color.


Cerece Rennie Murphy - Cerece Rennie Murphy is the National best selling and award-winning author of 7 science fiction, fantasy, historical romance, and
children’s books that stimulate your mind and capture your heart.


Michel Prince-USA Today Best Selling Author Michel Prince lives in the Twin
Cities Area and writes contemporary, paranormal and sports romance.


Author websites:
Angela Kay Austin - www.angelakayaustin.com/

Jamallah Bergman -jamallahbergmansstoriesoflove.weebly.com/

Shyla Colt www.shylacolt.net

Tricia Drammeh: http://www.triciadrammeh.com/

Ines Johnson: https://ineswrites.com/

Reana Malori - www.reanamalori.com

Cerece Rennie Murphy- www.cerecerenniemurphy.com

Michel Prince www.MichelPrinceBooks.com


Presented by: WLKBookPromotions.com

Beneath the Shine by Lisa Sorbe




Presents

Release Blitz

Beneath the Shine
by Lisa Sorbe


Genre: Contemporary Romance

Series: Prairie Tales; Book 3 (Standalone)




Thirty-year-old Betsy Kline knows what holds her back. Knows she is the way she is and guards herself the way she does. It took her years, but she finally has the good common sense to know that what happened back then wasn't her fault. But knowing isn't enough to stanch the flow of memories that eat away at her dreams like toxic sludge. Nor is it enough to stop the self-loathing that always finds its way in, creeping-creeping-creeping, tainting every decision she makes. 

But life isn't all bad. She works for a boss she doesn't despise, has a picture-perfect boyfriend (on the outside, at least), and has the sort of friends her lonely younger self only ever dreamed of having. 

Like Adair McTaggart. Now there's a best friend if there ever was one. And the fact that he's a hunk with a sexy Scottish lilt doesn't hurt, either.

Or maybe it does, because lately Betsy can't stop fantasizing about him. Can't keep her heart from stuttering a pathetic little beat in her chest whenever she so much as thinks about him. And when Life throws them together as temporary roommates, those feelings only intensify. Which is the worst thing ever, because he's too good for her. Sure, she can keep him as a friend. But what would she do if she lost him as a lover?

When you've felt wrong for so long, is it possible to ever feel right? And how do you heal the wounds you can't see?







Follow the Author



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Read Review Repeat

Just Like Grey: TWO by Jessie Cooke


Title: Just Like Grey: TWO
Author: Jessie Cooke
Genre: Steamy Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: April 1, 2018




Recently single, billionaire corporate raider Alex Romaletti, can have anything he needs…anything he wants, but all that really matters is love. 

He can’t buy it, and he can’t steal it. He has to earn it, and to do that, he must do whatever it takes, no matter what…to prove he is more than just another sexy man of money.

As a tough and ruthless businessman, used to getting what he wants, it shouldn’t be a problem - but it is.

Isabelle Brazil, the beautiful girl with the faraway eyes, sitting lonely in their sad cafe, doesn’t want another shallow romance that will evaporate in the sunlight of a new day. She wants a Job! A What? A JOB!
Like the one that she has just lost. The job she loved, until someone bought the business and she was made redundant.
No one… NO ONE likes to be redundant. That’s unforgivable.









     “Mr. Romaletti, are you okay?” The sweet little waitress that served Alex his coffee every morning for the past two years looked genuinely worried as she set the cup down in front of him. He didn't even have to order it any longer. As soon as the girls saw him walk in, they fired up the espresso machine. They were good people…and of course the fact that he often left them tips in the hundred-dollar range probably helped.
“I'm okay Gigi, thanks. Just have a lot on my mind.”
“Well good,” she said, not looking convinced. “Can I get you any breakfast this morning?”
“Nah, I'll have something at my meeting later, thanks.” She smiled and left him alone. That was really what he'd been looking for. When you're the most successful “activist shareholder” in the US and parts of Europe, people have a tendency to not leave you alone. That's why Alex was usually surrounded by bodyguards and house staff, or office staff, or someone else that generally only serves to annoy him. Today he'd sneaked out of the penthouse while his bodyguard was having breakfast and flirting with his new cook. It wouldn't take long for the man to realize Alex was gone, and he figured by the time he finished his coffee, the big ape would be waiting for him outside the cafe. But at least he'd gotten his morning walk in without having to engage in mindless chatter.
The bells on the door rang and he looked up. A woman walked in with a look on her face that rivaled his for misery. He was miserable because he'd just broken up with his long-term girlfriend, Kelly. It was an amicable breakup, no screaming or shouting or dramatics. They both just knew the relationship had run its course and for that he was grateful. But…and he hated to admit this even to himself…he hated having not having sex on speed-dial. Not that the sex with Kelly was even that great. It was average at best and lately had even crossed the line into boring. But it was there, readily available. He didn't have to pay for it…well, not outright anyways, and he didn't have to drag his bodyguard around a club while he picked one out for the night. Who he was made pussy easy…but unlike a lot of men, easy was never what turned Alex on.
He watched the woman walk up to the counter. Something about her drew him in. She wasn't his usual type. She was wearing an over-sized gray sweater and jeans, and a pair of soft suede boots with fur around the top where she'd tucked the jeans in. Her hair was pulled up underneath a knit band made to keep her ears warm and long, dark strands hung messily down her neck and some spilled out around her face. Her cheeks were flush and she didn't look like she was wearing any makeup, even on the long, dark eyelashes that surrounded her dark blue eyes. Maybe that was because she didn't need it. Despite her messy appearance, she might well be one of the most breathtaking women Alex had ever seen…and in his business, he'd seen a lot.
“A small coffee.” He heard her say. “With room for cream.”
“Sure hon,” the girl behind the counter said as she rang it up. “Any breakfast today? We have some amazing, fresh pastries…oh and our new breakfast sandwiches are…”
“No!” The woman snapped it out and then almost instantly seemed to regret her tone “I'm sorry,” she said, sounding sincere. “The coffee is fine.”
While the girl got her coffee, Alex watched the woman's pretty eyes in the reflection of the pastry shelf glass. She was looking at the pastries like they were bars of gold. When the girl came back with her coffee, it took her a few seconds to refocus her attention. When she did, she handed the girl a fistful of change. Alex watched the girl count it out…there were even pennies in the mix. This woman wasn't miserable because she was wondering where her next piece of ass was coming from. She was miserable because she was hungry. Alex instantly felt like an ungrateful ass. Here he was with everything that anyone could ever want. He was always warm, always had plenty of food in his belly…fine food too, that new chef of his was a five star…and, if there was anything else he ever wanted, all he had to do was pull out his wallet…anything. Yet here he was, feeling sorry for himself while people around him were starving. Yeah, he felt like a really big ass.
While the woman with the dark hair was putting cream and sugar in her coffee, Alex got Gigi's attention and waved her over. “You change your mind about breakfast?” she asked.
“Not for me, Gigi.” He took two hundred’s out of his wallet and said, “Will you fix a couple of your breakfast sandwiches and maybe two or three turkey sandwiches…some pastries, whatever. Put it in a bag and make sure that woman there gets them on her way out. You can keep the change or put it in the bag with her food.”
Gigi looked over her shoulder. “She does look hungry, doesn't she?”
“Yeah.”
“I'll make sure she gets the change Mr. R. You're a good man.”
He laughed. “That's debatable, but thanks. Make sure she doesn't know where it came from, okay?”
Gigi nodded and smiled before taking the money and going back behind the counter. Alex watched the woman, trying not to stare and attract attention to himself as he did. He was worried she'd leave before Gigi got the bag ready for her. When she started for the door without it, he almost called out to her himself. But Gigi was earning all of those big tips he'd left her over the years.
“Miss! I'm sorry, could you come back for a second please?” The woman looked worried and glanced nervously around the crowded cafe as she headed back to the counter. Alex averted his eyes when she looked at him, but as soon as he back was turned, he found her pretty face in the bakery counter once more.
“Is something wrong?” she asked Gigi, almost meekly.
“No. But this is for you,” Gigi said, handing her a bag that looked like it might bust wide open.
“Oh no, I think you made a mistake. I just had coffee…”
“No, one of my customers asked me to make sure you got this.” The woman looked at the bag and then glanced around the cafe again. This time Alex let their eyes meet. He smiled slightly, she gave him a nervous look in return before scanning the rest of the restaurant.
“I don't know what to say,” the woman said.
Gigi smiled and said, “Sometimes our customers do this and all they expect in return is for someone to pay it forward someday when they can.” Alex smiled again. Gigi was good.
“Oh, well…please thank them for me if you can.”
Gigi gave her a sweet smile and said, “I'm sure they know how much you appreciate it. You have a wonderful day.”
“I will…you too…and thank you, again.” The woman tucked the bag under her arm, glanced around the room again, this time letting her eyes linger on Alex's face for a few moments. Did she guess it was him? She smiled nervously this time and then quickly headed out the door, bag in tow. Alex waited a few seconds so that she didn’t see him watching and then glanced over his shoulder. She was waiting to cross at the corner and looking down into the bag with a look of wonder on her pretty face. It gave him a warm feeling and for the first time in years he began to wonder if maybe it was time to get out of the corporate raiding business and do something more philanthropic. He laughed, almost out loud. Wouldn't that turn the corporate world on its ear? Alex Romaletti…corporate raider extraordinaire…heartless, cold, callous…richer than God, turns philanthropist. He was suddenly feeling better than he had in weeks. Just the thought of how the rich snobs he ran with would take it, tickled him to his core. Maybe his funk wasn't so much about Kelly as it was about boredom. Maybe he just needed a change.
* * *
Alex still had an hour before his meeting after he finished his coffee, and surprisingly, his bodyguard hadn't shown up yet. He thought about firing him for being so inept and laughed out loud again as he wondered if he was losing it. He stepped outside into the cool, New York morning. It was early September and the leaves were all just beginning to turn. This morning was cooler than usual, but he liked it. He pulled his coat around his shoulders and headed off in the direction of Central Park. His stuffy bodyguards never let him stroll through the park, so he was going to do it today just to spite them.
He walked up to Fifth Avenue and crossed the street into the park. Alex grew up in New York, so Central Park had been a part of his life for as long as he remembered. He loved the way it was a mixture of all the different classes and cultures in the city, and for the most part, everyone mixed peacefully. It had its bad sections of course where tourists could be easily pick pocketed, or purse thieves practiced their art, and the sections thick with the homeless and downtrodden, with their cups held out, begging for a morsel of hope. But the beauty of the now fiery trees, thick grass, rolling hill, statues, fountains and ponds, far outweighed the inconveniences in Alex's opinion. He walked up the hill toward the Conservatory waters, and then past the Boathouse and in the direction of the Bethesda fountain and lake. He stood looking out at the water for too long and when he finally headed toward 72nd Street and past the Strawberry Fields, he knew he would be late for his meeting. But…it was “his” meeting, so he also knew that everyone would wait. Strawberry Fields had been his favorite spot since he was in college. He used to bring his textbooks and sit on one of the benches under the shade trees and study in the tranquil silence as John Lennon watched on from his place in Beatles Heaven.
He was happy to see that today it wasn't crowded, just a few homeless people here and there and an older woman with a book, sitting on one of the benches. He was about to stroll on through and get to his meeting when something caught his attention. A homeless man sat with his back against one of the trees. He had on a long-sleeved shirt, but no coat and shoes with holes in the toes. His face looked as if it hadn't been shaved in a year or more and the crumbs of whatever he'd scavenged to eat still appeared to be embedded here and there. But the man wasn't really what had caught his attention. It was the woman who had stopped next to him. She was holding a half-unwrapped sandwich in her hand and looked like she'd stopped in her tracks just as she was about to take a bite. She'd noticed the homeless man as well and instead of biting into the sandwich, she held it out to him.
“Thank you, miss! God Bless you. I haven't had a bite in days.” The woman smiled at him. That smile warmed Alex's heart…and those blue eyes, he'd seen them before, just this morning. She was the woman from the coffee shop, and she was giving the man the sandwich that she'd looked so hungry for.   
“You're welcome…here,” she said. “Maybe you could share this with some of the others.” She handed him the bag of goodies Gigi had packed for her and looked across at the small camp of homeless people not far behind him.
He smiled a toothless smile and said, “You're an angel, and I will. Thank you.” She smiled again and with her back to Alex walked over to one of the benches and sat down. He wondered if she'd kept the money that was in the bag, or if she'd given it to the homeless as well. Either way, it was the nicest gesture of human kindness he'd personally witnessed in a very long time. It was one thing to be a billionaire and buy a few sandwiches. It was entirely another to be hungry and give away your food. With a resolve to meet this woman, Alex headed in her direction. As he walked up behind her, he watched as she pulled a book out of her bag. It was a hardcover book and the title read: “Shades of Grey.” Alex smiled. She might be hungry, but she was a sexual being as well…he'd hit the jackpot.
“Hi there,” he said, walking around where she could see him.
She looked up at him and the smile she'd been wearing fell from her face. She drew her brows together. “You…you're the man from the cafe this morning.”
“Yes. Alex…” She cut him off as he held out his hand,
“Are you following me?”
“No. I was just walking through the park and I saw you give that man your food. That was really nice of you.”
She looked down at the ground and when she looked back up, he cheeks were colored with a scarlet blush. “He was hungry. It was no big deal.” She set the book aside and placed her bag on top of it. Alex suppressed a smile. She pulled a newspaper out of her bag then and ignoring him completely now, she opened it to the classifieds.
Alex wasn't going to be put off so easily. He took a seat next to her and almost smiled again when she scooted the opposite direction to put more space between them. “Sorry, I don't mean to impose on your quiet time, but, are you looking for a job?”
She sighed. “Can I ask why you're so concerned about my business?”
With a smile he said, “You didn't let me finish introducing myself. I'm Alex…” Damn it if she didn't cut him off again.
“I'm sorry, no offense, but I don't really care who you are.” She put her paper back in the bag, picked up her book and stood up. Alex let her march a few feet away before pulling out the big guns.
“Well, that's too bad. I was going to offer to buy you lunch and discuss a business proposition.”




3 STARS
I wasn't sure what I was going to read when I started this book. I have read Jessie's mc series. So this was a new one for me. I liked it, it had a good story line. But it took a while to get into.

I liked Alex, he was a hard worker, and goes for what he wants.

I liked Isabelle, she is feisty, speaks the truth and will do anything she wants.

I liked this book, and recommend it.





Jessie Cooke writes hot romance novels about tough guys, bad boys, bikers, fighters and lovers and the women of strong character who tame them.
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