BOOK REVIEW: Losers Weepers by Nicole Williams

LosersWeepersIf we didn’t know darkness, we couldn’t fully appreciate the light.

Garth Black’s more familiar with this concept than most people are. He hadn’t just lived in the dark for the majority of his life—he thrived in it. With a mom who’d bailed on him and a dad whose understanding of coddling started and ended with a bottle of whiskey, Garth had never been expected to rise to any sort of occasion other than following down the same dead-end paths.

That changed when he fell in love with Josie Gibson. After years of pulling each other closer before shoving the other way, they finally stopped shoving. Josie’s love is like nothing Garth’s ever experienced. He holds it close. He holds it sacred. He would do anything to preserve it and keep it from pollution, even if that means removing himself from the picture.

Garth might have been allowed a temporary furlough to bask in the light, but that pass has been revoked, and he’s been swallowed again by the dark. Will he revert to his old ways of hurting those he cares for most? Will he go back to the same destructive patterns . . . or will it be worse this time?

We can’t know light without first knowing dark . . . and Garth Black’s about to get acquainted with the dark in a whole new way.

review

“You don’t throw away the love of a lifetime because someone gets injured—that’s when you prove what your love’s really made of.”

Garth Black. This dark, troubled, smart-alecky cowboy stole my heart in Finders Keepers, but I have to admit that getting a continuation of his story was equally thrilling as it was terrifying at first, because every protective bone in my body did not wish any more harm to come to these beloved characters. Garth and Josie’s love story had been a lesson in perseverance, of stubbornly fighting for what we want most in our lives, and of breaking the self-disparaging cycle we might have been born into. But their tale was not over, as blissfully as it had ended, and one more hurdle was needed for Garth to recognise and truly embrace the unconditional love a woman like Josie was offering him. An intensely emotional and thought-provoking story, sugar-coated with light-hearted humour and sarcasm, it never steered away from getting across a very meaningful message of hope and courage, of learning to grab life by the horns instead of fearing it, of living to the fullest regardless of what the future has in store for us, and of seizing every minute of every day like it were our last. I fell in love with these characters all over again, and I still find myself smiling from time to time as certain scenes unexpectedly flash through my mind, because this superb, feel-good story stays with us long after we turn the last page.

“I had nothing to compare to the way she loved me, and that’s what made it so special. No one but her had ever come close to loving me like that. No one had ever believed in me the way she did. Her love was so big and overwhelming that each day with her erased another day of pain and failure from my past. Her love was magic, healing me as it lifted me up, and though she tried convincing me otherwise, I knew I could spend ten lifetimes trying and failing to give her what she’d given me in a year’s time.”

Garth and Josie have found their happy ending in each other’s arms and with a hopeful future before them. But, after a childhood void of affection and approval, and having been told all his life that he was nothing, Garth still struggles with his self-esteem issues, especially when it comes to truly believing that he could ever be worthy of someone as wonderful as Josie. He plans of handing her the world, of making every single one of her dreams come true, thus making her as happy as she makes him, and his career as a bull rider is his means to that very end. But one moment, one flash in time, steals his dreams away and leaves him facing the kind of future he has dreaded all his life.

“My whole life, everything I’d been and everything I’d wanted to become, was spiraling away from me. Fragments of the man I’d been and the man I’d wanted to become were gusting out of reach. My life as I’d known it was over. My life as I’d hoped it would be would never come to fruition.”

As we watch him reverting to his old, sarcastic, self-destructive ways in an attempt to cope emotionally with his own helplessness and inherent pessimism, we also watch him push away those he loves the most in life—his Josie most of all. Convinced that she would be better off without him and determined to give her the life he believes she should want, he becomes his cantankerous old self, the man he knows Josie should not love. But all his plans fall through one by one as he realises that the firecracker he loves more than life itself is not a woman who can be told what to feel or what to do. And that her love comes with no conditions.

“Joze, you and I are more alike than both your mother and father pray every night we’re not.”
“Ah, that’s the sweetest thing you’ve ever said to me. Nothing says romance like implying your woman’s the asshole equivalent of you with boobs.”

Ms Williams has given us a kickass heroine that created the perfect character balance to the hero’s often belligerent and gloomy ways. Josie is Garth’s perfect match in so many ways, defusing his negativity with her sharp tongue and quick wit, disarming him with her bubbliness and playfulness, and mending his broken heart with her endless love and devotion. Even in his darkest hour, she is the beacon that pulls him out of his own misery.

“My God, Joze. You’re the best damn woman God had the audacity to go and create. How did I end up with you?”

There is something so emotionally fulfilling about a story like this one—even the sadder moments leaving us bursting with hope and positivity—but it is the sheer magnitude and beauty of the love present on every single one of these pages that captured my heart irreversibly. This inspiring, uplifting, touching love story was great before, but now it became a sight to behold. I cherished every moment and was only too happy to discover that one way or another, we would not be saying goodbye to these beloved characters just yet, as they would inevitably play a minor role in the final chapter of Jesse and Rowen’s story in Heart and Soul. This is a book for the heart and mine is overflowing right now.

“Nothing’s fine without you, Joze. But with you? Everything’s perfect.”

5stars

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Lost and Found – Reading Order and Purchase Links
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Lost and FoundMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Near and FarMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Finders KeepersMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Losers WeepersMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Heart and Soul: iBooks (16 Jun 2015)

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EXCLUSIVE COVER REVEAL: Heart and Soul by Nicole Williams

It’s my birthday and I have a little surprise for you!!! Tomorrow, when Losers Weepers comes out, you’ll find out on the very last page that Jesse and Rowen’s story is not over yet and that we will be getting a final chapter in their heart-warming romance, coming in June 2015. And today, I have the honour of sharing with you the cover and blurb of Heart and Soul… ♥

Expected release date: 16 June 2015

heartandsoul

Love is what makes us. It’s also what breaks us.

If this is true, Rowan just became the proverbial wrecking ball to Jesse’s life.

Upon discovering Rowan is pregnant after taking every precaution to ensure otherwise due to a life-threatening heart condition, Jesse is forced to face too many harsh realities and they send him into a desperate, dark place. To consider the possibility that he might lose his wife and unborn child is too much for Jesse to bear.

The situation is out of his control, so he gloms on to the few things he can control. Like noting Rowan’s every move, or dialing the doctor whenever her face goes a shade pale, or even acknowledging the fact he’d be willing to make a deal with the devil in exchange for his wife’s and child’s lives. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do or give or sacrifice to keep them from harm.

But what happens when the devil takes that deal Jesse struck, and the tables turn? A life for a life. A soul for a soul. A heart for a heart. His life for theirs.

Love is what makes us. It’s also what breaks us.

Love’s made Jesse and Rowan. Love’s about to break them too.

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Lost and Found: My ReviewAmazon US | Amazon UKAmazon CA | Paperback
Near and FarMy ReviewAmazon US | Amazon UKAmazon CA | Paperback
Finders KeepersMy ReviewAmazon US | Amazon UKAmazon CA | Paperback
Losers WeepersMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Heart and SouliBooks (16 Jun 2015)

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EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT & GIVEAWAY: Losers Weepers by Nicole Williams

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♥ Happy Valentine’s Day, my book junkies!!! ♥

The 2015 Birthday Teasers Event continues, and today, I am sharing with you a never seen before excerpt from the upcoming fourth book in the Lost and Found series by the super-talented Nicole Williams, featuring one of my all-time favourite book boyfriends: Garth Black. The sequel to Finders Keepers and the continuation to Garth Black’s story, Losers Weepers is expected on 24 February 2015. And if you scroll all the way down to the bottom of the post, you can enter to win a signed set of both Finders Keepers and Losers Weepers!! ♥

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If we didn’t know darkness, we couldn’t fully appreciate the light.

Garth Black’s more familiar with this concept than most people are. He hadn’t just lived in the dark for the majority of his life—he thrived in it. With a mom who’d bailed on him and a dad whose understanding of coddling started and ended with a bottle of whiskey, Garth had never been expected to rise to any sort of occasion other than following down the same dead-end paths.

That changed when he fell in love with Josie Gibson. After years of pulling each other closer before shoving the other way, they finally stopped shoving. Josie’s love is like nothing Garth’s ever experienced. He holds it close. He holds it sacred. He would do anything to preserve it and keep it from pollution, even if that means removing himself from the picture.

Garth might have been allowed a temporary furlough to bask in the light, but that pass has been revoked, and he’s been swallowed again by the dark. Will he revert to his old ways of hurting those he cares for most? Will he go back to the same destructive patterns . . . or will it be worse this time?

We can’t know light without first knowing dark . . . and Garth Black’s about to get acquainted with the dark in a whole new way.

excerpt

It was getting close to being my turn to ride, but I liked to wait until the last possible moment to make my way to the chute and the bull. I liked taking my time and running the dirt through my fingers before I got sucked into the adrenaline vortex that resided within a fifty-foot radius of the chutes.

Crouching, I cupped a handful of dirt from the arena and felt the weight of it. This past year, I’d spent more time riding indoors than outdoors, which meant I’d “arrived” in the bull riding world. It seemed kind of backward to me that when a rider made it big, he started spending more of his time indoors than out, but that was the way it worked. The soil in the indoor arenas had taken some getting used to. Don’t get me wrong, it was still dirt, but it had a different feel. It was heavier, grittier almost. Like every grain of dirt was vying to get its own attention. It was darker too.

After spending long summers riding outdoors, where the dirt got dry and hard in August, or spending plenty of time in the red soil of eastern Montana, the dark, thick indoor soil had been as foreign as the bright lights and giant crowds. After a few months, I’d gotten used to it. The bright lights and giant crowds at least. The soil still felt wrong, but I couldn’t let rituals die just because the dirt felt strange.

I was sifting the last of it through my fingers when I heard someone come up behind me. I knew who it was without looking. Before I knew it, I was smiling . . . and I wasn’t supposed to be the goddamned smiling idiot.

“There’s a rumor going around that Garth Black is signing women’s bras at the end of the rider’s hallway.”

The last of the soil slipped through my fingers. “You know what a rumor is, right?”

“A half truth.”

I lifted myself up, fighting every instinct to whirl around and wrestle her into my arms. The other thing I didn’t know about “realizing” my dreams in the arena was that it meant spending plenty of nights in roadside hotels and waking up to a cold bed. Being away from Joze so much was the worst part of it, but a bull rider’s career only lasted a few years. My plan was to win as many competitions and cash as many checks as I could before I was either forced or broken enough to retire. Then I’d spend the rest of my life crawling into bed beside the woman I loved. If I made the same kind of money for the next couple years that I had this past year, we’d be all set to remodel the old farmhouse we’d purchased last summer and purchase the thousand acres around the house to raise cattle on. That was our goal. The guy who’d wanted nothing better than riding bulls and winning buckles wanted to retire as a cattle rancher. Go figure.

“Are you asking me or accusing me?” I tilted my head back just enough to see her silhouette behind me.

Josie’s hand flew to her hip, making my smile stretch. She was about as jealous a girlfriend as she was a prim and proper one, but she was up to something.

“Neither,” she answered, moving closer. “I came to get my own Garth Black autograph . . . right here.”

The coy act was over. Whipping around, I found Josie unbuttoning the top couple buttons of her shirt and pulling it down to reveal the top of her bra.

“Joze,” I warned, looking around and ready to prod any wandering, gaping, or otherwise inappropriate looking eyes.

“Come on. I want an autograph.” She fingered the top ridge of her bra, playing with it. My throat went dry. “With the way he’s been riding this past year, an official Garth Black autographed bra should fetch me at least a few hundred bucks on eBay.”

I feigned a look of insult. “A few hundred? Try a few thousand.”

She smiled, continuing to play with the cup of her bra. “That’s nice . . . but sign my bra already. Before I’m forced to get physical with you.” She wet her lips, slowly and deliberately, as she moved closer.

Shit. I was supposed to be focusing on my ride and doing the whole visualization thing, but the only thing I was visualizing was Josie’s bra and the rest of her clothing winding up in a pile at her feet.

“Now why would I give you your autograph with that threat on the table?” My boots couldn’t stay where they were any longer. I found myself moving toward her without making a conscious decision.

When my arms were about to ring around her waist, she pulled a pen from her pocket and lifted it in front of my face. “My autograph,” she said in a firm voice, tapping the lace of her bra with her finger. “Now.”

I took the pen and pulled the cap off with my teeth. “I can’t say no to my biggest fan, now can I?”

Josie’s eyes held mine as she raised an eyebrow. “Saying no isn’t exactly your strong suit when it comes to me.”

A crooked smile slid into place as I dropped the tip of the pen to her chest. “No, it isn’t.”

Signing a girl’s bra is harder than a guy might like to believe. The unevenness of the lace, matched with the knowledge of what that material is covering or, depending on the style, just barely covering, makes focusing on signing one’s name legibly and correctly next to impossible.

“Oops,” I said as I finished signing my last name on her skin. It may or may not have been done intentionally.

Josie gave me a look, knowing every bit how intentional it had been. “So? How did it compare?”

I capped the pen and handed it back to her, admiring my autograph . . . or admiring the spot where it was. My handwriting was sloppy as hell and looked more like a middle schooler’s graffiti than a grown man’s signature. “How did what compare?”

“Signing your girlfriend’s bra next to signing the rest of those”—Josie cleared her throat to substitute the word, or string of words, she’d been considering—“bras?”

My brows were nearly hidden beneath the brim of my hat, so she couldn’t see them pull together. “There is no comparison.”

She smiled at where I’d signed my name, tracing the letters of my last name with her finger. I realized just how perfect this moment was for pulling out the ring in my back pocket. I had planned on waiting until after the competition, when I’d had a shower and was in fresh clothes, and doing it over a fancy dinner with a fancy bottle of champagne, but this was the moment. I knew it. She was with me for the first time in three weeks, and she was smiling at my last name scribbled on her body—the same last name I was hoping with everything I had left to hope with that she’d want to make her own one day.

I might have had a plan for how I wanted to propose, but life was meant to be spontaneous. The same went for engagements.

“Have you been working on that ‘there is no comparison’ answer for a while, Black?” She finished tracing the K before lifting her eyes to mine. “Because it was a good one. I guess since I’ve hardly seen you for a solid twenty-four hours this past month, you’ve had plenty of time to work on it.”

I patted my back pocket for the hundredth time. It was still there. I didn’t know where I thought it would go—it wasn’t like an inanimate object could just hop out of my pocket and bounce out of the arena. “Joze, when I said there was no comparison, I meant that in both the literal and figurative way.”

She lifted an impressed brow. She liked it when I talked as though I used my brain for more than just a cushion when I landed headfirst after being thrown from the back of a two-thousand-pound animal.

“Your bra-slash-chest”—my eyes lowered to my name and everything around it—“correction, your perfect chest, is the first one I’ve ever autographed, so there is, literally, no comparison.” When her forehead started to crease, I continued. “But even if I had signed all of those bras you’ve heard from the rumors I have—even if I’d signed millions—there would be, figuratively, no comparison whatsoever. None.”

She was fighting to keep that stern expression, but it was close to slipping. Joze was a champ at giving me a hard time and making me walk a fine line, but she could never stay upset at me, for real or pretend, when I was layering on the good lines.

“Let’s get a bit more figurative with this whole thing then.” Her gaze dropped to her chest, her finger hooking under the clasp at the center of her bra.

My gaze followed hers.

“Let’s fast forward thirty years, or copious amounts of tanning without sunscreen and bouncing up and down stairs without a bra . . . can you still say there’d be no comparison?” I was opening my mouth to reply when she added, “And look me in the eye while you answer?”

I tipped my hat back just enough she could get a good look at my eyes. Since we were kids, Josie had been able to call out my lies just by taking one good look into my eyes—that was why I’d avoided letting them drift her way for a good portion of our lives—but I didn’t divert them anymore. Not even when she was asking a hard question, and with a history like mine, there was no shortage of difficult questions to ask and answer.

I had to work to keep my face straight before I let myself say one word. “That’s what lots of money and a skilled surgeon are for, so yeah, I can answer that even thirty years from now, with all of that sun . . . bouncing . . . stuff, there will still be no comparison.” I worked my tongue into my cheek when she crossed her arms. “Post operative, of course.”

Her arms crossed tighter. “You drew VooDoo, right? I’m going to go have a little chat with him and request that he drive one or both of his horns into your ass after you give the eight-second ride of your life.”

Josie started toward where the bulls were being sorted into the chutes before I grabbed her hand. I couldn’t let her go one more step without asking my question. I couldn’t let myself go one more step without knowing her answer.

Sure, we’d purchased the old farmhouse together and talked as though we would live and die together, but the actual topic of marriage hadn’t been discussed. I guessed she wasn’t against the concept, but my palms were still breaking out in a sweat and my heart was thudding so powerfully, I could practically feel it vibrating against my chest armor.

“Joze, wait.” I tugged on her hand to bring her back. “I’ve got to ask you something before you go ask VooDoo to pierce my backside.” I peaked a brow at her as I slipped my hand into my back pocket.

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Lost and Found – Reading Order and Purchase Links
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NearandFar_322x500
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Lost and FoundMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Near and FarMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Finders KeepersMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Losers WeepersMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Heart and Soul: coming 16 Jun 2015…

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EXCLUSIVE COVER REVEAL: Losers Weepers by Nicole Williams

Garth Black, that dark, troubled cowboy who stole our hearts in Finders Keepers is getting another book!!! We saw him battle his past, allow himself to succumb to his feelings for the only girl who broke through his snarky facade…but his story is not over. I am so honoured to be able to share with you the title, cover, blurb and release date of the fourth book in the Lost and Found series!! Feast your eyes on Losers Weepers… ♥

Expected release date: 24 February 2015

LosersWeepers

If we didn’t know darkness, we couldn’t fully appreciate the light.

Garth Black’s more familiar with this concept than most people are. He hadn’t just lived in the dark for the majority of his life—he thrived in it. With a mom who’d bailed on him and a dad whose understanding of coddling started and ended with a bottle of whiskey, Garth had never been expected to rise to any sort of occasion other than following down the same dead-end paths.

That changed when he fell in love with Josie Gibson. After years of pulling each other closer before shoving the other way, they finally stopped shoving. Josie’s love is like nothing Garth’s ever experienced. He holds it close. He holds it sacred. He would do anything to preserve it and keep it from pollution, even if that means removing himself from the picture.

Garth might have been allowed a temporary furlough to bask in the light, but that pass has been revoked, and he’s been swallowed again by the dark. Will he revert to his old ways of hurting those he cares for most? Will he go back to the same destructive patterns . . . or will it be worse this time?

We can’t know light without first knowing dark . . . and Garth Black’s about to get acquainted with the dark in a whole new way.

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Buy book: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback

✦ ✦ ✦
Lost and Found – Reading Order and Purchase Links
lostandfound_322x500
NearandFar_322x500
finderskeepers_322x500
LosersWeepers
heartandsoul

Lost and FoundMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Near and FarMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Finders KeepersMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Losers WeepersMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Heart and Soul: coming 16 Jun 2015…

Connect with author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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BOOK REVIEW: Three Brothers by Nicole Williams

threebrothers

I grew up with three brothers. They weren’t tied to me by blood, but our connection went beyond genetics or bearing the same last name. Our connection was forged the summer I turned thirteen, the summer my mom ended her life and left me in the custody of John Armstrong, a man I’d never met. Packing all I owned in a couple of boxes, I left the familiarity of the big city and headed west to Red Mountain Ranch, set in a lonely valley outside of Jackson Hole.

Nothing was as it seemed at Red Mountain—it didn’t take long for me to figure that out. John was kind to me but distant, as if he was afraid to let anyone get too close. His three teenage sons had their own devices for keeping love as far away as they could. The eldest distracted himself with cheap relationships that had a shelf-life of one night. The middle son threw himself into the rigor of running a ranch, and the third wielded cruelty and mind-games in his quest to keep people from getting close.

Time has gone by, and I’ve spent those years trying to forget the brother I’d fallen for—the biggest mistake of my life.

Finally, I’ve moved on. Finally, I’m back. But what I didn’t realize was that running away from the wrong brother meant I’d also run away from the right one. The one who’d been there for me all along, waiting in his brother’s shadow for the day I either would or could move on.

But a decade is a long time to wait. Has the brother I should have chosen all of those years ago moved on too? Am I about to discover that my biggest mistake wasn’t falling in love with the wrong brother, but failing to return the love of the right one sooner?

Does unrequited love have an expiration date?

I’m about to find out.

review

“There is no one better for me than you. There never has been, and there never will be.”

As someone who reads so avidly and is constantly seeking that next great story, that next unforgettable journey to hold me captive and overwhelm me emotionally, I am getting pickier and pickier the more books I read, and it takes more now than it used to for a story to rock my world and make me swoon over every word in it. But there are some authors who never fail to do just that, time and time again, their powerful prose never disappointing, and their stories always making me feel so much, and always in such different ways. This is one of those extraordinary books. A timeless tale, a tale in which powerful themes are approached with subtlety and sensitivity, a tale in which even the most understated of scenes has the ability to fill us to the brim with emotions, and while the deliberately unhurried pace of this story might not be everyone’s cup of tea, I personally needed it to be just as it is because it ensured that every message took root, that every life lesson got heard, and that every single deeper meaning was conveyed just right. I fell in love with these characters, so much that I never wanted to part with them, but even more than that, I fell in love with a touching story of love, loss, courage and forgiveness, a story that made my heart smile cover to cover.

“I’d spent more time away from that place than I’d spent there, but I’d learned that some places and people leave a deeper impression than others, regardless of time.”

Scout is a young woman in her mid twenties who has spent seven years of her young life running away from a place that made her the person she is today. A place filled with memories, both good and bad, she has allowed her heartbreak to keep her away from the only place she calls home, and from the only people in her life that she considers family. But when a tragic turn of events takes her back to that very place, Scout is forced to confront old demons while rekindling bonds that never should have been severed in the first place.

“I’d let one person and the memories of him keep me from this place for seven years. I’d never make that mistake again.”

Scout grew up with the three Armstrong brothers by having spent five of her most impressionable teen years living under the same roof, raised by the same man and treated as one of them, but she forged very different ties with each of the brothers, their differing personalities reflecting the type of relationship she formed with them—a loving best friend, a playful older brother, and an unrequited teenage crush. But when she returns to Red Mountain Ranch after seven years of absence, nothing is as it once was. And where once there was life and joy, now there is only despair and bereavement haunting the halls of her old childhood home.

“Life was heightened on those thousands on acres, and no one who entered its boundaries was exempt. The highs of life were higher, but the lows followed the same pattern, and in my experience, the lows outweighed the highs at Red Mountain.”

Taken aback by all the changes, Scout is forced to confront all that she has left behind, and the very reasons that drove her away from a place she loves so dearly. She is no longer the vulnerable young girl whose heart led her astray, and the Armstrong brother whose past actions have troubled her for so long no longer has the same power over her. Amidst past and present heartache, Scout has to finally recognise her unhealthy obsession for what it once was and allow her heart to see what had been in front of her all along.

“What I wanted to give and wanted to feel wasn’t hiding in the darkness… it had been in plain sight the whole time.”

But love is the very thing that the Armstrong men fear the most, and sometimes finding the love of your life does not necessarily mean you are allowed to keep it too. Especially when old family secrets are thrown into the mix.

A beautiful and at times heart-shattering story about learning to live life to the fullest, fearing nothing, not even death, and living it with no regrets, the entire story is akin to a nostalgic trip down memory lane, evocative of an old-fashioned world where life was simpler, more predictable, and where human bonds and their connection to the land they lived on formed the essence of a person’s life. With great finesse and unquestionable sophistication, Ms Williams has gifted us with a tale to make us reflect, to stop us in our tracks and make us evaluate our own life’s journey. This is not a story about the highs and lows of one’s life—this is the story about the space in between, the simple joys, the important joys, the daily joys, and about learning to appreciate and celebrate every last one of them.

“You make life fun, not matter what we’re doing. I wake up with a smile, even if the first thing on my list is scouring through a pile of cow crap to see why one of them’s sick, because I know you’re here. I know I’ll get to see you when you show up and chore the say away with me.”

4halfstars

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COVER REVEAL: Damaged Goods by Nicole Williams

I pretty much adore every single word Nicole Williams has ever written and I am so excited that she has a new series in the works!!! The first book in The Outsider Chronicles, Hard Knox, is already available and, today, I have the great pleasure of sharing with you the cover of the second book in the series—Damages Goods. Please note that each book highlights a different couple and they can all be read as standalone novels…. ♥

Expected release date: 9 September 2014

DamagedGoods

When Liv Bennett said good-bye to her sinkhole of a hometown, she planned to leave that chapter of her life behind forever. But forever turned out to only be three years.

After her addict of a mother up and disappears, Liv returns to what she considers her own personal hell smack in the middle of nowhere Nevada to take care of her two younger sisters, and she promptly reinstitutes the golden rule that got her through her first nineteen years of life without getting knocked up, roughed up, or messed up: don’t date the local boys and, god forbid, don’t fall in love with one of them.

It isn’t long before that golden rule is put to the test.

Will Goods grew up in the next trailer over, but the wild, careless boy who used to tear up the town with his three brothers has morphed into someone else so completely, he’s almost unrecognizable. The quiet, contemplative man who works on cars every night and takes care of his mentally ill mother every day is nothing like the local boys Liv grew up avoiding.

But when Liv considers suspending her golden rule just this once, she finds out something about Will that will change everything.

Will Goods isn’t who he used to be—he’s not even the man Liv thinks she’s gotten to know over the summer. He’s become someone else entirely.

He’s become . . .

Damaged Goods.

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The Outsider Chronicles – Recommended Reading Order
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Hard KnoxAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Damaged GoodsAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA (9 Sep 2014)

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The Author

Nicole is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of the Crash series, Lost & Found series, Up in Flames, The Eden Trilogy, and a handful of others. She writes stories about everyday kinds of people who find themselves in extraordinary kinds of situations. She tells love stories with happy endings because she believes in making the world a better place, and that’s one tiny way she can make it so. She’s one of those people who still believes in true love and soul mates, and would rather keep her head in the clouds any day over having her feet firmly on the ground.

Connect with Nicole: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
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BOOK REVIEW: Finders Keepers by Nicole Williams

finderskeepers_322x500

There’s tortured. And there’s Garth Black.

His life has been a constant carousel of tragedy and disappointment, including his love life. Of course, applying the term “love” to Garth’s conquests is a gross misuse of the word. Some people were made to give and accept love, and others weren’t. Garth Black redefines the “others” category. He’s made a vow that the day he meets a woman who could sucker him into falling in love will be the day he runs away.

Garth’s plan has one flaw. What happens when he’s already fallen hard for a girl before the warning signs and red flags go up? What happens when the love he’s avoided his entire life brings him to his knees? What happens when Garth Black lets the dirtiest four letter word he’s ever known into his dark, lonely life?

This cowboy’s about to find out he can control some things, and he can’t control others. Number one on the what he can’t control list?

Love.

review

“Don’t love me. You get to choose who you love, so please… please don’t waste it on me.”

If you had asked me a few months ago who my all-time favourite cowboy was, I would have said “Jesse Walker” in a heartbeat. That boy was the perfect combination of sweet and sexy, cheerful but profound, and this coupled with his innate ability to love others fiercely and selflessly, made him one of my favourite book boyfriends ever. But even while I was panting after Jesse, another cowboy caught my attention – a darker, more troubled one, whose smart mouth and careless attitude were clearly masking a bleeding heart under his tough façade. That cowboy was Jesse Walker’s best friend and this is finally his book.

“It didn’t matter what age I was or how much I thought I loved the woman. Marriage, rings, and vows were not created with people like me in mind.”

Garth Black has lived the kind of loveless childhood nightmares are made of. Having been neglected and physically abused by his only parent since he was born, never shown an ounce of affection or affirmation in his life, he has grown into a jaded young man who believes himself to be a bad seed unworthy of being loved. He is sarcastic, short-tempered and inherently self-destructive, making it very difficult for others to care for him or enjoy being around him. Except for his two best and only friends in the world who have always seen past his reckless pretences, never cared about his upbringing or his family’s lack of social standing, and who also happen to be the only two people that Garth has ever cared for. And he’s also secretly loved one of them since he was five years old.

“My childhood friend, my adolescent secret obsession, my biggest mistake.”

But as deep as his feelings are for his friend, Garth has never admitted this to himself or to her. He succumbed to his feelings for her only once in his life, one regretful drunken night of lowered inhibitions and frenzied passion, which cost him both his best friends for a long time after that.

“Why don’t you stop pretending to be the hero and own what you really are? The villain. Go villainize someone else’s life. You couldn’t possibly do anymore to mine.”

This book starts with a heartbreaking event in Garth’s life, leaving him homeless and alone in the world, and in the unexpected care of the very woman he won’t allow himself to love. But she is not only the only woman he dreams of, she is his true match, equally quick-tempered and stubborn, always seeing through his impassive acts and this time around determined to never allow him to push her away again. Never having had anyone concerned about his wellbeing before, or anyone who cared for him enough to put his happiness first, Garth is in unfamiliar territory when his best friend starts slowly dismantling his defences. Her persistent affection and faith in him are his undoing, and soon she makes him believe that they might have a chance at happiness after all. She shows him a different way of perceiving the world around him, one that is not all-consumingly negative and destructive, giving him hope that a man like him could love and be loved by a woman like her.

“It doesn’t have to be Garth Black against the whole world…”

She makes him question everything his dysfunctional childhood has taught him, his warped sense of right and wrong, his rejection of all social norms and behaviours, and for the first time in his life, Garth is happy. But a lifetime of self-doubt and self-hatred is hard to ignore when the world is determined to push you back down, and for Garth it is easier to believe that he will always be unworthy of his beloved’s love than that he finally deserves someone like her in his life. Or that he has anything in him to offer to her.

“How could I be what was best for her when I didn’t even know what was best for myself? How could I love her the way she deserved to be loved when my parents hadn’t shown me an ounce of it?”

A tale of learning to fight for what you want most in life and breaking a cycle of self-destruction and hatred of the world around you, this is a book that broke me, gutted me, made me mama bear and cowboy groupie all rolled into one. Garth’s self-doubting tendencies arising from a continuous lack of parental encouragement in his life made me so very protective of him and incredibly invested in his happiness. His leading lady was a force to be reckoned with, her strength of character and loving determination made me smile at their every interaction, not to mention swoon at the palpable chemistry between them. Without any explicit level of detail, Ms Williams manages to make our hearts race from mere acts of hand-holding or spooning in bed. I was having palpitations from sheer kissing scenes! Somehow, the level of emotion between these characters is more than enough to make us feel satisfied on all fronts, dreamy-eyed from beginning to end. I loved this book something fierce, and I knew, just KNEW this smartass cowboy would end up stealing my heart.

“I wasn’t the guy who fell in love with you this past winter… I was the boy who fell in love with you that day on the school bus when we were five. And I’m the man that always will.”

5stars

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Lost and Found – Reading Order and Purchase Links
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NearandFar_322x500
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LosersWeepers
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Lost and FoundMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Near and FarMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Finders KeepersMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Losers WeepersAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Heart and Soul: coming 16 Jun 2015…

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EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: Finders Keepers by Nicole Williams

Three more days and we will be finding out which girl stole our dark cowboy’s lonely little heart!!!! From the moment I met Garth Black in Lost and Found, I knew, i just KNEW there was something very special about this boy, but let me tell you something after reading this beautiful book… he truly is a keeper!! My review will be posted in the next few days, but in the meantime, enjoy this delicious little taste of Finders Keepers

Expected release date: 16 September 2013

finderskeepers_322x500

There’s tortured. And there’s Garth Black.

His life has been a constant carousel of tragedy and disappointment, including his love life. Of course, applying the term “love” to Garth’s conquests is a gross misuse of the word. Some people were made to give and accept love, and others weren’t. Garth Black redefines the “others” category. He’s made a vow that the day he meets a woman who could sucker him into falling in love will be the day he runs away.

Garth’s plan has one flaw. What happens when he’s already fallen hard for a girl before the warning signs and red flags go up? What happens when the love he’s avoided his entire life brings him to his knees? What happens when Garth Black lets the dirtiest four letter word he’s ever known into his dark, lonely life?

This cowboy’s about to find out he can control some things, and he can’t control others. Number one on the what he can’t control list?

Love.

excerpt

When a pillow hit the back of my head, I turned around. Changing time must be over if her hands were free to throw a pillow at me. When I saw her, my mouth almost fell open. “I thought you said you were changing into pajamas.”

She glanced down and lifted her arms. “These are pajamas.”

“Really? Because from a male’s point of view, that’s lingerie. Pajamas are, you know, the flannel, frumpy things that cover lots of skin that old ladies wear.” Shit, I was trying so hard not to check her out, but it was impossible. A man could have held a knife to my throat and told me to stop looking at her or die, and I would have been a dead man two seconds later.

She gave me an amused look as she finished tossing the mountain of pillows off of her bed. “I’ll keep that in mind. When I’m an old woman. But right now, I like this kind of pajamas.”

Yeah, I liked them too.

Flipping her hair forward, she worked it into a ponytail before flicking off the light switch. “I thought you said you were exhausted. Are you planning on standing there all night?”

If I got to watch her in my new favorite women’s “pajamas,” then hell yes, I would stand there all night. The lights might have been off, but those windows and that moonlight didn’t exactly make it dark.

What in the hell was I thinking? I felt like I’d grown a second consciousness, and the two had declared war on each other. One part of me knew staying away from her was priority number one. The other part of me, the one I wished I could locate so I could radiate it the hell out, wanted to be as close to her as she’d let me get. Those two agendas didn’t align. In fact, they couldn’t have been any more at odds. If one didn’t roll over and die soon, the battle would split me right down the middle.

Threatening both of my subconsiousnesses with a lobotomy if they didn’t shut up, I made my way toward the bed she was already crawling into. It was a relief when she threw the covers on. I grabbed a pillow and threw it on the ground. I was just grabbing the blanket draped on the chair when I heard the bed springs groan.

“What are you doing?” She sat up in bed, watching me like I’d tripped a wire.

“Going to bed,” I answered with a shrug.

“And the reason you’re throwing pillows and blankets on the floor is…?” We were not on the same wavelength apparently.

“Because you’ve got the bed, which means I’ve got the floor.” It was her room, and even if she’d offered me the bed, I wouldn’t let her sleep on the floor. Truthfully, the hardwood floor looked pretty damn close to heaven. It was warm, I had a big fluffy pillow to rest my head on, and the blanket was the softest thing I’d ever felt.

“Since when did you turn into Mr. Chivalrous?” The wire-tripping expression deepened before she patted the space on the bed beside her. “There’s plenty of room. No need to wake up with a stiff neck and back.”

I stared at the empty space. Fuck, if I slept beside her all night, I’d wake up with something else stiff. “Really, the floor’s good.” I slid off my hat and set it on her nightstand.

“Oh, please. Get over it. Just get in and get some sleep already.”

I knew I shouldn’t, but since the invitation had been extended, I couldn’t say no. Tossing the pillow back onto the bed, I peeled off a few layers of clothing and crawled in beside her. Her back was to me, but her shoulders were so stiff I knew she wasn’t asleep. Despite her no-big-deal attitude, could she be just as conscious of me beside her as I was of her beside me? The journey to that answer was a road I couldn’t take. I already knew the ending, and I wouldn’t do that to her. She deserved better, and she deserved a million times better than I could ever give her.

“See? Was that so bad?” she asked, her back still to me.

I slid my hands behind my head and grinned at the ceiling. “No, that wasn’t so bad.”

“Told ya.”

My grin stretched wider. “Oh, and you don’t have to worry about me crawling into your nice clean bed in the same clothes I worked in all day.”

“Why’s that?”

I positioned the blanket just below my navel. “Because I sleep naked.”

“What?!” she hissed, twisting around. As soon as she saw my bare chest, her eyes widened. She shrieked and covered her eyes. By then, I was laughing. I would have been howling if her parents weren’t a mere floor below us. “Garth, please, for the love of god and Montana, please put something on. Anything on.”

In her itty-bitty tank top with her hair in a floppy ponytail and her hands clamped over her eyes… It was the funniest, sexiest sight I’d seen. “Okay, fine. If you’re going to go all prude on me.” Sitting up just enough, I pretended to get up to grab some clothes, but I was watching her without blinking.

A couple moments later, her fingers splayed just enough for me to see her eyes, which meant . . .

I flashed my face in front of hers and winked. “Made you look.”

Her hands dropped from her eyes and went straight to my chest. She shoved me hard enough I almost tipped off the bed. “Nice jeans, asshole.”

I laughed again when she threw herself back down, her back to me again. “Nice sneaking a peek there, Secret Agent. Hoping to catch a glimpse of something?”

She gave an irritated sigh. “Shut up, Black.”

“Why would I do that when it’s so much more fun to tease you?”

“Because you like-slash-love your dick and probably want to keep it.”

“Hold up. Are you threatening the very piece of anatomy you were just hoping to sneak a peek at?” I pulled off my socks, left my jeans in place, and laid back down. She had been checking me out. I was back to grinning at the ceiling.

“My threat’s about to turn into a reality if you don’t zip it and go to sleep like I thought you were dying to do five minutes ago.”

“Come on, it’s no big deal. It’s perfectly natural to want to inspect a fine specimen like myself. I’d be happy to give you the whole show—the full monty—free of charge. But only looking, no touching. Or wait, you prefer peeking, right?” Our endless banter felt good. It took me back to a happier time before things had gotten so complicated between us.

“Sleep now or forever hold your peace, Black.”

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Lost and Found – Reading Order and Purchase Links
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NearandFar_322x500
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LosersWeepers
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Lost and FoundMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Near and FarMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Finders KeepersMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Losers WeepersAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Heart and Soul: coming 16 Jun 2015…

Connect with author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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EXCLUSIVE COVER REVEAL: Finders Keepers by Nicole Williams

This series has been my undoing ever since I read the beautiful Lost and Found, a heartwarming story of a lost young woman named Rowen and her sweet cowboy named Jesse. Their romance got the perfect conclusion in Near and Far, but another troubled cowboy caught my eye very early on in the series and I have been hoping, praying, harassing Ms Williams to give us his story. Well, we are finally getting Garth Black’s book!!!! Feast your eyes on Finders Keepers

Expected release date: 16 September 2013

finderskeepers

There’s tortured. And there’s Garth Black.

His life has been a constant carousel of tragedy and disappointment, including his love life. Of course, applying the term “love” to Garth’s conquests is a gross misuse of the word. Some people were made to give and accept love, and others weren’t. Garth Black redefines the “others” category. He’s made a vow that the day he meets a woman who could sucker him into falling in love will be the day he runs away.

Garth’s plan has one flaw. What happens when he’s already fallen hard for a girl before the warning signs and red flags go up? What happens when the love he’s avoided his entire life brings him to his knees? What happens when Garth Black lets the dirtiest four letter word he’s ever known into his dark, lonely life?

This cowboy’s about to find out he can control some things, and he can’t control others. Number one on the what he can’t control list?

Love.

Buy book: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback

✦ Read an Excerpt ✦

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✦ ✦ ✦
Lost and Found – Reading Order and Purchase Links
lostandfound_322x500
NearandFar_322x500
finderskeepers_322x500
LosersWeepers
heartandsoul

Lost and FoundMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Near and FarMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Finders KeepersMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Losers WeepersAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Heart and Soul: coming 16 Jun 2015…

Connect with author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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Other books in the series or related posts:

BOOK REVIEW: Near and Far by Nicole Williams

NearandFar_322x500There’s optimistic. And there’s Jesse Walker.

If he wasn’t so charming, his sunny disposition and incessant grin would get annoying. Fast.

Falling in love with the girl who had at first seemed immune to it, was the best thing to happen to Jesse since the Walkers adopted him into their family when he was five. But loving the girl who has her fair share of secrets is about as easy as that same girl loving the boy who seems to have none.

As Jesse’s life continues at the ranch, and Rowen begins making her mark in the Seattle art community, they begin to wonder where the middle ground is. Or if there even is one.

As push comes to shove and choices aren’t only needing to be made, but forced to be made, Jesse and Rowen have to face what their lives might look like without the other.

Can two people with such tragic pasts and different presents, go on to expect a promising future? Whatever the answer, they’ll need a lot more than love to make it.

review

“For you, I’m a weak, weak man. I’m so weak for you that you could break me with one word. You could end me with one look. You could ruin me with one touch.”

If you’re looking for a series written with heart, impeccable skill and capable of turning you into a gushing mess over a gentle cowboy whose mere presence on a page will make you grin ear to ear, look no further than the Lost and Found series. Unlike anything else I’ve ever read before, the truly uplifting love story of Rowen and Jesse captured my heart from the very first page and instantly become a favourite of mine.

Although Lost and Found did not end on a nail-biting cliffhanger and it left us in a rather happy place, content with the steady bond these characters managed to forge and the difficulties they rose above, I was ecstatic to have their story continue and to see what other obstacles they would have to overcome both personally as well as a couple. We find them navigating the tricky waters of a long distance relationship, their love and devotion to one another being a constant beacon for their young relationship, but the miles between them and the long periods of time apart keep feeding the demons inside them and making them fearful of losing the one thing they cherish the most in life – each other.

“Loving someone as much as I did Jesse meant the darkness of the world seemed so black I never wanted to walk out the front door. Around every corner was some terror threatening to take away what I held most dear.”

Rowen is now in a new city, pursuing her passion in art and slowly making a name for herself in this new world far away from the only place she ever considered home – Willow Springs. Her love for Jesse grounds her, keeps her from reverting back to the scared and angry little girl that she once was, but knowing he has been and always would be the light at the end of the tunnel she used to live in, makes her constantly fearful of losing him, of him finding someone better than her, almost expecting it to happen sooner or later. She loves him with all her heart, but her self-destructive tendencies resurface at times, convincing her that she would eventually end up destroying the little piece of heaven she has found with Jesse.

“I always knew I would be the one responsible for tearing us apart because that’s what I did and that’s what I was good at. No matter how hard I tried to be something else, something better, I couldn’t keep the destructive part of me fully contained.”

Jesse is secretly fighting his own demons while away from Rowen. His self-control is failing him, nightmares from his childhood have returned and his anxiety and fear of losing the love of his life are rearing their ugly heads at night, when he’s most vulnerable, and torturing him with flashbacks from his abuse-ridden childhood. His mind has equated the fear of losing Rowen to the fear he experienced as a little boy at the hands of two cruel parents, and the more they struggle as a couple with distance and time apart, the more Jesse’s mind turns against itself and convinces him that the woman he adores is better off without someone as unstable as him in her life.

“I don’t want her to know. I don’t want her to be a part of it. I don’t want her near it. I want her as far away from the poison flowing through me as I can keep her.”

Once more, this story makes us feel so many emotions, at both ends of the spectrum, without becoming too dark or too gritty. Jesse’s childhood memories are gruesome, heart-shattering and I needed to take a break while reading them as they were sometimes too hard to bear, but they were necessary if we were to understand this beautiful person, the emotional hardship he had overcome and the miracle of a man he had become given his horrible past. His every smile became that much more precious, his every positive outlook on life that much more awe-inspiring. His selfless heart, his ability to love others unconditionally and need to protect them, shelter them even from himself, made Jesse a sight to behold.

“A woman like her was every man’s dream. A woman who couldn’t be shaken and would stand shoulder to shoulder in the face of a storm. I’d found that kind of woman and, beyond all belief, she loved me. And I had to let her go.”

They both make mistakes in their relationship, purely due to inexperience and their young age, but their love for each other never fades, never gives up, never makes them doubt each other. It’s the one constant in their life they can depend on and eventually the one thing that conquers even the darkest and more vicious of demons from their pasts.

“When Jesse and I were close enough to share the same breath, confusion and uncertainty were distant memories.”

It is impossible for this story not to affect you one way or another. There is such inherent positivity in every word, every concept, every bit of her heart that the author has woven into this beautiful story. Ms Williams has a very unique way of communicating with the reader, making us feel so much, so deeply and so quickly, without using overtly detailed descriptions or wordy scenes. She takes aim with her words and hits the bull’s-eye every single time. She can make you laugh and cry on the same page, and walk away from that same scene with the biggest grin on your face.

“She’s managed to bust free from the weight of her past to get on with her life. She’d grown, evolved, and was setting the world on fire. I, on the other hand, was digressing, shrinking, and setting myself on fire.”

I am selfishly unprepared to say goodbye to these characters and as happy as their ending is, I am hopeful that we will get to see more of them in the future, even through someone else’s story… a cowboy with a proclivity for smartass comments and the colour black, perhaps? Either way, bravo, Ms Williams, and thank you for everything this story has made me feel and for this silly grin that I do not seem to be able to erase from my face. This will always be one of my favourite stories ever and Jesse Walker will forever be my favourite book boyfriend.

“Our priorities aren’t what we say they are. They’re what we show they are.”

5stars

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Buy book: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback

✦ Read an Excerpt ✦

✦ ✦ ✦
Lost and Found – Reading Order and Purchase Links
lostandfound_322x500
NearandFar_322x500
finderskeepers_322x500
LosersWeepers
heartandsoul

Lost and FoundMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Near and FarMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Finders KeepersMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Losers WeepersAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Heart and Soul: coming 16 Jun 2015…

Connect with author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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Other books in the series or related posts:

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: Near and Far by Nicole Williams

The sequel to one of My Favourite Books ever, Lost and Found, is coming out in less than two weeks!!!! Because I know how anxious we all are to see how this beautiful love story will unfold in Near and Far, the lovely Nicole Williams is sharing with us a very special excerpt. Read on, book junkies, and fall in love all over again with Rowen and Jesse…

Expected release date: 30 July 2013

NearandFar_322x500There’s optimistic. And there’s Jesse Walker.

If he wasn’t so charming, his sunny disposition and incessant grin would get annoying. Fast.

Falling in love with the girl who had at first seemed immune to it, was the best thing to happen to Jesse since the Walkers adopted him into their family when he was five. But loving the girl who has her fair share of secrets is about as easy as that same girl loving the boy who seems to have none.

As Jesse’s life continues at the ranch, and Rowen begins making her mark in the Seattle art community, they begin to wonder where the middle ground is. Or if there even is one.

As push comes to shove and choices aren’t only needing to be made, but forced to be made, Jesse and Rowen have to face what their lives might look like without the other.

Can two people with such tragic pasts and different presents, go on to expect a promising future? Whatever the answer, they’ll need a lot more than love to make it.

excerpt

“You kids be good now. I’d hate to win a bet this easily.” Garth winked as we passed him and Jolene.

“You’re not winning another thing tonight, Black. Get that through your dark skull and darker head now.”

Rose was following the girls into the kitchen when Jesse whacked Garth in the stomach. “Go cuss already. You know you’re about to die from keeping-it-all-inside poisoning.”

“Nah, I don’t think so. Tonight’s the first night of the past two weeks I’m actually tickled pink we made that little bet.”

“Tickled pink? What the hell, Black? What has happened to you?” I asked.

Jesse moved his mouth outside my ear. “See? It’s already happening. Talking in little girl words is the first sign he’s about to keel over from poisoning.” Jesse wrapped his arms around my waist and continued for the door. “Come on, Black. Just get it out. It will all be over soon, and I promise, I won’t gloat in my win. Too much.”

Garth made a crude motion with his hand. Jolene cringed and moved away as he continued pumping his fist in front of his crotch. “Take notes, Walker. That’s the only action you’re going to be getting for a while.”

“And that’s our cue to leave.” Jesse guided me the rest of the way onto the porch.

“Good night, Jesse! Thanks so much for taking such good care of me.” Nails on a chalkboard—that’s exactly what Jolene’s words sounded like to me. “See you at breakfast.”

“Night, night, Jolene. Keep that ankle elevated. You wouldn’t want to spend the summer with one nasty cankle,” I replied before Jesse had a chance. “It was really great to meet you.” I knew my sarcasm wasn’t lost on Jesse or Garth, but neither of them let on that my farewell was anything but genuine.

“So great to meet you too, Rowen. Have a nice night.” When a hobbling cast sounded like it was moving our way, I hurried to shut the door.

“Oh, I plan to.” Making sure the door was closed—firmly—I wrapped my arms around Jesse’s waist.

“Plan to what?” He tilted his hat back and leaned in. The look in his eyes made my stomach bottom out.

“Have a nice night. Have the nicest kind of night a girl could have with a guy like you.”

“I like where this is going.”

“You better. Because we’re not going far.” I shoved Jesse until the backs of his legs ran into one of the porch swings. Yep, that would do. It would have to because my need for the man had burst free. Keeping it bottled when he was within arm’s reach was a chore, and it was utterly impossible when we were alone and he graced me with that look. I was straddling his lap before he’d fully collapsed into the swing.

“I really like where you’re going with this.”

Grinning at him, I slid off his hat and wove my fingers into his hair. “I missed you.”

His eyes closed as I massaged his scalp. “Good.”

“Good? You’re glad I missed you so bad I almost skipped class for a few days to hop on a bus just so I could see you for a couple hours before I had to turn around and get back to reality?”

“Yeah, I am glad.”

That was the first time Jesse had admitted to being glad about me being uncomfortable. I had to be missing something. “Why?”

His eyes opened and locked onto mine. “Because, Rowen. Because the day you don’t miss me is the day we’re doomed.”

Jesse’s words never failed to amaze me. He saw everything a bit differently than everyone else . . . but what he saw was so right. “In that case I missed, missed, missed, missed, missed you.” Leaning in, I kissed the tip of his nose.

“And I’ve never been happier to know that you missed, missed, missed me.”

“You missed a couple misses in there.”

Jesse’s smile spread. “So I’m forgiven for not picking you up tonight at the very place we met?”

A Greyhound station smack in the middle of Montana. The place we’d met. It might not have been ideal for most romances, but it was our place, and that trumped everything else. “That depends,” I said before skimming my lips up his jaw.

He shuddered. “Depends on what?”

“On how persuasive you can be?” My mouth moved to the other side of his jaw.

“Oh, I can be persuasive.” His voice was rougher. Rough enough I knew what he wanted to do, which made it that much harder to keep restraining myself.

When my mouth was just outside his ear, I kissed his earlobe. “Show, don’t tell.”

Jesse’s hands formed over my hips as he shifted me into a more suitable position. “Showing.”

His head turned, his mouth searching for mine. When he found it, the weeks of separation and torture of anticipation poured out in one kiss. Jesse expressed his love through his touch, as opposed to the boys before him who had merely used “love” as a justification to touch. When Jesse’s mouth moved with mine, I sensed exactly how he felt about me. It didn’t matter how many times I’d kissed him; I never got used to the magnitude of it. I knew it was something a person never could get used to, so I did my best to enjoy it and be in the moment.

My fingers curled into his shirt and pulled it free of his jeans. His hands slid up my legs, past the hem of my dress. We were on the porch swing, one wall separating us from whoever was still in the kitchen, but getting caught seemed less irresponsible than stopping the ride we were on. I might have actually died from the disappointment if Jesse’s hand had lowered and his lips stopped. So I pressed on, my lips unyielding against his. Just as I was tugging his shirt over his head, the front door swung open.

The figure stepping out onto the porch was enough to freeze us in place. The porch lights flickered back on, and a grin as wide and maniacal as the Joker’s formed on Garth’s face. Shutting the door first, he ambled our way. “Looks like I was about two minutes early to walking in on you losing our bet, Walker.”

I, like the frozen idiot I was, kept Jesse’s shirt three-quarters of the way up his back. Jesse’s hands slid down my legs, out of the “danger zone,” and they paused just above my knees. “Get out of here, Black. Go find someone else to harass. I’m busy.”

“Oh, I can see just how busy you are.” Garth winked at me for a grand total of fifty thousand times. “Carry on. I can wait until morning to be declared the winner.”

He was swaggering his way down the stairs when Jesse called out, “Come on. You and I both know there’s no way you’ve gone two weeks without cussing. It’s impossible for you, Garth.”

“Is it?” Garth paused and cocked a brow. “But enough about me. Let’s talk about you and how it’s a physical impossibility for you to carry out your end of the bet. Especially now that your precious, hot-for-you Rowen is here.” Garth took another long look at Jesse’s and my position, smiled, and headed for his truck. Jesse was mid-groan when Garth whistled. “Might I suggest ice? A large bag of it. Apply directly to the groin area, and that might help with the level of blue your balls are going to get if you consider stopping your johnson mid-game.”

The pieces fell into place about Jesse’s bet when Garth’s truck fired to life. By the time he’d peeled down the driveway, I’d directed as stern a look as I could manage at Jesse. “You made a bet with Garth Black that you could go longer without sex than he could without cussing?”

“Maybe?”

“Maybe?” I screeched. “Maybe? What kind of an answer is that, Jesse Walker?”

Half of Jesse’s face wrinkled. “It seemed safer than an outright yes.”

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Lost and Found – Reading Order and Purchase Links
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NearandFar_322x500
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LosersWeepers
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Lost and FoundMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Near and FarMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Finders KeepersMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Losers WeepersAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Heart and Soul: coming 16 Jun 2015…

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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Up In Flames by Nicole Williams

Being a die-hard fan of Nicole Williams’ writing, I am excited whenever one of her books gets on my book junkie radar. Up in Frames has been quietly gaining a loyal following since its initial release in December 2012 and it is the angst-filled story of a young woman on her journey to find herself. It is being released in paperback format in Australia and the UK with a stunning new cover on 1 August 2013 and today I bring you not only this hot new cover, but also an excerpt to match…

UpInFlames_UKElle Montgomery is a good girl. Born and raised in a small town in Washington State, she’s always done exactly what she’s supposed to and what everyone expects of her. She helps out at the cafe her family owns, and has been dating the pastor’s son, Logan, since she was allowed to go on her first date at sixteen.

Having just graduated from high school, and knowing that Logan wants to put a ring on her finger and get married as soon possible, Elle feels like her life is already mapped out.

Cole Carson’s life couldn’t be more different. An adrenaline junkie, he has worked as a smokejumper for the past three summers, roaming from town to town following the fires. Cole lives his life day to day and dreads the thought of putting down roots or being tied to one person.

Following an awkward, embarrassing first meeting, Elle knows she should keep away from Cole and the feelings he ignites in her. And Cole just can’t help but pursue Elle, the girl who seems immune to his charms.

But as summer heats up, their attraction grows, and as tensions between them run high, Elle and Cole realise that one way or another, they’re going up in flames…

excerpt

I filled my lungs to capacity before slowly letting that breath out through my nose. As soon as I was below the surface, I started to count. The longer I counted, the blacker the water around me got. The farther my body fell below the surface, the colder the water got. Deeper and deeper I sunk until my lungs started to burn. The last of the oxygen was gone after ten seconds.

I pushed past the burn and ignored the fear that clawed at me when the black got opaque around me. I was three seconds away from tying the record. Four seconds away from breaking the record.

Two more seconds down, two more to go. My lungs had gone from that burning feeling to feeling like raw open wounds. I felt myself go a little light headed when something grabbed a hold of me.

I jolted in surprise as a strong arm wound around my middle before I was towed to the surface. The instant my head broke through the water, I gulped in a mouthful of air. The arm wound around me didn’t let me go, and as I took a second gulp of air, I felt a few emotions trickle into my veins: I’d been so close.

So close to breaking my record and this arm and its owner had ruined it.

“What do you think you’re doing?” I gasped, shoving out of the arm’s hold and swimming a few strokes away.

“You’re welcome. Happy I could be of assistance and I’m even happier to have you show your utmost appreciation for saving your life,” a male’s voice replied with a strong dose of sarcasm. It wasn’t a familiar one.

When I’d put some distance between us, I twisted around. His face wasn’t familiar either, but a girl wouldn’t mind getting familiar with that kind of face.

That was, if a girl wasn’t with another guy who was the town’s unofficial crown prince.

“I wasn’t drowning,” I said, biting back the you idiot part. “I was swimming.”

“You were under the surface for over thirty seconds,” he said, swimming closer. I backed away until my feet hit the sandy loam. “I thought you were drowning. What was I supposed to do? Just let you go down without a fight?”

Sinking my feet into the sand, I stood up. “No. You’re supposed to ask a person if they want saving before you go all hero on them.”

Hero boy’s mouth curved up when his eyes drifted south. “Thank God.”

“No, not ‘thank God’ for you interrupting my efforts to break a sinking record,” I snapped back.

“I’m thanking God for something else right now.” The look on his face was one I’m sure God wouldn’t approve of and, if it wasn’t for the way it was making me breathe a little short, I wouldn’t have approved either.

“What are you thanking him for?” I said, ready to get out of the water and leave this stranger, who was both infuriating and appealing at the same time thanks to his own life-saving, god-thanking ways.

That was when I remembered I was swimsuit impaired in waist deep water. A fact that wouldn’t have escaped my mind if it hadn’t been so oxygen deprived.

“Right now,”—one brow arched—“I’m thanking him for cold water.”

I glanced down, already mortified.

Yep. That dreamy look in his eyes and that twisted smile all made sense now. As if my bare boobs weren’t enough, my nipples were on high beams for his viewing pleasure.

I ducked beneath the surface so he had nothing but a neck up view. His expression didn’t change as much as I thought it would. “For someone who can stare like that at a girl’s . . .” I stumbled for the right word to use. I fumbled even more trying to verbalize it.

“Rack?” the grinning boy suggested.

“Chest,” I added with a tight smile. “For someone who can stare at an unsuspecting girl’s chest for half a minute, I wouldn’t take that person to be the thanking God, religious type.”

“I’m not,” he said with a one-shouldered shrug. “But after just witnessing that wonder of the world, I might change my mind.”

I narrowed my eyes. “How long have you been here?”

He swam a little closer, and now I could make out the color of his eyes. A bright greenish-blue that, when paired with his dark hair, tan skin, and the appealing angles of his face, could make a girl weak in the knees even from ten yards back.

That sly smile of his went higher. “Long enough to know that your hair color is natural.”

Despite the cold water, my face heated instantly.

“It’s all right,” he said immediately, lifting his hands above the water. “We were brought into the world naked and it’s a damn shame somewhere along man’s way he felt the need to cover up.” Those eyes of his sparkled. “Because bodies like yours make clothing a real tragedy.”

I knew in some sick, twisted way, he was trying to make me feel better, but I felt worse. My own boyfriend hadn’t seen me naked. Heck, he hadn’t even seen me naked from the waist up, and this smiling stranger had gotten the whole shebang. Not only that, I was uncomfortable with the way he looked at me and the way I felt when he looked at me. Some part of me, and if I was a betting girl I’d put it all on that wild streak, liked the way he looked at me.

Liked it way too much.

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The Author

Nicole Williams_picI’m a wife, a mom, a writer. I started writing because I loved it and I’m still writing because I love it. I write young adult because I still believe in true love, kindred spirits, and happy endings. Here’s to staying young at heart *raises champagne glass* . . . care to join me?

Connect with Nicole: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

EXCLUSIVE COVER REVEAL: Near and Far by Nicole Williams

I am literally jumping up and down from joy, book junkies!!! One of My Favourite Books ever, Lost and Found by the super-talented Nicole Williams, is not only getting a sequel BUT I have the huge honour of showing the cover and blurb to you first!! Lost and Found still makes me grin every time I think of this beautiful book and I cannot tell you how excited I am to read more about Rowen and Jesse. If you are looking for an impeccably written story that will warm your heart from the very first page, trust me, this is the book for you. I give you Near and Far

Expected release date: 30 July 2013

NearandFar

There’s optimistic. And there’s Jesse Walker.

If he wasn’t so charming, his sunny disposition and incessant grin would get annoying. Fast.

Falling in love with the girl who had at first seemed immune to it, was the best thing to happen to Jesse since the Walkers adopted him into their family when he was five. But loving the girl who has her fair share of secrets is about as easy as that same girl loving the boy who seems to have none.

As Jesse’s life continues at the ranch, and Rowen begins making her mark in the Seattle art community, they begin to wonder where the middle ground is. Or if there even is one.

As push comes to shove and choices aren’t only needing to be made, but forced to be made, Jesse and Rowen have to face what their lives might look like without the other.

Can two people with such tragic pasts and different presents, go on to expect a promising future? Whatever the answer, they’ll need a lot more than love to make it.

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✦ ✦ ✦
Lost and Found – Reading Order and Purchase Links
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NearandFar_322x500
finderskeepers_322x500
LosersWeepers
heartandsoul

Lost and FoundMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Near and FarMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Finders KeepersMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Losers WeepersAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Heart and Soul: coming 16 Jun 2015…

Connect with author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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BOOK REVIEW: Lost and Found by Nicole Williams

lostandfound_322x500There’s complicated. And there’s Rowen Sterling.

After numbing pain for the past five years with boys, alcohol, and all-around apathy, she finds herself on a Greyhound bus to nowhere Montana the summer after she graduates high school. Her mom agreed to front the bill to Rowen’s dream art school only if Rowen proves she can work hard and stay out of trouble at Willow Springs Ranch. Cooking breakfast at the crack of dawn for a couple dozen ranch hands and mucking out horse stalls are the last things in the world Rowen wants to spend her summer doing.

Until Jesse Walker saunters into her life wearing a pair of painted-on jeans, a cowboy hat, and a grin that makes something in her chest she’d thought was frozen go boom-boom. Jesse’s like no one else, and certainly nothing like her. He’s the bright and shiny to her dark and jaded.

Rowen knows there’s no happily-ever-after for the golden boy and the rebel girl – happily-right-now is a stretch – so she tries to forget and ignore the boy who makes her feel things she’s not sure she’s ready to feel. But the more she pushes him away, the closer he seems to get. The more she convinces herself she doesn’t care, the harder she falls.

When her dark secrets refuse to stay locked behind the walls she’s kept up for years, Rowen realizes it’s not just everyone else she needs to be honest with. It’s herself.

review

“Sometimes we just have to cut off the dead branches in our life. Sometimes that’s the only way we can keep the tree alive.”

Books like this one are the reason why I love reading. There is nothing more exhilarating than finding a rare gem of a story that holds you captive from beginning to end, makes you smile so much your jaw hurts by the time you turn that last page, and leaves you so delightfully enthralled by the characters, you wish the story never ended. This book quite simply stole my heart.

Rowen is a young woman desperately in need of a wake-up call in life. For the past five years, she has been spiralling down an angry hole of self-destructive behaviour, rebelling against everything and everyone around her. But behind the provocative black clothes, the dark contact lenses and the black lipstick, hides a broken-hearted young girl whose life has hurt and disappointed her so badly, that she has convinced herself not to expect anything but further pain.

“Instead of trying to get to the bottom of why her daughter was floundering through life, she sent me off to ranch boot camp to “prove” myself worthy of art school.”

After being shipped off by her emotionless mother to a ranch in the middle of nowhere with the directive to prove herself as responsible, hardworking and worthy of trust, Rowen finds herself sticking out like a sore thumb in wholesome countryside Montana. But for the first time in her young life, instead of fingers being pointed at her and being labelled a freak, people are actually taking their time to get to know her and seeing past her appearance. From barely having a parent who never showed her any love to suddenly being part of a large family where small demonstrations of love are a daily occurrence, Rowen is truly out of her element.

“Every morning we get a chance to be different. A chance to change. A chance to be better. Your past is your past. Leave it there. Get on with the future part, honey.”

At this point I think there should be a drumroll or some trumpet playing somewhere because lo and behold, prepare your hearts for the divine Mr Jesse Walker! Jesse is the ranch owner’s son and he is nothing like the guys Rowen is normally attracted to. He is cheerful, positive, affectionate, he pays her compliments and asks nothing in return, and he seems to see the person she so desperately tries to hide. The more she pushes him away, the more he gently pursues her, with nothing more than kindness and understanding. And a heart-melting smile.

“Why don’t you want to know that I like you, Rowen? Why don’t you want me to tell you I’m so damn attracted to you, I almost don’t trust myself to be alone with you like we are right now? Why don’t you want to know that I care about you so much…?”

Once her walls start crumbling and one very delicious cowboy gets under her skin, Rowen begins her journey of self-discovery.

“…when I looked into those eyes of his that saw everything, those eyes that saw me, I knew the fight would be worth it. The struggle to let him in when I wanted to barricade the windows and lower the gates would be a battle I’d never regret fighting.”

What is possibly one of the most enchanting and heart-warming romances I have read in a very long time, this is as much of a love story as it is a beautifully written and flawlessly developed tale of finding oneself and accepting that life is not just a string of negatives. Rowen is a complex character – her past has made her emotionally weary and afraid to let herself accept affection from others. She is hungry for it, starved for even the smallest sliver of unconditional love, but she has also been programmed to believe that she is unworthy of the kind of love Jesse is offering her. She perceives him as a ray of sunshine that her hang-ups would only end up clouding, but she ultimately fights their connection because she sees herself as undeserving to be loved, something her mother had ingrained into her with continuous neglect and grave lack of positive affirmations.

“You think you deserve this. You think you deserve to be alone and suffer. You’ve convinced yourself you’re so worthless that you’ve gone to the extreme to punish yourself. You think you deserve a life of misery.”

We watch the romance between Jesse and Rowen take root, blossom, weather the storms, as this young woman finds herself and learns that every woman deserves to have a ‘Jesse’ in her life. There is something very special in the way Nicole Williams gives her characters ‘life’, it is evident that they come from her heart and she somehow makes us love even the most imperfect of them.

It has been two days since I finished reading this book and my heart is still bursting at the seams!! A stunning book with a positive message – it was just what I needed, it was totally not what I expected, and it was simply perfect.

“We all want to open up to someone, Rowen. The hard part is finding someone we trust enough to open up to. That person we’re not afraid to let into the darkest parts of our world.”

5stars

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Lost and Found – Reading Order and Purchase Links
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NearandFar_322x500
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LosersWeepers
heartandsoul

Lost and FoundMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Near and FarMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Finders KeepersMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Losers WeepersAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Heart and Soul: coming 16 Jun 2015…

Connect with author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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COVER REVEAL: Lost and Found by Nicole Williams

Another exciting new release coming to us from the talented hands of Nicole Williams!!! Did someone say “cowboy”?? I give you the cover of a book I am simply dying to read, Lost and Found, and make sure you check the exclusive excerpt that Nicole shared with us a few months ago…

Expected release date: 7 May 2013

lostandfound

There’s complicated. And there’s Rowen Sterling.

After numbing pain for the past five years with boys, alcohol, and all-around apathy, she finds herself on a Greyhound bus to nowhere Montana the summer after she graduates high school. Her mom agreed to front the bill to Rowen’s dream art school only if Rowen proves she can work hard and stay out of trouble at Willow Springs Ranch. Cooking breakfast at the crack of dawn for a couple dozen ranch hands and mucking out horse stalls are the last things in the world Rowen wants to spend her summer doing.

Until Jesse Walker saunters into her life wearing a pair of painted-on jeans, a cowboy hat, and a grin that makes something in her chest she’d thought was frozen go boom-boom. Jesse’s like no one else, and certainly nothing like her. He’s the bright and shiny to her dark and jaded.

Rowen knows there’s no happily-ever-after for the golden boy and the rebel girl—happily-right-now is a stretch—so she tries to forget and ignore the boy who makes her feel things she’s not sure she’s ready to feel. But the more she pushes him away, the closer he seems to get. The more she convinces herself she doesn’t care, the harder she falls.

When her dark secrets refuse to stay locked behind the walls she’s kept up for years, Rowen realizes it’s not just everyone else she needs to be honest with. It’s herself.

addtogoodreads

Buy book: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback

✦ Read an Excerpt ✦

✦ ✦ ✦
Lost and Found – Reading Order and Purchase Links
lostandfound_322x500
NearandFar_322x500
finderskeepers_322x500
LosersWeepers
heartandsoul

Lost and FoundMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Near and FarMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Finders KeepersMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Losers WeepersAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Heart and Soul: coming 16 Jun 2015…

Connect with author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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lostandfound_jacket

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